Vera sleepily opened her eyes, expecting her lover to still be asleep by her side -- instead she saw an empty half of the bed. She reached across to see if it was still warm, it wasn't. She must've woken up awhile ago. Vera knew that if Joan had a chance to sleep in before a later shift, she would. She huffed, Joan doesn't fence on Wednesdays, it's her 'recovery day' as she calls it. Vera pushed herself into a sitting position before slowly dragging herself out of the king size bed.
On her way downstairs, she popped her head into the bathroom -- it was empty. Vera hoped that the woman was somewhere downstairs being super quiet. She tiptoed down the stairs carefully and made her way into the kitchen. Her eyes automatically gravitated towards the note lying on the kitchen bench. She wandered over to it, picking it up. Vera almost didn't want to open it. Only Joan Ferguson would fold it to such perfection and she was probably the only person capable of doing it with such ease. She unfolded it and read it.
I took your shift and I swapped my own one. I'll be home at 3:45pm.
I made sure there's bread and there's some soup for lunch. I left out
a movie for you to watch in the lounge room.
Vera chuckled, placing the note back on the kitchen bench. She was surprised that Joan decided to give away her shift to someone else instead of doing a double. Joan loved working, so it made Vera wonder. Vera noted to ask her about it.
The woman gracefully walked to the pantry, opening it to grab the bread that Joan had 'made sure' was there. When Vera first started staying over, she refused to eat anything other than toast for breakfast, forcing Joan to go and buy her some most mornings until it became a habit of hers. Joan believed that it didn't give her the right amount of energy necessary for the day ahead which Vera rolled her eyes at.
Vera strolled over to the lounge room, seeing the dvd sitting on the coffee table and beside it another perfectly folded note. She picked up the movie in one hand and held the now unfolded note in the other.
Figured that you might like this
guilty pleasure of mine.
Vera smiled causing little creases to appear besides her eyes. She read the title of the dvd, 'Carol.'
Joan locked her black Lexus as she walked swiftly off towards her prison. Her prison. She entered the reception part of the prison, greeted by Will Jackson at the front desk. She flashed him a short smile before signing in. Perks of being an officer at the prison, you didn't have to wait in line like the visitors who stared at her with wide eyes as she passed them. She ignored them.
As soon as she entered the main part of the prison, free of visitors, the clock ticked to 7:15am signally the start of Vera's shift, which was now hers. She couldn't get anyone to take this particular shift due to its timing, meaning she'd either have to do a double or give her actual shift to someone else. She had someone in mind for that.. Joan's shift didn't clash with Matthew Fletcher's yesterday, by taking Vera's shift she was now on at the same time as him. As she made her way to her office, she bumped into Linda Miles.
"Miss Miles, would you be able to swap with Mr Fletcher's position in the yard and send him to my office please?" the Governor requested, looking at the blonde officer.
Linda nodded, "yes, Governor."
Joan carried on her to way to her office, once she reached the door, she scanned her card to unlock it. She pushed the door open and was greeted with the familiar calming scent of cleaning products. She kept her office in pristine condition. Not a speck of dust. She couldn't afford to suddenly become sick or suffer from allergies. She would only take a day off if absolutely necessary. She closed the door behind her made her way around her desk. Joan sat down in her chair, she knew that Mr Fletcher would be here any moment.
Speak of the devil. The officer knocked on her door multiple times.
"Come in, Mr Fletcher," Joan called out. She watched him walk in with her dark eyes which revealed absolutely nothing. Joan scanned him up and down, she knew he wasn't the best officer at the moment, but his appearance alone was appalling. She hated this man with everything she had in her.
"You wanted to see me, Governor," Matthew spoke, standing in front of her desk after closing the door.
"Yes, yes, sit down. I wanted to ask how you think you are going currently?" Joan smiled at him in the most genuine looking way that she could. The man frowned at her briefly as he sat down in one of the chairs facing her.
"I'm doing fine, Governor," he replied blankly. Joan smirked.
"Ah, really?" she said, glaring at his messily tucked in shirt. His standards were awfully low, unlike her own. Perfection and only perfection.
"Lets talk about the other day, shall we? Outside my office with Deputy Governor, Miss Bennett," Joan started. She had to remind herself to speak with complete and utter professionalism.
"Governor, it was nothing. We don't need to discuss it," Mr Fletcher stated, scratching the side of his face. Joan noticed the dark circles under his eyes. She assumed he was hung over. He had some kind of alcohol issue. The Governor pushed herself out of her chair, standing to her full height.
"I'm only going to ask you once, were you or were you not under the influence of alcohol, Mr Fletcher?" Ferguson questioned with a demanding voice, glaring at the pathetic man.
"Uhh... I'm not doing that well and I-"
"Simple question, Mr Fletcher. Were you or were you not?" Joan pushed for an answer. Anything to add on top of the official complaint that she would get Vera to complete.
"Yes, Governor," he sighed, looking at the ground to avoid her stare.
"After your shift, you are suspended for a week. You will never turn up to my prison intoxicated ever again, understood?" Joan snapped, making his eyes shoot to her own. She would get him removed once Vera writes up an official complaint.
"You're also doing a double. Someone needed to swap shifts. Check the new roster," Joan added, smiling sarcastically at the man. Matthew groaned, pushing himself from the chair. Joan strode over to him, making him freeze.
"If I see you ever touch Miss Bennett or any other officer like that ever again, I will report you to the board myself," she threatened, glaring at the man who looked like he had pissed himself.
"Get out," she whispered, turning on her heel to sit back at her desk. He was gone before she knew it. She huffed, sitting in her chair. She wanted to destroy that man.
"Joan," a familiar voice startled her from her anger, she looked up and was greeted with her father. She knew he wasn't actually there. Her anger was the only think that she could think of that triggered him.
