The next morning Franky awoke to find the bed empty. She didn't remember even falling asleep. She wondered if Bridget had gotten any rest, or if she was already gone because she got tired of laying there awake. The brunette got out of bed and made her way out of the room. She saw that Emily's door was open already, and she could hear her and Bridget quietly talking in the kitchen.
"Hey, baby," Bridget said, looking up from where she was sitting at the kitchen table. "Want some breakfast?"
"I'm not really feeling it this morning, Gidge. I think I'll just grab something at work if I'm hungry later." Franky had one thing on her mind today, and it wasn't breakfast. She wanted the day to get moving so she knew what was going to happen with Tim and Emily.
The blonde got up and walked over to her, putting an arm around her waist. "Skipping breakfast won't help anything." She raised her eyebrow.
Franky knew she was right. "Okay, I just want cereal though."
"That's fine." Bridget smiled. "Then come sit with us, okay?"
Franky nodded, and went to get a bowl and the box of cereal out of the cabinet. "How did you sleep?" She asked Emily as she sat down at the table.
"Good." The girl went on eating her breakfast. "Am I going back to Dad's tonight?"
"I'm going to go talk to your dad this morning while you're at school. After that we'll know, okay?" Bridget wanted to tell her that no, she was coming back here, but she wouldn't do that until she'd talked to Tim. "You'll go meet Franky after school though like usual."
Emily finished eating and went back to her room to get dressed.
"How about you? How did you sleep?" Bridget asked the brunette.
"I didn't think I would sleep at all but I must have at some point."
"You fell asleep fairly quickly I think. I felt your hand stop moving not long after we were done talking." The blonde sipped her coffee.
"Did you sleep?" Franky asked looking up from her cereal.
"Not really. This is my third cup," she said, picking up her mug from the table to have another drink. "I'll take Em to school, then go right to Tim's. Depending on how that goes, I'll head to work. I've already talked to Vera, so everything is cleared there. I'll let you know what's going on as soon as I know."
Franky nodded as she got up to put her bowl and spoon in the dishwasher. "Did you pack lunches yet?"
"Not yet, I was just about to start." Bridget added her mug to the dishes.
"I got it. You go and get ready for work." Franky gave her a quick kiss.
Franky had their lunches ready by the time they had both gotten dressed. She gave Bridget a kiss on the cheek as she handed hers to her, then gave Emily hers. Bridget started to walk to the car, but the girl didn't follow. Instead, she reached her arms up to Franky, and waited for a goodbye hug before she'd leave.
When they arrived at the school, Bridget walked Emily from the car to the entrance. "I'll see you tonight." She gave her a hug, and turned to leave again.
"Good morning, Bridget" A cheery voice called from a few feet ahead of her on the walkway.
"Hello, Cynthia." The blonde hadn't forgotten how this woman had treated Franky.
"No Franky today?" The woman asked, looking around.
"She's at home." Bridget kept walking. She didn't have the time or patience to deal with her today.
As she drove to her brother's house, she thought about what would be the best way to start the conversation. She hoped he had stopped drinking after Franky left last night, so that he would be completely sobered up by now. There was still a small part of her, deep down, that wanted to believe that the brunette had misinterpreted what she had seen. Bridget knew though about the past she had with her mother, and that clearly something had been triggered inside her.
When she pulled into Tim's drive, she could see a light on in the kitchen. She could do this, she'd done it before. She took a deep breath as she approached the door. The blonde raised her hand to knock, then decided to just go in. She found him sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of coffee.
"Want one?" he asked her, raising his mug.
"No thanks, I already had three this morning." She pulled out a chair, and sat down with him.
"How's Em?" he asked, not taking his eyes off the table.
"She's alright. I dropped her off at school on my way here." Bridget decided she'd give him a few minutes of small talk before she got to the point of her visit.
"And Franky?" He finally looked up, meeting her eyes.
"To be honest she's probably more upset than Em." The blonde leaned back in the chair, and crossed her legs. "What happened yesterday, Tim?"
"Bridge," he began, diverting his eyes back towards the floor. "I don't even know." She waited for him to continue. "There's just been so much lately. Everything just...after I lost Sarah, I just didn't know what to do anymore. Em wasn't herself, and I didn't know how to make her feel better. I know she misses her mother just like I do, probably more, and every time I look at her, I see Sarah. She looks more and more like her every day. Then all this stuff with work started. This project is way more than what they had first proposed. I thought the move here would be good for both of us. You know, a bit of a fresh start, and we'd be close to you. She loves you, Bridge. And Franky, too. I just don't know what to do." He covered his eyes with one hand, and started to sob.
