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The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Angela Rizzoli couldn’t agree more. If someone had told her ten years ago that she’d be remarried, of all things, to a wonderful man who treated her like gold and back to living in her very own house in Boston, she would have been surprised, sure, but she would have wanted to believe it. Just like she would have wanted to believe that Tommy would get his life together, and now he had, with his own apartment and full custody of his sweet, polite little boy and a good job with a steady paycheck. And then there was Frankie, having gained all the things Angela ever could have wanted for her son - a decorated career, a loving wife, and a year old daughter with another baby on the way. Even her ex-husband seemed to have redeemed himself enough so that when he visited for the occasional wedding or baptism or birthday, things weren’t the complete disaster it had been. Everything, Angela mused as she stood at Maura’s island like she had so many times over the last ten years, was as it should be.

Except Jane. 

And Maura, by default.

Angela sighed as she thought back on the last five years. The three week vacation in Paris that hadn’t served as an aid for a clean break, but rather a catalyst for...Angela didn’t even know how to term it. A multi-state friendship? A bi-city codependence? All of it was a bit over her head. But what she did know was that although Jane did move to DC in the end and although Maura took a long sabbatical to write mystery novels in Maine, other habits seemed to die hard. 

Maura had gone back to the ME’s office after her first novel was released. She’d enjoyed writing it, she told Angela one afternoon over tea, but not enough to walk away from pathology forever. And she’d really loathed the multi-city book tour her publisher sent her on, Maura had gone on to confess hesitantly. She’d missed home and dreaded the social interactions and felt awfully lonely, even in the nice hotels in the popular destinations she’d been scheduled for. So it wasn’t too long before Maura was working as a Medical Examiner again and especially not long until the governor put her back in the Chief’s chair. 

Angela had watched with relief as Maura came more and more back into herself, hoping on some level that it would rub off on Jane. Jane, who was seemingly an excellent FBI instructor, who now had a safe and sometimes boring job with regular hours and little danger. But Jane’s life in DC seemed stagnant to Angela and as lonely as Maura’s months on the road had been. Angela listened closely for any hint that Jane was dating, socializing, anything at all, on their somewhat regular calls, but there was barely a mention of anyone besides the recruits and her coworkers. Angela wondered sometimes how Jane and Maura had ever managed to befriend one another considering how terrible they both seemed to be at befriending anyone else. But Maura had the Rizzolis to see regularly and her own family swinging in for visits and her usual charity events and causes that Angela didn’t worry quite so much about her social life. 

Jane’s, on the other hand, seemed to be nonexistent.

Angela let it go for as long as she could before finally going to Maura to meddle. She’d spilled, in a long and surprisingly tearful confession, how worried she was that Jane was floundering in DC and it was all Angela’s fault for pushing her down there in the first place. And Maura’s response was also surprising - mostly for its candidness, but also in that it left Angela completely unsure as to whether she felt better or worse.

“Jane’s not dating anyone,” Maura had answered quickly. “That, I’m sure of. She would have mentioned something and she hasn’t once.”

“Not ever?” Angela zeroed in on Maura’s word choice. “You mean to tell me that Jane, in all of her time in Washington, hasn’t dated anyone?”

“She’s never mentioned dating. In any sort of way. Men or women.” Maura watched Angela so intently for a response that Angela could nearly feel her eyes boring into her face.

“That’s a shame,” Angela said finally. “I wouldn’t care at this point if it was a man or a woman, as long as she had someone. I never imagined that Jane would end up in DC completely alone. What about friends? Does she ever talk to you about seeing people? I listen and listen for names and she hardly gives me anything. It’s different with you.”

“I don’t think she goes out much,” Maura confessed. “I’ve tried talking to her about it but she doesn’t seem all that interested. She’d rather take time to visit up here than make the effort down there.”

“Or get you to go down and see her,” Angela pointed out. It was at that point that something persistent, but still far away, began to blossom in her mind. “All this time, all these states apart, and you’re still the most important person in her life.”

“As she is to me,” Maura replied, her answer so swift that it pushed Angela’s far away issue closer to conscious awareness. 

Angela shoved her nagging subconscious away to be examined at another more appropriate time, but couldn’t resist a final prodding. “Women, too,” she asked casually but while watching Maura with the same intent that Maura had projected onto her earlier.

Now Maura looked uncomfortable. “We’ve never talked about it,” she answered finally, slowly. “So I don’t know, really. But if I’m to fully answer your question, she’s not involved with anyone. Men or women. Romantically or otherwise. From what I can see.”

“I think you see quite a lot, Maura.” Angela wiped her eyes a bit and turned to go. “And that might all be true for Jane, I suppose. Except you.”

“Except me?” Angela couldn’t resist the small satisfaction that came whenever she stumped the brilliant Doctor Isles. Her surrogate daughter.

