"Hey," Jane said as she flopped onto the couch in Maura's office.
"Hi, Jane," Maura replied with a smile. She had been sitting behind her desk working on some recent reports on her laptop when Jane walked in. She gently closed her laptop before standing up and joining her friend on the couch.
"BPD is putting together a group to walk in the Pride parade next weekend," Jane explained, jumping right to the reason for visiting her best friend since she only had a few minutes before she had to get back to the bullpen. "It's not required for anyone, but Cavanaugh told me that the Chief of Police wants Boston's Hero cop to be there," she added, rolling her eyes.
"So, you were voluntold," Maura said with a smirk.
Jane laughed. "Yeah, I guess," she replied. "It's fine though. I don't mind going."
"It's a wonderful event," Maura said.
"You've been?" Jane asked, her face scrunched in confusion. She was wondering how she didn't know that Maura had been to one of these events.
"Yes, but not for years," Maura said. "I went to the parade and festival in college a couple of times as well as the first few years after I moved back to Boston."
"I've never been," Jane admitted.
"Did you know that the first Pride march in Boston took place in 1971? While New York holds the largest event in the country each year, the Boston parade and festival are among the most popular nationwide. I suppose that isn't surprising given Massachusetts history of being relatively progressive on issues of LGBTQ+ rights. However, early Pride events across the country were actually protests. Massachusetts decriminalized same-sex sexual activity in 1974 and was the first state to recognize same-sex marriage with the first marriage certificate being issued to a same-sex couple on May 17, 2004. This was well before same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide in 2015. Massachusetts was also the first state where the public voted in favor of transgender protections. Furthermore…"
"Okay, thanks for the history lesson," Jane cut in, her voice teasing, "but I have to get back to work. I just came down to see if you wanted to walk with us in the parade. We could go to the festival after…I mean, only if you want." Jane trailed off nervously, unsure of what Maura's silence meant.
Maura realized that she had been silent for too long when Jane's voice lost its usual confidence. She had been lost in thought about what Jane's invitation could imply. She hadn't expected Jane to be surprised that she had attended the event in the past, but it didn't seem like Jane was opposed to going, meaning it was unlikely that she was judging Maura for attending in the past.
The truth was, Maura had struggled with her sexuality since she was in high school. However, it wasn't something that she had ever discussed with Jane. Sure, they both made jokes about how much their relationship resembled that of a romantic couple, and they had always flirted over the years. But, despite this, they had avoided talking about the subject directly. Maura knew why she never brought it up, but she had often wondered why Jane never did. She had a few theories, but as someone who never guessed, she refrained from spending too much time thinking about the subject – well, she tried to refrain, at least.
"Y-yes," Maura replied quickly. "I would very much like to join you."
"Great!" Jane said, jumping up. "I'll send you the email with the details and we can figure out the logistics later. I actually think it's walking distance from your house."
Maura stood as well. "Thank you. I'm looking forward to it," Maura said honestly.
"C'ya!" Jane said, flashing Maura one of her signature smiles before leaving the office. Maura watched her go before turning back to her desk.
Maura was able to distract herself for the rest of the workday, but when she settled in her bed later that evening, her mind drifted back to Jane, the Pride parade, and her own untold history.
Maura wasn't sure why Jane's simple invitation had affected her so much. She knew that, in all likelihood, Jane just wanted a friendly face at the event. She knew it didn't mean anything. The problem was, she wanted it to mean something.
Maura had attended the equivalent of middle school and high school at a boarding school in Switzerland. On the surface, the school appeared to be very progressive. However, many of the students brought their old-world ideals along with their old-world money to the school. In other words, many conservative ideas were prevalent among the student body. This included significant prejudices against same-sex relationships and diverse sexual and gender identities.
Maura's parents had always been open-minded. They supported LGBTQ+ rights both politically and financially. They had raised Maura to be accepting and open to all kinds of relationships. However, her parents were rarely around during her childhood, which meant that as hard as she tried not to, she had somehow still internalized some of the fear instilled by her classmates.
Maura would never consider herself homophobic. She firmly believed that same-sex relationships should be treated the same as "traditional" relationships (and she hated the term "traditional" to describe male-female relationships). She believed that "love is love" and that people didn't choose their sexual or gender identities. She also believed that as long as they weren't hurting other people, everyone should be able to live the life they wanted and felt was right for them. She had had numerous friends and acquaintances throughout her life who identified as LGBTQ+.
