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On Her Knees

Chapter Text

It was the buzzing of her phone on the nightstand that pulled Maura from her slumber, her girlfriend's arms tightening around her as she reached to answer it.  She opened her eyes enough to know it was just past four in the morning before pressing the phone to her ear.  "Dr. Isles."

"Rise and shine."  Agent Booth's voice had far too much energy for the hour.  "We've got a fleshy one."

"So Dr. Brennan isn't working this one."

"Not right now.  She said she'll meet you at the lab.  I'll send you the address."

As he hung up, Jane wrapped her arms tighter around the blonde, burying her face in the back of her neck.  "Mmmm, I don't miss those calls."

With an airy chuckle, Maura covered Jane’s hands with her own, taking some time to relish the moment.  “Thankfully I don’t get as many now.”  Dr. Saroyan’s return meant Maura was only on-call three days a week.  Pushing Jane’s hands away, Maura crawled out of bed and into their ensuite.  Once there she took a second to wake up, splashing water in her face and then putting on enough make-up to look human (as Jane would have said).  Putting on the outfit she’d hung up the night before, she decided to pull her hair back.  When she deemed her appearance acceptable, she left the bathroom and walked back over to the bed.  Jane had rolled over onto her back, her eyes fighting to stay open.  Leaning down, Maura pressed a kiss to her lips, her thumb running down the side of the brunette’s cheek.  “I’m sorry I can’t run with you this morning.”

Jane chuckled, the sound low with early-morning hoarseness.  “I don’t care about the run.  I want you to come back to bed.”  She pulled at Maura's arm, pulling her closer, making her have to use her other arm to make sure she didn't crush her girlfriend below.

"Jane, I have to go.  But I'm sure Brady would love to take my place."  The pooch stirred on his bed at the mention of his name.

"Brady can't take your place.  He licks my elbow and headbutts me."  Despite this fact, she tapped on the bed, inviting the dog up to lie beside her.  Brady took the time to prove it, licking her arm in a random spot and plopping down in the space Maura had occupied.  Giggling, Jane pulled Maura down for one last lingering kiss, her smile just visible in the darkness.  "Drive safe.  Love you."

"I love you, Jane."  She let her fingers linger with Jane's for as long as she could before separating.  Downstairs she grabbed her medical bag and the freshly washed Jeffersonian jumpsuit and headed out to her car in the garage.

In the nine months they had been dating, Maura was quite content with the life they were building for themselves.  They found an amazing three-bedroom home on the outskirts of the city, one with a two-car garage and a decent sized backyard.  With the help of a decorator, it had been painted to make it feel like home for both of them.  And a few months ago, they had rescued Brady, a pup that was not a labradoodle like his paperwork said, that Jane had stumbled upon on a Facebook rescue page.  "Look Maur!  His name is Brady, it's like he belongs with us!"  Given that Jane had mentioned only a few days earlier that she missed having a dog around, Maura had been thrilled to bring him home as a surprise that night.  Once Dr. Saroyan had returned and Maura was able to split her time, she really felt as if she had the best of both worlds.

The crime scene was by a lake, a high volume of trees providing some cover.  Agent Booth was waiting for her by the other parked cars.  He waved in greeting, turning to walk into the trees.  “Sometimes I wish that people would discover these bodies later in the day.”

Maura chuckled, following behind him.  “I’m in agreement.  I could have used an extra two hours of sleep.”

“I’ll take all the sleep I can get.  I’ve got a toddler who seems to be allergic to sleep.”

“If it helps, there are no known cases of an allergy to sleep.”  He turned to look at her as she spoke, his face stoic.  “But, some allergies can cause sleep disturbances.  Have you taken him to see an allergist?”

Shaking his head, he pulled ahead of her.  “You sound so much like Bones sometimes.”  Interpreting it as a compliment, Maura smiled as she walked up to the scene.

There wasn’t much she could determine at the scene.  Other than approximate age and gender, she hadn’t narrowed down an ID much at all.  His hands had been detached and his face was bloated from the water.  After taking vitals and a multitude of samples for Dr. Hodgins to analyze later, she released the scene and headed for the lab.

On the platform, Dr. Hodgins zoomed around collecting even more samples while Angela took pictures of the bloated face for her computer programs.  Maura and Dr. Hodgins went back and forth discussing their observations, narrowing the time of death window.  And when they had all they needed, the body was released to Maura for autopsy.

Traditionally when Maura was done with a body, it went to Dr. Brennan and her interns, who would clean it and lay out the bones.  Today, Angela asked her to come into her office before she was done.  Dr. Brennan was there as well, examining the photos Angela had taken.  With a hand on the small of Maura’s back, Angela brought her closer to the computer screen.  “I’m trying to get an ID.”  Picking up a controller, she walked through a program that reversed the bloating, leaving a distorted face.  “Any way you two could help would be great.”

Looking at photos, Dr. Brennan tried to adjust it for slight differences in bone structure.  Slowly, the face became more clear and defined.  “His hair is red, and he had sideburns,”  Maura added, watching as the photo became more clear.  “And given the amount of adipocere, he was likely overweight, that’s not just bloating from the water.”

“So make his face fuller?”

“Yes, that would be my suggestion.”

Angela nodded, making the adjustments and then starting to run it through facial recognition.  "We'll use dental records to confirm once I have a name."

"And I will be releasing the body to you within the hour, Dr. Brennan."  Maura turned to face the brunette.

With a sigh, she looked down at her watch.  "It will probably take the new interns all night to clean the bones."

"So are we still coming to your place for the game tonight?"  Angela raised her eyebrows in question, a soft smile on her lips.

"Yes.  Booth has been looking forward to this."  Dr. Brennan had turned herself away from Maura, sliding her hands into her pockets as she addressed her friend.  "Are you still bringing Michael Vincent?  Christine has been somewhat anxious to see him."

Before Angela could answer, Maura interrupted, earning a strange look from the Doctor as she turned to face her.  "Wait, what game is on tonight?"  She thought back to her interactions with Jane, who was always talking about some baseball series coming up.

"The All-star game.  Are you a baseball fan, Maura?"  The younger brunette smiled warmly, helping Maura feel at ease.

"Not me.  But Jane loves baseball.  I thought I was missing an important rivalry game or something."

Angela began bumping Dr. Brennan's shoulder with her own, her eyebrows raising as she thrust her chin forward in Maura's direction.  "Ange, why are you hitting me?"  The Doctor looked at her friend with confusion, despite her eye roll and more obvious hints.

"I was thinking, maybe you should invite Maura and Jane to join us tonight?"

Her brows furrowed, Br. Brennan continued to speak with her friend.  "Any time we host a game it's always open to everyone at the Jeffersonian.  I didn't think I needed to invite her."

"Sweetie, have you told people that it's open to everyone?"

"I thought it was implied."  She turned then, directing her icy blue eyes to Maura.  "You and your partner are welcome to come to my house to watch the sports game with Booth.  I'll send you the address."  She began walking out of the room.  "I'll begin preparing the bone room."

As she left, Maura let out air she hadn't realized she was holding.  Angela offered her a sympathetic smile.  The younger woman reminded Maura a little of Jane, mainly in the way that she could relate to almost everyone.  "I still can't tell where I stand with her."

"Oh, she likes you.  It would be worse if she didn't."  The woman laughed.  "And I didn't think it could get worse until I saw it with my own eyes.  No, Brennan thinks your work is competent.  She just needs a push when it comes to social interactions."

"I can understand that."  For years, Jane had been the one to help her, by inviting her out with others who would have otherwise ignored her, or telling her what was or was not appropriate to say.  "So she's fine with us coming?"

"Definitely.  She would have been more blunt if she didn't want you there."

"And should we bring anything?"

This made her pause.  "I'll check with Booth and let you know."

Maura nodded.  "Well thank you.  For the push and for the reassurance."

"Of course.  We'll see you tonight."  Angela shot her one last friendly smile before returning to her work, weeding through the pictures that were partial matches.  As Maura left Angela’s office, she shot a text to Jane, letting her know they could have plans tonight.  After releasing the body to Dr. Brennan, Maura sent emails with her findings to all involved in the investigation.  Checking her watch, she decided to grab something quick to eat on the way to the clinic.

After all their work was completed for the day, Jane met her in the car in a striped Red Sox tee, holding a shopping bag.  “I got two types of chips, and six types of dip.”

“Isn’t that overkill?”

“Well, I would have made bacon-wrapped tater tots, but I didn’t have much planning time!”  It made her laugh, how serious Jane got about game day food, and despite the somewhat serious look on her face, Jane laughed along with her.  “This was not the first impression I wanted to make!”

“Angela said we didn’t need to bring anything!”

“There is no such thing as too many snacks, babe.”  She punctuated this by pulling a baseball cap from an unknown location and placing it backwards on her head.

Maura watched her with mirth.  “I’m sorry.  I’ll plan better next time.”

Jane answered with a nod.  “You better!”  She then let out a chuckle through her nose, her face breaking into a wide grin when Maura reached over to whack her shoulder.

They pulled into the driveway of the address listed, Jane letting out a whistle as they looked at the gorgeous house in front of them.  Once out of the car, Maura laced her fingers with Jane’s and pulled her toward the front door.

It was Angela who greeted them at the door, her smile wide as she invited them in.  “You made it!”  She pulled them in, closing the door behind them before thrusting a hand out to Jane.  “I’m Angie.  I’ve heard so much about you!”

“Angela!  Yes, Maura told me you’ve helped her feel welcome.”  She held up the shopping bags.  “I brought chips and dip.”

Booth’s voice from across the room made them turn.  “Hey!  Did you get those scoop ones?”

“Do you think I’m some sort of amateur?  Of course I got the scoop ones.”  

Jane’s response made him grin, and he beckoned her over with his hand.  “You can put those right here.”  As she approached, he held out a hand.  “Booth.”

“Rizzoli.” She answered, shaking his hand before putting the bag of superior chips on the table.  Booth told her to help herself to a beer in the fridge before sitting down next to a boy that Maura didn’t recognize.  

As Jane started to make her way back over to Maura, Angela intercepted her, taking the time to point out the people in the room so Jane would know their names.  She then led her to the couch, where she sat down and started discussing lineups with Booth.  It shouldn’t have been surprising.  Jane had an easier time talking to new people, and as of this moment, she had Maura’s coworkers charmed.  As the game started, Maura made her way toward the other person in the room she was most familiar with.  With a wave, she greeted her old colleague.  “Cam.”  She gestured toward the boy standing next to her, who had to be about nine.  “Is this one of your sons?”

"Yes!  This is Jordan."  The boy offered a shy smile as she said his name.  "Jordan, this is Dr. Isles."

"Maura.  My friends call me Maura."  Jordan grinned once more before shrinking back further into the wall, avoiding Maura's gaze.  "Do you like baseball, Jordan?"

"Not really."  He glanced at Cam.  "I like spending time with all the smart people."

This made Maura laugh.  "I see.  Do you want to go into medicine?"

Meeting her eye, the boy shook his head.  "I wanna be an engineer."  As he spoke, Maura watched his grin grow wider and his shoulders settle, making him appear larger.

"So you must like your math and science classes?"

"Yes ma'am."

As Maura chatted with Jordan and Cam, she watched a young blonde girl appear from a bedroom, settling against Agent Booth's legs.  She watched Jane with inquisitive eyes.  Soon, the girl started talking to Jane, who took her attention away from the game and gave it fully to the child.  After a few minutes, the girl was leading Jane away by hand, pulling her to a room at the back of the house.  Maura watched her disappear, pointing and raising her eyebrows at Cam, hoping she would answer the questions she hadn't asked.  "That's Christine, Booth and Brennan's little girl.  She and Michael Vincent are working on puzzles in her room.  She's probably just showing off."  Dr. Brennan followed them, watching their interactions from the door.  Maura took the opportunity to eat some of the food that was on the table, filling a plate with vegetables from the platter.

Jane surprised her about ten minutes later, lanky arms grabbing her from behind.  "Whatcha got there?"  She asked before stealing a bell pepper from Maura's plate.

"The same food I grab at any game day event.  Are you surprised?"

"Yes.  Can't you tell?  I'm wearing my surprised face."  She looked at her with a blank stare until Maura chuckled, then pressed a chaste kiss to her dimple.  "I'm gonna go watch the game now that I saw the super-secret puzzle."

"You do that.  I'll come join you in a minute."

"Okay."  She kissed Maura's cheek once more and stole a cherry tomato before taking her space back on the couch.

Dr. Brennan joined Maura at the table, filling a plate that looked similar to her own.  She gestured to where Jane was sitting.  "Your partner seems to be fitting in well."

Maura nodded.  "Yes, she reminds me a bit of Angela.  A good judge of character."

"And she's good with children."

"Jane's nephew, TJ, is about Christine's age.  I think she misses him."

"It's possible."  The Doctor thought for a minute, her head tilting to the side.  "Are you two going to have children?"

The question made her pause, her mind flashing to the baby Jane had lost, and Maura's frozen eggs back in Boston.  It was a subject she had avoided bringing up.  "I'm not sure."

Her uncertainty seemed to confuse her colleague, her mouth drifting to one side as she took in Maura's face.  "Well, do you want children?"

"Yes."  She answered quickly, without much thought, her mind again drifting to her frozen eggs.

"Does Jane?"

This question was harder to answer.  Jane had lost a baby that she hadn't planned for, but one she was looking forward to raising.  Since then, the topic of their future children hadn't really come up.  "I'm not sure."

The awkward energy between them was palpable, and Maura could almost see Dr. Brennan trying to figure out how to respond.  If Maura was going to pull from prior experience, her response would be blunt and lack tact.  Luckily, as per usual, Jane came to her rescue.  "Babe!  Come here!"  Maura rushed to her, glad to be away from the uncomfortable situation.  Jane patted the small sliver of couch next to her.  "Sit with me."  But Maura gave in to the brunette's request, sinking so she was sitting both on the armrest and her girlfriend's lap.  Jane put a beer in her hand.  "You're my good luck charm."

Beside them, Maura heard Agent Booth snort.  "Mine's Christine, but she only likes hockey."

"Sucks to be you!"  Jane laughs, pulling Maura close.   Any other day, Maura would have delighted in the contact.  But the conversation with Dr. Brennan had her mind otherwise occupied.

