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Comforts

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Comforts

When she drew the blinds closed one last time before getting into bed, Maura laughed softly at herself. There was no humor in it, though, only fatigue, perhaps a little bitterness. In just a few weeks' time, checking the bedroom window twice, three times had become part of her normal routine, which had evolved from simply setting the alarm and making sure the lights were off to checking each door more thoroughly. The upstairs window to her bedroom would have been hard to reach, but it was the most intimate of all the portals to the night.

The case was draining her, just as it was draining everyone involved. She had very little time to think about how she was still sleeping alone. The awkwardness with Jane had been replaced by brusque, tense exchanges made that way not by their personal difficulties but by the pressing weight of time. A killer was taunting women, and he had been taunting them. While the ME's office got its share of threats, this one had been for Maura specifically, and the one after it had made them pay more attention.

But even she had to admit that the days had left her weary and the tension brought on by fear had left her numb to some of that very fear. She was falling asleep, just as she did every night, thinking about what the next day would bring, what she had to do and what she actually could do. And she was not sure if she had actually drifted off when the sound of the alarm woke her with a start. Maura did not bother to look at the clock. She was on her feet, her phone in her hand, fingers dialing automatically as she carefully made her way to the stairs.

"Jane...I'm sorry...it's my alarm..." She clutched the phone tightly. "Can you...thank you..."

By the time Jane's car stopped outside Maura's Brookline home, the local police were already there, and Jane could see them at the door where Maura was silhouetted, a thick coat pulled tightly around her shoulders. Her footfalls crunched over the newly falling snow as she made her way to the front door, relieved to see little movement from the officers—it didn't seem that anything had been disturbed.

"Maura, are you alright? What happened?" Her eyes met Maura's, and seeing the fading fear there, the past few weeks, their turmoil seemed less important—childish really. None of the officers asked who she was…word traveled fast, especially the unspoken kind.

"Just an animal," Maura said softly as she nodded to the prints that were fading in the snow, "looking for a warm place to sleep." She hugged the coat tighter. An apology was nearly on her lips, but she couldn't bring herself to say it. Regardless of what had set her alarm off, she was still tense, still afraid. "Everything's...normal." Because everything was far from fine really, and Maura knew Jane could see it. She knew that the tension hanging in the air had nothing to do with them; at that moment, there was no one else Maura wanted there more. She didn't want to be alone, but she was too proud to say it in such company.

Jane nodded quietly, letting the rest go unsaid for the moment. "Thanks guys, I'll wrap this up." Jane motioned to the other officers, who were all too happy to return to their warm cars. A few moments later, their voices faded and tires crunched over the unplowed road. It was cold, and snowflakes were sticking to Jane's hair, but she and Maura still stood facing each other in the open doorway. Jane finally spoke again, but more quietly, "I could stay...if you want."

"Would you mind?" Maura said, perhaps all too quickly. They were alone now, and she did not have the strength to be on guard against such a suggestion. She knew it was coming from a friend, from someone who wanted to protect her. And anything beyond that...she let her mind shut itself against it. The breadth of human capabilities astounded her. She allowed herself to indulge in things that made her remember that, appreciate that. Indulging in what she had with Jane made her remember why she tried not to go so far. The capacity for the living to hurt others—intentionally or not—was also astounding. But she was stepping aside, opening the door for Jane and letting her into the entryway. She was living too, and she needed comfort.

The warm air hit Jane as she stepped inside. She let out a long breath at the sensation, then caught it again when she heard the door close behind her, and Maura pass by just inches away. She took off her coat, hanging it where she had before. Her gun hung at her hip still- she had been prepared for the worst, and wouldn't deny having slept with it close the past few weeks.

"Why don't I look through the house, just to make sure?" Already, she was moving away, methodically glancing in each room as she passed, turning on lights as she went.

Maura slipped out of her coat, hanging it beside Jane's. The feeling of familiarity when she saw them side by side almost overpowered her. Instead of following the brunette, she went to the kitchen, making herself a gin and tonic. There was beer in the fridge if Jane wanted it, but Maura was sure she wouldn't. Upon the first sip of her drink as she sat down in the living room, she didn't want it either. But the motions had steadied her. "Thank you for coming," she called as she heard Jane's footsteps approaching once again.

