David was awake in his kitchen a little bit earlier than he normally likes. Ever since he and Patrick had been staying home in quarantine, he had been getting out of bed before 10 a.m.--something that he definitely wasn't used to. Now, in May 2020, though, it seemed like he wasn't really used to anything. Now, finally, after two months of desperate online orders from Rose Apothecary, the store was opened with a two customer limit. Because of the limited hours, he and Patrick got to spend some more time together at the house, and their new favorite activity together was sitting at their table and drinking coffee. Each day, however, they had a third presence around them: David's perpetual worrying.
Whenever David felt like moping around or complaining about staying inside, he reminded himself that he was lucky enough to be in Canada. Rather than worrying about himself in mostly-safe Schitt's Creek, he spent the bulk of his energy worrying about Alexis. He had been able to deal with Alexis's countless international and often dangerous adventures, but his sister living in New York City all alone in the middle of a pandemic gave him more anxiety than he was willing to admit to anyone. Patrick had an idea that he was more worried than he was letting on, and the phone calls pouring into Alexis's phone every day from him were a tip-off, but David was trying to play it cool.
She always sounded okay on the phone, but only David could see a spark dulling in Alexis's eye over FaceTime. It worried him. It had been a long year or so for Alexis. Between the move, the new job, losing the likely love her life, and now a pandemic, David knew that she had to have been having a harder time than she was letting on. He just couldn't fix it.
Alexis willed herself out of bed at around 11 a.m. Work was slow because no one really needed a publicist and New York City was closed anyway. She was happy, she was, but she would never admit to anyone that she was lonely. Sure, the independent woman taking New York by storm was a really cute look for her, but it wasn't until she had been in the city for about a month that she realized just how alone she was even with millions of people buzzing around her.
It took Alexis a long time to accept that missing her family wasn't crazy. Maybe in her money-filled adventures, she didn't miss them, but she also didn't know them. After spending three and a half years in two joined rooms, she had gotten to know and actually love her family. All of a sudden, her dad was willing to put work aside, and her mom decided to be an unconventional but real mom. David was always a great brother, but their time in their shared motel room had allowed them to grow up and act like siblings and friends at the same time. Now, at 30 years old, Alexis was back living alone. She knew she could call them, and David called almost annoyingly on schedule once a day. It was just that...she felt weird calling her parents. She talked to them enough to keep them updated, but her biggest fear from when they announced they would be living in Los Angeles remained: that things would go back to the way they were before they showed up in Schitt's Creek.
Then, there was the whole Ted issue. The thought of him, of them, didn't hurt quite as much as it did when she first moved last year, but she tried to avoid thinking about him. She tried to avoid feeling that pang in her chest every time she heard a pun or saw a turtle--a pang that still occurs at least a few times a week. Her family knows it's a touchy subject, so they don't ask about her love life much, but if they did, Alexis would be too embarrassed to tell them that her last kiss was with Ted over a year ago. She was starting to think she would never get over him. At times, she felt like a fraud; her independent woman persona was totally her, but sometimes she wondered if she would be better off right now living in the Galapagos rather than all alone in a city where she can't even leave her apartment. She wondered how the Galapagos was affected by all this--surely not to the extent of NYC, but it was a pandemic after all.
Every day was pretty much the same. Wake up, skincare, fix hair, change into CUTE sweats, see if there is any work to do, discover there isn't, talk to David, debate calling her parents, decide not to, and watch TV. She would eat dinner at around 6:30 p.m. and watch some more TV. Nighttime was generally the time of day that she didn't look forward to. She would move from being alone in her little living room to be alone in her little bedroom with her too-big king bed and turn on that TV. Most nights, as she sat there, tears would slip down her face, a cruel act of which she never gave permission. Then, she would sleep. She would wake up. She would do it all over again.
"Call her," Patrick instructed the next day when he and David were drinking their coffee. David was rocking back and forth in his chair with his blank eyes occasionally looking at his upright phone. "I know you want to, and I know you're worried. Just call her."
"Call who?" David asked, knowing who Patrick meant but wanting to brush off the worry that may or may not have been there.
Patrick rolled his eyes. "Call your sister. I know you usually call her later in the day, but I'm sure she isn't busy, and it can't hurt to talk to her now. David sighed at his husband's comment and placed his mug on the table, trading it for his phone.
