DISCLAIMER: We all know I didn't create these characters. Heaven forbid I should be that creative. Shed, I'm sorry.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Yvonne Atkins was, to put it bluntly, a mess.
She'd been let back on the wing two days ago, much to Sylvia Hollamby's consternation. BodyBag's reaction to the news that Yvonne wasn't going to be shipped out for the assault had been the only bright spot of those days. It seemed like everywhere she looked Yvonne was confronted with something she'd fucked up - Roisin and Cassie's constant fighting, Lauren being on the wing...Maxi's empty bed.
The day after she got back from solitary Yvonne had found herself sneaking into Maxi and Al's cell as soon as the resident bulldog had gone to the works room. All traces of Maxi had been removed, as if she'd never been there. No-one talked about her. Yvonne realized Maxi hadn't been exactly popular but she'd still been one of them - an inmate. Yvonne felt that should at least count for something.
Roisin and Cassie's relationship had, if anything, deteriorated in Yvonne's absence. Every morning at unlock they both practically flew out of the cell, as if they couldn't stand to be in each other's company a moment longer. Cassie usually went off and hung around with the other inmates but Roisin... Well, she was getting more and more depressed and withdrawn in a way that reminded Yvonne horribly of Maxi in the final days of her life. That thought scared her beyond reason - she didn't think she could handle it if yet another of her mistakes went the same way as Maxi. She might just kill a screw if that happened rather than just punch them.
And then there was Lauren. Miss Betts had been kind enough to come down to solitary and warn her about that little surprise before she went back on the wing. Fenner had practically been walking on air when he'd come down to escort her back onto G-Wing and she'd taken great pleasure in letting him know she was already aware of what she'd find there.
Seeing Lauren on the inside had been a draining experience. Yvonne had been constantly swinging between tears and anger. Lauren had seemed shocked - Yvonne supposed she hadn't expected it to be such a big deal. "I can handle it mum," she'd kept saying, as if that was all that mattered.
"I'm sure you can," Yvonne had replied. "But you shouldn't have to!"
Lauren didn't understand and Yvonne couldn't explain. Maybe a year ago she wouldn't have been so upset but...well, Maxi had happened since then. And Yvonne had seen first hand what prison could do to young girls who thought they could handle it.
"Are you coming to breakfast Yvonne?" Barbara asked, reaching up to lay her hand on Yvonne's shoulder. They'd been sharing a cell since Yvonne's arrival back on G1. The fact that this was Nikki's old bed hadn't escaped her - Yvonne wondered if Karen had done that deliberately, seeing as she was G-Wing's new resident serial dyke.
"Not hungry," Yvonne replied evenly. Barbara sighed but decided not to press the issue.
"I'll tell the Julies to save you something if you change your mind."
Yvonne nodded stiffly and turned to face the wall. It looked like this was going to be one of her 'lie in bed feeling sorry for herself' days. She hated speaking to anyone on days like these. She hated the concerned gazes of her friends and the funny looks the screws gave her. This was nothing to her 'if the world wants to fuck me over then I'll respond in kind' days however, when she did like to go out and socialize on the wing but only so she could pick as many fights as possible.
This wasn't like her. God knows she'd been through her share of shit in life but she'd never let it get to her. Yvonne 'nothing bothers me' Atkins, that was her. Nothing till now.
She wished she could see Karen. Last time they'd spoken she'd seemed fine, or at least better than she'd been in a while. They'd silently agreed to pretend a certain evening in solitary had never happened so Yvonne didn't feel she could ask her about anything personal. But she desperately wanted to know - was Karen in a better way because of what they'd done? Yvonne remembered feeling at the time that their lovemaking would help Karen - and she'd certainly seemed happier afterwards - but she couldn't be sure. The more time passed the more she worried. What if she'd made things worse yet again? Karen had seemed to be avoiding her after all. Maybe she was regretting it and couldn't stand to be around her.
I bet that's it, Yvonne thought. God. Everything I touch goes up in smoke. Cassie, Roisin, Maxi, Karen...
Yvonne jumped and scrambled round to face the intruder.
"Cassie?" she said, frowning. "What do you want?"
