DISCLAIMER: The characters in this story belong to Shed Productions. I am borrowing them for entertainment purposes only and not for financial gain.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the authors.

Cloudy Skies
By Nico

Part 17

Thomas was shopping in New York, he whistled as he walked. He wondered if Helen had been dragged off to prison yet, and hoped she was sitting in her cell feeling miserable. He spotted an Armani suit he liked the look of in the shop window and went in to try it on. He was itching to use some of the money that Helen had been saving up in their joint bank account; after all she wouldn't need it now. He tried the suit on, and looked at himself vainly in the mirror, then smiled smugly as he handed the credit card over. Taking his bag from the assistant, he walked back out onto the street, and headed to the nearest bar to stave off the shakes that were starting to permeate his body.

Trish smiled up at Helen as she was shown into the office. She shook hands with her and then indicated for her to take a seat. Gathering a notepad and pen she was ready to explain the procedure to her.

"How are you coping?"

"I'm finding it hard, some of the women in here seem intent on getting at me for some reason but I have made a couple of friends who are looking after me" Helen smiled slightly.

"I'm glad to hear it. Now I'm sure you know that you are allowed visitors and the next visit is Friday, so you can send a visiting order to Nikki. She really wants to see you, and she asked me to tell you that she loves you and misses you very much" Trish felt sad when she noticed a tear escape the corner of Helen's eye at the mention of Nikki.

"I can't wait to see her either; I miss her so much it hurts. So what's going to happen now then?" Helen was anxious to know more.

"We have to wait until your case comes up, I will try and convince the judge that you really didn't know about the drugs in your luggage. I will try and place a case for reasonable doubt and if he agrees then he has no choice but to let you go. If I can't persuade him of that then he will pronounce you guilty, and you will be sentenced. You can either be given a suspended sentence or he will send you back to prison. I don't know how lenient he will be, he will take into consideration that this is a first offence on your part, and also your previous good character but as to what will happen is anybody's guess"

"Ok, I least I have a better idea of what's gonna happen now. This is all such a bloody nightmare" Helen rubbed her forehead as Trish looked on sympathetically.

Nikki picked up the phone and quickly dialed Fiona's number, she needed her help.

"Fi mate, it's me"

"Hiya bud, how you doing?"

"Not too good, listen I need your help. I think Thomas is responsible for this whole mess, and I need to get him to try and admit to it"

"So you think he made good on his threat, and is out for revenge?" Fiona considered the possibility to be highly likely; having known what Thomas was capable of.

"I think that's exactly what he is after. So I need to get an admission from him, any ideas because so far I've drawn a blank"

"May be a little tricky to get him to admit to anything but having said that a careful probing might get him to open up. With people like him you have to boost their ego. When were you planning on going to see him?"

"Just as soon as I put the phone down, I can't wait too long because Helen is stuck in that shit hole and I want her out of there as soon as possible"

"It would be a good idea to take a voice recorder with you, have the bastard admit it all on tape and then you've got him"

"Great idea! Thanks Fi, I owe you one"

"Want me to come with you? I can sit outside while you speak to him"

"Thanks for the offer but I should do this alone, that way he won't get suspicious"

"No probs, call me when you find anything out ok?"

"Will do, talk you later, bye" Nikki put the phone down and jumped in her car. She drove into town to purchase a voice recorder and then made her way over to Thomas's house.

Helen queued up for lunch and felt slightly better than she had the previous day. She hadn't slept much the previous night because she was missing Nikki, she had been away from her for two nights now and already it seemed like weeks, she just hoped she could hold out without losing her sanity. She now felt a little more at ease with her surroundings, and Barbara with another inmate called Monica had been a lot of help to her. They had sat and reassured her when she was crying the previous night after lock up and had managed to get her to doze off for a short while at least.

Karen checked with her through the day to see if she was ok and she had found out from her how to send a visiting order. She filled one in and felt much happier that she would be seeing Nikki on Friday.

"Nice t-shirt you're wearing there Stewart, be a shame to get your lunch all over it" Maxi Purvis sneered as she sidled up to Helen.

"If you've got something to say then just come right out and say it, otherwise get the fuck out of my face. I've dealt with bigger bastards than you, I didn't let them get the better of me and you won't either" Helen snarled in maxi Purvis's direction. She looked totally shocked and backed off; she had no wish to get involved with someone who had the guts to talk back to her.

"Good girl Helen, I'm proud of you" Barbara smiled at her and they sat down to have lunch.

Nikki was now stood outside Helen's old house and was knocking on the door. She stood for a full ten minutes hammering away but there was no answer. Thomas's car was in the drive way, so he couldn't be at work. Seeing she was getting nowhere she left but she knew she would be coming back, she just had to bide her time.

Thomas walked into JFK International airport; he checked in and then went through to the departure lounge. He had enjoyed his trip, and had spent most of it getting drunk in as many bars as he could find. He had been on a shopping spree and his credit card was red hot. He had managed to spend most of the money that Helen had saved, and he didn't feel in the slightest bit guilty about it.

Friday arrived and Nikki stood excitedly outside the prison. She couldn't wait to see Helen, and shuffled from one foot to the other hoping they would hurry up and let her through. She got to the front of the queue and after checking her visiting order they let her sign in. She went into the visiting room and spotted Helen sitting at a table, Nikki was shocked at her appearance, Helen had always been trim but now she was bordering on being too thin and she was pale and tired looking. She rushed over to Helen and gathered her in her arms, but a prison officer barked at them that no touching was allowed, she and Helen sat down opposite each other.

"Oh Nikki it's so great to see you, I've missed you so much" Helen was tearful, but tried to smile.

"I've missed you too sweetheart. You look knackered, have you not been sleeping?"

"I must admit I'm not sleeping too well, it feels so strange being here and I'm not used to it yet. How has work been?" Helen asked trying to change the subject.

