A/N: Thanks for all the love on the last chapter, y'all! I'm so happy you liked the cipher-I'm sure most of you have seen it by now, but I've posted the deleted scene if you want to check it out. All your reviews really made my day. :)
This chapter is brought to you by that one scene in But I'm A Cheerleader where Megan is thinking of boobs while making out with her boyfriend. (Honestly, what a closeted gay girl mood.) If you have seen that movie, you will definitely know what I am talking about. If you haven't… well, go watch it! It's one of my favorite lesbian movies of all time, and that's only partially because I'm in love with Natasha Lyonne.
In theory, it should have been a perfect date. The setting was romantic: soft rays of sunset light, a slight breeze rippling through the leaves of the aspens, the gentle babble of the river in the background. The meal was wonderful, too—much as Jane complained about her Ma, she couldn't ever fault her cooking—as was the man sitting in front of her. On paper, Gabriel Dean was exactly the sort of man she should be excited to marry. He was handsome, charismatic, funny. He had a solid career. They even got along well; they had similar personalities and some common interests. But looking at him, sitting across from her on a picnic blanket, Jane's overwhelming feeling was one of unease.
"So," Dean said, looking just as uncomfortable as Jane felt, "nice weather we've been having, right?"
"It's the same as any other year," Jane replied flatly, wishing she understood why this was so damn awkward. The other night at the Dirty Robber, she'd thought for a moment that maybe there had been some sort of spark between herself and Dean—which had been a relief. It wasn't that Jane wanted to get married, although admittedly it would have been easier if she had. It was just that if Jane was capable of having feelings for Dean, that would mean she really was capable of having feelings for men. Which in turn meant that she wouldn't have to think about her feelings for Maura.
What those feelings were, exactly, Jane was not quite sure. There was absolutely no good reason for her to think about what it all might mean, so she had resolutely decided to push it from her mind. It would be too complicated—they were friends and coworkers, two people whose lives would probably always be intertwined, at least as long as Maura lived in Echo Station. Jane wasn't about to risk messing all that up for the chance for… what? It wasn't like she and Maura could have any real sort of relationship. Even if they could, it would have to be a secret one. Ma would always be disappointed that Jane remained a spinster, because that was the lie Jane would have to let her believe.
It would have been so much easier if Jane could've just fallen for Dean and been done with it.
"What do you think of the developments in the case?" Dean tried again, and Jane felt a wave of relief crash over her.
Normally, she hated talking about work over a romantic dinner like this one—most men had no respect for her as a sheriff at all—but that, at least, was different about Dean. Even though Jane knew that his jurisdiction as a federal marshal technically gave him greater authority, he truly treated her as an equal. Which was another reason Jane was so disappointed that she felt about as much sexual attraction to him as she would have to a potato. That was to say, none at all.
"I have a few suspects," she confided, feeling much more in her comfort zone. "Two of the biggest outlaw gangs have been more active recently. Hoyt and Doyle. I think it may have something to do with them."
Dean nodded. "As you know, Doyle is wanted back in Boston for a string of murders. The U.S. government is very interested in seeing him brought to justice."
"Yeah, me, too." Jane sighed. "I thought it was Hoyt's gang behind these murders, but he's in lock-up, and the ice pick is Doyle's M.O. We need to find him."
When Dean didn't immediately respond, Jane looked up to find him gazing at her with something undefinable in his eyes. He certainly made a striking figure in the golden light of the setting sun—strong jawline, brooding eyebrows, dusty hair flopping down over his forehead—but it didn't have the effect on Jane that she wished it would.
"You're very good at your job, Jane," he said, the use of her first name causing something uncomfortable to twinge through her.
"Thank you," she heard herself say, almost numbly.
And then Dean's hand was on her jawline, drawing her in closer until their lips met. It wasn't unpleasant—Dean kept it very chaste, which Jane appreciated—but Jane found herself feeling absolutely bored with the sensation. And that was the problem. Instead of feeling happy or excited or even disgusted, she felt nothing.
