A/N: One-shot about Paige and Emily after 3x12. It was something that I knew I wouldn't be able to get out of my head until I posted it. So I did. As always, reviews are much appreciated.

Three days, seven hours and fourteen minutes. That was how long it had been since Emily last kissed her. That was how long it had been since she felt safe.

After the last kiss, curled up on the window seat together, there had been the waiting. And endless amount of time that she had been so sure would go on forever. Even after Nate, or Lyndon or whoever he was had yanked her out of the closet and thrown her on the couch next to Emily, she had still only been biding her time until something happened. The moment she had seen the other girl, she had known that between the three of them, someone was going to die.

It was never going to be her. Or at least the thought hadn't crossed her mind until well after the duct tape had been pulled off of her mouth and her parents had been called. The second she had seen who was behind her captivity, it had been clear that Emily was the one who was truly in danger. The only thing scarier than being kidnapped was watching her kidnapper chase the girl she loved out the door.

After talking to the cops, something so exhausting that it made her wonder how Emily and her friends had gone through it so many times, there had come sleep. Upon arriving back at her house, she had quickly downed two Tylenol PM's and passed out, for lack of a better phrase.

Thirteen hours, four missed calls and twelve text messages later, she had awoken groggy and sore, her memory of the previous night hazy. Only taking the time to answer Emily and tell her that she was okay, she had promptly fallen back asleep until the next morning.

Her parents voices had filtered in through her sleep, words like trauma and shock and post traumatic stress barely registering. Did they really apply to her? Maybe. But when she was looking back on those events, she chose to chalk her fatigue up to the fact that she hadn't really slept since seeing Emily kiss someone that wasn't her and drowsy medicine had always had an adverse effect on her.

The two days after her marathon sleep had come to an end had been taxing, to say the least. She had thought that the questioning would be over after the police sent her home. How wrong she was. When faced with being along with both of her parents for the first time, she almost preferred the cops. Countless questions were thrown at her, about Emily, Maya, Nate, reverberating around in her skull, preventing her from being able to sort out what had happened on her own.

They were so certain she was horribly scarred for life that they refused to let her leave her the house. They wouldn't even let her stay home alone. Because in addition to refusing to leave her alone, they also forbid her from seeing Emily, which turned out to be the one thing that upset her more than anything.

To get by, she waited until her parents were long gone into their room at night, dialing Emily's number and whispering to her until the sun began to rise. They talked about everything. What had happened. Maya. Alison. The fact that they both could have been killed. Surprisingly, Emily wasn't nearly as torn up about someone dying at her hands as Paige would have thought. It probably had something to do with the fact that he had murdered the second girl she had ever been in love with.

For those two nights, nothing was off limits, and for once, Paige felt that Emily was giving her a VIP pass into her life, leaving nothing in the dark.

But it wasn't enough.

She ached to see Emily, to touch her, to have physical, solid proof that she was alive and breathing and okay. Still, she knew that pressing her parents would only delay them even more. So after three days of what felt more like captivity than being tied up in a closet, Paige's parents finally left for work, only after making her promise again and again to call if she needed anything at all.

Ten minutes later, Emily was on her doorstep. And she was perfect, just like always.

After Paige had opened the door, they stared at each other until she began to feel slightly awkward. It wasn't often that Emily just looked at her (it was usually the other way around) and Paige found herself shifting uncomfortably under the scrutiny.

"You're okay." She had forgotten the way Emily's voice made her feel. Happy. Content. Alive. Right then, the relief was palpable in Emily's statement, mirroring Paige's feelings exactly. They were both okay. They were fine and they were together and they would both be okay.

"It looks that way," Paige quipped, having no other response in her head. Sarcasm was her main method of getting herself out of any awkward situation and briefly, she worried Emily might not be in the state to deal with it. Luckily, the other girl's mouth twitched and then she was rushing towards her, breathing out the words Paige had been dying to hear in person.

"I've missed you." She would have preferred an 'I love you' but she would take what she could get. Somehow, they ended up tangled together, Emily wrapping herself around Paige and squeezing her so tightly that her ribs began to ache and she worried she wouldn't be able to breath soon. Still, she wouldn't dream of pulling herself away.

Time passed where they stood, embracing in the middle of her open front door, even though it was a little chilly outside and Emily's face had been flushed upon arriving. Eventually, Paige's ribs began to ache even more from the two pretty hard kicks she had received and she squirmed a little, only to relieve the pressure.