"I haven't been, I know I said I would think about it but I just couldn't go back, not without you"

"Promise me that you will go back, you can't stay off work just because I'm in here, you need money sweetheart"

"I know but I was due some time off anyway so I decided to take it. I promise once my time is up I will go back" Nikki knew she wouldn't but wanted to reassure Helen.

"How are you getting on with the women in here?"

"Barbara and another lady Monica have been so good to me and I'm coping much better than I have been. Don't worry about me, I'm fine" she didn't mention Purvis, and so far since she talked back to her in the canteen, she had left her alone.

"This place is bloody awful, I wish there was some way of getting you out of here" Nikki looked around the visiting room, the place had an air of hopelessness about it.

"It's not an attractive place to spend time in I'll grant you that, but it won't be forever, hopefully when my case comes up the judge will see I'm telling the truth" Helen tried to be positive about her situation, but she could tell Nikki didn't look too hopeful about it, and she really couldn't blame her.

"We just have to keep positive babe, we will be together again soon" Nikki ached to hold Helen but it was against the rules, it all seemed so unfair.

"I hope so sweetheart, I really do" Helen made an effort to smile, she knew it was as hard for Nikki to see her in there as it was for her to be stuck in a place like that, uncertain and afraid about the future.

They spent the rest of the half hour visiting time telling each other how much they loved one another, and when it came time to leave it was hard for them both. It was breaking Nikki's heart that she had to leave Helen in a place like this and she wanted to pick her up and run off with her but she knew she couldn't. They tried not to cry but it was impossible, and the last thing Nikki remembered as she was leaving was the look of total love in Helen's eyes, that shone through her tears.

Part 18

Nikki came out of the prison and went straight to Thomas's house, she was angry at the fact that Helen was being kept in there for no reason, and he was getting away with it. She picked up the voice recorder and switched it over to voice activated recording, before slipping it into her pocket. She then approached the front door, knocked, and waited for an answer. See could see Thomas approaching through the glass, and her heart skipped a beat.

"What do you want? If you've come to punch me again then you've had a wasted journey because I haven't been anywhere near Helen"

"No that's not what I came for"

"Oh really? Well in that case then I better ask you in hadn't I before the neighbours curtains start twitching"

He walked through to the kitchen and flipped the kettle on while Nikki took a seat.

"So what are you here for then?"

"Helen is in prison, they found drugs in her luggage on the way back from New York"

"Oh my god is she ok?" Thomas tried to look concerned.

"Don't pretend you care Thomas, after all she's in there because of you" Nikki glared at him.

"I don't quite follow, how is this all my fault?"

"Oh come on Thomas, I'm not stupid. I may not be as clever as you but I worked it out"

"Worked what out?"

"Worked out that you must have framed Helen, but what I can't work out is how you managed to plant the drugs in her bag" Nikki laced her fingers on top of the table.

Thomas smiled at her and then turned around to make the coffee, while Nikki tried to remain calm and patient. He deliberately took his time wanting to make her wait. Finally he passed her a cup and sat down opposite her.

"It was so easy to do; I am a pilot after all. All I had to do was put my uniform on and get through airport security, I went straight to the plane and found her bag, I placed the drugs inside and the rest is history. It's not difficult to buy drugs in New York if you know where to look, and they never once suspected what I was carrying, I just breezed through"

"How did you get on the plane and put the drugs in Helen's bag without us noticing?" Nikki was sure she would have noticed somebody on the plane.

"You were all busy, and nobody saw me, well they did but only after I had planted the drugs. I made a story up about getting the wrong plane and the stewardess believed me. Then I placed a little call to HM customs and excise and tipped them off, and they found the drugs, mission accomplished" he sipped his coffee and smiled at Nikki looking very pleased with himself indeed.

"Why did you do it? What has she ever done to you?" Nikki felt like strangling him.

"She left me, and for a woman at that. I wanted my wife back and I didn't get her so I did the next best thing and made sure you couldn't have her either"

"You evil bastard!" Nikki snarled at him.

"There is a way to get her out if you want to"

"Yeah and what's that?" Nikki was still seething.

"When you visit her, tell her it's all over between the two of you. Convince her that you don't want her. I don't care how you do it but do it, and then I will go to the relevant authorities and make sure she gets off"

"No fucking chance! I would never do that to her, and I don't trust you anyway" Nikki got angry with him, she knew she wouldn't have to because she had proof on tape but the thought sickened her.

"You have my word, split up with her and I will get her off"

"Oh yeah and how do your propose to do that because you aren't the type of person to turn yourself in"

"Just you leave that to me. Now if you don't mind I have things to do, so think about it and let me know" he smiled at her cruelly.

"Not in a million years you sick bastard" Nikki stood up and shouted at him.

"The offer stands if you change your mind" he slammed the door behind her as she stormed off to her car.

She took the machine from her pocket and pressed the stop button. She quickly rewound the tape and pressed play. She heard the beginning of the conversation, where Thomas had asked her what she wanted and then the tape stopped. She wondered what was wrong with it and tried to play it but it wouldn't. She opened it to look at the tape and found that it had become wrapped up and it was now useless.

She felt sick to her stomach as she realised that her way of getting Helen out of prison was now destroyed. She smashed the voice recorder on the dashboard and laid her head against the steering wheel. She thought about Thomas's offer, it was the only way she could get Helen out but there was no way she wanted to do it. She loved Helen with all her heart and to tell her that she no longer loved her was something she wasn't capable of, she didn't want to lie to the person she loved most in the world. It would break Helen's heart to think that she didn't love her and wouldn't support her while being stuck in prison.

A few days passed and Nikki agonised over what to do, she didn't want Helen stuck in there any longer than she had to be but could she lie to her? She knew she would lose her and that was the last thing she wanted. Nikki felt that Helen's freedom was the most important thing, and she didn't want to take that away from her, she felt that getting Helen freed was the right thing to do, even if it broke her heart. Nikki had always tried to do the right thing and this wouldn't be an exception, no matter how much it tore her apart.

