DISCLAIMER: Rizzoli & Isles and its characters are the property of Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro and TNT television network.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: References to Season One & Two.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To carrieanneq[at]mail.com

I Want To Kiss You All Over
By EponinesGhost


Part 1

" ... and then Korsak trips and stumbles into me, sending me sailing into the brick wall just past the fire escape. So yeah, it was a tough day." Jane rubbed the shoulder opposite the one she was using to prop Maura's front door open as she recalled the impact. "Want me to take one of those?" She nodded to the restaurant shopping bags that Maura was bringing up the walk.

Maura smiled brightly as she breezed past. "No need." Deftly she maneuvered around the kitchen counter and placed them squarely on the island.

Pulling the door behind her and craning her neck to check out the interior of the house, Jane was amazed to find it empty and quiet. "Ma's not around?"

Her voice slightly muffled as she reached deep into one of the bags, Maura explained. "She's visiting her sister ... your Aunt ... um ..."


"Yes! She said it was a "sibling emergency" of some sort. But she was smiling when she said it, Jane, so I wouldn't worry." Maura's head popped up over the bag to make sure the detective was reassured.

"Yeah, Aunt Theresa's always got some kind of drama that requires lots of wine and a sympathetic shoulder." She waved one hand dismissively. "Good thing Ma's so nosy. And a good listener." She did a half turn and raised her eyebrows. "At least she told one of her "children" where she was. God forbid we worry."

Maura was amused by Jane's use of air quotes and the light aggravation evident on her face. "She knew I would see you and let you know. Besides, she didn't want to bother you. She knows how busy you are ... and how you get."

Jane's eyebrows inched up again. "How I get? No, pray tell ... how DO I get? And since when are you not busy?" Jane's voice was rising as she moved closer to the counter.

"I was just trying to convey that your mother does recognize that her interruptions can cause frustration on your part." Maura was using her most calming tone, very conscious to keep it from veering into condescension. "Jane ... the main point is that she's staying at her sister's for the night. We can keep talking about her ... or we can enjoy some of this exquisitely prepared cuisine." She lifted the lid of one container and sniffed, closing her eyes in delight as she inhaled. As far as she was concerned, the matter was closed. She pretended not to hear Jane's grumbles as she watched her remove her jacket.

"Just don't understand why I'm the difficult one all the sudden ... I've been patient with all her neurotic crap ..." Jane tossed her jacket over the back of one of the chairs and began to unclip her holster. "It's bad enough that I have to deal with her games involving Tommy & Frankie ... now she's got to drag you into it ..." She pulled out the drawer Maura reserved for her firearm and badge and shoved them inside. When she looked up she realized that her companion was totally ignoring her, unloading a seemingly endless supply of gourmet food from the two oversized brown bags.

"Geez you ordered enough of that stuff, didn't you? Is Tommy joining us? He's a growing boy and all that."

Maura studiously avoided the sarcasm aimed her way and turned to open the cabinet where she kept her plates. "No ... it's just us. Tommy is staying at your father's apartment for the weekend."

Jane's jaw dropped and she was momentarily speechless. "Of course he is." Had her whole family been co-opted by Dr. Isles? At least she still had Frankie ... She raised and lowered her hands helplessly, before running them through her hair and deciding to drop the whole thing.

As she slung one leg over the chair facing the island, she watched Maura effortlessly open a bottle of wine. Before she could even ask, Maura tilted her head toward the refrigerator.

"I have some of your beer in there."

Jane's mood brightened considerably with that simple sentence. She slid out of her place and went to retrieve one. This could turn out to be an all right day after all.

Slumping back into her position at the counter, she took a long draw on the cold beer as Maura set aside her wine and began emptying salad ingredients into a large expensive-looking crystal bowl. Jane had long since stopped trying to get her not to make such a fuss. It was just who she was and what she enjoyed. She also knew better than to offer to help. She'd stopped feeling guilty about Maura preparing things for her once she'd realized how much her friend genuinely wanted to do it most of it herself. She was so intent watching the doctor's hands work in and out of the bowl that she almost missed the start of her conversation.

" ... several times recently that people have had occasion to mention your previous undercover work. I've always found that fascinating. Do you miss it at all?"

Jane paused for a moment to seriously consider the question. "Yeah ... there's a big part of it that I do miss. It's a pure test of your abilities, ya know? When you're in deep cover, it's just you. You're completely on your own and you have to be prepared for anything ... really surviving on your wits and your gut and your skill. And it's a thrill and it's edgy and it's terrifying, but ... when you can pull it off, it's the greatest rush." She toyed a bit with the edge of the label on the bottle. "It can also be incredibly lonely. And exhausting. And um ... it's can play with your mind and your morals and ... what you think you're capable of ..." She let her voice trail off and shook her head slightly, her curls bouncing about her shoulders. "It was a very different kind of police work."

"I can imagine how expertly you handled it. You're very, very good at reading people and situations. And you have this way of getting people to trust you." As she used two utensils to toss dressing into the salad, she smiled almost secretly to herself. "Besides, I saw how well you did on your dates at the lesbian bar."

"Ha ha. You can joke all you want, but you didn't see how really good I was. When I saw those gloves you had described on the club's owner, I knew I needed her DNA ... and I knew I could get it." Her eyes gleamed triumphantly.

Maura blinked several times in rapid succession. "Yes, well ... you never did tell me how you managed that."

Jane grinned and folded her arms in front of her. "What exactly would you like to know, Dr. Isles?"

"I'd like to know, actually, how you go about creating an alter ego on one of these assignments. I understand that the investigation dictates a great deal of the profile, but do you find it easier to totally go away from your innate personality? Or do try to incorporate as much of yourself as you can into your alias?"

Disappointed that Maura had redirected the inquiry, Jane nevertheless wanted to tell her the truth. "No, it's much easier ... and safer ... to use as much of yourself as you can under the circumstances. The less you have to fake the better. It's harder to get tripped up. Unless the case itself required it, for example, I'd still say I had two brothers, grew up in the area ... that kind of thing."

"I see. When I was younger, I created wildly different characters for myself ... portraits of who I might be if I found out my parents were foreign espionage agents, or secret royalty, or any of the things young girls imagine."

Jane smiled affectionately. "Well, most of my characters were much more shady than that. It was never that much fun to be the only woman on vice when they needed someone to really skank it up." She grimaced at her memories of street corner duty. "Besides, most of the time we were trying to blend in with less desirable elements like drug traffickers and junkies." She was startled to hear Maura's musical laughter. "What? That's funny?"

Maura hastily composed herself, touching several of her fingers to her mouth before holding them up. "No! Oh my gosh. Of course not. It's just that I suddenly realized at this very moment that several of these dishes are exactly the same as the ones from my ill-fated dinner date with Giovanni." She suppressed another giggle.

Jane rolled her eyes at the mention of the name. "Vomit." She made a face. "I tried to warn you ..."

Her eyes twinkling merrily, Maura agreed. "You most certainly did. And it may be one of my biggest misjudgments to date ... pun intended."

Taking another sip of her beer, Jane smirked. "Well it least tonight you get to enjoy your dinner." A few seconds later she noticed that Maura had her head tilted to the side, a far away look in her eye. She snapped her fingers. "Maura ... you're doing it again. You're doing that megaphone dog pose."

Turning and placing her palms on the counter, Maura was once more completely focused. "I believe you mean gramophone. If you're referring to Nipper, the little dog made famous in the advertisement 'His Master's Voice' ... most often remembered as the RCA record label brand."

"Whatever. What's going on in your megamind?"

Sighing patiently, Maura leaned forward. "I was just thinking ... with all of this talk about assuming identities and adapting to scenarios, and then the coincidence of the nearly identical meal and situation ... me with my wine ... you and your beer ..."

"Yeah, so ... "

"We could replay that night and you could practice your undercover skills ..."

Jane bolted up out of her seat. "What?! You want me to pretend to be that douchebag Giovanni?!"

"Of course not. You said yourself that it's not really about pretending to be another person, that you incorporate as much of your real life into it as possible. You'd still be you in a way ... besides he was a disaster. Why would you want to pretend to be him?"

Shaking her head repeatedly, Jane tried again to make sense. "You want me to go 'undercover' … as your date? As an exercise ... " She almost didn't know what to do with herself.

"Well, yes. You couldn't still be a police officer though ... that would be off limits. And you don't know enough about cars to pull off being a mechanic ..."

"I seriously cannot believe we are discussing this." Jane was pacing.

"Jane ... hypothetically, if you had to choose another blue collar profession that you were familiar enough with to sustain a ruse, what would you pick?"

"Well Maura ... hypothetically ... I suppose I'd have to go with plumber. Pop taught us plenty."

"Good! Then you'll be a plumber." Maura nearly clapped her hands together.

Jane was flabbergasted. "I'll be a plumber? Am I also going to be a guy?"

"Absolutely not. There are female plumbers these days, Jane." She started closing the containers she had already opened, and turned to grab plastic wrap to cover the salad bowl. "You can't use your real name, though."

Raising her hands and dropping them listlessly, Jane continued to look bewildered. "When did I agree to this?"

Opening the refrigerator and making room for the bowl, Maura called out. "It might be a bit soggy when you get back, but it should still be delicious." Facing Jane again, she persisted. "What name would you use?"

Speaking as if she were in a daze, Jane shrugged. "I guess I'd pick something pretty similar if I were approaching this like a case. With the same sound. It's easier to react to when you're called. J. would probably work."

"J-a-y or J period, like an initial?"

"Am I going to have a written test? Either."

"Okay. Who do I get to be?"

"What do you mean? This is your set up ... you'd have to be YOU. I'm the one entering the unfamiliar setting, reacting to you and your actual self."

Maura nodded. "Right. Right. So I just do what I would normally do." She turned to pick up the food. "I'll put these in the warmer. Should be just fine."

Covering her face with both hands for a long minute, Jane tried again. "Maura ... this is crazy. We could just have dinner and watch a movie ..." Her mind was racing. What Maura was asking of her ... wasn't what it sounded like ... couldn't possibly be what she meant. She could be awfully naive for a genius know-it-all.

"Of course we could, but I think this would be more fun. Besides, you were the one boasting before about how you had the owner of that club in the palm of your hand." She moved around the counter to stand closer to Jane, her posture somewhat defiant.

"Maura Isles ... are you daring me?" Jane's voice was almost a squeak.

"Are you backing down?"

They were staring at each other now, just a few feet apart. Jane took a deep breath and let it out slowly. When she spoke again, her voice was steely and firm. "IF I leave here and come back, two things will be true: You'll know exactly ... and I mean exactly ... what you're asking me to do and what you're getting yourself into ... I know why Giovanni was here that night."

She paused and waited for Maura to acknowledge her statement. Her heart was thudding now and she was surprised she wasn't shaking. When Maura nodded, equally confident, she continued. " ... and I will be completely and totally committed to my cover. You can't tease or try to trick me out of it ... because in reality you wouldn't know that's what it was."

Maura nodded again, her gaze still strong and clear. "Then we'd both better get changed."

It was a few more seconds before Jane could move to grab her stuff from the drawer and scoop up her jacket. Maura's voice stopped her as she reached the door.

"Hurry back."


Part 2

Jane had spent most of the ride home trying to convince herself to put on her pajamas, order a pizza, turn on the game and stay in for the night. She'd just call Maura and tell her she was exhausted, or that something had come up with Frankie, or ... well, something. That would be okay in this situation, right?

She had said IF she came back ....

On one level, she tried to reconcile the idea that Maura would even propose such a thing with the person she thought she knew. Yes, she was a bit eccentric, but this ... this was way over the top. Right? On the other hand, she knew Maura rarely said things she didn't mean. In fact she was the most direct person Jane had ever met. So she must have weighed the pros and cons of bringing up something this ... this ... crazy, really.

Every little voice that had ever spoken to her when she was in danger was piping up right now. Red flags, warning lights, stop signs. She was seeing them all. If she did this ... and she went all the way with it ... things would never be the same. Right?

Is that what she wanted? Deep down, where she almost couldn't look, she knew it was. Her feelings for Maura, the pull she constantly resisted ... they were her kryptonite. She'd never imagined any of it fully realized. Especially not at Maura's invitation. And who in their right mind would have expected such a screwy, out-of-left field suggestion like the one she'd debated since it had been mentioned.

The whole thing made her feel like she had fallen down the rabbit hole. Like she was rushing head first into unfamiliar and unsettling territory. Things like this just didn't happen in real life.

In her life.

No matter how many times she came up with the rational answer, no matter how many times she shut this particular door, in the very next thought, she reconsidered. She knew what was good for her. What the smart decision was. It was plain and it was simple. But much like the junkies she'd had to hang around with when she was doing honest-to-God undercover work, she just wouldn't deny herself the thing that she craved the most.

Which is why she was in the shower hastily shaving her legs.

