Even the Broken
Disclaimer: Orange is the New Black belongs to Jenji Kohan and co. Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison belongs to Piper Kerman.
AN: I'm in a serious Orange withdrawal, and I need to know I'm not the only one here.
The universe must really hate her.
Behind the rim of her glasses, Alex's eyes widens at the sight of blood splattered all over Piper's shirt, jacket, and hands. Why does it have to be Alex? Is this the way the universe get retribution for all Piper's wrongdoings? Why her!
Predictably, Alex curses. What the hell did you do this time? But she doesn't wait for an answer. Like always. Alex always decides for her, and Piper decides for the both of them. That's how their relationship works—and fucks up.
She is dragged to a dark alcove behind the chapel, stripped off her jacket and shirt, and made to wear Alex's instead. Her eyes widen in realization and terror. No, you don't, she chokes. You can't.
She can't see Alex's eyes in the dark, but she hears her say, Just shut up and go my way.
Healy is fuming that he can't prove that Alex isn't involved and Piper is solely responsible for beating the shit out of Pensatucky, but he does make sure Alex serves time in the SHU until MLK Jr's Day and gets another year added to her sentence. Piper gets demoted to The Rooms and serves a janitorial duty for the same period. She counts the days diligently and forces herself to go through the days. You can do it, Chapman, she tells herself. You can.
She takes your place, her inner voice tells her. Of course you can. You must.
On the twenty-fifth day, Taystee picks a TV channel randomly and stops at a channel that's currently playing Lenny Kravitz's I'll Be Waiting.
Piper throws up her lunch that day and is so sick that even Red comes to visit her in her bunk.
Though Alex somehow has to be supported as she walks back to her dorm by Nicky and Morello on each of her side, she doesn't bow. Her head is set, her chin up, and her mouth in a firm, thin line. Yet the SHU leaves its marks on her sunken cheeks, dark circles beneath her bloodshot eyes, and chapped lips. Everybody is staring at her, and yet nobody dares to do anything but offers a sympathetic smile. Your girl looks ghosty, Taystee reports the event as Piper is working in the electrical workshop during. Hope she ain't got fucked up in the head.
Prison, Piper learns, is not built to imprison bodies. Prison is built to shatter even the strongest spirit.
Pensatucky doesn't bother her anymore after the fallout. She even looks afraid just to look at her, and for that Piper is glad. Nobody else touches Piper, and nobody talks to her more than necessary. All the better. She doesn't want to anyway.
Fucking high school, Nicky grumbles. All pussies, scared shitless. Not gonna start another bloodletting, aren't you, Chapman?
Wrong, Piper thinks. In high school, everything is bright and glittery and happy.
She takes a glance at Alex at the other end of the table.
This is life, and not everything is bright and glittery and happy.
Two months after the incident, she is in the middle of a phone talk with Polly when she gets the idea to ask Polly to buy her some books and send them to Litchfield. A week later, Jamie James' Andrew and Joey, Adrian Vickers' A Modern History of Indonesia, and Karl May's And Peace on Earth arrive for her. She returns to her bunk in The Rooms, grabs a Post-It, writes thank you, and slips it into one of the books.
She leaves the books on top of Alex's pillow.
Two days later, Alex is reading And Peace on Earth in the common room.
They can never be friends, Piper knows, but at least they can stop thinking of each other as nothing.
She dreams about Larry sometimes, and she dreams about Alex most of the time. Half of them are nice dreams, the rest nightmares. In one of the nightmares, she is standing in front of Alex's SHU chamber. Her hand reaches inside through the small food window, and she calls for Alex. Once. Twice.
Please don't leave, she hears, but when she crouches and peeks inside, all she can see is a pair of feet hanging above the cold floor.
She wakes up with a start and screams so loud that even some night guards come to get her and bark orders at her to get a fucking hold of herself and be quiet if she doesn't want to be sent to the SHU again, but she can't hear anything except a litany of pleasedon'tleavepleasedon'tleavepleasedon'tleave.
Hence why she can't fight the relief that washes over her whenever she sees Alex stand in line for breakfast.
A week before her release, she writes another Post-It note before going to the laundry room. As always, Alex is on duty there by herself. The guards have known better not to put Pensatucky and Alex together for a regular duty, so they move Pensatucky to janitorial duty. How apt for her and her evangelical shits, Piper thinks.
Then it dawns on her. What should she say? Should she say hi? Or how are you? I'm glad you're doing fine? Does she have to say anything at all? Fuck.
Alex looks up and their eyes meet for a brief moment before she looks away, writes a receipt for Piper, and hands it to her. Piper takes the chance to grab Alex's hand. She finally decides to start with a simple hi.
Don't you have enough? Alex says tiredly, but she doesn't retract her hand.
I, she hesitates, I've never had a chance to thank y—
Save it, Alex cuts her.
She nods. Okay. Another nod. Then she slips her Post-It into Alex's hand. Here.
Alex takes it, reading it for a second before anger flashes across her face. What the fuck.
My number. I want you to put me on your list.
Alex grows quiet.
Alex doesn't say anything, but she quietly pockets the Post-It and leaves the laundry room.
Alex isn't there when the inmates throw a farewell party for her, and she isn't there, too, when everybody bids her goodbye.
Life goes on, Piper knows. People get married, have children, live their live. She does, too. She doesn't look back. She doesn't want to, and she can't because she has burnt all the bridges and built walls.
That is, until one snowy day when New York is freezing and waiting for the New Year countdown, and her phone rings.
She almost drops her phone when she hears the automated announcement of a call from prison, then a familiar voice greets her from the other side of the line at the same Times Square erupts in cheers.
Happy New Year, kid.
 From Orange the memoir: Lenny Kravitz's Are You Gonna Go My Way is the song that plays when the real Piper is asked to go to Indonesia.
 These three books are about or in some parts take setting in Indonesia, where the real Piper goes with her drug dealer girlfriend.