I'll Be Right Behind You

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Chapter 12

Nicole remained seated in her car even after reaching her apartment, letting herself look back on what happened for the first time since she left Alex. She wasn’t too sure how long the drive back was but her mind was too distracted to think about anything other than Alex’s lips on hers. She gave herself a minute of silence before stepping out of the car and making her way to her apartment. As she slid the key into the lock, Ophelia’s phone buzzed in her pocket. She paused, pulling it out only to silence it and shove it back into her pocket. Talking to Alex was the last thing she needed right now.

Taking only a few steps into the apartment, Nicole froze on her spot. Ophelia, Lincoln, Robin and Helios were in the living room watching a movie. They hadn’t planned anything today and Nicole just wanted to drown out what had happened in some terrible reality show.

“Hey…?” She greeted them questioningly as she approached.

“Hey,” Ophelia said with a smile, looking up from the screen as the others let out a chorus of ’hi’s and ’hey’s without so much as looking at her.

“Did we have a movie night planned…?”

“No, no. I’m actually leaving in a few minutes.” Lincoln replied.

“We didn’t really have anything better to do so…” Robin added, motioning towards the TV.

“What are you watching anyways?” Nicole asked, sitting down on the couch next to Ophelia and Lincoln.

Inside Out.” Helios answered.

Nicole’s eyes widened, forgetting for a moment about Alex and their kiss. “Wait, Helios Blake is watching Inside Out?”

He rolled his eyes. “I will admit it’s a good movie…as far as animations go.”

There were only about ten minutes of the movie left and the room fell silent as they all got drawn into it – well, almost all of them. Nicole was the only one not really paying attention. How could she though? The only thing – person – on her mind right now was Alex…and that kiss and how good her lips felt on hers.

“Earth to Nicole.” Ophelia said waving her hand in front of her best friend’s face, voice slightly louder than usual.

Nicole snapped out of her thoughts, noticing the movie was now over. “Hmm?”

“Your phone.” She pointed out and only then did Nicole realize it was ringing once again.

“Right, sorry.” Pulling it out, she silenced it the moment she read the name on the screen, sliding it back into her pocket.

“Is everything okay?” Robin asked as Lincoln and Helios began to get up.

“Yeah, yeah.” Nicole lied. “Just my mom.”

“Oh yeah, O told us about what happened this morning.” Helios told her.

“Of course she did.” The blonde rolled her eyes, smiling nonetheless.

“That must’ve been…awkward.” Lincoln added, walking towards the front door, Ophelia behind him.

“You have no idea.”

“You’re leaving too?” Ophelia asked her brother as Lincoln opened the door.

“I have a shipment coming into The Hourglass early tomorrow. Should get some sleep.” He gave her a smile, stepping outside, with Robin and Nicole saying goodbye from their seat in the living room.

Ophelia kissed her boyfriend goodbye and walked back over to her friends after closing the door. “So…” She started, taking her previous seat on the couch next to Nicole. “How was your date?”

“Yeah…” Robin joined in with a smile.

Nicole rolled her eyes. It was entertaining most of the time her friends brought up Alex but not right now. She didn’t want to talk about how the evening had gone as much as she didn’t want to talk about the two of them having kissed. “It wasn’t a date.”

Her friends rolled their eyes, almost simultaneously, it fascinated Nicole how in sync they could be. “Come on, Nicole, give us something. How’d things go with Alex?”

Nicole shrugged. “I don’t know what you mean but it was just two friends watching a really good movie… That’s about it really.”

“Really?” Ophelia cocked an eyebrow. “Then why didn’t you answer her call?”

“What?” She pretended to not know what her roommate was talking about.

“I was sitting right next to you, the moment you saw her name, you silenced it and put it back in your pocket.”

“So there is something going on between you two…” Robin said, realization dawning on her.

“No. There’s nothing going on.” With that she stood up, walking to her bedroom before they had the chance to say ask more and slamming the door shut behind her.

“Something definitely happened.” Robin told Ophelia.

She nodded grabbing her phone and typing out a text. “I’ll ask Lincoln to give Alex a call. Maybe he can get something out of her.”


