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Where I Was Always Meant To Be

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Chapter 1

No One Is Safe

 

“Well, I’m afraid to be the bearer of bad news.” Derek Channing announce, his tone seemingly sad but the glint in his eyes reflects a different vibe – a silent elation that contradicts his dull facade.

As the tall bald Executive Producer and Showrunner for the hit television prison drama series Inmates enters the writer’s room, Allie Novak could swear that the nasty grin that he is currently sporting in his smug face is directed at her. His eyes trailed along the blonde Story Editor’s body, his gaze slowing down on her chest and then seeking her blue eyes for a few seconds and letting out a soft sneer before finally sitting down at the head seat of the table.

There’s always something about his gaze that made Allie uneasy. His constant leering on the set would always feel so eerie, vomit-inducing creeps but today he seems even worse.

As everyone settled on their seat, waiting eagerly for the reason why this emergency meeting was called for in the first place, Derek cleared his throat, making sure that he had the attention of everyone in the room, and then he continued.

“Last night, our beautiful Director Erica Davidson has tendered her resignation, effective immediately.” He paused dramatically to look into everyone’s eyes waiting for the news to sink in. A loud audible gasp was heard, and suddenly Derek was bombarded with questions.

Allie looked across the room to where Franky Doyle was standing at. The usual sly grin on the flirty brunette Director of Photography’s face has been replaced by a pained look, her body’s rigid and she’s clenching her fist so hard, Allie thought that her hands would bleed by the intensity alone. Her eyes shooting daggers towards Derek.

“Calm down everyone, I know you have a lot of questions right now and everything will be answered in due course. As for the moment, I am not at liberty to tell you the details of her sudden departure except that it was personal to Erica. The network will issue a statement and it’s going to be a PR nightmare but let ‘em handle that.” He continued.

“Also, our Head Writer Mel Barrett has informed me that she has a family emergency and has handed in her two weeks’ notice earlier today. And one of our actress, Ksenia Kotsonis, has not renewed her contract with the network, or so I was informed and will not be able to finish this season with us”. Derek continued, shaking his head in dismay.

Another wave of hush whispers, eye rolls and confused glares loomed over the writer’s room.

“There is a silver lining to all this”, he said calmly.

“The director from Studio 10 has agreed to take us on. I think some of you might know her already – she does have a certain infamy to her name but I think she will just fit right in perfectly.” He continued, his head turned towards the direction of the door.

“And here she comes now, right on cue” and at that moment Channing slowly rose from his seat to usher the newly arrived director.

Everyone’s heads turned towards the door and for a few moments all they could hear are the staccato clicks of high heels on the marble floor. Seconds later, a tall woman with her dark mane cascading over her shoulders walked in. She’s sporting a sinister smile – a smile that conveys something in the tune of “trust me while I screw you over” – yes, that kind of smile.

A deafening silence fell upon the writer’s room. Everyone and their mother know who Joan Ferguson is. Her unconventional directorial techniques and unorthodox handling of production teams earned her notoriety in the television industry, and right now they are dreading for that same methodology to corrupt the production of their show.

Joan gave Derek a small nod and walked towards the vacant chair next to his. Her eyes scanned the room swiftly before settling herself down on the chair.

Allie looked on at the scene unraveling before her very eyes. She’d heard about this notorious director and if even half of these rumors were true, they might be heading for a very rough season. She watched Joan closely – her movements seem calculated, her actions with purpose. Her face was emotionless but, for a split second, was that a certain light in her eyes? She silently mused. Instinctively, she veered her eyes towards the direction of Joan’s gaze, resting either on Doreen or Vera. Interesting, she thought. The booming voice of Derek quickly interrupted her train of thought.

“Everyone, our new director, well she doesn’t need any introduction as we all know who she is, Joan Ferguson. Please, let’s give her a warm welcome” he announced to the entire team.

Everyone in the room gave Joan a round of applause except for Franky who’s still sporting an unreadable expression, her arms securely folded across her chest. When the applause dwindled down, Joan addressed them.

"Thank you Derek and to everyone for your kind welcome. Erica and I have very different… tastes and I will see to it that the remaining episodes for this season will reflect that.” she said with an icy tone. Joan sat down and gave another small nod to Derek.

“Another news is that Joan and I had a tone meeting earlier today and decided that there will be some new script and character arc changes for the last four episodes of our current season 2 which will spill over to season 3” Derek flashed Allie a sly grin.

"What changes would that be?” Will Jackson shot up. The tall muscular Continuity Supervisor raised the question that seems to be on everyone’s mind.

“Our top dog, our hero, our big bad protagonist Becca Smith will be killed off by the end of Season 2.” He said almost nonchalantly. “And that girlfriend of hers Ellen Jenkins should be given a new love interest in Season 3”. He said with a laugh, his eyes directly focusing on Allie.

Allie was dumbfounded. As soon as she heard the words “killed off”, her mind went completely blank. Not Becca, not her baby. She silently pleaded in her mind. Of all the characters that she had created and developed throughout the series, she has a special connection with Becca Smith and her fictional daughter Annie Smith, and significant other Ellen Jenkins. All three have real life inspiration to her that the sudden change in their story arcs even before they could have had their development left her in shock.

“What the hell?” Franky’s frustrated tone echoed into the now quiet room. “These characters have just created a pivotal traction in our series and killing them off like that sounds a bit rushed. Are you trying to piss our viewers off? Franky snarled towards Derek.

She knows how much these characters meant not only to Allie as the creator but also to the other staff writers and producers who have helped develop their story arcs and have made the conscious effort to make these characters relatable and inspirational to their viewers.

“The fandoms gonna riot, Derek” Will chimed in, matter-of-factly.

“Let them! The more noise this season makes, the more we get publicity for it.” Derek said smugly.

“This is not going to work. We are going to be pissing off a lot of our viewers that we have worked our ass off to gain. We are already getting the highest viewership ratings for that time slot. Our show and our actors have been nominated and won in various award-giving bodies, then why are we voluntarily digging our own grave, so to speak?” Vera Bennett voiced out, shifting restlessly in her chair. As the shows Co-Executive Producer, the petite brunette, with larger than life presence, has actual knowledge of the numbers that the show has been generating for the network in nearly two seasons of its run. She is thus baffled by the sudden reckless decision to deviate the show from their original plot when they have gained great momentum as of this time.

"We are folding on a winning hand, boss. We have a royal flush but then we fold, it doesn’t make sense” Linda Miles interjected, the blonde staff writer not one to miss a gambling reference.

“We CAN make this work” Joan’s voice echoed in the room, earning a look of approval from the Showrunner.

“Let’s make Becca a tragic hero – let her die for the women, for Ellen. We spin it like that then the audience gets their hero and we get our shock factor. Everyone wins” Joan offers, still with that insidious smile.

“Not Becca. Nor Ellen. Doesn’t sound anything even remotely resembling a win.” Allie blurted out hastily. Her eyes in deep thought.

“But Ellen will be given a new love story arc, Derek mentioned earlier so I don’t know what part of that is losing? Doreen Anderson – the curvy tan-skinned staff writer replied to Allie looking at everyone for their approval.

“Are you kidding me? Jesus!” Allie hissed through gritted teeth.

Allie is livid. Did she just hear what Doreen said about Ellen winning at something?

“Assuming we go down this path, Ellen just lost the love of her life. After we have given her and Becca the mother of all love story arcs – the Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed lovers plot arc, how then can we make Ellen fall in love with anyone else? It would be too soon for her, she hasn’t even properly grieved yet. Shouldn’t a better story arc for her then is to grieve and to rise above her own pain, be the person that Becca would be proud of when she leaves the prison? Or better yet, how about this? We let Becca live, she damn right earned her goddamned keep!” Allie is fuming, these are her babies, her characters being targeted and to have them be developed in such a horrible way did not sit well with her.

"They have just found each other, Derek. Becca just found her reason for being – her raison d’etre, and then she dies? That’s fucked!”a tall, dark haired Producer voiced out. Allie mouthing a silent thank you her way.

“That’s precisely it. It’s unexpected. No one in their right minds would kill off their main protagonist. And that is our mark in television history. In Inmates, no one is safe.” Derek bellows from across the room. A response that he had rehearsed quite a few times, hours before this meeting.

“It’s great for shock factor, I’d give you that ey. I’m not sure that our viewers will like it though and with Mercury in retrograde on a ghost month, might not be wise to take such a big risk” the tall raven haired staff writer named Boomer added.

At that moment, everyone at the table looked towards the direction where Boomer was sitting at, with bemused looks, even Derek gave her a comical eyebrow raise.

“What?” Boomer asked loudly looking at everyone’s confused stares, “Oi! There’s wisdom in the stars, you wankers, google that shit up ey” she continued casually.

The slight lightening in the atmosphere that Boomer’s musing provided was abruptly interrupted by Vera’s soft melodic voice.

“Not to mention, the kind of message that we are sending to the world if we do kill Becca off” Vera said in a low voice, her eyes in deep thought and barely whispering her words but everyone still managed to hear her.

"It’s just a show for fuck sake, stop trying to get emotional about it.” The slim dark haired writer with a messy bob interjected. Her voice dripping with disgust.

“It’s hard not to, Tina!” Allie bit back. “We might have created these characters but we do not have sole ownership over them anymore from the very moment that we offered them to our viewing public. We gave them larger than life personas, we made them relatable. We went the extra mile to have these characters connect with our own experiences and that of our viewers. And then with a snap of a finger, we take it away from them, from us. It’s not right. It’s just not right.” Allie continued her voice almost cracking, trying to keep the tears at bay.

“What message are you talking about Vera?” Joan asked with a smug grin, her entire body shifting slightly to the left to look at Vera directly.

"She’s talking about the impact of the show, the bigger picture so to speak.” Franky replied flatly.

“Which is what exactly?” Lucy Gambaro, the Casting Director with a short blonde hair who prefers to be called Juice, pokes at Franky.

“Let me put it this way, Juice” Franky bit back and started writing at the dry erase board. She drew a circle and wrote “Becca Smith” inside.

“First, Becca has been suffering from domestic abuse, her act of courage landed her inside on remand.” She wrote “1. Domestic abuse” under the circle that she drew.

“Second, then her daughter died after being targeted by the drug lord top dog” she again wrote “2. Annie’s death”.

“Third, after finding out why Annie died, she exacted revenge – that brilliant plan within a plan writing masterpiece, thank you very much Allie for that.” She gave Allie a small nod and proceeded to write again on the board, she wrote “3. Becca’s Revenge”

“Fourth, she was then pitted against other prisoners by the governor to be Top Dog” she wrote “4. Top Dog”

“Fifth, and then there were the riots, the fire, the endless attempt to kill her”she wrote “5. Attacks”

"After all that– the deaths, the depression, the slow decline – she found a life line, her reason for being as we kindly put it” she wrote “6. Raison d’etre”

Franky drew a big circle covering the 6 items that she wrote down and put a big “X” mark over it.

“If we kill her off, all these will amount to nothing. The system failed her, it defeated her. It sends a deadly message that there’s no hope – at the end of the day, we are all fucked.” Franky put down the marker and took a seat beside Allie.

“Becca Smith deserves better.” Franky whispers to Allie in a defeated voice. She was so engrossed with her mini-outburst that she hardly noticed her mobile phone vibrating in her pocket for some time now, sending the call straight to voicemail after a few attempts.

Another uncomfortable silence fell in the writer’s room. Everyone seemed to be contemplating on Franky’s ruminations. Derek was in deep thought as well, it rattled him briefly. “This is going to be a bit harder than what I expected it to be” he silently mused. Taking a different approach, he stood up and went to the board and drew a vertical line, dividing the board in two sides - the left side where Franky’s illustrated narrative was written and on the right side he wrote “Becca Smith vs Governor Freak” and “Ellen Jenkins” below it.

“Thank you for your rather… passionate rundown of the series we had, Franky but let’s put a pin on that for a while. Just indulge me for a little bit.” Derek said almost pleadingly.

“I envision a showdown of some sort with Becca and Governor Freak, how would that play out?” He asked everyone in the room.

"Well, if we are going that way, let’s make the Govna hotshot Ellen – as collateral damage, making it appear that Ellen dies because of it. Becca then goes on a murderous rampage to exact revenge on the Govna. What do you think?” Kim, the small Asian writer with long black hair stated candidly.

“But at the final moment, Ellen survives and so does the Govna.” It’s brilliant! Tina continued enthusiastically.

Derek gave a sly smirk. He knew that Kim and Tina will always have his side and would very well go along with whatever he wants.

“And what about Ellen’s story arc? What? We just randomly pair her up with a new inmate. They bond and that’s it? Are we seriously gonna shit on Becca’s memory? It’s absurd, Derek.” came Allie’s instant reply.

“We could always go for the classic rescue romance trope, Ellen saves a new inmate from the path of her own self destruction. We create a conflict allowing the new person to make a choice and she would of course choose Allie.” Doreen explained almost smugly.

“Isn’t that a bit derivative?” Linda voiced out.

“Everything is a bit derivative, you’re point is?” came Tina’s bitchy reply earning a frown and an eye roll from Linda.

“ANGER!” Joan roared from behind, slamming her hand on the table for greater impact, effectively startling and silencing everyone.

“Make anger Ellen’s central emotion for the season. Anger can turn all that… love in to resentment, rage and even… hate.” she continued.

“What? That’s absurd! That doesn’t sound like the Ellen that we’ve been writing. It’s like a different person altogether. Our viewers ain’t buying that. That’s just horrible character development.” Allie voicing out her dismay.

“Make her angry enough to make her move on quickly.” Doreen quickly jumped in.

“We give her a line that goes along like, I can’t fall for another woman with a death wish, something like that and make it work” Derek mentioned almost casually.

And just like that, the room suddenly cracked in to life. A number of things happened simultaneously, Allie stood up, her hands flailing angrily in the air, replying to Derek and Doreen. Franky pointing her index finger accusingly at Joan, trying to get a rise out of her but to no avail as the director just eased into her chair and pursed her lips – a small smile forming into them. Vera and Will double teaming against the now suddenly vocal Lucy Gambaro. The staff writers Linda Miles and Boomer Jenkins found themselves in a heated screaming match against the other staff writers, Tina Mercado and Kim Chang.

The tension in the writer’s room reached an all-time high. They call it “war room” for a reason and this is precisely what is happening right now. The showrunner, producers, directors, story editors and staff writers fighting amongst themselves on the direction of their characters and the pros and cons of deviating from the original story arcs that they have developed for the show. Everyone fighting for their creations, for the show, for their viewers, for the fandoms. It’s a battlefield – a messy chaos within the confines of the writer’s room, and the winner will ultimately dictate the future of the show.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Our Hot Little Secret

 

Approximately 7497 miles away from Sydney

 

As the sleek black Audi 5 pulls out of the gated fortress of Bea Smith’s home, the hotshot showrunner can’t help but feel like there’s something not quite right with this day, like there’s something missing and she can’t place it anywhere.

She sits back and closed her eyes for a moment taking in the few minutes of quiet while her driver speeds past the highway for the 30-minute drive to Warehouse 84 somewhere near the pier where the shooting location of the season finale for her latest show has been set-up.

Reeling in from the back to back success of her psychological thriller television drama series – Not The Monster They Made Me Out To Be, about a professional fencing athlete turned serial killer that dispenses her twisted form of justice towards her victims, whose brilliant writing earned them Television Program of the year and Outstanding Drama Series for 3 consecutive years and bagging for herself an Outstanding Writer for a Drama Series award twice for the same show only to play second fiddle for the next three consecutive years to another Bea Smith creation – I Am No Victim, a murder mystery drama that earned her a Lincoln Award for TV Writing Achievement under her belt. The redhead showrunner took another leap of faith by creating a new spy thriller series with an all female production to boot – Our Hot Little Secret, whose season debut has earned them Best New Series and whose second season is now being filmed in this secret warehouse outside the city.

Bea’s peaceful moment was rudely interrupted by the continuous buzzing of her phone effectively snapping her back to reality. She opened her eyes almost begrudgingly and looked at the email notifications and text messages. She responded almost instantly to her daughter’s messages and to Maxine Conway’s – her Executive Assistant – informing her of the new director’s cut reel (dailies) of an episode that they shot the day before for the series finale of Not The Monster They Made Me Out To Be.

She immediately opened her laptop and clicked on the attachment that Maxine sent, plugging in the earphones so that the volume won’t be a distraction to the driver and started playing the reel.

She watched intently as the scenes unfold and jot down her comments and preferred revisions. After 30 minutes she quickly sent out an email instructing the director for a few reshoot of the scenes for continuity reasons and general comments on the look and feel of the episode.

Not long after the car slowed down to the front of the warehouse and after packing everything away she opened the car door and headed straight to the entrance.

Maxine was promptly waiting for her, a tablet in one hand and coffee cup in the other. As soon as she spotted Bea, she walked towards her.

“Goodmorning Bea! I hope you are ready for us today.” Maxine said with a big smile while taking Bea’s bag and handing her the tablet and the cup in exchange.

“Thank you Maxi” she said with a smile as they continued their short walk inside the warehouse in to the production area.

The moment she got a taste of what Maxine’s choice of coffee for her, she already knew that it's going to be a long day.

“Secret barista’s drink that kind of day huh?” she said with a strained laugh and one eyebrow raised looking at her assistant quizzically.

“Believe me Bea, you’ll need that four shots of espresso. Your lead actress is having a diva strop and has been on her 8th take for this one scene. Meg has not been able to keep her focus” she said almost immediately, her heart going out to their director who has been doing everything she can to fix the mess before Bea arrives and failing quite miserably.

“Eight? Oh for fuck sakes!” Bea exclaimed with hint of mild annoyance while still descending deeper into the set.

“Also Bea you have a full schedule today” Maxine continued pausing just a little to look into Bea’s schedule on her phone.

“Okay hit me with it.” Bea replied as she nods curtly to the crew who greeted her along the way.

“Meeting at 11 with the Prop Master for Victims. Lunch at 1230 with the Casting Director. By 3pm you are needed at the Editing Bay for Hot Secret and at 5pm you have a table read at the writer’s room for NTM. Sonia Stevens of GMA Network is still waiting for an answer. Peter Wachowski of Netflix is requesting a meeting. Andrew Manning of Hunter Publishing is expecting a call back. Entertainment Weekly is asking for that interview and E News Asia is hounding me for an exclusive.” she said without missing a beat.

Bea stopped walking, contemplating silently on her schedule making Maxine stop abruptly too.

“Move the lunch to 1. Pencil in Peter before we fly to Sydney. Push back on that interview with Entertainment Weekly. We can’t do any exclusives yet prior to the release dates of our renewals, if we are going to be renewed that is. Tell them some scheduling conflict. Scrub the optics a bit. Arrange for a conference with Sonia for tomorrow morning and how many times do I have to say no to Andrew? What part of no does he not understand?” She said with a huff and continued walking.

“And about Sydney...” Bea stopped again, her mind already thinking of all the things that needs to be done before their long overdue vacation.

“Everything’s sorted Bea. You are leaving everything in the capable hands of our people. Are you having second thoughts? Because Debbie would literally kill you boss, and you know it” Maxine said with a warm smile.

“I don’t doubt that for a second” Bea replied with a laugh and continued the short walk to the set.

The set was in full swing when they finally arrived. There were four tents inside as provisional make-up and costume rooms and lounging areas.

The scene that they are shooting currently requires only a makeshift bed from industrial materials found in an abandoned warehouse to appear as the hideout of the villain of the show and the lead actress finally catching up with her.

The piece of writing used for their characters involved an enemies to lovers trope and they are about to have that electrically charged confrontation turned confession scene which was where Bea and Maxine found the frustrated looking director Meg Jackson on the far right side slumped in her chair and giving out final instructions through the microphone attached to her headset.

Shifting her gaze on the left she saw the blonde lead actress Jodie looking very tense and uncomfortable sitting next to the curly brunette Eve, her co-actress in the show who seems unaffected and quite frankly a little bored.

As Bea took the chair next to the director with the inscription Executive Producer Bea Smith labelled on the backrest, Meg whispered a low good morning to the boss and gave her a soft tap on the shoulder and then continued with giving instructions to the crew.

She tapped the tablet that Maxine handed her a while ago and quickly skimmed the script to know which part they are currently filming.

“It’s been a tough one already boss and its only 9am” Meg told Bea in a less angry but more annoyed voice.

"What’s been the hold up?” She asked feeling the frustration in her director’s voice.

“Jodie’s been screwing her lines and apparently can’t seem to look Eve in the eyes when the script literally tells her to do just that. Here."

Meg pointing to Bea the part of the script that they have been filming for a while now.

Bea reads the line carefully.

“JODIE holds her stare. Unblinking. Expectant. Doesn’t let her look away”

"And I’ve been patient Bea, I’ve tried to work my way around this bump." Meg continued.

"We tried the high-angle shot for a more dramatic feel but it wasn’t working. Then we tried the over-the-shoulder shot but it’s a no-go. We even tried the dutch angle just to see if it could work but it can’t if Jodie won’t look at Eve for longer than one damn second” she said rubbing the temples of her forehead – a sign of an incoming headache for the frustrated director

“Shoot it again, let me see what’s working or not” Bea said in a serious tone.

Meg motioned for her assistant director and called out “Lock it up!”

The 1st Assistant Director called out from behind the pair “Quiet on the set! Picture’s up! Picture’s up!”

Once the set is quiet she again called out “Roll Sound!” a voice from behind responds “Speed”

The camera assistant holds a clap board in the shot and calls out “Scene 21 take 9” and hits the slate.

Bea and Meg looked intently at the monitor and after a few moments, Meg called out “Action!”

Bea watched as Eve moves from the makeshift bed and inch closer to where Jodie was standing. She placed her left hand on her neck in the motion of stretching and then slowly and steadily took Jodie’s hands with both of hers, letting them settle for a while. Both their eyes now looking at their joined hands then Jodie moves her right hand under Eve’s chin and when Eve looked up Jodie snapped.

“I can’t do this!” She said and quickly let go of Eve’s hand and walked away.

Everyone on set was stunned to silence and not a second later both Bea and Meg bolted out of their seats Meg calling out a loud “CUT!” and Bea yelling a confused “What’s going on here?” as she approached the pair of actress now glaring angrily at each other.

“You cheated on me! It’s all over Instagram!” Jodie screamed at Eve pointing at her phone

“I didn’t cheat on you. It was nothing” Eve answered with the same intensity as Jodie. Her arms wrapping securely around herself.

At this point Meg, Bea and Maxine where looking at each other with perplexed looks on their faces, Bea mouthing a “they’re together?” towards Maxine with obvious shock at the revelation. Maxine giving her a nod with a small smirk clearly amused at the whole thing. Meg was just left frozen on the spot and still a bit shocked.

Soft talks and hushed whispers among the crew now erupted inside the production set. Some staff started moving closer to the commotion hoping to catch a bit of information on the real life drama happening on set. TMZ is going to have a field day with this if it gets out.

Taking control of the situation Bea yelled out to everyone on set. “Let’s take 5” and then turned her attention to the angry pair in front of her.

“Everyone’s eyes are on you now. A word in private please?” She said with authority in her voice looking first at Jodie and then at Eve.

They both nodded but still not embarrassed enough to stop glaring at each other.

“Meg” Bea continued, “take Eve to her trailer” and “Maxi”, turning to her side only to notice that Maxine was no longer beside her but was hanging back a few meters away and from this angle was in a deep and serious conversation with someone on her phone.

She gestured for an assistant to come closer to her. “Dani can you take Jodie to her trailer?” and with that the assistant escorted Jodie out of the set while Meg doing the same.

Bea paced around the set breathing deeply and letting out a heavy sigh. Being a showrunner, she has dealt with a lot during the production of her shows but this – this one is for the books and she laugh out a raspy strained laugh shaking her head at the uniqueness of this situation.

She was about to head out to Jodie’s trailer when she heard Maxine’s voice from behind. She turned around and saw the seriousness in Maxine’s look.

“Bea, Erica Davidson is on the phone and it’s important that she speaks to you now” she said handing the phone to Bea.

Bea’s mind went immediately to the only person that Erica would call Bea about, her bestfriend – Franky Doyle.

Bea took the offered phone and spoke immediately

“What’s happened to Franky?”she asked in a nervous voice.

“Bea it’s not like that. Franky… she’s safe.” came Erica’s reply.

Bea released a breath she didn’t think she was holding. In a much calmer tone, she continued the conversation.

“You gave me a freight there Erica, what’s going on?”she asked.

“I’m leaving GMA Network” she said in a sad voice.

“Oh, that's rather sudden. Do you have a plan in mind? I’m not following where you are going with this.” She couldn’t quite understand why Erica’s career move has anything to do with her or Franky.

“It’s not that Bea. It’s Derek Channing. He’s on a mission. I don’t know why and what’s his end game but he’s targeted me for some reason and from what I’ve found out he forced other staff to resign as well. He’s got dirt on me Bea and it’s bad. That’s why I need to leave” she said almost tearful, the crack in her voice giving her emotions away.

“Franky maybe next or maybe she won't, but I just wanted to give you a heads up. I can’t warn Franky. Derek will know but please tell her that I’m very sorry for leaving but I had no choice and I care about her a lot Bea, I really do”

And without waiting for Bea’s reply the line suddenly was cut off and all Bea heard next was the beeping of dial tone on the other line leaving a baffled Bea clutching her phone.

Maxine took the phone from Bea and looked at her expectantly mirroring the confusion on her boss’ face.

Bea shook her head in an attempt to clear the fogginess of her mind.

She blinked twice and in few moments spoke out in a determined voice, “Get me Franky”.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

From Murder and Hairdressing to Inmates

 

"We are going to keep rolling until you hit the mark! " Joan bellowed from behind the camera, looking directly at Tasha Goodwin - the rookie actress they recently hired to replace the untimely resignation of one of their series regular.

Tasha looks nervous, the crack in her voice giving it away. Landing her first acting job, she feels intimidated by everything on set; from the bright light panels flashing on her face, the crane cameras on stand by, the boom microphones hovering above her and even the looks on the production crew. Everything is very new to her and what's worst, their director Joan Ferguson has not stop screaming at her since they started filming.

She looks on at Franky from behind the camera dolly, giving her an encouraging smile and on the side lines, she sees Allie, giving her an apologetic look, mouthing a "you got this" to egg her on.

"Give me last looks! Again!" Joan frantically screaming.

"Franky, keep rolling. She's not getting it right! I want you to make a slow push in on her face, right there." Joan continued pointing at the monitor.

Franky, turned away from the camera for a split second to look at Joan beside her. She opened her mouth to say something but pursed her lips immmediately, giving her a small nod instead. It's been an exhausting twelve takes for this one single sequence but Joan is not letting up. Even though she's already spent, it's nothing compared to the exhaustion that Tasha must be feeling. She's been taking the brunt of Joan's rage all morning.

"Try again Tasha, Action!" Joan commanded.

Tasha looked directly at the camera, conjuring every thing she learned from acting school, she closed her eyes momentarily to get in the zone, willing every bit of existential dread and agonizing narrative she could muster from the deepest corners of her mind. She slowly opened her eyes and opened her mouth.

Her words slow, unraveling, punctuating every emotion. Her eyes on the verge of tears.

"Don't rob me of my hate, it's all I have" she said perfectly.

Her emotions pouring out of every word, her shaky treble in the end giving the line an accurate depth.

It was beautiful, Allie was almost crying. It was one of the line that she added in the script for this episode and hearing Tasha delivering it perfectly, made her a little emotional.

Some production crew were moved too, Tasha really did well. Even Franky was nodding her approval.

"Pfff, again!" Joan scoffs, "You look pathetic!" she said with a laugh.

Tasha in near tears now. She really felt like she gave it her all.

"What? That was perfect, Joan!" Franky called Joan out.

Joan looked beside her, "No, again!" she stated simply.

Tasha started again, looking straight into the camera, "Don't rob me..."

"No!" Joan interrupted with an annoyed tone, "You're not saying it right" she continued.

Tasha tries again, "Don't..."

"Stop!" Joan interrupted again, "Don't look up, look directly at the camera." She commanded, pointing at the camera that Franky is operating.

"I wasn't" Tasha tried to argue but was silenced quickly by Joan's icy glare.

She let's out a small huff. "Don't rob me of my.."

"Too much, it's over the top!" Joan practically screaming at the young actress.

At that moment, Allie stood up abruptly, she's had enough of Joan practically terrorising their terrified actor but stopped half way when Vera came storming from behind her.

"You can’t do this to any of our actors?” Vera’s angry voice echoing in the set.

“I can and I will, Vera. This is my process, as simple as that!” Joan replied pointily.

“Screaming at her, terrorising her, making her shoot a single sequence for seventeen times. That’s down right abuse!” replied Vera, her tone a few octaves higher now.

“Perhaps if you casted an actor who can actually act, we wouldn’t be in this.. quandary” came Joan’s instant reply.

And before the heated argument turn into a full blown screaming match, Will stepped in to intervene between them.

"Everyone, get to fucking lunch please! We're back in an hour!" Vera announced loudly to the production crew before turning her attention back to their smug looking director.

The production crew started filing out of the set, everyone just wanted to get the hell away from the expected showdown that was about to happen between the two big guns of the production. No one wants to be caught in the middle of a crossfire, that's for sure.

Allie started walking towards the writer's room. Everything is going to shit and she's just really exhausted. Franky jogging from behind her to catch up.

“Why are you even on set today? Isn’t it Mel’s job to supervise? She still has like two weeks for turn over and shit.” Franky asked finally catching up with the blonde's pace.

“Vera asked me to cover for Mel, apparently she’s MIA” she replied in a sad tone.

"Well this is a nightmare" Franky said in a defeated voice.

"That's the understatement of the century. I still can't get my head around all of it. I don’t get it, Franky. I just don’t fucking get it. Why this direction? Why kill off Becca and give Ellen a new love arc? I can’t see how this plays out, I really don’t. Call it lack of foresight or whatever and on top of everything, we get Joan Ferguson on all our fucking faces” Allie spat out, frustration evident in her voice.

“I know, Al. I know. But Baldy the MacWanker of MacWankershire over there wanted to throw his dick around, and we can’t do anything about it now.” Franky replied with an equally frustrated tone.

“Really? Baldy the MacWanker? Of all the insults in the world, you’re going with that? Some creative genius you are, Doyle!” Allie bit back with a smile.

“I’m plenty creative, asshole!” Franky replied with a feign hurt look.

“Let’s just fucking eat. We can’t do shit about this now unless we want to lose our jobs.” Franky encourages and heads for the pantry.

It has been 48 hours since they’ve had the meeting from hell. Allie's mind kept replaying every bit of dissention, arguments, counter- arguments, replies and rebuttals inside the writer’s room.

She was adamant that the Showrunner’s decision to kill off her most beloved character that she had created for the series would be a cruel and brutal end to such an inspirational character. Particularly this one, her pride and joy, of whom she has spent month, years even working on it to try and give the character the best back story and development arc all throughout the season.

But Derek did not yield. He put his foot down and challenged anyone who wanted to go against the direction that he envisions for the series. He pulled out his trump card, the I-run-this-show-not-you card. And as the Executive Producer and Showrunner, he has the creative autonomy to steer the direction of the show even if it hits directly towards the iceberg. He gets the final word.

Promoted a year ago as the Story Editor on the hit tv series Inmates, Allie Novak had work her way up in the network’s hierarchy of writers, starting off as a writers’ assistant four years ago in a comedy show for the same network, she worked hard, conducting research and diligently taking down notes during table reads making sure that no idea gets lost in all the process, producing web contents for the show and pitching jokes to the writers after tedious research, often working long-hours just to prepare the materials for the writing staff.

The comedy series Murder and Hairdressing that Allie was working on as a writer’s assistant was at its final airing season. It had a good run on the first season but was not able to sustain its viewership and so the network made the executive decision to let it end on a high note on its season two and pull the plug.

With this move, some of the writing staff from the comedy series started contacting their respective agents/managers for the submission of their spec scripts, in hopes that they can be included in the roster for the upcoming drama series in studio 15.

Allie has been of two minds of whether to submit her materials for consideration. She had always been very passionate about writing and has created a few stories for years. Writing her characters has been a personal journey and sharing them to the world seemed a little bit daunting.

Deciding to be brave, she submitted her own spec pilot and just hoped that the cosmic powers of the universe will finally give her this one break.

It was during the last two weeks for the filming of Murder and Hairdressing when rumors started circulating that the roster for the upcoming drama series in studio 15 has already been filled up. Having receive radio silence for a month now, Allie already accepted that maybe this wasn’t her time yet and just like any other filming day, went on about her usual daily routine.

The moment she stepped inside the building, Allie made a bee line to their pigeon hole, as what the staff calls the mailboxes situated at the entrance of the writer’s room. She opened her box – H3, and found the itinerary for the week, the new memo regarding the script changes and a sealed manila envelope.

She hastily opened the envelope to read the contents. Her head was spinning and for a brief moment thought that she would pass out.

A tap on the shoulder immediately pulled her back to reality, she looked behind and found Linda Miles beaming at her.

“Good on ya, Allie! Heard you’ll be joining us on the dark side. Got my offer letter in the mail too” Linda said, pointing at the envelope that Allie was clutching.

“I’m stoked! Shocked even and right now lost for words” she answered honestly.

“Well, that’s not all I’ve heard though” Linda’s eyes narrowed suspiciously at the blonde but her smile giving her away.

“Oooh gossip, come on then, spit it out” Allie mirroring Linda’s mock-suspicious look, encouraging her to spill the tea.

Linda hesitated, seemed to be contemplating on her choice of words and then she smiled at Allie.

“Heard you’ve made a good impression on the DP, she recommended you off the bat” Linda said and started walking out the door.

Allie was confused for a few seconds, and then it hit her – Franky fucking Doyle! She had seen the tattooed director in the next studio for a few times but has never engaged her in any form of conversation.

Rumor has it that this newly hired Director of Photography is a smooth-talking charmer – a textbook Casanova among the ladies leaving a trail of broken hearts from miles on end.

The idiotic grin that Allie was wearing a few minutes ago, now turned into a visible frown, a flash of panic running through her mind. What she initially thought as a validation for her hard work on this job that she absolutely loves turned into doubt, uncertainty and now anger.

Surely, the tattooed director wanted something in return, and I’m not that kind of girl. Well, at least not anymore. Did Franky knew her past? What does she want? I’m so fucked! She silently cursed.

Just as when Allie thought the universe is done playing tricks, she saw Franky heading towards the other studio. Deciding to bow to fate and meet the problem head on, she took a deep breath to calm her nerves and headed straight to the coy director.

Allie walked up to Franky who was wearing a mischievous grin. “Oh sweet Jesus, what I would give to wipe that fucking grin off her face right now!” She monologues in her mind.

She stood in front of Franky, making sure that there was a safe distance between them.

“I’m not going to sleep with you Franky” Allie hissed at the grinning director.

“What?” Franky replied with a confused look.

“You heard me, so whatever fucking games you’re playing right now, just stop, it’s not gonna happen” Allie’s voice a few octaves higher. Her temper almost reaching to a boiling point – almost.

Franky was stunned at Allie’s confrontation. Her flirty grin was now replaced with a serious look. After a few moments of silence, a nervous laugh came out of Franky’s mouth.

“What the fuck are you on about, Allie? I’m honestly at lost.” She replied to the blonde with a friendly smile.

Now it was Allies turn to be confused. She was sure that she got the offer because Franky wanted something for it but now, seeing the puzzled look on the director’s eyes, it seems she was wrong. Dead wrong. And now she’s about to cop it out.

“Shit! Franky I’m sorry.” she said in a small voice, her eyes starting to well with tears.

“I thought that I got the offer because you wanted something from me and Shit! I’m really sorry” her words barely audible as she fights back the tears from freely falling.

“Hey hey, it’s ok Allie. We’re good” Franky said reassuringly as she pats the shoulder of the upset blonde.

After a few moments, Allie composed herself and looked at Franky.

“Did I just made a complete ass of myself in front of our new DP” she asked trying to lighten up the mood.

“Almost but not quite. Give it a few tries, you’ll get there eventually, Novak” Franky replied with a kind smile.

“For the record, I gave my recommendation because every time that I’m in the studio, you’re everywhere doing almost everything for everyone on your team. You come here at the crack of dawn and leave much later that everyone else, if that’s not dedication then I don’t know what is.” She replied honestly.

“Also” she continued

“I maybe a lot of things but I’m no fucking predator. Consent is sexy, everyone knows that” Franky beamed with a flirty wink.

“I don’t know what to say honestly, but thank you for giving me a chance to work with your team.” Allie smiled back.

“I know how that feels blondie, so trust me, I’m just paying it forward. And besides, I’ve got my eyes set on another blonde”. Franky cocked her head towards the front gate.

When Allie followed the direction of Franky’s gaze, she saw the production top boss – the director of their new drama series, Erica Davidson.

“But isn’t she married?” she quietly asked the brunette who seemed to be having a staring contest with one of their top boss.

“I don’t see no fucking ring blondie, she’s fair game!” she replied not breaking the eye contact with Erica.

“She’s the only reason why I moved here” she confessed to the blonde.

“I miss Red though, and Debs, oh how I miss that not so little miss sassy” she shared fondly to the listening blonde beside her.

“Red and Debs? Let me guess, your secret wife and kid? Allie asked, amused at the annoyed looked that Franky is giving her.

“Nah. Red’s my best mate. I owe everything to her. This” circling her index finger in the air, “All this, is because of her. I wouldn’t be who I am now if it wasn’t for her. She gave me a chance to have a successful career in this industry and I’ll hold that in my heart forever” she explained almost reverently.

“Sounds like a great woman, are you sure you’re not in love with her? Sure sounds like it” Allie probes the now grinning Franky.

“Fuck off, Novak. I love her, not in a I-wanna-sleep-with-her kind of way although I did try, but in a I-owe-everything-that-is-good-in-my-life-to-her." Franky explained. 

“She’s shit hot too. Ooohhhh, I’d bet you’ll fucking drool once you’ve set your eyes on her. I can see it already, Novak” she challenged, wriggling her eyebrows comically on the now curious blonde.

“Sure Doyle, if you say so. But solely based on the type of girls that you find hot, *cough* Erica *cough*. I don’t think you’d win”. Allie replied smugly.

“Yeah think? Alright, I’ll bite. Let’s do this right. I’d bet that when you see Red, you’ll fucking drool - not literal drool, of course, but you get the idea. Do we have a deal?” Franky bites confidently, extending her right hand to the smug blonde.

“Pfft.. it’s so on, Doyle” Allie bit back, shaking Franky’s hand to seal the deal.

“Linda’s gonna love you” she continued.

“Who doesn’t?” Franky asked nonchalantly.

Allie is confident that Franky would lose this bet. There is a high possibility that this “Red” woman would be pretty, beautiful even, but drop dead gorgeous? Drool-worthy? Please!

She had been attracted to a few women but not enough to conjure those kinds of emotions and highly doubt anyone could ever will.

Snapping back to reality, Allie followed Franky towards the pantry with a heavy heart.

Four years ago, four years from starting as a Writing Assistant in Murder and Hairdressing and now as the Story Editor for Inmates, she let out a heavy sigh.

How she wish she could go back to the time when all she could concern her mind with was winning a bet against Franky – those thoughts on the mysterious woman now hidden behind rubbles of incoherent thoughts, storylines, plot arcs and whatever shit that Derek would come up with.

After an extended lunch, the production was called back again to continue filming.

As the duo headed towards the production set, they were stopped by two rookie production assistants asking them to surrender their phones and gadgets.

“What the fuck for?” Franky asked with an annoyed tone.

“Sorry Franky, director’s orders” the assistant replied almost pleadingly.

“This is crazy! I’m gonna talk to her. Can you hold this Al, please, for awhile” Franky handing her mobile phone to Allie and stormed off.

Instead of handing all their gadgets, Allie walked back and headed to the lounge. She is in no mood to get into another row with anyone right now.

She fears that with all her emotions running high, she might blurt out words that she might regret saying. She settled herself in one of the empty couch, putting a safe distance from the commotion happening on set.

As she was getting comfortable, Franky’s phone started ringing. She looked at Franky’s mobile, the name Red was flashing across the screen.

“Typical Franky” Allie scoffs, of course her contacts list are composed of names that only she would recognize.

She looked at the name again, Red and for some reason she can’t stop smiling at the name. She remembers vaguely a bet she had with Franky about a certain Red woman. She’s probably the same Red that Franky was talking about then.

After a while, it stopped ringing yet there’s something about that name that keeps niggling at Allie.

She placed the phone on top of the table in the hopes that if the phone is out of her reach then this weird feeling would also pass.

Not two seconds after putting it down, it starts ringing again. The name Red flashing in bright white calling to her, vying for her attention.

“Is it rude to answer someone else’s phone?” she asked herself.

“Could be important” she monologues.

She picked it up, only to put it back down again.

“It’s rude, it’s rude. It’s Franky’s personal business, I shouldn’t get involved” she convinces herself but there it is, that annoying feeling in her gut that she should answer the damn thing.

It stopped ringing yet again. Allie let out a loud sigh. She’s feeling all sorts of nervous even though there’s no rational explanation behind it, at least one that she could think of at this moment.

“What is wrong with me?” she asked quietly, staring at the phone now resting calmly on the table.

As she walked back to the couch, predictably, Franky’s phone started ringing again.

Allie glanced back, seeing that it is still Red whose calling, and without giving it any thought, picked it up and answered almost immediately.

“It’s about fucking time you answered your goddamned phone, Franky! The little shit’s been sending me straight through the blasted voicemail, I actually give a fuck, you dickhead.” Bea’s less angry more irritated voice blasting through the line.

Allie was momentarily stunned. Not by the aggressive manner that the caller had nor because of the shower of foul language that rained on her ears but by the raspy tone of the caller labelled Red on Franky’s phone, rattled Allie in a way that no one has ever.

Red must have sensed it too, because not a moment too soon, she was talking again.

“Stop being an ass, Franky. Are you fucking there? Bea tried in a calmer tone this time.

“Whoa! So aggro! That’s a whole lot of swear words in one go. It’s got to be a world record.” Allie replied, taking control of the conversation after being momentarily derailed by this Red person.

That voice. There’s something about that voice that made Bea’s heart suddenly have a mind of its own, making it beat loudly from her chest.

Why am I nervous all of a sudden? Bea asked herself quietly.

“Wait, what? I’m sorry, who is this?” Bea replied nervously.

“No need to go all prim and proper on me now, I happen to be pretty conversant in bullshit myself, it’s all good here.” came Allie’s instant reply.

“Am I to assume that I’m talking to the world’s leading expert in being a potty mouth then?’ Bea replied with a laugh.

“Pretty much. I mean, I do have an extensive vocabulary on the subject.” Allie answered back in a smug tone.

“Pfft” Bea scoffs “I’m calling your bluff. With that sweet voice? I highly doubt it” she continued.

“So you’re saying I’m sweet” Allie quickly replied. Grinning like an idiot.

“No, I’m saying you’re full of it” she replied with a laugh.

“Oh yeah, well, how do I insult thee, let me count the ways? We got the standard... bitch, prick, dickhead, for starters. Then we go to those with variations like Fuck, Fuck off, Fuckwit, Fucking Hell, Holy Fuck. If you’re inching for some international tones, we have Merde and Putain in French, Caralho in Portuguese and Cazzo and Stronzo in Italian” Allie replied smugly, with perfect accent and without missing a beat.

The other line fell silent for awhile. Allie immediately though that she’d offended Red’s sensibilities.

And then suddenly, she heard the sweetest sound in the world - a hearty laugh in those sexy, raspy tones, sending a little tickle up on Allie’s stomach and shivers down her spine.

In those few short seconds, Bea and Allie both forgot..

That Allie was answering Franky's phone.

That Allie was in the middle of filming.

That Bea was calling for Franky.

That Bea was in the middle of an airport waiting to board.

For a fleeting moment, everything stopped moving and simply faded into nothingness.

The line fell silent again but it wasn't awkward or demanding. It was simply an awakening. Something that rattled them both.

And just when you think the universe is starting to put things in their proper places, the silence was broken by the booming sound of the public announcement and voice action system of the airport, grounding them both.

"This is the final boarding call for passengers Beatrice Smith, Debbie Smith and Maxine Conway booked on Qantas flight QF 310 to Sydney. Please proceed to gate 1 immediately. The final checks are being completed and the captain will order for the doors of the aircraft to close in approximately five minutes time. I repeat. This is the final boarding call for passengers Beatrice Smith, Debbie Smith and Maxine Conway. Thank you."

Debbie already halfway towards Bea, summoning her mom to hurry and head to their gate.

Allie spoke first.

"Are you at the airport?" she asked.

"Yeah, I got to go" Bea replied breathily

"I'll tell Franky you called.. Red" she replied with a smile.

"Thanks.. Uhm.." Bea started, now only realizing why she called in the first place.

"Allie.. I'm Allie Novak" Allie offers, cutting her mid-thought.

"Thanks, Allie Novak" she said before finally hanging up, a small blush forming on her cheeks.

"Are you alright mom?" Debbie asked worriedly.

"You look a bit flushed" she continued, still looking intently at her mom.

"I'm okay, let's go" Bea said reassuringly, taking Debbie's hand. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

I Always Win

 

“It’s got to be a world record.”

“So you’re saying I’m sweet”

“How do I insult thee, let me count the ways?

“Merde” 

“Caralho” 

“Cazzo”

“Allie”

“Allie Novak”

The words keep swirling around Bea’s head, a harmonious symphony on repeat like a broken record, except it’s not broken. It doesn’t feel broken, more importantly it feels like its fixing something, something lost and long forgotten.

She shakes her head, once, twice but the memory stubbornly persists. She could still hear that sweet voice, both unsettling and calming her at the same time. 

She knows she’s smiling, she can already feel how her lips are curving upwards at the outer edges but somehow, is rendered incapacitated to move it otherwise. 

She glances to her side, only to be met by the toothy but adorable grin that her nineteen year old daughter, Debbie is giving her. Bea lets out a nervous laugh. 

The privacy partion between them has been surreptitiously moved down thus Debbie has an unobstructed view of her mom. Noticing the far away look on her mom's face and that ever growing grin since they boarded the plane, Debbie is slowly becoming suspicious that something is definitely bothering her mom. 

"What's got you all smiley mum?" Debbie starts, giving her mom the cutest puppy eyes that she got in her arsenal, melting Bea's heart instantly. 

Bea laughs softly, a small blush forming on her cheeks now. 

"Nothing Deb, just had the weirdest and most entertaining conversation in a while, that's all." Bea answered as honestly as she could, ruffling her daughters curls affectionately. The memory of that sweet sweet voice still embedded on her head. 

"Was Franky messing around again?" she pokes on. Still not entirely convinced that its just that simple. She's never seen her mom this… giddy. 

"No, it wasn't Franky. I didn't get the chance to speak with her to be honest". She recounts, now realising that the conversation with Franky needs to happen as soon as they land. 

"Yet you've been on the phone for a while. And come to think of it, you were smiling… a lot and at one point I even heard you laugh." she answers thoughtfully, recalling how her mom was happily engaging in that conversation. 

Bea blushing profoundly at her daughters words, her eyes looking everywhere, consciously avoiding Debbie's questioning glare. 

And then something click in Debbie's mind. A eureka moment. 

"Mum.." she treads slowly, knowing that the conversation might turn a bit awkward. Not for her, of course but teasing her mom every chance she gets has become a lifelong mission, especially now that's she's able to after crossing the threshold of adulthood not too long ago. 

"Were you flirting? Because it sounds a lot like flirting." Debbie asked eagerly. 

"Deb! No! I wasn't! " Bea answered, a little too quicky and too defensively. But she knows she's blushing, full on blush central. Welcome to Blushville, population: Bea. 

"Oh my god mom, you were!" Debbie teases on, grinning from ear to ear as she inch closer to the partition table between their seats. 

"No, I wasn't. Okay, okay, time to sleep, Deb! Where's the control for this partition thingy" Bea defends, her face sporting the color of her hair and was looking around, pushing all buttons to try and get the privacy partition up. 

Debbie now full on laughing at the her mom's antics. She's never seen her mom this fussed over someone no less. 

Not a second too soon, a flight attendant came to Bea's rescue. She was wearing an elegant smile, concern etched on her face, she leaned down to Bea's eye level. 

"Can I assist you with anything, Ma'am? " the flight attendant asked sweetly. 

Debbie covering her mouth with the complimentary pillow and ducking her head a little further down her seat while her mom gave her a steely glare at first and then turned her head towards the helpful attendant. 

"Yes, uhm, I was having trouble with the privacy partition?" she said shyly. The attendant giving her an understanding nod. 

After showing Bea how to work the seat controls and the entertainment controller, she gave Bea a lingering smile and asked if she needed anything more. 

"No, that's about it. Thank you.. uhm.. " 

She looked down at the name plate of attendant to address her properly. She read it once and then twice because the universe can't possibly be doing this to her right? She reads again, "Ally" 

Bea shakes her head at this freak coincidence because apparently everyone is named Allie now. Universe - 2, Bea - 0.

"Thank you, Ally" the name sounding perfectly coming from her lips, she thinks and then second guessed herself. What's got in to me? She said quietly. 

As the flight attendant left, she looked back at Bea for a few seconds with hopeful eyes and then continued her walk down the aisle, checking the other passengers with them in the business class section of the plane. 

Debbie looked on at the entire exchange and then gave her mom another comical grin. 

"You're on a roll, mum" she teases again. Bea's pillow landing perfectly on her face. 

"Mum! I'm calling for child services" Debbie whined, sporting that adorable sad puppy look. 

The mother-daughter now in a laughing fit. Both were struggling to keep their voices down out of respect for some passengers who were already sleeping for their long flight to Sydney. After they've regained their wits and sanity, Debbie started again in a low voice, a little higher than a whisper. 

"So tell me mum, who was it? I'm just curious is all." sounding nonchalant but actually determined to know who's the mystery person that got her mom this skittish. 

Bea thought deeply for a while. Should she tell Debbie? There's no point in hiding things from her anyway. 

"Her name's Allie. She answered Franky's phone." Bea spoke finally after a small pause and then a sudden dread came over her. 

Why would Allie answer Franky's phone? Are they just friends? Or dating? she monologues in her head. She felt extremely deflated at the thought.

Why am I even sad? I should be happy, for Franky. She tries to put some semblance of logic to her thoughts but that dread still lingers. 

The change in her mood was so swift, her voice dropping to a deep melancholic tone. 

"She might be Franky's girl.. I think" the words felt bitter in her mouth. Her mind already calculating the high probability of this dreadful observation. 

"Nah, Franky’s not with Allie. She one of the writers for Inmates." Debbie answered almost immediately. The sudden change in her mother's tone not totally lost in her. Bea took the offered reprieve, not realising that her very attentive daughter was already calculating ways of knowing the 411 between her and this Allie. 

"Do you know her?" Bea asked casually, trying to sound as nonchalant as she could but the eagerness in her eyes betray her. 

"No, not really. I know her by name but not by face. Franky dropping her name once or twice but definitely not a girlfriend. Erica though, now that's a whole new ball game" Debbie replies coolly, catching on quickly. 

In a few hours, they will be landing in Sydney and maybe she'll get to see how things would develop, if they ever do. She already plans to extract the necessary information from her mom's bestfriend and her favorite aunt. She feels hopeful. But for now, she'll tread lightly. 

"Aaaaannnnddddd  you're smiling again, mum" she teased on. Her face lighting up, mirroring the one that her mom is currently sporting. 

"Deb, I'm not" Bea tries to argue but she's mildly aware that her face is bright red now, and this stupid grin won't seem to  quit anytime soon. 

"Mum, as your daughter, it is my god given right, nay, my inalienable duty to tease you perpetually" she grins like a Cheshire cat, batting her eyelashes comically making Bea smile too. 

"And as your mother" Bea started, pausing dramatically and simultaneously pressing the sliding divider button to go up. 

"I could just ground you… perpetually." she said smugly, her voice muffled by the privacy partition. 

"Muuuuum!" Debbie whines like the drama queen that she is and then both started laughing. 

It was quiet for a while, Bea and Debbie both lost in their own thoughts. Maxine, who took the solo window seat across Bea was already sleeping soundly. 

Debbie pushed the partition down again to talk to her mum, feeling the need to say something before she loses her nerve. 

"Mum, thank you for agreeing to do this. I know that coming back to Sydney is a bit difficult. " Debbie said softly, looking over at her mom, trying to read her facial expression. 

"It's okay sweetheart, it's about time we do. You don't have to worry about anything" Bea replied in a somber tone, holding Debbie's hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. 

It has been years since they left Sydney - too long away from home, if you ask Bea but it was something that she needed to do at that time, for her sanity and for the sake of Debbie's future. 

It was a gamble to be in a foreign country and raising a young child on her own, the risk even greater but fate offered something else for Bea, something better and after all these years, maybe it was time to come back home, she thinks. 

Nothing is set in stone yet and this one month vacation in Sydney, her graduation gift to Debbie might set her destiny into another course or maybe, just maybe, aligning it perfectly to where it was always meant to be. 

"Who are you seeing first mum? I know aunt Franky's somewhere in the list? Debbie said with a slight yawn, snuggling into her blanket. 

"I'll save the best for last, but I really want to see Liz. Do you still remember her?" Bea asked while resting comfortably on her seat that was already transformed into a bed. 

"Oh yeah, grandma Liz. I've missed her so much and her lovely rose garden. Can't wait to see Carly, she promised a collab and then Shane too." she answered sleepily, her eyes already shut close. 

"Goodnight, sweetheart" Bea softly said, Debbie mumbling something incoherent already half way to dreamland. She looked on at her sleeping daughter for a short while and then succumbed to sleep herself not long after. 

 

Back at Sydney and a few timezones away, a blonde and a brunette was having a similar conversation about a certain redhead at the car park of the studio. 

"You said WHAT to Red?" Franky asked, wide eyed and glaring at Allie suspiciously  who was at that moment opening her car door right next to Franky’s. 

"I may or may not have said a few choice of cuss words at her, in uhm.. English, French, Portuguese and Italian. " she replied quickly with a dreamy look on her eyes, sporting this stupid grin on her face since coming back to the set. 

"Wait, hold on! You mean to tell me you called Red, MY Red, all these and then nothing? No push back, no telling off. Didn't even rip you a new one? Fuck! Franky leaned against the boot of her car.

"She's not yours, Franky" Allie slammed the car door shut, a little too forceful. The sudden thought that Red belongs to someone did not sit well with her at all. Why am I so affected? Allie silently mused. 

Territorial much? Franky sneered. "You're awfully protective for someone you talked to just today… Interesting" she continued, sporting that classic Franky Doyle grin. A plan already set in motion in her head involving a certain redhead and with the help of her teenage sidekick already halfway towards Sydney now. 

"What's interesting about it Doyle?" Allie walked closer to her friend, curiosity getting the best of her. 

"A lot actually, blondie but what comes to mind first is that Red, you know, my Red" she pushed on, earning an eye roll from the curious blonde. "Doesn't let anything of that sort get by her without some form of retaliation, I'm in awe your ears ain't bleeding by now". Franky scratches her head in wonder, recalling the number of times that Bea ripped her head off for saying something similar in the past. 

"Yup, no Kraken was released, not a single beast was unleashed and hell did not break loose. She even laughed, I guess I'm just lucky." she smiles, her mind automatically taking her to that ever so precious memory that she most undoubtly replay over and over for the next days to come. 

"No, Novak. No fucking way. The thing with Red is, she only has 3 moods..." 

And before Franky could continue, they both heard the loud slamming of the studio doors, startling them both. Followed by a fuming Derek Channing who seemed to be raising hell at someone on the phone. 

"Then fuck off, I'm heading there now!" he shouted angrily and dropped the call as he walked toward the direction of his car - the same direction where the startled duo was frozen in place. 

Noticing that Allie and Franky have witnessed his major tantrum, he cleared his throat, adjusted his necktie and slowed down his steps. 

"Doyle, Novak" he greets them politely, wearing that fake smile on his lips as he walked past them. 

"Derek" Allie replied curtly while Franky just giving the man a small nod. 

He walked towards the far end of the parking lot and went inside his car and hurriedly left. As the car rolled towards Allie and Franky again, he slowed down and opened his window. 

"Novak, fix the finale draft by Monday, we need it ASAP!" Derek hollered and then sped past them and out the main street. 

A weak "Righto" was all Allie managed to say as Derek was already half past towards the highway before Allie can even process what he said. 

So much for a quiet weekend, Allie thinks. 

Derek speeds up towards the city to a meeting that he has been dreading to attend. If only he was careful in the past then he wouldn't be in this mess in the first place but as much as he wants to bury the past, it comes back to haunt him. He turns an abrupt left on intersection and drove straight into the underground parking of CBN Tower. 

The CBN tower stands mightily at the heart of the capital. Home of the top rated television network in the country for years, this high class building lords over the structures surrounding below it. 

As Derek Channing entered the formidable glass doors, he was greeted by a young brunette intern wearing far too much make and a plastered smile on her face. “Mr. Derek Channing, the Chairman is ready for you now. Please follow me”. 

She followed the young intern towards the elevator, hitting the 18th Floor button to begin their ascent. Derek eyes the young woman’s figure unabashedly, lingering on her back side, his eyes continued trailing over her chest and a creepy smile grew on his smug mug. The elevator ding threw him out of his lust-filled haze and was led again to the room on the west wing.

The young intern opened the glass door of the conference room and asked Derek to wait for a while. 

Derek took the seat nearest the door and let out a nervous sigh. He has been here before, two weeks ago to be exact. Two weeks before everything that he has built for himself came crashing down with a loud bang. He remembers that first day that he walked inside this very room. 

*** Two weeks prior ***

“Yes, Mr. Channing, have a seat” the woman sitting on the head seat of the table started. Her hair was a blunt blonde bob angled slightly to the front. Her face was stiff and her voice was strong. She motioned for Derek to sit at the seat opposite hers. 

“Jacs, you do know that I like ‘em younger. I mean, you are great and all but I do prefer them with less...mileage, if you know what I mean.” Derek said with a loud laugh. 

“Oh yes I know, and that is precisely why you are here Derek” Jacs bit back with a wicked grin. She then slides a stack of folders across the table landing perfectly in front of Derek. He picked up one and raised his eyes towards the woman across. Jacs nodding her head encouraging him to open them up. Reading the documents in his hands, his face turned pale. 

“WHAT THE FUCK ARE THESE?!” He shouted from across the room.

Jacs paused, that nasty grin on her mug making an appearance. “Statements and settlement drafts. Statements of women with less and I quote mileage” She answered mockingly making air quotes gestures with her hands. 

“Jianna Riley, Jess Warner, Sky Pierson and Jodie Spiteri. A rookie actresses, one writer-producer and two staff writers. You have been very busy Mr. Channing” she continued, her eyes looking straight into the fuming showrunner from across the table.

“These are hearsay. You can’t prove this. I’m a fucking showrunner, they can’t touch me” Derek spat back, his eyes shooting daggers at the Chairman and CEO of CBN Network.

“Oh but you touched them, Derek. Threatened to fire them when they refuse. And when that young actress - that Warner girl together with that staff writer Spiteri, wouldn’t give in to your, let’s just say, peculiar requests, you actually fired them and influenced other producers to refuse to give them work  no matter how talented they are.” she said matter of factly, glaring at Derek. 

“They wouldn’t dare speak up against me. Their careers will be fucked!” Derek spat angrily, shaking his head in disapproval.

“Maybe. It maybe so. But are you willing to risk it? One bad press. Just one and they’ll come sniffing around. With the current rise of movements here and there- a witch hunt they say- for men like you, then poof, game over.” She said calmly, snapping her finger for a dramatic impact.

Derek’s head is spinning, full on panic rising on his entire body. He knows his sins and now they are coming back to haunt him.

“What do you want” He asked in a defeated voice.

“I always win, Derek. My network, my empire, my legacy – everything that you see here is because of years of hard work and I will not sit here and let a small insignificant show of yours take it all away. All the noise that your show is making takes away all the endorsement deals, development deals and investors away from this company. And I will not have that, I will not have any of that. Pull the plug on Inmates.” She snapped at Derek, her eyes darting with anger.

“I can’t do that Jacs. I can’t do that. We have the highest viewership right now. Our market shares are off the roof. Both our show and actors have been nominated and actually winning. The network will not allow it, it’s out of my hands.” He replied almost instantly. His mind already calculating the impossibility of this task.

“There are many ways to kill a show – you just have to be creative about it without being too suspicious.” She spat back, a plan already in place.

“The network will fire me, then all this blackmail will come to nothing Jacs.” He pleaded to the older blonde.

“What I offer is not just my silence but also an assurance that no news article will be printed against you for your “activities” with these ladies and to top it off, a development contract with this network.” She replied.

Derek’s mind is now in overdrive. Did he just wriggled his way out of that chaos and to come up winning? No scandal, no bad press and he keeps his status. This is going to be messy, he said quietly to himself.

“Lose your viewership and the numbers will follow” Jacs continued with a foul grin. “And oh, as a sign of goodwill, this is for you” she walked up to Derek and handed him a red folder.

“What’s this for?” He asked quizzically.

“Everyone has a past, you just have to remind them of it” Jacs replied and started walking out of the conference room. 

Derek eyed the red folder that he is now holding. He recognized the name written on it – Erica Davidson. 

*** Present time ***

The young intern walks hurriedly towards the east wing of the 18th floor, breathing in deep, she opens the door to the office of the Chairman and CEO of CBN Network. 

The chairman was standing by the window, nursing a glass of what appears to be whiskey - a preferred drink by Jacs and clutching a photo on her other. She seemed to be in deep thought, looking into the horizon. 

"Madame, Mr. Channing, for you" she said softly, catching the attention of Jacs. 

"Ah yes." she said as she walked back to her table, placing the drink on top and opening a drawer to place the photo inside. 

"Take this" Jacs handed her intern a red folder as she walked past but the intern was too slow to react, the contents then spilling on the floor. 

"Oh for fuck's sakes. Just pick it up." Jacqs instructed the now frazzled young woman, scrambling to get all the documents back to the folder. 

"What's with your face? Why is your make up off?" she leaned over, noticing for the first time her intern's features. 

"Oh it's full face using only art supplies challenge, erm for my channel in YouTube." She said in an upbeat tone. The folder neatly tucked in her arms. 

"This is a workplace, we don't do that nonsense here. I expect your normal make up tomorrow." she ordered and headed out the door. 

They walked silently towards the conference room on the west wing, she opened the door and handed Jacs the folder and closed it behind her, leaving her boss and Derek alone for this meeting. Derek not even moving an inch from where he was sitting. As Jacs crossed the room, she left the red folder in front of Derek and walk towards the opposite seat. 

"What's this? Another one of your gifts, Jacs?" Derek asked, his tone annoyed more than anything. 

The Chairman dismissed the comment, she is way too invested in this to succumb to Derek's snide remarks. 

"I've heard you hired Joan Ferguson, she isn't part of the plan, Derek" she said in an icy tone. 

"I've done everything you've asked. Erica's out of the way, Two actresses have resigned and my head writer's in the wind. I'm a director short and Joan's perfect for this." he replied nonchalantly. 

"She's a loose cannon" Jacs spat angrily. She's in too deep in this for Derek to mess everything up now.

"She's the devil incarnate if you ask the team. She's the perfect piece to bring this show down." he said proudly. 

"Just get it done! " Jacs abruptly stood up, signaling that this meeting is now over. 

"Are you really not going to tell me what's this for?" Derek asked as he stood up from his seat. 

"That's your smoking gun" she said with finality and left. 

He opened the folder slowly, recognizing the name written on the documents, and photo of a blonde woman with blue eyes - Allie Novak. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

Safe Again

 

“Mum, can we get a dog?” the adorable five year old shyly asked, pulling herself up from the floor and approached her mom slowly, who was at the moment, sitting comfortably on the couch reading a manuscript.  

Bea lowered the script on the table and opened both her arms as to welcome her sweet daughter. Instinctively, Debbie launched herself at her mom engulfing her in a tight bear hug while Bea reciprocated by tickling Debbie’s sides making the little girl giggle with delight.

“What were you saying, sweetheart?” Bea tenderly asked after Debbie’s giggles died down.

Debbie hurriedly went back to the drawings left on the floor, took a piece of paper and sat down next to Bea. 

“Shane said dog hugs are the best” she said enthusiastically handing her drawing to her mom who looked very amused at what looked like a flattened oblong shaped dog drawing with black and white spots, long flappy ears, a pointed snout, a pink tongue sticking out and plankton shaped-feet for paws. 

She smiled lovingly at her daughter while clutching the masterpiece in her hands – to anyone else, it looked like an abstract fusion of a corndog with Dalmatian spots plus Eeyore’s eyes but to Bea, it will always be beautiful and this drawing will most definitely enjoy a prime real estate in the coveted fridge door. 

She turned her head towards Debbie who was still on a monologue on why they needed to have a dog in the house. “Okay then, give me five reasons why we need a dog” she replied to the little girl next to her, whose head is now slightly tilted seemingly contemplating hard on what to say next.

“Hmmm” Debbie started, scrunching up her nose a bit. “Dogs make funny faces.” 

“Okay, that’s one, what else?” Bea replied.

“Dogs sleeps on your head” she added, “That’s two.” Bea let out a soft laugh.

“Dogs are funny, maybe dad won’t be angry anymore.” she said in a soft voice, her face still holding a focused look.

Bea’s face dropped and choked up a sob. She had tried her hardest to shield Debbie away from the nastiness of her no good husband, Harry but it seems that as the little girl is growing fast so does her ability to see and feel the dynamics in their home. She beckoned the tears to not fall, at least not in her daughter’s presence.

“Shane said his dogbarks at his mom when she’s being mean and would leave him alone.” She said sadly with downcast eyes. “Our dog will bark at dad to leave you alone too mom” she said with hope in her voice.

Her daughters words momentarily stunned her but as Bea slowly recovered, she pulled her daughter to her chest for a loving embrace, kissing her daughter’s head over and over again

Bea remembers this moment like it only happened yesterday. It would never leave her no matter how many years had pass and even though Debbie is well in her teen years now. Even then, Bea mused, Debbie always was so protective of her and she protected her daughter fiercely too, that’s how they’ve always love each other.

Same daughter whom she was supposed to meet in half an hour at some quirky coffee shop Debbie just found on this fine Saturday afternoon and was a short walk from where she is at the moment.

“Got lost in your head again, love?” a gentle voice and a soft squeeze on her shoulder took Bea back to the present. Liz handing her a cup of coffee with a loving smile.

“A little bit Liz.” Bea said in a soft voice. “It’s this house, being back here” she continued, her voice cracking in the end. Her eyes shifting from one part of the house to another. 

Liz placed her own coffee mug on the table and sat next to Bea. 

“So it’s for good then, you’re back here for good?” she asked with a little hope in her voice.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. Deb’s been such a great sport, didn't throw a fit when I told her we were moving to Los Angeles a few years ago. I’m still waiting for a comeback of sorts but not a peep since” Bea said with a laugh. Her daughter really was god-sent.

“You’ve raised a good one there, love. How is little Debbie? Still tinkering with 'em old cameras?” Liz replied, images of young Debbie running around the house snapping the camera like crazy on anything even remotely moving, flooding her mind now. 

“Oh, she’s upped her game that one, Liz. She’s on bloody Youtube now.” Bea said with a light laugh, just talking about Debbie really makes her heart soar with pride.

“She got the creative genius from you, that’s for sure”. Debbie was all Bea, anyone with eyes can see that. It was a big relief too that there’s no trace of Harry in her, to Liz’ mind, that right there is a miracle. 

“She wants to visit him though, Harry. I mean Debbie wants to visit Harry” she said in a sad tone. 

“He can’t hurt you anymore Bea, you know that.” Liz reassures her. 

“I have nothing to say to him, Liz.” Bea’s mind going from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds. 

“And you don’t have to. Debbie won’t ever force you to visit him, that’s how well you’ve raised that daughter of yours”. Liz tries again, reminding Bea that it’s all going to be okay.

“Sometimes I think, she’s done a lot of growing up even before I did.” Bea lets out a strained laugh. 

Bea holds the cup tighter on her hand, “But I want to be there for her Liz."

Liz reached for her hand from across the table. “And you have Bea, you always have, for her.” 

They held each other’s hand for a while, Bea fighting back her tears and Liz just smiling through her misty eyes as well. Steering the conversation to a much lighter topic, Bea focused on the fixtures in the house.

“You’ve kept the original facade of the house, I thought you’d have done some renovations to accommodate everyone.” Bea asked, looking the vast expanse of the open plan living room and dining area.

“Just some minor repairs for insulation and a couple of paint jobs. You’ve kept this house in pristine condition, it barely needed fixing.” Liz replied, pointing at the part of the ceiling that had some minor repairs a few years back.

“I’m glad that something good came out of this house. You’ve made it feel safe again, Liz. A real home that you and the kids truly deserve.” Bea said in a hopeful tone.

Bea’s ancestral home holds her happiest memories from when she was a child but were tainted with some of Bea’s painful ones with the first few years of her marriage to Harry. Knowing that this no longer holds true for its present occupants, just reaffirms that she made the right decision.  

“When you first hinted on giving this house to me, I thought you’ve gone mental. And it wasn’t until you turned over the deed for the land and for this house that I was definitely sure you’ve gone off your rockers”. She said with a hearty laugh. Bea laughing along with her.

As Bea was looking around the house, one particular window sill caught her eye.

“You kept it?” She asked almost with a laugh.

Liz followed the direction of Bea’s eyesight and let out a soft laugh. “Didn’t have the bloody heart to paint over Debbie’s greatest rebellion at five, wouldn’t I” she said, looking at the paint stained window.

“The kids have the grandest time at this window, trying to figure out what those words actually mean. It’s a hoot, I tell you.” She continued, ushering Bea towards the living room area. 

Bea moved closer to the old glass window pane and traced with her hands the almost withering red paint of Debbie’s writing. Some letters have faded but Bea knew exactly what Debbie wrote that day.

OL      AR W LCOM. T IS UR HOME. L VE B SMITH

There’s a drawing of a dog here, pointing at the space between the letters OL and AR.

She wanted to say “All dogs are welcome. This is your home. Love Deb Smith”. Harry wasn’t happy. 

And before Bea’s mind took her to another unpleasant memory of Harry, her mobile phone started ringing. She reached for it from her purse and saw that Maxine was calling, she looked up at Liz.

“Go ahead love, I’ll give you a bit of privacy” and stood up and took the empty mugs to the kitchen while Bea answers the call.

“Maxi” she said hurriedly.

“Hey Bea” Maxine started in a cheery tone. “I’m still protesting this because you’re supposed to be on vacation but ABS Network sent some documents for you to sign and it is imperative - their words not mine - that you approve some of them. I’m heading over to your hotel. Don’t bite my head off” Maxine continued with a hint of jest in her voice.

“And you are supposed to be on a vacation with me, Maxi. Ain’t that right?” she fired back but without bite into it.

“Well, those network executives are dickheads, what can you do? Martin's at the office until later, I don't think he'll mind me being away for a few hours. I’m heading there now” Maxine replied with a laugh.

“I’m meeting Deb in a coffee shop near here in about” She checked her watch to look at the time, 20 minutes to 4. She might run late if she don’t head out soon. “I’m meeting her in 20 minutes, how about you have a meal with us and then I’ll read those papers. I’ll send you the directions, yeah?” she replied hurriedly.

“You got it boss, see you in a while.” Maxi replied almost instantly.

“See you, Maxi” and then Bea hung up. She quickly sent the directions of the coffee shop that Debbie was at and went out to find Liz.

Liz was cutting some white roses from her small garden in the front yard and gathering them in a small basket. She heard the screen door open and looked up. Bea was heading her way.

“Heading out now, love” she said, already knowing the answer. 

“I’m afraid so Liz but today has been great. I’ve missed you so much” Bea closed the gap and hugged Liz warmly.

“Come round anytime, don’t be a stranger. Bring little Debbie too.” She said her voice cracking up a bit, she really did miss Bea and Debbie. 

“I have four more weeks before I’m needed back and then make a decision. We’ll visit in a few days, yeah?” she said and kissed Liz on the cheek. 

“Send my love to Debbie” she said while walking Bea to her car. “I’ll see you in a few days, Liz” she said while getting in the car. 

She gave Liz one last wave and then drove towards the direction of the coffee shop where Debbie was at and Maxine would be shortly.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

The Handrail Whisperer

 

Expectation : Allie sleeping in until noon. A long soak in a warm milk-and-honey bath. Scent of calming lavender oil or lemon verbena wafting in the house. Nursing a mint julep or two while indulging on small slices of cheddar, brie and goat cheese with prosciutto and salami, a handful of crostini or crackers with choices of fruits and nuts all neatly presented in a small wodden platter. 

Reality : Up by the crack of dawn. Downing two regular coffee and feasting on left over cold pizza, while having a mini staring competition with the blinking cursor on her laptop, with the cursor ironically winning. 

Instead of a nice and peaceful Saturday that Allie has planned for herself, she opted to just get in the middle of the mess and make headway on her writing. 

Ever since the network gave Derek their blessing - with reservations, to write and shoot the proposed revised ending for Season 2, the week has been manic. Writers have been pressured to revise and edit the last four episodes that would set up the big bang of the finale whilst making sure that the schedules for the table reads, shooting and editing of the remaining episodes be followed to the letter.     

After Derek gave her the most impossible job of “fixing” the season finale showdown between Becca and the Governor, she only had two days left to revise it, send it to the network for their comments and then schedule the table read and shoot the scenes.

Two hours after hitting a metaphorical wall on her writing, Allie decided to get out of the house and try to find her some motivation to write. She hates this direction with every fiber of her being, but that's the job, it's her job for now atleast and it would take a literal miracle to pull this one off. 

Having no real destination in mind, and it wasn’t until later in the day that she needed to be somewhere anyway, Allie decided to just walk to try and jog her mind for some creative ideas on how to make this disaster of an ending to her character at the very least a decent one. Something resembling a showdown of epic proportions that befit a legendary character.

“How the hell am I supposed to let you go, Becca?” she silently mused while taking tentative steps around her neighborhood. Just thinking about killing Becca off is making Allie nauseous. How then can she actually put into words an ending that she herself can’t even get behind?

Allie found herself standing in front of the bus stop, her mind racing, her head pounding and just overall defeated. The bus stop was empty except for the young teenage girl with her headphones on and her nose buried on a book on the far right. 

“Paperback?” Allie curiously said. It’s been a while since she saw a teen actually reading a paperback instead of their usual mobile phones or tablet. “Old school. Awww.” she smiled to herself. For a brief moment, Allie was taken back to the time where she was that young girl, carrying the weight of the world on her frail shoulders and finding solace and escape in the pages of second hand books. A sad sigh escape her now trembling mouth. 

When the bus came, she allowed the teen to get in first who took a seat on the last row of the bus. Allie opted to sit somewhere near the door as the bus had only a few passengers on.

Looking out through the window, she let her mind wander on the task at hand - what the possible scenario of the showdown would be. Should Becca be shot and would she be able to get some shots in too? Or is she going to be bludgeoned to death? Should the Governor murder her with her bare hands? How much blood? How little gore? Will they opt for blood splatters or just artistic stains after the fact? She shuddered at the thought.

“Damn it! I know, I shouldn’t be watching Tarantino films before sleeping” she cursed at herself. All these thoughts about blood were making her even more nauseous. 

Staring back outside, she noticed that the bus stopped to a familiar neighborhood that Allie has not visited for a while. It took some time for Allie’s mind to engage, hearing the bus closed the door signaling that it’s already leaving this particular stop after the passengers have alighted, she immediately stood up and in her haste to get out, accidentally bumped her head to the handrail.

Out of impulse, she said sorry to the handrail and turned to face the driver to apologize to him but as soon as she turned her head, the driver was already belting out a hearty laugh, clearly amused at her profound respect for the handrail. He was waving his hand to signal Allie to just go while his other hand was pushing the button to open the automatic doors. 

Out of sheer embarrassment, Allie sprinted out of the bus and when the bus left her on the sidewalk, she let out a nervous laugh. 

“I’m an idiot” she said out loud all the while still rubbing her right temple where her head kissed that sweet sweet handrail. 

Allie started walking towards East, this was her old neighborhood, her foster home just a few blocks away. She walked the familiar path, remembering the first time she was brought here from the hospital. Her eyes are now a bit misty, as though she was still that scared little 16 year old girl who just lost everything and was forced to a new home. 

She looked around, seeing that some places remained the same; the small park with a quaint play area with swings and decent benches, the old abandoned mansion at the edge of the block which according to the locals was a haunted house and where the kids would tease each other in testing how brave they were by measuring how far one can walk towards the main door before getting scared and would run back to the safety of their friends, not that she ever tried to or had friends to begin with. 

And some places, like the small public library where Allie would spend most of her days after school, was now turned into a modern library cafe, “ Your one stop shop for book lovers and coffee drinkers alike” as inscribed in the logo at the front entrance. 

Walking inside, the cafe kept the original one floor structure with high ceiling of the old library. The wooden shelves and dilapidated walls were now replaced with industrial shelves and a rustic brick wall interior. The massive floor space was split into three areas – the coffee shop at the left side near the entrance, the right side was split into two – the front being the reading and lounge area, with wooden long tables, short round ones and two-seater couches spread to make the stay feel a bit like home. The back area was where all the books are kept, housed in industrial type shelves with the old school card catalogue system still in place at the corner. 

After thirty solid minutes of looking around, browsing through the books, taking a few photos of things that made this cafe feel both refreshing and reminiscent of old times, Allie finally got her coffee and a slice of cake and settled herself at one of the empty short round table at the far corner for a bit of privacy. 

After settling down, Allie took this time to finally make a major dent with her writing. Being back in her old neighborhood gave her that push she so desperately needed to give Becca the best possible ending that she deserves to have.

She was reminded why she wrote Becca Smith to begin with, her struggles, her pain and her relentless passion. Allie kept typing, forming words, phrases, paragraphs faster than her hands can keep up and when she finally took a breather, she noticed that the cafe has been almost empty. 

From the corner of her eye, Allie sees a flash of curly brown hair skimming through the shelves seemed to be confused and looking for a particular book. Her face seemed familiar, Allie thought, but couldn’t place the face anywhere in her jumbled mind. As she stared at the girl trying to recall where she’s seen her before, a bald burly man in black peacoat approached the young lady.

He seemed friendly enough at first and the young girl politely ended the conversation and continued with her search but the man was very persistent. Looking at the girl’s face Allie was definite that the girl was uncomfortable in this man’s presence. After waving him dismissively to leave her alone this creepy old guy can’t seemed to take a hint. He took it further though and tried grabbing for the young girl’s arm but the girl was quick on her feet and moved back from reaching distance. In that split second moment, a fuming Allie bolted out of her seat ready to raise hell to this horrible predator.

She approached them slowly calculating her next move. This guy could be violent and worst could be carrying a weapon, so Allie did what her gut feeling told her to do.

“Ashley! There you are! We’ve been looking all over for you!” she announced loudly startling the creepy stranger and the young teen at the same time. The girl looked terrified and Allie tried communicating with her through her eyes to just go with it.

The man turned around to look at the lady who interrupted his little game and sized Allie up.

“Uhm Aunt Lexa! Yes! Yeah sorry I got side tracked.” she said with a slight tremble in her voice and moved quickly to Allie’s side.

Allie took out her phone and pretended to be talking to someone on the other line. 

"Got her Matt, uh huh. Yup, she's here!" she stepped closer to the young girl as though she'd done this a million times before, giving that one improv class she attended a run for their money.  

“Is there anything we can help you with?” She addressed the man with a pointy tone, her phone on standby in case she actually needs to call for help. 

“Cause my brother, her dad” she started pointing sideways to the girl “Is on his way here. Maybe he can help you.” she continued.

Visibly rattled, the creepy man spoke hurriedly “No I’m good! I’m late for something anyway.” and quickly made his way out of the shop. 

Allie kept her eyes on the creep as he exited the shop and crossed the street. When she was satisfied that he was gone she turned around and was suddenly engulfed in a tight hug.

Allie released a sigh of relief and hugged the clearly terrified girl tightly. She doesn’t know who this girl is but she already feels an overwhelming need to protect her at all costs.

“It’s alright, I got you” she whispered softly to the young girl that she already feels a bond with. They hugged for some time and when the young girl finally let go, Allie ushered her to the table she was occupying earlier.

“Can I get you anything? Do you want me to call anyone?” she asked worriedly at the young girl who was scrambling to wipe the tear stains on her eyes and face.

“Uhm I’m okay. Thank you for helping me out” the young girl finally replied in a soft voice.

“I knew what I had to do. My mom, well, she taught me how to handle assholes like those but when he tried to grab my hand, I just froze. I got scared and I didn’t know what to do anymore” she explained with the hint of shaky treble in her voice.

“It’s alright, okay? You are safe now. Creeps like those, they prey on women they think are alone but we girls stick together you know, Girl Power! Wuhoo!” Allie exclaimed and made a much too exaggerated fist pump into the air making the girl laugh nervously at her antics.

Humor. Allie’s superpower. The hazy tension that was covering the air moments ago now was slowly dissipating because of Allie’s talent of making things light with humor. She can’t help it and right about now the young girl's easing up a bit and breathing calmly. 

“I’m Allie by the way not Lexa. Not that I’m complaining, Lexa is a total badass name” she chatted the girl even more to try and get her to relax after that horrible experience.

“Okay let me guess” she continued, “either you're heavily into Brazilian pop music or hmmm” she looked sideways contemplating on what to say next “You watch that scifi show The 100 and you think I’m Lexa com Triku” she said knowingly.

And just like that, the almost silent room was now filled with the girl's laughter and Allie can’t help but laugh along with her. 

“I panicked. It’s the first name that came to my mind and yeah I was watching halfway through Season 3 last night. Must be why it was floating in my mind and between me and you I’m rooting for Lexa and Clarke. I’m Debbie by the way”

Allie opened her mouth to say something about the show but closed it again in the last minute; opting not to spoil the show for the young girl who now has a name, Debbie.

“I actually know who you are. Well… kinda” Debbie continued looking at the puzzled face in front of her.

“What do you mean? H-How? Allie replied almost instantly. She has definitely seen this girl before but the how and where still eludes her.

“You’re the Handrail Whisperer?” Debbie said with a smug grin.

“I’m the what now? Allie asked confusedly.

“You know, the lady who talks to handrails after bumping into them” she said with a small laugh.

And then it hit her. Instinctively, Allie’s hand reached for that soft spot on her head. The girl at the bus stop.

“It was a one-time thing” Allie replied trying to sound hurt but was clearly amused too.