As Jane sat by Maura, she put her holstered weapon and badge next to each other on the coffee table. She could just see the slight unsteadiness of the blonde's fingers wrapped around the glass. They had both been on edge for weeks, and it took a toll on both of them. She ran her fingers through her hair, eyes fixing on Maura, "You don't have to thank me, Maura."

Perhaps not. She would have thanked Frost, would have thanked Korsak or any of the others, but she could not deny that she had expected Jane to come, that she knew Jane would come without complaint or expectation. But even the tension of the case didn't make the tension between them any easier. It simply forced it out of the forefronts of their minds, and now Maura felt it slowly creeping back in, tightening the muscles in her already knotted shoulders to the point of pain. "Let me get you something to drink...let me just...check the kitchen window again..."

Jane's reached out and clasped Maura's forearm, pulling her back onto the couch. She hated to see Maura so unsure—about anything. "No. No, I don't need anything. And you know all the locks have been checked and re-checked." It wasn't until then that Jane realized she was still holding Maura's arm-tighter now. "You should try and get some rest. It's the middle of the night."

"Jane, I..." Her hand was warm, and Maura could feel where smoothness gave way to the knotted cluster in the center. She did not realize how well she had come to know those hands, how she had grown so accustomed to their touch, to the anticipation merely in seeing them, seeing Jane. Despite any malaise between them, she felt her body begin to quick with that anticipation. She bit her lip as she pulled away slightly and pushed her head back. What she wanted was...it was too painful to want when Jane was so closed off to it, more closed off than Maura had initially realized. "Let me...there are clean sheets on the spare bed...just...pillows..."

"Yeah...I...okay thanks." Jane's stomach sank just a little, but she pushed the thought away. What had she expected anyway? She was the one who'd stopped whatever had been happening in the first place. She watched Maura finally get up and make for the stairs, and suddenly her mind flashed to weeks earlier—grabbing for Marisa, blindly making for the bedroom. Jane cringed and let out a quick breath as she stood. Out of habit, she picked up her things from the table and followed.

Wordlessly, Maura went to the linen closet and took out pillowcases, pausing to kneel next to Bass, touching his shell thoughtfully before getting up again. She traced the familiar steps to the entirely unused room, trying to force her churning thoughts into submission with each one. Pulling the cool cases over plump pillows--a familiar enough gesture--did nothing to relax her. And when she was done, there was the bed between she and Jane—the irony was not lost on her.

"Well, thank you for coming," she said again, finishing softly without taking her eyes off of Jane. It was ridiculous to repeat, but she did not trust herself to say anything more.

Jane tried to keep her breath steady, but she was clenching and unclenching her fists by her sides. The curtains on the window behind Maura were open, and the blonde 's form was backed by the view clouded with falling snow. The storm was far from over, and the flakes were downy- slowly drifting, filling the air as they coated the house. Her voice seemed soft and low even in her own ears. "I'm sorry." Jane didn't quite realize she'd said it—it was the first thing she could manage to keep Maura from leaving her alone.

"No, it's..." Maura responded immediately, her eyes wide as she shook her head. "That's...it's how you feel, and you shouldn't have to apologize for that." The words were automatic, almost hollow, and the apology didn't make the sting go away. "It was too much."

Silently, Jane thought of the last weeks, sleepless nights that had nothing to do with cases, going through more cheap beer than she wanted to admit, and let out a long breath. "Maybe, Maura—maybe it was that night. But this.." Jane gestured vaguely between them, "I don't think this is enough."

To stop herself from answering immediately, from simply going to Jane and letting herself give up rational thought, Maura licked her lips. She ran her fingertips over one of the pillows, smoothing an imaginary wrinkle. "It's been a long night...a long few weeks." The sounds of slippers moving across the floor as she turned to the door seemed unnaturally loud. She was tired; for the first time that night she realized that the tension in her back and shoulders was pulsing pain. "Good night, Jane," she said quietly, forcing herself to glance back for a moment, but only just that.

The door was closed behind Maura before Jane could respond. She wasn't prepared for the sense of loss, and bit her lip against it as she shed her clothes and crawled into the bed.

*****

It might have just been the swirling wind, but Maura found herself wide awake and near panic. The house silent, though, and she convinced herself that if the alarm had not gone off, she was still safe. Then, she remembered Jane sleeping just down the hall. A hollow feeling consumed her when she looked at the empty side of her bed. She was tired. She was afraid. And soon, she was moving down the hallways on bare feet to slip into bed with the brunette. There was something almost intoxicating about her warmth, about the way she moved immediately to take Maura into her arms. And without letting herself give a thought to how much it would hurt to slip away again in the morning, Maura fell back asleep.

