“Hey Nic-” Ophelia burst into the room a second later only to stop abruptly at the door.
Nicole and Alex pulled their hands away, sitting up straight in a flash.
“Okay…sorry I interrupted.” She suppresses her smile and backs out the door, closing it behind her before Nicole or Alex can say anything.
“Shit.” The blonde mutters under her breath as the door closes with a quiet click.
“I should go.” Alex turns her head to look at Nicole and stands up, grabbing her bag.
Cursing at Ophelia in her mind, the blonde follows Alex out of her room.
“Oh hey,” Ophelia stops them as they enter the living room. “I didn’t mean to interrupt, you don’t have to leave.”
“You didn’t interrupt anything.” Nicole tells her friend, trying to convince herself.
“Yeah,” Alex nods. “And I have work in the morning.”
“Didn’t interrupt anything, are you su-” Ophelia shakes her head with a sigh, stopping herself mid-sentence. “You two have proved to be impossible so I won’t even bother this time.” She told her roommate and Alex with a forced smile, walking back over to the couch.
Alex had gotten accustomed to Robin and Ophelia being hell bent on getting her and Nicole together. Lincoln had given up after a week and according to the blonde, Helios was in agreement with his sister and Robin but didn’t really say anything when she was around. Reyna was very much the same, without Nicole around, she was as bad as Robin and Ophelia but around her, it’s like she didn’t even know what Nicole’s friends were talking about.
But today felt…different. She didn’t interrupt anything really…did she? Alex and Nicole both had the same thought running through their heads but couldn’t find it in them to voice it. The brunette forced the little voice in her head to shut up and stop scolding her for holding Nicole’s hand; and Nicole just chose to completely ignore it.
“I’ll see you later…?” Alex didn’t mean to, but it came out as a question rather than a statement.
The blonde nodded with a smile as she held the door open.
Closing the door behind Alex, a bit reluctantly, Nicole walked back over to Ophelia who was sitting on the couch. “I thought you guys were watching Lord of the Rings?” She sat down next to her friend.
“Yeah we were.” The brunette started. “But then Jasper ended up spilling his drink on the DVD player…?” Her sentence came out as a question. “I don’t even know how he managed that. And the thing was fried. Robin and Monty took a look but they couldn’t do anything about it so we had to call it a night.”
“And you didn’t stay over?” Her friend asked.
“If I’d known Alex would be here, I would’ve.” She answered. “I didn’t mean to interrupt you guys, ’cause clearly it was going somewhere.” Ophelia said quickly, before Nicole could stop her. “But Lincoln has work in the morning and I didn’t want to be woken up.”
Lincoln was a nurse who usually worked the mornings. Some times he was in at night as well but he said he preferred waking up early and getting the nights to himself. Somehow, Lincoln could go the entire day with very little sleep. Nicole had mastered the art of surviving on minimal sleep with school and everything but Lincoln was…he was insane.
“Wait, if he had to be up early, why’d you guys decided on a Lord of the Rings marathon on a Sunday night?” Nicole asked. If the movies lasted till past 8am, and Lincoln needed to be at work probably before that, she wasn’t really sure if that as a good idea.
“He wasn’t gonna watch the whole thing. Lincoln was about to call it a night when Jasper spilled his drink on the DVD player.” Ophelia told her. “How did he even manage that?”
The blonde shrugged, standing up. “I’m gonna go to bed O, I have class in the morning.”
Halfway to her bedroom, Ophelia called out. “Wait, you and Alex…”
“There was nothing going on oh my god.” Nicole threw her head back, staring at the ceiling; her back still turned at her roommate.
“But you guys were holding hands!”
The brunette groaned in frustration. “You’re impossible.”
“I got that from you, O.” She stated simply. “I got that from you.”
