I'll Be Right Behind You

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Chapter 7

“Wait, what?” Nicole gasped as she led Alex towards the couch.

“What do you mean?” Ophelia hesitated, stepping towards them. Robin, however, remained at her spot, unsure of what was happening.

“Umm…” Alex had to force the words out. “She was shot.”

“Oh god.” Ophelia breathed. “Lincoln, does he know?”

Although her mind registered the question, it didn’t quite tell her who was talking or even if they were talking to her. “Yeah…” It took her a moment before answering, her voice low and raspy.

Nicole sat down next to her, placing her hand on Alex’s back, encouraging her to continue.

“Someone at the station called him right after…” Alex continued, still trying to take in her surroundings, barely noticing anyone around her. She wasn’t even sure who she talking to at this point.

“You should…” Robin started, looking at Ophelia.

She nodded as she finished her friend’s sentence. “I should go.”

The blonde nodded at her roommate from the couch. Ophelia grabbed her jacket and keys before rushing out the door.

The door closed behind her with a reasonably loud bang, bringing Alex back to reality. “I’m sorry.” She started, shaking her head slightly, as though noticing Nicole for the first time. “I didn’t know where else to go and I just…” She took a deep breath. “I don’t think I can be alone right now.”

The blonde nodded, “Yeah, yeah no problem. You shouldn’t be alone right now.” Nicole let a moment pass before she spoke again, hoping for the best. “How’s Reyna?”

“I don’t know.” Alex muttered almost inaudibly, her voice trembling. “She got out of surgery not too long ago and I was stuck at the precinct all day with all the paper work and…” She trailed off.

Nicole let out a small sigh of relief. “Did you get to see her?”

Alex shook her head. “No, they won’t let anyone in right now. She’s not doing too well.”

“I’m so sorry.” Nicole told her, gently rubbing her hand on Alex’s back. “Do you wanna take a shower, get out of these cloths?” She asked softly.

She nodded slowly after a moment and Nicole took that as a queue to stand up. She held out her hand for Alex, “Come on.”

The brunette took her hand, standing up and followed her to the bedroom.

“Thank you.” Alex said to Nicole, her voice just above a whisper. The blonde was inside her bathroom making sure everything was in place.

“You’re welcome.” She smiled, stepping out. “Clothes are in the drawer,” Nicole pointed to the chest of drawers on the opposite side of the room. “Well, t-shirts and pjs.” She walked over and pulled the seconds drawer open partly. “Pick out whichever.”

Alex nodded.

“And there are towels by the shower.” The blonde continued, walking past her, back towards the door. “I’ll be in the living room. Call me if you need anything.” She gave her a warm smile and walked out, pulling the door closed behind her. “Oh and throw your clothes on the floor outside the bathroom, I’ll put them in the washer.”

Alex made a beeline for the bathroom as soon as the door closed behind Nicole. Once she had the shower running, she stood in front of the mirror, looking down at the reflection of her bloody shirt, and replayed the events of the day.

“Did you call it in?” Reyna asked Alex as they approached the apartment.

“No.” Alex replied. “We’re only here to pick up a witness, I didn’t think we needed to.”

Her partner shrugged. “I guess you’re right.”

The apartment’s door was open and they walked in with a knock and Alex announced themselves, “NYPD, Jake Collins?”

The two of them waited in silence for a moment and as they advancing further into the apartment, they were suddenly met by a hail of bullets.

“Shit.” Alex hissed under her breath, rushing to duck behind the couch. She felt something warm and wet on her left arm; looking down at it, she realized one of the bullets had grazed her. “Really?” she asked rhetorically, clearly annoyed.

Alex looked around for Reyna but could not see her from where she was. The bullets kept pouring onto them and through the chaos, she was able to determine, there was one shooter, – thankfully, and he/she was shooting from across the living room – where she and Reyna were. Alex pulled out her gun and tried to picture the layout of the apartment although she had only seen it briefly. Couch, coffee table, TV, hallway…kitchen; that was her best bet, the shooter had to be there, probably behind the counter, that might give him a relatively clear view of the living room and front door as well as something to stay behind to protect him from their bullets. Alex waited a couple of seconds; soon the bullets seemed to stop. She assumed the shooter had run out of ammo and took the opportunity to look above the couch, towards the kitchen.

