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BANG. BANG. BANG.

Alexis jerks awake, staring up at the ceiling in the dark. It sounds like someone is banging on a pipe with a wrench, which is just kind of typical. It could be her dad, or Stevie, or it could just be air pockets or whatever. Either way, she’s not getting out of bed.

David is at Patrick’s, and she squints at the base of the connecting door but it looks dark, so she just groans out loud and closes her eyes.

BANG. BANG. BANG.

It keeps up like that all night, and when her dad opens the door in the morning Alexis is just sitting there staring hopelessly into space.

“Morning, sweetheart. Sleep well?”

She shoots him this death glare and then, when he gives her an innocent look back, says, “Did you not hear that?”

“What?”

“Banging! All night. Literally all night, how are you even asking me that.”

He shakes his head. “Moira!” he yells back into the room. “Did you hear any, erm…”

“Banging!” Alexis says loudly.

“Right, did you hear any banging last night?”

“You would have known if I did, dear,” Moira says sunnily, coming into the doorway. “No, my beauty rest was pleasant as ever, thank you for asking.”

Alexis takes a careful breath, her temper on a hair-trigger from lack of sleep. “It was very loud,” she says. “You didn’t hear anything?”

They shake their heads, and the innocent bewilderment seems genuine for once.

“I’ll ask around, sweetheart. I’m sure someone else heard something.”

Alexis bums a ride to the cafe, sitting at the counter to be close to Twyla.

“Morning, Alexis,” Twyla says on her way past with the coffee pot, and Alexis just groans loudly. Twyla pauses, setting the pot down on the counter. “Everything okay?”

“Not really,” Alexis says. “I was up all night with this horrible banging, and my parents didn’t even hear it so they think I’m, you know, losing my mind.”

Twyla gives her this worried look.

It occurs to Alexis that Twyla might have a couch or something she could sleep on, so she asks, “Did you sleep well?”

Twyla’s eyes go wide and she stammers a little, picking up the coffee pot. “Um, oh wow. That’s—so thoughtful, I—” She looks across the cafe and nods like another customer is calling her. “I’ll be back.”

Instead of crossing the cafe, she turns and pushes through the doors into the back, and Alexis sighs.

“I didn’t even order.”

That night, everything is quiet as Alexis gets ready for bed, and she’s so excited to be asleep she’s in bed with her sleep mask on by 8pm.

BANG. BANG. BANG.

“No,” Alexis groans. When she checks her phone, she sees she’s been asleep for hours, but she still feels so fragile she could cry.

BANG. BANG. BANG.

Now that she’s awake, she realizes it isn’t the same sound at all. This time the banging is coming from the door, and Alexis stares at it in fear, her mind conjuring up a hundred terrible stories that could start with someone banging on the door of a motel in Schitt’s Creek at 2am.

She goes to the connecting door first, listening for a second to see if her dad is going to wake up and rescue her. After the reaction she got this morning, she doesn’t want to wake them up unless there’s actually a murderer, so she creeps up to the main door and peeks past the curtain.

Then realizes she actually has to open her eyes to look, so squints them open the tiniest bit until she can see past her lashes.

Nothing. As far as she can see, the sidewalk is empty.

She lets out a breath, releasing her shoulders, and realizes the banging has stopped. Moving away from the door, she starts back toward the bed, and—

BANG. BANG. BANG.

“Oh, fuck,” she says under her breath, turning back and yanking open the door.

As soon as she does, she thinks, Well, that’s it for me, I’m dead, but it’s just some old lady standing in front of her parents’ door. Her long, grey hair is down around her shoulders, her nightgown touching the floor, and her arms look so frail that Alexis can’t imagine how she managed to bang loud enough to wake her up.

“Um, can I help you?” Alexis asks impatiently, but the woman doesn’t turn. “If you need something, you have to go to the front desk. Hello?” She hesitates. “Can you hear me?”

The woman doesn’t react, and after a minute she turns and walks the other way. It’s technically the direction of the front desk, so Alexis shrugs and goes back inside.

She manages to get a bit more sleep, still in bed when her dad opens the connecting door in the morning.

“Morning, sweetheart.”

Alexis blinks a few times, sitting up, then gives her dad this wide-eyed look.

“…Banging?” he asks.

“Yes! Did you hear it?”

He frowns.

“There was a woman here,” Alexis says. “She was banging on your door. How is it possible that it woke me up and you didn’t even hear it?”

He frowns harder, tilting his head. “A woman. Last night you said it sounded like the pipes. You’re saying someone was here?”

Alexis really feels like she’s floating for a second, not entirely inside her body. “An old woman,” she says numbly, “but she was knocking on your door, not mine. I told her to go to the front desk, but she didn’t seem to hear me.”

The look her dad gives her at that doesn’t make her feel better. At all. “We’ll check with Stevie, okay?” he says gently, and Alexis just closes her eyes, nodding.

Back at the cafe, she unloads on Twyla, expecting a similar reaction. Instead, she gets a calm nod.

“Can you meet me after my shift?”

Alexis stares at her, dumbfounded. “Um, sure?”

She eats her breakfast, stealing glances at Twyla as she goes about her usual business, then kills time wandering around town, half looking out for the old woman. She even asks around a little, getting more bizarre looks for her trouble.

When Twyla’s shift is finally over, they get in her car and start driving away and Alexis’s mind goes a million different places.

“Um, where are we going?”

“To Ronnie’s,” Twyla says grimly.

“Like, town council Ronnie?” Alexis asks. “Um, why?”

Twyla glances to the side at her before saying darkly, “You have no idea.”

Now Alexis is pretty sure she’s gonna get murdered. There were a few options vying for “most likely reason Twyla is taking you on a mysterious drive with no explanation” but murder just rose to the top of the list.

“Okay, I’m gonna need more that,” Alexis says. “I’m pretty sure I can outrun you, like… sixty percent sure.”

Twyla looks over again, and now she looks at her like she’s crazy. “Ronnie is going to help,” she says, like it’s obvious.

“Yeah, help you take me down so you both can murder me for your own, whatever, nefarious purposes, sure.”

“Are you… okay?”

Alexis closes her eyes, taking a careful breath. “No. Not really.”

“Right. Well, no one’s going to murder you. That’s pretty much the opposite of what we want. I just think Ronnie can explain it better.”

Okay, what the fuck is the opposite of murder? That somehow doesn’t make Alexis feel better, but she gives up on questions, just sits back and looks out her window.

When they get to Ronnie’s, Twyla gets out of the car and goes to the door, very intentionally not looking at Alexis. Ronnie answers the door and they talk, then Ronnie looks past Twyla to where Alexis sits in the car. Alexis narrows her eyes, not moving, and Ronnie shrugs. They both go inside, and Alexis sits there for sixty whole seconds before huffing out a breath and climbing out of the car.

She goes to the door, finds it unlocked, and pushes it open a few inches, calling, “Hello?”

“In here,” Ronnie calls from the living room, and Alexis enters warily. She hovers in the doorway to the living room until Ronnie holds up a bottle and says, “Want a drink?”

“Yes, please,” Alexis says, walking in and sitting down next to Twyla on the couch. A second later she realizes that drinking will make her easier to murder, but, whatever. She’s already in the house, so.

“Twyla tells me you’ve had a… visit,” Ronnie says ominously.

“What? Why did you say it like that? Why did you say visit like that? Is that a thing?”

Looking to Twyla, Ronnie says, “You didn’t tell her anything?”

Twyla shakes her head, and Alexis glances over at her. Her expression is somber, and she doesn’t look back at Alexis—until she does, just a split-second dart of her eyes.

“Well, Alexis, a ‘visit’ is what we call it when someone is ‘visited’,” Ronnie says, making air quotes with her fingers, “by a spirit.”

“No,” Alexis says.

Ronnie ignores her. “You’re not the first person to be visited by this woman—elderly, long gray hair, floor-length nightgown?”

Alexis just stares at her, and Ronnie waits until she gets a nod.

“In the past, she’s only made split-second appearances, around corners, at a distance, that sort of thing. This appearance seems more… targeted.”

