Thanksgiving 2017—

It's been over a year since Jane has stepped foot on Boston soil. She pulls into Maura's driveway, parking behind her mother's Toyota. She kills the engine, and takes a few beats to collect herself before she exits the vehicle. Nothing has been the same in her life since leaving Boston. She flips down her visor, and flops open the mirror. She scrutinizes her reflection in the mirror. Quickly it is confirmed that her concealer has successfully obscured her dark circles. While she knows that no amount of makeup can hide what lies beneath the surface she reaches for her lipstick without another thought. She silently curses herself, and her choices as she returns the visor into the upright position.

She pushes open her car door. A thin layer of well packed snow crunches beneath her boots as she scurries up the driveway. When she reaches the walkway it is pristinely cleared. She wonders for a moment, what fresh Hell might await her inside. It only takes a moment for a voice inside of her to remind her that she is here for her best friend, not all of the drama that follows her wherever she might go. The people eagerly awaiting her arrival inside, know nothing of her heavy baggage. She intends to keep it that way. Her gloved hand reaches forward, and a finger comes in contact with a door bell.

Inside, Angela's smile grows. She practically floats to the front door. She grips the door knob, and pulls it open without hesitation. On the other side she finds a familiar face, with somewhat unfamiliar trappings. She stares at her daughter, in utter silence. Jane's wavy dark locks are much shorter than she recalls. Her hair ends abruptly just below her jawline. Her eyes are heavily lined, and she wears a thick layer of a subtle color of lipstick. She wears a navy pea coat, with a lovely gray scarf secured underneath. She wears grey tights, and navy ankle boots with a heel. The look is pulled together with a grey pencil skirt.

"It's freezing out here, ma," Jane's brash tone brings Angela back to reality.

"I'm sorry. I am just so happy to see you. Come in," she waves.

Jane enters, and closes the door behind her. She hastily removes her coat, and scarf. Angela happily secures them on the coat rack to their left. Jane's ensemble is completed by a navy blouse that is tucked in at the waist.

"You're here early," Angela points out.

"I thought that I try to beat the crowd," Jane admits.

"You are staying for dinner, aren't you?" Angela's voice cracks, revealing a twinge of pain.

"As long as I don't get any emergency calls."

"Janie, we haven't seen you in so long. We were really hoping that you would stick around for a few days."

"I can't make any promises, ma. Where is Maura?"

"She's in the living room. I'm going to go check on the turkey."

Angela makes a beeline for the kitchen as Jane pads into the living room. She finds that Maura's living room is in a state of chaos. There is a random assortment of items on her coffee table. She finds her best friend tucked under an afghan, fast asleep. Jane stops at the end of the couch, hesitating for a moment. Maura appears to be in a state of disarray, as well. Her typically well-manicured hair is haphazardly secured into a top-knot. She wears a plain gray v-neck t-shirt. As Jane moves closer she notices a stain on her right shoulder. Jane gently nudges her former colleague.

As Maura's eyes flutter open Jane realizes that she isn't wearing a trace of make-up. Maura blinks, trying to make sense of her surroundings. The acutely sleep-deprived medical examiner takes several more seconds to understand the picture in front of her, than should be necessary. Jane takes a seat on the edge of the coffee table. Maura shifts into a sitting position, and pushes the afghan off her lap. Jane remains silent as the lack of blanket on her lap reveals Maura wearing a pair of sweat pants.

"I'm so glad you came," Maura smiles.

Jane leans forward, and finds herself in the first genuine embrace she's had in months.

"Please don't stay away so long next time."

"I won't," Jane responds half-heartedly.

"I'm sorry that I look like such a wreck. I thought that I had more time. I must have miscalculated."

"I am here early," Jane apologizes.

"I would like to say that I would look better if you weren't early, but I find that statement associated with a high probability of hives."

"I see that you're embracing all of this."

"I believe that it is simply a survival mechanism. If not for your mother I certainly would have drowned in the bathtub by now, or something of the like."

"It's so quiet," Jane responds, surprised.

Maura glances at the clock on the wall.

"We have seventeen minutes before that all changes."

Jane scowls, "You have it down to the minute?"

"I wish that I didn't. Enough about me, let's talk about you. I love your hair."

"Thanks."

"I was surprised that you called yesterday."

"I missed all of you," she reveals candidly.

"It's just been so long. I haven't heard from you in… six months?"

"I apologize."

"No need. You are here now. You seem so… different."

"You have no idea," Jane thinks to herself.

"How long are you planning on staying?" Maura queries, interrupting Jane before she can spiral into a negative thought pattern.

"I'm not really sure."

Maura stares into a pair of chocolate brown pools. For a moment she thinks she sees something very heavy, and dark. Without a second thought she reaches forward, and embraces Jane once again. Jane is caught off guard, but it is the only sense of genuine compassion that she has been dealt in months. She chooses not to recoil, but melt into Maura's embrace.