*****

Jane stirred as the first rays of sunlight drifted through the windowpane. She was just on the edge of consciousness, breathing a too familiar scent, her body relaxed and draped comfortably around Maura's sleeping form. Slowly, painfully, her mind pulled together, and she tensed. Her lips were still pressed lightly against Maura's hair, hovering just over her bare shoulder. Jane's mind was racing now—becoming fully aware. Had something happened? What was going on? Still, she was loath to pull away from the other body—the one that fit so perfectly against hers. The night before, all she had wanted was to make Maura stay like this, and now that it had happened, Jane had no idea what to make of it. Maura stirred quietly, and Jane couldn't hold herself in suspense any longer.

"Maura?" Her voice was a tense whisper.

"Mmm..." Maura didn't want to wake up. It was too pleasant a dream, and dreams like that didn't hurt until later. Then they faded. She turned into Jane, snuggling closer, lips finding the brunette's collarbone and brushing against it. Her skin was so soft, warm, and everything about the moment was too perfect. So, naturally, she opened her eyes. "Oh..."

Jane shivered at Maura's touch but stiffened when their eyes met. Maybe it was the feel of Maura's skin on hers that kept her from thinking rationally—or maybe it was just that which let her see what she really wanted for the first time. Either way, Jane's fingers found Maura's hair, and the next moment found her pulling the blonde up and into a needy kiss.

Moaning into the kiss, Maura let herself arch into Jane. She felt herself letting familiar urges take over, as a rising sense of almost frantic desire pushed her to pull up Jane's shirt, to press her hips forward. It was not unlike countless small moments of want they had shared until she forced herself to take a breath to pull away. But even then, as she met Jane's eyes, she couldn't refuse the apology; she couldn't refuse what she wanted, no matter what they called it. And she kissed Jane fiercely.

Jane moaned, letting out the tension that had been building since the night before. Soon she was returning Maura's quickening touches, pulling at what little clothes they wore, and breathing heavily when finally she felt their skin meet unimpeded. The next second found her moving her lips lower, firmly marking Maura's skin like she hadn't felt the urge to do before.

If she wanted to say anything, words would not come. Maura expressed halting breaths under Jane's touches, under each nip of her teeth. She closed her eyes, letting herself feel more acutely while she drug her fingers through Jane's thick hair, letting her nails trail down the brunette's scalp. Without realizing it, she was wrapping her legs around Jane, pressing closer, wanting more contact than she could possibly be given that way. And finally, none too gently, she found herself urging the course of Jane's lips downward.

Even though Jane let Maura guide her, she resisted long enough to work her lips around each of Maura's nipples in turn. She could already feel the blonde's wetness against her stomach, and she slid her hands lower along Maura's body, laying rushed kisses on her stomach as she moved, finally settling between her legs. For once, she didn't take the time to pause, instead wrapping her arms around Maura's already tensing thighs- urging them apart further. She could readily remember the sounds that Maura could make when she finally let go, and Jane had no intention of waiting a moment too long to hear them.

"Yes," Maura managed to gasp as she easily let her legs fall over Jane's shoulders. She opened her eyes long enough to catch the brunette's gaze and closed them again when she let her head fall back as she moaned. Then, she could feel Jane's breath on her, then Jane's tongue, her lips. And whatever worries they had were gone for a little while at least. And Jane relished the feeling of Maura's heels against her back and moved with her as the blonde rocked subtly on the bed under her. She was persistent, pushing her quickly toward the edge. Her fingers were leaving marks on Maura's skin that would last, but she didn't care.

It could have been mere moments or longer than that, but Maura was soon trembling under her climax, her moans filling the room as much as the sunlight now spilling through the curtains. She arched into Jane's fingertips, her short fingernails. And when she was finally, she was not sated. Her mind screamed that she wanted more, needed more, and her body did not make her question the thoughts. She pulled Jane up on top of her, kissing her wantonly as she rolled them over and settled herself on top.

Jane barely had a chance to breathe before Maura's lips were on hers again, and she opened her mouth, moaning quietly when Maura slid her tongue into her mouth. She reached for the blonde again, pulling her down fiercely. There were so many thoughts in her mind that none were coherent, all she could feel was Maura's weight and heat. And Jane wanted more, even if it meant having to wait, she wanted to push Maura for more. Her hands went to the blonde's hips, and she pressed her close, thinking of all the times she'd wanted to take her over the last weeks but had denied it. Now she could hear Maura starting to moan again, and Jane grew more insistent, rocking their bodies together.

