DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds and its characters are the property of CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a, hopefully, very short series. Special thanks to the amazing mrswoman for the beta and to the wonderful eclecticfan for listening while I whined and complained.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Drowning in Sensations
By Ann


The steam rose slowly from the bathwater as it wafted its way toward the oval-shaped mirror, the condensation clinging to the glass and causing a fog-like distortion. With each passing moment, the temperature in the closed-in room climbed steadily as the air became thick with moisture. Finally, the room's door opened slightly, allowing some of the steam to escape, and then closing quickly, it effectively trapped the remainder in the confines of the bathroom.

Emily Prentiss breathed in a lungful of the heavy air before making her way over to the marble vanity. Placing her hands down on its top, she flattened her palms against the smooth, slick surface and squinted at her distorted reflection, having as much difficulty making out her features as she was putting order into the chaos that was her normally perfect compartmentalization. Jennifer Jareau – her colleague, her teammate, her friend – had, with one fell swoop, scattered all her carefully constructed boxes across the vast recesses of her mind. With a single kiss, JJ had managed to do what no one else had been able to: completely shatter the protective barrier around Emily's heart.

Reaching up, Emily swiped her hand across the mirror's surface, and for just a second, she was able to see herself clearly before the surrounding condensation once again swallowed up the glass that had been wiped free of the fog. In that very brief moment, Emily spied the confusion and unrest that she already knew would be present on her features. From the moment JJ had touched their lips together, every fiber of her being screamed at her, tugging her in opposite directions. Emily raised her hand to her forehead and ran her fingers lightly across her skin in an attempt to ease the stress that had settled there. Her lips still tingled with the sensation of JJ's soft lips against her own, and Emily's hand moved down of its own accord to gently trace around her mouth, wondering if perhaps she'd dreamt the whole thing.

Her muscles, sore from chasing the UnSub through the maze of storage buildings, tightened painfully and pulled her from her thoughts. Soon, with a minimum of movement, she stood naked in front of the tubful of hot water. Easing her foot over the edge of the tub, she climbed in and submerged herself below the water's surface, leaving her head and the tips of her shoulders just above the waterline. She leaned her head back against the rim of the tub and allowed the water to soothe her aching body as well as her troubled mind. Closing her eyes, she replayed the last six hours.

Gasping for breath, Emily stumbled past the end of the last storage building, her gun drawn and leading the way. She'd never been so glad to see Morgan as she was in that moment, not quite sure if she'd had enough stamina to close the distance that remained between herself and the UnSub. Long minutes earlier, she'd spotted the suspect and had given chase while Morgan yelled that he'd swing around in the other direction. It seemed like she'd been running for miles before Morgan's plan came to fruition. He'd been waiting on the other side of the building when the UnSub had finally ducked through the narrow pathway that led directly to the waiting agent.

Everything progressed very quickly from there, and soon, the team was in the air and heading back home. Usually masking any and all physical and mental pain until she'd reached the safety of her apartment, Emily made the rare mistake of giving voice to her discomfort.

"I'm not going to be able to move tomorrow," she muttered softly, a low moan accompanying her words as she rolled her stiff neck and stretched her aching legs out in front of her.

Chuckling, JJ moved across the aisle to take the seat next to Emily, and she didn't hesitate to place her hand on the other agent's shoulder, her fingers already starting a gentle massaging motion.

"Yeah, but at least you and Morgan caught the bastard." She increased the pressure, and Emily reflexively closed her eyes and tilted her head, giving JJ better access; however, the thought of JJ giving her leg muscles the same treatment had her pressing her legs firmly together, causing the ache to worsen. Allowing JJ's touch suddenly didn't seem like such a good idea after all.

"Morgan caught him, you mean. All I did was run myself ragged." Emily shifted in her seat, attempting to subtly remove herself from JJ's touch. She offered a smile to the other agent. "Thanks for the massage though."

"Anytime," said JJ, giving Emily's shoulder one last squeeze before she finally released it. Winking, she sat back in her seat, the teasing smile that played on her lips seeming to say much, much more. The two of them had been playing at this game for far too long.

"Um, okay," Emily stuttered out. "I'll remember that." Not able to continue to meet JJ's penetrating gaze, Emily smiled slightly and closed her eyes as she leaned her head back against the seat. Trapped in a plane with her other colleagues, thousands and thousands of miles above the ground, wasn't exactly the ideal location for the two of them to address the chemistry that made itself known every time they were together. She'd just have to feign sleep because, unless JJ moved back across the aisle, there was no way Emily could relax.

