I'll Be Right Behind You

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Chapter 17

Ophelia groaned, “If you two don’t stop, I’m going to be sick.”

Ophelia, Robin, Nicole and Alex were all at Helios’s place, Lincoln was supposed to join them too but got caught up with work. It was nicer than his last place to say the least; a two-bedroom apartment on the top floor. They were sitting on the roof, Helios only a few feet away from the girls, at the barbeque. The weather was almost perfect today, maybe a little warm but being up this high made it windy. Nicole and Alex were sitting across from Ophelia and Robin; Alex’s arm around Nicole and only a moment ago, her lips on Nicole’s as well. They pulled apart for only a moment, Nicole’s head turning to look at her friends and saying, “Try and stop us.” before she went back to kissing her girlfriend.

“You two make me sick.” Robin chimed in, jokingly as Ophelia made gagging noises.

Nicole held up her free hand, giving them the finger as she kissed Alex harder. After finally pulling apart, Alex turned to the two of them, “It is kind of your fault.”

Nicole only nodded, “Yep,”

“Yeah but we didn’t think you two would get all lovey-dovey and disgusting.” Ophelia added.

“I’m going to get a drink,” Alex said, beginning to stand up. “Do you want one?” Nicole nodded as she walked away, staring for a moment. Summer is great, Nicole found herself thinking something she never thought she would. Alex was wearing a loose tank top which not only showed off her perfectly toned arms and the extraordinary tattoo but it also gave a peek at the one on her back.

“Stop staring.” Robin nudged at her, bringing her out of her thoughts.

“But I don’t want to.” Nicole whined, finally tearing her eyes away from her girlfriend.

“Ready to go?” Nicole asked, walking up to Alex’s desk.

A smile broke out on her face as Alex looked up from the paper she was writing in, recognizing the voice. “What are you doing here?”

“Well,” Nicole sat down on the chair next to her girlfriend’s desk. “I got a call from your partner, telling me you got a mild concussion and shouldn’t be driving.”

“She called you?” Alex asked, surprised and a little disappointed.

Nicole nodded just as Alex’s partner walked up to them with a cup of coffee.

“You called her?” Alex asked.

Caris only nodded.

Nicole introduced herself to Caris, they hadn’t met until now, so it was a surprise for when she got the call. Nicole was a little worried but Caris assured her Alex was fine but could use a ride back home.

“What happened this time?” Nicole asked knowingly as Alex began putting away her papers.

“I hit my head.”

“She got punched by a suspect twice her size, knocking her out because Detective Woods here doesn’t wait for back-up.” Her partner added.

“Right,” Nicole nodded before turning back to Alex. “That explains the bruise.”

“Let’s just go.” Alex said with a small smile, standing up and pulling on her jacket.

Nicole followed, saying good night to Caris before walking out with Alex.

“I’ll get you some ice for that.” Nicole shook her head, walking to the kitchen as Alex took a seat on the couch. The apartment was empty, With Ophelia and Lincoln out of town; Nicole knew the apartment would be empty for the week.

“I’m fine.” Alex called out from the living room.

“Uh huh.” Nicole disregarded her and walked back to the couch with an ice pack. “Come here, let’s take a look at that.” She touched Alex’s face, causing her to flinch, her jaw was already starting to bruise. “Did you get yourself checked out?” Nicole asked, placing the ice against her face and using her other hand to bring up Alex’s hand to hold it.

“Yeah,” Alex leaned back against the couch, her eyes closing. “I’m fine. Really.”

“A mild concussion doesn’t really say ‘I’m fine’.” Nicole turned on her side, leaning back to look at Alex with a worried expression, her tone now more concerned. “You need to be more careful.” She said softly.

“No promises.” Alex told her. “You know me.”

“That’s what worries me.” Nicole sighed.

“So where are you going?” Ophelia asked as she crossed her legs on her friend’s bed.

“I don’t know.” Nicole replied mindlessly, looking through her closet. She let a few moments pass before turning around to face Ophelia. “What am I supposed to wear if I don’t know where we’re going?”

“Good point,” She commented. “Alex didn’t say anything about where she was taking you?”

