Duty of Care
"Doctor Stewart, would you like to join us?"
"Thanks for the offer Nikki but I was just going home." Helen downed the rest of her drink and then stood up.
"Oh come on, another one for the road won't hurt."
"I'm tired; I've had a long day."
"All you had to do was say, not everybody can hold their drink." Nikki giggled drunkenly.
"I can hold my drink as well as anyone, probably better than most can judging by the state of you." Helen noticed as Nikki swayed slightly in front of her.
"Prove it then, have another drink."
"Oh alright but just one." Helen followed her over to the table and they made room for her to sit down.
The conversation was stilted, nobody felt comfortable in Helen's presence and she was all too aware of it. Nikki could see Vince's tongue was hanging out at Helen, which made a change from it hanging out at Kerry. Nikki figured she should try and get the conversation going a bit, so that she could ease the awkwardness.
"So Doctor Stewart, where did you work before you came here?" Nikki asked before taking a swallow of her drink.
"I worked up in Glasgow." came the short reply.
"I've never been to Scotland, always wanted to, what's it like?" Nikki was trying her best to get things moving along but Helen wasn't co-operating.
"It's nice, Glasgow is a big city and it's busy but the countryside is fantastic." Helen gave another short reply and busied herself with her drink.
"Hey I was thinking, I moved into a new place last week and I haven't had a housewarming. How about you all come to my place next Friday?" Vince asked as he finished off the last of his pint.
Some of them nodded that they would but Helen shook her head.
"Sorry, I won't be able to make it, I'm busy next Friday." she downed the last of her drink and stood up, Nikki followed suit.
"I can't make it either." Kerry said as she watched Nikki closely.
"Oh that's a shame, maybe next time eh girls?" Vince looked disappointed.
"Yes that would be great." Helen replied convincingly but in truth she had no intentions, the way he looked at her made her feel exposed.
"Right I'm off home." Nikki slurred, much to Kerry's disappointment and Helen didn't look too pleased about it either.
They both walked outside, and there was silence between them. Helen didn't feel particularly chatty and Nikki sensed it.
"You getting a taxi?" Nikki asked as she scanned the street looking for one.
"Yes, had too much to drive. You better get one too." Helen said looking at Nikki as if she planned to drive home in the state she was in.
"Of course, I don't drink and drive." Nikki swayed as she stood looking for a sign of a taxi.
"Good." was all Helen said, and then she jumped when Nikki whistled loudly at a taxi coming up the road.
"Here you have this one, I'll get the next." she opened the door of the taxi for Helen.
"Night then Nikki."
"Night Doctor Stewart." Nikki slammed the door and then staggered drunkenly up the road as Helen looked on.
The taxi drove away and as soon as it was out of sight, Nikki stopped swaying and started walking normally. She had drunk enough to sink a battleship but she was used to alcohol and it hadn't affected her in the slightest, but acting drunk had its uses. It had given her the chance to observe quite a few people in the pub and they hadn't been any the wiser. It had also been a good opportunity to watch Helen, it confirmed what she already knew, that Helen wasn't sociable with her staff. She spotted a taxi and whistled for it to stop, getting in, she gave her address and was soon home.
Helen woke up Saturday morning and looked at the clock, it was 11am and she decided it was time to get up. This would be the first weekend off that she had had in ages and she didn't want to waste it but she really didn't know what to do with herself. It was as if she had forgotten how to do anything other than work. She made herself a coffee and then flipped on the news, she sat watching idly and then her ears pricked up when a news flash came up on the screen. She turned up the volume and listened to the newsreader.
"We have some breaking news that's just come in. It has just been reported there has been a murder at Wealdstone general hospital. The victim was said to be in her early twenties but that's all we know at the moment, we will bring you more on this story as soon as we have it."
Helen was shocked beyond belief, she had suspected that this would happen one day as the assaults seemed to be getting worse but still wasn't prepared for it. She quickly picked up her car keys and drove to the hospital. When she got there it was in a state of chaos, she flashed her id to the policeman who was guarding the front entrance and was allowed inside. She saw Nikki standing at reception talking to DCI Jones, she wondered what on earth she was doing there, it was supposed to be her day off.
"Hi, I heard about the murder on the news, they said the victim was a young woman." Helen said quietly.
