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Faulty Wiring

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Faulty Wiring

Lorna Morello always had a knack for story-telling. It began as a creative outlet in childhood but soon drifted into young adulthood as a fantasy of lies that she truly and utterly found herself enthralled in. Christopher was the start of it all. The reason she was in the predicament she was in at this very moment. Why she was locked away in Litchfield max, secretly missing her beloved redhead lover/best friend. Why she was pretending her deceased infant son was going home with her husband Vince Muccio. It was all thanks to that Christopher, she told herself as she lie miserably awake on her bunk each night.

Where she put the blame on Christopher, it was everybody else who said it was really all her own doing. She chose to believe in her own fantasies. She created this disastrous destiny all on her own. The several therapists she talked to throughout her teens and even into her early twenties deemed she had 'faulty wiring'. Her brain hadn't seemed to be wired the way everyone else's had. Which made believing her own embellished stories that much easier. She was born to get herself into prison was what one of them had told her during a session. It saddened her that such a statement, years later, turned out to be completely true. She was locked behind bars because of her own faulty wired brain.

The same brain that also had her trapped in a marriage with Vince Muccio rather than being with the person she truly loved. And, now, that seemed to be something that would never be in her grasp again. That realization only made withdrawing into her fantasy even more enticing. She couldn't have Nicky anymore but she was able to hold onto the memory of her beloved baby boy. No one in here had to know he passed away from pneumonia. And, she told herself, it wasn't like anyone would care either way. All she had these days was herself. Nicky was already moved on with some tater tot loving girl and Red seemed to have her own issues to deal with. Lorna had to fend herself. The only way she knew how to cope was to fantasize.

Nothing hurt worse than to watch one's soulmate make sexual advances to another being right in front of her. But that was exactly what Lorna had to witness each day during kitchen duty at the ICE detention center. It felt like a piece of her had been ripped away every time she saw Nicky and tater tot lover snickering together. Or sending sexy winks back and forth to one another. It made her skin crawl. Her face and knuckles turn a deathly shade of white. It took everything in her to not utter a word. She did this to herself. The faulty wiring in her brain made her choose that fucking Vinny over Nicky. This was what she got for being so wishy-washy. No Nicky and no baby boy to go home to in a year. Life was falling apart and she had no one but a beat-around-the-bush husband to turn to. The man who hadn't called or visited since the news of baby Sterling.

The routine continued everyday for weeks. More and more, she found herself spending whatever free time she had left lying on her bunk and staring at pictures of random babies on her contraband phone. Wishing her little boy was still alive. That she had a reason to live after her time in prison. At this point, she had slim to nothing waiting for her when she got out. Nicky was still freezer-fucking tater tot lover; Red was regressing gradually (almost like her own self) and Vinny was as useful as a doornail. He hadn't come by in almost a month. Hadn't answered any of her calls. Lorna had to rely on herself to get through the lonely hours—days.

"Morello," a voice called out.

Barely peeping her head up from the tiny device in her hand, Lorna sighed and looked out at the person in the doorway. "Hmm?"

"Heard your name on the loudspeaker. Ya got a visitor—might wanna get down to the visitation room before they shut it down."

Lorna sighed. She watched as the random inmate walked away from her cell. Was Vinny finally coming to see her after so long? Shaking her head tiredly, she shut the phone off and tucked it securely into her pillowcase making sure to adjust it so that it couldn't be noticed. The walk down was a long, silent, one. She didn't know how she felt about seeing Vinny again. After not hearing from him since the passing of their son. She sucked in a breath when she turned the corner into the room. It was too late to change her mind now, she knew.

"Hey," he greeted once she sat down on the other side of the window and picked up her phone. The expression on his olive-toned face wasn't exactly the most comforting.

"Hey," she muttered back. Her shoulders bouncing up and down.

Vinny swallowed, visibly uncomfortable. He tapped his fingers against the bottom of the receiver. "So, uh, I've been doing a lotta thinking," he slowly began, eyes looking anywhere but at Lorna's face. "I think…I think it'd be best if we divorce."

Lorna's eyes widened at such a suggestion. As if things weren't hard enough right now, he wanted to add a divorce to the mix? She couldn't comprehend where this was coming from, no matter how hard she tried to think. "A divorce? You—you want a divorce, Vinny? You haven't answered any of my calls and haven't visited me since you told me about our baby's death…and-and you want to fucking divorce me?"

"Look…I know it's a bit shocking. But, uh, I just—I can't deal with this right now. I'm not husband material. The baby's death made realize how much I don't want this right now. How I was never ready for this to begin with. I'm sorry, Lorna. Ya gotta understand though, right?" He pleaded, his face a desperate mien.

"What? Huh? I don't—what the hell? I can't," Lorna whispered, her cheeks dampening with a fountain of tears. She shook her head in disbelief, hands trembling as they slammed the phone down. "I can't," she repeated in a louder, shrieking, tone. She frisked her way out of there, running as far as her legs would take her. Everything was seemingly crumbling in around her. She realized she finally hit rock bottom. At this point, she truly had no one to turn to. No one to help her anymore. The faulty wiring would be the end of her.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

With the extra COs running around in maximum security, Lorna found it quite the task trying to find a secluded place to hide away in. Her world was crashing in on her and she couldn't get away from any of it. The only place she knew she'd be able to hide was in the same closet she remembered the labor pain started. The place that started all of this downward, painful, slope of hers. The demise of Lorna Morello she deemed it.

Inhaling a deep, sharp, breath, Lorna gradually opened the door of the closet and made her way inside. She closed the door back up and sat with her back against the wall, pulling her knees up o her chest. She had only a week to sign the papers—the papers that would take away her marriage, the life she thought was supposed to be hers. First, her baby died and now her own husband was leaving her. And at the lowest point in her life to boot. She had absolutely no one to help her through one of the worst things a person can go through. All she had was herself…and that wasn't much. She was doomed, she knew.

So, she sat in the secluded custodial closet and freely let the tears flow from her brown orbs. Her mind swarmed with thoughts. Thoughts of how all of what she lived for—or believed she was living for—came crashing to a halt. Thoughts of how the one person who truly and deeply cared for her seemed to be moving on just fine without her. It felt as though no one needed—or wanted—Lorna anymore. She just existed. There was no reason for her existence now, however, she concluded.

The faulty wiring in her brain sealed this awful fate she seemed to be acquainted with. It brought on the path she chose to walk—the path that only lead to a dead end. She was all alone at the bottom of a ditch with no one to pull her up and nothing to hold onto. She had no idea if she'd ever get herself out of this unlit tunnel. If she'd ever be the same bubbly person she once was. All she knew was that she couldn't see the light at the end of it—she had nothing to keep her going. To keep her from wanting to take her last breath.

Hours passed as she resumed the same position, tears slowly drying up and leaving faint marks on her pale cheeks. She hadn't any clue as to what time it could be nor did she really care until she remembered she still had to leave for kitchen duty. Exhaling sharply, she wiped at her face with her arm and forced herself to stand up. The last thing she needed was to get in trouble with the officers for not attending her work shift.

"Where've ya been, Lorna?" Gloria Mendoza's light Hispanic accent softly questioned; an eyebrow arched inquisitively over her brown eyes. She threw on the apron they were all made to wear and gloves while awaiting the young woman's response.

Shook from her daze, Lorna looked up from the task at hand and forced a smile to her face. Like hell she was going to let anyone know how truly defeated she felt. How empty of a shell she was. "I kinda forgot what time it was, ya know? Just was hanging out in a closet with a book. Lost track a time," she lied through her teeth. Something she found herself doing much more often since Sterling's passing. It was the only way she knew how to cope with tragedy. The only way she could keep herself from falling apart.

Dicing tomatoes for that afternoon's supper, Gloria nodded slightly unconvinced. She handed a couple of fresh onions to the short brunette across from her. "I need ya to cut these into rings. They're gonna go in the pot with the tomatoes," she informed her, placing the pile of diced tomatoes in the pot she mentioned. Her brown eyes looked Lorna over thoughtfully.

"How's your son doing? What'd ya say his name is again?"

The simple inquiry left a sour taste in Lorna's mouth. Keeping up this charade seemed almost impossible. Until she remembered that she didn't have anyone to help her through the mourning. She had to make people think she was fine, she just had to.