"You," Cassie replied. Yvonne flinched. "We all want you, back out there and not sulking in here. Now snap out of whatever this is and come and have some bloody breakfast!"
Cassie soon regretted her tone when Yvonne jumped off the bunk, demonstrating just how quickly she could go from 'feeling sorry for herself' mode to 'picking fights' mode. She grabbed her by the throat, pushing her up against the wall.
"If I say I'm not hungry then I'm not fucking hungry. If I say I don't want to go out and hang around with the tossers out there, then I don't go out. And if I tell you to piss off and leave me alone then you do it or else. Got that?"
Yvonne's grip tightened as she stared down at Cassie. Cassie started to choke, struggling to force air into her lungs.
"Mum!" Lauren appeared in the cell door. "For God's sake mum, what are you doing?"
Yvonne jumped away from Cassie as if she'd been burned, staring in horror as Cassie slumped down to the ground, coughing and spluttering. Lauren rushed over to Cassie's side, slipping an arm round her shoulders.
"I'm-" Yvonne began, cutting herself off as a sob rose in her throat. She turned her back on the two of them, leaning against the bed for support. "Just go," she said. "Both of you. Please." They were gone when she turned around. Yvonne slumped to the floor, holding her head in her hands.
"Are you okay?" Lauren asked gently, rubbing gently between Cassie's shoulder blades. They were in Cassie's cell, sitting on Roisin's bunk.
"Yeah," Cassie said, rubbing her throat but braving a smile. "I've had worse."
Lauren smiled back. "No need to act tough. Mum can be pretty scary when she wants to be."
"Don't I know it," Cassie replied, ruefully. "I only want to help, you know? She's been a really good friend to me in here."
"I know," Lauren said. "I don't know what's wrong with her. It can't just be cause I'm in here."
"No," Cassie agreed. "She was getting like this before. Ever since..." Cassie broke off, suddenly realizing that this had been building up ever since that afternoon when Yvonne had told her about Maxi being in love with her. Fuck, she thought. Maybe Yvonne was- She shook her head. No, she thought. Yvonne in love with Maxi? But then...it would explain how she was acting...
"What?" Lauren asked, breaking Cassie out of her rather disturbing thoughts. Before she could answer they were interrupted as Roisin walked into the cell. She stopped short when she caught sight of them, taking in their close proximity on the bunk and the fact that Lauren's hand was still on Cassie's back.
"Excuse me," she said stiffly. "Didn't mean to disturb you." With that she turned on her heel and stalked out of the cell, closing the door roughly behind her.
"Roche-" Cassie called, standing up. She stopped short before she got to door, shaking her head. "Fuck it," she said, returning to the bunk and sitting down heavily.
"What the hell was all that about?" Lauren said, turning to Cassie.
"Oh, it's nothing," Cassie shook her head. "She just gets...well...jealous." Lauren raised an eyebrow, storing that little snippet away for future reference. "Forget it," Cassie continued. "Listen - d'you want to talk later about snapping Yvonne out of this? I've got to go to the works room but I'm free at association."
"Sure," Lauren replied. "Come and see me in my cell...unless you think your girlfriend would get the wrong idea?" Or the right idea, she added silently taking the opportunity to look Cassie up and down and liking what she saw. Stop it, Lauren. She's attached.
"I can handle Roisin," Cassie replied. "See you later."
Karen was humming a tune to herself as she glanced over her lists of appointments for the next day. She was astounded to see how quickly she'd regained the confidence stolen from her by Jim. And she couldn't help but feel that it was all thanks to Yvonne. What she'd done was against all her professional ethics but it had helped more than she could say. She hadn't really spoken to Yvonne since then except to warn her about Lauren - and they'd silently agreed to pretend that night hadn't happened. It was easier that way, fewer complications for both of them. Karen didn't really know what she'd say even if they did see each other. She was worried it might be awkward. More than that, she was worried Yvonne might regret what had happened. Yvonne wasn't known for her harmonious relationships with officers after all and they hadn't been on the best of terms since Karen had foiled her escape attempt after the O'Kane incident. But making love to her had been wonderful and Karen didn't want to spoil the memory by seeing regret in Yvonne's eyes.
