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.

Duty of Care
By Nico

Part 1

Helen Stewart sat and contemplated the piece of soggy toast on the plate in front of her, realising she didn't feel hungry at all. Clearing it away, she went upstairs to shower and get ready for work; she blow dried her shoulder length dark blonde hair and then applied some makeup. Since having broken up with her husband, she now lived alone and spent many long hours at the hospital where she worked as a doctor. She was in the middle of the divorce and wished it would all just go away. Her marriage had been ok to begin with but she and Marcus had drifted apart and he went and found himself a lover.

As soon as Helen had found out, she filed for divorce, and threw him out with his belongings. He had gone quietly, and moved in with his girlfriend, who was now expecting their first child. Helen had been jealous, she had always wanted children but Marcus was against the idea, she was glad now that they hadn't had children because the marriage was never perfect. She realised after she had married him that she wasn't in love with him. They wanted different things from life and he never really took an interest in her like other husbands did with their wives. It was only a matter of time before the marriage dissolved and she was glad because it gave her the breathing space she needed, and she had found her freedom once more.

She had dated a couple of other doctors from the hospital but neither of them were what she was looking for, and if she was honest with herself she didn't have a clue exactly what it was she had been looking for, only that she would know when she found it. Relationships had never been easy for Helen and she always held something of herself back, never being able to give of herself totally and unconditionally. It wasn't that she was afraid of commitment, just that she hadn't met anyone she trusted enough to open up fully to.

She dressed in a smart black suit with white blouse and then she checked her reflection in the mirror, satisfied with what she saw she picked her briefcase up and locked the door behind her. She drove to work, and contemplated getting ready to deal with her 12 hour shift, which invariably led to overtime and if that happened she could be in the hospital for over 24 hours, sometimes even longer. She enjoyed her work however, and the pay was good, but sometimes the hours were a killer and she didn't get a lot of time to relax. She was always wound up or stressed out about something and always very tired. She had been working in the accident and emergency department of Wealdstone General Hospital now for three years, and had taken the post on when she had been promoted to consultant.

She ran a tight ship and didn't tolerate any nonsense or messing about on her team. She knew people's lives depended on their ability to think quickly and use the knowledge that medical school had firmly implanted in to their brains, and she would not stand for anything less than professional behaviour. She rubbed most of the staff up the wrong way at times but realising that her heart was in the right place where the patients were concerned, they didn't often step out of line. She was distant towards people and as a result she didn't have too many people she could call friends. It didn't bother her much anyway, she preferred her own company to that of the other staff members.

Coming to a stop in the car park, she locked her car and walked into the emergency department which at 8am in the morning was already relatively busy. She quickly deposited her belongings in the office and then picked up her stethoscope and made her way back down to the department. As soon as she got there an emergency came in, a suspected heart attack, which didn't phase Helen as she had dealt with the same problem hundreds of times. Quickly treating the patient, she soon had him dispatched to one of the wards and was ready for the next case to come in.

She was just about to talk to her registrar when a nurse came rushing up to her looking distraught.

"Dr Stewart, it's happened again. They've just found another one of the nurses in the toilets. She's in a bad way." The nurse said breathlessly as Helen took off at a run.

Getting to the toilets, she pushed her way through the crowd and knelt down to a young nurse whom she recognised.

"Susan, can you hear me? It's Doctor Stewart." Helen spoke and the nurse opened her eyes, "Susan what happened?"

"A bloke came in, and pushed me into the cubicle. I didn't get to see his face because he was wearing a mask, he just started hitting me."

"Did he do anything else to you?"

"No, he just seemed to be intent on hitting me." the nurse gasped for breath.

"Ok Susan, just try to relax and we will get you out of here in a moment."

Helen told one of the other nurses to phone security and have them call the police, she ushered everyone out of the bathroom and sat with Susan till a porter came in with a nurse and a stretcher. They gently lifted her on to it and then wheeled her into a cubicle so they could examine her. Helen knew that her arm was broken and suspected her ribs were too, she sent her up for x-rays so that they could investigate further.

Helen was shocked that it had happened again, this was the third time in six weeks. So far the police didn't seem to have found anything linking anybody to the crime and it continued to happen. She waited in her office for the police to show up, and when at last they finally did, they were ushered in by her secretary. She was back a few minutes later with coffee, and then closed the door behind her quietly.

Helen recounted what had happened and the police agreed that it was the same attacker, the nature of the crime fit in with the other assaults. Forensics were combing the toilets for evidence but they didn't expect to find anything, as with the other cases there was absolutely no evidence pointing to who the attacker was. They agreed to keep her informed of any developments and left to go and interview the victim. Helen was getting fed up, the police didn't seem to be doing much about the assaults and she was anxious that it would happen again.

Sure enough, two weeks later the scenario happened all over again only this time the victim was really badly beaten and had ended up in a coma. The woman had been in the hospital having brought her husband in because of an accident at home, she had been discovered shortly after her husband had asked where she was. Helen wasn't prepared to wait to be fobbed off by the police this time and made her way to the police station to see the officer in charge of the case.

"Doctor Stewart, what can I do for you?" DCI Jones offered her a chair.

"It's about these assaults at the hospital, that's four now in the last two months and it's steadily getting worse. Whenever your officers come to see me, I'm always left with the impression that it's not a top priority to find whoever is doing this."

