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Side by side, Will Jackson and Vera Bennett march down the halls to H5, under Channing’s command. He wants Ferguson’s cell emptied immediately, all contents placed into storage until further notice. “Let the dust taint them there,” he’d said with a wicked smirk as they walked out his office door. Vera wanted to slap that look right off his smug fucking face.

Turning into H block, they’re greeted by Boomer and Liz, on their way to the showers. Eyes wide, Boomer runs to them, stopping in front of the box in Mr. Jackson’s arms, impeding their progress. She raises her hands with a pleading look on her face, Liz stepping up behind her to try and coax her out of their way.

“Mr. Jackson, Ms. there any news about Sonia? Please...please, is she ok?”

Vera looks at her for a moment, finally releasing a heavy sigh, her resolve softened by the worry in Boomer’s voice. Suddenly, she recognizes they play the same role, the small right hand to the mastermind that lead them. She reaches out and runs a hand down Boomer’s arm, her humanity winning out once again.

“She’s stable, but she’s got a long road ahead.”

Jenkins reaches a hand up to her head, her brow furrowing deep as her eyes begin to glisten.

“But, but she’s alright, yeah? She’s gonna live?”

“It’s a bit early to say, but they’re hopeful she’ll make a full recovery.” Will interjects with a measured smile. Boomer stares a moment, then begins to cry, broad shoulders shaking as her face grows mottled with red.

Liz watches silently from behind her, her heart pounding loudly in her ears. Overdosing Sonia was a means of survival, but she isn’t cold-blooded enough to feel apathy for committing murder. While grateful she’s not earned the title...yet, she can’t shake the fear of what will happen when Sonia returns. Finally she steps up to Boomer, taking her gently by the arm. She looks to Will and Vera with an apologetic gaze as she begins to address the crying woman before them.

“Come on love, you’ll feel better after a shower, yea. Let them get back to work.” Boomer rubs roughly at the tears on her face, her gaze returning once again to Vera.

“Ms. Bennett, will you give me updates when you know? I just...I’m worried.”

“Sure, of course.” Vera offers with a kind smile and nod. Boomer nods in return, finally allowing Liz to lead her away.

“She’s lost without Stevens.” Will mutters sympathetically as they continue on their journey to H5.

Vera slows her step, her chest cripplingly tight as the words sink in; the statement a perfect echo for her own inner struggle. She remains silent as she fights to keep the tears from spilling down her cheeks.

A heavy silence descends between them as they step into Joan’s cell. After a long pause, Vera moves to the desk and begins to collect the books, placing them almost reverently in the box Will deposited onto the sink. He steps to the bed and begins to remove the sheets, folding them in silence as he works.

“How did this happen?” Vera finally speaks, sadness imbuing her voice with a slight tremor. Her back remains turned to him, eyes fixed on the wall before her.

“What?” He responds in confusion, looking in her direction.

“How did everything go so horribly wrong?”  She barely contains the tremble in her voice, closing her eyes tightly against the burn in her chest, a single tear creeping down her cheek.

He sighs heavily, dropping his gaze to his hands, shaking his head sadly.

“I don’t know.”