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You call, and I come running

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Maura didn't ask for things; she didn't know how. Even as a child, she didn't know how. She never asked to leave the classroom when she needed the bathroom, she never asked Constance if she could go to a summer camp, never asked Arthur if she could come along to lectures. She always felt like she had to be self-sufficient. She knew she was lucky, knew she had a privileged life, especially for an adopted child. She never wanted to push it, to ask for more when she already had so much.

It was ok at work. She could ask for scalpels, for tests, for results. She could ask her staff to complete jobs for her. She could ask for a pay raise, based on her performance and trauma suffered in her role. But in her personal life, she never asked. People had always found her awkward and off-putting, and she didn't want to stretch her strained social circle any thinner by asking for help or assistance in any way. But things had changed. She'd asked Angela to move in; well, she'd offered her the guest house, but she'd wanted Angela to move in. It wasn't so much a favour for Angela as it was for Maura. Her house had suddenly been filled with Rizzolis, and the company comforted her. Even Angela alone was more than enough, feeding Bass on nights Maura was home late, a motherly presence she'd never known. When Maura fell asleep on the couch, she woke up with her head on Angela's shoulder, or to Angela shaking her gently and helping her stumble to her bedroom, tucking her in. Maura had never felt like a little girl, even when she had been one. She knew Jane found this part of Angela annoying, that Jane thought Angela still thought of Jane as a child, but Angela had only known Maura as an adult, still treated her like someone who needed mothering. And sometimes, Maura did.

The Rizzolis asked a lot from her, but she got so much more back in return.

Like now. It was raining, and Jane's car hadn't started so Maura had run her home. They'd gotten wet between the restaurant they'd gone to after work and the car, so Jane invited Maura in to dry off as the rain got heavier. Tit for tat. Favour for favour. Jane turned on the heating and grabbed some sweatpants, throwing them at Maura on her way to the bathroom. Maura showered after her, the rain outside only getting more intense. She came out tentatively, looking at Jane on the couch, her hair loose and wild and still damp, her skin glowing in the lamplight, the white tank top tight and juxtaposed against her dark skin. Maura licked her lips nervously. Maura liked wearing Jane's clothes sometimes, even if she had to roll up the pant legs, even if the chest of Jane's BPD workout shirt clung to her. It just meant that Jane's eyes were drawn to her chest. Maura was used to appreciative looks from almost everyone she encountered, but the shy, fleeting glances from Jane warmed her instead of making her feel objectified.

She joined Jane on the couch, savoured the moment Jane's eyes slid down for a moment, the pinkening of Jane's cheeks as her eyes slid away. Jane had The Discovery Channel on; Maura had seen this episode of the program before and knew it was full of inaccuracies. Jane's smile as Maura corrected the show was soft and indulgent, and Maura knew then that, as much as she might complain, Jane enjoyed letting Maura correct inaccurate sources.

"It's really coming down out there," Jane commented later, stroking Jo's ears absently. Maura took a deep breath.

"Would it..." she trailed off. "Could I..." Jane looked at her patiently as Maura took another breath.

"Calm down," Jane said, moving her hand so she was rubbing Maura's hand the same way she'd been rubbing Jo's head. "Whatever you need. Just ask."

"I'm trying," Maura huffed, turning her hand so their palms met, getting strength from the way Jane's hand clasped hers habitually. "Can I please stay? Here? Tonight?"

"Of course," Jane smiled. "Why did you think I gave you pyjamas." Maura looked down; it was a workout outfit to her, but she had seen Jane wear the same clothes to bed. She nodded, still uncertain. "Besides, after today I don't really want to be alone either." The case had been brutal; a rape, what had looked like a suicide, another victim falling through the cracks of the justice system. No matter how many of these they put away, there were more out there, always more. Always out there. Maura tried not to let it haunt her, but sometimes it followed her home, made her uneasy in a crowd.

Maura had never asked to stay, and Jane had never asked Maura to stay. They'd just move their conversation from room to room without mentioning it. Jane had tried to ask about it, at the start, but Maura had always managed not to address it. Part of it was the single bed, the awkwardness of talking about sleeping in the same bed. Part of it was not wanting to be turned down, part of it was not wanting to put words to what they were doing.

