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Fire Meet Gasoline

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“Prosecution, call your final witness please" the judge said, addressing Jane.

Turning her attention to her wife, Allie could see that the redhead was just as confused as she was. As far as they were both aware all of the witnesses had already taken to the stand, and Jane certainly hadn’t mentioned anyone else when they had spoken that morning before court. As her lawyer said the name of the mystery witness Allie felt all the air rush from her lungs. Her legs felt like jelly, and she was pretty sure she would have fallen had she not already been sitting down. She must have heard wrong, there was no way that she would be here, especially not giving evidence against Aleksander. But as she turned her attention back to the stand, or more specifically the approaching figure, she came face to face with her mother. For the first time in fifteen years.

 

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Glancing over to her brother, Allie found that he looked just as shocked as she did. She’d played out so many different scenarios in her head, over the years, possible ways she might bump into her one day. Despite all that, she never actually thought it would happen, that he would once again be face to face with her mother, Eliza Novak, or Catley as she was now known. While she knew that they had divorced several years ago, it still seemed strange hearing her mother being called by her maiden name. Looking back up at the stand, Allie felt nothing, which surprised her a little. She wasn’t sure if it was the shock of seeing the woman who had willingly allowed Aleksander to throw their fifteen-year-old daughter out on the street like trash, or if in this instance time had really been a great healer. Turning slightly, she locked eyes with Bea, the confusion evident on her face. After sending her wife what she hoped was a reassuring smile, she focussed her attention back onto the older blonde in front of her. Time passed in a blur for Allie, and despite the initial confusion as to why her mother would even be at the trial, everything started to make sense once she started to speak. Not only was the judge looking at the latest incident involving both herself and Bea, they were also reviewing everything that had happened prior to this, wanting to get a feel for the type of person Aleksander was. And while Allie was angry with Jane for keeping her in the dark, she could understand why. She doubted she would have agreed to this, and had been under enough stress recently, without the added pressure of her mother.

When Jane announced the name, and the woman walked onto the stand, Bea was at a complete loss as to who it was. Although if her wife’s reaction was anything to go by, her presence was unexpected. It wasn’t until the older blonde started to answer the questions directed her way that the penny dropped, and Bea realised that it was Allie’s mother. She should have noticed the resemblance, but it had been a stressful few days, and she wasn’t thinking particularly clearly. As she listened to Eliza talk about what life was like well over a decade and a half ago, Bea felt her heart break for her wife, and knew that whatever she was feeling, it would be hitting Allie a million times harder. Reaching out, she took her hand, thankful for what felt like the millionth time in a few days that she got to stand beside her throughout all this.

Initially Allie was surprised by some of the things Eliza was saying, and couldn’t work out if they were true, or if she was just using the court case to get back at Aleksander. Once the initial shock of seeing her mother wore off, the younger woman felt the anger building. How dare she just walk back into her life after all this time, especially without any warning. She was also mad at Jane too, and while the blonde appreciated everything that she had done for them, as their lawyer she shouldn’t have kept something as important as this, quiet. Although she couldn’t deny that her mothers’ evidence would only serve to strengthen their case against Aleksander. She just wasn’t expecting the first time their paths crossed in fifteen years, to be in a courtroom.

 

 

As she listened to the older woman recount all the times Aleksander had drugged her, threatened her, and offered her to his friends and business associates like she was nothing more than a toy, she felt sick. Allie had known from a young age that her father wasn’t a good person, but the more she heard, the less she blamed herself for the way he had treated her. As a kid she had assumed it was her fault, it must be, he didn’t treat her brothers like that. He had always favoured Sam, but even Oli was treated like a prince compared to how he was with her. And after she left home, so many bad things happened to her that it couldn’t just be a coincidence. Or at least that was what she had believed. But then out of nowhere her superhero had come crashing into her life, and her outlook on everything started to change.

When Bea took her home that first night, she was convinced the redhead would kick her out and slam the door in her face once she told her everything. That she would look at her like she was scum, dirt on the bottom of her shoe. It had happened to Allie so many times, that she had stopped counting, and in some ways, she had become numb to it. It didn’t really affect her anymore. But even back then, when they didn’t really know each other, she knew that Bea Smith was special. And that if the older woman had looked at her like most people did, it would have torn her apart. But she hadn’t, she had simply listened to her story, and offered her support and comfort. Something that was so alien to the blonde back then. Bea had done the same when she had opened up about her family situation as well, and on every other occasion when Allie needed her.

