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The long night before the fight

Chapter Text

Vera stood in her darkened office and stared out of the window, thinking. She looked at her watch and sighed. It was 7:30pm in November, the brown leaves falling from the trees into the parking lot next to her window. Rain was falling in fat drops down the glass, making everything blurry. Vera knew the prisoners were being counted and standing out their cells while the guards called out their names, leaving them ready to spend another night in prison.
But there was one prisoner that Vera found herself thinking about more: Prisoner Ferguson. She was now down in protection, spending her last night there before she would be once again moved back Into general first thing the next morning.
Vera wondered how long Joan would last in amongst the other prisoners. It was almost as If Joan was resigned to the possibility of her not living for much longer. Vera shook her head. The minute they started feeling sorry for her is the minute she will strike. Vera reluctantly admitted that she learnt that from Ferguson herself when she was Governor and advising them against Bea Smith. Now Joan was doing the same thing, Vera thought with a wry chuckle.
Joan left Vera with mixed feelings. On the one hand, she wished Joan would die, but on the other hand, Vera felt drawn towards Joan and a little bit of empathy towards her.
Like her, Vera knew Joan had a tough, lonely life growing up, but even so, Vera didn’t go round killing people. Vera wondered how long Joan would last now that Bea was dead.
She frowned, thinking. She would have to keep a close eye on Ferguson. A very close eye Indeed.

Later that evening, at 8pm, Joan lay in her protected cell and was lying on her bed facing the ceiling. But she didn’t plan on going to sleep. She had too much to think about; plan, strategise and self preservation. As Vera had warned her, the other prisoners were out for her blood. She could hear them sharpening their shivs and what not.
She wasn’t too worried- if she died, then she died, knowing that what she would do is fight back and was in self defence.
After all, she had a pretty good chance of fighting back, thanks to her training in her favourite sport, fencing. Her father had taught her a lot about self defence and when to strike.
Joan was sure that the other prisoners didn’t know about her fighting skills, so that gave her an advantage.
The mattress didn’t make it easy to fall asleep anyway, Joan thought as she turned in her bed. At least the beds in general were better than this.
Joan made a mental note to tell Vera to spend more of their budget on the beds in the slot and protected cells. Joan groaned. Since she did nothing but read she felt unable to sleep.
With a sigh, Joan stepped up to the door where Officer Murphy was standing. Joan rolled her eyes. She had hoped it was Jake’s turn, not Murphy.
Still, she needed someone to talk to. Standing up, Joan pressed the buzzer. “Officer Murphy?” she asked.
With a grunt Murphy turned round, her arms folded across her chest. “What do you want, Prisoner Ferguson?” she demanded in a no nonsense tone. Joan shrugged. “Just a Chat,” she said, wondering what Murphy’s problem was. Murphy raised an eyebrow, then narrowed her eyes suspiciously at her.
“About what?” she asked. Joan gestured to the bed. “I can’t sleep on these old mattresses. Please tell Vera to get newer ones,” She said.
Murphy smirked. “If that’s all you’ve got to worry about, then consider yourself lucky,” She said before turning her back on the cell door once more.
Joan sighed and settled back into bed. It was going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

It was after midnight when Vera went down to protection. She finally admitted to herself that in spite of everything, she was worried about Joan and how she would cope in general the following morning. So in stead of going home, Vera stayed on hoping to catch some quiet time with Joan when no one was around except the officer guarding Joan’s cell.
She stepped into the glaring light of the protection unit, and walked to Joan’s cell where Officer Murphy was keeping a close eye on her.
Murphy looked up in surprise when she saw Vera approaching. “Governor?” she asked with a raised eyebrow. Vera sighed. “Take a smoke break, Murphy. I need to have a couple of minutes with Prisoner Ferguson,” Vera told her. Murphy shrugged and nodded before walking away.
As she approached the cell, she was surprised to see Joan sit up in her bed. Vera thought she’d be asleep. Joan’s mouth twisted into a tired smile as she rubbed her eyes. “Ah, a visit from the Governor. Am I dreaming? To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit at this late hour Vera?” Joan quipped after moving towards the glass and pressing down the speaker button.
Vera hesitated briefly, wondering if she was doing the right thing in letting her guard down around Joan. But as she studied her face, Vera could see the tiredness and weariness in Joan’s eyes and dark circles under them.
She took a deep breath, folding her arms across her chest. “I’m here to ask you how you’re feeling, Prisoner Ferguson,” she started. Joan raised an eyebrow as she studied Vera In surprise. Was she being sarcastic? Joan wondered.
But Vera just stared back at her, a little uncomfortably, Joan noticed.
Joan smiled. “I’m feeling good, thank you for your concern Vera,” Joan replied, tightening her grey robe around her as she spoke into the speaker.
Vera nodded. “Good,” she said finally, before turning around. She hesitated before taking a step forward. “You came all the way down just to ask me that? Why aren’t you at home?” Joan asked her. Vera thought she could also hear concern in Joan’s soft tone of voice.
Vera turned round again. “I can’t go home,” she confessed. “Tomorrow is a big day for you. We have to make sure you’re guarded at all times, and I’m still filling in the rosters for every guard that will be assigned to you,” Vera explained. “Excuses,” Joan said softly. “Excuse me?” Vera asked, guarded and offended. “You just want to see me suffer,” Joan accuses her.
Vera rubbed her temples in frustration. “No Joan, I really didn’t-,” she started, but then stopped herself. Had she really called Joan by her first name? Vera thought In alarm. Biting her lip, she looked up to see if Joan had noticed. She did. Joan raised her eyebrows and studied Vera once more.
“You really are worried about me,” she said, a slight tone of disbelief and wonder creeping into her voice. Vera sighed. “We are going to keep a close eye on you, Prisoner Ferguson,” she said a little bit more friendly as she realised it was probably a long time since Joan had felt any tenderness towards her. Vera met Joan’s eyes and saw pain and loneliness In them.
Vera felt guilty as she knew Joan probably didn’t have much love in her life, and now her life could end any day when she was put back in general. “Thank you Vera,” Joan finally said in a quiet voice. Just then footsteps approached the cell and Vera turned to see Officer Murphy standing next to her. “Governor,” she said. Vera nodded.
“Thank you for the break. Appreciate It,” Murphy told Vera. “Good. Stay here until Mr Stewart arrives won’t you,” Vera told Murphy. Murphy nodded as she resumed her place In front of Joan’s cell. “Good Night,” Vera Said to them curtly. “Good Night Vera,” Joan said softly, which made Vera stop but she didn’t turn round. She then carried on walking towards her office, planning the rest of the paperwork.

