She tried to stay away. She really did. But despite what she said, despite what she wanted, cutting Piper out of her world and out of her heart wasn’t as simple as just saying the words. She told Nicky she didn’t care. She told Lorna, and Boo, and Taystee, and Poussey that she didn’t care. She told herself she didn’t care. But she did. She cared.
She had nightmares about Piper screaming in a small, dark box, pulling out her hair and clawing at her skin, driven half mad from isolation. She heard Piper’s voice, small and scared, as it had been in the chapel when they had curled up together after making love and Piper had told her what being in SHU was like. She worried about Piper, out there, all alone, with no one to talk to and no one to hold. It terrified her to think of what shape Piper would be in when she got out.
When the day finally arrived, it was Nicky who told her that Piper had been released. Alex had started joking the moment Nicky entered the little cell Alex called home, but when Nicky sat on the end of her bed, unusually quiet and somber, Alex had stopped talking.
“It’s Chapman,” Nicky stated turning to face Alex.
Nicky’s words hit Alex in the chest like a sledgehammer. She wished they hadn’t. She didn’t want to still care so much that just the sound of Piper’s name could knock the wind out of her. But her heart was a treacherous bastard that had no regard for the good advice her mind tried to give it, and Alex ended up showing how much she still cared by breathing in sharply and blinking too many times.
“She’s out,” Nicky continued flatly, turning away from Alex.
“That’s good,” Alex breathed out. She was striving for nonchalance and the effort showed. “Five weeks is a long time to be alone with yourself,” she commented lightly as she stared out past the opening to her cell, watching the other inmates go by. “A girl can only masturbate so much,” she added, grinning at Nicky as she nudged the woman’s thigh with her foot. “What? Not even a smile? It wasn’t that bad a joke,” Alex murmured, maintaining the smile on her face through sheer force of will as she gazed at Nicky, waiting for the woman to look over at her.
“It wasn’t a good one either,” Nicky muttered, as she turned her head to the side to meet Alex’s gaze. “We don’t give out participation badges around here, Slim,” she continued, a little smile touching her lips.
The response heartened Alex, and the look in her eyes finally came to match the smile on her face.
“Well, I guess it’s a good thing I have other skills,” Alex murmured suggestively, stroking Nicky’s thigh with her foot.
“Like what? Gigantism?” Nicky cracked.
Alex made an offended face and extended her leg, kicking Nicky lightly. She tried to maintain her peeved expression, but when Nicky just grinned at her, she couldn’t stop from smiling back.
They gazed at each other fondly for a few moments and the tension that had been in the air since Nicky entered the cell began to dissipate. Things became almost comfortable between them, but Alex’s mind refused to remain pleasantly blank and eventually her thoughts drifted back to Piper which sobered her expression.
“Why delay the inevitable?” Nicky sighed, turning the face the wall instead of the woman beside her.
“What?” Alex blinked quickly as her mind struggled to orient itself back to her conversation with Nicky instead of obsessing over how Piper was doing.
“This waiting game,” Nicky said flatly, waving vaguely at Alex’s immobile form. “You know you’re gonna go see her. Could as well get it over with.”
“I’m not gonna go see her,” Alex scoffed, shaking her head to emphasize what a ridiculous idea that was.
In response to that, Nicky just stared at her, clearly not believing a word Alex had said.
“I’m not.” Alex‘s voice and expression were serious as she focused her eyes on Nicky. “I’m done with her,” she stated firmly. “Listen, she’s a big girl. She got herself into this and she can take care of her shit in the aftermath. If there’s one thing Piper’s good at it’s looking after herself,” Alex continued, hating the note of bitterness that crept into her voice, but unable to do anything about it. “Jesus, come on Nick,” Alex complained when Nicky continued to stare at her dubiously. “I’m not gonna talk to Piper.”
“If you say so,” Nicky breathed out.
She still clearly didn’t believe Alex, but she broke the staring contest they’d been locked into, not willing or not wanting to push the issue anymore.
“I say so,” Alex stated firmly.
“Alright,” Nicky breathed out, holding up her hands placatingly. “You busy?”
“Swamped,” Alex replied without missing a beat, and Nicky grinned at her.
“You wanna get out of here?” Nicky asked jerking her head towards the door of the cell.
“There’s nothing I want more,” Alex replied, throwing her legs over the edge of her cot.
“What about Charlize Theron as your sex slave?”
Alex shrugged. “We’ll always have my dreams,” she sighed.
“Pervert,” Nicky accused playfully as she rose to their feet. “Tell me more about these dreams. I need to know for important reasons such as science.”