Of course, that might be difficult to avoid since Yvonne had put in a request for a meeting the next day. Karen's eyes widened. Officially it was to discuss her punishment for the assault (no privileges, no work, basic spends and a shared cell) but Karen couldn't help but think there was more to it than that. Yvonne had never requested to see her before.
Karen's hand started to shake slightly as she contemplated what seeing Yvonne might be like. Part of her wanted to deny the request and go into hiding somewhere...then again, a larger part of her wanted a repeat performance of that night in solitary. Stop that, she admonished herself. That night was a momentary aberration. She's a prisoner and you're an officer and that's just the way it is. As sensible as that sounded however, it couldn't stop the butterflies in her stomach as she signed the form that would grant Yvonne's request.
Cassie spend a good five minutes loitering outside Lauren's cell, trying to make sure she wasn't observed entering. The last thing she needed was Roisin seeing this. She really was a master at jumping to conclusions. Nights in their cell were bad enough already. Roisin never talked to her but she was kept awake long into the night by quiet sobs from the bunk below. Cassie knew Roisin was trying to keep her crying quiet so she pretended not to hear, even though it tore her up inside. She wanted to slide down next to her, hold her and kiss her until everything was okay. But they'd been drifting apart for so long Cassie didn't think she could scale that breach on her own.
Cassie knew of course that a good portion of that breach was her own fault. It didn't help that she'd been cheating on her for example. And here she was about to go for a private meeting in the cell of yet another Atkins...a very young and pretty Atkins at that.
"Hey," Lauren said as Cassie slipped in. "You can relax, there's no-one else here."
"Sorry, I'm being paranoid aren't I?" Cassie smiled. "There's a reason they call paranoia the prisoner's blight."
"Who's they?" Lauren asked as Cassie took a seat next to her on the bed.
"Eh...prisoners," Cassie replied. They both shared an almost nervous laugh at the admittedly bad joke.
"I can see I've got a lot to learn about being on the inside," Lauren said. "Maybe you could teach me."
Cassie swallowed. Was that supposed to sound so flirtatious?
"I'd have thought your mum would do that," Cassie replied, reminding Lauren of why they were here.
"Yeah," Lauren said, sobering. "If we can ever get her back to normal. Earlier you sounded like you had an idea about what's up with her?"
Cassie bit her bottom lip. She had an idea all right but she still wasn't sure how much she should tell Lauren. If Maxi really was what was bothering Yvonne then how could she tell Lauren without revealing their relationship? It wasn't her place to out Yvonne to her daughter. On the other hand...Yvonne needed help and she needed it soon. Lauren knew her best after all, she was in the best position to help her. But she couldn't do that without all the facts.
"What is it Cassie?" Lauren asked, seeing as Cassie didn't look like she'd be answering the question any time soon. Cassie squared her shoulders and took a deep breath.
"Lauren," she began. "Prison can change a person. It's its own little world, you know? And sometimes people change in ways you might never have expected."
Lauren nodded her understanding. "So you're saying mum's changed in here, yeah?"
"Yes," Cassie replied. "Look...this will probably come as a bit of a shock...and it's not really my place to tell you...but-" Cassie trailed off, suddenly getting cold feet.
"Come on," Lauren said after a the silence had stretched out for a few moments. "It can't be that bad."
"It's not bad," Cassie said hurriedly. "It's just-" She trailed off again.
"Oh come on," Lauren encouraged. "What is it? I know - she's shagged a screw, hasn't she?" They both laughed. "Hell?" said Lauren, "maybe she's even turned gay!" Lauren laughed even harder at that. Cassie's eyes widened but her face remained deadly serious. Lauren sobered quickly, looking incredulous.
"Cassie?" she said. "Are you serious?"
"Yeah," Cassie said after a moment. She ran her fingers through her hair. "There was this girl - Maxi. She and your mum were...well, you know...but- Maxi killed herself not long before you came here. That's why she was down the block when you arrived. She took a swing at this bitch screw who'd been disrespecting Maxi's body. We all thought she'd be shipped to the Shetlands for that one. Since Maxi...she's been different. But I've never seen her as bad as she was today."
Lauren was sitting open mouthed, still obviously in shock.
