Making Friends

“Why are you crying, hun?” she asked, rubbing his shoulder gently. “Were they mean to you already?” At his nod, she sighed. “Poor kid. It’s all right. I’ll put them in their place right now.”

“Geez, what a baby,” one of them – Daniel – grumbled.

Clara stood, then. “He’s not a baby,” she snapped. “He’s an innocent. You know as well as I do that they’re more demonstrative of their emotions.”

“They also make better undercover officers than any other gender,” a new voice said. That was the squad leader. He sighed deeply and added, “Change of plans. Daniel, you are now Nathan’s partner. Clara, you get to work with the new guy.”

“Why do I gotta work with him?” Daniel squawked.

Alexander looked up, rubbing his eyes. As the squad leader rolled his eyes and headed back into his office, he looked at Clara. “Is he just an ass?” he asked, rubbing at his eyes again.

“Yes, Alexander,” she said, smiling gently. “He’s an ass.”

“Hey,” Daniel squawked.

Nathan laughed softly. “God, I love working with innocents. They say exactly what’s on their minds,” he said. Then, shaking his head, he went back to his work.

Alexander felt his lips twitch in a smile. So, it seemed that Daniel was prickly and Nathan was just the sort that teased everyone. It was, in neither case, personal. He looked up at Clara. “If we’re going to be partners, you may feel free to call me Al.”

“Well, thank you for that,” Clara said. She smoothed his hair and shook her head. “You’ve got quite the smile, Al. Lights up a room.”

“Robin tells me that all the time,” Alexander said, grinning at her. He swung his feet and then looked back at his computer. “He was my partner in the organized crime squad. We live together, but we’re just friends.”

“Good to know you’ve got someone looking after you,” Clara said, as she took her seat.

“Hey, Al,” Nathan called. “How old are you anyway?”

“Chronologically speaking,” Alexander said, “I’m twenty.” He knew, though, that Nathan meant his emotional age. In a softer voice, he added, “I test to eight under most circumstances, sometimes it’s more like six.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Nathan said, nodding. He shrugged and smirked. “Clarie will tell you, I’m a tease. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“I’d figured that out,” Alexander said, giving him a weak smile. He shook his head and added, “Everything that happened in the organized crime squad… I’m more sensitive about what other people are thinking and doing. I… had no idea about Henry, until I found those call records.”

“No hard feelings, then?” Nathan said.

Alexander shook his head. “No hard feelings,” he repeated. He just hoped that Nathan, Daniel and the squad leader would come to trust him. He also hoped that he could reach the point where he trusted them enough to tell them the truth. Cyril was dead, but that served to make his actions less suspicious. So far, only Charles has been implicated in Henry’s crimes.

Sighing softly, Alexander got back to work.

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