The next couple of weeks were busy for both Nicole and Alex. Nicole had a number of papers due in a short span of time and Alex was working on a high profile case so they didn’t see much of each other. The blonde would stop by Helios’s coffee shop, The Hourglass, every morning for coffee. It started out with her giving Ophelia a ride to work but now Nicole just prefers to get her morning coffee from there. It used to be a short drive from their previous apartment but now its more convenient as it’s only a block away. Alex had also started stopping there for her coffee on the way to work. Obviously it had nothing to do with the fact that Nicole was there every morning but because it was on her way to work and their coffee was really good. Helios, Ophelia and pretty much everyone that worked there knew why she actually stopped there and not at the Starbucks across the street from her precinct, however Nicole remained oblivious. Helios had asked Alex about it, “Well for one, its just as good.” Which definitely gave his ego a boost but it was no secret that his customers kept coming back. “And also, it’s cheaper.” Marginally.
Nicole was typing out the first draft for a paper when her phone rang next to her laptop. Forcing her fingers to stop typing and tearing her eyes away from the screen to look at the phone, she picked it up and answered.
“Hey,” Alex greeted from the other end, the happiness and excitement more than apparent in her voice.
“Hey,” Nicole greeted back with a smile.
“So we just closed our case.” She started, referencing to herself and Reyna. “And since it was a big win, Reyna asked me to give you guys a call and ask whether you’re free for the night and want to come down to Grounder’s for a drink.”
She had been working all day; Nicole decided she deserved to call it a night. “Yeah sure. I’ll be there in like 15 minutes?”
“Could you give Helios a call?” Alex asked. “Reyna called Robin and I called Lincoln, Ophelia’s with him so…”
“Will do.” Nicole replied. “But I don’t know if he’s gonna make it. Boys night out.” She explained.
“Understandable.” Came the brunette’s response. “I’ll see you soon?”
As they hung up, Nicole sent a text to Helios letting him know and his reply came only a moment later. As expected, he couldn’t make it. Exiting the messaging app, she called Robin.
“Reyes,” She greeted as her friend answered the phone.
“Hey Princess,” Robin greeted back.
Nicole rolled her eyes at the nickname her friends had given her. It was Ophelia who’d originally come up with it when they were sixteen – sophomore year of high school, the two of them and Robin had been invited to a Halloween party. Nicole was too busy to prepare a costume and had asked her mom to pick up something for her. Ophelia went all out with a post-apocalyptic warrior costume, and Robin had gone as an astronaut.
“What are you going as?” Nicole asked.
“Post-apocalyptic warrior.” Ophelia replied, trying to contain her excitement.
“How do you even come up with something like that?” Her friend questioned in response.
“Go big or go home.” She said simply with a shrug. “And this is our first high school Halloween party. It’s a big deal and I wanna make a good impression.”
The blonde nodded.
“What about you? What are you going as?”
“I don’t have the time to get a costume ready. I’ll have my mom pick something up for me.”
Nicole probably shouldn’t have done that because a few hours before the party, her mom handed her a brown bag with her costume, which turned out to be a princess one. Ophelia all about died laughing and Robin would not let it go; she’s probably the reason the nickname was still around. Helios did his best to not say something about it when Ophelia had sent him a picture of the three of them; but he never let it go either.
“Grounder’s. Reyna called you right?” Nicole went straight to the point.
“Yep, I’ll meet you at your car?” Robin asked. “Or mine…” She added, the only difference being she had to cross the street to get to Nicole’s.
Grounder’s bar was a five minutes drive from Alex and Reyna’s precinct and so by the time Nicole and Robin arrived, the two of them were already there, sitting at their usual booth by the back. A lot had changed in the past couple of months. Alex and Reyna didn’t have a “usual booth”, as a matter of fact; they didn’t even come to Grounder’s too often. It was either Alex’s place or Reyna’s after a case – if they were up for it. But ever since Nicole came along – or since her friends and Lincoln came up with the brilliant idea of setting her and Alex up together – weekends were less lonely.
“Hello detectives.” Robin greeted as she sat down on one end of the semi-circular booth and slid further inside.
“Hey,” Nicole said in a small voice, following Robin’s lead but on the opposite side, settling down next to Alex.
Reyna said hi and Alex gave them a small wave before Ophelia and Lincoln walked up to them, sitting down from Nicole’s end.
“So what’s everyone drinking? First round’s on me.” Reyna said, moving in her seat to get up, causing Robin to get up as well.
“You look really tired.” Nicole said to Alex once Reyna had walked off with Robin behind her who realized Reyna couldn’t possibly carry all their drinks alone.
