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Once You've Had a Taste of Perfection

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Alexis woke up in David and Patrick's guest bedroom just like she had every morning for the past month. After the initial loss of pride and embarrassment for running to Schitt's Creek, Alexis took a step back and realized that more people than just her were moving back home for the time being. It was kind of funny actually: so many families were cohabiting just as hers did, for unrelated, years ago. Truth be told, Alexis was having fun living with David and Patrick. Sure, she and David bickered back and forth occasionally, but as long as Patrick was around to mediate, it all ended well.

"Alexis," David would say. "Could you stop talking for like two minutes?"

Alexis would roll her eyes at her brother's demanding nature. "You know what David? Here I am making up for lost talking time, and you just tell me to stop."

They would exchange faces at each other until Patrick would call on them both to make up and act like adults. For someone who didn't grow up with siblings, Patrick was a pro.

Alexis's daily routine had changed a little bit since the temporary move away from New York. She had joined David and Patrick's morningly coffee date and loved staying in her pajamas while sipping her coffee alongside her brothers. She usually gets dressed after that--still nothing especially fancy, but since she isn't just staying inside her apartment anymore, she has moved on from exclusively wearing her sweats. Once she is dressed and ready for the day, Alexis does a little bit of remote work. Often, there isn't much to do because the vast majority of Interflix's projects are stunted until further notice. If work is especially light, Alexis would sometimes go help out at Rose Apothecary, but more often than not, she would walk around town. Luckily, Schitt's Creek was careful and remote enough to not have any bad coronavirus outbreaks. They wore masks when necessary, but for the most part, the tiny town was a "bubble," so if someone left town, and it was small enough where everyone would know, it was their responsibility to keep themselves and everyone healthy. Maybe it wouldn't work forever, but for now, life in Schitt's Creek was being gently modified. Alexis loved seeing this; she loved the camaraderie of people that was so arduous to find in NYC.

She no longer cried at night. In fact, she hadn't cried before going to bed since her last night in New York City. The harrowing silence of New York didn't follow her to Schitt's Creek, and she felt like she had found her haven. The saying was true: you don't know what you have until it's gone. Never could have Alexis imagined that she would willingly return to the place that was supposed to bring her misery. Never could she have imagined that the place that was supposed to bring her misery would be the one place that made her happy. It was a happy discovery though--she liked being in the place where she practically met her family.

Was everything in her life perfect? Definitely not. She wished she could be continuing her career and have it be booming like before. She still gets to be independent and everything, but walking through the communications capital of the world (in really nice shows) gave her a rush that couldn't compare to any other feeling. Sitting in her brother and brother-in-law's house to work felt slightly less glamorous. Someday, though, work would go back to normal, and when she was, like, super well known and respected in PR, these months would be the "learning experience" that Alexis writes about in her autobiography.

Alexis loved NYC. She felt almost at home there before this all happened and was really settling in. She had met a few friends through work and felt she had enough people surrounding her that she wasn't completely alone. New York, at its best, made her really happy. Walking around the city made her feel confident, and up until the pandemic, she could see herself not settling down and keeping her complete focus on her career. In the past few months, though, she realized that even though she knew she could be happy alone with her career, she didn't know if she wanted to.

Since coming to stay with David, Alexis had been talking to Moira and Johnny more which made her happier than she was willing to admit to anyone. Moira, afraid of all germs, was forcing herself and her husband to stay inside of their modest home at all times. Groceries were delivered, wigs were always on so that she didn't need to get a haircut, and their date nights were inside. Alexis looked forward to whenever her mom or dad called, and sometimes, she would call them too. She and David eventually admitted to each other how worried they were about their parents living in Los Angeles, but when they grilled them about it, Moira and Johnny reassured them that they were possibly the safest people in southern California.

"But Dad, you cannot go out in LA. There is literally no way you won't get it," Alexis would lecture with David nodding behind her. "No offense, but you guys are like old, and you will catch it."

Johnny would smirk, watching his kids' concerns, and Moira covered her eyes with her hand in partial annoyance and hidden gratitude.

"We aren't even leaving the house, honey," Johnny would tell Alexis.

"Alexis, I am flabbergasted that you two would assume that I would put myself in grave danger. Flabbergasted." The Rose kids would roll their eyes but continue chatting nonetheless. The exchanges made both of them happy.

More than anything, Alexis longed for love. Being in Schitt's Creek had been a joyful and safe experience this time around, and Alexis didn't need a man in her life to be successful or happy, but at 31, she was longing for someone to fall in love with. It's a feeling she has only felt once. When she went to the cafe, she couldn't stand where she first met him. She could NEVER sit at the booth where they broke up. Blueberry cheesecake was off the table. She took the long way back to David and Patrick's as to not pass the vet office.

