I'll Be Right Behind You

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Chapter 10

It’s going to be a long day… Alex thought as she stepped out of her car with her cup of coffee in her hand. It was the first time since the shooting she’d been to The Hourglass and Helios was relieved to know that he hadn’t lost a customer. It also helped to have seen Nicole before her day began.

“Cappuccino with an extra shot of espresso and no sugar, right?” Helios asked with a smile as he saw Alex approach the counter.

“Yeah.” She muttered, giving him a small smile.

Helios punched her order in and Alex swiped her card. “Just be a minute.”

She nodded, waiting by the counter.

“I thought I lost you.” He said as he returned a moment later with her drink and a small paper bag. “I mean there is a Starbucks right across the street from your precinct.”

“I wasn’t in for work the last few days.” She told him. “I think Nicole and Ophelia told you.”

“Yeah.” Helios handed her the coffee along with the paper bag.

Alex looked at him questioningly, taking it from him, she never got anything other than coffee in the morning.

“Chocolate muffin.” He explained with his warm smile. If Alex was going to be honest, she probably never saw him without a smile – other than the first time she’d met him and he was trying to be mad at his baby sister. “It’s on the house.”

“Too much chocolate in my opinion.” Alex turned around at the familiar voice.

“Who complains about too much chocolate?” Helios asked Alex, taken aback, as she turned back to him and Nicole joined them.

“Not me.” She told him with another small smile, turning to Nicole as Helios walked off to get her coffee. “Morning.”

“Morning.” The blonde greeted back. “Ready to go back to work?”

Alex let out a deep sigh. “Well…”

“It’ll be okay.” She raised her hand, gently squeezing Alex’s arm. “How’s the umm…other arm?”

“Nothing but a scratch now. There’s still a mark, but most of it will fade away. Eventually.” She told Nicole as Helios returned with her drink.

The two of them walked out of The Hourglass together in silence, making their way towards their cars. “I’m sorry I kept you up late last night.” Alex apologized as they approached Nicole’s car. It was parked right behind the brunette’s.

“It’s fine. You really have to stop apologizing.” She brushed it off with a small smile. “How are you doing?”

Alex shrugged, answering honestly, “I don’t know.” But offered a half smile nonetheless.

“Call me when you get out, okay?” Nicole asked, unlocking her car. “I’ll come over if you want me to. Or you can come over, I don’t think O’s gonna be home.”

She nodded as Nicole opened the door and got into her car.

Walking into the precinct, it felt like nothing had changed. The elevator was still the same, the people riding up with her were still the same, the people who greeted her as she walked into the bullpen towards her desk were the still the same. It felt like nothing had happened, everything was just as it had been before and the last few days were nothing but a terrible nightmare. Everything was fine up until the moment she made it to her desk – and Reyna’s desk, which was opposite her’s. It looked different, all of Reyna’s personal belongings now gone and replaced by someone else’s. Officer Caris Harvey, read the nameplate now on the desk. Alex didn’t recognize the name or have a face to go with it as the chair was empty.

With a small sigh, she sat down her bag on the floor next to her desk. Pulling the chair out, Alex was about to sit down when a knock caught her attention. It was their captain, Captain Indra Carson; her office was only a few feet away from Alex and Any– Officer Caris Harvey’s desk. She motioned Alex with her head to join her in her office. She nodded in response, doing as she was told.

“Captain.” Alex greeted as she closed the door and stood across the desk from Captain Carson.

“Take a seat.” She waited till Alex had sat herself down before continuing. “How are you doing?”

“I’m alright.” Alex replied, almost too quickly.

“I know you’re not one to talk so I won’t ask you too much.” Alex nodded gratefully, she’d had enough of people trying to get her to talk about Reyna’s death and how she was feeling, so this was a nice change. “You have a new partner.” Indra pointed out.

Alex was dreading this bit; she’d hoped that it would take a little bit longer to find someone new for the precinct. “Officer Harvey?”

Indra nodded. “Transfer from vice.” She told her. “One of the best they had down there; a lot of potential, I can see her going far. I thought who better to take her under their wing than you?”

“Seriously?” Alex muttered under her breath. “She would be better off with literally anyone else.”

Her captain waited a few moments before speaking again, “Be nice, she’s excited to be here and I expect you two to get along.”

Alex nodded as she stood up from her seat.

She ran a hand through her hair as she approached her desk and noticed that there someone was now sitting at the desk opposite her’s. Alex thought it was safe to assume that it was her new partner, Caris Harvey. As the young officer caught a glimpse of Alex, her head shot up, quickly followed by her standing up and extending a hand for Alex. “Detectives Woods?”

Alex couldn’t help but smile at the enthusiasm in her new partner’s voice. She nodded, shaking her hand. “I guess you’re stuck with me.”

