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One Last Time

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Alex stared into empty space, wondering how she'd managed to get into such a mess. Being in prison, she could deal with but life never seemed to stop trying to bring her down. The first blow was her mum, then it was Piper, then it was prison and then it was Piper and goddamn fucking Larry. How she could even be with such a whiny and pathetic man was beyond her - but Alex was done trying with Piper Chapman. That girl deserved not a single second more of her time. She still couldn't believe that even after how far they had come over the last month, she was just able to throw it all away in some desperate attempt to save a relationship that was never going to work. Alex sighed, scolding herself internally for still thinking about her. She had better things to do then trying to figure out Chapman. She lay back on her bed and buried her head into her pillow - as great as Nicky was with the whole comforting thing, nothing seemed to make Alex feel better. Besides alcohol, of course. Unfortunately alcohol was rather rare to come by.

The next morning, Alex woke groggily from her sleep. She got up slowly, dressed and headed straight to breakfast - she didn't feel like having a shower today. She got her customary one piece of fruit and sat down at a table by herself. As she was eating, she scanned the canteen, it was still pretty empty - the only people in there being Nichols, Morello and Piper, who sat on her own table. Hunched over her food. Alex's eyes lingered on Piper for a moment before she shook her head and resigned herself to concentrating as much as she could on her food. She could feel eyes burning into her, but she ignored the feeling. She finished most of her food, standing up to throw the rest away and then walking back to her cube. She slumped back down onto the bed, looking at her meager possessions.
"I fucking hate prison." She muttered under her breath. Reaching over to her drawer, she grabbed her book and found her page, starting to read. Alex read for the rest of the breakfast period and then the bell rung for work. She sighed, chucked her book down on her bed and stalked down to the laundry room. She didn't particularly enjoy her job, but it was better than most - she had to admit. She got to stand in peace for most of the day in a warm room, and there was always something for her to do which meant less time for her to brood. Of course, the only down side was that she had to work with Pennsatucky and her bible basher buddy Leanne.

"God" She sighed as she began to fold laundry; still groggy from sleep.

"You better be sayin' that to praise the Great Lord!" A voice shouted from outside the door.

Alex rolled her eyes; it wasn't hard to figure out who that was. "Shut up Pennsatucky," She spat, "I'm not in the mood for your shit today."

"Ooooh, well - you might want to be in the mood or else I'm gonna get college stuck in the SHU forever" A bruised and purple faced Pennsatucky drawled as she entered the room, a smug smile already stamped on her face.

"What?" Alex asked, confused as to why her face was the colour of an eggplant and slightly annoyed at the turn the conversation had taken.

"Oh yeah, that's right - you see these bruises?" Pennsatucky gestured to her face, "Oh yeah, they're all your precious Chapman's work." She snickered.

"Yeah right, very funny." Alex retorted, "Shut the fuck up about her and let me get on with work, okay?"

Pennsatucky looked almost disappointed that Alex didn't rise to her taunts but she knew better by now than to push her luck with Vause. She didn't want a repeat, she had to wash her mouth out ten times after Vause had kissed her in the canteen. There was no way Vause wasn't going to hell for that.

Pennsatucky's words bothered Alex though, that much was clear. As she got on with her work, finally left in peace, she couldn't help but think back to the Christmas pageant, trying to remember if Piper was there or not. She could have sworn she saw her sitting at the top near the doors but she had vanished near the end. 

"Fuck" she muttered to herself, she had to stop herself from dropping the laundry and running to find her - no doubt Pennsatucky would have taken out her revenge by now. "Stay calm Alex. She got herself into this mess..." She reminded herself. When lunch came around though it was all Alex could do to stop herself from sprinting towards the canteen, she had to find Piper and just see her to know that she was okay. Her eyes scanned the room and the blonde haired woman was nowhere to be seen. Alex saw Nicky though and strode towards her.

"Hey," Alex said, not waiting to give Nicky a chance to reply. "Have you seen Piper? It's an emergency." Alex did her best to keep her tone relaxed but she knew that her eyes gave away the panic she felt inside.

"She wasn't at work today, last place I saw her was in the corridor that heads out towards the track." Nicky responded, "What's so important anyway?" She asked after.

Alex nodded, chewing the inside of her cheek as she processed the information. "I just need her to tell me about something that happened before..before here.. but I guess it can wait." Alex shrugged doing her best to act nonchalant about it. It wasn't easy. Any appetite she once had was gone and so she just sat down at the table with Nicky, Morello and the rest and watched them eat. The lunch hour seemed to tick by slower than ever but soon enough it was over and Alex raced out of the canteen and towards the track.

It didn't take Alex long to find piper, leaning against a tree. As far as she could tell, she looked fine. There were no visible marks on her face. She stopped walking far enough that Piper wouldn't notice her standing and watching. She heard the door behind her open and Morello's voice quietly reached out to her, asking if she was okay. Alex only managed a nod before she turned around to look at her friend.

"Can you go and check on Piper? I'm worried about her... but don't tell her that." Alex asked, she knew Morello would do it and so walked back inside without waiting for an answer; she headed straight for the laundry room to find that Pennsatucky was gone.

"Where's your crazy purple friend?" She spoke out loud towards Leanne.

"Infirmary." The woman replied bluntly.

Alex sighed and went about her work as the hours ticked on, finally it was time for dinner. There was no sign of Piper again and so Alex went and found Morello, asking her about what happened.

Morello smiled happily at her friend, "She just said that she was thinking and she didn't have to work because she was throwing up all morning after breakfast." Morello paused to pick up her tray, "Probably just some new stomach bug going around." She dismissed, walking over to the table to eat.

Alex smiled and thanked her before walking out of the canteen and down towards the Ghetto dorm, and towards Piper's cube. As much as she was angry with the blonde woman, she just had to see if Pennsatucky was really telling the truth. Alex walked quietly into the dorm and closer towards Piper's cube. She looked over the small wall at the sleeping woman she so loved but hated at the same time and saw, just as she had seen before, that she looked fine. Tired, but fine. As Piper rolled over though, she saw pain flash over her face even in her unconscious state and as her arms moved to cover her ribs Alex saw the cuts and bruises that distinctly marked each knuckle. Alex brought her hands up to her head and massaged her temples. 'What have you done, pipes?' She thought to herself. She walked into Piper's cube, still being quiet so she wouldn't wake her and took a closer look. She gently nudged the bottom of Piper's top up to the see what appeared to be the end of a very long, painful bruise that must run the whole side of her body. Alex could tell it was on both sides - the uncomfortable way Piper was laying on her bunk was proof enough.

"Thought you didn't want anything to do with me." Piper muttered without opening her eyes.

"I don't," Alex replied cooly, glad that Piper hadn't opened her eyes and seen the distraught look in her own pair. "Just had to check that you really had got yourself into another fucking mess." She continued before getting up, turning on her heel and walking out of the dorm and towards the library.