Litchfield, May 2013, 17 weeks after Doggett attack.
I know I'm staring, but I can't stop. I know I shouldn't be staring at her. I don't deserve to stare at her. But prison is ugly and she's gorgeous and my eyes and her are magnets so it's really not my fault. She got me in here anyway. She probably, no, she definitely didn't deserve to get her heart broken by me again but still, she brought me here. I'm an asshole; she knows that. I'm a tornado, an unpredictable storm of destruction to those around me, so really, when she got me locked up in here with her she should have known I might do her harm.
Plus, like I said prison is ugly. The SHU is even uglier and I just spent 13 weeks in there. And I've spent the last 3 1/2 weeks on the top bunk in the holding room staring at the ceiling. So looking at Alex is like a blind man regaining his sight. Incredible. Beautiful. A miracle.
I wish it was me sitting next to her and not Nichols. I'd share my corn muffin with her. I'd let her eat my muffin. Hah.
"Chapman, what's with the dumbass grin? You look high. That ain't a good thing to look in prison." Poussay shakes her head at me and buses her tray.
Right, other people can see me. Sitting at a table by myself, smiling wickedly to myself, daydreaming about Alex and her eyes and her lips and her chest (and oh god, now I'm motor boating her in my head like some kind of pubescent boy), is probably not a great way to blend in. Which is exactly what I'm trying to do these days. No more attention, no more trouble, no more SHU. No more Alex. Fuck.
To stay out of trouble it's probably best to minimize my interaction with everyone. I'm an island now. And like being on an island, alone, one is left with dreaming. Daydreaming and night dreaming. The daydreaming I can control. Well, sort of. Alex's tits pop into my head on their own accord. But I can't control the night dreams at all and I had the most fucked up dream of my life last night. Alex and Larry and I were having a threesome. Or…I'm not really sure you can call it a threesome but I know you can call it disturbing.
"That's not how she likes it Harry." Alex sits in the corner of the room in a leather Eames lounger, legs crossed and glass of wine in hand, watching Larry try to eat me out. I'm not sure how much she's even seen with how often she's rolling her eyes. While penetrative sex with Larry has always been enjoyable, he's a bit of a tongue poker when it comes to oral.
Larry looks angry. "It's Larry. And why are you even here? She's my fiancé, mine."
"You've been at it for twenty minutes bro, and I haven't heard her moan once. Pipes, how many times did I get you off when we snuck in the bathroom on that flight to Tokyo?"
My face flushes and my brow sweats. "I, um…."
"Four times. In fifteen minutes. If you stay in there any longer the attendant comes knocking on the door. For terrorist activity, not lesbian activity." I realize she must be talking to Larry cause she already explained this to me when we did it. I remember the conversation well because a wave of jealousy rushed over me and I quickly asked her how she knew all this and just how many girls has she taken in an airplane bathroom. I marvel how the thought of her with other women still pisses me off.
"I'm sure they'd be more lenient if they knew what a great time we were having, right baby?" I moan at the memory of Alex roughly pulling my panties down (I always wore skirts on long flights so Alex and I could cuddle up under the blanket they give you and not sleep) and propping me up on the counter, dropping to her knees and going to town. "I hate airplane food" she'd explained and gave me an evil smile.
"See Barry, all I have to do is talk about past sexual experiences and she moans."
"Alex, be nice." I don't really mean it. I need her to keep talking; her voice is my biggest aphrodisiac.
"Sorry babe, I just want you to feel good."
"Don't call her babe," Larry grunts out, looking at my pussy like a damn Rubik's cube.
"Here Lars, why don't I give her a try? Just for a couple minutes." Larry looks at me, obviously tired, of trying to pleasure me or of Alex's bitchy remarks I'm not sure. He rolls away and sits back against the headboard, flipping the TV on. Alex takes off her blazer and kicks off her shoes, holding my gaze and licking her bottom lick like she always does when I'm naked or when she's picturing me naked. I feel myself get wetter with each step she takes toward the bed, and I'm sure she notices as I'm spread wide open. Larry flips through channels.
Alex kneels down between my legs, running her hands up the outsides and then back down the insides and I get goose bumps everywhere. She quickly breaks eye contact to stare at my breasts, then meets my gaze again, her eyes noticeably darker than before. "Hey buddy," she husks, smiling and pecking me on the lips, much too quick and too little tongue for my liking. I just whimper in response, mute from anticipation. She runs her thumb up and down my wet slit and I arch my back so hard up to her that she laughs then quickly takes my whole left tit into her mouth.