"I can assure you it is a top priority to find the attacker and we are doing everything within our power to find them." DCI Jones tried to defend his officers but Helen wasn't going to let it go.

"That's just not good enough; I've got female members of staff who are too scared to go anywhere without traveling in groups, not to mention patients in the hospital are worried about being attacked while in our care. We've stepped up security but it's obviously not good enough and I want to know that something will be done about it."

"I can understand your position on the matter, but we have lots of other crimes to investigate as well. We are short staffed and we can't always devote as much attention to a case as we would like but I can assure that procedure has been followed and we are doing everything in our power to resolve this situation." he sighed, this woman certainly wasn't a happy bunny.

"Don't tell me about staff shortages, I work in a hospital and I have to deal with that sort of thing all the time. It does no good to tell a patient that I'm doing everything I can but I'm short of staff, when their life is in danger. It's called prioritising Mr. Jones, and that's what you should be doing. Are you going to take this case seriously or what?" Helen had vented her spleen and hoped she was getting through.

"Yes ok leave it with me and I will make sure that it gets priority." he had no choice but to start looking at the case in closer detail than he was really able to, he just didn't have the resources.

"I hope so because if it doesn't then I'm prepared to take this higher." Helen stood up and left the office and he could see she meant it.

"Bloody glad I don't have to work with her." he said aloud to the room after she had gone.

He walked outside into the incident room and looked around trying to find the particular officer he wanted. Seeing that they weren't there, he went into his office and got on the phone. He told the officer in question to get back to the station, that they were needed on another investigation. Twenty minutes later the officer sauntered into the room.

"Nice of you to come by." he said sarcastically.

"Sorry sir I was held up. So what did you want to see me about?"

"Ever fancied a change of career?"

"Thought about it a few times. What did you have in mind?" she said grinning.

"Those assaults at Wealdstone General, the consultant from the emergency department has been in complaining that we aren't doing enough to catch the attacker. I've had a word with one of the managers and you will be employed as a porter in A & E, keep your eyes and ears open and we might just find out who's responsible."

"Ooooo a bit of undercover work! It's a change at least."

"Yeah well don't get too excited, the doctor in charge is not an easy person to get on with, she chewed me up and spat me right out." he said grimacing as he recalled their encounter.

"Wouldn't take much to chew you up and spit you out sir." Nikki said laughing.

"Oh you can laugh Wade, but just wait till you meet her!"

Part 2

DS Nikki Wade went to bed early that night, knowing she had to be at the hospital early the next morning. She read a few pages of her book until she felt sleepy enough and then turned out the light. She had thrown herself into her work just lately as she had little to keep her at home anymore. She had split up with her girlfriend Niamh who had just gone back home to Ireland. They had been together three years and had had a great time but Niamh got fed up of waiting for Nikki to come home at night and they decided to call it quits.

Nikki missed her but they were never really in love and when the end came it was the same sort of sadness you got from saying goodbye to a friend. Nikki had always been a happy go lucky sort of person and it was easy come easy go with her, whenever one of her relationships broke up she moved on and didn't brood about it. She always believed that the right woman for her was out there somewhere and it was just a case of waiting to find her. Nikki could be taken either one of two ways, you instantly liked her because she was a friendly, fun type of person, or you couldn't stand her because you thought she was never serious. It was true that most of the time Nikki joked about and didn't take life too seriously but she could be serious when she had to be, she just didn't do it often.

She had joined the police when she was eighteen, and ever since she had been small it was the job she most wanted to do. Now at age 32 she had worked her way up to the rank of DS in CID and was happy with her job, she wasn't after climbing the career ladder with the same zeal as most officers and she was happy to plod along. Sometimes this was mistaken as laziness but she was far from lazy. She just didn't attack everything with the same degree of desperation as other members of the force who wanted to make it to chief constable before the age of 50.

Her parents had always joked that if she was any more laid back then she would be permanently asleep. While at school she had always done the bare minimum to get by, because life was too short to concentrate on school work when you could be off somewhere having fun. This was not the case with her work as an officer; she always put a hundred and ten percent into her work and was blessed with a patience that got her spectacular results. Other officers resented that she got good results, because to them it seemed she got them with the minimum of effort. They chose to ignore the fact that while they were off down the pub at the end of a shift, Nikki often stayed behind and followed up on her work. She had a great many friends on the force and quite possibly as many enemies.

The alarm clock went off and Nikki squinted as the gray daylight filtered through a crack in the curtains. She got up to shower and make herself some coffee; she never bothered with breakfast, not being able to face food until lunch time. Setting off in her car, she got to the hospital in plenty of time before the shift started and she reported for work. She was given her porters uniform and was shown around the emergency department. She took in her surroundings, and tried to get a feel for the place and the type of people who worked there. She scanned the faces of other staff members and committed them to memory; she was rudely interrupted by somebody who sounded pissed off.

"Are you the new porter?" Helen asked as Nikki turned around to face her.

"Yes, err Doctor Stewart." Nikki said as she read Helen's name tag.

"Are you going to stand there all day?" Helen said sarcastically.

"I'm sorry it's my first day and I was just getting used to my surroundings." Nikki understood what her boss had meant now, Helen Stewart was not an easy person to get on with.