"Oh, he's doing much better. Little Sterling is a fighter—Vinny just visited this morning to tell me they're finally allowing him to take our son home. Isn't that wonderful?"

Talking about kids with other inmates always brought a slight warmth to the Hispanic woman's heart. Made her think of her own two boys that she couldn't wait to go home to in a few short months. She smiled kindly as she nodded her head. "That's great news. That means he'll probably bring the baby to visit you sometime soon, right? How old is Sterling now?"

Lorna swallowed uncomfortably, eyes staring down at the knife in her hand. She took in the sharpness of its edge and longed to let it tear open her skin. She needed something to release all the emotions that swarmed inside of her. Emotions that she had to keep locked away. Without looking up, she nodded slowly. Digging the knife through the onion. "Oh, yeah, of-of course. He's planning to bring him when he turns three months old next month. I can't wait to finally see my baby in person. I only got to hold him for a second before those nurses snatched him away from me."

"I'm so sorry," the middle-aged woman muttered, using a spoon to stir the tomatoes around in the pot. "The most memorable part of giving birth to my boys was that first time I got to hold them. And you didn't really get that. I can't imagine how painful that is nor do I want to."

"At least I'll be able to hold him as much as I want when I get outta this place."

The rest of the shift, Lorna kept silent and—when no one was looking—tucked the knife into her bra, cushioning it with a bunch of napkins to keep it from protruding. Seeing the sexual banter between Nicky and – what was her name? she thought – Shani only made her want to get back to max faster. So she could lock herself away in the closet and finally release all of her inner pain. Her inner emotions. She patted her hand against her breasts, trying to keep the knife from being noticeable.

"Morello?" That familiar oddly accented voice called out.

Lorna looked up to come face-to-face with the very woman who made her skin crawl. The woman who took Nicky away from her. She swallowed hard and forced a broken smile. There was no point in getting angry, she realized, not when she had plans to take out all of her feelings on herself later that evening. "Yeah?" The word came out in a hushed tone.

"You were Nicky's romantic partner, yes?" The long-haired Egyptian woman inquired; her dark brows inquisitively arched.

"Why-why do you ask?" The shorter brunette nervously threw out her question, staring down at her cotton shirt. How she longed to just get back to the prison. To lock herself away from the world.

Shani's orbs peered unreadably over at the other. As if searching for something. "You don't mind that she's hooking up with me now, do ya? I think she might be the one for me, ya know? And I just want to be sure that the two of you are finished. I can see her giving you looks every now and then and I don't like it. I just want to be clear that there's nothing left between you and her, right?"

Hooking up with her now? She might be the one? Lorna's eyes widened. She stared straight ahead at the woman as though she had two heads. "What?"

Shani blinked and shrugged her shoulders. "Huh? Oh, I just was saying how you got a piece of onion knotted in your hair." She moved a finger to point at the exact location from a few feet away. A friendly smile on her face.

It took a moment for Lorna to process everything. Did she just imagine the conversation in her head? Was she hallucinating? She shifted uncomfortably in her spot. "Oh. Uh, thanks," she mumbled, removing the piece of produce from her dark waves.

Standing beside the rather tall Egyptian woman, Nicky stared at the brunette with a deep bout of concern growing. She reached across the counter to place a hand comfortingly on her shoulder. "You okay, kid?"

"Yeah, yeah. Course' I'm fine. I needa go. I have to call Vinny, see how Sterling's doing," Lorna muttered, taking off her apron and placing it on the hook on her way out.

The redhead quickly said goodbye to Shani and was rapidly on Lorna's tail. As soon as she caught up to her, she stopped her by wrapping a concerned arm around her shoulder. She peered worriedly into her eyes. "You sure you're okay? Ya look a little pale and not really with us here…Ya getting sick or somethin', doll?"

Although she craved Nicky's touch and affection, she couldn't accept it. Not after Nicky chose that tater-tot loving Shani. After she stopped paying attention to both herself and Red and the rest of their family. She shook her head briskly and reluctantly pulled away from the familiar, comforting, touch. "Doesn't matter," her voice no louder than a whisper.

"Of course it matters. You matter to me."

"I shouldn't. Ya got Shani now. You don't need to be worrying about me anymore, hon. I'm not your problem." Lorna replied back, resuming her walk back to the van.

Nicky, once again, stopped her by placing a tender hand onto her shoulder. "Stop it, kid. I will always care about you even if we're only friends. You're important to me and I can't just stop fucking worrying. What's going on with you?"

"Instead of worrying about me, worry about Red. She needs you more than I do, Nicky. I'm gonna go back to prison and call my husband. See how my son is. Maybe pretend my life isn't going to shit for once."

Despite what she told the other women, Lorna planned to spend her evening away from civilization in her newfound abandoned custodial closet. The minute the van returned them back to the maximum facility, she took off down the hall in leu of her new place of hiding. Her one safe space where no one could bother her. Where she could finally release all of the anguish—all of the pain and despair.

She shut the door as soon as she entered and moved towards the back in case anyone else decided to come in. Once she felt comfortable enough, she reached inside of her shirt for the knife she stole. She cradled it in her shaky hands for a few moments. Letting her eyes stare it over meticulously. The sharpness didn't scare her. Rather it washed her with a sense of peace. This was exactly what she needed to help alleviate some of the hurt, the grief, the anger.

It took her a while before she placed the knife against the skin of her upper arm. She had to do it on a part of her that could be hidden. Where people wouldn't notice and give her concerned glances. Or give reason for anyone to deem her as crazy. She already knew she was crazy—what sane person would contemplate cutting her skin with a sharp knife? No one she knew. No one but a crazy, faulty-wired, mentally unstable person like herself.

"Do it," she told herself, eyes piercing darkly at the object lying against her flesh. "Do it, Lorna. No one wants you anyway. No one will care if ya cut yourself."

She sucked in a large breath and began to let the blade of the knife make contact with her skin. At first, it was painful and a squeal escaped from her throat. But the second time hadn't felt too bad. Tears immediately came pouring from her eyes as specs of blood started to seep through the cuts. "Vinny doesn't want you anymore and Nicky found someone else. Someone better than you. You're not good enough for no one, Lorna."

The more she thought about everything, the harder she stuck the knife through her skin. If she ended up dead, she didn't give a shit. No one would miss Lorna Morello anyway. She watched the blood through blurred eyes. She contemplated cutting her chest but didn't think she was ready for that. If she missed the spot and someone came in, she knew she'd be doomed to the psyche ward and that was much worse than death.

The door's creaking against the floor of the closet quickly halted Lorna's actions. She threw the knife back into her bra and used the wrinkled napkins to wrap around the bleeding wound on her arm before pulling the sleeve down to cover it. Her eyes averted over towards the now open door to see who had interrupted and was shocked to see that it was Alex Vause. Who she hadn't seen since she and Nicky participated in their unofficial prison wedding.

"Lorna? You're the one who I'm selling this pack of drugs to?" The tall black-haired woman questioned with an unsure expression plastered on her face.

Lorna gulped at inquiry. But since she was on a roll with lies, she nodded her head shakily. "What kind ya-ya got?"

The shakiness in her tone had alarm bells ringing in Alex's head. She folded her arms over her chest and gave a firm stare down to the younger woman. "Lorna, are ya really sure you're here to get drugs? You're the last person who I'd ever expect to want something so harmful. What's going on?"

"Just tell me what kinda drugs ya got…please?"

If there wasn't such an eerie vibe in the room, Alex would have laughed at the comment. The only person to want drugs from her who knew how to use manners. But she didn't laugh, only let her blue orbs look the petite brunette over in sympathy. "Heroin. Ya know the same stuff that got Nicky sent here. Maybe not a wise decision for you to take it. Nicky wouldn't want ya to do that to yourself, Lorna."

"Nicky won't know. She's kinda busy anyway," Lorna muttered, eyes staring down at the floor. She sighed quietly, having no idea what the hell she was getting herself into. But she reminded herself it hadn't matter anyway. No one was there to care anymore.

Alex threw the tiny packet back and forth between her hands. Not sure whether she wanted to give such a harmful drug to someone who used to be her friend. She didn't feel comfortable doing that. Couldn't imagine why someone like Lorna would even consider using. She inhaled sharply, softening the expression on her face. "Ya wanna talk about what's bothering you? Why are you so suddenly into the idea of taking hardcore drugs like heroin?"

