Vivian Arroyo was never one to go against her father, but ever since Malcolm Bright was back into her everyday life, Gil took notice that she started to do what Malcolm did.
Almost exactly, apart from the whole not calling for help thing that Malcolm couldn’t seem to do. Vivian always knew when she was in over her head, she got that from her mother. And God, was Gil thankful for that.
But he knew something had to be up when she was bouncing her leg like a maniac under the desk she claimed in the main room of the NYPD precinct, clicking around with the mouse and occasionally typing.
They were between cases for the time being, the FBI still cleaning out the meeting room of information they had on the new serial killer.
“Viv,” Gil started softly once he perched himself on the clean outer edge of the desk, watching his daughter still bouncing her leg. “Are you okay?”
“Me? ‘M fine,” Vivian replied, her eyes still glued to the computer screen as her hands flew across the keyboard to type.
“No,” Gil started easily, reaching a hand out to place on Vivian’s when she reached the mouse just after he turned the monitor of her computer off. “I don’t think you are.”
“Gil, I am fine,” Vivian insisted firmly, looking up at her father through her long, curled eyelashes. Gil stood his ground, not at all scared that his little girl was trying to get him off her back.
“Vivian Arroyo, you are not.” Gil pushed off the edge and carefully laced his hand with hers, starting to kneel on the ground to be leveled somewhat so Vivian could stop craning her neck. “You can talk to me, you know that right?”
Vivian sighed almost aggressively and let it happen, running a freehand over her face in faux annoyance. He knew this act. She didn’t want anyone in the NYPD to think that Gil gave her special treatment, and soon she'd start to speak in a lower octave. Little did they know, everyone found their relationship—work and family—adorable.
“I know, Dad. It's just.." Vivian trailed off quietly, seeming to almost hesitate with her reasoning. Gil took that moment as her eyes wandered to tilt his head like he used to when she was younger to let her know she's safe.
"I'm worried about Malcolm," she finally spat out, looking down at their intertwined hands, gently twisting Gil's fingers with her own.
Gil quirked an eyebrow at that. He expected to get the answer at their Daddy-Daughter Dinner Date (or as Vivian jokingly calls it: Triple D, although there are four D's and they're not cooking any Guy Fieri recipes). Regardless, it was still a pleasant surprise he wasn't going to have to coerce it out of her with an old recipe of her mother's he's perfected a few nights ago.
Vivian's eyes finally locked on the agents still cleaning up their evidence.
Gil tried to resist the urge to be anymore fatherly in the moment, knowing he'd get scolded by her. “Malcolm’s fine, Vi. Sure, he’s pissed about the FBI taking our case, but he’s fine.”
“He’s still got bruises from being face to face with Paul that need to be iced,” Vivian shot back, barely tilting her head to glance at him as he held his kneeling position.
“But he’s still fine.”
Vivian snorted softly and started to thumb at the wedding band Gil still wore, her gaze turning back to her lap where their hands laid. “Sure, Dad.”
“How’s about this,” Gil started gently, “you take the rest of the day off and relax. You’ve been non-stop since you got back on the team and I think you’ve earned it.”
Vivian tried to keep her face neutral the best she could and let out a sigh, glancing down at her hopeful father’s face.
“I guess have been pushing it too hard, haven’t I?”
“You said it, not me kid.” Gil tried to hide the chuckle he felt bubbling in his throat, grunting quietly as he finally stood up, Vivian still holding onto his hands.
Gil and Vivian shared a laugh before she finally agreed with him, their hands finally separating.
"Thanks. I appreciate it, old man. We're still having dinner tonight, right?" Vivian asked, starting to log off on her computer before reaching for a few papers on the desk.
The face Gil pulled made Vivian laugh loudly once she stood from her chair, his arms spread out almost like he was asking for a hug.
"Obviously! I've been looking forward to it for the past two weeks!"
Vivian kept giggling as she quickly gave Gil a hug, letting out a groan at the kiss he planted on her head before saying her goodbyes to get the rest of her things from the lockers in the back of the precinct and head back to her apartment.
However, she wasn't heading back to her place.
After she came back from grabbing her crossbody bag and other small things she keeps forgetting to lug home, she rushed over to one of the printer trays and sifted through the papers once she made sure that her father wasn't out of his office.
The second her eyes found the FBI certified papers on the information they've been collecting since they've taken over the Paul Lazar case, she knew that she was really doing this.
It was a bit reckless for her tastes, but she had a hunch, and she couldn't ignore it.
Taking a breath, Vivian was quick to be sure she had all the papers she printed off before folding them and carefully shoving them into the open compartment of her bag.
At that point, she knew she was in the home stretch. Vivian told herself to keep her cool and gave a final wave to a few other colleagues in the NYPD.
She was on her own mission now.