"Plenty of time for that when you start doing what you're paid to do, follow me." she said walking off at a brisk pace.

"Sieg Heil." Nikki saluted nazi style at Helen and the receptionist giggled, Nikki winked at her and then followed Helen up the corridor.

She was taken into the resuscitation room and was told to move a patient up to theatre, Nikki did as she was told and followed the nurse as they both pushed the bed towards the lift. Nikki took the opportunity to commit the route to memory and have a good look at all the staff on the way. Nikki was blessed with the ability to eye people up without them noticing, she also could quite often get a feel for the type of person they were, but in Helen's case, that ability eluded her.

Helen was a hard one to work out, Nikki was almost certain there was far more to her than just the businesslike brisk manner but she wasn't really bothered in any case. Helen Stewart just wasn't the type of person she wanted to get to know better. Granted, she was attractive but Nikki didn't like women with cold attitudes, and she was going to steer well clear of her. She got back down to the A & E and waited around till she was needed again.

"What's your name?" that Scottish accent was behind her again.


"Nikki, I need you to run up to x-ray for me and get me the x-rays for a patient. Just tell them I sent you and don't be all day." Helen walked away, and spoke to one of the nurses.

"Moody cow." Nikki said under her breath before heading off to find the x-ray department.

She located it quickly and got back as fast as she could, and handed the file to Helen with a smile which wasn't returned. Helen took the file with a muttered 'thanks' and then walked away to put it on the light box. Nikki was interested and followed; she stood behind Helen out of the way as she looked at the x-rays.

"Can I do something for you?" Helen turned around to face her.

"I was just interested in the x-ray, I've not seen one before." Nikki replied pleasantly.

"This is your first job as a porter then?" Helen was somewhat annoyed for reasons Nikki was not aware of.

"Yes it is. Have I offended you in some way?" Nikki folded her arms and straightened to her full height which was quite a bit taller than Helen.

"When you're finished with a patient, just ask either me or one of the nurses if you're needed. Excuse me I have work to do." Helen turned back to the x-ray.

Nikki shrugged and went off to ask one of the nurses if there was anything she was needed for. The nurse told her that there would be a few patients who needed moving soon and just to hang around. The afternoon progressed in much the same way that the morning had and Nikki found most of the staff to be friendly enough, but they shut up whenever Helen was around. Nikki had yet to meet all the major players in the hospital, but she saw more than enough of Helen, who never seemed to keep still, she was always rushing about doing something.

Nikki felt as if she was getting the evil eye when she walked in to resus, and noticed Helen was watching her, she decided to wind her up.

"Yes Doctor Stewart? See something you like?" Nikki smirked at the look on Helen's face.

"I was in fact wondering if you could take a patient up to a ward for me in a couple of minutes, if that's ok with you?" Helen's face showed slight signs of annoyance.

"Of course Doctor Stewart, I am here to serve." Nikki said facetiously.

"Just do as you're told!"

"Touchy!" Nikki muttered as she followed Helen over to a bed that had an old man resting back on it.

"Hello sunshine, feeling a bit under the weather?" Nikki spoke to the old man gently.

"Just a little love, body isn't what it used to be." he smiled up at her, as Helen moved away from the bed to talk to a nurse.

"You're in the best place, these doctors are great, some of them can be moody gits but they're good at their jobs."

"Like that Scottish lass you mean?"

"Yep queen of the moodies that one! I bet the SS lost a good woman when she retired!" Nikki quipped and the old man laughed heartily.

"Wonder why she retired? Kicked out for cruelty maybe?" Nikki said laughing, and the old man creased up again.

"Looks like you're being summoned love." the old man said as he saw Helen beckoning to Nikki.

"Looks like you're right, be back in a tick." she patted him on the arm and then walked over to Helen.

"I'm not deaf you know, and you aren't paid to talk to patients." Helen's eyes were boring through Nikki's.

"Oh lighten up, I'm only talking to the man, he seems kinda lonely on his own. I would be scared if I was in his position. As for you not being deaf, well it was only a joke and you have to admit you aren't the friendliest of people."

"I'm a doctor; I'm here to save lives, not to go making friends with the patients."

"Maybe somebody should help you with your bedside manner, or maybe that's the problem, not had anyone in your bed to practice on recently by the looks of it."

"Another crack like that and I'll have you out of here so fast your bloody feet won't touch." Helen said quietly but with authority.

"I'm sorry." Nikki lowered her head; she couldn't afford to get kicked out of the hospital.

"Take that man up to the ward and then come back here, I need your help with something." Helen flounced off again and Nikki stuck her tongue out at her.

"Come on then sunshine, let's get you on to that ward and settled." she said to the old man as she wheeled him out and up to the ward.

Ten minutes later and she was back down in the emergency department, she looked around for Helen but couldn't find her so decided to talk to the receptionist while she was waiting. Ten minutes went by and Helen still hadn't returned, and Nikki and the receptionist were now deep in conversation.

"So there I was standing in this bar in Dublin, and I'm talking to this priest. He was telling me all about what it used to be like in this village where he had lived as a young priest."

"Yeah go on." the receptionist replied, she was loving Nikki's stories.

Unbeknownst to either of them, Helen was standing watching and listening to every word.