"I will call Alexis, but please know that I am doing this because I believe she needs it. I'm not worried," David said, lying through his teeth. Patrick smirked and found it amusing that after all this time, David still couldn't admit that he was worried about his sister. Nonetheless, David tapped on Alexis's contact picture and waited for her to pick up.
"You okay, David?" Alexis asks through the phone. David shoots Patrick an I-told-you-so-face, proving that he and Alexis always talked later in the day.
"I'm fine," David replied mostly honestly. "I just wanted to see how you are."
"I'm, like, super busy with work. I guess PR doesn't even stop during a complete pandemic," Alexis replied half-heartedly. This tone of voice always worried David. "Can I call you back, like, a little later, David? I'm on a deadline."
David didn't believe her but agreed to let her go anyway. He told her to call back when she was finished work--work that she said just last week was "almost too slow to bear."
Little did David know that Alexis's nightly cry, for the first time, was moved to the morning that day. Hearing her brother's voice made her sad.
After her morning phone call with David, Alexis didn't have a great day. There was no work for her to do, she couldn't see anyone else, and her TV shows were getting old. Her day was bad enough that she really had no intention of calling David later that day. After she showered and completed her skincare, Alexis crawled into bed and quickly realized that the unplanned cry from the morning was not going to replace her nightly cry. She breathed deeply, but the tears fell anyway. Partially out of impulse and partially out of guilt for not doing so earlier, Alexis reached for her phone and tapped David's contact information. As it rang, Alexis wondered if David and Patrick would already be in bed at 10:45 p.m. She was a night owl. David eventually interrupted her thoughts.
"Alexis, what are you doing awake?" David asked without even saying hello. Alexis felt her eyes roll, and as they did, more tears fell.
"I'm not an old man, David," She replied, attempting to make her tears not audible. "Besides, I told you I would call back later, and now, I am." Alexis regretted her next move. She sniffed.
"Alexis, what's wrong?" David asked. Alexis stayed silent on the other side of the phone. "Alexis, answer me now. I heard you sniff. You are either crying or you are sick, and I will not sleep until you tell me that you are not sick and why you are crying.
Alexis replies simply by saying, "I'm not sick, David." She doesn't leave an indication that she is crying but secretly hopes that David will ask again. She finally feels like she needs to talk to somebody.
"Alexis, tell me what's wrong," David demanded. Alexis sniffed again but stayed otherwise silent. "Alexis," David repeated stiffly after a few moments. He heard Alexis take a breath.
"I miss you, okay? I miss you and Patrick, and I miss mom and dad. I--I can't leave my apartment, I hardly have a job, and I'm just like, like, all alone, and it sucks," Alexis spewed out. David couldn't believe how much she had just told him in a matter of seconds. Alexis sniffed again. Before David had composed some caring words to give back to her, Alexis continued with, "I'm just a bit lonely, and I'm not quite used to it yet."
David sucked in a breath. By now, Patrick was awake and could hear Alexis's high-pitched cries from David's phone. He looked at David, who was concerned that his sister, who didn't typically wear her heart on her sleeve with her family, was being so open about a serious problem. David moved closer to Patrick so that he could hear more closely.
"Alexis--" David began.
"Please don't do that, David," Alexis said with a breath, trying to invalidate her rant. "I know, there are people who have like so much worse than me and are actually going through stuff. You don't need to worry. I'm seriously fine."
Patrick looked at David and shook his head, his face also growing in concern. He wasn't used to this side of Alexis either. Even when she was so reliant on money and the men in her life, she was never reliant on the people closest to her.
"It's okay and completely if you aren't fine, Alexis," David told her. "You are in a city filled with billions of people, yet you have to be all alone. That's lonely, and you don't even get to really work right now which is the whole reason that you are there." He heard Alexis stiff again. He hated hearing Alexis cry but didn't want to tell her to stop. "One person's hard time doesn't make the next person's easier."
"David, I want to go home," Alexis cried, not realizing what she had just said. She was at home. New York City was her home...it just didn't feel like it at the moment.
David didn't know what to say. He hadn't known what his sister was going to say, but it definitely wasn't that. He had assumed that her life wasn't quite its best at the moment, but he hadn't known the extent.
"When you say home, do you mean--" David began.
"I mean Schitt's Creek," Alexis interrupted.