“Sure it was.” Debbie answered with a small grin, the color on her face returning to normal now. 

“It’s not like I go around town talking to lamp post and stuff” Allie said defensively but without bite into it.

“Hashtag You Do You. No judgments. I promise” a still laughing Debbie answered while making a cross hand gesture on her heart.

After a few more humorous exchanges and the duo laughing as though they’ve been friends for ages, the laugh eventually simmered down and Debbie spoke softly.

“Thank you, Allie for what you did back there.” gesturing at the book section of the shop. 

“Also for what you are doing now. I know you’re trying to take my mind off what just happened by doing this so thank you for that too.” she said with a big smile.

“It’s alright kiddo, but I still think that you should tell someone about what happened earlier so you could process it better. Your mom or dad perhaps?” Allie replied sincerely.

“No dad.. just mom and I will I promise” she said almost immediately.

“Mum's picking me up here right about now. She would probably want to meet you after I tell her. She’s visiting a friend. We used to live around here but I was very very young I don’t recall much.” she said her eyes already on the shadow figure coming towards the entrance of the shop.

“I lived around here for a…” Allie was cut mid-sentence because Debbie quickly stood up to welcome the expected visitor.

And as Allie turned her head towards the direction that Debbie sprinted to all she heard was the excited squeal of Debbie calling out “Maxi!”

"Where's mum?" She asked Maxi hurriedly, looking over her shoulders to see if her mom was with Maxi. 

"Oh she's coming, hun. I'm just dropping these off" she gave Debbie a hug and motioned at the bulky document pouch in her hand. 

"Maxi, I'd like you to meet Allie, she's my friend." Debbie introduced the smiling blonde behind her. 

"Hi Allie, oh god I love your hair" Maxi said with a warm smile, shaking Allie's hand softly. 

"Thank you Maxi. Your eyebrows are on fleek, I'm a bit jelly" Allie replied with a bigger smile, already enjoying the company of this warm and friendly woman.  

"Oh god, I love you already." she replied with a hearty laugh. Debbie just loving the warm exchange. 

Just then, Allie's phone vibrated from her pocket. She took it out and read the text message. 

It's ready love, come by for a cuppa before you head out. It's almost five. 

She checked the time, a little over four o'clock in the afternoon. She'd spent most of her afternoon writing, she didn't realise that she was already running late. 

"You okay there hun?" Maxi looked on with concern. 

"I'd really like to stay but I'm a bit pressed for time. She looked at Debbie worriedly. The young teenager nodding in understanding, already closing the small distance between them. 

"It's okay Allie. Thank you, for everything" Debbie hugged Allie tightly, showing her how grateful she is for standing up for her. 

"Take care Deb and nice meeting you Maxi." She quickly gathered all her stuff and placed them unceremoniously inside her bag. She gave them an apologetic smile, waved them goodbye and hurriedly went out, hailing the first cab on site. She can't miss this, not today. 

"Okay, so who's Allie, little missy? Two days in Sydney and you're already making new friends. What's the goss? Maxi inquired, ushering Debbie to their table. 

Debbie filled Maxi in on everything that happened, from the bus stop, the creepy stranger and every little detail that she could recall.  

After a few minutes, Bea walked inside the shop, looking around to see where her daughter was at. Spotting them huddled at the far corner, she walked quietly towards them. 

"What are you two up to?" she asked loudly, startling Debbie and Maxi. 

"Mum, you just missed her!" Debbie got up and kissed her mom on the cheek. 

"Missed who?" Bea asked, confusion etched on her face. 

"Allie!" Debbie exclaimed excitedly. 

That name, again. Allie. Bea's mind automatically locking in on the only Allie she knows, or that matters, that is. 

"Franky's Allie?" she blurts out the first thing on her mind. 

"Franky has an Allie?" Maxi joining in the mix. Franky has an Erica, not an Allie, she quietly mused. 

"No mum. It's a different Allie. It can't be the same Allie, right?" Debbie jumps in quickly. 

"So not Allie Novak then?" Bea confirms, her smile now slowly fading. 

"I don't know, I don't think so." Debbie hesitated and sat down on her chair. 

"Okay, wait. Time out. Mum, I have to run something by you first." Debbie motioned for Bea to take the seat beside her. 

"How about I meet you out front" Maxine stood up and headed out, giving Bea and Debbie a bit of privacy. 

"Mum, it's about Harry. Uhm, you don't have to come with me, and I'd understand perfectly if you didn't want to. It's just that, I need to do this." she stuttered anxiously, playing with her hand in nervous anticipation. 

Bea reached out for Debbie's hands, "It's okay Deb, I'm coming with you." she whispered lovingly. 

"Are you sure, mum?" Debbie tried again. 

“Ready when you are.” Bea insisted. 

 

Just a few blocks aways, Allie just got out of the cab and walked the short pathway towards her mama's house. She opened the screen door and called out, "Ma, I'm here!"

She placed her bag on the couch in the living area and went directly to the kitchen. 

"I'm out back, love." She heard Liz say. She noticed that there are two empty coffee cups on the kitchen counter, Liz must have had company earlier, she thinks. 

As Allie heads out back, Liz greets her with a loving smile, holding a basket full of gorgeous white roses on her hands. Closing the distance she gave her foster mother a tight hug and kissed her on both her cheeks. 

"Thank you Ma, these are lovely" Allie choked up a sob. Her foster mother's thoughtfulness and kindness touched her deeply, going through all these trouble for her. 

"Rebecca would love them." Liz said softly, her eyes in tears as well. 

"Come on, let's get inside. I'll pour you a cup. It's getting pretty late." Liz continued. 

"I got lost in writing again, deadlines pretty steep this time." 

"I'm sure you'll do great, you always do. Not staying then?" 

"I'm afraid not, I have to go. " she said sadly. 

"Well then, hurry along now, I don't want you staying there until dark." urging Allie on, knowing her, she would stay all night long if she could. 

Allie took the basket from Liz and headed inside the house. Remembering the empty cups she seen earlier, she probes a little. 

"Sofie around Ma?" hoping that Sofie, Artie or Kaiya, her foster siblings might have dropped by for a visit. 

Liz was confused for a moment, Allie pointing at the two empty cups on the counter. 

"Ah, Bea was here not long ago" she said with a smile, handing Allie her bag. 

"Mrs. Smith?" remembering vaguely the name of the generous benefactor that gave her foster mom this lovely home.

"How come I don't remember her at all, Ma?" she asked already half way out the door. 

"They moved overseas shortly after giving us this house. We moved here only a few months before we had you. I haven't seen her in years. She looks beautiful as ever." Liz said fondly. 

"Off you go now, Al. Give Rebecca my love!" waving lovingly at her foster daughter. 

Allie hailing another cab, waving back at her mama before getting in. The cab slowing pulling away from the curb and then sped away towards the highway. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven

Beautiful Stranger

 

There was a slight chill in the air as the sky turned into a dark overcast, a signal for the impending rain. Debbie clutched her jacket tighter over her small frame, to battle the cold that she is now feeling. Trudging carefully over the grass, mindful not to step on the symmetrically aligned headstones over the west portion of the cemetery, she heads purposefully at the far left corner towards a grey tombstone that clearly has not been tended to for years.

Debbie stopped abruptly and let out a heavy sigh. Her heart pounding loudly on her chest and her mind running a marathon of reasons why her feet led her to this place, she almost bolted. 

“Maybe this wasn’t a good idea after all” she mumbles softly, talking to no one in particular.

The curly brunette took a moment, closing her eyes and steadying her breath to calm her nerves. There was a reason she went here, maybe for the last time. She needed to do this not for anyone but for herself, for her sake, for her own sanity.

She exhaled deeply and began opening her brown round orbs. She leaned down, took a small tissue from her bag and gave the flat granite grave marker a clean swipe. She read the inscription on the plate:

Harry Smith
1981 - 2013
Loving son, husband and father. 

Loving? She lets out an audible groan, but regretted it immediately. Even after all this time, Debbie still feels very conflicted about the death of her father. 

Harry was a manipulative husband and a controlling father, and his death brought a massive relief that he can no longer hurt her mum but also a confusing feeling of grief.  

“I don’t want to hate you anymore, Harry” she started, she felt a lump on her throat, choking out a sob.

“I don’t want to carry this burning anger in my heart anymore.” She continued, the tears freely falling from her face.

“You were supposed to protect us, love us – me and mum. But you hurt us. You hurt her, and I was there. I saw everything and I felt weak and scared because I couldn’t protect mum. She tried to hide her bruisings, her hospital appointments but I knew, even though I was still little, I knew you hurt her. And I was scared and I hate you for it.” She spat out with rage in her voice.

“I have a lot of anger in my heart for you, Dad! Harry! Dad! I don’t even know what to call you anymore, you don’t deserve to be called Dad and yet there’s an ache in my heart that I can’t explain.” Debbie exclaimed, and another wave of tears fell from her eyes.  

“I was hoping against hope that one day I’ll wake up and you’ll be the dad that I’ve always wanted you to be. The loving husband to mum and caring father to me. But it never came and that night – that night in the car with mum when you were too drunk and too angry...” she stopped. Choking back the words that she simply can’t bring herself to say. She buried her face in both her hands, trying to control the pounding in her chest. 

Letting out a deep breath, she cleared her throat and wiped her tears away.

“I didn’t come here to gloat or whatever. I came to tell you that mum made it, despite what hell you put her through."

“I needed to tell you all this so that I can move forward with my life without this burden in my heart. I needed to get it out of my system and tell you – or at least the remaining remnants of your existence in this world that you no longer have a hold of my heart. Maybe mum will forgive you one day, but that’s up to her and maybe you will no longer have a hold over her too. Goodbye, Harry.” 

As Debbie turned around to leave, she felt strong arms pulling her to a warm embrace. She looked up to the loving smile of the curly redhead whose brown orbs are now filled with tears. She held on to her mum as though her very life depended on it, basking in the warmth and comfort she brings.

“I love you, mum” Debbie said in a soft voice.

Bea held Debbie for a little longer and kissed the crown of her head, “To the moon and back, my little girl”, she replied with an affectionate smile. 

They held each other for a while. Not wanting to leave the peaceful comfort of that moment. They both needed to be here, maybe for the last time, to finally let go of everything that hurt them, every painful memory that the dark shadow of Harry’s existence casted on their lives and finally, let it all go.

After what seemed like an eternity, Bea reluctantly pulled back from her daughter’s embrace and stroke her cheek. 

“You were very brave today, I am proud of you!” Bea said softly to her daughter, placing a soft kiss on her forehead and ruffling her hair. 

“Are you ready to go?” She asked Debbie. Debbie nodded in reply.

“You head on to the car. I will be there in a moment” Bea said to her daughter, nudging her towards the direction of the car park. 

Debbie looked at her mom and understood immediately. She gave her mom a loving smile and walked slowly towards the direction on the car park.

Bea watched Debbie for a few moments and then slowly turned her head to the tombstone of her former husband, Harry. 

Her mind was going berserk, there were a lot of things she wanted to say to Harry. A plethora of accusations, narratives of pain, how much she suffered, how angry she is, how unfair everything was, how much both of them failed Debbie, how far she’s gone, how successful she is and how none of it matters now. 

She cleared her throat and wipe the remnants of tears from her eyes. She has no tears left, not for Harry anyway. She exhaled deeply and spoke softly.

“I thank you for Debbie, that’s about the only good thing that came out of this marriage. We failed her Harry, we could have been the best parents for her. We could have shown her how to love properly, unconditionally – the loving family that she deserved. But we failed her.” A sad sigh escaped her lips. 

“You weren’t strong enough to fight your demons, and I wasn’t strong enough to leave you. But our girl, our Debbie, she is something special. She is strong, stronger than both of us and I’m so proud of her.” she said with conviction, a smile forming in her lips as she think of her precious daughter. 

“If Debbie was brave enough to say her piece, then I’ll be brave enough to say my goodbye. This is the last time I’ll think of you Harry, I’ve been bullied to silence for many years and it took a while to find my voice again. Goodbye Harry.” 

Bea turned around and slowly walked away feeling as though the weight on her shoulders had finally been lifted. For the first time, in a long time, she can finally breathe. 

After the accident that led to Harry’s eventual death, Bea never spoke much about that night, only giving details to the police as much as she can and was able to, after sustaining life-threatening injuries herself and a week of recuperation period at the hospital. 

What was supposed to be a quick three-day film festival and awards night back in Sydney turned into an extended hospital stay. Save for the police authorities, only a handful of people knew of what happened and it wasn't until Bea and Debbie was out of Sydney that the news of the accident broke out. 

She never dared tell anyone about the horrors that she had endured at the hands of Harry. She figured that by burying the memories deep into the corners of her mind, that it would no longer have power over her. It would no longer haunt her nor hurt her.   

She didn’t seem to notice how she would flinch when she hears doors being slammed shut, or how she would clench her fist when loud angry arguments ensues within her earshot.

Bea wasn’t aware that she automatically apologizes for even the smallest of faults, even if she didn’t cause it. Her anxiety will reach all-time peak whenever she sees a missed call notification on her mobile or if she fails to respond to emails or text messages promptly.

The simplest question like “Who are you talking to?” or “Why are you late?” as innocent as it may sound would send Bea in a mild panic regardless of who the question came from.

It took a few years and an intervention by her best friend Franky together with her daughter Debbie for Bea to realize her triggers. After much convincing, she seeked professional help to manage them. 

One of the things that left a major impact on Bea was her ability to write love stories. She struggled so hard to write romantic tropes, she just didn’t have the words for it.

It didn’t stop Bea from writing though. She has an exceptional talent for storytelling even early on. She drabbled briefly in creating and producing documentary films, which earned herself film grants and fellowships abroad and eventually led to international and local recognition and got her name out there but she had strong inclinations for writing mysteries and psychological thrillers. 

Her ability to plot revenge arcs where right and justice prevails in the end gave birth to the first spec pilot that was picked up by ABS Network – the first major television network that took a chance on her.   

Her first call to series, Not The Monster They Made Me Out To Be where she was given the writing credit as Creator and eventually Executive Producer and Showrunner, launched her career. She had to move overseas permanently this time, giving her and Debbie the best opportunity to start over, away from every hurtful memory of her life living with Harry reminded her. 

As she now walked slowly away from the last reminder of one of the painful chapters in Bea’s life, she thinks back on how far she’s gone and how she made it out. She may be broken but not beaten and for that, she feels thankful, lucky even. A new day is dawning and she is finally free.

The air feels different somehow, the cool breeze was no longer sending chills to her but actually refreshes her lungs, stopping momentarily as she breathes in deeply. 

The smell of fresh morning rain on the grass that struck her senses earlier is now replaced with a more calming scent – a soothing one. 

“Roses” she said silently, almost a whisper. As the familiar heavenly scent invaded her nose, she felt lighter and free. Instinctively, she closed her eyes to envelope herself to this moment – making a mental note of what it feels like to be liberated. 

“Inner peace” she silently mused.

“It feels a lot like bathing in roses, tastes like one too” Bea let’s out a chuckle at her own corny joke.

Midway through the laugh, she coughs out roughly when actual petals found its way to her face, her eyes, a few just below her nose and a couple flew right into her mouth. 

She bent her knees slightly, letting the coughing spree takes its course, while still trying to remove the white petals from her mouth.

She looked down and saw that some white rose petals were already gathering at her feet, the strong wind must have blew them away towards this side of the cemetery, she thought.

As she was about to look up, she heard heavy shuffling of shoes hitting the grass at a fast pace hurling towards her. Bea looked up and was greeted by a silhouette of a woman hurrying to help her up. 

Bea stepped back, instinctively but as the light slowly cast its rays on the stranger before her, she saw the most beautiful face that she had ever laid eyes on.

Neither the disheveled blonde hair nor the panicked look coupled with the heavy breathing coming from the beautiful stranger could distract Bea from the bluest pair of eyes that she’s currently drowning in.

And when said beautiful stranger reached for her hand suddenly, everything stopped. 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight

I Walked Right Into That

 

They say when you meet the love of your life, you will see things in a different light. Everything else will pass by like a blur and fade into the background. Your eyes will focus on that one person and that one person alone.

You will see in slow motion the flawless choreography of their movement, the grace in their glide, the perfect rhythm on their lips, calling on you, grounding you. You could almost anticipate every movement as they happen. 

For Bea it was different though, everything simply stopped moving – like being momentarily frozen in time and for a few seconds all she could see is this beautiful face, the ocean blue eyes, those plump and luscious lips, a sexy smirk and that damn beauty mark above her lip.

And as swiftly as the moment came, everything started moving again in an instant. She could hear the soft tones of this beautiful stranger’s voice but it seems to Bea that she’s speaking in a different language because she simply can’t understand a single word. 

“Wh-What?” Bea managed to say, still looking dreamily at the beautiful stranger and trying her hardest to focus this time.

“I’m so so sorry. I didn’t mean to attack you with these.” The blonde responded apologetically with a worried look still etched on her face, slightly lifting the basket on her left hand now half empty of white roses. 

“Ye..yeah. It’s.. it’s.. alright, I’m.. uhm... good” she rambled in a much raspy tone that her usual voice.

Damn throat acting up again, why am I suddenly thristy? Bea silently mused, feeling the dryness of her throat.

The stranger must have noticed too because she twitched slightly and lowered her gaze. It was only then that Bea realized how close the blonde woman was hovering, way too close for comfort but she didn’t seem to mind, not a tiny bit, actually not at all which is weird for Bea.

She doesn’t like people in her personal space let alone a stranger yet for some unknown reason, she doesn’t feel that nagging need to move away.

“Wasn’t your fault anyway, the bloody weather’s in a mood” she continued with a shy smile, her composure slowly gaining momentum.   

“These are for my mom’s but apparently, the wind has other plans” the blonde stranger said in the soft voice followed by a shy smile.

“I’m sorry... uhm.. for your mom” Bea said sincerely, mirroring that shy look on the stranger’s face.

“Thank you, it’s been years though.” she replied with a warm reassuring smile.  

“You honored her memory well with these exceptionally beautiful roses” said the redhead who’s right hand was busy salvaging the roses that are still gathered around her feet and placing them back in the basket on the strangers hand, beaming at her in the process. Bea could feel the warmth creeping on her cheeks, forming a slight blush. 

The blonde stranger is beaming at her too, with that knowing smile and Bea is still confused why she’s smiling that adorable smile right now.

They worked in silence for a few moments, Bea gathering as much as she can with her right hand and this stranger keeps hinting on wanting to say something but just keeps beaming at her instead.

Why is she smiling that way? Bea silently ruminates.

“Except for the choking bit, I’d say I’m glad these beauties found you. I think they’re following the leader.” The blonde started to speak, again with that sly smirk.

“What did you say? Do I look like a ginormous flower to you? Bea asked with a slight laugh, confusion etched on her face. 

“Not the flower part. The beautiful part. You know, beautiful follows beautiful?” the blonde replied hurriedly with a wide grin and a wink.   

“Wa-wait, what?” Bea mumbled nervously, her confusion level's reaching an all time high. 

Is she cracking on to me? Why? No. Not possible. She's definitely not hitting on me. She's just being friendly. Yep, definitely friendly. Bea could almost hear the inner monologue going on in her own head, that’s how loud it was.    

“That was a line. A terrible line, I know” the blonde stranger replied with a nervous laugh, shaking her head, clearly amused by her own epic fail. Her head tilts down a bit but her eyes, wide open, still looking at Bea with that adorable lost puppy face. 

How fucking cute can you get? Bea thinks silently, getting lost in those eyes, yet again. 

“I..uhm.. I honestly wouldn’t know a good one from a horrible one, so feel to try again.” She said immediately, startling herself with her own boldness. What the fuck did I just say? Bea silently mused. Did I just flirt back? What the fuck is going on?  

“Someone’s interested?” she replied with a light chuckle, biting her lower lip saucily.

Not one to back down from a challenge, even in an less awkward, more adorable little flirting game going on, and although she’s turning all shades of red right now, Bea just had to put up a fight. 

She just had to.

Even though losing is inevitable.

Especially with this one. 

But Bea doesn’t know it yet, so she puts up a fight just the same.

“Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t check if “Get Cracked On To At The Cemetery Today” was part of my To Do List” Bea said with a scoff and her own signature eye roll to boot. Stepping in a bit closer to the blonde adopting a challenging stance. 

The blonde opened her mouth to say something but hesitated, releasing a small laugh instead. 

‘So you’re one of those... you know, people who has entire itineraries set up even on their off days. Ever deviated from the plan?” the blonde replied, flashing another charming smile in the redhead’s way.  

“Well, I wasn’t planning on munching on your flowers today but here we are” Bea bites back with  a smug look. Getting spontaneously attacked by white petals, no matter how beautiful they are, really wasn’t part of any of Bea’s itinerary, ever. 

“Oh.. uhm..” the blonde mumbled, clearly taken aback by Bea’s choice of words. She decides right then and there to make her pay for it though. 

“Yeah, well, I’d say I’d let you take me on a nice dinner first before any munching happens but, you’ll never know, might still get lucky” she responded with a sexy smirk.  

“Wait, fuck!” Bea mumbles nervously, stepping back a little. The innuendo finally hitting her full speed. 

“Exactly!” the blonde stranger pounced in, half a second later, sporting her own smug grin. 

“Oh shit, oh god!” Bea exclaims loudly, turning in all shades of red – from scarlet, crimson, cerise, carmine, claret, carnelian to even cherry – in a matter of seconds.  

“I walked right in to that, didn’t I” shaking her head out of sheer embarrassment. 

“Yes. Yes, you did.” She laughed heartily, making Bea laugh too. 

“In my defense, I did intend to let that pass but it was too good to let go” shrugging her shoulders, feigning innocence. 

“Glad to know that you intended to spare me from embarrassing myself but did not actually spare me so yeah... I’d intend to say thank you but you know... not” Bea pushed back, her face still slightly scarlet. 

“So this is it huh?" the blonde asked smugly, the cogs in her head already in full throttle. 

"This is what exactly?" a look of confusion and hues of red still etched on Bea's face. 

"You know, in movies, the how-we-met part. Our grankids are gonna swoon. I just know it." she teased. 

Bea let's out a soft chuckle. Why is she talking about movies? And why do I find it so damn cute? She ponders quietly. She can't seem to help it with her.

“Except maybe we’re in the middle of a cemetery, you visiting your mom and me, visiting my ex husband. Doesn’t get any more romantic than that. ” she continued, with a closed lipped smile and her left eyebrow slightly raised.

“Didn’t say it was conventional though. If this was a show, I’d watched this.” the blue eyed blonde chuckled softly. 

“I’d pay to watch it too, just to see how it pans out.” Bea gushed, a light blush forming on her face again. 

"So grandkids? I don't know, I see a couple of red flags right there. Too damn fast for a first meeting tsk tsk tsk" Bea jabs a little, shaking her head with a smug grin. 

"Life is too short, like literally, look around" she urged, circling her index finger in the air, the distinct location of where they are now, giving Allie's dark humor the necessary context. 

Bea lets out a hearty laugh. She can't help laughing at this adorable wise-ass  who keeps landing her joke, flawlessly on her. 

Allie giggled too, a blush forming on her face as she looks at the beautiful redhead having a good laugh with her. I could do this all day. She high fives her innerself proudly. 

After the laughing fit died down, they fell in to another comfortable silence, stealing shy glances at each other. Only to be broken by the continuous buzzing of Bea’s mobile phone. And like in a dream sequence, Bea was taken back down to earth by sudden realization that Debbie and Maxine were still waiting for her, in the carpark. 

“I have to go, this was... nice” she said hurriedly, her mind already in a slight panic. 

“This was nice for me too... Uhm.. I hate to ask but... c-can I have my hand back?” the blonde stranger lifted her right hand that was still held tightly by Bea’s left. 

The request seemed odd at first but when Bea looked down on her left hand, the realization finally hit her. She was holding her hand… the whole damn time.

She reached for her to help her up. 

And Bea clung on to that hand.

When she was salvaging the roses.

When she talked about her Mom.

When she said she was beautiful.

When she cracked onto her.

When she said it was their how-we-met. 

She held on, the whole damn time and she didn’t even flinch.

Feeling a full on panic starting to rise, she let go of the blonde’s hand and gave a small smile. Bea was too embarrassed to say anything more. 

She walked away towards the direction of the car park. She couldn’t look back even though every single part of her being wanted to, even if every step away feels like a dagger poking at her chest and even her thundering heart is telling her to stay, but her mind is too far gone, and so she walked and kept walking. 

When she finally reached the carpark, she saw Maxine was on her phone standing beside the car while Debbie's waiting inside. She smiled wordlessly at Maxine and went inside the driver seat, Maxine getting inside the car at the same time. 

Debbie reached out for her mom’s hand, thinking that she was still feeling a bit raw after saying her piece to Harry. Maxine had a worried look on her face too.

They didn’t know that what she’s feeling right now is for an entirely different reason, more specifically for an entirely different person.

It suddenly dawned on her, “Why the fuck did I walk away?” she said abruptly, startling the two passengers in the car.



It all happened so fast, for a hot minute there, Allie was walking towards the east side portion of the cemetery, already in deep thought of everything that she needs to share and on her hand, bearing the gift of the most beautiful white roses and then the next thing she knows, she's frantically chasing after them as the wind takes her on a unexpected but not at all unwelcomed detour, or maybe actually leading her to something important - someone important. 

The entire exchange feels like a dream, and only when she sees the beautiful redhead walking away from her did her world came crashing down, and boy did it crashed down hard. 

She felt a sadness, an overwhelming pang of pain watching someone, this particular someone, walk away from her.

Watching the distance between their bodies expand, and feeling helpless to stop her or make her stay.

She felt rooted on the spot, clutching her chest as she tries to sooth this nagging pain away. Why am I feeling this way? Allie thinks. 

After what seemed like an eternity, Allie slowly made her way to the east side. She heads directly to that familiar bronze plated headstone and plops down on the grass.

A bouquet of fresh white tulips has been placed neatly beside the plate by someone and Allie has a pretty good idea who it might be from. 

"That was all you, mom right?" she reached inside her bag for some tissues to clean the headstone with. 

“Leading me to that hot woman, great choice by the way.” she continued, swiping the flat bronze clean. Her mother's name now glowing clearly with the sunlight. 

 

In Loving Memory of 

Rebecca Novak

1973 - 2011.

 

“So, redhead, I dig the vibe. She’s way out of my league though mom, you’ve seen her! ” she traced the embossed writing of her mom's name with her fingers. 

"I always knew you’d be a great wingman, well, erm.. wing woman with wings." she let's out a hearty laugh, fidgeting with the basket with her fingers. 

“Happy Birthday mom! I didn’t want to miss this, sorry I was late. I helped a kid today. She reminded me of a younger me. Ma sends her love and these flowers" she placed the basket beside the headstone, picked three single stemmed roses and neatly placed them on top of the marker. 

"The networks k-killing off B-becca mom" she stuttered, her eyes on the verge of tears. 

Allie shook her head. "I feel like I'm losing you all over again." 

She let's out a heavy sigh, "I am comforted, though very little that I got to share your story to the world. We'll some of it, not everything that we've aired were the complete picture but atleast some of the narratives were relatively accurate. And now that they've decided to go in this direction, I don't know how to let you go again mom. " she sobbed softly, the full weight of the pressure that she has been feeling in the past week now just pouring out. 

After a short while, Allie calmed down, feeling a little lighter after that crying fit. It was a release she didn't know she needed. 

"On the bright side of things though, I still have a job, so that's good news right?" she said with a little cheer in her voice."

"Lately mom, I've been having this recurring dream. It's always the same dream though, that night I OD'd, and everytime I do, I remember something new. I don't know mom, I don't know what it means. Maybe a reminder to never go back to that. Or just a reminder that I should visit Kaz soon" she reached for the bouquet of tulips, and placed it beside her white roses. 

"It's from Kaz right? She never forgets." she smiles at the thought. 

"It's very trippy at this point but, it is what it is, I guess." She said calmly now, marveling at the little flower arrangement she fixed for her mom.  

"Honestly mom, is my love life this messy that I needed actual divine intervention?" she chuckled, remembering the hot beautiful redhead that has got her heart racing from the moment she laid eyes on her. 

"She is so beautiful mom, I-I can't stop smiling just thinking about her. Those intense brown eyes, that strong jawline and that voice… I'm a mess mom. A total mess. " she confessed, leaning back a little to look at the sky. 

And then it hit her. That voice. It can't be. 

"Was that Red?" she whispered. "No, it can't be." shaking her head in disbelief. 

"Or can it? Nah. I don't think so" she thinks a loud. 

"But I messed it up mom, I think I came on too strong. I can't help myself, with her. I just blurt out the first things that came to mind." she ponders almost regretfully. 

"She was so shy but she was gracious enough to let me ramble but mom, come on, her word choices are just, so so so adorable and when she blushes I swear, I die a little every single time." she sighs contently. 

"When she said To Do List, it took all the strength I had to stop myself from saying You… I'd like to do YOU" she gushed, her fingers fidgetting with the rose petals. 

"And then she said munching. I mean come on!" her hands flailing in the air as she laughed loudly, remembering how much the redhead turned into all shades of red after catching on. 

"She was holding on to me mom, and between you and me, I selfishly held on to her too. I couldn't let her go." she ponders quietly on each time that she wanted to say something to the redhead about her hand but decided against it. I wanted it too, she thinks, and let's out a heavy huff. 

"And when she left, I felt like her every step away from me was a jab, a heavy stomp at my heart. It felt different." she said with a sad sigh, clutching her chest, checking if her heart was still there because it feels empty somehow. 

Allie looked up, the sky was already turning dark and she needs to leave soon. 

Allie stood up, unceremoniously and patted her jeans and her jacket to remove the grass and dirt that clung to it while she was sitting comfortably on the grass. 

"I miss you everyday mom, I'll see you soon." she said sofly, giving the grave a flying kiss before she left. 

"And mom, thank you for that beautiful stranger." she said quietly and continued her walk towards the direction of home.

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine

I See You Everywhere

 

The drive back to the hotel was quiet, a little bit too quiet for it to be considered normal. Save for Bea's sudden outburst that left both Debbie and Maxine wondering what transpired in the few minutes that Bea was left alone, it was literally crickets afterwards. 

Both Debbie and Maxine didn't want to push her to talk though, not when she's sporting this look. That tight-lipped smile, the far away look on her face, and twice the normal amount of times of sideways head tilting while her hand instinctively reaching for her nape, in the motion of stretching. That look. 

They know the look. They've seen that look. And it usually means, Bea is ruminating, Bea is not ready, Bea needs time. 

Dinner was a bit different though, Bea was engaging for the most part of the conversation, often checking in on Debbie. Their visit with Harry, although liberating, was probably hard on her young daughter and no matter how confusing her inner battles right now might be, Debbie always comes first.

Debbie excused herself for an early night, giving Bea and Maxine some peace and quiet while they attend to some work related stuff. 

"How about this line, do we need to change anything here?" Maxine asked her already distracted boss, sitting next to her at the dining table of Bea and Debbie's hotel suite.

Maxine's voice pulling Bea back down to earth. She looked confused at first and then realize that they were knee deep in paper work that the network has "kindly" sent Bea. 

She reached for the script that Maxine was referring to, and read quietly.

 

INT. - TRAIN STATION - CAR 8 - Night

JODIE leaning on the handrail nearest the automatic doors. Over the shoulder shot of JODIE looking out the window. Head tilts from side to side. Suspicious. On high alert. 

EXT. - TRAIN STATION - Continuous

The train stops. Wide shot and tracking shot of JODIE stepping out of the train. JODIE looks up and sees EVE staring directly at her on the platform. EVE closes the gap. 

EVE
Why don't you stop running? 

JODIE looks at her nervously. Alert. Ready to bolt. 

EVE
Stop running. Damn it! 

Before Jodie makes a run for it, Eve tackles her to the ground. And Jodie let's her. She doesn't put up a fight. Their eyes meet. 

JODIE
I surrender.

 

Bea imagines the scene as accurately as it was written. She sees Jodie - long blonde hair, tired green eyes, the moon casting dramatic yellow hues on her face. Her head looking around the empty train in the middle of the night. Her eyes in deep thought. 

She sees the train stop but it was no longer Jodie who stepped out. Jodie was no longer Jodie. Jodie is now a curly redhead with brown piercing eyes, still sporting an intense look, that tight lipped smile, clenching her jaw. Hands inside her jacket pockets. 

Bea looked at the platform and she sees her, no longer Eve - the curly haired brunette, but a familiar blonde stranger with blue eyes and a kind smile, that warm smile, slowly melting her stone cold heart. 

And then it happened, the blonde tackles her to the ground. And for the first time, she didn't struggle. She didn't even try to wriggle her way out. There's no resistance, no fight left in her. A willing captive, in utter and complete surrender. 

And then she's back again, in the dining room with Maxine beside her. She scribbles almost immediately, thoughtfully. Her eyes on the verge of tears. 

She stood up abruptly, nods at Maxine and heads for the bathroom. 

Maxine took the script and immediately read what Bea wrote. She hung back a bit, scratching her head in confusion, trying to understand the sudden change in her boss. 

She read it again, still a tiny bit shocked. 

There was a striked out portion in the last part and Bea's hurried handwriting on the marginal notes.

And for a second there, as I let my eyes linger at your loving gaze, I felt, for the first time, what's it like to belong, in your arms, with you.

Maxine was confused, in all years that she's worked for Bea, she never once wrote anything even remotely romantic. Her approvals on love arcs including dialogues are simply met with "Yes or revise" never actually writing a revision for these types herself. 

Something has changed, she feels it too. And this change is welcomed, she deserves it more than anyone. 

It was almost 8pm when Bea called it a night. The day has been a rough roller-coaster ride and she's totally spent. Bea walked Maxine out the hotel, the fresh air might do her good, she thinks. As they stepped out, Maxine's phone vibrated. She took it out and read the message. 

"Bea, that thing you asked Rita to look into? She wants to meet in person." she looked on at her boss who seemed to be contemplating something. 

Bea stopped walking and replied almost immediately. "Okay, set it up." 

Maxine nodded in understanding. After a while they said their goodnights and Bea heads back up to their suite. 

She checked on her daughter first, seeing that the young girl was already fast asleep, the day really did took a toll on her too. She walked over to her bed, gave Debbie a soft kiss on her forehead and whispered I love you to her sleeping baby. 

Bea heads to her room and flung herself onto the bed. There's a lot to process in one night, sleep would offer her mind the needed reprieve.

Unfortunately for Bea, she fell into a restless sleep that was disturbed long before dawn.

If a person looks up the word restless in the dictionary, one would see a definition more or less worded this way: unable to rest or relax as a result of anxiety or boredom; a state of constant activity or motion, offering no physical or emotional rest. 

But Bea, being Bea, who is anything but a conformist, snagged the very definition of restless, turned it inside out, took it to a whole new level, and is now a mere nudge away from forcing Oxford to make a footnote on the very definition that would fit perfectly Bea's predicament right now. 

Rest. less. (add.) The state of Bea Smith's mind as she struggle to deconstruct her feelings, hours after meeting the love of her life. The direct result of fighting against overwhelming feeling of love, longing and finding home instead of simply surrendering. 

She stayed in bed though and kept her eyes closed, willing for sleep to take over but her mind is still miles away. 

She thinks of the sea, the calm and tranquil scenery it gives. From the slow rustling of the winds to the bluest color of the water. Enveloping her. Taking her away. Slowly lulling her. 

And then the blue takes over, no longer of the sea but she sees a pair of eyes, with the divine light from the sun correctly bringing out the perfect shade of blue, from cornflower, cyan, cerulean, and sapphire eyes of the beautiful stranger. And then that smile, how breathtaking she looks when she smiles, with her eyes.

"WHAT?!?!?" Bea sat up, unceremoniously. Eyes wide and staring into space.  

“Why her again?” she whispers in the dark. 

“Ugh!” she groans loudly, looking at the clock resting comfortably on the night stand, blinking angrily in red: 2:37 am.

“Too fucking early!” and flops back down. She puts a pillow over her face, in a desperate attempt to hide from her own thoughts but soon realise that it was futile to hide from her own mind. 

She stubbornly tries anyway.   

She sat back up again.

"It's the pillows, it's too uhm lumpy!" she said out loud, reaching over and grab the one that's on her head and starts squeezing it, beating it with her hand and just fluffing it like crazy. 

"So soft and white, she thinks" like feathers, flowers, roses. White roses, beautiful roses, like the ones that attacked her today. 

"Fucking hell!" She groaned, catching herself mid thought, again about the beautiful blonde with that adorable smirk. 

"I can't seem to shake this, what's wrong with me? She mumbled, rubbing her temples, anticipating an incoming headache from all this resisting. 






A few blocks away, Allie was also having a restless night. Sleep claiming her briefly but can't seem to go back to sleep now. 

She keeps getting abruptly woken up by her dream. And it's always the same one. 

 

Allie hears ambulance sirens. It starts out muffled, from a distance. And then nearer and nearer. 

She pries her eyes open but it's painful. Everything is blurry. 

She could see white round lights blinding her vision. An IV bag hanging from above her. Everything is moving. 

Allie hears the voice of a woman, "Unresponsive. ETA about 10 minutes"

She looks around, she's inside the ambulance. A medical equipment above her and an empty stretcher on her left. 

She grunts back to life and a woman in uniform rushes to her side, the paramedic, she thinks. "Ma'am can you hear me? " and then blacks out again. 

She feels the ambulance swerve harshly and the frantic voice of the paramedic asking for help. "We had an accident off freeway 25. We need backup ambulance. She won't make it. Please hurry." 

Allie jolts her eyes open, still blurry but she noticed that the stretcher on her left is no longer empty. Occupied now by an unconscious man wearing the same uniform as the paramedic, she wanted to reach out but passed out again. 

She wakes up again, "I can drive" she hears faintly somewhere outside and then everything started moving again. Allie blacks out. 

 

Allie wakes up finally, her hear thundering wildly on her chest. It took her a few seconds before she recognize her own room. She's safe now. It was just a dream. 

She bolted out of the bed with the kitchen as her destination. She took a bottle of water and drank hurriedly, as though she's been running a marathon. From the corner of her eye, she noticed the clock, 2:37 am. 

"It's too damn early" she grumbled softly and made her way back to the bedroom. 




Bea woke up for the nth time that morning, she looked at the time. 5:00 am. 

If sleep won't take her, might as well start her day early. 

She dashed out of the bed, remembering that there's a decent park in front of the hotel, she decides that a morning run is in order to shake whatever it is that's bothering her so much. 

She looked at her mobile phone, noticing that she has a few messages, mostly about work but Franky and Debbie were the messages she was interested the most. 

 

Franky
Red, my place tonight @ 7pm. Small gathering in thy honor. Deb's in. Can't say no this time, or ever. I'm inviting some friends from work, just to sweeten the deal for you a bit. 😉😜

 

"Jesus! I'm gonna kill her. I don't fucking care." Bea grumbles, annoyed mostly but the fire in her voice might still be deadly. 

She checked her daughter's message next. 

 

Debbie
Mum, I made an 80s playlist. Might use it for my channel, can you check it out please? This is more your field.
Thanks mum! Love you. 😘https://open.spotify.com/playlist/587fhfd

 

She left a note at Debbie's side table, and kissed her daughter's head before she heads back to her own room to change. 

Bea quickly rummaged her luggage for something comfortable to wear. As they have only arrived a few days ago, most of her clothes have yet to be organised in the closet. 

She settled for the blue rounded neck polyester racer back that fits her perfectly, showing off her toned arms and the sexy silhouette of her ample bosom, pairing it off with a black fitted three-quarter running tights that accentuates her slender hips and the rounded curve of her backside. 

She pulls out one of her favorite teal running jacket, this gorgeous nylon lightweight number with elasticated cuffs and reflective trims.

It's one of the official Our Hot Little Secret merchandise that was given to the staff and crew to commemorate their season one success. 

Bea let's out a soft amused grunt as she reads the personalised jacket label that was woven at the left inside pocket for this particular merch. Instead of seeing the usual brand tag and washing restrictions for the jacket, the design team made this one special for their top boss. 

Made from caffeinated blood,
mermaid sweat & unicorn tears. 

For our badass boss, Bea 

ourhotlittlesecrettv.com

 

The thought made her smile. Her team really had that perfect sense of humor making their work dynamics easy, well, less chaotic than normal. 

She put on the jacket to complete the ensemble and checked herself in the mirror. She opted to just tying her hair in a messy bun, showing off her shave sides since it will be easier to manage while running. 

With one last look, she checked her phone, airpods, card, wallet and a small towel that she neatly tucked in her jacket pocket, she heads to the park. 

 

The cool morning breeze was a refreshing welcome as soon as she stepped out of the hotel doors. It is still quite dark and from the distance of the lobby, she could already see that the park was paved and well lit, enticing her to do her morning run there. 

The shops around the area are still closed except for the 24/7 coffee place on the corner, making a mental note to check it out after her run, she carefully crossed the street towards the entrance of the park. 

As Bea entered the park, a cold morning breeze swept past, rustling the leaves from the nearby trees, allowing them to freely fall on the pavement, leaving a crackling and crunching sound under her shoes as she stepped on them.

The air was a bit chilly, and at this early hour, it was still quite dark but the lamp posts that are scattered abundantly around this gated garden offers a sense of security and adequate lighting. The walkway curves nicely, following the unique contour of the man-made lake that's placed right smack in the center of this little haven. 

From where Bea was standing, she can see the other side of the park - the north entrance, where a quaint jungle gym complete with slides and swings were constructed. The landscape was planned quite nicely, with trees planted brilliantly lining the edges, offering the necessary shade to passers-by. 

She inhales sofly, allowing the air to fill her lungs completely, surrendering her mind and body to this needed reprieve, and then she exhales loudly. 

Remembering Debbie's playlist, she decides to give it go. 80s music is her jam anyway and thinks its the perfect score on this early Sunday morning run. She clicked on the link and shortly, the first song played as she was starting with her stretches. 

Soft piano music plays and then she hears the words. 

 

I get lost, in your eyes, and I feel my spirits rise and soar like the wind, is it love that I am in? 

 

"Really, Deb? Really?" ugh she groans and laughs out loud, shaking her head in disbelief, a blush forming in her face even though there's no one around.

She sees her, of course it's her, again, in her mind. Beaming at her with those blue pair of eyes, grounding her almost immediately. 

"Fuck it! Fine!" she huffs, there's no point resisting if her mind stubbornly wants to think about her, she's tried the entire night  to bury the damn thing.

The only tactic left in her playbook is to just go with it, and with nothing to lose and no one else knowing, she let's herself get lost in that sweet voice, those beautiful eyes and that breathtaking smile, with the music guiding her along, like a steady compass. 

She starts walking, slow and in soft cadence, finding her pace and little by little, her peace. 

 

I don't mind not knowing what I'm headed for, you can take me to the sky. It's like being lost in heaven when I'm lost in your eyes.

 

Bea starts humming to the tune. Letting herself be taken to the moment. 

Finding a good rhythm, Bea starts running, in a steady and strong pace. It was a good start and the next few songs were sending her good vibes and adding a little pep on her step. 

Another song starts to play, a familiar one at that. The beats of the bass starts booming, softy at first and then the words hit home. 

 

Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick and think of you. Caught up in circles, confusion is nothing new

 

Bea let's out a booming laugh yet again, the face of that beautiful blonde stranger is all she could think about now.

Either her daughter is messing with her again or the universe is just telling her oblivious self to stop resisting and let go. 

She starts running, synchronising her cadence with the rhythm of the song.

 

If you're lost you can you look and you will find me. Time after time

 

She quickened her pace, gaining momentum with each loud thud. Her thoughts frantic, her mind racing faster than her feet can keep up.

She sees her image, fragments of her smile, jumbled pieces of her eyes, she hears that soft melody of her voice, her sweet laugh, sending wild tremors starting from her ears and exploding loudly inside her heart. 

Bea slowed down her pace, catching her erratic breath. In her concentration she didn't notice that she's reached the other side of the park, the jungle gym giving it away and from this angle, looks like it was just recently renovated.

Now just brisk walking, she wipes the sweat off her face and neck.

She looked around, the sky already in its early morning blue hues and from the corner of her eye, she sees a flash of blonde hair on the other side near the south entrance.

She double takes, thinking that her mind is playing this nasty trick on her eyes but when she looked again, there she is, standing in all her gorgeous glory, looking around with a worried expression on her face, seems to be waiting for someone. 

And before her mind could fully engage, her feet is already sprinting to get to her. Her shoes pounding heavily on the pavement, each step taking her closer and closer to where her heart wants her to be. 

She speeds up, silently cursing the architectural design of the park, why couldn't they have built a damn bridge over the lake to connect the North side from the South? Now she has to complete the other side of the trail to get back to the entrance. 

Bea can already feel the strain in her legs but she kept pushing on, it was pure adrenaline coursing through her veins thats fueling this crazy quest.

And when she finally made it to the entrance of the park, she slowed her pace and looked around, once, twice, thrice.. the beautiful blonde was no longer there. 

Utterly shattered and deeply disappointed, she huffs out a heavy howl. She kept moving though, abruptly stopping after that high intensity run would be a greater health risk so Bea continued with a slow pace, almost walking now.

She didn't take another lap, just paced back and forth near the entrance, chastising her mind for playing tricks on her yet again. 

She can feel her lungs burning as she keeps breathing heavily - huffing, puffing, grunting, trying to increase the air in her system.

With all the running and her mind spiralling - expending this much physical and mental energy, it was nothing short of a miracle that she hasn't passed out yet. 

"Water break?" a voice from behind her offered. The same soft rhythmic voice that's been swirling around her head and messing with her heart. 




It was half past four in the morning when Allie woke up again. Realizing that she can't go back to sleep anymore, she reluctantly got out of bed and head directly to the bathroom. 

She showered quickly, deciding finally that she'll just get an early breakfast at an 24/7 coffee shop just a few blocks away.

It was Sunday after all and she's in no mood to cook for herself and besides, the fresh air might do her some good. 

She went to her closet and was just standing there, contemplating what to wear for a good five minutes. 

"This will do" she picked finally, a fitted light blue denim jeans, perfect for her long slender legs and a pink cotton jumper - that immaculate shade that makes the blue hues of her eyes vibrantly pop, her go-to look when she feels like going for a more comfortable ensemble versus a stylish polished get up. 

Checking her phone, she saw a few message notification from Vera, Derek and Boomer but what caught her attention was that of Franky's. She opened it immediately. 

 

Franky
Red's coming over tonight, be here and scrub up a little. Don't bail on me this time, flakers grow a third nipple. There I said it. 😜👀

 

"Pfft" she scoffs loudly, while simultaneously looking down at her own chest. 

"I'm okay with my two, thank you very much!" she mumbled under her breath. 

Catching one last look on the mirror, she picked up her keys, wallet and her phone and shoved them in her hand bag and went out the front door.  

 

There's something strangely calming to Allie that early morning walks offer. The experience is liken to being in an alternate universe where the world is hers and hers alone. 

Maybe it's the crisp cold air or the quiet streets, merely illuminated by the soft glow of the overhead lamps that carry a fleeting feeling of solitude, granting a temporary truce from the unforgiving world. 

She kept a slow pace, taking in the scenery of the city that looks entirely different in the dark - mysterious, magical, unraveling.

She passed by early morning joggers running in the dark, tired hustlers coming home from late night shifts and those who hustles even harder to get to their early ones. 

She allowed herself to indulge in this simple quiet thrill, letting her mind wander freely only to be disturbed by the thundering roar of a car speeding past, creating an annoying ripple effect of audible nuisances - starting from the loud siren blaring from a car alarm going off to infants crying in a distance and neighbors hollering profanities from the building apartments. 

It was good until it lasted, she thinks. Nearing the parked car whose alarms are still going off, she noticed that said car had a funny looking bumper sticker that caught her eye. 

It was a drawing of four stick figures that looked like little children, with the inscription below - Grandkids On Board

She let's out a loud cackle - a half snort, half choke laugh, of course she remembers the only person she ever proposed to have grandkids with, that beautiful redhead. 

How Allie can go from totally annoyed to adorably smitten in a single blink is beyond human comprehension but its how she automatically feels as she recalls the face of that beautiful stranger that's awoken something inside her.

She instictively reached for her heart, feeling the loud thundering of her pulse. 

For a short moment, Allie let's herself dream what it's like to share this peaceful morning walk with that beautiful redhead, imagining that she's with her, walking side by side.

Maybe she'll let her hand sway closer to the redheads and maybe said redhead will take the hint and hold Allie, fingers interlaced, as they continue exploring this sleeping city. 

Maybe her shy companion would catch her staring, because Allie definitely will stare, she knows it already, and she wouldn't be able to stop herself too.

And when the redhead finally catches her, she would laugh, that deep, alluring, raspy laugh that she's got going that make Allie's knees wobble a little, igniting mini explosions everywhere, ovaries included. 

Allie smiled at the thought, and then a painful idea struck her like lightning - that while she's dreaming helplessly about this beautiful stranger, the chance that she will see her again is close to none, dampening her jolly mood, in a matter of seconds. 

She lets out a sad sigh. Allie continued walking in silence, when reality hits, it hits hard, relentless and unforgiving. 

 

She reached the coffee shop at about quarter past five. This cozy little nook had a few early morning customers but luckily, manage to secure a small table by the window. 

Tucking in comfortably with her flat white and smashed avocado toast, she feasted quietly and quite contentedly in her own little corner. 

 

"Tall double shot soy latte for Red" Allie vaguely hears the barista say but she heard it just the same and looked up too quickly, it made her a little dizzy. 

 

She was half expecting for a woman to claim the drink on the hand-off plane, but when some random guy took the drink, she almost choked on her own food. 

It took her mind a few seconds to register that first: anyone else can have the same name and second, more importantly, Red is not her actual name - that just some nickname that Franky, kindly baptised "Red" with and hopefully tonight, she'll finally and formally meet.

She got suddenly nervous. The whole thing sounds exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. 

She looks out the window, and for a minute there, she caught a glimpse of a redheaded woman in running gear crossing the street.

She looked again and this time she was sure, it was the hot redhead from yesterday, heading inside the park. She bolted out, hurriedly chasing after her. 

 

She crossed the street and made her way towards the entrance of the park. She looked around, seeing that the redhead was already running.

She paused, looking at the entire park, there was only one running trail and it goes around the lake, which means that the redhead will probably come back, exactly where she is standing right now. 

She let's out a sigh of relief, and now all she has to do is wait. Wait for the redhead to come back. Wait patiently, like a stalker. 

"What? I'm not a stalker" she argues with her own self, chuckling at how much of a prick her own mind sometimes is. 

"Okay, you got this Allie, shoot your shot" she push herself on. Taking deep breaths, the nerves are back again and she can't seem to explain why she's so nervous about it. 

"So what exactly do I do here? What do I say to her? " she asked, pacing the entrance back and forth now. 

"Hi, I saw you running and I followed you" she played out one possible scenario. 

"Okay that sounded stalker-ish." she let's out a nervous laugh. 

"What to do? What do runner's need?" she looked around for inspiration, her face reflecting a worried expression. 

"I got it!" she snapped, experiencing a sudden burst of genius. She exited the park hurriedly and crossed the street back to the coffee shop.

Allie was glad that there was no queue and after quickly grabbing two long blacks and a bottle of water, she heads back hurriedly to the park. 

 

As she enters the park, she intuitively looked on the running trail on her left, expecting that the redhead would probably be on her way back by now but was a little disappointed that there's no sign of her anywhere. 

She must have already circled back, she thinks. 

She walked towards the start of the trail and then she saw her, the hot redhead wearing a teal running jacket and that black tights accentuating her perfect form, wreaking all sorts of havoc on Allie's hormones. 

She saw the redhead was breathing heavily and even from that distance, Allie could hear her aggressive huffs.

She crossed the small distance, placing first the coffee cups on a nearby bench, took the water bottle with her and approached the redhead from behind. 

"Water break?" Allie asked softly, trying her hardest to sound calm but the shaky treble gave it away. 

 

The voice startled Bea at first but as she turned around, she saw her again. That face that won't leave her mind and that voice that makes her heart pound as loud as it is pounding now. 

Maybe it was the adrenaline wearing off or maybe because she has expended all the remaining energy that she has left chasing after her.

Or better yet, maybe it was the deadly combination of lack of sleep, running on empty and that heavy feeling of all the air leaving her entire lungs, but as Bea turned around, she could feel her head falling, her body feeling the full weight of gravity and in that short distance, she felt a warm body, catching her fall. 

"Hey I got you" Allie whispers softly, while holding her so close. Bea's head falling on her right shoulder, Allie's arm wrapping around the redhead's entire frame, holding her up, protecting her with all the strength that she possess. 

And for that split second, something has monumentally changed, something has dramatically shifted, they both felt it at the same time.

Bea letting herself fall and Allie catching her with everything she's got. 

It took awhile for Allie to notice that Bea was mumbling something while her head is still leaning on her shoulder.

Being this close to the redhead feels so natural for her, causing her body to react, from thoughts of adorably sweet cuddles to full on raunchy involving blindfolds and handcuffs, but this is not the time for that, and although Bea's lips is sending shivers down her spine, she has to keep it together.

Serious now, gay panic later, she tells herself. 

"I'm too embarrassed to look up, I'm sorry" Bea mumbles from Allie's shoulder. She can already feel how red her face is.

She just hopes that this blonde won't give her a hard time about passing out on her and at the same time, Bea doesn't really want to move, not when she feels perfectly safe in her arms. 

"Stay forever, I don't mind. You just have to change shoulders from time to time, you know, for balance." sniggering a bit as she whispered to the embarrassed redhead, who's head has now quickly shot up, looking at her with those amazing brown eyes, now full on laughing with her too. 

"How about we take a seat for a while, yeah?" she asked the redhead, ushering her to the nearby bench where she placed the coffee cups a few moments ago. 

Bea nodded, her face still flaming red but somehow she's not so bothered anymore. Allie gave Bea the water bottle, gesturing for her to drink. Bea complied, she really was that thirsty.

They made their way to the bench and sat comfortably close next to each other. 

They sat there in silence, Bea letting her breathing get back to normal and the redness of her face returning to its original color.

Allie was just processing everything that happened in a matter of minutes, from pining over this beautiful woman, imagining just seeing her again and to actually hold her in her arms, though very briefly, it was more than she could have asked for. 

"What's on your mind?" Bea broke the silence first, casting a shy look on the beautiful woman who just saved her from falling, which in retrospect, must have been the remote cause of it to begin with but it wasn't really her fault if Bea feels strongly about her right? How can you fault someone for merely existing? She monologues in her mind. 

Allie wants to say YOU. Every cell in her body wants  to spill her truth - that it's you that's been on her mind, consuming her entire being. 

Don't say it, don't say it, don't say it.   Allie chants repeatedly in her mind, like a mantra. She thinks that by saying you, it's either this woman would find it adorable or downright creepy and she doesn't want to risk it. 

"You!" She blurts out. Damn it! Allie cursed at herself 

"What?" Bea laughs nervously, does she even know how fucking adorable she gets when she's gets flustered like that? Bea thinks as she watched on how quickly this beautiful woman turns from confident to nervous and then back to confident again, half a breath later. 

"I mean, you go first!" Nice save. Smooth. Novak you got this! Allie thinks, congratulating herself in her mind for turning that fail into a somewhat win. 

"So it's like that huh" Bea chuckled, eyeing the blonde suspiciously. 

"What do you want to know" Bea continued, she tilts her head sideways, her hand reaching for her nape, in a motion of stretching, that gesture thing she does when Bea's a bit nervous. 

"Everything" Allie sincerely said, flashing that beautiful smile of hers thats making the heart of the redhead beside her, thump wildly in her chest.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

Save Me From Gravity

 

"Where do I begin?" Bea started softly, nervously, regaining the full functions of her lungs now, but the loud pounding of her heart's still hyperactively beating like the rhymic bass drop of an edm music, making her a bit self conscious. 

Allie must have sensed her hesitation because she slowly shifted her entire posture, from that stiff serious look she's giving Bea, she slowly leaned back on the bench, beaming a sweet smile on her. 

"How about… let's see.. uhm how was your run?" she asked in the sweetest voice that Bea's ever heard with a totally exagerated eyelash batting, her tone dripping with that signature dark humor. 

Bea bursts out a deep raspy laugh, complete with shoulder shaking, hiding her now scarlet face with both of her hands. 

Allie was on a laughing fit too, that contagious staccato chuckling, narrowed eyes and mouth wide open. 

"Dick" Bea spat out weakly, the fire muffled by her continuous laughter. 

I passed out, almost hit my face on the hard pavement and here she is making light of the situation and funny enough, I'm a bit relieved. Bea thought silently, looking on at the blonde adorably laughing beside her. 

"You say dick, I hear hero. I'm cool with that." Allie replied smugly, still chuckling at Bea. 

"And you saved me from what exactly, gravity?" with one eyebrow raised, she asked with that comically smug face, tilting her head left and right like a bobble head toy. 

"Ye-yes, that's uhm me. Saving damsels from forces of gravity. Since '03." Allie buckled at first, melting instantly at that cute facial expression that Bea's giving off, but recovered quickly. 

Clutching the water bottle mindlessly, Bea probed on, "What's with 2003?" 

"Uhm, The Return of the King came out, huge huge hit! Made the bank with that one!" Allie answered the first thing that came to mind. Her eyes focusing on how tight Bea was holding the bottle, her mind flashing an image of what other things the redhead's hands could do. She shook her head, willing for her not so innocent thoughts to go away, as quickly as it came. 

"And it also conveniently, rhymes with gravity" Bea said while simultaneously standing up from her seat and walking away slowly. 

The motion took Allie by surprise, kicking her thirsty thoughts back to her amygdala. She was about to ask Bea where she's going but saw that Bea was disposing the bottle on the nearby trash bin, taking a few seconds to check the right color of the lid to dispose it properly. 

She cares for the environment too, awww . Allie stopped herself from crossing off anymore items in her internal checklist.

Don't go there, get a fucking grip . She tells herself, looking on at Bea who was coming back to sit beside her again. 

"Well that too but, more importantly, Lord of the Rings, am I right? She asked eagerly, her eyes still glued on the redhead. 

Bea snickered a little, her mind already hatching up a plan to rattle her blonde companion who seemed to be fishing for her knowledge on pop culture. 

"So I'm taking, you're not a Tolkien fan?" Allie continued, eagerly waiting for her to answer. 

Please be a fan. Please be a fan. Please a fan. She silently chants, because it matters maybe a little, maybe a lot. 

"It's just that uhm" she cleared her throat, and then kept going. 

"In place of a Dark Lord, you would have a Queen! Not dark but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Treacherous as the sea! Stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me and despair!" she recites, her intense eyes focusing on the flustered blonde. 

"Not sure if I'm a fan enough, though" Bea continued, as she smiled cockily at the shocked blonde beside her whose jaws have dropped on the floor. 

Did she just quote Galadriel?!? No way! Jesus! Mary! Joseph! All the angels and saints! Marry me! Have my children! My body is ready ! Allie is going berserk, internally. All her inner wirings are fluctuating so hard, steam might come out of her ears soon.

"You okay right there, stranger? You look a little flushed." Bea's head inching closer to the blonde, who was still speechless. 

Bea moved a little more, trying to jump start the shocked expression from Allie's face. "How's the hero business going, apart from stalking me?" 

Wh-what? Allie stuttered, the question took her by surprise, rebooting her entire system. 

Bea flashed her a big smile, "I mean you did follow me, yesterday at the cemetery and today here at the park, classic stalker move if I say so myself."

"Hang on! Wait! I am not a… uhm stalker. I happen to be enjoying a quiet Sunday morning at the coffee shop over there." She said matter of factly, pointing at the coffee shop across the park. 

"Sure you are. If I may elaborate, dear stalker." clearing her throat, she continued on. 

"You were having breakfast. This early. On a Sunday. At the coffee shop just right below my hotel. Hmm. If I didnt know better, I'd say that was a stake out. Did you ditch the binoculars somewhere?" her head looking around and finally, pointing her left thumb towards the lake. 

"I-I really wasn't, I-I swear." Allie said almost pleadingly. Did she really think I'm a stalker? Oh god! She said silently. 

"I know, I'm just messing with you." Bea answered in a cheery tone. 

"Oh you want a go, alright, let's go then!" Allie challenged the sniggering redhead beside her. 

"Not to brag but I do have faint-inducing killer looks, breathtaking, to be exact. I have that effect on people, especially redheaded runners in teal, you know, those people." she said proudly, egging the now amused redhead beside her. 

Bea stood her ground too, "That's a small demographic" she said smugly. 

"I call it target marketing" Allie replied almost immediately. 

"You took my breath away, that's how you'll spin this? It's better optics than fatigue, I can tell you that much." Bea adjusted her collar, fidgeting with the jacket zipper. 

"Can't wait to tell our grandkids about this one too." Beaming that adorable smile of hers, anticipating Bea's reaction to what she said. 

Bea looked at Allie, amused and a bit moved because she remembers their conversation. "Oh, you're not kidding about the grandkids thing then." 

"Told you yesterday, life's too short, this is me shooting my shot." she said with new found courage. 

"And what chapter is this in our married life again? What exactly are you going to tell our grandkids? Paint me a picture. Pitch it to me, come on then." Bea responded boldly, flipping the dare back to the cheery blonde. 

"Okay, story time! Wait." Handing Bea her coffee, as Allie took a sip of hers. 

"Just pretend it's hot choco, can't have story time without hot choco. The kids will go nuts." she said with a wink. 

"You thought of everything. What else did you plan, stalker? Bea chuckled. 

"Just drink it, will you? I brought that over from the goodness of my heart." gesturing with her hand for Bea to take a drink. 

"You mean your stalker heart" Bea pushed a little. 

"Just!" Allie spat out, giving her a steely glare or for lack of a better word, her faint attempt to glare but the twinkle in her eyes failing her. 

"Okay. Okay." Bea raised both her hands up in mock surrender. 

Allie cleared her throat, "Okay, story time! It was a cold night." she started in a singsong voice. 

"It's daytime, we are literally basking in the morning sun right now." Bea interrupted, teasing Allie deliberately. 

"Hey it's my storytime, get your own." Allie continued. 

"This was a shared experience." Bea pounced. 

"But you're not the one telling them. Ain't that right, kids? Your other grandma here is being too dramatic right now." Her hand covering her mouth in the motion of whispering over her shoulder, talking to the invisible grandkids that they apparently have. 

"All comments, questions and violent reactions will be entertained at the end of the uhm storytime!" Allie said with finality. Bea nodding in both amusement and compliance. 

"Where was I? Oh yes, it was a cold night. The rain pouring heavily on the streets of Sydney. Dark, wet, deserted. Too dark and too deserted to be considered comforting. A dangerous combination of dread and despair hanging over the air that night." 

"Oh it's a scary story now, I wasn't expecting that" Bea cut in, again, smiling smugly at Allie. 

"Hush! Don't make me lose my train of thought" she hushed Bea, effectively silencing the redhead. 

"There's no sign of human life, just the sound of rain hitting the pavement and the faint sound of metal chains rubbing together from the swings rocking back and forth at the park." she continued, her hands in a gesture of rocking, swaying left, right, left, right.

Bea looked on, watching, waited with bated breath. She let's herself be taken to this alternate universe existing within the four corners of this master wordsmith's mind. 

Allie's voice shifted, almost in a whisper now. Hanging her head lower, Bea mirroring the motion, wanting to catch every word.

"Then from the dark, there I emerge, running from the rain. The steady rhythm of my steps were the only sound that broke the quiet, the stillness of this moment. I, hurriedly, took refuge on the covered bus stop, offering a temporary shelter from the onslaught of rain." she paused dramatically, cleared her throat and looked Bea in the eyes, catching her intense stare. 

"As I approached the lone figure waiting at the stop, this mysterious stranger turned around, her timing perfect, almost as if my mere presence was somehow calling on to her, drawing her in. My intense gaze hitting her like lightning. She was in awe by my sheer beauty, struck by an immense force, paralysing her instantly. "

"Breathe, I told her." Allie looking into Bea's eyes, telling her exactly just that, breathe. And just like she was told, Bea took a sharp intake of breath, releasing it slowly. 

"But it was too late, I took her breath away. The end" she said hurriedly, taking Bea by surprise. Closing an imaginary book on one hand while taking a small sip of her coffee on the other, smiling smugly at Bea. 

Bea claps slowly, giving Allie an approving nod. "For a minute, you had me there" 

"Gotcha! But seriously though, how are you feeling now? looking at Bea worriedly. From funny to serious in a matter of seconds. 

"I'm good uh really, thank you for the water, this coffee.. and for you know… uhm it was just the stupid combination of lack of sleep and pushing myself too much, the fatigue got to me I guess." Bea answered shyly, feeling a bit sheepish. 

"I was uhm there actually" pointing at jungle gym across the other side. 

"Then I saw you standing, right here." nudging her head towards the direction of the entrance of the park. 

"I just made a run for it. I wanted to uhm" Bea hesitated. 

"Catch me?" Allie continued for her, looking at Bea dreamily, eager to know if she guessed correctly. 

"Yeah sounds about right." Bea spoke sofly, a small blush already forming on her cheeks. 

"Soooooooo… I did take your breath away, I knew it! Now I need to revise storytime for the kids!" Allie pushed on, her eyebrows comically raising. 

"Did you hear that kiddos, brand new information!" looking at her side, talking to their invisible grandkids. 

"You're so odd" a small giggle escaping Bea's lips. 

"You say odd, I hear odd-dorable, works for me" Allie sending Bea a flirtatious wink. 

They fell into another comfortable silence, smiling from time to time, seemingly content with each other's company without the need to fill the silence with small talk. 

Allie's silently hoping for this thing to last a little longer, this feeling of simply being happy in the presence of this gorgeous woman, no agenda, no vendetta, no pity or judgment.

Will she stay this way if she knew how I was, what I've been through? She silently ruminates, instictively wrapping her arms around herself, as a form of defense mechanism. 

"How is this so easy? Me talking to you like this? We're practically strangers." Bea breaks the silence, finally. Her eyes focused on the lake. Avoiding Allie's gaze. 

"Well uhm, I guess, the not knowing takes the pressure off." Allie answered honestly, mimicking Bea's posture and expression. 

"There's no conscious effort to say the right things or tiptoe around each others feelings because at the end of the day, it just doesn't matter. " she continued with a small crack in her voice towards the end. 

"Hmmm.. I guess" Bea replied, the change in the blonde's voice not lost in her. 

"And then, there's this other thing" she tried to look side ways to catch a glimpse of Allie's face. 

"What other thing?" Allie catching her stare. Smiling shyly. 

"The you of it all. Everything is easier with you." Bea said almost in a whisper, the color of her face slowly turning to the shade of her hair, her eyes focusing back at the lake. 

"So it does matter. It matters too much to be wrapped up in petty lies simply to appease the ego. I figured it out a bit too late though, cost me a night's rest, well among other things. " Bea continued, still avoiding the eyes of the now blushing blonde beside her. 

"I've been uhm… thinking about you. There. I know it's stupid, I just met you." Bea rambled on, her hands fidgeting again with her jacket zipper. 

"H-hey it's n-not.. It's r-really not. I-I've been uhm, seeing you everywhere too. Does that make sense?" Allie stuttered nervously, looking at the fidgeting redhead beside her. 

"I kinda like this role reversal. I say something, you buckle a bit." Bea finally looked at Allie, flashing her a confident smile. 

Not known for yielding quickly, especially when this redhead chose a particular word to use, Allie countered, armed with her smugness back, "So role play huh, I'm down with any of your kinks"

"Oh my god!" Bea groaned, full on blushing now. 

"I still got it!" Allie announced proudly, sending Bea another playful wink. 

After the hysterics eased a little, Allie raised the question that has been on her mind, "Can we uhm stay this way for a little bit more?" 

"What do you mean?" a confused Bea looked on. 

"I mean just strangers for now. No names, no personal details." Allie said in a small voice, her fingers fidgeting with the lining of her jumper. 

"Why would you want that?" Bea prodded on still a bit confused. 

"Cause if I'm being honest, maybe I'm afraid you won't like what you find out?" Allie said in a voice almost fragile, breaking Bea's heart in the process. 

Who hurt you? Bea wanted to ask but decided against it in the last minute, "we all have skeletons in our closets, what makes you say yours is scarier than mine?"

"I've been through hell, it ain't pretty." She said sadly, sporting a far away look on her face. 

"You've been through hell but came back. You're still here, standing, fighting everyday, saving damsels from you know, gravity" Bea moved closer, reaching for Allie's left knee, giving it a comforting squeeze. 

The action jolted Allie back to life, the humor giving her a little bit of hope, "Redheaded teal wearing damsels" she corrected. 

"Yes, redheaded teal wearing, breath-taken, awe-striken, paralized by sheer beauty, damsels. Yes, that one." Bea beaming at her, the smile alone was enough to calm Allie's racing heart. 

"You were listening!" Allie smiling brightly now, making Bea smile even more. 

"I didn't miss a thing." Bea replied softly. 

Allie let's out a nervous sigh. 

"Knowing your name makes this real, makes it tangible. Not just some fantasy or mystery. You know when there's something that genuinely made you happy and you want to keep that memory forever. You want to keep that pure, unblemished. Not ruined by pain or guilt or disappointment." Allie explained, trying to convince the redhead of her unusual request. 

"Call it self preservation or self love or whatever." she continued, her voice sounding a bit frustrated. 

"You're giving me an out, is that it? The option to walk away from this unscathed, unburdened by guilt?" Bea asked knowingly. 

Bea understands of all people how is it like to feel not good enough, not worthy enough, or simply put… not enough. She sees the signs, she hears the triggers and somehow hearing the words from this sweet, beautiful stranger beside her, is causing her physical pain, because this gentle human shouldn't be feeling this way, shouldn't be made to feel this way by anyone. 

"You took the words right out of my mouth." Allie's voice snapping Bea back to here and now. 

I see it in your eyes, I hear it in your voice . Bea was about to say but hesitated again, "Is this what you want?" she asked instead. 

Allie gave Bea a small nod. 

The thing is, Bea doesn't have any inclination to deny this woman anything, she could ask for the moon and Bea would already be thinking of atleast fifty ways to launch a rocket powerful enough to tow the damn thing back to earth. That's how much this woman is starting to mean to Bea. It should bother her right? Yet somehow it feels just right. 

"Starting tomorrow, I'll be at that coffeeshop every night at 8pm. If you want to just talk, you know where to find me." Bea pointing towards the direction of the coffeeshop across the park. 

"For real?" Allie asked a little bit shocked. 

"For real, for real. The fates has been so kind to us, letting us meet twice like this, we might not be so lucky the next time." Bea replied with a warm smile. 

"You don't want to risk it?" Allie giddily asked. 

"Too important to leave to fate." Bea said sincerely. 

The loud ringing of Allie's mobile phone interrupted their peaceful moment. Allie rummaged her hand bag to answer the annoying bugger. 

Bea stood up, taking a sip of the coffee on her hand and, motioned that she'll just walk near the lake in front of them, giving Allie some privacy to answer the call. 

As Bea neared the lake, she ruminates a bit more of Allie's request. She understands her, more than she cares to admit and she feels her too, the need to protect herself and protect people from herself, but she's going to honor her request because this wonderful human that she already feels a special connection with deserves to be happy, and she'll give it to her, for as long as she can, no matter how short her time is here in Sydney. The sudden thought of leaving pained her instantly. 

"love you too, see you later, bye!" Bea heard Allie say. 

Somehow hearing those words from Allie, being said to another person, annoyed Bea instantly. She crossed her arm, letting out an exasperated sigh, an unexplainable anger building up. And what's annoying Bea even more, she doesn't even know why she's suddenly pissed. 

Sensing the shuffling of Allie's shoes from behind her, Bea turned around, still simmering with unexplainable stress, and then she saw it, in slow-motion. 

Allie was heading towards her but she must have stepped on a particularly damp grass and lost her balance. In a split second, Bea was already holding both her arms, breaking the impact of her fall but not enough to stop her bottom from hitting the wet grass. 

Bea helped Allie back on her feet. She appears steady and unharmed except for the big ugly brown stain on the back part of her jeans. 

"I look like I shat myself" Allie whined, sporting that hurt puppy look reminding Bea of Debbie, all the while still checking how much the mud ruined her favorite jeans. 

Bea stifled a laugh. She really did try. 

"It's not funny, stop laughing!" Allie begged, giving Bea a small adorable pout. 

Maybe it's the cute little pout or that sweet whiny voice of Allie's pleas but something snapped in Bea's mind and in one swift move, Bea zipped down her teal jacket, removed it, and crossed the short distance between her and Allie. 

She positioned herself behind the blonde and without warning, wrapped the jacket arms around Allie's waist, effectively covering the ugly stain. 

"Such a baby!" she whispers in Allie's ear, while still behind her, going for annoying but was unwittingly more like being a total tease. Her breath sending shivers down Allie's spine. 

Wanting to even the score a bit, Allie turned around to face Bea, ready to dish out another blush-inducing quip but was halted immediately from the moment her eyes adjusted to Bea in all her majestic glory. 

Maybe it's the sexy sculp of Bea's toned arms, the snug fit of her blue racerback accentuating the contour of her bust, or the faint traces of blush on her neck aggravated by the way her tights clung on to her firm and very very tempting buttocks like a second skin but the stunning sight sent a quick jolt to Allie's core. 

There's this sudden warmth unfurling at the pit of her stomach, she could feel her ears burning and Allie's hyperaware that she's already blushing. She's subconsciously touching her neck, as though checking for early signs of fever. 

And when Bea raked her fingers nervously through her messy curls, unwittingly reminding Allie of her sexy undercut, that weird tingly sensation pulsed throughout her body, leaving goosebumps and warmth along it's way, well, among other things. 

It was only until she heard Bea's raspy voice asking if she was hurt did Allie regain consciousness from her momentary trance. 

"Are you hurt?" Bea repeated, coming closer to her face. 

"Nah, I'm good, it's just uhm" Allie replied weakly, slowly regaining her composure. 

"Gravity?" Bea completed for her, flashing Allie a warm smile. 

"Gravity!" she echoed shyly. 

"Thought so." Bea said with a small laugh. 

It's not that Allie was stealing glances at Bea's exquisite buttocks but her eyes were just looking towards that general area even though it is way off her line of sight. Yes, not at all. 

So when Bea's phone that was securely tucked in the back pocket of her running tights, started vibrating, she immediately pointed it out, making her blush in the process. "Uhm, you're phone is doing that weird thing" she said to Bea.

"Oh yeah, uhm, hold up!" Bea took it out quickly. 

"Just a text message" she said while reading the message. 

 

Debbie

Mum, I'm up. Feed me please xoxo

 

"Two babies in one morning" she heard Bea chuckling under her breath, smiling happily at her phone. 

Baby? Is she with someone? Now I'm beginning to regret the no personal details thing. Allie thinks quietly. 

"Let me guess, you have to go?" trying to sound cool but in reality, a little part of her is feeling a tad bit jealous and some part of her is more annoyed that she's even feeling this way. 

"Pretty much uhm, thank you for catching me and for the coffee, company's good too." Bea said while shaking the almost empty coffee cup in her hand. 

"Hey your jacket?" Allie asked, her right hand making a start in untying the jacket from her waist. 

Bea held her hand it place, stopping Allie mid-motion. "Keep it!" she said shyly, giving Allie's hand a small squeeze before letting it go. 

They slowly made their way towards the entrance of the park and crossed the street together. She gave the blonde one last look and then started walking towards the direction of her hotel. 

"Catch you next time" she heard Allie's voice from behind. 

She turned around and gave the blonde a small wave, "You know where." and then she was off. 

Allie looked on at the retreating redhead, her mind already going berserk on every little thing that they talked about, every little kindness that she showed her, every small detail of her laugh, every single attempt to outwit her and every damn time she made her feel seen.

It felt different, it felt like she does matter, it felt real. And for the second time that day, she's starting to ease in to the idea, Maybe letting her in won't be such a bad thing after all.

She took out her phone and hurriedly sent a text message. 

Heading home now, see you at lunch. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

When The Stars Align Ever So Nicely

 

The executive lounge was strangely empty for a Sunday morning, giving Bea and Debbie a chance to choose any table to occupy. Wanting a bit of privacy just incase other hotel guests start joining soon, they opted for a table at the far corner beside the floor to ceiling windows, allowing them an unhampered view of the city while they feast on the buffet breakfast. 

Bea was silently sitting at their table, her eyes enjoying the incredible view of the city. Her plate consists of half-eaten eggs benedict with chives, untouched herbed chicken sausages and half-empty jar of bircher muesli and has absentmindedly been nursing that coffee on her hand for some time now. 

As Debbie plops on the chair beside her, armed with her second serving of fluffy egg white omelette with ham and spinach, delicate crisp blueberry muffins, savory herbed-stuffed mushrooms and crispy bacon strips, she noticed the almost untouched food on her mom's plate, considering that she's already on her second serving while her mom is just halfway through her first. 

"No appetite this morning mum?" Debbie asked as she takes a few bites of her omelette. 

"I'm actually famished sweetheart, but this view, it's amazing. I've missed this." she gushed a bit, taking another sip of her coffee. 

They ate in silence for a while, just enjoying the great food and the incredible view of the city. After some time, Bea breached the subject of their visit with Harry. 

"I am very proud of you Deb, what you did yesterday, that took courage!" Bea started, wanting to reassure her daughter that she can talk to her about what happened yesterday. 

"Thanks mum, it was totally surreal until I was actually there. The weird thing is, I thought it would bother me as much after but I slept okay last night and I think I'm okay." Debbie answered as honestly as she can. 

She continued to narrate to her mom about how the whole experience made her feel and promised that she'll come to her if ever things do finally sink in.

She mentioned finally the creep at the coffee shop which angered Bea instantly but did not interrupt her daughter as she process what happened. She felt very grateful for this Allie woman who saved her daughter and wished she could have arrived a few minutes earlier so she could thank her personally. 

"It was totally awesome mum, I mean not the creepy sicko part, obviously, but when she pretended to be my aunt and then she even had this like mini conversation on her phone with my pretend dad Matt, i think that was the name. It was insane! I swear to god mum!" Debbie recounted excitedly complete with animated hand gestures complimenting her energy. 

"Oh mum, did I mention that we were on the same bus and when she was about to get off, she hit her head on the handrail and then apologise immediately? It was hilarious. It made me miss my stop though. I was about to get down the last minute too but the whole thing happened so I just stayed on and got out on the next stop. I just walked my way back!" 

"She apologised to the bus driver you mean?" Bea corrected Debbie.

"No mum, she said sorry to the handrail that she hit. It was epic! You would have loved her!" the young girl replied while hugging her mom tightly. 

"She did save my baby, I love her already. She's my hero too." Bea kissed Debbie's head while still embracing her baby. 

Hero . The word suddenly brought back her encounter with the beautiful blonde. 

In true spirit of honesty and transparency with her daughter, it was her turn to tell Debbie about the beautiful blonde stranger that she met at the cemetery.

She scrubbed the language a bit, making it more young adult friendly but nevertheless, she narrated about the roses, how this stranger was so kind to her and how embarrassed she was when she realised she was holding her hand. 

"You were holding her hand the whole time, wow" Debbie asked, eyes wide open, still a bit shocked that her mom didn't notice at all. 

"I was and I got so embarrassed I just left" Bea said with a trembling laugh. 

Debbie shook her head. "oh no, she seems like a nice person too."

Bea leaned towards Debbie, "but the funny thing is, we found each other again at the park earlier. 

"No way mum! That's some crazy coincidence like destiny and shit! Opps, sorry about the shit and for saying it again." Debbie sending Bea a shy toothy grin, her hands flashing Bea the peace sign. 

"So that's why you had that look this morning? The coffee you left at the dining area, that was from her, right?" she asked eagerly. 

"Yes, that's from her. What look are you talking about?" Bea curiously asked, with narrowed eyes and furrowed brow. 

"Dreamy look, grinning from ear to ear, it's the same one you had on Wednesday during our flight, when you had that phone call with" Debbie recounted, amused at the thought. 

"With Allie Novak" Bea finished for her. 

"Bingo" Debbie snickered, wagging her eyebrows animatedly. 

"So there's Allie and then there's this mysterious stranger who wished to remain unnamed." she continued, contemplating on her mom's unique predicament. 

"I shall call her she-who-must-not-be-named!" she yelled excitedly. 

"She's not Voldemort, Deb." Bea chuckled, stroking the head of her adorably witty daughter. 

"Fine mum, how about Mysterio" she tried again, still not giving up on finding the perfect alias for her mom's new found friend. 

Bea leaned back on her chair and looked up, remembering everything about her blonde hero slash stalker, "She's hardly evil, sweetheart. She's kind and gentle and she's very funny. She's beautiful." 

"Whoa okay mum, geez, so sensitive about your girlfriend. I'll lay off, alright!" the brunette raised both of her hands up in mock-defeat. 

"She's not.. she's just a friend." Bea explained defensively. 

"Okay mum, if you say so but remember you did buy me all those books, and I have access to every series and movies ever made. I may or may not have been casually reading the scripts laying around the house too, you know. Just tell me when the other shoe drops. I'll wait." She rested both elbows on the table, her hands cradling her chin, smiling smugly at her rattled mom. 

"How are you okay with all of this?" Bea asked with a nervous laugh, still confused at how calm her daughter is with everything. 

"I love you mum, and to be honest, I haven't seen you like this with anyone, like ever. At this point, you could fancy a gummy bear and I'd be like, all for it." she said sincerely, not budging a single bit from her adorable hands-propping-chin stance. 

Bea affectionately pinched Debbie's nose, "Gummy bears?"

"Yes! They're sweet, and gummy and now I'm hungry again." looking on at the dessert area of the buffet. 

"Wait, mum. Hold that thought!" she jumped out of her seat hurriedly and in just a few short minutes, was already making her way back. 

"Okay so mum, I was thinking as I was filling my plate with these fluffy ricotta hotcakes" she started as she reclaimed her seat beside the redhead. 

"My guess is, she's a little scared that if you got too close, you'll find out something and then you'll judge her for it. So my question for you mum, and I know you of course, is this.. is there anything that she could have done that's a deal breaker for you? 

Bea thinks silently, all she could think of is her beautiful smile, her lovely voice and then she see's it in her mind, every single time that smile faded, that shaky treble in her voice when she felt unsure.

It was right then and there, a simple realization hit her. Nothing that this blonde stranger could ever dish out could rattle her resolve. 

"I've got nothing Deb." she answered in all honesty, no longer in doubt, not even confused anymore. 