“ANSWER GODDAMMIT.” Alex yelled into her phone as the call went to voice mail for the…seventh (?) time that day. She’d driven back to her place after…that thing with Nicole before deciding to call her. Alex was adamant, trying to push the feelings of that kiss out of her head. Trying to block out her feelings was probably a stupid move because she wasn’t even fooling herself with the ’that was just a kiss and didn’t mean anything’. She hadn’t lasted two minutes after reaching her apartment before pulling out her phone and being unable to stop herself from calling Nicole. After a few rings, it went to voicemail and Alex didn’t bother leaving one so she’d hung up. She let it go, thinking it was best to give the blonde some time…only it lasted no more than a few minutes before she called her again…and again and again and again. It had been a few hours since her first call and Alex decided she would stop after this one. It was a little late but obviously Nicole wasn’t asleep.

“Why?” Alex questioned, throwing her head back as she tossed her phone on the coffee table and turned on the TV. She wasn’t questioning why Nicole decided to not answer her phone after wanting to kiss Alex, she was questioning why she had to even cross paths with this gorgeous blonde with the insanely blue eyes who was always on her mind no matter what. As Alex flicked through the channels looking for something half-decent to watch, she couldn’t help but think what was going through Nicole’s mind when they kissed.


Nicole’s phone vibrated against her nightstand one last time before the screen changed back to her lock screen with a notification of a missed call from Alex. It was a little past midnight and she couldn’t help but think what the brunette was doing. She could picture Alex sitting on her couch with the TV on but the volume turned down as she tossed her phone away in frustration. It made her feel bad, to be honest; after all it was her fault. Well…it was Alex who kissed her but she had to be stupid enough and tell her she wanted to kiss her. If you really think about it, Alex was only doing what Nicole wanted. …But she really wishes she hadn’t. Nicole wasn’t ready for a relationship, not after how her last one ended. It was messed up and…well, it messed her up. And Alex deserved better than “messed up from my last relationship”. She’d already been questioning herself about her feelings when it came to the brunette – and doing her best to convince herself that she felt nothing for her other than just a friend – and that kiss didn’t really help.

GET OUT OF MY HEAD! she scolded herself. It was almost impossible to stop thinking about Alex and how that kiss felt – how it made her feel. Nicole wanted to believe that that kiss meant nothing and it was all just the physical act and nothing more, but trying to convince herself of that proved to be more difficult than she’d like.


“I swear to god, Lincoln, something happened yesterday.” Ophelia said into her phone, her voice urgent but quiet enough as to not wake up Nicole.

“I know, Alex was acting weird when I brought up Nicole.” Lincoln said from the other end. “Well, weirder than usual.”

“Did you talk to her?”

“Yeah. And she said the same thing Nicole did,”

Ophelia groaned out loud, they were impossible. “They will be the death of me.”

“We’re not overreacting, are we?” He asked.

“No, no, not at all. Helios and Robin agree with me on this so no, not overreacting.”

Lincoln remained silent, waiting for his girlfriend to continue. Surely there was something on her mind.

“We need to figure out what’s going on.”

“How? Neither of them are willing to talk.” He reminded her.

“I have an idea,” She started before stopping herself. “But I’m going to talk to Robin about it then get back to you…and let Helios know what we’re up to.”

“Morning,” Ophelia heard Nicole say groggily as she walked out of her room.

“I have to go.” She muttered into her phone and hung up.

“Who were you talking to?” Her friend asked, stifling a yawn.

“Just Lincoln.”


“I have a slightly questionable plan to get Alex and Nicole talking again.” Ophelia opened the door to Robin. Nicole wasn’t home, she was meeting up with someone from her class whose name Ophelia always forgot, so they thought this was the safest time to talk about her and Alex without well, getting brutally murdered, probably.

“Hi O, I’m great, thanks for asking.” Robin stepped inside, walking to the living room and sitting down on the couch. “First off, did Lincoln talk to Alex?”

“Yes.” Ophelia sat down next to her friend.

“Figured when you said you had a plan.” Robin nodded. “What did Alex say?”

“Same as Nicole.” She rolled her eyes. “I have a feeling something happened at the movie.”

“Something like what? The sexual tension finally caught up to them?”

“Hell if I know.” Ophelia brushed it off. “So…I was thinking we invite Alex over for a movie…like we do.”

“Tonight?”

“Yeah, why not? It’s Saturday, and last minute plans aren’t unusual for us. Also Lincoln was saying something about her having the weekend off.”

