Behind Lock and Key
Chapter 1: Screws and Cons
Lining up the cue under her chin, Fang jerked her right hand back and put all her might into the final blow. The white ball clacked against the black sending it straight into the top right pocket. The room erupted into a cheer, and those who were paying attention to the competition slapped Fang proudly on the back as she straightened herself.
"Way to go, Fang." A small redhead congratulated her – her pool partner and cellmate Vanille. "You've just won us all an extra twenty minutes of free time next week."
"Thanks, Van. But it was a team effort, yeah?"
Fang gallantly accepted the praise heaped upon her by the rest of her friends as she fought to return her cue to one of the gracious losers.
"You're just too damn good these days, Fang." Officer Strife smiled, accepting the cue from her.
He was by far one of the nicest officers that Edenfell Prison had to offer; lenient and fair by nature and by hair, and not bad to look at either. The daily wolf whistles from inmates never dissuaded him from his profession, much to the annoyance of some.
None of which could catch his eye, which was the same for his fellow officer Miss Lockhart, who was amiable herself. Most of the prisoners knew her reasons for playing the officer versus inmate pool challenges, despite being terrible at the game. But Mr Strife never minded the constant losing, and nor did Fang, as it meant added extras.
"Fancy upping the stakes, Miss?" Fang urged, smiling innocently, but Miss Lockhart only shook her head bashfully.
"Not tonight. With the way I've been playing you'll all be betting your sentences against me. Isn't that right, Cloud?"
Fang laughed at the sight of the male officer trying in vain to pull himself away from some of the younger inmates who had an eye for him.
"Er, yes." He said pulling his I.D card out of Yuffie's wandering hands. "Right everybody that's enough, it's time to move everyone back on the wing."
As Yuffie trudged defeated back to Fang and Vanille's side, Fang hooked an arm around her shoulder. "You might be better off trying to get a kiss from someone who isn't gonna bang you up each night."
The lovesick girl was never going to take no for an answer, Fang knew, but it didn't mean she couldn't advise her otherwise.
"Man, he could bang me up any time he pleases," Yuffie sighed, garnering howls of laughter from Fang and Vanille.
Sunday nights were probably Fang's favourite part of the week at Edenfell; the officers were a lot more laid back, holding mini competitions such as the pool game. They were also granted a later lock up time, albeit half an hour more than usual, but thanks to Fang and the great effort of Vanille they had twenty minutes extra all next week.
As everyone finished filing into the wing, Officer Lockhart began to close the gate behind them. There wasn't much to do one the wing but chat, as the televisions and pool tables all resided in the common room. It had Fang often wishing that they'd just move the pool tables into the wing itself, and use the spare room for something else.
"So what's the wagers net week, Strife?" Fang grinned as the officer approached them.
The man shook his head, his blonde spikes bobbing gently. "Not sure yet, there's nothing you have that I want to win, Fang."
"You'll never beat us with Lockhart on your side," Vanille pointed out, and despite Mr Strife telling her to lower her voice, he agreed wholeheartedly.
"Maybe you and I could team up, Yuffie?"
The thief's eyes lit up, but she caught sight of the look Fang was giving her and she swallowed her first reply.
"And be on the side of the screws? They'd kill me."
"You'd cheat anyway."
"No I wouldn't, Vanille!"
"Oh yes you would."
Fang and Mr Strife looked on in amazement, their eyes flicking back and forth like a tennis match. They began to get a little too loud and excitable in their playful argument , so much so it attracted Miss Lockhart's attention.
"Guys, calm down."
When they ignored the brown haired woman's instructions, Miss Lockhart muttered into Strife's ear, and he checked his watch.
"It's about time you all go back to your cells now, anyway," he said.
The sound of disappointment echoed across the painted brick walls of the common room, but everyone did as they were told. Or at least the majority did.
"Aw but sir," a shrill voice rang out above the crowd, belonging to none other than Jihl, the resident bitch of Wing Thirteen. "Isn't there anything at all we can do to persuade you?"
The attention seeking woman pressed her palms to her sizable breasts, squashing them together to give Mr Strife an eyeful, as he looked away in embarrassment.
"Oh give it a rest, Nabaat you slut." Yuffie cried out, diving between her favourite officer and Jihl, whose face turned sour at the mere sight of the girl.
"Oh piss off and play with your toys, you know Cloud here wants a real woman."
"You just have to spoil everything don't you, Jihl?" Fang groaned.
Nevertheless Yuffie and Jihl squared up to each other, standing nose to nose. It took a lot for Fang not to laugh at the height difference, which made the fight look rather ridiculous. That was until Jihl head-butted the smaller girl hard enough to make her nose explode, sending blood streaming down Yuffie's chin.
Miss Lockhart screamed, grabbing Jihl roughly by the arm in order to force the two apart.
Seizing the opportunity, Yuffie ran forward, managing to clip Nabaat on the chin. At the same time Fang and Officer Strife raced forward; whilst he placed himself in the middle of the fray, Fang wrapped her arms around Yuffie, lifting her off the floor kicking and screaming.
