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Love Hasn't Given Up Yet

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Bea woke up in a state of complete panic, sweating profusely as she jumped out of bed looking around her still pitch black bedroom trying to search out Harry in the dark, waiting to feel a punch or his ice cold hands around her throat. Flopping back down onto her bed she closed her eyes for a moment, ‘It was just a bad dream…just another nightmare,’ she told herself. Nights like these had became fewer in number as the last three years had passed but when they happened the nightmares were just as severe as if she were living right back there with her monster of a husband. She was pretty certain that she wasn't going to sleep again tonight as she reacquainted her head with her pillow, after dreams so vivid she rarely did. Hearing movement on the other side of her bedroom door she propped herself up on her elbows not surprised to hear a light tap on it before it opened slightly and Liz popped her head round.

“Bea love is everything alright?”

“Just a bad dream…sorry if I disturbed you.”

“You have nothing to apologise for love, I'm right here if you need me.” Liz gently closed the door knowing full well that if Bea wanted to talk she would, she rarely did but always knew that the people she trusted the most would always be there to listen. As she slipped back into her own bed she hated that Harry was still able to haunt Bea even in her dreams, the hold he had on her during her waking hours had lessened but she knew that sometimes, especially when she'd had a rough day at work, he was still able to invade her mind leaving her an emotional wreck at times. Liz was just pleased that she could be there for her to offer support when she needed it.

 

 

 

All the way through high school Bea had know what she wanted to do, following in her dads footsteps and becoming a police officer was the only thing she had her heart set on even when her mum had tried to talk her out of it, nothing anyone could say to her was going to change her mind. Knowing that the recruitment process could take in excess of six months to complete wasn't going to put her off and neither was anyone or anything else. Two months before she was due to leave school she had already submitted her application, she'd spent hours on it making sure that it was well written, she'd spoken to her dad and a couple of his friends and they had all told her the same thing, take your time and make sure you answer all the questions in full, it wasn't much but as she completed her application, really taken the time to think about her answers she knew it was the best advice.

The day she had received a reply from the recruiting services branch inviting her to complete the police entrance exam she had felt like she was walking on air, even though she was aware that she had to pay all the costs associated with it nothing was going to dampen her enthusiasm. She'd worked part time for Liz since she was 16 in the salon she owned and had saved almost every penny she earned just waiting for that day. She'd refused to let her dad pay for anything, Bea was independent, strong willed and extremely stubborn even though she was shy and for the most part a loner, she knew what she wanted and she was going to go after it, the day she'd got home and found her dad sitting in the kitchen after Liz had given her the job she'd been so excited, her dad had tried to protest telling her that she needed to concentrate on her education but Bea had promised him that she wouldn't let having a job interfere with her studies and he'd agreed to let her give it a go. He hated it, his little girl had grown up way too fast for his liking, it only felt like yesterday that he was carrying her high on his shoulders or playing cops and robbers with her, reading her a bedtime story and tucking her in before kissing her goodnight, now it started to feel like she didn't need him anymore even though she told him no matter how old she got she was always going to need her dad.

Bea had always been quite and shy as a child preferring to spend most of her time alone with her head in a book or drawing when she wasn't sticking close to her dad asking him endless questions. He'd always wondered if his decision to move from New Zealand had been a mistake, moving her away from the rest of the family may have made her withdraw into herself more but his own mum had reminded him that he had been exactly the same as a boy. She hadn't ever really changed that much as she got older preferring her own company most of the time. Working at the salon had been challenging at first but her confidence had grown in a matter of weeks and soon she found that she enjoyed being around the customers but on her breaks she would always sit quietly with a book.

Liz had been so happy for her the day she announced that she had passed the police entrance exam but knew she was going to miss her terribly when she eventually left for Canberra to attend the AFP college. Bea had told her that there was still a possibility that she might not be accepted, the entrance exam was only one part of the process as she explained to Liz she still had to get through the fitness test, psych test and the panel interview, the latter being the thing that had worried her most of all but Liz had been full of confidence for her. She knew that anything Bea put her mind to she would accomplish even though sometimes Bea herself was full of self doubt. The fitness test had proved to be a walk in the park for her, the psych test was never really going to be a problem, the panel interview was the most daunting thing she'd ever experienced, but her confidence won out in the end and she surprised herself how quickly she started to feel at ease and answered all the questions she was asked without any problems.

 

 

 

The day before she was due to leave Bea had spent most of the day with Liz at the salon, she was going to miss her and promised that she would call her every week, after her mum and dad Liz would be the person she would miss the most during her initial training even though it was only 24 weeks living away in Canberra. It had been a unnerving prospect finally leaving home for the first time and Bea had felt awkward and shy and asked herself countless times her first day why she had ever wanted to do it, why she thought that she had what it took to become a police officer. Over the first week she didn't spend much of her free time with anyone choosing to spend the time alone until Franky had sauntered up to her on Friday evening after their first defensive skills class asking her if she wanted to go for a drink. After turning her down flat Franky wasn't going to give in and had followed her around for an hour pestering her until she gave in and agreed. They soon became friends and spent most of their down time together testing each other on their knowledge of law, working out and spending extra time at the firing range.

Their 24 weeks seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, Bea had kept to her word calling Liz every Sunday night and talked none stop about her training and how much she was looking forward to finally graduating and being sworn in as a constable of police.

Returning to Melbourne with Franky in tow had been amazing, they had both been told to report to Melbourne East Police Station for on the job training. Franky had worried about finding a place to live until she met Beas parents who had instantly taken a shine to her and offered her their spare room. For the first time in her life Franky started to feel like she was part of a real family, Beas mum fussed over Franky the same way she did Bea but Franky worried that maybe one day if they found out about how bad her life had been that they might not want her to stay. Bea had always told her that there was no way they would do that, just like Liz they would never judge her for what she had no control over but Franky had worried until the day both of Beas parents had sat her down and told her that no matter what her family life had previously been like, no matter what she'd had to do to survive it didn't matter to them, they had grown to love the person she was now and that was not about to change any time soon.

Bea had a 0700 start the day Harry arrived at the station, having been transferred from Sydney to Melbourne after he'd had many heated arguments with his superiors, Beas partner, Matt Fletcher or Fletch as everyone round the station called him, had heard all about him and as they kitted up for the start of their shift that morning he'd warned her to stay well clear of him. She'd seen him on their way out of the station and she'd thought he looked harmless enough but wasn't about to ask Fletch anymore questions, she was only interested in learning to be the best she could be at her job, Harry Smith was certainly not someone she was interested in getting to know.

Three months later Franky's birthday was fast approaching and she'd convinced Bea that they needed a night out, Franky invited a few people from the station and her new second best friend Boomer who'd she'd met not long after arriving after a fight had broken out in the bar where she worked. Harry had tried to get to know Bea almost as soon as he'd arrived at the station but Bea had successfully kept her distance from him until the night of Franky's birthday. Arriving at the bar that Boomer had suggested they all meet up at she spotted Harry at the bar as soon as they walked in. Bea had tried to ignore him but when he started following her around she'd finally accepted a drink from him, by the end of the night Franky had left to take a very drunken Boomer home and Bea let Harry talk her into sharing a taxi with him, something she couldn't possibly know was that it was the worst decision she could ever have made. After dropping her off at home Harry had already decided that Bea was he wanted and Bea was what he was going to have. The next afternoon he'd turned up at her front door and asked her to go to dinner with him, eventually she agreed just to get rid of him.

The evening had gone better than she expected and she thought he was really quite sweet, but she'd had no intention of repeating the evening but Harry was persistent. Franky would tell her that she could do a lot better than a hot head like Harry but she grew fond of him the more time she spent with him, Franky, just like Beas mum and dad was suspicious of him right from the start and Liz had taken an instant dislike to him the first time Bea introduced him to her. When Franky found her crying in her room one day six months later she was ready to go and get Boomer and kick him all the way back to Sydney when she eventually told her that she was pregnant and that Harry had slapped her as soon as she'd got the words out. Harry said she was trying to trap him, she was nothing more than just a bit of fun and that if she didn't get rid of it he'd make sure that one way or another there'd be no baby. Franky had heard the stories that had filtered through from his old station and tried to convince Bea that she was better off without him and for a few weeks she'd taken Franky's advice and stayed as far away from him as she possibly could. She wasn't ready to be a mother, she'd never even given it a second thought until she had no choice, she loved her job and didn't want to give it up. Her mum had sat her down and told her that she wouldn't have to, that she'd be there to help her and since her dad would be taking early retirement soon everything would work out.

After three months Harry had shown up on the doorstep begging Bea to give him another chance, it was a shock that was all, he'd done a lot of thinking and was ready for the responsibility of raising a child on the condition that they did things properly and got married. Franky had wanted to kick him out of the house, tried convincing Bea that taking him back after what he'd said and done was a mistake but Bea had just said that the baby deserved both its parents, something Franky and her dad had strongly disagreed with. They were married a month later and Harry had been quick to get her away from her parents and Franky, saying that they would interfere in their relationship.

Harry tried to make Bea leave her job but nothing he could say would convince her that it was a good idea, there was never anything else she'd ever wanted to do, she'd take her maternity leave and maybe a little longer, it wouldn't matter she'd managed to save some money so she wasn't worried then return to work once she was ready, nothing Harry could say would change her mind and that had angered him but he'd let it go. When their daughter was born Harry had seemed to be the perfect parent, he took an interest in everything for the first few months of her life, then something changed. Bea couldn't quite work out what, he stayed out late drinking with his friends, turned up late for his shifts and gained himself a disciplinary hearing after arriving at the station unfit for duty after a particularly heavy drinking session the night before resulting in him being suspended without pay for two months. He left his disciplinary hearing and gone straight to the pub, arriving home drunk later in the day he'd demanded to know why his dinner wasn't ready, calling her a useless bitch he'd grabbed a beer from the fridge before proceeding to blame Bea for everything that was wrong with his life. He felt trapped by the responsibilities of being a husband and father, absolutely hated that Bea refused to quit her job although it was her salary that paid for everything, he threw insult after insult at her and just got more angry when she didn't let him see just how hurtful it was, how with each painful word she felt a little more broken. She'd tried to shrug it off, she'd already heard from Franky that he'd been suspended and was less than happy about it. He sat in the kitchen drinking and telling her to hurry up, she should have had his dinner ready by the time he walked through the door, Debbie had started crying and he'd screamed at her to shut her up, when she eventually put his dinner on the table in front of him he still wasn't happy, picking the plate up he threw it at her narrowly missing her head before stumbling off to the living room and quickly passing out on the sofa.

Liz called round a few days later something that always displeased Harry, he'd always tried to keep Bea away from everyone she cared about, he'd banned Franky from the house saying that he wouldn't have someone like her around his daughter but try as he might he'd never been able to quite keep Liz from visiting. Liz knew something was wrong but Bea continued to say that everything was fine, that she was just tired, Liz soon dropped the subject not wanting to give Harry anymore cause to try keeping her from seeing Bea. Almost the second Liz had left the house Harry had demanded that she tell Liz not to visit the house again, things became progressively worse for Bea, Harry's verbal abuse just wasn't enough for him anymore, pretty soon a slap became a punch or kick. Bea returning to work hadn't made things any better except that Harry was a little more careful where on her body he let his fists connect and she would keep her mouth shut no cop would ever admit to being someone's punching bag behind closed doors.

 

 

 

Just before Debbie turned two Beas world was turned upside down when her dad announced that they were moving back to New Zealand in a few weeks, his mums health was rapidly deteriorating and she needed constant help, their house had already been sold and all that was left for them to do was pack everything up, Harry hadn't taken the thought of having to spend money on childcare very well, he was fine with Beas parents taking care of Debbie while Bea was at work but having to spend any of his hard earned money as he saw it just wasn't about to happen. The argument that he caused when Bea pointed out that he wouldn't be paying, because Harry didn't pay for anything unless it involved the pub was the worst they had ever gotten into.

A few days after waving goodbye to her parents and promising to visit them soon Bea had agreed that Liz could take Debbie out for the morning and an hour before Harry was due to leave for his shift at the station he had flipped out once more over the cost of childcare beating Bea so bad that she couldn't drag herself up from the floor after he left the house no matter how hard she tried. Liz returned to the house and after knocking on the front door and getting no response she called Franky who she knew had a spare key. When Franky arrived she knew instantly something was wrong, Bea would never disappear knowing that Liz would be bringing Debbie back anytime soon. Opening the door she told Liz to wait outside, entering the house the place was a mess and she knew Bea way too well to know that she would never leave anything a mess, Bea as she always said was a neat freak. Finding Bea battered and bleeding on the kitchen floor had made Franky's blood boil and if hadn't been that she knew Bea needed help urgently she would have gone straight to the station and beaten the shit out of Harry. After calling for an ambulance she called Liz who was still standing outside the house asking her to take Debbie home with her, she'd explain later but right now Debbie didn't need to see what her asshole of a father had done.

Franky had refused to leave the hospital, calling the station while Bea was in surgery to find out where Harry was had been hard since the mere mention of his name made her angrier than she'd ever been in her life, lying and saying that Bea had had an accident and was at the hospital didn't sit right with her but she couldn't tell anyone what had happened until she was able to actually speak to Bea. Fletch had been suspicious of Harry for a few months after noticing one day that Bea seemed to be in pain but she'd brushed it off saying that she just had an accident, tripped over one of Debbie's toys and took a tumble, not that Fletch had believed her for a second. He wasn't on duty when Franky had called but had left his wallet in his locker the day before and heard about the call from Franky from Vera Bennett who had spoken to an extremely irate Franky. Arriving at the hospital he found Franky pacing the waiting room where she'd been told to wait by one of the nurses, she had been surprised to see Fletch but after he demanded to know what the hell had happened Franky tried to explain. Fletch had run out of the hospital, drove back to the station breaking every speed limit there was not that he cared, he was going to track Harry down and he was going to pay for what he'd done to his partner and friend.

Harry was out on an emergency call to an armed robbery at a jewellery store when Fletch finally made it to the station, he wasn't on duty so couldn't attend the scene, deciding that he was going to hang around and wait for him to get back to the station he heard the officer down call. Five minutes, five agonisingly long minutes had passed before he heard the news, Harry was dead, shot at close range when he'd refused to follow orders and stay outside of the building. Harry was well known for being reckless, for always wanting to make himself look good because he believed that he deserved to be promoted, believed that he was better at his job than any of the other officers at the station and that he would never get hurt in the execution of his duties.

Bea had been in hospital for four days before she was actually informed of Harry's death, as soon as Franky, Vera and Fletch had walked into her room Bea knew they were all there for more than just to see how she was doing. Franky had wanted to be the one to tell her but she couldn't do it the second she saw Liz sitting with Debbie in her lap, it hadn't been difficult for Liz to guess why they were all there and seeing the look on Franky's face she'd given Bea a weak smile before leaving the room with Debbie for a few minutes. Neither Fletch or Franky looked at Bea as Vera cleared her throat before telling her the events that had transpired and caused Harry's death. All the warmth had felt like it had left Beas body as she heard what she had to say, even the early summer heat did nothing to warm her as she shivered. The sun’s rays may as well have been made of ice in that moment as she sank her head back into her pillows and closed her eyes. It occurred to her that maybe it was just a dream, Harry couldn't be dead she couldn't be that lucky, she was sure there was no way she could ever be rid of him so easily unless it was her that was dead. Opening her eyes again she had looked at Franky silently asking her to tell her the truth, Franky had just slowly nodded her head before looking away.

When Bea was finally discharged from the hospital a few days later she hadn't wanted to return to the house, wanted no reminders of Harry, no reminders of what had happened the day he had died, the day he walked out of that house with no concern for what he had just done to her. Liz and Franky had packed everything that they thought Bea and Debbie would need and taken everything to Liz’s, three years later Bea and Debbie were still living with Liz, not that Liz wanted them to leave anytime soon, she was more than happy for them to stay, knowing that they were both safe was Liz's number one priority. Selling the salon to her friend Maxine hadn't been a hard decision to make even though Bea had argued that she was quite capable of making all the necessary arrangements for Debbie's care when she was at work but Liz had made that decision before Bea had even left the hospital and nothing would change her mind. It was one argument that Bea was never going to win with her.

Debbie had asked for her daddy a few times when Bea had first been released from the hospital but after a few weeks she stopped asking for him. Bea knew that she would ask questions as she got older and wasn't sure how she would ever tell her the truth, especially when she couldn't be sure how much she had seen and heard or how much she was likely to remember, but until she asked Bea was determined to make sure that Debbie would be the happiest she could possibly be.

When she had finally felt able to be completely honest with her parents she had taken Franky with her to New Zealand, her dad had been a little angry with her at first when he realised that he'd had no idea what she had suffered at Harry's hands, but he understood why she'd never said anything. He'd been to enough domestic abuse calls to know just how hard, how terrifying it could be to ask for help when the person abusing you had everyone convinced that they were an upstanding member of the community, he'd also encountered more than one police officer who had been the abuser.

Nights like this night when Beas dreams had once more turned to a nightmare had become much less frequent but every now and then she would still wake up in utter panic Harry's voice echoing through her mind and torturing her, telling her that she was a useless bitch, a shit mother and a pathetic excuse for a cop. She tried hard not to let his words affect her anymore but she could never quite believe that everything he said wasn't really the truth, sometimes she still felt weak and pathetic and just as ugly and useless as he always told her she was.

Vera had been a great support to her at work and they had become really good friends, she'd listened to her concerns and fears, tried to convince her that she was really good at her job, something that she'd found almost impossible to believe for a long time but over time she'd grown in confidence again and finally started to believe that she was really strong enough to handle anything the job threw at her. Vera really liked Bea and knew that with support and encouragement she would be better than ever at the job she loved. Vera had tried on many occasions to get her to go for drinks after work, tried to convince her that one day she would meet the right person but Bea had said many times that there was no way she was ever getting involved with anyone else, she was fine being alone, she had Debbie and great friends, Liz was like her second mum and she was convinced that what she had was everything she would ever need.

 

Chapter Text

Allie had just returned home after a pretty eventful night shift in the emergency department at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, she was exhausted but she loved her job as a nurse. As she sank into her bed she thought about how far she'd come, how she'd finally turned everything around and taken her life back. She was thankful for the people she had in her life who had helped her along the way especially Kaz who'd helped her when she needed it most of all but now she was finally getting on with her life, living in her own apartment and had the job she wanted more than anything else no matter how exhausting it was it was rewarding and gave her a reason to get up everyday.

Allie certainly hadn't had the best start in life, her parents had split up when she was five years old and she'd been left with her mum, not that she wanted to stay with her. She loved her dad more than anything or anyone else in her life, followed him around whenever she could and he used to joke that if he ever lost his shadow he had the perfect replacement in Allie. Then suddenly he was gone and she was left alone with her mum and even at such a young age she was pretty sure that she hated her. Soon after her dad left her mum had spiralled out of control and taken to spending nights away from home drinking and smoking marijuana, leaving Allie alone in the house. Allie had asked constantly why she couldn't see her dad and the only answer she ever got was that he didn't love her anymore that he'd moved on and Allie wasn't going to be part of his new life, she didn't understand how that could be, she knew her dad loved her, he told her so every night when he used to tuck her in, read her a bedtime story, he'd leave the door to her room open and the landing light on so that she wouldn't get scared, young Allie was afraid of the dark and thunder storms her dad understood that, her mum's poor attempt at an explanation was never going to make sense to Allie.

When Allie turned eight she was home alone one night when she'd found some papers sticking out of a draw in the kitchen and curiosity had gotten the better of her, opening the draw and pulling them out she'd started to read not really understanding half of what she read, there were way more words that she didn't understand than she liked but one thing stuck out, the reason Allie couldn't see her dad, abuse she understood what that meant, her mum had accused him of being mentally and physically abusive to Allie. She couldn't make any sense of that, her dad did everything he could possibly do for her, he had never hit her in fact he had rarely ever even raised his voice to her, her mum was the one that hit her, shouted and screamed at her and locked her in her room, told her that she was nothing, she was stupid and she wished she'd never been born. The doctors visits week after week right before her dad had left suddenly made sense to her, so did the photographs of her bruises, her mum must have been using what she did to Allie as evidence against her dad, every bruise she had left of Allies little body she blamed her dad for and Allie couldn't tell anyone because no one would listen to a five year old, especially as her mum had the ability to convince people that Allie was a liar and had a vivid imagination and was known for making up stories. She was five wasn't that part of the job of a five year old?

Allie had stayed out of her mums way for a few weeks after that night, she couldn't look at her and certainly didn't want to speak to her, she didn't want to be in the same house but that was something that was out of her control, she had no idea where her dad had gone and didn't want to ask her grandparents if she could stay with them, even if she did her mum would turn anything Allie told them round and make her look bad. One night her mum had cornered her demanding to know why she wasn't saying a word, Allie had still refused to speak to her. As she stood there a bottle of beer in one hand and a joint in the other she screamed right in her face before holding out the joint and telling Allie to try it, Allie had shook her head, she hated the smell and certainly didn't want to know what it tasted like. Being told that she either tried it or she'd be used as an ashtray didn't give her much choice and that was the night that Allies world slowly started to spin out of control. Two years later not only could Allie be regularly be found sharing a joint with her mum but her beer as well. One day after school her grandparents had mad a surprise visit to the house finding Allie laying in the middle of the living room floor as high as kite. After that day Allie spent Monday to Friday at her grandparents but on the weekends she was allowed to go back to her mum where she would drink and do drugs, naturally telling her grandparents on a Sunday evening when they picked her up that everything had been great, making up stories about what they had done together even though she was sure that they never quite believed her.

By the time Allie turned twelve she had started popping prescription pain medication after her mum had yet again encouraged her to try them and by the time she was fifteen she was smoking crack. She had lost all interest in her studies at high school, getting high and partying with her mums friends was the only thing that interested her anymore. A few weeks before Allie turned seventeen her mum died of an overdose and she moved in permanently with her grandparents, she promised them that she would quit drinking and taking drugs but didn't, losing her mum was almost as bad as her dad leaving, even though part of her hated her mum she was the only parent she had and now even she'd left her, Allie slowly spiralled out of control a little more causing her grandparents many sleepless nights when they had no idea where she was or who she was with. In her final year of high school she straightened herself up just enough to graduate, not that she wanted to but she didn't want to completely let her grandparents down, they did everything they could for her, gave her a safe place to live, put food on the table and she knew they gave her way more freedom to do whatever she wanted than they really should, she also knew how disappointed they had been in her mum when she fell pregnant with Allie and turned her back on her education and Allie didn't want to be an even bigger disappointment to them than so far she had proved herself to be.

After leaving school Allie felt like she had no direction, no purpose and descended further into drugs, she got arrested for driving while impaired and was sent to drug rehabilitation facilities on more than one occasion. Her grandparents could no longer handle the stress of the situation and Allie had been left homeless after she was given an ultimatum, either get clean and stay clean or leave, so many times while she was out on the streets she just wanted it all to end like it had for her mum, there was no beauty left in her life, everything and everyone who had ever claimed to love her left, brushed her aside and forgot about her, she felt like her soul had died, she missed her grandparents and she still missed her dad, but they didn't want her, she was too much trouble and it would be better if she no longer existed in her mind at least. She tried to quit drugs, to turn her life around and finally make her grandparents proud of her but she wasn't ready to give them up. One night she was hanging out with some of the other homeless people that she knew and a moment of real clarity hit her, something she had never had in her whole almost nineteen years of being alive, she looked around at her surroundings, at the people she was with and she knew that this was her rock bottom, if she didn't get out she was going to end up dead. She made her mind up that she needed help, she finally wanted help, getting up from the spot she was sitting in she made her way to The Royal Melbourne Hospital, the very place she now worked. Walking in to the emergency department she was nervous, more nervous than she ever remembered ever being in her whole life. The receptionist had smiled at her as she approached the desk and that helped her find the courage to say what she needed, telling her that she needed help, that she would kill herself if she didn't get help because she knew she couldn't sink any lower and still live. The receptionist hadn't judged her or looked at her in disgust, something Allie had grown accustomed to over the years, all she saw was concern in her eyes when she told her that they would do everything possible to help her. That one small act of care and compassion stayed with Allie as she embarked on the road to recovery and when she arrived at Arrow Health drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Woodend she was more determined than she'd ever thought possible to get clean and set her life on the right road.

Allie had attended the inpatient program at Arrow Health for three months, it was different there from the other other rehab programs she'd been in, it was a caring and nurturing environment and had an excellent yoga program that ran alongside the recovery program and Allie found that she developed a passion for yoga. After leaving the inpatient program she regularly attended the outpatient program after moving to the transitional house and it had been there that she met Kaz. Kaz had met plenty of young women like Allie and had also known plenty who had made great progress in their recovery only to slip back into their old ways a few months later once they were once again out on their own. She could tell Allie was different after speaking to her, she had finally been ready to change her life and Kaz was determined to help her anyway she could. When it was time to leave Allie had been scared, not sure she would make it alone, Kaz stepped in once more and offered Allie her spare room on the condition that she kept to all her outpatient appointments unless she had a really good excuse to reschedule. Allie found herself a job as a waitress, she didn't love the job but it paid better than she had expected and for the time being she'd decided that it would be better than nothing until she could find something that she really wanted to do.

One day Allie had attended her usual outpatient appointment and yoga class and was sat chatting to the one of the nurses over a coffee after finishing her yoga class and she had suggested that maybe Allie should look at taking a college course. The idea had seemed silly to Allie at first since she remembered how difficult high school had been for her, the nurse had pointed out that throughout high school Allie had been stuck in a downward spiral. She still wasn't convinced she was smart enough but the seed of an idea had been planted in her head and she spent hours wondering what if anything she would be good at. She knew she wanted to help people, to be able to give something back, she looked into a counselling course but somehow that just didn't seem like her thing. After talking things through with Kaz she eventually settled on becoming a nursing assistant, finding a course she could mostly do online she buckled down worked hard eventually securing herself a job at the same rehabilitation centre where she'd finally got clean. She loved her new job, finally felt that she was being productive, one of the nurses told her she would make an excellent nurse and encouraged her to apply for a nursing degree. Allie was sure that it would be a waste of time, she only had minor criminal convictions but her history wasn't pretty and she was sure that there was no way she would be allowed to become a registered nurse until the same nurse told her about her own history. Just like Allie she had once had a problem with drugs and had a slightly worse criminal history than Allie had, eventually Allie made the decision that it had to be worth a shot, if someone else could do it then there was no reason why she couldn't.

All the way through her degree course Allie had worried that there was no way that the nursing and midwifery board of Australia would would grant her her nursing license. Three years later Allie graduated with honours, all her worries had already been squashed months earlier after providing everything the board needed relating to her minimal criminal history, and she was never going to object to being drug tested because she was determined never to go back to her old habits. On her graduation day she had’t been surprised to see Kaz there, she was thankful for having one person there and thankful that she'd really turned her life around and she knew she'd done the right thing.

The odds had been against her for so long and it felt like that for the first time in years she was really happy with her life. Her love life was none existent but that hardly mattered to her since she got clean, concentrating on herself had been more important than meeting someone, besides which all her previous relationships had turned to shit, there hadn't been many and they'd all been quite short lived and she thought now that none of that mattered because here she was living in her own apartment with a job that she never dreamed she'd ever have, if she ever met anyone they would have to be pretty special, have to be able to accept the life that she had once lived and not judge her too harshly for it because that wasn't who she was anymore.

Laying in her bed her thoughts drifted to how her life had been when she lived at home with her mum, even now she couldn't understand why her mum had wanted to keep her away from her dad, to Allie it would probably never make sense, her gran had told her that her mum had suffered with depression since she was a teenager and that was why she thought after her dad had left she'd turned to drugs, Allie remembered the days when her mum would just lay in bed after her dad had first left, sometimes for days on end but she didn't remember her ever being like that when her dad was there. When she'd started taking drugs and partying, leaving Allie alone for nights on end, she became even more of everything a good parent wasn't. Watching her mum laying in bed while Allie did everything around the house had been one thing, watching her mum descend into chaos and taking Allie along with her for the ride was unforgivable. Allie was sure that if she could have refused to go along with what her mum encouraged her to do her life would have been a little better as she got older and she still wished she knew how to find her dad, often wondered if he still thought about her, they had been so close when she was little, her mum was always in a bad mood, always shouting at her for leaving her toys laying around or for not eating everything that was on her plate. Her dad would take her out to the park, chase her around, push her on the swings and he made her laugh, that was the thing she remembered the most he always knew how to make her laugh, no matter how upset Allie was he would always cheer her up and have her smiling and laughing in next to no time. He'd eat the carrots off her plate when her mums back was turned, if there was one thing Allie hated as a kid it was carrots and she didn't care if her mum made her sit at the table with her plate in front of her for days on end if carrots were involved, she remembered how her dad would say that stubborn should have been her middle name because when Allie dug her heels in and refused to do something nothing and no one would change her mind. The one thing that she really could never forget was the shouting right before her dad disappeared out of her life, it seemed to her that they had forgotten that she was in the house most of the time, either that or talking to each other was just something that they no longer wanted to do or could do. Some nights Allie would lay in her bed in the dark because her mum had turned the light off after telling her dad that he babied Allie too much, that facing her fear was the best way for her to get over it, she'd stick her fingers in her ears and pull her covers up over her head, sometimes since she had got clean she would wake up in the middle of the night and was sure she could still hear the shouting, glasses smashing and the house being trashed.

She thought about her grandparents a lot but she felt like she had let them down so badly that even if they still lived in the same place they wouldn't want to see her now would they? She had liked staying with them, she was always happy when she was with them. They were always good to her, gave her enough to eat never left her in the house alone ever and let her have friends over, certainly not something she could do at her mum's place. But the older she got the more out of control she became and she knew she'd been nothing but a disappointment to them and to herself. But that wasn't who she was anymore, she didn't blame them for what had happened, she guessed if she had been in their position she would have done the same thing. She never forgot about her time living on the streets, the people she'd seen overdose, the fights she'd witnessed or the people who had just seemed to vanish into thin air, she had nothing, no money and no one she could turn to and she couldn't blame anyone but herself, she'd had plenty of chances to change and as soon as she'd been able to go home she'd gone straight back to her old ways. Her least favourite thing had always been trying to find a place to sleep, sleeping on a bench was rarely an option, she'd tried many times but always found that she'd spend the whole night awake, a bench in a public park left her feeling too vulnerable all she ever wanted to do was hide. She spent a few months in a squat, it wasn't great but it was better than being outside, at least it was a little warmer. But then everyone staying there were evicted because whoever owned the property wanted to demolish it and she'd been left out on the streets again in the middle of winter.

Pulling the covers up as she shivered a little at the memories she closed her eyes but no matter how she tried she just couldn't get to sleep. It had been months since she'd struggled to sleep, especially after a night shift because they were always busy. Getting out of bed again she went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and try to take her mind off the memories. She hated how sometimes she just couldn't seem to forget everything that had been really bad in her life when everything had fallen into place and everything for the first time since she was a little girl was starting to feel right. There was still something missing though, she didn't have any real friends but that didn't really bother her. She got on well with everyone she worked with and would hang out with a few of the of the other nurses on their days off but most of the time she preferred to spend her time alone. She still had a lot to do around her apartment to make it actually feel like her home, she'd painted the walls and hung a few pictures around the living room but nothing else was finished, her bedroom was a train wreck, most of the time she never made her bed and the only clothes she ever hung up were for work the rest were just dumped on the chair that sat in the corner of her room, it was her mess and for now she was fine with that it wasn't as if anyone else was going to see it anyway.

Leaving her empty cup in the sink she went back to bed, the thought of spending the best part of the morning awake was never appealing and was never welcomed when she would be working another night shift before she got two well deserved days off. Slipping back between the covers her thoughts drifted once more to her grandparents and how much she would love to see them again, could she really turn up on their doorstep? If they were still living in the same house would they welcome her back into the family or had she really messed things up? Getting comfortable for the second time that morning she remembered exactly how her grandparents home had always had the scent of lavender lingering in every room, there were always fresh flowers around the place always neatly arranged in vases all of which in the spring and summer months were from the garden, her grandfather grew the most beautiful flowers in his garden but Allies absolute favourites had always been the roses, she spent hours watching him take care of his garden, deadheading his roses, weeding and planting. Closing her eyes she remembered so many things he told her, smiling to herself she remembered the numerous times she asked him to tell her about the different coloured roses he grew. Red roses he had explained signified love whereas white roses indicated a heart unacquainted with love. Yellow roses implied jealousy and infidelity, light pink roses meant grace and elegance, the salmon pink roses he grew represented desire and excitement and dark pink roses signified gratitude and appreciation. Blue roses symbolise mystery and intrigue, the peach roses he had said signified modesty, sincerity and gratitude and orange roses represented enthusiasm and passion. She remembered there were three more that he grew, cream roses which he told her represented charm and thoughtfulness, purple roses that symbolise pride and enchantment and lastly the burgundy roses that he said represented unconscious beauty, every time they had found their way to that particular rose bush he would snip one off and hand it her telling her that even if she never saw how beautiful she was one day someone would and that person would be the one she was destined to spend the rest of her life with, even as a messed up teenager he would still tell her that even though she always scoffed at the idea.

Turning over she nestled her head further into her pillow remembering the red velvet looking roses that were always displayed in the kitchen windowsill as they would dance and sway slightly with every gentle breeze that filter through the open window, how the long green stems to her had always seemed to be almost as fragile as the glass vase that they sat in. She could almost smell the scent of lavender in the air surrounding her reminding her of the delicate purple hue of the spring forget me nots in the morning light as she would happily sit in her grandparents garden. She'd never wanted a large home like theirs had been, all she ever wanted was what she now found she had, a place of her own that felt cozy and friendly, the perfect space for her as she was finally drifting off to sleep she remembered something her gran used to say, “A space is nothing more than a space until you bring your own personality to it, make your mark and express everything that is sacred to you.” And that was just what she planned to do when she found the time.

 

Chapter Text

Bea was startled awake by her alarm clock sounding, for once she had fallen back to sleep after tossing and turning for what had felt like hours, the urge to pick up her clock and throw it at the wall was just as strong as ever when she reached out to silence it. Hearing footsteps passing her bedroom door she knew Liz was already awake and would be making a start on breakfast in the not so distant future. Debbie she was sure would still be sound asleep, something that she would soon have to change since it was Friday morning and she still had one more day of preschool for the week, Bea herself was quite happy to be on an afternoon shift starting at 1500 meaning she could take Debbie to school herself and still have time to do anything she need to get done before heading to work. She'd always be grateful to Liz, the help she'd given her was invaluable and Bea was certain that she didn't know how she'd ever manage without her. Living with Liz for the last three years had at times left Bea feeling like she owed her more than she could ever repay but Liz would always tell her that as long as they were both safe and happy that was all the repayment she would ever need.

Getting out of bed she dragged herself down to the kitchen in need of coffee before she had to face persuading Debbie that it really was time to get up.

“Did you get any more sleep love?” Liz asked as Bea smiled at her and took the coffee cup from her that she was offered.

“Strangely I did, guess I must have been really tired.”

“I can get Deb up for you love, you relax.”

“Thanks Liz but I reckon you have to deal with her first thing in the morning often enough, besides I still need to have a shower but I need this more.” Bea raised her cup and laughed a little, no matter what she would always need coffee first thing in the morning.

Liz shooed Bea back upstairs as soon as she was ready to make a start on breakfast, as she said if she wasn't going to let her get Debbie up for her then she wasn't going to let her help her with breakfast and all Beas protests just fell on deaf ears. Making her way slowly back upstairs to Debbie's room she opened the door gently finding Debbie still fast asleep with most of her covers on the floor, that was nothing new, Bea was always surprised that she never woke up complaining she was cold when the only part of her that ever seemed to be under the covers were her feet. Pulling the covers back over her still very soundly sleeping daughter she sat on the edge of the bed before running her fingers through her soft curls.

“Come on sleepy head time to wake up.” Bea said softly as Debbie slowly turned over and opened her eyes.

“Mummy…” she groaned.

“No arguments, you have one more day of school before the weekend and then you can sleep in.”

“I'm starving!” Debbie announced as she sat up making Bea laugh.

“Tell me a time when you aren't.” Bea chuckled as Debbie moved to sit at the edge of the bed with her.

“Gma Liz will feed me!” Debbie pouted as she folded her arms across her chest. “Are you taking me to school mummy?” She asked a little sulkily.

“I am and Gma Liz will pick you up…go find Gma Liz while I have a shower okay?”

Debbie nodded before slipping off the bed and running out of her room, Bea shook her head Debbie could go from pouting and being grumpy to happy and full of beans in a nanosecond.

After dropping Debbie off at school Bea had nothing much to do that morning, arriving back home Liz had already taken care of the laundry and cleaned the kitchen up after breakfast leaving Bea wondering what she was going to do until her next shift started at 1500. Looking around the house and finding that Liz had already left for the supermarket Bea wandered back through to the living room flopping down on the sofa before picking up the book from the coffee table that she had been reading a couple of days before she read a few pages before closing it and dropping back down. Reaching behind the cushion on the sofa she grabbed her sketch book and thumbed through the pages, smiling when she saw the image of Debbie looking back at her. Flipping through the pages she suddenly realised that almost every sketch she did was of Debbie, there was the odd one of Liz and Franky but no one else, they were the three most important people in her life and really the only people in her life apart from the people she worked with and most of them she kept at arms length.

Hearing the front door open she closed her sketch book and pushed it back behind the cushion before getting up to give Liz a hand.

“You should have waited until I got back.”

Liz shook her head, “We didn't need a lot love and you've got another busy shift to get through later.”

“Yeah and until then I've got nothing to do.” Bea sighed.

 

 

 

Everyday on her commute from home to the station Bea always tried to use the time to mentally get ready for the start of her next shift. She'd begin by thinking about her last shift, about what she'd done well and about what she could have done better before her thoughts would turn to what had been left unfinished, and she hated leaving anything unfinished. Then she'd think about her upcoming shift and try to focus her mind on the job well before she arrived at the station.

Arriving at the station fifteen minutes before the start of her shift she ran into Fletch straight away.

“There was another armed robbery late last night, the fuckers hit Coles, who the fuck robs a supermarket?”

Bea shrugged, “Someone desperate…organised gang, come on Fletch unless they are caught we aren't gonna know.”

“It's the second this week, there were three last week, three the week before so we could be waiting for a third.”

Bea nodded as they headed for the locker room to get kitted up before going to the briefing room, Bea had always been pretty happy being a general duties officer but as Debbie got older she had thought more about where she was going with her career, pulling on her vest that held her handcuffs, OC spray and baton and in a few minutes would also house her taser, radio and firearm, she was quite certain that in time general duties were going to become tiresome, they were already dangerous, she'd always known her job could be dangerous and for some time had wondered if it was time for a change except it was the only thing she'd ever wanted to do, she knew she had the skills to become a detective and had thought about it a lot, her dad had always been happy in the role of general duties officer but Bea wanted more, maybe she could take the sergeants exam, maybe she could be a detective. She'd always thought she was lucky to still be partnered with Fletch, he'd been her field training officer but after everything that had happened with Harry he'd asked to step down from the role and stick with Bea, Vera had backed his request to the fullest and when it was granted Fletch had been relieved, most field training officers who asked to leave the role didn't generally end up with their partner of choice but they worked well together and everyone knew it.

“Ya ready?” Fletch asked as he checked that he had everything.

“As ready as ever.” Bea grinned as they made their way to the briefing room.

Vera started the shift briefing in much the same way as she always did giving every officer present the specific information regarding the daily patrol activity before handing over to Detective Will Jackson. The armed robberies were causing everyone a headache and it appeared that no one knew who was behind them or why they never stuck to the same kind of target. The gang had robbed jewellery stores, supermarkets, petrol stations and it was believed that they were the same gang that had held the staff at a casino at closing time at gun point while they robbed it before they all seemed to vanish into thin air. Not one person who had seen the gang could recognise anyone since they all wore balaclavas, they left no fingerprints or DNA evidence behind and always got away before the police could be called giving the detectives the impression that whoever was in charge of the gang had at least a little knowledge of police procedures, they obviously had a great deal of prior knowledge of the places they robbed, but they had come up empty when looking into the employees at the various places, not one had any connections with any of the other places that had been robbed and none appeared to have any connections with anyone who had a criminal record.

“We need everyone to keep their eyes and ears open now more than ever, as I'm sure you're all aware this gang just seem to disappear like a mirage at dusk, they get in rob the place at gun point and then disappear without a trace.” Will said as he looked around the briefing room, his attention drawn to Bea and Fletch who appeared to be paying more attention to what he was saying than anyone else in the room.

“These people are dangerous, believe me when I say that the only reason we believe that no one has been badly injured or worse still killed by them during the course of these robberies is because they have always complied and just given them what they were demanding.” Will paused and looked around the room again, “Smith…Fletcher, your patrol takes you past a couple of casinos later on tonight keep your eyes open…we believe that their most likely going to try for another big payday and the casinos on a Friday night fit that profile.”

Will spoke for a few minutes more before handing back the briefing to Vera and leaving the room, some of the officers grumbled about being expected to look for people who for all intents and purposes were nothing more than ghosts, Vera pointing out that as general duties officers and for the good of moral it was in everyone's interests to be vigilant especially when they had an apparent organised crime gang in the area.

 

 

 

Almost as soon as Bea and Fletch had left the briefing room they were asked to assist the custody sargent and another officer move a violent prisoner from his cell to a waiting police vehicle for transport to the hospital. The guy had been brought in after a fight and was still lashing out at anyone who went near him for his own safety they needed him checking over. The guy had tried to attack Fletch who quickly managed to restrain him and get him back in handcuffs as he turned his attention to Bea, shouting obscenities in her face and trying to bite her. The police surgeon had tried to speak with him but he wouldn't listen, screamed that no one was touching him or they'd know what real pain was, he needed sedating before being transported for his own and the hospital staffs safety and after kicking out at everyone he was finally sedated and taken to the hospital.

“Great start to a Friday!” Bea muttered as they made their way outside to inspect their patrol car before they left the station.

“Yeah…for a second there I didn't think he'd need sedating by the look on your face, thought ya were gonna knock him out.” Fletch chuckled.

Almost as soon as they set off a call came in on the radio to attend a car crash a 15 minute drive away from the police station.

“Think it's gonna be one of those days.” Bea sighed.

The only information they were given was that the collision involved two cars and that there were injuries, Bea hated these calls, hated not knowing what they would be confronted with when they arrived at the scene. When they arrived they were met with a scene of chaos, the two vehicles that were involved looked like that had been welded together, there was spilled coolant and boiling oil still burning a little on the overheated engines. They'd seen plenty of crashes before but Bea was sure that she'd never quite seen one like this before, the two cars involved had been transformed from two very distinctive vehicles into one massive steaming pile of twisted metal. Both of them were silently thankful that their training in first aid wasn't required since there was already an ambulance on the scene. Standing back a few feet they watched on as the paramedics talked to one of the drivers who was covered in blood while the firefighters worked methodically to cut the passenger out of the car. Moving a little closer, but not wanting to get in the way they saw the driver of the other car was still inside. Bea felt herself shudder a little as she realised that the other driver wasn't moving and no one was trying to help him, the outcome for him seemed obvious, one of the paramedics approached them to confirm what she already knew the crash involved a fatality. A crowd had begun to gather at the scene when Fletch radioed back to the station letting them know that the major crash investigation section needed to be involved in the investigation while Bea cordoned off the scene with crime scene tape. Looking around at the crowed of onlookers after she had finished she went back to their patrol car and grabbed a fire blanket before going to the car that had the deceased driver inside, draping it over the car. She hated scenes like this and could never understand why people had to stand around, worse still taking pictures or videos of the aftermath, to her it was just disrespectful to the person who maybe through no fault of their own was now deceased.

Finding any witnesses was a task in itself as the crowd grew and eventually they did manage to find the people who had seen what happened and took their statements. They were both relieved when the major crash investigators arrived on the scene, they handed over all the information that they had managed to obtain so far before handing over the investigation to them and offering to provide any further assistance that they might require.

After receiving a positive identification of the deceased driver they headed back to their patrol car, their next task being the one that most officers hated, and Bea would never forget the day that Vera had told her that Harry had been shot and killed in the line of duty, for her it had been a relief once the information had finally sunk in, for most people though a sense of relief was not ever going to be what they felt. The drive to the home the driver shared with his wife and children had passed in total silence, Fletch never knew what to say to Bea when they were tasked with informing the next of kin, the same way he hadn't known what to say to her that day in the hospital.

Arriving at the front door Fletch gave Bea a weak smile before knocking, both of them removed their hats as they heard a young child shouting that there was someone at the door. As the door slowly opened Bea stood a little straighter and swallowed hard as the woman stood looking at them her eyes darting from Bea to Fletch, the smile fading from her lips and the colour draining from her face. That look told them both that she knew why they were there standing on her doorstep with their hats in their hands, they both knew she did. There was never an easy way to tell someone that a loved one had lost their life and Fletch stalled when he saw a young boy at the end of the hallway, he guessed younger than Debbie was, he remembered the look on Beas face when Vera told her about Harry's death and had been relieved that Debbie had been removed from the situation, no child should hear those words from a stranger. Bea glanced passed the woman at the boy before deciding that she was going to have to be the one to do this, to rip the band aid off.

“Ma’am, I'm very sorry to have to inform you that your husband has been killed in a car crash.”

 

 

 

There next call of the shift was for a welfare check on a male who they were informed was at risk of causing harm to himself. They were informed that the male had been suffering from depression and had access to firearms. It was all part of the job and now they had to forget about their previous call and focus on their new task. Arriving at the address they had been given, leaving the car Bea knocked on the front door while Fletch scanned the windows for signs of life. Getting no response Bea knocked again louder, hoping that the person inside hadn't done anything to harm themselves, no way was she up to having to undertake another death notification that day. After her third knock she heard movement and a tall young man opened the door looking at her a little confused, after explaining why they were there he invited them in apologising for taking so long to answer the door, the medication that had been prescribed to him made him sleepy and he fallen asleep on the sofa. After a lot of talking Bea was satisfied that he had no intention of harming himself and that he no longer could gain access to the firearms that his father owned.

Almost as soon as they pulled back onto the main road Fletch spotted a car that had a headlight missing.

“Ya reckon their gonna get that fixed anytime soon?” He asked Bea as he pulled the vehicle over.

“Probably not.” Bea shook her head as she looked at the car that didn't look like it had ever been well maintained.

Fletch got out of the car and approached the car with caution wondering to himself if this could be his final traffic stop ever. The driver window was already down and Fletch introduced himself before informing the driver why he had pulled him over, giving him the usual talk about the safety hazards of the missing headlight. Issuing him with a defect notice he advised him not to drive at night until he had it repaired or he would face a $330 fine and one demerit point if he was pulled over again and had ignored the notice, reminding him that getting it repaired would cost less he wished him a safe journey and returned to the car.

Returning to the task that they had meant to start their shift with they both hoped that they could get at least a couple of hours without anymore urgent calls. Serving documents on people was always a tedious task, knowing a persons home address was never a guarantee that you would find anyone at home, however given the time of day they both guessed that unless the person they were looking for was out of town they would most likely be at home. Even on these routine tasks Bea knew that she could never let her guard down, once they had gone to a house to serve a restraining order on a woman and had been met by a huge Rottweiler that had run round from the back of the house barking at them and pinning them up against the front of the house, the dog sounded very aggressive and Fletch was sure it was going to bite one or both of them, Bea had reached for her OC spray just as he door had been opened by the woman that they were there to serve the restraining order on, as soon as she had called out the dogs name it stopped barking and walked straight into the house. On another occasion they had gone to a house to serve a protection order and were greeted at the door by a man who was holding a large kitchen knife.

Their next task of the day was to attend an address to try to locate a man that was wanted on a return to prison warrant after his parole order had been suspended. Neither of them were actually expecting him to be at the address, as soon as a person heard they would be returned to prison they usually fled and just as they had expected they were unable to locate him at the address.

As the evening wore on Bea had suggested that it was as good a time as any to head over to patrol around the casinos.

“Brunswick first?” Fletch asked as Bea looked back at him a little confused. “We check the area around Northern Pokies Casino first, it's the furthest away from the station.”

“Ahh, yeah…probably better to do that I guess.” Bea shrugged, “By the time we get back to the station we're gonna have a lot of paperwork to finish up and we've gotta pass that warrant back for the next shift.”

Driving around the area neither of them saw anything remotely suspicious, it all looked like a normal Friday night, the streets were full of people out enjoying themselves and just for a change Bea had thought they hadn't even run across any speeding motorists or fights that were just about to break out. Heading back in the direction of the station they agreed to drive round the area of the Black Opal Tabaret, once again they saw nothing unusual much to the relief of them both. Arriving on Whiteman Street a short while later where the crown entertainment complex was located Bea spotted a black van that looked out of place for the time of day. The crown complex was on the riverside and had three hotels, spas, restaurants, bars and a casino and was always a hive of activity no matter what the time of day but it was unusual to see a van parked up there later in the day. Fletch slowed down as they passed the van and saw someone sitting in the drivers seat, during the day it might not have looked quite so suspicious but it was almost 10pm. Parking up a few meters from the van he saw another passing patrol car, guessing the officers inside had the same suspicions they had when they parked in front of their car, both officers getting out.

“I don't like it.” Fletch muttered before opening his door and getting out.

Bea was just about to get out of the car when she spotted a security guard running out of the casino towards the patrol cars. The security guard almost tripped over his own feet as he ran towards the officers who were outside on the pavement talking to Fletch. Getting out of the car she heard some of what the security guard was saying but not everything as he gasped for breath, catching the word robbery as she walked over to Fletch she looked back at the van then back to Fletch who was calling for backup.

“Get this guy in the back Smith.” One of the other officers said as he drew his gun.

No sooner was the security guard sitting in the back of their patrol car all hell broke loose as three people rushed out of the casino guns in their hands, clothed head to foot in black. Bea didn't have time to think only react as she drew her gun, sirens were blazing from the direction of the station as the men tried to scatter. The driver of the van was already on the ground and being handcuffed by Fletch. Her heart was racing as she ran in the direction of the casino as more patrol cars pulled up. One of the men was being chased by two officers who had just arrived as the other two seemed to freeze. Members of the public were walking past and Bea knew that someone possibly even her was going to get hurt when she saw one of the men grab a woman and held his gun to her head. Even though there was a very high threat to life she knew she didn't have a clean shot as he moved around dragging the woman with him. A few moments later the other man aimed his gun at some of the other officers and opened fire, one officer then another fell to the ground right in front of her eyes. Turning her attention back to the man with the gun pointed at the woman's head more shots rang out as she saw her fall to the ground as the guy tried to run away, Bea saw her chance and squeezed the trigger firing one shot hitting him in the shoulder she watched him stumble backwards as he raised the gun again aiming at Bea and firing. Taking another shot at him she didn't feel the pain as a bullet hit her in the arm, watching him this time fall to ground she ran over to him, kicked the gun away and crouched down next to him pulling the balaclava from his head. As one final shot rang out she quickly scanned the area seeing four officers down, two were clearly dead the other two screaming in pain, moments later she saw the blood running down her arm.

 

Chapter Text

 

Allie was woken by her alarm at 1930, opening her eyes she reached over to silence the noise that had invaded her ears dragging her from a deep sleep. Sighing she threw the covers back before getting out of bed and heading straight for the kitchen, she'd stayed awake for way too long after she got home that morning because of her constant nagging thoughts and now she needed coffee before she had a shower. Once she had coffee she took it back to the bedroom with her trying not to spill any while she tried to drag a clean towel out from under her pile of clothes that were dumped on the chair. ‘Really gotta start putting things away,’ she said to herself before putting her mug down on the dresser as she struggled to pull a towel from the pile. Throwing a towel on the bed she drained her coffee mug pulling a face as it was almost cold.

Stripping down she went to the bathroom, turned on the water in the shower and waited until the room started to fill with steam before stepping in letting the hot water beat down on her head. Closing her eyes she could feel the heat soaking into her skin, the sensation of the water always calmed her, took her mind off the things that she knew she should no longer care about. ‘One more ten hour shift’ she thought to herself as she rinsed the shampoo out of her hair. The only downside to night shifts were that they were longer but the time always passed quickly and she was always kept busy.

Arriving at the hospital half an hour before the start of her shift at 2130 like she always did she sat in her car for a few minutes, replying to a text that she'd received while she was driving from Kaz asking if she still wanted meet for a catch up over the weekend. The only plans she had for the weekend were to finally get her bedroom into some kind of functional order, she'd been living in her apartment for three months and she'd thought about doing it but that had been as far as she'd got, actually doing it had always been another matter. There were so many other things she'd rather spend her time doing when she wasn't working.

Walking into the emergency department she went straight to the locker room.

“Hey Allie did ya notice it's a full moon tonight?” One of the other nurses laughed.

“Yeah…is that meant to mean something?”

“No one ever told ya that when it's a full moon things tend to be a little more crazy on nights?”

“That's just superstition, anyway nights are always going to be crazy.”

“I'm tellin ya it's gonna be a crazy night.”

“If ya say so.” Allie chuckled and shook her head as she put her bag away, it wasn't like she'd never heard that most of her co workers believed that a full moon equaled an exceptionally busy shift but she couldn't say she'd ever really noticed a difference but then she'd thought that maybe she hadn't been there long enough to notice. Leaving the locker room it seemed pretty quiet, not that she'd ever say that word out loud, she'd been told often enough that the ‘Q’ word wasn't something you said unless you were prepared for the shift to turn into chaos.

After being assigned to ED rooms 5-8 she spent some time before her shift officially began reviewing the chart of the patient that was already in her area, thankful that there was only one patient giving her time to do a quick assessment of the rooms knowing that it was always better to make sure everything was in order before the night got too crazy and being Friday it was generally busy. Friday nights usually saw their fair share of drunks who had been in fights or fallen over and needed stitches, but what she had noticed about working in the emergency department that it was nothing like what most people expected it to be. People always seemed to picture the emergency department as having a continuous stream of ambulances with blaring sirens rushing people in with life threatening injuries, not that they didn't see their fair share but it wasn't like that constantly. Most people who were brought to the emergency department weren't in a life or death situation, as Allie had soon found out, a lot of what they really saw were people needing acute care where people had brief but serious illnesses, conditions that were a result of long term disease and a number of people who were still in recovery after surgery.

 

 

 

Bea couldn't get the image of her colleagues out of her head, seeing their bodies laid out in the middle of the street wasn't something she thought she'd ever forget. They were doing their job, doing the thing that they were supposed to do, no one was supposed to get killed. Watching only one of them be loaded into the back of an ambulance before it sped off wasn't how this was meant to happen, watching the paramedics be able to do nothing for three of them wasn't how this was meant to work out, hadn't two of them still been alive? Their screams just kept ringing in her ears. She hadn't been able to do a damn thing to stop it from happening, she couldn't have taken a shot from where she had been standing because the guy holding the woman was in her line of sight. She didn't even know who it was that had been put in the ambulance, everything was fuzzy even Fletch helping her to another waiting ambulance to get her arm looked at was still a blur in her mind. She couldn't stop it from happening, she had to either concentrate on the guy threatening a member of the public or the other guy, there were plenty of other officers arriving she thought so her choice was correct, at the time it had been now she wasn't sure anymore. Had the other officers not reacted fast enough? She remembered hearing that the woman was fine, just a few scratches from being thrown to the ground and shock. Fletch had put the call out for back up, they got there quick enough and now three of them were dead, ‘what went wrong?’ she kept asking herself but not being able to find any satisfactory answer to that all consuming question. Now three offices were going to be in the morgue and she was still alive, injured slightly but still alive all the same, closing her eyes for a few moments she could still see the scene. ‘Was it my fault? Should I have reacted differently?’ Were questions that kept spinning around in her head. How was she going to go back to the station and face her colleagues? How was she going to look Vera in the eye? How could she even face her own reflection in the mirror now? And there he was again, Harry in her head, his voice so loud as if he were sitting right beside her, “You're useless, fucking pathetic…anyone who's stupid enough to want be partnered with you may as well sign their own death warrant.”

“Bea Smith?” She heard her name being called as she opened her eyes again and looked in the direction the voice had come from, still holding her arm she looked at the bandages, at the blood that was still seeping through, the bullet hadn't done too much damage she knew that, it wasn't lodged in her arm and for that she was thankful but it still hurt.

“Sorry…yes.” She stood up unsure if that was even the sound of her own voice anymore.

Glancing around the waiting room she felt like everyone was staring at her, like everyone knew she had made a mistake and were judging her, that she didn't deserve to wear the uniform. She took a step forward feeling as if she might throw up any second. No one in that waiting room knew what really happened, no one knew what she was going through, hell they had no idea what it was like to be a cop out there on the streets not knowing if the next call you go to will be the one that ends your life. Following the doctor to a room she just wanted to get this over with, get her arm stitched up and go home, sit in Debbie's room for a while in the dark and watch her sleeping and be thankful for a while, thankful that she gets to go home, gets to see her daughter again because three officers weren't going home to their families, wouldn't see their kids again, wouldn't get to kiss them goodnight or tuck them in one last time.

The room was quiet as Bea sat on the edge of the bed eyeing the doctor who she knew, this wasn't the first time she'd been to the emergency department after being injured and she knew Dr Bridget Westfall was a talker. Bea didn't want to think about what had happened let alone talk about it, it was bad enough she thought that she was going to have to write a complete report about the incident, no she did not want to talk about it, wasn't sure she would even know where to start. Bea looked straight past Bridget, caught her own reflection in the mirror that was on the opposite wall, was that really her reflection looking back at her? She wasn't even sure anymore when she saw the blood streaks on her face, down her arm and smears of blood on her uniform, her red curly hair mattered with sweat and her eyes red from crying. The blood wasn't all hers, and she would give anything to wash it all away from every inch of her body that it touched, wanted to scrub her brain clean of the images that she saw and the thoughts that just wouldn't leave. It was over she was safe even though she didn't feel like she deserved to be.

“Do you want to tell me what happened tonight Bea?” Bridget asked in her usual friendly tone that as always held nothing but compassion.

“No!” Bea stated in her all too familiar blunt tone, “Just patch me up and send me home.”

“Bea you do yourself no good keeping it all to yourself, it's good to talk about it, you know you can talk to me.” Bridget urged.

This was the side of the doctor that Bea hated, every time she'd encountered her she'd tried to get her to open up to her but that wasn't easy for Bea, she would talk about it, eventually, probably when Franky had pushed a little too hard, then they'd argue and cry before Bea would eventually tell her everything.

“I said no Bridget, I'm here for only one reason. Clean me up, stitch my arm and let me out of here.” Bea stated firmly as she felt the tears threaten to fall again.

Bea looked Bridget straight in the eye tearing the bandage off her arm, “This is why I'm here, your job is to patch me up not try to con me into a therapy session so if you wouldn't mind just do your job.”

Bridget sighed before clearing her throat, “Have it your way Bea.”

“Thanks, I usually do.”

“I'll get the nurse.” Bridget said softly as she turned to leave the room knowing that there was no point in trying to convince Bea that she could talk to her, that she could trust her. She knew Bea had issues and hoped that one day she would convince her that she wasn't the enemy.

Bea wouldn't let herself feel bad for speaking to Bridget the way she had, what possible reason did she have to feel bad? Bridget couldn't possibly ever understand how she was feeling, couldn't feel the pain that she was going through, the pain that she had gone through so no she wasn't about to try and explain anything to Bridget. All she wanted was to go home, to be in the only place she felt no one was going to judge her or try to make her talk about it.

Sitting on the edge of the bed it seemed to take forever for the nurse to finally appear, Bea heard her come in but didn't look up straight away, didn't even glance at her name tag like she usually would, what possible difference would it make to know her name? She was just there to do her job, but for some reason she felt the need to glance at her a few seconds later, 'why the hell can I feel her eyes on me?' She wondered for a moment. She didn't look scared by her appearance, she'd met nurses that had looked petrified when they encountered someone who looked like she did right now, she certainly wasn't a pretty sight by any accounts and she wondered how many times she'd seen people looked this messed up.

“Hi, I'm Allie. I'll be your nurse tonight, if there's anything you need just let me know.” Allie said in the sweetest voice Bea thought she had ever heard.

Finally looking up properly she was met with the most piercing blue eyes she thought she'd ever seen, eyes that looked like the ocean, so full of life yet mixed with a little uncertainty, the different blue hues carried all kinds of emotional currents and before she could take another breath Bea was sure she could drown in those eyes. She didn't say anything, there was no need to say anything, nothing she felt she could say as she was held in the gaze of those bright blue eyes.

“So?” Allie said as she cocked her head to one side not certain what she was feeling as she looked back into deep brown eyes that held so much pain.

“I don't need anything other than this stitching up.” Bea winced as she held up her arm.

“You sure?” Allie asked unable to tare her eyes away from Beas. “I'll be honest with you I'm still pretty new at this, don't get me wrong I've stitched people up before but for this.” She pointed at Beas wound, “We need to wait for Dr Westfall to come back, she might be a few minutes.” Allie smiled.

‘Oh great.’ Bea thought to herself, ‘As if this night couldn't get any worse they send a newbie in here.’ Bea instantly felt guilty about even thinking that way, Allie was being honest with her, she didn't appear even slightly fazed by her appearance and that puzzled her a little, most people would be shocked but not her, and for someone who had just said she was new to the job that was surprising she couldn't have seen that many people looking the way she did right now.

“Right…I don't have all night though.” Bea snorted, she just didn't have time to wait around.

Bea watched Allie expecting to see the look on her face change but it didn't, she didn't even flinch a little. Bea was always able to get a reaction out of people, usually they left her alone when she spoke to them in that tone but not Allie, she just seemed to let it wash over her and Bea found herself thinking that she was just maybe as weird as she knew she was herself.

“What happened?” Allie asked, “You don't have to tell me obviously, it's just…it looks pretty bad, you were shot right? And well, it's more than just a bullet grazing your skin.”

“Don't wanna talk about it.” Bea grunted as Allie remained unfazed.

Bridget walked back into the room a few minutes later her usual cheerful smile ever present on her lips.

“You were quite lucky really Bea, its more than a graze but let me take a better look but I'm sure Allie here can clean and stitch it for you.”

“Yeah great!” Bea didn't want to make small talk, she just wanted to get this over with, flinching as Bridget checked the wound on her arm.

“No major damage you'll be please to know.” Bridged smiled, “Don't give Allie a hard time Bea, she's only been here three months please don't be scaring the nurses away.” She chuckled before leaving the room again.

Allie was sure she'd never met anyone like Bea before, almost certain that she never would again, she'd had a rough day and she could say that she just wanted to get out of there and go home as often as she wanted that wouldn't make her feel any better about her day, it wouldn't take the fear out of her eyes that it seemed only Allie was able to really see. She could read people well, maybe that was how she was able to survive while she lived on the streets, she'd learnt to look for cues that most people didn't notice, noticed the smallest change in someone's demeanour, she saw everything that a person tried to hide but they could never hide what was written in their eyes. The fear she saw in Beas eyes told Allie all she needed to know and Bea Smith for all her protests was scared to death of leaving the safety the emergency department offered. Allie had heard about what had happened before Bea had arrived at the hospital, she didn't need her to tell her what had happened after they had stumbled on an armed robbery in progress, not unless she really wanted to talk and she knew that she didn't.

“That's going to require a few stitches.” Bridget said as she breezed back into the room, “I have another patient in room 7 so I'll leave you in Allies capable hands…and Bea.” She paused waiting for her to look like she was paying just a little attention, “Play nice.”

Bea shrugged, “Just as long as I get out of here soon I'll behave…” Bridget was just about to exit the room once more when Bea spoke again, “The other officer…have you heard? How they are…do ya know who it was?”

Bridget turned her head, “It was Linda Miles…she's in surgery.” She sadly smiled, “Fletch is in the waiting room and some loud mouth demanding to see you, now I wonder who that could be?”

“Sounds like Franky to me.” Bea chuckled.

Bridget nodded her head and headed back out of the room again, when Bridget had first met Franky one night at the hospital she never would have believed that her and Bea were friends, they seemed polar opposites to her, but as she'd gotten to know them both a little better she started to understand why they were friends, at first it had seemed more like it was because they worked at the same station but she knew better now, they stuck by each other and had done since their training days, she'd never gone into the reasons why Franky was so protective but she didn't think she needed to anyway.

Bea was quiet while Allie was stitching her arm up, not that Allie had expected anything else, she concentrated on what she was doing ignoring her sighs, not paying her the slightest bit of attention when she felt her flinch a little.

“You done yet?” Bea asked through gritted teeth.

“I am, I'll go and find Dr Westfall and ask her to sign your discharge papers.” Allie smiled, “Want me to show your friend through while ya wait?”

“Yeah…thanks.” Bea muttered as Allie left the room without looking back.

Allie went to the waiting room first, spotting Franky wasn't the hardest thing in the world since she was still having a very heated conversation with Fletch.

“How can ya not know how Red got fuckin shot?”

“Franky how many more…”

“Don't okay? I don't wanna hear what ya were doin all over again, fuck Fletch what about Debbie? She could have lost her mum tonight, how the hell do ya explain that to a 5 year old?”

“But it didn't happen, she's gonna be fine.” Fletch pleaded with Franky as he saw Allie approach.

“Excuse me.”

Franky spun around eyeing Allie suspiciously, “Can I help ya blondie?” She asked in harsh tone.

“I told Bea I'd take ya through to see her while she waits for her discharge papers…if you'll follow me I'll take ya to her.”

Franky nodded and followed Allie leaving Fletch sitting with his head in his hands, sometimes Franky could be so unreasonable, he knew why she was so protective of Bea but when she just wouldn't listen to reason she was impossible. There was nothing he could have done to stop it from happening, couldn't have predicted that Bea would get hurt.

“Ya been looking after my girl?” Franky asked as she followed Allie the short distance down the corridor to room 5. “Ya better have, cos I'm tellin ya she's had enough shit in her life without all this.”

Allie didn't answer, she didn't like the way Franky spoke to her, certainly didn't like the way she referred to Bea as ‘her girl’ not that she was surprised, hearing Bea had a 5 year old was a shock, but who was she kidding? She hadn't been able to peel her eyes away from Bea, there was something about her that just kept Allies eyes glued to her, she should have guessed that she had someone waiting for her at home. She wanted to pull Franky to one side, tell her what she thought of her attitude but she kept her mouth shut. She didn't want to provoke her, she was upset. Bea was obviously very important to her and Allie was pretty sure she'd never see either of them again, what were the chances of Bea getting hurt again and being in the emergency department when she was on shift, ‘slim to none’ she'd told herself and besides Bea obviously wasn't available. Entering room 5 with Franky in tow she watched on as Franky pushed passed her and wrapped her arms around Bea before she walked out of the room to find Bridget, she didn't want to deal with Franky for any longer than was necessary, especially when she thought that Bea and Franky were together.

“Beas discharge papers.” Bridget's smile vanished in an instant as she handed them to Allie. “Has something happened? Bea been more difficult than normal?” She asked.

“No…no nothing like that.” Allie sighed as she took the papers from Bridget, “Just someone that was waiting for her in the waiting room, kinda has a big mouth, I'm just…I guess…it doesn't matter.” Allie shrugged and started to walk away not realising that Bridget was following her, something or someone had clearly bothered her and Bridget intended to find out.

“Some of Beas colleagues can be a bit abrupt.” Bridget mumbled from behind Allie, “Beas been in and out of here all the time I've worked here, never because she's been shot before though, I guess…” Bridget trailed off as she entered the room with Allie seeing Bea and Franky sat side by side.

“Hey doc.” Franky grinned, “Fancy running into ya here, now am I ever gonna be able to convince ya to come out with me?”

“I don't think so Franky.” Bridget laughed, “I hear you have been upsetting one of the nurses.”

“Na doc.” Franky held her hands up, “Least not intentionally.” She looked at Allie who had the discharge papers in her hand and her gaze firmly on Bea. “Well shit blondie, close ya mouth droolin ain't a good look on anyone.”

“What?…I…I errr.” Try as she might Allie hadn't been able to stop herself from looking at Bea, the last thing she expected was for Franky to notice.

“It's all good blondie…hey maybe ya can do me a favour and convince the doc here that she should come out with me.”

Allie shook her head, had she really got the wrong end of the stick? Did she refer to Bea as her girl for a different reason other than the one she had imagined? Allie sighed, “I'm hardly in a position to convince anyone of anything.”

Franky laughed as Allie bit her lip and tried not to look at Bea anymore, she felt uncomfortable under Franky watchful gaze, she wished she could have had more time alone with Bea but that wasn't going to happen. As Bridget left the room Franky followed her out of the room wanting to try and persuade her to at least have a drink with her, Bridget had gotten under her skin the first time she ever met her one night when she had been waiting to get a statement from an assault victim and now every time she saw her she couldn't help herself, if it was the last thing she ever did she would get Bridget to go for a coffee at the very least with her.

Bea got off the bed and looked at her arm, Allie had been gentle when she'd stitched her up and Bea wasn't stupid enough to have not noticed the way she had looked at her, and for some strange reason Bea hadn't wanted to take her eyes off Allie either and she didn't quite understand that, never in her life had she ever wanted to look at someone else so much, not unless that person was Debbie. She didn't know what it was but there was something about Allie and now it was time for her to leave and she would probably never see her again. Not that it mattered anyway, although she suspected Franky might have a little more to say since she had clearly seen the way Allie looked at her.

“Make sure to take paracetamol for the pain and drink plenty of water aye.” Allie said as she watched Bea stuff her hands in her pockets.

“Yeah I know the drill, not the first time I've had stitches.” Bea rolled her eyes.

“Oh? I thought Bridget said….” Allie shook her head, “Doesn't matter, I just thought…oh nothing.”

“You have a pen?” Bea asked as she looked at the discharge papers that were now sitting on the bed. “Seem to have lost mine.” She smiled, a smile that Allie was sure lit up the whole room, meeting her like this was shitty timing she thought, how could she expect her to want to have a conversation after what she'd just been through.

“Yeah…course, sorry I didn't think.” Allie held out her pen feeling Beas fingers brush against hers as she took it from her sending a shiver down her spine. “Maybe you should talk to someone, there are plenty of people Dr Westfall could refer you to, or if ya just want a friendly chat…I mean, well…I'm worried about you not having anyone to talk to, your friend seems like she really cares about ya but maybe it's easier to talk to someone you don't know so well.” Allie didn't want to let Bea go until she knew someone else was concerned about her.

“Thanks…I…well I never, don't like to talk too much.” Bea looked down at her feet.

Allie suddenly felt her heart racing, she couldn't just let her leave like this but it wasn't a choice, she couldn't keep her there longer than was necessary and as far as her treatment was concerned her job was over but that didn't mean she didn't want to see Bea again she just couldn't see how that would even be possible.

Bea walked over to the door turning back to face Allie before she opened it, “Have a good night Allie.”

Allie smiled and nodded as she watched her open the door and watched her walk away, following her out of the room she watched her walk down the corridor, sighing as she walked through the double doors at the end.

“It won't be the last time you see her around her.” Bridget said as she walked up behind Allie, “There's another patient waiting for you in room 8.”

“I'll be there in a second.” Allie didn't turn around straight away, she didn't want Bridget to see her wipe the single tear that left her eye and ran down her cheek.

 

Chapter Text

 

Allie found herself in room 8 a short time later assessing an elderly patient who had been brought in by his wife. Sitting by the side of the bed holding his hand she told Allie that he had started showing signs of confusion that morning as the day had worn on he had become more confused and had started asking when his long since deceased father would be getting home from work. Allie was concerned about his altered mental status and asked for his medical history discovering that he had recently started taking a new medication that had been prescribed to him and suspected that maybe behind the cause of his confusion.

Another hour passed and she had moved from room to room assessing patients effortlessly at a fast paced speed, she covered for another nurse when she went for her break, something she always enjoyed doing since it gave her little time to think about anything else and tonight she wanted something to keep her distracted from her thoughts because they kept wandering back to the same thing time and time again and the thing or rather the person that kept invading her thoughts was Bea. Bridget had been impressed with Allie since her first shift when she'd observed her medical insight and was determined not to lose her from the emergency department and had taken to watching her carefully at every opportunity she got.

Tonight wasn't much different as she watched on silently from outside the open door as she was questioning a young male who was complaining about shortness of breath. She'd asked detailed questions so she could get a full picture of his problem and the possible cause. She had grabbed her stethoscope to listen to his lungs without missing a beat when she had noticed a scar on his ear which she asked him about. The patient had then told her that it was cancer and he had found out recently that it had spread to his lungs, a detail that he had failed to mention right from the start. Bridget had busied herself trying to make herself look less like she was paying more attention to Allie than she did as Allie carried on with her work keying in his medical history in his electronic chart before she went in search of Bridget, who wasn't hard to find which surprised Allie a little since it was a busy night, so she could decide what the next course of action was going to be. Allie was soon moving on to her next patient, a man who had been brought in by ambulance who she had been informed had recently been released from Ravenhall Prison. She entered the exam room with confidence not even slightly fazed by being confronted by someone who until recently had been in prison. His clothes were blood stained and he had a black eye telling her that he'd been in a fight two nights ago, Allie talked to him calmly and gave him the same respect that she gave to all her patients as she quickly began a thorough assessment, determining that he had elevated blood pressure the patient then thought to tell her that while he was incarcerated he'd been off his medication. After quickly updating his chart she returned to the cancer patient to take a blood sample before being informed that her patient with the blood stained clothing wanted to leave the hospital. Allie made at quick check on her elderly patient and noticed a change in his behaviour that she thought was indicative of a stroke she informed Bridget and went straight back to the patient who wanted to leave, calming him down again he agreed to stay so that he could be treated before Bridget appeared at the door and asked her to take a blood sample from her elderly patient.

As she made her way back to the room she was beginning to think that her colleagues might just have been right about the full moon and after taking the blood sample from her elderly patient she discovered that her ex prisoner was missing from his room, one of the other nurses told her that he had said he was going to the bathroom and hadn't been seen since. Allie shook her head, it wasn't a surprise to her really, she'd had a few ex inmates who had walked out before being properly treated, they would usually be back in if their symptoms became worse or got arrested again as had been the case with one man who had later collapsed as he was being taken into the police station.

Managing to grab a quick cup of coffee Allie looked at the time, just after midnight and she knew everything that she had dealt with up until this point was more than likely the calm before the storm. A few minutes later she had new patient who had been brought in by ambulance with leg pain Allie did her assessment of her new patient and a quick differential diagnosis to rule out deep vein thrombosis, he had a history of blood clots and was taking blood thinners, his leg wasn't red or swollen, a short time later after Bridget had ordered an ultrasound and no blood clot had been found.

Allie worked alongside Bridget we ease when the next patient arrived by ambulance, a 91 year old female who the paramedics had told them was suffering from shortness of breath and respiratory distress and who's oxygen saturation was only 84%. Once she was as comfortable as was possible in the examination room Allie placed a nasal cannula on her nose and positioned her on the bed for better oxygenation. Bridget suspected possible congestive heart failure exacerbation or pneumonia and Allie worked quickly starting an IV, drawing her blood for lab work and preparing her for a chest x-ray. No sooner was she finished with that patient she had a new one, this time a 26 year old male who had a fever and swelling down his face and neck, it looked to her like a characteristic picture of mumps. Getting his medical history he told her that he had recently been to Luna Park so maybe had been around someone who was sick.

By the time the early morning rush arrived Allie had drawn additional blood, given various medications, dealt with a patient who's only complaint was a headache and looked over lab results with Bridget. Another patient who was extremely intoxicated had been brought in and Allie was relieved when he wasn't brought to one of the exam rooms she was working, he was a frequent flyer and she'd encountered him a number of times and even though he was always pleasant unlike a lot of drunks that were brought in he took up way more time than she had to spend with just one patient.

Finally managing to find time to take her break she almost collapsed into the chair, she was tired and hungry and starting to look forward to having a couple of days off. Sitting alone she found her thoughts turning back to Bea, she could understand why she had been upset and angry, she'd heard more details about the incident that Bea had been involved in after she'd left, no one wanted to find themselves in an emergency department at the best of times and she couldn't imagine how it must feel to see people you knew gunned down while all you were doing was your job. She couldn't get the pain and fear she'd seen in Beas eyes out of her head. Bridget walked in a few minutes later, sitting in a chair opposite Allie she was sure she knew exactly what was playing on her mind.

“You shouldn't worry about Bea too much, I don't exactly know her story, might have picked up on a few things here and there but I know she's resilient, made of tough stuff that one make no mistake about that.”

“How can you not worry? She can't keep all that inside and be okay. I mean, I heard her friend say she has a daughter…how can she go home and pretend that everything is fine?”

“I really don't know, people cope with things differently…I'm sure I couldn't see what she saw and be alright, I doubt I could see half of what I'm aware she's seen and be alright without talking about it and that sounds ridiculous when you think about the things we see in here on a daily basis.”

“Yeah.” Allie sighed before finishing the last mouthful of her sandwich and draining the last of her coffee from her mug. There was something about Bea that she couldn't quite put her finger on and as much as she wanted to see her again and maybe actually have a proper conversation with her she didn't want to see her in the emergency department again anytime soon, especially if she was the one who was injured.

“It goes without saying that we'll see her again in the not so distant future.” Bridget smiled, “Most of the time it's not after an incident like tonight and honestly she is generally more pleasant than she was earlier, so is Franky come to think of it.”

 

 


After discharging the mumps patient a new patient in her 60s had been brought into Allies area, she'd recently had an ablation surgery for a cardiac arrhythmia and had been brought in by ambulance with shortness of breath and chest tightness. Before she knew it another hour had flown by and she was starting to feel increasingly tired, the week seemed to be the longest since she started her week of night shifts, hardly surprising really since she had been rushed off her feet for most of the night.

Now she had a psychiatric patient who had brought herself into the emergency department telling them that she was having suicidal thoughts. Allie was familiar with the drill placing her in one to one observation and sitting with her after removing her belongings until someone else could be found to sit with her, she also wasn't stupid enough to not realise that she could still have something on her that she could harm herself or Allie with. She'd heard the horror stories and never let her guard down when she was with a psychiatric patient. Allie was concerned for her, she couldn't have been much older than she was, she seemed a little anxious and agitated but she was quite happy to talk freely with her, an hour later she seemed to become increasingly despondent and unresponsive. Allie had seen this happen too often as they waited for a psych consult, hated seeing the way that her patients had to endure the waiting and could so easily crumble under the stress of waiting for treatment in a noisy, busy and unfamiliar environment. Bridget had already requested a psych consult and to Allies amazement not too long later a psychiatrist arrived, she'd seen too many patients wait hours in her three months in the hospital she'd seen one patient still be waiting for two days. It was hard to watch someone who recognised that they needed help, ask for it only to be kept waiting, it made her wonder what might have happened to her that night she walked into the emergency department and asked for help if she'd have had to wait for hours or days, would she have been like those people she'd watched walk out without getting the help they needed? She honestly doubted that she would have waited and knew that she'd have walked out probably never to be seen again. She shook the thoughts from her head as she left her patient with the psychiatrist and returned to find that she had more new patients.

Almost at the end of her shift she couldn't remember the number of patients she'd seen that night but was relieved when Bridget told her that her psych patient had been determined to be stable enough for discharge with follow up care and medication. With her last few patient discharges for the night and a few additional tasks she was almost done, happy as always that she'd made it through another shift without a death. Before leaving she had checked on her patients for one last time and told them that she was leaving but not to worry because she was leaving them in great hands with the morning shift nurses.

Walking across the car park to her car Bridget caught up with her, “Any plans for your days off?”

“Not a great deal, meeting up with a friend…finally going to try and organise my apartment.” She laughed, “Although I'll probably give up before I even get started, you?”

“Sleep!” Bridget exclaimed, “I've spent more hours here than you have.”

“You didn't get a coffee invitation then?” Allie laughed.

“Huh?…You're referring to Franky?”

“Who else? She asked me to try and convince you to go out with her.”

“She does that…she's so full of herself…maybe…maybe one day I'll give in.” Bridget chuckled.

“Yeah, I reckon ya might have to or she might stalk ya.” Allie laughed before getting in her car.

 

 

 

When Bea arrived home Franky was adamant that she shouldn't be alone five minutes later and a few heated words she walked through the front door by herself. She'd wanted out of the hospital, she wanted to be away from Franky, in fact she wanted to be away from everyone except Debbie. No one could know what that night had been like for her, every time she closed her eyes she saw their bodies, heard the gunshots, she hadn't seem them get hit, hadn't seen them go down she'd been concentrating on the guy who had grabbed the woman that was passing. She didn't care about the guys who were robbing the casino, as far as she was concerned if they were all dead it wouldn't be a great loss to the world at large but to loose three good officers who all had families, how was she ever going to live with that?

“Talk to someone.” Those words rang in her ears and in her head on a loop and she laughed a little as she walked through the dark house to the fridge for a beer. She didn't even want it, couldn't even think of anything she really wanted except to rid her mind of the entire night, to go to sleep and forget it even happened for a few hours. She drank down the beer in one go as she stood with the fridge door wide open illuminating the kitchen a little and casting shadows all around her, shadows that she wished could swallow her whole. Word would already be all around the station by now, everyone would know what had happened, who had been killed and who had survived to live with the events forever tattooed in their brains. How was she going to face everyone, what was she going to say? Somehow saying that she followed procedure didn't seem enough, correct procedure hadn't saved any lives that night.

Her phone rang, pulling it out of her pocket she saw Vera's name staring back at her, she didn't want to talk to her, wasn't sure she could deal with her right now but she knew that if she ignored her now she would have to deal with her later in the day.

“Can I help you Vera?” Bea answered gruffly not caring if she got reprimanded for using that tone of voice with her boss.

“Bea, listen I think you should take some time off, after the events of last night…well I think you need it, I've already told Fletch the same and he's agreed.”

Bea shook her head, that was why she was calling in the early hours, those were the first words out of her mouth? “You have to be fucking kidding me? Take some time off, what as in suspended or I'm getting fired?” She almost yelled down the phone.

“That's not what I'm saying at all Bea, it's been agreed that you should take compassionate leave, and that comes from over my head. No ones getting fired, you're just being given sometime off after all you've been through. Spend some time with Debbie, get yourself together, find someone you can talk to Bea, you will have to have a psychological assessment before you come back you know that…please Bea, take care of yourself you need to for Debbie's sake you know that.” Vera sighed into the phone.

“I don't need time off, I'm fine…honestly I…”

Vera cut her off. “Everyone needs time after going through an ordeal like that. Don't worry about work, worry about yourself for once, you need to have your head together before you come back. You need to have your head together for Debbie and for yourself, this isn't a case of falling off your bike and getting straight back on again.”

“Yeah…doesn't sound as if I have a great deal of choice in the matter does it. Guess it doesn't matter what I say you aren't giving me any say in this, no matter what you call it I won't be back at the station anytime soon will I?”

“Bea I'm sorry, really I am but the matter was taken out of my hands. Just take care of yourself, it's paid leave so you won't be losing anything if that's what's worrying you, you'll still have all your vacation time you have owing.” Vera tried her hardest to assure her that it really was in her best interests.

“Sounds as if I'm just not needed, and it's not about the money, you just don't trust me out there, don't trust my judgement why do you never say what you really mean?”

“It's nothing like that and you know it, I have never questioned your judgement I never will you are one of the best officers we have, you're tired, you're upset, we all are, you should get some rest and I'll check in with you in a few days.” Vera swallowed hard, she sounded like she was having a tough time talking and Bea felt a little guilty for speaking to her the way she just had. Vera was always fair, always tried her best to lookout for all the officers and had their best interests at heart, but right now that was the furthest thing from Beas mind, being told she had no say in the matter just made her uncomfortable and set her up to be more defensive than normal.

“I don't need checking up on, I'm sure Franky will be doing that every fucking day. I'll be fine.” Bea told her even though she wasn't sure if she was trying to convince Vera or herself with her last statement as she ended the call.

She didn't want to carry on the conversation any longer, there was nothing else to talk about. Vera had called her for only one reason and that reason was over and done with. Closing the fridge door she quietly went upstairs and went straight to Debbie's room, sitting on the edge of the bed she watched her daughter sleeping. It would have been so easy for her not to be sitting here right now she knew that, if she'd have moved an inch or two it could have been so much worse, she could be laying in the morgue right now, leaning forward gently she kissed Debbie before getting up from the bed and and going to have a shower, she had to wash the blood off and she couldn't care less about her injured arm, she just needed to wash the day away. Her tears mixed with the water as it cascaded over her body, sinking down the wall she hugged her knees to her chest as she cried a seemingly never ending stream of tears, tears for her fallen colleagues and for herself as the water ran cold. Pulling on sweats and a t shirt she knew she wasn't going to sleep heading back downstairs to the living room and taking her scanner with her. She might not be able to work but no one could tell her that she couldn't listen, she couldn't not know what was going on out there. After Debbie she only really lived for the job.

She sat listening for hours, it seemed to be a slow night, a couple of fights, a house burglary that had been discovered by the home owner when he returned from being out of town. Everything else was just routine communication, she hated nights like that when she was working, but they were easy and she always knew she would get home on time. She sat on the sofa for the rest of the night, before she knew it it was daylight, glancing at the clock it was just after 0745, Liz wouldn't be up for at least an hour since it was Saturday and Debbie would sleep until lunch time if she let her. She was just about to head to the kitchen to make coffee when something caught her interest, a burglary disturbed by the resident returning home from a night shift.

“We need backup.” She heard a familiar voice over the scanner. Bea felt her heart thump in her chest, her throat went dry, he was requesting help and there had been no response so far. Hearing the street and the number of the residence she knew it wasn't too far from where they lived. Her head was telling her to stay where she was, she was off the job for the time being but she couldn't just sit back and do nothing could she? She jumped up and grabbed her house keys, walking out of the house without even giving it a second thought she ran down the street and turned the corner seeing another patrol car heading in the same direction. She should turn around she knew that but something kept her going. Rounding another corner she saw someone running towards her and she stopped, frozen to the spot and the guy ran straight by her. Running her hand through her hair she couldn't do anything, ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ She asked herself. ‘You froze you fucking idiot, what the fuck is wrong with you? You could have taken him down.’

Two officers ran straight past her and caught the guy a little further down the street, taking him down to the ground and handcuffing him. She could have done that, she'd done it a hundred times or more, she wouldn't have even had to chase him he was in arms reach, she should have been the one to do it. All she'd have had to do was reach out and she could have grabbed him but she was frozen to the spot and she could feel her hands shaking, she shook her head, it wasn't just her hands that were shaking, then she realised that she was in trouble, if she couldn't do something that seemed so simple, something she'd done so many times how the hell would she ever get back to work? She'd been through worse hadn't she at the hands of Harry, ‘No,’ she thought, nothing he could ever have done to her was as bad as what she'd seen happen a few short hours ago. She knew she should turn around and go home, she couldn't be any use to anyone when she couldn't pull herself together. She couldn't, something made her look at the apartment building that was up ahead and she could make out a female standing on the pavement, she couldn't make out who it was but then she noticed she was wearing hospital scrubs, the same thing she'd been surrounded by hours before and her thoughts turned back to the nurse who had stitched her arm up, tried to talk to her and Bea just wanted to help if she could. Walking further down the street she was surprised a little at first when the nurse turned round, it was her, it was Allie.

“Why are you hanging around out here Bea?” Jake the officer who had called for backup asked her. “I heard you and Fletch were on compassionate leave, man that must have been a tough thing to see.”

“I heard your call, I don't live far.” Bea glared at him, Jake Stewart wasn't the best officer, she certainly wouldn't want to be caught up in a tough situation with him and he reminded her of Harry, it wouldn't surprise her in the slightest if he ended up the same way.

“Been told to make sure ya stay away from here, guess ya left the scanner behind when ya left the house. Collins said ya’d never stay away but ya need to go home.” Jake stated in a blunt tone.

“You gonna make me? I heard your call, ya needed help, and compassionate leave is just a load of shit and we all know that. I'm still a cop, you don't have any authority over me, just try and make me leave.” She half yelled at him as she tried to keep her cool, she didn't have a choice but she would love to slap the smug look off his face, if he hadn't been in uniform she would have she was certain of that. Jake had only been on the force for a little over 18 months and in a lot of ways he reminded Bea so much of Harry, the smug look he always seemed to have plastered on his face was a constant reminder of him and the way she'd heard him talk down to other female officers made her blood boil, if he wasn't on the job she'd have had no problem wiping that look off his face in a matter of seconds.

“It's fine, I know Bea, we’re good friends actually.” Allie spoke up, her voice came out soft and low.

“Alright, fine!” Jake huffed, “But ya keep outta this investigation Smith, you're on leave just remember that.” Jake walked away towards the other officers who were trying to get the guy they had caught into the back of their patrol car.

“You didn't have to do that.” Bea said as she walked closer to Allie.

“I know, just thought it would get that creep off your back.” Allie sighed as she looked back towards her apartment. “I don't know how I'm going to stay here after this.”

Jake kept his eyes on Bea as he was talking into his radio, “There were two guys, we got one.” Bea could feel his eyes burning into the back of her skull and she knew he was waiting on her to say or do something, he was testing her and she knew it. Bea turned her head to look at him, “What? You really think I'm going to go and look for the other guy? I know Allie, she shouldn't be here on her own after what just happened, you think I'm just gonna walk away and leave her here by herself?…Don't you have something better to do? Like making finding the other guy a priority he can't have gone that far.” Bea said angrily as she stared at him before turning her attention back to Allie.

 

Chapter Text

Allie stood looking at Bea without a word for a few seconds, she couldn't work out how she'd gotten there so fast she was clearly on foot and she was sure that even she couldn't run that fast but she was thankful she was there, she didn't like the cop who'd spoken to Bea, something was off with him and she couldn't quite put her finger on what it was. The two officers who caught one of the guys had left after struggling to get him in their patrol car and officer Stewart had told her that he and his partner were going to make it their mornings mission to find the guy who had gotten away. Watching Stewart and Collins get into their car Bea turned her attention back to Allie.

“Are you alright?” Bea asked her before swallowing hard when her eyes met the same blue eyes that she'd struggled to tare her eyes away from the previous night.

Allie could see the concern in Beas eyes even though she knew she was having a hard time with her own emotions after what she had been involved with. “I'm good, not gonna lie it's shaken me up a lot but I'm good. Sorry about that, saying we were friends, he looked like he was gonna sit ya in the back of his car I just wanted to help ya out.”

“Honestly it's fine, I don't mind…I'll stay if you want me to…I mean what are friends for?” Bea could feel her face getting hot and she knew she was blushing, there was something about Allie, something that made her want to protect her and she had no idea what it was, all she knew was that she wanted to help her and needed to reassure her that if she needed her she wasn't going anywhere, Debbie was home in bed and Liz was there, Allie seemed to have no one.