“Okay, go on.”

“And we leave the two of them alone.”

Robin looked at her friend questioningly. “That’s not gonna work. And how are we even supposed to leave them alone if we’re meant to be there?”

Ophelia shrugged, “Come up with excuses and then just leave before they can question it.”

“That’s one of the dumbest ideas you’ve ever had. It’ll never work.” She shook her head. “And Alex’s going to come up with an excuse to leave the moment we are gone. That is if she doesn’t come up with one to not show up at all.”

Ophelia sighed. “But something happened between them and if we don’t do something about it, Nicole will probably never even talk to Alex ever again.”

“I want to say you’re exaggerating about Nicole but you’re not.” Robin frowned. “Did you talk to Helios? He’s usually the Blake with better – more sensible – ideas.”

“Not yet.”


“They’re gonna see each other on Monday morning anyways.” Helios told his sister as he handed a cup of coffee to one of his customers. He had heard his sister’s brilliant plan and disapproved immediately, saying it would be pushing things and that they needed to figure out what was wrong before trying to fix it.

Ophelia only looked at him questioningly while he took another order.

“Murphy, take over.” Helios said over his shoulder to one of his baristas after taking the order. He walked of to the far end of the counter where he knew they wouldn’t be overheard or interrupted, his sister followed. “They both get coffee from here every morning.”

“Oh,” Ophelia seemed a little taken back. “I kinda forgot about that.”

“I know.” He replied, unsurprised. “And even if they don’t talk to each other, I can let you know if they’re acting weird or anything.”

Her face broke into a smile. “You’re willing to spy on them?”

“No.” He deadpanned. “But yes, something probably did happen between them and I want to know what.” Helios stopped before adding quickly, “For Nicole’s sake”

“What if they don’t even show up at the same time?”

“Then you know something’s wrong.” Helios told Ophelia. “They’re never late…or early.”

“You know how Nicole can be.” Ophelia said after a beat of silence, her voice taking on a more serious tone. “And I think Alex’s good for her…I mean, I haven’t seen her actually comfortable around anyone like that for a very long time. But if whatever happened isn’t taken care of soon enough, she’s probably not even going to remember who Alex Woods is.”

“I know.”


Nicole was lying in her bed later that night, her brain exhausted from all the studying. It was weird that she’d actually gotten work done on a Saturday. It wasn’t like her to not waste at least half the day doing nothing but watch whatever was on TV with Ophelia and maybe even Robin before deciding she needed to do something. She figured it would be a good distraction from thinking about Alex. …And it was. But now it was late and Nicole was tired and alone and the only thing on her mind was Alex. She couldn’t help but wonder how the brunette had spent her Saturday because she finally had the weekend off.

Nicole was almost asleep when her door cracked open, letting in a ray of light. “Nicole?” Came Ophelia’s voice.

“I’m asleep, whatever this is can wait until tomorrow.” She told her, her voice muffled by the pillow. “And if this is about Alex again, there’s nothing to talk about.”

“Fine.” Ophelia groaned, closing the door.


“That was so awkward you have no idea.” Murphy told Ophelia from behind Helios as he poured milk into a cup.

Helios turned his head slowly and precisely, giving Murphy a look, which made him shut up and look away. “He’s not wrong.” He turned back to his sister. “They didn’t say a word to each other, hell, Nicole didn’t even look at Alex and she came in right before Nicole did. You could cut the tension in the air with a damn butter knife.”

“What about Alex? Nicole didn’t even look at her but how was she the entire time?” Ophelia asked.

“I wasn’t staring at them, O.” Helios replied. “But if I noticed anything, she seemed a little upset.”

“We need to fix this.”

“What’s there to fix? They’re both grown-ups, I think they can decide for themselves. I may not know what really happened, but if the tension between them is anything to go by, whatever it was, it was big.”


“Nicole, are you sure you’re okay?” Ophelia asked, walking up to her friend who was painting.

Nicole pulled one earbud out, turning away from her canvas to look at her friend, “Did you say something?”

“Are you okay?” She repeated.

“Yeah, why do ask?”

Ophelia didn’t say anything just motioned towards the canvas. “You don’t look too happy.” She couldn’t really put her finger on it but Nicole’s drawings/paintings were different depending on her mood. And there was something about the colors and strokes on the one she was working on right now that yelled at Ophelia that Nicole wasn’t too happy. “Neither do your paintings.”