Nicole only shook her head slowly, “Nope.”

“Alright,” Ophelia hopped off the bed, walking up to her best friend. “Well you don’t want to be overdressed…or under.” She looked into the closet and Nicole took a step back. “I can’t believe it’s been a year you two’ve been together.” She said without looking at her friend.

“I know right.” Nicole sighed, a small smile playing on her lips.

“Here,” Ophelia turned to her after a moment and handed her a white top. “And this,” She handed her a black leather jacket. “I’d say wear it with jeans, dark, and…heals, also dark.” Ophelia smiled.


Alex arrived about an hour later, just as Nicole walked out of her room. Before she could answer the door, Ophelia practically ran up to it.

“So…” Alex said once they’re plates had been cleared. Nicole picked up her glass of wine, taking a small sip and waiting for Alex to continue. “I’ve been meaning to give you something,” She reached into her pocket, pulling out something discretely. She placed it softly on the table and slid it across to Nicole.

Nicole looked down at the key questioningly; as far as she could tell, it looked like an ordinary key. “What’s this?”

“I figured,” Alex started. “You already have the key to my heart, so you might as well have the key to my…” She stopped, correcting herself. “Our apartment.”

“I already do.” Nicole replied with a small smile before registering what Alex had just said. “Wait…” Her smile disappeared as realization hit her. “Our?”

Alex’s smile widened. “Move in with me.” She said softly.

She looked over at the blonde sleeping next to her. Her back facing Alex and her hair splayed out onto the pillow next to her. The steady breathing meant Nicole was asleep and Alex couldn’t take her eyes off of her. They both seemed to finally catch a break. She doesn’t remember the last time she felt like this around someone, for someone. Neither does Nicole; hell, Nicole doesn’t remember the last time she thought she’d let herself feel this way for someone again.

Gently moving the hair out of her face, Alex placed a small kiss on her cheek. “I love you.” She said softly, not wanting to wake up Nicole.

A few moments passed before Alex laid back down on her side. “I love you too,” Came Nicole’s response.

Alex only smiled, letting the silence fill the air around them as she wrapped her arm around Nicole.

“SHE DIDN’T!” Robin exclaimed the next morning when Nicole told them about the previous night.

“She did.” Nicole nodded calmly, doing her best to contain the excitement.

“You said ’yes’ right?” Ophelia asked.

It was a little past noon and the three of them were sitting in the Robin’s kitchen. Nicole had obviously spent the night with Alex and left a little after Alex got called in for work. Ophelia was already here when Nicole arrived.

“I did.” Nicole smiled, unable to hold it back any longer.

Ophelia let out a squee, rushing over to hug her friend. “Oh my god, that’s so great.”

“Real talk though.” Robin interrupted after a moment. “We’re really happy for you Nicole. Alex seems like an amazing person and we really like seeing you happy.”

“Thanks.” Nicole smiled. “She is amazing, and I’m lucky to have her.”

“She’s lucky to have you.” Ophelia corrected. “We haven’t seen you like this in a while so it’s nice. And I don’t know what Alex’s doing, but I hope she keeps doing it.”

Unpacking her things was a lot more work than packing. Almost half of Nicole’s clothes were already at Alex’s place. And it didn’t take them too long to have the remaining things in boxes. Rearranging around their apartment took most of the day, moving things, finding room for Nicole’s things…It wasn’t only Alex’s apartment now and by the second day, it was very clear. The apartment was mostly barren before; no pictures on the walls, not much decoration around the place, nothing personal anywhere other than in Alex’s bedroom. Other than a couple of pictures, you’d think no one even lived there. Once they’d started dating though, things started to change; little bits and pieces of Nicole found their way to the apartment, a couple of pictures of her and Alex, even Nicole’s notebooks and papers managed to find their way there… It was even more different now. A couple of Nicole’s paintings hung on the wall – Alex’s decision not Nicole’s, they were always stacked up against the wall before and Nicole wasn’t too sure – there were a couple of framed pictures around the place – of Nicole with her friends. Her painting easel was on the far end of the living room, along with her paints and brushes.