“I'd like that…as long as you really don't mind.” Allie looked away for a moment and sighed a deep sigh, “I don't even know what I'm going to do now, they took every penny I had saved up, I know stupid for not leaving it in the bank, I can't pay my rent or anything now, they took it all.” Allies voice cracked a little, she shrugged and shook her head, she didn't want Bea to see her like this, she'd been so confident when she first met her in the emergency department, she didn't want her to see her fall apart now.

“Hey!” Bea took a step closer, “Don't worry about all that now, we’ll figure it all out, nothing's ever impossible to work out.”

Allie looked back at her apartment, she'd tried so hard to do everything by herself, she'd even kept Kaz at a distance when it came to the apartment she wanted to rent and the job she most wanted to apply for, she knew she could be stubborn and she saw the same stubbornness in Bea but here she was offering to help her. They'd met on one of the worse nights she thought Bea had probably ever had and she didn't seem to want to walk away, the number of people Allie had ever had in her life that had wanted to stick around and help her she knew she count on one hand, now was not the time to let her stubborn streak win out, she wanted to get to know Bea better, she'd thought she'd probably never see her again but here she was and right here was where Allie wanted her to stay.

“What he said…about you being on leave…how are you even here?” Allie wanted to change the subject, really didn't have the energy to think or talk about her problems right now.

“Yeah he was telling the truth, my boss, Vera, called me not long after I got home, said the decision was out of her hands but I doubt that. So yeah, for right now I'm meant to be on compassionate leave.” Bea rolled her eyes, “She said I need time for myself.” She shrugged as she watched Allie start to walk in the direction of her apartment deciding that she should follow her. She hung back a little as she watched her open the door and step inside.

“Ya gonna stand there or are ya coming in?” Allie asked with a cheeky grin.

Bea nodded and followed her inside glancing around quickly.

“You know I think that's a good idea, you do need time to deal with everything that happened yesterday.” Allie had thought that since she first met her but Bea hadn't wanted to talk about it and she hadn't wanted to push her. She walked through to the kitchen with Bea following close behind.

“I don't know, maybe it is maybe it isn't…not sure how my daughters going to react when she sees this.” Bea pointed at her arm, “Can I tell you something?”

“Sure I'm all ears.” Allie wasn't going to stop her from talking if she really wanted to, she'd freely admit that in between patients she'd worried about her all night. She didn't have any experience in dealing with people who'd witnessed what Bea had but she was willing to listen and if it helped her it was only fair Bea seemed more than willing to help her.

“When I saw that guy running towards me I froze. He ran right past me and I froze, he was so close that I could have grabbed him and I couldn't fucking move. What does that say about me? What kind of cop does that make me?” Bea asked, she wanted Allies opinion, sure she could tell all this to Franky but she already knew what her response would be. Franky would tell her the truth, or at least Franky’s version of the truth which she knew sometimes was just what Franky knew Bea needed to hear, but she didn't want that, she needed someone's honest answer, someone who didn't know what she'd lived with in the past.

“I think you already know the answer to that, you know you need sometime away from the job, time to put your thoughts and emotions in order…you can't expect to just jump straight back in after that. You want me to carry on?” Allie asked as their eyes met again, Bea just nodded it felt as if all the air in the room had just evaporated and she couldn't breath. “You're afraid, afraid that what happened last night could easily happen again, you doubt that you made the right call, you saw good officers die and another get taken to hospital. When that guy was running right at you you froze sure, but you didn't know what he could do, if he had a weapon or not and you froze, there's nothing to be ashamed of.” The words just spilled out of Allies mouth before she had even thought about what she was saying. Quickly turning around she grabbed a beer from the fridge, turning back quickly Bea looked like she'd just been punched in the guts as she took the offered bottle from her hand.

“Sorry, that wasn't meant to sound so harsh.” Allie whispered not sure she wanted to look her in the eye again.

“Don't be sorry, Franky will most likely tell me what she thinks I want to hear I'd rather you tell me how you see it. It's just not like me, I've never frozen like that…last night, I didn't freeze, just didn't have a clear shot.” Bea shook her head and looked down at the counter in front of her, “The guy, he'd grabbed a passer by, kept moving, if I'd have taken a shot I could have killed an innocent woman who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time…I couldn't have lived with that, so I waited, if he'd just not grabbed her, or stopped moving…but that's all it is what ifs, I can't change what happens but fuck I wish I could.”

Allie could see that Bea was struggling with it, fighting what her head was telling her, of course she was trying to play it down because she knew in her heart that she had done the right thing and there was nothing she could have done to change what had happened.

“How did you even know what was happening here?” Allie asked throwing Bea a dazzling smile as she leaned against the counter.

“You ever met a cop who doesn't have a scanner?” Bea grinned back.

Allie shrugged, “Only cops I've ever met were the ones arresting me or dragging me off to rehab…maybe that's too much information right now, I'm honestly not a bad person, just…circumstances ya know, maybe I'll tell you about it one day…that's if ya wanna stick around.”

“Why wouldn't I?” Bea asked as she looked around the kitchen, the place was a mess, there was food all over the floor and counter tops, looking through to the living room the pictures that had been hung on the walls were on the floor and broken, cleaning up was going to take some time and looking back at Allie she could tell that she really didn't want to tackle it right then.

“So you heard what was going down over the scanner?” Allie laughed, “But how did you get here so fast?”

“Yeah, couldn't sleep…I sat with Deb for a while watching her sleep…sat in the living room in the dark till I heard the call for backup, I don't live that far from here.” Be shrugged, “I just ran over here, and…well you know the rest.”

Allie nodded, “I do…I should let you get home to Debbie, you have someone at home who needs you…wait, who looks after her when you're working? I mean you aren't gonna leave her alone?”

“No, no…Liz takes care of her.”

“Oh! She must love you both a lot.” Bea noticed the look of disappointment that suddenly washed over her face.

“It…it’s not what you think.” Bea blurted out, “We live with Liz sure, she took us in a long time ago after…well, that doesn't matter now, Liz is like another mum to me…guess I just never thought about moving out not that Liz would want us to…I've know Liz for years, she's just always been there for both of us.”

“Sorry I shouldn't jump to conclusions.” Allie sadly smiled, ‘Idiot…idiot…idiot why do you always jump to conclusions?” She thought to herself.

“You look like you could use some sleep.” Bea looked around again, she couldn't leave her here alone not knowing if the other guy had been caught yet. “You could come home with me.” Bea suggested, “You don't have to obviously but I'd rather know you're safe.”

“I wouldn't want to get in the way.”

“You wouldn't be, we have a spare room and Liz wouldn't mind, Liz would probably send me back over to get you if I go home and tell her about all this.”

Allie looked at Bea seeing nothing but sincerity in her eyes, and she was really getting hooked on those eyes, the longer she was able to look into them the more she wanted to look into them.

“Okay…but only if you're sure.”

Bea smiled, “I am, get some things together I'll wait right here.”

 

 

Bea walked through the front door the smell of fresh coffee already hanging in the air as Allie hesitated behind her, it had felt like a good idea when she agreed to go home with Bea, and she was certain that if she'd have asked her to follow her to the ends of the earth she most probably would have if it meant being able to spend more time with her but now she was here it felt wrong and she was just about to make an excuse to leave when Bea turned around.

“Liz won't bite ya know.” Bea chuckled, “And I don't think I'll last much longer without coffee.”

“I…I…maybe I should just go back to my apartment, I mean…it's not like you know me not really.” Allie said quietly unable to look at Bea.

Liz walked out of the kitchen when she heard voices in the hall. “That you Bea?”

“Yeah…can ya please come here and tell Allie that you really don't mind her crashing here for a few hours?”

Allie glanced at Bea before noticing Liz walking towards them. “Any friend of Beas will always be welcome here love, don't stand out there come in.” Liz smiled.

“I don't want to be in the way.” Allie said quietly.

“Nonsense, Franky’s always over here and trust me she really can get under your feet.” Liz laughed.

Liz was so friendly that Allie soon forgot how nervous she had been feeling and stepped through the door closing it behind herself and following them both into the kitchen. Liz was worried about Bea, Franky had called her already that morning when she'd been unable to reach Bea, all either of them knew was that she'd left the house and that wasn't like Bea, apart from going to work and the odd night out with Franky and Boomer Bea never ventured too far from home unless Debbie was with her. It was puzzling to Liz that she'd brought someone home with her, she couldn't remember her ever mentioning Allie before but she wasn't going to pry, if Bea wanted to tell her what was going on she would in her own time.

“Breakfast?” Liz asked as she looked between the two of them.

“Just coffee for me.” Bea answered straight away, “Allie?”

“Coffees fine, I'm not really hungry after everything that's happened…guess I'm too tired to eat really.”

Liz noticed in an instant how at ease Bea was with Allie as they both sat down chatting and drinking their coffee, Liz was more observant than most people ever gave her credit for and she saw the way Allie looked at Bea, “Show your friend where everything is Bea and I'll take Debbie out with me when she wakes up, you both look like you could sleep for a week.”

“Only a week?” Bea joked.

 

 

Waking up a few hours later Bea glancing at the time before she noticed that the house sounded eerily silent, it was Saturday afternoon and that was unnatural, like the dawn devoid of birdsong, even when Debbie was downstairs with Liz she could hear her chatting away or playing, if she couldn't she could usually rely on hearing the sound of the television. Getting out of bed she went to the top of the stairs, still nothing, silence felt as if it were gnawing on her insides, it hung in the air like a suspended moment before a glass fell and shattered on the floor, it was a gaping void that needed to be filled with sounds, words, anything but the silence. She spun around when she heard a door open then close at the end of the hallway.

“Allie!” She gasped.

“Sorry…didn't mean to scare ya.”

“Y…you didn't, I…it's just too quiet.”

Allie followed Bea downstairs a couple of minutes later, “Where did Liz go?” She asked expecting to run into a five year old more than Liz.

“She left a note they've gone over to the salon Maxi had a problem.”

Allie looked confused as she sat down watching every move Bea made as she moved round the kitchen.

“What?” Bea asked as she looked at Allie.

“Salon?”

“Long story short Liz used to own a salon, she sold it to her friend Maxine but if Maxi needs her she goes in to help her out.” Bea shrugged.

“You're lucky to have someone like Liz.”

“You must have a family, friends who are there for you.” Bea placed a mug of coffee down in front of Allie before sitting opposite her.

“Not really.” Allie looked down at the mug in front of her, if she told Bea the truth she was sure she wouldn't want her around. “My dad left when I was like five, mum died when I was seventeen and I lived with my grandparents but I messed up and I haven't seen them for a few years…Guess I only really have one person I call a friend, haven't been at the hospital long enough to say I have real friends there.” She shrugged and sighed.

“I'm here…I mean I know we didn't exactly meet under the best circumstances but I'm still here, how about you hang out here for a little longer?” Bea smiled when Allie finally looked up.

“I need to go clean up my apartment.” Allie laughed a little, “I was meant to be organising my bedroom not the whole place.”

“You want some help cleaning up the mess?” Bea asked, she wasn't keen on spending time alone and she was sure that Allie wasn't looking forward to going home alone.

“I can't ask you to help with that.”

“You aren't, I'm offering…how can you be so calm about what happened? Someone broke into your apartment, they stole from you, invaded your privacy and trashed the place from what I saw.”

Allie shrugged, she didn't feel calm, if she felt able to be honest with Bea she'd be able to tell her how scared she was about leaving, about being alone. The thought made her feel as if she couldn't breath, like someone was choking her, her heart raced and all she really wanted to do was curl up in a ball in a dark corner. She'd never liked being alone and she knew that was mainly from all the times her mum left her alone, once that same fear found her it spoke to her, told her she was weak. Her grandfather used to tell her that there was nothing to fear but fear itself but still when she couldn't silence the voice in her head it would always play havoc with her whole body.

“I've been through worse and I'm still here, haven't always had a place to call home so I guess I'll just have to get over it…I might not look like it but I'm pretty tough.”

 

 

Walking back to Allies apartment neither of them said a word until they were standing in her kitchen again, Bea couldn't help but think that it looked even worse in daylight.

“Have you always lived in Melbourne?” Bea asked as she began sweeping the floor, even for burglars they had left a bigger mess than she usually saw when she'd been on shift and had been called out to a burglary.

Allie froze for a second as she started clearing the mess up that was left on the countertop, she couldn't believe that she had walked in on them before they were finished turning the place upside down, ‘why me?’ She'd asked herself the second they had run run out of the door and then it had hit her, they hadn't broken in, she lived on the ground floor, there were no broken windows and she knew that she'd not left one open by mistake.

“Yeah, lived over in Campbellfield with my mum after my dad left we didn't have much and it wasn't the best neighbourhood, ended up in Albert Park when I moved in with my grandparents.” Allie sighed, maybe she should pay them a visit she thought, maybe she could ask Bea to go with her, she had thought about asking Kaz but she doubted that she would have the time.

“How long have you been in the police?” Allie asked in return, she guessed that she must have joined straight after leaving high school but didn't want to jump to conclusions.

“Six years I guess so I'm not a newbie and I'm not an old timer like Fletch.” Bea chuckled as she lent the brush against the wall when her arm started throbbing.

“You ok? You don't have to help if your arm hurts, sorry I forgot about it.”

“I want to help, I'd rather be here helping you than sitting at home alone with my thoughts, if anyone needs me I've got my phone.” She pulled it out of her pocket and put it on the counter before they finished cleaning the kitchen and moved onto the living room.

Nothing Allie did had gone unnoticed by Bea not even the way she froze when she'd asked her about where she lived, something else was on her mind other than the obvious but she wasn't going to say anything, ask any awkward questions, everyone had things in their past that they didn't want to talk about and Bea knew more than most people what that felt like. Her arm hurt but she wasn't going to stop, Allie was never getting the place cleaned up by herself by the end of the day.

Allie turned around and looked at Bea, “I think you should take Bridget's advice and talk to someone.”

“I thought I was, you.” Bea laughed, “That's a start isn't it? I mean I usually end up telling Franky but not until she's backed me into a bloody corner.”

“You've know Franky a long time?” Allie wasn't really interested in talking about Franky but wanted to get to know Bea better and if that meant talking about Franky so be it.

“Yeah we met at the AFP college, she was a pain in the ass back then too.”

“I'll bet! I mean it though, you should talk to someone professional, you've been through a lot.” Allie looked seriously at her while she laughed a little. Her laugh was so carefree Bea thought and she couldn't stop herself from laughing with her, it was contagious, even though she was being serious and her last statement hadn't been funny it was better to laugh than cry.

“Seriously I think I'll get enough with the police psychologist, standard practice before I get to go back to active duty.” Bea pointed out.

“Okay…soooo…maybe you could come to a yoga class with me? Always makes me feel better.”

“Yoga?” Bea frowned, “I'll do you a deal, I'll try yoga but you have to come and train with me at the gym.”

Allie scrunched her face up, she'd tried the gym and hated it, yoga was about her limit but then again if it meant she got to spend more time with Bea she'd give it another go, what was the worst that could happen?

“You got yourself a deal, we can work something out next week.” Allie flopped down on the sofa, “But right now I think you need a break…nurses orders.”

Bea sat down next to Allie, it was strange that she felt so comfortable being with Allie, she was easy to talk to and made her laugh, she was also pretty sure that Allie had no idea what she'd just agreed to not that Bea was convinced she'd enjoy yoga but she had nothing else to do so why not try something new? She couldn't keep blaming herself for what happened, she hadn't been the one to kill anyone, as far as she knew the guy she shot hadn't died, for the most part though what had happened after the first shot had rung out was still a blur, how could she talk about things she couldn't remember clearly she wondered to herself.

“Can I ask you something?” Bea turned her head to look at Allie who just nodded at her. “How come you lived with your grandparents?”

“Mum died, told you that already…drug overdose…I…I had no one else.” Allie looked away sure that Bea would hate her if she told her the whole story.

“I'm sorry…I shouldn't have asked, just tell me to piss off if I'm being too nosey.”

“It's fine.” Allie turned her head back to look at her and flashed her her best smile. It wasn't fine, Bea could see that when her smile didn't quite reach her eyes.

“I shouldn't have asked.” Bea shook her head. “I don't know what to say.”

“There's nothing to say, mum was in a bad place and almost took me down with her, I was a mess myself at the time…still here though aren't l?”

“You are and I'm glad you are…for what it's worth I think you're a strong person.”

“Maybe, I don't always feel strong…I try not to think about it…I don't know, it was a bad time in my life, maybe I just block it out.”

“Yeah, I know how that goes.” Bea didn't know what else to say to her, couldn't quite find the words to make her feel better. Pausing for a few seconds she laughed, “So did you end up seeing a shrink, I mean you seem to think I need one?”

“No…I was a mess, then one day I guess you could say that I found an angel in my darkest hour. I was lucky…now I work in the same place where I found that angel.”

“So, are we done?” Bea asked, Allie looked tired and her arm hurt.

“I guess for now we are, if I need anymore help I know where you live.” Allie laughed.

“You do, although I can't guarantee that if you come looking for me you might not run into Debbie or worse still Franky.”

“Yeah well, I'm sure I can handle Franky…a five year old I'm not so sure about.”

“I'm sure you'd do just fine.” Bea grinned at her before grabbing her jacket and pulling one of her contact cards from one pocket and a pen from another scribbling down her phone number and passing it to Allie. “Just in case you need anything, and I mean anything.”

“You might regret saying that.” Allie laughed.

 

Chapter Text

Three nights later Bea was laying in bed, earlier in the day she'd received a phone call from Vera asking her to go into the station, sitting outside her office waiting to be called in all kinds of scenarios went through her head along with the images from that night outside the crown casino. She had been slightly relieved the previous day when Franky had stopped by after her shift to let her know that Linda Miles was recovering well after her surgery and that the woman who had been held at gun point hadn't been badly hurt, the second Bea had seen her fall to the round the only thing she could assume was that she'd been shot and the sense of relief she felt after Franky’s visit was high.

Seeing Fletch walk out of Vera's office she hadn't quite known what to feel or think, his expression was unreadable as he'd nodded his head in her direction before leaving the station. The meeting with Vera wasn't what she was expecting, although now laying in the darkness of her room she wasn't sure any longer what it was she had been expecting. Vera was pleasant and happy to see her, letting her know that she was speaking to all the officers involved just for an informal chat before they would be called in formally to give their statements about the incident. Vera had been greatly concerned about Bea but since that night hadn't had time to check in with her, not that she was in the habit of checking in with any of the officers when they were on leave but Bea wasn't just any officer, she went out of her way to help out her fellow officers even when that had meant leaving the station an hour or more late.

Laying in the darkness Bea wondered how Allie was doing after the break in, she hadn't heard from her, not that really she'd expected to, Allie would be back at work and she had no clue what shift she was working. She hadn't even thought to ask when she left to go home on Saturday and she didn't have her number so she couldn't call her. ‘Why the fuck are you even thinking about it?’ She mumbled to herself as she turned over to face the window. ‘She was just being nice to you because you helped her out,’ she thought, no one ever paid Bea much attention and she couldn't think that Allie was any different. Closing her eyes she wondered if Allie had really meant what she said about her joining her at a yoga class, it wasn't something she'd ever thought about doing and was certain that if Franky found out she'd tired it out she'd make fun of her for weeks, probably months, not that she expected to find out anytime soon. They generally trained together at the gym just as they always had since becoming friends at the AFP college, back then Franky had been much more competitive and that had always pushed Bea to work harder and for longer. These days she didn't push Bea so hard although Bea was sure most of the time that was because Franky struggled to keep up with her, or maybe she knew that trying to was just a waste of time.

Allie had been thinking about Bea all the way through her shift that afternoon and had wondered if she should really call her. She'd been to her monthly outpatient appointment that morning before her afternoon shift at the hospital but hadn't stayed like she usually did for the yoga class. Since starting work at the hospital she'd found a gym close to her apartment that ran yoga classes and found she preferred to go there twice a week, skipping the class after her appointment wasn't such a big deal to her and her outpatient appointments were going to be reduced to every three months so to her it made more sense anyway.

Allie got into bed and picked up her phone from the bedside cabinet, opening her contacts she clicked on Beas name and stared at it for a few seconds, it wasn't really late but she didn't want to disturb her. Placing her phone back down she turned the lamp off and lay back, her head sinking into her cool pillow, ‘call her in the morning you idiot.’ She sighed to herself as she closed her eyes but sleep just wouldn't come easily that night. The fear she'd seen in Beas eyes at the hospital played on her mind, behind the earthy hues of her brown eyes she was sure she could see right to her soul, they held the kind of beauty that expands every second she had looked into them, an eternity she wanted to get lost in, a heaven that she could only ever dream of being part of. Those eyes would forever be remembered weather she ever saw Bea again or not, like the seasons she thought they held a little bit of everything. Quickly sitting up again she reached for her phone, ‘Fuck it!’ She said out loud, tomorrow morning was too far away and she couldn't wait that long.

As Bea lay in the darkness, tossing and turning, why the hell could she not keep her thoughts from returning to Allie? It had to be just because she was concerned about her didn't it? It didn't matter why, someone like Allie would never even consider wanting someone like her as a friend. Bea had never really cared if she had a lot of friends, she'd never needed them with the exception of Franky and Liz she had always managed to keep other people at a distance, even Boomer and Maxine found it hard to get to know her and they were both quite persistent. Turning over to lay on her back for what felt like the hundredth time already she found herself wondering if her life would have really been all that different if she'd never met Harry, or if he'd actually been a decent person, she sighed, Harry hadn't even come close to being a half decent cop and loved to push all his short comings onto her even though she had always known that she was better at the job than he ever could be. The only decent thing he'd ever done was leave her with Debbie and even though she found raising her alone hard she wouldn't ever want to change having her. Liz did everything for the both of them that it was possible for one person to do, but sometimes when she saw how happy some of her colleagues were she wondered what it would be like to have someone else to come home to, someone other than Debbie to truly love. ‘No!’ She said to herself, that was something she would never have because there was no way she was ever going to trust anyone enough to let them get close to her or Debbie. Sometimes when she'd take Debbie out for the day, just the two of them, she'd see the sad look on her daughters face when she saw other children that had two parents to pay attention to them, so maybe she spoilt her a little too much sometimes, she couldn't love her anymore than she did could she? Her phone suddenly ringing made her jump and she looked around in the darkness until her eyes landed on her phone. Reaching out for it she quickly answered it after seeing an unknown number.

“Who is this?” Bea snapped.

“S…sorry Bea, I didn't mean to wake you.”

“Allie?…Is everything alright?” Bea satup ready to jump out of bed any second if something was wrong.

“Yeah, sorry I should have waited until the morning to call ya, sorry.”

“Hey, I wasn't asleep, are you okay?”

“Yeah…just couldn't sleep…I wondered what you were doing in the morning but it doesn't matter.”

“It must if ya called…after I drop Debs off at preschool I have nothing to do, you have no idea how boring being home all day really is.” Bea laughed a little nervously.

“Oh, so do ya still want to come to a yoga class with me?”

“Why not?” Bea shrugged before remembering that Allie couldn't actually see her. “What time and where? Or…well I…I could pick you up…if you want me to.”

“I'd like that…just come over after you drop Debbie off.”

Neither of them got much sleep that night, Bea because she knew if Franky heard about this she would never stop asking questions and throwing in every single inappropriate comment she possibly could and also because she was a little more nervous about seeing Allie again than she thought she needed to be, after all they'd spent almost a whole day together. Allie couldn't sleep because she couldn't wait for the morning to arrive, she could have stayed awake all night just talking to Bea. She knew there was so much more than met the eye when it came to her, she seemed so closed off when she had appeared outside Allies apartment building a few nights ago but the more time they had spent together and the more they talked Bea did seem to become more comfortable around her and the more confident she sounded when Allie had asked her questions about her job.

 

 


Allie sat on the wall outside her apartment a coffee in both hands, glancing at her watch it was almost 0930 and she hoped that Bea wouldn't be much longer, she'd made a special trip to the coffee shop to get them both a coffee and she didn't want to hand over a stone cold coffee because she'd been overly eager that morning. Seeing Bea finally pull up she jumped off the wall,

“You sure you're ready for this?” She asked as she leaned into the car and passed Bea her coffee.

“I think so. Besides it'll be fun to put you through your paces in the gym…don't look so worried I won't bring Franky along your first time.” Bea laughed.

Getting in the car Allie frowned, “You better not, not sure I could handle her first thing in a morning.”

Telling Bea where she needed to head for Allie sat back in the passenger seat glancing over at her as she drove and trying not to make it look too obvious that she really didn't want to keep her eyes to herself. Pulling into the car park Bea cut the engine before turning to look at Allie.

“Now ya get to watch me make a fool of myself.” She grinned but Allie could still see the sadness in her eyes.

“I very much doubt that, it's all a matter of having confidence in yourself and it doesn't hurt that I find it quite relaxing.”

“I'll take your word for that until I've tried it…maybe after this we could get some lunch, if you don't have to work that is.”

“Actually I don't but that has its downside.” Allie sighed as she opened the door.

“How so?” Bea asked as she locked the car and followed Allie.

“My shifts this week are broken up, two days off now then I work the whole weekend.”

“Yeah…guess you're in luck then no Franky.” Bea chuckled. “Seriously though, talking to you has helped, probably more than you expect.” Bea confessed.

As they walked into yoga centre together Allie could see that it had been hard for Bea to admit that and she guessed that everything they had talked about the last time they were together had probably been more than she would usually say to anyone that she didn't know well.

“Don't look so worried.” Allie giggled, “There's nothing to it, I mean you look fit enough to me anyway, everything we practice is to align, strengthen and promote flexibility in your body and it integrates breathing and meditation techniques so it might be good for ya.”

“Hmmm…think I'll reserve judgement until later.” Bea shrugged her shoulders.

“I can deal with that, you can tell me what you think later.”

Allie was distracted, every glance to the side of her made her loose her concentration so much that only a few minutes into the class she lost her balance and almost fell causing Bea to laugh.

“I thought you said you do this twice a week.” Bea tried to hold in her laugh but it was proving impossible, it was the first time she'd seen Allie look even slightly flustered.

“I do.” Allie protested, “Maybe I'm still a little shook up from Saturday morning.” She mumbled not wanting everyone to hear her.

Bea accepted her explanation and carried on seemingly not even noticing that Allie was still struggling to concentrate on anything other than the woman who was right next to her, Bea in uniform was too much to look away from without a struggle but Allie thought that Bea in tight fitting sports gear might just be a little too much for her to handle. Bea was ready to call it a day before the end of the class and sat down on her mat watching Allie for a few moments as she breathed in deeply, it made sense why she found this relaxing although Bea herself still wasn't convinced that she'd let her persuade her to join her again.

“So, you said you'd tell me what you thought.” Allie said as they walked back to Beas car.

“I did didn't I? What can I say? Maybe I prefer my exercise a little more strenuous.” She chuckled as she watched Allies expression change to a frown.

“Yeah? I've always found it a great way to sweat my troubles away, I mean it's hard work but worth every breath, every stretch…I always feel super relaxed afterwards…so you won't be coming again?”

Bea opened her car door and slid into the drivers seat, “I didn't actually say that.”

“I think you haven't actually said that you would though.” Allie giggled, she didn't want to make Bea uncomfortable by being put on the spot when really it wouldn't matter if she chose not to go again, Allie had already discovered that she was way more of a distraction than she needed.

Be laughed before pulling out of the car park and glancing at Allie noticing the rather thoughtful expression she was now wearing. “What?…Spit it out already.”

“Not that I don't actually like your car because I do but…how can you afford this on a cops salary?”

“Guess I shouldn't be able to…it…its complicated…long story short?”

Allie smiled and nodded as she noticed the change in Bea, maybe she was pushing her a little too hard to talk about something she didn't want to talk about.

“I was married…he died.” Bea shrugged as she kept her eyes on the road.

“Sorry.” Allie mumbled, something told her there was way more to that side of Beas life but she wasn't going to ask anymore, if she wanted to talk about it she would in her own time.

“Don't be, I don't miss him…it might sound really awful but I'm glad he's dead, that Debbie doesn't remember him, well as far as I know she doesn't remember him, if she does she never talks about him…he…he wasn't very nice.”

Allie could see that she really didn't want to talk about it so didn't say anything else until they pulled up outside her apartment. “You want to come in or are you going home to get changed? Are we still on for lunch?”

“I have nothing else to do…but if you've changed your mind?”

Before Allie could answer Beas phone rang.

“Ya better have something with while to tell me Jake or I'm hanging up.” Bea snapped.

“Calm down already would ya.”

Allie was a little surprised that she could hear both sides of the conversation as she sat quietly in the passenger seat.

“Listen we aren't friends and I just want to know if ya did your job for fucks sake. The nurse who got burglarised is a friend so just tell me already.”

“No okay we haven't found him, but I've got a lead and I'm on it.”

“Yeah so why the fuck are ya calling me?”

“Just wanted to know how ya doin.”

“Like I said we aren't friends…do you even have a clue who the other guy was? Got a mug shot? I can keep my eyes open call ya if I see anything suspicious, happen to run into the guy.”

“Ya know ya can't do anything, Vera would have my ass if she thinks I'm passin anythin on to ya.” Jake said in a shaky voice that Bea was sure she'd ever heard from him.

“Do ya ever listen? I'm hardly going to do anything but if you know who it was at least send me a fucking picture. You seem to need some help catching him and don't ya think Allie deserves to know that we are doing everything we can to find him? I doubt she got a good look at him so if you know anything tell me.” Bea growled down the phone, Jake wasn't going to keep anything from her if she could help it.

Allie watched her as she spoke and was certain that Bea in cop mode was probably the sexiest thing she'd ever seen, turning her head to look out of the window she knew she shouldn't think that, she knew next to nothing about her but she was determined to change that no matter how long it took.

“Fine.” Jake sighed, “I'll send you a picture, his mate sung like a fucking canary anyway, just don't seem to be able to track him down. I mean it though, ya let me know if ya see him, if Vera finds out she'll have my badge for this.”

“Yeah, did he actually tell ya how they got in? I saw no forced entry.”

“Bea…yeah…I'll send ya the details, but Bea ya can't….”

“I'm just asking, I'm not going to do anything.” Bea wasn't going to promise anything, if she ran into him she wasn't even sure what she would do herself as she ended the call and turned back to Allie who was watching her again.

“What?” Bea grinned at her.

“Nothing…you don't even see it do ya? You seemed to forgot everything about Friday night just then…are ya always that adamant when ya want something?”

“Am I? Guess you'd have to ask Fletch or Franky.”

“Forget it, I should learn to keep some things to myself.” Allie sighed as she was getting out of the car. She'd seen that flash of hurt and sadness in Beas eyes again, she didn't want to be the one responsible for making her think about it, she would think about it when she was alone anyways and she didn't want to cause her anymore hurt.

“An hour.” Bea called after her stopping her in her tracks.

“Huh?”

“I'll be back in an hour…lunch?”

“Yeah, right, sorry…thought you might have changed your mind.” Allie smiled back at her before she took off.

 

 

 

Bea almost collided with Liz as she ran through the house, she hadn't given herself a great deal of time to have a shower, get dressed and get back to Allies, an hour might be enough if she was meeting Franky but Allie wasn't Franky, she was the complete opposite and even though Bea didn't quite know why she felt a need to protect her so much she didn't want to run away.

“Where's the fire?” Liz asked as she watched Bea disappear up the stairs with no response. Shaking her head Liz sat on the sofa and flicked on the tv, this was definitely unusual behaviour for Bea but it was better than anything she had expected after talking with Franky again. Bea hadn't said a word about the events of Friday night but Franky had told her everything she could about what had happened. Franky couldn't be there all the time, something she hated but they were officers down and she couldn't just ask for a few days leave to stick close to Bea ready for when she finally let her emotions take over. Liz was already prepared for an outpouring but it had been days and she seemed cheerful, maybe a little too cheerful Liz thought. Bea had said she was going to the gym after dropping Debbie off and that was unusual she had thought because she never went alone, if Franky wasn't tagging along she'd go for a run, she never ventured out to the gym alone. It was strange behaviour for sure but she wouldn't question her.

Bea stepped into the shower her mind in a spin, Jake would never normally call her out of the blue like that, actually Jake had only ever called her once and that was only because he need her help. He'd done as he promised and sent her the information that she'd asked for and the mug shot somehow seemed vaguely familiar but the name wasn't one she recognised. The water felt great as it trickled down her back, closing her eyes she couldn't remove that face from her mind, she was sure she'd seen him before but she couldn't remember where.

After pulling on jeans and a shirt and spending longer than she wanted to taming her hair she sat on her bed for a few minutes trying to remember where she knew that face from before she realised that she needed to get going.

Allie had a smile plastered on her lips from the second she walked through the door to her apartment, she had been sure that she'd fucked up just by mentioning Friday night until Bea had said she'd be back in an hour, she smiled so much that her cheeks hurt. After taking a shower she spent almost all of the remainder of the time she had left searching through the pile of clothes that she still hadn't put away for the perfect outfit, not that she'd ever really cared how she dressed much in the past and the choices she now had laid out on her bed weren't all that impressive. Finally deciding on the best pair of jeans she had and combining them with a simple white t shirt she looked at herself in the mirror and sighed making a mental note that she really had to do some serious clothes shopping as soon as she could afford to she quickly did her hair and makeup and was just about to leave her apartment when she heard a knock on the door.

‘Shit!’ She thought as she looked at her watch, either Bea was slightly early or it was someone she wasn't expecting and if that were the case she wasn't going to hang around making small talk with someone that she really had no interest in seeing. Bea knocked again thinking that maybe Allie hadn't heard her the first time and a few seconds later the door flew open. For half a second they both just stood there staring at each other, Allie found she couldn't do anything else except simply watch Bea, she was so sure that she really was the most beautiful woman in the whole world, but it was her eyes that right from the start had captivated her the most.

Bea cleared her throat, “You ready to go or should I wait in the car?” She asked absentmindedly as she quickly drug her eyes away from Allies.

“One minute.” Allie said quietly as she turned round to grab her keys, phone and bag.

Arriving at the cafe that Bea had told Allie was one of her favourite place because it was generally quiet at lunch time Allie smiled as they walked through the door, Bea was right there were only a couple of tables that were occupied and that suited her. Bea suddenly felt like they should have have gone somewhere else and as soon as they sat down she felt awkward, but it wasn't far from where either of them lived and she was going to try and pretend that she had chosen the place because it was convenient and not just because she enjoyed talking to Allie, she couldn't deny that every time they were together it felt a little easier and she could forget what was on her mind.

“I think I forgot to tell you something.” Bea looked away from the menu that she already knew by heart wondering what she was going to say next. “Friday night…you were so eager to leave the hospital…your stitches, I should have remembered.” Allie stumbled over her words.

“They need removing in a couple more days.” Bea smiled, “I told ya I wasn't knew to this game.” She raised her arm and laughed. “I'll have the practice nurse remove them, don't worry I know what I'm doing.”

“Sorry…I just thought…Bridget said you hadn't been shot before.”

“I haven't.” Bea snapped as she felt her defences shoot up once more but Allie needed an explanation not one of the usual outbursts she would have when she didn't like the line of questioning. “Didn't mean to snap at ya…I've had my fair share of…of accidents is all.”

Allie wanted to know what she kept hidden so well, it was so obvious that Bea was hiding something but she wasn't going to push her with more questions and returned her attention back to the menu she was holding in her hand. A few minutes later they had both decided on ordering the same thing and when the food arrived she was a little amazed by the size of the salad. It was mostly made up of crisp lettuce leaves tossed in a creamy cesar sauce served with the most amazing tasting buttery garlic bread that she had ever tasted. She knew that it was probably packed with more calories than her usual lunch time burger and fries when she was with friends but she didn't care, it was delicious and in no time at all they had both finished and Allies thoughts had turned to dessert.

“Still want to go to the gym with me tomorrow?” Bea asked as she walked Allie to the door of her apartment, “You don't have to obviously.”

“We did a deal didn't we? I can hardly say no now can I?”

“You could, I'm not gonna make ya do something you don't want to do.”

“Tomorrow yeah? I'll be waiting for ya.” Allie winked at Bea before disappearing into her apartment.

 

 

Chapter Text

Allie had quickly decided that the only advantage of going to the gym with Bea apart from being able to spend more time with her even if they weren't alone was being able to watch her, something that was quickly turning into her favourite pastime. It wouldn't matter in the slightest to Allie what she was doing if her eyes could seek her out and stay focused on her she may well agree to do anything Bea asked even if she suggested something that scared Allie half to death, as long as Bea was there she really didn't care.

Taking a drink from her water bottle Allie watched Bea as she stretched, ‘She's gonna be the death of me.’ She suddenly thought to herself not even noticing somehow that Bea had turned round and was looking straight at her.

“You going to stand there all day?” Bea asked a little bemused.

“What?…Ummm, no…sorry…just thinking.” Allie glanced down at the floor slightly embarrassed that she'd been caught staring.

“Come on then, this isn't yoga, a good warm up is essential so you limit the chances of getting an injury.”

“Yeah, yeah I know…remind me why I agreed to do this?”

“A deals a deal, I did a yoga class with ya didn't I? Now come on warming up isn't the hard part.” Bea grinned as she watched Allie, it was obvious that she really had no interest in being at the gym at all but it made Bea feel a little better, Franky would be pushing her almost as soon as they walked in, it was strange that Franky didn't seem to work as hard anymore but Bea never said that to her.

Beas training always consisted of squats and kettle bell lunges and Allie just couldn't see the point and even after Bea tried to point out that kettle bell training would teach her body to contend better with her constantly changing centre of gravity much better than yoga ever would Allie had still scoffed at the idea and just sat back and watched. When Bea invited her to join her at the treadmills Allie wasn't expecting it to be for ten rounds of interval sprints. Allie decided that there was nothing that could convince her to jog let alone run so she chose to walk at a steady pace so she could glance over at Bea at she alternated her levels of intensity.

“You could try a little harder.” Bea said as she slowed down for the seventh or eighth time, Allie had lost count.

“No thanks, nothing good ever comes from running.” Allie laughed, “Besides have ya never heard of a yoga body?”

Bea turned her head and looked at Allie with a raised eyebrow, “Is that what ya call it?”

“Hey!” Allie playfully punched Bea on the arm, “I do alright don't I? I mean seriously who wouldn't want all this?” She motioned up and down her body.

Bea shrugged as she started to run again, ‘Why the hell would she ask me that?’ Bea wondered before quickly putting the thought to the back of her mind.

Finding Allie sitting down again Bea wandered over to her.

“I didn't hear ya answer me.”

Bea frowned remembering what Allie had asked but she didn't have an answer, Franky would but this was putting Bea on the spot, asking her the kind of questions that only Franky ever asked in jest.

“So do I take your silence as meaning ya wouldn't want to pick me up and carry me away with ya?” Allie giggled.

Bea frowned. “I don't know about that but I think I would love to be carried all the way home right now.”

“Didn't I say nothing good ever comes from running?” Allie giggled.

 

 

After dropping Debbie off at school the next morning and returning to an empty house Bea had received a call from Vera informing her that she had to attend an appointment with the police psychologist, even though she knew that this was standard procedure it didn't stop her from worrying about it. Talking to Allie helped she was very aware of that but she didn't question her or try to make her talk about what happened, if Bea chose to share anything with her she would listen without judgement she knew that but Bea hadn't wanted to talk about it, choosing to push it all out of her thoughts and occupy her time doing anything that kept it out of her mind had been fine until now, she was going to have to face it head on and she worried that the psychologist wouldn't say she was fit for duty. All she wanted to do was go back to work, she hated sitting around the house all day, something else she knew Allie had helped her with, as much as Bea hadn't really wanted to go to a yoga class it had given her something to look forward to, got her out of the house and the company hadn't been bad either.

A knock on the door got her attention a couple of minutes later, finding Allie standing there wasn't who she had expected, Franky had the habit of turning up unannounced but she hadn't expected it of Allie.

“I should have called but I didn't want to give you a chance to say no.” Allie said with a grin.

“Say no to what exactly?” Bea asked as she stepped out of the way allowing Allie to walk past her.

“Thought we could go for a coffee, I know ya have nothing better to do and I have the rest of my morning free.”

“Yeah…you're right but…I mean why go out if ya don't need to? I'm quite capable of making coffee and I'm sure I saw Liz with doughnuts earlier.” Bea laughed.

“I thought it was a lie about cops and doughnuts.” Allie giggled, “Especially in your case, you look like you've never eaten a doughnut in your life.”

“Are you saying I'm skinny?” Beas face suddenly became serious.

“Not what I said…remember I saw you work out in the gym, guess I just mean, hmmm…well ya kinda strike me as health freak.”

“Trust me I'm not, so coffee yes or no?”

“I guess so, didn't really feel like walking anymore anyway.”

Bea busied herself making coffee but she was still distracted, she worried about what the psychologist would ask and she didn't know how she was going to answer questions about how she was feeling. Sitting opposite Allie after passing her a coffee she was still deep in thought. Allie watched her silently for a few minutes not sure if she should speak especially since this kind of silence would usually put her on edge, she learnt a long time ago when she was younger living with her mum that silence spelt trouble but this was different and it was Bea sitting in front of her not her mum who could so easily snap at any second. The pensive expression Bea had been wearing soon turned to a frown before Allie decided that she had to say something.

“You're awfully quiet, penny for your thoughts?”

“Sorry…I…I had a phone call before you arrived.” Bea paused, she wanted to tell someone, wanted someone to tell her that everything was going to work out but she couldn't see how it would at least not quickly. “Vera called, I have to see the police psychologist this afternoon…I'm just…I don't like talking you know that…and I…well I haven't told anyone about what happened last week.” Bea looked across at Allie for the first time since she'd taken a seat. “I'm not even sure I know what happened, what if they say I'm not fit to return to duty? What if I sound like a crazy person?”

“You can tell me, no pressure…I'm here if you need me, even if it's the middle of the night.” Allie smiled.

“Now you sound crazy and you have to go to work.”

“I do but that doesn't mean I don't want to listen.”

Bea turned her head and looked out of the kitchen window, if she could get everything straight in her head she knew without a doubt that there was no reason for her not to be able to return to the job she loved. Before turning her attention back to Allie she pushed her chair back and stood up, “You sure you wanna hear this?” She looked sadly at Allie who just nodded her head and followed her through to the living room, taking a seat beside her on the sofa.

Bea sighed as she kept her eyes firmly fixed on the floor a few feet in front of her.

“Most people only see you as a uniform, they forget that we're human just like they are, forget that we have feelings, that we have families. I've rolled up on all kinds of crazy situations that you wouldn't believe and been screamed at, had guns pointed at me plenty of times and the thing is I don't roll up on those things already hating the people involved but that's not how a lot of them see it. I've seen people shot before, had to shoot myself, used my taser more times than I care to remember, I've seen other officers involved in things like what we were caught up in and not known what to say to them, one guy, he'd only been in the job a little over a year, he had no choice but to shoot, he withdrew so much from his life and his family after that his wife left him and took their daughter with her he never could recover from what he'd had to do, what he lost.” Bea stopped, thinking about how any of what she was saying could possibly make any sense to Allie, she was on the other side of it, she saw the injuries after the fact.

“That's not how you are though.” Allie said softly.

“Aren't I? Have I spoken about it? Told you anything?” Bea turned her head to look at Allie seeing the same look in her eyes that she'd seen that night at the hospital. “The only thing that really separates us from the rest of the emergency services is the gun, we're the only none military service that are mandated to carry a firearm as part of our equipment. We're charged with that responsibility, we have to use our own judgement when we're faced with a situation that needs a split second decision in the line of duty. Most people have a preconceived idea of us, they think that what they see on any typical cop show on tv is how we are, that we don't think about what we're doing, that on a regular basis we fire off multiple rounds and never give it a second thought. If they knew the reality I doubt they'd believe it, having to draw your weapon is one thing, the reality of having to fire it no matter who you are has a profound effect on you, it leaves you scared, leaves psychological traces that no one can see, it can be so traumatic to some that it can end careers.”

“I won't pretend to understand what that must be like…I couldn't if I tried and I wouldn't insult you by trying to pretend that I do.”

“You really are something else you know that?” Bea smiled, “That day really started out like any other, well…we don't have to attend a fatal car accident everyday so that's not entirely true. Serving restraining orders is a day to day thing and so is trying to find people who are being recalled to prison. We knew there was an armed gang committing robberies and we were checking round the three casino’s that were in our patrol area, nothing stood out until we got close to the crown casino and I spotted a black van, it looked out of place for the time of day. I'll spare you the boring details…it turned to shit before I even registered what was happening, the guy I shot he'd grabbed a member of the public and I couldn't do anything except wait it out, but it didn't feel like waiting…I froze, I fucking froze just like I did outside your apartment. I heard the sirens, heard the other officers yelling and I stayed focused on him. I…I just focused on him nothing else I could do, when I saw the woman he'd been holding onto fall to the ground I thought she'd been shot, it was the first clear shot I had…I just…I never saw it coming any of it, all I remember after that are the screams. I hardly remember being taken to the hospital.”

“I would think that what you feel is normal, you were doing what you were trained to do, doesn't sound like you froze to me at all. You couldn't have taken that shot anytime before you did.”

“I guess…but…”

“Hey, all any of you were doing was what you were there for, no one could have seen what happened coming no matter how you try to make sense of it, I didn't get home expecting to find anyone in my apartment. I didn't expect to see you again either but there you were, what did bring you running over though?”

“I told ya, I was listening in.”

“Yeah you did but that wasn't what made you leave the house, what was it?”

“Stewart…that fucking little snake called for backup and it sounded like no one was in the area, obviously I missed the response to his call when I ran out of the house.”

“Okay, but why?” Allie pushed a little harder.

“Another officer sounded like he was in trouble, he needed help…even Jake.”

“Ya. Wanna know what I think?”

“Sure!” Bea sounded uncertain.

“I think if you can tell me all that you have all the answers you need really, and you know the reasons you reacted in the way you did and I don't just mean when you were faced with a gun pointed at ya, you'll be just fine. Take it slow, tell the psychologist everything, and I guess he's gonna ask more questions than I just did, it won't be easy but you'll be back at work in no time.” Allie smiled when she noticed Beas arm, “You didn't forget?” She said as she pointed at her arm.

“Told ya I would get the practice nurse to remove them didn't I?”

“You did, I still should have reminded you before I let you leave the hospital.” Allie glanced at the time knowing she really needed to leave to get ready for her shift. “I hate this but I need to get going, text me…let me know how it all goes?”

“Don't have your number.” Bea mumbled

“Sure ya do, I called you didn't I?”

 

 

Bea sat outside the psychologists office impatiently tapping her foot, she'd been sitting there for ten minutes already and time was dragging. Part of her wished she could have asked Allie to go with her but it wasn't an option, looking at her watch she suddenly wondered what time she had a break, whatever the outcome she would text her she already decided that. She didn't want to be here but if she'd refused it wouldn't have done any good it would only keep her away from work for longer than was necessary. Telling Allie bits and pieces had helped get her thoughts in order a little but she was still a little unsure that she could really remember any significant details. ‘You can get through this,’ she told herself as she heard the door to the office creek open. The psychologist she had to see introduced himself as Peter Clements as they both took a seat, Bea scanned the office quickly before turning her attention back to him. He seemed pleasant enough, most people only wore a smile but he seemed to be nothing but a smile, as far as Bea could tell he had to be in his 40s with brown hair the colour of aged mahogany with the subtle hues that only the passing of time brings. He didn't look like the type to have ever had a $60 hair cut, it looked to her as if someone had sat him down and taken a pair of kitchen scissors to it until he had been satisfied with his new look. His beard she noted looked better kept than his hair and she had to hold back a chuckle when the sudden thought of who he reminded her of popped into her head, he was the image of her uncle in the photographs she'd seen of him when he was younger. She frowned a little as she paid more attention to the way he was dressed, the suit he was wearing looked a lot shabbier than she expected from someone of his profession but maybe she thought that was just the way he was, maybe he didn't like being too showy and the centre of attention.

As he asked Bea questions her apprehension was written on her face for anyone who cared to look, her head was telling her no, to keep it all in and say only what she knew he really needed to hear but her heart was screaming yes, to let it all go, get it out in the open. Her thoughts returned to Allie for few moments, what would she say if she told her that she was a coward and didn't do what she was here to do? Allie had given her the courage to get herself here and she would fight to do what she needed to do. She'd never seen herself as brave even when Liz and Franky had continually told her she was but now she needed to be brave instead of being a puppet to the fear that she still held onto. She decided that she needed to make the right choice for herself, for Debbie and for everyone else she cared about and even though she didn't quite know why for Allie because she had given her more than she ever expected, she'd certainly given her her smile back.

As he asked more questions Bea noticed that a lot of the time he was glancing at his paperwork, scribbling down notes and only occasionally glancing up at her. She wondered if his actions were deliberate, if he could feel how uncomfortable she was, either way him looking away most of the time put her more at ease, made her feel less threatened as she answered all of his questions. She wouldn't say it out loud but she liked him, the way he waited for her to find the right words to express what she was feeling put her at ease and by the time he was through with the questions she was laughing with him and at him.

“I do this for a living so nothing, well, almost nothing I hear anymore will really shock me. What you're feeling is perfectly natural and honestly I've sat in this room with other officers who weren't as open and honest as you have been. I was lead to believe that you may not be this forthcoming and I was prepared for that.”

“I did kinda talk some of this through with someone before I got here.”

“You have support Bea that's a good thing, not everyone does and not everyone that does wants to talk about it. The sensory distortions you described are common, most common is tunnel vision that's what you experienced, you were focused on one thing in your field of vision and you blocked everything else out in your periphery. You feel like you froze but in truth that's not the case, what you experienced was a normal action reaction gap, you had to make a decision to shoot or not to shoot, you could see the suspect was clearly a threat to life but a member of the public was at greater risk and you recognised that. What you see as freezing was a normal brief evaluation period of the situation and that's a positive precaution to try and prevent the shooting of a citizen who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“So your saying I didn't freeze?”

He shook his head, “No Bea it just feels like that. A general neuropsychological explanation is a constriction of sensation, perception and memory, the brain naturally tries to tone down the hyperarousal that occurs during an incident like what you were involved in, without that reaction you wouldn't be able to function through the experience, so…” He thought for a moment, “Its your mental autopilot response if you like.”

“I would never have thought about it like that.” Bea laughed and it felt good to laugh.

“And I wouldn't expect you to…now you seem to have got through the period of post incident distress pretty easily, you said you had someone to talk to so that obviously helped your self coping efforts would that be a colleague or someone outside of work?”

Be smiled, she knew when she first met Allie she hadn't been very cooperative, no scrap that she'd just been stubborn like she always was and that hadn't scared her away. “This might sound totally ridiculous, I know sometimes I think it's crazy, the nurse who stitched me up found herself in a bad situation the morning after it happened, and well I found myself over at her apartment…we kind of help each other.”

“You have support it really doesn't matter who it is, I would say as long as you feel able to turn to someone when things aren't going great that's the main thing and hey doubt you'll ever go wrong having a nurse for a friend.” He chuckled, “You seem to me to have followed the text book case scenario, anyone who finds themselves in a situation like that will find that nature will send you into auto pilot so you concentrate on what you need to get done and live to see another day…look at it this way it's like the adrenaline acts as mental Novocain, it numbs you enough to let your survival instinct and training kick in, when it wears off you feel all the emotions as a delayed reaction. From what you've told me there was nothing unusual about your response, it was your judgement call and I don't know how it feels to be in that kind of situation, hopefully I'll never have to find out but for what it's worth it sounds like you did what you had to do. So…do you have any questions? Anything you think you need to add?”

Bea shook her head, she just wanted to know what he was going to say in his report.

“Okay then, well as you know this was a formal fitness for duty evaluation that's mandated by the police department, in some cases I would need a follow up appointment before I make my recommendation but you don't seem to be displaying any unusual signs or symptoms other than the residual distress that is normal for a few weeks so I'm going to recommend that you are fit to return to your full duties.”

Bea walked out of that office a smile so bright and she was sure she could feel the happiness growing inside of her, it was like a light from deep inside of her lit up her face and spread to every part of her body. Stopping to retrieve her phone from her pocket before getting into her car she sent Allie a text.

 

Thanks for talking to me earlier it made all the difference. The psych is recommending I return to full duties. Next time you want coffee I promise we can actually go out.

 

Throwing her phone on the passenger seat she took off towards home wondering if Fletch had seen the psychologist already, she hadn't heard from him and hadn't wanted to call him. Pulling into the drive a few minutes later her phone chimed indicating a text, she rolled her eyes expecting it to be Franky who would have no doubt have known that she'd had an appointment with the psychologist. Picking up her phone she smiled when she saw it was from Allie.

 

Told you you'd be back at work in no time didn't I? Next time I tell you something take notice a nurse knows best…You could always come to yoga with me tomorrow morning (don't roll your eyes at me Bea!) Just name the place and I'll be there, for coffee I mean.

 

Bea laughed to herself because of course she'd rolled her eyes as soon as she saw the word yoga.

 

Think I'll pass on the yoga this time.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

A little over a week had passed and Bea and Allie hadn't seen each other, they had agreed to meet up for coffee until Debbie had been sent home from preschool sick and Bea had refused to leave her even though Liz had tried to practically throw her out of the house. Bea had hovered close to Debbie's room almost night and day, she was always the same if she wasn't at work and not knowing when she was going back to work was only making everything seem worse. They had talked on the phone a few times and Bea had apologised each time they had talked even though Allie had said it didn't matter, that Bea had to put Debbie first but Bea felt guilty about letting her down and speaking to each other on the phone wasn't the same, Allies laugh she had thought didn't sound quite so carefree as when they were actually face to face.

Sitting on Debbie's bed that afternoon as she watched her sleep until she almost fell off when her phone started ringing, seeing the incoming call was from Vera she quickly answered.

“Please tell me this is good news because if you're delaying my return to duty…”

“Bea please.” Vera cut her off, “Both you and Fletch are expected back on Monday, unfortunately you're on night shift and Franky mentioned that Debbie was sick.”

“Yeah.” Bea sighed sadly into the phone, “But she seems to be getting a little better and I really need to get back to work, all this sitting around with nothing to do is driving me crazy.”

“You have nothing to do?” Vera asked a little surprised, “Am I speaking to the same Bea Smith who's been complaining that she hasn't had enough time to rebuild her bike?” Vera laughed.

“I'm still me…I just…well it didn't seem all that important somehow.”

“So you'll be complaining about not having the free time again I take it?” Vera chuckled.

“Maybe.” Bea sighed, “But I'll be glad to be back.”

Bea ended the call as quickly as she'd answered it when Debbie woke up rubbing her eyes and complaining that her nose was blocked as she sat up.

“Blow.” Bea held out a tissue to Debbie, she hated it when she was sick, every little cough or sniffle had always worried her and now was certainly no exception. Debbie blew her nose and handed the tissue back to Bea who threw it away before turning her attention back to the sad chocolate brown eyes that were looking back at her and Bea thought that her heart might melt into nothing more than a puddle in her chest.

“You'll be okay baby, I promise.” Bea ruffled her hair before giving her a light kiss on the forehead.

 

 

 

At 2100 on Monday Bea was sitting in her car looking towards the station, her usual routine on her commute from home just hadn't felt the same that day, she guessed it was because she'd been out for a little over two weeks and the thought of having to face her colleagues also had her anxiety levels running high. She'd spoken to Allie a couple of hours before she'd left the house and at the time she had felt a little better but now she was here she wasn't sure she really was ready to be back at work so soon, she left the house earlier than usual to give herself extra time incase she needed a little time before going in and she was glad that she'd decided to do it. Getting out of the car she sat on the bonnet when she heard another car pull up next to her, she didn't turn her head until she heard Fletch.

“Great minds aye?”

Bea nodded, “Not gonna be easy is it?”

“We'll get through it.” He got out of his car and joined Bea sitting on her car. “We’ve been through tough times before, those guys in there don't blame us ya know that right?”

“I guess and I'm ready to come back, better now than never yeah?”

“Yeah, now come on, we have to see Vera first anyway.”

Fletch knocked on Vera's office door as Bea hovered behind him, this was probably the thing she had been looking forward to the least, they may have been cleared to return to duty but that didn't mean that Vera would think they were both up to the job and she could still have them both behind a desk if she felt like it. Bea was ready to argue her case for being allowed to go out on patrol if she needed to though, there was no way she was spending the whole night stuck in the station and she was pretty certain that Fletch wouldn't want to be grounded either.

“It's good to see you both.” Vera smiled at them, “Take a seat please I won't keep you long, I expect it feels a little strange to be back but I can assure you that no one blames either of you for what happened out there.”

“Yeah…it does feel a little strange coming back.” Fletch nodded in agreement, “I can't speak for Fletch but I'm ready for this, my heads as clear as it ever was.” Bea did her best to smile but she was sure Vera wasn't really believing a word she was saying.

“Fletch? How are you feeling?” Vera asked.

“I just want to get back to what we do best.” He shrugged.

“Well I'm glad to hear that, you both look great by the way. I don't need either of you to attend the briefing I have an assignment that I think it's best you both handle.” Vera sighed and briefly looked though the paperwork that was in front of her on her desk as she shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Grabbing a file she pushed it across her desk.

“Jake Stewart was meant to be handling this apparently he called in with some half ass excuse about a sick relative.” Vera shook her head, “He said he'd be back in a day or two and as we all know that sounds highly unlikely since all his family live in Perth, besides I think since you already know the first victim Bea I'm sure you're much more able to handle this case.”

“First victim?” Bea looked back at Vera slightly perplexed.

“Allie Novak, the nurse who's apartment was burglarised, you though I wouldn't know about you showing up there?”

“She's a friend.” Bea defended.

“And since you have an interest in solving this I'm sure you won't mind handling it. As you know there was no forced entry in the first burglary and it appears this case is exactly the same except the occupant of the apartment was at home, in bed in fact and they attacked her. Strange don't you think that Stewart doesn't appear to have found the missing intruder? And I know that you had him send you a mugshot and the details Bea so please don't insult my intelligence and try denying it.”

“So it's the same means of entry?” Fletch frowned unsure how the two crimes were connected. “Isn't that were the similarity ends?”

“Unfortunately no, they are more closely related than that, they are in the same apartment complex and from what I have heard the owner wants to sell it on to a property development company, obviously I don't get out there too often and Stewart wasn't very forthcoming with the details, I had to have Franky track down that file. Get up to speed, if that's possible since I'm not sure that file contains as much as it should and then get to the hospital, we need a witness statement.”

An hour later they were on their way over to the hospital as Fletch parked their patrol car Bea suddenly remembered why she knew the name of the suspect Jake was supposed to be looking for.

“Fuck!” Bea said louder than she intended.

“What?” Fletch asked as he looked at Bea with concern hoping that it wasn't the memory of the last time they were there that was playing on her mind.

“Colin Bates, we've arrested him more than once before but this isn't how he operates.”

“And he doesn't normally strike twice in the same location, ya think there's something more going on here?”

“Looks suspicious doesn't it? There's got to be more going on here.”

“You aren't thinking Jakes involved are ya?”

“Who the fuck knows, he's a slimy little fucker at the best of times we all know that, and I find it suspicious that he hasn't tracked Colin Bates down, he's never been exactly that hard to find in the past has he?”

“Not as a rule no.” Fletch knew cases like this always brought out the best in Bea and he knew it was only a matter of time before she became a detective, she had always been different from most of the other officers he'd worked with in the past, he'd be sorry to lose her as his partner but happy to see her advance in her career, if anyone deserved it Bea certainly did and he knew he wasn't the only one who thought that.

After speaking with the receptionist they were told that the patient they needed to see was still undergoing treatment and that she'd inform the doctor that they were there. Taking a seat close to the doors that lead to the treatment rooms Bea remembered too well the last time she'd been sitting there, remembered the feeling of being judged by everyone who was sat there. Fletch was quiet, no one wanted to be sitting in a hospital waiting room and he didn't see why Vera had given them this job, anyone could take a statement, hadn't they spent enough time here already? Beas eyes kept looking at the doors hoping that it would be Bridget who'd be dealing with this patient, not that she didn't like the other doctors they were all always friendly but Bridget was easier to talk to and when Bea didn't feel like talking she never tried to keep a conversation going longer than was necessary. The waiting room felt particularly gloomy today, everyone sitting there seemed either lost in a world of their own or were speaking in hushed tones, but then Bea was used to being there later in the day, usually when it was after midnight and then it seemed that everyone was impatient to be seen and didn't care who was listening to their complaints about how long they had been kept waiting. The gloom that felt like it surrounded them seemed to creep up on Bea like the damp did on bare timber, seeping into her and traveling to her heart making it beat more morosely. One of the doctors appeared from the treatment rooms and went to speak to the receptionist, they both watched as she pointed out a small group of people sitting by themselves, they both knew the look on his face, is was the look every doctor wore when they had to deliver bad news to someone's family and in the few seconds that it took for him to walk over to them Bea felt a sadness drain through her rather than just skate over her skin, a sadness that felt like it was travelling through her whole body while she waited to hear the outpouring of grief and disbelief that she knew was going to follow.

Seconds ticked into minutes and every minute started to feel like hours as they waited before they heard the doors open again although neither Bea or Fletch looked up to see who had walked into the waiting room.

“Bea!” Allie felt like she might lose the ability to speak seeing her sitting there again.

Bea looked up and smiled, Allie was like sunlight pouring in on the darkness that she had felt was closing in on her.

“Hey.” Bea stood up, “I didn't realise you were on nights again.”

“Please tell me you haven't been hurt again?” Allie suddenly felt panic set in deep within her chest and the warmth in her body died quicker than the heat from a winter campfire.

“What?…No, honestly I'm fine.” Bea answered quickly hoping to ease the tension she felt radiating from Allie. “Vera decided that she had a job for us, you have a patient that was attacked in her apartment during a break in?”

Allie breathed a sigh of relief. “Y…yeah, Bridget's treating her, she asked me to let you know that you'll be able to speak to her soon.”

“She's one of your patients then?” Bea smiled.

“Yeah, you think it's just a coincidence that it happened in my apartment complex or am I being paranoid?”

“I don't think you are, no forced entry again. On the bright side it should really be Jake waiting to see her but the little snake called in with some lame excuse so you're kinda stuck with us.” Bea looked over at Fletch who was watching her exchange with Allie intently.

“Well I'm not going to complain about that as long as you're not injured in anyway.”

“I haven't had time to get myself into any trouble yet.” Bea laughed.

Allie returned to the treatment rooms after saying she'd be back to fetch them as soon as the patient was done with her treatment and felt able to speak to them. It didn't make any sense to Allie how the same thing that had happened to her had happened to someone else except she felt slightly luckier since she had only walked in on them as they were about to leave her apartment, she shuddered to think what might have happened if she'd been at home. Returning to room 3 where she'd already spent most of her time since the start of her shift Bridget was just about to leave, seeing the smile that Allie was wearing she was pretty certain she already knew who one of the officers were that had turned up to take the woman's statement.

“Is that a Bea induced smile by any chance?” Bridget asked quietly as she was exiting the room.

Allie blushed not expecting that her smile alone could give anything away. “Is the patient ready to see the officers?” Allie asked trying to brush off Bridget's comment.

“As far as her treatment is concerned I would say yes and since I can already guess who it is who's out there I'd suggest you ask Fletch to stay outside the room, it's a difficult situation as you can appreciate Allie and he's usually very accommodating with this kind of thing unless of course the patient is comfortable with him being present.”

Allie nodded as she watched Bridget walk out of the room and close the door behind her before she turned her attention back to her patient with her ever present smile still in place.

“Are you up to giving your statement or shall I ask the officers to come back back later?” Allie asked her tone thick with care and compassion.

“I…I…will you stay with me?”

“Of course.” Allie smiled, “One of the officers is a friend of mine so I already know your safe with her, the other officer with her…I'm sure he would wait outside if your uncomfortable with him in the room.”

“Maybe…I don't know.”

Allie returned to the waiting room seeing Bea staring down at her feet, it was obvious to her that she felt uncomfortable being in the hospital again so soon after the shooting incident she also knew that this was part of her job that no matter how hard it was for her she couldn't avoid it and she was pretty sure that Bea wouldn't try to avoid it even if she could. Walking up to her slowly she cleared her throat not wanting to startle her.

“You think it would be alright if Fletch waited outside the treatment room?” Allie asked quietly not wanting him to overhear what she was saying.

Bea looked up and smiled, “I'm sure he'll be fine with that, it's not like I'll be speaking to a complete psycho who might attack me at any second.”

“No.” Allie whispered, “And I'll be right there…that's alright isn't it? I've not been involved with this type of incident before.”

“That's fine.” Bea got to her feet, “Has she said if she would recognise them again? Doesn't matter if she hasn't, we have a photo lineup, not that they always help I mean you wouldn't recognise the guy who did a runner again would ya?”

Allie shook her head, it was true, she'd only got a good look at the guy they had caught as he ran into her as he tried to get out of her apartment as fast as his feet could carry him, the other guy hadn't been far behind him but Allie hadn't even thought to try and look at him before she'd called the police.

“But then one took off and hid close by, that was who almost knocked ya over guess he got spooked, the other guy?” Allie shrugged, “Who knows? He just disappeared I guess.”

“Hey try not to think about it yeah?…One second.” Bea turned to Fletch who was now standing behind her and she whispered something to him. Allie watched as he nodded his head before the three of them silently walked towards the treatment rooms.

Fletch stood outside the door to room 3 as Bea followed Allie inside, he usually hated standing around but tonight he didn't really want to be here in the hospital. He remembered sitting in the waiting room with Franky shouting the odds at him because he hadn't kept Bea out of harms way, wished it had been him instead but he was preoccupied with the driver of the van. He'd wished the waiting room floor would have just split in two and swallowed him whole that night, but Bea was safe even if she did seem different, at first he just thought it was because she'd had some free time, there was nothing like getting a break from the job but now he'd seen her with Allie he knew that the difference wasn't because of something rather a someone and he wondered if he should ask her about Allie or just keep his thoughts to himself.

 

 

 

Jodie Spiteri proved to be an excellent witness, she was shaken by the whole experience naturally but she recognised both men who had been in her apartment, she picked Colin Bates out at first glance, telling Bea that as she had walked out of her bedroom still half awake he had attacked her while the other man had just stood and watched as he'd punched her a couple of times before turning and running towards the door that she had thought at the time would still be locked. The other man Bea had now identified as Nash Taylor, she remembered arresting him once for burglary but that had been the only time she had ever encounter him. Something didn't feel right to her, this was the second burglary in the same apartment complex that had no forced entry. Just like Allie Jodie was sure that no one else should have a key to her apartment, she hadn't given anyone a spare and as with Allie they turned the place upside down and had taken any small items of value that they had found. She had told Bea that she had only lived there around six months, two months after she moved in she'd heard that the own of the building wanted to sell it and had been offered quite a substantial amount by a property developer but she'd heard nothing else about it until a month ago when one of her neighbours had asked her if the building caretaker had paid her a visit Yet? After getting all the details she possibly could from Jodie she told her she'd be in touch in the next few days and left the room with Allie right behind her finding Fletch engrossed in conversation with both Bridget and Franky who apparently was there because she'd brought Boomer in after a drunken fall that had resulted in her falling down some steps. Bea shook her head when she heard Franky trying to convince Bridget that she was harmless and that joining her for one coffee after her shift ended wouldn't hurt.

“Franky!” Bea groaned, “Do you ever stop?”

“Na…neva.” Franky grinned as soon as she spotted Allie, “Do ya go anywhere in this hospital without a certain blond nurse followin ya?”

“Fuck off Franky.” Bea scoffed, “I was taking a witness statement and I'm sure Fletch told you that.”

“Yeah, yeah…whatever ya say Red.”

“I do say because it's the truth, the witness requested her nurse stay with her and that just happened to be Allie.”

“Right…so doc, how much longer can ya keep saying no to this face?” Franky laughed a little as she watched Bridget shake her head before walking quickly away heading to one of the treatment rooms.

“Don't think it's just the face Bridget keeps saying no to do you?” Bea chuckled as she watched Franky frown.

“Well damn Red I swear it's you that scares her away, funny how…” Franky scratched her head, “Allie did ya say her name is? Doesn't seem to be scared away by ya.”

“Maybe you should just learn to take no for an answer Franky.”

“Maybe it's just her reputation that proceeds her.” Fletch laughed, “I mean how many nurses have ya hit on over the last couple of years eh…come on admit it Franky everyone knows ya.”

“Whateva.” Franky flipped Fletch the finger, she knew exactly what she'd done in the past but since the first time she'd laid eyes on Bridget she'd wanted to get to know her, something about Bridget fascinated her and even if she didn't know why she'd been determined to get to know the doctor better even if it killed her, Franky Doyle wasn't a quitter and she wasn't about to give up now. Franky could be difficult she'd never deny that, and she'd joke around way more than she probably should but that didn't make her a bad person it was just how she'd always coped with her life, her humour, just like her constant need to flirt had always been a mask for her deep seated pain and anguish. The only people who really knew Franky, who knew what her life had been like before she'd escaped to the AFP college were Bea and her parents, Liz and most recently Boomer. She never told anyone about her life before she moved to Melbourne to start her life as a general duties officer and at that time the only person she'd ever really let in, the only person who had ever seen her truly vulnerable side was Bea. Living with Bea and her parents had opened her eyes to how a real family life was meant to be and when she'd first moved in with them she'd been so closed off and reserved when she was at home and even more so when Bea wasn't there to back up her up. When they were working different shifts Franky would spend most of her time in her room or out at the gym so she could avoid any awkward questions that they might ask her. Being honest hadn't ever really helped Franky out, she remembered the first foster home she'd found herself in, she was 7 years old, afraid and lonely. She was just a foster kid and it seemed to her that she was just on the outside looking in because she wasn't theirs and she didn't belong there. Her foster mum had tried to talk to her, tried to get her to open up and reveal the things that not even the social workers were aware of but she closed herself off for months even though her foster mum had persevered and tried to show Franky that she was part of the family. Eventually she'd Given in and revealed how badly her dad leaving home had effected her, told her how she would stay awake late into the night waiting to hear the front door open, waiting for him to walk right into her room and scoop her up in his arms and tell her that everything would be alright now because he was going to take her away from the waking nightmare that had become her life. She hadn't known that the oldest of the family's children had been listening behind the door the whole time she was sobbing as she blurted out her deepest held longing. The very next day the teasing and name calling had begun when she went to school, that was nothing new to her and at first she'd shrugged it off, it wasn't any worse than she'd endured at her old school but as days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months Franky fought back but not with words, Franky had a red hot temper and it seemed even faster fists that most of the time she could control but when she snapped it was better to get out of her way.

Finding out that it was her oldest foster brother who had overheard her whole admission and told everyone who would listen at school made her blood boil and after returning home from school had flown into a rage punching him so hard in the face that she broke his nose. Two days later she was moved to another foster home and Franky refused to ever speak about anything relating to her life with her parents. Being moved around just became second nature to her until she was old enough to make her own decisions and she would never regret applying to become a police officer. Franky looked at Bea and then Allie and laughed, she knew that Bea had no idea what was going on, maybe she'd eventually work it all out but she knew if she left it all up to Bea they might both have already retired by the time the realisation finally hit her that Allie didn't want to be just a friend, Franky could see that already, getting Bea to see what was right in front of her face was another matter.

“Right, yeah well better go and rescue Booms from the clutches of a certain doctor.” Franky grinned as she walked away towards the room that Bridget a couple of minutes ago had disappeared into.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Bea had always been suspicious of Jake Stewart, maybe it was just because he reminded her of Harry or maybe it was something else she'd never really quite been able to put her finger on the precise detail but she didn't trust him. Walking into the station she ran into Vera and from the look on her face she knew she wasn't happy. After that very first night back on duty both Bea and Fletch had resigned themselves to being kept in the confines of the station at least for the foreseeable future, as soon as they had had got back from the hospital Vera had given them the task of going over old case files and that had kept them in the station for the last two nights, the only upside Bea had found to the whole situation had been that when Allie was on a break she would call her since she knew she wouldn't be out dealing with an emergency call, taking Beas mind off everything that she thought she should be doing but wasn't being allowed to. Allie of course had tried telling her that it wouldn't be for long, after all how many cases could there be with same same modus operandi? They had only come across four others all taking place in the same apartment complex and all like Allies had taken place when the occupant had been away from from home, Allie and Jodi had been the only two to have seen the men involved.

“Smith.” Vera's voice sounded shaky and Bea didn't remember a time she'd ever heard her sound like that. “I need you and Fletcher in my office, when he graces us with his presence I'll expect you both to be there.” Vera turned and walked away back towards her office.

Looking at her watch Bea knew Fletch wasn't late, if anything she was five minutes early so shrugged off her comment as she walked to the locker room where she decided she'd wait for Fletch. Five minutes later Fletch walked in,

“Who's upset Vera?” He asked as he grinned at Bea.

“No idea but I think maybe we missed something, no fucking idea what though we spent hours going over those files, waste of time if ya ask me.” Bea frowned, “Hey you heard anything about Stewart?”

“Nope…maybe he's called in again and that's what's got her all crabby, ask yourself if ya really care though that guys a walking disaster everyone knows that, no one but Collins wants to work with him.”

“Yeah and remember who he was partnered with in the past.”

Fletch nodded, it would be impossible to forget that Harry had once been his partner, Colin's was an old timer and only had around a year left before his retirement he always gravitated towards to new guys and stuck with the ones who had a wild streak. Vera had told him countless times to reign Harry in and he'd laughed it off saying that sometimes it was the risk takers that got the job done, in Harry's case it just put him in a box and Fletch suspected that he wouldn't even remember him now if he asked him about Harry.

Kitting up fully seemed completely unnecessary since they both expected to be stuck in the station all night but Bea had a feeling that tonight wasn't going to be as easy and convinced Fletch that their weapons were a good idea, Beas gut instinct was nearly always correct so Fletch just followed her lead. Walking into Vera's office the atmosphere was tense, yes it's a cliche but they both knew that it was so tense that it really could have been cut with a knife as they sat facing Vera.

“There was another burglary, this time in broad daylight an elderly woman was attacked in her apartment around 1500.” Vera stated bluntly before her face softened slightly. “I guess I only have myself to blame, I'm not saying that other officers aren't capable of finding Bates and Taylor but I think I made a mistake keeping you two confined to the station. Doyle has a new lead on his possible location and she got a full statement from the victim but I think he'd be slightly harder to trace by day.”

“What are you saying?” Bea asked impatiently.

“I'm saying I made a mistake, you were both found fit for full duty and I haven't used you to the best of your abilities…I'm saying I need you both back out there.” Vera sighed.

Bea was only half listening to Vera when she heard a call come over her radio of a report of a domestic abuse call, she didn't hesitate to tell control to show them as dealing with it before she jumped out of her seat.

“Well come on, get your ass in gear Fletch.”

“This isn't…” Vera trailed off as she watched them both walk out of her office, it was pointless arguing with Bea.

“You know who lives at that address don't ya?” Bea asked Fletch as they headed out.

“Didn't hear it, go on tell me, anyone we know?”

“Oh yeah, Stewart!”

“Fuck!…Domestic call?” Fletch gulped, he didn't like him but he'd never pegged him for this. “Blue light run?” He asked as they approached their patrol car already knowing the answer.

“What else?”

Bea sat back in the passenger seat her eyes starting to fill with tears why hadn't she seen this coming, Jake was reckless had a quick temper and got enjoyment from talking down to the female officers. She'd always tried to convince herself that it was just the way he was when he was at work and that he'd be the complete opposite at home with his girlfriend who'd she'd only met a couple of times. And there it was, the one thing she knew that she should have noticed more than anyone else, the last time she'd been in the same room as Jake and his girlfriend he'd hardly let her out of his sight, most of the evening he'd kept his arm round her and she knew to most people who were there it probably seemed harmless, no one ever noticed it the few times her and Harry had been in that situation had she ignored it, ignored how he'd spoken to her when he'd seen her talking to Fletch after he'd left her alone to go to the bathroom, the silent panic that she'd seen in her eyes right before she left had she really just let it all go because it wasn't happening to her anymore?

She'd seen it all before, had most of it done to her, felt the frisson of excitement that had radiated from Jake when he thought he'd caught her doing something he didn't approve of and it had to have pushed him on. He'd probably only stopped when she was crying and laying broken on the floor, maybe he'd feel guilty for a while just like Harry had the first few times but it wouldn't stop him because he enjoyed abusing her too much. She wanted to scream, wanted to get out of the car and run all the way there burst through the door and beat the shit out of Jake, but the one thing she knew that was different about Jake was that he'd run, when he'd seen what he'd done if it was half as bad as Bea expected as more details had been conveyed to them he wouldn't stick around, he wasn't Harry who would stay just to stop her from getting help, stop her from calling anyone and so he could throw more insults at her until he'd pass out and it would finally stop, the torture would end but the pain was a constant reminder of everything.

Pulling up at the address Bea wiped her eyes, she wasn't going to let anyone see her vulnerabilities especially if Jake was still inside the property.

“You sure you wanna do this?” Fletch asked, he knew her too well not to see how a domestic violence call would affect her.

“I'm good…I can't avoid calls like this and I'm not gonna avoid this one just because he's an officer I don't give a shit who it is, cop or not I don't want to be treated differently just because of my history.”

As they walked to the front door Fletch was surprised how confident Bea seemed, knocking on the door loudly and getting no response did nothing to calm either of them as they made their way round to the back of the house finding the patio doors open.

“Police.” Fletch called out as he peered inside getting no response. He looked at Bea who nodded “Police.” Fletched called out again as they entered the property, “Is there anyone here?”

Making their way through the house there was no one on the ground floor of the property but it was obvious that something had happened given the state of the place. It wasn't just a mess it looked like a disaster zone and if neither of them were aware of what had been reported they could have been excused for thinking that it looked as if a drunken cyclone had just erupted out of nowhere and scattered everything across the floor before making its way in a haphazard fashion towards the staircase. The only clues that the chaos was actually of human origin were the remnants of a meal that were left on the kitchen table and the dirty dishes that were piled in the sink.

It was quiet, maybe a little too quiet as they cautiously made their way up the stairs coming to a stop at the top in front of a door that was only very slightly open, hearing someone quietly crying behind the door. Bea gently pushed open the door against the tide of objects that littered the floor on the other side. She was sure that there wasn't one single square centimetre that wasn't covered with something as her eyes found their way to the bed and woman curled up on it, as they again identified themselves as police officers the woman's tears flowed even more freely. Bea was too familiar with the sound, it was more than just crying, it was a kind of desolate sobbing that only comes from a person who is drained of all hope.

Making her way across the room Bea spoke to her as gently as she could seeing her dragging herself up and off the bed trying to catch her breath. This looked to Bea like the worst call she thought she'd ever been on as she encouraged her to sit back back down and take deep breaths to try a get her breathing under control. Her face was a mess, she had two black eyes and her face was covered in blood.

Taking a seat beside her Bea looked at Fletch who had hung back near the door.

“Can you tell me what happened Natasha?” Bea asked softly.

The woman looked at Bea a little confused at first before she realised that she recognised her face she just couldn't place where from. “I…I do…don't really…remember…w…what…s…started it.”

“That's okay, just take your time.” Bea smiled sadly, “You remember me don't ya?”

She nodded slowly as she winced in pain. “J…Jake, he just lost it…got a phone call…started throwing things around and I don't know why…he slapped me and I ran up here but he followed me.” She sobbed, “He dragged me to the floor with my hair and stamped on my head, he said he'd kill me.”

Bea glance at the door where Fletch had been standing and heard him on his radio.

“Control we need an ETA for the ambulance………Stuck in traffic are ya kidding me?” Fletch sounded frustrated, Natasha had a significant head injury and he knew they needed to get her to the hospital as soon as possible. Returning to the bedroom he watched Bea as she listened to everything that was being said to her, he couldn't imagine what must have been going through her head being with someone who had suffered a brutal sustained attack like this, her face was badly swollen and there was so much blood he was a little surprised that Bea hadn't already started on a path to a downward spiral. They'd attended a similar call a few weeks ago and the woman involved hadn't looked quite as bad, he wasn't sure in that case if it was the woman's flat out refusal to admit that her husband had done it to her or just her injuries that had set Bea off but she'd hardly said a word for the rest of the shift and had retreated inside her own head completely the second they had got back to the locker room.

“How long ago did Jake leave?” Fletch asked.

Natasha looked straight at Bea before she answered, “About ten minutes before you got here I think.”

“Can you remember what he was wearing?”

Natasha shook her head.

Fletch left the bedroom again, every cop from the station would recognise him once his name was circulated but he still had to call in a description of who they were looking for, Jake was smart enough to not be out in the open for long he knew that and the sooner he was found the better. Fletch let Bea know he was going outside to wait for the ambulance, once outside he leaned on the wall, he could never understand how any cop could do something like this, they see cases like this all the time and yet some of them still thought it was acceptable to act the same way, his job was gone he knew that and he knew Jake would know that making him wonder if Jake could be involved in more than anyone knew.

 

 

 

Bea was quiet on the ride over to the hospital as they followed the ambulance and Fletch didn't even try to talk to her knowing that she'd either snap at him or just remain quiet, either way there was no point speaking to her. Sitting in the waiting room again neither of them spoke until they heard that there had been a possible sighting of Jake.

“They won't find him.” Bea huffed.

“We can live in hope that he's found tonight.” Fletch tried to be optimistic.

“They won't, just trust me on this if he hasn't been found by now he won't be easy to find. He's not as confident as Harry was.” Beas head dropped as she looked at the floor. “ Harry…he always thought he was untouchable you know that, Jake isn't that confident he'll hide until he thinks we've forgotten about him.”

“Then he better have some very good mates to fall back on…look Bea I know you hate talking about him and I'm not asking you to yeah, just don't let him get in your head.”

“It's not that easy.” She sighed, “No one really knows what it was like…I can almost deal with the usual cases now but this…another cop, it's messed up. Why do they do it?”

Fletch didn't answer he had no answer, he wasn't sure anyone had an answer, maybe it was just the way they were but was anyone really born bad or were they made bad through abuse or childhood trauma? It wasn't a question he'd ever really thought about and it wasn't a question he thought Bea would have given much thought to.

“Maybe we should put you two in the doctors on call room.” Allie said as she walked over to where they were sitting, “This is twice this week I've been sent out here to fetch the pair of you.”

Allie frowned when Bea didn't look up or even acknowledge her presence, “Natasha wants to give a full statement.”

Bea got to her feet and followed silently behind Allie and Fletch stopping a few feet from the treatment room that they walked into, she didn't want to be here again, didn't want to have to listen to the answers to the questions they had to ask because she was sure she already knew the answers to them already. Spotting Bridget walking in her direction she decided to stay where she was, if Fletch or Allie looked for her now they wouldn't think it was suspicious if she was talking to Bridget. In her mind finding anything else to talk about other than what they were there for would be a relief, she knew she'd not told Allie a great deal leaving everything to her imagination but she was sure that her silence would prompt her to ask questions and tonight she didn't want to talk about it.

“Is something wrong with Bea?” Allie asked Fletch as they left the treatment room.

Fletched looked further down the corridor where he saw Bea laughing with Bridget. “It's not my place to tell you but if you care about her as much as I think you do don't give up on her…I don't know everything she's been through only Franky and Liz know the whole truth. She's tough I'll give her that much but…she keeps things well hidden, go easy on her yeah…I kinda think she has a soft sport for ya she may surprise herself and tell ya.”

Allie nodded, she'd already gotten the feeling that Beas life hadn't been a bed of roses and had decided that she wasn't going to ask any difficult questions, it seemed that she had two choices anyway, ask and end up losing her completely or let her tell her in her own time and see where where they went from there.

Allie had already been called to another treatment room when a new patient had been brought in, Bea walked back to the patrol car upset with herself for not having taken a spare few minutes to speak to Allie she just hadn't known what to say. Arriving back at the station Fletch decided that they should try and spend the rest of their shift going over the case files again, convincing Bea hadn't been hard and the rest of the night had passed in almost complete silence until Bea had a sudden thought.

“Who's the owner of this apartment complex?”

“Huh?” Fletch looked up from the file he was reading. “No idea why what ya thinkin?”

“I'm not sure but you have noticed that there's more files here now? They're all complaints about harassment from the caretaker.”

“And you're thinking what exactly?” Fletch asked with a smile seeing Bea getting back into her usual stride was always a relief.

“Seriously? Think about it, the owner wants to sell, we have reports of harassment complaints against the caretaker and suddenly there are burglaries that have no visible means of entry other than the one thing everyone seems to have overlooked.” Bea stared straight at Fletch who just looked back at her. “They had keys, it makes sense, if the tenant hasn't changed the locks themselves after they moved in who had a spare set?”

“The caretaker.” Fletch groaned, “Wait, ya think Stewart knew?”

“I don't know…maybe, maybe not but it's convenient that he never made any real effort to find Bates and now he's missing, I don't just think he did a runner after what he did because he didn't want arresting for that I think there's more to it.”

“Well don't think I don't like your thinking because I do but this is gunna have to wait until tomorrow night we can check the land title then…our shift ended five minutes ago.” Fletch pointed at the clock, “Come on I'll treat ya to breakfast.”

“Thanks…don't be offended but I have something to do.”

“At 6am ya have somethin else to do?” Fletch chuckled, Bea turning down breakfast when she wasn't in a rush told him more than her words would and he figured out in seconds where she was going.

Getting up from the desk she was sitting at Bea rushed back to the locker room and was on her way out of the station before Fletch had even made it halfway.

 

 

 

Bea sat on the wall outside Allies apartment hoping that she wasn't doing the wrong thing, she hadn't meant to ignore Allie while she was at the hospital she just really didn't know what to say, it wasn't the place to fall to pieces and blurt out everything that she was really feeling. Maybe it was the wrong time to be doing this, they'd both been on a night shift and Bea knew that Allie would be tired, more tired than she was currently feeling, she wasn't even sure if she would tell her anything, she knew she had to apologise if nothing else. She glanced at her watch before she looked around, Allie was late getting home and she wondered if she'd been held up by an emergency. Sitting there in her uniform she knew no one would question her as she lost herself to her thoughts again. It wasn't that she didn't like people she just thought it was better to keep her distance but Allie was different, from the first night they'd met she knew that even if she wasn't sure what was so different about her, was it just because she was so patient, didn't ask awkward questions? Franky had made a few comments after seeing them together but she wouldn't expect anything else from Franky. They were just friends, that was all there was to it, Bea had told everyone that she wasn't going to get involved with anyone ever again, love was overrated, in fact she was quite sure that romantic love was a myth and even if it did Bea wasn't gay, she'd already had that conversation with Franky on numerous occasions when she'd tried to convince her that maybe she was looking for the wrong person all along. Any association she had with that had just been a bad one and she was sure every part of her body had just learnt to reject the notion like it was a foreign concept. The way Harry had thought nothing of raising his fists to her made her wonder why anyone would ever fall in love if that was a possible consequence. Images flashed though her mind of his hands around her throat as he sniggered when she heard a voice that instantly pushed the memories away.

“Bea…are you alright?”

“Allie…sorry…I…I wanted to say sorry…about last night…I…well I…”

“You wanna come in? I can make the coffee this time, unless you need to get home for Debbie?”

“No, no…Liz takes her to school when I'm on night shift…I don't want to keep you up though you must be tired.”

“I was apparently I'm not any more, let me get you a coffee…how long were you sitting there?”

Bea shrugged, she wasn't sure how long she was waiting. Following Allie inside her apartment she leaned against the door frame of the kitchen as she watched Allie making coffee before they both retreated to the sofa.

“I'm sorry for ignoring you, sometimes I find it hard to deal with cases like last night…if I tell you why will you let me finish because if you interrupt I might not finish what I'm about to tell you?”

Allie nodded, she'd guess from the few times Bea had mentioned her ex that something bad had happened, sure she'd said he was dead and she seemed not to care but she wasn't stupid and she knew there had to be a lot more to it than that.

“Harry…I mentioned that he wasn't very nice.” Bea looked at Allie quickly seeing her nod before she turned to look away, if she was going to do this she couldn't look at her, she was sure Allie wouldn't judge her too harshly for what she let herself endure but she didn't want to see pity in her eyes either. “Last night it just brought a lot of things back, I get lost I'm my head sometimes, swear I still hear his voice. Harry was a cop he got moved here after he caused trouble at his old station in Sydney, Jake…he's always reminded me of him, then yesterday…I'm not saying that I let what he did completely rule my life anymore but sometimes…” She paused for a few moments before she continued, “The first time it was just a slap and he apologised, he even cooked dinner that night but it didn't last. One day he grabbed me by the shoulders and screamed in my face before he slapped me, he shoved me into the table before he pulled me down onto the floor, there'd been a glass vase on the table and that had hit the floor and shattered, I couldn't move, he pinned me down on top of the broken glass and beat me so violently that I couldn't do anything except burst into tears and that just made it worse, I couldn't ask him to stop because I knew that would just make hit me harder. When he got up I thought that was it until I felt him kick me in the stomach, he kept kicking until I couldn't take the pain anymore and passed out, when I came round he'd gone. I don't even know what caused it even now I have no idea. It went on like that for two years and I thought about leaving, taking Debbie and running away but he would have tracked us down. We call it being battered, sounds like such a simple word for a simple idea but the effect isn't simple. I lost all sense of myself, the only thing I knew I had to do was protect Debbie. Most of the time I barely recognised myself anymore and I don't know why I stayed but I couldn't see a way out. Sometimes I'd look round the house and only see a prison because at the time I couldn't see a way out of that life except in a body bag. I knew Fletch was suspicious, I wore long sleeves all year round, he never really touched my face, a slap here and there but nothing worse and I just told everyone I'd fallen over or something. I paid all the bills, did everything round the house…he once took my phone and deleted all my contacts even my parents numbers, he seemed to forget that I saw Franky at work almost everyday and she was the only friend I really had, the only friend I've ever really had. That last day, the day he died, he beat me so badly that I could have died, I think I would have if it hadn't been for Franky and Liz, he left like he always did, went to work and left me there. He went to an armed robbery, he wasn't as smart as he thought he was, he always thought that he was indestructible, he did what he was told not to and got shot….the worst thing is Deb could have lost us both that day.”

Bea had always been so self conscious when she cried in front of anyone even Franky or Liz, she wouldn't as a rule ever repeat anything that she'd lived with to anyone but sitting right here with Allie, telling her what she kept hidden so well she couldn't hold her tears back even if she tried. Franky and Liz had seen the things he'd done with their own eyes telling someone who hardly knew her, who'd never known her back then had been hard and she gave way to the enormity of the pain that she still carried with her. She sobbed into her hands, her tears dripping between her fingers, her breathing was ragged and she felt like all the strength had left her body as she sank back into the sofa.

