Allie was in the middle of a shift at the bar when Oli messaged her, letting her know that they had arrived safely. They had spoken on the phone the previous day, and he would be busy for the first two days with work. They had a couple of training sessions, and a game the following day, but after that he had taken a few days off. Bea was on a night shift on Tuesday, and Allie had arranged for Oli to go over to the house so they could chat.
She hadn’t slept much the night before, her mind racing as she ran through the different ways her meeting with Oli could go. Allie wanted to be completely honest with him but was worried that he would disown her like her parents did when she told him the bad stuff. Bea had been incredibly supportive, staying awake and talking to her, and Allie felt terribly guilty. Her girlfriend was on nights later and she had managed three hours sleep at best. Despite the blonde’s attempts at trying to get her to take a nap she had ensured her that she wasn’t tired, the constant yawning giving her away.
It was just after lunch and Bea was struggling to keep her eyes open. Dragging her into the other room, Allie laid down on the sofa, pulling her girlfriend down with her and wrapping her arms around her waist. She was still feeling restless but knew the only way Bea would sleep was if she was with her. Despite her reservations Allie fell asleep shortly after the redhead, her girlfriend’s steady breathing luring her into a deep slumber.
Bea was the first to wake. Untangling herself from the sleeping blonde she headed up the stairs to grab a quick shower before getting ready for work. She still had an hour and a half before she left so decided to wake Allie up, knowing she would want to freshen up before Oliver arrived. Crossing the room, she knelt down beside the sofa, leaning over, Bea kissed her girlfriend gently, knowing she had woken up when she felt herself being pulled down.
Ten minutes later Bea reluctantly pulled away before climbing off the sofa. She would have to leave for work soon and didn’t want to start anything they couldn’t finish, nor did she want to spend her entire shift worked up and frustrated. She had done that a few times, and according to Franky, was a complete bitch the entire shift. After ushering her girlfriend up the stairs to take a shower she started preparing dinner. They had gone shopping the previous day after Allie had said that she wanted to cook dinner for when Oli came over. Opening the fridge, Bea took the ingredients out and made a start, hoping to take some of the pressure off of her already stressed out girlfriend.
Half an hour later Allie appeared, fresh from her shower. Leaning against the frame of the door she watched as the redhead moved around the kitchen with such ease. Allie wasn’t a bad cook, but she hadn’t really had much opportunity until recently. Bea however was fantastic, and she was glad that her girlfriend had taken it upon herself to make dinner. She was incredibly nervous about spending time with her brother, and although she had tried to hide it, she knew that Bea had seen straight through her act.
Walking across the room she came to a stop behind the redhead, wrapping her arms around her waist and resting her chin on Bea’s shoulder. “Thank you for doing this, I’m so nervous I would have probably lost a finger chopping the veggies”
“I thought as much, and I happen to love your fingers so I’m being completely selfish really” Bea replied, turning in Allie’s arms and kissing her softly
“Are you sure you have to go to work?” Allie replied, slipping her hands under Bea’s shirt as the older woman tried to step back out of her embrace
“As much as I’d love to drag you up the stairs and throw you down on the bed, I really do have to go. And I don’t think I’d make a great first impression on Oliver if he caught me with my head between your legs”
“As tempting as that sounds, you’re probably right. Tomorrow however, there will be no escaping”
“I wasn’t planning on trying to, or leaving the bedroom either. Now try and stay calm, and call me if you need me ok, any time. If I’m on a shout I’ll call you back as soon as we’re done. I love you, and I’m so proud of you, please don’t ever forget that”
“I won’t, I promise, and I love you too, so much. Now go before I make you really late” Allie said, kissing Bea again before ushering her out of the door.
After closing the door she walked back into the kitchen, dropping down in one of the chairs as she thought about what Bea had said. She missed her brother terribly, and really hoped they could become close again. It would hurt like hell if he rejected her when she told him about the past few years, but whatever happened, she knew her girlfriend would always be there, no matter what.