"A lotta shits been going on and I just need a way out, okay?

"What kinda shit?"

Lorna rolled her neck around her shoulders, growing irritated with the prying questions. "I don't wanna talk about it. Can I just have the drugs, please? What do I gotta pay ya?"

Gripping her hand tighter around the small packet, Alex shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know if I can give this to ya then. If ya want them that bad, at least tell me what's happened. You are the last person anyone would ever expect to take drugs. Some real bad shit must have happened to make ya turn to that, yeah? What?"

She didn't expect to be leaving this custodial closet with a pack of heroin either. But it was the only way she could explain why she was sitting in a secluded closet to begin with. It was better than Alex's finding out she had locked herself in there to cut herself. No matter how hard it was to tell the truth to someone, she had to do it to save herself a visit to the psyche.

"My, my little boy—Sterling—he didn't make it, he died from pneumonia Vinny said and," she began, a few sniffles interrupting her words, "and he-he came by a few weeks ago to-to tell me he-he's divorcing me and Nicky…Nicky's been a little busy freezer-fucking this girl who loves tater tots. So ya know life's going real great right now. I feel so great."

A sad sigh made its way up from the older woman's windpipe. She used her free hand to place comfortingly over Lorna's arm, stroking it lightly with her fingers. "Oh, Lorna, I'm so sorry to hear that. I know how much you were looking forward to being a mom—we all did. What the fuck? Why would Vinny divorce right after you lost your baby? What an asshole. Nicky's fucking some girl in the freezer? Wow. When did all this happen? Does Nicky know about Vinny and the baby?"

"What about the baby? Sterling is going home with Vinny today. He just came and told me at visitation." Lorna's instincts automatically kicked in. Making her realize just how far done the rabbit hole she was. She shook her head furiously as tears soaked her porcelain cheeks. "I mean no, Nicky knows none of this. I've been telling her and everyone that he-he's fine. I don't know what else to do. That's why I need these drugs. Just lemme have em' so I can go."

"Lorna, you need to tell Nicky. You have to. She would want to help ya through this. You're not getting heroin; I can't give it to you. I'm sorry, it's not happening. You need to go find Nicky and talk to her. If you don't, I will. Because using heroin won't do anything to help you, it'll just mess with your brain."

Lorna chortled at the comment. She threw her arms up in despair. "My brain's already messed up, Alex. What's a little heroin? Come on, just give me one little pack and I won't ever ask for another. Please. I need an escape from this. I don't got no one…at least heroin might let me feel at peace again."

The blood seeped through her sleeve and Lorna was mortified when she saw it, clear-as-day, drip from her arm all the way to the ground. Visible to both she and Alex. She shifted uncomfortably in her spot.

"Is that blood on your arm?" Alex inquired shakily.

Lorna swallowed hard. She turned her head away, not wanting to see the expression on her face. "It could be."

"Why is your arm bleeding? Did someone do this to you? Was it that girl Nicky's sleeping with? What's going on, Lorna?"

She shook her head. Tension rose throughout her entire body. She bit the bottom of her lip, hoping Alex wouldn't tell a CO about this and get her sent to the psychiatric unit. That's the last thing she needed at that moment. "I-I cut my arm."

Tightening her grip, Alex peered firmly into her eyes. "You cut your arm? On purpose? Did ya do it in here? Fuck…is that why you were in here? You came here to cut yourself? With what? How did ya get anything sharp in here?"

"I kinda stole a knife from the kitchen at ICE…I just needed some damn release, okay? It's no big deal. I'm fine. Don't say a word to anyone, please. Especially not Nicky. She don't want me no more anyway."

Holding a hand over her mouth, Alex couldn't believe her words. Couldn't fathom how Lorna could do something so detrimental to herself…her own body. "You stole a knife from the ICE detention center to hurt yourself in a secluded closet? Oh, Lorna…why-why would ya do this? Ya have to tell Nicky. You obviously need her. You can't do this kinda shit to yourself. You aren't fine and this is a pretty big deal. If a CO came in here and saw ya doing that…who knows what would have happened to you. Come here; let me give ya a hug, yeah?"

Lorna didn't move but felt the taller woman's arms wrap securely around her body. Pulling her in for a tight embrace. It was comforting but it certainly wasn't the same as being in Nicky's arms. She sighed and let herself lightly relax. Tears flowed from her eyes. She really had no idea what she was doing anymore. And didn't think anyone would be able to help her out of this.

"Hey, Lorna," that familiar husky voice called from the doorway of her cell.

Lorna, who laid emotionlessly on her bed, turned on her side to glance over at her. She sighed. It hurt to know that the woman she still loved and craved seemed to have found someone else. Someone who she wanted to be with. It felt like a knife through chest. She swallowed dryly. "Hmm?" Her voice called out, not much louder than a whisper.

"It's about time to head down to the kitchen," she informed her carefully. She entered inside the cell to get a closer look at the small brunette. Searching her over with concerned eyes. She sat at the edge of the bed and placed a hand on her cheek, letting the tips of her fingers stroke softly against the flesh. "You okay? You're paler than yesterday. What's wrong, baby? What's the matter with Litchfield's most bubbly inmate, huh?"

Baby? Was it normal for an ex-lover to still refer to the other as baby? She shook the thought away and pulled the blanket up even further. There was no way she could handle seeing Nicky and tater-tot lover making googly eyes with one another. "I can't."

Nicky raised a worried eyebrow, not moving her hand from Lorna's cheek. "You can't what? Will ya please tell me what's going on? You have me all worried, Lorna."

"I can't go. I think I'm getting the flu or somethin'. I don't feel right. Don't worry about me, hon. I'm not important. Go see Shani, is she your new girlfriend? Whatever makes you happy. Cause' I know I failed you," she muttered, eyes shutting tight. "I failed everyone," her voice almost inaudible.

Gently placing a hand over her forehead, Nicky's eyes widened from the intensity of the heat. "Holy fuck—doll, you're burning up. We better get ya to medical. You probably got a bad infection or some shit," she murmured.

Lorna shook her head. "No. I just need to rest. Okay? Don't worry about me. Ya gotta go to the kitchen and see Shani. I told her I'd leave ya alone. Just go be with her before something happens."

"I'm not leaving you here like this. You're obviously delirious from whatever infection ya have and need to see a doctor before it gets worse. Come on, let me take you."

"I am fine." Lorna slurred; eyes barely able to stay open.

Nicky swallowed thickly, quickly realizing this wasn't the result of an infection but rather drug use. She was all too familiar with that. "What did you take? Who the fuck gave you drugs, Lorna?"

She shook her head and reached a shaky hand up to touch against Nicky's cheek. "Hon, please don't stay here. You have Shani. She's better for you. She doesn't have a fucked up brain like I do. Go be with her and just forget about me. Forget that I exist."

Nothing hurt more than to hear such words come from Lorna's mouth. The woman who, no matter how many woman she fucked, she could never stop loving as deeply as she had. It easily brought a fountain of tears to her eyes to hear Lorna speak so poorly of herself. Without any hesitation, Nicky laid in the cramped bunk and threw her arms tight around the brunette's waist.

"Lorna," she murmured through sniffles. "I love you. I will never forget you exist. I'm sorry I've been neglectful of you and ma but I still care so much for you. I'm here. Let me help. Talk to me. Tell me what's going on with you. Why are you so depressed? What kinda drugs are you using and when the hell did this start? Look, I'm not mad at you…I just I need you to tell me what you're taking."

"It's just a little Heroin. I-I don't remember who gave it to me. After Alex refused to give me some I was kinda in a daze and took it from whoever I could find that would give me some. I figured maybe the heroin would make brain a little less fucked up, ya know?"

Nicky bit the inside of her mouth and shook her head. No way she was about to let Lorna go down the same path she did. Over her dead body, she thought. "Heroin? You're using heroin? Shit, Lorna. That stuff will kill ya. Why-why are you taking it? When did this start?"

It felt like the walls were caving in on her. Lorna could barely get enough air in her lungs. "I don't wanna talk about it."

"You have to. You have to talk to me. I'm not letting you use heroin. No way. What is going on? Did something happen to the baby? Is Vinny being an asshole? What the fuck is so bad that you would even consider using drugs?"