Maura wasn't sure who won the game, just that Jane was happy.  As they said their goodbyes and gathered their things, she listened to Jane trash talk Agent Booth, and compliment him and Dr. Brennan on their home.  "Maur, your book needs to rake in some serious dough, because I think we need an upgrade."  She joked as they walked to the car, and Maura answered with a half-hearted chuckle.  Whether Jane noticed or not was unclear.  In the car, Jane started talking as soon as they pulled out of the driveway.  "I'm glad I finally got to meet some of your work friends.  Angela is as sweet as you describe her, Booth seems pretty cool, and Dr. Brennan is nice, although a little socially awkward.  And..."

"Do you want children?"  The question was out of her mouth before she could stop it, and the silence was deafening.  Glancing over, Maura could see Jane studying her, her eyebrows knotted together.

"Okay, so I can usually figure out what's going on when you blurt things out like that, but this time I'm lost."  She reached over to place a hand on Maura's thigh, a gesture that was usually calming.  "What's your train of thought?"

Maura tried to quiet her thoughts to figure out where to begin.  "Dr. Brennan told me you were good with children.  Then she asked me if we were going to have any.  And all at once, I realized that we haven't talked about it.  We haven't talked about whether or not you want kids since you lost your baby, Jane.  Part of that was me not wanting to push you, but now I'm starting to wonder whether I should have.  If you tell me you don't want children, what will that mean for the future of our relationship?  Can I be happy living a life without kids?  I mean, of course, I understand women can be happy and fulfilled without children, but..."

"Wait, wait, wait."  Jane's voice made her stop the rambling, and she noticed her heart rate had increased.  "What I'm hearing is that someone asked you a personal question, and now you're worried because we haven't talked about our future."

Taking a second, Maura answered in the affirmative.  "I think that about sums it up."

"So, do you want to have this conversation now?"

"I think that if we don't, I won't be able to stop thinking about the worst-case scenario."

"Which would be?"

Maura swallowed.  "Us going our separate ways."

Jane shook her head, crossing her arms over her chest.  "Nope.  I'm not okay with that."

This was reassuring to hear, and Maura breathed a tad easier.  "That's why I say ‘worst-case scenario,’ Jane."

"Is not having kids a deal-breaker for you?"

It was a position she hadn't thought about much.  Their lives were fulfilling, and would remain fulfilling without children.  But there was a part of her that thought it would be a wonderful adventure to be a parent.  "I don't think so.  I would rather have a life with you and no children, than a life without you because I decided to pursue motherhood."

Jane was quiet on the other side of the car, so Maura gave her some time to gather her thoughts.  "Kids and a family are tough subjects for me to talk about because I didn't allow myself to even think about them as a possibility.  With the hours I was working in Boston, I would have been absent a lot from their lives.  I remember waking up one night, when I was pregnant, freaking out about who would take care of the kid while I was working, or how I would afford anything if I couldn't pull the overtime I was pulling.  One of the things on my pro list about this job was that I would have more time for a family."

"So you want a family?"

"I mean, yeah.  But how feasible is it?"

"It depends on how you would want to do that.  There are still opportunities for us to have biological children at our age, but the risks are higher, and we are racing against time.  Adoption and foster care are also options, as is surrogacy."

When Maura glanced to her side again, she could see a soft smile stretching across Jane's face, her dimples just visible.  "You've been thinking about this for a while, huh?"

"I'd be lying if I said the thought hadn't crossed my mind."

Jane's hand returned to Maura's thigh.  "I'm sorry I wasn't open with you about this sooner."  She rubbed her hand in soothing patterns, the contact making Maura's anxiety levels decrease.  "Babe, You moved here to be close to me.  You adopted Brady because I said I missed having a dog.  I knew you were in this for the long haul.  I'm sorry you weren't sure that I was with you."

"You are with me?"  Her voice sounded small, and she was afraid to look to her side.  She stared ahead as she opened their garage door.

Jane's voice was loud in the enclosed space.  "Abso-fuckin-lutely!"  It made Maura laugh, the tension leaving her body.  "I couldn't leave you.  Not when we were attacked by an insane yogi, and not now."

Maura breathed as she turned off her car.  Squeezing Jane's hand, she offered her girlfriend a wide smile.  "I'm so relieved."

"Come here."  Jane's thumb traced lines on her cheek, sending shivers down her spine.  "I love you, Maura Dorthea Isles.  To infinity and beyond."

Maura felt her eyebrows knotting together.  "Jane, there is nothing beyond infinity, it goes on..."

"Oh, shut up and let me be cute!"  She leaned forward, their lips touching, the kiss soft at first, then slowly deepening.  Maura heard Jane moan, the sound traveling down her spine, and she reached up to cup Jane's cheek.

When they parted for air, she rested her forehead against the brunette's, locking eyes with her.  "I love you too, Jane."

Chapter Text

Maura was looking up fertility clinics.  Their talk the other day seemed to have spurred her on.  Jane hadn't decided what she wanted to do yet, if she wanted her eggs frozen, or if she wanted to carry.  But Maura was excited regardless.  She was talking about names, looking up reviews, and sharing websites almost daily.  It was adorable.

Maura sat on their couch, a white plush blanket over her lap, and a glass of white wine in her hand.  "This one looks like the best option.  It says on the website that they have experience with women of advanced maternal age."

"I'm sorry, what?"  Jane’s voice cut through the air around them as she stared at her girlfriend.

Hazel eyes popped up to look at her.  "Any pregnancy after age thirty-five is called that, Jane."

Taking a spot on the couch next to her, Jane looked at the website she had pulled up on her iPad.  "It doesn't make me feel any less old."

"We aren't old."  Maura took a sip of her wine.  "But pregnancies at our age come with more risks, such as higher blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and chromosomal abnormalities."

Jane blinked back at her, pulling the blanket so it covered them both.  "You know, traditionally people get married before they talk about knocking each other up."

It had been a joke, but it made Maura put down her iPad, looking at Jane with a curious look on her face.  "You want to get married?"

Jane chuckled.  "Didn't I say I was in this with you for the long haul?"

"Yes, but that does not have to involve marriage."  Her eyes studied Jane's face, as if she would find the answers she sought without Jane saying a word.

Jane found Maura’s hand, weaving her fingers around Maura’s more slender ones.  "Yes, I want to marry you someday.  Sitting on the couch talking about fertility clinics was not the way I planned on asking you, though, so can we please drop it?"

Jane watched the self-satisfied look flash across her face before being replaced with an appeased grin.  "Dropping it."  She picked the iPad up again, typing something new in the search bar.  Jane could see the hint of laughter on her face as she spoke.  "Do you think we would get married in Boston, or here?"

"Give me that thing."  Jane plucked the iPad out of the Doctor's hands, making her laugh.  "You've had too much wine to be Googling, babe."  At her laughter and struggle to reach the device, Brady barked, his head between them as he looked for attention.

"Jane, give it back!"

"No way!"  She tossed it to the other end of the couch, reaching instead for the remotes that were next to her.  "We're watching a movie until you sober up."  She placed the remotes in Maura's lap.  "It's your turn to pick."

The blonde rolled her hazel eyes, using the remote to queue up a documentary that Jane was sure would put her to sleep.  "I hate how that is such an easy way to redirect me."

Jane grinned, taking the time before she hit play to snuggle in closer to her girlfriend, already ready to use her as a pillow.  "I don't." Jane watched with her until her eyelids grew too heavy to stay open, her mind drifting to the hand rubbing soothing circles into her side.  It wasn't long before she gave in to her body's desires, falling asleep on the softness that was Maura.

She was awoken by the soft voice of her girlfriend, who stroked her face and adjusted her dark hair behind her ear.  "Jane, you're tired.  Let’s go to bed."

"But you're watching a movie."  Jane groaned, unwilling to stand up.

"I was trying to watch a movie.  But you were snoring in my ear."  She pulled the blanket off of them as she spoke, standing and trying to move Jane with a gentle pull.  "Come on."  

It was impossible to resist her, and in all honesty, Jane preferred sleeping in their bed.  So she let the Doctor pull her along, trusting her to guide her in a way that meant she wouldn't have to open her eyes.  In their room, she climbed under the covers and waited for Maura to join her so she could resume her position from earlier.  As she nestled her head above Maura's chest, the younger woman giggled.  "What's so funny?"

"It's just that, a few hours ago you hated the implication that we were getting old.  Yet here you are, exhausted, and asleep before ten."

"You shush."

She gasped.  "I can't believe you just shushed me, Jane!"

"I can't believe you called me old, Maura!"  They laughed together, the sound echoing in the room, making Jane feel warm inside.

As they settled, Jane's breathing slowing, Maura pressed a kiss to the top of her head.  "Sleep well, my love."  It was the only pet name Maura used, and when she did Jane swore she could feel her heart swelling.  This time was no different.  A smile on her face, she whispered her goodnight right as she lost consciousness.

Maura slipped out at five, muttering about a case and it being her turn again.  Her languid kiss goodbye and apologetic look told Jane that she didn't want to leave.  As usual, Brady took up the space Maura no longer occupied, licking Jane's shoulder this time before settling into her side.  Jane scratched him behind his red ear.  "I don't know why we play this game, boy.  We both know I'm not going back to sleep."  The dog only looked at her and raised one eyebrow, as if he could understand her.  He then settled his head down, his eyes closing as she stroked him.  "But you will."  As she pet him, Jane's mind played over their conversations from the last few days.

Maura wanted a commitment.  Maura wanted to get married.  Maura moved to DC to be closer to Jane, and brought home a dog to add to their family.  The most Jane had done was meet with the decorator so their house would feel like it belonged to both of them.  Jane needed to do more.  She needed to take the next step.

Grabbing her phone, Jane started looking up jewelry stores the same way Maura had been looking up fertility clinics.  And then she started looking at pictures of rings.  She started learning the difference between stone cuts.  And after a quick text to an Academy friend, she started planning.

Moreno was waiting for her in his car several hours later outside the highest ranked jewelry store in the area.  When he saw her pull in, he put on a bright blue baseball cap before getting out of his car.  Shaking her head, Jane pointed to it as she approached.  "What's with that getup?"

"My girl has friends everywhere."  He waved a finger on each hand around in circles.  "If she finds out I was here, I'm done for."

He grinned, wide-eyed and joyful, and Jane couldn't help but chuckle.  Luis Moreno was like her, a hotshot from his field office in Chicago promoted to Instructor and moved to Quantico.  The only difference was that he was about ten years younger than her.  She turned her head to face him as they walked in.  "How long have you two been together?"

"Since high school."  He fell into step beside her.  "I may be working on a plan.  But I don't want to get her hopes up too soon."

"High school?"  Her voice went up as she confirmed, waiting on his sheepish grin, his hand rubbing the back of his neck.  "Maybe coming along would be good for you."

"Trust me, I'm looking forward to the day that I can call Gabi my wife."  As they walked into the store, he looked down at a jewelry case, his eyes widening.  "I just don't have that kind of cash yet."

"This is probably the one thing I can thank Alice Sands for."  Without the insurance money from her condo, Jane may not have been able to make a purchase like this for quite a while.  Moreno nodded at her, seemingly unsure what to say.  Everyone at Quantico knew the story.  Jane told it to recruits, as a cautionary tale, and to remind them to compete with themselves and not with others.  Jane met the young man's eyes, breaking into a wide grin.  "You can laugh, Moreno, it's a joke."  His shoulders relaxed at that, and he let out a breath that somewhat resembled a chuckle.  Turning away, Jane headed for the large glass case, her friend not far behind her.

An older man with a brown combover and black button-down shirt approached.  He stood across from her with his knuckles on the top of the case.  "What are we looking for today?"

"An engagement ring."  Jane had found a display and was inspecting them all, she hadn't looked up to meet the associate's eyes yet.

"It's always nice to see couples in here picking out a ring together."  This made her head snap up and Moreno jump another foot away.

It was Luis who spoke first, his hands coming up like he was professing his innocence.  "That's not what's happening here."  At Jane's strange look, he repeated the motion of his hands from outdoors, whispering, "everywhere."  It made her chuckle.

Turning back to the associate, Jeremy, she continued.  "I am looking for a ring for my girlfriend."  She pointed to her friend over her shoulder.  "And he is window shopping for when he's ready to propose to his."

The man let out a sigh of relief.  "Oh thank goodness."  He must have seen the confusion on Jane's face because he continued.  "I've been doing this a long time.  I can usually tell how well a couple will work out, and you two had zero chemistry."

"He's here for moral support and for me to bounce ideas off of.  That's it."

Jeremy nodded, moving down to a different section of the case.  "Sounds good to me.  Tell me about your girlfriend."

Jane could talk about Maura until the sun rose the next day.  Their years of closeness preceding their romantic relationship meant that Jane was closer to Maura than she was to anyone.  She knew her deepest secrets, she'd seen her when she was at her lowest, had helped her when she was most vulnerable, and had celebrated some of her largest milestones.  So it was frustrating that the first words out of her mouth were, "She's gorgeous."

Jane could see Moreno's hand over his face out of the corner of his eye, while Jeremy shook with laughter in front of her.  "I'm gonna need a bit more than that."

"Right.  Sorry."  She offered the salesman an apologetic smile before letting her thoughts drift back to Maura.  "She's got this soft elegance that's breathtaking.  And she exudes confidence.  In everything she does, at work, at home, she's so sure of herself."Jane found that Maura's confidence was one of her sexiest attributes, but she had learned from her previous gaffe not to voice that out loud.  "She's got this huge beautiful brain.  She's absolutely brilliant.  Anything I ask her, she knows or knows where to find the information.  She never makes me feel inferior for not knowing things, either."

Jeremy nodded, taking it all in and picking out a few options.  "How long have you two been together?"

"Officially, nine months.  But we were best friends for years before realizing we'd caught feelings."  Flashing in her head was Maura's face in a series of subtle looks or demure smiles.  Sometimes she wished she could turn back the clock and have more time.

"And tell me about some of her jewelry preferences."

This is where Jane balked.  "Fancy?"  She offered another apologetic smile.  "She could come in here and probably school you on the brilliance of these diamonds, the best metal alloy, and tell you some story about how the specific type of ring led her to catch a killer once.  All I know about jewelry is that it looks pretty.  I'm sorry."

Jeremy took this in stride, laying out a few options.  "Let’s start with this.  Is she a gold or silver person?"

Jane pictured the small jewelry box that sat on their dresser.  "She tends to wear jewelry that matches her outfits.  Most recently I’ve seen her pick out a lot of rose gold, though."

"Excellent choice."  He pulled out a few more options and laid them in front of her.  "Tell me what you think."

Moreno moved closer, pointing to one with a large stone surrounded by smaller ones.  "That one is gorgeous."

Jane considered it.  "It is.  But it’s also a lot."  The band was chunky as well, giving it a larger than life presence.  "Maura tells me all the time that less is more, though.  I think this would be too much for her."

