DISCLAIMER: Rizzoli & Isles and its characters are the property of Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro and TNT television network. The title comes from Rogers & Hart's 'Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered'.
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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"Would it bother you?"
"Would it bother you-" Maura Isles repeated slowly, the words deliberate and halting "-if I were attracted to you?"
Jane looked across the booth at Maura, whose eyes were intently focused on a chip on base of her wine glass. Jane took a swig of her beer and peered over the bottle at the woman across from her and tried to chart how the conversation progressed from the Sox game they had just came back from to the nuances of beer nuts vs pretzels and if they stuck a candle in either, would it count as a cake for Isles' birthday to...to...this.
"Are you?" Jane asked, her voice controlled, lowering her eyes towards her beer bottle, fiddling with the edge of the label.
"Would it bother you Jane?" Maura asked, raising her eyes towards the brunette sitting across from her who was trying desperately NOT to look at her.
"No, no, it wouldn't bother me - I mean, why would it? I'm straight."
"Congratulations." Maura slipped some cash out of her purse and placed it under her wine glass.
"So are you, right?"
"Good night Jane." Isles stood up and slipped into her jacket and made her way out of the bar.
The wind outside was jarring and cold - so different from the warm breezes of this afternoon - it was just what she needed to revive her. She wasn't sure what she just did in there. Until recently she had never been anything but straight...ish, aside from a few misread signals from women in college eager to experiment and who saw her general social discomfort as symptomatic of her latent homosexuality. Except it wasn't. It really wasn't anything more than general social discomfort. But lately the jokes Jane would throw out, about sleepovers and 'types' coupled with the reactions Maura felt when her skin would brush Jane's when they sat too close together (or the fact that they did sit too close entirely too often) began to chafe Isles like a new pair of shoes. She wrapped her jacket tighter and crossed the street towards the parking lot.
"Isles! Isles!" Jane called out as she trotted behind her in nothing more than the thin jersey and shorts she wore to the game, catching up to her friend in the parking lot. "I'm sorry!"
"I don't like being teased," Maura revealed quietly, shivering where she stood, averting her eyes from Jane's. "And you like doing that. You like to tease me."
"It's not -"
"I know." Jane repeated, cutting her off, "It's just that you kind of threw me for a loop! I mean, look at you! And I know that doesn't mean anything - but I've seen you flirt with men over a corpse, Maura. So what, are you like 'gay' gay or am I just THAT stunningly beautiful and feminine that -"
"Sexuality is scalable, it isn't binary Jane. It's not 0 or 1 -"
"It is for me." Rizzoli stated as easily as she'd state that the sky was blue and the Sox were, are and will always be better than the Yankees.
"So," Maura stepped closer towards Jane, taking slight comfort in the warmth and shelter that the taller woman's body provided. "You're saying you never noticed a woman in the way you noticed a man?" Isles pressed her lips together as she waited for an answer, steeling herself against the penetrating gaze of the brunette. Jane tried to peer behind the challenge that lay in her friends eyes, trying to get to the true direction of this line of questioning. With Maura Isles, she was never sure of the motivation of her actions - as it was, she didn't say if she was gay, or whatever, or even attracted to Jane - it could be exploratory questioning, social experimentation or a personal confession. Either way, it was a land mine of emotions and she was going to have to tread carefully. And she was cold. Really damned cold. Too cold to deal with this crap. "Come on Maura, let's just go back inside, I'll buy you another beer..." Jane cocked her head towards the bar, shoving her hands in her pockets.
"I was drinking wine. And not until you answer my question." Maura seemed rooted to her very spot in the parking lot - the parking lot with the potholes and ancient orange streetlights and the faded graffiti on the walls - and if Jane Rizzoli was honest - was was noticing Maura Isles... "I don't know what you want me to say here Isles, give me a hint." She pleaded.
"I don't want you to say anything - I want you to answer the question."
"Fine, sure. I've noticed women - but like I notice guys? I don't know. I don't pay attention." She watched as her friend processed the answer and finalized it with a nod and a smile and turn around and cross the final few feet to her car. "Wait!" Jane asked, following her "That's it? You're leaving? What about that other bottle of beer?"
"I was drinking wine."
"Whatever. What about you, Isles? I mean, do you notice women? Or men, or whatever?"
"I notice people." Maura tentatively began, choosing her words very, very carefully.
"Do you...notice me?" Jane asked, her voice low and curious.
"You are...extremely...beautiful Jane. And incredibly confusing to be. Yes. I notice you."
"Oh." Was all Jane could muster, pulling her body closer to herself. "Thank you."
"I'm sorry if that makes you uncomfortable."
"No, no. Just..." Jane's voice trailed off with confusion, how do you tell someone that you hadn't been told you were beautiful by someone other than your mother in years?
"I should go now."
"Yeah, and I should get my stuff."
"Finish your beer?" Maura joked, trying to get Jane to crack a smile and return their relationship to some semblance of normalcy.
"It's probably warm
"Sorry..." Isles opened the door and slid gracefully inside as Jane helped her shut the door. It looked as if Jane wanted to say something, she looked as if she was lost in thought, chewing on her lower lip. Eventually Maura had to realize that whatever it was, Jane Rizzoli wouldn't be sharing it with her, not tonight... and from the looks of it, she'd be lucky if they ever shared more than a passing word at work after this. With a sigh, she started her car and slowly left Jane standing alone in the parking lot.
