DISCLAIMER: Rizzoli & Isles and its characters are the property of Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro and TNT television network.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Special thanks to Zennie for the beta!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To inspectorboxer[at]gmail.com
By Inspector Boxer
"What is it with us?"
Maura opened her mouth to respond only to keep her thoughts to herself as Jane shook her head and began to pace the length of her office. Her long legs made short work of the space, and Maura found herself fascinated by Jane's purposeful stride as her best friend continued to complain.
"Do you know how many people insinuate that we're a couple? Like a honest to God go on dates, have sex, and want to get married couple?"
The doctor pursed her lips, considering the possibilities. "Besides Giovanni?"
"Besides Giovanni," Jane echoed. "Although you can add him to the damn list." She pivoted and flopped down on the edge of Maura's desk before blowing out a heavy sigh. "My mother my own mother rolled out suggestions she and pa got in couples therapy because she thought it would work for us."
Maura's eyebrows lifted in intrigue. She leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. "What did she say?"
"It doesn't matter, Maura, we made up."
It was tempting to push the topic, but Maura resisted, sensing it would only agitate Jane further. "So, where is this coming from? Who said something to get you so "
"Stanley?" Maura grimaced. "From the police cafe Stanley?" Even though she'd been wondering about the true nature of her relationship with Jane since they'd reconciled, the thought of Stanley insinuating anything about them was just disturbing. Maura didn't want him thinking about them at all, especially not like that.
"Frost has made innuendos. Korsak has hinted that we'd be a cute couple." Jane ticked the examples off on her fingers.
"We would make a totally hot couple," Maura interrupted, ignoring Jane as she drew up and gave her a disbelieving stare. "We would. We both have striking bone structure and our skin tones and hair color create appealing contrasts."
The doctor shrugged and got to her feet. "Just being honest."
"I'm just tired of all the whispering behind our backs. They don't understand us. They don't get that two women can be as close as we are without sleeping together." Jane watched her as she removed her lap coat and hung it on the coat rack, tracking the medical examiner's movements until Maura returned to her desk.
"Sounds like people aren't whispering so much these days." Maura tucked some files into her bag and zipped it closed. "Why is it bothering you? For whatever reason we've been hearing the rumors for years."
Jane put her head in her hands. "I don't know," she mumbled, her tone approaching a whine.
Maura drew closer, reaching up to tug Jane's hands away so she could look at her hangdog expression. She smiled. "It has to be about something."
"How am I supposed to find someone when everyone I know thinks I should be with you?"
Maura shifted, strangely hurt. Her feelings must have shown on her face because Jane instantly straightened and looked contrite.
"You know what I mean. If I were into women I would totally date you," the detective promised, exaggerating every word.
"No you wouldn't," Maura said, but her tone was still light. "I would be too much woman for you."
"Oh snap!" Jane grinned.
Maura turned away in order to straighten up her office so it would be nice and neat when she returned in the morning. "I don't know what everyone is thinking, either, Jane. We would make a terrible couple."
Jane's head rocked back at the doctor's blunt assessment. "Well I mean I don't know You really think we'd make a terrible couple?" She sounded almost wounded.
Glancing back over her shoulder, Maura frowned, unable to keep up with Jane's conflicting emotions. "Of course. We have absolutely nothing in common. We wouldn't get past a first date."
Sliding off the edge of Maura's desk, Jane crossed her arms. "I disagree."
"You disagree that we wouldn't get past a figurative first date or that we have nothing in common?"
"Both. Either." Jane shrugged and threw up her hands. "We're best friends, Maura. Clearly we have something in common."
"You're trying to confuse me."
Shaking her head, Jane sighed again. "Maybe I'm the one that's confused."
Maura felt her heart skip at the declaration, but Jane didn't seem to realize she'd spoken the words aloud. "Fine. We'll go on a date."
"Excuse me?" Jane drawled, deadpan.
"Why not? Let's prove to everyone how incompatible we would be as anything more than friends and colleagues."
Maura stared at her blithely.
"You wanna go on a date with me." Jane pointed a finger at her chest to make sure she was keeping up with all the strange turns their conversation was taking.
"Relax, Jane. It's not something I've been fantasizing about," the medical examiner said, feeling like she was lying when she remembered one or two idle daydreams. "Think of it as an experiment to prove our families and friends wrong. Tomorrow night we'll go to dinner and then we'll do one thing I want to do and one thing you want to do."
"Oh God. You're going to want to do some dressy, arty thing, aren't you?" Jane looked more bemused than irritated by the idea and Maura sensed she was actually entertaining the notion.
"And I imagine you'll want to do something that involves beer nuts."
"You like beer nuts."
"Not on a first date."
Jane laughed a little at the absurdity of what they were suggesting. She ran a hand through her curls and shook her head. "Maura "
"At the very least, neither of us spends Friday night alone. What do you say?"
"I'm supposed to treat this like a real date," Jane said, wanting to make sure she understood the ground rules.
"Yes. We treat this like we would any other first date, and by the time we're done, we'll be able to prove what a horrible idea the whole thing was."
Jane's smile slowly faded. "And what if it's not?"
"What if it's not what?" Maura asked.
"What if it's not horrible?" The detective searched her best friend's features.
Maura took a breath, trying to believe that the flutter in her stomach was hunger pains and not excitement. "It doesn't change anything. Not really. We just have a good time."
"All right then," Jane said slowly as she sauntered closer. "It's a date, Doctor Isles."
"A date? With Maura?"
"It's not really a date, Ma." Jane fussed with her hair for another moment before turning to face her mother instead of talking to her reflection in the bathroom mirror.
Angela Rizzoli didn't look convinced. She gave her daughter the once over from head to toe, noting that even though her daughter was in jeans, she'd taken pains to wear a flattering red top and adorable sandals. "Looks like a date."
Jane glanced down at herself and scowled as she felt a blush rise on her cheeks. "Maura is gonna out dress me no matter what I wear. Figure I might as well meet her halfway."
Scowl deepening, Jane brushed past her mother and headed out to her apartment.
"You know it's fine. You dating a woman. Especially someone as brilliant as Dr. Isles." Angela leaned in the doorway and watched her daughter as she dug through her purse. The fact that Jane was even taking a purse seemed significant.
Jane's head bobbed up. "Really, Ma?" she said with exasperation. "We're doing this to prove a point." She'd told her mother this three times already, but Angela didn't seem to grasp the notion.
"Who are you trying to prove it to?" Angela wondered.
Jane glared at her for a moment before looking away, unable to hold her mother's knowing gaze. "Everybody that seems to think we're dating already. Korsak. Frost. You."
Angela shrugged. "None of the men you date ever work out."
"So I should switch teams and see if I have a little more luck?"
Another shrug. "I always wondered what it would be like to date a woman. I bet it's easier in some ways. You'd understand one another better."
Jane opened her mouth to respond only to shake her head, not sure on any level where to begin to address that comment. "I gotta go. I'm gonna be late."
"I won't wait up."
Hand tightening on the doorknob, Jane looked back at her mother, not buying the innocent expression on her features for a second. With an epic sigh, she rolled her eyes and jerked the door open, deciding her mother's comment didn't deserve a dignified response.
The nerves were a surprise. Maura smoothed her hands down her royal blue top, approving of the color as she stared at her reflection. She'd worn jeans as Jane had suggested and had even made a small concession with her usual footwear, opting for sandals with only a sliver of a heel. For dressing casual, Maura decided she did, indeed, look good.
A hesitant knock on her door announced Jane's arrival, and the fluttering in her stomach ramped up to near nausea inducing levels. Maura swallowed and blew out a quick breath, wiping a nervous hand across her mouth before compelling herself to leave her bedroom and answer the door.
Jane gave her a lazy smile in greeting, but Maura didn't miss all her best friend's tells. Jane was as nervous as she was, and somehow that made her own anxiety ease. "You look nice."
The detective lifted one brow in response. "Look who's talking. How do you manage to make casual clothes look that classy?"
Maura waved one hand as if it were nothing, but in truth, she'd spent over an hour in her closet and tried on nearly half her wardrobe. "You ready?"
