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Deck the Halls
Each and every family has their own traditions when it comes to the holidays and Jane groaned loudly and contemplated banging her head against the doorframe as hers made its presence known. She had tried to convince her mother that she really didn't need a Christmas tree in her apartment this year, because she was going to be spending the day at work because it was her turn on the rotation, but her protestations had fallen on deaf ears. Really, for as much good as her arguing had done her, she'd have been better off trying to explain the two-line pass rule to Maura again.
"Jane! I know you're in there!" Angela Rizzoli's typically loud voice bellowed from the other side of the door.
Jane groaned and actually did bang her head on the doorframe, but it didn't do anything more than make her head hurt. And she was out of Tylenol. Dammit.
"Ma! Geez! Can it, wouldya?" Jane grumbled petulantly as she pulled the front door open to reveal her mother, holding an oversized box with the words 'XMAS ORNAMENTS + LIGHTS' scribbled on the side in black sharpie and her brothers, who were holding a gigantic tree between them. "What the hell guys? I said a small one!"
"Right, like Ma was going to let you have a Charlie Brown tree," Frankie muttered as he and Tommy lifted the tree and followed their mother into Jane's apartment. "You're lucky we talked her out of the eight-footer."
"What? A girl needs a nice looking tree at Christmas if she wants a sexy Santa to come and fill her stocking," Angela said coyly, as she waggled her brows suggestively.
All three of her children looked at her with identical 'Please tell me you did not just say that' expression on their faces.
"What?" she asked her dumbfounded children.
Jane bit her lip and looked at her brothers, who looked back at her with an equally gobsmacked expression. Ever since the divorce, their mother's comments had been getting more and more outrageous and nothing they had said to her so for had curbed the habit. Because whining only seemed to spur her on further, they created a game out of it trying to see who could last the longest without laughing at whatever ridiculousness had spewed from their mother's mouth.
This time, however, Tommy was the first to cave, breaking into a fit of giggles as he dropped his side of the tree, sending the trunk crashing down on Frankie's foot as he stumbled off to the side gasping for air.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck," Frankie swore as he rolled the tree off of his foot. "Goddamn it Tommy!"
"Language!" Angela chastised her youngest child. "Really. How do you expect to find a nice girl with a mouth like that?"
Frankie grinned through the pain and winked at Jane as he replied, "I dunno, Ma. Maybe I'll ask Janie."
"Shut up, Frankie," Jane growled. He had been giving her an especially hard time about Maura lately and she was getting tired of it. She wasn't into Maura; she just liked spending time with her. A lot of time. Like, all of her free time, really, and occasionally at lunch when Frost and Korsak wanted to go to that nasty Indian place on Fifth, but whatever.
"Oh good, you guys didn't get started without me!" Maura's cheery voice rang in from the doorway. "I got caught in traffic after I made a quick stop by Francesco's for some of their specialty mint hot cocoa," she explained distractedly, as she hurriedly unwrapped her scarf from around her neck and hung it onto the hook beside Jane's coat on the rack beside the door. Her coat quickly followed and she frowned when she turned to really look at the scene before her. "Why is Frankie crying? Jane, you didn't punch him again, did you?"
"What?! No! Tommy dropped the tree on his foot!" Jane argued.
"Oh." Maura frowned. "Is it broken?"
"Nah, he's just a wuss," Tommy chuckled. "Come on, muscles, let's get it into the stand Janie has set up in the corner so it doesn't die on her and we have to do this again."
"I can't, my foot freaking hurts!" Frankie whined.
"Oh for the love of " Jane grumbled as she took hold of the tree and pushed her baby brother out of the way. "Just, let me do it. Tommy, get your ass over here."
"Language, Jane," Maura and Angela chastised.
Jane just rolled her eyes and nodded at her brother. They lifted the tree easily and maneuvered it into the stand that Jane had, in fact, set up in the corner on top of a bunch of black plastic trash bags in case the reservoir overflowed, and before long, the three long screws in the stand were twisted into the tree and it was standing straight and proud.
"Well done," Maura cheered, clapping happily, as Jane climbed out from under the tree, brushing errant pine needles off of her shirt.
"Thank you," Jane said, smiling at the blonde as she walked over to her. "Hello, by the way. I'm glad you could make it."
A soft smile graced Maura's features as she reached up to brush her fingers through Jane's hair. "You, um had a needle," she explained a little breathlessly, as she pulled her hand away to show the detective the long brown pine needle that had been trapped in her hair.