"So anyway, he's telling me about this farmer. This farmer was always outside the door of the pub at opening time and always the last one out at night. One day he didn't show up and everybody wondered where he was. A while later the priest was on his way to church when he saw the man running along at top speed to get into the pub cos he was late." Nikki tried to keep a straight face.

"What happened then?"

"Well the priest says to me, and I'm not too good at the accent but I will have a go. Jaysus and there was Seamus haring along the road, he slewed around the corner so fast that his left welly blew out!" Nikki was laughing so hard at the memory of the priest's funny story that she hadn't noticed Helen.

Helen had tried to stifle a giggle at the funny story and found it extremely hard; she didn't like Nikki but had to admit she told great stories. She then stepped from around the corner.

"Have you finished entertaining the department?" Helen said in a cool voice.

"Sorry doctor, I looked and you weren't around so I waited."

"I'm here now, come on lets go." she walked off leaving Nikki standing there.

Nikki shrugged her shoulders at the receptionist, smiled at her and then followed Helen. Helen Stewart was seriously starting to get on Nikki Wade's nerves.

Part 3

Nikki loaded a trolley with drugs to replenish the resus room as Helen signed for them, and then they set about the task of stocking up the drugs cupboard. Helen was silent, and Nikki found it uncomfortable but she wasn't about to start a conversation. Just as they finished an emergency came in, and Nikki went off to take another patient up to a ward. When she came back, she saw that the emergency patient hadn't survived.

A student nurse was very obviously upset about the death and was crying quietly in a corner, she noticed Helen stood next to her.

"You've got to learn to toughen up, you can't spend your time crying whenever a patient dies or you can't do your job effectively. I know it's difficult but you have to learn, just take a ten minute break and calm down." Helen then walked away and left the student sniffling in the corner.

"Doctor Stewart?"

"What?" Helen whirled round to face Nikki.

"Don't you think you're being a bit hard on the girl? I can understand what you're saying but a bit of sympathy wouldn't go amiss."

"She has to learn, we all had to, and how I run my staff has nothing to do with you."

"Honest to god woman, you haven't got a heart, you've got a swinging brick." Nikki looked at her with disgust.

"I want you in my office in 15 minutes, do you understand?"

"Perfectly." Nikki replied and then walked off.

Fifteen minutes later she knocked on Helen's door, she heard a curt 'come in' and did as she was told.

"Sit down."

"I would prefer to stand thank you."

"I said sit in that chair."

"Don't you wish it was electric?" Nikki sat down and folded her arms.

Helen glared at her; if looks could kill then Nikki would have been stone dead. Helen threw some files on to the top of her filing cabinet and sat down.

"I don't know what your problem is but it stops now."

"I don't have a problem, you're the one with the problem." Nikki said casually.

"Yes you're right I do have a problem. In this hospital we are chronically understaffed and are very busy. You've been here five minutes and it seems too much to ask of you to do your bloody job without getting a sly remark from you every five minutes. My job is to keep this department running smoothly, I do not need any shit from you." Helen said all this without losing her temper.

"It's not my fault if you can't be bothered to be nice to anybody. This is my first day on the job, a friendly smile or a friendly remark wouldn't have hurt. I'm not asking you to be my best friend; I'm just asking that you treat me with a little courtesy. The way you treated that student nurse before was a case in point."

"I'm doing it for her own good, I may not have handled it as tactfully as you would like but we all had to learn sometime. I've had my fair share of patients die over the years and I won't lie, it's upsetting. But you learn to control it and you cry alone if you have to, the patients rely on us to do our job."

"Can I go now?" Nikki just wanted to get out of there; this woman was doing her head in.

"Yes, and in future keep your mouth shut."

"You just couldn't resist could you? Always got to have the last sodding word!"

"I do not have to have the last word." Helen glared up at her.

"Yes you do, you've just done it again."

"I didn't."

"There you go, you're still doing it." Nikki felt a smile break out, despite her intention to remain angry.

Helen went to open her mouth and then closed it again. She was struggling not to smile; even she could see the funny side of things.

"Just get back to work." Helen said with a slight smile playing around the corners of her mouth.

"Ok, see ya later Ebenezer." Nikki quipped and then shot out of the office before Helen could say anything.

At last Nikki's shift was over and she was glad of the fact. It had been one hell of a day and it made her job back at the station seem exotic compared to being ordered around by Helen all day. She got home and collapsed on to the sofa, with a beer. She was now regretting that she had agreed to go undercover and hoped that she could catch the maniac attacking the women at the hospital soon. The attacker could in theory, have been anybody but Nikki had to consider the possibility that it could also be a staff member.

Not having had much time to get to know everybody she couldn't make any guesses as to who was a bit suspicious yet but she knew over the coming weeks she could begin to build a better picture. She was certain of one thing though, if she could slap a pair of handcuffs on anybody it would be Dr Helen Stewart, because the woman was a serious pain in the backside.

Helen collapsed into bed and lay staring up at the ceiling, she had had a tough day and the new porter was someone she could do without. She wasn't used to people questioning her every move or making comments about her as they saw fit, and it got on her nerves. Helen had managed to get where she was through sheer hard work, and she was proud of her achievements. It riled her the way Nikki had just breezed in and questioned her judgment, and she was certain of one thing, that she wouldn't put up with it.