“Have I taken over?” Nicole asked, looking around the place, they were finally done and had just sat down in front of the TV with a box of pizza.

“Not at all.” Alex replied, looking around. “I like it. It feels…” She paused, trying to find the right words. “…more personal.” She looked back at Nicole. “Like someone actually lives here.” Alex joked, remembering back to how a little after they’d met, Nicole had told her it was hard to believe that someone actually lived here.

They went back to watching TV, there was a rerun of this crime show they’d recently caught up to, Castle, and the episode was definitely worth rewatching. It was a happy ending, for a change, Nicole thought, the two leads had been breaking their hearts for the first four seasons and now again for the last few episodes, it was frustrating to say the least. So it was nice watching the episode where they finally made up again.

“Hey,” Nicole turned to look at Alex as the credits rolled.

“Hmm?” She hummed in response.

“I love you.” Nicole said simply.

A smile broke out on Alex’s face involuntarily. “I love you too.”

“Ugh,” Alex groaned as her phone rang on the nightstand. She’d had a long night at the precinct and gotten home around 2am. Alex had thought Nicole would already be asleep but walking in through the door, she saw the light in the study turned on. Walking in, she found her girlfriend sitting on the floor, earphones plugged in and surrounded by numerous papers scattered all over the floor. There was a perfectly usable desk right there but Alex decided not to question it.

She silenced the phone as she picked it up, looking over at Nicole to make sure she hadn’t woken up. Although Alex had gotten home late, she’d gone to bed before Nicole. Apparently there was a paper due today which she hadn’t finished. Alex looked at the caller as she walked out of the room, pulling the door closed behind her. “Who is this?” She answered, looking down at the watch on her wrist, 6:58am. Nicole didn’t need to be up for another hour but she’d be up in a few minutes when she’d notice Alex was gone.

“AAlexndria Woods?” Asked a woman from the other side.

“Yes,” Alex nodded to herself before repeating. “And who is this?”

She heard a sharp intake of breath. “It’s your mom.”

Alex’s not sure how many thoughts crossed her mind at that moment, confusion, disbelieve and anger were definitely some of them. “What?” She managed to ask.

“It’s your mom.” The voice repeated.

“I don’t have time for this.” She muttered, about to hang up.

“Alex, wait, don’t hang up.”

She remained quiet for a moment. Alex sat down on the couch before speaking again. “Give me one good reason.” She said calmly.

“Your dad’s dying.”

“So?” Alex responded, not missing a beat. “Is that supposed to mean something to me?”

“He wants to see you.”

She scoffed. “I highly doubt that.”

“Don’t be like that, please.” Her mom paused. “He only has a few more days at best. Please, he’s sorry for what he did and he really does want to see you.”

“Well…” Alex let a moment pass. “I don’t want to see him.”

A few minutes later, she had no choice but to give in. Mostly because she just wanted her mom to stop talking. “Fine. I’ll think about it.” She tossed the phone on the coffee table in frustration, causing it to hit the table with a clang just as Nicole walked out of the room.

“What’s wrong?” She asked, walking up to Alex.

“Huh?” Alex turned around to look at her, momentarily taken aback. “Oh, it was nothing.” She shook her head, dismissing it.

Nicole sat down next to her. “I know when you’re not telling me something.” She tried gently.

Alex remained silent, Nicole not saying anything. She knew the best way to get Alex to talk was to not push.

And eventually it worked; she let out a sigh before finally speaking, not looking at Nicole. “It was my mom.”

Nicole did her best to not show her surprise. “What?”

Alex only nodded.

“What did she want?”

“My dad’s dying and apparently he wants to see me before that.”

“You don’t think he does?”

Alex scoffed. “The last time I saw him, he said he wanted nothing to do with me and that he never wanted to see me again…so I highly doubt he wants to see me in his last few days.”

Nicole nodded slowly before asking. “What about you?”

Alex looked at her questioningly, waiting for her to elaborate.

“Do you want to see him?”

“No,” She replied. “I don’t want to see him…or my mom.”

