I'll Be Right Behind You

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Chapter 2

“My best friend, Reyna, got it for me as a joke.” Alex explained her boner donor t-shirt to Nicole.

“Lincoln’s sister?” Nicole asked.

Alex nodded as the others joined them.

The first thing Alex noticed upon entering Nicole and Ophelia’s apartment was that there was already someone there.

“Bell, I’m so sorry about today.” Ophelia said as she rushed over to the figure sitting on the living room carpet in front of the TV.

Alex thought it was safe to assume that it was her brother, Helios who stood up trying to look at his sister disapprovingly, but failed. Instead he gave her a genuine smile, “Don’t worry about it. But I don’t think Nicole and Robin were too happy about it.” He looked up at the other two girls when he noticed Alex for the first time. “Hi,” Bell gave her smile, which even Alex had to admit was pretty charming – if she was into that.

She smiled back, “Hey,”

“I don’t think we’ve met.” He pointed out, taking a step towards her.

Alex knew all too well what that meant and opened her mouth to say something when Robin spoke, “Don’t even.” Well it was more of a warning.

Nicole rolled her eyes. Even if Robin told him why not, it was very unlikely that Helios would go along with that ridiculous plan of hers…then again, Lincoln did, and that was very unexpected.

“And why not?” He challenged as he turned to look at Robin.

“I umm,” Alex jumped in before Robin could say anything. “How do I put this…I-” Cut off by Robin. Again, awesome.

“She’s Nicole’s.”

Nicole let out a raspy “Whaaaa…?” as her eyes comically widened. “I am so sorry.” She turned quickly to Alex before going back to Robin. “Stop. PLEASE.”

Robin sighed and decided to let it go for now. Turning to Helios, she asked “So Fury?”

His face lit up, “Yep.” And motioned towards the TV as he walked back to where he had been sitting. The others followed – minus Nicole, who walked towards the kitchen – and sat down.

“Okay, what did you two do this time?” She heard him ask as they walked away.

Alex, instead of following everyone else, followed Nicole. “Are you alright?” she’s not really sure why she thought she needed to ask that.

“I’m really sorry, Robin’s awesome…most of the time. Tonight…” Nicole apologized, trying to find the right words but soon gave up. “…it’s just not my night.”

Alex shrugged it off, “Don’t worry about it.”

“I’m used to it; its kinda entertaining most of the time,” Nicole went on as she opened the refrigerator and pulled out two bottles of beer, holding on up to Alex who muttered a small thanks, taking the bottle before Nicole continued, “I just don’t want her to make you uncomfortable.”

Alex gave her another small smile, “I’m fine. Really.”

With that, the two of them walked over to the living room where everyone else was already seated. Helios and Robin on floor, their backs against either ends of the couch Lincoln and Ophelia were sitting on. There was enough space between them and Nicole decided to sit down next to Helios, leaving Alex no choice but to sit between Nicole – which she didn’t mind – and Robin – which she didn’t mind either, she just didn’t want the blonde to have to suffer anymore for her sake.

“Sorry we started without you, Princess.” Helios said to Nicole as they sat down. “But I know you guys watched it,” he looked around “Minus Lincoln.”

“It’s an awesome movie, Bell, we don’t mind.” Ophelia replied.

“You didn’t get us one?” Robin asked, motioning towards the bottle in Nicole’s hand.

“That’s what you get for pulling what you pulled tonight.” Nicole said with a “polite” smile.

Alex was actually glad she was sitting between Robin and Nicole, it was going to be an entertaining night.

“So you’re all suffering because of Robin?” Helios asked, his eyes still glued to the TV screen.

“And Lincoln.” Alex added.

Nicole looked around at the others, mock annoyance, “At least someone’s taking my side.” Helios gave a half smile and nodded.

Robin spoke, “Ophelia’s as much to blame as the two of us.”

O just shrugged and responded calmly yet defensively, “I just stood there really.”

“I’ll get it.” Lincoln said as he began to get up.

“Last two bottles,” Nicole tilted her head back to look up at him as she held out her bottle.

Alex bit her lower lip, restraining herself from laughing as everyone around them let out a chorus of ’OHHH’s.

“That’s low, Griffin. Even for you.” Robin said but immediately looked over at Helios who somehow had a bottle in his hand. “Seriously dude?”