As Dean's mouth slid over her own, Jane found her mind wandering to how it would feel to kiss a very different pair of lips. It would be much softer, gentler, Jane thought. Jane's hand would come up to the back of Maura's neck, tangling in her hair there to pull the doctor in closer as she opened her mouth to Maura's. She tried to imagine how it would taste, kissing Maura. Sweet, probably, maybe—
O-kaaaay. This needed to stop now. She should be focusing on the man in front of her—he should be the one giving her butterflies in her stomach and making her feel awkward and bashful and beautiful all at the same time. Maura was her friend. Fantasizing about kissing her was definitely off-limits.
Pulling back from Dean, she couldn't help the disappointment that welled up inside of her. He was still looking at her with that sappy gaze, and she felt a knot twisting in her chest as she looked back, giving him a strained smile.
"I need to go."
"What?" he asked, obviously confused, but she just shook her head.
"It's not you, you're great," she said hurriedly, backing away, "I'm just not… I'm not ready for this. Okay?"
"Wait! Jane, wait. Let's just talk about this," he pleaded, but she was already gone.
Jane's feet walked her home on autopilot, but once she reached her front door, she found she didn't want to be alone. For a moment, she considered going to the Dirty Robber to talk to her mother, but she quickly dismissed that idea. Ma would want to know every damn detail of her dinner with Marshal Dean, and that hadn't exactly gone to plan. She was sure to be disappointed in Jane's inability to keep any man's interest for more than a date or two. No, Jane wanted to be with someone she could be herself around, without having to worry about any judgement.
Which was how she wound up standing on Maura's doorstep, deliberating whether or not to knock.
Things had been… weird between her and Maura lately. Jane wasn't sure what had caused the weirdness, but ever since their trip to Madame Lola's the previous week, something just hadn't been right. To be fair, they hadn't seen much of each other since then. Jane had been busy working with Dean on the case, and Maura had assured her that she had plenty of (living) patients to attend to around town. Since there had been no more bodies, there hadn't been any autopsies for Maura to perform. That was undoubtedly a good thing, but it also meant that Jane had missed seeing that perfectly coiffed hair and ridiculously fashionable clothing around the sheriff's station. She had even found herself missing Maura's constant encyclopedia mouth, which was really saying something.
And then there had been that night at the Dirty Robber. Jane knew there was something Maura hadn't told her, but for the life of her, she couldn't figure out what it was. It was so frustrating. Jane prided herself on her exceptional detective skills, and Maura couldn't even tell a lie, for god's sake. And yet here they were more than a week later, and Jane still couldn't make even a reasonable guess as to what Maura was hiding. How on earth was it that she hadn't managed to pry the secret out of her yet?
Well, maybe tonight would be an opportunity to fix the weirdness and find out a little more about Maura's secret. It wasn't like she had anything better to do other than go home, drink a glass of whiskey, and wallow in the misery of knowing she was probably going to die alone. With a resigned sigh, Jane lifted her fist and rapped three times on the front door.
"Jane?" Maura opened the door, looking surprised to see her. "I thought you were having dinner with Marshal Dean tonight."
Jane frowned. "How did you know?"
"Oh, your mother—"
"Of course she told you," Jane muttered. "Ma never could keep her mouth shut."
"I'm sure she's just trying to do what's best for you," Maura said, diplomatic as ever. That was one thing Jane couldn't understand about Maura—the woman had seemingly endless patience. Nothing ever really seemed to get under her skin, not even Jane's sarcastic quips. (Contrary to popular belief, Jane did know her constant sarcasm could be annoying. She just didn't care.)
"What Ma thinks is best and what's really best are two different things," she said. "Can I come in?"
"Oh! How rude of me. Of course you may." Maura stepped to the side, and Jane moved past her into the house. "I've already eaten dinner, but I can make you something if you'd like."
"That's okay," Jane said, even though she hadn't really eaten much at her 'dinner' with Marshal Dean. "Do you have anything to drink?"
"I have wine."
"Really?" All the local saloons had wine, but it was rare for anyone to keep it at home. Unless they made it themselves, of course.
Maura nodded. "I brought a few bottles with me."
"Alright," Jane agreed. "I'll drink anything you're having."