“Science?” Alex asked, arching an incredulous eyebrow at Nicky as they entered the hallway and automatically turned in the direction of the chapel. “You mean the science of turning me on?” she asked waggling her eyebrows at Nicky before biting down on her bottom lip coquettishly.
“Please,” Nicky exhaled, waving her hand dismissively. “We both know I’ve already got a PHd in Pussy.”
“Oh yeah?” Alex chuckled. “Where’d you go to school for that?”
“‘Eat Me’ U.”
Alex’s self-imposed Pipertorium lasted until morning when they met in the showers.
“Jesus!” was the first thing that came out of Alex’s mouth when she got her first look at the blonde.
Piper had lost weight in SHU, a lot of weight and she’d been too thin to begin with. Dark circles were entrenched under her eyes, and her hair was dull and listless and tangled. Piper looked like death, not even warmed over, and despite everything Alex had been telling herself, despite everything she had spent the previous day telling Nicky, all she wanted to do presently was take Piper into her arms and cradle her.
“Charmer,” Piper responded hoarsely, her lips twitching up quickly in what Alex was sure was an attempt at a smile, though it looked more like a grimace. “You always know just what to say to make a girl feel special.”
“Sorry,” Alex breathed out, realizing that she had sounded rude as hell. “You just--”
“Look like ass?” Piper interjected.
“Sort of,” Alex admitted, and Piper’s lips curved up again and almost managed to form an expression that resembled a smile.
“I’m sure I look better than Tiffany,” Piper breathed out, her smile fading as she looked away from Alex, retreating inside of herself as she remembered just what she had done to land herself in the SHU.
“She’s gonna be okay, you know,” Alex offered. She lifted her hand and moved it towards Piper, but she stopped herself before she made contact with the blonde’s skin. “I mean, she’s nothing to look at at the moment … but she never was,” she added, smiling at her own joke.
Piper turned towards her and stared at her blankly.
“It’s not funny,” Piper whispered tremulously. Her voice was flat and her eyes downcast. “I nearly killed her.” Piper blinked once and then again and again in quick succession. “I nearly killed a person. I nearly beat another human being to death. That … it’s … it’s not funny.” By the time she finished speaking, Piper’s voice was barely audible, and she was shaking faintly as tears trailed down her cheeks.
“I know it’s not,” Alex said softly, looking down at the floor, appropriately chagrined. “I’m sorry.”
She looked up at Piper hesitantly and watched her for a few seconds. Piper had stopped shaking, but her eyes were still blinking in overtime trying to hold back tears that continued to escape despite Piper’s best efforts. The sight of her made Alex’s heart ache, and she cursed herself mentally for her weakness.
“Come ‘ere,” Alex breathed out, even as she told herself that she was making a huge mistake.
She opened her arms and Piper immediately moved towards her. Alex wrapped her arms around Piper’s small frame. Piper burrowed into the warmth of her embrace, and Alex’s eyes closed as she tightened her arms around Piper.
“You’re gonna be okay, kid,” Alex whispered as she rubbed her hands up and down Piper’s back soothingly, tears threatening to fall from her own eyes as she felt Piper’s tears wetting her chest.
“I dunno,” Piper said tremulously, shaking her head back and forth as her thin frame began to quake again. “There was blood on my hands. There was … so much,” Piper breathed out, clutching at Alex desperately. “I did that. How can I … how does someone … come back from that? I know now. I know what I’m capable of.”
“We’re all capable of it,” Alex breathed out, pressing a kiss to the top of Piper’s bowed head. “It’s one of the really shitty qualities that make us human. You were just defending yourself,” she stated firmly.
After Piper had been taken away by the guards, Taystee had told them all about the dead rat and the Amalekite letter Doggett had left in Piper’s cell, and she’d told them about what she’d walked in on Doggett and her shitty crew of meth-heads doing to Piper in the shower.
“You have a right to defend yourself,” Alex told her gently. “You did what you had to do. That’s what we do in here. What we have to, to survive.”
“I know,” Piper said, pulling back from Alex a little bit so that she could see her face. “In my head I know that. She was trying to stab me. I was screaming and Healy, he just … he just walked away. He knew what was … god, he hates me so much. He just walked away, he just left, and I was so scared. She said it was time for me to die, Alex. I know I did what I had to, but … but what if I did more than I had to?” Piper asked, her eyes wide, and terrified as she gazed up at Alex. “She’s small, Alex. She’s really small. I don’t think I had to …” Piper took a shuddering breath. “I didn’t have to hit her so much. I wanted to hurt her. I did. I wanted to hurt her.”