Too many questions Lorna's mind screamed inside her head. Too many things to think about. She was overwhelmed and that only made her feel worse. She shook her head. "Stop it, Nicky, stop. I can't. I can't do this. Please stop."

"Tell me what's going on. You need to face the truth whatever it is and you need to tell me about it. This can't go on the way it is. You're gonna fucking end up dead, kid. I don't want that. I love you too much to fucking lose you," Nicky sternly commented, leaning their foreheads together. Her breath trickling softly against Lorna's face.

Lorna shrugged a shoulder. "Let it kill me," she mumbled, a painful lump forming in her throat. She'd rather be dead than to watch everyone she ever cared for dwindle away like they seemed to be.

She shook her head, hoping she misheard the brunette. She hoped to God Lorna didn't actually say that she wanted it to kill her. Her arms tightened around her waist, tears forming in her eyes at that point. "You need to talk to me. If you're fucking wanting to end your life, something isn't right here. What's wrong, baby? What happened to you? Where's my bubbly Lorna at?"

"She-she doesn't exist anymore, Nicky. Bubbly Lorna is dead and one day regular Lorna will be too."

Chapter Text

Chapter Three

It proved harder and harder trying to put up her charade in front of everyone. Nicky always seemed to be eyeing her during shifts at the kitchen or in the van on their way to and from. Occasionally Alex would come up to her during rec-time outside and try to question her but Lorna did her best to fully throw herself into her fantasies. She wasn't about to let anyone see her breakdown. Wasn't going to let herself fall apart in front of other people. She had to pretend everything was fine. She just had to.

"How's Sterling?"

Those two simple words were all it took. Lorna froze from her task. All color drained from her body. No one mentioned her son in weeks and now, someone decided to question her about him? It made a large lump form in the pit of her stomach. She gradually lifted her head to stare at the person who threw such an inquiry at her and felt her heart drop when her her eyes landed on Nicky. Giving her that all-to-familiar look.

"He's, ya know, thriving," she finally answered, her voice monotone. She had no emotions left. The cutting and small doses of heroin—here and there—drained her of any type of feeling. She was nothing but an empty and broken shell.

Nicky looked her over in concern, not entirely sure what to think. Something was clearly wrong with the petite Italian. She hadn't heard her mention the baby in weeks. That wasn't like Lorna, she knew. Lorna loved that baby more than anything—what reason could possibly stop her from talking everyone's ear off about him? "Yeah? Is Vinny planning to bring him for a visit anytime soon?"

The inquiry only worsened the lump that sat at the bottom of Lorna's stomach. She swallowed uncomfortably and shifted her legs as she stood in place. "Uh, course' he is. Just Sterling's been teething lately and he doesn't want to make it worse by dragging him all the way out here, ya know?"

The faint shakiness of her voice didn't go unnoticed by Nicky. She folded her arms over her chest and arched a concerned eyebrow. "Yeah? Ya sure everything's okay with him and Vinny?"

"Yes, yes—why would you even ask that? I hear from Vinny all the time; he-he's always telling me how well Sterling's doing and how big he's getting. I just, I can't wait to see him."

Nicky sighed. She forgot how hard it was to get the very stubborn Italian woman to open up about anything. Her hands instinctively went up in the air. "The fact that you haven't been talking your ear off about either of them in over week makes me wonder if things are okay."

"Oh, yeah—yeah, everything's fine. Course' everything's fine. Vinny said he'll bring the baby in a few weeks."

Though her words were of an optimistic nature, Lorna's face said otherwise. Nicky watched as the expression on her face never changed. How her brown orbs didn't light up the way they used to at the mention of her son and husband. How her lips curved into a frown rather than a smile. Something definitely wasn't right. Lorna was keeping something from her—she could feel it. But she'd have to wait until they were back at the prison to act on anything, she knew. Now wasn't the time or place.

"I hope that's true, kid. We all know how much ya love that baby and Vinny better bring him to see you like he plans."

Lorna nodded and forced a smile. Even though she knew her baby was never going to see her again. That she would never get hold his tiny body in her arms or hear his first word or see him take his first steps. All of that was taken from her. By his death, by her faulty wiring, by this damn prison. She lost the chance to be a mother. And that felt as horrific as seeing Shani hanging all over Nicky right in front of her eyes. Both only continued to rip her heart apart. She had nothing to hold onto it seemed. Nothing to keep her from fading into her own darkness.

She opened her mouth to respond when she caught glimpse of Shani in the corner of her eye. Who stood behind Nicky, giving her the death stare. Her feet shifted underneath her. That wasn't a good sign.

"What did I tell you about talking to my girl, Morello?" That voice sounded a little too close for comfort. A little too threatening for security.

Lorna turned head slightly and nearly fell when she saw Shani's standing right beside her. The darkest gleam hiding in her light orbs. She felt her legs shake a small amount as she stood there, stunned. Her hand gripped onto the counter to keep her stance steady. "Huh?" Her voice not much louder than a whisper.

"Lorna?" Nicky waved her hand worriedly in front of the brunette's dazed eyes. Looking her over in nothing but deep concern. "Are ya with us, kid?"

"Don't even look at her, Morello. Nicky's my girlfriend, you hear me? She loves me not you. And you better keep your hands off her," Shani's voice harshly growled in her ear.

The bewildered look in Lorna's eyes confirmed the redhead's underlying suspicion. She immediately grabbed hold of her hand and led her into a secluded area of the kitchen. Her hands cupped around porcelain cheeks. "How much did ya take? Who is giving you this shit, Lorna?"

Tilting her head, Lorna stared at her with wide orbs. What was going on? What was Shani planning to do to her? She flinched away from the other's touch, still not realizing it was Nicky who had her. That Shani was just a figment of her imagination at this point in time. She couldn't even hear what was being asked of her, all she could do was stand there in fear.

"Lorna, doll, snap out of it," Nicky murmured, gently moving her hand to stroke against the flesh underneath it. "Please, say something. What's going on? How much heroin did ya take?"

"Her-heroin? What? Nicky used to use that; how would you know that?"

Curling a strand of hair, Nicky used her finger to place it softly behind her ear. She swallowed thickly and leaned forward to gently rest her forehead against the smaller woman's. "I am Nicky, baby. And you're right, I did used to take it. That's why I hate that you've discovered it. Why I want to know who gave it you so I can beat the hell outta them. Please tell me how much ya took, yeah?"

"Nicky?" Lorna's voice nearly squeaked. Finally seeming to come out of her hallucination. Something that appeared to be happening a lot more often lately. Was it her mental illness? The heroin? A mixture of the two? She had no idea. But it was beginning to terrify her.

Nicky nodded with a sad smile. "Yeah, baby. I'm here," she assured, pressing a delicate kiss to her temple. "What's going on? Can ya talk to me? Tell me what's wrong."

"I don't know. I-I saw Shani. I thought you were her, Nicky."

"You're hallucinating, kid. Heroin will do that to ya. Ya must have taken a lot, yeah? You're barely able to stand without shaking. Shit," the redhead muttered, framing Lorna's face lovingly in her hands.

The brunette shook her head and focused her eyes elsewhere. She couldn't engage in a conversation with Nicky. Shani told her not to. And she knew, from that dark look in her eyes, the outcome wouldn't be good if she chose not to listen.

To see her suddenly shut down had Nicky gradually grow frustrated. She sucked in a sharp breath and used her hands to turn Lorna's head back to facing her own. "Lorna, tell me how much ya took. Now. This isn't a choice; you need to tell me. Heroin can fucking kill you, believe me, I would fucking know. I almost lost my life once because of it and I really don't wanna fucking lose you."

"I don't really know…I just, she gave me a plastic packet and I-I dumped it in my coffee. I think I took too much? I mean I don't know if I took too much or I'm just crazy. Could it be both? Hon, I don't know how to say I'm so sorry…but I'm so sorry."

"I think we should get ya back to your cell. You need a nap, baby. You can't work like this. The COs will notice that something's not right and they'll have ya evaluated or some shit. Lemme hold you, yeah? I'll let them know you're sick." With a small, timid, nod from the younger woman, Nicky instinctively proceeded to wrap her arms securely around her petite waist.

