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 11

Nikki and Helen made their way back to the department in record time, neither one of them fancied hanging around while the killer was at large. The first thing Nikki did was to pick up the phone to call the police, she was so pre-occupied that she hadn't really taken much notice of anything, the place was in a state of chaos. Nikki was just about to dial when Kerry came running up to them.

"It's happened again, there has been another murder."

"Have the police been called?" Nikki asked straightaway.

"Yes, they should be here any minute now."

"Have security closed off the hospital?" Helen asked quickly.

"Yes, they did it as soon as the body was discovered." Kerry answered.

"Good, Kerry go check on the patients and call me if you need me. All we can do now is wait until the police show up." Helen wanted Kerry out of the way; she needed to talk to Nikki.

"What do we do now?"

"I'll call my guvnor and brief him about what just happened before he gets here." Nikki grabbed the phone on the desk and dialed a number.

"It's me boss, listen you better call for backup. We've spotted the guy up on the ninth floor and it needs to be searched." Nikki spoke for another minute or so and then put down the phone.

The police arrived five minutes later and a whole group of them came walking in, it looked like DCI Jones had taken Nikki at her word and brought half the metropolitan police with him. He immediately made his way over to where Nikki and Helen stood.

"Dr Stewart, Miss Wade, I will need to interview you both at some point." DCI Jones said.

"Look sir, Helen knows I'm undercover so there is no need to keep it a secret from her." Nikki said as she folded her arms.

"How the bloody hell did she find out?" he snapped.

"I told her."

"Why in god's name did you do that?" DCI Jones was looking at her is if she was stupid.

"She knew something was going on and I had to tell her, you have no reason to worry sir, I trust her."

"Oh well that's alright then, so long as you trust her." he said sarcastically.

"I would trust her with my life, I knew it would be safe to tell her." Nikki didn't really care what he thought; it was too late now anyway because Helen already knew.

"I am still here you know." Helen said looking at them both slightly peeved, although Nikki's comment about trusting her with her life made her feel warm inside.

"Sorry." Nikki smiled apologetically down at Helen.

"Just what did you hope to achieve by going after him on your own? I thought the idea of you being here was to keep a low profile Nikki, I don't need you and Doctor Stewart here trying to re-enact an episode of Cagney and Lacey." he didn't look too happy.

"And just what do you suggest I should have done? Said oh there goes the killer, never mind we can catch him later?" Nikki exploded.

"It was my fault, I noticed him and I went running after him." Helen said stepping into the argument.

"It wasn't Helen's fault, I decided to go after him." Nikki didn't want Helen to get the blame.

"Honest to god! You two are becoming a liability. You are supposed to be undercover and you aren't even a member of the police force! I'll ask again, what was the bloody point of going after him without waiting for back up?" he looked back and forth from Nikki to Helen.

"If you shut up long enough Sir then I can tell you! We found a pile of bloody scrubs up on the ninth floor, forensics can get something from that, and we found a note." Nikki handed him a note which she had encased in a plastic bag.

"Oh this is just great, not only am I hunting for a killer, I'm looking for a poet now too!"

"By the looks of that note, it's a member of staff, either a nurse or a doctor. It's giving you a clue as to who he is." Nikki said pointing to the note, ignoring his caustic remark.

"Not really much use though is it? There must be hundreds of men working in this hospital." DCI Jones grumbled.

"It's better than a kick in the teeth DCI Jones." Helen was fast losing her temper with him as well.

"Don't either of you move from this spot, I'm not done with you both yet. I'm off up to the ninth floor to see what's up there, then I'm going to take a look at the crime scene." he strode off leaving them both behind.

"Someone's not happy." Helen remarked as she watched him go.

"Fuck him, he's never happy. You know your staff pretty well, any ideas?"

"I know quite a few staff members here fairly well on a professional basis but as to whether they are capable of murder? That I don't know."

"I have my suspicions." Nikki said without elaborating.


"I just have my suspicions." Nikki didn't want to say any more.

"Meaning Vince?" Helen said trying to get Nikki to open up.

"Yes Vince, I know we pulled him in once before but there is something not quite right about him. I wonder where the hell he is." Nikki said looking around the department.

"You can't just go questioning him again; they couldn't get any information out of him last time if you remember."

"I can and I will." Nikki was determined to get to the bottom of things, even if she had to throw the rule book away.

They were both interrupted when Doctor Barrett turned up.

"This place is turning into a mad house." he remarked shaking his head.

"That tends to happen when you have a homicidal maniac on the loose." Nikki said sarcastically.

"I heard from one of the coppers that you spotted the bloke upstairs, everybody is talking about it." he said completely ignoring Nikki and looking at Helen.

"Yes we did, the police are up there looking for him now." Helen was hoping against hope that he was still up there and that the police would find him.

"Word gets around pretty fast in this place, talk about jungle drums." Nikki was amazed that it had spread so fast, she could also throttle the copper who had opened his mouth; they knew they weren't supposed to talk to people about a case.

"Hope they catch him, he is obviously a right nutter. If either of you ladies need to go somewhere and you don't fancy walking around on your own, just give me a shout ok?"

"Will do, thanks Paul." Helen said as he walked off across the reception.

"I'll be back in a minute, stay here." Nikki went to walk away but Helen grabbed her arm.