“Of course you did,” Alex breathed out, reaching up to take Piper’s face in her hands. “She’s fucking nuts. She is an inbred, homophobic, zealot, murderer whose brain is as rotted as her teeth, and she was terrorizing you. She attacked you, twice in one day. That shit would get to anyone, Pipes,” Alex stated firmly, holding Piper’s eyes intently. “You did what you had to.” Alex paused for a moment. “Say it.” Piper squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. “Say it,” Alex repeated firmly.
“I did what I had to,” Piper whispered as she opened her eyes.
“That’s right. You did what you had to,” Alex repeated, and then she drew Piper towards her and wrapped her up in her arms again.
They stayed like that for a while, until Piper’s breathing began to even out.
“When was the last time you had a shower?” Alex asked, pulling away from Piper enough that she could see her face.
“Are you telling me I smell?” Piper asked indignantly, though a small smile that was recognizable as a smile touched her lips.
“I am. Piper Chapman, you are ripe,” Alex replied, her voice gentle and teasing.
Piper looked away from her, blushing.
“I didn’t like to shower over there,” she whispered. “They have male guards watch you. It’s humiliating. I couldn’t bear it most days.”
Alex closed her eyes as an intense feeling of rage built up inside of her at the thought of the motherfucking, power-tripping, pervert, asshole, sadistic fucks that ran the prison. It was like the application process for jobs in the penitentiary system were tailored to ensure the employment of the people most likely to debase, dehumanize, abuse, degrade and otherwise humiliate the powerless at every available turn. It was so fucked up.
“That’s so fucked up,” Alex breathed out, hating how powerless she was to help. “Come on,” she sighed a moment later, turning her mind to something that she actually could do. “Let’s get you cleaned up,” she breathed out, starting to angle them towards the nearest shower stall.
“Alex, no,” Piper exhaled, reaching out to clutch at Alex’s hand. “We’ll get in trouble, we’ll …”
“It’s early, and Fischer’s on duty,” Alex said calmly, covering Piper’s hand with her own. “She’s okay. She’s still operating under the delusion that we’re still human beings. It’ll be fine. Just relax,” she continued, trying not to wince as Piper’s hand squeezed at her. Piper looked frail, but there was still strength in her body. As always, her looks were deceiving. “Trust me?” Alex asked, dipping her head down so that she could look into Piper’s eyes.
“Okay then,” Alex replied and then she turned to the side and reached out to pull the nearest shower curtain open.
At breakfast Piper was quiet and ravenous. She sat hunched over the table shoveling food into her mouth with desperate abandon, pausing only to breathe and look over at Alex who was leaning back in her chair, casually cool, seemingly unaware of the tray of food sitting in front of her. Lorna carried the conversation at the table with Alex making the occasional pithy comment to help things along. Nicky was unusually quiet. She spent her time picking at her food absently and looking back and forth between Alex and Piper.
She’d noticed their staggered arrival.
When Piper’s tray was empty, Alex looked over at her and drawled, “Do you have a hollow leg or something?” and Piper made a face at her before muttering, “If I called what they give you to eat in SHU shit, it would be an insult to shit. I can’t remember the last time I ate something that didn’t make me gag. I’m hungry, okay? Sue me.”
Alex held up her hands in peace and then a moment later pushed her tray over to Piper. Piper stared at the tray for a moment, and then looked over at Alex murmured, ‘Thank you.’ Alex replied with shrug and cavalier, ‘Whatever,’ then turned her attention back to Lorna.
Lorna picked up her list of gossip where she’d left off.
Piper hunched over Alex’s tray and began to eat again.
Alex laughed at something Lorna said, and made a wry, amusing observation.
Every once in a while Piper’s eyes would lift from her food and focus on Alex. When they did Alex’s eyes would shift over to meet Piper’s and her lips would curve up just the slightest bit before she focused on Lorna again.
Nicky crossed her arms and stared moodily out into the cafeteria.
She wasn’t surprised, but it still hurt.
She’d lost Lorna to a beautiful dream, and now she’d lost Alex to one too.
Nicky looked up. She was sitting on the ground in the yard up against the fence. It was cold, the view was depressing, and until Alex showed up she’d been utterly alone. It suited her current mood perfectly.
“If you believe that you’re as deluded as Chapman,” Nicky breathed out, turning away from Alex.
It was her fault really, for getting invested. Because she’d known it would end up this way but she’d still let herself dream. When her hand had been in Alex’s pants that first time and Alex had rested her forehead against Nicky’s, staring into her eyes as her breath came fast and rough, Nicky had let herself imagine months of them sharing moments like that; years even, of laughing, and throwing food at each other, and staring into each other’s eyes. But then Piper had showed up, and even though Alex had sent her packing, Alex’s eyes had followed Piper as she shuffled off, and Nicky had known that one day Piper and Alex were going to end up starting their mornings by fucking in broom closets again. She just hadn’t expected it to be so soon. She’d made the mistake of giving Alex credit.
