Disclaimers in Chapter One
It didn't take long for Alex to settle her affairs so that she could return to New York. What took the longest time, was finding an apartment that Lexa had the fewest objections to. Alex never knew that Lexa could be so picky about her living arrangements since Lexa had not really complained about the house they shared. When she asked Lexa about it, Lexa had only responded that she was a Hodges and Hodges only settled for the best, and failed to mention that she had a hard time imagining herself living in any place that Alex didn't live in as well.
Lexa suspected that if she kept stalling about the apartment that eventually Alex would start asking more questions or just catch onto the real reason Lexa felt the need to hide. She didn't want Alex feeling bad about reclaiming her life in New York. She was happy for her friend, just not so happy for herself. She wanted Alex to be happy and suspected that the former ADA could only accomplish that once she settled her life in New York again, and rejoined her detective friend who had already made the return trip to New York and was eagerly awaiting Alex's arrival.
Alex had more than once offered to take Lexa with her, always hoping that the younger woman's answer would change into the 'yes' she wanted to hear instead of the 'no' she kept on getting. She wanted to push Lexa into changing her mind, but knew that pushing Lexa into anything was close to impossible if Lexa wasn't already willing to be pushed.
So instead of further pressing the issue, Alex cosigned Lexa's apartment lease and offered her the furniture from the house so that the new apartment could be properly furnished, even if the federal government did technically own most of the items. Again, Lexa refused Alex stating that she wanted to build a new start for herself where the things she owned adhered to her hip style and taste instead of the blandness that was Alex's.
Again, Lexa failed to tell Alex the complete truth. She refused the furnishings from the house because she needed a clean start so that she wouldn't sink into a depression after Alex left. Lexa reminded herself that she was supposed to be the stoic one in all this, so chose to use jokes to cover up her internal pain. It hadn't been the first time she had done it and she was positive that it wouldn't end up being her last.
Lexa had told Alex that she would visit New York, but she knew she wouldn't, at least not anytime soon. She didn't want to go to New York and walk down the same streets that she had nightmares about. For some reason, Lexa almost felt like she was breaking up with Alex, but she didn't have the guts to say it out loud, but instead drifted further and further away hoping that Alex would catch on and would save Lexa the actual pain of having to say the words.
It was childish, but Lexa figured that she had been mature enough in life so far, that acting like a child, for once, wouldn't be such a bad thing. But, since it was Alex's last night in the small town she had called home for a little over a year, Lexa was intent on acting as mature as she possibly could. She didn't want Alex's last night with her to be full of bad memories and pain; they both already had enough of those kinds of memories haunting them.
"I thought you said your apartment was fully furnished?" Alex asked the younger woman as they sat down on the floor and shared a medium sized half pepperoni half vegetarian pizza.
Lexa gave a faux confused look, "What are you talking about?" She pointed at the flat panel television that was on the wall in front of them. "I've got furnishings."
Alex nodded towards the television. "Is that what you spent all your money on?"
"No," Lexa took a bite from her pizza slice. "I've got a queen-sized bed too."
Alex playfully ran her eyes over Lexa's petite form. "Why do you need a bed that big?"
"Entertaining the ladies," Lexa winked, happy that so far they hadn't fallen into a serious conversation about it being their last night together, or about the trip Alex was taking to the airport in the morning. Lexa had offered to take her, but Alex reminded the younger woman that Lexa didn't have a car and that her luggage wouldn't fit on the motorcycle Lexa had bought for herself despite Alex's vehement protests.
"Keep it together while I'm gone okay," Alex tried to say as casually as she possibly could while she held tightly onto her beer bottle, intent on not starting an argument by asking Lexa how she had procured the alcohol for them in the first place.
Lexa started to fiddle with her own beer bottle. "You know me, Alex, I'm a survivor."
Despite the uncertainties that plagued her, Alex smiled weakly at her friend, "I know you are, Alexandra."
The younger woman forced her gray eyes up on the face that had been looking down at her. "We both are, Alex."
They awkwardly stared at each other for a few moments until Lexa started to fidget around uncomfortably from having sat still so long. Recognizing, Lexa's uncomfortable restless movements for what they were, Alex softly smiled at the younger woman then stood up to go to the kitchen to get another beer.
Lexa watched Alex leave and cursed at herself for acting so stupid. She jumped to her feet and walked to the bathroom, making sure to lock the door. She turned on the faucet, and then bent down and brushed the cold water against her face, hoping that it would somehow help her keep things together for a few more hours until they decided to go to sleep.
"I'm stronger than this," She told her reflection. "I'm a goddamned fucking Hodges. Pull your shit together and start fucking acting like it." She reached down and turned off the running water, then reached for a towel to wipe her face dry, not really wanting to know whether or not her own tears had managed to seep into the water she had put there.