Briefly she wondered if she should worry about her bikini line, but she forced that thought immediately from her head. For one, she didn't have time and for another ... they weren't actually going to get that far. This whole thing was like a weird sexual game of chicken. Both of them rushing head on toward each other until one of them blinked and turned away. Right?

"SON of a BITCH!" With a gasp she felt the intense sting of a razor cut just above her heel. Awkwardly hopping on the other leg, she thrust that foot under the shower spray. She needed to pay attention. Finishing up and shutting off the water, she emerged from the shower muttering to herself. "Focus. Focus. Focus."

If Maura wanted an authentic working class plumber, she'd make sure she got one. With a bit of a twist. Haphazardly toweling herself, she strode into her bedroom and yanked open her underwear drawer, rummaging around until she found the small slip of satin and lace she was looking for. She grimaced as she remembered the extremely uncomfortable lingerie party she'd been dragged to by her mother that resulted in this particular purchase. Resolutely she clamped down on the memory of her mother telling her how sexy "her panties" were. That was the last thing she needed in her head right now.

She had to admit they looked and felt wonderful. Too bad they would probably be covered up all evening. She zipped and snapped her most comfortable pair of jeans, worn so thin in places that they were almost like tissue paper -- and amazingly soft. They were also incredibly snug, like a second skin. It wasn't as if they were indecent, but she was aware of how they effectively showcased her ass.

As she put on her wardrobe for the evening she felt like she was also donning the persona of the woman she would become. J. -- she had decided -- would not wear a bra in this situation. It was a bold choice, considering the flimsy white tank she was tugging over her head, but it felt right, so she went with it.

Jane Rizzoli would have been incredibly self-conscious when she saw how revealing the top was in the mirror. But Jane wasn't the one who would be showing up at Maura's like this. J. De Luca was. She didn't think her mother would mind her borrowing her maiden name. She'd probably just be thrilled she was going on a date, even a bizarre one. Although Ma would probably pester her to wear more make-up.

Once she had brushed her teeth and pulled her boots on, she made a beeline for her closet. She was dispensing with jewelry for the evening as well. She'd learned long ago from her father that it didn't mix well with the job and only invited injury. For a moment she wondered if that was just his way of getting out of wearing his wedding ring, but she was too intent on finding what she was looking for to follow that idea any further.

She knew she had one of Pop's work shirts in here somewhere ... she relaxed a little when she finally placed her hands on the drab green garment with the embroidered patch on the front. Slipping into it, she noted that there was nothing she could do about the "Rizzoli & Sons" emblem blowing her cover. Then she mocked herself ruthlessly for even referring to this charade as such.

It was a game. Nothing like the life and death work she had done back in vice. Still, there was an extreme air of discomfort involved due to the uncertainty of the outcome and the fallout it could generate. There was a completely different level of exposure she was risking tonight, and it was crystal clear to her that she and Maura were both playing with fire.

Speaking of things that were hot, she had to admit the plumber's shirt she wore more like a jacket did little to temper the overall affect. The tight little tank that barely reached the waistband of the form fitting jeans would definitely get her noticed. And there would be no doubt about the kind of attention she was after.

Hell, Giovanni would be all over her if he got a look. Eww. Mentally she sent him a message that she was going to do a MUCH better job entertaining Dr. Isles tonight than he ever could. She smiled when she realized that the impression they had given him to get him to stop pursuing Maura was about to be more accurate than either of them had intended.

Still, even a hump like Giovanni had known to bring her gifts -- stupid ones, yes, but ... Dammit. Maura was expecting her to be back and that didn't leave time for her to come up with anything.

Snapping her fingers, Jane flew into the kitchen to retrieve a bottle of wine. She'd gotten it a while back, after she'd heard Maura mention the name fondly, and had intended to surprise her with it the next time the occasion warranted it. It would be perfect tonight. She wouldn't have to show up empty handed after all.

Grabbing her keys, she silently thanked Frankie for keeping Jo Friday for the weekend. He'd started borrowing the pup fairly often once he'd found out what a "chick magnet" she was when he took her to the park. Maybe we'll both get lucky tonight, little brother.

Jesus. She needed to keep telling herself that it was highly unlikely to happen or she was going to freak out. It would probably take less than ten minutes for both of them to burst out laughing about the whole thing. In fact, it was possible that she could get back to Maura's and find out that it was mostly a joke.

But her hands were beginning to itch with anticipation. If Maura did want to go through with it … did really want her …

She closed her eyes and leaned her forehead against the inside of the door. This was her last chance to stop this runaway train. It was now or never if she was on board. Now or never if she were going take the next step. God did she want to. The fear she had wasn't about going forward ... it was about never being able to go back.

Suddenly she had a clear image of Maura's face as she'd asked, "Are you backing down?" That's all she needed.

Hell no she wasn't backing down. Game on.


Part 3

Maura had watched the door close behind Jane with no small sense of satisfaction. She'd just proven several hypotheses in a very short span of time. And she'd managed to create highly favorable conditions for a tantalizing experiment with little or no preparation.

Though she should really stop thinking of this evening as an experiment. It was a great deal more complicated than that.

Still, she was better at approaching "complicated" with terms with which she was comfortable. As she'd moved to get ready for Jane's eventual return, she'd acknowledged that a true experiment had a control -- and so much about what was to unfold this evening was well out of hers. She just had to be certain that she mastered all of the elements that were.

How she looked, for example. Jane had said that she was supposed to do what she'd normally do, so she decided to wear the same outfit she'd worn the night Giovanni was exposed as such a colossal disappointment. Even though she would be "playing herself," she thought it might help her get more in character for the anticipated new-and-improved replay of the event.

Dabbing a tiny dot of perfume behind each ear and adjusting her neckline just so, she admired the finished look in the mirror. Despite the habitual teasing, Maura knew that Jane appreciated how she dressed. More accurately, Maura knew that at times it went beyond mere appreciation. As clueless as she could be about some aspects of common social interaction, she was quite astute at recognizing signs of physical attraction.

On more than one occasion, when Jane was greeting her or reacting to her presence, Maura had observed the slight dilation of her pupils, a faint flush on her cheek or neck, glances that lingered a fraction longer than normal on her cleavage or the curve of her hip, or the unconscious moistening of her lips. Jane's eyes frequently skittered away from her own when it seemed that Maura was close to raising an eyebrow or otherwise acknowledging the encounter.

Until now, she'd never pressed the issue. As wide open as Jane was with many of her emotions, this was one area that Maura was completely unsure how to navigate. It might be a purely biological response, after all. Maura was well versed in those and quite gratified by their existence. Some of her favorite experiences involved biological responses.

In order to take a better educated approach to this latest wrinkle in their personal dynamic, Maura needed more data.

For instance, Jane had twice posed questions designed to determine whether or not Maura wanted to be physically intimate with her. Of course, Maura was reasonably sure that in both of those instances the queries were extended more in jest rather than as actual attempts to acquire information.

However, she had read more than one study that indicated the use of humor in certain situations, or in regard to highly charged topics, was often an expression of hidden or timid truths. Verity disguised as levity as it were.

The last time Jane had broached the subject had been the day they'd run into Giovanni

-- when Jane had seemed so miffed and so adamant about talking Maura out of pursuing him any further.

From Maura's perspective, her attitude had been tinged with jealousy, but there was a fraction of a chance that the jealousy might have been over Giovanni himself. That had later proven to be categorically false, but it had reminded Maura of the first reference Jane had made about Maura coming on to her -- when Agent Dean had shown up at the house.

The common denominator between the two episodes, besides Jane's line of questioning, was Maura.

She was belatedly flattered. And more than a tad curious.

If Jane possessed an underlying desire to move their interaction past platonic, why hadn't she been more forthright about it? Was she unsure of her own inclinations? Was she fearful of the inevitable consequences or the potential negative reactions of others? Or was she merely unwilling to be the first to step out on the limb?

Maura was determined to find out tonight.

She couldn't have contrived better circumstances even if she'd had an unlimited amount of planning time. The table was beautifully set. The food, less than perfect due to the delay, was still superb. Smiling, she wondered if she should inform Alberto that from now on she'd order these same dishes as "the seduction special."

That was the intent of this exercise, wasn't it? Seduction … It had certainly been her goal when she'd basically insisted that Giovanni meet her for dinner here. She noted her choice of the word "exercise" in her own train of thought. Fascinating. Because she often equated sex with physical exercise, even in her arguments with Jane.

She had tried to convey at the time that she was only interested in Giovanni's physicality. And what she might do with it. She couldn't recall if she'd further exposited that fate must've played some role in her gravitation toward the mechanic, considering that "Don Giovanni" in Italian was the equivalent of "Don Juan" in Spanish.

Jane's disapproval had not been limited to her choice of partner. While she was certainly no prude, Jane was obviously uncomfortable with sex as recreation. It was actually quite endearing.

It was also why this evening was imbued with meaning greater than its circumstances. Maura had essentially laid down a gauntlet with her suggestion. If Jane chose to take it up, her presence would speak volumes about her feelings … toward Maura and about the definition and direction of their relationship.

Glancing around, she assessed the scene. She'd done everything except light the candles.

She knew the exact distance from here to Jane's apartment and could calculate the estimated time of the round trip, even allowing for Jane's erratic driving speed. But the unknown variable was how long Jane would ponder and debate her own decision. And what she would eventually decide.

Maura fully expected Jane to participate. Once the wheels had been set in motion, she'd never really had any doubt. She knew better than most that the detective could almost never resist a direct challenge, in any area of her life. In some ways, Maura felt that it gave others an unfair advantage. But one that she was not averse to using.

She had decided against music. Their tastes were so vastly different and she didn't want anything to spoil the mood. Right now, her own mood would be described as fantastic. She looked and felt great. Confident.

"So light the candles, Maura."

She realized she rarely talked to herself outside of work. This was a truly special occasion. She had a date she was looking forward to … that was enough to explain the familiar anticipatory flutter in her stomach.

She had a date with Jane.

There was absolutely nothing familiar about the sensation that thought provoked. She could identify the components of excitement and adrenaline. If she weren't a scientist, she might even refer to some aspect of it as, well … giddiness.

She was surprised to see her hand shake slightly as she struck the match and held the flame against the wick of the first candle.

"Why, Dr. Isles … I do believe you might be nervous."

Focusing as she finished her task, she caught herself almost humming. She scooped up the spent matches and straightened the edge of a placemat. One last time, she surveyed the room. She was a ready as she'd ever be …

Wine. She'd have a glass while she waited. Before she could reach the kitchen, the soft peal of the doorbell stopped her in her tracks.

This was it. Regardless of what she'd told herself up until this exact point in time, she felt her heart leap to her throat and her stomach drop simultaneously. For a moment she was completely frozen, then she heard a voice inside her head remind her: "Breathe."

Nodding, she took a few slow, deep breaths … her eyes closed and mind calming. Then smoothing her hands down over her skirt, she turned toward the door.

With all due respect to Frank R. Stockton, if everything went according to plan, she hoped to get the lady AND the tiger tonight …


Part 4

Maura had repeatedly tried to tell her friend that she was gorgeous, but she had always suspected that Jane believed that she was just being nice. The woman who stood in her doorway right now was simply stunning. Maura's pulse had quickened even before she'd answered the door, but now that it was open ...

She would never have expected the reaction she was having. Jane was fully dressed, but that seemed like a formality. The thin white top left very little to the imagination and her imagination was suddenly obsessed with every inch of it. The well-worn jeans fit like a glove, and the glimpse of skin visible just above them made Maura's mouth go dry.

Jane's incredible mane of hair looked so windswept and tousled that she wouldn't have been surprised to see a motorcycle helmet instead of the bottle of wine cradled against Jane's hip.

The image of all of this combined was breathtaking, but what was really throwing Maura so off kilter had nothing to do with styling or fashion.

It was Jane herself. Her bearing, her presence ... she was somehow different than Maura had ever known her. The frequently self-depreciating, self-described "goofball" was nowhere to be found. Everything about this person exuded confidence. A quiet yet powerful confidence that contained no whiff of arrogance or aggression. A total sense of casual control that was at once both magnetically calming and slightly disconcerting. Totally tempting and yet potentially dangerous.

The dark eyes never wavered as they scanned Maura's body with slow deliberate purpose before drawing up to meet her own. The intensity there was just as startling as the outfit she wore. Maura could feel it to her toes.

Dear God this version of Jane was almost unbearably sexy.

"Hi." It came out more like a gasp than a greeting.

A hint of a smile played about Jane's lips as she acknowledged the welcome. "You're beautiful."

Maura was surprised to find herself flustered. And blushing. "I ... everything's ready." She fought against rolling her eyes as she turned to the side and gestured with her arm toward the interior of the house.

Stepping across the threshold, her body sliding close to Maura's as if there was far less room to pass than there obviously was, Jane simultaneously pressed the bottle of wine into Maura's other arm and leaned in to place a soft kiss on her cheek. "Thanks for inviting me."

