Disclaimer: Criminal Minds belongs to CBS and I am only playing in their universe. This story has a femslash theme. If this is not your thing please find another story to read.
Nature of the Beast
"What the hell had Reid said in that last phone call?" Emily mumbled to herself as she madly searched for anything to fortify her scanty shelter. Pulling the last of the broken branches to within a few yards of the little hollow in the rocks she felt the wind pick up. Her heartbeat and mind sped up in unison; she was going to have to make every moment count if they were going to make it through the night.
"JJ, talk to me." Emily called as she worked at weaving the cover materials to as natural a look as possible. The reply was slow in coming. The cautious, "Hey, I'm here," which sounded from the back of the enclosure, was music to her ears. JJ's uttered words allowed Emily to continue her work and not entirely freak out. God, she was barely holding it together. How could she have allowed this to happen? She blamed the dog. This is why she liked cats. Cats did not cause this type of trouble. Her mind then flashed on all the cases she been on where some poor cat had been sacrificed by a budding serial killer, and then there was the association of cats and the occult. A splinter embedded itself under her nail and the here and now came back into focus. Cursing her lack of concentration she recognized that the cold was getting to her too. These last few tasks needed to get finished fast or she was going to be in the same boat as her best friend.
"Hey JJ, sing it again." Emily requested as she surveyed her work and mentally checking the supplies. The small pile of wood was far enough in the enclosure it would not interfere with the door. Their pack was stowed in the back. "JJ, come on now." she said this time listening with more attention. There was still no reply. "JJ!" Emily half shouted and was quickly rewarded with a weak yet firm "No." The touch of humor almost brought Emily to tears she was so tense with worry. "Well okay but I think that all this work I'm doing while you defrost is definitely song worthy." she called back trying to keep her voice lighthearted. Continuing to herself, "Baby, you're going to be okay. I'm the one in your debt."
Quickly Emily gathered snow in a plastic bag. The snow was pretty wet, not dry and Styrofoam-like, so the water content would be fairly high. She figured three or four glasses at the most. Emily did not want to open the shelter up once she sealed it from the inside, so whatever she gathered now would have to last them through the night. Looking around she had done the best she could on the outside, the camouflage was good. To the human eye they were protected, too bad humans were not the only problem.
"Keep covered up I'm moving the door," called Emily as she pressed through the branches making every attempt to limit heat loss and damage to the cover. The hollow went back about five yards but was very narrow. The entrance was partially blocked by an old tree, and it had just been by luck that Emily had noticed it as they had stopped to catch their breath. It wasn't a cave as such, but more of an intersection of rock. A small section opened to the sky but it was mostly a protected space. Both women knew that they could not have gone much farther anyway with JJ being soaked and starting to show the early signs of hypothermia. Both ladies had agreed that it would have to be good enough.
Emily pulled to adjust the door cover and then moved to the side and began to disrobe, carefully placing her damp clothing on the back of the branch covering. "Water and wind are a lethal combination," Reid's words again haunting Emily's memory, "When that wind moves across the moisture on the skin it creates this affect much like refrigeration." Emily agreed wholeheartedly with the voice in her head as the cold air struck her skin and the perspiration that had come with the work she had been doing. Her foot came in contact with JJ's wet clothes and she gasp out loud. They were as cold as ice and Emily struggled with the thought of what JJ had been feeling as they had made their run for it. Redoubling her efforts to hang up the clothes quickly, Emily added JJ's to the mix. Making a silent prayer that the garments would dry soon, she tucked the last of the material into the door covering. A shiver ran down her body and she knew she would have to heat up soon or it was going to be bad.
"Em, you okay?" called a voice from the back, "as slow as your moving you need to sing to me?" JJ said trying to sound strong as she bounced the joke back to Emily. Even in as poor a shape as she was Emily's mood did not escape her notice. Emily was at her breaking point. Their escape had been less than perfect. Both women had known that JJ was going to be in trouble fast as they moved through the freezing terrain but what choice did they have. All of Emily's energy and focus had been on JJ from the beginning of their run. JJ smiled to herself thinking that Emily's focus was never far from her at any time. She would have to do something about that when this was all over with, but right now her friend was crazed with worry and there was little she could do to help.