When she walked back into the living room, Alex was waiting for her, inwardly knowing that something was wrong but not wanting to say anything. "I brought you another beer," she held out the bottle to Lexa. "So, don't say that I'm always a tight ass."
Lexa grabbed for the bottle and immediately drank a good portion of it before she sat back down next to Alex and muttered a slightly muted, "Thanks".
Alex sipped from her bottle, doing her best to not say anything to Lexa who had resumed her uneasy squirming, although at a lesser degree.
"So what are your big plans when you get back?" Lexa asked as she peeled the label off of her beer bottle.
Unconsciously, Alex mimicked Lexa's actions. "I'm not sure. I suppose the first thing I'll have to do is find a job."
The younger woman's fidgeting stopped. "You don't have a job yet?"
Alex kept her attention on her beer bottle. "I've had offers, but I'm not sure what I want to do. I'm not sure what my life is going to be like when I go back," she sighed. "So many things are different." She looked up into Lexa's gray eyes. "I've changed, Lexa. They've changed."
Seeing Alex's insecurity allowed Lexa to push her own emotion away. It was easier to focus on Alex instead of focusing on herself. She often preferred things that way, since she abhorred the idea of focusing on her own problems and inner turmoil. Lexa put down her beer bottle and moved closer to her friend. She took Alex's hand in her own, "I'd be way scared too if I was going back, but you're going to make it, Alex."
Alex chuckled disbelievingly, "You really think so?"
"Hey," Lexa grinned, "would your best friend forever lie to you?"
"No," Alex shook her head, "wouldn't lie, but you don't always tell the full truth either."
Lexa tried to pull away from Alex having realized that her reuse for the last few weeks hadn't been as successful as she had hoped, but Alex refused to let her pull away. "You don't have to protect me from knowing you're unhappy I'm leaving, Lexa. I'd be disappointed if you weren't a little upset."
"I'm happy for you," Lexa replied.
"I didn't say you weren't."
Knowing that she couldn't push this conversation any further, without Lexa trying to run from it, Alex pulled Lexa closer to her body and held the younger woman in her arms. She couldn't help but remember the second time she had seen the Hodges woman at her doorstep in the freezing rain asking for a place to stay. "Come with me?" She asked Lexa one final time, hoping that if she held Lexa just a little bit tighter that the younger woman wouldn't refuse her.
Lexa wrapped her arms around Alex's waist and rested her head against the taller woman's shoulder. She gave a slight shake of her head, somewhat afraid that if she answered verbally that her mouth would find a way to make her 'no' sound very much like a 'yes'. She refused to change her mind because she was feeling a little emotionally weak and slightly unstable. She was also slightly afraid that she would ask Alex to stay, and that Alex would agree to.
She hadn't lied when she said she was happy for Alex. She was happy as she could be without her selfish emotion tainting the good feelings. Lexa wanted Alex to go back to the home she had described to her in such vivid detail with the tinge of sadness that accompanied the telling of it.
So, Lexa pressed further into Alex's body, not wanting to say anything else. She eventually fell asleep against the taller woman and was awoken by Alex softly saying her name as she brushed away the hair that had fallen around Lexa's face.
Lexa moved her stiff body and softly apologized for falling asleep against Alex. Alex waved the apology away and suggested they move to the bed, her body had also grown stiff from sitting on the floor, holding up Lexa's muscular frame.
Lexa rubbed at her eyes, and then stretched out her arms. She eventually stood up and led them to the bedroom, where she collapsed on the bed. Alex looked down at Lexa's sprawled out body, and sighed inwardly. She was going to miss Lexa, more than she probably realized. A sudden pain filled her heart, and she almost made the decision right then to not leave in the morning to just miss her flight. She almost talked herself into believing that if she stayed for just a few more days then she would be better prepared to leave and that Lexa would be better prepared to see her go.
Fortunately, Alex wasn't delusional. She knew better than to talk herself into believing things that wouldn't make things any better. The only true choice she had was to stay or to leave. It wasn't fair to draw the separation out and make them ache from the anxiety any longer. Alex needed to go back to New York. She needed it more than anything.
Alex sat at the edge of the bed and gently ran her hand through Lexa's dark hair. "I'm going to miss you, Alexandra."
Lexa's body moved closer to Alex, making Alex smile sadly at the younger woman's unconscious movement. She removed her hand from Lexa's hair, and then got ready to sleep. Once done, she carefully slid under the covers next to Lexa and fell asleep.
As soon as Lexa was sure Alex wasn't going to wake until her alarm went off in the morning, Lexa slid out of the bed. She grabbed a pack of cigarettes she had hidden away, and then went out onto her small balcony that overlooked nothing but empty space. She sat down on one of the few chairs she had bothered to purchase and propped her feet up on the low edge. She pulled out the cigarette and quickly lit it.