Bridget reached out, taking the hand that was still around his coffee mug. "It's alright."
He shook his head. "I convinced myself I could control it this time. I'd just have one drink after work to unwind. That's what I told myself I could handle. Then one day, I thought I could have two, because it had been a really stressful day. Some nights now I lose count. I always make sure Em is in bed though."
"It's still affecting her." Bridget said quietly. Tim lowered his hand and looked at his sister. "You've forgotten to pack lunches for her. She's always hungry when she gets to my house, or Franky's class. I didn't think much of it before, but now I know why. She didn't want me to have a glass of wine one night when she was at my house. So she has at least some idea of what's going on. She's a smart girl."
"I didn't realize." He wiped his face.
"Tim," the blonde waited until he made eye contact with her. "You need to get help. Em needs you." He nodded. "And while you're doing that, I think it's best that she stays with us."
"Franky moved in with me a couple of weeks ago." Bridget smiled despite the current situation.
"Oh, hey, I didn't know, that's great though! I'm happy for you guys, really. And yeah, I think that would be really good. She loves staying with you guys, but just until I’m back on my feet. I want to be a good father for her." Bridget thought she could literally see the relief on his face.
"Of course. So I think today we should get you into an outpatient rehab. Then later on this evening, I'll bring Em over to get whatever things she wants to have while she’s staying with us. Or I can not bring her if you'd prefer?" Bridget wasn't sure if Tim was ready to talk to Emily yet. Either way she knew her and Franky would be having a talk with her niece later.
"You can bring her tonight to get her stuff, but I think I'd like to be out while you're here. I'll come drop by your place and have a talk with her, just not tonight. I'm not ready. I'd like to talk to Franky too. I think I made a bad impression on her." He got up and refilled his coffee.
"Em is going to want to know what's going on. Are you okay with me explaining things?" Bridget was more than willing to do it. She just needed to know that he was okay with her saying what needed to be said.
"Yeah. You'll do it better than I would. I've messed up enough with her already."
"It's nothing you can't fix. Do you want me to stay with you today and help you find a place to get some help?" Bridget asked.
"I think this is something I need to deal with on my own. You taking care of Em is plenty." He reached out and took her hand.
"Okay, I'm going to go to work then, and I'll let Em go with Franky after school like normal. The class tonight is over at five thirty, so we'll come by after that, okay?" She waited until he acknowledged her question with a nod. "If you need anything at all, call me." She gave him a hug and left for work.
She knew Franky would be anxious to know what was going on, so she decided to give her a quick call while she was driving to the prison. The brunette answered on the first ring.
“Gidge? What did he say?” Franky got straight to the point.
“He’s going to check into an outpatient rehab, and he’s agreed to let us look after Em until he’s back on his feet.” Bridget could hear the brunette let out the breath she was holding. “He said to bring her over tonight to get whatever she needs, but he’s not ready to talk to her. He wants to get some help first. So we have a long evening ahead. I’m just on my way to work now.”
“I was so scared he was just going to say he could handle this and want her back there. I want to come with you when you take her over there. I don’t care how late it is or anything.” Franky was committed, and she didn’t want Bridget or Emily to feel like they had to do this alone.
“I think I’ll meet up with you guys when your class is done and then we can all go over there. That way once we’re back at our house we can just settle in for the evening. I think she’s going to have some questions about everything.” The brunette was quiet on the other end of the line. “You alright, baby?”
“Yeah, yeah I’m good. I guess I’m just thinking about everything.” She had a million things running through her mind. “My class is about to start, but I’ll check in later, okay?”
“Sounds good. I love you.” Bridget knew the situation was messy, but she was glad Franky was there to help her.
“I love you too, babe.” The brunette said, hanging up the phone.
Franky just wanted her classes for the day to be over. She wanted to be home with Bridget and Emily, and know that they had gotten some things figured out today. The morning and early afternoon were the worst, and seemed to drag on forever. She only had a couple classes most mornings, and used the rest of that time to do prep work and things like inventory and ordering supplies. The majority of her classes were in the afternoon or early evening when everyone else was done work for the day. She and Liz were currently trying to come up with ideas for new classes to offer over the summer. It was her favourite semester to teach because the fact that kids were on school holidays, and most people had some time off work, meant that she could provide some class options that weren’t possible other times of the year.