Alex thought about it all morning; she’d zoned out Nicole more than half the time, which she felt bad about. They both left the apartment together, walking down to their cars.

“Hey,” Alex called out as Nicole began to walk away to her car. “I’m sorry.”

“About what?” Nicole asked.

“I’ve been out of it all morning and…”

“It’s fine,” Nicole gave her a small smile. “So what are you thinking?”

Alex let out a deep breath, “I think I might go…if I get out of work a little early. But I’m not too sure.”

Nicole nodded slowly. “I can go with you…if you want. Even if it’s just to wait in the car.”

“Well that went terribly.” Nicole said as the two of them walked out Alex’s parents’ house.

Alex was almost physically fuming and Nicole couldn’t really do anything to calm her down. “That’s an understatement.” She rolled her eyes, getting into the car.

Nicole sat down in the driver’s seat and looked over at Alex before closing her door.

“Let’s just go.”

Alex didn’t really want to talk about it and since Nicole was already there through it all, she didn’t really need to. It’s suffice to say her dad didn’t want to see her and that it was only her mom’s way of getting her to see him one last time. If anything, seeing Alex only made him more upset. And maybe bringing Nicole along wasn’t the greatest thing but at the same time, she’s probably what stopped her from killing anyone, probably. Her mom wasn’t too happy to find out who the blonde was but Nicole didn’t mind their reaction. She was there for Alex and to stop things from getting too bad. Which is exactly what she did.

“I’m still not enough…” Alex muttered after they got home. She hadn’t spoken at all the entire drive back. She’d walked straight through the living room and to the balcony. Nicole knew that’s where she liked to go every time something was bothering her and Alex needed to clear her mind. Wordlessly, Nicole followed. “Never enough.” She sighed, leaning against the railing.

“Don’t say that.” Nicole told her, her tone serious, waiting for Alex to look at her. “Don’t you dare say that.” She placed a hand on her arm.

Alex clenched her jaws, holding back tears, not wanting to look at Nicole.

“Hey,” She tried again. “Alex…”

Alex suddenly cleared her throat, “I’m going to get something to drink.” She stepped back, walking back into the living room.

“For the love of god.” Nicole breathed out, remaining in her spot.

Alex returned a few minutes later with two bottles of beer in her hand. She seemed more composed as she stepped outside again and handed one of the bottles to Nicole.

“You try to blow me off again I swear to god…” Nicole started sternly when she noticed Alex had composed herself.

She shook here head, taking a swig from the bottle. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to, I just…I don’t know Nicole.” She sighed looking at her. “I was fine till I had to see them again.”

Nicole placed a comforting hand on her back.

“They pick at everything; my job, my life, who I date…me. Nothing’s ever enough and I’m just sick of feeling like I’m not.” Her voiced started to crack and Alex looked away from Nicole, the wind blowing her hair on to her face, not letting Nicole see the tears. “I’m not good enough, I get it. I don’t need to reminded again and again.” She brought a hand up to her face, brushing the hair away.

“You are more than just enough.” Nicole tried slowly, swallowing a lump in her throat. She couldn’t stand Alex talking about herself like that. She was everything she could ask for and it was sad how Alex didn’t see that; only seeing her faults and invalidating her feelings. “You are to me.” She paused. “You are sweet and amazing and a lot of other good things that no one tells you.” Nicole paused again. “But I do, and you never listen.”

Alex scoffed.

“Case in point.” She pointed out. “I know it’s not easy to let go of something you’ve been hearing for so long, even if it’s not true. So I’ll say it again. And again. And again. Until you believe me. You’re everything and you’re enough. You care a lot about things you could let go without being questioned on, that’s what makes you such a good detective. You’re hardworking, god knows I wouldn’t give up my weekends and holidays chasing killers. And I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else in this moment. I feel safe around you, Lex, I haven’t been able to say that in a very long time. You are more than just good enough; you’re a lot more than anything I could ask for. You’re this amazing person who I fell in love with and wouldn’t change anything about.”

She turned to look at Nicole, her back now against the railing. Alex bit her lower lip, holding back the tears. “What did I do to deserve you?” She choked out.

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