The bowels of the precinct were deathly quiet, the morgue empty save the bodies of the poor souls who could not leave. Jane sighed wearily as she peeked into the autopsy suite to see a painfully small shape lying on the cold metal table. The sheet that covered the body did little to lessen the horror of what lay beneath, and Jane had to force herself to look away. She hated that she did, but she was not there to try and save that little girl. Bella was beyond saving, now.
She was there to save another girl. She was there to save her girl.
The rubber soles of her running shoes landed with an ethereal silence on the linoleum floors as she made her way to Maura’s office. The golden light spilling from the Medical Examiner’s cracked doorway confirmed her suspicions regarding her lover’s whereabouts, and her heart clenched as she looked through the gap. Maura was slumped over her desk, left arm bent at a painful angle beneath her cheek, loose papers and open files serving as her pillow. The sleeves of her pale blue blouse were rolled to the elbow, the material wrinkled to the point that only a good dry cleaning could fix. Her hair was pulled back in a messy bun, her expression, even in sleep, anguished and determined.
They had all been working themselves to the bone to try and avenge the little girl who lay on the table in the other room. Cases involving children were always the worst. They were the ones that haunted dreams and drove detectives beyond the bounds of exhaustion and rationality in a search for justice. This case was no different. Jane had gone home only an hour before, desperate to lose herself in the reassuring warmth of Maura’s embrace, and was only mildly surprised when she found the house empty.
She knew that this particular case had wormed its way into Maura’s soul, lighting a righteous fire of determination inside her that was actually frightening in its intensity. The science did not add up, in this case, and Maura had taken that betrayal personally. She became obsessed with the idea that if she did something different, if she looked at the data a different way, if she just fucking saw whatever it was that she was missing, that they could solve the case.
Jane bit her lip as she reached out to run a gentle finger over Maura’s brow, and her heart stuttered in her chest at the way Maura’s expression smoothed beneath her touch. She still found herself utterly amazed that she had somehow managed to find somebody so perfect. So intelligent and beautiful, adorable and good-hearted.
“Sweetie,” Jane murmured, running a light hand down Maura’s arm. “Wake up, Maur.”
“Hmm?” Maura mumbled, blinking sleepily as she looked up at Jane with an unfocused gaze. “What are you doing here?”
“Bringing you home,” Jane answered simply, her lips quirking up in a small understanding smile.
Maura shook her head. “I can’t. I need…”
“To come home with me,” Jane finished for her. She shook her head and added softly, “There’s nothing here that won’t still be here in a few hours. You need to sleep, Maur.”
“I need to work,” Maura argued weakly.
“No, sweetie.” Jane shook her head. “You need to give that amazing brain of yours a chance to rest. Exhaustion has never solved a case. Believe me, I know.”
“Jane,” Maura sighed.
“Maura,” Jane countered, her tone gentle yet unyielding. “Just four hours. Come to bed for four hours, and then I’ll drive you back here myself.”
Even as exhausted as she was, Maura glanced at her watch, indecision plain in her expression. In four hours it would be seven a.m., and she was not expecting the latest toxicology reports back until eight. She looked up at Jane and, easily reading the concern evident in the brunette’s gaze, nodded. “Fine. Four hours, Detective.”
Jane smiled and held out a hand to help Maura up. “Deal,” she murmured, sighing as she pulled Maura into her and pressed the most tender of kisses to her lips.
They made the drive from the precinct to Maura’s house in silence, Jane too busy concentrating on the road that blurred in front of her sleepy eyes, Maura dozing fitfully beside her. They made their way upstairs in tandem, Jane’s arm wrapped lightly around Maura’s waist in case she should fall.
A feeling of tranquility swept over Maura as she stepped into the bedroom. She bit her lip as she surveyed the room, her eyes stinging with tears of frustration. She should not be here. She should not be at home, warm, safe, and sound, when there was a child, a goddamn child lying on her autopsy table who would never go home again.
“I need to go back to the office,” Maura muttered, slipping out of Jane’s one-armed embrace. “Please take me back.”
Normally, Jane would find a way to give Maura anything she asked. She would find a way to give her the moon and the stars, if that was what Maura truly desired. But not tonight. “Four hours, Maur. That was our deal,” she reminded her gently as she guided Maura back toward the bed. She shook her head, a thin brow arched defiantly against the wounded expression on Maura’s face as she began undoing the buttons on her shirt.
Maura shook her head. “I can’t…”
“You can,” Jane whispered, staring imploringly into Maura’s eyes as she slipped the shirt from her shoulders. “Four hours.”
