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What We Have To Do To Survive

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Things between Franky and Bridget were tense to say the least. Conversations were superficial at best and nonexistent at worst. Although they had yet to talk about Bridget’s drinking again, she had stopped so that was one less thing to worry about. Franky wasn’t going to bring it up again if she didn’t have to. She was already walking on eggshells around her girlfriend and there was no reason to keep rocking the boat. 

That was a fundamental problem in their relationship. They fight, or Franky lies and then they make up without ever dealing with the real problem at hand.

Kaz had dealt with Allie. Had talked her out of a convoluted plan to hot shot the Freak because it was never going to work. Instead, Kaz wanted to turn the women against her and it seemed like Franky was their best option to do so. She had displayed only a few months ago that she was still able to sway the opinions of others with little effort. Franky still didn’t buy into Kaz’s anti violence bullshit, but if the women turned violent towards Ferguson, she wasn’t doing shit to stop it.

With one problem solved, another arises. Kaz had convinced Allie to go to Vera to lag on Mr. Stewart and the fact that he had acted as part of the drug supplier into the prison. They hadn’t expected Jake to threaten Tess Franky’s 4-year-old sister. As much as Franky missed her, she had made the deliberate choice to keep Tess away from the prison. The only people who had known she existed were Bridget and Vera because they had both met her before Franky was ever imprisoned again.

“Fuck” Franky swears loudly from the confines of her cell. She’s holding an envelope and a stack of pictures of her dad and Tess. There’s no message, but the threat is clear. Tell Vera and Tess would be in danger.

Bridget enters concerned. “What happened?”

Franky hands over the stack of pictures. “Its Mr. Stewart. Fuck, he must’ve figured out that Allie’s gonna lag to Vera so he’s threatening my fucking 4-year-old sister.” Franky’s mind is reeling and she accepts the hug that Bridget offers her. Angling her head down to rest on Bridget’s shoulder, face pressed into her neck. Her arms and her scent provide its usual calm.

“Vera and Jake are involved.” Bridget says dropping a vital tidbit of information that is necessary to provide the full scope of the situation. “They’re living together. Its serious she won’t believe it coming from Allie, but I could do it.” Bridget offers. Coming from Allie it might seem like information coming from a spiteful inmate. From Bridget it would seem like her best friend had learned something about her boyfriend and felt compelled to warn her.

“Nuh, I’m not doing anything that would put Tess at risk.” Franky says shaking her head. “She’s a little kid and I’ve fucked up her life enough.”

Knowing Tess had been amazing for Franky when she assumed that she would be able to be in her life permanently. A return to Wentworth seemed impossible and something she would have done anything to avoid. But now she can’t help but feel like she fucked up Tess’s life. Having a sister in jail for life for murder is bound to do that to a kid. They share a surname and this’ll haunt her. She should’ve never agreed to meet her. Should have let Tess and her dad go through pretending she didn’t exist because its better than her being there to fuck everything up.

Putting Tess in the middle of all this shit would be even worse for her. It was dangerous to let anyone know that you have people you care about in here. Its why she chose to push her father away when he had come to see her. Presumably in the months after Tess’s birth wanting a chance for his daughters to know each other. Jacs would have used them as a target just like she used Debbie and then had Brayden kill her when Bea became too much as a threat. She had to keep Tess safe, and her dad, and Bridget, and the rest of the girls in H1 and all the women who would suffer under Ferguson’s reign.

A passing thought flows into Franky’s mind. She spends so much time taking care of others. Has always spent her time in Wentworth taking care of others. Yet, there is no one there to fix her problems. To step in when she’s the one who needed support. Liz does her best to help with her emotional needs and Franky is grateful for that, but when she needed someone the most, even Liz had let her down. Her reign as Top Dog had been brief and messy. Franky had hated being in charge and ultimately cracked under the pressure and when the weight of her actions crashed down upon her, she had been left to pick up the pieces on her own. Bea had made sure that she was as isolated as possible. Only turning to her when Jodie was in trouble and Bea needed help handling the situation. She’s exhausted from all this. From carrying this load, this burden. From cleaning up everyone else’s problems when in reality she’s barely keeping her own head above water.