Chapter Text

9am the next day

The next day dawned sunny but cloudy as a typical November morning. Joan was escorted first thing and lead across the corridors with her basket, and her head held high. She felt more confident after her meeting with Vera last night, at least there was one person who cared about her.
Officer Murphy tailed behind her and lead her to her cell before closing Joan’s cell door behind her. Joan sat down on the bed and sighed.
Kaz now knew she was the one that turned her in, so Joan knew she would be the first person she’ll be seeing at laundry.
Joan leaned back against the wall. Then there was a knock on her door. She looked up to see it was Allie, looking in with a weary expression on her face. Joan gestured for her to come in, and Allie opened the door before coming into Joan’s cell.
“I hope you’re ready for what the women might do to you today,” she said solemnly, with her arms folded across her chest.
Joan nodded and chuckled in resignation. “You don’t think I’ve thought about nothing else all night, Novak?” she told her. Allie shook her head. “Why are you even in general, Ferguson. Do you want to get bashed?” she asked.
Joan sighed. “No, Novak, no. I’m just ready to defend myself, that’s all,” she told her cellmate calmly and quietly. Allie rolled her eyes and left Joan’s cell. She then went to Bea’s old unit in H1 and looked around for Boomer. She found Boomer eating a packet of Monte Carlos and watching TV. “Boomer, have you seen Kaz?” Allie asked her.
Boomer shrugged. “Last time I saw her she said she was going to the showers,” she told Allie, all the while not taking her eyes off the TV.
“Thanks, Boomer,” Allie told her. Boomer simply shrugged before Allie left the unit. She entered the shower room a few seconds later, only to find Kaz was the only one in there taking a shower.
“Kaz,” she said. Kaz turned round and smiled at her from over the shower curtain. “Hey Bubba. You okay?” she asked her as she showered. “I just spoke to Ferguson,” Allie informed her as she sat on the benches behind Kaz’s shower. Kaz’s eyes narrowed as she turned back to her shower. “Where is she and what did she have to say for herself?” she asked. Allie told her everything and Kaz sighed a loud sigh.
“ That woman’s unbelievable,” she said with a shake of her head. “I know, right?” Allie agreed. “So what shall we do?” she asked. Kaz turned back round and smiled at her. “I’ve got a plan,” she told her with a wink. Allie couldn’t help but grin back in relief. “I love your plans, Kaz,” she told her cellmate. Kaz grinned back mischievously at her friend.
“I know you do. We’ll sort it out at laundry. I’ve organised for Ms Smiles and Brenda to have a smoko break while we sort Joan out,” she told Allie. Allie nodded. “See you there then, Kaz,” she said. “Yeah, see you,” Kaz replied before continuing with her shower.

Sonia Stevens made her way to laundry that afternoon with Liz right with her.
Sonia had heard from Boomer that something will go down about Joan at laundry and Sonia was keen to see what it was. The prisoners seemed to know as they gave her a grin and a big thumbs up sign. After Juice smirked and gave her a thumbs up, Sonia’s curiosity got the better of her and she asked Liz what was going on.
Liz shrugged. “I think Joan’s getting a taste of her own medicine, love,” she explained to Sonia. Sonia raised an eyebrow as someone raised their hand and gave her a high five before continuing their way to the laundry. The whole prison was buzzing with anticipation of what was going to happen, so much so there was a big crowd at the laundry door and Sonia had to push her way through with the others for a place in the laundry room.
This is going to be interesting, she thought to herself as she took her place next to Liz and waited to see the drama unfold.