“We talked,” Alex said, lowering herself onto the ground beside Nicky. “I wasn’t trying to see her. I just wanted a shower,” Alex stated pleadingly, looking over at Nicky who pointedly refused to meet her gaze. “Nicky,” Alex breathed out helplessly. “She’d just spent five weeks rotting underground. I couldn’t just ignore her.”
“Of course not,” Nicky replied. “She needed you,” she breathed out contemptuously. “How could you possibly resist wrapping her shivering little body in your big, strong arms? You’re so full of shit,” Nicky declared shaking her head. “The two of you deserve each other. Mrs. and Mrs. Asshole. And hey, you’ve already got Hers & Hers outfits. It’s perfect.”
“Nicky,” Alex sighed, “we didn’t do anything.”
It was relatively true. Sure, they’d taken a shower together, she’d washed Piper’s hair, she’d scrubbed her skin clean, she’d held her, kissed her shoulder one time, but they hadn’t kissed on the mouth, they hadn’t touched each other in a sexual way. She didn’t want Piper back. She was just trying to be supportive. She was just comforting her. She had been the opposite of an asshole really. She had been a decent human being. She’d loved Piper. She wasn’t some kind of sociopathic fuck who could see someone she cared about falling apart and just walk away. She’d done what she had to.
“Yeah, yet,” Nicky said pushing herself onto her feet.
“Yet?” Alex repeated hotly, standing as well. “Fuck you, ‘yet’!” she declared. “I talk to Piper once and suddenly I’m the Tiger Woods of Lichfield? Christ! What do you want from me?”
“Nothing,” Nicky said, looking away from Alex. “I don’t want a fucking thing,” she declared.
She started to walk away.
“So we’re done?” Alex asked following after her. “I talk, just fucking talk, to Piper and my ass is on the curb while the crowd chants ‘Maury!’?”
“Yeah,” Nicky replied, twisting to look behind at Alex. “It was fun, man. Swing by my crib the next time Chapman hops off your dick and you need a face to sit on. I’m always good for a pick-me up fuck. You know what they say, ‘I didn’t choose the Rebound Fuck Toy Life, the Rebound Fuck Toy Life choose me,’” Nicky continued with a Kanye-shrug. “Señora,” she said, saluting Alex, and then she ducked into Luschek’s room where she knew Alex could not follow.
Alex came to a stop outside of the classroom and watched the door slowly swing shut.
“Fuck,” she breathed out, “Me.”
A week later
“You can talk, you know,” Piper said with feigned nonchalance as they sat together in the library. “To me,” she continued, pointing to herself awkwardly which made Alex smile despite herself. “About things,” Piper went on, speaking slowly and precisely. “That may or may not be bothering you, possibly relating to close acquaintances that you are now definitely fighting with.”
“We’re not fighting,” Alex replied, feigning nonchalance much better than Piper.
“Well, you’re not friend-ing either,” Piper replied, giving Alex her serious face.
Alex looked up and arched a questioning eyebrow at Piper.
“Is there, any sort of filtering process that happens in your brain before the words fall out of your mouth?” she asked dryly.
“Yes. It sounded fine in my head,” Piper muttered, glowering at Alex for a moment before she smiled at her a little. “But, getting back to what’s truly important here, you two were like a super sarcastic Harry & Ron before I went to SHU, and now you don’t even acknowledge each other. It’s weird. I feel like now you wouldn’t even piss on each other if the other was on fire.”
“Piper,” Alex began seriously. “This isn’t some fucked up attempt to satisfy your watersports fetish by getting me to say I want to piss on Nicky, is it?”
“What?” Piper asked, jerking back and making a face. “No! God! No! Shut up, it’s a saying.”
“Okay,” Alex breathed out nodding placatingly.
“Don’t say it like that,” Piper complained, and Alex laughed. “Really, don’t say it like that. It’s a saying, Alex. I don’t…”
“Have a watersports fetish?” Alex asked, grinning over at Piper.
“No, I don’t. And can you not?” Piper asked, looking around to see if anyone had been close enough to hear what Alex was saying.
“Not what? Say, ‘watersports fetish’? Or imply that you, Piper Chapman have a watersports fetish? Or …”
“I hate you so much right now,” Piper muttered, glowering petulantly at Alex.
“I know,” Alex said understandingly, and then she grinned.
“You haven’t successfully distracted me,” Piper informed Alex a minute later, just when the brunette looked back down at her book. “I still want to know why you and Nicky are acting like strangers.”
