Title: Cold Front
Summary: Things start to thaw out between the girls when Paige comes to Emily's rescue during a heavy snow storm.
Disclaimer: Don't own the show or anything related to it.
Rating: M (Mostly just to be on the safe side)
A/N: First PLL fic. I only started watching the show last week, but hopefully everyone's in character. This is set in early season 2 so possible spoilers. I intended for it to be a one-shot, but I might extend it if anyone's interested in a longer fic.
"No, no, no! Don't do this to me! Please!" Emily groaned as she turned the key in the ignition of her car for the umpteenth time and listened to the engine groan and rattle in response before it cut out completely. "Damn it!" Emily slammed her hands against the wheel in frustration. Her breath came out like a cloud of smoke in front of her as the frosty night air bit at her cheeks. She had been driving home from a swim meet when the car had cut out, killing the radio and the heat along with the engine. The steady stream of snow that had been blanketing the town had turned in to a full on blizzard and the cold was really starting to get to the teen as she sat in the dead car.
Her fingers were stiff as she fished her phone out of her pocket and tried to call Hannah. The signal was flickering between one bar and no service. The phone was about as much use as the car. It was late and few other cars had passed her on her way home, without a signal she was on her own. She tried to think about what people were supposed to do when they were trapped in cars in the middle of a snow storm. Should she stay in the car, and possibly freeze if no one found her in time? Or start walking along the road back towards the school? And freeze if she couldn't make it back? Neither option seemed very appealing.
As cold as it was outside in the snow the temperature in the car would quickly plummet and, without any lights, any passing cars could easily drive straight past her, or worse, in to her. Zipping up her coat and pulling on her mittens she decided to brave the weather outside. The school was only a mile or so away and there were houses close by. If she could just make it to one of them then maybe she could phone Hannah or her mum and ask for a ride home.
She pulled her backpack up on to her shoulder and set off along the side of the road. The snow was falling thick and fast and she could barely see her own legs moving out in front of her. Her sneakers were not made to face the snow and she found her feet slipping out from under her with practically every other step she took. The muscles in her legs ached in protest as she ploughed on through the snow. She'd given it her all at the meet and had been training pretty hard all week. Her body was running on empty and her stomach was growling with hunger.
She tried to take her mind off the cold by focusing on what she would have for dinner when she eventually made it home. She was still fantasizing about pizza and hot apple pie ten minutes later. She'd barely made it to the end of the road and her mind was beginning to grow as numb as her face and fingers. She slipped on a patch of ice hidden just below the snow and let out a strangled cry as she went crashing down to the ground. The snow broke her fall, but it soaked through her jeans and the cold bit in to her skin like a rabid dog. As her body started shaking she couldn't summon the energy to get back on to her feet. She sat there kneeling in the snow and struggling to keep her eyes open. She was exhausted, both physically and mentally and she just couldn't find the energy to carry on.
When her heavy lids finally fell she was met with a blinding light and she muttered a prayer under her breath as she felt her body slumping forwards, the last of her strength finally leaving her as she gave in to the light. "Emily?" Her tranquillity was broken as she heard someone screeching her name. She tried to open her eyes, but it felt like her eyelids had frozen together.
"Emily? What are you doing out here?" Another voice was calling her name and she felt a pair of arms hook under her armpits as she was pulled up to her feet. Another pair of hands were on her face, cupping her ice cold cheeks. She felt a spark of hope as she realised the lights had been headlamps from a car. Someone had found her.
"Emily? It's Paige." The spark erupted in to a fire and Emily found the strength to open her eyes. She was met with the sight of Paige's fiery red hair poking out from under her hat and her big brown eyes full of worry.
"Paige?" Her throat was raw as she choked out the other girl's name. "My car…it…it stopped…I-"
"Let's get back in the car." Mr McCullers grunted as he took on most of Emily's weight and led the teen through the snow over to the waiting SUV. Paige opened the back door for them and climbed in after Emily while her father got in the front and pulled his door shut. He rubbed his hands together as he stamped his feet to loosen the snow from his expensive leather shoes. The snow had taken most of the town by surprise. He cranked up the heat and Emily was instantly grateful as a wave of hot air hit her in the face.
Paige helped her out of her soaking jacket and mittens and pulled a thick blanket out of the trunk to drape over her. Emily's teeth were chattering as she thanked her and clung to the blanket. The thick itchy wool irritated her soft skin, but it was warm and that was all that mattered. Paige's hand rubbing circles on the small of her back did a pretty good job of warming her up too. "What in God's name were you doing out there Emily?" Nick McCullers finally asked after he'd given the teenager a minute to compose herself.