Helen wasn't known for being emotional, and if she got upset about a patient she did it in private, she didn't appreciate Nikki saying she was heartless. Since learning at an early age that showing her emotions was frowned upon, Helen learnt to keep everything inside. It wasn't often she lost her temper, she didn't have to because usually one look from her was enough but something about Nikki Wade provoked her into almost losing her cool, and she didn't like it one little bit.

The next morning Helen turned up for work feeling tired and drained. She spotted Nikki enter the department just in front of her and she had no desire to lock horns with her today, she wanted to try and avoid her as much as she could. She went straight to her office and found a dozen red roses on her desk. There was no card and she had no idea who they were from. She asked her secretary but she didn't have a clue where they had come from either. Helen shrugged off her jacket, and then went down to the department.

"Doctor Stewart! Wait up."

"Yes Nikki?" Helen said wearily.

"There's been an assault in the toilets."

"Oh Jesus! Not again." Helen broke into a run, closely following behind Nikki.

They arrived at the bathroom to find another victim who had bled profusely in a cubicle. Helen quickly checked her over and found that she wasn't breathing and her heart had stopped. She started CPR and told Nikki to get a stretcher and a nurse quickly. Nikki ran off and was back a couple of minutes later, Helen was still administering CPR. They got the woman on to the stretcher and Helen continued to do CPR as they pushed the patient into resus.

Helen managed to get the woman's heart started again but she was unable to breathe on her own. She had to be intubated; Helen listened to the woman's chest with her stethoscope to check that the tube was in the right place and that she was being ventilated properly.

"We need to get an x-ray to check the placement of the tube." Helen spoke to a nearby nurse. "We also need to get her up to the CAT scan; she has some serious head injuries by the looks of it."

Nikki was stunned, she had seen some pretty awful sights in her time but the woman on the bed looked as if she had been run over by something huge and destructful. Helen looked over towards Nikki and could see she was looking overwhelmed by it all.

"Are you ok?" Helen asked concerned, uncharacteristically for her.

"Yes, I've seen a lot worse believe me. Was that concern I just heard?" Nikki smiled.

"Just asked in case you keeled over on me. Can you take this patient upstairs to be scanned please?" Helen changed the subject.

"Yeah no problem." Nikki began to wheel the patient away wondering if Helen did in fact have a heart after all, because the tin man routine was pissing her off.

When Nikki arrived back in A & E, the police had turned up and were talking to several of the staff members, one of the detectives spotted Nikki.

"Hiya Nikki, how's it going?"

"Fine Pete, say hello to your sister for me."

The detective was puzzled, he didn't have a sister, what was Nikki going on about? He took her to one side.

"I ain't got a sister."

"I know you haven't, you bloody idiot! I'm undercover remember, that means you aren't supposed to give me away." she said quietly as she rolled her eyes at him.

"Oh yeah sorry." he said grinning.

Nikki then told him all about finding the woman in the bathroom, and how she hadn't seen anyone leave the toilets, Helen was watching her closely. After they had all been interviewed they were ready to get back to work, Helen approached Nikki and pulled her to one side.

"What was that all about?" Helen wondered how the policeman knew Nikki.

"Pete you mean? Oh I'm friends with his sister."

"Oh right, well we should be getting back."

"Yeah see you later."

They both then went and got back to work, trying hard to concentrate on their jobs and not the fact that there was obviously some deranged man who traveled around the hospital complex assaulting women, and was seemingly invisible. Nikki was agitated, she felt responsible that she hadn't seen anybody hanging around, of course he could have been long gone but she didn't think so. When she had entered the toilets, she felt a sensation that he had only just gone, it pricked the hairs up on the back of her neck and she couldn't explain how she knew but she did.

He sat quietly in the dark, as the blood swirled around his brain. The voices were quieter now, merely mumbling as opposed to the loud wailing noises they usually made. They would be happy for now, he had done as they asked but they got more insistent as time went on, it was no longer good enough for them to wait for the perfect opportunity, he had been forced just to pick women at random, although that wasn't how it was supposed to work. He was supposed to find the right ones, they had to be like his special one or it wouldn't work.

"Oh my darling special one, if you would just come to me then all this would stop." he said in a whisper, as he wiped the blood from his face.

Part 4

Helen had been informed by a nurse that some drugs had gone missing, a quantity of codeine had been removed from the drugs cabinet and nobody knew where they were. That was all she needed, serious attacks taking place in the hospital and now there was a drugs thief. She thought about who it could be but her staff seemed reliable, however that didn't mean a thing. She instantly thought of Nikki, she had been with her yesterday when the drugs had been replenished. She decided to mention it to her and see what her reaction was.

She informed the hospital that drugs were missing and they weren't very happy to say the least, it wasn't doing much for their pr right now and this only made things worse. Leaving the office of a very unhappy manager, she then went to the canteen for her lunch break; she saw Nikki sitting at a table with her lunch and now was the perfect time to mention the drugs to her.

"Mind if I sit here?" Helen asked politely.

"No go ahead."

"Did you hear the latest?" Helen took a sip of her coffee.

"About what?"

"There are drugs missing from the drug cabinet."

"Really? Have you told the police?"

