What was it her mother used to say about getting into cars with strangers? Oh, right.

Don't do it.

And still, Piper blindly followed Alex through the hospital parking lot, her hands restlessly shifting on the straps of her bag. It could have totally been a kidnap attempt, and Piper would have walked right into it without a single excuse in the world to save face. Not that there would be any need to save face if she got herself killed. What kind of headstone would she have?

"Piper Chapman, loving daughter and friend. Followed an insanely hot girl into the parking lot to her death."

Her mother would love that.

'You wanna think a little louder? I'm pretty sure Cambodia can hear you.'

Piper came to an abrupt stop, blinking away the hesitation as she saw Alex, leaning against the trunk of an inconspicuous black BMW. 'Um... I was — I was just — ' Piper bit her tongue, scuffing the heel of her boot against the concrete and looking to the side, clearing her throat. 'Never mind.'

'You,' Alex said, chuckling softly and unlocking the car with a push of a button, 'need to chill.' She turned and rounded the side, opening the driver door before leaning her arms on the roof, pure amusement curving her lips. 'I don't usually do... This.'

Slowly coming to the passenger's side, Piper shifted her bag on her shoulder. She didn't know what this was supposed to mean, but Piper didn't try to clarify it. 'Oh?' Maybe Alex didn't show up after midnight to pick girls up? Piper could've been fooled.

'I usually slip a roofie into drinks and take girls home, just like that. Don't even bother with asking them out,' Alex said as though Piper had spoken aloud. Alex's face lasted a second before she cracked, looking down as she barely held in a laugh. 'C'mon, kid, just get in the car. I'm starving, and you clearly need a drink.' She ducked down and slid into the car, and after a moment's hesitation, Piper followed.

'So,' Piper eventually asked as Alex pulled out of the parking lot, holding her bag tightly in her lap, 'where do you take girls for dates in the wee hours of the morning?'

'I don't,' Alex answered, one hand on the wheel, her other elbow leaning on the window. 'I'd say the norm is that if I take you out and I don't have you naked by now, then I wasn't planning on sleeping with you anyway.'

Cocky asshole. Cocky, stupidly attractive asshole. 'So, you're not planning on sleeping with me?' Was that disappointment Piper heard in her own voice?

'You're not the norm.'

'So, what, you're planning on buying me dinner, getting me wasted, getting into my pants, and never calling me back, is that it?'

They came to a red light, and as the car slowed, Alex turned and gave Piper a look, one where her eyes were smiling, but her mouth was smirking.

It was maddening, and Piper couldn't figure out why.

'Well,' Alex said slowly, her mouth still curved in that infuriating way, her foot pressing on the gas as the light turned green, 'I didn't say that.'

When Alex pulled up to a restored building in the heart of Tribeca, Piper's oddly possessive grip on her bag hadn't loosened. It wasn't as if there was anything of particular value in there, and Alex hardly seemed the type for petty thievery. Her eyes, however, did peer up at the building facade curiously. Tribeca was an odd choice for a trafficking operation. Perhaps Alex was simply going to kill her. Piper could see the 7pm news bulletin already; "Young hospital resident murdered in luxury Tribeca loft". What she ended up saying was, 'This is where we're having dinner?'

'Yep.' Alex stepped out of the car and onto the street, twirling her keys around one long finger. When Piper didn't immediately follow, she stood at the building's front door, eyebrows raised. She smiled expectantly. 'Let's go, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Don't you know it's rude to keep a lady waiting?' Pressing the key code into the number pad by the doors, Alex held the door open, cocking her head toward the elevators.

Piper shoved aside any hesitation and climbed out of the car; where was she going to go at this point? She'd have to walk at least a block to catch a cab, and if Alex was really going to kill her like the paranoid WASP in her head kept saying, she'd probably catch up by then anyway. Slinging her bag over her shoulder, Piper walked into the lobby first, taking a reassuring sigh as Alex came up beside her and walked with her to the elevator. Pressing the button, Alex didn't bother to hide her smirk; it was like a permanent fixture on her face, and as they stepped into the elevator, they shared a look — a heartbeat passed — and Piper's awkwardness fled as the tension broke with a laugh from both of them.