The knock on the door came just before six thirty, and after taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, Allie headed down the hallway to answer it. She opened the door, finding Oliver standing there, a bottle in one hand and a bunch of flowers in the other. He was obviously miles away as he hadn’t noticed that she was there. Making the most of his distraction Allie spend a few seconds studying him, and by the way his feet were shuffling around he was just as nervous as she was. Sensing that he was being watched, his head shot up, eyes locking with his sisters for the first time in thirteen years.
“Hi Sis” he said, holding out the bottle of wine and flowers. “I wasn’t sure what to bring so Regan suggested both, cover all options right?” he added, smiling nervously at Allie
“You didn’t need to bring anything, but tell Regan thank you, and the flowers are lovely. Come on in” Allie said, stepping aside to allow Oliver to walk through the door.
Once they were in the kitchen, he handed the bottle and flowers over to Allie, the blonde quickly putting them in some water before taking his coat and getting him a drink.
“Dinner will be ready in a few minutes, make yourself comfortable” she said, leading him over to the dining table
“You didn’t need to go to so much trouble, a pizza would have been fine. Just don’t tell Regan, she says I eat too much crap as it is”
“I wish I could take the credit. Bea did most of the work before her shift, I just put it in the oven. And it’s no trouble, honestly” she replied, heading back into the kitchen to check on the food.
Dinner was comfortable, both of them keeping the conversation light as they ate. The food was delicious as always, Bea was a fabulous cook, but Allie didn’t have much of an appetite, she was too nervous about the upcoming conversation. Oliver however didn’t seem to be having any trouble, and even managed to polish of a second helping. Once they had finished eating they took their plates through into the kitchen, returning to the table a few minutes later with their glasses filled.
Sensing the mood change, Allie took a long drink of wine before locking eyes with her brother.
“What happened Allie? I thought we were good but then you stopped returning my calls. I tried for months and all I got was your voicemail. I even tried your office and they told me you just quit and took off. I was worried sick, I just wanted to know you were ok. Did I do or say something to make you cut me off? If so I’m sorry, I never wanted that”
“No, it wasn’t anything you did or said, and it wasn’t your fault. I’m sorry Oli, everything came crashing down around me and I lost everything I thought I loved in a matter of half an hour. I was a mess, and I no longer had my mobile or my apartment. I wasn’t ignoring you, I never got your messages. Things were really bad and I didn’t want you to see me like that. My plan was to get back on my feet quickly, then get in contact with you again, it just took a lot longer than I expected”
“What happened? And just how bad is really bad?” Oliver asked, concerned about what his sister was about to disclose
“Will you promise that you’ll let me tell you everything before you judge me, and if you want to leave after that then I understand. But I really hope that you’ll stay” Allie replied, feeling like she wanted to throw up
“You’ve got me worried now Al, but I promise” he said, reaching over the table and placing his hand on top of Allie’s, squeezing it gently
Deciding that they would both need something stronger to tackle this conversation, Allie stood up and walked into the other room, coming back a couple of minutes later with a bottle of scotch and two glasses. Pouring them both a large measure, she placed the bottle down on the table, locked eyes with Oliver and started to fill him in on the events of the past four years.
She told him about Mia, and how she ended up on the streets, about her time on the streets and what she ended up doing to survive, the drugs, the prostitution, and how she had felt so low towards the end, and hadn’t really cared if she lived or died.
“So what changed? How did you get out of it?”
“Bea. I was sleeping in an abandoned building one night when it caught fire. Bea’s crew responded to the call and she was the one that pulled me out of the building. I was out of my head and didn’t know anything about it until I woke up in the hospital the next day. The doctor had found my stash and was going to call the cops but someone stopped her, got rid of the evidence instead. I found out the next day that it was the firefighter that had rescued me. I was a stranger to her, but she treated me better than the people who claimed to love me. She treated me like I mattered, despite where she found me. I found out when she was next on shift and went to find her. I hadn’t even seen her by this point, but I think I’d already started to fall for her. I went over to the station and there she was, like a goddess in uniform, and she was so sweet. I had lost what little money I had in the fire, but she had found it. I went back to the station the following night to pick it up but they were on a shout. The weather was horrendous and I’d got caught out in it. She let me take a shower, lent me some dry clothes, fed me and gave me her bed for the rest of the night. She was the first person in three years to show me any real kindness, and I wanted to spend more time with her, get to know her better, but I didn’t want her to see the drugged up version of me. It wasn’t pretty, and I was so ashamed of myself so I went cold turkey. I stayed at a shelter every night, started applying for jobs, and more importantly, stayed away from the drugs”
“Did she know about everything?”