All of her motions were fluid, and she was well past Maura before the tingles caused by her breath and lips reached the hand that clutched the wine tightly to the doctor's side. Using the time it took to close the door and turn back around to steady herself and take a deep breath, Maura was determined to regain her equilibrium and level the tilted playing field.

Then she glanced up to see the small tear in the upper thigh of Jane's jeans, just under the denim-clad curve of her perfectly proportioned ass, and she felt the ground shift again. As she forced her eyes away from further distraction, they fell on the wine label. Her heart melted. Somehow, Jane had remembered ... from just a brief mention in a distant forgotten conversation ...

"I love this."

Her tone was hushed, full of appreciation and wonder. When their eyes met again, Maura didn't miss the small gleam of triumph she saw in the warm gaze.

"Good. I read about it somewhere and thought it might be right up your alley."

For a brief second, Maura was confused. Then the light went on again. Jane was here as someone else. A virtual stranger who shouldn't know about all of their previous interactions and conversations. It was the moment of clarity she needed to shift back into gear. Swiftly she moved toward the kitchen.

"Did you have any trouble finding the place?" She located the corkscrew and began opening the wine as she covertly observed Jane lean against the counter.

"No problem at all. You gave very good directions. I would have been here sooner, but I had to finish up at a job. Barely had time to shower and throw something on." Jane grinned. "I thought about dressing up for you, but decided that if we were going to have dinner in, casual and comfortable would be fine."

Maura concentrated on pouring the second glass. "Oh ... what you have on is ... fine." She took a shaky breath. "...absolutely fine." Her head snapped up as she suddenly had another thought. "I should have asked you before I assumed ... is wine okay for you? Would you rather have a beer? I have some ..."

Jane hid her amusement over Maura's stumbling manner well. "I'd love a beer later. Actually, I'm looking forward to tasting that ..." She nodded toward the bottle in Maura's hand. "I usually don't have wine because I know so little about it, but tonight I'll follow your lead."

Smiling brightly and trying not to read anything further into that comment, Maura handed her a glass. Then, picking up the remaining one and carrying the bottle, she moved toward the impeccably set table. As she placed both items near her place, she felt Jane move up behind her, stopping near her hip.

"Wow. Your idea of 'casual dinner at home' and mine are miles and miles apart." She could hear the admiration in Jane's humor. "Think less placemats and more pizza boxes. This is fantastic."

"Don't be too impressed. I didn't have time to do any of the cooking. Instead I picked up some of my favorites." Her hand hovered over each dish as she named them. "Mussels posillipo ... beef carpaccio with black truffle oil ... and fettuccine al grappa with organic baby tomatoes ..." Her voice trailed off as she remembered the disappointing response she'd had to this selection before.

"Ooo ... I love baby tomatoes."

Without hesitating, Maura took the closest deep red orb between her fingers and offered it to Jane, just inches from her face. The piercing intensity of the dark eyes fixed on hers once again threatened her balance. She willed her hand to stay still. Almost as if answering her plea, she felt Jane's hand circle her wrist, holding it in place as she leaned in to take the tomato into her mouth.

Maura felt her knees go weak at the first touch of Jane's lips on her fingers, but when the edges of her teeth gently scraped along the skin as she pulled away, Maura was certain that the only thing holding her up was the soft grip on her arm. She had to stifle a whimper as she watched Jane's eyes close and the tip of her tongue chase a small drop of juice at the corner of her mouth.

Every part of her body was impossibly warm. But that was nothing compared to the fire that spread through her when Jane gently turned her hand over and placed a kiss right in the center of her palm.

Trembling, she felt, and only barely heard, the murmur against her skin before Jane raised her head and slowly released Maura's arm.


The chill she felt without Jane's touch was such a strange contrast to the heat emanating from within. She'd never felt this combination of desire and disorientation. It was both completely unsettling and … yes, delicious.

She moved in virtual slow motion toward her chair, not surprised in the least to find Jane holding it out for her. As she adjusted herself at the table, she felt the warmth of Jane's lips press into the top of her head.

Her hands twisted the napkin in her lap as she struggled to control her emotions. Jane had kissed her three times now since she'd arrived. All three were simple, sweet kisses. Yet Maura was rocked to her core.

She had wanted to explore and assess the feelings between them, determine whether or not there was a sexual element to the relationship. She had planned to induce Jane to open up, show her hand … for them to discover together what potential this held.

The whole scenario seemed upside down. Despite being in her own environment, with everything according to her rules, she was not the one holding the reins. She could barely keep up.

Even though she had orchestrated the evening to dissect Jane's motivations and glean important insights, she was the one torn wide open. Right at this moment she could care less about thinking, or analyzing, or anything rational. There would be no debating or weighing of options. She knew what she wanted. She wanted more kisses. Everywhere.

She wanted Jane. Desperately.

In the back of her mind, she heard Jane's voice before she had returned to her apartment earlier, when she was laying all her cards out on the table:

" … I know why Giovanni was here that night."

Maura shivered at the memory. Of course Jane had known. She'd been crudely clear about her goal for that night. She'd wanted, in Jane's terms, to "get laid." That had seemed so simple, so cut and dried. This … this was nearly overwhelming.

But, because of what Jane had said -- promised really -- if Maura just somehow managed not to mess this up, she was going to get everything she wished for tonight. And then some.

The anticipation made her shift in her seat. Swallowing hard, she reached for her glass. Jane was already tilting her own glass toward hers for a toast.

"To tonight."

As the rims clinked together, Maura wondered how in the world she was going to make it through dinner.

Dear God.

She had to focus. Serve the food. Make conversation. Stop looking at Jane's nipples in the nearly see-through tank top.

She took another healthy sip of wine and reached for the tongs in the salad.

"So … is the 'J' short for something?"

Jane nodded as she held her plate to receive the portion Maura was lifting out of the bowl. "Yeah …. Julianna."

Smiling as she served herself, Maura continued. "That's such a lovely name."

"My parents thought so. Not such a great name for a plumber, though." She stretched to retrieve one of the pasta dishes. "Each time Pop would get a call and need to send one of us out, if he told them to expect me … 'Julianna's on the way' or something similar … they would have a sudden change of heart."

Maura paused to scowl and raise her chin slightly. "That's a ridiculous bias."

"Maybe, but it's real life." Jane surveyed the table until she saw the parmesan cheese in the hand grater. "So, anyway, at my suggestion, Pop starting using just my initial. 'J. will be right over to fix that up for ya.' By the time I got there, even if they were pissed, they'd usually want the problem fixed more than they wanted to make a point."

Nodding as she sliced a small piece of carpaccio, Maura made a mental note that Jane had studiously avoided the raw beef dish. Steak and potatoes were more her style. Still she was impressed that Jane seemed to be enjoying the wine and the pasta.

"After a while, J. just stuck. I liked it and it made a lot of things easier. Only my mother calls me Julianna now."

"When I saw you, that night at Merch, I would have never imagined you were a plumber."

Raising one eyebrow, Jane took a sip of wine before she countered. "And I would never have believed that you cut up dead people."


"What did you think? When you first saw me?"

Maura wiped her mouth daintily with her napkin as she pondered the question. "I thought you were strikingly attractive. You didn't seem to be looking for anyone, and were quite okay being by yourself … I think some of the women there found you very intimidating because of your self-confidence, your aloof manner."

"But you didn't. You approached me right away."

"I was intrigued. And I like a challenge. Besides, you were the most gorgeous person in the room."

Jane was shaking her head. "No, I couldn't have been." She held up her finger to stop Maura from protesting. "Not once you walked in."

Despite the fact that they were pretending, flirting this way, Maura felt herself blush again. She was well aware that they had both stopped eating. "Did you want some dessert? Some more wine?"

"Maybe later on the dessert." Jane looked toward the couch. "Can I take you up on the wine over there?"

"I'd like that." Maura could feel her heart start hammering. She hoped her legs would work long enough to make it to the living room. Before she could push her chair back, Jane was there behind her, being so chivalrous. She was embarrassed to find that she stayed motionless longer than they both expected, hoping for another kiss …. somewhere ... anywhere.

Standing finally, she started to lean for the wine bottle, but Jane waved her away.

"Go ahead and get settled. I'll bring it."

Her pulse skipping, she could feel Jane watching her as she walked. She moved haltingly around the end of the sofa, sliding sideways onto it and looking back toward the table.

Biting her lip, she saw Jane remove the work shirt, revealing her shoulders and sculpted upper arms. Bringing even more emphasis to her chest. Her hair swinging sideways as she picked up the wine and turned toward Maura. Moving steadily closer, smoothly, making Maura's heart nearly stop.

This was crazy. She had seen Jane nearly naked before. They had changed clothes in front of each other, worked out together in tight-fitting minimal outfits. None of those occasions had ever affected her this way.

How had things changed so dramatically and so quickly? Or had they been on this collision course all along?

Her mind was reeling, her thoughts a blur. Was she only responding to a sexually charged situation she had set in motion? How much of this was part of the act? Did she even care?

She just didn't want wait any longer. She wanted to run her hands through that thick dark hair. She wanted to feel how thin that tank top really was as she peeled it off. She wanted to slide her hands into the back pockets of those jeans and anchor Jane's hips against her …

She wanted Jane so much she was nearly incoherent, and Jane had barely touched her. Once she did …

Dear God. She might not survive it.

Le petite mort. The phrase that invaded her mind at that moment had never seemed so appropriate. The little death …

Couldn't come soon enough.


Part 5

As she watched Jane refill the wine glasses, Maura couldn't quite get over the surreal nature of the evening. It wasn't only the juxtaposition of the current setting with the still-cringe-inducing Giovanni debacle. It wasn't because there had been such an explicit and mutually agreed upon suspension of reality. Truth be told, it was just hard for her to believe what was happening. Despite their proximity and position on the couch.

It was difficult to comprehend even though her strategy going forward had been totally based on seducing the woman to her right. The woman who had immediately cast a spell on her and had kept her practically backpedaling all night.

Granted, Maura had laid the groundwork, set the mood, provided the atmosphere. She had also dressed to impress. But Jane ...well, there had been no doubt about who had the upper hand from the moment she'd stepped into the room.

What was so perplexing, however, was the degree to which Maura found herself accepting it. Welcoming it, though it went against every grain of her control conscious personality. She was more than just okay with it; she was incredibly aroused by it.

"This is a really, really nice place you have here. It definitely suits you."

Maura nodded, content for a brief moment to let the low husky timbre of Jane's voice wash over her. "I like it."

"I like this. Being here with you." Jane took a sip of her wine and leaned forward to place the glass on the table. Once her hand was free, she curled it behind the ankle nearest to her, raising the leg Maura had crossed until it was level with the edge of the sofa cushion. "I'd like it even more if you'd take these off and relax …"

Maura could scarcely breathe, much less verbally acquiesce, she was so mesmerized by the caress of Jane's fingers along the back of her lower leg. Thankfully, Jane didn't seem to be actually seeking permission.

Sliding off the first shoe, Jane brought her other hand over to cradle Maura's foot while she held up the pump to examine it. "I'll never understand how you can walk in these all day with the heel so incredibly high. Never mind be highly functional."

Her thumb massaged Maura's arch as she lowered the shoe to the floor and captured the remaining ankle, causing Maura to shift backward against the arm of the couch.

Maura was amazed that she didn't stammer as she managed to reply. "They really are quite comfortable. Besides, they make my legs look fabulous."

Dropping the second shoe with a soft thud, Jane slowly rubbed both feet as she raked her eyes over the curve of Maura's thigh as it disappeared under her skirt.

"Sweetheart, you don't need them for that."

With all her might, Maura was resisting the impulse to close her eyes and twist or arch her back in pleasure at Jane's ministrations. Realizing she had a death grip on the stem of her wine glass, she forced her voice to near normal. "Fair is fair."

The last thing she wanted to do was move her feet away from Jane's toe-curling efforts, but it was about preserving her sanity at this point. As gracefully as possible, she swung them toward the floor and placed her glass in Jane's hands. Pointing toward Jane's boot, she challenged, "Come on, raise it up here."

Settling backward a bit, with a knowing look that indicated she could see right through Maura's time-out tactic, Jane slowly eased her leg up -- purposely using the sole of her boot to push the hem of Maura's skirt higher as she rested it in her lap. The sexy smirk said that she was enjoying all of this immensely.

Her fingers finding the zipper on the side of the boot, Maura tugged it down. The sound seemed unnaturally loud to her already roaring ears. To make matters worse for her fragile bravado, her eyes were focused on the front of Jane's jeans as the zipper gave way.

The effect of this mental allusion on her over-stimulated synapses was twofold: She was immediately wetter than she could fathom at the mere suggestion of unzipping Jane's pants … and she reflexively pulled harder than she'd intended, dislodging the boot but wrenching Jane's leg forward in the process.

