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Maura sighed softly as she closed the bedroom door after checking on Jane one last time.  She could understand nightmares--theoretically and even from her own experience.  But she could not imagine the nightmares so vivid to cause Jane such fitful sleep throughout the several days since she had been home.

Her home was an obvious choice.  There was a bedroom downstairs.  She didn’t mind taking the time to care for her friend, and Jane had not wanted to be under the constant care of her mother.  Loved ones could be smothering, and Maura was so many degrees removed from that.

Methodically, she began to make herself a cup of tea.  So many degrees she was from many things.  But Maura could not longer deny that that wasn’t what she wanted from Jane, with Jane.  The tightening in the pit of her stomach at any small pain the brunette felt, at any sign of upset...the fluttering in her stomach or the way her cheeks flushed simply when she saw Jane... Maura had not realized how adamantly she had denied her own feelings.

She glanced up in the direction of the bedroom as the kettle began to whistle, and she immediately broke her thoughts to take it off of the boiler, afraid the slightest noise might wake Jane.

There were some things one realized too late, but she knew that there were also some things one simply realized in vain.

Jane winced as Maura settled next to her on the sofa, the twinge she had felt earlier in the day returning. After the long week, a movie and a bottle of wine had seemed like a better option to going out to the bar. Jane tried to ignore the concerned look she knew Maura was giving her. Her friend was so easily worried about her since she'd been injured, even though the recovery had gone fairly well. She reached for a handful of the lightly salted popcorn Maura had brought from the kitchen, still trying to avoid the blonde’s eyes, "I'm fine, I promise. Just might have overdone it a little at the gym, that's all."

In an effort no to wring her hands, Maura balled them into loose fists for a moment. She did not realize she was also biting you lip. "I told you that you shouldn't have gone. It's too soon. Another week," she said, eyes fixed on Jane. "Maybe two." She was not that kind of doctor, but she knew how the body worked...and how the mind worked faster, Jane's especially.  She knew her own mind too much so that it was almost overwhelming. "Let me take a look. You might have strained yourself..." Maura moved closer, expecting Jane to comply. She hadn't asked immediately, knowing there was a delicate line between pushing and pushing Jane away entirely.

"What?!" Jane leaned back, trying to block Maura's hands from reaching for her shirt as she bristled due to her own pride. "I'm good, really, just did a few to many reps. Just watch the movie." Maura's concern wasn't misplaced, Jane knew, but years of trying to put on a tough exterior didn't fade quickly. "Besides, I don't wanna wait 2 more weeks. I'm startin' to look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy here."

“Jane, don't be ridiculous..." Maura's hands brushed the brunette's as she continued with her attempt, her cheeks flushing slightly. On an academic level, she knew the bravado was necessarily, but he was slowly starting to realize that on a personal level, she wished Jane felt comfortable enough with her to let it fade. "Re-opening the wound could cause infection. And if you didn't properly clean or dress it... Let me help."

"Hey!" Jane was blushing, though she didn't quite understand why. It wasn't as if Maura hadn't been there insisting on helping her throughout the last months--and Jane had been grateful to have a friend to go to when she was hurting, one she knew wouldn't judge her. Tonight though, Jane wasn't in the mood to be a patient. Maybe it was something slowly building between them, or maybe it was just simply that Jane had had enough of being treated carefully. Either way, she was ready to just be normal again. She scooted back, looking around for something to distract Maura with, though the other woman was surprisingly persistent.

"Jane! Stop being stubborn; it isn't necessary." Maura persisted, moving closer, catching the hem of Jane's shirt, pausing as her blush deepened then. She withdrew suddenly, sensing that she had come as close as possibly to crossing a boundary that they had both been approaching, that had been forming in the past weeks. She wasn't sure Jane even realized it, which made it even more difficult to contend with. She wasn't sure if the physical reactions she had begun to experience when in Jane's proximity, along with the emotional attachment that began to deepen would be too much for the brunette. "I'm sorry. I'll...let me start the film."

Jane watched Maura out of the corner of her eye, shifting uneasily.  Though it grew tiresome, Jane wouldn’t deny enjoying Maura’s attentions- no matter how seemingly practical.  “I...oh, yeah ok.”  She could see Maura still looking unsure, flushed, and let the implications settle in her mind.  She leaned back, wincing again, “Hey Maura, actually I think it’s just pinching a little.  Do you have some...tape or something?”

