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bring me in from the cold

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Shauna doesn't remember falling asleep, only lying down on her makeshift bed in the attic, adrenaline still pumping through her veins in the aftermath of her fight with Jackie. Some of the rage she experienced at the moment still bubbling inside of her, yet unlike feeling like a pot boiling over with scalding hot water, this was more of a low simmer, dying down along with the epinephrine in her system. 

"Shauna."

Something shakes Shauna back into consciousness, pulling her from her sleep and back into the actual nightmare that is her life now: stranded in the wilderness, pregnant with her best friend's—are they even friends anymore? Jackie made it pretty clear that she didn't want anything to do with Shauna when she went outside to sleep rather than spend another second in the same room with her—boyfriend's baby, and at odds with said—ex?—best friend. 

"Shauna!" 

The same voice hisses louder this time and is accompanied by another rough shove, pulling some of the blankets down Shauna's body. 

It's cold. Colder than it had been when Shauna first came up here. She blinks her eyes open slowly and notices that she can just barely see her breath in the air. It's still relatively dark, so Shauna knows it's not morning yet, and she wonders what the actual fuck Taissa needs so badly that she'd bother Shauna in the middle of the night, especially after the day she had. 

Suddenly, the blankets are ripped completely off, and Shauna glares up at Taissa, who's leaning over her in the attic with the blankets in a heap at her side. "Shauna, get up!"

"What the fuck, Tai? I was trying to sleep!" 

"Clearly," Taissa mutters, arms folded across her chest, not threatened in the slightest by the pregnant girl now sitting up with her hair falling out of her ponytail in places. "You need to go outside and get your dumbass friend. I can't believe she's stupid enough to—actually, you know what I can believe it," the other girl shakes her head. "You need to tell Jackie to get her ass inside before she becomes an ice sculpture."

Shauna blinks again. Tries to process what Taissa just said, but her sleep-addled brain is slow to put the meaning to the words. And once she does, Shauna's first thought is that she's having another dream-like before when Misty delivered her chicken baby. Because surely Jackie isn't still sitting outside if it's this cold inside. This is Jackie they're talking about. The same Jackie that would put two layers of clothes underneath her soccer kit if the weather was less than fifty degrees. The same Jackie who would steal the covers at their sleepovers even though her room was always warm enough as it is. 

It has to be a dream.

Because if it's not that means Jackie hates her more than she hates the cold. And, sure, Shauna said all those things earlier, but she didn't mean all of them. She just said them. Because that's what people do in the heat of the moment. They say things. 

It's true that Shauna never really loved soccer, and that Jackie did always get her way, but there are two people in their friendship. Shauna always lets those things happen. She rarely puts up a fight—let's be honest, she never put up a fight before the plane crash—because she loves Jackie so much that she'd sacrifice her own happiness. Always. 

Except for the part where she slept with Jackie's boyfriend, that is. 

"Shauna. Go. Outside. And. Get. Jackie." 

Taissa chucks the hoodie Shauna's been using at her face rather roughly, pulling her out of her thoughts and back to the present.

Shauna jumps to her feet and pushes past Taissa to get to the window. As she nears the glass pane, Shauna realizes that it's much lighter outside than it should be, and when she squints, she can see the little flecks floating down from the sky. 

It's snowing.

Although there's no snow on the ground just yet, the flakes are large and coming down quickly. It'll be no time at all until the ground is covered in the white powder. Her eyes follow the movement of the falling snowflakes until she spots the outline of a lone figure wrapped in a blanket and sitting on a log in front of the fire pit with a non-existent fire. 

Jackie.

Shauna's feet slap against the wood floor in her rush to get to the ladder. She barely takes the time to step down the rungs, instead, she mostly slides until she hits the first floor, ignoring the way her shins ache at the impact and some of the girls rouse from their own slumbers. Doesn't wait for Taissa, who's following her down the ladder at a more cautionary pace. She hurries to the front door, haphazardly slips on her sneakers, and pulls open the door. A rush of cold air hits her in the face and somewhere in the back of her mind Shauna registers the others complaining to 'shut the door, Shauna.'

