This scene popped in my head so I'd thought I'd attempt to tell it. The story itself probably won't be more than three or four more chapters.

My one and only disclaimer is I do not own Criminal Minds or the characters **as sad as that is**

Oh read the chapter carefully not all is as it seems, and will be explained in the next chapter.

Happy reading and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

"Trust takes time to build, seconds to lose and twice as long to regain as it did to build in the first place."~unknown

Within Inches

The two Agents stepped in unison through the thick brush and searched through the darkness. The air that surrounded them held an eerie chill that became colder the deeper they traveled. They were trailed by distant flashes of lights that danced through the blackness around them. The only sound besides their boots breaking twigs and underbrush was the occasional voice in the earwig asking or giving a report. They held their guns tightly in front of them and their flashlights created their only line of vision. A casual glance or gesture was their communication but was minimal as they read each other perfectly through their movements.

When a clearing appeared they halted their progress and what the Agents were searching for came into focus right in front of them. She heard Emily's voice report that they found her, and JJ continued to move forward but was stopped when an arm came across her chest. She felt confused to what they needed to wait for and looked over for an answer, but was not given one. She saw concern in Emily's eyes and her breathing had increased, but other than that there were no words.

The lights continued to flicker in the distance but began to merge and move closer to their location. JJ turned her head back to their purpose. Carol Smith, the missing woman they had spent three days searching for was on the verge of collapse. She was bound and gaged and she tried to acknowledge her rescue but fear of any movement kept her frozen. A noose lay loosely around her neck and the rope was tied to a thick branch above her. She was perched on a makeshift wooden box that was shaking and threatened to tip with the slightest movement. One wrong move or start from her and she would hang. JJ knew Emily was being cautious but felt an overwhelming need to get to this helpless woman. Carol's eyes pleaded with them to save her, and JJ felt her heart drop when their eyes connected and she saw the fear that consumed her.

She took another look to Emily and felt a twang of anger begin to build at her hesitation. Her eyes shot back when she saw Carol move and lose her balance on the box and it began to shift. They had worked so hard to find and save her JJ couldn't wait for an okay and moved to put an end to the madness.

"Wait it could be a trap!"

Emily's words rung in her ears but it was too late. She felt her leg get tangled and when her sudden momentum was halted her body fell forward in a crash. She couldn't comprehend what felt like an object rushing past her as her head connected violently with a sharp rock that protruded from the ground.

The first sensation that was clear was the smell of the dirt and pine needles that surrounded her face. JJ tried to push herself up but failed at first as she felt her head swim from the action. She slowly got to her knees and when she brought her hand up to control the spinning she felt the warm blood that ran out of the gash on her forehead. All she could do was squeeze her eyes shut to gain some composure and control of herself. When she looked up again and her eyes began to focus she saw Carol kicking and bucking her body as the tight rope fought to steal her life.

JJ's panic was back and she stood to get to her and try and save her. The trees and ground tilted as she stumbled forward but she desperately fought against it. She yelled for Emily to help her and couldn't understand why she had not gotten to Carol yet. Emily hadn't been tripped or fighting a concussion, the anger to the lack of action on her partners part continued to bubble up. She planned to let her know how she felt once this woman was safe. When JJ got to her she found her focus enough to get the box up and loosen the noose. As the woman gasped for air JJ looked from her to where Emily had been standing.

When there was no one in the darkness she frantically scanned her surroundings. She found herself confused to where the brunette could have gone, but felt her heart stop and the breath leave her body when the scene in front of her was realized. She prayed the image was blurred from the darkness and her head injury but the light that lay on the ground told the complete story.

JJ's eyes followed passed the small cone of light and felt herself stiffen when she saw that Emily was not moving. She fought herself to really comprehend what was going on but the panic that filtered through her overtook any coherent thoughts. She couldn't hold back a scream as she saw the protrusion of the thin shaft from the assailant that had effortlessly forced its way through Emily's Kevlar and pierced her chest. The light caught a glimmer of the crimson liquid as it escaped and pooled into the now damp dirt. JJ ran to her side and could feel the tears as they streamed down her face and the sobs choked her as they remained caught in her throat.

Her brain shut off in an effort to not accept what she was seeing. JJ couldn't stop the shaking that had began to overwhelm her as she looked into the vacant dark eyes of her friend and followed the single line of blood that trailed from her mouth. She slowly reached out to her pale neck but knew she would not feel the desired thumping of Emily's heart on the tips of her fingers. She held her fingers in their position in hopes a pulse would appear but JJ knew better. She could no longer hold back the sobs that escaped and she begged for it not to be true. She gently caressed Emily's forehead and cheek as she continued to plead for her to come back. Her head had dropped in defeat when a sudden voice from behind her shook her back to reality.

"It's your fault Jennifer."

She turned to see the woman she just saved standing over her.

"Did you hear me JJ? Jennifer?"

She looked back to her friend and felt the nausea overwhelm her.

"No!" She cried and placed her arm across Emily's unmoving chest and buried her head.

The voice was there again and more forceful, "Jennifer, do you hear me?"

"Stop!" She yelled back and shot up to face the accuser.

The bright light of the morning sun assaulted her eyes. JJ blinked and when she regained focus she saw Will leaning over her, and his face was full of concern. JJ couldn't allow herself to look at him and she focused on trying to control the tremors as they wracked her body. She closed her eyes again to try and shake the feeling the nightmare always left in its wake.

"JJ it's okay." Will tried to assure as he stroked her arm gently. She couldn't help but cringe and turn away. She climbed out of the bed and pushed her way into the bathroom.

"You can't keep blaming yourself." He called after her. She wanted to slam the door to not hear his words, but found she didn't have the energy to even do that. She clung to the sink and avoided the mirror and what she could only imagine as her horrid appearance.

She shook her head and responded back, "How can you say that Will? You have no clue what happened out there."

"No but I know she doesn't blame you and wouldn't want you to dwell."

She felt her hands squeeze the edge of the tile as she fought the nausea that came on in a sudden wave. She swallowed and choked out a response and didn't hold back the irritation that was laced in her tone. "Right, and you had a conversation with her and she told you that."

"Don't be like that."

JJ didn't want to hear the hurt in his voice and felt the guilt of how she had been treating him since they returned from the real nightmare. He tried to be as supportive as he could but he hadn't been out there in the darkness with them, and she found herself pushing him away. He had respected her desire for space but it didn't help her guilt.

She moved back into the room and her head fell forward, "I'm sorry its just I'm so scared to face everyone."

Will pulled her into a hug and she didn't attempt to resist and placed her head on his shoulder. She fought the tears that began to well up in her eyes and she was surprised that she had any left to shed.

Will spoke softly into her ear, "you don't have to go back it hasn't even been a week. Maybe you need to give it some more time."

She pulled away and stood up a little taller, "no I need to go back, I can't hide any more."

Hope you liked it and I'd love to hear what you think!

Oh I almost forgot thank you to Honorcpt for the push! :O)

Also I hope to have Locked Out finished and up soon..fingers crossed!