"Yes she was. Unfortunately she died before she was found." DCI Jones was leaning against the wall.
"What are you doing here? It's supposed to be your day off." Helen was suspicious.
"Overtime, I came in for a few hours; I'm just about at the end of my shift. DCI Jones was just asking me if I had seen anybody." Nikki had in fact seen the news like Helen had and rushed in to talk to her colleagues.
"Bloody awful what's happened isn't it? Wouldn't expect something like that to happen here, even if there is some psycho hanging around." Vince said from behind them.
"Yeah it is awful." Nikki looked at Vince, "Cut yourself shaving this morning then?"
"What? Oh yeah, always in a hurry and always manage to cut myself." he said grinning as he rubbed the cut on his face.
"Any news on who the victim is?" Helen asked ignoring Vince.
"Emma Endicott, nurse, aged 23." he said reading his notebook.
"Did you know her?" Nikki asked looking at Helen.
"No I didn't know her." Helen rubbed her forehead.
"Something else you aren't going to like either, there's been some more drugs stolen." Nikki wondered if Helen was going to lose her cool this time.
"Oh that's just great!" Helen was annoyed, she looked at Nikki, it was funny how the drugs always seemed to go missing whenever she was around.
David Flanagan came rushing up the corridor towards them, he looked flustered.
"Helen are you ok? I was so worried; I heard what happened when I got out of theatre."
"Yes David I'm fine thanks." Helen smiled up at him and Nikki scowled.
"Good, with all these attacks on staff members I was afraid you may be hurt."
"She wasn't even here." Nikki said annoyed at the way he was fawning over Helen, the thoughts of it irritated her for some reason. She couldn't put her finger on it but having thought about it there was something she didn't like about him.
"No I'm fine." Helen replied looking at Nikki, she noticed the sudden change in her demeanour.
"Right I'm off then." Nikki said and walked away.
"Yes I suppose I should be going too, not much I can do here." Helen said goodbye to David and DCI Jones and followed Nikki outside.
"Nikki wait!" she shouted and then ran across the road after her.
"What?" Nikki wasn't in the best of moods, there was now a murderer running around and they were no closer to catching him.
"What was that all about back there?"
"Dunno what you're talking about."
"The way you were looking at me and David, what's going on?"
"Nothing is going on, I wasn't looking like anything."
"You were. Look Nikki he asked me out, I didn't ask him out. We're just friends anyway so if you fancy him then..." Helen was cut off mid sentence by Nikki's choked laughter.
"Oh that's bloody classic! Doctor Stewart, I'm not interested in him and nor will I ever be. I'm a lesbian." Nikki looked amused at the thought that Helen was thinking she was after David Flanagan.
"A lesbian." Helen repeated stupidly.
"Yes a lesbian, you must have come across a few in your time. Probably had one suspended in those big jars of fluid back in medical school." Nikki said sarcastically.
"I hadn't guessed it's just that you don't look the type." Helen looked and felt distinctly uncomfortable, she had just put her foot in it by saying the first thing that came in to her head.
"We don't all shave our heads and wear flannel shirts and dungarees you know." Nikki had caught the look on Helen's face and was annoyed.
"No I didn't mean it like that, I just meant I wouldn't have guessed." Helen tried to explain.
"Doesn't matter, see you." Nikki got in her car and drove off before Helen had the chance to say another word.
"Shit!" she said out loud, she hadn't meant to make Nikki feel bad about it, it had just come as a bit of a surprise.
She had felt uncomfortable because she had just assumed Nikki was straight without thinking about it, she should have known better and was sorry that she had offended her. She had wanted to tell Nikki that it didn't bother her because her own sister was gay, but she hadn't given her the chance. She got in to her own car and went back home to enjoy what was left of the rest of the weekend, promising herself that she would apologise to Nikki first thing on Monday morning when she saw her.
Nikki had driven home feeling pissed off, she didn't usually get worked up about people being surprised that she was gay, it had happened so many times that it was like water off a ducks back now but for some strange reason it got to her that Helen seemed to be shocked about it. As far as Nikki was concerned, the woman was a right royal pain in the arse anyway and this was just one more good reason to stay out of her way.