Before Jane could recover, a significant splash of wine had christened the front of her shirt. Maura watched as she deftly deposited the glass onto the table behind the sofa, lest any further damage be done, and glanced down at herself.

"Oh my god … I'm so sorry …"

Jane was already waving it off without looking back up, but Maura wasn't so easily pacified. Discarding the boot and moving closer, her hand went impulsively to the stain – almost as if she were going to blot it without the benefit of a cloth or towel.

She nearly gasped as her fingers made contact, absorbing the warmth of Jane's skin underneath and feeling the upper abdominal muscles spontaneously contract in response to her touch.

The most exciting result of her impromptu (if futile) assistance however, was that Jane's nipples – already so visible regardless of their flimsy cover – stiffened noticeably, ratcheting the level of tension building in Maura's body up a few thousand notches.

Her tenuous restraint was disappearing and this time she exhaled with a semi-strangled, "Ohhh …"

Mistaking her demeanor for continued chagrin, Jane gently seized both of her hands and dipped her head to make eye contact.

"Sweetie, it's okay … listen, I don't even like this shirt. It's nothing … " She let Maura's fingers slip away from her, reaching instead for the hem of the garment in question. "Look, I can make it go away."

On the verge of swooning as she followed Jane's hands, watching with bated-breath as they twisted the bottom of the tank top and began to lift, Maura's mind went completely blank. If Jane removed it …

Frozen, she could scarcely take in what Jane's motions meant as she pulled the collected handful of cloth from the lower part of the shirt down through the neckline -- creating the sexiest makeshift halter top Maura had ever seen.

She could only stare fixedly at the way it framed and accentuated Jane's breasts, while baring the smooth toned skin of her well-defined midriff.

Jane's words could have come from another planet.

"See … all better. No worries."

Her gaze drawn to the scar that was now exposed, Maura didn't reply right away. She had seen the evidence of Jane's self-inflicted wound numerous times, each one a piercing reminder of what had almost been sacrificed; the magnitude of what might have been lost. This occasion was no different in that regard.

What was radically new at this moment was Maura's powerful inclination to brush her lips over it, run her tongue along its edges, kiss it again and again. To take the harsh memories away.

Her vocal chords, paralyzed for what felt like an interminable amount of time, were practically pleading with her brain to express some of her wishes, emotions … anything. Instead, her short-circuited thought processes and over-taxed nervous system allowed something much more random and trivial.

"The indentation in the middle of the area between the nose and the upper lip has a name, you know. It's called the philtrum. Scientists have yet to figure out what purpose it serves, though the ancient Greeks thought it to be one of the most erogenous places on the entire body."

Maura would have been utterly mortified by her bizarre compulsion to blurt out educational bulletins at inopportune times, but when Jane smiled warmly and cocked an eyebrow, her bones turned to jelly.

"Yeah? And what do you think, Doctor? You have some hefty credentials. Is it?"

Shifting, she shed the remaining boot with little fanfare and waited for Maura to answer.

"Given the right conditions, I would say 'yes'."

"Conditions similar to these?"

"Practically ideal."

Rising up onto her knees, Jane bent to angle Maura's legs onto the sofa again, almost exactly where they had been during the short-lived foot massage.

"You said 'one of the most' … that would indicate that there are others."

"Most definitely. Any you have in mind?"

Jane crawled forward, her right knee sliding between Maura's … the left against the back of the couch.

"Oh yeah … plenty."

Every cell in Maura's body was shouting at her to reach out and pull Jane down on top of her, to end the divine agony of anticipation … Instead, she remained spell-bound as she felt Jane grip her ankle once again, maneuvering her leg so that it bent upward.

Her eyes finally closed and her head tilted back toward the arm of the couch as Jane delicately stroked the back of her leg, centering on the underside of her knee.

Distantly she heard Jane murmur with satisfaction, "I think that one makes the list."

Maura could do little more than urge her on by using her leg to apply pressure at Jane's hip, prodding her closer. When Jane captured her wrist, mirroring her earlier hold as she'd eaten the tomato from Maura's fingers, she collapsed completely against the cushions, unable to brace herself upright any longer.

Her breathing pattern was completely erratic as Jane lightly scraped a fingernail along the inside of her wrist, giving her goose-bumps everywhere even while she was burning up.

Tracing the same circle over and over, Jane continued. "I've always been fascinated by this spot right here. So vulnerable and vibrant at the same time." She pressed her lips softly to the area her fingers had targeted, her voice vibrating into Maura's skin. "I can feel your pulse pounding."

"You can feel anything you want …"

Jane's rumbling chuckle sent a fresh wave of shivers racing through her, heightening her senses even more. As Jane released her hand and placed it along the top of the sofa, she was aware of Jane's body moving directly above her own. Before she could open her eyes to re-orient herself, Jane dragged one finger along the neckline of her blouse.

Her sharp intake of breath nearly eclipsed Jane's commentary. "Some places are far more obvious than others. Unfortunately, most of them are usually covered by clothes."

Arching her back at last, Maura unconsciously moistened her lips as Jane skimmed her cleavage with feather-light flourishes. "They don't have to be …"

In one part of her mind, she marveled that she was able to reply with any semblance of language, so much of the remainder seemed so shaken and slurred. But she was obviously still successfully communicating because she heard the catch in Jane's breath at her suggestion.

It was only the faintest falter, but it sent a new surge of adrenaline through Maura's veins. Jane wasn't impervious to the current that swept around them. She was caught up in it as well.

She had further evidence of such when Jane's forehead came to rest at her collarbone, her hair cascading around her, like silk against Maura's sensitized skin.

Jane remained motionless for a moment, apparently gathering herself, the warmth of her breath fogging the area just above Maura's thundering heart. When she spoke again, the raspy quality of her voice was rougher and deeper.

"I find that some of the most erotic spots are those that are the most innocent looking. That can be exposed to the public. In broad daylight."

She nudged Maura's chin higher, the motion completely baring her neck.

"This is one of my absolute favorites …"

Maura whimpered as Jane's lips found the hollow of her throat. The push/pull sensations of the tiny nibbles and whisper kisses seemed to literally flood her body. She was soaked.

With her extensive medical knowledge and background, in any other situation, she would have excelled at describing in detail the processes and biological triggers that resulted in her current state. Right now, she could only form three thoughts: yes … more …

"Jane …" It was at once reverent, feverish, and pleading.

The immediate center of her universe was kissing and biting up the side of her neck, becoming less and less gentle as Maura squirmed in response. "And … when you wear your hair up … I love this place … right here …"

Maura cried out as Jane's lips fastened securely beneath her ear, marking the juncture of her jaw and her neck. The steady, greedy suction applied there, raising her blood to surface, mimicking the throbbing that wracked her whole body, was turning her inside out. The reverberating moans were driving her wild.

"Jane …"

The hand that Maura had been using to hold onto the top of the sofa flew to the back of Jane's head, fingers finally burying into the dark tresses she'd itched to touch. She was trembling so hard by the time Jane released the pressure on her neck that she felt she had to hang on for dear life, to stay above the surface, to keep from falling. When Jane swiped her tongue across the area she'd just left, soothing and scorching it, she clutched even harder.

"Oh God ..."

Jane's hand slipped under her head, gripping with nearly the same strength, forcing it back up after she'd flung it almost violently backward. Maura could feel her so close now, her breath bathing the side of her cheek, the corner of her mouth. They were both panting.

Maura's chest was heaving a few inches below Jane's. Now matter how she contorted or bowed her back, she couldn't make contact, even using the hand tangled in Jane's hair for leverage.

She reached out blindly with the other, finding Jane's forearm where it was supporting her weight. The tremors she felt signaled the effort it was taking Jane to hold herself up … hold herself back

Knowing that they both were at the breaking point, Maura was shocked when Jane placed a gentle, tender kiss just above her upper lip.

"Here?" Jane's nose nuzzled just below her own, her voice now a crushed whisper. "Well? What's the verdict? Is it …?

Their previous playful discussion of erogenous zones had long been carried away by the tide of passion Maura had succumbed to. She was mildly stunned that Jane could keep it together enough to reference it, but even more impressed and turned on.

"Yes! Jane … please …" She was going to scream.

"Maura …" The way Jane groaned her name, as if it had been ripped from inside her, went straight to Maura's soul, causing her to wrench her eyes open, to try to focus them on Jane. Absorb every aspect of what was happening, what was taking her apart.

The magnitude of hunger she read, the depth of raw emotion, made her ache. And nearly come.

"Please … now …" The words had scarcely cleared her lips when they were devoured by a bruising kiss. None of the prior tenderness remained, as the last of Jane's self-control seemed to have vanished. Once the dam had broken, the assault on Maura's senses was relentless.

She was jolted by the crash of Jane's body finally, mercifully, against her own. Reacting like a switch had been tripped, she boldly hooked her leg around Jane's thigh, pulling as close as the restrictive skirt would allow. Frantic to increase the friction between them.

Her free arm slid around Jane's back, reveling in the bare skin along her spine, down into her jeans. She wanted to burst with joy when she felt the seismic shudder travel the length of Jane's form as Maura writhed beneath her. Instead she dug her fingernails lightly into Jane's scalp, longing to feel it again.

Jane's ferocious kisses were overwhelming her. Stealing her breath, creating an unquenchable thirst for the next one. And the next.

When Jane's other hand grasped the side of her face, framing her cheek from her temple to her jaw, pinning her in place, Maura felt completely submerged. Drowning in her own need but dying to push Jane over the same edge. Fervently matching each parry and stroke.

In the brief moments while Jane's lips were torn from hers, she could make out various tones and delirious phrases. It didn't matter that the words themselves didn't register in her swirling consciousness; the visceral texture of Jane's voice was enough to set off sparks and spasms inside of her.

Maura loved sex. Every aspect of it. What she was feeling, experiencing now was so far beyond her frame of reference that it was nearly frightening. She couldn't get enough.

She rocked her hips up sharply and delighted in the guttural grown she elicited. Then the wind was knocked out of her in a gasp as Jane thrust her lower body down hard in response, driving Maura to claw at her back in an attempt to maintain the staggering connection. The incredible heat melting her everywhere.

"Jesus Maura …"

It was a tortured exclamation that made Maura even hotter. She was struck by the fact that at one time, all she had wanted was for the moronic, mono-syllabic Giovanni to shut up so that she could enjoy his body. Yet here she was with an insatiable craving for every noise, every utterance from the woman in her arms. Especially if she were the cause of them.

Her hand snaked in between their bodies, fumbling for the closure at the front of Jane's jeans. If she could just …

She was temporarily distracted by Jane's deep, delving, shattering kiss. It was so mind-blowingly erotic that white lights flashed behind her eyelids and her fingers went numb. Oh God … if she had never known this ….

But for these circumstances, would she ever have? Would Jane have ever risked crossing this line? What if they had missed this forever? She wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. If Giovanni had been a fantastic, or even decent, sexual partner this whole scenario might never have existed.

She didn't believe in fate, but surely he had served purpose. Maybe their little ploy in his garage had been foreshadowing. Another attempt by her subconscious to get them to this point. Strange that Jane's arms around her then gave no hint of the gut-wrenching rapture she'd feel with Jane pressing her into her couch.

Like most men, he'd been excited by the mere inference of the two of them together. If he could see them now it would probably put him into a coma. Maura smiled as she ran her tongue over Jane's lower lip, before sucking it softly and releasing it. She was thrilled with way things had turned out.

Her fingers crawled lower, pushing Jane's zipper down almost in slow motion, stopping this time as Jane's teeth sank into the muscle at the base of her neck. Instinctively, she clutched Jane's head and tightened her leg around the back of her thigh. Then Jane was kissing and rubbing her lips down the plane of Maura's chest, sending her reeling once again.

She knew she was going to snap before Jane's mouth reached her breast, the obscene anticipation squeezing her like a vise. She was barely aware that she was babbling.

"So good … God … would never … have … Giovanni …. "

It took a split second for her to realize that Jane had gone absolutely still. Another beat before she felt her begin to pull away. No. No!

Jane was up on all fours by the time Maura could open her eyes. Through her haze she saw Jane's expression, startled almost … as if she'd been slapped. The hurt and confusion reflected in her question.

"You're thinking about him?"

Trying to assimilate all that was happening, Maura was befuddled. "No! … I mean … well … yes, but …"

She'd thought the look of pain on Jane's face was the worst thing she'd ever see, but in less than the time it took both of them to sit up, she knew she was wrong. She noted a muscle twitch as Jane clenched her jaw hard, her face set. But it was far more devastating to see the light suddenly shuttered in her eyes, replaced by blankness and then a glint of pure fury.

"Jane, wait …"

Maura reached for her too late. She was off the couch like a shot, scooping up her boots and straightening her shirt without missing a step. Uttering a steady stream of expletives as she stormed toward the dining table.

"Goddamn it!" She snatched her work shirt from the back of one of the chairs. "Son of a BITCH!"