"Jackie?" Shauna calls as soon as she's out on the porch. 

There's no sign of movement from the blanket and Shauna feels her heart jump into her throat because no there's no way they all left Jackie out there to freeze to death. 

"Jackie!" Shauna's feet carry her from the porch and over to the other girl faster than she's ever moved on the field. She doesn't even register the cold or the snow hitting her in the face. The only thing that matters at that moment is Jackie. Fuck whatever bullshit she spewed during their fight. She didn't want Jackie to die. She never wanted Jackie to die. She loves Jackie even if Jackie doesn't love her back. Even if Jackie hates her for the rest of their lives and never forgives her. Jackie's life, which is supposed to be much longer than this. 

Once she gets within a few feet of the light-haired girl, Shauna sees movement, and she can breathe again. "Jackie, thank God." Shauna falls to her knees in front of Jackie's trembling form and reaches out to grip the edge of the blanket. "Jackie, you need to come inside. You'll freeze out here." 

At this point, a few of the others have made their way out onto the porch to observe. Taissa is quick to herd them back inside, but can't really stop some of the JV girls from gawking at them through the windows. Shauna doesn't pay them any mind because all that matters right now is the violently shivering girl before her. 

"G-go away Sh-Shauna," Jackie's teeth clack together loudly and she pulls the blanket tighter around herself and out of Shauna's grasp, the movement stiff and jerky-like her joints are frozen, and Shauna realizes that they probably are. Her eyes are shut tightly and her lips have a worrisome bluish tint to them that drops another rock down into the deep pit already formed in Shauna's stomach "You d-don't care if I die or not. I'm a b-bad friend. You h-hate me. Re-remember?"

"Please, Jackie," Shauna begs, tugging on the blanket again. "We can talk about it inside. I don't hate you. I could never hate you. You're my best friend. I love you. You're the one who should hate me. I'm the bad friend, not you. I fucked everything up with you and…and Jeff! I should be the one out here in the cold. I should've died in the plane crash for what I did to you."

Suddenly, Jackie's fingers are wrapped around Shauna's wrists, her fingers digging into the skin and Shauna almost gasps at just how cold Jackie is. 

"Don't say that," Jackie's looking right at Shauna now, lips trembling as her green eyes pin the kneeling teen in place. "You can't say s-say things like that, Shauna! Not when this is our life now. Not when our friends explode trying to get help in a plane they don't know how to f-fly or go off into the woods and get attacked by wolves!" She pulls Shauna by the wrists closer, eyelids peeled back, making her eyes look impossibly wider. "Not when you're pregnant and might have to give birth in the middle of god knows what special place in hell this is."

Slowly, Shauna pries Jackie's fingers off of her and covers the icy digits with her own hands, rubbing them together to create enough friction to maybe thaw them out a little bit. She doesn't like to think about what will happen when the baby comes. When the next best thing they have to a doctor is Misty fucking Quigley who literally drugged them only days ago and brought something out in Shauna that almost killed Travis. Doesn't want to contemplate her own mortality any longer than she has to, but apparently, Jackie is doing it for Shauna and not herself. So, Shauna will have to worry about Jackie's mortality until she can convince the girl to do it on her own. 

"We'll both go inside, OK?" 

"They don't want me in there," Jackie still won't budge and a part of Shauna worries that it's because she can't move and not that she won't. "You heard them."

"I want you in there, Jax. You don't owe me anything, but I'm not worth killing yourself over, so please come inside. We can talk it out, you can yell at me, whatever you need to do," Shauna promises, brown peering into green as she waits. 

For a terrifyingly long moment, Shauna fears that Jackie's going to refuse. Waits with bated breath until the light-haired teen starts to move her limbs clumsily. It's so un-Jackie-like that if the situation were different Shauna probably would've laughed. 