"As I'll ever be," Jane drawled. "My mother told me she wasn't going to wait up."
Maura's eyes widened but a devilish smile graced her lips. "She approves. That's so sweet."
"If this were really a first date I'd be obligated to warn you about my family. Unfortunately for you, you already know all about them." Jane reacted playfully to Maura's teasing punch in her arm. "You sure you want to do this? I mean, technically we're both expecting to have a lousy time tonight."
Maura shrugged. "I love experiments."
"Course you do." Jane shook her head. "Well then come on, Doctor Isles. Let's get this one started and hope it doesn't blow up in our faces."
They stepped outside and Maura balked at the sight of a motorcycle sitting in her driveway. "Where's your car?"
Jane smiled. "Remember, you chose dinner, I get to chose the mode of transportation."
"Do you know how many people I see every year that died while riding one of those things?"
"Live a little, Maura."
"But my hair " Maura clamped her teeth together as Jane took her hand and led her down the steps.
Maura just smiled. "The food here is excellent, Jane. Once you've had your first bite you'll forget all about the fact that there is no meat on your plate."
"I doubt that," Jane grumbled. "I'm more of a steak and potatoes kinda gal. Or even a good burger."
"The have a vegetarian burger." Maura set the menu down so she could stare at Jane, enjoying the way the candlelight brought out the olive in her skin.
Jane made a face and Maura chuckled. "Looks like we're already showing how incompatible we would be as a couple." Maura took a sip of her water, feeling oddly disappointed.
Jane went quiet as she glanced around the restaurant. It was a little too pricey and a little too chic for her taste, but it was nice and everyone seemed to be enjoying his or her meals. "I just I mean we both like a good burger and fries at the Robber."
"We do," Maura agreed easily. "But where you consider 'living a little' to be riding around on a death trap, I like to expand my experience in other ways."
"By eating bunny food?"
Maura shook her head. "Try the burger, Jane. If you hate it, I'll buy you something else later."
Jane pouted, but she suspected Maura had chosen this place on purpose to prove how incompatible they really were. Something about that thought chafed, and Jane decided to give the place a try, if only to prove to Maura she could.
"Fine." Jane glanced up at the waiter as he appeared. "I'll have the lasagna," Jane announced, surprising herself and her dinner companion. "Probably won't hold a candle to my mother's, but what the hell," she grumbled under her breath.
"Make that two." Maura handed the waiter their menus and was quiet as he left them alone. She watched as Jane fiddled with her napkin, looking determined to take in the experience as much as Maura now. "You like to surprise me."
Jane shrugged even though she was secretly pleased. "Just wait until you see where we're going next." She lifted one elegant eyebrow, a knowing smirk on her lips.
Maura took another sip of her water, wishing the waiter would hurry back with their wine.
"I'm glad you liked it."
"Vegetarian lasagna. Ma is never going to believe me when I tell her how good it was."
Maura smiled briefly before glancing around at all the obnoxious traffic they found themselves in. "We should probably take another route. I believe there is a game tonight."
"Really? A game? Huh."
Eyes widening at Jane's exaggerated tone, Maura leaned over to see her best friend's profile. "We're not "
Jane let her head roll to the side, keeping her features a perfect mask of innocence as she batted her eyelashes at Maura.
"I don't like sports."
"Please. You like watching men in their uniforms. You liked playing softball."
"How?" Jane asked in disbelief, shifting a little as they sat in traffic so she could see Maura better.
"I don't like large crowds, Jane."
Jane looked momentarily torn before she shook her head. "If we're going to make this relationship work," she said sarcastically, "you're going to have to go to a game or two."
"Plenty of couples don't share a love of athletics."
"The woman I date better!" Jane blinked, wondering how many nearby motorists had heard her.
Maura rolled her eyes and pursed her lips. Crossing her arms, she sat back on the bike.
Jane frowned, startled to realize she missed Maura's firm and warm grip around her waist. "Come on, Maura," she almost whined. "You've never even been to a real game. You might like it. There are lots of statistics and angles in baseball." Sensing her approach wasn't working, Jane switched gears. "Expand your experience." Jane smirked and focused her attention back on the road.
"Did you just dare me to go to the baseball game with you?"
"I believe I did."
They rode the rest of the way in silence.
"You're going to be so hoarse tomorrow." Jane chuckled as she handed Maura her helmet. She'd figured Maura would get into the game if she ever got her to go to one, but she hadn't expected her friend to get quite that vocal. She'd screamed insults at the refs that made some of the season ticket-holders blush.
"The experience is truly very different in person. The crowd and their excitement have a fascinating stimulating effect. And anthropologically speaking, the rituals are very interesting." Maura grabbed Jane's elbow, savoring the indulgent smile Jane gave her in response. "Are all major sporting events like this?"
"Not when your team is losing." Jane slipped on her helmet and cinched the strap. "Then it's more like collective commiseration."
"Fascinating," Maura said again. "Are you sure you don't want to stay for the whole game?" She lingered as Jane climbed on the bike.
"Maybe another time. If we stay, we won't have time for your plans tonight."
Maura turned her head as the crowd roared in approval behind her. "I never realized how fascinating the game could be and how much the experience would vary in person. Watching it with you and Frankie on television isn't the same."
"No," Jane agreed. "But it'll mean more to you the next time you do."
"That's just "
"Fascinating?" Jane added with another grin.
Maura smiled in return and slipped behind her best friend, slowly sliding her hands around Jane's waist. She sat a little closer this time, bravely resting her head against Jane's back.
"Where to now, Doc?"
Maura realized she was still smiling and felt no inclination to stop. "450 Harrison Avenue." She felt Jane sigh.
"We're going to an art gallery, aren't we?"
"Really? An art gallery? Huh." Maura managed a fair imitation of Jane's earlier tone.
"I deserved that." Jane revved the motorcycle, feeling Maura's grip on her tighten. She closed her eyes and swallowed, a giddy warmth radiating through her at the contact. It would take awhile this time of night to get to Harrison from where they were. For once, she was in no hurry.
"We could just go for ice cream."
"There is an exhibit here that I've I wanted to see and it closes in a few days."
Sighing dramatically, Jane fell in step next to her best friend.
"I enjoyed the game. Can't you at least try to enjoy the gallery?"
Feeling childish, Jane shrugged. "I'll try, but you know I don't get this crap."
"I'll explain all the 'crap' to you if you really want to know."
The air was turning cooler and Maura threaded her arm through Jane's drawing her closer for warmth and other reasons she didn't dare think about too closely for fear of losing her nerve. The truth was that she'd had a lovely time so far, but that meant her experiment wasn't going according to plan.
Maura had been having more than friendly feels for Jane for several months now, and she had hoped their 'date' would show her how foolish such a notion was. Jane had surprised her yet again, however, and Maura suspected her experiment had, indeed, blown up in her face.
"You okay?" Jane's voice was softer and carried a hint of worry.
Maura realized her thoughts had drifted and so had her attention. She managed a smile. "I'm fine. Just thinking."
"What a surprise."
Maura looked up at her best friend, receiving another one of Jane's indulgent smiles. Before she realized what she was doing, she reached up and cupped Jane's cheek.
They stared at each other a moment, pausing on the steps as a few other patrons passed them by with little interest.
"What?" Jane asked, her voice coming out huskier than normal.
Maura smiled in reaction to it and the little thrill it gave her physically. "I've always loved when you smile at me like that. You don't smile at anyone else that way."
"I don't?" Jane knew she was still smiling, but it had softened even as her heart rate had kicked up in surprise and something else.
"You don't," Maura confirmed as she reluctantly let her hand drop, realizing in the moment that what was happening between them might actually be mutual, even if Jane hadn't figured it out yet. Maura gasped when Jane caught her hand on the way down, tangling their fingers together, surprising her again.
"Come on. You need to explain some art to me."
"Actually, I'm pretty sure I won't."
They stepped inside and Jane saw the subject matter, turning to stare at Maura in surprise.
"I figured this photographic series on crime and punishment would appeal to us both." Maura held back as Jane approached one particularly stark photograph of an old prison cell. Light poured in through the barred window and highlighted every speck of rust on the jail door. It was strangely beautiful and equally haunting.