"Where are you going?"

"I'm just going to check on something, I will be back soon."

"If you insist on talking to Vince then I'm coming with you."

"Do I have a choice?" Nikki said grinning slightly.

"No." Helen said firmly.

"Didn't think so." Nikki walked off with Helen following.

They searched around for Vince, a few people had seen him recently but they weren't sure where he was at present. They managed to catch up with him in the locker room, as they stepped in; he quickly closed his locker and smiled at them.

"Hey, how's it going?"

"Fine thanks Vince, I need a word with you." Nikki said as she positioned herself between him and the door.

"I'd like to Nikki, but I'm a bit busy and I should be getting back." he said nervously.

"I need to talk to you now, I'm sure they won't miss you for five minutes." Nikki was not about to be fobbed off.

"Er yeah ok sure." Vince started to shuffle uncomfortably.

They all sat down and Helen stayed close to Nikki, there was something about Vince that made her feel uncomfortable and he had always made her feel that way. She wasn't sure what it was but she didn't like the way he leered at her, and talking to him always made her feel as if she needed a bath. Nikki twiddled her thumbs and looked him straight in the eye.

"Why are you looking so nervous Vince? Feel guilty about something?"

"I'm not nervous, I'm fine." he laughed but there was no humour in it.

"The thing is something seems to be bothering you. And every time I see you, you are either covered in blood or have another cut somewhere, why is that?"

"I told you, I always cut myself shaving and the blood on my collar was my own." he started to squirm in his seat.

"See that's funny because when I asked you about it, you said the blood was from a patient." Nikki could see he was starting to sweat; there was a sheen of perspiration covering his face.

"I must have been mistaken about it, the blood came from a scratch on my neck and maybe I just didn't realise till afterwards."

"Oh so it's a scratch now? Make your mind up. Where did the scratch come from?"

"Can't remember, you know how it is, you cut yourself and just don't notice. Why do you want to know anyway?" he wiped his forehead with the back of his hand.

"Hmmm well if you say so." Nikki stood up; she had ignored his question on purpose.

"Can I go now?" Vince said looking very much relieved that Nikki seemed to be done with her questions.

"Oh there is just one more thing, you wouldn't mind me taking a look in your locker would you Vince?" Nikki said casually.

"Yeah actually I would, it's private property and you don't have the right to look in there." he started to tremble.

"I'm a police officer, and I actually do have the right to search your locker. Either you give me permission or I can go and get a search warrant but you don't want to appear awkward do you Vince?"

"Alright, alright. If it will make you happy then look." he handed the key to his locker over to Nikki and she opened it up.

She took one look and whirled around to face Vince who was now looking decidedly scared, that was it, it was all over. Nikki motioned for Helen to have a peek and she gasped when she saw the contents of the locker. Vince sat back down again and cradled his head in his hands.

"How long have you been addicted to codeine Vince?" Nikki asked as she surveyed packs of stolen drugs.

Part 12

"I'm not addicted to codeine, I don't know how those drugs got in there." he said unconvincingly.

"Cut the bullshit! You took those drugs and I for one want to know why. If you confess now, it will be better for you in the long run." she shouted at him, and he looked up at her.

"She's right, spill Vince." Nikki stared straight at him menacingly; she thought Helen should have become a police woman; she seemed adept at interrogation techniques.

"Ok I stole the drugs but I'm not taking them. They're for my girlfriend, she used to work here and she was addicted to the stuff, she got sacked when they found out. She tried staying off it but she couldn't so I took the drugs for her."

"That explains that then, but what about the cuts and scratches and the blood? Are you the one responsible for murdering those women?" Nikki wasn't sure at all now that he was capable; if he had been so jittery about hiding drugs then she was doubtful he would be able to keep the murders a secret.

"It wasn't me, I swear it wasn't. I may be guilty of a lot of things but murder isn't one of them, I couldn't do that." he broke down in tears but neither of them had any sympathy for him; he had gotten himself into this mess and had nobody else to blame.

"So what about the cuts then?" Nikki persisted.

"I got those from my girlfriend, when she is coming down off the drugs she gets agitated and lashes out at me, that's where the scratches came from, I swear I'm telling you the truth." he looked pleadingly at them.

"You leave me with no option but inform my colleagues, and you realise they will prosecute. Not to mention the fact that you have just lost your job." Nikki was already on her way to the telephone.

"I know, I messed up and I'll take what's coming." he said in a quiet defeated voice.

Vince was arrested and taken away, and Nikki and Helen went back to reception to wait for DCI Jones. He came back to find them both pissed off at having had to wait so long, Helen took them to her office so he could question them both. Forensics had combed the ninth floor for evidence and were now on their way back to the lab to analyse it all. There was no sign of the killer, he had obviously managed to escape and they had missed their chance of catching him.

DCI Jones left shortly afterwards, there was a sense of defeat all round as the killer was still at large. Helen sat back in her chair with her eyes closed, the problem of the drugs going missing was solved but the biggest problem of all was still facing them, and she felt deep down that somebody else would end up dead.

"It's been one hell of a day." she said rubbing her face.

"You can say that again." Nikki said taking a deep breath and blowing it out frustratedly.

"It's been one hell of a day." she raised her eyebrow and smiled.

"Funny! Do you fancy a drink by any chance?"