Patrick looked at David with his mouth half-open, and David looked more worried than he had in the past two months. There had been so many anxiety-inducing moments in the past couple of months, but the last four minutes on the phone with his sister were taking the cake. Not only had Alexis willingly shared emotions, something she normally only does in definitive moments of her life, but she had called Schitt's Creek, her former claim of misery, home."Here?" Patrick mouthed while attempting to make as little sound as possible. David nodded slightly, shocked.
"David?" Alexis muttered. The worst thing that could possibly happen would be for David to not answer her. She didn't actually know what she wanted, but she needed to talk everything out with her brother.
"Sorry, I'm just...processing." David stuttered. "You want to come here? To Schitt's Creek?" Alexis didn't respond. Instead, she continued to audibly sob. She was sad when she broke up with Mutt. She was devastated (and still probably is, David thinks) when she broke up with Ted. She was torn up when Moira and Johnny left for California. However, David had never heard her quite like this. Alexis still didn't respond. "Alexis, whatever is fine, but you need to talk to me."
"I don't know what I want, okay, David!" Alexis snapped, not in a mean way but rather a confused way. "There is just literally nothing here for me right now, and I don't know how I am supposed to do anything. It's stupid anyway. There is literally no way for me to get back to Schitt's Creek. I don't have a car here, and there's no way in hell I'm getting on a plane, and--"
"I'll pick you up," David shocked himself by saying softly. Patrick's look was even more shocked than his, but as David thought about it, he realized that if Alexis was in the same town as him, he wouldn't have to be so worried about her. She was miserable, and now that he knew, by extension, he would be miserable too. "Is that okay?" David mouthed silently to Patrick. Apprehensively, only because of the virus, Patrick nodded. He obviously knew that if something was getting to Alexis it was bad. Besides, his sister-in-law, who he more often than not called his sister, was someone who he considered family and loved.
Alexis, still crying, said: "David, there's no way I can let you do that. the drive is over eight hours one way, and there is hardly any place to stop, and it's way too long of a trip, and I came here to be independent. Look at me: I'm crying to my brother at 11 o'clock at night over the phone." She continued to cry, her face blushing and burning out of embarrassment. Was it better to be miserable and silent to keep your pride or embarrassed but happier by swallowing it?
"Well, there's no way I can just sit here knowing you are so down in your apartment alone," David said. He heard Alexis choke on a sob. "Pack up. I'll be there by tomorrow evening. Have some good food ready for me when I get to you. I'll be hungry."
"David, I'm fine. You don't need--" Alexis started.
"Nope," David said. "Swallow your pride, Alexis. You are not fine, and it's okay. Lots of people are leaving where they live, especially from where you are. I'll see you tomorrow night, and I'll call you on my way."
Alexis did what she was told and swallowed her pride. Her face was still burning, and her embarrassment wouldn't fade at least until the morning, but she knew that soon, she would be a little bit happier. David was right, just as her family had around five years ago, lots of families with full-fledged adult children were living together again. Family, Alexis had discovered, can make you feel happy, loved, and safe. That's what she needed.
"I love you, David."
True to his word, David showed up masked to Alexis's apartment at about 6 p.m. the following day after about 7.5 hours (thanks to a lack of traffic). He and Alexis ate dinner together in her kitchen: simple but delicious spaghetti and meatballs. They sat on Alexis's couch in her living room under a blanket and with popcorn and watched a movie together. They both slept in Alexis's bed just like they occasionally had when they were young and had had a rough or lonely day.
Alexis did have her nightly cry that day. As she realized that this was the first in-person connection she had had in about two months, the tears had flowed. All of her distancing and misery had led up to this moment, and the warmth of her brother next to her was enough to release her first set of happy tears that she could remember. As silent as she thought she was being, David heard her and put his hand at her shoulder.
"It's okay, Alexis. We'll both be home by tomorrow, and you don't have to be alone anymore. The faster you fall asleep, the faster you'll be there. With that, Alexis closed her eyes and reveled in how grateful she was that her family relationship had grown. There was no way the Roses would ever go back to the way they were before; they were bound together thanks to a town that they once hated but now called home.
When David and Alexis arrived at the house in Schitt's Creek the next evening, they were both welcomed by warm hugs from Patrick. They ate dinner, talked, and watched TV, just like they used to before everyone started moving around that night. When Alexis collapsed onto the guestroom bed that night, she didn't cry. She slept soundly, and for the first time in a while, she wasn't dreading whatever the next day had to bring.