"Wow." Jane was spellbound.
Maura's eyebrows lifted as Jane drifted on to the next picture. She'd chosen well for their last stop on their date, and she allowed a pleased smile to shape her lips. Without a word, she drew closer, lacing her fingers with Jane's once more as they took in the photographs together.
Maura's street was startlingly quiet as they ascended the stairs and lingered on the front porch. It was nearly one in the morning, and Jane couldn't remember the last time she'd enjoyed a date so much she didn't want it to end. She leaned against the doorframe and studied Maura under the lamplight. "So looks like we've got more in common than we thought."
"Or maybe we just expand each others experience." Maura smiled faintly as Jane chuckled.
"Damn it all, we would make a good couple you know if we " Jane swallowed, feeling suddenly lightheaded as Maura gazed up at her. She'd never seen her best friend's eyes look so vivid. "Korsak and Frost will be unbearable."
"What about your mother?" Maura glanced at her watch. "I imagine she thinks we're having sex right about now."
The medical examiner shrugged, but she had a bemused smile on her face.
"I guess I should get going," Jane said reluctantly.
"I had a lovely time."
"Yeah yeah, me too," Jane admitted. "Probably the best damn date I've had in I don't know when."
"We need to find you a better class of men to date." Maura didn't sound enthusiastic about the idea.
"Or I should just date you." Jane smiled to let her friend know she was joking, but the idea didn't sound so absurd as it passed her lips. They stared at each other, and Jane felt the air charge between them. There was no mistaking the source of the sudden electricity between them, and Jane reeled at the implications. Stepping back but feeling more like she was staggering, Jane offered Maura a weak wave. "Guess we'll have to tell the others we're not as incompatible as we thought."
"As far as most of the first date variables are concerned, that would be correct."
Jane paused on the stairs. She knew she should get the hell out of there and clear her head, but her curiosity got the better of her. "What does that mean?"
"Well," Maura said into the thickening silence. "There are certain areas we didn't explore."
"Physically " Maura clearly felt like she didn't need to elaborate more.
"You always have sex on the first date?" Jane asked, trying to tell herself she didn't just imagine crawling on top of a naked Maura Isles in that big comfy bed of hers. She cleared her throat and ran a self-conscious hand through her hair.
"Not always," Maura answered honestly. "But I usually know if I'm going to want to have sex on a second one."
Jane lifted an eyebrow in silent question.
"You can tell a lot about your sexual compatibility by kissing someone, Jane." Maura's eyes seemed to sparkle with a silent dare.
Jane swallowed and sauntered back toward her best friend, drawn to her in way she'd always been afraid to examine too closely. "By kissing someone." She sounded doubtful, but her gaze dipped to Maura's lips and the way they glistened in the light. "You think you could tell if we were "
"Sexually compatible," Jane echoed, "just by kissing me?"
Maura came closer, erasing the distance between them. To her credit, Jane stood her ground, even though Maura was certain a part of her friend wanted to run. This was new territory for both of them. "How about it, Detective Rizzoli?" she teased, hoping she didn't sound as breathless as she felt. "You up to expanding your experience one more time tonight?"
"Are you daring me to kiss you?" Jane tried to sound incredulous but it came out more hopeful than that.
"If we're truly going to take the experiment to it's logical conclusion then yes. We've proven to be compatible in several ways but physically " Maura broke off as Jane leaned in and kissed her.
Maura's mouth was soft and warm against the cooling Boston night. Jane threaded one hand through her best friend's hair, urging her closer as the kiss deepened and weakened her knees. They both stumbled into the door, Maura's hands slowly circling Jane's waist before drifting up her ribs.
When they parted several intense minutes later, there was no denying just how compatible they truly were.
"I hate being wrong," Jane said.
Maura smiled, her fingers inching higher. "Perhaps we wouldn't be compatible in bed."
"I think that kiss says otherwise."
"Only one way to be sure," Maura purred before turning and unlocking her door.
Jane took a breath, staring at her waiting friend in the doorway, knowing that if she crossed that threshold that everything would change. "Expanding my experience, huh?"
Maura's smile made Jane's throat go dry.
"Among other things, Detective." Maura turned and sauntered inside, leaving the door ajar and the choice in Jane's hands.
Jane chewed on the corner of her thumbnail as the elevator descended, her head hurting from thinking so damn much. When the doors parted on the bottom floor, she released a sigh that would have made a condemned man proud.
Reluctantly pushing off the back wall, Jane stepped off the elevator, managing meager smiles for Maura's friendly but focused staff as they passed. She could smell the chemicals used to preserve and study the dead along with the slightly floral scent of air fresheners used to mask them. Over the years, the odd mix had become familiar and almost welcome, symbolic in some strange way of Maura, but today they made Jane slightly nauseous.
Maura was in autopsy, her head down as she carefully sewed up what she had cut open. Jane smiled sadly as she thought about the many contradictions that made up her best friend. She knew of no one more methodical than Maura Isles. That's why the medical examiner's devilish humor and occasional fits of spontaneity always caught her off guard and charmed her to her toes.
Jane swallowed at the thought, realizing it for the truth. For someone who detested most casual physical contact, she could never seem to keep her hands off Maura. Everyone else in her life had seen it, but she'd been oblivious to what was right in front of her.
"And you call yourself a detective," she said under her breath.
As if she'd heard the rebuke, Maura straightened and turned, going still when she saw Jane hesitating behind the glass. Jane held her breath, waiting to see if she'd be turned away or welcomed back. Maura's gaze searched Jane's features but her own revealed nothing.
After a long moment of uncertainty, the doctor snapped off her latex gloves and dipped her head in the direction of her office. Jane let out the breath she'd been holding, watching it fog the glass as she swayed in place with relief.
Maura kept her waiting for another ten minutes before appearing, shrugging out of her lab coat as she entered. The ridiculous heels she liked to wear set off the firm lines of her legs, and Jane's gaze followed the path up to the hem of her skirt before skittering higher, taking in her best friend in a way she never had before. When she felt heat settle low in her stomach, Jane knew Friday night hadn't been a fluke.
"Hi." Jane retreated toward the door, leaning as casually as she could against the frame as Maura sat at her desk.
"I didn't think I'd see you again until it was over a dead body." Maura leaned back and watched her, her features still betraying nothing about what she was thinking.
Jane grimaced. "Look I know things are awkward "
"They don't have to be," Maura cut her off briskly but Jane heard the first quiver in her best friend's voice. "We'll just forget Friday night ever happened."
Maura wouldn't meet her gaze now, and Jane felt something freefall in her stomach. "Is that what you want?"
"Isn't that what you want?"
Jane opened her mouth to reply only to close it a moment later. She'd thought she'd finally come to a decision, but now that she was faced with going through with it, she was no longer sure. "I'm I don't know."
Maura looked at her in surprise. "You don't know?"
Shrugging, Jane came a little closer. "I " She paused, pinching the bridge of her nose and willing her brain to come up with the right words. "This whole thing blindsided me, Maura."
Releasing a sigh of her own, Maura sank back in her chair. "I shouldn't have pushed things. I don't always consider the consequences." She gave Jane an apologetic half smile that made the detective's heart feel like it was fracturing in two.
"You don't have to apologize."
"Then why does it feel like I do?" Maura laced her fingers and set them on her desk, staring at her hands intently.
Jane swallowed. "Maura really you don't owe me an apology."
"I tried to seduce you."
The air went out of the room. Jane realized she'd drifted even closer to Maura when she reached out and caught the edge of Maura's desk, going lightheaded at the declaration. "You planned for things to end the way they did?"
Maura shook her head, her gold hair shimmering to Jane's eyes as it swayed. "Not not exactly." Pursuing her lips, Maura slowly met Jane's gaze again. "But I considered the possibility when I suggested the idea of a date."
"You told me once that you didn't want to sleep with me." Jane wasn't sure if she should be confused, angry, or thrilled.
Looking away, Maura shrugged uncomfortably. "Feelings change, Jane. They evolve. Sometimes morphing into something we least expect."