Beas sobbing made Allie feel as though her heart was breaking and she knew too well that hearts don't snap like brittle toffee or burst like an overfilled balloon, hearts break in heaving waves when a new disturbing reality arrives uninvited. She'd been let in on dark part of Beas life that she knew she didn't share freely with just anyone and it seemed to her that a part of Bea had had to die back then so that she could carry on not only for herself but for everyone she loved. Allie watched her cry her tears flowing unchecked and she felt a piece of herself break, things couldn't go back to way that they had been between them that much she knew, she'd now seen a part of Bea that very few people ever witnessed. Placing her arm round Beas shoulders had been a little tricky and she'd felt her tense up for a few seconds before she felt her relax again as she let her head fall to rest on Allies shoulder.

“I'm sorry.” Bea said as her sobs started to die away.

“You don't have to be sorry for anything…I'm glad you felt you could tell me.”

“Yeah? You don't know the whole story…you might change your mind.”

“I doubt that, I think you'd run a mile if I told you everything about how my life used to be.”

Bea picked her head up from Allies shoulder and looked her straight in the eye. “You can tell me anything you know that.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Bea and Fletch spent the rest of that week while they were out on patrol looking for any sign of Jake, it was now the early hours of Saturday morning, as they drove down St David Street something moving in the shadows a little further away caught Beas attention.

“Fletch slow down.”

“Oh come on, it's dead out here…when is there ever trouble in Fitzroy at this time in the morning?”

“I know, just trust me yeah? It might be nothing but you know no ones even caught a glimpse of Jake Yet.”

“Yeah I know…not sure he'd want you to catch up with him, shit ya’d kick is sorry ass all the way back to the station and I wouldn't even try to stop ya.” Fletch laughed, he knew Bea had spent every night with her eyes scanning their surroundings and he didn't doubt for a second that if she was the one who saw him he'd stand no chance of getting away from her, the guy could run he'd seen him but he still wasn't as fast as Bea, he doubted there was another person in the whole station who could move like she could when it was called for.

Bea glared at Fletch for a few seconds, he was right and she knew it but she doubted that she'd kick him back to the station, beating the crap out of him had been on her mind for the last couple of days though.

Jake saw the patrol car, it was just his luck he'd only gone out to stretch his legs, being holed up in a house with Colin Bates and Nash Taylor wasn't his idea of fun. He'd been surprised when he'd called for help that the place he was taken to was so close to his station, more surprised when he'd seen the place and couldn't quite understand why anyone would trust Bates in a property that he knew was worth so much. He jumped over the metal fence at the front of the property and ducked down behind the huge planters that were right behind it hoping that whoever was inside the patrol car wouldn't see him hidden away in the shadows.

Fletch had slowed down to a crawl as they passed Jakes hiding place, his heart was in his mouth as he stayed as still as he possibly could, it may have only taken them a few seconds to pass the house but to Jake it felt like hours.

“Ya happy now? It's just shadows Bea an I know you're worried but he's got no place to run to, his family live in Perth and from what I hear he's got not real friends here, no one at the station likes him even Collins ain't stickin up for him since he heard what he did.”

“Yeah I know.” Bea sighed, she thought that maybe it had just been a trick of the light but she couldn't shake the feeling that he was close by. “The guys a snake, I wouldn't trust him not to show up at the hospital I heard they were keeping her in until at least Monday.”

“Ya think he would?”

“It's what Harry did…”

“Bea…I'm gonna beat myself up forever for not seeing what was really going on.”

“And I could have stopped it, could have reported him, had the guts Natasha's got and made a full statement…she doesn't have to worry about a child though and I became an expert in treating myself.”

“So…wanna double back? Be on the safe side?”

Bea shook her head, there was no point chasing shadows even if she was convinced that it was a person lurking in them, they hadn't seen anyone so maybe Fletch was right. As they drove back towards the station the shadows of the buildings that were cast by streetlights melted into almost complete blackness, Bea turned to have one last look behind them and there it was again a small movement she'd let it go for now but no way was Jake going to vanish into thin air she was more determined of that now more than ever.

“I don't get it!” Fletch suddenly said as he leaned back in his chair.

“Get what? The fact that we're sat here behind desks again pouring over old case files? Maybe that no one really seems to care about yet another complaint of threatening behaviour? That no one but us seems to have worked out that that apartment complex is registered as being owned by a company that everyone knows is a front for the Holts illegal activities?”

“All valid points Bea but no! I don't get why this case is still with us, since when do the detectives leave something like this in the hands of us lowly uniformed officers?”

“Maybe it's not on their list of priorities right now.”

“Or maybe they're just waiting for us to do all the leg work before they take it from us and get to claim all the credit.”

“Or maybe for once Vera hasn't passed on what we've uncovered, maybe she wants us to solve it…doubtful I know, maybe wishful thinking.”

Fletch leaned forward, “And maybe we should leave this train of thought right there and head home, we seem to be making a habit of this.”

Bea looked at her watch and smiled, “You still meeting us at the beach later? Might be the last chance we get before it gets too cold.”

“Try and stop me besides Doyle already said she'd kick my ass if I don't show up.”

 

 

 

“Mummy wake up.” Debbie shook her mum, Bea opened her eyes and blinked Debbie's face soon came into focus. “Mummy…Gma Liz said we're going to the beach so you have to get up, and auntie Franky and Boomer and Maxine and..”

“Okay, okay Deb I get the picture, I'm getting up.”

Debbie stood beside Beas bed and folded her arms across her chest frowning when she didn't think Bea was moving fast enough. “Gma Liz said…”

“I'm getting up.” Bea said slightly exasperated before glancing at her daughters pouting face and she couldn't stay frustrated with the situation for long. “I'm sorry baby, I'm getting up tell me what Gma Liz said.”

“Are you going to listen?” Debbie asked sternly as she watched Bea sit up slowly.

“I'm all ears.”

“Good! Gma Liz said you should ask your friend…umm, errrr…wait don't tell me mummy.” Debbie looked thoughtful for a few seconds. “Gma Liz said you should ask your friend Allie to come with us.” Debbie finished looking pleased with herself.

“I'm not sure I can she was working last night like I was.”

“Gma Liz said that she's a nurse.” Debbie scowled.

“Yes Deb but nurses have to work at night time too when you're tucked up in bed, if they didn't who would look after all the people in the hospital.”

“The doctors.” Debbie grinned, “Please mummy.”

“Okay but I'm sure Allie doesn't have the worlds loudest alarm clock like I do.”

“I'm going to help Gma Liz put everything in her car and you make sure you get up.” Debbie pointed her finger at Bea before turning and skipping out of the room.

Bea chuckled to herself before reaching for her phone surprised to see a text message from Allie that had arrived a short time before she was so rudely woken up.


Good morning or afternoon as the case may be, you'll never believe what Bridget told me last night


Bea guessed that Allie must be wide awake already and decided that she may as well call her.

“You're awake.” Allies cheerful yet surprised voice made Bea smile.

“I am, so tell me what exactly did Bridget tell you last night?”

“Are ya sitting down I'd hate to be the cause of you injuring yourself?”

“I wouldn't be doing anything else since I'm still sat in bed, my personal alarm clock decided that I had to get up.”

“Hmmm, okay…well apparently Franky turned up at the hospital after her shift yesterday and somehow talked Bridget into joining her at the beach this afternoon.”

“The more the merrier I guess and she'll be safe enough Franky will probably spend most of the afternoon chasing Deb round…that's why I was calling you really after Deb woke me up so nicely she informed me that Liz said I should invite you along.” When Allie didn't answer Bea felt a little disappointed but figured that she'd have other plans anyway and she couldn't blame her, if Bea could say no to going to beach after a night shift she would have. “You don't have to say yes…I umm, well I said I'd call ya.”

Bea heard Allie mumbling something before she dropped her phone…”Shit!” She heard Allie say to herself.

“Sorry, I'd love to honestly I had no plans for today, besides I get to snoop on Bridget she did tell me earlier in the week that she wouldn't go for coffee with Franky…so shall I meet you there?”

Bea was only half listening to Allies answer as she pulled the covers back deciding that she'd better look like she was making an effort before Debbie came racing back to her room looking for her. “It's fine I mean…wait did you say you would?”

“Do I need to get Bridget to check your ears while she's there?” Allie laughed, “Yes, I said I'd love to.”

“I'll pick you up in half an hour.” Bea jumped out of bed, “Or an hour, it's up to you, Deb seems to be planning on going with Liz anyway and…oh god, are ya sure? Franky you know but Boomer can be as big a handful as Deb.”

“Would ya rather I said no?” Allie asked hoping that Bea wasn't going to change her mind since she was sure she could have told Debbie that she'd called her and that she'd said no without any problem.

“No. Think I prefer your first answer.”

“Then I'll see ya in half an hour.”

 

 

 

Just a little over an hour later Bea parked in a surprisingly almost empty car park at Half Moon Bay, a quiet crescent shaped shoreline and the home of black rock yacht club. The sheltered Bay had always been one of Beas favourite destinations since not many people were even aware that the place existed, she loved the view as she drove down off the beach road in Sandringham because nothing could beat what you saw as the glittering blue water mixed with the wonderfully blue sky.

“You've been here before.” Allie looked a little seriously at Bea.

“How did you ever guess?” Bea asked as she was about to walk away to pay for parking.

“Oh, ya know…maybe it was the way you were looking out over the water with a dreamy look on your face instead of paying attention to the road.”

“Dreamy?” Bea laughed, “Can't say I've ever been told that before…but yeah I love it here.”

“What's the fascination with a small beach?” Allie asked as she followed Bea, soon enough they would be with her friends and Allie was feeling nervous about meeting them and even more nervous about meeting Debbie. She already knew what to expect from Franky and Liz although she hoped Franky may be a little better behaved since Bridget had agreed to join them.

“For starters its great when you have young kids so it's a no brainer with Debbie. You ever snorkelled?” Allie shook her head, it wasn't even something she'd ever considered doing. “The bays the final resting place of the HMVS Cerberus an 19th century battleship that now acts as a breakwater and artificial reef. Maybe I'll have to take you out there one day, best wait until the summer though, it's covered with different marine invertebrates and algae.” Bea looked back at Allie who was listening to her intently so she decided to carry on telling her more. “The surrounding waters are home to a variety of fish as well as urchins, sea stars and anemones, caught sight of a few blue ringed octopuses when I've been out there with Franky and the odd cuttlefish and squid.” Allie frowned, why was it that Bea always did everything with Franky she wondered but decided against voicing her thoughts. Bea had told her that more of her friends were going to be there today and she didn't understand why she never did anything that sounded fun with anyone other than Franky.

As they looked over the bay from the cliff top Allie gasped it looked just like a little fishing village, something she never thought she'd ever see apart from in pictures.

“It's very pretty don't ya think?” Bea asked as they started down the path to the beach, not giving Allie any time to reply she carried on talking. “This place has inspired many painters, if you walk the coastal art trail there are reproductions of them at various points it even inspired an Australian author, the beginning of the novel ‘Conditions of Faith’ begins with a family swimming here.”

“You're very chatty today.” Allie giggled, this was a side of Bea that so far she'd never seen but since the only places they'd actually been together outside either of their homes or the hospital were the yoga studio and the gym and that was something that Allie hoped they would change soon.

“Sorry.” Bea focused on the path ahead of them suddenly struck with the sense of dread that only Harry had ever been able to instil in her he hated hearing her talk too much because he said she should listen more and speak less. She hated letting him still control the way she responded to other people, she'd worked on it but it still happened and if there was only one thing she wanted was to make it stop so she could move on completely from what he'd put her through.

“Hey I'm not complaining…I didn't realise that you were so knowledgeable about all this stuff, tell me more please.” Allie encouraged.

Bea glanced quickly to her side at Allie a little unsure but seeing her bright smile looking back at her her apprehension disappeared. “It's still an important place for indigenous people, they used to camp here, there are still middens and…”

“What are they?” Allie asked cutting Bea off mid sentence.

“A midden? It's an old dump for domestic waste…so you can still find them and there are sources of bush food and ochre paint at Red Bluff. Want me to shut up now?”

“Never, I’ll confess I'm nervous about meeting the rest of your friends and Debbie so you're helping taking my mind off it.”

Bea stopped and turned to face Allie. “You don't have to be nervous you already know the worst one…well Booms can be a bit of a handful especially when you leave her and Deb to do as they please but she's harmless you know like Franky is when you get to know her.”

Allie scrunched her face up, “Booms, that's not really her name?”

“Yeah sorry her real names Susan but she hates it so everyone calls her Boomer, long story, you'll love her honestly just never go out drinking with her I've never met anyone who can keep up with her.”

The beach was quite busy but not as crowded as the bigger and more popular beaches would be especially when the temperature was set to hit 68 degrees and the vast majority of the people there would be locals Bea knew that already. Looking across the beach Bea soon spotted Liz and Maxine sitting it what was their usual spot near the cliffs as they watched on as Franky and Boomer tried to catch up with Debbie as she ran towards the sea. As they walked closer Allie spotted the rock pools near the cliffs and she remembered times she'd spent at the beach just her and her dad when she was young, it seemed like a lifetime ago and she didn't seem to have even noticed that she'd stopped walking. Bea turned her head finding Allie wasn't still at her side she turned round before walking back to a now tearful Allie.

“Allie?” Bea said quietly, “What's upsetting you?”

Allie wiped her eyes and looked at Bea, “Sorry I was just…I was thinking about…it doesn't matter, it's nothing really I'm fine.”

“Okay but you know if you need to talk about it I'm here, you listen to all my crap.”

“Maybe, maybe one day I'll be brave enough…now take me to meet your friends before I totally chicken out and make you take me home.”

Liz and Maxine had watched their whole interaction as they sat quietly before quickly turning their attention back to the waters edge when they saw Bea turning back to face them.

“Liz you already know, this is Maxine hairdresser extraordinaire, Maxi this is Allie.”

“Nice to meet you Allie, Debbie said Bea was bringing her new friend along.” Maxine smiled at Allie before looking at Bea with one her knowing looks, Bea was about to say something when they heard Debbie calling to her as she set off running across the beach.

“Mummy you took so long getting here, auntie Franky said we had to wait for you to get here and I'm starving.”

Bea laughed, “Really so Booms is holding an ice cream in each hand for what reason?”

“Because she couldn't make her mind up what flavour to get.” Debbie threw back straight away as she giggled.

Bea rolled her eyes, she was sure she'd never met another five year old that always had an answer for everything at the speed Debbie did.

“Fletch should have been here by now.” A rather down in the mouth Franky grumbled as she wandered over to them with Boomer who passed Debbie her ice cream cone before nudging Franky in the ribs and whispering something to her. Within a second Franky’s expression changed from completely dejected to grinning like a fool and Bea followed her line of sight seeing Bridget and Fletch walking over in their direction.

Once everyone was finally gathered on the beach and Franky had more timidly than anyone expected introduced everyone to Bridget they walked down to the pier headed for the Cerberus House Cafe after Debbie and Boomer had already made the decision that the day called for fish and chips and no one could argue with either of them. Seating themselves outside Bea was surprised when Debbie started chatting quite happily to Allie.

“Are you the nurse who looked after my mummy when she got hurt because of those bad boys?” Debbie asked quite bluntly.

“I am did I do a good job?” Allie countered, she'd never expected Debbie to even speak to her let alone start questioning her.

Debbie tapped her finger on her chin as her eyes wandered to the scar that was visible on Beas arm. “I think so, if she gets hurt again are you going to look after her?”

“Well I hope she's not going to get hurt again but if I'm at the hospital and she needs stitching up you can count on it.” Allie laughed.

“Good.” Debbie firmly nodded her head, “Because I'm not big enough to look after her yet.”

Bea rolled her eyes as she looked at Allie, she didn't need looking after she was pretty certain of that, if the last few years had taught her anything it was that she was more than capable of taking care of herself. As Debbie shovelled down her food and continued to chat quite happily with Allie she looked around, Boomer was giving Franky a hard time about her finally convincing Bridget to actually been seen out in public with her. Fletch was sitting with Liz and Maxine who didn't seem to be as invested in the conversation as Liz was. Looking out over the water and then back towards the red bluff cliffs as she listened contentedly to Debbie's voice telling Allie that after they'd eaten she was going to scare Franky made her smile. Turning her head slightly she saw Maxine's eyes firmly on the three of them, ‘What?’ Bea mouthed as she shrugged her shoulders. She was pretty sure that Maxine had a hundred and one questions thundering through her mind and she knew she wouldn't be able to avoid them forever, she could only hope that she could make it through the rest of the day without anything awkward being said to her. Turning her attention back to Debbie she was about to say something when Debbie beat her to it.

“Can Allie help me build a sandcastle later?” She asked innocently.

“Don't you think you should ask Allie? Maybe she doesn't want to.” Bea glanced to her side, she had so many things running through her mind right now that getting her thoughts in any kind of order felt like it would be an impossible task.

“Wouldn't you rather have Boomer or Franky help you?” Allie asked as she suddenly felt Beas eyes on her turning her head away from Debbie to meet the brown eyes that she knew she could get lost in in an instant, she'd never met anyone like Bea before and she knew she was in trouble the more time she spent with her, she thought that being with her with other people around might change that now she knew that thought couldn't have been further from the truth. Maybe agreeing to go to the beach with with them had been a mistake, she'd thought that she could easily control her ever growing intense feelings but right in this moment, not seeing any hint of nervousness radiating from Bea everything felt different.

“Boomers sandcastles always fall down and Franky said she wouldn't help me after last time.” Debbie announced.

“What happened?” Allie asked unable to take her eyes off Bea.

“She made me angry so I stomped on hers.” Debbie frowned.

A short time later everyone else had retreated back to the beach leaving Bea and Allie alone.

“Ya want to go for a walk?” Bea asked, she was quite happy sitting there but she could see that Maxine and Liz kept looking back to where they were and knew the possibility of being questioned by one or both of them later was very real. Allie shrugged she didn't care what they did.

The sand was softly golden and radiating just the right amount of comforting warmth back at them as they crossed the beach, the whole place just felt like one big cosy hug that Allie thought could only ever be matched by a hug from Bea, ‘As if that would ever happen,’ Allie thought to herself she knew she was getting ahead of herself and even if Bea ever did hug her she doubted it would mean the same to Bea as it would to her. They stood for a few minutes not far from the waters edge watching Debbie and Boomer playing around in the water.

“They both love it out there and even with that big kid I know she's safe, I mean it's not too deep until you go a fair distance out.”

“You have some interesting friends.” Allie observed.

“Franky kinda ran into Booms by accident.” Bea laughed, “She was called out to a bar fight one night, not one caused by Booms I'm amazed to say they became friends pretty quick and I guess I just got dragged along for the ride, she loves Deb to pieces though so she's not all bad.”

Debbie ran out of the water leaving Boomer behind running straight for her mum and grabbing her hand before reaching for Allies. “Rock pools.” Debbie grinned and dragged them both up the beach to where there were numerous rocks pools.

 

 

 

Everyone sat on the beach for a couple of hours talking, laughing and just generally enjoying each other's company although Maxine, Liz and Franky kept whispering amongst themselves and Bea had even noticed Bridget and Fletch nodding their heads in agreement at whatever was being said. Bea tried to keep her eyes on Debbie as she sat on the sand a few feet away with Allie making sandcastles, her eyes would move from Debbie to the sand to the breaking waves and then to Allie, always lingering longer on Allie each time. Watching Debbie and Allie together took her away to another time, memories that seemed to be from another life, her life when she was as young as Debbie and didn't know that people like Harry and Jake could even exist in the world. The pictures in her mind reminded her of the beaches that they would visit, where the pebbles would crunch beneath her feet or the sand would shift with every step, with every step forward her feet sinking further just like walking on freshly fallen snow. She would stand frozen in place as her eyes would take in the ocean in much the same way Debbie did now, mesmerised by the waves as they rolled in white tipped, spreading themselves like the finest lace over the beach as they crashed softly against the sand. There was never anything noisy about them but she could still remember the sound, it was the music of her childhood, a happy childhood, something she wanted more than anything to be able to give Debbie, wanted her to have summers like she had so long ago now it seemed. If she closed her eyes she was sure she could still hear her mum calling her for lunch as her dad sat peering over his newspaper making sure that she never wondered too far away. Watching Debbie and Allie with her red bucket and spade she smiled, right there in that moment she had nothing to worry about and nothing to fear.

Debbie said something to Allie before getting up and running a little way down the beach laying down in the sand when she found the perfect spot. Bea knew exactly what was going to happen and she laughed when a couple of minutes later she saw Franky leave Bridget's side and walk the short distance to where Debbie was. Allie had returned to sit with Bea and had no idea what Debbie was about to do, Bea didn't look concerned so she didn't say anything just watched on patiently. Franky nudged Debbie with her foot who acted no more alive than a sack of potatoes. She lay still waiting for just the right moment to jump up scattering grains of sand with her arms as she flung them wide roaring at Franky without shame, a no holes barred lung emptying roar like a prehistoric warrior. Franky pretended to be surprised, they had played this game for the last two years and neither of them ever seemed to get tired of it. Debbie grinned wide before taking back off up the beach to where her mum was sitting with Franky chasing her.

Times like this Bea knew was when Franky was happiest, it was almost like she was both her adult self and her childish self simultaneously. As if she had never fully grown up even though Bea knew better she knew Franky had been more of a grown up from a young age than her mum had ever been and the more she got to know Allie the more she thought that she was quite possibly the same. Part of Franky had been left behind in her childhood, probably because she had always had to keep her emotions so tightly reined in. Franky still seemed to retain her innocence and occasionally her childish emotions would come to the surface. The adult Franky had outstanding deductive and analytical powers but deep down she still had the heart of a child, a child like Debbie who had nothing to fear and who had a sense of adventure. She found herself wondering when exactly Franky had locked up her emotions a threw away the key, maybe she thought if Bridget actually did give her a chance, and all the signs were there that she would, that she could be the one to find that key and return it her.

Chapter Text

 

“Come on Red, please…it's not like I'm saying it's a double date or anythin.”

“A date?” Beas stomach was in knots, “Franky I said no besides wouldn't you rather be alone with Bridget?”

“Well yeah…maybe…fuck I don't know, just ask her for fucks sake friends go out to dinner all the time don't they? Ya’ve been out to dinner with me more times than I can even try to remember, come on just for me.” Franky pleaded.

This sounded like one of Franky's not so great ideas, it wasn't as if Bea hated the thought of going to dinner with Allie, they were friends weren't they? She struggled with the concept a little because she just couldn't see why someone like Allie would want to be friends with her, she came with more baggage than most people, still got hung up on memories that she didn't want to have and she came with a five year old to boot.

“If I say I'll ask her will you leave me alone?”

“That's all I'm askin, call Allie and ask her to come out for dinner with us…listen you know I love ya right? And if ya repeat this to anyone, I mean anyone best friend or not I'll kick ya ass but…shit, I'm nervous alright?”

“What was that?” Bea chuckled, “The great Casanova Doyle nervous?”

“Fuck off Red, just for me, just this once do me a favour?”

“Does Bridget know about this idea of yours?”

“I ain't asked her yet okay? I figured if you and blondie would come along she's more likely to agree, I mean yesterday at the beach was great but…well ya know how it is, we didn't spend that much time together an we all know that my names been mud round the hospital for years.”

“Fine.” Bea sighed, “I make no promises, if Allie can't or doesn't want to then I'm not playing third wheel.”

What had she just agreed to? How could she so easily let Franky talk her into something that was…’innocent,’ she told herself. Hell she'd spent the whole afternoon at the beach with Allie there the previous day why would having dinner with her be any different? They wouldn't be alone, but maybe, maybe if she'd just let herself admit it she didn't want to share her time with Allie, she liked the time they spent together, longed for the out of the blue text messages that she'd receive from Allie whenever she had a spare few minutes or was on a break. She smiled so wide the second her name lit up her screen when she called her that she was sure everyone who was around would know exactly what she was thinking and who was calling her. She didn't want dragging into anymore Franky induced drama, didn't want to pull Allie along with her into anything that had the potential to become messy and messy was how Franky's relationships usually ended up, not that Franky had real relationships, had her childhood really left her so broken, so emotionally crippled that actually committing to one woman was well out of the realms of all possibility?

Calling Allie was no big deal, shouldn't be a big deal it was dinner with friends wasn't it? ‘Who's friends?’ She wondered, Franky was Beas best friend, Allie worked with Bridget, maybe they could be considered friends, after all Allie had admitted that to her that she hadn't really got to know anyone all that well since she started working at the hospital and she did seem to get on well with Bridget. ‘Fuck!’ Bea internally screamed at herself, what was wrong with her, yes she knew what everyone else was thinking, they may not have said it outright but she knew, she watched them whispering yesterday saw the way Liz and especially Maxine had kept her eyes on them. Franky had hinted more than once that Allie like Bea and of course Franky was an expert, she wondered if she'd missed something Allie hadn't done or said anything that made her think she wanted anything more than to just be friends. Was that all Bea wanted? She couldn't even begin to try telling herself that she hadn't found herself watching her yesterday, watching how easily Debbie accepted someone new in their small group without batting an eyelid, fell so easily into a comfortable conversation with her, laughed and built sandcastles with someone she'd only met a few short hours ago. She couldn't really see a time already when Allie wouldn't be around, didn't even want to think about it. She looked at her phone willing it to ring so she wouldn't have to place this call because she couldn't quite get her head round what she was feeling, if it was real or just some misguided lack of judgement, thoughts that betrayed every instinct she'd had since she'd finally been freed from Harry. Taking a deep breath she stopped thinking, overthink everything was what she did and right now wasn't the time for it, it was just dinner at their favourite diner, a place where she'd hung out with her friends more times than she could even remember, a place even Debbie loved to go there was no harm in it after all.

“Did you not get tired of my voice yesterday?” Allie giggled as she answered the call faster than Bea had anticipated that she would.

“Didn't you get tired of mine? I mean I did go on a bit.” Bea threw back trying to forget that she was nervous.

“Yeah…but then I didn't know any of that stuff so it was well worth it, now did ya want something or do ya just miss me?”

“What?…I…err…”

“Bea relax I'm only joking…you did want something though I presume?”

“Yeah…so Franky asked if you wanted to meet us, her and Bridget really…shit this isn't sounding like I planned it to, I'll start over.” Bea paused trying to collect her thoughts enough to get them out of her mouth in a sentence that might actually make sense. “Okay, so Franky wants to take Bridget to our favourite diner for dinner but for some inexplicable reason she asked if we'd go with them, you can say no if you don't want to and I wouldn't blame you if you did, I mean shit she hasn't even asked Bridget yet.”

“Hang on so Franky wants you and I to go on a date with her and Bridget?”

“That's not what I said.” Bea laughed nervously.

“That came out a little wrong I think now it's my turn to start again. Franky wants to take Bridget to dinner but doesn't want to be alone with her…wait, is Franky nervous?”

“You did not hear that from me, anything Franky said to me I'm not repeating.”

“You don't have to.” Allie giggled, every time she'd encountered Franky she always seemed so confident, maybe a little too confident. “This could be interesting so I think I'll have to say yes.”

“Are ya sure? You know what Franky's like.”

“I'm becoming very aware of what she's like, every time she comes into the emergency department I hear new stories about her and not just from the nurses, I had a patient the other day….never mind…it might be fun to watch Franky squirm for a while don't ya think?”

“Maybe, so I should call her back and agree to this?”

“Isn't that what I just said?”

 

 

 

“Mummy!” Debbie's voice echoed round the the garage as Bea stood in front of the bench stripping down the carburettor of her much loved Harley Sportster.

“Yes Deb.”

“Can you take me to the park after lunch?” Debbie appeared at the garage door with her hands on her hips.

“Mummy you're making a big mess in here, Gma Liz is gonna be so cross with you when I tell her.”

Bea couldn't hold back her laugh, Debbie could be so serious.

“I'll just finish this and come in and get cleaned up.”

Debbie skipped off quite happily as Bea turned her attention back to what she was doing. She loved her bike, it had been her dads and when her parents returned to New Zealand he'd given it to her much to the annoyance and disgust of Harry. He'd threatened to get rid of it every time they argued but he'd never followed through on the threat. Not wanting to give him any more excuses to complain about it she'd tucked it away in the back of their garage and never ridden it. When she'd moved in with Liz Franky had made a special effort to encourage her to ride but again it had been put in the garage and left until she finally decided that she should make the effort to do the repairs that it had needed for years so maybe she'd finally get back into riding. If she ever found the time to get it put back together now that she'd taken it apart.

After lunch Bea found herself sitting alone on a bench in the park while Debbie ran around not settling for one thing she liked best in the park because Debbie didn't like just one thing, she ran between the slide and the monkey bars calling out to Bea to watch her every few minutes, not that Bea had taken her eyes away from her daughter since they arrived. The air was cooler today and there was a light breeze, the park was awash with the ever changing multi coloured offerings from the trees and it seemed that every breath of fresh air she took filled Debbie with a sense of life that made her want to shout louder just so that she could enjoy the sound of her own voice making Bea smile, she was happy even if Bea thought that she was missing out on something, something Bea wished she could give her but didn't ever envisage a time in her life that she would ever be able to now. Harry had made sure that Bea would forever be stuck with the thoughts that a real family that involved two parents was impossible for her to give her, but she was happy wasn't she even if she did see the odd flash of sadness in her eyes when she watched other children who had two people that clearly loved them. She had a family, maybe not by blood but did that really matter, what did any of it matter as long as she was happy and healthy? Bea sat and watched as the other children played on the various colourful play equipment while their parents kept a watchful eye on them. She heard the dogs barking as they ran around and they almost drowned out the cries of the baby that was crying not too far away.

“Liz said I'd find ya hear.” Franky mumbled as she took a seat beside her.

“Shit! Franky don't sneak up on me like that.”

“Sorry…so um…ya didn't mind me askin ya to come along tonight? I mean, shit Red I don't remember ever being this nervous.”

Bea snorted, it was rare she ever saw Franky nervous about anything, actually she was sure she couldn't actually remember the last time Franky had displayed any sign of being nervous. “What have you got to be nervous about?”

“Nothin…everythin…hey I'm human ya know, give me break would ya?”

“Yeah, yeah…so to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?”

“Ah ya know, just needed to stretch my legs…so ya gonna tell me what's with you and Allie?”

Bea turned her head sharply to look directly at Franky expecting to see her usual cocky grin looking back at her. “We're friends Franky something wrong with that?”

“Na…but ya think I ain't seen the way she looks at ya? The way ya look at her?”

“Fuck off Franky I don't look at her any differently than the way I look at you!” Bea did not want to be having this conversation not now, not ever.

“Really?”

“Yes really, besides Franky I'm not gay!”

“Yeah an I'm the fuckin pope.”

“Ya suddenly found religion have ya? Seen the error of your ways?” Bea laughed a little louder than she intended to.

Franky opened her mouth to say something but changed her mind, she didn't want to argue with her best friend over something she clearly wasn't even fully aware of herself yet. It didn't matter if Bea didn't recognise what was plain to everyone else around her she would eventually, Franky just hoped that it wouldn't take forever and that she wouldn't try to run when she did or that it would end up being too late.

“Nothing in life is right or wrong when it comes to your happiness, even you have to have an end destination in mind. You were dealt a shit hand but that doesn't mean you should give up completely, there's someone out there for everyone, even you, that dick head wasn't it so don't ya dare give up on being happy.”

“I am happy Franky.” Even as the words left Beas mouth she wasn't sure if she was trying to convince Franky or herself.

Franky thought about what she was going to say next as she watched Debbie running around with a couple of the other kids. “Seems to me ya see what ya have right now as your only permanent solution, know what I see? I see a smart, caring person letting themselves stay stuck with something that wasn't their fault because they feel like there's nowhere else to go, not everyone is the same Red, not everyone only wants to hurt you, Allie doesn't wanna hurt ya. An look I know it's your journey and you get to decide but don't let somethin pass ya by because ya were too scared to hold onto it. It's time to pay more attention to the little things around ya, time to create something good, take a leap of faith.”

“Is that what your doing Franky?”

“I'm not talking about me.” Franky waved her hand, dismissing that question entirely, she knew she was she didn't need to say it out loud. “I better get goin…you just think about what I said yeah?”

 

 

 

Bea knew what Franky had said made sense, and she knew Franky saw more than she had actually said. She couldn't deny the feeling she got when Allie was around no matter how unfamiliar it was. Now she was beginning to regret agreeing to Franky's request to join them at the diner, she was sure that Franky would be fine without her there and now more than ever she couldn't help feel that Franky was just trying to push her and Allie together, not that if she was completely honest with herself she needed any encouragement or pushing towards spending more time with Allie. She had never needed many friends, Allie hadn't seemed like the sort of person she'd ever be friends with, when they first met Bea knew she'd been too hard nosed and closed off after all Allie was only trying to be friendly although after spending more time with her Bea knew she was like that with most people, even Franky. Bea was sure she had all the friends she needed so what was it with Allie? Franky hadn't left her alone for a second the whole time they were at the AFP college and then she'd stuck close to her once they were in Melbourne, then Franky met Boomer and she became her friend without too much trouble, maybe the few drunken nights out they'd had hadn't hurt their friendship grow though. Maxine she'd known for almost as long as she'd known Liz, Maxine had started working for Liz not long after Bea started working for her and she'd always tried chatting to Bea even when she had her head buried in a book and didn't want to engage in any kind of conversation with anyone.

Sitting at the edge of her bed after bathing Debbie she had no idea what she was doing, Allie was different, saying they were only ever going to be friends had seemed like the best thing to do when Franky first brought up the subject of Allie, and earlier in the park, was Franky really trying to be subtle for once in her life? Bea had thought about little else for the last few hours and as much as she was looking forward to seeing Allie she was nervous about seeing her with Franky around. Finally jumping in the shower and getting ready to leave the house had felt like it had taken hours even though it had taken her a lot less than an hour.

Allie was having her own struggle, she was tired after doing an extended yoga class and now she was trying to push that tired feeling to the back of her mind while she drank a strong black coffee and trying unsuccessfully to piece together her outfit options in her head, Bea wouldn't notice if she went with black jeans again would she? ‘Why the hell am I even worrying about it?’ She asked herself, it was dinner with friends, dinner in Bea and Franky's favourite diner so it would more than likely be a burger and fries, if that was what Franky considered a date she was glad it was Bridget that had caught her eye, Franky, Allie thought might be smart but lacked imagination, especially if she needed to drag Bea along for moral support, Franky had never struck Allie as needing anyone's back up but maybe she wasn't as confident as she like to convince people she was.

She had to have a shower and after her yoga class she knew that was going to be an hour long process in and of itself. It was only after emerging from the shower that she realised that she hadn't bothered to remove her makeup before and now her mascara looked as if it had turned into a Halloween mask. ‘Of all the days you could choose to be so forgetful.” She scolded herself as she spent the next ten minutes trying to wash it off. Once she decided that she no longer resembled a raccoon she decided to text Bridget to ask what what she was wearing. Bridget was no help and Allie eventually realised that she shouldn't need help deciding what to wear but sadly she still couldn't decide. Thirty minutes later every item of clothing she owned was either thrown on the bed or the floor but finally she had figured out what she was going to wear, she went with the safe option of all black. After she'd done her hair and makeup she spent another ten minutes making sure she had everything she needed in her bag and after double checking she was finally satisfied that she was ready to leave her apartment.

When Allie arrived at the diner she was a little disappointed that only Franky and Bridget were there.

“Thought Red would have been with ya.” Franky grinned across the table as Allie sat in front of Bridget.

“We agreed to make our own way here, it's not like either of us have to come far anyway.” Allie sighed a little, she'd hoped that her and Bea would get there first but she guessed that maybe she had things to take care of at home.

Franky nodded as she watched Allie turn her head towards the door when someone came in, disappointment etched on her face when she didn't see Bea.

Bea hovered outside the door taking a couple of deep breaths to try and steady her increasingly fraying nerves, it made no sense to her, she couldn't remember feeling this nervous before when she'd met up with Allie. The previous day she hadn't even given it a second thought when she'd picked her up to go to the beach. Everything Franky had said to her earlier in the day had been on repeat in her head for the last few hours and now she was more nervous than she thought she ought to be. As she reached for the door she thought that she should just turn around and go home, call Franky and make an excuse, tell her Debbie wasn't feeling well, that Liz wasn't feeling well and couldn't expect her to look out for Debbie even though she was tucked up in bed. She could do this, there was nothing to it right and she'd hate to be the reason that Allie got hurt just because she couldn't pull herself together enough to sit in a place she knew well and eat with her.

Walking into the diner she spotted Allie long before she saw Franky grinning back at her and she felt guilty for not arriving sooner, she'd left the house in plenty of time but getting cold feet as she'd got closer she'd driven round the block a few times trying to calm herself down. Seeing Allie instantly calmed her down and she forgot why she was even worried in the first place. Walking over to where they were sitting Bea tried to not give Franky anything that she could use against her either now or when they were alone but no matter how hard she tried to concentrate on anything other than Allie her eyes would drift in her direction.

“You're late Red, Deb givin ya a hard time or did ya just have a wardrobe malfunction?”

“Piss off Franky, I just lost track of time you sayin ya never do that?”

Franky shrugged and ran her tongue across her teeth. “Yeah, yeah…ya here now sit down already.”

Taking her seat next to Allie she could feel Franky watching her and as hard as she tried not to look at Allie it was impossible not to, impossible for either of them not to look at each other and get lost lost in each other's eyes for a few seconds. Bea wasn't exactly sure how she even got to this point, had no idea where her feelings were coming from but looking into Allies eyes she was sure that she wasn't the only one wishing that they were anywhere else but sitting here with Franky watching them. Allie felt her heart thud in her chest, the same way it had done the previous day, who was she kidding it had happened every time they were together and more often than not just thinking about Bea caused the same reaction.

“So we gonna order or are the two of ya just gonna sit staring at each other?” Franky chuckled.

“Franky!” Bridget said in exasperation, “Leave them alone.”

Franky looked down at the table, it wasn't that she was trying to tease her best friend, well maybe just a little, she'd never thought she'd ever see Bea so happy to be around anyone other than Debbie. She didn't mean anything by it really it was just the way Franky dealt with situations that out of the ordinary, and after Harry and Beas insistence that she would never get close to anyone again it was either tease her a little or tell her exactly what she saw and she knew the latter would do nothing but freak Bea out and that was the last thing she wanted to do.

The rest of the evening Franky remained upbeat but chose her words more carefully as the four of them ate and chatted quite happily until it was time to pay and then Allie and Bridget sat back watching them argue who was going to take care of the bill.

“Fuck off Red I invited you.”

“Yeah and how often do we actually do this anymore?”

“Ha, we've neva done this.” Franky stopped and glanced at Bridget then Allie, she'd never thought it would be possible to be sitting here with Bea like this, Bea Smith who until now had stressed that no one was ever going to break down the wall that she built around herself, the same person who was so obviously so smitten with Allie that Franky doubted she had even noticed that all her previous efforts to keep everyone away from her had started to fail allowing that wall to crumble into dust around her feet.

“I'll do ya a deal.” Franky spoke again, “I'll pay half you pay half, can't be any fairer than that.”

Bea nodded in agreement completely ignoring the fact that Allie and Bridget were both giggling at what they had just witnessed happen between them.

 

 

 

Allie and Bridget had already walked out of the diner leaving Bea and Franky once more bickering about something else, sometimes they acted like a pair of teenagers still, and Allie and Bridget had decided that they would just leave them to it.

“Don't worry about it, you haven't known them that long sometimes they are much better behaved than this.” Bridget laughed as they walked out of the diner.

Crossing the car park Allie noticed someone running in her direction but thought nothing of it, it wasn't really late, the area was well lit, it must just be some stupid kid being chased by his mates she thought. Bea spotted him in a heartbeat, Jake, and he was heading straight for Allie, the second she walked out into the cool night air her eyes found Allie and spotted the figure running towards her recognising him instantly as she took off running leaving Franky slightly stunned until she looked at the scene unfolding before her eyes.

Jake hadn't seen Bea at first, he'd heard sirens and took off running, he knew leaving the house was a mistake so early in the evening but he needed air and had set off walking with no destination in mind. He almost collided with Allie but was stopped in his tracks by Bea, his thoughts went crazy, how could he get away, she was faster than him, running wasn't a plan she'd catch him in no time. Before he could think of anything he felt a sharp uppercut to his chin and he bit down on his lip causing it to bleed, he could taste the blood in his mouth, leaking around his teeth and over his lip. Bea saw red the second she spotted him, images of Natasha along with images of what Harry had once so brutally inflicted upon her mixed in her head as she hit him again and again only stopping when Franky pulled her off and Jake slumped to the ground in agony. His face looked mangled, his nose was obviously broken and his face was covered in blood.

“The fuck Red!” Franky almost screamed at her, “Ya can't do this, you're better than him.”

“I'm gunna kill the fucker.” Bea growled through gritted teeth.

“No, no ya not…Bridget's calling the police ya gotta stop.” Franky placed her hands on Beas shoulders, she'd never seen her this angry before, never seen a look of pure hatred in her eyes like this before. “Ya gotta calm down Red….look at me!” Franky demanded finally getting her attention. “Fucks sake Red, he ain't worth it…an…an your fuckin scarin Allie, is that what ya want? Ya want her to think your a complete nutter who can't control her temper?”

Bea took a deep breath, she didn't want anyone to see her like this and especially not Allie, she wasn't even sure where that amount of rage even came from. As she calmed down she looked over at Allie who was standing next to Bridget, she didn't look scared but maybe she just hid it well, Bea realised where her anger came from, seeing Jake running up on Allie, she wasn't going to let her fall victim to him not as long as she had breath in her lungs, she didn't know if he was going after Allie part of her doubted he was but it wasn't a chance she was willing to take.

“I'm fine Franky…let me go.” Bea breathed almost too afraid to look at Allie again.

Franky let her go before walking over to the bloody mess on the floor that was Jake, his eyes were already swollen and blood was spilling from his slack jaw, he looked as truly revolting as she knew he was and she knew that now his outside appearance reflected what was on the inside. He was a cockroach who had taken an oath to uphold the law just like she had but he wasn't out to protect anyone but himself. She was glad it was Bea who'd caught him, he deserved what she'd done to him and she hoped that he'd have a few scars for life to remind him that you just don't mess with a woman who been on the receiving end of a mans fists, because when she recovers from that, finds her feet again she'll be badder than anyone could ever imagine. She took a step back and wrinkled up her nose in disgust, it was tempting to crouch down next to him and whisper in his ear, tell him that he was weak and broken and he'd lost.

A police car arriving made Beas heart thump in her chest harder than ever, all it needed was for Jake to tell them who had done that to him and her career would almost certainly be over.

“Well, well, well…now who do we have here?” Fletch asked as he walked over to where Jake was laying.

“Fletch?” Bea almost choked.

“Picked up an extra shift, seems we have a few rotten apples in the barrel and we just caught up with one of em…clumsy fucker ain't he?” Fletch grinned as he looked between Bea and Franky. “Don't look so worried Bea he ain't gonna tell anyone a woman kicked his ass, ain't that right Jakey Boy?”

Chapter Text

 

Bea arrived home to a pitch black house and tiptoed inside not wanting to wake Liz or Debbie. How could she have done that? It wasn't like Jake didn't deserve a beating, he deserved way more than what she'd given him in her opinion but why had she been that stupid to let her anger explode especially in front of Allie? Fletch was probably right he wouldn't tell anyone who had done it since it was a woman who'd messed his face up. If Franky hadn't have been there she wouldn't have stopped, in a matter of moments she had snapped and in her mind it wasn't Jakes face she was driving her fists into it was Harry's. Heading to he kitchen she retrieved a beer from the fridge and sat at the table drinking half the bottle in one go before sitting with her head in her hands. Why now after all this time she wondered to herself had she snapped like that? She'd been the arresting officer a few months after Harry's death when another officer had beaten his wife so badly that she was left in a coma for weeks after she'd forgotten he'd gone out and wouldn't be back until late, something just like Harry used to do, he'd been too drunk to find his keys when he got home expecting his wife to have waited up for him but she had locked the house up before going to bed. When her and Fletch had arrived at the house it was carnage and Bea hadn't lost her temper, she was calm, pushed her own thoughts and feelings to the back of her mind, placed him in handcuffs and walked him out of the house and sat in him in the back of the patrol car while Fletch had stayed in the house with the paramedics. What Jake had done had been nothing on that scale, Natasha should be going home soon not still laying unconscious in a hospital bed. Her phone rang in her pocket but she ignored it, she couldn't deal with Franky right now.

Allie just couldn't settle, she moved from the kitchen to the living room and back to the kitchen before she'd decided that she should just go to bed. Sitting on her bed she pulled her phone from her pocket, she couldn't deny she was worried about Bea, it had seemed so unlike her. Something told her that Bea hadn't told her everything that Harry had done but she'd never wanted to question her further after she opened up to her, if Bea wanted to tell her more she'd quite happily wait until she was ready. She didn't want to upset her and she knew that if Bea wanted to talk she would in her own time but now she just  wanted to know, needed to know that she was going to be alright. It wasn't too late, yes she had to be at work at 0700 but Beas well being was the only thing Allie cared about, she hadn't even asked what shift Bea was on and calling her and getting no answer just made her worry more.

‘Maybe she really doesn't want to talk to you.’ She said to herself as she felt the tears threatening to fall. That couldn't be it, she as sure of that and began to wonder if maybe Bea had lost her phone when she had hit Jake. Maybe that was it or was it that she was ashamed of letting Allie see her lose control like that? Was she really ignoring her because of something like that? Allies decision was fast and unshakable as she hurried out of her apartment still pulling her jacket on before getting in her car. Trying one more time to get an answer from Bea on the phone it went to voicemail, when she didn't pick up she set off in the direction of Liz’s house, Bea was going to talk to her one way or another even if it was to tell her to piss off as she slammed the door in her face.

Allie sat outside the house seeing it was in complete darkness, maybe this was the one of the most stupid mistake she'd ever made in her life but she knew unless she was sure Bea was okay she wouldn't get any sleep and trying to work the next morning would be almost impossible, either lack of sleep or worry, most likely a mixture of both, would effect everything she had to do and putting a patients life at risk because she was too distracted to concentrate properly wasn't something she was willing to risk. She tried calling Bea once more before she got out of the car, with every passing second as the phone rang out she felt as if her lungs were filling with water, like there was just no space for the air anymore. Taking deeper breaths to try inflating her lungs properly just felt as if she had a lead weight on her chest that she couldn't move. She sucked in the air that felt so thick that it may as well be treacle as the call went to voicemail once again.

‘Damn it Bea!’ Allie cursed quietly to herself even though she felt as though she wanted to scream it at the top of her voice.

Walking to the front door she felt as though she was out of breath, if Bea was inside and would talk to her she wasn't even sure now if she would be able to get any words out. With every step forward it felt like every breath was more of a wheeze, like air escaping from a slowly deflating balloon. Every step she took towards the door started to feel as if she were walking on quicksand and her feet were encased in concrete. She kept going though no matter how hard it felt because she knew that if she got to speak to Bea even if it were only for a few seconds she wouldn't feel as if she were drowning in air anymore. Coming to a stop she inhaled deeply before tapping on the door, this wasn't the best idea and she knew it, Debbie would be asleep and she didn't want to wake her. Tapping a little louder she listened hoping to hear something but there was nothing. She figured she was going to have to admit defeat and was just about to walk away when she heard a voice, quiet and a little muffled but she'd recognise that voice anywhere, Beas voice.

“Fuck off Franky, I don't wanna talk to ya.”

Allie pressed her forehead against the door before she spoke. “Ya know if you'd open the door you'd find I'm not Franky.” Allie said with a smile, she didn't feel like the situation called for the smile on her face but hearing Beas voice, knowing that she was at least safe at home gave her something to smile about.

Bea closed her eyes, the last person she expected was Allie, Franky sure, she'd delight in giving her a punch by punch reenactment of what she'd done before she got serious and sat her down telling her that she should never tell anyone what had actually happened. She hadn't hung around long enough to see Jake picked up from the floor and put in the back of the patrol car, hadn't bothered to check that Allie wasn't freaking out after witnessing her out of character outburst. Bea would never hit first and ask questions later at least not normally. Opening the door slowly she couldn't make eye contact with Allie, she was ashamed of herself, she had no excuse, the images in her head had spun, collided and warped into something she didn't recognise and she couldn't stop it from happening, Jake Stewart deserved to know what it felt like to be beaten to a pulp and part of her was glad she'd been the one to do it.

“Ya wanna come in?” Bea mumbled not wanting look up and see even a hint of disappointment looking back at her.

“Don't mind if I do…but only if ya want me to.” Allie smiled, she was still speaking to her, not a great deal but at least she had something to work with, she'd have that smile back on her face even if she did have to stay awake half the night.

Bea stepped to the side as she opened the door wider allowing Allie to enter the house before she closed the door quietly.

“So ya like sitting in the dark huh?”

Bea shrugged her shoulders still surprised that Allie even wanted to speak to her after what she'd witnessed. “Thought I scared ya…I didn't mean to, I mean I'm not like that…don't know what happened.”

“Can we sit down?” Allie asked, it seemed that Bea wanted to talk about it and she was more than willing to listen she just didn't think standing up for that kind of conversation was the best way forward for either of them.

“Yeah course, you sure ya wanna stay?” The uncertainty in her voice was hard to hide from Allie who stood right in front of her wishing she could make everything better, take every bad experience she had ever had and throw it away with the garbage.

“I came over here because I was worried about you, I'm not going anywhere.”

Bea needed a drink, it wouldn't help her sort through the chaotic thoughts that had begun to spiral unmercifully in her head again but it might help to ease the knot that had formed in her stomach the second she had realised that Allie, no matter what she'd witnessed, no matter how hard it might have been to see was the only one who cared enough to go in search of her. “Want a drink? I've got beer or I can make tea…coffee, think Deb might not have drunk all the juice.”

“I'll have whatever you're having.” Allie said softly as she followed Bea through the darkened house to the kitchen.

“Beer it is then.” Bea mumbled as she opened the fridge door to grab two bottles. “I'm sorry…earlier, I don't know…can't explain what happened.” Bea said as she sat down slipping a bottle across the table. “I saw him…saw Jake and he was running directly at you…he won't even remember who you are, won't remember that we know each other, I just…I thought…” Bea trailed off, the words were stuck in her head, "I just...I saw Jake but I didn't if that makes any sense, it wasn't just him it was Harry and...I couldn't stop myself." She felt like a ghost in a world full of paper dolls, a ghost in her own machine, running through time and space searching in the blackness for something, anything that could make what she'd done make sense. Everything else in the world apart from Allie was just noise, a distraction from saying what mattered and even though Allie was right there with her she still felt alone in the dark.

“You didn't scare me…I mean I'm not scared of you, I know you don't act like that normally.” Allie said as she slid her hand across the table and gently entwined her fingers with Beas. “Franky told me who he was after you left so I can see why you reacted like that, I get it okay? Besides I always had him pegged as a creep remember? But I was worried about you, wouldn't be here now otherwise would I?”

Bea froze, Allies hand against hers caught her completely off guard but it wasn't unwelcome, she tried to remember the last time she'd ever been in the same room as someone who really didn't seem to want anything from her, everyone always wanted something wasn't that just the way other people were? It didn't matter who it was Franky, Liz, Debbie they would always want something, not that she could ever complain about Debbie she was after all meant to be responsible for her even if sometimes she felt like she couldn't even be responsible for herself. The only other person who'd ever wanted to be this close to her was Debbie, her hand would slip into Beas even if they were only watching cartoons and with the exception of one night when she'd been out with Franky and one of her exes showed up she couldn't remember a time anyone other than Debbie had held onto her hand. Bea laughed lightly to herself at the memory of that night, it wasn't that Franky was trying to get rid of her ex by trying to convince her that she was with Bea that she'd found funny it was the simple fact that Franky had refused to let go as soon as Kim had disappeared off into the night. This wasn't the same though, Allie had no need to want to hold onto her, Bea wasn't even sure she could understand why Allie would even worry about her but she did, at least she said she did and Bea had no reason not to believe her.

“You shouldn't worry about me.” Bea said so quietly that Allie thought she didn't want to her to hear what she said.

“Why? You just took off…not that I think you'd do anything extreme, too many people need ya…even me.”

In the dark kitchen Allies words seemed louder than they really were as they echoed in Beas head, the ticking of the clock should be relaxing but right now it was an annoyance. “Ya don't need me, no one except Debbie ever has and I didn't do a great job of being a mother before…well ya know, one day she won't need me anymore, one day she'll remember what a poor excuse for a mum I've been and she'll hate me. You shouldn't stay around me Allie, there are plenty of other people in this world so much more worthy of being able to call you their friend.” Bea voice cracked, as much as she didn't want to push Allie away, as much as she'd miss her eventually Allie would realise that she Bea wasn't worth the effort and leave, she may as well make it easier for her.

“I told you I'm not going anywhere, if you didn't want me here you shouldn't have let me in because now you're stuck with me and trust me I can be so annoying when I don't get what I want.”

“And what is it that you want?” Bea regretted asking that question as soon as she'd said it, it sounded stupid, sounded as if she really didn't know anything, didn't see the way Allie had always looked at her. She didn't need anyone to point it out to her, she hadn't from that first night but she'd brushed it off the second Franky started teasing her about it. Bea knew her own feelings were confusing the hell out of her, she'd told herself that it wasn't real, that it was all because Allie had always been so nice to her and that was something strange to her, that Allie couldn't really be interested in someone like her even just as a friend, Bea was fine, Bea didn't need anyone else, Bea was happy and she was never going to let another single living person get close enough to hurt her again. From the second she'd walked back into the house she felt like she'd fucked up, shown Allie a version of herself that in reality didn't really exist and now all her thoughts and fears felt like a never ending dark void that was about to consume everything until she was feeling nothing. She didn't want to feel empty anymore, didn't want to feel like she belonged in the shadows because what other human being would want someone so repulsive, so useless? As hard as it was to believe that Allie didn't see her as she saw herself she was trying to see something different in herself, find a little glimmer of self belief and let Allie in.

Allie squeezed Beas hand a little harder, “I want you to see what other people see when they look at you, I want you to see what I see and I'll be here everyday telling you what I see if I have to until you believe it.”

 

 

 

 

Bea wanted to know what had upset Allie at the beach, she'd shrugged it off then and Bea had let it go not wanting to upset her further and ruin their afternoon and after watching her with Debbie she'd not regretted that decision but now it was bothering her again, made her feel that maybe Allie didn't trust her enough to tell her what was on her mind or what had been so bad in her life that she felt she had to keep it to herself.

“Can I ask you something?” Bea wasn't sure if asking right now was a good idea and she didn't want to upset her but she wanted her to know that she could tell her anything.

“Sure, what do ya wanna know?” Allie knew she was going to ask, she couldn't say she hadn't expected it after the way she'd been at the beach even if it had only been for a few minutes. Telling Bea how her life had been for so many years scared her, there was always the chance that she wouldn't want to ever speak to her again but it was a risk she had to take, Bea had been honest with her even though Allie was sure there was way more to it than she'd said.

“Not here, bring your beer and we'll sit on sofa yeah?”

Allie sat further away from Bea than she'd ever done when they were alone, this was something she'd put off telling Bea and now she was nervous, very few people knew anything about Allies life when she was growing up, even her grandparents had never known the whole story. All the reasons that she shouldn't tell Bea the whole truth came flooding back and she felt the panic rise. She could say she had to go, an early shift meant she needed to sleep and for a few seconds she considered getting up, leaving and never looking back. Maybe she'd still have to do this all over again though another time so wasn't it just better to get it all out in the open now no matter what the outcome? The storm that was raging inside of her wasn't because of Bea, she feared her reaction, maybe because it was Bea she feared her rejection even more but she would always fear other people's reactions. The damage had been done a long time ago and she knew her fear just came from another place in time that had no connection to Bea at all.

“You don't have to say anything, I'm not going to make you…if it's too painful…”

“It's not that, I mean it is…some of it is…” Allie looked around the room, she could run but what would be the point? She'd be thrown out pretty soon she was quite certain of that. “I..I told you my dad left when I was five, I loved him so much, I did almost everything with him mum was never interested in me…after he left mum said he didn't love me anymore and that he didn't want me. Yesterday at the beach I just remembered when he used to take me out and he took me out a lot, it wasn't like mum gave a crap all I remember about her at the time was that she was either laying in bed all day or shouting at him…” Allie squeezed her eyes shut, even now she could still hear her mum's voice shouting and screaming at her dad, hear the dishes breaking as she threw them at him but he never once retaliated something Allie wasn't sure she would have been able to stop herself from doing. “He was just gone one day and I was left with mum, we had to move because she couldn't afford the house and it was a shitty neighbourhood that we moved to, she started leaving me alone while she went out at night drinking and getting high…the truth…truth is she got me into drugs by the time I was eight it was only weed then but I got into way more than that as time went on. I was a mess, my grandparents took me to live with them but I didn't want to change by then guess I thought that was just how my life was always going to be. No idea really how I managed to graduate high school, I put them through so much and they told me I either cleaned up my act or left so I just left they wanted me to change and I didn't see the point so I just up and walked away, thought I'd be okay on my own, ended up on the streets…I should be dead just like mum…I…I found the strength to ask for help and here I am…so I should just leave right?…You're one of the best people I've ever met and I'm so glad I met you, guess you don't want someone like me being around Debbie, not the best influence am I?” Allie wiped a stray tear away, Beas silence was deafening and for the first time in a few years she felt like the most disgusting person in the whole world, she'd been offered help and never engaged with it always choosing to do as she pleased. As hard as she tried she couldn't hold back her tears anymore as she waited silently for Bea to tell her to leave.

Bea hadn't expected any of what Allie told her and just didn't know what to say, couldn't wrap her head around how her mum could have done that to her as her thoughts drifted to Debbie who was sound asleep in her bed. She couldn't imagine how a mother could do that, she didn't know why but she scooted closer to Allie, reaching out she gently wiped her tears away before wrapping her arms around her. Nothing would normally make Bea react this way, the only person she ever held was Debbie, Franky would hug her and she'd always wriggle out of it because even though she knew Franky would never do anything to hurt her she never felt comfortable.

“Why would ever think that? Nothing that happened to you was your fault, you were only a kid. I can't blame you and it doesn't matter to me, your mum had no right to do that to you. You haven't seen Deb when she sulks, if I told her she wasn't going to see you again trust me she'd sulk for the next five years.” Bea chuckled trying to lighten the mood a little. “Deb doesn't normally speak to strangers, if I hadn't have known any better yesterday I would have sworn that she'd known you all her life.”

“You don't want me to leave?” Allie whispered through her sobs.

“Did I not make myself clear enough? No, I don't, you're living proof that your nothing like your mum, you wanted help and you found it, so it took you a little time to know that you needed it that's just life and being young we all make mistakes when we're young, your past is exactly that your past, it's not who you are now.”

Allie rested her head against Beas shoulder, she hadn't cried this much since she moved into the transitional house when she had no real idea what she was going to do or if she would actually be any good at anything. Kaz had been there for her in a way but she never remembered anyone else ever really being there for her, actually taking an interest in anything she had to say, with Bea everything seemed different, she finally felt safe and after telling her everything she finally felt like a weight had been lifted. They remained sat in silence for a while before Allie found her voice again.

“I need to get going.” Allie mumbled.

“I guess you do…I meant what I said though, you're amazing, to have lived through that and to be where you are now, that would have crushed a lot of people.”

Allie smiled weakly, meeting Bea felt nothing short of a miracle and she didn't plan on letting her go anytime soon even if they would never be any more than friends and Allie still felt like that was more than she deserved. Bea walked Allie to her car, she couldn't find the words to say what she felt, that she didn't want to miss a single second of time that she could spend with her it was an unfamiliar feeling and definitely one she'd never though she'd experience. She'd heard people say it, that being separated from someone you cared about so deeply could actually feel like physical pain and she'd though they were crazy since the only person she thought she could ever feel that way about was Debbie.

“Call me?” Bea asked.

“You can count on it.” Allie winked back at her as she slipped into her car.

 

 

 

Bea couldn't sleep, all she could think about was what Allie had told her. She couldn't begin to fathom how any parent could treat their child that way, but then she couldn't understand how Harry, who'd once claimed he loved her, could have done the things he'd done. For so long she'd felt nothing but emptiness although she'd always considered herself to be a master at hiding it, masked it with a smile because no one was ever going to ask her why she was smiling. She never thought she could get away from the emptiness, every nightmare she'd ever had only ever seemed to make it grow a little more. That emptiness for her had seemed like the imaginary monster Debbie said lived under her bed and she was sometimes so scared of it and then Allie walked in all smiles and softly spoken words and something changed, shifted slightly. She didn't feel completely empty anymore, she wasn't sure if what she was feeling was happiness or not but it sat on her chest like a pleasing weight that she didn't want to let slip away again.

Allie slipped into bed exhausted, it was exhausting reliving her past, it was exhausting even more so because she'd been so convinced that Bea would throw her out of the house before she'd even told her everything. Closing her eyes she couldn't even remember a time that Bea hadn't been supportive, after the burglary she'd had no need to help her, no need to take her home with her but she had, she could have told her where to go when she'd suggested going to her yoga class but she'd just agreed on the condition Allie joined her at the gym. What ever they were going to be Allie wouldn't, couldn't ever see a time when she could willingly walk away from Bea and not regret it.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Jake stirred slightly slowly trying to raise his head from the pillow that his head was resting on as he quickly realised how futile his efforts were when he had to bite his lip to stop himself from crying out in pain. A sharp pain cut through his head and colourful spots flashed in front of his closed eyelids, it felt as if his whole body had been punched and kicked and every slight move caused some part of his body to ache. He had no idea where he was or how he got there, as curiosity got the better of him and he slowly opened his swollen eyes not expecting the dismal view that confronted him. Drab magnolia walls and a heavy blue door slowly came into focus and he knew he was in a hospital room. He stared hard at the door, it was right in front of him but everything in him told him that it was probably locked, and even if it wasn't he didn't want to know who or what was behind it. He slid his eyes sideways and tried to raise his arm but the handcuffs that were attached to the bed stopped him from lifting it more than a few inches.

“What the fuck!” He mumbled under his breath, he couldn't remember getting here, had no clue why he was in the hospital and much less why he would be handcuffed to the bed. His thoughts were cloudy and his head hurt as he turned his head the other way catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror that was on the wall. What he saw looking back at him startled him for a few seconds when he saw a face glaring back at him that was more purple than any other colour. He reached his free hand to find the gun he kept with him at all times only to remember that of course it would have been taken from him. He raised his head a little and winced in pain, looking down at his body he felt foolish laying there in a hospital gown and he couldn't believe the sight of his own beleaguered features staring back at him through his swollen eyes, his nose was a new shape entirely and his head looked lumpy and misshaped.

His head sunk back into the pillow as he tried to remember what had happened. Hundreds of thoughts swirled around his head, he remembered being on shift, they'd just arrested a particularly abusive drunk, that was it that must be how his face had ended up like this. Remembering the handcuffs he realised that couldn't be true, what was it? What had happened? They'd gone back to the station, booked the guy in and left him to sleep it off in a cell, ‘Think you idiot!’

A phone call, he'd received a phone call, ‘Who from?’ He just couldn't remember. He must have worked the rest of his shift but he couldn't focus, nothing was making sense as he drifted back into sleep.

 

 

 

“Shit Red neva thought ya had that in ya.” Franky grinned as Bea emerged from her car.

“Franky! Fuck, keep it down would ya?” Bea knew this was going to happen and an excited Franky could be a disaster waiting to happen.

“Oh yeah! I'll keep it down Red but shit that uppercut…that would have knocked Tyson Fury on his ass.” Franky laughed.

“Franky please, just stop already would ya? I don't need reminding about last night.” Bea huffed, she knew Franky would have to rehash the events and she'd hoped she wouldn't do it at the station but here they were stood in car park.

“Yeah, yeah but ya gotta admit the fucker deserved worse.” Franky sniggered as she saw Fletch parking up right next to her car. “Someone put the boot in after ya ran off.”

Bea rolled her eyes. “Hey I didn't run anywhere I walked to my car and drove away.”

“An left blondie worried sick about ya…tell me ya answered the phone when she called ya?”

“I figured it was you so I ignored it.”

“Ouch, that hurts…so ya haven't even spoken to her?”

“I didn't say that.”

“Shit why have ya gotta make everythin so complicated? Listen yeah, she obviously likes ya, a lot! What fuckin reason have ya got to push her away? Listen I'm ya best friend and my eyes work just fine so don't even try tellin me ya don't like her cos ya eyes give ya away.”

“Piss off Franky I'm not gay…we're just friends.”

“Sure ya are…look I know okay? Everyone knows my history, love em an leave em that's always been my thing. It's fuckin scary but don't lose her because ya too afraid to go where ya feelings are leadin ya. I'm tellin ya it's time to take a chance, maybe it won't work out but how ya eva gonna know if ya don't try? Besides why ya gotta label everythin?”

“Yeah…” Fletch chimed in, “Labels are for bottles not people.”

Bea shook her head, Franky she could deal with but Franky and Fletch together. “Lets just go and get kitted up before we're needed in the briefing room.”

The briefing room was packed, almost every officer who had been on the night shift was already in there by the time the three of them walked in.

“The fucks goin on here?” Franky whispered to Bea who just shrugged. It wasn't unusual for the a lot of the outgoing shift to be present but it looked like the entire shift was here along with Will Jackson and another detective who didn't look at all interested in being there.

“I'll keep this brief.” Vera sounded deflated. “Over night there were three more burglary’s, all in the same apartment complex and all with no visible signs of forced entry. Two of the three residents were at home at the time one of them had to be taken to hospital after they tried to overpower the intruders and as yet is in no condition to give a statement, the other resident after hearing two males in her apartment hid out of sight but got a good look at them both. It goes without saying that these men are dangerous.” Mugshots of Colin Bates and Nash Taylor were handed out, “We need to find them as soon as possible, you all need to vigilant until they are caught.”

“Jesus she knows how to go on.” Franky complained quietly to Bea and Fletch. “Thought you two were working on this anyway.”

“We are, obviously our efforts aren't enough, whatever the fucks going on it's too much just for us.” Fletch whispered.

When the briefing was finally over Vera asked the three of them to stay behind, they all knew that couldn't mean anything good, Vera never kept anyone behind in the briefing room with good news.

“I'm sorry to have to do this Doyle but I need you to work with Collins for the foreseeable future.” Vera sadly smiled at her, Franky and Collins and never seen eye to eye on anything since she first started working there.

“Just great, Stewart does a number on his girlfriend and I get stuck with Colonel Blimp.” Franky groaned.

“I'm sorry Franky, you know how close to retirement he is. I know you don't really get on with him but it's not for long, I'd hoped to keep him with Jake but for obvious reasons that's no longer possible.”

“Yeah, and no one else wants to work with him so I guess my name just got picked out of the hat?” Franky hated patrolling with him, he always had to drive, and that had never been any different no matter who he was partnered with. “Guess I'll be too busy looking for Bates and Taylor anyway to listen to him.” She grumbled as she turned to walk away.

“Detective Jackson has requested that you both bring him up to speed with the case.”

“What did I say?” Fletch looked at Bea, “Told ya they'd be taking over didn't I?”

“Fletch I think you misunderstand, Will has asked that you both work with him, this is too much work for just the two of you…you found a link to the Holts and…they've been under investigation for months.”

Fletch looked surprised. “So they want to work with us?”

“From tomorrow morning onwards, I have an unpleasant task for you both this morning. You were the arresting officer Fletch, I've heard from the hospital that Stewart should be fit to be discharged and he needs escorting back here…if you don't feel up to this Bea I understand, I could always send you out with Collins this…”

“No thanks, I'll be fine…heard he got a beating.”

“Hmmmm…apparently he remembers nothing about it isn't that right Fletch?” Vera looked at him with a raised eyebrow, she didn't believe for a second that he didn't know what had really happened but Jake was finally in custody even if he was still in the hospital right now.

 

 

 

Jake opened his eyes again slowly and glanced around the room, nothing had changed, he was still cuffed to the bed, the door was still closed and he could only wonder who was standing guard outside that door. Trying to sit himself up a little he winced in pain and his eyes watered as the pain shot through his body. Looking at the plain, cold walls he understood why people were in the habit of taking flowers when visiting someone. There's just something in human nature that seems to require some kind of natural beauty to help with the healing process. ‘People aren't robots, they aren't units to be fixed,’ he thought.

Getting himself as comfortable as was possible his thoughts returned to how he'd ended up there and then he remembered, the phone call, being told that Bates and Taylor were safely tucked away in a house it Fitzroy and ready for another night. ‘Shit! Why did I get involved in this?’ He asked himself but he knew the answer was a simple one, money! There had been a short time when he hadn't cared that he didn't have much, that a cops salary wasn't the greatest on earth but seeing what some people had, what some of the criminals had who he arrested had, nice house, flash car he hated that he couldn't have the same and he became obsessed with financial status, power and vanity. Looking the other way, losing crime reports and witness statements became second nature to him and where had it got him? Living in a pent house? Driving a flash car and wearing designer clothes? No he got called out to a burglary and of all the people who'd had to turn up at the scene it had to be Bea Smith, claiming that she was a friend of the woman who lived in that apartment. He'd seen through that, laughed even, everyone knew that Bea only had Doyle and Fletch as friends she was far too awkward to have a friend like that, wasn't she?

He knew he shouldn't have called in, rookie mistake to say he'd had a family emergency but Vinnie was so sure that he needed Jake to keep an eye on Bates and Taylor and he had been paid well. ‘Stupid fucking bitch.’ He. Thought to himself, why the hell did Natasha always have to question him, then she'd push for answers and so what it was just a slap here and there, anything to shut her up. This time he'd gone too far and he knew it but this wasn't how it was meant to be, wasn't him cooking her a meal enough? She just had to keep questioning him, wanting to know where he'd been for the last couple of nights. No off the top of his head excuse was going to shut her up and then…he didn't mean to, didn't mean to take it so far. Of the things he could have done on Sunday evening, he should have known better than to leave the house, he'd almost been spotted once. Hearing the sirens of the police car he panicked and ran he had no idea he was going to run into Bea. “Fuck!” He cursed aloud, remembered the blond it was that nurse the one who claimed to be Beas friend, the same one he hadn't believed because Bea didn't have friends, he'd almost run straight into her and Bea put him on his ass. There was nothing he could say about it though, making a statement against Smith would mean he'd have to talk and that was way more than his life right now was worth. Now all he had to look forward to was being taken back to the station and questioned, would he get bail? Always a possibility but he knew that it would most likely be Fletch that would be interviewing him so it was doubtful, he'd most likely spend the night in a cell before being transported to court the following morning where he'd claim it was out of character, stress of the job and be bailed by the magistrate. The door opened and an officer he couldn't place walked in followed by a nurse, until now he'd always believed that hospitals were beneficent places full of care and compassion, places where you could recover and be doted on by the dedicated professionals who worked there yet judging by the look on this nurses face that wasn't the kind of treatment he could look forward to. Medical staff he concluded silently to himself were just like cops some never wavered in their genuine care and concern and never faulted in their humanity, then there were the disaffected who had become cold and hard in their treatment of those in their care who only kept turning up for work to get their pay check and this nurse looked to him to be exactly the latter. As she worked his mind drifted back to home where everything was familiar and calming, the place where he could draw the blinds and pour himself a glass of his favourite whiskey turn on the music and just relax. After having his blood pressure checked he allowed his hand to fall back against the sheets, clean, stiff and functional and he decided that this was not the place where anyone should want to lay in bed all day.

 

 

 

Allies usual morning routine when she was on a early shift this morning had gone completely out of the window, when her alarm had gone off she'd hit the snooze button, turned over and drifted back to sleep, the second time it went off she did the same thing the third time she opened her eyes in a panic looked at the time and jumped out of her bed so fast that she was surprised she hadn't made herself dizzy. Deciding that she didn't have time to make coffee or eat she jumped in the shower, she loved nothing better than a lazy morning shower but now she was in a rush.

Stopping at the coffee shop she was relieved that it was empty just for once something was going her way this morning, for now at least. Making it into the locker room just in time she breathed a huge sigh of relief as she put her bag away before running down the corridor for the shift handover. She listened to what was being said about the departments current state, traumas, critical patients as she drunk her coffee. The ED radiology consultant brought their attention the CT scans and x rays of a trauma patient who was currently in room 5 and Allie groaned internally, ‘Just had to be room 5.’ She still felt a little sleepy and had hoped to get a few minutes to herself, no such luck this morning and once again it felt as if the whole universe was conspiring against her. She was thankful that she hadn't been working the previous day after hearing that it had been particularly busy all day and overnight finally falling into a more settled state around 0500 but she knew that could change in the blink of an eye. She always loved going to work everyday, apart from never imagining that she would ever have a proper job a few years ago she loved never knowing what challenges might pop up throughout her shift. Having to always be prepared for anything, never knowing what might roll through the doors always kept her on her toes. The downside of being a nurse was the emotional toll, everyday was different but everyday she would see people at their worst, listen to horrifying stories and see life threatening injuries and although her and Beas jobs were completely different they both saw and heard the same things. The next few hours would either pass as a blip in the course of her life or they could be so stressful that they could be the final trauma that broke her completely.

The first few hours of her shift had run smoothly, she'd seen 10 patients ranging in age from 6 months to 88 years all with varying complaints, limb injuries, eye injuries, aches and pains a sore throat and a facial injury. When she finally got away for her lunch break she was surprised when she checked her phone and found a message from Bea.


So me and Deb are home alone for the evening, and you can say no although I'm hoping you won't, do you want to come over for dinner?


Allie smiled at her phone, that small part of her that had found it hard to believe that Bea still wanted her around seemed to vanish in an instant as she walked into break room, somewhere between the locker room and there she seemed to have developed a headache and the break room was the worse place to be because it was always a hive of activity, normally she wouldn't mind the distraction of having other people to chat to but her head was throbbing. Grabbing a coffee she decided that she was going to sit outside for a few minutes hoping the fresh air would clear her head of the pain. Settling down on the wall with her coffee after taking a couple of pain killers she pulled her phone out.


That just might be the best offer I've had all day, what time and do you need me to bring anything?


Allie was lost in thought for a couple of minutes before Bridget sat down next to her.

“Everything alright?” Bridget asked as cheerfully as ever.

“Hmmmm, sorry, yeah just a headache, needed some air.” Allie replied before taking a sip of her coffee.

“Have you spoken to Bea since last night?”

“Yeah…she wouldn't answer her phone so I just went round.” She took another sip of her coffee before before continuing. “She didn't answer because she thought it was Franky.”

“An obvious assumption I guess given the circumstances…she's okay then?”

“She must be I've just been invited over for dinner.”

Bridget was about to say something when Allies phone chimed again.


Do you get invited out for dinner on a regular basis? Just bring yourself. You finish at 1500 same as me don't you? Come over when you're ready.


Not as a rule, although the odd patient here and there has asked.Can't come over if I don't bring myself now can I? And it's bad manners to arrive empty handed has no one ever told you that? I'll be there around 1700 if that's alright with you.


I'll see you then.


Bridget smiled, “You like her a lot don't you?”

“What's not to like?” Allie grinned, “But don't try telling me that you don't like Franky I saw you together last night.” Allie checked the time, “And on that note think I better be getting back, you know what Rose is like she'll send out a search party for me.”

Bridget nodded and watched Allie walk away, Franky could be difficult, she had trust issues and was the worlds biggest flirt but she couldn't deny that she liked her, and she'd found out from spending time with her that really she had a heart of gold after she'd watched her with Debbie at the beach.

After her break Allie was swamped, everyone was busier and it was just her luck to land patients that were more time consuming than she'd seen earlier. She found herself in room 6 with a female patient with lower quadrant abdominal pain that was tender to palpation she also complained of nausea, vomiting, fevers, chills and loss of appetite. After drawing her lab work and speaking to Bridget for a couple of minutes she went straight to room 8 where she had an 80 year old patient who had a nasty wrist injury. She spent a long time with her trying to remove her wedding ring, Allie felt bad when she told her that she hadn't taken it off her finger once in 60 years. She understood completely that it needed to be removed before her hand swelled up more and Allie tried every trick that she knew but nothing would make it budge and eventually it was decided that the last resort was the ring cutter. Allie felt her own heartbreak for her patient, it was bad enough she thought that it had to be removed in that way after all those years but it was also a slow and painful process on her already damaged limb.

The last two hours of Allies shift felt like a multitasking battle, and one she though she may well lose as the influx of new patients came in thick and fast, she had to deal with the mental health liaison wanting to discuss a patient, administer medications, speak to Bridget as well as listen to the constant yelling and screaming from the patient who had been been brought in by the police. Calmness seemed to sweep through the entire emergency department right before the next shift were due to start arriving who would all no doubt believe that they hadn't been busy at all. A last minute patient who was now in room 7 was all she didn't really want, walking into the room with her usual smile and calm demeanour her smile soon faded a little when the first thing the patient said to her was,

“I wasn't going to come in but it seems pretty quiet around here.”

In her head she screamed back at him, ‘Its not quiet, there have been hardly any free beds anywhere all morning, we've had patients waiting in the corridor and if you ask me if that's the first thing you're going to say to me you clearly don't need to be here.’ She took a deep breath and tried to remember that every patient has a different view of what an emergency is, to some people an infected toenail or a six month persistent knee pain was an emergency.

Walking into the locker room she heard that a trauma was coming in and part of her wanted to stay and help out but the sudden thought of needing to get home to take a shower and get changed before she went over to have dinner with Bea and Debbie that was one thing she wasn't passing up, even if she was asked to stay for a couple of extra hours now she'd say no.

Walking through the door of her apartment she kicked off her shoes before parking herself on the sofa for a while, she was tired her feet hurt and it was only Monday but she had something to look forward to as she tried to remember what Debbie had told her what her favourite things were on Saturday as they sat building sandcastles together.

 

 

 

After a quick pit stop at the supermarket to pick up a couple of things Allie finally pulled up outside Liz’s, seeing only Beas car in the drive she guessed that Liz must have already gone out. After gathering everything together that she needed she walked unusually slowly towards the front door as if her brain was struggling to tell each foot to take the next step. After knocking on the door a small sigh of anxiety leapt out of her mouth and now only silence lingered in the air while she waited. She wasn't quite sure why she was suddenly feeling a little nervous, she had no need to be really.

“You're early.” Bea smiled as she opened the door.

“Yeah…force of habit I guess, I'm generally at the hospital well before my shift starts.”

“Same here, well at the station for me but ya knew what I meant…are ya coming in?” Bea had moved to the side already and was a little surprised by Allies hesitancy.

“I hadn't planned on standing out here for the rest of the day.” Allie chuckled as she stepped past Bea.

“I'm afraid Deb won the argument about what to have for dinner although I didn't feel like cooking, I hope you don't mind pizza?”

“One of Debs favourites…same as these.” Allie waved the bag of caramello koalas in front of her. “Oh yeah and this.” She passed Bea the tub of strawberry ice cream that she'd picked up.

“I guess she's already told you all her favourite things then, guess you figured out that food is her number one priority…Debs watching cartoons but I'll warn you now keep spoiling her like this and you'll never get rid of her.”

“Good thing I don't plan on getting rid of either of you then isn't it?”

When the pizza arrived the three of them were sitting in the kitchen, Bea didn't know why she felt slightly nervous but the feeling was there and didn't seem to want to leave her. Everything seemed to be fine, Allie hadn't complained about having pizza, hadn't criticised her for not making any effort to cook. ‘Why would she?” Bea questioned herself, she knew this feeling was irrational, stupid even, everything Allie had done and said since she arrived had shown her that everything was okay but still she felt anxious. Sitting down next to Allie it started to feel something like an electrical storm in her brain and just as painful. She appeared calm and she knew she was hungry she just wasn't sure now that she would eat a great deal, if in fact she ate anything at all.

“We were making get well soon cards for my friend Shane today.” Debbie told Allie as she happily tucked into a slice of pizza. “My teacher said he's in the hospital, you might have seen him.”

“Hmmm, I don't know Debbie I see so many people when I'm at work.”

“Teacher said he had an accident on the weekend.”

“He's probably up on the children's ward and I work in the emergency department.”

“Well if you see him tell him I said hi.”

Allie laughed as she glanced to her side at Bea noticing that she wasn't eating and that she looked a little uncomfortable. Moving her leg she brushed it against Beas, mumbling an apology as she took a bite of her pizza. Bea smiled at her, Allie never did anything that didn't make her smile, didn't make her feel things she'd never even knew existed, everything Franky had said to her repeated in her head. She liked Allie she couldn't deny that, she looked forward to getting a simple text message out of the blue and she looked forward to seeing her even more. It was all confusing and she wondered if she should actually get Franky alone and talk to her but then she'd just more than likely make fun of her because she didn't know what she wanted or what her new found feelings even meant.

Bea pushed the thoughts to the back of her mind for the time being, she needed to let Allie know that she wasn't going to be around a lot for the foreseeable future and she wanted to make the most of the time they had together right now. She knew she'd think about her all the time while she was at work, hopefully have the time to at least call her and she'd drive herself crazy thinking about how she felt every night when she was laying in bed alone at night. When the thought suddenly popped into her head that she'd love to get home from work and have both Debbie and Allie there she closed her eyes for a few moments, it hadn't been an expected thought but it wasn't completely unwelcome even though it did take her a little by surprise. Looking at the pizza box that sat in the centre of the table she realised that Debbie and Allie had eaten more than half the pizza already and she hadn't even eaten one slice.

“It's not just Deb that loves pizza I see.”

“Anyone who doesn't like pizza must be an idiot, besides what's not to like, you don't have to spend hours in the kitchen just pick up the phone and let it come to you.” Allie and Debbie both giggled.

The three of them retreated to the living room for a while each with a bowl of ice cream, Debbie sat in the middle of them her eyes glued to her favourite cartoon, something Bea was thankful for when she couldn't stop herself from stealing glances at Allie.

“I should get going, early start again and I'm sure you need to get Deb ready for bed.”

“Yeah.” Bea knew she was right even if she would have quite willingly stayed up half the night if it meant spending more time with Allie. “I'll walk you to your car.” She glanced down at Debbie who hadn't moved a muscle in the last twenty minutes, “Don't think Deb will even notice were missing.”

“You didn't say why you won't be around a lot, got a lot on at work?” Allie said sadly as they reached her car.

“Didn't did I?” It hadn't gone unnoticed that Allies eyes were on her and for once she didn't feel uncomfortable, no one looked at her the way she did, no one let her say what she needed to without interrupting her or trying to just talk over her. “We've been asked to work with the detectives, Fletch and I that is and it's going to be longer hours until we catch the idiots who been doing all these burglaries.”

“You two seem to have done all the work anyway.”

“Maybe…I enjoyed this evening, I know pizza isn't….”

“Don't yeah? I happen to like pizza if ya hadn't noticed, I'd have probably had the same if you hadn't have asked me over.”

“Yeah but it's not…”

“It was great, I love spending time with you, with both of you so pizza was the best choice anyway, I'm sure one day you'll find out how annoying I am in the kitchen but I think we should get to know each other a little better so that I won't scare ya away too soon.”

“I can't see that happening I doubt Deb would be happy if I let that happen anyway.”

“I'll text ya…don't worry if you're too busy to answer.” Allie really didn't want to leave right now and it was obvious that Bea was feeling the same.

“I'll hold you to that.”

“That was never in any doubt was it? Thank you for asking me over, I honestly thought after what I told you yesterday you'd change your mind about wanting me around.”

“I thought I told you that's not who you are and it wasn't your fault, I'll never hold it against you…so…I guess you need to get home.”

Allie drove away feeling like she'd left a piece of herself behind, she wasn't looking forward to probably not seeing Bea a lot, if at all, but she would text and call her when she could, even if she had to wait days to hear from her she knew she'd wait because she was certain that she'd wait forever for Bea if she needed to.

 

Chapter Text

 

Bea was already having a stressful morning before she arrived at the station, it had never crossed her mind the day before that working alongside the detectives meant that she would be out of uniform and most of her wardrobe consisted of jeans or sweatpants. She stood wrapped in a towel after emerging from the shower trying to consider her options, not that she had more than two that she knew would actually be suitable for her new working conditions. Bea didn't dress up for anything except the odd night out with Franky and Boomer and then she wouldn't really consider that dressing up, she didn't really put much effort into her appearance when she was away from work because the way she looked at it was that she dressed how she pleased because she only had herself to please. Her problem was that she had no idea how long she was going to out of uniform and how many new outfits she was going to have to try and find. She remembered how she felt the first time she ever put her police uniform on, saying she felt a little like an alien from another planet who had just stepped onto earth for the first time had been a little bit of an understatement, and stepping out in public dressed in full uniform for the first time she'd soon found out all about public perceptions. Everyone seemed to have an opinion about her, everyone except her parents, Franky and Liz seemed to believe they knew what she was thinking about them. That was something she knew was never going to change. She'd never let it bother her and had fit straight into the role that was expected of her, Franky had taken a little more time to grow into it, not that anyone would ever guess that now. She'd always been proud of wearing that uniform and she wondered why she hoped one day she'd take the exam and finally become a criminal investigator. The uniform was part of who she was, for a long time it had felt like it was all she was, Harry had taken so much from her but that was the one thing he'd never been able to take no matter how hard he punched or kicked, no matter what he took from her that part of her would always remain.

Her phone ringing dragged her attention away from her dismal wardrobe and brought a huge smile to her face when she saw who was calling.

“Shouldn't you be getting ready for work?”

“I should but it's not like I have any difficult decisions to make when it comes to what to wear.” Allie giggled, “I just wanted to wish you good luck on your first day.”

“I won't be doing this forever, right now I'm not even sure I want to be doing this.”

“You want to stay in uniform forever?”

“No, but…it seems I don't have the wardrobe to be a criminal investigator.”

“That's a problem that's easily fixed.”

“Finding the time might be a problem.” Bea sighed into the phone. “And I hate shopping, clothes shopping is even worse.”

“When you have the time call me, we could take Debbie with us, get your shopping done and then do something fun to take your mind off it…if you want to of course, maybe Franky might be a better shopping assistant.”

“You are kidding right?”

“About which part?”

“Franky! The last time I went shopping with her Booms came along, it was a disaster.” Bea groaned at the memory, Franky had decided that chatting the shop assistant up was the worlds best idea and Boomer had complained, extra loudly, that the only people who could shop in the store they were in had to be bank robbing stick insects. “If your free this weekend, I mean if we both are…shit I have no idea how this is going to work, the only upside is no night shifts although if something happens in the middle of the night I could get called in.”

“Saturday then? Let me know, I better finish getting ready I'm sure the nursing supervisor would not appreciate me walking in only half dressed.”

After arriving at the station Bea considered going straight to Vera's office and asking to be put back on general duties, she'd thought about advancing her career but this had just been dumped on her and Fletch and she wasn't ready for it, one day she was in uniform and now here she was walking into the station looking just like everyone else out there in the working world who had to be smartly dressed. Fletch was already waiting for her, he was just as apprehensive about the whole situation but then he'd never wanted to be anything other than a general duties officer.

“Hardly recognised ya there.” Fletch chuckled as she walked towards him, “Got ya a coffee thought ya might need it, ya ready for this?”

Bea shook her head, she hadn't been ready for this since they were informed of Wills request for them to join him on the investigation, it had been on her mind all day the previous day until Allie had arrived to have dinner with them and then all thoughts of work had disappeared. “Not sure I'll ever be ready for this, think I miss the uniform already.”

“You're destined for more than a uniform and ya know that, I've know that since your first day, you've got natural skills when it comes to investigations and ya know it.”

“Think you have more confidence in me than you should.”

“You need to see yourself the same way the rest of us do, I've worked with plenty of rookies and you've always had something none of them ever had.”

They walked up to the CID office in complete silence, Bea knew that gaining more experience wouldn't be a bad thing she just wished it had come at a different time, a time when her new found feelings for another person weren't so confused. She had no idea how much of her free time this was going to eat into, in general sometimes it was hard having enough time to spend with Debbie but now she had Allie thrown into that mix and she didn't want to face the prospect of not seeing either of them except for a few minutes at a time.

Will was waiting for them when they entered the office, he'd been keeping an eye on Bea for a while, asked Vera for her opinion and he knew that out of all the officers at the station who would apply to take the examination to become a detective Bea would outshine all of them. She already possessed all the skills that were needed, she'd proved that but he didn't actually know if it was something she was interested in, his intention was to find out and if her answer was no he was determined to try and change her mind.

 

 

 

Allie laughed to herself as she walked into the locker room, she'd have loved to have seen the look on Beas face when she'd mentioned only being half dressed which of course she had been because in that moment calling Bea just to let her know that she was thinking about her had been the only thing on her mind. Not knowing if she would see her again that week gave her nothing but a slightly empty feeling, spending time with Bea she would admit freely if anyone asked was always the highlight of any day and now she couldn't even be sure if she would see her over the weekend if not it would be a couple of weeks at least since Allie would be working over the weekends.

“You seem pretty happy with yourself.” Bridget said as she walked in.

“For right now I am, can I ask you something?”

“Sure, go for it, if I can help I will you know that.”

“It's not important, I mean it's not work related…I…I just wondered if, do any of the detectives ever come in?”

Bridget burst out laughing, “I heard Fletch and Bea had been assigned to CID…sometimes we see the odd one, not often though.” She should have expected the question really and she hadn't meant to laugh, Allie didn't usually ask anything that wasn't in some way work related. “I'm sorry I didn't mean to laugh, if Bea likes you as much as I think she does trust me she won't disappear, it's still not a 9 to 5 job and given what I've heard about what their investigating she probably won't be around so much but if it helps I'm sure between them they'll get all the evidence they need.”

“Yeah.” Allie sighed, she knew Bea was good at her job she didn't need anyone to tell her that.

“Before we get the morning started properly I have to tell you something, we have a new nurse starting in a couple of days, would you mind if she spent her first shift with you? She's new to the ED and I'd feel better if she spent her first shift with someone who could do the job with their eyes closed if the need ever rises.”

“I'm sure I can handle that, not sure about the eyes closed part, not sure anyone could do that.”