Monday morning came and the atmosphere in the hospital was somewhat subdued, members of staff tried not to be on their own for any longer than they had to and everybody that came was automatically considered suspicious. Helen shuffled off to her office and got ready to face her shift; she had looked around for Nikki but so far hadn't spotted her. She got caught up in her work as the next few emergencies came in and forgot all about Nikki. She spotted her a while later and decided to go over to explain and apologise to her for saying what she had on Saturday.
"Nikki have you got a moment?"
"Yeah." Nikki said flatly.
"About what I said on Saturday, it all came out wrong. I don't have any problems with you being gay, my sister is gay and it doesn't bother me in the slightest. I really didn't mean it to sound like it did." she smiled a genuine smile.
"Ok apology accepted." Nikki smiled back, noting that it was the first time she had ever seen Helen smile like that, and noticed just how nice her smile actually was.
"So I'm forgiven then?" there was a slight hint of playfulness to Helen's voice and she wondered why she was behaving like that, it was so unlike her.
"Yeah you're forgiven. Actually you should smile like that more often, makes a change from your usual miserable face." Nikki grinned.
"Don't push it Nikki!" Helen tried to scowl but a smile broke through.
"See once you get started it becomes addictive." Nikki giggled.
"Bugger off, you've got work to do." Helen hit Nikki on the shoulder with a patient file.
"Yes sir!" Nikki saluted and marched off.
Helen had mixed feelings, Nikki was the most annoying person she knew but at the same time deep down she couldn't help but like her. She rubbed her up the wrong way with an intensity Helen didn't think possible but there were times when she found herself genuinely liking the woman and she couldn't even begin to understand why.
Nikki thought about Helen as she worked, deep down the woman did have feelings; she wasn't as hard as she made out. That didn't mean to say that Nikki had changed her mind about her, because Helen annoyed her more than anyone ever had but at the same time there was something about her that she genuinely liked. She wondered how long Helen's good mood would last and the expression she had on her face when she came walking towards her, told her that she was already back in her bad books.
"Nikki where the bloody hell have you been?" Helen snapped.
"I was sent upstairs for some files."
"Who sent you?"
"Your registrar, Doctor Whatsisname?"
"Yes that's the bloke; he wanted me to get some files for him."
"Well in future try not to take so long about it, you've been gone ages."
"I'm sorry but they were busy and I had to wait." Nikki was getting irritated all over again, Helen just couldn't help being miserable so it seemed.
"Fine but don't let it happen again because in case you hadn't noticed we are also busy down here. There are a few patients waiting to be moved so can you do that straight away?"
"Sure." Nikki marched off leaving Helen behind her scowling.
"Yes Doctor Barrett?"
"I need your opinion on a case, have you got time?"
"Yes, let me have a look at the patient." she wandered off with Doctor Barrett, still annoyed that Nikki had disappeared while they were busy.
Nikki was annoyed because she had been the one to get into trouble and Helen hadn't said anything at all to Doctor Barrett, she thought it was grossly unfair; she had only been following orders after all. Relations between her and Helen had broken down somewhat after that and neither of them missed an opportunity to snipe at each other given the chance.
The next few weeks were relatively peaceful; there hadn't been any more murders for which they were all thankful. Drugs had gone missing on a couple of occasions and Helen just couldn't figure out who was taking them. She noticed Nikki had a new mobile phone and her mind was processing the BMW and the phone, she was getting her money from somewhere and it wasn't the hospital, she knew porters weren't that well paid.
The voices were getting louder, "do it now, it must be done now." they chanted in his head, he had no choice but to give in. finding his mask, he put it on and went to do what must be done, every time he did it, it would bring him closer to his true love. The shouting got louder and it echoed around his head and made it ache, his heartbeat was racing and they wouldn't listen to him when he told them to be quiet.
"Doctor Stewart, can you take a look at a patient in cubicle 2 please?" one of the nurses asked as Helen passed her.
"Yes, give me a minute though, I'm just nipping off to the bathroom." Helen nodded at the nurse and walked off.
She had been gone a couple minutes when the patient in cubicle 2 started to clutch his chest and struggle for breath, the nurse shot out of the cubicle and bumped into Nikki.
"Go and get Doctor Stewart quickly, she is in the toilet." the nurse gabbled.
