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Just A Friendly Gesture

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It was a typical day at work for Holly McIntyre, Joey Suarez, and Nick Bellows.
“23 year old female dead. Suspected suicide, possible homicide” Holly read from her case notes. She glanced up at Joey, who was listening intently, but had her eyes focused on Nick. Nick was also listening intently, but he was staring at the ground.

Holly continued reading. “No family in the state, no children, never married. She had a cat named Juan but when we did a home search he was very friendly so I don’t think he was the cause”

“Well if it were suicide, maybe it was because she was lonely, Holly. I don’t think the cat’s attitude would have much to do with it.” Nick said condescendingly.

Holly glared at him and continued: “We contacted the woman’s parents, who now live in Oklahoma. They are coming to get her things from her apartment tomorrow.”

“How do you know the cat’s name?” Joey asked.

“Oh, Joey, you naïve little baby seal.” Holly began. “I know everything about my cases”

Nick and Joey glanced at each other. “Well, on that note, I will be leaving. I’ll be back soon, though, gonna go do a bit of research on my own.” Nick said as he hopped off of Holly’s desk and put the sunglasses he had previously been wearing on his head onto his face.

Holly watched him leave. As soon as the door was closed, she quickly whispered, “Nick thinks I have an eating disorder.”

Joey knew Nick was right, but she didn’t want to upset her friend. Not today. So instead of telling her she agreed with Nick, She just said “no way.”

“Yep, I don’t know where he gets the nerve to even bring it up! I mean, I’m not even skinny, so how could I have an eating disorder. Ugh, I can’t stand him”

“Holly. He’s your best friend except for me. He just cares about you.”

“JOEY!” Holly exclaimed. “I just want to feel pretty, is that too much to ask?!”

“Holly. You’re beautiful.”

“You’re just saying that.” Holly whispered. “I-“

She was going to say more, but Nick walked back in.

“Forgot my coffee.” He said. He grabbed his coffee and took a small sip. “Ugh, it’s warm.” Turning to Joey, he asked: “Joey, would you like to join me in a Starbucks run?”

“I’d be happy to!” And they were both gone.

*********************

Joey and Nick had made a pact not to talk about work outside of the office. They couldn’t do the same with Holly, because she was too into her work. Which, they thought, was a good thing, but it was nice to get a break every once in awhile.

They did, however, still use their skills they had not only naturally, but acquired through their work as well. “So what do you think that guy’s story is?” Nick asked, nodding towards a middle-aged man sitting on a chair near the corner of the room.

“Hmm… Went to school for journalism, probably (He was writing on a MacBook).” Joey replied.

“Thinks the price of his computer will affect the quality of his writing.” Nick added. Joey giggled at this fact. Partly because she knew it was true, but partly because of the way Nick looked at her when he said it. Like it was a secret that only they shared.

“Divorced. With children.” Joey continued.

*********************

Holly was doing more research on the 23-year-old-woman-suicide-but-probable-homicide case when Sharon walked in and dropped a stack of papers on her desk.

“This woman. She was crazy!” Sharon exclaimed.

“What? Who? How?” Holly asked, confused by the outburst.

“The 23 year old who committed suicide. She was crazy. Graham and I have been digging dirt since yesterday. Guess where she went everyday from 4 PM to 7 PM?”

“Where?”

“The gym. The goddamn gym. Who the hell goes to the gym for 3 hours a day? DURING DINNER TIME.”

“Uhm, people who want to be healthy?” Holly said, thinking about how much she herself needed to go to the gym.

“I don’t know, but obviously she hated herself or loved herself. It’s hard to tell which sometimes.”

“Alright, I’ll take a look at your notes. We’ll get this figured out”

*********************

Joey and Nick came back into the office, talking and laughing. When they walked into Holly’s office, she was passed out on her desk, surrounded by a mess of unorganized case notes.

“Holly, go home, you’re tired.” Joey said as she shook her colleagues arm gently. “Wake up, Holly.”

“Is she always this heavy of a sleeper?”

“No, usually she jolts out of bed at the slightest noise” Joey replied. “HOLLY WAKE UP!”

“Good god she isn’t moving!”

“Holly? Holly!” Joey continued to shake her, but now with more force.

Sharon and Graham came in the room at the same time, both simultaneously shouting “What happened?!”

“I don’t know, just calm down everyone!” Nick shouted. He pushed Joey out of the way and picked Holly up. “Call 911!” He shouted as he left her office.

“I’m on it.” Joey followed him.

They laid Holly down on a bench in the hallway and put a cold rag on her forehead. Nick watched her for a moment to make sure her chest was still rising, and then falling. It was. He took a deep breath and wrapped his arm around Joey. Joey, in reply, put her head on his shoulder.

“She’s still breathing, I think she’s coming around, too. Her eyes are twitching.”

“Good. Well, there’s the ambulance.”

Nick picked Holly up once more, and met the stretcher right below the stairs outside the office. The paramedics didn’t ask any questions, they just loaded her up into the ambulance and drove away.

“Well, I’m gonna go home now. It’s been a long day.” Joey said to Nick.

“Alright, I think I’m gonna stay here for awhile.” Nick hadn’t realized that his and Joey’s hand were now intertwined until Joey pulled away. She smiled at him. Holding her gaze, Nick bent down to kiss her.

The kiss lasted maybe 2 seconds, if that. Joey pulled away a little. “Wow.” She said.

“What? Just a friendly gesture.” They both stood up straight.

“That was everything but friendly, Nick” He wrapped his pinky around hers, gave it a squeeze, and then let go.

He smiled “See you tomorrow” and turned on his heel to leave.

*********************

Holly woke up in an empty hospital room surrounded by only one bouquet of flowers, and a box that looked like a takeout box from a restaurant. She opened the box. Waffles. Damnit Nick.

“Hey.” Holly heard Nick’s voice. She looked up in time to see him turning the corner into her room.

“Why, Nick? Why can’t you just let me be happy?”

“Because, Holly, you almost killed yourself today. I know the reason you passed out was because you hadn’t eaten in so long. I care about you Holly. That’s why. Now eat your waffles”

She couldn’t help but smile at him and take a bite of the crisp-yet-amazingly-fluffy waffle. Delicious, even without syrup.

I left those case notes you were working with over here. He gravitated toward the pile of paperwork on the small nightstand beside Holly’s hospital bed. “Homicide.”

“What?”

“Homicide. This woman was murdered.”

“How do you know?”

“I know everything about my cases.” Nick teased.

“Well, who murdered her?”

“A guy at a party. Witnesses said he was stalking her. Like, hiding under tables and behind doors. Wherever she was, he was. And when she left, he followed her all the way into her apartment. Hid in the kitchen until she came in to make herself a glass of wine, and then he threw her out the window and left. One nosy neighbor saw him walk in after she had already been home for about 5 minutes.”

“Neighbors. I didn’t have time to interview the neighbors. Damn.”

“Don’t worry, this case is yours.”

“No, Nick, you saved my life. I can’t just let you give me a case too.”

“You deserve it. You work harder than anyone here, and sometimes a good case is all you need to pull through.”

“Thank you.”

“You better eat that entire waffle, Holly.” Nick said jokingly. “I’ll be watching you”

“Will you now?”

“Well, not today. I’ve got a couple dogs and a couch to get home to”

She punched him gently on the arm. “Thanks, Nick.”

He smiled and left. He was famous for doing that.