Her friend nodded.  "You're right.  It may be perfect for Gabi, though."

"I told you that coming here would give you ideas!"  She laughed, nudging him with her elbow as Jeremy pulled that one and a few others away.  As he put them back in their displays, his thumb brushed one still below.  "Jeremy, that twisted one."  She pointed.  "Can I see it?"

Pulling it out, he placed it in the palm of her hand, moving the rest of the pieces down below.  The ring was a pleasant rose gold color, a square shaped diamond in the center.  Along the sides, the band split into two twisted strands, one strand with smaller diamonds, one without.  A roughness and smoothness that complimented each other so beautifully.  "I think this is the one."

"Are you sure?"

Jane nodded as she handed it back to him.  "I'm sure.  Maura will love it."  She fished in her pocket, finding the Claddagh ring she had taken out of Maura's jewelry box that morning.  "This is one of hers.  Can you find out the size from it?"

"She wears this on her ring finger?"  At Jane's nod, he smiled.  "Perfect."He took some measurements, wrote them all down on a small slip of paper along with all Jane's information.  She then paid for the ring with the cash she'd withdrawn from her savings, chuckling as she watched Moreno's dark eyes grow.  After passing the ring to one of his associates, Jeremy reached out to shake Jane's hand.  "It was a pleasure working with you, Miss Rizzoli. I'll give you a call once the ring is sized and you can come to pick it up.  I hope everything works out in your favor."

"You and me both."  She grinned as she shook his hand, letting out a breath she didn't know she was holding.  "Thanks for your help."

Jeremy shifted his attention to the younger man behind her.  "And you,"  he held out his hand, which Moreno took hesitantly, "I hope to see you in here soon."

"I'm gonna have to moonlight or something."  This made the associate chuckle, pulling away to move toward another customer who had just walked in.  As they left, he nudged Jane with his elbow.  "But seriously, Rizzoli, where am I supposed to get that kind of cash?  And how am I supposed to hide it from her?  We have a house to run, a kid to raise, and it's not like the academy offers us overtime!"

"I don't know, Moreno!  Start driving around as an Uber, or get a job as a bouncer a few nights a week."  She stopped to lean against his car, letting him work through his crisis.

"I'm not kidding when I say she has friends everywhere."  His face was serious, his hands running through his sleek brown hair as he stared at her like she would have the answer.

"Does Gabi have friends that are lesbians?"

This seemed to make him pause, his eyes moving as he thought.  "I don't think so."

Grinning, Jane pulled out her phone.  "Maura and I go to this bar right outside the city every once in a while.  They're looking for a weekend bouncer."

"That's great, but I don't know how I'd get away."

"Tell her we're training some recruits about nighttime firearm usage."  She watched his shoulders relax.  "The bar closes at one, so you can just say you made sure the recruits made it back to base safe and finished up paperwork.  Drop my name if you want, I'll vouch for you."

He let out a breath, his shoulders dropping and his head lolling to one side as he walked to join her against the hood of his car.  "You think of everything."  Jane chuckled, still holding Maura's Claddagh ring between her fingers as she stared straight ahead.  "So how are you gonna ask her?"

Jane took a breath, looking away from his inquisitive eyes.  "I'm still figuring that out.  I have when down.  But the how is harder."

"So...  When are you gonna ask her?"

She smiled, running her thumb over the heart.  "When we moved here, Maura promised me that we would go back to Boston once a year so I can still watch a game at Fenway."  She grinned as she remembered that conversation, three days after Maura had moved while they were still living in her tiny apartment made smaller by the addition of Maura’s things.  They both were homesick and missing the charm of the city they knew like the back of their hands.  “Maura’s not big on baseball, so I also promised her I would take her to a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert.  This year, both of these events are scheduled about two weeks after our anniversary.”

“So you’re gonna ask after the concert?”

She shrugged.  “Or at the dinner right before.  Or  right before we walk inside.”  She looks at him.  “This is what I mean when I say that the how is harder.”  She put the ring in her pocket and stood.  “Plus, I kinda want to fuck with her.”

This made Luis shake his head, his eyes rolling.  “Why would you want to do that?”

“Because she called me old last night.  And because we tease each other all the time.”  She shrugs.  “I wore a fringe jacket around for days just to drive her nuts.”

He laughs then, crossing his arms and studying her.  “So what’s the plan?”

“I’m not sure yet.”  She crossed her arms at her stomach, thinking.  “I saw a video online of a guy who tried to take as many pictures of his girlfriend with the ring right behind her as he could.  Which was cool to watch afterward, but she didn’t know he was messing with her in the moment.  I want Maura to know I’m messing with her.  I want her to roll her eyes and call me a jerk, then playfully push me away when I try to pull her in for a kiss.”  The daydream alone was enough to make her smile, her stomach flipping as she pictured Maura’s face.

Moreno pushed himself off the hood of his car, twirling his keys around his finger.  “I don’t know why she puts up with you.”

With an airy chuckle, Jane shook her head, backing away.  “I don’t know why either.”  She waved.  “I’ll send you that info.  See you later, Moreno.”

“Thanks, Rizzoli.  Give Maura my best.”  With a wave, he stepped into his car, starting it as Jane reached hers.  She sat in hers for a few minutes, contemplating the magnitude of that purchase.  A flurry of anxious thoughts were buzzing in her head, ranging from whether or not Maura would even like the ring, to worrying about Maura seeing the proposal coming.  Jane wanted it to be perfect, because Maura deserved nothing less, but worried she wouldn’t be able to pull it off.  Taking a deep breath, Jane pulled out of the parking lot and headed home.

Maura was waiting for her, curled up on the couch with a book.  “Where were you?”

“Moreno called, he needed help moving a couch.”  The lie had been rehearsed just in case.  Jane plopped down on the couch next to her, leaning down to pet the dog that was laying on the floor at her feet.  “He sends his best.”

“That man is sweet.”  She used her bookmark and looked up, placing the book on the coffee table.  “Tell him, ‘Hi,’ from me the next time you see him.”

“He told me he doesn’t know how you put up with me.”

“I agree, I don’t know how I put up with you.”  Her dimples showed with her devilish grin, and even Jane had trouble pretending she was offended.

“I’m not the one that called you old, Maura!”

The Doctor scoffed.  “I didn’t call you old.  I merely pointed out that you were exhausted and asleep early.”  She didn’t have time to dodge the pillow Jane threw at her.  It hit her square in the face, making her laugh, Jane’s heart leaping at the sound.  “I take it back,” she began, pushing the pillow to the side and moving to stand, “you’re a child.”

“I’ll take ‘child’ over ‘old’ any day.”  Jane watched her move to the kitchen, pulling down ingredients, cutting boards, and a pan.  Brady followed her at first, sniffing around her feet until she shooed him away.  He padded over to Jane with his head down, sitting next to her with a sigh as if he’d just experienced the worst rejection.  Maura turned on the radio, singing along as she prepped dinner.  It was one of those rare moments that Jane alone got to see; Maura completely comfortable, singing, while doing a menial task.  Similar to Maura sleeping peacefully with a smile on her lips.  Or Maura giving in and letting the dog sleep on the bed, laughing as he licks her face.  Or Maura when she’s excited to share something interesting she learned.  Jane loved the big moments with Maura, but she wanted more of the smaller ones.

Standing up, Jane made her way to the kitchen.  She took a moment to wrap her arms around her girlfriend from behind, pressing a kiss to her dimpled cheek.  “What was that for?”

Jane looked into her hazel eyes, struck again by her beauty.  “I just really love you.”

Maura’s face melted at her words, revealing a brilliant smile that warmed Jane from the inside out.  “I really love you, too.”  She leaned up, meeting Jane’s lips in a long kiss, and all she could think was that this was meant to be, and she couldn’t wait to ask Maura to be her wife. 

Chapter Text

The sun crept through the curtains in the early morning, the soft light giving Jane's sleeping form a warm glow.  Her hair was a wild mane against the white pillowcases, her face serene.  Maura almost hated to wake her.  "Jane."  She spoke with a soft voice, her hands rubbing up and down on her girlfriend's arm.  "Jane, are you awake?"

Brown eyes popped open, her eyebrows scrunched up as she yawned.  "Mmmm, not if I don't have to be."

"We need to get a long run in this week."

The brunette groaned, stretching out and turning onto her back.  "Why not tomorrow?"

"I'm on call tomorrow.  If I catch a case I won't have time."  At her explanation, Jane sighed, pushing away the blankets and sitting up.  Her hands came up to rub at her eyes.  "I'm sorry to wake you.  I just thought you'd like to go before it got too hot."

"No, you're right.  It's okay, baby."  She offered a forgiving grin.  "Give me a minute.  I'll meet you downstairs."  At this, Maura leaned forward, pressing a kiss to her forehead before standing and leaving.

Downstairs she laced up her shoes and let Brady out while she waited.  She was happy she didn't need to remind Jane that training was her idea.  She had approached Maura back in May about running a half marathon with some of her Academy friends.  "They run every year, they even invite the recruits."  She told her about it while cooking them dinner, adding tomato sauce to the sausage, peppers, and onions that she was heating in the skillet.  "And I thought maybe we could raise money for a charity."

"Like Professionals for Underprivileged Kids of Excellence?"

Jane had wrinkled her nose.  "Maur, I don't want P.U.K.E. on my chest again."  Maura had giggled at her facial expression, giving her full attention.  "I was thinking more along the lines of GLAAD.  Or the Human Rights Commission."  She stirred the concoction together, her eyes downcast as the words hung between them.  It had been the first time Jane suggested doing something extracurricular related to her sexuality.

Maura waited for her to look back up before speaking.  "Are you sure?"

"Well, yeah.  I mean, we are in a same sex relationship.  And you are bi, and I am decidedly... not straight."  She shrugged during her pause, her hesitance to label herself a known dilemma.  "I feel like we should be trying to give to a community we are a part of.  Neither of us are underprivileged children."

"Very true."  Maura had stood then, walking over and pressing a kiss to her cheek.  "This sounds like a wonderful idea, Jane."  The brunette had grinned at her words before returning her focus to dinner.  "We'll have to train, though.  It shouldn't be too hard,  just one extra short run a week and a long run once a week as well.  Nothing we haven't done before."

"I will leave you in charge of that schedule, Dr. Isles."

Maura had giggled.  "It would be my pleasure."

Creating a training schedule had been difficult.  While Jane's schedule was fixed, Maura's was fluctuating at first.  Especially while Dr. Saroyan had been on her leave, as Maura was working two jobs demanding of her time.  That, coupled with the fact that Jane wasn't fond of waking early to run, made things tough.

The brunette soon made herself known, thundering down the stairs, a pair of socks grasped in her left hand.  Judging by the bumps, Maura could tell her hair was pulled back with haste.  Jane yawned as she pulled on her shoes at the island and for a moment, Maura felt guilty for waking her.  But as Jane turned to face her, her face soft despite her exhaustion, Maura felt her anxieties melt away.  "I'm ready when you are."

Maura grabbed two bottles of water as they left their house, waiting for Jane to tuck away the key before handing one over.  Then they began their jog, starting at a conversational pace.  Turning off their road and onto one of the main roads, they stayed side by side on the walkway.  "So you aren't on call today?"

Maura shook her head.  "No.  But I do have to go to M.E.N.D. this afternoon and finalize payroll.  I'm not expecting to see any patients, though."

"Okay."  Jane's voice had a slight hitch in it as they ran.  "Do you want to do something tonight?"

"Like what?"

Jane shrugged.  "I don't know.  We could go out to eat.  We could go see a movie.  Or maybe go to Nine Lives?"

Maura's head snapped up at the mention of the bar.  "We haven't been to Nine Lives in a couple of weeks."

"Do you want me to text Hallie and Shay?"

Maura smiled as she thought of the two women who helped them feel welcome in the city.  "That sounds nice."

"I can get in touch with them as soon as you're all done with M.E.N.D."

"Okay."  Maura turned then, leading them into a park.  They followed the walkways here too, Maura glad it wasn't yet crowded.  "Speaking of M.E.N.D., next month, Hope wants to visit."


"She wants to see the clinic all set up, and check in with the employees.  And she'd love to have dinner with us."

"So you want to set up the guest room?"

Maura hesitated, unsure of her answer.  "Is that alright with you?"

The brunette turned her head, offering a small smile.  "Maur, she's your mother."

"She's my birth mother."  The correction was almost automatic now, and she didn't have to turn to see her girlfriend rolling her eyes.

"She is a mothering figure in your life who just happened to give birth to you."  Jane stopped talking and moved behind her for a moment as someone else came running from the other direction.  When she had settled again at Maura's side, she continued.  "I don't call Constance your 'adoptive mother.'"


"Both Constance and Hope love you unconditionally and would do anything for your safety and happiness."  She turned her head, watching how Maura was taking this all in.  "They're both your mothers.  You have two."

Maura smiled softly back at her.  "I believe I have three."  Her mind drifted to the loud Italian back in Boston, the one who'd claimed Maura as her own years prior.

"You're not wrong."  She took a swig from her water bottle.  "Constance and Hope will never love me the way Ma loves you."

"My mother and Hope care for you deeply."

"Yeah, but if the worst happens and we ever break up, Ma will claim you in the divorce."

Maura couldn't help but giggle, the sound airy due to the exertion.  "Jane, I don't think that's how this works."

"Trust me, that's how it's gonna work.  Your three mothers will have your back, and I would be all alone."  She paused, leading them down a different path in the park.  "You know, I'm not sure if I should be jealous, or if I should feel sorry for you."  At Maura's puzzled expression, she continued.  "I wouldn't want all those mothers meddling in my business.  The one that I have is more than enough."

Jane's words were sometimes confusing.  The way she spoke about her mother and the way she acted around her did not match.  Considering that she did not have a normal relationship with either her mother or Hope, she didn't have much to compare Jane's experiences to.  Which is why she found herself asking, "Do you think our children will dislike us as much as you dislike Angela?"

"I don't dislike my Mom."  Her voice was firm and clear, her head turning to look at Maura, her eyes concerned.  "You think I don't like my Mom?"

"I don't know how to describe how you feel about Angela.  In person you let her hug you, and mother you, and you listen to her advice.  But you've made statements about her that don't match."

"That's because she's intense.  And nosy.  And she meddles too much.  I can still love her if she drives me nuts, Maur."

Maura nodded, showing she was understanding.  "Makes sense.  I still love you."