“No, no, no,” Alexis says. “This is not happening, I am not gonna deal with this.”

Calmly, Ronnie replies, “It is happening, and you will deal with it, or the situation will escalate.” She holds up the bottle. “Drink?”

Alexis holds out her glass, and Ronnie pours a bit more this time. She takes a gulp, then says, eyes watering, “What do you expect me to do?”

“There are… options,” Ronnie says. “Essentially two main approaches that boil down to communicate… or eradicate.”

These dramatic pauses are really starting to get to Alexis. “Eradicate sounds good, let’s do that.”

Ronnie looks to Twyla, and they have a silent conversation with minute facial expressions that ends with Twyla turning to Alexis.

“Alexis, spirits can be sensitive. If we come on too strong, with too negative an energy, things can get… messy.”

Alexis stares at her. “I have to be nice to the ghost?”

“Not nice,” Twyla says carefully. “More… neutral. Um… polite? You have to understand, she’s lived there a lot longer than you have.”

It takes her a second to process that, and when she does she realizes: “I’ve already been rude to her.”

“That’s okay,” Twyla says, with what Alexis thinks is supposed to be an encouraging smile but looks more like a wince. “Just apologize.”

“Apologize to the ghost,” Alexis says, closing her eyes and sighing. “Right.” When she opens her eyes, she looks straight at Twyla and says, “You’re gonna help me, right?”

Twyla looks to Ronnie, who says, “We’ll help you, but you’ll have to follow our directions exactly.”

“Right,” Alexis says again. She looks back at Twyla, then down. “But I mean, you’re gonna help me tonight, right? Like, I’ll apologize to the fu—frig—um, to the ghost. I’ll follow your, um, directions. But, like…”

Twyla and Ronnie trade another look, another silent conversation, then Ronnie nods and says to Alexis, “We can set up tonight. I’m gonna recommend Twyla observe from inside the room with you, and I’ll be on surveillance in the van. We’ll need to set up cameras, microphones, a few other bits and bobs.” Off Alexis’s look, she adds vaguely, waving a hand, “Candles…”

“Candles,” Alexis mouths to herself before holding out her glass in a wordless request.

“Sorry,” Ronnie says. “If we’re doing this tonight, we need you sharp.”

Alexis gives her a horrified look and Twyla jumps in with, “Just in case! It’s far more likely nothing will happen at all.”

That’s not actually comforting, and Alexis turns her horrified look. Twyla gives her that smile/wince again with a shrug.

C’est la vie, Alexis thinks, and then, under her breath, “C’est la mort.”

“What?”

Shaking her head, Alexis fakes a smile and says, “Let’s do this.”

Leaving Ronnie to pack up the van, Twyla gets back behind the wheel and Alexis texts David from the passenger seat.

Alexis: Don’t come home for a few days :)

David: Um, why?

Alexis: I’m having a sleepover

David: Ew

Alexis: Not that kind of sleepover, David

David: What kind of sleepover???

They pull up outside Twyla’s and she turns to Alexis, taking a breath and then hesitating before saying, “I just need to grab a few things. Wait here.”

“Ooh, can I come in?” Alexis asks, expecting an easy yes.

Instead, Twyla gives her a look she can’t read and says, “No, Alexis. Please stay in the car.”

Alexis gives a little laugh. “Um, I’m sensing some negative energy here.”

She’s half joking, but Twyla sighs, looking through the windshield at her house, and Alexis doesn’t feel well all of a sudden.

“Are you mad at me?” She tries to play it off, pressing a hand to her chest, but she’s so relieved when Twyla shakes her head.

“I guess I might’ve gotten my feelings hurt when you thought I was gonna murder you.”

“Well you know I didn’t really —” Alexis starts, and Twyla shoots this wounded look to the side at her. It’s true that she didn’t mean it, true that she didn’t really know what she was saying, that she was freaking out and for good reason—but right now she just wants Twyla to like her again, so she says, “I’m sorry.”

Twyla looks at her again, and Alexis reaches out to leave a brief touch on Twyla’s hand, tilting her head and offering a charming smile.

“I’m really sorry I hurt your feelings and accused you of conspiracy to murder.”

Twyla closes her eyes, sighing again, then says, “I still want you to wait in the car.”

“Do you forgive me?”

“I do. Yeah.”

Alexis grins, and Twyla smiles just a little bit back before getting out of the car. She comes back with a duffel bag, and when they pull up at the motel she leans forward to look through the windshield and asks, “What will you tell your parents?”

“Um,” Alexis says. “Girls’ night?”

Twyla nods slowly. “We’ll have to keep the door locked.”

Alexis presses her lips together. “Mm.”

“So…” Twyla glances nervously to the side at her. “Girls’ night?”

Alexis nods, and Ronnie pulls into the parking lot, a few spaces down. Twyla goes to grab a second duffle bag with the recording equipment, and Alexis meets her at the door.

When they get inside, Alexis writes GIRLS NIGHT DO NOT DISTURB on a piece of paper and tapes it to the connecting door, closes it and jams a doorstop in the gap under it. She locks the main door too, with the do not disturb door hanger on, then checks that the curtains are as tightly closed as possible.

Then she starts hyperventilating, her back to the room. Twyla comes up behind her, resting a hand on Alexis’s back.

“Oh my god, I can’t do this.”

“It’s okay,” Twyla says soothingly. “I’ve done this a hundred times, I’m still standing.”

Alexis chokes on her next inhale, eyes going wide.

“Oh,” Twyla says. “Yeah. Schitt’s Creek is super haunted.”

“I mean,” Alexis says, “like, I get why you wouldn’t tell us that, but like, I kind of wish we’d been told at some point.”

“You wouldn’t have believed us,” Twyla says honestly, and Alexis abruptly realizes Twyla has been rubbing her back this whole time, so that’s a thing that’s happening. It’s like… really nice? And Alexis somehow feels calm and ready to deal with this old lady ghost.

She gives Twyla a little smile and turns back to face the room. One of the duffle bags is open on David’s bed, a hard electronics case next to it.

Alexis takes a breath. “How can I help?”

They set up one camera pointing at the door, one overlooking the table, and Alexis ducks outside to hide one in a bush, watching the sidewalk and her parents’ door as well as her own. One microphone just inside the door, another near the table.

None of the electronics are fancy or new—like, ten years old at best—like this ghost-hunting kit has been cobbled together from second-hand stores or somebody’s basement. The same is true for the walkie-talkie Twyla uses to communicate with Ronnie, confirming the set-up, and Alexis tries to figure out why it seems so incongruous to her. Like, other than the obvious.

She watches Twyla holding the walkie-talkie up to her face, speaking into it as she checks the cameras, and finally realizes that Twyla seems so weirdly professional that the shitty equipment is out of place.

But like, professional ghost hunting? Alexis can’t process that.

Twyla appears in front of her, sans walkie-talkie, and Alexis realizes she’s just been standing there staring for however long. She tilts her head, offering a smile, and Twyla presses her lips together, almost-smiling back.

“It’s late, and we need to get a baseline,” Twyla says, like, weirdly professional. “So we’ll just observe tonight. Do what you normally do, go to bed… and we’ll see what happens.” Alexis nods, but before she can respond Twyla adds, “I might, um, also sleep, if that’s okay.”

“Oh my god,” Alexis says, and Twyla twitches a little, then Alexis steps forward to hug her and says, “You must be exhausted.” The fact that Twyla got off a ten-hour shift and immediately started running Alexis around to hunt a ghost kind of makes Alexis want to cry. Twyla just laughs a little, hugging her back, and Alexis asks, “You wanna do a face mask?”

Static blares from the walkie-talkie on the table where Twyla left it, and Ronnie barks, “No face masks!”

They pull apart, both smiling, and Alexis tries to burn into her mind the fact that Ronnie can hear everything they say. The cameras, at least, are limited to potential ‘hot spots,’ but the microphones are intentionally extremely sensitive. Despite how alone (together) they may feel, there’s no privacy here.

Not that they need privacy. Alexis just hopes she doesn’t talk in her sleep.