"That's enough, yeah?" Fang whispered loudly into the pickpocket's ear. "Any more of this and they'll seclude you and strip away the extra free time."
It was a good five minutes before Yuffie calmed down. Fang refused to let her go, as the officers tried to soothe her friend with reassuring words. Although some of the inmates looked on, most had obediently left for their cells to retire for the night.
Once things had quietened down, Officer Strife offered to escort Fang back to her shared cell.
"You were a great help back there, Fang. It's just a shame you're on the other side."
"Yes I know. It's a shame you're a guy," Fang smirked, and the officer looked horrified at his choice of words.
"No, no I- what I meant was… it's a shame you're not an officer, Fang."
Together they ascended the metal staircase, passing weary inmates and officers alike. Fang and Vanille resided on the second wing, allocated for longer stays, which was ideal as the ground floor prisoners were often chopping and changing regularly. If you wanted any allies in jail, you would need to befriend ones that were allocated longer stays.
The pale green door was still ajar, and Fang could just see Vanille getting ready for bed through the gap.
"Well this was lovely and all," Fang said, leaning on the metal doorframe. "We should do this again sometime. Say, tomorrow?"
Officer Strife snorted as he smiled – the closest many would find to him laughing. "Yeah, yeah, goodnight Fang. And you too Vanille."
The cell door slammed shut, sounding as loud as a thunderclap as it echoed across the entire prison wing. Vanille was already tucking the beige prison sheets around her waist as Fang opted to brush her teeth.
"We get a new wing governor tomorrow," the redhead said as she settled. Fang watched her mark off another day on her calendar which was stuck to the pale yellow wall with sticky tack.
"And they're gonna go mental if they see you've stuck that to the wall." Fang smiled, with the toothbrush still firmly between her teeth.
Vanille simply twisted her face and shrugged. "It doesn't bloody stick to the cork board."
The use of drawing pins was strictly forbidden after one incident that left a girl permanently blind in one eye over two years ago. Arguments between cellmates were always a dangerous thing, especially if one had a tendency to hold grudges. Now they had been issued with a small supply of sticky tack each, and told to stick things up on their own board using that.
"Yeah, I know. It always falls off and hits me in my sleep."
They shared a laugh, but outside their door could hear Yuffie screaming and scuffling with the prison guards.
Fang ducked into her own bunk below Vanille, picking a photo off of her own personal cork board. She stared at the photo longingly, of the woman she had left behind. She longed to comb her fingers through her luscious black hair, to hear her sweet yet mocking voice. Oh, how it had been so long since she had heard that voice.
"Is Lebreau visiting soon then?" Vanille asked. The girl always seemed to know when Fang was thinking of her, and it was probably because she kissed her picture every night.
"I think so. I mean, I sent her a visiting order and all," Fang sighed. "But she's never been home when I try to call."
There was a few seconds of ruffling, and suddenly Vanille's upside down head appeared above Fang, startling her slightly. "She'll come."
Fang could only smile, unable to resist flicking Vanille on the forehead before she withdrew herself.
"Yeah, she'll just be busy with our club. Before all of… this we were both working pretty hard trying to get it up and running."
Fang kissed her photo, replacing it back onto the board. Judging by the silence, Vanille wanted an early night, and raven haired woman certainly wasn't complaining.
It was late in the night when Fang woke abruptly from something hitting her on the leg. Judging by her grogginess, she had been asleep for at least a few hours. With one eye closed, she studied the assaulted area and unsurprisingly found it to be Vanille's stupid calendar.
She forced her head back down onto the thin pillow and closed her eye again. However, there was a soft noise resonating through the wing; quiet enough not to wake anyone, but loud enough to irk her.
At first she mistook it for crying, but the harder she listened the more it sounded like someone enjoying themselves.
The muffled moans would certainly belong to someone on the third floor, as anyone serving a life sentence would be treated to their own private cell. It was not uncommon for two inmates who shared a cell to have sex during the night however, as Fang sometimes listened, imagining it to be herself and Lebreau back at home.
But tonight it was definitely a solitary sigh of ecstasy.
And then she heard it – a low, male groan.
Fang's eyes snapped open and her ears perked up. In the distance a cell door screeched open and she could hear the murmurs of a male voice. The cell door was then shut, and although it was still a booming sound, the door had obviously been shut slower and more carefully.
The jangling of cell keys echoed with every step the man took, and the man even had the gall to whistle as he descended, despite the late hour.
It was obvious who was getting it, and who was giving it – it was widely known between the prisoners who the culprits were, despite half of the gossip being built on rumours.
So Jihl and Rosch are shagging, Fang mused. Not quite the punishment she deserves.
She never liked Nabaat enough to want to know her affairs, but this was the first time she'd witnessed any sort of proof to the stories. As much as she wanted to tell Vanille, it would have to wait until morning, so instead Fang settled down, using her cellmate's regulated breathing to help her doze off.
The van rattled as it made a sharp turn, sending Rikku flying from her seat and into the dividing wall.
"Vilg, dryd rind!" She cursed above the laughter of the porters. Her cuffed hands meant she was unable to rub the ache from her shoulder.