"I could really do with one." Helen stood up and grabbed her leather jacket before closing and locking the office door behind them.

They walked into the pub ten minutes later, and ordered their drinks before sitting down. Helen offered a cigarette to Nikki who accepted it, and then lit Helen's for her.

"Wouldn't have taken you for a full time smoker."

"Looks can be deceiving." Helen smiled, "I gave up a few years back but just recently I started up again."

"Since all the trouble at the hospital started?" Nikki took a sip of her drink and looked at Helen, who looked a little uncomfortable.

"No before that, so you and Kerry seem to be getting close." she changed the subject, as she always did when faced with questions about herself.

"I wouldn't say we were close, just friendly that's all. What about you and Doctor Flanagan?" Nikki grinned.

"Same, just friends. I don't usually go for older men anyway and I'm not really looking for more than friendship right now."

"You never know, maybe the right one will come along." Nikki downed the rest of her pint and then smiled.

"We'll see." was all Helen said as she finished her drink off and stood to get another round in.

A couple of hours later Helen and Nikki left the pub and both had loosened up considerably after a few drinks. Nikki enjoyed Helen's company far more now than she used to, she wasn't as uptight or bitchy as she once was, even though she still had times when she could be. Helen stood on the pavement looking up at Nikki, for some strange reason she didn't want the night to end there, she didn't want to go home on her own. She enjoyed the time they spent together and missed her whenever she wasn't around.

"Do you fancy coming to my place for another drink?" she asked, wondering if Nikki would find it strange that earlier on in the day she had argued with her but now was asking her if she wanted to go home with her.

"Sure I would love to." Nikki still found it difficult to predict her moods, she was thinking along the same lines as Helen, they had argued earlier but here she was now inviting her back to her house but having said that they had had a tough day.

Nikki whistled for a taxi and when it stopped, she opened the door for Helen. She climbed in after her and then they set off towards her house. They spent the journey in silence both lost in their thoughts and almost didn't notice when the taxi pulled up. They paid the taxi driver and went inside.

"What would you like? I've got wine, lager, vodka or whisky." Helen shouted through from the kitchen.

"Wine would be fine thanks." Nikki shouted back through.

Helen came in five minutes later with two glasses of wine and settled down next to Nikki on the sofa. The silence between them was more comfortable than awkward and it was a measure of just how they had come to resolve their differences with each other. Nikki spoke first.

"If I ask you something, will you promise not to bite my head off?"

"Yeah but I can't promise to answer." Helen said smiling slightly.

"Why is it every time I ask you about yourself you change the subject?"

"Just don't feel comfortable talking about myself." Helen said looking as if she wanted to change the subject again.

"Why don't you though?"

"There isn't much to tell anyway." Helen suddenly got very interested in her glass.

"Everybody has a story."

"My life has never been easy, my mother died when I was small and my father was never around. Things have just never gone right for me and I don't like talking about it."

"So that's why you shut yourself off from the world, keep everybody at arms length and then nothing can go wrong. You find yourself needing to be in control of everything, It's not always such a bad idea to lose control you know." Nikki said softly.

"I hate not being in control. And you're right, I do shut myself off, it's been the only way I could cope at times. Pathetic or what?" Helen shook her head and took another mouthful of wine.

'It's not pathetic, it's a defence mechanism, and we all do it to some extent."

Helen was somewhat surprised that Nikki seemed to understand her, and how she felt. It was a rare thing to have somebody to talk to, who could see her point of view for once.

"Suppose that's true, it's just hard for me because I have never had anybody other than my sister who cared about me. At least not the way I wanted them to." Helen turned away and disappeared into the kitchen. Nikki stood up and followed her.

"I care." Nikki said slowly as she stood behind Helen in the kitchen.

Helen didn't say anything and leaned back until her back was resting against Nikki. Nikki enveloped her with her arms and held on tightly. Sensing this was a time where no words would be necessary, Nikki kept quiet. Helen's eyes were closed as the back of her head rested on Nikki's shoulder. She took her arms and placed them over Nikki's. After a few moments, she turned around and placed her arms around the back of Nikki's neck and pulled her closer.

"Do you really care about me?" Helen said into her shoulder.

"Yes I do." Nikki whispered in to her hair.

"I don't deserve it; I've been so horrible to you."

"Shhh none of that matters now." Nikki said softly as she rubbed the back of Helen's neck.

Part 13

Saturday came and Nikki was up early, she had to meet Kerry at ten and didn't like being late. She dressed casually and took a jacket with her which she slung over her shoulder. She arrived to find Kerry already waiting. "She's eager." thought Nikki as she approached her smiling.

"Hiya, been waiting long?"

"Only about ten minutes, I have a horrible habit of being early." Kerry smiled and Nikki noticed there was a glint of something in her eye, it looked slightly predatory if she wasn't mistaken.

"Ready to go then?"

"Yeah, can you give me a hand with these?" she asked pointing to bags that contained enough food to feed a small army.

Nikki hoisted the bags up and threw them into her car boot, and then settled behind the wheel. Kerry sank into the passenger seat beside her and surreptitiously hiked her skirt higher up her legs; it didn't go unnoticed by Nikki. Nikki put her sunglasses on and pulled out in to the stream of traffic. Kerry talked incessantly about one thing or another and Nikki wasn't really listening, she was too busy thinking about other things.