When they arrived back at the prison, a mere ten minutes after the fact, Nicky quickly helped Lorna back to her cell. She laid her gently against the mattress of the bottom bunk. Sitting on the edge of the bed, the taller woman gazed softly down at her—eyes filled with sorrow and anguish to see how drastically her beloved best friend was deteriorating. How she actually turned to heroin, the same drug that ruined her own life on the outside. She seemed to be spiraling downward and Nicky had no idea how to help her. Or what was even the cause of such a sudden change.

It hurt tremendously to watch Lorna's silent battle. To see her so out of it. So dazed and far away from reality. And not know what she can do help, to fix the problem. Hell, she didn't know if she was aware of the problem. What was making Lorna shut down this way. She was determined to get to the bottom of this. She couldn't just sit back and watch the woman she loved continue down this dark path.

"Close your eyes and rest, kid. I'll try to get you some water, yeah? I need you to talk to me about what's going on. Later, after you've gotten some sleep."

Lorna pulled the blanket to cover her up to her neck. Her lips faintly tremored in place. "Sorry," her voice breathy and drained. Her eyes glanced up into Nicky's and she was surprised to see the compassion that filled them. She thought she truly lost Nicky's love and affection when she became pregnant with Vinny's child.

"Don't," the redhead softly murmured, placing a hand delicately against her cheek. She used the tips of her fingers to massage gently around the flesh and sighed. "I'm here for ya, okay? I'm gonna take care a you just like before. You get some sleep, baby, and I'll come check on ya in a little while. We're gonna talk about all of this later when you're feeling better."

Nicky sat in the visitation room, hand on the phone, waiting for—what felt like an eternity to pass—Vinny to finally arrive. She tapped her fingers anxiously against the window, watching people and officers walk by on the other side of it. After ten minutes went by, she finally caught sight of the very man slowly making his way to the sit on the other side of the window. His appearance seemed a lot rougher than she had expected. It looked like he hadn't slept well in months. She felt an uncomfortable sensation begin to grow inside of her. Something was wrong, that much she gathered.

"Hi," she greeted, a solemn mien sitting on her face. Her eyes watched him closely, not too surprised at the confusion etched on his. The two had never met before, only had a brief phone conversation over a year ago. Of course, it was normal for his unsure reaction.

He picked up the phone on the other side, slowly. He'd never seen this woman before in his life but easily assumed this was Nicky. The very Nicky who Lorna never stopped mentioning. He sighed. "Hi." What was this all about? Had Lorna put Nicky up to this? To try to get him to reverse the divorce?

It was easy to see that he had no idea what he was doing here, meeting with her. She inhaled a breath, trying to figure out how to word her thoughts. "I need to talk to you about Lorna," she started, nervously tapping her fingers rhythmically against the plastic end of the phone in her hands.

His head nodded leisurely. "I see. She put ya up to this, huh?"

Eyebrows arched inquisitively above her concerned eyes; Nicky tilted her head in growing interest. "Put me up to what? I've asked ya to come here because I'm worried about your wife. Aren't you?"

Wife? Vinny shook his head dishearteningly. He wondered what the hell Lorna was going around telling people. She was even more delusional than he had originally thought. "She ain't my wife no more. I divorced her a few months ago. I'm guessing she's lying to all ya guys about that? What else is new? Lorna's a pro liar." He threw his arms up in exasperation.

"Look, I don't what the hell's going on with you two, but don't fucking trash talk Lorna. Obviously, she's not okay right now and calling her names isn't gonna change shit. Why did ya divorce her? What reason could ya do that to her? Are ya trying to hurt her? All she wants is to see her baby and you divorce her? Too lazy to bring the baby here?"

The interrogation had Vinny's teeth gritting together. He shook his head even harder. Lorna was sick. Beyond sick, he realized. "Ah, another thing she's lying about—our son died in the NICU with pneumonia. Five months ago, Nicky."

Her mouth opened and shut. She covered it up with her hand, trying to take in the news. The news that explained it all. That gave her reason as to why Lorna wasn't herself anymore. Why she kept to herself and barely functioned. Why she turned to drugs like heroin. Lorna couldn't handle traumatic occurrences like the death of her own infant son. And, Nicky was fuming with her own self for not seeing the signs. For not being there to help Lorna through this. It made her sick inside. Sick that she had no idea what Lorna was going through, that she suffered alone through the grieving process.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, tears already beginning to flow from her eyes. "I had no idea. Lorna…she's just not the same anymore. She stopped mentioning you and the baby. But she never—she never mentioned anything about his death or you two being divorced. If any of us asked, she'd tell us how you're planning to bring him for a visit soon. But this whole time…she's been silently mourning his death? Fuck." The tears swarmed from her orbs like a waterfall. She couldn't even imagine the pain Lorna was in over this. Everything all made sense to her now. And that only made her feel worse.

"Lorna's delusional," he responded, his own tears running along his gruffy cheeks.

Nicky shook her head. "Lorna is not delusional. She has no idea how to handle this kinda trauma shit. Especially all on her own. Telling others that everything's fine—and herself—is how she copes with pain. She can't fucking handle the truth…and I was not there to help her," she yelled, anger and distress clearly evident in her tone.

The comment had his frustration flare up even harder. He couldn't believe Nicky would make an excuse for his ex's behavior. "That makes it okay for her to lie about all this shit? She's fucked up, Nicky. What kinda person won't admit that their son's gone? Or pretend that she's still married after a divorce? She's right where she needs to be—in prison."

That was all Nicky needed to hear for her empathy to turn into a fiery rage. She glared at him with the utmost venom seeping through her big brown orbs. "Don't you ever call Lorna such vile names. She's not even close to fucked up, Vinny. She's mentally ill and can't fucking process her grief like the rest of us can—that doesn't fucking make her fucked up or bad! How dare ya even think that shit. No, ya know what? I'm glad you divorced her—you can't take care of her like I can. Or love her as much as I do. She needs me, she always needed me. And, now, thanks to you, I'll be the one she leans on for support from now on. So, thanks, Mr. Muccio, for divorcing my Lorna and leaving her an even bigger mess than she was before. You really did her a fucking favor."

Nicky didn't even bother to wait for a response from him. Her body was fuming with rage and hatred for him. She jumped from the booth and ran out of there. All that was on her mind was getting to Lorna. She needed to get her to open up to her and admit all of what had happened. She needed to hear this from the brunette. To hear all the pain and grief and emotions she was dealing with. All on her own for five long months.

However, when she got back to the cell, she found the bed empty. Immediately, her heartrate began to rise. She felt a lump form in the back of her throat. Where the hell could Lorna have run off too? She wondered worriedly. Her legs moved automatically out of the cell and through the rec-room, trying to locate someone—anyone—who could have seen Lorna or heard of her whereabouts.

She was so focused on Lorna that she hadn't been paying attention to where she was walking and bumped into another inmate unintentionally. "Sorry," she muttered after they both stood up. Her eyes glanced up to see who it was and felt a slight bout of relief when she came face-to-face with Gloria. "Hey, have ya seen Lorna recently?"

"Not since kitchen duty earlier. Is everything okay?" The middle-aged Hispanic woman softly inquired; her light brown eyes gazing concerningly across at the redhead.

Nicky shook her head in dismay. "No, nothing is okay. I just found out that her baby died five months ago and her marriage is no more. Everything has gone to shit for Lorna and I didn't have a damn clue about it. She's been suffering all this time by herself. And, now, god-only-knows where the hell's she ventured off to!"

Mouth gaped in open in shock, it took a moment for Gloria to take the other's words in. It broke her heart to hear what Lorna's been through—something no mother should have to ever go through and yet, she'd done it alone. With no one to comfort her and vent to. She couldn't believe it. She placed a tender hand on Nicky's shoulder to somehow try to calm her.

"Take a breath. Getting all worked up like ya are isn't gonna help matters. Five months? Lorna's been dealing with her son's death for five months and hasn't told a soul?"

"The thing is…I don't even know if Lorna's really accepted his death…She keeps telling everyone he's home with Vinny and doing fine. She hasn't admitted to herself that he died. She won't do it until I find her and get her to talk to me. I fucking just got done visiting with her asshole of an ex-husband…and I'm boiling. Where is Lorna? You really haven't seen her?" The rage was at the breaking point Nicky could sense. She needed to find Lorna and fast.

