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The guard ushers Nikki into the room. "Thank you, Clyde." As Helen walks to her desk, Nikki's steps hesitate, as she feels a cold distance from the Scot.
"It's about your exam. Now, I'll arrange for an individual evaluator to come in."
"Have you given up taking an interest in me, Miss?"
"Oh, look " Helen begins, exasperated. One sentence and Nikki has already turned the conversation personal.
"Why have you been avoiding me, then?"
Helen's expression is angry and resolute. She is not going to encourage Nikki's attraction. "You know what I am avoiding."
"Why don't you tell me?"
"Oh, for goodness sake, Nikki, all I've been trying to do is to help you to do yourself some good, because I don't want you to waste your potential." Helen speaks mostly to the desk, because every time she glances up, those dark eyes are watching her with such intensity that she finds her heart rate elevating.
She draws in a breath, looks away, and steels herself to deliver one last ditch effort. "You had no right taking advantage of me."
"Well, go on, put me on the block, then. Go on. Rule 47, subsection 16, being disrespectful to the wing governor " Nikki leans over her, close, almost touching, her lips mere inches away as her voice deepens, " by kissing her."
Helen looks up sharply. She doesn't need to be reminded of what happened."Nikki!" she says, but the dark-haired rogue continues as if she hadn't spoken.
"A kiss she enjoyed, if her moan of pleasure or the vigor with which she returned the kiss were any indication "
Helen turns her chair to face Nikki, preparing a lecture on propriety and suchlike, but Nikki beats her to the punch, leaning over the shorter woman with her hands planted squarely on the chair arms to trap her there.
" a kiss she came looking for, going to the cell of a known lesbian after lights out, practically sitting on her lap, and asking for comfort."
Helen stares at her in shock, and Nikki can't believe the depths of her denial. "What else were you there for, Helen? Did you think I would pat you on the back and say 'there, there'?"
A silence descends as Helen's mind runs through those last few moments leading up to the kiss, her eyes wide as she tries to reconstruct a coherent rationalization for her actions that fateful day. Nikki breaks into her concentration by leaning dangerously close, so close Helen can smell that odd blend of institutional soap and high-end cosmetics that she always associates with Nikki.
"Now are you going to sit there and stare down my top all day, or are you going to kiss me?"
Helen blinks, focuses, and sees the dark edge of Nikki's bra underneath the light blue shirt. Her startled eyes meet Nikki's for a moment and then return to that dark sliver of fabric; she remembers the weight of Nikki's breast in her hand, the heart beating beneath her fingers.
Her fingers reach out, hesitantly, pause halfway to their destination before splaying along the side of Nikki's face, her thumb caressing the cheekbone carefully. She realizes how long she's imagined doing that, before curling her fingers around the back of Nikki's head to pull her in for a kiss.
When they part, Helen locks eyes with Nikki in the silence neither woman wants to break. A look of understanding passes between them before Nikki straightens and walks to the door. She glances back and gives an uncertain half-smile before stepping out of the door. For long moments afterwards, Helen simply stares at the door, lost in thought.
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