"Okay mum, you have to follow my lead on this, tell her these exact words" Debbie moved closer to her mom, almost as if what she'll say next is too precious for the world to hear. 

"Tell her this, I'm Bea Smith and there's nothing you could say that can scare me away. I'm ready to know your name, and if you want, I'll simply call you mine, love me mamahhhhhhhhhh!" she excitedly declared, opening her arms wide, doing a little shoulder shimmy, full on chuckling now. 

"That's it Deb! Come here!" Bea was in a laughing fit too, reaching for her adorably annoying daughter. 

Debbie was quick on her feet though "I'm getting more food mum, bye!" she bolted out. 

"I raised a little Franky, my god! Cheeky little shit." Bea let's out a content sigh as she looked on at her giddy baby, happily checking the other food areas in the lounge. 

But maybe her smart and very intuitive daughter was right, that maybe there really is nothing that the beautiful blonde - her hero slash stalker, could say that can scare Bea away. She smiled at the thought. 



"Novak, Allie Novak" the loud booming sound of her name being called over the public address system, startled the young eighteen year old from her seat prompting her to stand up abruptly. 

Luckily enough, there were only a few people in the visitors center of Wentworth Correctional Facility that day, and they were probably nervous just as Allie was to notice anything else. 

She was approached by a prison guard and was asked to follow her towards a narrow corridor, and was lead inside Hall A. Allie chose the table near the entrance and waited patiently for the only person that matters to her. 

It has been two years since she last saw her mother and she is both nervous and excited to be inside the correctional facility and finally be reunited with her mom. 

As the doors of Hall A opened, Allie lifted her head expectantly. Her blue eyes were met with a similar shade of blue eyes with a darker blonde hair. 

A bright smile was etched on the face of Rebecca as she pulled Allie in for a tender hug. Maybe it's the feeling of being in the presence of her mom again mixed with how imposing and daunting the entire experience was, it made the young teen start to tear up.

“Don’t cry little one, mom’s here now” Rebecca whispers tenderly, calming Allie down almost instantly.

“I’ve missed you mom. So much. I’m sorry I can’t seem to stop crying” Allie replied in a weak voice.

After hugging for a few minutes, Rebecca ushered her daughter to sit down. Rebecca held Allies hands on top of the table, giving them a reassuring squeeze. She missed her daughter very much and although she is eighteen now, she would always be that little girl in her eyes. 

“How are you mom, are they treating you right?” Allie asked almost pleadingly.

“I’m doing well for myself here baby. Don’t you worry. The women respect mothers here, especially mothers who love their daughters as much as I love you.” She said with a hearty laugh. The implication of saving her daughter from the clutches of her violent father – what any mother would do – was very much hinted.

Allie could not help but join in. Her mother’s laugh was simply contagious.

"How are you settling in with Liz? Are they treating you well?" Rebecca asked worriedly. Eventhough Allie has been writing her for two years, and Allie has assured her time and again that her foster family was very kind to her, she wanted to confirm and hear it from Allie first hand. 

"Mama Liz has been great mom, she has been taking good care of me. Sophie, Artie and Kaiya are okay too, they've help me settle faster." She said honestly, her foster family was really welcoming, making the transition as smooth as humanly possible. 

"Liz has been a god-sent, we got very lucky with her. She's been visiting me too, bringing food and your letters personally. You are too young to be coming here and she has honored my request but now that you are eighteen, I can't stop you now, can I? Rebecca reached out, ruffling her daughter's hair affectionately. 

 “Nope, can't stop me now! Soooooo, top dog huh mom, that’s a tough job” Allie asked when the laughter dimmed down.

“It is but it gives me purpose in this hopeless place. A very rare thing for a lifer like me. But I’m finding happiness here, well not complete happiness as I’m not with you but enough to keep me going” She said with pride evident in her voice. 

Her eyes glimmering with a light that Allie has never seen before. This version of her mom is so different from what she had seen her be at the hands of her father and now, even though she is in prison, Allie feels that Rebecca is finally free. 

“Ok mom, calm down.” She jests earning a playful slap in the hand from her beaming mom across her.

“What about prison wives? Bet you have plenty of ‘em. I mean look at us, we’re shit hot” Allie probes her mom. 

A shy blush forms on Narcissa’s face. “I’m not gay, Allie.” She said calmly.

“Oh but I am mom, and who knows, I probably got the gay genes from you, I mean that’s the best genes there is” she blurts out, earning another hearty laugh from her mom.

“There is someone... I just feel a connection with this woman” She admitted. Seeing a smirk forming on her daughter’s face, she replied almost guiltily “but it’s not what you think so don’t give me that look”.

Allie threw her hands up, feigning surrender causing another loud and contagious laughing fit, making them both tear up with joy. 

It was one of the most unforgettable memory that Allie has of her mom, and even after all this time, she would always replay this over and over whenever she feels a bit overwhelmed with everything. It makes her feel closer to her mom again, even if for just a brief fleeting moment. 

The sight of a familiar blonde with tired blue eyes, entering the glass doors of this tiny boutique coffee roaster turned cafe in downtown Sydney, brought Allie back to the present. 

Allie got up and gave Kaz a warm hug. "I missed you momma!" 

"I have missed you too bubba, it's been a while" Kaz kissed Allie's head affectionately, taking in the features of Allie's face. After the warm welcome, Allie ushered Kaz to their table. 

"Those tulips were beautiful, mom would have loved 'em." Allie started as soon as they were settled at their table. 

"She would have." Kaz beaming a lovely smile on Allie. 

"How long are you staying this time?" Allie asked curiously while skimming through the menu on her hands. 

"I'm afraid I'm flying back tonight. We've got pretrial conference early tomorrow, I'm needed back at the earliest opportune time." Kaz replied apologetically. She really did want to spend some time with Allie but her schedule is making it impossible to do so. 

"Enough about me, bubba. I've been glued to Inmates the entire season. I'm at the edge of my seat every episode, your writing has been exceptional! Becca finding love in prison, that's very interesting." she asked eagerly, making Allie laugh a little. 

"I can't take all the writing credit for that but I am thankful that you've been watching the show, I know how busy you are momma." she gushed, fidgeting with the floral decor on their table. 

"It's a bittersweet reminder of the past but I know Rebecca would have been really proud of you, and I think she's still proud of you up there" she said sofly, wiping quickly a stray tear on her cheek. 

Allie knows not to push Kaz on the more emotional subjects, it's just not who Kaz is. 

Steering the conversation to some less emotional topic, she asked on, "Not having trouble with Channing are you? I've warned you about him before, the Red Right Hand has been sitting on some information about him but still remains unconfirmed, no one wants to speak up. 

"He's just creepy on set but nothing out of line or anything. We have been clashing on the direction of the story arcs for this season and I'm still very pissed about it." Allie trying to recall if Derek ever did something horrible on set but could only focus on his idiotic plan to kill off Becca which angers her more. 

Kaz noticed the rage in Allie's eyes and wanted to pull back a bit. "I'm not even gonna ask for specifics because I know you have 'em non-disclosure agreement with your network, but just be careful around him okay?" 

"I am momma, he is just being deliberately difficult to work with lately. He is risking way too much for the sake of theatrics and shock value but I'm not sure if it'll pay off, to be honest." Allie answered as calmly as she can but the grit in her tone gave it away. 

"Especially now that a few people have resigned, new people are coming in on the last minute, he wants to revamp the remaining unfilmed episodes, messing the timelines and shoot schedules." she continued, her anger slowly dissipating to mild annoyance. 

The sudden resignation of staff piqued the interest of Kaz,"A few people resigned? Hmmm. It's a bit unusual you say? 

"And it gets weirder by the minute, just this morning, he has informed us, through text message by the way, that he wants to blow up our production budget to hire fight scene professionals, pyrotechnique experts, expensive location filming and he's planning on using an absurd number of extras which I don't know, it sounds way too much." Just thinking about Derek's latest instructions is stressing her out already. 

"Just be careful okay and try not to let him get in the way of your creative streak." Kaz reached for Allie's hand, letting her know that she's here for her. 

Allie and Kaz spent the greater part of their brunch just catching up on everything and enjoying each others company. Every so often, Kaz would catch Allie in deep thought, lost in her head. Contemplating hard on something, and from the looks of it, something serious. 

"You seem.. different Al, what's going on? Is just work or something else?" she asked the distracted blonde. 

"I met someone, well not met, met but I don't know." she explained nervously. 

"You are not making sense honey, talk to me. What's bothering you?" Kaz tried again, with evident concern on her tone. 

Allie let's out a heavy sigh, might as well tell Kaz what's bothering her, she thinks. "You know me momma, more than anyone and I've gone through my adult life not giving a fuck anymore what people would think about me, as long as I'm not hurting anyone, I'm perfectly okay with that."

"I know I've been fighting since I was young and I've made more mistakes than most people had. And I've learned how to deal with it, I had to. Else, every nasty thing hurled at me, every hurtful insult I had to bear, every poisonous diss or vilifying threat meant to shame me to submission or guilt me to give in, would have kept me on my knees." she continued, her voice trembling a little, her eyes at the verge of tears. 

"You've been through worst bubba, more than most people in their lifetime but you are strong, you've always been strong." Kaz insisted, reminding Allie of how much she had endured but still kept going. 

"I had to be strong and I've rarely let anyone in. If they don't know me, they can't hurt me" she said in a soft voice, unconsciously crossing her arms over her chest. 

"And then there's this woman and for the first time, I felt something different. Like I've been sleeping for most of my life and I've just woken up. When she looks at me, I feel seen." she reached for her heart, feeling the loud thundering beat just thinking about her. 

"That's good then, isn't it?" Kaz asked, seemingly confused. 

"I want to let her in Kaz but I'm afraid that she'll bolt once she's heard everything. In all honesty momma, do you think anyone can accept me after knowing what I've done, what I've been through? Her voice too soft and too fragile, it took her a few seconds to register that the sound came from her. 

"I don't think I've held open enough doors for other people, left money in vending machines for the girl next to me to use, guided enough elderly to cross the street or help out enough women stuck in maintenance closets in train stations or payed for someone else's fare to balance out all the shitty things I've done. I'm no angel, Kaz." she said sadly, her tone defeated.

"To the right person, your past won't matter. You'll matter more, the person you are, not who you were." Kaz offering a tiny bit of hope. 

"What if she won't?" Allie mumbled. 

"She might surprise you, Al. And the answer is always going to be no if you don't ask. If she can't accept you for who you are then she doesn't deserve you." Kaz said finally. 

"Breathe Al, think it over." 

 

It was already quarter past one when they left the cafe, promising to call each other more often and for maybe Allie to fly to Melbourne and visit Kaz there. 

Allie arrived at her flat a little before two o'clock in the afternoon feeling a bit comforted to finally get her thoughts out there in the world.

The talk with Kaz gave her a fresher perspective on her current predicament. It was as though the answer has been right in front of her but she was just too scared to even consider it. 

She picked up the ramdom clutter on her living room, tidying the place up a bit. She was hurrying to get to their brunch with Kaz that she left her flat in a messy state. 

And then she saw it again, the teal jacket that the redhead kindly let her have. She picked it up and like a lovestruck puppy, she held it close to her body, inhaling deeply the crispy scent of citrus and cedar woods notes, hitting all the right chords, reminding her of the sweet scent of the beautiful redhead. 

"Too important to leave to fate." she remembers the raspy voice of the redhead saying and just like that, she suddenly felt the need to take control. No longer in autopilot and now she's ready to navigate this manually and take a hold of her life. 

And maybe the universe was silently listening to Allie's prayers, aligning the stars perfectly, waiting patiently for her to see and understand finally. 

As Allie remove the jacket from her arms, she noticed the unique looking jacket label sewn at the left inside pocket. She was expecting to read the usual brand label and washing restrictions but instead she read a witty dedication composed of caffeinated blood, mermaid sweat & unicorn tears. 

And more importantly, to whom the dedication was for. 

For our badass boss, Bea  

"Her name's Bea." she said out loud, the name sounding perfectly on her lips, as though it always belonged there. 

 

A few blocks away, the cosmic powers of the universe was also making it's presence known as Bea was clearing the clutter left on the dining table.

As she picked up the empty coffee cup that her blonde hero thoughtfully gifted her this morning, her subconscious wanted to remind her of a particular memory. 

"Can't wait to tell our grandkids about this one too." she hears the sweet voice of the blonde say, making Bea giggle, and in that split second, the brown paper coffee cup sleeve tore from the cup and fell on the floor. 

Bea picked it up quickly and instinctively looked at the cup on her hand, revealing finally the name of the one who got her early morning dose of tall long black coffee. 

She read it out loud, "Allie". 

Chapter Text

Chapter 12
The Butterfly Effect


“Are you serious right now?” she looked at the jacket tag again. Her eyes fixed on the name. Bea.  

“How is this even possible?” shaking her head in disbelief. 

“Can you hear me cosmic powers of the universe? Or is this you mom? She mumbles under her breath.

And before Allie fully spiral into another existential crisis, she continues with tidying up the living area, the mechanical act of doing something with her hands is more a distraction than anything else.

The soft pinging of the alarm that she had set up earlier on here mobile phone brought her mind back to the present, reminding her of a last-minute script change that Derek wanted to be included in the penultimate episode for Season 2 of Inmates. 

She heads to that small area in her living room where she hang a small cork board in which she plots the scenes for the episodes of the entire series, a storyboard for writers of sorts and a smaller version of what they have in the writer's room at the network. 

Her primary task is to rewrite scripts that staff writers made for production and reconstruction of sequences when necessary. But since their head writer has resigned, she was tasked to take over her responsibilities as well and now, has to develop an entire fight sequence between the prisoners and Becca.

Derek explicitly wanted a major fight scene included before Ellen gets the hotshot and the showdown between Becca and Governor Freak. 

“If Becca is going down, she's going down swinging.” 

"Becca lagged to protect Ellen and now she has a big-ass target on her back." 

Allie was throwing around ideas in the air, bouncing different arcs and dialogues that could make a workable arc, setting up for that blood pumping action sequence with adrenaline-fuelled brawl, a violent tussle between the inmates, a litmus test for crumbling alliances and all out riot among the inmates.

She took out her laptop, made herself comfortable on her couch and started writing a new sequence. 

INT. - PRISON - Hallway between H1 and H3 - Night

Bea walks alone. Unguarded. Heading for H1 to meet the love of her life Ellen.

 

“Wait,  no! Becca not Bea. Stupid typo.” Allie groans, she tried again.

 

INT. - PRISON - Hallway between H1 and H3 - Night

BECCA walks alone. Unguarded. Heading for H1 to meet the love of her life Ellen. No screws in sight. As she turns the corner, eight rough looking inmates blocks her way - members of the Asian gang, Meth freaks and the Hep C boys.

Prisoner 1
(making barking noises)
.... Fucking slag!

Prisoner 2
You fucking lagged, Bea!

Prison 3
Queen Bea, without her minions?

 

Allie stopped typing. She read it back. "Ugh, Bea... again.. twice this time."

She looked at the time, three o’clock in the afternoon. She needs to quickly write this draft else she’ll be late for tonight’s party at Franky’s. 

She stretched her neck. “Focus, you can do this!” she tells herself and then she starts typing again, determined to finish the draft before she heads out tonight.

 

 

 
It was almost three in the afternoon when Debbie decided to make an appearance. After feasting heavily on the buffet breakfast, she was in a food coma for a few hours after. 

As she came out of her room, she saw her mom sitting at the dining area of their hotel room, in deep thought yet again. Looking intently at something on the table.

She noticed that the table was empty except for the coffee cup that her mom brought home that morning, which was actually given to her by her new friend... Voldemort, yep, that's the name that's sticking to Debbie's mind now. 

And Debbie, being Debbie, treaded carefully, and by carefully, she means to tease her mom relentlessly armed with a new material to tease her mom with. 

“Mum?” Deb spoke softly, walking towards the dining area. 

“Uh huh?” Bea answered without looking up. Her eyes focused on the cup, but actually looking through it not really at it. 

“Should I be concerned? I mean you've been staring at that cup for a while now. Shall we build a shrine in its honor?” She teased calmly, her eyebrow wiggling comically, flashing her mom a big smile. 

“Wh-what?” Bea asked, confusedly. Debbie's words still not registering fully. 

Debbie took out her phone and clicked on that burning candle application and activated it. 

She placed her phone upright, right next to the cup. 

"There, fixed it for you, mum." She said stifling a laugh. 

The entire interface of her phone screen displayed a very realistic animated simulation of a white candle, with hues of bright red and yellow flames burning brightly on the screen - creating a mini-shrine in honor of this coffee cup, a holy grail of sorts. 

They looked at each other and started laughing – that loud explosive howl, all out laughing fit. It was such a refreshing sight for both. 

"Guess you're walking to Carly's now" Bea teased back, her eyes still welling with tears, still not totally recovered from laughing too hard. 

"What? No mum, noooooo!" Debbie pleaded, dramatically of course, still sniggering a bit. 

Her decision to fly back to Sydney’s starting to feel like a good move after all, the thought suddenly crossed her mind. She has not have this much fun with her mum in LA and if she thinks harder, she hasn’t seen her mum this free, this light. 

Something in Sydney definitely is doing good for her mum. Maybe it’s the air or the water, the coffee perhaps? She laughed at the thought even more. 

"Come on then, let's go!" Bea rose up from the chair, took the car keys and their hotel card and went straight the door. 

Debbie quickly swiped her phone from the table, smiling at the cup and followed her mum out. 

It took them only twenty minutes to get to Carly's neighborhood. Debbie kissed her mom's right cheek and slowly got out of the car. 

"Send Carly and Shane my love. Don't forget tonight at your aunt Franky's. Okay? I love you, bye sweetheart." Bea yelled out from inside, giving Debbie a small wave. 

"Got it mum, to the moon and back!" she shouted back, affectionately, waving back.  

Bea noticed one shopping bag that Debbie left on her seat in the car. 

“You left something” Bea picked it up and showed it to Debbie.

“Just leave it there mum, won’t be using them now.” She waved back again and hurriedly went inside the apartment complex. 

As soon as she dropped Debbie off, Bea headed to another pit stop destination on her impromptu Bea Smith Sydney tour. 

The voice from her GPS navigation software indicated that Bea has arrived on her desired location, she parked the car smoothly and got out. 

Bea walked in to the busy three-bay, well lit and well ventilated industrial garage at downtown Sydney. The loud clanking and banging noise reverberated throughout the place and though it could be annoying to most people, Bea didn't mind, she actually enjoys it. 

Different types of car tires were neatly stacked up against entire wall panels, massive tool boxes in the size of rolling large cabinets were positioned on distinct parts of the workshop.

There were grease everywhere and car parts cluttered around but compared to most car repair shops, it looks like this one was well maintained and customer friendly. 

There were two cars being serviced at the rotary lifts on her right, one mechanic was working on the hood, another was crawling underneath the vehicle.

The third mechanic was working solo on the other car, emptying the oil from the filter into a drain pan. 

"Looks like a full brake job to me" she heard one say. All three women were too busy to see Bea walk in.

The familiar booming voice coming from the left caught Bea's attention and she slowly made her way towards them.

The two women who seemed to be working on a 1957 Harley Davidson Sportster didn't notice immediately that they were being watched by an amused redhead. 

The older of the two, a familiar face with those gorgeous caramel curls, was giving off instructions to her young apprentice. 

"Make sure the threads are fully engaged before you hit the trigger, it's a bitch to remove 'em once bolted" holding out the air ratchet on her hand. 

"Can you still ride that? Knees gets a little wobbly with age" Bea asked, her voice a bit loud to rise above the banging noise.

Visibly startled, the pair peered over the bike to see who their unexpected visitor was. 

"Bea fucking Smith, as I live and breathe" Rita Connors stood up, handing the power tool to her young ward. She went around the bike and walked towards Bea. 

"How long has it been, mate? She asked, holding out her hand. 

"Too fucking long." Bea took the offered hand and gave it a firm shake. 

"Let's talk in my office, Bea." Rita ushered Bea towards the back office where they could talk with a bit more privacy. 

 

 

"The shop looks great." Bea said as she crashed on the couch. 

Rita took out two cold cans of Tooheys New, fresh from her mini-refrigerator just behind the small mahogany desk inside her office. 

"I'd give you a grand tour before you leave, yeah?" she asked while handing one to Bea. 

"I'd love that." Taking the offered beer, she pulled the tab and popped it open. A satisfying tssst sound echoed in the formerly quiet room. 

Rita raised her opened beer, "Welcome home, Bea" 

They both took a huge gulp of their respective beers. The cold drink felt great as it swirled down Bea's throat, seeping silently in her blood stream, bringing that pleasant warmth in her chest. 
 
"Heard anything from Kaz?" Bea started, after gaining her ground. 

"Got a job in Melbourne, a non profit helping victims of human trafficking. She's working tirelessly that one but it makes her happy." she said as she pulled up a chair from behind the desk. 

"She was here earlier but had to rush off. Brunch with Rebecca's kid." Rita shuffled a few things around to clear out the chair and sat opposite Bea's. 

"Rebecca?" Bea inquired, the name sounds familiar but can't put a face on it in her mind. 

"Top dog before her, Kaz was her 2IC." Rita explained a bit. 

"Ah, yes. I remember Kaz mentioning someone, vaguely though. I figured she didn't want to talk about it, I respected that." Bea recalling her conversations with Kaz years ago. 

"She uhm died in the fire, that's why Kaz took over." Rita recounted, almost hesitantly.

"It was a year before you met us, a year before the prison documentary thing." she continued, trying to put a bit of context to the puzzled look that her friend is giving off. 

Bea leaned forward, taking another swig at her beer, "What about the kid?"

Rita is not known to gossip about people but seeing the look of genuine concern from Bea, and after all this time, she still trusts this woman completely, she explained what she knew to the best of her recollection, "She was sent to a foster home when Rebecca got incarcerated. Heard she was doing well too but when her mom died, she took it real hard. Went into a spiral, ran away from her foster mom. The kid was around twenty-one when she split, Kaz didn’t have a clue on how to find her."
 
Rita took a small sip of her beer too, and continued. "Kaz was livid. She wanted to help but how can she? We were all still locked up inside." 

Bea was listening to every word, somehow for some unknown and unexplainable reason, she seemed drawn to this story, wanting to know and understand every detail that Rita could tell her. 

"It was a good thing you came along. If it wasn't for you, we'd all be there still." Rita recounted, struggling to hold back the tears, smiling almost reverently at her friend who helped them all those years ago. 

Bea reciprocated the smile, and spoke softly. "Kaz wouldn't take the damn money, at first. Said it should go to the other girls but then last minute changed her mind. You all deserved your fair day in court. Bloody systems broken." shaking her head out of sheer frustration at how corrupt and painstakingly slow their justice system. 

"The money belongs to you, it was your stories. I was just a storyteller, and it was a privilege to be the one to tell them to the world." Bea shared honestly, the crack in her voice giving her emotions away. 

Rita leaned forward as well, wanting for Bea to hear every word she had been itching to say but was not able to after all these years. "Yes, that could be true for the money you got for winning that award on the prison series documentary. You've funded our appeal well and it gave us a real fighting chance, Bea."  

"But the money kept coming though, long after we've been out. You're still the silent partner of this shop Bea. There's a check under this drawer with your name on it for the bloody share that you keep sending back." she continued, tapping the mahogany desk for emphasis. 

She sees Bea shaking her head in disbelief, still not able to take a compliment. 

Rita tries harder this time. "Everyone we've helped after you funded our appeal, it was all on you. You see the four girls out there, ex-Conquerors and ex-Red Right Hands, they wanted to make something for themselves and they… well we… got you to thank for, Bea."

Bea was about to argue but Rita waved her hand dismissively. 

"Kaz too, Rebecca's kid was her first order of business after getting out. She pulled her out of hell and I heard she's doing well now, a writer of sorts. Kaz is very proud. And that's all on you." She said finally, maybe drawing Bea a picture of her impact on all their lives would drive the message home. 

"Nah, that's too much of a reach, Rita. That was all on Kaz, not me." Bea argued, she still can't believe how one small act of kindness could somehow snowball into something bigger, saving more lives than what she initially hoped for. 

"Tss.. but who made it possible for us to see the outside world one more time?" Rita sneered at her friend. 

"Still having trouble taking compliments, Bea? she teased Bea while simultaneously standing up from her chair. 

"Fuck off." Bea muttered weakly, laughing a little. 

"So is everything out of your chest now, seems you've waited for this exact moment to tell me off huh?" Bea asked leaning back on the couch, getting a bit comfortable. 

"Only you, Bea, would think that giving a compliment is a way of telling someone off" Rita shook her head, a small smile forming on her face. She walked around back at the table. 

"To be fair, you didn't give us much choice to thank you, either. Heard you left after the awards night and then the next thing we know, we have these fancy lawyers meeting with us a month after." She slid open the drawer under her table, searching for something. 

Rita closed it abruptly and proceeded to open the side drawer instead, and continued. "We've heard a few rumors about what happened that night but no one's denying or confirming anything." 

Bea answered, feeling a little uneasy about this particular topic but answered as casually as she can. "Friends from the media, they did me a favor and it wasn't until Debbie and I were out of the country that they broke the news." she said in a sad voice, her body tensing up. 

Rita looked on at Bea, her tone somber, her posture rigid. She can sense her anxiety from a mile away, she's not gonna push her to talk about this, not for today atleast. 

After shuffling a few papers, she took out the brown Manila envelope that she has been searching for. "Still looking out for Franky after all this time."

"Seems her girlfriends got into some serious bind, Bea. Here." She opened the envelope and laid down the photos on the table. 

Bea stood up and leaned on the table, looking at about a dozen pictures of Erica taken from what looks like cctv footages. 

"We checked out Erica's last known address, standard drive by, asked around." Rita showing her a photo of Erica's beautiful seaside suburb mansion. 

"A former uhm associate was her neighbor. Said she left in the middle of the night, most of her effects are still in the house but no one's come back since. That was a week ago." she continued while handing Bea a couple more photos. 

"And everything is legal, right? We didn't bust you out there just to land yourself back in." Bea asked worriedly. 

"Everything's good, Bea. Trust me. I don't want to stuff it up either." Rita reassures Bea. 

"Made a few calls, not enough to cause suspicion but just enough to shake the tree a bit. One came back, liquor shop owner at the red light district. Trusted friend, her shop is right across an underground lair of sorts." Rita pushed another photo for Bea to look at, a picture of a boutique hotel with stylish elegant facade but subdued chromatic palette. 

"Seems Erica's been hanging out at a very private, very discreet and strictly members only BDSM house." Rita said in a soft voice, almost a whisper. Bea barely heard her. 

"Buddhism?" Bea probed on. 

"What? Uhm. More like fetish house. Private dungeons. Fantasy venue." Rita explained a bit, trying to assess the look on her friend’s face. 

"Oh BDSM, ah shit! I heard you wrong the first time! Safe spaces for the adult kink community, okay I got it." Bea rambled nervously, feeling a bit sheepish for mishearing. 

"Get your ears checked Bea. Hearing gets a bit messed up with age, I know a great ENT doctor, just say the word." Rita chuckled, trying to get a rise out of Bea. 

"Oh piss off!" Bea hissed without bite in to it. 

Bea picked up another photo of Erica entering the hotel, "Was Franky's name ever mentioned by your source?" 

"No. There's only one bloke that she's been seen with. They arrive together and leave together." Rita shuffled the photos on the table in search of a specific one. 

"Here! A Jeff fellow or Geoff. Power suit with a high powered job, that kind." Handing Bea a photo of Erica with an older man, though the photo was taken at night, it was still clear enough to capture the features of his face. 

"Maybe it's a one off, one time thing." Bea held the photo in her hand, trying to identify the mystery man with Erica. 

"I knew you'd say that so I asked to pull out any cctv footage that they have on the street. Luckily, these two have an outstanding Thursday night rendezvous. Word around, she's been coming here for over a year now." Rita hands in a couple more photos of Erica with the same man taken in different times wearing different clothes. 

"And uhm, I-I dug a little deeper Bea. There's a rumor that Erica's engaged to Mark Pearson." Rita hesitated, suddenly nervous. 

"Who is he?" Bea asked, lifting her head up. Looking at Rita with narrowed eyes, confusion written all over her face. 

"Mark Pearson, Independent MP for Wakefield." she whispered, hanging her head low. 

"Oh!" Bea exclaimed, raising her hand over her mouth, clearly taken aback. She didn't expect any of it. 

"She played her?" Bea spat out, slamming her fist on the table. 

"More like it, Bea. I'm sorry." Rita said apologetically, she feels for Franky too. No one deserves to be cheated on. 

"Fuck! Franky's not gonna take this lightly." Bea hissed, already seething with anger. 

She looked at the photos again, thinking, ruminating. "How does Derek fit in all this?"

"Ah yes, the baldheaded pervert. He's been on the Red Right Hands radar for sometime now but no one wants to speak up and if we weren't reformed now, he'd be six feet under." Rita took out another Manila envelope from the side drawer and pulled out two photos, handing them both to Bea. 

Bea took them and looked at the photo of Derek leaving an underground car park of sorts. "That bad?" 

Rita shook her head. "Worst Bea, fucking worst." 

"Lately though he's been having late night meetings at CBN." She pointed out a slightly blurry silhouette of the CBN logo in the background of one of the photos.

"That's their rival network, what's he doing there? He has an exclusive contract with GMA and an air-tight non-compete. What the fuck?" She looked closely, still baffled as to why Derek would be anywhere near CBN. 

That's all I know, Bea. What do you plan to do? Rita looked on at Bea. 

Bea stood up straight and took a quick step back. "Franky has to know." 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 13
I Am Not Who You Think I Am

 

“Breathe, just breathe!” Franky tells herself as she heads anxiously towards the convention floor. 

She consciously adds a little swagger in her steps, that haughty confident walk she's got stashed somewhere that only comes out when forced in awkward situations like, let's say, attending the last night - the gala and awards night for the Maris Equi International Film Festival 2013 held at the International Convention Center in Sydney. 

Their feature documentary – I Am Not Who You Think I Am, a prison documentary series on women's correctional facilities all over the world, has been generating a lot of buzz from jury panelist, movie enthusiasts and film critics alike, making their film a running candidate for Best Feature Documentary Series and Audience Choice Award which apart from the prestige, honor and a generous film grant, a whopping $100,000 cash prize is awarded to the winning team. 

Franky maybe the poster girl of cool and calm but in reality she’s all sorts of nervous and sweating in places no one will find, that's how tense she really was at the moment. 

She checked her watch, Bea's flight from Los Angeles should have arrived an hour ago and most likely already mingling with the crowd on the floor, lobbying and hustling hard for their project. 

Anyone who's anyone in the film industry has been eager for her to make an appearance during the three-day festival, wanting to discuss with her the intricacies of the stories, her technique and almost anything that she could share about being the hot new breakout Director/Producer in town, but Debbie was still having her final exams for junior high, and Harry insisting that he attends on her behalf, she had to skip two days and can only attend the gala night, dragging her adorable daughter along for the ride. 

Franky adjusts nervously the collar of her rust hued short suit for the nth time, still a bit fazed by the elegant and luxurious setting that this awards night is all about. 

"Franky Doyle from Bea Smith’s team" a soft voice from behind her startled Franky. 

"Yes, Doyle, you got that right, Miss… uh.. Casey", as she looked down at the name indicated on the festival pass that the petite bleached blonde convention staff has on. 

"You ladies are at table 12, near the left side of the stage." Casey points at their assigned area. As Franky looks on, she sees the dream team already gathered, looking all dolled up and as nervous as she was. She sees Maxine with her boyfriend Martin, Simmo Slater with her husband Malcolm, and Boomer looking fly as ever. 

As she was about to approach them, she saw from the corner of her eye, camping on the open bar, the bane of her bestfriend's existence, Harry fucking Smith - untucked stained shirt, messed up greasy hair, bloodshot eyes. Downing a glass of whiskey neat, Lord knows how many he's had already. 

"Miss Doyle, that man at the bar says he's with your party? Uhm we’re concerned that he's been drinking excessively and some of our patrons have called our attention about his loud and aggressive behavior." Casey cautioned calmly, trying to be respectful but assertive at the same time. 

Of course, Harry would make this all about him. Fucking dickweed! She silently cursed the drunk idiot at the bar. 

"Thanks Casey, I'll handle it!" sending an apologetic smile at the attractive convention staff. Under normal circumstances, Franky would have flashed Casey a flirty wink and charmed the pants off this cute blonde but this night is bigger than her insatiable libido or Harry's inflated ego, so she reigned in her automatic reflexes and face the problem head on. 

She heads towards Harry to do a little damage control. He has fucked up too many chances for Bea, she's not about to let this asshole ruin this one, again. 

Occupying the stool next to him at the bar, she called out to him in a firm voice. "Harry!" 

It took him a few seconds to realize that his name was called. He’s hammered, the alcohol clearly delaying his reaction time. "Doyle" he spat out, his breath reeking of whiskey.  

"How about we take it easy, yeah? The program’s about to start." She said in the most calm voice that she got, channelling her inner zen. She doesn't want to mess this up as well so she will behave. For now. 

"You take it easy!" he slurred, declining her suggestion, taking another huge gulp of his drink. 

Franky looked on at the conference floor, then towards the tables near the stage, trying to spot their redhead director. "Is Bea around?" she asked finally, still scanning the area. 

"How the fuck should I know?" Harry spat angrily, slamming his glass back on to the bar. 

"What the fuck? You were supposed to pick her up, moron!" Franky snapped, shaking her head in disbelief, already standing up from the bar stool. 

"Watch your mouth!" He threatened, clenching his fist. His face’s completely flushed, the veins on his neck were visibly popping out. 

Go back to your hotel room Harry, I'll pick her up! Jesus! Franky yelled, turned and walked away more panicked than annoyed. The program's about to start and Bea was still nowhere in sight. 

Franky was already on her phone, dialling Bea's number. Heading for the nearest exit to the car park. 

Harry was hot on her trail, even for a drunk fucker, he's very agile. 

When Franky reached her car, Harry was angrily shouting at her from behind. "She's my fucking wife, Doyle. My wife!" 

Franky was livid and this drunk idiot is still missing the point. "You had one job, dickhead and that's to pick your wife and your kid at the airport! You're not even supposed to be here, remember? You didn't want anything to do with this project!" she spat out with the same fire as Harry's if not more. 

Harry fumbling with the keys of the rental car, heading for his own ride. Seeing that he was about to do something more idiotic than forgetting to pickup his family, by driving drunk, Franky made a run and swatted the keys from him, as a precaution. Knowing Harry, this fucker will attempt to drive even in his drunken state just to prove a point. 

"You were supposed to stay in LA with Debbie while Bea attends to her commitments here, but no, the moment that our project got traction, you wanted to be part of it. Leaving everything to Bea to take care of all of it, yet again." she blurted out, before she could stop herself. 

"That's bullshit, asshole, you don't know shit. Where's my keys?"  He walked closer to Franky, attempting to grab the keys back but his eye-hand coordination too messed up, he tripped over his feet causing him to fall on his ass. 

Maybe it was the build-up frustration or the pent-up anger towards this horrible piece of shit that her bestfriend married but something snapped and Franky lost it. 

"I don't know shit? I DON'T KNOW SHIT?!? She fucking pitched this idea to you first, you were the DP for this but what did you say? No one would care about fucking degenerates, wasn't that what you told everyone?" she moved closer to Harry who was still sitting on the hard pavement. 

She was pointing her finger angrily at Harry's face. "What else do I not know? Huh? How about last year? The last night of filming this documentary? Bea's last night here in Sydney, after filming what did you do? Will you own up to it huh?" 

"Bea would never say anything! She wouldn't dare!" Harry was furious now but the copious amount of alcohol in his system is making it hard for him to use his physical strength. He can't even help himself up. 

"Oh she didn't have to, Boomer's boyfriend was working on the tracks that morning, fucking asshole! I know everything!" She jabbed some more. 

"You're bluffing!" Harry spat weakly, but still attempting to reach Franky. 

"I have three words for you, Bondi Junction Station!" she said with finality and walked to her car, leaving Harry seething in his drunken state. 

"Fucking dyke!" He launched himself at her, lifting his entire body up only to be pulled back down again by the full force of gravity. 

"Damn proud of it, asshole! I have no time for you, moron. Sort your shit out!" She yelled back as she was retreating. Her middle finger saluting the blubbering moron as she continued her walk back to her car. 

She got to her car and hurriedly left. After a few minutes of driving, Franky was still pissed off but more to herself than anything. "Red would kill me, fuck! Shouldn't have said anything! Fucking moron gets on my nerves every damn time!" 

"Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!" Hitting the steering wheel hard, her temper clearly  got the best of her. 

Franky made it to the Arrival Bay of the airport in no time. She slowed down the car, looking from left to right, silently praying for her to find Bea and Debbie from among the large crowd at the airport. 

She spotted a worried looking Bea wearing a gorgeous navy blue suit with buttoned down white dress shirt, waiting in the long queue at the taxi lane, a bored and tired looking Debbie sitting on their luggage beside her. 

She stopped the car, turned her hazard lights on and bolted out. She jogged the short distance and stopped right in front of the two. 

"Where's Harry?" Bea asked but somehow already knows the answer. 

"The fucker's... Oh shit sorry" Franky stopped, realizing that Debbie was there. Bea glared as an automatic reaction but soften almost immediately. She really was thankful that her best friend showed up.
 
"Sorry Red, let's just go!" grabbing one of their luggage to haul.  

"Aunt Franky!" Debbie launching herself at her favorite aunt, hugging her tightly. "You look sad" Debbie mumbled and somehow, all Franky's worry started to disappear the moment Debbie hugged her. 

After securing the luggage at the boot of the car, Franky, hurriedly went inside the car and started heading back to the convention center. 

The ride back was silent. Debbie was already sleeping, the travel must have taken a toll on her. She kept stealing glances at the worried redhead beside her. She's panicking again, she can see it in her eyes. 

"Our project’s getting some love, Red. Best Feature Doc's in the bag! I feel good about this one!" she said honestly and maybe a last ditch effort to ease her best friend's mind. 

"Yeah? Seriously?" Bea's voice starting to sound excited, she had hopes that this documentary would be received well by members of the film community and she has been getting great reviews for it but actually hearing it from Franky, it was a welcomed development, a confirmation of sorts. 

Their conversation was interrupted rather abruptly by the loud blaring siren of the ambulance speeding past behind them, with the emergency lights blinking brightly. 

Franky, as road courtesy, slowed down and pulled to the left, allowing the ambulance to pass and continue on its way. 

"Did we really pull this off?" Bea asked distracted. Her mind juggling in between thoughts about the reception for their documentary film, how nervous everyone in the dream team must be? How will she be able manage their expectations if they lose? What if they win? What Harry's done this time, but her eyes were following the ambulance that was speeding ahead, she can't seem to stop looking. 

"It's so close Red, I can almost taste it!" Franky's teasing snapped her out of her momentary trance. Franky's signature eyebrow wiggle made her laugh a little, a needed respite from her imploding thoughts. 

As they turned to exit freeway 25, their laughter was quickly silenced by the chilling sound of squealing tires and screeching brakes from a few meters away.

There were still visible skid marks on the road and on the far right, they see the ambulance seeming stranded on the side of the freeway.

 

The buzzing of the front door followed by loud cheers from the living room pulled Franky back from reliving that life altering night almost seven years ago. Everything changed overnight, personally and professionally. 

It was a turning point in their lives, and as Bea brought her entire team back to Los Angeles, it allowed her to be part of a true family, one that helped hone her skills and develop her craft.

That same family who supported her decision and didn’t held her back when she wanted to challenge herself to pursue another opportunity and moved back to Sydney to work for Inmates, almost two years ago. 

As she reunites with her best friend who took a chance on her - a struggling cinematographer, working as an unpaid intern in a small production firm, she can’t help but be nostalgic about how it all started. 

 

Franky slowly made her way back to the living room, bringing another batch of beer along with her from the kitchen, seeing Bea being engulfed in a tight bear hug by Boomer with Maxine, Martin, Will, Debbie, Carly and Shane all gathered around her, giving Bea a warm reception.

Franky placed the bucket of beer on the table and cleared her throat. "You took your fucking time, glad I didn't hold my breath." 

Everyone looked at Franky who was standing at the center of the living room, sporting that smug look, her arms securely folded across her chest. 

Bea moved closer. "I'm allowed to hold a grudge, Franky. You did, technically leave me to chase some girl, call it righteous indignation!" she deadpanned, giving Franky a challenging look.

It fell silent for approximately half a second and then they both started laughing. Everyone else followed suit.

"Well karma did some fucking number on me, I was ghosted.  Me! Franky fucking Doyle!” Franky went on a mini-rant, handing Will another beer.

“Oh you mean, Franky-ghosted-Doyle?” Boomer jumped in, snagging her own beer as she crashed on the couch. 

“Or Franky-left-on-read-Doyle?” Will adding his own suggestion. 

“Nooo” Debbie defended, “It's Franky-removed-from-chat-Doyle?” she said stifling a laugh. 

“Hey I thought you were on my side kiddo?” Franky glared at Debbie and the young teen just smiled at her cheekily. 

“How about Franky-get-the-hint-Doyle?” Shane dived in to the conversation.

Franky’s head snapping fast to look at Shane. “Hey!”  

“I think Franky-binned-by-that-blonde-Doyle has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Maxine asked while she takes her place on the couch between Boomer and Martin.  

"Ha-ha so funny, you think you got jokes now. Let me remind you all again who's the boss bitch around here?" She asked smugly, confident that she’ll win this round. 

"Bea!" Martin and Carly yelled in chorus.  

"Definitely, Bea!" Maxine agreeing quickly.

Debbie sniggered. "Yup, It's mom! Sorry Franky." 

"Bea fucking Smith, in the house! Woot woot!"  Boomer cheered on, throwing enthusiastic fist pumps in the air.

Another round of loud, raucous laughter erupted in the house. Everyone was just having a great time ganging up on Franky this way.

As expected, Franky didn’t miss the chance to drag her best friend along with her because she’s a firm believer of that age old mantra - if I’m going down, you’re going down with me.

"Oh you mean, Bea-I-got-the-hots-for-blondie-Smith, that Bea, right? Franky flashing Bea a knowing smirk, seemingly pleased with herself.  

"Oh for fuck's sakes" Bea groaned loudly from across the room, making everyone laugh again. 

"Who's blondie?" Boomer asked innocently after downing her beer. 

Debbie wondered aloud, "Allie Novak’s blonde?" she blurts out and then covered her mouth with both her hands.

Franky choked on her beer. "So it is true then! Aha!" looking with bewildered eyes at Debbie and then at Bea. 

"I plead the fifth! Sorry mom!" casting a apologetic smile on her mum, hiding her blushing face with her hands.  

Franky walked towards Debbie, patting her head like a little kid."Not applicable kiddo, nice try. That's the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, you're back in the Motherland now, yeah?" 

"Fine, I invoke my right against self incrimination then, that's universal. I googled it." Debbie showing her phone to Franky. 

"You were saying, Doyle?" Bea appearing miraculously behind the now puppy looking Franky. Bea's strategically holding the back of Franky's neck, with her right hand. 

"Nothing, I'm just messing with yah, I fucking missed you, Red!" she turned around and hugged Bea as tight as she can. 

"Get off, Doyle, come on!" Bea hissed, attempting to remove Franky’s tight hold of her.

"No fucking way! Not until I hear the magic words" Franky insisted, not budging a tiny bit.

"What magic words?" Bea asked confused.

"Franky is forgiven and Franky is the true boss bitch!" answering hurriedly, holding on to Bea tighter this time. 

"Guess I have a permanent human blanket now. Do you think I'd mind, Doyle? I've carried that niece of yours for nine months, you're a baby compared to Deb, and she was actually a baby." Bea challenged her annoying toddler of a best friend.

"That's until you'd want some sexy time with Blondie, ain't that.. Ouch!” Franky cried out loud. 

Bea's hand automatically hitting the back of Franky's head even before she finished her thought. 

Franky finally let’s go of Bea, while rubbing that part of her head where Bea made her point felt. 

"Not the head, asshole, brain cells don't fucking regenerate!" she moved quickly dodging another wave of attack. 

"You fucking done now? Erica didn't technically ghosted you moron, she sent word." She whispered, careful not to let anyone else overhear their conversation.

Franky was about to launch another jab but seeing the look on her best friend’s face, she knew instantly that Red was dead serious. She gave Bea another quick hug and then asked everyone to take their seat around the dining area. 

As Bea heads to the other room with the rest of her friends she’s considers her family, she chanced a quick look on the front door. 

Franky who happened to catch everything, can’t help but teased Bea again.  “Someone's keeping a keen eye on the door? Expecting someone, Red?”

“No! I was just looking. Is it a crime now to look now?” She answered rather defensively. 

“I'm kidding Red, fuck’s sakes, get some already yeah? It's messing you up big time.” Raising her hand up in mock-surrender.

Bea was about to tear her a new one but Franky was faster though. “I mean, food Red. Get some food!” she sniggered.

“Sure Doyle. Sure.” Bea rolled her eyes. Like she’d ever believe that Franky would pass up an opportunity to turn any conversation in to something sexual. 


For the last two years, dinner in LA is a typically quiet affair. Just Bea and Debbie - sometimes with Maxine joining them, sharing glorious meals from upscale bistros with high-end rotating menus to hip sidewalk cafes, offering edgy culinary fusion of international variety specially tweaked for any lifestyle or dietary choice that they desire, from paleo, to vegan, to keto – you name it, they have tried it all.

It was satisfying to say the least, but not as ambrosial like the one that she is having with her chosen family back here in Sydney.

Dinner is an absolute chaos – messy, loud, a lot of side talks, clanking of plates and cutleries but it was a welcomed chaos, a happy one at that.

Bea looked on at her daughter happily chatting away at the far end of the table with her childhood friends Carly and Shane, while inhaling her aunt Franky’s famous barbecued wagyu beef steak served medium rare.  

Across her, Maxine and Boomer where discussing at great length the sun, moon and rising placements of Maxine’s natal chart and the effects of Pluto Saturn conjunction, in between hearty bites of the spicy seafood paella, or at least that’s what Bea heard. 

While Will and Martin was having a friendly debate about a devastating inside-out forehand by Djokovic and Nadal’s lack of rhythm on their last match in the Australian Open over grilled whole king prawns with nam jim dressing and paired with their ice cold Victoria Bitter.

The sight, bringing her a soothing sense of tranquillity amidst the noise. A tiny smile forms on Bea’s lips. And as always, as if on cue, Bea made the stupid mistake of glacing to her side, and seeing that knowing, smug look on Franky, broke her inner peace.

"You're giving me that look again, Red. Still got the hots for me?" she teased, effectively bursting Bea’s zen bubble. 

“You know that thing with Erica, yeah?” she asked and then raised her hand and moved it across her lips. Zipping it shut.  

“I'm playing Red, I'll behave okay?” Franky pleaded. 

Bea let’s out a small laugh. “Good”

“So what's the plan? Back for good? Staying for a bit?” Franky probed a little. 

“I'm giving Debbie the chance to choose where she wants to go to college, there or back here. She's been accepted to two film schools in LA but still waiting for UNSW and University of Sydney. 

"Don't forget University of Melbourne too, mum!" Debbie chimed in from the far end of the table. 

"Stay here kiddo, coffee's better here anyway!" Boomer insisted, raising a thumb’s up towards Debbie.

"The shade!" Carly piping in, making the entire table laugh yet again.

"She's keeping her options open, we'll know by months end." Bea answered for her, smiling at her adorable daughter.

This was the first time she’s heard of Bea’s plan and she was really eager at potentially having her entire family back. "How about ABS Network? Can you just up and leave?"

"Not The Monster is in its season finale, it’s been seven years. It’s the perfect time to give it a proper ending, letting me end it on my own terms. As for I Am No Victim, renewal’s still being negotiated as we speak but I have a succession plan in place. Our Hot Little Secret has a very unique arrangement, I can actually stay on even if I'm not physically there. Your boss has been hounding me for years to move back, offered me complete autonomy for an eight-year development deal, same goes for CBN Network although I'm not inclined to accept anything from Jacs.” Bea explained as accurately as she can, leaving the finer details of moving back for some other time or at least as soon as this plan comes to fruition.

"Wow, you really got it all figured out Red. All you need now is the reason to stay."  Franky poked the redhead beside her. 

"Well... something like that." Bea stated simply and in that brief moment, her mind flashed an image of herself back in the park, at the precise moment that she was about to fall and suddenly feeling Allie’s warm body, catching her, holding her tight. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 14
Crashing Into You


It was half past eight in the evening when they decided to move the conversation back at the living room area. Franky’s exquisite culinary skill made them completely satiated leaving everyone in a state of after-dinner dip.

Shane, unfortunately, was running late for his night shift and had to excuse himself after dinner, a dine and dash thing as Debbie kindly put it. Will had another engagement that night and can’t stay long. He just really wanted to welcome his friend and his wife’s boss, back to Sydney.

Martin, being the only guy left, opted to head home early as well, giving the women a chance to have their ladies night.  

“How about a drinking game?’ Boomer suggested eagerly, wanting to get her drink on.

“We have kids here, Booms!” Maxine pointed out, tilting her head towards the two nineteen year olds recording a dance routine on their phones at the corner of the room, not a care in the world.
 
“They are of legal age to drink. What do you think Red?” Handing Bea, Boomer and Maxine a fresh batch of beer. 

“Let’s ask them then. Deb, we are going to play a drinking game.” She called over to her daughter. Laughing a little at Debbie and Carly’s dance challenge fail. 

They stopped dancing for a hot minute. “Uhm, not a fan of alcohol, to be honest mum. Carly?” 

“Can’t drink aunt Bea, I have work tomorrow. My boss already hates me as it is.” Smiling brightly and then rolling her eyes playfully. 

“But we want to play still, how about just Cokes for us?” Deb asked eagerly. Heading back to where her mom and her aunts are huddled around. 

“I’m down with that.” Boomer stood up quickly to get the girls some ice cold Cokes from the kitchen.

“Great! I have the perfect game!” Debbie reached inside her bag, in search of a card game she bought recently. 

Remembering the shopping bag her mom showed her earlier, she walked closer to Bea. “Mum, I left it in the car. Let me get it real quick.” 

“On it Deb, stay here.” Bea was already heading for the door, feeling for the keys in front pocket of her jeans as she walks out.

In Bea’s hurry, she wasn’t aware that at that very moment, a taxi stopped right out front. She didn’t hear the sound of a car door slamming shut nor the roaring of engine as the taxi slowly drive away after dropping off its passenger.

She also didn’t catch the footsteps of their very late guest, as she hurriedly climbed the steps towards the main door. In her haste though, Allie dropped her mobile phone on the landing as she was about to reach for the door knob. 

“Move your ass, Red!” Franky yelled out to Bea. 

“Pipe down, asshole!” Bea cursed over her shoulder as she opened the door wide, barrelling out, her head still turned, looking back.  

As Allie crouched down to retrieve her phone that she clumsily dropped, she heard the door opening and saw the hips of a person coming straight at her. Although she saw it coming, she was neither flexible enough to dodge the impact nor quick enough to step aside.

The collision was inevitable, and not just their bodies too. 

As Bea’s tummy rammed Allie’s forehead, the momentum caused Allie to fall flat on her back with Bea stumbling forward and landing on top her. 

Allie groaned, eyes closed, arms wide open but her elbows and knees still bent, an automatic bodily response to soften the impact.  

Bea spat out a confused “What the fuck?” as she scrambled to get a semblance of control over her body, gravity clearly not helping her stuck state. 

And then Allie got a whiff of a familiar scent. That distinct heavenly smell invading her entire senses, consuming her entire being. She knows that scent, how can she ever forget? 

She bolted her eyes open and her lips, instinctively uttered her name even before she had a chance to see her clearly. “Bea”

And Bea heard it, no matter how softly it was spoken or how shaky and breathy it was uttered, as though her entire body was electrified by that sound, that distinct staccato melody of her voice, that tugs on her heart, jolting her back to life. “Allie” 

They were face to face now, their nose almost touching. And for a few seconds, they allowed themselves this sweet surrender. 

The sound of Franky’s voice shattered their moment all too quickly. 
 
“What the fuck is going on?” Franky yelled from inside, her steps fast approaching. 

Bea smiled shyly, all fifty shades of red making its guest appearance on every part of her face. She pushed herself up and after gaining her footing, held a hand out to Allie and pulled her to her feet.

“I keep crashing into you!” Bea rasped out breathlessly. Her hands clutching her chest, in a futile attempt to calm the violent beating of her heart.

“Still not complaining, Bea. It is Bea right? Shaking off the dust on her elbow and arms but her eyes sneaking shy glances at the flustered redhead.

“Are you okay? How are you? Where did you? How did you? Why are you?” Bea mumbled, still not able to form a coherent sentence, her mind still in panic mode. 

“Are you always this articulate, Bea? Allie teased. Maybe a part of her wants to see if Bea can get any redder than she is right now.

Bea can already feel the warmth creeping on her face, at this point she considered for a brief second of getting her temperature checked. She tries her hardest to avoid looking at Allie’s... general direction.  

I was right, she can get redder and more adorable. Allie thought silently, melting instantly.  

“Oh hey blondie, you okay? It’s okay guys, it’s just Allie. Franky announced to the people behind her.

Franky looked at Allie - dishevelled hair, shaking the dust off her arms, sporting a wicked smile  and then she looked at Bea - blushing profusely, seems out of breath and then back at Allie again. Why do they look so guilty?

“Hold up, do you know each other?” Franky probed, clearly confused.

From inside the house, they hear a soft squeal, “Allie!” and in a few short seconds Debbie shot straight out the door and hugged her hero. 

Carly and Maxine were looking at each other. “Is she the Handrail Whisperer” Carly asked confused too. 

“Yes, that’s Allie alright.” Maxine confirming her suspicion. 

Bea was looking at the entire exchange. Deb was hugging Allie affectionately but Allie’s eyes were still focused on her. Flashing her a bright smile.

And then it hit her. “You’re Allie... from the coffee shop.. the one that saved my daughter?” she asked, wide-eyed, the small crease on her forehead already forming. 

“You know Allie mum?” as Debbie let’s go of Allie, a thought dawned on her too. 

“You’re Voldemort?” she looked at Allie questioningly, clearly taken by surprise.

Bea scoffed, amusedly. Stifling a laugh at her and her daughter’s inside joke.

“I’m who now? I mean I have a perfectly cute nose right here” Allie touched her nose out of impulse, pinching it slightly.

“Okay everyone, just get in the house! Let’s not disrupt the peace and quiet of my neighbours, yeah?” Franky commanded, restoring some form of order in this messy state.

“After you Bea” Allie ushered Bea, moving aside to let her pass.

Bea smiled, a tiny flush crept up her face. “You guys go ahead, I need to get something in the car anyway.” Bea insisted, jerking her head in the direction of the street. She needed a moment. Her mind is already running overdrive. 

Allie nodded in understand and slowly made her way inside. Before finally disappearing, she dared to glance back at Bea, only to be met by those gorgeous brown orbs looking back at her too. 

Allie gave her a flirty wink and then headed off. Bea grinned, visually flustered and then she was off too. 

Bea reached the car in no time and took out Debbie’s shopping bag. She paused for a moment, allowing her breath to catch up with her racing mind. She leaned against the car, putting her thoughts together.

“How the fuck is this real?” she spat out, shaking her head and releasing a long, exasperated sigh. She thinks back on last five days. 

The potty-mouth on the other line. “So you’re saying I’m sweet.” 

“C-can I have my hand back?”. The beautiful blonde stranger.

Debbie’s hero. “Mum, you just missed her.”

Stay forever, I don’t mind”. My hero.

Allie Novak is Franky’s Allie. And Debbie’s Allie. And my Allie.  

“My... Allie?” Ah! She let’s out a frustrated grunt. She’s not yours, keep it together!  

Do I want her to be? She entertained the idea for a fraction of a second and then shook it off.  

Bea heads back inside finding everyone gathered in the living room. She hung back a little. Leaning against the door frame, trying to get a feel of the room. 

Debbie was standing up in the middle, re-enacting how Allie stood up against the creepy sicko in order to protect her. Carly was standing beside her, playing Debbie. Debbie was playing Allie’s part and Boomer, towering across them both, volunteered to be the creeper. 

“So Allie was like, is there anything we can help you with?” Debbie attempting to mimic a tough-sounding voice, her hand flailing angrily in the air. 

“Is that how I sound like?” Allie asked, sitting comfortably on the couch beside Maxine, clearly amused.   

“Ofcourse yes! Oh mum, you’re back. You missed my re-enactment of Allie in the bus.” She said excitedly.

Allie was looking at Bea, beaming that lovely smile of hers, instantly sending shivers to Bea’s spine.

Franky crossed the room to pull Bea closer to them. “I’m sure Blondie here can give Red a private re-enactment”. She teased.

Bea nudged her in the ribs. Glaring at her to simply cut it out. 

“Ouch! So violent! Fine, that’s the last one. Come here, let me introduce you two properly.” Pulling Bea a little harder this time while Allie was already on her feet, meeting them halfway.

“Red, this is Allie Novak. Skills include answering someone else’s phone, master in the arts of dodging night out offers, and most importantly, fashionably late for impromptu dinner invites.” Tapping Allie’s shoulder, wiggling her eyebrows comically. 

“Huge huge thanks Doyle for putting in a good word for me.” Allie replied flatly, her voice dripping with sarcasm. 

“I serve to please” winking at the annoyed blonde beside her.

“Blondie, this is Bea Smith. My best mate and the founding member of If-Glares-Could-Kill-Movement.” Reaching to hug the glaring redhead beside her, but Bea side-stepped quickly. 

“See. Exhibit A. I rest my case” Franky said smugly, snatching the shopping bag out Bea’s hand and walking back to the group. 

Bea slowly looked at Allie, her features softening instantly, Allie’s effect perhaps. “I’m sorry about Franky, she’s just...”

“A pain in the ass!” Allie finished for her with a warm smile.

“An ass!” she sniggered, she can’t help but be giddy every god damn time she’s with her. 

Allie turned her entire body to face Bea, flashing her the biggest smile she’s got and giving Bea a sexy wink. “Hey Bea!”

“H-Hi... Allie!” Bea stuttered, a bit fazed but was smiling from ear to ear too.

“I feel my ears burning!” Franky appearing from behind the pair, latching one arm around Bea’s shoulder and the other, around Allie’s.  

“Okay, everyone gather around.” Franky instructed. Everyone followed suit, forming a small circle.

She remove her hold of Bea and Allie and clasped her hands together. “At this point of the night, let us say a little prayer for our dear friend...”

She paused dramatically  “...the late Allie Novak.” chuckling under her breath. 

Debbie scoffed while Carly gave Franky an annoyed eye roll, heading back to the couch that they were previously occupying.

Maxine and Boomer were holding their laugh in. Looking on at the fuming redhead and annoyed blonde, both gawking at Franky. 

“Oh come on!” Allie groaned, shaking her head in dismay.

“Fucking idiot!” Bea huffed and smacked Franky’s head with her right hand. 

Rubbing her head vigorously, Franky protested. “Again, not the head, Red!” 

“Have you even offered her food yet? I leave you alone for two-years and the manners just flies out the window, yeah. Un-fucking-believable!” Bea was seething, scolding her infant-trapped-in-an-adult-body best friend, like the kid that she really is.

Without thinking or warning, Bea grabbed Allie’s hand and ushered her towards the kitchen. “Let’s go Al, I’ll fix you a plate.” 

Bea stormed off, dragging a pleased looking Allie along with her. 

“Wow. She’s in a mood.” A baffled Franky pondered on.

Debbie tapped Franky’s shoulder, seeing the entire exchange for a distance. “Shouldn’t have poked the bear aunt Franky” a small smile forming on her face. 

“So Handrail Whisperer is, in fact, Voldemort. Hmm.” Debbie mused. 

Franky looked over her shoulder. "What did you say kiddo?" 

“I was just thinking aunt Franky. You know me, getting my thoughts in order.” 

They moved to sit on an unoccupied lounge chair. 

"What do you think about that?" Franky asked curiously. 

Debbie paused for a while, contemplating a bit. “Allie did save me from that creepy sicko, even if she didn't have to which, to me, shows the kind of person she is. And then mom shared something interesting, which, again, shows that she's genuine, authentic.” 

Franky leaned closer “Okay, what did your mom tell you exactly?

“Nope, I’m not telling.” Laughing at the miffed look of her aunt.  

Franky scowled. “Cheeky little shit.”

“Aunt Franky?” Debbie started again, hesitantly.

“Uhm.. You've known her longer right, what do you think?” she asked in a small voice. She feels good about Allie being around her mom but she can’t help but worry too.  

Seeing the look of concern from her niece, she tried to reassure her as honestly as she can. “I think your mom is in great hands, kiddo. Try not to worry too much, yeah?” 

Debbie smiled, accepting Franky’s answer. “I think so too” 

They stopped talking for a while. Debbie busying herself with searching something on the internet. 

“What are you looking at” Franky asked, pointing at her phone.

“Searching for pride parade dates, you know, for science.” She smiled genuinely.  

Franky ruffled her hair. “You're really cool with this, aren't you? 

“In the famous words of Phineas Flynn in Phineas and Ferb, Yes, Yes I am.” She replied hurriedly. 

They hugged each other tightly. Franky quickly wiped the tears forming in her eyes. 

After gaining her ground, she cleared her throat, “Okay, how about that drinking game?’

“About fucking time!” Boomer yelled from across the room, holding up her beer.

Chapter Text

Chapter 15
These Cards Will Get You Drunk


“Can you fucking believe that?” Bea was seething, tugging a confused but seemed to be very happy Allie along with her towards the kitchen. 

The short walk to the kitchen was a cherished time, as Bea was holding Allie’s hand yet again, like the way she held on to her at the cemetery. And just like in the cemetery, Allie could sense that Bea was not one hundred percent aware of what she’s doing. 

Bea was rambling a bit about how Franky was more of an ass than a proper host. She was squeezing Allie’s hand too, in the same rhythm as the stress on her voice whilst in a full on rant, confirming her earlier suspicion that Bea was, in fact, not aware of their locked-hands state.

And although she’s very much enjoying the warm hands enveloping her own, or how that simple touch is igniting a fire deep down her belly, daring to slowly creep on all of Allie’s nerve endings, she didn’t want to take advantage especially when this hot seductive redhead was fuming from head to toe on her behalf. 

“I get it Bea, you like me” Allie started. Her voice sweet and with a hint of flirty. Her sexy smirk bringing the final touch.

Bea looked back at her, confused. “What d’you say?” she spat with more fire than was intended but her eyes quickly softened when her mind finally registered Allie’s voice. 

“Sorry.” Bea mumbled weakly.

“It’s okay Bea, it’s just...” she raised their joined hands so that Bea could finally see what’s going on.

Bea released her hold of Allie in lightning speed. Apart from being embarrassed yet again, she felt a little hurt too. Maybe Allie really didn’t want to be touching her hand and she was just caught up in the moment. 

Maybe Allie was just being polite because that’s the kind of person she is and she didn’t want anything to do with Bea at all. Maybe Bea was just projecting her inner need and Allie was kind enough to just go with it. These thoughts were spiralling wildly inside Bea’s chaotic mind and getting worse by the second.

Allie saw it all, the way Bea quickly let go as if the act burned her or the way her eyes went from intense stare to deep sadness and then this hardened look. She saw her face, from the shocked expression of her mouth, the corner of her mouth quirking up and finally this tight lipped expression. 

Somehow, she knew the exact thought in Bea’s mind as it happened. Allie wanted to reassure the redhead that her touch is never unwanted. 

Don’t let me go, her heart was ready to say out loud but her mind won’t let her for the simple reason that she doesn’t want to push her nervous Bea. Her. Bea. The thought suddenly crossed her mind. Her mouth curved into a smile.                                           

“Hey, it’s not that Bea...” She inched closer, attempting to catch Bea’s gaze with those expressive blue eyes. Bea was still unable to meet them, too embarrassed and hurt to look up. Her guards are up again. 

Allie reached out and held her hand, the same one that was holding hers seconds ago. She held it tight, fingers interlaced. The movement startled Bea and snappily lifted her deep-set brown orbs at the beaming blonde beside her.

“I just want you to be sure. You know, this time.” She said in almost a whisper, her voice insecure. Her cheeks turning pink. 

It wasn’t the words that Allie uttered that tugged at Bea’s heart strings, but it was the way she said them - the shaky undertone and her open vulnerability that ignited something inside Bea. She had lived through it to know how it sounds like, how it looks like and seeing it with her own eyes on this delicate soul feels off, like it should never belong there.

And when Allie tugged on her hand, followed by that breathtaking smile forming on her lips, in that moment, every neuron inside her body froze, and that small crack that found its way on the metaphorical wall that she built in her heart was slowly chipping off, creating a ripple effect of narrow fissures on the surface but powerless to stop them altogether. And then, she’s basking again, in Allie’s.... everything.  

They were silent for a short while, just content with each others presence, still clasping hands as though their hands knew nothing else but hold each other. 

After a while, it was Bea who moved first.

She took out a plate and some cutleries, holding it on her free hand while Allie was opening the glassware rectangular food containers, choosing which food she’s in the mood for. She picked a few choice meats and some vegetables and put them on the plate that Bea was holding out, making sure to look at Bea’s eyes, grinning knowingly. She hears Bea letting out an amused scoff. 

“Try the wagyu beef, it’s Franky’s pride and joy” Bea said with a tiny smirk, pointing at the last container at the far end, with her lips.

Allie was instantly enthralled, following every small curve of Bea’s mouth. That tingling sensation making its way to her shoulder and neck area, making her blush. She shuddered, willing for the sensation to pass quickly. She’s so goddamn sexy, she doesn’t even need to try.

“Are you cold? Cause I can...” Bea asked innocently, the concern etched in every corner of her face, already alert to give Allie a jacket, a coat, a blanket, a duvet, something, anything to make Allie feel comfortable.     

“I’m good Bea, let’s just sit here please.” Snagging the barbecued beef from the last glass container, she quickly placed it on the plate. She took the plate from Bea’s hand and set it down on the kitchen island counter.  

Bea moved the bar stools out so they could sit, still hand in hand. 

“How about I’d let you finish this in peace.” Tugging at their joined hands. Not actually wanting to let go but it would be a challenge to eat with just one, Bea thinks.

Allie’s smile faded instantly, her lower lip quivered a bit, her eyes glistened. She’s wearing that look again, that one look that Bea has no counter for – rendering her utterly defenseless. 

Instead of withdrawing her hand from holding Allie’s, her free hand took the fork, scooped a small amount of paella and brought it up on Allie’s mouth. “Ayt, here. Open wide.” 

Allie’s mouth curved into a smile. “Things you can say at dinner and in bed!” 

“You’re worse than Franky!” Bea scoffed, shaking her head while her entire face turns scarlet. 

“Whoa whoa whoa!” Allie attempted to protest but the sexy scowl that the redhead was giving off made her stop. Not out of fear but because she’s melting quickly, like the puddle of hormones that she is right now.

“Just. Open up!” pushing the fork closer to Allie’s lips, encouraging her to take a bite. 

“A-Again... uhm... things you say at dinner and in bed. You’re good at this, Bea” she stuttered a little but regained her bravado quickly, teasing Bea yet again.

Bea rolled her eyes, poking her tongue against her cheek. She placed the fork down and leaned her frame forward in the motion of standing up.  

“No.. no.. come back.. please!” Allie pleaded, batting her lashes comically at Bea. 

She sat back down again, smiling at Allie. Her free hand rubbing her nape in the motion of stretching. “Ugh! Big baby! My other baby is actually just in the other room, you know”

Other baby? So I’m her baby too? Allie silently mused. Bea’s words ringing through her ears, the implications not flying by unnoticed. She considered, in passing, whether to call Bea out for her Freudian slip, but decided to let it go. This time.  

“So, it was Debbie that you were referring earlier.” Allie probed instead as she chews on her food.

“Yeah, who do you think it was?” she scrunched up her face, picking the fork back up again, she cut a small piece of beef and held it up in front of Allie’s mouth. 

She waited until Allie took a bite before she continued. “Okay, you know what. Let’s start from the beginning yeah?”

“Earlier, when I was..” she cleared her throat, swallowing a lump there. 

“When you were on top of me” Allie continued for her, cheekily. 

“Yeah... that... uhm... so.. uhm.. you called me Bea, how did you know my name?” Allie’s words rattling Bea again but somehow managed to get her own words out. 

Allie begins to tell her all about the interesting tag on Bea’s teal jacket. How she found it funny and creative. She then proceeded to ask Bea on how she found out her own name, in which Bea recounted the thing with the coffee cup sleeve leaving out a few anecdotes like Debbie finding her staring at the cup and creating a mini-shrine in it’s honor. She was too embarrassed to admit how much she’s been thinking about Allie all this time.

Allie continued telling Bea about how she met Debbie starting from the bus stop until she left for the cemetery where she eventually met Bea. Bea was listening attentively, hanging on Allie’s every word, all the while continuing to feed her other baby the remaining food on her plate. 

 

 

At the living room, Maxine, Boomer, Debbie, Carly and Franky were playing an intense and competitive card slash drinking game called These Cards Will Get You Drunk. So far, only Boomer and Franky were on the losing end of this game, making the duo a little drunk. 

“Should we check in on them?” Franky slurred, pointing her thumb towards the direction of the kitchen.  

“You know what, let me.” Maxine stood up quickly. Franky sober is vexing enough, a drunk one would definitely be too much especially for their hot head of a boss.  

When Maxine walked in on the pair, she noticed that they were both sitting so close next to each other, seemed too wrapped up in their own world, gazing affectionately into each other’s eyes.

Maxine could swear that what she’s seeing right now is the real life adaptation of Edouard Manet’s oil on canvas painting Chez le pere Lathuille.

She let her presence known by calling their name. “Bea, Allie. How are you guys doing?”

Allie saw the initial panicked expression from Bea and as if knowing, again, exactly what she needs before Bea says anything, she leaned her body closer to the counter and hurriedly hid their joined hands by placing them on her thigh, which in hindsight, may not be an ideal position because Bea’s thumb is a mere hair strand away from the apex of her thighs, which right about now is as overheated as the blush on the redhead's face because Bea noticed too how close her hand was but didn’t had the strength to pull up. 

“I-It’s a-all... uhm... g-good, I’m just keeping Allie company” Bea started, faltering a little.

Allie gave Maxine a warm smile. She didn’t know the dynamics of their friendship but she could feel from the way Bea was squeezing her hand that Maxine was important.

Maxine took out another batch of iced cold beer from the freezer. “We’re still playing this drinking game, join us, m’kay?”  

“Yes, we’ll be there in a while.” She reassured Maxine who was already on her way out, balancing on her hands the fresh beer bottles.  

When Maxine was out of earshot, they both let out a nervous laugh. 

“What are the chances that they were checking in on us?” Bea chuckled.

“One hundred, definitely one hundred. More or less.” She answered quickly but didn’t make any attempt to move their joint hands from her thigh.  

It was silent again for a short while, neither one wanting to address the big elephant in the room. 

Bea lifted their joint hands first, her face as red as it can get, she exhaled deeply.

“I don’t know what this is?” she said honestly. 

And as though Allie was reading her mind, she reassured the redhead in the way that only she can. “We don’t need to figure anything out tonight, Bea.”

“We do still have that outstanding date, tomorrow night at eight, right? Let’s start from there.” She continued making sure to send a flirty wink at her flustered Bea. 

“It’s hardly a date, Al” she gave a half shrug.

“And yet I’m still looking forward to our “not date” date.” Allie leaned forward to the counter, gaining enough counter balance to stand up and was waiting for Bea to do the same.

“You’re weird.” Bea jerked forward too, mirroring Allie’s actions.

“You say weird, I hear hot.” She winked and made a start on cleaning after herself, Bea helping along with her.

 

 

“Stop cheating aunt Franky!” Debbie whined, glaring at Franky.

Carly scowled. “Not fair!” 

“Fine, fine fine! Y’all got me." Franky raised her hand in surrender and took her beer.

“Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink!” the ladies were chanting in chorus, Boomer leading the pack.

“Down that bitch down ya pussy!” Boomer egging Franky on.

Franky flipped her middle finger at Boomer as she downs her beer in one go.

“Who’s next? Booms! Draw a card, come on!” Franky yelled, the alcohol clearly increasing both her level of excitement and the volume of her voice. 

Boomer drew a card from the center pile, and read out loud. “Everyone who is shorter than you drinks.”

She showed the card around, “Drink up, bitches!!!”

They collectively groaned and then laughed as each of them, except for Boomer and Maxine took a hefty gulp of their drinks. 

“Mum and Allie’s here! Great!” Debbie squealed excitedly seeing the couple emerge from the kitchen.

“About fucking time, was beginning to think you guys eloped out back” Franky jabbed at the two who were heading their way back to them.

Bea’s hands were securely jammed in her front pockets because that was the only way she could stop herself from reaching Allie’s hands when they did eventually let go a few seconds before leaving the comforts of the kitchen. 

Allie crossed her arms over her chest, needing to hold on to something after letting Bea’s hands go, else her damn hands would be searching for Bea’s again. 

“Don’t mind her Allie, Doyle’s just a bit drunk. Here.” Maxine handing Bea and Allie, a bottle of beer each.

“Okay so how do we play this.” Bea took a seat on the couch beside Maxine, patting the space beside her for Allie to sit on.  

Debbie was eager to give out the instructions. “Just sit anywhere, be comfortable. Then moving clockwise starting from Aunt Boomer, we take turns drawing a card from the deck over there.” Pointing at the orange deck of cards on top of the center table. “We read what the card say and follow the instruction on who drinks. That simple.“

“So if you’re sitting over there mum, the rotation is going to be Aunts Booms, Maxi, Mum, Allie, Me, Carly and Franky.” She continued after getting a nod from both Allie and Bea that they understood the rules.

“It’s Aunt Maxi’s turn now.” 

“Alright!” Maxine reached for the pile and drew a card. “The person after you drinks.” She chuckled softly, looking at the redhead beside her. 

“Oh fuck! I just got here!” Bea argued but took a swig of her beer anyway and placed it down on the table after. 

“Your turn Bea.” Maxine points at the deck.  Bea reached out on the center pile and drew a card. “You drink.”

“What the fuck? Again? Who rigged this? Bea started to protest but was sooner calmed down when Allie handed her, her beer.

“Drink up, Bea.” winking at the resisting redhead. 

“My turn!" Allie drew her card. “Everyone votes on who is the biggest asshole. That person drinks.”

“I vote Franky!” Raising her right hand up, with an annoyingly confident smile towards Franky, pay back time.  

“Hey!” Franky protested loudly.

“Franky!” Carly and Debbie called out in chorus!

“Franky it is!” Maxine handing down the verdict.

“Oh, is this how it is?” Franky sneered as she takes another swig on her freshly opened one. “It’s your turn Deb.” 

Debbie drew her own card. “Everyone who is single drinks. I guess I drink.” Debbie chuckled as she reached for her Coke.

Bea looked around and then slowly followed suit, making a mental note that Allie did, in fact, took a sip of her drink, as well. Pivoting her entire body to her side to hide that satisfied smirk on her face.

Allie was paying close attention too and seemed ecstatic that Bea knocked back her beer.

Franky chugged her beer, albeit, annoyed. 

Maxine, obviously didn’t and Carly as well. 

Boomer was sheepishly hiding that she did, in fact, not drink her beer, just raised it on her mouth.

“Wait! Why didn’t you drink?” Franky eyed Boomer suspiciously. “You dump Daz a week ago. I was there. Hold on!”

And while Franky was busy interrogating Booms with the assistance of Maxine, Allie was trying to catch Bea’s eyes. 

When their gaze finally met, Allie mouthing “Single?” to Bea, grinning at that.

Bea confirming her answer with that low raspy tone. “Single."

Allie raised an eyebrow in response and bit her bottom lip. “Good.”  

The game went on for a few more hours. The women enjoying tremendously the great company and the humor of everyone.

At one point, Franky had to take off her jacket, showing her impressive sleeve ink, when the card asked her to either take off an article of clothing or drink. 

Boomer almost suffered a back injury trying to re-enact the iconic dodging bullets scene in that classic 1999 Sci-fi film The Matrix, when the card wanted her to act out a scene from a movie or drink.

In the end, she acted the scene and downed her beer after, simply because she wanted to do both causing another roaring laughter from everyone.  

It was half-past ten in the evening when they decided to call it a night. It was still early but unfortunately, Allie and Boomer needed to be at the writer’s room early the next day. Carly also had an early morning work. There was no scheduled filming that Monday which means that Franky doesn’t need to be at the studio.

 

“See you tomorrow night, Bea” Allie said sweetly as she walked Bea out. 

“I’ll be there.” She replied breathily, a small flush finding its way up her face.

From inside the car, Debbie and Carly where looking on as Allie was sending off Bea.

“Allie looks very familiar. Like I’ve seen her somewhere.” Carly asked Debbie. She has been thinking about it ever since she saw Allie earlier in the night.

Carly’s usually good with names and faces, a skill that she’s picked up after a year of being an intern at a major television network. 

“Maybe you’ve seen her at work. She’s a writer for GMA Network. Not sure if she’d ever written anything for you guys at CBN.” 

“Nah, Chairman Jacs doesn’t usually meet staff writers and production teams. I’m only allowed to schedule her appointments with executive producers, directors and other network higher ups.” 

“It’ll come to you soon enough.” Debbie reassured her friend. 

“I hope so.” Carly said softly, her eyes still glued at their new friend, still scrambling her mind on where she’d seen her before. She can’t shake that nagging feeling that she is missing something important. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 16
Taking Care Of Business

 

“Franky's gonna kill me!” Allie groaned looking at her watch. Half past eight, fashionably late. Again. 

As the taxi pulled up the curb, she quickly paid the driver her fare and bolted out.

Walking on the short steps, Allie tried to put a semblance of normalcy, patting her hair down. She wanted to make a good impression with Franky's friend and arriving an hour late with a messy hair just won’t cut it.

"It's an impression alright." She blew out her cheeks. 

As she reached for the door knob, she accidentally dropped the phone from her hand.

"Of course, I'd drop this." She chuckled at her own klutziness.  

Allie immediately crouched down to retrieve the phone. She heard the door open and saw someone coming out in a hurry. 

The movement took her by surprise and she had only time to brace for impact. 

In a split second, her entire body was pinned on the landing by the full weight of the person who rushed out.

And then she registers that familiar scent, invading her entire senses. Not that she spent the entire afternoon wearing that teal jacket, wanting to envelope her entire body in her sweet scent, no, not at all. 

She bolted her eyes open, the name of the only person with this distinct heavenly scent on her lips, "Bea".

And not a moment too soon, she heard that familiar raspy voice sending a quick jolt to her core.

She’s on top of her, her face mere inches away from hers, their nose almost touching. She sees traces of that beautiful blush creeping on Bea's gorgeous face and for a second she could swear that her brown orbs turned a few shades darker.

Bea was staring at her, with a distinct look akin to hunger. Her dark brown eyes piercing through Allie's darker shade of blue, shifting from Allie's eyes to her luscious red lips and back up again.   

And when Bea lowered her lips slowly to capture Allie’s, a slow pulse followed quickly by a teasing throb ripped through her entire body. And something snapped. She wanted more, she needed more.

Their lips connected, starting in a slow seductive rhythm, building that moist sexual warmth all over her body, converging on her already sensitive core. Bea was straddling her leg and the slow grinding of Bea's hips following the sexy rhythm of her hot mouth is aggravating Allie's aroused state. 

She felt Bea deepen the kiss, the tip of her tongue gliding teasingly on her lower lip as though begging for entrance. Allie parted her lips, her body pliant and in complete surrender, allowing the redhead to continue. Needing no further encouragement Bea sucked on her tongue, hungrily and her hips increasing the speed of her grind, her thigh rubbing relentlessly Allie's already wet core. 

And then Bea stopped. Allie reached for Bea's nape silently pleading for her to continue, grabbing a handful of curly red hair in her haste but Bea took both of Allie's wrists in one hand and pinned them above her head on the ground. 

Bea gave Allie a sweet kiss on the lips and then started sucking on her neck, leaving red marks on her perfectly milky skin. Her other hand was tracing the contours of Allie's body, starting from her arm, making its way to Allie's right breast over her shirt, giving it a small squeeze. Her thumb grazing through her hardened nipple.

Allie released a soft moan, her breathing fluctuating with each lick from Bea’s hot tongue. She can already feel the brink of her climax, she’s not gonna last long. 

But then they both heard the faint sound of buzzing from a distance, making Bea abruptly stop. It was a continuous strong noise that was getting nearer, louder and more annoying by the second.  

And when the ear-splitting buzz was too much to bear, Allie woke up with a start. 

Her eyes snap open and she found herself sitting in the middle of her bed, still a bit disoriented. The nagging buzz of her phone alarm was the only sound reverberating in the otherwise quiet room.  

She pulled the covers up, still breathing heavily. Her heart was still pounding wildly with all the adrenaline rushing through her body. 

“UGH!” She let’s out a frustrated groan. Still hot and bothered from her rather graphic dream. She pondered whether it really did happen because it all feels so real. She can still feel Bea everywhere and when she reached down her underpants, she’s soaking wet.  

She exhaled deeply, still shaking her head in disbelief. She begrudgingly pulled the covers completely and got out of bed. Her knees are still wobbly and she wonders how this intense dream could bring her in such a state of arousal, it’s a first. 

No former romantic partners or business transactions in her past life, lucid or otherwise has ever left her this heated, that same warmth that’s spreading throughout her body and she’s pretty sure that her ears are still burning, feeling goose bumps all around.

All this from a dream, a dream where Bea barely touched her, what more if...”UGHHH!!” she let’s out another frustrated moan. 

She heads straight for the showers, there’s an urgent matter needing her undivided attention that she has to take care of lest she’ll be frustrated and off her game throughout the day.

And she can’t have that, not today when they will be pitching to the network executives the ridiculously expensive revisions that their Showrunner wanted for the finale of Inmates.

Today is too important to be distracted by her thirsty thoughts thus the need to take the matters in to her own hands, so to speak. 

 

She peeled off her oversized shirt, her soaked underwear and stepped tentatively inside the shower. Her toes flinched a little as she felt the cold tiled floor. The sensation of the first wave of warm drops trickling down her back felt heavenly as it pacified the erratic beating of her heart.    

As the stream thickens and steam rises, she closed her eyes and relaxed her shoulders. Her mind already back to the intricate details of her hot dream. As the heat soaks into her skin, she sees Bea, in her mind, sharing this shower with her. Bea’s dark brown eyes looking at her with carnal longing. She takes Bea’s hand and guides it to where she needs it the most. 