“I’m not acting like anything,” Alex sighed before giving a helpless little shrug. And it was true. She’d tried to talk to Nicky on numerous occasions, but Nicky wasn’t having any of it. All of Alex’s attempts were met with clever and caustic replies that made her feel as small as Larry. “It is what it is, okay?”
“No, not okay,” Piper replied gently, reaching out for Alex’s hand which she took comfortingly into her own. “People don’t just suddenly stop being friends. Even in here. Something happened. What was it?”
“The possibility of evil,” Alex breathed out, smiling sadly. “She thinks I’m an asshole.”
“I thought that was what she liked best about you,” Piper replied, and Alex laughed out loud before her expression sobered again.
“Me too,” Alex murmured, looking away from Piper. “People change, I guess. I mean, look at me. My hair doesn’t have blue tips anymore. Anything is possible.”
Piper’s lips crept up in a slow smile as she looked at Alex, and she shook her head, unable to help how adorable she found Alex at that moment.
“Alex,” Piper whined.
“Piper,” Alex whined back.
“I know you said we weren’t before, but we’re friends now, right? And as your friend, I want to help you ease your burdens. You’ve been so good to me.” Piper squeezed Alex’s hand tightly. “Let me be there for you now.”
“You wanna be here for me?” Alex asked, arching her eyebrow at Piper.
“By forcing me to talk about something I clearly don’t want to talk about, but which you’re clearly interested in?”
“It sounds bad when you say it like that,” Piper replied, refusing to answer Alex’s question the way it was worded. “Sometimes people don’t always want to do things that they should do. I’m just … as your friend, trying to support you and convey to you that you can do … the thing.”
“That I don’t want to?”
“Thanks,” Alex breathed out sarcastically.
“We were fucking okay?” Alex asked before Piper could start badgering her anew.
“For how long?” Piper asked immediately, her eyes narrowing at Alex as she spoke.
“Seriously, Piper?” Alex asked sharply, sounding deeply annoyed as she tilted her glasses back to rest atop her head. “Since about two hours after you chose suburban sedation over free-falling through life with me. That’s for how long. You ended us. You don’t get to be fucking pissed about how quickly someone else literally got into my pants.”
Piper stared at her intently for a long moment, her jaw clenching and unclenching rhythmically.
“Okay. You’re right,” Piper breathed out eventually, nodding slowly as she leaned back in her chair. “I’m sorry,” she continued. “Sorry,” she apologized, holding up her hands in the universal gesture of peace. “Your vagina, your business,” she stated.
Alex’s lips twitched slightly, and she hated herself for wanting to smile.
“Fine. Whatever. I accept your apology,” Alex muttered under her breath.
Alex looked back down at her book then, and for a few minutes they were silent, Alex pretending to read while Piper openly stared at her.
“What happened? Between you?” Piper asked breaking the brief quiet. “Why are you two … you know, no longer fucking?” she inquired, her eyebrow knitting together in confusion.
“Is it really so hard to imagine someone not wanting to fuck me?” Alex asked.
“Honestly? Yes,” Piper replied, her lips curving up in a wicked smile as her eyes raked over Alex appreciatively. “You’re really good. If there was a school of fucking you’d be the valedictorian. They shouldn’t even call it fucking anymore, it should be Vauseing in honor of how consistently fucking good you are.”
Alex breathed in and out deeply, hoping that it would make her less aroused.
“You,” Alex exhaled before laughing humorlessly.
“Me what?” Piper asked.
“You’re the reason Nicky and I aren’t fucking anymore, okay? She said it was inevitable that we would end up humping again. She called us Mrs. & Mrs. Asshole, she dropped the mic and she’s been freezing me out ever since.”
“Oh,” Piper breathed out as she looked down at the table top. She toyed carelessly with the book that was resting on the table for half a minute and then she looked back over at Alex. “Are we? I mean, is it?”
“Is what?” Alex asked tiredly.
“Inevitable?” Piper replied. “I mean, are we inevitably going to end up humping again?”
“I wouldn’t know, would I?” Alex said carefully, watching Piper wearily. “But precedent would suggest …” she trailed off.
“Do you want that? Me, I mean. Us … again. Is trying us again something you’d want?” Piper whispered.
“Is Larry still not returning your calls?” Alex asked impassively.
“This isn’t about Larry.”
“So he’s still not returning your calls then?” Alex surmised.
“I haven’t called him,” Piper replied. “Not since that first time when I’d just got out of SHU. I swear, Alex,” Piper said pleadingly, “this isn’t about Larry. I…I had a lot of time to think when I was down there. Too much time really, but sometimes too much is just what you need, you know? Sometimes too much, is actually … perfect,” she breathed out, smiling a little bit as she looked over at Alex.
