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Cooking Classes

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It was a rainy morning, and Franky and Bridget were sitting on the couch having some tea when there was a knock at the door. Bridget sat down her mug, and went to answer it. She was greeted by Liz, Boomer, Allie, and Bea.

“Hey, love,” Liz greeted her with a big hug. “I hope it’s okay, us just showing up here. We came to see Franky; see how she’s doing.”

“Oh, it’s completely fine, “ Bridget replied with a smile. “She’ll be so happy to see you all. She’s in the living room, just down and around the corner.”

They each said hello to the blonde as they walked past her into the house. Bridget went to the kitchen to make some tea for their guests as Franky’s friends settled in around her.

“Heya, Franky.” Boomer gave her a hug, and sat down beside her. “They do that to ya in there?” She pointed to Franky’s face.

“Yeah, Booms. Three of them attacked me in the showers.”

“Wouldn’t a happened if I’d been there. I woulda bashed some heads for ya.” Boomer struck the palm of her hand with her fist. “Liz told us why you were in there. We all told ya Kim was crazy. I know you like a good root with a hot girl, but wasn’t worth it, eh?”

Allie discreetly elbowed Boomer in the side. “Booms.” When she caught her eye, Allie tipped her head towards Bridget, who was putting their mugs of tea on a tray to bring over.

The woman looked at her, confused for a moment, and then caught on that maybe she shouldn’t have said what she did in front of Franky’s girlfriend. “Oh, ah, sorry.”

Bridget just smiled at her as she placed the tray on the coffee table. The blonde turned to go back to the kitchen.

“You going to sit with us, babe?” Franky asked.

“I think I’ll finish up some work. I’ll let you guys catch up.” She smiled again and went into her office.

“So, how exactly did they end up letting you out?” Bea asked, taking a sip of her tea. “It sounded pretty bad from what Liz told us.”

“She had a change of heart and decided to tell the truth, that I never touched her.”

While Franky told stories of her time at Wentworth, Liz quietly excused herself, saying she was going to the bathroom, but instead found Bridget in her office. She knocked lightly on the open door, so as to not startle the blonde.

“Oh, Liz! You surprised me, come in.” Bridget closed her laptop, and turned her chair.

“I just wanted to make sure Franky’s doing okay. I know prison can kind of mess with your head. I think she’d tell me if something was wrong, but you spend more time with her now.”

“Well, I think she’s probably still processing some things, and physically, she’s definitely still healing. I think she’s happy to be out.” Bridget paused. “While she was in there, she told me some things about her past. I just want to say thank you for everything you did for her. She wouldn’t be here with me today if it weren’t for you.”

“Love, she wouldn’t have been here with anyone. The streets are brutal, especially for a young girl, and she was headed for heaps of trouble.” Liz took a deep breath. “A lot of people had given up on her, but I had a feeling, and I had to try. I look at where she is now, and I’m so glad I did. She loves you a lot, I don’t know if she’s told you that yet, but I can tell she does.”

“She has.” Bridget couldn’t help the smile that came across her face.

Liz excused herself and went back out to join the others.

“So, Franky, you coming back to work?” Allie asked, as Liz returned.

“Yeah, definitely. As much as I love being home with Gidge, I need to keep busy too. She’s going back to work next week. I don’t think I could handle being here alone all day for very long. The doc said the sling could come off in a few days, and after that I’m allowed to do whatever doesn’t cause too much pain.” She looked over at Liz. “Thanks again for taking over my classes while I was gone. I’m still going to need extra help with the prep work when I get back.”

“No trouble, love. Makes it feel like old times a bit. The kids especially miss you though.” Liz smiled. “Maybe Emily will come back once you’re there again.”

“Wait, she wasn’t going while I was away?” Franky hadn’t specifically asked Bridget or Emily if she was still going, she had just assumed that she was.

Her friends all shook their heads. She made up her mind that she would get Emily to go back, the child had too much potential and passion for her to waste.

One hour and another round of tea later, and Franky’s friends said their goodbyes. She wandered into Bridget’s office.

“You know I love you, right?” the brunette asked, placing a kiss on the side of her girlfriend’s neck.

Bridget turned, searching Franky’s face, “Yeah, of course I do.”

“I know you heard what Boomer said today.” The brunette looked at the ground then out the window.

The blonde stood and put her arms around her girlfriend’s neck. “Baby, we all have our pasts. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean I want to know all the details about the women before me,, but I know they exist.” She gave Franky a small kiss. “I’m okay, alright? Are you up for us doing some errands after lunch?”

Franky nodded her head and rested her forehead against Bridget’s. “I also need to pick up some more clothes from my apartment.”

“Alright, let’s shower and get some lunch then we’ll go.” Bridget took Franky’s hand and led her to the bathroom.

********

They had spent about an hour running various errands and browsing through a couple of their favorite shops. The next stop was Franky’s apartment to swap out some of her clothes. The weather was getting warmer and she needed some lighter stuff to wear.

Bridget’s phone rang just as they were getting in the car. Franky sat inside while the blonde stood outside the driver’s door and talked.