“Are you kidding?” She started as they both sat down. “I’ve heard a lot about you and I’m glad we get to work together.”

Sitting at her desk across from Reyna’s with someone new behind it was proving to be harder by every passing minute. So it was a relief when their captain poked her head out of her office’s door and gave them the address to a body drop a couple of hours later. “You’re first murder,” Alex said as she and Officer Harvey made their way down the stairs, not bothering to wait for the elevator.

“I know.” She beamed, her voice dripping with excitement.

Maybe the body drop wasn’t the greatest thing that could’ve happened to Alex today. Sure it wasn’t the easiest thing having to watch someone else sit where her best friend and partner used to, but it was a lot harder working a case with someone new. It seemed like a straightforward case and Alex hoped they would be able to close it by the end of the day. Between interviewing suspects and going over evidence, she could feel herself slowly falling apart inside once again; every little thing reminded her of Reyna – the lack of presence of her coffee mug next to Alex’s in the break room, Alex’s messy scribble of a handwriting on the murder board instead of Reyna’s clear block letters … Around 4pm, she couldn’t take it anymore and just wanted the day to be over already so she could go home and drown her pain in alcohol just like every other night these past few days.

“Where are you going?” Caris looked up from the papers laid out on the conference table in front of them as Alex abruptly stood up. They were going through their suspects’ credit history; the murder seemed like a professional hit, which meant their suspect had to have paid someone a reasonably large amount of money to get the job done.

“I need a minute.” With that she rushed out of the room, walking straight towards the janitor’s closet, knowing it was the only place in the entire building she could be alone. Rushing to close the door, Alex leaned back against it, covering her mouth with her hand to prevent the sob that suddenly escaped her lips. Her entire body trembled as she let herself slide down onto the floor, her hand still clasped over her mouth. Alex couldn’t stop the sobs from escaping but the least she could do was be as quiet as possible, attention was the last thing she wanted right now. Alex wasn’t sure how she was going to go back to work and make everyone continue believing she was alright. It was almost impossible to calm herself down for the next 10-15 minutes but eventually, she somehow managed to. Quietly, Alex exited the janitor’s closet and made her way to the bathroom. The cold water on her face felt nice and she hoped it wasn’t too obvious that she had been crying only a few seconds ago.

“Everything alright?” Caris asked without looking up as Alex entered the conference room with all their papers.

Alex nodded. “Did you find anything?” She had half expected her voice to waver and was surprised when it didn’t.

“I think so…” She said, holding up a piece of paper with pink highlighter marks on it for Alex to take a look at.

A few hours, two suspects and an arrest warrant later, Alex and Caris watched as a pair of uniforms took away their killer. “You just closed your first homicide, officer.” Alex said, almost proud.

“It feels great.” She said with a wide grin. “I have a bit of paperwork, I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yeah,” Alex nodded as she walked to her desk to grab her bag.

Getting in her car, she realized it was a little past midnight and decided against calling Nicole; Alex knew better than the fact that she wasn’t asleep but it was late nonetheless and she didn’t want to bother her, Alex kind of just wanted to be on her own…for now anyways. But Nicole would probably worry if she didn’t so Alex sent her a text instead.

Nicole was sitting on her couch with Ophelia watching Kitchen Nightmares when her phone buzzed.

“Is that Alex?” Her roommate asked.

“Yeah.” She nodded. “She just got out of work and wants to be alone right now.” Nicole briefly recapped the text for her friend, looking down at the small screen.

“I wish Lincoln would say that.” She shook her head.

“He’s alone right now…?” Nicole trailed off, unsure.

“That’s only because I said I needed some time to myself. I know his sister was just killed and all,” Ophelia started. “But like, I can’t stick around 24/7. Does that make me a bad person?” She asked her friend but answered it herself before the blonde could. “Probably. But it’s a bit too much for me.”

“Give him some time O, he’s going through a lot.”

“I know but like…look at Alex, yeah you’re there for her when she needs you but that’s not every second of the day.”

I’m not going to cry…not again, Alex thought as she pulled out a bottle of vodka from her kitchen cupboard and unscrewed the cap, taking a swig. She wondered how long it would take for the aching in her chest to finally subside without her having to drown it out at the end of the day in either vodka or scotch. This is getting ridiculous, she thought. Alex had promised herself that she wouldn’t get drunk after going back to work but today was probably the hardest since the night Reyna died.

Two hours and over a quarter of a bottle of vodka later, Alex sat on her living room floor, her left hand bloody as broken bits of glass lay next to her on the floor. She wasn’t even crying, she didn’t since getting home; Alex just felt numb and empty, as though all the tears had been drained out of her in the last few days.

