She needed to get out. She had to get out of this fucking prison. But that would take time, and time had a whole new meaning these days. Her protection was guaranteed by Kaz and the others, although Bea was always keeping an eye on her. She slowly found that her reasons to poison Kaz against her were becoming difficult to focus on.
“You wanted to see me?”
Joan's eyes wandered over to Doreen. She'd wanted to speak to a peer worker, and Doreen was the perfect one for it. She appeared cautious, and Joan was a little saddened by that. She had no reason to be nervous around her.
“How's little Joshua?” She asked softly.
“He's doing well. I miss him though but I try to see him as much as I can.”
Joan nodded, remembering when he was born and how happy she felt being a part of that. “I'm sure you do.”
“What do you want?”
Joan bit her lip as she asked herself the same question over and over.
“Can I ask you a personal question?”
Doreen raised her brow and crossed her arms. “I guess... sure.”
“Did you ever... think about not having Joshua?”
“Why are you asking me this?” Doreen asked angrily.
Joan reached out, wanting to touch Doreen but stopped at the look in her eyes. “I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you. I just think about how difficult it must be for you being in here and not seeing him.”
“If this is one of your sick and twisted mind games, I'm not putting up with it. You tried to scare me before with the bird. It won't work this time.”
Joan sighed. “That's not what I'm trying to do. I just... what if the father of your baby wasn't someone you wanted? What if they were a danger?”
“What are you trying to say? He would never hurt us!”
Joan shook her head. “You misunderstand. I was asking in a hypothetical situation, what would you do?”
Doreen looked extremely irritated and Joan thought she was about to leave until she sat down and sighed. “I don't know what I'd do. I don't think I'd want to be tied to them in a permanent way like that.”
Doreen furrowed her brow. “But I also love Joshua so much that I couldn't imagine not having him.”
Joan stared at her hands. “So you'd keep the baby?”
“If you had a choice in it, would you have?”
“I don't think there are any easy answers to that question. Now did you actually need anything or were you just wanting to talk?”
“No, you've told me all I needed to know.”
“Sierra 7 to Sierra 2.”
“Come in, Sierra 7.”
“Requesting your presence in the strip search room. Prisoner Ferguson is refusing a search.”
Vera rolled her eyes at Will and pressed the radio again. “I'm on my way.”
Only Joan would make it difficult for them to do a search. She thought she was above everyone else because she was the previous Governor. She seemed to think that somehow provided her special treatment from the officers.
This is the last time you think you have the upper hand. I'm in charge.
Walking into the strip search room, Vera pursed her lips at Joan who was standing in her teal tracksuit. She slowly shook her head at Vera, clicking her tongue at her in disapproval. “It was a supervised meeting with a reputable lawyer. This is entirely unnecessary.”
Not this time, Joan.
She smirked at her, letting her know just who the Governor was now. “Remove your clothing. Now.”
Joan stared at her, gently shaking her head in annoyance as she took off her pants. She hardly took her eyes off Vera the entire time, and it was a little unnerving for her. Those dark eyes that held so much resentment and anger, yet there was also something else that Vera couldn't quite detect in them. She tried not to smile while Joan aligned her shoes perfectly together.
As she took off her top and handed it to the officer, Vera could see some bruising on her body. Her eyes traveled down her legs. There were some on her thighs and especially her arms and wrists. They were dark and deliberate enough to know that someone gave them to her.
“What happened?” She asked, feeling some concern now. While they were in prison, the last thing she wanted was for Joan to actually be hurt by anyone. No matter how much she probably deserved it. Even Vera felt like slapping her in her smug face at times. But there was the small part of her that still didn't believe that Joan really deserved that sort of treatment.
“I fell,” she replied.
Oh, you're going to lie? “Clearly you didn't just fall.”
She was irritated now, not wanting to deal with this bullshit. She was surprised Joan wouldn't be honest with her, considering how much she hated the prisoners withholding information in these situations.
Then again, she does lie about everything.
“It's filthy in there. You should look into that.”
Joan stared and then gave her a slow smirk, and she resisted rolling her eyes. She bent down and slowly pulled off her underwear, followed by her bra.
For once, Joan looked a little smaller in her eyes. She had some enjoyment of making her do this. There was a certain excitement and amusement she took in the vulnerable humiliation she suffered. There was nothing she couldn't see of her now. No armor for her to hide behind. She told Joan to turn around, and then she saw a little more bruising along her waist and her shoulder, the backs of her arms. The ones around her wrists and forearms were the most noticeable.
Vera didn't take pleasure in this, at least now knowing that Joan was clearly attacked. Seeing her intimately was especially awkward since she'd had secret fantasies of her for a while now. She always thought it would happen in her office. Not here, and not this way. The way she'd been held down by the looks of the bruises. She swallowed, suddenly feeling ill at the thought of what might have happened. Don't tell me she was raped...
She tried to keep her voice steady. “Someone hurt you. This wasn't caused by a fall. Who did this to you?”
“Told you, I fell. In fact, the prisoners have been most supportive and sympathetic. They've facilitated my recovery considerably.”
And I haven't. You had to hit below the belt again, didn't you?
Joan had a small smile on her face as she took her uniform. Vera turned to the officer in the room. “Call the nurse. Now. Tell her we're bringing Prisoner Ferguson in for a mandatory medical check.”
“I'm sure I don't need to remind you that my permission is required for an internal examination.”
Why are you doing this? Why are you willing to put yourself through this? Why Joan?
“Then you leave me no choice but to have you sent back to Protection.”
“There are absolutely no grounds, as it was an accident,” she stated firmly.