Jane swallowed thickly and nodded. Of course there had been a pine needle in her hair, what else would Maura have been doing? And, why was her heart racing? And, was something funky going on with the thermostat? Because it was definitely hotter in here that it'd been before they set the tree up. "Thanks," she muttered, her normally deep voice taking on an unmistakably smoky tone.
Maura smiled and backed away slowly, waving the needle around in the air as if it was a magic wand and it could somehow make the uncomfortable awareness that she had for Jane, disappear. Or make the detective feel it herself. She wasn't sure which she wanted, actually, but she just knew that she needed to put some distance between them before she did something stupid. Like kiss her. She was pretty sure that Jane wasn't quite ready for that. "No problem. I'll just, uhm, put this cocoa in the kitchen for later?"
Frankie grinned and walked over to where Tommy was standing and arched a brow at his older brother as he tilted his head at their sister and her crush. Even though he was pretty sure that Jane had no idea that she was actually crushing on Maura. He had shared his observations with Tommy the other night at the Robber, and they'd come to the conclusion that their woefully blind sister needed a kick in the ass. Then they got on the phone and convinced their mother that Jane absolutely needed a Christmas tree. And then Frankie let it slip to Maura, who he knew would jump at the chance to spend the evening decorating said tree with the Rizzolis.
At the moment, Frankie and Tommy were still trying to figure out if Jane was going to kill them or kiss them once she found out about their role in this whole thing because she'd been bitching to the both of them nonstop ever since Angela put her foot down and declared that Jane could not celebrate the holidays without a Christmas tree of her very own. But whatever the case, they figured it was worth it.
"Yeah, okay," Jane murmured and, finally remembering that she and Maura weren't alone, looked at her brothers, who were looking at her like they were drunk, or high, or constipated, she wasn't sure which, and said, "WHAT?!"
Tommy grinned and shook his head. "Nothin', sis. So you wanna do the star first, or the lights?"
"I really don't care," Jane said.
"Can I do the star?" Maura asked, in that small, almost childlike tone of voice she got whenever she was really excited about something. "Growing up, my mother always paid a designer to decorate our houses so I never actually got to trim a tree," she explained, a shy smile on her face. "It's something I've always wanted to do."
Jane grinned and waved at her mother, who had pulled the star out of the 'XMAS Ornaments + Lights' box, to hand it over to Maura. She didn't particularly care either way, but she could tell that it was something Maura really wanted to do. And the blonde was absolutely adorable when she was excited, but that was beyond the point. "Go for it, Maur," she said, as she opened up the small stepladder she'd pulled out of storage for the occasion and set it up in front of the tree.
Maura beamed and carefully removed her Louboutin's, red, this time, Jane noticed, thinking that they were very festive with their peep toes and slingback heels, and carefully took the offered star from Angela as if it were a priceless heirloom rather than an eight dollar Wal-Mart special, and started for the ladder. She set her right foot on the lowest rung and looked back at Jane expectantly. "Are you going to hold the ladder, Jane?"
A slow, wholly indulgent smile tweaked Jane's lips as she said, "It's a stepladder, Maur. You don't really need anybody to hold it."
Maura frowned. "Jane, over two million people annually are treated in emergency rooms due to falls from ladders."
"Just hold the ladder, Janie," Tommy and Frankie laughed.
Jane looked over her shoulder at her brothers and shrugged. "You know what, fine. Here, let me hold the ladder for you, Maur," she said as she moved behind the blonde, because the non-step side was pushed into the tree so that it'd be easier to reach the top, and placed her hands on the side rails. "Better?" she asked softly, her words dancing lightly over Maura's neck as she spoke because, really, they were practically pressed right up against each other.
"Much," Maura squeaked, before scampering up three steps to carefully set the star onto the top of the tree. "You're holding the ladder still, right?" she asked Jane, as she focused on trying to set the star on straight.
"Umm, yeah," Jane said, her eyes glued to Maura's ass. It wasn't her fault, really, she had said that she'd hold the ladder and it was just right there!
Behind the two women, Angela was busy pulling out different sets of ornaments and setting them out onto the coffee table and Frankie and Tommy were laughing at the almost hypnotized look on their sister's face as she ogled Maura's ass.
"Ob-liv-i-ous," Frankie sing-songed, causing Tommy to giggle like a little girl and Jane to shoot an evil glare over her shoulder.
"What are you two yahoos getting up to back there?" Jane demanded.
Frankie grinned and winked. "Nothin'. Hey, Maura, the star is a little crooked, maybe move it to the left?"
"Oh, thanks," Maura said, from her spot atop the ladder. "How's this? Better?"