She changes into her pyjamas, and then, because Twyla told her to do what she normally does, goes through her entire nighttime skin routine. By the time she comes out of the bathroom, Twyla is passed out on David’s bed.

Pressing her lips together against a smile, Alexis moves to the side of David’s bed and stares at her for a second, hating the idea of waking her—then realizes that standing there and staring at her is, on balance, much worse.

She reaches out and nudges Twyla’s shoulder, and Twyla’s eyes fly open.

“Um,” Alexis says gently. “Do you wanna brush your teeth?”

Twyla blinks a few times, steadying her breathing, and says, “Yeah. Thanks.”

When she comes out, she’s taken off her makeup, too, and Alexis lets out a breath, relieved for her pores.

“Do you—” Alexis starts to say, then remembers Ronnie and grabs the notebook and pen she used to make the sign, writing, Do you want to sleep with me?

Twyla reads it, then looks up, frowning a little, and mouths, “Why?”

Alexis writes, She always comes when David’s bed is empty.

Twyla gives her a look, gently doubtful, and Alexis rolls her eyes, crossing it out and writing, I’ll be lonely :(

Alexis offers up a hopeful pout, and after a second Twyla just nods.

Grinning with the familiar triumph of getting her way, Alexis moves to get under the covers, holding them up for Twyla to join her. They lie down, then Twyla reaches for the notebook on the bedside table, holding it up over her face to write, This bed is very small, underlining very .

Alexis reaches over her, taking the pen and writing, Nice, right?

Twyla laughs, takes the pen back and writes, It’s cozy.

You don’t have to stay.

For a minute, Twyla stares at the words—long enough that Alexis glances at her face, then immediately regrets it because Twyla is so, so close. Which is fine, but also kind of a lot. Like, a non-specific, uncategorized, definitely-not-analyzed lot.

She looks back at the notebook, for something else to look at, and then Twyla just puts it back on the night table, lies down and closes her eyes. Alexis smiles a little, turning onto her side—which both creates an extra inch of space between them and makes Twyla feel a lot closer… so Alexis just closes her eyes.

BANG. BANG. BANG.

Alexis groans quietly. She can’t quite force her eyes open, so she thinks, Maybe I’ll just wait it out.

BANG. BANG. BANG.

Squinting her eyes open, then opening them all the way, she’s surprised to see Twyla still fast asleep. She eases out of bed, moving to the door and peeking around the curtain. Nothing.

She opens the door anyway, and sure enough, the old lady is standing at her parents’ door.

“Hi… there,” Alexis says awkwardly. “Good, um, good to see you?”

The woman doesn’t react.

“So, um… ma’am. I’d like to apologize for my, um, tone? Last night? ‘Cause, you know, we try to be very welcoming here, and—”

The woman turns, starting to walk away, and Alexis takes a step outside, calling after her, “I just wanna talk to you!”

She watches her walk away, then groans, “Ugh!” and goes back inside.

Twyla is sitting up in bed, speaking into the walkie-talkie. As Alexis crosses the room, she hears Ronnie say, “I’m playing it back, nothing on first glance. We’ll go over it tomorrow… Get some more sleep.”

Twyla says something else, too quiet for Alexis to hear, then sets the walkie-talkie back on the bedside table and looks up. Alexis slows, waits for Twyla to say, “The video didn’t pick up anything.”

“Did you hear it?” Alexis asks, and off Twyla’s confused frown, “The banging.” Twyla shakes her head, and Alexis says, “Fuck!”

Twyla gives her a look, not so much scolding as it is sympathetic, and motions for her to come closer. Alexis moves forward, to the edge of the bed, and Twyla turns her around, sits her down, her hands at the small of Alexis’s back.

“Watch your energy,” Twyla says quietly, her thumbs rubbing on either side of Alexis’s spine.

“How am I supposed to do that?” Alexis asks, inhaling as Twyla’s hands move up her back.

“Pay attention to it,” Twyla says. “Check in.” Moving her hands up under Alexis’s hair, rubbing her neck, she says, “Take a breath,” and Alexis does, like it was a command.

She’s having trouble remembering to breathe otherwise.

Twyla goes still, like she—like Alexis doesn’t know what, pulls her hands away and then smooths Alexis’s hair back into place. “You wanna sleep?”

Alexis doesn’t, really, but she doesn’t know why, whether she’s still freaked out even though Twyla’s hands have gotten her, like, super relaxed. But anyway, “Yeah,” she says. “Sure.”

They get back in Alexis’s bed, and Alexis is relieved she doesn’t have to ask again.

“Can I—” Alexis says, shifting closer and glancing up at Twyla’s face. “Sorry, can I just—” She inches forward, moving her arm slowly to wrap around Twyla’s waist, and Twyla works her arm out to wrap around Alexis’s shoulders. Alexis can’t say Is that okay? with the mics listening, so she waits a minute and then puts a question mark on a hum. Twyla just rubs her shoulder in response, so Alexis thinks Fuck it and pulls her even closer, straight-up snuggling into her side. Then she really relaxes, closing her eyes.

In the morning, Ronnie shows them what she’s found on the recordings. The video doesn’t show anything on first glance, like she said, but when this weird filter goes over it, they can see a slight distortion in the light outside Alexis’s room.

No sign of banging on the audio, which makes Alexis so furious her vision goes spotty, but while she’s talking to the old woman there’s a faint “shooshing” sound.

When they’re alone in the car again, Alexis stares out the window, feeling incredibly let down. Twyla tells her it’s normal, and Alexis finds herself blinking back tears.

Then Twyla offers to drop Alexis off at her place so Alexis doesn’t have to spend the day either at the motel or wandering around town.

“Um, really?” Alexis says. “Because that would be an unusually nice thing for someone to do.”

“I’m a nice person,” Twyla says, as if it needs saying.

“You are,” Alexis says. “You’re the nicest person I know.” It sounds sincere, which, coming from Alexis, sounds weird. At least, to her, and she has to assume to Twyla too because the car goes deadly silent and she tries to think of a way to salvage this. “I meant, like, for a normal person.” Nope. That was not it.

The car goes silent again and Alexis stares out the window, chewing the inside of her cheek in a habit she’d mostly broken twenty years ago.

“So, um,” Alexis says finally. “I would like to graciously accept your kind offer, if it’s… still an offer.”

“It is,” Twyla says brightly. “Because I like you.”

Alexis tries not to dwell on that, staring harder out the window.

Around noon, she gets an email from her dad, who still hasn’t learned to text.

Dad: Is there something wrong with the connecting door?

Alexis: um, no, it’s locked

Dad: It’s not locked, it seems to be jammed with something.

Alexis: it’s like an improvised lock, did you read the sign

Dad: “Girls’ night”? It’s the middle of the day, Alexis.

Alexis: yeah, well, girls night is continuing tonight so you can like add an s if it bothers you so much

Dad: Is there a reason you don't want me to go in there?

Alexis: no lol I'm just introducing Twyla to deep facial cleansing and, um, there's like this in between stage? I just don't think you want to see that lol

Dad: Fine. Just don't leave the door quote unquote locked when you aren't there. It's a fire hazard.

“Oh my god,” Alexis says out loud, rolling her eyes.

After her shift, Twyla swings by to pick Alexis up and drive them back to the motel. This time, the duffel bag produces candles, many many pure white candles that Alexis helps Twyla set up around the room. She’s thinking fire hazard, but Twyla says they need “a barrier of white light,” so Alexis guesses they’ll just have to be careful.

By the time they’re ready, Ronnie texts Twyla, I’m in position, so they light the candles, shut off the lights, and sit down at the table. Alexis is getting anxious again, but Twyla reaches across the table and motions for Alexis to take her hands.

“Aw,” Alexis says, setting her hands in Twyla’s like she’s getting a manicure, or expecting them to be kissed.

Twyla gives a little half-amused smile, then says, “Close your eyes,” and Alexis does. “Take a deep breath. Now, picture your mind filling with white light. As it fills up, picture the light spilling over, down over your body, surrounding you. It fills the room, past the walls, through the motel, and over the parking lot.” She pauses, taking a careful breath, and Alexis does the same. “Okay,” Twyla says, and Alexis opens her eyes. “Ready?”