"Speak properly, will you?" She heard one say from the front of the van. "Bloody scum of the planet these Al Bhed lot."
"Yeah," another joined in. "And you can guarantee that when a few of them move into town that your stuff will go missing. Bunch of bloody thieves the lot o' you."
In the cubicle to her right, there was the sobbing of a woman who already sounded too soft for where she was heading. And in another, one woman was complaining that she needed the toilet. If they knew what was good for them, they'd both shut up soon as their whining was giving her a large headache.
Eventually the van slowed to a stop, and the door to Rikku's cubicle swung open. The fat man that had thrown her into the van also threw her out, guiding her roughly by the arm into the courtyard.
Her belongings were thrust into her arms by the other man who transported them, grinning as he looked her up and down.
"You're not gonna last long in there," he told her, but it only made her laugh.
Rikku jerked her head to the light haired sobbing woman she heard before. "I'll do a fair bit better than her, I'll wager."
The fat man ushered her and the rest of the women into what looked like a reception room, with a counter in the centre and a few chairs.
"Take a seat and wait to be seen," he ordered, throwing a pile of files on the counter in front of a brown haired woman. "Hi Jessie."
"Morning Wedge. So who do we have today?" The woman scanned the room as the fat man named Wedge listed them off.
"Just about the usual," he said, leaning on the counter and flicking his eyes towards Rikku. "I'd search that one extra thoroughly though. Al Bhed's always have something."
Rikku practically hissed at the lard arse. "Bek."
"What did you say, you filthy mouthed bitch?" Wedge asked with his nostrils flared in anger.
"Pig. I called you a pig."
She half expected the man to backhand her into next week, until his friend called for help to get the wailing woman to calm down.
"My boy, I want to see my boy."
She had cried so much that some of her silvery-blonde hair had stuck to her face. The woman behind the counter hurried to her side, shushing her whilst stroking her back.
"This is Mrs Estheim," said the slimmer porter, handing her over to Jessie.
"Thanks Biggs," Jessie nodded. "You were first on the list anyway, Mrs Estheim so we'll sort you out first."
They made Mrs Estheim sign a belongings sheet, confiscating anything that didn't apply to regulations, before sending her into a backroom to do a strip search. Nervously, Rikku played with the rim of her goggles, giving them the once over as discreetly as she could.
The keys to their cell jangled in the lock, and both Fang and Vanille swung their legs off their edge of the bed. It was probably one of the best sounds you could here in prison – even more so when you had a clean conscience. Vanille rushed to the sink in order to collect both of their prison distributed plastic mugs, handing Fang's to her.
"Good morning ladies."
The voice belonged to a woman officer named Elena, who preferred convicts and colleagues alike to refer to her on a first name basis. As the non-identical twin of the officer Cloud Strife, the two had some fun moments together for Fang and the others to watch in amusement, especially if they had argued outside of work.
"Any news for us?" Vanille asked as they passed the officer.
Elena tucked some hair behind her ear thoughtfully. "Hm, let me think… the new wing governor starts today and just a couple of new prisoners I think, one about your age."
Leaving Elena to her work, the duo followed the crowd down to the first floor and into the cafeteria, which was separated from the wing landing by a wall of prison bars. Like every other wall on the wing, the walls were a pale yellow, which added the monotony of the place.
Along the way, Yuffie tagged along sporting half a swollen face and fresh bandage on the bridge of her nose.
"Dare I ask how you're feeling?" Fang said, grabbing a food tray and joining the breakfast line.
The smaller girl's face screwed up in disgust as Jihl joined the line a few people behind them, but the expression proved too painful to maintain.
"The fucking bitch," Yuffie spat. "She'll get what's coming to her, just you wait."
There was a ripple of excitement as two new prisoners walked past the iron bars that separated the cafeteria from the rest of the offices and rooms in Wing Thirteen. The first to come through was a sullen middle aged woman, followed by a younger girl wearing racing goggles over her eyes. The two couldn't have looked more different from each other if they tried. But what surprised Fang the most was how pristine the older woman was, she certainly didn't fit the usual criteria.
"Well that's one way to get picked on in here," Yuffie scoffed, nodding towards the new blonde girl.
And it seemed everyone else had the same sort of idea, as the poor girl walked through a wave of catcalls.
"There's no pool around here, sweetheart." Jihl howled, creating a burst of laughter across the room.
The girl continued her walk around the table, following the leading officer to her cell. And when she returned for breakfast, it was clear that the insults thrown her way hadn't deterred her from wearing the goggles.
The blonde took a seat at an empty table, whilst Fang, Vanille, and Yuffie exchanged looks of pity. Before any of them could offer her the spare seat at their table however, Jihl slammed her tray down beside the girl.
"You would do well to take my friendly advice when I say wearing those goggles will get your head kicked in."
"Leave her alone," Fang warned from the opposite table, but the woman didn't listen. Instead she reached out towards the girl's face, only to have her hand batted away.
"Don't touch me," the blonde spat.