She felt her mood lift when Emily showed up after school, and began to help her with the set-up for her final class of the day. After that, they’d meet Bridget, and pick up some things from Tim’s place.
“Am I staying with you and Auntie Bridge again tonight?” The young girl asked as her and Franky worked to get the food ready for the next class’s demo.
“Yeah, you are. Is that alright?” The brunette knew that, in reality, Emily didn’t have a choice right now, but she didn’t want to make her feel that way. The young girl nodded. “After this class, we’re going to meet Auntie at your house, so you can get some more clothes. All that was at her house were the ones you’re wearing today.”
“Can I get my teddy bear too? And my doll?” She asked, slicing a carrot.
“Sure, you can bring whatever you want.” Franky had a feeling the girl would be wanting to bring a lot of things with her as comfort once she found out she’d be staying with them for awhile.
After her last class for the day was over, the brunette texted Bridget so she could meet her and Emily at Tim’s house. When they arrived, the blonde’s car was already in the drive.
“Hey, love,” Bridget greeted Emily with a hug. “Hey, baby,” she stood up, giving Franky a short kiss.
“What’re you laughing at?” Franky asked with mock seriousness. The young girl shook her head. “Get in there.” The brunette playfully nudged the girl’s shoulder, laughing.
Once they were all in Emily’s room, Bridget sat on the bed, and motioned for the girl to come sit beside her. “ So Franky told you we were coming to get some more clothes for you, yeah?” Emily nodded. “I talked to your Dad this morning, and he asked if you could come stay with us again for a bit. Like you did when he was away for work.”
“Is he going away again?” She asked quietly.
Something about the way the girl asked the question got to Franky, and she could feel a tightness in her throat. She shifted her weight from where she had been leaning against the doorframe and cleared her throat, making Bridget look over at her. She shook her head and held up a hand, indicating to the blonde not to draw attention to her.
“No, he’ll be here, but he thinks it’ll be better if you’re with us, just for awhile.” Bridget didn’t want to get into the whole story just yet, but she wanted Emily to understand why she was going to pack so many clothes. “Would you like to help pick out some clothes to take with you?”
Emily just shrugged, so Franky walked over and sat beside her. “Would you rather pick out some fun stuff with Auntie to bring with you and I’ll look after the clothes part? You mentioned your teddy bear and doll earlier. Maybe bring some games for us to all play too?”
“Okay,” she hopped off the bed, and went over to the shelves that held her toys.
Franky grabbed a suitcase from the closet and set it on the bed. She wasn’t sure if Emily had favourite outfits or anything like that, so she just grabbed a variety of clothes and packed them neatly into the bag. They could always come back and pick up anything she’d missed. A few minutes later, the girl returned to the bed with two board games, a couple books, and her doll. The teddy bear she wanted was already on the bed. Franky placed the items into the suitcase along with the clothes.
“All ready?” she asked, looking at Bridget and Emily. They both nodded, so the brunette picked up the suitcase and they all headed for the door.
When they got to their house, Bridget helped Emily unpack her clothes. She felt like doing that right away would help her get settled in instead of her living out of her suitcase and always wondering which place she would be sleeping at each night. Franky went to work in the kitchen. She wanted to get supper over with so that they could all sit down and talk. She wasn’t looking forward to it, but it had to be done.
Emily returned from unpacking in the bedroom. “You want to help me grate the cheese?” Franky had opted for something she knew was one of the girl’s favorites, and was also quick and easy; mac and cheese.
“Okay,” she stepped up on the stool and took the block of cheese from the brunette.
Normally they chatted while they cooked together. Tonight though, they were both quiet. Franky knew that while Emily loved staying with them, and loved to help her cook, she was smart enough to have realized that something big was going on with her Dad.
After they had finished eating, Bridget and Franky were cleaning up in the kitchen.
“You ready?” The blonde asked quietly, rubbing her hand across Franky’s shoulders. The brunette nodded. “Em? Come sit with us for a minute, love.” Bridget sat down on the couch, and waited for Emily to come sit with her. The brunette waited until the girl had chosen her spot before she sat down beside her.
“Are we going to talk about my Dad?” she asked, settling further into the couch between the two women.