"Hey!"  The brunette reached over and pushed her, knocking her off the path for a few seconds.  But as Maura regained her footing she could hear her girlfriend laughing, her hand reaching out to help steady her.  "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine."  For good measure, Maura pushed her back.  When Jane settled back next to her, Maura started a new conversation.  "Agent Booth asked me where I've been hiding you."

"Oh, did he?"

They continued their run, talking about work, Jane's lesson plans, and their upcoming trips back home.  After two hours zig-zagging in the park, Jane started complaining of a cramp and they stopped at a bench.  Maura took some time to stretch, finishing the last of her water.  "We might as well walk home.  We're almost there, and the park is getting too crowded to keep running."

"You'll get no complaints from me."  Jane finished her water, taking both of their bottles and dropping them in a recycle bin along the path.  She fell into step beside Maura, glancing at her watch.  "So what's the plan?  What time were you planning on popping into M.E.N.D?  Do you want to shower first at home?  Or do you want to shower together?"  Her eyebrows rose up and down in a suggestive manner, and Maura could feel the heat rising to her cheeks.

"Jane!"  She hissed, "we are in public!"

"Oh please, no one's listening!"  She bumped the blonde with her shoulder, her face beaming as Maura's turned red.  "But seriously, babe, what's the plan for today so I can let Hallie and Shay know when to expect us?"

She faced forward as she spoke, envisioning the day in the air in front of her.  “I thought I would go to M.E.N.D. around noon, and get started on the managerial tasks, finalizing payroll and ordering supplies.  I also need to have a meeting with Jessica, the new RN.  Some patients have complained that she’s harsh when she talks.  I think that’s just her, but we need a plan in place to work on her bedside manner.”  As she spoke, she noticed Jane falling into step just behind her, out of her field of vision.  Figuring she would catch up in a few moments, Maura continued.  “Also, Taryn wants to have a meeting, about what I’m not sure.  But I expect I’ll be home before dinner, so we can meet them for drinks any time after that.”

“Maura?”  Jane’s voice came from behind her, making the Doctor turn her head.  What she saw made her mouth drop.  Jane was down on one knee, her hands held out covering something.  Her dimples accentuated her brilliant smile, as her eyes followed the Doctor’s every move.  Maura felt her hands come up to cover her mouth, her feet locked in place.  “Can I ask you something?”  Everything in her peripheral vision blurred as she nodded in response.  Her movements agonizingly slow, Jane raised the top hand to reveal a rock.  As it happened, Maura found herself more confused.  The rock fit into Jane’s palm, and was oblong and flat.  It had been painted pink, a message spelled out in teal lettering.  “Is this not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?”

It took Maura a moment to react, a moment to calm herself down, Jane’s stance obviously meant to elicit a response from her.  But the glint of mirth in her girlfriend’s dark eyes made her laugh as she settled, walking forward to get a closer look at the rock.  “Jane, it’s grammatically incorrect.”  The letters painted on spelled out ‘ur cute’, in that typical bubble writing teenage girls tended to have.

“It’s so adorable, though!”  She dropped in in Maura’s outstretched hands as she stood, her hand falling to the Doctor’s lower back as they continued their walk side by side.

Her finger tracing the letters, Maura agreed.  “It has a juvenile charm to it.”  She leaned back into Jane’s hand.  She felt the heat creeping back into her cheeks.  “I have to admit, I thought that was going in an entirely different direction.”

“How so?”  Her voice sounded timid, and Maura could feel her hand stiffen as she spoke.

“Jane Rizzoli, you know exactly what I thought you were doing.”  Her head snapped to the side to watch her girlfriend react.

“Are you mad?”

Brown eyes met hers, searching for the answer to her question.  After a beat, Maura shook her head.  “I’m more confused than angry.”

Jane chuckled.  “I’m surprised you thought, even for a second, that I would propose in a park while we were all sweaty.”  Her grin came back, the mischievous one, her head facing forward as she led them home.  “I know you well enough to know you’ll want to be dressed to the nines when I propose.”


“Well, I’m not gonna tell you when!”

Shaking her head, Maura pressed herself into the brunette’s side.  “No, I mean, you said when.  So you have a plan to propose?”

“Yes.  Mostly.”  It made Maura’s stomach jump to hear the words out loud.  “But I don’t want you to see it coming.”

“Hence, the show with the rock back there?”

“The rock was an added bonus.  I planned on just telling you I needed to tie my shoe.”  She could hear the grin in her girlfriend’s voice without having to look at her.  And despite the ridiculousness of it all, she had to chuckle along with her.  It was so very Jane of her, to tease her in this way, to make her wonder what was going on, yet still make sure she was okay.  “So you’re not mad?”

“I am not.”  Maura confirmed, taking a moment to watch Jane’s profile as they walked.

“Good.  I’ll keep that in mind.”  Her hand fell then, reaching out to wrap her fingers in Maura’s.  “Because I really don’t want you to see the real thing coming.”

They turned onto their road.  “Should I be anticipating more fake proposals in my future?”

Grinning, Jane released her hand.  “A magician never reveals her secrets, Maur.”  She then took off running down the road.  “Last one in the shower is a rotten egg!”

“Jane!  I have the key!”  Laughing, she chased the brunette down the road, ignoring the ache in her muscles.  Once inside, Maura placed the pink rock on the counter next to the bowl where they put their keys, before following her girlfriend up the stairs.

Chapter Text

Jane could always hear the dog on the other side of the door when she came home.  He whined and barked, his claws making noise on the hardwood, and drawing commands from the Doctor inside.  When Jane came in, Brady would sit, his tail wagging as he pressed his body against her.  "Hey, bud!  Did you miss me?"  He tried to scooch closer as she spoke, leaning into her scratches.  Jane pat his side and pointed.  "Well go get me a toy!"  Maura's laughter from the kitchen sent warmth to Jane's stomach as Brady returned with a long rope with three knots tied in it.  They played tug of war for a bit in the doorway until Jane let go and Brady walked away, triumphant in his perceived win, to lie on the floor and chew it to pieces.

Shaking her head, Jane joined Maura in the kitchen, pressing a kiss to her cheek.  "How was your day?"

"Uneventful."  She stirred her creation in the pot, which smelled delightful (though Jane had learned never to ask what she was making), before leaning back into the brunette's embrace.  "Which I have to admit, I've come to enjoy."

"Mmmm.  I mean, sometimes I miss the thrill of chasing a suspect, the collaboration between my team as we solve a case."  She nuzzled her head on Maura's shoulder.  "But I've learned that different isn't bad.  And to enjoy the uneventful days."

"Who knew that it would take the FBI to tame Jane Rizzoli?"

"I know, right?"  They laughed, separating, Jane moving to the cabinet to get a glass for water.

The dog, sensing they were making dinner, started peeking his head around the island, begging for a morsel.  But Maura stopped that behavior, shooing him away.  "Don't act all innocent, Brady.  You are not starving."  He sulked away, sitting just outside the kitchen area, still close enough to see what was going on.

Jane watched the exchange with curiosity, watching as Maura went back to casually stirring the pot.  "What was that about?"

"Oh, I didn't tell you what your dog did today?"  She raised an eyebrow as she addressed the brunette, her voice somewhat harsh.  "He ate my bagel.  It was on the table, I walked away for a second, and when I came back it was gone."

Jane couldn't help but giggle, her eyes drifting to the dog who was watching them with a guilty look on his face.  "The whole bagel?"

"Yes.  Your dog ate the whole bagel."

Walking forward, Jane placed both her hands on the blonde's shoulders.  "I hate to break it to you, babe, but technically he's your dog."  She silenced Maura's protests with a kiss on her cheek.  "Yours is the only name on his paperwork."

After living in DC for five months, Jane had started following several businesses on Facebook, trying to learn what was going on, to find things to do in her free time.  On one of the pages, people had been sharing posts from a local animal shelter.  Before Jo, Jane never considered herself a dog or cat person.  They had only ever had one dog and one cat growing up.  Her Ma had a cat named Muffin that died when Tommy was in diapers.  Jane's experience with Muffin was limited, and included petting her until she decided she was done and ran away.  She wasn't warm and fuzzy, curling up on your lap to feel close.  She was just there.

Then there was Peach.  Peach was her Grandmother's pomeranian.  Peach was nasty, growling and biting anytime the kids came to visit.  She'd sit under the kitchen table and attack them, hoping for food.  When Jane was a teenager and her Grandmother died, Angela inherited Peach.  She didn't seem to get any less evil while living with them, creating a home for herself under their table and taking several chunks out of all of her siblings' legs.  It was two years before Peach was rehomed and Jane decided then that she would never have another dog.

Jo was different.  She didn't snarl or bite.  She was always excited to see Jane when she came home.  And in some ways, she made Jane slow down.  It was hard to pull a 36-hour shift knowing she had a dog in her apartment that needed relief and food.  Jane couldn't describe why she had connected with the dog so fast, nor why she felt sad when her family was found (thanks to Tommy's Facebook addiction).  And despite her new free time, Jane found herself longing for that companionship.  Life got in the way, though.  When her apartment burned down, the capture of Alice Sands occupied all of her free time.  Then the job offer and move happened, and things were too hectic for a dog.  And finally, Maura happened.

Maura coming into her life in the way that she did was unexpected, to say the least.  Jane never believed she would fall for her female best friend, let alone have her return those feelings.  After admitting their feelings and deciding to change their relationship, Jane’s time all started revolving around Maura.  When Maura was going to visit.  What she and Maura were going to do together.  Wallowing for days after Maura left.  But then Maura was there every day in her tiny apartment.  And their large house.  And Jane found the companionship she had been looking for in the woman that she loved.

This did not take away her desire for a dog.  It made no sense.  It didn’t help that Maura wasn’t exactly a dog person, spouting facts about them when Jane showed her pictures instead of cooing over the photos with her.  She sat next to Jane on the couch one day as she cycled through photos.  “We could get a tortoise.”  Seeing the look Jane shot her made her laugh, the sound blowing softly through her nose.  “What?  Bass was sweet.”

“He was.”  Jane nodded.  “But he wasn’t cuddly.  And you couldn’t play with him.”

“Tortoises live longer than dogs.  They’re a better investment.”

“Yes, but then who takes care of the tortoise after we die, Maura?”  Jane held out her phone.  “Dogs are more fun, more furry, and have better personalities.”  She scrolled to the photo of the copper pup with dark soulful eyes.  “Look Maur, his name is Brady.  It’s like he belongs with us!”  Maura looked at the picture for a while, taking it in.  “He is rather cute.”  Her hazel eyes found Jane’s, her eyebrows pulled together as she thought.  “Why all the interest in a dog?”

Jane shrugged, going back to look at pictures.  “I can’t explain it.  I think the combination of unconditional love and something to care for.”

Maura had leaned against her then, her head resting on Jane’s shoulder.  “I love you unconditionally.”

Pressing a kiss to the tip of her nose, Jane put down her phone and snuggled in closer.  “I know that,” she started, drawing patterns on Maura’s knee as she spoke, “but I don’t have to care for you.”  At the blonde’s scoff and swat, Jane found herself backpedaling.  “I don’t mean it like that!  I mean, of course I care about you!”  Hazel eyes searched her face for understanding, and Jane took a deep breath before continuing.  “You are so much better at taking care of people.  And maybe that’s your profession, or because you’re a people-pleaser, but I don’t have to do much.  You have dinner ready before I get home.  You can take care of us both financially.  If you’re sick you get yourself to a doctor, and if I’m sick you drag me to one against my will.”  Jane’s thought trailed off with a chuckle, and Maura’s knowing smirk.

The Doctor took a breath.  “You want something to take care of.”  As she understood, Maura relaxed against her, watching Jane scroll again through pictures.

“Yes.”  She paused again of the photo of the red dog, Brady.  “I don’t get it.  But I’ve wanted one ever since Jo went home to her family.”

“So, for a while.”  Jane hummed in affirmation, once again discarding the phone in favor of the Doctor laying against her.  They sat for a while, neither of them moving or saying anything, letting the conversation settle.  At some point, the blonde began to yawn and stretch, moving off of Jane and onto the other side of the couch.  “I think I’m too tired to cook tonight.”  She studied Jane’s face as she spoke, her eyes taking in every twitch.

“Are you trying to get me to care for you?”  Jane smirked as she spoke, and a familiar flash in the Doctor’s eyes told her that her hunch was correct.

“Well, you can cook, or we can order out, either way, I’m not planning on lifting a pan tonight.”  Maura crossed her arms across her chest, her eyebrow raised in challenge.

“Fine.  Pork chops and applesauce it is.”  Jane leaned forward, pressing a kiss to her girlfriend’s head before padding off to the kitchen.

Leaning against the arm of the couch, Maura lifted her phone and started scrolling.  “We need a vegetable too.  Mashed potatoes don’t count, that’s a starch.”

“Don’t be a backseat… chef, Maur.”  The bewildered expression on her girlfriend’s face made Jane laugh.  Rather than ask what she meant, Maura shook her head, her eyes rolling as she focused back on her phone.

The dinner had been a hit (even if Maura thought she used too much paprika), and the rest of the night passed with no further talk of dogs.  Jane graded papers while Maura researched the latest treatments to help a young patient.  The following morning they both had left for their respective jobs, same as almost any other day.  But when Jane returned home, she was surprised to see that Maura wasn’t there.  Pulling out her phone, she shot her a quick text.  I don’t feel like cooking again tonight, what do you want for dinner?  I can pick it up.   She pulled open the drawer of take-out menus, pulling out a few of Maura’s favorites, waiting for an answer.

She didn’t get one.  Instead, after about five minutes, she heard the garage door open, announcing the Doctor’s arrival.  Jane laid the menus out and waited for her to come in.

After several minutes, Jane heard the sound of the doorknob jiggle.  At the sound of heels clicking on the tile, Jane had walked over and pressed a kiss to the blonde’s cheek.  She seemed stiffer than usual, her expression strange.  “Hey, babe.  How was work?”

“Um, fine.”  The answer was non-committal, her face stoic.

“Did something happen?”

She shook her head, the movements jerky.  “No.  But, I may have done something.”

“At work?  Is everything okay?”

“Not at work.  Work was fine.”  Her eyes snapped up and her shoulders fell.  “I may have done something.  And it might have been crazy.  But last night it seemed like a great idea, and all day I was so excited to see the look on your face.  But it hit me in the last hour or so that I should have talked to you first, that this was a big decision, and if you aren’t okay with it then I can’t do anything to fix it, and I shouldn’t have…”

“Okay, okay, just relax.”  Jane’s hands had reached out to her shoulders, making sure to meet her eye and give her a reassuring smile.  “You’d have to do a lot to make me upset with you.  You know that, right?”  Maura nodded.  “So unless you’re about to tell me you murdered someone, I think we will survive.”  She let out a strangled laugh at that, breathing for what seemed to be the first time since returning home.  Jane smiled, relieved that some of her anxiety was lessened.  "So tell me, Maur, do you have a body in your car?"