“We need to go pick up Em from school.” Bridget started the car, and headed towards the school.

Franky sensed that something was bothering the blonde. “What’s going on?”

“Tim has to stay and work late again on this project and he can’t pick her up. I don’t mind, I really don’t, and I said I’d help out, but what’s going to happen when I’m back to work next week?” Franky sat back and listened while Bridget said what she needed to say, but the brunette already had a solution in mind. “I understand that he didn’t want a sitter because Em doesn’t really do well with them. His boss promised that if he moved here he could pick her up from school and work from home in the afternoons. I’m just worried about Em. That she’s going to get forgotten or all of us are busy and can’t go get her.”

“Can I make a suggestion?” Franky waited until she was sure Bridget was done talking. “Why don’t you just tell Tim that while he’s working on this project, I’ll look after Em after school? Then it doesn’t matter what time he finishes each day. She can come to the Centre on the bus like she was when you were looking after her and I’ll bring her to your place, or mine, or Tim’s when I’m done for the day. If she wants to help with the class that day, she can help me, or she can go in the office and work on her school stuff, or read, or have a nap. I mean, we’ll have to ask Tim of course, but the offer is there.”

“I think it’s a good idea, but won’t your boss mind?” Bridget actually thought it could be perfect for Emily, but she didn’t want Franky to get in trouble.

“Well, that’s Liz, so no.” Franky chuckled.

“Liz is your boss?” Bridget glanced over at her. “Why didn’t you say something?”

“ ‘Cause that’s not really what our relationship is like. I don’t look at her as a boss. She’s like the mother I wished I had.” If she was being completely truthful, Liz had done more for her than her own mother ever had.

They pulled up in front of Emily’s school and Franky saw mostly the same group of parents waiting there again today, including Owen’s mother. She had planned on waiting in the car while Bridget got her niece, but she couldn’t resist the chance to have a bit more fun.

The blonde walked to the edge of the group and saw Franky come up beside her out of the corner of her eye. The brunette wrapped her good arm around behind Bridget’s waist. She looked over and saw the mother looking at her again, the same way as during their first meeting, so Franky gave her a little nod and a wink. The woman cleared her throat and turned her attention back to the front doors of the school. Bridget couldn’t help but smile a bit, then she decided she could have her own fun.

“Oh, hey Cynthia. How have you been?”

“Not too bad, Bridget.” She kept her eyes forward. “I trust you’ve been well?”

“Yes, actually. Have you met Franky?” Bridget stepped back slightly so that Cynthia had a view of the brunette.

Franky removed her arm from around Bridget, and extended her hand. “Yeah, we met the other day, Gidge. Weren’t properly introduced though.”

Cynthia took her hand, “Ah, yes, you’re the…” She stopped mid-sentence.

“Girlfriend.” Franky smirked.

“Right, the girlfriend.”

Right on cue, the kids started coming out of the building, and Emily quickly found them.

"Hey, bub," Franky crouched down and gave her a hug.

"You're with us again for a bit today, love," Bridget told her. "Your Dad is tied up at work."

They got Emily settled in the car, then headed back towards Franky's apartment.

"Where are we going?" the young girl asked from the back seat.

Franky turned in her seat so that she could look at her. "We have to go to my apartment for a few minutes, okay?" The brunette could see that Emily was thinking about something, but in the end she just nodded her head and went back to looking out the window.

They pulled up to Franky's building, and Bridget walked with Emily while the brunette found her key. When they reached the door, Franky unlocked it and held it open, allowing them to enter first. She heard a door open down the hall, and saw Mrs. Watson stick her head out of her door. She quickly flipped her the finger, then went inside.

"I'm hungry," Emily said as soon as they arrived inside.

"Ah, I'm not sure there's much food around here. I haven't been here much." Franky started looking through the cabinets to see if there was anything for her to eat. "Can you wait until supper? We can start cooking as soon as we get home."

The young girl shook her head. “I didn’t eat lunch.”

“Why didn’t you eat, love? Is it still in your bag?” Bridget thought maybe Emily just hadn’t been hungry at lunch. If that was the case, the easy solution would be for the blonde to go get it out of the car for her to eat now.

“Dad never gave me one.”

Franky and Bridget exchanged looks, and the brunette motioned for Bridget to come closer so she could talk with her without Emily overhearing. "Gidge, how about we just order something in and eat here? She’s probably really hungry."

"Yeah, sure. I'll order while you go pack some clothes." She found her phone in her bag and was about to ask what she should order when Franky handed her a stack of menus from on top of the fridge.

"I thought you liked cooking." Bridget gave a small laugh.

"I like cooking for people. Cooking for myself is boring." She gave the blonde a quick kiss. "Order anything you want. I'll go pack."

Bridget sat down on the couch and began looking through the menus. Emily had followed Franky into the bedroom, and Bridget ignored their conversation for the most part. There was something that caught her attention though.

"Why are your clothes here?" Emily was looking at the jewellery that was laying on the brunette's dresser.

"I live here," Franky replied, as she grabbed a bag and placed it open on the bed.

"But you're always at Auntie Bridge's house." The girl held up a silver necklace, then exchanged it for another one.