Maybe that’s why she had gravitated towards Bridget so much in the first place. She had done what she could to take on some of that emotional load. She had advocated for her. The only person in this place who thought she was actually worth something. That she had a chance to be something more than some destined to spend their life in and out of prison. No one, but Liz really, had seen that she was desperately screaming for help. That she needed someone who would listen to her, who believed in her, and was willing to give her the push that she needed. Maybe it was time to be open with her about all she’s been asked to do. Because all this pressure was bound to make her go fucking insane and she needed someone willing to help her through.

Franky was just so tired of being tired. Physical exhaustion was one thing, but emotional exhaustion was its own beast.

After a talk with Kaz that went absolutely nowhere, Franky was left conflicted. Yeah, if Jake is a dirty Screw then he needs to be pushed out. Miles helping them bringing in some minor contraband or getting some information on someone was one thing. She had her limits and wouldn’t do anything that would cause actual harm to anyone. But Jake’s also a Screw and a Screw who happens to be fucking the governor. It was hard enough to get an accusation against an offer taken seriously. The power imbalance was so strong it was practically impossible for the inmate to be believed. They had no proof and Tess wasn’t going to be the one caught in the cross hairs and it pissed her off that everyone seemed willing to put a fucking 4-year-old kid in danger.

Bridget catches Franky’s arm. Reaching to clasp Franky’s hand in her own. “I think you’re making the right decisions. I know Kaz and Allie are pissed at you, but I don’t like anything that will put Tess in danger.” Bridget was very fond of Tess. The couple had spent a lot of time with Tess and Alan. He was one of the few people who knew the truth behind Franky and Bridget’s relationship. “Its shitty of them to put you in that position.”

Franky wraps her arms around her pressing a kiss against her forehead. Her mind is screaming at her to tell Bridget what’s going on and why Kaz and Allie assumed she would help. That she’d been working with them for a plan to attack Ferguson take her down for good. That Vera had brought her into this whole fucking scheme. Admit that she’d spent weeks lying to her and making false promises about staying out of prison politics. But she doesn’t because things are slowly becoming good between her and Bridget again and she wants to enjoy this for a moment longer before shit hits the fan. The problem with telling a lie is that they can grow. One lie becomes two and then Franky is caught in a web in an attempt to keep up the narrative that she set herself.

Instead, she hugs her tighter. Pulling Bridget against her chest feeling the smaller woman’s head settle into her chest. “Thanks, Gidge.”

Bridget pulls away from her. “Why don’t you have your dad bring Tess in for a visit? I know you miss her and I’m sure she misses you.”

Franky shakes her head sadly, “I don’t want her to remember me in a prison uniform.” If she is to spend her life in prison, she wants Tess’s memories of her to be flannel shirts and time spent running around the park and playing on the swings. Not a teal tracksuit and being searched before an hour-long visit surrounded by guards and other inmate spending a brief time with their families.

“You’re getting out of here Franky.” Bridget says. Because she believes it and she needs Franky to believe it too. Franky ran on hope and Bridget worries about what might happen to her when that hope ran out. “And Tess will barely remember the time you missed.”

Bridget believed in her so strongly. Franky just wished she could believe it too.

The plan was set. Franky set Bridget off with Boomer and Liz using the excuse that she needed to talk to Kaz and Allie about what they’re planning to do about the Jake situation. Really, they’d already decided that Allie would back out and they’d let Bridget bring that information to Vera when the time seemed right.

Franky, Allie, Kaz, and several others went to confront Ferguson. Tying her hands together and leading her towards the yard without much of a fight. With a brief nod of her head, Kaz gave notice for Miles to be grabbed while Kaz yelled for the rest of the guards to clear the yard. In a matter of seconds, they’ve taken complete control of the yard.

Bridget is standing off to the side with Boomer confused as everyone else about what is going on. She sees Franky standing with Kaz by Ferguson as an alarm blares and calls for a lockdown. Franky is emotionless standing with her hands in her pocket as they tie Ferguson to the Basketball hoop.