And that mission was getting to Malcolm Bright’s apartment to relay information since he was off for the day.
Coffee made things better, didn't it?
Vivian can recall many times coffee has perked up her mood. Whether it be a frappe of some kind from Starbucks in the summer, all the way to maybe a Caramel or White Chocolate Mocha in the colder seasons.
That's how she convinced herself that maybe she should get a peace offering for Malcolm, since she had no candy on her at all.
Maybe it was so he didn't get mad that she was going to try and keep pushing for them to work on the case, but who can say no to an adequately priced holiday drink that's out way too early for it to be considered Christmas themed in the first place? Hopefully, not Malcolm.
The coffee shop she gravitated into was a small, local shop she usually frequents. No tourists made the line unbearable to stand in with their constant chatter, and it was close to the precinct. The perfect stop, really.
The shop was warm. It was accompanied by a nice rustic look thanks to the different wood accents they had floating through the place, and kind servers who didn't take much shit from people who thought they were superior to them even if they worked in customer service.
That could more than likely be a reason why the coffee shop wasn't so popular, but Vivian likes to think of it as her own little find. A hole in the wall coffee shop that's close to the precinct where she could escape the work day and focus on her own things for a bit.
"A large Caramel Mocha and a large Gingerbread Latte, please," Vivian said kindly, already holding her wallet as she shifted on her feet, Claire, one of the many barista's that worked at the coffee shop that knew her, punching in the order before saying her total.
"I could have sworn I heard you complaining about the early Christmas drinks just yesterday, Vivian," Claire teased easily as she took Vivian's ten dollar bill, the register hitting her thighs so she could get the change.
"Yeah, I know. It's a peace offering coffee though, so I'm still annoyed by all of this Christmas bullshit when it's barely the middle of November." Vivian held her hand out as she was given her change, laughing with Claire.
"I couldn't agree more with that. I'll have your drinks done in a minute, sweetheart." Claire smiled and winked Vivian's way before she grabbed two cups, starting to work on the order.
Vivian most certainly did blush due to the wink and nickname as she placed her change in the tip jar, taking a seat close by the opposite end of the main counter to wait for her order.
Most of the wait for the drinks was spent scrolling through her phone. Variating from Twitter to Instagram to her Snapchat she rarely used before finally answering a few texts she'd gotten throughout her work day she still had to reply to. She did momentarily hover over her and Malcolm's texts with the thought to text him that she had some news, but she thought against it. She remembered him saying that he was going to be with Sunshine watching movies, afterall.
When her name was called, Vivian was quick to thank Claire and shove a small splash stick into Malcolm's drink before both of the obnoxiously decorated cups were in her cold hands as she walked out into the cold afternoon New York provided.
Vivian was very thankful she memorized Malcolm's address in this moment as she waited at the last crosswalk, still sipping at her Mocha before noticing black ink in the shape of a nine under her thumb.
Furrowing her eyebrows together in confusion, she took a moment to really look at her cup, noticing more numbers on it.
Did.. Did Claire write her number on the cup?
Vivian felt her cheeks burn suddenly, not sure if it was from being flustered or just the fact that someone actually gave her their number. A cute girl, nonetheless.
Hell, she had no clue if she'd even text it.
Regardless, it gave her a small extra ounce confidence to continue the short trek to Malcolm's once she took her mind off it, crossing the crosswalk with a few other people at the same time before she turned a corner, eyeing the small pieces of glass that was just in front of his front door.
She'd have to ask what that was about.
Vivian took one last sip of her drink before letting a pinky out to press the doorbell. The wind picked up which caused Vivian to shudder as she got no buzz in.
Maybe he wasn't home, even though he said he was going to be?
Vivian didn't bother trying to buzz in again as she put down the drinks on the door steps, starting to look under whatever she could to find a spare key.
Because knowing Malcolm Bright for a vast majority of his life, he could easily lose his keys. It was his party trick.
Vivian started with some of the potted plans that were lined up on both walls, picking them up and looking under them and on the bottoms of the pots themselves.
When she found nothing, she then moved on to looking around to see where else Malcolm could potentially hide his key.
Until she stepped on a loose piece of concrete on the sidewalk just off on the right side of the doorsteps that led up to his door.
She was quick to squat again, gently tugging at that piece of concrete to be welcomed with a small baggie that had a set of two keys on a ring. Vivian assumed one was for the main door downstairs, and then another door inside.
Once everything was back in it's rightful place besides the keys—which stayed hooked on Vivian's index finger—she grabbed the drinks once she unlocked the first door, seeing a single flight of stairs that led up to the main floor of Malcolm's apartment.
And the door was open.
Not wide open, but at the very least three inches.
If Vivian had claimed she was here on official NYPD business, she'd have her gun to protect herself in this moment. Because who the hell knows what trouble Malcolm gets into in his spare time? Certainly not her, but it would be nice to know from time to time so everyone back at the precinct would know he's still breathing.