Instantly, a space appeared between their bodies much to Paige's dismay, and she was now able to see the look on concern on Emily's face. "Did I hurt you?"

"No." Emily knew she was lying, looking guiltily at Paige's side, which was thankfully covered by her shirt, and that back at her face. Paige had to do something to get that look off of Emily's face. "Are you going to come in?"

The answer was yes. The door swung shut behind them and there was another awkward beat of silence. "Did you want anything? A drink or something to eat?" Before Paige had even finished her question, Emily was shaking her head.

"I'm okay." There was a noticeable distance between the two of them now, and it hurt Paige's heart to see that Emily was wary of coming near her again. How long would she treat her like she was breakable just because of the way Paige had reacted?

"Did you want to go up to my room?" The question was loaded. Emily had never been beyond the first floor of Paige's house, and even then it was just to use the bathroom and get changed after their impromptu swim. When Emily didn't answer right away, Paige began to panic. Had she scared Emily into rejecting her offer?

"Okay," she finally murmured. Thank god. Paige tried to slow her heart rate as she led Emily up the stairs. On the way, Emily's fingers trapped Paige's and then they were interwoven. At least Emily was touching her. As they neared her room, Paige's mind turned to the state she had left it.

Would Emily find it childish? It really hadn't changed since her parents had let her redo it in fifth grade. The walls were pale pink and the curtains were frilly and it pretty much encompassed everything that she wasn't and had never been. Her mother had been the one to pick everything out. There were pictures scattered around, in tacky frames, and books piled up on top on one another. How had she not noticed what a wreck her room had turned into? The bed wasn't even made, with her sheets and half of her comforter hanging on the floor.

But Emily didn't even spare her surroundings a glance. She was much to intent on looking at Paige. Again. And it was beginning to unnerve her. Again.

"Why are you staring at me?" That made Emily blink, her gaze sliding away from Paige and falling onto her desk.

"I wasn't." Paige's eyebrows shot up, making Emily's cheeks redden. "Sorry. I didn't mean to."

"Em." The other girl didn't acknowledge her. "Emily. Look at me."

When Emily did look at her, Paige was surprised to see the look on her face. She had been expecting Emily to cry, to be relieved, to be scared. But not angry. "I'm sorry."

Paige was bewildered. What did she have to be sorry for? "If it wasn't for me, you would never have…" She shook her head. "Everyone I care about gets hurt."

"Em, that's not true."

Emily shrugged. "It is. Alison. Maya. You. What if next time you aren't so lucky?"

"Next time?"

If Paige had been taken aback by Emily's expression before, there were no words to describe the new look on her face. It was a mix anger and fear and helplessness. A hardness that shouldn't be found on a seventeen year old girl's face. "There will always be a next time." Her tone had lowered, her voice serious.

"We'll figure something out, Emily. I promise you. I won't let anything happen to you." The words sounded false, even to her own ears. There was nothing she could do to protect Emily and they both knew it. Even since she had found out about A, she had been connecting the dots in her head. Hanna Marin getting hit by a car. Spencer Hastings almost being pushed off the bell tower. Emily's hospital visit halfway through junior year. Whoever A was, they weren't messing around. And Paige was just as helpless as the four of them were.

"You shouldn't be with me."

The world stopped. Paige swallowed and wondered if she had heard her wrong. "Are you trying to break up with me?"

Emily's eyes were avoiding her again, looking at anything and everything littering the room. Not that Paige cared about the mess anymore. "I don't think you understand how much danger you're in because of me. Whoever's helping Mona, they're different than she was. More serious. It's too dangerous."

Of all the things she had thought Emily would try to break up with her over, her safety was not one of them. "I'm not going to let you break up with me."

Again, Emily looked irritated. "You know, I do have a say in the matter."

Paige shook her head. "You're crazy if you think I'm going to let you give up just like that. We're not breaking up today."

"Yes, we are."

"No, we're not."

"We are."

"We're not."

"We're breaking up." Paige bit her tongue, forcing herself to stop her reutilization before it left her mouth. It obviously wasn't going to get her anywhere.

"I don't care if you have a hundred stalkers trying to kill you every other day, I'm staying with you and I'm going to help you figure this out. I'm going to protect you."

Emily's face had gotten blank, no real emotion apparent. "That's what Caleb said. Look where he's at now. And remember when Toby fell of the scaffolding at the Hastings and broke his arm? Whose fault do you think that was? How can you be so sure you're going to be any different?"