"Al," I'm already breathless. "I need…"
She releases my breast with a pop. "I know what you need baby. I'm getting there." She kisses down my rib cage to my belly button to the top of my slit. Larry glances over once in a while but seems to find' Jeopardy' reruns more interesting than two women getting it on. I wonder if Alex wants him to watch – generally she'd never let anyone see us like this but her main goal tonight, besides making me come, seems to be to show Larry up.
Alex uses her palms to spread my legs wider, looking up at me from between my legs and mouthing 'I love you.' My heart skips and I smile and when I look to Larry to see if he saw her, Alex demands my attention back by licking a firm, broad stripe against my pussy.
"Oh fuck." My head clunks back against the headboard with a loud bang.
"Piper," Larry scolds. "It's hardly worth a concussion." Alex laughs against my clit and that makes me hit my head again. I'm moaning and thrashing and Larry is telling me to stop and Alex is sucking on me, sucking me everywhere, like my crotch is a desert and she wants every drop of moisture she can get. Her hands are on my breasts and I'm so close, I entwine my fingers with hers and hold on for dear life and god, my heartbeat is in my clit, but Larry won't shut up, calling out my name in my face and…
"Chapman. Chapman! Piper!" Great Piper, caught again. Nichols is standing in front of me at the table, waving her hands in front of my face. "Time to go to work you freak." Despite her mockery, she grabs my breakfast tray for me and buses it at the trash nearby. "She's like a fat kid staring at an imaginary cake." Who's she talking to? Oh shit, Alex. She's smirking at me. Fuck, she always knows when I'm thinking about sex. ALWAYS. I stand and turn away from her, looking at the stained floor as I follow Nichols out.
"Let me know if you need your laundry done a few days early Piper," she calls out as she heads the opposite direction. Nichols cracks up in realization and I feel my face get hot with mortification, but these are the first words she's spoken to me since I returned from the SHU a month ago and I want to hear more, anything Alex, just keep talking to me. I turn back toward her cause I must hate myself and she winks at me. She winks! What does this mean? I get butterflies and feel like a teenager for the second time today. Nichols laughs with me, or likely at me, as we head to the shed.
I make it through work without thinking about Alex or sex or sex with Alex at all. I run harder than I've ever run around the track and I think of nothing. A gorgeous silence of the mind where all I can hear is my pounding heartbeat. I make it through a shower (now I shower before dinner to give Alex her privacy in the morning) with zero sex thoughts, zero awkward grins. Maybe my mother was right, embarrassments are great lessons. Hey look ma, I done learned.
But now I'm at dinner and realize perhaps I gave myself too much credit. I've made it all day without thinking of Alex simply because I haven't been around her. And now she's in sight and she's in mind. And she's facing me, and even though she's two tables away, it makes it harder to not look at her than when I can only see her back. She's facing me and she's finished her dinner and Red surprised their table with chocolate cake. And Alex fucking loves chocolate cake. She puts it into her mouth and doesn't chew; she just fucking lets it melt in her mouth and tilts her head back a bit and makes the most erotic face; really, she's making her come face right here in the bright fluorescent lights of the Litchfield cafeteria. HER COME FACE. How can I win this? Mom? Embarrassment isn't working this time. No, my entire day's progress vanishes out the barred windows and I flood my panties as my mind instantly travels to Sydney in our second year of dating when, after much negotiating, Alex let me use the strap-on. And I yanked her to the edge of the bed and I stood with so much pride at being the first girl to ever be allowed to do this to her and I fucked her brains out and she tilted her head back just like she is now and made that exact face. Pure bliss.
"Inmate." Fisher calls out to me, trying to sound stern but she's the nicest damn person here. She lowers her voice a bit. "You're drooling." And then she walks on to patrol the next table and I look down to see wet spots on my shirt. Awesome Piper. This is worse than the sex grinning earlier. Now you really will have to take your laundry early. And laundry reminds me of Alex (what doesn't) and I look up and she's smirking at me. And she knows. AGAIN.
I go to the commissary after dinner to buy deodorant and a Kit Kat. As I walk back I see Alex on the phone, talking softly with tears in her eyes and I freeze. Alex crying has always felt like a bowling ball on my chest and I've never been good at handling it. Another inmate asks me if I'm in line and I'm thankful I didn't get caught staring at Alex again, especially like this. I want to go to her so bad, to squeeze her and ask her what's wrong and kiss those tear tracks on her cheeks. Instead I leave her there, alone, and go to the library.
I find an empty table and a book on creative writing. I think it's weird to read about writing for some reason. Maybe I'll skip through and just do the exercises at the end of each chapter. Anything really, to take my mind off who Alex may have been talking to and what could have made her cry.
