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To be Held

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Maura wears heels. She's aware she's statistically average height for the country she lives in, but she likes the edge it gives her, the even footing with her male colleagues. Jane's boots have a little bit of heel on them, but even so Maura is able to shorten their height difference a little. There is 4 inches difference in their heights - about 12 centimeters. Maura can cut that down to 2 inches. easily.

It makes it easier to hug Jane in public. Her head fits over Jane's shoulder, and Jane fits tight, upright against her, so they can press together.

But at home, Maura kicks her heels off at the door and cleans them before returning them to the shoe closet. And Jane leaves her shoes on, like she expects to leave at any moment, when in reality more nights Jane falls asleep next to Maura on the couch, Maura waking her and leading her to the bedroom carefully, sometimes tucking herself in next to her, Jane barely aware of anything other than the absence of a threat. Jane never objects, and rarely comments when she finds Maura in bed with her in the morning. She never seems surprised to find herself waking up at Maura's house, and once, just once, Maura woke up to Jane watching her, hands tucked under her head, her eyes soft.

'You're the best friend I've ever had," Jane whispered, and Maura holds that moment in her memory, along with both of her fathers apologising to her, along with Constance holding her instead of kissing her cheek the way she used to, along with Cailin's easy hand on Maura's shoulder as she cooked in Maura's kitchen, along with Hope hugging her for the first time, along with the time she'd woken up, asleep on Angela's shoulder, along with every other time Jane had let her walls down long enough to say something sweet to Maura's face.

When they hug, and Jane is wearing her boots, and Maura is barefooted, Maura's head is too low to go over Jane's shoulder. It instead has to rest sideways, her chin against Jane's chest, her forehead on Jane's cheek, her nose ending at the base of Jane's jaw. It's like puzzle pieces fitting together, and it feels like an answer. Like a solution. Like it's right. Somebody once told her that there was a difference between being hugged and being held, and Maura knows the difference now. It's about 12 centimeters. It's the way Jane's hands go to Maura's waist, the way they rub Maura's back. It's the way Maura feels safe, the way she feels she gets more than she takes.

"I like you barefoot," Jane had said once. "Makes you look human." At the time Maura hadn't understood; it was early in their working relationship and Maura had been getting changed in her office, an impatient Detective Jane Rizzoli pacing as she delivered her report. Maura had looked at her, head tilted, and Jane had laughed. "I mean, you're always either haute couture or Medical Examiner, but when you're this height, bare feet, you're human." Jane shrugged as though she couldn't be more succinct, and Maura had to let it go. But it made sense now; the heels were part of her armour, and without them, Jane had been able to see her. See through her. At the time it had been terrifying, but now it was comforting.

Jane stands and stretches, and it looks like she actually intends to leave for the night, shaking Maura out of her musings.

"I can stay," Jane says, quickly picking up on Maura's melancholy mood. Maura shakes her head.

'You don't have to," Maura says softly, looking away. Four badly burned bodies; car accident, a whole family gone, and all for an insurance payout.

"But I want to," Jane says softly, sitting back down next to Maura. She reaches out a hesitant hand, covers one of Maura's with it. The scar is there; the scars are always there, and Maura knows how Jane feels about having them that visible. She knows it makes Jane feel as vulnerable as her bare feet make her feel. Maura looks up and nods, sliding closer on the couch, Jane's arms opening to let her in next to her chest, closing around Maura as she settles in, her nose at the base of Jane's throat. Jane kicks off her boots and their bare feet tangle together on the couch.

Maura knows there is a difference between being hugged and being held, and that difference is that Jane Rizzoli will never let her go.