For hours there have been single tears leaking past her defences every so often. As much as she’s tried, she can’t completely suppress them. There’s too much built up inside her to be contained.
Yet when Alex finally starts crying outright, it’s not an explosion of hysterical sobs. It’s a quiet shaking of shoulders and a cascade of hot moisture coating her cheeks. Birkhoff doesn’t hear a thing from the other side of the wall. Nikita wouldn’t know about her breakdown either if she wasn’t right there in the room with her, even now reaching out to comfort her.
Though Nikita has witnessed her crying before, Alex has never let Nikita go so far as to actually wipe her tears away for her, too determined to stand on her own. So for a split second Alex considers turning away and stepping out of Nikita’s reach, keeping this weakness to herself. But she knows she couldn’t have survived finding out the truth about her mother without Nikita’s support, and she’d only be fooling herself to pretend otherwise. Besides, she sees that the look in Nikita’s eyes right now isn’t pity, but rather understanding. Surely there’s no need to hide herself away from someone who so intimately knows her pain.
Arms encircle her – arms that are far stronger than they appear, but that are eminently gentle in this moment – and Alex allows herself to lean into the hug, burying her face against Nikita’s neck. Her lips trace the pulse point there. Maybe it’s a simple gesture of thank you. Maybe it’s something else. Alex is all around too confused right now to know her own motivations for certain. All she knows is that Nikita doesn’t stiffen against her or push her away. She merely turns and presses a kiss of her own to Alex’s forehead.
She tightens her grasp on Nikita’s waist and realises that it feels like strength is being shared between them.
Alex has no idea what it means, and whether this connection she can feel will remain so strangely intense when Michael returns and Alex most likely stops being Nikita’s main focus. But for now it feels like old times; just the two of them against the world.
No, she decides, it’s actually better than that. For the first time, Alex truly feels like they’re equals.
She wants that feeling to last.