'You're not going to cook, are you?' Piper asked warily as Alex slid her keycard into the elevator slot and pressed her floor number.

'Are you fucking kidding me?'

'Wow, Saluggi's and beer on a Friday night,' Piper said, balancing a slice of pizza on her fingers. 'You really do know a way into a girl's pants.'

Alex's chuckle was a smoky, silken sound as she brought the glass bottle to her lips. 'We'll see.'

Sitting on the dark wooded floor of Alex's maisonette, atop the thick rug in her living room, in between the rough triangle of black leather lounges and the sleek entertainment system, Piper silently looked over the apartment, the furnishings, the stark contrast of exposed brick and whitewash walls. It was a beautiful space, filled with odds and ends, pieces of art and furniture that didn't match but fit anyway, the way one collected things simply because they liked the items rather than for any end design. And here they were, another oddity in a room full of equally mismatched things that came together in strange accord, washing pizza down with beer at three in the morning.

'This place was kind of a dump when I got my hands on it,' Alex admitted, lying on her side, not missing the way Piper's blue-green eyes flitted over the loft. 'I converted the other floors to rent out, and took the top floors for myself.' She followed Piper's gaze to a glass sculpture on an end table. It was single daffodil in a royal blue vase, and seemed inconspicuous as far as art went, but Alex shifted on her elbow, smiling a little. 'Dale Chihuly,' she said, her own eyes raking over Piper appreciatively as the blonde's eyebrows flew up.

'Seriously?' Piper's eyes widened, and she didn't bother containing her delight, straightening on the rug. 'His smallest pieces are like, ten grand a pop.'

Alex didn't respond, but she pointed her beer bottle upward, at the ceiling.

Piper looked up - a black, white and blue chandelier hung above them, made up of irregular blown glass shapes, and her mouth fell open. 'No way. No way.'

There was a the tiniest shrug of the shoulders as Alex drank her beer. 'Way.'

'His commissions are impossible to get your hands on!'

Alex's face scrunched at that. 'I wouldn't say impossible.'

Piper laughed, moving to stand up to get a better look, when Alex leaned over and put a hand on her knee.

'You can stare at that thing all you want later,' Alex told her sombrely, leaning over, before grinning. 'I asked you to dinner, not Dale Chihuly's chandelier.'

'You also dropped his name, so if I'm enamoured with your chandelier, that's entirely your fault,' Piper returned smartly. 'Look at you, name-dropping just to get me into bed. I expected better, Vause, worldly woman such as yourself.'

That drew a deep, rumbling laugh from Alex, and Piper felt it like a shiver all the way down to her toes. 'Worldly, huh?' Alex looked at her over the rim of her glasses, that smirk on her lips again as she took the opportunity to stroke Piper's arm with the backs of her fingers. 'What makes you say that?'

'You mean, aside from the Tibetan rug we're sitting on, and the knick-knacks just lying around this place?' Piper hadn't travelled the world like she'd always wanted to - but she'd been on enough vacations to know the difference between something from a crowded flea market, and an overpriced hipster replica. 'Plus, the Dale Chihuly stuff was a giveaway. You don't just buy Dale Chihuly at Barney's.'

Piper wasn't sure whether Alex's grin was from amusement or something else, but then Alex was stroking her arm again, and suddenly she wasn't really sure of anything except that she wouldn't mind if Alex touched her just about anywhere.

'Please stop talking about Dale Chihuly. I will fucking give you that piece on the table if you stop right now.' Alex chuckled, looking down at the hand Piper leaned on the rug, drawing her own fingers down and tracing over Piper's knuckles. 'So, what else do I need to know, Dr. Chapman?'

She tried to focus on her beer, then at the empty box of pizza in front of them, but Piper's eyes kept going back to Alex's face, down the column of her throat, to where her shirt's loose neckline revealed a black bra strap stark against a pale shoulder. Hmm. 'To know about what?'

'What else do I need to know about you?'

'Need to know?' Piper repeated, squinting in scepticism, shaking her head to herself as she looked elsewhere. 'There isn't that much you need to know.'