“I was thinking back, you know, on the last few years, and about what I thought my future would be and … it’s so serene, a calm lake on a winter morning, not a ripple on the water. It was like a Japanese stone garden, you know, peaceful, controlled … routine. It didn’t comfort me at all, Alex. It didn’t warm my heart. Those thoughts couldn’t sustain me, they didn’t give me hope … they couldn’t make me smile. But when I thought of you,” Piper smiled, large and beautiful as she remembered the feelings that had blossomed inside of her in that pit when she remembered Alex, that blossomed inside of her at that moment as she gazed across the table at Alex.
Alex’s eyes squeezed shut, as if by blocking out the sight of Piper she could block out the feelings Piper’s words made rise up inside of her. They’d danced this dance before, and Alex tried to make herself remembered how terribly it had ended both of those times. She was done with the Piper whirlwind. She was over it. She wasn’t going to set herself up for heartbreak again, because she knew what was coming. She’s lived through what was coming twice before. Being moved by Piper’s words, wanting to believe them, it was naïve, and moronic, and pathetic. She wouldn’t do it. Despite her racing heart, and the yearning in her chest, she wouldn’t do it. She wouldn’t give in again.
“You scare me more than anyone else, more than anything else I’ve ever known in life,” Piper continued, drawing Alex out of her thoughts. “I want you so much, I love you so much, that I … I just couldn’t imagine being able to survive it. I couldn’t imagine what a future with you would look like. I still don’t know. But I can imagine a present with you,” Piper whispered, reaching for Alex’s hand again as she blinked back tears. “And the future … will come. I want passion. I want to be scared. I want possibility. I want to look at you and feel so much love that it feels like dying. Somebody tried to kill me, but I’m here. I defended myself. I survived. I couldn’t have imagined that before this place. I’ve accomplished things here, whether I wanted to or not, that I never thought I could do. I…I learned that I can free fall,” Piper breathed out happily. “I can deal. I don’t need to have a plan. I wanna do X on a beach in Cambodia with strangers in drag,” she declared.
Alex covered her face with her hands and sighed deeply.
“This is insane,” she muttered, shaking her head as her eyes fell upon Piper again and a wave of warmth flowed through her body. “We’ve danced this dance already,” Alex declared, closing her eyes against the onslaught of love and want and adoration that washed over her as she gazed at the blonde.
Stupid! She was so stupid! Wanting Piper, loving Piper, it was fucking idiotic! But when she looked at Piper, when she was near her, when she heard her voice, all she wanted was more. More Piper, more of the warmth she made her feel, more of the smiles she brought to her face, more of the peace she felt with Piper wrapped up in her arms, more of the insane, pounding desire she felt when Piper’s bare skin was beneath her lips and fingers. She loved the woman. She fucking loved her. Stupid or not. Nicky was right about her. It was inevitable that she would end up gravitating back towards Piper. She had been as deluded about her ability to stay away from Piper as Piper had been about her ability to stay away from her when she’d first arrived at Lichfield. They were a mess together, but they were a beautiful, and stupid as it was, Alex wanted her back.
“I know,” Piper breathed out, squeezing Alex’s hand tightly. “But please, Alex please … just take me for one more twirl.”
“Fuck,” Alex sighed, and with that exhalation she resigned herself to her fate.
Alex pulled her hand out of Piper’s, and then, heedless of Fischer who was standing 10 meters away, she leaned across the table, took Piper’s face into her hands, and pulled Piper into a kiss.
“No touching!” Fischer yelled almost immediately, no doubt drawing the attention of the entire library over to them. “Inmates! Stop touching! Bad! Stop I say! Stop!” she continued as she quickly made her over to them. “If you don’t separate I will write BOTH of you up!”
Alex pulled back from Piper’s lips and settled back into her seat, lifting her hands up in surrender as she did.
“Sorry,” she said apologetically, dropping her glasses back down onto her nose. “I just get really excited when someone else knows all the words to the Golden Girls theme song,” she told Fischer, and across from her Piper covered her mouth with her hand, hoping to mask her laughter.
“No you don’t,” Fischer told her, looking over at Piper who tried (and failed) to look chagrined. “That was lesbian romance,” Fischer told them decisively, and Alex had to bite down on her bottom lip to stop herself from laughing. “Now, I support love in all its forms, but there’s a time and a place, ladies. There are rules that need to be followed. So, if you want to avoid spending more time apart make sure you keep your expressions of affection there … in those places … at those times. And only then,” she pronounced, staring at Alex for a moment and then turning to stare at Piper. “Okay?”
“Got it,” Alex replied as seriously as she could manage.
