hi! i'm ryan! this is my first ever story on here, but i'll definitely be posting more. i have an ao3 profile (with the same name) with all of my previous fics if you guys wanna check me out there :) i know the rizzoli and isles fandom is kinda dead lol but i recently finished the show and i really enjoyed writing this! you can reach me on twitter /annasrae for questions or anything. enjoy!
Over the past few months, Maura has become an incredibly light sleeper. It's taken a heightened level of discipline, not painstakingly so, but certainly an adjustment. Not to mention the requirement of changing her habits as inconspicuous as possible in an effort to keep Jane from noticing. Dating a detective means constantly being under surveillance. Not that Maura minds; she knows it's only Jane's nature, and it often results in little things—such as no longer needing to make a grocery list (of course she does regardless) and waking up to coffee exactly how she likes it—that make her smile. In this situation though, Jane's observational skills present themselves as obstacles. Maura knows that Jane catching wind of her efforts to remain in the beginning stages of sleep for as long as possible will come with questions she'll refuse to provide answers to. So, she makes her nightly coffee when Jane is in the bathroom, provides lies of omission when questioned about her recurring late night research sessions, and justifies the small Himalayan salt lamp she bought for her side of the bed with its air purifying qualities. After six months of sleeping with her, in every sense of the phrase, and several years by her side, Maura is well aware of how rough Jane's nightmares can get.
So as she lies on Jane's chest in their dimly lit room, their legs tangled together underneath the covers, her eyes open immediately when the rhythmic thumping in her ears increases in speed. Maura doesn't move yet, unsure of if this one will pass quickly as they occasionally do. She rubs her thumb over the tan skin on Jane's stomach where her hand has been since they first drifted off. But her heart continues it's rapid pace, and not long after Jane's nails are digging into Maura's side, leaving crescent moons in their wake. Maura winces slightly, fairly used to this specific pressure. She decides to try and wake her, not wanting things to get any worse.
"Jane?" she whispers, still unmoving.
There is only heavy breathing in response.
She begins to sit up so she can more effectively bring her girlfriend to full consciousness. But Jane grips her waist tight in her sleep, clearly growing in discomfort.
"Jane, please," Maura repeats.
"Stop." Jane's voice is quiet and pained.
Maura's heart aches with the knowledge that Jane can likely do nothing to affect the outcome of her dream.
"Leave-" Jane continues to speak, "Leave her alone."
Maura sighs, believing she's surmised the circumstance of the nightmare. Their most recent case had been a difficult one. It would weigh on anyone's heart, and Jane's is bigger than most. Whether she lets on or not, every murder, every assault, every victim affects her in a way Maura can never fully understand. A teenage girl found dead in her own bedroom was obviously no exception, and although the perpetrator was caught before claiming the life of his next victim, her trauma of being abducted was irreversible. Korsak informed Maura of the sight they walked in on: a girl no older than sixteen huddled in a corner with nothing but fear in her eyes. It's things like that that stick with you and play on repeat when you close your eyes.
Maura struggles but breaks free of the hold and sits up completely, taking in Jane's furrowed eyebrows and deep frown as she mutters quietly and fists her hands.
"Jane, you have to wake up now," she says louder, harsher.
"Let her go!" Jane replies, matching her volume.
Despite knowing the clinically healthier option is to allow Jane to sleep through the nightmare and forget about it in the morning, Maura cannot bear to see her this pained. She shakes the brunette's shoulder roughly, even moreso than she'd intended to with the anxiety of watching Jane struggle in her system, and shouts her name once more. Finally, brown eyes snap open.
And for a short second, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, there is no recognition behind them. Jane's eyes are wild and scared and even the face of the woman she loves doesn't bring her back to earth. But then it passes, and Maura calms slightly as she sees her eyes begin to soften.
"Jane, darling, I'm here." Maura's voice is soft, gentle. The last thing she wants is to scare her more. She's looking down at Jane, and her usually towering girlfriend has never been so small.
Clearly sensing this, Jane sits up slowly, leaning on their headboard. She brings her hands to her face and covers it entirely. Maura watches as her fingers tremble.
"Hey." She gingerly moves Jane's hands away, replacing them with her own and cradling her cheeks. "It's me."
Things seem to finally click then. Jane blinks and searches for the eyes to match the smell she'd always found comfort in.
Immediately, she's filled with embarrassment. Reality is separating itself from dreams now, and she sees that she's safe. She is in her favorite room with her favorite person, and no one is hurting her. The case is over. The criminal arrested. Her girlfriend safe. Now she has to deal with, once again, awaking Maura in the night. It's far from the first time, and unfortunately will likely not be the last. Jane feels guilty. Maura needs rest, and she has no right to take that from her. It isn't fair to her. None of this is.