The glass was from a picture frame, which used to be on the end table by her couch. It had a picture of Reyna and Alex, a selfie she was reluctant to take after closing their first homicide. When she sat down on the couch, it felt like the picture was mocking her, reminding her of all the good times they’d had and how Reyna would still be here if it weren’t for her stupidity. After a while, Alex couldn’t stop herself from picking it up and flinging it across the room. It hit the wall, smashing into tiny pieces as it fell on to the floor. It had taken a few minutes for her to get up and try to clean it but she’d lost her balance for a moment and slipped. But Alex managed to catch herself on her hand, letting it fall flat against the shards of glass. With her good hand, she reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone, dialing the only number Alex knew she could.

Nicole lay on her bed, staring up at the ceiling in the dark when her phone vibrated against the nightstand. It was unlikely for it to be anyone other than Alex calling at this hour so she answered without looking at the caller ID, “Hey,” It wasn’t unusual for her to be calling this late but it had only happened twice after Reyna’s death and it was only because Alex didn’t know who else she could talk to. They didn’t talking much though, it was mostly just to allow herself to know that someone was there for her and that she didn’t have to go through it alone.

“I’m sorry to wake you up, I know it’s late.” Alex started from the other end. Her voice was strained and raspy but not like she had been crying, it sounded more tired and exhausted.

“No, no.” Nicole started, “I wasn’t even asleep.”

“It’s past 2am, Nicole.” Alex reminded her, clearly unamused.

“I know.” She said. “I couldn’t sleep, I was worried about you. Is everything okay?”

There was brief pause on the other end before the brunette hesitantly asked, “Could you maybe come over…?

“Yeah, yeah.” Nicole turned on the light on her nightstand as she sat up. “What’s wrong?” This was unusual. Late night calls were never to ask Nicole to come over, they were mostly just to make the crippling sense of loneliness go away – even if it was just temporary. If she needed her over, something must be wrong.


A couple of seconds passed with Alex trying to find the right words, by then Nicole was already walking out of her room. “It’s fine, I’m on my way.”

“Thank you.”

Nicole left a brief note for Ophelia on the kitchen counter, letting her know where she was. She pulled on her jacket and grabbed her keys, making sure Alex’s one was on there as well. Nicole had gotten her keys about a week after they’d met. She was over at Alex’s place probably for the second time and they’d fallen asleep on the couch when Alex got called into work at a ridiculous hour. She didn’t want to wake Nicole up so she’d left a note on the coffee table along with a spare key.

Arriving at Alex’s apartment, Nicole parked her car in the usual spot and made her way upstairs. Sliding the key into the lock, she opened the door slowly and stepped inside. She noticed the brunette almost instantly, sitting on the floor, her arms around her knees and back against the wall. “Hey,” Nicole walked up to her, kneeling down.

“Hey,” Alex breathed out, giving Nicole a small wave without realizing she’d just shown her how badly she’d hurt herself.

“What happened?”

“I cut myself cleaning up the glass.”

The blonde nodded as she stood up, “First-aid kit?”

“Bathroom.” Alex’s voice was just above a whisper.

“Come on,” Nicole held out her hand. “Get away from the glass before you get hurt again.”

She took her hand, using it to pull herself off the floor and walked over to her bedroom. Alex sat down on the edge of the bed as Nicole made her way to the bathroom to get the first aid kit.

“Were you drinking again?” Nicole asked as she sat down next to Alex and took her hand in her’s, cleaning the cuts and making sure there weren’t any bits of glass left in there.

“I think you already know the answer to that.” The brunette sighed. “But I’m not drunk…not really.”

“Not by much, but I wouldn’t say sober either.” She pulled out an antiseptic spray from the first aid kit. “This is going to sting.”

Alex clenched her jaws, not so much as flinching as Nicole sprayed on to her hand. The blonde blew on it gently to help the spray dry against her skin then proceeded to get the bandage. “A lot of small cuts. You probably won’t be using this hand for a couple of days.” Nicole told her as she started wrapping it around Alex’s hand.

“I’m sorry I called you, it’s really late but I just…” She stopped for a moment. “It has been a really long day and I just… I don’t know what to do.”

Nicole nodded, “It’s fine. Like I said, I wasn’t asleep. And even if I was, I wouldn’t mind.”

“I can’t expect you to be there whenever I need you. Especially at ridiculous hours like this.”

Nicole paused suddenly at Alex’s words. “That’s exactly what you can expect.” She told her, tucking in the loose end of the bandage and smoothing it over with her thumb, still holding her hand. “I’m here for you, whenever you need me.”

Alex nodded as Nicole pulled her into a hug. She out a sigh against the blonde’s shoulder as she wrapped her arms around her. It was exactly what she needed after the day she’d had. And there was always something with Nicole that offered so much comfort; no matter the situation, it always helped make her feel better, even if it was just slightly. “Thank you.” Alex whispered against her, burying her face into Nicole’s shoulder, breathing her in.

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