She woke with a shiver, icy air filling her lungs, everything around her steeped in darkness. Their fire must have gone out at some point in the last hour or two, she realized. And even though the days could be warm, blustery and bright with the sun on your back, out here in the emptiness of the arid grasslands the nights turned cold with little warning.
The vast sky over her head shimmered with the pulses of a thousand constellations. Dorothy didn't know if they were her stars – there were no familiar patterns she could find – but she hoped that they were. Maybe home was closer than she imagined; maybe it wouldn't be so hard to find her way back.
She curled inward, arms tucked against her chest as she protectively drew her hands back into the sleeves of her jacket. For a moment, her mind flashed back to the blanket that Ojo had given her, a thick, red pelt that she had hugged around her shoulders up until the point they reached the road to Emerald City. What she wouldn't give for that blanket now, to feel it snugly enveloping her in a warm, forgetful cocoon. Because what she wanted – what she needed – was to get back to sleep, and maybe then she would be lucky enough to dream of hot showers and mugs of cocoa, of afternoons sitting by the pool and taking in the rays of the sun.
But sleep eluded her, the biting edge of cold making it impossible to fully relax, and all she could do was draw her body together more tightly, hoping to conserve what little warmth she had.
She thought about calling out for Toto – the dog, at least, might provide something for her to wrap her arms around – but she didn't want to wake Lucas, lying still and quiet on the other side of the now-extinguished fire. He seemed entirely unfazed by the temperature, and she imagined that in his previous life, in all his time in the Guard, he had slept outside frequently enough to have become hardened to the elements. Was it pride, then, that kept her from making a sound – or just vanity? Did some part of her worry that he might think less of her if she couldn't tough it out the way he could?
And then she began to shake inside her jacket, her teeth softly chattering against each other. In her mind, she started to check off the symptoms of hypothermia; when she reached weakened pulse, she told herself, then she would wake him and see if they could do something to restart the fire.
It was only a few moments later that she heard the rustle and scrape of movement and she opened her eyes to see a shadowy outline rise up onto its feet and begin to walk over towards her.
"Lucas?" she half-whispered, her throat thick with cold.
He didn't say anything, and instead pulled off his long coat and then sat down next to her on the ground. With a quick flourish, he draped his coat over the two of them, and before she could even process what he was doing, he had laid down on his side, his chest only a few inches from her back.
"What are you…?" she protested, until she began to feel the warmth of him surrounding her, a sensation that almost made her want to groan in relief.
"I could hear you freezing from all the way over there," he said, as he tucked in the edges of the coat around their bodies, doing his best to trap the heat inside their tiny fabricated nest. "How long were you going to wait before you said anything?"
"I don't know," she mumbled as she shifted completely onto her side, feeling childish and more than a little embarrassed. His arm snaked its way past her shoulders and she found herself gently resting her head against the firm, rounded muscle of his biceps, the rest of her body easing slightly back against his. He was solid and warm even through multiple layers of clothing.
It was clear, though, that he didn't quite know what to do with his other arm, and after a moment of trying to balance it awkwardly along his side, he gave up and draped it over the curve of her waist. He didn't try to curl it around her or make any attempt to pull her closer, and she felt a tiny tug of disappointment. It was silly, she knew; they were close enough already, close enough to stave off the chill, and definitely close enough to resemble people who had just recently – she remembered the way he had said it – laid together. And it was the thought of that which brought a warm, coiling sensation to her belly, a flush creeping up her chest even in the bitter cold.
She had been trying not to think of that for several days now, trying not to think of it when he protectively placed his hands around her as they watched the witch's keep explode into nothingness, when he grinned over at her with his ridiculous puppy dog eyes, when she found him on that beach wearing nothing but his trousers and a well-placed strip of gauze.
There wasn't time to think of that, not when she so desperately needed to find her way home.
But now that she was, it was difficult to think about anything else.
His breath was warm against the top of her ear, sending shivers – of an entirely different kind – down the length of her neck. And there was something deliciously possessive in the weight of his arm as it lay across her ribs, as if tucking her under a broad, expansive wing. It was surprising, how much she didn't mind it at all – normally, she wasn't given to sticking around afterwards and cuddling, as the thought of having someone latching onto her as she slept always made her skin grow tight and itchy. And even though Sam often pleaded with her to stay the night after they were done, in her mind she was already gone, in her truck and half-way down the road that led her home.
But with Lucas it felt different, somehow. It felt good. More than good, in fact. It felt like she could sleep for a hundred years and never want to get up again, not even once the sun rose up in pinks and golds and the road beckoned her once more. It felt like she could close her eyes and finally feel safe, all the world kept at bay, if only for a few hours.
Her eyelids began to feel immensely heavy, drowsiness overcoming her now that she no longer felt the cold. Before she succumbed, though, she felt the need to make it clear that she was still the kind of woman who could take care of herself, who didn't need to be protected by him all the time.
"You didn't have to come over here, you know," she murmured. "I would have been okay."
He made a soft chuff of amusement. "Did you ever stop to think you might not have been the only one who was cold?"
In the darkness, she felt her cheeks rounding with a bashful smile, and if she managed to blush, she was grateful of the fact that he would never know.
Purely out of impulse – even though it felt like the only thing she could do at that moment – she managed to find his hand and lace her fingers into his, pulling his arm up tightly around her body until all she could feel was the long length of him, meeting her at shoulder, hip, and knee. His hand was warm as it gently squeezed hers and then he shifted and settled a little behind her, his nose momentarily brushing along the loose tendrils of her hair. There was something even better than Ojo's blanket, she realized as she finally gave in to the pull of sleep, and it had been with her all along.