They pulled up at a quiet spot in the country an hour later and they took the food from the boot. They walked for a few minutes until they found the perfect spot; it overlooked a lake and had a good deal of shade from some nearby oak trees. Nikki spread the blanket and Kerry set about sorting some drinks out. She poured two cups of apple juice and handed one to Nikki, Kerry's hand briefly rested on Nikki's fingers until she pulled away when Nikki raised her eyebrow at her.

"You're keen." Nikki said smiling.

"Was it that obvious?" Kerry said smiling shyly.

"Just a bit." Nikki said laughing.

They dished out the lunch and sat talking as they ate. Nikki found out that Kerry wasn't out at work and that she was a born flirt, which Nikki knew anyway because she had seen her flirting at work, even with the men. After they had finished Nikki lay back on the blanket and stretched out enjoying the warm sunshine. She closed her eyes and thought about the hospital and about all the things that were going on. There was just so much for her to think about that she completely forgot Kerry was there and ended up lost in her thoughts. She thought about Helen, Nikki could see that deep down she was affected by something, but as yet she didn't know the full story. It made Nikki just want to take care of her, although thinking along those lines could get her in to trouble, Helen was straight, they were friends and she shouldn't be thinking about her in that way.

Kerry looked down at Nikki and watched the sunlight as it reflected off her hair, she traced the curve of Nikki's face with her eyes and couldn't resist doing the same with her fingertips. As soon as Kerry touched Nikki, she shot up in surprise and blinked quickly. She had been so deeply in thought; the touch of Kerry's hand had frightened the life out of her.

"Didn't mean to startle you." Kerry smiled at her seductively.

"That's ok, I was just carried away with my thoughts." Nikki smiled, the glint in Kerry's eye was back.

Taking the opportunity Kerry leaned in kissed Nikki. The kiss lasted several minutes and although it didn't set Nikki on fire, it was pleasant enough. She didn't really want a serious relationship just now, she just wanted to have fun and take things slowly. She said as much to Kerry and was relieved when she agreed with her, that they should keep it light with no strings attached. Nikki somehow didn't think it would be that simple, especially the way Kerry was looking at her now. It was also thoughts of Helen that held her back.

As the afternoon wore on it was readily apparent to Nikki that although Kerry had backed off somewhat, she still had ideas about getting closer to her and she knew she would have to keep a close watch on things because all she really wanted was somebody to keep her company rather than a full blown love affair. In her type of job, love lives could suffer and hers usually did. Getting too close to Kerry could bring complications that at the moment she could well do without.

It was getting late and they decided to make a move, they packed the stuff back into the car. Nikki noticed that she had left her mobile phone in the car and had a couple of missed calls, checking the number, she saw it was Helen. Wondering if she was ok, Nikki started to panic slightly. She quickly dialed the number but Helen's phone was switched off.

"Shit." Nikki exclaimed as she started the car and slung it in to first gear.

"Something wrong?" Kerry frowned as she looked at Nikki.

"I shouldn't think so, at least I hope not." Nikki drove away, and mentally hoped Helen was ok and that she hadn't been ringing about anything important.

She drove back to the dog and gun so she could drop Kerry off at her car, and she noticed Helen get out of a taxi.

"Are you ok? Is there anything wrong?" Nikki said apprehensively.

"No Nikki I'm fine." Helen smiled up at her, "did you have a nice day?"

"Er it was ok, are you sure everything is ok? I noticed I had a few missed calls from you and your phone was switched off."

"Oh that yeah, my battery went dead, I wondered what you were doing tomorrow."

"I'm not doing anything; did you have something in mind?"

"Actually I did, would you like to come to my place for lunch?" inviting Nikki to lunch wasn't the only reason Helen had called, she had been missing Nikki all day and just wanted to hear her voice but wouldn't admit it to herself.

"That would be great." Nikki smiled at Helen and she smiled back, Kerry didn't look happy about it.

"Would you like a drink?" Nikki addressed both Helen and Kerry.

"I'd love one; David should be here soon, he can join us."

"No I don't think I will thanks, I better be getting home." Kerry said sulkily, she didn't like Helen and wanted Nikki all to herself.

"Oh ok then, see you on Monday?" Nikki said smiling.

"Yeah." Kerry said and walked off without saying goodbye.

"What's the matter with her?" Helen asked as she watched Kerry walking away.

"Oh never mind her, it's a long story. Come on lets go get that drink."

Nikki opened the door of the pub for Helen and then followed her inside. Helen sat down while Nikki got the drinks in and then they sat talking. Nikki gave Helen a short version of her day; she nodded and smiled in the right places. They were discussing the murders at the hospital when David walked in.

"Hello Helen, Nikki what a surprise." he said smiling although it didn't quite reach his eyes.

"Hiya, well I should really be going now. So see you about 1 tomorrow?" Nikki stood up and put her jacket on, then downed the rest of her pint.

"Tell you what, come about twelve and then we can make an afternoon of it." Helen flashed Nikki a dazzling smile.

"Deal, right see you tomorrow. Have fun!" she flashed a smile at Helen and then was gone.

"What was that all about?" David asked as he sat down next to Helen.

"I invited Nikki over for lunch tomorrow."