She took a breath.  "I do."  The unexpected answer made Jane pause, her eyes searching Maura's face for clues.  "But I assure you, he is very much alive."

"Maura, what do you mean?"

She pulled Jane along, walking backward toward the door.  "Let me show you."

In the garage, in the backseat of Maura's car, was a dog.  Jane stopped moving at the landing when she saw his copper little head hanging out the window, his tail wagging and spreading hair all over her detailed seats.  "That's a dog."

"Yes."  Maura’s one-word reply didn't answer the question Jane seemed unable to ask.

"Like, an actual dog."

"He is real.  You can pet him."  The dog barked as Maura approached, his tail wagging harder as she spoke to him while scratching his ear.

Watching her face soften, her voice rising in pitch made Jane's stomach flutter, thinking about things she hadn't allowed herself to think of yet.  The dog barking broke her reverie, bringing Jane back to the present instead of the future.  "Maur, why is there a dog in the back of your car?"

"He's ours."  She stroked down the back of his head, and Jane's vision tunneled as she focused on what the blonde was saying.  "Well, mine, technically.  But only because I wanted to surprise you, and you couldn't sign the paperwork."  She looked at Jane then, who had finally approached the side of the vehicle.  "If you don't want him, well, I guess…  This is what I mean, I didn't think this…"

Jane cut her off, pressing their lips together in a searing kiss.  She felt the blonde relax against her body, her hands grasping at Jane's waist as her anxiety melted away.  Jane could feel her grin as she pulled away, meeting Maura's gorgeous hazel eyes.  "I can't believe you got us a dog!"

Her smile was infectious, her apparent joy at pulling it off making Jane's stomach flip.  "I did!"  She rested her hands on Jane's shoulders.  "It seemed important to you.  Plus, now we get to care for something together."  She accepted another kiss from Jane, cutting it off after a few moments to push away.  "Don't you think we should let him out of my car?"

"Yes!  Of course.  And we should name him."

Opening the door, Maura let the pup down.  He was tall, his back reaching Jane's knee, a large chest and ribcage leading to his much more narrow hips.  But he was friendly, rushing right over to sit on Jane's feet, his tail wagging.  "He came with a name.  Brady."

"Wait, the Brady?"  She knelt down to scratch at his chest.  "The one I was looking at last night?"

"That's the one."  Maura joined them on the floor of the garage, giving love to their new family member.  "They tried to tell me he's a labradoodle."

Jane looked the short-haired, stocky, red pup up and down.  "There is no doodle."

"I concur."

"I don't care."  Glancing up, she let her eyes meet Maura's.  "He's perfect, Maur."

But he wasn't.  He hadn't been to any formal training, so he misbehaved.  Leading to him stealing Maura's bagel off the table.

The blonde shook her head, knocking Jane's hands off her shoulders.  "The name on the paperwork means nothing.  He likes you most, so he's your dog."

This made Jane scoff, her head tilting as she studied Maura, her gaze drifting between her and the dog who watched from a safe distance.  "What makes you say that?"

Maura pulled bowls down from the cabinet, her shoulders falling as she spoke.  "You don't see how he gets when he hears you come home.  The zooming around the island and barking until I answer him."  She pressed her lips together as she glanced at him, avoiding Jane’s gaze.  “It shouldn’t surprise me that he loves you so much.  I get it.”  She lowered the heat on the stove, reducing their meal to a simmer.  As she walked by the dog with their empty dinner bowls, she stopped to pat Brady on the head, her movements slow and soft.  Everything she did with Brady was soft, it was the way Maura showed people and animals that she cared.  Before Jane could point out the subtle wagging of the dog’s tail at the contact, Maura whirled around, her face inquisitive as she met Jane’s eye.  “Did you have a favorite parent growing up?”

Jane looked between her and the dog once.  Instead of answering, she studied her girlfriend’s face, trying to piece whatever was going on in her head together.  “Why?”

“I’m just trying to figure out which one of us our children will like more.”  She leaned against the door frame, her arms falling to her sides.  “I never related much to either of my parents, at least not after the affair.”

Jane watched the fingers of her free hand fidgeting.  “I have to say, for me it was the same.  Dad allowed us to learn at our own pace.  He listened when I complained about Ma painting my bedroom pink without talking to me first.  He was better at treating me like the kid I was instead of the kid Ma wanted me to be.  I admired that.”  Jane shrugged, walking over to take the bowls from her distracted girlfriend.  “Then he became an asshole, and I decided Ma was better.”  She placed the bowl on the table before turning back to face Maura.  “So I guess they’ll like one of us, until we become assholes in our old age, and then change their mind.”  She shrugged a smirk on her face, proud of her observation.  But instead, Maura looked at her, disappointed, shaking her head.

“Jane, what is up with you?”  Her words were short, the sound biting, making the corners of Jane’s smirk fall.  “Every time I talk about our future children, you deflect, make jokes, or try to distract me.  Why?  I’m here, trying in my own way, to tell you that I worry our kids won’t like me, and all you can do is make jokes.  I need to know what is going on.”

Jane could feel her heart drop as Maura choked on her admission, and she moved forward out of instinct to comfort her.  “Babe, how could you think like that?”

“No.  I don’t want to talk about me right now.”  She stepped forward, sitting at her place at the table, and gesturing for Jane to join her.  “I can’t figure you out.  But I can tell that something is bothering you.  So please, explain what’s happening in your mind.”

Jane joined her at the table, mind racing, trying to figure out where to begin.  “I’m sorry.  I’m trying to deflect using humor instead of being snappy.  I guess it’s not helping.”

“It’s not.”  At her words, Jane watched her deflate, her posture softening.  “What’s bothering you?”

Jane sat for a minute, trying to figure out the most concise way to describe what was going on in her head every time they talked about their future.  “Maura, when you talk about our future kids, you talk about them like it’s a given.  You are so sure of their existence, I can see you picturing them in your mind.”  Her hands fell to her lap.  “I admire it, I really do.  And I’m glad you can see all of that.  But in my experience, children aren’t guaranteed.”

It took Maura longer than she’d thought it would to realize what Jane was talking about, and the brunette could not look her in the eye to see the realization creep in.  Her whispered, ‘Oh,” was all Jane needed to know that they were back in sync.

“So when you talk about our future children, I find myself excited at first, until my brain reminds me that it may not happen and that I may let you down.”  She looked up finally, meeting Maura’s hazel eyes.  “Maur, I don’t want to let you down.”

Maura’s hand reached across the table for hers then, her smile sympathetic.  “Jane, my love,”  she wiggled her fingers, refusing to speak until Jane’s hand had joined hers.  “You couldn’t let me down.”  With those five words, Jane felt like Maura was picking back up the pieces of her heart and taping them back together.  Despite biting it back, Jane felt a tear fall, and she swallowed back the rest as she squeezed Maura’s hand in response.  “I am aware that we could end up not pregnant.  I am acutely aware that we can lose a baby at any time.  I worry all the time about that and re-traumatizing you.  But this is why I try to ask you what you want.”  With her other hand, she reached up, wiping the tear from Jane’s cheek.  “And I speak about our children with certainty because I know that they will exist.  There are many ways for us to become parents without either of us carrying.  We don’t even have to use our own genetic material to become parents, my parents are living proof of that.”

“Of course, I know that.”  She stroked Maura’s fingers with her thumb.  “Part of me would be happy to just let you do all the work.  But then I don’t want to put the burden of it all on you.  And then I think back,”  she paused, swallowing, “I think back to all the milestones I missed.  I think about what could have happened.  I picture them in my mind sometimes, and I want it again.  I want it with you, and that scares the shit out of me, Maura.”

“I’m sorry.”

“For what, for being excited?  Don’t be sorry, Maur.”  She offered a half-hearted smile, letting her head tilt to one side.  “You’ve done nothing wrong.”

Her girlfriend offered a reassuring grin back.  “So how can I help?  Do you want me to stop bringing it up?”

“Absolutely not.  Most of the time, talking about our family makes you happy.  I want more of that.”  Jane took a second to assess her feelings.  “I think you just need to call me out when I’m deflecting.  Just like this, so I recognize it and stop.”

The blonde nodded, running her thumb over Jane’s fingers.  “I can do that.”

Jane pulled away, inhaling sharply through her nose to clear it.  “Good.”  She let out a breath.  “So what is this nonsense about our kids not liking you?”

Maura let out a sigh, chuckling dismissively.  “It’s nothing.”

“No, it’s not, babe.  A few minutes ago you were reeling.”  She raised an eyebrow and studied the Doctor who had leaned back in her chair.  “Talk to me.”

Maura heaved her shoulders up and down, her gaze looking off into the distance.  “It’s no secret that I haven’t been well-liked in my life.  You were kind of the first person to give me a chance.”  She chuckled, directing her gaze down to her hand in her lap.  “The dog doesn’t even seem to like me as much as he likes you.”

“That’s not true.”  At Maura’s glare, Jane leaned forward, ready to plead her case.  “Don’t look at me in that tone of voice, Maura!  It’s not true.”  The phrase caught her off guard, making her giggle instead of glaring.  “He loves you differently.”

“How is that better?”

“He loves you for different reasons.”  Jane pointed to the door.  “When I come home, I get him excited.  I make him get a toy.  I rile him up.  So he acts crazy when I come to the door.”  She now pointed to Brady, who sat by Maura’s side, leaned up against her chair.  “But he knows you’re different.  Before you come home, he sits by the window and watches the cars.  He knows it’s you before he hears the garage door.”  She gestured back to the door.  “And then he sits by the door, thumping his tail against the wall.  He whines a little, but it never gets out of hand.  When you come in, he puts his chin in the palm of your hand.”  She grinned as she watched Maura’s face soften, the joy spreading as she understood what Jane was saying.  “He knows that you love him softly, that you care for him differently than I do.  He knows that if he comes up to me with a toy, I’ll play, but if he goes to you he’ll get scratches and hugs.”

“So our children will do the same?”

“Probably.  You’ll be the one fixing all their boo-boos and singing them lullabies.  I’ll be the one slaying the monster in the closet and teaching them to wrestle.”  The blonde laughed then, choosing to ignore the wrestling comment.  “They’ll love us both.  For different reasons, but the love will be the same.”

Maura took in a breath, letting it out slowly, her shoulders relaxing as she did.  “I really hope so.”  She turned to look at the stove.  “They may love me less if I make a habit of burning dinner, though.”

“Oh, that’s a deal-breaker.”  Jane laughed as Maura stood, rushing to the stovetop to stir her creation.

While Maura figured out what was going on with dinner, Jane picked up Brady’s red rubber toy and headed to the pantry.  On the third shelf, they kept a jar of peanut butter and a box of plastic spoons.  Scooping out a dollop, Jane started attempting to shove it into the hole on Brady’s toy.  When she was satisfied, she put the toy behind her back and walked into the kitchen.

Maura was pulling a bag of cauliflower rice out of the microwave when Jane tapped her on the shoulder.  She turned around, eyebrows raised in anticipation, her free hand landing on Jane’s waist.  “What, love?”

“Do you want to know what will really make Brady love you?”  The Doctor’s eyebrows knitted together, but she nodded anyway.  Jane slowly lowered herself down on one knee, careful to hide the toy behind her back.

“Jane, is this a trick again?”

“Maura,” Jane started, trying to keep her face serious.  She pulled out the toy, watching Maura’s eyes roll as she backed up, laughing.  “Can you give this to Brady for me?”

“You’re impossible.”  But she took the toy, leaning down to press a tight kiss to Jane’s lips before walking away.

After dinner, while Maura worked on her novel, Brady did not leave her side, the blonde reaching down every so often to stroke his side.  Jane couldn’t resist leaning down to whisper in her ear, “I told you so,” before returning to the tests she had to grade.  Maura swatted at her as she retreated, before returning her hand to the copper dog’s head.

Chapter Text

It took Jane three days to broach the subject of children again. As per usual, it took Maura by surprise, the question seeming to come from thin air. "Why did you freeze your eggs again?"

Maura closed her laptop, turning to face the brunette. "I knew I was getting older, so I decided to preserve my options to have biological children." She watched as Jane plopped down on the couch, her eyes glazed over as she thought. "This pre-dated our relationship, of course, but I don't regret it. I'm glad we have the option."

"What was the process like?"

Maura studied her girlfriend for a bit, trying to figure out where this was coming from. If she knew where it was coming from, she could assuage her anxieties now. As per usual, though, Jane's emotions were locked up tight behind a door Maura couldn't access yet. "In the long run, it was fairly non-invasive. I had to administer my own medication, go to a few appointments where they monitored the eggs and my reaction to the medication, and then I had a short procedure under anesthesia to remove the eggs." Maura thought back to that period in her life. She never would have imagined herself in DC, living with the love of her life who also happened to be her best friend, or discussing starting a family with her. "Your mother is the one who brought me to that appointment."

This made the Instructor lift her head, her eyes meeting Maura's for the first time since the conversation began. "Why didn't you ask me?"

"To be honest, that was my plan. But you had a big case come up and I didn't want to interrupt that." She remembered agonizing over who to call, needing someone who wouldn't judge her decision or make things feel more awkward. "Your Mother was not my first choice, I was worried about her discretion."

This made Jane chuckle, her head falling back to the couch. "Well, whatever you threatened her with must have worked. She never told me."

"Well, she could have. It wasn't exactly a secret."

"I know. You told me you wanted to do it." Maura let the silence be, giving Jane time to think and process whatever she needed to. Her voice seemed hoarse when she asked another question. "The medications you gave yourself required needles, right?"

"They do." She watched Jane grimace, her hand coming up to push hair out of her face. "But the needle is small. It helped that I knew what I was doing, too."

"How many eggs do you have?"

Maura chuckled. "Thirteen. A rather unlucky number, if I do say so myself."

The brunette shot up. "Thirteen?" Her voice was loud in disbelief. "Maur, how many kids do you think we need?" Her head snapped up as she spoke, studying the blonde from across the room.

Maura couldn't help but laugh at the incredulous look on Jane's face, her wild hair only adding to the effect. "I'd like more than one." Being an only child herself, she could see the benefits of having multiple children.

"I think you'll be all set with your thirteen eggs. Jeez, Maur!"

She giggled, but it was clear she would have to explain. "If only it were that simple." This caused Jane to look up, her face falling. "With thirteen eggs, given our age, we would have around a sixty to seventy percent chance of having a single child."