As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Maura Isles had regretted them. She wasn't sure why she said it. She really didn't. Sometimes she just said things, did things to see how people would respond. It was curiosity - it was why she was so good at her job. She did really notice Jane Rizzoli though. She really did think she was beautiful, and confusing and funny. She appreciated the way Jane smiled or surprised her with chocolate or coffee as much as she appreciated the red-soled surprise of a pair of Louboutin; the functional and clean lines of the other woman's body as much as she did her own Hermes purse; the way - "Oh my God!" Maura exclaimed to no one but herself as she pulled her car into her driveway - she was attracted to Jane Rizzoli. Honestly attracted to her. It wasn't that Jane was a woman that shocked Maura - because despite her aforementioned heterosexuality, she truly did believe in the fluidity of sexuality - it was that she was attracted to anyone. It had been so long since she was honestly attracted to someone.
Maura exited her car and made her way inside, performing her nightly rituals like she did every night regardless of what time she got home. She was a woman who found comfort in routine. She flirted with men, and dated men, because it was, in a way, routine. It also passed the time, and it was fun - but none of it was actual attraction, the chemical and biological reactions that drew one human to another, that made you notice the way that made you spray that extra spritz of perfume, or apply that extra coat of lip gloss . Maura always assumed she would date men, and scare them away with what she said or did, until one day she met one who wasn't scared by what came out of her mouth and would stay and they would have breakfast in bed and fight over the remote and who had to walk the dog (because she always assumed he'd have a dog - it would show he was compassionate, responsible and aware of the needs of another being). And now... here she was - attracted to someone who would watch her work without being disgusted or scared; who learned to find her erratic bouts of information if not charming, at least tolerable. They didn't have breakfast in bed, but they did share beds an awful lot; and they did eat breakfast together and fight over the remote and walking Jo Friday. Truth be told, she and Jane Rizzoli were dating without either of them knowing it. Or consummating it.
Maura changed into her pajamas, and was halfway through flossing her teeth as she contemplated consummating her relationship with Jane.
If Jane would be willing.
Which she wouldn't be.
Because she was a binary 0 on a sliding scale from black to white with every imaginable shade of grey in between.
But IF Jane were willing... Maura spat out into the sink and was mid-rinse when a loud knock rang out through the empty house. It was too late for visitors (as if she ever had any other than Jane) - except for Jane. "Coming!" Maura called out as she ran down the stairs. Swiftly she dug through her purse, pulled out and swiped her lipstick across her lips and blotted, yanked her hair out of her ponytail and took a calming breath before she swung the door open with an air of causal indifference.
"You should really ask who it is first." Jane said, standing on the steps, presenting her with an open package of Twinkies with a candle in them.
"I knew it was you - you're the only one who uses the knocker. Or comes over." Maura responded as she stepped aside. "Come in?"
"Nah, looks like you're getting ready for bed. I just wanted to stop by -" She offered the Twinkies to the woman. "-Seems a shame you didn't at least have cake on your birthday. And the candle was lit - wind must've blown it out."
"Guess I could come in-"
"Let me blow out my candles myself?"
"Something like that." Jane responded as she nervously entered the room and followed Isles into the kitchen. Jane placed the Twinkies on the counter and watched as Maura removed the candle and lit it from the stove. "I uh, hope you like Twinkies - they had HoHo's but they looked a little smushed."
"Don't know." Maura responded, a small smirk spread across her face as she slid the candle in its previous hole. "Never had a Twinkie before."
"Oh, well - let me tell you - you are in for a treat." Jane laughed as she watched her friend quietly close her eyes and smiled. "Hey, Isles, meditating over there?"
Maura opened an eye to shoot her a dirty look while she shushed her. They stood for a moment until Maura opened her eyes. "I was making a wish - and before you ask, no Jane, I will not tell you what I wished for."
"I didn't know you were superstitious."
"I'm not." Maura blew out the candle swiftly, "But I do believe in rituals. Tradition." She plucked out the candle and sucked the cream off the candle before she took a Twinkie and offered the other one to Jane.
"Oh. Thanks. Well - Happy Birthday." Jane took the Twinkie and nervously leaned in to peck Maura on the cheek.
"Jane." Maura murmured, but before he could finish, Jane quickly mashed her lips against Isles', catching the other woman off-gaurd. As far as first kisses go, it was fairly awkward and unexpected. But after a moment, it turned into something else entirely. Both women relaxed, their lips no longer prone and pressed against each other but rather easing into an actual kiss - a tongue hesitantly darting out, teeth playfully catching the other's lip in its grasp. Finally Jane pulled back, letting both women catch their breath. She watched as a blush of excitement spread across Isles' cheeks. "I guess I just wanted to say that I think I notice you too and -" She wiped the back of her hand across her mouth to clear off the smeared lipstick. "-Geeze Maura, did you put on lipstick before you opened the door?"
"You are such a girl."
"Yes I am. Thank you for noticing that." Maura smirked, leaning on the counter and taking a satisfied bite out of her Twinkie. "And for future reference. I think I care for Twinkies. A great deal."
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