She wasn't. In all likelihood, she would end up just as hurt as they had been. Not that she cared. "I'm willing to take that risk. I'm not going to leave you alone. You're not allowed to decide that we should break up." For the reason she had just given her anyway. "Unless you, you know, actually stop liking me. Do you still feel the same way about me?"

Emily rolled her eyes. "Of course I do," she said begrudgingly.

"Then we're staying together. And I refuse to talk about this anymore today. I need to take my medicine and my ankle is killing me from standing for so long. So either you can lay down with me and talk about something else or I'm going to sleep."

At least Emily looked guilty about the fact that Paige was hurting. She hobbled over to her bedside table, cursing the fact that she hadn't wrapped her ankle that morning. After taking her pill, she plopped down on the bed and lifted leg up gingerly. It was still slightly swollen near her foot, although that was probably because she'd had all of her weight on it for so long.

Sighing, she rested her head on her pillow and closed her eyes. Her side really was bothering her. She felt the bed dip next to her and then Emily was right there, molding herself into the curves of Paige's body. "I'm sorry," she whispered into the red head's ear. "I didn't mean to upset you."

Paige shook her head, turning on her side a little bit so that their faces were towards one another. "You didn't." The only thing that would have upset her was if Emily had actually wanted to stop seeing her. "If our positions were reversed, I would do the same thing. Or try." Emily nodded, finding Paige's hand and twisting their fingers together.

"When will your parents be home?"

Paige blew out a breath. "Too soon." It was liberating to know that they weren't somewhere in the house with her but at the same time frustrating to know it wouldn't last. "But actually around 5. Maybe closer to 4:30 since they'll both probably speed here to make sure I haven't killed myself or something."

Emily's grip tightened. "Don't say that." For a second, Paige didn't know what to say. "I don't like hearing you talk like that." It could only be a consequence of their discussion on the porch. That night felt like forever ago to Paige, and she realized that the implications she had given Emily, however vague they were, had been imprinted into the other girl's mind, probably in her subconscious just enough to make her worry when Paige made those kinds of allusions.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, knowing that Emily would accept the apology with no question.

"You don't have to apologize." Emily's nose brushed against her jaw, close enough to Paige's mouth to make her lips part in anticipation. But instead of doing what Paige hoped she would, Emily ducked her head, resting it against Paige's chest. Why hadn't she kissed her yet?

Turning more so that she was completely on her side, Paige looked at what Emily was wearing for the first time. Cargo capris and a white tank top. Classic Em outfit. "Isn't it a little too chilly out to not be wearing a sweatshirt or something?"

Emily shrugged. "I forgot. When you texted me saying you were finally alone, I left before I could grab anything."

Of course she had. Every time Emily said something like that, something that subtly let Paige know how much she cared, Paige was dumbfounded. She didn't deserve someone like Emily.

Her eyes fell on the thick strap of Emily's shirt, taking in the newly noticed discolored skin underneath. "Is that from…?"

Self-consciously, Emily's hand flew up to her collarbone, touching the bruise lightly. "Yeah."

Paige's hand reached out, her fingers almost ghosting over the affected area. "When?"

"I'm not sure. The lighthouse probably? I don't remember it happening."

"Does it hurt?"

Shaking her head, Emily said, "No. It's going away now."

Paige's hand finally make contact with Emily, slowing pushing aside the material of her shirt to see what was beneath it. The bruise really wasn't too bad. It was about the size of apple and already starting to fade around the edge, turning light green and yellow instead of black and blue. Even the center wasn't dark anymore, Emily's natural skin tone starting to appear again.

Still, it infuriated Paige to know that someone had done this to Emily. Her Emily. She really didn't care what had been done to her, but when it came to seeing the injuries on the other girl, she felt herself getting worked up.

"Is this the only one?"

Again, Emily nodded. "I would have thought there would be more but…" They fell into a moment of silence, Paige's fingers tracing circles around the bruise. "Can I see yours?"

Paige's hand stilled. For a second she wanted to smile at the way Emily had worded her request like a child. I'll show you mine if you show me yours. And then the reluctance to follow through with it began to set in. When Emily saw her side, she would definitely be plagued with guilt, even though it wasn't her fault.


There was no use in her stalling; they both knew full well that she would do whatever Emily asked of her. Slowly, she struggled to sit up, playing with the hem of her shirt before just pulling it over her head. She was left in just her sports bra as she laid back down. For some reason, she felt her cheeks beginning to get pink, even though they had seen each other in much less countless times while in the locker room.