“Of course,” Maura said, brightening slightly.  Even if the small concession did not dispel all of the awkwardness of the moment, it felt good to simply be useful.  She stood quickly, pausing a moment as her head swam.  That seemed to happen--metaphorically speaking--more and more around Jane. “I’ll just be a moment...go ahead and start.”  As she rounded the sofa, on a whim she put her hand on Jane’s shoulder, squeezing it reassuringly.  And at the feeling of her warm shoulder, Maura’s breath caught.

She returned with the tape and scissors as well as fresh gauze, but she hesitated as she sat down. “I can...let you...”

Jane rolled her eyes, smiling at Maura as she pulled her shirt up, stopping just shy of her bra.  “No, you know I can’t reach the back.”  And God knew she’d tried enough in the last month to know it was physically impossible.  Still, Jane wondered.  Maura hadn’t asked that before.

Maura carefully began to take off the dressing, noting that Jane had done as good a job as possible with it herself.  Her hands were steady, but when they brushed Jane’s skin, her heart caught in her throat as it had the first time, only she understood it now.

“Just a few more days and you won’t have to wear it anymore,” she said quietly as she worked.  Even as Maura said it, she had a sinking feeling, and she was thankful that she didn’t have to look up at Jane.

"Yeah..." Jane was quiet, trying to hold still as best she could. "Yeah, I know." She smiled slightly, pulling her shirt down as Maura finished, "And then you won't have to put up with my complaining anymore." She reached for the remote to start the movie.

"I don't mind," Maura said quickly, words tumbling out of her mouth as she also reached for the remote. Her hand touched Jane's and she stilled. " do complain, but it is simply more of a cultural reaction to your tenuous role as a more than competent female in a male dominated field after being order not to," she said, faltering when she realized their hands were still touching, "seem weak or... I don't mind, Jane."

The long string of words that came out of Maura's mouth were nothing that would have given Jane pause, but somehow the look on her face made her stop. She didn't pull back. Their closeness had been comfortable, but now Jane found herself edging closer- to something she couldn't quite explain, as well as the other woman herself. She took a sharp breath, "Maura..."

"There are...there are a lot of things I don't mind," Maura murmured. And this was one of them--the unmistakeable flutter of attraction in her core. It had been disconcerting, frustrating at first, but she had come to embrace it, to rationalize it even as she realized she couldn't bring herself to ignore it. But Jane's pupils were dilating and the capillaries in her cheeks were opening to let in blood. And her lips...Maura leaned forward and brushed them with her own with all of the carefulness she had used in seeing to Jane's wound moments before. She was unsure, but she closed her eyes anyway. She had read once...something about trust...

Jane didn't realize she had forgotten to breathe until it was too late, and she gasped, almost startled. It faded into a low moan then, and she couldn't help but reach out and slip an arm around Maura's waist. "I...." She couldn't think of words to fill the silence, and it hung dangerously between them.

The sound of Jane's moan rang in Maura's ears against the echo of her own blood rushing. She blinked slowly, the silence stretching on as her body settled naturally into Jane's hold. And then, a small, pleading smile spread across her face as she touched Jane's cheek, stroking it with the backs of her fingers. "Don't make me stop caring for you," she whispered.

Jane closed her eyes then, fighting against her confusion, though she knew well what was happening- and what she needed. Her lips moved to catch Maura's fingertips, pressing to them quietly for a moment, "Please don't...Maura..." Jane leaned back then, opening her eyes to look at Maura in front of her. Her voice was quiet, low enough as to barely form words at all. "Maura...what are we doing?"

"Jane, I..." Even the minute shift made Maura feel somehow bereft of her presence, and she was awash with the fear that she had acted out of turn, that she had tipped her hand only to cause the consequence she had feared from the beginning. But she could not break Jane's gaze though her own eyes were glassy and threatening tears. "We could have this..." she whispered, trying not to choke on the words.

"This?" Jane wasn't sure the word sounded like a question, and the next thing she knew Maura's lips were on hers, and she wasn't pulling away.