"My car, it just died. I couldn't get a signal on my phone so I thought I could walk it back to the school…but then I fell and…"Emily's lips were dry and chapped from the cold as she ran her tongue over them. From the corner of her eye she caught Paige watching her lips and she felt the familiar fluttering in her stomach that came from being around the other girl. She and Paige hadn't seen each other much since Emily had insisted they could only be friends, and of course Samara coming along had made things all the more awkward between them, so outside of the pool they'd hardly said a word to each other in weeks. "Thank you so much for stopping."
"No problem." Nick was still nursing his wounds from Emily's mother giving him a very public dressing down, but even he wouldn't have just driven past the teen. "Thank Paige; she spotted your Sharks jacket."
"Thank you." Emily repeated as she huddled under the blanket, aware that Paige's small hand was still resting on her back.
"I'll drive you home before the roads get too bad; a few of them are already closed off." Nick put the SUV in to gear and the snow crunched under the tyres.
"I'm not staying at home. Mom went to Texas with Dad; I'm staying with Hanna and her mom to finish the school year here."
"Hanna Marin? Half the roads on that side of town have already been closed because of the snow." Nick frowned at the heavy falling snow that his wipers were having trouble clearing from the windscreen. "I suppose you can stay with us until the snow eases off. I'll call Ms Marin when we get back."
"Uh…thanks." Emily wasn't sure how to feel about the prospect of staying over at the McCullers' house; given her past with Paige. Beside her, the other girl seemed just as apprehensive as Emily as she drew her hand back.
They rode in silence the rest of the way back to the McCullers' and Emily was grateful to be able to feel her toes again as she climbed out of the back of the car and followed Paige and her father inside. The house was similar in size and appearance to the one Emily had grown up in a few blocks over. "Emily, why don't you go on and have a nice hot shower and Paige here will find you some dry clothes to change in to." Nick pulled off his coat and gave his daughter's shoulder a gentle squeeze, as though reminding her to be on her best behaviour around their guest. He'd known Emily's parents a long time and held a huge amount of respect for her father. When he had gone on his rant at the school it hadn't been personal. He had simply been trying to help his daughter
Emily thanked him again for his hospitality before following Paige upstairs. She felt like she was walking to her own execution as she dragged her feet, dreading being alone with the smaller girl. "Paige, I-"
"Bathroom's through there." The redhead cut her off as she pointed towards a door on the left. "Toss your clothes outside and I'll put them through the wash." She couldn't look her in the eye and Emily ducked her own head as she tucked her wet hair behind her ear. She mumbled another 'thanks' before scurrying in to the bathroom and closing the door behind her.
She turned on the shower and peeled off her damp clothes as she waited for the water to warm up. She left her clothes in a heap by the door and stepped under the searing hot spray. The water felt like heaven pouring down on her skin and she just stood there, letting the stream kneed her aching muscles. "Emily?" She heard a knock on the door and almost jumped.
"Yeah?" She pushed her hair back from her face and turned away from the spray to avoid getting water in her mouth.
"You didn't leave your clothes outside." Paige sounded irritated, putting on her usual angry-at-the-whole-world-front.
"Oh. Sorry. They're by the door." The other girl was momentarily silent before Emily heard the bathroom door click open. The girls had changed in front of each other a million times before, though Emily was thankful she was hidden behind the shower curtain. She waited until she heard the door close again before picking up a bottle of honey and almond shower gel and rubbing it in to her skin. The scent of the gel quickly filled the small room and after another ten minutes of soaking Emily felt relaxed enough to face her unexpected hosts. Shutting off the water and stepping out of the shower she grabbed a fluffy pink towel that was hanging on a rail and wrapped it around her. She stepped out of the safety of the bathroom, dressed in her borrowed towel, and went in search of Paige and some clothes.
"Nice room." She stood at the door to Paige's room and offered the other girl a hesitant smile. Paige looked up from her dresser and caught sight of the other girl in the towel. Her eyes raked over Emily's form, from her long dark hair hanging down at her shoulders, to her long lean legs poking out from underneath the towel. She met Emily's eyes and cleared her throat as she turned her attention back to the dresser. "These should fit." She handed her a pair of sweatpants and a baggy T-shirt. "You're little more…um…well-endowed than me… I'll let you get changed." Paige blushed before making a hasty retreat out of her own room.