'Don't be so fucking coy, Piper,' Alex said, though her smile rid any notion of irritation her words suggested. 'I could make at least a dozen different assumptions about you based on the meagre few hours I've been with you today, but I think we both know that it's more fun if you tell me about yourself so I can prove I was right and then make fun of you for it.'

Piper couldn't help a grin, and she pushed at Alex's shoulder. 'Oh, just shut up.' Giving a resigned sigh, Piper pressed her lips into a thin smile as Alex continued to smile expectantly. 'My parents split up when I was twelve, and my dad moved out here to New York while my mom stayed in Connecticut and I got shipped to boarding school- ' She paused when Alex's brows lifted. 'What?'

'Boarding school?'

There was a moment's hesitation before Piper said, 'Miss Porter's.'

'Oh Jesus,' Alex laughed, 'You're that kind of New Englander.'

'Excuse me?'

'WASPy,' Alex clarified, stifling a smile. 'The kind whose parents can afford forty grand a year on education alone.'

'...Yeah, well, while every other resident I know is sitting on two hundred thousand dollars worth of student loans, I'm debt-free thanks to those kinds of parents,' Piper said primly, finishing her beer. 'And what the hell would you know, you drive a Beemer and you're living in Tribeca in a kick-ass apartment with Dale Chihuly commissions lying around like last week's laundry.'

'Point taken,' Alex conceded, 'and while I'd normally argue that I bought this place with money I earned myself, I'm pretty sure my chances of getting laid tonight drop to about zero if I do.'

'Too late, they've dropped.' Piper sat straight, withdrawing her hand from the way Alex was running her thumb over the back of it.

Alex sat up with her, putting her beer aside. 'Hey, come on, I didn't mean anything by it. You sounded pretty glum about your uh, childhood, yourself.'

It was then that Piper realised that in sitting up, Alex had managed to move herself closer. Sneaky would have to be added to the kind of asshole that Alex was. 'I can be judgemental about my parents and my upbringing,' she said pointedly, feigning insult. 'You can't.'

'I wasn't judging,' Alex insisted softly, chuckling as she lifted a hand to tuck a stray lock of blonde hair behind her ear. 'It was a really bad attempt to be funny. Sorry.'

'I'm half-drunk and really tired,' Piper added with faux indignation, 'so I should be laughing at everything at this point. You just keep disappointing, Alex.' She shook her head, sighing dramatically, when she found Alex's face a whole lot closer than she remembered.

Alex pulled her glasses off, folding them and tucking them into the neck of her shirt as she leaned on a hand, her nose barely grazing Piper's. 'You're a real ball-buster, aren't you?' she murmured against Piper's mouth.

'Good thing you don't have any,' Piper returned, and any smart remark she might've had loaded and waiting to fire went completely forgotten because Alex was kissing her, and Piper's brain refused to pick itself up from the pile of mush it had become.

She felt the warmth of Alex's palm sliding down her neck, fingers slipping into the hair at her nape, and when Piper registered the floor at her back, Alex had gone from 'disappointing' to downright overachieving in all of a few seconds; her hand was smoothing over Piper's bare skin, and Piper was already half underneath her.

There was barely time to breathe, because, Piper found, Alex was just that good with her mouth. Alex's tongue swept between her lips, and then it was Piper trying to suck as much of Alex's mouth into her own, and she moaned when that same mouth left to trail down her throat. When Alex's hand drifted lower, tugging at the button and zipper of her jeans, Piper was too busy pulling at Alex's shirt to notice; there was no suggestion, no pretence. Alex made clear what she wanted, but then there was a moment's pause as Alex lifted her head, grinning down at Piper.

They were green, Piper realised. Alex's eyes were green. Pale, and flecked with curious golden shades that Piper could have spent all day counting.

But then those long fingers slipped beneath the waistband of her underwear, and Piper nearly choked on a gasp as they stroked, teased — and when they finally slid inside her, Piper's own fingers clawed at the rug, at Alex's shoulders, anywhere she could reach, as her head tilted back against the floor, hips lifting to move against Alex's hand.

The fingers moved fast, curling and withdrawing, then returning even deeper, and Piper couldn't recall ever being so close so fast. All she could see, all she could touch, was Alex, all she could breathe and taste was Alex, and Piper had never figured herself as an addict of anything, but this, this, she was sure, had to count as some kind of addiction, because with every little whimper and every single gasp that she made, Alex responded — slower, faster, Piper didn't care — and all she wanted was more.