In relief or in fear--she wasn't sure which, if not both--Maura clung to Jane's shirt, holding her closer, begging her to stay close as she deepened the kiss. She had said what she said in as much of an effort to convince herself as to convince Jane, and she was not sure that if they continued, she would be able to bear it if Jane pulled away suddenly.

When the kiss finally broke, Jane stayed close, leaning their foreheads together. Her eyes fluttered closed, and she let out a long breath, "....Wow...I didn't...uh." Not being prone to eloquence in any instance, it was the best she could do.

"I realized..." Maura began after biting her lip in uncertainty, "I thought I would lose you, and I realized...I realized when I hadn't, when I was caring for you that I was still afraid I would. Jane..." She ran her fingers through Jane's hair lightly, letting her other hand settle on the brunette's waist as she ducked her head, still fearing she had said too much.

", it's ok.." Jane knew what she wanted to say - that she feared for the void she might leave more than for her own life at times. In the past she'd found some cold comfort there - that if she didn't grow close to someone, they wouldn't be there to be hurt if she was gone. Now though, with Maura so real there in front of her Jane started at how hollow the excuse seemed. She took Maura's hands in her own, "I'm sorry...I don't want to hurt you."

Maura nodded then, feeling her own hair brush against her neck. She looked down at Jane's hands; she could feel the knotted scars in the brunette's palms, and she knew they must ache in the New England winters. The newest scar would ache sometimes too from real and phantom pains. She would have ached with unrealized longing had she lost Jane. "Then don't," she began as she rubbed her thumb over the back of Jane's hand. Maura looked up then, more confident in her words. "Then don't push me away, Jane..."

Jane looked away, studying the patterns in the hardwood floor while she tried to dispel some of the rising fear--not for what might come next, but for the fact she had little control over it anymore.  Maura's voice had wavered, just that small amount that made Jane know she was speaking with her heart rather than her mind.  It was a rare occurrence.  

Jane glanced back up then, and met Maura's stare, " know I can't."  She was still shaking her head, powerless before what was happening, as she pulled Maura toward her.  Their lips met almost roughly, and this time it wasn't Jane who was moaning.

Instinctively, Maura wrapped her arms around Jane's neck, drawing her even closer as she pushed her fingers through the brunette's curls. reveling in the feeling in a long held but recently realized desire. She held tightly, clinging to Jane's ferocity with as much desire for the woman herself as fear that she would slip away. "Come...come to bed," she whispered, hoarse, when the kiss broke. "Please come to bed with me," she pleaded as she opened her eyes.

Jane paused then, old insecurities rising to the surface.  Maura was undoubtedly beautiful, and never without her choice of companions.  Jane ran her fingers down her back, feeling the silk of her shirt, "Are you sure...I mean, with me?"  Jane knew Maura well enough to know her impulsive nature she kept hidden from most, but she didn't want to be one of those moments of distraction - there was too much else to lose between them.

"Jane..." Maura felt as if her throat would close, as if words were too thick, too heavy to force through it.  But silence now, she knew, would be too perilous to allow.  She forced herself to pull away to stand, and it was as if she were tearing herself away from some immeasurable force. She offered her hand hoping that they had come so far as to make it impossible for Jane not to accept it. "If...If I need to beg..."

"Oh God, please don't."  Jane's lips hinted at a smile, and she was already reaching to take the offered hand in her own.  "Just..I need to know what happens tomorrow."

"Tomorrow..." Even Jane's hinted smile did not completely reassure Maura yet.  She twined her fingers with Jane's and stepped closer. "Tomorrow you'll let me care for you...and...and perhaps you'll realize that you care for me the same way..."

Jane took a sharp breath then, and she looked up, slight frustration tinging her response, "you mean like I used to."

Maura's eyes widened as she felt everything tentatively begin to slip away.  It was so difficult, so all consuming to give so much of herself, not to retreat into words and theories and thoughts.  She fought to keep her eyes from welling with tears of her own frustration. "Please...I want to be with you...more than your colleague...more than your friend. are...all of you, now, are what I want."