Her issues came when she tried to identify her own sexual identity, and she wasn't entirely sure why. She knew it had to do with fear and her over-whelming desire to be accepted. Maura had never been very good at understanding people and that included herself.
At boarding school, a few of her classmates had been 'out,' but they were bullied terribly. Students who were suspected of being gay were also ridiculed relentlessly. While she had never been included in such conversations, she had overheard her classmates having prolonged discussions about who might be gay and warning each other to stay away from these individuals.
When she thought about her experiences growing up, Maura could now see her attraction to both boys and girls at least as early as age 13. However, at the time, her brain tried to 'rationalize' or explain away her interest in her female classmates. Her most common defense mechanism – for lack of a better term – was to convince herself that she was only looking at the other girls to compare herself to them, which of course was terrible in its own right.
It wasn't until she met Jane that she finally identified as bisexual, and it was like a floodgate opened. She still hadn't talked to anyone about it, nor had she dated any women, but when that final puzzle piece fell into place, so many things about her past made sense.
Maura rolled onto her side and grabbed her phone to check the time. She sighed. It was nearly 1am, and she needed to sleep. Not only did she need to go to the office tomorrow despite the fact that it was a Saturday, but she was also on call.
What Maura didn't know was that her best friend was also lying awake across town. Jane groaned as she buried her face in her pillows. She had been tossing and turning for a few hours now. When she had first thought to ask Maura to walk with them in the Pride parade, she hadn't thought much of it. Yes, she knew she had feelings for her best friend, but that was nothing new. The truth was, she always invited Maura to anything and everything that she could because she enjoyed spending time with her best friend, and this was no exception. However, Maura's hesitation had made her realize that maybe this wasn't the same. Inviting your best friend, who is not only the same sex as you, but whom you are also in love with to a gay pride event might have implications that Jane hadn't considered.
However, it wasn't the larger implications keeping Jane up tonight, it was her best friend's reaction. Jane had known that she was gay since she was 12 when she developed a huge crush on the only other girl on her baseball team, but at the same time, she had decided that coming out wasn't worth losing her family. Her father had made comments about "those people" throughout her entire childhood. Her catechism classes had drilled into them that being gay was a sin and that they would go to hell if they even lusted after another person of the same sex. She herself didn't believe that, but she did believe that if she came out, she would lose her family and the community in which she had grown up.
Marriage and kids had never been a life goal of hers anyway, so it was easier to lock that part of herself in a box and focus on her career. She had been with a few guys over the years, mostly to keep the rumors at bay, but she had never intended for them to go any further than a few months together. She threw herself headfirst into her job, and she loved it. She planned to dedicate her life to the force, and she believed that was be a life well lived. She was happy, and she didn't feel like she was missing out on anything – until she met Maura.
Maura. Dr. Maura Isles, Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Maura, her quirky, genius, kind, generous, amazing best friend. Maura Isles, the high-class socialite. Maura, the one person who made her reconsider all of her life choices. Maura Dorothea Isles, the only person Jane knew she couldn't live without. Maura, the love of her life.
And Jane was willing to give up everything for Maura, if only Maura wanted the same from her. Except Maura was straight. Not only was Maura straight, but she loved to gush about the guys she was seeing. Maura never failed to tell Jane every detail of her sex life, so Jane would know if Maura was attracted to women. No, Maura was straight. Jane was sure of this…or at least she was until Maura hesitated.
Yes, Jane was willing to come out if it meant she could be with Maura. She was willing to lose everything else, but she also knew she no longer would. Her mother had grown a lot since getting out from under her father's influence. Angela might struggle with the idea of Jane being with a woman at first, but Jane was sure that she would come around quickly – and she would come around even more quickly if that woman were Maura because Angela already loved Maura like a daughter. Her brothers were also a lot more accepting since they had left the shelter of their sheltered Italian Catholic community and seen more of the world. In fact, Jane was pretty sure both of her brothers already suspected Jane's feelings for her best friend. So, while Jane was willing to lose her family for Maura, she also knew that wasn't going to happen, and that meant the world to her.
But it didn't matter because Maura was straight…so why had she hesitated?