This was an addiction, surely.

Alex's hand strained under the denim of Piper's jeans, and it was Piper's short-lived thought that maybe it might've been better to get rid of the pants altogether, when Alex quickened the pace, thumb rhythmically stroking along with her fingers inside as her mouth found a spot on Piper's neck and simultaneously agitated with her teeth and soothed with her tongue.

Piper barely lasted a minute then, a deep shudder ripping through her before she let out a soft cry and fractured, back arching against the rug, Alex's fingers drawing out every ounce of feeling from her body till it went slack.

There was a long minute as they panted together. 'I hope you're still not disappointed,' Alex said eventually, planting tiny kisses underneath Piper's jaw.

Piper couldn't see the smirk, but she could sure as hell hear it. 'Oh, no,' she breathed, her chest heaving, weakly lifting a hand to wave. 'Disappointment's too strong a word.' She managed to pat Alex's shoulder as the dark-haired head lifted. 'That was at least a solid B+.'

Something lit behind Alex's eyes, and despite her bones of jelly, Piper raised a brow defiantly.

'I wasn't exactly a straight A kinda student back in school,' Alex drawled, 'but you'd better keep a watch on that mouth before I shut it the only way I know how.'

'Okay, this I have to see.' Piper laughed despite Alex's expression. Alex, however, all but hauled her up the stairs to the bedroom on the mezzanine.

'Kid, you have no idea.'

It wasn't the sun that woke her.

It wasn't a hangover, either.

Perhaps it had something to do with the slight soreness. Or the arm slung over her back, and the woman not quite spooning beside her.

Piper was lying on her stomach, her face half-buried in a pillow. She warily blinked, taking in her surroundings as she pushed herself up on her elbows. Taking note of the splay of black hair on the pillow next to hers, Piper's eyebrows lifted on their own as she recalled the night before.



Clapping a palm to her forehead, Piper carefully inched towards the edge of the bed, the gentle aches in her body a reminder of last night, slipping out from beneath Alex's arm. What she'd been thinking, she wasn't totally sure of, but judging by the lack of the hangover, Piper guessed that the fumbling drunken encounter card was not on the table. Alex had been charming and funny, with excellent taste in just about everything, and clearly had the self-assurance to say what she thought. No matter how much Piper might have disagreed with an opinion, or had her own thoughts, she was always a sucker for the confident ones. To top it all off, Alex was a good lay.

A great lay.

A fan-fucking-tastic lay.

But even that fact didn't nullify the reality that it probably shouldn't happen again. Ever. Piper mentally groaned, swinging her legs off the side of the bed and bending over to search for her underwear. She was a resident, nearly in her third year, and she rarely had time to sleep, let alone sleep with someone on a regular basis. Alex had taken her through several spectacular rounds of unnervingly good — unbelievably good — sex, and Piper would have applauded herself for not passing out from sheer exhaustion right in the middle of it, but that must have been a fluke, because she barely had the energy to fix herself dinner most nights, let alone fuck for hours on end.

A fuck buddy arrangement would have served well, actually, but Piper would have made a terrible fuck buddy. All her energy went into running around the hospital and scrubbing in on surgeries and absorbing information. And torturing first-year interns. Piper sighed, more loudly than she'd meant to, and stood from the bed, pulling on her underwear.

'Isn't it polite to make your escape before I wake up?'

Piper nearly fell over, getting one foot caught in her panties as she pulled them on, and she quickly hopped around to face Alex, who, lying on her front, thousand-thread count sheets swathed over the curve of her rear, made Piper consider jumping back into bed. She blinked the thought away, but it came back insistently as her eyes fell on the salt shaker tattoo on the back of Alex's shoulder — she was pretty sure she'd licked that at some point last night —, and then she could hardly stop herself from drinking in the broad but slender shoulder blades, and the gorgeous slope of her back.

Jesus Christ, the woman should have come with a warning sign. A big one. In neon.

Beware of ludicrously hot lesbian. Armed and dangerous with magic hands and mouth. And orgasm voice.