"That's it?" Her dark eyes were wide as she watched Maura nod. "Maur, that's almost a coin toss."

"Jane, those odds are slightly better than a coin toss."

"I know that, but it's not so far off!" She sat forward then, head in her hands as she digested the new information. "So let's say that I added my eggs to the mix. Would that increase our chances to have more than one?"

"Yes. Every egg increases our chances." She waited, letting Jane work out whatever it was that she wanted to work out. It took longer than she'd expected it to, Jane sitting for over a minute without saying anything. "Jane, remember, we do have other options."

"I know, I know." She looked up then, offering a soft smile. "I'm just trying to weigh the pros and cons of you sticking me with needles for the rest of my life."

"Oh, it's not for the rest of your life. Just a few weeks."

"I know. I'm just being dramatic." She chuckled then, her dimples showing, and for a moment Maura wondered if their children would inherit that particular facial deformity that they shared. "Did you settle on a Doctor?"

"Not yet, but I had narrowed things down."

She took a breath. "Well when you do, can you make me an appointment?"

Maura would have sworn that her heart skipped a beat, and she could feel her mouth stretching as she grinned. "Of course."

Jane watched her for a moment, her eyes soft, before standing and looking at her watch. "I'm starving. Do you want Chinese or Thai tonight?"

"Um, Chinese, I guess." Jane nodded, walking forward and pressing a kiss to the crown of Maura's head before leaving, pulling up the menu on her phone. Maura, on the other hand, was too stunned to go back to writing. She played their conversation in her head again, making sure she understood it. Turning back to her computer, she pulled up the few sites she needed and doubled down on her research.

There was a wall at the clinic that was covered with photos of smiling babies and happy families. Looking at them all, Maura was pleased to find people represented from all types of families. Taking it all in, she was pleased when Jane came up behind her, resting her chin on Maura's shoulder. "Hey." Her voice was a whisper, so close to her ear it sent shivers down Maura's spine. "That's a lot of happy families."

Maura hummed, backing into her chest, breathing out when Jane's arms wrapped around her and pulled her closer. Her eyes settled on a picture of two women with two squishy babies, one wearing an apple hat and the other in a strawberry one. "Maybe we will be one of them someday." The tightening of her girlfriend's arms around her waist told her that she hoped for it too.

"Jane?" A voice in the distance called, the brunette pressing a kiss to Maura's cheek before grabbing her hand and pulling her along.

In the exam room, the nurse went over Jane's medical history, her previous miscarriage, and asked them about their goals. She mentioned something about testing, told them the Doctor would be right in, and left them after a few minutes. Maura watched Jane sitting on the exam table, her shoulders hunched more than usual as she chewed on her bottom lip. "Jane. What's wrong?"

The brunette snapped her head when Maura said her name, softness in her features that was reserved only for people she loved. "Nothing." It wasn't reassuring, and Maura could feel her eyebrow raising, needing more information. "It's really nothing. I don't like Doctors offices." She grinned then, her smile mischievous. "I never minded yours, though."

"That's because I wasn't doing procedures on you."

"That's not true! You fixed my nose!"

Maura laughed then, which had the added effect of helping Jane relax. "Technically, I fixed your nose at a crime scene, not in my office. And your toe was done at my house."

Jane crossed her arms, smug satisfaction painted all over her face. "Same difference."

"Jane, that phrase doesn't make any sense! They can't be both the same and different!"

"No Babe, it just means…."

The gentle rapping on the door made Jane stop, sitting up straight as the Doctor entered. She was what Maura pictured when she read someone described as 'mousey,' petite and thin, with short dark hair cropped at her shoulders. "Hello, how are you all doing in here?" She was softspoken as she entered, reaching a hand out first to Jane and next to Maura. "I'm Dr. Correa."

"Jane Rizzoli. Nice to meet you." Her voice dropped in pitch as she introduced herself, one of the many ways she was learning Jane tried to appear strong. She gestured over to a sitting Maura. "This is my girlfriend, Dr. Maura Isles."

"Maura. Please, just Maura."

The Doctor smiled, leaning against the counter to address them both. "Nice to meet you both. What brings you here today?"

Jane smirked before answering. "I want to preserve my option to have biological children."

Maura shook her head, holding back a giggle. "At least I know you listen to me every once in a while."

This made Jane's eyes roll, her arms coming up to cross over her chest. "Just because I can't repeat your Googlemouth, doesn't mean I don't listen when you talk!" She turned her attention to Dr. Correa, who was watching them with amusement. "I wanna freeze my eggs. I'm just saying it like this one would." She tilted her head in Maura's direction.

Dr. Correa laughed as she glanced at the computer screen, familiarizing herself with Jane's information. "That sounds like something I can help you with. Do you have an idea of roughly when you'd want to use these eggs?"

It was one thing they hadn't discussed in length. Their discussions tended to stick with the how and why as opposed to the when. Maura met Jane's eyes and saw a determination in them that seemed new. "No more than two years from now, I think." It was a sentence that made Maura's heart skip, the joy stretching across her cheeks. "Does that make sense, Babe? It gives us time to get married and settled, and still gets us started just before we hit our mid-forties."

This made the Doctor smile, her gaze pulled from the computer screen as she addressed them. "When's the wedding?"

"Well, um…"

"I haven't asked her yet." Jane's confession made the smaller brunette's eyebrows pull together as she studied them. "I have a plan!"

"I'm not sure that you have a plan, Jane. All you've done so far is mess with me."

Jane turned her palms up, her eyebrows raised. "That's part of the plan, Maur."

The Doctor giggled as she listened to them, making a few notes in Jane's chart. "I see here that you just started your period?" At Jane's nod, she continued. "I'm going to have a tech come in here and draw some blood. And send you for an ultrasound. In a couple of weeks we will have a better idea of how many eggs we can get from a cycle, and talk about the retrieval process then." She smiled then, looking between the two of them. "Is that something you have time for today?"

Jane nodded with enthusiasm, reaching a hand out to grab Maura. "Definitely."

The Doctor smiled as she looked between the two of them. "Great! I'll have the tech come right in, and she'll tell you where to go next."

Jane grinned back, reaching a hand out to shake Dr. Correa's hand. "Thank you. It was good to meet you."

"Great to meet you both." Maura could see that her smile was genuine as she left the room.

Taking advantage of the small amount of time they had alone, Maura grabbed Jane's hand, fighting to hold back her excitement. "Jane, we couldn't have timed this better. If all looks good we could potentially start your injections next month."

Her brown eyes grew large, and she squeezed Maura's hand tighter. "You're gonna stick me, right?"

Maura's other hand came up to rub soothing patterns into Jane's thigh. "Love, they'll train you on how to do them yourself."

"I don't trust myself with a needle! Would you trust me with a needle?"

"Well, with proper training..."

"Maura, one class here is not proper training." Jane's eyes met Maura's, her fierce gaze punctuating her point. "You're a Doctor. You're sticking me, right?"

Maura wanted to laugh. Jane, her Jane. Strong, beautiful, stubborn, resilient, tackle a meth-head Jane, was nervous about a needle. Looking into her sincere eyes made Maura swallow that laughter, squeezing her hand a little harder. "Yes, I will stick you."

Her shoulders fell as she relaxed. "Thank you." She leaned forward then, pecking Maura's forehead and running her free hand down the back of Maura's head, letting her hand rest between her neck and her shoulder.

The tech was in a few moments later, just as cheery as the Doctor before her. Jane squeezed Maura's hand during her blood draw, looking away as the needle went in. When it was done, they were worried she would faint. But the brunette shook her head, forcing a giggle. "I don't know why I work myself up so much. It's never that bad." She stood then, pointing to the door. "Where to next?"

The tech led them to the ultrasound room, where another person took images of Jane's ovaries and uterus. After setting up a follow-up appointment, Jane and Maura were able to leave, their stomachs grumbling. Turning to the brunette, Maura grabbed her hands. "Do you have time to eat before your next class?"

"What day is it?" Jane looked at her watch, counting on her fingertips. "I have about an hour."

"We're right down the road from Black Market. Do you want to call in our order?" She started walking to their car, her pace brisk.

"Are you making healthy choices today, or are we indulging?"

The question made Maura pause at the door, her fingers on the handle. "It may be because I'm so hungry, but a burger and milkshake sounds extremely appetizing."

Jane grinned, the phone coming to her ear. "That's my girl!"

At her follow-up appointment, Dr. Correa suggested more than one cycle to retrieve eggs. But to this, Jane shook her head. "I don't think I can." The petite Doctor watched her, confusion etched in her features. "I'll try anything once to try and have children. Once. But the daily shots and procedures throughout all of this is a lot, and I can only handle so much." She then looked at Maura, dark eyes wide and apologetic. "I'm sorry I can't do more."

"Jane, you've already done more than I asked you to." They were both sitting in chairs this visit, their fingers laced together as they listened to the recommendations.

Squeezing her hand with gratitude, Jane turned back to address the professional in the room. "Between her eggs and mine, we have a reasonable shot at one kid, right?"

"Maura's thirteen eggs and what we project we can get from you give you a good chance to have a single child. Although, the chances for a second drastically decrease." The Doctor leaned against the sink, her hands falling into the pockets on her white coat. "You expressed an interest in more, so we suggested more cycles. You can stop whenever you want regardless."

Jane's head again turned to look at Maura, her features soft. "One child is good. Two would be nice. But if we can't have two with our eggs, you are the one who reminded me that there are more ways to have a family."

Maura felt her chest fill up with pride at Jane's words, and could feel the grin stretching across her face. Squeezing her hand tighter, she responded. "Whatever you are comfortable with. I have a feeling you won't be comfortable with a second cycle."

Jane shook her head back and forth. "Nope. One is plenty."

"Okay." The mousy woman watched their exchange, making a note as they decided. "So one cycle. No problem. We have a class on the medication you'll be administering in two days. After that you'll be sent home with everything you need to start administering on the second day of your period. We'll monitor everything on our end, and in about a month you'll have some frozen eggs."

"Sounds great, Doc. Thank you so much." Jane held out a hand for her to shake, her smile warm.

"I wish you two luck." She switched her focus from Jane to Maura, shaking her hand as well. "See you both in a few weeks."

Jane fumbled through the class, definitely unsure of herself with the pen and the syringe. Maura found trying to direct her wasn't helpful, it only frustrated her more. In the end she was successful, walking out of the office with a triumphant grin, their bag of supplies tucked under her arm.

Jane rolled over one morning, one of the rare days they both got to sleep in, her fingers tickling Maura's cheek as she tucked stray strands of hair behind her ears. "Hey, baby." The groggy sound of her voice made Maura's stomach pull, and she attempted to inch closer to her girlfriend's warm form. "Are you still okay with sticking me?"

Maura opened one eye, taking in the sight before her. Jane watched her with trepidition in her eyes, her hand moving down to rest on Maura's hip. "Do you need injections today?" The nod was almost imperceptible, Jane's fingers tracing random patterns as she waited for an answer.

Her actions had Maura confused. "Did I say anything that implied that my original answer had changed?"

"Can you ever answer with a 'yes' or 'no'?" She squeezed Mauura's hip now, her face changing from nervous to playful.

"I already said 'yes' Jane, nothing has changed."

"A part of me knows that. But now I've done the class, and you know I have the knowledge, but something about pinching my own skin and stabbing myself really..." Maura cut off her rambling by covering Jane's mouth with her own, pulling the taller woman into her body by her hips. It had the desired effect. Jane stopped talking, using her mouth for other activities instead.

After a brief distraction, Maura found herself in the bathroom, Jane dressed only in a bra and boyshorts, pinching the skin on the right side of Jane's belly button. Her girlfriend squeezed her eyes shut and looked away, her knuckles white as they rested on the countertop. Maura was quick, counting down from three so she would know when to expect the pinch. And when she was done, the tall brunette embraced her, the hug soft and laced with gratitude. This became their morning ritual for the next two weeks. Pinch, shots, comforting hug, all before getting on with their days. Jane would go off to mold the minds of future agents, while Maura worked on trial prep and saw patients at the clinic. At night they settled in to watch movies, grade papers, or write, their morning activities seemingly forgotten.

The morning of the procedure was different. Jane was relieved to go without a shot, but miserable without her morning coffee. Maura opted for a cup of her tea from the Sichuan Province, the tea Jane referred to as 'panda poop tea'. Jane wouldn't ask for it, so therefore it wasn't as mean as making the latte she really wanted. This didn't stop the brunette from complaining. She moped around the island, watching Maura prepare her tea, her eyes narrowing as the blonde drank it. She sat on the couch and whined about needing her caffeine fix. In the car, each time her stomach growled, she used it as evidence to support the fact that she was starving. "Jane, I'll take you out to eat as soon as the procedure is done."

"Okay, but that doesn't help me now!" She whined. Her voice raised in pitch, and she actually crossed her arms over her chest. In that moment, Maura could see her as a child. Young, her features softer, hair pulled back in a messy ponytail whining about something Angela said. It was so clear she could have sworn it was a memory.

"Your mother was a saint." She said it with a chuckle, the meaning lighthearted, but the brunette in the passenger seat gasped. "Anyone who had to put up with your whining back when you had very little control over your emotions is a saint. You can't fight me on this!"

"I'm not whining!"

Maura snorted. "Jane, look at how you are sitting, and think about your tone."

There was silence on her right for a moment, but when Maura stole a glance at her, she was holding back a laugh. "No, you're right."

"There's no need to be so dramatic, Jane. I hear you. You're hungry. I'll get you food when this is over." She reached a hand out, grinning when slender fingers intertwined with hers. "I'll even get you an extra-large coffee."

"You'd better." Jane squeezed her hand, her voice softening. "You're gonna be a great Mom, Maur."

Maura felt her heart skip a beat, joy bursting from her chest. "We are."

At the office, Jane changed from her BPD sweatpants and FBI shirt into a blue paper hospital gown. She signed consents, learned about the anesthesia, and went over the procedure again. It then turned into a wait for the nurse to come and retrieve her for the actual procedure. Jane sat up on the exam table, swinging her legs and looking straight ahead. "Do you think we can hold off on some of the baby talk?" She hesitated as she asked, like she was worried how it would be received.

"In what way?"

She fiddled with her hands, her thumb running over scar tissue. "I'm happy talking about our kids in the abstract. I'm not ready to name them and start decorating nurseries."

"I see. I think I can manage that."

Jane looked at her then and smiled. "Thank you." Her head dropped down so she was looking at her lap, a mischievous grin on her face. "Besides, if we get too caught up in talking about our kids, we'll have less time to plan the next milestone."