"Jane! Wait!" Maura could feel her panic building. She had to fix this. She had to make Jane listen, understand … but her opportunity to do so was slipping away.

"I knew better. We knew better! Jesus." She spun around and glared as Maura approached her, her face so clouded by anger that it was nearly transformed. "This was so fucking stupid! Crazy as hell!"

She made a beeline for the door.


Jane yanked the door open with a vengeance. "One of us should have stopped this … before it went too far. It should have been me."

The door slammed so hard that the windows rattled and the wall shook. Maura was left standing just inside it – in shock.

Speaking as much to herself as to the last spot Jane had been, she whispered, "That's all I was trying to say. It should have been you."

"It should have always been you."


Part 6

If Jane had been thinking clearly, she might have been disturbed by the fact that she was practically careening down the streets of Boston on automatic pilot. Her mind was somehow guiding her to make the right turns and stops, but it wasn't due to actual conscious thought.

She was consumed by a mass of emotions, chief among them pure rage. Directed primarily at herself.


She'd shouted it numerous times since she'd flung herself into the car, even before she'd started the engine. Each exclamation had been punctuated with a sharp slam of the heel of her left hand to the top of the steering wheel.

If the goal of her somewhat violent outbursts was to lower the level of hostility she felt, it wasn't working. Not yet.


Her sock-covered foot pressed the accelerator harder. The main impulse propelling her now was to flee. Run. Get far, far away from her humiliation and hurt.

The screech of her tires as she slid to a stop at a red light brought her back toward sanity. Not all the way there, but in the right direction. She couldn't get away from this.

"FUCK!" Her hand was starting to really smart from the repeated impact it was sustaining but she didn't care.

The tears she had warned herself to hold back threatened to spill over as she let her composure crack just enough to remember that same hand reverently touching Maura's skin …

She shook herself hard as the light changed, banishing any further reminders, holding on tight to the slim thread of control she still had. She had to get home.


She should have stayed home. She should have never gone back. … She'd known from the moment she left to go to Maura's that she was hurtling down a one way street to total disaster. But she had ignored every single shred of sense she thought she'd had.

Just like she was ignoring the incessant ring of her phone. It had started almost immediately after she'd peeled away from the curb. She had no intention of answering. No intention of listening to any "explanation" of what had just happened.

Even the ring itself was insulting. She angrily stabbed the power off and hurled the cell into the passenger side floorboard. She didn't want to hear it. She didn't want to hear any of it.

She'd heard enough already.

For all the trepidation she'd felt on the way to Maura's, when she'd actually stepped out of her car it had almost been like Superman emerging from an old phone booth. She was totally committed to the character Maura had requested and -- somewhat irrationally because of her "disguise" -- she felt nearly invincible.

With a swagger she'd approached the door, smiling as she mused, "One sexy lesbian plumber at your service, ma'am." She was going to enjoy this for as long as she could. Damn the consequences.

Maura looked stunning, as usual. But this time, Jane let herself look, lingering wherever she wanted. And then she said what she was thinking – without making a joke or a backhanded compliment. It felt wonderful.

She couldn't divine secrets by reading a person's orbital muscular what-ever-the-hell, but she made a career out of picking up on clues and subtle reactions. The incredibly poised and composed Dr. Isles had been flustered by her direct appraisal and manner. Jane found it adorable.

She was even more emboldened when she felt Maura tremble as she brushed by her and kissed her cheek. It was totally empowering to be the one who wasn't uneasy or on edge. As ridiculous as this whole set-up might have been, it was working for her. For the moment at least.

And Maura loved the wine! It didn't matter if Jane was pretending to be someone else, she'd gotten that right. As badly as she may have wanted another beer, she was going to join Maura. Hopefully find out what was so special about this particular brand and vintage. Because it would make Maura smile.

Any worries she might have had about her clothing choices were erased as she realized how easily distracted Maura was by the ensemble. Jane wanted to grin at the obvious glances and the lapses in concentration, but she was afraid to break the spell. There would be plenty of time to tease Maura about it in the future.

Since it was much later than they'd planned to eat dinner, Jane was hungry. The restaurant take out Maura had so elegantly presented smelled heavenly. She didn't care about any of the fancy names or whether they were signature dishes. She spied pasta and she was all in. And then Maura was holding a glistening baby tomato right in front of her …

Jesus it was erotic to eat it right from her fingers! She loved the flash she saw in Maura's eyes as her lips made contact. She had to force herself not to suck the fingers completely into her mouth … use her tongue to foreshadow further intimacies … As it was, Maura's tiny staggered exhalation made her close her eyes and draw away before she derailed everything.

When she heard the barest hint of a whimper, she couldn't resist prolonging the moment. Ever so slowly, she'd turned Maura's palm toward her and kissed it, delighting in the knowledge that even that small gesture was having such an affect on her companion. She was just getting started.

As she helped Maura move her chair up to the table, she was nearly intoxicated by the smell of her hair, her perfume … her. She leaned to place a kiss against the crown of her head, not caring if it seemed a bit patronizing or maternal. She just wanted to.

The fact was that Jane couldn't help herself. No, that wasn't right … the fact that she knew she'd been basically given permission to help herself – to whatever she wanted – was astonishing and hard to wrap her mind around. She had the impulse to do so, and quickly, but …

She couldn't escape the feeling that she had to be careful or the whole thing would fall apart. Dissipate like a dream with any sudden movement. Part of her was waiting for her time to be up, the clock to run out, the whistle to blow. For Maura to call "cut" and the scene to be wrapped up. Maybe if she just moved slowly enough, with deliberation and care, she could make this last.

Jesus Christ did she want it to last.

It was fun flirting openly with Maura, hell – it was amazing. Never mind that she was making things up right and left to keep the charade going. The interaction was electric. Their banter throughout dinner kept her on her toes, but she didn't need any incentive to keep her eyes on Maura's face. She was so damn gorgeous.

Jane wanted to keep telling her as much. Wanted to see the blush that crept over her features when she heard it, as if it were coming from someone who mattered. Wanted to see her skin flushed with heat all over … everywhere.

She couldn't get Maura to the couch fast enough. Pausing to remove her work shirt gave her time to remember to pace herself … to not push too hard. It also gave her another rush of pure liberation.

She was more and more exposed and she didn't care. Tonight she wasn't going to be inhibited by any of her doubts or hang ups. She was going to be the person she always wished she could be. She was going to follow her heart.

Besides, she was in the best of hands.

As she pulled into her customary parking space and killed the engine, Jane's temper had finally cooled. She was grateful that she'd made it home in one piece and without collateral damage. Dammit, now there was something else to chastise herself about.

Slumping forward against the wheel, she let the weight of her distress overwhelm her. She couldn't even muster the energy it took to hold her head up, much less get herself together enough to get into her apartment.

Her eyes were squeezed together but she could feel the tears making their way through. She had been so stupid to believe … to think …. Of course, no one would ever mistake her for the smart one. And no one would ever accuse Maura of being the devious one.

No. This was on her. She had rejected any and all evidence that didn't point toward her preferred outcome. Maura had been clear from the beginning that the whole thing was fantasy. It was Jane's own fault that her fantasy involved both of them accepting that everything between them had been real.

What a crushing wake up call reality had turned out to be.

Roughly swiping her eyes, she looked toward her building. Even though it was dark, she didn't want anyone to see her in her current state. With a deep sigh she struggled into the plumber's shirt and haphazardly buttoned it up.

Opening the car door, she turned in the seat so that her stocking feet were hanging just above the pavement. Wearily she tugged her boots on, trying with all her might not to see Maura's face as she'd removed the first one earlier. It was impossible.


This time it was said almost under her breath, all the fire gone. Blinking furiously she stood and swung the door shut. Dammit, you can wait a few more yards before you totally lose it.

Get inside and then you can break down. Break. Everything was broken now.

Son of a bitch. Everything was shattered.

Blindly climbing the front steps, she was filled with dread.

Fuck all the King's horses and all the King's men …

Nothing was ever going to be the same again.


Part 7

As she let herself into her dark apartment, Jane regretted allowing Frankie to take Jo Friday for the weekend. She needed some unconditional love in the form of puppy kisses. Instead she was alone.

Wearily she flipped the lock and hit the lights, tossing her keys into the dish near the door. She'd come home from some pretty rough days on the job, literally beaten. Right now she couldn't think of a time that she felt so low. She could use a beer. Hell, she could use a keg.

Unbuttoning her shirt, she made her way toward her small kitchen. She stopped to toss what had amounted to the finishing touch of her costume across the back of chair at the counter. She doubted she'd ever want to wear it again.

Her eyes fell to the garish stain on the front of her tank. Speaking of things she'd never wear again … It was ruined. A lot of things were ruined. Sighing, she quickly stripped off the top and sent it sailing into the trash.

Damn it was cold. She swiftly moved to the hamper and fished out her long-sleeved softball shirt. It hadn't been washed, but what the hell. She was the only one here and it did the job.

She winced as her hand closed around the handle on the refrigerator door. Shit. She'd forgotten about the abuse it had taken against the steering wheel. At least it wasn't her gun hand. Using the other one to open the fridge and retrieve a beer, she tried to shake off the dull, throbbing pain.

It was probably going to get worse if she didn't ice it. Popping open the beer and taking a long swig, she wondered how she could be such a mess at this point in her life. She wasn't sure she wanted an answer.

There were some pains that she wouldn't be able to simply shake off.

As she looked into the freezer, a wave of grief hit her along with the blast of frosty air. Her bruised hand carefully lifted out the circular gel pack that resembled a stuffed animal. Maura had bought it for her as an affectionate jab at her many injuries and scrapes.

The original tag had called it a "Boo Boo Pal" and it was clearly intended for toddlers and small children. Something to help them through the sting of having their "ouchies" tended to. Maura had chided that it suited her because she sometimes pouted and acted like a child when she was supposed to be sitting still and letting someone else fix her up.

One side was a smooth pad that was designed to rest against the skin. The other had a smiling monkey face that reminded them both of Curious George. That was another pointed tweak Maura had emphasized … Jane and George had a lot in common when it came to following rules or wandering off into trouble.

Almost immediately Jane dubbed it "Freezer Monkey" and referred to it as such when she used it or asked for it. Pressing it into her palm, she flashed back to all the times Maura's concerned countenance had hovered over her while she checked and evaluated various traumas and scars.

She remembered the soft chill of Freezer Monkey pressed against her temple while Maura's delicate fingers felt for further wounds in her scalp. And the time she'd balanced him on her split knuckles while Maura scowled through a lecture about "intelligent use of force."

Making her way to the sofa, she was slowly absorbing the full scope of her losses tonight. The easy intimacy they'd perfected, the freedom they'd felt to press each other's sore spots without fear of harsh repercussions, the assumption and assurance that the other one would always be there … no matter what.

Jesus what had they done?

As soon as she kicked off her boots and settled back against the couch -- beer in one hand, Freezer Monkey soothing the other -- Jane's mind refused any instructions she tried to give it. Almost against her will, she was replaying the events of the evening …

In retrospect, it was probably the moment the wine had spilled that removed any remaining trace of "character portrayal" on her part. The person trying to reassure Maura that no harm had been done was 100% Jane.

And when Maura had burst out with that goofy reference to upper lip erogenous zones, it felt like they were both exactly who they were supposed to be. Only perilously close to making out.

Even now her skin tingled as she recalled the rapturous look on Maura's face as Jane's fingers found the soft crevice behind her knee … the irregular breathing she induced by toying with Maura's wrist … the beautiful struggle she witnessed as she caressed the tantalizing curves just barely exposed by the neckline of Maura's blouse.

Again she relived the sharp jolt that coursed through her at Maura's not-so-subtle encouragement to remove the damn thing altogether … the threat that suggestion had been to her plan to go slow, gradually increase the build up … make Maura crazy for her next move …

The small niggling doubt she had tried to squelch played into it as well. If her progression was methodical and obvious, then each step of the way gave Maura a chance to call it off. To back down before they crossed too much of a line with this "game." To put a stop to the whole thing.

She heard her voice in her head scoff. You wouldn't have stopped … you were already too far gone. You would have tried to convince her … to tempt her … you probably would have even begged. But you wouldn't have stopped.

Just like you can't stop thinking about it right now.

Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.

She'd fought with herself earlier as she'd leaned against Maura's shoulder. Her body was screaming at her to unleash everything she felt, desired and dreamed of … to stop denying what was right in front of her, beneath her.

But she held back … as hard as it was … willing herself to be sure. To finish what she'd started.

Hearing her name in Maura's moans had nearly destroyed her, left her quaking. She knew she was losing control even as she tried to lock it down. Asking those last few questions had nearly killed her. And then … God …

Looking into Maura's eyes … saying everything with her own … having it all reflected back … Jesus that was her undoing.