“Totally,” Piper replied nodding soberly.
“Good,” Fischer declared. “I know you all think I’m the nice one, but I’ll bring the hammer down if I have to so just … time and place,” she finished, pointing at each of them in turn. She glared at them both for another moment until she seemed to think they looked suitably chastised, and then her expression gentled and she leaned in conspiratorially and whispered, “Congratulations. You two are really cute together,” before she straightened up, hooked her thumbs in her belt and put on her hardass expression again as she walked away.
“Alex?” Piper tentatively ventured when Fischer was back where she had been standing before they had kissed.
“Yeah?” Alex breathed out.
“Do you maybe want to get out of here?” Piper asked shyly, hopefully, as a little smile tugged up the corners of her lips.
Piper’s eyes were crinkled at the corners in that way Alex found absolutely adorable, and Alex couldn’t stop help grinning at Piper like the blonde was the most precious thing in the universe.
“I do, Piper. I think that’s a fantastic idea,” Alex murmured, firmly closing the book that had been laid out in front of her.
Piper smiled at her happily and then eagerly rose to her feet and sent a desperate prayer to Mr. Christ that the chapel was empty.
A week later
“I come bearing chocolate,” Alex declared as she entered Nicky’s cell, holding up the Coffee Crisp bar for Nicky to see before she tossed it over to the woman who was lounging on her bunk.
“Bribery is it now?” Nicky asked, picking up the chocolate bar from where it had landed in her lap.
“Time tested and true,” Alex replied with a shrug. “Besides, the commissary was all out of diamonds.”
Nicky smirked at that, and Alex felt her spirits lift a little. It was the most encouraging response she’d gotten from Nicky since the day Nicky had told her to essentially go fuck herself in front of Luschek’s room.
“Can I?” Alex gestured towards the foot of Nicky’s bed.
“I don’t know, can you?” Nicky retorted, and Alex made a face at her and muttered “ha ha” before she moved further into the cell and took a seat on the end of Nicky’s bed. “So what brings you by?” Nicky asked when Alex was seated.
“The view,” Alex drawled without missing a beat.
“It is beautiful this time of day,” Nicky breathed out. “All the sad, exhausted faces trudging their way back to their dreary institutional grey cells. It warms the heart.”
“Yeah,” Alex laughed, glancing over at Nicky. “I might cry.”
“Pussy,” Nicky said, shaking her head.
“Not an insult,” Alex replied smiling and Nicky grinned at her. “Listen,” Alex began a moment later, and Nicky groaned piteously and shut her eyes.
“Oh god,” she moaned.
“Nicky,” Alex tried again.
“Where’s the Rapture when you need it,” Nicky breathed out.
“I just want to …”
“I know what you want to do,” Nicky interjected before Alex could continue. “Resist the urge,” she continued, meeting Alex’s eyes and holding them. “We’re fine, okay,” she said. “You love her.” Nicky shrugged in helpless, ‘what can you do?’ fashion. “And you never promised me shit, so whatever. I get it, you never meant to hurt me, you really thought that you were over her but then you saw her again and blah blah blah. Love makes us assholes. So, you know, fuck drama. Let’s just get back to mocking people.”
For a moment Alex looked like she was going to try and keep things serious, maybe even try apologizing again, but she thought better of it, and Nicky was grateful. The truth was, she missed joking around with Alex over the past few weeks, and she wanted her friend back. It fucking sucked she wasn’t going to get to feel Alex’s fingers inside of her again, but being a punk ass bitch about it was only going to end up hurting her in the long run. That being said, she didn’t really have it in her to keep trying to assuage Alex’s guilt. She didn’t want to keep talking about it so that Alex could feel better. She just wanted to move on, move past it, whatever. She just didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
“You’re a classy broad, Nicky,” Alex breathed out finally.
“Oh, stop sucking up,” Nicky replied teasingly making Alex smile.
“I mean it,” Alex commented a moment later, staring forward at the wall opposite Nicky’s bunk. “You’re good people.”
Nicky nodded a couple of times, and then, still staring forward at the wall, she reached out to give Alex’s thigh a quick squeeze. “I awkwardly acknowledge your words,” Nicky breathed out before pulling her hand back. “The cockles of my heart are warmed.”
Alex turned to face Nicky.
“You said cockles.”
Nicky turned to face Alex as well and they gazed at each other for a moment, and then they started to laugh.
“So how was your day?” Nicky asked when their laughter abated.
Alex breathed in sharply and an absolutely aghast look came onto her face.