"Bit unusual for doctors to be mixing with other types of staff isn't it? You have to be careful who you mix with." he said pulling a face.


"She's a porter."

"So, I'm a doctor and she's a porter. What difference does that make?" Helen didn't like his attitude; he was starting to sound snobby.

"Do you want another drink?" he asked changing the subject, sensing that Helen was about to say something to him.

"Yeah ok, there should be time before we're due at the restaurant."

He got up to get the drinks, and Helen watched him while he stood at the bar. He was normally so nice and down to earth, what the hell was wrong with him? He came back and sat down and smiled at Helen, who despite herself smiled back.

"I'm sorry about before, I came across as awfully snobby didn't I?" he said trying to look ashamed of himself.

"Yes you did."

"It's just that with all this stuff going on at the hospital, you have to be careful."

"I know, but Nikki isn't dangerous."

"Oh and how do you know that?" David asked, as he looked at her questioningly.

"I just do, trust me." Helen downed the rest of her vodka tonic and they stood up to leave.

Dinner went smoothly and even though Helen had witnessed David's snobby attitude earlier on in the night, she had to admit he was very charming and she enjoyed his company. It had been a while since she had gone out with anybody and she was enjoying the feeling of being wined and dined and made to feel special.

The evening came to an end and they went off to Helen's place in a taxi, David had hinted that he would fancy a coffee and Helen gave in and invited him in for one. She went through to the kitchen to put the kettle on and he followed her. She felt his arms wrap around her from behind, and she pushed him away slightly, it was all going far too rapidly for her. She was in the middle of a divorce and didn't want to get attached to somebody else too quickly, she wasn't at all sure that she even wanted to get closer to him. She didn't want to have to give up the newly found independence that she had. Nikki popped in to her mind but she pushed thoughts of her away.

"David, look this is all going a little too fast for me." she said quietly as she looked up at him.

"I'm sorry, you should have said." he took her hand and kissed it.

"Let's just take things slowly eh?"

"If that's what you want then that's ok with me." he said smiling as he let go of her.

David had already had 3 cups of coffee and they had chatted for several hours but it was getting late and Helen was tired. She looked up at the clock and it was 2am, David noticed her looking at the clock and stood up.

"Oh look at the time, I should be off home, it's late." he tucked his chair back in under the table and Helen escorted him to the front door.

"Thank you for tonight, I really enjoyed myself."

"The pleasure was all mine."

"See you at work on Monday then?"

"You most certainly will, I know you wanted to take things slowly but would a kiss be out of the question?" he winked at her.

"I don't think that's too much to ask, providing you behave yourself." she smiled up at him and he moved closer.

He kissed her softly but didn't move to take her in his arms, the kiss was chaste and Helen would have no reason to complain that he wasn't behaving himself. The kiss ended and he pulled away, they said goodnight and Helen watched him walk down the road whistling, it should have set her heart fluttering but it didn't. She liked him but she wasn't sure the relationship would go anywhere. David jumped in to a taxi, he sat there smiling, he was very pleased with himself and before too much longer he hoped Helen wouldn't be able to resist him.

Part 14

Helen was pottering about in the kitchen when Nikki turned up. She opened the door to a grinning Nikki who was holding a couple of carrier bags and a large bunch of flowers.

"Hiya, come in." Helen said smiling as she stepped aside.

"Hiya, these are for you." Nikki held out the dozen red roses and Helen took them from her, briefly smelling them.

"Thank you, they're lovely. I seem to be getting flowers an awful lot lately." Helen said as Nikki followed her through the kitchen.

"Oh?" Nikki said casually as she sat down at the kitchen table and placed her bags nearby on the floor.

"Yeah it's happened a lot over the last few weeks, always the same, a dozen red roses and no card." Helen poured them both a glass of wine and sat down opposite Nikki.

"Strange that." Nikki tried to hide her smile.

"What are you smiling at?" Helen regarded her quizzically.

"Nothing!" Nikki protested rather weakly.

"Doesn't look like nothing from where I'm sitting." Helen narrowed her eyes and looked at Nikki.

"I have to confess, it was me sending them." Nikki grinned wickedly.

"It was you?" Helen sat there amazed.

"Yeah, I started sending them on my second day there, thought it might cheer your miserable arse up, it didn't but I kept sending them anyway cos I got kind of fond of you after a while." Nikki blushed slightly.

"You big daft sod! I was getting worried in case it was a psycho." Helen started laughing.

"Sorry, just wanted to put a smile on your face." Nikki looked sheepish.

"You have done, quite a few times." it was Helen's turn to blush; she hid it by getting up to check on the lunch.

"What's in the bag then?" Helen asked as she shuffled about in the fridge.

"Oh that, it's homework." Nikki said as she lifted her wineglass and took a drink.


"Yeah, I thought I would bring it along with me and we can run through it together. It's basically a few textbooks on killers, that sort of thing."

"Oh really, well I don't claim to know much about them, only that I was attacked by one."

"Oh shit I'm sorry! Jesus, how insensitive of me." Nikki pulled a face and dropped her head onto the table.

"Don't be, just ignore me. I'm far too sarcastic for my own good." Helen patted her on the hand and smiled.

"So how did your date go last night?"