Bea was her rock, her safe place, and as time went on, she started to realise that she wasn’t to blame for every bad thing that had happened to her. That maybe she wasn’t unlovable after all. Allie seemed to have a bit of a mental block when it came to her family though, and she couldn’t understand why out of three kids, they only ever loved two. She had tried so hard to forget about them over the past few years, and since having a family of her own she didn’t think about them very often. But when she did, it still hurt. But as she listened to her estranged mother tell her story, things started to make a little more sense. It wouldn’t have mattered what she did, she would always be classed as inferior by one parent, simply because of her gender. She also realised that it wasn’t a superiority complex that led him to behave the way he did, it was fear. Behind all his bravado, his arrogance, he was afraid of women.  And the only way he could deal with that, was to belittle and abuse, both physically and mentally. He reminded her so much of the other parasite that had tried to break them, and when it came down to it, Aleksander Novak and Harry Smith were one and the same.

 

 

By the time Eliza had finished giving evidence, and being verbally abused by her very irate ex-husband, all Allie wanted to do was crawl into bed and hide from the world. Her mother’s words brought back so many painful memories, some of which she thought she had imagined at the time. The blonde had a vague memory of being locked in the attic when she was eleven, after refusing to play the piano for her father’s friends. She disliked them almost as much as she did him, one more so than the others. His name was Billy, but he made her call him Uncle Billy. He was Aleksander’s business partner, so spent a lot of time at the house, and Allie did her best to stay out of the way when he was there. While he never actually touched her, she definitely felt uncomfortable in his presence. He would find a way to get close to her, his eyes on her, watching her every move.

That particular evening Aleksander and Billy had landed a big contract at work, so had thrown a huge party at the house. It was late in the evening and they were all drunk. Allie had managed to stay out of the way for most of the evening, but after heading down to the kitchen to grab a drink when she thought the coast was clear, she came face to face with her father. He had a strange look in his eye, and kept glancing nervously towards the door that led into his office. Oli had been at a cricket training camp all week, and Sam was at a friend’s place for the night, so she was alone in the house with her parent and their friends. She wasn’t bothered about Sam, but always hated it when Oli was away as they would usually hang out together during these parties, avoid the adults at all cost.

As she turned to head back towards the stairs, she felt her father’s hand on her arm, stopping her in her tracks. He wanted her to play the piano for their guests, entertain them for a while, but all Allie wanted to do was sleep. It was late in the evening, she was tired, and had school the following morning, not that he cared about any of that. He didn’t like being told no at the best of times, so when she disobeyed him in front of his friends, she had to be punished. Tightening his grip on her arm, he dragged her down the hallway and back towards the stairs. As they were passing the door to Aleksander’s office the door opened, and her mother came stumbling out, her eyes bloodshot. A second or two later Billy walked out of the room, fastening the zipper on his pants before patting her father on the back and walking back towards the kitchen. Allie’s first thought on seeing her mother had been safety, assuming she would be on her side, and stand up to him. But she didn’t, she looked straight at her, although it felt like she wasn’t even seeing her at all, turned, and ran away. She looked embarrassed, scared, and thinking back, her mother had been more and more distant after that night. If what he had said was true, it would definitely explain the change in her. What Allie couldn’t understand though, was why she stayed with him for so many years. The judge telling Eliza she was free to step down brought the blonde back to the present, her wife squeezing her hand gently bringing her some comfort as her mind continued to race at what felt like a million miles an hour.

 

 

When the judge decided to break for lunch after issuing Aleksander with his final warning, the blonde pretty much ran from the courtroom, Bea finding her pacing up and down in the waiting room they had been allocated for the duration of the trial. As soon as Allie bolted the redhead was hot on her tail, wanting to be there to support her in any way she could. Opening the door to the waiting room, Bea rushed over to her wife, wrapping her arms around her and stilling her movement. “It’s ok, I’ve got you” she said, running her fingers up and down the younger woman’s back until she felt her starting to relax. “Whatever you need, I’m right here” Bea added, kissing the top of her wife’s head.