For a while, she was free of the fears that had plagued her throughout the past few weeks. She was free of the worry and the guilt, and she felt unrestrained in allowing herself to get lost in the feel of Jane, in the scent of her skin, her hair--shampoo and sweat and sleep and something that was entirely Jane. "Want you," she gasped. "Now." Maura's voice was low, thick, and she wasted no time in pressing her hand between Jane's legs, pushing two fingers into Jane and moaning at just how ready the brunette was.

Too quickly overwhelmed to respond, Jane found herself just nodding—acquiescing to whatever Maura needed in the moment. Maura pushed her harder, and Jane squirmed, panting as she felt her add another finger inside her.

To feel Jane so close to coming undone only made Maura want her more. She pressed the heel of her hand down against the brunette's clit, moaning at the immediate response, at the way Jane arched sharply into the touch. Maura wanted her completely overwhelmed; she knew Jane would let go with her, would trust her to see that, even if she did not trust herself to give complicated answers to deceptively simple questions. Without a word, breath jagged, she took one of Jane's nipples between her teeth, nipping it harder than she had ever before. Jane groaned, and arched up into Maura's mouth. The insistent strokes of Maura's tongue on her skin, combined with her thrusts was more than enough. She twisted under Maura, calling out her name when she finally let go, and pulling her close the second after.

Maura's breathing didn't slow. She was ready again, and even the sound, the feel of Jane's heartbeat. She kissed her neck, tasting her salty skin before nuzzling it softly. "I need you, Jane," she whispered quietly. There were things Maura knew she needed. Food, water, shelter—those were basic, rational. There were less rational things--her shoes, her favorite foods. But she had come to accept that as the human condition. This was perhaps less rational than that, but she trusted her body. She trusted Jane.

There were so many things that Jane wanted to say I need you too...I need you in ways I don't understand... but all of them didn't feel right crossing her lips in the moment. Jane just didn't say things like that - things that belonged to movies and books, and people whose lives didn't involve the usual human fallacies. She knew Maura wanted, and would soon demand an answer. "Yes..." Jane managed that far but responded in turn by tangling her fingers in Maura's hair, pulling her into another long kiss. Her energy and want was contagious, and Jane felt her heart start to pound again in response.

When the kiss broke, Maura gasped for breath, for purchase in the moment that became so dizzying so suddenly. She pressed into Jane, trying to draw in her heat, and soon she was touching her again, squirming as Jane's hand found her way between her legs as well. Maura simply let her mind race, let her body push itself, knowing that that when they reached their physical limits, they could begin to explore the rest. And there, she tried to feel as much of Jane as she could as the brunette pushed her closer.

It might have been seconds, minutes or hours for all Jane could care. When Jane finally rolled them to their sides, letting out a deep and satisfied breath the sunlight was bright, reflecting off the deep blanket of snow outside and making patterns dance on the walls as it shown through the bare trees. The sheets were tangled- thrown aside and impossibly twisted, and both their bodies coated in a sheen of sweat. For a few heartbeats longer they lay like that, foreheads pressed together, breathing shared air. "Maura.." Jane whispered, as if afraid to break the silence that had fallen, "I…I'm scared."

The simplicity of the admission took Maura by surprise. She let the silence stretch, perhaps for too long, but her eyes lingered on Jane, holding her gaze so that she could not become overwhelmed and try to run away again. Maura considered that, pondered what it would do, how completely broken she knew she would become if Jane walked away. "So am I," she said softly as she twined her fingers together with Jane's. "But I'd rather be scared with a chance to build something...something I suspect neither of us has ever had before, than be miserable alone."

It never ceased to amaze Jane how Maura could find an appropriate response to everything. She nodded, mind still working through what she was admitting to. Yes—kshe was scared to feel this change in herself, but more scared even by the realization that by gaining this attachment, this connection, she had even more to lose. She faced fears every day, but she always thought that the biggest risk she took was that she would one day not make it back from a call. Until now though, such a thought was personal to only her- and a risk she had made peace with. She wrapped Maura in her arms, trying to push the worries away by surrounding herself with Maura's warmth. Jane nodded into Maura's hair and hoped it would be enough.

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