Don't get her wrong: she knew they had done the right thing by breaking up over a year ago, and she was so proud of him, but it hurt sometimes--more than sometimes. She didn't think there was someone else out there. How could she move on with someone else when she had already experienced what she believes is the love of her life?

David knew Alexis's struggles with heartbreak well enough to know that it wasn't a subject to bring up often. Just yesterday, he walked with her the long way just to help expedite the process of trying to heal her heart.

"Where are we going?" Alexis had asked while they were going home after dinner. Normally, she would only try to skip passing the vet office when she was alone.

"Home," David had replied, leaving a small smile on his sister's face. What she lacked in being in love, she almost made up for in familial love. Almost.

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David walks into his house followed by Patrick after a day at Rose Apothecary. When he steps in the door, he sees Alexis sitting on the couch with her feet curled under her and watching TV. It's kind of what he sees most days when he gets home. Alexis looks up at her brother and brother-in-law.

"Hey," she said to them in her "Alexis" tone of voice, flashing them a smile that could be real but with some force behind it. She paused the TV.

"How was your day?" David asked as Patrick went to the kitchen to get dinner started. He had noticed that Alexis had been a little down but didn't know if it was just a normal pandemic mood or the other thing.

Alexis shrugged. "Not bad. I actually had like a little work to do, so that kept me busy for a while," she responded, placing her feet on the floor while David walked over and sat down next to her. "Then I went to the cafe and chatted with Twy a bit came back. Kind of just the usual."

David didn't really know what to do with this information. He was glad that his sister was getting out a bit, but compared to her life in New York, Alexis was becoming just a little bit...mundane. Sad even. It was a million times better than how she was when he picked her up in NY, but sometimes when David looked at her, her eyes looked dull as if the fiery spark in them normally had disappeared.

"How was work then?" He asked as a follow-up question.

Alexis chuckled wryly. "I had to write a press release for Interflix about how projects will be delayed even more until further notice." She used air quotes around "until further notice," but the sarcastic laugh wasn't fooling David: she was upset. He sighed.

"Alexis, I'm so--"

"Don't, David," Alexis interrupted. "I mean, it's nice of you, and I appreciate it, I do, but it can't help." Her tone was firm, but David could hear an ever-so-slight waver in her voice. He sighed again.

"No, Alexis, I am sorry this happened to you," David said more seriously than before. "You went to New York for your career, and now it's been all but ripped from underneath you."

"I'll go back to New York eventually when this is hopefully, like, all over, and work will pick up again. Interflix is practically obsessed with me, so it's not like I won't have a job or anything." Alexis sounded confident in her answer, but David was still hearing a waver in her voice. There was something in the back of her mind bothering her. A few moments later, Alexis sighed longingly and looked down. David could see her blinking away tiny tears, and she said: "It's just if I knew that this would be happening only like a year after being there, maybe I would have been better off--nope. No. Nope. Never mind. Not going there."

What, Alexis? Better off what?" David didn't understand: Alexis had been in New York for almost a year and a half before coming to Schitt's Creek, and no one was saying that it would take too, too long to get back there.

"Nothing," Alexis replied, shaking her head as if she was trying to shake the thought out. The tears are gone. "It's nothing. I was happy in New York while I was working, and I am happy here for now. No regrets." She forced another smile.

As soon as his sister said "regrets," David was clued into what she briefly thought she might be better off doing.

"Alexis, were you going to say that you might have been better off going to the--" David began timidly. He really didn't want to bring it up, but he needed Alexis to know that even though her career plans weren't going exactly like she thought they might, she still made the right decision to not spend 3 years in buggy islands where her boyfriend would be gone to watch little turtles for days at a time.

"Please don't say it, David. Please. It's stupid. I can't let my brain go there; I will go crazy." Alexis's eyes welled up again. David looked behind his shoulder for Patrick, but he wasn't in sight.

"You did the right thing. I promise. You couldn't have predicted that this would happen, and you still would have been there for at least another year and a half after this. Think about the gross bugs and weekends alone." David tentatively touched Alexis's shoulder. "Please don't regret going to New York. Remember, you grew out of your pot?"

Alexis giggled quietly, surprised that David had remembered her arbitrary metaphor that she had used while she was trying to decide her next steps. As the reality of her situation settled in, though, she looked back up at her brother. "It's just hard, you know?" She started. "The last thing I ever wanted to do was have to break up with him. No one even compares, David, and I feel like such a fake because what kind of independent boss bitch pines for her ex-boyfriend who she hasn't seen in who knows how long?"

"He wasn't just a boyfriend, Alexis, you know that," David affirmed to her. "You can be a boss bitch who is in love. You don't say his name though," David said, the phrase sounding more like a question.