Jane couldn't argue with that. "I know that you're more casual," Jane winced, hoping the word wasn't insulting, "about sex, Maura." Her best friend looked at her again, her features once more unreadable. "It's just I'm not." Jane waved a hand at herself. "I don't do one-night stands as a general rule. When I go to bed with someone it's about more than the physical act."
"I know that." Maura's voice was tight but determined. "I just lost sight of that particular truth about you for a moment. It won't happen again."
If there were any lingering doubts about whether Jane had romantic feelings for her best friend, they evaporated when Jane watched Maura try to inconspicuously wipe away an errant tear. "Maura "
"It's fine. Things will be uncomfortable between us for a short while, but I'm confident that we'll work past it eventually." Maura's tone had turned professional once more.
"Maura," Jane said again. "Will you stop? I came here to talk this out with you."
"You came here to let me down easy. I'm not a fool, Jane."
Maura wasn't looking at her again. Jane knew her friend had to be incredibly upset to avoid eye contact this much. Maura was nothing if not direct. It was that trait that had gotten them into this mess. Still, Jane couldn't help but bristle. It drove her crazy when Maura assumed the worst of her. "You don't know everything, Doctor."
Clearly picking up on Jane's tone, Maura let a little of her frustration and hurt emerge in her voice. "You ran off into the middle of the night."
"I didn't run off," Jane huffed with exaggeration, trying to keep the growing tension between them at a manageable level. "I drove. On a motorcycle no less."
Maura tilted her head, less than amused with Jane's attempt at humor.
"Fine. I ran off into the night."
"Like a coward."
Jane's jaw tightened and clenched. Her first response was an angry one, and she knew that would only make things worse. "That's not why I left."
Maura crossed her arms. "I can understand that you didn't want to have sex with me, but I would have thought you'd at least have the courtesy to come inside and tell me you were leaving. I thought I deserved that much."
"I should have," Jane said. "But I didn't run because I was afraid."
"Maura." Jane swallowed her frustration, knowing that if the roles were reversed she'd be pissed too. She bit the proverbial bullet, finally coming to say what she'd wanted to say all weekend. "I left because because it may have just been sex to you but it would have meant more than that to me."
Maura blinked. "Jane " she said again, the anger in her voice replaced by a breathlessness that did funny things to Jane's insides.
"You're my best friend I love you." Jane swallowed again, annoyed to feel the burn of tears. "I was just overwhelmed and confused and as much as I wanted " She paused, drawing in a breath that almost hurt as Maura looked up at her in surprise. "I wasn't ready to risk this " she motioned between them, "until I knew where my head was where was heart was."
Feeling exposed and vulnerable at the admission, Jane backed toward the door. "It may have just been sex to you," she repeated, "but I could never go to bed with you without it meaning everything." The last word came out in a hoarse whisper.
"Jane, wait " Maura started to rise.
"I gotta go." Jane couldn't stand the disbelief she could see in Maura's eyes. Without another word, she turned on her heel and left, trying her best not to run for the elevator. At least she'd said what she wanted to. Almost.
She hadn't had the courage to ask Maura for a second date.
Angela Rizzoli wiggled her toes, trying in vain to alleviate some of the aching in her feet. She'd been on them all day and was more than ready for the glass of wine and bubble bath she'd promised herself as a reward for putting up with Stanley for the last eight hours.
She pushed through the door from the kitchen and stepped out into the café, stripping off her apron and tucking it under the counter. With a sigh, she flipped off the light and turned to go, letting out a yelp of surprise when she saw Maura sitting there in the relative darkness. The sun was peering in through the windows above, but it was fast fleeing, bathing them both in shadows.
"I'm sorry," Maura said in a subdued voice. "I didn't mean to startle you."
Jane's best friend looked bereft. Angela hesitated, torn between Maura's distress and suspecting that the doctor was the reason behind Jane's latest mood swing. Something had clearly happened between the two on their "date," but Jane was tight-lipped about the whole thing. Being kept in the dark drove Angela crazy, but she didn't need details to know her daughter was hurting.
"Doctor Isles." Angela decided on aloof.
Maura winced. "Jane told you."
Angela considered her options. Jane wasn't going to tell her squat, and this might be her best opportunity to pry. "She told me enough," she hedged, ignoring the expected pang of Catholic guilt before drifting closer. For the first time, she could see Maura's eyes were rimmed with red and her heart twisted at the sight. Angela sighed, never able to stay upset with this woman for long. Maura wasn't blood, but she was still family. "You want to tell me your side of things?"
Maura shrugged as her well-manicured hands flexed helplessly in a slash of sunlight slowly shrinking on the tabletop. "What's to tell? Jane hates me."
Easing into the chair opposite the medical examiner, Angela frowned at how exhausted and lost Maura appeared. The mother in her couldn't help but reach out, covering one of Maura's hands with her own. "Jane could never hate you."
"I gave her a good reason. Maybe several good reasons." Maura propped her right elbow on the table and rested her chin on it, but she didn't move the hand safely ensconced in Angela's own. "I wish I was better with the living. I guess there is a reason I work with the dead."
Hearing a hitch in the doctor's voice made Angela's heart hurt. Maura sniffled and Angela's resolve to be mad on her daughter's behalf dissolved. "What happened?"
Maura was quiet a moment. Angela was beginning to think she wasn't going to say anything at all when Maura whispered something she could barely hear.
The doctor cleared her throat. "I said I " Maura licked her lips. Shifting in her chair so she could meet Angela's gaze straight on, she took another short, jerky breath and forced the words out. "I think I'm falling in love with your daughter."
Angela blinked, feeling her stomach flip in surprise.
"I know your faith doesn't really " Maura paused and swallowed clearly unsure what to do about the stunned look on Angela's face. "I just I wasn't sure before our date. I was beginning to suspect that my feelings had grown deeper and more complex. But during the date I knew. I knew what I was feeling was serious, but I went about expressing that the wrong way."
"Expressing " Angela repeated numbly.
Maura cleared her throat again, casting a guilty look at Angela before glancing away. "I made a miscalculation."
"A miscalculation." Angela could just bet what that miscalculation was.
"Our wires got crossed. I thought Jane and she thought that I " Maura sighed again and rubbed her hand across her forehead. "I don't know what to do, Angela."
"Oh boy." Angela couldn't think of anything more helpful to say so she said it again. "Oh boy."
Maura shot her another worried look. "Perhaps it's best if I speak to someone else about this. I didn't mean to put you in an awkward or uncomfortable " Maura broke off as Angela squeezed her hand.
"Maura." Angela's voice softened as she took a moment to settle and organize her thoughts. "Are you sure? You really love my daughter?"
"Yes." Maura's voice was clear now and full of conviction. "I honestly think I've never been more sure of anything in my life."
Angela melted a little at that and she tightened her grip on the younger woman. "You know I think of you like one of my own "
"You don't approve," Maura guessed.
Angela shook her head. "It's not that." She slowly smiled. "I just never thought she would find somebody good enough for her."
Maura's throat rippled as she swallowed. "Really?" She searched Angela's face. "You're okay with this? With the possibility of "
"Definitely okay." Angela couldn't help the smile that split her face. "I've wondered You two are so close closer than Jane has ever been with anyone." She sighed, watching Maura hopefully. She could only pray Jane wouldn't screw this up. "My daughter loves you. You're the one person she would do anything for outside of family."
"Oh no." Maura shook her head. "There was never anything Well not before last Friday night "
Angela smiled again. "You came to me for advice." Thank God one of them had, Angela thought. If they waited on her daughter they would never get anywhere.
The medical examiner drew up a little straighter and nodded. "I didn't know whom else to turn to." She smiled tremulously. "And you've always been so kind to me "
"Jane likes to play it tough, but we both know she has a soft side." Angela scooted her chair a little closer. Now that the shock of having what she'd suspected for some time confirmed, she was starting to feel giddy. "You need to woo her."
"Woo her." Maura shook her head. "I don't understand."
"For such a smart lady you can be a little dumb sometimes." Angela kept smiling to keep the sting out of her words. "Whatever it is you think you did wrong you need to let Jane know you're sorry. Flowers. Chocolates. Shower her in attention. She won't be able to resist."