Having caught on immediately, because the tree topper had been perfectly straight when Frankie had spoken, Tommy said, "You know what, now it's looking like it's leaning too far right."
Jane rolled her eyes and looked back at Maura, who was wiggling the ladder ever so slightly in her attempt to follow the boys' directions. "Maura, you're making the ladder wiggle, sweetie," she said softly. She hadn't been genuinely concerned about the blonde hurting herself on the ladder before, but now that her brothers were being jackasses, she wouldn't rule it out. Maura did have a bit of klutzy streak whenever she got more than a foot off the ground.
"Right, sorry," Maura apologized, smiling down at the brunette over her shoulder. "How's this? Better?"
Jane couldn't actually see the star on top of the tree because it was blocked by Maura's face (which she wasn't complaining about, at all, because Maura was much better looking than that cheap plastic star her mother had brought over) so she deferred to her brothers who, thankfully took pity on the Medical Examiner and proclaimed that it was perfect.
"Hold the ladder steady as I climb down?" Maura asked hesitantly as she reached down with her left foot, blindly searching for that next rung.
"Of course," Jane answered gently, staying right where she was until the blonde was once again back on level ground. "Good job, Doctor Isles."
Maura blushed and grinned. "Thanks."
Jane smiled and just stared into Maura's eyes, not at all aware of the fact that she should have backed away by now and that she was practically standing toe-to-toe with her friend as they shared shy smiles. In fact, she only moved away from the blonde when her mother said, loudly, that she was going to put some Christmas music on to set the mood.
"Sorry about that," Jane mumbled, her eyes automatically darting to the ground as she shuffled away from Maura. She was simultaneously thankful and angry with her mother for interrupting them, and she couldn't figure out why. She just knew that her body was literally tingling and that her heart had fallen into a markedly irregular beat.
Maybe she was having a stroke?
It was the holidays. And her mother was nearby. It was entirely plausible.
"Ornaments are on the table," Angela called out as she turned on Jane's television to try and find the music channels for a little holiday cheer. "Oh my."
"What?" Everybody asked as they turned to look at the screen.
Jane's brothers started laughing loudly and Jane immediately blushed when she realized that she'd paused the movie she'd been watching on DVR the night before by herself because Maura had been working late going over a report for a case that would be going to court soon. She'd wasted so much energy arguing with her mother that when she had finally hung up, she'd simply finished off her beer, turned off the TV, and climbed into bed.
"What is it?" Maura asked.
"Yeah, Janie," Frankie chuckled. "What is it?" he teased.
"It's uhm uhm " Jane stuttered.
"What are those girls doing?" Angela asked.
"It looks like they're kissing," Maura observed, arching a speculative brow in Jane's direction. "What movie were you watching last night?"
"Bound," Jane muttered.
"Good choice, sis," Tommy said appreciatively. "What made you choose that one?"
Jane shrugged. "I dunno. It looked interesting cops and robbers, and stuff." And the girls kissing had been pretty hot too, but she wasn't about to tell her brother that, especially with her mother in the room.
Maura nodded knowingly. She'd thought that was what it was, but she hadn't been sure because it is hard to place a movie off of a single frozen frame. "I have it on Blu-Ray," she murmured in Jane's ear, smiling at the look of surprise that flashed across the brunette's face at the whispered confession. "Maybe you can come over tomorrow night and we can do dinner and a movie? Girls night in?"
Jane swallowed thickly. "Okay."
"Oh, is it any good?" Angela asked. Maura really did have excellent taste when it came to films, so long as they weren't documentaries.
"I don't think it's your thing, Ma," Frankie chuckled. "We doin' lights, or what?"
"You boys do the lights," Jane said. "Me and Maura will go make some hot cocoa for everybody."
"Have fun!" Tommy called out after them as he picked up a strand of lights and chucked them at Frankie with a belated, "Catch!", that had them smacking the youngest Rizzoli in the face.
"Dammit, Tommy! Not funny!" Frankie whined.
"Boys, knock it off and just get the lights on the tree," Angela snapped. "Oh good, here's the music," she said, as the sound of Bing Crosby crooning about chestnuts roasting on an open fire spilled from the television's speakers. "No, not like that," she said as she looked at her sons, who were now whipping the ends of the light strands at each other as if they were gladiators in the middle of an arena or something.
"Sorry, Ma," Frankie and Tommy chuckled as they abandoned their mock whip fight and started wrapping the strands properly around the tree.
Jane rolled her eyes at her brother's antics and smiled at Maura, who was standing beside her at the small peninsula overlooking the living room. "I'm sorry about them," she said softly.