No two days were ever the same in the emergency department even though the schedule may follow a similar course. Mentally preparing herself for the coming chaos that could head her way over the course of her shift had become much easier over the last few months but some days were still harder to deal with than others. Today was going to be absolutely no different as Allie found herself constantly monitoring patients and addressing any concerns of worried family members. Watching her third patient of the morning walking out of the hospital she knew she should be happy that she'd made a difference to someone's life even if it was only in some small way, that relief was only short lived when another patient was soon filling her now vacant room. A construction worker who has a laceration on his left arm, it wasn't too serious and the bleeding wasn't as bad as he seemed to think it was. Allie tried to explain to him that she had three other patients who needed her attention more urgently and she would be back as soon as she'd checked on them. He became quite agitated and shouted at her that he was bleeding to death, after spending a few minutes to calm him down she returned to her other patients one of which was a patient who had facial injuries who was waiting quite patiently for her to get back to him.

Her next patient was a 4 year old child with a burn on her arm, her mum's explanation about how it happened seemed suspicious, being asked to explain again in the presence of a doctor only seemed to disturb her more but no matter how insistent she was what she was saying just didn't add up. Allie hated situations like this, they were generally some of the most challenging, she didn't want to make false accusations and cause unnecessary stress for a family. She was grateful when the little girl was referred to paediatric care for a better assessment of the situation, she felt as if she could finally breath easily again knowing that she would no longer be involved in any decisions that may have warranted involving child protective services.

Allie was just about to head for her break when there was a sudden rush of activity as a trauma patient arrived. She watched on for a minute not wanting to get in the way, everything worked like clockwork as the paramedic began giving his report, she heard fragments of what was being said.

“High speed motor vehicle accident…Unconscious upon arrival on the scene…”

At least that was what she thought she heard as she passed. She'd caught a glimpse of the patient and she looked young but it had been hard to tell.

Allie stared at her phone, no texts, no missed calls, she couldn't expect there to be all she could do was hope, it was something she'd lived without for most of her life like her dreams she's pushed hope to the side because hope had been like a dream and she couldn't dream her way out of the life she'd had to live. ‘Stop it!’ She told herself, her life was completely different now and like Bea had told her that wasn't her life now, the person she had once been wasn't who she was now. The memories would always be there she knew that, some she would never want to lose others she'd gladly rid herself of, tuck them away in a dark corner of her brain and allow them never to see the light of day again. Bea must feel the same she was sure of that, what she'd told her and she guessed that was really only the tip of the iceberg, what she'd lived through even Allie wasn't sure she could have survived that and got on with her life, not that Allie ever thought she'd had much of a life until the day she'd walked into the hospital feeling so broken she had been sure there could be no glue on the planet strong enough to stick the pieces of her life back together. Hope she had concluded a long time ago was that bright shining star that would always be just out of reach in an endlessly black universe except now she thought she'd found something or rather someone that made her have real hope. Bea was that bright star, she made her smile on the inside not just the out, she gave her hope, more a promise that somewhere just around the corner there would be and end to the blackness where both their lives would be filled with smiles and laughter and more love than either of them ever dare to dream existed.

“Allie are you going to answer that?” Bridget's voice suddenly drifted into her ears, she had no idea how long her phone had been ringing.

“Bea! I'm sorry I was miles away.”

“Oh yeah, running away from me already?” Bea laughed not caring that Fletch was sitting across the table from her.

“What? No, I…I didn't hear my phone, stupid really it was right in front of me.”

“I do have a reason to call.” She had more than one reason to call, the fact that she'd found herself thinking about Allie most of the morning was the first but she wasn't going to admit to that as she sat in the canteen with Fletch listening in, the second reason was one she didn't mind anyone overhearing. “We've been asked to interview everyone who lives in your complex, I know you haven't had any problems with the building manager so you've never been questioned about him but we have to ask, you may have seen or heard something that you don't even realise is important.”

“Yeah sure.” Allie frowned for a few seconds as she wondered if that was the only reason for her call. “Do I need to come into the station?”

“Nope…I know what time you finish and we'll be out of the station anyway, trying to keep things a little less intimidating for the tenants and I know how intimidating one of our interview rooms can be even when you haven't been arrested.”

“I'll see you later then?”

Fletch sat through the whole phone call with a grin plastered on his lips.

“What?” Bea asked as after she ended the call.

“Nothin…ya just…well since ya know when she'll be home ya didn't need to make that call.”

“What are you getting at?”

“Hey I'm not gettin at anythin, I'm not gonna start teasin ya either like Franky does. That smile…that's not fake, ya can't fake that, I'm not sayin anythin else given where we are but that smile makes me happy.” Fletch had a million things he wanted to say, advice that he'd given to plenty of people over the years but he doubted Bea would want to hear anything he had to say after all his track record as far as his love life was concerned wasn't anything to shout about and shouldn't put him in a position to be giving out advice.

Lunch breaks came and went, Bea discussed where to start with interviews with Fletch before they left the station and Allie tried to have a conversation with Bridget, concentrating on anything that was being said to her was proving to be difficult since as soon as her call with Bea had ended she started to worry about what state she may or may not have left her apartment in that morning, she knew Bea had seen it in much worse shape, hell she'd helped her clean the place up, but letting her see just how messy she really could be wasn't something Allie was prepared for.

Allies next patient was a woman who was seven weeks pregnant and distraught because she was bleeding. Allie assessed the bleeding straight away trying to explain to both her and her husband that it wasn't at a level that was immediately dangerous for her. Naturally the patient was concerned that she was losing the baby and Allie tried to reassure her that many women who experience bleeding at this stage in pregnancy go on to have normal and successful pregnancies. Telling them that they would have to wait a little longer to see a doctor aggrieved the husband who had until that point been calm, he became aggressive and threatening. One of the other nurses had heard everything and had called for security, asking him to leave he became more verbally abusive and the police were called. Allie was rattled by the situation, she'd had patients become aggressive before today and she really hadn't expected the situation to escalate so quickly. She chose to become an ED nurse because she thought it would be most rewarding and she'd never get bored. It was never boring that was true and the knowledge needed to do her job was something that would always drive her passion for emergency nursing. She had a desire to pour out compassion and comfort to everyone she encountered, she wanted to be a calming voice when there seemed to be only chaos and uncertainty. No two days were ever the same, every patient was unique and the knowledge she needed to assess every new patient was something that she knew she'd learn better through time and experience. Some days were harder than others, today had turned out to be one of those days, working in the emergency department would be the greatest challenge she'd ever had but she was determined to show up everyday ready for whatever the day would send her way and give her time, knowledge, caring and calmness to every patient she saw although one in particular had caught her attention more than any other.

Walking from apartment to empty apartment Bea was fed up, it had been a good idea to ask everyone if they had had any confrontations with the building manager but not the best idea to start after lunch. Bea knew most of the occupants would be at work but Will wouldn't deviate from the plan.

“He just doesn't want to work late.” Fletch concluded.

“But its fine if we do?” Bea had no intention of not getting home to read to Debbie, they had a routine depending on the shift she was working and an early shift meant Debbie would expect her home long before bedtime.

“Ya can get off home whenever ya need, I'll be fine here.”

“Thanks, I'll stick around as late as I can besides this is at least a two day job.”

“Needs more than just us that's for sure, could be worse I guess.”

Fletch checked the time, he didn't need Bea to say anything he knew the shift patterns for the ED nurses and if Allie was on a morning shift she'd be on her way home. “Don't ya need to be someplace else?”

“It's not that late yet.”

“I was kinda meaning your, your friend. Should be almost home by now I reckon.” Fletch smiled.

“I doubt she's expecting me to turn up the second she gets home.”

“And ya didn't need to call her and ask if ya could go over to ask a few fucking questions. Look I'm not doing a Franky on ya but I have seen ya together, seriously Bea Deb never sits down with people she's only just met, shit she wouldn't even speak to me until she turned four. All I'm sayin is…well, don't give up on something because you're unsure, if ya don't try you'll never know and it's obvious you can't go a full day without thinkin about her so just bugger off already. Will won't have a fuckin clue anyway if ya don't stick around and I can handle this, might actually catch more than one person at home sometime soon.”

Bea stopped walking and watched as Fletch just carried on walking to the next apartment, everyone kept saying the same thing, well at least Franky and now Fletch were. The pull towards Allie was strong, stronger than she thought could ever be possible and she couldn't deny that the thought of not seeing or at least hearing from her everyday even if it were only for a few minutes, a few seconds actually did cause emotional pain. She should catch up with Fletch, all her police training told her that she shouldn't leave him alone especially with everything that was happening around this apartment complex. She watched him knock on the door, heard him identify himself to whoever answered before he disappeared inside. She stood there for a few more seconds before she turned and headed in the direction of Allies apartment. Two minutes, 120 seconds it was such a short space of time but felt way longer as she walked slower as she tried to work out why she just had to see Allie. ‘Whatever it is you want you'll never find it no matter how much you look for it.’ She told herself as she knocked on Allies door. ‘You can't dream yourself out of the parts of your life that you don't like, can't just simply discover a new version of yourself, it's not fair to use Allie as a distraction from the noise in your head, from the noise all around you.’

“Bea…earth to Bea…” Allie waved her hand in front of her face.

“Sorry, got a little lost in my head.”

“So are ya gonna go into full on cop mode on me?” Allie giggled remembering the last time she'd her look so serious, hearing her telling Jake, demanding what she wanted to know had been as sexy as hell to Allie but right now she just looked serious.

“It's just a few questions.” Bea avoided the question as she stepped into Allies apartment, “It does seem that your building manager is a missing piece of this puzzle.”

“He's a dick.” Allie answered as she watched Bea sit down on the sofa, “I've only ever seen him once…no wait twice, yeah twice.”

“So he's never threatened you?”

“No…why would he? Besides I'm never really here you know that.” This line of questioning wasn't what she'd expected. “Is that what he's been doing? Threatening the other tenants?”

“We've had complaints and then it would appear after they complain they've had a burglary…you didn't see him before that happened?”

“No, I saw him the day I moved in and then about a week later, I couldn't actually tell you what he looks like, ya could have just asked me this on the phone earlier or did ya want something else?”

The little spark of hope that Bea had carried around with her all morning, that need to see Allie that to begin with had been only a flicker reignited itself as Allie moved closer to the sofa. Bea reached out her hand and caught Allies in hers, “Sit down for a while…please.”

“Why do you look so worried?” Allie asked as she sat beside her.

Bea was strong, she was used to being alone used to taking care of everything that she needed to. She couldn't, wouldn't ever share any parts of her life with a stranger but that wasn't what Allie was anymore, she'd told her more than she'd ever told anyone, more but not everything. Everything was frightening, terrifying even and she wasn't going to tell her everything but she needed to tell her something, something it seemed that everyone else around her was sure of even if she wasn't.

“I'm not worried, just…just a little nervous.”

Allie cocked her head to one side keeping her eyes firmly fixed on Bea but didn't say a word, this was what they did, Allie would wait, minutes, hours, days if that was what it took for Bea to get her thoughts and words in order.

“I didn't ask you a bunch of questions on the phone because…because I wanted to see you…I…I don't have a fucking clue what I'm doing and I'm sick of people trying to give me advice because it seems everyone else seems to know what I'm thinking or feeling but you don't do that, you aren't doing that. You just wait so if I don't say this now I may never say it…I like you, a lot, and I don't know if it's just some kind of delayed teenage crush because I never had one, I studied, I worked, I've been awkward around almost everyone my whole life even Franky in the beginning.”

Allie let out an almost inaudible laugh because that was just something she would never have expected, they made fun of each other and bickered as if they were siblings.

“I can't even put into words what you make me feel because I've never felt this before, you take me to a place that I've never been before. I'm struggling to make sense of everything I'm thinking and feeling, Franky says I should follow my heart but honestly I'm not even sure that's possible when my heart is more confused than my head…I just know that I want to see you, that I have an overpowering need to speak to you everyday and I'm sure you don't want to hear this from me because I'm awkward and clumsy and I'm...I'm just gonna leave because I'm just a idiot with no fucking clue how I'm even sopposed to act.”

Bea stood up oblivious to the fact that Allie hadn't let go of her hand and wasn't planning on letting go.

“Bea wait, I don't want you to leave like this.” Allie swallowed down the lump in her throat and tried to blink back the tears that were threatening to fall. “That night you came into the hospital…I didn't want you to leave, I wanted to see you again but I thought the only way that would ever be possible was if you got hurt again and I was so scared of that happening. I'll admit Franky pissed me off and I'll admit that I kinda thought that you and her…never mind I'm sure you know what I thought until I saw her with Bridget. Then I was convinced that you must have someone waiting at home for you because well…look at you. I knew I didn't want to let you go then but I had no choice then you turned up here and you had no reason to help me, that fear I'd seen in your eyes a few hours before it just vanished and you did more for me in one night than anyone had done for me almost my whole life. There's no rush take all the time you need to sort through your feelings, I'm always gonna be here when you want me and I'll still be here if you decide you don't, I'll be here when the sun gives way to the moon and when it returns to bring colour back into the world because I know it might sound utterly stupid but all I want is to see that smile light up your eyes, to sit with you when you don't know what to say and to hold you when it feels like the entire world is closing in on you or about to crumble around you…I just want you.”

Being that open, allowing herself to be that emotionally vulnerable was hard for Allie, vulnerability had never ended well in the past for her but Bea was the only one in her heart and she wanted to be confident and vulnerable all in the same moment with her. She pushed away her old insecurities because no matter how this ended at least she'd told her how she felt.

 

Chapter Text

 

Allies alarm sounded louder than ever and just a rude as one of her patients had been the previous day. It jarred her awake bringing her out of a wonderful dream about the only person she thought she might dream about for the rest of her life and never get tired of it. Her eyes sprung wide open and she sat bolt upright hitting the alarm clock as hard as she could to silence it. The intrusion was not welcomed and made her angry, she knew she wasn't going to see Bea until Saturday and even that could change at the drop of a hat if anything changed for either of them. Until now Allie had never minded being asked to do an extra shift but having to spend another two days not even being able to catch a glimpse of Bea was just frustrating and that alarm had brought her back to the reality of life when in her dream state she could see her, hold her hand and wrap her arms around her. ‘And its only fucking Thursday!’ Allie muttered to herself as she got out of bed and headed for the bathroom resigned in the knowledge that today she was had to deal with being followed around her entire shift. ‘Maybe I can palm her off on someone else.’ She thought aloud as she was about to step into the shower.

Bea had already hit the snooze button twice, she was sure she could get used to the extra hour in bed working with CID allowed her. The 0800 start even allowed her the opportunity to see Debbie before she left the house, the job itself so far hadn't given her the same opportunity to spend time with Allie, at least not in person, in her dreams she always seemed to be ever present and Allie had almost fallen asleep the night before as they talked on the phone. Nestling her head back in to her pillows she thought about making a start on her day but her thoughts of Allie were so much better than making plans to leave her bed that morning.

“Mummyyy.” Debbie's voice echoed around her room and in her ears as she burst through the door and jumped on the bed. “Time to wake up!” Debbie's enthusiastic voice rang out as she jumped up and down on the bed.

“I'm awake Deb…not so loud baby I heard you.”

Debbie plopped down on her butt beside her mum with a serious expression. “You were fibbing to me? It's not nice to pretend your still sleeping if you aren't.”

“I wasn't pretending to be asleep I was just resting my eyes.” Bea answered as she sat up and pulled Debbie into her lap. “Why are you running around the house so early?”

Debbie shrugged a little, “Cos I knew I get to see you before you have to go to work.” She answered innocently… “And Gma Liz is going to feed me, it's hungry work sleeping all night.”

Bea laughed, suddenly returning to general duties lost a little more of its appeal. Debbie disappeared almost as quickly as she had ran into Beas room and the last she heard of her for the next twenty minutes where her footsteps as she ran downstairs in search of her promised breakfast.

 

 

 

Allie arrived at the hospital as usual thirty minutes early, today was going to be different, today she'd agreed to something that now she wasn't so sure she should have. A new nurse in the ED was nothing new, it wasn't all that long ago that she was new and that experience had taught her that there were far more capable and experienced nurses there that should be stuck with whoever this new nurse was. ‘You can handle this.’ She told herself, Bea had told her that numerous times the previous evening and hearing it from her made her believe it for a while, now she wasn't so sure. She crossed the car park slowly wondering if it really was too late to back out of it now. Walking into the locker room it was noisier than was usual for the time of day and she wondered what was going on.

“An so the surgeon smiles at this patient an says ‘You have no need to worry about a thing I just looked up how to do this operation on YouTube!” I almost died laughing.”

Everyone else in the locker room burst out laughing as Allie just rolled her eyes, ‘Not the newbie.’ She thought to herself, she enjoyed a joke as much as anyone else but this morning she wasn't in the mood for jokes. When she worked with anyone else in the ED she was fine but she didn't need a joker this morning.

“Hey Allie.” One of the other nurses called out to her across the locker room, “You're in for a blast this morning, the newbies a hoot.”

‘Just my luck.’ She thought to herself as she turned around to face a woman shorter than her, deep brown eyes and dark curly hair.

“Hey, I'm Ruby…nice to meet ya.” She grinned at Allie.

“Hi…I'm Allie, don't think I'm being rude but I need to make a quick call before we're expected at the shift handover.”

Walking down the corridor towards the break room she bumped into Bridget. “I know it's not your job, guess I should go and see Rose but please get me out of this.” She almost pleaded.

“She does seem as if she's going to be a bit of a handful…just give it an hour, Allie I know you can handle anything, I've watched you, you're more than capable of showing her how we do things round here. She reminds me of Franky a little.” Bridget chuckled.

“Oh god!” Allie groaned, “I'm sure one Franky is enough.”

The whole way through their shift handover Ruby kept whispering to Allie who was trying her hardest to ignore her, first day or not she was sure she should know better than not to pay attention to what they were being told.

“Look you seem nice enough and I know it's your first day, it's not that long ago it was my fist day, but you have to pay attention your not working on a ward now everything in the ED is different.”

“Ouch, I'm only tryin to be friendly.”

“I'm just trying to point out that everything can change in a heart beat, you can be dealing with a stomach ache one minute and the next you might be called to a patient with a suspected heart attack the next. It's easy to screw up at shift change and you don't want to look like you have no clue what your doing do you?”

“Oh yeah, I get it…ya don't want me makin ya look bad, regular Florence Nightingale aren't ya?”

“Really?” Allie was getting frustrated already. “We have rooms 1 to 4 this morning right?” Ruby nodded in agreement even though she hadn't heard where they were working. “We have two patients already care to tell me why they are here?”

Ruby frowned, “Don't remember being told I'd get tested on this.”

“I'm not testing ya, I'm asking you a perfectly reasonable question, rooms 1 and 2 are currently occupied any of the doctors could ask you what room a patient is in if they are in your care.” Allie sighed, “Look I'm not trying to make this difficult do you know the reasons for the patients to be here?”

“No.” Ruby mumbled.

“Right.” Allie huffed. “So the first lesson this morning is that ya have to listen, now come with me.” Allie walked towards room 1, “The patient in here has a broken arm, in room 2 we have a patient who has a rash that won't stop itching ya got it now?”

Ruby nodded, when she'd first seen Allie she'd thought that she was going to be a push over not a hard ass who was going to be on her case within the first five minutes.

 

 

 

“Oh come on, there's been a greater police presence in the area how the hell can there have been two more burglary’s?” Will huffed down the phone. “And they've only just been reported?”

“Where are we with finding the building manager?” Will asked as he looked up when he heard Bea and Fletch walk through the door.

“Seems he's done the same as Bates and Taylor and vanished, except we obviously know they ain't gone far guess we could just have missed him, could be away?” Fletch was fed up, they had evidence and Will was dragging his heels, he knew that they did their jobs differently but knocking on doors Fletch was sure should be a job for general duties, he'd rather put his uniform back on and work his real job than pretend to be a detective.

“Fine…look we've got more information but I think we have a small problem in the department and I want to keep this between us.”

“A problem?” Bea didn't sound surprised. “Well the first was Stewart but he's on remand so that's one less to worry about.”

“There's no ev…”

“No evidence? Are you kiddin me?” Bea interrupted, “It was staring everyone in the face, right from the morning he showed up at Allies, did he or did he not let Bates get away? If the other guy who they caught because he was too dumb to run hadn't given Bates’s name no one would be any wiser now so don't tell me there's no fucking evidence.”

“Bea I…”

“It's so fucking simple that no one here in CID have worked it out, ya put two and two together and come up with ten. The Holts own the property, Nils Jesper is the property manager and if you'd have looked into his background already you'd know exactly what his record looks like, robbery, assault, making threats to kill and he did time for manslaughter. They want to sell the property to a property developer and from what I hear it's the best offer their ever gonna get, the only catch is they want the tenants gone. Starting to make sense now?”

“Hang on…Vera never mentioned any of this when I asked for you both.”

“She knew we told her, must have forgotten to mention it.” Bea shrugged, “Would it have made any difference if you'd have known?”

The connections had been there right from the start but no one had pieced them together until Vera had made the decision to keep Bea and Fletch confined to the station and Bea found it hard to believe that Jake had apparently kept his involvement well hidden. Finding the proof wasn't going to be any easy task but it had to be done. Bea sat at her desk staring out of the window finding herself wishing the time between right now and Saturday morning away. Allie had already told her that she had had something planned for the three of them on Saturday afternoon leaving the morning free for shopping. Bea had tried to talk her way out of shopping but Allie wasn't having any of it telling her that if she kept complaining she'd drag her around the shopping centre the whole day instead of just for the morning.

 

 

 

“So how was your day? Lock up any criminals today?” Allie giggled into the phone, their nightly phone calls were fast becoming her favourite part of the day since it was becoming increasing difficult to find any time to spend together.

“I've been stuck behind a desk all day.” Bea grumbled.

“Good!”

“And how is that good? There are three people all hiding out somewhere and still managing to terrorise your apartment complex, doesn't that worry you even a little?”

“Well yeah, but the thought of you getting hurt again worries me more. What if next time I see you in the ED stitches just aren't enough to put you back together?”

“That's not gonna happen Allie.”

“And ya can be sure of that how? These men you're looking for aren't exactly angels, you don't know what weapons they have.”

“Okay I'll let you have that one. Did that new nurse give ya any trouble?” Bea quickly changed the subject, she didn't want to dwell on what may or may not happen.

“You just had to ask didn't ya?” Allie rolled her eyes. “I'm not saying she has no clue what the hell we do in the ED, it's a big change if you've never worked there before but she doesn't listen.”

“Hmmmm, so ya've met ya match have ya?”

“Hardly.” Allie huffed, “I think you'll find I met her one night after she got herself shot! Seriously though, we have to have a sense of humour or we'd never get through the day but she has to joke about everything which in certain situations just isn't appropriate.”

Going to bed early, Allie had concluded to herself wasn't so bad when she got the chance to speak to Bea and after another thirty minutes or so they both yawned.

“Sounds like someone needs her beauty sleep.” Allie said a little more sleepily.

“Yeah I think you do.” Bea giggled, “You have work to do tomorrow and I'll be most likely sat in a stuffy office and wishing I was anywhere else but there. Hey ya reckon if I fake a migraine I could get away with coming into the ED?”

 

 

 

Convincing Debbie that she really needed to get up early on Saturday morning was proving to be hard work until Bea reminded her that they were spending the day with Allie and that she had a surprise planned for the afternoon. Debbie jumped out of bed, hugged Bea and then skipped off out of her room towards the bathroom.

“So you'll get up for Allies surprise but not for me?” Bea asked amused as she leaned against the door frame of the kitchen when she finally got herself dressed.

“I see you everyday silly, I haven't seen Allie in forever.” Debbie replied before she stuffed a spoonful of cereal in her mouth.

“It's only been a week Deb.”

“Young Debbie here likes Allie don't you love?” Liz asked as she passed Bea a coffee.

“Yeah, she's funny and she makes way better sand castles than auntie Franky or Boomer.”

Bea took a seat next to her daughter and ruffled her hair. “Well I think Allie likes you to.”

Debbie looked at a Bea seriously before breaking into a grin. “Who doesn't like me?”

After breakfast Debbie was more eager to get dressed than either Bea or Liz had ever seen her on a Saturday morning. A normal Saturday morning for Debbie once she woke up would mean her lounging around on the sofa for at least an hour watching cartoons if neither Bea or Liz had anything planned. Now she was impatiently waiting for Allie to arrive.

A knock on the door shattered the peace that had descended throughout the house when Debbie jumped off the sofa and ran to the door closely followed by Bea. “Allies here.” She shouted in delight. Bea opened the door never expecting Debbie to push past her almost throwing herself in Allies direction and hugging her legs. She would never do that as a rule, not to Liz, Franky or even Boomer because Debbie was so much like Beas younger self than she ever wanted to admit she would hide behind Bea, using her as a shield between her and the person in front of her when that person wasn't someone she knew well but with Allie it had been different from the second they met, it had been different for both of them.

“I'm pleased to see you too.” Allie said as she looked down at Debbie who was looking up at her, a miniature version of Bea she was sure of that with the same eyes that invaded her dreams night after night.

“Deb I'm sure Allie might be more comfortable if you let go now.”

“It's fine.” Allie said as her eyes traveled from Debbie's to Beas, her smile brighter than ever just from hearing her words even when they weren't directed at her because she could drink in every word she ever heard her speak like a strong wine and enjoy the feeling of getting drunk from every syllable she would ever utter. She watched her as the corners of her mouth curled up into a smile as if she held the stars in her hands and had soft rose petals at her feet, if she dared move right now she'd wrap her up in her arms and never let go.

“I need my jacket!” Debbie suddenly exclaimed pulling away from Allie and running back into the house at lightening speed.

They stared back at each other for what felt like hours before Bea finally dropped her gaze, “She doesn't usually do that.” Beas voice was quiet, she sounded a little unsure of herself before looking back at Allie a gentle flush of pink had arisen in her cheeks making Allie think she'd never looked more adorable or more vulnerable in the short time they'd know each other. “You better come in Deb might seem like she's in a rush but trust me we could be here a while.”

Closing the door and turning around Bea held her breath as Allie leaned in and tentatively pressed her soft lips against her cheek. “I missed you,” Allie whispered somehow afraid that if anyone else heard those words they wouldn't hold the same meaning. Beas head felt hazy, her body became stagnant at the lingering sensation of Allies lips against her skin and she knew she'd never felt anything so sweet and silken in her life. Smiling Allie turned and walked away without another word as Bea just stood there watching her, her smile growing of its own accord, her brain feeling as though it had only just woken up even though she was quite sure she'd already been awake for hours.

 

 

 

Melbourne Central Shopping is about as diverse a shopping experience as you can get. With one of the busiest train stations below it and stores wrapping around each floor, it's a marvel to anyone when they first arrive but not to Bea. She chose to always shop for Debbie in the smaller less crowded stores for fear of any memory of Harry forcing its way into her consciousness and causing her to break down in such a public space. Allie saw the fear in her eyes and her body tense up as she got out of the car, it was the first time since that night in the hospital she'd seen it become so blindingly obvious. Waiting until Bea had got Debbie out of the car who was still endlessly chatting about something she really wanted to do over her school holidays she stopped right beside her, reaching for her hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. “We can go someplace else if you'd feel more comfortable.” Allie whispered. Bea shook her head as their eyes met she wasn't going to let him ruin every aspect of her life anymore, the few times he'd brought her here had never ended well once they returned home. Allie wouldn't say she'd embarrassed her, wouldn't berate her for spending too much of her own money on Debbie or on herself, not that she ever spent that much on herself then or now.

“Can we go shopping now?” Debbie asked excitedly, her whole face lit up when she thought about all the shops there were to explore and all the places she could persuade either her mum or Allie to get her something to eat.

“Sure Deb, come on.” Bea held her hand out for her to hold surprised when she grabbed her offered hand and then Allies.

“Well what are we waiting for?” She asked with an impish grin.

There were so many clothing stores to choose from Bea didn't have a clue where to start, Allie noticed her hesitance as they looked in one window.

“I don't really need anything…I mean I'll be back in uniform soon enough what's the point in wasting money if I don't need to?” Bea asked as she looked at Allie.

“Hey it could never be a waste if you're buying something for yourself…I'll do you a deal, for every outfit you buy I'll buy one for myself.”

Bea looked at her confused. “You've never actually seen my pitiful collection of clothes, I never had the money to buy much before and I haven't bothered since I started working at the hospital because it's not like I really go anywhere…maybe you give me a reason to want to go out more.”

“Yeah?” Bea smiled back at her a little more shyly than before.

“Yeah.” Allie smiled back, “Besides you're adorable when you look at me like that.” She looked down at Debbie who was still holding on tightly to their hands before looking back to Bea, “You both are.”

“What's my surprise?” Debbie asked as she stuffed a piece of pancake in her mouth, she could be extremely persuasive when she wanted to be and even when Bea had said no to going to the pancake parlour to eat she soon gave in after her third request, or maybe it had more to do with the almost pleading look in Allies eyes it was hard to believe how similar they could be when there was any mention of food.

“It won't be a surprise if I tell you now.” Allie giggled, “I hope your going to like it.” She hoped she hadn't made a mistake by pre booking the surprise and she wondered if she should have asked Bea first but it was too late now.

 

 

 

“Peppa Pig!” Debbie squealed as they approached Sea Life. “Mummy you told, I said it was a secret.”

Bea smiled, she couldn't remember Debbie saying anything but her life had been so chaotic since the shooting that sometimes she was sure she could easily forget her own name.

“You like Peppa Pig?” Allie asked still a little unsure of her choice of activity.

“I love Peppa!” Debbie pulled her hand free from Beas and tugged Allies hand until she stopped walking and crouched down beside her completely taken by surprise when Debbie let go of her hand as she threw her arms around her neck. “Can I tell you a secret?” Debbie whispered as Allie gently nodded her response. “I like George too…Peppa’s baby brother, but don't tell mummy.” Allie giggled a little, “Don't worry your secrets safe with me.”

Debbie shied away a little as they entered the aquarium, Bea felt her pull back a little and she squeezed her hand. Days out like this were something Bea always intended to do but mostly they'd end up at the beach with the others during warmer weather.

“Hey look it's Peppa waiting to meet ya.” Allie looked down at Debbie who smiled back up at her.

Allie had scoured the internet for hours looking for something age appropriate, trying to put herself in a five year olds shoes, thinking about what her dad would have made plans for them to do, it had been a painful exercise but seeing Debbie's smile she knew it was worth it. She'd been here plenty of times with him when it was too cold to do anything outdoors and she'd always loved it she just hadn't been sure if Debbie would but now watching her and seeing the smile that seemed to be permanently plastered on her face she was sure it had been the right decision.

“How did you even come up with this?” Bea asked as they watched Debbie flipping through the pages of the Peppa Pig activity book she'd just been given.

“Oh ya know, my lunch breaks can be pretty boring.” Allie shrugged not wanting to tell her the truth about how many hours between getting home and their nightly calls she'd spent looking for something that she hoped would be perfect.

“Look mummy I'm Peppa!” Debbie laughed as she pulled the mask she'd been given over her face.

After 3 hours of their walk around the aquarium, keeping a look out for Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and George Pig while they made various stops to look at the regal blue tang, sea stars, flatback turtles and clownfish Debbie insisted that Allie had to join her and Bea as they had their photograph taken with Peppa Pig.

“You're going to stay and have dinner with us right?” Bea asked when they pulled up at home.

“Might be better if I just go home…you might get sick if seeing me.”

“I can assure you I won't.” Bea answered emphatically. “And you did say you were working over the weekend for the next two weeks.”

“I did and I am, even worse still their night shifts.”

“That's settled then.”

Following Debbie into the living room they found Franky slumped on the sofa.

“You three took ya time, forget where ya live Red?”

“What do you want Franky?” Bea asked slumping her shoulders and sighing.

“I was gunna ask ya if ya were coming for a drink with me and Booms but it looks like ya got other plans.” Franky grinned as she looked at Allie.

“Think I'll pass this time if it's all the same, you staying for dinner?”

“Na, hang on, hang on, when do ya go shoppin? Blondie must be a good influence.”

“Piss off Franky.” Bea turned to look at Allie, “I'll just take these upstairs.” She held the bags up slightly that she was still holding.

“Hmmmm, think I should get going.” Franky hadn't taken her eyes off Allie for more than a few seconds and she was starting to feel more than a little uncomfortable under her watchful gaze.

“You said you were staying for dinner, Franky you're going to play nice right?”

“Don't I always?”

Bea turned back to Allie, “Stay, please. If Franky gives you a hard time I'll kick her ass.”

“Dinners almost ready.” Liz called through from the kitchen. “How many are we tonight?”

“Four including you, Franky's leaving.” Bea answered as soon as she saw Franky open her mouth to say something.

As soon as Franky was sure Bea was out of earshot she turned her attention back to Allie, Bridget had told her a lot about her but she wasn't about to stand back and watch Bea get hurt again. Just because Bridget had sung her praises didn't mean Franky thought she could be as great as she made her out to be.

“So exactly what are your intentions here blondie?” Franky’s eyes never left Allie, her stare would usually make people uncomfortable but Allies unwavering expression surprised her a little.

“I like her a lot Franky, she knows that.”

“Yeah but what I'm sayin is are ya planning on stickin around or is she just a bit a fun to ya cos I ain't gonna sit back and watch her get hurt.”

“Franky, I…”

“Na, na let me finish…” Franky needed to say what was on her mind and she wasn't going to be put off now, she might have tried to convince Bea that following her heart was a good idea but if Allie wasn't planning on staying around she'd take that advice back in a heartbeat. “She's been through enough, I'm not sayin what but she doesn't need any more shit. She doesn't normally let people in but you…well I don't know what ya did, I just need to know that ya ain't just gonna stick around until ya get bored with her or someone better comes along.”

Allie hadn't been prepared for this conversation, she knew Franky was protective of Bea and she couldn't blame her for that.

“I won't get bored or move on to someone better Franky, I don't think there is anyone better than Bea. She told me about Harry, although I'm sure she didn't tell me everything and she knows about my past. I have no intention of hurting her…since that first night I met her in the hospital I'll admit I've been scared to death that she'll get hurt again but she loves her job and I'll always support her. Honestly Franky, she means everything to me, more than anyone ever has.”

“She told ya about the dickhead?” Franky looked surprised, that was certainly out of character, even though Franky had been there the whole time and seen what he'd done she rarely ever spoke about that part of her life. “Okay, I'll give ya the benefit of the doubt…for now, but I'm keeping an eye on ya.”

“Exactly what's going on here?” Bea asked as she walked back into the living room with Debbie following close behind.

“It's all good Red, just having a little chat is all.”

“Yeah course ya are, stop giving Allie a hard time or do some have to make ya stop?”

Franky held her hands up in surrender, she didn't want to argue with Bea and risk losing her best friend because she found it hard to trust someone Bea so clearly did. “We're good ain't we blondie?”

Allie nodded and smiled, “We were just talking honestly.”

“Mummy dinners ready.” Debbie shouted through from the kitchen.

“Right, yeah so guess that means I better go meet Booms.”

Bea walked to the door with Franky, she wasn't happy about what she knew she'd just witnessed the end of and as much as she appreciated Franky's concern and protectiveness she wasn't about to let her bully Allie, but for now she wasn't going to say anything until she'd spoken to Allie.

“She didn't upset you I hope.” Bea asked quietly as she walked back into the living room.

“No, she…she's just looking out for you, I wouldn't expect anything else.” Allie smiled, if she were in Franky's shoes she was certain that she'd be exactly the same.

“Mummy!” Debbie shouted again.

“Think we better go and eat before she really gets annoyed.” Bea chuckled as they made their way through to the kitchen.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Franky stared at her phone for the longest time, she hadn't seen Bridget since they went to the diner with Bea and Allie. They'd spoken a few times on the phone and now Franky wanted nothing more than to just see her again. Actually wanting to see someone was a strange feeling for Franky. Normally she'd just sit back and wait for a call then she'd either agree to seeing them again or make any excuse that popped into her head if she hadn't really been that interested in seeing them again. Something she knew was usually the case. Bridget was different even if right now she was struggling to work out what actually made her so different from everyone else. Whenever her name came up it would roll off Franky's tongue like a marble rolling around the floor. She couldn't get her out of her head, Franky was sure she could never be good enough for her and she knew exactly what Franky was like. She'd seen her in action from the first day she started working at the hospital but that hadn't stopped her from trying to convince her to grab a coffee with her after her shift was over. Bridget had gotten under her skin in a matter of minutes and even though she knew she should she just couldn't stop herself from trying to get to know her. Slumping back in her chair she could hardly believe that Bridget would even speak to her, she knew how bad her reputation made her look. Any kind of commitment, except to her friends, scared her to death because the only way she saw relationships heading were down a black hole where you ended up hating each other or walking away with no logic or reason behind the departure. She saw absolutely no reason to think otherwise after all it was what her dad had done the day he left. He walked away from a then five year old Franky leaving her at the mercy of an alcoholic, drug abusing mother who hadn't cared about her for a second of her life.

Franky sighed as she glanced at her phone again willing herself to pick it up and call Bridget, send her a text, just reach out but that was the one thing that scared her more than anything and it was something she never did. She hated what the two years between her dad leaving and her being placed in foster care had turned her into. Even though she'd always known her mum wasn't her biggest fan long before that it hadn't seemed to matter as much because her dad was there. Her mum would shout at her constantly, hit her when she had the opportunity but her dad did neither of those things. She'd almost always been aware that they didn't have much money no matter how hard her dad seemed to work but that didn't matter. She didn't need the fancy clothes or expensive toys that she saw a lot of the other kids with. As long as she had her dad there she felt like the richest little girl in the whole world. He loved her and he was her hero, her light at the end of a dark day with her mum while he was working.

Everyone but her mum had always said that she was a sweet and gentle kid and she laughed at the idea now that anyone would ever have seen her like that. She'd become increasing hard and pessimistic about everything over the years that had passed since being removed from her mums care. Maybe she was just disturbed, she'd figured that anyone who had to live the way she had had every right to be disturbed. She looked at the tattoos on one of her arms remembering why she had chosen to have them there in the first place. They covered the scares of the cigarette burns but they couldn't cover the psychological scares that she hid. Nothing could cover the pain of the beatings her mum inflicted on her, nothing ever seemed to be a good enough punishment even when she couldn't understand what she was meant to have done that was so wrong. She'd buried most of the abuse she suffered in the back of her mind but just because she chose to not remember it didn't make it alright and the scares were just the same, both the physical and the mental.

‘How the hell can you ever let anyone in? How can you think about wanting to get that close to another human being?’ She wondered to herself. Didn't getting close to anyone just mean waiting for the inevitable to happen? They'd leave and leave her heartbroken just like her dad had. Maybe it was just some animal instinct that drove her to try hiding her emotions along with the memories somewhere dark. Someplace where she didn't have to think about them so she could feel safe. She was a fighter, she'd never stay down if she fell or got knocked down. She'd still go out of her way to be nice to the people who she worked with and who she encountered in the course of her day but she stuck with Bea and Boomer and Bea more so because after their first meeting at college she'd shown Franky that not everyone was judgemental and that not everyone would turn their back on her. They were teased by some of their peers and called ‘instructor pleaser,’ they always did their best in every class and they were both smart, learned faster than most of their peers. She'd confided in Bea about the rough start she'd had in life and she had never once judged her or breathed a word to anyone, not even her own parents until Franky had sat down with them and described in graphic detail the turmoil and violence she'd endured.

Picking up her phone once again she decided to take the plunge and call. It was Sunday morning after all and she'd figured out that Bridget's and Allies shift patterns almost mirrored each other's, with the exception that she knew Bridget would work longer hours. ‘Nothin to it,’ she told herself as her thumb hovered over call, Bridget was beautiful and her name Franky thought was like a piece of art, everything about her was perfect. Maybe too perfect for someone like Franky who hardly even dare speak her name opting to give her a nickname like she always did afraid somehow that she would embarrass herself if she spoke her name.

 

 

 

Allie was lounging around her apartment and had been since she woke up mulling something over in her head. Bea was working the next day and if that hadn't been bad enough she'd dropped a bombshell on her over dinner the previous evening that her and Debbie would be away for a few days over easter, six days to be precise. Bea had apologised for not telling her sooner after she'd put Debbie to bed, not that Allie had thought she needed to it wasn't as though she'd been in their lives very long but she had all the same. Their trip to New Zealand was something they did every easter, Bea had explained but Allie hadn't been able to hide her disappointment as well as she'd hoped she could, even if she was going to be working she'd still hoped to catch an hour or two with a Bea and Debbie over the easter weekend. Part of her wished she could drop everything, book a flight and surprise them both but she had to work and was pretty certain that Beas parents wouldn't welcome an uninvited guest anyway. She shelved the idea for the time being hoping that maybe one day she'd get the chance to meet them they sounded amazing when Bea had told her about them and she guessed they had to be. They had taken Franky in without knowing anything about her other than that she was Beas friend and needed a place to stay. Right now lounging around and doing nothing of any particular significance was all she felt like doing. It had hurt a little that Bea hadn't mentioned they would be away sooner. It hurt not because she hadn't told her but because she would miss her, and right now she felt like the most selfish person in the world for wishing she would stay because she needed to visit her family. Visiting family wasn't something Allie couldn't do anymore, she'd made bad decisions and she had to live with that.

Bea had woken up that morning long before she needed to get up but turning over and trying to go back to sleep had proved to be an exercise in futility, after five minutes she'd given up and gone to make herself coffee. She was angry with herself after Allie had left because she hadn't told her sooner about their trip, it had just slipped her mind. Maybe it was just because it was what they had done since Harry was taken out of the picture. Mabe she just hadn't wanted to think about not seeing Allie for a few days but they already went days without seeing each other. The time difference wasn't great so there was no reason they couldn't still have their nightly phone conversations, or morning conversations since Allie was on a night shift for most of their time away, except Bea knew that it wouldn't be the same somehow. The distance between them wouldn't only be a few streets, as the crow flies it was 1,635 miles between Melbourne and Auckland and that was one hell of a distance to put between them no matter how she looked at it. Sitting in the living room she rescued her dog eared sketch book from behind the sofa cushion where she always left it. It was too early to do anything in the garage no way did she want to wake Liz or Debbie up so early, especially Debbie otherwise she'd be impossible all day.

Flipping through the pages she came to a stop at the last sketch she'd started, and for some reason even unknown to her she had left it unfinished. Grabbing her pencil she turned the page looking at the blank sheet before closing her eyes for a few seconds, freeing herself of every thought that had disturbed her sleep. As her hand moved over the page it was almost as if her mind were directing it without her needing to look down. As if instinct alone directed her to the right spot on the page building up a new picture of the only person that she wished she could see right now as she sat alone in the silence of the early morning. Her mind wandered to their trip to New Zealand for a few moments as she wished she could cancel it but her mum and dad were expecting them on Thursday. Debbie would be disappointed if she missed out on seeing her grandparents, she didn't get to see them as often as Bea wished she could. They'd had a good reason to move back home she knew that no matter how much she often missed them herself. She wondered for a second or two about the possibility of Allie going with them but dismissed the idea almost instantly. She had to book vacation time weeks, sometimes months in advance and besides that Allie hadn't been at he hospital that long. She doubted anyone would be able to pull enough strings to get her the time off at such short notice. Then there was always the problem of explaining who Allie was when she'd have to make the inevitable phone call to let her parents know that she was bringing someone other than Franky with her. She could say she was just a friend but that wouldn't fool her dad and she knew that. She wasn't sure she could even explain how she felt to them just yet. With every thought she had her pencil still swirled with every flick of her wrist creating satisfying streaks of graphite on the page in front of her. Two hours later she didn't even hear Liz walk into the room and come to a stop behind the sofa looking down and what or rather who she was drawing.

“Oh love, you really like her don't you?”

“Hmmm.” Bea hummed absentmindedly as she put the finishing touches to her most recent sketch. “Sorry…miles away, what did you say Liz?”

“Allie, you really like her don't you?”

Bea looked down at the sketch, it was good, great even, almost as good as any photograph of Allie ever could be. Her eyes would always stand out no matter what colour they were, bright, inviting and always smiling back at her, drawing her in a little more each time she looked at them. Every detail was perfect, Allie was perfect and no matter how confusing her new feelings were to her she knew it was true. She liked Allie a lot, maybe more than a lot, more than she thought she was ready to admit just yet but how could she hide it? Liz saw more than she let on and everyone who knew her was aware of that. She would never interfere but if you asked for her advice she would think carefully before telling you freely what she thought even if it wasn't what you wanted to hear.

“I do.” Bea breathed, “More than I thought possible…she's…she's just…”

“It's okay love, no need to say anything…I've been around long enough to see what's right in front of my eyes.” Liz patted Beas shoulder trying to give her a little reassurance. She'd always secretly hoped that Bea would eventually meet someone but she'd been insistent that it would never happen. Seeing her with Allie warmed her heart she just didn't like watching her struggle with her new found feelings.

“She likes you, I saw that the second she walked in here with you that morning…why don't you ask her over love? I'm sure Debbie would love that. Seems to me both of you are more than a little bit taken with her.”

“I don't know…what if…what if it goes wrong? What if I can't ever…” Bea trailed off, she hadn't given much thought to where they could be heading. She wasn't sure if they were heading anywhere or if she could ever be what Allie really needed.

“You want to know what I see?” In true Liz fashion she would always ask Bea if she wanted her opinion. Sometimes she struggled with Franky to keep things in but she'd never said anything that wasn't the truth and Franky had always valued that.

“What?” Bea asked as she took one last look at the picture before closing her sketch book and putting it back behind the cushion.

“I'll tell you but I need a coffee and I'm sure you could use a refill.” Liz chuckled.

Bea smiled as she looked down at her empty mug before following Liz into the kitchen, refilling her mug and taking a seat at the table. She was nervous about talking to Liz but the alternative of talking to Franky didn't seem appealing right now. She trusted Franky implicitly but right now she didn't want her jokes and inappropriate comments.

“I think Allie, no, no I don't need to think, I know Allie really likes you. Like I said I saw that that first morning I met her…and yes love I'm aware you'd only met a few hours before and under very difficult circumstances. It was there as plain as the nose on your face, and if she struggles half as much as you are when you can't see each other then you should take a chance. And yes I know what you've always said but Bea you deserve to be happy. He was never right for you I doubt he'd ever have been right for anyone except himself. What happened, don't let that stop you from living the best life you can. You've changed…since you met Allie something in you has altered…in a good way. You deserve to be loved, you deserve the chance to know what it feels like to fall in love, to know that someone other than me, Franky and your parents only want what's best for you.”

Bea looked down at he table as she listened to Liz, she still felt the pangs of guilt for the way she'd spoken to Allie the night they first met but she couldn't deny even then that she felt more than a little drawn to her. Sometimes she even found herself wondering why Allie even wanted to know her especially after she'd told something of her life with Harry. She'd always been convinced that if she ever told anyone any of the details they'd turn and run as far away as they could but not Allie if anything opening up to Allie had only seemed to bring them closer.

“Maybe…I still worry though, I don't have a clue what the hell I’m doing, maybe she'll change her mind and realise that I'm not worth the effort and maybe if she gets too close to Debbie she'll get hurt more than I do when things go wrong.”

“Bea love Debbie's smart, five going on thirty you know that. I've never seen her be so natural and relaxed the way she is around Allie. And you…you need to stop thinking only in the negative. If she cares about you half as much as I think she does then nothing you could do or say would make her leave…now how about something to eat?”

“You do realise Debbie won't be awake for ages?” Bea laughed. “I'm fine thanks Liz, I think I have some real apologising to do for springing our trip to New Zealand on Allie so late in the day.”

 

 

 

Finally finding the courage to do what she had been trying to talk herself into doing for the best part of her waking hours Franky had called Bridget half expecting her not to answer.

“Franky, what an unexpected pleasure.” Bridget answered cheerfully.

“It is?” Franky asked uncertainty clearly evident in her voice.

“Of course, I was just thinking about calling you, obviously you beat me to it.”

“Ya were? I was wondering…I mean if ya’ve got nothing planned, not working or anything…well I was hoping that maybe ya’d come for a meal with me…tonight…but if ya busy that's fine another night.”

Bridget couldn't hold back her smile, what everyone else saw when they saw the way Franky acted wasn't how she really was. She saw her insecurities, her big heart and just how shy and vulnerable Franky really could be. Bridget had seen through the front she hid behind so well but had never wanted to appear too interested in getting to know her. Watching Bea start to become closer to Allie had made her rethink everything. She knew how closed off Bea had always seemed, hardly anyone except Franky and Fletch ever seemed to get close to her. She didn't know anything about Bea but it had always been obvious to her that she was close to Franky, that they shared something that kept them close. Bridget was sure that that bond would never be easily broken not that she wanted it to be. Franky needed someone who wasn't afraid to stand up to her and she'd witnessed Bea and Franky clash on more than one occasion. Everyone needs at least one person in their life who shows up, who says they've got your back and proves it time and time again, and those two, she knew they'd prove it to each other until the end of time and then some.

“Tonight?…” Bridget hesitated not wanting to appear too keen on the idea. “ Let me check my diary Franky.”

“Yeah, yeah that's fine, no worries.” Came the reply sounding so small, “I figured ya’d be busy, was just a…”

“Franky, I was joking, the only thing I have planned this evening is takeout in front of the tv and possibly an early night because what else am I going to do when I have a week of night shifts to look forward to?”

“Yeah…so maybe ya…wait did ya just say yes?”

“Yes Franky, pick me up around seven, I'll leave the details to you…oh and Franky…”

“Yeah?” Franky almost couldn't answer, were her ears actually deceiving her or had Bridget actually said yes?

“Don't be late.”

The line went dead as Franky sat there, motionless, her phone still pressed to her ear, ‘I did it…she said yes, no false pretences, no Bea and Allie included…fuck!’ She dropped her phone hoping she could find a decent restaurant where she could still make a reservation at such short notice.

 

 

 

Bea forgot about her plans for the morning, somewhere between Liz telling her what she thought honestly and waiting for Debbie to wake up she became full of nervous energy. She tried to sit still then paced the living room floor. Tried to read and got stuck on the same sentence unable to move on. Tried to watch tv and flicked through the channels mindlessly because it was Sunday and who the hell watches tv on a Sunday morning anyway? She knew what she wanted to do, what she felt she needed to do but her brain was on fire with a million and one possible outcomes. It was simple, nothing to it, it was just a question, one fucking question and the hardest thing she thought she'd ever do in her life. She ran upstairs and got changed, she needed to be alone for a while, to get out of her own head and calm down.

“Going for a run.” Bea called out to Liz as she let the door slam shut behind her.

Running cleared her head more than going to gym ever did, she was good at it. She was faster than most people, faster than Franky, when they ran together Franky would quit Bea would accelerate and keep going. At work she was all about the team and helping other people but when she ran it was just for her, she felt free and even when there was no one to beat she always wanted to win, to go a little further, a little faster, it was just the way she was. Competition is never a bad thing when you know how to handle it, use it as a positive motivator something she knew Franky never quite grasped as well as Bea did. Every time she ran alone there was never a question of stopping until she'd figured things out since the only time she ever ran alone was when she needed time to think. Today she wasn't good at pacing herself, that skill was eluding her. She was determined to keep going even when her whole body was telling her she was running on empty she found her reserves because she was just stubborn enough to demand that from herself. Running and being a police officer had taught her the true meaning of ‘giving it your all.’ She gave until she thought she'd got nothing left to give and then then still find more to give without question. That was what real endurance was and it was one of the most valuable lessons she'd ever learnt.

She ran, her feet kissing the ground beneath them and she thought about Allie, about how she could have forgotten to tell her that she would be away over easter. About how she was going to try and put the destruction of that bombshell landing back together. She'd never needed to consider anything like this before, never had anyone who she thought she might hurt by keeping information from them. Even though Allie had brushed it off she knew it had to have hurt. Bea ran like the autumn breeze her fiery red ponytail whipping back and forth behind her. She didn't have a clue where she was heading, she lost track of time all she knew was that she needed to ask one simple question. When an idea struck, the perfect idea, she slowed down to a jog before stopping completely and looking around finding herself standing across the street from Allies apartment.

Crossing the street she felt good, she felt it right to her bones, she could do this. She walked with more confidence than she ever had before right up to Allies door before quickly checking the time. ‘She should be awake,’ she thought to herself as she knocked on the door.

Allie wasn't expecting anyone, the knock on the door made her jump, it was almost 11am on a Sunday morning and she suddenly remembered everything Bea had told her about the building manager at her apartment complex. ‘Now you're being paranoid,’ she told herself as she opened the door ready to give whoever it was a piece of her mind for being so inconsiderate as to not call before showing up at her door. Seeing Bea standing there that thought evaporated in a nanosecond.

“Hey…wasn't expecting to see you this morning.” Allie smiled.

Bea smiled back at her, it wouldn't make up for not being around for six days but it was a start.

“Have dinner with me this evening.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

‘Of course she said yes.’ Bea thought to herself as she sat on the same bench she always sat on watching Debbie as she played in the park. Her smile was wider, brighter than ever and right now Bea couldn't stop herself from wondering if everyone around her could tell that she was happy. She didn't care if they could, she was ecstatically happy and nervous all at the same time but it didn't matter because of course Allie had said yes. ‘Shit!’ Bea mumbled under her breath. Allies actual words were, ‘It’s a date,’ before Bea had said she'd pick her up around seven giving her plenty of time to get Debbie settled. At that moment those words didn't sound so bad but now she was sitting here alone and those words suddenly wouldn't quit reverberating around her head. She shouldn't worry about it should she? It was just a figure of speech, she'd heard it said plenty of times. Franky said it to her all the time when they were arranging to do something but this wasn't Franky who had said it to her it was Allie. Did she think it was a date? Was it a date? Was that what Bea really wanted? She tried to concentrate on something else, watching Debbie running around with a couple of her friends seemed to be a distraction for a few minutes before she started questioning herself again.

A slight breeze rustled through the leaves on the trees making them fall one by one to the ground around her and for the time of year the air was still warm. The blaze of colour from the summer flowers was now gone but the scent of the freshly cut grass still hung in the air. She wished she could freeze time just for a few hours so that she had longer to prepare herself for later in the day. Over the sounds of the children playing and the other parents talking amongst themselves came an all too familiar voice.

“Ya do love hiding from me in the park Red.” Franky laughed before sitting next to her on the bench.

“I'm not hiding, one of us has a daughter if you'd forgotten.”

“I'm just messin with ya, Jesus tense much?” Franky looked at Bea who hadn't taken her eyes off Debbie since she sat down and she knew that there was something on her mind. “So come on let auntie Franky help, ya know I'm the best agony aunt ya've ever had now spill.”

Bea looked down at the space between them on the bench, it was painted turquoise and the shade reminded her of the ocean under the suns brilliant summer rays. Her eyes wandered over the space, lingering briefly on the patches that were now showing through the top coat of paint that looked almost green and reminded her of islands far out in the ocean. Without even thinking she reached out her hand and traced her fingers over the slightly rough surface feeling the warmth of the autumn sun that had soaked into the metal.

“Come on Bea…you know I'll listen to ya.” Franky said seriously and Bea always knew when Franky was serious because it was the only time she ever called her by her name.

Bea glanced back over at Debbie before turning to look at Franky. “I know you will, you always have…it’s…fuck, I don't know where to start.” Bea huffed, a little angry at herself for never being able to verbalise what she was feeling. Now more than any other time in her life she wished she could just say what was on her mind.

“I'm guessin this has somethin to do with Allie?”

Bea nodded slowly trying to think of a way to word what was on her mind without causing Franky to break out into hysterical laughter. Even with her serious tone of voice Franky did have a habit of turning things from serious to comical in seconds and she really didn't want to be laughed at.

“I asked her to go to dinner with me…this evening…I forgot I hadn't told her about our trip to New Zealand and I kinda sprung it on her last night.”

“She said no?” Franky asked with a frown finding that assumption hard to believe.

“Course not, but she didn't say yes.” Bea sighed, Franky was going to take the piss now she could see it coming, even if she closed her eyes she'd see it coming.

“She didn't say no an she didn't say yes? What the hell did she say then?” Franky was confused for a short time and then she realised what she must have said, the one thing that she always said. “Oh shit, I get it, she called it a date. Ya do know she probably didn't mean it like that, like a date date.”

“I know.” Bea answered barley above a whisper.

“What do ya want it to be huh? Just dinner as friends because ya screwed up and forgot to mention ya were gonna be miles away for a few days. Or deep down do ya want it to be a date? Cos ya know if ya do I'm gonna be offended since ya've always turned me down.” Franky tried and failed to suppress her laugh.

“Franky!” Bea gently punched her leg.

“Made ya smile.” Franky grinned. “Listen I kinda gave her a grilling. Nothin bad, ya know me always on my best behaviour, an if it helps I don't think she's gonna give up on ya. I mean she seems to be ready to stick around least that's what she told me.”

“Yeah…she's not easily put off, even when I told her…” Bea trailed off realising what she was about to admit to.

“About the dickhead, yeah she said ya had. Look ya can call it what ya like, if ya like her that much whatever tonight is or isn't it ain't gonna matter. Stop worrin about it and just see where it goes. If it's not what ya want better to find out sooner rather than later…an ya gonna have six days to pine for each other so who knows?” Franky shrugged.

“And you started out so well then you had to ruin it.”

“I can hear the cogs turnin from here in that head of yours. Know what I see? I see my best friend fallin for someone an she doesn't even realise it.”

“I can't even try to put it into words Franky. Can you, I mean can anyone?”

Franky shrugged. “Hey ya asking the wrong person.” She answered seriously. “So it is a date then? One ya didn't expect but ya want.”

“I guess. It's like the first ever since, well since…you could never call any of that a date. I have no clue what I'm doing.”

“Ya want me to tell ya how I'd tell it to anyone else but you?”

“Why not I'm sure I'll hear it eventually.”

“Well ya asked for it just remember that after I finish.” Franky looked thoughtful for a few moments. “Dating is like shower sex, it can be totally exhilarating but ya have to remember that it also has the potential to be deceptively dangerous. Most of the time the worst part is how ya feel before ya actually meet up. There's always a high likelihood that no matter where ya go or what ya do it could be a complete disaster. But the two of ya…You've spent time together already, from what I hear quite a lot of time together. I'm guessin that you'll have at least a 95 percent chance of everything going great between ya. Either way it'll make a great story cos even the worst dates are hilarious years later. Don't drive yeah, I'm assumin ya picking her up and make sure ya have wine, plenty of wine. I'm tellin ya whoever invented it must have known that it was always gonna be the perfect thing for first dates.”

Bea sat quietly, listening and half wishing that she could just find a huge hole in the ground and hide in it until such time as Franky decided that she'd said enough, not that Franky seemed to notice for a second.

“I mean she's not a stranger so I doubt she's gonna act like the missing link between humans and apes.” Franky chuckled. “Although I do hear she's fond of yoga so I'm hopin ya not gonna get into that shit cos that's one thing I'm not showin up for, ya on ya own with that one. Could be a good thing for ya, I mean I've seen some of those yoga poses and like damn, flexible much?”

Bea snapped her head round to look at Franky glaring at her and wondering how she could possibly know about any of that. She hadn't mentioned it and she was certain it wouldn't be something Allie would have told her.

“Listen, whatever, call it what ya want if it's a date then it's a date, no need to act like the rest of your life is depending on it. It’s a couple of hours of ya life, an remember ya gotta work in the mornin. An if ya need an excuse to bail just tell her I texted ya and it's an emergency.”

Bea frowned, she couldn't think of any possible situation arising where she'd feel the need to leave Allie sitting by herself, the idea was ridiculous.

“Trust me first dates with people who ya already know are the most nerve wracking and they really shouldn't be, I mean ya already know each other right? So if ya want it to be an actual date just tell her already cos then ya both know where ya stand. Agreeing to take things to a romantic level and…fuck that's fuckin scary, actually wanting to be with another person.”

“And you know that exactly how? When does Franky Doyle ever want a real romantic relationship? You never have.”

“Hmmmm…bout that, I'm kinda takin Gidge out for dinner tonight.” Franky looked away, trying to hide how hard she was struggling with her own feelings because Bea was clearly struggling even worse and she just couldn't look her in the eye right now.

“Shit! Really?” Bea sounded more than a little surprised, “And it was your idea?”

“Yeah…don't give me shit Red.”

“So we're back to Red now?” Bea said a little laugh behind her words as she spoke.

“Ya ain't the only one havin a hard time ya know. I've never, like never felt like this…So should we get Booms to bang out heads together? Knock some sense into us?”

“Knock us both out more like.” Bea laughed freely.

“Yeah…maybe Liz would be the better choice in this scenario.

“So this isn't weird or anythin then, I mean us.” Franky waved her hand between then. “Both of us meeting someone in the same place and arranging dates the same night.”

“Hey I still haven't agreed that this is a date yet.”

Franky ran her tongue across her teeth. “It so is…ya can't hide that dreamy look in ya eyes from me ya know.”

“Piss off Franky.”

“Come on, ya know each other, already spend time together…guessin ya know each others likes and dislikes on some level…well except for in…”

“Franky!” Bea warned ready to actually give her more than a playful punch on the arm, or in the face if she kept this line of conversation going.

“Okay, I'll behave…for now!” Franky wriggled her eyebrows mischievously. “But it's not like ya gonna be just sittin there with nothin to say. An ya know there's already an attraction there, oh yeah and Debbie actually likes her, that has to be an added bonus. Worst case scenario? Ya realise it's not what either of ya wants and ya just go back to normal. I mean it's not like ya got drunk with me and Booms and hooked up with her. Best case scenario…ya stay together, get married and have babies.”

“How the hell do you go from a date to having kids?” That was the thing that always had annoyed her about Franky, her best case scenarios of any situation that had the potential to be life changing were always miles in front of anything Bea could ever get her head round.

“I'm just sayin.” Franky shrugged. “I better get home though, got to get my ass ready I can't waste all my day talkin to ya even if I do love ya.”

 

 

 

Not long after arriving home Debbie was laying in the middle of Beas bed watching her struggle to decide what she was going to wear later.

“Mummy just pick something already.” Debbie rolled her eyes.

“That's what I'm trying to do.” Bea huffed wishing that just for once she could make a quick decision and stick with it.

“I'm going to find Gma Liz.” Debbie said as she climbed off the bed leaving Bea alone to dump half the contents of her wardrobe on the bed.

‘Just keep it casual.’ Bea mumbled to herself as her phone caught her attention making her smile. A text from Allie.


Why does deciding what to wear have to be such a hard task? I mean I had to run out and buy something new. Give me a clue where we're going.


Bea laughed a little, relieved that she wasn't the only one having the same problem although after their shopping trip she didn't need to run out and buy anything else.


I'm not telling you, it's meant to be a surprise.


And what if I tell you I don't like surprises?


Then I'll have to say you'll have to learn to like them because I'm not telling you.


Fine! Can't wait to see you later.


You still might not see me, maybe I'll end up spending the rest of the day staring at a pile of clothes and deciding on nothing.


I'll see you later even if I have to come and dress you myself.


Bea shook her head as she tried to decide how she could even reply. Smiling to herself a few seconds later she typed out a response.


It's a date.


The day felt as though it were ebbing away slower than treacle. After finally settling on what to wear she'd taken a shower and was now trying to convince herself that everything would be fine.

‘What is there to panic about?’ Bea asked herself. ‘Nothing, nothing at all. You're fine, everything's fine.’ It would be, it had to be. As long as she could make herself leave the house she'd feel better once she was face to face with Allies blue eyes and warm smile.

Finding Liz in the kitchen Bea was nervous and questioning herself again.

“Maybe I'll see you later love.” Liz smiled warmly at her.

“I haven't even left the house yet Liz. I'm not sure I want to anymore.” Bea sighed.

“You stop that you hear me? Trust me you're an amazing person, it's okay to get a little nervous. You aren't the only one, Franky was a mess earlier.”

“Hmmm, Franky was full of herself when I saw her.” Bea huffed wishing she'd not heard half of what she'd said.

“And she always will be. Now off you go, go and have dinner with one intention.”

Bea raised an eyebrow wondering if maybe Liz had possibly spent a little too much time around Franky.

“Have fun!” Liz chuckled.

Allie was faring no better. After rushing out to buy a new outfit for the evening she'd spent what felt like a whole millennium pacing her living room. She couldn't even think why she was nervous. Yes she could, ‘It’s a date.’ The same thing she'd said to Bea earlier in the day. Finding herself trying to work through the many factors that are involved in this meticulous process of preparing herself for dinner she got lost in those words. A smile replaced the frown she had been wearing as she threw all logic out of the window replacing it with giddy excitement. ‘Stop thinking about it.’ She told herself even though she knew that was next to impossible.

Now she found herself tugging at the new dress the shop assistant had assured her looked so flattering. Looking at her reflection in the mirror she wondered if Bea would think it was too short. With each tug the front only got lower, revealing maybe a little more than Bea would would be comfortable with so she stopped. It was just going to have to be okay.

Sitting herself down in front of the mirror she took a deep breath trying to calm her now slightly shaky hands. She was going to apply her makeup flawlessly if it took the next hour. Having no idea where they were going there was always the possibility they would run into some horrid fluorescent lighting. Plus she told herself, ‘caked foundation and too much blush are never a good look. Taking her time would be worth it if it meant she would feel confident and comfortable in her own skin.

Bea finally left the house when she was certain that she'd done everything she possibly could to make the evening perfect. ‘Perfect!’ She wasn't even sure she knew what that was right now. She'd reserved a table at what she thought was the perfect restaurant. Booked a taxi to pick them up from Allies since she'd decided that walking there might help her calm her nerves. She pulled her phone out of her pocket as she walked along, scrolling through her photographs. Stopping at one that she liked more than any of the others. A candid shot of Allie and Debbie at the beach, setting her heart racing maybe a little too fast. She walked a little slower as she constructed various scenarios of what lay ahead. Finally paying attention to her surroundings she was surprised to find how close to Allies apartment she now was. As she got nearer all her preparations fled her mind like scared children and her brain felt full of static. As she neared the door she stopped. Part of her was screaming to turn around, but she knew she couldn't maybe part of her future was waiting behind that closed door.

Tapping on the door she knew it was never a great sign when the words in her head, the conversation she wanted to have started to sound witty. Even with Allie she sometimes found herself with little to say. She didn't want that to happen tonight, she just wanted to sound natural and natural for Bea was generally silence.

The door opened a little hesitantly. ‘Allie can't be nervous,’ she thought to herself as she was greeted with the smile she felt she'd been missing since that morning.

“You're a little early.” Allie grinned, of course Bea was early she usually was; Allie knew that was just part of who she was.

“Sorry! I can go and come back again if your not ready.” Bea muttered.

“Don't be silly.” Allie looked around, “Are we walking?”

“No, I…I booked a taxi to pick us up here…needed some air. You look...you look stunning.” Bea blushed a little not quite believing that those words had actually left her mouth.

"Well thank you." Allie smiled brighter than ever. "You don't scrub up too bad yourself, I may have to worry about who's eyes are going to be all over you when your at work."

 

 

 

Donovan's is located on the St.Kilda beach front. Bea had chosen it because Franky had raved about the food and the bayside view. Not that the view particularly mattered since the sun had already set.

“Here?” Allie asked, “Isn't this place expensive?”

“Maybe.” Bea shrugged before opening the door for her. “I've never actually been here but it's only money. I wanted to take you somewhere nice.”

Allie gasped as she stepped inside. Floor to ceiling windows opened onto the beach. The interior of the restaurant was stunning making use of natural timber, richly coloured fabrics and had huge sandstone fireplaces. It seemed to be an inviting atmosphere with the faint smell of an open fire lingering in the air. The place was full as Bea soon found out even making a reservation here didn't mean you wouldn't have to wait. A waiter apologised after showing them to the bar making an excuse about there having been a problem in the kitchen earlier. Taking their seats at the bar they enjoyed a drink together before being shown, ten minutes later, to their beach side table. The waiter apologised again before handing them their menus. The wine menu was extensive causing Allie to frown.

“Maybe I'll just stick to water.” Allie said quietly across the table hardly able to believe some of the prices.

Bea smiled and gestured to the waiter placing their wine order before turning her attention back to Allie. “I told you before it's only money Allie.”

“How do you even know about places like this?” Allie asked.

“Franky.” Bea stated simply. “I doubt there's a restaurant in Melbourne she hasn't been to. She's not just a serial flirt.” Bea giggled softly.

“I never thought I'd ever be sitting in a place like this.” Allie confessed as she glanced around a little more finding the space a little emptier now than it had previously been. “I feel like I shouldn't be here. Like I'm out of place.”

“You aren't. If you feel uncomfortable we could could go somewhere else.” Bea offered before taking a sip of her wine.

“No, no its fine.” Allie quickly dismissed Beas suggestion regaining a little of her usual confidence as their eyes locked.

“You see anything you like?” Bea asked as she gestured to the menu in her hand.

“You!” Allie giggled before picking up her menu pondering over the choices laid out before her. “I'm really not sure, everything sounds so good.”

Bea found herself in the same predicament although she was sure her inability to decide was more to do with the fact that this wasn't something she'd really ever done before. The few times she'd ever gone out to a restaurant with Harry he'd always made all the decisions, the restaurant, the wine, the food. Bea was just used to being told what she was going to eat and not arguing about it even if she did want to try something else. Bea had felt out of place and more than a little self conscious when they first took their seats. Being there with Allie, knowing that she wasn't the only one feeling like that helped her relax. Choosing what to eat was challenging for both of them. The menu was extensive and knowing that she wasn't going to have to settle for whatever was placed in front of her made Bea feel spoilt for choice. Eventually they decided to order one of the dishes for two agreeing on the slow cooked Tasmanian lamb shoulder.

As Bea had expected the food was delicious and they fell into an easy conversation about everything and nothing.

“Would you like to order dessert?” Bea asked as she sat back in her chair a little more.

“You don't look like you fit anything else in.” Allie giggled.

“You're right I couldn't, but I know how much you can eat.” Bea said seriously. The food had been the best she'd ever eaten but there was no way Bea could eat anything else, Allie she was sure could eat dessert for the both of them.

“So can I ask you something?” Allie finally dared herself to ask.

“Sure, anything.” Beas words left her before she'd even thought about her answer and all she could hope now was that the question wouldn't cause her to feel uncomfortable.

“Was tonight just an apology for not telling me about your trip, or did you mean that last text you sent me?”

“I…ummm…did you want dessert?” Bea stalled.

“Bea Smith! Why are you deliberately avoiding my question? Am I that bad?”

“No, no…you aren't. I mean…I don't…I've never, I've never really done this before. Even with him you would never say that was dating. I have no clue what I'm doing, what I'm supposed to do. But yeah…I did mean what I said, the text.” Beas eyes dropped down to the table in front of her suddenly unable to look at Allie. “If that's not what you want though then just take it as an apology and forget about it.”

“Hey…Bea look at me.” Allies voice was thick with concern. “I do want that if you do. I'm not going to push you into something you aren't ready for or don't want. If all you want is to stay friends then we will. There aren't any rules, no set list of things we have to follow. We just make it up as we go along yeah?”

“Yeah?” Bea questioned as she glanced back at Allie.

“Yeah. Now I'm sure you need to get home, you have work in the morning.”

“And if I don't want tonight to be over just yet?” Bea asked shyly.

“Then it doesn't have to be. We can do anything you want, no rules remember?” Allie smiled.

Bea nodded before getting the waiters attention and asking for the bill. As soon as he arrived back at their table Bea took it from him not wanting Allie to see exactly how much it was costing.

“You going to let me look at that?” Allie asked.

“Nope.”

“I should be paying half, it's only fair the prices here are extortionate.” Allie tried to protest even though she was certain Bea wasn't going to hear any of it.

“I asked you to have dinner with me so I'm not even arguing about it.” Bea said firmly as she pulled her credit card out. “It's on me so don't, my treat.”

“I drank almost all the wine, that wasn't cheap.” Allie tried in vain to argue but Bea appeared to not even be listening.

“Only because as you so nicely pointed out I have to work in the morning. Anyway it's too late it's paid for now.”

“Fine.” Allie huffed. “Next time it's on me then.”

After leaving the restaurant they headed to St. Kilda Pier, it was one of Beas favourite places during the day providing panoramic views of Port Phillip Bay and the Melbourne skyline.

“I come here a lot in the summer.” Bea explained as they walked along. “Obviously it's better during daylight hours. I love to go to Elwood beach and take the hour long walk down the coast until I get here. Stop at the little blue cafe for lunch, they have an excellent menu.”

They walked a little further down down the pier in silence just enjoying spending time together. Eventually the night had to end they both knew that except neither of them actually felt as though they wanted it to. Bea glanced to her side every now and again as they walked along. The sound of the ocean had always calmed her, allowed comforting ideas to enter her head. Whenever things were bad and her head felt frazzled she could close her eyes and be transported back to the beach. A few minutes later they had stopped and were looking out into the darkness when Allie felt Beas fingers brush tentatively against hers before they retreated a few seconds later. Allie looked to her side and smiled to herself, Bea was staring straight ahead and for a moment Allie wondered if it had been her imagination. Of course she knew that it wasn't she'd just never witnessed that amount of uncertainty in another person.

“I'm sorry.” Bea mumbled as soon as she sensed that Allie was watching her.

“Don't be.” Allie replied softly. “I'm not going anywhere and you can't scare me away, thought we'd already established that.”

“No? Even though I'm clueless? That I don't know how I'm supposed to act?” Bea sighed, she felt useless and she knew that if Allie wasn't right there she'd hear Harry's voice ringing in her ears. For some reason she didn't quite understand when Allie was there that hardly ever happened, but Allie couldn't always be there could she?

“Hey, none of that matters to me. Whatever you want, whatever you need is okay with me.” Allie tried to reassure her as she allowed her own fingers to stroke over the back of Beas hand.

“We should get going.” Bea quickly changed the subject although she made no attempt to make a move from the spot she felt frozen to.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Bea woke up wishing it was actually possible to strangle her alarm clock. Slamming her fist down on it to silence the noise that had dragged her from possibly the best dream she thought she'd ever had, involving being completely alone with Allie with no time restrictions. Throwing back the covers she sat on the edge of the bed and yawned. It was 4am and it was Thursday morning. ‘Thursday,’ she groaned, as much as she really wanted to see her parents the thought of being so far away from Allie didn't sit right. Bea had reluctantly agreed to Allie not calling her this morning when she got home from work, although if she got a spare minute she was going to text her. But of course Allie was right, she'd be sat in the airport by the time she got home, but Bea didn't know what Allie had been planning. Right now she had to get ready to face the day, and prepare herself for waking Debbie up so early. She always chose an early flight, it meant they didn't lose the whole of their first day now she wished she could change it.

Liz was already in the kitchen when Bea finally dragged their suitcases down stairs.

“Coffee?” Liz's voice rang out from the kitchen.

“Maybe make that two coffees, I haven't woken you know who up yet.”

It would soon feel like the longest day on earth as soon as she woke Debbie up. She'd fold her arms across her chest, pout and maybe stamp her feet her a little, at least until she was fed.

“Have you got everything love?” Liz asked as she appeared in the kitchen doorway a coffee in hand.

“I think so, well except for sleeping beauty. Think I'll wait a little longer to face her.”

Debbie had woken up in the worst mood possible, telling Bea that she was sure it was against the law to wake her up so early and that she was going to call Franky and have her arrested. If it hadn't been so frustrating trying to persuade her that Liz was making her breakfast she would have laughed, right now she felt like throwing her hands up and cancelling their trip. Bea eventually had to walk away after ten minutes of pleading with her to get dressed, thankful that Liz once again had come to her rescue. When a smiling and laughing Debbie finally appeared in the kitchen Bea wished she didn't always have to rely on other people to do something so simple as getting her own daughter out of bed and convincing her to get dressed. It seemed to her that Debbie would do anything Liz or Franky asked her to do and for a few moments she wondered if she'd be exactly the same with Allie.

Bea returned to the living room to check her carry on, she could never have too many wet wipes and snacks. Mostly everything she had on the plane with her was for Debbie, Liz had come up with an idea the first time they had gone to New Zealand and it was something Bea always did now. Debbie's plane bag had been a simple idea and had evolved more as Debbie grew, but still one Bea was grateful to Liz for. She never let Debbie see it before they got on their flight and it was only full of cheap pocket money toys but it kept her entertained throughout the three hour and thirty five minute flight. And if the crayons, colouring books and small lego sets failed there were always the sweets to fall back on when all else failed.

Allie was stressed, she'd managed to arrange to start her shift the evening before two hours early so that she could leave early, not that she'd mentioned that to Bea. It wasn't something she'd thought would get approval but when she'd been told that as long as it was only a one off her request wasn't impossible. It was now 0600 and she found herself dealing with a patient who completely refused to comply with any request she made. Walking out of the treatment room in utter frustration she came face to face with Bridget.

“Aren't you meant to be leaving?” Bridget asked sensing her frustration.

“Doesn't look like that's going to happen, Ruby was meant to be taking over this patients nursing care and I can't see her anywhere.” Allie huffed, it was typical she knew that, whenever Allie had something important she really wanted to do something always went awry.

“Then you're in luck because I know exactly where she is, go on get out of here.”

Allie didn't need telling twice as she almost ran to the locker room, she wasn't sure if Bea would appreciate her showing up unannounced but she couldn't let her go without seeing her. They hadn't seen each other since Sunday, their work schedules being completely out of sync, and their agreement to not speak to each other that morning was just wrong really. Allie made it home in record time, quickly got changed and headed out again.

 

 

 

Liz as always drove them to the airport, it seemed like the smallest thing in the world to her but to Bea who still had to navigate check in and airport security with Debbie by herself it was huge. Struggling with a possibly very grumpy five year old and their suitcases was almost her idea of hell on earth except today Debbie wasn't nearly as grumpy.

“I'll be here to pick you up on Tuesday.” Liz assured Bea after helping her with their luggage.

“What would I ever do without you?” Bea smiled back at her.

“You'd manage love, you're more than capable of doing anything you set your mind to.”

Bea wouldn't argue even though she was sure that if she were completely alone she'd mess up. She knew she had to start standing on her own two feet, knew she needed to find them their own place but she'd still be reliant on other people in some way. Staying with Liz wasn't a necessity anymore it had become a habit and one that seemed impossible to break even though she knew it was time. It would be hard, finding time to even look for a house sometimes felt as though it would be an impossible task but she had to do it or they may well never leave. Being in Liz's house had always felt safe, it reminded her of being at home with her own parents but now more than ever she had to move on. She wasn't sure where things with Allie were headed but if after everything she'd been through she managed to be self reliant and live alone then why couldn't Bea?

Sure she had just heard her name being called Bea looked around the steadily moving throng of people. Seeing a flash of blond hair and a hand waving at her left her a little confused as she checked the time.

“I thought I was gonna miss you.” A slightly out of breath Allie said as she came to a stop in front of Bea.

“Shouldn't you still be at the hospital?” Bea asked when she realised that she wasn't wearing her scrubs.

“Couldn't let you just disappear on me like that now could I?” Allie grinned. “I'm gonna miss ya.”

“How are you even here? Not that I'm not happy to see you because…well, I am but…”

“I asked for a favour, if ya don't ask ya don't get right?”

“Yeah.” Suddenly almost 2000 miles seemed like the worst thing in the world to add to the mix of crazy working hours and rushed phone calls where one or both of them almost fell asleep. “I'll…I'll miss you too.” Bea hesitantly admitted.

“And what about me?” Debbie asked as she appeared by Beas side looking up at Allie her arms folded across her chest.

“I'll miss you too sweetie.” Allie smiled as she crouched down ruffling Debbie's hair in the process.

“You better!” Debbie scrunched up her face before running off back to where Liz was stood holding her juice.

“Think I've been told.” Allie laughed as she returned to her standing position.

“She's just still a little grumpy this morning, not a fan of getting out of bed early.”

“Well I can't blame her for that.” Allie replied trying to sound serious. Given the chance she knew she'd gladly keep Bea in bed next to her for the whole morning, knowing how much Debbie hated waking up could actually one day mean it was a possibility.

“We need to check in.” Bea blurted out, suddenly even more aware that six days was going to feel much longer.

When the time came a short while later for them to say their goodbyes Bea couldn't believe how hard it felt. Saying goodbye to Liz was easy and she walked away without a great deal of fuss even from Debbie who almost always wanted her to be going with them. She didn't go far, a thought had occurred to her as she watched the interaction between Bea and Allie earlier and she had a question to ask Allie. Deciding that she'd wait outside seemed to be the better option so that Bea wouldn't get suspicious if she saw her hanging around. It would all be a lie something Liz would rarely do but this she told herself was for the greater good.

‘It's a few days, not even a week.’ Allie told herself when she realised she couldn't keep stalling for time as they headed in the direction of security.

“I know you have to but I wish you weren't going.” Allie mumbled as Bea turned around to face her one last time.

Bea took a step closer. “If it helps I wish you were coming with us.” Bea whispered in her ear before stepping back again.

The sudden look of sadness Allie saw looking back at her made her want to reach out and hold her but she wouldn't. Bea was more often than not nervous around her and the last thing she wanted to do was scare her. After everything she’d witnessed with Bea, how easily she could become uncomfortable by the smallest touch she didn't want to take two steps back after how far they’d come.

“Has everyone forgotten I'm still here?” Debbie asked as she looked up between her mum and Allie.

“Now how could I ever forget about you?” Allie giggled as she crouched down again and pulled her into a hug. “Don't give your mum a hard time and enjoy seeing your grandma and grandad. I'll see you when you get back yeah?”

“It's Gran and Gramps actually. They don't like being called that!” Debbie retorted. “I wish you didn't have to stay here, you could have come to the beach with me and Gramps to look for shells.” Debbie's tone of voice changed instantly.

“Maybe another time, I have to work Deb.” Allie smiled back at her.

‘Next time.’ Bea thought to herself, she couldn't imagine doing this again without Allie by her side. She knew her mum and dad might be a little shocked but they'd love Allie, she couldn't think of any reason for them not to. Her mind wondered to everything the three of them would have so much fun doing together and she didn't notice that Debbie had asked her a question until she felt her tugging on her hand.

“Sorry Deb, what were you saying?”

“I asked you if we could leave auntie Franky at home next time we go and take Allie instead.”

Bea didn't know how she was going to respond to that. Franky went with them later in the year and had done for the last three years. Beas parents were the closest thing she'd ever had to having real parents and they had always seen her like one of the family since the first day she arrived home with Bea.

Allie saw the struggle Bea was having and jumped in hoping that Bea wouldn't think she was interfering. “As much as I'd like to meet your Gran and Gramps I'm sure they look forward to seeing auntie Franky.”

“They love auntie Franky…we all do!” Debbie said happily. “But I want you to come as well.” She said much more seriously.

“Maybe one day I will.”

“You will still miss me won't you?” Debbie asked innocently.

“Of course I will, everyday, and twice on Sunday.” Allie winked back at her causing Debbie to giggle.

“And you'll still miss mummy?”

“I will.” Allie confirmed as she locked eyes with Bea for a few seconds. ‘More than anyone will ever know.’ She thought to herself.

“I'll see you both on Tuesday.”

Bea nodded, Tuesday morning seemed so far away right now. Grabbing Debbie's hand she slowly turned to walk away, so many words ran through her mind none of them she wanted to say out loud in a busy airport, or in front of Debbie right now.

 

 

 

The last person Allie expected to find waiting around as soon as she exited the airport was Liz. Bea had told her how much Liz had done for them and now Allie found herself coming face to face with her and to say her expression was unreadable was an understatement. She seemed nice enough the few times she'd seen her, she'd given her a bed for the night but that didn't mean anything really did it? Had she waited for her to warn her to stay away from Bea? Was she just going to interrogate her worse than Franky had? Every possible bad thing that could be about to happen played out in her head in the matter of sixty seconds. Before she even realised what was happening Liz was saying something that didn't register in her brain.

“Are you okay love?” Liz asked as she spotted the apprehension written on Allies face.

“Umm, yeah…just tired I guess, did you need something?” Allie asked nervously as she tried to prepare herself for whatever she was about to hear. No matter how bad it was going to be it couldn't be worse than knowing that for the rest of that day, the next four full days and half of Tuesday she wasn't going to be able to even catch a glimpse of Bea. If she did see Bea again, maybe that would depend on what she said right now.

“Don't look so worried, I'm not as bad as Franky.” Liz chuckled.

“Okay.” Allie laughed nervously wondering what the hell was actually going on.

“They'll be back before you know it. Actually I was wondering if I could ask a favour.”

“Sure if I can help you out.” Allie relaxed a little.

“I would ask Franky but I'm sure they'd prefer me to ask you. I was hoping maybe you could pick them up on Tuesday. Must be getting forgetful.” Liz laughed. “I promised to help Maxine out while they were away, she needs some time away from the salon. Personal reasons, you understand.”

“Of course, I'd be more than happy to.” Allie finally felt the remaining tension leave her body.

“You aren't working are you? Wouldn't want to get you into trouble.”

“No, no…my shifts are a little bit crazy right now but I'm not working on Tuesday. Working weekend night shifts sometimes has an advantage.”

“That's good then. Their flight gets in at 1145 Tuesday morning, Bea and her early flights, never quite worked that out.”

On her journey home Allie, no matter how tired she was now feeling, was happy. She'd be there waiting for them when they got home, and even though she was surprised by Liz's request she wouldn't have said no even if she had been working she'd have worked something out.

 

 

 

Bea sat quietly, glancing at Debbie from time to time who was happily colouring, hoping that the next few days wouldn't drag. They'd still talk on the phone, the two hour time difference and Allies night shifts wouldn't stop that but time would drag.

Bea hadn't given a second thought to her phone until they were waiting for their luggage and she pulled it out of her bag. She always turned it off when they flew and today had been no different, what was different were the text messages that she received. The first was from Franky telling her to not do anything she wouldn't do. Bea rolled her eyes before reading the one from her mum letting her know that her and her dad would be waiting for them. Seeing two from Allie was more than a surprise since she didn't expect to hear anything from her until later in the day.


Just before I fall asleep I wanted to remind you that I'm going to miss you.

 

Bea didn't need a reminder, she already missed her just as much.

 

So I can't fall asleep because I forgot to ask you to let me know that you arrive safe. Please don't make me worry more than I already am!


The last thing Bea wanted was for her to worry, they'd taken this flight so many times she didn't think it was something to worry about but she quickly typed out a reply.


I hope you're asleep now you can't work and have no sleep. We're just waiting on our suitcases so obviously we got here in one piece. I hope you won't be too tired tonight and I'll speak to you soon. I miss you too.


Hitting send she hoped that Allie had her phone on silent the last thing she wanted was to disturb her sleep. Slipping her phone into her pocket she grabbed their bags thankful they hadn't had to wait too long.

 

 

 

The rest of the day dragged, as much as she loved being with her parents right now she'd rather be at home. There had been a time when she'd considered leaving Melbourne to get away from the painful memories. She'd talked for hours with Liz and Franky about it and even though they'd both said they'd miss her they understood her reasons. In the end she hadn't wanted to take Debbie away from the people she saw as her extended family, not to mention the thought of starting over scared her more than anything else.

The four of them had just finished dinner and Beas phone rang. She wouldn't as a rule keep it with her all the time when she was with her parents, no one ever called unless it was Franky. Pulling it from her pocket her mum watched as her face lit up with the brightest smile before she excused herself from the table.

“What are your mum and Franky up to now?” She looked at Debbie who shrugged.

“Those two are always up to no good.” She nudged Michael who didn't seem to have noticed how quickly Bea had left the table.

“Did I miss something?”

“I was just saying that Bea and Franky are always up to something…it's not like you not to notice something like that.”

“Something like what?” Michael asked as he sat back in his chair slightly confused.

“Her smile…lord knows she doesn't usually smile like that, not even when Franky calls, must be serious.”

“That won't be auntie Franky.” Debbie chimed in looking at her grandparents. “It'll be Allie, mummy's new friend….can I leave the table now please?”

 

 

 

Sunday morning and Debbie was awake before anyone else in the house. The promise of being taken to Rainbows End for the easter carnival just her and her gramps had kept her awake late and woken her early.

“Baby it's too early.” Bea groaned as Debbie bounced around her bed.

“You wake me up early.” Debbie reasoned as Bea sat up glancing at the time.

“Not on a Sunday morning at 6am.” Bea sighed knowing that she would wake everyone up long before they needed to get up.

“But its easter.” Debbie grinned as she finally sat down next to her mum.

“And I don't think you need any Easter eggs you're giddy enough.” Bea laughed.

“That's not fair.” Debbie folded her arms across her chest and frowned. “I've been good, why would the easter bunny forget about me?”

“Not what I meant Deb, I just mean….never mind.” Bea shook her head, it was too early to start explaining when she'd only be asked more questions.

Over breakfast the only topic of conversation was centred around Debbie who couldn't wait to get to Rainbows End. Being reminded that it didn't open until 10am couldn't dampen her enthusiasm, the highlight of her day would be the great magical egg hunt. Reminding her gramps that as soon as they got there they had to get an entry form.

Seeing her little girl so happy always made Bea feel happier but this morning she knew there was something, or rather someone, missing out on witnessing her happiness. Debbie's kind of happiness was like a cloudless spring day, the kind where you don't really notice the weather at all. Under a clear blue sky it wasn't warm or cold, it was just perfect until the rain came. The rain in Beas next few days would be the fact that she was missing Allie more than she imagined she would.

Debbie tugged on Michaels hand trying to make him move faster, she wanted to be at Rainbows End now not later and he laughed when he thought about how much like her mum she was. How Bea would try to drag him out of the house to take her to the park or the beach. How as a teenager she'd still try to drag him to the garage to work on her bike because she needed help.

Debbie hung on to Michaels hand tightly as she tugged him in the direction she wanted go.

“This way gramps.” She laughed eager to find all the magical creatures and the eggs they were guarding. Encountering the unicorn she squealed with delight, ‘So much like her mum,’ Michael thought to himself as she set off again. Finally finding the easter bunnies hiding place their quest was complete.

“Where to next kiddo?”

“Magic show.” Debbie grinned.

“Right this way m’lady.” Michael chuckled as he took hold of Debbie's hand again.

As they were nearing kidz kingdom Debbie stopped. “Gramps look…jugglers.”

They stood and watched for a while before finally setting off to watch the magic show.

Their final stop of the day was at the centre court carnival.

“I wish mummy and Allie were here.” She whispered to Michael as they watched all the rainbows end characters.

“You like Allie?” He asked as he watched her nod and smile.

“Yeah…she makes better sand castles than auntie Franky, and she likes pizza just like me.” She giggled.

“Well no pizza today kiddo, your mum and gran are expecting us to be hungry when we get home.”

 

 

 

“What happened there?” Alice asked as Bea rolled her sleeves up while they were preparing dinner.

Bea had forgotten about her latest scar, not that her mum or her dad had seen most of them that she had spread around her body. If there was one thing Harry had always been good at it was never leaving a mark where anyone on the outside could see them.