Kaz begins yelling a preplanned speech as others attempt to remind her about the rules. Top Dog could only be decided by a fight and no one has a chance of beating Ferguson. Kaz calls for a vote and all Bridget can wonder is why they haven’t called in reinforcements yet. She knows Channing is here, unhappy about the state of the prison since Vera became governor. There had been rumblings about that since even before she resigned.

Then, Kaz yields the floor to Franky. For the first time, Bridget sees a relic of who Franky must have been when she was Top Dog. She’d only met Franky after her downfall, but she heard the stories. How at one-point Franky was a force to be reckoned with. Her tone is loud and authoritative as she lists off several instances of all the terrible shit that Ferguson had done. Dispelling any disputes to the claim that Bea’s death had anything to do with self-defense because eight stab wounds is not self-defense. She brings up Jodie, someone who Bridget knows weighs heavily on Franky’s conscious because she is someone that her and Bea had let down. And Simmo who had been the first clue to Ferguson’s manipulative and psychopathic behaviors.

She can see and hear by the murmuring of the crowd how the women are slowly coming around and its a sign towards the influence and power Franky still has. Why Kaz had seen her as a threat. If Franky wanted to, all she needed was a few minutes to sway everyone to her side and with her skills as a fighter, she could have beat Kaz had she wanted to.

Joan ends up sealing her own fate. The calm resolve broke under the pressure and she begins to tell the women what she thinks of them. Yelling about how they are defective and how they need her. Bridget know that Ferguson’s psych is fragile and it was bound to break at some point.

Like always, it appears that Kaz hadn’t completely thought this through. Getting a group of women who are prone to violence and the mob mentality all riled up. The crowd chorused a cry of guilty and then the jury became the executioners. Bridget sees a rope tied into a noose fly over the crowd and the women go crazy. Bridget looks over towards the gate where the guards are standing there, watching as Ferguson is being lynched. Franky has moved over separating herself from the crowd. Hands in her pockets face in a firm resolve she’s not helping, but doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about stopping what’s happening.

“Franky, you have to do something. You have to stop them.” Bridget says. She dislikes Ferguson as much as anyone here, but this is barbaric. No one deserves to be killed in a manner like this even someone like Joan.

Franky shakes her head and in a calm emotionless voice “Kaz wanted a trial and they made their choice.” She shrugs. “I’m not stepping in.”

She’s emotionless Franky had been witness to acts worse than this, heard about worse than this and in a way that she has become numb to it. Like it no longer phases her. That calm turns to anger when Vera interferes, convincing them to let Miles go and then using the shiv to release Ferguson from the noose. Vera had asked her to rid them of Ferguson and that’s what she was doing. If she was dead, they’d never have to worry about her again.

Bridget is horrified that Franky would just stand there and let this happen. Kaz had attempted to stop it. Trying to push her way through the crowd to get to Joan, and Franky had watched. It had seemed so cold, so uncaring. There were times that Bridget wondered if there was more to Franky than she knew. If just below the surface she is really the dangerous woman that everyone had warned her about.

Guards storm in and disperse the crowd directing everyone to head back to their unit while Vera radios asking for medical attention for Joan.

“You okay?” Franky asks Bridget. Sights like that could be terrifying to a newcomer. Their sitting in Franky’s sparse cell on her bed. Bridget had been unusually quiet since the incident on the yard and she was concerned.

“Yeah, lot to take in.” Bridget doesn’t want to fight with Franky again and so she decides that at this moment she isn’t prepared to talk about how disturbing she had found Franky’s behavior.

Franky stands moving towards her curtains on the window reaching to feel the bottom of it. Her controlled movements becoming frantic when she doesn’t find what she was expecting to be there.

“What’s wrong?” Bridget asks.

“My kite necklace is missing.” Franky says looking around the floor under the window. “Have you seen anyone in my cell? Someone must have stolen it.”

She thinks back to the letter that she had gotten weeks ago. The one showing her kite and what it means to her. Someone in this prison is fucking with her. Either they killed Pennisi or they know who did and Franky’s going to find them.