"Lauren," Cassie said, concerned. "Are you okay?"
Lauren gave herself a shake and then, to Cassie's surprise, started to laugh. "And to think," Lauren managed to say through the laughter. "For years I've been worried about coming out to her!"
When Lauren finally stopped laughing, which was a while later since she seemed to find the situation most amusing, Cassie brought them back to the matter at hand.
"Yvonne told me that Maxi was in love with her, or at least thought she was," Cassie said. "I didn't think Maxi was capable of love mind you but Yvonne seemed a bit worried. I never thought she could possibly feel the same of course but...now I'm not so sure. I've never seen her so depressed."
"Yeah," Lauren replied, finally sobering up. "I remember when grandad died she was a bit like this. Crying one minute, punching the wall the next."
Cassie winced. "Bloody hell. At least if she'd gone for the wall this time she'd have the bruises, not me." She reached up and rubbed her neck where a bruise was indeed beginning to form.
Lauren opened her mouth to speak, then closed it again. No, she thought. She's got a girlfriend. No flirting! But in the end the opening was just too good to pass up.
"Well," she said, sliding closer to Cassie. "If you're very good I might kiss 'em better."
Cassie smiled and looked down at her hands. "Lauren, look I-"
"No," Lauren said. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."
"No, it's okay," Cassie replied. Reaching out hesitantly she laid her hand on top of Lauren's. "It's not like I'm not tempted," she said. "More than tempted, if I'm honest. But..."
Lauren didn't wait for her to finish. Instead she leaned forward and captured Cassie's lips in a sudden kiss. Almost against her will, Cassie responded, moaning softly as Lauren's tongue traced her upper lip. Then, just as quickly as it had begun it was over. Lauren put some distance between them.
"I don't generally do this," Lauren said, her breathing ever so slightly quicker than normal. "Normally if I find out a woman I fancy's attached I give it up as a bad job. But you...Jesus Cassie..." She trailed off, lost for words. "Look," she continued eventually. "No presure okay? But I'll be in the chapel at about half seven tonight if you want to meet me. I won't be upset if you don't come so don't feel obligated. We'll figure out what to do about mum tomorrow, eh? Whatever happens."
Cassie nodded, trying to take this in. "Eh...right," she said. "I'll have to think go and think about this Lauren..."
"Yeah sure," Lauren replied. "Take your time."
"Eh...right," Cassie repeated eloquently. "Bye Lauren." As she left the cell Cassie silently wondered if wanting to have sex in chapels was an Atkins family trait or whether it was just a freaky co-incidence.
When Yvonne finally emerged from her cell it was evening. Aside from putting in the request to see Karen she hadn't spoken to anyone at all since Cassie. She felt sick to her stomach about what she'd done to poor Cassie. She'd thought she couldn't get any more disgusted with herself than she'd been over Maxi and everything else but apparently she was wrong. Cassie was a good friend and Yvonne had damn well nearly killed her. It was that which had finally made her realize what she needed to do. Seeing Karen was her first step to achieving that...but first she needed to see Cassie and Roisin. With any luck tomorrow she could begin to make a fresh start - but she needed to clear the air with those two first.
"Oi, Babs," Yvonne said as she spotted her cell mate. "Have you seen Cassie about?"
Barbara shook her head, looking a little uncertain.
I don't blame her, Yvonne thought. She's probably worried I'm gonna swing for her.
"What about Roisin then?" she said aloud.
"I think she's in the laundry room," Barbara replied. "Are you okay Yvonne?"
"Yeah," Yvonne managed a smile. "I'm fine." Or at least, I will be come tomorrow.
Barbara seemed satisfied with this response however, smiling warmly at her friend. "I'm so glad," she said. "We've all been worried about you, you know."
"I know," Yvonne replied. "Look Babs, I've got to talk to Roisin. See you at lock up, eh?" Still smiling, Barbara nodded.
When Yvonne got to the laundry room she didn't see Roisin at first. The room appeared to be empty and she was just about to turn around and leave again when she heard a slight rustle of cloth.
"Roisin?" she said, tilting her head. There was no answer but Yvonne didn't give up that easily. Moving further into the room she spotted a shoe sticking out from behind the furthest machine.
