I am terribly sorry about the delay in posting this! After a heavy post con blues hit, I had some personal issues that needed my attention and by the time this chapter had my full attention, nothing I wrote was good enough. This is short and I apologize (especially with the wait I gave you guys)... I had everything up until the last chapter lined out so this one was a free runner. I actually don't really like this one so I would appreciate it if you could share your thoughts on it. Cookies for everyone who waited patiently for me to update this and an extra muffin should I have disappointed you. Thank you for all the faves and alerts (I keep an eye on how many views this has but the day I updated last, fucked up so I have no idea how many people actually read my last chapter and that makes me sad).

Neither said a word for what felt like hours. It was several minutes later that Alex pulled back and cupped her cheeks, still not believing she had her back.

"'m sorry, Alex..." Piper finally whispered.

She looked like she was in pain when talking so Alex shushed her and they sat down together.

"It's fine... Not your fault. I'm sorry though, really. I fucked up..." She sighed.

Piper shook her head but she didn't say a word. Speaking still exhausted her too much. She rested her head on her shoulder instead, grasping Alex' hand and playing with her fingers.

"I missed you." She croaked, smiling up at her shyly.

"I missed you too, kid."

Alex kissed her temple and let out a long breath. She was so glad Piper was back, alive and well and... here.

"I didn't even know you were coming back today."

"Didn't mean to.. run into you here. I thought.. maybe I could be.. alone for a little.."

"You probably shouldn't talk too much yet."

"Tell me what I missed." She asked, ignoring her words.

She looked up at her before focusing her attention on their entwined fingers and then the familiar tone of her voice as Alex started talking.

"I don't remember a lot from right after you went to the hospital.. Red made sure I ate and didn't do anything stupid, like smash Pennsatucky's face into the dryer door... repeatedly. The girls looked out for me too, tried to distract me and talk to me and swear revenge on Doggett in case she'd get away. She made a scene when they got her to Psyche but I missed out on most of it. New Year was nice, fun. We got a couple new inmates.. Oh, I got my mattress back. Fischer's been slipping me updates on you sometimes, was nice. Really, I'd say you didn't miss anything."

She hadn't noticed but Piper had fallen asleep during her little speech, her head resting on her shoulder and her breathing even and calm. She was so relaxed. Alex shook her head when she noticed, rolling her eyes.

"Falling asleep when I'm talking to you... How rude." She mused to herself.

She stared down at their fingers, smiling faintly and wrapped her hands completely around Piper's smaller ones. She shifted to be more comfortable and made sure Piper stayed asleep. She looked like she needed it. Upon further taking in her state, the blonde still looked like shit, worn out and drained. She looked like she hadn't slept well in weeks or eaten anything which was probably not too far off. She'd ask Red to make sure to give her something easy to eat for the next while.

She only woke her up again when it was time to go back. She didn't want to miss the count and make Piper's first day back one of lectures. Alex was sure she'd get a warm welcome by the other girls and just hoped they would go easy on her. She didn't want her to feel overwhelmed. She guessed that was one of the reasons she had come to the chapel first. She had said she had wanted to be alone after all. Probably sort out her thoughts of being back and what had happened. Sometimes, Piper was thinking too much.

They made their way back in silence, Alex walking her to her assigned room before she headed off to her own bunk. They still had a long way to go but at least they talked a little and Piper was back and relatively well. That was all Alex needed for now.

Piper was glad they were back on better terms. She truly hadn't meant to see her right away, she had tried to keep a distance like Alex had asked her before everything went to hell but she knew she would have never managed. She needed Alex too much for that. She made a mental note to tell her so the next day. She crashed into her bed and fell asleep the moment the guard left their room. She had been assigned to some newbies who, luckily, had no idea what had happened and hadn't made a scene about her being back. She'd have some more quiet time until the next morning and she was grateful for that.