Disclaimer: See previous chapters.

Title: "Counterparts and Number Them"

Genres: General, Angst, Drama, Romance et cetera.

Rated: 'M' - You know why.

Writing Tools: Microsoft Word, of course, Windows Media player, Trident Gum, my MP3 Player, the Internet, and about four Cokes (classic, of course).

Tunes: Alexisonfire, blah, blah, blah. First album, blah. Listen to 'em

People: Uname. One of the coolest reviewers in the history of reviews.

Author's Note: Consider this thing on hiatus. I'm fresh out of ideas. This is more Palex-y than the other chapters though, so that's something.

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"I lied, too

When I said that I was hard

Because I'm softer than

A thrift store sweater

Twice as worn in"

---Alexisonfire, "Counterparts and Number Them"; Alexisonfire

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They had been walking for about five minutes. The silences that filled the gaps in their conversation were only slightly awkward and for that Alex was eternally grateful. She had been shocked to find her ex-girlfriend roaming the city at night. Especially when she should have been buried under thesis statements and sixty page essays at Banting. But, no, here she was, in a thin blue hoodie and jeans. Blonde hair looking like fine silk, limpid orbs of ocean water for eyes, and that cute smile that made Alex's stomach attempt to leap into her chest.

Alex recalled the hug. That was the closest she'd been to Paige since…

Since she'd made the biggest mistake of her life over a year ago and ran away from the best thing to happen to her in years.

Yeah. Sounds about right.

Not that she would ever admit it to Paige. Paige had moved on. She had to have. Probably even had a boyfriend. Alex could see him now. He'd have some obnoxiously snobbish name, Bennett, or Blake, or Charles. He would buy her flowers and jewelry and he'd drink lattés. They would talk politics and economics and classic literature. He'd have a trust fund that could support three small countries for six straight years. A sports car, too. And a nice, rich daddy to make sure his college experience was completely comfortable.

She realized, with some shame, that she was jealous of someone that might not even exist.

"So, are you… seeing anyone?" she hoped it sounded as casual as she willed it to be.

Paige looked slightly taken back.

Alex cursed herself.

Paige answered, "No… not at the moment. What about you? What's your love life been like?"

What love life? If drunken one night stands and casual sex was considered a love-life then she'd been fine. Somehow she didn't think Paige wanted to know about that kind of thing. But then there was…

"I, uh, I guess I've been, sorta… playing the field."

"Random hook-ups?"

Alex would have smiled at the blonde's ability to cut through her shit, even after all these years, except that she couldn't bring herself to meet Paige's eyes. Why is this fucking me up so much? I shouldn't care. No. I don't care. Don't, don't, don't. She nodded silently and forced herself to look Paige in the eyes. Her expression was mercifully unreadable.

"Really? No serious relationships at all?"

"Is that so hard to believe?"

"Well, yeah, kinda… I mean, when we were together-" she stopped abruptly; realizing that if they reverted to the 'when we were together' lines would rouse emotions neither of them were ready to deal with, "You just never seemed like that kind of girl, that's all."

Alex kicked a rock, "I… I did have one," she cleared her throat, "relationship."

Paige seemed only mildly surprised, "With who?"

Alex took a deep breath and closed her eyes, "Ellie."

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"So it seems

That when you turned away

You left

A scar"

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"Ellie."

The named slammed into her like a freight train. She felt… betrayed for some reason. The thought of Ellie and Alex sharing the same thing that used to be only for Paige and Alex. She knew it wouldn't hurt half as much if Alex had named someone she didn't know. But for some reason picturing her ex-lover and her friend together made her stomach sick, and her head spin, and her chest ache. But all these feelings were over ridden by the initial shock that came with the admission.

"Ellie… Ellie Nash?"

Alex shrugged, and lit another cigarette, "Yeah."

"Wh… What? When?"

Alex leaned against the wall of a Liquor Mart and faced her, "Like, seven, eight months ago."

"But I thought Ellie was-"

"Yeah, well, so did the rest of us. She's not straight. Not gay either. Just a bit… crooked."

Paige ran a distressed hand through her hair and contemplated bumming a smoke off Alex. This is so fucked up, "Uh… wow. Why did you… How did that happen?"

Now Alex looked uncomfortable. She bit her lip, and began picking at her nails, a nervous habit that Paige was dimly relieved to notice she hadn't lost over the years, "Like it always does," she paused and her large brown eyes darted about as if looking for a way out; no such luck, "We were really good friends, and she was going through a really tough time. She and Jesse broke up. Craig fucked with her head. We started spending more and more time together and one day it just… happened."

"How long were you together?"

"About four months."

Paige tried to wrap her head around this new information. It was like trying to swallow a grapefruit whole, "What was it like?"

Alex glanced at her once, a peculiar expression on her face, and looked away again, "Ellie's a… a great girl. I really liked her. A lot."

"Then why'd you end it?"

"Because she deserved better. I cared about her a lot. But I had feeling for," she paused, blinked twice, and continued, "I had feelings for someone else. Feelings that were stronger than the ones I had for her. It wouldn't have been fair. Not to anyone."

She sighed and appeared to be grappling with some powerful emotion. When she spoke it was more to herself than Paige, "I really wish I could have loved her."

For some reason those words hurt more than anything she could have said in that moment, "So… are you guys still friends?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah… it was mutual. I think she was still kinda hung-up on Craig. We still hang out."

"Oh…" she couldn't get the image of them out of her mind. Ellie kissing Alex. Holding her hand. Smiling at her. Alex smiling back. Had she used her squeaky voice?

"You okay?"

Paige jumped slightly, "Oh. Yeah, yeah I'm fine," she gave a weak smile, "just cold… and tired. I've had a really long day."

"That makes two of us," muttered Alex. She fumbled with the zipper of her thick coat.

"What are you doing?"

Alex shot her a dry look as she shrugged off the jacket, "I'm saving you from frostbite."

"Oh, Alex, no! You'll be cold and-"

"Cold don't bother me," she could read the lie on Alex's face as clear as any book, "Just… just take it."

"I-"

"Please?"

The gesture was too sweet, her eyes too brown, too big for Paige to do anything but consent. She reluctantly accepted the jacket. It smelled like Alex. Vanilla shampoo, and cigarettes, and chemicals, and a faint hint of marijuana. But it also had that other scent that she could only think of as Alex herself. The smell of soft skin, and heavy breath, and dark eyes. It made her think dangerous things. It had to have been the pheromones that made her speak her next words.

"Can we go back to your place, instead?"

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"I was cast away once

But I will be found again

This I promise you

Promise you"

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End Notes: And here's where you guys will hate me. Just when it gets interesting I get stuck for ideas and now we're hiatus-ing. Review and show me the true power of your wrath! Maybe even get me hashing this thing out again.

-Orange