"I enjoyed myself, David is very charming. The meal was lovely and the conversation was good, what more can a girl ask for?" Helen shrugged and smiled. "So what about you and Kerry? Anything going on there?" Helen wasn't sure she wanted to know, it was like a toothache, the more you prodded it the more it ached.

"We like each other, she seems to be a bit more serious than I am, I just kinda want to have fun and take things slowly you know?"

"She's taking things too quickly then?"

"Yes she is, I told her I wanted to take things slowly, she agreed with me but somehow I don't think it's going to be that simple."

"Same thing happened with David, looks like we're in the same boat kiddo." Helen said as she stood up and set about dishing up.

"Yeah looks like it."

Helen served up the lunch and they talked about different things, movies, books, music, places they had been, places they wanted to go. It was very different from the early days of their relationship where they took great pleasure in sniping at each other, now they took great pleasure in talking and it was something they were both surprised about, never believing that they could have become friends.

When lunch was finished they went through to the living room and settled on the couch with their drinks. Helen was eager to get started and see what was in the books.

"So go on then, teach me about serial killers." Helen pointed towards Nikki's carrier bags.

"Are you sure?" Nikki looked doubtful, she realised now it probably wasn't a good idea.

"Of course I am, I was attacked but I got away with a few bumps and scrapes because you saved me. Some women weren't so lucky." Helen's eyes clouded over and she looked sad.

"I know and I'm so glad I was there, I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't been. I just basically wanted to go through this with you and we can bounce ideas off each other." Nikki's voice started to waver, she tried not to get upset and she knew that Helen had noticed.

"Lead on then MacDuff!" Helen quipped and they both giggled. Helen wanted to lighten things up; both she and Nikki were getting a little emotional.

Helen sat next to Nikki and flipped through the text books with her, it all seemed pretty complicated to Helen. Nikki would make the odd comment as she turned the pages and had forgotten that Helen probably would have no idea about what she was going on about.



"English please." Helen grinned wickedly at Nikki, who smiled back remembering the phrase.

"Sorry." she flipped through the book and found the page that she wanted, "I'm by no means an expert myself but I will try and explain it to you."

"I'm all ears."

"Ok here we go, the first thing you should probably know about serial killers, and this is what this guy is now."

"Sorry can I just interrupt for a moment? What classifies him as a serial killer?" Helen asked frowning.

"Three to four victims usually, and he has killed three times already."

"Right, sorry go on."

"Ok first thing you should know about serial killers is that many people believe them to be insane. In fact they are often highly intelligent, rational and calculating. Now, I haven't been able to figure out a motive yet but I can tell you that whatever his motive is, it will be psychological. There is something in him driving him forward to murder these women, and only he knows what it is. His victims may be symbolic in some way."

"Symbolic of what?" Helen was getting very interested in all this.

"Symbolic of something he hates, symbolic of something he worships, who knows? The killer is usually a complete stranger to his victims but if he is working at the hospital, and the clue in his note points us in that direction then it's not unreasonable to assume that he knows many of his victims, by sight at least if not personally. There will be something about them that sets him off, maybe something they've said or done or even just because they are there, as I said I'm not an expert."

"So just saying that this person is a member of staff, would he be able to go about his daily business as if nothing had happened?" the thought terrified Helen.

"Yes, as I said they can be highly intelligent and they can often have successful careers. He would be able to switch off and act normally when he had to. Something else in the book says that they are also fascinated with authority, that they may have attempted to join the police or the army or even worked as a security guard."

"Which means you have to check security just in case?"

"Already been done, clean as a whistle. As for the rest of the staff then they are still going through checks, weeks of backlog means the information isn't coming through as fast as we would like." Nikki took a sip of her drink and turned the page.

"I remember hearing once that these killers can sometimes suffer from mental illnesses or brain injuries, but can appear totally normal."

"Yeah that's true, sometimes after an accident it can bring on schizophrenia and the like, you probably know all about that. They can be charming, polite, impeccably dressed and seem like the perfect picture of normality, but deep down beneath the surface, they're evil."

"The book says that less than 5% of serial killers suffer from mental illnesses but it still happens, do you think that's the case with our killer?"

"I couldn't say, it's likely I suppose but something isn't right in his head if he's out killing women anyway." Nikki stretched her legs and then crossed them.

"It also says serial killers do not know how to show sympathy to people, how do they manage in the medical profession if they can't be sympathetic towards people?" Helen pointed to the page and Nikki quickly read it.

"Oh and no cracks about how I managed perfectly well." Helen smiled at Nikki.

"Would I?" Nikki said laughing, "No seriously, they aren't sympathetic but they are good actors, they will simply pretend but it's all a facade designed to lure people in."

"So going back to the victims, will he have a specific reason for choosing them or is it just because he can?"

"There will be a reason, what that reason is I don't know. They do choose victims weaker than themselves I know that much, maybe he has a thing about hating women, maybe he was humiliated by one or he feels inadequate around them but one thing is for sure, he has impulses that drive him forward and I'm pretty sure he will continue killing until we stop him." Nikki took a deep breath and blew it out.

"Take Jack the Ripper for instance though, he was never caught and he just stopped killing." Helen shifted position to get more comfortable and moved slightly closer to Nikki; just talking about killers chilled her to the bone.

