1A/N: None of Dick Wolf's LO:CI characters are mine.
This is a companion piece that is POST my other short story, "PROMISES," which should be read first (if you haven't already done so).
Keeping The Promise
For the third day in a row, Alex was spending her lunch hour by picking up "homemade" chicken soup from the deli and bringing it to Bobby, who was home suffering with the flu. As she stood outside the apartment door, fumbling with the keys, she could hear him inside – still coughing. She heard the TV, thinking to herself, "Doesn't he ever get tired of the History Channel?"
He tried to manage a smile as he saw her enter, straightening himself up on the couch, while wrapping his favorite cozy blanket snugly around his shoulders. She walked over to him, giving him a sympathetic look, as she placed the take-out bag on the coffee table and removed her coat and scarf.
"How are you feeling?"
"The same," he responded – his sore throat adding an almost sexy raspiness to his voice.
She bent and placed her lips on his forehead – the way her mother had taught her to check for a fever– never using your hand. "Hmm, not as warm as before – but I'll get ya' some juice and a couple more aspirins anyway," she said. She went to the kitchen for the aspirin bottle, his drink and a soup spoon and joined Bobby back on the couch. He dutifully took his medicine and watched Alex, as she opened the container of soup.
She noticed how he'd shuddered from a chill as he dropped the blanket from his shoulders, freeing his arms and hands to eat.
"Here," she said, pulling the blanket back over him, "You keep warm. I'll feed you."
He felt utterly ridiculous, but knew better than to argue with her. His throat was too sore for arguing, anyway. "Maybe she's still wrestling with her motherly instincts," he thought to himself, as he acquiesced. "Yup, that must be it," he reaffirmed, as he watched her blow on the steaming hot spoonful of soup, cooling it so as not to burn his mouth. He couldn't fight back the smile.
"What's so funny?" she asked.
"Nuth-nothing," he replied, shaking his head. "I just feel a little..."
"Oh, don't be silly," she cut him off mid-sentence, as she offered the spoon, instructing him to "Open wide."
He finished the entire container without further objection.
Alex rearranged the cushions on the couch and got him tucked back in, placing an extra pillow from the bed behind his head, and a fresh glass of orange juice –as well as a new box of Kleenex on the table.
"Try to get some sleep this afternoon, okay?" She instructed, more than asked, as she ran her fingers through the messy curls atop is head and pressed her lips to his forehead, once again.
He nodded with a raspy "Thank you."
"I've gotta' get back to work – – see ya' later."
Captain Deakins stood in the doorway to his office, catching Alex's attention as she hung up the phone. "Alex, can I see ya' for a minute."
He waited by the door, stepping aside a bit to allow her to pass through, then closing it for privacy. "Have a seat," he said, as he settled back into the chair behind his desk.
Alex looked at him with a slightly nervous smile. She and Bobby usually didn't get called into the Captain's office unless something was up– usually bad.
"So," he began, "How's the big guy?"
She looked perplexed for a moment, but answered, "You mean Bobby? Oh, it's just the flu. He still has a little fever but I think he's getting better. He should be back on Monday," she said with a little smile.
Deakins nodded with a smile of his own– a mischievous one, which didn't go undetected by Alex. "That happens a lot when you go on vacation somewhere warm and come back to this miserable weather."
Alex nodded in agreement and silently thought, "He didn't really call me in here just to chit-chat, did he?"
"Well," Deakins sighed, leaning back in his chair, "Bringing him lunch and checking on him every day would kinda' be above and beyond the call of duty," he paused...a long pause, while looking at Alex begin to squirm in her seat, "...if, well...if it wasn't your duty." He sat back, a slight smirk on his face, as he waited for her reaction.
Her eyebrows raised, eyes glancing from side to side, "I'm, uh, I'm not following you," she replied with a nervous laugh.
"Don't tell me you've forgotten already," he asked with mock surprise. He was teasing her and baiting her – and enjoying every second of it.
"You know, the little part about 'in sickness and in health'?"
She froze, her face a blank slate – neither denial nor confirmation of what she now knew the Captain also knew. She felt her heart begin to race.
"Relax, Alex," he chuckled, "Your secret's safe with me."
Relieved that their secret was both "out" and "safe," she slumped back in the chair, still looking perplexed.
He sat forward, hands folded, leaning on his desk. He was smiling. "You wanna' know how I knew?"
She nodded, holding her hand out, palm up, in a gesture that invited him to continue.
"Aside from the matching non-tan marks on your ring fingers?", he chuckled, as she self-consciously looked down at her hand, "I've been watching the big guy since you got back last Monday – – I've never seen him look so happy."
"You, too, for that matter," he added.
He rose from his chair and came around the desk to give her a hug. "Congratulations...I had a feeling you two were meant for each other."
"Thank you, Captain."
As Alex approached the office door to leave, Deakins called to her, "Hey, Alex!" Do me a favor and don't tell Bobby that I know...I wanna' have some fun with him on Monday."