The stress of the past few days, mixed in with the shock of seeing her mum again was all a bit too much for the blonde, and as soon as she felt the older woman’s strong arms wrap around her the dam broke. Every memory that had been dragged up, dissected in front of a room full of strangers had left her feeling disgusting, worthless and unlovable again. But the second she felt Bea’s arms wrap around her, all of that disappeared. “Why now…after all these years, why does she choose today of all days to show up” Allie sobbed, clinging on to the only person who had ever made her feel like she was worth something…that she mattered.

On the other side of the door a concerned Debbie was talking to Oliver, who seemed just as surprised as his sister by their mother’s appearance. Edith was standing guard by the door, making sure no one disturbed the couple inside the room. She had seen the pain in young Allie’s eyes as she fled the courtroom, and wanted to protect her any way she could. After sending Debbie and Oliver to get coffees for everyone, she scanned the corridor, her jaw clenching when she saw that woman approaching. Standing as tall as possible, she sent the other woman a steely glare, letting her know that her presence was not appreciated, or required. Edith felt for Eliza, and if what she has said was true, she had suffered tremendously at the hands of her ex-husband. But right now, Allie was her priority, and nothing else mattered.

Eliza was nervous, but knew that she had to try and speak to her daughter. When she saw the look on Allie’s face, she regretted asking Jane to keep her a secret, and knew she had screwed up. Again. She didn’t deserve a second chance after what she allowed that monster to do to her little girl all those years ago, but she owed Allie an explanation. It was the least she could do. Although in hindsight, surprising her in the way she had, had been a bad move. Taking a few minutes to steady her nerves, she turned the corner and headed down the corridor towards the room she knew her daughter would be in. What she hadn’t expected was to find an elderly woman standing guard by the door, the intensity of her glare sending a shiver down Eliza’s spine. She was just about to speak, when the older woman beat her to it, and her tone was just as intimidating as her glare.

“Can I help you?” Edith asked, the tone of her voice letting the other woman know that she had no desire to help in any way.

“I’m looking for Allie…is she in there? I need to speak to her”

“She is, but it’s not a good time right now. It’s been a rough few days for her, for both of them, and they just need a bit of time alone”

“I…I just want to talk to her, explain everything” Eliza replied, stumbling over her words and feeling small under the older woman’s glare.

“Then leave me your number, or that e-address thingy. I’ll pass it on, and if she wants to speak, she’ll contact you”

The pressure of being on the stand, as well as seeing her daughter again was getting to Eliza, and all she wanted to do was explain everything to Allie, before she lost her nerve. “Who the hell do you think you are, telling me what I can and can’t do? Who I can or can’t see? She’s my daughter, and I’ll do what I like” she snapped, frustrated by the woman who was stopping her from saying what she desperately needed to say. She had been in two minds as she drove towards the court house that morning, and on more than one occasion had almost called Jane and told her she couldn’t go through with it. But she had let her daughter down on so many occasions in the past, the least she could do was turn up and help her now.

“I’m her grandmother, that’s who I am, and I’ll be your worst nightmare if you don’t back off” Edith bit back as she moved in closer, getting right up in the younger woman’s face. “You need to show that girl some damn respect. Now leave your number, or don’t, I couldn’t give a rat’s arse either way. But I will not allow you to hurt her any more than you already have. Do I make myself clear…?”. The pair were so busy bickering that they didn’t hear the door click open, or see the red-haired woman peering out of the small gap, watching them.

Hearing a commotion outside of the room, Bea loosened her hold on her wife, before crossing the room and opening the door slightly so she could peer out, making sure to keep the blonde hidden. She spotted her gran first, and wasn’t sure who she was speaking to until she heard the second voice more clearly. Glancing to the side, she watched on as Allie joined her, her face turned from annoyed to amused, as her gran put Eliza in her place. Despite the hurt and confusion that had been threatening to tear her apart for the past hour, Allie couldn’t help but smile as she heard Edith defend her. She may have been dealt a shittier hand than most when it came to parents, but she had definitely hit that jackpot with the family she had now. People were so quick to say that blood was thicker than water, but she was living proof that it wasn’t always the case.