Jane bit her lip, her heart in her throat … blocking the sobs that otherwise would have escaped. She could feel the warm tracks of tears painting her cheeks but made no move to divert them.

Her internal argument raged on.

Stop torturing yourself. Don't go any further. You don't need to "see" or feel anymore.

I have to. It's all I've got. It's all I'll ever have.

Although she'd die rather than admit it to anyone else, Jane was a true romantic. Her tough exterior shielded her from many things, and her volatile temperament covered most of her vulnerabilities. Sarcasm was a decent defense mechanism as well.

Despite her best efforts to the contrary, she honestly believed that there was someone for everyone. She believed in soul mates. She made fun of herself for that notion, but still, she harbored hope.

Without really being aware of it, she'd been searching for "the one." Expecting that when she met the right person, she'd just know … feel it somehow. As corny as it sounded, and she knew how it sounded, she had been waiting all her life for that moment.

At times her wishful thinking had put Maura in that role. Tried it on for size. Always reprimanding herself for being so silly and insane for going there. It was impossible on so many levels.

And yet … tonight … when she'd found herself falling into the depths of Maura's desperate gaze, everything had been so clear. This was it. This is what it felt like. What she'd been missing.

She knew that the phrase "sealed with a kiss" referred to love letters and the like, but when she finally, finally found Maura's lips with her own, lost herself in the taste and feel and heat of heaven, it was totally redefined.

It sealed them inside another world, their own space. Nothing else mattered or even existed. Just this closeness, this freedom … this miracle.

Everything was urgent and timeless. Completely contradictory. She needed to pause to take it all in and rush forward all at once. She needed more. She had it all.

Jesus Christ … Maura's hands on her shook her from any moorings that remained. The vise grip of her leg yanking Jane even harder into the incredible body writhing under her, trying to push through her. Explosions rocked her everywhere. She was on fire.

And just like that … it had all gone to hell.

In her line of work, she often had to rely on her judgment to stay alive. How could she have gotten this so wrong?

She had been concerned enough to try to keep her emotional distance. To go along with the exercise and see what unfolded. Maura seemed to be the one who had been totally thrown for a loop. Whose fingers shook and whose voice wavered.

Maura couldn't be that good of an actress. She had been affected. That hadn't been just projecting on Jane's part.

On the other hand, Maura had never been shy about discussing sex. Nothing seemed to embarrass her about her appetite or execution in that regard. She was frequently urging Jane to engage in it casually. To boost her immune system or whatever other reason she could offer and explain.

Jane's function there had been spelled out clearly. If she returned to Maura's for dinner and drama, they would be having sex at some point. Maybe Maura had just been really excited that she had a sure thing lined up for the night. Maybe she had just been horny.

And Jane had been handy.

She grimaced at the thought. That's what a girl wanted to hear. "Since there's nobody else around … you'll do."

God she was a fool.

Maura wasn't though. She didn't believe in starry-eyed sentimental bullshit. She believed in endorphins and the beauty of the human body and the numerous benefits of the female orgasm. Not that there was anything wrong with that, no shame in admitting it.

But the responses Jane had gotten from her had seemed so … personal. Raw and real. And when she'd heard Maura breathe her name …

Had she though? She cursed herself a thousand times over for the whole "choose a name that sounds enough like yours so that you minimize errors" undercover spiel. Through the fog of her all-encompassing ardor, could she have known the difference? Had she just assumed what she wanted so desperately to hear?

Jesus Christ she had fucked this up.

In the harsh realm of hindsight, she couldn't be sure of anything. Except that she had been crazy to go along with any of it.

And that "Giovanni" didn't sound anything like "Jane."

Her beer was almost empty and her left hand was cold. Her eyes, however, seemed to have a never-ending supply of hot tears. They were already starting to feel swollen and gritty and she didn't see any point in keeping them open.

She flexed her fingers around the edges of Freezer Monkey's face and wished she had her anger back. It felt so much more … powerful. Right now she just felt pitiful. And pummeled. She wanted another beer … and another … and another. But that would require movement.

She just wanted to sit here and ache. Actually she wanted to disappear, but the odds of that happening were slim to none. Aching and sitting she could do.

Before she could ponder other dismal accomplishments, she picked up the sound of a key turning in the lock.

Dammit, Frankie! She was just getting into wallowing and she didn't' want company. She hardly ever let her brothers see her cry and she didn't want this to be a special occasion.

Leaning forward to deposit her bottle on the coffee table, she roughly scrubbed her face with her right hand and her sleeve. She was still in the process of standing when the door swung open.

She froze. Unable to speak or even blink. She just remained rooted to the spot as Maura walked in.



Part 8

Jane felt like she was watching everything occur in slow motion, from an alternate vantage point. As if she wasn't physically there. Her sore, exhausted eyes registered Maura's entrance, but her brain couldn't seem to process what was happening.

Maura wasn't supposed to be here.

Not while she was still so devastated and devoid of any defensive measures. Not while so much of her anguish was on display. Not while she was nursing her wounds and sorting out her options. And definitely not while her sense of self was completely dismantled.

This was her home. She had every right to retreat to it. To expect that she would be protected from further pain here. Yet, Maura's presence was suddenly testing that assumption.

It totally pissed her off.

The anger she had been pining for was back in a flash. Surging through her, casting off much of the sensitivity she'd exposed with her emotional excavation.

"What the HELL, Maura?!?" She squared her shoulders, her voice infused with indignation. "You can't just waltz in here without warning! Son of a bitch!"

Maura's expression indicated that she had been prepared for such a protest. Her response was calm. "You weren't answering your phone."

"You're a damn genius -- that should have been your first clue! No … check that … your first clue should have been that I got the hell out of your place as fast as I could."

"Before I could explain …"

"Before you could make it worse! I gave you that key to use only in emergencies. Not so you could stride in here and ease your conscience. "

"This IS an emergency!"

"Why? Because YOU have something to say? Let me spare you the trouble. I know exactly what was going on back there."

Jane was glad she had put down the beer bottle because if she hadn't, she'd be picking up glass all night. She had the urge to smash something. Instead she got louder.

"You didn't get to have your steamy hotsex marathon with the idiot Italian Adonis, and you still had an itch to scratch. So you saw an opportunity and settled for another idiot Italian …"

She could see that Maura was aghast at the accusation, but she didn't give her a chance to interrupt.

"As long as it was just my hands on your body or my tongue in your mouth, you could imagine I was anyone …"


"But you couldn't quite make yourself stick your hand down my pants, could you? That would have screwed up the whole fantasy, right? Good thing your little orgasmic outburst saved us both the disappointment …" She hated, HATED, that her voice broke.

"You're wrong …"

"Everything is wrong, God dammit!" She was furiously blinking back tears.

Maura took a few steps forward and noticed for the first time what Jane was holding. "You're hurt!"

With a sharp, sarcastic laugh that came frighteningly close to a sob, Jane shot back, "No shit, Sherlock!"

When it became obvious that Maura still intended to examine her, reaching for her hand despite Jane's attitude, Jane could feel herself losing it. She yanked her hand up, Freezer Monkey and all, making the universal gesture for "stop right there."

"NO! No … no … no …" She was shaking her head. "You don't get to do that. You don't get to … be that … anymore."

This time, Maura faltered. With a small, perverse measure of satisfaction, Jane noted the way her face fell. Then she watched in disbelief as Maura's eyes filled with tears.

"Dammit Maura! You don't get to do that either! You can't start crying when I'm already crying." Jane threw both hands up in exasperation.

Sputtering and tilting her head, Maura countered. "That doesn't make any sense."

Jane felt all of the fight drain out of her. She flopped down on the couch, her head leaning all the way back, and draped her forearm over her eyes. When she was little, she had believed for a while that if she couldn't see someone, they couldn't see her either. Oh how she wished that were true.

"So sue me." She just wanted to get some rest. She was done. "You can let yourself out."

"I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to stay right here. And you're going to listen to me."

Composed and steady Maura was back.

The seconds ticked by without either of them making a sound. Jane honestly didn't know what to do. So she hid. And waited. Wondering if Maura would give in or give up. She was disgusted with herself for hoping that she wouldn't.

Even with all that had happened, even though she had been splintered, eviscerated … she silently willed Maura to make it better. To heal this somehow.

Until Maura spoke, Jane wasn't even sure where she was. Her words were quiet, clear and off to the right. Jane found herself hanging on each one.

"There is no one on the face of this earth who knows me as well as you do. No one else who has ever seen all of who I am and still continued to care. I'm a different person because of what you see in me. You mean more to me than I've ever let you know, than I've ever really accepted. More to me than my family. And more to me than any career…"

Jane struggled to hold back a fresh round of tears, pressing her arm tighter against her eyelids.

"It is beyond heartbreaking that I have hurt you. That I've given you any reason to doubt yourself or the connection between us. I'm horrified by that. I can only beg for forgiveness and try to make you believe that what you reacted to, however understandable under the circumstances, was not at all what I was trying to express."

As much as Jane wanted to stand her ground, she could feel it shifting under her feet. She was wavering. She wanted to believe.

"Jane … please look at me." Maura's voice was rife with emotion.

It was a simple request, but Jane knew it would mean her surrender. Yet, she was helpless to resist. Her arm slid slowly down to her lap, but she didn't raise her head, instead rolling it toward where she'd heard Maura speak.

When her eyes fluttered open, glistening with unshed tears, she found Maura a few yards away – full of tenderness and compassion -- obviously willing herself not to move onto the sofa next to Jane.

"Have I ever lied to you?"

It was almost physically impossible for Maura to lie. Jane knew that. The thought of presenting false information practically made her faint. With the barest hint of a smile, Jane started to respond … and then it hit her. Her eyes narrowed.

"Ian. You lied about Dr. Ian."

And I was so damn jealous. You called him the love of your life. You, Miss Freakin' Goodie Two Shoes, even broke the law for him!

Of course, she didn't say any of that out loud. It was bad enough that the mood was broken. She felt like she was on the world's most discombobulating roller coaster.

Maybe the good doctor could only lie about men.

Maura blinked slowly and sighed. "That was more of an omission than a lie."

"To-may-toe, to-mah-toe."

Jane could have kicked herself for using that particular cliché. The last thing she needed to think about right now was how she had sensuously nibbled the tips of Maura's fingers …

This time Maura exhaled and directed her eyes toward the ceiling. She stared at it as if she were counting to ten.

"Okay …I admit, I was hiding things from you and … for all intents and purposes … on occasion … some of my statements could technically be classified a lies."

She ignored Jane's snort and continued. "But the important thing to remember, in all of that … is that you KNEW. You could tell. I couldn't get anything past you."

"Yeah, well …" Jane couldn't decide if she was agreeing or still trying to argue.

Maura placed both hands on her hips and leveled her gaze at Jane. "Stand up."

"What? No." She barely stopped herself from adding the childish comeback "can't make me." Because in this case, Maura was probably going to.

"I mean it. Come here. We need to be face to face … I want you to look me in the eye when I tell you what happened … why I said what I said. That's the only way you can be sure I'm telling the truth."

When Jane still didn't budge, Maura snapped her fingers.

That did it. Jane rose, incredulous. "You did NOT just snap your fingers at me!"

"Get over it … I needed to get you up." She motioned for Jane to move toward her.

Glaring and fuming, she did. But with a slight show of defiance, she stopped at least two feet away. "Happy now?"

"No." Maura's expression softened and she absently chewed her bottom lip.

"I won't be happy until you stop suffering over this. Until you understand how incredibly mistaken you are about what you heard and what you assumed."

Maura was beginning to choke up, but she continued.

"I won't be happy until I can touch you again without you drawing away. Until you know that you can trust me …"

Jane felt compelled to fill in the blanks. "Until things are back to the way they were before?"

She was surprised and thrown by Maura's emphatic reply.

"No. That's not what I want at all."


Part 9

In all of her years on the force, Jane had only been asked to try and talk one person down from a ledge. It had been an extremely nerve-wracking proposition. She was very aware throughout the ordeal that saying one wrong word or moving one inch too close could result in tragedy.

She wondered if that's how Maura felt about this. Jane had certainly given her reason to proceed with caution. She'd been volatile and skittish and irrational.

She felt a little schizophrenic right now.

Some the voices were telling her to plead with Maura not to say another word. She wasn't drunk, but the cumulative affect of the wine, beer, mood swings, and distress were making her a bit woozy. She didn't think she could absorb another body blow. Surely she could convince Maura to let her sleep on this and get back to her in the morning.

But the stronger ones were pathetically starved for any scrap of hope Maura might offer. And she wasn't going to get any sleep anyway. Not with her mind in turmoil. Not if she sent Maura away. Might as well get it over with.

Trying to set her face in a neutral expression, she took a conciliatory step forward, cutting the distance between them in half.

"Okay. I'm listening."

She watched Maura perceptibly relax, then grow tense again as she realized that this was her opening, her big moment. It was clear that she didn't know exactly what to do with her hands. She finally settled on pressing them together in front of her, oddly mimicking a prayer pose.