"In his case who knows, it's baffled experts for years and we will probably never know. The general theory is, is that he stopped because he was unable to carry on killing for some reason, that something prevented him from seeking these women out but whatever that reason was remains a mystery." Nikki closed her book and set it down on the coffee table and rubbed her eyes.

"I've been reading this bit on profiling, it says that it's a fallacy that all serial killers are male, just that female serial killers are less well publicised but they do exist, it also goes on to talk about preferences for killing methods. This stuff is bloody confusing." Helen turned the pages and skim read.

"You're telling me! I deal with this kind of thing for a living and I'm no closer to understanding it than you." Nikki rested her head back on the sofa and watched Helen as she read; she was obviously very interested in the subject.

"It also says here that it's a myth that serial killers always have issues with significant female figures, so if it's a myth then why is he killing women?" Helen said confused.

"God knows, it may be a myth but in this case I would say he very definitely had issues of one type or another with women."

"Going on what little you know then, how would you profile him?"

"Well going by the book, which says that the majority of serial killers are usually white males. Usually in their twenties or thirties, and come from lower or middle class backgrounds, I can't really disagree with that because I'm not qualified but judging by what little I saw of him then that seems to fit."

"This stuff just goes on and on, talks about abuse, being adopted, setting fire to things, torture. Talk about bloody complicated, not to mention creepy. I could do with another drink, fancy one?" Helen put the book down, picked up her glass and stood up.

"Yes please." Nikki looked up at the ceiling as Helen disappeared into the kitchen, she was still no closer to figuring out who he was even if now she understood a little better about what might make him tick, she just had to wait and hope they could catch him before he could kill anybody else.

Part 15

The next six weeks passed and there was still no sign of the killer, extra security was in place and you couldn't move without tripping over them. There was no sign of the killer anywhere though Nikki looked frequently, she even went up to the ninth floor periodically to have a look around just in case he had been back there but she knew it was unlikely and in this instance she had been correct.

Nikki despaired of ever finding him and knew that the longer things went on the more difficult he would be to trace. While she was thankful for the fact that there hadn't been any more murders, she also knew there was a possibility that he had moved on and away from the area, perhaps because he had been seen and didn't want to take the risk of being caught. If he was indeed a doctor then there was always the possibility that he was still hanging around because Nikki had not heard of any doctors that had left the hospital but then again it was a big hospital and there were hundreds of doctors working there.

She often had time to think while she was wheeling patients about and it always came down to the same thing, they had no forensic information about the killer because he had been careful and that signified that he had done his homework regarding forensic evidence. She wasn't surprised anyway because she had seen him dressed in surgical attire and knew it was all but impossible that he would leave a trace when dressed like that. The whole thing was a puzzle and it was one she desperately wanted to get to the bottom of. Analysis on the scrubs had only revealed that the blood stained garments matched the victims, it did not give them any leads on the killer.

Nikki had a spare five minutes and stood at reception talking to the receptionist Pamela. They were laughing and joking and Nikki was telling a few more stories, Pamela was leaning on the edge of the desk and lapping it all up.

"You've led a really exciting life by the sounds of it." Pamela said wide eyed after Nikki had told her the last part of one of her tales.

"Depends on what kind of excitement you mean." Nikki winked at her.

"Oooo you're awful." Pamela giggled.

"You're not the first woman to say that, probably wont be the last." Nikki chuckled.

Kerry sidled over, she noticed that Nikki had been chatting away to the receptionist and felt envious that Nikki was talking to another woman. Pamela got back to work and left them to it.

"Hello gorgeous." Kerry said seductively.

"Hiya, what brings you here?"

"I was just admiring the scenery, and believe me it's stunning." Kerry trailed her hand down Nikki's fingers discretely.

"Look Kerry....." Nikki started to speak but was interrupted when she heard footsteps.

"Nikki, have you got a moment?" Helen said from behind her.

"Yeah sure, what's up?" Nikki whirled around giving Helen her full attention which didn't please Kerry.

"When you're ready, can you come to my office? I need a quick word."

"Ok no probs, be right there." Nikki smiled at Helen who smiled back and then walked off.

"What's old stony face want?" Kerry said petulantly.

"I don't know, I haven't spoken to her yet and she isn't that bad once you get to know her, so just lay off eh?" Nikki didn't think Kerry was being fair, in the last couple of months Helen had really changed and was now a lot friendlier with people, which meant they responded better towards her and there weren't many people who disliked her now.

"You better go, before she starts cracking the whip." Kerry said sulkily and marched off.

Nikki stood and shook her head, Kerry could act so childishly at times, she was also getting far too territorial for Nikki's liking as well, she only had to talk to another female and Kerry was behind her. A couple of minutes later she knocked on Helen's door and went in, Helen was sat behind her desk. On seeing Nikki come in, she stood up and walked over to her.

"Thank you for remembering it's my birthday. The flowers were lovely." Helen stood on tiptoe and kissed Nikki on the cheek. Nikki had sent her a huge bouquet of roses.

"My pleasure, happy birthday." Nikki hugged Helen and gave her a peck on the cheek.

"Thanks." Helen was beaming, the only other person who had remembered it was her birthday was her sister, David certainly hadn't.

"Did you get your present?" Nikki asked casually.

"What present?"

"This present." Nikki reached behind Helen's ear and pulled out a box, she handed it to Helen.