Maura knew exactly what she was referring to. "Jane, it's hard to plan a wedding when I haven't been proposed to."

"I'm working on it!" Her dimple showed as she grinned, her eyes meeting Maura's once more. "I'm actually more interested in how both of our very different dream weddings will come together into something coherent."

The thought made Maura laugh, shaking her head. "Oh, that will be a sight."

The nurse came in a few minutes later, when both she and Jane had created a monster wedding with both of their interests that no one in their right mind would want to attend, and Jane was looking up sports themed wedding cakes. Jane stood to follow her down the hall, leaning down to press a kiss to Maura's lips, her hand squeezing her fingers. "I'll see you when you wake up."

Grinning, Jane started to leave, but turned back around just before walking through the doorway. The nurse hovered there, watching with a confused look at Jane's abrupt movements. Dark eyes met Maura's, their stare intense. "Maura, I have something important to ask."

The Doctor let out a huff, her eyebrow raising as she regarded her girlfriend. "Is it a real important question that you'll ask on one knee? Or just a regular question that you're using to mess with me?"

"It's real important." She knelt down, her foot ripping a section of the gown. The nurse in the doorway watched with eyes wide, one hand coming up to cover her mouth. Maura couldn't figure out how to tell her not to get excited. She focused her attention back on Jane, whose eyes seemed to flicker back and forth. "Maura Dorthea Isles," up came her hand, which held her cell phone, "will you keep this safe for me?"

The nurse's hand dropped and she watched them with confusion. Maura just stood there, her head shaking, trying to bite back the smile that she knew was creeping out. She picked the phone out of Jane's hands. "Yes, I will keep your phone safe."

"Oh, thank God." The brunette rose, hurriedly kissing Maura before turning back to the nurse. "I'll see you in a bit, babe!" Maura watched her disappear, shaking her head to herself as she sat. Then she started researching, because despite the ridiculousness of their monster mash up, it did give her a few ideas.

They retrieved eleven eggs. It wasn't as many as they'd hoped, but it increased their chances. With an extra-large hot coffee in hand, Jane and Maura left the clinic to find a restaurant, eager to discuss the plans for their future.

Chapter Text

“Wow!  Shay!  You have excellent taste!”  Maura was currently gawking over their friend’s engagement ring, her hand cupping Hallie’s as she rattled off facts about the diamond.  It was so different than the Maura a few years ago, the Maura who asked Jane why she would squeal about a colorless crystalline form of pure carbon.  So much about that interaction was wrong, Jane realized it now.  Looking back, that time in her life was not one she liked to revisit.

The younger woman grinned, deep dimples showing in her cheeks, while her now fiancee stood behind her.  “She really does!”  Her free hand rested on her shoulder, within reach of Shay, who held it tight.  “Oh!  But please keep it quiet.  We haven’t told our families yet.”

This made Jane’s chest swell up with pride, her eyes settling on the two younger women.  “You told us first?”

“Well, yeah.”  Shay watched them from behind Hallie, her face beaming.  “You guys are like our older protective sisters.  We wanted to let you know first.”

Maura reached them before Jane did, but it didn’t stop her from adding her own weight to the group embrace.  “We’re so honored.  And so happy for you both.”  Jane could hear Hallie shaking with laughter between them, and Shay’s fake groan as she tried to break free.

They had met the two younger women their first night at Nine Lives, a lesbian bar right outside the city.  They had almost decided not to go, but after reminiscing about their case at Merch, they decided to give it a try.  “Best case scenario, we come out with some new friends in the area."  Maura had reasoned, curling her hair at Jane's old vanity.

"Worst case, we end up slightly drunk but still go home together."  Jane had supplied the other half of that conversation, watching Maura get ready while she sat on the foot of her bed.  Their bed.  Maura had officially moved in, though most of her stuff was still in a storage unit.  Only a few of her kitchen appliances had made it to the counters, and only the shoes that were in season were in their closet.  It was becoming more and more obvious that they needed a space that was theirs, but at least now they were together.

Jane fiddled with her hands, impatient, waiting for Maura to be ready.  "Maur, if you take too much longer, we'll miss the show."

"That's impossible, Jane.  The flyer says that the music will play all night."  Whether she was done, or if she was just appeasing Jane, she never knew.  But Maura put down the curling iron, giving her hair a quick comb through with her fingers.  She had turned to look at Jane.  "How do I look?"

Jane took the moment to take in the sight in front of her.  Maura was dressed in a black dress that hugged her curves in a delicious manner, but that still covered her in a way that she almost looked professional.  Her blonde hair fell gracefully over her shoulders.  And she had done her makeup in a way that accentuated her eyes.  "Amazing.  You always look amazing."

Maura blushed, turning to give herself one last look before leaning to grab the clutch on the nightstand.  She stood then, stepping toward the door, pulling Jane up with her long the way.  Her fingers laced with the taller woman's, she looked up at Jane with genuine eyes.  "You look really nice."

"Oh please."  Jane was wearing black work pants and a purple blouse.  Even the pleading of the Doctor couldn't get her to wear a dress.  Her hair was down, she hadn’t done much with it, though that had more to do with a lack of time as opposed to a lack of wanting to try.  “It’s clear which one of us is reaching and which one is settling.”

Maura cut her off by covering her lips with her own.  The move was surprising, but of course not unwanted.  When she pulled away she wore an expression Jane couldn’t read.  “Don’t talk like that.  You’re gorgeous, and I love you.”  With that she pulled Jane to the front door, their fingers still laced together.

Nine Lives was more of a lounge than a club.  There was space for the musicians and a small dance floor, but the ambiance was more low-key than Jane was expecting.  They found a plastic couch to sit on, one with an end table, and settled in for a minute.  A waitress came by and asked what they would like to drink, and Maura ordered for them.  It was becoming clear to Jane that they didn’t quite fit in as they sat by themselves, listening to the music, not talking to any of the other patrons.  The theme was Latin night, and Jane didn’t recognize any of the songs the band was playing, although they did sound competent.

It was when her drink was halfway gone that the lead singer spoke to the crowd, telling them he was going to slow things down.  That’s when Maura grabbed her hand and started to pull her up.  “Dance with me?”

Jane raised one eyebrow.  “I hate dancing.”

“I know.”  Maura leaned forward, whispering in her ear.  “But you love me.”

Jane couldn’t help but smile as the blonde pulled away, a knowing look on her face.  “You got me there, babe.”  So she let herself be pulled to the dance floor, let Maura rest a head on her shoulder, held her close as they swayed to the slow ballad, her hands roaming the Doctor’s back.  For a moment, she and Maura were the only people in the room.  It took her a moment to come back to reality when the music sped up again.  Feeling Maura pull away, her hips swaying to music that neither of them knew definitely did the trick.  And as much as Jane wanted to go sit back down, to go back to her beer and watch from afar, she was having entirely too much fun watching Maura enjoy herself.  

It was about fifteen minutes after they decided to stay on the dance floor that Jane heard voices behind her that made her stop.  “Dude, get off me!”  She turned to the source.  A younger brunette was yelling at a man, who seemed like he was way too close to her.  Most of the men Jane had seen were security guards, but there were a few peppered into the crowd.  This one in particular was not heeding the woman’s warning.  Maura too had stopped dancing, her hands on Jane’s shoulder as she watched the scene in front of them.  “I already told you, I have a girlfriend.”

The man leered, making Jane’s skin crawl.  “Maybe you just haven’t met the right guy?”  He pointed at the woman behind her, shorter, stockier, with a short haircut and a bowtie.  “Is that your girlfriend?  You must like men a little bit if you want to be with her.”  This was the phrase that had Jane walking over there, a familiar spring in her step that she hadn’t felt in a long time.

“She is more than you could ever be.”  The younger woman stood her ground, making herself look bigger, stepping out of her girlfriend’s grip.

“I can show you how a real man would take care of you.”

Jane pushed herself between them, facing the man.  He reeked of alcohol, and he stumbled as she invaded his space.  “I believe the lady told you to get lost.”  Her voice dropped as she talked, an intimidation tactic she’d learned years ago.

His eyes narrowed as he laughed, his hand swatting at her.  “Go away, Gram.  You’re ruining the vibe.”

Jane stepped closer, making him back up.  “No, you’re ruining the vibe by coming here and ignoring women when they tell you to buzz off.  There’s no age limit on having a good time, pal, and you’re ruining my good time.”

“Go away, Gram, you're ruining my good time.”  He then tried to shove her aside to get back to the woman behind them.

Jane, used to shoving, stepped back in front of him, her shoulders squared.  “You’re not gonna want to touch me again, pal.  Walk away, leave her alone, and we can all go back to having fun.”

“Seriously bitch, get out of my face.”

This time when he shoved her, Jane was ready.  She had him pinned to the ground before he knew it was happening, one hand behind his back.  She heard Maura say her name in the background, noticed the music had stopped, the sounds quieting as people saw what was going on.  Leaning down, Jane spoke to him while she waited on security.  “Seriously asshole, you’re coming to a lesbian bar trying to pick up girls, and have the audacity to be a jerk when you’re rejected?”  He struggled to get up, but Jane had experience with this.  “No!  When security comes, you can tell them your side of the story.  I wonder who they’ll believe?”

“Ma’am!  Ma’am, we’ve got him.”  A man in a bright orange shirt knelt next to her, taking over and taking control of the situation.

“That bitch tackled me for no reason!  I want her thrown out!”  His words slurred as he yelled, pointing erratically in Jane’s direction as he stood.

“He was pursuing a young woman after she told him to stop.  He then shoved me when I tried to intervene.”  Jane’s voice had raised in pitch as she explained herself, the guard looking back and forth between the two of them.

A voice spoke up from behind her.  “I was the woman he was harassing.  She’s telling the truth.”  She stood next to Jane, her shoulders back as she addressed the man in orange.

“Yeah, and he shoved her first.”  The second voice was higher in pitch and turning, Jane saw that it belonged to the girlfriend in the bowtie.

Maura linked arms with her on her left.  “Actually, he shoved her twice.  After the first time, she warned him not to do it again.”

The guard regarded all of them before looking back at the seething drunkard.  After a beat, he grabbed the man’s arm.  “Sir, harassment and fighting are not tolerated in this establishment.”

The man screeched.  “But what about that bitch?”

“Self-defense is always allowed.  I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

Jane could hear him arguing with the guard the entire way out.  As she breathed, she could hear that the music was still stopped, and about sixty sets of eyes were all fixed on her.  Maura’s touch on her arm helped bring her back to the present, and she waved dramatically in the air with her free hand.  “Show’s over people.  Go back to your music.”  The lead singer seemed to look at her funny for a few moments more, but thankfully her guitarist was more than happy to get things going back to normal.  As the music started, more people turned away, switching their focus.  And once she felt like some of the attention was off her, she pulled away from Maura and walked back to their seats.

Sitting on the bench, she rested her head in her hands, and as the adrenaline wore off she felt herself begin to shake.  She felt the bench depress beside her, Maura pulling her in and rubbing circles in her back as Jane began to breathe.  A few minutes went by, Maura unwavering by her side when she heard the clink of a glass on the table at her right.  “Can we join you?”  Looking up, Jane locked eyes with the woman she had helped, her face soft with a genuine smile, her girlfriend’s arm resting protectively around her waist.

“Uh, yeah.  Pull up some chairs, I guess.”  The women did so, positioning them so they sat across from the two older women.

The woman with the bowtie spoke first, breaking the ice.  “Hallie and I discussed it, and we decided that you are totally kickass, and we want you to adopt us.”  She wore a smile on her face and watched carefully to see how Jane would react.

Jane could feel Maura’s smile, her cheek rested against her shoulder, and she allowed herself to chuckle at the statement.  “Well unfortunately for you, our apartment is barely big enough for the two of us.  I wouldn’t know where to put you two.”

“Damn.”  The woman with the bowtie looked at the other woman, Hallie, her hand resting on her knee.  “Foiled again.”

“How many other people have you asked to adopt you?”  Maura’s voice was light with amusement, and as Jane relaxed, so did she.

Hallie giggled, showing dimples as she faced Maura.  “Shay asked my Mom to adopt her, but she said she would have to make an honest woman out of me first.”

“Oof.  That’s tough.  My Mother practically adopted this one before we ever thought about dating.”  She pointed with her thumb in the blonde’s direction, delighting in her giggle and the swat of her hand.

“Do you guys come here often?”  Shay asked, addressing them both, a hard cider in her hand.

“Tonight was our first night.”  Maura supplied the answer, reaching over Jane for her glass of white wine.  “Do you?”

“We come mostly on weekend nights.”  Hallie crossed her legs, becoming more comfortable.  “Shay teaches music, so we try not to keep her out late on a school night.”

“It is not always successful.”  Shay punctuated this with a sip of her drink, making them all begin laughing.

Jane relaxed a bit more, taking a sip of the new beer the younger women had brought her.  “So how often are there creepy guys here like that?”

Hallie clicked her tongue, pushing her hands forward in disgust.  “There are guys here just about every night.  But usually, they go away when you tell them to.”

“Yeah, they usually respect you if you say you’re in a relationship.  That guy was the worst one we’ve seen so far.”

Hallie nodded in agreement.  “And look around.”  Jane did as she was told, taking in the composition of the room.  “There’s like three guys here that don’t work here.  To like, fifty or more women.”

Shay hummed, pointing at one.  “And I know that one is gay, so he doesn’t care.  His name is Tim, he’s pretty cool.”

“Yeah, most of them come with their friends and hope there’s a straight girl they can go home with.”

“Or a bisexual.”

Shay nodded in agreement, looking back and forth between both Maura and Jane.  “It’s really not a bad place, I swear.”

Maura nodded beside her, passing the glass back and forth between her hands.  “We were having fun until Jane heard the commotion.”

“I have to say, you were handling yourself pretty good out there.”  She offered a smile to Hallie.  “But he wasn’t backing down and I’ve seen tons of situations like that escalate really fast.”

The younger woman blushed, glad for the compliment.  “Thank you.  For saying that, and for helping me.”

“We hope you’ll come back.  Like, please don’t let this incident stop you from coming.”

Jane felt her stomach drop.  “I’m not sure…”  She watched as two young faces simultaneously fell, and stopped her sentence before she bothered them more.  “I’ll agree to this.”  She went into Maura’s purse, pulling out a business card.  “Next time you guys are here, text this number.  If we’re free, we’ll come.”  Shay took it with a smile, tucking it into her wallet for safekeeping.

