"Remind me again why I agreed to this?" Jane grumbles, one arm folded, hand pressing against the bulky dressing padding her healing wound.
Maura drums her fingers against the steering wheel, edging her foot off the brake and letting the car roll closer to the one in front. "Because." The light switches green and she accelerates slowly, smoothly, concerned that jerky movements will be painful for someone recovering from extensive surgery. She glances over at Jane, watching her through her Prada sunglasses. "You have four days between PT appointments, and despite what you might think, you need to rest, give your body time to heal."
"Maura, it's been six weeks. All I do is rest."
"So I'm giving you a chance to rest somewhere new. A gunshot wound is a major trauma," the doctor admonishes. "You were lucky, ridiculously lucky, that the damage was so minimal."
"Aren't you going to explain the specifics?" Jane rewards her with a small smile. "You know, for the five hundredth time?"
Maura settles back in her seat when they merge onto the freeway. "You nearly died Jane."
She's absently tapping the beat of whatever's on the radio against her jeans. Jane reaches over and stills her hand, squeezing her fingers. "I know. I'm sorry I scared you."
Maura gives a small, imperceptible nod and returns both hands to wheel.
It's verging on the middle of winter and it's much too cold for the beach, but they needed to escape the city and Maura didn't want the drive to be too long for the sake of Jane's injury. The usual winter activities were ruled out too; they had talked about skiing for a weekend in Vermont before the shooting, she didn't want to call attention to the things Jane couldn't do. Thus, the beach, in winter.
Their final destination is meant to be a surprise, but Jane guesses by the time they merge onto US-6E. Her adoptive parents have a house on the cape, she must have mentioned it before. It takes just over two hours to reach the house. On the way through, she notices the usual tourist haunts, deserted. There is something eerie about it.
When they stop, she throws the car into park on the driveway and steps out into the salty air. It's cold. She smiles at Jane across the roof of the car.
"You're insane," Jane tells her, drawing her coat around her and rubbing her hands together.
"It's warmer than the city in winter," she responds. "Average temperatures are higher by about zero-point-one of a degree."
Jane rolls her eyes. "Well gee, that certainly makes a difference."
"Because of its coastal location, the climate is more moderate."
Jane pulls their bags from the car, tries to carry hers before Maura forcibly takes it from her hands. "I'll carry, you pull," she gestures to her own suitcase, a small carry-on with wheels.
Inside the house is warm. Her parents must've told the neighbours - (a loose term, considering the nearest house is a 30 minute drive away) - that they were coming.
"Which room do you want?" Maura asks, shifting her weight from one foot to the other in the hallway, waiting to deposit the duffel bag.
Jane shrugs, quiet, staring out the glass doors in the living area at the grey expanse of the ocean.
Maura decides for her, and sets about making up both beds.
Half an hour later, when she returns to the living room, Jane is still standing.
"It's... pretty here," she says.
Maura nods. "I thought you would like it."
The sun is setting behind the house, casting shadows across the floorboards. Maura lays her hand against Jane's scapula, just above the exit wound. They stand there, without speaking, until the light dims.
Jane turns, suddenly and Maura drops her hand. "I'm sorry I'm such a difficult patient."
Maura smiles. "I know you, Jane Rizzoli. I had a good idea what I as in for."
"You've been so good, through all of this. I never expected you to take care of me."
"That's what friends are for."
Privately, Jane thinks it goes a bit above and beyond the duty of a friend, but that's a confusing thought, one that revisits her often since the shooting. She doesn't say anything though, just nods. "Well, thank you."
"If you unpack the groceries and start dinner, I'll go see if there's firewood," Maura turns her face away to hide her expression.
After they eat, Maura reads her medical journals by the fire. Jane sits beside her on the couch, legs bent to her chest, and watches the flames dance, listening to the wind against the windows and the crackle of burning wood.
"I brought a novel," Maura tells her.
She shakes her head, "I'm fine."
She's lost in thought, thinking about Frankie and that day in the morgue and how Maura saved her brother's life, probably helped save her life, and has patiently coaxed her through her recovery. She has no idea how to begin to repay the debt.
They spend the time quietly, drinking tea instead of coffee, reading, playing Scrabble (Maura's idea) and poker (Jane's). It's their peaceful interlude in an otherwise turbulent year.
They drive to the Highland Lighthouse, breath rising in clouds of mist, Maura telling stories of her visits as a child. There's snow on the ground and it's freezing. It's slow and easy, filling the time. Jane never does admit it, but she's glad they came. Better than lying around her apartment channel surfing and ignoring calls from her mother to come home. (She did go home, for a week after surgery, but her mother is insistent and she'd really rather get back to her old life, like this never happened.)