“You’re really good at that,” Alexis says, and Twyla just looks at her for a second before turning her eyes up to a spot on the wall above Alexis’s head and taking another careful breath.

She looks at Alexis again and says, again, “Ready?”

Alexis nods.

Twyla clears her throat and picks up the box of matches. Striking one, she says, “To the spirit who visited this room last night,” and lights the last candle, in the middle of the table, “we welcome you with white light and greet you in peace. If you come to us in kind, we ask that you give us a sign.”

One of the candles in a corner of the room flickers and Alexis looks to Twyla, eyes wide.

Shaking her head the tiniest bit, Twyla repeats, “If you come to us in kind, please give us a sign.”

There’s a quiet knock on the door— knock, knock, knock —and Alexis’s hands fly up to cover her mouth. She turns around in her chair, staring at the door, and the same candle flickers again.

“That’s good,” Twyla whispers, “it’s good.” Then, at a normal volume, “Thank you. If you wish to communicate with us, please knock once for yes and twice for no. Do you wish to communicate with us?”

Knock.

“Are we speaking to the spirit who visited last night and the night before?”

Knock.

Alexis actually starts to get excited, eyes wide over her fingers.

“Were you trying to contact Alexis?”

Knock. Knock.

Oh. Like, that’s probably a good thing, but also… curved by a ghost.

Twyla almost laughs, looking at her, so Alexis has to assume that shows on her face. Her hands have dropped to her lap, her shoulders slumping, so she straightens up and fakes a cute smile. Twyla only looks more amused, shaking her head.

“Were you trying to contact David?”

Knock. Knock.

Twyla hesitates, then says, “Mr. Rose? I mean, Johnny?”

Knock.

“The renovations,” Alexis suggests, and there’s a clap of sound right over her head. She ducks down with a little shriek, then says loudly, “What, I’m not allowed to talk?”

The TV turns on to static behind her and Alexis jumps again, turning to stare at it, then getting up and yanking the plug out of the wall. She turns back with the plug still in her hand to see Twyla watching her, eyebrows high, eyes wide.

Alexis turns her mouth up, eyes closing, chin lifting, then sets the plug carefully down on the dresser and returns to her seat. She sits delicately and looks expectantly to Twyla, who mouths, “Apologize.”

“Sorry!” Alexis says automatically. “Sorry, sorry, I—”

Twyla waves her hands, like, Stop, stop, and Alexis presses her lips together, pulling them into her mouth and biting down.

She gives Twyla a thumbs-up, and Twyla says, “Okay,” taking a breath. “Have you been disturbed by the renovations?”

Knock.

“How long have you been here? If you can give us a number.”

The knocks begin, and Alexis counts on her fingers up to twenty-six.

“Twenty-six,” she mouths back at Twyla, who nods, jotting it down.

“Have you always been here?”

Knock. Knock.

“Did someone bring you here?”

There’s a knock, then a pause. Another knock, a third, a fourth, speeding up until it’s just noise accompanied by a gust of air whipping around the room, and Alexis ducks her head again, gripping the edge of the table and squinting her eyes.

“Okay, thank you,” Twyla says loudly. “Goodbye.” She blows out the central candle, and everything stops. Alexis stares at her, not moving, and after a minute Twyla asks, “Are you okay?”

“I just can’t believe that worked.”

Twyla relaxes a little, her mouth curving slightly, and says, “Which part?”

“Um,” Alexis says. She meant the blowing out the candle thing, but once she thinks about it, “All of it?”

Twyla almost smiles, then the walkie blares.

“You guys good?”

Getting up to grab it, Twyla says, “We’re good, just a little shaken. Let’s talk in the morning, but I’m thinking some research might be in order.”

“I was thinking the same thing. We need a bit more direction here.”

“If you sleep now,” Twyla says slowly, moving to the window and peeking past the curtain, “do you think you’d be up for driving to Elmdale tomorrow? With Alexis, obviously.”

Alexis is glad Twyla isn’t looking at her in that moment since it takes her a second to rein in her reaction to that idea. She likes Ronnie more than some people in this town, but they’ve never spent more than five minutes alone together, and that was just enough time for Alexis to know that Ronnie is not charmed by her. Refuses to be charmed by her. Has no interest in being charmed by her.

What is Alexis supposed to do with that?

There’s a long pause, and Alexis can’t help thinking Ronnie is having the same doubts, but finally she says, “Sure. That sounds fine.”

“Okay,” Twyla says, turning back to look at Alexis, who manages to work up a fake smile, though not her best effort. “See you in the morning.” The hand holding the walkie drops, then she glances at the cameras and takes a step to the side, further into the blind spot, before holding her arms out to Alexis.

Hopping up from her seat, Alexis crosses to hug her.

They stay like that for a long minute, then Twyla says again, “Okay?”

Alexis makes a little sound in the affirmative, and still neither of them moves. It’s silly because they’re literally just going to bed, so Alexis finally pulls away, giving Twyla a tiny, crooked, genuine smile.

Twyla smiles back, then as Alexis turns away says, “You’re good to keep going, right? I can’t promise things won’t get worse before they get better.”

“No, yeah,” Alexis says. “Just…” Since the mics are still on, she turns back, reaches for Twyla’s free hand and holds it in both of hers. Closes her eyes, lets out a breath, and says again, a question this time, “Just?”

“Yeah,” Twyla says, and Alexis opens her eyes, realizing that she’s gotten just a little bit too close. Twyla certainly hasn’t moved—literally hasn’t moved, is so still Alexis isn’t sure she’s still breathing.

Then Alexis realizes she’s brought Twyla’s hand to rest against her chest, over her heart, and thinks, Shit. Fakes a smile, gently releases her hand, and backs away. Pictures the “this is fine” dog meme as she goes about getting ready for bed. Like, it is fine, genuinely fine, but also… quite possibly not fine at all.

It’s fine, though.

“Do you always stay in the van?” Alexis asks the next day, halfway to Elmdale. It’s the first words she’s spoken since they started driving, and Ronnie looks at her like she’s nuts. “When you’re, um, ghosting,” Alexis clarifies. “Like, you’re always in the van, Twyla’s always inside?”

“No,” Ronnie says, eyes back on the road. “Depends on the setup. Very few places in this town are as small as that motel room.”

“Ugh,” Alexis says. “Don’t remind me.”

“So,” Ronnie says. “Sometimes we’ll bring the whole thing inside. Sometimes it’s winter and I’m not trying to die of carbon monoxide poisoning. Sometimes…” She trails off. “Why do you ask?”

“Just… no reason.”

“You and Twyla are getting along.”

It’s not a question, but it requires a response, so Alexis hums vaguely, looking out the window. She doesn’t expect Ronnie to pry, and she doesn’t. But there’s only so long Alexis can look at fields, and more fields.

“Does everyone know?” she asks. “About the ghosts.”

“Everyone has one, pretty much. The Schitts have three. And that’s just in the house.”

Alexis can’t decide if that was meant to be encouraging or terrifying, but she’s definitely not encouraged. Staring out the window, she shifts her mouth from one side to the other, trying not to chew her cheeks.

“Some people in town aren’t so fond of what we do,” Ronnie says. “And there’s only two of us. But we are making progress.”

“So like, don’t give up hope?” Alexis asks, just this side of sarcastic.

“Right.”

Alexis sighs. Deeply. Then thinks, Bright side. Um… bright side, bright side… “Have you ever thought about trying to make money off this?” Ronnie gives her a look, and Alexis says, “No, I see how that sounded wrong. I mean, like, you’re helping people, you should be compensated for your time and effort. Equipment. Food. Threats to personal safety.”

“Are you offering?”

Alexis pretends to laugh. “You’re so funny. I am offering my brand invigoration consultancy services. As a thank you.”

Ronnie doesn’t reply, but Alexis reads her silence as thoughtful and goes on.

“You don’t have to change anything about what you’re doing, I would just work with you both to develop a business plan. Or, ” Alexis says emphatically, “I do see a lot of potential for growth. A little advertising can go a long way. Even, you know, social media… or youtube.”

