Coffee and Other Forms of Poison

Chapter 9

Alex was ready to leave the house at 8:37 and she tried her hardest to leave without a peep. Unfortunately, the very indiscrete clopping of her heels made her motives far too obvious for her intent and Amelia dragged her back in the house. She somehow managed to get her mother in a pair of sweats and on couch to watch a movie with her.

The movie was terrifying as usual.

Alex ended up in her lap and Amelia had to play the mommy as usual.

And Alex denied every scream, whimper, and everything said along the lines of “Holy fuck" as usual.

But Alex deemed the bloodcurdling film as preparation for the unpredictable night ahead. Her heart would throb much harder than it was during the movie and her head would spin much faster. She swallowed the adrenaline like a drug to numb the rising tension in her chest.

It's fine. Everything's going to be fine.


Piper was settling down with a glass of wine when she heard Alex's message. A little piece of her wanted to squeal like a prepubescent girl when she heard the voicemail, but the majority of her felt like passing out. Listening to the easy rasp of her voice through the line sent tremors plunging down her spine and through all the ends of her body. She imagined her pacing the proximity of her bedroom and unnecessarily adjusting her glasses as she did whenever she spoke. Piper felt cold and hot at the same time and it was like the whole thing was a fevered dream. Maybe it was because of the wine or maybe it was because Alex Vause, sexy, angry, Alex Vause deliberately called her, but she felt a swaying dizziness begin to rock her back and forth. After riding with the listless wave for a little while, she replaced her wine with cold water and dressed.


Alex was already waiting for her, scotch in hand.

Piper felt the hour-old wine churn in her stomach and her throat close up with angst.

Alex felt almost relieved to see her. Like she was genuinely scared that Piper wouldn't come. And she was genuinely afraid that she would see the blonde again, even with the 18 women she had whisked away from sleazy nightclubs and bitter nights throughout the course of the month. But lo and behold, there she was, right in front of her. She looked so tired. Even though she looked just as fucking perfect as Alex always remembered, she saw strokes of violet beneath the fair skin around her smokey eyes.

Alex was partially correct. Piper wasn't tired, she was homesick.

When Piper's eyes found Alex amid the sea of nobodies, she felt like she was home. Inhaling the long missed scents of familiarity to remedy the aches of nostalgia that resided in her chest. She wanted too badly to collapse in Alex’s arms and bury her nose into the crook of her neck. She wanted to breathe her. She wanted to feel the warmth of her skin through her clothing, kiss the dip of her collarbone and know that Alex wanted to do the same. But she knew she couldn't. Timing was everything now. And now was nowhere near appropriate for that sort of sentiment.

They started at each other in silence, absorbing every detail of each other until their hearts were at capacity. Alex's nails were chiming against the glass she nursed and Piper locked her freezing hands together.

Alex was fighting a war to resist the oncoming urges to close the taunting distance between them. They would come in waves and it was one hell of a struggle to battle against them. Finding the right words to say to her was an even bigger one. She was scouring her turbulent mind for the right sequence of words to describe how much she missed her and how much she fucking needed her. How vital she was. And the pent up anxiety was starting to shut her down.

"Pipes- Piper. Come home with me." She could practically hear the ghost of Amelia laughing her ass off at how amazingly unsubtle she was.

Ghost Amelia was right. And kind of a bitch about it too.

Piper's pupils were blown far past her irises at the blatantness of the phrase. They were forlorn and it made Alex feel like she hung on the edge of oblivion. But something in the sea of black and blue let Alex know that the blonde’s emotions were mirroring her own. That she knew how badly Alex wanted to caress her skin and rake her fingers through her endless maze of blonde hair over and over again. It made the forming lump in her throat grow thicker.

"Alex I-" Piper's voice was barely above a whisper.

"I know. I just- We both need this. I'll never speak to you again if that's what you want. Fuck, just- Please." Alex was begging and she cursed herself for sounding so weak. She was clamping down on the flesh inside her cheek as her heartbeats thumped in her ringing ears. Alex was fully correct this time. They did both need this and it took a few weighted moments for Piper to work up the strength to nod her head yes.

Alex had to mask her sigh of relief with a sneeze.


The ride there felt a whole lot shorter than usual, giving them little to no time to compose themselves before they stepped inside the empty penthouse. They were overwhelmed and they were completely still at the same time. They were both gasping for breath and yet their lungs would be full with every drink of air. It was all a paradox. A poignant oxymoron. Everything felt normal and foreign all at once and even though they memorized each other’s faces, it was like they were seeing an unnamed stranger. Coffee and poison were one in the same as long the closeness they craved felt so distant.