Jihl leaned closer to the woman, staring intently at the girl through the glass of her goggles. Fang's fist tightened around the spoon in her hand; it was obvious that Jihl was up to something – she never showed any interest in new inmates.
"Now come on, we're friends right? I just want to try them on." Jihl grabbed the smaller girl's wrist as she attempted to grab the goggles again.
Yet without so much as looking at Jihl, the new girl smashed the entire contents of her food tray into Jihl's face.
Nabaat didn't have much time to react, as the girl used the opening to lay a few punches on her, sending both of them to the floor. The scuffle had the entire cafeteria on their feet creating a rough circle around the girls, whilst blocking the stationed guards. It was probably no secret that most of the women on the wing hated Jihl, save for a few, but the excitement generated from the fight would've been the same if it wasn't Jihl getting hurt. Fang secretly placed her bets on the new girl, cheering when she got an opening and smashed the spectacled tart in the face again.
But Jihl clawed frantically at the other girl's cheeks, unwilling to give up the fight and ripping the goggles free in the process. Theother girl withdrew quickly, as if she had touched something hot, which was her biggest mistake as Jihl then grabbed her throat.
Jihl's eyes widened, and then narrowed.
"I knew it! She's an Al Bhed!"
The room was a flurry of whispers – Al Bhed were not welcomed people, simply for their travelling lifestyle. Burglaries and thefts weren't uncommon when a group of Al Bhed moved in the area. But that didn't matter, to Fang it was the fact that no one was bothering to help.
Far to the left, Officer Elena tried desperately to pull and push her way through the crowd, screaming for everyone to step aside, but no one was listening. An unpleasant wave of anger blazed in Fang's chest the second Jihl's foot made contact with the girl's stomach, and it was then she knew she couldn't sit back and watch.
"Fang, what are you doing?" Vanille said with her voice fully of worry.
It was like she had been placed onto autopilot, and she flung her arm out to stop Vanille from getting any closer. Her friend tried, but thankfully Yuffie held Vanille back for her as she entered the fray.
"If you don't fucking get away from that girl, I'll bloody kill you." She roared, but Jihl paid no attention to her, hammering the Al Bhed's head into the linoleum floor instead.
Both Strife officers had made it through the crowd by now, and Cloud grabbed Fang by the shoulders first, hauling her back.
"Get off me!" Fang hissed. "Get Nabaat!"
It looked as though Jihl had knocked the young girl out, and yet Officer Strife was still holding her back instead. Fang kicked back, hitting Cloud in the shins so hard that he finally did let go.
Fang grabbed Jihl by the hair and rived her back, sliding her across the floor screaming. She scrunched up her fist again, ready to hit the troublemaker, when a voice roared out across the cafeteria.
And the whole room, including officers, froze. Fang's hand was still in mid-air.
"I am Lightning Farron," the woman said, addressing everyone in a raised voice. "And I'll be your new wing governor here."
The woman looked undeniable stern, squaring her shoulders, and using a no nonsense tone. But at the same time, her pink champagne coloured hair and fair complexion gave the impression of gentleness.
"Send the three of them to solitary."
Or maybe not.
Elena scrambled to the floor, managing to drag Rikku far enough away before pinning her to the floor with her knee, eventually cuffing her. Officer Strife rushed towards Fang and Jihl, pushing them apart whilst shooting Fang a disapproving look. It had been a hard decision to kick one of her favourite officers, but it had to be done to help the new girl.
Fang was escorted by Elena to one of the solitary rooms without any fuss, whilst the new the new wing governor preceded the line. Fang was placed in the furthest cell; a room that was painted a calming shade of blue, probably not coincidentally. Prisons would try anything if they thought it would calm prisoners down.
"I'll put in a good word for you," Elena whispered just before she closed the door, which provided some comfort.
The solitary cell was roughly the same size as a regular single cell, just with fewer furnishings. With a bed tucked in one corner and a toilet in the other it was the definition of bare minimum.
Fang paced the room endlessly, unsure how long she would actually be confined, but after what felt like ten to fifteen minutes she settled herself on the bed instead.
She must've fallen asleep during her wait, as the creaking of the door made her jump unexpectedly. Luckily she regained her composure before the new governor had entered, and Fang shuffled to attention to the edge of the bed out of respect.
"And last but not least," the governor smiled wryly, leaving the door slightly ajar behind her.
She had taken off her jacket and rolled up her sleeves since Fang had last seen her, the previous interrogations must have riled her to the point of getting hot and bothered .
"So you must be Fang," she began.
"Yes," Fang nodded. "Miss, er…"
"Miss Farron… with all due respect I don't think there's anything new you can learn from me about what happened earlier."
At the very least, the woman nodded in agreement, but the way she folded her arms made Fang think that she wasn't about to let her go.
"True. But from what I hear though, you're not a usual troublemaker. So why get involved?"
Why indeed? Fang was happy to just spectate until the nature of the girl's race came into light.
"I guess it was just the way that bitch was treating her," Fang shrugged. "All because she's apparently a bloody Al Bhed. It triggered something in me."
Miss Farron wasn't yet satisfied. "And why's that?"