Her thoughts are interrupted by the stroking of small thumbs on her flushed cheeks. The room, however illuminated by the miniature lamp Maura had bought for some reason, remains disappointingly dark.
"I can't see you." There's a million things on her mind, but that's what makes it out of her mouth.
Maura understands this, understands her. And before she can blink again there is a weight in her lap. She is face to face with the woman she calls home, and despite the anchor of her plentiful emotions, Jane finds herself holding back a smile.
"Is this okay?" Maura asks, hoping her decision to straddle Jane hadn't been too much for her mental state.
"Mm," is all Jane can respond with. She can make out faded hazel eyes, perfectly high cheekbones, and an auburn messy bun. Somehow, Maura still looks perfect. And the thought of it makes her want to sob.
Instead, she nestles herself in Maura's shoulder, inadvertently pulling her closer so their chests touch. Maura crosses her legs behind Jane's back, aiding in their closeness. By instinct Jane inhales deeply, willing herself to find comfort in the familiar scent. Acting on instinct as well, Maura finds her hands in Jane's scalp, making small circles where her head lies.
They sit like that for a while. Even when Maura's back begins to ache from her unmoving perfect posture and lack of lumbar support, she doesn't budge. If this is what Jane needs, she is happy to provide it. Eventually, the calm silence is broken.
"I'm sorry," Jane whispers, her tone laced with fear once again.
Maura furrows her eyebrows.
"This. All of it. The nightmares. The case. Me."
"It's my job, Jane." Maura says without hesitation.
"A medical examiner shouldn't have to bring closed cases home." She lifts her head and meets the shorter girl's eyes once more.
"I don't just mean my literal profession. It's my job to take care of you, in whatever form it comes." She intends for the words to be comforting, but they do not seem to have that effect.
"I don't want to be an obligation." Jane's reply lacks the sharpness she'd expected, but the words weigh the same.
"You're not an obligation. Nor have you ever been. My title as a Doctor is incredibly important to me, and so is my title as your girlfriend. I take them both very seriously. That's all I meant."
Jane squints. Whether it's because of the low lighting or an attempt to decipher how much of Maura's words are the truth, she'll never know.
"Honey, I adore you."
Jane sucks in the air between them. Neither of them are big on pet names, excluding the occasional "babe". So hearing Maura use one in such an endearing tone sets her back more than she cares to admit. Her favorite part of their dynamic is how well they know each other, and that's never been more evident than in this moment. Maura knows how uncomfortable vulnerability makes her. She knows Jane would rather die than willingly express her feelings. She knows waking both of them up in the middle of the night makes Jane want to run away and never come back. So, Maura compensates for that fear with kind, genuine words. It's as much as she can do without crossing the line into a full blown therapy session.
"You're perfect," Jane huffs out. She clasps her hands behind Maura's back.
"I most certainly am not. How are you feeling?" she asks, easily deflecting the compliment.
Jane takes a moment before responding. At the very least Maura deserves an honest answer. With delicate hands on her face and a gaze so loving she never thought she'd be on either end of it, she feels at peace when she says,
Maura squints this time, and softly grabs Jane's left hand, turning it upward and holding it in her right. Jane knows what's happening and tries to even her breathing immediately.
"Your pulse is slower." Maura admits.
"That's because I'm okay."
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asks in the most neutral tone she can muster.
Jane doesn't answer. She does run her hands along where Maura's thighs overlap hers. Breaking eye contact, she looks down at the pants Maura is wearing, not recognizing the feel of the fabric.
"You're wearing sweats?" Jane questions. Ever since she'd started staying the night, Maura had retired her usual routine of sleeping in the nude. Unless of course, their previous nightly activities called for it. Jane complained about this in the beginning, but after realizing it was simply a level of comfort they would work towards, she dropped the subject. Even so Maura almost always slept in airy, silk pajamas or lacy nightgowns, a choice she certainly didn't protest. She didn't even know Maura owned sweatpants.
Maura's thoughts go into overdrive. Her wording had to be as careful as possible here to avoid exposing herself.
"So I can be warmer at night."
"Were you cold before?" Jane can't remember the last time they didn't fall asleep curled up in each other with a thick comforter on top of them. Sweats couldn't possibly be comfortable for her.
"Did you dream about the case?" she asks in an attempt to change the subject.
Jane removes her hands from her girlfriend and crosses her arms.
"Yes, I did. But you already know that so why are you pushing me?" This time there's a bite to her words.