The minute Nicky left her alone, Lorna knew what she had to do. A half-hour later, she found herself jogging up an abandoned set of stairs that led to the roof of the prison. The cold air hit her rapidly as she took her first step out of the doorway. But it didn't bother her one bit. The only thing on her mind was getting rid of all of her troubles. All of her stresses and anguish. Letting all of the people who ever cared finally get their burden lifted off of their shoulders. She slowly walked over to where the edge of the roof started. Everything looked so tiny from up there, she noted. As if she could stomp over the trees and cars that sat at the bottom of the ground with her feet. It was quite the sight.

She inhaled the fresh air and sat down on the ledge, taking in everything. Her eyes shut. The tears were sitting right inside of them she could feel. She shook her head in irritancy. When she reopened them, just moments later, she caught glimpse of a familiar lengthy Egyptian figure. How did Shani get her? Why was Shani here? To relish in her suicide, no doubt. All Shani wanted was to watch her suffer and now, she'd finally give her exactly what she wanted with her death. Nicky.

"Morello," that accent commented. Almost in a sing-song-y fashion.

Lorna shut her eyes once more and this time when they opened, Shani was standing right behind her. She could feel her breath on her back, her eyes glaring into her soul. She moved, slightly, away from her and turned her head to stare at the tall Egyptian woman. "What? What do ya want? Why do ya keep bothering me?"

Despite her attempt to move away, Shani regained her position right beside her. She tapped her on the head rather roughly. Lips curved into a conniving smirk. "You know exactly what I want and you're giving it to me. Your suicide will free-up Nicky. And then, she's all mine. You know, she doesn't even really want you anyway, Morello. Who would? You're fucking crazy. A crazy little girl who cuts herself—let me see your arm, show me your cuts. Let's see how mental you are, shall we?" She grabbed her arm harshly and rolled-up the sleeve. Her eyes inspected the cut darkly. She jabbed a finger violently around it, taking pleasure in her painful squeals.

"Stop it," Lorna cried, the pain overwhelming. "Stop it, that hurts."

Shani snickered and slapped her hand against it before pulling the sleeve back over it. "Oh, so what? You're the one who cut your arm. I didn't do that you. You're crazy, Morello. You'd be doing everyone a favor by jumping off this roof, you know? All you are is a burden to society with your faulty-wired brain. Why waste our money and time when you can just end it all right now? Don't worry, I'll be there for Nicky. She'll forget all about you in not time."

The comments echoed through Lorna's mind. She nodded her head brokenly. Every bit of it was true. She wasn't anything but a burden to the entire planet. She had no purpose being in this world anymore—no one needed her…no one wanted her. Lorna was useless. A useless waste of a being with her faulty wiring. Nicky would soon move on without her and probably have a better life because of that. Vinny, obviously, didn't need her anymore, and her family—they'd be relieved to not have the burden of a mentally sick daughter.

She felt a hand pulling on her and wondered what the other's plan was. Had she been planning to push her off this roof? Her eyes instinctively shut, bracing herself for the deadly fall. But instead, what happened next, she felt her body being lifted from the ground into a strong pair of arms. She kept her eyes closed, too afraid to see who it was. To see who'd come to find her. There was no way it was Nicky, she thought. Nicky hadn't seen her or where she could have possibly walked off to.

"I saw ya running off somewhere, Lorna, and I followed you—you didn't look well. Fuck am I glad I did," the voice of Alex Vause vibrated against Lorna's ear.

Lorna finally opened her eyes and timidly lifted her head to see the very woman looking down at her with the deepest worry and concern. The two were already half-way down the flight of stairs, she noticed. She kept quiet, ashamed of herself. Ashamed that anyone had to witness her insanity.

"What were you doing up there? And who did ya get the heroin from, huh? I know I didn't give ya any—was it Daya?"

It was all too much for Lorna to process. She couldn't keep up with all the questions and words spewing from Alex's mouth. The concern in her eyes was overwhelming. She felt like she couldn't breathe. "Why, why, did ya follow me? I-I wanted to jump," she said so quietly, she didn't know if she even spoke it out loud.

Alex stopped dead in her tracks and looked sternly down at the young brunette. "What?"

"I wanted to jump," she repeated, an uncomfortable lump in her throat.

"Fuck, kid…you're worse off than I thought. You haven't even told Nicky about anything, have you? That's why you're like this—ya won't tell her the truth."

Swallowing thickly, Lorna closed her eyes and let the tears finally flow freely. She shook her head solemnly. "Nicky—she doesn't deserve to be burdened with me and my problems anymore. No one does, Alex. It's better if I—if I just kill myself, ya know? All I do is hurt her and anyone else I care about. I'm fucked up and there ain't nothing that can be done to fix that…except for me to die."

Those words cut like a knife to hear. It made Alex realize just how truly hurt Lorna was. Made her reflect on how she wouldn't be able to handle it if Piper were suicidal like this. That's why she wrapped her arms tighter around the petite brunette. She had to keep her together because she knew Nicky couldn't handle losing the one person that meant everything to her.

"No, Lorna, none of that shit is true. Ya hear me? Nicky loves you more than anyone in the world and if she knew how much ya want to harm yourself and even…even end your life? She'd fucking lose it. She needs you, and you clearly need her. I'm bringing you to her and I'm telling her everything. You can't fucking handle all this pain on your own, sweetheart—you need Nicky. She'll be there for you, I promise. And so will I. But ya gotta start admitting the truth. You can't keep living like this. It's only hurting you more."

Chapter Text

Chapter Four

Numbness was the only word she could use to describe it. The only sensation that poured through her body as she buried herself under the blankets on her bunk. Her life felt like it was useless at this point. What was she even living for? It didn't matter that Alex Vause just seemed to magically appear and stop her from ending her life, that hadn't changed anything. She still felt the same shitty way she did before. Only now, she was likely going to be deemed the insane suicidal nuthouse from hell by every other inmate who passed her. The thought alone heightened the anxiety that sat tightly in her chest. She refused to ever leave her cell again. Wouldn't dare seal her fate like that.

Faint voices could be heard from the doorway but Lorna didn't have it in her to look up to see whom such belonged to. Her body had slim to no energy left, she could barely move her legs let alone force herself into a sitting position.

Nicky leaned against the doorway; eyes saddened by the words that came out of Alex's mouth. Nothing broke her heart more than to hear just how deeply the love of her life seemed to be suffering. She bit the bottom of her lip and shook her head in disbelief. How could she have not seen this? How had she not noticed something terribly wrong was going on in Lorna's life? A woman who she once was able to read like a book.

She swallowed hard and tried to keep her emotions in check. Now was not the time to lose it she reminded herself. She had to be there for Lorna. Had to comfort and support the vulnerable brunette. She gathered herself and slowly, cautiously, made her way over to the bed the petite Italian lay in. Took in the sight of her. How she had herself almost completely buried underneath the pile of blankets. How her body faintly shook from the quiet emotions that poured through her small body.

"I'm here," she murmured, situating herself beside her. Her arms automatically encircled protectively around Lorna's small frame, pulling her as close as she could have her. Lips rested soothingly over the back of the younger woman's head. Nicky couldn't bare the thought of losing Lorna—couldn't imagine waking up in a world where Lorna didn't exist anymore. Nothing felt worse than that agonizing thought.

"You're not alone anymore," Nicky huskily continued, brushing a hand soothingly up and down her back. Pressing her front tenderly against Lorna's back, making sure she knew that she wasn't going anywhere. "I'm here and I'm not leaving. Anything that you need, you just tell me. I'm gonna take care a ya, baby—help ya through all of this."

The words overwhelmed Lorna to hear. Everything was closing in on her it felt like. Nobody was supposed to find her. Nobody was supposed to see her almost end her life. And, certainly, she wasn't supposed to be alive right now. She was supposed to be dead. No one knowing of her insanity—her unstable faulty-wired mind. She shook her head. None of this was supposed to be her reality. None of it.

"Lorna…Lorna, look at me," Nicky's shaky voice begged. Her hands cupping around each of her pale cheeks. "Look at me. Please. I'm here. I'm right here, kid. I'm here to help you."

Lorna couldn't bring herself to turn around. Her mouth opened and shut. She couldn't find the words to speak. "I-I—" Her mind drew a blank; she couldn't gather her thoughts, couldn't come up with a response. A way to question the other's comments. She didn't know the truth, did she? Alex wouldn't tell her…would she? Anxiety plagued her like flies to a trash can. Was that what the two were quietly discussing in the doorway of her cell? Her private business?

