DISCLAIMER: Rizzoli & Isles and its characters are the property of Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro and TNT television network.
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I Want Candy
As soon as Jane entered the main ballroom, she was searching for familiar faces. It was significantly more difficult since masks were involved. Concentrating on her mission helped her ignore the fact that at least half of the room was staring at her.
She started to curse Travis for not being there to walk in with her, but she couldn't deny that she had been relieved not to spend even that much more time with him. It had been the reason she readily agreed to meet at the event.
Now that she was inside and very visible she wanted to find him quickly so that her odd appearance would make slightly more sense. But picking out a blue sailor suit in a sea of police uniforms was proving to be quite the challenge.
Many of the members of the force wore their dress blues as their costume each year, even though it was discouraged by the brass. Jane had done it more than a few times, not caring that it was considered the lazy way out. Attendance was expected unless you were on duty, but she didn't feel like going the extra dog-and-pony-show mile most of the time.
Maura, on the other hand, acted like a kid in a candy store at the very thought of dressing up for the benefit. She usually had some elaborate, expensive outfit that put all the others to shame. Last year, she'd even gotten Jane to fully participate by finding her an awesome race car driver costume so that she could go as Danica Patrick.
She'd spent a lot of that evening helping Maura maneuver around in her gigantic but authentic period dress. Because of her high hair with a faint blue tint, Jane had teased her all night about being "Lady Marge Simpson," finally sparking an indignant and frankly condescending retort.
"I am obviously dressed as Marie Antoinette, Jane, a very famous French figure from the late 1700's ... You are confusing her with Wallis Simpson, who disrupted the British monarchy when she became involved with Edward VII, causing him to abdicate the throne well over a century later."
After Korsak, who had made a very impressive Benjamin Franklin, helped her glide away in a huff, Jane and Frost had nearly collapsed with laughter.
With a pang, she realized that she had no idea what Maura was wearing tonight. They hadn't even discussed it. In fact, she couldn't remember the last conversation they'd had that didn't involve evidence. Damn.
She abhorred the thought that she could be one of those people that ditched her best friend the minute a new relationship started. But she wasn't actively trying to spend her free time with Travis. In fact, the past two weeks, she'd been actively avoiding it.
Wracking her brain, she couldn't recall the last time Maura had suggested coffee, or lunch, or even drinks after work. Jane had been too distracted by her own drama to notice if Maura seemed troubled or preoccupied. Dammit, she was a piss-poor excuse for a BFF.
She missed hanging out with Maura. She missed teasing her and cracking up at her awkward school teacher moments. She missed just seeing her smile.
On more than one occasion, she'd grumbled to herself that watching TV or sitting at the Dirty Robber with Maura would have been more fun than whatever she was doing with Travis. But then she'd feebly remind herself that at least she was getting laid, such as it was.
Hell, even that would have been better with Maura.
Jane stopped short in the center of the room. Where the fuck had that come from?
Sure, some of the banter between them could almost be called flirting, but that was harmless enough. Right? And they'd teased about not being each other's type and not wanting to sleep together but those were just the kinds of things friends do. Jesus.
She had a brief flash of the reaction she'd had to seeing Maura in her waitress outfit at Merch. That was a little past friendly. The way her mouth had gone dry when Maura's breasts were so close to her face
Shit. This thing with Travis and all her frustrations with his idea of getting it on were starting to really mess her up. Her skin felt as tight as her tiny white nurse's dress.
Before she could clear her head and continue her search, she saw Maura across the room. It was possible that her breathing stopped due only to her recent train of thought. Or it was possible that it was entirely due to how fucking amazing Maura looked.
She was wearing a police offer's patrol uniform, but it was unlike anything Jane had ever seen. It was so form fitting that it made Maura seem like one of those action figures whose clothes were painted on. And of course she had on heels.
Her hair was pulled back, her cap perfectly placed, leaving most of the focus on her face and figure. When she saw Jane, she graced her with a stunning smile. Breaking away from her current conversation, she headed straight toward where Jane stood, still taking it all in.
