DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: Specifically for the last episode of series three and what had gone before.
SEQUEL: To Rachel Vs. Godzilla, Ending a Mistake and Observing the End
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
THANKS: To the_girl_20 for giving these a look-see.
FEEDBACK: To ralst31[at]yahoo.co.uk

After Helen
By ralst


"I feel sorry for her." It was said with no small amount of disgust, because really, how could she feel sorry for the woman who'd held her at knife-point? The woman who'd threatened to end her life and rob Sammy of his mother. "I hate her and I feel sorry for her." Helen had been raised by monsters and damaged so badly that it was a miracle she'd coped as well as she had. "We let her down." She remembered the feel of the belt around her neck and wanted to lash out, at Helen, at anyone, but Helen was gone and only Rachel remained.

"You advised the CPS not to prosecute," Rachel reminded her, but she was as impressed with that answer as Helen had been hours earlier. "We got a confession out of Joe."

"But where were we thirty years ago, when those creatures were abusing their own children and killing young men for kicks?" She didn't mean them, of course, she meant the police, the thin blue line that was meant to stand between the innocents and the monsters. "Why didn't anyone notice how fucked up those girls were?" She thought of Helen, dead on the back seat of her car, following her sister's example and ending the nightmare that was her life. "What good did we do, digging up those graves?"

"We gave the families of the victims closure." It made a difference, knowing, but not at the cost of another life. "Once Helen came forward, we had no choice." She wanted to hug Gill, just throw her arms around her and squeeze so tight that not even air would come between them, but she didn't move.

"I had a choice with Kevin." If the newspapers hadn't been tipped off about Helen's involvement, none of this would have happened: no prosecution, no dog-shit through the letterbox, no final straw.

"You weren't to know he'd go blabbing to the papers." She'd worked side-by-side with him, fucked him even, but even she hadn't believed he'd be capable of such a thing until she'd heard it from his own lips. "He's a twat."

The corner of Gill's lips twitched into the semblance of a smile. "And you shagged him." It wasn't funny, but she almost felt like laughing. "What were you thinking?"

"I wasn't." She'd used another boy masquerading as a man to keep from having to face her life. Sean had provided escape from the heartache and confusion following Nick's murder and Dom's arrest, and Kevin had provided a way to force Sean to end the marriage he seemed desperate to cling onto. "I think I might have been dropped on the head as a baby."

At that, Gill's smile finally emerged. "I've met your mother," she opined, "so it's entirely possible."

Rachel's smile eclipsed Gill's in its brilliance. "It would explain that kiss."

The kiss that had been pointedly ignored for more than a year. "Would it?" As good as Gill was at reading people, she'd never been able to unravel the Gordian knot that was Rachel's thought processes.

"Probably not." She shouldn't have mentioned it. That particular elephant in the room had been doing an alarmingly good chameleon impression for months but standing there, next to Julie Dodson, watching the screens and praying to a God she didn't believe existed that Gill would be okay, she'd not been able to keep it from her thoughts. "I'm not sure I can explain half the things I do."

"So you're telling me it wasn't just a case of my irresistible charm?" The easy smile and flirtatious tone reminded Rachel of the shock and alcohol that were clouding Gill's mind, but she couldn't quite bring herself to end their current topic of conversation until she knew what Gill really thought.

Rachel wished the sound of Lady Gaga wasn't vibrating against the soles of her feet and that she could be sure Janet or Sammy or Julie Dodson weren't about to come strolling through the bedroom door, but her luck and timing had never been that good, at least outside of an interrogation room. "I don't know if I'd call it charm, but there's something about you that gets under my skin. Most of the time, I chalk it up to annoyance, because you can be a total cow when you want to be, but there are other times when I know it's something different." She looked to see if Gill was still listening or if she'd finally succumbed to the alcohol coursing through her system; she was both relieved and terrified to find Gill staring intently in her direction. "When the armed response team went in and you..."

As the words caught in Rachel's throat it was Gill who reached over and took her hand. "It's okay, Kid. I'm okay."

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't -" She wiped furiously at the tear that had dared to escape her control. "I couldn't breathe." It had felt like all the oxygen had been sucked from the room as she watched helplessly as Gill was released and scrambled from the car. "It wasn't just me," she added, thinking of the strained relief on Julie Dodson's face. "If Helen had..."

"She didn't." Perhaps, in the end, that was why she felt more pity than anger at Helen; she'd been broken and scared and she'd wanted desperately for someone to blame, but when the time came she'd made no attempt to hurt Gill; maybe, she'd decided that watching her die was punishment enough, but Gill would never know.

They held each other in a fierce embrace that was awkward and painful and the only thing, in that moment, that was keeping them both from falling apart. It would become another moment in their lives that they would never discuss but, as with the kiss, the memory would never desert them.

The End

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