"Are you warm enough

Title: The Right Thing
Author: Janine
Fandom: Army Wives
Pairing: Claudia Joy/Denise, pre-slash
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I don't own them.
Note: Takes place during episode 2x02, at the Holden's after Claudia Joy's panic attack Somewhat AU in that in this piece Roxy doesn't come in and interrupt Claudia Joy and Denise's sensitive chat.

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"Are you warm enough?" Denise asked, already leaning over Claudia Joy, reaching for the blanket that was loosely draped over the lounging woman to pull it more securely over her. She knew it wasn't necessary, that Claudia Joy was more likely to be overly warm rather than cold considering the wraps and blankets she had already brought for her. But, she needed to do something. She needed to feel like she was helping Claudia Joy in some way.

"I," Claudia Joy said softly, her head turning to focus on Denise as she spoke. But no other words came out of her mouth. Instead, she simply reached out for Denise's hand and squeezed it, holding it firmly in hers.

Denise sat back down on the edge of the bed and brought her other hand over to cover Claudia Joy's, allowing her thumb to stroke the back of her friend's hand as they sat together in a companionable silence.

"Stay," Claudia Joy said softly, her voice almost inaudible. "For a while," she elaborated a second later, her voice cracking as she spoke.

Denise blinked, her eyes burning as she tried to contain the tears welling in them. She had never heard Claudia Joy sound so vulnerable, so broken. It made every part of her ache in sympathy.

"Of course," Denise choked out, squeezing Claudia Joy's hand for emphasis, only releasing the appendage when Claudia Joy began to shift to make room beside her on the bed.

Denise settled down on the mattress quickly, drawing the blanket over them both, and then reached for Claudia Joy's hand once more, holding it tightly as they lay together.

It started with a slight tremble in Claudia Joy's hand, and then moved up her arms, over her torso and down her legs until her entire body was shaking.

"Clau …" Denise began turning her head to face the other woman. But, before she could even get the rest of Claudia Joy's name out of her mouth, the woman other gasped, her features transforming into a mask of anguish before she began to cry, to sob.

Denise moved quickly, wrapping her arms around Claudia Joy, drawing her into her body, kissing her forehead and stroking her hair as she murmured soft, ultimately meaningless, but presently soothing words to her friend, as Claudia Joy clung to her, pressing their bodies together as if Denise was the only thing holding her together.

"I'm," Claudia Joy began to say long moments later, finally beginning to control of the wracking sobs that had taken over her body.

Denise reached up, pressing a finger to her lips, silencing her before she could get another syllable out of her mouth.

"Don't," Denise said softly, shaking her head as she spoke, her eyes never straying from Claudia Joy's as she did. "It's okay," she continued seriously, her thumb moving to stroke Claudia Joy's cheek. "You don't always have to be strong. It's okay to let go. I'm here. I'll take care of you," she finished leaning forward to brush her lips against Claudia Joy's forehead.

Claudia Joy closed her eyes, breathing in and out deeply a few times before opening her eyes again. She nodded, and they settled back down on the bed, Claudia Joy's head on Denise's shoulder as Denise rubbed her back tenderly.

"Denise," Claudia Joy said softly, minutes later, warm breath tickling Denise's neck. "You do say and do the right things," she whispered, breathing in deeply and closing her eyes, allowing Denise's scent and the feel of her body against her own to comfort her. "I couldn't function without you right now," she finished truthfully, wrapping her arms more securely around Denise's waist as if she was afraid that the other woman would disappear now that her need had been voiced.

"Thank you," Denise breathed out, her hand lifting to Claudia Joy's face, her fingers brushing back some stray strands of brown hair. She released a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding, and leaned forward.

Her lips dusted Claudia Joy's forehead, and then her nose, and then her cheeks, and then her mouth before she leaned back again, allowing Claudia Joy to settle against her once more.

"Thank you," Claudia Joy said, her breath evening out.

Denise returned to stroking her back lightly and Claudia Joy felt her eyes begin to flutter shut. The steady rise and fall of Denise's chest and the warmth of her body were relaxing her in a way she hadn't felt since she woke up in the hospital.

Trusting Denise's early words, Claudia Joy allowed her eyes to close and gave herself up to Denise's care, drifting off into a fitful, dreamless sleep for the first time in days.

The End