Piper noticed that Alex was shaking when she was turning the knob of the door, almost giving her some justification for her nerves. But the blonde's stomach hiccuped into her ribcage when she walked in and she had to blink back the sting of tears when she smelled Alex in the air.

She paced around aimlessly for a bit before Alex handed her a shallow glass of whiskey. She cradled her drink and took spaced out sips as she scanned the place for a while longer. The glass coffee table was as reflective as it was when she first saw it. The quaint yet endlessly sophisticated round table still sat in its place next to the broad window. The chairs too. Everything was how she left it three months ago. It was almost heartbreaking as to how exact it was.

An open door at the end of the hallway caught her wandering eye. It was a door that she always thought was a wall. She neared it slowly, as if she was afraid of what was inside. And since she almost was, she thought it best to ask.

"What's in there? All the times I've gone here, I've never seen that room." All hints of fear left and they were replaced with childlike curiosity. She meandered down the short corridor and peered into the room before walking completely inside. She felt Alex close at her tail.

"It's the kid's art studio and bedroom. She doesn't normally leave the door open at night. It was supposed to be an office for myself, but I figured she needed the space more than I did."

Piper had to swallow down the “holy shit” that was begging to escape her lips. It was a wonderland there. Everything the room held was beyond the word beautiful. No word or combination of sounds existed to describe how fascinating it all was.

The room itself was art. There was no source of artificial light to be found. (Piper assumed that it was all sunlit and it made her admire the place even more.) Models of animals, live plants, and various splats of paint were scattered about the place. Brushes and instruments of every shape and kind were in a neat arrangement on a table in the corner of the room. Advanced works of anatomy with their Latin names, landscapes, and portraiture on hung on proud display on the walls. The scent of paint and creativity lingered in her nose along with traces of Alex. She inhaled the aroma like a fatal drug. She felt a smile unfold across her cheeks when she saw the war horse painting from when they first met standing on an easel, a blue ribbon pinned to the corner. She finally saw the now (almost) finished mural of the violet eyes on the back wall and her jaw nearly dropped to the floor.

She couldn’t contain her “Holy shit” that time.

She looked a little further down and found the brilliant artist who made the place, sleeping soundly on the splattered tarp with her brushes and palette.

She was in a stained t shirt and there were colors all in her ebony hair. Her legs were pulled in close to her chest and though she only saw the back of her, she seemed so peaceful. Piper couldn’t help but chuckle to herself. It was all too picturesque.

"Oh." Alex smiled too when she noticed the girl. She bit down a laugh as she crept over and gently shook her from her slumber. The woman helped her to her feet and led the half asleep artist to her to the bed a few feet away. Amelia went limp again upon contact with the plush mattress and Alex tucked the covers over her petite frame. Amelia mumbled incoherently as she squirmed about and Alex squatted next to the bed and shushed her, reminding the girl that she was still there. She raked her hands through her midnight hair and continued the tender motion long after she stopped moving. Her hands moved down to caress her moonlit cheek and Piper saw a smile curve the shape of her lips.

"Night, baby." Alex planted a kiss on the girl's forehead and left a final stroke soft against the side of her face. Amelia never knew that Alex called her that. Ever. From the moment she was born, it was always "kid". The girl even preferred it. But Alex would slip the name every so often when she was asleep. As much as Alex loved to call her by her signature pet name, "baby" was one that was sacred only to her. It was the one that made her feel like a mother. It reminded her of how unexpected her daughter was. How a cocky twenty-year-old Alex would howl with laughter at the idea of having a child. It reminded her of how painless raising her was. It brought memories of Amelia picking up on big words and tracing over her tattoos and her Eskimo kisses in the winter time. It reminded Alex how much she really fucking loved her. And it reminded her that her almost eighteen-year-old was still her baby and that no matter what happened, she always would be.

"Sorry, that happens every so often," Alex said as she walked back to Piper, who was still wistfully gazing as the sleeping girl.

"No, no it's fine." It was more than fine with Piper. She was replaying the beautiful scene over and over in her mind. Her heart melted at how cinematic it was. Alex putting her very teenaged daughter to sleep was like watching a celestial lullaby being sung by one angel to another. Motherly Alex was the most beautiful form of Alex there was. She looked like she was one with the moon that bathed the both of them. She quieted the roars of the vicious city below them and cast away the bellowing of the world in those moments. Something about this Alex made Piper want to cry. Either because it was all too perfect or because she wanted nothing but to be apart of those moments. Maybe it was both, but Piper didn’t care why. All she knew was that she couldn’t stand the depravity any longer.