"Yeah, I like spending time with her, and you." She grabbed some t-shirts and lightweight pants and placed them into the bag.

"If you like being there, why do you live here?"

Franky turned to see Emily reaching for the handle on her bedside table drawer. "Hey, hey Em," the girl turned her head to look at the brunette, "not that drawer, okay?" The girl shrugged and went back to looking at the necklaces on the dresser.

Franky threw a few more clothes into the bag, and went to zip it up, but realized that she couldn't do it with just one hand. "Hey, Em, can you give me a hand with this?" After a few seconds with no response, the brunette looked up and saw Emily holding up one of her necklaces with a charm shaped like a swallow on it. It was silver, and the chain was in two pieces, attached at the beak and tail. She walked over and sat on the bed behind the girl. "Do you like that one?"

Emily nodded, "Yeah, it's pretty."

"You can have it if you'd like." A big smile broke out across the girl's face. "Okay, go ask Auntie Bridge if she'll put it on for you."

Bridget had ordered their food and was sitting on the couch. She had heard Emily ask Franky why she lived here instead of with Bridget. The blonde tried to remember how many nights Franky had actually spent here since they'd started dating. She could only think of a handful, and she had hated every one of them. Normally, she felt like sharing her space with someone was a chore, something that she had to get used to. With Franky though, it seemed like it was more natural to have her there than to not. She smiled, thinking how sometimes the logic of a child was so simple, 'If you like being there, why do you live here?'.

"Auntie Bridge, can you put this on me? Franky said I could have it!" Emily handed her the silver necklace.

"Oh, that's a nice one! Yeah, come here and turn around." Bridget took the necklace from her, and fastened it around her neck.

"What did you order for us?" Franky asked, setting her bag beside the door.

"Chinese from this place." Bridget held up the menu.

"Ooo good choice, Gidge."

The food arrived, and they ate. Tim had called and said he'd be at Bridget's to pick up Emily around six, so they decided to head back there not long after they had finished.

********

Bridget had said she'd talk to Tim about Franky looking after Emily after school, so when he arrived, Franky made sure that she had the young girl occupied with her drawings outside.

"Hey Bridge, thanks for picking her up again." Tim sat his bag down beside the door.

"Yeah, no problem, but uh, actually I wanted to talk to you about that. You know I don't mind at all, I love having her here, but I'm going back to work next week, and Franky probably will be too. I'm just worried that if this happens again, there won't be anyone to pick her up."

"Bridge, I ca-"

Bridget held up a finger to stop him. "Franky actually had a suggestion. She's offered to have Em come by the Centre after school and stay with her. When she's done work, she can either bring her here or to your place, depending on if you're still working or not. She's got an office in the classroom that Em can go in if she wants to be alone, or she can help with the class." She could sense Tim's hesitation. "I think it'll be good for her, you know how much she loves to cook."

He watched Emily draw with Franky at the table out on the patio. "Yeah, I think it would be great for her actually." He looked back to his sister, who had been watching the pair outside as well. "How's she doing after everything that happened?"

"I think she's okay. She's definitely glad to be back home." Bridget paused, considering that word, and glanced back outside.

Tim watched Bridget, and a grin came across his face. "Bridge?"

The blonde was pulled from her thoughts. "Hmm?"

"Whatever you're thinking, just do it." He placed a hand on her shoulder and she gave a nod.

********

Franky and Bridget were laying in bed that night when Bridget decided to tell the brunette that Tim had agreed to let her look after Emily after school.

"Tim said he's fine with Em meeting you after school." Bridget cuddled in closer to Franky's side.

"That's awesome, babe! I wonder if I can get her a little jacket to match mine?" Franky reached for her phone to check online for one.

"Franky, baby, wait until the morning at least." Bridget gave a small laugh and pulled the brunette's hand back down to rest on her side. She looked up at the brunette's face and could see that she was deep in thought. "What's going on in there?" she asked gently.

"How has she been since they moved here?" Franky picked an imaginary piece of lint off her t-shirt.

"She's been okay," the blonde remembered back to the day she picked her up from the school. How the principal had said Emily was acting differently now. "I think. It's just been an adjustment for both of them."

Franky nodded, seeming to accept Bridget's answer. "Liz said she hasn't been going to the classes at the centre."

Bridget picked her head up. "What?"

"Yeah, Liz said she hasn't been there since I've been gone. They all thought maybe she didn't want to go if I wasn't there, but I thought she'd be okay. Liz has looked after her before."

"Maybe Tim assumed that the class was cancelled since you were gone." Bridget shrugged. That seemed like the most likely explanation to her. She wished she'd thought to ask if Emily had been going though. She knew how much the girl enjoyed the class. "She'll get to spend lots of time there now though."

"Yeah, I'm gonna teach her everything," Franky smiled.

Bridget reached up and cupped the brunette's cheek. Every so often, she remembered Franky's final words to her as they fell asleep together that night in Wentworth, and this was definitely one of those times. "I love you so much, baby."

"I love you too, Gidge." Franky pulled her in for a kiss, and then Bridget settled in against her for the night.