Joan laid down in her cell, and thought of Vera. She couldn't help her responses in the strip search room. She was still so angry at Vera for everything, and despite how vulnerable she felt she needed to maintain her cool indifference to Vera. However, that was often hard to do. She was far from feeling indifferent about the smaller woman.
It was now only a matter of time before Vera was informed of her pregnancy. She would never allow the nurse to do an internal examination, but she knew that it would be obvious that she was pregnant just by a blood test.
She sighed, remembering the look on the nurse's face when she told her she was pregnant. She hadn't known what to say, and didn't remember much of their conversation after. She refused to speak to Westnull, preferring to be left alone.
But what she didn't expect was Vera slowly unlocking her cell door this late at night, and she sat up knowing what she was going to hear. Vera stared at her, moving to take a seat on her bed. She knew what she was going to say, but she was angry at Vera for invading her privacy. She'd already seen her fully naked in the strip search room, so why couldn't she just leave her be? Why couldn't this wait until morning?
Vera took a few deep breaths, and the silence bothered Joan. She slowly turned towards Vera. “Why are you here?”
Vera sighed. “You know why. Did you really think you could hide this?”
“I hoped I could for a little while, at least until I figured out what I needed to do.”
“When did you have the time to—I mean, were you... involved with someone?”
Joan glared at her. “Don't be stupid. You know how far along I am. I'm only six weeks. I've barely been here for that long, and where was I before?”
Vera stared. “The psychiatric hospital but--”
“You visited me when I was there, right? Isn't that what you said? But I don't remember.”
“I visited you more than once, Joan.”
Joan cleared her throat. “You did?”
“Yes, and you were heavily medicated and not always lucid. But sometimes you spoke about your doctor, and how he was helping you. Something about music...”
Joan closed her eyes. “I wish I didn't remember any of it, but I suppose not remembering it would have been more of a shock now.”
When she looked at Vera again, she could see her eyes were tearing up and she suddenly felt angry. “No, you don't get to cry. You don't know anything. This doesn't affect you at all!”
Vera touched her hand, making her flinch. “Don't!” Joan snapped.
“I'm sorry,” she said, quickly moving her hand away. “I-I should have known. He always gave me the creeps.”
Joan stiffened, wishing that she had felt that way in the beginning before he began grooming her. That's what it was... a form of adult grooming. “I trusted him,” she whispered. “And the music... the music he played made me feel safe. He was trying to help me feel the same way I did when I was younger.”
She was surprised she was telling this to Vera, but she felt such a heavy burden keeping this all inside. And here Vera was, when she never expected her to be here.
She gently touched Joan's wrist again, and this time she allowed it. “You didn't fall, did you?” She asked quietly.
“No, I didn't. I was attacked and they tried... but one of the prisoners saved me before it was too late.”
Vera took a shuddering breath. “I'm glad they did, because no one deserves that to happen.”
Joan sniffed. “Not even ex Governors who've made difficult decisions for what they feel is the greater good?”
“Not even them,” Vera said said gently.
Joan felt a lump in her throat. “Thank you.”
“Joan, I need to ask you something.”
“Are you scared?”
“Why would I be scared?”
“Who says I'm going to keep this baby? Just being pregnant reminds me of... everything that happened there.”
She was startled when Vera slowly hugged her, and she sat stiffly in response. She was completely shocked at this display of affection, not understanding why she was holding her. She felt a hand at her hair.
“What are you doing?”
“Joan, it's okay to cry.”
“I'm not crying...” She whispered, but she felt wetness on her cheeks. “Vera, please don't.”
“Joan, it's okay. I'm so sorry that you're going through this.”
Joan let out a sob then, not able to hold back her tears as Vera held her tighter. “I don't want this,” she cried, repeating this over and over. Vera spoke softly to her, and she hated crying like this. She hated doing so in front of anyone, but especially in front of Vera. After everything she had done to her, the last thing she wanted was to be a target for Vera later. It would be so easy for Vera to use any of this against her.
“Why?” Joan asked.
“Why are you doing this?”
Vera gently rubbed her back. “Because Joan, I'm the one you're closest to. You told me you don't make friends easily, and despite everything we've gone through, I don't want you to be alone. Not in here like this.”
“Shh...” She said, and she slowly relaxed as Vera stroked her hair, suddenly feeling very tired. Joan was surprised by how comforted she felt, pulling back to look at Vera.
“Do you still care?” She asked, needing to know very desperately how Vera felt about their relationship.
“Yes, I still care. It's why I haven't wanted you to leave Protection, Joan. Don't you see that?”
Joan's eyes softened. “You're a good woman, Vera.”
Vera smiled gently. “Not always, but I try.”
“It's getting a little late, Vera. Why don't you go home and get some sleep?”
She didn't want Vera to leave yet, but knew she needed to. Vera sat down on the floor. “I'm okay here. I'll stay until you fall asleep.”
“You don't need to do that.”
“No, but I want to anyway.”
As she got into bed, she watched Vera in the darkness of the room. “You know, you don't have to sit on the floor.”
“No, I'm okay.”
“The bed is more comfortable. Just rest here for a little while, and then you can go home later,” Joan said, her eyelids growing heavy. Vera moved onto the bed and pressed closer to Joan, her soft and warm body a comfort in the night.
“Joan,” she whispered.
“Yes?” She asked, her voice slurring a little as she was starting to fall asleep.
“I'll support you no matter what you decide.”
Joan opened her eyes. “Are you sure?”
“Of course. Why do you ask?”
“Because... I think I'm going to keep it.”