With her lips parted, inhaling deeply, her hand glides over her slick body. Slowly teasing her erect nipple, giving it a gentle tug, playing with it a little.

Travelling down slowly, caressing her tight abs, lingering a little at her hip bone and reaching finally her over heated mound.  
 
Her middle finger finding her engorged nub, stroking, teasing, increasing the pressure by the second. Her other hand pressed flat against the wall, keeping her balance as she continues to tease herself.

She began pushing two fingers inside her tight slit, finding her perfect rhythm. She moved her fingers faster and faster. Increasing the pressure and intensity, she moaned as her core starts to clench hard.

She was on the brink and as she remembers Bea’s voice telling her to open wide, her inner walls clamped around her fingers as the orgasm finally took her.

Flushed cheeks, throbbing core and her lips still moaning Bea’s name as she floats from her orgasmic high. 

 

 

 

“Mum! Wake up! Wake up please!” an extremely excited and loud brown eyed teen with her still messy curly brown mane pleads to a peaceful sleeping redhead early Monday morning. 

Noticing that her mom is not budging, she launched herself on top of her mom, and just laid there facing the ceiling, applying all her weight on Bea’s sleeping form. 

Feeling a heavy weight on top of her and hearing the muffled voice of her daughter, Bea’s eyes shot up and started getting out of the bed, causing Debbie to fall slowly off the bed, laughing when her bottom hit the floor. 

For a brief moment, a flash of panic came through Bea’s eyes but upon seeing Debbie’s laughing form, she instantly relaxed. Her daughter’s laugh sending a calming wave in her heart. 

“Where’s the fire, Deb?” she asked in a raspy voice, extending her hand to lift Debbie up.

“No fire mum, I’m just so excited to tell you something” Debbie’s instant reply, her eyes lighting up like Christmas morning. Taking a seat on the bed beside her mum, she waited until her mother’s full attention is with her.

“Go on then, what’s this news that you can’t wait to tell me? What time is it anyway?” Bea looked at the alarm clock on her nightstand and it’s registering ten minutes before six o’clock in the morning. Too early, she thought. 

Looking at her daughter, she can’t help but smile at the excited grin that she is sporting.

“I got in, mum!” she squealed eagerly, showing her mom a white package with a bunch of documents inside and an admissions letter with the University of New South Wales logo on top of the pile. 

“I got the confirmation email as well, here mum” she showed the email she received on her mobile phone. 

“Congratulations Deb! I’m so proud of you!” Bea’s mind was still buzzing with all the information. She was so proud of her daughter. She knew how much her daughter worked hard in school and eventually graduating with full honors. She knew that she’d be accepted anywhere.  

“There’s an open house starting today for the whole week, I figured we could check it out!” She said excitedly, browsing at the University Handbook included in her admissions packet. 

“And uhm.. mum.. I’m also eligible for a full academic scholarship.” She said, a little apprehensive. Retrieving a piece of document from inside the envelope. 

“You don’t sound thrilled, sweetheart. What’s wrong?” Bea asked worriedly.

“Well mum, look here.” Moving near her mom, showing her the guidelines for the academic scholarship application. 

“It says that every academic year, they only take ten eligible candidates to avail the full scholarship in the Arts & Social Sciences department.” She read on. 

“I figured if I applied and be awarded the scholarship, it’s like I’m taking one slot away from someone who probably is talented and creative as me or even more but wouldn’t be able to afford their tuition.”   She explained in a sad tone.

“On the other hand, I know we’re with money, well you are mum but I also don’t feel good about just taking a hand out, for my tuition. I’m conflicted right now.” She shrugged, her eyes still in deep thought. 

Bea could not have been more proud of Debbie as she is right now at this moment. Her daughter, her young daughter who was barely an adult, already has a deep grasp of her privilege and understands how it could possibly affect other people if not used wisely and carefully.  She lovingly smiled at her baby, ruffling her already messy curls.

“Deb, I fully intend to finance your studies. I have set aside enough money to see you go to college, masters and even doctorate program, if that is what you intend to do.” Bea gave a dismissive wave of her hand at Debbie who was about to argue with her on that front. 

“Do well with your studies, and when the time comes, we pay it forward as much as we can. Is that clear sweetheart?” She kissed the top of Debbie’s head and slowly stood up.

“Now how about that open house? Can’t wait to see my Alma Mater!” she asked eagerly, giving her daughter a comical smile.

Debbie squealed excitedly. “I love you mum!” she launched herself at her mom, hugging her tight and then bolted out of the room.

“Forty minutes, mum, tops!” she shouted over her shoulder. 

Bea was left speechless, shaking her head in amusement. Today is starting out great, she thinks.  

 

After spending an entire morning touring around University of New South Wales - School of the Arts & Media, she realized two things:

First, that Debbie would thrive here, their curriculum for Digital Filmmaking and Multimedia Arts would suit very well Debbie’s creative process and second, if she ever did decide to quit producing shows or films, that their Dean would welcome her as a full professor. He was already wooing her for the post from the moment they heard that Bea and her daughter was on campus.

Debbie was so eager to see everything and Bea has a feeling that UNSW is already on her daughter's top tier option for college but she’ll wait for Debbie to make that decision on her own.

After spending a hearty lunch out, they went back to the hotel. Debbie opting to just sleep in and just chill while Bea makes good on her promise to visit Franky that afternoon.

 

 

“Say that again Red, why the fuck would she lie?” Franky was fuming as she handed Bea a fresh cup of coffee. When Bea told her last night that she would be dropping by the next day to talk, she didn’t expect that it would be about Erica. 

“Did you know see was engaged?” taking the offered cup from her bestfriend’s hand as she sat on the bar stool. She placed it on the kitchen island counter. 

Franky shook her head. “I knew there was a Mark but she told me they were over.” Exhaling loudly. 

“And what does Derek have to do with any of this? I’d take a fucking swing at his ugly mug, to hell with getting fired!” she spat angrily, clenching her fists.

“Hey hey hey... let’s get all our facts sorted first. He could be more trouble than what we bargained for. I’m meeting someone else in a couple of days, we’ll know more by then.” She gestured for Franky to take a seat. It would be wiser to know exactly what they are getting themselves into. 

Franky pulled the other stool out, sitting abruptly. “I don’t suppose you’ll be meeting who I think you’ll be meeting.” 

Bea lifted her shoulder in a half shrug. “Carly said that her mom is currently on a location shoot at Perth. She’ll be back by Thursday.” 

“You’d meet her? For me?” Franky’s mouth was wide open, clearly surprised. She knew that there was a falling out between Simmo and Bea and hearing from Bea that she’s willing to put their beef aside for her sake, she felt humbled.  

In a few seconds Franky was on her feet, attempting to hug her bestfriend. Bea was quick to dodge the affection. Ducking at the right moment. Smirking when Franky missed.

“Oh is that so? Blondie is the only one allowed to hug you now, is that it? Franky quickly quipped. She folded her arms and smiled smugly at Bea.

“Fuck off!” she yelled but without bite into it. 

“Bullshit! I see through you asshole! So what is it? Do we need a symbolic passing of the gay flag as a welcome ceremony?” she jabbed at her now scowling best friend.

“No! I don’t know! It’s just...” Bea faltered, unable to form a coherent thought. The question clearly catching her off guard.

“It’s just what, Bea? Use your words.” Franky encouraged.

At any given day, if you throw at Bea some intricate, out of this world, hypothetical post apocalyptic scenario dealing with existential crisis or complicated medical process involving artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial forces, she’ll pick it up in a heartbeat. 

She eats complex discussion of human emotions involving anger, rage, social justice and their need to be in constant balance with predilection to the existence of multi-verse, for breakfast but struggles to relate to the basic concepts of romantic affections. 

It’s almost amusing really, if not for the fact that the reason that her best friend is having a hard time processing her feelings is due to years and years of systemic gaslighting, carefully crafted manipulations and crippling emotional blackmails from a half decent talented tool who had every potential to make it big in the film industry but instead decided to use his skills in to living off his wife’s fame and genius but resented her everyday for it. The lazy fucker can’t handle living under the shadow of his brilliant wife but refuses to venture on his own. 

Franky always did thought that there were three controlling voices in Bea’s marriage: Bea’s, Harry’s and Harry’s spectacularly overdeveloped but highly fragile ego.    

“I just forget, okay?” Bea’s shaky voice brought her back to her senses.

“When I’m with her I just forget.” Bea confessed nervously

“You forget what?” Franky pressed on, determined to help Bea in her thought process even if it would take all arvo. 
 
“I just forget that I don’t know how to do this. I am not built for this, whatever this is.” she stood up unceremoniously. Her hand reaching for her nape, that familiar tick she does when she’s conflicted.

“First, let me emphasize this again, whatever bullshit that fucking psycho planted in your brain was designed precisely to control you, make you doubt everything but he’s wrong Bea. He’s fucking nothing.” Franky was on a full on rant, just thinking about that idiot psycho is making her blood boil.

Franky was on her feet now too, moving closer to Bea. “Second, let’s get to the bottom of this, what is it with her... for you?” 

“I-I... I just want to protect her, Franky. From this messed up world.” She huffed. And just like that, her mind flashed her specific moments with Allie where the  beautiful blonde’s smile faded. The memory keeps leaving a painful jab at her heart. 

“Like the way you protect Debbie or even me, is that right?” Franky asked softly, trudging carefully. 

Bea drew in a long breath, resting both her hands on the kitchen island. “Yeah, I guess so.”

“That’s good, that’s a start. You care for someone who is not in our family... well not yet.” Franky pushed a little, seeing baby steps on the progress. It’s a win, at least. 

Bea was shaking her head in disapproval. “That’s the thing, I don’t want to give her false hope just in case this doesn’t go anywhere. I’m not even sure if we’re staying here for good.”

Franky walked closer trying to catch Bea’s eyes. “Okay, Red, Breathe.” She held Bea's shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. 

“My advice... you have to tell her, be honest with what complications that you think, is going to make this difficult for you or for her. Then let her decide. Don’t take her choice away from her. That’s how it goes, well for non-toxic relationships that is. It’s all about consent, it’s essential and it’s always sexy.” Franky explained to the confused redhead beside her. Bea needs to understand that this goes both ways, and it will only work if she let’s Allie in.

There was a few minutes of silence between them. Bea was processing things and Franky just lets her.  

“That was decent, even for you Doyle.” Bea chuckled, the humor back again, a sign that Franky got through her somehow. 

“Fuck off, Red. Our next coaching session will be about how to give your girl multiple orgasms while waiting for laundry to dry. You know, tips and tricks. That sort.” She waggled her eyebrows at her blushing friend. 

"And now you just made this awkward asshole." Bea’s right fist giving Franky a soft punch on the shoulder.

Franky feigned hurt, glaring at Bea. And then both started chuckling.

Franky looks on at her laughing bestfriend and for the first time, in a long while, she feels hopeful.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17
Change Your Mind 

 

The writer’s room was eerily quiet. The usual loud bickering among the writers or the heated discussion on story arcs and inconsistent character development emanating from this room for weeks now was surprisingly non-existent today.

It’s as though you’ve stepped on an entirely different room. The five souls currently occupying it were all busy in their own little worlds. 

Allie was mindlessly rummaging through the headshots of the actors that she has taken down from the board, seemed to be in a deep thought, looking at the clock from time to time. It registered half past two. Allie counted, five and a half hours more before she could see her favourite person in the world. She smiles at the thought.

She felt a little guilty for having that graphic dream about her sexy redhead but she can’t help how strong her pull is towards this amazing woman. 

Sitting beside her was Boomer who was busy reading a revised draft of a sequence that she worked on with Linda, who was at this moment busy preparing a tentative shot list for Franky to use.

Tina and Kim where at the storyboard, discussing a timeline issue with the episode that they were assigned to write and even they were talking in whispers. 

They were all waiting with nervous anticipation of whether or not the network would approve their expensive revision of the last remaining episodes for season two. They knew how much Derek infused their writing with a lot of redundant and totally unnecessary scenes that would inflate, monumentally, their production cost including hiring of professional stunt doubles, fight scene coordinators, excessively large extras for a three minute action sequence, pretty expensive and over-the-top riggings and an extremely costly location shoot that they can totally do without since they already have a perfectly functional sound stage in studio 15 but Derek was dead-set on his plan and would stop at nothing to see it through.

Derek came scurrying inside, with Vera trailing behind him and a petite woman with short blonde hair beside her. 

“All systems go, ladies!” he said enthusiastically. 

The writers stopped to listen at Derek’s announcement.

“Chairman Sonia was fuming but she caved eventually, Geoffrey backed us up bigtime.” He said, rather satisfied with himself. 

“Novak, I’ll be sending some documents for you to sign. Just standard bs and we’re good to go.” 

“Vera, will take it from here.” 

Derek nodded to Vera and to the blonde director beside her and he left as quickly as he arrived. 

“Yes everyone, I’d like you to meet Bridget Westfall, she’ll be joining our prod team as our new stunt and fight scene director. We flew her in from Los Angeles to help us with our finale.” Vera announced to the party of five. 

Everyone was all smiles, giving their best and warmest welcome to the latest addition to their directorial team.  

“You’ll be working closely with Allie Novak.” Vera pointing at the smiling blonde. “She’s our story editor and our head writer now.”

“And also Franky Doyle, she’s our Director of Photography but they don’t have filming schedule for today so you will meet the prod team by...”

“Tuesday, boss!” Linda piped up!

“Tuesday it is!” she continued. 

“Allie here will walk you through the script. Allie, ladies. I’ll leave you to it.”

They waved their boss goodbye and started giving Bridget a quick run through of the script, that particular fight sequence between Becca Smith and the eight inmates from different prison factions. 

 


“Hey Bridge, can I call you Bridge?” Boomer asked, skimming through the script while eating her favourite bickies. 

“Sure, Boomer.” She smiled at Boomer, Bridget can already feel that she is welcomed in this team.

“Okay so you work in LA right? Ever worked at ABS Network.” Boomer asked, a bit intrigued.  

Bridget stopped reading the script and turned her chair to face Boomer completely. “Currently working for a few shows with them actually, I Am No Victims and Our Hot Little Secret.

“Hey that’s Bea’s shows.” She exclaimed excitedly. Dragging her chair near Bridget.

Bea Smith? The name piqued the interest of Allie who wasn’t paying attention to the conversation until she heard Bea’s name.

“You know Bea, Boomer?” Bridget asked curiously. She knew Bea Smith has excellent connections all over the world but was still a bit surprised to hear her name mentioned here. 

“She my best mate, she and Maxi” Boomer announced proudly. 

“Ah! Yes! Bea Smith and Maxine Conway. They are the best people to work with, I must say.” Nodding in approval.

Bridget went on with the conversation. “Bea doesn’t say much though, I’ve never actually seen her smile on set but excellent work ethic, topnotch! Hates late, very professional. Driven and down-to-earth, a rare combination for a top boss.”

Doesn’t say much? Never seen her smile? Now Allie is confused. A non-talker, non-smiling Bea, surely Bridget was talking about someone else. Allie ruminates silently, still eavesdropping on Boomer and Bridget’s conversation. 
 
“Oh that’s our Bea. It takes a while for her to ease up you know but she takes good care of her team and we love her for it.” Boomer explained a little.
  
“Bea’s generally zen you know, doesn’t talk much but gets shit done. But boy can she put the fear of god in you when you cross her. I’ve never been late ever since.”    

But she always have that smile. And that laugh of hers, it’s the most beautiful sound in the world. And those intense brown eyes, when she smiles with her eyes. She’s always been smiling at me, laughing with me and even then when we were still strangers. Was it because it’s me? The thought was bringing a different kind of warmth to her heart. 

 


It was already dark outside and Bea was sitting on a table by the window, waiting for Allie to arrive.  She looked at the time, half past eight. She took another sip of her coffee, it’s cold now. 

After having that emotional talk with Franky, Bea was still nervous as to how she’s going to tell Allie what’s bothering her so much. How will Allie take it? What if it’s too much? What if she decides it’s too much work for someone she just met?

The what ifs are swirling dangerously around Bea’s head and if she doesn’t take control of this over thinking soon, she might just implode. 

She looks at her watch again. Eight thirty-one. Bea starts to spiral into another fit of over thinking.

What if something happened? 
Was there an accident?
Should I call the network?
Why didn’t I get her number?
What if she changed her mind?
What if she really didn’t want this anymore?

She drew in a long breath, feeling depleted. Maybe it’s for the best. Bea tries to convince herself but the pang of hurt in her heart is making it impossible to just shrug off. She reached for her nape, tilting her head side to side. A sad sigh escaped her lips.

It was ten minutes past nine. And every minute passing is another strand of hope being abruptly cut from the metaphorical thread that’s holding her sanity and her heart together. It’s about to break entirely. 

She reached for her coffee, it’s almost empty now and somehow she can’t seem to let go of the cup. It’s the only thing that’s keeping her grounded. And just when she was about to lose hope entirely, she hears the soft ding of the coffee shop door.

Her head turned towards the entrance, then she saw her... clearly panicked, a distraught look on her face and when she saw Bea, she almost cried. 

In that short second, Bea was at her side, worried at the troubled look that Allie was giving off. 

“I’m sorry Bea. I thought I’d lost you. I got caught up in the studio and then I had car trouble and I wanted to be here on time.” She was rambling on, nervously. Bea just took her hand, squeezing it a bit to get Allie’s attention.

The gesture made Allie stop entirely, her eyes on the verge of tears now.   

“I’m just happy you’re here. I was beginning to think... you’d change your mind.” Bea spoke softly, sincerely. 

“No... Never... Not with you...” Allie blurted out. The confession may have been abrupt but the sentiment remains true.

“In hindsight, eight is too early for us. I should’ve known... with the hours I put in the studio. It’s my fault, really, Al.” Bea shifting the responsibility off Allie, a nasty habit that keeps resurfacing every now and then. Apologizing for something that she is not responsible for.

“That’s really sweet Bea but this is really on me and please let me make it up to you.” Tugging her hand, wanting her to understand. 

It was silent for a few seconds, Allie was still catching her breath and then Bea spoke again. 

“How about we get out of here. Looks like we could use a good old fashion burger and milkshake right now. And I know just the place.” Bea beamed at Allie, a plan suddenly in motion. 

“Where have you been all my life?” she teased.

“What?” Bea leaned closer to the blonde, her nose almost touching Allie’s. Eyeing her suspiciously.

“N-Nothing. Shall we?” she stuttered, the action catching her off guard.

Bea started heading for the door, pulling Allie’s hand to come with her. “I heard that you know.” 

“Oh I know.” She bit her bottom lip and followed her beautiful date out.

 


Bea hailed the first taxi they saw the moment they got out of the coffee shop. She opened the door and let Allie in first. It was a short ride, and Allie wondered if they were dropped off at the correct place. They were barely five minutes into the ride.

“I didn’t want you to walk anymore than necessary. You still haven’t eaten yet, it would expend energy that you’re running low on, right now.” She said thoughtfully, seeing the puzzled look on Allie.

Allie was speechless for a while. The affection was so practical and yet it speaks volumes on how much Bea show she cares. Maybe this was Bea’s love language. Love. Too soon, she thinks.

“We are here.” Bea announced proudly looking over at Allie who’s face has suddenly lost all its color.

They were standing in front of an insidious looking door, alarmingly no windows and just a Neon sign flashing the word BAR and arrow pointing downward towards the door.

It’s straight out of a crime thriller movie, that one bar where every dangerous shit happens. This is the exact replica of that and Allie was a bit apprehensive. She’d been inside questionable looking places in another life but this tops the list. 

Bea pushed open the door and heads in, Allie trailing behind her. They passed through a narrow, poorly lit corridor and when they reached the opening, they found themselves inside a dimly-lit pub, with high ceiling, high top tables and standing rails. It’s grimy, giving off that perfect combination of dread and desperation yet somehow comforting. Maybe because she’s with Bea. Maybe that was it.

There’s an old timey jukebox at the corner, a pool table on the right occupied by two women wearing the skimpiest shorts that Allie has ever seen and body tight midriffs exposing both their curves and their bellybuttons. They were laughing loudly without care in the world.

She knew exactly their types, she was the same a few years back. Waiting for the time to pass before the next hustle or this was their place of hustle. Could be both.

The place was packed, but mostly minding their own drinks and engaging into their own conversations but stopped when Bea and Allie came in. It was strangely quiet for a few seconds, as they checked out the strangers who stumbled into their safe house and then they started with their own business again.

The sound of the jukebox playing some 80s music rock ballad was muffled by the soft chattering from the patrons. Cigar smoke wafting all over the place, increasing the level of sinister vibe. 

“Bea is that you?” a loud raspy voice came from the bar. 

Bea nodded and turned back at Allie. She smiled at her blonde date and held her hand tighter so as not to lose her in the crowd. They headed straight to the bar.

“Shay!” Bea called out, acknowledging the bartender who looks like a blonde version of Franky, flirty smirk, ink laden sleeve and was annoyingly checking Bea out.

“It’s been years Bea, how are you?” She said while serving a pint to a regular at the bar.

“I’m good Shay. Flew in last week.” Looking around the bar, seeing the same things staying the same. Year-long christmas lights, the decades old display of licence plates from all over the world, vintage Coca Cola bottles and merchandise hanging about, big dilapidated chalkboard explaining the house rules. It was like being pulled back to a trippy memory lane. 

“Knew you couldn’t stay away. Place is packed. Apparently, dives are cool now. All this Instagram addicted younger crowd keeps asking for gastro-infused whatever and I keep disappointing them with a beer and a shot. Makes my night!” Shay said with a hearty laugh, giving Bea a flirty wink.  

“How about you and your friend settle at the far end of the bar, I’ll put a reserve sign in that area so you guys can have a bit of privacy okay? I’m Shay by the way, extending her hand to shake Allie’s.” 

“Allie!” giving her free hand to Shay, shaking her hand with a stronger grip that was intended. Jealousy rearing it’s ugly head. Shay understanding the gesture.

“Got it, sis!” She said with a laugh, holding her hands up in surrender.

“What was that about?” Bea asked, clearly confused at the entire exchange. Walking the short distance to the end of the bar.

“I got a bit jelly. Sorry.” Allie confessed, sheepishly. 

And before Bea could continue asking, Shay’s voice was yelling at them from the bar.  “So that’s two of your regular?”

“Yes, please!” Bea answered almost immediately. 

Bea moved the bar stools at the far end corner and help Allie settle in her seat before taking the seat beside her. It was a tight fit, they were so close their knees were touching but they didn’t seem to mind the close proximity. 

Allie was still in awe at everything about this dive and placing Bea anywhere near this place, it feels like there’s some history here and she was curious to know it all, know everything about this woman who has been consuming her thoughts. 

“I took the liberty of ordering for us, I hope that’s okay.” Bea leaned closer, her lips just a few inches from Allie’s ear, making Allie shudder a little. 

“At this point, I’d eat anything.” She quip nonchalantly.

For some reason, Bea’s face reddened. She was looking everywhere except at Allie.

“Oh my god Bea. Why are you blushing?” Allie asked worriedly.

She nervously raked her fingers through her hair. “I’m not!” 

“You’re still blushing.” Allie teased, still not dropping the issue. 

“Glad to know that THAT’S on your mind right now.” She giggled making Bea blush even more.

“It wasn’t.”  Bea was laughing now too. She really can’t help it with her. 

“Fine, you’re off the hook tonight. Mainly because this place is such a mystery for me and also because you look beautiful Bea.”

Bea was blushing, shaking her head in amusement.  “Thank you.”

“I was going to tell you about this place but on second thoughts.”

“Hey, I love a good story time. You know that for a fact Bea, come on! Don’t make me beg.” Allie pouted. 

“Just! Don’t!" Bea waved her hand up, a gesture to make Allie stop.

“Don’t what?” Allie asked confused.

“That look, you have that look. The one with the googly eye thing.” She said shyly, avoiding Allie’s gaze.

“Yeah, what about it?” She asked curiously, wondering why Bea wouldn’t look her straight. 

And then an idea hit her. “Don’t tell me. Does it make you weak, Bea?” she teased, her hand fidgeting with Bea’s fingers.

“Okay, I’ll let up.” The continuous blushing of Bea’s face, though it may be an endearing sight to see, might be bordering on too much and Allie doesn’t want to push Bea.  

“This place. Storytime. Please?” She tried again in a soft plea, this time.

Bea cleared her throat and finally looked at her beautiful date. “And since you asked kindly, I used to work at the building across. Small production company. I was a producer/director for about two years. And we use to work at ungodly hours. It was pretty difficult to find a decent place to eat with those crazy prod hours and I was bringing Deb around too, she was five.”   

“One night, I was coming off from work about to head home. It was late and Deb was with me at that time. Marge, that’s Shay’s mom, saw us while Deb was having those rare tantrums. It has been a long day for me, between taking my masters, taking care of Deb and developing the final stages of a feature film, I was exhausted and spreading myself too thin. At that point, I was on the verge of tears. I guess Marge saw how distressed I looked and took pity on us. She asked us to come in.”

She stopped abruptly, realizing that she’s sharing a part of herself to Allie who is still, in some ways, a stranger to her but the motion of Allie’s thumb caressing her wrist was calming her, grounding her more and more, urging her to continue. 

“Okay, I know what you’re thinking.” She started again.

"A place like this and a five-year old. I know, it was probably not wise but Marge was such a welcoming soul and I didn’t know what to do anymore. I was desperate the least. Turns out, this place was almost empty that night and she fixed me and Deb these amazing burgers and milkshakes. They don’t serve food here, so I was surprised that Marge took time to prepare that for us. It was heavenly.”

“We talked a little and after that delicious meal, she wouldn’t take the money, so I offered her a deal. I’d invest a small amount so that she could add three food items, off-menu, that heavenly burger, milkshake and fried wings. My team could just cross the street to grab a bite and not go all the way downtown just to eat. It was a win-win. She had a soft spot for Debbie, she named the milkshake after her, called it DebShake, DS.” 

“I guess it took off from there.” She ended her story feeling a sense of accomplishment, maybe she can do this after all, she silently mused, smiling affectionately at the beaming blonde in front of her. 

“Here you go, ladies. Two orders of Just One, Judas Wings and Straight-up DS, none of that Doyle twist. Enjoy!” Shay announced, bringing in their food order.

She put up a RESERVE sign on the area of the bar beside Bea before rushing to get the order of another patron. 

“Okay, walk me through this, Bea.” 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 18 
It Can’t Be


“A Doyle twist? Franky?” Allie asked excitedly, wide-eyed and her mouth watering at the massive burger placed in front of her. 

Bea curated their meal for the benefit of her hungry date. “They call this burger Just One because you only need to eat just one, more than one and you’ll be sent straight to the ER.” 

“Just look” pointing at the burger. “Thick slab of bacon, juicy double beef patty, dripping hot cheese, some bbq sauce and a secret sauce that Marge won’t share.” She said with a laugh.

“I’m having a heart attack just by looking at it and getting hungrier by the minute. How about the wings?” Allie eyeing the delicious fried wings. 

“Ah yes, it’s just traditional salt and pepper deep fried crispy wings. Simple but there’s a kick in the end. Like a fucking traitor. Ergo Judas Wings.”

“Swear jar, Bea!” Shay yelled from across the bar, startling Bea for a split-second.  

“AH!!! Here.” Bea reached for a ten-dollar note in her purse. She squeezed Allie’s hand, a sign that she’ll let it go for a while. 

“Marge’s Rule Number 1” pointing at the chalkboard on top of all the kitsch in the bar.

Allie looked up and read the almost faded writing. “Leave Your Filthy Mouth At The Door!

Bea stood up and dropped the note in the almost filled-up swear jar at the middle of the bar.

As Bea was heading back, Allie took a large sip of her Milo milkshake. 

“This is sooo good!” she said while Bea was taking her seat back beside Allie, holding her hand again too, smiling instinctively, because that’s just how happy she feels every time her hands find hers.

“Franky would spike her milkshake with whiskey, that’s why Shay called it the Doyle twist.” 

“So this is where you met Franky?” She asked curiously, enjoying every bit of information that Bea was gladly sharing with her, and Bea automatically finding her hands wasn’t lost in her either. She’s beginning to think that this will always be the best part of being with Bea, having her hold her this way. 

“Well... uhm..  Franky was working as part-time camera operator in another department, creative content for advertising campaigns and brands.  She was on her third year of film school. Very talented but they keep giving her shitty projects. So I asked her to be on my team.”

“I moved to LA a few years after...” she said nervously, taking a huge gulp of her drink, for the nerves perhaps. The hesitation back again - the sharing this part of her life, one that she’d tried to explain to Franky earlier, it feels like she’s opening some ancient Pandora’s box, unleashing the memory of a darker era of her life and the fear of not being able to close it back again once it’s out. 

Allie saw the change in Bea’s demeanor. The edgy undertone of her voice, that stormy look in her eyes. The nervous fidgeting of her hands. Pressing a little tighter than usual, like she’s struggling with an inner battle and she’s gripping for control.

She was about take hold of the conversation and assure her that she doesn’t need to continue when the redhead started talking again.   

“Uhm.. they didn’t hear from me for a while.” Her voice was low, her eyes shifting from her drink to their joined hands and then back at her drink again. Taking a longer slurp this time, she exhales deeply and continued, steering the narrative forward to steadier grounds.   

“Yeah, uhm... but when I took on a passion project in 2012, I came back here and I asked them to work on it with me. There’s Franky, Maxine, Boomer and Simmo. Simmo is Carly’s mom. You know, Deb’s bestfriend.” She ended there. Feeling like it’s a good place to end storytime, for now atleast.

“I’ve been talking your ear off. Sorry.” She said shyly, looking at their still untouched food. 
 
“No please, I could listen to you talk all day, I’m not even kidding, Bea.” She gave another reassuring squeeze to their joined hands, letting Bea know that she’s here with her, for her.  

“Please eat, Al. Come on. Do I need to feed you again?” she chuckled, remembering last night when she fed this adorable woman like the big baby she is. 

“I’d never say no to you, Bea.” She answered cheekily, giving Bea a sexy wink, making Bea’s face scarlet yet again for the nth time that night.

Bea tugged on their joined hands “We need both hands for this” she told the blonde who was about to protest but she continued “But I’ll hold it right back after, I promise.” The promise eased Allie’s heart and let Bea go, for now anyway.

The first bite was a taste of pure ecstasy.  It was juicy, greasy, crunchy in all the right places and soft and moist on the inside. The melted cheese combined with the savory sauce was complementing perfectly the explosive flavours of this absolute masterpiece.

Bea was remembering too, that first night that she had this. She was burnt out. Her research topic for her master’s thesis has been shot down for the fifth time while Harry was also hounding her all morning to make an entire storyboard for a feature project that he wanted to pitch to a major film producer, on top of that, Debbie’s babysitter cancelled on them last minute, needing for her to bring her poor little baby to work because Harry can’t be fucking bothered, and just to make that shitty day even more eventful, the producers cut their feature film’s budget into half, needing for Bea to restructure an entire production budget even though they are already in the final stages of development.

She was just tired and cranky and Debbie was feeling it too, she was always so intuitive of her mom’s distress and as a child, her only way to process things was to just cry. 

When Marge saw the mother and daughter across the street, she felt for Bea as she too was raising a daughter on her own and she offered her a little reprieve but more than that, she offered Bea a little hope. A hope that even in the darkest of nights, help will come in the simplest of things, in the strangest of forms.       

It was Allie’s cute soft moans that brought Bea back to the present. Allie was probably not aware of the sounds that she’s making every time she takes a bite out of that burger.

It was cute and adorable really until it’s slowly awakening something in Bea. Something primal, making her all warm inside. She’s suddenly thirsty too.

Taking an awkward slurp of her milkshake. Her face scarlet again.

Her mind choosing a particular conversation to replay with her ever reliable and ever crass best friend.

“... how to give your girl multiple orgasms while waiting for laundry to dry. You know, tips and tricks...”

Bea cleared her throat. Shaking her head a little, in an attempt to remove Franky's voice out of it. Allie becoming aware of the noises she’s making. She smiled shyly at Bea. 

After demolishing their food in records time, Shay came back to clear their area in the bar and place a plateful of shoestring fries, two pints of beer and two shots in front of them.

Shay raised her own shot glass, urging the two to do the same. “Welcome home, Bea!” they cheered and knocked back their shots. Allie wincing at the taste of hot tequila coursing through her throat.  

Bea knocking hers back, expertly. 

“Ladies!” Shay nodded excusing herself. 

The bar was a little noisy, but it was quiet in their own little corner. Allie was the one who reached for Bea’s hand this time, fidgeting again with her fingers, enjoying this simple pleasure of being with each other, losing themselves into the moment, leaving the world to spin on its own.

It was Bea’s turn to start asking questions.
 
“When did you start writing?” Bea has secretly started watching the first few episodes of season one of Inmates and she’s been very curious as to how the process for writing the protagonist came into existence, whose name was almost the same as hers, Becca Smith.

“Writing was a coping mechanism for me, Bea.” Allie answered honestly, taking a small sip of her beer.

“Hey.. hey.. if it’s too much Al, it’s okay. You don’t need to tell me everything. I need to earn your trust, too.” Bea wanted to reassure Allie that she doesn’t need to tell her anything if it’s too soon.

“Thank you Bea... but you don’t need to earn anything.” 

“I already trust you.” She confessed, sincerely. 

“I figured... anyone who Franky proudly calls bestfriend must have nerves of steel.”

“And who doesn’t trust Superman?” she joked a little. As always, Allie knows how to make Bea feel at ease with her perfectly timed puns. 

“Batman? He did want Superman out.” Bea answered proudly, like the secret nerd that she is too.   
 
“Uhm.. Ahem.. You know your pop culture well, I’m impressed.” Allie choked on her drink a little, clearly surprised at Bea’s comeback. She wasn’t expecting that.  

“Hardly, I just know my films, Al. For research mostly.” 

“And.. uhm.. to impress googly eyed blondes who has a thing for storytime.. you know, those kind.” Smiling smugly at the adorable choking blonde in front of her.   

They were both laughing now, can’t seem to do anything else but have a good laugh together. It’s so different from what other people’s experience with Bea and Allie feels that she’s part of something exclusive, something meant only for a number of people. She feels honoured and humbled at the same time. 

“Okay. My turn. Storytime. Brace yourself, Bea.” She warned her curious date, taking a huge gulp of her beer for courage. If Bea is slowly letting her in, then it is only fair that she let’s Bea in too. 
    
“I knew from a young age that I was different, that I’m not attracted to boys, to men. I’m just not into them, you know. And it was okay for a while until I was sixteen and I had my first girlfriend. My father found out about it and he wasn’t happy.”

She began telling Bea about that horrific night when her father saw the photos of Allie kissing her girlfriend. Vincent Novak came storming to her room and started beating her up. Before she lost consciousness she remembers seeing her mom Rebecca rushing to her rescue. Her mother, who also suffers from the heavy hand of her father, upon seeing the almost lifeless body of her daughter, hit Vincent with the closest item that she could grab – a rock nephritic jade vase – a prized possession that Allie has been safekeeping for her dad.


“I remember waking up to the annoying beep of an apparatus beside me. I had this weird tube on my mouth and just pain everywhere. They told me that I’ve been in the hospital for three days. I asked for my mom but they said that she was arrested for the murder of my father and being a minor with no next of kin, my custody fell automatically with the State.” 


Allie spent a week in the hospital, in and out of consciousness. The social worker from the state has signed her out of the hospital and took her to live with a state-certified caregiver, who had a warm welcome for Allie. 


Her foster family has been kind enough but Allie would always feel so alone. She misses her mother and cannot wait for her to turn eighteen so that she can visit her in prison, it was a request that her mom made especially, that she be allowed to visit only when she turns eighteen.

 

Bea was seething. Between holding Allie’s hands tightly and griping the pint with her hand, she feels an overwhelming anger from deep within. How can a father hurt his child? She cannot even fathom the idea of inflicting any harm on an innocent child, let alone her own. And she feels her pain too, that excruciating pain of losing her mother in the process, sending her to prison and leaving Allie alone to fend for her own.


Allie was sensing Bea’s anger too and even though sharing this part of her life was bringing back so many hurtful memories, her first instinct was to placate Bea’s anger, to calm her and pacify her rage. So she tries caressing her wrist again, trailing small circles around and it seemed to work because Bea’s breathing is returning back to normal now and looking at her affectionately.


“That coffee shop where I met Debbie, it was a public library before and I would spend hours on end cooped up in a corner just reading. Those stories offered a temporary reprieve, an escape to another world where things were different than my own reality.” 


“From there I started writing my own stories, creating characters that possess great boldness and strength, characters with fantastic wit and incredible empathy. A reflection of traits that I hope would resonate within me someday. But most importantly, the narratives granted me company, a distraction from my own loneliness.” She said honestly, her eyes misting. 


“My foster home was this beautiful house in Palm Drive. It was the first house that I’ve considered home really. It was the first home that made me feel safe. It’s everything about that house that always made me feel like I belong somewhere.” 

“There’s this window sill, I remembered spending most of my time there. And that funny writing, Liz said it was by the owner’s kid. Every time I look at it, I don’t feel so alone anymore. It’s barely readable, all I can make up is one phrase and a name. Like it’s telling me that I’m home now. “Your Home”.

Bea was still processing the hard life that Allie had growing up, it took her awhile to register some details that she just narrated. And then it finally clicked.

Foster home

Palm Drive

Liz

It can’t be. 

Bea reached for a pen inside her purse and scribbled something on a table napkin. At this point it’s more than a hunch now, it’s a certainty. 

She slid it over to Allie who looked at her puzzled.

“Read it. Please.” Bea pleaded with a shaky treble in her voice. 

OL      AR  W LCOM. T IS  UR HOME. L VE   B SMITH.


Allie read the words out loud and was surprised that this was the exact writing on the window sill at Liz’. The same writing that she was talking about just now. But how did Bea know? How can she know? Unless...

And then a realization dawned on her too.

Two empty coffee cups on the kitchen counter.

"Bea was here not long ago"

"They moved overseas shortly after giving us this house, I haven't seen her in years.”

Mrs. Smith?

Bea. Smith.

Bea Smith. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 19
Inertia

 

As Allie stares at the Bea’s handwriting, she remembers the first night that she read these words in Liz’s home. 

It was a week after sixteen year old Allie was discharged from the hospital and she barely left her room. She was angry, she was lashing out but mostly she felt miserable and spiralling in a dark depressive state, dangerously assuming responsibility for her mom being sent to prison and for having to be forced to live with strangers.

Maybe if she wasn’t who she was, if she didn’t have feelings for girls maybe her dad would not have hit her and her mom didn’t need to come to her rescue. 

These poisonous thoughts were running amuck around her head and she just wants to run away from it all. The guilt was consuming her and she felt more alone and so out of place, in this house, in this world. 

As she creeps quietly in the dark in search for the front door with her old backpack filled with all her clothes and worldly possessions she could carry, she stopped dead on her tracks when she sees the faded red paint on the window sill, barely illuminated by the light from a small lamp nearby. Some of the writings looked like Egyptian hieroglyphics but what caught her eyes were the words ur home. Your Home.

She walked closer to the writing and traced the words with her fingers, as though this house was listening to her quiet pleas and telling her that this could be her home too...  if she’d want to.

She sat there and cried in the dark, in the middle of the night, where no one can see her cry or hear her pain. She cried that night, it’s as if for the first time, she was allowed something. 


And before Allie realized it, her tears were pouring out and she couldn’t stop it from falling. 


It was quiet for a long time, as Bea lets Allie finally piece together what she already figured out minutes ago. Bea didn’t know how long Allie was staring at the napkin on her hand, clutching it for dear life. Her look was lost in a memory so painful that tears were starting to fall from the blonde’s stormy blue eyes. 

And when Bea saw the first sign of tears falling freely on the blondes face, she felt like a hot blade was slowly piercing her heart bringing an unbearable pain that she didn’t know how to stop. And before her mind could register what’s happening, her hands were already reaching for Allies shoulders, bringing her body closer to Allie and engulfing her in a tight hug.  

Allie sobbed into Bea’s chest as the sudden surge of emotions came out uncontrollably, resurfacing after all these years. And Bea held her in silence, her hand was stroking Allie’s back affectionately as her lips whispers to Allie’s ear that she’s here now and she’s not alone anymore as though her heart already knows the reason for Allie’s tears. 
 
Bea was almost at the edge of her seat and their positions were a bit awkward but Bea didn’t care, Allie needs to know... needs to feel that she’s safe now.  

Somehow hearing Bea’s words must have helped as Allie’s breathing was beginning to turn back to normal, the cries turned to soft sobs and she was regaining her full consciousness back.

From the corner of her eye, Bea noticed that Shay was heading towards them with a look of concern. And Bea knowing that the last thing that Allie needs right now is to be on the center of everyone’s prying eyes, Bea raised her right arm and gave Shay a thumbs up, a sign that she’s got this. 

Upon seeing that, and trusting Bea to know what’s best, the bartender nodded in understanding and went back to the other side of the bar.

“I’m sorry.” She heard Allie’s soft voice, and was slowly pulling away from her embrace even though she really didn’t want to. Allie felt that she’d embarrassed herself too much already on a first date in front of that one person that she wants so badly to impress and in such a public place too, no less.  

Instinctively, Bea reached for Allie and cradled her face, her thumb caressing her cheeks while her palm feels Allie’s throat, “You've nothing to apologise for.”

“Here” she reached in her pocket for a handkerchief, urging Allie to use it. 
 
Allie simply nodded, gave Bea a small smile and got up from her seat, nudging her head towards the direction of the bathroom. Bea smiled in understanding, she adjusted her position too so that Allie can pass. 

 

After a while, Allie returned to her seat, her features already back to normal except that her smile hasn’t reached her eyes yet and Bea guessed that Allie is still feeling a bit raw. 

When Allie finally settled on her seat, Bea reached out for Allie’s hand. 

“Can I?” she asked the uncharacteristically toey blonde who was still avoiding eye contact.

The curtsy made Allie’s mouth curved into a smile because Bea was still trying to comfort her with everything she’s got and she can’t help but feel grateful for it. 

She took the offered hand and clasped it tightly, fingers interlaced. 

It was quiet for a while, Allie’s head was hung low, her eyes suddenly finding their joined hands particularly interesting and Bea knowing exactly why, started with a rather out of the blue question.

“Do you know why they call it a dive?” Bea whispered softly, her head turning to her side to look at Allie who was still looking down.

Allie gave Bea a half shrug still unable to look at her.

“They say in the early years, places like these were built in basements and underground nooks so that people can “dive” into drinking without judgment, away from the prying eyes of society.” Bea narrated, squeezing Allie’s hand a little.

“That’s why dives usually have dim ominous lighting” circling her index finger in the air. “Designed precisely to mask your sorrows in the dark, hide your pain from the world, allowing you a few hours to be blissfully left alone to your own devices.” 

Seeing that Allie is easing up a little, she turned her chair to face Allie fully. 
 
“How about a storytime?” she smiled at her blonde date, instinctively tucking a loose strand of Allie’s hair behind her ear as though she’s done it a million times. The action caught Allie off guard, causing a small blush on her face. 

Bea started in a soft voice, caressing Allie’s hand as she speaks. “Once upon a time, in a far away land called... uhm... Sydney” 

Allie chuckled softly, the movement of her shoulders gave it away, encouraging Bea to continue.

“There lived a cute and exceptionally smart little girl with soft brown curls, more like this one... only brown” she pointed at her red curls, grinning from ear to ear when her attentive date’s eyes finally darted up, sending a sheepish smile at the redhead.   

“So this little girl, loved her mother so much so that she wanted to adopt a dog. She thought that having a dog around would... ah... protect... uhm ... her mom.” the “from her dad part” was not said but Allie didn’t need to hear the words to understand, the sudden change of Bea’s tone was all the confirmation that Allie needed. It was as though something inside her was pushed too and now she turned her entire body to face Bea, their knees almost touching now. 

“But her dad said no, he’s not going to buy her a dog. He said that money was tight and that he shouldn’t be spending for useless things.” Bea continued, she felt her voice dropping to a sad tone but shrugged it off quickly, Allie needed her to be strong now. 

“But this young girl was too smart to just give up and one day, she showed her mom something.” 

“She made a sign on their window in hopes that stray dogs could see it.” Bea grabbed the table napkin where she wrote Debbie’s words, and wrote another line, completing the entire thought this time. She laid down the napkin on the bar counter and showed it again to Allie.

OL      AR   W  LCOM. T       IS      UR HOME. L VE        B SMITH

OL      ARE WELCOM. THIS IS YOUR HOME. LOVE DEB SMITH.

Bea huddled closer to Allie, their lips mere inches away from each other. “There’s a cute drawing of a dog here, pointing at the space between the words OL and ARE. Imagine a corndog with the black and white spots of a Dalmatian and throw in Eeyore’s eyes. That’s what it looked like. For context” she smirked.

Allie imagining the little girls drawing made her giggle. Bea sniggered along with her.

“The little girl wanted to say, all dogs are welcome. This is your home. Love Deb Smith.” 

“And you know what that little girl told her mom? She said “Dad didn’t say nothing about stray dogs, right mum?” Bea was full on cackling now, remembering how Debbie outsmarted Harry’s rule.

“The little rebel!” Allie was chuckling now too, finally finding her voice.

Bea was excited at the progress that she made and continued with her story. “I didn’t have the heart to tell her that dogs can’t read or that if they can, they won’t be able to see it as it was inside but that little girl surely did find a loop hole.”

They were laughing heartily now, taking huge gulps on their beers too just enjoying this rather funny storytime that Bea was happily sharing with Allie. 

“I can’t believe I lived in your house!” Allie said still shaking her head at this coincidence. She still can’t get her head around how connected their lives are.  

“I’m still processing it but I’m elated beyond words that you found home there, Al. I really am.” She said sincerely, she feels overjoyed that somehow the house that she considered home too was also a place where Allie found shelter and solace in a time when she needed it the most.

“Here’s another kicker, Bea. You’d love this one.” She took the napkin and the pen from the counter and quickly scribbled something.

She showed the note to Bea, who read it almost immediately.

OL      AR   W  LCOM. T       IS      UR HOME. L VE        B SMITH
OL      ARE WELCOM. THIS IS YOUR HOME. LOVE DEB SMITH.

Becca SMITH

R ebecca SMITH

                                
“Rebecca? Is the name of your mother, the one you gave those gorgeous flowers to at the cemetery?” Bea guessed, her eyes looking affectionately at Allie.

“Uh-huh and those were Liz’ gorgeous flowers, actually.” She confessed, smiling at Bea too.

Bea recalling her Saturday visit with Liz. After her phonecall with Maxine, she remembers vaguely Liz cutting some white roses from her small garden and gathering them all in a small basket. 

“Liz’ roses! You were there when...” Bea exclaimed clearly surprised. They could have met then and there if she stayed a little longer.

“You were just there! I saw the two empty coffee mugs at the kitchen counter!” Allie continued excitedly, if she got there earlier then they would have met formally that day too but if she was early then Debbie might have been... she shuddered at the thought. 

“Debbie!” was all Allie managed to say and the realization hit Bea too.

“You were meant to save her that day, Al and I guess, we were bound to meet each other too, I don’t know how else to explain it.” Bea reached for her beer and downed it all in one go. Her thoughts were racing madly and she needed the drink to keep them in check. 

“Do you know who’s gonna go nuts over this?” Allie reaching for her own beer and emptying it as well, winking when she noticed Bea was beaming at her.

“Who?” Bea wondered curiously.
 
“Our grandkids, Bea! They’ll eat this up, bigtime!” Allie exclaimed, wiggling her eyebrows at the redhead, her humor making a late appearance.

And another laughing fit followed. Allie’s beautiful smile was back again, taking Bea’s breath with every small laugh that she lets out. The butterflies in her stomach are back, bringing a different kind of warmth all over, a tiny blush creeping on her face.     

“I realize something just now!” Allie mumbled after the laughter subsided.

“What is it?” Bea asked, leaning back a little. 

“A stray did see it?”

“What?” Bea spat out, clearly confused. 

“You said Debbie wanted stray dogs to see the sign, right?” Allie explained, recalling Bea’s story.

“You’re not a dog, Allie.” Bea insisted, squeezing Allie’s hand affectionately. 

“But I was a stray, I was. I was lost that night. The first night I saw that handwriting, I was completely lost.” Allie continued with a shaky voice, fiddling with Bea’s fingers again, looking down at their joined hands again. 

With her free hand, Bea lifted Allie’s chin, tilting her face up to meet her gaze. “But you’re found now, Al. Yeah?” 

I found you now. She said silently.

Allie's whole face lit up, her eyes blazed with unfathomable desire. She barely managed to let her words out. “I-I think so.”  

Their moment was broken off when Shay came back with a fresh batch of beers and tequila shots, which made the flustered couple separate quickly.  

“Everything okay here, ladies.” Looking first at a blushing Bea and then at a smirking Allie.

“Yeah, all good. Thanks Shay!” Bea sniggered, amused at Shay’s timing. 

Shay held her shot up, “What are we cheering for this time?” 

“To being found!” Allie claimed her shot proudly.

Shay concurring to Allie. “To being found, it is!” 
 
“Here, here!”

Shay and Bea knocked back their shots without issue, while Allie washed down hers with beer. 

It was at this precise moment Bea’s mind decided to play back Franky’s words. Let her decide. Don’t take her choice away from her. 

Shay stayed for a short while, sharing a little of Franky’s antics while Bea was in LA, making the redhead and the blonde crack up at their friend’s hysterics. After Shay excused herself, Bea decided it was time to finally talk to Allie about her fears. 

She drew in a deep breath. “Can I be brutally honest?”

“Please, by all means.” Allie moved closer, sensing Bea’s serious tone.   

Bea sighed. “I don’t know... uhm...  how to do this, I don’t know if we’re staying long enough for me to figure out what exactly this is and I don’t know if...arrgghh.. I just!” The words were spilling out faster than Bea could stop them. It took a few seconds for Allie to understand Bea’s ramblings.

“I don’t even know what I want, Al. I don’t know how I’ll ever give you what you want and you deserve the world, I deeply feel that you do!” she ended her rambling in a sad sigh.

“Okay, okay, okay. Let’s unbox each one. Yes?” she replied softly, her thumb caressing Bea’s wrist again, trailing small circles, soothing the redhead’s worried mind, like the steady force of inertia, grounding her more and more. 

In a much calmer tone this time, Bea explained. “Okay. Here in Sydney, we’re just here for four weeks, I’m letting Debbie choose whether or not she’ll attend college here or back in LA. This may not be an ideal time to be exploring whatever this is.” She said apologetically. She really didn’t want to get Allie’s hopes up knowing that their stay in Sydney is pretty much up in the air.

“I’m going to be honest with you too, Bea. I am extremely attracted to you, I’ve never felt this strong about anyone and yes, that may sound too fast or too soon and there’s probably a lot of red flags just simply for that but I am and I can’t help it.”

“And I’d rather have these four weeks spending time with you... you know... enjoying storytime in dark ominous dives, than to not have that at all... but only if you’d want to.” 

“And what you know about me so far is just the tip of the iceberg. You might still decide that I'm not worth your time. You may not want to hang out around me." she said sadly, her insecurity showing up again and Bea was quick to refute that. 

"That's not gonna happen!" Bea replied almost immediately. I don't want you to ever feel that, was what she was thinking, but what came out was simply, "I don't want that!"

There was a short pause after Bea's reply. Allie was finding her words to help Bea process this with her. After a while, Allie started again. 

“This. You seem to want this!” she said affectionately, tugging at their joined hands.  

“My hand stupidly wants to hold yours, I don’t know. But this is just hand holding, Al.” Bea feels inadequate because all she can offer this beautiful woman is the mere comforts of her warm callous hands stubbornly holding on to hers. 

“It’s the one thing, apart from spending time with you, that I’ve been looking forward to.” Allie confessed to the suddenly shy redhead in front of her. 

“This sounds unfair to you.” Bea said finally, sighing sadly at her own incompetency. 

“Bea, look at me please?" Allie pleaded in that particularly sad tone that made Bea instinctively look up. 

"I understand that this is your way of protecting me and this may seem unfair... but the thing is, it’s not gonna be. You see, it’ll only be unfair if the standard is measured by how much you can give, which for me is not. It has always been and always will be, is it freely given?"

Allie wanted Bea to understand that not everyone follows the standard qualifier that has been adopted by most people. That affection, for her, wasn't simply measured by quantity or frequency but by intention and most importantly, consent. 

“And the answer is?” Allie asked softly hoping that Bea finally understands her point of view. 

And Bea was starting to see it too, was beginning to understand how consent is important to Allie. Her affection for this amazing woman  was never forced or coerced. It was, from the start, from her free will and with her own volition. “Yes.” she said finally. 

“Then that’s all that matters, Bea.”  

 


They stayed in the dive for an hour more, Bea telling Allie some of her favorite memories from this bar, getting more comfortable in sharing some of her happier experiences here, mostly with Franky and her little Debbie. 

After a while they called it a night as Allie still has an early call time the next day while Debbie had plans of touring the top five Instagramable places in Sydney and Bea was just happy to play tourist guide for her extremely excited daughter. 

They took a taxi and when they arrived at Allie's apartment complex, she walked her towards the front door. Walking side by side, their fingers still interlaced. 

They stopped at the door and Allie was the first to break the silence. “If this is all that you can give me then I’d gladly take it. For the rest, I can... take care of that on my own. Catch my drift, Bea?” winking at the blushing redhead. 

“Oh god!” Bea chuckled, her face turning scarlet as her mind went directly to some not so innocent places with a naked Allie doing… well.. stuff. 

“Ah, there it is! I say something inappropriate, you turn into the color of your hair. Everything is right with the world again!” Allie cackled, feeling victorious at her antics. 

“Goodnight Allie.” Bea said finally after the laughing fit eased up. 

“Thank you for tonight, Bea.” Allie leaned in, intending to leave a small kiss on Bea’s cheek. 

The loud revving of a car skidding nearby startled the redhead causing her to look on the side towards the direction of the sound, moving her head at the precise moment that Allie leaned closer, and her kiss landing on the corner of Bea’s lips instead. 

Feeling Allie’s lips on the corner of her mouth caused another layer of red hue to splash all over Bea’s already heated face. And though she’s all sorts of scarlet right now, with the corner of her mouth where Allie’s lips landed feels like it was set on fire, she uttered the words that never in a million years Allie would have guessed.

If Allie’s willing to try, then I’m willing to try too. Bea reasons with her already hyperactive mind. Her mind playing Allie’s words, is it freely given? 

“How about the... uhm... other side? For... uhm... balance?” she was suddenly nervous, her hands fidgeting with Allie’s fingers. She shifted from one foot to the other. 

The request made Allie’s heart skip a beat. For someone who has no clue how to do this, Bea sure knows exactly how to fight her way to Allie’s heart.

And as Allie looked on at the adorably shy redhead, nervously trying to look away, something ignited deep inside her heart and in a split-second her hands were reaching for Bea. 

Cupping her face with both her hands, she waited until Bea’s eyes focused on hers before she closed her own and slowly place a gentle kiss on the corner of Bea’s mouth, lingering a little before finally letting go. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 20
Catalyst 

 

It was a little after six in the morning when Franky's car pulled into the almost empty car park of GMA Network. Ever since becoming a director of photography, she made it a point to be at the production set an hour before the actual call time.


It was a habit that she picked up when she first started working for Bea a few years back. Franky would often wonder why the director from the other studio would consistently be the first one on the set ahead of everyone else.

What baffled her more was when the same redhead director asked her to be the new cinematographer for her projects when she's was just a part time camera operator at that time.

In her eagerness to prove herself worthy of such an important job, she began coming to the set as early as Bea so that they could discuss, in great depth, the style of filming for that day. They would just sit quietly on set, coffees on hand while imagining how a scene would look better in what angle under what lighting, bouncing ideas off each other.


It became their ritual for almost two years which was how they became great friends and Franky has kept the routine going ever since eventhough the Bea part is no longer in the equation.

For Inmates, instead of having that creative consultation with Joan, she would prefer to talk it out with the people that she's directly responsible for, the gaffer and key grip. 


Her conversations with them are different from the ones with Bea but its more on the practical rather than the creative side of filming, mostly about which key lights should be utilized for the day, what lighting panels needed diffusers and barn doors or if they'll use some hazers for volumetric lighting or where should the dolly trap be set up before mounting the camera and if camera cranes will be needed on set.  

 

As Franky parks her car on her designated slot, she sees Allie's car already parked on her usual spot. After checking herself in the rearview mirror, she grabbed her bag and her blazer and got out quickly. 

Passing by Allie's car as she heads towards the front entrance, she noticed that the car was leaning towards the left and when she looked closer, both the front and rear tires are flat. 

She immediately took out her phone and dialled Allie's number. After a few rings, Allie answered the call.

"Hey blondie! Your tires got fucked, are you in the studio?"

"It's been that way since last night, it won't start either. I'm getting it towed today. My mom's friend gave me a number for a car repair shop at downtown Sydney. Thanks Franky. I'm still getting ready, see you later."

Allie explained her situation. She deliberately omitted the part that it was the reason why she was late for her date with Bea. 

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just making sure you're all good. See yah. Bye."

Franky then dialled another number but was sent straight to voicemail. While leaving a highly inappropiate voice message, another early bird was pulling in at the far side of the carpark. 

Franky wasn't paying attention at first but when a beautiful petite blonde woman stepped out of the car, balancing four coffee cups on a disposable carrying tray, on top of a medium size-box that she's carrying with both hands, Franky froze in place and almost dropped her phone.   

Only when the blonde walked past her and greeted her with a sweet melodic "Hey!" that Franky remembered to breathe.

The thing is though, Franky's brain failed to recover in time and by the time she got her shit together, the blonde was already a few feet away from her, nearing the entrace. 

For a brief moment, Franky wondered the why and how this beautiful woman rattled her by simply being in her presence. No one rattles Franky and this woman is no exception and yet somehow, the blonde already had the upper hand without even knowing it. 

And so Franky pulls out an automatic response: be unapologetically flirty, over-the-top charming and that fail-safe deadly combination of seductive and snarky when things go sideways. 

“You work too hard, your girlfriend might think you’ve gone off her” Franky yelled at the blonde who was almost at the front doors. 

“Was that at me?” Bridget turned around a little confused. She was pretty sure that this hot brunette with an even hotter ink sleeve gave her the death stare when she tried to make a friendly conversation just mere seconds ago and so she just shrugged it off and went about her way.   

“Well, unless there are invisible people here in this empty parking lot that you see but I can’t, then yes, I was talking to you” replied Franky with a flirty sneer. Her eyes unabashedly trailing up the blonde's body.

“Err yeah, smart-ass, I was just making sure.” Bridget bit back. 

“You could just be one of those people who talks to thin air. I’m not here to judge”. She added, raising an eyebrow, sizing Franky up.

“Ohh feisty, I like that in a woman” Franky flirts back. 

“I’m Franky Doyle by the way. So, no girlfriend then? Want to be mine?” Franky pushed harder with a knowing look and a sly wink. 

She's hella hot alright but there's something else there too. Her words maybe saying all the wrong things right now, edgy, cocky, and borderline aggresive but her eyes.. they look different. They feel warm, kind, soft even and the exact opposite of what her mouth is spewing. Bridget silently thinks as she stares at the smug brunette in front of her.  

“Hmm” was all Bridget managed to say and then continued on her way.

Franky laughs and bellows to the retreating blonde “Is that a yes?"

Bridget chucks a laugh but didn't actually give a proper response. 

Franky smiled, this one has a bite to her, she said quietly to herself, looking on as Bridget heads inside. 

 


At three o'clock in the afternoon, the production meeting with Vera, Bridget, Allie and Boomer started smoothly as anticipated. 

This creative meeting was scheduled to discuss the visual concept and storytelling style for the upcoming Becca Smith fight scenes that the higher ups from the network approved. The script was broken down to create a workable shot list for every scene.

"How about we give her a fancy move? Something over the top." Vera asked as she reads through the script once again.

Boomer was first to make a suggestion. "Becca gets shived and there's blood splatters everywhere, seeping through her side. Kill Bill style."

"Gore?" Allie asked, sticking her tongue out and pretended to retch.

"Less gore more action." Vera clarified.

"I'm thinking in the lines of functional rather than fancy. It makes selling the hit believable." Bridget piped up, scanning the script that she's holding.

"How do we do that, Bridge?" Boomer posited clearly intrigued. 

"Let's say one prisoner swings a wide right hook, instead of dodging the attack, Becca blocks it with both her arms like in a boxing block. The impact cause her to duck down and from this angle she smashes her attacker with a hammer fist to the side of the knee... BAM!

"We throw in a loud CRACK sound to sell the shot" Bridget slammed the table with her hand for greater impact. And then she continued. 

"Becca then pivots to grasp the attackers arm and spins around, putting her back against her attacker's. She locks the attackers upper arm in the crook of her elbow, pulls her forward, and throws her over her shoulder... BAM!"

"The attacker falls hard with a loud thud! One down, seven to go." 

"That's fucking wicked!" Boomer cheered excitedly!

"That's some MMA shit right there!" Allie's eyes widened, this is actually great, she thinks.

"It's a traditional judo move, Seoi Nage, one arm shoulder throw. It looks hella fancy but very functional." Bridget explained the origin of the move.

"Brilliant! Just brilliant!" Vera was in agreement too. 

"Would our actors do that?" Boomer asked Vera.

Vera paused a short while, digging deep, before answering Boomer. "I think their contacts covers stunt trainings and action sequences, but I'm worried about injuries."

"This is a bit different from Becca's escape plot where she had a one on one fight with the top dog. These would involve more actors and the network execs wants it longer." Vera expressed her concerns. Sure the action sequences would be visually compelling but there's always that risk of getting hurt while on training or even on the day of filming itself.

"My stunt team could do the heavy lifting but there are still a few fight moves that the actors can do themselves with less risk of injury." Bridget tries to reassure their co-executive producer that the stunts can still be executed safely without compromising the script.

"We can train them for medium impact, low risk fight choreography." she added. 

Vera was silent again, contemplating on her director's suggestion. "That's do-able. Once the AD schedules the table read, we could have a better idea how much we can push our actors."

Vera glances at the clock, it's been a solid hour that their DP was supposed to be at this production meeting but there's still no sign of Franky. The filming should have been wrapped up hours ago, this screams Joan Ferguson all over it. 

"I'm here, I'm here! Apologies for being late. Production was pushed back, yet again!" Franky came barging in at the writer's room.

Vera stood up immediately, Derek should be handing the production teams at the set. "Joan?" 

"Don't even get me started!" Franky was shaking her head as she occupies an empty chair in the writer's room. Not realizing that a certain blonde director was eyeing her with interest.

As Franky finally looked around the room to acknowledge the attendees of this meeting. She smiled at Allie and Boomer sitting side by side and when her glance landed on the petite blonde beaming at her she lets out a soft. "Oh."

Vera made the introductions with their newly arrived DP. "Franky, this is Bridget Westfall, she's out new fight scene director. You'll need to work together on this. We need to pull this off perfectly. Derek's convinced the network executives that we can, adding another layer of pressure for all of us."

"I'm down with that, Gidge." Franky jabbed as she leans back on her chair. Winking playfully at the blonde director from across the table.

The blonde director scoffed, finding Franky's antics just a tad bit endearing and annoyingly presumptuous at the same time. "It's Bridget, actually." she corrected. 

"Oh I heard it the first time, Gidge." Franky spat out almost immediately, with a smug grin.

Vera cleared her throat, taking hold of the conversation before it escalates to something more.

"We're dissecting the script. Adding a little depth on the action itself, which is Bridget's expertise." pointing at some of the items already written on the white board.

"Okay, show me what you got, Gidge!" Franky teases again, poking her tongue against her cheek. 

"Franky!" Allie calls out their brash DP.

"Doyle!" Vera warns sternly. Glaring at Franky first and then gave an apologetic smile towards Bridget. She didn't want Bridget to feel like she's an outsider just because she's new.

"What?" Franky asked feigning innocence.  

Bridget cleared her throat and reassured Vera. "It's okay. Try being a woman stunt director in a male-dominated, testosterone-fueled genre in the film industry."

She turned her head at Franky, adopting a challenging stance. "I'm used to it, doesn't mean I don't push back."

She's got some fire in her. Franky thinks silently as she stares at the fiery director. 

"Better watch your back, Franky!" Boomer piped in, nudging Franky's arm.

"Okay. That's enough! How about we let Bridget walk us through this." Vera ordered finally.   

Taking her cue fom Vera, Bridget started. "Alright. This fight scene is not just the actual fighting sequence itself but the how we build up to it and more importantly, the beats  - the pauses where we let our audience catch their collective breaths, process the scene and connect with our characters."

She move closer to the table and continued. "We give the audience the journey - the ambush, that feeling of helplessness, the sizing up of the opponent, stacking the odds against her, the low points and then the adrenaline rush, we ramp them back up. The key element here is staying true to their character."

As Franky listens at how magnificently Bridget explains the scene, hanging on to every word that comes out of her mouth, she can't help but be impressed at how good Bridget actually is.

She's good. She's really good. Her mind was already a willing fan. 

Bridget throws the idea around the room. 

"Is love weakness?"

"Did it make our top dog soft"

"Or was it the fuel that ignites the fire? Adding that extra grit, making every blow as powerful and as vicious as the last." 

Bridget was about to continue when Franky's soft voice dominated the room.

"You're good Gidge!" she blurted out, startling Allie, Boomer and Vera in the process. Bridget was the only one unfazed by it.

"Oh why thank you Franky." She gave Franky a small smile. She's of two minds whether that was a genuine compliment or another sarcastic snide.  

And Franky saw it too, that split second doubt that reflected on the blonde's eyes. She tried again. "It wasn't condescension, your vision's actually amazing."

Bridget's eyes lit up, her mouth failing to hide a grateful smile. "Make that a genuine thank you, then." she winked at the beaming brunette.

Allie and Boomer where exchanging knowing glances and were holding in their comments. Boomer then discreetly wrote down something on her notes and slid it over to Allie.

Allie read it immediately. 

Are they, you know? Scratch your nose if Yes. 

The question was loaded and can be interpreted in a number of ways but Allie being Allie scratched her nose and then leaned in and scratched Boomer's nose too. The two were quietly laughing now. 

Bridget's voice got them to focus back on the meeting, she rose from her seat and wrote on the white board. 

"In the script, Becca turns into a corner and is ambushed by EIGHT inmates. She's being heckled, taunted for lagging. This is the first act - we heighten that tension. We make the camera as catalyst for this emotion."

Franky snaps her fingers. 

"How about we do the master shot this way, we mount the camera on the dolly to create a lateral movement showing Becca on the far left and the eight inmates lined up on a right, like a 2D silhouette of the entire coverage. We shoot it in a 90 degree shutter." she suggested. 

"That can actually work, it builds up the drama. Shutter is perfect, less motion blur."   

Franky was up on her feet too, she's getting more and more excited as her vision for the fight scene is in sync with this new director, and after butting heads with their current director for far more times that she could count, she feels more like in her true element now.

The meeting was going as smoothly as Vera hoped it would. She had doubts whether Derek's move to blow out their production budget would back fire but so far, Bridget's presence is bringing in a fresher dynamic to their show and starting to feel that they're back on track.

If only she could convince Joan to get on the same page, she wasn't always this way and maybe the talk with their director, her former mentor, should happen sooner rather than later.  

Allie reads out loud another part of the script, taking Vera's mind back to the meeting. "Another inmate thrusts forward with a shiv. Becca grabs hold of the wrist and fluidly connects an elbow strike on the hand. The shiv comes flying off."  

Franky was quiet for a while, thinking what angle to shoot this particular scene. "I'd go for an over the shoulder shot here of the attacker. We follow the hand holding the shiv until it gets smashed by the elbow. Entirely handheld camera so we could add that controlled jerk matching the rhythm of the strike."

Bridget nodding her approval on Franky's suggestion, this flirty brunette is turning out to be easier to work with than what she initially thought it would be.

"Is the pause better before landing the first strike or after she gets overpowered by two inmates?" Vera asked while she looks at the tentative shot list written on the board.

"After. We slow down the shot right there. We see Becca struggle to get back up, busted lip, bleeding in the temple and nose from being slammed on the floor hard. Our hero is vulnerable, and our audience needs to feel that." Bridget explained as she writes another section in the shot list.

"I'm gonna need keylight on the corridor. Two LED light domes with barn doors and a 4x4 grid side light to register those profile shots better." Franky interjected. Bridget writing down her equipment requirements on the board as well. 

It was around half past eight when they called it a night. Although it was one of the most exciting production meeting they've all had in a while, all the brain storming and mental calisthenics have exhausted them more than any physical exercise had ever. 

Vera, Boomer and Allie hurriedly left the writer's room leaving only Franky and Bridget to finalize the shot list. 

Bridget stood up first and stretched her head from side to side, the action caught the attention of the suddenly thirsty DP who was looking on amused. 

"You know, if you're ready to drop the tough chic, my-snark-is-better-than-my-smile thing you've got going and be real with me, give me a call." Bridget mumbled softly. 

"Goodnight, Franky." she called out as she left the room, making sure to add a little sway on her step.

Franky was left speechless and rooted on the spot. For the first time, she had no come back for that.

 


As Allie heads out of the studio, she hurriedly walked towards the car park  but at the last minute stopped on her tracks when she remembers that she had her car towed earlier that morning by the car repair shop that Kaz recommended her to. She was about to book an Uber when she heard that familiar raspy voice of her favorite person in the whole world.

"Need a lift?"

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

Go Big Or Go Home

 

Debbie woke up abruptly.

The loud blaring sounds of an ambulance running past them must have jolted awake the thirteen year old sleeping peacefully at the backseat of her aunt Franky's car as they made their way to the convention center from the airport. 

Rubbing her eyes sleepily, she looked around, trying to remember where she’s at. She hears her mom and her aunt talking infront.

"Did we really pull this off?" she hears the faint voice of her mom. She must really be nervous, Debbie thinks, the shakiness of her mom’s voice was apparent.

"It's so close Red, I can almost taste it!" her aunt Franky teased followed by that signature eyebrow wiggle making her mom laugh. Her aunt always did know how to help her mom manage her nerves and she feels grateful that her mom has such a great best friend. 

When they made their turn to exit the freeway, she noticed that the laughter suddenly died down and the next thing she hears are the creepy sound of squealing tires and screeching brakes from a vehicle out front.

She looked out from her side of the window and saw that the ambulance that ran past them minutes ago was stranded on the side of the freeway.

"Pull over!" Bea insisted, her voice reflecting concern. Never mind that they were already late for the awards night, her first instinct was to check in with the people in the ambulance.

Seeing that this might actually be an emergency, Franky pulled over right next to the ambulance. 

“I’ll be right back, okay sweetheart?” Bea said looking at Debbie through the rear view mirror, as she removes her seatbelt and her suit jacket. Debbie nodding a little, still slightly confused at what’s going on. 

Bea bolted out of the car immediately after and walked that short distance to the lone paramedic standing beside the ambulance. 

"Stay here, kiddo" Franky hurriedly instructed the now very alert and wide awake Debbie. 

The panic must have been noticeable on Debbie's face because the next words that came out of Franky's mouth were "Your mom's got this. You know she always does right?” 

“I guess so, Aunt Franky.” Debbie replied in a small voice.

Franky gave Debbie a thumbs up and a wink and then followed Bea.

Debbie looked on as Bea talked to the panic-stricken paramedic. Her thumb was pointing at the ambulance behind them and her mom was listening intently to her pleas. When Franky came in to the mix, they huddled closer.

Debbie pressed the button for the automatic windows to go down so she can hear the conversations more clearly. 

"I can drive" she hears her mom say, a look of relief washing over the paramedic now. 
 
“Tend to your patients, they need you most now. Leave the driving to me.”

“Franky, just follow us okay. Let’s go!” Franky was nodding, seemed to be agreeing with Bea’s course of action.

In a few seconds, Franky was already jogging back to the car while she sees her mom, getting in the driver seat of the ambulance.

Debbie hurriedly pressed the button for the windows to go down while Franky gets inside the car. 

When Franky was settled comfortably on the driver seat, she looked over her shoulder. “How about you take your mom’s seat upfront kiddo. We are following that ambulance.”

“Sure thing.” Debbie hurriedly got out the back and got in the front seat. 

After a few moments they were already on the road again following the ambulance that Bea was driving.

“What happened?” she asked while pointing at the ambulance in front of them. 

Franky started opening her mouth to respond but closed it immediately. It took Franky a few seconds before explaining everything. She must be scrubbing the language a bit, Debbie thinks. She is, after all still a kid. A smart kid yes, but still a kid.

“The paramedics were bringing a patient to the hospital but the driver suffered some chest pains and then passed out while driving.” She started with a serious tone, seeing the worried look on Debbie’s face.

“By some stroke of luck, he managed to pull to the side and now the other paramedic is attending to both him and their patient at the back while your mom drives the ambulance to the hospital.” 

Debbie watched on as the ambulance unit 1012 sped towards the hospital and was silently praying that her mom can get the patients there in time.

 


The ambulance passing by in front of Debbie must have triggered her memory of that fated night almost seven years ago, replaying her mom’s random act of kindness to total strangers.

She did briefly wondered whatever happened to those patients that Bea helped but the events that transpired hours after that must have pushed down every other memory she has of that day as another accident change the course of their lives that night. 

A few moments passed before she regained her wits and remembered what she was initially doing. After making sure that there’s no other vehicles around, she crossed the road hurriedly to get to the other side near the railings.  

After choosing a spot that’s a perfect backdrop to shoot her video, she set up all her equipment and minutes after, she pressed record on her camera and started talking.

"Hey everyone! Welcome back as usual!" the loud cheery voice of Debbie coupled with the faint squawk of a few silver gulls flying nearby as background noise, were the only sound echoing around the grassy open space at Hickson Road Reserve this early on Tuesday morning. 

Bea and Debbie were out of the hotel at the crack of dawn in search of the best spot to capture that majestic sunrise over the Sydney Opera House and Bea knew the perfect place to set up camp for that first hues of light hitting the back of the Opera House.

That golden hour of breathtaking fusion between the natural power of the sun and architectural beauty of the Sydney Opera House, any photographers dream shot. 

Debbie was hanging near the ledge as she makes the introduction spiel for her vlogging channel.

"We're out here in Hickson Road Reserve! You can't see it yet since it's still a bit dark but there's the Sydney Opera House on the far right and on the left is the Sydney Harbour Bridge."

She started walking around, panning the camera from her face to the iconic Sydney sites that they are currently checking out. 

"We've been back in Sydney for a few days now but I haven't been vlogging a whole lot. I just wanted to like, be here in the moment, you know.” She started explaining to the camera, making sure to look at the lens and not just her face on the screen, a common mistake that vloggers tend to do. 

“Some of you guys might enjoy tagging along for all the Sydney content so don't forget to smash that like button and hit subscribe! Here we go!" she ended her spiel as she wave an enthusiastic hand to her approaching mom, bearing what she guessed would be light breakfast.

"Here Deb, it's still warm" Bea beamed at Debbie as she hands the still warm apple cinnamon muffin and a cup of hot chocolate to her eager beaver of a daughter. 

"Thanks mum! This smells amazzzzzzzzing" she exclaimed excitedly, taking the offered food, smiling gratefully to her mom. 

"Your set-up's all good?" Bea asked as she looked on at the gears placed near the railings.
 
"Yup, it's ready to go. I set up the tripod near the ledge. XT30's mounted and the gorillapod’s clamped on the rail too. It’s been recording for about two minutes now."

“Good. That’s good. If you’re going for a timelapse of the sunrise, that would take about an hour of footage, just let it record for as long as we are here."

“Got it mum! How did you find this place? This view is totes wicked mum!” Debbie asked as her eyes roamed freely at the beauty of the place. 

“We used this as a filming location for I Am Not Who You Think I Am, remember that prison documentary series, sweetheart?” taking a small sip of her coffee as she points towards the running path under the bridge.
 
“We needed exterior shots of the beautiful places here in Sydney to push the narrative deeper. What it’s like to be free? What simple joys are taken away from a person when she’s incarcerated? The small things that as a free human, we tend to take for granted.” She explained to her daughter, who was attentively listening to her every word.

“I wish I could be as great as you mom.” She said with hope in her voice. 

Every since Debbie was little, she was amazed at how talented and creative her mom was and wanted to come along to every shoot and filming that she’s allowed to tag along to. 

Bea was clearly her favored parent, much to the eternal chagrin of her dad Harry who wanted Debbie to idolize him for his own talents but didn’t have the patience to show Debbie around his projects.

And as a child, it was only natural for Debbie to lean towards that parent who shows her genuine love and affection, which angered Harry even more, adding another huge blow to his highly fragile ego, thinking that even his own daughter didn’t appreciate his genius.  

“Thank you, baby, but you are more creative than me. I have faith that you’ll do exceptionally well, just be patient with yourself and do your due diligence. You’ll find your niche soon enough and then you’ll go from there.” Ruffing her daughter’s curls affectionately as they walked towards the grass area to set up camp. 

“Thanks mum!” she said with the brightest smile, melting Bea’s heart instantly.

They settled on a bench nearby, armed with their muffins and hot drinks, waiting for the sun to finally make an appearance.  

As the first hues of light hits the back of Sydney Opera House, Debbie and Bea were both left speechless. It was such a stunning sight to see that no words can ever give justice to how majestic the experience was. 

Debbie was left in pure state of awe, her eyes are a bit teary now as the beauty of the moment captivated her. It made Bea choke up a bit too, a sense of calm washing over her as the sun slowly ascends. 

And in that short minutes of witnessing  something so profound and surreal, her mind flashed her an image of someone whose beauty was as enthralling as what she is witnessing right now. 

She took out her phone and held it up. She exhaled slowly so as to calm her shaky hands, waited for a few more seconds and then took a shot of the breathtaking sunrise. Bea found herself wanting to share this wonderful experience with someone, something that she was never inclined to do before, not with anyone, not ever. 

But now, her mind was thinking and her heart was silently whispering, I wish Allie was here
 
              
After staying for an hour and a half, Debbie was putting away her equipment, excited to get on their next place to visit. 

She sees her mom on her phone, her face scarlet red again and seemed to be annoyed at first and then turned serious real quick. 

When Bea put her phone down, Debbie approached her mom. “You okay, mum?” 

“Yeah. I just got a voice message from Franky. Something about Allie’s car.” Raking her hand through her hair, seemed to be bothered by something. 

“We could totally give your girlfriend a ride to the studio today, mum!” Debbie suggested, casually dropping that g-bomb trying to see if her mom will notice the semantics. 

Bea checked her watch, making some internal calculations. By the time they get to Allie’s apartment, she’s probably at the studio already, she silently mused.

“We won’t make it time, sweetheart.” She started saying, her eyes still focusing on her watch then stopped when Debbie’s words finally caught up with her.

“Wait... what did you call Allie?” only realizing that her lovely daughter referred to Allie as her girlfriend.

She looked up just in time to see Debbie giving her a silly grimace, and walking away casually towards their car.

“Let’s go mum!” she called out. 

Bea scoffed, shaking her head a little. An involuntary blush making an appearance on her face as her hand instinctively touched her mouth, remembering the night before. She smiled to herself and then started walking too.  


It was a dedicated Sydney-content-day, as Debbie kindly put it and their entire day was devoted to exploring the city, the little nooks and crannies rich with hidden art installations that Debbie wanted to capture with her lens and Bea was just glad to accompany her daughter doing her own thing, helping her with her b-rolls and bokeh shots. 

Flexing her urban photography skills to her mom includes sitting in the middle of the empty road and shooting straight up, to capture those eye catching angles of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  Getting those worm’s eye view photos of the green foliage with the fairy light backdrops on The Grounds in Alexandria while there were still relatively few people around.  

Using her fish-eye lens, she took interesting shots of art installations, one at Wynyard Station called the Interloop and those hanging empty birdcages found at Angel Place, an art piece called Forgotten Songs.   

She didn’t want to miss out on having a photo taken of Green Square Library’s Reading Room where there was one massive bookshelf where the books were arranged following the color palette of the rainbow, making sure that Bea gets a shot in that backdrop too.

“For science, mum!” she tells Bea as the redhead laughs while posing at the said shelf. Of course Bea knows what it means, and if Bea may or may not have enjoyed taking a photo in there too, Debbie will never know.  

After visiting different pockets of the city and finding some folks who are fashion forward, Debbie approached some of them, letting them know that she’s shooting street portraits and asked to take their picture. A few declined but quite a number of people, especially group of friends happily posed for Debbie. 

Bea was looking on at how well Debbie communicates with people, she feels proud that at such young age, she knows how to be diplomatic and how to take rejections when some refused.

After saying goodbye to the last set of people that she took photos of, Debbie walked over to her mom sitting on a bench nearby waiting for her.

“How did you convince them to take their photos?” Bea asked curiously.

“Uhm.. well.. I just showed them my Instagram. Told them I’ll tag them on my post.” Debbie happily explained while she sits beside her mom. 

“Great hustle, Deb. Very smart.”
 

The last on Debbie’s list was to have a quiet dinner at some trendy “insta-worthy” cafe that Debbie wanted to check out, and after feasting on a visually stimulating and exceptionally heavenly meal, it was time to head back to their hotel. 

Bea wanted to make sure that Allie had something healthy to eat tonight, so she order some take away for Allie. Debbie, on her part, made sure to get three different desserts for Allie, as her way of thanking her hero. The sentiment made Bea’s heart burst with affection.
 
On the drive back, her usually giddy and excited daughter was uncharacteristically quiet. At first, Bea thought that maybe Debbie was just exhausted from all the walking about but after seeing a deep frown on her face and hearing her third frustrated huff, she started to be concern. 

“What’s with the long face, Deb?” 

Releasing another heavy huff, she faced her mom. “Florence + the Machine is headlining this music festival at Parramatta Park tonight and both Carly and Shane can’t make it.” She replied honestly, her voice with a hint of frustration.

Wanting to be of help, Bea offered to come along. “I can come with you if you want?”

“I know you’d say that and I love you for it mum but you might not enjoy being there. You’d love the music, yes, but there’s going to be a huge crowd there.” Between the big noisy crowd and most attendees will be of the younger age, her mom might probably feel out of place and she doesn’t want to cause undue burden to her mother on her behalf.

“Are you sure?” Bea tried again, wanting to be sure. 

“Defo mum, maybe I’ll catch them next time. It’s not like it’s the end of the world or something.” She assured her mom, well more like convincing herself more than anything. There’ll be plenty of chances and maybe it just wasn’t meant to be tonight. 