Jane took Maura in- her expression, and her words.  She could feel herself on the edge of something, something even her own stubbornness wouldn't overcome.  She didn't know what to say, and instead held Maura's hand tighter, and pulled her toward the stairs.  There were so many things that could go wrong, but if even one went right that had to be worth the risk.

Maura let Jane lead her until they reached the threshold, where they both paused, glancing at each other for a long moment.  She tilted her chin up, brushing her lips against Jane's as reassurance for them both before gently pulling her forward, into the cool room. Here, she knew it was she who had more confidence, who had more to draw on.  And as she turned to Jane to kiss her deeply, Maura knew she had found her footing.

Jane's breath was increasing, and she played tentatively with the hem of Maura's shirt.  Here she was unsure, unused to the feeling of the fluidity of the encounter.  Before, it was easy, and she'd pushed - almost adversarial with her partners.  It was what she'd found they expected from her- the tough girl they'd managed to take to bed.  Here though, she was lost, both content to kiss Maura all night and revel in the softness of her lips, and feeling a growing urgency to discover more.  She pressed her neck back against Maura's hands in her hair, "Maura...tell me what you want."

Maura shivered lightly at the feel of Jane's body underneath her clothes. She pulled away, catching the hem of Jane's shirt, coaxing it off gently, mindful of her injuries. "Lie down," she whispered, body trembling with anticipation.

Jane glanced down at the bandages across her stomach for only a moment, but took confidence that Maura already knew them too well.  She felt her skin sensitive to the cool air in the room, but put that, and all else aside as she lay back cautiously across Maura's bed.

With no hesitation and sure fingers, Maura unbuttoned Jane's pants and slipped them off.  She pressed her palms to the brunette's legs, running them up the smooth skin as she kissed up Jane's stomach to her chest, to her lips. This, she knew, though she had never wanted it so much. She had never waited so long. And as she pressed down Jane's body again, fingers pushing underneath the waistband of her panties, she smiled.

"God...Maura...."  Jane's breath rushed from her lungs, and she knew her legs were shaking with the effort to stay still.  This anticipation, the sensations, were so foreign.  It felt like the first time- and Jane shuddered at the realization that it was, in a way, just that.

Maura took a deep breath before kissing Jane's hip, nipping the tender skin there. Then she pressed her tongue between her lips, moaning as she tasted her, as she pressed her tongue with her clit, circling it slowly.

Jane's body went rigid at the first sensation, then relaxed, accepting the touch, the pleasure.  She moaned, twisting the linens in her fingers.  As much as she wanted to draw it out, to make herself wait, Jane found it was impossible.  Maura was persistent, and soon Jane was yelling out her name.

As the sound rang in her ears, Maura closed her eyes, savoring it, savoring the taste. Finally, when Jane stilled Maura lay against the length of her body, walking her fingers leisurely up her chest before kissing her contentedly.

Jane felt the bed sink just slightly as Maura moved next to her.  Her eyes were still closed, one hand on her own forehead, slowly brushing away the tangled hair that seemed to be everywhere suddenly.  Maura's kiss was reassuring, bringing her back to reality.  It had been so easy, so easy to fall into Maura, and Jane wondered a few things about herself as she wrapped the other woman's arm quietly across her shoulders.

Maura breathed in the scent of Jane's sweat, of her shampoo. She kissed her jaw and kissed it again, unable to stop herself. "We can take out time," she whispered, settling into Jane. "we have it now."

Jane blinked slowly as the light filtered through the sheer curtains of the bedroom.  They faced east- probably a calculated choice on Maura’s part.  Jane only had a moment to consider this, however, before the night before began to rush back at her.  She opened her eyes fully then, and glanced to the sleeping woman next to her.  Maura’s bare shoulder just edged above the covers, rising and falling gently as she breathed.  

It was so unexpected- so surreal still, and yet Jane found herself smiling quietly.  The moment hung perfectly there, before the questions set in, and life had to take some kind of order.  They’d be back at work soon, and there was only so long something could be kept just for themselves.  This morning however, was just that- for them and no one else.  

Jane brushed a lock of hair back from Maura’s eyes as she began to stir, reaching instinctively toward Jane’s warmth.  Her eyes opened, and Jane watched as she too realized it hadn’t been a dream,

“Good morning...”