“Yes, except you.” Angela smiled as she let the words sink in a bit before elaborating. “Like you said, she’s not involved with anyone. Except you.”

Angela thought back on her and Maura’s particularly telling conversation as she observed the very subjects of her musings before her. Here they were, on another Saturday in another October of another year, like actors in a play that marched on and on and on. And, as usual, this one featured Angela stopping in at Maura’s to visit her daughter, who was up from DC for the umpteenth time this year, this month, to find the two of them engrossed in the highlight reel from the MLB playoffs. 

Five years and nothing to show for it. Angela felt an unexpected bubble of frustration explode in her chest. She’d tried. She really had. She was fully aware that Jane had left DC for all sort of reasons, some good and some questionable, but that a great deal of it had boiled down to Jane finally listening to her mother and closing the door on the “line of duty” part of her life, and she’d felt guilty at first when she’d watched Jane try so hard to fit herself into her new life but struggle endlessly. Square peg, meet round hole.

But she’d tried, Angela reasoned. Both of her girls had. Jane was getting rave reviews as an instructor. She had a nice apartment with reasonable hours and great pay. Maura wrote a book so popular that she had readers clamoring for a sequel, which she wrote casually in her free time after she put in full days at the job she was passionate about and spent time with loved ones and with meaningful causes. And yet the two of them were still hopelessly bound to each other.

And not a single step closer to admitting it.

Angela had had enough.

She marched into Maura’s living room and planted herself in front of the TV, crossing her arms as Jane groaned and pleaded with her to move. 

“Turn it off, Jane,” she barked, as surprised at her tone as the girls seemed to be. Jane flicked a button on the remote, wide-eyed, as Maura straightened up beside her. Angela noted how Maura’s arm was linked with Jane's, and how her head had nearly been against Jane’s shoulder before she’d sat up anxiously at Angela’s sudden order.

“Ma, what the hell?”

“Be quiet, Jane.” Angela felt the floodgates starting to open. “When are the two of you going to wake up?” She watched the two of them look quickly at one another before directing their now definitely nervous glances back to Angela. 

“Wake up how,” Maura asked first, seemingly for the both of them. Angela watched Jane squeeze her thigh comfortingly. How had this never occurred to her before? They were nearly on top of each other on the sofa.

“It’s been five years.” Angela felt herself revving up for the monologue of her life, even as she could somewhat acknowledge that the last time she went on a rant of this magnitude, Jane had ultimately quit her job and moved away. “Five years. Ron and I are married. Frankie’s got a wife and kids. Tommy got his act together. And here the two of you sit watching baseball. Again.”

“Ma!” Jane’s face had quickly morphed from confused to pissed off in a matter of seconds. A new record, even by Angela’s standards. “Do you know how insulting that is? To boil Maura and me down to what...what worked for you and Ron? Or Frankie and Tommy? That’s bullshit and you know it. We’re perfectly happy.”

“Perfectly happy how,” Angela challenged. “You in DC, Maura up here. It would have made more sense if you, I don’t know, made some friends or dated or anything, and tried to start a life down there. But you haven’t, have you? And how could you since you’re up here or Maura’s down there?” This was not all coming out in any way that made sense, and all it seemed to be doing was making Jane madder.

“I know that you are not standing here, in Maura’s house, acting like you are blaming Maura for my life, or lack thereof apparently, in Washington.” Jane’s voice dropped to deadly levels.

Angela chanced a look at Maura and relented. “Maura, honey, that is not what I mean,” she offered earnestly. “It’s just that....this is all coming out all wrong. I worry about you two.”

“But why,” Maura asked softly, reaching for Jane’s balled hand beside her and carefully easing it open. “Why is this all coming up now?”

“Because I worry about the two of you wasting your lives,” Angela burst out, suddenly desperate to finish what she had started. “And maybe that sounds terrible, because you’re both so accomplished and overachievers and all of that. But it’s been five years. And so much has changed but nothing has at the same time. And here both of you are. Neither of you have had any sort of serious relationship in years. And neither of you even tried to make friends since you’ve been without the other. Don’t you want more than just your jobs?” She paused to take a breath, noting that Jane and Maura’s eyes were glued to her. “Maura, you’re forty five this year. And Jane, you’re not far behind. I’m just afraid that by the time the two of you realize what you want, your window is going to close. And this is all you’ll ever have.”

Angela finished her little speech very nearly with tears in her eyes, so moved was she by her now verbalized fears. She let her thoughts wander as she collected herself, thinking about Jane five years from now, ten years from now and feeling more and more sad as she did so. Angela thought about Jane alone in her nice apartment in Washington, drinking beer and watching the Sox as she edged closer and closer to retirement, as she and her boys felt the love of their children and their spouses back home in Boston. She thought about Maura alone in her big house, dissecting dead bodies all day and writing mystery novels alone at night. She thought about how the only real light that the two of them seemed to have in their lives was the other, and their constant phone calls and weekend visits and joint vacations. And just as Angela began to register that maybe something was a little off here, she noted that neither Jane nor Maura seemed to be particularly upset by her passionate monologue. 