"That seems very old-fashioned." Maura looked skeptical.
Angela nodded. "It is. But Jane is actually a little old-fashioned."
Maura considered that for a moment, unable to find any flaws in Angela's logic. "Flowers and chocolates," she said slowly, her brow furrowing in concentration.
"Worth a shot, right?"
"So the objective is to woo her back, to show her that I'm contrite and that I want another chance."
"That's the idea."
Maura nodded, as she came to a decision. "Jane's likes lilies, right?"
Angela grinned from ear to ear.
"What is this?"
Jane drew up short when she saw the massive bouquet of flowers that greeted her at the start of her shift. An explosion of color, they were perched in the center of her desk, drawing the attention of every detective in the room. Jane felt her face heat in embarrassment, but there was a thread of shy pleasure coursing through her as well.
"Flowers. Some detective you are." Frost shot a knowing look at Korsak as he hung up the phone.
"Thank you, Einstein. Who are they from?" Jane glanced at Korsak who shrugged.
"You think we'd read your card? Invade your privacy?" the older detective asked.
"We didn't have time to steam open the envelope." Frost gave her a wicked grin.
Jane shook her head. With a sigh, she snatched the envelope up and ripped it open, hoping like hell she didn't have another amorous serial killer on her hands. She read the words with vague unease.
I'm sorry. I hope you can see it in your heart to give me another chance.
Jane's breath caught when she saw Maura's signature, as familiar as her own.
"Well?" Frost asked.
Jane looked up, having forgotten her partners were even there. "Well what?"
"Who are they from? Somebody sure dropped a dime or two for those." The younger detective looked envious.
"None of your business." Jane tucked the card back into the bouquet of irises and lilies, a tiny, unconscious smile on her features. She gently touched one of the soft petals, breathing in their welcome scent. Maura had remembered her favorites, but Jane would have expected nothing less. Maura's brain was a treasure trove of what Jane often thought was useless, but more fascinating than she wanted to admit, information.
"Must be serious." Korsak glanced at Jane out of the corner of his eye, earning him a withering glare in return. He smiled. "Judging by the sappy look on your face while you were reading that card, I'd say significantly serious."
Frost cut his gaze back to Jane, assessing her with a cop's eyes. "I'd say somebody's got a crush."
"Suspect is in interview two." Jane tried to affect an air of indifference as she turned to leave, only to pivot when she heard a chair scrape across the floor. She beat Frost to Maura's card a half second before her partner could get his hand on it. She clucked her tongue at him. "Gotta be faster than that."
Frost crossed his arms, but he had a determined glint in his eyes Jane knew all too well. She deliberately tucked the card into her back pocket and patted it for emphasis.
"You try to get this card out of my back pocket, and I will arrest your ass for assault."
"Might be worth it."
"Shut up, Korsak." Jane wanted to be annoyed, but another glance at her flowers made it hard to be upset about a lot of things. "I gotta do everything by myself while you ladies sit around and gossip? We've got a murder suspect to question." She tossed her hair over her shoulder as she left, a small, pleased smirk on her lips. The flowers were a nice token. Leaving them where she would be able to drive her nosy partners insane was a bonus. Maura knew her too well.
Her fingers slipped into her back pocket, caressing the edge of the card as she walked. Jane was tempted to cave, always giving in with disgusting ease where Maura was concerned, but this time would be different. If Maura wanted a second date, the doctor was going to have to work for it.
The thought of getting in deeper with Maura still scared the hell out of her, but she couldn't deny that was exactly what she wanted. She could still remember kissing Maura on the porch, the cool night air useless against the heat that had surged between them. Jane's body warmed in a way it never had with any of the men she'd dated. She wondered if she'd just been kidding herself all this time and didn't like the answer that came to her.
"Yeah," Jane said under her breath. "Some detective you are." She shook her head in disbelief at her own cluelessness. No wonder she was always relieved when Casey left.
Biting her lip, Jane glanced toward the elevators. Maybe she could run down to the morgue under the guise of checking on a lab report or two. She was waiting on more than one, after all. She could drop a hint in Maura's direction, let her know that her advances were working
"Thought we had a murder suspect," Korsak reminded her as he passed, startling her and stopping her in her tracks before she could take a single step.
"Bite me, Korsak." Jane blushed, suspecting her thoughts must have been showing on her face when Korsak winked at her.
"I think I'll leave that up to your secret admirer."
Jane glared but he merely chuckled in response before stepping into interview. She pulled the card out of her pocket and looked at it once more, not only accepting, but welcoming the jolt in her guts at the sight of Maura's signature this time. "Come on, Maura," she whispered. "Prove to me you want this as much as I do."
Tucking the card back into her pocket, Jane took a breath, hoping she was able to get the lovesick look off her face before questioning her suspect.
The more Maura searched for things Jane would like the more she enjoyed it. Jane was a hard woman to shop for. Just thinking about her best friend's birthday used to be enough to make Maura break out in hives, but now that their relationship had waded into murkier waters, somehow that had made things oddly clearer for the medical examiner.
Maura shook her head a little as she finished her online order. Jane was getting another bouquet tomorrow, the fourth one this week. That was on top of the pizza she'd ordered for the whole squad the day before. She'd also splurged on a print from the gallery showing they'd attended, one she thought Jane had especially enjoyed. Korsak had mentioned in passing that Jane had gotten a gift from an admirer that had nearly turned her, in his words, into a pile of "lovesick goo."
Sighing, Maura leaned back in her chair. She tried to ignore the pang she in her stomach at Jane's continued absence. The other woman was being stubborn, which wasn't surprising in the least, but it was maddening. Maura missed her smile. She missed her voice.
Getting Jane's friendship back would be enough, but Maura closed her eyes and hoped for more. Now that she'd admitted her feelings, now that they were out in the open, she couldn't deny how right they felt. She could only hope Korsak was right and Jane felt the same way.
"Come on, Jane." Maura closed her laptop. "Let me back in."
Jane fidgeted in the elevator, thinking about the new bouquet that had been left on her desk for the fourth day in a row. Jane didn't buy a lot of flowers, but she knew pricey ones when she saw them. Maura was sparing no expense.
And it was starting to make Jane feel like an ass.
Today there had also been chocolates, her favorites with little sprinkles of bacon in them. Jane had grabbed the box and left the squad room, feeling her partners' knowing eyes on her as she headed for the elevator. She didn't know if they'd figured out the identity of her secret admirer, and she really didn't give a damn anymore. She just needed to see Maura if only to let the other woman off the hook. All of these gifts only served to remind Jane that no one knew her better than Maura Isles.
The doors opened and Jane stepped out into the hall, taking a deep breath to steel her nerves. The last time she'd come here, things hadn't gone the way she'd hoped, but Jane was relatively certain history wasn't going to repeat itself. Maura had more than made up for the misunderstanding between them. Now it was her turn.
Stepping inside her best friend's office, Jane pulled up short when she realized it was empty. Disappointed, she turned to head for the morgue only to stop and stare when she spotted a picture on the file cabinet she'd never really paid much attention to before.
Jane set the chocolates down and drew the photo closer, staring at her and Maura as they lounged together on a picnic blanket. They were side by side, almost touching, even though there was more than enough room on the blanket. Jane could almost feel the sun that had been beating down on them that day. She'd been on the verge of a nap when Maura had settled next to her, and they'd spent nearly an hour spying a virtual zoo among the clouds. She had heard the camera click and had given her mother a withering glare at the time, but she'd been more upset about being pulled out of the peaceful moment with Maura than she had been about the picture.
"Look at us," Jane muttered. "Jesus, we've been fools."
Tears stung the corners of Jane's eyes when she thought about how much time they'd wasted. She didn't want to waste anymore.
Scooping up the chocolates, Jane returned to her search only to wind up frustrated. Maura was out of the building and wouldn't return until later. She was tempted to go after her best friend, but Maura had a job to do just like she did.
Moving back into Maura's office, Jane picked up a Post-It and placed it on Maura's desk. She grabbed a pen before jotting down a quick message, hoping like hell no one but Maura would see it.