Maura’s hand squeezed Jane’s knee, making her look at the blonde.  “Jane?  If you’re feeling better, can we go back to dancing?”

“You were having fun, weren't you?”  Maura nodded in response, her hazel eyes large, and Jane was powerless to resist her.  She sighed.  “Okay.”  She bit back a smile at Maura’s squeal of glee, and how quickly she stood up.  Turning her attention to the younger women she asked, “are you guys coming back to the dance floor too?”

Shay held out a hand for Hallie, wiggling her eyebrows in a way that made her laugh.  “Milady?”  Hallie giggled, taking her hand and standing, letting Shay lead the way to the dance floor.

What started as a protective relationship for Jane really grew into a friendship.  They had movie nights, where Hallie and Shay showed them all the cinema they missed.  On Saturday nights they went down to Nine Lives to listen to music and dance.  Once, and only once, Shay convinced Jane to play piano while she and Hallie sang show tunes while tipsy, Maura watching on in awe of how ridiculous it all sounded.  So when Shay popped the question, naturally, they couldn’t wait to tell Jane and Maura.

Maura pulled out of the hug first, sitting back in her chair and looking between the two women.  “So what’s the plan?”

Hallie giggled, lacing her fingers with Shay’s as everyone situated themselves.  “We haven’t done much planning yet.  My mother will be over the moon.”

“And we’ll be lucky if mine ever picks up the phone.”

Jane pointed at Shay, getting the shorter woman’s attention.  “Well, at least Hallie’s Mom will adopt you now.”

“And if we sit you at the same table as Angela at ours, she’ll probably adopt you too,”  Maura added, bringing levity to their conversation.

Jane laughed.  “Yes.  Then you can be like Maura with her three Moms.”

Shay looked at them both at the mention of their wedding, a sly grin on her face.  “So when are you two doing the deed?”

At this Maura looked at Jane, her eyebrows raised and her arms crossed.  “I’m not sure, Shay.  Ask Jane.”

“Jane has a plan.”  She hadn’t meant to refer to herself in the third person, but it seemed to make Maura giggle, her expression amused.

Hallie interrupted, her blue eyes falling on Jane.  “You really had me going after that race.”

Maura’s eyes grew wide as she turned to face the younger brunette.  “She did, didn’t she?”

Jane scoffed.  “First of all, I told you I wouldn’t propose to you while you were all hot and sweaty.  Second, I wasn’t even trying to fake propose!”

“Sure you weren’t.”  Maura’s eyes narrowed as she spoke, her gaze disapproving.

“Maur, I asked you to wait while I tied my shoe.”  It was the truth.  She stopped in an awkward spot where other people were finishing because she had almost tripped.  Worried about losing Maura (and Hallie, who had run with them) in the crowd of finishers, she had called out for her to wait.  Both Maura and Hallie thought it would become a proposal.  “Why would I have chosen that very inconvenient spot to ask you the most important question of our lives?”

“Why would you have chosen any of the other fake proposal spots?”

Jane threw her hands up in the air.  “Exactly!”  She grinned.  “I promise, when it happens, it will all make sense.”  She reached across the table, taking Maura’s hand in her own.  Maura smiled back at her, her eyes filled with amusement, before turning her attention back to the younger women and dropping the proposal talk.

Hallie gave them their moment before continuing, her thumb playing with the new rock on her finger.  “What are you guys doing tomorrow?  Want to come by our place and help us start planning?”

“I’m taking Maura out to dinner.  Somewhere fancy.”

Shay let out a fake French laugh, making the whole table laugh, and a few other patrons look over in their direction.  She spoke in a terrible fake French accent, the kind Jane had heard in old movies.  “I hope you lovely ladies have a wonderful date.”

Maura shook her head and muttered a phrase in French, the words falling out of her mouth with ease.  Shay opened her mouth and eyes wide, pointing at the Doctor in awe.  “I didn’t know you spoke French!”

“I said, ‘if you want to learn to speak for real, I know a wonderful teacher.’”

“Is it you?  Please tell me it’s you!”  She turned to Hallie.  “Babe, how much more sexy would I be if I could speak French?”

“Mmm, you want to see sexy?”  Jane asked, standing behind Maura.  “Take this one to Paris.  She speaks lots of French.”  leaning down to kiss Maura’s cheek, she squeezes her hips, pulling away.  “First round is on me.  Maura’s buying next.  Newly engaged folks drink free all night.”

As she walked away, she could hear the younger women chattering away.  “Babe, can we go to Paris?”

“Shay, you don’t even speak French yet!”

Maura emerged the next day from their bedroom wearing a forest green off-the-shoulder dress with a ruffle shirt that looked a bit like a tulip.  Her hair was half up, her shoes matched perfectly, and she was ready for their night out.  Jane couldn’t help but stare at her, eyes wide, taking it all in.  “Wow.”

Maura chuckled, taking in the sight before her.  “Wow yourself.”  Jane’s dress was black with a halter top, and silver accents down the side and along the bottom of her skirt.  The Doctor linked her arm with Jane’s, letting the Brunette lead her through the door.

Le Cœur de la Rivière was a small French restaurant in the heart of the city.  Jane looked up reviews before making a reservation, and people could not stop raving about the authentic French cuisine.  When they arrived, she was impressed at the architecture and ambiance.  The ceilings were high and vaulted, the decor reminded her of Paris when they went a year earlier, and even the music playing in the background seemed to transport them out of DC and into France.  “Jane, it’s gorgeous in here.”  Maura looked around, eyes wide

Jane could only watch her, though, the way she took it all in, or the way her fingers trailed over the posted menu.  “Yeah, gorgeous.”

Maura turned to her as she spoke, a smile ghosting across her lips.  “Could you stop that?  You already did that.”

“I did.  But here we are, a year later, and nothing has changed.”  She shrugged, biting back a giggle, and pushed her girlfriend to the maitre d.  “Hi, I have a reservation.”

“Name please?”

“Jane Rizzoli.” 

He tapped away at his screen before picking up two large leather-bound menus and a smaller wine list.  “Follow me.”  He sat them at a small table in the center of the room, the chandelier directly above them.  After a brief mention of the specials, he told them that recommended wine pairings were on the menu next to each entree. 

It was after he left that Jane realized that the menu was in French.  “Babe, help.”  At Maura’s inquisitive look, she continued, running her hand up and down the menu.  “What do I want?”  Chuckling, Maura began giving suggestions, pointing to each as she spoke.  When she had narrowed it down, she put her menu on her plate, waiting for the server to come back.  “You’ll order for me, right?  I’ll just butcher it.”

“Yes, I will order for you.”

Jane grinned, watching her eyes return to the menu as she picked out her own meal.  “Maybe Shay’s not the only one who needs French lessons.”

Hazel eyes looked up, studying her.  “Do you want to learn French, Jane?”

Jane paused to consider it.  “You know, I’m not sure.  On the one hand, it would make situations like this easier.”  She glanced at her closed menu.  “But on the other, when would I ever need to use it in my everyday life?”

A soft smile spread over Maura’s lips, her eyes returning to their previous task.  “I somewhat like being the only one who speaks French.  It means you need me for something.”

“Maura, I will always need you for something.”

The blonde closed her menu and looked at Jane, her face set.  “Like what?”

Jane unfurled her napkin, placing it in her lap.  “When you make me coffee, you add an extra ingredient.  I don’t know what it is, but it makes the coffee taste even more amazing.  Or, only you can get me to eat healthy foods.  You push me out of my comfort zone and make me try new things, many of which I tend to like.  And you ground me when I’m unstable.  Lord knows I need more people like that in my life.”

Maura listened as she spoke, her face softening with each example.  “So it’s not just that I’m a polyglot?”

Jane recoiled in fake surprise, wrinkling her face.  “I would never call you one of those.”  Maura giggled, starting to explain, but dropped it when she saw Jane’s knowing grin.  The maitre d came back then, and Maura ordered Jane’s lamb and her salmon, as well as both of the suggested wines.  As he left, she began to copy Jane, unrolling her napkin to place in her lap.  As she did, her fork fell, clattering to the floor by Jane’s feet.

Pushing her chair back to look for it, she groaned.  “Ugh, I don’t see it.”

“Give me a sec.  I can see it.”  Jane tried to move her chair back to grab the fork, but she would have hit the guest seated behind her.  Moving forward she would have been unable to reach it.  So instead, Jane stood up, placing her napkin on the table, and knelt down on the floor to reach Maura’s fork.  She wondered to herself how many people were staring at her ungraceful act, so out of place in an establishment like this, and once she had hold of the fork she decided to give them something different to stare at.  Walking forward on her knees, she held out the fork to Maura in both hands.  “Milady.”

Instead of the laugh and good-hearted chuckle she was coming to expect, Maura rolled her eyes and took the fork, offering her a hand to stand up.  “Jane, everyone is staring.”

Getting off the floor, Jane took her seat, studying the blonde in front of her.  She wouldn’t look up, and she looked like she was biting back what it was that she wanted to say.  “Maura, talk to me.”

“It’s nothing.”

“Well it’s obviously nothing, you won’t look at me.”  At her words, the Doctor looked up, hazel eyes meeting hers, their feelings unclear.  “Please talk to me.”

Maura folded her hands in her lap, squaring her shoulders and looking into Jane’s eyes.  “You keep saying I’ll know when it’s happening for real, that everything will make sense.  And yet, here we are, in this fancy restaurant, with a menu that you can’t even read, both of us dressed up, and I thought it made sense.”

Jane fiddled with her hands, taking in what her girlfriend was telling her.  "And my joke proposal must have been like putting salt in your wounds."

"A little bit."  She took a breath, her face still stoic as she looked at Jane for answers to the questions she wouldn't ask.  "If you weren't planning to propose today, then why are we here?"

Jane squinted her eyes, her head tilting.  "Do you not know what today is?"  At the shake of Maura's head, she continued.  "One year ago, on a bridge in Paris, my life changed forever when we kissed for the very first time."

Maura's eyes widened and her face softened as she thought about it.  "That was really a year ago?"

"It was.  And although it led to the most agonizing month of my life, it also was the moment I knew things were changing between us."

As Jane stretched her fingers across the table, Maura grabbed them and held on.  For a brief moment, she saw panic in the hazel eyes she loved.  "Jane, is this our anniversary?  Because I didn't get you anything."

"No, that's still next month.  And you did get me something."

Maura pulled away, shaking her head.  "It doesn't count.  That Red Sox game was agreed upon ages ago."

"Who says it doesn't count?  Babe, I suck to buy gifts for.  And I'd rather get something we can do together than something that I might not ever use or wear."  She watched Maura's shoulders relax as she settled back into her seat.  "I'm sorry I misled you."

"It's okay."

Jane leaned forward again, grabbing her hand.  "It's not.  And it wasn't my intention."  Maura's face softened as she spoke, and she squeezed Jane's hand with resolution.  "Maur, milestones are important to me."

"I know that, Jane."

"I don't hit milestones.  Even when I was dating Casey, we were on and off so much that we never hit or celebrated any important events, like anniversaries, or birthdays.”

Maura raised an eyebrow, watching her.  “You were going to marry him.”

“I was!”  She couldn’t help but laugh, the memories flooding back.  “Talk about rushing something.”

It was those words that had realization rushing across Maura’s face.  “You don’t want to rush it.”  She gestured between the two of them.  “To rush us.”

“I don’t.”  Jane breathed a sigh of relief that Maura understood her thinking.  “And I don’t want to miss our milestone.”

The maitre d stopped back at their table with their wine selections and asked if they needed anything else, giving their conversation a much-needed pause.  After sampling her selection, Maura leaned forward, meeting Jane’s eyes once more.  “So about how much longer after our milestone do you think you’ll do it?  Because I’m not sure how much longer I can take this anxiety.”

“Not long.  Not long at all.”  The plan was more clear now than it had been two months ago.  She’d planned exactly what she wanted to say.  She was even planning on flagging down some strangers to take pictures.  “Not the day of.  But you won’t have to wait more than a month.”  Jane sampled her own wine, a red one that she probably wouldn’t have picked out on her own.  “Are you tired of me teasing you?”

“I’m not sure that I’m tired of it.  I’m just surprised at the variety of ways to trick me that you’ve come up with.”  She wore a sly grin, her hurt from earlier seemingly forgotten.  “There’s a part of me that is interested in seeing what else you can come up with.  And another part that will do anything for the real thing.”

Jane nodded, her hands landing in her lap.  “Noted.  I can tone myself down.”  She grinned then, imagining the future.  “You’re gonna love the real thing, though.  The ring is gorgeous.”

“Jane!”  The blonde groaned.  “Why must you tease me?”

Jane giggled.  “Because I love you.”

Maura shook her head and rolled her eyes, her head tilting as hazel orbs settled on her girlfriend’s face.  “I love you too.”

The Maitre d came then with their meal, and they paused once more to take time to eat.  The food was delicious, yet overpriced for the small portions.  After the meal they took a walk in a nearby park, talking about their past, things that they wanted at their wedding, and future travel plans.  Walking along a river, Maura’s arm interlocked with hers at the elbow, the blonde leaned against Jane for support, trusting her completely to not let them fall.  Jane was content to stay like that all night, Maura nestled against her.  So when a small voice asked, “What if we never kissed?”  it took her by surprise.

“What brought this on?”

She picked up her head, looking up at Jane, the light from the streetlights giving her skin a soft glow.  “I was thinking about that time right before you left, playing that game on the bench.”

“Maur, I play that game to rationalize bad things in my life.”

Her face set, her expression resolute.  “I understand.  But it shouldn’t be difficult to extrapolate that game to explore your more positive experiences.  How else would you be sure that you are at your happiest now?”

“I see.”  The blonde dropped her head back on Jane’s shoulder as they walked.  “Well, I probably would have continued to try and date Davies.  And I would have run into the same problems with him that I did with all my past relationships.  I think he would get sick of it after a few months, and I’d have ended up single and alone in a city far from home.”

“So because we kissed, your life is more satisfying.”  She could almost feel the Doctor smiling against her, her free hand coming up to grab Jane’s elbow.

“I would say it is.  Your turn.”

There was silence as Maura considered the question, her answer formulating.  “I would have gone back home to a very changed station.  At some point, your mother would have moved out, leaving me truly alone for the first time in years.  Frankie and Kent would have dragged me out a few times a month, but it wouldn’t be the same.  Something would be missing.  And my manuscript would have been left on my laptop, forgotten.”

“So… Better?”

 Maura leaned up then, pressing a kiss to the brunette’s lips, making them stop in their tracks.  When she pulled away, she grinned, whispering in Jane’s ear.  “So much better.”