Both of them watched Amelia sleep in silence, their breaths keeping in time with her’s.

“She’s a damn good kid. I have no clue how,” Alex chuckled to herself, almost as if she didn’t know that she was the one who raised her.

“Well that’s because she has you.” It took Piper a minute to realize that she let that slip. It wasn’t bad that she said it, it just wasn’t in good timing.

And timing was everything now.

“Sorry I-”

“No, it’s-”

Both of them were awkwardly fumbling with the situation. Piper looked down at their shoes, Alex settled her teeth into her lip. The two of them were listening to the phrase on repeat. The words has flowed from her so naturally, as if she had known that Alex was a mother this whole time. As if she had known that Alex cried every night for a year when she was twenty-one and stuck with a baby and a job in a drug ring. The words were so casual. So right.

Then blue met green and everything was said in silence.

“I’m sorry.”

“I know.”

“I love you.”

Alex didn’t need words to answer. She tattooed the response on Piper’s aching lips.


The sex was nice.

It wasn’t rushed or ravenous like most of their nights were. It was chaste in a way. Nothing freakishly erotic or experimental. Alex was gentle with her, making sure she was fine throughout as if Piper was a virgin. No gesture was rough and no wounds or scratches marked their bodies. Every touch was soft and tender, as if every movement was showing love in different languages.

Neither of them actually said the words though.

They let their bodies do all the talking.

But the kiss.

The kiss was everything.

It was frantic. When Alex pressed her starving lips on Piper’s, it was like every paradox and mystery of their turbulent relationship finally made sense. She was recklessly tangling her hands into the gold strands of Piper’s hair and hanging onto her every moan like it was gospel. Every knot in her back was unraveled as she felt the blonde’s tongue run across her lip. Piper’s blood was lukewarm as it rushed through her body and as her hands rushed up to Alex’s neck. Goosebumps freckled her body when she felt a hand slide up her shirt. She was crazed with want and desire like an animal in the wild. Both of them were fire then. And they burned together.

Neither of them could tell who woke up first either. As soon as one of them opened their sleep laden eyes, they found the opposite pair already awake. Piper did her classic slow blink and Alex responded with her classic low hum in response. Their feet whined against the cold tile, not used to the icy shock, but they continued their walk to the kitchen as they had done a thousand times before.

Alex’s eyes strained to see over her shoulder when she was checking to see if Piper was still there.

She thought she was sneaky.


“What what.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“What?” Alex nervously adjusted her glasses.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m right behind you.”

Alex hid her blush behind her hair. She never blushed. Ever.

Piper kept her word and followed her all the way into the kitchen. She retrieved her own mug from the mahogany cabinet above the stove and filled her own cup of coffee. She even made them toast. As if she lived here. As if she shared the place with Alex. But the other woman didn’t mind. She didn’t mind at all.

They redid parent-teacher conferences. Piper raved at how knowledgeable Amelia was and how she wished that she’d have more input in discussions. Alex laughed at that, making sure Piper knew how unlikely that was.

“We Vauses are more the dark horse type.” She said as she cocked her eyebrow. Piper tried to come up with something witty to say, but she found herself stuttering and blushing when Alex laughed. Her gaze focused on the woman’s smirked lips. But when she brought her blue eyes to meet Alex’s, the smirk released into a warm smile.

They held that gaze for a while, almost unable to break it. But Piper’s hands wandered across the table and found Alex’s. They grazed over the tops of her fingers and ran over the surface of her wrist. Alex took her eyes away to watch, but after a while she turned her own hand over and held the blonde’s, weaving her thumb through her knuckles.

It was like their hands were falling in love with each other too.

They eventually arose and gathered Piper’s things, as they had done so many times in the past. She stepped into her shoes and into her coat, ready for the cab that waited outside.

Alex walked her to the door, opening it for her. But Piper turned around to look at her.

Her eyes momentarily met Amelia, who was standing in the corridor, a knowing smile spread across her gentle face.

The tilted her head in the direction of her mother and Piper obeyed.

And they stood there. Every moment and shadow and changing season led them to the inside of a doorframe at 10:27 in the morning, with every inch of nostalgia in the cracks of the tile and uncertainty in the corners of their skin.

“Hey, uh. This isn’t the last time we see each other.”

Alex smiled.

“I hope not.”

She stayed there for just a moment longer and then she started off, the words ringing in her ears.

Amelia walked out from her hiding spot and joined Alex, wrapping her arms around her mother’s body.

Alex did the same to her daughter as they watched Piper grow smaller until she gone.

“Are we gonna be okay?”

“We’ll be okay. I promise.”

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