The rest of the trip was made in silence, but the moment the wheels touched down, JJ made Emily an offer. "Feel like getting something to drink before you head home?"

Emily reached for her bag, stalling until she could think more clearly. When she and JJ finally had their heart to heart, she wanted to be at her best, but having JJ so close to her these past couple of days had begun to short circuit her thoughts. Emily's mind kept running an infinite loop of JJ's hand on her, and judging from her reply to the other woman's question, it was still stuck in the repeat mode.

"I've got a nice bottle of wine at home." The words were out before she could call them back. The last thing she needed in her current state of mind was more JJ overload, but it appeared that was exactly what she was going to get.

"Sounds like a plan." JJ eased to her feet and moved across the aisle to retrieve her own bag. "I've just got to sign off on a few things, and then I'll meet you at your car."

"Um," Emily started, but JJ seemed to read her mind.

"I'll follow you to your place."

Nodding, Emily agreed, her eyes drifting to JJ's backside when the other woman turned to exit the plane ahead of her. 'Don't look down, don't look down' became her mantra until she'd finally stepped off the plane and headed for her car.

The drive to her apartment allowed Emily time to gather her thoughts and put her invitation in its proper perspective. This was just two friends sharing a glass of wine and winding down from a long, difficult case; nothing more needed to be read into it, at least for the time being. The minute JJ finished her glass, she'd be on her way, and then Emily could have her mental meltdown when JJ was gone. This time, however, the meltdown wouldn't have anything to do with the last case.

An hour later, the two agents sat on opposite ends of the couch, drinking from their glasses of wine. Emily had been surprised to find herself completely relaxed and not obsessed with her earlier thoughts.

"So, Garcia said that Kevin is quite, um, … gifted is the way I believe she described it," JJ chuckled, remembering the bit of girl talk she and the technical analyst had shared the evening before the team had to leave on this latest case. She smiled at the rich laughter coming from the other end of the sofa.

"Oh my God, I can just hear her now. I wish I'd have been in on that particular discussion."

"Yeah, but you had other plans as I recall." JJ had wondered at the time what sort of plans Emily had made and had hoped that the other woman wasn't just blowing her off.

A frown crossed Emily's face, disappearing as fast as it had appeared as she recalled why she hadn't been able to go out with her friends. She hadn't realized how exhausting the week had truly been until now; she could barely remember the first of the week.

"Oh, my mother was in town, and I'd promised to have dinner with her."

"Well, maybe next time then," said JJ, her tone hopeful. Spending time with Emily was fast becoming her favorite pastime, and she was fairly certain that Emily felt the same way.

"It's a date." Emily hadn't realized what she'd said as she lifted her hand to stifle a yawn. The last few days had been very stressful, and her lack of sleep was beginning to show.

"It's late, I should go." JJ pushed to her feet and started for the kitchen, but Emily intercepted the other woman and took the glass from her hand. The brush of skin against skin caused both women to tremble.

"Here, let me show you to the door, and then I'll take care of the glasses." With less than steady hands, Emily placed them on the coffee table and started for the door. JJ followed closely behind and tried very hard not to take advantage of her position to admire an unaware Emily. Instead, her thoughts turned to taking advantage of the perfect situation to put the ball in Emily's court.

At the door, JJ turned at the last moment, and without warning, she leaned in and kissed Emily. Totally off-guard and more than a little overwhelmed, Emily felt as if she was drowning in the wonderful sensations – the soft lips against hers, the hand resting on her hip as JJ drew her near, the feel of JJ's body pressed tightly against her own – and when a smooth, silky tongue pushed its way next to hers, she voluntarily allowed herself to go under, holding on to JJ tightly and trusting the other woman to keep her heart safe.

The intimate moment was at once, frightening and exciting, seeming to last forever, yet at the same time, only lasting for the briefest of moments. JJ finally pulled away and caressed Emily's face.

"Nothing has to come of this. It's up to you, Emily." Without another word, JJ walked out the door.

Sputtering, Emily rose to the surface of the water and took a deep breath, drawing in as much air as her lungs allowed. The memory of JJ's kiss had sent her head below the water, the intensity so great that she'd tried to push it from her mind; instead, it had only grown stronger and stronger. As JJ's parting words echoed through her head, the pressure that had been building in her lungs forced her to surface, her need for a breath more pressing than her efforts to postpone the inevitable. No matter what she did, nothing would keep her from having to face the burning question. What was she going to do about the kiss?

The symmetry of her drowning in water so akin to her drowning in JJ was not lost on the floundering Emily; with a groan of frustration, she closed her eyes and submerged once again.

What was she going to do?

The End

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