“Well you guys did keep me waiting.” He smiled. “Also, you guys shouldn’t have done what you did.”

“This is why I love you, Bell.” Nicole said, placing her head on his shoulder for a split second before turning to Alex and saying in a quiet voice, “He’s the better Blake.”

“Shut up, you love me.” Ophelia interjected.

Before Nicole could respond, there was a knock on the door. “I got it.” Helios stood up and went to answer it.

Nicole reached for the remote and paused it. “This is usually how movie nights go.” She told Alex. “We don’t really watch the first half of the movie.”

Alex only nodded as Casper and Martin walked up.

“Look who finally decided to show up for once.” Ophelia said with a smile.

“And we brought pizza and beer.” Martin set them down on the coffee table as Robin reached for a bottle. She opened it and took a sip before handing a couple to Ophelia, for herself and Lincoln – who refused saying he was driving back. Alex hadn’t thought of that but figured one beer wouldn’t make a difference.

Helios sat back down, clicked play and leaned into Nicole’s ear, “There’re more bottles in there, right?”

Nicole gave a small nod. Both her and Helios went unnoticed by everyone other than Alex – who caught herself paying a bit too much attention to the blonde sitting (almost too close) next to her – which Nicole realized. “I’m not a terrible person, I swear,” She told the brunette.

“I guess it was justified.”

Nicole gave her a nod, “Thank you.”

“Oh!” Nicole suddenly said as Casper and Martin sat down, Martin on the floor by Robin and Casper on the couch. “Alex, this is Casper,” She said motioning towards the one with the messy hair and glasses. “And this is Martin.” She nodded towards his friend.

Martin gave a smile accompanied by a small wave. Alex gave them both a quiet hi. Casper however seemed to be staring.

After a couple of seconds, Helios waved his hand in front of Casper, “Earth to Casper.” He said raising his voice a bit. “Stop staring.”

“Hi.” He finally said with a lopsided grin, which Alex – and everyone else in the room – knew all too well.

She tried, she really did, but couldn’t stop herself from rolling her eyes. “Sorry,” she started. “I don’t…”

“She’s wit-” Robin was shut down as fast as she started.

“DON’T EVEN.” Nicole stopped her.

“I’m not into guys.” Alex told him with a forced smile.

“Oh,” He looked like someone had kicked his puppy, making Alex feel guilty.

Nicole, apparently noticed and leaned towards her, “He’s fine, give him a couple of minutes and this never even happened.”

For the next 15 minutes or so, it was quiet. Everyone was pretty drawn into the movie. But for some reason, Alex found it very hard to pay attention to anything but Nicole Griffin. There was just something about her that Alex couldn’t quite put her finger on. Her eyes were insanely blue and her hair a striking blonde, but that wasn’t it; there was something mor– Her phone vibrating in her pocket interrupted her train of thought. Alex scanned her eyes over the text.

Lincoln

9:08PM

You could just ask her out.

Her head shot up, turning around abruptly to look behind her. Nicole and Robin seemed a little taken back by the sudden movement, Robin almost getting whipped in the face by Alex’s hair.

Alex opened her mouth to say something only to realize Lincoln’s eyes were still glued to the TV – and genuinely watching the movie – there’s no way he sent that text a second ago. Ophelia on the hand…

“O what are you up to?” Nicole asked, noticing the way Alex was looking at her.

“What do you mean what am I up to?” She asked in return innocently. Nicole had to admit, it was pretty convincing.

Nicole opened her mouth but didn’t really know what had happened. She tilted her head slightly towards Alex and asked quickly in a small voice, “What is she up to?”

Alex let out a small puff of laugh, her features softening as she just handed her phone. It took Nicole maybe a second to read the text before she rolled her eyes. “I’m not even gonna tell you off this time.” She told Ophelia, shaking her head. “There’s literally no point.” Nicole shrugged and turned back around.

“I’m sorry.” Nicole apologized to Alex yet again for her friends.

“Don’t worry about it.” Alex shrugged it off. “Are they like this all the time?” She lowered her voice as everyone other than the two of them were very much into the movie.

“You mean are they like this every time literally anyone that’s single and attractive show up?” She paused just long enough for Alex to nod before continuing, “Yeah. Yeah, they’re like this all the time.” Oh my god, did I just call her attractive? To her face? What happened to playing it cool?