'I have to go,' Piper said flatly, scouring the floor for her bra. She didn't actually need to go anywhere, not for a while, but she was sure she needed to go, just somewhere not in Alex's vicinity.

'Do you have work?' Alex shifted to her side, propping her head up on one hand as she reached for her glasses on the bedside with the other. 'I'll drive you, and we can grab some brunch on the way.' The smile on her face was wicked, and sent a flare of heat straight between Piper's legs, and when she laughed, Piper was sure Alex knew it had. 'You must be hungry after last night.' Her eyes glinted from behind the glasses. ''Cause whaddaya know, Hot Doctor Chapman is a tomcat in the sack.'

Turning away to hide the fact that her face was growing hot, Piper pulled the straps of her bra over her shoulders. 'I'll take a cab.'

If she turned around, she might have seen Alex's eyebrows lift in genuine surprise. 'Something wrong?' Alex asked, sitting up against the pillows, the sheets slithering even lower past her waist as she plucked her phone from the bedside and began sifting through messages.

Piper stalked to the railing of the balcony overlooking the kitchen, grabbing her jeans from the ledge. She supposed they must've been thrown in last night's... Festivities. 'No,' she muttered, pulling one leg through, then the other. 'No, everything's fine... Where the hell is my shirt?' Piper turned her head worriedly, walking around before dropping to her hands and knees to look. Alex's chuckle followed, but Piper fought to ignore it.

'If you're not gonna be late,' Alex said on a sigh that sounded like sin, 'then get your ass back in here.'

As Piper found her shirt by the foot of the bed, she stood up. 'I can't stay for another round, Rocky.'

'I'll make it quick.' Alex's smirk was no less enticing in making Piper want to smack it right off her face.

With her mouth.

So Piper didn't respond, only sitting on the edge of the bed, in her jeans and her bra, hauling her shirt over her head. She almost yelped when arms hooked around her middle and yanked her back into the centre of the bed.

Alex was laughing, and she took hold of Piper's wrists as they swatted valiantly, pinning them on either side of her head. 'I'm not even remotely done with you, and you're already half-dressed.' She leaned down, smirking against Piper's cheekbone as she pressed a kiss there. 'For a Porter's girl, your manners are terrible.'

Alex had lied.

She was a liar.

An attractive, annoying liar with self-esteem falling out of her perfectly formed ass.

Piper had thought it better to not waste the energy in fighting her way out of Alex's bed; what was one more orgasm following a night where she'd stopped counting how many times she came? Contrary to her assurance, Alex had not made it quick. She'd gone slowly, teased and drawn it out, till Piper had writhed every which way and, to Piper's shame, begged. Even when Alex had relented and made her come, it was on the condition that Alex drove her to work. And that Piper handed over her phone number.

'I'm not gonna send you on your way like a fucking hooker, Piper,' she'd said.

And so Piper sat in the cafeteria's outdoor area, knees brought up to her chest in one of the metal chairs in the middle of the day. The on-call room might have been a good idea, but Piper didn't particularly like the idea of trying to relax when interns, residents and attendings were boinking in the bunks. She wasn't tired. She'd slept pretty well, actually, and for the first time in a while, her body wasn't heavy when she'd rolled out of Alex's bed, but Piper relished the time she had when she knew she wouldn't be paged. More importantly, what was she going to do about Alex? She was in no position for regular sex, let alone any kind of relationship, and yet there the universe dangled Alex Vause who was as much as a walking personification of hot sex as she was exasperating.

'Dr. Chapman?'

'I am not here,' Piper announced, her face buried in her elbow on the table, 'I am not here, I am not on call, you do not see me, you do not exist. Begone.'

'I was just wondering if you could look over my notes. I have my Intern Test in a few weeks, so I thought...'

When Piper lifted her head, standing by her table was Tricia Miller, one of her interns. Piper wasn't sure if she liked Tricia or not; she wasn't unpleasant by any means, but Piper generally wasn't fond of any of her interns as a rule. 'Miller, I'm not even supposed to be here. I should be at home, sleeping, avoiding you and your exam notes and everybody else until I am on working hours.'