She looked around at living room, it had been about a week since the kiss, a week since Nicole had last seen Alex, and two days since her last text from her. Even though she was busy, she spent a reasonable amount of time in front of a canvas with paint and a paintbrush. There were two new canvases leaning against the wall amongst her other ones and a third one on the easel; Nicole had to admit, Ophelia was right. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You know damn well what I’m talking about.” She was more frustrated than angry at her best friend. It was very much like her to not talk about things and paint it out instead. But it hasn’t been because of a someone for quite some time. By then Nicole had gone back to her painting. “Nicole!”

“What?” She turned back around.

“What happened with you and Alex?” She tried again.

“I told you, nothing happened.” Nicole was just about to put her earbud back in and try to ignore her roommate when she spoke.

“Really? Because she was at Grounder’s last night and you wouldn’t so much as look at her in the eye. And Alex didn’t even say hi.” She reminded her friend. “But she was fine with the rest of us. And Helios noticed you two at The Hourglass.”

“Oh my god.” She groaned, rolling her eyes. “Let it go. It was nothing.”


“What happened between you and Nicole?” Lincoln asked Alex taking a seat in their usual booth at Grounder’s. It was just the two of them, mostly because Lincoln wanted to talk to her – he was a little concerned because Alex seemed almost happy with Nicole around and whatever caused them to not even talk to each other anymore was having an affect on her.

It had been over a week since they kissed. Two days since Alex stopped trying to call Nicole. She wasn’t returning any of her texts or calls or voice messages. Nicole’s friends still probably had no idea what had happened. Alex figured, if they did, they wouldn’t be as silent as they are. Lincoln on the other hand has been really persistent. Ophelia and Robin had asked her about it a couple of times, even Helios had asked her one morning if everything was alright. She couldn’t really stop thinking about the blonde but it was very clear that Nicole didn’t want to talk to Alex. If anything, it hurt, maybe more because the small voice in her head had told her over and over again to be careful with her emotions and not develop any for the blonde. Alex didn’t really know what to expect after kissing her but this was certainly not it. “Nothing.” She gave Lincoln the same answer yet again.

“I don’t believe you. And I can see that you’re upset. You’re never upset over someone so something must’ve happened.” He pushed on.

Alex let out a deep sigh, “If you tell anyone, Lincoln, I swear to god my precinct’s going to be investigating your murder tomorrow morning.” She waited a moment, for him to nod before continuing. “We kissed.” She whispered, her voice almost drowned out by the background noises. “I kissed her.”

“YOU WHAT?” Lincoln exclaimed, trying to keep his voice down, but failing.

“We were walking out of the theater and she was holding my hand.” Lincoln seemed to be more shocked by the fact that they were holding hands than by the fact that they kissed. “And I was standing against my car, Nicole was a bit too close and she goes “I wish I could kiss you right now.” So I asked her what was stopping her…she didn’t give me a straight answer so…I went for it.”

“Oh god.” Lincoln ran his hand down his face, realization hitting him

“Then she ran off. I tried calling, texting, voice messages…she hasn’t replied.”

He let a beat of silence pass before speaking. “You care about her, don’t you?”

“It was just a kiss, it didn’t mean anything.” Alex wasn’t sure whether she was trying to convince Lincoln or herself at this point. “When does it ever with me?”

“Whatever you say.” He knew her better than that. If it didn’t mean anything, Alex wouldn’t have tried to reach her for a whole week. Hell, she wouldn’t even think about it the next morning. “But I will tell you this, try telling her how you really feel. You never know, she might feel the same way.” With that he stood up, leaving enough cash on the table to cover his drink and a tip.

Lincoln

8:58pm

THEY KISSED.

Ophelia’s phone buzzed next to her as she sat next to Robin watching We Bare Bears on Cartoon Network. Nicole was sitting on the floor, her back against the couch. Picking up her phone, Ophelia unlocked it without so much as looking away from the TV screen.

“They’re so adorable.” She heard Robin say about the bears. That was probably the sole reason behind them watching the show.

“Yeah.” Nicole agreed.