Maura smiled and shook her head. "No apologies necessary, Jane. I enjoy spending time with you and your family."
"Even though they're all crazy?" Jane chuckled, as she pulled a saucepan out from under the counter and set it onto the stove.
"They're not crazy," Maura said. "They're spirited."
"Yeah, like freaking poltergeists, or something," Jane muttered.
Maura grinned and watched Frankie and Tommy settle into a wrap/pass/wrap system with the lights that had the tree finished in no time. "They're quite good at that," she said.
"Yeah," Jane agreed, coming back to stand beside the blonde as she waited for the milk to heat up. She couldn't help smiling as Frankie did the honors and plugged them in, setting the pine tree ablaze with little red, yellow, green, and blue bulbs. "When they're not screwing around, that is. Christmas was always fun when we were kids. How 'bout you what did you do?"
Maura shrugged, her expressing going instantly sad. "It wasn't that much different than any other day," she said softly.
"Aw, sweetie," Jane murmured, wrapping an arm around the blonde's shoulders and pulling her in close. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be," Maura said softly, leaning her head on Jane's shoulder. "I have you guys now, right?"
"For as long as you want us," Jane assured Maura, pressing a chaste kiss to her temple, just wanting to see her smile again.
"Mmm, that could be forever, you know," Maura purred, closing her eyes and reveling in the closeness of the moment. Normally she kept her emotions in check, but every once in a while, in moments like these, she couldn't help but wonder if her feelings weren't entirely one-sided.
Jane chuckled and squeezed Maura gently. That was perfectly fine with her; she couldn't imagine a better way to spend the holidays than with the blonde. "Then I guess that means I've been a very good girl this year," she murmured, dropping one last kiss to the Medical Examiner's temple before moving away to check the milk, which had just started to boil.
Maura blushed and began pulling coffee mugs out of the cupboard above Jane's coffee machine. She lined them up neatly beside one another on the counter beside the stove, and the filled each one with three tablespoons of the gourmet cocoa mixture that smelled like pulverized Andes mints and was absolutely delicious. "Okay, they're ready," she said, backing away slowing, wiping her hands off on her slacks as she watched Jane ladle steaming scoops of milk into the cups.
"Smells good!" Frankie said as he entered the kitchen and stole a recently filled mug from the line.
"Yeah, thanks Maura," Tommy said as he, too, reached between the two women to snag a cup.
Maura smiled at the men she considered her brothers and nodded politely. "It was my pleasure, I assure you."
"Damn, this is better than sex," Frankie murmured appreciatively after a tentative sip.
"Then you're doing it wrong," Jane teased.
"It is rather orgasmic," Maura murmured in her friend's ear, laughing lightly at the way Jane's cheeks flushed at her words. "I promise."
Jane swallowed thickly and nodded. "I'll, uh, take that under advisement."
Maura smiled sweetly and picked up her mug and one for Angela, leaving Jane alone in the small kitchen area with her brothers.
"It's orgasmic," Frankie drawled, waggling his eyebrows.
Tommy took a drink and moaned loudly, grinning at her over the rim of his mug.
"Shut up," Jane hissed, smiling in spite of her embarrassment as she took a small sip of the gourmet cocoa. It really was good. "Come on," she said, ushering her brothers back into the living room where Maura was looking at the different ornaments that their mom had laid out.
"I call dibs on the blue ones!" Frankie announced as he swooped into the room, grabbing the box of blue bulbs off of the table.
"Yeah, go ahead and take those blue balls, Frankie," Tommy chuckled.
Jane sniggered into her cocoa and was pleased to see that Maura had picked up on what Tommy had said as well. "This is really good, Maur," she said as she brushed past the blonde to set her mug onto the mantle. "Okay, what color do you want?" she asked the Medical Examiner.
"Red," Maura announced with a definitive nod.
"Have at it," Jane said, handing the blonde the box of sparkly red ornaments. She watched Maura carefully set her cup of cocoa down and turn to the tree to hang her first ornament and couldn't help smiling with the other woman turned to her with an excited grin on her face.
Really, who would have thought that decorating a tree could be so much fun?
"Adorable," she muttered under her breath as she scooped up a box of gold balls that reminded her of Maura's hair and went to stand beside the blonde, hanging her first ornament right next to the one Maura had put up.
"I think you're supposed to space them out more," Maura said.
Jane shrugged and winked at the other woman as she hung another ornament high on the tree. "Maybe I didn't want yours to get lonely," she said, her voice a hushed whisper as if it were a great secret.