She helps Jackie to her feet, stepping closer and slipping her arm securely around Jackie's waist when the captain wobbles unsteadily on her feet. Isn't fazed by the wetness that's beginning to soak into her clothes from the melting snow, but is more concerned that it's sticking to Jackie. Shauna feels the need to hurry them along to get the girl inside as quickly as possible.

"S'cold, Shauna," Jackie murmurs, her head lolling to the side and resting on Shauna's shoulder. "It's so cold."

"I know, Jackie. We're going to get you warm," Shauna promises. 

Taking most of Jackie's weight—she was light before they got here and now she doesn't feel heavier than a feather—Shauna moves them across the ground and back to the cabin. 

Taissa and Misty are on the porch when they get there. Taissa comes around to Jackie's other side and throws the shivering girl's arm around her neck. They half-carry half-drag Jackie towards the fireplace, only to be halted by the bushy-haired equipment manager. 

"We can't put her too close to the fire!" Misty exclaims, gesturing over to the old and lumpy sofa they'd pushed to the other side of the room. "Take her to the couch for now. It could kill her if we warm her up too quickly."

As sad as it is, Misty is the one with the most emergency medical training, so Shauna and Taissa follow her over to the sofa. Akilah clears off some of the things scattered across the surface and throws one of the ratty blankets that they found in the cabin down. 

"The shivering is actually a good sign," the blonde ignores the dubious look that Shauna sends her as they lower Jackie onto the couch. "It means that her body's heat-regulating system is still working and it's probably only a minor case of hypothermia." When they just stare at her, Misty continues, "She's not going to die. As long as we get her out of these wet clothes and warm her up." 

"I'm right here," Jackie rasps, "stop talking about me like I'm not." 

They all look at Jackie then. She really looks pathetic with her damp sidebangs sticking to her forehead and her quivering shoulders. Like a stray dog they brought in off the streets.

"Er…sorry, Jackie," Misty doesn't seem that sorry, Shauna thinks, probably still upset about the whole 'Jackie not praying to the forest entity' thing for the bear meat they ate last night. "Do you think you can take your clothes off?"

Taissa hands off the wet sleeping bag Jackie was wrapped in off to Mari, who puts it on a hook near the fire to dry. Shauna helps Jackie out of her letterman and sets it aside on the bench. 

Jackie's shaking fingers can't seem to grasp the hem of her shirt to pull it off, but they let her try for about thirty seconds until Shauna can't take it anymore. 

"Here," she brushes Jackie's hands—still ice cold—out of the way and lifts the fabric gently, leaving Jackie in her—thankfully—bra. "I got it."

If her face wasn't flushed because of the cold, Shauna knows it would be tomato red at the proximity to Jackie in only a bra. They see each other practically naked in the locker room all the time, but Shauna can avert her gaze then. Now she's literally stripping Jackie to her undergarments. One fight, no matter how monumental it was, isn't going to just erase those feelings swirling around inside of her. In any case, Shauna and Misty each grab a pant leg and gently ease Jackie out of her jeans. 

Lottie appears next to Shauna carrying a bundle of makeshift blankets. 

"Since her stuff is all wet and you'll probably stay down here tonight, I figured you wouldn't mind sharing your blankets," Lottie deposits them in Shauna's arms, but she's staring at Jackie with a puzzled look. 

Shauna hadn't really thought that far, but she can't imagine leaving Jackie's side until the other girl is completely in the clear. 

"Thanks, Lottie." 

The brunette nods and moves across the room to sit down on her spot next to Van. 

Turning back to Jackie, who's now lying down on the sofa, Shauna reminds herself that this isn't a time to ogle. She shakes out the bigger of the two blankets first and lays it down over Jackie and the girl curls into it, trying to get as much warmth as she can. Shauna layers the other one on top and adjusts it to cover everything but Jackie's head. 

