I'll Be Right Behind You

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Chapter 9

She hadn’t spoken a word to anyone since she the funeral. All her colleagues telling her and Lincoln how sorry they were for their loss was unbearable. Alex had blocked out most of it; not intentionally at first, she just couldn’t make herself listen to the same thing over and over and over and over again. Everyone telling them what an amazing person Reyna was and how the precinct will miss her dearly when half of them didn’t even know her. Nicole was there through it all though. Her reassuring hand on the small of her back made a bigger difference than Alex would care to admit. She remained stoic throughout the day, stiff and solemn, not wanting anyone to see how she was crumbling on the inside; Nicole had seen her like that and that was already one too people. Lincoln, on the other hand, couldn’t even open his mouth without falling apart; Alex was glad he had Ophelia to hold him up. The weather frustrated her angry; bright and sunny, when it should’ve been dark and rainy and depressing. The feeling of the sunlight almost blinding her as she walked up with her partner’s casket felt like a distant memory whereas it had only been a few hours ago. After the funeral, Alex just couldn’t take it anymore; she’d gotten in her car and driven off after the funeral; driving around aimlessly the entire day before deciding to return home when she realized it had gotten dark.

“Where are you going?” Nicole asked grabbing Alex’s arm as she walked up to her car.

“I don’t-” She started, not knowing herself. “I just need to get away.”

Her friend gave her a concerned look.

“I’ll be fine.” Alex tried to reassure her. “I’ll let you know when I get home.”

“Okay.” Nicole let go of her arm. “Just be safe, okay?”

The past five days were some of the worst for Alex. She couldn’t help but break down every time a thought about Reyna crossed her mind. It wasn’t very convenient but not having to go to work meant she could lock herself up in her room and let herself go without having to worry about anyone seeing her this…weak; almost everyone was convinced that she was alright. Other than Nicole of course, there was no way Alex could convince her that she was alright. Yes, she wasn’t alright but everyone else took her word for it so why couldn’t the blonde? The two of them had been spending a considerable amount of time together; it was mostly Nicole who came over because Alex didn’t want to show up at the blonde’s apartment, admitting she didn’t want to be alone. But she didn’t push though; Nicole didn’t make Alex talk about anything unless she was up for it, none of the ’you need to talk about it, bottling it up inside isn’t good for you’ crap. Sometimes just being there was enough. And that’s what Nicole would do.

Nicole had stayed over the previous night; although Alex wouldn’t admit it, she didn’t want to be alone. “It’s okay to cry, you know?” The blonde had told her, “You’re only human.” Alex had only nodded; its not that she didn’t not want to cry, it was the fact that she just couldn’t anymore. The last few days had drained her out and now she was just exhausted and wanted all the things she was feeling to stop. She felt numb after waking up in the morning today. Alex’s hands trembled and fingers were not really listening to her brain as she buttoned her uniform’s shirt. The tie proved to be harder than the last time she’d worn one.

“Ugh.” Alex groaned out loud as stood in front of the mirror, letting go of the tie around her neck in frustration after attempting to tie it for the fifth time.

“What’s wrong?” Nicole asked, walking up behind her.

“Can’t get it right.” She sighed. “My hands aren’t cooperating.”

“Let’s see if I remember how to do it.” Nicole said as she reached over Alex’s shoulder.

Turning the tie inside out, she smiled as her hands went to work, moving almost on their own.

“That’s not ho-” Alex started.

“I know.” She nodded. “Different knot.”

A few seconds later, Nicole tightened the black tie around her neck, patting it flat. “It’s a little lopsided…”

Alex gave her a small smile. “No, it’s not.” She tugged at the knot, slightly straightening it, “See?”

Nicole was right about it looking better; very subtle but it was more triangular and symmetrical unlike the four-in-hand Alex was accustomed to. “Thanks.”

“I can’t get the four-in-hand right.” She confessed as she stepped away from Alex. “I know its easier to do than this one but I can never get it right.”

She broke down the moment the door closed behind her. Pushing it closed with her back, Alex slid down against it, sitting down on the floor. It replayed in her mind once again; the day she got shot, the apartment, the shooter, Reyna…followed by her final moments with her. It needed to stop. Every goddamned second replaying in her head over and over again, it needed to stop. It would eventually drive her crazy. A sob escaped her throat, catching her off guard. Wrapping her arms around her legs and resting her head against her knees, Alex took a deep breath, trying to calm herself, which only resulted in another sob.

Nothing really helped with the pain at this point. Alcohol took the edge off but she didn’t want to show up to work on her first day back with a hangover. And the thought having to go back to work tomorrow morning almost made Alex feel sick. The precinct wouldn’t be the same without Reyna. Sleep. She needed to sleep. There wasn’t anything else she could get herself to do right now and the idea of being able to shut down for a few hours seemed appealing. Alex probably didn’t get even one night of undisturbed sleep – as far as undisturbed goes for her – since the day of the shooting.

Taking a deep breath, Alex brought her head up after a while and stood up. She couldn’t get herself to walk further than the couch. She stepped out of her trousers and collapsed on to it. Loosening the tie and pulling it over her head, she unbuttoned her shirt and discarded them on the floor below her. Alex leaned back against the couch and reached out, looking for the TV remote. Pressing the power button, she leaned down to untie her shoes and kicked them off. There was never anything good on – not like she was going to watch it anyways. But it would be a good distraction. She settled on Cartoon Network just because everything else was either too depressing or too serious and an episode of The Regular Show seemed like her best option. Alex didn’t have to pay attention to it; just staring at the screen was enough.


Nicole was worried. With Alex drinking the last few days and being completely torn up over Reyna, she wasn’t entirely convinced Alex should be alone and on the road. It had been hours since she last heard from her let alone saw her.