"Oh Nikki! It's beautiful." Helen looked closely at the heart shaped pendant that was covered in rubies.

"Here let me put it on for you." Nikki took the necklace and put it round Helen's neck as she held her hair up.

"I don't know what to say, it's gorgeous." Helen was overwhelmed.

"Glad you like it." Nikki was happy that Helen liked her present, she had been worried that maybe her choice wouldn't be to Helen's taste but she needn't have been.

"Oh before I forget, are you going on this works night out at the weekend?"

"I was thinking about it, Kerry mentioned she might be going if she doesn't have to work, are you going?" Nikki said, recalling a previous conversation.

"I was going to, thought I would let my hair down for once, do you fancy it?"

"Now that I know you're going then yes, is David going?"

"No, he's working. That sounds like I only asked you because he isn't going, I didn't mean it to sound like that." Helen frowned.

"Don't worry; I know you didn't mean it like that. That only leaves us with Kerry, I hope by some miracle she has to work." Nikki said as she made her way to the door.

"She still coming on too strong?" Helen smiled.

"Whatever gave you that idea?" Nikki chuckled.

"Oh just the way she looks daggers at any female who gets within twenty feet of you." Helen laughed.

"Not bad! We will make a detective out of you yet." Nikki smiled at Helen, who was shaking her head and laughing, "what are you doing for your birthday?"

"David was supposed to be taking me out tonight, he said we would go for a meal." Helen would have liked to celebrate her birthday with Nikki as well but she had already told David she would go out with him.

"Oh well we can celebrate your birthday at the weekend then."

"That would be great, thanks Nikki. Right, back to work you! See you later." she winked at Nikki.

"Slave driver! See you later Scrooge." Nikki smiled one last time and then closed the door behind her.

Helen settled back down at her desk and carried on with her paperwork, her in tray was overflowing and she was needed in casualty too, some days things just seemed to pile up and there was never enough hours in the day to deal with it all. Sighing, she picked up her pen and got back to work. Life wasn't all bad though, she had a good friend in Nikki and she felt close to someone for the first time in a very long time.

Nikki sat in the canteen with her lunch and was gazing out the window, big dark clouds scudded across the sky and it looked like rain. She was lost in her thoughts when somebody tapped her on the shoulder, and she nearly jumped out of her skin.

"Sorry Nikki didn't mean to scare you." Doctor Barrett smiled down at her.

"That's ok Paul, remind me to return the favour sometime." Nikki smiled back at him, they had got to talking one lunch time and ever since then they had become fairly friendly, Nikki thought he was a nice person.

"No Kerry then? Thought you two came as a pair." he asked as he took a bite of his sandwich.

"Nah we aren't on the same break today." Nikki took a mouthful of coffee and then lit a cigarette; Paul had never asked if they were intimate and she hadn't divulged the details, seeing as how Kerry wasn't out at work.

"You should give those up, they're bad for you."

"Pot calling the kettle black eh? What are you on? 40 a day now isn't it?" Nikki shook her head in mock disgust at him.

"Yeah thereabouts, you know what we doctors are like, always giving advice out but very rarely following it."

"Yeah, you all smoke, drink and eat as if there is no tomorrow."

"Talking about booze, you going on the night out at the weekend?" he finished his sandwich and lit up a cigarette of his own.

"Yes I am, Doctor Stewart is going too, not sure about Kerry though she may have to work."

"Shame, nice to see Doctor Stewart getting out though, she never usually comes to these sorts of things. She's really changed in the past couple of months; it's nice to see her smiling, especially since she was attacked."

"Yeah, have to give her credit, she coped well with it. Right I better be getting back to work, see you later." she stood up and smiled at him.

"Ok, see you later." he smiled back, before putting his cigarette out and lighting another one.

Nikki got back to work and spent the rest of the afternoon zipping from one department to the next, she had the odd word with Helen but every time she did, she felt Kerry's eyes boring into the back of her head. It all got too much and Nikki pulled her to one side.

"What's the matter with you? Every time I so much as look at another woman you come over all heavy." Nikki wasn't happy, she was starting to feel claustrophobic.

"I do not." Kerry replied sulkily.

"You do, and it's got to stop Kerry, we can't carry on like this, it's meant to be fun. We both said we wanted to keep it light it's getting far too serious, you keep getting jealous."

"I'm sorry, I can't help it because I really like you, I promise I will try my best to knock it off ok?" Kerry smiled up at Nikki, she was used to being able to wrap people around her little finger. Nikki however, wasn't that easy to control.

"Yeah ok, so long as you do. Are you working at the weekend?" Nikki knew she shouldn't be hoping she was but she did, she wasn't sure how much longer they would carry on with the relationship because it didn't seem to be working.

"Unfortunately yes, what are you going to do seeing as how I'm stuck here?"

"I'm going out, thought I would see what goes on at these work nights out."

"Oh, I thought you would be staying home this weekend." Kerry didn't look happy.

"Why? Just cos you have to work? It doesn't work like that; I don't stop you going out."

"Suppose Doctor Stewart will be there, is that why you're going? You haven't got a hope in hell of getting into her knickers."

"Oh for god sake grow up! And when you have, maybe then you can start playing with the grownups." Nikki snapped and walked away, Kerry was seriously doing her head in.

Part 16

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