In the middle of doing an exercise describing in detail my current bedroom (hah!), someone joins me at the table. I look up. Not just someone, Alex. Shock must be written all over my face, cause she mumbles something about the other seats being taken and dives into her book. I nod and then we're silent. For five minutes. Ten. Fifteen. And then I realize it's impossible for me to sit 36 inches away from her and not talk or kiss or fuck or do something that indicates we're not complete strangers.
She doesn't look up.
"Look, I know you said never come to you. Not with anything. And I'm really trying not to do that. I'm fighting myself to leave you alone. But just know you can come to me. Anytime, for whatever." Alex finally looks at me, unmoving, and I have trouble reading her. But I don't want her to get up. She hasn't been this close to me in months and it's comforting breathing in air she's just exhaled. Keep talking, Piper. "I made a bad choice Alex. I'm sorry. I was scared. Loving you is really scary. And I…"
"Ok," Alex cuts me off, monotone. "Thank you Piper. It's…it's nice to know I have friends in here who have my back."
"Friends?" I'm pushing it, I know. I'm probably pushing her away. I should take what I can get, but we're not fucking friends.
"Are you not interested in being friends with me?"
"Not for a second. I love you. I love having sex with you." I smile, always proud of myself when I can turn her words back on her, and I can see Alex is fighting like hell to not smile back.
"Do you memorize everything people say to you?"
"No, just what you say. And it's not like I mean to memorize it, I just replay it a lot in my head so then…" Oh hey, vulnerability. Something about Alex playing a conversation cool and casual always makes me word vomit and strip down to emotional nudity. Yeah, that's a good analogy, self – I'm standing in front of Alex like a naked girl barfing. Raw and exposed. And she's sitting across the table from me, looking so beautiful and snickering. Snickering! But there's a sparkle in her eyes like maybe she thinks it's more cute and endearing than pathetic and weird.
"What else do you replay in that head of yours?"
SEX! I replay every sexual experience I can remember. On repeat! Like my very own porn reel, and oh baby, it's so hot. So much hotter than the les porn we would occasionally watch and end up laughing hysterically at.
"I don't know. Nothing. Movies."
She raises her perfect eyebrows at me cause she obviously knows I'm always thinking about sex, ruining my prison-issued underwear, drooling all over my shirt, eyes longing like I forget I'm not invisible and she can see me staring at her.
"Hmm." There's a commotion somewhere at the other end of the library and Alex turns to look. I hear Taystee swear and I know she probably knocked down the wobbly shelf of teen fiction again. I've seen her do it a million times so I stare at Alex's profile instead. And then she turns and catches me. Naked and barfing again, Piper. Smirking again, Alex.
"What are you reading?"
Alex looks down and folds the book closed so I can see the cover.
"Careers in Importing and Exporting. Figure I'll use what I know when I get outta here, but with legal shit this time."
"That's great Alex. That's really proactive."
"Yeah," she nods, reopening the book. "Probably time to stop free falling so much. Or at least have some solid ground to come back to when I do."
She's my dream girl. "That's…brilliant."
Alex laughs, sarcastic. "Yeah, it took a real rocket scientist to figure that one out."
"Well, it took something. Something changed. You've never cared about solid ground before. Or a home base. Or a home for that matter."
Alex stops to think for a second. I wonder if she's thinking of how to explain herself, or whether I deserve to hear her thoughts, her plans, her future. "I had this dream the other night. I was walking down 8th Ave and I was older, like 50 or 60 something. And I ran into you and Larry. And you introduced me to your two kids, they were teenagers or like going to college or something. And you all seemed so happy. And I was alone. I walked home alone and I had groceries in my bag and you know, I was going to make dinner alone. And God, I woke up so fucking sad and depressed. And I just…I don't want that to come true. For me, I mean. I'm sure for you, it'll…"
"It won't," I interrupt. The idea that she thinks I still want to end up with Larry is unbearable. "Not the kids with Larry part anyway. That ship has sailed."
"Don't you want kids?"
I smile. "Sheesh, at least take a girl to dinner first." We laugh. I feel stupid saying that out loud, assuming yet again she wants to be with me. I know she's doesn't. "I guess I am a bit of a Park Slope narcissist."
"A bit?" I smile and then regroup. Now that she's talking to me, I really want her to hear me.
"Larry isn't right for me. I just…I guess I just loved the idea of him. He was safe, secure. Comfortable. My parents loved him and it was nice to finally do something right in their eyes. But I need more than that. And I wasn't my true self around him. I was toned down some…I was best behavior Piper. I suppose now I see why it was so shocking when he found out about my drug dealer ex-girlfriend…"
Alex nods softly, unreadable again.
"I might be too fucked up to have kids anyway. I know they like merry-go-rounds, but…"
Alex nods in understanding, but still, I can't read her.