"Thomas, you have a deal. I will tell Helen it's all over on Friday. Stick to the promise and get her out of there"

"Of course, I gave you my word" he said.

Friday came and Nikki shuffled into the prison apprehensively. She was going to do the worst thing she had ever done in her life and she knew she would never forgive herself, she knew Helen wouldn't either. It made her feel like such a coward and she knew the look on Helen's face when she told her would haunt her dreams for the rest of her life. She walked into the room and saw Helen sitting there, a big smile jumped onto her face when she saw Nikki. Nikki wanted to run away.

"Nikki sweetheart! It's great to see you, I've been looking forward to it from the minute I last saw you" Helen gave Nikki one of her biggest smiles as she sat down opposite her, Nikki didn't return the smile, she couldn't.

"Nikki what's the matter?" Helen frowned, she was getting worried.

"We need to talk Helen"

"Ok what about? Are you ok?"

"I'm fine. Look Helen this is hard for me to tell you but it has to be said. I...I don't love you and I don't think we should see each other anymore" it was out and Nikki wanted to die.

"I don't understand, what do you mean you don't love me? Nikki you said you did, you keep telling me you do" Helen looked so upset that Nikki's heart broke.

"I know but I don't feel like that anymore" Nikki looked down at the table; she just couldn't look Helen in the eyes.

"Nikki don't do this to me, I love you more than anything and I need you, please don't leave me" the tears rolled down Helen's face and her heart was breaking.

"I'm sorry, but this is the way it has to be"

"I don't believe you, we're meant to be together Nikki!"

"Sometimes things just don't work out how we want them to and this is one of those times. I'm sorry I've hurt you, I never wanted to do that, you have to believe me but I can't keep lying and saying I love you when I don't" Nikki was getting desperate, she just wanted to tell Helen all about it and what had happened but she didn't want Thomas to go back on his word.

"You're the reason I want to get out of this place, if I don't have you then I've got nothing" Helen wiped her tears away but they were soon replaced by fresh ones.

"I'm sorry, it's over" Nikki went to stand up.

"Please don't go, I love you" Helen sobbed.

"I've got to go" Nikki walked away without looking at Helen, because she knew she would break down and she couldn't afford to do that, Helen's freedom depended on it.

Helen watched her go and her heart was torn in two, she had thought that she would be with Nikki forever. She walked back to her cell with the tears tripping down her face and she didn't care who saw her like that. It was as if a light had just been turned out and she was all alone in the darkness. She threw herself down on her bunk and cried like she had never cried before, her dreams were shattered and all that was left was a big black gaping hole where her life had once been.

Nikki managed to get outside the prison before her tears came with a vengeance. she hated herself so much and wished she could put things right but it was too late, she suspected that when Helen's tears stopped then she would hate her, and there would never be a chance to put things right. She got her mobile phone and rang Thomas.

"It's all done, just make sure that she gets her freedom" Nikki could hardly get the words out, she hated Thomas Waugh with such a passion that she would gladly torture him until he screamed in agony.

"Of course, I will sort it out straightaway" Thomas put the phone down and grinned. He got a bottle of whisky from the cupboard and poured himself a generous measure. This latest piece of news called for a celebration.

Part 19

It had now been two weeks since Helen had seen Nikki and her mood hadn't improved, in fact it had worsened and she had refused to eat. She was gradually getting thinner and she looked awful because of too many sleepless nights. Barbara became so worried about her that she had gone to Karen Betts and told her about Helen.

"She's ever so upset Miss Betts, she won't eat and she doesn't sleep, she is making herself ill"

"I've noticed she hasn't been her normal self, what's causing it?"

"I don't know and she won't say, but she has been like that since she saw her girlfriend Nikki last week, and today she hasn't had any visits at all. I tried talking to her but she won't answer me" Barbara was getting desperate.

"Ok leave it with me Barbara and I will see if I can get her to open up"

Karen went immediately to Helen's cell, and tapped on the door. Helen lay on the bunk staring straight ahead, she didn't even look as if she was on the planet, and Karen began to worry.

Nikki sat in the kitchen in very much the same state Helen was in; all she had done was drink and smoke constantly since she had last seen Helen. She imagined Helen was out of jail now and it didn't surprise her that she hadn't come looking for her; after all if somebody had left you while you were in jail, you wouldn't be particularly concerned about seeing them. Nikki looked up blankly as the phone rang, it took a while to register and she eventually picked it up.

"Mate where've you been? I've been trying to get hold of you for days!" Fiona said sounding ticked off on the other end of the phone.


"What happened with Thomas? Did you get it all on tape, when are they letting Helen out?" Fiona fired the questions off.

"The tape got wound up and it was ruined. He said if I ditched Helen then he would tell the police it wasn't her, I don't know how he was going to prove it but he gave me his word. I suppose Helen is out now" Nikki said flatly.

"You did what? Don't tell me you're serious!" Fiona shouted down the phone.

"Deadly, I told her I didn't love her anymore and that it was over. In return, Thomas was going to get her released"

"You fucking idiot! Its not often I lose my temper with you Nik but this time you've ballsed it up big style!" Fiona was seething.

"Hey don't start on me! I figured Helen was better off with her freedom, than spending the next few years in jail. I did it because I love her so much it hurts" Nikki shouted down the phone through her tears.

"Oh Nik, what have you done?" Fiona said as she closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead.

Karen had tried to talk to Helen but she got no sense from her, and most of the time she wouldn't even answer her questions. She didn't know what to do next, and then a thought crept into her head. She had Helen's girlfriend's address listed on her case file and she decided to go and see her to see what she could find out. She left the prison at the end of her shift and studied her a-z to find out just exactly where Nikki lived.

