"Ma joining us for dinner?"
Maura looks up from the vegetables she's slicing, a slight frown flitting across her face. "Hello to you, too, Jane. And no, she's having dinner with Frankie tonight. I believe she said that she's got to teach him how to cook a proper lasagna if he's ever going to snare himself a wife." She pauses, eyes going slightly unfocussed for a moment as she mouths the words to some unknown conversation, then nods with a smile. "Yes, I believe those were her exact words."
I chuckle and set the paper bag down before walking around the counter to press a kiss to her temple. "She still on that kick about getting Frankie married off so she can have grandkids to occupy her time?"
"I suppose that's her reasoning," Maura says slowly, leaning into my chest for just a moment. "She thinks that he's her only viable option for grandchildren."
I stroke Maura's back, relishing her solid warmth against my body. Ever since my stupidly suicidal bout of heroics, I've wanted to have her close all the time. I'm still not one hundred percent sure what to do about that, but I'll take what comfort I can from her nearness.
"Never mind me," comes Ma's voice from the doorway suddenly. I can hear the amusement in her tone, and drop my head to rest my cheek against Maura's temple. "I just came back to get my good sauce pan. Can't make proper marinara without it."
"Of course not," I mutter, making Maura shake with silent giggles against my chest.
Ma just bustles past us to dig through the cupboards Maura allotted her, and I tighten my grip on Maura's waist. I can tell when Ma finds the pan in question by that self-satisfied grunt of hers. And then I can feel her eyes on my back. She sighs softly and moves to press her lips to my shoulder, then Maura's hair, before she heads toward the door again.
"I'll probably be home late," she says as she stops at the door. "Maybe I'll spend the night with your brother. Don't you two do anything I wouldn't do. Well, actually, there's probably a lot of things you two would do that I wouldn't be ab--"
"Good night, Ma!"
She laughs and closes the door behind her. I can hear her laughing all the way out to her car. Maura coughs slightly, and I pull back to look at her, make sure she's okay. That's when I notice the tears in her eyes. Before I can ask what's wrong, she bursts into nervous giggles.
"Did your mother just--" Her words splutter into helpless giggles again, and I find them infectious.
"Yeah, she just gave us permission to have sex while she's gone," I finally say when the laughter has mostly subsided. "Frankie'll be pissed if he ever finds out. She'd never let him do that."
Suddenly Maura turns serious and rests her head over my heart again. "Because you can't make a mistake in the heat of the moment and get me pregnant." The melancholy in her voice burrows through my chest painfully.
"Maura?" I ask, leaning back again to look at her. She clings more tightly to me, refusing to meet my gaze. "Hey, what's going on?"
She hangs on to me for a moment longer, then sighs and shakes her head. Letting go of me, she offers a tight smile that doesn't go anywhere near her eyes, and returns to slicing vegetables for dinner.
"It's nothing, Jane," she says, forcing her voice to sound more normal. "Why don't you go shower and change while I get dinner started? You can even choose tonight's movie."
"Jane, please," she says, finally meeting my gaze again. There's something lurking in the back of her eyes that I can't quite place, and it terrifies me, to be completely honest. "Just go shower. I'm fine."
When I come out of the bathroom a little while later, clean and warm in comfy sweats and a t-shirt, Maura's still quietly cooking. There's a bottle of beer waiting for me on the counter, next to a bottle of the cabernet sauvignon that she's been favoring lately. I take a pull off my beer, then pad around to stand behind her at the stove, arms wrapping around her waist. Maura leans back into me briefly, but continues to stir the veggies and chicken in the wok before her.
"Can you check on the rice for me?" she asks softly, voice husky. "This is almost ready."
I want to just pull her away from the kitchen and make her talk to me about what's got her so upset suddenly. But I also know that this is not the way to deal with Maura when she's in a mood like this. Instead, I just press a kiss to the crown of her head and move to do as requested. As I reach the rice cooker, the machine switches over to warm.
"Rice is done. Is that ready enough for me to start dishing up?"
Maura nods, so I get out the plates and start piling on rice and the salad she made. Both plates wait on the counter next to the stove as I start to portion up rice into containers for our lunches tomorrow. These also sit next to the plates, awaiting the scrumptious, mouth-watering stir fry that Maura's finishing.
While she finishes that, I head over to the media cabinet and start looking for a movie. I'm not sure what she's in the mood for, but I finally pull out Deep Impact, something I know we've enjoyed in the past and can ignore to talk. If I can get her to talk, that is.
Heading back to the kitchen, I grab my beer, her wine glass, and the bottle of wine, taking them to the coffee table. On my second pass, I grab the silverware and both plates that she's just dished up, while she feeds Bass his dinner. I start putting a few of the dishes into the dishwasher while she wipes down the counter and stovetop. Everything is done is a silence that is both comforting and creepy.
We finally make our way to the couch, but neither of us touches our food for a moment or two. I pull Maura into a loose hug, just holding her close for comfort. She snuggles in close, cheek resting against my heart, one hand spread over the entrance wound scar on my side.
"You wanna talk about it?" I ask softly, almost regretting having to ask the question.
She shakes her head. "Not yet." That's a good sign; at least she's willing to talk about it eventually. She clears her throat and sits back up, and I reluctantly let her go. "What movie did you pick?"