Maura opens her mouth to respond and closes it when she realizes she doesn't really have an answer. She hadn't meant to force anything out of Jane, perhaps it was simply an aversion so she wouldn't figure out Maura's efforts to sleep lighter. Or maybe this time felt different. But feelings are hardly a solid basis for excusal.
"I don't know."
"Well have fun figuring it out. I'm sleeping on the couch." Jane sounds cold, and Maura knows she's losing her. These moments are extremely sensitive. All it takes is one word, one inflection, one sigh, and Jane can shut down all over again. Over time, she'd certainly improved greatly with letting Maura in. But it is still a process.
She wonders momentarily why Jane would choose the couch over the guest bedroom in their home if the goal is to simply get away from her. They've officially lived together for a little over three months, but nights in the same bed began long before then. Jane knows the house well enough to know the couch is not a necessary option.
"What? Why? I don't want you to leave."
"Get off of me." Jane gestures to where Maura sits on her lap, practically pinning the brunette to the mattress.
"Stop asking questions."
"Start answering them," Maura retorts.
"You know what…" The annoyance is obvious in her tone. Jane scoffs and lifts Maura off of her legs in a swift movement. Maura sits on the bed in slight shock at not only being moved with ease but that Jane is actually upset enough to do such a thing. If Jane notices her expression she doesn't show it because within seconds she has a foot out of the bedroom doorway.
"Have I done something wrong?" The question is so genuine, so concerned, that Jane can't help but stop in her tracks. She sighs before running her hands over her face. A few minutes pass before she responds.
"No, Maura, you didn't do anything wrong." She leans against the doorframe. "I'm just frustrated. And annoyed. And I hate that you have to see me like this. I'm a grown woman still having nightmares; it's embarrassing."
"Well children do more commonly have nightmares. But roughly 50% of adults have them on occasion as well, not to mention-" Maura senses a change in Jane's demeanor—she'd broken their eye contact and begun picking at her nails—and she can tell her words aren't helping. So she tries a different approach.
With a sigh she quietly admits, "I've been researching and implementing ways to sleep lighter."
Jane looks up at that.
"And I'm not telling you this to cause guilt," she hurriedly continues, "Or make you feel as though you are a burden, because you're not one in the slightest. Quite the opposite actually...I just want you to know that we are in this together, Jane. That I want to be here when you feel frustrated or annoyed or overwhelmed or any other emotion too strong for you to carry alone. I'm not sure what else it will take for you to believe that."
A few moments of silence pass between them before Jane responds.
"Is that why you started drinking coffee at night?"
Maura nods hesitantly.
"And shopping online instead of sleeping?"
She furrows her brows at that one, not realizing Jane had noticed what she often browsed on her computer in lieu of the research she'd claimed to be doing.
"Is it working?" Jane asks, her tone undetectable.
"It did tonight."
"And I'm glad it did, really," Maura adds.
She watches as Jane's resolve weakens at her words. Her wonderful brown eyes grow soft again. Now still hands fall at her sides, sparing her poor cuticles. Maura resists the urge to open her arms in invitation, as she knows she's finally won Jane over. Sure enough, Jane closes the door and makes her way back to the bed.
"No more sweats," she demands before actually getting onto the mattress.
Maura rolls her eyes but figures it's a small price to pay to have Jane next to her again. She strips them off, leaving deep red panties and the olive camisole she already wore. She blinks up at Jane with anticipation. The taller woman manages a smirk and a sweep over her girlfriend's nearly naked body. Maura returns it though she knows they are both far too exhausted for anything of that nature to happen tonight.
Moments later, a head of thick curls lies on her chest and a long arm is wrapped around her waist. She manages to pull the covers back over top of them, and runs her hand up and down Jane's back slowly as they settle in. It's rare they lay like this, with her holding Jane instead of the opposite, but it's nice to be able to comfort her for once, Maura thinks.
Jane's breathing is so even after a while that Maura herself begins to drift off, hoping the girl in her arms is already asleep.
"It was you," Jane suddenly whispers into the dark.
"Hm?" Maura replies sleepily.
"In my nightmare, it was you in the corner. He'd taken you and-" She cuts herself off, unwilling to go any further.
Maura brings her hand up to Jane's scalp once more, massaging it in a way she knows would effectively soothe her girlfriend. She hadn't expected the confession, but she should have. Bad dreams where Maura was involved always take a larger toll on Jane, hence tonight's intense reaction. There isn't much she can say now to change what had occurred, or affect Jane's fear. But she tries her best.
"I'm safe. And so are you."
Jane nestles into her chest, and she grins warmly. She knows it's Jane's way of grounding herself in reality, believing Maura's words to be true.
"Thank you," Jane mumbles, clearly slipping away now that she'd gotten the weight off of her chest.
Maura dips down to kiss the top of her head.