Keeping her eyes firmly to the floor, Fang continued. "Well I've been in that situation before when I was younger. The racial hate against that Al Bhed girl was once no different for Pulsians either."
The words had been unusually hard for Fang to say, especially to someone she had met for less than five minutes.
"That'll be all," Miss Farron uncrossed her arms. "And 'that Al Bhed girl' is named Rikku, by the way. She asked me to thank you for standing up for her."
The governor swung the cell door open, looking back before she left.
"I'll send an officer to collect you soon, Fang."
After seeing the looks people were giving her and that barely of age child as they entered, Nora decided to skip breakfast in favour of unpacking and crying some more. It was just as well as there was a huge ruckus, and from what she gathered it was that young girl in the middle of it.
"Fuck, not another one."
Nora almost leaped out of her skin, as a voice droned out behind her. A woman clad in all black stood over her, arms folded. With the sides of her short hair gelled back she looked like a complete ruffian, the type of person she always warned her son Hope against.
Nora smiled weakly "Not just me, I'm afraid."
If she was aiming to put her new cellmate in a better mood, she certainly wasn't going to achieve it yet. The scary looking youth kicked at the bunk bed at the opposite end of the wall and growled.
"And what might they call you?" Nora asked out of habit of being polite.
Surprisingly, her cellmate answered, albeit with her back to her. "The name's Paine."
"Paine," Nora almost faltered, "I'm Nora, nice to meet you."
She watched as Paine shoved her hand down her pillowcase, pulling out a packet of cigarettes.
"Does it look like I give a shit what your name is?" She ground out, and promptly left.
Was everyone in here going to be like this? Nora slumped herself on the lowest bunk, her hands shaking.
It's only for four years. She thought, choking back a sob.
"We've got a staff meeting in ten minutes, Yaag." Cloud informed him, before disappearing into the solitary cell that held the Al Bhed girl.
"Thanks, I'll be there soon."
Yaag fiddled around with his keys until the other officer and convict had left before entering. As Nabaat's personal officer, no one would bat an eyelid to his offer of escorting her back to her cell.
When he entered Jihl was standing at the little barred window, which required her to stand on her toes to see as it was rather high.
"You're being quite the mischief-maker," he murmured, standing so close behind her that he could smell the floral scent of her hair.
"Are you going to punish me again, sir?"
She certainly knew how to talk, her sultry voice giving him shivers. As the big busted woman turned to face him Yaag was able to see the proper extent of her injuries. She was sporting a black eye and claw marks to her face, some fresh some partially healed from her bout with Kisaragi. Nevertheless he still found her pleasing.
She cupped his groin and gave him a firm squeeze as he mirrored the act with her voluptuous breasts. Her clever hands were nothing short of brilliant as she pulled his member from his trousers and began to work at it until he was hard.
"I've gotta be somewhere in five minutes," Yaag gasped as Jihl took him into her mouth. He would have to be careful not to blow his load over his work trousers.
"Yeah, in me," Jihl finished.
But he knew fine well he wasn't going to last.
After breakfast, depending on whether or not an inmate had duties or not, there was always a block of free time for the girls. For Yuffie, it was simply a time to relax, as she was relieved from her last job as a cleaner. Apparently there was such a thing as too clean a floor.
She sat on a table just outside their cell, with Paine on the seat beside her with her knees up. She wasn't overly fond of Paine, who despite her dark appearance sought friendship with Jihl most of the time, but as they shared a four person dorm it was necessary to keep good relations.
"We've got both of those newbies in our room," Paine said between drags of her cigarette.
"What? The bloody old lady and the Al Bhed?" Yuffie grabbed the offered cigarette and inhaled some herself. "Great, just great."
Paine's reddish eyes flashed menacingly, and Yuffie could see why; the Al Bhed had just walked back into the wing since the fight. She looked a bit battered and bruised, but unlike Yuffie's busted nose, she looked fine in comparison.
"What are you smiling at?" Yuffie asked, furrowing her eyebrows. Paine's eyes never left the Al Bhed for one moment.
It was only when Rikku walked past them, did Yuffie partly understand her cellmate's dangerously wide smirk.
"Rikku," she called out in her monotonous voice.
With the smallest and jerkiest of movements, the Al Bhed – Rikku - turned to Paine, but couldn't hide her look of horror.
"We have a lot to catch up on."
This Rikku girl was turning out to be an interesting character, Yuffie realised, chewing her tongue in thought. She wasn't afraid of a fight and she even knew Paine, which probably wasn't a good thing Yuffie realised after a moment's pause. She just had to talk to this girl, because really, anyone who thought throwing a tray at Jihl's face was a good idea was an absolute genius in that respect.
With a burst of energy, Yuffie hopped off the table and followed the girl into the cell.
"Hey how's it going? I'm Yuffie."
At first he girl didn't so much as turn her head, probably figuring her as someone else looking for a fight, fiddling with her possessions instead.
When Yuffie didn't leave Rikku spared a glance, tipping her belongings out of the bag she had yet to unpack; she looked relieved that Paine hadn't followed her in.