No, Angela realized, they weren’t upset at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. Maura was now firmly holding Jane’s hand and trying desperately not to smile as Jane tore her eyes from her mother to look Maura up and down. 

“If this is all I’ll ever have, I’m fine with that,” Jane told Maura breezily, almost as if Angela wasn’t even still in the room. 

Maura smiled fully at her daughter. “I am, too,”

Jane cut her eyes to Angela for the quickest of moments before turning back to Maura. “And I already know what I want. Do you?”

“I always have.” Now Maura looked Angela’s way too before turning back to Jane. What was going on here? “Your mother may have a point about the window though. For certain things.”

Jane’s answer was swift. “Then we’ll adopt. If you want to. Or foster. Or neither. We’ll make it work in whatever way we want it to be.”

“We always do.” Maura turned to look at Angela fully. “I guess we should probably fill your mom in,” she said to Jane, not unkindly, as she gave Angela a reassuring smile. 

Angela was coming to the uncomfortable conclusion that she’d somehow missed - or misread - quite a lot. “I, uh, don’t really know if that’s necessary,” she stammered a bit bashfully. “Maybe I sort of jumped to the wrong conclusions.”

Jane sighed, but smiled as Maura brushed her fingers across her knuckles. “We might have added to that a bit,” she admitted. “But on the bright side, I’m not going to end up alone.”

“And neither will I,” Maura added. “Angela, really, you don’t have anything to worry about with either of us. If I had realized how much this was bothering you, we wouldn’t have let it go this long.”

“How long has it been?” Angela couldn’t resist the questions as her mind raced. “I mean, Jane, really? The whole time? Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

“It wasn’t the whole time,” Jane explained softly to Angela even as she kept her eyes on Maura. “Well, sort of, because I think I always knew. And I think Maura did, too, even though we both didn’t act on it. But once I moved away, things got...clearer. And we eventually got on the same page.”

Maura’s lips quirked, reminding Angela that maybe she really didn’t need to know all of the details after all. “So I guess I don’t have to worry about you two anymore,” she commented. “I’ll have to find someone else to focus all that energy on. Because it was a lot, let me tell you.”

Jane snorted. “Who does that even leave? You might have actually worked through all the struggling Rizzolis in this family.”

Angela opened her mouth for damage control but Maura beat her to it. “You were never struggling,” she told Jane gently but pointedly. “We just needed time to do things in our own way.”

“Like always,” Angela couldn’t resist adding. She reached her hands out to both of her girls, tugging them both to their feet and then into a six-armed hug. Angela pulled back after a few moments, smiling as she watched Jane and Maura stay put in each other’s embrace. “Does this mean you’ll be making a more permanent appearance here, Jane.” She couldn’t keep the hope out of her voice. All three of her kids happily settled in the same city? Nothing could beat that.

Jane actually indulged her with an answer for once. “Probably soon,” she admitted. “Once Maura and I had things worked out, I just had to let the clock run down there for awhile. But I’m going to put some feelers out, start making moves to come back home.”

Angela clapped her hands together. “And this is like official? Like, the cat’s out of the bag?”

“It’s been official,” Jane emphasized as Maura lightly draped her arms around her waist. “It just didn’t need to be broadcast especially with both of us in different states and basically spending all of our holidays and vacations and whatever together anyway. But, yes, now that we had to reassure you that we weren’t heading for spinster territory, the cat is out of the bag. We’ll have to fill the rest of them in.”

“Spinster is kind of an insult, Jane,” Maura noted sternly even from her position tucked into Jane’s side. “There’s nothing wrong with being a long-term single woman. It’s society that puts all this pressure on women to get married and have children and makes it seem like it has to do with a woman’s worth.”

Jane rolled her eyes but squeezed Maura tighter. “Well, regardless, you don’t have to worry about that, do you?”

Maura’s eyes shone. “Nope. And neither do you.”

“And neither do I,” Angela gushed, suddenly elated. Her kids were alright - all three of them, plus her bonus daughter. And the subjects of her most constant worry had never truly been alone and floundering afterall. She’d overlook the deception until another day. “Boy, you two have a lot to fill me in on.”

Angela sauntered back toward the kitchen, unaware of the concerned looks passing between Maura and Jane until she looked back and caught the silent conversation. It had always been there, Angela realized suddenly. The talking without speaking. The soft gestures. The easy touches. The knowing looks. The love that was evident in all of their movements, their careful dance of years and years around and toward one another. 

The more things change, the more things stay the same.