Maura placed two fingers to her neck, alarmed by how fast and hard her heart was beating. She'd returned after a hectic morning in the field to find a simple note and one of the chocolates she'd given Jane on her desk. The message had been simple, but it had succeeded in making Maura nearly weak in the knees.
Let's try again.
Maura wasn't sure what Jane wanted to try again, but her brain was rapidly suggesting possibilities as she paced the hall outside interrogation. One of her assistants had handed her the DNA results Jane had requested earlier as Maura had practically run to the elevator, and Maura was glad now that she had some piece of business she could use as an opening.
A door behind her jerked open and Maura jumped. A second later, Jane emerged, anger etched into every sharp line of her body as she all but stomped down the hall toward her desk. Maura bit her lip, unsure of her course of action given her friend's apparent upset, but she couldn't bear the thought of going another day without hearing Jane's voice.
"Detective Rizzoli." Maura kept her voice neutral, but she could hear a quiver in it, her nerves creeping in unwelcome.
Jane stopped walking and turned, her gaze lingering on Maura for a long moment before she drew in a deep breath. Slowly, she came a few steps back down the hall, but she didn't come nearly as close as Maura wanted her to. "Doctor Isles."
The formal greeting didn't have the edge to it Maura had been expecting, and some of the butterflies in Maura's stomach calmed. She held out the folder in her hands without comment.
For a moment, Jane almost looked disappointed as she eyed the folder, but then her features went blank once more. "That the DNA results?" She hesitated, reluctant to come closer.
"I rushed them for you."
Jane glanced back down the hall. Seeing they were alone, she sighed and approached, reaching up to take the results. "Thanks."
"I thought maybe you "
"I saw your note."
Jane's head came up and her dark eyes studied Maura intently, making her pulse pound even harder. "Oh uh good."
Maura licked her lips. "Did you mean it? That you wanted to try again?"
"I don't usually pour my heart out on Post-It notes unless I mean it. Unless 'Don't forget toilet paper' counts."
Only Jane would think four words was pouring her heart out Maura thought with a faint trace of a smile. "I just I don't want there to be any more misunderstandings. When you said you wanted to try again "
"I meant " Jane swallowed. "I meant us," she said softly. "A relationship. More than what we already have." She looked down at the floor before carefully lifting her gaze to capture Maura whole.
Maura swayed in place a little, nearly lightheaded at the prospect. "We have a lot already," she felt the need to say.
Jane smiled, her eyes gentle. "We do."
"Is it worth the risk?"
"Is it for you?" Jane searched her features.
Maura sternly reminded herself to breathe. "When you came to see me the other day You said You said sex between us would be more than that to you."
"Yeah," Jane answered slowly.
"I " Maura swallowed, her throat painfully dry. "I want more. I knew that when I invited you into my bed, Jane. I just I didn't think you would " She had to stop, the sudden surge of unwanted tears burning her eyes.
"Maura," Jane breathed. "How long have you "
"I don't know. It blindsided me, too." Maura bravely met Jane's gaze only to see a small, wondering smile on her best friend's lips. "I should go." It was the last thing Maura wanted to do, but things were getting a little too intense between them and this wasn't the time or the place to say anything more.
"The flowers they're beautiful." Jane reached out, as if to touch Maura, to keep her there, but she reluctantly let her hand fall between them. "The photograph from the gallery showing it was my favorite."
"I'm glad you liked them."
"You've got the whole division taking bets on who my mystery suitor is." The detective stood a little straighter as a cop came out of one of the interview rooms and nodded at them both as he passed.
Maura smiled. "I wanted you to know I was sorry. I was following traditional rituals in an effort to what?" Maura stopped as Jane crossed her arms and gave her an amused look.
"You're acting like a guy in the dog house."
Maura felt a flicker of anger but she squelched it, allowing that Jane had a point. "I I suppose that's a fair analogy."
Jane smothered a smile and her eyes softened. "You don't have to keep buying me things, Maura."
"Did the flowers make you feel better about us? About our misunderstanding?"
Jane shrugged self-consciously. "I guess they didn't hurt."
"I'd buy you every flower in Boston to fix this."
Jane opened her mouth to respond only to close it. Maura knew she'd said something right when Jane's lips lifted in a shy, pleased smile. "Maura "
"I mean it, Jane. I want to fix this. Us."
Drawing in a slow breath, Jane met her gaze again. "Me, too."
The tension bled from Maura's body so fast she felt light-headed again. "Maybe we could have dinner? Talk things out at my place?"
Jane looked very tempted and Maura tried not to feel a thread of excitement in reaction.
"I'm about to wrap up this case. I can't promise I would make it."
"Then wrap up your case, Detective. We'll have dinner tomorrow. I'll cook."
"Dinner? On a Friday night?" Jane stared at her for a long moment. She licked her lips nervously but she seemed to be coming to a decision. "Sounds a little like you're asking me out on a second date, Doctor Isles."
Even though she was so nervous she was nearly nauseous, Maura dredged up a brave smile and shrugged one shoulder, hoping she came off nonchalant. "Only if you're saying yes."
They stared at each other, both painfully aware that whatever happened next would change the course of their friendship.
"Only if you stop buying me things." Jane managed to sound casual but Maura could hear how breathless she was.
"Very well. Although I suppose I should take back the box seats I bought you and Frankie to this weekend's game. They're behind the DNA results."
Maura playfully reached for the folder, and Jane snatched it back.
"Let's not be too hasty." Jane sneaked a peek at the tickets. "Jeez. You sure know how to you're sorry."
"I had a lot to apologize for," Maura said sincerely.
Jane's dark eyes softened again. "Apology accepted. But only if I can keep the tickets."
Seeing Jane's playful side set the last of Maura's fears to rest. "I suppose it's a price worth paying." She sighed dramatically. When Jane reached out, her hand gripping Maura's shoulder before slowly sliding down Maura's arm, the medical examiner held her breath.
Tangling their fingers together, Jane urged her closer, maybe too close, Maura thought as she got a lungful of Jane's scent, alluring as any perfume.
"And forget Frankie. The only one I want with me at the game is you."
When the door to interview opened with a jerk, both women leapt apart like they'd been burned.
Frost stepped out and blinked when he saw his partner and the medical examiner. "Doctor Isles," he greeted, looking from one woman to the other.
"Detective Frost." Maura nodded her head in Jane's direction. She couldn't look at the other woman right now, wanting much more than either of them could give at the moment. "Jane." She pivoted on her heel and practically fled, hurrying to the safe haven of the elevator.
Jane watched her go before shifting her attention on her partner who was watching her curiously. "What?" she snapped.
"For a second there I thought nah." Frost shook his head and moved past her, missing Jane's eye-roll and her slapping her forehead with the DNA results. She caught a glimpse of Maura just as the elevator doors closed, however, and she couldn't help the smile for her friend before she disappeared from view.
Taking a deep breath, Jane turned and started walking toward her desk. She had a case to solve tonight and then she was putting in for vacation time tomorrow. There was no damn way she was going to miss out on a second date with Maura Isles.
Maura stepped back to allow Jane inside, taking a moment to appreciate her best friend's dark red, figure-hugging dress. Either Jane had been shopping since yesterday, or the detective had been hiding some nicer clothes in the deep confines of her closet. She smiled as she closed the door, catching a whiff of perfume on the air that Jane so seldom wore. It made her stomach do somersaults.
"You look beautiful."
Jane turned to meet her gaze before looking down at herself. "What? This old thing?"
"You didn't have to dress up." Maura drifted closer, accepting the nice bottle of wine Jane had brought for the occasion.
"Uh-huh." Jane's gaze traveled over ever inch of the doctor, making her warm. "Do I want to know what designer you're wearing this evening, Doctor?"
Maura let one hand trail down her side over the silver blue silk. "Seems we're both trying to make a good impression."
"You succeeded." Jane must have realized what she'd just confessed. She cleared her throat, looking anywhere but at Maura's pleased smile. "Something smells good."
"I borrowed your mother's lasagna recipe."