Nikki shot off at a run towards the bathrooms. She pushed the door open and was confronted with the sight of a man wearing a mask grappling with somebody. She shouted and tried to drag the man off, and then realised he was trying to attack Helen. She struggled with him but he was too strong, she eventually managed to drag him off but he pushed her against the wall and she lost her footing. He ran off as Nikki struggled to stand up.
"Are you alright?" she asked Helen breathlessly.
"Yes." Helen was in a state of shock.
Nikki took off and went looking for him but he had disappeared, there was no trace of him. She cursed herself for not being able to tackle him and went back to the bathroom to find Helen standing in the corner pale faced and sweating.
"Are you hurt?" Nikki asked putting her hand on Helen's arm and she jumped.
"No I'm fine." Helen left the bathroom in a trance and jumped again when the nurse she had spoken to earlier bumped into her.
"Doctor Stewart, the patient in cubicle 2 has arrested, Doctor Glover is working on him but she needs your help."
"What took you so long anyway?" the nurse asked looking at Nikki.
"I got here to find......" Nikki was cut off by Helen.
"It was my fault, has the patient been moved to resus?" normally Helen would have taken this for granted as it was normal procedure but she wasn't functioning at the moment.
"Yes he has." the nurse looked at Helen wondering what was wrong with her; she then followed her up the corridor.
Nikki trailed behind them, she was worried about the way Helen was behaving, she knew people dealt with shock differently but Helen wasn't reacting at all. She watched as Helen worked on the patient as if nothing was wrong and managed to get him stabilised. She spoke to Doctor Glover and walked towards Nikki, she went to say something but Helen walked straight past her. Nikki went running after her to check that she was ok; she didn't want her to be on her own at a time like this.
"Doctor Stewart, can I have a word?"
"Yes now." Nikki was insistent and taking hold of her arm, she dragged her outside to a wooden bench in the hospital garden. She lit up a cigarette and passed it to Helen, who took it and began to smoke.
"Are you sure you're ok?" Nikki asked doubtfully because it was obvious Helen was far from ok.
"I told you I'm fine."
She watched as Helen shivered involuntarily and she moved closer to her on the bench.
"You don't look fine to me, why don't you let me take you home?"
"I can't go home; I've got work to do."
"I really think you should go home, they must have someone who can cover for you. Stop being so strong for once and let me take care of you."
A lone tear trickled down Helen's face; it was all starting to sink in now that she could so easily have ended up like the poor woman who was killed. She lost control for the first time in a very long time and began to sob. Nikki put her arm around her shoulder and Helen leant against her, she didn't have the energy to pull away, even though she knew she would be embarrassed about losing control later on.
Nikki let her cry, and when she had finished led her back inside so that she could tell the staff she was taking Helen home. She took her to the car and helped Helen in to the passenger seat. Nikki leaned over and put Helen's seatbelt on for her as she continued to stare out of the window in a daze. Nikki then put her own seatbelt on and started the engine, she turned towards Helen.
"Yes?" Helen looked at her with tearful red rimmed eyes.
"Have you got anybody at home?"
"No, my husband doesn't live with me anymore, we're getting divorced." Helen looked away.
"How about you come to my place for tonight? Just so you don't have to be on your own." Nikki wouldn't have contemplated inviting the normal Helen to her home but seeing that she was so upset, she didn't even have to think about it.
"Ok, thanks." Helen replied, she didn't feel comfortable around Nikki usually but this time she was willing to go home with her, she didn't want to be alone.
Nikki drove to her dockside apartment and Helen followed her quietly up the stairs to her front door. She unlocked it and ushered Helen inside. She sat her on the sofa and then handed her a drink. Helen accepted it gratefully and sat there sipping it in silence. She looked around and took in the interior of the apartment, it was expensively furnished and the mortgage couldn't have been cheap. Was stealing drugs how Nikki managed to pay for all this? She intended to find out.
"I'm just going to ask you straight out..." Helen was interrupted by Nikki before she could get the rest of her sentence out.
"Oh Doctor Stewart I didn't know you cared! Where do you fancy for a first date then?" Nikki said grinning.
"Shut up." Helen said smiling faintly; Nikki was making her feel slightly better.