She was right. The moment he saw her, he fired. Alex fired back as she ducked back down behind the couch; So he’s not out of ammo, she rolled her eyes, hoping that at least she hit him. Silence. It lasted too long, so she decided to take a look once again; she could see blood pooling on the hardwood floor by the kitchen counter. Alex stood up straight with a sigh of relief, and scanned the room for Reyna as she spotted her bleeding out on the floor by the coffee table.

“No!” Alex gasped as she rushed over…

Alex shook her head, pushing the images aside. She couldn’t relive that again. It was bad enough as it was. She moved her hands up to unbutton her shirt when she felt a sting on her left arm; Right… Alex had almost forgotten about the stitches on her arm; fine, maybe not all of the blood on her shirt belonged to Reyna. It wasn’t too bad though, only a few stitches. Nothing really, compared to her partner. Her hands quivered as she fumbled with the buttons. It took her longer than expected to undo them, it was a simple task but her hands weren’t cooperating. Once out of her clothes, Alex cracked the bathroom door open, dropping them on the floor outside. She walked over to the shower and stepped in, letting the scorching hot water wash away the dried blood from her skin as she let herself fall apart for the first time all day.

“How’s Alex?” Robin asked, biting into one of her and Ophelia’s cookies.

“She’s shaken up.” Nicole replied, walking over to her and picking up a cookie from the tray. “Not bad,” She commented subconsciously, her voice muffled by the cookie.

“Is Reyna going to be okay?”

“God, I hope so.” She replied, walking over to one of the cupboards.

“What are you doing?” Robin asked, uncertainly, as her friend pulled out a saucepan and began filling it with water.

“I thought I’d make her something to eat.” The blonde replied. “Mac and cheese always helps.”

Robin smiled as she hopped off the kitchen counter. “I’ll leave you two to it.” She grabbed a few more cookies from the tray and headed towards the door.

“You don’t have to leave.”

“No, Alex needs you right now. I’ll give Helios a call.” Robin told her.

Nicole rolled her eyes.

“No, not like that.” Her friend corrected. “Just hang out, you know. Maybe watch a movie or whatever’s decent on Netflix.”

“So Netflix and chill?” The blonde asked with a smirk.

Her friend made a disgusted face, clearly disappointed by Nicole. “What are we? Sixteen?” With that she opened the door. “Later, Griffin.”

“Bye Robin.”

Nicole turned on the stove and left the water to boil before heading back to her bedroom to get Alex’s clothes. As she walked up to the pile of clothes, and leaned down to pick them up from the floor, she noticed how much blood was actually on them – it had soaked right through her shirt and onto her bra. Nicole also noticed the small rip on the left sleeve. Although she wan’t sure what had caused it, Nicole didn’t think much in to it. As she stood up, she could hear Alex from the other side, her sobs muffled by the sound of the running water. She brought her hand up to the door, about to knock to ask if her friend was alright but stopped herself, deciding it was best to leave her alone.

Nicole sat in front of the TV, staring at the screen, not really sure of what was on – it was animated and not for kids is as much as she could tell – and unable to concentrate on anything but the brunette. The mac and cheese was sitting on the stove and Alex’s clothes were in the washer. It had been over half an hour since Alex had gone into the shower and Nicole was starting to get worried. Just as she was about to get up and walk back over to her room to check up on her, she heard footsteps behind her.

The blonde turned in her seat to look behind her. Nicole had to make herself tear her eyes away from Alex. She was wearing Nicole’s pajama bottoms, – the white one with the pink, purple and blue puppies on it – a worn out t-shirt, and a half zipped dark hoodie over it. She looked tired and her eyes were bloodshot…she looked exhausted.

“Hey,” Alex muttered, her voice low and hoarse as she walked over to Nicole.

“Hey,” She replied as Alex sank into the couch next to her. “Feeling any better?”

The brunette only shook her head slightly in response. “Just tired.”

“It’s going to be alright.” Nicole tried to comfort her as she turned towards Alex, pulling her into a hug. “She’s going to be okay.”

Wrapping her arms around the blonde, she closed her eyes and let herself a moment of content in Nicole’s arms. She filled her with a warm feeling, almost giving her hope that Reyna would be alright. “I don’t know if I can handle it if she isn’t.” Alex confessed, her throat tightening and tearing threatening to spill.

She brushed the tears away as they pulled apart a moment later. “God, I’m a mess.”

Nicole shook her head. “Its completely understandable. You’re going through a lot right now.” She brought her hand up and squeezed Alex’s arm reassuringly, making her flinch and pull away. “What’s wrong?” The blonde withdrew her hand in a flash.