"Malcolm?" She called out as she carefully walked up the stairs, taking in the looks of his apparently huge apartment space from the angle she was climbing these steps at. "I just came by to drop off some stuff about Paul. I even got you a Gingerbread Latte!"
Vivian would be lying that she was confused when she heard soft chirping noises as she carefully toed open the main door.
She would also be lying if she didn't almost split two hot coffees on her hands when she made eye contact with a shirtless Malcolm and some almost naked woman once she rounded the corner to look into Malcolm's bedroom.
"I uhm," Vivian started awkwardly, successfully cutting Malcolm off as she felt her heart clench in her chest. Why was her heart clenching? "I just came to uh, drop off some case work and.. and coffee."
She smiled painfully as she was quick to walk over to the kitchen, leaving the two of them to their own devices.
Her breathing had significantly picked up once she placed the coffees and the small ring of keys down on the counter top of Malcolm's quite large kitchenette. Was it even a kitchenette?
Vivian ignored the shaking of her hands as she opened her crossbody bag and tugged out the FBI files before placing them on the countertop next to Malcolm's coffee just as he padded over, pulling a random sweater on.
It felt like she was punched in the gut.
"Vivian, hey," Malcolm started gently, taking one last glance over his shoulder at the blonde woman that was now somewhat clothed on his bed, sending him a sickly sweet smile which he happily returned.
It made Vivian's stomach churn.
"What did you say about case work?" He questioned gently, reaching over at the papers she'd placed down just a few minutes ago.
"More information on the Lazar case," Vivian spoke quietly, shifting on her feet. She doesn't belong here. She shouldn't be here. "I, um, just wanted to drop it off. I knew you were just as pissed as I was about losing the case to the FBI and everything."
Malcolm's eyes widened slightly when he looked at official FBI certification emblems once the papers were unfolded. "Viv, how.. how did you get this?"
Vivian shrugged as she grabbed her coffee once she made sure her bag was zipped shut, "I had a few tricks up my sleeve."
She tried to ignore the second pair of eyes she could feel on her as Malcolm nervously thanked her for the findings, placing them back on the counter.
"You.. You didn't have to do this, Vivian. I can accept—"
"Bullshit. I wouldn't let the FBI take a case we've gotten so far on. Just," Vivian huffed before taking a small sip of her scalding hot coffee, ignoring the pain in her mouth before clearing her throat to speak again, "look it over, text me if you think of anything that could help us conduct our own investigation under the radar."
Malcolm's smile released some tension Vivian could feel in her chest before he pulled her in for a quick hug as a thank you.
"I'll text you whenever I've connected some things, okay? Tell Gil I say hi when you go over for dinner tonight." Malcolm's expression was genuine once the two pulled away from the hug.
Something in Vivian was aching to be back in his arms. Maybe it was because of his warmth, or maybe she's suddenly wishing she was in the blonde's place.
(No, no, no. It had to be because of his warmth, her mind insisted. Only because of his warmth.)
Vivian arched a brow for a moment, mouthing words that didn't want to leave her weirdly dry throat.
Malcolm thankfully put her out of her misery and answered the question she couldn't find the words for.
"You mentioned it to me earlier in the week when we were waiting for Edrisa in the morgue. Are you okay, Viv?"
"I'm fine! Completely fine!" Vivian started, her voice higher in pitch which earned her a skeptical look from Malcolm. "Really. Just ran into someone at the coffee shop that spooked me. Totally fine."
Malcolm did whatever Gil does whenever he doesn't buy what Vivian was selling. His arms crossed over his chest with his eyebrows cocked up in questioning.
How did he even master that so fast?
Vivian let out a shaky sigh and walked over to the bird cage she saw when she came in, smiling at the colorful bird inside.
"I'm okay." She turned to look at Malcolm, mustering the most genuine smile she could in that moment while everything in her was going haywire. "Seriously. I'll let you get back to—"
"Back to what?" Malcolm started before he followed where Vivian had pointed at the blonde who was lounging on his bed, picking at her nails. It seemed like in the light of getting some side-work, he had forgotten about her.
It did make Vivian feel a little better, even though she felt terrible for thinking it.
Malcolm seemed to be knocked back into reality at the situation Vivian happened to walk in on before letting out a soft sigh.
"Right. Sorry for keeping you, Vivian. Get to Gil's safe okay?"
Vivian gave Malcolm a nod with the fake smile that seemed to appease him before she saw herself out after saying a quick goodbye to the parakeet she was unaware he even owned.
Once the cool air hit Vivian as she stood on the doorstep of Malcolm's apartment one thing was most definitely present in the front of her mind.
She had some feelings Malcolm Bright. And it took her walking in on him and his potential new girlfriend to realize it.