"Go on spit it out, what were you going to ask me?" Nikki could tell Helen had something on her mind.
"Have you been taking those drugs? Quite frankly, you don't exactly look poor, the car, and this place. A porter couldn't afford all this." Helen waited for Nikki to go through the roof.
"No I haven't, honestly. How long have you been thinking I stole the drugs?"
"I've wondered since it first happened, I'm not trying to accuse you, I'm just asking."
"For your information, I didn't steal those drugs. I can afford this place and my car because my grandparents left me some money when they died." Nikki was telling the truth, the apartment and the car had all been paid for with her inheritance.
"I'm sorry." Helen felt guilty that she had even thought Nikki was responsible, she had judged her automatically without giving it a second thought.
"No big deal. What about you, are you taking the drugs?"
"Don't get out your pram, I was just asking, you just asked me the same thing remember?"
"Sorry." Helen dropped her head feeling ashamed.
"Stop saying sorry it's ok. So neither of us is taking the drugs, wonder who is?"
"I have no idea, same as I have no idea which sick bastard it was that attacked me today."
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have let him get away, it shouldn't have happened because I know better." Nikki realised she had said too much.
"It wasn't your fault, and anyway why should you know better?"
"Oh no reason, are you hungry?" Nikki wasn't about to let it slip she was an undercover copper.
"I'll phone us a takeaway." Nikki walked into the kitchen, found a menu and then got on the phone.
Helen wondered what Nikki had meant by her comment, she got the feeling there was something going on. Nikki said she hadn't taken the drugs, but was she telling her the truth? Yes, she seemed sincere enough, so why was something still bugging her?
Dinner passed almost in silence except for the odd comment or two on the food. Afterwards they sat in front of the TV watching a film, glad for the distraction because neither of them knew what to say to each other. Helen seemed to be back to her normal distant self and Nikki was uncharacteristically quiet in Helen's opinion.
"Fancy a cuppa before bed?" Nikki asked as she stood up.
"Yes please." Helen smiled her thanks and turned her attention back to the TV once Nikki had left the room.
Five minutes later she was back and handed Helen's cup to her.
"I will take you home in the morning and then you can have a quiet few days off."
"No I'm going back to work tomorrow."
"You can't seriously be thinking of going back to work, not after what happened today." Nikki was horrified that she wasn't going to give herself time to come to terms with it.
"I am, there is nothing wrong with me, I'm fine."
"Back to normal then, wondered when the tin man was going to put in an appearance." Nikki shook her head and lit up a cigarette.
"What's it got to do with you anyway?" Helen said tetchily.
"Strangely enough and don't ask me why, I happen to feel concerned about you. Must have been kidnapped by bloody aliens and fitted with a brain altering chip or something." Nikki took a drag of her cigarette and blew the smoke out feeling irritated by Helen once more.
"Why do we rub each other up the wrong way so much?" Helen asked quietly.
"Dunno, must be love." Nikki said smirking.
"Possible." Helen said laughing.
"Oh behave, if I thought that I would go and slit my wrists."
"Oh I see I'm not good enough for you? Maybe the receptionist is more your type, go for Barbie doll types then do you?" Helen said amused.
"Not usually no, I don't go for grumpy doctors who permanently have their knickers in a twist either." Nikki said with a grin, "you're always so crabby, why aren't you like this more often?"
"My knickers are always in a twist, cuts off my circulation." Helen joked.
"You're really very nice when you drop the bitchy act." Nikki leant back on the couch and crossed her legs.
"I am not bitchy!" Helen looked at Nikki as her eyebrows shot up. "Ok I can be bitchy but I'm not always like that."
"So why aren't you friendlier with people then?"
"Can't we talk about something else?" Helen was getting uncomfortable, she didn't like being psychoanalysed.
"Ok don't get so defensive. You aren't seriously going back to work though?"
"Yes I have to, the department is understaffed. I can't just take time off whenever I feel like it." Helen took another mouthful of her drink and glanced at the TV.
"You were attacked for goodness sake, it's not like you are trying to swing a sickie! Everybody would understand, there have already been a few assaults and a murder, and I think you should stay off for a few days. Try thinking about your own needs for once."
"Maybe you are right; I should probably take a few days off."
"I know I'm right. Come on time for bed, you look knackered, I can lend you something to sleep in."