Helen's mind was confused, one minute she was convinced Nikki loved her, the next she believed she didn't love her and she hated her for breaking her heart. She was getting so tired of it all swirling around in her brain, and she wished she could switch it all off but no matter how she tried she just couldn't achieve it. She had stopped thinking about getting out of prison now, what was the point? At least in here she had Barbara and Monica, whereas on the outside everything she had, had disappeared. The tears came again and Helen didn't even notice. She was so wrapped up in thinking about Nikki that the tears flowed down her face and onto her pillow.

Nikki heard the doorbell ring and got up to answer it; Fiona was standing on the doorstep with a case of lager. She let her in sat down without saying a word. Fiona cracked a couple of cans open and handed one to Nikki, who mumbled a polite 'thanks' and took a long swallow from it. Fiona was just about to speak when the doorbell rang again, it was Trish.

"Hiya just came over to discuss Helen's case with you" she said as she stepped in.

Nikki once again returned to the living room and was just about to ask Trish what she was going on about because Helen should already have been freed, when the doorbell rang for a third time.

"Like fucking Piccadilly Circus this house" Nikki muttered in irritation.

"Who are you?" she said impatiently when faced with Karen on the doorstep.

"I'm Karen Betts, I work at the prison and I'm Helen Stewart's personal officer. Can I come in? I need to speak with you"

"Might as well, come in and join the party"

They went into the living room and Nikki sat down with her lager, while the three women stared at her. Nikki had just realised a disturbingly familiar pattern, Trish was here to discuss Helen's case and Karen was her personal officer, why wasn't Helen free already?

"What did you say your name was?" Nikki pointed at Karen.

"My name is Karen"

"Where's Helen?"

"She's in prison, where else would she be?" Karen said baffled.

"Trish, has anybody approached you with information proving Helen is innocent?"

"No, should they have?"

Nikki looked over to Fiona, who was looking back at her with an expression that said 'Oh shit'

"The bastard! I'm going to kill him, he's a dead man when I get my hands on him" Nikki exploded and they all looked at her shocked at her sudden outburst.

"I'm not sure what's going on here but I came to see you about Helen. She's in a right state, she won't eat and she isn't sleeping. Do you have any idea what's wrong with her Miss Wade?" Karen interrupted Nikki's tirade.

"Yeah I do, she's heartbroken because I'm such a shit! I lied to her and said I didn't love her anymore and now I've ruined her whole life" Nikki slumped down on the sofa and lit a cigarette with shaking hands.

"Why on earth did you do that?" Trish looked at her with a look of disgust.

"You might as well grab a can of lager while I tell you the whole story" Nikki waited till they were all settled and she began.

She ran them right through the whole story and they sat listening quietly until she had finished. None of them could believe how totally callous Thomas had been. They also thought Nikki was an idiot but seeing how she had been left with little option, they understood she had done what she thought was right.

"Nikki you should have come to me with all this, I could have arranged to have him questioned, especially as he was harassing Helen" Trish shook her head in annoyance.

"I know! I'm well aware I've cocked the whole thing up; Helen thinks I don't love her and she is still stuck in bloody prison. Oh good god my mother was right, I am a moron!"

"I've got an idea" Fiona piped up.

"What's that then?"

"You know a few coppers don't you? You must do in your line of work. Why don't you get one of them to put a wire on Nikki, she can go see Thomas again and ask him why he didn't contact the police to get Helen out of jail. She can probably find out enough to get him nailed"

"That's a bloody good idea, I know a bloke who can help" Trish picked up her phone and walked into the kitchen to make a few calls.

"Do you want to go and see Helen? I can arrange to get you in there tonight" Karen asked looking over at Nikki who looked so lost that she felt sorry for her.

"As much as I want to, I don't think it's a good idea. She might not forgive me and to be honest I wouldn't blame her" Nikki lit up another cigarette.

"Come on Nik, you've got to try bud otherwise you will never know. You and Helen have been through such a lot together, if you explain it all to her then she will understand why you had to tell her you didn't love her anymore" Fiona sat next to Nikki and placed her hand on her arm.

"She's right, you have to go and see her because she has been in one hell of a state since the last time she saw you. She doesn't even seem bothered about getting out of jail anymore, it's like she has lost all hope" Karen had seen the way in which Helen had withdrawn into herself, and knew Nikki needed to at least try to put things right.

"I don't want to hurt her all over again; she's in this state because I did something stupid. Maybe I have done enough damage and should just leave the poor woman alone"

"For god sake, stop moping around and go and tell her! You messed up Nikki and now is your chance to put it right" Trish said as she came back in from the kitchen.

"So you all reckon I should try and talk to her?" Nikki looked doubtful.

"YES!" They all chorused.

"And you think she will forgive me?"

"Only one way to find out isn't there?" Karen said exasperated as Nikki raced upstairs to get a quick shower and a change of clothes.

She came down fifteen minutes later, and looked a lot better than she had before. Trish had arranged for one of her friends to help them out and she went off to arrange it all, Fiona expressed an interest and she was dragged along for the ride, leaving Karen and Nikki to set off to the prison. Nikki's heart thudded loudly in her chest all the way there, and her palms began to sweat, she didn't know what to expect when faced with Helen.

Part 20

Karen took Nikki into the prison and showed her to an empty office. She went to get Helen, and quietly crept into the cell because it was already after lock up. She touched Helen gently on the shoulder, and she turned over to face her.

"Come with me Helen, I've got something for you" she whispered and smiled at her in the semi darkness.

Helen got out of bed and followed her, she wondered what Karen was going on about but she didn't really care anyway. She stood outside the office while Karen popped her head inside and nodded to somebody, then Karen told her to go in. she shut the door behind her and left them to it.

"Nikki, what are you doing here?" Helen was rooted to the spot.

"I've come to explain to you why you've been miserable since the last time you saw me"

"I know why, you pissed off and left me in this bloody place all alone! You told me you didn't love me anymore, so I think I pretty much understand why" Helen was angry, and Nikki at least thought it was a difference from being quiet and withdrawn as Karen explained she had been.

"That's not what I meant it didn't come out right; I meant the reason why I said those things"

"Again I know why, could it possibly be because it's true? Hmmmm let me think, yep sounds about right" Helen was getting sarcastic now.