Jane stood and walked to the window, looking out at the storm. Maura joined her, glad not to be driving home through the downpour.

"Can I please hug you?" Maura asked, and Jane was already turning to wrap her arms around Maura's shoulders, their bodies pressed together. Maura's hands went around Jane's waist, aware of how much taller Jane was, how she had to turn her head instead of putting it over Jane's shoulder like she did when she was in heels. She was aware of Jane's thin, wiry frame pressed against her, aware that Jane had also foregone a bra under her tank top. She was aware of Jane's hands wandering across Maura's back, how firm and strong and comforting her hands were. She was aware of the telltale hormonal reaction she frequently got from this kind of contact from Jane, aware that her chin was resting against the bare skin of Jane's upper chest. Oxytocin. Dopamine. Her eyes closed, trying to force away the attraction she felt, trying to react the way a woman felt when another woman hugged them. If neither of them were attracted to women. At some point she was going to have to address the fact that she found women attractive, that she was attracted to women, that she found Jane attractive. It was the attitude, her confidence. The way Jane touched her was so confident, like she knew Maura as well as she knew herself, like Maura was an extension of her own body. And Maura still hesitated sometimes to touch Jane even on the shoulder, and now Jane's hand was over Maura's hip, almost on her butt, and Jane had tensed, the way she sometimes did when they hugged when they were alone, when they didn't have to pull away from each other.

Maura let her thumbs trace Jane's iliac crest, felt Jane relax again as Maura's hands moved across her back. Felt Jane drop a kiss against the top of Maura's head. Maura pulled back a little. Jane was safe. Jane was a safe person to ask for things from. Jane had said 'whatever you need, just ask'. And that had been true through time, but Maura rarely had to ask. Jane usually anticipated. Extrapolated from Maura's behaviour, came to a conclusion based solely on theory. And she'd always been right so far. Maura pulled back a little more, arms still tight around Jane's waist, looking into Jane's eyes, then down to her mouth. Jane's mouth quirked nervously, hands slowing as they continued to rub at Maura's back.

They'd kissed before, a brief press of lips, casual and quick, as though they'd missed each other's cheek on the way past, as though they were the kind of friends that kissed platonically, as though there was anything platonic about it. They'd started out when Jane had kissed Maura's cheek once, after months of Jane kissing Maura's temple or head when they hugged, and the cheek kisses had crept closer and closer to Maura's mouth until it went from abnormal to normal for them to kiss each other goodbye, even if they only ever did it when none of the other Rizzolis were around, never at work or at The Dirty Robber. Only once in the lab, Susie's eyes wide and surprised, followed by a silent nod of approval. It was always Jane leaning in, always Jane initiating, but Jane just stared at Maura, stiff again, uncertain for once as Maura breathed in again.

"Can I..." Maura started to ask, still looking at Jane's mouth, already knowing how soft it was. Jane had made her ask the full questions before, but this time she smiled and nodded encouragingly. She'd relaxed a little, leaned forward to rest her forehead against Maura's. "Can I kiss you?" Maura asked finally. Jane nodded again against Maura's head.

"Should I have been asking?" Jane answered Maura's question with a question, voice low and quiet, confidential, and Maura pulled her arms away so she could loop them around Jane's neck, thumb rubbing the discs of Jane's spinal column.

"I'd have said something if I'd minded," Maura said as Jane straightened up a little, resting her cheek against Maura's temple.

"Would you? You're very polite. You never know how to confront someone."

"I could have pulled away. I didn't want to. I couldn't."

"In case you ruined our friendship? In case you made me mad?"

"Because you were doing something I wasn't brave enough to ask for."

"You did just ask," Jane remembered, taking her hands from Maura's waist as she pulled away, placing her palm on Maura's cheek.

"And you didn't answer," Maura pointed out in a small voice, looking down between them. Jane's white tank top was tight across her chest, and the house was no longer cold enough to be the primary cause of that physiological reaction. Maura blushed and looked away. Jane's hand tilted Maura's chin back up to look at her, eyes sweeping Maura's face in search for an answer of her own.

"I didn't, did I?" Jane asked, leaning in, pressing her mouth gently against Maura's. "Does that answer your question?" she asked when she pulled away. It was longer than their usual pecks, softer, kinder. Unhurried. Jane's thumb was barely brushing Maura's cheek, and she shook her head, shaking off Jane's hands.

