The Captain sat at his desk, scanning through the mountainous amount of paperwork on it.
A soft knock on the glass door echoed into his ears.
"Come in," he said without looking away from the paper.
"She's not here," Thomas said, not trying to hide his anger. "I've called her five times, and she hasn't picked up once!"
The Captain finally looked up from the papers, his eyebrows furrowing together. "She's not here?" he asked.
"No! She was supposed to be here three hours ago."
The Captain opened his mouth to speak but stopped when his phone began to buzz against the wood of his desk. Lola's name appeared on the screen, and he instantly answered.
"Lola, are you ok?" he asked.
"Derek, I need you to come over!"
Derek glanced up at Thomas and examined his annoyed face.
"What happened?" Derek asked in the calmest voice he could muster.
"I don't know!" she cried. "Just please get here!" A slur of curse words began to penetrate his ear. He only hoped that the words weren't directed at him.
"Ok, Lola, I need you to calm down, I'm on my way now." Derek pressed the off button and immediately stood up. "I have to go."
"What?" Thomas asked.
"I have to go to Lola's."
"Wh-what about the work."
"You can come with and bring the work as long as you hop off my-"
"Ok!" Thomas said as he walked out of the room and began to grab his own paperwork. As soon as he grabbed everything, Derek stormed out of the building. Thomas had to jog after him to catch up.
Derek began to reserve the car as Thomas quickly jumped into the moving vehicle. Before Thomas could buckle his seatbelt, the car was speeding down the road.
Derek's car stopped at the black iron gates that prevented anyone from entering or leaving her house.
Thomas watched as Derek punched in the key-code, without having to look it up. Come to think of it, he hadn't had to use his phone to get to the house either. Before Thomas could question it, Derek hopped out of the car and speed-walked into the house. Thomas followed, taking his time as he did so, papers in hand.
When Thomas walked past the door, using his foot to close it behind him, he froze. Up until this point, Lola had been so calm, so calculated, so monotone. But now, every aspect of that person was gone, and what could only be described as a schizophrenic, uncontrolled mannerism had taken over. Even the house resembled her disheveled state.
Broken glass was scattered across the ground, along with papers and other documents. The smell of vomit was prominent and it was scattered around the floor. And there, in the middle of the room and mess, was Lola.
Lola was sprawled out on the ground, a mixture of tears and blood were running down her face. A deep gash was on the side of her forehead and specks of vomit were on her clothes. A mixture of sporadic breathing and noises escaped her lips. It almost sounded like she was trying to say something.
Derek knelt next to her and gently cradled her twitching and shaking frame. "Lola," he said in a stern, calm voice. Her bloodshot eyes shot to his. "I need you to calm down."
"I-I-I-I-" deep breath. "I-" deep breath.
"Lola," he said again. "Match my breathing." He slowed his breathing and watched as Lola tried desperately to get hers under control. "Now, try doing your arithmomania."
Thomas' eyebrows knitted together. He had never heard that word before. But, if he had to guess then he would assume it had something to do with her OCD.
Lola's breathing increased. She couldn't remember the number! She needed the number!
"I-I-" deep breath.
"Lola, you're number is two." Her eyes darted around. "Two," he repeated. His voice was so stern that her body froze for a second, and her eyes seemed to widen in what looked like fear.
Lola's heal sloppily slammed against the hardwood twice.
"You can do better," Derek said. Now, his voice was softer, but Lola's eyes were still wide. Her heal struck the wood two times. "Good. Now, try your hand. Tap my arm."
After a second of her fingers not moving, a sudden two taps on his arm happened. Lola continued to try and match his breathing until it finally slowed.
Derek's fingers tapped against the cut on her forehead, a mixture of new and dried blood was on and around the wound. "How did this happen?" he asked.
"I don't know," she said, finally managing to say a complete sentence. Her voice was hoarse and shaking.
"Ok, go take a shower to clear your head."
Lola's eyes looked around the destroyed room, and a new panic took over. "The house. It needs to be cleaned. Things are everywhere! It needs to be cleaned!"
"Go take a shower. Thomas and I will clean," he commanded her. It was only then that Lola noticed Thomas standing near the main door. A stack of papers and files had been slung under his arm, and he was looking at Lola with an odd expression as if he were trying to read her mind, get inside her head.