"Helen please!" Nikki pleaded with her; she wanted Helen to understand even if she wouldn't change her mind.

"Save it for someone who cares Nikki" Helen's heart was aching.

"Please just let me...." Nikki tried to speak but was cut off.

"I said I'm not interested" Helen snapped.

"If you would just let me explain the situation, I need to Helen please" Nikki was getting desperate, she wanted Helen to know what was going on.

"I trusted you, I loved you and you let me down. There is nothing more to say" Helen turned away and opened the door to find Karen standing outside.

"Miss Betts, can I go back to my cell now please?"

"Have you sorted things out?" Karen looked back and forth between Nikki and Helen.

"No she won't listen to me" Nikki looked deflated; she at least wanted Helen to know what had happened.

"I really think you should listen to her Helen" Karen looked Helen straight in the eye.

"I heard all I needed to hear the last time we spoke, I want to go back to my cell" Helen remained defiant.

"Ok I can't force you, come on" Karen told Nikki to stay where she was and then took Helen back to her cell.

Helen got back into bed and lay there thinking about Nikki, she supposed she should have at least listened to what she had to say but she had felt anger welling up inside her. Now that the anger was starting to subside, she wished she had stayed long enough to find out what Nikki wanted to say, what if Nikki still felt something for her? She had just blown her chance, it was too late now. Helen turned over to get more comfortable, maybe in the morning things would seem clearer and she could figure out what to do then.

"I'm sorry it didn't work out, maybe she just needs a little time to calm down and then you can try again. I will keep talking to her and try to persuade her that she must listen to you" Karen offered Nikki a cigarette and she accepted gratefully.

"If there's one thing I've learnt about Helen in all the time we've been together, it's that she can and does lose her temper, and when she does she goes up like a rocket. She will calm down eventually, but whether she is willing to let me talk to her is another matter entirely"

"Only time will tell, but as I said I will talk to her in the morning"

"Thank you, I better be going, it's late" Nikki stood up and shook Karen's hand.

"My pleasure, I will keep in touch and let you know how she's doing ok"

"Thank you, I'd appreciate it"

Karen led Nikki outside and said goodnight to her, she stood in the darkness as Nikki drove away. She just hoped that they could get Thomas to admit he had planted those drugs because if not, things could get very complicated, even more so than they were at the moment.

Nikki got home and phoned Trish to find out what she had been able to do about getting a confession from Thomas. Trish explained that the following night, Nikki would go to Thomas's place and try to talk to him, the police would be sitting around the corner in a surveillance van, while they listened to what was going on through the wire that they would plant on Nikki. Hanging up the phone, Nikki hoped that she could at least get Helen free even if she never spoke to her again.

Nikki stood up and went to bed, and it was quite a while before she managed to get to sleep. She just couldn't manage to switch off; all she could think about was Helen. "Oh Helen, I just wish I could prove to you how much I love you, why are things never bloody simple?" Nikki thought to herself as the tears ran down her face, she cried herself to sleep hugging her pillow, wishing it was Helen.

"Miss Betts can I have a word?" Helen had had all night to think about things.

"Of course you can"

"Do you know what Nikki wanted to say last night?"

"Yes but if you're asking me to tell you then I can't. That's a matter between you both, why don't you just give her a chance to tell you herself?" Karen was trying to make Helen see sense.

"I want to but I'm not sure she will want to, I just cut her off and didn't let her explain"

"I don't think you have anything to worry about on that score, would you like me to contact her and arrange for you to see her this afternoon?"

"Yes please Miss Betts, I would be grateful if you could" Helen smiled a genuine smile, and Karen was pleased she had agreed to meet Nikki.

"No problem, I'll go and give her a call now, and let you know what happens"

The phone rang startling Nikki awake and she picked it up and answered groggily.

"Nikki, its Karen. Good news, Helen came to me this morning and she wants to see you, so can you get here this afternoon say about two?"

"That's great! Tell her I will be there bang on two. Thanks Karen, I won't forget this"

"That's ok; just make sure you're here on time!"

Nikki jumped up to get ready, when the phone rang again, this time it was Trish.

"Morning Trish, great news, Helen has agreed to talk to me. Karen rang and I have to be at the prison for two.

"That's fantastic. Why don't I pick you up because I'm going to see her anyway, I have to ask her some questions, I promise when I'm done I will leave the both of you alone"

"Ok Trish, see you soon"

Nikki put the phone down and skipped off to get ready, hoping that Helen would be a lot more receptive than she had been the previous night.

Part 21

Nikki and Trish were shown into the same office that she had been in the previous night, they both took a seat and Nikki waited nervously for Helen. She had another chance to explain and hoped it would go more smoothly than it had last time; she just had to get Helen to listen. The door opened and Helen came in, the first thing she did was look straight at Nikki.

"I'll leave you two alone for a bit, Helen when I get back I have a few questions I need to ask ok?"

"Ok Trish, no problem" Helen answered and then sat down in front of Nikki and Trish and Karen left them to it.

"How are you?" Nikki asked fiddling with a button on her shirt nervously.

"I've been better, sorry about last night, I should have listened to you" Helen's tone was guarded.

"It's me that should be apologising. What I'm about to tell you is no excuse for my behaviour but I'm hoping that you will at least understand why I broke it off with you and upset you so much"

"Go on I'm listening"

"Thomas planted those drugs on you, I went to see him and he admitted it. I taped the whole conversation but the tape got wound up and the evidence was gone. He told me that if I came in here and convinced you that it was over then he would let you go. That's why I told you I didn't love you anymore, I had to! Otherwise he would never have let you go and I thought it would be better for you to have your freedom than have me. Only the slimy bastard had no intentions of telling anybody anything, and I found out last night you were still stuck in here"

Helen looked stunned, she ran through so many emotions all in the space of about ten seconds, and she gripped the desk because she felt like passing out.