“Just ran into some trouble at work, it's nothing.”

“And what kind of trouble leaves a scar like that?” Alice questioned her daughter.

“Can we just forget about it?” Bea didn't want to talk about it, especially not with her mum.

“Beatrice Alice Smith, we don't have secrets in this house so please just tell me.”

“Fine!” Bea sighed recounting the main parts of that night.

“You didn't think to call? Ask Franky or Liz to call?”

“I didn't want to worry you, either of you. And it's fine honestly, Allie patched me so it's all good.”

“Would that be the same Allie you're always on the phone with?”

“The same, she's a nurse…now can we just get on with the food or you can deal with Deb when they get back.”

Something about Bea was different, her mum saw that the moment she spotted her at the airport. Now things seemed to be making a little more sense and it seemed that the change must only be down to one person, Allie. She was definitely happier, she hardly remembered the last time she'd seen her smile so much. Every time her phone rang or she received a text her smile just grew wider. Bea could say she was just a friend but she wasn't stupid, it was obvious that whoever Allie was she more important to Bea than just a friend. Not that it mattered to her, the only important thing to her was her daughters happiness. If Allie made her happy then she had to be something special. On a few occasions when Franky had been there for a visit they had joked that maybe Franky should find someone for Bea. It had only ever been a joke, one that Bea had protested loudly about.

No one had ever liked Harry, the first time Bea had brought him home Alice had taken an instant dislike to him. At the time she hadn't known what it was but she knew he was completely wrong for her daughter. She didn't voice her opinion when they had said they were getting married as loudly as she later wished she had. But Bea wouldn't listen anyway, telling them that the baby deserved both parents. Walking into the hospital room her little girl had been laying in was the hardest thing to do, the only thing she could be thankful for was that Harry's hot head had removed him from her life permanently. She'd never been able to believe that it was the first and only time he'd hurt her, Bea would never go into details. She'd admitted to the odd slap here and there but never let them in on anything more serious. Michael had grilled Franky, cornered Liz and asked every question he could but neither of them would betray Beas confidence. Michael had tried to get her to open up to him, she'd always told him everything, but that was before Harry.

Michael had been ready to kill Harry, luckily for him he'd already got himself killed. It didn't stop him from feeling responsible. He should have know what was happening before they left Melbourne. He hated himself for not seeing what had been going on right under his nose, he was a cop, attended domestic violence calls he knew the signs. Bea told him every time the subject came up that there was nothing he could have done, she should have been stronger and left him. Bea was his little girl and no matter how old she was until the day he took his last breath he would always see her that way.

All the way home Debbie had talked about Allie, told her gramps how much fun they had had at the beach. Told him all about their shopping trip and that Allie had surprised her with a trip to sea life to see Peppa Pig. The more Debbie told him about Allie the more he thought that he'd like her, if they ever got to meet. He knew what his granddaughter was like around new people and to see her smiling and laughing as she told him everything she knew about Allie definitely told him that she must mean a little more to his baby girl than just a friend.

 

Chapter Text

 

Bea couldn't think of any better way to spend the flight back to Melbourne other than sleeping. Debbie had fallen asleep almost as soon as the plane had reached its cruising altitude which was a rarity for her. Bea was tired after spending the best part of the night talking to Allie on the phone, she'd only ended the call when she realised that Allie had fallen asleep. Now though she would admit that she was glad she'd fallen asleep because that meant she was spared the embarrassment of being reminded of what she'd said. Every call ended with a ‘goodnight’ even though it had been early morning and every call ended with Bea missing the sound of her voice a little more. Before she'd even thought about what she was saying the words had slipped out, barely above a whisper but they had slipped out. ‘Goodnight beautiful,’ since the moment her eyes opened she hoped that Allie had really been asleep. She had no reason to doubt that she wasn't since she knew she'd had very little sleep since finishing work on Monday morning. She didn't exactly regret her words more the timing.

Being back home with her parents she'd had a lot of time to herself since her mum and dad always spent as much time with Debbie as they could. All that time to herself just made her miss Allie even more, and gave her more time to think about how she was really feeling. Pushing her feelings to one side though she'd thought about everything that she hadn't said, the truth she'd kept from everyone; even Liz and Franky. If she really wanted to know if Allie was serious then she needed to find the courage to tell her everything, and that scared her. She didn't even know if she could dig deep enough within herself and find the courage to tell her, what if after all that Allie didn't want to stick around. It was a chance she had to take, her life with Harry had been hidden behind half truths and she didn't want to live like that ever again. She was clueless when it came to relationships she knew that, but if Allie didn't run away as fast as her legs could carry her they could work it out; together. Checking that Debbie was still sleeping she closed her eyes, she would have plenty of time to think about what she needed to say and how she was going to say it later she decided.

Collecting their luggage not too long after they landed Bea was glad to be back home, for the first time she had a reason to look forward to being back. Debbie followed quietly beside her before she suddenly set off running.

“Deb slow down.” Bea called after her assuming that she'd spotted Liz, although she herself couldn't see her.

Walking a little faster trying to keep up with Debbie Bea almost forgot how to breath when she saw Allie with Debbie in her arms.

“What happened to Liz?” Bea asked when she finally came to a stop in front of them.

“I'm not completely sure, she said something about having to help Maxine out.” Allie smiled. “Anyone would think you weren't pleased to see me.” She continued as her smile faded.

“What? Of course I am…when exactly did Liz tell you she needed to help Maxi?”

“Last week.” Allie mumbled.

If anyone other than Allie had been standing right in front of her telling her this Bea would have been angry. She'd known she would be picking them up every time they spoke and said nothing. It wasn't hard to imagine that Liz had asked her the day they left.

“Sneaky old…”Bea laughed.

“So you wanna get out of here?” Allie asked as she gently lowered Debbie back to the ground.

“Well since you're here I'm not going to say no.”

The ride home passed quickly as Debbie told Allie everything about her day at Rainbows End, leaving nothing out. From the stilt walkers and jugglers, the egg hunt and the interactive magic show with Andre Vegas. Bea sat quietly preferring to listen to them talking and laughing, after all she'd heard all about Debbie's day as soon as she'd got back on Sunday and it had been the only topic of conversation at the dinner table.

Allie helped them take their bags in and had turned to leave when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

“You don't have to leave…unless you have something else to do then maybe I'll see you later.”

“Are you sure? You look tired and I wouldn't want to be in your way, I know you have things to do.”

“I am and I do but it's nothing that can't wait until later, who wants to do laundry as soon as they get home?”

“Guess I'm staying then.” Allie brought her hand up to where Beas was still resting on her shoulder and gave it a squeeze before turning around. “May as well make myself useful, how about I make lunch?”

 

 

 

Sometime in between them finishing lunch and Debbie finally dragging Allie upstairs to her room to show her something Liz had called letting Bea know that she wouldn't be back that day. Bea was a little concerned when she heard that but Liz had assured her that there was nothing for her to worry about. It was strange for Liz to ever be away from home but Bea wasn't going to question her over the phone. Liz had mumbled something about Maxine before telling her that she'd be back by Thursday morning before Bea left for work. Accepting what Liz had told her for now she decided to find out why silence had descended over the house. It was unlike Debbie to be so quiet unless she had fallen asleep, and in this case both Allie and Debbie would have to have fallen asleep.

Quietly walking up the stairs she walked slowly towards Debbie's room, the door was slightly open and she could hear Allies voice. Peeking through the gap she was amazed by the sight before her. Allie was sitting on the bed, her back against the wall. She had a book in her hand reading to Debbie who's head was resting in her lap. Allies soft voice drifted through the gap as well as any pollen drifting on a summer breeze. Just for a few moments Bea felt more present than ever as she stood still and listened.

“I think it's only fair to tell you that I was devoted to your mother. I owe my very life to her. She was brilliant, beautiful, and loyal to the end. I shall always treasure her memory. To you, her daughters, I pledge my friendship, forever and ever.”

“You have a mummy and a daddy just like my mummy does don't you?” Debbie asked.

Allie paused letting the book drop a little as she looked down at Debbie who wasn't smiling anymore.

“Well…yeah, but not like your mums.” Allie paused not sure how to tell Debbie that her situation was different. “We all have a mummy and a daddy.” Allie finally finished her answer although it was a struggle.

Allie raised the book again, her eyes drifted back to the words when Debbie remained silent.

“I pledge mine,” said joy.

“I do, too…”

Debbie interrupted. “Where's your mummy?” She asked inquisitively.

Allie placed the book down on the bed beside her before she looked back down at Debbie.

“My mummy…she's not around anymore.” Allie sighed not sure she knew how to answer any more questions she might ask.

Debbie scrunched her face up as she looked back up at Allie. “So she's gone like my daddy?”

Allie inhaled sharply wishing that Bea was right there with her. She wasn't prepared for Debbie's questions, never thought for a second that she would ask. She didn't mind of course, Debbie was a child. Like all children she was trying to understand the world and the people around her. She could easily recall herself being curious at the same age, asking her dad every question that ever sprang into her mind and he always did his best to answer her. She'd never been questioned like this before by anyone, even Bea didn't ask. She wasn't prepared for her questions but she was determined to give her the answers the best she could.

“Yeah, she's gone.”

“Not your daddy? Will you take me to see him?” Debbie continued.

Just the mention of her dad made Allies heart drop, even now she missed him. Wished things had been different, that she'd been different, that he'd taken her with him when he left.

“Sorry Deb…I…I don't know where he is. He left when I was little like you.”

“Like auntie Franky's daddy did?”

“Yeah…just like auntie Franky's daddy did.” Allie smiled sadly at her.

Bea wiped a tear from her cheek that had slid from her eye. Allie and Franky were more alike than either of them realised and it broke her heart a little more hearing Allies words.

Debbie quickly sat up, turned around to face Allie and pulled her into a hug.

“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you sad.” She whispered. “You can share my mummy if you want to.”

“Thank you.” Allie whispered back. “Now…shall I read or do you want to do something else?”

Allie knew that if she was still around she'd tell her the truth one day, but that was a long way off. At least she knew that Debbie probably didn't remember the things that her dad had done to Bea. No young child should ever have images of violence left in their memories. She would find out too soon that the world could be a cruel cold place where not everyone in it was a good person.

Bea walked away quietly deciding that she would leave them to it. Allie had handled Debbie's questions even though she knew it had been hard for her.

 

 

 

“Debbie asleep?” Allie asked as Bea returned to living room with two coffees after putting Debbie to bed.

“Yeah…out like a light. Not sure if it was the flight or Charlotte’s Webb that helped in the end. Apparently you read better than I do.”

“You heard that?” Allie asked as she took one of the mugs from Bea.

“Yeah, I wasn't meaning to listen in on ya. It's just…well it's never usually that quite when Debs around, thought ya might have both fallen asleep.”

Bea took a seat next to Allie, suddenly wondering if telling her everything was really the best idea after all. It was better if she knew, ‘sooner rather than later,’ Bea had told herself. Debbie was already getting attached to Allie and if she was going to walk out of their lives it would be better she left now rather than months down the line.

“I need to tell you something…it…it's not great and, well…”

Bea looked at Allie who's eyes showed nothing but the same gentle concern that they always did whenever Bea felt uncomfortable. Sometimes she wondered if Allie really could read her mind or if it was just that she always started off the conversations the same way. Allie laid a hand lightly on Beas shoulder, instead of flinching like she usually would she found she felt soothed by it. Leaving her hand there she spoke in the softest voice.

“You can tell me anything you know that. Whatever it is I'll still be here long after you've finished, if you want me to be.”

Bea felt Allies words calm her a little more, although she quickly decided that it was the way her words were said rather than the actual words that helped. It felt like she were being wrapped in a blanket of care. Bea needed to phrase what she needed to say carefully for both their sakes because she could see how it would effect Allie to.

“This is all new to me, you know that already.” Bea gripped her mug a little tighter as she circled the rim with the thumb of her other hand. “The way we met probably wasn't the best start, I mean I wasn't exactly that nice to you.” Bea turned her head a little reluctantly and looked into the eyes that were watching her intently. “It's not as if we've known each other all that long but I know I can trust you. That's scary for me because I never feel like that. Take Franky and Liz out of the mix and I rarely talk to anyone except for when I'm at work.”

Allie in that moment wanted to do nothing more than to just wrap her arms around Bea but she stopped herself, for now anyway. “I would never try to force you to tell me anything you don't want to. You know I'll always listen, no matter what it is you want to tell me. You can tell me anything but I don't want you to feel like you have to, its up to you. I told you no pressure, everything goes at your pace.”

“I know and I'm not sure you know how much that means to me. While we were away…I missed you and I've never missed anyone before, it was a relief when Harry wasn't around, even when I knew how bad things would be when he came back, at least for a few hours I was free.”

Placing her mug on the coffee table Bea turned her body to face Allie a little more. The possibility that Allie may just leave was an ever present thought but she wanted to, needed to do this. She was tired of secrets and lies, lived with them for too long and she didn't want that with Allie, even if it meant losing her. Looking her in the eye was always hard, looking anyone in the eye was hard. Glacier blue eyes should be ice cold, at least that's what she thought at first, that they could never know warmth or share love. The emotion in the eyes that always looked back at her were fathoms deep, carrying warmth and life and an indescribable knowledge that the hottest fire burned no other colour but blue.

Allie reached out taking Beas hand in hers, a hand that without words spoke loudly of the vulnerability and caution that Bea hid from everyone.

“It's alright, take your time. You don't have to say anything that you don't want to.”

Bea swallowed hard, it had to be worth the risk.

“He was all I'd ever known, I'd never had any interest in dating. I just wanted to be the best I could be at everything. Fletch warned me to stay clear of him, Franky and Liz hated the sight of him but I fell for his act. I know I've told you most of this before so just stick with me yeah? He was quite sweet to begin with, when I told him I was pregnant with Deb he changed so fast, slapped me and said I had to have an abortion. I didn't see him for three months then he begged me to give him another chance, he wanted to get married so we did. After Deb was born he was okay, he took an interest in her and I guess I believed that everything would work out. Then he changed and things turned to shit pretty quick.” Bea paused for a few seconds waiting for Allie to tell her she was repeating herself, that she'd heard all this before but she said nothing just kept her eyes on her. After taking a deep breath to steady herself a little Bea continued. “I told you it just started with the odd slap, then there was the incident with the table and the broken vase. One day after that we'd been on an emergency call and it took priority meaning I was late home and couldn't call him to let him know. He hated Fletch almost as much as he hated Franky, convinced himself that there was something between me and Fletch. He accused me of sleeping with him almost everyday. I wouldn't do that and I told him that but he never listened no matter what I said. That day Deb was spending the night with mum and dad and I'd never seem him fly into such a rage. I hardly recognised him, he kept demanding that I tell Vera I needed a new partner and when I said no he punched me in the stomach.”

Allie winced at the thought and held back a sob, from the first time she'd ever heard anything Harry had done she'd hated him. She was thankful that he was dead and at the same time felt bad for Debbie especially after their brief conversation earlier in the day. She knew no matter what this wasn't going to be easy to hear but would be even harder for Bea to say. Her tough exterior might still hold her together for a while longer just as it had for years but when it cracked Allie would be right there.

“It became an almost daily thing after that, he even confronted Fletch at the station. The whole situation was a mess but I wouldn't do as he wanted. Fletch was suspicious, but I hid it told him it was nothing, made excuses every fucking day. I bet you wonder why I put up with it, think I'm weak for not taking Debbie and running as far away as I could.”

“No.” Allie said softly. “It never crossed my mind for a second. It would be easy for me to say you should have just walked away but I know it wasn't as simple as that.” Their eyes locked for a fraction of a second and Allie was sure she could feel the pain that swirled in Beas brain. She wasn't stupid, she knows far too well that people do things because they are driven by their emotions. Wanted to reassure her that everything he did to hurt her was never anything to do with who she is.

“I couldn't leave, he'd have found us no matter where we went. I was fucking terrified of him but I stayed mainly because of Debbie. I thought about it, almost everyday I came up with a new plan. I wanted to just pack some clothes and just run. She loved her dad, at least I'm sure she did. And maybe staying in the end worked out for the best because now she never has to hear about any of this. Hopefully she won't ever find a memory locked away of something he did. And I'm aware that even babies can remember traumatic events, I just hope she has no memories of it. I hid things from everyone, even Franky has no idea what I'm about to tell you.” Bea paused again, listening just to make quite certain that Debbie hadn't woken up and wasn't going to walk in and hear any of their conversation. “He'd come home drunk or just sit around the house getting drunk. Then he'd…he'd demand things, things he said were rightfully his to take even when I pleaded with him to stop.”

“He forced you?” Allies voice broke a little along with her heart, she'd know it would be hard to hear but this wasn't what she expected. Not that she'd really had any clue what to expect.

“He was always so adamant that I was sleeping with Fletch. His reasoning was that that was why I didn't want him. The first time he'd been out with his mates and he woke me up when he crawled into bed beside me. I was pretty groggy when I turned over to face him and told him to go to sleep, he had an early shift the next day. I turned over again ready to go back to sleep as he sat up and before I even realised what was happening he'd flipped me onto my back. I begged him not to do it resulting in him slapping me and telling me to be a good girl. I was his wife and it was his right to take what was his whenever he wanted to. After…I couldn't believe what he'd just done, I couldn't even cry. Before he turned over and went to sleep he asked me if I thought he was a bad person. You know what I said? I said no, sometimes good people do bad things.”

Bea bit her tongue as she tried to hold back the tears that were threatening to leave her eyes. She couldn't even now understand how she'd ever said that to him. Couldn't imagine how weak and pathetic that must make her sound to Allie. Unable to hold her tears back any longer she expected Allie to get up to leave. She didn't even notice at first the hug of gentle arms that were still giving her room to breath. Arms that told her she wasn't alone, that Allie wasn't going anywhere.

“As much as I don't want to I really need to be going home soon but I'm not going to leave you like this.” Allie whispered as Bea finally found the courage to look her in the eye again. Something had changed in her eyes, they were like fire in water. She wasn't going to run for cover as she'd expected, she'd stay and walk freely alongside her. Nothing Bea could ever tell her would make her leave until Bea herself told her to go. Even then she'd put up a fight because Bea was worth fighting for.

“How can you even want to stay after hearing that? That I stayed and put up with more than anyone should?” Bea asked through her tears.

“You weren't responsible for every shitty thing he did. He should have loved you, both of you. I don't understand for a second how he could have ever laid a finger on you like that. I never could, never to hurt you.” Allies eyes looked back at her, as blue as the ocean, so full of life yet so uncertain. The different blue hues they contained carried every emotional current that ran through her body and for a moment Bea thought that before she could take another breath she might drown in them. Allie could soothe her with a caring and understanding that never relented, never gave up on her. One look from her and she felt whole, the wind a rain would cease, maybe the whole damn world might stop turning. She was like a perfect summers day in a floral garden and Bea had never had that before. Seconds turned into minutes before eventually Bea pulled away slightly.

“Are you working tomorrow?” She sniffed hoping that she didn't have an early start.

“Don't worry not until the afternoon.”

“You better get going, think I may have taken up too much of your time for one day.”

“Trying to get rid of me?” Allie giggled. “Because it won't work, I'll keep telling you I'm not going anywhere until one day you actually believe me.”

“I do believe you.” Bea glanced at the time. “It's getting late.” She yawned still tired from getting up early and now more exhausted from crying than she thought possible.

“I'll text when I get home.” Allie smiled as she turned around after walking out of the house.

“You better.” Bea smiled back.

“You'll be okay won't ya?”

“Yeah, it's not the first time Liz has been away for the night.”

“That's not what I meant…I mean after earlier, promise me you won't think about what ya told me all night.”

Bea yawned, “Not a chance, I might be asleep by the time you get home.”

Bea almost fell into bed a few minutes later after checking on Debbie. She could barely keep her eyes open when she heard her phone.


I'm home, obviously. Sleep well and maybe I'll see you tomorrow.


Why don't you come over for breakfast?


I'd love to, see you in the morning. Get some rest.


Bea tossed her phone on the bed and closed her eyes smiling to herself. She shouldn't have doubted Allie for a second, should have know that nothing she told her would scare her away. Where ever they went from this point on she had nothing left to hide, secrets never did anyone any good she knew that from experience.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Bea awoke the next morning as the sun was rising, casting the eucalyptus tree outside her window in its virescent hues and bringing a little warmth back after a chilly night. Bea felt something new, as if invisible holes had been poked into her skin while she slept allowing all the tension to leech out of her body. She stretched before she remembered that she'd invited Allie over for breakfast. She almost jumped out of bed, her steps felt lighter. ‘Maybe this is what happy feels like,’ she thought to herself as she quickly checked that Debbie was still asleep before heading downstairs.

Allie had struggled to get to sleep after everything Bea had revealed. She'd drawn the conclusion that if Harry hadn't already been dead she'd have hunted him down and killed him with her bare hands. Then she'd turned over in her head the questions that Debbie had asked her about her parents until she'd eventually fallen asleep around 2am. Waking up later than she had intended she'd rushed round her apartment, had the quickest shower she'd ever had before grabbing her car keys and running out. ‘She said breakfast idiot not lunch.’ Allie scolded herself as she jumped into her car and took off.

Being awake so early Bea had been in no rush to get ready for the day and after making coffee she sat in the living room with her sketch book. She didn't expect Debbie to be awake anytime soon and an hour just slipped away from her. Glancing at the time she quickly replaced her sketch book behind the cushion and headed upstairs to have a shower.

Bea suddenly realised that she'd probably spent too long in the shower as she walked back into her bedroom hearing a car door slam. Quickly looking out of the window she spotted Allie walking up the drive. ‘Shit!’ She cursed out loud as she pulled the towel tighter around herself. She didn't have time to get dressed Allie would be knocking on the door any second and this had not been how she had envisioned answering the door. Heading downstairs she heard the anticipated knock. She couldn't deny that she was excited to see Allie, she was always excited to see her, she just wasn't sure that she was ready for Allie to see quite this much of her yet. She had no intention though of leaving Allie standing on the doorstep so her options were considerably limited, and it could have been worse couldn't it? Allie knew almost everything there was know about her now. It was out of character for Bea to have let her guard down so quickly with anyone, but Allie wasn't just anyone.

“I brought…” Allie stopped speaking the instant Bea opened the door fully, grabbed her by the hand and pulled her inside.

“Sorry.” She mumbled as she closed the door quickly. “What were you going to say?”

“I brought breakfast.” Allie answered quietly before her smile returned. “Did ya forget to get dressed or were you expecting someone else?” She giggled.

“You are kidding right?” Bea looked seriously at her.

“Maybe, just a little. I thought it was just me who was running late.”

“Yeah, I overdid my time in the shower…sorry, I didn't expect to be standing here in nothing but a towel.”

“You don't hear me complaining do you?” Allie smirked. “Deb not up yet?” She looked over Beas shoulder trying not to make her feel more uncomfortable than she clearly already was.

“No, it's a little early for her, loves her sleep. I'll just go and get dressed.”

“Don't feel like you have to on my account, I mean I am kinda enjoying the view.” Allie grinned.

“Allie!” Bea tried to sound shocked but she couldn't deny the that she felt her heart rate increase significantly.

“I’ll behave, you get dressed I'll get the coffee.” Allie walked away in the direction of the kitchen laughing to herself a little.

Bea rushed upstairs quickly pulling on the jeans and a t shirt she'd thrown on the bed before showering. Feeling a little more confident now she wasn't just covered in a towel she made her way back downstairs finding Allie sitting in the kitchen.

“Sorry about that, I don't usually answer the door wearing practically nothing.” Bea said as she took a seat next to Allie.

“And here I was thinking you actually did it on purpose.” Allie threw back before taking a sip of her coffee. “You do like croissants don't ya? I should have called and asked but I thought I was going to be really late.”

As they ate the conversation turned to the weekend. Allie had wanted to ask her if she'd have a spare hour or two on Saturday night the day before but when Bea had steered the conversation to her pig of a husband she'd put it to the back of her mind.

“I was wondering, I mean if ya can't it's fine. Some of the girls at the hospital are going for a few drinks on Saturday night…maybe you'd come out with us, with me I mean. Bridget's going and I think she said Franky was all for it.”

“I'm not going to say no but I'll have to ask Liz if she minds watching Deb.”

“Yeah…sorry, it’s a stupid idea anyway…maybe we could do something else, take Deb somewhere. If you want to, don't want you getting sick of me do I?” Allie suddenly felt like the most selfish person ever. It wasn't as if she'd forgotten about Debbie she just wanted them to have some time alone. But then going out with other people, especially if Franky was there, was hardly going to give them that anyway.

“Hey, I'm sure Liz won't mind, I haven't ever made a habit of going out. And, well maybe we could do both.”

Bea hardly ever saw a nervous Allie but right then all her usual confidence seemed to have evaporated into thin air. Allie had, if Bea was really honest with herself, intrigued her from the beginning. Ever since she'd stood right in front of her in the treatment room telling her that she was new to her job. At first she'd thought it was that that made her feel nervous around her but the more she'd got to know her the more she'd realised that hadn't been the reason at all. The more she'd learnt about her the more she liked her and as confusing as that was she knew she'd never get tired of seeing her. It wasn't possible she'd decided especially after she'd seen first hand how good she was with Debbie. And now here she was actually saying she would pass up a night out in favour of doing something that would revolve around Debbie. The sudden urge to lean in and actually kiss her hit her like a punch in the stomach. As much as she wanted to she just wasn't brave enough. ‘Fuck you aren't even brave enough to hold her hand.’ Bea looked around the kitchen trying to compose herself a little more but as soon as she looked back at Allie the urge only intensified as their eyes locked.

Bea was still afraid to show her true feelings, generally choosing to look away, but what she saw in Allies eyes in that moment told her that she wasn't the only one. No one ever looked at her the way Allie did, she was sure most people didn't actually pay her any attention at all. No matter how scared she was of her feelings, and how quickly they had intensified, she always had a need to hear her voice, to see her, be close to her. The next few seconds melted into a haze as they both leaned in pulling back almost as quickly when they heard Debbie bounding down the stairs. Bea jumped off the chair she'd been sitting on so fast it almost made her head spin. ‘Fuck,’ she thought to herself as she glanced back at Allie not knowing what to expect. She was worried, the last thing she wanted to do was hurt her feelings but that wasn't what she saw looking back at her. Apart from a slight hint of amusement etched on her face all she saw in Allies eyes was was the same look of comfort and understanding that she always saw.

Allie could have kicked herself, ‘What the fuck were you thinking?” She silently asked herself. She'd said she would never pressure Bea into anything she wasn't comfortable with. A few seconds earlier and she could have gotten herself kicked out of the house for good. Then she realised that it hadn't just been her and that left her wishing Debbie had stayed in bed a few minutes longer. ‘Maybe it's for the best,’ she told herself. As much as she really wanted to kiss her she also didn't want to scare her, and after everything she'd heard about Harry that wasn't something she wanted to do. She knew she'd do almost anything to stay in both their lives for as long as she could, hopefully if they took things slowly for as long as possible may just turn into forever.

“Gma Liz would have my breakfast waiting for me, I'm starving!” Debbie announced as she sat in the chair that Bea had just moments before vacated.

Allie giggled when she looked at the serious expression Debbie was watching her mum with.

“Seriously…Deb you've been awake all of two minutes.” Bea tried to argue even though she already knew the response she'd get.

“But I tell you all the time it's hungry work sleeping all night mummy.”

Allie laughed, earning herself a frown from Bea. “Maybe she does have a valid point. I mean all that dreaming must work up an appetite.”

 

 

 

Liz arrived home on Thursday morning just as Bea was making her way down the stairs.

“Did you have a good time love? I'm sorry I wasn't here when you got back.” Liz asked as she watched her walk down the final few steps.

“Yeah ya know, the usual. Mum and dad spoilt Deb rotten so I had plenty of time to myself. What's going on with Maxine?”

“She wants to tell you herself, asked me to get everyone together on Sunday. You don't have any plans with Allie do you?”

“No, no not for Sunday. Can I ask a favour?” Liz's question hadn't properly registered with Bea, not that Liz had been taken in the least bit by surprise when she answered without hesitation. It was obvious to anyone who cared to pay any attention to her exactly how she felt about Allie.

“Need me to watch Deb?” Liz asked guessing that the favour couldn't be anything else.

“Yeah. Am I becoming that predictable?”

“No love, you hardly ever ask. You hardly ever go out unless Franky and Boomer drag you out, and then you argue. Plans with Allie I'm guessing? I think she's good for you.”

“I haven't said yes yet, wanted to check with you first. She'll be out of your hair all afternoon we were going to take her out.”

“It's fine, you don't have to explain anything to me. Just promise me one thing.”

Bea looked at Liz cautiously remembering the conversation they'd had when they were going out to dinner. “Yeah, what?”

“That you'll go out and enjoy yourself, don't spend all night worrying about Deb.”

“No chance of that happening, I hear Franky's gonna be there with Bridget.” Bea chuckled, she already knew she was going to get teased unmercifully by Franky but being there with Allie would help take her mind off anything Franky could throw her way.

Knowing Allie would most likely still be asleep Bea decided that she'd wait for an hour or two before she tried to call her. The idea of being out with people that she didn't know unnerved her a lot but Liz was right she didn't ever go out without an argument. Roadworks were driving her crazy this morning, when she hit the first lot she started wondering how she'd deal with living alone. Her main problem as she saw it were the shifts she worked, when she eventually returned to general duties she'd have night shifts. By the second set of road works she'd made her mind up to ask Will about what she needed to do to become a criminal investigator. She knew there were exams involved and more training, she just wasn't sure if she had what it took.

Walking into the station everything seemed the same as it always was with the exception that there seemed to be less noise.

“Fuck Bea we gotta go.” Fletch called out as he ran down the corridor towards her.

“What's happening? Hold on I'm not late.”

“Just had a call come in from Franky, shit move it would ya.”

The thought of Franky being in any kind of trouble filled her with fear. Sure she was tough, good at her job and would always follow procedure just like she did. The problem wasn't Franky it was who ever may be the cause of whatever incident she was attending.

Fletch was already sitting in the car with the engine running when Bea got in. “Ya gonna tell me what the hell is happening?” She asked as Fletch sped out of the yard.

“They have a guy cornered in one of the apartments.”

“What apartments? Fuck, Allies apartments?”

“Yeah, as I hear it they were called to a domestic, least that's how it was reported. Don't have all the details.” Fletch shrugged.

Worried thoughts looped through Beas mind until there was no room for anything else. She was worried for her best friend, who through no fault of her own was still partnered with Collins. Franky could take care of herself but Collins being in his last few weeks before retiring wasn't prepared to put himself on the line. And then there was Allie, how close to her apartment was any of this happening, who was involved? Question after question drifted through her mind and before she realised what was happening Fletch was out of the car.

“Ya comin?” Fletch asked as he opened the passenger door guessing what was troubling Bea.

Bea took in their surroundings as she exited the car, thankful that they were on the other side of the apartment complex. Quickly following Fletch when he spotted Franky speaking to Will.

“And you're sure it's Taylor?” Will asked looking seriously at Franky as Collins hovered around seemingly uninterested in the events of the morning.

“Yeah it Taylor, fucker refuses to come out. He's armed.”

“And the hostage?”

“Fuck ya askin me for? Listen we get the call for a domestic.” Franky shrugged. “Had no reason to doubt it was anythin else right? An look who I'm partnered with. As soon as we arrived it was obvious it wasn't a domestic.” Franky eyed Collins who seemed oblivious to anything that was being said. “Saw two guys comin out the apartment, one took off running. Can't be sure but I think it was Bates, Taylor looked like a deer caught in the headlights and ran back inside. Fuckin lost the other fucker though, this place is a maze. An he ain't no help.” Franky nodded towards Collins.

“There's been no contact with whoever is inside?” Will asked a little annoyed at the situation, if Franky were with anyone else he knew that she'd be calmer.

“No, an I ain't no hostage negotiator. Not even sure if there is anyone other than Taylor in there, haven't seen anyone.”

Bea was sure her day wasn't going to go as she'd hoped, after an hour of hanging around and being given nothing of any significance to do she was bored. She watched all the activity happening around her and wondered what the hell she was even doing there. Pulling out her phone from her pocket she decided that she'd just give Allie a call.

“Hey, aren't you meant to be working?”

“I guess that's what you might call it. Listen stay inside until ya have to go to work yeah?”

“Bea? What's going on?” Allie felt her mood change instantly.

“Nothing much, nothing for you to worry about.”

“You are worrying me, tell me you aren't going to get shot or worse.”

“Doesn't seem as if that's possible I'm being kept away from whatever is going on, honestly everything's fine. Saturday…” Bea wanted to change the subject as soon as she could. “Liz says she'll watch Deb so if…I mean if your sure, I'd love to go out with you.”

“Yeah? So it's a date then?” Allie giggled.

“It's a date.” Bea confirmed smiling to herself as Will beckoned to her. “Listen I gotta go, I'll call ya later.”

“Not if I call ya first.” Allie laughed.

 

 

 

“This is gonna be tough Bea but I've got every faith in you. You ready to do what needs doing?” Will asked knowing before she answered that she wouldn't turn away from any job she was given.

Bea laughed a little as she felt her heart race. She had no idea what Will had in mind and no idea what would happen if things turned to shit. Would she hesitate? Would she let everyone down? Her thoughts raced back to the night outside the casino. She couldn't be the reason someone else died, she wouldn't let it happen. She had to get her head back in the game because she couldn't hesitate or worse still freeze.

“Stop thinking about it.” Wills voice filtered into her ears. “Your eyes give you away, trust me you've got this.”

Bea wasn't so sure but Wills voice had a hint of determination behind every word. ‘How the hell can he be so sure?’ She wondered before shaking off any remaining doubts she had, whatever happened next his expression told her he had her back.

“Sorry, I know you're right. I just can't shake it off completely. I've got to show everyone that I can still do my job.” Bea felt her face flush, embarrassed a little for saying what normally she wouldn't say to anyone, anyone except Allie. Allie got it, got her and gave her the reassurance she needed to get her thoughts together.

“You have nothing to prove to anyone Bea. Don't you get it yet? The only person you need to prove anything to is yourself. What you went through no one can understand that unless they've been there. I'm sorry to say I was once so I get it. Trust me on this, no one else matters, only you. If you don't want any part in this I understand”

Bea didn't know a great deal about Will, Fletch had worked with him a few times while he was a general duties officer but Fletch never spoke about it much. Somehow his words put everything into perspective for her and she felt more confident. The fire that had always been there had reignited and told her that she could do whatever needed to be done.

Usually Allie always felt calmer after speaking to Bea but nothing about their short conversation had seemed normal. She was left with a feeling of unease and turned on the tv switching straight to a news channel. The usual bad news playing out in her ears each time the news reader opened his mouth was nothing new. She was just about to head back to the kitchen when he announced that they were going live to a possible hostage situation and she turned back to face the screen. Her apartment complex came into view behind the crime reporter and she spotted Bea and Fletch in the background. ‘Fuck!’ She cursed aloud, ‘no wonder she told me to stay in.’

She watched the events playing out in front of her for a while longer, finally recognising exactly where they were. Her eyes were glued to the screen for a few minutes longer as she watched Bea clearly having a discussion with the other detectives and uniformed officers. ‘Stay in, yeah right!’ Allie thought to herself when the thought of actually being able to see her in action popped into her head. Besides that she reasoned to herself if anything went wrong, if anyone got hurt she'd be right there. Allie pulled on her shoes, forgetting everything else and walked out of her apartment.

As she approached the other side of her apartment complex there were police vehicles everywhere. People who she guessed must have been asked to leave their apartments were standing around, most looking unhappy. When her eyes finally landed on Bea the whole scene had a different feel to how she'd last seen it on tv. There were more officers and Bea along with Fletch and another guy she'd never seen before had their guns drawn. The whole thing was starting to look more like a standoff as Allie found a spot in the crowd that gave her a better view. Bea was focused, her gun drawn and she couldn't take her eyes off her.

“What's going on?” Allie asked the woman standing on her right.

“First I knew there was a cop banging on my door ordering me out of my apartment.” The woman glanced at Allie. “Since I've been out here I've heard the cops saying they think someone's been shot, might be dead. Guessing it's shoot to kill if the bloke doesn't give himself up.”

Allie felt her heart almost stop beating, she certainly held her breath for a few seconds. Everything told her that she should have done as Bea had asked and stayed at home. Who was she kidding, she wouldn't miss actually seeing her at work, she wanted to be right here. Hearing gunfire come from one of the windows the whole crowd ducked. Bea had turned around to face the crowd hoping that no one had been hit when she spotted Allie and shook her head.

“Fuck! Fletch.” Franky yelled and everyone turned to see him laying on the ground.

“It's okay.” Fletch groaned as he lay staring at the sky not actually realising that he'd been hit.

Allie looked back at Bea then back to Fletch noticing the blood that was seeping through his shirt. She was close enough to hear every word that was being said.

Franky dropped to her knees beside Fletch applying pressure to the wound. “You're gonna be fine mate, everything's gonna be okay.”

Fletch lifted his head and looked down at his stomach and grinned through gritted teeth. “Yeah…paybacks a bitch ain't it Franky?” Allie wanted to help, Fletch looked like he was breathing normally as he lay his head back and she knew there was no way she'd be allowed through anyway. Franky obviously knew what she was doing and she was doing a great job of trying to keep him calm.

A couple more shots rang out from the window as Allies attention returned to Bea who glanced at her for a second. Seeing the man in the window Allie felt panicked, the gun in his hand scared her more knowing how close Bea was to it. More officers surrounded Fletch and Franky, the only way they were going to get him out of there was to get the shooter away from the window.

“I'm going to get you out of here Fletch.” Allie heard Bea say as her eyes fixed on the window as she raised her gun.

Allie could do nothing but watch helplessly. Bea didn't look scared, her eyes were on point and she was concentrating on the window, when the man came back into view she pulled the trigger. There was no evidence of self doubt, she wasn't shaking, she was the cop that she'd always been. The man in the window stumbled backwards and he wasn't seen again.

“Move it!” Bea shouted out. “Get in there and get the scene secured and for fucks sake get the paramedics over here now!”

Allie watched on as officers went into the apartment covering each other. Watching Bea take charge of the scene was an amazing sight but Allie was watching it through blurry eyes. She couldn't stop her tears from falling, half from relief that Bea hadn't been hurt and half for Fletch even though she hardly knew him. Everything started happening so quickly, Fletch was put on a stretcher and placed in an ambulance with Franky following close behind ignoring Collins completely. When she turned back towards the apartments she saw Bea looking at her, she looked worried. ‘That's better than her being angry with me.’ Allie told herself. She must have a million different thoughts spinning around inside her head right now and Allie guessed that she was probably a little pissed off with her, but not too pissed off. She didn't want to leave just then though as she watched Will walking over to Bea to speak to her. They spoke for a few minutes and he patted her on the back with a huge smile on his face. Bea wasn't paying much attention to him, she'd turned to her side and her eyes were fixed on Allie. As much as Bea hated knowing that she'd seen what she'd had to do somehow she glad she was there. The thought even sounded crazy to Bea the moment it sprang into her mind. Somehow she was sure that knowing she was there, watching her, had helped her get through the incident.

 

Chapter Text

 

Allie knew it was impossible for her to hang around any longer or she would be late for work. Looking over to where Bea was she wanted nothing more than to speak to her but she was obviously busy. There was nothing better than watching an extremely confident looking Bea taking charge of the situation instead of the uncertain and extremely nervous version that she'd witnessed so many times. Taking one last long look at her she quickly turned around and reluctantly walked away.

“How the hell did this get called in as a domestic?” Bea asked Will.

“Who the fuck knows. Don't even know who made the call yet.” Will shrugged, everyone was just happy to have taken Taylor out of the loop. Bea had fired one shot hitting him directly in the shoulder causing him to stumble backwards, letting his gun fall to the floor before crashing down onto it himself. He was still alive and maybe he would do the right thing and give them answers when he'd recovered a little. Right now he was on his way to hospital with a police escort, no one was taking any chances.

Will watched Beas every move, listened carefully to every word, every order she gave. She was ready to apply for promotion that much he knew, as long as she wanted it. He wanted to ask her about it but with all the chaos of the day he wasn't sure he would get an opportunity.

As the daylight began to dwindle Beas tension returned. Each wall of the concrete apartment complex was identical. If it wasn't for the police tape no one would ever guess there had been a major incident right there a few hours ago. The police presence had been scaled back and the residents had returned to their apartments. Giving Liz a quick call to let her know she was going to be late she finally let her thoughts return to Allie. She couldn't believe that she had really been out there, watching her. Bea knew that she had been shaking a little when she first drew her weapon but she hadn't been as scared as she thought she was going to be.

“Let's get you to the hospital find out how much damage has been done. You did great out there, I'd go as far as to say you were amazing. Taking that shot, giving out orders; I didn't need to be here at all.” Will chuckled.

“I wouldn't go that far.” Bea smiled sheepishly. “Surprised we haven't seen Vera since things calmed down.”

“Surprisingly so was I. Turns out she's coordinating the search for Bates, never known her to be so hands on…come on let's get out of here.”

“I can't leave the car here, besides I'm capable of driving.”

“Yeah I know, thought you'd want to check on Fletch. You gotta tell him how well ya did.” Will answered as he walked off towards the car.

“I only did what I'm trained to do. I had the shot so I took it. In the moment I made a snap decision. Fucker deserved it anyway, he did shoot Fletch.” Bea muttered as she got in the car.

Bea was worried about Fletch but Franky had already let her know that he was going to be alright. She was more worried about Allie, about her actually witnessing how tough her job could be. She was a little upset with her too. She hadn't needed to leave her apartment, she'd ask her not to but she hadn't listened.

“Saw that nurse friend of yours in the crowd.” Will said as he drove away, a smile spreading on Beas face straight away.

“Yeah, she's a stubborn little shit. Reminds me of Debbie.” Bea laughed.

“She knows what you do. Sure, seeing it first hand might have been a little tough but she'll be fine, you know that right?” Will asked. “And Fletch, he's as hard as nails. Had my back many times when we found ourselves in a bind. He’ll miss you.”

“What?” Bea snapped her head round. “Miss me? Where am I going?”

“Nowhere, I mean…look we can discuss this tomorrow, next week, hell whenever you want…I was hoping I could convince you to apply for a position in CID. You know the job, got the skills.”

Bea laughed, easily remembering what she had been thinking about that morning. “I was meaning to ask you about that then shit happened.”

“Like I said Fletch will miss you, guessin so will Vera. So later yeah, we’ll sit down and discuss it?”

“Yeah…they better fucking miss me if I get through.” Bea looked out of the window noticing how close they were to the hospital. “I wish it had felt this easy that night at the casino. Even though I'm back at work I didn't think I'd be able to do this again, draw my gun, take the shot.” She sighed, better to get the confession out of the way now rather than when they could be overheard.

“You're talking crazy now.” Will glanced over at her seeing the neutral expression on her face.

“I didn't think I would be able to handle something like this again. I wasn't even sure after it happened if I'd even be able to do any of the job properly again. It was Allie…she convinced me I could…Then this morning, I told her to stay in her apartment. Course she didn't listen.” Bea laughed a little. “Seeing her there, knowing she was watching me, I think it helped.”

“I didn't mean to keep you hanging around, thought you would have said something.” Will grinned. “I wasn't testing you if that's what you were thinking, I knew I didn't need to do that. I knew you'd step up as soon as you were in a position to do so, knew you were ready to take charge.” He explained with a confident tone.

“I'm glad I was there, I'm just sorry about Fletch…still can't believe he got shot.” She knew he was okay and didn't want to think about how she'd have felt if he hadn't been. If Taylor had actually been looking to shoot to kill. She couldn't have guessed that he didn't really have a clue what he was doing. She quickly worked out that he was an awful shot and she was grateful for that.

“You have to take the rough with the smooth, the bad with the good. You know that better than anyone Bea, you were on fire out there today. You just didn't see it did you? Everyone jumped at your orders, you didn't need me. Maybe at first they saw you as an outsider, I know what it can be like first time out of general duties. They trust you, from what I saw today I can say that without hesitation. But you…you just have to have faith in yourself, same way you say Allie does. You more than proved what you're capable of to everyone but everyone's not who matters. You just needed to prove it to you. Trust me if they thought for one second you couldn't handle it they'd have looked to me, no one did not even you.”

As Will dropped Bea off outside the hospital she was more anxious than ever.

“You aren't coming in?”

“No, you need to check on Fletch by yourself, maybe you'll even run into that friend of yours. If you need a lift back to the station give me a call I'll be working late.”

“Thanks, I think…”

 

 

 

Allie had been quiet since the beginning of her shift. She was a bag of nerves and her stomach had been churning so much that she thought she would throw up. Seeing Fletch laughing and joking with Bridget and Franky before he was moved from the ED had calmed her down for around ten minutes. As soon as her thoughts had turned back to Bea her confident manner had slipped away faster than the speeding truck. She hated feeling like she couldn't do anything. Even though she knew that Taylor wasn't a threat anymore she still worried. She'd spent the few minutes she'd had spare between patients talking to Franky. Hearing that there was still another suspect out there somewhere left her more afraid for Bea. She hated feeling like this but hated not knowing if Bea was okay even more.

“Reds fine Blondie, ya know that, she's made of tough stuff.” Franky smiled at Allie as she saw her on her way out of the hospital because she needed some air.

“But you said…”

“I said Bates got away from me, what'd ya expect with Collins as my fucking sidekick.” Franky sighed.

“So what if he goes back over there?”

“Trust me he won't, the guys a crim not a complete idiot. He's not gonna risk it while the place is swarming with cops. What he does when they've gone is anyone's guess, but right now I'd say he's crawled back under the rock he's been hidin under.”

“She was pretty amazing…the way she just shouted out orders.”

“Hey I was there ya know!” Franky playfully slapped Allie on the shoulder. “Now if I'd have been in charge…”

“Yeah, yeah no one could resist ya. All the girls would be dropping at ya feet. You'd have been swatting em away like flies.” Allie giggled.

“Ya know me so well.” Franky wriggled her eyebrows.

“I wouldn't have been one of them, maybe I should find out if Bridget would.”

“No one can resist me, admit it, if ya didn't meet Red first ya’d have wanted me. Ya know one day I'll be famous, there's gonna be a wax work of all this in Madam Tussaud’s.” Franky gestured up and down her body.

“Oh, is there space in the chamber of horrors?” All quipped.

“Ouch!” Franky chuckled. “Feeling better now?”

“A little, I better get back or Rose will be sending out a search party.”

The next hour of Allies shift was uneventful and she only had a couple of patients with minor issues. One who complained of a weird pain in his big toe and the other with a stomach ache. Before she knew it or could think of anything else they had a sudden rush of new patients. Allie found herself first with a female patient in her 60’s with chest pain. In another treatment room she was faced with a young boy who had fallen off his bike and had a possible concussion. Next came a three month old baby with a high temperature. She took it all in her stride, certainly not happy that people had to be ill for her to stay occupied but defiantly grateful of the distraction.

Running into Ruby on her way out of a now empty treatment room she took pity on her. She wasn't sure if she played dumb on purpose with everyone or if it was just when she was around. It was maddening when she was rushing around and it seemed Ruby was doing nothing except clowning around.

“This is the last time, I'm not the only other nurse here.” Allie stressed as she followed Ruby to the treatment room.

The next hour was hectic. She'd provided an extensive education session on lumbar punctures to Ruby's patient who was suffering with a headache and neck pain. Understandably she was anxious about the prospect of the procedure and Ruby had obviously given her a half hearted explanation. She moved on to asses a new elderly patient who had been brought in by ambulance suffering with weakness and hypotension. She drew her labs, collected a urine sample, checked her orthostatic vital signs and EKG. The workload seemed never ending but she would never complain. She moved on to her next treatment room where she had to apply a complex wound dressing for a patient who had just had a laceration repair on his elbow. Finally she got back to discharging her patient with chest pain. After taking her last set of vital signs she provided her with instructions about her follow up care. Made sure she understood any warning signs that would require her to return to the ED, and how to take her medication when she got home.

 

 

 

Bea had paced nervously for five minutes outside the main entrance to the hospital. Fletch was fine, Franky had said so and there was no hint of doubt in her voice. She needed to see him just to soothe her own mind but at the same time she didn't want to be here. Sometimes she felt as if they spent half their time hanging around the hospital. It was getting late, she should have just gone home she'd told herself countless times as she finally walked through the doors. Finding out where Fletch was should have been the easy part. Being out of uniform had its disadvantages when asking about a patients whereabouts in the confines of the hospital. Usually it would be a much simpler task. Dealing with a new receptionist who Bea could only describe as abrupt and unhelpful did nothing for her nervous state as she showed her her warrant card.

“Sorry.” The receptionist apologised. “I have to follow procedure you understand that. And I'm not allowed to give out details regarding a patient to just anyone. Can't argue with your ID can I?”

Bea shook her head as she waited to be told where she could find Fletch.

“Matthew Fletcher…” The receptionist repeated his name as she looked at her computer screen. “Floor D, room 6.” She glanced back at Bea. “Anything else I can help you with?”

“Na, just need to see my partner.” Bea said as she'd already started to walk away in the direction of the stairs. She decided that taking the stairs bought her a little more time before she had to face him.

Reaching the door to the room where Fletch was she took a deep breath before slowly opening it. Peeking her head round it she sighed in relief and felt herself smile. Fletch was sitting up in bed, his stomach bandaged and he was talking to Franky. Pushing the door open properly she didn't know what to say.

“Ya just gonna stand there gawking at me or are ya actually comin in?” Fletch asked as he grinned at her.

“Yeah…sorry. I…I don't know what to say.”

“There's nothin to say, shit happens we all know that. What's done is done, hey we can compare scars later.” Fletch waved his hand dismissively.

Bea took a seat beside the bed. “It shouldn't have happened.”

“What did I just say? Shit happens yeah. No one died today, don't ya dare let this knock ya back. It was a stray fucking bullet, stopped it didn't I?” Fletch laughed as he winced.

Bea nodded, it could have been so much worse. “How long are they keeping you in?”

“Couple of days…needed a rest anyway, ya such a slave driver.”

Bea smiled at him. “Got no one to blame for that but yourself, you taught me too well.”

“I did. Maybe when ya leave me I can beg Vera to let me have Doyle here. Teach her a few new tricks so she doesn't lose a suspect.”

“Fuck off….I was as good as on my own this morning.” Franky huffed.

“There's no guarantee I'm leaving general. It's not set in stone, gotta pass the exams an…”

“And I saw ya out there. Might have been flat on my back but I ain't deaf. Ya didn't flinch, took charge when ya could have stood back.” Fletch smiled. “You…you got me out of there.” He said with an appreciative tone.

A nurse entered the room smiling at Fletch. Her smile extended to her eyes, twinkling as if she were seeing an old friend. Reminding Bea so much of the way Allie smiled. Fletch reciprocated the smile except his was limited to his mouth.

“I'm sorry but visiting time was over an hour ago. We made an exception in Matthews case, but I really have to ask you both to leave now.” The nurse said as she walked further into the room. “He's in good hands.”

Franky and Bea left a couple of minutes later after repeatedly saying they'd let him know any news on the Bates front and saying their goodbyes.

“Ya need a lift?” Franky asked as they got in the elevator.

“No.” Bea said quietly. “I…I think I'm going to wait for Allie.”

“Sure…she was worried about ya earlier.”

“She was?” Bea asked even though she knew she shouldn't have been surprised.

“Course she was, it's not everyday she sees ya being shot at. Oh and their is the little matter of ya being all bossy and ordering people around. Even I think it's hot when ya go all badass." Franky grinned. “Call me if ya need anything.” Franky said as she took off across the car park.

Bea stood outside the hospital until Franky was long gone asking herself what she was even going to say. Her job wasn't always as dangerous as it might have seemed to Allie. If she moved to criminal investigations it would be steadier even if it still came with the same risks. The real upside would be no night shifts. She knew that during major investigations her days could end up tipping into 18 hours plus but she could work round that. And she would be on call sometimes but that responsibility wasn't an everyday thing.

Making her way round to the emergency department she decided to wait outside. Ten minutes later the doors opened and a very tired looking Allie walked out. Bea pushed herself off the wall where she'd been waiting. Allie stopped and turned around sensing she was being watched, her eyes fixing on Bea straight away.

“Hey, you stalking me?” She giggled as her eyes trailed up and down Beas body of their own accord.

Bea opened her mouth to speak but none of the words she'd thought she wanted to say sounded right anymore. Closing the gap between them she could feel her heart beating stubbornly fast the closer she got.

“You shouldn't have been there this morning. Shouldn't have seen any of that. It could have been so much worse than it was.”

“Well I'd already seen you on tv.” Allie said with a nervous laugh. “I wanted to see you action. I needed to reassure myself that you could really do it and you did. Everything you did was perfect.” She continued more seriously.

“This morning was far from perfection Allie, I'm certainly not perfect. Besides that's not the point, Fletch got shot. I knew you were there and I got scared for you. You know you could have been…” Bea let her words trail off. She knew what could have happened but she didn't want to think about it.

“I could have been shot, could have been killed. Those things are possible any day of the week, look where I work.” She pointed at the hospital. “You think I don't know that any day some idiot with a gun could walk in here? Some lunatic high on god knows what couldn't have a knife on them? Wait until they have me, or any of the nurses alone in a treatment room? We all know the risks yet we still do the jobs we do.” She took another step closer. “How do you feel?”

Bea saw the concern growing in her eyes. “I'm okay. I did everything the way I should have. You saw me take that shot, heard me giving out orders. They listened, guess it worked out well in the end.”

“You're really sure you're okay, don't lie to me because you know it's pointless.” Allie raised her eyebrows.

“I'm fine, honestly. I once heard it said that angels come in our darkest hours, I think you might be mine.” Bea smiled as she reached for Allies hand feeling slightly braver than usual.

“I'm no angel thought I already told you that.” Allie whispered as she felt Bea squeeze her hand.

“I think you're mine.” Bea whispered back. Suddenly losing all her braveness she let go of her hand.

“You need a ride home?” Allie asked trying not to let the disappoint she felt about the loss of contact be evident in her voice.

“You wouldn't mind? I told Franky to go home but I can call Will.” The thought that Allie might change her mind in a heartbeat caused her unpredictable pain that she never thought possible. It was random, it had never happened to her before. A randomness that might torture her mind, elevating her fear, decreasing her logic and self control.

“Are ya just going to stand there all night?” Allie asked as Bea hesitated.

“No, you sure you don't mind?”

Allie threw her a questioning look and walked away towards her car. Bea stared at the spot that Allie had been standing in for a few more seconds before she made a move. Catching up with her Beas head was still full of what she had planned to say. Catching hold of her hand in hers she entwined their fingers. Allie turned her head and smiled.

“I…I'm no good at this. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do or how I'm meant to act.” Bea said in low voice.

“And I told you there are no rules. We make it up as we go along.” She looked down at their hands before raising them slightly. “And I think you just took a huge step forward.”

“Wednesday morning…I wanted to…Debbie, I just freaked out. I've never wanted to…” Bea trailed off feeling embarrassed by even admitting what was on her mind.

“Never wanted to what?” Allie asked even if she didn't really need her to say it, she knew the answer without confirmation.

Bea swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat while willing herself to just say it. “I never wanted to kiss anyone before…not even him.” She tightened her grip on Allies hand. Being with her felt like resting inside the house while a storm was raging outside. Her presence always calmed her.

“Bea.” Allie said softly as they stopped next to her car. “I'm not going anywhere, I've told you that. There's no pressure, if it takes forever for you to be ready I'll still be here.”

“You say that now.” Bea looked across the car park.

“I don't just say it, I mean it.”

Halfway home Bea decided that she had to say the only other thing that had been on her mind since she left Fletch. “You shouldn't stay in your apartment, not until Bates has been caught.”

“Hmmmm.” Allie hummed. “And out of curiosity where else would I stay? I mean I know I could stay with Kaz for a few days but she lives miles away. And doesn't that sound like running away? He's not likely to come back to my apartment is he?”

“You could stay with me.” Bea said instantly. “I mean with us, Liz wouldn't mind. Deb certainly wouldn't. And I'd feel better knowing that you were safe.”

“And if I don't agree?” Allie asked trying hard to hide her smile.

“Then…then I'll just have to stay on your sofa until we catch him.” Bea said with more confidence.

Forty minutes later they were walking into Liz's house. It was still a little hard for Allie to believe that anyone really cared for her as much as Bea did. She didn't believe for a second that anyone would break into her apartment again but she wasn't about to let Bea sleep on her sofa just in case. It wasn't fair on Bea and certainly not a solution so she had given in more easily than Bea had expected. Liz was sitting on the sofa when the pair walked in.

“I'm sorry I meant to call. Got caught up and…you don't mind if Allie stays?”

“Course not love, spare room hasn't grown a set of legs and walked off yet.” Liz chuckled to herself. “Unless…never mind, ignore me. It's no trouble at all.” She smiled at Allie. She had no idea what was going on but it had to be something Bea was taking really seriously. “I'll just take myself off to bed. See you both in the morning.”

“You want anything?” Bea asked as she shrugged her jacket off.

‘Only you.’ Allie almost blurted out, stopping herself when she smiled instead. “Just some sleep, it was none stop the last few hours.”

Bea couldn't sleep, her thoughts firmly drifting down to the spare room where she hoped Allie would be asleep. Wondering what it would be like to have been brave enough to actually done the one thing that had been playing on her mind. Since their almost kiss on Wednesday morning she'd had little else on her mind when she had nothing else to occupy her thoughts. Turning over she closed her eyes willing herself to stop overthinking it. When it happened it would be the perfect time for both of them she decided.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Saturday morning finally arrived and Debbie was excited. Not only was Allie staying over again but they were going out for a few hours. Not that Debbie had a clue where they were taking her. Allie had told her she didn't know when she was quizzed before she left for work the previous day and Bea just wasn't saying anything. Jumping out of bed Debbie ran to the bathroom before returning to her room. She sat back on her bed for a few minutes before she became impatient when there was no other sounds of movement in the house. Standing in her bedroom doorway she looked up and down the hall first at the door to the spare room then to her mums. Finally deciding that Allie might be the easiest to wake up, or at least less grumpy. Opening the door she crept in and hopped on the bed. Allie didn't move as she sat watching her with her head full of mischievous thoughts. She could jump on the bed like she did with her mum. When a better idea popped into her head she jumped down from the bed and went back to her room. Finding what she was looking for she bit her lip in a vain attempt to keep her creeping grin at bay. It was the perfect idea, and she wouldn't wake anyone else up.

Sneaking back into the room where Allie was still peacefully sleeping she walked round the bed before climbing back on it. Kneeling beside Allie she shook her shoulder gently but got no response. She wasn't deterred and pulled the stuff toy she'd brought from her room across the empty pillow and positioned it right in front of her face. Shaking her again she giggled when Allie mumbled something before her eyes sprang open. Allie woke up as if sleep had suddenly become a dangerous thing. Her heart beat accelerated and her brain buzzed when she saw the green stuffed snake right in front of her eyes. Quickly sitting up she took a moment to shed the sleep from her brain, allowing the visions of her dreams to give way to the sight of the giggling little girl now sitting next to her.

“You like my snake auntie Franky bought for me when she took me to the zoo?” Debbie giggled.

“Deb you almost gave me a heart attack.”

“It's morning.” Debbie announced throwing her arms in the air.

“And I thought you liked to sleep?”

“Yep…but not when you and mummy are taking me out.” She said as she climbed off the bed before turning back to face Allie. “Get up or I'll have to bring my lizard to wake you up next time.” She turned around and skipped out of the room to wake Bea up.

Bea heard her door open and had pulled the covers over her head hoping that Debbie would think better of waking her up. Jumping up on the bed she did what she always did and jumped around on the bed. “Mummy it's time to wake up…mummyyy.”

Slowly and reluctantly Bea uncovered her face, looked at Debbie then closed her eyes again. Opening her eyes again she turned her head slightly as streaks of sunlight penetrated the curtains blinding her.

“Deb stop, I'm awake.” Bea mumbled as she sat up, pulled the covers back and dragged her feet off the bed.

“Allies awake.” Debbie grinned.

“Hmmmm, Deb please tell me you didn't wake her up.” Bea groaned before she stretched her arms above her head and yawned.

“No one else was going to.” Debbie said as she plopped down on the bed beside her mum.

 

 

 

Just after 10am Bea found a parking space close to St Kilda Adventure Playground. Trying to get Debbie out of the car was making her angry, she'd wined the whole drive over because neither of them would tell her where they going.

Allie placed her hand gently on Beas arm. “Let me try.”

“Be my guest.” Bea huffed as she walked away to stand in front of the car.

“You like surprises don't you?” Allie asked as she crouched down.

“Only good ones.” Debbie pouted.

“If you don't get out of the car you'll never know if it is a good one.” Allie tried to point out.

“It might be bad.”

“Like waking up to your stuffed snake this morning aye?” Allie laughed. “That wasn't a good surprise but I still got up didn't I?”

“That's because you love me.” Debbie tried to argue.

“That doesn't mean I had to get out of bed. I got out of bed because I didn't want to make you sad. If you stay here you'll make your mummy sad. You don't want to do that do you?”

“No…I don't like it when she's sad.”

Finally convincing Debbie to get out of the car the three of them crossed the street. When Debbie saw the sign she squealed, grabbing Bea and hugging her legs before turning her attention to Allie. She loved the adventure playground, as soon as she spotted the sign there was an explosion in her head, the good kind. The type that carried more possibilities than she could ever be conscious of. Hundreds of ideas were in her head like the buzz of electricity and she could feel it. It was the calling card of every adventure she could possibly think of, of making new friends and being able to run around. She could slip and fall and there'd be tears or she could climb as high as she could and pretend that she'd reached the very top of the world.

As they walked in Allies eyes went wide. She was used to playgrounds being all plastic and rubber.

“Are you sure this is safe?” She whispered to Bea.

“You think I'd bring her here if I thought it wasn't?” Bea chuckled as she looked at Allies surprised expression. “This place is unique. It's been built entirely from recycled and reclaimed materials. There isn't another place like this it's….inspired, clever and a beautiful play space. There's so much here, secret nooks and passageways, tree houses you name it I think you'll find it.”

“I think I have a lot to learn.”

“You're doing fine, it's natural to be a little worried at first.” If she hadn't already admitted to herself that she had feelings for Allie Bea was quite certain that her concern for Debbie would have had that effect.

As Debbie took off Bea called out to her letting her know that they'd be in the her usual place, not that Debbie was listening she was too excited to care. Finding an empty seat near to the kitchen area Bea took Allies hand in hers.

“There's been times when I thought I couldn't do this, juggle work and being a mum. Even though I have Liz and Franky sometimes it still feels so overwhelming. I worry that I'm not good enough, I worry if she remembers anything. I don't want her to miss out on a single thing. I see the bad in this world every day but I can't protected her from it forever. If she falls down and skins her knee I'm here to clean her up and kiss it better but I can't stop it from hurting. All I can really do is let her be who she is, teach her right from wrong and encourage her to do her best at whatever she wants to do. Sit here and watch her run around like a tornado. I don't know if you're ready to be part of that crazy world of Debbie, I can only hope you are.”

Allie didn't respond, didn't have a clue what to say. Apart from when she'd told her about Harry that was probably the most Bea had actually said without long pauses or being asked for an answer, it brought tears to her eyes.

“Allie?”

“Sorry.” Allie mumbled after wiping her eyes with her free hand. “I told you I'm not going anywhere. I love being with you, with both of you.” She corrected herself. “I guess I never thought that maybe you doubted yourself. I guess I'm just unsure how I'm meant to be because let's face it I didn't have the greatest role model.”

“You just have to be you.”

The pair sat for over an hour and a half watching Debbie as she climbed, swung off and jumped on almost everything in sight. Trying to convince her that they really should be going turned out to be easier than either of them thought it might be. Debbie naturally after all of her physical activity was starving.

 

 

 

“Are you sure you don't mind watching her?” Bea asked Liz as they were almost ready to leave the house.

“Yes love.” Liz smiled. “She'll be out like a light in no time anyway, she's practically asleep already. Now get out of here and enjoy yourselves, and don't come back early.”

Beas nerves had intensified even further as they reached the bar they were meeting at. ‘Calm down.’ She tried to tell herself but she was sure it wasn't helping in the slightest. Allie was right beside her and Franky was going to be there she didn't need to be so nervous. The thought of meeting Allies colleagues was more daunting than it should have been. She knew half of them already, it was hard not to since she'd spent so much time in the ED. She just never felt really comfortable around most of them.

“Are you okay? We can go somewhere else leave the nutters to it. I doubt they'd even miss us anyway.” Allie asked when she stopped right before they were going to walk into the bar.

“I'm a bit nervous.” Bea finally admitted.

“And you're a terrible liar.” Allie smiled.

“Okay, I'm a lot nervous. I'll be fine, I hope.”

“I'll do you a deal, if you want to leave, even if it's after five minutes, we will.”

“Deal…we'll go anywhere you like.”

When they walked into the bar Franky was the first to spot them from the table in the far corner that everyone was huddled around.

“Hey Red, over here!” She shouted over.

Bea nodded as she led Allie over to the bar with her. Paying for their drinks she wasn't even listening to Allies protests.

“I said next time it was on me.”

“Bea laughed as she turned back to face her. “Yeah but I got here first so ya can't argue.”

“Fine! I'm paying for the rest of our drinks though.”

Linking arms with Bea she led them over to the table where everyone else was sitting.

“Hey you lot play nice for once. Think most of you already know Bea.” Allie turned her head and smiled at her, gazing into her eyes.

“Yeah, yeah blondie sit ya asses down already.” Franky piped up before taking a sip from the bottle she was holding.

Bea sandwiched herself between Franky and Allie listening to the chatter round the table. The next hour passed and Bea felt herself relax a little more. Engaging herself in conversation mainly with Bridget and Rose. Allie chatted with everyone and teased Franky about the way she kept looking at Bridget.

“Hey, hey, hey why wasn't I invited to the party?” Boomer complained as she walked over to the group.

“Oh shit!” Bea groaned. “Booms it isn't a party.”

“Na, no way Bea…you like never leave the house wivout me. An like Franky and goldilocks are here, looks like a party to me.”

“Booms.” Franky sighed loudly. “Hardly thought a night out with a bunch of doctors and nurses would be ya thing.”

“Try me.”

Boomer fit in straight away with the group, making everyone laugh with her story's from the bar where she worked. Another hour passed and everyone but Bea, Allie and Bridget were on the dance floor. Boomer and Franky showing off the most ridiculous dance moves the three of them had ever seen. Allie slipped out of her seat to go to the bar, waiting patiently now the place was packed.

“Hey blondie.” Franky sidled up to her.

“Franky, thought ya were busy busting a move with Boomer.”

“Yeah…need a breather, I love her to bits but shit she tires me out more than Debbie.” She laughed as she perched herself on one of the now empty bar stools. “Reds enjoyin herself.”

“I hope so…thought she might have wanted to leave early.”

Franky looked at Allie who appeared lost in though. “She wouldn't bail on ya, never thought I'd live to see her like this.”

“Huh? Like what?”

“You know like what. Jesus she's hardly taken her eyes off ya since ya got here.”

“Oh that!” Allie laughed. “Same as you've been with Bridget then?”

“Never mind me. You know what she went through…still can't believe she told ya.” Franky glanced behind her over at the table where Bea and Bridget were still sitting. “She's still watchin ya.”

“Yeah well maybe she knows your reputation a little too well.” Allie giggled as she paid for the drinks. “Not that she needs to worry.”

“Na she doesn't.” Franky freely admitted. “But being with that dick head was enough to put her off getting close to anyone. Don't know what ya did to get her to let her guard down but I think I'm glad ya did. I know ya can't erase the memories but whateva ya doing don't stop yeah? But I warn ya, hurt her or Debbie and I'll hunt ya down.”

“I'd expect nothing less, but I wouldn't be hard to find.” Allie turned and answered seriously. “You and Bridget though, you look great together.”

“Let's hope I don't screw it up then aye?”

“Between you and me she's mad about ya.” Allie smiled knowingly as she glanced over at the table. “Never stops talking about ya when she's not running around like some nut case.”

Franky picked up half the drinks and made her way back to the table.

“What did you say to Allie?” Bea questioned her as she sat down next to Bridget.

“Nothin, chill Red she's just talkin to someone. She'll be back in a sec.”

Bea glanced back at the bar watching the much shorter dark haired woman standing next to Allie whisper something to her. Turning her attention back to the bottle in front of her she picked at the label. It wasn't a surprise that someone else was interested in her, she just wasn't going to sit and watch.

“Ya got competition Red.” Franky frowned as she watched the woman with Allie laugh.

Bea didn't answer and kept her eyes firmly fixed on the bottle. Of course she thought that Allie could do so much better than her. Bea figured she had more hangups than anyone else, she felt stupid for thinking maybe she could change. It didn't matter that Allie said she wasn't interested in anyone else. Bea wasn't stupid, Allie deserved more than she knew she could ever give her. If she left it would hurt and she had no clue how she'd break it to Debbie.

Allie returned to the table placing the rest of the drinks down before retaking her seat next to Bea noticing instantly that she looked tense.

“What's wrong?”

“Nothing.” Bea replied unable to look from the bottle in front of her. She glanced to her side seeing Franky deep in conversation with Bridget and felt her heart sink a little more.

“Bea, this isn't nothing…please tell me.”

“You don't have to stick around, I get it, you can go back to that girl at the bar.”

“What? Bea, that was Ruby.” She grabbed her hand expecting her to pull it free but she didn't. “Seriously you think I'd want to be with her when I have everything I need right here?” Allie shook her head. “Look at me, please. I told you about her, she drives me crazy and not in a good way. She takes nothing seriously, I don't even know what the hell shes doing working in the ED.”

“That's her?” Bea asked as she finally looked back at Allie relaxing again as she looked into her eyes.

“Yeah and that…me and her is never gonna happen. I don't care about anyone else.”

“Sorry, I…I…”

“Shots bitches!” Boomer announced as she arrived back at the table placing the tray down.

Allie let go of Beas hand not sure if she would feel comfortable when she saw everyone else returning, allowing it to settle on her thigh under the table out of sight of everyone else.

“Get that down ya.” Boomer held a shot out to Bea who unusually took it from her and knocked it back.

Bea felt like her head was spinning, the only thing she wanted to do right in that moment was escape. Drag Allie out of the bar and go somewhere, anywhere else so they could be alone. Everyone else around them were laughing and joking and knocking back the shots courtesy of Boomer. It was the simplest touch but Bea was certain that she'd never felt anything like it. She didn't flinch or try to swat Allies hand away, for once she didn't even feel the panic rise in the pit of her stomach.

“You ready to get out of here?” Bea leaned over and whispered in Allies ear.

No one noticed, not even Franky, which was a surprise. Not even when Allie leaned in to whisper back, even though it wasn't necessary over the loud music. “I think you just read my mind.”

They spent the better part of the next five minutes saying their goodbyes to everyone. Franky and Boomer kept protesting that they couldn't leave because it was too early. The pair had become considerably more drunk since they had started knocking back shots. Something Bea informed Allie was standard since they always challenged each other to a drinking competition. Eventually they managed to make their retreat after Bridget reminded them both that Bea had to get home to Debbie.

“See ya tomorra.” Franky slurred before falling back into her seat.

“If you get over your hangover.” Bea chuckled before turning to leave.

“Is that a regular thing?” Allie asked when they finally made it into a taxi.

“Franky and Booms? Pretty much every time they go out. Now you know why I stay at home.”

“And you never drink that much?” Allie asked slightly amused.

“Once or twice…it's not a great idea when I know I'll get forced out of bed.”

Arriving at the house Bea payed the driver much to Allies annoyance. “Tonight was meant to be on me.” She grumbled as they walked up the drive.

“I think you bought enough drinks don't you?” Bea asked as she fumbled in her jacket pocket for her keys.

“Don't mind if I get changed do ya?” Bea asked once they were inside.

“No, you want a drink?”

“A coffee would be good if you don't mind. I won't be long.”

As soon as Bea was out of sight Allie went to kitchen. After making two coffees she retreated back to the comfort of the sofa sitting in the spot that Bea usually occupied. Something behind the cushion dug in her back and reached behind it pulling out Beas sketch book. She decided that she shouldn't look but curiosity got the better of her and she flipped through the first few pages. It was clear from the first page she looked at that Bea was extremely talented. Every drawing, no matter if it were of Debbie, her friends or a landscape was amazing. She became engrossed in the pictures as she continued to thumb through the the pages clearly not hearing Bea on her way downstairs. Turning over another page she gasped when she saw an image of herself looking back at her.

“Shit!” Bea mumbled as she saw what Allie was holding in her hands. “You can laugh, honestly its fine. I'm not that good I know.”

Allie looked up from the page she had been studying. “Not that good?” She repeated. “No they aren't good they are amazing. Why didn't you tell me that you drew?”

“Never came up in conversation.” Bea shrugged as she sat down. “Harry…Harry hated them, said I was just wasting my time.”

“He was an idiot, obviously had no idea what he was talking about.” She gazed at Bea. “You clearly have very talented fingers.” She giggled.

“I doubt that.”

“These.” Allie closed the book. “These are amazing, you're amazing.”

“I'm really not…can I get that back?” She pointed at her sketch book.

“Why?” Allie asked. “You got something to hide? Maybe right at the back where I didn't look?”

Allie flipped through the rest of the pages finding nothing but a few more blank sheets. “Why did you draw me?” She asked as she returned to the last picture.

“Don't know.” Bea mumbled unable to look her in eye again. Not being able to ever get her off her mind each time she tried to draw anything else was the reason but she wasn't about to say it. “You've looked at them, can I get it back now?”

“I don't know can ya?”

“Stop messing around will ya? I…I hate it when people see my drawings.”

“I'm not messing around, they really are fantastic. I'll give it back…if you can get it from me.” Allie smirked.

“Fine!” Bea huffed. She wasn't in the mood for playing games. Waiting a little longer until she thought Allie wasn't paying any attention she tried to grab her book but Allie was too fast.

“That all ya got Smith?”

“You challenging me?”

Allie didn't say a word, this, she though, could be interesting and she was waiting to find out what she might actually do next. Bea sat forward grabbed her coffee mug and sighed. “You want it, then keep it.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes before Bea disappeared into the kitchen. Allie had expected her to put up more of a fight and was about to put it back where she found it and just go to bed when Bea appeared next to her trying unsuccessfully to grab her book back. She moved a little too fast, lost her footing and landed right on Allie who laughed.

“Ten out of ten for effort babe but ya still haven't got it.”

Bea was stunned, had she just heard her right? She hadn't just called her babe had she? Pushing herself away from Allie she came face to face with her intense gaze.

“You okay there?” Allie asked sounding slightly more amused than she expected to.

“Y…yeah…”

Allie placed the book down on the sofa beside them with no other intention to move again. “You sure?” Bea nodded, losing herself further in Allies eyes.

“What are you thinking about?” She whispered, uncertain if she'd actually said anything over the noise created by her own heart beating wildly in her chest. Bea finally holding her hand had made her heart rate increase dramatically but her being pressed up against her was driving her insane.

“You don't want to know.” Came Beas almost inaudible reply.

“I do…tell me.”

Bea swallowed down the lump that had painfully formed in her throat before she replied. “I'm…I'm thinking…that I want to kiss you.”

“I don't see anyone here stopping you.”

“It doesn't bother you? That I'm clueless?”

Allie raised her eyebrows. “Should it? Truth is the only relationships I've ever had were when I was so out of it that half the time I had no idea what I was doing. Guess we're both clueless.”

Taking a breath Bea slowly lent in, capturing Allies lips with her own. Smiling into the kiss when she felt her respond. Her heart was thumping in her chest. She never expected to be doing this, never expected it to feel like this.

“I've wanted to do that for so long.” Bea gasped after pulling back, still gazing into the bluest sparkling eyes she could ever imagine existing. She'd never been kissed like that before, she'd never really wanted to kiss anyone before. A hundred thoughts whizzed through her mind and disappeared. She thought she'd panic, freeze, try to run away but it didn't happen. For the first time she didn't want to be anywhere else no matter how uncomfortable their current position was. Nothing was going to make her leave the only space she'd felt safe in for so long.

“You're shaking.” Allie commented once she managed to gain control her own breathing.

“It's cold.” Bea replied very unconvincingly.

“It's not cold.” Allie smiled back at her as she moved her left hand to rest on Beas hip.

“Can I…can I kiss you again?” Bea asked as her eyes darted from Allies eyes to her lips.

“What are you asking for?” Allie whispered. Her words barely registering in Beas brain before she crashed their lips together again. Parting reluctantly for breath again they both knew that they had to stop. It was getting late, even though Debbie wouldn't be up early the next morning Bea had offered to help Liz with lunch. Pushing herself up from the sofa Bea held out her hand for Allie to take. “I think we should go to bed.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Allie sighed deeply as she allowed Bea to help her up.

“I'll see you in the morning.” Allie said quietly as they came to a stop outside Beas room.

Allie reluctantly walked down the hall to the spare room, turning and smiling back at Bea before she went in, closing the door behind her and leaning against it.

Bea slipped into bed nothing but Allie on her mind, she was such a short distance away but it still felt like miles. Every new possibility she could think of was on a constant replay in her head as she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

Allie lay in the dark worrying that one day she'd screw everything up between them. She knew there was no possibility that she'd ever go back to her old life, what she'd built for herself was too much to lose. Still she worried that something would happen and she'd hurt Bea, losing both her and Debbie in the process. No one had ever been as good to her, even Kaz had never come close to actually understanding her. No one really seemed to care before Bea walked into her life. She'd told her everything and she hadn't battered an eyelid. As she closed her eyes hoping to sleep she promised herself that no matter what happened, this time she wasn't going to mess it up.

 

 

Chapter Text

Allie woke up early the next morning, her thoughts drifting straight back to the previous night. She lay in bed for a while longer when she remembered that she really needed to do something. Jumping out of bed she walked down to hall the Beas room. Knocking softly on the door she heard Bea mumble something about Debbie. Opening the door slightly she peered through the gap.

“Bea.” She said quietly.

“Hmmmm….Allie?” She turned over. “What's wrong?”

“I need to go home.”

Bea sat up slightly stunned, the only thought that entered her head was that she had done something wrong. “Why?”

“Well no offence.” She started as she walked across the room to the bed sitting down next to Bea. “But I don't think I'd be allowed in to work dressed like this in the morning do you? And worse still I'm not just in the ED next week.”

“You aren't?” Bea couldn't remember her saying anything about it.

“No, I'm spending the week between the ED and ambulatory care, short staffed or something. Bridget said it would be great experience helping out but I'm not sure. Bright side is that I don't have to do my own work and half of Ruby's. I still can't believe you thought I could even like her.”

“Sorry.” Bea mumbled, in the cold light of the morning it didn't seem like the best assumption she'd ever made. “I'll not jump to conclusions again.”

“Don't be sorry, you're kinda cute when you're jealous.”

“I wasn't, I…I just thought…I didn't want to, I didn't want to think about losing you.” A confession that Bea never thought she'd ever have to make to anyone.

“That's never going to happen you idiot…now, are ya coming with me or do I go alone?”

Bea had no intention of letting Allie go back to her apartment alone. She'd heard nothing from the station and she knew that if Bates had been found she'd have been called in already. Will had agreed that Bea and Fletch were still heading up the case and with Fletch incapacitated for the time being she would be the one who got the call.

“I'm coming with you, just give me a chance to get dressed.”

Allie turned her head a little more and smiled as they looked into each other's eyes.

“Can I…can I kiss you again?” Allie asked nervously.

“Thought you told me last night I didn't have to ask?”

“You don't, I just don't want to freak you out.”

“You won't, come here before you know who wakes up and comes and jumps all over us.”

Allie moved closer turning her body a little uncomfortably to face Bea. Leaning forward capturing Beas lips with her own. Pulling back rather more quickly than either of them were expecting. The offending item sitting next to bed that was Beas phone choosing that moment to let its presence be known very loudly.

“Sorry.” Bea mumbled as she reached for it seeing Franky's name flashing up on the screen. What did she expect, Franky always did have the worst timing. Although usually it was only shitty timing when Bea had decided to sleep in on a Sunday morning when she got the opportunity.

“You forgot how to tell the time Doyle?” Bea spoke harshly into her phone, for a second she thought she heard a whimper coming from other end of the line.

“Not so loud Red, not deaf.”

“No ya just hungover judging by sound of ya.”

“Yeah, yeah. Ya got me.”

“What is so important that you felt the need to call me this time?” Bea frowned at Allie who was trying to hold back a giggle. The frustration in her voice was not what Allie had expected to hear.

“Ahh, yeah. What time did Liz say lunch was?”

“Fucks sake Franky.” Beas exasperated voice rang in her ears. “Seriously? 1pm on the dot, not a second earlier or later.”

Allie tried to hold it in, she really had tried but the frustration in Beas voice was just too much and she burst out laughing.

“What the…Shit! Thought ya’d be alone Red. Didn't mean to interrupt ya.”

“You didn't, Allie just needs to go home, pick up a few more things. She just came in to wake me up.”

“Sure Red what eva ya say. I'll…I'll see ya later if ya can drag ya self outta bed.” Franky chuckled a little as she ended the call.

Bea rolled her eyes turning her attention back to Allie. “Where were we?”

“I think you were going to get dressed.” Allie laughed as she got up from the bed.

“But…” Bea started, realising that she couldn't think of any protest valid enough to keep Allie exactly where she was.

“We can continue this later.” Allie looked back at her with a smirk. “If your making me stay I really need to pick up more clothes.”

Bea found she couldn't argue with her, not that she wanted to. Any idea of arguing with her seemed illogical and unreasonable. Bea had been the one to convince her to stay, at least until Bates was locked away. And eventually he would be, be it in hours, days or weeks, he would be and Allie would leave. The thought of her going back to her apartment left her feeling a little empty and more miserable than she could possibly have ever imagined.

“I won't be long.” Bea grumbled as she watched Allie leave the room and close the door behind her.

 

 

“Maybe I should make myself scarce.” Allie whispered to Bea as she they worked together helping Liz cook lunch.

Those words made no sense to Bea in the slightest. Yes Maxine had something to tell them but she saw absolutely no reason for Allie not to have lunch with them all.

“You'll do no such thing.” Bea replied a little louder than she intended stopping Liz in her tracks as she turned to look at the pair.

“Something the matter?” Liz asked clearly confused by what Beas slightly uncharacteristic outburst.

“Allie doesn't want to have lunch with us.”

“Oh no love, Maxi knows you'll be here. Spoke to her while you were out, even had to call Franky and tell her to bring Bridget. She'd be more than a little offended if you felt you needed to leave.”

Allie smiled, certain that neither Liz or Bea would ever really know just how much a few simple words could possibly ever mean to her. She couldn't remember a time in her life when she hadn't felt like she should remove herself from a situation like this. She was touched that Liz had even thought to mention that she would be with them. She also felt that maybe she'd be intruding in something she had no right to be a part of. She had no idea what Maxine needed to tell her friends but she was sure she shouldn't be a part of it. They'd met once at the beach, she couldn't imagine for a second why Maxine would want her there.

“Allie love, Maxi would never forgive herself if she thought she were pushing you out. It isn't everyday that Bea.” She glanced from Allie to Bea. “That Bea meets someone who she…feels comfortable with. Not to mention our little monster in the other room, she wouldn't like it if you left.”

“No she'd bloody well follow you. Even if that meant passing up food!” Bea added trying to make her point more strenuously.

 

 

Of course Franky and Boomer barged through the front door extremely ungracefully the second Bea opened it with Bridget at least ten steps behind.

“Get me coffee.” Boomer groaned as she walked into the kitchen.

“And a good afternoon to you as well Booms.” Liz chuckled. “Rough night?” She enquired.

“Too many shots.” She grumbled. “All Franky's fault.”

Allie laughed, that wasn't the way she remembered it. She was pretty certain that wouldn't be the way anyone remembered it.

“Ever thought of not drinking quite so much?” Allie asked as she placed a steaming mug of coffee down in front of Boomer.

“Oh, hey blondie…Franky's a bad influence yeah? Cheers for the coffee.” Boomer looked at her every question she could think of rushed into her still struggling to recover brain. Pushing them away without asking a thing she'd corner Bea and ask what was going on. No scrap that, maybe better to ask Franky, or the blonde doctor who had been hanging off Franky's arm since the previous night. Boomer wasn't as stupid as her family said she was, sometimes she just caught on a little slower than everyone else. Something was different, Franky was different, Bea was different and Boomer was ever so slightly confused. Take her current hungover state, mix in whatever it was Maxine wanted to tell her small group of friends and crawling under a rock for a few hours might be preferable to her right now.

“Get out of my kitchen Booms.” Liz ordered in a joking tone.

“Errr, yeah…right.” Boomer answered as she skulked away in search of a comfortable spot to sit and nurse her aching head.

Everyone was already seated around the table when Bea and Allie finally entered the dining room. Franky had a huge smirk plastered on her face. Never for a second would she have honestly thought that her best friend would meet someone. Franky had tried so many times to give her a nudge in the right direction. Bea protested, loudly usually, that relationships weren't her thing. Turns out Franky had concluded that probably they weren't until a certain blonde caught her attention. ‘Yeah right Red, not gay my ass.’ She thought to herself as they sat down stealing glances at each other. Even Franky could see that something was different today.

The conversation over lunch was kept light. Bea could sense something heavy hanging in the air and was in no rush to find out what revelations Maxine was holding close to her chest. And especially with Debbie in the same room she figured it was for the best. So far her face gave nothing away, not one hint of anything good or bad was etched on her features.

When everyone retreated to the living room, and Debbie to her room because she just had to find this thing to show auntie Franky, Allie and Bridget offered to do the dishes. Neither of them wanting to intrude on what they guessed was a private conversation between the group of close friends. Bridget wasn't even sure what had possessed her to agree to Franky's request to accompany her.

“Nonsense.” Maxine argued. “The dishes can wait. Besides I have nothing to hide from either of you, join us please. It may be better in the long run.”

“You not hungry today Maxi?” Franky enquired. “Looked to me like ya were just pushing ya food round ya plate.”

“That's why I needed to speak to you all.” Maxine took a deep breath. “I was hoping I was never going to have to have this conversation. Guess I thought trying to bury my head in the sand would make it go away.” Maxine looked around the assembled group of her friends. The two new additions fit perfectly she thought. “The truth is I have cancer.”

No one spoke, everyone except Maxine and Liz appeared to hold their breath. Beas brain stuttered for a moment as her eyes moved around the room. Every part of her felt like it paused before her thoughts could catch up. It wasn't real, couldn't be real. Her hand slipped into Allies unconsciously. There was zero thinking in anyone's head, not one of them could operate on any level except shock.

“But ya gonna get better right? I mean ya gonna go to the hospital and…” Boomer started but trailed off, the enormity of Maxine's confession weighing heavy on her.

“I wasn't.” Maxine confessed. “I thought that it was only me who would suffer and I was fine with that. Liz…Liz made me realise that refusing treatment was selfish, that what I do just doesn't effect me but all of you. You're all the closest thing I have to a family.”

Seconds later Bea was out of her seat and pacing the kitchen floor trying desperately to forget the words she's just heard. She could still hear the mumbled conversation taking place in the other room and she didn't want to hear it, couldn't bare to listen to it.

“Are you okay?” Allie asked softly as she stood no more than a foot away receiving no answer, nothing only silence. “Bea?”

She stopped dead in her tracks and turned, locking eyes with her in an instant. All Allie can see is a sea of pain as she stepped closer before bringing her into the most gentle hug Bea thought she ever received in her life. A hug that feels stronger than anything she's ever known but soft and loving. The feeling she gets from Allie is like holding onto her isn't quite enough as she allows her tears to silently fall. In that moment of them being so close she feels more awake, more alive than she possibly ever has. Allie refuses to let go even when Debbie runs into the kitchen.

“Why did you make mummy cry?” Her innocent voice filling Beas ears before she extracted herself from Allies arms.

“Allie didn't make me cry baby.” Bea tried to reassure her as she crouched down.

“Why are you crying?” She asks slightly frustrated now because her mum doesn't cry, at least never in front of her. She looks from Bea to Allie and back again waiting for one of them to tell her what's going on.

“Maxine.” Bea chokes back a sob before Allie comes to her rescue.

Crouching down next to Bea Allie didn't even know if she has the words to explain any of this. “Maxine needs to go to hospital because she's not well. So the doctors and nurses can try to make her better again.” Was all Allie can think to say.

“That's okay then.” Debbie shrugs. “You and Bridget can make her better.” And then she's off again, in the blink of an eye to settle herself down next to Franky and considerably lighten the mood.

“Thank you.” Bea whispers because she can't think of anything else to say. Because Allie just saved her from staring helplessly and her little girl and giving her no reasonable explanation.

“Not sure that was what I should have told her.” Allie mumbled as they both stood up straight. “You did better than I did. I appear to have lost the ability to think never mind string two words together.”

 

 

It was getting late by the time everyone left, lunch had turned into dinner and then into an impromptu movie night. Thankfully the mood had lightened owing mainly to Franky and Boomer bickering about who's fault it was for their earlier hangovers. Debbie had gone to bed on the condition that Allie would be the one to read to her and had fallen asleep long before Bea had made it upstairs to say good night to her.

“Will you stay with me?” Bea asked as she switched off the tv.

“Funny thing that I though I already was…staying with you I mean.” Allie laughed.

“Not what I meant.” Bea hesitated. “Will you stay in my room with me?”

Allie didn't need to think about it, she knew what she meant when she was asked the first time. Still part of her didn't want to make Bea feel uncomfortable and wanted to give her the space to change her mind about what she'd just asked. Rash decisions she knew too well could lead to regrets and Allie never wanted her to regret any time they spent together.

“Are you sure?”

“I'm as sure as I've ever been about anything.” Bea tangled their fingers together. “I don't want to be alone. Maxi…the whole thing…it got me thinking. She hardly knows you or Bridget, she would have caused a scene if you hadn't have stayed you know.” Bea chuckled a little. “I don't want to be alone ever again.”

“I don't want you to be alone…you don't have to be you know that.”

A few minutes later Bea had extracted herself from the sofa, locked the door and made sure all the lights were turned off. Taking Allie by the hand she led her upstairs.

“I'll give a few minutes.” Allie whispered as she watched Bea shake her head before she replied.

“You forget I threw your bag in my room when we came back this morning.”