"Are you familiar with contrast agents? Like the ones used in magnetic resonance imaging?"

Jane let her shoulders slump. "Seriously, Maura? I'm too tired for test questions."

"Oh .. okay … I'll get to that later … let me start over …"

Jane could practically see her sorting folders in her brain. For all the authority Maura had shown as she was getting them to this point, it was apparent now that she was nervous.

"Take your time."

Nodding and seeming to regain her narrative, Maura clasped her hands. "Originally, I proposed that you "go undercover" tonight as a whim. But almost immediately, I saw an opportunity to explore something of a more serious nature." She took a deep breath before continuing.

"For some time, I had been aware on a certain level that you might have … deeper feelings for me …"

Jane felt her face grow warm. She started to object, but considering everything that had transpired this evening, she could hardly do so.

"I wasn't sure that you were aware of them … and I was hesitant to press the issue because of the unique relationship we already enjoyed. In hindsight, I probably should have just asked you about it."

Jesus, Jane couldn't even imagine how that might have gone.

Steepling her index fingers, Maura forged ahead. "So as silly as it started off, it became a rather vital experiment to me -- designed to gain insight and understanding into what was really going on between us. Arrogantly, I thought it was going to be about me observing you, searching for clues and interpreting data."

"However, after you'd reluctantly agreed to participate and had gone home, I found myself anticipating the outcome in a way that signaled that this was just as much about my wishes and desires as anything else."

The look on her face showed that she was still somewhat bewildered by this discovery.

"And when I saw you … I was stunned by my physical reaction. How intensely you affected me just by being next to me, barely even interacting with me … it was all so confusing because I had intended to coax you into revealing what you really wanted. Suddenly I was the one willing to confess my desperation."

Jane was trying valiantly to remain still and silent. She didn't want to miss any of this, but she was on the verge of begging for details.

"When you gave me the bottle of wine … Oh Jane, it meant so much to me that you remembered and were so thoughtful. I completely forgot that you were supposed to be someone else. I just wanted to throw my arms around you and kiss you right then and there."


"Yes! You were so completely in control and unhurried. Surely you noticed that I was practically sleepwalking I was so overwhelmed! By the time you took my shoes off and were touching me … I was so turned on that I almost couldn't contain myself."

Jane was thoroughly enjoying this part of the story. It was only the ending she dreaded.

"I was astounded by all of it … and trying to make sense of any aspect of it. Why was I so dramatically caught off guard by my attraction to you? What had brought all of this on, caused these feelings to rise to the surface? Had my subconscious mind been working toward this all along? I was sincerely baffled, Jane. But marvelously so."

Nodding, Jane decided to take that as a compliment instead of taking offense.

"The one thing I was absolutely positive about – and this is important for you to know – is that what I was feeling and how I was responding, was NOT based on false pretenses." Maura seemed to grapple for the next phrase. "I mean, it may have taken a break from reality to open my eyes, but I truly did see you, not a caricature."

So far so good. But they weren't to the really scary stuff yet.

"When I made you spill the wine … I was so upset … I thought I had wrecked any chance for us to … for me to find out … for the evening to turn out like I'd hoped …"

She appeared a tad mortified even now.

"It really was okay. Things happen."

"It was okay because you were so amazing. And that thing you did with your shirt …" Maura's eyes rolled toward the ceiling.

Jane stifled a grin. If that's all it took … Maura was kind of easy.

"You were going so slow, being so disciplined … all the while I was about to crawl out of my skin. Nothing I said or did seemed to alter your course, but I didn't feel the least bit ignored or shut out. On the contrary, I was being virtually bathed with attention. Every inch you touched or kissed increased my excitement exponentially …"

Now Jane was warm all over. The air in the room seemed heavier. She struggled to restrain herself from shifting her weight from one foot to the other to relieve some of the tension.

"I couldn't think, Jane. Thoughts floated in and out at random, but I was consumed with what you were doing to me …" Maura's voice was lower, mesmerizing. "Consumed by the fact that it was you."

"The way you groaned my name spoke volumes to me, but that was nothing compared to what I found when I looked into your eyes. I could spend hours talking about that moment and never do it justice … it's inadequate to even say that it's beyond words, but I can. Because you were there. You know."

Jane felt like she was melting. She did know. She would never forget.

"It was also the single sexiest thing that's ever happened to me. It was like you were already inside me."

Jesus Christ! Jane was shaking. And finding it hard to swallow. But she still needed something more.

"Then why?"

She couldn't manage anything further. That would have to be enough.

The flicker of pain in Maura's eyes didn't go unnoticed. The regret was equally evident in her answer.

"I've gone over it a thousand times. When you kissed me -- dear God, Jane … Again, there are no words. I was ecstatic, giddy. And insatiable. I wanted it to go on forever. But I was also wild for everything else I could experience with you. It struck me that as euphoric as I was, I might have easily missed out on ever knowing what was possible … with us. How fragile fate could be."

This time it was Maura who left no room for interruption.

"When I was talking about contrasting agents before … they are injected into the body to assist in identifying problem areas during an MRI. In other words, with their help, you can more readily tell what's wrong."

"The only context in which I was thinking about Giovanni tonight was in contrast to what I was feeling with you. About how ridiculous it was for me ever to have gotten involved with him. About how you had tried to warn me … and at some point had compared yourself to him … when in fact there is simply NO comparison."

"And to be completely honest, I was actually thankful for him in a bizarre way … because without that hideous aborted date, I would never have come up with the idea for our reenactment. Which led to the deliriously frantic state I was in when his stupid name slipped out."

"So … if I hadn't been so out of my head at the time, I would never have said anything until later, if at all … I would have been coherent enough to shut up and surrender. But I was a mess. You're always wondering what goes on in my brain … well, in this instance, so am I. I have no excuse other than what I've told you. You were overriding all of my senses."

Maura had gotten through the majority of the last portion of her speech without taking a breath, forcing Jane to really focus in order to keep up. She raised an eyebrow.

"Are you trying to say that this was my fault?"

"Would that work?"

"Not a chance."

They were both smiling now, but Maura was still hesitant, as if she wasn't out of the woods quite yet. Jane was elated. The elaborate contrasting agent mumbo jumbo was standard Maura logic. She could totally buy it. She knew Maura meant every word of it.

"I need you to believe, Jane, that I'm telling you the truth. More for your sake than for mine. I couldn't live with myself if I leave you with the impression that you're anyone's substitute."

"I do. And you haven't." Jane whispered the next line. "I'm not jumping tonight."

"What?" Maura glanced toward the window, not sure that she'd heard correctly.

"Nothing. Just … everything's alright."

Maura's relief was palpable. Jane felt like a weight had been lifted. Both of them had tears in their eyes as they stood staring at each other, taking everything in. But then Maura suddenly looked stricken and turned away.

"Hey … hey .. don't do that." Jane had been moving to pull her into a hug. Now she was reaching for her shoulder.

"I can't … help it …" She was frantically wiping her face.

Jane flashed back to how she had shouted at Maura earlier for crying. Jesus she was a jerk. With her free hand, she steered Maura around so that she could apologize.

"Sweetie … I know I said some things before … just ignore them. Hell, ignore me. New rule: you do whatever you want -- whatever you feel like doing -- no matter what I say, okay?" She almost said 'you pretty much do that anyway.' And in light of recent events, thank God you do.

Maura's face lit up. "You mean that?"


This time as Jane went to embrace her, Maura ducked down and captured Jane's left hand, raising it to get a better viewing angle.

"What are you doing?"

"Following the new rule. Be still." Maura gently lifted Freezer Monkey away from Jane's palm and leaned in to inspect the damage.

Jane was surprised that the area was already so purple. She tried not to flinch when Maura prodded and pressed, but it hurt like a son of a bitch. There was no way she was going to complain, though. The sexiest doctor she knew was holding her hand.

Maura spoke with her head bent over Jane's wrist, so close that Jane could feel her breath there. "It looks far worse than it is, but it's going to be really, really sore for a while. And get much darker before it clears up."

Without warning, she placed a warm kiss against the discolored skin. Jane's knees almost buckled. "Better?"

"Uh huh."

Smiling, Maura released her arm. "Here's my new rule …" She was standing very close now. "Are you listening?"

"Uh huh."

"You are not allowed to injure yourself on purpose any more."

Jane felt something press against her abdomen over her shirt, where her scar was located. Freezer Monkey had thawed considerably since she'd gotten him out, but he was cool through the material.

"Promise me." Maura's tone was no longer light and teasing.

"I promise."

"I mean it, Jane. Especially now."

All Jane could do was nod. Maura shifted again and Jane thought her hand was going to slide around her neck. Instead she carefully pulled the collar of Jane's baseball jersey down as far as she could.

When Jane realized where Maura was going with this, she closed her eyes, feeling the tears well up yet again. She'd never cried this much in her life. Never mind happy tears. Her eyes were still shut when she felt Freezer Monkey settle over her heart, still chilled enough to give her goosebumps.

She wasn't sure if her nipples tightened in response to the temperature or because she knew what was about to happen next. The minute Freezer Monkey was pulled away, he was replaced by Maura's lips. So, so soft and warm. Her heart felt like it was ping-ponging around in her chest. Surely Maura could feel it too.

As smoothly as she could, she cupped her hands on either side of Maura's face, tilting her head up so that she could brush her own lips over the sweet ones that had been ministering to her. Murmuring before she kissed them fully, "Thank you."

It was a slow and tender kiss, unlike any of the ones they'd previously shared. And that made it all the more earth-shattering to Jane. It wasn't about any frenzied biological need, or adrenaline rush. She was rocked by how emotionally undone she was.

She had never been this open and vulnerable with another human being. Normally that would be a nightmare scenario for her, but she didn't ever want to wake up from this.

Then Maura was kissing her eyelids, along the path her tears had traveled. Holding her while she trembled. Pressing her lips against Jane's temple as she whispered. "Anytime."

She reached up to swipe her thumb lightly under Jane's eye. "I'm so sorry I hurt you."

Leaning her forehead against Maura's, Jane kissed the tip of her nose. "And I'm sorry I ran out on you."

Tossing Freezer Monkey onto the couch, Maura snuggled back into Jane's arms.

"Over and done with. But for the record …."

Jane gasped as both of Maura's hands slipped under the front of her shirt, moving up until they were covering her breasts. Jesus H. Christ!

"I couldn't tear my eyes away from these all evening." She squeezed for emphasis. "So there was not one trace of gender confusion on my part."

Biting her lip, Jane pressed forward, swelling against Maura's palms.

"Also for the record … it took so long for me to get your zipper down because a.) you were on top of me … and b.) you were so damn distracting …" Maura was practically purring. "The only way I would have been the least bit disappointed … when I finally did get my hand inside your jeans … is if you hadn't been as utterly drenched as I was."

Jane was staggered by the power Maura seemed to have over her. As overwrought as she had been only a short while ago, she found herself instantly alert and demanding. She growled into Maura's mouth as she clasped the back of her head hard, keeping her right where she was. Kissing her as if her life depended on it.

Jesus she was on fire. Just like she had been when she'd felt Maura writhe beneath her. She'd been nearly possessed with the need to stoke the flames higher and higher.

When Maura hooked her thumbs into the belt loops on either side of her waist, jerking her hips forward, Jane knew she was spiraling out of control. She'd lost control before … as soon as she'd finally accepted that Maura wasn't going to make her stop.

So she couldn't fathom why she was starting to panic this time. Everything had been resolved. Maura had kissed it and made it all better. She had no reason to think there would ever be another incident like the one that had ripped her in two. So what the hell was happening?

Was it all just too much? Maybe her brain was unable to sort out all of the 180's it had been through in the past few hours. Maybe her wounds were still too raw. Maybe she was just too fucked up to get this right.

Regardless of the reason, she was freaking the hell out. Almost involuntarily she found Maura's wrists and clasped them tightly, tearing her mouth away from Maura's at the same time. She could barely breathe but she had to say something.

Disentangling herself and pushing back, her words came out in a rush.

"Jesus, Maura I'm sorry … I can't …"


Part 10

Fuck the whole roller coaster concept, Jane felt more like she was on one of those spinning Tilt-a-Whirl rides. And she needed to get off. Immaturely, she reminded herself that she was pretty close to doing just that before she pushed Maura away.

Maura, Jesus … she couldn't look … not just yet. She needed to brace herself somehow. Her stomach was churning. Feeling like she was on the verge of hyperventilating, Jane bent over, crossing her arms in front of her protectively.

"Please … please don't be mad …" She hoped she'd said that out loud.

"I'm not mad … take a deep breath …"

Jane risked a glance to confirm what she was hearing and was relieved to see Maura's face the picture of concern, her eyes sympathetic. She nodded and concentrated on inhaling in and exhaling out, trying to calm herself.