"Is that better?" She asks. 

Jackie bobs her head up and down and some of the tension in Shauna's shoulders dissipates. The girl's green eyes flutter shut as she fights to stay awake. 

"OK," Shauna smoothes the blankets again, before reaching up to push Jackie's hair out of her face. "Good." 

Coach Ben's crutches tap as he makes his way over to them. Shauna assumes that he kept his distance until they covered Jackie up. Probably didn't want Misty to get the wrong idea and think he was staring at the girl's exposed body and have the blonde then poison him for it later on. 

"She's gonna be alright? No frostbite or anything?" He juts his chin out in Jackie's direction, purposefully avoiding looking at Misty, who staring holes into the side of his head. 

"She'll be fine," Misty shrugs. "If she was out there any longer, we would have been dealing with a much more dire situation. Frostbite would be the least of our concerns."

She'd be dead, Shauna's brain says the words that Misty doesn't. Jackie would be dead. 

"Shauna?"

"Hm?" Shauna turns to Misty, whose eyes are flicking back and forth between her and the huddled-up form of her best friend.

"One of the best ways to warm up a person with mild hypothermia is skin-to-skin contact. It'll warm her up slowly and it's much safer than sticking her near the fire," Misty's medical knowledge is seemingly endless. 

"Oh?" Shauna glances around to see Misty, Coach Ben, Taissa, and Akilah all staring at her. 

Oh. 

"Right," she nods slowly. "I can…do that."

Shauna and Jackie have shared a bed hundreds of times. Shauna can do this. 

She moves carefully over to the sofa, but Misty's voice interrupts her again before she can lift the covers. 

"It would—uh—probably be better if you took…well most of your clothes off, too." Misty nudges her glasses up her nose. "Your body heat will travel more successfully."

Something low in Shauna's belly does a swoosh at the thought of cuddling practically naked with Jackie, and it's not the baby inside her that causes it. Still, it feels like taking advantage of the girl's prone position considering Shauna's feelings—feelings that haven't changed despite their blowout only hours ago. But after that feeling of pure terror flooding her system when she looked outside the window, Shauna doesn't care if it's a little bit selfish. 

"Yeah….okay," Shauna agrees, starting to slip out of her flannel. 

"Mari, can you warm up some of the boiled water? Not too hot, though, just for a couple of minutes," Misty asks. 

Mari, who'd been whispering to one of the younger girls, goes to grab the pot from the shelf and put it over the fire.

"Since Jackie seems mostly coherent and Shauna will be with her, the rest of us can probably go back to bed," Misty says, staring at Coach Ben for a second too long—Shauna can tell he's looking past the blonde and not at her—before her gaze moves back to Shauna. "I can check on her again in the morning, but I think she's going to be fine." 

With that, the group surrounding Jackie disperses. All except for Taissa, who puts her hand on Shauna's shoulder. 

"You gonna be good?" She asks. 

It's weird how it took this whole situation for Shauna and Taissa to become friends instead of just teammates. Shauna never disliked Taissa per se, that was all Jackie due to their competing for the captaincy and all, but the brunette kept her distance in a show of misguided solidarity. Now, Shauna considers Taissa one of her closest friends. 

"Yeah," Shauna nods. "Thanks, Tai."

Taissa leaves Shauna alone with Jackie—well, as alone as they can get with everyone sharing the first floor of the cabin—and walks over to where the majority of the girls are sitting and talking with her hands on her hips. Shauna hears Tai start talking in a hushed whisper. 

"Something like this doesn't happen again. This isn't fucking high school anymore, so we're not going to act like petty bitches. Nobody else is going to die out here, especially in a way that's preventable. Do you understand me?"

Shauna feels another wave of gratitude for Taissa, who she'll probably never be able to repay for making sure the rest of them—making sure that Shauna—didn't leave Jackie outside to freeze to death. 