“Some of the women in here are disgusting,” Alex said, shuddering a little. “You wouldn’t believe what I found in the washing this morning …”
Piper and Alex lay facing either other on Alex’s bunk. Stewart was on duty and they knew from experience that he wouldn’t bother them about lying together as long as they kept their cloths on and didn’t engage in any overly heavy petting. A small, mysterious little smile played across Piper’s lips as she traced Alex’s features softly, almost reverently.
“What?” Alex whispered curiously, a smile touching her own lips as she searched Piper’s face.
“Nothing,” Piper breathed out, though she smiled even wider.
“Nothing,” Alex repeated, her voice playfully mocking.
“Stop it,” Piper complained lightly, pushing Alex on the shoulder lightly.
“What were you thinking?” Alex asked, smiling.
“You,” Piper began slowly, pressing her right index finger into Alex’s chest, “Look like Wonder Woman.”
“Wonder Woman?” Alex asked laughing.
“Yes, Wonder Woman,” Piper replied. “Don’t look at me like that. It’s true. You’re like a gazillion feet tall…”
“A gazillion feet ten inches, but whatever,” Alex interjected, which made Piper smile.
“You’ve got that raven-hair, electric blue eyes combo.”
“It’s a good combo. I picked it out myself,” Alex cut in, and Piper shoved at her shoulder. “Oh sorry, didn’t mean to get in the way of your fan-girling,” Alex added, and when Piper reached out to push her again she caught Piper’s hands and they wrestled with each other teasingly for a few moments. “Well?” Alex asked eventually.
“Well what?” Piper asked, pouting at little.
“How else am I like Wonder Woman?”
Piper stared at her defiantly for a moment, contemplating not continuing after the mockery she had just endured, but when Alex smiled at her, she couldn’t keep pretending that she was upset.
“You’re a force of nature,” Piper breathed out wondrously, scanning Alex’s features with a look of awe. “I’d kneel down before you in worship,” she whispered, her eyes twinkling as her lips pulled up teasingly.
“Yeah you would,” Alex drawled, leaning forward so that she could bring their lips together. “And for the record, I’d totally protect your livestock and guarantee you a good harvest,” she continued when she pulled back from Piper’s lips. “You give good worship.”
“I give great worship,” Piper whispered.
Alex smiled. “Yeah?”
“I worshipped you to three orgasms this morning, didn’t I?” Piper breathed out.
“Indeed. Your Amazon Princess was very satisfied with your devotions,” Alex told gently, before drawing her into another brief kiss. “Maybe I’ll tie you up with my golden lasso later to properly thank you.”
“Mm,” Piper hummed. “Or you could punch your way out of this hell-hole and fly us to Hawaii.”
“I’ll get right on that,” Alex drawled dryly.
Piper smiled at Alex and then reached out and poked her on the nose.
“You’re silly,” she breathed out.
“You’re the one who wants me to punch my way out of Lichfield, and I’m the silly one?” Alex asked.
“Yeah,” Piper replied, nodding somberly.
“Because I said it first,” Piper answered, and Alex rolled her eyes before a helpless smile touched her lips.
“There’s an airtight argument if I’ve ever heard one,” Alex replied and Piper laughed before stretching forward to place a quick kiss on Alex’s lips.
When they separated again, Alex noticed a blur of movement behind Piper’s body and looked up in time to see Nicky breezing into the cell.
“Emma, Regina, chop chop! Let’s go,” Nicky said, clapping her hands together above them three times in quick succession.
“Why?” Alex asked.
“Trust me,” Nicky replied, nodding a few times before smiling. “Chapman, dude. Move your ass,” she continued, lifting her leg to give Piper’s ass a little kick. “Come on! If you two make me miss this, shit’s gonna get real.”
Alex turned her eyes to Piper who smiled and shrugged, confused but obviously game.
“You heard her,” Alex said in response to Piper’s look. “Move your ass,” she continued grinning. “Obey your princess,” she added cheekily, and Piper narrowed her eyes at at her before she inelegantly rolled herself off of Alex’s cot and onto her feet.
“That sounds interesting,” Nicky commented, looking between the two of them with interest. “Lady and maid-servant role-play? ‘What happens in the Royal Chambers, stays in the Royal Chamber’s right?”
“Not this time,” Piper replied offhandedly, and Nicky looked over at her wide-eyed while Alex chuckled. “She looks like Wonder Woman, doesn’t she?” Piper went on, gesturing towards Alex as the three of them made their way out of the cell. “Like I know I’m half-nuts, but she does look like Wonder Woman, doesn’t she?”
“I’d have gone with Xena myself,” Nicky replied, thoughtfully. “I mean, she’s the one with the blonde, overly talkative, lady-gay, side- …”
Piper gasped and shoved Nicky in the shoulder.
“I am not Gabrielle!”