“Not at that point, no. I went back to the station a couple of days later to return her clothes but she wasn’t there. I hadn’t seen her for just over a week, so decided to visit the station, hoping she would be there. I was on my way when I ran into one of my old clients, and he was not happy that I had decided to quit. He tried roughing me up, forcing himself on me, then someone grabbed him, punched him and kicked him in the bollocks. It was Bea. They were on their way back from a shout and she saw him drag me into the doorway. She took me back to the station with her, got me some clean clothes and took care of me again. She gave me a lift back to the shelter but I had missed curfew, so she took me back to her house. I told her everything that night, and expected her to throw me out, but she didn’t. She cooked me dinner, let me stay and found me somewhere to live. I’ve got a flat above the bar I work at. Bea was meeting her friends from work the following night, and asked me to go with her. One of the bar staff had called in sick and it was really busy so I offered to help. At the end of the night Liz, my new landlady, offered me a job. My whole life had turned around in a matter of two days, and I had Bea to thank for it all”
“Sounds like an incredible woman you’ve got there Scrappy. So, when did things change between you?”
“We were spending a lot of time together as friends, but I was already head over heels in love with her. Then one day, about three months later we went out for lunch. We had just finished eating when Mia walked in, my ex from four years ago. Bea could see something was wrong, and when I told her what it was she suggested that I waited outside while she paid so I wouldn’t have to see her. Mia spotted me and followed me outside. Bea came out a few minutes later, and I must have looked really uncomfortable, so she walked over to where we were standing, wrapped her arms around me and introduced herself as my girlfriend. Mia couldn’t have looked that convinced, so Bea kissed me. I know it’s a cliché, but I saw stars. When she pulled away Mia had gone. We both had to go to work so didn’t talk about it until the following day. I came over here, she apologised and I told her I liked her as more than a friend. I wasn’t expecting anything from her, she’s really shy and the only relationship she’d ever had was with her arsehole of an ex-husband, but I had to try. Turned out that she felt the same, and we’ve been together ever since”
Standing up, Oliver walked around the table, pulling Allie to her feet. He wrapped his arms around her as he spoke. “I’m glad she was there, I just wish you would have called me Allie. You’re my baby sister and I would never turn my back on you, no matter what happens. I’m not Mum or Dad, and I love you no matter what. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that, but it seems like you’ve found someone really special”
“I love you too you big doofus. And I have, she’s amazing” Allie replied. Grabbing the bottle of scotch and their glasses, she led Oliver through into the lounge. Placing the bottle and glasses down, she excused herself and headed to the bathroom, leaving him to sit the sofa. Allie could feel the tears building up, and needed a few minutes to compose herself. The evening had gone better than expected so far, she just hoped she could make it through the rest of it without screwing up.
Scanning the room, Oliver noticed several photographs. Standing up, he wandered over, picking one of them up he looked down at an image of Allie and Bea together on a beach. He could tell by the way that they were looking at each other that they were very much in love. Placing the photo back down, he picked up the next one, the picture showing Bea and a teenage girl, both smiling at the camera.
“That’s Debbie, Bea’s daughter” Allie said as she came back into the room, spotting Oli holding one of the photos
“Where is she tonight?” he asked, placing the photo back down and taking a seat beside Allie on the sofa
“She’s at university. She was home a couple of weeks ago for the holidays but Bea really misses her when she’s gone”
“So that makes her at least eighteen then. How old is Bea?”
“She’s thirty seven, and yeah, Debbie’s eighteen…going on thirty”
“And you get on ok with her?”