Lola's body calmed as she thought about that. Trying to play my game? she thought. You tend to want to know everything. You can't stand not to know, to have pieces of the puzzle missing. You're a control freak. A small smile twitched at her lips. Maybe we do have similar ticks after all-
"Lola," Derek warned. He knew exactly what she was doing, and the last thing he was going to allow would be for these two to enter into a mental war. "Go take a shower." Without an answer, he dragged her to her feet and guided her to the bathroom. Her legs were still shaking and weak.
Derek walked back to the main room and waited for a second.
"Yes?" ALICE asked. A second passed before a song began to play. That one song that Lola listened to. The only song.
Thomas was already annoyed by the song, and he nearly broke down at hearing it again.
"Ask away," Derek finally said.
There was a second of silence.
Thomas finally cleared his throat and laid the papers down. "You know her." It wasn't a question. "She obviously trusts you enough to call you when she's having a panic attack, and you knew how to calm her down." Thomas' angry eyes met Dereks', but Derek didn't even flinch or shift under the gaze. "How long have you two been acquainted?"
"For ten years."
There was a pause as Thomas waited for Derek to continue.
"Oh, please, Captain, do continue. I'm so invested in this story."
Derek breathed out slowly through his nose. "It's not particularly my place to tell. I'll tell you what has already been shared with the press, and you can ask Lola the rest." He cleared his throat and bent down, beginning to clean the house. "I wasn't on duty that night, but I was there."
Derek paused what he was doing, trying to will himself to remember.
"There was a car accident on the highway . . . off the highway. Lola's father was driving when he lost control. The car spun out into the woods and was essentially demolished - due to the car being made out of fiberglass." He randomly added.
Thomas knew why he was saying it, though; he had seen it so many times with victims who lived through violent situations. They brought up seemingly random, pointless facts simply because that's what their brains wanted to remember.
"I watched the accident happen, and by the time I called it in and made it to the car, both of her parents were dead, and she was just about."
"That still doesn't explain how you two became best friends."
Derek pushed a stack of papers onto the floor, straightening them.
"I stayed with her in the hospital and made sure that she was getting the proper therapy."
"So, you became her caretaker?"
Thomas was now on his hands and knees, cleaning up. The anger that was there originally was all but gone. He was still hurt that his Captain had failed to inform him that the two knew one another, but it was hard to be mad when someone was telling a story of how a fifteen-year-old lost both her parents in an accident.
"No, her butler took over that position, but he was a very old man who retired the second she turned eighteen."
"Her OCD started after the accident, correct?"
"Yes. You've noticed?" Derek said, somewhat sarcastically.
"Yeah, it's not hard to miss someone doing everything twice and straightening out my desk."
"To be fair, your desk is messy." This earned a small smile from Thomas, but it quickly faded as a new thought entered his head.
"Do your bosses know?" Derek looked up. "That you know Lola and have now hired her."
"Yes, they all know, and she isn't getting paid for her services."
"I wonder how she'll survive," Thomas murmured, a mixture of sarcasm and what could only be described as envy was etched in his voice.
Derek shot Thomas an almost warning look, but he maintained eye contact.
"Why was I kept out of the loop?"
"Because you deal in theories. It makes you an excellent detective but a terrible normal person."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Now, it was just anger.
"If I would have told you that I knew Lola, you would've come up with all these theories or ideas that you were being tested or that I was doing favoritism."
"No, I chose Lola for this because she has an uncanny talent to get into people's heads. I'm sure you noticed her doing it to you just a minute ago?"
"She wasn't exactly discrete about it."
"And that's why you two make such a great team."
"In case you haven't noticed, all we've done is bicker."
"I know, but you two are being productive. You guys silently challenge one another to outdo the other. In normal circumstances, I would not allow it, but that's how you two like to work, and I often see the best results from it."
"You could've at least told me, though."
"I know, and that was an error in my judgment. I apologize."
Thomas shook his head, not denying the apology, but not accepting it either.
"So, what did her parents do?"
Derek opened his mouth to speak. "I'm surprised you haven't googled me by now," Lola's sarcastic voice rang out.
The two had been so engrossed in their conversation that neither had realized that the music had stopped.
Lola was now wearing leggings and an oversized sweater that fell to her mid-thigh. Her hair was still damp but was uncomfortably pulled up in a ponytail.
She looked down at the barely clean floor, which earned a twitch in her hand. "You two suck at cleaning." Her voice shook now. Neither responded as they watched her continue to twitch. "I'll make a deal with you. We clean this house, then I'll become an open book, and we can also work on the case you brought with you."
Derek glanced back at Thomas, who was biting his lip in thought.
"Ok," he said, "I'll bite."
A smile twitched on Lola's lips.