"Are you ok?" Nikki asked concerned as she went to Helen's side.

"No, would you be?" she snapped.

"Sorry I deserved that" Nikki took the seat next to Helen.

"Why didn't you just tell me what was going on? It's the same thing over and over again, you keep secrets from me when you shouldn't, are you ever going to learn? You big pain in the arse" Helen smiled as Nikki looked up in surprise.

"I think I've learnt my lesson, I'm sorry, I'm stupid"

"How do you feel about me Nikki? I need to know"

"The same as I always have done, I love you so much that there aren't enough words in existence to describe how much. Nothing I told you that day was true Helen, you have to believe me. I did what I did to get you out of here because your freedom shouldn't have been taken away from you and I wanted you to have it back"

"I do believe you, I just wish you had told me sooner and then all this could have been avoided. This past week I've thought about nothing else but you, I've wrestled with what you said so many times that I swung between believing you and thinking you were lying to me. It hurt me to hear you say you didn't love me anymore" Helen started to cry again, she couldn't help it and was surprised that she had any tears left.

"No amount of apologising is ever going to be enough for the mistakes I've made, but I'm truly sorry, I love you so much and I never meant to hurt you"

"Come here" Helen grabbed Nikki in a vice like grip and hugged her desperately.

"I love you" Nikki said as she held Helen tightly.

"I love you too"

Karen left them to it for another couple of hours; she hadn't heard any screams and figured Helen hadn't added murder to her list of crimes. She just hoped they had sorted things out because it was obvious they cared for each other so much and it was only the evil intentions of one man keeping them apart. She hesitantly knocked on the door and then opened it to find Nikki and Helen in each others arms.

"You two sorted out then?" she asked smiling.

"Yes, thank you so much Miss Betts, if it hadn't been for you then we wouldn't have had this opportunity" Helen smiled and Karen was amazed at the transformation in her.

"Just a couple of questions from me and then you can take Helen back" Trish smiled at Karen and then she left the three women alone in the office.

"When was the last time you used your joint account credit card?"

"Er before I split up with Thomas I think" Helen looked thoughtful as she rubbed her forehead.

"Have you ever used it in New York?"

"No, no I don't think I ever have because I split up with him before I started on that route. To be honest up till now I had forgotten all about it"

"Good, because after doing some digging this morning, I can place Thomas in New York. The bank statements I managed to get hold of told me that he had been shopping in Armani amongst other places and he cleaned the account out"

"Bastard! I worked so hard to save all that money, I should have remembered the bloody account" Helen put her head in her hands.

"It's a good job you didn't really because at least we can prove he was in New York now; it's his signature on the receipts. Besides I did some checking and found out that when he spent the money, you were already half way over the Atlantic, so he can't say his signature was forged" Trish smiled.

"There will be visa details too that prove he was there" Nikki thought out loud.

"Already got that one covered, got a friend of mine looking in to it"

There was a knock at the door and Karen walked in.

"Right I better get you back to your cell Helen. Nikki you have an appointment tonight I believe?"

"Yes that's right, I'm off to see Thomas and hopefully get him to admit it all over again"

Nikki and Helen hugged and kissed each other passionately then it was time to go.

"I really really really love you Helen" Nikki said sincerely.

"I know you do, I love you too. And for god sake stop worrying, I know why you did it and I've forgiven you. So promise me its all in the past and forgotten about ok?" Helen smiled up at her and stroked the side of her face gently.

"Yes I promise I will stop worrying. You mean it though? I'm really forgiven?"

"Yes! Honest to god wade if you didn't have something to worry about you would invent a reason, never happy unless you're worrying" Helen giggled.

"I'm sorry, I just feel awful about what I've done" Nikki said sheepishly.

"Well don't! It's all forgotten about, just go and nail Thomas for me" Helen grabbed Nikki and kissed her once last time and then was led back to G Wing.

Part 22

Nikki sat in an unmarked police van a couple of streets away from Thomas's house. She was being fitted with a wire by one of the policemen Trish was friends with. He taped it to her ribs and then she put her shirt back on, feeling nervous in case things didn't go to plan. She looked over to see Fiona absolutely fascinated by the hi-tech equipment inside the van.

"Have you seen all this stuff mate? Its like James bond movie!" she said grinning.

"Yeah things have moved on a lot since the Sweeney!" Nikki giggled as Fiona shot her a mock disgusted look.

"Right all you have to do is get him to talk, get him to admit he planted those drugs and the job is done ok?" the policeman looked up at her to make sure she knew what she had to do.

"Yep, no problem" Nikki replied and then stood up.

Everybody wished her luck and she got into her car for the short drive to Thomas's place. She got out of the car and marched up the path determined to get him dropped right in it, she didn't have time to feel nervous. She wanted Helen out of prison and wasn't going to leave until she had gotten what she came for. She knocked on the door and waited while the hall light was flipped on and he came to answer the door.

"Not you again, what is it this time?"

"Can I come in?"

"Sure but make it quick, I'm busy" he said as he stepped aside to let her in.

"Oh anything interesting?" she asked casually.

"Yes I'm packing; I'm going off to live in Spain. Got a new job with one of the airlines out there"

"Ok well I'll get straight to it then. Why didn't you hold up to your end of the bargain? You promised me that you would tell the police about those drugs being planted on Helen if I ended things with her"

"As hard as this may seem for you to believe, I lied" he sneered at her.

"Why go through all this rigmarole then?" Nikki was hoping he would say the words and so far he hadn't.

"Revenge" was all he said and Nikki had heard one word that she knew would pique the interest of the coppers sitting a few streets away.

"I don't get what you mean?" Nikki said playing dumb.

"I wanted to get my own back on Helen, I couldn't let her get away with it so I made you a promise I never intended to keep. You ditch Helen and I promise to go to the police only that was never going to be good enough for me so I decided to let her rot in prison where she belongs. Broken heart and a jail sentence hanging over her head, you have to admit it doesn't get much better than that" he said laughing.