"So what're you in here for?" Yuffie queried, eyeing the clothes Rikku was sorting.
Like Yuffie, it seemed Rikku was a shorts and tank top kind of person, which made the girl even more cooler.
"For the most part burglary and thieving," Rikku grinned, and from somewhere in her belongings she pulled out a pouch, throwing it to Yuffie.
At first Yuffie gave the bag a squeeze, trying to second guess what could possibly be inside, imagining it to be a pouch of teeth. Yet on further inspection she found it was filled with all sorts of jewellery, from rings to necklaces, which was slightly better than teeth.
Yuffie gasped. "Cool, me too! Gotta love the thrill of pickpocketing."
The other thief liked what she heard, smiling in approval. Yuffie smiled as well, until a sharp pain in her nose made her wince instead.
"So what happened to you?"
Rikku pointed at her own nose, staring intently at Yuffie's as she took back her pouch of stolen jewellery. It had been bothering Yuffie for a while as to how Jihl had realised Rikku was an Al Bhed, but as the girl approached her, she knew instantly it was her spiralled irises. A dead giveaway.
"Same thing that happened to you - that bitch Jihl.
Rikku must've realised Yuffie was staring at her spiralled pupils, and she turned away uncomfortably.
"So that's why you were wearing your goggles coming in, eh?" Yuffie said more to herself than the blonde thief. "I think your eyes are pretty cool."
She watched as Rikku pulled the goggles from her neck, rolling the headgear around in her hands as she used the object as a distraction.
"Oh, sod it," She said, pushing and twisting her goggles in a strange pattern until it clicked. Yuffie looked on in awe, as she tipped a handful of pills into her hand, and offered one to Yuffie.
"They're hypers," she explained. "Now I wouldn't usually offer them freely, but I like you already, Yuffie."
Slowly, Yuffie reached out and picked one, unsure whether or not to take it now or leave it until closing time. However, her decision was made for her when Rikku knocked a pill back herself, looking expectantly at Yuffie to do the same.
"I think we'll have a beautiful friendship here Rikku," she said, throwing her head back and swallowing.
She might have spoken too soon, as Paine stood silently in the doorway looking ready to send her new friend to an early grave… and left. She would definitely have to ask about their history.
"Sorry I'm late." Yaag nodded his apology to the governor, who simply glared at him.
The staffroom was a small room, with the wall adjoining the cafeteria space made of wooden panels and glass that was reinforced with wire mesh.
Although it meant that relaxing officers couldn't get much privacy, it allowed them to keep a watchful eye on the cons.
"As I was saying," Miss Farron continued. "There is a going to be a national crackdown on drug users within prisons. Officers and inmates alike will be targeted for random spot checks and urine samples."
Everyone had suspected a tougher time for prisoners, but for officers as well?
Yaag folded his arms defiantly. "I'll be taking no bloody piss tests for anyone. Fuck the arseholes that came up with that one."
Miss Farron's face darkened at his outburst. "Be thankful that they're not asking for strip searches, Rosch. Otherwise I'd make sure that these 'arseholes' search your arsehole in the process."
Cloud spat his drink out laughing; staining his white uniform with tea. Whilst Yaag did find it quite funny that Cloud had sprayed tea everywhere, he didn't like the fact the governor had just mocked him. Elena congratulated Cloud sarcastically on how far he managed to spray the liquid, before wiping down her soaked trousers.
"Jessie's offered to place the drugs awareness posters around the wing, but in the mean time I want you all to be on a high alert. Any suspicious activity, or any tip-offs should not be taken lightly."
The governor carried on speaking for five more minutes, and Yaag helped himself to a few chocolate biscuits as he waited for her to finish. He would do well to have her on his side he knew, but on the other hand she would probably bite his cock off if he went about her the wrong way. Unfortunately, the more she glared his way he realised that the latter seemed more likely.
Fang was thankful to have been finally let out of solitary, and instantly made her way back onto the wing towards the prison phones. With the phone card already in her hand, she shoved it into the machine, pressing the well-memorised numbers in. The phone rang once, twice, three times, before clicking to answer phone.
'Sorry I can't take a call right now, but please leave a message after the tone.'
How many times was Fang going to reach the answer machine this month? She had lost count of the times already.
"Hey, Lebreau it's me. Just thought I'd phone to ask if you got my visiting order in the post yet. I really miss hearing your voice, and no, this answering machine message is not a good replacement for it… love-"
The call ended abruptly, meaning Fang's phone card had just run out, Fang slammed the receiver down in annoyance before remembering she had a second.
"Trouble in paradise, Yun?" Jihl sneered, suddenly appearing in front of her. "Maybe your little girlfriend's left you for someone else."
Fang wasn't going to entertain this one any further. "How about you do everyone a favour and kill yourself?"
As if Rosch had some sort of sixth sense, he was already jogging from the staffroom to his little pet's side. If it hadn't of been for the fact she could hear people behind her fussing to use the phone, she maybe would have stuck around. But instead she made for her cell, until Rosch grabbed her by the arm.