"You ok, Kiddo?" Nick quizzed as he noticed his daughter's red cheeks as she entered the kitchen.
"Fine." She grumbled, heading straight to the fridge for a can of coke. She changed her mind at the last minute and went in to one of the cupboards for to retrieve a jar of cocoa. A warm drink would be better for her near frozen teammate.
"You sure? If you don't want Emily sleeping in your room I can-"
"Jeez, dad! Just because she's gay it doesn't mean she's going to try and jump me in the middle of the night!" She snapped as she banged about getting mugs for the hot cocoa and putting a pan of milk on the stove to boil.
"Actually, I just meant 'cause you girls don't really get on." Nick tried to defend himself from the little ball of hellfire that was storming around the kitchen.
"We get on just fine!"
"Ok then. You girls enjoy your cocoa, I'm going to call Ms Marin and let her know Emily's staying with us tonight. Here, give this to Emily." He handed her a bowl of steaming hot soup that he'd had in the microwave and Paige put it on a tray along with the two mugs.
She made her way back upstairs and took a deep breath before juggling the tray in one hand to knock on the door. "I'm ready." Emily called out to her, her voice huskier than usual due to her earlier exposure to the snow. Paige closed her eyes, trying not to think about how many times she'd fantasised about having Emily in her room, saying just those words to her. When Paige finally walked in to the room Emily was sitting crossed legged on her bed, but she was a little more dressed than she usually was in the other girl's fantasies. She waswearing Paige's clothes though and as the redhead placed the tray down on her bedside table she caught the scent of her almond body-wash and the butterflies in her stomach started fluttering again.
"Wow, this is amazing." Emily beamed at her as she sipped the cocoa, the hot sugary drink warming her through and pepping her up. "Sugar feels so great right now." Paige knew exactly what the other girl meant. In the days leading up to a meet their diets could be pretty restrictive, especially when it came to sugar. Paige took a seat on the edge of her bed and opened the drawer of her bedside cabinet to reveal a large bar of chocolate. She handed it over to her fellow swimmer. Ignoring the other girl's protests, Emily snapped the bar in to two halves and handed one back to her. Their fingers grazed against each other and Paige almost jumped off the bed. She felt jumpy and nervous having Emily in her room; on her bed.
"I'm going to get changed." Paige sat the chocolate aside as she got to her feet and pulled out some pyjamas from her dresser. She headed out of the room and slunk in to the bathroom to change in to the pair of shorts and the t-shirt she'd picked out from her dresser. After splashing some water on her face she returned to her room and found Emily nibbling at the chocolate bar. Her soup bowl was empty, the same as her cocoa mug. She'd been near starving after the meet and had been more than grateful for the warm meal.
She frowned as she watched Paige take a few tentative steps in to the room. "Why did you leave the room? We've changed in front of each other like a million times."
"Not in my bedroom." Paige shrugged, not making a whole lot of sense to the other girl. She knew exactly why she had left the room for each of them to change; a half-naked Emily and a bed in the same room was just too much temptation. Emily seemed to follow her logic and blushed as she ducked her head and carried on eating her chocolate. Things had grown awkward pretty fast and Paige was at a loss for what to do with the gorgeous girl sitting on top of her bed; actually, she had a fair few ideas of just what to do with Emily Fields, but following through on any of them would probably make things even more awkward between them.
"Are you still swimming at nights?" Emily quizzed, trying to make conversation as Paige sat down on the end of her bed.
"Are you still dating Samara?" She shot back, instantly on the defensive; and instantly regretting it as she watched Emily's expression fall.
"We're not dating. She doesn't know whether she wants to be exclusive-"
"Really? Just how many gorgeous girls does she have drooling over her?" Paige scoffed. For a second she thought she'd put her foot in it again, but Emily's lips curled up in to a small smile as she rolled her eyes.
"I'll ignore the sarcasm and take that as a compliment."
"You should." Paige tried a smile of her own and was rewarded with a crimson blush that made its way across Emily's cheeks.
Paige had never been very good at putting her feelings in to words and quite often she ended up saying the wrong thing; especially around Emily. She wanted to tell her that she was beautiful. She wanted to tell her that Samara was an idiot for not wanting to have Emily all to herself, and most of all she wanted to tell her that she, Paige McCullers,wanted her all to herself; but they were stuck in a strange place and the last thing she wanted was to push Emily any further away from her. So she kept quiet as Emily suggested watching a movie and got up to browse Paige's well stocked DVD collection. She was impressed with her vast array of horror films. She had most of Emily's favourites.