In the end, her slight chagrin was pointless; Emily eyes fixated on Paige's rib cage and never left. "Paige…" Emily breathed out. Her hand reached out, seemingly to touch the bruise just like Paige had touched her, but stopped short when Paige flinched instinctively.

"Sorry," Paige muttered.

"No. Paige…" Emily's head shook back and forth as she took in the injury. The bruise itself was pretty large, wrapping from the front of her ribcage around her side. It was also a deep purple, bordering on black, and wasn't showing any signs of lightening anytime soon. At least the swelling had gone down though. "Did he kick you?" Emily's tone was full of disbelief.

The only response Paige gave was a short nod. It had actually been twice. Apparently, she'd been making too much noise. Nate had kicked her in the side right before telling her if she even thought about making another sound he would kill Emily on the spot.

"Does it hurt?"

Paige laughed shortly. "Only when I breathe." It was meant to come out as a joke but only ended up sounding bitter.

"I'm so sorry."

"Don't be. It's not your fault." Emily's eyes met hers for a second and Paige could see that there wasn't one part of Emily that actually believed that. "Really. It's not your fault some crazy guy kidnapped me."

Emily's hand reached out again and this time when she looked up at Paige, there was a question in her eyes. Another short nod on Paige's behalf and then Emily's fingertips were ghosting over her ribcage. Her touch was extremely light, even to the point that it almost tickled Paige. Almost.

"And how long did the doctor say you weren't allowed to swim for?"

"Well none of my ribs are broken, which is good. But he said they are sprained which mean it's going to be at least three weeks. Most likely more to make sure they're completely healed."

Out of the entire situation, that was what probably bothered Paige the most, besides the fact that Emily had gotten hurt too. The fact that she wasn't allowed to practice was killing her, even though she would never let Emily know that. Emily's fingers had still on her skin, and Paige looked over to see that the other girl was fighting back tears.

"No, Em. Please don't cry. If you cry, I'll cry and then we'll both be blubbering messes. It's really not as bad as it looks. I promise. Please don't cry."

To give her some credit, Emily did look like she was fighting back her tears. Unsuccessfully, but at least she was trying. As a few spilled down her cheeks, Paige reached over and brushed them away. "Stop," she whispered. Emily nodded, breathing deeply and squeezing her eyes shut.

"Instead of crying, why don't you ask me if I need anything."

At her suggestion, Emily's eyes popped open, still a little watery but less then they had been a minute ago. "Do you need something?"

Paige nodded, chewing on the inside of her lip to prevent herself from smiling too broadly. "I do."

"What is it? Anything."

Placing her hand under Emily's chin, she lifted her head up and made sure the other girl was looking her straight in the eye. "Kiss me?"


Paige repeated herself, making it more of a demand than a question. "Kiss me."

There was hesitation written across Emily's face, although Paige didn't see any reason for there to be. Unless she just didn't want to kiss her. Was that even an option? The smile began to fade from her mouth as she mulled that over. Could it be possible that Emily didn't want to kiss her anymore?

"Are you sure?"

Was she sure? Paige was amazed that Emily could even ask her something like that. "Of course I'm sure. How could I not be?"

Emily looked away. "I wasn't sure if you would want to kiss me after…" How many times would they go around this loop? Paige was quickly getting impatient with Emily's insistence on blaming herself.



"Just kiss me."

When Emily still hesitated, Paige scooted closer, rolling onto her side carefully and making sure her face was in front of Emily. "Kiss me."

Finally, Emily's eyes drifted down to Paige's lips and then she was closing the distance between them, keeping her mouth closed as she brushed her lips against Paige's. Almost immediately, she pulled back, her face still serious. Paige wanted to yell in frustration.

Instead, she came up with another plan. "Lay back." She pushed on Emily's shoulder gently, forcing her to be flat on the bed. Starting at her shoulder, Paige drew her fingers down Emily's arm, tracing patterns until she reached Emily's hand. Flipping it over so that her palm was facing the ceiling, she leaned closer and pressed her lips against the skin there. She repeated her action on the inside of Emily's wrist and then her elbow and finally her shoulder.

Paige held her breath so she wouldn't make a noise and pushed herself up so that she was sitting over Emily, her legs on either side of the girl's hips. It was a position that was hard for her to be in, the angle of her body constricting her ribs. It was also a position the two of them had never found themselves in before. Any make out session that had gone on between them, they had either been standing next to each other or sitting besides one another, never laying down. Not that they were making out. Yet.