Wine was not Jane's drink of choice, but anything was better than nothing. She wasn't about to go to the Dirty Robber to order something more to her tastes. No amount of beer would be worth her Ma's incessant questioning. And if Ma found out she'd been to any other saloon in town to get her fix, well, Jane would be in for a world of trouble. Ever since Korsak had bought the establishment, the Rizzolis drank at the Dirty Robber or not at all; it was family loyalty, Angela said.
Jane took a seat in one of Maura's wooden chairs, watching as the doctor pulled a bottle of wine out of a cabinet, pouring them both glasses. She pulled a chair out next to Jane, handing the sheriff a glass, which she took with a grateful nod.
"How the hell did you fit all this stuff in your trunk?" Jane wondered aloud, swishing the wine around in her glass. It was a dark shade of crimson—the color of blood, Jane thought, although that was probably a morbid thought to be having what with everything going on these days.
"I am a very efficient packer."
Jane snorted. "Yeah, or a witch of some kind. No way any normal human could fit all your stuff in a single trunk."
"What? No, I simply make use of the optimal packing techniques. For example—"
"Okay, okay, I don't need the full lecture." Jane shifted uncomfortably, clearing her throat and running a hand through her hair. "I believe you."
They sat in an awkward silence for a few moments, both of them just looking at one another without speaking. It was a weird feeling—Jane didn't think she'd ever felt so lost for words around Maura before. Talking to her had always been effortless, even on that very first night back in Aurora. Now, though, Jane didn't have a clue how to fix whatever had been broken between them.
Jesus Christ. This was almost as bad as the dinner with Dean.
It was Maura who finally broke the silence. "So, Jane… why are you here instead of with Marshal Dean?"
Jane almost spat out the large gulp of wine she'd taken. Trust Maura to be direct. Thank god Jane wasn't cursed with the doctor's inability to lie—she didn't think she could survive this conversation otherwise.
"No reason! I just, uh. I finished dinner with Dean."
What on earth was she doing at Maura's? This had been a bad idea. If she told Maura about Dean, then she'd have to tell her why she'd walked out on the dinner, which was that she had been thinking about Maura when she'd been kissing Dean. And that was something Jane should definitely not tell Maura.
"Isn't it rather early for you to be done with dinner?"
"I eat fast!" Jane said defensively.
"While that is undoubtedly true," Maura said, and Jane couldn't help but feel that she was poking fun at Jane's tendency to wolf down food, "I very much doubt that's why you're here. What happened?"
It was strange, wasn't it, how well Maura was able to read her. Jane was proud of the fact that she was so tough—no matter what happened, she'd never let anyone see her struggle. Honestly, it was a necessary skill for her to have as a female sheriff. There was a burden on her to be everything a man could be and more, and that meant being strong at any cost. Even Ma couldn't always tell when Jane was hurting. And yet here was Maura, a woman she'd known less than a month, looking her in the eyes and asking her what was wrong as though reading Jane's feelings were the easiest thing in the world.
The trouble, though, was that Jane couldn't exactly say what was bothering her without the risk of upsetting Maura. She didn't particularly feel like scaring off a second person in one night, either, which meant that her feelings for Maura—whatever those were—had to stay under wraps for the time being.
Jane suddenly had a brilliant idea. "I'll tell you if you tell me."
"Tell you what?" Maura had a quizzical look on her face.
"C'mon, Maur, you know what."
"No, in fact, I do not."
Jane rolled her eyes. "Whatever it was you wouldn't tell me at the Dirty Robber last week."
"Oh," Maura said, tone clipped. "I can't tell you that."
"Then I guess I can't tell you why I cut my dinner with Marshal Dean short."
Jane stared at Maura for a moment, willing her to back down, but the doctor didn't even blink. In fact, she shifted in her chair, crossing her arms over her chest in what could only be called a power stance. It was almost humorous to Jane—she was far stronger physically, so Maura wasn't exactly intimidating—but it got the point across. Whatever secret Maura had was one she intended to keep. Jane blew a frustrated puff of air out of her nose. Yet another stalemate. It seemed like her entire life was just one giant dead end lately.
"I really would tell you if I could, Jane." Maura spoke quietly. "It's for the best that you don't know about this."
Jane laughed bitterly. "Sure."
