Fragile Truce
by Kayryn

Disclaimer: Mark Gordon's and CBS'. Not mine. Never was, never will be. But since they keep dragging their heels with the back-story for these two, what's a girl to do?
Rated: G
Summary: Erin Strauss wanted to get a chance to really talk to Alex, but this was not what she had in mind.
Spoilers: season eight up to 8.16.
A/N: Lysachan, you have my gratitude for everything.

Chapter 1

Erin Strauss woke to a blinding headache. In fact, her whole body hurt now that she thought about it. Reluctant to open her eyes just yet for the fear of making the headache even worse, she tried to assess her situation. The last thing she could remember was coming home. It had been a long day of fighting, again, with her superiors whether or not BAU's A-team should continue handling the case in which they themselves were targets. She'd argued fiercely on their behalf, repeating the very lines the team had given her. They knew the cases better than anyone; they were the best bet to catch the Replicator. She had fished her house keys from her shoulder bag... And then nothing; that was the last thing she could remember.

Finally, some of her age-old training kicked in. Still keeping her eyes closed, Erin was able to determine she was lying on a cold, hard surface, most likely a concrete floor. The air was was damp and a bit chilly. She wasn't gagged, or bound, so whoever took her wasn't worried about her escaping, and despite the way her body hurt, nothing seemed to be broken. She listened for any sounds, but couldn't really hear anything - except someone else breathing. Cautiously opening her eyes, Erin took in her surroundings; it was just as she'd estimated. She was in a corner of a large room with a door that looked like it could be made of steel. There were no windows or furniture, and a dim lamp hanging close to the door was the only source of light. In the other corner of the room, there was someone else lying on the floor, facing the wall. The bad lighting and the distance made it hard for Strauss tell more than that it was a woman with brown hair.

"Hello? Are you alright?" Erin called out to the other woman, but received no reply.

Slowly, Strauss first got on her knees and, then, leaning against the wall for support, stood up. This was when she noticed she had no shoes. Well, two inch heels could make for handy weapons in the right hands, she grudgingly admitted to herself. So, whoever took her and this other woman was clearly smart, leaving very little to chance.

Bracing herself against the wall, Erin slowly but steadily made her way to her fellow captive. As she got to about four feet of her, Erin's heart dropped to her stomach. "Alex?"

Still getting no response, the older woman lowered herself to the floor. At this end of the room, there was barely enough light to see the woman's features, but there was no mistaking who she was.

"Alex?" Erin tried once more, but to no avail. Hesitating for a moment, she reached out a hand to Alex's shoulder. Gently shaking the woman had no affect either, and Erin was starting to get worried.

She checked Alex for injuries and found nasty bruises on her forehead and cheek. Placing a hand on the battered forehead, Erin found it alarmingly warm; Alex was running a low fever. Carefully turning the woman to lie on her back, Erin resumed her examination. Visual inspection didn't reveal anything, but it was dark and Alex was wearing her usual black slacks, dark blouse, and a black jacket, so it was hard to be sure. Something was causing the fever, and Erin needed to know what. Silently asking for forgiveness, she ran her hands down Alex's right arm to check for broken bones, and, finding everything as it should be, she moved on to the left arm. The sleeve was wet, sticky, just below the shoulder. Erin's raised her hand and just as she feared, her hand was now covered in blood. Swallowing down her panic, she resumed her tactile inspection of the arm. Nothing else seemed out of place.

Worried about the arm more than anything at that point, Erin managed to remove Alex's jacket so that she could take a better look at it. It was a through and through, about four inches down from her shoulder. The wounds had stopped bleeding, but the skin around both wounds was inflamed. She had nothing to clean the wounds with; the room didn't have a sink, or even a faucet, nor could Erin see any water bottles. She hoped their capturer would at least provide them with water - and soon. They were going to have to ration it, but some could be used to help clean Alex's wounds.

With some effort she maneuvered them so that she sat with her back against the wall while she held Alex's unconscious body. At least she was breathing, Erin reminded herself. And, considering how Alex felt about Erin, and not knowing how long they'd be stuck together in this room, maybe Alex being non-the-wiser about their predicament for now was a blessing. Stubbornly, Erin disregarded the knowledge that the longer the brunette stayed unconscious, more serious her situation would become.

Erin wondered how long they'd been in the room; she had no idea what time it was. Automatically checking her wrist, she discovered her watch missing as well. She glanced at Alex's wrists: No watch. There was no question in her mind that their phones were gone also.

Gently cradling Alex, Erin leaned her head against the wall, unsure of what to do next. Calling for help, or banging the door with her fists, would probably do no good. At worst, it could invite the wrath of whoever had taken them. Strauss swallowed; if it had been just her in this room, the UnSub could've been just about anyone. But to take both her and Alex? It had to be the Replicator.

Knowing and accepting that this was the only logical explanation was a lot harder than Strauss cared to admit. Despite trying not to, she wondered what he would do with them, what his endgame was. Was the team already aware that she and Alex were missing? If so, how close were they to finding them? Would they find them soon enough? She knew she was starting to panic, and it was something she definitely couldn't afford right now. She needed to keep her head clear, keep an eye on Alex, and try to figure out if there was anything she could do to help their escape. The problem was, she had no idea where to start.