Before sunset on the last night, they decide to brave the cold and walk along the seashore. Maura links her arm through hers, and together they tumble up the dunes, laughing. When they return to the house, faces flushed from the cold, Jane actually feels like herself for the first time since she woke up in the hospital.
They warm up and eat pasta by the fire, talking about nothing in particular.
As Maura does the dishes (it's useless to try to help her, she has a system, and it's much too particular for Jane's tastes), she steps outside for a moment. The night is frigid and still. The ocean is rough. Sea spray lands on her cheeks.
The door opens and closes behind her and footfalls still at her back.
"Why did you do it?" Maura asks her, wrapping her arms around her, resting her head against Jane's shoulder. "Why did you shoot him? Korsak and Frost were right there. They had a sniper team in place. Why didn't you wait?"
Jane pauses with her mouth open, considering her reply. She twists her fingers through Maura's, where they rest against her stomach. "I needed it to be over. I needed Frankie to get to the hospital, and I didn't want anyone else to get shot."
"So you shot yourself?"
"Why is it so important to you Maura?"
Jane pulls away. She doesn't want to dissect it, analyse the crap out of it and what it means. She's alive. They're all alive. That's all that matters.
"Because." Maura meets her eyes, furious. "You could have died. You nearly did. I was covered in your blood, and you were unconscious and there was the distinct possibility, medically speaking, that you would never wake up. And it seems to me that it was for no good reason."
"What do you want from me?" She almost-raises her voice. "Not everything can be clear cut and logical. I'm giving you all I've got here."
"I was afraid, Jane. I was afraid I was going to lose you." The vulnerability behind her words is evident.
It undoes something inside her, something that's been twisting itself into knots for months. Jane steps closer, tangles a hand in her hair and kisses her, mouth hot and lips cold. The reaction surprises her, not that she's really thinking enough to be surprised by this point, but Maura moans softly against her mouth and curls her fingers around Jane's hip, kisses her back. Then suddenly her back is pressed against the cold glass door and really, she should have known that Maura would kiss like this - it's exacting. Her fingers are cold though, and Jane yelps when they reach beneath her shirt. Maura pulls back, and she's about to protest, tell her it's fine when the door at her back slides aside.
They stumble inside.
For all the hurry getting there, it's slow once they reach the bedroom, slipping beneath the covers fully clothed. Maura's feet are cold against her ankles. She kicks them away playfully. "You're freezing."
Maura steals a kiss, runs her cold hands up and down her body, eliciting another complaint. "You're not making this easy," she bites her own lip.
Jane reaches out for Maura's hands, twists their fingers together, holds them between the warmth of her thighs. "Just for a second," she says.
Maura's lips twitch upwards at the edges when she catches Jane's eye.
She giggles. "I'm nervous. I'm not sure I have any idea what we're doing."
Understatement of the century. Jane releases one of her hands, reaches out to tuck her hair behind her ears. She lets her hand rest on Maura's cheek. "Neither do I."
"Well, I'm pretty sure I understand the mechanics." Maura wiggles her fingers and grins like the devil. She feels like she might be trembling. Maura raises an eyebrow. "I take it your physiological response means you're aroused by this."
Well, hell. Two can play that game.
Jane leans forward and claims her mouth, and they stumble through it together, uncertainty falling away like their clothing. It feels... new, different, but right.
Afterwards, Maura changes the dressing on her wound, just like she always does.
The next day, Maura finishes showering and dressing, but finds the house empty. They're leaving in the afternoon. She deposits her bag next to Jane's in the hall and opens the door to the porch. Jane is standing by the shoreline, inches from the waves.
When Maura reaches her, slipping in the sand as the small grains fill her shoes, Jane turns, smiles in greeting.
"What're you doing out here?" Maura asks.
"You seem to be doing a lot of that these day," she reaches out and takes Jane's hand. "I'm worried about you."
Jane shakes her head with a small smile. "Don't be, they're good thoughts."
"Oh," Maura stares at their feet.
"Maura?" Jane tugs at her hand, "You're quiet, and you've got a look on your face that's making me nervous."
"What happens now?" she asks.
"We go back home," Jane states, like it's obvious. "And we see what happens. Ok?"
Maura nods. "I'm not very good at that part," she confesses.
"Yeah well," Jane shrugs, "Neither am I."
"And I don't have any experience with women," Maura is running off the mouth, like she does when she's nervous. "Though I did a cursory literature search when you fell asleep last night. It's estimated that two-point-six percent of the American population has a sexual preference for women."
"I looked at some other websites too, in case I wasn't very proficient at ..."
"It's new for me too," she says quietly, runs her thumb along Maura's chin, "But we'll figure it out, just like we do on our cases. If that's what you want."
Maura nods, "I'd like that."
Jane angles her chin upwards with her thumb, leans down and kisses her, so much more tentatively than before, quiet and slow and full of promise.