"I like this one- ugh!" Emily winced as she reached for one of the DVDs that was higher up and she felt something tearing in her side. The usual aches and pains she associated with training were getting worse. Every meet seemed to be taking more and more out of her. She clutched at her side as she cursed under her breath and failed to notice Paige getting up off the bed and going over to her.
"What happened?" Emily jumped as Paige's small hand pressed against her side. Her reaction wasn't from the pain though, the touch had been unexpected and her mind was already racing with inappropriate thoughts of the other girl without her actually touching her. It didn't go unnoticed by the redhead. "Jeez Ems, I was checking your side, not going for your pants!" Paige grumbled, pulling her hand back like the soft flesh of Emily's hip side had burnt it.
"I know that. I'm sorry." Emily mumbled, unable to look her in the eye. She used her other arm to reach for the DVD she'd been going for and presented it to Paige with a forced smile. "Let's just watch this one." She shuffled over to the other girl's bed as Paige put the movie on and then knocked off the lights. She paused with her hand on the switch.
"Sorry, it's just habit. Do you want the lights on?"
"No, it's fine. Scary movies should be watched in the dark." Emily managed a more authentic smile as Paige shrugged and joined her on her bed.
"Like this is even scary." She scoffed as she picked up the cover of '28 Days Later'. "You want scary, watch Night of the Living Dead!"
Emily rolled her eyes. It really was always all or nothing with the other girl. "I have, like a thousand times. We can watch that one next." She made herself comfortable as she lay on her side and pulled one of the cushions against her chest. She loved horror movies, and had seen nearly every zombie movie ever made, but that didn't mean she didn't still jump at the scary bits. Paige sat perched on the end of the bed, still unable to lie down and relax with the other girl lying beside her. It took her almost half of the movie to finally make herself comfortable, even then she was lying on her front with her arms tucked under her chin; to stop her hands from wandering.
Emily jumped at some lame gory scene and the redhead couldn't help but chuckle. Horror movies had never really bothered her. She'd never been scared of the bogeyman or imaginary monsters lurking in her closet. Paige McCullers was fearless; or almost fearless. The beautiful creature lying beside her could be pretty terrifying sometimes. "It's not funny!" Emily pouted, her full lips looking so damn kissable that Paige had to grip the bed covers to stop herself from sitting up and kissing them. "How do you not jump?"
"Because I'm not a baby?" She teased, her usual venom missing from her voice as she stuck her tongue out at the other girl. Emily retaliated by throwing the cushion she'd been hiding behind; though her aim was a little off and the cushion went sailing off the bed and landed harmlessly on the floor.
"That the way you want to play, Fields?" Paige smirked, her competitive streak waking with a vengeance as she picked up one of the other cushions and aimed it at Emily. The dark haired girl giggled as she grabbed at a pillow to defend herself and they ended up in an impromptu pillow fight. Paige had the advantage of being on her knees while Emily was defending herself on her back and had to stretch up to try and reach the other girl.
Her laughter abruptly stopped as pain shot through her side and she dropped the pillow in favour of clutching her side again. She panted for breath as she tried to compose herself, but the pulled muscle refused to relent. Paige dropped her own cushion and moved to Emily's side. "Lie down on your stomach." She commanded, her voice taking on an assertive tone that Emily couldn't deny sent shivers racing up and down her spine.
"Just do it, Fields."
Despite her better judgement Emily did as she was told and lay down on her front with her head to the side. She went to take hold of her side again, but Paige's hands beat her there and she let out a little gasp as the other girl's warm hands pressed firmly against her skin. "Relax." Paige tried to sound casual herself, but her voice came out as a deep husk. She moved so that she was straddling the dark haired beauty's long legs and Emily's whole body tensed beneath her. Paige got to work in silence, her fingers needing in to the soft sensitive flesh of Emily's injured side.
"Better?" She asked after a few minutes and was met with frosty silence. "Emily?" She tried again, hoping she hadn't upset the other girl, but the best way to get rid of a pulled muscle was a good deep massage. She looked up and found Emily's eyes closed over, her lips parted just slightly. Smirking to herself she increased the pressure just a little and was rewarded with a low satisfied moan.