“But there’s so much I–”
Jane shook her head and reached for the clasp of Maura’s pants. “Four hours,” she repeated, sliding the zipper down slowly. It took only a small push to guide the slacks over Maura’s hips until they puddled around her feet, and Jane smiled at Maura as she gently guided her down onto the bed.
“Jane,” Maura protested weakly, her eyes trained on the dark-haired detective who now knelt at her feet, tenderly pulling her shoes off and setting them to the side. Her slacks followed, folded neatly beside the shoes because Jane knew how much she would protest them being tossed mindlessly onto the floor, and Maura sighed softly as Jane’s fingers skimmed lightly over her calves to remove her socks.
She knew, in the back of her mind, that Jane was right. That she needed to sleep in order to function at her peak performance. But sitting on the edge of her bed, wearing nothing but a pale pink bra and matching panties, with her lover kneeling before her, eyes gentle and understanding, Maura felt like a traitor. It was utterly irrational, she knew, but she could not help but feel like she should not be seeking any kind of comfort at the moment.
She didn’t need to be comfortable. She needed to be what she always was–smart, smarter than everybody else, determined, and clinical. “I need–”
“To lie down,” Jane interjected as she ripped her shirt off over her head and tossed it blindly aside, not caring where it ended up or in what condition it might be in a few hours. Her trousers followed next, and then her socks, and she smiled sadly at Maura as she lifted the top sheet and comforter for her to slide beneath them. “Four hours, baby. Just give me four hours.”
Maura’s eyes raked slowly over Jane’s body, the clinician in her noting that the normally thin detective’s ribs were more prominent than usual. The determined set to Jane’s jaw was just as it always was, however, and she sighed as she complied with her request and slipped beneath the covers. “Happy?” she asked as she rolled onto her side so that she would be able to look at Jane as she tried to sleep.
“No,” Jane whispered, her voice cracking with emotion as she climbed in behind Maura instead of walking around to her side of the bed. She wrapped herself around Maura’s body, the blonde’s ass fitting tight against her hips, and sighed. “I hate seeing you so affected by a case.”
Wrapped in the arms of her lover, in the comfort of her bed, Maura’s heart seized as darkness bloomed inside her chest. She should not be receiving comfort. She should be working. Thinking. Hypothesizing. Testing. It was easier to keep the darkness of what had happened to little Bella from overwhelming her if she kept herself at a distance. If she made herself not feel. Cases like this had been so much easier to cope with before Jane. When she was, even by her own admission, an automaton regarding her work. Emotions did not solve cases. Science did. Evidence did. Emotions just made one blind to the facts.
Before Jane, she had no problem keeping everything and everybody distance. But now, now she felt too much. Always, constantly, too much, and she bit her lip to try and hold back a sob because, goddamn it, feelings like these fucking hurt.
Jane felt Maura’s body tremble, and she pressed a tender kiss to the back of her shoulder. “Shh. It’s okay.”
It really wasn’t, though, and Maura shook her head. “No, it’s not.”
The tears in Maura’s voice made Jane’s heart break, and she swallowed thickly as she pulled her in closer, tighter, trying to chase away the darkness that was haunting Maura. “Talk to me, Maura.”
“I–” Maura’s breath hitched in her throat. “I shouldn’t be here, being comforted by you, when Bella will never find comfort again. She’ll never feel her mother’s arms around her, she’ll never…” Her voice trailed off into a broken sigh.
Jane nodded, her lips brushing lightly over the surprisingly defined curve of Maura’s shoulder. That was an emotion she had more than her fair share of experience with. “You should be here,” she argued quietly. “You’re alive, Maur. It’s okay to feel. To need things. To take four hours for yourself just to sleep, because it’s the little things like sleep and food and comfort that make what we do bearable. Needing to be comforted does not make you weak,” she said, repeating verbatim the words that Maura had told her on countless occasions when their current roles had been reversed. “It makes you human.”
“It sucks,” Maura whispered, her voice cracking as she turned in Jane’s embrace and buried her face in the crook of the brunette’s neck.
Jane nodded. “It does.” She smoothed her hands over Maura’s back and sighed. “It really does.”
Maura let out a shuddering breath and pulled back to look Jane in the eye. Warmth and affection filled the brunette’s gaze, and she licked her lips as she leaned in to capture her lips in a slow, sweet kiss. The kiss was gentle, full of love and acceptance. It was not a kiss meant to arouse, it was one whose sole purpose was to both give and receive comfort.