“Yeah she’s great. I was really worried at first in case she flipped when she found out about us. Bea said it wouldn’t change anything between us but I knew it would. I was so scared that I was going to lose her, but Debbie took it really well. I’ve never met anyone like Bea before, she see’s thing so differently to most people. She saw me, or at least the person I wanted to be, and everything seems so much better when she’s with me”
“I’m glad. She seems really good for you, and I can’t wait to meet her” Oliver said, a buzzing sound coming from Allie’s phone temporarily stopping the conversation. Reaching down, Allie grabbed her phone, noticing she had a message from Bea
Hey beautiful, is everything ok? B xx
Good, really good. I miss you though A xx
I miss you too baby, I can’t wait to see your beautiful face B xx
Feeling her phone vibrate, Bea opened the message, seeing Allie and Oliver sitting on the sofa, smiling into the camera.
“Your girl switch teams Red?” Franky asked, grabbing Bea’s phone out of her hand and looking at the photo
“It’s her brother you arsehole”
Draping her arm around the redhead’s shoulder, Franky opened the camera on Bea’s phone and switched it to selfie mode. “Smile Red” she said, leaning in and kissing Bea on the cheek before snapping a photo and sending it to Allie
Opening the photo, Allie laughed at the look on her girlfriend’s face as Franky kissed her on the cheek. Turning the screen, she showed it to Oli. “They’re a bunch of nutters”
“She’s hot, well done sis. The brunette’s fit too”
“First of all that’s my girlfriend you’re perving on, second, Franky’s engaged, and very, very gay, and third, you’re married”
“I know, and I would never cheat on Regan, she’s the only one for me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a beautiful woman, or women when I see them”
Grapping her phone, she pushed her brother playfully, before sending a message to Franky
Hands off my girl Doyle!
They chatted for a while, and to Allie it felt like they had never been apart. Oliver told her he had to work for a few more days while he was in town, but wanted her and Bea to come to the game the night before he left. Allie knew that Bea wasn’t a fan of cricket, and she didn’t have a clue either, but she could see how important it was to her brother and knew her girlfriend wouldn’t mind going along with her, especially if she promised to make it up to her afterwards.
Allie had just returned from the kitchen with a couple of beers when Oliver turned to her and spoke. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure, what is it?”
“I was just wondering why you decided to track me down now. I’m glad you did, but what changed?”
“Bea. I was so ashamed of myself and what I had become, but she never judged me. I still don’t know what she sees in me, and I know she can do so much better than me, but she believes in me in a way that no one ever has done. She’s from New Zealand originally, and we went over there to visit her Gran. Edith’s a force to be reckoned with, and after she sent Bea to pick up some lunch she ordered me to stay away from her, claimed I would get bored of her and leave. I’d never been so angry in my life, and never wanted to fight for someone so much. I knew how important Edith was to Bea, but I couldn’t have her undermining our relationship like that. I lost it with her, told her I loved Bea and was about to leave when she laughed at me. Turned out it was all a test to see if I loved Bea enough to fight for us. I passed and she accepted me as part of the family. I met one of Bea’s cousins and his wife as well, and they made me feel like part of the family. As good as it was, it made me realise how much I missed you. I felt stronger too, like I was worthy of being loved for who I was”
“I’m glad you called. I tried for so long to find you, I was so worried. I figured you decided to cut all ties with the family, not that I could blame you. I saw Sam six months ago, he was in town so decided to call in at the training ground”
“You were never like the others, and I’m sorry I disappeared like that, I promise it won’t happen again. How was Sam?”
“He was an obnoxious arsehole, just like Dad. It was the first time I’d seen him in two years, and he gets worse every time”
“What about the parents, do you see them?” she asked
“I got a letter from Dad when I first started working with the international team, guess I’d finally done something he could brag about to his friends. I didn’t reply. Mum left him two years after you took off. She lives in the states now. The last I heard she was living with some guy not much older than you, and she had a new face, the joys of living in LA, Sam has seen her a handful of times but he’s still really close to Dad”
“Guess that explains his arshole-ishness then. He always was a mini version of Dad, even when we were young”
“Are you going to contact any of them?” Oliver asked, although deep down he already knew the answer.