Roisin was on the floor, huddled against the wall. She didn't seem to have noticed Yvonne's presence and didn't look even when the other woman was standing over her. She was staring at something she was holding in her hands...something Yvonne couldn't quite see. She frowned and squinted her eyes. A brown package? What would Roisin be doing with-
The second she realized what it was Yvonne swooped down and grabbed the offending object from Roisin's grasp. That got her attention.
"Hey," she cried, scrambling to her feet. "Give me back my-"
"Drugs?" Yvonne finished for her. Staring right into Roisin's eyes Yvonne slowly opened the package and deliberately spilled the contents over the laundry room floor. Roisin watched in horror as the white powder she'd given Al a week's worth of phonecards for mixed with the spilt washing powder on the floor. "I thought you'd finished with this shit," Yvonne said, eyes sparking with anger.
"It's just to help me sleep," Roisin whispered, though she didn't believe the words herself.
Roisin let out a small whimper. Yvonne shook her head.
"I don't know where you're getting it and I don't care. Just promise me you won't do this anymore. You'll end up killing yourself for God's sake."
Roisin let out a humourless laugh. "And what a loss that'd be," she said.
Yvonne grabbed her shoulders and gave her a quick shake. "Don't say that! You've got your children to think of you stupid cow! And Cassie."
Roisin laughed again, almost hysterically. "Cassie? That's a joke. She'd rather be with you any day. Give Cassie a way to get a quick shag with no complications and she'll come running. Heaven forbid she should try to make a go of it with the woman who loves her."
Yvonne looked away, feeling tears welling up behind her eyes. So it really was her fault. If she'd told Cassie to bugger off that night in the laundry room then none of this would be happening. She'd needed a bit of comfort that night and if she hadn't been so bloody weak then things would have turned out so much better for everyone. Well...she couldn't change what had happened in the past but she could at least tell Roisin about her plans to fix things now.
"Well, you won't need to worry about that from now on," she said. "I'm seeing Betts tomorrow. I'm going to get a transfer to another wing."
There was silence as Roisin digested this news.
"But-" she began, and then trailed off. "I don't know what to say," she admitted eventually.
"It's for the best," Yvonne said, eyes trained firmly on the ground. "You, Cassie, Maxi... You'd all have been okay if it wasn't for me. And then there's Lauren. When she was born...I said to myself that I'd protect her from all the bad things in the world. And look at us now. Behind bars together. She'd be better off without a shit mother like me." Roisin reached up and placed her hand on Yvonne's shoulder but the other woman shrugged her off. "Anyway," she said, looking up with a fake smile on her face. "No more competition for Cassie eh? You should be pleased."
Roisin smiled ruefully. "I don't know about that," she said. "I think she's got 'Atkins' firmly under her skin." Yvonne frowned, silently asking Roisin to explain. "I saw her," Roisin said. "Sneaking off somewhere with your daughter, about half an hour ago."
"Lauren?" Yvonne said. "No way. She's straight!"
"Oh yeah?" Roisin scoffed. "Well, that's what everyone said about you a few months ago isn't it?"
"Mmm...but...mmm...what if someone comes?"
"That's sort of the plan..."
"I mean comes in."
"You worry too much...."
With that Lauren kissed Cassie again, effectively ending any further protests. Truth be told, Lauren had been a little concerned about someone walking in herself, which was why they were lying behind the altar. Someone would have to come right the way round the altar to see them. Still, the danger of being caught did add a certain...urgency...to the proceedings.
Lauren ran her hands over Cassie's taut stomach as they kissed. Cassie's shirt was unbuttoned and her bra undone. Lauren broke the kiss and pulled back, breathing hard.
"God," she said. "You are fucking gorgeous."
"Shouldn't swear in church," Cassie teased.
"You're right," Lauren nodded solemnly. "Especially not when I could be doing so many other things with my tongue..."
Lauren proceeded to demonstrate exactly what she meant by that, kissing Cassie till she was literally breathless.
"Oh, Jesus," Cassie groaned as Lauren licked her way down to her nipples, alternating licking, sucking and biting in a way designed to drive her lover crazy. Cassie's fingers tangled in soft brown hair as Lauren trailed her hand down to her damp blonde curls.