"So you went to all this trouble to pay Helen back for leaving you, and you thought planting drugs on her was the best way to go about it?" Nikki was leading Thomas where she wanted him to go and he didn't even seem to realise it.

"Yes and those drugs weren't cheap either. Took me quite a while to find the exact quantity of cocaine I needed and it cost me a pretty penny. I almost felt like I was losing out on a big profit when I planted them in Helen's suitcase but now I think about it, the revenge was so much nicer than money" he chuckled to himself again, not realising that he had just sealed his own fate.

"Guess that's it then, Helen is stuck in jail, I've broken her heart and you got what you wanted. Way to go Thomas, I just hope you can live with yourself after what you've said to me tonight"

"Oh I'm pretty sure I can!" he said smiling evilly.

"Don't count on it" Nikki said before walking out and slamming the door.

She got to the bottom of the pathway as a group of policemen ran past her and up the path to arrest Thomas. Nikki grinned, at last she had managed to get Thomas to admit it, and she would now be able to get her out of prison. She couldn't suppress the feeling of excitement that was welling up inside her at the thoughts of Helen coming home at last. She walked over to her car where Trish and Fiona stood, and gave them both a bone crushing hug as she punched the air in delight.

Helen got up next morning and went to the shower block with Barbara and Monica; Helen was looking very cheerful. She had told them what had happened and they were overjoyed for her that her situation seemed to be working out. Helen was then queuing up for breakfast when Karen came over to see her.

"Good news Helen, Nikki got a confession. Thomas was arrested and Trish has gone to see the judge. It shouldn't be long now" Karen smiled at her, she felt glad that this particular story would have a happy ending unlike so many others she encountered in her job.

"That's brilliant! I really can't thank you enough Miss Betts, I'm grateful for your help and I know Nikki is too"

"My pleasure Helen, I will keep you updated on what's happening" she smiled and then walked away.

"Oi Scotty! You want breakfast or what? Bloody screws pets!" Shell Dockley moaned.

"Yeah, and don't worry I won't be holding your queues up much longer, hopefully this is the last morning I have to look at your miserable face while you chuck my food at me" she winked at Dockley and walked away as Barbara giggled.

Helen sat down and started on her breakfast, even though the food was awful, she was starving and ate it thankfully. She saw Maxi Purvis walking past her with her breakfast tray, and stuck her elbow out, catching her off balance. The porridge maxi had chosen for breakfast was now sliding thickly down her shirt.

"You should be more bloody careful!" maxi shouted at her.

"I'm awfully sorry, I didn't see you there. Genuine mistake" Helen smirked.

"Purvis, clean that mess up and go and get changed. Hurry up, we can't keep the kitchen open for you all day" Karen barked her orders, and maxi walked away muttering under her breath. Karen looked over towards Helen, caught her eye and winked as Helen smiled back.

Trish came out of the judges chambers smiling; she had Helen's release papers in her hand. All charges had been dropped and Helen would be free to go. Nikki was beaming, and anxious to get to the prison to take Helen home. Helen meanwhile was in her cell, packing her things up. She knew Trish was on the way with Nikki because Karen had been in five minutes earlier to tell her that she would be going home. She packed up the last few items and then said goodbye to all the women on the wing that she had made friends with in the last few weeks. She hugged Barbara and Monica tearfully and then left the wing with Karen.

The governor had signed her release papers and Karen escorted her out, to the gate where Nikki and Trish were waiting. Helen spotted Nikki and took off at a run, dropping her plastic bag of belongings and launching herself into her open arms. Nikki twirled her around, and then kissed her frantically.

"I can't believe you are actually free" Nikki said as she hugged Helen to her.

"I can hardly believe it either. Take me home sweetheart"

"That would be my pleasure" Nikki replied looking deep into the eyes of the woman she loved more than life itself.

Later on that night, Nikki had cooked them both dinner and Helen was enjoying every mouthful.

"This is great Nikki" Helen took another forkful of her food.

"Glad you like it, keep eating you need to put more weight on, you're too skinny" Nikki commented as she took a sip of her wine.

"Ah yep, my new found figure, courtesy of the prisoners diet plan. So you liked my figure as it was before then?" Helen joked.

"Yes much preferred it. You had curves in all the right places, and I like a bit of meat on a woman" Nikki wiggled her eyebrows.

"Trying to say I was fat before?" Helen glared at her playfully.

"You know I think you're gorgeous" Nikki smiled suggestively at her.

"Hmmm think you're going to have to prove just how gorgeous you really think I am after dinner" Helen raised an eyebrow at her.

"Count on it sweetheart" Nikki smiled back and carried on with her meal.

They drew a bath after dinner and both climbed into it, Helen was in front leaning against Nikki.

"I've missed this so much; being able to relax in the bath is a luxury you don't get inside"

"A communal shower was it?" Nikki asked as she rubbed Helen's shoulders.

"Yeah, lukewarm water and five minutes to wash all your bits with a gang of women hanging about" Helen moaned softly as Nikki massaged the tension from her shoulders.

"Anywhere else but prison and I would say it sounded like heaven" Nikki giggled.

"This is heaven" Helen replied as she shifted in the bath and took Nikki in her arms, and proceeded to kiss her passionately.

Half an hour later and they emerged from the bathroom having made love, only to collapse on the bed and start all over again. They were both desperate to be closer and prove how much they loved each other, and as they lay in bed later fully satisfied and content, there was absolutely no doubt in their minds as how to how they felt about each other.

"I love you sweetheart" Nikki murmured in the darkness.

"I love you too babe" Helen replied sleepily.

"Go to sleep love, I will still be here in the morning. Goodnight Helen" Nikki held onto Helen tighter.

"Goodnight Nikki" she said and snuggled up against her lover, and they both fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.

Part 23

1 Year later

"Nikki will you stop worrying, everything is fine" Fiona straightened her shirt in front of the mirror as Nikki fussed about with her hair.