Taking her cue from Debbie, she dropped the issue and continued driving. Although the desire to help out was strong, she also respected her daughter enough to know not to force the issue.

They made a short side trip at Rita’s garage. Bea wanting to speak to Rita at the possibility of having Allie’s car fixed there, well after she tells her plan to Allie anyway, not knowing that Allie’s car is already being serviced at one of the lifts. 

“Where are we mum?” Debbie asked a little confused, she was sure they were already heading back at the hotel.

“I’ll need to speak to Rita about something, it’ll just be a minute, come say hi, come on.” She said while getting out of the car. Debbie trailing behind her.

Rita saw that Bea was approaching and met her half-way. “What can I do for you, mate? And who’s your doppelganger?”

Shaking Rita’s hand, she introduced her daughter. “Hey Rita, this is Debbie, my daughter.” 

“Hello there Debbie! You look exactly like your mum over here.” 

“With better curls, you mean Miss Rita, right?” Debbie smiling cheekily at her mom’s friend. 

“With Franky’s charms, I see.” The comment made them all laugh heartily.

“This place is super cool. Can I look around for a bit?” Debbie asked, her eyes roaming at the impressive set-up that Rita maintained for her shop. 

“Sure thing, sport. Go ahead. Watch your head okay?”

After reminding Debbie to be careful, she turned her attention towards her friend. “What can I do for you, Bea.”

Bea cleared her throat and explained the reason for her visit. “A friend’s car might need some work, I’m thinking of sending her your way. Just a heads up, really.”

“Anything for you Bea. We only got two at the lifts right now” pointing her thumb at the car behind them which happens to be, by anyone’s guess, Allie’s car. The exact car that Bea was telling Rita about, but has no idea that Kaz already arranged everything that morning after Allie asked for her help.

“You can send it here or we can tow it, not a problem.” Rita expressing her willingness to help out.

“Thanks mate, I’d have to talk to her about it first but as soon as I get the green light, we’d bring it here.”


“Hey boss, we’re heading out.” Dana, the tall, slim with long jet black haired mechanic hollered from the back, walking towards Rita followed closely by Mon and Lee, all wearing some face paint and excited smiles on their faces.

“Oh hi Miss Bea!” She greeted their redhead “secret” boss, remembering the last time that she visited their garage and Rita revealing to her mechanics who Bea was, much to Bea’s embarrassment. 

“What’s on your faces? Where you off too?” Bea asked curiously, looking first at Dana and then at Mon and Lee who was hot on her trail.

“There’s a music festival at Parramatta Park tonight, Bea, we are heading there now.” Lee, the blonde mechanic with her signature smoky eye look and Ruby Woo red matte lipstick gamestrong, answered a little too quickly, a shy blush forming on her face. She’s been having a major crush on the redhead ever since she saw her that Sunday.

“You trust your girls, right?” Bea whispered but already knowing the answer. 

“With my life, Bea. Why?” Rita answered, a little confused.

“Hmm. Just a thought.” 

“Did someone say Parramatta Park?” Debbie piped up from behind them, the eager teen suddenly entertaining the possibility of going to the festival.

“Yes! Hi! We did! Wanna come with?” Mon, the mechanic with short curly raven hair raised her hand, responding quickly at the Debbie’s inquiry.    

“Hey I’m Debbie! That’s my mum right there!” she smiled shyly and then pointed at the direction of her mum.  

“Mom can I, I mean can I please?” she pleaded, giving Bea her softest and cutest puppy dog eyes.

Bea was holding back her smile, her mind already made up long before Debbie even asked her. “What happened to not being the end of the world?” she teased a little.

“It is the end of the world mum! It’s Florence + the Machine!” Debbie answered half a second later, smiling too because she knows that her mom will most likely yield.

Bea turned her head to ask Dana, “How are you girls getting there?” 

“We’ll take the train, Miss Bea.”

Bea was silent for a hot minute. Looking at her daughter, she offered. “How about you take the car, I’ll manage.” 

“You sure mum, we can just..” Debbie asked a little surprised.

“I insist, sweetheart. Go on, you girls have fun, okay?”

Rita was looking on at the entire exchange thinking that this maybe the perfect time to give Bea something back, finally. “I may have something for you, Bea. I think you’d like this.”

She disappeared momentarily to the back office and came out holding a medium-sized black rectangular gift box. 

“Ray’s been dying to give you this. Come on Bea take it.” 

Bea hesitated at first but took it eventually when Rita didn’t budge. She opened the box and pulled out a what seemed to be a biker’s jacket of sorts.

She looked closer, it was a dark brown distressed leather jacket with asymmetric zips and the Conqueror’s insignia embossed on the back.  

“The gang named you honorary Conqueror. You kept dodging the bloody invite, now’s our only chance.”

“I feel like I don’t deserve this.” Bea mumbled softly, clutching the jacket on her hands.

“I hope it fits, you’ll need that for this.” And in one swift move, Rita pulled up the cover from behind them revealing a black and red motorcycle with two helmets placed neatly on top of the pillon seat.

“Fully restored 1957 Harley Davidson Sportster Ironhead XL, we’ve customised the seat, changed it to a smooth badlander one basically for comfort and also in cases of casual backriders.”

“No way!” Debbie squealed excitedly!

“Whoa!” Dana piped up while Mon wolf whistled.

“Yeah baby!” Lee yelled excitedly too, feeling all sorts of flustered now. 

“I can’t take this, Rita. The jacket’s one thing, but the bike? It’s too much.” Bea was shaking her head, refusing to accept the gift. The gesture is greatly appreciated but to Bea’s mind, accepting this gift feels a bit off. 

Rita was holding her hand up, she ain’t backing down now. “Please Bea, it’s the fucking least that I can do for all you’ve done for me, for us.”

“You don’t owe me jackshit, mate!” but Bea kept her ground too. She’s stubborn that way. 

Rita tried again in a pacified tone this time. “If you don’t want to own it, it’s fine by me Bea.” 

Trying a different tactic, bargaining perhaps, she continued. “But how about you use it for awhile, while you’re here in Sydney. I know you’ve been itching for a ride, how about it?”

Debbie was looking on, first at the her mom and then at Rita and then back to her mom again. Time to intervene, she thinks. 

“Okay, timeout. Aunt Rita, can I call you Aunt Rita?” Raising both her hands, standing in the middle, smiling at the two to de-escalate the situation.

“Yeah sure, kiddo!” nodding her head, looking at Bea first and then at Debbie.   

“Let me just talk to mum for two seconds. Mum?” Dragging her mom to the side, out of earshot from everyone else.  

“I can’t take this, sweetheart.” Bea said in a stern voice. She pursed her lips and crossed her arms over her chest. 

Her guards are up and her mind’s made up, Debbie thinks. And when Bea has reached a decision, there’s very little, close to none that can be done to break her resolve. But maybe? Debbie mused.  

Going on a hunch, she made an attempt. “I understand mum but how about you try it for now. You did say you miss riding, right?

Bea was silent, still ruminating. She appreciates it, greatly but just finds it hard to accept things from people.

Going in for the kill, Debbie makes her case. “Make three people happy tonight, yourself, aunt Rita over there and guess who’s the third one?

Her forehead furrowed, looking at Debbie with narrowed eyes. “Who?” 

“I think Allie would find it cool.” Boom. Dropping the Allie card smoothly, like a perfectly timed mic drop after hitting those explosive falsettos.  

Bea rolled her eyes and scoffed. The hardened look on her face was quickly replaced by a wide smile and followed by a loud juvenile chuckle.  

Debbie was cackling now. She called it.

“Fine. Okay then. Let’s go!” Bea giving in, finally. Shaking her head as she walked back to join the others, Debbie following closely.  

Debbie gave her new aunt Rita a thumbs up, indicating that she was able to convince her mom, making Rita laugh triumphantly.  

As Bea circled around the beautiful black and red beast in front of her, she can’t help but be amazed at the craftsmanship for restoring this old time classic. “There’s only one problem, I’m supposed to be meeting a friend and I’m bringing her food, I don’t think there’s room for that here.”

“Not a problem, here you go!” Rita was quick to answer, handing Bea a brand new black throttle backpack. 

“The lining in this is insulated, so you could safely carry food here and a bunch of stuff more. Our girl her, Dana, is designing a new line of riding gears and this is one of the first prototypes from our supplier. Gloves are on the side pocket too, you’ll need a pair.” She explained, sending an appreciative nod at Dana’s way.

”It’ll look totally hot on you, boss, respectfully of course.” Dana explained proudly. Lee nudging Dana’s elbow, glaring at her for a hot minute. 

“I’m just bringing her food, you guys, this maybe too much.” She still can’t get her head around the fact that she’s about to give Allie a ride on this hot beast. It might be overwhelming, she thinks. 

“Go big or go home, boss Bea! Let’s go!” Mon urged throwing some enthusiastic fist pumps in the air earning a roaring fit of laughter from everyone even Bea.  

Seeing that she’s outnumbered in this one and there’s really no harm in trying, Bea grabbed the fob and finally gave in making everyone in the workshop hoot and cheer. 

She tried the Conqueror’s riding jacket on first and it fits her perfectly, smiling a little because it actually feels nice on her.

After storing the food that they bought for Allie securely inside the backpack and attaching the modular helmet, Bea flung it over her shoulder and neatly secured the straps. She put on the gloves next and gave a last wave to her daughter and the girls as they drove ahead towards Parramatta Park.

After giving Rita a small wave, she put on her full face helmet, snapped the jiffy stand, pushed up the weight of the Harley and rolled the throttle to accelerate in quick smooth motions, immediately remembering how to drive the damn thing. 

The first few minutes of riding was a total rush. That unfathomable sensation of feeling everything, and remembering simultaneously how to maneuver, navigate and enjoy the total control whilst feeling vulnerable all at the same time.

The connection, the adrenaline and mental release, it almost feels biblical at this point and Bea is simply taking it all in, embracing this new found freedom.


Bea arrived at GMA Network just in time to see Boomer pull out of the carpark and speed away towards the road. She hurriedly parked near the entrance and got off the Harley. She took off the backpack and placed it neatly on the bike, putting away the riding gloves too and then removed her own helmet, letting her curls cascade wildly on her shoulders. 

The nerves are back again, those damn butterflies performing an impromptu dance recital inside her tummy making the anticipation of seeing Allie again a hundred times more nerve-wracking.

Her right thumb and index finger reached for the corners of her mouth, still feeling the warmth of Allie’s lips as those soft lips kissed both corners the night before. She’s blushing again, can’t seem to stop that from happening everytime she thinks of her favourite blonde. 

And as she hears the studio doors open, her eyes immediately sought out the lone figure coming out who was busy looking something on her phone.

Bea felt rooted on the spot, those adorable deep-set blue eyes, that cute little nose that scrunches up when she’s a little annoyed and that darn luscious lips that she can still sort of taste on her mouth. 

She took a deep breath to calm her nerves and approached Allie from behind, who has still no clue that she was there to pick her up. 

She unzipped her bikers jacket quickly and raked her fingers through her hair in an attempt to fix her wild curls, and when she was close enough for Allie to hear, she called out.

"Need a lift?"

Chapter Text

Chapter 22
Piercing the Veil

 

Autumn nights in Sydney typically feels calmer and balmier as the energy-draining humidity drops dramatically, making the temperature cooler and the air crispier.

But at half past eight on this particular Tuesday night at the carpark of GMA Network, it felt as though for a nano-second, the heat index spiked an all time high as Allie’s temperature sky-rocketed, making her feel all heated, burning her from within causing a wave of explosions on every part of her body singly because she turned around and her eyes landed on this fierce goddess before her. 

Same goddess with her wild red curls cascading over her shoulders, channelling a badass rebel vibe in skinny black jeans, a white t-shirt and a dark brown, posh and slick motorcycle jacket, clutching a helmet on one hand and the other was touching the base of her neck, flashing a bashful smile towards her. 

Allie was rendered utterly powerless.

“Hi!” Bea tried again in that shaky, raspy voice making the already flustered Allie melt even more.

“Uhm..B-bea.. h-hey!” Allie stuttered her mind still foggy, her knees still weak.

“W-what a-are y-you... ah... doing here?” she starts inching towards Bea, her limbs still feeling a bit wobbly. 

Bea cleared her throat and was now fidgeting mindlessly with the zipper of her jacket. “I brought you dinner, something healthy this time.”

“And uhm.. to give you a ride?” jerking her head towards the direction of their ride of choice for the night.

Give me a ride? Oh! Allie silently mused. Nothing like a good ole fashioned double entendre to clear the fogginess of her mind. 

“Give me a ride?” she teased, winking suggestively at the adorably shy redhead. 

Bea’s forehead creased giving Allie a puzzled look and then it hit her too. “Oh... jesus.. I meant, a ride home. Franky left a very uhm colourful voice message.” She buries her blushing face in her free hand, unable to hide her embarrassment. 

Allie reached out for the hand that was covering Bea’s face and held it gently, causing the redhead’s breathing to hitch for a split-second as she looked at Allie’s beautiful smile, her eyes sparkling with delight. 

“Hmm.. so what did Franky say? Her exact words? Just curious, Bea.” She stepped closer, clinging to Bea’s hand, playing with her fingers affectionately. 

“Uhm” Bea was turning scarlet again, looking everywhere except at Allie.

“Something about slots getting... uhm.. you know what.. I suddenly forgot.” She stopped mid-sentence. In Bea’s defense, she did try but she just can’t deliver the incredibly nasty punch line without making the fifty shades of red appear all over her face. 

With her free hand, Allie gently lifted Bea’s chin and held her stare. “No you didn’t.” 

“I didn’t.” She whispered in a shaky voice. She noticed Allie’s blue eyes turn a few shades darker, travelling from her eyes to her lips and then back at her eyes again.   

Allie bit her lower lip to restrain herself and then gently let go of Bea’s chin. “Okay Bea, you’re off the hook.”

If she lingered for half a second more, she might have pounced on Bea and she’s trying to do right by this amazing woman so she will keep her libido in check.  

Tugging on Bea’s hand, she walked to the direction of their ride. Nearing the Harley, Bea squeezed Allie’s hand, letting it go for now so she could retrieve Allie’s helmet and walked quickly ahead of the blonde. 

As she was taking the straps off the backpack from the helmet, she hears Allie’s excited squeal from behind.

“Holy shit! She IS beautiful, and uhm the bike’s cute too.” Marvelling at the beauty of the bike and checking out Bea’s hot form from this angle. She can’t help it, really. 

“Right? Isn’t she... wait.. what?” Bea initially thinking that the beautiful comment was for the bike but stopped and turned around at the smug looking blonde who seemed pleased with herself. 

“Just!” she raised her hand, warning Allie but the stupid smile on her face betrayed her resolve.  

Bea scoffed and then pushed the modular helmet on to the blonde’s hands. “Here!”

“You’ll need this too! Just to be safe!” Quickly taking off her jacket, she held it up for Allie to wear.

“I’m good Bea, it’s alright.” She started to protest but Bea was having none of it.

“Okay, thank you.” She moved closer while Bea held the jacket up so that Allie can slip her arm easily. 

After doing the other side, instinctively, Bea moved to face Allie. She gently pulled Allie’s hair that got caught in the jacket, adjusted the collar and zipped it right up. 

Allie was watching how Bea singlehandedly dressed her up. She can’t help but fall just a little more at how much Bea was fussing over her. How this small gesture was making her feel like she mattered to someone, that she mattered enough to be kept safe, to be protected under Bea’s special way.  

When everyone in the world wanted to strip her down naked, leave her cold and vulnerable, take away whatever she can give and more. 

But not her. Not her Bea. 

And from the start, all she’s ever done was protect her, from the smallest of things, like offering her riding jacket for her to use, or fending off her bullies even in the form of her crass best friend and yanking her from spiralling in the dark by offering distractions in the form of story time, to the grandest of gestures done unwittingly by providing her a good home when the universe decided to take everything else away from her.     

It was Bea’s raspy voice laced with concerned that pulled her right back. “Still with me, Al?” noticing that Allie has spaced out for a bit.

Regaining her wits, she answered with all sincerity. “I’m here, Bea.”

It took them roughly around ten minutes more to leave the carpark, Allie was hesitant at first on where to hold on after having settled on her seat behind the redhead. It wasn’t until Bea reached for both her hands and wrapped them around her waist herself that assured Allie that it was okay for her to be this close. 

And so Allie scooched closer to Bea’s back, hugging the redhead completely from behind. Bea didn’t seemed to mind and was actually secretly enjoying having Allie this close. It felt better than any hug that she’d ever had, apart from her daughter’s. 

The ride home was too short for both of their liking and when Bea turned off the engine, she seemed a little disappointed at the thought of losing this close contact with Allie.

“We’re here now, Al” she mumbled as she removes her helmet.

“That was fast.” Allie whined from behind her. “Are you sure?” she pouted underneath her helmet, still no sign of the slightest attempt to move.

Looking over her shoulder, extending her right hand for Allie to use for balance. “Yes. This is your place right here. You can let go now, Al.” 

“I don’t want to.” Allie mumbled, hugging Bea tighter, making the redhead chuckle. She really is a big baby, Bea mused. 

“No?” Bea tried again. Hearing a faint “No” from behind her and feeling Allie’s head on her back, shaking side to side, as her response.  

Bea placed her helmet on top of the fuel tank, put her riding gloves away and kicked the jiffy stand in place for counter balance. “Okay.” She said finally. 

“Okay?” Allie hesitated, her voice faint and fragile.

Bea gently grab Allie’s hands with both of hers and held them in place, leaning in to the hug. “Okay.”
 
As they sat there quietly under the cold night, Allie found herself thinking that it’s the little things that Bea does, her reassuring hand squeeze in the middle of a noisy dive or this lingering hug after a tiring day, that spoke to her heart without Bea needing to utter anything, like a silent promise that no matter how crazy things may get, she’ll always have Bea.

They stayed on the bike for god knows how long, it could have been seconds, minutes, neither one really wanting to move but Allie’s grumbling stomach had other plans and when it made itself known, they had no choice but to give in. 

After climbing three flights of stairs, they reached Allie’s flat finally. As Bea stepped inside Allie’s “Room of Requirement”, as she proudly calls her small flat, because she’s a proud nerd like that, she was in awe as everything about this space screams Allie.

From the big fluffy faux fur throw pillows on top of a three-seater yellow couch, stylishly draped with a chunky knit throw, to the laid back jute rugs complementing the wooden floorboards perfectly matching Allie’s quirky style. 

Adding the wooden bookshelf beside the couch, where the books are arranged in the same color pattern of the rainbow, reminding Bea of the Reading Room they visited earlier and every corner is splashed with either a fern plant or tiny succulents that adds character to the place, making it feel cozy and warm just like the beautiful woman that lives here.   

“Make yourself comfortable Bea, I’ll get us drinks.” Allie encouraged as she heads to the kitchen, bringing the backpack along with her to unpack the food. 

Bea was just silently looking around enjoying everything about Allie’s place, her whole face lighting up making Allie smile too. 

Before finally disappearing to the kitchen, she noticed that Bea was heading towards the direction of her bedroom. Thinking nothing of it, she continued her small journey to the kitchen area.  

Retrieving two bottles of beer, plating the take away dinner and storing the dessert for later, she was just about to head back when she hears Bea’s voice. 

“So this is where all the magic happens?”

The question took her by surprise. She remembers vaguely that Bea was heading towards her bedroom.

Is she talking about what I think she’s talking about? Maybe Bea’s starting to get more comfortable and decided to yank her chain a little. 

 
“Well uhm, yeah. I guess. I mean, there’s been no magic happening for years now. Not that there’s no offers of magic. There’s just no one I cared enough to do magic with, you know.”

Answering Bea’s question as honestly as possible with her less subtle more palatable words, blushing a little because Bea is asking her THIS question.

“But yeah, uhm.. I’d love to do a lot of magic, mindblowing, earth shaking, legs-rendered-useless magic, that kind of magic. Preferably with someone that I really like.” Allie rambled, feeling all warm inside, as she heads back to the curious redhead.

“Huh? What?” Bea was looking at her with a perplexed look, clearly confused.

“What were you..” Allie started to ask and realizing that Bea was standing on the wall next to her bedroom door. 

“Your writer’s board.” Pointing at cork board hanging on the wall with color coded post it notes and Allie’s cute scribbles, plotting what Bea guessed was the entire story arcs for the second season of Inmates

She noticed too that at the very bottom of the board, there’s a white note with a drawing of two stick figures one with curly redhair and the other long blonde one. She tried to hide a chuckle.   

Closing the distance she took the beer bottles from Allie’s hand. “Mindblowing, earth shaking magic? What are you on about?” she asked curiously the now suddenly blushing blonde. Why is her face turning red right now? Bea was genuinely baffled.

Hearing no response, Bea followed Allie’s line of sight and understood finally. “Oh!”

“Uhm.. noted then." she whispered to the blonde's ear and walked towards the couch, leaving the blushing Allie rooted on the spot. 

After crashing on the couch, she looked back at Allie and started chuckling at first, holding it in for as long as she can, until she all out burst into a laugh fit. 

“I'm so gonna get you for that Bea!" Allie whined as she finally made her way to Bea. Scowling at the redhead while placing the plates on the coffee table in front of her. 

And just like on Sunday night, Bea ended up feeding her other baby as said baby kept happily sharing complete with animated gestures and voice re-enactments, all about her day between bites of salad and salmon, caressing yet again, Bea's free hand. 

"So you've hired Bridget Westfall, she'd be an excellent addition to your team." she said while holding out a fork-full of salmon, waiting for Allie to take her next bite. 

"Mhm!" She mumbled, as she happily took the offered food. "Franky seemed pleased with the move."

"Hmm" Bea grunted as she takes a swig at her beer. 

After clearing dinner and dessert, Bea kept wandering around Allie's living area, finding something interesting each time she explores. 

What really caught the interest of Bea was that one wall behind the couch where Allie hung three framed scripts. She walked closer and tried to read what was on it. 

The first one was the pilot episode of Inmates, with the entire cast and writers’ signature on the margins. 

The second was a scene involving a hilarious encounter between what Bea guessed was the hero and the villain of this show. The dialogue was witty and engaging, and Bea can't help but chuckle a little. It was that funny. 

When she read the footnotes, it was from a familiar sounding comedy show, and if her memory serves her right, her home network wanted to buy the rights for season three. 

"You worked for Murder and Hairdressing?" she asked the approaching blonde who was wondering what the redhead was laughing at. 

"For two years as a writers' assistant." she explained, looking over the framed script that Bea was now holding. 

"I pitched that bit and it made the cut so I wanted to memorialize it." feeling a bit silly for framing such a little thing. 

Bea was shaking her head in disagreement. "A win is a win, Al! It was goddamn funny too, I'd frame that myself." 

"What happened?" she asked while taking her place on the couch.  

Allie sat next to Bea and explained as accurately as she can. "We weren't generating enough viewership, the network had to pull the plug. The timing sucks too, I was about to be a staff writer for the next season but we'll tough luck, I guess. But there's a silver lining, Inmates came out and that played out well."

Bea was unconsciously rubbing her chin. "Hmm. That's odd. ABS was at the final stages of acquiring the rights for season three, you're numbers are doing fine. I wonder why it fell through?" 

"What? I don't know either, that's all they told us. Our showrunner Matt Fletcher had a big meeting and that was that. I was stressing that I'd be out of a job that time."

"I was supposed to be the new EP for season three. Might have met you sooner." Bea leaning closer to the blonde.

"You could have been my boss! Well I'd certainly don't mind if you'd boss me around a bit." Allie inched forward too, wagging her eyebrows at the now blushing redhead. 

"Oh jesuschrist!" Bea jumped to her feet, shaking her head, scowling at the laughing blonde.

"That's the last, I swear." she pleaded and Bea pulled her up from the couch.

"And this one?" Bea pointed with the free hand the last framed script on the wall.

"Can you guess?" she said in a sweet voice, taking the frame down and handing it to Bea.

Bea reading the third framed script intently. “Hmm” 

"Player is given the option to accept the legendary spell Shadow Strike or the ancient weapon Cursed Morningstar. This is a video game!" Bea giddly guessed, grinning eagerly at Allie. 

"Righto! Well, a side quest, really, for Legends of the Shadowbeast game! It was a one-time side hustle." she explained sheepishly. 

"You're so talented, Allie." 

"I did a lot of odd jobs and side hustles to make ends meet. Some I'm proud of." The some I'd rather forget part wasn't spoken but highly implied. 

"We do what we have to survive." Bea said softly, holding Allie's hand tighter. 

Allie was silent for awhile, still trying to decide if this is the right time to tell Bea everything. 

It was Bea who broke the ice first. "Why is that wall empty?"

Following the area that Bea was pointing to, it was the wall behind her reading chair near the window. "I've been meaning to hang something there but I haven't found the right thing, maybe a photo or an artwork, something that means a lot to me, like these scripts." 

Bea was silent, gazing at the empty wall, transforming a small idea then hatching it to a full blow plan in just a few short seconds. She's suddenly excited. 

 


On the other side of town, Debbie, Dana, Mon and Lee were having the time of their lives as Florence + the Machine performs their favorite song. 

Shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa

Debbie called her bestfriend Carly who’s currently at CBN Tower, to share the experience with her. 

And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back

"Carly! Can you hear that? Come on down here!" she screamed excitedly on the line! 

So shake him off, oh whoa

"Oh shit! She sang Shake It Out?" Carly cursed walking hurriedly along the east wing corridor of the 18th floor. 

"Ugh! Chairman's package came in late, I'm about to deliver to her now. I'll try to follow you guys, wait for me okay?" 

Carly hung up her phone and smoothed her shirt before entering the office of her boss, Chairman Jacs. 

She sees her boss sitting quietly in her chair, clutching a photo on her hand and a glass of whiskey on the other. Her presence must have startled her boss as she quickly hid the photo on the drawer. 

That's the second time that she's caught her boss hiding that photo. 

"Yes, Carly?" Her voice was loud but slurry, she's probably drunk, she thinks. 

"Oh yes. Uhm, this arrived for you madame." Carly spoke softly opening the package and placing them on the Chairman's desk. 

"Ms. Lee said that they've tried their hardest to find a replica of that nephritic jade vase but all they have are these two, the green Burmese jadeite and the imperial malachite dragon vases." she relayed the instructions of the antique dealer who was hurrying to off load the package to Carly in the lobby. 

"Useless. Utterly useless. Send those useless things back." Jacs yelled, scoffing at these collectors items that has no value to her. 

"He can never be replaced!" She snapped, hitting the table out of sheer frustration. 

"He? Oh you mean the jade vase, ma'am?" Carly asked innocently. She's a little weirded out by her boss lashing out over these funky looking vases. 

"Go home Carly! Now!" She snarled giving Carly a dismissive wave of her hand. 

Carly hurriedly left the Chairman's office. Must have hit a nerve for her to dismiss me like that. Oh well, Florence, here I come! She squeeled excitedly, sending a text to her bestfriend that she's on her way, and her boss' extra bitchiness long forgotten as soon as she exited the lobby. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 23
The Mister Hyde To My Doctor Jekyll


“Mhm. Okay sweetheart, have fun and be safe.” Bea was standing in the middle of Allie’s living room, on the phone, checking in on Debbie while Allie was somewhere in the kitchen, fixing them both coffee opting to trade off beer with a non alcohol drink, after just having a couple of bottle each since Bea’s still driving back to the hotel.

“To the moon and back.” She said finally and hung up the phone after, unable to hide the wide grin from her face knowing how ecstatic Debbie was on the other line. 

As Allie heads back to where Bea was, she sees her holding her phone sporting a huge smile. She stopped on her tracks and for a short moment, took in that wonderful sight, sighing contently at how this image is making her heart swell with content. 

After awhile she walked closer to the still beaming redhead.  

“Good news?” Allie asked as she hands Bea her coffee, mirroring her smile, she can’t help it with her. Her smile was simply contagious. 
 
Taking the offered cup and mouthing a thank you at Allie, Bea waited until they were settled nicely back on the couch before responding. “Ah Debbie’s having a blast with her new friends. They’re grabbing a bite and then heading home right after.”

“It still amazes me how she easily gets along with new people. New people scare the shit out of me.” She continued, taking a sip on her cup.

“Hey I’m new, do I scare the shit out of you?” Allie propped her chin on her hand, leaning closer to the redhead beside her, eyeing her suspiciously.

You have no idea. Bea mused and before her mind could stop her, she blurted out a resounding “Yes!” 

But took it back, half a breath later. “I mean uhm ‘course not!” She said nervously, the tremors of her voice betraying her this time.

Allie was attempting to glare at her for a good two-seconds and then leaned back on the couch. “Good!” she sighed.  

Taking Bea’s hand, fingers interlaced, she gave it a little squeeze and continued. “Cause I would never hurt you Bea.” She said in almost a whisper, but Bea still heard her loud and clear.  

And Bea believed it too, with all her heart. “I know” squeezing Allie’s hand back, her mouth curving into a shy smile.

“I’m not gonna bite... well unless..”  winking suggestively at the redhead, diffusing the tension in the air almost immediately.

“Ugh!” Bea scowled at the laughing blonde, earning another eye roll from the redhead. 

Raising her free hand in mock-defeat. “Okay.. okay.. truce!” she offered, flashing her best puppy dog eyes when her fake surrender gesture was clearly not working at the glaring redhead. 

Bea almost took her hand back but one look at those pleading blue orbs and she’s hooked. Damn it! She cursed quietly. “Somehow I doubt that.” She said finally but without bite into it.

“She’s not with Carly and Shane, then?” Allie asked curiously, bringing the conversation back on track, taking small sips of her coffee as well. 

“Both at work, luckily, she found new friends to attend the festival with... which reminds me, your car, what’s the situation?” 

“I had it towed this morning, I’m expecting a call from the mechanic by tomorrow. I’ll know more by then.”

“That’s good. If it doesn’t work out, I know a place we could go to, alright? How about tomorrow, how are you getting to work?” 

“Thanks Bea but you don’t need to worry about me.”

“B-but I do. I do worry.” Bea said honestly, a small flush crept up her face at that unexpected confession.

Allie’s heart might have stopped right then and there as Bea’s words shot straight through her, chipping off the last remaining defenses she had.

With a trembling voice and her eyes still fighting back the tears, she tells Bea exactly what’s on her mind. “I know you said last night that you don’t know how to do this but you've been doing everything right. I just want you to know that."

They were quiet for a while, the gravity of Allie’s words hitting Bea in places that she didn’t thought still exist inside her heart, making her want, no, more like need, to reach out to Allie. 

And maybe Bea wanted a reason, any reason really, to be closer to her. 

“Allie... your eyes.. they look uhm tired.” She said finally, pointing at Allie’s expressive eyes, looking at her with so much affection.

“Here.” She moved at the edge of the couch and placed the fluffy throw pillow on her lap, patting it slightly. 

And maybe Allie understood without needing Bea to explain with words, because she’s more attuned to her frequency than any other human being in this world and maybe, just maybe, she wanted to be close to Bea too.

Allie laid down on the couch, her head resting comfortably on Bea's lap and feeling safe and at ease, something that she hasn't felt for a long while. 

Allie held one of Bea’s hand with both of her own, holding it close to her heart as she relaxed more in the couch, while Bea was just busy stroking her blonde mane, gently massaging her scalp, lulling her almost making her sleep. 

It was quiet for a while, until Allie asked about their hot ride home. "You didn't have to go through the lengths of renting a Harley to impress me you know." She jabbed at the redhead whose eyes were already shut close, the only indication that Bea was still awake was the soft gentle caress of the redhead’s hand through her blonde locks.

"Ha! It was a sorta gift." She chuckled softly, her eyes still shut close.

"That's a very generous gift." Allie teased a little, curiosity getting the best of her. 

"It’s too much, I’m just using it for awhile and then I’ll return it before heading back to... uhm… LA.” Bea explained, the sudden change of her voice towards the end wasn't lost on Allie. 

"LA.” Allie repeated, mirroring Bea's somber tone. 

Bea opened her eyes to look at Allie's features. “You sound… uhm sad, Allie.”

“I’m trying not to think about you leaving.” she replied, a little apprehensive. 

“I don’t want to leave.” The "you" part was left hanging in the air yet Allie still heard it as as clearly as if she actually verbalised it. 

“This sounds like something for future Allie to deal with so I’m letting present Allie takeover now.” shifting the entire conversation to a happier tone. 

“You doofus.” Bea cackled, closing her eyes again, leaning back on the couch to relax more. 

“You say doofus, I hear beautiful, I'm still good with that Bea.” Holding Bea's hand protectively closer to her body. 

“Well, you are.” Bea mumbled softly. 

“Doofus or beautiful?” Allie pokes at the redhead. 

“Mhm.”

“Bea?”

“Hmm?”

“You sound sleepy.”

Allie would have offered for Bea to stay the night but knowing that Debbie will be left alone in their hotel suite worries her more and most probably Bea would be too, so she offered her something to wake her sleepy head. 

“Can I get you anything, Bea? Maybe a power nap or refill your coffee?” she asked while getting up from the couch.

Rubbing her eyes, Bea replied almost immediately. “Just coffee, please.”

“One coffee refill, coming right up!” Allie took both of their cups on the coffee table and sprinted towards the kitchen to get them both refills.

Bea was on her feet too, stretching a little, to shake off the sleepiness in her system. 

Bea was tilting her head left to right when she noticed a familiar looking teal jacket, draped on the Eames-style reading chair by the window and without giving it much thought, she walked towards it.

In her haste to reach the other side of the room, she didn’t noticed two medium sized cardboard boxes on the floor and tripped on them causing the contents of one of the box to spill all over. Thankfully the other box remained unharmed except for the top cover that got toppled down.

Way to go, Bea. Smooth as sandpaper. Wow. She critisized her own clumsiness.

Bea was hunching down, scrambling to collect the items that spilled out of the box, absentmindedly, she picked up a few things, batteries, funky looking gadgets, battery operated tiny tools and when Bea picked up the last remaining items, her brain fully recognising what it was on her hand, she turned beetroot red, one would think that she'd been left out for hours under the scorching sun. 

Allie was heading back with a refill cup of coffee on her hand when she saw Bea hunched down, her face completely red, this shade redder and darker than she'd ever seen on her and when her eyes focused on what was Bea holding, she almost dropped the cup. 

"Shit!" Allie cursed under her breath.

Bea looked up and saw the surprised look on Allie’s face. Use you words.. Say something idiot. "Ah..uhm..I didn't mean ah" 

Only a few things can embarrass Allie. Fighting for most of her life would do that to a person but having to explain to Bea, the person that she’s falling for, a box full of adult toys, is not something that she was expecting to explain at this early in their relationship.  

"It's.. ah.. it’s okay Bea. It was bound to come up sooner or later. I was hoping for later." She lets out  a heavy sigh and then placed the coffee on the table before helping Bea with the last remaining items on the floor. 

"What you do on your private time is your business Al." Bea spat out, almost immediately. She was embarrassed not at Allie for knowing how to take care of herself, not at all. She was embarrassed with herself because she keeps seeing a naked Allie in her mind. That’s what’s making her blush.

"It's not what you think, Bea. Well not exactly." Allie started to explain, picking up some batteries that rolled under the table.

"It's one of those side gigs, I was telling to you about." 

"There's an adult website. Oh boy, that sounded worse." Allie was rambling a little, nervously attempting to explain how this all came to be. 

Bea was just rooted on the spot, still looking at Allie with an unreadable expression. 

"They paid me to… uhm... write about their products." 

"Huh?" Bea finally finding her voice.

"Product descriptions really detailed ones. It started with a couple of products but I guess it made an impact to their patrons, after a few months they hired me again. So they sent me a bunch to get some USPs." 

“USPS?” 

"Unique selling points"

"Full disclosure Bea, I've done other things in this line of business and-"

"I DID FURRY COMMISSIONS!" Bea blurted out hurriedly in a panicked and pitchy voice. 

"What?" Allie was confused now.

It was Bea’s turn to explain her outburst. She noticed that Allie was having a hard time trying to explain. Does Allie think that I'm pure and innocent in all this? 

"I-I used to be an freelance illustrator. I loved telling stories with my drawings. I wanted to push myself and find my niche, so I took a lot of different illustrator jobs and a number of furry commissions, mostly NSFW type of stuff. But it wasn't what I wanted to do in the long run so I shifted to storyboarding and from there I started to get serious with my craft, it eventually led me to film school."

"So don't think that I don't know stuff about sex and what not. It's just.. uhm.. sex has never really been my...." she mumbled, avoiding Allie's eyes. 

Allie saw how difficult it must have been for her to open up about this so she reached for Bea's hand and led her back to the couch. 

They sat close next to each other and when Bea was slightly more relaxed, she looked straight into her eyes. “Maybe you’ve been doing it with the wrong people” she said softly, squeezing Bea's hand. 

Bea smiled at Allie. “Maybe” 

“Real sex, good sex.. it’s in here too. You should try it sometime.” she continued, caressing Bea's temple, tucking a stray lock behind her ear. 

Bea remained quiet, allowing Allie's words to sink in. And then she remembered something Allie said. Time to even the score. 

"Like mind blowing? Earth shaking? Legs rendered useless? That kind?" she said, her face turning slightly scarlet. 

Allie was full on laughing now, she didn't she that one coming. "You’re never gonna live that one down, are ya?

“Nah. Just messing with you… uhm..I kinda.. ah.. like it when I can make you blush like that.. turn the tables a bit."

And as the self proclaimed Queen of clapback, she countered. “Is that so? I mean... there are other ways... uhm.. to make me blush, Bea.”

“Allie!”

“What? Leave me under the sun for too long and I’d turn pink, instantly. What were YOU thinking?" she looked at Bea suspiciously. 

"Oh!" her hand quickly covered her mouth to stop her from saying something more embarrassing. 

"You were thinking IT. It’s in your eyes!" Allie jabbed accusingly at Bea. 

"Is that right, little miss eye reader? Okay then, what else can you see in these so called eyes of mine? Hmm?" Bea leaned in, caging Allie in the couch with both her hands, challenging the smug blonde who was at this very moment rendered weak by her actions. 

Jesus Novak, breathe. Count to ten, backwards.. 10..9..8.. Allie tells herself as Bea was still hovering above her. She bit her lower lip and blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "I need to pee!"

"Ah yeah sure." Bea quickly adjusted herself and let Allie out. Allie headed straight for the bathroom, mainly to calm herself down. "That was really close."

 


Allie came back and claimed her seat next to the redhead. 

"Do you still draw now?" she asked curiously, wanting to get back to their earlier conversation. 

The move took a dangerous turn though, as Allie, as if in slow motion, saw the color drain out of Bea's face.

Her smile faded quickly, morphing into a hardened expression, making Allie instantly regret asking this question. 

Bea’s hand reached for her nape, seemed to be stretching but her eyes were focused somewhere else. "I stopped drawing years ago, I don't think my hands can still remember how." She said finally, in a gruff voice that Allie has only heard now. 

She cleared her throat, attempting to push out the lump in there that was making her voice sound rough. "My husband, ex husband. He uhm.. wasn't particularly happy that he didn’t get the project he pitched to a producer. Blamed me for slacking off and giving him a shitty storyboard. He had a nasty temper." 

“H-he b-broke my arm and wrist that night.” Her voice cracked as the flames of anger started raging inside her.

“I had a pin here” Bea raised her right hand, showing Allie the back of her little finger near the knuckle.

“A couple more here.” Tracing the bone on her index and middle finger.

“And a metallic plate here.” pointing the entire length of her thumb to her wrist.  

“When it's particularly cold, it still hurts a little. I couldn't draw after that and I never really tried again."

Bea rose up abruptly from her seat, aggressively raking her fingers through her hair. Her entire demeanor seem agitated for some reason, borderline angry. 

She was pacing the room, lost in her own thoughts, running from a distant memory that she can’t shake off and this was not the same as when she flipped her lid over at Franky’s, this was different and Allie was genuinely worried for Bea. The memory must have triggered something.

“And I know what you’re thinking? Why didn’t I fight back? Why did I let it happen?” Bea hissed, simmering with unexplainable fury, her anger almost brimming now, threatening to lash out at any second. 

This was exactly what Bea feared most when she asked for Franky’s advice. There was a reason why she worked so hard to bury the memories in the deepest recesses of her mind, against her therapist’s sound advice but it worked for her for the most part but the few times that it didn’t, like the current predicament they had now, it would send her into this angry spiral of self loathing, self blame and she’d be stuck in this state for hours, days even. 

Not even Debbie nor Franky can snap her back instantly, and now Allie is seeing her too, the Mr. Hyde to her Doctor Jekyll. And Bea was one hundred percent sure that Allie’s gonna bolt now. Who would want to deal with this mess? 

She stopped pacing finally, only to look at her hands, reminding her how broken she was. Looking down at her hands, she doesn’t see it’s clean and mended state, all her mind can register now are her broken hands that night when it was completely shattered, bleeding, swelling.

And she knew right at that moment that it was hopeless to even try. No one should deal with how fucked up she really was.

But Allie wasn’t just anyone. Not to her.

Allie who was momentarily confused at how things escalated, scrambled to her feet and got in front of Bea, attempting to catch her eyes but the redhead was still looking at her hands.

Allie slowly closed the small gap between them and gently took Bea’s hands with both of her trembling ones, unable to hide the tears that are freely falling now because seeing Bea in this state hurts her too, more than any bashing she ever had, more than any beatings she had to endure. 

She lifted Bea’s right hand to her lips and delicately kissed her little finger near the knuckle, her lips slowly made their way to her index finger and middle finger and leaving a trail of soft kisses on her thumb to her wrist.

Finally, she turned her hand over and rubbed a thumb along her palm, and kissed it gently, letting her lips linger for a few seconds before coming up to look Bea in the eyes. 

“Come back to me, Bea.” She pleaded, her voice so fragile but she was determined to stay with Bea no matter how long it’ll take to bring her back. 

 

The anger was consuming Bea, her mind was rushing back to that dark place again and everything around her was a blur, continuously spinning faster and faster by the minute and she can’t seem to make it stop. 

She could feel the heavy pounding of her chest, as though her heart was about to explode. Mildly aware that she’s visibly shaking. Something was blocking her breathing and she's gasping for air. 

And then she felt it, like a steady current, pulsing through her right hand, starting from her knuckles slowly travelling to her fingers, lingering at her wrist and then feeling it’s intensity on her open palm.

And then she heard it, that faint hushed voice, asking her to... “Come back.” 

In a split-second, she was brought back to the present. It felt liked being doused in cold hard water, effectively extinguishing the embers of rage inside her, waking her up instantly. 

“Allie” she whispered breathlessly. 

And in a fraction of a second, she felt Allie's hands reaching for her, pulling her in for a tight hug, her arms draping protectively around Bea. 

 


They were sitting in silence side by side on the bar stools against the kitchen island. After Bea had a, what Allie guessed was a panic attack, she ushered Bea to the kitchen to get her something to drink. That was a good twenty minutes ago, and Bea seemed more relaxed now and back to her normal color. 

Allie was holding her hand, tracing small circles on Bea's wrist to calm her, it always seemed to work on Bea, she thinks. 

"No one's been able to do that.. Pull me back.." Bea said finally, rubbing the temples of her forehead, already feeling the small pricks of pain, and would most probably be followed later by a head splitting headache after having an episode like this. 

"I wish I could take it all away, Bea." Allie gently remove Bea's hand and started massaging her forehead expertly as though she's done this to her a million times. 

"You shouldn't have to deal with this. I'm sorry." Bea apologised, feeling so guilty for involving Allie in her mess. 

Allie stopped her ministrations just so she could cup Bea's face and look straight at those dark brown orbs. "I want you Bea, all of you. I'm not running and I'm not letting you run away from this too."

"Okay?" she asked whilst caressing Bea's  face. 

Bea nodded in understanding, unable to use her voice in fear that she might start tearing up. 

The soft pinging of Bea's mobile phone reminded them that it was time for Bea to head back. 

"That's probably Debbie. I have to go." Bea stood up and held a hand out for Allie to take so she could come down from the stool safely. 

"Will you be okay to ride the bike? I'm worried." she asked while fixing the collar of Bea's shirt. 

"I'm okay now, I promise. Thank you, you keep saving me." she said sheepishly. 

"Well you saved me first, your house remember?" already walking halfway out the kitchen. 

How can I forget? Bea silently mused and followed Allie out. 

 

Allie was already by the door retrieving Bea's jacket. 

Walking out of the kitchen, Bea noticed that the top cover for the other box was still on the floor so she quickly picked it up and made her way to the opened box. 

She noticed that the box had the logo of NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on the side and when she peered inside, there were a bunch of items stored in zip locked bags, including a fancy looking green ornament.

Maybe next time. She said to herself, making a mental note to ask Allie about it in another time. 

"Come here." Allie softly called out to Bea, holding up her biker jacket. 

It was Allie's turn to fuss over Bea. She helped put her jacket on and quickly zipped it up, caressing Bea's collar bone softly before letting go, making the redhead smile.

She handed Bea the backpack and the full face helmet and walked her to the door. 

"Can I see you again, tomorrow?" Bea asked tentatively. She wanted to make sure if Allie really meant what she said, that she still want this even after seeing her like that. Bea was giving her a chance to change her mind. 

"Only if I see you first." the blonde said cheekily, winking at the shy redhead because maybe she notice the change in Bea's voice and wanted to reassure her too that nothing has changed. 

Closing the small distance between then, she softly kissed the corner of Bea's lips, the left side first and then the right, lingering a little before finally letting go. 

After saying their goodbyes, Bea was slowly making her way down the stairs when she remembered something that Allie said. 

"I didn't say it back." She spat out. She needs to know. She stopped and quickly made her way back to Allie's flat. 

She knocked on Allie's door, a little too loud than anticipated. After a few seconds, Allie hurriedly opened the door, clearly surprised that Bea came back. 

Seeing the confusion etched on the blonde's face, Bea let's out a nervous sigh. 

"I want you too, Allie." and out of impulse, Bea dropped the backpack and helmet on the floor and lunged forward, capturing Allie's lips in a searing kiss.  

When Allie realize what was happening, she wrapped her hands around Bea's neck, tilted a little and surrendered completely to Bea's hungry mouth.

They broke apart only when the burning of their lungs urged them to, panting heavily, taking in some much needed oxygen into their system because the kiss quite literally knocked the air out of their lungs. 

"Bea.. babe.." Allie whispered breathlessly, her forehead resting on Bea's shoulder. 

"Too much?" she heard Bea ask, suddenly unsure. 

Allie raised her eyes to meet Bea's deep set ones. "It's perfect."

Chapter Text

Chapter 24
Double Down 

 

Allie woke up feeling like a million bucks. That rare phenomena when a person opens their eyes and they are just genuinely energized and the universe is weirdly hinting that everything is right with the world, Allie's exactly that today.

She was up long before her alarm sets off and that every day morning grogginess that prompts her to hit the snooze button on her phone was just not there today.

Allie felt absolutely amazing. There’s an extra sway in her hips, a new beat in her step, every song playing is all about her and when she looked outside the window, the sun’s shining brightly, the air seems incredibly fresh and she’s feeling more alive than she’d ever been in her whole life.

Her shower was a quick early morning concert, belting out a musical mashup of Beyonce’s, Lady Gaga’s and Rihanna’s bops and simply letting it out. Sharp, flat, out of tune, it doesn’t really matter and the acoustics of the bathroom tiles provided her the needed bass and texture making her voice sound rather powerful. 

After showering, Allie put on one of her go-to office get-up, a black turtleneck tucked in a gray micro plaid ankle-length slim pants pairing it gorgeously with nude pumps to complete the ensemble. She looked at the mirror and felt a little proud for pulling off this look. 

Even her crazy blonde mane was cooperating today, that daily battle to style it making it look like it wasn’t hit by a raging tsunami was easily won by Allie without the hairbrush putting much of a fight.  

Leaving her flat, she hears the morning routine Zumba track blaring from five doors down the hallway and she seemed pleased with the beat, bobbing her head a few times even breaking in to a 1-2 step slide move when she passed by Zumba Sally’s door. Allie’s all smiles and simply feeling her oats today.

Maybe Allie was just having one of those days where she feels really good. Her giddy and upbeat mood was not caused by having a wonderful time spent with Bea and a kiss that ended the night, that same kiss that she could still feel from every nerve endings on her body, shaking her to the core and was still slightly experiencing the aftershocks until now. Nope, not that at all. Absolutely not.
 
Stepping out of the street, she puts her earbuds on and started listening to a new playlist, a 80s rock band who happens to be the redheads’ favourite artist she mentioned en passing last night. For research, she tells herself. There’s no better time to expand your music genre game but now.
 
The music starts with the soft tunes of the piano playing, the melody seems familiar, but she hardly knows the lyrics. 

I hear the ticking of the clock, I’m lying here the room’s pitch dark. 

By the time she reached the small bakery around the corner – Allie’s first stop for that morning, she’s already picked up a few lines to the song.

Til now, I always got by on my own, I never really cared until I met you.

After securing the half dozen deep fried Mars bars, for a particular witty curly head teen with a sweet tooth, she stepped out of the shop swiftly, heading to the next stop. 

HOW DO I GET YOU ALONE?” She belts out the chorus at the top of her lungs in the middle of the almost empty street, startling a passing jogger with her musical chops, or lack thereof.

After mouthing her apologies to the now laughing morning jogger, she continued her journey a few shops down. Laughing at her own antics and not even remotely bothered by it. 

“You are playing on repeat then” she tells herself as she simultaneously set up the controls.  

She picked-up the flowers that she had purchased online the night before, a bouquet of long stemmed white roses with accents of eucalyptus greens set on a lush glass cylinder vase, the gorgeous color palette complementing each other beautifully, particularly choosing this one as a reminder of that first time that they met, because she’s a softie that way. 

After scribbling a note and tucking it with the flowers, she hails a cab to reach Bea’s hotel to drop off her little something for Debbie and that small token of appreciation for Bea, before she finally starts her day at work.
 
Knowing that today will most definitely be hectic, anticipating another creative pushback from Tina or Doreen today at the writers’ room and supervising production later in the afternoon, Allie wanted to make time for Bea before everything else.  She just wants to make Bea feel special like the way the redhead kept making her feel since they met.   

 


A few blocks away, Bea woke up with an upbeat music ringing on her ears. She squinted her eyes, slowly regaining consciousness as the music from her daughter’s room was getting louder and louder.

Looking for you babe, looking for you babe, searching for you babe!

Babe. That word again. That word that Allie called her last night after they kissed. It was perfect in every sense of the word and somehow with the music blaring from Debbie’s room, it was making her heart leap wildly inside her chest and in an instant, she was up on her feet, doing a little funny dance, swaying her hips side to side in sync with the beat as she heads towards Debbie’s room. 

Knocking on Debbie’s door, she opened it slowly and saw her daughter dancing along to the music. She waved at her mom, inviting her to join in.

Bea leaned on the frame of the door, chuckling softly at her daughter’s crazy moves.  

After adjusting the volume of her phone, she shuffled towards her mom. 

“Was it too loud, mum? Sorry, did I wake you?” she asked sheepishly

“It’s okay sweetheart, you’re up early?” her eyes wandering at the messy state of Debbie's room, the laptop on the floor with all her camera gears, spare batteries and chargers by her dresser, lenses on her side drawer along with her tripods and cords.. just cords everywhere. 

“Sorry for my room mum, I'll put them away. I’m doing some editing today and if I finish early, maybe I could invite some friends over to hangout here mum? Carly, Shane and my new friends, Mon, Dana and Lee?”

“You girls hit it off then?”

“Yup, they’re totes chill mum! Mon’s like two years older than me and Carly. Dana and Lee are, I think twenty six or twenty seven. There’s another girl in the shop with them but I haven’t met her yet.”  

“You gonna be alright by yourself here this morning?” 

“Totally. Goodluck on your meetings mum.”

“Okay, just call me if you want me to bring snacks later, sweetheart. Just get room service for the rest.”

"You're the best mum! Thank you!" kissing her mum on the cheek and then crashing back to bed. 

Bea was half way out when she remembered what she really wanted to ask Debbie. “I was just wondering, is this Beyonce?” 
 
“It’s Rihanna mum.” She answered nonchalantly.

“Oh yeah, that’s right.” Bea nodding thoughtfully.

“Okay then, I’m hitting the showers.”

“Okay, mum.” Debbie answered without looking up from her phone.

Bea quickly closed Debbie’s door, but half a second later, she opened it again, this time catching the attention of Debbie, who’s now curiously eyeing her mum’s odd behavior.

“Would you mind if we dock your phone here at the hallway?” she gestured with her thumb.

“But that would play the music in all rooms of this suite.”

“In the bath too right?”

“Yup. You really like this song mum?” standing up from the bed, taking her phone with her to do what her mum ask. 

Bea’s particularly great mood this morning wasn’t left unnoticed by her exceptionally perceptive daughter who opted to hold her tongue not wanting to jinx it for her mother.   
 
“Thank you, baby! Can you put that on repeat?” kissing her daughter’s head as Debbie passed her on the door. 


Halfway through Bea’s shower, the intercom started ringing. Debbie rushed to the living area and answered the call on it’s fifth ring. Talking to the concierge on the line for about two-minutes she hung up and hurriedly went to her mum’s bathroom door. 

Where have you been all my life? All my liiiiiifeee!” Debbie was chuckling softly after hearing her mum on the other side, belting out Rihanna’s words. It almost made her feel guilty for interrupting her mom’s mini-concert. 

“Mum! I’m heading down, there’s a package waiting for me, I’m just going to get it, okay!” she yelled through the closed door.

“Sure Deb, don’t forget you key card!” Bea answered from the other side and continued singing along to the music.

It was a short descend towards the lobby and in no time, Debbie reached the reception where Becky, the petite blonde concierge was already waiting for her with two heavy-looking white document pouches on hand. 

Becky handed the package to Debbie with a wide smile and Debbie was just a nervous wreck, her hands shaking a little as she accepted the two pouches and based on the logo on the envelopes, it was the documents that she had been expecting; one from the University of Sydney and the other from the University of Melbourne.

“I think you got in, Miss Debbie” Becky encouraged the young girl. 

“No way?” she replied nervously, her free hand covering her shocked face. 

Giving Becky a high five, she took both the large packets and instead of heading straight up to their suite, she plopped down hastily on one of the couches on the lounge and started opening the envelope. 
 
After confirming that she got accepted on both universities, what she somewhat already predicted considering the size of the envelopes alone, she continued going through all the documents inside: admission packets, schedules and university handbooks. She was so engrossed at reading the pile that she didn’t notice a certain blonde writer at the reception, dropping off her gifts for both her and her mom. 

“Goodmorning! What can I do for you today?” Becky’s cheery voice asked, accommodating a potential guest, eyeing the bouquet of roses and the box of sweets on her hands. 

Allie placed the items on the desk, she started. “Can I-“ 

“Allie?” Debbie called from behind her.

She turned around only to be engulfed in tight hug by this adorable teen. “Deb!” 

“You’re up early, kiddo.” She asked ruffling Debbie’s wild curls, reminding her of a certain someone.  

“I have a cray sleeping schedule, timezone diff still messing with my sleep.” she said in a laugh.

“You’re here for mum?” she asked curiously. When she first noticed the blonde on the front desk, she was unsure if it really was her so she walked closer and when she heard her voice, she immediately called her out. 

“Well, sort of. I was actually just dropping this off for you and Bea and then head to work.” Allie was planning to do the whole ninja thing buy just dropping off the gifts but apparently, the universe had other plans. And now, she’s caught red-handed.

“Those are lovely Allie, mum’s totally gonna love that!” sporting a wide grin, gushing appreciatively at the beautiful bouquet that Allie was pointing at.

“You still have time?” Debbie asked, already tugging Allie’s hand. 

Allie checked her watch, it’s still a little over an hour before call time."Yeah, I think so. What do you have in mind?" 

"Great! You’re coming with me. Becky, she’s with us, okay? Already hauling Allie to the lifts, hollering at Becky on the front desk.

“Sure thing Miss Debbie. Have a good day!” Becky called out, waving them off. 

  
Inside the lift, Allie was clutching the roses nervously, the butterflies doing another dance cover inside her tummy, clearly celebrating the fact that in a few minutes she’ll see Bea again. It’s making her anxious by the second. 

Her nervousness was so apparent that Debbie had to step in. “Chill, Allie. Mum’s gonna be so surprised. She seemed super stoked today!”  

Her mouth curving into a wide smile, pleased that she's not the only one affected by last night's kiss. “Not one hundred percent sure if it’s related but... we had a great evening last night.” 

Debbie turned her head towards Allie, eyes wide, looking a bit shocked. “Oh god, Allie. I don’t want to know if you had... oh my god!

“Oh no no no... it’s not what you think! Oh shit!” Allie was in a slight panic, waving her hand up at Debbie, attempting to explain the miscommunication. 

And then she heard the soft chuckling beside her. 

“Geez, chill! You’re really on the edge! I’m just playin’, Allie” Debbie teased, her shoulders still shaking from laughter. 

Allie let's out a shaky breath. “Oh you little shit! Gave me heart attack there, did ya?”

Debbie was flashing her an adorable smile, making the peace sign with both her hands. 

Deciding to make Debbie pay for it, she cleared her throat and started. “Well, I guess these deep fried Mars bar which is a, what the kids call these days, insta-worthy dessert, would just have to go to the bin now.”

“W-what? You d-didn’t?” Debbie stuttered, eyeing the box that Allie was dangling in her hand.

“Mhm!” she answered smugly, winking at the now regretful teen. 

“No no no.. wait!” she pleaded, giving Allie her best puppy dog eyes making them both laugh instantly. 

Allie handed the box to the eager and very much grateful teen. "Thanks, Allie."

After the laughter eased up, Debbie wanted to breach a subject that she's been itching to talk about. 

“Uhm.. Allie…" she started nervously. 

"I think you’re cool and you helping me at the coffeeshop, I’ll forever be grateful for that." she continued with a shaky voice, avoiding Allie's confused eyes. 

"But mum, well she’s my mum and.. just.. don’t hurt her, okay? She’s all I got and...” she stopped abruptly, unable to continue as the tears are threatening to fall now. 

But Allie was quick on her feet and in no time, was completely facing the curly teen and giving her a reassuring shoulder squeeze. 
 
“Hey Debbie" she said softly, making Debbie finally look up, her eyes welling up, clearly fighting back the tears. 

"Your mom, when I’m with her, I just have this intense feeling inside... okay that didn’t sound as put together in my head. You’d think I don’t use words for a living." she rambled, making Debbie chuckle unexpectedly and instantly bringing the tense atmosphere back to normal. 

"But uhm I promise you, I’m not gonna hurt your mum. And I’m here for her, and for you, for as long as you both want me to.” she admitted with open candor, her eyes already misting as the tears are starting to form now too. 

In a split second, she felt Debbie hugging her tightly and she hugged the very protective teen back with the same warmth, if not more. 

“Thank you Allie and it’s okay, I get it. I defo know you’re not faking it cuz, it’s it your eyes. Just like mum’s.” she said, wiping the corner of the eyes and fixing herself just in time for the elevator doors to open, signalling that they have arrived on their floor. 

They were walking the short distance along the hallway when Debbie noticed the earbuds that Allie had on. She wondered briefly if this was in any way related to her mom's choice of music this morning. 

“Do you like Rihanna's music?” she asked, slowing down her steps. 

The question caught Allie off guard but answered straight away. “Absolutely. Rihanna, Beyonce, Lady Gaga. Those  of my jams.” 

“Figures.” she mumbled softly, starting to put two and two together. 

“Whacha listening to?” the curiosity was getting the better of her, pointing at Allie's earbuds. 

“Oh it's an 80s rock band, Heart.” she said shyly. Is Debbie on to something? She wondered. 

Of course it is! Her mom's favorite band. These two are just so adorably cute! Debbie silently mused, smiling devilishly at Allie. 

Stopping in front of their suite, she whispered to the blonde beside her. “Pro tip, mum secretly belts out to Alone and Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart.”  

Allie ruffled Debbie's messy curls as the teen swipes her key card on the door, amused and a little moved by the insider information that Debbie graciously shared. 


“GUESS WHAT MUM?” Debbie hollered from the living area but Bea barely heard her, as she was getting out of the shower. Forgetting to bring her bathrobe, she wrapped herself with a dry towel instead and heads out to check on Debbie before changing. 

“Everything alright, Deb?” she asked in a rough voice, checking her throat a little, she must have over extended her shower singing. 

“Oh!” Bea stopped on her tracks when she sees a smirking blonde beside her lovely daughter.

“Well good morning to me.. I mean, Bea. Good morning Bea!” she greeted a tad too excitedly, smiling smugly at Bea's scantily clad state, openly checking her out. 

“Allie!” She answered her shyly, a small flush slowly forming on her face and neck. 

Allie moved closer, carrying the bouquet of roses. “I wanted to drop this off for you.” 

Bea took the offered roses with one hand. “They are beautiful."

"Not as beautiful as you, Bea." she grinned, still looking dreamily at Bea. 

Allie leaned closer, whispering softly at Bea's ear. “You are making this EXTRA difficult, babe.”

Allies words were sending shivers down Bea's spine, jerking her shoulder a little and catching Allie's eyes travel from her eyes, down to her lips, and a swift glance on the exposed area of her chest and then back at her lips again. 

She can feel every part of her blushing and she can't do anything about it. 

Debbie's loud and deliberate grunt in the form of clearing her throat made them remember that they were in fact, not alone. 

“Uhm helllllloooo.. I’m still here, you guys.” chuckling at how the sight is both sweet and adorably cringy, as Bea is after all, her mom. 

"You know, me, Debbie, your current daughter" dramatically pointing at her mum. 

And then waving her hand at Allie's general direction. "And your.. future one.. I suppose.." 

"What?" they both said in chorus earning a thunderous laughter from this sneaky and witty teen. 

"Best reaction faces! I should have recorded that!" she exclaimed triumphantly, making fist pumps in the air, leaving the pair still stunned and rooted on the spot. 

Debbie stepped in and had to literally push her mom towards the bedroom. "We'll chop chop. Mum, make yourself decent. I’ll keep Allie company.”

“Sorry about that.” she said to Allie who was still dumbstruck at what transpired in the short amount of time. Was Debbie giving me her blessing? 

It was Bea's voice from the other room that brought her back. “Why don’t you two grab some breakfast in the lounge, I’ll be there shortly.” 

"Let's go, Allie." Debbie urged, swiping her phone from the dock and walked quickly to the door. 

 


Debbie was busy looking at her phone when Allie sat down beside her. The executive lounge was still empty save for the hotel staff manning the buffet table. 

"Do you know of a bar that me and my friends can check out here in the city?" Debbie asked as soon as Allie settled on her chair. 

"What do you have in mind?" Allie asked curiously. 

Bringing her chair closer to Allie, she answered. "Something just chill and not too fancy." 

"Why don't you check out this place I used to go to. It's on the corner of Queens Rd and Central Ave." Taking out her phone and searching for Angel's Cafe

"It's kinda a haven for the artsy type, they host gaming nights, retro film screening, acoustic nights and my personal favorite slam poetry night." she explained, scrolling through the site. 

"You perform spoken word poetry?" Debbie pressed, visibly hyped-up. 

"A few years back. It's an effective way to get everything out of your system, things that bother you or those that keeps lingering inside your head. Sometimes you just need to let it all out." remembering her fondest memory of performing on stage, smiling at the thought. 

"That’s so cool, Allie! Would love to see you perform again." Debbie beamed at the now fidgeting blonde. 

"Ahh it's been years kiddo, and I'm not that good." she said with a nervous laugh. 

"Nah. I think you're great, Al." giving Allie a thumbs up. 

The compliment surprised her, leaving her lost for words for a few moment. 

Finding her voice eventually, she nudged the distracted teen beside her. "Your foods getting cold." Indicating for her to start eating which Debbie happily complied. 

Debbie glanced at Allie and only noticed now that she got two plates and two coffees.

"For mum?" she asked already knowing the answer. 

"Mhm."

"Thank you, Allie!" squeezing Allie's hand appreciatively. 

"Mom takes care of everyone, she always does. She's just like that."

"But who takes care of her?" Allie thought out loud, concern etched on her face. 

You are asking all the right questions, Debbie silently mused. She genuinely cares for mum. 

"They're here!" Debbie exclaimed, looking behind Allie at the two figures approaching them. 

When Allie turned around, she was evanescently dazed and rendered speechless seeing Bea walking towards them. 

Her red curls cascading beautifully on her shoulders, wearing an all white suit that fits her perfectly, showing her sexy curves with a black dress shirt whose two top buttons were left undone, exposing a tiny peak of her cleavage and finishing the look with that hot black pumps with red soles. 

And suddenly, the air got steamier and hotter by the minute the moment that Bea's eyes locked with hers. 

"Allie, you dropped something." She heard Debbie say. 

"Huh?" she looked at the teen, confused. 

"Your jaw." She chuckled. Moment over. 

As Allie scrambled to stand up as she felt Bea hovering over her. 

And then in a split second, she felt Bea's lips on her cheek and whispered a soft "morning!" in her ear. 

The action stunned not only Allie but Debbie and Maxine who was standing behind her. 

"How about breakfast?" Bea announced effectively snapping everyone back from their temporary stupefied state. 

Bea took the seat beside Allie while Maxine headed for the buffet area to get food. 

"I uhm made you a plate." Allie pointed at the soft creamy scrambled eggs paired with fluffy hash browns, a few strips of tender bacon and a moist banana muffin, neatly placed in front of Bea, complete with a steaming hot cup of coffee. 

"Thank you" She whispered, her hand seeking Allie's, the small gesture moved her more than she'd care to admit. 

Breakfast was a delight, Allie finding herself feeding the hot redhead beside her. It was her turn to treat Bea as the cute baby that she is. She was secretly enjoying how Bea would always seem to fidget with Allie fingers, squeezing them softly and just having a grand time clutching Allie's free hand. 

Their antics wasn't lost on the two other people who was exchanging knowing looks at each other and was genuinely ecstatic that Bea has found someone as sweet and thoughtful as Allie. 

 

Shortly before finishing their breakfast, Debbie jumped to her feet, earning the attention of her mom, Allie and Maxine. 

"Okay fam, listen up! Announcements are in order!" she started, looking at the occupants of their table and eyeing also the other empty tables behind them. 

"As you know, I've been accepted to UNSW" she continued. 

"Are you sure I should be here? I don't want to intrude." Allie voiced her concern, not wanting to overstep her place. 

“You're family now Allie!” she said, flashing Allie her biggest smile. 

Allie was stunned to silence, Debbie's words tugging at her heart strings. To be part of a family, to be part of Bea's family, it used to be such a foreign concept to Allie. 

Bea must have noticed the change in Allie because the next thing Allie felt was Bea's hand holding her's tighter, Bea's warm breath tickling her ear as Bea whispered. “She's claimed you.“

"Today, I got accepted to both University of Sydney and University of Melbourne! So Aunt Maxi, grab Uncle Martin, mum grab your Allie. I'm grabbing Carly, we are going to Melbourne!" she announced proudly. 

Bea, Maxine and Allie were on their feet now, giving Debbie their warmest hugs and congratulations. 

"Okay hold your horses there, sweetheart, we'll plan this properly." Bea said finally, addressing the impromptu travel plans of her giddy daughter. 

"This is for next week, yes? Let's not put Allie and Maxine on the spot now, baby."

"Okay mum but if Allie can't join us in Melbourne, you should join us this Saturday, please?" she looked at Allie with those pleading eyes. 

"Alright, Saturday I can do kiddo. Where are we going?" agreeing almost immediately even though she's not sure what she's agreeing to. 

"It's a secret for now but it's gonna be fun."

 

After feasting on a heavy breakfast with Debbie and Allie out bantering each other with the jokes, Debbie said her goodbyes and headed straight to editing while the three went down to the lobby to wait for their ride. Since Bea and Maxine will be attending a number of meetings for two days all over Sydney, they opted to hire a driver to take them where they needed to be. 

Maxine took the seat in front while Allie and Bea were sitting comfortably at the back.

"Thank you, Allie, for the roses." she said unwittingly sliding closer to Allie. 

"Thank you for breakfast, I didn't expect to see you so soon after last night. This was a very pleasant surprise." Allie was looking, no, rather staring at Bea, still mesmerised by the hot red head's... well... everything. 

Allie reached for the collar of Bea's dress shirt, fixing the crooked fold. Her thumb deliberately caressing Bea's defined clavicle. "How’s your day going to be today? 

The soft caresses of Allie's hand on her collar bone was mildly sending warm tingling sensation all over Bea's body and she's starting to get a bit flushed. 

"We're uhm s-swamped with meetings for the next two days." she stuttered briefly, Allie’s light stroking virtually distracting her but gained her momentum eventually. 

"Our Hot Little Secret Season Two will premier on Saturday LA time, which is Sunday here. We've amped up our social media campaign, so we're partnering with a digital marketing agency for that."

"You're going all out for this, it's amazing." She gushed, her eyes still glued to the redhead.

"We started releasing the teaser clips and promo photos seven days ago, it's a bit of a countdown and we've upped our media engagement by a wide margin compared to our season one finale last year. Our team has been pulling all the stops, I'm very proud." She explained, blushing profusely now as Allie’s hand travelled from her collar bone to the side of her neck, gently caressing the back of her ear. 

“I could literally listen to you talk all day. You are so passionate about your work, it's inspiring really." Her eyes blazing with complete admiration.

Slowing down, the car stopped at the front entrance and Allie and Bea got out. After waving goodbye to Maxine, Bea walked Allie to the glass doors. 

Releasing Allie’s hand, she gave her warm smile. "Have a good day, yeah?" 

"You too, Bea. Knock 'em dead!" she winked at the beaming redhead, earning an amused eyeroll and slowly stepped back.

As Bea starts walking away, she felt Allie's hand reached for hers and when she turned her head back, Allie cupped her face and place a hot kiss on Bea's sexy mouth. 

"Now you can go."

 

Ten minutes before the designated call time, the sleek silver Bentley Continental GT pulled into the car park of GMA Network. Seeing from a distance that another car was blocking the entry, Derek was about to hit the horn button impatiently when Allie came out of the vehicle followed shortly by a familiar redhead.  

“Bea Smith?” he muttered under his breath, his eyes never leaving the two, like a predator stalking his prey and when Allie kissed the redhead, he immediately took out his phone and dialled straightaway. 

The call was answered after only two rings. “We have a problem.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 25
Three Card Monte

“Do you regret it?” Bea asked calmly, leaning forward to rest her elbows on the table, her eyes looking directly at the smirking inmate across her, seemed to be amused, as though the question was as easy as asking what’s your favourite color?

For a short moment, the entire library at Wentworth Women’s Correctional, fell eerily quiet, only the steady breaths of the individuals occupying the room can be heard. The library was cleared out this late afternoon, the newly appointed Governor made sure than Bea and her small crew can move quickly in various areas on the facility in order to shoot the needed footage for the documentary. 

“I reckon I should be sayin’ that I feel sorry but...” she scoffed  

“The fucker deserved every inch of bashing he got!” she spat out with conviction, sniggering a little but her eyes remained focused, unnerved.

And Bea saw it too, the way Kaz would mask her anger with an odd laugh, she’d spent enough time with Kaz to know when she’s horsing around or deadly serious.  

She looked beside her where Franky was operating the camera and she gestured to pause the filming in which Franky readily complied.

Bea turned her head back to Kaz. “I respect your honesty, Kaz.”

“But I’m not sitting idly by and let you incriminate yourself on record. That would definitely hurt your chances of appeal, and as much as I respect raw, honest storytelling, I’m not leveraging your life, your freedom to be sensational. I want you all free, Kaz.” She said in all honesty, hoping that the message gets through.

“Freedom is a luxury that I can’t afford, Bea.” She plucked at the cuff of her teal jumper, avoiding Bea’s intense stare.

Kaz abruptly jumped to her feet and walked towards the window. 

Looking out, she let's out a heavy huff. “The game’s rigged. When the system protects men who gets their rocks off in beating their wives to a pulp and offers his underage daughter to perverted old politicians while the women who bashed him up in the name of justice were left to rot in prison, that’s when you know you’ll never win.

Bea was on her feet to, slowly making her way around the table, and pulled back the chair that Kaz was previously occupying, urging her to come back. “But you need to try... for your girls.”

Kaz stared silently at Bea, seemed to be contemplating on her words and finally, nodded in understanding. 

She hesitated, turned and then slowly made her way back. “Let’s start again.”


After spending another hour in the library and attending their final meeting with the Governor, Bea finally wrapped up production and instructed her filming crew to start hauling their equipment out of the prison premises. Halfway through pack up, a worried looking Simmo pulled Bea aside and handed her phone.

“Bea, Malcolm’s on the line. It’s about..” she said nervously.

“Harry!” Bea spat out, somehow knowing that this can’t be good. 

She took the phone quickly. On the other line, Malcolm’s voice was frantic, clearly in a panic. “Bea! Harry’s.. well, he’s in a bender and I tried stopping him but you know how he is.”

“Where are you? Where is he?” Bea was practically pleading. 

“Bondi Junction Station.”

“Stay there, I’m coming.” She hung up and quickly gave Simmo her phone back. 

By this time, Franky, Maxine and Boomer were already huddled with Simmo, their faces etched with worry and concern for their friend and boss.
 
“I’m coming with you!” Franky insisted, handing the camera gimbal to Boomer that she was disassembling midway. 

But Bea dismissed her almost immediately. “No, Franky.. He’ll be..”

“Agro..” Franky finished the sentence for her, the anger brimming in her voice.

“How many times have I asked you to leave that fucker? If he hits you, Red, I swear to god!” she was on a full on rant now, her temper’s rising. If it wasn’t for Maxine nudging her side, she wouldn’t have stopped. 

“Not the time, Franky.” Maxine warned, glaring first at Franky and then looking apologetically at Bea but Bea was no longer there, physically present but mentally, she’s bracing herself for whatever trouble Harry has gotten himself into.
 
“I have to go.” 

 

The underground platform was eerily quiet and almost deserted. Bea looked at her watch, nearly closing time which could explain the absence of commuters on such a typically busy station. 

As Bea got off the escalator, she could already hear Harry's loud and angry voice booming from the platform. 

“Fuck off, mate! I’m not fucking drunk!” He slurred, attempting to shove Malcolm out of the way. 

There were a handful of commuters waiting for the train, all of them casually checking out the commotion on the far end. Not wanting to get in the way but also alert just in case things escalate. 

Bea rushed to Malcolm's side, seeing Harry in his messy drunken stupor. 

“Let’s go Harry, we have an early flight tomorrow.” she pleaded, her voice shaky but she's trying to maintain her composure. 

"BEA!!!! MY FUCKING WIFE!!! MY WIFE!!! Harry yelled, stumbling to get closer but Malcolm stopped him. 

"WHAT THE FUCK?! SHE'S MINE ASSHOLE! STAY IN YOUR FUCKING LANE, MATE!" he spat angrily shoving Malcolm to the side. 

"Just go, Malcolm. I can handle this." Bea insisted, knowing Harry's jealous streak, he's bound to pick up a fight, it doesn't matter if he's wrong or right. 

Malcolm, hesitated at first but seeing Harry's fiery glare, he took off, shaking his head as he walked away. 

Harry grabbed Bea by the wrist, squeezing it tighter as he dragged Bea towards the edge of the platform. 

It was so tight that Bea had to plead for Harry to let go. 

“Why won’t you hold my fucking hand?” Are you ashamed of me?” He snapped, gripping Bea's hand tighter. 

The loud rumbling noise of the incoming train followed by the sharp pitch of the train brakes as it slowed down, muffled Harry's angry rant. 

He paused just long enough to let the passengers hop off the train and head to the lifts, while those waiting on the platform, stepped hurriedly on to the train. 

When the train finally left the station, Harry grabbed Bea's face. “Are you fucking ashamed of me, is that it?” 

He let Bea go, roughly. Suddenly disgusted at her face. “Cause you’re a big shot now, is that right.”

Bea stumbled back, holding her jaw were Harry gripped it seconds ago. “Harry.. I didn't say” she mumbled.

“Stop fucking lying to me!” He screamed, pointing his index finger at Bea, accusingly. 

“You want to leave with Malcolm is that it? You think he’s a better man than me, did you fuck him?” He was charging at Bea now, while the frightened redhead keep stepping back.

He was spewing one shitty thing after another. “Or that dyke friend of yours, huh?

“Don’t you dare bring Franky into this!” Bea hissed, abruptly stopping her steps. He can take a shot at her for all she cares but her friends are innocent in all this.  

“Ohhh touchy for that dykie huh Bea?” He taunted, a nasty grin spreading wide on his ugly mug.  

Wanting to get a rise out of Bea even more, he continued goading her. “Or how about that freak of nature assistant of yours? Fucking tranny! Fucking disgusting! That’s what IT is! Tell me Bea, what hangs between IT’s legs, huh?!? I bet that freak sucks his own...”

SMACK! It took a while before Bea realized what she’d done. 

The next thing she saw was Harry’s drunken ass sprawled on the ground, his face red, his nose bleeding from the impact of her fist connecting with his face. He’s still conscious, grunting angrily while his hands held his jaw and nose. 

Bea was looking at her right hand now. It was uncontrollably shaking and bleeding profusely, the same hand that was still healing from Harry’s rage a little over a year ago. 
 
“You fucking bitch! You think you can hit me? Fuck you, you’re nothing!” His rage was rushing through him. 

Bea wanted to run, get away from Harry as fast as she can but she fell immobile, frozen on the spot and now she’s trapped, fearing yet again for her life. 

Harry jumped to his feet and roughly grabbed Bea by the hair and dragged her away from the edge of the platform. “You’ve done it now, bitch!”

“You think you can hit me? I fucking own you!” Bea was still struggling to break free from Harry’s deathly grip. She was kicking, screaming, hitting Harry’s hand with both of her own, but Harry was strong and when his rage takes over, he’s an absolute monster.

Harry continued to drag Bea by the hair towards the maintenance closet, his other hand was quickly unbuckling his belt, already planning to establish his dominance over his wife against her will.

"No! Harry! No! Please!" Bea was hysterical, releasing a terrified scream, her nails digging deeply into Harry’s hand.  

With much difficulty, twisting her body whilst grasping for air, Bea managed to kick Harry on the side of his knee, effectively releasing his hold on Bea. 

She took this chance to make a run for it, but at the last second, Harry yanked her arm and shoved her head on the wall with a loud thump. 

Bea could feel the blood on her face, the strike causing a cut on her temple and just above her eye. 

The image of a bleeding Bea must have snapped Harry from his rage, making him abruptly stop. 

Taking advantage of Harry’s distracted state, with a blurry vision and bleeding face, she quickly took shelter inside the maintenance closet and locked herself inside. She barricaded the door with heavy boxes to prevent Harry from coming in. 

Harry was banging the door now, his voice less aggressive, almost pleading.

"Open up, Bea! I'm sorry I didn't mean it!" 

"Come out, let's talk!" he urged some more.

"Bea! Bea! Bea! You fucking bitch! Open up!" he kept shouting, the rage of his voice starting to build up. 

But Bea's vision was blurry now and slowly everything went black.


"Bea, what do you think?"  Maxine's voice bringing her back in the middle of a strat meeting with her marketing team, pitching a campaign plan and possible location shoot for the finale. 

"Why Bondi Junction Station again? Why this specifically? Bea asked, finally finding her voice.

When their content strategist pitched Bondi Junction Station, it triggered a horrible memory of this particular station. She hasn't been back there since it happened and never entertained the possibility that she ever will. 

"Logistics-wise, it makes more sense to film in an underground platform. We have better control of light sources, ambient noise and ease in securing the perimeter and staging area. Bondi Junction’s facade has recently been refurbished and upgraded. The city’s doubling on their tourism campaign and they want this station to be mentioned and highlighted, they were willing to cut the cost by half.” One of the senior team member explained with a hint of pride in his voice. 

“Hmm. Other locations at play?” Bea asked without looking up, her eyes glued at the report on her hand.

“An empty train station in Istanbul, island-platform and well maintained. We could get the entire train station and utilize the train cabins, move them from one station and back with half the production cost as well and greater coverage. We could film at anytime of the day and night, while here in Sydney, we can only film from after midnight until five in the morning.” A junior creative spoke up from the far end, her voice small and a little shaky.

“Hmm. I’m more inclined to take the Istanbul location but pitch another two more. For now, let’s take a breather, yeah? One hour! Bea stood up smoothly and walked out of the conference room followed closely by Maxine. 

It has been a brutal two days of back to back meetings, appearances and conferences with network executives, production heads, marketing teams and strategist and considering the time frame that they've scheduled before taking this much needed vacation, Bea is glad that they are still ahead of schedule allowing a little leg room to thoroughly evaluate an option and not be pressured to decide half-assed. 

They headed to the boutique cafe across the building for some peace and quiet while they take their late lunch. After confirming their names to the maitre d’, they were comfortably settled on their seat and ordered almost immediately. While waiting for their food, Maxine excused herself for a while to make a phonecall while Bea was left alone with her thoughts. 

Her right hand was hurting a little, must be cold she thinks. She was clenching her fist, trying to shake off the ache. She remembers how much this hand had endured over the years, how it became an instrument of creating beautiful works and at the same time how it could be a machine of violence, inflicting and a recipient.

She regrets mostly how it can no longer hold a pen or a brush for longer periods of time without feeling pain or discomfort. A constant reminder of everything she lost, everything she had to give up and walked away from, everything she sacrificed, of everything that was Harry. 

And then there was Allie, how everything about her exudes light in her otherwise dark world, how she brings color and beauty to the grey and chaotic corners of her mind, how calm she is when she’s around, how she feels safe in her arms, how her hands seemed to perfectly fit hers, her soft caress glues the broken pieces of her heart, how her lips heals the barely visible scars in her hands. 

She clenched her hand again, open and close, it’s not hurting anymore but it still feels a little damage somehow. She quickly jammed her hand in the side pocket of her suit pants, wanting to bury the memory again but there was something inside and when she pulled it out, it was Allie’s note.

The same note that was tucked with the bouquet of white roses that she gave yesterday, and that Bea hurriedly snagged before leaving this morning, hoping that it will make her miss Allie less.

It’s been a solid twenty nine hours since she walked her to the studio doors where Allie kissed her ever so tenderly and she’s feeling a little off not seeing her for this long.

Her hand instinctively tracing her lower lip, remembering Allie’s lips on hers. The corner of her mouth quirking up almost immediately. 

She read the words carefully.

Just in case I can’t say it today, I want you in every way.