"He told you?"
"Yeah, but I'm glad he did. You're right. About all of it. He's right too." Alex stares straight ahead. "We're friends now, Larry and I. He's actually been really helpful, since I got out of the SHU. Talking to me about our, my problems and why we would never work. I told him he should be a therapist…but he says it's just the things you realize when you step away and get perspective."
Alex nods, like she must agree. Like that's how she realized I was too much of a monster for her. How she realized some times good sex just isn't worth all the other bullshit. How she realizes now she's glad I picked Larry and she'll never have to deal with me again.
"Anyway, let's dissect your dream." I smile. We always used to look up dream meanings. Spiders mean you feel like an outsider – I used to get that one a lot. "Since when do you want kids?"
"Hey! That doesn't mean I do. I don't know. You're never gonna find me in Westchester with a fucking picket fence. But…I don't know, something in me, I feel that tug, albeit a weak tug. I either, like, want zero kids or seven."
I'm speechless. "You always were extreme Vause." She does her sexy ass eyebrow lift again, and then looks towards the door and smiles and waves at someone. The bookshelf to my right is blocking my view, but they better not interrupt this promising convo. It's going well and I stupidly hope at some point Alex will reach across the table and kiss me breathless and ask me to mother her seven children.
"There you are rugmuncher." Nicky sidles up to Alex. She doesn't notice me across the table. "Just saw an empty chapel if you want to continue what we started earlier..." Alex must give her some kind of signal that I'm there and they should take pity on me. I don't know, I couldn't look. I can't…oh god, now I really am going to be a barfing girl. How did I not realize? How did the fucking prison gossip system fail me on this? Of course she's moved on Piper, girls like Alex don't stay single. They don't stay celibate. I'm sure half this prison wanted to fuck her after I fucker her over. And ugh, just the thought of someone else touching her, just the split second I allow my brain to see the image of Nicky between her thighs makes my stomach turn. My brow feels sweaty and these flickering library lights are suddenly making my vision weird.
"Jesus Chapman, you look like you're gonna hurl." Nichols has a weird smile like maybe she's joking as a friend or maybe she's glad I'm sick. Fuck, don't talk to me when you're the one making me feel like this. You and your fucking hands on MY GIRL. I stand up from the table, legs unsteady.
"Pipe, are you ok?" Alex's genuine concern does nothing for my nausea with Nichols' hand still resting on her shoulder. I wish she'd get up. I wish she'd come to the bathroom and hold my hair and rub soothing circles on my back. She used to. Any time we'd go out to a club and she'd recruit young pretty girls I'd get so insanely jealous I'd start shot contests with random guys, maybe to numb the pain or maybe to get her attention. Either way she'd find me, way too drunk and sloppy on the dance floor, wrap me up in her arms and tuck me into a cab and take me home. ME, not any other girls, to OUR home. And in the cab ride I'd whisper all the dirty things I was going to do to her and sometimes I'd shove her hand up my skirt, down low behind the partition so the cabbie couldn't see. And then of course by the time I stumbled up the stairs to our loft the alcohol would catch up with me and I'd spend the night in the bathroom. WE would spend the night in the bathroom. Me and my Alex.
I quickly exit the library, walking briskly toward the bathrooms so as not to get yelled at for running. No attention, head down, my initial goal for the day forgotten. But you can always start your day over, even at 8 pm. First, I'm gonna go throw up. Then, I'm gonna figure out how to get over Alex Vause once and for all.
Later, I lie in my bed and stare at the ceiling. It's dark and quiet and weird being back in the Suburbs. It's hard to devise a plan to stop doing something you've been doing for over a decade. Alex has been ingrained in me for so long I'm not sure how to go about removing her. Is this a cold turkey situation? Is that possible when you're in prison together? Maybe there's a 12-step program?
A figure appears at the foot of my bunk and my heart stops. Alex. Fuck. Not someone trying to kill me, but anxiety-inducing nonetheless.
"How are you feeling?"
"Fine," I whisper. "Probably just something I ate."
"Right." An odd pause, even for Alex. "Well, I just wanted to check."
"Thanks. You don't have to do that, anymore…I mean, I can…I'll be ok."
She looks down at my feet under the covers. I squirm under her stare and wonder why she's acting so awkward, like she doesn't completely have the upper hand here.
"I'm fucked up too. So you're not alone there." She nods and turns to leave. "And I don't know if it's just my intense love of Salinger, but I've always liked merry-go-rounds." It's dark but I can tell by her voice she's smiling. "Night Pipes."
I lay shocked, smiling like an idiot again I'm sure. Thank God no one's awake to catch me this time. "Night Al."