Moving her focus back to the green-eyed captain, Shauna notes that Jackie's trembling has eased up, but she's still curled up in a ball seeking out every last molecule of warmth from the covers. 

She bites her lip as she pulls off her flannel and moves to push down her pants. When she stands back up, she's in a t-shirt and her underwear. Shauna hasn't worn a bra in a while. Since her boobs no longer fit in the spare she brought and she's not sure what Taissa did with the one that she tried using to…well, you get the point. So, the t-shirt will stay on, because Shauna is crossing a lot of lines here and laying with Jackie, who's also half-naked, in only her bottoms is not one she's going to cross tonight. 

Shauna lays her hand on Jackie's hunched-up form. "Jackie, scooch over a little bit," she whispers. 

Jackie's eyelids flutter open and she observes Shauna. There's a brief pause where Shauna thinks that Jackie isn't going to budge, but she only holds her breath for a second until Jackie slides further onto the couch and her back is pressed up against the cushion.

In a move that's all too familiar, Jackie tentatively lifts the blankets. Not a word leaves her lips, which are now back to their pretty pale pink, but the invitation is clear as day. There's a pang of longing in Shauna's chest for simpler days when the invitation to cuddle didn't come after a near-death experience. 

Gently, Shauna eases herself onto the sofa and under the covers. Jackie's still curled up, so Shauna slowly and carefully pulls the older girl's arms apart from where they're crossed over her chest. Slings them over each of Shauna's hips and wedges one of her legs between Jackie's knees, to get her to relax and uncurl them until all four of their lower limbs are tangled together. Jackie's head slots perfectly underneath Shauna's chin, cheek pressed against the thin fabric of the brown-eyed teen's t-shirt. 

There's no doubt that Jackie can hear just how quickly Shauna's heart is racing, but she still doesn't say anything and just lets out a contented sigh. 

Shauna kisses the top of her dirty blonde hair and feels Jackie's arms wrap around her, fisting the fabric tightly. Her voice is as soft as the flap of a butterfly's wings when she finally speaks. 

"I miss us." 

Opening her mouth to respond with something along the lines of we've been stuck together for months, Shauna realizes what Jackie actually means. 

Jackie's referring to the Shauna and Jackie from before the plane crash. From before they both made the varsity team their junior year. Shauna tries to ignore the hope burning inside of her that Jackie also means from before she started dating Jeff. When it was really just the two of them. When they were freshmen trying out for JV, all awkward and still adjusting to the hormones coursing through their young bodies. When they'd alternate sleeping between their houses every Friday night, watching movies and giggling under the covers about whatever drama had happened at school that week. Maybe Jackie even means before high school, when boys weren't even really on their minds and their biggest worries were getting their periods. 

Blinking back tears, Shauna kisses the top of Jackie's head again. "I miss us, too." 

"I'm sorry that I read your journal," Jackie's hold on Shauna's shirt tightens. "I'm sorry that I didn't pay attention to what you wanted instead of what I wanted."

"No, Jax. I'm sorry. I felt like you were slipping away and… I should've told you about applying to Brown. But all you could talk about was Rutgers and all you wanted to do was to hang out with Jeff," the tears are falling now as Shauna explains what Jackie's already read in her diary. She feels Jackie pull back enough to look at her, but Shauna's eyes are focused on a dark knot in the wood on the wall past Jackie's head. "So, one night when he drove me home from one of Lottie’s parties, it… it just happened.” 

Shauna's gaze flicks down just long enough to watch Jackie's eyebrows draw together, and her bottom lip jut out. 

"Why did you pick Jeff, though? I didn't even think you liked him. Did… did you do it to get back at me?" Jackie asks. 

"God, no, Jackie," Shauna chokes back a quiet laugh at the idea of her having any feelings whatsoever for Jeff Sadecki. "That's not why."