And eventhough Allie is miles away from her right now, somehow, she could hear Allie whispering the sweet words to her as if she’s actually beside Bea, turning her face into all shades of red. 

She turned the note around, and to Bea’s surprise, there’s also Allie’s writing there.

I bet you’re blushing again, would have loved to see it. xxx Allie

And before she realized it, Bea was full on laughing now. Cheeky, she thinks.

After a few minutes, Maxine came back with some news. 

“Matt Fletcher’s a dead end. My contacts can’t seem to find him.” She said as took her seat across from Bea.     

“It’s alright. I’ll find a way.” She said softly, her mind still not registering the weight of Maxine’s words, she’s still lost in everything Allie.

Seeing the different twinkle in her boss’ eyes, she dared to ask what’s been niggling at her since yesterday. 

“Are we really not talking about that kiss, cause I distinctively saw a certain blonde kiss a certain redhead just before she was about to leave yesterday. Or my eyes were just playing tricks on me?”

“Oh yeah.. that..” She said sheepishly, her face turning scarlet again.

“Debbie seems to love her, and I think it’s not just little Deb.” Maxine spoke softly, punctuating every word. Calmly observing Bea’s reaction on the semantics.   

“Love?” She blew out her cheeks.  

“It’s too soon for that... too soon.. too soon, I think. Yup.. it’s too soon for that.. too fucking soon. It’s just too soon. I think it’s too soon.” She rambled, raking her fingers through her hair with more gusto than normal.

Maxine cleared her throat. “Seven?”

She looked at Maxine, confused. “Seven what?”

“You said too soon seven times, Bea. Are you trying to convince me? Cause I heard you the first time.” Maxine chuckled making Bea laugh at the realization too.

“Piss off, you know what I mean.”

 

 


After another excruciating round of meetings, finally it was time for Maxine and Bea to call it a night. Their driver dropped Maxine off at Martin’s first and instead of heading back to the hotel, she gave another address to the driver. 

Dropping her off outside this suburban elegant looking house, she instructed the driver to head home and then walked the small steps towards the main door.

The wooden doors flew open even before Bea reached the first step of the patio.  When she looked up, she was greeted with a warm smile.

“Bea?” the woman asked in a tentative voice.

“Simmo?” Bea said finally, smiling at her old friend.

“Never thought I’d see you again. Come in, Bea, please.”

 

Simmo lead Bea to the kitchen where they could finally have that long overdue talk preferably over a few cups of coffee. 

Bea sat on the stool near the kitchen island counter while Simmo fixed both of them a cup. After handing Bea her coffee, it was Simmo who broke the silence first.

“Thank you for not taking away Debbie from Carly. It took her a long time to forgive me for siding with her father, not sure she’ll ever forgive me if that decision caused her to lose her best friend too.” She said apologetically, her head hung low, her eyes in tears now. 

“They’re innocent in all this, I couldn’t do that to the kids.” She huffed, leaning a little on the counter. 
  
“Malcolm... He can be very persuasive. You were always so put together, Bea. You had a steady career, Debbie was doing well too. I couldn’t reconcile it with the thought that Harry would be...”

“Abusive.” Bea finished the sentence for her. There really was no other word to describe the monster that is Harry.

“I’m so so sorry, Bea. I wish I could turn back the clock. I should have been there for you and Debbie. It took almost losing my daughter for me to divorce him finally. Said she’ll pack her backs and fly to LA if I don’t leave the lying, cheating bastard.” She confessed, ashamed for allowing Malcolm to poison her judgment about Bea. Until now, betraying Bea was her deepest regret. 

And Bea had every right to doubt Simmo's sincerity and would probably be having a hard time accepting her apologies if not for the help of both their daughters who’s been trying to rebuild the bridge of communication between them for all these years. 

“It’s in the past now.” She said with her entire chest. Another good that came out of her therapy a while back was going in depth in dealing with betrayal and her automatic response over it. 

It took her sometime to realize and finally understand that it takes conscious effort to hold a grudge and frankly, she’s too tired and too exhausted to keep letting her past anchor her down, drag her to the ground and allow it to occupy anymore space in her mind and her heart.

“MUM! WE'RE HOME!!!” Carly’s high pitch voice startled them both, making them look towards the direction of the living room.
 
“Kitchen, darling.” Simmo hollered back, looking at Bea now smiling too.

After a few seconds Carly came barrelling towards them, followed closely by Debbie but stopped mid-walk when she saw who her mom was talking to.  Both wide eyed and wearing a shocked look on their faces. 

“Deb, do my eyes deceive me?” Carly shrieked covering her mouth with both of her hands. 

She tilted her head to the left “My mum? and then to the right “Your mum?” 

She placed her hands on her chest, full on theatrics now. “In the same room? Breathing the same air? Have we stepped on an alternate universe?” 

She reached for Debbie’s hand who was still sniggering beside her. “Who am I? Where am I? Hold my hand, Deb, there’s something going on!” 

And in a split second, the peaceful vibe in the kitchen was filled with the roaring laughter of all four. 

“Okay, drama queen, we hear you!” Simmo said still half way laughing, gesturing with her hand for Carly and Debbie to join them.

“It’s like I’m seeing double!” Bea was cackling too, opening her arms for Debbie, anticipating Debbie’s warm hug. 


They spent a nice dinner together just catching up. Debbie and Carly were on high alert, expecting some form of showdown of sorts, either Bea would flare out or Simmo would say something triggering but contrary to their expectations, Bea and Simmo felt comfortable with each other, exchanging stories as if they’ve never had a falling out to begin with.


After dinner, Carly and Debbie retreated upstairs to give their moms some privacy while Simmo and Bea moved to the living room.

“Derek Channing?” Simmo huffed, handing Bea a fresh cold beer.

“Piece of shit, if you ask me. A few years ago there was a number of complaints circulating around, a staff writer and a rookie actress that he blackmailed, promising to give their big break or something but both miraculously left the country, the press is staying mum in all this. Must have strong connections for him to sweep this under the rug.“ she continued while settling on the couch across Bea. 

“Why go after Erica Davidson then? I just can’t put two and two together.” She asked taking a huge swig at her beer.

“And then they replace Erica with Joan Ferguson.” She continued, her mind just itching to piece this mystery that Franky caught herself in.

Taking a gulp of her own beer, Simmo was clearly baffled by the move too. “Ferguson? Do they want their show to tank? For fuck’s sake!” 

“As far as I know, Inmate’s doing great and Jacs is royally pissed. Wanted us to develop a show that would go head to head with Inmates during their season one debut. Cost of production was huge. If you ask me, it was an over reaction. Sure the show is making headlines and generating big numbers but only for that time slot, the analytics from McCann Erickson clearly show that CBN still holds a huge chunk of both the audience and market share.” She narrated, recalling that she was offered to be an EP for a show that would face off with Inmates a while back.

“Derek’s been having late night meetings with Jacs, think he’d jump ship?”       

“Nah. The last thing this network needs is a problematic Showrunner, Bea. The optics alone would be a total nightmare for that fucker.”

“There’s something not clicking here, I just can’t put my finger on it.” Bea reached for her nape, the strain of not being able to piece it all together is getting at her.

Simmo stood up and pat Bea’s shoulder. “If it bothers you that much, let me do a little digging, yeah? It’s the least I can do, Bea.”

Seeing that Bea’s beer is almost empty, she made a quick run to the kitchen to get another fresh batch.

“Do you know whatever happen to Matt Fletcher?” Bea hollered from the living room. She wondered briefly if Simmo has worked with Matt. Maybe she would be able to solve another mystery, involving Allie this time.
 
“Showrunner for Murder and Hairdressing, that Matt Fletcher?” Simmo confirming if that’s the same person that Bea is asking about.

Taking the offered fresh beer, Bea continued. “Yeah. Exactly. I’ve been trying to get a hold of him but my team can’t reach him.” 

“There’s a rumor.” Simmo started while taking her place back at the couch.

“Matt was the creator and EP for Murder and Hairdressing, since he didn’t sell his rights over the show when GMA developed it, he peddled season three to you guys at ABS for an international release but pulled out last minute because Jacs offered him something better with us at GMA.”

Bea’s hunch was spot on. She had a feeling that there’s more to it than what the Showrunner told his writers, including Allie. “So what happened? Why is season three not in production then?”   

“Don’t know either. Matt flew out of the country and M&H remain shelved in development.” 

 

It was thirty minutes before eight when Bea decides to head back to the hotel. Debbie will be staying the night as the kids will be having a beach day Friday with their friends at the crack of dawn.

 

The cab ride was a short one, after fifteen minutes she was near the hotel when a message from her phone chimed in. She read it quickly.

Franky
It’s showday tonight at 8. Blondie wrote this episode. Just so you know. 

After sending a thank you to Franky and telling her that they need to talk soon, she typed another message, read it carefully and then hit send. 

Is it fair for me to say that this episode is already my favorite of the season?


After less than a minute, her phone pinged indicating a reply. Quickly paying the driver and telling him to have a good night, she got out and walked the short distance towards the hotel doors, reading the message as she does.

Allie
It hasn't even started yet.

She stopped walking in order to send a reply. 

I know. I stand by what I said. Probably, top three, at least.

Half a second later, her phone started ringing. Allie's name flashing in bright white. 

She accepted the call and in no time, she could hear Allie’s sweet voice on the other line. "Sounds to me like you got it bad for the writer of this episode."

Bea chuckled. "I am neither confirming or denying anything."

She continued walking whilst Allie was still on the other line. "How about you watch it with me? Just in case you need some points of clarification." 

By the time she reached the glass doors, the doorman mouthed a greeting in which Bea nodded her curtsy. "Good call. I can come over."

As she entered the huge lobby, she noticed a blonde woman stand up from one of the couch and slowly made her way towards her. And as she does, Bea could feel her heart beating wildly in her chest and when her eyes finally registered her face, her mouth curved into a wide smile at the unexpected visitor. 

"Hi!" Allie said with a warm smile, winking at the now blushing redhead. 

"H-hi!" she answered breathily, unable to control the butterflies on her tummy.  

She reached for Allie’s hand and jerked her head in the direction of the lifts. "Shall we?"

Chapter Text

Chapter 26
This Is How We Unravel

Straight for the jugular. 

A familiar line used often enough by Bea Smith’s characters in most of her creations. A line meant to deliver, literally or figuratively a pre-emptive attack that is so fatal, it completely devastates the enemy, rendering them completely defenseless. 

Almost always, it was a calculated decision to include this line in all her works. An easter egg of sorts and Bea remembers them all so well. Those specific scenes from her creations where this line was flawlessly delivered by their actors. 

Like in season 4 episode 8 of Not The Monster They Made Me Out To Be, when pro-fencer turned serial killer Carmela, pressed a blunt dagger at the neck of her young apprentice. "Straight for the jugular.” she instructed expertly to her nervous ward.

Or in season 2 episode 6 of I Am No Victim, when defense attorney Tamika, consulted her client for the trial of her life, on how hard should she destroy the witness' credibility on the stand. The defendant’s quick response a few seconds before the bailiff asked them to all rise was simply, “Go straight for the jugular.”

And lastly, in season 1 episode 3 of Our Hot Little Secret, when forensic pathologist Eve was studying a signature modus operandi of an unknown assailant, where the victims all sustained fatal incisions in the neck inflicted by a sharp object which explains the severed wind pipes, possibly gargling on their own blood leading to unconsciousness and eventual death or to put it bluntly, “She went straight for the jugular.”
 
It’s an effective line, a powerful combination of words, loaded with enough grit and packed with fierceness to communicate the precisely emotion of the scene – Go in for the kill.

But tonight though, as Bea and Allie stood side by side inside the lift, Bea found herself repeating the words over and over in her mind.

Her head turned to the side, looking at Allie’s features, her eyes drawn to the smooth, milky skin under Allie’s jaw.    

Why is Allie looking so good tonight? She wondered, unexplainably fascinated at Allie's tempting neck. Well, Allie always looks beautiful anyway. No brainer there.

Allie was stretching her neck a little, her free hand reaching for her nape and in one swift motion, pulled her blonde mane on one side, exposing her long beautiful neck. Her eyes still looking ahead.

Why is her neck.. so.. damn.. sexy? Bea silently mused, her eyes still hypnotized by the flawless grace of the beautiful blonde beside her. 

Sexy? Fuck! How much did I drink tonight? she censured herself, mentally counting the amount of beer she consumed earlier. 

Two at dinner. Check. 

Two at the living area. Check. 

One for the road. Check. 

That explains the warm buzz but damn, Allie's neck looks so… hot.
 
Her eyes still fixated on Allie’s throat. Not with a murderous intent or driven with a killer instinct. 

This one felt different though, something unfamiliar akin to that feeling of longing. The desire to feel, to taste.

Like that to a vampire without the actual bite. Or maybe with a bite but without the fangs. 

Yes, more like that one. 

Finding something particularly amusing at the doors of the lift, Allie smirked a little, bowing her head down.

Is it her smile? A shy smile was creeping up on Bea’s mouth too, mirroring the one that Allie was sporting. She can’t seem to stop smiling when Allie's around. 

Wait, is that a smirk? Bea’s suddenly suspicious. Determined to find out exactly why Allie was smiling like that, she turned her head forward towards the lift doors and was startled a little seeing her own reflection. 

Shit. Busted.  

“Sorry.” She mumbled under her breath, a little embarrassed at being caught staring at Allie. 

Allie moved closer to Bea, her lips just a few inches from her ear. “See something you like?” she whispered seductively, biting her lower lip and winking at the now guilty-looking redhead.

And then Allie started laughing, that sweet staccato tone, bringing music to Bea's now crimson ears and face. 

She turned her entire body to face the giggling blonde, her hand still clasping Allie’s tight. And eventhough she really was staring at Allie, she had to put up a little playful fight, maybe it's the alcohol starting to seep in to her system but she just had to. 

Bea huffed her chest, adapting a challenging stance and faced the smug blonde with her signature Bea Smith pokerface, giving nothing away. “So you think, I’m staring at you the whole time, like a creepy weirdo, is that it?”

Allie turned to face the serious looking redhead and reached for the lapel of Bea’s black suit jacket. She adjusted it a little and then tugged on the collar of Bea's red dress shirt. Her thumb sneakily caressing Bea's collar bone in an attempt to calm her. “I didn’t say that babe.” 

Babe. And with just one word, all the fight just left her. “Yeah, you got me.” she said sheepishly, her head dipping low. 

Allie moved in to hug the redhead, cradling her head to lean on her shoulder. Bea’s head resting on Allie’s neck, her lips brushing the soft skin there, sending a new wave of heat all over her body and tingling sensations to her spine.

“What were you thinking just then?” she asked in a sweet voice, her hand caressing Bea’s head.  

“Vampires.” Bea said quickly, blurting out the first thing on her mind, which, technically wasn’t a total lie. 

"Vampires? the blonde asked curiously. 

"Vampires." she whispered, surrendering into the hug. 

Their sweet moment was rudely interrupted by the high pitched ding of the lift making Bea quickly let go of Allie, albeit reluctantly, just in time for the lift doors to open and some guests rushed in. 

After taking a few passengers more, the lift got a little cramped causing Bea to move back while Allie moved protectively in front of Bea, offering her an unhampered view of Allie's irresistible neck. 

Bea moved closer intending to lay a soft kiss on that sweet spot but at the last minute, felt slightly guilty and so she laid her forehead instead. 

Feeling Bea's head on her back, Allie took both of Bea's hands and wrapped it affectionately around her waist, allowing Bea to pull her closer.

And in that short ride in the lift, Bea and Allie felt different, a deeper level of comfort that neither has ever experienced before and for a moment, they didn't care where they were.

While everyone else faded into the background, they could only feel the steady rhythm of their hearts and feeling elated in that warm embrace. 

 

Two minutes before eight, Bea and Allie were now comfortably lounging on the couch in the living area of Bea’s suite armed with beer and some snacks care of Debbie's stash from last night's hangout session with her friends. 

When the episode started playing, Bea was casually leaning on the couch. Relaxed and perfectly chill, excited to watch Allie's episode. 

Allie on the other hand was quite the opposite. She was on the literal edge of the couch her eyes nervously shifting from the screen and then to Bea's face, checking her reaction.

She was downright on the edge, like a student about to present her dissertation to a panel of sceptical professors. 

On the first commercial break, Bea had already downed another beer and rushed off to get a few more. She came back quickly and moved closer to the tv, intently watching the show, wanting to catch every dialogue.

She held out her hand for Allie to take her rightful place beside her. Even in her buzzed state, her hand still instinctively reached for Allie. 

"What? Nooo! That fucking bitch!" Bea spat out, getting deeper into the episode. The suspenseful effects of the show combined with the alcohol in Bea's system was making her more jumpy and vocal than her normally calm and collected state. 

"What the fuck? Did you just? That was fucking brilliant!" She snapped excitedly, she was on her feet now, her tone a few octaves higher than normal, her movements more loose than usual and she's downright giddy. 

She looked behind her only to find a worried looking Allie on the couch, visibly nervous and who looked like her dinner was about to make a comeback appearance. 

"Hey what's wrong?" she rushed to her side, suddenly regretting the last two beers that she downed. She was squinting her eyes, willing it to focus better.

"I'm okay Bea" the tensed blonde tried to brush it off with a laugh towards the end but even her laugh sounded weak. 

But Bea didn't budge. She saw through Allie's attempt to act unfazed. She didn't even need to be sober to catch that one. 

"Sorry I'm a bit of a nervous wreck." Allie confessed finally. "Did you like it? Uhm the episode I mean." 

Putting two and two together, Bea sighed in relief. Finally able to breathe easy, knowing that Allie is not hurt or in any kind of pain. 

She raised her right hand and tucked a lock of blonde hair behind her ear. "I'd be nervous too if that was my episode that aired tonight."

Bea cleared her throat and spoke softly. "It was a great episode, Al. Dialogue was exceptional. I was literally screaming at the tv. And if I wasn't technologically challenged, I'd log on that damn bird app and would have been tweeting excited expletives using the official Inmates hashtag." Bea went off, not holding back anything and a little too open actually, making the blonde chuckle at her blunt honesty.

"And can you please stop shiving screws every five seconds? I think I had a mild stroke at the 20 minute mark!" she rolled her eyes, earning another hearty laugh from the nervous blonde. 

Maybe it is fun to turn the tables around. Make her sport that hot smile. Hot? What has gotten into me tonight? Bea silently mused, her eyes mesmerised by the beaming blonde in front of her. 

"I got nervous because you're the one watching it." Allie wrapped her arms around herself, feeling a tiny bit insecure. 
 
Bea leaned closer to Allie. “Hey.. it’s just me, Al. It’s just me.”

“There’s a lot of voices in my head telling me what to do, what not to do. A lot of people saying a bunch of stuff about me and I could easily shrug them off. But you.. your voice.. it’s the only one that matters to me.” she admitted, the words spilling out faster than her mind can stop her. 

“Allie, look at me please." pleaded Bea, attempting to catch Allie's eyes that were avoiding her at all cost. 

When their eyes finally met, Bea gave her that warm, affectionate smile. "I already know you’re amazing, Allie."

“Bea.” Allie was shaking her head, about to argue. 

But Bea was not backing down. Not for this one because Allie needs to hear it. “What? You can say nice things about me but I can't say it back, is that it?”

“How many did you have?” Allie pointed at the beer bottle  on Bea's hand. Deflecting, because just like the redhead, this blonde writer still thinks that compliments always comes with a price. In another lifetime, a compliment was usually followed by an ask, and nine out of ten, it’s always a big ask. 

“Nah. Hold up! It's not the alcohol.” waving her hand dismissively at the blonde. 

“This" tapping the bottle on her hand. "Just loosens the tongue."

"It doesn’t change what’s already here.” pointing her index finger at her right temple. 

“Or here.” pointing at her hyperactive heart. 

It was silent for awhile, Allie was processing everything that Bea said. And when Allie's eyes soften from the intense look that she had been sporting, Bea broke the silence. 

“And to answer your question, including this one, that’s eight. And I’m stopping there.” Bea quickly stood up. 

“W-why?” Allie stuttered. 

“Cause I don’t want to get all annoyingly smashed. You on the other hand, I’ll get you another one, yes?

Allie gave an enthusiastic nod. Her smile was back, much to the amusement of the beaming redhead. 

“Okay stay there, I was promised points of clarification and I have questions. Lots.” Bea instructed while marching to the mini-bar. 

“You know I’m still under contract, Bea. I can’t disclose what’ll happen next.” Allie hollered at the retreating redhead. 

Bea stopped mid-walk and headed quickly back to the couch. 

She lowered her head, same level as Allie’s and planted a soft kiss on her forehead.

“We’ll see.” She whispered and then slowly walked away leaving Allie a tiny bit flustered. 

 


Both Bea and Allie were comfortably sitting on the rug in the living area floor, converging on the center table where a bunch of papers and pens were scattered around. 

True to her word, Bea did have a lot of questions about the story arcs of Inmates and to make it easier to follow, she drew a flow chart of the things she know so far and Allie helped her fill in the blanks in the timeline and other important details that have already been revealed throughout the first season and as of the last episode they watched a little while ago.

"Okay let me know if I got this right. Ellen is from a rival crew and she falls head over heels for the Top Dog, the same person that her surrogate mom wants to overthrow." Bea said thoughtfully, writing Ellen inside the last box of the chart, with much difficulty as Allie would either nudge the pen with her own pen playfully, preventing Bea from finishing what she’s writing or would quickly steal the entire thing and draw doodles of hearts on the chart, like the total toddler that she is. 

After successfully retrieving her pen, she settled for the words ELL with two heart doodles care of the the grinning blonde beside her. "But the top dog doesn't want to be the top dog anymore."

"Exactly. She just wants to top Ellen." Allie said coyly, writing the word TOP with a heart doodle in place of the letter O. 

"See what I did there?" she pointed at her writing. Seemed pleased with herself and started chuckling.  

Bea was in mid-thought when Allie dropped the punchline, causing another wave of red hues to splash all over Bea’s face, derailing her train of thought completely.

She pivoted her entire body towards Allie and looked at her with a steely glare abruptly stopping Allie's laughing fit. 

She reached for Allie's beer on the other side of the table and gave it to the now suddenly quiet blonde. 

"Thirsty?" she grinned.

"V-very!" Allie stuttered nervously. 

"Here!" she said with a smile. 

"And also.." Bea moved closer to the blonde, their nose almost touching. She waited for Allie to move away, just in case Allie was uncomfortable in any way. Sensing none, she cupped her face and place a soft kiss on Allie's waiting lips. 

The kiss was soft, gentle and too brief for Allie's liking as her lips chased Bea's as she was slowly moving away. 

"What was that for?" she asked in that whiny voice, pouting a little at the loss of contact. 

"Said you were very thirsty. I had to help." teased the grinning redhead, already half way standing up. 

When she finally got to her feet, she extended one hand for Allie to take. "How about we go back to the couch, it's more comfortable than here on the floor, yes? 

After gently pulling Allie up, she ushered her towards the couch.  
 
And just like the time they were on Allie's flat, Bea sat on the edge and place a throw pillow on her lap, and Allie lay on the couch, her head on Bea's lap. Reaching for Bea's hand, she hugged it ever so tenderly. 

It was quiet for a while, the gentle strokes of Bea's fingers on Allie's scalp was soothing her entire being. She shut her eyes close, giving in to calm and relaxing state that Bea's ministrations was sending her to. She was about to fall in a deep slumber when she heard that sexy raspy voice, jolting her back to life. 

"Becca and Ellen. I ship it. I'm not a huge fan of the soulmates trope, my writing would reflect that. But, with the way you wrote these two, I'm starting to believe." Bea articulated, her eyes were wide open now but still deep in thought. 

She glanced down at Allie's beautiful face, smiling a little at how peaceful she looks on her lap. "One question though"

"You're killing off Becca, aren't you?" she asked with a knowing look. 

"What?" the question startled Allie, clearly surprised, both at the randomness and at the accuracy. 

"You know I can't tell you anything, right?" Allie reasoned, her eyes meeting the curious look of the redhead above her.

"Hmmm" Bea pondered. 

"How about now?" Bea moved her head lower, softly kissing Allie's forehead. 

"B-Bea.." Allie called out in a shaky breath, her entire body edging to surrender. 

"No?" Bea asked again and then moved lower to her nose, leaving a gentle kiss on the cute tip. 

"Can't babe.." she sighed already anticipating where Bea's lips would land next. 

"Okay. Give me ten minutes" Bea teased, positioning her arm to gently cradle Allie's upper body so she could stand up. 

"What? Wait? Come back." Allie was in a slight panic and a lot frustrated. Her entire body was already bracing for Bea's hot mouth on her eager lips. Where's Bea going?

"Stay here and  can I borrow your keys?" she asked with a smug grin. 

"Sure but why?" Allie agreed but still confused at everything. 

"I'm just gonna take a look at someone's writers board. I'll be quick though." Bea sniggered, waiting for Allie's reaction. 

"Beaaaa!"Allie whined, pouting at the giggling redhead. 

And when Bea saw that charming pout again, the same pout that has consistently rendered her utterly defenseless, all she could think of is that one line. 

Because, Allie did in fact, went straight for the jugular. And at that exact moment, Bea realised what those words truly meant. 

And something dawned on her too, that she was truly, deeply whipped. 

And it happened so fast, one moment, Bea was still looking at the pouting blonde, whose cute head was still laying on her lap. They were staring at each other dreamily, and the next moment, her lips were slowly inching towards hers and then finally, the next thing she knew, Bea's head was coming at her in a swift move. 

Maybe it was the built up anticipation or the pent up eagerness or Bea's compromised depth perception because at the same speed that Bea was stooping down to catch Allie lips, Allie was pulling up to catch Bea's, and instead of their lips smoothly connecting, it was their foreheads that bumped into each other with a soft thud making them both wince in pain. 

"Argh for fuck's sake!" Bea fell back on the couch, her hands holding her forehead. 

"Oh shit! Fuck!" Allie was completely sitting now, her back against Bea's shoulder, her hand rubbing the soft spot in her forehead. 

And then she heard the softest giggle from behind her making her adjust her position, facing Bea completely on the couch, who was just all out laughing now. 

"Come here" she chuckled, opening both her arms wide, inviting Allie in. 

The blonde giddily complied, snuggling comfortably at the crook of Bea's neck making the redhead giggle even more, hugging Allie tightly in her arms. 

Bea leaned back to the couch, relaxing completely, taking Allie along with her. Having Allie in her arms felt oddly familiar.

She was anticipating to feel unease or a little awkward, heck she was bracing for it. Making a conscious effort to push the awkwardness away as soon as the tiny hint even makes an appearance but, for some unknown reason, the unease didn’t materialize.

What’s more puzzling was that, this felt strangely familiar as though her entire body was remembering something that she’d always meant to do.

“Hmmm.. This is nice..” giving into Allie’s warm embrace, feeling a sense of calm washing over her. 

"Does it still hurt? Where? Show me?" she whispered softly, her lips pressed on top of Allie’s head. 

Allie looked up at Bea’s deep set orbs, momentarily getting lost in those gorgeous eyes. “J-just here.” She stuttered, pointing at the spot in her forehead near the center where their heads collided.

Bea planted one.. two.. three.. soft kisses on the part of Allie’s forehead where Allie touched, lingering a little on the last kiss before moving her lips away.

“Anywhere else?” she asked again concern laced on her voice, her eyes scanning Allie’s beautiful face for any trace of redness or injury.

“Here” pointing at the tip of her nose, scrunching it up, showing a cute grimace at Bea, feeling a bit soft because everything about Bea makes her soft. 

Bea visually inspected Allie’s nose making a mental note that it had no marks of injury but left a soft kiss anyway, giggling a little because she's secretly enjoying having this tender moment with the blonde.

“Uhm. Here too?” Allie's voice was uncertain, tapping her lower lip with her index finger, sporting a mischievous smile.

Wanting to play along, Bea asked knowingly. “Oh. Did I hit it?”

Allie shook her head left to right. No.

Bea slipped her index finger beneath Allie’s chin, tilting up her face as she inspected her lips. “Does it hurt?” 

The suddenly self-conscious blonde nodded. Yes.

“From a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest?” Bea coaxed a little, wearing a slightly haugthy look.

Allie raised her hand up. One

And as Bea stared at those inviting lips, she felt her mouth dry, unintentionally licking her lips. Her eyes travelled from Allie’s lips, to her darkened blue orbs. 

They held each other's piercing stare, every sharp intake of breath is another inch closer to each other's mouth. Their glances, silently battling each other on who will break the contact first. 

When the tip of Bea's nose touched Allie's, Bea slowly rocked her head up and down, gently caressing the soft bridge of Allie's nose getting lost in the moment. 

And when she heard the faint hitch in Allie's breathing, something snapped inside her and she felt the increasing need to taste Allie's sweet lips. 

Slowly, Bea closed the tiny gap and delicately pressed her lips against hers, feeling Allie's body loosen in her arms, that warm tingling sensation slowly building up, spreading all over her body. 

She could feel the softness of Allie's lips moving in perfect sync with her hungry mouth. 

It started slow, soft, following a rhythmic cadence that only they knew. Drawing those sweet innocent moans from Allie's mouth. 

Little by little, their kisses were gaining a steady momentum. Every sexy whimper from Allie stirs a teasing throb on Bea's core, building up to more urgent and intense kisses. 

And when the sensation was quickly consuming her, she pulled back, long enough to catch her breath and then dived right back in to Allie's waiting lips. 

For a split second, Allie thought that the kiss became overwhelming for Bea necessitating the need to pull away but  before she even finished the thought, she felt Bea's lips again and this time deepening the kiss. 

She felt the tip of Bea' s tongue gliding on her lower lip as though begging for entrance, the slight poking was turning her on, the constant pulsing on her core was getting intense as well. 

But even so, Allie didn't hesitate, she parted her lips, allowing the redhead to continue, their tongue battling for dominance but Allie gave in, allowing Bea to suck on her tongue hungrily eliciting another wave of pleasurable moans from her mouth. 

Allie reached up, her hands curling tightly around Bea's neck while Bea's hands wrapped securely around Allie's slender waist increasing the contact more while all the resistance left in them finally crumbled. 

When they broke apart for air, Bea rested her forehead against Allie's while they chased some much needed oxygen. 

And even with their chest heaving, and the burning sensation on their lungs, Allie still managed to smirk at the out of breath redhead. 

"You have got to stop taking my breath away." Allie panted breathlessly, making Bea chuckle. 

The small chuckle became a small coughing fit causing another wave of cough-laugh from the air-compromised couple. 

After sharing a few more soft kisses and adorably gentle cuddling, it was time for Allie to head home. 

"It's getting late, I should let you rest. You've had a long day." she whispered softly to the redhead beside her, planting another soft peck on her lips. 

"Or" Bea slowly rose from the couch, extending her hand for Allie to take. 

"Or?" Allie asked curiously, taking Bea's hand. 

She gently pulled Allie up. "Stay the night." 

Chapter Text

Chapter 27
A Little More Time With You

Bea was standing inside the walk-in wardrobe of her bedroom suite, looking at the limited items of clothing that she brought from LA. 

A little over twenty minutes ago, while Allie was freshening up in her ensuite bathroom, Bea quickly jumped in the showers of the other room - Debbie’s room and changed into something more comfortable to sleep in, her grey French terry knit joggers and a black racer back tank top. 

Once done, she immediately headed back to her room to find something for Allie to wear. Judging by the look of confusion and worry on her face as she meticulously scans the drawers, she hasn't been able to find the perfect one. 

She was holding a few choice of cozy sleepwear, undecided and a little bit unsure on what Allie would like to wear to sleep. She wanted her to feel comfortable and was over thinking it, again.

How about this white cotton nightgown with cluny lace trim? She thinks, holding the nightie closer to her eyes.

Light, soft and sexy. Sexy? Wait. She stopped mid-thought and let’s out a nervous sigh. 

Or this? Clutching a grey cotton sweatshirt with matching joggers. She might get too hot. Well she is hot. 

"Okay stop! This is getting out of hand." She was talking to herself and policing her own thought process. 

She took another sweep at the drawer on right, “I think this is the one.” Bea pulled out a dark blue cotton tank top that pairs perfectly with the grey drawstring sleep shorts under it. 

She held the clothes up near her eyes to get a better look and her mind immediately flashed her visions of Allie wearing this particular piece. 

Allie seemed relaxed in her vision, posing adorably in this tank top-shorts combo. The dark color providing a beautiful contrast with her smooth milky neck. The low scoop neckline exposing her protruding collar bone. Just the thought alone is sending warmth all over Bea’s body.  

Stop being a perv! She mentally kicked herself. Realizing that her mind went straight for the gutter this time. 

“Knock knock” Allie’s sweet voice came from the entrance of the walk-in wardrobe behind her, startling Bea in the process, effectively bursting her daydreaming bubble.

“Fancy digs, Bea. Almost got tempted to jump in that massive hot tub of yours by the window simply for the view alone.” Allie went on as she sashayed giddily, heading straight for the redhead, whose back was still turned.

Hearing Allie’s voice, Bea quickly spun around, eager to present to her blonde guest the choice of sleepwear she manage to put together but she didn't expect to see how hot Allie looked all wrapped up in her bathrobe. 

The freshly showered blonde's face was rosy pink and there’s a nice blush forming around the exposed part of her neck. 

When Bea's eyes darted down she noticed that Allie’s bathrobe was a little askew, granting her a peek at the inside swell of her breast, making the redhead internally panic, causing her to hung her head lower.
 
But even though she averted her eyes from Allie’s chest, the bathrobe hitched up, exposing Allie’s long bare legs, much to the embarrassment of the shy redhead.

The warmth she was feeling merely seconds ago is now a full on fever. She could feel how scarlet her face has become and was silently thanking that the wardrobe had a soft yellow light, masking her true blush.   

Her eyes wasn’t as quick as she thought they were because when she finally looked up, Allie was already smirking, flashing her a knowing look. Busted. Again.  

“P-perks of not having a vacation for years, I guess.” She stuttered unable to look Allie in the eyes. 

“I-I could set you up. It’ll be quick. It has these.. uhm air-jets...” she deflected, dying to quickly change the topic.

“Maybe next time Bea, I’m a little smashed.” She rolled her shoulder in the gesture of stretching as a small yawn escaped her mouth.

Bea noticed how tired Allie’s eyes were and instead of replying with words, she gave her a small nod.   

“Here, I didn’t know what you usually wear to sleep.” she offered the items of clothing in her hands.

“So you got me everything?” Allie sniggered, a little amused and more touched because Bea was fussing over her. She couldn’t be more grateful for Bea’s affection. 

“Y-yeah. Something like that.” She held her arms out sheepishly, waiting for Allie to take her pick.

And Allie whose new life mission is to tease the adorable redhead whenever and wherever she can, blurted out an unfiltered and maybe a little too honest thought in her mind.

“I usually sleep butt-naked, babe. Sooo, let’s go?” she teased, sending a seductive wink at the now blushing Bea.

“Wh-what?” she croaked out nervously, her throat suddenly dry, making her voice raspier than normal.

“Sike! This will do, thank you.” Allie yanked the dark blue tank and shorts, kissed Bea on the cheek and bolted back to the bathroom in lightning speed, her faint laugh still ringing on Bea’s ears, who was left a tad bit rattled. 

Shaking her head in amusement, she slowly returned the other discarded sleepwear back in the drawers. 

“Butt-naked. Pfft.” She scoffed all the while sporting the fifty shades of red all over her face. 

 

After a while, Bea and Allie were lying flat on their backs on their respective side of the bed, with a small distance between their bodies. The room was pitch black and it was quiet. A little too quiet.

“Bea?” Allie whispered in the dark, breaking the silence.

“Mhm?” Bea's raspy voice echoing in the room.
 
“I thought you’re halfway to dreamland by now?” Allie asked, her voice sounded sleepy but was somehow still wide awake.

“Nah. Can’t sleep.” She admitted, even though she’s been in bed for some time now, her mind's still working tirelessly, keeping her up. 

“Is there something wrong?” Allie was starting to worry. Maybe I've overstepped somewhere. This is, after all, Bea's safe space. She silently mused. 

“Just uhm nervous.” Bea whispered, attempting to assure the blonde beside her.

Allie sat up. She reached for the switch and flipped on the lamp on her side of the bed.

She turned and moved a little closer at the puzzled redhead. 

“You’re safe with me, Bea. You know that, right?" She reached for Bea's hand to give it a gentle squeeze. 

Bea moved closer too. They were facing each other now with their heads at the same level yet there was still that tiny distance between them. 

“I know I am. It’s just that.. uhm.. I haven’t shared a bed with anyone except.. with… uhm..” She didn't have the heart to finish because this is not the time to be thinking about him, but somehow, in her messed up mind, she's associating this moment to a distant memory that she'd rather forget. 

But Allie read everything between the line, from the shaky drop in her voice to the first sign of haziness in Bea's eyes. And before Bea’s mind completely spirals into the deep where she might not be able to reach her, Allie gently cupped Bea's cheek, stroking affectionately and waiting for Bea's eyes to focus on her and her alone. 

“How about” she whispered slowly, punctuating every syllable, vying for Bea's attention back to her. 

And like a small electric shock to her system, Allie's touch and her sweet voice, yanked her back right before she unwillingly takes a hard nosedive into the abyss. 

She visibly shook her head and when she opened her eyes again, it was Allie's glistening blue orbs that grounded her. 

When Allie saw those deep set eyes eventually focusing back on her, she continued. “Okay, hear me out.”

"Okay." Bea spoke, finally, beaming at the beautiful blonde. 

“A good ol' fashioned goodnight kiss?” dropping the pun effortlessly, pairing it with a comical puckering of her lips making the redhead erupt with laughter. 

They both started laughing and just let it rip. At some point they even forgot why they were laughing to begin with, but it felt so good to just laugh and let it out. The nerves and bad memories quickly faded replaced by the thundering cackle of their giddy hearts. 

How Allie always seemed to know how to comfort her without needing to explain herself still baffles her but as she stares at those magnetic ocean blue eyes, welcoming her intense gaze, all Bea could think of is that one line that never in a million years, she'd ever write in a script up until recently... what's it like to belong with you.

After the laughing fit calmed down, it was Bea who spoke first.

“So old fashioned?” Bea poked at the sniggering blonde in front of her. She looked at Allie with narrowed eyes, feigning suspicion. 

“I don’t suppose you mean like an enthusiastic handshake. Hmm?” she scratched her chin exaggeratedly and then settled her head deeper on the pillow, getting comfortable, all the while still facing each other. 

“Not THAT dated." she scowled at the comfortable looking redhead, and then she continued. 

"More in the likes of a soft peck in the lips. No hands. No tongue. That kind of thing.” Allie explained, her mouth curving into a mischievous smile, while her eyes went from Bea's brown orbs down to those luscious lips. 

“No tongue?” Bea cackled, amused at the rules that Allie laid out. 

“Okay, I take it back. A little tongue. I’ve overestimated my self control. Oh, and one hand too. If you’re feeling up to it?” She moved closer, deliberately softening her tone, subtly hinting how serious she wants this. 

“Will you just come here?” Bea asked all the while pulling Allie by the waist with little to no resistance at all. 

Allie's soft giggles were the only sound reverberating within the four corners of the room, as Bea gently pulled her closer, wrapping her arms around her slim waist for a warm embrace. 

And Allie held her tighter. Dropping her head slowly as she nuzzled into the crook of Bea's neck, inhaling deeply causing the redhead to shudder. 

When they finally pulled apart, Allie's hand reached up to brush a strand of red curls away from Bea's face.

She lingered a little, waiting for any sign of resistance and after seeing none, she eagerly lowered her lips to Bea’s waiting mouth.

The kiss was soft and slow. Their lips delicately tracing the contours of each others mouth, slowly exploring with their tongue as they breathe life into each other. Allie cupped Bea’s jaw for better control as Bea surrendered entirely to the kiss.

When their lips parted, they were both grinning and beaming lovingly at each other.  

Maybe it's the way the soft light from the lamp hits Allie’s open face perfectly, or how her infectious smile reaches her hypnotizing ocean orbs, maybe it’s the nice swell on her lips after they’ve kissed but everything about Allie draws Bea in and she can’t help but blurt out the only thought consuming her mind.   

“You’re so beautiful, Allie.” She admitted, looking at Allie with pure awe and admiration.

And there’s something about Bea’s candid declaration and genuine innocence that made Allie feel so appreciated and seen that right then and there, she wished that Bea would always look at her this way. 

“You’re gonna make me blush, babe.” Barely managing to whisper. The butterflies fluttering wildly in the pit of her stomach and her knees are getting weak by the second.

Bea reached for Allie’s beautiful face. She began lightly tracing the profile of her face with her hand. Moving carefully, feeling the small crease in her forehead when Allie gave her a playful grimace.

Her index  and middle finger  gently brushing her eyebrow and tracing the curve of her eye as they continued to travel down the bridge of her nose. Her thumb feeling the softness of her cheek and delicately grazing the corners of her mouth, momentarily stopping at that sexy beauty mark above her lips.

“I wish my hands still knew how to draw. I’ve never wanted to draw anyone as much as I want to now.” Bea confessed in a shaky breath, staring dreamily at Allie.

And Allie had nothing. No witty comment nor a snarky remark. Not a single comeback laced with double entendre or even a half-meant innuendo. She simply melted with Bea’s words.

Within seconds, Allie’s lips latched on to Bea’s mouth, kissing her hungrily, deeply, silently wishing that every tender kiss could miraculously heal the hurt inside her, praying to the universe that she gets to be the one to take it all away.

Allie slowly pulled away only to lay her head into Bea’s chest, feeling the loud thundering of Bea’s heart. Elated knowing that she’s not the only one affected by this. 

Feeling Allie snuggling tighter, she held her closer. Her hand caressing Allie’s back, while her other hand gently massaging the base of her neck, remembering how this simply gesture relaxes Allie instantly.   

As Allie’s body slowly sink into her warm embrace, she whispered softly to her ear. “Goodnight beautiful girl.”

Allie mumbling a sleepy “night Bea” and finally she fell asleep in her arms.

 


Barely ten minutes after falling asleep, a faint buzzing sound startled Bea. Thinking nothing of it, she dismissed it a little too quickly and went back to sleep.

After a short while, the buzzing started again and this time, Bea reluctantly opened her eyes, careful not to wake the sleeping blonde in her arms. Her eyes scanning the room to find where that god awful buzz was coming from. 

From the corner of her eye, she sees Allie’s phone vibrating wildly on top of her bedside table and at the same time she registered that it was indeed the phone that woke her up, Allie started to stir in her sleep, her face clearly annoyed at something that interrupted her peaceful slumber.

Realizing that it was her phone,  within a few seconds, she bolted out of the bed and grab the annoying bugger.  

She walked towards the window on the other side of the room to answer the call in hopes that it didn’t wake the redhead.

“You have got to be kidding me? This late? Come on!” she groaned, clearly annoyed at the late night caller. 

"Fine. Just send through a call sheet. Got it." she huffed, almost defeated. A tantrum would have felt good but she was a professional after all. 

After awhile, she headed back, still a little confused on what to do first. It was Bea's husky voice that snapped her back to focus. 

"Everything good, Al?" Bea was wide awake now, sitting up against the headboard. 

"Bea! Sorry, didn't mean to wake you." she apologised, as she continued to move closer. 

When she reached the bed, she sat on the edge and explained to the curious redhead. "That was our AD. Our writer who was supposed to supervise a location shoot later backed out at the last minute. They've asked me to step in."

"Timing's a bitch, yeah?" Bea symphatized, trying to lighten the moment. She understands more than anyone how production could be so demanding and in some cases, like this one, could interrupt even your dedicated rest time. 

"Amen to that." she chuckled, appreciating how Bea was helping bring down her annoyance meter by her not so subtle cursing. 

"And as the head writer and story editor, no one knows the script better than anyone in that writers room, correct?" She pondered. 

As a showrunner, Allie would be her first choice too as she is in the best position to supervise the flow of the script but personally, she'd preferred for Allie to have had an uninterrupted sleep, preferably in her arms, but that's just her. 

"It's a blessing and a curse." she teased, rolling her eyes feigning annoyance, making both of them chuckle now. 

Her phone started ringing again interrupting their little laugh off. She looked up at Bea. "I should.."

"Go ahead." Bea held her hand up, gesturing to answer the phone. 

Allie mouthed a sorry and took the call. "Vera! Yeah, Stella called. Heard about Dor. Uhuh. She sent me one. It's fine. Okay. Got it. Okay bye!"  

After hanging up, she walked back to Bea and started gathering her stuff. "Our Co-EP, just checking in."

"Vera is one of the good ones to work with. Wait.. are you leaving now?" she asked, her voice sounded worried. 

"I really don't want to but call time's in four hours. Two thirty in the morning. I can't make you lose anymore sleep because of me, Bea." she pouted, clearly still bummed about leaving when she could have been spending the entire night snuggling her favorite human. 

"Hmm." Bea murmured, a sudden thought came to her. 

"How about, we sleep for three more hours. Then I'd drive you to your flat so you could change and get your stuff and after that, I'd take you to your location shoot." she proposed hoping that Allie would agree. 

"I can't ask you to do that Bea." she shook her head, about to disagree. 

"You're not asking, I'm offering. Besides I'd be less worried if I know you got there safe." Bea tried again. 

"Bea." Allie sighed, on the verge of giving in. 

"Allie." Bea mirroring Allie's tone, holding Allie's stare with her pleading eyes. 

They were staring at each other, seemed to be in an impasse. 

"Let me spend a little more time with you." Bea asked sheepishly, her hands fiddling with the edge of the doona. 

Bea's words echoed in Allie's head. Her heart skipping a beat or two because she wanted to be with her, even if they will just be sleeping, even without the expectation of deeper intimacy, and eventhough this will cost her a night's peaceful rest, she still wanted her. Just her. 

Allie dropped everything and quickly made her way back to bed.  Bea lifted the doona, allowing Allie to slide back to her rightful place beside her. Her smile was so beautiful to see. 

"I'm glad you stayed." Bea whispered as reached for her phone on the bedside table and to set the alarm. 

“There’s nowhere I’d rather be, than right here with you, Bea” she bit her bottom lip, the sudden confession made her blush. 

“Uh.. nice rhyme game you got going.” she teased the blushing blonde beside her.  

“DJ Alliecat in da house yo! Wicky wicky!” bobbing her head a little with that baby scratch hand movements followed quickly by a big yawn. 

“More like DJ Sleepyhead.” Bea chuckled earning a small poke to her side care of the sleepy baby beside her. 

Allie waited for Bea to settle back to bed and upon seeing that Bea's finally comfortable, she moved closer and planted a soft kiss on Bea’s lips.

“Thank you” she whispered softly and laid her head on Bea’s chest, snuggling closer to her neck, inhaling deeply Bea’s wonderful scent as they both quickly fell into a deep slumber.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 28
Edgecliff Station

 

Bea had set approximately three alarms. One at 1:10am, the next at 1:20am and the last one was at 1:30am. 

She didn’t know what kind of a morning person Allie is. She could be an early riser who wakes up at the first sound of the alarm, or a deep sleeper, the-dead-to-the-world types who are almost impossible to wake up. Or maybe she could be somewhere in between a light sleeper and those with a love-hate relationship with the snooze button. 

Not wanting for Allie to get late, she covered all bases, just in case Allie happens to fall anywhere within the sleep spectrum.

So when the first alarm started buzzing, as the early riser that she is, Bea was the first to wake up, opening her eyes albeit reluctantly. 

Feeling a heavy weight on top of her, a flash of panic ran through her. 

If this was Debbie, she would be hearing her laugh any second but there's no such sound. Her sleepy mind was still confused.

It must be him! Her foggy consciousness registered and her first impulse was to push him off. 

But when she attempted to move the body on top of her, her struggle must have awaken the sleeping blonde, as she heard a soft groan, a familiar sleepy mumble, making her body react differently.

A 180 degree turn - from fear and panic to safety and warmth that could only come from her. Allie. Her Allie

Bea's eyes quickly snapped open. Her heart slowing it's pace when her sight landed on the peaceful sleeping form of the beautiful angel latching on to her, who apparently, must have moved while they were sleeping and was practically on top of her now. 

Somewhere along the wee hours of the night, Allie managed to surreptitiously climb on top of her and completely settle on the other side.

She distinctly remembers how Allie was cuddling on her right side, her fingers instinctively touching the part of her neck where Allie was nibbling before finally falling asleep. Now however, she woke up to Allie's soft breathing on her left. 

She noticed too that they have migrated entirely on her side of the bed now, tethering by the edge, yet somehow, leaving the greater length of the doona on the vacated side. 

She chuckled softly. Even in her sleeping state, Allie’s antics still managed to make her heart swell with glee. This woman is pure magic, she's starting to believe that now. 

Bea let's out a deep sigh, allowing herself to study the sleeping beauty. Allie was smiling in her sleep. That’s a little smile right there, Bea silently mused. Who smiles in their sleep?

Her eyes continued to travel her angelic face, trailing down her smooth neck, to her slender arms, her eyes finally reaching the length of her back. Bea giggled a little when she realize that Allie's long leg was intertwined with her own. 

Noticing that Allie's sleep shorts have ridden up, granting her a peak of Allie's smooth and rounded backside, she blushed immediately and not wanting to be a total perv, she reached down to fix the hem of Allie's shorts to cover the exposed area. 

When Allie moved again though, her thigh accidentally grinded on Bea's now suddenly sensitive crotch. 

Her breath hitched as she tried to move her leg to put a little distance but at this point, gravity was clearly not helping as Allie's thigh settled even deeper. 

Her face was flaming now. Nobody's been in that general area for.. well.. years. She's only ever been with her ex-husband and that wasn't a pleasant memory for her. After him, no one got close enough to even try, Bea would have sent them packing. 

It wasn't an uncomfortable feeling though, it's just.. it took her by surprise. Her thoughts were immediately diverted when she heard that sweet sleepy voice of Allie mumbling on her shoulder. 

"Five more minutes." Allie murmured, clearly still half asleep and clinging deeper into Bea's neck. 

And Allie's semi-conscious state was doing wonders for Bea's self esteem right now because even under this situation, Allie wanted her, to be closer to her. Bea simply gave in.  

She held Allie tighter, and even though Allie's thigh was still pressing her groin, turning her on, she welcomed the feeling and let it go. Mind over matter, she told herself. It was Allie, after all. She started stroking Allie's back affectionately, lulling her back to sleep surrendering to her five minutes more. 

When the second alarm took off, Bea woke up with a jolt. After some creative maneuvers, she successfully managed to move without waking Allie up. 

As Bea was about to pull her left arm out entirely, somehow Allie moved again, trapping her hand between the soft mattress and something even softer - Allie's left breast. Her hand perfectly cupping it causing her face to turn scarlet again. 

In her panic, she quickly pulled it all the way out, dragging the tank top along, causing the neckline to adjust escalating the entire  situation from bad to worse because as Bea looked down, Allie's left breast was fully exposed now, even her pink nipple had made it's debut appearance causing another wave of red to wash over Bea's face. 

She immediately dragged the doona to cover Allie and then she headed to the showers to cool off, kicking herself internally as she stormed away. 

After doing a quick shower, Bea immediately went inside the walk-in wardrobe to change into a white cotton long sleeve shirt that she rolled above the elbow and paired it with a black fitted jeans. After changing, she made her way back to the bedroom. 

When she came out of the wardrobe, Allie was at the same time getting out of the bathroom, already up and changed in to her own clothes. The third alarm must have woken her up. 

"Morning Bea! Sorry for all this trouble." Allie greeted her, still feeling guilty for dragging the redhead out of bed so early in the morning. 

Bea gave her a small smile, still unable to look her in the eyes. Her mind was flashing her images of Allie's exposed breast and it's making her feel guilty. 

Why can't she look at me? Maybe she really is pissed? Allie sadly thought, noticing how Bea is a bit off this morning. 

"Let's go?" Bea asked tentatively and Allie just nodded feeling how tense Bea was around her. After sending a quick text to the AD, she hurriedly followed Bea out. 

The drive back to Allie's flat was a bit tense and a lot silent. Bea was thinking how to apologise to Allie while Allie was in deep thought on how to say sorry to Bea. They were lost in their own heads that they almost missed their turn. 

After parking on the street and Bea turning off the engine, they simultaneously blurted out "I'm sorry!" 

"What?" Bea asked confused. Why is Allie apologising? She was the one who accidentally groped her boob

"Wait. Why are you saying sorry? I'm the one who dragged you out in the middle of the night?" Allie quizzed looking a little baffled. 

"Huh? No don't!” She held her hand up, shaking her head. Allie shouldn’t be apologizing for that.

“Something happened when you were still sleeping." Bea let's out a heavy sigh. 

Bea was looking ahead, her hand still clutching the steering wheel. "I didn't want you to think that I'd ever take advantage of you.. uhh... when I woke up, you were still sleeping and I wanted you to sleep for as long as we still can so I moved you to get comfortable, but when I pulled out my arm, you moved" Bea rambled on, her words were spilling out fast and Allie was struggling to keep up but she kept listening. 

"And I.. uhm.. cupped your boob on my hand but I didn't mean to. So I yanked it out but your shirt got caught in my fingers and the next thing I knew, uhh well.. I-I saw your.." she gestured her hand towards Allie's chest area. 

Her face was red and she's genuinely embarrassed. To her mind, this was a clear violation of Allie's privacy and she fucked it up big time. 

It took Allie a few seconds for Bea's word to make sense. And when it finally hit her, she felt her chest bursting with genuine admiration for Bea who was too honest and too gentle with her. She really is the real deal. 

"Okay which boob?" she asked softly, finally catching up. 

"Huh?" Bea's head snapped up. Of all the things she was bracing for to hear, this wasn't one of them. 

"Which boob, Bea?" Allie tried again, removing her seat belt to shift her entire body to look at Bea. 

"Uhh.. left.. your left one, I guess?" Bea answered tentatively. Her hand reaching for her neck nervously. 

With a sly smile, Allie looked down at her own chest. 

"Damn it, lefty! You're getting all the action!" she said with a soft giggle peering at "lefty" through the collar of her shirt. 

"What? You're not mad?" Bea's eyes grew wide in disbelief. She was sure that Allie would have given her the boot. 

"It was an accident, Bea. You could have easily just not say anything and I wouldn't be the wiser. The fact that this bothered you and came clean speaks volumes of just how much you respect my boundaries." Allie explained, leaning over to Bea's side to remove her seat belt for her. 

"And to be honest, I'm a little annoyed that I was sleeping the whole time. I missed the chance to see your blushing face. That would have been epic." 

"I do not blush like that!" Bea protested but Allie raised an eyebrow at her, giving her a sexy smirk. Bea just rolled her eyes feigning annoyance because Allie was right, her blush really does give her away. 

Allie leaned closer and place a soft kiss on Bea’s lips. “We good babe?”

Bea simply nodded, unable to hide the smile forming on her face. 

"How about we head up? We still have plenty of time. Edgecliff Station is just a ten minute drive from here anyway." Her hand was about to open her side of the car door but stopped when Bea suddenly asked her a question. 

"You're filming a train sequence?" It dawned on Bea that she had not in fact asked where she'd take Allie. To her mind, she'd gladly take her anywhere for as long as she gets to take her there safely. 

"I originally wrote an abandoned, dark alley setting for this but the network execs returned the script with their notes. They wanted a more visually compelling sub-plot and so train station it is." Allie explained, sitting back comfortably. 

"I guess train stations are a thing with network execs. I had a similar pitch with a local scouting team. They were pushing for Bondi Junction." Bea added, remembering the meeting with her team. 

"It's probably the bond. Sydney Trains reduced our Public Liability Insurance requirement by half. So we applied for two stations, Edgecliff and the next station, which is Bondi Junction. The only concession is that we can only film from midnight until five in the morning." 

"Hmm. That's a bit tricky to work around." She agreed, nodding her approval. 

"Shall we?" Allie tried again. 

"You go right ahead, Al. I'll see you in twenty minutes." 

"Oh you're leaving?" Allie asked, clearly surprised. 

"I'll be right back." She squeezed Allie's hand to let her know that she got this. 

Allie rummaged her purse and took out a spare key set. "Wait. You'll need this." 

"One for the front door and the other is for my flat. Let yourself in, okay? Drive safe." She instructed finally and got out of the car. 

She waved Bea goodbye and headed straight inside. 

 


Allie was buttoning her shirt when she heard a soft knock on the door followed by the creaking sound of the door opening and shutting close. Bea must be back, she figured and rushed out to meet her favorite person. 

Bea was holding, two cups of coffee and a take out bag of what she assumed was breakfast, the distinct smell of delicious food wafting in the air wasn't hard to miss. 

Of course she brought breakfast. She's taking care of me, again. Allie inched forward, meeting the redhead halfway. 

"They're out of smashed avo, but they do have breakfast sliders, we have time right?" Bea walked towards the kitchen island to drop the food she brought from the nearest and still open cafe near Allie's place. 

"Thank you for this babe. For all of this, you really didn't have to. But I am grateful."

Allie can't help but feel special, favored even, for the way Bea has been treating her. After years of being on her own, getting lost and fighting for survival, being treated lesser, a burden or something to pass time with and now, this beautiful woman comes along, who has treated her with respect at the get go, who does not even ask for anything in return, it makes her feel like maybe she did something right after all to deserve such affection. 

Being treated this way, being shown this much effort and simply showing up, to some this is only considered bare minimum but to Allie this means the world. 

"Do I have something on my face?" Bea softly asked noticing how Allie was staring at her, looking a little lost. 

"Sorry, Bea." she shook her head and reached for Bea's hand. 

"I lost you there?" Bea took her hand and held it tighter. 

"No babe, you found me." 

 


They arrived ten minutes before the actual call time. Some security personnel were deployed to usher the parking of the crew and Bea and Allie were lead to the designated car park at the back of the station. 

After getting out of the car, they were intercepted by a production staff. 

"Morning!" she greeting the two in a cheery voice. 

"Here's your badge, Allie and here's the extra one you've requested. Stella made the arrangements. Security's a bit of a pain in there so wear these at all times. See you inside." handing the security badge to Allie and hurriedly went back inside. 

"You got me one?" Bea asked pointing at the extra badge. 

"I figured you might want to check out the reason why our lovely snuggle sesh was cut short." she held the badge up and gently draped it around Bea's neck. 

"You doofus." she teased the beaming blonde whose lips where mere inches away from hers. 

"You say doofus, I hear.." Allie started to respond but was cut short when Bea's lips latched on to her mouth. Giving her a quick kiss and then walked towards the station entrance. 

Allie was left rooted on the spot and when she looked at Bea, the redhead was smiling smugly at her. She jogged to catch up and when she made it to where Bea was standing, Bea took her hand, fingers interlaced and proceeded to head inside. 

The production was in full swing inside the Edgecliff Station. They set up the staging area near the lifts where the actors were busy being prepped by the hair and make up team.

Some additional lighting panels were being installed by the gaffers near the tracks and on the platform. A dolly track was installed, lining the platform, for those tracking shots she presumed. 

"I've missed this." she thinks as her eyes took in everything. 

The lights, the ambient noises, the gaffers, the key gripes, the crew, production equipment. Everything feels so familiar to Bea. 

Being a showrunner though, she has to be present in all stages of the making of her shows, From the genesis of the idea in pre production, to the tedious and physical aspects of production per se and then the crucial and meticulous work in post. But for Bea, production would always have a special place in her heart. This was where she found her true calling. 

As they continue heading towards the platforms, Allie could distinctively hear some hushed voices around. Some immediately halted what they were doing and started whispering amongst themselves, alternating between “Is that Bea Smith?” or “Bea Smith is here.”

She noticed too that some crew went out of their way to meet them, giving her and Bea a simple nod or even a warm greeting.

In her almost two seasons of Inmates, she'd never seen anyone had a warmer welcome or shown a great deal of respect  than they had for Bea. 

“You know these guys, Bea?” she asked Bea who was just giving a small wave to some production crew.

“I’ve worked with most of the production teams here in GMA back in the day. Some I’ve met at film school but the greater majority was through the documentaries and series we’ve produced before.”

“You’re a bit of a celebrity then.” Allie teased earning a playful eyeroll from the redhead.

From the far end, she saw two familiar faces, sitting in their respectively labelled chairs seemed to be in a deep and serious conversation. Bea guessed that this is more of a creative collaboration on how the flow of filming should be as Franky kept looking down to what appears to be a shot list on her hand.

She was reminded of how this was her and Franky back in the day, where most of the time, the DP would bounce off her ideas to Bea while Bea patiently listens. 

This time, the roles have reversed. It seems Bridget was the one pitching her ideas to Franky, judging by the way her arms where pointing at specific areas in the tracks while Franky was just.. listening. Seemingly hanging on her every word. She has come a long way. Bea felt pride seeing Franky on set. 

Feeling like she was being watched, the DP’s head snapped towards the direction of Allie and Bea. Franky was a bit surprised seeing her bestfriend on set and up this early in the morning walking hand in hand with their head writer. She quickly stood up and met them half way. 

"Well.. well.. well.." she started, looking at Bea and then at Allie and then back again at Bea. Her head hatching up another mischievous remark. They are making it so damn easy. She thinks to herself.

"I did NOT get the memo, blondie." She said in a smug tone.

"What memo?" Allie asked confused. 

"That today was bring-your-girlfriend-on-set day." she teased the now suddenly conscious couple. 

"Pfff. Back off, Doyle." Bea huffed out, sending a warning to her annoying bestfriend.

"Oi! So sensitive, Red! My set my rules, you have to play nice here. It's a bully free zone." 

"Yeah, watch me!" Stepping up to Franky, they were sizing each other up physically, and there’s a sense of anticipation as they face off against one another. 

Everyone on set immediately halted what they were doing, anticipating a show down of sorts.

Instead of a push or shove though, they both started laughing. Franky hugging the redhead a little too tight, earning a small elbow to her side. 

"What do you think, Red? Jjst like the old times?" She latched an arm around the redhead's shoulder while her other arm was flailing crazily around the air. 

"This feels familiar." She admitted whilst removing Franky's hold of her. 

Bridget walked towards them. She gave Allie a warm good morning and then extended her hand to Bea, welcoming her on set. "Bea Smith! Tell me you're our new EP?" 

Shaking the offered hand, she chuckled. "Well, no. uhh.. Just visiting. I'm here with uhm Allie."

Their mini-reunion was interrupted by the melodic voice coming from behind them. 

"Bea Smith?" Vera called out and hurriedly greeted their unexpected but not at all unwelcomed visitor on set. 

Bea turned around and extended a handshake to the Co-Executive Producer of Inmates. "Vera."

After exchanging a quick pleasantries with Bridget, Franky and Allie, she turned her attention back to the award winning Showrunner. 

"Are you here to take Franky back? She's a bit of a pain that one." Vera started, trying to strike up a conversation. 

"Ah, you wound me boss." Franky was quick to react, making everyone laugh. 

Vera moved closer to Bea, trying to fake-whisper but her tone and pitch remained the same. "Between you and me, she's been brilliant since day one. Just don't tell her that, ego might not fit the entire station." 

And ofcourse, Franky still heard their larger than life boss. "I know you guys are still talking about me."

"Aha.. but no, I'm here for Allie." Bea said with a laugh, wanting to clarify why she was actually on set. 

But Vera misunderstood even more and tried to stand in between Allie and Bea. "Oh hey, hands off Bea. Don't go head hunting our best writer."

"Well she is the best." Agreeing completely with Vera's expert assessment. Beaming at the now blushing blonde beside her. Completely oblivious to the puzzled expression in Vera's face. 

Allie rolled her eyes, feigning nonchalance but the tiny redness on her face gave her away. 

"I'm not scouting her though. We're actually seeing each other." Bea explained further hoping that Allie's boss would finally understand. 

"Huh? Seeing what?" Vera was confused, she knew both Bea and Harry from film school so it didn't register at first what Bea was getting at. 

Seeing the confusion, Allie stepped in to finally drive the message home. "Dating boss. We're dating. Seeing each other romantically? She clarified. 

"Oh, ofcourse. Yes. Yeah uhm why wouldn't you?" Vera said nervously, getting it finally. Feeling a bit embarrassed for not understanding right away, she made an excuse to leave them be. 

"Enjoy your visit, Bea. Welcome back to Sydney and I'm still hoping for you to jump ship and start producing here in GMA." she waved and walked back towards the video village area. 


When Vera was out of hearing distance, Allie moved closer to Bea,  a little confused too. "What was that about?" 

"We go way back. Film School. She knew me at a different time." the with a different partner was implied and Allie simply nodded in understanding. 

"You basically told my boss that we're together." she teased, poking Bea's side rib. 

"Did I cross a line? I thought that was okay." she asked shyly, a small doubt creeping in. 

"It was okay, Bea. It’s just.. it took me by surprise. That's all. You're not embarrassed to say that you're with me?" She asked feeling a little insecure. 

Bea moved closer to the blonde and gently cradled her chin. "Why would I? You're amazing, Allie." she confessed, looking dreamily into Allie's eyes. 

Just when Allie was about to lean in for a kiss, a rookie production assistant miraculously appeared infront of them, startling them both. 

“Ooppps sorry!” the production assistant said apologetically. 

She handed Allie a copy of the script with the side notes, a shot list, two pairs of headsets and lapel microphones and a short range walkie. She gave them both a mischievous smile and quickly moved along to the next crew members that needed their gears. 

Bea was trying to hide her laugh at Allie’s clearly annoyed expression because of the interruption but the shake in her shoulder was just too damn obvious. 

She moved back closer to her now pouting baby, sporting again that one pout that makes her knees weak, and grabbed the comms equipment on Allie's hands. 

“Let me set you up.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 29
Past x Future


Green. Green. Green. 

Allie was standing on the sidewalk, in front of the pedestrian crossing, looking up at the traffic lights. She doesn't remember how she got here just that she's here now and those lights looked so damn pretty. It blinks, it has colors, it looks like magic. 

Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. 

It was ten minutes ago when she took her last hit of smack and the rush has instantly kicked in, making her feel blissful, elated and more importantly she's feeling numb. 

Red. Red. Red. 

Her world violently spinning, her mind bursting with an overwhelming rush, as she started crossing the street and continued her descend down the stairs towards the train platform.

It was a rough day for her, this day specifically but this year it's going to be different. Allie had a plan. Been thinking about it for sometime now and before her body succumbs completely to the heroine high, she made sure to take a hit just minutes before heading to the station. 

She’d scouted it countless of times, the last train arriving at this stop at exactly 11:45pm and at that time of the night, when most of the train personnel have already left for home, no one else could spoil her plan. 

She'd doubled her usual hit to make sure that the rush would kick in almost immediately, and she was right. She’s been riding that high all the way to the tracks. 

She feels a sense of calmness and euphoria as she trudges the last steps towards the platform. Gliding merrily down and feeling invincible.

Allie was conversing with the image of her mom, telling her that she’d soon be with her, that its all going to be okay once they are together.

She wasn’t mindful of her surroundings. She didn’t see anything or anyone anymore just an image of her mother and the blurry light panels, so when a tall, burly man came out from platform, he collided into her causing her to fall on the floor, flat on her ass.

“Fuck!” she blurted out and then started laughing.

And the idiot who bumped into her was rushing out, cradling his nose with both of his hands, his face covered with red.

Blood probably, Allie thought but was too far gone to even care why was he bleeding or where he’s going now.

“Fucking bleeder! Stick a tampon in there will yah!” she spat out and began laughing again. Her eyes were glazed, and she can't focus on her surroundings. Like a drunk slurring her words. Her movements, loose and wobbly but her head kept her determination, seeing a tunnel vision of her end game.  

She walked to the middle of the platform, almost dragging her feet now. Her mind was slowly starting to nod off, she could barely stand up straight. From the corner of her eye, she could see the blinding lights of the incoming train, the ringing was quickly reaching her ears

She was inching her way towards the edge. Her feet have crossed the yellow security line. Allie was about to jump on the tracks but at the last second she suddenly stopped when she heard a loud banging sound from behind her and a small weak muffled voice calling out. 

"Help."


"Annnnnnnnnnddd CUT! Let’s start again in five.” Bridget’s booming voice from behind her startled Allie, forcibly bringing her mind back to their current production. 

They’ve been filming for the last hour inside the train car that Sydney Trains had allowed them to use. This carriage has made three round trips from Edgecliff to Bondi Junction, and once its all cleared and ready to depart, this current trip will be the fourth. 

Due to spacial limitations, the only people that we’re allowed to ride the train were the actors themselves, Franky and her assistant, two other gaffers, her key grip, Allie to supervise the script and Bridget as the director who was currently making her way to the front part of the train to explain to their actors some major technical tweaks in their performance for them to deliver the scene according to the script that Allie has written. 

Franky and her camera operator was fixing the camera riggings that they have placed for this shot. She can see Franky shaking her head, at something that her key grip was trying to explain to her.

She peered outside the window of the train and the name Bondi Junction in bright white was flashing before her eyes. It looks the same, she thought to herself, her eyes seemed to be transfixed on a certain spot, the maintenance closet of some sort. And before another flashback takes her somewhere else, Allie’s walkie cracked to life. “Vera for Allie.”

“Go for Allie.” She answered almost immediately. Her head now back in the game. 

“What’s your ETA?” Vera asked in a distressed tone.

“Five minutes. Over.” She replied. 

“Copy that. Does anyone have eyes on Bridget?”

“Stand by.” She stood up from the back part of the train, heading to the front seats where the director and some actors were at, passing along the train seats where most of the production have set up the riggings, additional lighting panels and boom microphones.

She waved her hand at Bridget, trying to get her attention as she was still having a conversation with one of the actors. “It’s Vera.” She announced, gesturing for Bridget to pick up her comms. 

Bridget nodded, acknowledging Allie and took out her own walkie to talk to the boss.  

"So what do you think?" Franky's serious voice came from behind her. Her usually flirty bravado was tucked away at the moment and Allie knows that Franky means business. 

"It was good. He followed the script to the letter." she deadpanned. 

"But? I could hear a but coming." was Franky's quick reply. 

"There's no but." she quipped, the sarcasm was too obvious to miss. 

"Out with it, Al." Franky encouraged. She already has issues with the shot and needed the confirmation from a fresh pair of eyes. 

Allie hesitated at first but then pointed out the area near the train doors. "Something minor. The handrails, it keeps blocking the shot."

"Ahhhh. I knew it! It's bothering me too. I've asked Dave if we could mount the slider at a different angle but it's a no-go." Franky explained with a lot of frustration in her voice. 

The perfectionist in Franky couldn't let this one slide and its been vexing her since the first take. Sometimes the limitations of their set can get in the way of her creative vision and that really grinds her gears. She's been trying to work around this bump but as of the last take, it's still a recurring issue. 

"How about letting post handle the digital scrubbing?" the head writer suggested but after working with Franky for this long, she knew that she'd rather perfect the shot here rather than pass it on post production."

"Vera wants a retake." the blonde director relayed as she walked towards Franky and Allie. 

"It's the handrails, right?" Franky asked already knowing the answer. Her brows furrowed in annoyance, her hand reached up to rub her eyes. The stress is getting at her. 

"Pretty much. I've explained the challenges with the rigging but Vera wants to try one more time." Bridget reach for Franky's hand, the same one that was rubbing her eyes and gave it a reassuring squeeze. 

And for a split-second, as Bridget held Franky's stare, Franky felt a powerful tug on her heart. It was an unfamiliar feeling. Different from how her body reacts from the physical stimulus of sexual attraction, she's pretty much well verse in that. This was something else, something more, something deeper. 

The atmosphere suddenly changed, there were no words exchanged just knowing looks and shy smiles only to be broken by the loud sound of the PA system. 

"TWO MINUTE WARNING. THE TRAIN WILL LEAVE FOR EDGECLIFF STATION IN TWO MINUTES. MOUNT YOUR EQUIPMENT PROPERLY. KEEP OFF THE TRACKS. I REPEAT, THE TRAIN LEAVES IN TWO MINUTES. THANK YOU."

"I-I uh better get back in front." Bridget withdrew her hand immediately and walked away without looking back. 

"Y-yeah. Sure." Franky stuttered, clearly rattled. Her eyes still fixed on the blonde director. 

Allie nudged Franky to take a seat as the train starts moving slowly, eventually picking up half the usual speed for safety purposes. 

"There's something there. I can feel it, blondie." Franky whispered to the blonde next to her, eyeing the director out front who would from time to time, look behind and would catch Franky's flirty smile. 

"Oh don't look at me. You don't see me eye-fucking Ferguson." Allie teased, earning an eye roll from Franky. 

Deciding to put the blonde on the hotseat, she thought of a clever comeback. "Devil Incarnate? Nah. Queen Bea, though? Most definitely. 

"So.. you and Red huh?" She looked at Allie with narrowed eyes. 

Allie shifted her body to face Franky completely. She needs to make Franky understand how serious she is about the redhead. "Are you gonna give me the best mate speech? Just so you know, I'm not gonna hurt her." 

"Good." Franky breathes out. 

"Break her heart and I'd break 'em fucking legs." she threatened, pointing at Allie's legs for emphasis. 

"Goes both ways too. She breaks your heart, blondie, she'll never hear the end of it." she tried to reassure her friend. Eventhough they haven't been friends for a long time, like her and Bea, she already considers Allie a part of her little family. 

"Whose side are you on then?" Allie asked a little amused. She appreciates the sentiment but understands her deep history with the redhead. 

"Red's!" she answered in a heartbeat. 

"But you know, I advocate for all women, if you know what I mean." she joked, wiggling her eyebrows comically making both of them crack up. 

"Vera for Franky." came a voice from Franky's walkie. She then picked it up still half laughing. "Go for Franky." 

"Your lapel mic's still on. Our sound engineers are laughing at some devil incarnate comment. Switch off your damn mic. Over." Vera instructed, her voice sounded amused more than annoyed. 

"Copy. Over." Franky reached for the controls on her sides and lo and behold, she sees the red light on her comms indicating that it was still turned on. 

"Oh for fuck's sake." Shaking her head, she immediately switched it off. 


When the train reached Edgecliff station, Allie, Franky, Bridget along with the actors on board, stepped off the train and went immediately to the video village where their showrunner was having an unexpected conversation with Bea. Vera was pointing at the monitor while Bea was just listening to her, pursed lips and sporting that serious look in her eyes as they play back the scene. 

"Well will you look at that." Franky wondered a little too loud, making Allie look towards what Franky was eyeing. 

And then Allie saw her. 

Bea with a headset on, looking intently at the monitors in the middle of production. Everything looks so natural like she belongs here somehow. It was a glimpse of what might be if Bea was part of their production. 

Seeing Bea in her true element was making Allie mildly hotter all over her body. She could feel that fluttering sensations in her belly slowly intensifies the longer she stares at Bea. Her Bea. 

Allie has seen quite a few versions of Bea. The hot jogger Bea, the fussing over her Bea, the Blushing Bea and the Bad ass biker Bea. She's beginning to think that she's totally into every version, every iteration of Bea Smith there is. 

"What do you have for me, Red?" Franky hollered as they walked towards her. 

"Technically, nothing. Absolutely nothing." Bea stated flatly, hiding her true intent behind her perfect pokerface. 

Vera stood up from her chair and called out. "Can everyone please take five? Thank you."

"Take five everyone." Stella, their AD, echoed the instruction and lead the production team off the platform. 

"Except for you three." Vera whispered, pointing at the confused trio in front of her. 

Franky, Bridget and Allie stayed put while everyone else left the platform. 

"Bea, Vera? What's going on?" Allie quizzed as she walked closer to Bea. 

Stepping in front of Allie, Bea reached for both of Allie's hands. To anyone who happens to pass by, it was just two lovers whispering sweet nothings to each other but Bea's voice was modulated enough for Franky, Bridget and Vera to hear clearly. 

"Nothing much." She started, beaming a sly smile at Allie. 

"Just that under no circumstance am I allowed to suggest that instead of using the dolly, you may opt for a shoulder rig and mount an Alexa mini camera on there to get better control of the angles." she explained, hoping that Allie catches on quickly. 

"Also, I'm no way suggesting that for safety reasons, two harness will be attach to your waist, here and here." lightly brushing her hand at the left and right side of Allie's waist making both of them instantly blush. 

"W-While uhm t-two more will be locked on your shoulder for better grip and balance." the redhead stuttered, suddenly feeling a bit conscious. 

It baffled Franky and Bridget that Bea was only speaking to Allie but soon realize that she was actually leaving the instruction for all of them. It wasn't like Bea to break protocols and she felt grateful that her bestfriend would risk having to cough up a hefty fine under the penalty clause of her contract with ABS Network just to help them in this almost impossible bind. 

"So we need a handheld camera shake with little to no stabilization?" Franky clarified in a hushed tone. 

"Not so much of a shake. More of a gentle rocking motion. More gritty. More personal. More intimate." Bea uttered calmly, stressing every word, her gaze glued on Allie's ocean eyes. 

Instinctively, Allie held Bea's hands tighter. She needed Bea to anchor her because right about now, every part of her body feels like its drifting up reaching for a new level of high. 

"It makes sense. I'm all for it!" Allie heard Bridget say but was only listening half heartedly. 

"If it was anyone else, I'd say they're fucking bonkers but since it's you, Red. I trust you completely." Franky agreed and waited for Vera to give her approval. 

Seeing Vera hold a thumbs up, she immediately moved back and pulled out her walkie to call in their Key Grip to make the necessary gear switch. 

"What do you think?" Bea asked Allie, that small blush earlier is slowly starting to disappear. 

"I-I think that was fucking brilliant!" Allie finally finding her voice. 

"Did you really have to use those words?" 

"You mean your words?" Bea cleared her throat and pointed at the script that was on Allie's hand. 

Allie looked down on the script, and then she read the last sequence, only remembering now what exact words she wrote. 


INT. - TRAIN STATION - CAR 1 - Continuous

The ASSASSIN pops out a switchblade and stabs JESPER on the chest. 


JESPER
Just take the goddamn money! You don't have to kill me!

ASSASSIN
The Governor sends her love! 

The ASSASSIN plunges the knife into JESPER'S chest, pushing and twisting deep into his heart. 

Bleeding, JESPER realises that it was not a random attack. This was more personal. More intimate. 


"It was a beautiful script. I took it to heart. I wanted to give it justice." Bea confessed, suddenly shy. 

"Bea." Allie managed to say, feeling a bit choked up. 

Wanting to lighten Allie's mood, she tugged on the blonde's hand and jerk her head towards the direction of Franky and Bridget. "Let's go see how it'll turn out." 

 


After a couple of blocking rehearsals, they started filming again. The entire team was satisfied on how the scene dramatically improved with Bea's secret instructions and after nailing it with just two takes, one for the master shot and the other with the medium, push in shots, they can now move on to film the next scenes right after a short break. 

 

After saying her goodbye to Franky and Bridget, it was time for Bea to head home. Allie walked Bea towards the carpark. 

"That was fun. Thank you for letting me stay for a bit." 

"I should be the one thanking you, Bea. For waking up with me, bringing me home and bringing me breakfast. Then taking me here and helping us out in production. I don't even know how to start thanking you."

"It was nothing, Al." She shrugged with a playful wink. 

"It's NOT NOTHING. So let me start with this." and before Bea registers anything else, Allie's lips crashed on to hers, startling her for a second but eventually Bea deepened the kiss, holding Allie tighter. 

It was Allie that pulled away first and slowly and quite seductively walked away, making sure to add a little sway on her hips, leaving a blushing Bea all sorts of flustered. When Allie reached the station doors, she turned around to give a flying kiss at the now giggling redhead. 

After Allie was out of sight, Bea immediately got inside her car. As she was about to pull out of the carpark, she saw Vera hurrying towards her. 

Vera waved at her and when she finally made it in front of Bea's car, she holled at the redhead. "Take that meeting Bea."

"What meeting?" Bea asked confused. 

"That meeting with Sonia Stevens. She's been waiting. We all have been." Vera expounded, a big smile forming on her lips. She had hopes that there will come a time that she'll get to work with the talented showrunner again. 

"We have great writers here. Great stories that needs exceptional storytellers. Think about the milestones we could reach with you running our ship here in GMA. The future is here in Sydney, Bea not in LA." convincing the redhead that it's the perfect time to come back home. 

"Your future is here." She ended her pitch with a powerful closing and then walked back towards the platform. 

Bea was left ruminating on Vera's last words. "Maybe." Her mind swirling with thoughts of ocean blue eyes, soft inviting lips and that warm heavenly smile that takes her breath away.  

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 30
Hearsay

 

Blake was nervously adjusting his necktie as he walked along the corridor at the east wing of the 18th floor heading towards the office of Chairman Jacs. 

The young blond intern was assigned to cover all of Carly's workload today, including interning for the head of the company. 

Walking closely behind him was a tall bald man with a sleek suit. His face was stern, his steps with purpose. He came for one thing and he is not leaving Jac's fortress without getting it. 

"You may wait here." He pointed at the posh lounge area just in front of the office of the chairman, to which the visitor quietly complied, occupying one of the chic couches, unbuttoning his suit jacket as he sat down. 

Blake straightened his already crisp Oxford dress shirt and opened the door. 

And even before he could enter the office completely, Jacs strong voice echoed around the room. "What is it?" 

"Chairman, uhm, Don Kaplan, the Chief Executive of the Department for Correctional Services is here for you ma'am." He stuttered but immediately found his composure. 

"He doesn't have an appointment but he insisted." He continued, bracing himself for some heavy scolding. Chairman Jacs is known to be a stickler for her work schedule and an ambush meeting like this is one that she hates most. 

"Send him in!" Jacs yelled, clearly annoyed at the audacity. 


After a few minutes, Don Kaplan entered the office. His eyes burning with anger but he kept his face neutral, almost nonchalant. 

"You've been dodging my calls, Jacs." He grumbled, keeping his temper in check as he walked closer to Jac's desk. 

Without looking up from her computer, she answered the already seething Don. "I do not dodge any one. I've been busy. Plain and simple."

"This is not a social visit." His anger was slowly stirring within him

"I've got word that your news and current affairs division is going to air an exclusive story for an alleged embezzlement scheme and misappropriation of grant funds under my department, against me. I want you to shut it down." He exploded banging his fist on the mahogany desk. 

"Is it even true?" Jacs taunted, finally looking up, not caring that everything on her desk rattled out of place. 

"You don't get to ask me that! Ten years as head of the Correctional Services and before this, eight years as governor of the hell hole that is Wentworth Women’s Correctional, I will not go down because your news team decided they want to pick a fight with me!" Jac's mocking tone flared his fury as he pointed his finger at her. 

"And what makes you think I'd be willing to help you?" she snarled as she felt her own anger mounting. No one tells her what to do. 