"I've left it with management, a whole load of codeine is missing." Helen waited to see if Nikki would react.

"What's codeine when it's at home?"

"It's an analgesic." Helen replied taking a bite of her sandwich.

"English please." Nikki said with a grin.

"Sorry, it's a narcotic pain reliever."

"In that case then, they're probably selling it or taking it themselves. This ever happened before?" Nikki couldn't help it; she was a policewoman after all.

"Not while I've been in charge no, I did hear of an incident that took place before I arrived, but that member of staff was sacked." Helen still couldn't work out whether Nikki was curious or fishing for information in case she was guilty.

"I hope you find whoever took the drugs, see you later." Nikki stood up and left Helen to ponder over the remains of her lunch.

Nikki was pre-occupied for the rest of the afternoon; she was extra specially vigilant and clocked everybody's comings and goings. The thought had crossed her mind that maybe Helen had been the one to take the drugs; after all it was a well known fact that some doctors couldn't resist prescribing for themselves. It wasn't so far fetched to assume that Helen was addicted to codeine, it took all sorts. She noticed somebody she hadn't seen before and made a point of introducing herself, so she could find out more.

"Hello, I'm new. My name is Nikki."

"Nice to meet you Nikki. I'm Doctor David Flanagan." he smiled at Nikki as he shook her hand; he was an attractive man in his late forties and had a thick head of blonde hair which had just started to lighten at the temples.

"Nice to meet you Doctor Flanagan." she smiled back.

"Have you seen Doctor Stewart about? I need to ask her advice on something."

"I haven't seen her, have you tried her office?"

"No I haven't, but I will do now. Thank you Nikki." he smiled and then strode off.

Nikki carried on with her job and noticed Helen arrive a few minutes later.

"Doctor Stewart, did Doctor Flanagan find you?"

"Yes he did, he said you told him where to find me, thank you."

"No probs." Nikki smiled and went on her way, two conversations out of Helen in a day, blimey the world must be tilting in the wrong direction.

The voices were screaming again, he would have to ignore them for now. To find somebody special took a long time and he wasn't going to settle for second best, he needed to do this properly or he would never get his special one, no matter how hard he tried. He told the voices in his head to shut up and they quietened down for once, he was pleased with himself, it was about time they started listening to him. The dripping of the tap was getting on his nerves and he supposed one day he should fix it but if he concentrated on the dripping then they left him alone, realising this he concentrated on the noise of the water and blocked them out.

Helen was nearing the end of her shift, she had worked several hours overtime and she was exhausted. She went to her office to finish some paperwork before going home; thankfully today she wouldn't have to work overtime. She had fallen asleep and a tap on her door startled her awake and made her heart pound. She went to open the door and found Doctor Flanagan standing there.

"Helen would you like to go for a drink with me tonight?" he asked pleasantly.

"I'm sorry I can't, I've got lots of paperwork to finish and I'm really tired. Maybe another time?"

"Not a problem, I will call you and we can arrange a time."

"Ok that would be good." Helen smiled and then closed the door behind her. She picked up a few files and then went to check on the department one last time before she left.

She noticed Nikki was still there and wondered why; she should have gone home a couple of hours ago. This made Helen more suspicious, she tried to tell herself that she had no proof Nikki had done anything but there was something about her that made her wonder. Putting it to the back of her mind she went out to her car and was dismayed to find that it was pelting down with rain. She ran to the car, and jumped in; she tried to start it but couldn't get the engine to turn over.

She gripped the steering wheel and felt like screaming, she didn't of course and kept calm, silently cursing the car in her head. She wasn't sure how long she had sat there in a daydream when she heard a tap on the window.

"You ok?" Nikki stood out in the rain getting soaked.

"Yeah, bloody car won't start."

"Pop the bonnet, let me have a look." Nikki disappeared to the front and Helen flicked the lever.

Nikki peered inside and looked around, the engine seemed fine to her and she wondered for a while what was wrong. Then she noticed that the rotor arm had gone, somebody had obviously taken it because they didn't just disappear on their own.

"Rotor arm is missing, somebody probably nicked it."

"Looks like I will have to get a taxi then." Helen retrieved her files and locked the car.

"I can give you a lift." Nikki said pointing to her car a few yards away.

"No that's ok, I don't want to trouble you." Helen didn't feel comfortable about going anywhere with her, she hardly knew her.

"No trouble, hurry up you're getting wet." Nikki started off in the direction of her car and Helen followed.

The journey was silent and Helen wondered how on earth Nikki could be able to afford to drive a BMW if she worked as a porter. She supposed she could have had a better paid job up until now but it was unlikely that she would have then chosen her present job. It made her more suspicious and she was glad to get out of the car when Nikki pulled up in front of her house.

"There you go, would you like me to pick you up in the morning?" she wanted to find out more about Helen because she wondered just how much she had to do with the drugs going missing.

"No, thank you anyway though, I will get a taxi."

"Ok, see you tomorrow then."

"Yeah see you." Helen got out of the car and shut her front door behind her quickly; there was very definitely something about Nikki Wade that she couldn't put her finger on.