"Can I help you find someone, Miss? Police officers are your friends, you know." Her eyes were twinkling as she rested one elegant hand on the top of the nightstick looped through her belt.
Jane felt dysfunctional all of the sudden. "I'm pretty sure those shoes aren't standard issue "
Maura laughed softly. "Well, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't meet dress code at any hospital I've ever worked in."
Tugging awkwardly at the hem of her costume, Jane muttered in agreement. "Believe me, it was my only option. Where'd you find a uni like that?"
"I had it specially made and fitted. The accessories I purchased at the uniform supply store." She frowned. "It's a little less complete without a firearm."
"We don't call them "accessories" . And for goodness sake, you don't need a gun!"
Maura glanced around. "You never know, if some of these guys keep drinking at the pace I've observed, we may have to call in the riot squad." She examined Jane's outfit again. "Are you going to tell me why you're dressed like that?"
Her face flushed, Jane tried to make a joke out of the whole thing. "Maybe I was hoping to find a hot doctor."
As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she inwardly cringed. That might have sounded more like a come on than she'd intended. Worse still, she was afraid her recent musings were starting to color her perspective on everything.
One side of Maura's mouth quirked upward. "Do you mean to tell me I didn't have to go to all this trouble?"
Shit. Jane didn't have time to process Maura's loaded comeback before they were joined by Korsak decked out in a fairly sophisticated toga and laurel head wreath.
"Good evening, ladies. I see the two of you have swapped career fields for the occasion."
"It was quite unintentional, Vince. I just thought it would be fun to put my own twist on the most common costume seen at this gathering. I'm still waiting for Jane to explain her impulse to join the medical community "
Both of them looked expectantly at her, but they were distracted by Frost lurching awkwardly up join the group. He had on the same metal-plated costume he'd debuted at the previous gala. Jane could never remember the name of the stupid character, but he was supposed to be the Japanese doll he kept on his desk.
They could barely hear him whistle through the helmet. "Look at you two! Dr. Isles Jane looking fine tonight."
"Frost, you wore that monstrosity last year." Korsak was eyeing him with an expression somewhere between disappointment and pity.
"Listen Bluto, considering what I paid for this thing, I'm going to wear it every year until it falls apart or I can't fit into it."
Korsak scowled. "Togas existed before that blasted "Animal House" movie, you know. I'm Julius Caesar, not John Belushi." He shook his head and turned to Maura with a weary sigh. "Plebeians!"
Jane was increasingly uncomfortable standing between Korsak and Frost with her tits practically hanging out. Or maybe it was Maura's unwavering gaze that was so unsettling. Either way, she just wanted a shawl or something. Where the hell was her date?
Echoing that thought, Frost directed a muffled question her way. "Where's McMillan tonight? I thought you two were coordinating costumes."
"Yeah. That was the plan. He should have been here by now. He's supposed to be a sailor." She waved hand up and down, indicating her wardrobe. "I'm that nurse from the picture with the kissing ..." God this had been a bad idea.
"Oh yeah. It's quite iconic, that image." Korsak peered at her almost guiltily. "I recall the nurses' uniforms from that time period being a bit more demure."
"Shut it, Korsak." Jane punched his bare arm, causing him to flinch. "This was the last damn nurse costume in the whole city. I didn't have a backup considering what Travis was expecting "
Maura was giving her an odd look, as if she were trying to work out a lengthy formula in her head. She moved her lips as if she were going to say something, but then decided against it.
"What?" She hated when Maura did that.
Frost interjected. "I was just saying that I don't think your boy Travis will complain one bit about how accurate your image is."
Before she could tell Frost how much he was creeping her out, Maura nodded toward the area behind Jane.
"I think your conquering hero has arrived."
Something about Maura's tone was disconcerting, but she couldn't deal with that now. As she turned to greet Travis, she should have been filled with relief that her solo walk of shame was about to be over.
Instead she felt like she was about to walk the plank.
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