Ophelia’s eyes widened as she read the text. Nudging at her friend next to her, she held up the phone for her to read to text. Robin’s eyes widened, mirroring Ophelia’s as she mouthed an ’oh my god’.

“Hey Nicole?” Ophelia called her, almost too casually as she tried her best to not sound as excited as she was.

“Wha-at?” She replied in a sing-song tone eyes still on the tv screen, knowing very well her friend wanted to ask her something.

“Why didn’t you tell us you and Alex kissed?” She asked casually, Robin sitting silent next to her.

Nicole turned her head around the moment the question left her friend’s mouth, “What?” When the two of them didn’t respond, only looking at her expecting her to elaborate, she continued, “What are you talking about?”

“You two kissed. Why didn’t you tell us?” Robin asked.

Nicole seemed taken back. She was very sure she hadn’t said a word about it to anyone and it was unlikely for Alex to have said anything either. “How did you know?”

“We have our ways.” Ophelia brushed it off. “So what happened? And why did that cause you two to suddenly act so weird around each other? ...Shouldn’t it have done the opposite?”

Nicole turned back to the tv, not wanting to talk about it and hoping that her friends will let it go if she ignores them long enough.

“Not working this time, Griffin.” She heard Robin say as the screen went black.

“I was watching that!” She complained.

“Spill.” Ophelia tried to get her to talk. The two of them were curious as to what had led to Nicole and Alex kissing and wanted to know every detail but more than that, they were concerned about their friends. “How did that even happen?”

A few moments passed before Nicole finally turned around to face her friends with a sigh, finally giving in. “We were walking into the parking lot and…we were holding hands.”

“You were what?!” her friends exclaimed in unison.

Nicole chose not to listen to them, “And we made it up to her car when I don’t know what came over me and I blurted out that I wanted to kiss her.”

“Oh my god.” Ophelia muttered under her breath.

“And then she kissed me.” She finished. But Robin and Ophelia kept staring at her, hoping for more, “That’s it.”

“But then why aren’t the two of you talking?” Robin reminded her of the point of this conversation.

“I ran out on her.” She muttered very quickly under her breath.

“Why would you do that?” Ophelia raised her voice in surprise. “Why would you run out when someone like Alex kisses you?”

“Just let it go, okay?” There was a hint of desperation in her voice when she finally spoke again. “And turn the tv back on.” She said to Robin as she turned back around.


“I think we should just give them some space.” Ophelia said to Robin after Nicole’s bedroom door closed.

“What?” Robin dragged out the word, not really believing that the Ophelia Blake actually wanted to back away from her best friend’s personal life.

“Nicole really likes her, there’s not doubt about that.” She continued. “But I think that’s why we should take a step back, let them work this out. And if by the end of the month they don’t, we’ll think of something.”


Alex looked at phone’s screen once again, reading over the text she’d just typed out. There was no way she planned on sending it, but writing it out felt nice. As she downed her second shot of vodka, Lincoln’s words echoed in her ears. And without thinking over it another moment, Alex’s thumb pressed the send button before she could stop herself, regretting the decision immediately.

Nicole lay in her bed, unable to fall asleep. It was Friday – well already Saturday considering it was a little past 1am – so it didn’t really matter as she could sleep in. The last thing on her mind right now was sleep. She couldn’t stop thinking about Alex, maybe a little more tonight after finally having told someone about their kiss. She turned on her side, trying to push the thoughts out of her head when her phone lit up with a text. Without thinking whom it might be from, Nicole grabbed it and unlocked the screen. Reading the name, she was taken aback when she saw it was from Alex, she was almost certain that after a week of not replying, Alex would get annoyed and stop.

Alex

1:07am

Please stop ignoring me. I’ve sent you countless text, left you more than a handful of voicemails and called you more times than I’m willing to admit. So please don’t ignore this one. I’m sorry about what I did, I shouldn’t have kissed you, I should’ve realized you didn’t want me to. …But I miss spending time with you. eSt and...wakkingthat they were concer geravd as exciadmit, Octavia eS eSt and...wakkingthat they were concer geravd as exciadmit, Octavia eS eSt and...wakkingthat they were concer geravd as exciadmit, Octavia eSI miss seeing you almost every morning at The Hourglass. I miss our late nights watching episodes. I miss being able to call you at night when I couldn’t fall asleep. I miss us falling asleep together. I miss you, Nicole.

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