"You owe me, Jacs. You fucking owe me! Or do you need a fiery reminder?" he angrily threatened and quickly backed away. He has made his point. 

The sudden change in Jac's face was all the confirmation that he needed. She will yield. 

The smug chief adjusted his suit and rebuttoned his suit jacket and stormed out leaving Jacs with a deadly ultimatum. "My house is burning, Jacs. I'd hate for you to catch fire! That exclusive will never see the light of day, you hear! 

Out of frustration, Jacs stood up and threw a fit. Her rage overtook her and she was screaming loud and breaking anything that her hands can get hold of. 

She pressed her comms and yelled at her intern. "Blake! Get me the Bureau Chief of CBN News, immediately! 

"Yes ma'am, right away!" the blond answered

"Those white lilies better be ready after this meeting! I'm seeing my son!" she spat out angrily. 

 

 


After packing up their location shoot at Edgecliff Station, the production crew went back to Studio 15 inside of GMA Network compound to continue filming for the day. 

Allie and Bridget joined the crew at the pantry to eat breakfast since they have a short break before production starts again. The director was having a light conversation with their story editor when she heard Franky's name being randomly mentioned by some members of the hair and make up team sitting at the far end. 

"How was it?" whispered the curly haired stylist to her friend beside her. 

"It was a long time ago but she's a fucking good root!" the bleached blonde that Bridget recognized as the head makeup artist, disclosed, giggling in the process. 

"So what happened?" her friend prodded. 

"It's just sex, no strings attached. Totally closed off, not even up for cuddles after." she answered with an annoyed eye roll and quickly stood up, taking her rubbish with her. 

"What a dick move, right?" was the last thing Bridget heard before they completely walked away from earshot. 


"Hey, still with me Bridget?" Allie asked, waving her hand at their director. 

"Yeah, I-I got a bit distracted, sorry." She stuttered. For some reason, that conversation about Franky rattled her. She heard rumors about how much of a flirt their DP was, so this shouldn't come as a surprise but she couldn't quite understand why she's so affected by it. 

Bridget motioned for the bathroom and excused herself. "I-I need to." 

"Yeah sure." Allie gestured with a thumbs up while Bridget bolted out, needing to get away as fast as she can. 

Allie wondered as Bridget hurriedly left what made her jumpy all of a sudden. "Maybe she's just tired." she mumbled to herself. They did had an early call time and she herself was slowly feeling the effects of having just a little over three hours of sleep. 

"Thank god for coffee!" she took a small sip of her cup remembering a certain redhead who gave her, her first for the day. 

She took out her phone and sent a quick message to the beautiful woman who as of recent, has been living rent-free inside her mind. 

Is it too needy for me to say that I miss you already? 

Not expecting a reply anytime soon as Bea was still probably catching up on her sleep, she sent her another one, making sure that Bea would most definitely blush the moment she reads it. 

Also, lefty says hi! Too soon? Jk… or is it? 

Allie was chuckling as she hit send. She can already imagine how red Bea's face is going to be and she's definitely going to smile. How she wished deep in her heart to be the one to put a smile on Bea's beautiful face everyday. 

Her daydreaming was interrupted when she heard their AD, Stella calling out that filming resumes in fifteen minutes. She hurriedly got up, threw out her rubbish and set out to find their director. 

 

Bridget was looking at the mirror seemed to be lost in thought, after splashing some cold water on her face she thought that it would re-focus her mind with work but all she could think of was Franky. Those piercing green orbs looking at her when she comforted her in the train. She's attracted to her, well who wouldn't be but it still baffles her that she's this irritated for simply hearing how intimate Franky got with other women. 

"I'm not jealous!" she tried to argue looking at her own reflection. 

Just when she was about the leave, she heard a few women come in and since the public restroom was a quite massive, the newcomers stayed at the front area near the doors while Bridget was at the back area, separated by the large mirror panel right smack in the middle. They didn't notice that Bridget was on the other side when they started talking. 

"Franky's single again!" one woman piped up excitedly. 

"Isn't she with Erica?" another woman replied. The disgust in her voice was hard to miss. 

"She got ghosted." a third voice chimed in, volunteering the information. 

Bridget wanted to leave but she felt glued on the spot. Why is everyone in on Franky's business anyway, she thought. The annoyance was building up again. 

"Wait! You hooked up before?" quizzed the third voice followed by the sound of what Bridget thought was a surprised gasp. 

"Oh god! The things she did to me! Maybe I can ask her to do it again, you know for old time's sake." the first voice bragged and then they started giggling which increased Bridget's annoyance by a solid thirty percent. 

"Ugh. Not me, I'm staying the hell away from Doyle." scoffed little Miss Irate, what Bridget aptly named the annoyed voice earlier. 

What's your problem? little Miss Bragging Rights was on the offensive and Bridget giving them these on-point nicknames was calming her a little. 

"Have we forgotten about the whole Kim fiasco? After dumping her ass, she went on to date her roommate?" little Miss Irate sassed, reminding her two friends of Franky's so-called sins. 

"They're all consenting adults anyway." defended little Miss Bragging Rights. She really got it bad for the hot DP. 

"I'm a proud card-bearing Doyle-apologist. Sue me." she  declared with pride in her voice making them all laugh as they filed out of the restroom. 


Bridget wasn't sure what annoyed her more, the fact that she hooked up with a few people in the network or that people are painting her out to be a heartless player or better yet, that she's having these strong feelings of jealousy when she hasn't even figured out what Franky means to her. 

"Arrg! Jesusfuckingchrist!" she let's out a frustrated groan. 

And just as she was about to step out, she heard Allie's voice calling for her. "Bridget? You in here?" 

"I'm just about to head out." she explained a little too panicky. 

"Everything okay?" Allie asked. Bridget looks a bit off and wanted to check if she's feeling ill or unwell. 

Bridget smiled, appreciating Allie's concern. "It's good, Allie. Thank you. Let's go?" 

Allie still feels like Bridget is not one hundred percent feeling okay but she'll let it go for now.

 

For the rest of the morning production shoot, the irked director stayed as professional as possible whilst working with Franky onset. She was in work mode and whatever inner issue that she's dealing right now, there's a conscious effort on her part to act civil. What she heard annoyed her to high heavens but she vowed to get through this shoot without anymore trouble. 

She was glad that the next sequence of filming will be directed by Joan Ferguson as she needs to put a distance between her and Franky until she sorts whatever it is that she's feeling for the flirty DP. 

 

 

 

It was five minutes before ten when Bea finally woke up. After her short visit to the Inmates location shoot, she went straight back to bed in hopes that she'll get to dream about the beautiful blonde. 

Vera's words kept repeating in her head and was contemplating that she should probably give it some head space, but right now, she needs to sort out her schedule. 

As she got out of bed, her phone started ringing. Seeing Maxine's name flashing on her screen, she immediately answered it. 

"Morning Maxi!" she rasped out. 

"Morning Bea! Rough night?" Maxine asked curiously, hearing the sound of Bea's voice, who she correctly assumed had just woken up. 

"Nah. Had an early start and then went to back to bed. How was date night with Martin?" remembering Martin mentioning about a secret date that he had planned for Maxine and Bea arranging a few things for them to enjoy the night. 

"You knew? It was amazing, Bea. I'll get to that later. You should be preparing for this arvo."

"Okay. Hit me with it." 

"The team will be there at two to set up. By three pm, local time, I Am No Victim Episode 12 will air in its normal time slot in LA and as requested by our PR team, it's your turn to do a live tweet while the episode airs. Standard Q&A from the fandom, they have been waiting to hear from the creator herself. The team is targeting a trending hashtag, something like #AskBea or #AskIANV." Maxine explained, flawlessly as always. 

"They do know that I absolutely have no idea how to use that damn bird app, right?" Bea scoffed, her technologically-challenged self was doubting how she'll pull off this one. I wish Deb was around

"And that's why we are setting up at two. The team can handle the tech, you just need to be you."

"Fine. Two it is." Bea gave in, atleast she'll have the tech aspect off her to-do list. 

Maxine held back her clear amusement at her boss. "And one other thing, I've emailed a list of flights for Melbourne for Monday or Tuesday and a shortlist of hotels near University of Melbourne for your accommodations. I'll handle the bookings, I'll just need your confirmation and if Carly and Allie will be joining you and Debbie. "

"I'll look over them and I'll need to ask Debbie and Allie for that. Thank you, Maxi." 

"No worries, Bea. That's the only agenda for today. See you later." 

 

After hanging up, she opened Debbie's messages next. Her daughter sent her a beach photoshoot with her friends. She looked so happy than she'd ever been and Bea strongly feels that Debbie will most likely want to stay here in Sydney. 

She opened Allie's messages right after and just like the blonde anticipated, Bea was blushing the moment she read her messages. It still feels unreal, how Allie could bring out all these emotions from her. She could have sworn that her heart had already closed itself off from anyone but Allie just makes it so easy for her to want to try again. 

Still mildly blushing, she sent Allie a reply. 

Then call me needy too, cause guess what? I miss you. 

Our PR teams coming around two, something about livetweeting on showday, whatever that means.  

After sending the message, Bea went out of her room for the first order of business: coffee. 

 

 

 

At around eleven, Bridget had a working lunch meeting with the network executives on the 10th floor and arrived a little early as she was still the only person in the conference room. 

She was looking out of the window, enjoying the spectacular view when she looked down at the carpark and saw Franky talking to an attractive and certainly younger looking woman. 

She wanted to look away because she could feel the jealousy brimming and its annoying her more because they are not even together. It makes absolutely no sense for her to be feeling this way. 

And when Franky took out her phone and gave it to the blonde young woman, she felt irritated. 

"Securing her number, I see. Fine. I don't care." she spat out, clearly irked, with an annoyed eye roll to boot. 

"Miss Westfall" the intern called out from the doorway of the conference room. "Meeting will start in five minutes at the other room. They asked me to get you."

She moved away from the window just in time to see Franky get in her car and pull out of the carpark. 


The lunch meeting was stressful to say the least and Bridget was about ready to just get home and maybe have a drink or ten. She had a tough day and she just wants to get some much needed rest. She was waiting mindlessly at the lifts and when the doors opened, there was only a single person inside, she immediately went in for the short descent.

It was only when she pressed the ground floor button that she realised that the young woman beside her was the same woman that Franky was talking with at the carpark. Just my luck! she groaned internally. 

She discreetly studied her so-called competition and she has to admit that this young blonde woman really was pretty. 

Against her better judgment she bit the proverbial bullet. "Hey, I haven't seen you around here, are you new?" 

"Yes hi, I'm starting next week." The young woman answered nervously. 

"I had a job offer with the Talents Acquisition Manager up on the 12th." 

"Good on ya then!" Bridget was genuinely happy for her. Landing a job in this economy is a celebration on its own, regardless of whatever this may mean between her and Franky. 

"Thank you, it's been a rough year. Between my mom getting in an accident and me being in between jobs for months now, I really needed this win." she confessed, the words pouring out almost immediately.  

"Sorry, I'm yapping. This is the second time this day." she said sheepishly. 

"It's alright. Let it all out." Bridget encouraged the nervous blonde. 

"Just one shitstorm after another. I broke my phone on the way here and then I got locked out of my car while my keys and wallet were still inside. I almost didn't make it for my interview." 

They stepped out of the lifts and they walked out together, Bridget wanted to know more. 

Is that why Franky was talking to her? 

And before the young woman can continue her story, the receptionist came up to them. 

"Hey miss, yeah uhm, Miss Franky left this for you." 

The receptionist handed her a set of car keys and gave a small nod to Bridget and then hurriedly went back to his post. 

"You know Franky?" Bridget asked, the curiousity was getting the best of her. 

"No, not really but she's a godsent. She saw me having a mini-meltdown at the carpark. After explaining everything, she offered to get the spare key at my mom's place. You see my mom's still recovering and in a wheelchair and she can't get to me." she explained, her eyes welling with tears now. 

"Franky said I should get to my interview and she'll take care of it. She gave me her phone so I could send a message to my mom that she'll pick up the spare. She even called the reception to vouch for me so I could get to my interview on the 12th floor. They wouldn't let me in because all my ID cards were inside the car."

"She didn't hesitate. She just genuinely wanted to help. Said I reminded her of her niece." she explained feeling grateful that a total stranger went out of her way to help her out. 

Bridget was out of words. The whole time, when all signs were letting her believe that Franky was doing one thing and then finding out how selfless she actually was to help a stranger out. 

You really can't judge a book by it's cover, she mused. It's these things that people do when they think no one is watching that shows their true character. 

Bridget felt as though she owes Franky an apology eventhough all of her thoughts were just confined within the four corners of her head. 

As Bridget waved the young girl goodbye, she took out her phone and sent Franky a long overdue invitation. 

Are you free? Drinks are on me. 

Almost immediately, she gets a reply. 

Franky
I'm swinging by Red's this arvo but after that I'm all yours, baby! 

Franky's reply made Bridget instantly chuckle. She was shaking her head at the enigma that is Franky Doyle. How one who seemed to be so full of herself and can't seem to take anything seriously can turn into a totally selfless human being, remains as such a mystery and Bridget is dying to find out more. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 31
Ask Bea

 

"It's just twitter, how hard can it be?" Bea muttered under her breath as she trudged the long corridor down on the 12th floor, a few floors below her suite, in search of the small function room that Maxine reserved for the team.

Even after seven years of being a showrunner with three award winning shows under her belt, Bea still dreads these social media engagements and if she could help it, prefers other producers, creatives and mostly the PR and marketing teams of the network to handle them. 

And precisely because of her inherent reclusiveness that made Bea Smith more appealling, more mysterious to the media and to their audience that there was an actual campaign for her to go online before the season finale airs. 

In furthering the efforts to push for the renewal of I Am No Victim, they lobbyied for the showrunner to do the live tweet of the penultimate episode herself, thus explains the unique state that she found herself in. 

As she opened the door of Rizal Hall, she was not expecting the almost election-campaign-sortie type of set up from her PR team. 

There were three massive monitors put up by the team, one was projecting the Twitter timeline of the official account of I Am No Victim, the second one was the verified account of Bea Smith which Maxine had set up a few years back that Maxine herself handles and the third one was a real-time algorithm tracker of sorts to monitor their social media engagements. 

Sprawled on the glass conference table where four laptops manned individually by the Account Director from the advertising agency, their Content Strategist and two junior creatives. 

At the far left corner of the room, near the windows, was where the caterer set up some food for the team. Bea always made sure that there's food available at every meeting and this was no exception. 

She was greeted warmly by everyone with Maxine leading the pack. 

"Am I up for re-election?" she asked her approaching EA with an edgy tone. Her hand pointing at the huge monitors. 

"Too much?" Maxine handed her coffee with a knowing smile. 

"Ya think?" she scoffed and took the offered cup. Bea seemed more amused than annoyed really.

"Sorry boss." Mark, their Content Strategist piped up as he made his way towards his bosses. "All this is actually necessary" He said apologetically, pointing at their impressive set up. 

"Shall we start with the brief, Bea? We need to prep you on our target numbers for the renewal." Rose Atkins, their Account Director stressed and at the same time, pulled out the head seat at the table, urging Bea to take her place. 

Bea squared her shoulders and slowly inched her way to her seat. She was silent, pursing her lips and from the look that she's giving Maxine, she's not particularly excited about all this. 

After everyone has settled on their respective places, Rose took charge of the brief, explaining in great detail their strategies, the next steps and their timings. 

"For a hashtag to trend, it needs two things: first, number of tweets containing that particular combination of words and second, number of users tweeting it. So it's not just frequency but frequency and consistency at a certain time frame." she explained calmly, making sure to keep her eye contact with their hot boss. 

"Shelf life of a trending topic averages about ten minutes. And based on their algorithm, that's achievable if a hashtag reaches roughly around 2000 tweets from 900 users for that 6pm to 12mn timeslot LA time. We reach that, we get to trend. And it follows that as the engagement increases, the staying power of our hashtag increases too." 

Rose coached Bea on how to navigate twitter properly and what kinds of tweets that she should brace herself for. She was given a warning to not engage with mean tweets, which most probably she will encounter as they live tweet the episode. 

Their Account Director was intensely hands on, hovering at Bea at every possible turn. Eagerly answering any and all of her questions and the ever so observant Maxine, who must have been a clairvoyant in another life, picked up quickly on Rose's subtle flirting. She's got the hots for their boss. And as usual, Bea was oblivious in all of it. 

After the short briefing, Bea was having a conversation with Maxine when the door burst open. 

“Where's mum?” Debbie barged in dramatically followed closely by a laughing Carly. 

Bea quickly got up on her feet, rushing to meet her daughter. "What are you doing here, sweetheart?" she asked as Debbie gave her mom a bone-crushing hug. She really did miss her mom. 

"I asked Aunt Maxi if we could crash your twitter party. Said it was okay." she confessed, giving her mom her sweetest and most adorable pout, hoping that she'll let them stay. 

"Oh did she?" Bea turned around to see Maxine quietly giggling on her seat. The meeting was informal and there's no risk of leaking confidential information, so she immediately agreed to share their location with Bea's adorable daughter. 

"And besides mum, who better to help you navigate social media than me and Carly." she said smugly making Bea laugh instantly. 

"I have to agree, Bea. They do know the twitter lingo better." Rose insisted, miraculously appearing behind Bea, patting Bea's shoulder. Her hand lingering a tad bit longer to be considered innocent. 

The gesture wasn't lost on the curly brunette who was eyeing this stranger suspiciously. 

"Hi, you must be Debbie." Rose asked in a cheery voice. She wanted to make an impression. 

"Yes, hello!" Debbie answered politely. She always did have a sixth sense on people interested in her mom and right now, this new person is giving off some familiar vibes. 

After making the introductions, Debbie and Carly got some food before settling on the empty seats in front of Bea. 

"Hey Aunt Bea! Are you ready for the Twitterverse?" Carly asked curiously as she took a small bite of the chocolate cake. 

"I'm good. Just simple Q&A. I'm sure I'll do just fine." she beamed at Carly, pleased that the dynamic duo has joined them this arvo. 

"Oh no, Aunt Bea." Carly stopped eating. 

"Mum! There's twitter and then there's stan twitter." Debbie explained, her face was dead serious. 

"Stan Twitter is a whole different universe Aunt Bea!” Carly tried to elaborate. 

“It’s hilarious but vicious” 

“Yes mum, it’s light and love and then next minute, you’re in the darkest pit of hell.” Debbie added hoping that her mom would pick up on what they're trying to say. 

“You're not giving me much to work with, sweetheart.” Bea was definitely confused, isn't twitter simply like any other social media platform? 

Debbie stood up and moved around the table to get to her mom. "Okay don't panic. Thank god, we're here." 


Ten minutes before three o'clock, Rose was giving out final instructions. 

"We are sticking to questions about the show. We will avoid engaging in fandom wars, obviously we don't want to create tension between and among fans."

"For sensitive and highly personal questions, Bea has free reigns to answer." she looked at Bea, trying to catch her eyes but Bea was glued to the monitors. 

"Ofcourse we have the team here, if we need to scrub up the response."

"You're censuring me?" questioned Bea, clearly irked. The mere thought of someone putting words into her mouth rubbed her the wrong way. 

"Not to censure, more for sensitivity, semantics." Rose clarified, feeling the tension coming off from the redhead. 

"That's a relief." Maxine mediated, intending to descalate the situation. "The last thing we need is for Bea to get cancelled on twitter."


And while the meeting was starting to heat up, two unexpected visitors managed to sneakily enter the conference room and were  hanging back by the door, waiting for the opportune time to make their presence known. 

"Don’t mention any bad thing about BTS, the Army WILL drag you." Debbie was giving her final advise to Bea. 

“Whose Army? What BTS?" She asked, rubbing her temples. She could already feel the headache coming and they haven't even started yet. 

“Pop group from South Korea, mum!”

"And mum, if their pronouns are in their bio, use the correct pronouns when you reply. Don't misgender people."

"Don't be a dick, Red!" Franky hollered from behind them. "Don't misgender people." 

The startled group turned around to find a smirking Franky walking towards them. 

Bea was first to stand up. "What are you doing here?" 

"I'm here for a front row seat of you getting your ass roasted online. This should be fun."

"You're so full of shit. Just sit down yeah. There's food right there, get yourself something to eat. 

She was about to introduce Franky to the team when she heard a voice from behind Franky, that sweet angelic voice that Bea would recognize anywhere. 

"Hey Bea!" Allie who was hanging back a few meters away, greeted sweetly, her whole face lighting up as soon as she locked eyes with the beautiful redhead. 

"And oh, I brought back up" Franky whispered as she gave the reluctant Bea a quick hug and then went straight to Maxine, leaving the two behind. 

"Allie!" she rasped, feeling a strange warmth under her collar. Am I coming down with a fever? she thought. 

Bea walked towards Allie, closing the small gap. "You should be sleeping by now?" 

"Guess I missed you that much." Allie whispered and quickly place a tiny peck on Bea's left cheek, instantly making the redhead blush. 

"F-fine.. uhm.. after this, straight to bed, yes? You've only managed three hours of sleep." Bea stuttered, almost losing her train of thought. She could still feel Allie's lips on her cheek even after she'd pull back. 

"Is that a proposal, Bea?" Allie asked cheekily, winking at the blushing redhead. 

"I-uh-huh?" 

"We're ready to start, Bea." Rose called a little too forcefully,  interrupting their mini-reunion. 

To everyone else in the room, the request seemed natural, innocent even but to Maxine, Debbie and even Franky, the tone was loaded, strong and with a subtle hint of spite. 

"Come with me." Bea gently grabbed Allie's hand and ushered her to where the entire team was. 

After introducing Allie and Franky to the them, exchanging hugs with Maxine, Debbie and Carly, they all gathered around the table and took their own seats. 

Before the arrival of their two guests, Maxine was sitting on Bea's right side, like they do on most meetings but when Rose saw Bea clutching the blonde's hand, she unceremoniously usurped Maxine's place so she could be near the redhead. 

Instead of making a scene, Maxine graciously moved her stuff across the table, to sit next to Debbie and Carly. Thus Bea was sitting between Rose on her right and Allie on her left. Franky was right, this should be fun, Maxine quietly mused. 

Allie wanted to stay back and out of the way as Bea and her team worked but Bea held her hand like it's the most natural thing to do and hasn't let go of her since. 

The blonde didn't know how comfortable Bea was with public displays of affection, especially that some people from work were with them but Bea seemed so unbothered, it made her feel at ease too. Moving her chair closer to the redhead, she expected Bea to flinch but instead, Bea held her hand tighter and gave her that dashing smile, making her knees buckle a little. 

While Allie was feeling all sorts of happy right now, Rose was miffed by it all, that annoyed eyeroll gave it away. 

Debbie and Carly were happily giggling in front of them, Franky and Maxine were exchanging those knowing looks, while the rest of the team started manning their stations. 

 

The timeline of Bea Smith's twitter account was in full view of everyone and it was agreed that one of the junior creatives will handle the account and all Bea had to do was dictate her reply. At exactly three o'clock, they sent out the first tweet. 

Bea Smith @beasmith
#IAmNoVictim starts now! Tweet me your questions using #AskBea

They waited for a few moments for the tweet to get more engagements and after a while, the deluge of tweets started pouring in. 

At the first few minutes, the tweets focused on the story arcs of the show and the directions that they were going. Innocent. Mild. Respectful. And Bea was responding calmly, even having a laugh or two at some of the funnier ones. 


Selena @loseyoutoloveme
Do you have a favourite scene in the entire season? #askbea

Alanis @yououghtaknow 
How long does it take to write an episode? #AskBea

Tiffany @ itsthelovernotthelove
#AskBea Who was your favourite relationship for Tamika?


"Can you answer that one?" Franky pointing at a particular tweet on the screen. "That one from twitter user @foreversnotenough?" 

Sarah @foreversnotenough
Will anyone die this season and is it gonna be Tamika? #AskBea

They all started laughing, the tweet was a hoot. 

"I might as well give out the ending there yeah but let's give Sarah something." 

@foreversnotenough Good hustle but you don't really want to know. 

"That's a good one. Engaging without giving anything away. That's funny, Bea. You're funny." Rose complimented with an exaggerated laugh to boot. 

Debbie almost choked on the water she was drinking while Maxine was trying to hide her cackle with a fake cough. 

Allie was eyeing Franky with a what-the-fuck-was-that look. 

"uh thanks." Bea said awkwardly. 

"Bea, how about that one from @takemetochurch?" Mark chimed in, moving the conversation along. 

Hozier @takemetochurch
What drink do I need to get through this episode tonight? #AskBea

"A damn strong one but if you’re under age, skip it mate!" quipped Bea without losing a beat. 

It was going great for a few minutes more. They were prepared for the mean, nasty and vile tweets but only a few materialize and they certainly didn't expect the tone of following tweets to come. 

"Oh no no no!" Debbie piped up, shaking he head. Her eyes still focused on the timeline on the screen. 

"Oh god!" the usually poised Maxine was glued on the screen too, making Bea finally look up to what they were reading. 

She could hear Franky cracking up as she reads the next tweets. 

Leona @bleedinglove
Bea Smith belongs in a museum. I said what I said. #AskBea

"Huh? Did she just call me a fossil? Who's that pissy face?" hissed Bea feeling a tiny bit vexed. 

But Debbie was quick to explain. "No mum, it's not that at all."

Rose pivoted to face Bea completely. She lightly squeezed Bea's arm to get her attention. "It means that you're a national treasure. You're too precious for this world. You must be protected at all cost." she expounded with gusto that one would think that it was a confession in disguise. 

And with that little too passionate declaration, the entire room went eerily silent. 

Maxine bowed her head, unable to look at the showdown that's about to breakout any second. 

Carly covered her entire face with her hand, trying her very best not to burst out laughing. Rose is about to be schooled, big time

Franky eased into her chair, getting more comfortable. And from the feral look that Allie has on, there's about to be fireworks going off any time soon. 

Debbie was still shocked, her mouth hung open. Her eyes shifting from the smug looking Rose to the pissed off looking Allie, with her mom still clueless and intently scanning the tweets flashing on the screens. 

Even the two junior creatives stopped typing, they were left puzzled at what their Account Director said to their boss. Mark was, just like Bea, unfazed by the entire exchange and was mindlessly reading the screens. 

Allie was seething. Did she just cracked on to Bea in front of me? She was seconds away from smacking some sense back to this thirsty idiot practically drooling after her woman. 

"Pfft. Right. M'kay." Bea huffed, casually dismissing the compliment. "Thought that little missy was having a go at me."

Allie must have gripped Bea's hand a tad bit tighter, it made Bea turn her head to look at the blonde beside her. 

There was a troubled expression on Allie that she didn't recognize and with one swift move, she shifted her body to be closer to Allie. With her free hand, Bea reached out and gently caressed her cheek. 

"Tired?" she whispered, leaning closer so only Allie could hear, she was so close, their nose were almost touching. 

Maybe it was Bea's soft voice or her delicate touch or the way that  Bea's was being openly affectionate that effectively and almost immediately fizzled out the embers of rage burning inside her merely seconds ago. 

Bea tapped her shoulder, a gesture for Allie to lean her head there if she wants to, and the sulking blonde eagerly complied, snuggling closer to the redhead. It doesn't matter if she looked needy as fuck, when this hot redhead goddess looks at you the way she's looking at Allie, you'd melt instantly too. 

"How about me, Red? No love for Franky?" teased Franky, playfully batting her eyelashes at her bestfriend. And just like that,  everyone in the room was laughing again. 

Bea whipped her head to give Franky her death stare, while Allie was smugly giggling, seemed pleased with herself. 

Rose simply rolled her eyes and went back to checking something on her laptop. 

Mark's nervous voice snapped everyone out of that laughing fit, pointing at one of the screens. 

"Err.. boss, you might want to skip these ones right here."

"Oh boy, here we go!" Maxine leaned closer to the table, bracing herself. It's about to go nuclear. 

Bea squeezed Allie's hand for a little bit of comfort too and then finally, she looked up at the screens and read them one by one. 

Kylie @especiallyforyou
God is a woman and her name is Bea Smith. #askbea

Sam @toogoodatgoodbyes
#AskBea Bea Smith is a total snacc. 

Hale @thedayyousaidgoodnight
I'm 100% sure Bea Smith invented bone structure. #AskBea

Jann @insensitive
All I want in life is to be smothered by Bea Smith's thighs. Thank you for coming to my Ted talk. #AskBea #iamnovictim

Camila @neverbethesame
Bea Smith can run me over with a lawn mower and I am totes okay with that. #AskBea

"What the fuck?" Bea was shaking her head now. She's not sure whether she should be flattered or annoyed. 

She felt embarrassed, she's not used to this type of attention. "Why would you say that? Why would anyone say that?  She rubbed her temples, it was starting to stress her out. 

"It gets better, Red! Let me read this bit from Ava @sweetbutpsycho"  

Not to be thirsty on main but ma'am can I climb you like a tree? Respectfully. #AskBea #iamnovictim 

"Ah shit!" Maxine eyes went wild as she read the tweet again. 

Debbie playfully elbowed Franky's rib to cut it out. 

"It happens, Bea. Sorry about that." Mark tried to neutralize the situation but Bea remain quiet. 

Allie could feel the tension radiating from Bea and instinctively, she moved to catch Bea's eyes and when the redhead finally looked at her, she whispered. 

"She did ask… you know.. respectfully." Allie teased, biting her lower lip seductively and then wiggling her eyebrows comically making Bea instantly crack up. 

And everyone started laughing too, shifting the intense mood of the room back to a lighter one. 

After regaining her wits, Bea mouthed a silent thank you to Allie. That meeting could have easily turned sideways and she's grateful for Allie's ability to make everything less daunting for her. Everything seems better with her. 

And the blonde simply winked at her, making her heart leap out of her chest just like that. 

They continued reading the tweets, answering some that are less thirsty or mean. Another on popped out that made everyone roar with laughter 

Roxette @itmusthavebeenlove
Not an #AskBea but Bea Smith can choke me, slice me open with her jaw and I'd be like, thank you daddy!"

“I’m pretty sure blondie ghost tweeted that last one.” Franky jabbed still half laughing. 

“Oh yeah, let me see who’s the little shit! What’s the twitter handle.” Allie was fiddling with her phone, half way through logging in on twitter. 

But Bea yanked her phone and placed in on the table. "Let it go." 

"Fine" she huffed and then moved closer to whisper in her ear. "Well you really are a snacc, I can't really blame them, can I?" she teased the now blushing redhead. 

Bea glared at Allie for less than a second and rolled her eyes making the blonde giggle even more. 

"Can we PLEASE get some tweets that I can actually reply to?" 

"How about that one Bea?" Maxine pointing at the top most  tweet in her timeline. 

Sheena @almostoveryou
I sexually identify as Bea Smith's jawline #AskBea #iamnovictim

"How do you like to respond, Bea? asked Rose, eagerly waiting for an answer. 

"I'd say, live your truth. That okay?" 

"Pretty clever. It's a go for me." Mark instructed one of their juniors to go ahead and then move to the next. 

Ed @savemyself
What was the hardest scene to write? #askBea

"Trapped in the storage unit in Season 1." Bea mumbled impulsively but it was only Allie that heard her answer. 

"Bea?" Maxine asked, seeing the change in Bea's expression. 

"Can you say that again, Bea?" Rose moved closer to hear better. 

"Uhm.. Yeah, I mean, uhm.  Scenes depicting violence. It messes with your psyche and inner balance." she buckled a little but managed to save it in the end. 

"That's a great response, Bea." encouraged Rose and instructed the juniors to send it out. 

Bea held Allie's hand tighter in an effort to ground herself, and it must have worked because in a matter of seconds, she's feeling normal again. 

"Hold on, we have some good news." Rose jumped to her feet, her voice sounded excited. 

"Can you pull out that feed and flash it up here?" she instructed one of the juniors to set it up. 

"Our techies here told me that we've managed to land on the Top Trending topics for the last 20 minutes and counting in over four countries."

"Fucking finally!" Mark yelled, feeling victorious. 

"Yes! This is great news!" Maxine added excitedly, looking at her own analytics. 

"We still have the rewatches, the delayed telecast in other countries, we're more than good. We've hit our mark!" Rose was ecstatic, their campaign paid off. 

There were cheers and applause in the entire room and everyone felt pretty good about the outcome. 

"We still have ten minutes more Bea, do you want to continue?" 

"Go for it." 

Christina @jarofhearts
#askbea i'mma be out here clownin til you make my ship canon #iamnovictim

"Clownin' is it's own reward." Bea said with a hearty laugh. 

"You're getting good at this mum!" Debbie voicing out her  approval. 
 
FRANKY IS DADDY @frankydoyle
Bea Smith on twitter is my new kink. #AskBea #iamnovictim

"Jesus Doyle!" Bea hissed at her bestfriend. 

"What? I'm helping out." Franky raised her hands up, feigning surrender. 

"She did use the official hashtags" Mark defended earning a high five from the smug looking director. 

"Okay last tweet before we sign off is probably this one."

Meghan @nicetomeetya
Most exciting ride you’ve ever been? #AskBea

“Riding a Harley again, that’s one.” Bea shared proudly, remembering that short ride with Allie holding on to her that night. Maybe we should ride again

“I’m pretty sure driving an emergency ambulance tops that list.” Franky blurted out, absent mindedly but instantly regretted it when she saw a flash of panic on the redhead's eyes. 

"Ah shit. Sorry, Red!" 

“Nah it's alright. It was a long time ago." she huffed, giving Franky a small nod, accepting her apology. 

“I didn’t know you used to be an EMT, Bea.” Rose probed, suddenly curious. 

“I wasn’t. It was uhm.. we were helping someone out."

Keen to find of more, Mark made a pitch, he can't help it really. "There's got to be a story there boss. We put a nice spin to it, send it out to a few media outlets and within 24 hours, boom! We get to trend. Better the optics, better the numbers."

"No. No spin doctors, no PR stunts. I mean it, Mark!" Bea warned, she was dead serious. 

Mark bowed out. Bea had the final say, it was her call anyway. 

Not wanting to sound like a total dick, and she could still feel the questions burning in their eyes, Allie's too, she gave them an olive branch. "Fine. I'll tell you what happened but this doesn't leave this room. Got it?" 

Once everyone agreed, Bea started. "Half of you already know this anyway. This was back in 2013."

"To make a long story short, we were on our way to ICC to attend the awards night of that film festival."

"Maris Equi International Film Festival" Maxine filling up some details for context. 

"Yes. That one."

"It was around seven in the evening, we were about to exit, I think freeway 25, when we saw this ambulance stranded on the side of the road."

"Ambulance 1012" Debbie chimed in. 

"You remember, Deb?" her daughter simply nodded. 

"We pulled over, see if we could help out in anyway." 

Allie was intently listening. Hanging on to Bea's every word. It's always such a treat to learn something new about her beautiful Bea. She's starting to believe that helping people out is like second nature to her. 

"The paramedic was calling for a backup ambulance, apparently they were transporting a patient who OD'd but halfway there, her partner, the one driving the ambulance had suffered a seizure while driving but managed to at least pull them off the road."

"Such bad luck ey?" Mark leaned forward eager to hear more. 

"We thought so too but at that moment, time was of the essence. I offered to drive while she administer first aid to her patients at the back. I drove the ambulance to St. Lukes and then that's it."

"Are you sure you don't want a write up on this, boss? The press will eat it up bigtime!" Mark tried again. 

"Shut it! Not a peep, ya hear?" 

"Got it, boss!" Mark raised a thumbs up, giving in finally. 

Bea deliberately omitted the events that transpired after rushing the ambulance to St. Lukes, about the horrible accident that happened later that night that resulted to the Harry's instant death and her week-long hospital stay. 

She figured that it wasn't anyone else's business to know about the rest of that story and the ones who matter to her already knew what happened except for Allie. It was something that she'd share with Allie hopefully soon, when she's ready, that is. 

Allie was a little lost in her own thoughts. There was something about Bea's story that rattled her to the core. She kept hearing Bea's voice saying a patient who OD'd, over and over. 

She can't explain it but it felt as though in that story, she was not an innocent bystander but somehow she was there, she actually lived it. She was wracking her brain so hard, it was making her head hurt. 

After the live tweet, Allie made the excuse to head home. She really wanted to stay and hang out with Bea but her headache was getting worse by the minute. Bea insisted to give her a ride. 

On the drive home, Allie was too quiet and Bea put it down to the blonde being tired, she had been up since one in the morning.

"I'm sorry the live tweet ran longer than expected, you could have been resting by now." Bea apologised, noticing how tired Allie's eyes were. 

Allie held a hand up. "It's not that Bea. It's not that at all. Your story about the ambulance, it felt familiar somehow."

"Familiar how?" 

Allie shrugged not knowing how to answer Bea, and the throbbing of her head was making it hard to concentrate. 

"It's alright, Al. We'll figure it out. Right now, you need to get some rest." she reached for Allie's hand and held it tight. 

 


"Stay for a while?" Allie tentatively asked as she was opening the door to her flat. Her voice sounded tired, almost in pain and Bea wasn't planning on leaving until she was sure that Allie was okay. 

Allie lead Bea to the bedroom and ask for her to wait there as she changed into something more comfortable. 

While Allie was changing and freshing up in the bathroom, her mind kept replaying Bea's story over and over. She can't seem to shake this weird feeling, like a trippy deja vu and it's making her head hurt. 

She heard two soft knocks on the door and Bea's voice from the other side. "Everything good, Al?" 

Allie had spent a long time inside the bathroom that Bea was starting to get worried. 

She opened the door and melted instantly when she sees Bea leaning by the door frame, with her arms wide open, inviting Allie in. 

Allie launched herself into Bea's warm embrace. She buried her face into the crook of Bea's neck and inhaled deeply her sweet sweet scent. She trailed soft kisses on Bea's neck, slowly making her way to her strong jaw, she could hear the cute soft moans coming from Bea's mouth urging her on. She continued moving up to capture Bea's lips into a deep hot kiss. 

They pulled back for that much needed air and started giggling. They stood there for a while, wrapped in each other arms, swaying left to right to a slow tune that only they could hear. 

They were still doing their little dance when Allie softly spoke. "I'm still thinking about your story. They got really lucky you guys helped out."

"I'm sure anyone would have done the same. I can drive, that's the only thing I can do for them." Bea whispered to her ear. 

I can drive. 

I can drive. 

I can drive

Then all of a sudden, the words were swirling around her head, repeating over and over. At first it was in Bea's raspy voice, and then it morphed into in a different voice, a muffled voice. 

"Wha'd you say Bea?" she stopped moving, she had a panicked look in her eyes. 

"That's the only thing I can do?" Bea repeated, she was carefully studying Allie's face. She's definitely worried now. 

"No, before that." Allie insisted. 

"I can drive"

And then it hit Allie, like sledge hammer to the head, shaking her to the very core. In a split second, she was back again inside the ambulance. 

The white round lights blinding her vision, the IV bag thrashing above her, the unconscious man on the next bed. And then that faint muffled voice from somewhere saying "I can drive!" 

And as quickly as it came, she was pulled back to the present by the only voice that could ground her, calling her name. "Allie! Allie!" 

"Bea!" she huffed breathlessly. 

"I'm here, what's wrong?" She was cradling Allie's face, her thumb caressing her cheeks while her palm's feeling Allie's throat, checking if there's something blocking her air ways. 

"You! You were.." she started to explain but was running out of breath.

"Breathe, Al." Bea guides Allie to sit on the edge of the bed. She was breathing with Allie, encouraging to match her pace. 

It must have worked because Allie's breathing was starting to sound normal. 

"You were in my dream, Bea." Allie confessed, her voice was still shaky. 

"But it wasn't just a dream, it was a memory." 

Allie stood up and reached for her bag. She took out her phone and with trembling hands she quickly googled Maris Equi International Film Festival 2013 dates and read the results. 

Documentary Premiers May 3-4, 2013 with the awards night held on May 5, 2013.

"May 5, 2013, mom's death anniversary. The second year, where I.. That can't be right?" Allie mumbled to herself. 

Bea was seriously confused. "What's going on Al?" 

"I can't be sure but.."

She rushed out of the room but came back quickly even before Bea could follow her out. She was holding a medium sized cardboard box and placed in on the bed. 

Bea noticed the writing on the side, Ma's. Maybe it was from Liz. 

Allie felt a sharp pain in her chest and the loud pounding of her blood on her ears but she kept going. She was getting dizzy by the minute but she pushed through. 

Her shaky hands were rummaging the documents that Liz kept for her. Every letter, certificate, every photo, everything that was in anyway related to Allie, she kept in this box. Even when Allie took off, she kept all documents safe. 

Finally she found what she was looking for. Her discharge papers from that time she overdosed and eventhough she wasn't living with Liz at that time, her emergency contact was still under Liz' name so when she was admitted, they contacted Liz immediately. And Liz kept all the documents related to her hospitalization, it was all there. 

She opened the envelope, and carefully read the document inside. 

It contained the blue insignia and black bold letters St. Luke's Hospital as its header. 

Date/Time of admission: May 5, 2013 / 7:08pm.

"awards night of that film festival."

"It was around seven in the evening" 

There was a scribbled handwriting on the notes portion of the document. 

***EMT Davis suffered seizure during transit of patient. Ambulance unit 1012 was stranded off freeway 25 for 8 minutes causing the delay of primary treatment. Both patient and EMT Davis were admitted at 7:08pm.

"had suffered a seizure while driving" 

"Ambulance 1012"

"I think freeway 25"

Allie spun around to hand Bea the document she was clutching. She felt her stomach drop and the uncontrollable shaking of her hands. She staggered backward, her vision completely blurry now, her sense of hearing fading out and suddenly everything went black. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 32
The Jig Is Up

 

"Allie, Allie" 

At first, all Allie could hear were distorted noises from a distance. Then it morphed into a faint whisper coming somewhere above. The sound was getting closer and louder by the second. Until finally, she hears a voice, her mind registering that distinct raspy voice of Bea calling her name. 

She blinked once... twice... her eyes squinted as it adjusted to the light. The blurriness faded slowly, her vision regaining focus. 

"Can you hear me?" Bea's voice was strong, serious and slightly panicked, coming from somewhere below, near her feet. 

She tried to answer but all that came out was a throaty grunt. 

Slowly she pushed herself up but Bea was quicker, attuned to her every move. 

"Stay down, Al. Give it a minute." Bea's warm hands gently holding down her shoulders to keep her from moving. 

She obeyed and stayed still, feeling her senses coming back to her. Glancing around, she sees the rattan pendant light panel hanging from the ceiling, this quirky number was so unique, she’s certain that she can only be inside her room. 

She realized too that she was on her bed, flat on her back. Moving her eyes further down, she could see Bea moving about, quickly stacking pillows under her feet, elevating her legs. 

After securing her legs, Bea move towards her bedside. Allie could see the serious look on Bea's face, her eyes intensely studying her facial features for any signs of injury. 

"Do you know where you are Allie?" she asked with a calm tone but the crease on her forehead meant business. 

"My room." Allie croaked out, feeling the dryness of her throat. 

"Do you know my name?" Bea continued, gauging Allie's verbal as well as motor responses. 

"Babe." She answered in a breathy voice. 

In a flash, she saw how her response had an instant effect on the redhead, clearly catching her off guard. Bea's pursed lips and furrowed forehead turned into a small smile and she's blushing hard.  

"Pfft. Close but it's actually Bea." Bea scoffed, shaking her head a little. Even in this state, she could still flirt, she silently mused. 

"No." Allie protested, pouting a little. She gingerly reached for Bea's face, cupping her strong jaw. She waited until those gorgeous brown orbs focused on her ocean blue ones. "Hey babe!" 

"H-Hi!" Bea almost choked, as she let's out an airy laugh, feeling all the tension leave her body. Allie's back. 

"Do you want to sit up?" Bea smiled back as Allie simply nodded.

"Hold on." 

Bea took Allie's arms and wrapped them securely around her neck. She then positioned her arm around Allie's back and gently lifted her up. She held Allie close while her other hand grabbed a couple more pillows to support her back as she moved her into a sitting position. 

To Allie's defence, she did try her hardest to not be a total perv while Bea was helping her out. She was briefly tempted to mindlessly suck on Bea's irresistible neck, but instead she settled with breathing in Bea's sweet scent, that citrus mixed with cedar wood notes that's distinctly Bea. Her actions made the redhead shiver on the spot. 

Pulling back, Bea eyed Allie suspiciously, while the blonde looked like the poster girl for everything that is pure and innocent in this world. 

Bea simply rolled her eyes and handed a water bottle to the now giggling Allie. "Drink up."

"Thank you, Bea. How long was I out?" popping the cap and taking a small sip. 

"Not long, seconds really."

"And my feet?" flexing them giddly while still resting on top of the stacked pillows. Her antics reminding Bea of a young Debbie. 

"First aid training, elevate the feet, helps with blood circulation." Bea briefly looked at Allie's feet, bouncing up and down the pillows and smiled to herself. 

"What happened, Al?" she asked as she turned her head to face the blonde again. 

Allie huffed, trying to recall what exactly happened to her. "I was.. uhm.."

"There's this paper." she snapped her fingers suddenly remembering everything, the information rushing through her again but with less force this time. 

"Wait, let me get it." Bea stood up to collect the document that Allie handed her awhile back, which was now somewhere on the floor. 

Bea picked it up and skimmed the content. "This is your discharge papers from St. Luke's Hospital." 

"Check the date and time of admission and then read the notes at the bottom portion." Allie instructed as Bea headed back to Allie's side. 

Bea quickly read the document in her hand and even before she reached Allie, she paused, realising finally the significance of this document. 

"That was me, Bea. The patient inside the ambulance." Allie crossed her arms over her chest, suddenly feeling vulnerable and too exposed. 
 
"H-how i-is t-this even possible?" stuttered Bea, her knees slowly losing strength. She needed to sit down else she'll topple over. 

"I-I uhm still can't believe this!" Allie admitted, patting the empty space on the bed beside her, inviting Bea to sit down. 

"I'm reading this and I still can't wrap my head around it." Bea sat next to Allie, her back resting on the headboard, with one leg on the bed, slightly bending it for comfort and the other hanging on the side. She was still in her jeans and shirt, not the most comfortable clothes to wear in bed. 

"You saving Debbie, finding out about the house and then this?" Bea raked her wild curls a little aggressively, her mind still catching up on the information overload. 

"We're more connected than we think." Allie reached for Bea's hand, halting her actions and interlaced their fingers, resting them both on her thigh. 

Bea turned her head only to catch Allie's ocean eyes staring at her. "Fucking universe doing our heads in." she blurted out.

They held their gaze in silence. Their eyes saying to each other an entire spectrum of emotions starting from utterly confused and ending with complete surrender, far more than their words could ever convey. 

The entire day has been one hell of a ride for them both and it was apparent in Allie's eyes how much it drained her, physically and mentally. "Do you need to lie down?"  

Snuggling closer to Bea, she whispered softly. "I just need you." 

Bea moved her position so that they were both comfortably lying on the bed. And just like the night before, Allie cuddled closer,  wrapping her arms around the redhead's waist and resting her head in Bea's chest. 

Bea smiled at how comfortable Allie has become with her and how much she missed having Allie this close again. She stroked Allie's back with one hand, while the other gently massaged the base of her neck. She could hear Allie's soft moans, followed shortly by her long, even and gentle breaths. 

She glanced at her watch, 4:30pm and then closed her eyes, allowing herself to finally sleep. 

 

 

Allie woke up to the delicious smell wafting from the kitchen. She opened her eyes and noticed that Bea was no longer in bed with her. Must have been cooking, she thought. She glanced at her watch 8:30 pm.  

She got up and made her way towards the kitchen where she could see Bea busy on the stove.

She leaned on the kitchen island counter so as not to spook the hot chef and to maybe openly gawk at Bea's tempting backside. “Whacha cookin, good lookin?”

“Does that ever work?” Bea casually shot back over her shoulder as she continued stirring the pan. 

Allie swiftly moved right next to Bea. “Is it working now?” 

Bea gave her a half shrug, making the blonde pout beside her. 

"I took the liberty of messing with your kitchen, I hope that’s alright."

"By all means. I haven’t had a home cooked meal in a while, if I’m being honest."

"Then you're in for a treat, this is Deb's comfort food. I figured you might want to have a go. Go on, take a seat, this is done."

After polishing off Bea's famous shrimp gnocchi in pomodoro sauce which Allie swears is her new favorite dish, they retreated to the living room where they sat comfortably on the couch nursing their own beers.

They were having a light conversation until finally, curiosity getting better of Bea, she asked what's been on her mind since she woke up. 

“What happened that night, Al?” she asked as she took a huge gulp of her beer. 

Allie hesitated at first, not really sure where to start.

Seeing the sudden panic in Allie's face, she held her hand up. “It's okay if you're not ready to tell me yet. Whatever it is, you know, it won’t change anything.”

Allie was quiet for a while, seemed to be contemplating on what to say next. She has been dreading for this day to come. Just when everything was going good too with Bea, now her past has reared it's ugly head, threatening to fuck up the only good thing in her life right now. 

She could almost hear Kaz voice in her head, replaying their conversation less than a week ago. 

To the right person, your past won't matter. You'll matter more, the person you are, not who you were.

If she can't accept you for who you are then she doesn't deserve you.

She closed her eyes for a minute, to shut out all the voices in her head except for her own, the one that wanted more than anything for Bea to see the real Allie. 

“What version do you want to hear, the short one or the long one?” Allie asked as she opened her already misty eyes. 

“The version that you’re most comfortable telling.” Bea answered in all honesty, beaming at the blonde beside her. 

Taking a huge swig at her own beer for courage, Allie began. “Remember that episode in Inmates where Becca saved another prisoner during that prison fire and she came out injured but alive? Well, the real life Rebecca... mom.. she wasn’t as lucky.”

Bea leaned in as Allie narrated the true accounts of what happened inside Wentworth on that fateful day.

A huge fire broke out in the correctional facility. It started in the laundry room where Rebecca was assigned during her work duty. One of the machines malfunctioned and exploded, causing serious injuries to some prisoners and screws.

Rebecca was last seen helping the other prisoners out but when the fire reached the adjacent boiler room, she got caught in the middle of the explosion and died instantly. 

“They told me that mom died a hero.” she paused and cleared her throat, feeling a small lump forming there. 

“It gave little comfort knowing that mom’s final deed was to save another life but it can never fill the crater size hole that it left in my heart.”

Allie’s heart broke for the second time; first, through the violence of her father, and second, through the death of her mother.

Allie was lost. She felt alone, again. All hopes of reuniting with her mother in the free world were reduced to ashes and burnt rubble. Feeling as though the world has crumbled in on her, she retreated back in to her own mind. She spoke to no one, she hardly left her room. 

“Liz would check up on me, but it was like she was talking to thin air.” 

Allie’s body was physically present but her mind too far gone. She has shut the world out, seeming as though she had checked out momentarily from the unbearable pain in her heart. 

She left home. She wanted out. She wanted to run, to forget, to make the gnawing pain inside her to just vanish. She kept walking with no destination in mind. And suddenly, it was night time and she found herself wandering in a dark alleyway. She wasn’t afraid of anything, she simply did not care anymore. 

Allie saw two women wearing tight clothes that left very little to the imagination. They were laughing as they walk unsteadily towards her without care in the world. She wanted that. She wanted whatever it is that made them so carefree. 

As they approached her, she asked them boldly, “Hey whatever it is that’s making you laugh like that, I want in.”

The women gave Allie a once-over. They had hazy looks in their eyes and both wore stupid grins. The shorter one whispered something to the ear of her friend and then made a hasty move towards Allie. 

She handed Allie a bag of ice. “First ones always free hun, come back to me if you need more” she pulled away and headed back to her friend, laughing as they left Allie in the dark. Allie looked at the small bag and knew exactly what it was. 

“Just this once, I’m just going to try this once” she psyched herself. 

“I need this, just for today and I’m done” she bargained. Allie settled herself in a dark corner, took out the bag and laid it out in a dirty newspaper she saw in the dumpster and split the white powder in three lines. She took out a bill and rolled it. She snorted the white powder, closed her eyes and a few moments later, she felt like she was flying.

“From that first taste, I became addicted. Not my proudest moment.” she looked away, fearing that she'll see how disappointed Bea probably was of her poor choices in life. 

She wanted more. She needed the high to make her forget. The darkness consumed her entire being, making her lose her job, her home and herself. 

“It.. uhm.. came to a point that I started selling… uh.. my body for gear." She mumbled, her voice fragile as though she wished she could take it all back.

"I didn’t care. I was happy, atleast, that’s what I thought that was. When I was high, I would feel invincible, that nothing and no one can hurt me anymore.” 

She could take the pain, the starvation, the cold, the abuses in her body from random men, the bashings of bastards who liked it rough. But every time the high wears off and she is pulled back to the ground as the harsh reality sets in, the guilt, disgust, regret, self loathing and the pain – that unbearable pain, she finds herself chasing the high again – to fly, to forget, to feel invincible no matter how fleeting it always was.

“I was in a dark cycle. At one point I’ve given up completely and almost.." she choked, the tears were freely falling now. 

Bea reached for Allie, wiping her tears with her thumb. She could feel how painful this was for Allie, seeing it in her eyes, reliving it in her mind just so she could tell Bea her truth. At one point, she offered Allie a reprieve but the blonde insisted. This was the only way if she ever wanted to have a future with Bea, she must own up to her past first. 

"It was the first year after mum died. I thought it through, planned it days, weeks even." She continued after calming herself a little. 

"But fate had other plans for me that night." 

"By some freak of a miracle, I got saved from my own plan. It wasn't intentional and so I said to myself that's it. I'm getting my shit together." She stood up, feeling pumped up, remembering how determined she was to change her life that night. 

"But it's was way way WAY easier to get hooked than to break the habit." 

"I tried so hard.. I've gone cold turkey… lasted for about five days and then I relapsed." She was flailing her arms around, the adrenaline was hitting her fast.

"And it was like that on and off for months. The longest was three whole months.”

She sat back down next to Bea and held her hand, trying to convince her. “Damn it, I was clean, I stopped hooking, I was good, Bea. I was.”  

“I held down a part time bartending job at a local pub. I was starting to believe that I’ve turned my life around, that I’ve pulled myself up from like the literal hell of a life. But mum’s death anniversary came ‘round and well, I thought I had it under control. I wasn't faring well that day, remembering her, remembering what could have been if I wasn’t a colossal fuck up."

Bea was about to argue that she wasn’t a fuck up but Allie waved her hand up, and continued with her story.

“I wanted to take just a little for me to function with a semblance of normalcy that day so before I started my shift, I took a hit. Just my regular dose for when I was still using like before.”

“The bar manager was the one who called the ambulance, he found me at the back office, sprawled on the floor, barely breathing.”

“The doctor said that it was due to the loss of my body’s tolerance for the substance that’s why I overdosed.”

She eyed her bedroom door, contemplating on whether she should retrieve her discharge papers not trusting how accurate her recollection on her diagnosis. 

“I was thinking the whole time I was in recovery, if I hadn’t stopped then I wouldn’t have overdosed. How fucked up is that?” she scoffed and rolled her eyes. Bea was just intently listening, hanging on to her every word. 

“They called Liz after I was admitted, they found my identifications and since I was in the system, they immediately contacted Ma.” 

“After I’ve recovered, Liz offered for me to go back to her house, your house. But, I was so ashamed Bea. I couldn’t face her, face Soph or Artie or Kaya. After what I’ve done, what I did to myseIf, felt like I keep letting them down.”

“So, I went out on my own again. I tried to stay clean but the lure of the old life was too much for me to handle and I was immediately sucked back in.” She stopped and took another huge swig at her beer. That’s it Bea knows everything now, she thought to herself. 

Bea was just looking at Allie, in deep concentration too. Her brain still playing catch up with the information. “How did you get out?” she asked carefully.

Allie begins to tell Bea the night that Kaz found her.

About six months after she overdosed, while she was standing outside a motel downtown waiting for her new client, a woman stopped in front of her called her name. She looked up but did not seem to know who the older blonde with tired eyes was.

“Allie? Allie Novak?” the older blonde said again.

“Yeah, what do you want?” Allie spat impatiently.

“You probably don’t know what I look like but your mom, Rebecca, would always talk about you back in Wentworth” the stranger said in a sad voice.

Rebecca. Her mom’s name. She looked at the blonde questioningly. 

The older blonde offered her a kind smile, “I’m Kaz, but I think you would remember me by what you used to call me before, well atleast that’s what your mom told me”

“And what name would that be?” Allie asked eagerly.

Kaz beamed at Allie and whispered “Prison wife."


“Wait… Kaz from Wentworth? As in Kaz Proctor.. Karen Proctor? And you're mom, Rebecca, was the top dog before Kaz.” Bea was remembering Rita’s story about Kaz, the same woman who was one of the people she funded the appeal. Then there’s Rebecca and Rebecca’s daughter. And right about now, she’s mentally kicking herself that she didn’t figured it out sooner. 

Allie looked at Bea with a puzzled expression. “Yeah, that’s Kaz.”
 
“Huh” Bea huffed her eyes fixed on a confused Allie. “I know Kaz. We featured her story as part of that prison documentary series that we presented at the MEFF."

“The year before that, we were filming the documentary back at Wentworth. Then the next year, we got short listed to present at MEFF. That’s why I flew back here in Sydney that night.  We were coming from the airport. Come to think of it, we actually saw the ambulance, your ambulance, speeding past us. Then when we turned to exit freeway 25, well the rest is history.”

Allie inhaled sharply. "What are the fucking odds, Bea?" 

“Fuck!” Bea groaned as she rubbed her forehead.

For a moment, they were both left completely speechless. They keep processing the events over and over in the hopes that there’s a rational explanation for this rather unique connection but the more they try to analyze it, the more it gets muddled and confusing inside their heads until finally, they both came out empty. 

After a while, it was Allie who broke their seemed deadlock.  

“I guess now you know everything Bea. If you want to split, I won’t take it against you. I’m no good.” She said, almost mechanically, her voice different somehow, like it came out from a totally different person. Her defenses were up and Bea could sense that this was how Allie had tried protecting herself from the harsh judgments of everyone around her. 

But Bea isn’t like anyone and she’s seeing Allie for who she really is, and she has never looked more beautiful to Bea than the way she sees her right now.

“You know what I see?” she said softly, treading carefully.

“I see a woman, who endured such great loss, who found herself in the stuck in a difficult situation, who almost lost a part of herself along the way, yet somehow, found courage and unbelievable strength to inch her way back.. hell.. claw her way out.. and take her power back. You did that Allie." Bea's words resonated deeply within her, demanding to be heard. And a part of her believed those words, but that persistent little voice inside was still struggling, bringing up that all too familiar feeling of unworthiness. 

“I was probably too stubborn to stay down.” she downplayed unable to look at the redhead. 

But Bea saw right through her. How can she not when see feels her deeply, like her pain was her own, her triumph a reflection of her own victory. And this invisible thread that mysteriously connects their lives, sparked a realization in her that her actions of what she assumed was random and insignificant, had a great impact on someone else, on Allie specifically and she's starting to believe that maybe, in the grand scheme of things, this is where she belongs.   

She leaned forward and reached for Allie, gently cupping her chin so that the blonde meets her gaze. "I see you, Allie." 

She traced Allie's eyes almost reverently, gently brushing her cheek where the visible traces of tears were found. "I am so proud of you, beautiful girl." 

And with those words, the dam broke. Allie cried hard, like she'd never cried before. She crumbled. All those years of staying strong, of building stronger forts, of putting up a brave face, it all came crumbling down and Bea was there with her, for her. 

Bea pulled Allie into her arms and held her close as she cried. "I couldn’t be there for you then but I’m here for you now." she whispered to Allie, rocking her softly. 

Slowly, Allie calmed down feeling as though the heavy burden that she was been carrying around has finally been lifted. She can breathe easy now. 

“Can I.. uh.. stay with you tonight? But if it’s an imposition, you can just tell me to fuck off.” Bea asked nervously. She didn't want to leave Allie alone tonight but she also didn't want to push.

"How about Debbie?" Allie said in a rough voice. Even in this state, she was still thinking about Bea's daughter and how her safety would always comes first. 

Bea was moved deeply because Allie's first thought was Debbie's well being. 

She reach for Allie's hand, interlacing their fingers. "Carly’s staying over." 

Bea stood up first and gently pulled Allie up with her. "Let's get you to bed." 

 

 

 

"Open the goddamn door, Brayden!" Jacs yelled from the other side of the door, her hand frantically clutching the locked knob, knocking hard for Brayden to open up. 

"Leave me the fuck alone!" she heard Brayden respond in anger and another set of loud crashing sounds followed. He's having a fit. 

Jacs took out the master key as last resort and forced open Brayden's door just in time to see another piece of furniture flying off across the room, almost hitting her in the head. 

The room was a complete mess, not a single furniture was spared from Brayden's rage. The floor was cluttered with beer cans and bottles of whiskey and at the far end of the room, she could clearly see a small area, untouched by the chaos but was an altogether different kind of disaster, glass pipes, packets of tin foils, used needles, a silver spoon, a rubber tourniquet. He's been using again and downing it with alcohol. 

Jacs threw Brayden's freshly dry-cleaned suit on his bed and gave his son a steely look. 

"It's your father's death anniversary, we can visit his grave tonight. Put the suit on, we leave in ten." Jacs instructed, mechanically. 

"Pfft" Brayden scoffed, eyeing the suit. 

Jacs was about to leave the room when she heard Brayden's booming voice. 

"I still blame you, you know! Even after four years, I blame you!" He spat out, his rage was brimming, he was clenching his fist, restraining himself. 

Jacs hesitated and then turned around. "You blame me? I didn't bloody kill your father!" she felt a flicker of irritation, her anger was building up. 

"You may as well have! He was leaving that bitch and their stupid daughter for me but you pushed him away! Your fucking pride couldn't take it! Couldn't handled the truth that he had another family and that you were just a fucking side chick that he got pregnant!" Brayden lashed out, his finger pointing accusingly at his mom. 

"You knew? All those years you knew that he had another family?" Jacs yelled angrily, stepping up against his son. 

"He told me about his bitch wife and that I have a stepsister.. Allie. He loved me and he was about to let me meet her."

"But you ruined everything! You freaked out after finding out the truth and sent him back and now where did that led him huh? Straight into that bitch that killed her!" He was flailing his arms around, mocking his mom. 

"Now that's on you! When you were too busy building your fucking empire, he was here and now you took that away from me!" 

Brayden stepped closer to his mother, looking her straight in the eye. "I wish you'd have died instead of him!" 

SMACK! Before Brayden could register what happened, he felt a sharp pain on his cheek throwing him off balance. He looked at the shocked expression on his mom's face, and then finally it hit him.  

Jacs slapped him so hard, he almost fell down.

And in an instant, Brayden took his keys and bolted out even before Jacs could get a single word out. 

 

Two hours after having a heated argument with her son that resulted to him driving away angry, drunk and high, Jacs got the hardest phone call that every mother dreads. 

"I am sorry to inform you ma'am, but he crashed his car just off Darlinghurst and he didn't make it." 

 

Jacs placed the bouquet of lilies on the freshly cleaned headstone. It has been years since the accident that led to her son's death but she remembers that last moment like it was only yesterday. 

Her rage consumed her entire being and wanted to blame everyone else for the death of her precious son. It lead her to a dark path and gave birth to an ominous plan to seek her twisted version of justice to all those who caused her pain. 

"Madame, you have a conference tonight at 9pm." Blake tentatively reminded his boss and stepped back to give her some space. 

She patted the headstone and glanced at the name of Brayden Holt etched in gold. "It's almost done son, you'll be proud." she whispered and then slowly walked away. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 33
Rumour Has It

 

Whiskey. Neat. Franky's choice of poison, for tonight anyway.

She held the lowball glass up against her lips and took a small sip. Slowly. Carefully. Appreciating the nuance of the drink as it sheds its layers starting with hints of roasted nuts, lingering cedar notes and then bit by bit, it hits the palate with smokey peat, oak, barley sugar and finishes off with a touch of honey and spice. 

An experience that no other strong drink can offer and tonight she needed a proper drink. 

She looked at her watch again, ten minutes before seven. She glanced towards the direction of the bar door, still no sign of the beautiful director. She let's out a nervous sigh, she's ten minutes early anyway. 

Franky took another small sip and placed the glass down. "Why the fuck am I nervous?" she mumbled shaking her head a little. 

Franky Doyle doesn't get nervous but she can't deny how her heart's pounding wildly tonight or how her hands feel a bit clammy as she stared at the door for the nth time in the last ten minutes she'd been sitting at the bar. 

It was the voice of the bartender announcing the drink he was about to serve to a patron at the far end of the bar that averted Franky's eyes away from the door. 

"Gin martini with extra olives." he said loud enough to rise above the competing voices at the bar. 

"Fancy. Posh. The drink of a snob." Franky guessed. Her opinion weighing heavily on suit-strutting divas that she'd spend time with around bars like this and almost always thinks too highly of themselves. 

Franky looked over just in time to catch this bleached blonde woman in a scarlet red slip dress, staring at her and then casually went back to the conversation with the people she's with. 

Her dodgy sideway glances, not even an attempt to hide her boredom and that obvious look of contempt wasn't hard to miss only confirms Franky's hunch - this one thinks she's better than the people around her, of everyone else really and even though she's eyeing Franky with interest right now, Franky scoffed. Pass, not interested. 

Just then a petite lady with jet black hair wearing a sleeveless top with a bright yellow skirt came up to the bar, blocking Franky's view. Her choice of drink, a tray of tequila shots. The perky woman winked at Franky as she downed her first shot. Franky turned her head and looked away. This lady maybe gunning for a wild night but Franky is simply not interested. Hard pass

From the corner of her eye, Franky saw a group of women huddled in a booth. One of them, a brunette wearing a hot pink sweater dress was vying for her attention. Her choice of drink, Long Island Iced Tea. Bossy, she thinks. This woman wants to get hammered and fast. She glanced up and this lady was gesturing for her to join them. Franky simply nodded and politely declined. She's really not vibing with anyone tonight. Pass.

It's funny really. A week ago, Franky would have been all over anyone of them right now but after meeting Bridget, she just doesn't feel like hitting it off with just about anyone. Her days has been consumed by thoughts of the feisty blonde and this is new territory even for her. 

And because of these same unsteady ground that she found herself in that she preferred to have whiskey tonight. She needed something familiar, dependable. The next best thing would be white wine. It's reliable because, really, no one can mess up white wine. Even the most klutzy person in the world would have a hard time fucking it up. It's completely safe and safe is exactly what she needs right now. 

The ding of the bar door bell made her head snap up and in that moment, Franky could have sworn that the entire bar turned into all shades of grey. No longer seeing splashes of fiery red, bright yellow or hot pink. Everything else went grey and the only colors that she could see are the vibrant earth tone hues of Bridget's rust brown calf-length open coat, a dark camel buttoned up blouse peeking underneath paired with olive green pants. And everything about her feels warm, welcoming. Home

"Am I late?" Bridget beamed, her smile reaching her eyes as she walked closer to Franky who was now up on her feet. 

"No." She started, her voice charming. "You're right on time." 

Bridget held her hand up to catch the attention of the bartender. "A glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Franky scoffed, a little amused, "White fucking wine" she mumbled. 

 

The night went on rather well, more than what Franky anticipated. The conversations flowed smoothly and she found herself genuinely enjoying Bridget's company. She was having a relaxing night, but that little voice inside her was cautioning to not let her guards down.

After a while, they fell into a comfortable silence. Franky was quietly studying the beautiful blonde director across her wondering why she's feeling all of a sudden naked and not in the good way. There's something about her that makes her feel vulnerable. 

This can't be. I don't get rattled. I don't get fazed. The internal struggle was getting too real for Franky and Bridget was looking at her with genuine interest. 

She knows eye-fucking, all shades and color. From the slightest twitch in the lips, those subtle raise of an eyebrow to the more obvious lip biting and tongue licking lips for show but tonight, with Bridget, she felt draw to her gaze, those expressive eyes staring back at her. A look of genuine desire to see something more and she felt a little too exposed. 

So Franky made use of her first line of defense, deflection

"Why'd you ask me out tonight?" Franky asked curiously. 

"I beg your pardon?" Bridget quickly replied. She wasn't sure she heard her date right. 

"Why tonight? I've tried before and got shot down, so why now?" sounding a bit confused at Bridget's timing but the invitation's always welcomed. She was simply and genuinely curious. 

And Bridget not known for beating around the bush, went with the truth. 

"I've heard rumors." she said calmly, taking a small sip of her white wine. 

"Ahhh we don't get a shortage of those around here." she half laughed, half coughed. She must think I'm a total tool. Those rumors are vicious, not that they were all true. Franky silently mused. 

"I'd rather hear them from you. Straight from the devil's mouth, as they say."

Is that benefit of the doubt? Hmm. That's new. Franky was so used to people assuming the worst from her that this was a new take. She smirked, eyeing Bridget with suspicion. Let's try crude, see if I can rattle her. 

"I'd rather be doing something else with my mouth." she flirted, licking her lips seductively at her date. 

But Bridget wasn't put off. She simply rolled her eyes and shook her head, amused rather than annoyed. 

She's gonna bolt. She's about to bolt. Whoa. She's staying? Hmm. Franky was carefully examining Bridget's every move and she was sure she'd have run for the hills by now but on the contrary, she just gave Franky an amused eye roll and settled comfortably in her chair. 

Changing gears, Franky pushed a little more. 

"These rumors... you must think that I'm a monster then." Her words were borderline accusatory but her voice remained neutral. 

Bridget slowly leaned forward, making absolutely sure that Franky gets to hear every word. "I don't. Those were other people's perception of you. I'd like to have my own."  

Damn. Good fucking answer. Franky's plan to rattle Bridget backfired and now she's scrambling for a new tactic. 

Fine. Brutal honesty, it is. She was pulling out the big guns.

"I make no pretenses of what I want, of who I want. If a woman wants to do nasty, grimy things with me, I'd be all who's your daddy?" she said smugly. Cocky. Confident that the outcome she'd predicted would definitely push through. 

Franky's never met someone who made her feel this vulnerable. She wanted to maintain a semblance of control over this, and she was so sure that by establishing a safe distance with Bridget, she would feel less exposed and would regain the power dynamics between them. 

"So Franky.. are you done? Bridget asked in a serious tone. 

"What?" the question took Franky by surprise.

"This?" Bridget pointing at the space between them. "Playing games.. pushing to see if I'll bolt. I'm tougher than I look, Franky." Bridget raised her wine glass and took a slow sip. Her eyes not leaving Franky who looked visibly shocked. Her smugness long gone and was replaced by a tentative smile.

"I just want to get to know you Franky. Just you. So how about we start from the top, with feelings this time." Bridget mimicked Franky's signature eyebrow wiggle making both of them instantly cackle.

Franky let's out a loud sigh. She wasn't even aware that she was holding her breath. 

Franky looked straight into Bridget's eyes and all she could read is genuine sincerity. No fake interest there, not even a mocking look. 

She raised both her arms in defeat. "You win."

 

Bridget confessed to knowing how Franky helped out the young girl from the carpark which made Franky blush a little. Embarrassed, she played it down by narrating her side of the story. Half way through it, Bridget's phone started ringing. Franky noticed that her beautiful date was not moving to take the call. 

"Not gonna get that?" pointing at Bridget's phone on top of the table. 

"I'm not that inclined." she said calmly, not budging a tiny bit. Her time with Franky is a cherished moment and there's really nothing more pressing than to be present for this date.  

Franky secretly appreciated the gesture but she insisted nonetheless. "Could be important. It'll be ringing all night. Come on, I'll give you some privacy." Franky stood up and gestured for the bathroom.

Seeing Franky walk away, Bridget answered the call.


When Franky returned, Bridget was just hanging up.

"Everything good?" Franky asked as she settled back into her chair.

"Yes. All good. A cousin of mine heard that I'm back in Sydney and he wants to throw a reunion party. They'll be here next week." Bridget explained a little.

"Your cousin, he's not from around here?"

"Mark mostly stays in Canberra, bit of a big shot that one. He and his fiancé had set a date and wanted to make the formal announcement to the family. We haven't even met her yet, no one in the family has. I suppose I'm in LA most of the time so I'm really out of the loop."

"You don't sound too excited?" Franky subtly reading Bridget's nonverbal cues.

"Just not too fond of being under a microscope. Everyone's all up in your business. It just gets too intrusive." Bridget pointed out, her tone sounded upset.  

And Franky saw how this has affected Bridget and wanted nothing more but to make her smile again. 

Franky drag her chair closer to Bridget. "You're in luck then. I happen to be the world's leading expert in Dodging Awkward Questions 101." 

"Did I gain a few pounds, Uncle Pissyface? Shucks, so did you. Oh you don't approve of my lifestyle, Aunt Uppity? Glad it's mine then." Franky was firing clapbacks so fast, it made Bridget immediately cackle.

There she is. Her smile's back

After the laughing fit, Bridget finally found her voice. "I'm sold. Saturday then."

"It's a date!"

 

 

Back at the hotel, Carly and Debbie were having a quiet dinner at the executive lounge. 

"Aunt Bea not joining us tonight?" Carly asked as she took a huge bite on her steak.

"Nope. She's staying with Allie." Debbie answered, her voice sounded worried.

"You seemed a little off, Deb. I thought we like Allie, like for real." Carly stopped eating to face her bestfriend.

"Yeah, Allie's cool. I'm totes okay with them together. It's just that mum mentioned cooking my favorite comfort food for Allie. I'm just a little worried for her, maybe she had an awful day at work? I dunno. I hope she gets better soon though." 

"Or maybe that what's-her-face got to her real good? You know that Ad exec who was like super in love with Aunt Bea." Carly laughed, the images of Rose Atkins' not so subtle flirting replaying through her head. 

"Yeah, geez. I really thought Allie's going to claw her eyes out" Debbie was chucking too, recalling the jealous look that Allie had earlier.

"I'm sure they're fine Deb. They look happy together." Carly reassured her bestfriend.

"Mum's been smiley and just happy all the time now. I love seeing that." Debbie confessed, getting a bit choked up.

Carly was quick on her feet, hugging Debbie tightly. 


After regaining her composure, they both started laughing again. 

"Hey are you sure you can't join us in Melbourne?" Debbie breaching the topic of their impending trip to University of Melbourne.

"I really wish I can, like really really but I can't take off work for a whole week and with this YouTube Space deal with the network, all hands are on deck with this one." Carly wanted to join Debbie and Bea for their five-day stay in Melbourne but she had work commitments back at CBN Network and reluctantly had to decline the invitation.

"Next time for sure then." Debbie chuckled at the sulking face of Carly.    

"Oh I almost forgot, I found this for tomorrow's fun activity. Do you think mum would give it a go?" Debbie handed her phone to Carly. 

Carly quickly read the description on the website and then returned the phone. "We'll know soon enough." 

There was a two-second silence when Debbie took the phone back and then, the dynamic duo started laughing again. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 34
Hideout


“Are we really up for this? Ain’t this a bit too, I don’t know, juvenile for my liking?” Franky snarkily asked an equally confused redhead beside her. The six women were standing outside the Escape Room facility that both Debbie and Carly arranged for a fun Saturday that they could all enjoy.

After spending the morning at Allie's place, Bea went back to the hotel to have lunch with Debbie and finalize their flight and accommodations for their trip to Melbourne. The season finale for Inmates airs in two weeks and it was pretty impossible for Allie to take off work for a day, let alone an entire week, sadly she had to turn down Debbie's invitation. 

At four in the afternoon, they all headed to this Escape Room facility at downtown Sydney.

"It'll be fun mum, I swear. Even you will like this." Debbie made her case, the excitement in her voice was pretty obvious. 

"Bet this wasn't what you had in mind when Deb said she wanted to spend some time with us." Bea whispered to Franky. 

"Not in my wildest imagination." Franky was shaking her head.

"Just say you've chickened out and yield, Franky." Allie teased, earning an amused scoffed from Franky and loud cackle from her beautiful Bea.

"Okay nerds, I'm in." Boomer went in first, happily dragging Carly and Debbie with her. 

"Oi! No fucking jump scares yeah?" Franky was hot on their trail. 

"Ever tried escape rooms before?" Allie asked the reluctant redhead. 

"It'll be my first. I think Debbie wants me to try as much of these fun adventure stuff as she can get me to agree on." Bea admitted shyly. 

"Let's make her proud then!" Allie reached for Bea's hand and pulled her towards the glass doors.

 

Boomer was watching the monitors set up behind the reception desk featuring the four different escape rooms offered by this facility. Above it was a massive monitor for the leaderboards. 

"What's the hardest room you have?" Boomer started firing questions after questions at the young brunette with glasses manning the reception. Her name tag indicating that she was Game Master Angel. 

"Hideout, Ma'am. It's rated five stars for difficulty level. You'll have to escape in 45 minutes and the maximum players for this room is six." Angel explained expertly, pointing at the monitor directly behind her.

"So, this Hideout, no zombies chasing us or monsters following us around?" Franky jumped in, her eyes glued on the monitors as well. 

"No ma'am. It's pretty straight forward. You've been kidnapped and trapped inside an abandoned building. It's just your wits against the time." 

"This what you want, kiddo?" Franky asked the eager teens behind her. Debbie and Carly both giving her their enthusiastic thumbs up. 

Just then a group of loud and unruly fraternity boys were coming out of the Hideout room, cheering and goofing around with each other. Three of them were clearly still in uni, wearing a matching shirt with Greek letters printed in bold, while the other three seemed like a lot older, about Allie's and Boomer's age. 

"What's our time miss?" the youngest of the group eagerly asked the Game Master.

"35 minutes and 28 seconds. Your team's on the leader board again!" Game Master Angel pointed at the name flashing on the monitor above her. The name Delta Sigma Epsilon flashing in bright white. 

There were cheers all over and an insanely weird amount of fist bumps and unusual handshakes going around.

One of the more enthusiastic ones came up to Debbie. "You guys playing?" he asked, looking over her shoulder.

"Betcha can't beat our record, old timers?" the blond behind him rudely interrupted, pointing at the leaderboards. It seems that these fraternity bros have dominated all the four rooms of this escape room facility. The Dungeon, Outbreak, The Last Flight and their latest win, Hideout

"Stop spewing shit, shit-head!" Carly was quick to fire back, giving the idiot a quick once over.

"Ladies, ladies, ladies. Claws down. We come in peace. Apologies for my nephew, my sister dropped him quite a few times. Clark?" one of the older looking ones made his way in front of the two teens. 

"I'm sorry Miss." the rude bloke apologized weakly. 

Clark's uncle continued. "It's alright. Only four teams have escaped the Hideout room anyway. There's a certain level of physicality that ain't for the faint of hearts, ladies." he mansplained smugly, making his fraternity brothers snicker. 

"Oh yeah? Is that so knobhead? The physicality of my fists can sure use the work out!" the toxic masculinity was too much and Franky was willing to take the asshole down. 

"Put your money where your mouth is, then!" Allie challenged, she could feel Bea was getting pissed off by the minute and she wanted to put these arrogant bastards in their proper place.

"Since you're so sure that we can't even make it out on time, if we lose, we pay for your game." she negotiated, confident that they could beat these annoying buggers. 

"That's sounds about right." one of the frat bro's hollered. 

Allie continued. "But if we beat your silly little record right there, you guys pay for our game and then you forfeit your game today and all your games for the other rooms."

"What?" Clark almost choked. 

"You heard her!" Bea spat out impatiently. 

"Can we do that?" Debbie asked the Game Master who was intently listening at the entire exchange. 

"Well technically yeah, I mean, we could take the name Delta Sigma Epsilon out of there, if they consent to it. It'll be as if you guys didn't make it out in time." Angel clarified, wanting to de-escalate the situation

The frat boys huddled in the corner, contemplating on whether or not to accept the challenge. They looked very competitive. The kind of folks that takes their wins seriously and it was obvious that it was a matter of pride. 

And Franky was all too eager to heckle the rattled idiots. "Can you smell that? It's the stench of fear, I tell you."

"Too fragile to lose to a bunch of women?" Allie taunted making every single one of them look up at her. A decision has been unanimously made. 

Clark's uncle, who we now know as Kyle walked up to Allie and extended his hand. "Oh you're on, sis!" 

Allie dismissed the offered hand and smirked. "Pfft. It sure is!" 

"Let me reset the room for 10 minutes while you log in our system." The game master handed one of the tablets to Debbie for them to sign up and called on another game master Chris to assist them. 

 

After a while, Angel led the women inside a holding room where they will be briefed about the rules and regulations and safety measures for the game.

As they were being ushered inside, they could hear Clark hollering at them.  "Good luck little missy, you'll need 'em!"

"Up yours, idiot!" Carly piped up, all riled up and ready, earning a roaring laughter from her family, quickly bursting the tense vibe. 


Inside the small well-lit room, they were made to watch an instructional video of the rules and regulations of the game. 

All rooms are equipped with CCTV and your game master will be following your progress in the control room. 

Once inside the game room, you cannot leave until the time expires or you finish the game. If you need the bathroom, now is the time to go. 

You cannot bring anything inside except for the keys of your lockers where all your belongings will be safely stored. 
 
For emergencies, there is a red button at every door, that will open all doors but once you push it, this will signal that you have forfeited the game. 

Do not use force to push open or move furniture, walls and props. You may take items with you to the next rooms as long as they are not bolted down. 

If you see items with an off limits stickers especially on fire extinguishers, electrical and plumbing, plugs and switches, they are real and are not part of the game. 

Your first and only clue will be given by your game master, after that you are to figure out the next sets of clues on your own. 

The clock will stop when all of the team members have stepped out of the last room. 

Good luck and don't get trapped. 

 

After the video, and with the direction of game master Angel, they placed all their things in the locker and formed a straight line. 

"Okay ladies, at this juncture, you'll need to put these blindfolds on and by pairs, I will be bringing you to the next room and once inside, I will handcuff you to your respective partners."

"Blindfolds AND handcuffs? Best part of my day already." Allie teased making everybody roar with laughter except for Bea who was blushing profusely. 

"Ugh! Jesus you two!" Debbie groaned, making the group laugh all over again. 

After the laughing fit died down, they all wore the blindfold and by pairs, they were taken to the Hideout game room next door. 


It was Debbie and Carly who were taken first. 

Next was Franky and Boomer. 

And finally, Bea and Allie. 


It was dark, because of the blindfold and all Bea could feel was Allie's hand holding her tight while they were taken into another room that was colder than the holding area and by the creaking sound of what she assumed was a metallic bed frame, they were eased in to sit at the edge and cuffed to the bed. 

They could her Boomer's voice complaining that the cuffs were cold and Franky nervously chuckling from somewhere close. 