The door creaked open.
Cassie and Lauren froze, Lauren's fingers resting just above Cassie's mound. They held their breaths, waiting for whatever was coming next.
They heard the door gently swing and click shut. Footsteps echoed on the stone floor as someone made their way over to the rows of chairs. The person began to mumble softly and the two hiding women could hear a quiet clicking. Cassie decided it sounded like they were counting off prayers on rosary beads. She looked down and met Lauren's eyes.
What the fuck do we do? her eyes said. Lauren looked bewildered for a moment and then a look that could only be described as evil washed over her face. Cassie's eyes widened as Lauren's fingers continued their journey. Cassie was so wet from earlier that Lauren slipped two fingers inside her effortlessly. She rested her thumb on top of Cassie's clit and then silently raised herself up so they were eye to eye. She grinned a cocky grin that was straight out of the Atkins family handbook and raised one finger in a sushing motion.
Cassie was in hell. What the fuck did Lauren think she was doing? Cassie didn't think she could be that quiet. They were so close to the mystery praying person that even the slightest noise could be disastrous. Lauren began moving slowly, her thumb circling gently while her fingers slowly thrust in and out. Cassie bit her lip so hard it turned white. Her eyes pleaded with Lauren but the other woman showed her no mercy. Giving in, Cassie snaked both arms round Lauren's shoulders and pulled her down close. She buried her head in a soft shoulder to muffle the sound of her breathing.
Lauren grinned evilly as Cassie, even against her will, began to respond to her touch. The presence of the praying person had only aroused her more. Then again, Lauren had always had a kinky streak.
Cassie was desperately trying not to give in to the urge to moan. Her hips wanted to move up to meet Lauren's hand but she knew the slight rustle of her and Lauren's remaining clothing would give them away. She began to bite lightly on Lauren's shoulder just to stop the noise from escaping her throat. Lauren's thrusts began to get faster and Cassie bit harder. Lauren frowned slightly in pain but kept thrusting inside Cassie until her lover was right on the brink of orgasm. Then, with a final thrust, she pushed her over the edge. Every muscle in Cassie's body went taught and she bit down so hard she tasted blood in her mouth. The mystery praying person chose that very moment to mutter a final 'Amen' and left the room.
"Ow, ow, ow," Lauren said as soon as the door closed.
"You fucking deserved it," Cassie exhaled, her breath coming in shallow gasps. "God, that was evil!"
"And that," Lauren replied indicating the broken skin on her shoulder, "was fucking painful."
"Aw," said Cassie with a complete lack of sympathy. "How can I ever make it up to you?"
"Oh," said Lauren, grabbing Cassie's hand and leading it down their twined bodies. "I'll think of something."
Karen came into work to work the next day with her stomach doing little flips every five seconds. It scared her a little - well, actually a lot - that she was so excited about seeing Yvonne. What she'd done had been quite simply the worst sin against professional ethics she'd ever committed. The Governor of G-Wing regretted it immensely. Unfortunately, the woman called Karen Betts didn't regret even one delicious minute of it. Except perhaps the part where they'd said goodnight and agreed never to mention it again.
Time seemed to go interminably slowly as she waited for Yvonne's meeting. She kept looking at her watch, appalled anew each time as she realized only a few minutes had passed. Finally, it was 10 O'Clock and she heard a knock on her door. Her stomach performed a gymnastic manoeuvre that would have won it a shiny gold medal at the Olympics.
"Yvonne Atkins for you Ma'am," Sylvia announced as she opened the door, looking more miffed than usual that she'd had to escort the woman who broke her nose up for a cosy meeting with the governor. In Sylvia's opinion, Atkins should have been shipped as far away as possible for what she had done. Then again, no-one ever seemed to listen to Sylvia's opinion.
"Sit down please, Yvonne," Karen said, managing to keep a tremble out of her voice. "You can go now Sylvia," she added when the officer made no move to leave. "I'll escort Yvonne back to the wing myself."