To see her struggling just to speak felt like a knife to Nicky's heart. She never seen Lorna this bad before. Never imagined her bubbly lover would ever lose such an innate trait. It hurt like a barefoot walk on broken shards of glass to watch her suffer this emotionally. "What, baby? Talk to me. That's what I'm here for. I'm here to listen and comfort you. Let me help, yeah?"

"What, what do you know?" Her voice not much louder than a whisper.

Nicky got up and moved Lorna over so that she could lay on the other side of her and be able to look at her face. She cupped her hands delicately around the porcelain flesh and took in a deep breath. "Let me start by saying I had Vinny come to talk with me earlier. I wanted to tell him that you're not doing well because ya clearly aren't, doll." She paused, letting her eyes search over Lorna meticulously. Her fingers stroked soothingly across the flesh of her forehead.

The color rapidly drained from her face. Lorna swallowed thickly. "Vinny? What, what did he, uh, have to say? Did he say how Sterling is? He gonna bring Sterling for a visit soon?"

That was all Nicky needed to hear to know how far down the hole her beloved brunette really was. How far she'd gotten without anyone there to comfort and support her through this. She was so overcome with grief that she truly believed her own lie. It broke Nicky's heart to realize this. To know that her absence only made Lorna even more vulnerable to her own mental sickness.

"Lorna, I know the truth. I know everything. Please, please talk to me. Tell me what happened. I'm here now, I'll take care a you; I promise. Just be honest with me. Tell me everything. I need you to tell me. It's okay; you're allowed to let it all out."

"Truth? What-what truth? How's my baby doing? He's getting big, right? Soon he'll be eating baby food and talking and I won't get to see any of it." Lorna refused to give up her source of comfort. The only thing that helped to keep her from completely losing it. Although, now that she thought about it, maybe she'd already hit that point. What person, who hasn't lost it, contemplated almost going through with suicide?

"Stop. Please stop," Nicky murmured, pulling Lorna against her body. She brushed her lips comfortingly against her cheek, tears ready to fall from her eyes at this point. "I know what happened. Vinny told me how you lost the baby, how he died from pneumonia five months ago. You don't have to keep up this façade anymore, baby. I'm here now. Let me help. Please. I want to be here for ya."

Lorna shook her head violently at the statement. She couldn't believe this. Couldn't believe that Nicky would make Vinny come all this way just to completely shatter the comforting reality she made for herself. That all of that was gradually tumbling apart before her very own eyes—she was losing her source of comfort and she wasn't sure she liked that. Didn't think she was ready for it.

"No," she whispered, her head shaking slowly. "No," her voice repeated slightly louder. She moved away from Nicky's touch and pulled her knees up to her chest. This wasn't supposed to happen. Nicky was never supposed to find out that her baby was lying six-feet-under. "Why, why would ya say something like that? Sterling is great, he's at home with his daddy. He's getting teeth and-and smiling and babbling. He's a good baby. Vinny's bringing real soon for a visit."

It was hard to watch Lorna when she was like this. So far away from reality. It was as if she lived in her own little world—and maybe, with her mental illness, she was living in a different world from everyone else. But even that didn't make any of this easier. Didn't undo the nature of what really happened. Nicky swallowed hard and sucked in a large breath of air.

She repositioned her hands on the brunette's shoulders, physically turning her so that their eyes were in each other's line of view. "No, Lorna, he's not bringing Sterling. Sterling died from pneumonia, doll. He's not with us on Earth anymore. I'm so, so, sorry." Emotions seeped through her voice, making it crack from the quiet sniffles that flew up through her nose.

"No, Nicky, who'd ya hear that from? It's just—it's not true. Sterling is doing real well with Vinny."

"Lorna, please, listen to me. You know this already—ya know he's not here anymore. Vinny told me all of it. You don't have to keep this lie anymore, baby. I'm here now. I promise. Just be honest. Talk to me. Please. You don't have to keep this to yourself anymore," Nicky pleaded, cradling the younger woman's face tenderly in her hands. Her eyes desperately gazed into frantic ones. Trying to get her to come out of her faulty perception of reality.

Lorna opened her mouth and closed it several times. Her eyes blinked rapidly. Soon her vision became blurred with tears. She shook her head harshly, trying so hard to release herself from Nicky's arms but she hadn't budged. "You-you weren't supposed to find out," she muttered, using the sleeve of her shirt to wipe at her teary face. No one was.

"I wasn't supposed to find out what?"

It was a trick, her mind informed her. Nicky was trying to get her to say something she really hadn't want to say. And for what? So, she could see her for who she really was? The faulty-wired, mentally-inhibited, woman who had no real hold on reality. No, Lorna vowed not to give in to that. She wouldn't let anyone tear her away from her only real source of comfort.

She had to get out of there. The walls felt like they were caving in on her; she could barely breathe from how suffocated she felt. She used all of the strength she could muster up and used it to push herself out of Nicky's arms. As much as she loathed herself for leaving the only pair of arms that ever made her feel loved, she knew this was for the best. She had to get out of there. She wasn't going to let anyone tear down the bubble she created for herself.

The sound of a baby's cry was what halted Lorna's journey. She turned the hall to follow where it seemed to be coming from and found a baby crawling around the floor in a repetitive circle, screaming and crying as he did so. The closer she got to him, the more she realized the baby to be her little Sterling. Tears of joy flourished from her brown orbs as she bent down to scoop him up. She held him tight against her heat, dousing the top of his fuzzy head in soft kisses. She couldn't believe it. Her son was really there, in her arms, safe and sound.

She looked down at the baby and smiled when she noticed his crying had turned into cute babbling sounds. Her fingers touched his soft cheeks, the flesh plump and rosy. "Oh, my Sterling, mommy is so happy to finally see you. You're so much bigger now, aren't ya? And so chubby, daddy is taking good care a you, I see. Speaking of daddy, where is he? Did he just leave ya here on the ground?" Her brown eyes gazed around the quiet hallway and saw not a single other soul around. She shook her head and focused her attention back on the bouncing baby boy in her arms. Nothing was more important than this moment. Having her son back in her arms. Nothing could ruin this for her.

The baby drooled as he cooed, his little brown eyes gazing in awe up at his mother. A tiny smile formed in the corner of his mouth.

That smile melted Lorna's heart. She pressed another batch of kisses all around his head and cradled his body against her chest. She wouldn't dare let anyone take her son from her again. She couldn't. He was all she had in this world. The only being that truly, unconditionally, loved and relied on her. She couldn't lose him and she wouldn't. She tightened her arms around him and resumed her run down the hall.

"Inmate, what do you think you're doing running around the prison like that?" A familiar voice of a CO yelled out to her.

Lorna couldn't stop. He just wanted to take her baby away from her and she wouldn't allow it. Sterling needed her. He was just a baby, a baby who needed to be with his mother. She kept running, turning a corner, and letting herself fall down against the floor. Her back resting against the cold wall behind it. She held the baby tighter against her heart as she tried to catch her breath.

The CO was swiftly on her tail and marched up through the corner. He stood over her, letting his eyes search her wearily. Eyebrows arched over them. "What are you doing holding a bag of flour? Where did you even get that shit?"

Bag of flour? What kind of person would ever refer to an innocent baby as a bag of flour? The question ran furiously through her mind. She tightened her arms around Sterling in an effort to shield him from the cruel remarks. She looked up from her son and her eyes met with Luschek's blue ones. Of course it was him, she thought. He always did make stupid comments like that.

"My son is not a bag of flour. He's a living, breathing, baby. Why did you people just let my baby crawl around in this place? He was alone and scared."

"Your son? What are you talking about, loony Lorna? There ain't no babies allowed here in max. You have a bag of flour in your arms. And it's a little weird the way you're holding it," Luschek replied, using the nickname that he heard other inmates referring to Morello as.

Loony Lorna? What? The comment had Lorna's body freeze. She forced herself up, Sterling tight in her arms, and ran the opposite direction. She was not going to let anyone try to manipulate her like that. Pretending her son was just a bag of flour? What kind of place was this? She ran and ran until she couldn't run anymore and collapsed against the hard cement floor. Everything became blurry and fuzzy, she shut her eyes and let the darkness take over.