"Oh, I don't think so Missy." answered Emily. She could have kissed JJ for again bringing humor to this bleak situation. "Instead I'm going to do my best to start the fire and then I am going to join you so that blanket better be all toasty." Emily was going to have to do this fast. The last thing she wanted was to have the temperature of her body drop enough to make the situation worse for JJ when she climbed in under the emergency blanket. Two things left to do before she joined her friend. First she placed the bag of snow away from the door so it would start to melt, then she turned to the place they had set up the fire pit.
It was the last thing JJ had helped her with before Emily forced her to get into the emergency blanket. The earliest the fire could be set was dusk. The last thing they needed was a smoke trail to show Rogers right where they were hidden. Issue two was the size of the flame, they wanted a larger blaze to last only last twenty to thirty minutes and then die down. The light would be too noticeable from the outside if the flames were too high for too long.
Holding her breath, Emily used an emergency match to light a small bundle of sticks, frayed bark and whatever else JJ had thrown in. Who knew that their summer camp attendance would every come in so handy? Holding the ignited bundle up, Emily watched the smoke trail as it gently moved through the channel in the rocks that opened to the sky. With a moan of relief she then placed the burning material into a slot under a loosely arranged tepee of larger sticks and watched as the flames spread. Emily allowed herself a brief moment to study the fire and when she had concluded that the smoke was still moving up and out of their shelter, the clothes and branches were blocking the light as much as possible and not in a position to catch on fire she moved to JJ and the blanket.
Emily made the short trip to the area they decided to bunk down. She willed herself not to react to how JJ looked. "Okay, schooch over I'm coming in." Emily said in hushed tones as she gently pulled the aluminum foil looking material back from JJ's form. As always Emily was struck by her friend's appearance but as attractive as JJ was with her blonde hair and fair complexion, the woman looked positivity blue with chill. Bruising from the couple of hits she had taken were starting to color her upper arms. "Sharing body heat by skin to skin contact is an excellent way to bring up internal body temperature quickly." Reid's voice once again echoed in Emily's mind. "Hurry up, will you" hissed JJ though chattering teeth. The voice jarring Emily into motion and entered the make-shift sleeping bag and pressed her body to JJ and then did her best to wrap the material back around the pair of them. Once fully covered Emily grabbed JJ and pulled her tight and began rubbing her arms and back.
JJ gasped loudly and quickly pulled away. Emily stopped moving, her mind a whirl assessing what she had done wrong. This was awkward at best. It is not often that you find yourself in a position to jump into bed with your best friend slash deepest crush and then forced to press them to your bare skin, moving your hands all over their body. Sexy as that sounds this was medicinal only and nothing more and if she had complaints then… JJ broke Emily's wild thoughts with her squeak of, "Geez, Emily your feet are freezing."
With a sigh of relief, Emily wiggled around to distance the offending appendages from her friend. JJ interrupted her motion, "Not what I meant," and reached around pulling Emily forcefully back to her but adjusting herself by sliding her legs down Emily's body so they interlaced with the taller brunette's and Emily's feet ended up covered with JJ's legs. Emily breath caught in her chest and she forced herself to remember this was medicinal and, oh no, not at all sexy. Slowly, she began to rub her hands along JJ's back again and caught her breath when JJ sighed and snuggled closer. Skeptical as she was at first, now there was no question in Emily's mind that skin to skin contact will make a body's temperature rise remarkably fast.