"My mother gave you our family lasagna recipe? She won't even let me have that." Jane trailed after Maura into the kitchen. "What'd you have to promise to be entrusted with that secret?"
Maura brushed an errant hair away from her face and tucked it behind her ear. "To not break your heart."
"Seriously?" Jane pivoted toward her, looking horrified.
"Actually, she was very insistent that I use a particular brand of cheese from a very specific store. I had to take off work early just to go get it."
Jane slapped her arm and Maura smirked.
"Although I'm sure that treading carefully with your heart was implied." Maura turned and pulled two plates out of the cupboard, intensely aware of Jane's dark eyes on her.
"Tell me you did not talk to my mother about us."
Maura hesitated. So far the mood between them was comfortable and familiar and she was loath to say anything that might jeopardize it. "I did not talk to your mother about us." Maura knew she was simply following Jane's instructions. She would point that out later when the topic came up again.
Jane grunted, not buying her innocent act for a second. Maura could tell Jane was curious to know what they'd talked about, but she suspected her friend was a little worried as well. Wanting your mother's acceptance was something Maura understood better than most.
Clearing her throat again, Jane leaned against the counter. The lights had been dimmed, and a few candles flickered throughout the space, making Maura's home more romantic than any fancy restaurant. "Can we get something out of the way?"
Maura set the plates on the counter and turned to look at her curiously. "Out of the way?"
"Um..." Jane cleared her throat for a third time and rolled her eyes at herself. "No sex tonight, right?"
Maura blinked, unsure how she was supposed to respond. "I The only assumption I made about tonight was dinner."
Jane blew out a breath. "Cool. Glad that we got that settled."
"Did you think I invited you over to have sex?"
"No!" Jane shook her head. "I mean maybe eventually." She sighed. "Sorry. I'm a little nervous."
Pursing her lips, Maura came closer. Apparently they weren't as comfortable as she thought. "It's just us, Jane. Just dinner."
Jane stared at her for a moment. "Yeah but now we're "
Smiling faintly, Maura dared to take Jane's hand and she was relieved when her friend didn't pull away. "We're having dinner," she repeated. "There are no other expectations about tonight, all right?"
Shaking her head, Jane closed her eyes and sighed again. "I don't know if that makes me happy or disappointed." She cracked one eye open and fixed her gaze on Maura's bemused features.
"I think that is a positive sign for wherever we're going."
"Yeah?" Jane asked, sounding unsure.
"Definitely." Maura squeezed the hand in hers. "I know this is new for you. It's new for me, too. Whatever pace you want, Jane."
Jane tightened her fingers around Maura's hand. "I just I thought maybe we should ease into this."
"So there is a 'this' to ease into?" Maura's bright eyes were vivid even in the candlelight.
Drawing in a ragged breath, Jane nodded. "Yeah," she repeated. "I think there is."
They stared at each other for a moment before Maura finally looked away. "Now that we have that out of the way " She squeezed Jane's hand one last time and let go, turning to retrieve the plates. "I thought we could simply eat dinner and watch a movie together."
"That sounds perfect." The rest of the tension fled from Jane's tall frame now that she knew there were no expectations for the rest of the evening. "You ever you know done this before?"
Maura bent to retrieve their meal from the oven but she could feel Jane's eyes on her. "Made lasagna?"
Jane gave her friend a look and Maura just smiled. "You know what I mean."
"Are you asking me if I've ever dated a woman before?" Maura hesitated for a moment, wondering what the right answer was. "Yes. Once or twice."
"Figures you would be the one with more education in this department."
Chuckling as Jane's disgruntled tone, Maura began to plate up their food. "Open the wine, would you? I know you have plenty of experience with that."
"Yes, Doctor," Jane purred dramatically, swatting Mara on the hip as she walked past to retrieve the corkscrew.
Maura smiled and let out a breath of her own. Maybe this evening would go off better than she'd hoped.
The food had been amazing. The company was even better. Jane turned her head, watching the candlelight play over Maura's hair. Her best friend had hesitantly curled against her midway through the movie, and now Maura's head was resting peacefully on Jane's shoulder. The moment was damn near perfect, Jane had to admit, savoring the touch of Maura's hands as they toyed with one of her own. The movie was almost over, but Jane had stopped watching a long time ago, too caught up in what she was feeling to pay any attention.
"You have beautiful hands," Maura murmured, tracing her thumb over the back of Jane's left hand. "They remind me of you."
One of Jane's eyebrows lifted. "Scarred?" Her voice sounded hoarse from disuse, but it still carried a hint of humor. Maura smiled against her shoulder a second before the doctor's thumb teased over the scar in question. Jane had never felt anything but shame when someone had touched it before, but now slow, seductive warmth bloomed deep in her guts.
"I suppose you are," Maura said matter-of-factly. "But these hands have comforted victims, have taken down criminals." She continued to caress Jane's hand, unaware of the effect it was having on the other woman. "They're long." Her fingers played over Jane's. "Strong "
Maura lifted her head and Jane found herself looking into blue eyes that swallowed her whole. "Do they still hurt? The scars?"
For a moment, Jane didn't even know what Maura was talking about. She finally shook her head a little, trying to break the spell Maura was putting her under before she did something she'd promised herself she wouldn't do tonight. Jane glanced down at her hand, watching Maura's thumb ease over the scar once more before turning her hand over to stare at the small, star-like pattern on her palm.
"Not as much since "
"Since Hoyt died?" Maura guessed.
Jane swallowed and nodded, refusing to let memories of that man and what he'd almost done to Maura intrude on the moment.
Maura slowly lifted Jane's hand to her lips, kissing the scar softly. Jane's breath caught, and the slow heat that had been building in her stomach suddenly got much more intense.
"I know you see weakness when you look at these, but I don't. I see unimaginable strength. Courage. You survived him. You stopped him. You've stopped so many more just like him."
"It's just a scar, Maura." Jane struggled to breathe as Maura kissed her palm again. No one had ever been so gentle with her before. "I didn't know you dug scars," she joked, hoping to ease some of the gathering tension between them.
"Just yours." Maura eased forward, kissing Jane softly. The touch was almost chaste, and it wasn't nearly enough for Jane as Maura moved away, standing to shut off the closing credits of the movie neither of them had been watching.
"I guess I guess I should go." Jane didn't want to. When Maura turned to look at her in the candlelight she wanted to even less. "It's late." Her voice came out like a croak as she glanced at her watch. She knew if she didn't leave now she was going to cross a line she couldn't uncross.
Maura smiled knowingly. "Thanks for coming tonight, Jane. I hope I hope we can do this again."
Jane stood. She was drawn closer by the uncertainty in Maura's eyes, needing to banish whatever fears remained. "I think that seems likely." Her knees went weak as Maura smiled at her.
"Would it be all right if I " Maura paused, searching Jane's face. "I really want to kiss you goodnight."
Now her knees nearly buckled. Jane swallowed nervously, her heart beginning to hammer against her ribs. The rational part of her brain knew it was a bad idea if she had any prayer of going home tonight, but Jane couldn't resist. Slowly, she nodded, feeling almost lightheaded as Maura eased closer, her friend's hands circling her waist. Maura touch was warm through the thin material of Jane's dress, but nothing could compare to the heat of Maura's mouth.
They'd shared a shy smile first before Maura closed the distance between them, seeming to come to a decision and acting on it quickly before she lost her nerve. Jane's breath caught again, hitching deep in her chest as Maura's whole body brushed against hers. There was nothing fevered about the contact this time. Maura kissed her slowly and deliberately, and Jane pressed closer, the only things that mattered the taste and feel of her best friend. When Maura finally eased away, Jane knew she wasn't going anywhere.
"I should " Maura began only to gasp in surprise as Jane's hands eased up her ribs before drawing her into another searing kiss. She moaned softly as Jane's hand tangled in her hair, holding her in place as Jane kissed her nearly senseless.
"Jane " Maura barely got her friend's name out as they came up for air minutes later. She hadn't meant to escalate things between them, but Jane had looked breathtaking in the candlelight and she hadn't been able to resist. Maura had only wanted a simple kiss goodnight, but she should have known nothing was ever simple when it came to Jane Rizzoli.