“Nothing.” Alex replied quickly. “It’s nothing.”

“Are you hurt?”

“It’s nothing. Really.” She tried to brush it off but Nicole’s piercing blue eyes almost glaring at her made her give in. With a sigh, she pulled down the hoodie from her left shoulder, revealing the stitches on her upper arm.

“How did that happen?!” Nicole exclaimed, her fingers ghosting over the angry red skin.

“Bullet graze, its not a big deal.”

“Maybe not to you but there are stitches and…” Nicole stood up and began walking towards the kitchen, “…you need to keep that covered.” She came back a moment later with a first aid box. “Take off the hoodie.”

Alex did as she was told, unzipping then slowly pulling her arm out. Nicole moved closer to her. About a minute later, her upper arm was wrapped in white gauge once again. Alex had taken off the one they’d given her at the hospital after her shower – mostly because it was now wet but also because she found it very irritating and uncomfortable.

“I’ll get you something to eat.” Before Alex could say anything, Nicole was already on her feet and walking back to the kitchen.

“You didn’t have to.” Alex said as her friend walked back to the couch with two bowls in her hand.

“I’m almost completely certain that you haven’t eaten anything all day.” She started. “So yeah, I did.”

The brunette took the bowl from her as Nicole sat down. “Mac and cheese?”

“Whenever I have a bad day, it makes me feel at least a little bit better.” She explained and continued with a small smile, “So I was hoping it might help. Even if it’s just a bit.”


A few hours had passed with the two of them sitting on the couch, neither of them keeping track of time. An empty carton of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice-cream along with the half empty baking tray with Robin and Ophelia’s cookies sat on the coffee table as a movie played on TV. Alex and Nicole stared at it blankly, not entirely sure what they were watching. Alex couldn’t get herself to think about anything other than Reyna and Nicole couldn’t stop thinking about how all of this was effecting Alex.

As the credits rolled, the blonde nudged at Alex as she began getting off the couch, “Come on.”

Alex looked at her questioningly, not so much as making an effort to stir in her seat on the couch.

“Let’s go to bed, it’s late and you’ve had a long day.” She explained.

“Oh,” Alex nodded. “Umm, I can sleep on the couch.”

“No, no.” The blonde shook her head. “I can sleep in Ophelia’s room if sleeping in the same bed makes you uncomfortable, but you don’t have to sleep on the couch.”

She shook her head. “I don’t want you to be uncomfortable.”

Nicole smiled as she held out her hand, “Come on.”

“Which side’s your’s…” Alex asked awkwardly as they walked up to the bed.

“Left.” Nicole replied without a thought, walking to the bathroom and turning on the tap. “You can turn the lights out, I’ll be there in a sec.”

She got in to bed with a sigh and laid down, her back towards Nicole’s side of the bed. Alex closed her eyes and tried not to think about the day she’d had but in no vain. The only thought going through her head was Reyna and whether she was alright. She was glad she didn’t have to be alone tonight but Alex didn’t really want anyone – especially Nicole – to see her like this.

Moments later, Alex felt the mattress slightly sink as Nicole settled down next to her. She stayed still for a few long seconds before speaking in a soft voice, “Hey, its gonna be okay.”

Alex sniffed, not really sure why Nicole was saying that when she realized for the first time that she was crying.

“Look at me.” The blonde tried. “Please.”

Reluctantly, she turned around to face Nicole, who, without a word, pulled her in closer. Alex didn’t hesitate but went along, resting her head on the blonde’s chest before her the small voice in her mind could tell her otherwise. She was a mess and there was no denying it, it made her feel weak to be breaking down like this, but Alex couldn’t help it tonight. “I don’t know what to do. This was all my fault.” She said between sobs.

“It wasn’t your fault. Why would you even say that?” Nicole asked, rubbing her hand up and down her back, trying to comfort her.

Between the sobs and blaming herself for it, it took longer than expected to tell Nicole about what had happened that led to Reyna getting shot.

“I should’ve called it in.”

“I should’ve done something.”

“I should’ve protected her.”

“It should’ve been me.”

“No, no. It wasn’t your fault. There’s nothing you could’ve done to stop it.” She tried again. Nicole could feel tears soaking through the thin material of her t-shirt. “Whatever happened today, that’s not on you.”

She could feel Alex shaking her head against her in disagreement. “She’s my partner, whatever happens to her; it’s on me.”

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