It made her slightly sad that Maura was obviously holding back … wary of spooking Jane further by touching her in any way.

"I don't know why … It's not you …" She straightened up, running both hands through her hair, leaving them on either side of her head, as if she could squeeze out an explanation. "I swear, Maura … it's not that I'm still upset …"

"It's okay, Baby … I'm not going anywhere."

Jane let her hands drift down slowly, simultaneously afraid that she would burst into tears yet again or break into a stupid grin. Maura could have given her a shot of morphine and valium and it wouldn't have done more to soothe her than what she'd just said.

"You called me 'Baby' …"

"Oh … is that all right? I meant it as an endearment … I wasn't referring to whining or overreacting, because you most certainly aren't …"

Jane was suddenly, ridiculously shy. "Um … no, it's fine. Great actually." She ducked her head and drew a slow arc on the floor with her toe. "I liked it."

She could hear the smile in Maura's voice. "Just talk to me, Jane."

Moving carefully toward the counter separating her kitchen from the rest of the apartment, Jane leaned back against it, hoping for some extra stability. When she faced Maura this time, she was prepared to be as honest as possible – considering that she didn't really comprehend what was going on.

"I'm scared, Maura, and I don't know why. I believe everything you've told me, so it's not that I think we're still navigating that minefield." She was searching for any way to explain this.

"And it's not that I don't feel the same way … want the same thing. Because I want … you … so much …"

"That frightens you because …" It was more of a prompt than anything else.

"Jesus, I can't … I wish I …" Jane closed her eyes and shook her head. "I guess it's irrational. Intellectually I know you aren't going to hurt me, but I was so sure before …"

"And then you were blindsided."

"Yeah, and I get it, Maura. I promise I do. But because I had gone so far … left so much of me exposed. I didn't think I would survive it." Her voice had gotten very, very small.

"I understand."

"Well, I don't! You came here and gave me … us … another chance. Everything I thought had been ruined or lost can be recovered. And I can't let that go. I don't think I would survive that either. But …"

Jane wished with all her might she was as articulate as the woman in front of her. It only increased her frustration that she couldn't adequately describe her internal wrestling match.

"So much of tonight, I was angry at myself, questioning my judgment and my sanity. Wondering how I could have ever gotten myself into such a painful situation. And now, even though I know the truth, even though I accept all of it, I don't think I can trust my decision making ability anymore. Not so soon after … And I hate it. Hate what it's doing to me right now. Hate that I just can't …"

"Shhh … hey … look at me."

It was amazing how grounded Jane could get just by making eye contact.

"Sometimes reactions have nothing to do with rationality and reason. B. F. Skinner's experiments with Behaviorism show that. Powerful and predictive influence can be gained by introducing negative or positive stimuli …"

"Like touching a hot stove …"

"Exactly. You've had an incredibly traumatic experience tonight, Jane. And your body is sending you warning signals that your brain hasn't had a chance to countermand."

"I don't want it to be this way. But I don't want go ignore it and have my twisted insecurities convince me later that it was just pity sex ... I don't want to have pity sex with you."

She held up her good hand before Maura could speak. "I know it's not … I mean, I know that it wouldn't be … Jesus!" She raked her fingers through her hair again.

Maura took several seconds to process Jane's remarks.

"Under the circumstances, your hesitation is totally understandable. And there is no reason for us to figure everything out tonight. In fact both of us could probably use some rest." She opened and closed her mouth, as if she was second guessing herself.

"Just to clarify … you said that you didn't want to have 'pity sex' with me. Does that mean that you do still want to have sex with me?"

Jane's face turned beet red. "Geez, Maura!"

"Well, there have been too many assumptions and misunderstandings. I told you before that I should have just come right out and asked about things, so that's what I'm doing. I think we both should."

As much as Jane might have agreed, she was so uncomfortable at the moment that she couldn't even manage to nod.

"So, do you?"

Rolling her eyes, Jane blurted out a hushed, "Yeah."

"Excuse me?"

In Jane's estimation, Maura was enjoying this entirely too much. "Yes, I want to have sex with you." Her tone was nearly robotic and most of the sentence was spoken out of the side of her mouth. Even still, she didn't appreciate Maura's quiet laugh.

"I'm glad that's so funny to you." She was no longer shaky, but damn was she grouchy.

"You know -- it is! You can rattle off a string of expletives that would make a longshoreman blush, or use the most erotic language when you're trying to seduce me, but you can't just state outright that you want to have sex with me."

"Yeah? Well maybe it's because I know that having sex doesn't mean the same thing to you as it does to me!"

As embarrassed as she was, Jane hadn't meant to lash out like that. She was as surprised by it as Maura appeared.

"So, now we're getting somewhere." Without really changing her posture, Maura seemed to withdraw a bit. "You want to take this to the next level, but you're skeptical that I'll be as invested as you are."

Jane had never wanted to lose an argument so badly. She didn't know what to say. She couldn't deny Maura's assertion. Instead she stared at her black and blue palm.

"It's completely natural that you would have doubts, Jane. And that you'd try to shield yourself from further pain. Your hand isn't the only thing that was bruised in all of this." Her expression softened. "Tell me what I can do."

Sighing heavily, Jane whispered, "I wish I knew. More than anything, I wish I knew."

Maura shrugged, for the first time since she'd arrived showing a glimpse of defeat. "You said that you didn't trust yourself to make good decisions …" She didn't wait for a response. "Do you trust me, Jane?"

"As much as I've ever trusted anyone."

With a tiny smile that didn't quite reach her eyes, Maura acknowledged the honesty in Jane's answer. "Then I'm sure we'll be able to work this out."

All of the equilibrium Jane had regained in the last few minutes was starting to disappear. She detested the helplessness and heaviness that seemed draped over her. Maura's words had been designed to be encouraging, but they made Jane's heart thud ominously.

As terrified as she was to push the envelope, she couldn't stand the way everything seemed to be slipping through her fingers. She couldn't bear the distance she was already creating between them. Screw her phobia about showing weakness …

"You told me that I meant more to you than any career … " Swallowing before she could finish, she unconsciously crossed her arms again. "What would you do if I wanted to move to Atlanta to get away from my family? Join the APD, get a fresh start?"

Jane had caused herself a great deal of grief by unnecessarily comparing herself to Giovanni. Now she was inviting more by comparing Maura's decision not to follow Ian to Africa to … whatever was unfolding now.

Without missing a beat, Maura took a step toward her. "First I would have a long talk with you to determine if you were serious. And if you were, I'd call some colleagues I have at the CDC, inquire about a position there. Then I'd contact real estate agents." She finished with a wry look. "You would have to tell your mother."

As moved as she was, Jane couldn't help but chuckle at Maura's last comment. "Maybe we could just call her once we got there."

She was nearly dizzy with relief. She'd taken what she'd considered a huge risk and nothing terrible had happened. In fact, just the opposite had occurred. She thought back to the extreme confidence she'd been filled with as she rang Maura's doorbell. Why had that been so effortless? How could she get it back?

It had been easy then because she'd had plausible deniability. Like people who lose all their inhibitions when they drink. If they are called on anything, they can always claim to have been under the influence and therefore not responsible for their actions or statements.

If Maura had been offended, insulted, or worse still, amused by her attention or advances, she could have always blamed the character she was supposed to be portraying.

Now she was basically performing without a net. But why the hell did she need one? Maura had patiently spelled out her feelings, making anything Jane said or did welcome. She had what amounted to an open invitation. No matter what, she was safe. With Maura she would always be safe.

And that realization was astonishing. Empowering. God damn life-altering.

"Hey Maura … "


"The way you just blew in here, ordering me around and making sure that I heard you out … that was totally badass."

Maura brightened immediately, pleased by Jane's compliment. "So I can keep the key?"

"Only if you'll use it whenever you want …"

Jane was drawn toward her, taking in the way her hair was still tousled and sexy-as-hell from where Jane's hands had been earlier. The only flutter inside her now was caused by how desperately she craved being tangled up with Maura again.

She felt ten feet tall as she invaded Maura's space … guiding her backwards by placing her hands lightly on her hips. Easing them both toward the wall. Completely electrified by the echoes of their shallow breathing.

Just as Maura's back touched the wall, Jane braced her hand against it, splayed to the right of her head. Leaning closer, she toyed with a strand of Maura's hair, keeping at least a few inches between their bodies. She could die happy just diving into the depths of those eyes, but she had so much more to do …

"Who am I?" Her voice sounded foreign to her, so dramatically affected.

Maura blinked slowly, wetting her lips. "Detective Jane Rizzoli."

Smiling and groaning at the same time, Jane murmured against her mouth. "Good answer."

She shuddered as Maura's fingernails grazed her scalp, putting all of her "I'm sorry's" into this kiss. All of her assurances that this was exactly what she wanted, without a doubt, without hesitation, without holding back. Repeatedly underscoring the sentiment with deeper and deeper kisses. Nearly transformed by the freedom she had to explore and express.

Before she could irrevocably succumb to temptation, she drew back, her eyes piercing and black. "Look at me." Now it was her turn. Her stomach dropped to the floor as Maura's gaze met hers.

"I don't just want to have sex with you … I want to fuck you till you scream."

She smothered Maura's whimper with another fervent embrace, escalating the temperature and demand. Pressing her body into the wall, feeling the tremors transfer back and forth between them. This was real. And it was unbelievable.

Gasping as she felt Maura slide her hands inside her back pockets, Jane buried her head against the side of her neck. Biting and nuzzling her way up under her ear, capturing her earlobe between her teeth and worrying it with her tongue.

"Maura …" She was speaking directly into her ear now, her breath causing uncontrollable shivers. "I want to get you naked and lick you … but not your face."

Maura's sharp squeal quickly dissolved into uncontrollable giggles. She clung to Jane as she recovered, her breath still wavering as she kissed her cheek. "You're terrible."

"Don't judge. I haven't even gotten started yet." Damn this was going to be fun.

As she swiped her tongue across Maura's swollen lips, she couldn't help but imagine them blazing across her body, sending her into a frenzy … Her hips rocked forward, hard, pinning Maura against the wall.

"OH … God … Jane …" Her hands were locked firmly behind Jane's head now, pulling her closer, kissing her almost violently.

It was so intense that Jane felt her knees began to give, her legs barely supporting her. She was lost. She wouldn't last much longer. Hell she might even pass out. Sliding both arms around Maura's back, she came up for air.

Panting roughly, she pleaded. "Maura … take me to bed, or lose me forever …"

Startled, Maura framed Jane's face with her hands as she drew back. "Really?"

Cracking a lopsided grin, Jane was still struggling to breathe normally. "No Sweetie, it's a line from 'Top Gun' ..." When Maura still looked blank, she added, "You know … the movie."

Having her own issues with breathing, Maura shook her head. "Not familiar with that one."

Kissing her forehead, Jane gathered her securely against her. "Then we're going to have to watch it." Almost as quickly as she had pulled her in, Jane's hands slid to Maura's hips and held her out away from her again so that she could catch her attention.

"Oh! Oh! I have an idea … the next time we do any of this pretend stuff …"

Trying to keep up, Maura interjected. "I believe when you are referring to anything sexual in nature it's called 'role play' …"

"Whatever. Anyway, the next time we do any role playing …" She raised and lowered her eyebrows suggestively. "I get to be the hotshot fighter pilot and you can be the uptight instructor."

"Do they fuck?"

"Maura Isles!"

Jane was completely gob smacked. She'd never heard Maura curse before, much less use the mother of them all. It stunned her even as it made her wetter.

"What? You're the only one who gets to say it?" Maura waited for Jane to speak, but she was still shell-shocked.

Nudging with her hips, she prodded. "Well, do they?"

"Um, yeah. A lot. All the time. Like rabbits." Jane was starting to love all of this directness.

"Then I'm in."

Jane drummed her fingers just out the window on the side of the car as she waited impatiently for the crossing guard to give them clearance. She was taking her sweet time. Frost was busy fiddling with his new iPhone in the passenger seat. At least it wasn't raining.

Her eyes were automatically scanning the sidewalks and surrounding area, which is how she spotted Giovanni before he was close enough to see her. Jesus. That's all she needed.

She was somewhat surprised that his presence didn't really provoke her like it might have. But then again there was no reason it should. He was definitely no threat. He was just a big dumb kid she had grown up with and who was kind to her mother. She called out as he ambled in the direction of the car.

"Hey, Giovanni."

"Janie! Hey! You look hot."

She heard Frost clear his throat.

"Thanks, so do you." She grinned. Now it sounded like Frost was beginning to cough.

"Thanks! Hey … how's Maura?" Jane was tickled to death that hearing him say Maura's name didn't make her want to punch him any more.

"You know what …" Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the crossing guard waving them forward.

"She's fantastic …"

She added a wink to her inflection and waved as she stepped on the gas, studiously ignoring Frost's inquisitive expression.

Jesus Christ, if they only knew.

The End

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