With a cup of steaming coffee sitting on the table in front of her, Nicky sighed and rubbed her hands over her face. It felt like all the people she loved so deeply were falling apart right in front of her and there wasn't a thing she could to stop it. Like a nightmare that wouldn't go away. She exhaled deeply before bring the cup up to her lips for a much-desired sip. She shook her head. She wasn't going to continue to sit back and watch Lorna keep fading away. She had to find a way to bring her back to reality. Life wasn't possible without Lorna. So, she had to do something. Anything.

"Ya look like you could use some company."

That familiar Hispanic accent made Nicky's head turn towards it. Gloria Mendoza plopped down on the bench next to her. A warm, comforting, sensation followed in her presence. "Yeah, I guess that wouldn't hurt."

Gloria sighed, giving a sad smile. She placed a hand soothingly over one of Nicky's. "Ya wanna talk about what's on your mind? Have ya found Lorna? Is that what's got ya lookin' like ya don't know what you're doing anymore?"

"Don't know what I'm doing anymore, huh?" Nicky couldn't help but slightly chuckle. She sipped her steaming coffee. "Quite a description that is. But yes, I've found Lorna and she's worse off than I thought. Between her and ma, I feel like I'm losing my family…they're both getting worse and I can't figure out how to stop that. I just want to cure them, ya know? Or find a way to turn back time to where we were all mostly happy at regular Litchfield."

"I know things can't be easy for ya right now, Nicky. First Red and now, Lorna? Hmm. What's going on with her? I know ya said you heard that her baby died and she's no longer with—oh, what the hell's his name Victor?"

Nicky chuckled at the wrong name. "Victor? Ya mean Vinny? More like asshole. His ex-wife is clearly suffering from her mental illness and he can't even try to help her? No, instead the fucker runs away like a scared little puppy. He was never right for her anyway."

"Mental illness, huh? I guess that would explain why she kept telling us about how her son's at home with Vinny the asshole. Where is she?"

The redhead shook her head, covering her hands exhaustively over eyes. Overwhelming was what all of this was. She sighed. Was this how her Lorna felt all the time? Was this why she seemed to venture off into her own little world? To get away from the overstimulation? The only way she would ever understand how Lorna truly felt was if she could get inside her brain for even just a day. She'd do anything to have that chance. To know exactly how the love of her life felt, to deal with what she dealt with on a daily basis.

"I don't know. I tried to get her to admit to me the truth…but instead I think I made her worse. She ran off and I have no fucking clue where the hell she could be. I don't even know if finding her would even be the best choice right now. I obviously can't help her. She's not well and I don't know what do for her. She won't admit her son's dead."

Seeing the young woman getting more and more worked-up immediately brought forth Gloria's maternal instincts. She reached across the table to frame her hands firmly over each of her cheeks. "I know right now it seems near impossible to get through to Lorna…but maybe the best thing for the both of ya is to just support her, yeah? Just be there and assure her you won't leave. Obviously, forcing her to accept the truth of her son's death isn't going to help her. She's not at that point yet, Nicky. I know it's frustrating and hard but you just need to be a little more patient. Ya don't wanna overwhelm her because that won't do any good. She's grieving…in her own way that we can't understand."

"But she's hurting herself by continuing to deny he's dead. She's really bad off right now, Gloria, and I can't stand to watch her like this. I just want to make everything better for her but I don't know what the fuck to do."

Gloria gave a slow nod, letting the tips of her fingers caress against the flesh of her cheek. "I know. But she doesn't see it that way. She thinks pretending he's still here will make her feel better. Right now, maybe that's what she needs to keep herself going. It's not easy for you and me to understand but we can't force her to do something she's not ready to do. Grieving and healing takes a lotta time and patience. And I know it's hard for you, so, if you need some support of your own, I'll be here."

She had no idea where to even begin to look for Lorna but she knew she had to start somewhere. After bussing her tray, Nicky started her uncertain journey down the hallway that lead out of the common room/cafeteria. Gloria's words resonated with her. She knew they were true, that she had to be patient and not force Lorna to do anything she's not ready to handle. The last thing she wanted was to push Lorna too far. To watch her break apart to the point of no return. That was something Nicky knew she couldn't handle, to see the love of her life completely shatter into pieces.

Her legs continued walking down the hallway. She peaked in certain rooms but all of them appeared empty, no Lorna in sight. Where the hell could she have gone off to? She could feel her heart starting to race with each passing minute. What was Lorna doing? Worry took over all of Nicky's thoughts. She worried where Lorna was, what she might have been doing.

"Yo, Nichols?"

The greeting quickly brought Nicky out from her head. She turned towards the voice and rolled her eyes when she caught glimpse of Luschek standing behind her. After he got her sent here nearly two years ago, she never got over her hatred for him. A rather large sigh came up through her windpipe, her hands held on either hip. "What do ya want?"

Giving a shameless smirk, Luschek motioned for to follow him down the rest of the hallway.

Wearily, Nicky hesitated and gave him an unnerving glance. "Why do ya want me to follow you? You think I trust ya after what ya did to me?"

"You're still not over that, Nichols?" He inquired with a chuckle.

"You fucking got me in trouble and almost had my life thrown away because you were too much of a cowards to fess up to Caputo. Why would I ever trust you after that shit?"

Luschek threw up his hands in defeat and nodded his head. "Touché, touché. Look, I need you to follow me because I found your little loony-toon girlfriend running around here, pretending a sack of flour was her son. So, instead of being an asshole, I thought I'd put her in the rec-room until I could find you. Would you like to come see her and tell her that there are no babies crawling around this damn facility."

Nicky bit her tongue. "Ya almost earned points, almost. But when ya called my Lorna a fucking loony-toon, that took all those points away. Yes, I wanna see her. She needs me. Apparently, I'm the only one who doesn't fucking see her sickness as a joking matter."

"Okay, another good point. I just like to follow the crowd. All the girls call her loony Lorna and I guess I just liked the double Ls."

"Just take me to her, yeah?" The redhead gritted her teeth to contain her anger. What mattered most right now was being there for Lorna. Not getting angry with a bunch of schoolgirl inmates. She rapidly followed behind Luschek towards the rec-room. The sound of faint humming immediately caught her attention.

When the door opened, she saw Lorna sitting in the corner of the room cradling a bag of flour in her arms and humming softly to it. The sight ripped her heart to shreds. Lorna was deteriorating more and more every hour it seemed. Tears quickly formed in her eyes, she wiped them away with her arm and cautiously made her way over to the petite brunette. She looked so far away from the rest of them. Consumed in her own little world.

Nicky slowly situated herself on the floor beside her, placing her arms loving around her waist. "Lorna, sweetie, what're ya doing?" She brushed her lips comfortingly over the flesh of her porcelain cheek.

The sound of Nicky's husky voice quickly stopped her from humming. Instead, she plastered a smile on her face and held her baby up in front of her eyes. "Look," she exclaimed, pointing her finger at Sterling. "He's here, Nicky. My little boy is really here. Is not he the cutest little thing? He's gotten so big and chubby and he loves when I hum songs to him. I told ya he was fine."

The clear delusion broke Nicky's heart tremendously. But she had to let Lorna believe in this, for her own sake. She only tightened her arms around her and pressed another kiss to her cheek. "Course' he's cute, he's your son. Why don't I bring ya both back to your cell, yeah? You must be so tired from looking after him…being a mommy's exhausting. You need to come have a nap, baby. You'll feel much better if ya do, don't ya think?"

"Yeah, I guess. Sterling's a very active little guy. He's wearing me out with all his bouncing and crawling."

Nicky pecked her forehead and nodded. "It's settled then, kid. I'll take you back to your cell and we'll snuggle up on your bunk, how's that?"

Lorna nodded with a broken smile. Her face burying against that familiar, warm, chest. Her arms wrapped securely around her neck. "Mhmm. I love you, Nicky."

I love you. It felt like an eternity had passed since the last time those words came from Lorna's mouth. Nicky felt a warmth rush through her entire body at such a comment. A comment that showed her just how much she needed to be there for Lorna. She wanted the bubbly, loving, happy Lorna back. And this was something she had to do to help begin that long, agonizing, process.

"I love you too, doll baby. So, so, fucking much. I'm here and I'll never leave you."