Slipping one of her arms out from behind the darker-haired girl, Jackie brings her hand up to rest on Shauna's shoulder. Squeezing it slightly, she gets Shauna to maintain eye contact for longer than a second. 

"Then why, Shauna?"

Having read her journal, Jackie has to know why Shauna did it, she thinks to herself. 

Sure, Shauna never explicitly wrote down, 'I'm in love with Jackie Taylor,' in her journal, but she basically said everything but. Jackie has to have some idea of how Shauna feels, with how she spent pages describing the soccer captain in detail, whereas her experience with Jeff lasted less than two paragraphs and her guilt about it took up the rest. How could Jackie read about Brown and Jeff and not read between the lines enough to see how Shauna feels about her

"Because…." Shauna bites her lip, "he was the closest thing I could get to you."

There are over a dozen other girls in the room, most of them asleep again at this point, but it feels like it's just the two of them. 

And Shauna can't keep her feelings to herself anymore. Not after one of them almost died. During their fight, she let out all of her negative feelings, so it's only fair that she gets out the rest of them, too. 

"... me?" Jackie rasps. 

"Yes, Jackie, you." Shauna resists the urge to reach up and cradle the side of the light-haired girl's face. To wipe the tears from her cheek away and run her thumb along the other girl's jaw. "The entire time—with Jeff, I only thought about you. Your eyes and your hair and your hands. But it didn't work and it didn't make me feel any better. It made me feel worse. Because not only did I have sex with my best friend's boyfriend, but it make me realize it would never be you. You would never feel the same way I do and that crushed me," she breathes deeply. "So, when we got here, I kept my distance because I didn't feel like I could be close to you without the truth spilling out of me. Which meant—that included my feelings for you."

It's silent as Shauna tightly closes her eyes and catches her breath. Jackie doesn't say anything and Shauna can't bring herself to look at the anger or disgust or pity that's definitely written on the other girl's face. 

For the second time that night, Shauna feels that heavy rock drop into the pit of her stomach. This time in the anticipation of Jackie's impending rejection. 

Shauna detaches herself from Jackie and starts to pull away. "God, Jackie. I'm so sorry. I'm gonna—"

Her attempt at flight is cut short as fingers grip the front of her shirt and tug her forward, her rambling stopped by soft lips covering her own. 

Jackie's kissing her. 

Jackie's kissing her

Shock quickly turns into bliss as Shauna returns the kiss, their lips moving together in tandem. Jackie's fingers glide up to tangle in Shauna's curly, dark hair, while Shauna's find purchase on Jackie's hips. 

Jackie pulls on Shauna's hair lightly and Shauna has to swallow back a low moan so as to not wake any of the others. 

Feeling daring, Shauna gently bites down on Jackie's lower lip and drags her teeth back across the skin, feeling Jackie's grip on her hair tighten in response. 

Eventually, Shauna runs out of breath and they pull apart with a soft smack. Their foreheads rest against each other, their noses brushing as they share the same breath. 

"What about Jeff?" Shauna remembers.

Jackie rolls her eyes. "Jeff didn't even come say goodbye the morning we left. Said it was 'too early.' Can you believe that?" Shauna can, actually, but before she can nod, Jackie continues, "If I'm being honest, I haven't even thought about him in weeks. The only person I've thought about is you, Shauna."

"Me?" Shauna echoes Jackie's question from minutes ago. 

"Yes," Jackie kisses Shauna on the nose, and giggles when Shauna wrinkles it in response. "Sure, we have a lot to talk about and I think some apologies need to be made on both ends, but I love you, Shauna Shipman. There's literally no one else I'd rather be stranded in the middle of the woods with." 

"I love you, too." Shauna chokes out a happy laugh. 

The two of them curl into one another like they have thousands of times before. Only this time, they exchange kisses and smiles until they both fall asleep.

As she's drifting off, Shauna thinks to herself that maybe the plane crash isn't the worst thing that's ever happened to her.