"You must control your anger," he spoke, confirming her thoughts. Joan frowned, tensing her jaw.
"H-.. He touched Vera! He touc-"
"She is a distraction, Joan. She will hurt you. They always hurt you." Joan squeezed her eyes shut for a few seconds before opening them again. He was gone. She stared at the place that he was once standing seconds ago. Was he right?
Joan pulled open her drawer and grabbed the stack of paperwork that needed to be done before she left the building.
Vera watched as the credits started signalling the end of the movie. She now had a new favourite movie. She'd ensure that she and Joan would watch it together in the near future. She also thought it was cute how she left that for her.
Vera glanced at the clock. 3:53pm. Surely Joan wasn't starting to make a habit of being 'late.' She pressed stop on the remote and put on whatever was on channel 7. The news would be on soon. Vera jumped, hearing the front door open and close. A smile spread to her face. She absolutely hated being alone, she had her mother with her when she lived there. Even if they didn't get along, just knowing someone else was in the house was comforting. Vera jogged to the hallway, seeing the taller woman releasing her immaculate bun, letting her hair fall to her shoulders. She looked up to Vera who was smiling sheepishly from the doorway leading to the lounge.
"I missed you," Vera mumbled, her cheeks warming up. Joan walked over to her and pulled her into her arms. She leaned her head on top of the shorter woman's head.
"I missed you too, Vera," she replied, a small smile playing on her lips. Joan released Vera, still keeping her at arms length. Vera suddenly smirked smugly causing Joan to roll her eyes.
"You're late by exactly..." Vera glanced at the clock, "11 minutes." Joan scoffed, moving towards the kitchen. She kept in mind that she had to persuade her to write a formal complaint regarding the matter with Matthew Fletcher. She could hear Vera following slowly behind her.
"I'm cooking tonight, what do you fancy?" Vera spoke up whilst opening the fridge to grab a bottle of red wine.
"I don't mind, Vera. You ask me that everytime," Joan answered, yawning from waking up early. Vera had to always ask her mother that, unlike Joan, she'd always receive a different answer.
Vera grabbed a wine glass, "do you want a glass?" Joan replied with a nod of her head, she was deep in thought about what her father said to her. Vera sat down in one of the stools across from where Joan was leaning on the kitchen bench. She was spaced out, which wasn't unusual. Vera poured two glasses of wine, pushing one towards Joan whose eyebrows were now knitted with worry. Vera reached across the kitchen bench to grasp Joan's hand. Joan's gaze turned to their joined hands.
"How was your shift?" Vera asked, tilting her head to the right. She took a sip of her wine, it was really good. She kept note to buy some more of it as she doubted that it would last long.
"The prison was fairly quiet. Still talk of the women taking down Doyle as top dog. Nothing out of the ordinary. I just filled out the paperwork," Joan answered, also taking a sip of her wine. She placed it back down, looking back up to Vera.
"I spoke with Mr Fletcher today," the Governor started, watching for Vera's reaction. She remained fairly emotionless.
"He's suspended for a week, he admitted to being under the influence of alcohol, as suspected," Joan spoke smugly before turning serious again, "Vera, I advise that you write a formal complaint regarding his... unacceptable behaviour," Joan spat the last bit out as if it was bitter. Vera picked up her glass, taking a big gulp of the red wine.
"What will happen to him if I do?" Vera questioned, raising an eyebrow at her lover. Joan figured that Vera did care what happened to him despite everything.
"Depending on the nature of the behaviour, it'll be taken to the board or his suspension will be extended," Joan replied, biting the inside of her cheek. Vera looked uninterested, playing with the bottom of her wine glass. Vera was conflicted on the matter. She knew that she should, but making him hate her and as the Deputy Governor, having an officer hate you isn't the greatest. Fletch did try apologise also.
"Vera," Joan spoke, making Vera glance up at her, "don't tell me that you're considering not writing one..."
"Joan, he apologised and he also tried to fix everything!" Vera finally voiced her thoughts of the matter. Vera could see Joan's disliking towards that. The taller woman shook her head, briefing glancing towards the doorway seeing a silhouette of a person. Dad.
"Today, I said to him that we'd talk about the other day regarding the issue with you outside of my office... He had the decency to tell me that it was nothing! That there was nothing that needed to be discussed! From what I assume, he sexually harassed you and he called that nothing..." Joan said angrily, Vera could see the fire in her eyes. She truly did care for Vera. Again, Joan glanced towards the same doorway seeing that he was still standing there. Vera looked that way also, however, she saw nothing. Vera looked back at Joan, sighing deeply. A lazy smile appeared on Vera's face, causing Joan to think she was actually insane.
"This isn't a time to smi-"
"Joan... I'm smiling because you care so much and... you're hot when you're angry," Vera mumbled with a cheeky grin on her face, grasping Joan's hand again. Joan flushed red with embarrassment, despite her embarrassment, this felt right to her. Being with Vera made her feel like she was worth something. From her peripheral vision, she could see that the silhouette of her Dad was no longer there. Joan's thumb caressed Vera's smaller hand.
"Will you.. um... just be with me when I write this up?" Vera asked, looking hopefully towards her girlfriend. Joan nodded understandingly. She knew of other officers, females in particular, who needed help with writing up formal complaints of this nature. Reliving that moment again in your head and putting into words... She didn't want Vera to be alone in that. Especially knowing that Vera had considered him a friend before the incident.
"Thank you for the movie, by the way," Vera suddenly spoke, grinning at Joan. Joan couldn't help but blush. It was a guilty pleasure to her. She didn't particularly enjoy movies, especially comedy. She thought it was just stupid. Vera picked up her glass and gulped down the rest of her wine.