Shadow

"Close the door. Close the door."

Mike was stunned for a moment before he did as he'd been instructed and closed the front door to Alex's house. Turning he looked at her, confused by her insistence he closed the door, and noticed she was standing in the middle of the room with a face of concentration as she seemed to be listening out for something. "What is it?" Mike asked, looking around the room but not seeing anything out of the ordinary. He had to admit, it did cross his mind that she was perhaps going slightly crazy.

Alex put her index finger to her lips, "PJ got free." She spoke quietly, almost a whisper, not wanting to frighten the bird anymore than it probably already had.

He frowned, "Don't you normally let those fly free for a while?"

She shot him a look but turned away to continue looking around the room, "Not when it doesn't really know me, no." She put her finger back to her mouth, her face showing him that he should be quiet before he was in trouble. Instead he watched her as she slowly moved around the room and he was shocked and surprised when she began making similar chirping noises that PJ had been making. His eyebrows almost reaching his hairline, he'd never heard her do that one before.

He was even more surprised when he heard another one that didn't come from her mouth, either there was an echo in the room or that bird was answering back. Without warning Alex moved away from him and started towards the sofa, once she was there she carefully walked behind it and looked in the window. Spotting PJ up at the top of the window, trying to reach the outside world, not truly understanding the danger but instinctively wanting to breathe in the fresh air and sing with the other wild birds that existed.

Alex backed off and turned to the sofa to pick up the small net she'd gathered earlier. Not really wanting to be cruel and capture him but she had no choice to, she quickly caught PJ in the net and loosely held it together as she carried him back to his cage. "Well, check out Ace Ventura." Mike commented, sarcastically, only to be met with an eye roll from Alex.

Once she'd carefully put him back in his cage she quickly closed it and watched as the bird fluttered around the cage, at unease with the entire situation and suddenly frightened of Alex, which hurt her feelings a little but she expected that it wouldn't last. Alex backed away from the cage to give him space and turned to Mike, who was still stood at the front door with a surprised expression on his face. She laughed a little at him and took his hand to lead him into the house.

"Thank you for closing the door." Alex told him, although he couldn't quite tell if it was a genuine thank you or a sarcastic one.

Mike shrugged, "What happened?"

She looked back at PJ who was standing on a perch, breathing. "I opened the cage to feed him and he took me by surprise."

"Sneaky." Alex laughed a little. Mike just realised she was laughing, but he wasn't going to say anything, he was just pleased she was. "How long were you chasing him around the house?"

After a moments consideration she said, "About an hour." She looked at him and back at the clock on the TV, "It's the middle of the afternoon, what are you doing here? Aren't you meant to be working?"

Mike grinned, "I'm playing hookie." She shot him a look, "No, actually, I've come to fetch you."

"Fetch me?" Unable to hide the annoyance in her voice at the way that sounded like she was a child at kindegarten.

He leaned into her, "Yeah, we've got a surprise for you."

"Oh, you and surprises." She feigned annoyance at that one, truthfully she liked the idea of another surprise but that meant going out. "Who's we?"

"Ah, that would be telling."

"Tell it anyway." Alex replied, insistent.

Mike shook his head, "No." He looked at her, his face going soft to try to convince her to move from the spot she was standing in, "C'mon, C'mon. It'll be fun."

Hesitant, she looked around the room, "I don't know..."

"C'mon Alex, you only seem to leave the house when you have to see Liz." Mike told her, referring to Olivet, not showing any sign of defeat. Still hesitant, she looked at him and he smiled at her, hoping to coax her out of the house. "Look, I promise it's something good and it's worth going out for." He took a step back and held out his hand, offering to hold hers and lead her out of the house. Alex looked at him and at his hand and slowly took it, he smiled and led her out, locking her door behind them.

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A room filled with people. The crowded room feeling like it was filled by a thousand people, although it was probably not true but she did feel that she knew every single one of them. Well, most of them anyway. The only one she didn't know was Mike's new partner, whom she had not met yet. Looking around the room at the sea of faces that were looking back at her she felt so overwhelmed. She spotted her brothers and sisters, their children, her parents and other relatives, she quickly spotted Bobby and Carolyn, Deakins and his wife. Former partners and work colleagues who had worked with her at places before and at Major Case.

However, one meant the most, and she spotted him just before he spotted her but the moment he laid eyes on her, he squealed with delight and rushed over to her immediately, causing the room to be quiet. "Auntie Alex, Auntie Alex." He squealed, his small legs moving quickly as he reached her at the same time she knelt to the floor, holding each other close. His little arms wrapping around her neck. "I missed you Auntie Alex." The boy, Nathan, was the child that Alex had given birth to for her sister, Jo, almost three years ago.

"I missed you too." She spoke quietly and as she stood back up she kept him in her arms, picking him up with her. Alex turned around, back towards the door that she'd entered, to see Mike standing there, leaning on the door frame, smiling at her.

She smiled back.