"I don't like saying it. Ugh, how pathetic is that?" Alexis was sounding frustrated. "Deep down, I know I made the right choice. I looked up pictures, and where he is is definitely not the Bahamas. And it doesn't hurt like it used to. I just don't think I can fall in love with anyone else. Plus, I'm living in Schitt's Creek and hardly working. There is no direction."

David was so sad for his sister. He tried to imagine having to give Patrick up, and he didn't think he'd be strong enough to do it. Alexis doubting her independence killed him because somewhere inside of her, she was equating it with not being loved. It didn't have to be either/or. She was spiraling, something she rarely did.

"I promise, Alexis, I promise you did the right thing," he said again. Sometimes, repetition worked best for his sister. This whole situation sucks, but the what-ifs will hurt if you think about them."

"I love this place," Alexis confirmed. "But just as I wasn't thinking about him every hour, I come back here, and every memory comes up with everything I do."

David let out a breath. It had to get better.

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"Is Alexis okay?" Patrick asked his husband when they were in bed later that night. "I heard bits and pieces of you guys talking after we got home, and she sounded a little stressed.

"She was spiraling," David answered. "I'm supposed to be the Rose sibling who spirals."

Patrick laughed at the somewhat true statement. "Why is she spiraling, David?"

"To put it bluntly, her life kind of a mess," David said...bluntly. "It's not her fault. This pandemic has basically taken her job from her, and she feels like she should be living her 'independent boss bitch life' back in NYC." He put air quotes around the last part.

"That's been going on the past month though. That's been hard on her for a while. What was different today?" Patrick didn't know the subject he was getting into.

David sighed a little too loud. "It has somehow gotten in her head within the past few days that she might have been better going to the Galapagos with Ted."

"Fuck," Patrick said, breathing out. That was not what he was expecting to hear. He knew that his sister-in-law probably thought about Ted--back in New York because it was still kind of fresh, and now because she was back where she experienced the whole relationship--but having the weight of potential regret about not following him now that she couldn't be in New York had to be torture. "Do you think there's anything we can do about this one?"

David shook his head somberly. "I think she's gonna have to wait it out this time," he told his husband. "She felt better after a few months when they broke up. She'll just have to spend enough time here that she makes different associations with all of her 'Ted' things. It might have been better if someone had bought the clinic or at least the apartment."

Patrick looked at David with a face that was equally seriousness and sadness.

"I don't know if that can happen, David," he said. "If we had decided to break up a year ago, everything would still remind me of you."

He didn't want to admit it, but David knew that Patrick was right.

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A week later, Alexis was feeling a little better. She still had her "what if" thoughts but would push them out of her head when they intruded. David also hadn't mentioned it again which was helping. Alexis knew her brother was being nice, and she appreciated it and needed to get it all off her chest with someone she trusted, but it was not something she could handle talking about much. She was hoping that conversation would be a one-and-done.

Her days were still mundane, but not in a particularly bad way. She liked seeing the people she knew around town. That was the thing about a small town: she could see all the people she cared about randomly within a day. She'd see Twyla at the cafe, Jocelyn when she walked past the town hall and heard the angelic voices practicing inside, Ronnie when she walked back to David and Patrick's house, and people she barely knew but could recognize their faces.

On days that she was thinking about her parents more than usual, Alexis would walk over to the motel to visit Stevie. As they would talk, she would look around her former home and remember the bad-turned-best memories that filled the building. Some days that she was there, if they were empty, Stevie would let her sit in the two joining rooms that she once lived in. Stevie and Alexis didn't have too much in common, but Alexis knew that Stevie was a part of her family, and her being in business with her father brought her an unexpected deal of comfort.

A highlight of every few days was when she talked to her parents on the phone. The time or days of the week wasn't an exact science, so some days, like this day, they would call while David was at work. When Alexis's phone began to vibrate, she looked at the name was calling, saw "Dad," and smiled. Alexis accepted the call and put her phone up to her ear.

"Hi, Dad," she said, her face lighting up behind her phone.

"Hi, Honey! How are you?" Johnny asked warmly.

"I'm okay," Alexis responded. "Where's Mom?"

"She's just walking over right not," Johnny answered. "Hold on: I'm just going to put you on speakerphone."

Alexis laughed silently. She knew that there was a chance that her dad putting her on speakerphone could take longer than the average person. Her parents weren't the most technologically inclined people, but she was sure that, together, they could figure it out.

"Alexis," Alexis heard, the odd voice inflection speaking to her meaning it must be her mother. "Alexis, can you hear me? Alexis?"

"Yes, yes, I can hear you," Alexis says dryly, snarking lovingly at the cluelessness of her mother with regard to her iPhone.

