Jane twisted the half-empty beer bottle in her palms. The liquid inside had grown warm while she waited for Maura to finish feeding Bass, and do whatever else she found necessary in her evening routine. Neither of them had felt like a night out after the long week, but Jane had quickly accepted the offer of a movie at Maura’s. Jane watched the television quietly, letting herself relax. She could hardly focus—she must be more tired than she thought.
She took another long sip of the beer, but made a face as she lowered the bottle from her lips. Jane didn’t want to bother Maura with it. The blond would surely just replace it with another, and probably apologize for taking so long. Jane looked around, listened for a moment down the hall, before pouring the rest of the beer into a nearby plant.
A few moments later, Maura stepped into the threshold of the room. She paused, quietly laying her palms on either side of the doorway. The sound of the television was soft, almost white noise, and Jane was so still that she might have been asleep. Immediately her eyes darted to the bottle, now absent its contents, and her lips curled into a faint smile.
Maura took her time then, simply watching Jane, savoring the first of it as she had come to do now that she was no longer rushed, no longer wholly worried. She let the guilt over her comfort, her complacency add a pleasant edge to her feelings. She tried not to let the guilt over what she was doing to Jane cut her.
Finally, Jane slumped forward on the sofa, the muffled sound more than the movement bringing Maura back to the reality of the moment. She sighed softly as she pushed forward, walking briskly across the room.
“Jane,” she whispered. “Oh, Jane...” Maura put her hand on the brunette’s shoulder and almost tenderly began shake her. “I think it’s time for bed,” she murmured, pausing to brush a stray strand off of Jane’s forehead.
When Jane began to stir, she smiled, immediately slipping her arm under the taller woman’s shoulders and helping her up before she could protest. “Shh, it’s all right. I’ll help you upstairs.” Her voice was soothing, soft, and Jane’s reply was a slurred compilation of mumblings that Maura did not need to understand.
The way the bed sheets wrinkled under Jane’s weight had become pleasant, familiar. Maura clucked softly as she pulled away, watching Jane settle, her hair spreading on the pillow. She was beautiful when she had no control.
As her ritual dictated, Maura began by taking off Jane’s pants, her shoes already being downstairs by the door. She folded them neatly, just as she did with every article of clothing thereafter. And when she was done, satisfied with the act, she slowly lay next to the brunette, taking her time before kissing her fully, tasting the warmth of her mouth.
Jane had no recollection of the time, or how she’d gotten to where she was, but like rising through water, she felt herself slowly coming out of her dazed state. She moaned quietly against Maura’s lips, returning a heated kiss on instinct for a few confusing seconds. Jane froze then—realization pushing the last of the haze away. She moved her hands to Maura’s shoulders, holding the other woman away from her- locking their eyes together. Maura’s mouth hung open, eyes wide for a split second as she realized her mistake.
Jane took a sharp breath then as the room swam into focus—the dim light from the bedside table lamp, Maura lying across her naked body, the sheen of sweat covering them both. The moment held them both there, each taking stock—stock of what was quickly becoming shared reality. Maura broke the eerie reverie when she reached for the drawer next to them, but Jane was too quick, acting on impulse—and not a little confusion and fear.
Echos, shadows were flooding back into her consciousness--half remembered moments of pleasure, Maura’s voice, the flashes of pain, of hazy mornings after. Jane gripped Maura’s wrist, twisting it and shoving her roughly. She barely noticed as the smaller woman sprawled away, nearly falling off the edge of the bed. Before Maura could find her bearings, Jane opened the drawer herself, eyes widening as she saw its contents.
“Jane, no...” Maura’s voice grew shrill.
But Jane couldn’t hear clearly over the sound of her own blood rushing in her ears. Maura tried to close on her again, but Jane was pulling herself up on slightly shaking legs, casting frantic glances for her clothes.
“Wait, Jane please...” Maura reached for her again, tears beginning to well up in her eyes,
“Don’t touch me.” Jane snapped instantly, then pulled her clothes on, breathing heavily, trying her best to make her still—heavy limbs move. Behind her, Maura had stilled, drawing her knees up to cover herself as she sat on the edge of the bed. Without looking back, Jane was out of the room and down the stairs to the front door. The next second found her running out into the icy darkness of the winter night.
It took her several strides across Maura’s snow-covered yard to realize she’d left her shoes- though she couldn’t remember taking them off in the first place. The snow stung her bare feet. The street was in front of her, a few streetlights still illuminating the quiet tree-lined block. Still, she couldn’t bring herself to move further, and she shifted from foot to foot in the snow, feeling exposed there in the open space.
Her shuddering breath condensed in the air, and she couldn’t help the way her hands shook. Jane didn’t know if she wanted to scream, run, or be sick. She cast her eyes upward at the bare branches above her, before squeezing them shut against the world.
Despite the anger, the surprise, there was a growing sense of recollection. Somehow she must have known--there had been so many nights before, though she couldn’t guess at how many. But how many nights had she indulged too far- knowing, expecting Maura would take care of her? She’d always gone out willingly, laughed, drank, and tried not to think much beyond that, to any of the obvious signs of what was happening. The feeling trust in and of itself was addicting.
The cold was making her palms ache, and her feet were at last loosing any feeling at all. She paced, hearing the snow crunch under foot, grounding her racing thoughts. She should leave--she had a spare key hidden away, at least she thought she did.
Jane flinched at the familiar voice behind her, looking back over her shoulder just long enough to catch the image of Maura’s frame--now wrapped in a silk robe--silhouetted in the doorway. Jane glanced back at the road, shoulders hunched against the growing wind.
“Jane, come back inside. It’s too cold out here.” Maura’s voice was calm, almost eerie.
Somehow against all sense of better judgment, Jane felt a pull, an unwillingness to walk away. That voice which both haunted and comforted her now was drawing her back. And the wind was biting against her cheeks, numbness permeating her skin, and sending chills into her very core.
Jane glanced back at Maura again, who seemed frozen in place. Soon, the temptation was overwhelming--warmth, refuge, no matter how foreboding, was powerful. Slowly, Jane found herself nodding into the empty night, turning back toward Maura.
At the steps, she faltered on frozen feet but Maura caught her, taking her by the arm as she guided Jane back inside the house.
Maura offered a sympathetic half-smile. “That’s better,” she intoned as she closed the door behind them. “Let me get you something warm to drink.”