"Wow." Emily breathed out, her eyes still half closed as Paige began focusing on the rest of her back and shoulders. "You're…you're good at this."
"I'm good at a lot of things." Paige teased. She wasn't really known for her modesty. Emily's cheeks coloured as her mind obviously went somewhere dirty and the redhead's grin widened. Her nimble hand moved to Emily's ribs, pushing her t-shirt further up and brushing her fingertips against the underside of the other girl's breasts. Emily wasn't wearing a bra. Paige bit back a moan of her own as Emily tensed, her hips pressing up against the smaller girl's thighs and almost driving her crazy.
She stared down at the expanse of tanned flesh that made up Emily's back and had to fight the urge to press her lips against the soft blemish free skin. She wanted Emily; wanted her more than she wanted to make anchor or captain, more than she wanted to be made valedictorian or to be accepted in to an Ivy League school. Emily made her forget about wanting all the things she had worked so hard get over the years, and that terrified her. It would be so easy to lose her mind over the girl lying beneath her; to just throw everything away and tell the world that she was in love with a girl; with Emily Fields. Except she couldn't, because the fearless Paige McCullers was a coward. She couldn't be the person Emily needed her to be. She couldn't tell her dad that she was in love with a girl. She couldn't admit to anyone else that she was…that she was gay.
"Paige?" Emily pulled her out of her thoughts and it sounded like it wasn't the first time she'd said her name. Paige's fingertips were still lingering by Emily's breasts and she moved them to a safer place atop her shoulders.
"Uh, yeah?" She kicked herself at how husky and shaken her voice came out, but there was nothing she could do to stop it.
"This is why you've been avoiding me isn't it?" Emily sighed, her own voice tinged with sadness. For a moment the redhead was confused, but then she understood what Emily was talking about. "We can't just be friends."
"No… We can't." She admitted as the other girl voiced what they'd both known all along. Emily's plan to 'just be friends' had been doomed from the start. There was simply too much between the two of them to pretend otherwise. It had to be all or nothing. Either Paige had allof Emily, or she couldn't have her in her life at all.
"I'll put the next movie on." Paige climbed off the other girl and busied herself swapping the DVDs over. Emily sat up and pulled her t-shirt back down. Without Paige lying over her she was starting to feel cold again. She slipped under the covers just as Mr McCullers knocked on the door. He walked in carrying a sleeping bag and a folding camp bed.
"Hey, Emily. Feeling better?"
"Much, thank you."
"Great. I called Ashley and told her you were staying over. She's arranged to have your car recovered so you don't need to worry about that. I'm going to call it a night, don't you girls be staying up too late…goodnight Princess."
"'Night Dad." Paige's cheeks were burning as her dad used his pet name for her in front of Emily.
"Princess Paige?" Emily smirked, earning a scowl from the smaller girl.
"Shut it Fields."
Some of the tension from earlier seemed to have disappeared and Paige climbed under the covers beside her. "I'll sleep on the camp bed... After the movie."
"No, I'll sleep on it. It's your room-"
"Exactly, you're the guest. You get the bed."
"I'm not kicking you out of your bed-"
"Emily, it's fine-"
"We can share." Emily suggested, cutting the other girl off. "I mean…it is a double and it's freezing outside..." She rolled on to her side to carry on watching the film. Paige didn't argue with her logic. She lay on her side, her eyes glued to Emily's back.
"It is pretty cold outside. Maybe we should…you know…huddle?" She inched forward and cautiously put an arm around her waist. Emily shuffled back so so she was lying flush against her.
"Like penguins." Emily smiled absently, content with having the little redhead wrapped around her. She knew they were playing a dangerous game. Nothing had changed. Paige wasn't ready to come out and Emily wasn't willing to hide who she was; but lying cuddled up in the dark, Emily couldn't stop herself from wishing that something could just give between them.
"Thought I was a princess?" Paige chuckled, her lips so close that they tickled Emily's ear.
"You are." The dark haired beauty let out a husky sigh as she turned over, her lips catching the other girl's; and for a second Paige forgot how to breathe.
Just as her own lips started to respond, Emily pulled away. She bit at her lip as she dropped her gaze and rolled back over to face the window instead of the redhead staring incredulously at her. "I'm pretty tired." She mumbled, fighting back tears as she felt Paige pull her arm away and roll on to her back with a heavy sigh.
"Yeah. Me too."