"Marvelous!" Moira exclaimed. "Now yell your Mummy what you have been doing."

Alexis hated this question. She wasn't really doing much and whenever she gave her parents gave s rundown about what was happening in her life, they wouldn't say it out loud, but she could hear a worried tone in their voices.

"You know...kind of just the usual," Alexis began cautiously. "I work when there is work to do."

"Has there been more work lately?" Johnny asked, sounding hopeful that his daughter was keeping busy with her career. He knew Alexis hadn't usually been keen on staying still.

"Um, not exactly. I'm doing some freelance stuff like here and there, but Interflix is slow," Alexis didn't want her parents to worry about her. They weren't in the current safest city and didn't need anything extra to worry about. "I'm still making my salary and everything though."

"Your salary is the least of my concerns, Sweetheart," Johnny pointed out carefully.

"Well--" Moira began.

"No, Moira, her salary is the least of our concerns for Alexis." Johnny sounded borderline appalled that Alexis's money could be in Moira's thoughts. "We want to make sure you are happy." He didn't want to say anything, but Johnny might have been clued in by David that Alexis wasn't quite as happy as she was telling everyone. He wasn't exactly her sure why though.

Alexis grinned. She often thought about how different her familial relationship was now compared to just four or five years ago. "I'm happy enough, especially relative to everything happening right now," she clarified. "David and Patrick are lovely hosts. What about you, Dad?"

"I am happy speaking to you and David, Alexis," Johnny answered.

"Mom, are you?"

"Oh, I'm just absolutely elated, Alexis. Yes, here in Los Angeles where my work is prorogued and my Emmy will not at least come for another--" Moira exclaimed sardonically.

"She's fine, Alexis. Don't let her fool you," Johnny reassured. Alexis chucked when she heard Moira huff in the background.

"I love you guys. Call later when David is home. He'll wanna talk to you too," Alexis told her parents.

"Love you too, Honey."

With that, Alexis hung up, satisfied with her phone call. She couldn't quite explain why, but every time she talked over the phone with her mom and dad, she felt warm inside. It always made her feel better even if there wasn't necessarily anything wrong.

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Later that day, when David and Patrick got home from work, they, along with Alexis, decided to go to the cafe for dinner. No one felt like cooking, and they always liked to get there for dinner once or twice a week. It was a comforting spot in a crazy world. They had a nice dinner together and were able to distantly talk to their friends around them. Twyla was happy as ever to serve them, and it always reminded David, Patrick, and Alexis just how at-home they are in Schitt's Creek.

In the past few days, both David and Patrick had noticed that Alexis's mood had elevated a little bit. They were hopeful that maybe just getting her feelings off her chest made her feel better and realize that regardless of when she had to leave New York, she still would not have been happy in the Galapagos. David and Patrick had talked about the issue off and on, but as long as Alexis was feeling okay about where her life was, they would leave it alone.

After the trio was finished at the cafe, they began the stroll back to David and Patrick's house. The couple had a car, but on nice summer nights like the one that night, they preferred to take advantage of the weather and walk. The three of them were excellent conversationalists, so no matter how much time they spent together, they could always come up with something else.

Alexis yawned. David and Patrick looked at her, and she threw her hands up and said: "What? I might have stayed up, like, a little too late last night watching TV." David and Patrick each chuckled and gave her a loving eye roll. To them, this sounded like she was just about back to normal.

Alexis continued. "David, can we not take the long way tonight. I am going to fall asleep walking soon, and you do not want to have to carry me."

"Are you sure?" David asked. The last thing he needed was for Alexis to walk past the office and spiral again, but at the same time, the other last thing he needed was to have to carry his sister back to the house. "We don't mind taking five extra minutes if you don't--" David began as Patrick nodded along.

"Thank you, David, but I'm sure. It's totally fine."

David shrugged and continued walking with the two most important people in his life. It was nights like these he would remember. The collective simple ones that were comfortable and calming.

As they approached the vet office, Patrick talked to Alexis to try to distract her from her surroundings. Of all the places that held Alexis's memories, the office might have held the most, and Patrick knew from experience that you don't just get over these important people by reliving memories through associations. He also figured that although Alexis was having a better week, part of it was likely her putting on a brave face. David caught on to Patrick's strategy and helped him consistently come up with new topics to talk about with his sister.

David, Patrick, and Alexis were chatting away about hopeful plans to fly out to Los Angeles to visit the Rose parents when Alexis stopped in her tracks. Patrick looked in front of him, realizing they were stopped in front of the vet office and nudged David.

"Oh, my god," David mumbled under his breath.

Alexis blinked in shock, not believing what her eyes were showing her.

Stunned, she said: "The lights are on,"