Placing his lips as close as possible to her ear he hissed, "I've got my eye on you. Nabaat warned me you might be trouble."
Fang yanked her arm away, taking some precautionary steps back away from the officer.
"Yeah? Was she warning you about me before or after you fucked her?"
Maybe she'd said that last bit too loudly, because the room was buzzing now, and the next person to grab her was Officer Lockhart.
"Come with me," she ordered, her long hair flapping behind her. "I'm taking you to Miss Farron for that remark."
Fang bit her tongue the entire way there – of course Lockhart would think this was her fault. The busty woman practically sailed them down the corridor leading to the offices, just catching Lightning Farron as she was about to leave her office.
"Sorry if I'd caught you at a bad time, ma'am, but this one has been stirring up trouble. She's making accusations against an officer."
Miss Farron looked at her, then back to Miss Lockhart. "In that case Tifa, can I get a coffee brought up here?"
Miss Lockhart released her vice grip. "Of course you can."
Instead of taking a seat like any normal governor, the champagne haired woman leaned against front of her desk, towering about Fang who she gestured to take the visitor's seat.
"Twice in one day… and I was led to believe you were one of the good ones here."
Fang placed both elbows on the arms of the chair in a carefree manner, noting the cleanliness of the office since this woman had moved in.
"I'm not… usually like this," Fang said, raking her fingers through her wild hair as a poor distraction.
The governor paused their talk as someone rapped at the door. But it was only Miss Lockhart, who appeared holding the promised cup of coffee, shutting the door behind her.
"So, this accusation?" Miss Farron began, taking a large gulp of her long awaited drink.
Fang sat back quietly as Officer Lockhart recapped the event from her own point of view. All the while, Fang watched Farron's mostly blank expression, amazed at how little she gave away.
Lightning turned her attention to Fang. "To say an officer is having sexual relations with a prisoner is very serious offence in itself, but if you're making false allegations-"
"They're not bloody false!" Fang made to get out of her chair, but one of Lockhart's hands pushed her firmly down. "Every con on this wing knows what Jihl and Rosch get up to around here. The people in here are just too clever to get involved, or too frightened to say anything if they are."
"Shall I put her on report, Lightning?" Tifa questioned, which was what Fang had been expecting, but the woman shook her head.
"No, just send her back to her duties."
The governor's disinterest in punishing stunned Fang, and Miss Lockhart stuttered at the answer until she cleared her throat.
The young officer held Fang firmly by the shoulder, making Fang remain in the office chair as she proposed another form of punishment. With Farron's consent, Miss Lockhart suggested to have that newbie Nora Estheim accompany her in her garden work.
Apparently for mutual benefit.
Fang sat awkwardly as Miss Lockhart described her as a 'friendly enough inmate' to ease Nora into prison life, and suggested that Nora's motherly company alone should have a calming effect on her.
Fang and Miss Farron agreed, and she was escorted towards the gardens by Tifa Lockhart herself.
It had seemed easy enough when listening to her proposal in the office, but now she was in the gardens, Nora was teeth grindingly irritating. Getting the woman to speak about her prison sentence was proving difficult, leaving Fang to make passive comments.
"I just find it weird that a mother as nice as you could end up in jail," Fang said, grabbing a trowel and stabbing the dirt.
Fang's job was to provide the upkeep of the prison gardens, which was a peaceful task all year round for the most part. She was used to all extreme weathers, which made her a perfect candidate for yard work.
"Well, presuming you're gonna be a while I might as well give you some pointers. First of all, stay away from that bitch Jihl, because I'm sure you know what happened back in the cafeteria." Fang stabbed the trowel through a persistent nettle. "The bastard screw Rosch is also one to avoid – the one with the silver hair, you seen him?"
Nora nodded, flinching every time Fang cursed. "Good, well don't get involved with either of them, because they're well known fuck buddies around here. They'll fuck each other over eventually I'm betting, and they'll fuck you if you get in their way… figuratively of course."
Realising her words were becoming a string of rants, Fang continued the proper course.
"And then there's Officer Steiner who is loud, proud, and angry. You won't have seen him yet, though, but when he's in, don't fuck around unless you want to go on report. The others are fine though."
She let the silence naturally wash over the two of them, to let it all sink in for Nora. "Any questions?"
Having forgotten she had provided Nora with her gardening gloves, Fang reached for a nettle with her bare hand resulting in an instant pain after she let go.
Laughing slightly, Nora pulled the nettle out for her. "I think one of the officers was trying to explain weekly spends to me, but then he had to leave..."
Still eyeing the stinging rash on her palm, Fang leaned back on her other arm. Finally, an actual sentence from the woman.
"Well, any personal cash we earn while in here goes towards the tuck shop at the end of the week. You'll get a few gil a week just for good behaviour, and the rest you've gotta earn through work."
"We only get to go once a week?"
Fang nodded. "And I'm sorry but you have a long time to wait, since we already went yesterday."
Fang might as well have told her the world was ending, because as quick as a flash, Nora was in a flood of tears. Despite the fact it was sore, she used to her right hand to comfort the weeping woman.