"Still okay there Bea?" she heard Allie whisper beside her making her feel at ease. 

"I'm good, you?" Bea whispered back. 

"Dark, blindfolded and handcuffed with you in what I assume is the bed, I'm living the dream babe!" Allie teased. 

Franky's loud voice startled them all. "We can hear you both, you know!" 

Bea was about to respond but the sound of the PA System pulled them back to the game. 

 

You were kidnapped and left at an abandoned building. You have forty five minutes to escape before your kidnappers comes back. You may now remove your blindfolds. Goodluck. Your time starts now.

 

There was a high pitch static noise after the voice prompt and everybody started removing their blindfolds with their free hand. 

When Bea removed her blindfold and opened her eyes, the first thing she noticed was the red light illuminating the room. She looked around and assessed the room layout. 

The first game room looked like an old, poorly lit hotel room. 

Bea and Allie were handcuffed on the bed. Allie was seated near the headboard beside the side table with a fake alarm clock on top while Bea was near the edge. To her far right was the door.

Across them was a coffee table with two chairs were Franky and Boomer were handcuffed. The table had a chess board and broken clock used in competitive gaming on top. 

Right next to them was the broken heater where Debbie and Carly where handcuffed and beside Debbie at the corner was the safety deposit box bolted on the wall. 

"Wow, this room is so realistically creepy!" Carly piped up, struggling to remove her cuffs. 

"Does anyone have a key beside them?" 

"Nope. We have a chessboard here but it's bolted on the table." 

"Hey the drawer's open." Allie rummaged for the items inside.  

"Is there a key blondie?" Franky asked curiously. 

"Just a Bible. Nothing more." she took out the Bible and leafed through the pages just in case there's a clue. 

"How about you Deb?"

"Nothing here mum. I can reach the safety security box but it has a 4-digit combination. I've tried 1234 but it's not opening." 

"There's a 2020 calendar here but it doesn't look promising." Boomer was scanning the items near her. 

Just then they heard another announcement, this time in the voice of their game master Angel. 

 

THE FIRST AND ONLY CLUE, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. 

 

"Time. Time. Think guys!" Franky encouraged, making everyone think on their feet. 

"The clocks!" Franky piped up, pointing at the broken clock beside Allie, and tapping the game clock in front of her."

"What's the time Allie?" 

"It stopped at 11 sharp. How about yours?" 

"On the left is at 6 sharp and the right is 2 sharp."

"Deb, trying punching 1162."

"On it mum!" 

"Shit! This is so exciting!" Boomer was on her feet now while her arm was still securely handcuffed to the chair. Her head looking at what Debbie was doing. 

After punching the numbers, they heard a loud clicking sound of the metallic box opening up! 

"IT WORKED! IT ACTUALLY WORKED OH MY GOD!" Debbie yelled and took out the contents of the safety deposit box. 

It contained two items: one key and one UV torch. 

Debbie first removed her handcuffs then Carly's. 

Then Franky and Boomer and last Bea and Allie. 

"Shit! This is exciting!"

 

SIX MINUTES HAS ELAPSED. The PA System announced, making them all jump a little. 

 

Boomer was bouncing all over the room. The excitement was getting to her. "Come on come on let's go. We can't let those frat boys win! Come on fam! What's next?"

Carly took the UV torch and started lighting the walls just in case there are clues left there. 

They gathered around the door and notice that it has a keypad lock with a 3-digit combination. 

"There's a note pinned on the door!" 

Allie read the ransom note out loud. 


We have your family. They are safe and unharmed for now. If you want to see them again you will follow our instructions carefully. Do not contact the police. Do not tell anyone else about this. We are watching you closely. One wrong move and we will execute them one by one. Do not test us. 

You will withdraw ten million dollars in unmarked one hundred bills. You will put them in a black duffel bag. We will contact you after twenty four hours. The money should be ready by then. I repeat, do not contact the police. Do not contact anyone else. Wait for our instructions for the exchange.  


"That's it. Try 100. It was mentioned in the note." Allie suggested. 

After keying in 100, the door won't open. No go. 

"Found anything, Carly?" Bea was checking out what Carly was doing with the torch. 

"Nothing Aunt Bea. Just this funky looking calendar with marked dates. New Year's Party, Paris Trip."

Allie was vocalizing her thought process. "Okay, thinking cap on, what do we have, a key and a UV torch."

"What if there's a hidden clue there. On the door or on the note."

"Hey Carly, can you flash that thing on the note?"

Carly went to the door and did as instructed.

"THERE! THERE'S SOMETHING THERE!" Boomer pointed excitedly.

There was a hidden message only readable in the UV light. 

 

EVERY WORD COUNTS.

 

"Word? What word?" 

"The note! Count the words on the note!" Debbie was pointing at the ransom note on the door. 

"Go go go! Let's go!

In their panic and haste, they all started counting at the exact same time, their voices competing with each other, making the whole situation more chaotic and confusing.

Bea having kept a semblance of composure noticed that they were confusing each other by this move.

She held her hand up. "HOLD ON! HOLD ON! How about just two people count, yeah? It's too confusing this way. I'm hearing 89 there, fifty here?"

"Red's right! You count Deb and Carly will be the fresh eyes." Franky agreeing to Bea's tactic.   

 

THIRTEEN MINUTES HAS ELAPSED.

 

After a few seconds, Debbie told them the count. "I got 110."

"110 for me too." Carly confirmed with her own count.

"Punch it Booms."

The loud click of the magnetic door opening made them jump for joy! 

"YEAH BABY!" Franky yelled, the adrenaline was rushing through her system.

"LET'S GO NERDS!" Boomer was first to enter the second room, pulling Carly and Franky with her. 

"Thanks mum!" Deb gave Bea and Allie high fives and then followed shortly.

"After you m'lady!" Allie tipping an imaginary hat at the amused redhead.

"Doofus!" chuckled Bea as she tugged on Allie's hand to join her in the next room.


The second game room looked like an old motel lobby with yellow floral wallpaper, a couch and sofa set that matches the wallpaper design on the center, there's a reception area at the left corner and an old red SMEG fridge on the right. 

"There's chains bolting the fridge shut and a four-digit combination lock on the fridge door." Franky piped up, gesturing with her hands for them to join her. 

"There's nothing here, just that ugly ass yellow wall paper." Boomer complained, looking around at the reception desk.

"What's those?" Carly pointed at fridge door.

Debbie was first to answer, being the nearest one on the fridge. "Ref magnets that spells FOAMY NEUTER?" 

"What the hell is that?" Bea asked confused.

Walking closer to the fridge, Allie read the words again. "Probably an anagram."   

 

FIFTEEN MINUTES HAS ELAPSED

 

"Let me at it!" Boomer went in front of the fridge.

Boomer was concentrating hard, reading, re-reading, repeating the words in her head. Finally, after two minutes of pure focus, she smiled. 

"May Fourteen" she announce proudly making everyone immediately halt their search.

"Zero Five One Four or One Four Zero Five. Try both combinations." Bea suggested. 

"YOU'RE A FUCKING GENIUS BOOMS!" Franky hugged Boomer and took the lock and tinkered with the numbers.

"ALRIGHT AUNT BOOMER!" Carly was firing finger guns aimed at Boomer.  

When the lock clicked open, they took out the chains that wrapped the handle of the fridge and opened it wide. It was a hidden door and Franky stepped in first.

"COME ON, COME ON! WE ARE NEARING TWENTY MINUTES!" she yelled.

 

The third room looked like a dark and damp basement. There were brown boxes on the floor on both the left and right side of the room. At the center was a table with old VCR tapes. Some were already stocked inside a box labelled 2020 while the others remained on the table. 

"The door's right there." Carly pointing at the door behind the table. 

She walked closer. "It's a 3-digit lock combination."

"Okay, what are we seeing?" Bea was doing a visual checklist of the room.

Boomer kicked the boxes with her feet. "Boxes, boxes all around." 

"There are VCR tapes in these boxes." Franky pointed out, rummaging one box.

"Hey look!" Debbie picked up one of the VCR tapes on the table. There was a letter marked in red ink at the right portion of the label of each of the tapes.

"Do we arrange it alphabetically? It might form a word? Might be worth the shot."

They rearranged the tapes and the result yielded to "EINOOSTWX"

"Nope. That's not it." Carly was re-reading the labels of the tapes in her hands.

Allie looked around and noticed that the boxes were marked by year. 2019, 2018, 2017.

"What are the sequence of the tapes inside the boxes? The labels, is there a pattern?" She asked everyone, a thought suddenly crossed her mind.

Bea opened the box nearest her with the label 2018. "This one starts with New Years Party, Valentines Date."

"This one starts with New Years Party too then Mina's Graduation and so on." Franky was checking out the 2017 box.

And then it hit her. "The calendar in the first room! Allie and Carly excitedly yelled at the same time.

"I'm on it!" Allie rushed back and Debbie followed her. 

"I'm coming with you, Allie. It's dark here.

"Thanks Deb."

 

In less than a minute, Allie and Debbie were back in the third room armed with the calendar. 

Franky was hanging by the closed door, ready to punch the numbers as soon as the combination comes through.

"Okay arrange it in this order." Allie instructed.

Bea and Boomer were at the table, listening carefully as Allie called out the sequence of events according to the calendar.   

Jan 1 New Years Party O
Jan 16 Paris Trip N
Feb 9 Becky's Baptism E 
Feb 14 Valentines' date T
Mar 9 Bali Trip W
Mar 15 Mark's Graduation O 
Mar 20 Aaron's Bar Mitzvah S
April 5 London Trip I
April 9 Caleb's Stag Party X 

"Is there a word?" Allie walked towards Bea.

"One Two Six" Bea read out loud.

Franky hurriedly punched the numbers and immediately, the lock clicked open.

"LETS GO! COME ON!" Everyone rushed out of the third room just as the PA System announced their time.

 

THIRTY MINUTES HAS ELAPSED
  

"Less than five minutes to beat their record. Okay we can still do this, come on!" Bea was on high spirits, her competitive nature was coming out in full throttle. 


The fourth room was an infirmary of sorts. There was a hospital bed at the corner. Some medical equipment bolted on the floor. The walls were lined with medical instructions. 

"Ah shit!" Franky curse as she reached the door across the hospital bed.

"What? WHAT?" Boomer asked, her voice a little panicked. 

"There's no lock, there's no keypad. There's nothing. It must be triggered by a sensor or something." Franky explained, running around looking for clues. 

"Look for something. Some kind of lever or button."

They started searching the entire room like maniacs in hopes of finding some kind of trigger but they could not find a single one. 

"There's something on the bed, it's clicking here when I push down." Allie was pushing the bed with both of her hands while Debbie was listening for the clicks.

Bea stood in the middle of the room while everyone was in panic searching for clues or levers. 

Her eyes were scanning the entirety of the room. The walls were covered with medical posters of all shapes in sizes. On her left were posters on How to Perform CPR on Adults. Then the next was Resuscitation (CPR) Instructions. The third one was Step by Step CPR Guide. 

She looked at the wall behind her and read Avoid Common Mistakes While Giving CPR, next to The Ultimate CPR Guide and finally, How to Administer CPR.

And then something click in her head.

 

THIRTY FOUR MINUTES HAS ELAPSED.

 

"WAIT I GOT IT!" she snapped her fingers.

Boomer was already sulking, admitting defeat. "ITS OVER" 

Franky was not giving up. She was still looking for a way out. "NO! SHIT NO!"

Bea was scanning the room. They were all panicked and visibly disappointed. But she had a plan. In one swift motion, she took Allie's hand and hurriedly sat on the hospital bed. She positioned herself in the middle and laid flat on her back.

Everyone was frozen on the spot, including Allie who was looking at Bea in total confusion.

"CPR!" she said breathlessly, the adrenaline was rushing through her brain.

It took Allie a few seconds to register what Bea said and when it finally hit her, Bea's hand was gently tugging at the collar of her shirt and then finally, in the front of Bea's friends, her family, her daughter, Allie place a gentle kiss on Bea's waiting mouth.

And then everything happened so fast. One minute Allie was kissing Bea on the hospital bed and then next both of them were being dragged out of the room. 

There was an loud siren going off and everyone was in a frenzy, squealing excitedly as they were hauled out of the fourth and final game room.

Franky was shaking Bea's shoulder excitedly. Boomer was bouncing up and down the hall, throwing her fists up in the air and Allie was being crushed into a tight hug with Carly and Debbie.    

They could see the warm smiles that game masters Angel and Chris had as they welcomed them back. 

It was game master Angel who broke the news to them.

"34 minutes and 41 seconds! Congratulations! You ladies are number one!"

They were roaring with thunderous laughter, yelling excited howls and Boomers distinct voice stood out amidst the noise, as they walked back to the reception area where the frat bros were found sulking. 

"PAY UP, LOSERS!" 

Chapter Text

Chapter 35
Res Ipsa Loquitur

 

"That can't be right" Kyle was fuming, clearly irked. 

"How the hell did they pull it off?" he spat out and glared at the game masters. 

Boomer towered over him as they argued at the counter. She tried her best, truly she did, to not laugh at his face but the angrier he got, the funnier it was to Boomer. 

Bea, Franky, Allie, Debbie and Carly hung back a few meters away from Kyle and Boomer, amused at the blatant refusal of this idiot to concede. 

The other members of Delta Sigma Epsilon were not as hard headed as Kyle. They accepted their defeat, said their congratulations and even apologised for their disrespect. 

Kyle raised his voice, unable to contain his anger. "We have a system, you see!" 

He turned his head back to his fraternity brothers and pointed at them one by one. "He picks the locks, he's our code breaker, he's our fresh eyes and he's our riddle master."

The game masters were used to handling irate clients but this one was high up in the asshat meter and so they decided to break protocol and replay the footage of the gameplay with the express consent of everyone.

On the large monitor above the reception, they played the CCTV recording inside the Hideout room for the last two teams. It was a split screen, on the left  was Delta Sigma Epsilon's game and on the right, it was Bea's. 

Game Master Angel explained how Bea's team managed to beat their time. "You see, they did exceptionally well at the anagram. If you'll look at the time stamp below, it took them 1 minute and 20 seconds while your team, took 2 minutes to escape room number two. That gave them the clear win here."

She played back the recording at double the speed. "And the rest of the room, your time was very close. But as I said, room two was pivotal in their win." 

"Ha! The thing speaks for itself." Boomer yelled out as she pointed at the monitor above. 

"Might want to think again before your filthy mouth starts anything with any woman at that!" Allie fired smugly. It was satisfying the least to put this idiot in his proper place. 

Clark came up and pulled his uncle back. They were defeated, it was clear as day, there was literally nothing more to appeal. 

One by one, as agreed, the game master deleted the name Delta Sigma Epsilon on the leader boards and before she could make the final change to the last room - Hideout Room, the fraternity boys left with their heads down and their egos clearly shattered. 

"Not staying to see our names up there?" Franky called out but they either didn't hear her or simply pretended not to. 

One of the more older ones stayed and went up to Bea. His eyes showed remorse more than anything. 

"You know, we started playing these games to foster a sense of team work with a little taste of competition. It was never intended to belittle and disrespect women, but somewhere along the way today, that message got lost. This was a humbling experience and, on behalf of Delta Sigma Epsilon as their Chancellor and Master Initiator, again, we apologise." he said sincerely. 

Not wanting to put salt on an already opened wound, Bea went with diplomacy this time. 

"Do more. Educate your members. Donate to women's shelters. Don't just stop there, put time and effort to help, volunteer. That's where you need to focus your energy on." Bea suggested. She wasn't aware of how much reach their fraternity has but if they were willing to put the effort then no matter how big or small their organization maybe, it'll be a win for these causes. 

He listened intently and when Bea was done, he contemplated on her words. "We will do just that." 

He gave a small nod and left. 


Allie came up beside Bea just as the last member of the Delta Sigma Epsilon left the building. 

She cocked her head towards the direction of the door. "He giving you a tough time, babe?" she asked, her eyes followed the guy out like a hawk. 

"What if he did, what are you gonna do about it, huh? Bea nudged Allie's shoulder playfully, teasing the blonde. 

"For starters these fingers are gonna gouge his stupid eyes out and then these fists will make a permanent dent on his stupid mug. And that's simply for looking at you wrong." She winked at the redhead and adopted a tough-chic stance. She flexed her arms to show off her non-existent guns. 

Bea scoffed and rolled her eyes. Is she kidding me right now? Does Allie think she has guns? 

But Allie wasn't dissuaded by Bea's unimpressed look and kept flexing, adding an playful smirk, poking her to take the bait. 

The redhead moved closer to Allie and slowly pulled up one of the blonde's sleeve. She pinched the soft skin on her arm and checked for muscle definition on her biceps. 

Bea's sudden movement caught Allie off guard and sent a warm tingling sensation to her core. She felt the blush crept in on her neck and face. Fuck! Not the time, Novak! 

It was Bea's careful motion of pulling down Allie's sleeve back in place that pulled her mind out of the gutter. 

She cleared her throat. "Uhm for future reference.."

She lifted her right sleeve and flexed her perfectly sculpted bicep and tricep muscles. "These are guns." she said in that sexy raspy tone that instantly made Allie's jaw drop and other parts of her body moist.  

She'd seen those guns before, that one time in the park when Bea removed her teal jacket and then when she wore that sexy tank the night Allie stayed over and again last night when Bea stayed the night but there's something about this cocky, flirty and a little bit of a tease version of Bea deliberately showing them off for her that's giving her a whole new level of thrill. 

"Those on the other hand" Bea pointed at Allie's arms. "Well, tsk tsk tsk I don't know what they are." she shrugged her shoulders feigning disappointment.

Allie's face went from extremely excited to suddenly sullen in a matter of seconds. 

Bea kept a straight face for as long as she possibly can but one look at Allie's adorable sulking face and all her smugness went out the window. 

Allie was still pouting at Bea when the redhead grabbed both of her hands and inspected them, flipping them over like a referee on MMA fight night. She looked at Allie's beautiful sulky face and then back at her hands. 

"These fingers though" she appeased and held them tighter. "Should only know how to create beautiful things and not be weapons of mass destruction."

At this point, who could blame Allie when it was Bea herself who practically laid down the foundation for the Queen of clapback to dish out some not so innocent crack.

"These fingers can do other things, you know." She whispered, unable to resist the innuendo. 

"Yeah, like wh-" Bea stopped mid-question when she caught Allie's mischievous smile. Her brain cracking the double entendre.

She held her hand up, warning Allie. "No, don't answer that, never mind." 

"Tickle you silly, what were YOU thinking?" 

 

Debbie and Carly were looking on at Bea and Allie's antics from across the reception. It was something that Debbie always hoped for her mom to find. It's the happiest she'd ever seen her mom and she deserved it all.

"They look good together. Like really really good. I like Allie for Aunt Bea." Carly draped her arm around her bestfriend's shoulder.

"I thought I'd be like all cringe since she's mum but I don't know, I like seeing her like this." Debbie admitted, her voice sounded hopeful.

"She's laughing more, she's smiling more. Geez, are they tickling each other?" she chuckled and covered her eyes.

Debbie couldn't hide her amusement seeing her mum having a great time with Allie. The blonde prankster was reaching for Bea while the redhead was swatting Allie's hands, karate chopping Allie's every attempt to tickle her. 

Carly chuckled, clearly happy for her Aunt. "Are you sure we can't bribe Allie to join you guys in Melbourne?"

"I was sorta looking forward to spending time with them together but her schedule's a bit hectic. But I'll be hounding her after this uni thing."  

"So have you decided yet?" Carly asked cooly. She keep her tone calm but was actually eager to fish out more details. It has been on her mind since her bestfriend came back and she was silently wishing, hoping and praying that Debbie stays for good. It's just not the same without her. 

Debbie paused before she gave an answer. "University of Melbourne is the last on the list but defo staying here in Australia."  

"LA is great but it kinda gets.. uhm.. lonely.. you know.. uhm.. yeah." she cleared her throat in a deliberate attempt to keep it together. 

There were moments in LA where Debbie felt alone and a little bit detached. Her mom always made sure that she felt loved and cared for but as a young adult figuring stuff out, the world could be very isolating. She turned to vlogging to cope, something that kept her mind busy and with the extra challenge of being creative in her content, eventually she found a way to somehow deal with the loneliness. 

Carly saw the sudden change in Debbie and wanted to cheer her up. 

"Ofcourse it is! Your bestfriend in the whole wide universe isn't there! It's bound to be snoozeville borderline boredtown!" she segued complete with an all too dramatic eyeroll which made Debbie instantly laugh.

"And not just for you, I think." she jerked her thumb at the adorable pair across. "Does Aunt Bea know? 

"Oh I can't. Not yet. Not until I've gone through the motions of checking every Uni in the shortlist." 

"If I tell her now, she'd think I'd rushed into it and she'd defo jump into the conclusion that I'm doing it for her and not for me and then she'd feel guilty. I can already see how the conversation will play out. "

Carly moved closer so that only the two of them could hear. "So what's your plan? How are you going to tell her."

"I have something in the works and I'd definitely need your help on this." 

"Let me guess, you're doing a uni reveal in your channel?" 

Debbie simply nodded. "And I already know where we are going to film this?" 

"Our shiny new YouTube Space at CBN Network!" Carly squeeled excitedly.  

"Mindlink!" They both yelled at the same time and then roared with laughter. 


"Oi! The game master here is asking us a question!" Franky hollered at both the flirty couple and the gigling bestfriends.

"So what name do we put up there?" Bea walked closer tugging Allie by the hand.

"I'm all for Boomer's Bitches, just saying." Boomer suggested as she eased back in her chair.

Franky held her hand up. There was something more pressing than the team's name that she wanted to address. "But before that, what's doing my head in is this, as I recall correctly, you need to do chest compressions first before any mouth to mouth resus happens."

Bea rubbed her forehead with her free hand. She knew where this conversation's headed.

"You know, one and two and three and four" Franky gestured with her hands with much exaggeration making everyone laugh, even the two game masters were chuckling from the other side of the counter.

"Shut it, Doyle!" Bea fired back without looking up.

"Oh that was just warm-up, Red! Now let's talk about the breath of life!"

 

 

"Are you sure I can't convince you to fly with us to Melbourne?" Bea asked as she settled down on Allie's couch. 

"Baaaabbbbeeee..." Allie whined all the way from the kitchen were she took out two bottles of beer.

After having a chaotic but very satisfying victor's feast, it was time to head home. Bea dropped Carly and Debbie at their hotel and drove Allie back to her flat, intending to spend a little more time with her before they leave for Melbourne early Monday morning.

"I know.. I know.." Bea held her hand up in defeat. Although she was laughing, a big part of her was sad. She'll miss her, that part Bea was sure of. 

"Ask me one more time and I'll yield, I swear to god, I will!" Allie wasn't faring any better. In that short span of time, Bea has cemented her hold on her heart that this one week away from her would feel like a lifetime. What the hell is she gonna do if Bea flies back to LA, then? she shuddered at the thought.

"I'm just messing with you, I can't let you do that. That's work." 

Grabbing the beers, she made her way to the living room and settled beside the redhead. "Yeah but I kinda hate it right now."

Bea took one off Allie's hand. "What do you mean?"

"Just the direction, I'm not happy with how'll play out in the finale." she explained a little, her voice sounded deflated.

With Allie's words, Bea's eyes immediately searched for the writer's board mounted on the wall. "You're killing Becca off?" 

Allie simply shrugged. Her eyes following where Bea was looking at.  

"You're closing all her arcs. Or atleast that's what I'm getting at so far." Bea jumped off the couch and walked closer to the board.

"Let's see, here and here." She pointed at two main plot points.

Allie was on her feet too. She felt proud that Bea was able to see through her writing. It felt really good that they're connecting on different levels. "Okay, let's say, hypothetically, Becca gets uhm killed off, your thoughts? 

"Hypothetically? If I was a fan from the beginning, I'd be shattered. Becca's a loved character. Becca deserves more than becoming a tragic hero, she deserves to be alive." 

"Exactly! See, you get it." Allie snapped not holding back anymore. "I don't understand why Derek can't." 

She took a huge swig at her beer. “I've been thinking about quitting. Say fuck all and go! Pull a Queen Amidala on his wringkly ass!”  

“Pull a what now on his what?” asked Bea with a puzzled look on her face.

“You know, Queen Amidala from Star Wars? Her speech in the Senate of the Galactic Republic? The “I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die while you discuss this invasion in a committee” and then she flipped the script on them lot. No? Doesn’t ring a bell?” 

“You’re a bigger nerd that I thought you were, Allie.” Bea said with a hearty laugh.

“Oh shut it!" she pinched Bea's left cheek playfully.

"What I’m trying to say is that I’m not going to sit around and watch how they slaughter my characters right in front of me. I should just go.” 

Bea felt the distress in Allie's voice. She knew the inner workings of this industry all too well. The peaks and the frustrations. The heartbreak of seeing your creations be put on the chopping block simply because the higher ups in the network decided to go a different way.   

“Hey Allie, look. I can’t tell you what to do but there is a silver lining in staying. At least if you’re still there, you can soften the blows that they’ll give to your characters. Derek maybe the Showrunner but you're still story editor and head writer, these characters are your creations. You may not be in charge of the direction but you have the creative reigns on their dialogues, on their tones, on their mindsets and on how they can be received by the viewers. You at least have that.”

Allie listened intently at Bea's advise. She's right, she still has some form of control over the writing and she's not going to abandon her creations without so much of a fight.

"How are you preparing for the backlash. The numbers would definitely dip." Bea made a quick assessment of their projected numbers and it doesn't look promising at this point.

For a seasoned showrunner, Derek should have made this a calculated risk, unless he's gunning for his own show, that is. Is it the reason he's having midnight meetings at CBN Network? Bea silently mused.

"He wanted me to sign a bunch of documents. He's been hounding me to sign them as soon as possible. Said it'll make him solely responsible if the show tanks. The language is highly legalese and too technical." Allie groaned. Thinking about Inmate's future was a source of stress. 

"I sent them to Kaz. She's more adept with the legal language so I asked her to review them for me. I didn't want to just sign like Derek wanted me to." she elaborated. 

There's a nagging feeling inside Bea that she can't shake off. A weird hunch that this wasn't the first time she'd heard of something of this sort but right now, she can't place it anywhere. "Good. That's good Allie. Derek's pretty dodgy and uhm, you be careful around him, alright?"

"I'm a tough chick, Bea. I can handle it. But, thank you. You don't have to worry okay? Just enjoy Melbourne and take lots and lots of photos. I'll miss you so much, Bea."  

Allie closed the small distance between their bodies and held Bea tight. She buried her face on Bea's neck and inhaled her sweet scent. She'll be gone for five days and she's trying make this moment last for as long as she can.

Allie felt Bea's hand cupped her chin, those intense eyes looking at her with pure desire.  And before she could make the first move, she felt Bea's hungry mouth latched on to hers and everything simply faded away. 

 

 


It was past ten o'clock when a sleek black Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII slowed down in front of an old apartment complex in downtown Sydney.

From the side alley, a blonde woman appeared from the dark and got inside the waiting car.  

"We have a slight hiccup." was the first words out of Roz Jago's mouth, as she settled on her seat.  

"Do go on?" Jacs replied flatly. 

"Bea Smith. She might have taken a liking to Novak." she huffed. She has been sitting at this new information all week, waiting for the exact moment that Jacs will set another meeting.  

Nothing new, she thinks. Derek has beaten Roz to this news. "How much of a liking? More importantly, does she like her back?" 

"She's pretty much all over her these past week." She took out an envelope in her bag and handed it to Jacs. 

Jacs opened it carefully and pulled them out one by one.

A couple of photos of Allie talking to Bea in front of Franky's house. Allie holding a bouquet of roses as she entered a hotel which Jacs correctly assumed was where Bea's staying. Allie dismounting from a Harley which was driven by Bea. 

Jacs looked at the photos again and noticed that Allie had a big smile in all of them, it made her blood boil. "You say a hiccup, I see leverage!" she barked at her lackey. 

"Give this to Derek. This will fast track everything. Make sure to get photos of Bea's daughter too. That'll break her." 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 36
Deep Breath Before The Plunge


Allie was hanging by the window, her hand delicately tracing the almost faded writing that up until recently, she didn’t know belonged to a young rebel that was Debbie. She scratched her hand in awe at how everything played out in the universe's playbook of sorts and had long stopped trying to make sense of it all. 

"Something on your mind, love?" Liz came out with two cups of tea and placed them on the center table in the living room. 

Allie watched how her foster mother settled on one side of the couch and handed her a cup. She walked the short distance and took the offered drink. "I met her, Ma. Bea Smith and her daughter Debbie."

"That's great. They are great people." She said in a delighted voice. What made the news even more interesting for her was the fact that Allie's face turned slightly pink at the mention of Bea's name. 

Someone's having a little crush it seems, Liz guessed. She took a small sip of her tea as she waited for Allie to continue.

"Me and Bea. We are.. uhm.. kinda dating." Allie said in a sheepish voice. Those light pink hues that crept up on her face quickly turned into a full-blown blush and she can’t seem to stop herself from smiling.  

"Wha.. uhm.. How?” Liz almost choked on her tea, clearly surprised. Of all the things that she’d expect Allie to tell her about Bea, this didn’t even make the top 50.

“Tell me everything. Don't leave out any details love. This is great news." she said excitedly scooching a tad bit closer to her doting daughter. 

Allie immediately filled Liz in on the first time she met Debbie that afternoon of her last visit and then how she almost choked Bea with those beautiful white roses at the cemetery while visiting Rebecca. She continued with their breath-taking encounter at the park and then how they met again at Franky's Sunday dinner.

She hesitated at first when it came to the part of her overdose, not wanting to reopen the wounds from her past life but seeing her mama’s kind eyes, she was reminded of how much Liz supported her even in her darkest hour.

“I didn’t know it that time but the ambulance that took me to St. Lukes when I uhm overdosed, remember that time, Ma? Bea drove that damn thing to rush me to the ER. She saved my life. What if she wasn’t there that night? What if they landed earlier and took the highway before my ambulance? I would have-” she got a little choked up as the weight of everything came rushing back and her hyperactive mind was reliving all the possiblible scenarios if Bea was taken out of the equation, would she have still survived?

“Hush now, it’s alright. You can’t think of the what ifs like that.” Liz gently rubbed Allie’s shoulder, offering some form of comfort. “It must be fate, love.”

To shift the conversation in to steadier grounds, Liz asked Allie something that she guessed might make her smile. “Tell me about Bea, how do you feel when you’re together?” 

And as though a lightbulb was switched on, her eyes beamed with delight at the mention of Bea’s name. She told her foster mom how happier she is when Bea is around, how comfortable they’ve become around each other and how each day feels like a new adventure but also that feeling like they’ve known each other for forever.

"Sounds to me like you're both meant to meet." Liz took a sip of her tea. She has been praying for so long for Allie to find true and lasting happiness be it in the form of career or significant other. She's glad that Allie found someone who deserves her generous and passionate heart. She didn't expect that the person that would ultimately answer her prayers was in the form of Bea Smith, but in her mind, it seemed like the perfect fit.

"You love her." Liz beamed at her daughter.

"It's too soon for that, Ma." The question startled Allie and she answered a little too defensively.  And yet while she pondered on that thought, her heart was pounding wildly against her chest. Is it trying to tell me something? she mused.

"It wasn't a question, love." Liz took Allie's hand and gently squeezed it. She got up and went straight for the kitchen to let Allie ruminate on her words.

Liz didn't need the verbal confirmation, the affection in Allie's eyes told her everything she needed to know. 

"Have you told Kaz yet? You know Kaz.. she gets.. well.. very protective of you.” She asked over her shoulder.

"We had lunch last Sunday and I mentioned that there's someone but have yet to tell her that it's Bea I'm seeing.

The same Bea Smith who produced their prison docco. I've always wondered about it but it was a sore subject for her. I asked her about it once, even went as far as searching for a copy that we could watch together but she practically yelled at me for having one. She asked me to never watch it, so I just respected that. It's the least I can do after everything she'd.."

"It's alright, Al." Liz didn’t have to let Allie finish the thought, she didn’t want her to be reminded again of that part of her life. “That time of your life is over now. You have a bright future ahead of you filled with all shades and hues of... red" She winked and gave a cheeky smile. "Maybe its time to give Kaz a call. She's the only person that can answer all your questions."

“Maybe.”

 


After retrieving her car at Rita’s garage where unfortunately, Rita was not around that Sunday and she had to fend off the advances of her flirty younger sister, Ruby, who kept calling her sugar tits, she went straight to her flat where a brown package was waiting for her at her mail box.

While climbing the short flight of stairs, she opened the package and recognized that it was the contract that she had sent to Kaz for her to go over.

There’s a post it note on top of the pile. She recognized Kaz’ handwriting.

Don't sign this bubba. It's a stinking pile of horse shit. Stay the hell away from Channing. He's bad news.

As she opened the door to her flat, she took out her phone and dialled Kaz' number.

After two rings, Kaz picked up the line.

“Hey Kaz? Is it a good time to call?”

 

 


Monday turned out to be one of the most stressful day in the four years of Allie working at GMA Network. She felt totally drained after that heartbreaking table read for the season finale inside the writer’s room.

"Is there really nothing we could do? Come on now, Al? There's got to be something here?" Alycia pleaded to the blonde head writer when she caught up with her outside the writer's room just right after a very brutal table read. 

Alycia, the actress who plays Ellen in Inmates could not believe how the story played out in the end as the actors went over their lines earlier. 

Every single one of the people inside the writers room felt heavy, even Kim and Tina who supported Derek's decision wholeheartedly got a little choked up when the actors ran through their final lines. Given the calibre of their cast, they delivered their lines exceptionally well and with perfect execution, it made everyone emotional towards the end. 

Allie had to put up a brave face but her shaky voice confirmed her dissention in this direction. "O-our h-hands are tied. The higher ups have got the final say on this." she explained with all honesty. 

"Well I for one don’t agree with it. It’s a horrible take if you ask me. And then I'm supposed to get a new love arc? Do they not know how grieving feels. Geez. Railroad much?" The disappointed tone in the actor's voice wasn't hard to miss and somehow, she could also feel that this decision had not gone down well for the writers too. They loved their characters as much as the actors themselves. 

"Alycia?" Vera asked from behind the pair having just left the writers room. 

"We are bringing back Becca's character right? This is just a cliffhanger for the finale?" Alycia pleaded. Her eyes shifting between their story editor and co-executive producer. 

"Allie?" 

"Vera?" 

Allie gave Alycia a sad smile while Vera couldn't even look her in the eyes. "Your silence is not very comforting right now."

Vera changed the topic rather drastically not wanting to get into any more details than necessary. "There's a close door meeting later with some of the actors and their management, I believe the invitation was extended to you and your manager. Everything will be hashed out later."

Derek was a no show for their table read earlier and Vera had hoped that he will join them in the meeting later. She's disappointed to say the least but she must stay strong and show a unified front even if she herself doesn't approve of this direction. She has to manage the situation to the best of her abilities.

Allie excused herself and walked away from the writer’s room. She needed some fresh air  before the writer’s notes starts in a few minutes.

She took out her phone and typed out a single message. 

I miss you. I hope you and Debbie are having a blast right now.

 


Bea and Debbie finished the University of Melbourne academic tour early and Debbie was simply taking it all in. Their programs were very flexible but also competitive and if Debbie's being honest, she felt a bit overwhelmed by them. 

And Bea noticed how her daughter’s face turned a little blue when their student guide explained some of their major and minor programs. She figured, Debbie had no such reaction on their tour at UNSW, maybe she'll be more comfortable there than here. 

Just when Bea was about to point it out, her mobile phone vibrated from her pocket. 

She took it out and read Allie's message. 

Noticing the beautiful smile on her mother's face, Debbie hassled her a bit. 

"That's Allie right?" she asked, though she already know the answer.

"How did you know sweetheart?" Bea was surprised to hear that Debbie guessed correctly. What gave it away?

"Your smile mum. You only have that when Allie's around. And I guess Allie's text has the same effect on you. She teased her now blushing mother.

Here mum, let me." The cheeky teen swiped her mums phone and took a crying face selfie while her mum was a scowling photobomber.

Melbourne's a bore. Wish you were here. And oh, mum misses you too. - Deb. 

She hit send even before her mom could take her phone back.

Cheeky, just cheeky. 

Bea was about to protest but Debbie beat her to it. 

“Well you do. Like earlier when we passed by that street art instalation for Novak Djokovic, you smiled and took a photo of that one panel with the words Novak's World or when we passed by the LGBT Center and they gave those fliers. I think you kept one in your bag. The one with Allies Unite. She gestured air quotes with her hands to emphasize her point and then gave her mom a playful grin. 

“Nothing gets by you huh?” Bea shook her head in amusement, her daughter really is a hoot.

“I know everything mum!” she replied smugly.

“Okay then, Miss-know-it-all, where are we off to next?”

“Oh that’s easy mum, food! Glorious food!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 37
A Tale of Two Visits

 

On Wednesday night, Debbie was invited to a concert hosted by the student government at the university grounds as a way to end the last day of their open house. After making new friends at the orientation earlier that day, Bea allowed her daughter to attend the event for as long as she stays in the university grounds and that she’ll be back at the hotel by ten. She wanted to give Debbie a breather to meet new people that would make her decide with certainty if this uni is really for her. 

And so at eight in the evening, while Bea was having a quiet night, enjoying some binge watching time, the hotel phone rang loud, interrupting her alone time.

She picked up the line after the third ring. "Hello?" 

“Hello, yes ma’am. Good evening! We have a Karen Proctor here for you. Would you like us to send her up?” 

“Oh yes, please do. Thank you.” She wasn’t expecting Kaz tonight. Her plan was to visit her the next morning on her free day as Debbie’s schedule on campus pretty much occupied their first three days in Melbourne. It was a day early but since she was going to visit Kaz anyway, then tonight is not such a bad night to have a mini-reunion with her friend.

 

Kaz still looks exactly the way Bea remembered her. Her long blonde hair tied in a high pony tail, her blue eyes still fierce as ever but with a little hint of exhaustion there but just the same amount of fire. 

She’s still wearing that smug look, always on guard but her demeanor seemed different somehow. A little more annoyed than their last meeting and if Bea was being honest, she felt a tiny bit of hostility from her friend.

"I heard you've got yourself a girlfriend, Bea?" Kaz went straight for the kill, not even sparing a few seconds for a quick hi or hello.

"Allie told you." Bea was studying Kaz’ body language in an attempt to get a read on what’s going through her mind right now. She seemed extremely pissed off.

"Allie told me a lot of things." Kaz moved towards the couch but decided against it in the last minute and stayed by the door.

Bea was confused at Kaz’ behavior. She treaded carefully in hopes of getting to the bottom of the blonde's anger. "I am sensing some hostility here, Kaz. What’s going on?”

“What’s going on she asks? Kaz scoffed and rolled her eyes.

What’s going on with you? You tell me! she spat out sharply, her temper reaching boiling point. 

What's the catch, Bea? What’s in it for you? Is she another one of your projects, is it? Aren’t there any more stories out there that you’d want to exploit?"

"What??!? What the fuck are you on about, Kaz?" Bea was all sorts of confused now. Surely she doesn't think that? There must be a mistake. The sharp tone in Kaz' voice was quickly pissing her off too. 

But Kaz was on a roll, hurling vile accusations at Bea. "What angle are you spinning this time, ex-prostitute, ex-junkie, reformed by the system? Is that why you’re so interested in her?" Kaz waved her finger at Bea's face. Her rage ripped through her. 

"There was never an angle! I care about her Kaz!" Bea yelled back. Her irritation flared. She crossed a fucking line. 

"Oh spare me the you-only-want-whats-best bull crap! You wanted an angle and you got a pretty convenient backstory to spin! Leave her the fuck alone, Bea!" Kaz pushed some more, her tone mocking this time. She was fake-laughing now. 

But Bea wasn't amused. "You can't possibly think that I would ever do that?" 

"You did it before! You did it with that fucking docco and now I have to live with it!" 

Bea moved closer, her hands balled in a fist on her side. Her temper has reached it's limits. "There was no spin! You knew exactly what we put out there and it all gave you a chance to be free!" 

Not backing down, Kaz stepped forward too, mirroring Bea's defensive stance. "No! You fucking wanted me to say sorry for the camera. You wanted me to show the world that I regret bashing those fuckers and now what happened? I lost the women, I lost the group and for what?"

"For your freedom, Kaz! Are you fucking mental? You're fucking free!" Bea threw her hands up in frustration. I don't fucking get it!

"Whoever said I deserve it, huh?" Kaz mumbled under her breath. 

"What?" Bea shook her head. Did I hear that right? But that wasn't the point. 

Seeing that this conversation is going nowhere as Kaz was not ready to hear Bea out and wanting to be the bigger person, Bea decided to throw in the towel, for now atleast.

"You know what, fine! Is that what you want to hear, then fine! Whatever beef that you have with me, Kaz. It's between you and me. We leave Allie out of this!"

And as predicted, Kaz won't simply let go. "How fucking convenient! No, Smith! You leave Allie alone! If I've known what I'd lose, I wouldn't have gone through it at all."


And that was it, Bea finally snapped. She's riled up now and went straight for offense. "I thought we were on the same page, Kaz! That you wanted your freedom as much as we did! So what happened huh?" 

"Don't!" Kaz slowly backed away. 

But Bea kept walking towards her. "Don't what?" 

Kaz raised her hand up, warning Bea. "Don't push me!" 

But Bea didn't heed her demand. She was too riled up to stop now. "So you come at me, after seven fucking years of radio silence, spewing this shit and you expect me to just take it? 

Come on then? Make it make sense, Kaz?

You say you're for the women. That you fight for those who can't. And you damn right know that there's a better chance for us to fight for them out here than being stuck inside that shitty place! So what is it really about, huh?

What is this about, Kaz?"

"Stop it, Smith!" Kaz yelled as she kept stepping back until finally she was backed into a wall. 

And Bea kept coming for her. "What is it? Kaz! Just fucking tell me, damn it!"

"I didn't deserve it! I still don't! Kaz screamed, stunning Bea in to silence, halting her steps. 

Because everyday since I got out, I'm reminded that I stole this chance from someone else because she had to be a fucking hero.

I've made my peace with what I did and I've accepted my fate inside. She should have been the one living her life out here. Not me. She should have survived and not me!" The anger in her voice was gone, replaced by something more painful and unbearable to hear.

And then something clicked in Bea's head. She heard Rita's voice. And then Allie's. 

Top dog before her, Kaz was her 2IC.

She uhm died in the fire, that's why Kaz took over.

Remember that episode in Inmates where Becca saved another prisoner during that prison fire and she came out injured but alive? Well, the real life Rebecca... mom.. she wasn’t as lucky.

They told me that mom died a hero.

It gave little comfort knowing that mom’s final deed was to save another life…

In that moment Bea knew that it was never really about her. This was Kaz and her survivor's guilt. That it was easier for Kaz to lash out on her than to deal with her own guilty conscience.

"That was you.. Rebecca saved you." she whispered but Kaz heard her loud and clear. Kaz' icy glare quickly turned into pleading eyes. "Does Allie even know?" 

Kaz didn't need to answer. The look of sheer terror on her face when Bea asked the question was all the confirmation that she needed.   

"Stay away from her, Smith! Just stay the fuck away from her!" 

Kaz stormed out of the room and slammed the door hard leaving a stunned Bea, who was still standing in the now silent room, completely speechless. 

 

 

 

 


Allie was in the middle of dinner when a loud banging sound from the door broke her peaceful night. She looked at her watch, 8:00 pm, she wasn't expecting anyone. 

"It's me, Novak. Open up!" she heard Derek's booming voice from the other side of the door.

She dashed out of her kitchen and headed straight for the door but didn't open it.

“This is not okay, Derek! What time is it anyway?” 

In all the years that she'd worked at GMA, she never once had a house visit from any of their producers. 

“Are you gonna open up or am I suppose to yell at you through the door and wake your fucking neighbors, yeah?"

Against her better judgment, she opened the door hesitantly. 

"What do you want, Derek. This is a total violation of my privacy!" Allie spat out, irritated. 

"Sign the damn thing, Novak!" He slurred  as her barged into Allie's home. He reeked of alcohol, he's utterly pissed.  

"Why the hell would I do that? It says here that future development of Inmates, my characters would be subject to fucking impossible stipulations. Fine print of this is, I lose all my intellectual property rights over my creations. You could simply say fuck all, and I'd be out of job and I lose this. Why would I fucking do that?" 

"Just sign that fucking thing! You'll regret it if you don't!" He yelled towering over the blonde writer.

But Allie's no pushover. She doesn't take too kindly to threats. “Are you threatening me in my own home? Get the fuck out! Now! I'm calling the police! Get the fuck out!" Allie was fuming. Who does he think he is? Showrunner or not, this is my home! 

"You forced my hand in to this!" Derek pulled out a brown envelope from his jacket pocket and shoved them forcefully in Allie's hand.  

Allie took it hesitantly and pulled out the contents. The envelope was filled with old photographs. Allie didn't recognized them at first but as she leafed through the photos further, she recognized her own young self. 

Her hair dishevelled, her eyes glazed clearly high. In some photos she was wearing the skimpiest of skirts, tight midriffs shooting drugs with different people, mostly men. While in some, she was barely covered at all, with her former clients doing what they paid her to do. And as she went through the photos, the worst it got until she can no longer look at them anymore.  

“What the fuck? She pushed Derek back. She felt like throwing up.

Why do you have...? Where did you...? Her heart was beating fast, she could feel the anger rising from within.

You fucking prick!" Allie threw a mean right hook across Derek's ugly mug. 

The impact made the showrunner stumble backwards, his mouth bleed from where Allie's fist made contact.

And Allie kept punching, the rage inside her exploded.

After enduring a couple more hits, Derek forcibly shoved Allie away, creating a safe distance between them. "Y-you c-can hit me all you want, you slut!" 

He wiped the blood from the cormer of his mouth. "But this doesn't go away! I'd make sure everyone who so much have a phone sees this. This will end you, bitch!" 

But Allie wasn’t fazed. Yes, the photos maybe true and they were horrible and ugly moments caught on camera but who would fucking care about an ordinary writer. No one.

"Then go the fuck ahead, I'm a fucking nobody! A small time writer. No one knows me. I'm not a fucking household name. This scandal or whatever won't even be picked up by online tabloids. So fuck you, Derek!" Allie snarled, she had a feral look on her face, ready to show this prick that she has nothing to lose.

"Pfft. You didn't think this through, missy." He scoffed, casually fixing his torn shirt. He almost laughed at how Allie miscalculated her options. "Your current squeeze." He teased with an evil grin. 

"What?" Allie was confused. What the fuck is he smiling about?

"Bea Smith."

Her name sounded dirty in his mouth. 

"Bea would never judge me, she knows my past. She would never!" 

Derek moved closer but hesitated in the last second. "Sure." 

Instead of moving forward, he backed away with his arms raised in surrender. "She probably won't. That classy, elegant woman has a good head on her shoulders, sure." 

He picked up one of the photos that Allie threw on the floor and clutched it in his hand. "You know it's one thing to tell someone the grimy, horrible, dirty things that you did in the past, it's another to let them see for themselves what you did exactly. 

He waved the photo in his hand in the air, taunting Allie even more. "I particularly like this one, this old geezer with his hand in your pants while you're shooting up, what is this…smack? H? or fucking E? Fucking money shot, that's what it is!" He smirked.

"Y-you fu-fucker!" Allie launched herself at Derek, her right arm choking his throat, pinning him to the wall.

"F-fucking bi-tch! St-op stop it!" Derek gasped for breath as Allie kept a strong hold of his air passage. 

It took all the power that was left in him to shove Allie away. 

"You're.. uhh.. fucking... radioactive, Novak!" he yelled almost out of breath.

"Everything you touch turns nuclear. Maybe you just don't care enough about Bea to let her burn with you. You're a fucking selfish cunt! That's what you are!

And Bea's daughter.. what's her name? Debbie innit? Poor, sweet, innocent Debbie.” 

"Don't you dare fucking mention her name!" Allie growled angrily. 

"All I'm saying is she starts uni soon, right? Do you know the suicide rate for students that gets bullied by their mates? It's fucking high! It's brutal out there and she's so very very young." Derek continued, spewing twisted narratives to convince Allie to give it up. There's no way she'll fight now

"Do you know how much shit she'll get for this? Award winning showrunner involved with a lying junkie street whore!" 

Derek saw how her rage quickly turned to fear. He knows guilt, all shades and colors of it. Allie was indeed fearless, she doesn't care what happens to her but her guilty conscience proved to be stronger than her resolve.

Derek studied the dossier that Jacs gave him. He read it from cover to cover. He studied her past to know exactly what strings to pull to cut through every defense that Allie will ultimately mount. 

And finally, he gave up his last card. "Or do you want another death in your conscience?

"How many more will die because you were too stubborn to let this go? Your father. Your mother." Derek was putting on a hell of a show, counting the dead bodies with his hands as though they meant so little. 

But Allie was still fighting back. "Mom died in the fire. There was nothing I could do!" 

"But why was she in prison in the first place? You put her in harms way. And now you're gonna do the same to Debbie. Think, Novak! For fuck's sake! Think!" 

Allie was on the verge of tears now. "Why are you doing this?"

"Does it matter why? Some sins have no fucking absolution and if you can slither your way to delay the inevitable judgment day, you grab it by the fucking neck." 

Allie glanced again at the photographs scattered all over the floor. Her young self, with blood shot eyes, that hazy look on her face, she was out of it and these random men were doing whatever they can to her frail exposed body. 

She couldn't bear to look at them anymore. She felt disgusted. Dirty. And couldn't let anyone else be hurt because of her. No one is going to die again. 

She pulled herself together just enough to grab the contract on the counter and signed them quickly. She shoved the papers on Derek's chest. "Here! Now get the fuck out!"

Derek did not need to be told twice. He gathered the contract and hurriedly left, slamming the door hard.

He took out his phone and hit speed dial. After two rings, the other line answered his call. 

"It's done."

Chapter Text

Chapter 38
The Next Flight Out


"That's good. Click. Perfect right there. Click. Now chin up. Click

I think that's it. We got the perfect shot, right here. Thanks girls!" Debbie excitedly showed the LCD screen on her camera to the two women who were gracious enough to let her take their photos.

"Thanks Debbie! Tag us, yeah?" the cheeky looking blonde asked Debbie, apparently satisfied with her shots. 

"Oh defo! Thanks again!" she replied almost immediately.

Debbie waved and bid her goodbyes at both women who happily posed for her while she was flexing her street photography skills at Hosier Lane on Thursday morning. 

Both Debbie and Bea wanted to get in early so as avoid the expected crowd of locals and tourists alike in one of Melbourne's busiest laneways, as part of their scenic photowalk of the city. 

Bea was hanging back on the sidewalk, a few feet away as Debbie roamed freely along the sloping laneway with her camera in tow. Eventhough she's physically present, her mind was elsewhere. 

Last night, Bea waited until Debbie was home before she tucked herself away in her room but she barely managed to sleep as her overthinking mind was still on edge because of that ambush showdown with Kaz.

"Did you see what I did there mum? Aunt Franky taught me this neat trick with long exposure. You'll get those dramatic blurs for the moving parts in the background but the subject still looks sharp!" Debbie was excitedly explaining as she walked towards her mom.  

"You did great, sweetheart. Franky will definitely want to see those shots." the redhead mumbled with a weak smile.

Debbie noticed that her mom seemed distracted. It's been like than since she got back from the concert last night. She would usually ask about her night but this time around, her mum was weirdly spaced out. Usually, if her mom was too tired the night before, it would automatically have been the first on her agenda the very next day but on this Thursday morning, her mother was simply distracted.

She stepped closer, assessing her mom's features. "What's wrong, mum? Is it work? Are you needed back in LA?" 

Bea shook her head. "No, sweetheart."
 
"Is it Allie? Is she hurt? We can fly back right now!" Debbie swiftly stored her 85mm camera lens on her bag, just about ready to go. 

"Nothing's wrong, Deb." Bea gently squeezed her daughter's shoulder, stopping her from storing her gear. If only Allie was here, she'd be so moved to see Debbie showing this much concern for her. 

"So why the space cadet just now? Did you and Allie had a fight?"

"No, not at all." Bea wanted to stop right there. She thought about involving Debbie in this but from the look that Debbie was giving off, she won't stop with the twenty questions. 

"Remember that prison docco we filmed years ago, turns out one of the people that we featured, Kaz, was actually a very important person to Allie and last night, well, she paid me a visit instead of me going to her today. Long story short, let's just say it didn't go down well and I haven't been able to contact her or Allie since then."

"Oh.. Do you think your talk with Kaz and not hearing anything from Allie is related?" 

Bea blew out her cheeks. "It's not far off. The last thing I'd want is for this to come in between her and Kaz." 

"Hmmm.. I'm thinking mum... I'm kinda getting bored here anyway. Let's go back!" Debbie suggested enthusiastically.

"Deb... sweetheart, I can't let you do that. We've only been here for four days."

"Mum, I figured you're sulking. Allie's probably sulking back in Sydney. How about I let you two be sulky together. And while you're both being all sulky faces, talk things through and then you both hash it out with Kaz. Okay that's our new game plan! Chop chop!" Debbie clapped her hands in a one-two beat urging her mom to get onboard with her plan.

Bea cackled. "How did you get to be so smart?"

"Well, I am part you. Part Aunt Maxie, a little bit of Aunt Franky mix somewhere and I think I'm part Allie too. I'm claiming her mum, no backsies, now!" was Debbie's cheeky reply.

And before a stunned Bea could even get a word out, her sassy daughter was showing her the earliest flights to Sydney on her mobile phone. 

"Here mum, let's catch the next flight outta here!" 

 

After securing their flight, which about gives them a little over four hours before they needed to pack their stuff and check out of their hotel, Debbie pulled her mum over to one of the enormous colourful murals. 

"Stay there." she instructed as she mounted her alternate 50mm lens on her gear, her go-to nifty fifty. 

"It's your turn now, mum! Come on!" she hyped up her mom in an attempt to shake off her funk. 

"Deb.." Bea protested but Debbie was persistent. After an two-second stare off with her daughter, she grimaced and gave in which made Debbie raise her hand in victory. "Yes!"

 

 

"Stay still. Click. Look up. Click. Turn slightly left. Click. Look over your shoulder. Click." 

Bea was hesitant at first, she really wasn't into getting her photo taken but with the way her daughter was directing her pose, little by little she slowly loosened up even the dread that she'd been feeling the whole night felt lesser, not entirely gone but more bearable, at least. 

Seeing the light coming back in her mom's eyes, she decided to turn it up a notch. Something that her favorite aunt taught her. A trick, she said, to put humor back in directing photoshoots.

"Now stay with me, mum. Click. Hold the collar of your shirt with both hands. Click. Good. Click. Raise your chin up. Click. Better. Click. Now bite your lower lip. Click."

"What?" Bea, with chin raised up and both her hands still clutching the collar of her shirt, glared at her daughter, with one eyebrow raised. She's not going to do just that.

"Just do it mum! Please?"

She rolled her eyes. Just this once. "Fine"  

"Now bite your upper lip this time. Click."

Bea did exactly as instructed without thinking. She bit her upper lip and felt a little silly.

She looked down and she saw her daughter holding back her laugh. Clearly it was a trick.

"Why you little!" she called out to her prankster of a daughter.

"Sorry mum! Aunt Franky made me do it!" 

Debbie sprinted towards the other side of the alley, laughing all the way while Bea was left shaking her head in amusement. 

 

 

 

 


Fifty seven. Fifty eight. Fifty nine. Sixty. It's exactly eight in the morning. 

And just like that it's been twelve hours since Allie's world came crashing down. Twelve brutal and unforgiving hours of going back and forth, her mind rewinding the events play by play like a twisted post-game analysis of how a peaceful night turned into a complete disaster.

Fifty seven. Fifty eight. Fifty nine. Sixty. It's eight thirty.

Allie was sitting in the middle of her messed up flat, a reflection of the messed up state of her head. Most of her furniture had clearly been moved, throw pillows were everywhere, her succulents and precious ferns were toppled down and those cursed photos were scattered all over her wooden floor. She couldn't even look at them anymore. 

Fifty seven. Fifty eight. Fifty nine. Sixty. It's nine fifteen.

She's seething because she felt backed into a corner forced into an impossible choice. And the questions came crashing down overwhelming her altogether. 

Who's the sick fucker that would keep something like this all these years? Why would Derek use it? Why is he gunning for the show? What will I do now? Should I tell Bea? Is Debbie and Bea in danger because of me? She's been scrambling her mind as to the why of it all, the bigger why, the only why but she was too angry to think straight.

Fifty seven. Fifty eight. Fifty nine. Sixty. It's nine fifty.

Her mobile phone started ringing, the sound coming all the way from her bedroom. It stopped momentarily and then the pinging of the messages came one after another. 

She forced herself up to retrieve her phone not bothering to clean up the mess. 

She had eight missed calls and twelve messages.

A few messages from Kaz asking for a call back. One from Vera saying that Derek has vouched for her for the day and was just checking in. Another from Stella if she was coming on set today.  Franky was asking about dinner plans with Boomer. And two messages from Bea.

Bea
Kaz came by the hotel last night. We had a spat. She left angry. 

"Jesus Christ! Seriously, Kaz?" When she called Kaz on Sunday and told her that she was seeing Bea, Kaz was uncharacteristically quiet and was simply letting her talk. When she asked her how she felt about it or anything about their docco together, Kaz made an excuse that she'll call her back and hung up. She didn't call back. She should have known that her silence was deadly.

Bea
I'm getting worried, Al. If you could find a moment, can you call me back?

Bea. Her Bea. Her precious Bea worrying about her. She tried typing a message but she had no words. Her scrambled mind was making it impossible to type out a single decent message. After typing, deleting, typing again and deleting for the nth time. She gave up. 

She could feel the walls closing in on her and she's suffocating. Without giving it a second thought, she grabbed her keys, wallet and jacket and bolted out of her flat. 

She needed a breather.  

Fifty seven. Fifty eight. Fifty nine. Sixty. It was ten when she left.

 

 

Carly was out on an errand, antique shopping to be precise. Looking for that weird green rock that her boss was determined to own. 

No green Burmese jadeite or the imperial malachite dragon rocks for her, nope, it's nephritic jade or bust. Her boss insisted that she scour every nook and crany of the city to look for this particular piece of fossil. She was on the last shop on the list and after spending the greater part of her morning antique-diving she had called it quits. 

As she was about to leave the last store, she saw someone who vaguely looked like Allie walking by on the other side of the street.

She'd only ever seen Allie in her fashionable and very well put together outfits of the day, so this woman who looked a lot like Allie, wearing baggy pants, loose shirt, dark jacket and with bed head hair striked her interest. If she really was Allie, maybe the lowkey grunge look was her ensemble for today. Her inner fashionista was making her case.

She crossed the street and jogged all the way to catch up. When she was directly behind her, Carly tapped her shoulder. "Allie?"

When Allie turned around, she looked like a train wreck. Her hair was even worse closed-up, her eyes looked sore like she'd been crying all night, and she looked rough. At that exact moment, Allie's state triggered Carly's memory from weeks ago. 

"Take this." Jacs handed her a red folder as she walked past but she was too slow to react, the contents then spilled on the floor. 

"Oh for fuck's sakes. Just pick it up." Jacqs instructed as she scrambled to get all the documents back to the folder. She noticed a few photos of a young blonde woman, hair dishevelled, make up smudged, hazy look on her eyes and then she quickly tucked them back inside the folder. 

It finally dawned on her. That's where she remembered that face. It was Allie's face. A lot younger and a somewhat different version of her but she was sure that it was Allie. The same Allie who was standing before her now.  

"Uh.. Carly.. hey! Allie mumbled, suddenly conscious of her look. She wasn't expecting to bump into anyone today, especially Debbie's bestfriend.

Carly wasn't sure what Allie was saying because she was focusing too much on her face. She only heard the last part of it. 

... yeah.. I know.. I look like a mess..."

Carly held her hand up. "No.. No.. Not at all.. erm.. well maybe just a tiny bit. Nothing like a good primer and a concealer mixed with a few drops of BB cream can't solve, for the bags." Carly suggested as she pointed at Allie's eyes with an exaggerated eyeroll to boot. Spoken like a true MUA youtuber. 

Allie laughed at Carly's attempt to reassure her. It felt good to laugh for a bit. Carly's witty comment reminded her so much of Debbie. It made her heart momentarily happy and then a pang of pain hit her. 

"You looked.." the young teen hesitated.

"What is it Carly?" Allie leaned in to hear what Carly has to say.

"I'm just trying to remember something. I have to go, Allie." Carly replied in haste and was already mentally calculating where to go. 

Allie was taken a back but simply smiled at the nervous teen. "Yeah sure, see you around. Carly."

Carly hugged Allie, said her goodbye and dashed off.

Carly's almost one hundred percent sure that the documents her boss handed to Mr. Channing that night had to be something about Allie. It just had to be. What are they up to? Why Allie? What about Deb and Aunt Bea? There are a billion of questions running around her head and there's only one way to find out more.

But she had to be sure. And she couldn't wait for another second to get to the bottom of it. She jumped on her car and drove fast. Her destination, CBN Network.  

 


Carly was inside the lift, rushing to head up, maniacally pushing the lift buttons in the hopes of speeding it up. She checked her phone again, the same one that was synced with the desktop computer on her station upstairs. Chairman Jacs should be out for brunch for a few more minutes then a board meeting in thirty, that means her office is empty for atleast two hours, just enough time to snoop around to find something, anything that would link Allie to her boss. 

She trudged the long hallway of the 18th floor, like the way she had for the hundredth time and when she reached the doors to the chairman's office, she pushed it open only to stop herself mid-push when she heard the arguing voices inside. One was from Chairman Jacs and the other was from a woman's voice, an unfamiliar one. 

"It's done, Jacs. She signed the contract. That's it. It's over, now."

"It's over when I say it's over!" There was a loud thudding sound. She must have slapped the table, Carly guessed. 

"This will destroy her, you know that, have you no heart?" 

"Just do your fucking job, Jago! I'm not paying you for an ethics lecture! Just do it!" 

Just then, Jacs noticed that her door was slightly ajar and the dark haired head of her intern was slightly peaking out.

"Carly! What are you doing hanging back there?" Jacs yelled at her intern who slowly opened the door and went all the way in. 

Shit! Busted! Carly screamed internally. Thinking on her feet, she composed herself and flashed her phone. 

"Just.. uhm.. a gentle reminder Madam of your.. uhm.. board meeting in twenty minutes." 

"Mhm. I'll be out in a few." Jacs seemed to have accepted Carly's explanation and waved her hand dismissively. 

Carly skedaddled to her work station, glad that she managed to get herself out of that bind. 

After a while, Roz came out, clutching a brown envelope in her hands. Carly managed to take a ninja shot of her as she passed by her desk. She had a bad feeling about this one. 

Then a few minutes after, Chairman Jacs came out of her office. "Hold all my calls and make sure my ride is ready after the meeting. I'm leaving right after." she instructed.

"Yes, Madam." Carly walked her boss all the way to the lifts. Jacs stepped inside while Carly stayed on the 18th floor. When the lift doors closed she almost sprinted towards the Chairman's office. 

 


The Chairman's office looked rather imposing. Although Carly had only been an intern for a little over a year, she was so used to coming in and out of this office but not really staying for too long. And now that she's all alone in this massive room, she felt a little overwhelmed on where to start looking without raising any suspicions.

"If I were a something secret, where would I be hiding?" she talked to herself as she scanned the grandiose room.

"Somewhere safe, perhaps?" She turned her head towards one of the paintings on wall where a not-so-secret vault was located. The intern before her shared that secret with her. Deadend.

"But it should also be somewhere that I can easily get rid of if I was something illegal?" she looked at the the bin. Highly unlikely.

"Or if it's something personal, maybe I should be somewhere close enough that I could pull it out, just like that." She moved closer to Chairman Jacs' massive mahogany desk. Center drawer. Bingo

She hastily opened the drawer and found a bunch of envelopes with the logo of the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Some opened and some remained sealed. 

A few white envelopes with postage from Wentworth Women's Correctional Facility.

She lifted a few. "Mum made a documentary here!"

Next was a photo of what appeared to be a rock nephritic jade inside a zip locked evidence bag. 

Carly picked it up. "What the? Is this what I've been scouring the entire city for?" she asked incredulously.

As Carly leafed through it some more, at the bottom of the pile, there it was, a photo of a young smiling Allie along with a blonde older man, who appeared to be, as Carly guessed, Allie's father. 


And then she remembered something from weeks back.

She opened the door to the office of the Chairman and CEO of CBN Network. 

The chairman was standing by the window, nursing a glass of what appears to be whiskey and clutching a photo on her other. 

"Madame, Mr. Channing, for you" she said softly, catching the attention of Jacs. 

"Ah yes." she said as she walked back to her table, placing the drink on top and opening a drawer to place the photo inside. 


And then another time when her boss hid a photo from a week ago.

Carly hung up her phone and smoothed her shirt before entering the office of her boss, Chairman Jacs. 

She sees her boss sitting quietly in her chair, clutching a photo on her hand and a glass of whiskey on the other. Her presence must have startled her boss as she quickly hid the photo in the drawer. 

 

She pulled out her phone and snapped a bunch of photos of the drawer. 

Was this the exact photo she was hiding? What does it mean? Is Allie in trouble? What about Debbie and Aunt Bea?

The questions were mounting and Carly was in a state of panic for Allie, Debbie, Bea and even herself as she was in the middle of it all. 

Her anxiety reached an all time high, the pounding of her heart was so intense she felt it in her ears. 

In her panic, her hand automatically dialled the number of the first person in the whole world that she completely trust and can always count on to keep her safe.

After two rings, the other line answered. 

In a trembling voice, she called out. "Mum?"

 

 


The flight back to Sydney felt like the longest one that Bea ever took. She couldn't wait to land and find Allie. Her messages were left on read and she was seriously worried. 

The cab ride to the hotel was a blur as all Bea could think of right was Allie and Allie alone. As they hauled their luggage on the lobby, from the corner of her eye she spotted a blonde woman who quickly stood up from one of the couch at the hotel lounge and made her way towards her. 

Bea let's out relieved sigh. She was just here all along, she silently mused.

And when Bea's eyes finally registered her face, her smile quickly turned into a disappointed frown. 

"Erica?"

Chapter Text

Chapter 39
Finding Allie


"I'm just gonna take these up, mum" Debbie excused herself and hauled both their luggage towards the lift. 

She didn't know exactly what's going on but she'd recognized her mum's unexpected visitor as her aunt Franky's ex-girlfriend, the one and only Erica who ghosted her. 

"Good luck to her!" she sniggered. She knows how her mom can put the fear of God into anyone who was foolish enough to mess with her family. And Franky definitely is family. 

As she stepped out of the lift, she almost bumped into a blonde woman who was hurrying to head down before the door close entirely. 

"Sorry." The teen apologised and rolled their luggage to the side. 

"Yeah yeah sure." Roz mumbled quickly, got inside the lift and pressed the close doors button to speed up the process. She massaged her eyes acting as though she had a headache of sorts but was in reality, a simple ploy to hide her face. 

Debbie dragged their luggage along the long hallway until finally, she reached their suite. As she swiped her card to get inside, she almost tripped on the brown envelope that was left by the door, unsealed and a bit bulky. She turned the dossier over to see who it's for. 

Smith.

 

 

 

 


Back at the lounge, Erica was attempting to reason with Bea but the redhead was having none of it. She moved closer only to be shutdown by Bea's hand gesturing for her to stop. 

"Uh-uh no! You don't get to come here and straight up lie to my face, no!" Bea was seething. Erica cheated on her bestfriend. She had every right to be angry. 

Erica disregarded the warning. "Hear me out, Bea. Please." She walked closer.

By instinct, Bea backed away to maintain a safe distance. "Barking up the wrong tree! Why come back now? Huh?" 

"I just want to make it right." she said honestly. 

But it only irked Bea more. She should be facing off with Franky, not her. "Then make it right with the one person that you betrayed!" the irritable tone of her voice was hard to miss and was a little bit too loud, it made a few people from the lounge look their way.  

And she saw how Erica looked around and gestured for her to tone it down a little. Optics. She is after all marrying a public official. 

"I've tried, Bea. I've been trying. She won't pick up the goddamn phone!" Erica appealed, her voice desperate.

"Then try harder! I'm not your fucking emissary! Fix your own fuck up!" Bea stormed off. She had nothing more to say to Erica.

"He wasn't gunning for me, you know. I was just in the way." Erica called out to the fuming redhead.

But Bea kept walking and angrily spat back. "What?"

"Channing. The show, Bea. He wants the show to tank. And if my hunch is correct, he'll be after the creator next." Erica spilled, finally.  

Bea stopped dead on her tracks as Erica's words hit her hard. "Allie!" 

 

 

 

Bea rushed up to their suite to check on Debbie first. Her hand was on her phone dialling Allie's number for the nth time and getting her voice mail yet again. "Where is she?" 

Maybe this wasn't related to Kaz? Maybe this was Derek? 

When she finally got inside their suite, she noticed their luggage left by the door and her daughter clutching a brown envelope and a bunch of photos on her hand. Debbie looked distraught. 

"Mum! I-I...uh.. I didn't see the entire thing. Just a few photos. It's bad mum." She nervously handed her mom everything. She was on the verge of crying. Her throat was hurting from holding back the tears. 

"What is it, Deb?" She took the photos off her daughters hand and inspected each one.

She flipped through the few photos that Debbie saw, a young Allie in a small room, alone with a dozen of beer cans all over. Drunk, she thinks. Then the next photo, Allie was alone again, this time wearing a very short skirt and a fitted tank, she was holding a bottle of whiskey. She looked extremely high. The next photo, she was alone again but this time she was clearly shooting up, the three lines of white powder on the glass table were deliberately caught in the frame. 

She looked at her daughter. No wonder she was rattled, she didn't know Allie's past and it came as a surprise to her. But Bea did, because Allie wanted her to know everything about her.  

Bea gave Debbie a reassuring nod. A sign that it's okay, she knows about it. 

She then pulled out the other photos inside the envelope and what she saw in there angered her instantly. She didn't need to look at the entire thing, it was clear as day that some twisted son of a bitch violated Allie's privacy. Her rage was biblical at this point. 

"I don't know what to do, mum! Who would hurt Allie like this?" her daughter's voice was so small, so weak that Bea instantly pulled her into her arms and hugged her tightly. 

Bea's mind was in overdrive. Who sent this? Who's the twisted fucker who took them in the first place? Has Allie seen any of it? But the most important question on her mind right now, where is Allie?

As if reading her mind, Debbie pulled back and with a determined voice, she spoke up. "Let's bring her home, mum!"

 

Their first stop was at Allie's flat but no one was answering the door, it seemed pretty empty. They drove by the coffeeshop where she met Debbie but still no sign of Allie. She hasn't called back. Even her socials were inactive.

"Nope, nothing on Instagram or Twitter mum. If LinkedIn had geolocation on, I'd be searching in there too." Her tech-savy daughter was tracking her online presence to look for clues as to Allie's possible whereabouts. 

"If those photos were sent to her, she must be feeling so alone right now. She shouldn't be alone right now." Bea mused as they drove around Allie's neighborhood at the off chance that she just went out for a walk.

"That's it! Debbie squealed beside her. She had an epiphany.

She mentioned a cafe she used to go to, for spoken word poetry night for when she needs to vent out or something like that!" 

"Allie's performs?" This was brand new information to Bea but wasn't at all surprised. Allie truly is exceptionally talented. 

"Yup! She used to like ages ago." 

"What's the address, Deb?" 

"I'm on google maps.. wait a sec.. got it! Angel's Cafe, corner of Queens Rd and Central Ave. Go go go!" 

 


Angel's Cafe was a cozy little haven for the artsy crowd with subdued interiors, dark and muted color palettes. The vibe seemed warm and friendly adding to that over all homey and laid-back ambience.

There was a small stage right smack in the center, where a good number of patrons crowded near the stage. 

As Bea and Debbie walked inside, they were greeted by a busy mostly younger crowd, not quite what they were expecting on a Thursday night. 

And then Bea heard her. That sweet melodic voice of Allie reverberating all over the room. Bea knows that voice. Her words sounded slurry but still, it was her Allie. 

They followed the voice and much to their surprise, Allie was taking center stage, mid-performance of her piece. 

Even though Allie looked totally hammered, flailing her arms awkwardly, slurring her words, she is still THE most beautiful woman that Bea had ever seen. As if on cue, her heart thumped wildly in her chest. Damn. That Allie effect.

They stayed at the back, not wanting to spook her and watched as Allie continued her performance on stage.

Allie leaned closer to the microphone, sweeping a quick glance on the entire room but her vision was a bit blurry now. 

But I am more than my walks of shame. 
More than 'em grotty back alley hookups and casual one night stands.

She looked down at here hands, illuminated by the stage lights. 

I am more than the phantom scars
Left all over these broken hands.

I am more than these bruisings from

She paused.. her voice shaking a little

from men who liked it rough.

Look beyond what you see.
Feel the real me.
Tell me 

She paused again. The lump on her throat was making it hard to continue.

I am more than enough.

She ended her piece and walked away from the stage, quickly swiping stray tears that fell from her eyes.

And everyone in the room applauded. There were loud cheers and hoots coming from a very appreciative crowd but Allie barely registered the applause, she was still in her own zone, tucked away from the now. She sat at the far corner on the back stage, away from the lights and the crowd.

"I'll get the car, mum. You get Allie." Debbie whispered to her mum and hurriedly went out the front door.

Bea made her way to Allie, navigating through the crowd. The blonde must have noticed that someone was hovering above her, she looked up and she saw Bea, no longer with blurry vision, as though her mere presence sobered her up in a snap. 

There were no words. Just strong arms that pulled her in the warmest, most loving embrace. An embrace that felt more like a promise. A promise that no matter how cruel the world gets, no matter how painful the scars of her past still feels and no matter how the darkness can still creep up from time to time, she's no longer alone. 

"Let's go home."  

Chapter Text

Chapter 40
What We Can't Unsee


"Get in the fucking car, Bea! Get in the bloody car now!” Harry hissed through gritted teeth. He dragged a still confused Bea by the arm out of the convention hall to the car park. His fingers gripped his wife's arms so tightly, it dug deep red marks all over her skin.   

"Debbie, get inside now!" He barked at his terrified thirteen year old who shifted her head from her angry dad to her mom who was just as shocked as she was. 

But Bea struggled from Harry's deathly grip on her. "Let go of me, Harry!" she spat out. 

"If you don't start moving, I'm gonna make a scene. Don't you dare try me!" He pointed his finger at his wife's face as he threatened her. 

"You can't drive Harry? You're drunk off your face!" 

"Don't fucking tell me what I can't fucking do!"

"We are not getting in there with you!" Bea yelled and reached for Debbie's hand, protectively.

"Is that right, bitch!" within seconds, Harry slapped her hard on the face and punched her in the gut that immediately knocked the wind out of her. She fell hard and hit her head on the car door then everything went black.

 

"Mum, wake up please. Please wake up!" Bea could hear Debbie's pleading voice but everything was still pitch black. As the voice became louder and louder, she slowly opened her eyes and saw her teary daughter shaking her back to life. 

"Your mum's just sleeping, Deb! Stop crying!" Harry howled from the driver's seat. 

When her senses finally kicked in, Bea realized that she was at the back seat where a scared looking Debbie was reviving her while Harry was aggressively driving the car in top speed. 

Bea scrambled to secure Debbie's seatbelt. "It's alright sweetheart, it's gonna be okay." 

She reassured her trembling daughter who was softly crying beside her. 

"Stop the car, Harry!" she said finally, her voice was hoarse and she felt a sharp pain in her stomach and head but she was determined to force Harry to stop. 

"So you're back! He sniggered.

You think you're a big shot now because you won! 

You think I'm just a fucking tool don't you huh!" He spat out indignantly.

"Harry! Just stop this!" 

"Don't fucking tell me what to do!" He reached back and tried to grab Bea by the neck but the redhead was quick to dodge his assault.

Enraged, he swerved recklessly, stepping on the gas. Taunting and sadisticly enjoying the screams from behind him.  

"Dad please, slow down!" Debbie cried out, as she clutched her mother's hand for dear life.

"And now your turning MY daughter against me? Is that what you're doing huh?" 

"Slow down Harry!" Bea yelled, in a desperate attempt to snap Harry out of his madness. 

But Bea's pleas fell on deaf ears as Harry's fury exploded and slammed on the pedal hard which drastically increased their speed. 

"Are you fucking scared now huh?" Harry spat out. So confident at playing chicken with death as he sped past three stoplights. 

And Bea screamed for him to stop but it fuelled his desire to make her suffer. 

The more she screamed and pleaded for reason, the more Harry deliberately swerved the car, intensifying their dread and desperation. 

And Bea saw it in her peripheral vision, as though in slow motion, when they were about to beat another red stoplight in the intersection.

On their left, as she saw through the window, a trailer truck in full speed coming towards them and Bea's automatic impulse was to shield Debbie with her frail body and brave for impact. 

"DEB!" 
  

Debbie glanced at the rearview mirror as she waited for the traffic light to turn green. It seemed peaceful there, she silently mused. A stark contrast to the violent memory from her past that this particular moment triggered from years ago.

It felt the same but different altogether. 

She watched as her mom stared blankly out of the window, in deep thought as she held a sleeping Allie in her arms. There's that familiar stormy look in her mom's eyes and Debbie knew that her mom would be in that angry state for a while.

She'd witness the different iterations, from mild annoyance which is usually followed by pent up frustration, the reaching for her nape motion and in the final stages comes the hostility, the lashing out, the aggressive pacing or raking her hair but never violent, never.  

It takes awhile to pull her back when she's too far gone in her own head but just then Debbie noticed something she'd never seen before.

When Allie moved, Bea's eyes lost all it's aggression and softened as she cradled Allie back to sleep. In all the years that she'd seen her mom go through a plethora of emotions, the aftermath of the nightmare that was her father, this was the first time that she'd seen someone who had this much effect on her. All it took was a simple touch, a slight move and yet Allie managed to pull her back from the chaos raging in her head. They are more attuned to eachother's frequency than they were even aware of. 

As the traffic light turned green, Deb slowly eased up and continued their rather short journey home. She chance a quick glance at the peaceful couple behind her. It's gonna be alright. They have each other now.

 

 

"I'm calling it. Blondie's a no show." Franky announced as she took her seat next to Bridget at the bar. 

"Is she alright?" Bridget asked worriedly.

And before Franky could answer, Shay appeared out of nowhere and served them two beers. "First round's on the house" she slightly titled her head to her left. 

Franky followed her cue and saw Marge huddled in a booth beaming at her and Bridget.

Franky raised her beer and gave Marge a flirty wink. The older woman giggled and gave her a small wave and then went back to her conversation with an older gentleman across her.

"Who's the bloke?" Franky asked curiously.

"Date night." Shay chuckled.

"Good on 'ma to get back out there! Alright.. let me give the wanker a once over." As Franky was about to stand up, Shay punched her weakly on the shoulder.

"Sit ya ass down! Don't cramp on mama's style!" Shay warned with a steely glare.

Bridget couldn't help but laugh at the two toddlers bickering in front of her which immediately made the two stop. Save for their hair colors, it's like seeing two Frankys. 

"Gidge, this is the kid. Kid, Gidge." Franky introduced the two to each other as she soothed the shoulder that Shay hit with her hand.

"It's Bridget actually." Bridget extended her hand at the cackling bartender.

"Shay. If Franky gives you a hard time just say the word and we'll throw her outta here." she said as she took the offered hand and welcomed the blonde director warmly.

"What did I do?" Franky asked innocently.

Shay raised both her hands up, feigning surrender and left the pair alone to serve another customer on the other side of the bar.

"Marge is Shay's mum! Me, Red, Marge. We go way back." Franky gave a lingering look at Marge and her date and then turned her chair to face Bridget completely. "Where were we again?"

"Boomer bailed and Allie's not coming?" Bridget reminded her where they left off and took a mental note of Franky's endearing devotion to the old woman who owned the bar.

"Boomer's got a hot date and Allie.. well.. my guess is she's feeling a bit down about the finale. It's understandable too. She poured her heart, soul, sweat and tears for this show. Let's just give her some space for now and then haul her ass back to life. Red's coming back on Saturday, she'll cheer her up." Franky took a long swig at her beer. 

"Saturday." Bridget huffed as her fingers absentmindedly peeled off the paper label on the beer.

Franky took in Bridget's demeanor at the mention of Saturday. She must really be nervous. "Hey, I got you. I'd even let you have one dance, that's how generous I'll be that night." she wiggled her eyebrows comically. 

The gesture that for some reason, the blonde director found highly adorable and almost always made her giggle like a silly little schoolgirl.  

"Uhm.. Dance? Ha! I'm more than okay nursing a perfectly good wine, hanging 'round back and pray that it'll be over quickly." Bridget recovered with an amused eyeroll to boot.

Franky was about to open her mouth to say something highly crass and totally inappropriate but Bridget beat her to it. 

"Uh-uh. Franky, don't even think about it!"

"Not a fan of dances, I presume. Spill Gidge, what gives?"

It was silent for a few minutes and Franky saw the reluctance in Bridget's eyes and so she offered her a reprive.

"Let me go first. I didn't attend any. Couldn't if I wanted too. But I didn't want to anyway so win-win. Your turn." She said without missing a beat.

Bridget hesitated at first but Franky's smile was simply magnetic, it made her practically impossible to resist. 

"Fine. Junior high. Spring fling dance. I was at that age where I was struggling with my sexuality on top of falling head over heels in love with my very popular and very straight captain-of-the-cheering-squad-of-a-bestfriend." 

"Ohhh boy..." Franky leaned closer and shook her head. This doesn't sound good.

"Oh I know. Bridget laughed nervously and continued. 

All through the night,  I see her dance with different guys - captain of the football team, head boy of the debate club and every other guy who had a crush on her. Who wouldn't? She was beautiful. And there I was so swept away with my own childish feelings and wanted more than anything to dance with her, to have that special moment with her. And so, in the middle of this soft 80's ballad of Madonna's greatest hits playing in the background, I walked up to her and asked for a dance.

She stared at me like I lost my marbles! When it dawned on her how serious I was, she snapped and yelled in the middle of the dancefloor, something in the tune of I'm not a dirty dyke like you!"

"Jesus! Damn!"

"I got outted and I lost my bestfriend that night all in the span of 30 seconds. So me and dancing.. well.. we've got issues.."

Franky reached for Bridget's hand and squeezed it gently to com