"I can't help it. I'm nervous. Have you got the rings?"

"For the fourth time of asking yes!"

"And the car will be here soon right?"

"Yes! here have a drink and calm down" Fiona handed Nikki a shot of brandy to calm her nerves, which Nikki downed in one go and then pulled a face as it went down.

"I hate brandy"

"Shut up, it will do you good" Fiona replied rolling her eyes.

Across town at Karen Betts house Helen was getting ready as well, she had just put the finishing touches to her makeup and was ready. She had been a bit nervous earlier on but her stomach had settled and now she was feeling excited. She and Karen had become good friends after she was released and they often went shopping together at weekends.

"All ready then Helen?" Karen asked as she looked at Helen in her dress.

"Certainly am, ready for the off?"

"I should be the one asking you that!" Karen laughed.

"I'm just eager to get there" Helen smiled back.

"You look beautiful in that dress Helen, Nikki won't be able to take her eyes off you"

"Thank you" Helen blushed at the compliment.

"Car's here" Karen said as she looked out the window.

"Ok let's get going" Helen picked up her bouquet of flowers and made her way out to the car.

Nikki was waiting nervously at the alter in the church; she had managed to persuade the vicar there to marry them. She kept fiddling with her collar and shuffling from side to side.

"Nikki for heavens sakes, will you keep still" her mother whispered from one of the pews.

"Sorry mum" Nikki smiled sheepishly. "I'm nervous"

"Don't worry love, I was the same when I married your mother" her father smiled over at her.

A man and a woman came walking up the aisle to where Nikki stood and she instantly guessed who they were, as the woman looked so much like Helen.

"Are you Nicola wade?" the man asked.

"Yes, and I take it you are Mr. and Mrs. Stewart?" she asked apprehensively hoping they weren't here to cause trouble, because they weren't overjoyed at the prospect of Helen being gay, and Nikki remembered the almighty row they had caused when Helen had told them.

"Yes we are. Is Helen due to arrive soon?"

"Yes she is. Look I don't mean to be rude but I hope you aren't going to say anything to her, this is our wedding day and I don't want it spoilt"

"No not at all, we came to realise that we were missing out on our daughter's life. Even though we don't like it, we are prepared to accept it and you of course, if you make Helen happy then that's all that matters" they both smiled at Nikki, who smiled back.

"In that case then Helen will be overjoyed. She should be here soon" Nikki shook hands with them both and Mrs. Stewart sat down while Mr. Stewart went to wait outside the church for Helen.

The car turned up ten minutes later and Helen got out, Karen held the train of her dress up and followed her towards the church, she spotted her father and stopped walking.

"Dad!" she exclaimed.

"Helen, you look so beautiful. Can you forgive your mother and I for being idiots?"

"Course I can dad, its all in the past. Will you give me away?" Helen kissed him on the cheek and then smiled at him.

"It would be my pleasure" he stuck his arm out for her and she held onto it as Karen followed behind with the train.

The music started up and Nikki whirled around to see Helen looking breathtakingly beautiful in her dress. Helen couldn't help but notice how attractive Nikki was looking in her new suit, and smiled at her as she walked up the aisle with her father. She reached the alter and her father placed her hand in Nikki's before sitting down. She handed her flowers to Karen who stood to one side acting as matron of honour.

"You look beautiful Helen" Nikki's eyes misted over.

"You're looking beautiful yourself" Helen winked at her and they both turned towards the vicar as the ceremony began.

They both said their vows and then Nikki turned towards Fiona who stood next to her for the rings. They placed the rings on each others fingers and they then they were pronounced married. They kissed as a cheer went up in church and then walked down the aisle hand in hand smiling at each other. Once they were outside, confetti and rice was thrown all over them, and they posed for photographs.

They were now finally ready to start their married life together and the past was just a memory. Thomas had been convicted for planting drugs on Helen and now faced a future in prison. Helen had recovered well from her time in prison, and had been back several times to visit Monica and Barbara, who had since been released and invited to the wedding. They had both looked on fondly as Nikki and Helen got married, both so glad to see that she was happy at last.

Nikki and Helen had both quit working for Larkhall and had started up a gardening business. Helen had been amazed to find that Nikki had a natural flair for gardening when they had moved into their new house. She had tackled the overgrown grass and weeds and had transformed it into a beautiful garden.

After the photographs were taken Nikki and Helen climbed into the waiting car so they could be whisked off to the reception where they would greet their guests as they arrived. The wedding breakfast went well, and everybody enjoyed themselves, they all clapped loudly after Fiona's speech which told of a few colourful tales about her friend.

Afterwards they made their way to the party, which would go on until the early hours of the morning. Everybody was relaxed and the drinks flowed freely much to Fiona's delight. The dj announced that he was going to play the first song, and Nikki and Helen took to the dance floor for the first dance. The music played away in the background as Nikki whirled Helen around the floor while keeping tightly hold of her.

"Thank you for today sweetheart, it's been one of the best days of my life" Helen leant over and kissed Nikki.

"I should be thanking you for agreeing to marry me. I will never forget how beautiful you looked today, I love you baby" Nikki pulled Helen closer and placed a kiss on her lips.

"I love you too" Helen replied as they continued to dance to the music.

A few hours later it was time for them to leave and they were driven to the hotel where they would be staying for the night before leaving the airport the next morning for a honeymoon flight to South Africa, where they would be going on safari.

They got settled into their room and opened a bottle of champagne. Nikki had booked the honeymoon suite and both she and Helen thought it was fantastic. After a few sips of champagne, Helen looked at Nikki and she recognised the look well.

"Nikki, would you mind helping me out of this dress?" Helen said seductively.

"It would be my pleasure"

Nikki removed the dress and they both fell back on the bed. They soon forgot the outside world existed and they concentrated on each other. They had overcome the difficulties of the past and were finally where they wanted to be knowing that now they were together again, the sky was the limit.

The End

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