It took a moment for Alex to realize that Nicole may have just called her attractive. Realizing she was probably reading too much into it, Alex tried to go back to the movie.

Everything went quiet once again. Only this time it lasted till the end of the movie. “That was amazing.” Helios said as the credits rolled on the screen.

“Awesome.” Lincoln added.

“Now I have to watch the beginning again. I didn’t think it’d be that good.” Casper commented.

“Wow it’s getting late.” Lincoln said looking down at his watch causing everyone else to either look at their phone screens or their watches, which read 11:04pm. “We should get going.” He gestured towards Alex who only nodded and they both stand up.

“Us too.” Martin spoke up.

“Aww come on, its Friday night.” Ophelia whined. “Its not that late.”

“I have work to catch up on.” Martin adds.

“Which means I do too.” Robin sighs, standing up.

“You guys work together?” Alex asked. She wasn’t really sure what was making her actually ask stuff tonight. In most social situations like this one, Alex was almost completely invisible; and she liked it that way, not having to talk to anyone, no one talking to her, almost no interaction whatsoever. But there was just something about not only Nicole but also the others that kind of put her at ease – even Robin. They felt like nice bunch and Alex didn’t usually get that feeling from too many people.

“Yep,” Robin nodded. “Mechanical engineering,” she pointed her thumb at herself. “Computer/tech stuff.” She added pointing at Martin as though that was the actual name of his department.

Alex nodded in acknowledgement.

“Thanks for coming over tonight.” Nicole told Alex. “I’m sorry again for Ophelia and Robin but there’s not really much I can do that will stop them.” She added with a shrug.

“I didn’t mind.” Alex replied with a half smile. “Not really. I actually had a good time.”

“I’ll see you guys later.” Robin said, walking to the door. “Probably tomorrow.” She turned to look at Ophelia and Nicole. The three of them rarely ever went over 24 hours without seeing each other. If you said that to someone who didn’t know them, it would probably be weird; but if you ask, say Helios, he’d say the weirdest thing was probably seeing one of them without the other.

“Do you need a ride?” Lincoln asked.

“Thanks but I just live across the street.” The fact that Robin ended up living across the street from O and Nicole was purely coincidental. It wasn’t because they were incapable of being too far away from each other. “The three of us,” She motioned towards O, Nicole and herself, “Need to be within like 3000 feet of one another.” Robin told Alex and Lincoln seriously who muttered okays and nodded.

“Or there’s a possibility everyone around them will spontaneously combust. Especially if its just one of them and neither of the others are there to calm them down when something’s wrong.” Helios added.

“It’s true.” Ophelia commented.

“Oh by the way,” Helios looked between his sister and Nicole. “Can I crash on your couch, my place is still a mess.”

“Yeah sure.” Ophelia and Nicole said in unison. It wasn’t unusual for Helios to stay the night when he came over to their place at night. It was either because he was too tired or too drunk to go back. And the girls didn’t mind…unless either of them had company.

Alex is the last one to exit the apartment. Nicole walks up to the door with her and they both notice Ophelia is…busy down the hall with Lincoln and Robin’s not even on the same floor. “So…” Nicole starts once she’s sure neither of her friends are around. “Can we maybe swap phone numbers?” She hesitates before quickly adding, “So we could…I don’t know, talk or maybe hangout?” God, this is awkward. How do I not sound pathetic? “You seem nice and I know you’re not a serial killer.” That was WORSE. “I mean like hangout but not like a date ’cause I know you’re not into that.” By then, she was rambling. “I’m gonna stop now and pretend I knew what I was talking about.” She forced a smile.

Alex was listening to her ramble on with an amused smile on her face. “Yeah sure.” She kind of regretted telling her she didn’t date. But on the other hand, Alex’s not sure she’d be willing to date anyone even if it was someone like Nicole.

She hands Nicole her phone and Nicole does the same. As she types in her number, Alex speaks “I would’ve asked you for your number sooner but I thought Lincoln, Ophelia and Robin wouldn’t let that go. It would probably encourage them.”

Returning Alex her phone, Nicole replied, “Smart call.”

“I’ll see you later,” Alex said stepping out. “I guess.” And added quickly as Nicole was about to close the door.

“I’m counting on it.” The blonde flashed her a smile as she closed the door.

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