Flickering its last bright light the fire died down as planned but not before Emily noticed the alcove had warmed up considerably. It was a welcome relief that moved though her. The fear that JJ would succumb to the cold drifted away. The shelter had worked and Emily would allow herself to drift off for the next couple of hours knowing it was unlikely that Rogers would be following in the weather. Hell, why would he? He had them trapped. The whole team had just walked into this man's fantasy. Rogers could not have planned it better himself. No, he would be making repairs and then gathering his pack for a hunt tomorrow. There was nothing she could do about it so she pulled JJ closer and relaxed.
When she woke again, her watch showed that several hours had passed. JJ was sleeping nestled close against her. Gently running her hand across JJ's forehead she was relieved to feel warm skin under her touch. Emily sighed to herself, as much as she wanted to stay holding JJ close, the outside threats were starting to pull at her. Slowly and carefully she moved herself away from her friend's sleeping form and worked her way out of the bag. Tucking the blanket back in place she grabbed their pack and then worked her way to the makeshift door and recovered her clothes.
The combination of the heat from the fire and the air currents moving through the door had dried them nicely. They were cold but she managed to pull them on quickly. Opening the pack she removed Garcia's expandable purple plastic cup, smiled at it and filled it with the water from the melted snow. She took a good drink and then refilled for another. Gazing outside large snowflakes drifted down, Emily figured that this was a good thing, the more camouflage the better. Stoking the fire she added the last of the firewood and stood close to take full advantage of the heat.
"What's the weather report?" came a soft muffled voice. Emily looked over and smiled as JJ peeked out of the bag. JJ had almost not been able to get the words out. She knew immediately when Emily had started to stir and felt that caring touch as Emily had checked her temperature. JJ watched as Emily's form moved away and she missed more than the body heat they had shared. She had wanted to say something funny or witty but the sight of Emily standing by the fire had stopped her mid-thought. She stuck with a basic question when she spoke, it was safer.
"Well it is snowing now so it's warmer than it was when we ran for it but when the snow breaks the temperature will drop again." Emily reported as she filled the little plastic cup and walked it back to JJ. Draining the water, JJ held the cup up to her friend. When Emily took it back JJ made a move to get out of the bag. "Whoa there tiger," said Emily "just where do you think you're going?"
JJ raised an eyebrow, "Tiger, huh" then laughed "I'm going to get my clothes on and start helping you plan how to get out of this situation and help Hotch and Morgan."
"I know I'm worried about them too." said Emily moving to test the clothing on the door a second time. Turning to face JJ she continued, "We can't go anywhere now anyway so stay where you are, get some sleep, stay warm, and I'll keep watch. I know we will figure something out." JJ saw how her friend's eyes were still so full of concern. The image broke her heart she had to something. "I'm not the only one that should be resting still. Come here," JJ held her hand out towards Emily. Moving to grasp JJ's hand, Emily kneeled down next to the blanket. Looking at JJ's beautiful face Emily wanted so badly to crawl back under the blanket and share the touch of this woman again. Refocusing on the hand she held she twisted it and then gently began to rub a circle pattern in JJ's palm.
"Oh my," JJ grinned to herself and said, "You know you can hold much more than just my hand if you get under this blanket again." Emily's head shot up, and she quickly released JJ's hand. "Ahh….I was just," JJ could not help but laugh at her now incredibly red faced friend, "Oh Em, you so have to sing to me now." growled JJ. The running joke let Emily off the hook and stopped her from talking her way out of the situation. JJ didn't want Emily to say she was sorry or say that she didn't mean anything by it. JJ wanted Emily to own these actions because she was going use them to make some tall walls come tumbling down when they returned home.
Taking a deep breath Emily shook her head, "Oh yeah she should definitely be singing for this." she thought. "Well since you're on the verge of hypothermia and most likely will not live to report that I had to sing." She said aloud. JJ laughed out loud at this. Emily continued, "I will agree that you earned a song. Nothing is going to happen till sun up anyway so..." with the sound of the words still ringing in the air a mournful howl broke through the night. Emily broke for the door and scanned the area. "How had they repaired the locking mechanism so soon?" she wondered.