Maura was silent for a moment, studying her. Jane looked right back at her, intending for her stare to show that she wasn't backing down, but her eyes kept drifting to Maura's mouth. Goddamnit. A blush rushed to Jane's cheeks before she could prevent the less-than-platonic thoughts she'd been having about those lips earlier from springing back to her mind.
Jane cleared her throat. "Right, well. I should probably go."
"Probably." Maura made no move to get up, and neither did Jane. "You haven't finished your wine."
Truth be told, Jane had forgotten entirely about the glass she still held tightly in her left hand, a little bit of red liquid pooling at the bottom. Maura was probably only making an observation; that was just what she did, wasn't it? It wasn't like she was making an excuse for Jane to stay longer. Was she? No, definitely not. Why would she even want Jane to stay? Everything still felt so off between the two of them.
"Uh," Jane said, feeling stupid as she realized she hadn't responded for an embarrassingly long amount of time, "yeah, you're right. I can, uh, stay and finish this. I guess. If that's alright."
"Would you like to spend the night?" The way Maura said it was very matter of fact, but it still sucked all the air out of Jane's lungs.
"That's really not—I mean, my house is next door… just from a logical standpoint…"
"A logical standpoint?" Maura smiled softly. "That's my line, Jane."
"Yeah, well, I thought you'd appreciate the attempt at logical reasoning," Jane mumbled, feeling flustered and ineloquent as heat rushed to her cheeks.
"I do, but that's not why I asked you to stay. You're right, from a logical standpoint, we each have our own homes." Maura set her drained wine glass down on the table. "I just thought perhaps you'd like company tonight."
"Company?" What the hell was that supposed to mean?
"Yes, company." When Jane didn't respond, Maura's voice took on that tone that Jane recognized as her encyclopedia voice as she recited, "An assemblage of persons for entertainment or festivity. That's Webster's Dictionary, by the way."
"Thanks, Maura, I do know the meaning of the word company." Although really she hadn't. The dictionary definition cleared things up—Maura had not meant anything improper, and Jane really, really needed to get her mind out of the gutter.
"So would you like to stay, then?"
Her brain said no, this was a terrible idea, but that wasn't what came out of her mouth.
"Uh, sure. Yeah. Sounds good." Great, Rizzoli, say the same thing three times. That'll make you sound real smart.
"Great!" Maura looked like a kid in a candy store, her eyes lighting up almost comically.
"Jeez, calm down," Jane said, trying to be nonchalant even with her heartbeat rushing in her ears. "Anyone would think you'd never had a friend spend the night at your place before."
Maura blushed, looking a bit crestfallen. "I apologize if my reaction seemed excessive."
"What? No, you don't have to be sorry, I'm just teasing." Jane cringed. She really couldn't stop putting her foot in it tonight, could she? Maura just took everything so damn literally, and Jane was such a naturally sarcastic person. Usually that wasn't a problem, but tonight… well, lately everything had been going wrong.
Jane took a deep breath in. If she was gonna be staying over tonight, she may as well use the time to have an honest conversation with Maura. Not completely honest, for obvious reasons, but maybe they could clear the air a little. For some reason, this friendship she had with Maura was worth the pain of initiating an actual serious conversation. Although if Jane was honest, it already felt about as unpleasant as that time when she was eleven and she'd fallen off her horse and wound up with a giant bump on her head. (Maura would probably have a fancy scientific term for that injury, but in the Rizzoli house, it was what they called a "goose egg.") Anyway, the point was, honesty was already an unpleasant experience. And she hadn't even really opened her mouth yet.
"Look, Maur. I know things have been weird with us lately, and I just wanna say I'm sorry for whatever it is." She paused. "But, uh, if you could tell me what's bothering you, that would be really helpful."
Maura blinked, almost as if surprised by Jane's honesty. (Frankly, Jane was surprised at herself.) "Well, that's very kind of you to say, but it's not about you."
Maura flushed, hands creeping up to her neckline, where the hives were already beginning to appear. They looked uncomfortable, and Jane felt a pang of guilt knowing she'd caused them. It wasn't like she'd forced Maura to lie, but she may as well have.
"Fine." Maura sighed. "But before I tell you, you should know that it's entirely irrational and rather embarrassing."
Jane didn't really know how to respond. "…okay?"