It chased the blackness that was overwhelming her away like a torch wielded in the inky blackness of a moonless night. Love burned bright between them, filling the void that had settled inside Maura’s chest with warmth and light. She had felt this love before, of course, but never before had she found herself so affected by it.
Maura moaned softly and tangled her hands in Jane’s hair, letting the raven tresses thread between her fingers as she arched into her, seeking more of that warmth, that light, that reminder that there was still good in the world.
“I love you,” Jane whispered, her voice quiet and dripping with emotion as smoothed a gentle hand over Maura’s cheek.
“I love you,” Maura murmured, her eyes fluttering closed as she rolled onto her back and pulled Jane on top of her. “Kiss me again?”
Jane nodded and dipped her head down to claim Maura’s lips in another slow, sweet kiss. She hummed in surprise when Maura’s mouth opened beneath her, the blonde’s tongue slipping out to dance across her lips in a silent entreaty for more, but did not hesitate to give Maura what she so clearly wanted. She understood, because she had been there herself, many times before. Trapped in that place of hurt and darkness, desperation and despair, where the only thing keeping her tethered to the world was Maura: the taste of her kiss, and the feeling of her hands upon her skin.
Maura relaxed into the bed as Jane settled more fully atop her, and she groaned when a strong thigh pressed firmly against her. Need, hot and wet, shot through her, lighting up the darkness and chasing it to the very periphery of her soul. She rolled her hips against Jane, the movement inelegant and primal, full of quiet desperation, a broken whimper escaping her as Jane’s leg pressed just right against her. “Please, Jane.”
Having been on the other side of this dynamic before, Jane knew how much trust Maura was showing by letting her be the one to pull her back from the abyss, and her heart clenched as she asked, “You’re sure?”
“Yes.” Maura sighed at the feeling of Jane’s left hand snaking around her torso, and she arched up off the bed to allow Jane to remove her bra, her own hands busy working at the clasp of the brunette’s. A low moan rumbled in her throat when they came back together, skin against skin, and she sighed as Jane shifted, settling against her side as a hot, hungry mouth covered her own..
Fingers spiraled slowly around her breast with the lightest of touches, circling around and around, each circuit fractionally tighter as they kissed, and Maura gave herself over to the feeling of that touch. The gentleness of the caress pushed boldly at the darkness inside her, until Maura was aware of nothing but Jane.
“I love you.”
The words fell over Maura’s skin like the gentle beat of a butterfly’s wings, and swept through her soul with the force of a tsunami. She moaned, forcing her eyes open to look at Jane, and her breath caught at the unfettered love that she found shining back at her. “I love you.”
Jane nodded and rested her forehead against Maura’s as she slid her hand lower, skating over the toned expanse of Maura’s abdomen, until she slipped her hand beneath the waistband of her panties. Soft curls caressed her fingers as she pushed lower, and she smiled adoringly down at Maura as she dipped between warm, slick folds.
She collected what little arousal there was on her fingertips and began pressing light, broad circles over Maura’s clit, staring into her eyes as she started slowly working her higher. An entire conversation was had in a look as she teased the sensitive bundle, occasionally dipping lower to gather more slick heat on her fingers before resuming the same slow circular motion.
Maura rolled her right leg out to the side, inviting Jane to touch her everywhere, while her left hand began drawing light lines up and down the brunette’s spine in silent encouragement. Her eyes fluttered closed when Jane’s touch became more firm, and a low groan rumbled in her throat when Jane’s lips blazed a trail over her jaw to the sensitive hollow beneath her ear.
Soft lips sucked lightly against her throat as Jane’s touch sped, becoming more of a flicking motion than tight, concentric circles, and Maura moaned softly as pleasure radiated through her, hot, white heat spreading through her veins until every nerve ending in her body was suffused in warmth and bathed in light. Not one shadow of the darkness that had haunted her earlier remained in the face of such a loving onslaught, and when orgasm finally swept through her in gentle, trembling waves, she clutched at Jane as she gasped and rode out her release.
Once Maura grew still again in her arms, Jane pulled her hand from between Maura’s legs and pressed a tender kiss to her forehead. “Better?” she asked softly.
Maura nodded. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure,” Jane replied, winking playfully. “Really,” she added as she rolled onto her back and pulled Maura with her, so that she was cradling the blonde against her chest.
Maura smiled and pressed a lingering kiss to the defined ridge of Jane’s clavicle, letting the warmth of her lover surround her. “Four hours?”
“Four hours,” Jane agreed, reaching out to set the alarm.