“No, I’m happy for the first time in what feels like forever. I don’t want any of their negative bullshit spoiling that. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh”
“No not at all. And I’m glad you’re happy, you deserve it Allie. Now enough of the heavy stuff, tell me more about that hot girlfriend of yours” Oliver said, nudging his sister and laughing as her face lit up at the mention of her girlfriend. They had come a long way in a few hours, and he was so happy that she was back in his life again.
They chatted for another couple of hours, Allie learning more about Oli’s wife Regan, and how they met. She told her brother about Bea’s cousin Logan, and how the redhead had punched him after he had tried to grab her. After hearing that, Oliver made a mental note not to get on Bea’s bad side, but he was glad that Allie had someone looking out for her. His sister was tough, she always had been, but it comforted him knowing Bea had her back.
Allie had told her brother about the open mic night that she sometimes played at, and he asked if it would be ok with her if they came to see her. After a quick call to Ash, she had arranged to join them for a few songs, and had even agreed to play another original track. It was only after she had given Oli the details that she began to wonder what she had done. “Way to go and put extra pressure on yourself Novak”, she thought to herself. She was just glad her girlfriend would be there to calm her down.
It was just after midnight when Oliver left, not wanting to leave Regan alone for too long. After unloading the dishwasher, and cleaning the kitchen Allie headed to upstairs. She hated sleeping alone, but felt so much closer to Bea when she was in her bed. The whole house smelt of the redhead, and Allie loved it. Climbing into bed, she grabbed her phone and called Bea, hoping her girlfriend would be available to chat for a while. If she couldn’t feel her arms around her, she needed to hear her voice. The phone rang for a while then went to voicemail. Leaving a quick message, Allie hung up, knowing the redhead would be on a shout. Placing her phone down, Allie snuggled up in the duvet, falling asleep a short while later.
They had just got back from a shout, another lift entrapment. Those things had a mind of their own recently, they had been called out to more incidents in the past month than the six months previous, and Bea knew there was a reason she preferred to take the stairs. After removing her turnout gear she headed into her quarters to make a start on her paperwork. Fletch was on cooking duty and she was hoping to get a good start on the report before she ate, knowing she wouldn’t be able to move afterwards. Franky was by far the best cook out of her crew, but Fletch was a close second. Sitting down at her desk, she grabbed her phone, noticing she had a missed call from Allie. After checking the time of the call and listening to the voicemail, she decided to send her girlfriend a message, thinking she would be asleep by now as the call was over an hour ago. Allie sounded happy so hopefully her evening who her brother had gone well, the last thing the blonde needed was to be rejected by another member of her family.
The remainder of their shift had passed without any more callouts, which was a good thing. The food had been fantastic, and most of the crew had collapsed on the sofa or their bunks afterwards, needing time to recover. The only one not affected by it was Vera, which should have been surprising given her tiny frame. Had Bea not suspected for a while that there was something between her and Fletch, she would have been shocked at how well she dealt with his portion sizes. It was quite obvious that she was accustomed to it, especially given how well they seemed to move around the kitchen together. She made a mental note to speak to Vera about it on their next shift. The fire department didn’t like to promote partners working together, but unless it became an issue and affected either of their jobs, Bea was happy for them.
After taking a shower, she dressed and jumped on her bike, riding home to her girlfriend. She had worried about Allie last night, and didn’t want to disturb them, but couldn’t stop herself from sending her a message. She figured it would be less disruptive than a phone call, and when she had received the image of Allie and Oliver smiling into the camera, she felt so much better. The next big hurdle was meeting them herself. Bea knew how important Oliver was to her girlfriend, and she really hoped that he liked her, the last thing Allie needed was tension between the two of them. Pulling up into the garage, she cut the engine, climbed off the bike and headed inside, needing to feel Allie in her arms. Fourteen hours was far too long.