"Okay," Maura said, taking a deep breath. "I may have been a bit jealous of you and Marshal Dean."
"Me and Dean, really?" Jane couldn't help but laugh, half-giddy with something that felt like relief. Did Maura mean jealousy in a friend sense, or…? The next words slipped out before she could think better. "God, our date tonight was a disaster!"
"It's just that you've been spending so much time with him recently, and I thought you might have…"
"Might have what?"
"Might have found someone you liked better than me," Maura said candidly, and Jane could see the color rise to her cheeks as she met Jane's eyes.
Jane scoffed, letting herself say the words before she could second guess them. "You and him are nothing alike. He couldn't ever replace you."
"Well, that is reassuring to hear."
Maura's tentative smile just about made Jane's heart melt. Reaching over, Jane gave the doctor's hand a slight squeeze.
"Come on, it's late. We should probably get some rest before tomorrow."
Now Jane just had to find a way to make it through a night of sharing the bed with one Maura Isles without combusting, and all this would be a-okay.
It was not a-okay.
Everything had gone just fine until it was actually time to get into bed, and Jane had laid there, stiff as a board and expecting to wait until Maura had fallen asleep to doze off herself, and then Maura just… hadn't. In fact, she'd rolled over on her side to face Jane, and now the two of them found their faces just inches apart. Maura was so close that Jane could feel the gentle puffs of her breathing. The only small mercy was that the room was relatively dark—only a small slant of moonlight filtered in through a gap in the curtains—so the awkwardness of Jane staring into Maura's eyes at such close proximity was somewhat lessened.
Jane knew they'd shared a bed before, back in Aurora, but somehow this time was very different. For one thing, Jane hadn't even thought of kissing Maura back then, let alone permitted herself to have embarrassingly detailed fantasies about what such an action might feel like. Now, though, she couldn't help but replay those scenes in her mind; the more she tried to stop thinking about kissing Maura, the more she inevitably imagined it. They were lying so close together. It would be so easy to just lean in and—
"What are you thinking about?"
Jane just about jumped out of her skin at the quiet sound of Maura's voice in the darkness.
Once again, she thanked god for her ability to lie. "Nothing important." She tried to steady her breathing. "What're you thinking about?"
"You," came the response.
Jane's mouth felt suddenly dry. "Me?"
"Yes, you." Even in the dim light, Jane could see the curve of a smile across Maura's lips.
"What about me?"
"Just that I'm happy you're here."
At least she didn't have to lie about this one. "Me, too," Jane admitted. There was something intensely comforting about lying there with Maura. It felt safe, not because Maura was the sort of person who could protect her—besides, Jane didn't see herself as someone who needed protecting—but because it somehow made Jane feel both vulnerable and secure at the same time.
Maura reached out to brush a strand of hair back behind Jane's ear, and for a moment, Jane's breath caught in her throat as the doctor leaned in closer. She felt herself leaning in, too, until their foreheads were resting against each other. They were too close to really look into each other's eyes now, so Jane closed hers, half expecting to feel the press of Maura's lips against her own. But the doctor didn't move, just breathed out with a long sigh. Her hand sought out Jane's underneath the blankets, intertwining their fingers together.
"Thank you, Jane."
Jane smiled, eyes popping open as she pulled back so she could make eye contact again. "What are you thanking me for?"
"For welcoming me into your town and your family without hesitation. For staying tonight." Maura shrugged. "For being you."
"I… you're welcome, I guess?"
Maura just gave a sleepy hum, her eyes fluttering closed as she pulled Jane in closer until they were practically pressed against each other. Jane couldn't lie, it was a little distracting feeling Maura's body against hers like that, but mostly it just felt peaceful. She wasn't really sure what Maura wanted—was this just a friend thing to her? Jane didn't think so, but then again, some girls were just really affectionate with their friends—but it was clear that she didn't mind Jane holding her, at least for tonight. If this was the only opportunity Jane got to be close to Maura in this way, she wouldn't pass it up.
It wasn't until just before Jane drifted off to sleep that she realized they were still holding hands, fingers intertwined beneath the covers.
A/N: Yes, this chapter really should've been subtitled "lesbian longing" because that's the mood for our two ladies today. Thanks for reading!