“I’m not saying I’m considering this,” Ronnie says, “but without Roland’s support…”

“What if my dad talks to him?”

“In what world is your dad going to throw his weight behind… what we do?”

“If I’m involved?” Alexis says. “Trust me. He will.”

Ronnie sighs through her nose, shaking her head. “Again, not saying I’m considering this, but this conversation needs to be had with Twyla, and just… not right now.”

“Yeah,” Alexis says, “no, a hundred percent. Um…” She takes a breath, looking out the window. “I Spy?”

Ronnie ignores her brilliant suggestion. “Have you been to the public library in Elmdale?”

“No. Is it haunted?”

“Well. Probably, yeah. We’re just going to use the microfiche.”

“Excuse me?”

“What?”

“Like really small fish? Like—” She holds up her thumb and index finger pressed together. “—teeny tiny goldfish?”

“Micro- fiche, ” Ronnie says again, and it still sounds like she’s saying micro fish with a French accent. “It’s a… well, it’s… it lets you read old newspapers.”

“A computer.”

“Not a computer. You’ll see. Anyway, we’ll look at the archives of the Elmdale Chronicle to try and find an obit that matches our spirit. Once we have a name, we need to find everything we possibly can on her. Odds are, it won’t be a lot.”

“And do what?”

“Well… talk to her. Hope we can connect with her. Find out what she wants, and try to offer her something else. Ideally, we’ll help her to move on.”

Alexis is trying to wrap her head around this. “So like, if she has a husband. We could say, hey, you know, your husband’s in heaven, maybe you should… also… be in heaven. With him.”

“You’re not actually going to talk to her, right?”

“No,” Alexis says, rolling her eyes. “I’m not allowed to talk to her. So, like, you don’t have to worry.”

“Right, right, I saw your little tiff.”

“Okay, I did not get in a tiff with a ghost.”

Ronnie grins for the first time since they’ve been alone together, saying, “What would you call it?”

Alexis sighs, looking out the window. “I miss Twyla.”

“Yeah, me too.”

When they pull up outside the library, Alexis stares through the windshield apprehensively. For one thing, it’s probably haunted, and Alexis doesn’t think her tolerance for ghosts could be much lower right now. For another, Alexis is pretty sure she’s never been inside a public library before, and she feels like her first should be, like, Paris, or Dubai, not… Elmdale. “Maybe I should wait in the car.”

“Alexis,” Ronnie says carefully. “You’re the only one who’s seen her. You’re the only person who knows what she looks like. I need you to come inside.”

“Right,” Alexis says, like that’s exactly what she meant. “Obviously. I meant, like, maybe I should wait until you’ve checked that the tiny fish is free, like that no one else is using it. Obviously I’m coming inside.” She lets a beat pass to see if Ronnie will take the bait, then says, “Yep,” and opens the door. “Cool,” she says, looking up at the library. It’s actually in the same building as the high school, which isn’t comforting, because it means Alexis has spent so much time in so many haunted buildings. “Cool cool cool cool.”

By the time she’s taken several breaths, combed her fingers through her hair and straightened her dress, Ronnie has made it to the door and is holding it open, so Alexis has to jog for it. She follows Ronnie to the stairs to the basement, which they are apparently going down, and groans.

“Oh, I really wish Twyla was here.”

“Get over it, please,” Ronnie says, starting down the stairs. “I don’t wanna hold your hand.”

Alexis pouts, only half serious until she thinks about Twyla actually holding her hand, then she groans again, “Ugh,” and stomps down the stairs. Ronnie has vanished by the time she gets down there, and she has about four creepy, shadowy hallways to choose from. Alexis doesn’t watch scary movies but she’s had friends and boyfriends who did so she knows what a haunted fucking library basement looks like, and she also knows that the ghosts don’t have to wait until it gets dark when they live underground.  That’s, like, a fact.

“Ronnie,” she calls weakly. “Ronnie.”

A door opens halfway down the main hallway and Ronnie pokes her head out. Then points. “There are signs everywhere. What does that sign say?”

The one in front of her says “Microfiche” with an arrow. There’s also one right next to the door. “Well, I didn’t read the signs,” Alexis says, rolling her eyes.

She joins Ronnie in the crowded little room with something that looks very much like a big, stupid, old computer. Or what Alexis imagines big stupid old computers might have looked like. There’s no keyboard, or mouse, and Alexis watches as Ronnie sits down and does whatever she does to make the screen light up and then start scrolling through what Alexis guesses are the old newspapers.

“Sit down,” Ronnie says, not looking away from the screen.

Alexis does, crossing her legs and saying, “Don’t you need to sign it out or something?”

“I did that online. You know it’s 2018.”

She shoots a glance to the side at Alexis, the corner of her mouth turning up the tiniest bit, and for the first time Alexis considers that this might be, like, banter. Maybe Ronnie doesn’t actually despise her to her very core and hate everything about her (and want her dead, which was still on the table ish for Ronnie only).

“Okay, obits for first week of January, 1992.”

Alexis leans forward, squinting at the screen as Ronnie scrolls slowly over the photos. It’s kind of impossible to be sure, trying to decipher black-and-white photos converted from newsprint to microfiche, but she wisely decides not to comment. “No.”

“Second week of January, 1992.”

They carry on like that through second week of June, 1992, and Alexis isn’t entirely sure she’s still awake. She could be sleeping with her eyes open, but then Ronnie scrolls past this one photo and—”That’s her.”

“What?!” Ronnie says, like she didn’t actually expect this to work.

“Yeah, this picture’s like twenty years old, but it’s definitely her.”

Ronnie gives her a look somewhere between skeptical and incredulous, and Alexis raises her eyebrows back in question. “You got all that from this picture?”

“I mean, yeah,” Alexis says, looking back at the photo. “I had to inspect my mom’s face for wrinkles like once a week growing up, I am intimately familiar with the aging female face.”

“Fair enough,” Ronnie says. She presses a button on the machine and Alexis almost jumps out of her skin at the screeching that starts up. The lower part of the machine spits out a printed copy of the obit, and Ronnie uses a pen to circle a few things: the woman’s name, her birth and death dates, and the list of names after ‘survived by.’ “I need you to go upstairs and grab a computer. I emailed you a list of websites, start with those and then try Google. Use her name, use relatives names, use any names you find. Can you do that?”

“Yes ma’am,” Alexis says, taking the sheet of paper and getting up. “I’m ready, coach! Put me in.”

Ronnie ignores her, and Alexis doesn’t even get her own joke (something about sports?) so she lets it go.

As she starts back up the stairs, she texts Twyla: Hope you’re having a good day

By the time she’s found a computer and gotten situated, Twyla’s texted back: Thank you, how’s it going?

All good , Alexis sends back. Busy busy .

Twyla sends two thumbs-up emojis in response, and Alexis sighs, setting her phone down and getting to work.

That night, they debrief at Twyla’s.

“Agnes Marchak,” Ronnie says, “born 1916, died 1992, aged 76, ‘peacefully in hospital.’ Never married, no kids, but she had siblings and they had kids, who had kids, so ‘beloved aunt and great-aunt.’ There’s one great-niece still in the area; every other relation is either MIA or dead.” Ronnie stops, flipping the sheet over and taking a breath. “One appearance in the police blotter, 1954. ‘Public mischief and vandalism reported at the home of Agnes Marchak and Sally White. Roommates.’”

She looks up, trading a look with Twyla.

“’Where a brick was thrown through a front window and words not fit to print were painted on the door. Although suspects were detained, both landlord and tenants declined to press charges.’” She flips the sheet back over. “As far as we can tell, Agnes Marchak left town and didn’t come back until just before she died. Her place of death is listed as Elmdale.”

Alexis pipes up. “I checked a couple of my own sources,” she says, and bats her eyelashes, faux-humble. “I found a scholarship. The Agnes Marchak Memorial Scholarship for—” She pauses to make sure she gets it right, emphasis on each letter. “—LGBTQ students. It’s only five hundred dollars, but… still.”

“Wow,” Twyla says.

“It’s a start,” Ronnie says, but she sounds almost impressed, and Alexis preens a little in the split-second it takes to remember that this is serious.