Jane's dark eyes were wild when their gazes met, and Maura's stomach clenched in reaction. When Jane's fingers tangled with hers and tugged her toward the bedroom, Maura struggled to find the self-control to stop this while she still could. "Jane," she breathed again, but Maura was dismayed to hear a voice thick with desire rather than the cool, rational tone she'd been hoping for.
The taller woman turned in the darkened hallway and pressed Maura against the wall, kissing her again with undeniable hunger. Reason fled, and at the first tease of Jane's tongue, she had no desire to get it back.
They stumbled into the bedroom. Maura knew this was new for Jane so she took charge, easing her best friend down onto the bed before sliding on top of her. Jane's nostril's flared as their bodies pressed together, and she eagerly reached for Maura, pulling her in close and tight.
Distantly, Maura was aware of their shoes hitting the floor as she decided how to make love to Jane for the first time. Their mouths met again in the dark, and Jane whimpered softly as Maura turned the tables, teasing Jane with her tongue before sliding her thigh between them. Jane tasted like wine, and Maura would swear she was getting drunk off the other woman.
"Wait," Jane said suddenly, pulling back slightly. Maura's heart nearly stopped as their gazes met, hyperaware that her hands were about to touch Jane's breasts. Deliberately, Maura ignored her as she let her hands slide upward, squeezing softly as she claimed her prize. Jane's eyes glazed over and a tiny, provocative sound emerged from the back of her throat.
"Never mind," Jane muttered, leaning forward again and finding Maura's mouth eagerly waiting.
A tiny, annoying voice had Maura finally pulling away. "I promised you " Her voiced trailed off into a moan as Jane's hand skimmed up her torso to cup her breasts as well.
Jane echoed the sound, a hunger in her eyes Maura had never seen before. She couldn't deny that need, not when she wanted this just as much. If there was fallout, they would deal with it, just like they always did, but tonight they needed this. They needed each other.
Maura felt the cool touch of her zipper slide down her back and she shivered as warm fingers slipped under the silk to touch heated skin. "Jane " she pleaded, not sure she could stop now if she wanted to.
"Changed my mind."
It was the final permission Maura needed. She stopped holding back, her hands going to Jane's hips and dragging her closer. Jane gasped into Maura's mouth, and the world went hazy as Maura turned fantasy into reality.
Jane had always been so careful with sex. She'd never wanted to open herself up too much to anyone, the need to be in control of herself and her environment too ingrained to ever completely let go. But in Maura's hands, in one of the few places where she felt truly safe, Jane's resistance slipped and she did nothing to hold onto it. She trusted Maura with soul, and now she wanted to show her how much she trusted her with her body.
"Maura " Jane gasped her name when Maura touched her knowingly, intimately for the first time. Jane's head slammed back against the mattress as she was entered, two long fingers sliding inside her and curving at just the right angle to make her nearly lose her mind. It was so good, so damn right, to have Maura inside her that Jane felt the burn of tears.
The pace quickened, neither of them able to take things slow now that they'd crossed the line, now that they were closer than they had ever been. Maura loved her perfectly, as if they'd done this a hundred times before. When Jane felt the sharp sting of teeth nipping her right breast lightly through the fabric of her dress, the final thread of control slipped and she let it go. Jane clutched at Maura as her best friend sent her soaring over the edge, forcing a cry from her throat as Maura rubbed just the right spot to make the pleasure even more intense.
When it was over, Jane gasped for air, a hint of red tinting her cheeks when she recalled all the ways she'd begged Maura for release, words she hadn't remembered uttering until her brain was clear of the desire to be taken the way Maura had taken her.
Maura smiled down at her as Jane finally tracked her gaze to her best friend's familiar blue eyes. "You okay? You're blushing."
Jane swallowed, all too aware of Maura's fingers still buried inside her and how perfect they felt. "I'm pretty sure " Jane had to pause to catch her breath. "I'm pretty sure I just said some things to you I've never said to another soul."
Maura's smile widened and she appeared rather pleased with herself. "You were rather specific about what you wanted." The doctor's eyes crinkled at the corners. "It was very stimulating."
Jane snorted only to moan helplessly as Maura slowly withdrew. She shivered at the loss of contact.
"Of course, there were things you asked for that I still haven't done yet."
Jane searched Maura's face, seeing clear, seductive intent in her eyes. Jane swallowed, her body already responding with interest. Her body, however, would just have to wait.
Her energy slowly returning, Jane reached up and let her hand skim up Maura's thigh. They were both still fully clothed, if it a bit more disheveled than when they'd started. "Take it off."
Maura arched one eyebrow. "You want more?" she asked, and Jane didn't miss the anticipation in her voice.
"I want you."
Maura watched her for a moment before she sat up on her knees, peeling the dress over her head and tossing it aside. "You have me. The questions is what are you going to do with me, detective?"
The teasing tone was perfect, Jane decided, smoothing over any awkwardness she might have felt after what Maura had made her say and do. She let her hands drift over Maura's stomach, watching as the muscles rippled in reaction before she licked her lips. "Take everything off."
"You take it off."
Jane's gaze jerked to Maura's face and she felt a jolt of desire mingled with determination, as Maura seemed to dare her to take charge. Jane smiled with predatory intent. Maybe she had never made love to another woman before, but this was Maura. Jane knew her friend's every tell, every look, every gesture. She ignored the shaking in her limbs to grab her friend and roll her over onto the mattress. Jane sat up and quickly removed her own dress before blanketing Maura's body once more with her own.
Letting her hands and mouth explore, Jane soon had the prim and proper Maura Isles begging for things that would make a sailor blush. Jane gave her everything she wanted, no fear or uncertainty slowing down her deliberate touches. Watching her best friend come undone, feeling Maura move against her and swallowing her cries with a kiss was the most sensual thing Jane had ever experienced. This night would be the first of many, she realized, and they would only get better from here.
Jane looked up from her coffee and smiled as Maura leaned against the wall and eyed her carefully. "Morning."
"When I woke up, you weren't there."
Wincing a little, Jane set her coffee down at Maura's slightly accusing tone. "Sorry. Couldn't sleep. I didn't want to wake you."
"You wouldn't have woken me, Jane."
Coming closer, Jane noticed the pout on Maura's lips and decided it was about the cutest thing she'd ever seen. "If I had continued to lay there next to you I definitely would have woken you," she promised.
Maura's pout faded slightly. "Really." It was a statement, not a question.
Jane took a deep breath and regarded Maura seriously. She'd been wondering for the past hour if things would be weird between them when they faced each other in the light of day, but she was relieved that wasn't the case. If anything, her feelings had only grown more intense after the night before, and now that Jane knew how good it was between them, she only wanted more.
A thousand different thoughts crowded onto her tongue, but she spoke the only one that really mattered. "I love you," she whispered.
Maura stared at her for a long moment. "I love you, too." She ran a hand through her hair before meeting Jane's gaze again. "You're okay with this? I mean we were going to wait "
"I think we've waited long enough, don't you?"
"This is going to work, right?"
The hope in Maura's eyes and voice made Jane's heart clench. "I think we've proven just how compatible we are," she teased.
Maura shook her head, and chuckled ruefully. "We thought we were showing everyone, didn't we?"
"I think they showed us." Jane wrapped her arms around Maura's waist and drew her closer. "And even though I hate being wrong "
Maura tucked her head under Jane's chin. "Maybe this time it's not so bad?"
"Maybe this time, being wrong is the best thing that ever happened to me."
They stayed like that for several minutes, soaking in each other's heat and nearness, savoring how good it felt to be where they belonged.
Finally, Maura tilted her head to meet Jane's gaze once more. "You know there are actually several love making techniques we have yet to try. In the interest of the experiment, perhaps we should do a little more research to make sure our conclusion is correct, of course."
Jane grinned. "Really," she drawled. "Several you say?"
"It might take the whole day." Maura's tone was overly serious.
"The whole day," Jane repeated, sounding put upon and ignoring Maura's slight poke to her ribs. "Well, in the interest of science "
"You know I like to be thorough."
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