“It was a really long day. I’ve been up since 5am I think.” Alex replied, straining to keep her eyes open. “I really don’t know why Reyna’s not tired.”
“Well we won’t keep you guys up too long.” She said with a smile. But her phone buzzing made that disappear.
“Who is it?” Alex asked, slightly concerned.
“My mom.” Nicole sighed.
She opened her mouth to speak but Ophelia beat her to it.
“What are we celebrating?” Ophelia leaned ahead from her seat so she could look at Alex.
“Reyna’s the one celebrating. I just want to go home and sleep.” Alex told her.
“We are celebrating this little genius.” Reyna had obviously heard them talking as she and Robin walked up to the table, setting the drinks down on the table. “Or should I say idiot.”
“It wasn’t a big deal. Honestly.” Alex shook her head with an embarrassed smile.
“Not a big deal?” Her friend asked, surprised.
The others sitting around the table just watched them amusedly. “Well, what happened?” Robin asked.
“For one, we would’ve never solved this case if it wasn’t for her.” Reyna started. “I was in interrogation with our suspect – who me along with everyone on the task force believed to be the killer – this close to him crackin-”
“Or so you thought.” Alex points out.
“…when Alex just bursts in through the door going ‘He’s not our guy!’” Reyna continued, pretending not to have even heard her partner.
Alex suppresses the smile on her face, holding up two fingers against her mouth before speaking. “I wasn’t wrong.”
“She wasn’t.” Her friend agreed. “But you could almost hear the entire precinct groan in unison. It was already past midnight and we just wanted to call it a night and go home, get some actual sleep without having to wake up at the crack of dawn just to stare at the same murder board again.”
Alex let out a small laugh along with the others. “So I dragged her out of the room.” She motions towards Reyna. “And walked up to the board…”
“All the while talking.”
“Yes. But then I turned out to be right.”
“We cut our suspect lose because we didn’t have anything to hold him, went home for the night, only to come back a few hours later because this one,” Reyna tilted her head towards her friend. “found something.”
“They must love you down at the station.” Lincoln commented sarcastically.
“You’d expect her to be the least favorite person there.” Reyna responds. “But she’s the reason our case closure rates are so high.” She beamed.
“Please stop.” Alex looked away from everyone’s stare – and Nicole’s amused smile. “This is getting embarrassing.”
“So we spend the next 10 hours gathering evidence on this new guy Alex suggests is the killer. We also got a warrant for his arrest.”
“Was she right about him?” Nicole asks.
“Almost.” Reyna answers, causing her friend to roll her eyes. “Right down to it, we figured he’d be in either one of two places.” They all nod as she continues. “So we each decide to check them out.”
“We probably should’ve waited for back-up.” Alex suggests.
“I did. You should’ve.”
“Oh my god.” Nicole mutters under her breath.
“It would’ve been too late, I just made it in time.” Alex adds defensively.
“But then you wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”
“But they’d have gotten away by then.”
“They?” Everyone around the table but Nicole ask in unison.
“Wait, get hurt? What?” The blonde asks, clearly confused and slightly worried.
“It’s nothing.” The brunette looks embarrassedly at everyone around the table, particularly Nicole. “I broke a finger, my left pinky. That’s it.” She holds up her left hand from under the table.
The blonde sighs. “What did you do?”
“Well we thought there was only one person there. Turns out we had two killers…and I managed to handcuff one of them when the other guy came out of nowhere.” She pauses before adding almost inaudibly and quickly, “And I broke it when he, quite literally, tossed me on the floor.”
“He what?!” Nicole’s eyes widen. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” Alex smiled. “Really, its nothing.”
“Things like this happen fairly often at work.” Reyna told her. “She doesn’t wait for back-up half the time and almost gets me killed along with her.”
The blonde all but glared at Alex.
“What?” She asked defensively, looking around the table. “If I waited, our killer would’ve gotten away. And I didn’t almost get killed.”
“That’s only because you’re back-up got there in time.”
“I would’ve been fine.”
“See what I have to put up with?” Reyna asked Nicole.
“Well, you don’t want me to die or anything.” Alex added casually.
“That’s only because there’d be too much paper work.”