Then she forces a sober expression and nods thoughtfully.

“I’d like to try to talk to her,” Ronnie says. “Alone.”

Twyla nods immediately, like this makes perfect sense, but Alexis is less sure.

“Isn’t she, like, my ghost?” Off Ronnie’s look, she clarifies, “I mean, you said she targeted me.”

“Well, maybe she made a mistake,” Ronnie says dryly, “since she obviously doesn’t want to talk to you.”

Alexis rolls her eyes, then Twyla touches her arm.

“You’ll stay here tonight, okay?”

Just like that, everything is perfect, and Alexis checks out of the conversation as they discuss logistics.

Twyla touches her arm again and says, “Keys?” and Alexis realizes Ronnie is standing in front of her with her hand out.

She passes them off, then calls her dad while Twyla walks Ronnie to the door. She tells him she's staying at Twyla's tonight but he still shouldn't go in the room.

“Is there something you're not telling me?”

“No. Definitely not.”

“I mean, if you and Twyla… You know you can tell me.”

Alexis feels her face heat up. She was expecting a question about the room, and now she just goes silent.

“You'll tell me when you're ready,” he decides.

“Please don't say anything. To anyone. Please.” Twyla comes back into the room, and Alexis fakes a bright tone. “Okay, thanks, Dad! See you tomorrow!” She ends the call and looks up, smiling.

“I can make the couch up for you?” Twyla says. It’s half-hearted, like she already knows it’s not a realistic suggestion.

“Can I sleep with you?”

“Of course,” Twyla says, and Alexis thinks, Good answer. She hops up from the couch and follows Twyla to her bedroom, sitting down on the edge of the bed while Twyla goes to the dresser for PJs.

“I’m so tired,” Alexis says, almost unintentionally, then adds, fully on purpose, “We missed you today.”

Twyla glances at her in the mirror above the dresser as she slides the drawer closed. “That’s such a nice thing to say.”

“It’s true,” Alexis says. It comes out a little defensive, even as she gets up to cross the room and lean against the dresser beside her.

“It’s still a nice thing to say,” Twyla says gently, and picks up the hairbrush laying on the dresser.

“Can I brush your hair?”

Twyla hands her the brush, moving over to the bed to sit down. Alexis sits behind her, gathering her hair and then starting at the ends.

“My mom used to do this,” Twyla says. “Well, not my mom. The neighbour lady my mom paid twenty bucks to check on me sometimes when she had to work late.”

Alexis glances at her profile, about to say that her mom was never around to brush her hair, either, when Twyla glances back nervously.

“Sorry. I smell like French fries.”

“No, you—” Alexis sniffs. “Oh, you do.” She sniffs again. “It’s nice, though.”

Twyla laughs a little, what would be a scoff from anyone else.

“It is,” Alexis says, smiling. “It’s very you.”

“Do I wanna be the girl who smells like French fries, though?” Twyla asks doubtfully.

Alexis considers that, running the brush through Twyla’s hair again slowly. Then she combs through with her fingers and starts a braid. “When we’re back at the motel, you should try on some of my perfumes. If you like one, you can take it. Wear it when you’re not working.”

There’s a pause, then Twyla says, “I can’t take your—”

“No,” Alexis says, rolling her eyes at herself for leaving out the important part. “I wear a signature scent, but people keep gifting me perfume, like—I have like six bottles I don’t use.” She combs out the braid she’s working on and starts a new one. “You should take one. Not that you need it, um, obviously. Then when you wear it, you can think of me.”

It's something Alexis would say. In another circumstance, with a different tone, it would sound completely normal. But the room immediately goes dead silent and Alexis anxiously combs out the braid a second time.

“French braid or regular?”

“Dealer’s choice,” Twyla replies, so Alexis starts a French braid halfway down and calls it a compromise.

Once she’s changed into borrowed PJs and removed her makeup with Twyla’s toiletries, Alexis feels like a new woman and slides into the bed saying, “This is fun. Like a slumber party.” She thinks about the last couple nights and tries to correct, “A non… haunted… slumber party. Um. Do you have a ghost?”

“I did,” Twyla says carefully. “Greta. She’s moved on now.”

Alexis nods, trying not to seem freaked out by that. “Super cool. Wow. Love that for her.”

Twyla finds one of her hands, holding it in both of hers, and Alexis shuts her mouth, staring back at her.

“Are you okay?” Twyla asks, and Alexis nods again, more normally this time.

She turns onto her back, looking up at the ceiling, but it’s too dark to see it so she opens her eyes wider like that will help. She takes a deep breath, lets it out, then says, “Okay, no, I’m not actually, sorry.”

“What can I do?”

“Um,” Alexis says, looking around the room. “Can we have the bathroom light on, maybe?”

Twyla immediately gets up, switching the light on and leaving the door a few inches from shut. “Is that better?” she asks from across the room, and Alexis holds out her arms in answer. Without hesitation, Twyla comes back to get into bed and wrap her arms around Alexis.

“Weird how much less scary everything is with you.”

That gets silence, but Twyla shifts closer, holding her tighter.

In the morning, Alexis isn't woken up insanely early by Twyla's phone alarm, and when she realizes this she starts the rest of the way awake.

"Twyla," she says. "Twyla! Your alarm didn't go off."

"I'm off today," Twyla says, not opening her eyes.

"You're off today?" She swats at Twyla's arm playfully. "You should have told me, we could've made plans."

"I have plans," Twyla says, and rolls onto her back, eyes still closed. "Errands. I might vacuum."

"Oh," Alexis says, trying not to be disappointed.

Peeking her eyes open, Twyla says, "You could come with me. Nothing exciting but I do need to go into town."

"Oh," Alexis says again, trying not to be not disappointed. "No, I wouldn't want to ruin your day off."

Now Twyla's eyes open all the way, and she stares at Alexis. " What? I mean... sorry, how would you do that?"

"Um," Alexis says, tucking her hair behind her ear. "No, I've just heard that I'm a little much, after a... few hours. So, you know, like, you're probably past that point."

“Okay,” Twyla says, and stares at her a moment longer. “Can you do me a favour?”

Alexis nods.

“Can you just assume you’re not too much for me?”

Alexis has questions—like, under what circumstances? And for how many hours or days? It seems like a bold and overly ambitious statement—but she doesn’t want to risk asking them, so she just nods again.

Twyla brings her hand up, leaves a brief, fluttery touch on Alexis’s arm, then says, “Do you wanna come with me?”

Alexis nods one more time, and Twyla closes her eyes, letting out a breath.

“Okay. Good.”

“You’re so sweet,” Alexis says, and Twyla goes very, very still. In the back of her head, Alexis is starting to vaguely detect a pattern, but she has no idea what it means and she absolutely cannot ask. Instead, she rolls onto her back, sighing, and Twyla slips away to get ready for the day.

They stop at the motel so Alexis can get dressed and do her makeup. Ronnie’s gone, and Alexis hasn’t gotten a panicked call from her dad so maybe they pulled it off? She’s dying to know what Ronnie found out, but Twyla says they’ll debrief that evening.

They start out the drive in comfortable silence—as comfortable as silence can ever be for Alexis, which isn’t very—and then Alexis asks, “Does Ronnie hate me?”

Twyla shoots a look to the side at her, then says, “No.”

“Did you hesitate?”

“No!” Twyla says again, laughing. “She definitely doesn’t hate you.”

“She’s so hard to read.”

“I don’t wanna say she’s doing it on purpose, but…” Twyla shrugs. “She thinks you’re funny, but like, in a good way.”

Alexis doesn’t know about that, but she says, “As long as she doesn’t think I’m some dumb B.” Twyla shoots her another look and Alexis adds, “B for blonde.”

Twyla laughs out loud, then says, “Even if she did, I’d set her straight. I’ve got your back.” She says it in that specific tone she uses when she’s saying something cool she picked up from a movie or read online, and Alexis can’t help grinning as she turns to look out the window.