Sylvia made a face but did as she was told. Karen immediately put her out of mind and returned her attention to Yvonne. She frowned. Yvonne looked bloody terrible. Her hair was greasy and dishevelled and her eyes were red-rimmed and bloodshot. She looked like she'd been crying all night. And God help me, Karen thought ruefully. I still think she's sexy.
"So," she began, then coughed nervously. Get a grip, Karen, she told herself. "So," she tried again. "What's this about, Yvonne?"
In response Yvonne dug out a crumpled piece of paper and carelessy dropped it on the desk. She turned her gaze to the window where she seemed to find the pigeons flying around absolutely entrancing. A frown established itself on Karen's face as she picked it up and began to read. She felt an icy block start to form in her stomach as she realized she was reading Yvonne's transfer request.
"You want to leave G-Wing," Karen said when it had sunk in, several moments later. Yvonne didn't answer. Karen's nostrils flared as she attempted to reign in her temper. "Yvonne Atkins, you will look at me and you will answer my question!" she demanded.
Yvonne squeezed her eyes tightly shut and took a deep breath. Eventually she did as she was told, turning towards the Wing Governer but not yet meeting her eyes.
"Yes miss," she said. "I want to leave G-Wing."
"Would you mind telling me why?"
Yvonne shrugged. "It's personal, miss," she said.
"Well, I'm afraid that's just not good enough Yvonne," Karen replied, letting her anger get the better of her. How dare Yvonne pull a stunt like this? What was she playing at? "This is a prison, not a hotel. You stay where you're put unless you give me a bloody good reason!"
Yvonne closed her eyes again, slumping down in the chair. A tear escaped the corner of her eye and trailed down to the tip of her nose where she carelessly brushed it away. Karen was at her side instantly.
"Yvonne," she said, all traces of anger gone. "What is it?" When Yvonne didn't answer she continued. "Please, Yvonne. I can't help you if you won't talk to me."
"I don't want to be helped," Yvonne whispered. "I just want to go somewhere-" Somewhere I can't do any more damage, she thought. "Somewhere else," she said aloud.
"Somewhere else," Karen repeated. She looked down at her hands nervously. "Is it," she began in a small voice. "Is it because of me?"
"No!" Yvonne answered immediately, turning to face the other woman. "Absolutely not!"
"Look, Yvonne," Karen began, but trailed off as it became apparent to her she had no idea how to say what she was thinking. "Oh, fuck it," she said eventually, taking off her ID and placing it face down on the desk. "We're equals right now, OK?" Yvonne nodded. "Okay," Karen breathed. Come and sit on the sofa will you? I'm getting stiff knees crouching like this."
Yvonne nodded dumbly and followed Karen to the sofa.
"Yvonne," Karen began again when they were comfortable. "If you're regretting what happened between us, I wish you would just say so. There's no need to do something this drastic."
"Miss Betts," Yvonne began, then corrected herself. "Karen. I meant it when I said this wasn't because of you. The reason is personal."
Karen snorted. "What we did was pretty damn personal Yvonne."
"Oh and you think you're the only woman I've got personal with, eh? Don't kid yourself darlin'. Didn't you know? I'm a regular old slapper these days." Yvonne got up to pace the room, running her fingers through her hair. "You want to know all the gory details do you? Let's put it this way. I've got a bit of a Midas touch, me. Only it ain't gold - everything I touch turns to shit. All the women I've had," she laughed humourlessly. "I fuck them up while I'm fucking them." Karen flinched a little but Yvonne didn't notice. "Maxi, Cassie, Roisin...they'd all have been better off if they'd never clapped eyes on me. And you-"
"And me," Karen said, rising. "Are you going to tell me you know what's going on in my head too?"
Yvonne was taken aback and stopped pacing. "Karen, I-"
"No," Karen interrupted. "Sit down and shut up. It's my turn."
Yvonne slumped backwards onto the sofa, eyes locked on Karen as she followed suit.
"Do you remember," Karen began. "When you asked me if I was sure?" Yvonne nodded. "And you remember how thankful I was that you'd taken the time to ask me?" Yvonne nodded again, wondering where this was going. "Well," Karen continued. "The reason I did that was...because, not long ago, I was raped."
Yvonne's eyes widened and she instinctively reached out to Karen. "Jesus Christ," she said as she grabbed Karen's hands. "Who was it? I've still got a few friends on the outside, you can consider him castrated."