“Ouch.” Alex pretended to be hurt by that, causing everyone else to laugh.
They talked for a couple more hours. It was mostly Reyna telling the other’s how annoying it is to make sure Alex doesn’t get herself killed.
“Alex, you’re life’s not a video game. You can’t just respawn.” Ophelia told her after Reyna finished telling them about a particularly “brilliant” encounter with a suspect.
“I’m with O on that.” Nicole backed up her friend. “You gotta be more careful…at least take someone with you when you go to track down people with…violent tendencies.”
Alex only shrugged.
As they all finally left the bar, Nicole walked up next to Alex. “I really didn’t take you to be one of those cops.”
“What do you…what’d you mean?” Alex asked as they walked.
“Not waiting for back-up; not really caring whether you get killed by the guy behind the door; forgetting your Kevlar vest…I could keep going.” The blonde responded.
“I guess some times you just have to go for it and not think about the consequences. Its either that or spending more hours looking for the killer…or maybe even not getting him in the end.” She said. “And besides, Reyna’s always there to watch my back.”
Nicole nodded. “She’s probably saved your life more than once now.”
“You have no idea.” The brunette almost laughed.
Nicole had seen Alex almost everyday for the past week. There wasn’t much work for her to day and Alex was off from work till her broken finger was healed. “It’s a broken pinky, on my left hand, not a broken arm. I could be working.” It was no secret that her life revolved around her work and not being able to do what she loved was something Alex wasn’t too fond of. Especially if it meant having nothing to do other than sit at home doing…pretty much nothing. However, she had to admit that it wasn’t that bad with Nicole and her friends around.
Her third day back at work, the blonde hadn’t heard from her all day. It was a little unusual because most days there would be at least a text. Robin and Ophelia had noticed her checking her phone every few minutes.
“Nicole!” Ophelia exclaimed, making Nicole look up from her screen. “Staring at that thing won’t make a text from Alex magically appear.”
“Yeah Griffin,” Robin agreed. “If you want to hear from her that bad, send her a text, ask if everything’s alright.”
Nicole locked her phone and pocketed it, walking over to her friend in the kitchen. Ophelia wanted to make cookies and Robin thought the only way to make sure the apartment wouldn’t go down in flames was if someone helped her. And since Nicole had homework, Robin didn’t have a choice.
“Umm…why?” The blonde asked her roommate after she’d been told they were making cookies.
“Because I have nothing better to do.” Ophelia replied as though it was the most obvious thing ever. “And everyone likes cookies.”
“If you don’t burn the place down in the process.” Robin muttered under her breath.
“What?” Ophelia asked, clearly not having heard her friend.
“Nothing.” She replied quickly with a smile. “Come on, I’ll help.”
“Nah.” Nicole shook her head. “She’s probably busy.” The blonde leaned down in front of the oven, looking at the first batch of cookies inside. “They don’t look too bad.” She commented.
“If the dough’s anything to go by,” Robin started. “I think me and O did a good job.”
Ophelia nodded from the kitchen counter, where she was sitting as Nicole’s phone rang. She quickly silenced it, pressing the lock button.
“Who was it?” Robin asked. “I thought you were waiting for a phone call.”
“From Alex, yes.” The blonde admitted absentmindedly. “My mom, no.”
“Your mom’s been calling you?” Her roommate asked. “What is it this time?”
Nicole thought for a second before replying. “Just…stuff. You know what she’s like, nothing’s ever enough.”
Her friends nodded as the doorbell rang.
“I got it.” Nicole told them as she walked over to the door. Without asking who it was, she unlocked it and swung the door open.
She was greeted by an almost traumatized Alex; the top half of her light blue button-down soaked in now-dry blood. The blonde’s eyes widened, “Alex? What happened?” She stepped out of the way letting her in through the door.
Nicole could hear her friends gasp audibly from the kitchen as Alex walked in. “Are you okay?” She asked, her eyes scanning over the blonde making sure she wasn’t hurt.
“Yeah.” She seemed detached but nodded slowly. “It’s not my blood.”
The blonde, along with her friends, let out a small sigh of relief.
“Who’s is it…?” Ophelia asked hesitantly.
Alex took a shaky breath. “Reyna’s.”