In Elmdale, their first stop is the diner for breakfast. It’s more of a traditional 1950s-themed American-style diner, but the indelible diner atmosphere is the same as in the Café. After the waitress takes their orders, Alexis leans forward over the table and says, “Is this weird for you?” Twyla’s eyebrows go up, and Alexis clarifies, “Being on this side of the diner… counter, or whatever.”

Twyla blinks, looking away, and says mildly, “You know I have a whole life outside the Café.”

“I know.”

“I just think your picture of me is a little… skewed.”

It’s her gentlest customer service voice, her “I’m sorry, that card didn’t go through” voice, and Alexis presses her lips together, watching her until Twyla looks back again.

“That’s not a criticism,” Twyla adds nervously.

“I know. You just think I should get to know you better.”

“Um,” Twyla says, flushing. “That would be presumptuous of me.”

“Would it?” Alexis says, and leans further forward, her forearms on the table. She opens her mouth, takes a breath, then lets it out and tries again. “Will you let me take you out after this is over? Just the two of us, and not—not like last time.” Not like her mom as a chaperone, not like tips to pick up guys, and definitely not like Twyla going home with someone else. “We can get to know each other.”

Twyla just looks at her inscrutably for a second, then nods. “Of course.”

Good answer.

The waitress returns with their food and Alexis sits back, taking the opportunity to measure her breathing and school her face. Her heart is racing like crazy and she desperately needs to appear more chill than she actually is, like what just happened wasn’t a big deal (it’s a huge deal).

“So,” Alexis says when the waitress is gone. “Tell me about Greta.”

They spend the rest of the day going from store to store, and Alexis might have underestimated how mind-numbingly boring it would be. To keep herself entertained, like a child on a long car ride, she makes up a game. When Twyla steps up to pick something off a shelf, Alexis steps carefully into her blind spot so that when she turns back she comes up short and Alexis has to steady her with a hand on each arm.

“Oops,” Alexis says.

“Oh, sorry.”

She does it again at the next store, and Twyla says, “Oh, sorry,” again. The third time, Twyla stops and looks very seriously into her eyes.

“Are you okay? Did you hit your head?”

Alexis smiles, shaking her head, and Twyla gives her a suspicious look before moving away.

The fourth time, Twyla says, “What is going on with you?!” and Alexis laughs.

“Nothing.” Then she remembers she’s supposed to be being good and adds, “I’m annoying, sorry.”

“I don’t think you’re annoying,” Twyla says, and Alexis instinctively rolls her eyes. “Do you think I think you’re annoying?”

Alexis shakes her head, then says, “Well. Maybe just a little bit.” She holds up her thumb and index finger pressed together, like the tiniest tiny molecule of annoyance.

Glancing to her hand, Twyla seems to realize only then how close they’re still standing and looks down, taking a step back. “Not even a little bit,” she says without looking up, and Alexis stares, thinking, She’s just being nice. She’s so fucking nice.

Once they’re back on the highway, Alexis texts David.

Alexis: I asked Twyla out

David: *thumbs up emoji*
David: did she know what you were asking tho

Alexis: ugh, David
Alexis: what do you mean

David: did you use the word date?

Alexis: I asked her out
Alexis: it’s heavily implied

David: k
David: I’m just saying
David: you may want to unimply it

Alexis: ugh

David: btw am I allowed to come home

Alexis: not yet
Alexis: we’re dealing with something
Alexis: (don’t tell dad)

Shifting just her eyes up, she watches Twyla’s profile as she pretends to continue texting. Unfortunately, David’s theory makes a lot more sense than Twyla actually saying “Of course” to a date with Alexis. Either way, it’s a concern for after, though Alexis is definitely hoping after comes soon for about a million reasons.

Twyla glances over and Alexis looks back down at her phone, heartbeat speeding up.

“Do you want me to drop you at the motel?” Twyla asks.

“Um,” Alexis says. She considers it, then counters, “Do you wanna teach me how to vacuum?”

Twyla fights a grin, glancing at Alexis, back at the road, then back at Alexis. “You’re offering to help clean my house?”

Alexis wants to say no. She wants the answer to be no. “Yes. I guess I am.”

“Well, who could say no to that,” Twyla says, and lets her grin bloom fully.

Alexis is fucked.

Later in the evening, Ronnie comes by Twyla’s to debrief, and hands them a second obit, this one printed off the online Toronto Star.

“Sally White,” she says. “Died in Toronto, 2010. It seems like Agnes and Sally might have met in Toronto during the war, then moved back to Elmdale to be close to Agnes’s family. After what happened, they lost track of each other, but… Sally likely went home to Toronto, and Agnes ended up at U of T. It seems like they might have been in the city at the same time, but they never spoke again.”

“That’s so sad,” Alexis breathes.

“She came back to Elmdale to be with her family, but also because it was the last place she knew Sally to be. That’s why she’s never left.”

There’s a moment of silence, then Alexis says, “But… so what can we give her? You didn’t seem that stoked about my ‘meet her in heaven’ idea.”

“Closure,” Twyla says quietly.

“Also,” Ronnie says, “she wants to talk to you.”

Alexis frowns, confused—first because she’s not allowed to talk to the ghost, and then because the ghost can’t talk. Then she rolls her eyes. “Ha ha. Very funny.”

Ronnie grins. “I thought so.”

Apparently Alexis is the only one taking this seriously.

At the motel, they’re back to basics with Ronnie in the van and what feels like hundreds of candles. Twyla welcomes Agnes by name, then says, “Are you willing to communicate with us?”

Knock.

“You told us you’ve been here twenty-six years. Have you been waiting for something?”

Knock.

“Do you know what you’ve been waiting for?”

There’s a long silence before Twyla lets out a breath and tries again.

“Is it your wish to remain in this place?”

Knock. Knock.

“When you came here… were you trying to find Sally White?”

Knock.

“Is she what you’re waiting for?”

Silence.

“We can’t bring her to you, but we can tell you what happened to her. Do you wish to know?”

Knock.

She looks down at her notebook. “Sally White left Elmdale to return to Toronto in 1954. She worked cleaning houses before becoming the full-time caretaker for a halfway house for at-risk youth. At the age of 95, she passed away at her home surrounded by her adopted children. Um…” Twyla pauses. “She was loved. And she made a difference.”

The room goes silent. Twyla glances up to meet Alexis’s eyes, looks up over her head, then down again.

“That was eight years ago,” Twyla goes on. “You waited for her. You did your job. But this isn’t the place for you anymore.”

Silence, then the slightest breeze disturbs the candles.

“You can leave. You’re free to leave. You’re welcome to leave.”

Pause. A slightly stronger breeze.

“Agnes, you can choose to leave.”

Knock. Knock. Knock.

And with a whoosh, all the candles go out.

Alexis sits there in the dark, frozen. The gust of air definitely ruffled her hair and she thinks she should reach up and straighten it before the lights come on, but—yep, she’s frozen.

Static from the walkie. “You guys good?”

The lights switch on. Twyla has felt her way to the door, and now she moves quickly back across the room to grab the walkie. “We’re good,” she says, eyes on Alexis, who hasn’t moved. “Just tired. We’ll talk in the morning.”

She sets the walkie back on the desk, then walks back to Alexis slowly, like she’s approaching an injured animal. Crouching down beside her chair, she covers one of Alexis’s hands with her own.

“It’s okay,” she says gently. “It’s over.”

Alexis looks back at her but doesn’t say anything.

“They’re just people, you know. Just like you and me.”

“Mm,” Alexis says doubtfully. Like, maybe. But also, no.

“Wanna sleep?”

“There’s a bottle,” Alexis says, “in the wardrobe. I think I need a drink.”

In the morning, when Twyla’s insanely early alarm goes off, Alexis just goes back to sleep, and it feels like a small miracle. Of course, that also means that when she wakes up again later she’s alone, and that’s… well. She doesn’t know what to do with that.

She texts David, permission to come home , and takes the doorstop out from under the connecting door. Then she goes to the Café for lunch.

As a thank you, she insists on taking Twyla and Ronnie out for drinks at the bar outside of town next time Twyla has a day off coming up, which happens to be that Friday. She offers to both drive and buy so Ronnie decides it’s a fair trade.