"I asked if I could kiss you," Maura reminded her. "Please," she added, remembering her manners. Jane nodded, watched Maura's mouth quirk with uncertainty.

"Yes," Jane said finally. "Yes, please." Her hands had slid down to Maura's clavicles, loose, not gripping Maura but still present as Maura moved her hands to cup Jane's face, standing on tiptoe as she tilted Jane's face down. Maura's mouth was usually firmly closed when Jane kissed her, but when Maura kissed Jane it stayed slack and soft, relaxed, and Jane's mouth opened to welcome her, responding in kind, meeting and matching Maura's movements as she pressed forward, pushing Jane back against the window. There was a flash of lightning from the window as the power went out; not just inside the condo but outside; the streetlights and traffic lights shut off, every window invisible in the dark now. It wasn't until the rumble of thunder had faded that Maura pulled away, wondering if passion had blinded her.

"Beacon Hill runs off a different power station," Maura said practically, when she'd figured it out, wishing she could see Jane, could gauge her expression. "We can go to my place."

"I can think of something we can do to keep warm," Jane said, her voice low, the register like kindling to the desire Maura had kept at bay for so long. Maura hesitated; she'd had a lot of one night stands, but that was because she neither wanted nor cared to know more about those people. She knew instinctively that this wouldn't be a one-time thing, that she'd have to see Jane tomorrow, at work, for the rest of her life. But tonight she'd already put so much on the line, what was a little more? But what if one of them didn't like it, didn't want it? Would she be able to live with Jane as someone she'd kissed once? Could she live with herself if Jane was someone she'd only kissed once?

She'd known she was going to enjoy kissing Jane; she just hadn't thought she was ever going to get the courage to finally do it. The fear and tension from that had been overwhelming, even with Jane's encouragement. She didn't know if she could handle any more tonight. She let her head tilt forward until it rested against Jane's cheek, her mouth against Jane's collarbone, eyes closing as Jane pulled her close again.

"We don't have to," Jane mumbled comfortingly, as though she knew Maura's whirring thoughts. "I know it's a lot to process." The way Jane's hands ran over her hadn't changed, and that thought was almost as comforting as Jane's hands themselves.

"It is late, and I did ask to stay," Maura said quietly, aware of the drag of her lips against Jane's skin as she spoke.

"You never ask for anything, so as much as I know it was hard for you to ask, if you want to go home - and take me and Jo with you - we can go. Or if you don't want to take us. Whatever you want," Jane reiterated.

"I want to stay," Maura said. "Whatever that means." The lights flickered on again, the microwave making a loud angry beep, and they both turned at the sudden noise, the cheer they could hear from the neighbourhood from the windows. Maura looked up at Jane, who looked - for once - uncertain. Maura took Jane's hand. "Whatever this means."

"It means everything," Jane whispered, smiling as Maura's hand found hers. "You... you mean..." Jane ducked down to kiss Maura again, lazy and relaxed. Being kissed by Jane was the easiest thing in the world, but later there would be Jane's family to deal with, their workplace to deal with. But Jane had as much as said that this was more than a hormonal surge, or an unplanned, unexpected thing that would only happen once. They'd both given each other the chance to stop, to back away, and neither of them had. Looking back, Jane was the longest, most stable relationship she'd ever had. They communicated about everything, even when they were mad at each other, even when they were sick, even when they were busy or angry. Everything except this, which seemed so silly now. Jane had been kissing her for months, Jane had always held her like she was something precious to be treasured. And Maura had been so scared that she'd been reading Jane wrong, that her social ineptitude had her reading into things.

"Jane. I would very much like you to take me to bed, and if that works as well as I hope it will, given our natural chemistry and other compatibilities, I would very much like to enter an exclusive romantic and sexual relationship with you. Those are my intentions towards you." Jane chuckled and kissed Maura again.

"No further questions," Jane said. "The defense rests."

"No rest for you. I'm going to ask you to do a lot of things," Maura promised, finally stepping away from Jane, letting her hand drop down to Jane's so she could lead her to the bedroom. "And I expect full compliance."

"Yes Ma'am," Jane said, and Maura looked back, caught her silly grin and kissed it right off of her face.