"He's not important Yvonne," Karen said. "Please, just leave it alone."
"Yvonne!" Karen interrupted. "I'm trying to pour my heart out here."
"Oh, right. Sorry," Yvonne said sheepishly.
"Well," Karen continued. "I slept with two men after that. One was a nice guy. The other...wasn't." She glanced up at Yvonne. "Sorry," she said, knowing the other woman knew she was talking about Richie.
"What did I tell you about my son? I know he's a bastard." Yvonne said. "Carry on."
Karen took a deep breath and squeezed Yvonne's hands a little. "The point is," she continued. "I was never really sure when I was with them whether I was doing it because I wanted to, you know? I didn't exactly enjoy sleeping with them. Even when I was with them there was this part of me that was...detached. Like I wasn't all there. But you," she trailed off. "With you, I trusted myself. I trusted my own desires for the first time since-" she stopped abruptly, cut off my the sob tearing through her throat.
"Karen," Yvonne began but Karen cut her off.
"So don't you dare tell me I was better off without you Yvonne Atkins," she continued angrily. "I allowed what happened between us for one reason only - because I wanted it. I wanted you. Do you understand?"
Yvonne looked down, too ashamed to meet Karen's eyes. She felt like a total selfish shit. She'd spent the last few days feeling sorry for herself while Karen had been going through so much all on her own.
"Yvonne?" Karen whispered, tilting the other woman's chin upwards so their eyes met. Then, without either of them quite realizing how it had happened, they were kissing, clinging to each other like two shipwreck victims lost at sea. Yvonne's fingers combed through Karen's hair and continued down to stroke her face and then her shoulders. They kissed like old lovers who hadn't seen each other in weeks, as if they couldn't get enough of each other. As if they wanted to memorise every texture and taste and sound belonging to the other person and store everything away somewhere deep inside them. When they parted they were breathless but Yvonne managed to speak.
"You wanted me?" she said, as if she couldn't quite believe it. "I was good for you?"
Karen laughed. "Yes, darling. You were so very, very good for me." Yvonne leaned down and kissed her ecstatically. She felt like the weight of the Earth had just been lifted from her shoulders.
"What now?" Yvonne said, an indeterminate time later. They were lying back a little on the sofa, Yvonne's head resting on Karen's shoulder, Karen's fingers trailing through Yvonne's hair.
"Now," Karen answered, laughing. "Right now you'd better go and have a shower because frankly sweetheart, you stink." Yvonne poked her in the ribs. That only made Karen laugh harder.
"I was talking about us," she said. Karen sobered and looked down at her seriously.
"What do you want to happen?" she asked. Yvonne sighed and leaned her head back down on Karen's shoulder.
"What I want is impossible."
"I said 'what do you want', not 'what is possible'," Karen reminded her gently. Yvonne swallowed.
"Okay," she said. "I want to be with you. I want to be out of here and I want to find out what there is between us. Happy?"
Karen thought for a moment. "Yes, actually. Because that's what I want too." Yvonne's head snapped up as she stared at Karen in surprise. "Don't look so shocked. Yvonne...I haven't felt like this in a long time. I tell myself that you're a prisoner in my charge, and that you're a woman, but nothing seems to change the way I feel about you. I can either do something about it or let it eat me alive. Yvonne...even if I thought I could ignore it...God help me...I don't want to."
With that, Yvonne 'hard as nails' Atkins absolutely melted. She leaned up and kissed her, slow and sweet. "Karen," she whispered. She didn't know what else to say. "But what about while I'm in here?"
Karen sighed. "Now that's the 64 million dollar question," she said. Then she looked down at Yvonne and said the only thing her heart would allow. "We'll just have to be very, very careful." Yvonne's face slowly lit up as what that meant sunk in. "So," Karen said breezily. "Do you still want that transfer?"
"What do you think?" Yvonne whispered as she pulled Karen close for another kiss. This was going to be tough, she knew. And she had a lot of work to do trying to repair her friendships with people on the wing, not to mention her relationship with her daughter. Still, never let it be said that Yvonne Atkins didn't love a challenge.
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