Nikki reflected on the strange way Helen had been behaving on her way home, nobody behaved like that unless they had something to hide. She still wasn't having any luck in figuring her out; the woman really was an enigma. She wondered if Helen ever lost control, she never once lost her temper even if she did get annoyed with people occasionally. For all Nikki knew she was spaced out on drugs most of the time, maybe that explained her behaviour.

Nikki went to the station and had a quick meeting with her boss, she didn't have much to tell him because she had only been there two days but there had already been an assault and a drugs theft. She did a quick background check on Helen Stewart but there was nothing, she hadn't even so much as had a parking ticket, but it didn't mean she wasn't into things she shouldn't have been. Nikki left promising to keep them informed if she found anything out.

Helen sat in the bath staring into space; things were starting to get out of control at the hospital. All she wanted was a quiet life and now things were all over the place, she tried her best to run the department efficiently but the managers were getting fed up with what was going on, inevitably at some point she knew they would start putting pressure on her and that was just what she didn't want.

She got into bed and turned the lights out and snuggled down, that's all she seemed to do these days was sleep and work, and the working always far outweighed the sleeping time. She was starting to feel old and worn out even though she was only 34. It was nights like these that she missed having somebody to cuddle up to, a warm body to make you feel as if you weren't alone, even if they couldn't sort your problems out. She hated having to come home to an empty house, and was almost tempted to wish that she were still with Marcus. He wouldn't have listened to her problems, he always made it plain he had no interest but at least she wouldn't be alone.

Across town, the same thing more or less was going through Nikki's mind. Sleeping on her own was something she had gotten used to but it didn't mean she liked it. She just wished she had somebody there to hold on to her. She was tired of all the meaningless relationships and just wished for once that she would find somebody who meant more to her than just a passing attraction. She laughed at herself, this was so unlike her, normally she would brush it all off but tonight she was feeling unusually lonely.

Part 5

Nikki stood outside a cubicle as the occupant ranted incessantly at the medical staff stood before him. He was obviously drunk, and was also capable of being violent if the words coming out of his mouth were anything to go by. Being a copper, it was irritating Nikki and she itched to arrest him but couldn't. This didn't stop her from going in to the cubicle to get him to shut up anyway.

"Oi! Keep it down pal, this is a hospital." Nikki stood at the side of the bed behind Helen.

"Oh yeah and who the fuck are you?" the man slurred.

"Your worst nightmare, so how about you keep the noise down or you're gonna be in some serious trouble."

"Like I told that bitch there." he pointed at Helen "come anywhere near me and I'll knock your head off."

"I don't think so mate, so just lie back quietly and let the doctors do their jobs." Nikki laughed softly and shook her head at him.

"Oh yeah, gonna stop me are you?" he sat up and blinked drunkenly at her.

"If I have to, yes." Nikki stared straight at him.

"Nikki just leave it please." Helen turned around to face Nikki, she motioned for her to leave with her head but she continued to stand there.

The drunk suddenly lurched forward and Nikki pushed Helen out of the way as she caught the man and twisted his arm behind his back and pushed him against the bed.

"What's wrong with him anyway?" she asked looking at a stunned Helen.

"He needs stitches in his arm; he was slashed in a fight."

"Go on then, hurry up and stitch him, don't fancy standing here all day."

Nikki kept hold of him while Helen stitched his arm and then she dragged him out of the department and kicked him out the door, telling security to keep an eye on him. She noticed that Helen was following her every move with her eyes and knew it was to do with the incident earlier on, she knew Helen was too polite to ask how she had grabbed the man so quickly, and Nikki decided not to elaborate. Helen obviously had something else on her mind too because she was fast approaching Nikki and she knew she would probably be in for a telling off.

"Although I appreciate what you did earlier, that's what we have security for." Helen's face was impassive.

"I was only trying to help, and it was a good job I did because if I hadn't, you probably would have been taking your teeth home in a bag. All you had to say was thank you; don't you ever get emotional over anything?"

Helen remained silent and then suddenly walked off, leaving Nikki standing there.

Nikki wasn't prepared to let it rest at that, and followed her up to her office. She knocked on the door and didn't hear anything but went in anyway.

"What do you want?" Helen looked up from her desk at her.

"What's the matter with you? Why do you find it so hard to accept help? Touch of pmt maybe?" Nikki said sarcastically.

"There you go with the wisecracks again; you really are beginning to annoy me."

"Only just beginning to? I thought I had annoyed you since the minute I stepped in the door."

"No you're right; you have annoyed me since day one. You're a pain in the arse to work with and I wish to god you would put in for a transfer." Helen turned her attention to her paperwork.

"Oh we're really getting down to it now." Nikki sat down in front of Helen.

"Did I say you could sit?"

"You were insistent I sat down last time I was in here, what's the matter? You not got the chair plugged in today?" despite the fact that Helen got on her nerves, Nikki was enjoying arguing with her.

"One of these days I'm going to sew your mouth shut." Helen carried on looking at her files.

"Reckon you could catch me do you?" Nikki sparred back.

"That's why we have anaesthetics."

"Seriously though, don't you ever lose control over anything? You're always so calm and collected, even when you're raking me over the coals."

"No I don't." came Helen's flat reply.

"Didn't think so, what would it take to make you lose control?" Nikki was getting interested in this particular conversation; it was as if she had noticed just how attractive Helen really was for the first time.