“Call her.” Robin said from the couch as Nicole walked up to her with a glass of water.

“She wants to be alone.” Nicole replied.

“But it’s been hours.” Her friend told her. “Well, it’s been all day.”

“I guess you’re right,” The blonde muttered as she sat down next to her friend and typed out a text.

Halfway through the second episode, a sudden buzzing made her jump, bringing her back to reality. It took Alex a moment to figure out where the sound was coming from; the pocket of her trousers which were laying on the floor. Fishing it out, she read the name on the lock screen before unlocking it.

Nicole Griffin

12:04am

R u back home?

A second text came in a moment later, before she could type out her reply. Alex had forgotten she was meant to let Nicole know once she’d returned home.

Nicole Griffin

12:04am

Alex?

Alex

12:05am

I got home about half an hour ago. I’m sorry I didn’t text you sooner.

Nicole sighed in relief as she read the text and typed out a reply.

Nicole Griffin

12:05am

It’s fine.

Nicole Griffin

12:05am

How r u doing?

Alex thought for a moment before replying. No matter what she replied with, it wouldn’t convince Nicole that she was okay. If she said everything was fine, her friend would know she was lying; if she told Nicole how she was feeling at that moment, it would worry her.

Alex

12:06am

I’m alright.

The blonde rolled her eyes as the reply got through.

Nicole Griffin

12:06am

Did you have dinner?

Alex

12:06am

No…

Nicole Griffin

12:07am

Let me rephrase, did you eat anything all day?

Alex

12:08am

No…

Nicole just sighed, concerned about Alex as she slowly dragged herself off the couch.

Nicole Griffin

12:08am

I’ll be over in a few minutes.

“Where are you going?” Robin asked uncertainly as she watched her friend grab her jacket and keys.

“Alex’s.” Nicole replied, not looking at Robin. “I’ll get some take-out. She has work tomorrow morning and I personally think people need to eat in order to survive.”

“Should I be surprised?” Robin asked.

“With what?”

“The fact that Alex hasn’t bothered to eat all day or the fact that you’re rushing over to her place; I can’t decide.” She couldn’t help but smirk.

“It’s not like that.” The blonde turned to look at her, rolling her eyes. “We’re just friends and I wanna make sure she’s alright.”

“Whatever you say, Princess. I’ll stick around for a while okay?”

Nicole nodded as she walked out through her door and called their usual pizza place.

“Hey Harper, it’s Nicole.” She greeted as Harper answered.

“Hey,” She greeted back. “The usual?”

“Almost.” The blonde said. “Pepperoni instead of cheese would be great.” After all, it was Alex’s favorite.

“You got it. I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

Alex had gotten herself to pull on a pair of pajama shorts by the time Nicole knocked on her door. She was still wearing the tank top, which was under her uniform’s shirt, unwilling to bother with a different t-shirt. The TV was still on Cartoon Network when she opened the door.

“I brought pizza.” Nicole said with a small smile.

“You didn’t have to.” Alex opened the door wider, stepping aside to let her in.

“I kinda did.” She started. “Take it from someone who’s going to be a doctor in the near future: people need food in order to survive.”

A couple of hours had passed in silence, the two of them now watching An Amazing World of Gumball. The pizza box, with only a couple of slices now missing, sat on the coffee table along with the now half-empty bottle of soda. Nicole had her arm around Alex’s shoulder and her head was resting on the blonde’s shoulder. The silence was comforting, letting her know that there was no pressure on her to talk about how she was feeling or what was going on inside her head, but it let her know that she wasn’t alone and if she wanted to, Alex had someone she could talk to.

“Thank you.” She spoke in a low voice, catching Nicole of guard.

“For what?” Nicole asked.

“For this…” Alex brought her head up and looked at her. She didn’t know where to start. She’d been a mess since the shooting and the only thing Alex knew she could rely on was Nicole. “For being there for me…almost every night since the shooting. I don’t know what I’d do if I had go through this on my own.”

The blonde gave her a warm smile and nodded. “You don’t need to thanks me, that’s what…friends are for.” Nicole’s not sure what made her pause before saying the word ‘friend’ but something about it just didn’t feel right. The two of them had gotten a lot closer over the past week and even before that, there was something about Alex – something Nicole didn’t want to admit to her friends – and she wasn’t really sure if friends described their relationship. We’re not anything more… She thought. “I’m just glad I could be of some help.”

Alex nodded, her lips curling up at the edges ever so slightly.

Nicole hoped that she didn’t notice the slight pause but if the way she was looking at her was any indication, Alex did. Their faces were too close for Nicole to not look down at Alex’s lips. Don’t do it don’t do it don’t do it she kept telling herself in a futile attempt to not let her eyes glance down…but they did. WHY DO I HAVE SO LITTLE SELF CONTROL? She scolded herself. That’s the point of no return…

Alex had caught on to what was happening and before her mind could register what her body was doing, she was already leaning ever so slowly towards Nicole, who seemed to not be moving away.

As her mind finally caught up, she pulled back, too subtle to be questioned as she cleared her throat. “You have class in the morning.” Alex said not looking at Nicole but at the watch on her wrist. “It’s late. I’m so sorry I kept you up.”

The blonde shook her head. “No, no, not at all. It’s fine.” She stood up from the couch. “And you have work in the morning.” Nicole reminded her.

Alex let out a deep breath as she followed Nicole to the door; thankful the blonde hadn’t…said anything. “Don’t remind me.”

“Get some sleep okay?” She said, opening the door.

“I’ll try my best.” The brunette held it open as Nicole stepped outside.

“At least you’re being honest.” She joked. “Good night Alex.”

“Good night Nicole.” Alex closed the door behind her and squeezed her eyes shut for a moment. What the fuck was that? She could almost hear the voices inside her head yelling.

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