Alex didn't know that she had taken up smoking again, but since she didn't feel the need to get a lecture, she didn't feel the need to share her lapse back into her unhealthy nicotine addiction with her friend. She had gotten enough lectures from other people that surrounded her, and besides, she knew that if Alex gave her the lecture then she would make a genuine effort to quit again.
"You're a goddamned Hodges alright," she said to herself as she looked up at the starry sky above her. "Fucking, goddamned, Hodges."
"I'm not even gone yet, and you're already talking to yourself."
Alex's voice startled Lexa so much that she dropped her cigarette on her lap, but had the mind to brush it away before it had a chance to burn her. "Fuck, Alex. You scared me."
"Sorry," Alex weakly apologized. She took a seat on the small table next to Lexa, but first removed a cigarette from the pack Lexa had brought out with her and lit it. She took a few puffs from it then handed it over to Lexa who gingerly took it away from her. "Sometimes, you just need a cigarette."
Lexa gave a puny little laugh, but didn't feel the need to respond verbally.
"Couldn't sleep?" Alex eventually asked.
Lexa shrugged. "Felt the urge to suddenly curse myself out a bit." She looked at Alex. "You know how that goes."
Alex reached out for the cigarette, and Lexa let her take it away from her. "Unfortunately, I do." She blew out the smoke she inhaled into her lungs. "Why are you cursing at yourself?"
Lexa turned away. "I've already told you why."
Alex thought back to the numerous conversations they had had with each other about their families and their pasts. She thought about the memories Lexa had shared with her about her mother, and about growing up without her. She remembered Lexa telling her once, that every time she did something that reminded her too much of her family, she felt the insatiable need to start cursing at herself for letting them be a part of her.
"What did you do?" Alex asked.
"Acted like I didn't give a fucking shit about any of this," Lexa cursed herself again.
Alex took another drag from the cigarette. "I'm still here, Lexa."
This was her chance to ask Alex to stay. Lexa knew that, but she also knew that she wouldn't take it. "And you're still leaving, Alexandra."
Alex nodded, "I am."
Lexa smiled and started chuckling softly. Alex gave her a questioning look, but Lexa waved her concern away. "It's weird calling you, Alexandra," Lexa easily confessed. "You're right, it's like you're talking to yourself."
Alex smiled too, happy that something between them had managed to be settled, even if she didn't fully understand what that thing was yet. "So tell me about all the things you've been up to these last few weeks. I've not really gotten a chance to ask since you've been pushing me away lately."
Lexa gave her friend a guilty look, but held herself back from apologizing. She already knew she was forgiven. So instead, she started talking about her experiences of the last few weeks. She talked about how hard it was for her to get the new television, since the store clerk didn't know she was a Hodges, and that her family actually owned the store. She talked about how the band she had joined only a few months ago were talking about making their own album, and how they had inspirations to be serious rock stars, she explained she wasn't so sure she had the same ambitions and was thinking of quitting the band.
They talked until the sun started to rise, then made some coffee and talked some more. When it was finally time for Alex to leave, they stood at the gate of the apartment complex looking out at the street. Lexa shoved her hands into her pockets, after helping Alex with her luggage and offered to go to the airport, but Alex refused the offer saying that if Lexa joined her she wasn't sure she would actually make it onto the plane.
Lexa nodded her understanding, knowing that if she was the one getting on the plane she wasn't so sure she'd be able to get on either if she knew Alex was watching her take off. Leaving was always the harder part, Lexa figured, even if she'd never really left anyone before that really mattered to her. It seemed that all the people that mattered just ended up leaving on their own.
As the cab pulled up to take Alex away, Lexa grabbed onto the taller woman and pulled her into a fierce hug, which Alex returned with as much ferocity. "Take care of yourself," Alex whispered into Lexa's ear. "You're better than the Hodges."
"I love you, Alexandra," Lexa smiled as she said it, still feeling weird using her own name while addressing someone else.
Alex smiled back. "I love you too, Alexandra." She leaned over and gave Lexa a short soft kiss on the lips. "I better see you in New York."
Lexa bowed her head. "I'll make the trip for you."
"Good," Alex caressed the younger woman's cheek, and then pulled away. She got into the cab and forced herself not to look at the lonely girl she knew was standing watching her ride off to the airport. She reminded herself one more time that she needed to go back to New York. Olivia would be waiting for her at the airport. Her life and future was waiting to be sorted out, and it was time she finally took back control of a life she had been forced to let go of what seemed like so long ago, even if things were a little different these days.
I'm thinking of a sequel. Let me know if you'd be interested.