Closing the door quietly, Bea decided that it was best to let her gran deal with Eliza for now. Allie had been through enough already, and another encounter with her estranged mother was the last thing she needed right now. Leading the blonde over to the sofa at the other side of the room, she sat down before pulling Allie into her lap and wrapping her arms around her. No words were needed as they lost themselves in one another’s gaze, everything and everyone around them blurring into insignificance, as they found all the reassurance that they needed in each other. Bea’s chocolate orbs spoke of safety, comfort, love, acceptance and home and Allie’s tear-filled azure pools of the same, as well as a deep gratitude for the woman who always stuck by her. No matter what.

 

 

It felt like they had been waiting hours, yet seconds at the same time, but eventually they were called back into the courtroom for the verdict. Allie’s stomach was churning, her legs felt like jelly, and all she wanted to do was turn around and run in the opposite direction. But when she felt Bea’s hand slip into hers, she found the strength she needed to walk through the door and face her father for what she hoped would be the last time. Once everyone was settled the judge requested that Aleksander be brought to the stand, and not wanting to take any chances, had instructing the guards to make sure he remained cuffed following his earlier outburst.

Time seemed to stand still as the list of charges were read out, yet despite the long list, Aleksander was as arrogant as ever though, a sickening smirk on his face as his gaze shifted from his daughter to his ex-wife, then back again. It was clear by the look on his face that he thought the charges would be dropped, and he would walk free. For a split-second Allie thought that too. But then the verdict was announced, and while most of it was lost on the blonde, there was one part she heard loud and clear. Eighteen years, Aleksander had been sentenced to a minimum of eighteen years behind bars. She was finally free of him, free to leave the past behind, and make a future with her family. Allie wasn’t naïve enough to think that all her insecurities would miraculously vanish now that he was out of her life, but knowing they no longer had to look over their shoulder all the time would be a massive step in the right direction. While she wouldn’t change anything about her relationship with Bea, she was glad the two main obstacles in their lives had been dealt with. Although Aleksander’s behaviour had been more of a surprise than Harrys.

Feeling an arm slip around her waist, Allie turned slightly, before being pulled into a hug by her wife. “It’s over Alliecat, he can’t hurt you anymore. He lost…he was always going to lose” Bea said, pulling back slightly so she could gaze into tear filled blue eyes. “I love you, beautiful girl” she added, wiping the tears away before leaning in and kissing the blonde softly.

As the couple made their way over to their family, Aleksander was being led out of the room, although he wasn’t about to go quietly. He had tried getting away from the guards, but the hold they had on him was too tight, which only added to his frustrations. Aleksander could feel the anger building, threatening to explode, and while he knew he wouldn’t be able to harm Allie physically, that didn’t mean he couldn’t still hurt her. “You may think you’ve won, but you never will. You should be ashamed of yourself, you’re dirty, disgusting, and you’ll never be anything more than a worthless abomination. You’re a sewer rat, and I should have drowned you at birth” he yelled angrily across the room, his face so red he looked like a tomato that was about to explode. “And as for you…” he continued, turning his attention to Bea, “Your ex-husband clearly didn’t hit you hard enough”.

Before Allie could even begin to form a response, Edith stepped in, moving across the room with lightning speed in a bid to get as close to Aleksander as possible. “You’re the abomination, you piece of shit. Young Allie is one of the best people I know, which is a miracle given she had you as a father. That girl has got more integrity in her little toe than you will ever have. You’re pathetic, you’re weak, and you lost…to a woman. I bet that pisses you off more than anything doesn’t it, you sexist, homophobic prick. Enjoy living in a concrete box for the next eighteen years…oh, and don’t drop the soap” the elderly woman yelled back, in a tone that shook everyone in the room. “Oh, and if you ever speak about either of my granddaughters again, you’ll know what pain is” she added, smiling in satisfaction when she rendered him speechless.

Turning on her heels, Edith made her way back over to the group, throwing Allie a sly wink before accepting the high five Boomer was offering. “Right, now the shit’s been scraped from your shoe, let’s get out of here” she said, taking both Bea’s and Allie’s hand in hers and leading the pair of them out of the courtroom, Debbie and Shayne right behind them.