They stop at the bar for their first round and then grab a table, and Alexis raises a toast, “To Ronnie and Twyla: Schitt’s Creek’s foremost ghost… um, ghosting… duo.” Ronnie and Twyla trade a look and Alexis adds, “The name is a work in progress.”

“We don’t need a name,” Twyla says, taking a drink, and this time Ronnie and Alexis trade a look. “Wait, why do we need a name?”

“Alexis has ideas, ” Ronnie says.

“I have, um… like, the potential for ideas, possibly, in the future.” Off Twyla’s bewildered look, she adds, “A business plan.”

Business, ” Twyla says. “This isn’t a business.”

“Okay, but even non-profits have expenses.”

Twyla considers that, then looks to Ronnie.

“She’s not wrong,” Ronnie says.

“Plus, you’re essentially working two jobs, you’re losing out on sleep, you—” Alexis pauses, taking a breath. “You need to look after yourself, too.”

Twyla stares at her for a second and Alexis looks down into her glass, swirling her drink around.

“Anyway,” Alexis says brightly, looking up with an only-slightly-forced smile, “we’d work on it together, but tonight we’re having fun, so let’s table it.”

Twyla shrugs, downing the rest of her drink, and Alexis jumps up to get another round. When she comes back, Twyla and Ronnie are talking about some customer at the cafe and Alexis just sits back, nursing her Shirley Temple.

A few drinks later, they get up to grab the pool table and Twyla steps in front of Alexis, making her pull up short, and stage-whispers/yells, “Are you okay?”

Alexis smiles, recoiling the tiniest bit from Twyla’s near-flammable breath. “I’m fine.”

“You’re being so quiet, are you mad? ‘Cause like, we can talk about it. We can still talk about it. Don’t be mad.”

Alexis honestly isn’t sure what she’s supposed to be mad about but Twyla is so cute drunk that she just smiles, shaking her head.

“We haven’t really talked since… I just wanna make sure you’re okay. And like, we’re okay. But mostly you’re okay.”

“We’ve talked literally every day,” Alexis says with a little laugh. She takes half a step back and Twyla takes half a step forward, putting a hand on her arm. “I’m not haunted anymore, so… I’m great.”

“We haven’t really talked,” Twyla says again. She huffs out a breath and Alexis squeezes her eyes shut, trying not to inhale. “I don’t, um—” She sniffs and Alexis opens her eyes, horrified to realize Twyla looks like she’s about to cry. “I don’t want to, um—”

Alexis looks past Twyla to where Ronnie is waiting for them by the pool table. She gives Ronnie a panicked look, mouthing her name, and Ronnie just shrugs. “Okay, sweetie, um… we can talk tomorrow if you want, or whenever. Just please don’t cry.”

“I’m not crying,” Twyla says, but when she blinks her damp eyelashes leave spider-legs of mascara on her cheeks.

“Okay, hon. I mean, that’s good,” Alexis says, reaching out to rub her arm. “Did you wanna play pool?”

“Sure, that sounds fun,” Twyla says, like it’s the first she’s heard of it. She starts to turn, then stops short and turns back so Alexis almost runs into her again. “You’re driving me home,” Twyla says. It’s not a question, but Alexis nods. “So you can stay.”

“Huh?”

“You’ll stay over,” Twyla says, and again, it’s not a question.

Alexis looks past her again, but Ronnie has given up the pool table and it takes a second to find her leaning up against a wall, eyes on her phone. No matter how intensely Alexis stares, she doesn’t look up, so with no hope of a rescue Alexis finally says, “Sure.”

When Alexis stops outside Ronnie’s house on the way home, Ronnie says, “Alexis,” and tilts her head toward the house.

“What?”

She tilts her head again in the exact same way.

“What?!”

“Walk me to the door,” Ronnie says dryly.

Alexis checks on Twyla half-asleep in the backseat, then checks again before locking the doors and following Ronnie up to her stoop. Keys in hand, Ronnie jingles them and looks at Alexis.

“You need to talk to her,” Ronnie says, and Alexis turns to look at the car.

“She needs to sober up first,” Alexis says, then looks back at Ronnie, “but. I know.”

“Do you know? Because it kind of seems like you haven’t had a proper conversation since we finished the job.”

Instead of responding to that, Alexis says, “Got any advice?”

“Yeah. Don’t fuck it up.”

Alexis gives a mock salute and starts to walk away.

“Be good!” Ronnie calls after her, and Alexis holds up a middle finger over her shoulder.

At Twyla’s, Alexis helps her inside, helps her off with her boots, helps her brush her teeth (aka makes sure she doesn’t fall asleep in the sink), and tucks her into bed. She goes and repeats the process for herself, then crawls into bed beside her.

Twyla snuggles up to her and says, “You’re so nice. Also you smell nice. Also you’re beautiful.”

“I appreciate the compliments, but are you going somewhere with this?”

“I’m just telling you. Just so you know.”

“Okay,” Alexis sighs. “Thank you.”

Twyla crashes out soon enough, but Alexis is left staring up at the ceiling she can’t see in the dark.

Even so, Alexis wakes up way earlier and decides to make Twyla breakfast in bed. Which seems like a great idea until she gets to the kitchen and tries to figure out what breakfast foods she knows how to cook. She puts the kettle on for tea, finds the bread and the toaster, and manages to locate jam, peanut butter, and knives. It will do.

When she walks back into the bedroom, Twyla is just finishing waking up, so Alexis places the tray on her lap and rounds the bed to climb up beside her.

“You made this for me?” Twyla asks, like maybe Greta’s replacement made it.

“I missed you,” Alexis blurts out. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to say that.”

Twyla gives her a strange look, but they seem to come to a mutual unspoken understanding to eat and caffeinate first.

After Alexis takes the dirty dishes to the kitchen and comes back into the room, Twyla is sitting on the edge of the bed and she pats the space beside her.

“Can we talk?” she says, and Alexis just nods. “I wanted to thank you for trusting us, and letting us take control. I know that—I know none of this has been easy for you."

“I trusted you,” Alexis says. “I wouldn’t have done this with anyone else."

“Okay,” Twyla says, looking down at her hands in her lap. “Well, thank you.”

Alexis reaches out, touching Twyla’s arm and trailing her fingers down to her hand, picking it up and bringing it to her lips, pressing a kiss to the knuckles, and Twyla goes absolutely, perfectly still.

“Why do you do that?” Alexis asks softly.

“Do what?”

“Freeze like that.”

“Can you—” She shakes her hand. “Just let go.”

Alexis pulls her hands back like she’s been burned, almost jumps across the room.

“I can’t think when you’re doing that,” Twyla says, and swallows. “I don’t know if you know what you’re doing, or if you’re doing it on purpose.”

“Tell me what I’m doing, and I’ll tell you if I’m doing it on purpose.”

“Are we friends?”

“Of course we’re friends,” Alexis says. “How can you even—”

“I mean, are we anything other than friends?”

“I hope so.”

“No, that’s not—” Twyla lets out a frustrated breath. “You’re not understanding me.”

“Can I kiss you?”

Twyla freezes, eyes wide.

“Is that what you mean?” Alexis asks rhetorically, and then again, “Can I kiss you?”

“Okay.”

Alexis shifts over the small space between them on the bed, reaching one hand up to gently cup the side of Twyla’s face. She stares at her like that for a second, Twyla’s freckles and her nose and the colour of her irises, before closing her eyes and kissing her.

When she pulls back, Alexis whispers, “I’ve been dying to do that.”

“What?” Twyla says

“What?” Alexis says back.

“Since when?”

“I don’t know,” Alexis says, eyes on Twyla’s lips. She kisses her again, soft and slow. “Ask Ronnie. Or my dad. They’d know.”

“They’d know?

“The whole town knows. Apparently my flirting is all the way at the very end of the ‘less subtle’ side of the scale. But, um…” She sighs. “Never caused me problems before.”

"So I guess you know for next time," Twyla says numbly. "Gotta use words."

Speaking of words, Alexis is done talking. She wraps one arm around Twyla's waist, the other still touching her face, and kisses her with all she's got.

 

The end.