Instead of answering, I just start the DVD. She laughs softly and reaches for her plate. I do the same and let myself fall mostly into the story. The food is fantastic, as usual when Maura cooks, and I find myself completely stuffed in no time. When Maura finishes, I grab our dishes and finish filling the dishwasher, giving her a little more time to herself. A last swipe at the countertops and putting the now cooled lunches in the fridge gives her just a little more time.
Returning to the couch, I get comfortable and put my bare feet up on the coffee table, beer in hand. Oh good, we're finally getting into the meat of the plot. I love the stuff out in space. Settling in to watch, I'm not as surprised as I'd expect when Maura shifts to curl up against my side, adopting that same position as earlier, only this time her hands cover both entrance and exit wound scar sites. I find it oddly comforting that she's surrounded all of my most vulnerable spots, yet she's holding back her own vulnerability from me.
I simply wrap my arm around her, holding her close, and continue to watch the movie. Her breathing deepens slightly, and I almost think she's falling asleep until the faint tremor against my body when Tea Leone's character talks about being an orphan. Damn! Maura clings more tightly to me, and then I feel the heat of her tears soaking into my t-shirt.
"This part always gets to me," she whispers.
I kiss the top of her head. "I know it does. I should have picked a different movie."
She sits up, wiping at her eyes, and shakes her head. "No, this was a good choice, Jane. I just…"
"If you're not ready yet, you don't have to do this now."
She grabs for her wine and drains the glass, refilling it instantly. She doesn't touch the glass again, but pauses the DVD. Taking a deep breath, she meets my gaze and grabs my hand. I squeeze back tightly, giving her the strength I know she'll never ask for.
"Jane, if… If you had the chance, would you give your mother grandchildren?"
Yep, that's what I thought this was all about. "I don't know. I suppose I would. I know it'd make her happier than hell to have grandbabies to spoil and dote on. Tommy's too comfortable in jail to ever have a stable family life and kids. Frankie'll probably settle down one day, find a girl, get married, and have a whole bunch of kids for Ma to spoil. I never thought about it, I guess." And then I study her for a moment. "Maura, do you want to have kids?"
"Before I knew who my real father was, yes. I never really had the fairy tale princess and babies fantasies like the other girls my age, but I wanted to have a daughter. I wanted her to look like my mother and give me that missing sense of belonging. But no man has ever been good enough, and I won't just settle for anyone to father my child."
"Yeah, I know," I reply softly, pulling Maura close to my side again. I can feel her tears again, and begin to rock from side to side. "But if you had the chance to raise that baby on your own, or with someone you might care about, even if you didn't get married, would you take that chance?"
"Well, I'd have to thi--"
"No, Maura, don't think about it," I say, holding her close when she tries to pull away. "Don't analyze it. Just go with your gut. Please?"
She goes still for a long moment, fingers fluttering against my scars. "Yes," she finally whispers on the tail of a muted sob. "If I had the chance, I would do it."
When she tries to pull away this time, I let her. There's a strange combination of confusion and hope in her tear-filled eyes. "What are you saying, Jane?"
"You and me having a kid. Ma loves you like you're one of her own, so you know she'll consider the baby her grandkid and spoil the hell out if it."
"But--" Her forehead furrows in confusion. "Jane, parthenogenesis isn't a viable option and, unless you're hiding something from me that I should know about, we can't have a child together any other way."
Chuckling, I lean closer to press a gentle kiss to her lips. "I don't even know what that is that you just said, and I'm most definitely not hiding anything from you. But there are other ways we can have a baby together, right?" She nods slowly, but the confusion's still in her eyes. "If nothing else, I bet I could talk Frankie into making a donation if you want an actual Rizzoli baby."
"But, Jane, it wouldn't be your baby. It would be Frankie's baby that you'd help me raise."
"Then we find some anonymous donor to be the father," I reply, squeezing her hand again. "I don't care who the father is, Maura. Well, okay, I do care in that generic sense of whether or not he's a good guy."
"And not like Paddy?" she asks softly.
"No! Damn it, Maura, that's not what I meant."
Fear grips at my heart at the thought of our relationship returning to that strained hell we lived through in the aftermath of Paddy's shooting. It took so much work to get us back on track just as friends, let alone as lovers, and I can't bear the thought of doing that again over something I said without really thinking it out first.
"I know." I let out the breath I've been holding at her words. "I just… After what happened to both my mother and Paddy, I need to know that I can even give a child any kind of a sense of family. I need to know that my child will have a family that he or she can rely on without question."
I shift to face her more fully, cup her face in both hands. "Maura, no matter who the biological father is, your child will have a family. I already told you that Ma considers you one of her own, and Frankie thinks of you like another big sister. Tommy wanted -- Okay, I'm not sure what Tommy wanted. Pop's become a non-entity, and that's okay. He chose to distance himself from the rest of the family when he and Ma got their divorce. But that's beside the point." I take a deep breath, dispelling the negativity surrounding Pop's defection from the family. That's not what's important right now. "All that matters right now is where we go from here, right?"
"Yes, you're right," she replies, leaning into my touch.
"So you're really serious about having a baby, Jane? We're going to research this and give it a shot?"
I smile at the happiness lighting up her face and, especially, her eyes finally. "Yes, we'll do whatever you need to do to have this baby, Maura. I promise. But can we finish the movie first? They're about to blow up the big comet."
"Of course," Maura says, and curls into my side again. "Far be it from me to keep you from your heroic explosions."