"Irritating mouthy porters who won't keep their traps shut. Is there a point to this conversation or did you just feel like a break?"

"You're such a crabby sod! But even when you're crabby you do it in such a maddeningly controlled way."

"Yeah well I'm talented. Bog off I'm busy."

"Such good manners too." Nikki smirked, she was enjoying every minute of this.

"Right that's it." Helen stood up and retrieved one of the roses sitting in a vase on her filing cabinet and marched over to Nikki. Much to Nikki's amazement, she stuffed it in her mouth.

"Dotr Ewart!" Nikki said around the rose that was muffling her speech.

"I told you to bog off, you should have listened." Helen was amused but didn't let it show.

Nikki spat the rose out and pulled a face.

"Alright I'm going." she turned around and left, closing the door behind her with a slight smile.

Helen sat at her desk thinking about what she had just done; it wasn't like her to have a conversation with somebody she hardly knew. There had been a playful edge to it on both sides and she didn't want to go that route, if Nikki was indeed stealing the drugs then Helen didn't want to be associated with her. In future she would refrain from having conversations with Nikki like the one she had just had.

Nikki was thinking about what had just taken place in Helen's office, it was obvious she didn't like discussing herself, and even more obvious that she hated it when anybody criticised her or her moods. The playful way in which she had shoved the flower into Nikki's mouth just served to confuse her all the more, because it wasn't something she thought Helen was capable of. Trying to figure her out was becoming increasingly difficult.


"Yes Kerry?" a nurse with short blonde hair interrupted Nikki's thoughts.

"Do you fancy coming down the pub tonight? There are a few of us going out and we all thought it would be a good way of getting to know each other."

"Yeah I would love to, which pub?"

"The dog and gun, just down the road, you know where I mean?"

"Yep, ok see you later then." Nikki smiled and then got back to work.

Helen was sat in her office on the phone talking to a colleague when her secretary came in with more flowers; it was another dozen red roses. Helen frowned when she noticed there was no card; this was starting to get slightly weird. It was twice in one week now and Helen wondered who could be sending them, she got off the phone ten minutes later and asked her secretary to keep an eye out in case it happened again.

Shortly afterwards there was a knock on her door and Doctor Flanagan entered smiling. Helen smiled back, it wasn't often she went for older men but she had to admit that he was very attractive.

"Fancy that drink tonight?"

"Yes why not? Meet you in the dog and gun after my shift?"

"Great! See you later then."

Helen wondered if he had been the one to send the flowers but dismissed the thought, she was pretty sure he would have signed the card. She was looking forward to the evening because she didn't often go out and it was rare for her to have any sort of company. Finishing off the last of her paperwork, she went back down to the department and worked the remainder of her shift.

Nikki walked into the pub and Kerry waved at her, smiling she went over and asked if they wanted a drink. Kerry insisted on buying the round and Nikki would get the next one, after they were all seated with their drinks a conversation started.

"So Nikki, where did you work before Wealdstone?" Kerry asked as she lit a cigarette and offered one to Nikki.

"I used to work in a factory packing boxes of biscuits, not glamorous at all." Nikki laughed and then took a puff of her cigarette. It was the cover story she had decided on, just keeping it simple was the best way.

"We've all done our fair share of work like that. So how are you finding it at the hospital?" one of the other porters named Vince asked.

"It's ok, I'm getting used to it. Kind of busy when you first walk in and it takes you by surprise but I'm getting the hang of it now." Nikki downed her pint and then stood up to get another round in.

She walked over to the bar and was surprised to see Helen standing there.

"Hiya didn't think this was your sort of place." Nikki remarked casually as she motioned to the barman for another round.

"Oh yeah and just what is my sort of place?" there was a challenge in Helen's eyes and Nikki decided to take it up.

"Trendy wine bar, isn't that where most doctors spend their time?" Nikki smirked, she knew that would get on Helen's nerves but for some reason she couldn't stop herself.

"Not this doctor, I spend most of my time in the hospital. And for your information, I can't stand trendy wine bars." Helen's attitude was cool.

"Keep your hair on, just making an observation." Nikki shrugged and handed the money over as the drinks came.

"If you devoted as much time to keeping your mouth shut as you do making observations then you might get somewhere." Helen picked up her drink and walked off leaving Nikki at the bar.

"She must have terminal pmt." Nikki thought, she smiled to herself and then took the drinks back to the table.

The conversation was lively and Nikki was enjoying herself, she glanced up at Helen occasionally who seemed to be deep in conversation with Doctor Flanagan. Nikki was all set to make a night of it, despite having set a limit of two drinks before going home. Deciding to leave her car in the car park overnight, she set about consuming more alcohol.

There was a bleeping noise as David's pager went off and he immediately called to see what he was being paged for. He spoke in to the phone and then looked apologetically at Helen.

"I'm sorry; I'm needed back at the hospital."

"That's ok, I really enjoyed tonight."

"So did I, so would you like to do it again sometime? Maybe have some dinner?"

"I would love to, we can make arrangements."

"Great, well I better be going. Take care and see you soon, night Helen."

"You too, night David."

Helen was left sitting on her own, she was going to finish off the rest of her drink and call it a night. Nikki had noticed she was now sitting on her own, and having had a bit too much to drink, thought it would be a good idea to ask her to join them.

Part 6

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