Nikki showed Helen to her room and gave her some shorts and a t-shirt to sleep in and then closed the door behind her going to her own room. After seeing the way Helen was today, it had given her an insight in to her personality. She appeared strong and cool on the outside but was really just as vulnerable as everybody else. She really liked her when she was being nice and normal, and was surprised that she could be such a pleasant person but when she was being distant towards people, Nikki found that she really didn't like that side of her at all.
Nikki settled down and soon drifted off to sleep, she was jolted awake sometime later by the sound of Helen crying out. She got out of bed and quickly rushed in to the spare room to see if she was ok, she found her thrashing about in her sleep.
"Helen, Helen wake up." she shook Helen gently and she shot up in bed.
"Oh Jesus." Helen said as she wiped the sweat from her forehead.
"Very, I can still see him coming after me, oh god those poor women. I know just how they feel." Helen started to cry softly, and Nikki pulled her close.
"Shhh I know it's horrible, but it's ok you are safe now." Nikki gently rocked Helen back and forth.
"I really can't say thank you enough for what you've done for me today." Helen's voice drifted up from Nikki's shoulder where her head was resting.
"It was my pleasure; anybody else would have done the same."
"Not everybody Nikki, not everyone is like you."
"Oh? And what am I like then?"
"You help people without a second thought, most people wouldn't bother going out of their way to help but you have."
"I've always been the same, it's second nature to me I suppose. Besides, I figured if I helped you then I can feel smug about it when you're being grumpy with me." Nikki chuckled softly and felt Helen shake as she giggled.
"I can see I'm going to have to be careful, every time I get moody you'll remind me of tonight."
"I might remind the whole department while I'm at it, say something like, Doctor Stewart you weren't nearly as grumpy the other night when we were in bed." Nikki couldn't help but laugh.
"You wouldn't dare!" Helen sat bolt upright and looked at Nikki smiling.
"Wanna bet? However, if you behave then I can easily keep quiet."
"That's blackmail you little sod!" Helen was laughing now and she felt a hundred times better.
"It is indeedy! How do you feel now?"
"I feel much better thanks to you, you can go back to bed now, I've kept you awake long enough."
"Are you sure?"
"Absolutely, thanks Nikki."
"You're welcome. Night."
"Night." Helen snuggled back down, and Nikki closed the door quietly behind her before jumping back in to her own bed.
She thought about Helen for a while and then eventually drifted off to sleep. Helen lay in bed but unlike Nikki was unable to drift off, the images still rattled around inside of her head making it all but impossible to think of anything else. She tossed and turned for an hour and then she couldn't stand it any longer and had to get up despite the feeling of tiredness that pervaded her body. She made herself a coffee and then settled down on the sofa in front of the TV, being careful not to wake Nikki.
Nikki blinked and then sat up; she looked at her watch and saw that it was a little after 9am. She swung her legs over the side of the bed and then stood up and stretched. Ruffling her hair and yawning she walked down the hall to the kitchen and saw Helen standing staring out of the window.
"Morning." she said brightly as Helen jumped.
"Oh morning Nikki." Helen seemed to shake herself and then turned around to face Nikki.
"You look knackered." Nikki said as she searched the fridge.
"I didn't get much sleep, I was up mostly all night." Helen rubbed her eyes and the tiredness was evident in her face, she sat down at the table.
"You should have come and got me, you didn't have to sit up all night on your own." the concern in Nikki's voice surprised Helen.
"No that's ok, no reason for the both of us to stay up, you did enough for me last night anyway." Helen smiled and turned her attention back to her hands resting on the table top.
"You don't have to if you don't like the idea but you are more than welcome to stay here for a few days, just until you feel better." Nikki sat down to face Helen.
"I don't want to intrude Nikki, and besides you and I don't get on all that well do we?" she said with a faint trace of a smile on her lips.
"Oh I don't know we haven't done so badly in the last few hours. You wouldn't be intruding in any case, I'm perfectly happy to have you stay." Nikki meant it, she had seen a vulnerable side to Helen just recently and felt an all consuming need to help, much more than she had ever wanted to help anybody else.
"Ok I will stay, thank you very much for the offer, but at the first sign of us getting on each others nerves then I'll be off home ok?" Helen said smiling.