Paige pressed her mouth against Emily's shoulder, exhilarated by the fact that her new posture gave her the ability to feel every time Emily's breathing hitched from something she did. Her plan was working; she could practically feel Emily relaxing underneath of her as she worked her way across the darker girl's collarbone and than mirrored her actions down her other arm. Upon reaching her hand, Paige scooted further down on the bed, making sure not to make any noise that would inform Emily of how strained she felt sitting in that position. She placed one last lingering kiss on Emily's palm.

Emily's eyes were only half open, looking up at her and waiting to see what Paige's next move would be. In a leap of faith, Paige slid her hands under Emily's shirt and pushed it up until her stomach was bare. Another first. The only time there had ever been any under the shirt action before had been when Emily had slipped her hands onto the small of Paige's back.

Bending over, Paige pressed an open mouth kiss right near Emily's ribs, quickly doing the same on the opposite side. Over the course of the next couple of minutes, she continued the same way, gradually working her way further down until she met the top of Emily's pants. Pushing them down slightly, she kissed her two final times, once on each hip bone and sat back up.

"Now will you kiss me like you mean it?"

This time, Emily didn't even stop to think about it before she was sitting up and pushing Paige onto her back again. Sighing in relief, Paige settled back and opened her mouth to Emily. Finally. This was what she had been craving for days, the taste of Emily, the way she knew just when to slip her tongue inside of Paige's mouth, her hands on Paige's waist.

Paige shifted underneath of Emily, trying to find a position that didn't hurt. The initial alleviation of pain had quickly been replaced by a new throbbing. After being bent over, her ribs were practically screaming at her to lay on her other side. But there was no way she was going to tell Emily to stop when it had taken so long to get her started.

Somehow, Emily's hands had found their way to Paige's sports bra, sliding just under the elastic and teasing the sensitive skin there until Paige found herself having even more trouble breathing then she had before.

It was new. It was new and exciting and would have been that much better is Paige wasn't so damn uncomfortable. Still, she couldn't bring herself to say anything, instead trying to breathe in deeply and tilting her head back as Emily sucked on her neck. A day of firsts. Except for Paige's recent exploration of Emily's body, they had never kissed one another anywhere besides the mouth.

Still, as much as Paige wanted it to be, the kissing finally wasn't enough to distract her from the rest of her body. Emily moved just a bit too much and Paige couldn't hold back the grunt of pain. Just like that, the moment was ruined. All too soon, she was laying by herself on the bed, Emily hovering anxiously over her.

"Did I hurt you?"

She didn't want to tell the truth. She didn't want to but she knew that Emily would see right through her lies. So she shrugged noncommittally and tried to laugh it off. "It's not your fault." Emily's eyes zeroed back in on the mark on Paige's ribs, obviously believing quite the opposite.

"I'm sorry," came the whispered apology that Paige didn't want. "How badly does it hurt now?"

Again, Paige shrugged. "Not too bad. The medicine helps. It's just the bending and the having weight on it that really bothers me." That basically ruled out any sort of activity Paige was interested in at the moment.

"Does it feel better?" Drawing in a deep breath, Paige nodded. "I guess this will just have to be continued later then." At least Emily had the decency to look as disappointed as Paige felt.

This time, it was the red head's turn to apologize. "I'm sorry," she whispered, turning onto her good side and tucking a piece of hair behind Emily's ear. "I really wanted to…" Wanted to what? Keep making out? Go further? Have sex? Paige had no idea what she wanted to do. But that was something Emily seemed to understand.

"I know," she said in a hushed tone. "And we will. When you're feeling better and all of this is behind us." Her hand reached out, knuckled brushing lightly over Paige's cheek, causing her eyes to drift shut.

"You're such a strong person. So much stronger than me. I knew you were going to be okay."

Paige wanted to scoff at Emily's declaration. It was actually the other way around. In reality, Paige recognized a weakness in herself that the other girl seemed oblivious too. "I know you don't want to believe me, but I promise you it's true." There she went again, always reading Paige's mind. With her last statement, she slid closer into Paige's body, once again kissing her softly.

"What are you doing?"

Emily's eyes fluttered open, meeting Paige's with a slight smile. "Just because we can't do anything else doesn't mean we can't do this."

Paige grinned, even as Emily's mouth met hers again. For the first time in days, she felt safe.