Allie wondered if she'd done that on purpose in that moment but followed her into her room all the same. Bea had mumbled something about leaving her bag in her room when she'd returned to the kitchen but Allie after the days events had forgotten about it. Watching Bea grab what she need and disappear into the ensuite she dug into her bag to find what she needed. Taking longer than she thought she would have because she'd been more concerned when she she packed everything about not leaving her scrubs looking like she'd slept in them. Shrugging off her shirt she threw it on the floor, her jeans following it a few seconds later. She wasn't usually nervous around Bea, wasn't usually nervous around anyone but right now she was. Bea stood in the doorway rooted to the spot the second she saw Allies shirt hit the floor, surprised that she didn't even seem to notice her presence. Except for when she was at work Bea knew she wasn't known for her bravery, so surprised herself a little as she closed the gap between them. Pressing her front into Allies back she felt her shiver. Neither of them had expected this but Allie regained her usual composure and relaxed into the arms that were now tightly wound around her.

“Sorry, couldn't resist.” Bea whispered.

“Don't hear me complaining do you?” Allie giggled softly.

“Maybe you should.” Bea released her grip a little allowing Allie the space to turn around.

Allie waited for Bea to realise that she was standing right in front of her in nothing but her underwear.

“Sorry.” Bea apologised again. “Didn't mean to…”

“You keep forgetting what I said, and stop apologising.”

“I asked you to stay with me, I didn't mean to…”

Allie leaned in and kissed her softly before pulling back. “Shhh, you didn't do anything wrong. Trust me if you ever do I'll let you know.”

“Yeah? You’ll have to…clueless remember?”

“Hard to forget since you keep saying it, not sure I actually believe you anymore.”

“Hmmmm, think I better go and check on Deb.”

Bea slowly walked the short distance to Debbie's room’ opening the door a little way just to check that she was asleep. It was a habit she'd developed when they first moved in with Liz and she still did it. If she was on a night shift it was first thing she did on her way to bed. Closing the door she leaned back against the wall wondering what the hell she was thinking. The most stupid thoughts of Harry invaded her head. The way he always loved to put her down, saying how ugly she was, how awful her clothes were. His favourite words were ‘idiot’ and ‘stupid’ or anything he found to be infinitely worse. ‘Not this time,’ she told herself as she pushed herself away from the wall and returned to her bedroom. Slipping into bed she rested her head on the cold pillow.

“You don't have to stay with me.” She mumbled as she looked away from Allie.

“I want to, you were so upset this afternoon I'd much rather stay right here.” Allies voice was barely above a whisper. “I don't want anything other than to know you're alright. Just being here with you is more than I could ask for.”

“It is?” Bea sounded uncertain.

“Why would you ever think it wouldn't be?”

All words seemingly left Beas brain as she turned her head to look into the bright blue eyes that had be trained on her since she reentered the room. Even her heart fell silent for a few seconds.

“Say something.” Allie whispered.

She couldn't think of anything even if she could have willed her mouth to move. Her mind felt completely blank as she just stared back at Allie. Her eyes desperately searching for any sign of disappointment but she saw nothing. She searched the corners of her mind for something reasonable to say.

“I've never done this before.” She finally spoke as Allie inched her way closer and rested her head on the same pillow. “Unless you count Deb or the odd time I've woken up with Franky drooling all over me.”

“Really…that's not an image I want in my head. I hope you don't make a habit of sleeping with Franky.”

“No!…only when we've been extremely drunk. And it hasn't happened for a long time. Never anything like this.”

“Like what?” Allie moved her arm to lay it across Beas stomach.

“Just laying here like this, talking to you. Knowing that you wont…you know.”

“Don't think about it, I'd never do that. Just so you know I could get used to this.”

“Yeah, me too.” Bea agreed before trying unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn.

“You sound tired babe.”

“I am, it's been a long week and today felt like it was never going to end.”

“Go to sleep, I'll still be here when you wake up in the morning.” Allie said before snuggling in closer.

 

 

Bea woke up a little before her alarm should have woken her expecting to find Allie still right beside her. Turning her head to the side she was disappointed to find the other side of the bed empty. Turning over to face the now empty space she wondered if she'd waited for her to fall asleep before going back to the spare room. Throwing the covers back she made the same trip to the ensuite that she did every morning before heading downstairs. Maybe it was for the best she thought, Debbie would be awake soon since she was back at pre school. Walking into the kitchen she was surprised to find Allie quietly making breakfast.

“Shit Bea, don't sneak up on me like that.”

“Good morning to you too.” Bea grinned as she silently cursed herself for even doubting Allie for a second.

“Sorry I meant to bring you breakfast, still will if you feel like going back to bed.”

“Not really, got to get ready for work.”

“Yeah me to…you realise we’ll get home around the same time?”

“Good, maybe I'll have some news for you today.”

“Don't rush to find him on my account, as long as Liz doesn't mind me being here it's fine by me.”

“Yeah?” Bea nodded before sipping the coffee that had just been passed to her. “Thought maybe you'd gone back to the spare room.”

“No, I said I'd be there and really I did intend to get back to you before you woke up. You just had to wake up early didn't ya?”

The sound of footsteps above them meant only one thing, pretty soon Debbie would be on her way downstairs.

“I really need to get going before I'm late. And I haven't been late once yet.”

“Me too, got bad guys to catch.” Bea laughed as she looked at Debbie stuffing a spoonful of cereal into her mouth. “You be good when Gma Liz takes you to school.”

“I'm always good.” Debbie answered dramatically.

“Sure you are.”

“We'll see you later.”

“Wait!” Debbie shouted after them as she jumped down off the chair she was sitting on. Running after them, “You both owe me a hug before you leave me.” She stopped abruptly in front of Bea.

Five minutes later they finally made it out of the house.

“Hey.” Bea looked over at Allie before stepping closer and leaning forward planting a soft warm kiss on a very surprised Allies lips.

“Thank you, for last night…for breakfast.”

“If that's how you say thanks for breakfast I'll gladly make it every morning. And I wouldn't have left you alone last night when you didn't want to be.” Leaning forward again she placed a kiss on Beas lips that left both of them wishing that work was already over for the day.

“If I hear anything I'll let you know I promise.”

Placing one more kiss on Allies lips she almost had to push her in the direction of her car. “You're going to make me late for work and you wouldn't want me to have to tell everyone it was your fault would you?”

“No, not really.” Bea laughed as she walked away to her car. As much as she hoped that they would catch Colin Bates sooner rather than later the thought of Allie going home wasn't welcomed. She'd miss her more than she even cared to admit to herself right now.

Chapter Text

 

Bea walked into the office not surprised to find the only other person there was Will.

“No news has to be good news right?” Will smiled as he looked up.

“Depends what's in the pipeline. No new leads?”

Will shrugged. “Guess we'll find out when something happens. Had a few sightings that general followed up but nothing concrete. You have messages.” He nodded over to her desk.

“Really?” She remembered giving her contact card out to a couple of people who she spoke to but hadn't expected to hear anything.

Sitting at her desk she checked her voicemail, five new messages, all from people who she guessed lived in Allies apartment complex. Four of the calls sounded like promising leads the last was requesting a call back from a woman who lived in Fitzroy. She claimed that she knew where Nash Taylor had been laying low and that Colin Bates was still there.

“This could be worth looking into.” Bea said as she jotted down the phone number.

“Yeah, we'll get to that after the morning briefing. First things first though…your application to join CID.”

“You want to talk about that now?”

“No time like the present, it'll be chaos in here in ten minutes.”

“Sure…how much extra training is involved? I can't leave Deb so that's a deal breaker.”

“Slow down, you don't have to leave the station to complete any more training. It's more of an evaluation and since you're already here I kinda set that ball rolling from ya first day. You've been in service three years longer than the two years minimum requirement. So just an exam to worry about really, then another one I'm guessing when you decide that you want my job.” Will laughed.

“Yeah like I'm ever likely to be sitting the sargents exam, on what planet are you living this morning?”

“Same as you I hope. I don't plan on leaving or applying for promotion in the next few months true but you've already proved you can handle the job.”

“Right, so back to this case. The sooner we get Bates brought in the better.”

Better for the public at least was what Bea told herself. She couldn't think of one reason why taking him off the streets would make anything better for her. Allie would go back to her apartment, she'd go back to general duties. Crazy hours and other responsibilities would get in the way and then what? Maybe she'd apply to join CID, maybe she'd finally move out of Liz's.

After admonishing herself for letting her thoughts wander away from the task she was meant to be concentrating on she finally made a start on making phone calls. The first few she made turned up some promising information about the building managers likely whereabouts. Calling the woman who had information about Colin Bates she arranged to visit her that afternoon. Not one to pass up actually having something reasonably interesting to do Will had offered to go with her. He'd been worried for some time that information was leaking out from someone, he just didn't know who. With Fletch out of action noway was he about to send Bea out with anyone else. It was a morning that had nothing more to offer than paperwork and making phone calls something Bea had problems concentrating on. Her mind had been running at 100mph most of the morning and she found it hard to focus her attention on anything fully.

Lunch time meant nothing more than the station canteen was on the cards. As soon as she walked in she spotted Franky sitting by herself. Grabbing a coffee and a sandwich Bea sat opposite her. Franky may have a talent for teasing and embarrassing Bea but she was always the person she went to first when she needed to talk. They talked for ten minutes about work before Franky went quiet.

“Something wrong?” Bea asked not used to her silence.

“Something's different about you.” Franky stared at her not wanting to embarrass her in front of the whole room. “What aren't ya tellin me?” She asked quietly.

“Nothing's changed.”

“Na…ya can't bullshit a bullshitter Red.” Franky sat back in her chair never taking her eyes from Bea. “Sometimes ya forget I know ya too well. Come on ya can tell me.”

“I don't know…Fletch, applying to join CID. This fucking case!”

“Nothin to do with a certain person then? I mean come on, ya think I can't tell when something's different about ya?” Franky asked as she leaned forward again.

“What exactly are you getting at?”

“Well ya ain't stopped smiling yet, kinda gettin creepy.”

“Fuck off.” Bea scoffed.

“Something's changed.” Franky narrowed her eyes. “Stop avoiding the question and tell me what's going on or…or I'll just ask blondie.”

“You wouldn't dare.”

“You forgotten who ya talkin to already? Now spill I ain't got all day.”

“Okay, okay, just keep it down would ya?” Bea quickly looked around the now almost empty canteen. “We kissed, after we got home Saturday night.”

“I fuckin knew ya had it in ya…and?” Franky questioned excitedly as she brought her hand down loudly on the table. It had been obvious to her the second she'd first seen them together that there was a mutual attraction. Bea was just too closed off and too stubborn to admit it no matter how hard Franky had pushed. “Come on ya can't leave me hangin like this, bet she's a good kisser. Details, its all in the details.” Franky grinned.

“She's…she's…” Bea paused unable to think of the right words because she was sure there were no words to describe how she felt. “Amazing…she's absolutely…perfect..”

“Well fuck.” Franky laughed. “You been abducted by aliens and had ya brain scrambled? Ya really have got it bad.”

“Shut up…don't start or I'm telling you nothing else.”

“Shit ya mean there's more? I'll be serious…shit ya didn't?”

Bea blushed knowing exactly what Franky was inferring. “No…she did stay with me last night though. After yesterday with Maxi, I didn't want to be on my own. It felt right…just having someone else there, someone who didn't just expect…”

“I get it, that's fuckin huge for ya.” Franky nodded, she knew trusting anyone that much was a step in the right direction.

“Yeah…I kinda ran away though. Went to check on Deb because…because I'm a fucking idiot.” Bea sighed at the memory. “She was right there…doesn't matter you'll just laugh.”

“Hey I would never laugh at ya. She's good for ya and she's great with Deb.”

“But what if…what if I'm not enough, if I can't ever…she deserves so much more than a fucked up woman with intimacy issues. Just because she says it doesn't bother her doesn't mean that she won't get tired of waiting, I mean what if I'm never ready?”

“You're kiddin me right. I've never seen anyone look at another person the way she looks at you. You worry too much, just talk to her, let her tell ya how she feels I'm tellin ya I might not know a lot about her but I know what I see. If it were only about sex she'd have ditched ya Saturday night. I saw what was goin on while she was stood at the bar talkin to that other woman and she knocked her back for a reason.”

“You really think so?”

“Na, I know so. Told ya already the way she looks at you, that's way more than just wanting to get ya between the sheets.”

“Doesn't alter the fact that I'm clueless.”

“You trust her? I mean ya must or no way would ya have invited her into your bed.”

“Obviously!” Bea rolled her eyes.

“Then when your ready let her take the lead. If you feel like it's not what what ya want don't fuckin run away, talk to her. I reckon you've found a good un for what it's worth. She ain't goin anywhere, least not until ya let her go home.” Franky laughed, she knew how protective Bea was over her already and that was rare for Bea.

“It's hardly ideal Franky.” Bea protested. “It's one thing that I have Debbie but I still live with Liz, it's like still living at home with mum and dad.”

“So do somethin about it, stop thinking so so fuckin much. It's your life, no one else can live it for ya.”

“But Deb…”

“Listen just for once stop tryin to make excuses for passin up somethin good in ya life. Deb will be fine. That kid loves Allie, an besides if ya happy that's all that's going to matter. Ya both deserve to have someone in your lives who makes everything right. I mean sure I'm always gonna be here but sorry Red you've knocked me back too many times.”

“You're so full of yourself you know that right?” Bea laughed Franky would always turn a serious conversation on its head in a second. Not that they ever had too many serious conversations, it was always easier to keep things light and let Franky's playful nature take the lead. Even when she was being annoying and embarrassing Bea she knew she would always be there for her.

 

 

 

Allie had arrived at the hospital an hour before the first patient of the day. She'd asked herself countless times on her way to work that morning why she'd agreed to help out in a different department. She was certain that most of the other nurses were far more experienced than she was and would be better suited to the role even if we're only for a few hours. She discussed at some length with Bridget what she may do in the future but she was quite happy being in the emergency department. It was where she'd felt she'd be able to make the most impact on people's lives while she was doing her degree. It was hard work, it could be draining and an emotional rollercoaster but she loved it. Until she met Bea she'd never even given a second thought to the shift patterns. It didn't matter, she wasn't looking for a relationship and had no one else but herself to worry about. ‘Isn't that just the way life is?’ She asked herself. You generally find the thing you never expected, maybe thought you didn't even want or need when you least expect it. The only person she'd had to worry about was herself for the longest time and then that changed. Now she had a reason, two reasons, to no longer be happy with night shifts.

Trying to separate herself from anything not work related she busied herself setting up rooms and checking supplies. Then she was tasked with helping one of the other nurses wade through a pile of lab results, marking them off in the log as they came in. Anything urgent she had explained to her went straight to the doctors desk, anything none urgent went on the pile waiting for a doctors signature. She made it through the morning and was already sure that if she got asked to cover any staff absences again in this particular department she would rather pull her own teeth out.

After her lunch break Allie was sure that things just got worse, three solid hours of seeing a new patient every 15 minutes in between trying to make urgent phone calls just tired her out. She'd run into the problem of double booked appointments and patients who'd been given an appointment and a card only to find that it had never been entered into the computer schedule. This as one of the other nurses told her was affectionately called a ‘surprise.’ By the end of the day she was more than happy to be informed that she would be back in the ED. Breathing a sigh of relief as she walked across the car park all she could think about was getting home, having a long shower and doing nothing.

 

 

 

Not long after Debbie had been put to bed Liz followed leaving them alone. Settling down on the sofa they decided on watching a movie that neither of them had already seen. Neither of them paid a great deal of attention to it. Bea lost herself to thoughts about the conversation she'd had with Franky. Allie just wasn't really all that interested in anything other who she was sat close to.

“You haven't found him yet?” Allie asked as she rested her head against Beas shoulder.

“Bates? No, but we have a lead. Looks like a steak out is on the cards.”

“How? Thought no one had any idea where he was.”

“We got some information this afternoon. I can't help but think I know the address we were given though. Like I know it for some reason but I can't remember why.”

“So I'll be going back to my apartment soon then?” Allie asked with a hint of sadness in her voice. She'd admit willingly if anyone asked that she wasn't looking forward to being alone again.

“I guess, he might not be there. It could be a waste of time, could be mistaken identity. You look tired.” Lack of sleep was something Bea was used to but she didn't want to keep Allie up for no reason.

“I am, never too tired to spend time with you though.”

Two hours later Bea found herself laying in bed alone and unable to sleep. After spending almost every night alone she should be used to it she'd reasoned with herself but it wasn't helping. She lay staring at the ceiling in the darkness before turning over to face the empty side of her bed. She couldn't get the feel of Allie laying next to her out of her head. It felt right and that wasn't something she was used to. She didn't even know why she missed her, she was at the other end of the hall, it was ridiculous she told herself. They'd spent an hour before they finally went to bed talking and kissing and she couldn't have been happier. Now she was alone again and nothing about it felt right. She'd never imagined that she could ever feel this way about anyone. The last three years had been fine if you asked her, she was happy, and now she even questioned that. She knew she'd never looked at anyone the way she looked at Allie, there was no one else like her. She'd denied it when Franky had mentioned it, told herself that they were only friends. Not that she ever really managed to convince herself, she'd tried to fight the feeling. Tried harder than she thought she'd ever have to but it had won, she couldn't fight it no matter how hard she tried to.

The whole conversation she had with Franky replayed in her head over and over. It was easy for Franky to tell her to talk to Allie, actually having that conversation was a whole other story. She had no idea how she would even start a conversation about what was worrying her. The more she though about it the more she questioned everything Franky had said. The more she questioned it the more she worried. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt Allie, she'd been hurt more than anyone should have been by the person who should have done nothing but love her. What if she couldn't be what Allie needed her to be, couldn't give her what she needed and deserved? It was too late to pretend that nothing had happened, they couldn't just be friends now and she didn't want that anyway. Allie made her feel like she was really alive, more alive than she'd felt since before Harry was even in the picture. All she wanted was to be with Allie and that scared her because she was afraid of being hurt again. She knew most people weren't like Harry, she knew there was no way Allie could ever turn out to be like him in any way. Throwing the covers back she swung her legs off the bed and sat there for a while. She listened to the silence, everything was calm and still except for the sound of her own heart beating. She used to hate the silence, it would linger in the air, thick and heavy. Wherever she moved silence would follow her like her own personal shadow.

She got up from the bed and looked out of the window trying hard to think of anything else but it seemed next to impossible to think of anything other than her intensifying feelings. Kissing Allie was one thing, it was bad enough that she'd been scared to death of even doing that. It wouldn't, it couldn't end there and that scared her even more. She could keep repeating the same thing, that she was clueless but how long could she keep saying that? Anything physical with Harry had amounted to one thing, pain. She tried to avoid him like the plague but how long could she keep trying to avoid the subject completely? Wouldn't all her hang ups eventually drive Allie away? And then what, try explaining something she didn't know how to explain to Debbie because she'd managed to drive the only really good thing that had happened to them both away. Finding herself in the kitchen five minutes later she couldn't sit still. Pacing the floor she was sure that she wasn't going to get any sleep. She'd felt exhausted earlier but now she was wide awake.

Allie lay in bed wishing she was right where she wanted to be, laying beside Bea as they both drifted off to sleep. Holding her close like she had the previous night, the exact same position she'd been in when she woke up that morning. If she could rewind time she'd gladly do it just be back in that moment. Bea hadn't asked her to stay with her tonight and Allie wasn't going to push the subject. She'd wait, maybe she'd be back in her apartment alone before she got another chance to watch her sleeping. The relationships she'd had before she hardly remembered, moments dissolved into a drug fuelled haze. Did they even count if you can't remember the details she wondered for a moment. It wouldn't be like that again, she wanted to memorise every moment they spent together. Be able to remember every word they said and everything they did no matter how small. She was quite certain that she'd never felt anything like this before, never known such intense feelings. She tried to keep them hidden, the last thing she wanted to do was send Bea running in the opposite direction.

She hadn't been asleep very long when something disturbed her. Sitting up she listened carefully drawing the conclusion at first that it must have been a noise from outside. Laying down and closing her eyes she heard another noise, this time she knew it came from downstairs. Getting out of bed she decided that she was going to find out if maybe Debbie had woken up and gone downstairs. It was out of the ordinary once Debbie was asleep she was out for the night but it was possible. If it was Debbie she'd get her back into bed and stay with her until she fell asleep again, there was no reason to disturb anyone else. Quietly leaving the spare room she made her way downstairs, not as easy as she thought since she'd never had the need to venture downstairs in the dark before. Hearing a noise from the kitchen she headed that way surprised that whoever was in there hadn't turned the light on. She knew it was Bea as soon as she saw her outline in the dim light through the kitchen window.

“Bea…is everything alright?” She asked quietly.

Bea seemed not to have even noticed she was there and she wasn't sure if she should approach her. The last thing she wanted to do was scare her.

“Bea?”

“Shit…I'm sorry I didn't mean to wake anyone up.”

“It doesn't matter, is something bothering you? Work?”

“It's, it's nothing…go back to bed, I'll try to make less noise.”

“It's clearly not just nothing, talk to me, please.”

“I wouldn't even know where to start. You'll think I'm an idiot anyway.”

“Hey.” Allie crossed the kitchen and pulled her gently into a hug. “I'd never think you were an idiot. Talk to me, please.”

Feeling Allies arms around her again almost made it impossible for her to think. Franky was right though they needed to talk, or rather she did, Allie just needed to listen. She just had no idea how say what was on her mind.

“Come back to bed with me?” She asked her heart beating louder than before as she asked.

“Anything for you.”

Returning to Beas bedroom they both got into bed. Bea sat quietly for a while trying to organise her thoughts.

“I was talking to Franky over lunch, and she's right I do need to talk to you.” Bea sighed. “I just don't know how I meant to say what's on my mind.”

“Is it me? Did I do something to upset you?”

“It's not you, honestly, you…you're perfect, I just…I really like you, you know that. And I know I keep saying that I'm clueless because it's the truth. I'm not confident like you and Franky, I feel like I'm drowning in my own thoughts half the time. I don't want to hurt you, I just don't think I'll ever be what you want me to be. That I'll never be able to give you what you need.”

“Are you kidding me?” Allie asked as she reached out taking Beas hand in hers. “You already give me everything. I've never had this before, someone who actually treats me like I'm a real person. I told you about my mum, how my life was before and you've never treated me any differently. I'm happy just being with you, spending time with you and Debbie is the best thing I've ever had in my life. I'll never pressure you into anything you don't want, you mean way too much to me.”

“You say that now…you could have anyone, why would you even want someone as messed up as me? What if I'm never ready for more than this?”

“I don't want just anyone, I want you. I wish you could see yourself like I see you. And I don't care if we never have anymore than what we have now.”

“And I have Debbie. You have your whole life ahead of you, why would you want to give that up? I mean you already know how hard it can be. I can't just drop everything and do as I please.”

“I did as I pleased for too long, I could be dead now because I just wanted to do what I wanted to do. I love being with Debbie as much as I love being with you. Sure I have a lot to learn, never had much to do with kids, I was never in a position to. I want to be here with you, with both of you. If you decide that this, us, isn't what you want then I'll have to live with that. I'll walk away and you'll never have to see me again if that's what you want. But I won't go until you tell me to.”

“I don't think I'll ever want that.”

“Then I'm afraid you're stuck with me.” Allie giggled trying to lighten the mood. “I'm surprised you even want me around Debbie. I'm hardly a great role model am I? Ex junkie trying to make good, I'm surprised Franky hasn't warned me off already, tried chasing me out of town.”

“Franky wouldn't do that. She likes you, think it's me she has a problem with sometimes. And I've never told her any of what you told me, it's not my place.”

“Na, you're her best friend, I mean seriously who else could put up with her for as long as you have?”

“Booms maybe?” Bea shrugged.

“Feeling better now?” Allie asked before yawning. “I think we could both use some sleep…I'll see you in the morning, might even manage breakfast in bed if you're lucky.”

“Stay with me…I couldn't sleep because you weren't here, I missed you.” Bea finally admitted why she couldn't fall asleep from her first going to bed. “I've never wanted to be close to anyone before, I lay here and, and it felt wrong.”

“Then we better lay down don't you think?”

Just like the night before Allie cuddled up to her before closing her eyes. It was best feeling she'd ever had, falling asleep in the safest place she'd ever known.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Waking up before her alarm woke her was nothing out of the ordinary for Bea, it happened more often than not. This morning was different, waking up in Allies arms was intoxicating. She surprised herself when the first thought that entered her head was that she just wanted to stay like that for the rest of the day. She almost laughed when she remembered the way she'd freaked out the first time she'd woken up next to Franky after a very drunken night out. Maybe that had just been because it was Franky, Allie was different, so very different. Of course she knew even if work wasn't an issue it still wasn't practical, Debbie would ask questions and she just had no answers for her. It was stupid really she'd told herself, it would be easy to tell her that they had been talking and just fallen asleep. Lies however, no matter the reason she was telling them, were not how she wanted them to start their relationship. She'd already lived through a shit show of a marriage that had been based on lies. How many times had she tried to lie to herself that things could change, that he would change? She'd lied to everyone and there was no way she was going to do that again no matter how harmless the reason may seem.

“You wake up too early.” Allie mumbled.

“And you like to sleep in just like Deb does.” Bea laughed softly, she had noted their similarities so many times already. From their love of pizza and ice cream, the amount that they both could easily eat and their love of sleeping in late.

“Hmmmm…especially when I'm right here with you.” Allie closed her half open eyes before jumping up. “Stay where you are, I promised you breakfast.”

“I don't care about breakfast.” Bea glanced over at the alarm clock. “Besides you only have five minutes before it's really time to get up. Come here before there's a five year old mistaking you for a bouncy castle.”

“She wouldn't?” Allie tried and failed miserably to sound shocked because of course she knew it was true.

“Trust me she would, especially since I'd have to hide you. Unless you want to answer all her questions?” There would be endless questions Bea knew that.

“I can do that, just not at this time in the morning.”

Ten minutes later they were both still laying in bed, neither of them wanted to move first even when they heard movement on the other side of the door.

“Shit!” Allie mumbled.

“Relax it's only Liz, five more minutes won't hurt.” Bea whispered as she pulled her closer.

 

 

 

Every morning on her way to work Bea did the same necessary mental preparation like her brain was on autopilot. She tried to prepare herself for every possible scenario that she might encounter. She'd work out solutions to problems that couldn't even possibly exist yet, just in case. She couldn't remember one single time any of it had paid off, it seemed to be more a function of her own anxiety than anything else. This morning she was halfway to the station when a thought occurred to her. The address they'd been given where Colin Bates was supposedly hiding was familiar. Not because it was an address she'd ever attended on a call but because it was on St David Street. The same place she'd been convinced she'd seen someone in the shadows while they were looking for Jake. She wasn't sure what the number of that house had been but something told her it would be the same one. It all started making more sense, Jake was covering for them. Just how he'd ended up beating Natasha so badly was still a mystery to her, unless of course she'd been suspicious of him. That made complete sense, Bea had only ever questioned Harry once, the result was still something she didn't care to think about. She needed to speak to Will in private, if his suspicions were correct there was definitely someone in CID passing on what they knew to whoever was behind everything. Who they were passing the information on to was anyone's guess but it gave her an idea.

Running into the station she almost collided with Franky.

“Watch where the fuck…shit sorry Red. Don't suppose ya’ve seen Colonel Blimp on ya way in?”

“No sorry, can't stop…see ya later yeah?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Franky shook her head. ‘Fuckin useless old…’ she mumbled to herself. Collins maybe a useless waste of space in her opinion the closer his retirement date got but it wasn't like him not to show up. He was the type of person who would show up even if he'd been ready for his death bed and no one had seen him at all this morning.

Bea ran into the office thankful that other than Will she was the first to arrive.

“Ya don't get brownie points for getting in early ya know.” Will laughed.

“Yeah I know, we need to talk before anyone else gets here.”

Sitting down together Bea told Will everything that had been on her mind. Will agreed that it made sense, he also voiced his concerns about one of the detectives.

“It's got to be Kaplan, I've been watching him. He asks way too many questions and he's never around when we need him. I've been watching everyone and he's the only one who stands out.” Will confided.

“Yeah and you know he was mates with Jake Stewart.”

“Shit really? Didn't think he mixed with anyone in uniform. No offence, he just seems to think he's above them since he got promotion.”

“They never spoke to each other in the station, we bumped into them a few times. Sometimes in the diner and a couple of times when we were out for drinks. Never gave it much thought.”

“Any ideas?” Will asked, he had a few but Bea was doing fine without his input as far as he could see.

“Well yeah, but I don't know if it'll work…we give him false information, keep him out of the way and see what happens.”

Will nodded in full agreement, Bea could have read his mind he thought. She would get promotion with hardly any effort judging by what he'd seen and heard.

 

 


The remainder of the week slipped by uneventfully, nothing was confirmed one way or another as to whether Colin Bates was at the address they had been given. The house had been watched night and day but no one had been seen entering or leaving. The only sign of life that had been witnessed where lights being turned on and off. There hadn't been any more incidents in or around the apartments either.

Franky was still fuming about Collins being missing for an hour at the start of one shift without explanation. Sitting in a car with him for 8 hours a day for the remainder of the week had not been welcomed. And sitting in the car they had been issued for their part in the surveillance meant nothing but back ache and long hours of tense boredom. Will had reasoned with her that just sitting around with him at least meant that she wasn't going to find herself in pursuit of Bates alone if he was there and did try to run. Other officers would be close by should she need them. Now it was Friday morning and she was sure she'd never heard Collins talk so much. She was also certain that if he told her one more story she was going to commit a crime herself, most likely murder. She'd spent enough time tracking down suspects in every stinking rat hole that Melbourne had to offer, she figured she'd stand a pretty good chance on the run. Almost 8 hours in and time was passing like a bad dream, boredom felt as though it were drilling holes in her eyeballs. This wasn't what she'd expected her career to look like back when she was in college. Of course in her crimefighting daydreams back then there were far more high speed chases and shootouts. This was when all was said and done part of the job, she signed up to uphold the law and follow orders. It would just have been more bearable if anyone else was sitting here with her right now.

Finally arriving back at the station Franky was ecstatic to finally be free of Collins, ‘Only two more weeks,’ she kept telling herself. And two weeks couldn't pass soon enough, although right now she had more exciting things to think about.

“You fancy a day without Deb?” Franky asked as Bea stopped dead in her tracks as she reached her car.

“What?”

“Thought ya might like a whole day alone. Ya know with blondie. Liz is with Maxi all weekend so I heard.” She winked.

“Piss off Franky.” The prospect of spending a full day together with no distractions was more than tempting and more than she thought she could ever dare hope for. Bea knew she'd never say no, even half a day alone was more than she could ask for.

“I'm being serious, come on Red. Haven't spent much time with mini Bea since we went to the zoo. I just thought ya might like some alone time.”

“You sure you want to do that? Aren't you spending the weekend with Bridget? Only Allie said…”

“Yeah, yeah…listen we want to, I already asked her and she's all up for it, seems Deb made a great impression. And come on Debs been buggin ya to take her to the Legoland discovery centre since forever.”

Bea shook her head. “You're a big fucking kid Franky Doyle. Bridget's got no problem with that?”

“Told ya she's up for it she's already bought the passes, now don't argue. We'll pick her up after breakfast yeah? Oh, and make sure she's got a bag packed, thought a good movie night would do us good.”

“Fine…can I go now?”

A whole day, just her and Allie. Bea couldn't deny that the thought excited her. A couple of hours everyday to themselves after Debbie and Liz were both in bed was great. She couldn't deny that cuddling up to her every night had been the highlight of her day since Sunday. She suddenly realised as she sat at a set of traffic lights that without Debbie being there she had absolutely no clue what they would even spend the whole day doing. Beas life revolved around work and doing whatever Debbie wanted to do, she had no clue anymore what people did when they had no kids making demands on their free time.

Walking into the house a little later than usual thanks to Franky she was surprised that Allie wasn't already there.

“Have you heard love? There's been a massive accident, wouldn't be surprised if Allies a little late.” Liz looked sympathetically at her.

Bea shook her head, both of their jobs were unpredictable and she was pretty sure that if she were on general duties right now she'd probably have been called to any major traffic accident.
Deciding that keeping herself busy was the best idea as she ushered Liz out of the kitchen.

“You do most of the cooking, go and put your feet up.”

“Seems to me you're getting bossy.” Liz chuckled. “Is it the new job or Allie that's responsible?”

“Neither, I'm just trying to give you a break. You deserve it.”

“And you've been at work all day love.”

“And that means I can't make myself useful when I get home? Now sit down and stop arguing.”

Liz shook her head as she settled herself down on the sofa with Debbie. This was a side of Bea she hadn't seen in a long time.

 

 

 

Debbie was in bed, Liz had left for the weekend and Bea had nothing other than the dishes left to occupy her time with. Allie wasn't home and she hadn't heard from her, not that she'd expected to. She'd seen the accident on the news when Liz had turned it on and knew that Allie would have stayed back after her shift finished. Having Allie there had made her forget what nights alone felt like. Not that they happened all that often but when they did she hated them. She stood finishing the dishes and missing Allie. It was an ache she felt that came and went many times a day but in quiet moments like this it felt worse. She found herself wishing that she could always keep her close. To talk to, to laugh with and she felt her absence more now the house was quiet. This was what it would be like soon enough, Allie would go home, that was a pain that would come sooner rather than later. They'd be together again soon, close and happy and she'd feel better because when she was there things felt better. Her mind wandered, they had a good chance of staying together if she didn't screw things up. ‘Get a fucking grip she's still at the hospital.’ She mumbled to herself, she'd survived worse than this, much worse than this.

Allie walked quietly into the house, she was exhausted, it had been a long day and all she really wanted was to crawl into bed beside Bea and sleep for the whole weekend. She'd witnessed first hand the injuries after the car crash and was convinced that she may never forget what she saw. After speaking to one of the police officers who was out in the waiting room she was surprised that anyone had walked away. Three cars had apparently been racing when one had under turned taking out itself and one of the other cars. As the road had dipped down the driver of the third car had lost control and had started to spin hitting another car. After that it had been chaos as another car rolled and flipped. It had sounded horrendous and she felt for the paramedics and police officers who had been on the scene.

Walking into the kitchen Bea was staring out of the window stealing Allies breath and making her skin heat up. Before she could take in another breath she had crossed the kitchen and her body had already melted into Beas. Wrapping her arms around her she could feel her firm torso and her heart as it thumped so erratically in her chest. She could feel her own body shake as if it were crying for the time they'd missed that they could never get back.

“I'm so sorry I'm so late.” She whispered in Beas ear before she turned in her arms and planted a soft kiss on her lips.

“I missed you.” She whispered back as she took her tired features in with her eyes. She ran her fingers through her hair as if she couldn't quite believe that she wasn't part of an almost forgotten dream. Kissing her again it was sweet and gentle. Allie wanted to speak, but all she could manage to croak out was another sorry. Beas lips turned into a soft smile as she nodded before pulling her closer. Allie found it almost impossible to formulate a single thought, at least not one that was based on any language.

“Sorry.” She mumbled again.

“Have you eaten?” Bea asked concerned that working later meant she wouldn't have had the time.

Allie shook her head before answering. “I'm not really hungry. I just need a shower and to fall into bed with you next to me.”

“Later…I'll make you a sandwich, if you don't eat I'll send you back to the spare room.”

“You wouldn't would you?”

“Want to take that chance?” Bea challenged with the hit of a giggle.

Allie shook he head, the last thing she wanted was to be back in the spare room unless it was really necessary. And even then she wouldn't be happy. Allie ate the sandwich without any protest not even noticing that Bea had disappeared. When she finally returned she led her upstairs.

“I ran you a bath, just don't fall asleep I'd hate to have to come and wake you up.” Bea smiled trying to wipe the thoughts from her head that had barrelled in there in a fraction of a second. No she wouldn't hate to wake her up, she'd willingly wrap a very naked Allie up in her arms and carry her to bed. ‘And then what?’ She wondered. “I'll leave you to it. Just got a couple of things to finish up.”

Sinking into the warm water Allie let her whole body relax, she felt like she owed the entire universe a very big thank you for sending someone as sweet as Bea into her life. No other living being had ever done anything that thoughtful for her ever. She'd convinced herself that after every bad thing she'd ever done she didn't deserve anyone so thoughtful.

Walking out of the ensuite almost 40 minutes later wrapped only in a towel she wasn't expecting to find Bea sitting in bed. Wasn't expecting to watch her eyes wander from her legs up her body either.

“That your way of paying me back for opening the door in just a towel?” Bea laughed a little hesitantly.

“I can think of better ways to pay you back for that.” Allie giggled as she sat beside her on the bed.

“Sure ya can.” Bea quickly responded unable to deny her rapidly increasing heart beat once again as she ran her fingers softly down her arm. Everything that had felt wrong about Allie not being there earlier had vanished and had been replaced by something completely new. A feeling so strange that Bea wasn't even quite sure she knew what to do.

“Won't be long.” Allie said as she got up from the bed. The look in Beas eyes hadn't gone unnoticed and Allie didn't want to make her panic as she grabbed her nightwear and returned to the ensuite.

Crawling into bed beside Bea she waited until she had turned the light off and lay down next to her. Shuffling her body closer as she did so.

“We have the whole day to ourselves tomorrow.” Bea mumbled absentmindedly as she felt the heat radiating from Allies body.

“I heard, Bridget mentioned something earlier. Whatever will we do with ourselves?”

Bea shrugged, she'd thought about little else since Franky had informed her of their plans and come up with nothing. Missing Allie had become a little more than a distant memory as she tried, unsuccessfully, to think of anything they could do. Allie reached her hand up and stroked her fingers gently down Beas face.

“We'll think of something.” Allie whispered into the darkness as she slowly trailed her fingers down Beas arm until she reached her hip. Leaving her hand there as she allowed her thumb to stroke the exposed skin. Neither of them said a word for a few minutes as they just enjoyed laying there together.

“You asleep?” Bea suddenly asked a little louder than she had intended to.

“Hmmmm.” Allie hummed before placing a tender kiss on her lips. “Not quite.” She turned over gently pushing her back against Beas front as she grabbed her hand. “The whole day, just you and me.” She murmured as she pulled Beas arm around her keeping hold of her hand.

 

 

 

Debbie grumbled about being woken up early. Turned over and squeezed her eyes tightly shut as Allie tried to stifle a laugh.

“You don't want to spend the day with auntie Franky?” She asked. “I hear she's taking you somewhere really cool.”

Debbie sat up quickly and rubbed her eyes still protesting that it was too early to be awake before confirming what Allie was thinking. “I'm starving.” She announced before jumping out of bed.

“Sure ya are.” Allie giggled.

Bea was already in the kitchen when she heard the front door open. Franky called out to her letting her know that she'd arrived.

“Where's ya girls?” She grinned as she sat herself down at the table.

“Upstairs, where's yours?” Bea threw back.

“She was late last night so I said we'd pick her up on the way. Ya already knew that anyway. Fucking idiots who the hell races like that?”

“You should be grateful you weren't in the station when it happened. Are you eating with us?”

“May as well, couldn't be bothered with breakfast.”

“Where are you taking me?” Debbie asked as she ran into the kitchen with Allie not far behind her.

“Won't be a surprise if I tell ya.” Franky chuckled as she ruffled Debbie hair. “You're going to have a great day and that's all I'm sayin.”

 

 

 

Debbie as Franky knew so well was a lego addict. After picking Bridget up they soon arrived in Chadstone and Debbie didn't seem impressed.

“You're taking me shopping?” Debbie huffed from the backseat as she looked out at the shopping centre that contained today's adventure.

Franky wasn't really expecting it to be all that great given its location. She’d heard Debbie ask Bea to take her countless times and given the time of year she'd figured it was a safe bet.

“No squirt we ain't goin shoppin.” Franky laughed as she helped her out of the car.

With the merlin annual passes in hand that Bridget had already purchased Debbie set about excitedly hugging the pair when she finally spotted their destination. The passes enabled them to skip the main line allowing them to walk straight into the first area of the discovery centre. Franky had admitted to being a little shocked when she'd first heard that Bridget had bought annual passes. She had justified her choice by telling her that she knew how much Debbie meant to her and that there were plenty of other places they could visit. That had taken Franky a little by surprise at first since she'd not once gone into even the smallest details of why she was so protective over Bea and Debbie. Bridget had just simply said that if Debbie was a significant part of her life then she would be a part of hers too. Watching Debbie take Bridget's hand and chat quite happily to her only made Franky realise that for once, even if she was still afraid she'd run like she always had, she didn't want to. That Bridget was the person she finally felt able to be herself with and with the exception of Bea that wasn't something people ever witnessed. It hadn't hurt when she'd witnessed the way Bea was around Allie. For all her years of protesting that she was fine being alone she'd taken a step, a very big step, in the right direction. Franky had decided that if her best friend was finally able to start putting her past behind her then it was time she did as well. Bridget meant everything to her and the thought of one day being able to wake up beside her every morning no longer terrified her.

Debbie, as Franky summarised, as she took her other hand thinks of herself as a lego master model builder. No mean feat for a five year old, and put her name down for the lego creative workshop as soon as they entered. Not one to take anything by chance Franky had done her research in advance and found out that only 15 kids at a time were allocated for each time slot, and that it only ran every 2 hours or so. Debbie was excited so while they waited for her workshop to begin she rode on the merlin’s apprentice ride more than once.

They spent some time creating and watching their own 4D film, something Franky admitted to being a huge fan of. Going into great detail as they spent more time looking around about how she was sure she literally could feel the rain and wind on her face which the characters on the screen had been moving through. After visiting the cafe for lunch they visited miniland, a miniature lego replica of Melbourne’s most loved buildings and landmarks. Debbie and Franky explored and played their way through the interactive mini version of the city, stopping to admire the eureka tower and federation square.

It had been blindingly obvious to Bridget the second she'd set eyes on Franky and Debbie together the previous Sunday, even with the remains of her hangover, that Debbie was important to her. She'd sat and watched them together while all the other adults in the room were lost in their conversations. It hadn't been a side of Franky she'd never expected to see, actually her first thought had been that it wasn't a side of Franky that actually existed. Seeing her and Debbie together it was obvious just how much they adored one another and Bridget had resolved to make sure that any time Franky wanted to spend with Debbie would be nothing but fun.

“Can we have pizza for dinner?” Debbie had asked as soon as she was back in the car.

Naturally Franky would never say no to her request and after stopping off to pick up her favourite ice cream on the way home they were already onto the subject of the best Disney movies to spend the rest of the day curled up on the sofa watching.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

After Franky and Debbie had left Bea felt nervous, more nervous than she ever remembered feeling before in her life. It was stupid, she'd spent time alone with Allie before. This was different though, there was no chance of anyone else walking in on them. No chance of Debbie tearing through the house asking to go to the park or demanding to be fed because she was as always starving. She was also extremely nervous because she had no clue how she was even meant to act in this situation. She'd already taken a chance and made reservations for them for dinner but that was hours away. Filling a whole day, just the two of them, seemed alarmingly impossible to do.

Allie reappeared fresh from the shower and unlike the previous night fully dressed.

“No towel this time.” Bea laughed trying to suppress how nervous she was really feeling.

“Not this time, unless of course you'd like it if I went out dressed like that. I mean I wouldn't say no to lounging around here with you all day like that, but…” Allie paused briefly stopping herself from actually blurting out what was actually on her mind.

“But?” Bea questioned.

“Well, we both know you couldn't resist me if I did that.”

Bea crossed the room and leaned in, planting a soft kiss on Allies lips. It soon turned into something a little more heated taking Allie a little by surprise. She wasn't going to complain, she loved it when Bea found her confidence. Kissing Bea was one of the best things Allie could think of doing and it was more addictive than any drug she'd even tried. Knowing that they had the house to themselves and that neither of them had to be at work she would have gladly just stayed in all day.

“As much as I enjoy kissing you I think we should actually find something else to do.”

“There's something you'd like to do?” Bea asked.

“You'd rather just stay in all day? Waste the whole day?” Allie asked feeling a little amused.

“I wouldn't ever say anything we do was a waste. I just can't think of anything that we can do, told you, clueless.” Bea sighed.

“Well I had something in mind, I know how much you like art and you're never going to complain about walking. I may not be the biggest fan of spending my free time on my feet, do enough of that at work. You trust me?”

“Course I do…anything is fine with me.” Not knowing what Allie actually had in mind she felt slightly hesitant but Allie had never pushed her into anything she was uncomfortable with.

Exploring the Melbourne laneways wasn't something Bea had ever had the opportunity to do before. Franky had raved about some of the cafes and bars that she'd stumbled on quite by accident. She soon found out that everything Franky had told her was a lot less than what they found. They walked up and down the many small laneways that ran through the city, each completely different from the last. Each one had a life of its own and all hid a treasure trove of bars, galleries and small shops.

Blender lane was an unsigned laneway just off Franklin Street and had some of the best street art that Bea thought she had ever seen. She decided that it was a true hidden gem and was surprised how easily Allie seemed to have found it. They spent time looking at the various murals, perused the many handicraft stores and visited the aptly named dark horse experiment art gallery. Neither of them had ever seen anything quite like it before and Bea found the experimental art fascinating.

Union lane was much the same and most of the wall space was covered in art by local artists. There were so many different art works on display that they spent over an hour just admiring it all. Bea thought they had stepped back in time when they reached Crossley Street.

“You look like you need coffee.” Allie beamed knowing the perfect place.

Taking Bea by the hand she led her further down the lane and into Pellegrini’s. It was a little emptier than Allie knew was normal and they easily got a seat at the bar.

“You're full of surprises aren't ya?” Bea asked as she looked around the area she currently found herself in.

The whole place looked as if it wouldn't look out of place in some cheesy 70s tv show. It was part of the places charm, the decor hadn't changed a great deal since the place had first opened. Allie ordered them both an espresso before turning her attention back to Bea.

“I like it here, the service is always fast. It is usually packed though, we must be early.” She chuckled. “You get a simple Italian experience here and it does have a great reputation.”

“Done a lot of exploring have ya?” Bea smiled back at her.

“I used to.” Allie replied sadly. “Used to have all the time in the world to wander the city didn't I?”

Bea felt a sudden pang of guilt after forgetting about that part of Allies life. Taking her hand in hers she gave it a gentle squeeze. “I didn't mean to…”

Allie waved her other hand dismissively. “Doesn't matter, just means I know all the best places to take ya.”

Their espresso’s were strong and they both felt fully recharged after drinking them.

“Come on.” Allie slipped off the bar stool and headed back outside.

They lost themselves in art deco lamps and antiques of all shapes and sizes. ‘Gems of the past, expressions of the soul.’ Bea thought as they wandered around taking in the straight or curved lines of each item. Each item like a tiny window into other eras. There were English teapots and Russian dolls, vases and all kinds of furniture. Many items had lost their lustre but they still stood with all their glory and pride intact. Coats of patina embraced stone and copper sculptures like a varnish of age and wisdom fascinating Bea. She slid her free hand across a baroque dining table feeling the ornate carvings under her fingers. The mellow aroma of oak still lingered and she asked herself if it would ever evaporate. Her mind spun back to a time when someone had carved it with so much love in their heart and she wondered if they had held as much love in their heart for their work as she did for Allie.

“Lunch.” Allie announced dragging Beas attention from the table before them.

“Don't tell me, you're starving.” Bea grinned.

“How did you ever guess?” Allie threw back playfully.

Making it to Hardware Lane Bea was surprised by the variety of cuisine that was available. Allie knew exactly where she wanted to go. It was better during the summer months but it wasn't cold and she gently pulled Bea in the direction of Campari House, more specifically the rooftop garden. They ordered a pizza to share and enjoyed just being together in a relaxed outdoor space with no other distractions but each other.

The last stop of the day Allie insisted had to be Degraves Street, ‘quintessential Melbourne coffee culture meets Parisian flair,’ as Allie described it. She knew by now that Bea had made reservations for them for dinner, not that she was giving a great deal away. Bea could still feel her earlier sadness as she willingly followed Allie. Thinking about how it was that Allie knew that places like this existed would always have that effect on her.

“Stop it.” Allie said over her shoulder seeing the expression on Beas face.

“What?” Bea asked a little confused.

“Overthinking, what's in the past is just that. I'm happy that I get to share all this with you. So please, don't let it bother you so much. I'm over it.”

 

 

 

Allie had retreated to the spare room over two hours ago to get ready for dinner and Bea had gone to her room an hour after that after dashing out of the house to pick something up that she'd hoped would make the evening maybe a little more special.

Allie was now standing looking at herself in the full length mirror still a little unsure if what she was wearing was actually good enough. Suddenly hearing a loud knock on the front door pulled her from her thoughts. Bea hadn't said anyone was coming over and it couldn't be Liz because she would have just let herself in, it was her house after all. Another loud knock on the door made her wonder where Bea was, she'd herd her in her room earlier but heard nothing since.

“Fuck it.” She thought to herself as she made her way down the stairs. Whoever it was would just have to piss off.

Swinging the door open she was just about to give whoever was on the other side of it a piece of her mind when she came face to face with Bea.

“Hi.” Bea smiled.

“What are you doing?” Allie asked a little confused.

“Picking you up…taking you to dinner.” Bea grinned back at her as she let her eyes trace the full length of her body. “These are for you.” She held out the bunch of red roses that she'd run out to buy earlier.

“You shouldn't have.” Allie smiled shyly. No one had ever done anything this sweet for her ever. “You gonna come back inside while I get my jacket?”

“Guess I better…and I'm the only one who knows where to find a vase.” Bea giggled. “You look amazing by the way.”

Allies heart thumped in her chest, she'd never expected any of this as she watched Bea hesitate a little before walking back into the house.

Allie ran back upstairs to grab her jacket as Bea went in search of a vase. Of course she knew where she'd find one but being distracted by Allies appearance she found she had a momentary memory loss.

“Ready to go?” Bea asked as Allie slipped on her jacket.

Allie nodded as she picked up her bag and followed Bea out of the house and to her car. Bea smiled as she opened the door for her and watched her slide into the seat. She'd never admit it but Bea had been thinking about this evening the whole day. She'd been so nervous about the whole thing that she almost cancelled their dinner reservation. Almost, but then she'd noted the excitement in Allies eyes and hadn't wanted to let her down. She didn't know when they would get to do this again. Twenty minutes later they arrived at the restaurant, they laughed about the thought of Franky sitting through Disney movies with Debbie and stole sideways glances at each other.

“Stay there.” Bea almost ordered as she was about to get out of the car.

“So bossy.” Allie giggled as she watched her get out and walk round the car before opening the door.

“And I'd been told chivalry was dead.” Allie laughed as she took Beas offered hand as she got out of the car.

“Could have done a Franky and took you to the diner.” Bea laughed in return as she placed her hand on her lower back after opening the restaurant door.

Bea gave her name to the maitre d’ and they were quickly led through the restaurant to a small outdoor courtyard. Bea had thought that maybe it would be a little too chilly to sit out there but was now pleasantly surprised by the unusually warm evening.

Taking their seats they both noticed that they were the only ones sitting out there, not that either of them would complain about that.

“You do love finding expensive restaurants.” Allie whispered.

Bea smiled and shook her head, as they were handed the menus by a waiter who had appeared from somewhere. Deciding on a bottle of wine of Allies choosing and a plate of mixed appetisers to share the waiter disappeared again as they fell into a comfortable silence.

The waiter soon reappeared with the wine, filled both their glasses and left.

“Don't remember you being this quiet last time.” Allie said softly her eyes never leaving Beas.

“Yeah…last time was meant to be more of an apology than a date though wasn't it?” Bea smiled.

“Not quite how I remember it. And not what you said if I remember correctly.” Allie answered before taking a sip of her wine, that first night she was sure she would never forget. Bea it seemed to her was still just as shy when they were out in public, a complete contrast to how she was at home.

Bea was about to protest when Allie reached across the table taking her hand. “It's hardly our first date, if you count the night we went out with Franky and Bridget as our first I'm sure you'll agree that could have ended a little better.” Allie laughed softly as she lightly circled the back of Beas hand with her thumb.

“It could have but that wasn't a date. Who in their right mind would want to double date with Franky?”

The waiter reappeared a few moments later and they fell silent until he was out of earshot.

“I honestly never thought we'd do this again. Thought I'd scare you away just by being myself.” Bea admitted as she looked into Allies eyes.

“That was never going to happen. Although if you don't let me pay half this time I may not agree to have dinner with you ever again.”

“You paid for lunch.” Bea argued. “And the coffee…its only fair I pay for dinner.”

“Maybe I'd agree if you didn't seem to make such expensive restaurant choices.” Allie knew there was little point in arguing, she hadn't won last time and was sure no matter what she said Bea wouldn't listen.

The rest of their evening felt a lot different, they both relaxed more easily and they kept their conversation away from what they both knew was on each other's minds. Anything work related, or Allie eventually returning to her apartment wasn't anything either of them wanted to talk about.

“We should get going soon.” As soon as the words left Beas mouth she knew she didn't want the evening to be over. “I'm just going to nip to the bathroom.”

“Sounds good to me.” Allie answered feeling a sudden wave of disappointment wash over her. Even though they were going home together it didn't mean she wanted them to go, another day almost over meant one less day they would be together under the same roof.

Allie sat back in her chair as she watched Bea disappear from view and took another sip of her wine. She laughed softly to herself because once again she'd drunk most of it, this time because Bea was driving. She glanced around the area where they were sitting and suddenly noticed that they were no longer the only two sitting there. It was so easy not to notice other people when they were alone. Who was she kidding, she hardly noticed anyone else when they were in a room full of other people.

“Ready?” Bea asked as she arrived back at the table holding out her hand again.

“You did it again didn't ya?” Allie smiled as she took the offered hand. “Paid the bill?”

Bea shrugged. “Na, it was on the house.” She laughed as she led Allie back to the her car. Opening the door for her again.

“Do you want dessert this time? I know this great little place over by the Yarra river.”

Allie agreed without any hesitation unable to hide her smile. It wasn't far away but for the first few minutes Bea felt nervous again. ‘This is fucking stupid.’ She told herself as she glanced at Allie who's eyes appeared never to have left her.

They pulled up at the kerb outside brazen brownies dessert bar and once more Bea opened the car door for Allie, then the shop door earning her the brightest smile she thought she'd ever seen.

“You really expect me to choose?” Allie sighed, everything on offer looked amazing and she was about to suggest that they order one of everything when she noticed how packed the place was. “Ice Cream?” She asked to which Bea readily agreed.

Ordering two ice cream cones they soon left deciding that a walk along the Yarra river promenade was a good way to spend the rest of their evening. They walked closely beside one another as they ate their ice cream before Bea spotted an empty bench and suggested that they should sit down for a while.

“It's not too cold for you out here is it?” Bea asks as she became aware of the cool breeze.

“No, its fine. Are you cold?”

Bea shook her head, as she looked down at Allies hand that was resting on the bench beside her. She was determined that this time she wasn't going ignore what her mind told her to do. Reaching down she entwined their fingers earning her another smile. Sitting in silence for a few moments they listened to the sound of the water.

“Thank you for tonight.” Allie said as she squeezed Beas hand a little tighter. “It's been almost perfect.”

“Only almost?” Bea let out a breathy laugh.

“Well yeah, there is the little matter of you not letting me pay for anything.”

“I remember telling you once before that it's only money. I'm not arguing with ya, besides which I think you deserve it.” Be looked down at their joined hands. “You're very special to me…and I've…I've never felt like this before. I'm not brave and I'm not confident like you but I know you deserve everything. Maybe more than I can give you.” Bea looked away, the one thing that she was afraid of was knowing that she didn't know if she could ever truly be free of her past. Let it all go and be the best version of herself, for Debbie and for Allie.

“Bea l…no ones ever treated me the way you do. I never though anyone ever would, when people find out about certain things it kinda sends them running in the opposite direction.”

“Not me.” Bea finally turned her head and looked her in the eye. “None of that matters, I didn't know you then, I like to think if I had I would have helped you. Don't know how because I don't appear to have been able to help myself.”

“Doesn't matter does it? Not now, we're both here.”

“No, no it doesn't. “ Bea raised their joined hands placing a soft kiss on Allies. “You deserve everything. You're amazing you know that?”

Allie swallowed hard, no matter how many times she heard that from Bea something inside her still found it hard to believe. The moment she looked down at the ground she felt soft fingertips run down her face. Raising her eyes she was met with warm brown eyes that held nothing except love and sincerity and she felt her heart race for the hundredth time that day.

“Can I kiss you?” Bea asked uncertainly.

“You don't have to ask.” Allie knew she'd ask, when they were at home she knew she wouldn't anymore. Beas uncertainty might seem annoying to some people but to Allie it was endearing.

Bea leaned in slowly and tentatively, her eyes searching Allies for any sign of discomfort, she found none. Allie closed her eyes as she felt Beas lips against hers. It was a gentle kiss, soft and warm, and they both lost themselves in the feel of each other for a few minutes. Allie was the first to pull away, a little to Beas annoyance. Stroking her fingers softly down Allies cheek she leaned in again pressing one more brief kiss to Allies lips.

“I've wanted to do that all night.” Bea whispered as she rested her forehead against Allies.

“Yeah?” Allie smiled.

“Yeah… you're just so…so beautiful.” Bea blushed a little realising what she'd just said but instead of turning away she leaned in again kissing Allie softly.

“You really are beautiful. Don't think I'll ever understand what you see in me.” Bea smiled shyly as she felt Allies fingers run through her hair.

“That should be the other way around babe.” Allie smiled back. “You're absolutely gorgeous. The first time I saw you I couldn't take my eyes off you and I was meant to be professional.” She giggled.

“I could willing stay here for the rest of the night kissing you but it's getting late. I think we should go home.” Bea loved how that sounded even though it wasn't really home for them both. In that moment she decided that she wanted to change that, had to change that. She couldn't stay with Liz forever, it made her life easier and in the beginning it was something she needed. Liz had given her all the help and support she had needed but now she knew she really had to change her living arrangements.

Bea stood up, taking Allies hands she pulled her to her feet. They walked slowly back to the car hand in hand. In that moment Bea really didn't care if anyone looked at them, she didn't care what anyone else thought. She never thought that she would ever meet anyone who she'd feel comfortable with. Hadn't believe for a second, no matter what Franky tried to convince her of, that someone like Allie could even exist. All the way home Bea held Allies hand, when they finally pulled into the drive Bea repeated the same process she'd done all night. Opening the door for her one last time before entwining their fingers and walking together up to the front door. Pulling the keys from her pocket Bea looked up locking eyes with Allie.

“Isn't this where you're supposed to kiss me goodnight?” Allie softly laughed.

“Only if you want me to leave you out here.” Bea chuckled before she felt herself being pulled in close by a hand on the back of her neck.

The kiss started out soft and gentle. Bea wound one arm round Allies waist pulling her in closer before deepening the kiss, only pulling away when the need to breath far outweighed the need to keep kissing.

“Come on, we can't stand out here all night.” It was true they both knew that, it was getting considerably cooler with every passing minute. Bea finally unlocked the door and the walked inside. Closing the door behind them before she knew it Allie felt herself pushed up against the door, Beas body firmly pushed up against hers and her lips on her neck.

“What are you doing?” Allie breathed out heavily as Bea kissed her neck.

“What does it feel like I'm doing?” Bea mumbled against her neck.

“It…fuck…it feels like I'm going to need to…sleep in the spare room.”

Bea pulled back searching Allies face in the darkness.

“I'm not complaining really I'm not but if you keep that up I might not be able to keep my hands to myself.”

“Sorry.” Bea mumbled suddenly feeling like an idiot, it hadn't crossed her mind for a second how her actions might effect Allie.

“Hey…I told you I'd never push you into anything, and I know you're not ready for anything more. I just don't want to get carried away and freak you out. I'm not prepared to lose you because I can't keep my hands to myself.”

“I didn't…didn't think, sorry.”

“Maybe I should sleep in the spare room.” Allie sighed, she knew if she had to she probably wouldn't get much sleep but she would rather do that than make Bea feel uncomfortable.

“No you won't, I'm sorry…I just…don't know what came over me.”

 

 

 

“Allie.” Bea whispered getting no response.

“Allie.” She said a little louder as she lightly kissed her cheek. Normally she loved waking up early finding Allie still sleeping next to her. She was always the one to wake up first, usually before the alarm had a chance to disturb her. She'd generally spend the few minutes before it was time to get up watching her sleep but this morning she didn't have time. It was Sunday morning and she been rudely woken up by her phone ringing. Answering the call from Will she couldn't stay any longer and she didn't want to just get up and leave. She could have left a note she knew that but she thought she'd be less worried if she could tell her where she was going.

“Allie.” She said one final time before leaning in again and kissing along her jawline.

“Hmmmm…babe it far too early go back to sleep.” Allie mumbled as she stirred slightly.

“I wish I could.”

“What's the matter?” Allie asked sleepily.

“I have to go, Will called. Colin Bates has been seen and I have to go to the station.”

“Can't someone else deal with it?” Allie groaned. “You aren't the only person working on the case.”

“I'm sorry I have to go, I'll be as quick as I can.”

“It's too early.” Allie groaned as she peered at the clock.

“I know, I could have just left you a note but I wanted to do this.” Bea trailed her fingers up her arm and leaned over her a little more leaving a soft kiss on her lips. “It's not the same when you're asleep.”

“How long will it take?”

Bea shook her head. “Not long I hope, all I know is that he's been seen in the house. They want to go in but Will had me and Fletch heading up the case and Fletch obviously can't be there. I'll be back as soon as I can.”

“You promise?”

“Yeah…maybe if it's not too late when I get back I'll come back to bed and we can spend a couple more hours just laying here.”

“I like the sound of that.” Allie giggled softly.

“I thought you would.”

“You go back to sleep, I'll be as quick as I can.”

Allie sat up. “I'm awake now.”

“You'll soon fall back to sleep, you're just like Deb, I swear both of you could sleep pegged to a washing line.” Bea laughed as she got up from the bed.

“Maybe, but then I wouldn't have you to cuddle up to. And you know I love falling asleep with you.”

“Same here, listen I really gotta go. I'll call you if it's going to take forever, I'm hoping we can just get him and Will takes charge of any interviews.” Bea knelt back on the bed leaning in and finding Allies lips in seconds.

“Now I really have to go.”

“Can't I tempt ya to call Will back and tell him you don't feel well?” Allie pulled her back in for another kiss.

Beas phone ringing for the second time that morning make them both jump. Bea grabbed it and answered it quickly.

“I'm on my way, just leaving the house.” She said quickly before ending the call.

“I'll be back as soon as I can.” Bea said as she looked back over her shoulder. She just hoped that she would be, nothing Will had just said actually filled her with any confidence.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Bea arrived at the station much sooner than she expected, the early Sunday morning hour leaving the roads relatively free of other traffic. Running into the station she found Will already waiting for her with Vera.

“Its official he's in there but it won't be easy to get him to give himself up, if he even will.” Will clarified as he showed both Bea and Vera the most recent surveillance photographs that had just been emailed to him.

“We have the floor plans of the property?” Bea questioned. She hadn't played any part in the surveillance operation and had spent most of the week following up leads and feeding Kaplan false information. Who in turn seemed to be spending way more time away from the station than was normal even for him.

“Yeah…Bea I understand if you would rather stay in the station. This could be dangerous, we know he's armed but there's noway we can be sure that he doesn't have more weapons inside. So far we've only seen him with that hand gun.” He pointed to one of the pictures.

“Not gonna happen.” Bea shot Will a glare that could freeze hell in a second wondering if now they had him cornered he was just going to push her out. “We started this, Fletch might not be here but I'll see it out until the end…no matter what the outcome.” She stressed.

“I didn't mean that to sound so…I just thought…” Will couldn't even decide why he chose to say it that way.

“I think what Will is trying to say is that you have a daughter to think about.” Vera jumped in. “We have no idea what he's capable of.”

“And? Care to tell me what situation I've ever walked into knowing that nothing can go wrong? You can't because we never know what might happen. A routine traffic stop could end your life.” Bea threw back, even Vera couldn't argue with that because it was the truth.

“You're right…I just thought…it was stupid of me, you've never been one to walk away.” Will hung his head, the one thing he knew from Beas record was that she didn't give up. Wouldn't run away or back down no matter what she was faced with when she'd been called to any incident.

Bea had an idea and had retreated to the office for a few minutes, Franky had arrested Bates once. She needed to look at his arrest record, certain that her memory wasn't playing tricks on her.

 

 

 


Colin Bates peered through the window that overlooked the street as Bea and Will arrived. This was meant to be a safe place, no one knew what the house was actually used for. It looked presentable from the outside, just like every other house in the vicinity. No one should have ever been any wiser. ‘Jake!’ He said out loud, he'd disappeared maybe he'd opened his mouth. ‘Should have shut it for him permanently.’ He thought to himself as he picked up the half empty bottle of Jack Daniels and took another drink. He wouldn't go quietly he'd already decided that, just needed a few more drinks. What was he even thinking, he didn't know himself anymore. The place was surrounded and all he had was what? A bottle of Jack and an imitation firearm, still on the bright side the cops didn't know that. Except the outcome of playing the tough guy could get him shot. Wounded and in hospital if he were lucky, dead and in a body bag he knew was more than likely.

“Scare the tenants by any means necessary or no payday. I want them out!” Vinnie had screamed in his face not long after he'd run from Allies apartment and made his way to his office. “By any means necessary do I make myself clear?” Those words still echoed in his head. ‘Payday…yeah right,’ he thought to himself. There was going to no payday, at least not now if there ever was.

Peering out of the window again he saw Bea, wasn't she the one Jake had warned him about, the one who was like a dog with a bone? She was the one who shot Nash he knew that, she wouldn't think twice about shooting him. Was it worth getting shot for? Getting killed for? Wouldn't it just be easier to give up? He sunk down onto the sofa knocking back another mouthful of Jack. They'd go easy on him if he gave up, walked out there right now and gave names wouldn't they? Wasn't that how it went, you cooperate and get a shorter sentence? But he couldn't could he, as soon as Vinnie got word of what he'd done he'd be a dead man, in or out of prison it made no difference. The bottom of the bottle looked like the best option right at this moment.

“He'll never come out of there willingly.” Will concluded after thirty minutes of standing around.

“Haven't seen him at the window in the last twenty.” Another officer offered.

Bea stood back quietly, she'd read his every arrest record. If he were a complete unknown she'd have agreed, when Bates was cornered he'd give in. Standing around waiting for him to drink himself into oblivion could take some time, it had the last time, but they had time.

“Shouldn't we be trying to talk to him?” One of the other detectives who'd just arrived asked.

“No point.” Bea finally spoke up.

“No point?” Will repeated looking confused. “He's armed, he's made threats to kill in the past. How can there be no point in trying to talk him into giving himself up?”

“You know what he's doing right now?” Bea asked as she glanced round at everyone who was looking at her. “He's trying to think of a way out, knows there isn't one. He's drinking himself stupid. Does no one bother to educate themselves on a suspect?”

“You can't know that.” Will could hardly believe what he was hearing.

“This isn't a stand off, it won't escalate into a shoot out.” Bea laughed. “If Debbie wasn't still with Franky I'd call her and get her to tell you the same thing, she was the arresting officer last time he was cornered. He runs when he knows he can get away. When he knows he has no options left he'll take his time, drink too much and then give up. He was so drunk the last three times he was arrested he could barely stand up, read the arrest records if you don't believe me.”

All eyes were on the house when the door opened and a very disheveled, exceptionally drunk, Colin Bates appeared.

“Gun!” One of the many assembled officers shouted.

Bates looked confused, everything around him seemed overwhelming. He looked down at his hands, an empty bottle in one and a gun in the other and he laughed.

“Police! Drop the weapon and get down on the ground now! Drop the weapon and get down on the ground now!” An officer shouted with his weapon drawn.

Bates stood there, unmoving as his laugh died away. In his drunken stupor everything felt even more overwhelming. The buildings, the cars, the road and the cops. He'd seen it all before, been in this position before. He took a step forward feeling incredibly unstable.

“Drop the weapon and get down on the ground!” The voice rang out again.

Raising his hands a little he looked at what he was holding in his hands, they were shaking, everything seemed to be blurring at the edges. He blinked, couldn't tell up from down and he wasn't even sure if he was breathing. He dropped the gun, tossed the bottle to the side and took a few more steps forward. It felt like he was going nowhere, stop, start, he wasn't even sure he was moving. He got a sinking feeling realising that it was over, there was nowhere else to go as he dropped to his knees.

“Ya got me.” He slurred. “Don't shoot, it's not even a real fucking gun.”

Waking up a few hours later he felt like he was in a dream. The sounds of doors slamming and other people talking sounded way too loud. The whole world felt like it was spinning when he finally raised his head, there was no way he could get up. The lights were too bright and he squinted, his mouth was too dry. ‘Never drinking again!” He mumbled to himself as he pulled the thin blanket over his head and closed his eyes.

 

 

 

Bea was relieved that Bates was too intoxicated to be interviewed, he'd at least need until the next morning to sleep it off. She found herself actually cringe when she thought about how bad his hangover would be. But she wasn't going to worry about that she was on her way home. Checking the time she guessed that Allie would have gone back to sleep, at least that was what she hoped anyway. She had a lot on her mind, this case would be over soon enough and she'd be going back to general duties. She loved the job but now she'd spent time in CID she wasn't sure she wanted to go back. It wasn't a decision she thought she should make before she spoke to Allie though, if she got through the exam the hours weren't so erratic but she'd be on call over the weekend once a month.

Bea sat on the bed gently not wanting to disturb Allie, she looked so peaceful when she was sleeping. She wished she'd turned her phone off then she wouldn't have been dragged out of bed so early. She'd hated waking Allie up but it really wouldn't have been fair to have left her sleeping and just leave a note. She worried about her she'd made that blindingly obvious already. Of course she should just get back in bed but she had so much going on in her head.

Allie opened her eyes relieved to see Bea was back. Sitting up she shuffled across the bed wrapping her arms around her and rested her head on her shoulder.

“Want to tell me what’s on your mind?” Allie asked softly not wanting to spook her.

“Yeah...I will, I mean I do. I didn’t mean to wake you up though. Shit why does nothing I ever say sound right?”

“Sounded fine to me. You didn’t get him? Please tell me no one got shot this time.”

“We did, he was as drunk as a fucking skunk and no, no one got shot. I still didn't mean to wake you up. Sorry.”

“Don't be, you were here when I woke again up that's all that matters.” Allie brushed Beas hair to one side and kissed her softly on the neck. “Tell me what's wrong.”

“I don't think I want to go back to general duties. I love the job don't get me wrong but the crazy hours…I miss out on so much.”

“You want to leave? But I…”

“No, I don't want to leave. Will, Will wants me to join CID…It's no safer, I mean I'll still not always know what I'm walking into sometimes. I'll have to apply first and then there's the exam and….”

“Shhhh.” Allie soothed. “Your rambling, I think its a fantastic idea if it's what you want. You'll fly through the exam.”

“You think? It wouldn't bother you? It's a big change.”

“I think it's an amazing opportunity. I think you're amazing and I'm completely behind you whatever you decide.”

“I'm really not…there's something else, I've been thinking that it's time I looked for our own place. Living with Liz has been great but let's face it it's hardly ideal, not now.”

“Is that brain of your always so active at this time on a Sunday morning? I think you already know what you want to do, if you want to stay then stay. If you want to find your own place then start looking.” Allie giggle softly.

“It's been three years, I should have moved out a long time ago. You'll help me look won't ya?”

“I'll do anything you want but it's up to you and Deb really.”

“You're not planning on sticking around then?” All Beas anxieties suddenly felt like they were in free fall without any real reason for them to be. She felt as if she were becoming painted into the background as her thoughts were tumbling shallow and chaotic.

“You know I am, I don't want to be anywhere else or with anyone else.” Allie removed her arms from around Bea and moved to sit beside her.

“Sorry, its all going to be a big change, for all of us. If I feel like I can't go through with it I don't want you to be disappointed in me. What if I really am that weak?”

“You aren't weak you just don't see what I see, what everyone else sees. And for the record it wouldn't matter if you did change your mind, I would never be disappointed in you. I've changed my mind so many times in the past, tried to get clean because it was the right thing to do for other people. It was never the right time for me though, not until it was. You make the decisions, take all the time in the world I'll still be here.”

“I need to do it…staying here felt like the safest option, maybe it was just the easy option when I was afraid to do anything else.”

Allie smiled softly and dropped her head to rest on Beas shoulder. “Guess I'll be leaving soon.” She sighed.

“Not until I know what's happening. He can't be interviewed until to tomorrow, I'm not stupid enough to think that nothing else could happen…Changing the subject though I think I need a shower, I left in a hurry.”

“Yeah…want some company?” Allie smirked.

“Allie…I…”

“I'm only joking, trying to lighten the mood…But if ya don't ask….”

 

 

 

Bea was just about to start preparing dinner when her phone rang, seeing Franky’s name on the screen she guessed she'd better answer it since Debbie was still with her. Franky was calling just to let her know that she would be bringing her home in around an hour. Inviting Franky to stay for dinner with them hadn't been what she'd intended at first but she was going to have to tell her her plans sooner or later. Going back to her preparations she was annoyed when it rang again five minutes later. This time it was Liz letting her know that she'd be back in the morning, Maxine wasn't feeling well and she didn't want to leave her.

Franky was only halfway up the drive when Debbie burst into the house. Running straight into the living room she jumped on the sofa and snuggled up to Allie.

“Have you had fun?” Allie asked wondering why she hadn't gone to look for her mum first.

“I did, we went to the lego discovery centre. I made auntie Franky watch Frozen.” Debbie giggled. “And we had so much pizza, but don't tell mummy.” She whispered.

“Your secrets safe with me.” Allie winked at her.

“Heard about Bates.” Franky announced as she entered the kitchen.

“News travels fast even on a Sunday.” Bea shrugged before turning around to face her.

“You look good Red, weekend alone done ya good aye?” Franky grinned.

“It was good, well except for the early morning wake up call.”

“Neva great if ya've only just gone to sleep.”

“Piss off, we didn't spend the whole time at home, or in bed for that matter.”

“Just half of it?” Franky laughed. “Seriously I'm happy for ya. Ya deserve it more than most after all the shit that fucker put ya through.” She said more seriously before quickly going back to her usual teasing self. “Spent some of the time in the bedroom then?”

“What? No…Franky!” Bea protested.

“Ya kidding me right? Shit honestly Red. Had the whole place to ya selves and ya still didn't…”

Bea ran her hand through her hair, she knew this was coming. Franky would never change but no matter how many times she thought she was prepared for it she never was. “I'm not talking about this…”

“Need my advice is that it?”

“No!” Bea huffed, she should have seen that coming she knew that. “You know I have no clue what the fuck I'm doing.” She lowered her voice.

“With a woman?” Franky tone of voice is suddenly more serious. “Listen stop worryin about it, told ya already let her take the lead. Seriously there ain't no way she'd do anything you don't want. And besides it's obviously so much better than with a man.”

Bea almost cringed at the thought of Harry. “Yeah and I have a great track record there don't I?” Bea asked sarcastically. “What if I can't?”

“She's never tried to pressure ya. Shit Red, that girl would wait forever. Jesus, the way she fuckin looks at ya is so sicken even I want to throw up.”

“Piss off Franky.”

“I swear to ya though when ya do reach ya final destination.” Franky wriggled her eyebrows. “There ain't nothin better than hearing a girl scream ya name.”

“Okay, okay…can we just drop this now? Debs only in the other room.”

Bea knew that no matter how embarrassing she found some of their most recent conversations, without Franky she'd have shut Allie out completely by now. As soon as she'd figured all this out she would have rebuilt her walls faster than ever before. Harry was all she'd ever known and convincing herself that dying alone wasn't the worst thing in the world. Meeting Allie was the best thing she'd ever known Debbie aside. And then as Fletch had so nicely put it, ‘labels are for bottles not people.’

“We're starving!” Debbie dramatically exclaimed as she dragged Allie by the hand into the kitchen with her. “What's taking so long?”

Bea shook her head while Franky burst out laughing. “Tell me a time when you aren't. Go wash your hands it'll be ready in five minutes.”

“Told ya, ya've found a good un there. Deb loves her, not thinkin about breakin two hearts are ya?” Franky asked as soon as Debbie had dragged Allie off with her again.

“Doubt I'd be breaking any hearts.”

“Ya fuckin kiddin right? Blondie, well I hate to break it to ya but she loves ya. Trust me I know the look. And Deb, shit ya have seen them together?”

“Kinda hard not to. Now shut up and make yourself useful or I may change my mind about feeding you.”

 

 

 

Bates woke up to the harsh smell of the whisky that he had consumed still lingering in the air. For a minute or so he had forgotten where he was. He still felt drunk as he finally got to his feet struggling to keep his balance. It was the kind of hangover he could only liken to having an out of body experience. His legs wouldn't work like he wanted them to and neither would his hands. He knew his brain must be sending the signals so he knew what to do but his body seemed to be listening to an entirely different story. Walking around the small cell he can feel himself moving. At least he's sure he's moving, giving up he lays back down, closing his eyes again.

At 9am Bea and Will were preparing to interview him after being informed that he'd eaten breakfast.

“Bet he's suffering right now.” Will commented as they walked through the custody suite towards an interview room.

Bates sat on the thin mattress, the blanket wrapped around himself. His head still felt as if there were an axe firmly planted in it. His eyes were struggling to cope with the light. His brain still struggling to recover from the whisky abuse he'd inflicted on it. He'd be pulled into an interview room soon enough he knew that. He couldn't decide if silence was the best policy. It was either that or spill his guts, those were the only remaining two options. Either way he was going away, why should he go alone?

As he was escorted to the interview room he still felt as unsteady as a leaf in a storm. Almost falling into the empty chair he was greeted by two sets of eyes studying him. They had him he knew that, he wouldn't be sitting here right now if he hadn't been identified and the evidence stacked against him.

“This interview is being recorded and may be given in evidence if your case is brought to trail. We are in interview room two at Melbourne East Police Station. The date is the 13th of May 2019 and the time by my watch is 9:32am. I am detective sargent Will Jackson. The other officer present is constable Bea Smith. Please state your full name and date of birth” Will began his eyes never leaving Bates.

“Colin Bates, 25th of June 1979.” He uttered knowing the drill from his frequent arrests.

“Do you agree that there are no other persons present?”

Bates nodded his head.

“For the recording Mr Bates I need an answer.” Will frowned as he wondered if he was doing this just to be obstructive. His arrest record spoke for itself, he knew exactly what he had to do.

“Yes.” Bates croaked out as he felt a sudden wave of nausea claw at his throat.

“Before the start of this interview, I must remind you that you are entitled to free and independent legal advice either in person or by telephone at any stage. Do you wish to speak to a legal advisor now or have one present during the interview?”

“No.”

“Would you state clearly the reason or reasons you do not require legal advice at this time?”

“No point is there? I mean you already know I did it, can we just get on with this?” Bates slumped back in his chair.

“At the conclusion of this interview, I will give you a notice explaining what will happen to the recording and how you or your solicitor can get access to it. I must now caution you that you do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. Do you understand?”

“Yeah.”

There was no point hiding all the awful things he'd done. There was no way to justify his use of violence. It wasn't an acceptable excuse to say that he needed the money he'd been promised. So far he hadn't seen a penny of it and now he knew he never would. It would be bad for him if he gave names but it was the only thing that might give him a chance of not spending the rest of his life behind bars. Giving up the names of two cops who were working for and protecting Vinnie Holts interests might go a long way in his defence. No one had died he could give himself a pat on the back for that. ‘By any means necessary,’ those words still swirled round his head. Sitting slumped in his seat he told them everything he knew before finally being escorted back to his cell.

Word had spread round the station and Kaplan was nowhere to be found. Arriving at the prison where Jake was housed Will was sure he'd know something. At least have some idea where Kaplan might have gone. He didn't want to see him but this was the easiest way to try and get answers. Bea had refused to tag along, certain that if she saw him again she really might snap. After sending Allie a text to let her know that she had good news she sat back looking out of the window. It was good news that Bates was off the streets. Knowing that Allie would be going home was the thing she wasn't looking forward to.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Allie woke up just a little after 5am, turning her head to the side and remembering again that she was alone in her apartment. ‘Three fucking days,’ she mumbled to herself as she glanced at the time. Not wanting to outstay her welcome at Liz's she'd gone back to her apartment on Tuesday morning and she hadn't seen Bea since. They spoke on the phone and sent countless messages but it wasn't the same. She remembered what an elderly patient had said to her a few days ago as they chatted about his late wife. ‘Once you master being alone you are ready for the company of others, doesn't make it easy though.’ He'd told her. And now she was laying here alone wishing she had a hand to hold or an arm that would slip round her and pull her close. Her apartment now felt cold and empty and so unwelcoming.

Her phone ringing brought a smile to her face because there was only one person it could possibly be.

“How did you sleep?” Bea asked as soon as she answered.

“Like shit, but never mind that. Good morning beautiful, you sound remarkably cheerful today.”

“Why wouldn't I be it's Friday, I'm talking to you. Oh yeah and I get to see you tomorrow.”

“And how many other people do you dare call at this time in the morning?” Allie giggled.

“Hmmm, let me see. Well there's you and then there's you, that's it only you. Guess I could call Franky if I wanted my head bitten off.”

“Does Franky miss you as much as I do?”

“I hope not, if she did would you be jealous?”

“I'd kick her ass into next week.”

“I think it's safe to say she doesn't, Bridget on the other hand.”

“You're probably right.”

“So are you going to tell me where we're going tomorrow or do I have to guess?”

“All I'm saying is that I'm taking my two favourite girls out for the day. If you want to try and guess then be my guest.”

“Think I'll just wait, you know I hate surprises right?”

“So does Debbie and I don't hear her complaining.” Allie laughed knowing that Debbie didn't actually know anything.

They chatted for a little while longer until Bea had no choice other than to get up and get ready for work. The week had dragged until this point, now she was just looking forward to getting through the day. Today she was going to be sitting down with Will to go through her application for promotion. She was still worried about the exam she knew she'd have to take but knowing Allie supported her made it feel a little less daunting. She missed Allie, missed waking up with her and she hoped that she wouldn't need much convincing to stay the night.

Allie stretched and smiled to herself, she would get through her day with a smile. When she woke up early the next morning she'd be the happiest she'd been since Monday night. Right now though she just had to get through the next 24 hours. The decision on their destination hadn't been an easy one. She hated that she always felt unsure about the plans she made by herself when Debbie was included. Debbie had loved every second they'd spent at sea life and she hoped that she was going to enjoy their trip to the zoo. The Royal Melbourne zoo was possibly one of Allies favourite places to visit when she was small. Despite it lacking Taronga Zoos views her memories were still clear. Her most fond memory still revolving around a gorilla named Mzuri. The days she spent there with her dad were some of her best memories, as well as being some of her most heart breaking. The highlight of this visit would be that she got to spend it with the two most important people in her life. That and the butterfly house and the gorillas of course.

 

 

 

Arriving home Bea had been surprised to find Maxine quite happily sitting with Debbie watching her favourite cartoons.

“How did it go? You finished your application today? How long before you hear something?” Liz asked as she walked out of the kitchen.

“Slow down, yes I finished it. How long it takes I can't say, I do know I'm not going straight back to general though.”

Will had made a request to keep Bea while he finished her evaluation in the hope that she'd get a date for her exam before he completed it. To him the evaluation was just a formality and he could have let her go but he didn't see the point, she'd be back in CID in the blink of an eye.

Allie had been deep in thought for most of her break until Bridget caught her attention.

“Whatever your worrying about I'm sure it can't be as bad as it seems.” Bridget said as she took a seat opposite Allie.

“It's nothing really.” Allie sighed knowing Bridget knew her a lot better than most people round the hospital.

“Doesn't look like nothing to me.”

“Guess I'm just scared I'll stuff up. It's just been Bea and Debbie for the last three years, what if Debbie decides she doesn't want me around? I can't expect Bea to choose between us because I'm never going to come out on top, and I wouldn't expect to, Debbie's always going to be her priority. I was never anyone's priority and I have no idea what I'm doing around a five year old.”

“That's not how Franky tells it. And you know how protective she can be. Debbie loves having you around. You sound like you're doing just fine to me, and I'm sure if Franky didn't think so you'd know by now.”

“And a day out at the zoo doesn't sound like the lamest thing you've ever heard?”

“Certainly not, Debbie will love it I'm sure and Bea…well I'm sure she wouldn't really care what you were doing as long as you're together.”

“I hope so…better get back to it.” Allie smiled as she got up.

“Allie…I know so, stop worrying.”

Bea knew that a different perspective on things wasn't a bad thing. Liz encouraged her, Franky made fun of her uncertainties. Even when she was trying her best to be serious Franky just couldn't help herself. Finding Maxine there when she arrived home had been a surprise but not an unwelcome one. Besides which Maxine always gave the best advice and that was something Bea knew she could use. Debbie decided that tonight she wanted Liz to read to her when she went to bed giving Bea some time to speak to Maxine.

“So how is everything going?” Maxine asked.

“Isn't that something I should be asking you? And how are you even keeping the salon running?”

“You're always an expert in changing the subject.” Maxine shook her head. “I'm as alright as I can be. As for the salon Doreen is perfectly capable of holding the fort. I'll do my bit and Liz has promised to help out when she can. So come on tell me about you.”

“I haven't even told Liz or Franky this yet. I was going to tell Franky on Sunday but you know how hard it can be to get a word in. I'm thinking of moving out.”

“A promotion and your own place, Allie must be really good for you.”

“Yeah…she is but it's not just that. I think Liz could use a Deb free zone. The promotion isn't automatic, still have an exam.”

“Which you'll pass so there's no point worrying about that.” Maxine stated with her usual conviction.

“Now you sound like Allie…But that's the thing, what if I don't, what if I'm not good enough? I'll just be letting everyone down. And what if I can't leave? I've been here for three years Maxi, what if I can't even go through with that?”

“What does Allie say, I'm guessing you've told her all this?”

“She said it doesn't matter to her, that I should do what's best for me and Deb. Of course then I let my head run away with itself and read something into that that just didn't exist. I don't know why she even wants to stick around sometimes.”

“Seriously?” Maxine questioned. “All I hear from everyone is how much she adores you. Do you really not have eyes to see with or ears to hear with? The first time I saw you together it was obvious. And Debbie loves her. You want to know what I honestly think?”

Bea just nodded.

“Well I doubt that I'm getting any of this wrong but please stop me if you think I am. I think it's scary, and you have every right to be scared after everything. But you can't let that stop you Bea. If you give up on something or rather someone you clearly want to have in your life you'll be miserable. You've spent three years telling everyone you're fine, that all you need is Debbie. Sometimes the things we don't even realise we want or need appear when we least expect them to. I think you deserve to be happy and if Allie makes you happy then go for it.”

“You've been got at by Franky I think. I love having her around, so does Deb. While she was here I looked forward to waking up every morning knowing that I'd..."Bea trailed of unsure if she'd actually said too much.

“Wake up next to Allie.” Maxine finished her sentence for her. “So the two of you have…”

“No! I'm not Franky Maxi.”

“I'm not suggesting that you are. I'm happy for you.”

“Everyone keeps saying that. Honestly…I've never felt like this. Allies just…too perfect to want to be with me. She makes me feel things I never even knew existed. She's so good with Deb and she doesn't even see it, she questions herself all the time. You should see them together.”

“I have remember, that day at the beach.” Maxine smiled softly at the memory of watching Debbie so relaxed and happy with someone new. Remembered clearly how Bea had walked down the beach with Allie. How she'd seen her watching her as she'd built sandcastles with Debbie. She'd never met Harry and knew that she didn't know the whole story. She doubted that anyone apart from Bea knew the whole truth. She could only ever guess how badly she'd suffered at his hands. “Any plans this weekend? A date maybe?”

“We're taking Deb out tomorrow, she does that, includes Deb. I have no idea where we're going though.”

“Good at surprises is she?”

“Something like that, I don't even care where we go. Deb won't care unless we forget to feed her but I'm sure Allie will have found something she'll love.”

 

 

 

The next morning Debbie was being impossible. Bea had been trying to get her out of bed for the past thirty minutes. Even telling her that Allie would be there soon wasn't getting the reaction she was hoping for. Hearing a knock on the door she threw her hands up and ran downstairs.

“Am I too early?”

“No of course not. You know who refuses to get up.”

“Want me to try?”

“Telling her you would be here soon hasn't helped, be my guest. Just don't be surprised if she still doesn't move.”

Debbie had scrambled out of bed the second she heard Allie asking her if she was staying home alone.

“Where are we going?” Debbie asked as she headed for the bathroom.

“It's a surprise.”

“I don't like surprises.” Debbie grumbled causing Allie to laugh.

 

 

 

Pulling into the car park Allie was a little surprised when neither Bea or Debbie had said a word about where they were. Turning her head to look at Bea it was obvious that she was completely oblivious to their surroundings.

“You're starring.”

“Hmmm…what? I…I…errr…sorry.”

“Don't be.” Allie laughed softly realised why Bea had been so quiet.

Still hearing no reaction from Debbie Allie was just about to ask if she wanted to go somewhere else. Opening her mouth she never got the chance to say a word when Debbie became very excited and animated.

“The zoo!…Can we see the seals and the penguins? Allie, Allie can we go to the butterfly house?”

“We can see everything, just not all at once.” Allie chuckled. “We have all day.”

“Mummy, mummy, Allie knows all the best places. She's better than auntie Franky isn't she mummy?” Debbie said excitedly as she tried to free herself of the seat belt.

“So much better than auntie Franky.” Bea said quietly as she smiled to herself. “Yes Deb you're right. She is, there's not another person like Allie.”

They had arrived just before opening time which Allie remembered her dad had always done because parking was limited. Once they were out of the car Debbie was so excited she made a wild dash to the entrance gates. Arriving early also had the added advantage of no real queues to speak of. Purchasing the tickets was a breeze even when Bea complained that she could pay for herself Allie just ignored her. There were one or two surprises that she wanted to include in their day.

Once inside Debbie did as she always did and held on tightly to both Bea and Allie. It was the simplest thing, yet it was something she'd never pictured Debbie ever experiencing. If Harry were still around they wouldn't have even got within a mile of the zoo, at least not with him. And Bea knew she'd have never dared tell him she was taking Debbie there. Not that it mattered, Allie seemed to easily think of things for them to do together that Debbie would enjoy. At least that was how Bea saw it since Allie didn't make it obvious just how difficult she actually found it.

Their first stop was the ring tailed lemurs. Debbie held onto both their hands a little tighter when she found out that they were actually going to walk through that particular exhibit. There were no barriers between them and the animals.

“They won't hurt you.” Allie whispered as she lent down to try and settle Debbie's nerves.

“Are you sure?” She asked a little apprehensively.