'I know — I know, 'cause you told us to remember your schedule so that we'd know when you were around and stuff — but you're the best resident, and everyone says that you'll probably be the best surg—'

'Okay, okay,' Piper sighed, leaning back in her chair, combing her hair away from her face with her fingers. 'But don't go overboard on the sucking up. And don't tell any of the other interns I'm doing this for you because if anyone else asks me for help like this, I'm coming after you.'

Tricia looked like she'd won the lottery, sitting down in the other chair at the table.

'Lemme see your notes.' Piper held out a hand expectantly. 'And while I'm looking them over, go grab me some coffee — from the cart at the front of the hospital — and some frozen yogurt from inside.'

As Tricia continued to beam, handing Piper the pile of papers, she nodded. 'Cream or sugar?'

'Cream and one sugar.' Rubbing her eyes, Piper brought her feet up onto Tricia's chair, and she flipped through the pages of her notes. She remembered the first day she'd met her interns, including Tricia; Tricia took instruction well, and was always eager to learn, but she was also the black sheep of the Piper's group of interns.

Scanning through Tricia's notes, Piper regretted not asking for a pen. Tricia appeared to have a tendency to take verbatim notes, and as a result of writing as fast as the doctors were speaking, the writing was messy, and likely to cause confusion when Tricia reviewed them.

'Always working even when you're not, aren't you, Dr. Chapman?'

Piper followed the voice, smiling and taking her feet down from the chair when she saw the owner holding a tray of food. 'Oh, hey, Sister Ingalls.'

'Thank you,' Sister Ingalls said, sitting down and placing her tray on the table, nodding her head toward the papers. 'Those are Dr. Miller's exam notes, I presume?'

'Hm? Oh — yeah, she asked me to look over them, and I guess she caught me in a relatively less unsympathetic mood, so...'

'Yes, the nurses keep telling me she's studying when she's not working, sleeping when she's not studying, and hanging onto every word you doctors have to say,' Sister Ingalls chuckled, picking up a fork and starting on her salad. 'But even I've noticed that she's quite a fan of yours.'

Piper gave a resigned smile. 'Yeah, well, it's a miracle considering I make it a point to be a pain in the butt for all my interns. Teaches them how to be resilient and all.' She rested her chin in her hand. 'So, how about you, any miracles today?' Sister Ingalls wasn't hospital staff, exactly, but she spent her days at Hudson-Vaucluse to oversee the chapel, and to also visit the patients, particularly those undergoing major procedures, and the terminally ill. She was, in fact, a favourite of the children in the paediatrics department.

'Miracles occur every day, Piper, and you certainly don't need to believe in God to know that.' Sister Ingalls chuckled, patting Piper's hand. 'Look at us, for instance. I'm a frigid Catholic nun, you're a stubborn atheist, and you're still my favourite doctor in the hospital. Tell me that's not a miracle in itself.'

'Well, you got me on that one.' Laughing as she sat back, Piper straightened Tricia's notes into a pile.

'Although one of the OD patients in the ER did call me the Pope's bitch when she woke up,' Sister Ingalls noted casually, forking a cherry tomato. 'I like to think of myself more as the Pope's homie.'

This one took a little longer to pump out, but I was really unhappy with a lot of parts, and even now I'm still not sure about bits here and there. A few of you mentioned that we barely got to see Alex in the previous chapters, while others noticed that I was introducing the other characters into the story, which is pretty much what I'm trying to do. Alex and Piper are a mainstay, of course, but my whole AU can't revolve around them, simply because I'd never planned it to be that way. There are other characters, other stories in this universe, and I hope you guys stick around to read them. I didn't want this to be a linear story, or a story that focuses on one thing.

This AU is a whole re-creation and re-imagining that I've taken a lot of creative liberties with, and a lot of other plots and characters do exist within it to make it come to life as much as our beloved Piper and Alex do. I haven't even brought in all the regular characters yet, so I just want to remind you guys that this isn't a whambam quick fix of Vauseman. We're in for the long haul on this one, not to be dragged out, but for stories to be told.

As always, I'm always happy to discuss OITNB and the fic through PM/reviews, and always appreciate the reviews you guys leave. It lets me know I'm not doing a total fuck-up job of things. ^^