Still half asleep, Bridget Westfall rolled over and reached across to the other side of her bed, like she was wont to do, unconsciously expecting to find it empty, as she had for the last few months. However, old habits die hard, and so she reached, to find the space empty, yes, but also slightly warm. It took a moment or two for that fact to register in her still sleep muddled mind, but when it did, her eyes shot open as the memories of the last few days flashed back to her.
Franky, who had fled from Wentworth, had left that place hidden in a makeshift coffin as she had predicted all those months ago, who had stood on the other side of an almost empty road in the middle of the night like a fever dream, promising Bridget that she would be back.
Franky, who had been shot by the police, who had called for her help, desperate, and who had nearly died.
Franky who actually had found the evidence that exonerated her, who had all charges against her dropped.
Franky, who was free to go wherever she wanted to.
Franky, who had come home with Bridget, bruised and beaten and exhausted, but free, smiling brilliantly, green eyes shining, while tears ran down her cheeks as the weight, the meaning of it all caught up with her.
Franky, who after a quick shower and an even quicker meal (“I am able to cook some pasta, baby, you just sit for now. Tomorrow the kitchen is all yours again.”) had fallen asleep in her arms, in their bed, in moments, cuddling close to Bridget even in her sleep, as if she would never let her go again.
Franky, who was conspicuously missing from her side.
Now that Bridget was wide awake, she noticed a few more things. The scent of coffee and warm bread, some soft music and… bird song? She got up and padded towards the kitchen area where she suspected the origin of both smells and sounds.
She stopped in the open hallway when she saw Franky, still in the shorts and shirt Bridget had help her put on last night, standing in the open patio door looking out at their small garden, cup of coffee by her side, fresh bread baking in the oven by the looks of it. Off to the side, the stereo played some slow old song.
It felt so good to observe her here, in their home, in her place, at peace. Bridget would happily stand there, the cold floor slowly freezing her feet, just watching, just realizing that Franky was really back. But after a minute or two she stepped up and wrapped her arms around the taller woman, smiling when Franky leaned into her without hesitation.
“Yeah. Just… just takin’ it all in, I s’ppose… I dreamt of this, while I was inside, ya know? It still feels a bit... surreal. Like I might wake up in that fuckin’ boxcar or my cell any second.”
“Mhmh.” Bridget held her, pressing her lips to Franky’s uninjured shoulder, just letting her talk.
“There were moments… not moments-moments, but long stretches of time… when I thought I would never get out of there again. I would never… see ya again. That I fucked it all up beyond repair.”
“I would always come back. I told you. We are in this together.”
“Yeah?” It was almost childlike, the manner in which Franky asked. It took Bridget back to the way she had held her hand surreptitiously in a hallway in Wentworth, innocently, consciously, like a kid, inmate and prison psych, a lifetime ago. Learning to trust, then, rebuilding trust, now.
She hugged Franky closer, taking her good hand in hers, “Yeah. No matter what, remember?”
They were silent for a minute. Bridget could sense her girlfriend working up her courage. “I’m… I’m so sorry, Gidge. For what I put you… us... through. For what I did… that day in my cell…” Franky trailed off, Bridget felt her stiffen in her arms.
“You were trying to push me away.” It wasn’t a question. They both knew it to be true. They both knew the reason for Franky’s behaviour. She had been trying to keep them both, to keep at the least Bridget, safe, the only way she knew how.
She nodded once. “I would never have… I couldn’t… I could never…”
Bridget interrupted her, squeezing her hand reassuringly. “I know, baby. I know. You still hurt me. But I understand. It’s okay.”
“It’s not. But I will make it up to you, I promise.” Franky turned around in Bridget’s embrace, lifting the one arm that wasn’t in a sling up to caress her cheek and pull her close, searching the older woman’s eyes before bringing their lips together in a soft kiss. “I love ya, Gidge.” She pressed her forehead to Bridget’s, just breathing.
“I love you too, baby. So much. It’s so good to have you back where you belong.” She smiled warmly at the taller woman, reaching up to kiss her again before taking her by the hand, tugging and leading them both inside to start their day. “So, you gonna tell me how you whipped up whatever’s baking in the oven with just one good hand? That smells fantastic.”