“Absolutely. They spend most of their time just hanging out with each other.” Allie smiled. “They can run around all they like and they can come close to you if they want to but they don't seem as interested in us as we are in them.”

It was still early so they were the only three people who were going to have the lemur close up experience. Something Allie had already paid extra for hoping that Debbie would enjoy it. Ben the primate manager and Bianca, the lemur keeper, showed them around and introduced them to the lemurs. Debbie was soon in awe of the animals when she had one climbing on her. Although it was soon apparent that lemurs were a lot like Debbie, always hungry, when they were more interested in trying to get sultanas from their keeper.

Heading off to the seal enclosure Bea was surprised to find the three of them being ushered behind the scenes where they were greeted by James and Greg, the seal and penguin keepers. Debbie was excited about being able to get up close with theses particular animals. Giggling freely when she was told by James that she might even get a kiss from a seal.

“You're sneaky.” Bea whispered to Allie as they watched Debbie being introduced to Iha, a super sweet New Zealand fur seal.

“I'm not, if I remember correctly you were the one who said you didn't want Deb to miss out on anything. I'm just trying to do my bit.”

They watched Debbie listening to everything she was being told about Iha being found stranded on Westshore beach.

“I've been there with my my gramps.” Debbie grinned before she returned to listening intently to everything else she was being told.

When James returned Iha to her enclosure Greg introduced them to Wings. A little penguin who had been born at the zoo. The three of them had heard her calling to them since they had entered the area. Greg explained that she was always excited to see new people after being hand reared after she was found to be significantly under weight and failing to thrive. The little penguin was incredibly inquisitive and seemed to genuinely love being surrounded by people. They watched her run around for a while before James returned and Debbie started throwing questions at them.

“Your daughter appears to be a sponge.” Allie observed as she asked questions she would never thought to ask, and listened to everything that she was being told.

“She is pretty smart, no idea where she gets that from.”

“I think I have a pretty good idea.”

When they arrived at the orang-utan sanctuary they walked on the elevated boardwalk to watch them behave as they do in the wild. An excited Debbie pointing out everything she saw that caught her eye.

The continued on their journey round the zoo. Debbie returning to her favourite place between them both as they spotted baby pigmy hippopotamus, madrills and various tree top apes and monkeys before heading to the butterfly house.

“I used to love coming here.” Allie offered as they entered. “Did you know this was the first butterfly house to be built in the Southern Hemisphere? Never thought I'd ever come here again.”

Walking into the magnificent tropical glasshouse they were instantly immersed and surrounded by lush vegetation. The natural habitat of the tropical and subtropical butterflies that were housed there. Debbie loved the butterflies landing on her as they walked around. Debbie became a little more intrigued and skipped off a little way in front of them. Following the butterflies as they danced in the air in a whirl of colour. Watching them swim higher into the air, letting it eddy beneath their wings, curling in the sweetest of swirls. She'd stop and watch them pass despite their erratic paths. Glance back over her shoulder at her mum and Allie before skipping off again following them as they chose their direction by a silent serenade of the flowers.

“I never got bored when my dad brought me here, it always seemed like a new experience.”

“You still miss him.” Bea lowered her voice not wanting anyone to overhear them as she wrapped her arm around Allies shoulder and gently pulled her closer. “We could try to find him…I know Fletch knows someone who's great at tracing missing people.”

“He's probably forgotten about me. Moved on with his life, got a new family.” Allie wiped away the tears that had formed in her eyes.

“I don't believe that for a second. How could he ever forget someone as special as you? Franky…” Bea hesitated while she decided if she really should continue. “Franky apart from being a flirt was so angry when I first met her. I won't go into details but she waited for her dad to come home and rescue her every night. She won't ever admit it but I know she still misses him.”

“He'd hate me if he knew what I'd done.”

“How could he? It was never your fault. I don't believe he left you because he wanted to, it sounds like he had no other choice. If you don't ever have the chance to ask him you'll never know.”

“I guess, I'll think about it.”

It took a while to persuade Debbie to leave the butterfly house. Not that it was any surprise to either of them, it was quite a marvellous place with hundreds of butterflies flying around. After finally exiting they spotted the path to the elephants. Arriving just in time to watch the elephant keepers trying to move one of the males from one paddock to another.

“Looks like you can't make an elephant move if they really don't want to.” Allie laughed.

“Yeah, reminds me of trying to get Deb out of bed earlier.”

“Mummy!” Debbie spun around. “You didn't tell me we were coming to the zoo.” She said seriously.

“Would that have made a difference?” Bea laughed knowing that given the early hour it most probably wouldn't have.

They had time to fit in the third experience that Allie had paid for before lunch. This time they found their way to the squirrel monkeys where they were going to meet two of the males, Cruz and Bart. Before they were allowed to enter they had disinfect their hands and put on a special gown. They were told to refrain from making eye contact with them as it would be seen as an act of aggression. Debbie was a little hesitant at first until she watched them jumping all over Allie. Squirrel monkeys as they all found out are very inquisitive. The most surprising thing that they found out, even though it was turning into a warm day, their tiny hands and feet were cold.

“Can we eat now?” Debbie asked as they were walking out of the enclosure.

They sat outside the lakeside bistro next to the Japanese garden enjoying their lunch. Debbie talking ten to the dozen about everything they had already seen and done that day. Bea ate her mediterranean salad and watched Allie who was listening intently to Debbie's excited chatter. Bea couldn't stop smiling even if she tried as she watched them together. Debbie was always cautious around anyone new. She remembered her clinging to her the first time she'd met Doreen at the salon. No matter how much she'd tried to get her to speak to her nothing had worked. Debbie had clung to Bea even tighter and buried her head in Beas neck. Even now she would rarely speak to her so she had been surprised when she'd never shied away from Allie. Allie always worried that she didn't know what to do around kids but watching them together Bea knew she was wrong.

Lunch gave Debbie even more energy than she appeared to have already, her first request being that they visit the zoos aquarium. The fish in the aquarium were everything Debbie had hoped they would be as she moved from tank to tank. She'd stop for a few minutes at one tank before she'd run back to another when something caught her eye. Beas hand slipped into Allies as they stood back a little watching her. Debbie was so happy and that was something Bea would always be thankful for. Being here with Allie just made everything seem even more perfect. She couldn't deny that she was still a little fearful that Allie would realise there was so much more she could be doing. That being with someone who had the responsibility of raising a daughter wasn't something she needed or wanted.

“You're doing it again.” Allie whispered after studying Bea for a few moments.

“Doing what?” Bea asked clearly a little confused.

“Overthinking. I know what's going on in that head of yours and you're wrong. I'm here with you both because there's nowhere else I'd rather be in the world. Nothing is going to make me change my mind.”

Bea was just about to respond when Debbie appeared right in front of them.

“That's my job.” She said her eyes on their joined hands.

Bea couldn't think of a thing to say, Allie naturally appeared to know exactly how to respond.

“We hold your hands so we don't lose you. You wouldn't want us to lose each other while you're watching the fish would you?”

Debbie looked thoughtful for a few seconds before replying with a simple no. Prising their hands apart Debbie seemed quite happy with the answer Allie had given her as they set off for the lion enclosure. The new lion enclosure provided them with a large viewing area and they spent another thirty minutes watching them.

Their final stop of the day was inside the carousel park. The zoo was hosting the Dino park and Debbie couldn't wait to get close to a dinosaur. As they entered they had to go through the quarantine zone. A small area with curtains which was dark and featured smoke and strobe effects. Once back outside in the park Debbie was fascinated by the roving dinosaurs. Thrilled about having the opportunity see and touch them up close. Even if her jaw did drop and she wore a gawping expression some of the time.

Before leaving Debbie insisted on riding the carousel. An old English built carousel that had originally been built for a travelling carnival. Allie remembered riding on it every time her dad had brought her here and couldn't say no to Debbie.

“You spoil her.”

“With a ride on the carousel? Can you really tell me that you can't think of anything cooler than sitting on that horse and letting yourself get lost in a galaxy of lights and music?”

 

 

 

Almost as soon as they arrived back at the car Debbie announced loudly that she was starving. Bea groaned knowing that it would soon be time for dinner. They had been on their feet all day and Allie guessed that if she was tired Bea would be too. Asking Debbie where she wanted to go to eat caused a slight protest from Bea but it was obvious that Allie wasn't going to change her mind. No amount of telling her that she was quite capable of feeding them after their day out made her budge an inch. Having dinner at the diner wasn't exactly what Allie had had in mind for the end of their day so maybe allowing Debbie to choose hadn't been the best plan. A hungry Debbie insisting that she just have to have a burger or she'd waste away though made her choice seem a reasonable one.

By the time they finally arrived home Debbie was already asleep in the back seat.

“Guess I should be going.” Allie said quietly as she walked up the drive beside Bea, a soundly sleeping Debbie in her arms.

“Don't go yet, I just need to put this one to bed.”

“You aren't sick of me yet? I mean I was here for over a week and I've been with you all day.”

“I could never get sick of you. Besides I know Liz is out you really want me to sit around all night by myself?”

Allie found she couldn't argue with her logic, plus she'd rather not be back in her apartment alone. Bea carried Debbie up to bed leaving Allie to sit on the sofa thinking about their earlier conversation. It may have been brief but any conversation about her dad still hurt and the thought of finding him and him rejecting her now was terrifying.

When Bea found her way back to the living room ten minutes later she found Allie still lost in thought.

“What's wrong?”

“Sorry, it's just…thinking about my dad. If I did find him and he turned his back on me again.”

“It was only a suggestion, forget about it. But if you ever do I'll be right here. The guy Fletch knows really is good though. And…well I'll just shut up about it.”

“I can't really blame him…I found a whole bunch of letters mum had hidden away one night when she left me alone. I don't think he really had a choice. I just, I thought he might have tried a little harder. Thought maybe one day he'd come back but he never did. I believed mum in the end, when she told me he didn't want me, didn't love me anymore.”

Bea reached out, wrapping her arms around her and pulling her into a gentle hug. “It's easy to get caught up in all that, blame yourself for what you had no control over. I don't think he left you because he wanted to but we don't have to talk about it.”

Allie remained silent wrapped in an embrace that she felt could quite possible stop the world on its axis. In Beas arms there was no time, no other people and nothing to worry about. Allies mind felt completely at peace.

When Liz returned two hours later she found them still wrapped up in each other's arms in front of the tv.

“I'll see you both in the morning.” She smiled before disappearing up the stairs.

“Are you staying?” Bea mumbled hoping that the answer wasn't going to be one she didn't like.

“You want me to?”

“I don't think you really need me to answer that. Besides you didn't actually take anything much back with you.”

“You got me, I only took what I really needed…wouldn't be good to show up to work minus the scrubs.” Allie grinned.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Bea knew she hadn't slept properly since Monday night, glancing at the time confirmed it. On Tuesday night she'd struggled to fall asleep, tossing and turning and then woken up wide awake a little after 4am. That pattern had repeated until now, a little after 7am on Sunday morning. She knew with all certainty that the woman now sleeping soundly cuddled up next to her was the reason for it. Bea had never enjoyed sharing a bed with anyone, with Harry she'd always stayed as far away from him as possible. The odd few times she'd woken up with Franky draped across her were just uncomfortable. Sharing a bed with Allie felt right, felt safe. She loved how even when they'd fallen asleep on opposite sides of the bed they radiated towards each other while they slept. Loved how they'd wake up still entangled in each other's arms when they'd fallen asleep like that. Glancing at the time again she didn't expect Allie to wake up any time soon. It was Sunday morning so didn't expect anyone else to be up and about soon either. Not wanting to disturb Allie she lay still watching her peacefully sleeping. It was too good an opportunity to pass up. She studied her face, the smile that never appeared to ever leave her lips, the way her nose would twitch slightly. Getting lost in everything that was Allie Novak she absentmindedly ran her fingers softly up and down her back. She didn't notice when Allie woke up, the smile that grew wider or the way she was looking back at her until she spoke.

Falling asleep in the darkness with Beas arms around her Allie could only liken the feeling to a little touch of heaven. She always wished from the first night it happened that she could extend the night, maybe even freeze time. Anything so that she could stay closer to her for longer, safe in her arms. Her arms wrapped around her brought her a peace she had never known existed, they calmed the storms that raged in her head. Wrapped tightly in Beas strong arms she could believe that there was nothing out there to fear. Going back to her apartment, being alone and feeling vulnerable had been the thing she'd dreaded. Since laying in her bed alone on Tuesday night she'd thought of nothing else. Bea was her light in the darkness, her lone star in an otherwise empty sky. Nothing could ever compare to waking up like this, even though she was already awake and seemed miles away. This feeling was perfect, although the feel of Beas fingers softly trailing up and down her back was enough to let her mind wander to not so safe places in her head.

“Good morning beautiful.”

“Hmmmm, it is a good morning.”

“Have I ever told you how much I love waking up with you like this?”

“Once or twice.” Bea laughed lightly as she stilled her hand allowing it to rest in the perfect curve of Allies back. “I just happens that I love waking up with you to. I mean you do steal all the covers during the night but I can learn to deal with that.” She said jokingly.

“Yeah? Well it's got to be better than your horrendous snoring.”

“Hey I do not snore.”

“No? Don't believe me? Maybe we should ask Franky?”

Bea loved the playful side of Allie, it amazed her that she always seemed to wake up in a good mood. Not that she woke up in a bad mood when Allie was there, the thought of it seemed impossible. It seemed impossible to be anything but happy whenever Allie was there. Neither of them had any intention of leaving the comfort of Beas bed as they lay talking about nothing of great importance. A while later they had both moved, Allie laying on her back with Beas head resting on her chest as she intermittently trailed her fingers up and down her arm.

“Is there anything you want to do today?” Allie asked hoping that she had something in mind to keep her from having to go back to her apartment.

“No idea.” Bea paused as she thought for a few moments. “Could just stay here all day, can't think of anything better than that.”

“Hmmmm.” Allie hummed, secretly wishing that maybe one day they'd get a chance to stay in bed all day with no interruptions.

Allie lifted her head from her pillow and placed a kiss on the top of Beas head.

Bea knew it was a fanciful idea at least today. It would never be out of all realms of possibility. There would more than likely be a another weekend when Franky would ask if Debbie could stay over for the weekend. Not that she'd ever for a second want to get Debbie out of the way, neither would Allie that was always obvious.

“We could stay here until Debbie wakes up.” Allie said softly still hoping that spending the rest of the day together wasn't going to be impossible.

“Yeah.” Bea breathed as she allowed her hand to travel from Allies arm across her shirt covered stomach. A sudden rush of confidence hitting her as she trailed her hand lower down her stomach and under her shirt tracing soft patterns across her skin.

Allie hadn't expected it and she gasped a little louder than she had intended as she felt Beas fingers against her skin. Bea hesitated for a moment before changing the position she was laying in. Pushing Allies shirt up she moved lower to place delicate kisses over her stomach.

“Bea.” Allie whispered as she moved again so she was now straddling her.

Trailing her fingers up Allies rib cage she hesitating slightly before she traced her thumbs over the edge of her breasts. Hearing Allie gasp again ignited a fire deep within her and she wanted more. Grabbing the hem of Allies shirt she pulled it higher before pulling it completely off. Long before it registered in her head and she could protest Allie had flipped them over. Leaning over she kissed her way up her neck and along her jaw before placing gentle kisses against her lips. Pulling back she searched Beas eyes, the memory of what she'd told her running free in her head. Seeing nothing but her own desire reflecting back at her she burst out laughing a few seconds later. Debbie announced loudly from the other side of the door that she was starving.

“I'm sorry babe.” Allie laughed as she buried her head in Beas neck. “I know it's not funny.”

“So not funny.” Bea grumbled as she felt Allie start to pull away from her. Wrapping her arms tightly around her Bea had no intention of leaving the comfort of her bed or Allies warm body just yet.

“Go and see if Gma Liz is awake yet.” Bea called out to Debbie who they both heard shuffling off back down the hall and knocking on Liz's door.

“Sorry.” Bea mumbled still in no hurry to move.

“Don't be, it was bound to happen.” Allie responded before placing a soft kiss on her lips.

Stealing one last kiss Allie retreated to her side of the bed.

“Can't think why Debs awake so early.” Bea sighed before very reluctantly dragging herself out of bed.

 

 

 

“I need to go into the salon to help Maxine out with the stock.” Liz announced as soon as Bea walked into the kitchen.

“Can I come with you?” Debbie asked straight away before Bea had a chance to say anything.

“Deb wouldn't you rather go to the park or something?”

“No.” Debbie huffed and rested her elbows on the table. “I want to go with Gma Liz.”

“It's fine with me and I know Maxine would love having her around.” Liz looked at Bea. “Takes her mind off things.” She smiled.

“Fine, but no giving Maxine a hard time.” Bea looked seriously at her daughter.

“Would I?” Debbie grinned.

“And do everything Gma Liz tells you to.”

“Don't I always?”

“We'll be fine love. Now, is Allie joining us for breakfast?”

“She's in the shower.” Bea clarified. “Probably won't be down anytime soon.”

Debbie and Liz left before Allie made an appearance giving Bea time to think of something they could do with the time they had to themselves. Quickly getting everything she needed ready and hidden away in her car she made it back to the kitchen and her coffee before Allie appeared. As soon as Allie walked into the kitchen for few moments Bea was speechless. She knew Allie was beautiful even if she did find it difficult to verbalise. She was dressed so casually in jeans and white shirt with no make up, Bea was sure she'd never seen her look more stunning.

“Where did everyone go?” Allie asked as she looked around the kitchen. Certain she'd heard both Liz and Debbie twenty or so minutes ago.

When Bea didn't answer she started to worry. ‘Shit I knew I shouldn't have worn this.’ She thought as Bea continued to stare at her.

“I'll get changed, you hate this.” Allie said quickly as she turned to leave the kitchen.

Bea caught her by the hand, stopping her from walking away. “You look beautiful Allie.” Bea gently pulled Allie closer, wrapping both her arms around her. “Sorry, I never say it. To answer your question Debbie has gone with Liz to the salon.”

“Just us then?”

“Yeah, so you ready to get out of here?”

 

 

 

“So where are we actually going?” Allie asked after Bea had been driving for ten minutes.

“Oh ya know, just out.” Bea answered with a grin.

“Well I can see that, where is just out exactly?”

“You'll find out when we get there, you're so impatient.”

Allie rolled her eyes, wondering if this really was a spur of the moment thing. “Fine, can you at least tell me how long before we get there?”

Bea looked thoughtful for a moment. “In about another forty minutes or so…any more questions?”

Allie shook her head, she wasn't going to complain about them having time to themselves.

Finally arriving at their destination Bea removed everything she'd packed in her car telling Allie to follow her.

“Bea Smith! A secluded beach?” Allie said in amusement.

“Yeah, it's always dead at this time of year. I guess I thought we could just spend some time together. I bring Debbie here a lot when I have the time. We can go someplace else if you don't like it here.”

Allie scanned the stunning sweep of white sandy beach that had panoramic views out across the bay. “It's perfect, just like you. What's not to love? I mean I get to have you all to myself. Maybe we could continue where we left off earlier.” Allie winked.

“Allie, I…” Bea groaned.

“I'm only joking.”

“Yeah?” Bea still wasn't sure what had come over her earlier the only thing she was still certain of was the more time they spent together the more she wanted. Every time she woke up wrapped up in all things Allie the harder it was to let her go. “I bought everything for a picnic…I mean we don't have to if you'd rather not.” Another thing she was still certain of was that she still had no idea what the hell she was doing half the time.

“A picnic on the beach? Here I was thinking that you were just a hard ass cop. Turns out you're just a hopeless sappy romantic at heart.” Allie grinned.

“I wouldn't go that far.” Bea laughed. “It's just that there's this absolutely amazing blonde haired, blue eyed nurse that I just don't seem to be able to stay away from or stop thinking about.”

“Is that right? Got competition have I?”

They walked a little way up the beach until they got to a spot Bea knew well by some rocks. Setting everything down they spread out the blanket and sat side by side for a while until Bea pulled the contents of the picnic basket out.

“How long ago did you plan all this?” Allie asked, she found it hard to believe that anyone could pull something like this together in a few minutes.

“I didn't plan it.” Bea answered honestly. “Deb wanted to go with Liz, when that girl gets a bee in her bonnet nothing will change her mind.”

“Sounds a lot like her mum if I'm not mistaken.”

Allie couldn't say that she wasn't enjoying their impromptu picnic. No one had ever done anything like that for her ever. Even if it had been rushed it seemed to her that Bea had put a lot of thought into it in the little time she'd had. And for someone who was always telling her that she had no idea how she was meant to act she always seemed to get everything right. Glancing at Bea, who by now was laying on her side resting on one elbow, she couldn't imagine them not being together. She was so afraid of telling her everything and she'd amazed her when she'd taken it all in her stride. Hearing about Harry had broken Allies heart but she was sure that if nothing else the experience had only made Bea stronger. They had both been broken by their past lives and maybe it was that that made them perfect for each other. Whatever it was she would never call their meeting fate. That was something she still found impossible to believe in. How could fate allow a child to be brought up as nothing more than a twisted parents punching bag? How could fate allow such an extremely kind and generous woman to be beaten within an inch of her life? If anyone were to ask her Allie would say it wasn't fate, that is something you make by making the right decisions, it was chance that had brought them together.

“I don't ever want to lose you.” Allie finally said out loud. “I have no idea what I'd do without you, without either of you. Debs just as important to me as you are. And I know we haven't known each other all that long, and we probably don't even know each other all that well.” She paused trying to find the right way to say what was on her mind. “You constantly tell me that you have no idea how you're meant to act, simple truth is neither do I. I've never let myself get attached to another person like this because until now I knew they'd just throw me away when they knew the real me. You're so different, I told you everything and you let it go. Maybe you think I'm crazy from feeling like this. All I care about is you, about you being happy, about the three of us being happy. I've never had what you give me and I'll do everything to make sure this lasts.”

Bea studied Allie for a short time, seeing nothing but sincerity in her eyes.

“And ya call me sappy.” Bea laughed. “Hey, I'm joking. I feel exactly the same and you have no idea how hard that is for me to admit. Debbie, she thinks the world of you. Honestly I never thought for one moment that she would get so comfortable around you so soon. Maybe you're right we don't know each other that well but I'm not going anywhere. I never imagined I'd ever meet anyone ever again. Keeping other people at arms length had become second nature to me. Then there you were, and you saw me at my worst that night. It took everyone to point out to me how I was feeling because I tried to ignore it. Not because of you, I was scared. Somewhere in my fucked up head I guess I just thought everyone would be like him. The only thing that scares me now is the thought of you leaving, deciding that you don't want to be a part of this.”

“That's never going to happen.” Allie whispered as she moved to sit closer.

They stayed at the beach for around another hour talking and laughing.

“We should get going, it's turning a little cooler.”

Allie agreed. After helping Bea pack everything away the walked back hand in hand to the car.

 

 

 

They'd been back at the house for twenty minutes when Liz called, letting Bea know that they would be back a little later than expected because they were having dinner with Maxine. Bea wasn't going to argue if it meant they had a little extra time alone.

A short time later they were both laying on the sofa, Allies back pressed against Beas front. They had intended to watch a movie but neither of them were paying any attention to what was playing out on the screen.

“What are you thinking about?” Allie asked as she moved again.

“Nothing much.” Bea answered as she tried to ignore every small movement Allie made. She was sure she was doing it on purpose.

Allie looked over her shoulder and smiled. “You sure about that babe?”

“You're such a fucking tease you know that right?” Bea answered, her voice a little lower than normal.

“Me? What did I do?” Allie giggled.

“You know exactly what you're doing.” Bea said as she pulled herself up a little so she was looking down at Allie. She brushed Allies hair away from her neck before leaning down and kissing down her neck. Allie closed her eyes as she felt Beas fingers trailing across her stomach.

“Bea…” Allie whispered.

“Hmmmm.”

“Let me get up.”

Bea didn't answer just pulled away allowing Allie to stand up. Her usual insecurities took hold for a few seconds before she realised that Allie was holding out her hand.

“As much I hate to stop you, and honestly I do.” She looked around the room. “I don't think the middle of Liz's living room is best place to get carried away.”

Bea took the offered hand allowing Allie to pull her up from the sofa and lead her upstairs. She'd refuse Allie nothing she knew that, and it wasn't as if this hadn't been on her mind since that morning. The actual thought of them going any further than they had when they were interrupted by Debbie was both scaring and exciting her at the same time.

As soon as the made it through the bedroom door Bea spun Allie around. Grabbing the front of Allie shirt she pulled her closer, crashing their lips together in a very heated kiss. Allie moaned loudly as she felt herself being guided backwards before her back hit the wall. This was the confident side of Bea that she loved, the side she wished was always there for everyone to see.

“Bea, the door.” Allie said breathlessly. “Just in case.” She added.

Moving them away from the wall without letting go of Allie Bea kicked the door shut. Beas hands roamed freely across Allies back before she ran them down her sides. Coming to a stop at the hem of her shirt she tugged it up and off before dropping it to the floor. Reconnecting their lips she quickly found the button of her jeans making short work of it before working on the zipper. Hooking her fingers in the waistband she slid them down her legs just enough for Allie to wriggle out of them, kicking them away to wherever they landed.

Allie worked a hand between them running her fingers slowly across Beas stomach and up across her chest before slowly undoing the buttons of her shirt. Tugging it out of her jeans she slid it off her shoulders dropping it on the floor. Bea pulled away slightly as she felt her jeans being unbuttoned and tugged down her legs. Allie hesitated, locking eyes with her seeing nothing but desire looking back at her.

Bea felt like her whole body was on fire, she'd never experienced anything like it and as nervous as she felt she wasn't going to stop. Wrapping her arms around Allie again she turned them around and slowly guided her back towards the bed.

Allie had never felt anything like this before, not that she was surprised. A drug fuelled haze wasn't exactly conducive to creating clear thoughts or memories. Even so she was sure if she could remember any previous encounters with an ex nothing would compare to the feelings Bea evoked in her. She knew for certain that she'd never felt like this towards another person before. Never loved anyone the way she loved Bea, she just wouldn't say it for fear of scaring her off. Feeling the back of her legs hit the bed she instinctively sat down, slipping out of Beas arms and pulling herself further up the bed.

“Come here.” Allie said barely above a whisper.

Bea swallowed down the lump that had formed in her throat before doing as she was told, crawling up the bed and laying down beside Allie. Turning over to face her Allie placed a soft kiss on her lips.

“Hi there beautiful.” Allie whispered as she pulled back a little.

“Hi yourself.” Bea said nervously.

“We don't have to go any further. I'm quite happy to just lay here with you if that's all you want. Being here with you like this is more than I could ever have hoped for.”

“Really? If…if I can't…” Bea trailed off.

“Relax, we don't have to do anything you aren't ready for. I mean it, I care too much about you. I'd never do anything you don't want or aren't ready for. We have all the time in the world.”

Bea crashed their lips together again. She didn't think anyone like Allie could exist. No one had ever considered what she might or might not want. All Harry had ever done was take what he wanted without ever considering her feelings. Allie just wanted to be with her no expectations, no pressure and that just made her want this even more.

“I want to.” Bea admitted after being silent for a few minutes. “But I don't know how…”

“It's okay.” Allie whispered as she trailed her fingers down her arm.

Gently pushing Bea onto her back Allie hovered over her searching her face for any hint of uncertainty. Finding none she leaned in kissing down her neck and across her collar bone before pulling back and reaching behind her to unclip her bra. Slowly sliding the straps off her shoulders and quickly discarding it before kissing her lips softly. Pulling back again she looked into her eyes.

“If you want me to stop just say so.” Allie smiled affectionately at her. “I'll never hurt you.”

“I know, I trust you.” Beas voice was barely audible.

Kissing her way from her neck and down her chest Allie gently sucked Beas right nipple into her mouth while grazing her thumb over the left making her raise her chest to meet her touch. Changing her position Allie trailed soft kisses down her stomach while trailing her fingers down her sides, stopping when she reached her underwear.

“Can I take these off?” Allie asked softly as she looked up receiving a nod as a response.

Gently sliding them down her legs, her fingers trailing softly over her skin, they were soon added to the discarded items of clothing that littered the bedroom floor. Placing a soft kiss to the inside of her ankle she trailed soft kisses back up the entire length of her body making sure to hold Beas gaze the whole time. Allie loved the way she smiled, so gentle and understated. Their body heat combined just like their emotions, as if they were painted in the air surrounding them. All the love Allie had for her flowed through her skin making even the slightest contact explosive beyond reason. But it was something that was always there. It was in everything they did, in every word they spoke, it existed even when they were silent.

Beas body felt like it was on fire, every kiss, every touch no matter how slight calmed the storm that had raged in her head for so long. “Allie please.” Bea whimpered. “I need you to touch me.”

“You'll tell me if you want me to stop?”

Bea nodded, no longer trusting her voice.

Trailing her hand down her stomach she wanted to take her time, afraid if she didn't Bea would get spooked and allow her thoughts to take her back to a place she'd never be again. Running her fingers through her folds she slowly circled her clit before dipping her fingers lower.

“Oh fuck.” Bea moaned as felt her slowly enter her.

Allie stilled her movements giving Bea time to get used to the feeling. Feeling her relax she slowly moved her fingers in and out, gradually increasing the speed of her movements as she felt Beas body respond naturally.

Bea tangled her fingers in Allies hair. She couldn't describe the sensations that were running through her whole body. The only thing she could be certain of was that she had never felt anything like it before. As Allie increased her pace she circled her clit with her thumb, a low moan escaping Beas mouth as she curled her fingers. Slowing her movements she wanted to make it last as long as she could. Somewhere in back of her mind she still had the fear that Bea would tell her that she didn't want this, didn't want her. As a whimper escaped Beas mouth she increased the speed of her movements again.

“Oh, fuck…Allie…” Bea growled.

“I've got you babe, let go for me.”

As Allie curled her fingers and pressed her thumb firmly on her clit Bea crashed over the edge. It was the most intense feeling Bea had ever experienced as it ripped through her body. She heard Franky tell her this was best feeling in the word and she'd always told her she was full of shit. Allie slowed her movements before stilling them completely and removing her fingers slowly. Moving to lay beside Bea again as she turned onto her side to face her.

“Are you okay?” Allie asked.

Bea smiled. “I'm more than okay beautiful girl.”

Allie pulled her closer kissing her profoundly as they both moaned into the kiss. They lay together, holding each other so close that no space could possibly exist between them. Kissing Allie gently their peace and quiet was suddenly disturbed by a loud banging on the door. Breaking apart Bea groaned.

“Ignore it, who ever it is will go away.”

Bea went back to kissing Allie again, trailing her fingers down her arm when the banging on the door stated again.

“Whoever it is doesn't sound like their going to go away anytime soon babe.”

“I don't care, they can fuck off.” Bea said clearly frustrated by the interruption.

“Told you we have all the time in the world.”

“Except in reality we don't.” Bea grumbled.

Allie giggled, watching Bea become increasingly more frustrated by the sudden intrusion was pretty amusing.

Grabbing the back of Allies neck Bea pulled her in for another kiss when the shouting started.

“Fucks sake Red I know ya in there. Put blondie down and open the fucking door.” Franky shouted as she banged on the door.

“Do you want to get that or should I?” Allie laughed.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Bea reluctantly left Allies arms and quickly got dressed. If this wasn't a life or death situation then Franky had better be prepared for getting knocked flat on her ass. Running down the stairs it was obvious that Franky wasn't giving up as she banged on the door again.

“Alright already I fucking heard you!” Bea shouted.

Yanking the door open a very dejected looking Franky stood before her. Her shoulders were slumped and her eyes cast down in a mournful gaze.

“Had an argument with Bridget?” Bea asked expecting some kind of reply but Franky just stands there. “You stand out here hammering on the fucking door and shouting your head off and now you've lost your voice is that it?” Bea asks more annoyed than ever.

Franky shrugged. “Sorry…just, just need to talk. Nothing to do with Gidge.”

“Better come in then…but I warn you now there better be a really good explanation for whatever brought you over here.”

Bea stepped aside as Franky looked at her. The lack of her usual smirk made her look as if every muscle of her face had gone on strike. Everything about it was slack and gave her the look of someone who would spurn even her most meaningful conversation right now. Her shoulders drooped even lower as she walked into the living room. She fell onto the sofa like a sack of potatoes and stared at the coffee table in front of her. This melancholy version of Franky wasn't something Bea had expected to see but it was something she'd witnessed before.

“Blondie not here?” Franky asked without looking up.

“Yeah, she…she's upstairs. Franky…if it's not something with Bridget what is it?” Her anger vanished in seconds giving way to concern. Bea had never once seen Franky look this dejected before, it was usually the other way around.

Franky reached inside her jacket pocket pulling out a creased envelope and held it for Bea to take from her.

“Read it.”

“Franky I…”

“Just read it!” Franky insisted.

Bea took the envelope from her, not sure how a letter could have effected her so much. Looking closely at it it was obvious that it had been hand delivered. The only thing written on it was her name. Carefully extracting the sheet of paper that it contained she unfolded it and read its contents. Bea soon understood the reason for Franky’s uncharacteristic mood. The wound Franky had carried with her for so long had begun to fester again and Bea understood why after reading the obviously hurriedly scrawled note from her dad. This time her pain and anger, something Bea knew usually lingered in the shadows, was about to grow again into her faithful companion. Placing it back in the envelope Bea attempted to pass it back to Franky who pushed her hand away.

“You aren't going to call him? Don't want to hear what he has to say?”

“Why the fuck should I?” Franky spat. “Ya know the whole story. Why the fuck would I want to hear anythin he's got to say? Ya think it even matters? I was just insignificant to him or an inconvenience. Sure he's pulled this shit before but…but that was before I knew what happy really felt like.” She shook her head slowly. “He could walk past me tomorrow in the street and say hello and I wouldn't even know it was him. An ya know what, even if I did I wouldn't even acknowledge his existence. I don't know him and he doesn't know me. Thought when I moved he'd give up. Haven't heard from him in a few months, thought he'd taken the hint.”

“He knows where you live now obviously. Maybe he has something important to tell you.”

“Yeah well unless he's dying I don't wanna know…Na scrap that I couldn't give a fuck, he can rot.”

Watching Franky slump further into the sofa Bea could see the anger in her eyes was more a reflection of the scared little girl within. The girl who had learnt to fight and who'd been starved of the love she craved. Her pain was right there for anyone to see. She'd long ago carved out a persona that she thought fit the world of indifference that had surrounded her. Bea didn't even know how she could help her, not unless she really let her feelings out and let her unshed tears fall. From past experience she knew that was the only time Franky would ever realise what was really going on in her own head. She'd fight it, the emotions, the tears and it would take a toll on her. The best Bea could offer her right now was just to be there to listen. Let her shadow box against the darkness she saw surrounding her until she remembered that sunlight still existed. They sat in silence for a few minutes before Franky spoke again.

“Sorry Red, didn't mean to lay into ya.” She said with the sulky tone of a querulous child.

“For the record you didn't. I've heard it all before anyway.”

“Yeah, yeah, still should have thought about what I was sayin. Soooo…ya took ya time openin the door, an blondies upstairs aye?” Franky grinned. “If I take myself up to ya room she still gonna be wrapped up in ya sheets waitin for ya?”

‘Fuck, why the hell did I tell her that?’ Bea thought to herself trying to think of any other reason she could use for why she hadn't put in an appearance yet. “I was gonna ask you if you wanted a coffee but now you can just go fuck yourself.” Bea stalled knowing that she wouldn't let it go.

“Coffee would be great while ya fill me in on the details.” Franky's recent somber mood seemed now to be a distant memory. “Come on spill.”

“Franky….” Bea warned as she got up from the sofa, actually making coffee wouldn't get her to drop it. At least she wouldn't have to sit next to her or even look at her.

“Well fuck Red.” Franky followed her through to the kitchen. “Never though ya had it in ya. It was great right? Did she scream ya name? She did didn't she? Come on Red give me something.”

Bea gripped the edge of the counter and dropped her head as she groaned.

“Oh come on.”

“I'm not telling you shit Franky.”

“Why not? I tell ya everythin…well almost…” Franky wore an even more devilish grin.

“I didn't do anything…happy now?”

“Seriously? Red what the fuck…ya…”

“Did no one ever tell you it's rude to interrupt?” Allie asked as she entered the kitchen. “And you were kinda hard to ignore, what were ya using a sledge hammer perhaps?” She continued as she crossed the kitchen stopping behind Bea. Wrapping her arms round her waist and resting her chin on her shoulder. “Ignore her babe.” She whispered.

“Yeah well…I..I…”

“Need to learn some manners? Figure out if no one answers the first time they may not want to? Or do ya just need to learn when not to push your luck?” Allie quizzed.

“Okay, okay I'm sorry. Jesus blondie, if I'd thought that ya’d been gettin ya fuck on…”

“Can we just drop this now?” Bea groaned.

“Ya know wheneva ya get sick of Red I'll show ya a good time.”

Allie laughed and shook her head.

“Sure why not, I'll let Bridget know and pencil you into my diary for the twelfth of never.”

Franky laughed so hard she had tears in her eyes as Bea frowned at her.

“Oh come on Red ya gotta admit she's a fuckin keeper.”

“And you're a asshole Doyle.” Bea threw back.

“Yeah, yeah…thanks for listening to me yeah? I'll leave ya to it, let ya get back to the bedroom.”

 

 

 

Arriving at the station the next morning Bea was pleased to see Fletch was back.

“Stuck behind a desk but that suits me. Heard ya did well when ya brought Bates in.”

“Not hard when you bother to do some extra background work.”

Franky was late arriving at the station after finding another note. Maybe he'd take the hint if she ignored him for long enough. It wouldn't be good if she came face to face with him she knew that. The one and only time she'd ran into her mum was right before she went to the AFP college. She'd had some nerve, pulling her up in the street and giving her the same verbal assault as she always had. She hadn't kept her cool then and she knew she wouldn't if she came face to face with her dad.

Bea sat at her desk, glancing over in Fletch’s direction as she made a start on a report she'd been putting off. Hearing her phone brought a smile to her face as she quickly answered it.

“What are the chances of us having dinner together tonight?”

“Depends, where were you thinking?”

“Thought I'd leave that up to you.”

“You could come over after work, have dinner with us…wait hold on aren't you at work?”

“Nope, not until ten. Are you sure Liz wouldn't mind?”

“Why would she? You can help me with something if you do.”

“Sounds interesting, count me in.”

“Allie, shit sorry gotta go, come over when…wait what time do you finish?”

“Six, I'll see you later then.”

“Calm down Doyle.” Will sounded frustrated.

“Na, need to see Red…the fuckers in the station.”

“Franky?” Bea looked confused. “It's fine Will whatever it is I'll sort it out.”

Fletch eyed her weirdly as she walked into the office while everyone else just stared at her.

“He's here, at the front desk. Fuckin asked for me.”

“I think you should see him Franky.”

“Not happenin. Na, no way.” Franky ran her fingers through her hair. “How can I see him? Why should I? He left me remember?”

Fletch got up from his desk. “Beas right…can I make a suggestion?”

Franky nodded knowing that if they ganged up on her she'd lose anyway. “I take it this is about your dad again. I'll have him taken to an interview room, you don't have to see him alone. Just do it Franky then he'll leave you alone, if he's here it's obvious he's not going to give up.”

“Fine.” Franky huffed.

Bea turned to look at Franky as they reached the interview room.

“You can do this.”

Franky looked back at her with eyes that are every hue of the forest, rimmed coolly with moss. Her temper, Bea knew well was a slowly filling glass. There was no outward sign of the fury she was holding in yet. In a few short seconds of time all bets might be off.

“You're coming in with me?” Franky sounded more broken than Bea ever remembered since they'd first met.

Bea placed her hands on her shoulders. “We're both here Franky, we aren't leaving you?”

Fletch nodded in agreement, he'd witnessed Franky have a melt down over her dad before. This time though he knew there was every chance she may well throw a punch or two.

Franky walked into the interview room that the desk sargent had had him moved to closely followed by Bea and Fletch. Alan looked up, it was really her. She looked different than how he'd expected her to, maybe that was just the uniform. It wasn't just her cool green eyes it was the intelligence he saw behind them that intimidated him more than a little. He gave her a weak smile as she continued to stare at him in the same way a damned soul in purgatory might stare at the devil himself.

“Thanks for seeing me…” He paused. “Why are we in an interview room? Couldn't we have met somewhere else? Talked like normal people?”

“Cos these two think I might kill ya.” Franky spat as she glared at him, watching him visibly wilt.

“You're not a killer.”

“Listen, the only reason I'm here is so I can look ya in the eye and tell ya to stay the fuck away from me.” Franky bunched her hands up into fists trying to calm the anger that was building in her chest.

“Well that's not gonna happen…Did you read my notes?”

Franky scoffed. Let the negative emotions swallow her and pour acid on her soul. She fought the few good memories she still had, the reasons she should be kind and hear him out without protest. He didn't deserve her kindness, would never receive her forgiveness.

“Don't blame you for that, it's only words on a bit of paper. Theses things have to be said face to face.” Alan scanned the faces of Bea and Fletch before continuing. “I wasn't ready to be a dad. Me and your mum we were just no good.” He shook his head, the painful memories still not seeming like distant nightmares. “It's no excuse I know…it's no excuse but I, I walked because I couldn't be there. Is that what you want to hear?”

“That's shit!” Franky shot him a lethal stare that felt painful and piercing. As if her glare were tearing his heart apart with a blinding light.

“That's the way it was, I didn't come here to try and justify it.”

“Huh!” Franky shot him a look of disdain. “Well as long as you feel better…we good now?” Franky wanted to escape, to run away exactly like he had except she knew it would do her no good.

“I watched you grow up…from a distance. Was there when you graduated. I've kept an eye on you, I know you're no angel and I know it's because of me.”

“Ya know do ya?”

“I can guess.”

“Oh, and what can ya guess? Huh? Come on tell me.”

“Your mum was difficult to be around sometimes.” Alan slumped his shoulders. Franky knew better than he did just how difficult she was.

“Is that when she was drunk or when she was off her face?” Franky spat back. Her eyes were like a knife in his ribs and the sharp point was only digging deeper. Her eyes telling him that where she once held love for him now there was only emptiness. He felt uncomfortable with the void in her eyes, would be more at ease with the raw anger he had seen moments earlier. Franky’s unmoving gaze was accompanied by her deliberate slow breathing, like she was fighting something back and loosing.

“I don't know, I couldn't handle it.”

“But you thought a five year old kid could?” Her eyes flashed with indignance, an anger much like lightning on a pitch black night.

Alan struggled to recognise his daughter anymore. The little girl he knew was gone and it was all because of him. His little girl had a voice that was like music carried on a summer breeze. Now it was sweet but venomous, like cupcakes sprinkled with poison.

“You were her kid, I thought you'd be okay.”

Franky laughed sarcastically. “I was yours as well…you've got no fuckin idea.” She shook her head. “She used to burn me with cigarettes where no one could see. I can still remember what that felt like, how it smelt. She'd beat me for no fuckin reason other than she felt like it. She said it was my fault that ya left, my fault.”

“I love you.”

Franky breathed out heavily. “Don't ya fuckin dare say that.” She paced around the room. “Don't ya fuckin dare! I don't even recognise ya, an ya know what pisses me off the most?” She stoped abruptly in front of the table her eyes full of rage. “Ya don't look like him, ya don't sound like him. If my dad walked in here these two wouldn't...couldn't stop me.” She slammed her fist down on the table. “I'd smash this fuckin table then I'd smash his fuckin face.” She crossed her arms across her chest and looked down at the floor. “But he didn't walk in, he sent you. Some prick who wants to talk about feelings an issues an bullshit.” She wiped the tears away that were threatening to fall.

“Franky…I'm sorry, I'm sorry.”

“You know what, I waited years for him to come back. I stood at my bedroom window every night and every night he let me down. Even when social services took me away from that bitch and put me somewhere new I kept waiting. Every fuckin time I was moved I still kept waiting. I imagined him running in the front door, meeting me at the school gates, picking me up and squeezing my hand like he used to. Taking me away from the nightmare that I had to live in.” She spat rancid saliva with each maliciously punctuated word. Her teeth clenched, her facial muscles twitched and her eyes narrowed.

“Franky…” He hung his head low.

“I haven't finished.” She yelled pointing her finger at him.

“He didn't walk in did he? Didn't take me away from my living nightmare. So I started thinking about the day I'd get back at him, hurt him yeah? I started thinking about that day, dreamed up hundreds of different ways I could hurt him. And then you fuckin walk in.” She punched the table again. “You're not even him anymore. Ya even took that away from me. How can I hurt someone when I don't even recognise them?”

Franky spun around and walked out of the interview room. She wasn't sure anymore if this had been the right thing to do. She wanted to hurt him, punch him so hard in the face that she'd feel every bone in her hand break. He wasn't the dad she remembered, wasn't her dad.

“Franky.” Beas voice echoed softly in her ears. “Lets go see Vera, get the rest of your shift covered.”

Franky wasn't going to argue, she could but there was no point. Maybe in the long run this was what she needed, to tell him how she felt. He'd leave her alone now wouldn't he? Her pain was still overwhelmingly real, well hidden but still there. She still carried her much younger selfs broken heart. Something she thought akin to lighting a match, enjoying the flame and leaving the ashes. Her memories of him, the good ones, the fun ones. Those are the flame, everything else was the ashes and she wanted badly to watch them blow away in the wind. She'd always feel the pain, so much raw pain. At least she knew that now she couldn't be broken anymore because she'd been completely broken already, it was only her who did the damage now.

 

 

 

“So what did you want my help with?” Allie asked after Debbie was asleep and Liz had made her excuses for an early night. Something Allie guessed she'd only started doing when she was there.

“Well…I thought, I was hoping that you'd look at some houses with me. Online right now obviously.”

“I can do that, not sure I'll be of much use though. I mean come on you've seen my apartment I could have chosen something better.”

“Yeah, but then maybe you wouldn't be here right now. Maybe we'd never even have met.”

Allie rested her head against Beas shoulder knowing it was true. Every decision we make comes with consequences, some better than others. She'd considered a number of other apartments, all being better than the one she currently lived in. None had actually made the greatest impression on her. In truth Allie had just been glad to have a place of her own that she could call home.

“So are you helping?” Bea reached out to grab her lap top from the coffee table.

“Sure, but don't tell me I have terrible taste.” Allie laughed.

“I'll try not to but then I already know you do. I mean look who you decided you'd rather waste your time with.”

“Knock that off.” Allie warned. “There's no one else in the whole of Australia I'd rather waste my time with or on. Actually scratch that, there's no one else on the whole planet, in the whole universe.”

“Okay, I give in…still think maybe I should make you an appointment to get your eyes tested.”

“What about that one?” Allie asked as she pointed to a picture on the screen as Bea slowly scrolled the real estate view web site.

“Too modern.”

“And that one?”

“Too small.”

“See I told you I have terrible taste.”

“We're still on the first page. If I'm going to do this there's no point in even considering something I'll never be happy with. It has to be right, a real family home.”

“Yeah, I'm no expert in that am I?” Allie sighed. “And Deb needs to like it as well.”

“You seem to be forgetting someone else.” Bea pointed out.

“Well I guess Franky will expect a say in wherever you move to, maybe Liz too.”

“Maybe they will but I was thinking more along the lines of you being in agreement. I mean you'll be spending time there…unless of course…”

“Hey, I'm going to tell you this everyday so you don't forget, I'm not going anywhere. I don't want to be anywhere else or with anyone else. Even when you do start believing me I'm going to keep saying it just because it's true.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah…now what about that one?”


Two hours later Allie yawned. “Shit, I should let you get to bed. Why didn't you tell me it was getting late?”

Bea placed her laptop back on the coffee table and turned her body to face Allie. She looked tired as she looked into her eyes. Eyes that held so much intelligence and serenity that it was impossible for Bea not to be held prisoner by them.

“Stay with me.” Bea whispered as she reached out taking one of Allies hands in hers. The need to keep her close just grew everyday and even though she figured it was way too soon to ask she still entertained the idea that Allie would move in with them. She hated the thought of Allie staying in that apartment. Of course Bea had to find a house she liked first, that they liked first, one or two that they had looked at made a favourable impression. Shaking the idea from her head when she realised that she wasn't even sure Allie would ever want that, she could ask but didn't know how to.

“Are you sure? I mean you have work in the morning.” There was no place that Allie would rather be than sharing a bed with Bea every night but that she thought was a long way off. If it ever could possibly happen at all.

“It's too late for you to go home now, and you'll have plenty of time to go home in the morning.”

“True, ten till six isn't so bad.” Allie said as she stood up and held her hand out. “Come on, take me to bed.”

They fell asleep tangled together as they did most nights, and Bea woke up in the dark, quiet hours before dawn. The type of darkness that only occurs in a complete solar eclipse, blocking out the light, the noise, leaving you in the silence of serenity, if only for a few seconds. Looking at Allies sleeping form Bea feels like she could quite easily cry because she's so sure she's never seen anything so beautiful. It's everything, her casual smile she so freely gives even as she sleeps. It's her soul that loves so deeply and cares so very much for others. It's the way her arm rests protectively wrapped around Beas waist as her head nestles into her neck. Beas not sure how long she lays there studying the woman in her arms. It feels like seconds and hours all at the same time. Finally closing her eyes again she drifts back into peaceful sleep.

A few hours later she's woken by the smell of bacon and guesses that Liz must already be awake. Then she realises that Allie is no longer in her arms, sliding her arm across the bed she's greeted by cool sheets. Opening her eyes properly she lifts her head from the pillow wondering where Allies gone, she wouldn't have left without saying anything.

Getting out of bed and heading downstairs the sight in the kitchen that greeted her is just too sweet for words. She stops in the doorway because what she sees is everything she never thought she'd have and everything she'd secretly wished for. Debbie is draped, still a little sleepily, over the table watching Allie cooking bacon and pancakes as they talk quietly. Nothing else matters in that moment because their both smiling, both look so happy, and Bea thinks she could stand and watch them forever.

Allie turns to face her a few seconds later as if her entire body is finely tuned to the existence of her presence. She doesn't say anything at first, she just smiles even wider.

“Sit down, Liz just ran out to get milk.”

Everything seems so simple and somehow so complicated at the same time, but Allies expression tells her everything she needs to know. Without words the look in her eyes tells Bea that she's happy to be part of this, that she really wouldn't want to be anywhere else, that she'll never have to figure everything out alone again. She moves to sit next to Debbie, her eyes never leaving Allie because yes she knows now that she doesn't have to worry that Allie will leave. She knows she doesn't have to say a word because everything she could say Allie has a silent answer for in her eyes.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Trailing Debbie round with them for hours as they viewed the houses that they had agreed on now seemed like a stupid idea. Not that the day had come without stress for Bea from the beginning. After Bea had arranged viewings for Saturday Allie had decided that it should just be Bea and Debbie that went. Bea wouldn't hear any of it resulting in their first disagreement on Friday night. Bea hadn't been prepared for it and as much as she knew Allie though it wasn't her place to have any part in the final decision Bea disagreed. Allie leaving and going home also had not been part of her plan. Laying in bed alone she hadn't expected Allie to actually call and tell her that if she really wanted her there she'd be happy to.

“We argued.” Bea sighed into the phone. “And I didn't mean to upset you.”

“Babe we disagreed, it was hardly an argument. What ever you want to call it you know what the best part is?”

Bea shook her head forgetting that Allie wasn't there so couldn't see her, realising a few seconds later she answered. “No, tell me.”

“You don't?” Allie had know as soon as she asked the question the response she'd get. Knowing Beas past experience with any kind of confrontation hit her harder than she thought it still should. “I have it on very good authority that making up is the best part.”

“Yeah?” Bea asked with uncertainty in her voice.

“I'll prove it you tomorrow night if you'll let me.”

“You could just come back now.” Bea whined, she hated this. She'd convinced Allie to stay with her three nights that week and had intended that night to be the fourth.

“God you're so impatient sometimes.” Allie giggled. “Trust me I'll make it worth your wait, see you in the morning?”

“You better, any later than 8am and I'm bringing Deb over to wake you up.”

“I'll be there, you can count on it.”

Now here there were with one more house to view, time to kill and a very grumpy Debbie who naturally was starving. She didn't understand why they needed a house, they lived in one already she'd told both Bea and Allie. Finding a small diner had been a welcome relief, Debbie was complaining and Bea just wanted a break. The whole morning Allie had followed them around without a single complaint. She hadn't said a great deal except telling Bea when they had looked at one house how much she hated it. Apart from that she'd kept her opinion to herself and that was frustrating Bea.

“Mummy I'm starving, feed me.” Debbie said in her most pathetic tone as they walked through the door. Making both Bea and Allie laugh.

They found a seat easily despite it being lunch time and the place seeming pretty busy. Debbie already knew what she wanted before they got there, for the last five minutes she'd talked about nothing else. When the waitress appeared to take their orders she opened her mouth to say something, with a large kids selection on the menu she was shocked. Bea looked amused when she saw her expression and beat her to it.

“Trust me she knows how big the burger is and she'll eat it all.”

The waitress laughed and smiled at Debbie before disappearing.

“This is the last one?” Allie asked, she'd thought it was stressful looking for an apartment but Bea was fussier than she was.

“Last one I promise, actually I have a good feeling about this one.”

“Couldn't be worse than the others, although I thought the last one was pretty impressive.”

“You and Deb both then, don't worry I scheduled the best viewing for last.”

Bea sat back while they waited for their food to arrive. Six months ago if anyone had suggested that she'd be sitting here right now she would have laughed and told them they were crazy. In fact she'd probably have taken them to the hospital and requested they have a full psychological review. Now she was sitting here with Debbie and someone she felt completely comfortable with even in public. She let her thoughts wander and all the noise of the busy diner faded into the background. She felt lucky and that wasn't something she'd felt in a long time. She'd spent so much time studying and working in the salon when she was younger she'd never done the whole love struck teenager thing. She wasn't even interested anyway, when everyone else was drooling over the next boy that came along Bea had her nose firmly stuck in her books. Maybe she thought, maybe this was what it felt like. It wasn't like she had anything she could compare it to, she'd never felt anything like this even with Harry. She'd maybe in the beginning been a little flattered by the attention he'd shown her but that hadn't lasted long. Everything was different with Allie and she was certain that this was much more than a simple infatuation. It was ridiculous really she'd thought because they hadn't known each other that long, and she hadn't been exactly pleasant to her when they first met. The strange thing was it felt like they'd know each other for years, maybe that was partly because she was so easy to talk to.

Harry was starting to feel like an unpleasant distant memory, all smoke without the fire. Now she had two important people in her life. Everything felt so light and carefree because she'd never imagined she'd ever be surrounded by, or feel so much…love. The thought alone a few months ago would have sounded like an absurdity, and even now it sounded a little foolish. It had to be too soon for that. Her feelings now were far more than the initial exhilaration she'd felt when she first started spending more time with Allie. Yet again though she couldn't think of any other time in her life when she'd felt like this, with nothing to compare it to how could she even be sure? Bea didn't believe in love at first sight, the concept was ridiculous. Something she'd always guessed had been dreamed up by authors of romance novels to paper over the real ugliness that existed in the world. Somehow now she wondered if her long held beliefs needed adjusting because since Allie had walked into her life she wasn't certain that it was all make believe. Her new reality wasn't one of fear it felt like safety, even if that was a little scary.

The waitress returning with their food quickly districted her from her thoughts as she watched her place the largest burger down in front of Debbie with a dubious smile. Even Allie seemed a little shocked when her eyes landed on it.

“Your mums must have helped you work up quite an appetite. Can you really be that hungry?” The waitress asked. Beas eyes shot straight up to Allie who was still smiling. It seemed to Bea that she must have not heard the whole comment or had ignored it. Either way she didn't seem fazed by it.

“I'm starving!” Debbie proudly announced as she looked at her before turning her attention to her food.

Bea looked at the waitress for a second. “Believe me you are about to see a whole plate of food be demolished in next to no time.” She laughed.

As they ate, between mouthfuls, Debbie and Allie chatted quite happily as Bea just sat there eating and enjoying watching them. The small doubt did creep in every now and again that Allie would decide that being around a young child really wasn't for her. She quickly shook the thoughts away though, Allie had always been upfront about her lack of experience around kids. Something that was unbelievable in Beas mind, there had never been a moment where Allie didn't seem like she'd always been in Debbie's life. She voiced her concerns and Bea was always able to calm any worries she had.

Debbie polished off her burger and fries before Allie or Bea had finished eating much to the surprise of the waitress. Watching her eating half of Allies fries as well was probably even more of a shock, even to Allie who knew how much she could eat.

“I guess we'd better get to this last house.” Allie grumbled when Bea refused to let her pay for lunch.

“You're going to love it.” Bea smiled.

“Maybe, hardly think it makes the slightest bit of difference if I do or not. It's up to you and Deb, you two have to live there.”

Bea frowned as they got back in her car. She'd been quite sure when she called the real estate agent to arrange the viewing that all three of them would love it. Allie hadn't even seen a picture of it but she couldn't image her hating it.

“So where are we headed this time?” Allie asked sounding much less interested than she had earlier in the day.

“South Yarra.” Bea smiled. “And I have a really good feeling about this one.”

Allie shrugged. “Isn't that further away from the station?”

“No, actually it would make the journey to work easier for both of us, you know when you stay.” Bea laughed nervously. She was sure this house would be the one. Strangely she would never have found it if it hadn't been for Fletch pointing her in the right direction. Allie seemed to be getting bored with the whole thing, either that or she didn't like the thought of it just being the three of them. Or maybe it being the three of them was the problem. “Allie, you wouldn't have to stay if you didn't want to.”

“What?” Allie shot her head round so fast giving herself whiplash was a distinct possibility. “How did you get that from me asking you if it was further away?”

“You sound a little bored with the whole thing.” Bea mumbled as she pulled up in a quiet street.

The house they were there to look at was set back from the road by quite a substantial driveway. It had everything Bea wanted and a few extras. Built of solid brick it had four bedrooms and generous gardens, perfect for Debbie. It had the added bonus of a swimming pool and was close to a local park.

Walking up the driveway with Debbie in her usual place between them holding a hand each Allie gasped.

“You…you're viewing this?”

“We.” Bea corrected. “We're viewing this house.”

The driveway was surrounded by perfectly manicured lawns on either side and led to a wide entrance and sweeping wrap around verandah. The inside was even more than Bea had expected, the pictures she'd seen really hadn't done the place any justice at all. Debbie ran from room to room highly excited even if she still wasn't really sure why they needed a house. Allie was walked around gripping Beas hand tightly with a look of amazement on her face. She was completely captivated by the ambience and the sheer perfection of the obvious recent renovations. And the open wood burning fireplace in the spacious living room gave her plenty of ideas to ponder on. On the other hand she couldn't stop the feeling of not belonging in a house like this from creeping up on her.

“Hey.” Bea said quietly as she squeezed her hand. “I know what you're thinking and you're wrong.” She stopped and turned fully to face Allie taking her other hand in hers. “You belong in a house like this just as much as anyone else.”

Allie looked down at the oak floorboards and slowly back to Beas eyes. “I know.” She whispered. “It's just hard sometimes…when I think…”

“You never have to think about that. I know it's hard because we both know I still drift off back to my dark place. You aren't there and you aren't ever going back there, neither am I. So…want to take another look at that master bedroom?”

“How can a girl refuse an offer like that?” Allie giggled.

It was undeniably one of Allies favourite rooms especially with its access to a gorgeous private patio area. Although she hadn't actually seen anything she didn't like yet. The newly renovated kitchen was stunning with glass splash backs, solid timber counter tops, stainless steel appliances and a butlers pantry. The living room along with its marble fireplace and open fire had access through bi-fold doors to a decked area that led straight onto a large paved dining/ entertaining area and a heated self cleaning pool. It was too good to be true.

“Can you even afford this place? I mean I'm not being nosey and you don't have to tell me but it must be worth a fortune.”

“Do you like it?”

“I do. But it's not my decision, it's yours and De…”

Bea pulled her in and kissed her softly before pulling back and looking her in the eye. “I want you to feel happy wherever we live. You tell me everyday you don't want to be anywhere else or with anyone else so I need you to be sure as well. And to answer your question, yes I can afford it. I've been sitting on Harry's life insurance payout for three years, then there's his death in service benefits I still receive.” Bea shrugged. “I never had a reason to use any of it. Always figured I'd just keep it stashed away and give it to Deb. Never had a reason to even think about it really.”

“I…you didn't have to tell me.”

Hunting Debbie down wasn't a hard task since she'd already decided on the bedroom she liked the best.

“Deb, how would you feel if I bought this house, for us to live in?”

Debbie looked thoughtful for a few moments as she looked between Bea and Allie.

“Mummy, if we buy this house how will we get it home?” She asked seriously.

Bea burst out laughing. “Deb you crack me up sometimes.” Bea finally managed to speak. “We won't be taking it back to Gma Liz's. We have to move out and come live here.”

“Oh, okay but Gma Liz will visit us won't she?”

“Of course Deb, she can come round whenever she likes.”

“Okay…so what are we waiting for?”

After speaking with the real estate agent again Bea placed an offer on the house for the full asking price. She already knew that it was below the market price but the owners wanted a quick sale as they had relocated leaving the property empty.

Making their way back out of the house and down the driveway surrounded by the meticulously maintained garden with its water feature and ornamental trees Bea felt the happiest she had ever been.

“You are having dinner with us aren't you?” Bea asked as she glanced at Allie once that they were back in her car.

“Of course she is.” Debbie piped up from the back seat. “Allies starving like me.”

 

 

 

“You do like the house don't you?” Bea asked as they lay in bed facing each other later that day, while she mindlessly trailed her fingers up and down Allies arm.

“I told you I do, but you have to be happy with it more than I do.”

“Stop already, its important to me that you like it too.” Bea wound her arm round her and pulled her in closer.

“If I decided that I don't like it anymore what would you do?” Allie asked before placing a soft kiss against her lips.

“Nothing! You'd have to find a way to make it up to me for letting me spend that much money. I told you already my offer was accepted.”

“Is that right?” Allie asked as she pushed Bea back softly into the mattress and moved to straddle her hips. “What would you want me to do?”

“I don't know, you'd have to give me some time to think about it.” Bea laughed lightly as she moved her hands under Allies top to rest them on her skin.

“So if I do this?” Allie lent down to kiss her neck. “You'd still need time to think about it?”

“Maybe.”

“And if do this?” Allie pulled her top off throwing it behind her.

“Maybe I'd say you can do anything you like.”

“Anything?” Allie asked curiously.

“Anything.” Bea breathed as Allie pushed her top up. Sitting up slightly Bea let her pull it over her head and throw it join hers wherever that had landed.

“You'll tell me if you want me to stop?” Allie asked as she trailed her fingers across her stomach feeling her muscles twitch.

“Yeah.” Bea answered breathily as Allie lent in again kissing down her neck and across her collar bone.

Bea couldn't imagine a time she'd ever need to ask her to stop. Nothing Allie ever does makes her think she wants her to stop. Her hands are soft and attentive as they roam freely over Beas naked skin. The first time Bea was sure Allie was holding back for fear of spooking her. Now as she alternates between kissing her lips and her neck Beas certain she can feel her giving in to the heat between them.

Their eyes briefly lock for a few seconds as Allie kisses down her chest before she heads lower.

“This okay?” Allie asks between placing soft kisses across her stomach. Bea just nodded.

“Yeah?” Allie asks as she kisses her way back up her body. “Want me to stop asking?”

“I think you should or I may have to find a way to shut you up.”

“Is that right?” Allie asks as she nips softly at a particularly sensitive spot on Beas neck. “How exactly would you shut me up?”

“I…I…fuck Allie…how am I meant to concentrate on anything else?”

Allie pulled back. “The only thing I want you to concentrate on is me.” She ran her hands gently down her sides stopping as she reached the waistband of her pyjama bottoms.

“Kinda hard not to.”

“You still okay?” Allie asked as she dipped her fingers under her waistband.

“I would be if you'd shut up and actually touch me.”

“Hmmmm.” Allie hummed as she changed position so she was now only straddling one of Beas thighs. “Now I can't decide if I want to drag this out a little longer…I doubt we have to worry about Franky this time. Maybe I can make this time more memorable for the right reasons.”

“You do realise that I'm going to remember every second you make me wait?” Bea asked as evenly as she could. “And that this time as you say there's no chance of Franky interrupting us, two can play that game.”

“Y…you wouldn't?”

“Guess you'll have to wait and find out.”

Allie is slightly gobsmacked and looks back at Bea blankly before she regains her usual composure. Slipping her hand beneath the waistband of her bottoms as Bea does nothing except watch her intently.

Beas eyes soon flutter closed as soon as Allie easily slides her fingers through the warmth of Beas folds drawing lazy circles softly over her clit. Leaning in again she whispered in her ear.

“You have no idea how good you feel.”

Beas breath caught in her throat before you could force any words out of her mouth.

“I wouldn't know…and it's not like…like anyone was ever really…in…interested before.”

“Don't think about it, it was his fucking loss and my gain.” Allie mumbled in her ear as she moved her fingers with more purpose.

“You talk too much.” Bea breathed as she tried to keep her breathing even.

Allie pulled back leaving Beas body to mourn the loss of skin contact. Opening her eyes she became completely distracted by the sight in front of her as her eyes roamed hungrily over Allies naked breasts. Reaching out she ran her hands gently up Allies sides. Cupping her breasts in her hands before running her thumbs over her hardened nipples. Allie became momentarily distracted as she sucked in a breath.

“Keep doing that and I won't be able to concentrate on anything else, that what you want?”

“Yeah? I thought nurses were meant to be good at multitasking.”

“I am at work. Kinda hard with your hands all over me. Thats enough to put even the most experienced and dedicated nurse off her game.”

“I'd apologise but I wouldn't mean a word of it.” Bea said with a small breathy laugh.

“Is that right? Then I won't apologise for this.” Allie dipped her head back down gently sucking her nipple into her mouth as her fingers slipped lower.

“Allie…” Bea moaned softly as her head sunk further into her pillow when she felt Allies fingers enter her. Swallowing down the moan that threatened to escape her lips she ran her fingers through Allies hair.

Allie feels Beas body reacting instinctively as she moved her fingers with more purpose, brushing her thumb against her clit with every other thrust. Bea bit her lip to keep herself from moaning loudly, still aware that both Liz and Debbie were in the house. Bea had been convinced that it couldn't feel any better than the first time with Allie. Tonight she was sure that what she felt was like nothing she'd ever experienced before.

Before Allie she'd only ever associated sex with pain and for a fraction of a second she tensed up slightly. Allie slowed her movements and leaned it to place a gentle kiss on Beas lips.

“Do you want me to st…” Bea cut her off before she could finish her question.

“No…sorry, don't stop….I just drifted off for a second.”

“You sure?” Allie asked gently.

“Yeah, I…fuck Allie….”

Allie curled her fingers and Bea feels herself getting shakier, her breathing and heart rate increasing with every thrust. Allie leaned leaned down again capturing Beas lips in a passionate kiss swallowing the moan that escapes Bea. Bea feels like her brain has completely switched off, the only thing she can properly focus on is Allies fingers moving inside of her. One hand finds it way back into Allies hair. Trailing the other down Allies back as she tried to pull her closer so that there's not even a millimetre of space between them.

“Allie…” Bea gasps

She's close and Allie can can feel it almost as intensely as Bea does. Beas breathing becomes more laboured as Allie kisses her down her neck and across her chest. As Allies thumb brushes over her clit again it sends Bea crashing over the edge. Her body arches off the bed more bringing her body closer to Allie as she kisses her and Bea wonders if Allie can drag it out any longer when she realises she can still feel her moving inside of her. As the last waves of her orgasm wash over her Bea falls back against the mattress, completely sated and utterly exhausted as Allie slowly withdrew her fingers.

Allie moved to drop down beside her, pressing soft, gentle kisses against Beas shoulder.

“Jesus.” Bea gasped as she tried to catch her breath.

“You okay?” Allie asks as she snuggled into her side, her leg draped over hers and her arm over her stomach.

“I…I'm…fuck…I can't even see straight…”

“Not quite the answer I was asking for.” Allie giggled.

“I'm so much better than okay…I can't even tell you…”

“You don't have to.”

They lay holding each other in silence for a few minutes, they didn't need to say anything all they needed was to hold each other. As Beas breathing evens out she pulled Allie into a kiss, one that started out soft turning more passionate and hungry as the seconds passed. When the need to breath became overpowering Allie was the first to pull away.

“You know for someone who insists she has no idea what to do you're a bloody good kisser.” Allie said a little breathlessly.

“Yeah?” Bea asked finding it hard to believe.

“Yes really.” Allie whispered as she pulled her back into another kiss. “I'd quite willingly lay here all night just kissing you.”

“I have all night if you do.”

“Hmmm, well I'm not planning on going anywhere.”

“And I'm pretty certain I wouldn't mind spending the rest of the night just kissing you, but you know I'm sure there's something…hmmmm…more pleasurable we could do.”

“Bea Smith!” Allie said in a mock shocked tone. “You wouldn't be propositioning me would you?”

“Maybe I am.” Bea ran her fingers up Allies arm. “Are you saying that's not what you want?”

“I'd never say that, I just don't want you to feel like you have to do anything. I want whatever you want, especially if it means I get to lay here half naked in your bed with you. I'm all yours whatever you want.”

“Is that right, you're all mine?”

“All yours. I've told ya I don't want anybody else. Have I not told you today? I don't want to be anywhere else or with anybody else?”

“I don't remember.” Bea mumbled against her shoulder. She loved the closeness they shared, the calmness that she found when whenever they were close.

The excitement of finding the perfect house, a place for the thee of them to live had been the only thing on Beas mind.

“Move in with us.” Bea looked back at Allie with nothing but sincerity in her eyes.

Allies eyes found Beas a slight hint of shock clearly visible to Bea. “A…are you sure? What about Deb? Won't she think it's wired?”

“I doubt it, that little girl loves you.” Bea looked away worried that she'd said the wrong thing. Wasn't that what she always did? Harry said she did, every time she opened her mouth she was wrong.

“Stop it.” Allies words suddenly brought her back to where she was, right where she wanted to be. “Don't overthink everything…I'm not saying I don't want to.”

“Seems to me you aren't saying much of anything.”

“I want you to be sure, if I say yes, give up my apartment then you change your mind. If I move in with you and you decide that's not what you want. I am messy you know that right.”

“I don't care.” Bea trailed her fingers gently down Allies cheek. “I'll take your messiness over being without you any day of the week. Plus that apartment complex will be sold eventually. If Vinnie Holt gets what he wants you'll have to move out, if you move in with us you won't have the hassle of looking for a new place.”

“Yeah? You've thought this through already haven't ya?”

“Yeah. Now are you going to make me ask you again or are you going to give me an answer?”

“I want to say yes…”

“But?” Bea looked away again, there had to be a but coming. As much as she didn't want to hear it she knew she would, couldn't stop it. It was too soon, it wasn't what Allie wanted. Why would she? Her thoughts ran at a million miles an hour with countless questions, different reasons she'd say no.

“No buts, I just think we should ask Debbie what she thinks.” Allie whispered before connecting their lips again.

When Bea opened her eyes again Allie saw a hunger there that she'd never seen before.

“I want everything with you, and I might feel stupid and sound awkward but I don't want to stop…” Bea trailed off after changing the subject.

“You mean?…” Allie wasn't even sure why she was asking if the look in Beas eyes was anything to go by.

Bea didn't speak, she just leans in to kiss Allie again hoping that it would say everything she feels unable to. When Allie pulls away their both slightly breathless.

“Tell me what to do.” Bea whispered before placing another kiss on Allies lips.

“You know you don't have to…if you're not ready, I'd never…”

“I want to, I really want to. I just don't want to be terrible at it.”

“Trust me I don't think that's likely to happen babe.” Allie giggled softly. “Seriously, just do what you like me doing to you okay?”

“But…”

“Stop overthinking it, you don't have to do anything. Just kiss me okay.”

Bea just nodded as she leaned in to kiss her again while one hand stroked gently down her back. The kiss started out soft and gentle but soon heated up as Bea gently nudged Allie onto her back. Before they knew it they were both out of breath. Bea looked down at Allie as she trailed her hand up over her stomach gently inching her way towards her breasts. She brushed her fingertips over her nipples before ducking her head to replace her fingers with her mouth. Feeling Allie arch away from the mattress she grew a little braver. Dropping her hand down to Allies hip she paused.

“You really don't have to…” Allie was silenced by Bea kissing her softly as her fingers moved a little hesitantly under the waistband of the only thing still covering her body.

Bea moved her fingers slowly and hesitantly. She's slightly taken aback when she feels the wetness coating her fingers, suddenly realising that she's the obvious cause of it gives her the confidence to continue.

“Fuck…oh god.” Allie mutters as Beas fingers keep exploring.

Allie wriggling around desperate for more friction makes it harder for Bea to focus her attention on where Allie liked to be touched. Dipping her fingers lower the low moan that escapes Allie sends another shot of desire straight through Bea. She'd never imagined that anything could ever feel so good. Feeling Allies hips jump up towards her as she drags her fingers over her clit made her smile to herself. Sliding them down lower she looks at Allie for conformation that she's doing the right thing.

“Please.” Allie whispered as she brushed the hair behind Beas ear that had fallen over her face.

Bea can hardly believe the feeling she gets as she enters Allie for the first time, although she soon decides that the feeling of moving in and out of her is even better. The feeling alone is almost enough to distract her from what she's doing as she tries to remember what Allie had done to her. Leaning in she places a soft kiss to Allies lips as she keeps thrusting her fingers. Allies movements become more erratic as she moves her fingers faster ignoring the burn in her forearm.

“Fuck…Bea…I'm so close.” Allie moans a little louder than she intended to. Reaching her hand around to the back of Beas neck she pulled her into a hungry kiss.

Bea slightly alters the position of her hand, her palm now brushing over Allies clit with ever thrust of her fingers. Curling her fingers one final time she sends Allie crashing over the edge. A silent moan escaping her as her mouth falls open. Remembering Allies earlier actions she keeps moving her fingers wanting, needing, to draw out as much pleasure for Allie as she can. Allies body bowed up towards her as she tries to pull Bea closer. Slowing her movements as Allies movements become less erratic, withdrawing her fingers only after she had collapsed completely back against the mattress.

“There's no chance in hell you haven't done that before.” Allie whispers minutes later when her breathing had finally evened out.

“Was it okay?” Bea asks nervously as she lay down beside her.

“You really need to ask?” Allie answered with a breathy giggle. “Honestly I doubt I could move from right here no matter how hard I tried.”

“Good.” Bea said with a smile.

“How do you feel? Did you like it?” Allie asked a while later when she'd recovered a little more.

“Yeah.” Bea answered before biting her lip a little embarrassed.

“What to do it again?” Allie asks with a devilish grin. “But these have got to go.” She rolled Bea onto her back and tugged her pyjama bottoms down. “Not that they don't look good on ya or anything they are a little more in the way than I'd like.”

They both know they'll still be exhausted when they have to get up in the morning but neither of them care. It's the early hours of the morning before they fall asleep, naked and tangled together.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Bea surprised herself when she woke up a few hours later feeling like she'd had the best nights sleep ever. She smiled to herself as she stretched a little, not the easiest thing to do when Allies arm was still wrapped around her and their legs were still tangled together. Laying almost completely still for a few minutes she relished the feel of Allies body so close to her. If Allie was still going to insist on them asking Debbie if she wanted Allie to live with them she'd go along with that. She was confident that Debbie wouldn't say no so thought it was a waste of time anyway. She wouldn't deny her anything though so if that was what she wanted that was what she'd have. She extracted herself carefully from Allies body after deciding that she'd have a shower and then make breakfast.

Catching sight of her reflection in the bathroom mirror she smiled to herself. Suddenly feeling like a stranger in her own body because she wasn't the same and never would be again. She's no longer completely weighed down by everything Harry said she was. Allie didn't think she was ugly or stupid. She didn't tell her she was a bad mother or tell her to be be quite. Allie could quite possible talk to her for a full week and never get bored of listening to what she had to say. This version of herself felt lighter and stronger and for possibly the first time since she was a teenager she looked forward to whatever was to come next.

Turning on the shower she stepped straight in before the water had heated up causing her to shiver a little. Wetting her hair she quickly ran shampoo through it before closing her eyes to rinse it out. Hearing the door open she knew given the time it couldn't be anyone else but Allie. At least she doubted that Debbie would be up and about so early. Even over the noise of the water she heard Allies voice clearly as she approached the shower.

“You should still be sleeping.” Came Allies still sleepy voice only just audible over the noise of the water.

The shower enclosure door opened slowly, as if Allie were suddenly nervous.

“Well aren't you a sight for sore eyes?” Allie said before she yawned.

Beas absolutely certain that there's nothing sexier than Allies voice when she's just woken up.

“Is there room in there for me or would you rather be alone?” Allie asks a little uncertainty in her voice.

Bea quickly rinsed the remainder of the shampoo from her hair and wiped her eyes, finding Allie as soon as she opened them. She looked so beautiful but there's something different about her this morning. A little shyness, something Beas sure she's never seen before at least not on Allies part. Holding her hand out she pulled Allie into the shower with her.

“Hi.” Bea whispered as she gently pulled her closer.

“Hi.” Allie answered sweetly. Her smile growing wider when Beas arms encircled her waist.

“Shouldn't you still be asleep?”

“I could ask you the same thing. How did you sleep?”

“Better than then ever. You?”

“Same.” Allie admits. “Don't you think we should be exhausted. I mean we've only slept for a few hours, feels like we slept for days”

“I know, it was worth every minute of lost sleep though.” Bea ducked her head slightly.

“Hey, don't go all shy on me now.” Allie gently placed her fingers under her chin, raising her head. Leaning in she pressed a soft kiss to her lips before pulling back. “You gonna pass me the shampoo?”

“I can do it for you if you like.” Bea offers.

“Please.” Allie happily agrees as she lets Bea turn them around. Allie closed her eyes loving the feeling of Beas hands running through her hair, her nails scratching her scalp lightly eliciting a low moan from Allie.

“If you don't stop that we'll have to spend a lot longer in here.” Allie warned.

“So, there's no one else awake yet.” Bea leans in and whispers in her ear.

Allie smirked a little as she pressed her back into Beas front. Bea can't resist as her hands trail slowly down Allies sides, wrapping one arm around her waist the other travels further as she holds her close. Her fingers circle Allies clit, all her doubts vanish in an instant when she hears Allie gasp.

“Fuck…Bea!”

“Is that good?” Bea whispers.

“Babe that…that's so good…don't stop.”

Beas not sure the angle of her fingers is quite right but judging by Allies reaction she's not going to stop. She's knows she's gone from fearing anything remotely intimate to craving being able to touch Allie in a matter of days. It's crazy and can't quite believe it but their together and she can't quite get enough. One of Allies hands flies up and grips the arm around her waist while the other finds its way to the back of Beas neck. Twisting her neck into a position that Beas sure must be uncomfortable Allie crashes their lips together to stop herself from being heard by Liz or Debbie.

“I'm not going to last long.” Allie gasps after pulling away.

“No?” Bea asks with a hint of uncertainty in her voice, somehow she still can't believe that she has this effect on Allie. Allies grip on Beas arm grows tighter as she crashes over the edge a few seconds later. Her legs shaking and the moan that threatens to be heard by everyone including next doors cat getting stuck in her throat before she collapses completely into Beas arms.

 

 

After breakfast Liz leaves the three of them to make plans for the rest of day. She's happy that Bea is finally finding her feet, moving on with her life. From the first time she met Allie she knew she was going to be a big part of Beas life. It didn't take a genius to see how quickly Bea had become comfortable with her. No matter how uncharacteristic that was Liz was relieved that she'd finally found someone who made her happy.

Debbie's completely engrossed in her favourite cartoon, snuggled into Allies side when Bea leaves the kitchen. No matter how many times she sees them together like this she's sure she'll never tire of the sight. Allies arm wrapped protectively around her, her eyes trained on the tv happily watching whatever is on. Debbie's fingers are curled into the fabric of Allies shirt, not tightly, but just enough to reassure her that Allies not leaving. Neither of them even seem to notice when Bea sits down next to them.

Turning the tv off when the cartoons had eventually finished Debbie was about to go and find something else to do.

“Deb wait a second I need to ask you something.” Bea smiled as she glance at Allie.

Debbie shrugged she turned to look at Bea.

“How would feel if Allie lived with us?”

Debbie jumped off the sofa looking at Allie and then back at Bea.

“She won't leave?”

“I hope not.” Bea glanced at Allie again who was nervously biting her bottom lip.

Debbie looked thoughtful as even Bea started to feel a little nervous about her final answer. Why was she even asking a five year old for her opinion. She clearly loved Allie, it was hard to separate Debbie from her side most of the time.

“Why not. She doesn't go home very often anyway.”

Bea finally released the breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding.

“Can I go and play now?”

Bea nodded as she watched her turn and skip off.

“You really were serious?”

“Did you think I wasn't? If your answers going to be no just tell me now.”

“I would never say no.” Allie inched closer taking hold of Beas hand. “I want you to be sure it's really what you want. And the only reason I wanted to ask Debbie was because I didn't want her to think I was…” Allie paused and thought for a few seconds. “Coming between you, you're all she has.”

“I didn't need to think about it, it is what I want. And I've said and thought since I didn't have to deal with Harry anymore that I was fine. That I didn't need anyone except Deb. I put every second of my free time into making sure she was happy, making sure she didn't miss out on anything. When I saw you and Deb together that very first time at the beach she was the happiest I've ever seen her.”

“That was hardly down to me.” Allie frowned.

“You still don't see it do you? Usually when I have things to do like earlier she'll sit and watch cartoons by herself. And trust me she complains about that all the time, well she did. You spend time with her, Liz and Franky aside it's not the same. You don't treat her any differently than I do. Except sometimes you have a little more time to spend with her than I do.”

“Yeah? Okay, so…when do we move?”

 

 

A week had passed and Allie had been back to her apartment for the grand total of six hours. When they weren't working they spent most of their time making plans for the impending move. Something that was stressing Bea out. When she moved in with Liz Bea hadn't wanted anything from the house she'd shared with Harry except from their clothes and a few personal items. Everything else she'd instructed Franky and Boomer to get rid of before the house was sold. Starting all over again had been a hard decision to make but it was one she'd been willing to face head on with Allie. And she'd never done this, even when they'd first bought the house Harry had made all the decisions. Without Allie she knew she wouldn't have a clue where to start. Franky's advice had been typical. “Pick the fuckin bed and take it from there.” Obviously in true Franky fashion the simple fact that it wasn't just her and Allie moving had gone completely over her head. For months when Franky had moved into her first apartment the only things she'd said she couldn't live without were a bed and a tv.

The move wasn't the only thing on her mind. As soon as she'd walked into the CID office on Monday morning Will had informed her that her exam was on Friday morning. In between trying to decide what they actually needed to buy and what they could live without for a few weeks Bea had been studying like crazy. Trying to cram everything in in the limited time she had was driving her crazy. She knew police procedure and policy, kept up to date on the law but still she worried that in exam conditions she'd forget everything.

In the early hours of Friday morning she woke up in a panic, quickly remembering that the person almost laying on top of her was Allie and not a threat. She quickly calmed down as she ran her fingers through Allies hair. Allie always calmed her down, all she had to do was think about her and she felt better no matter what was on her mind. Sometimes she still wondered how she got so lucky to have found someone like her. So many times when she woke up during the night she couldn't resist the temptation to pull her closer or just reach out and touch her. Sometimes she'd wake up and wonder if all this was a dream and she'd have to reach out and touch her just to make sure she was real. Everything with Allie was more than she'd ever imagined she'd ever have and recently she'd imagined more and more. Bea lay there trailing her fingers up and down Allies arm until she finally closed her eyes again and fell asleep.

Allie opened her eyes as sunlight filled the sky, its hue ambitiously illuminating the bedroom through the half open blinds. The birds were chirping their explicit background melody as she stretched out realising that Bea wasn't still in bed beside her. Sitting up quickly she found Bea pacing the the room mumbling something that made absolutely no sense to her at all. Jumping out of bed she quickly walked over to her wrapping her arms around her and pulling her close.

“Babe, you need to calm down.”

Bea relaxed almost instantly but she was still worried. “It's so long since I took any exams, shit I never thought I'd have to go through all this again.”

“Hey…I get it, I do remember how nerve wracking if can be. It's not that long since I was going through it.”

“I know, I know. It's just…”

“Relax. You know everything already. I know you're going to pass with flying colours.”

“What if I don't? What if I forget everything as soon as I sit down? What if I screw everything up?”

“You won't.” Allie said firmly. “But even if you do you can re take it can't you?”

Bea shrugged. “I don't know, Will…Will never said what happens if you fail.”

“Because he knows the same thing I do.” Allie removed her arms and took Beas hand leading her over to the bed and making her sit down. “We both know you aren't going to stuff it up.”

“But I might, and I…I don't want to let you down.”

“You could never let me down, I really don't care if you decide not to go through with it. If you don't you're letting yourself down because you want this.”

“Yeah, but…”

Allie cut her off, placing a soft kiss against her lips before resting their foreheads together.

“You could never let me down because I love you.” Allie whispered as she rested her fingers lightly against Beas cheek.

 “Y…you love me?” Old instincts told Bea to run because every experience with someone who claimed to love her had been painful. Closing her eyes for a few seconds concentrating on one thing. That Allie wasn't him, that Allie wouldn't hurt her.

“I'm sorry…I shouldn't have said it.” Allie sighed. “I just…just needed you to know. Needed you to see why you can't possible let me down. You're the smartest person I know. You've passed exams before, you'll pass this one."

“Don't be sorry.” Bea whispered. “I…I love you too. I just thought…”

“Babe.” Allie pulled back and looked at her seriously. “Go jump in the shower, I'll make breakfast.”

 

 

Bea went over and over her mental list of reasons to be taking this exam again as she stood in the shower. It seemed like a good idea, it had still seemed like a good idea the night before. This morning all she could find were the flaws in her decision. ‘How am I ever going to get through this?’ She asked herself. Her thoughts descended into the usual carousel of reasons why nothing good would come out of it as she got dressed. Looking at her uniform that was hung up, pressed and ready for her to slip back into she knew she was being self destructive again. Before Harry she'd always been confident when it came to exams. Then he crept into every part of her mind and made her believe that her knowledge of the law, police procedure and practice was inadequate. He was always disappointed in everything she did, except his disappointment always manifested itself in a beating.

Finally trying to tame her wild curls she looked in the mirror and she saw the same brokenness, the same pain, the same sorrow looking back at her that had once been a constant. No one else ever seemed to see what she saw. Allie certainly didn't see it, and Bea knew she only saw it when she was afraid these days. Allie saw who she really was, she didn't see that reflection in the mirror that now looked back at her. Allie had changed her brokenness in so many ways. She changed her anger to joy, her hurt to happiness, her pain to kindness. The old torn down version of herself was a beautiful living spirit to Allie. And most of the time Bea felt free because of her. Allie made her smile, looked out for her, knew the real Bea. An hour later Allie had already left for work and Bea was getting ready to leave for her exam.

Waiting to be called in she felt sick, she knew she could pass this exam if she could just concentrate for long enough. She'd spent the last four evenings with Allie testing her and she'd answered every question in full without having to take a great deal of time to think about her answer. Even Liz had tried to reassure her as she was leaving the house that she would do fine, better than fine, she leave everyone else taking the exam that day in the dirt when she aced it.

She didn't used to choke when it came to exams, so why should this one be any different? She knew her job, Will had let her read what he'd written about her. Since being in CID she knew she'd improved her skills after the Colin Bates arrest. She didn't want to stay in general duties forever, she wanted both Allie and Debbie to be proud of her. Right now though she felt like a failure and she didn't even have the exam paper in front of her.

Sitting in the surprisingly stuffy room a short time later Bea felt like she needed to be on high alert, like someone was getting ready to beat the crap out of her and she had to be prepared for it. It was stupid she told herself, the worst thing she was facing were her exam questions. Her whole body felt like it was preparing for a marathon instead of sitting still for a couple of hours. She fought the urge to run out of the door, determined to get through it even if her brain did feel like it was about to melt down.

Finally it was over and she was sure she'd done well, even after her freak out before hand, once she'd started writing the answers it just flowed naturally. As soon as she got out in the fresh air she pulled her phone out and sent Allie a text before heading to the station.

 

I told you it would be a walk in the park for you. I'll see you later, rushed off my feet xx

 

Came Allies reply a few minutes later.

 

 

Allie took the opportunity to go with Liz to pick Debbie up wanting to spend a little extra time with her. Neither of them had spent as much time with her as they would have liked while Bea was preparing to take her exam. Something Allie had felt a little guilty about. Especially as she'd made plans to take Bea out for a meal that evening. Liz was more than happy with Allies plan after she'd seen how hard Bea had been working. Thirty minutes before Bea was due to get home Allie sent her a text telling her she was picking her up at 7pm because she was taking her out for dinner and was getting ready back at her apartment.

“Why are we going out again?” Bea asked as they got out of Allies car.

“I told you, my treat because you've been working so hard. And you heard Liz she agreed with me.”

“It's not like I could argue.” Bea grumbled.

They walked down the street hand in hand until Allie tugged gently on her hand.

“Here?” Bea questioned as she looked at the restaurant they were now standing outside.

“Yeah, thought we could try it.” Allie smiled brightly back at her.

Almost as soon as they walked through the door a woman approached them and pulled Allie into a hug.

“It's so good to see you again Allie.” The woman said as she pulled away gesturing for them to follow her further back into the restaurant.

“She a friend of yours?” Bea asked as she realised that she was feeling something else she'd never experienced before, jealousy.

“She's my old boss. Had a couple of part time jobs while I was studying and Rita is a friend of Kaz’s she gave me a chance…wait you didn't think?”

“Sorry.” Bea said quietly. She felt a little stupid, but then she'd never had anything to even slightly feel jealous about before.

“I'm sure if some woman just walked up to you and hugged you I'd feel the same.” Allie smiled as she grabbed her hand again.

Following Rita over to their table she handed them a menu each before leaving them alone.

“You never said you worked in a restaurant.” Bea glanced over her menu at Allie.

“I only worked here for a few months before I graduated, needed the extra cash and Rita was happy to help me out.” Allie admitted as she thought back to how scared she'd been knowing that she was going to have to find a place to live and hold down a job without slipping back into her old habits.

The food was delicious, although watching Allie eat the pasta dish that she'd ordered was more than a little distracting. Especially when Bea noticed the small spot of sauce that lingered at the corner of her mouth. Reaching across the table Bea used her thumb to wipe it away.

“You're as messy as Debbie.” Bea giggled as she retracted her hand.