"I need to contact my poor son… he's been placed into the care of my husband's family ever since our sentencing. I need to phone him, Fang. I need to hear his voice."
Fang bit her lip; her last phone card burning a hole in the pocket of her hooded jacket. She unzipped her prison issued garden vest, delving her hand in just to feel the cold, hard plastic.
Lebreau's voice or the voice of Nora's son?
She barely knew this woman, much like the Rikku girl, and yet she felt pressured into helping her too!
"Can't you ask one of the screws to let you use their phone?" Fang frowned.
The last thing Fang needed was a crying convict on her hands, and worse yet, a flash of pink caught her eye. The governor was standing at one of the benches alongside some officers, all in conversations of their own. The governor glanced over curiously at Fang and at Nora, which gave the woman no choice.
"Here," she said finally, slapping her last phone card into Nora's trembling hand. "Now go. Go ring him."
Ring him before I regret it.
Fang watched longingly at the phone card in Nora's hand more than Nora herself as she ran inside, still wearing the garden gloves. Fang thrust the trowel deep in the soil out of anger, wiping her brow.
Just when had she became so charitable?
The purr of the engine died as Lightning pulled the keys from the ignition. Suddenly remembering the words of one of her superiors the day she accepted the job at Edenfell, and such words had never rang so true.
'As governor you'll be tired, tried and tested.'
"Is that you home?" Cid called from another room as Lightning dumped her jacket on the end of the bannister.
She kicked off her heels next, regretting the choice of footwear, and not regretting the way they hit off the wall. It would be flat shoes from here on out.
Cid appeared in the hallway wearing a green apron, the smell of chopped onions following him from the kitchen "I'll take those series of grunts as a 'yes' then.".
"It's been one hell of a first day," Lightning managed with a large sigh.
Cid began to massage her neck and shoulders, giving her a quick kiss in the process. Such compassion was unusual from him.
"Go have a bath and food will be on the table ready when you're finished."
It was the best suggestion she had heard all day, she realised as she trudged upstairs, with every step appearing to get higher and higher as she climbed.
And once cleansed, she almost felt like galloping downstairs towards the food, which had smelled mouth-watering when she first came home. But as she entered the kitchen, she wasn't expecting to see that their homemade dinner had transformed into two steaming pizzas on the counter.
Cid was eating his second slice leaning on one arm, causing most of his sleek, dark hair to fall in his face. She hated it when it did that, because it meant she couldn't judge his mood properly.
"You were definitely cooking before, what happened?"
There was no point in asking what 'it' was, or what 'it' was going to going be; in case it was something better. Instead she took a seat at the breakfast bar facing opposite Cid, who pushed her share towards her.
"So, what was it like then?" Cid cracked open a bottle of white wine. Although Lightning didn't feel up to the task of drinking it, it would be a shame to waste it.
"Well, my day started out with a small fight in the cafeteria, resulting in an hour's worth of quizzing between three inmates, one of which hasn't even been there five minutes," Lightning paused thoughtfully. "There's currently a big drug crackdown amongst prisons now, which will require tougher rules and regulations for both staff and prisoners. Then to top it all off one of the inmates from earlier made an accusation against one of my officers."
"Looks like I'm going to be your councillor over the next few weeks then." Cid stated, his pale eyes already looking unhappy where her line of work was heading.
"Well thanks for being supportive," she retorted.
After being so eager to eat earlier, Lightning suddenly didn't feel as hungry. Cid's terrible mood couldn't have stemmed from burning dinner, so there had to be another reason.
"Is your awful mood down to something at work?" Lightning's eyes narrowed. "Do I need to be your councillor?"
Being a proud man, Cid wasn't the usual type to let Lightning know of his problems. Eventually, after two, or maybe three knockbacks of wine he began to open up, even if it was rather groggily.
"Rygdea wants to cut our research and production of aircrafts in favour of merely selling parts wholesale."
"Carry on," Lightning pushed, eyebrow slightly raised.
"It's only our first year of research, of course there are going to be losses. My forecast is that by year two alone we will have broken even. But he just won't listen."
Cid said no more, and once they had finished eating, Lightning began to clear up; the ache in her feet replaced by an ache in her head after too much wine. Cid didn't offer any help, and such moods were best avoided, therefore Lightning crashed into bed early.
The last thing she wanted was for Cid to lose out on his main inspiration, but if it meant being more financially secure she had to side with Rygdea on this one. Not that she would tell him that.
Tomorrow would be a better day, surely.
A/N: Firstly, don't panic in thinking that 'The Other Battlefield' has been shelved. This story is my form of distraction for you, as I race to complete the other stories I've neglected between weekly updates of this story.
Secondly, this story does require a disclaimer because it is based off a UK television show named 'Bad Girls', which means that I have borrowed storylines from the programme and therefore cannot take credit for most of the stuff I write.
My main aim is to update weekly, as I've written most of the story anyway in my downtime, and in between the posts I will be completing the other stories.
If you've got any questions, please feel free to ask because I do reply. Feedback is most appreciated, because despite the borrowed plots, I have worked incredibly hard on this.