“Yeah, he wanted you to know what was going on.” Bridget reached out and moved a strand of hair out of the young girl’s face. “Your Dad hasn’t been feeling well for the last while. You probably noticed he’s been acting a bit different sometimes?”
Emily nodded, “He drinks stuff then sleeps a lot and gets sad.” Her eyes flicked over to the bottles in the small wine rack on Bridget’s counter.
“He’s decided that he doesn’t want to do that anymore. He wants to get better, because he loves you. So he’s going to see a special kind of doctor that helps people with that kind of problem.” The blonde didn’t want to go into too many details.
“But he’s still going to be here?” She looked to Franky, then Bridget.
“Yeah he’s still going to be here,” Franky reassured her. “He’ll come visit you.”
“If he wants to get better, that means he’s sick?” Bridget could see tears starting in the young girl’s eyes.
“In a way, but he’s going to get help.” Bridget reached out and rubbed the small blonde’s back, trying to comfort her before she got too upset.
“That’s what happened with my mom, but she didn’t come back.”
“Fu-“ Franky caught herself before the whole word came out in front of the girl, and wiped a tear off her own cheek.
“Franky?” The young girl pulled on Franky’s sleeve.
“I’m okay, bub,” she said, taking a deep breath.
“Is my Dad going to be okay?”
Franky didn't know how to answer. She didn't want to promise her that everything would be okay. She knew that was an impossible thing to predict. She also didn't want to upset her any more, and make her think something bad was going to happen to her father, especially after what had happened with her mother.
"Um, he's got people who love him very much, and who will help him as best they can. And you’ve got us. Okay?" She looked to Bridget for confirmation that she’d said the right thing. The blonde gave her a small nod.
“We’re going to make sure he gets what he needs.” Bridget added.
Emily nodded, and climbed into the blonde’s lap, resting her head on Bridget’s shoulder.
They sat in silence for a while until the blonde realized that Emily had fallen asleep. She caught Franky’s eye and pointed to the child, then down the hall, signalling that she was going to put her in bed. Franky nodded and went back to the kitchen to finish cleaning up from earlier.
When Bridget returned, she was carrying a cardboard box from her office. She sat it on the counter and began putting the bottles of wine inside, along with the few bottles of beer that were in the fridge. Franky didn’t need to ask what she was doing. When she was finished, the blonde carried the box into the bedroom and placed it in the back of the closet.
Franky was wiping the counter down when she came back.
“You alright, baby?” she asked, wrapping her arms around the brunette’s waist. Franky gave a quick nod. “Hey,” Bridget waited until Franky looked at her. “It’s been a long day, let’s go to bed.”
“Okay,” Franky said quietly, giving her a small kiss.
As they laid in bed, Franky felt Bridget move in closer to her, and nuzzle her cheek with her nose. The brunette opened her eyes. “I know this is hard for you, baby, but you’re doing exactly the right things with her.”
“I don’t know what I’m doing, Gidge.” Franky sighed. “I just keep remembering how I felt as a kid.”
“Mmm, but you do know. Whether you know it or not, you do. What you went through is guiding your actions with her now.”
“I never really told you.” The brunette whispered quietly.
“No, you didn’t other than what you said to Vera in my office that day. Aside from that, you’ve been vague.” She looked into the brunette’s green eyes. “But if or when you’re ready, I’ll listen.”
“I haven’t seen my dad since I was about Em’s age. He couldn’t handle my mom so he left, and left me with her. I always wondered why he never took me with him. Every time I heard a car drive by in the night, I’d get out of bed and run to the window to see if it was him coming back. It never was. Mom said he didn’t want me. She’d get mad and hit me, or burn me when she caught me looking for him. So when Em asked if Tim was leaving again, fuck, I don’t know, it just brought back all those feelings I had watching out the window for my own dad to come home.” She closed her eyes. “I know it’s not the same situation for her, but…” She trailed off.
“It’s close enough though, yeah?” Bridget said softly.
“We’ll get her through it.” The blonde gave her a small kiss and ran her fingers back and forth across the back of Franky’s shoulders. She felt the brunette sigh and start to relax. It wasn’t long before her breathing evened out and Bridget knew she was asleep. She watched her for a moment. The thought of someone doing to the brunette the things her mother did, made Bridget angry. She was glad Franky had made it through all of that to become the person she is today, and that she was here in Bridget’s life now. She felt her eyes get heavy, so she moved closer, into the crook of the brunette’s neck and let sleep come over her.