"Okay, okay." Jo's voice ripped through the atmosphere like a steady knife. Her bubbly voice cutting through the misty eyes of everyone who'd been watching. "There's nothing to see, nothing to see. Get back to what you were doing." Jo walked over to her sister and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Hey, you two are gonna cause a widespread epidemic of tears and exploding sentimental hearts." Jo looked at Alex and back at her son, who was refusing to release his grip on his favourite aunt.

"Yeah, I think even Wheeler shed a tear." Mike commented and Alex rolled her eyes, she needed to get him to get a long with his new partner before that one left too.

"Surprise." Eric, her brother, called out quietly as he walked over to her.

Alex smiled at him. "You're idea?" She asked.

Eric shook his head, "Nope. Bobby's actually. They say he's a genius, I never listened, until now." Alex had to let go of Nathan so she bent down and forced him to loosen his grip on her, instead she took his little hand in her own and held it. Standing back up, he wrapped his free arm around her leg.

"He's gonna have the death grip on you for a long time." Jo commented, "He's been asking for you for the past two weeks."

Alex looked down at him and smiled at him, he grinned back. Bobby walked over to them and Alex looked back up, speaking as she did so, "You're in trouble."

Bobby looked stunned, "What? W-Why?"

"Cause I hear this is your idea."

Jo and Eric grinned, looking at Bobby who stared back at them, "Y-you weren't supposed t-to tell her whose idea it was."

They laughed, "Well, I never did do as I was told." Eric explained, laughing. Mike looked at Bobby's upset face and laughed as well, this had to be worth it in his opinion.

"You're not really in trouble." Alex said, taking it back.

Bobby frowned, "No?" She shook her head, "Then why did you...?" He let his sentence slip, nodding, he realised why she'd done it, she was doing what she was always did; get the better of him. Bobby turned away in time to see Carolyn walk over with Wheeler, Mike's new younger partner.

"Mike, don't you think you're forgetting something?" Carolyn asked him with a grin.

Mike looked at her and then at Wheeler. "Oh. Right." He snapped his fingers and looked at Alex, who frowned. "Alex, this is my new partner Megan Wheeler." Mike turned to Carolyn, who rolled her eyes. "Good enough for you, Barek?" Wheeler smiled

"It'll have to do." Carolyn replied, shaking her head.

Wheeler decided to be a bit more upfront and introduce herself, "I'm Megan Wheeler." She held out her hand to Alex, who slowly took it.

"Alex Eames." They shook hands and then let go.

"So, you're his..." Wheeler looked from Mike to Alex and stopped speaking.

Alex smirked, "That would be me."

"This is kind of awkward." Wheeler commented quietly, unsure of who Alex was and what to say. Frustrated with herself for being that way, this wasn't her. Snap out of it.

"It's getting there." Alex had heard her.

"Oh, I didn't mean..." Alex held up her hand for her to stop talking.

"No, it's okay." Alex grinned, looking at Mike before continuing; noticing his amused expression. "So you know Captain Ross?"

Wheeler nodded, "Yes. We've worked together in the past."

"So, you can tell us if we're in for a rough ride or not?"

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Seeing everyone in the same room had been a reminder to Alex that life does go on. Seeing Nathan had reminded her of her own life, and what she'd done in the past. The words of Olivet still ringing in her mind. She'd succeeded in escaping a serial killer that would've had no hesitation when it came to killing her.

She had done the right thing. Maybe it would take a while for her to forget the screams of Amanda and maybe it'd be a while before she could replace the blinds on her windows but she had her family.

She had a support system.

But was she faking it? She felt that throughout the entire party she wasn't all there still and she just kept looking to Mike, as if he was an anchor to reality for her. She'd always been a good actress that's what made her so effective at being undercover.

"What you thinking?" Mike asked, as they laid down on the bed, side by side; him on his side facing her as she was on her back looking up at the ceiling.

Alex shrugged, "Lots of things." She turned to her side to face him and their noses brushed each other and she smiled. She moved a little so that she was a little lower, resting her head under his chin and allowing him to wrap his arms around her shoulders.

Mike didn't bother asking her what those 'lots of things' were, he figured she'd tell him when she wanted to, if she wanted to. She moved again and he was surprised by it, he thought she was falling to sleep. She pulled away from him and rested her head on her pillow, still facing him, she looked into his eyes and stayed there for a moment. "What?"

She smiled, "Thank you."

Mike frowned a little, confused by the gratitude and unsure of where it was coming from, "For what?"

Smiling softly, "For putting up with all of this, you didn't have to. You could've left at any time but you didn't."

Mike nodded for a moment, feeling how serious she was but never one to allow the tone to fall to gravely serious he said, "I could've left? Oh, now she tells me." Alex laughed quietly. "Your welcome." He grinned at her and kissed her gently, barely touching her lips but enough so that some contact was made. "Do I get a thank you gift?"

A grin broke out on Alex's face that Mike was welcomed to see, if that was his gift then he figured he'd be happy with it but when she used her index finger to indicate for him to come closer to her, he realised that his gift was much more fun than that. Without hesitation he pulled his body over hers.

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