“Yeah? I did warn ya I'm terribly messy. If you've changed your mind about me living with you I'll completely understand.”

“Not a chance.” Bea smiled. “I'm sure I'll learn to cope with it, told you, I'd rather put up with it than be without you.”

Finishing their mains they both sat back in their chairs. “How long before you get your results?” Allie asked as she picked her wine glass up taking a sip.

“Not sure.” Bea shrugged. “Couple of weeks, a month…never thought to ask anyone.”

“Do you want dessert or shall we just get out of here?” Allie asked.

Bea didn't answer straight away as she sat forward again before reaching out a stroking Allies cheek. “Honestly, I doubt I could eat another bite. You go ahead though if you're still hungry.”

Bea dropped her hand and a frown almost immediately settled on Allies face. It didn't last long though as Bea took her hand, stroking her thumb over the back of it.

“Got a call about the house before I left work.”

“Good news I hope.”

“I think so, we should be moving in in three weeks.”

“That soon?” Allie asked a little surprised.

“Sometimes being a cash buyer has its advantages. You haven't changed your mind have you?”

“No!” Allie looked more serious. “Have you?”

“Never. Why do we keep asking the same question?”

“We're idiots?” Allie offered. “Since were on the subject Debbie knows exactly how she wants her room.” Allie laughed. “If you don't paint it she said and I quote she's ‘moving out and finding her own house,’ can't really argue with that.”

“We should get out of here.” Bea said as she glanced at her watch. “You have to be up early for work.”

“Yeah, sometimes I really hate mornings.”

Allie had got the waiters attention and asked for the bill, now she was wondering what was taking so long. She didn't remember the service ever being this slow when she worked there. Rita appeared a couple of minutes later informing Allie that their meal was on her. No amount of arguing from Allie would make her change her mind.

“Just get out of here already.” Rita laughed as she turned and walked away.

 

 

As soon as they stepped inside the house Allie grabbed Bea by the shirt and pushed her up against the wall, leaning in to kiss her. It was gentle at first but soon became much more heated. Allie hadn't even given Bea a chance to close the door as they entered the house. Kicking it closed without giving it a thought until she heard it slam.

“Shit!” Bea mumbled as she pulled away from Allie.

Not hearing any movement from anywhere else in the house Bea pushed herself away from the wall, spinning them around and pushing Allie back into it. Pressing their bodies as firmly together as their lips Bea is almost sure she can hear what little self control Allie has left snap. Breaking away from each other long enough to suck in a much needed breath before their fused together at the lips again as she tries to manoeuvre them away from the wall.

As Bea pulls away again Allie was just about to protest when she felt her lips on her neck, her head quickly falling backwards to give her better access. Placing open mouthed kisses up her neck and across her jaw she soon finds her lips again. Their both gasping for breath when Bea pulls herself away again resting her forehead against Allies.

“Bed now!” Bea almost growls before inhaling deeply.

Chapter Text

 

It seemed as everything had started happening all at once all over again over at the apartment complex where Allie lived. Bea had been thankful that with their move coming up she'd convinced her that there was no point in her staying there. The building manager had turned up two nights in a row, made some threats and then gone to ground again.They had a lot of decisions to make when it came down to planning what furniture they needed to purchase. More to the point as Liz had pointed out they needed everything so they needed to agree on what they both liked. Neither of them had a lot, what they did have was mainly clothes and a few personal items. Allies apartment was fully furnished which had been the main reason she'd taken it. It had become a joke between them when they realised that Debbie had more than they had combined. Of course work got in the way for the remainder of the week and the next week Allies nightshifts didn't give them much time. They had the whole weekend to look forward to and Bea had made her mind up not to waste a minute of it.

Bea woke up on Saturday morning facing Allies side of the bed but no Allie. Realising a few seconds later that there was someone behind her when she could feel warm breath on her neck. Feeling movement she knew it wasn't Allie long before she turned her head coming face to face with Debbie's smiling face.

“Get up sleepyhead, we made breakfast.” Debbie smiled brightly.

“Who are you and what have you done with Debbie?” Bea laughed lightly as she caught sight of the time. It was strange for her to be awake at 8am on a Saturday. “Why are you awake so early?”

“We made breakfast.” Debbie frowned when she repeated herself.

“Who is we?” Bea guessed it was probably Allie but there was the chance that it was Liz.

“Me and Allie, we made pancakes.” Debbie said happily as she slipped off the bed skipping off towards the door. “Allie said you have five minutes.”

“Not exactly what I said Deb.” Allie laughed as she appeared at the bedroom door.

“Oh? And what did you actually say?” Bea asked as she sat up looking at them both.

“Oh ya know…that you have five minutes then Deb has every right to jump all over ya before we eat everything.”

“Ganging up on me now?” Bea asked as she grabbed Allies pillow and threw it in their direction. “Two can play that game you know Novak.”

“Your aims off.” Allie laughed as the pillow landed on the floor right in front of her. “Are you getting up or do we get to eat all the pancakes?”

“It doesn't exactly look like I have a great deal of choice does it? I'll be down in a couple of minutes.”

Bea knew she had to get up, they'd already agreed to spend the morning picking out furniture. Actually Debbie and Allie had made that decision the previous evening over dinner, Bea had just gone along with it. Her original idea had been to spend the day sitting on the sofa with her laptop. Laughing to herself the thought occurred to her that in fact Debbie and Allie were already good at double teaming her.

When Bea made it to the kitchen a few minutes later she wasn't surprised to find Debbie already tucking into her breakfast.

“Mummy!” Debbie said happily with a mouthful of pancake.

“Deb what have I told you about talking with your mouth full?”

“Not to…sorry.” Debbie mumbled after swallowing. “I know how I want my room to look.” She said excitedly as she pushed Allies phone across the table to show Bea what they had been looking at. “And I want that.” She pointed at the phone.

Bea took a seat across the table from her and looked down at what was on the screen, frowning a little. Staring right back at her was a picture of a princess bedroom setting. Designed in pink and white, the bed had a crown shaped padded headboard and was embellished with diamanté buttons. She shook her head a little when she saw the matching bedside drawer and dresser.

“It's very…pink!” Bea said as she studied Debbie's expression.

“I want to be a princess.” She simply stated in reply.

“Babe, you aren't going to say no are you?” Allie asked as she slipped a plate down in front of Bea. “Doesn't every little girl want to be a princess?” She questioned.

“No!” Bea laughed.

“No?” Allie huffed a little. “So what did you want to be?” She asked with a raised eyebrow.

“A cop…never wanted to be anything else. Even when I was little that was all I wanted.”

“Well then, you got what you wanted.” Allie challenged. “You can hardly say no to Debbie.”

“Fine…a princess it is then. Just don't ask me to paint your room pink.” Bea huffed knowing she couldn't win.

 

 

 

“Maybe we should start with a bed?” Allie giggled as the three of them walked into Fantastic Furniture.

“Have you been hanging out with Franky by any chance?” Bea asked as she rolled her eyes.

“No but Deb knows what she wants and I doubt the three of us would all fit in it.”

“I'm not sharing.” Debbie said after letting go of their hands and turning to face them both.

“Of course not Deb, besides I don't think pink is your mum's favourite colour.”

Debbie shrugged before grabbing their hands back.

Nothing they had looked at so far had grabbed either of their attention and after twenty minutes Bea wondered why she hadn't just stayed at home. Allie seemed much more adept at shopping for anything than she was. Finding a house that they had agreed on was easier, choosing furniture she thought was about as interesting as watching paint dry.

“That one…its perfect!” Allie almost squealed in excitement as she led them in the direction of a display.

Bea had to admit Allie did have good taste as she cast her eyes over the solid pine, dark oak stained bed frame. It had a very rustic finish and a true country look at feel to it, something Bea actually liked. The matching tallboy, dresser and bedsides, after closer scrutiny by Bea, were perfect with deep draws offering plenty of storage space.

“It would make our room look warm and cozy.” Allie said before leaning in to whisper in Beas ear. “And there's a lot you can do with a slatted headboard.”

Bea turned and looked at Allie a slight hint of confusion resting on her features. Allie smiled and whispered to her again. “Maybe you could bring your handcuffs home one day and I'll show you.”

Bea turned, swallowed down the lump that had appeared in her throat when she realised what Allie had meant. “Allie…I…I…”

“Relax Bea I'm joking…or maybe I'm not.” Allie smirked

“Are you choosing this one?” A very bored looking Debbie asked as Bea just nodded her head still at a loss for words.

By the time it was almost lunch time they had decided on the bed and matching furniture for one of the spare rooms. Bea decided that one had to be furnished incase anyone needed to stay, the remaining bedroom they could leave for the time being. Moving onto the items for the living room it had been an easy decision when they found the perfect modular chaise sofa. With its deep padded seats and classic rolled arms it would be the perfect fit, and had the advantage that they could purchase occasional chairs that matched.

Before they could look at anything else Debbie as expected announced that she was starving and asked if they could have pizza. It was already starting to feel like one of the longest days ever. As much as Bea would rather her eat something a little more healthy she'd been on her best behaviour all morning. And if Bea was bored she could only imagine how boring it must be for Debbie.

“Sure baby, lets go…pepperoni?” Bea asked already knowing the answer.

“Lots of pepperoni!” Debbie exclaimed excitedly.

After an extended lunch they wandered around a few more stores making a few purchases as they went. Stopping in one store Debbie spotted a castle design bookshelf and looked up at Bea as she tugged on her hand gently.

“What's wrong baby?”

“Can I have one of those?” She asked quietly.

“The book shelf? Let's have a proper look.”

Debbie had an ever growing collection of books and was going to need a place to store them all when they moved. Bea liked the fantasy castle design, the double doors had windows cut out and it could just as well double up as dolls house. It had four sturdy internal shelves and would hold Debbie's book collection with a little room to spare.

“I guess every princess needs a castle.” Bea smiled as Debbie hugged her.

A few hours later they were still wandering around when Bea decided that they may as well have dinner before they went back to Liz’s. It was starting to get dark as they headed out of the store they were in. Allie stopped in her tracks when she heard someone say her name, the voice was one she remembered.

“Allie…is that really you?”

Turning around quickly she recognised the figure walking towards them straight away.

“Mum?” Allie sounded shocked.

Bea looked back, hadn't Allie said that her mum was dead? Yeah she was sure she hadn't misheard that conversation. Turning around properly to get a better look at the woman who was approaching them she quickly realised that she was an older woman. Letting go of Debbie's hand Allie quickly walked towards her.

“Mum, where did you go? You were there and then you weren't.”

“You look good Allie. I'm sorry I never intended to just leave like that, got myself arrested.” She chuckled quietly.

“How are you? I mean you look good, better than good.” Allie said as she wrapped her arms around her hugging her as if she was scared she might vanish into thin air.

“Things are…different. But good. You look so much better than the last time I saw you.”

“Yeah. I finally did it, got clean. I knew I wouldn't last much longer out there.”

“Whatever you did its clearly been good for you.” She looked over where Bea and Debbie were still standing in the same spot. “So how are things now?”

“Where do I start?” Allie laughed. “Well obviously I'm not on any drugs. Got my own apartment but not for much longer, I'm moving in with Bea and her daughter Debbie soon. You might not believe it but I'm a nurse now.”

“Girlfriend huh? Looks like you did well there.”

“Something like that, it's not a question I've actually asked.” Allie sighed a little when she realised that maybe she'd got a little caught up in how well things had been going and never gave it a second thought. She wasn't even sure the question needed asking. They were hardly teenagers asking their crush to be their girlfriend, although making it official wasn't a bad idea.

“You better get back to them. I expect they're wondering why your talking to some old lag like me.”

“Bea would never think anything like that. She knows everything about me, she's never judged me for the things I did.” Allie smiled as she glanced over her shoulder. “Come over and meet them, please.”

A minute or two later Allie finally managed to convince her and she followed Allie over to them.

“Mum this is Bea and the little princess here is her daughter Debbie. Babe this is mum, shit sorry, Jeanette, Jeanette Brooks. I always called her mum cos she always looked out for me.”

“It's nice to meet you.” Bea held out her hand. “We were just going to have dinner, this one is starving again.” Bea chuckled as she pointed to Debbie. “You'd be more than welcome to join us if you have nothing else planned.”

Allie smiled brightly, it was just typical of Bea to think of something like that.

“I wouldn't want to be in the way.”

“You wouldn't be, honestly these two have had me on my feet all day and I could really use a sit down. The two of you could catch up properly and it is getting a little chilly.”

“It would be nice to spend some time with this one. She was always my favourite out of all the other young un’s.”

“It's settled then.” Bea smiled before turning her attention to Debbie. “What would you like Deb? And please don't say pizza again.”

“Can I have a burger?” Debbie asked shyly as she glanced at the woman stood beside Allie.

They walked a little further down the street before arriving at a diner that Bea knew quite well and the four of them headed inside. Finding an empty table straight away Bea sat next to Debbie who, as was normal for her shy around the new addition.

Allie explained everything that she'd done since the last time she'd seen Jeanette who sat listening intently.

“You've done so well Allie. I always knew you were smart, smarter than most. You didn't belong out there.”

“I know, I know it's not like ya didn't tell me that often enough.”

The conversation flowed easily, even Debbie ventured out of her shell a little more. Eventually she over excitedly talked about what her new bedroom was going to look like, well at least how she pictured it in her head. Trying to convince Bea that all her ideas were the greatest in living memory might still be a bit of a challenge but Debbie usually got her own way. And she'd figured out pretty quickly that if she really did want something that Bea wouldn't usually agree with she only had to get Allie on her side. Bea was putty in Allies hands and it hadn't gone unnoticed that morning when she didn't refuse to let her have the princess bedroom set.

For two hours they chatted about a lot of things, Jeanette turning a little pale when she first heard that Bea was a police officer. Bea had laughed saying that she couldn't have done anything wrong over the last few years on her patch because she'd never had cause to stumble across her. Allie enjoyed telling the story behind how they met and their subsequent meeting again a few hours later. As awful as those hours had been everything they had led to was something that neither of them regretted.

Jeanette had been a little hesitant to tell her story in front of Debbie but eventually gave Bea the highlights as Allie and Debbie fell into yet another conversation about her room.

“My husband, my late husband.” Jeanette sighed. “He became very ill, cancer…” She paused for a few seconds when she saw a flash of hurt in Beas eyes. “We’d been together for so many years, had a daughter, Lorraine. We were for the most part happy, we had a good life until he became ill. He begged me not to let him suffer and I told him there was no possible way I would help him end his life. Eventually though I watched as he started to suffer more and more, he became a shadow of his former self. Watching him like that was, it was unbearable. Eventually I did as he asked and ended his suffering. Naturally I was never walking away from that and ended up in Wentworth detention centre.”

Bea nodded as she listened, she thought of Maxine and made her mind up that she really had to go over and see her. Liz checked on her everyday and told her how she was but it was hardly the same as actually seeing her herself.

“When I was released let's say my daughter wanted nothing to do with me. She helped me find a place to live and then disappeared again. I was getting on fine, a little lonely and I missed the friends I had who were still inside but I was managing perfectly well. Then I had a fall and Lorraine took me in while I got back on my feet. Over heard a conversation between her and her husband, I found out exactly how unwelcome I was there. I left, made an excuse and…” she glanced over at Debbie and Allie before continuing. “I got caught shoplifting and was sent back to Wentworth. It was the only place that really felt like home anymore. Of course all that was before I ever ran into Allie.”

“How did you meet Allie?”

“When I was released again I was sent to a halfway house. An awful place, believe it or not it was much worse than being in prison. I had nowhere else to go but I left anyway. I'd been out on the streets for maybe a week or two when I literally stumbled over her in an alleyway. When she wasn't high we would talk for hours. Seemed to me she just needed someone to accept her for who she is…just like you do. She started calling me mum and it stuck, pretty soon all the young un’s that were around called me mum. Anyway you know how it is out there I'm sure, got myself arrested again right when she was spiralling completely out of control. The last time I was inside my granddaughter, Judith-Anne, came to visit me. Confided in me that she was pregnant, Lorraine was not happy. When I was released we got an apartment together and I help her out. I have my granddaughter and a great grandson but I never forgot about Allie. I went back to all the usual places I could think she'd be and no one ever knew what happened to her. I was so afraid that…that she'd overdosed. But look at her, I always knew she could go far if she could just get off the drugs, that poor excuse she had for a mother had a lot to answer for.”

“You two finished talking about me?” Allie asked.

“What makes you think we were talking about you?”

“Hmmm, let me think…maybe because I heard my name mentioned a couple of times.”

Bea excused herself to the bathroom taking Debbie with her.

“Are you going to ask her? Make it official? I mean you seem serious and that little one certainly loves you. You are serious about her?” Jeanette asked as soon as they were out of earshot.

“Why would you even ask me that? I love her, I love both of them. No ones ever treated me the way Bea does. And it's not been easy for her, let's just say she hasn't always had it easy.”

“And you live together?”

“Not officially, not yet anyway. I just never seem to be able to go home.” Allie laughed. “I didn't think I stood a chance with her when we first met, I figured friends was about as far as we'd get if I was lucky. She's just so, so perfect. She took her exam a few days ago for promotion to criminal investigator and she's still convinced she won't have passed. She just doesn't see what everyone else sees.”

“Now my ears are burning.” Bea joked as they walked back to the table. “I've taken care of the bill, I don't want to split your reunion up but I'm going to have to get sleepy here home.”

Allie pulled out a pen and piece of paper from her bag and scribbled down her number passing it to Jeanette. “Don't be a stranger aye? If you need anything just give me a call yeah?”

They said their goodbyes after leaving the diner and headed in their separate directions. Bea carried Debbie back to the car.

“I'm glad you had someone who looked out for you.” Bea said quietly.

“She always did, I shouldn't tell you this but she was an expert shoplifter, I quite possibly would have starved to death long before anything else killed me if it hadn't been for her.”

Bea understood completely even if she'd never been in that position herself. When she'd had to arrest any of the homeless people for shoplifting, especially when it was food they'd stolen, she'd always felt a little guilty. She'd been known not to release them at the earliest opportunity just so she could make sure they had a hot meal. Police station food might not always be the best but when you had nothing it would always be better than starving.

 

 

 

After putting Debbie to bed Bea found Allie sitting on the sofa deep in thought.

“You okay?” Bea asked as she sat down next to her.

“Yeah, just thinking.” Allie sighed.

“I know, think you need oiling I could hear the cogs turning.” Bea joked.

Allie laughed, no matter how she was feeling Bea always seemed to know what to say, knew how to cheer her up. “Yeah well it couldn't have sounded worse than your snoring, some nights it's impossible to get to sleep. Remind me to invest in some earplugs would ya.”

“Think an early night is called for.” Bea stood up. “Or you could just stay there.”

Laying in bed Allies brain would just not shut down, long after Bea had fallen asleep, her arm keeping her firmly in place she couldn't sleep. When she'd been sober enough to actually notice Jeanette seemed to have vanished into thin air she searched high and low. Vaguely remembered going to the hospital and being told that they couldn't give patient information out. She'd argued that simply confirming that she was there wasn't giving out information, earning her a personal escort from the premises. She'd been so desperate to find her she'd even dared enter a police station but never actually got as far as the front desk because cops didn't care, not about people like them. She turned her head and looked at the perfect creature laying beside her. No, there was one that would have cared, maybe might have helped her. A number of what ifs hit her when she had no use for what ifs. She couldn't change the past but she could influence the future and that was enough right now.

Jeanette and Kaz pushed to the side she knew Bea was the only real person to ever show her any actual kindness outside of the hospital. She was glad Bea had never seen her while she was so low. That was a place she was never letting herself go again. She'd rather die and feared she might if there was ever actually a next time.

“You're staring at me again.” Bea mumbled.

“Sorry.” Allie whispered back even though all truth be told she could never be sorry for being so unable to keep her eyes to herself.

“Hey, Alliecat go to sleep already.”

“Alliecat? Where did that come from?”

“Just thought of it, something Jeanette said earlier about her literally stumbling over ya in an alleyway.”

“Oh…I don't remember that, all I remember is her just being there.” That was the story of her life for so long and she knew it. There were big chunks of her life that she struggled to remember as if the memories were so bad that they might actual break her all over again. Send her back to the black hole she hadn't fallen into by accident but had rather been thrown into head first. She could recall bits a pieces. Every vaguely clear memory she had eventually seemed to blur like a poorly shot action photograph. All the colours would swirl and blend in her head until everything was unrecognisable. Sleep, she needed sleep. Turning over so her back was now facing Bea she grabbed her hand and pulled it more tightly over her. Feeling Bea press her front more firmly into her she felt safe again. She felt loved and wanted and as strange as that feeling had been the first time now it felt like home. Closing her eyes her head sunk deeper into her pillow.

“Goodnight beautiful, I love you.” Allie whispered into the darkness.

“Night Alliecat, love you more.” Bea mumbled.

“Not possible.”

“Hmmm, yeah…more than I though was humanly possible.” Bea finally mumbled back as Allie finally drifted into sleep.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Allie had told Bea for what felt like the hundredth time that ‘no news was good news.’ Bea wasn't buying it. She’d doubted herself when she'd walked into the exam and now three weeks later she was doubting herself even more. She'd asked Will everyday that week if he'd heard anything, unsurprisingly the answer was always the same. He hadn't, that it takes time to hear anything and that if she'd failed she'd already know.

“The one thing I can tell you is that if you'd have failed you'd know by now. Trust me I was left waiting for weeks.” Will tried to reassure Bea.

“That's a lot of help.” Bea huffed. “You remember I have next week off? Can't sort the house out and work.”

“If anything comes in I'll call you. You all ready for the move?”

“No.” Bea sighed. “Allies working all weekend but at least she's got some time off next week. Franky even used a couple of days so she can help.”

“Sounds to me like you'll be fine. It's a big thing for ya, leaving Liz's.” Will smiled.

He'd been surprised when she'd told him that she'd found the perfect house, especially since he thought she'd stay with Liz forever. He wasn't the only one who'd been of the same opinion. Franky had stopped trying to encourage her to do most things that made her even slightly uncomfortable. Meeting Allie had changed everything for her. No matter what the circumstances surrounding their first meeting. Bea would admit that she hadn't ever felt the same dread and anxiety that deadened her mind and her body whenever Allie was in close proximity. Had never felt the same apprehension that made her heart ricochet off her rib cage. Her heart did that but for entirely different reasons.

The rest of the day passed slowly. Phone calls, briefings and tracking down a witness who now didn't want to be found were always on the top of Beas ‘why can't someone else do it’ list. By five o'clock she couldn't wait to get out of the office and get home. She knew the next few days were going to be busy and sleeping alone wasn't something she was looking forward to. Allies night shifts would never be her favourite thing.

“If I hear anything I'll give you a call, enjoy the new house.” Will said as she was about to leave.

When he spoke Bea just looked at him as if he were a radio instead of a person who was waiting for a reply. Then she remembered her earlier frustration about her exam results, something she had since long forgotten. Words circulated in her head as if they were not ready to flow out into the world.

“Thanks.” She mumbled as she walked out of the door.

 

 

 

Early next morning Allie arrived home after what felt like one of the longest nightshifts ever. The sun was rising as a canopy of gold as the darkness surrendered. Walking quietly through the house she made her way to the bedroom where Bea was still peacefully sleeping barely under the covers. It was apparent to her that she must have tossed and turned for hours judging by how the sheets trailed on the floor. Kicking off her shoes she gently lay next to her, propping herself up on her elbow as she studied the face she'd wanted to see all night. She loved seeing her like this, so comfortable, no hint of anything troubling her etched across her features. Drifting off into her thoughts she didn't notice Bea open her eyes a few minutes later, a small smile on her lips.

“Allie.” She said quietly not wanting to scare her. She hadn't felt her lay on the bed when she'd entered their room but she'd known Allies eyes were on her. It made no sense to her how she knew but she always did.

“You know I hate being stared at when I'm asleep right?”

“Sorry.” Allie whispered as she lay down letting her head sink into the pillow. “I missed you and the image in my head hardy compares to see the real thing.”

“Really?” Bea asked.

“Yes really and you know it's true. You telling me you didn't miss me?”

“Always.”

“Good.” Allie lightly chuckled as she reached her hand up skimming her fingers down Beas cheek before placing a gentle kiss on her lips. She could stay in this moment for the rest of the day but that just wasn't possible. Bea had a busy day ahead of her and she needed to sleep. The prospect of two more night shifts while Bea did everything at the house wasn't something she was looking forward to. She needed to sleep while Bea did all the hard work, that wasn't the way Allie had intended it to be. She wanted to help but once more work got in the way of her plans.

“Let me get you some breakfast.” Allie smiled wanting to make at least the start of her day a little easier.

Bea smiled. “You don't have to do that you've been at work all night.” Right now she couldn't think of anything better than just laying in bed for another few hours holding Allie while she slept.

“I want to, I'm not even tired yet.” Allie tried to hide her yawn. “You get ready I'll make you something, I just know you'll end up skipping lunch.”

Bea tried to argue but just like always she knew she was fighting a losing battle. She was stubborn she knew that but she could never win this kind of argument.

Bea stood under the steamy stream of water part of her dreading the amount of work she knew she had to look forward to. It was going to be worth it though, for the first time she wanted this. She wanted a relationship with Allie, wanted to wake up with her every morning and fall asleep with her every night. It wouldn't always be possible she was very aware of that. Allies shift rotation would always mean nights shifts and and so would Beas if she had to go back to general duties. If not then she'd be on call one weekend a month and would be expected to turn up if there was an emergency no matter what time it was or what she was doing. Living in the same house had the advantage that even when work decided to screw them over at the very least they'd see each other for a few minutes everyday. The thought of asking Allie to move in with them had terrified her at her first, the more she'd thought about it though the less the fear mattered. No one had ever affected her the way Allie did. It had taken her head a lot longer than the rest of her body to catch onto the idea that from the first moment she'd set eyes on her something felt different. Something that for the first time in her life had actually felt right.

Making her way to the kitchen in search of Allie she looked around the house that she'd called home for the last three years. The brick walls had been her cocoon for all that time, a place of sanctuary, the only place she'd ever truly felt safe since leaving her parents home. It had been hard at first and she'd cried more tears than she thought one person had the right to. These walls had witnessed every emotion she'd experienced during that time, her pain and anger, her happiness and laughter and now the love she'd found that she never expected. Leaving was never going to be easy but she had made the decision and stuck to it. Now only time would tell if she'd made the best decision or the worst possible mistake. It couldn't and wouldn't be the worst mistake she'd ever made, she knew that really, the worst mistake she'd ever made was getting involved with Harry. As bad as that had been at least one thing so beautiful and precious had come from it. She'd live another lifetime exactly the same way if it gave her Debbie, and it led straight to Allie as well. It may have seemed like the most awful decision ever when she'd chosen to take him back but it was that decision that had led her here. If she'd have taken Franky's advice sure she'd have Debbie but it was quite possible she'd never have met Allie. Decisions she decided would always outweigh what other people said was fate. Actions and consequences, cause and effect, that's what brought her to this point in her life not some unseen force.

Leaving was never going to be easy, but she would take every memory ever made within these walls with her. She'd imagined leaving many times before, seeing Debbie in tears about leaving Liz behind and Liz being stoic. She'd pack what the two of them owned and just go but it never worked out like that. Even when she'd considered leaving and moving to New Zealand to be closer to her mum and dad she couldn't quite bring herself to go through with planning it never mind actually doing it. Today she was making a fresh start, leaving her protective cocoon and starting a new life with Allie and Debbie. Well not entirely for the first few days, between the painting that she needed to get done, Debbie's room being top of that list. Furniture delivers and just generally making the place comfortable it had been agreed that they'd stay with Liz even if it was only to have a bed to sleep in.

“What's going on in that head of yours?” Allie asked after placing a plate down in front of Bea with one hand and tucking her hair behind her hair behind her ear with the other.

“Just thinking about all the times I've thought of leaving and could never quite do anything about it.”

“So what's changed so much now?” Allie asked as she sat down next to her.

“You.” Bea smiled. “You make me want to be better, make me want to change the things I never thought I could.”

“I don't want you to do something because of me. I don't want you to end resenting me, feeling like I made you do this.”

Bea shook her head. “You haven't and I won't.” Bea looked at her seriously as she rested her hand on her thigh. “I've thought about it so many times before. Staying was easier. I still don't know how all this will work out even with Liz helping us with school runs. School holidays might be even more of a problem. This isn't going to be easy, for either of us.”

“I know, I just wish I hadn't had to work an extra night shift. I wanted to help and now I'm no use until at least Tuesday afternoon.” Allie sighed a little. They'd agreed to do this together and work getting in the way hadn't been part of anyone's plan.

“You don't have to worry about it. Franky and Booms are helping me. Fletch promised to look in over the weekend, he can't do much but we can always send him out for food.” Bea laughed.

“But I wanted to help more.” Allie whined.

“And you will, I'm fine to be left to paint and put things together but your jobs going to be so much more important. I don't know where half of that stuff you and Deb picked out is going to go. Did you forget the spare room is full of…of god knows what you bought.”

“Hey, we need accessories or would you rather live in a house with absolutely no colour?”

“Like I said your job is way more important, I have no clue where to start.”

 

 

 

Franky and Boomer were late arriving. Bea sat out on the steps waiting for them, there was absolutely nothing for her to do until they arrived with the paint. They had one day to get everything finished. Thankfully there wasn't too much to do before the furniture started being delivered. Hearing music getting closer she knew that it could mean only one thing, Franky and Boomer were finally there.

“What time do you call this?” Bea asked as she dragged herself up from the step she'd been occupying.

“Not my fault.” Boomer huffed as she glared at Franky. “We went to pick the paint up that ya ordered and that idiot dropped a tin.” She pointed down at the left leg of her jeans.

Bea burst out laughing. “Sorry Booms maybe letting Deb have her own way with the colour scheme for her room wasn't such a great idea.”

“Yeah like who the fuck paints anythin pink Red?” Franky chuckled as she looked over at Boomer. “Ya lettin that kid rule the roost. And I had to replace the fuckin tin.”

“Piss off Franky, she wanted pink she gets pink, besides its only one wall. Think we should let Booms take care of it though.”

Boomer wandered around the house after the three of them had brought everything inside. When Franky had told her Bea was buying a house she'd been sceptical. She heard her say she was thinking about it once or twice but it had generally been when they had been drinking. One too many beers and Bea let her thoughts out into the world for anyone who cared to listen. Of course until now she'd always done nothing but think about it. Telling Franky she'd believe it when she saw it she'd thought no more about it until she'd been asked to help. Even on the ride over to Bunnings warehouse for the paint and the rest of the supplies on Franky's list she hadn't believed it. Seeing the house, the smile on Beas face made it all real.

“So ya like gonna have a party when ya get all moved in right?” Boomer grinned when she found her way back to the kitchen.

“Hadn't thought about it Booms.” Bea admitted, the only thing on her mind right now was doing what needed to be done.

“Ya gotta, it's a rule.” Boomer almost bounced over to where Bea and Franky were standing.

“Is that right?” Bea laughed knowing Boomer would use any excuse possible for a party. “Think I'll have to ask Allie what she thinks. She might not want a house full of drunken slobs lounging around on her cushions.”

“Right…so I can ask her myself…which room is hers? I'll make sure I do a real good job of it so she can't say no.”

“Err, Booms…” Franky wrapped he arm around her shoulders. “Booms…mate…blondie don't need her own room.” Franky paused waiting for the penny to drop.

“Na, na course she does cos Bea said she was movin in. Where's she gonna sleep the fuckin sofa?”

“Ahhh Booms!” Franky's voice was tinged with a little frustration. “Bea an Allie share a room, their together.”

Boomer furrowed her eyebrows together as confusion engulfed her and she remained silent for what felt like hours. “But I fort…fuck…shit! When did that happen?” Boomer looked at Bea. “Na, ya got it wrong Franks, Bea…?”

“Yes Booms, we're together.”

“Oh, okay…that's cool yeah. So I better do good job in your room then?”

“No Booms.” Bea laughed. “There's nothing to paint in there, it's fine as it is.”

“Right…so I better do do a real good job in Debs, where's the paint?”

The three of them worked smoothly together for the rest of the day. Boomer had a hundred different questions swimming around in her head but didn't stop working long enough to ask. Finishing Debbie's room after taking her time to make sure she did it perfectly she'd moved on to the living room to tackle the wall Bea had told her needed painting. Sinking down to the floor an hour later to take a break she heard the front door open and Allies voice.

“Don't know where they are but I'm in here.” She called out.

“Hey Booms.” Allie greeted her cheerfully. “You look all in, Bea working ya too hard?”

“Na, just takin a break.”

“Thought I heard your voice.” Bea walked up behind Allie wrapping her arms around her waist. “But what are you doing here?”

“I brought pizza, I'm guessing none of you ate lunch.”

“Where is it?” Boomer asked making Bea laugh. Boomer had one speed most of the time unless drinking was part of the plan. Today the mention of pizza was having the same effect.

“In the kitchen.” Allie chuckled as they watched Boomer disappear.

 

 

 

By Tuesday afternoon Bea had left Allie at the house completely unsure what she was going to do with everything she'd bought. She was sure judging by the amount of bags she had she could quite possibly spend the rest of the week find places to put everything. Every item of furniture had been delivered over the last two days. Now Beas main focus was on packing everything up that they had at Liz’s and moving it to the house. They still had to pack Allies apartment up but as she'd pointed out, her rent was paid up until the end of the month. Unless a sudden act of god demolished the place nothing she had there was going anywhere. The vast majority of her clothes had moved into Liz's with her anyway and Bea had the packing well in hand already.

Packing Debbie's toys and books away in boxes seemed to be taking forever. She was sure she didn't remember her having quite so many but then Debbie always put her toys away when she wasn't playing with them. A sudden thought struck her that she wanted to run past Allie.

“Miss me already?” Allie giggled.

“I do but that's not why I was calling you.”

“You aren't going to tell me you've let Booms talk you into having a housewarming party tonight. I'm sorry but if you have you'll just have to change that plan, I'm really not through with the place Yet.”

“No.” Bea laughed. “I haven't seen Booms. I wanted to ask you if you'd had any more thoughts about what to do with that spare room. I mean we agreed neither of us needs an office.”

“You mean the one off the dining room? I haven't given it any thought. I'm guessing you have though.”

“Kind of. So I'm packing Debs toys and I can't believe how many she has…”

“You want to use it as a play room?”

“How do you do that?”

“I can read your mind babe, even over the phone.” Allie chuckled. “I think it's a great idea. Does that mean more shopping?”

“I guess.” Bea groaned. “You and Deb can work it out over the weekend.”

Ending the call a couple of minutes later Bea went back to packing. Debbie was way more spoilt than Bea liked to admit. Buying her almost everything she asked for, even if it was only at her birthday and Christmas probably wasn't the best decision. If she ever got her exam results she'd know one way or the other where she was going to be working. It was taking too long and she was getting frustrated. Having more time at home would suit her better, would benefit them all. Certainly benefit Debbie, sometimes even on a three shift rotation Allie seemed to have more time to spend with her. Hearing the front door slam shut and Debbie's feet running up the stairs Bea was already preparing herself for what ever Debbie was going to say.

“Mummy!” Debbie said sternly. “I wanted to help you do that, I don't need all these toys.”

“You can still help me baby, you do have little too much stuff.”

Debbie sat on the floor next to Bea and noticed her empty bookshelf. “Can I stay here with Gma Liz tonight?” She asked quietly.

“You'll have to ask Gma Liz, don't you want to see your new room now it's finished?”

“I do but what if Gma Liz gets lonely?”

Bea smiled, sometimes it was just too hard to believe that Debbie was only five. When other kids her age only worried about not missing their favourite cartoon Debbie worried about the people she loved.

“You remember Allies picking you up tomorrow from school while I go to see Maxine.”

Debbie nodded, she'd been asking why Allie never picked her up without Liz being there. Bea hadn't wanted to make Allie feel like she was expecting her to take on too much responsibility for Debbie. Asking her if she wanted to be put on Debbie's approved list of people who could pick her up she agreed straight away. It made sense Allie had thought, Liz would be able to have some extra time to do whatever she needed to do without always having to worry. Allie had wanted to ask Bea about it before she even brought the subject up. Debbie had been excited that morning when both Bea and Allie were able to take her to school, although she'd still expected Liz to pick her up. After seeing the school secretary and having Allie added to the list that had only ever contained Liz and Franky Allie had been even happier. Bea trusting her with the most precious thing in her life was a big deal, not that Bea really thought it was. Debbie loved Allie, wanted to spend time with her so it was only natural that she should be able to pick her up from school.

Debbie got up from the floor and ran out of her room bumping into Liz at the top of the stairs as she was looking for them wanting to find out if they needed any help.

“Gma Liz, mummy said I have to ask you if I can stay with you tonight.”

“And why would you want to do that? Don't you have a new bedroom waiting for you?”

“Yeah…”

“And I'll see you tomorrow after school when I come over. Aren't you looking forward to Allie picking you up?”

“Yeah…I just want to stay one more night, please.”

“One more night as long as it's okay with your mum and Allie.”

“How can I ask Allie if she's not here?” Debbie threw her arms up.

Bea had a simple suggestion, the four of them could have dinner together at the new house. Debbie could ask Allie what she thought to her spending the night with Liz and show Liz her bedroom. Everyone won, even though Bea knew that Allie would feel that it wasn't her place to have an opinion. No matter what Bea said sometimes Allie still felt unsure, it happened less than it used to but it still happened.

Bea placed a quick call to Allie asking her what she wanted for dinner getting the reply that she'd already been out and was already preparing dinner. After spending a little more time packing she decided to call it a day. Packing some of the boxes from Debbie's room in her car before they set off.

Following Debbie and Liz into the house Bea was stumped when she walked into the living room. She'd never expected it to look so good. She was well aware that Allie had maybe gone a little over bored on the accessories. None of it they'd chosen together but as she looked around she decided instantly that she loved it. Bea would be the first to admit that she'd like to keep things simple, clean lines and neutral colours but the burnt orange and red accessories set the room apart from any other. The sofa looked better than she remembered it looking now it was sprinkled liberally with vibrant cushions. Allie had even put up almost all the photographs they had decided should be in there. Everyone of them a happy memory, Debbie as a baby, birthday parties and days at the beach were all looking back at her. The only thing she thought was missing were pictures of the three of them together, something she aimed to rectify very soon.

Above the radio playing in the kitchen she could hear Debbie chatting excitedly before pulling Liz in the direction of her bedroom. Something Bea hoped she'd got right, Debbie hadn't seen it since they had finished it. The scent of whatever Allie was cooking was hanging in the air, this wasn't just a house it was a home. It may not be quite as they both wanted it right now but given time it would be perfect. It would be their home, a place full of laughter and a place to rest after a long day or night at work. From outside on the street it may look like just bricks and mortar topped with tile just like any other house. Stepping inside though it was like no other, at least not for her. This would from now on be a place where she could breath a little easier and her heart could beat a little steadier. For the first time in her life she felt like she had a real home that she was determined would be filled with nothing but love, peace and happiness.

 

Chapter Text

 

After taking Liz home Bea returned home to find Allie and Debbie on the sofa. Strangely she'd completely forgotten about staying with Liz as soon as she'd seen her room. Debbie for some reason having chosen to lay her head on Allies leg while the rest of her body was stretched out. It had felt more than a little strange taking Liz back to her house and leaving her alone. For the last three years it had been home and now she would just be a visitor every time she went over. Liz would never see it that way, telling Bea more than once that it would always be their home should they ever need it. Half of Debbie's toys were still there and she intended to pick them up the next day after she'd seen Maxine. A few would stay there though, it wouldn't be fair to take everything since Liz would still be helping them out. And Debbie would never settle if she couldn't stay over sometimes. It was already hard enough for Debbie, taking her away from the only real home she'd ever had hadn't been an easy decision. Bea had thought long and hard about it coming to the conclusion that it had to be done. She'd relied on Liz and Franky for almost everything. Of course sometimes she now found herself worrying that she was just doing the same with Allie. The closer they had become the more she'd realised that it wasn't the same, and finally admitting her real feelings had been difficult. It was unexpected, she'd never looked at another person, male or female, the way she did Allie. And she'd been scared that she would get hurt even though Allie had done nothing to make her doubt her. The scariest thought that crossed her mind countless times was that she would end up hurting Allie, although those thoughts were beginning to lessen.

Standing in the doorway she looked at the pair of them. Surprisingly they didn't have the tv on and that was generally Debbie's favourite thing to do when she was just lazing around. They were talking quietly and hadn't even heard Bea walk back into the house. She'd watched the bond between them get stronger and she couldn't be happier that Debbie had someone else in her life who clearly loved and cared for her. The fear was still there that Allie might at some point change her mind. She knew she understood that Debbie would always have to be her priority, Allie understood way more than she gave herself credit for. Allie may protest that her lack of experience with children meant she didn't know what she was doing but Bea knew she was wrong. She trusted her implicitly with Debbie. The bond that had grown between the pair seemed eternal. The grand prize for Debbie at least because it was what she had been missing.

“There room on there for me?” Bea asked as she walked into the living room.

“Of course there is silly, but this is my space.” Debbie giggled as Bea came into view.

“Is that right? And what if I wanted to sit there?”

“You can sit at the other side.” Debbie said simply as she rolled her eyes.

When the time came for Debbie to go to bed she wasn't happy, pointing out that it was a school night Debbie grumbled a little more.

“But I'm not even even tired yet.” Debbie yawned as she sat up.

“Sure you aren't.” Allie giggled. “I'll do you a deal, you go and start getting ready and I'll come read to you.”

“Deal.” Debbie jumped off the sofa and headed to her room.

Bea laughed. “You know if I'd have said that she'd have argued a little more?”

“Can I help it if I'm better at reading bedtime stories than you?” Allie threw in as she was about to get up.

“Wait, I feel like I haven't seen you all day.” Bea grabbed her hand as Allie turned to look at her. “We've been so caught up with everything else I don't want you to think I've forgotten about you.” Bea leaned in a placed a gentle kiss on Allies lips.

“I know ya haven't, the thought never even occurred to me. Just a couple more days and everything should be sorted out. When you take Deb to school in the morning I'll go and pack the rest of my things, hand the keys in and come straight home.”

“You'll be careful? I know I might sound paranoid but no one really knows what's happening over there. How about I call Booms and have her meet you there?”

“I can look after myself.” Allie chuckled. “I've been doing it since I was a kid remember?”

Before Bea could reply Debbie called out to Allie.

“Sounds like I'm being summoned. If it makes you feel better call Booms, if she doesn't mind then it's fine.” Allie wasn't going to cause an argument over it. She struggled sometimes when Bea seemed overprotective or worried about her. Not that she didn't appreciate her concern but because she'd never had anyone care so much. She'd looked after herself for more years than she even cared to remember, it would just take some time to get used to. For so long she hadn't even cared if she were safe herself, living the life she once had it never seemed to matter. Now though she had everything she'd convinced herself was out of her grasp, something that was only meant for other people.

Maybe she was being overprotective or just overly cautious, Bea really wasn't sure what it was but something told her that at any moment something was going to happen. Not necessarily to Allie but anything that involved Vinnie Holt was a risk. Him owning the apartment complex and knowing he wanted it empty meant anything could happen. Personally she'd never dealt with him but after talking to officers who had there was little doubt that he was capable of anything. Everyone knew that he was one of the biggest suppliers of drugs in Melbourne but it had never been proven. Vinnie Holt and his wife it seemed were untouchable and every cop in the area knew why, proving it was another matter entirely. He'd been arrested for conspiracy to murder but no charge ever stuck. Bates and Taylor may be locked away on remand but there was still the issue of the building manager who apparently appeared and disappeared at will. Allie was street smart she was very aware of that, probably more than Bea ever would be. Her job brought her into contact with all kinds of people and she never seemed to worry about it. Bea just couldn't shake the feeling that something was hanging in the air. She could ditch her visit to Maxine and go with her but Allie wouldn't be happy with her if she did. Bea had made plans and Allie wouldn't let her change them just because she had a feeling something was wrong.

Allie rested her back against the headboard while Debbie lay on her side, one arm over Allies legs reading tonight's book of choice. Maybe, Allie thought, it was actually just the first one Debbie had pulled from the, as yet, unpacked boxes. Not that it mattered, she'd admit without any protest that she loved reading to her.

“What day is it?,”asked Winnie the Pooh.

"It's today,” squeaked Piglet.

“My favourite day,” said Pooh. Allie read aloud before Debbie interrupted with another question.

“What's your favourite day?”

“Good question.” Allie paused for a second or two even though the answer was so easy for her to give, it didn't require even a moments thought. “I'd have to say any day I get to spend with you and your mum.”

“Good answer! I like those days too.” Debbie smiled back at her.

“Of course you do, it's nice for you to just spend time with your mum.” The hint of a worry crept back into Allies mind that maybe Debbie would sometimes prefer it if she wasn't always around.

“No silly, I like being with you and mummy, it's more fun.”

“And are you saying that I'm no fun without Allie?” Bea laughed from the doorway.

“No it's just more fun when we're all together.” Debbie said seriously before another yawn found its way into the world.

“You're right.” Bea smiled as she crossed the room locking eyes with Allie for a few seconds. “What do you say after school tomorrow we check out that park?”

“Allie to?”

“Of course Allie to…if she wants to.”

 

 


“How's the new house?” Maxine asked with a small smile as she slid a coffee over to Bea.

“It's coming together.”

“And you and Allie?” Maxine pressed. There was nothing she'd ever wanted more than to see Bea finally happy.

“I came over to see you not not talk about me.” Bea said seriously.

“Bea! I need to know you're fine. Just humour me okay?”

“Everything's good…better than, great even. Allies doing her first solo school run later, that could be interesting. She's so good with her you know, I'm sure I could go missing for a couple of days and Deb wouldn't even notice as long as Allie was around.”

Maxine chuckled as she turned her gaze to the coffee mug in front of her. “I don't have to worry about you anymore. You deserve it, happiness looks good on you.”

“Yeah…I didn't think it was possible to be this happy. Sometimes I wake up and I think I must be dreaming, and the strangest thing…I haven't had a single nightmare...”

For the next hour they chatted about everything from Boomers run in with a tin of pink paint to Beas lack of exam results. Neither of them really wanted to broach the conversation that they knew was inevitable. When they fell into an unusual silence Maxine looked like she were on guard, more defensive than Bea remembered having ever seen her. Beas face settled in a serious expression suddenly feeling guilty for feeling so happy. It wasn't right and it certainly wasn't fair, Maxine was one of the most good natured and big hearted people she knew. Life could be so cruel, and it seemed that it was always the best people who had to suffer the most.

“I wanted to tell you this myself.” Maxine looked pained, as if the load she were carrying was far too much for both of them let alone for her to carry alone. “The chemo alone isn't enough to fight this.”

Bea felt as if all the happiness that she's been carrying around for the last few weeks has just vanished, evaporated with every word that Maxine just said. She knew Liz had been spending every free minute of the day with Maxine. Bea hadn't asked why because it wasn't hard to guess that things were worse than Maxine wanted people to know.

“I was hoping that the chemo would shrink the tumours enough for a lumpectomy.” Maxine sighed as she looked away. She'd hoped not to need to have this conversation, especially not with Bea, not now she was happy. Bea of all people deserved happiness, she didn't want to be responsible for bringing her anymore unhappiness surly she'd had enough to last a lifetime.

Beas not stupid, she's trying unsuccessfully to prepare herself for whatever she's going to hear next. She wishes she could shut it all out, not have to hear the direction she knows this conversation is going in. Maxine is a friend, a very good friend and it feels like her next words might just feel like a bomb going off in her head. The thought of what she's about to hear sends a chill through her whole body.

“The truth is it's not working as well as I'd hoped. I…” Maxine paused and cleared her throat. “I have to have a double mastectomy.” She finally managed to force the words out, almost inaudibly in the hope that Bea wouldn't really hear what she's saying. As if her words are said so quietly they can't possibly carry the same weight, can't deliver an ounce of pain.

The words roll over Bea like an old tank, slow and painful, crushing her a little as they carry on as if nothing has happened, like they never existed at all. There's nothing she can do about it, what she just heard makes her feel physically sick. Nothing she can say can change anything, nothing can make any of this better.

“Maxi, I'm so sorry…” Bea mutters, ‘sorry,’ sorry isn't enough, doesn't make it better, doesn't take it away. Right now though she's lost the will to think, can't formulate a single sentence in her head never mind get any other words out. Words just don't seem to exist right now, they do, she knows they do but how the hell can she say anything other than sorry?

“It's a hard decision to make, I've thought about it until I was sure I'd give myself a nose bleed. You know me, you know how hard I've had to fight to get right here.” Maxine looks at Bea seeing the confirmation she expected in her eyes. She's going to struggle to say this she knows that and she knows what Bea is going to say. “I can't, I just can't…how can I just let them cut my breasts off? I fought so hard to be here, to be who I really am, I didn't go through all that just to have it all ripped away from me.”

Bea doesn't know what to say, she has no answers doesn't quite know how she's supposed to react. Maxine has always been honest with her closest friends and Bea had always been proud to call her a friend. Maxine was strong, a person for so long she'd wished she could be like.

“I haven't told anyone else yet, Liz knows, now you. Boomers been great, she's over here almost as much as Liz. I can't think how I'm going to break it to her, or Franky. How do you tell Booms that you've made the decision that will kill you?”

“And…and nothing will change your mind?” Bea almost choked on her words.

“I doubt it.” Maxine looked away for a few moments. “You think I'm selfish don't you? I could have the operation and keep living. For me though…I'm not sure I'd say that was living. Allowing them to take parts of me that make me me.”

Bea nodded, knowing Maxine's history didn't make any of this any easier and it didn't make finding the words to express what she felt any less of a challenge.

“Is it so wrong to want to live for what ever time I have left on my own terms? To be able to keep the body that I fought so hard to have. No one accepted me my whole life until I met Liz…then you and Franky became a part of my life, neither of you judged me, looked at me as if I were any less of a person. And then there's Booms, crazy, impossible to reason with Booms. And I don't want to leave any of you, if there were another way I'd take it. My family turned their backs on me and I was lost even to myself. Then I had all of you, you became my family and I love you all so much.”

“I get where you're coming from…” Bea wiped her eyes before her tears managed to escape. “I wish there was something I could do, take it all away and make it better. I don't want to lose you, none of us do. And I'm selfish because I want you to get to know Allie better and watch Debbie grow up.” Bea shook her head. “But I won't try and talk you into something that makes you unhappy.”

“I have to give the doctor my answer on Monday, you all have a few days to convince me that I'm wrong. That losing part of myself isn't the end of the world.” Maxine smiled, a small smile that told Bea that there was still a chance that Maxine wasn't completely against being persuaded to change her mind.

 

 


“Allieee!” Debbie's excited voice rang out when she saw Allie really was waiting for her. “Are we still going to the park?” She asked excitedly.

“Of course, we'll go home and get you snack first. Can't have you telling your mum that I haven't fed you.”

“You wouldn't let me starve, you love me too much.” Debbie grabbed Allies hand as they walked back to the car. “My friend Shane might be at the park later.” She said innocently.

“Yeah? Does he live near us?” Allie was sure she remembered hearing about this friend before. Wasn't he the one who had been in the hospital.

Debbie shrugged. “Don't know where he lives, no one is allowed to go to his house or he gets in trouble.”

Making sure Debbie was buckled in properly Allie didn't like the sound of what Debbie had just said. Debbie had friends over even when Bea was at work Liz loved having the house full of their chatter and laughter. As she slid into the drivers seat though she didn't remember any of those friends being called Shane.

“Doesn't Shane's mum like him having his friends over?” Allie probed gently, she couldn't shake the uneasy feeling she'd got.

“He doesn't live with his mummy…she can't look after him.” Debbie looked thoughtful for a minute as Allie waited for her to continue. “Shane told me she's an…alc…alca…alca…”

“Alcoholic?” Allie offered.

“What you just said.” Debbie grinned. “He lives with other people and they don't like him…and their mean to him.”

“They take him to the park sometimes though?” Allie asked even though she was sure the answer was no. She knows what kids do when the person who's meant to take care of them doesn't, couldn't care less if they are there or not. She lived like that, she remembers quite easily what she did.

“No.” Debbie shook her head. “They don't care what he does so he just goes wherever he likes.”

Allie hated knowing that a five year old could be treated like that, she knew how it felt she'd been treated the same way. Except in her case she'd been controlled so easily by the forced use of drugs. She'd felt abandoned and no one seemed to notice that she'd felt so very alone. She could have screamed and begged but no one would have noticed. Nothing ever stopped her suffering, the erosion of her emotions. The memory still hurt, the way she had yearned for love but eventually rejected anyone who tried to show it to her.

Arriving at the park later than she'd planned after texting Allie letting her know she'd be late Bea thought her heart might melt when she watched Debbie running across the playground towards Allie. Allie picked her up and pulled her into her arms as Debbie snuggled into her. What she saw in front of her was the one thing that she'd always wanted for Debbie, the one thing she'd convinced herself she'd never be able to give her because she she'd been so adamant that she would never let anyone close enough to hurt her again. Letting Allie in wasn't something she'd planned on doing it just happened, no conscious or unconscious thought seemed to have had any part to play in it. Before she knew it she was falling for her and nothing could have stopped that.

She stood back and watched for a while longer as she saw Debbie run off again in the direction of a boy a little shorter and lot skinnier than she was. Even from where she was standing she could see the tell tale blues of bruising on his arms and given the chill in the air she was surprised he wasn't wearing a jacket. Debbie spotted her as she walked towards the bench that Allie was sitting on, she took off running leaving Shane looking puzzled. He'd never seen Bea before and seeing Debbie with Allie he'd assumed that she must be her mum.

Before Bea could say a word Debbie asked the question that had been playing on her mind, or rather on her stomach for the last few minutes.

“Can we eat now?”

Allie rolled her eyes. “You had a snack not even an hour ago.”

“A snack…I'm starving.”

“When aren't you? Go play with your friend for a little while longer and then we'll go and get some food.”

Debbie soon ran back to where Shane was waiting for her leaving Bea and Allie to shake their heads.

“Wish I had that much energy.” Bea laughed as she sat down. “Any idea who Debs friend is?”

“I think that's Shane.” Allie sighed as she looked at Bea.

“How would you feel if we invited everyone over for dinner on Saturday? Maxine's not in a good place, I thought maybe…”

“You don't have to ask, what do you need me to do?”

“Just be there…keep an eye on Deb and Booms for me, get to know Maxi a little better.”

“I can easily do all of those things.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes watching Debbie and Shane chasing each other around and laughing. Bea was glad Debbie had friends, even if they had moved a little further away she intended to make sure that she could spend time with them outside of school.

Debbie and Shane sat down on a bench on the other side of the playground as Bea and Allie watched on.

“You think Shane's in trouble?” Bea asked concern evident in her voice.

“I don't think he's living in a good place. Deb told me that the people he lives with don't care where he is. He's clearly a good kid and Deb loves him.”

Debbie raced back across the playground towards Bea and Allie, stopping right in front of them.

“I'm starving!” She announced loudly.

“Okay trouble.” Bea chuckled. “Why don't you bring your friend with you he must be starving to after all that racing around.”

Debbie looked down at the floor. “I don't think he can.” She mumbled.

“Go ask him Deb, if he's in trouble I'm sure we can help him.”

Debbie took off again heading for where she'd left Shane but no matter how hard she looked she couldn't find him. Shane wasn't sure if Bea or Allie was Debbie's mum now, all he knew was what Debbie had told him about her mum. A police officer, they were as bad in his experience as a social worker. Even at five years old he knew that both had only ever spelled trouble for him. They'd both taken him away from his mum and sent him someplace worse. He was never going to forget that day when a social worker arrived at their house with the police to take him away. He missed his mum, even if she didn't take the best care of him he loved her. The foster home he was living in was worse he thought. They didn't want him, cared for him less than his mum had. He knew if Debbie's mum took him back he'd only get hit again, not that they needed an excuse to hit him, or not feed him. He hid in the bushes in plane sight waiting for Debbie to give up her search so he could leave unseen.

“Can't find him.” Debbie shrugged. “Maybe he went home.”

Bea was worried but there wasn't a great deal she could do if he didn't want to be found right now. “Come on then, let's get you fed…maybe go see a movie?”

Allie hadn't expected Bea to suggest a movie on a school night although she wouldn't say no to eating out. Bea had driven there straight from Maxine's so they had no need to go home first. Debbie had already decided that she wanted a burger leaving them both to shake their heads. Her usual choice was either a burger or pizza so neither of them should have been surprised. Bea wanted to try and forget Maxine's earlier revelations as she drove to the diner the three of them had decided on. Debbie squirmed in her seat as her stomach growled listening to Bea and Allie talking. Nothing they said mattered to her, her head was preoccupied as she imagined the burger she was going to have. The closer they got the slower time seemed to go as her stomach rumbled again.

The waitress at the diner shook her head when Debbie refused to order anything from the kids menu. Letting her know not so quietly that she'd need to order at least three burgers from that menu unless she wanted her to starve.

“She has a black hole for a stomach.” Allie had offered when she saw the look on the waitresses face.

When their food finally arrived Debbie bounced a little in her chair like she was dancing to music only she could hear. Her face was a picture of concentration from the first bite of her burger, every meal, as Allie had come to realise, was serious business to Debbie.

After dinner Debbie already knew what movie she wanted to see. Wonder Park as Debbie told both of them was about an amusement park in the woods.

“You're obviously trying to get to get something off your mind.” Allie whispered after looking down at Debbie who had fallen asleep half an hour into the movie.

“I'll tell you.” Bea forced a small smile. “Just not here.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Bea lay in Allie arms tearfully telling her everything Maxine had told her earlier in the day. Allie had no words, knew nothing she could say would take her pain away. She'd seen too many families already in her short time at the hospital who had received bad news to know that words, no matter how well meaning or heartfelt could completely relieve even a tiny amount of what they were feeling. She had wondered why Bea hadn't appeared to have gone over to Liz's to collect Debbie's remaining toys and books but hadn't bothered to ask since she'd let her know she was running late. Now all she wanted to do was hold her because she couldn't think of anything worse than seeing the person she loved more than anything hurting so much.

“She won't change her mind…I..I…just know it.” Bea sobbed against her shoulder.

Allie didn't know Maxine well enough to form an opinion so remained silent, listening to every word she said. Holding her in the hope that she knew that no matter what happened now or in the future she wouldn't be alone. Eventually her sobs died away her breathing even out and she finally fell asleep. Even then Allie didn't want to fall asleep, didn't want her to wake up a few minutes later and think that Allie didn't care enough to be there for her completely.

Allie knew Bea hadn't slept well, she'd woken up every time she had started tossing and turning again. When the alarm had sounded an hour ago Bea hadn't even heard it confirming to Allie just how tired she was. Leaving her to sleep Allie had slipped out of bed and and got ready for the day ahead.

“You don't have to do all of this alone anymore.” Allie said softly after grabbing Beas hand and pulling her in close, wrapping her arms around her waist after she appeared in the kitchen doorway.

“I know I'm just not used to having anyone apart from Liz help me the way you do.” Bea mumbled against her shoulder.

“I always will, now…don't start rushing around. Everything's fine, Debs eating her breakfast and I'll help her get ready for school. All you need to do is get a coffee down you and relax.”

“You're forgetting taking Deb to school.”

“No I haven't. That was next on my list of things to do this morning.” Allie laughed softly.

“No…I mean I want to come with you.” Bea pulled away a little looking Allie in the eye. “I want to see who, if anyone takes Shane to school. We'll go together.”

Bea insisted that she was staying in the car when they arrived at the school. She'd managed to find a parking space that morning that gave her full view of the school gates and the street in both directions. Arriving five minutes earlier than usual she was determined to get a glimpse of Shane and hopefully whoever he was living with. She remembered Debbie telling her that he was late a lot and somedays he wouldn't show up at all, all she could hope for was that today wasn't one of those days.

“They could be running late, you know what Deb said.” Allie said ten minutes after getting back in the car.

Bea shook her head. “Yeah but I doubt it. We can't sit here forever just incase.”

“True and I have to unpack, and I thought I didn't have a lot at my apartment.”

“Shit! Sorry I forgot about that. Did everything go okay? Booms didn't give ya a hard time?”

“No.” Allie laughed. “She was great honestly, I'm surprised I got anything done she had me in stitches. Still couldn't hand the keys in though, missing building manager and all.”

 

 

 

“What the fuck was I thinking?” Bea curses under her breath as she rushes around the kitchen much to Allies amusement.

“Babe, we have two hours before anyone arrives.”

“And nothing is going to be ready.” Bea half growled. This was meant to be easy, inviting everyone over for dinner now she's doubting everything. Her cooking skills and her sanity. She tries telling herself that of course Allies right, two hours is more than enough time. It should be more than enough time so why is she so stressed. Maybe it's just the little matter of this being another first for her. She's never had a home where she could just invite friends over, at least not one where she didn't have Liz for backup. All she has to do is cook a meal, Allies helping and managing to keep Debbie entertained at the same time.

“Out of the kitchen before you give yourself a heart attack.” Allie suddenly orders stopping Bea in her tracks.

“But…”

“No buts, go sit with Deb and try and relax.” Allie crosses the kitchen and pulls her into a hug. “It's just dinner with your friends, no one is expecting cordon bleu just a home cooked meal.”

Boomer made her presence felt as well as heard the second she walked into the house.

“Where's the booze?” She asked loudly as she pulled Bea into a tight hug. “An where's blondie?”

“Booms…” Bea gasped.

“Huh, yeah…sorry.” Booms released her grip on Bea allowing her to breath freely. “Where's everyone else?”

Before Bea could answer Debbie ran through the house. “Boomer!” She squealed excitedly. “Come see my room.”

“Ah, okay…but I seen it already ya know.”

Debbie grabbed her hand and led her away in the direction of her room telling her about everything new she'd got.

Beas intended destination was the kitchen to help Allie. She may have ordered her out of there earlier but she didn't expect her to do everything. It had been Beas idea to do this and she wanted to help, it wasn't fair to leave Allie to do everything. A sudden loud knock on the door made her spin back around, dragging the door open for the second time in as many minutes.

“Gonna keep us standin out here?” Franky grinned.

Bea just stepped aside allowing Franky, Bridget and Fletch to walk inside.

“No Booms?” Franky asked before Debbie appeared running down the hall and into the living room with Boomer close behind.

“That answer your question?” Bea laughed. “Keep an eye on them will ya?”

“No worries Red, I got this.” Franky patted Bea on her back before walking away.

“Looks good.” Fletch commented as he looked around curiously.

“Yeah it is. I'll give you the tour later right now I need to help Allie in the kitchen.”

Fletch nodded and walked away in the direction Franky and Bridget had gone.

“Let me help you.” Bea whispered in Allies ear after walking quietly into the kitchen.

“Everything is under control, now get out of my kitchen.”

“Your kitchen?”

“Mine.” Allie nodded. “And someone's at the door.”

Sitting in the living room surrounded by almost everyone Bea had ever felt comfortable being around she felt a little more relaxed. The only person missing from the gathered group was Allie who was still in the kitchen. Bea wondered if she was purposely staying out of the way as she looked around the room. None of her friends were perfect but who is? Each and everyone of them had enough love in their hearts for each other to say they were family. They all came with frayed edges and scratches. Problems and heartaches that they shared and helped each other get through. They believed in each other, believed in Bea when she hadn't believed in herself. They were the ones who had always, since the moment they entered her life, had her back. They were the glue that in the past had held her together and the fabric that had kept her warm. She could thank the universe and every star in the night sky for bringing them into her life. She was thankful that their life paths had been woven so intricately together.

She sat quietly as everyone else chatted amongst themselves. ‘Maxine has cancer.’ She thought, a thought that irritated her. Nagged at her brain in the same way a mosquito buzzes around you, diving in and biting you. It was a thought that just wouldn't leave her alone. It wasn't a death sentence, not yet, but it wasn't good and if she refused to listen to anyone it would be a death sentence. Bea didn't want to think about it, the prospect of losing her didn't bear thinking about.

Allie finally walking into the room was the light that her eyes were drawn to, banishing the thoughts for a while. She was her spark, lighting up even the darkest night. She could tell her all her worries, talk anything through with her until she felt like she was a better version of herself.

“You can do something for me.” Allie smiled at her.

“Now you want my help?”

“Not in the kitchen no. But…” Allie grinned. “How do you feel about setting the table?”

“I think I can manage that.”

 

 

 

Dinner was perfect, even the conversation round the table was relaxed, although Bea suspected that was more to do with Debbie being there. Maxine laughed and joked with everyone, for anyone who didn't know she was ill they would never guess. And although she had told both Franky and Boomer she hadn't told them about her ultimate decision.

“I'm not having it.” Maxine said quietly as she helped Bea clear the dishes away while Allie went to run a bath for Debbie, leaving them alone in the kitchen. “My breasts are part of who I am. No ones taking that away.”

“B…but if you don't have the surgery.” Bea hated the thought, couldn't stand the idea of watching her suffer through the pain.

“I'd rather die.” Maxine replied with conviction.

“You can't mean that.”

Maxine ushered Bea out of the kitchen back into the dining room, retaking the seat she'd not long ago vacated and waited for Bea to sit down.

“We've already had this conversation Bea.” Maxine paused briefly. “I lived in the wrong body for 32 years of my life okay? I woke up every morning wanting to tear it off like it was an ill fitting suit, step out of it and just be me. I'm finally happy being who I am and nothing, no disease is going to change that.”

Bea looked back at Maxine with tears in her eyes. She understood, she didn't like it but she understood. Before Harry died she'd often wished he'd just kill her. Death would have been way more easier that taking the beatings he dished out on an often daily basis. It would have been easier than making excuses and blatantly lying to her friends. She couldn't leave Debbie though, she would fight back with the last little reserves of strength she had when it came to her daughter. The only thing she couldn't understand was how Maxine could want to leave her friends, friends she classed as family.

“So go on then, talk me out of it.” Maxine smiled softly.

Bea wiped her eyes, she got it she really did and now words completely failed her. They sat in silence for a while before Bea returned to the kitchen leaving Maxine sitting in the dining room.

Bea found Liz already in the kitchen when she walked in.

“Liz you're a guest what are you doing?”

“Helping…” Liz never looked up from what she was doing. “She won't listen will she? Maxine…I've tried to talk to her, sat through the doctors appointments with her, I know exactly what she's facing.”

“I think her minds firmly made up, not sure anyone will change it for her. Doesn't make it any easier, knowing she won't have the operation…that we're going to lose her.”

Neither of them realised that Boomer was standing just out of sight. She knew they were talking about Maxine and she really didn't understand why they saying what they were saying. It couldn't be true, she knew what was wrong, knew about the operation she needed to have. Maxine wouldn't choose to die, no one chooses to die…do they? She turned on her heels knowing that Maxine was in the dining room. She walked with determination in each step, Bea and Liz were wrong and she was going to prove it.

“Hey, hey, Bea an Liz reckon ya don't want the surgery so ya gotta set em straight.” Boomer thundered as she walked into the dining room.

Maxine looked up at her without saying a word before her eyes dropped down to her hands that were resting in her lap.

“Maxi…” Boomer bounced on her feet impatient for a response. “Ya gotta go tell em.” She became increasing more agitated as Maxine nervously picked her nails, she hadn't expected this kind of outburst, not even from Boomer.

“Hey!” Boomer banged both her hands down on the table. “Stop pickin ya fuckin nails an listen to me, ya gotta come tell em.”

Maxine's eyes stayed focused on her hands for a few seconds longer as an uneasy silence descended between them before she responded.

“Their right Booms I'm not having the surgery.” Maxine looked up at her giving her a weak smile as Boomer stood looking at her. Confusion was written all over her face as her mind raced at a hundred miles an hour as she tried to process what she'd just heard.

“What?” Boomer gasped a sudden uneasy feeling settling in the pit of her stomach. “Why?”

Maxine sighed, Boomer knew her history. Just like the rest of her small group of friends she'd never had an issue with who she'd been or with who she was now.

“I fought all my life to be like this Booms and it nearly killed me. My real family's shallow attempt to love me quickly turned to hate when I tried to explain who I was to them. Every terrible thing I had thought, had predicted came true. I fought, I made good friends and you all helped me get here, that's why I can't give that up now.”

Boomer paced back and forth, the table still separating them. Maxine's words may make some kind of sense to everyone else but not to Boomer.

“No…no…you won't have to, ya know just cos ya have the op it doesn't mean you won't still be you. How does it not make you you?”

Boomer finally takes a seat next to her, quite certain that yes she's making a valuable point here. That if Maxine tries to understand what she's saying, where she's coming from she'll change her mind. She has to change her mind because Boomer would be lost without her, can't imagine what her life would be like without her.

“It's not just about loosing these.” Maxine holds Boomers attention as she presses the palm of one hand against her chest while holding one of Boomers with the other. “There's the chemo, it's the most awful thing I think I've ever lived through and I've only just got started. I can't take my hormones, don't you see it I'm already starting to change? I can't become that old version of me again Booms, I just can't.”

Boomer shakes her head as she looks at her, all she sees is her friend right in front of her. She's wrong, she's not changing, not as much as she might think. The thing that's changed Boomer knows are only the words she keeps hearing. Maxine is a fighter, this isn't fighting talk this sounds like giving up.

“So ya want to die? Just give up an die?”

“I want to live my life on my own terms.”

“But you'll be dead.” Boomer stressed in her increasingly more angry tone.

“Boomer…” Maxine's tone changed to one of exasperation as Boomer cut her off before she could get anymore words out.

“No!” Boomer jumped up from where she was sitting and started pacing again. “If ya don't do this, don't have the op you'll end up in the fucking ground.”

“Hey, maybe I'll beat it. Where there's still life there's hope isn't that right?”

“Ya can't die…ya can't.” Boomer mumbled as she paced some more. She's trying to think of the right words to say, to be smart like Franky and Bea and be convincing. Make Maxine see that what she's saying is right. She knows she's not listening to Liz or Bea though, how can she make her listen without actually punching her tits in? No she won't do that even as her frustration at this situation grows with every passing second. Her tears won't stop streaming from her eyes and for Boomer who learnt a long time ago that tears don't help she can't stop them. For her letting anyone see her tears was the bravest thing she could do.

“Listen.” Maxine stands up from her seat hating herself for being the reason Boomer is crying. “Honey look at me.” She approaches Boomer slowly. “Look at me…Booms. We have to be brave.”

“Brave?” Boomer questions. “How is wanting to die brave?” She spat.

Boomer cries almost hysterically as she rocks from one foot to the other muttering something to herself that is completely incoherent. Maxine stands a few inches in front of her as she tries to calm herself down long enough to get more words out.

“Ya not sorry…not sorry for thinkin it…not sorry for sayin it. If ya were ya wouldn't do this to yaself. Y…ya wouldn't do this to ya friends…to me.” Boomer snivels loudly wiping her tears away.

“It's my choice Booms.” Maxine can't hide her frustration, at Boomer who won't listen. At this fucking illness that threatens to rip everything away from her.

“Well it's fuckin selfish!” Boomer shouted. “You're a fuckin selfish bitch.”

Maxine can't quite believe Boomers outburst. Sure she knew her revelation would be a shock and she never intended Boomer to find out the way she did. Her plan had always been to sit her and Franky down together and tell them. Try and break it to them as gently as she had done with Bea but she should have know it would be too hard to keep it quiet. She should have got all her friends together and told them. The emotions would have been the same but Boomer may have handled it better, at least had other people to comfort her.

“I hate you!” Boomer yelled in her face.

Maxine takes a couple of steps forward, throwing her arms around Boomer who rests her head against Maxine's shoulder and cries harder. She doesn't hate her, she hates the illness, hates that it will take her friend away. The news had hit her like a hurricane and now her brain felt like an icy wasteland. She had nothing left to feel, nothing left to say as she pulled away from Maxine's grip and stomped out of the dining room.

Boomer almost threw herself down at the end of the sofa as everyone else just sat quietly. Maxine stood in the dining room a while longer looking out of the window. Today was meant to be a happy time, Bea was finally moving on with her life. Taking huge steps forward when for so long she had remained static, stuck with the ghost of Harry lingering all around her. Good choices, Maxine knew, are not made as you continue on your journey they are made in the moment. Bea had made a good choice, while Maxine felt stuck at this particular fork in the road. Isn't that just how the brain works? Her decision surly didn't make her a good friend, she didn't want to fight but everyone else wanted to fight for her. Her life felt like a storm right now but her friends were the boat saving her from drowning. They had always been her support when she needed it and she loved them, was always thankful for having them in her life. The storm would be long lasting, it would try to crush her, take everything away. Her strength had been tested so many times so why couldn't she be strong again. She could make a different choice, no final decision had been set in stone yet.

After taking some time away from the others Maxine walked into the living room, taking a seat in one of the armchairs. Sitting back she watched her friends quietly, highly aware that by now they all knew what she was thinking of doing. Boomer was slumped on one end of the sofa, hugging a cushion silently sobbing. Bea, Liz and Bridget were stood in the corner of the room quietly talking amongst themselves, she could hazard a guess what that conversation was about. Franky sat on the sofa and Fletch in the other chair, neither spoke just glanced at each other from time to time, it seemed as if all words had failed them both. Allie was sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace with Debbie in her arms. Debbie doesn't understand what's going on, all she knows is that Maxine is going to leave. She'll be gone never to be seen again and she doesn't understand that because Maxine is here. She loves Maxine and can't understand why she would choose to leave everyone.

Getting up from the chair Maxine moves across the room sitting next to Boomer.

“I don't really hate ya.” Boomer says quietly between sobs. “I shouldn't have said that.”

“I know.” Maxine nods her head gently. “But you are right about one thing Sue Jenkins I am selfish. I've had to be, there was no other way to get to where I am now. Most of my life the only person who ever cared about me has been me.”

“I care about ya. An I, I even love ya. Like a little, a little bit ya know.” Boomer sniffed as she hugged the cushion tighter.

“I know you do.” Maxine nods again as she glances around the room that has now fallen completely silent. “I know you all do, that's why I've changed my mind.” She sucks in a deep breath. “It's gonna be tough, we both need to be brave, well we all have to be brave because it won't be pretty.” She says softly as Boomer starts to cry again. “I'm going to have the operation, I'm going to need you, it's not going to be easy.”

Boomer grins and nods enthusiastically. “Yeah, yeah…and ya can get new tits…I mean like when ya recover, cos ya will. Ya reckon they'll let ya have some of mine cos I've got heaps?”

Maxine threw her arms around Boomers shoulders, hugging her tight as she laughed. This had to be the right decision. She glanced around the room, this was finally a happy day. Bea had moved and sat on the floor with Allie and Debbie, she looked happy and finally at peace with herself. If she could keep fighting then there was no reason for her not to because she was loved.

 

Chapter Text

 

Monday morning had arrived too soon for Bea, even after doing nothing much of anything on Sunday except lazing around the house with her two favourite people it felt too soon. She could have asked for more time off, Will would authorise leave without too many questions if she asked. Using all her vacation time up wasn't the best idea though.

Walking into the CID office she was greeted by Wills cheerful smile.

“Special delivery.” Will grinned at her. “This arrived over the weekend and I've only just been given it.”

Will held out an envelope to Bea who suddenly became extremely nervous. She'd waited impatiently for this and now she didn't want to know what it contained.

“Thanks.” She mumbled as she took it from him before walking to her desk, dropping the envelope down and slumping into her chair.

“You could be a little more enthusiastic.” Will chuckled remembering the feeling well. The not knowing had driven him half crazy after he'd sat the same exam a few years ago. The day he was handed his results he'd stuffed the envelope in his pocket and spent hours trying to forget it was there for the rest of the day. “Not going to open that?” He enquired but only receiving a head shake in response. Bea turned her attention to her computer just as Fletch walked into the office.

“Just heard, the missing building manager ain't missing anymore.”

Will glanced up at him as more detectives started to enter the room. The next to impossible to locate building manager had decided to pay another visit to the apartment complex a couple of hours ago. He wasn't talking, or rather right now he couldn't speak, even if he wanted to after having his jaw broken. Everyone could see the irony in what had happened to him when they heard that he'd clearly picked on the wrong person to try and intimidate. Getting badly beaten by one of the residents he was trying to make leave clearly hadn't been part of his plan.

If it had been up to Bea and Fletch they would have given the guy a pat on the back and let him go. Neither of them wanted to end up charging him with grievous bodily harm knowing that the building manager had already hospitalised a few of the residents after threats hadn't worked. He was looking at time in prison if they charged him, after bailing him to return in two weeks they left the station for the hospital.

“You just going to leave that envelope on your desk to gather dust?” Fletch asked on the ride over.

“I'll open it later.” Bea grumbled as she concentrated on the road ahead.

She didn't want to talk about it that was obvious, or maybe she just didn't want to open it while she was at work. Fletch knew if he were in the same position he probably wouldn't want everyone around if he were waiting on exam results. Except he never had any plans to sit another exam, at least not if he had any say in it. Arriving at the hospital a few minutes later they were told they'd have to wait in the waiting room, ‘more of the day wasted,’ Bea thought to herself as they went to find a seat.

 

 

 

“How can you be so eager to get to school?” Allie asked Debbie as she helped her out of her car.

“It's Monday!” Debbie answered happily. “And Shane is always at school on Monday.”

“He really is your favourite person isn't he?” Allie chucked as she locked her car and took Debbie's hand.

“No, you and mummy are my favourite people, and them Gma Liz and auntie Franky.” Debbie said seriously as they waited to cross the road.

Allie didn't answer after spotting a woman hanging around the school gates. She looked out of place and more than just a little disheveled. Gripping Debbie's hand a little tighter they crossed the road and made it through the gates before they heard raised voices.

“He's my kid.” She heard a woman shout. “And I'm going to get him back. You don't even want him around.”

They hurried inside, Allie had taken longer to say goodbye to Bea than she had intended to and then had been rushing around so Debbie wouldn't be late, they'd only made it with a couple of minutes to spare. After making sure Debbie got to her classroom and hugging her, reminding he that Liz was picking her up, she left. Reaching the gates she found the woman still arguing with a man who towered over her. Shane leaning against the wall his hands firmly in his pockets as he looked at the ground.

“Shane.” Allie said quietly as she got closer to him.

He didn't look up, his eyes stayed firmly fixed on the ground right in front of him. Allie looked behind her wondering what was going on. Their voices rose, one small comment from the woman stirred a hurricane of harsh words from the man as he stood no more than a few inches from her screaming right in her face.

“Ya ain't never gettin him back ya stupid bitch. Don't ya get it? Everyone knows what a poor excuse for a mother you are.”

“That's my mum.” Shane mumbled as he looked up at Allie with tears in his eyes.

Allie crouched down in front of him trying to make eye contact with him but he bit his lip as his eyes darted everywhere other than on her. Shane's heat beat so fast that he thought it was trying to escape his chest. He knew he should be quiet, shouldn't have told Allie that she was his mum. There was nothing she could do to help him as he stood there feeling like his heart might well explode. He wanted to run away as fast as he could but he couldn't move. The second his eyes finally settled back on Allie they were wide with fear. The voices continued to become more agitated as they shouted at each other. Allie stood up taking hold of Shane's hand, she wasn't sure what she could do but feeling his shaking hand in hers she knew she had to do something.

“Excuse me.” Allie almost choked out as she was still trying to decide how she would handle the situation playing out in front of her eyes.

The man spun around to face her looking down at Shane who was clinging to her hand as if his life depended on it. His eyes shot back to Allie, narrow, cold and hard.

“What do you want bitch?” He yelled as his eyes focused again on something else, something in the distance Allie thought. Shane may as well have been invisible to him either that or he just didn't want to see him at all. Allie looked down at Shane as he shifted from foot to foot. The blood had drained from his face and his heart again hammered erratically. He was used to this anger, used to feeling afraid.

A police car drew up at the curb and Allie heard a familiar voice.

“Had a report from the headteacher that there was a disturbance, does someone want to explain what the problem is?” Franky asked after getting out of the patrol car.

Allie breathed a sigh of relief as she held onto Shane's still shaking hand. Franky could be the most annoying person in the world but she was almost as good at her job as Bea was. Allie was and always would be biased though, in her mind she dared anyone to question her though.

“This bitch ain't meant to come here.” The man half yelled as she looked over his shoulder back at Shane's mum.

“And you would be?” Franky enquired as she saw how scared the young boy was that was clinging to Allies hand.

“I'm the little shits foster father and everythin woulda been okay if that stupid bitch hadn't shown up.” He snapped back at Franky. “Tell her to fuck off and I'll be on my way.”

“Sir, you need to calm down.” Franky answered calmly. “What exactly is the problem here?”

“Are ya fuckin deaf?” He roared.

“Sir, I need to ask you not to use that kind of language, you are still standing right in front of the school and there is a young child present.”

“An what if I don't? Ya gonna arrest me?”

“If you refuse to cooperate and tell me what the problem is then I may have no other choice. Using offensive language in a public place is after all a criminal offence.”

The man grinned at Collins as he watched him exit the patrol car, quite certain that he was in luck and would be walking away within the next couple of minutes. The bitch holding onto Shane could take him into school for all he cared, that little shit was nothing but trouble, they only had him live under their roof for the extra money.

“Ya can't do shit to me, ain't that right old timer?”

Collins raised his eyebrows, that may be a name he was frequently called round the station but a member of the public saying it was out of order.

“Sir my partner is quite correct, the use of offensive language will not be tolerated, especially outside a government funded school.”

“Please.” The woman pleaded with Franky. “I don't want any trouble, I just wanted to see my son. I'm trying to get my life in order so I can get him back but it's not easy.”

Allies eyes darted to where the woman was standing suddenly seeing the resemblance Shane had of her. Everything was suddenly making more sense, she clearly cared about Shane if the look in her eyes was anything to go by. Turning to look at Franky she knew she could offer her the help she needed if she really wanted it.

Franky asked Allie to take Shane into school before she approached the woman leaving Collins to deal with the man who was becoming increasingly more hostile.

“Stupid fuckin bitch can't see the fuckin kid, she knows that already.” He yelled at Collins as he lunged at him.

Before anyone had realised what was happening Collins had him under arrest and in handcuffs, just because he was close to retirement didn't mean he couldn't move. Arresting him for the use of offensive language in a public place and attempted assault on police. The man tried to resist and fight back but it was no use as Franky returned to help place him in the back of the patrol car.

“Ya sure ya ready to retire there mate?” Franky chuckled. Collins hadn't been much help to her before but he'd just proved why he was a good cop.

When Allie returned from the school Franky pulled her to one side wanting a quiet word with her. Of everyone she knew Allie would be in the best position to offer her some advice. Pulling her phone from her pocket Allie quickly called a familiar number for some information. Getting the result she hoped for was actually more than she expected, it was general to be told that they were full. Today was her lucky day she guessed.

“If we can get her to the hospital I can get her a referral, they can't take her without one.” Allie smiled at Franky who nodded before walking back to the car to speak to Collins. Two minutes later she was back with Allie as they waited on another patrol car to take the arrested man back to the station. Franky might have had the upbringing from hell but if Jianna Butler was serious about wanting to turn her life around and have Shane home she'd go out of her way to help her.

“What about Shane?” Allie asked.

“He's fine for now.” Franky assured her. “Let's get his mum the help she needs then we'll pay his foster home a visit.”

“Why?” Allie asked knowing that it wasn't standard practice. “He gets a phone call he can let his wife or whoever know where he is.”

Franky told Allie a little of what Jianna had told her, letting her know that she'd requested her social worker be contacted. Hopefully she'd meet them at the hospital before she got her referral then accompany them to the house Shane was living at. She was sure he was going to need somewhere else to stay for the time being at least and she knew the perfect solution to this particular problem. With any luck her plan would come together nicely.

 

 

 

Bea couldn't believe her eyes as she turned around seeing Franky and Allie sitting with another woman in the middle of them.

“You aren't meant to be at work yet.” Bea smiled at Allie.

“I'm not just helping Franky out with something, didn't think I'd see you until tonight.” Allie got up from her chair right as Jianna was called. “Shit! I'll see you a home, if you're awake I'll tell you everything.” Allie quickly hugged Bea before following behind Franky and Jianna.

Taking a seat between Franky and Allie Jianna felt as if this was possibly both the best and the worst idea ever. She would freely admit she enjoy drinking. Alcohol took away the pain when she couldn't bare it any longer. Her addiction had come with a hefty price tag though and losing Shane forever wasn't something she could live with. Allie looked at the doctor and then back at Jianna, her fear of the unknown clearly visible. Reaching out Allie covered her hand with her own giving it a light squeeze.

“You can do this, believe me I wouldn't be here now if I hadn't been here once.” Allie said quietly. “It's hard I know, just tell the doc everything and we can get you out of here.”

Jianna gave Allie a weak smile as she wondered how she could have ever found herself in the exact same position she currently found herself in. She could be telling the truth she thought, but she's a nurse, then again what reason did she have to lie about something like that? Sucking in a deep breath she looked around the room, it was now or never. Never meant that Shane would be out of her life as he grew, never meant realistically that the bottom of a bottle would be her only friend until the day she died. What was it she'd been told, the only way forward was to first admit she had a problem. She was an alcoholic, the last couple of years had only gotten worse. Drying out was going to be a painful process, one until recently she'd had no intention of ever going through. Before Shane was taken away she'd been determined to stay drunk until the day she died, then he was gone, snatched from her because she couldn't be a good mother and a drunk. She regretted many things but neglecting Shane was unforgivable, she doubted she could ever make amends for that.

Taking a deep breath as she tried to steady herself she focused on the doctor in front of her, she had to do this, be truthful for the first time in years for Shane's sake, never wasn't any longer an option. She recounted everything, no matter how painful the memories were. For Allie hearing that it was her own father who got her into drinking made her want to help her more than ever. Her story, although not the same as Allies, hit that raw nerve that still lingered inside of her. She told them everything, all her life she'd come home to watch her father slowly drinking himself into a stupor. As she'd got a little older she'd wanted to know what was so great about the liquid that all those bottles and cans contained. One day she'd been home alone and found his half full bottle of whiskey, twisting off the cap she'd taken her first small sip. The alcohol hadn't only left a burning sensation in her throat but also in its wake it left a sensation for wanting more. She knew right then she shouldn't have tried it, the taste of that lethal liquid kept luring her back for more. What she hadn't known then was that that was the beginning of her descent into alcoholism. She steadily became more like her father the older she became, it was rarely ever water in her glass. As soon as school was over and she made it home the transparent liquid bathing the ice in her glass was vodka. Soon it was brandy in her morning orange juice before she could even think about leaving the house. Whenever she had coffee there would there would always be whiskey in it. By dinner time everyday she'd either be slumped in a chair or laying on her bed not caring what was going on around her. The only thing she cared about was where she would find her next drink.

Alcohol had been a part of her life for so long she couldn't remember a time without it, or at least not craving it. She hadn't even realised it was becoming a problem until it was too late. She'd been arrested for being drunk and disorderly a few times. Her last arrest was just before she even realised she was pregnant with Shane, landing her in prison for a six months. Even after her release she hadn't seen the point in any kind of treatment programme. The only time she had stayed sober for any extended period of time was when while she was pregnant. The whole time she thought about it, craved it and couldn't wait to start drinking again. As excited as she had been about Shane's birth the only thing that had kept her going was the thought that once he arrived she could start drinking again. She'd had her first drink after he was born when she was still in the hospital, her friends brought a bottle of champagne to celebrate. After that she went straight back to her old ways, even though she was ashamed of herself she just couldn't put the bottle down and leave it there.

Allie listened quietly, glancing to her side every now and again. She'd been addicted to a whole different substance, more than one, but the effects on her life had no less painful and destructive. Listening to her telling them how her addiction has kept her away from her family made Allies heart ache, bringing up the feelings that she always tried to keep buried. Every single thing Jianna said resonated with Allie more than anyone else in that room would ever know. Hearing her talking about wanting to end her life but not wanting to leave Shane alone in the world brought tears to her eyes. Allie knew how that felt, except she'd had no one but herself to want to keep living for.

It was nearly time for the start of Allies shift when Jianna’s referral was finally approved. It had been agreed that Franky would take her home to pack what she needed and Allie had rushed around the emergency department looking for the nursing supervisor. She wanted more than anything to be able to go with her. After finding Rose so she could explain the situation she ran back to the waiting room after being told that it wasn't a problem.

Allie sat in the back of the patrol car with Jianna even when Franky had said it wasn't necessary.

“The impatient program at Arrow Health is the best you'll find.” Allie commented when the silence became too much for her to handle.

Jianna looked at her with a hesitancy in her eyes that Allie hadn't seen before. “How can you even be sure?”

“I've been through it, long time ago now. I still have outpatient appointments, their really good at checking in on you even after you get clean.”

Jianna shook her head, Allie to her seemed so together, she doubted that she could have ever had any type of substance issues in her past.

“Don't let the job fool ya.” Allie chuckled. “I was a mess for a long time, sometimes I'm still surprised that I lasted this long. I made a decision a long time ago and here I am.”

“I…I wanted to get help…after Shane was born I was scared that they'd take him away if anyone found out.” Jianna looked out of the window, “My ex, Shane's dad, was abusive, we already had a social worker assigned to us because of that after he left. I kept it together, they said I was a fantastic mother and all the time I knew I was the worst because no one knew what was going on. No one knew that I just couldn't control it. I had everyone fooled, Shane was always so happy no one ever suspected anything. I was I guess a functioning alcoholic for a long time, held down a full time job and everything.” She sighed, wishing now more than ever she'd asked for help a long time ago. “It got out of control, I lost my job, I lost Shane. When I found out where he was living I went to the house, I watched from a distance and I saw how they treated him. I go to the school almost everyday, I have to do this, have to get him back.”

“You will.” Franky piped up. “I'm going over there when we get ya settled in. If things are as shit as I think they are he'll be out of there before the days over.”

“But then I won't know where he is.” Jianna sobbed.

“Ya will, fuckin social worker couldn't meet us until after schools over. Pretty sure Vera was ready to have a heart attack when I said I'd work late. Trust me yeah I'm on this, an I know a pretty good foster parent, she's been out of the game for a while but still approved. Think I might be able to sort everythin out.”

Allie was confused but didn't question Franky, she was sure if she said she knew someone who could take Shane in and keep him safe then she would be telling the truth.

“I need a huge favour.” Allie sighed as she slumped her shoulders after getting back in Franky's patrol car.

“Need a lift to pick ya car up aye?” Franky laughed.

“Hmmm, I did kinda leave it at the hospital.”

“Not a problem, could take ya home first, need to get changed don't ya?”

“I couldn't ask you to do that, I'm sure you need to get going.”

Franky shook her head. “You've done a lot