Maura nodded as if that were the most logical explanation ever, and set to work hanging the rest of her ornaments. The blonde was having so much fun, in fact, that she looked honestly disappointed when they were out of decorations.
"Now what?" she asked a little glumly.
"Now Santa's elves have to go," Jane said, giving her family a pointed look. She loved her family, really, she did, but two hours of decorating a tree she didn't need was about her limit.
"Jane's right," Frankie said, with an apologetic shrug. "Tommy and I have something we need to do and we brought mom over here."
"I didn't know you boys had anything to do," Angela said. "What do you have to do?"
"Guy stuff," Tommy answered quickly, elbowing Frankie in the ribs.
"Yeah, guy stuff," Frankie echoed, rubbing the spot where Tommy had hit him.
Angela regarded her boys with a wary eye one didn't raise three children to adulthood without learning how to tell when they weren't telling you everything but nodded. Whatever it was, she was sure it wasn't bad. "Okay then. Well, it was fun seeing you again Maura," she said, pulling the Medical Examiner into a warm embrace. "I'm glad you were able to come help us out."
"Me too," Maura whispered.
"Yeah, see you later, Doc. Sis," Frankie said with a wave as he held the front door open. "Come on Ma! They're still gonna be here tomorrow!"
Jane smiled her thanks at her brother and sighed with relief when the door closed behind her family. "So, did you have fun?" she asked as she flopped back onto her usual position on the couch.
"I did," Maura said as she gracefully lowered herself to the cushion beside the brunette.
Jane hummed and leaned back into the sofa cushions so that her eyes were pointed at the ceiling. "You have got to be kidding me."
"What?" Maura asked, mimicking the brunette's positioning so that she, too, was looking up at the ceiling where somebody had taped a sprig of mistletoe. "Oh."
Jane licked her lips and looked from the piece of shrubbery to Maura and back again. She was pretty sure that it being there was Frankie's handiwork. He was, after all, the one who had been giving her a hard time about Maura lately.
Maura watched Jane's eyes flit back and forth from the mistletoe to her face and even though she wanted nothing more than to kiss the brunette, she had promised herself that she would never push. If anything happened, it would have to be because Jane made the first move. "It's just a silly tradition, Jane," she said softly.
Jane nodded. It was a silly tradition but for some reason, be it the cocoa, or the way the fairy lights made Maura's skin glow, or the memory of the way Maura had smiled as she set the star atop the tree, she was finding herself more than willing to indulge it. "I read somewhere that it was bad luck to not kiss under the mistletoe," she said, ignoring Maura's gaze as she looked up at the green leaves and poisonous berries taped to her ceiling.
Maura smiled. "Me too," she lied.
"We can, you know if you want," Jane murmured.
"Do you want to?" Maura asked softly, even as she chanted please say yes, please say yes, please say yes inside her head.
"I think I do," Jane whispered sitting up and actually looking at Maura. The blonde was her best friend but, looking at her now, she had to admit that the things she was feeling for her were distinctly un-best-friendy.
Maura smiled and reached out for the brunette, gently cradling Jane's strong jaw in her hand and reveling at the softness of the skin under her fingertips as she guided the detective's mouth down to her own.
Jane braced her right hand on the back of the couch beside Maura's head and sighed when their lips brushed lightly together. She hadn't really known what she'd been expecting, but it hadn't been this. This was electric. This was perfect. This was the symphony and the butterflies and everything else she had ever read about and never experienced. Maura's lips were so soft under hers, the blonde's hand so gentle upon her jaw. And then Maura's lips parted under hers with a sigh and the blonde's tongue flicked across her lips, silently asking for more and oh. my. god. She whimpered when her tongue first stroked against Maura's, unwilling and unable to pull away even had she wanted to.
"Okay?" Maura murmured, her eyes soft and searching, when the need for air forced them apart.
Jane licked her lips and nodded. "Yeah." She was definitely okay. "That was wow."
Maura smiled shyly and ducked her head. "You are quite a good kisser yourself, Jane."
"Mmm," Jane hummed as she looked at her best friend through new eyes. "Maura?"
"If I wanted to kiss you again, just because, would you be okay with that?"
Maura smiled and nodded. "Very much so."
Jane grinned and dipped her head to capture the blonde's lips in a sweet, lingering kiss. "Does this mean I was a good girl this year?" she murmured.
Maura laughed and shrugged. "You, me, does it really matter?"
"I guess not," Jane chuckled. "Hey, Maur?"
"Hmm?" Maura hummed, as she smiled up at the brunette.
"What did you ask Santa for?"
"You," Maura murmured, smiling up into warm chocolate colored eyes. "Just you."
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