 

 

As soon as the fresh air filled her lungs, the dam broke and Allie burst into tears, her family surrounding her and offering words of comfort. While she appreciated everyone being there, and all the support they had given her during her ordeal, right now all she wanted was Bea. As the tears continued to fall, Allie felt like each droplet was washing away a small piece of the hurt and blame she had been carrying around for so many years. After composing herself a little, she lifted her head just in time to see a flash, before several cameras were thrust into her face as the owners pushed and shoved at her family in a bid to get closer. With all the stress of the past few hours, they had all failed to notice the paparazzi lurking across the street from the courthouse, but they had been quick to spot the blonde.

The second she realised what was happening, Bea stepped protectively in front of her wife in an attempt to shied her from the cameras. While she appreciated that this was a high-profile case, and they were only doing their job, she wished they would piss off and go do it somewhere else. When the more persistent of the group tried to push her to one side in a bid to get a clear shot of Allie, she raised her arm, knocking his camera away before stepping in closer, pretty much growling in his face. It took Edith a minute or two to figure out what was going on, but once she did, she spotted Bea getting up in one of the photographers’ face, and knew she needed to step in before her granddaughter did something reckless. She understood why the redhead had responded in the way she did, and Edith would do the same in her position. But they had been through enough drama recently, and she didn’t want Bea getting herself into any trouble.

Edith was just about to do something to distract the mass of persistent photographer’s, when Boomer came charging out of the court house and straight over to them. Grabbing the shirt of the guy that Bea was getting into it with, she lifted him up, walked him a little further down the street, before dropping him on his arse. Turning around, she bounded back over to the intruders, a determined look in her face. “Right…who’s next?” she shouted, a sense of pride washing over her as the remaining photographer’s quickly disbursed, all thoughts of getting a good picture forgotten.

The things that Boomer had heard during the trial were horrific, and no one should have to suffer like that, especially Blondie. Even when she had so much going on in her life, she always made time for her, and unlike some, never once laughed when she got things a little bit wrong. Plus, she made Bea happy, happier than she had ever been. While she saw Franky as her sister, Blondie was her favourite cousin. So, if Boomer could protect her in any way, then she would. She was just about to ask if the younger woman was ok, when she felt herself being pulled into a hug, the blonde thanking her before kissing her on the cheek.

Once they were sure there were no more photographers lurking, they started to move away from the court house and towards the adjacent car park, Bea’s hand on Boomer’s arm stopping her friend in her tracks. Waiting until the others were a few steps ahead, Bea turned to her friend, giving her hand a squeeze as she spoke. “Thank you Booms, I can always rely on you to protect us”

“Yeah well, Blondie’s family, and so are you…not family like my sister though…she’s just a slut” the brunette replied, playing with the sleeve of her jacket nervously. “Did that make any sense?” she added, knowing wat she wanted to say, and what came out of her mouth were often very different.

“Perfect sense, and you’re our family too you know…”

“You think of me as family?”

“Of course I do Booms, you will always be a part of our family” Bea replied, the older woman picking her up and squeezing the life out of her. “Booms…not so tight…” she managed to get out, relief washing over her when she felt the brunette loosen her hold.

By the time they made it to the car park Franky and Bridget were waiting for them, the younger of the two had wanted to speak to Jane briefly so had hung back for a few minutes after the trial had ended. The tattooed brunette suggested that they should go out and celebrate the downfall of the Aleksander the “Great”, but one look in her wife’s direction told Bea that was the last thing that Allie needed right now. While she appreciated the support their family and friends had given them, they really needed some alone time to process everything. “We should celebrate, just not today. Maybe we could all meet up at the bar tomorrow night?” she suggested, knowing that her family would be in town for a couple more days.

“Aw come on Red, don’t be a buzz kill…” Franky threw back, completely missing the glare her wife was throwing her way. “Plus, Blondie looks like she needs a drink”

“I need something Doyle, but a drink isn’t it” Allie stepped in, slipping her arm around the redhead and cuddling up against her. Despite the positive outcome, she was feeling extremely raw, and just wanted to be with her wife. If anyone could make her feel better it was Bea.