"No worries, besides the minute you start to get on my nerves, I'll you call you a taxi." Nikki started giggling and Helen stuck her tongue out at her.
The next few days passed peacefully and both Helen and Nikki behaved themselves, they tried hard not to wind each other up and it paid off. Helen proved to be an entertaining houseguest much to Nikki's surprise. And Nikki was the perfect host in Helen's opinion. They were now friendlier than ever and the time spent together had done them both good. On the Monday afternoon while Nikki was at work, Helen was sat watching TV when the telephone rang.
"Hello, Wade residence." she said into the phone.
"Hi, is Nikki there please? I tried her mobile and it's off." the male voice said on the other end of the phone.
"I'm sorry she isn't here at the moment, she is at work, can I take a message?"
"Yes you can, could you please tell her to call DCI Jones as soon as she can please?"
"Yes of course, I will tell her as soon as she gets in." Helen put the phone down and sat thinking, puzzled by the message. Why on earth would Nikki have to call DCI Jones?
Nikki was on her break that afternoon and decided to call the station, she spoke to DCI Jones and made arrangements to see him that night, to talk over the situation at the hospital. She made her way home after her shift to find a quiet Helen in the kitchen preparing dinner.
"Hiya how was your day?" Helen asked as she stirred the contents of a saucepan.
"Same as usual, loads of screaming doctors and patients." Nikki smiled and popped open a can of coke.
"You had a message today while you were at work." Helen said casually.
"Oh yeah, what did they want?"
"Some bloke, didn't say who he was, wanted you to call a Mr. Jones I think it was." Helen conveniently left the 'DCI' out.
"Oh yeah right, thanks for that." Nikki said smiling and then disappeared into the shower. She came back twenty minutes later and she sat down to have dinner with Helen.
"How was your day then?"
"I spent the day sampling the delights that mid-morning television has to offer, then all afternoon doing the same thing. Jesus, television used to be more entertaining than that."
"There's something we agree on, used to have some really good TV shows on, now it's all mostly that reality TV crap and it drives me nuts."
"Some of it's ok but the majority is drivel. Do you know I spent an hour last night watching a TV programme about sleep deprivation? Bunch of people volunteered to be kept awake for an entire week or something. The things people do just to get on TV."
"I've seen that, could never do that myself, I love my bed too much."
"I've done it all before, it's called being a doctor." Helen joked.
"My god! She cracks jokes as well." Nikki grinned as Helen stuck her tongue out at her.
"Told you I wasn't always miserable."
"I'm beginning to believe you."
After dinner Nikki made an excuse she was going to visit a friend and left the apartment. Helen quickly followed behind, for some reason she didn't believe her and she wanted to know where Nikki was going. When Nikki turned in to the police station, Helen recalled the message she had taken for Nikki and became even more curious. She stayed a discrete distance behind but it didn't matter anyway, Nikki was fully aware Helen was following her. She switched her engine off and went in for her meeting; she came out again an hour later, only to be faced with Helen who was leaning against Nikki's car.
"Fancy seeing you here." Nikki smiled at Helen who wore a neutral expression.
"I could say the same thing about you."
"Sorry I kept you waiting so long."
"You knew I was following you?" Helen looked surprised; she figured she had stayed far enough behind not to be noticed.
"Yes and before I explain how I knew, there are lots of things we need to talk about. Follow me home and then I can explain." Nikki got into her car and Helen followed her back to the apartment.
Nikki threw her keys on the kitchen counter, flicking the kettle on she spooned coffee in to a couple of mugs. Helen sat down at the table and waited for Nikki to begin. Nikki was trying to put off the conversation for as long as she could, it didn't bother her that she was about to tell Helen the truth, more a case of that she felt responsible for the attack on Helen, she felt guilty that she hadn't been able to catch the killer before it got that far. She placed both mugs down on the table and lit a cigarette; she offered one to Helen and then took a deep breath.
"I'm not who you think I am, well I am but I'm not what you think I am." Nikki spoke awkwardly; it was all coming out wrong.
"Tell me what's going on. Nikki is your name isn't it?" Helen asked as an afterthought.
"Yes, Nikki Wade is my real name. I'm just not a porter that's all." Nikki hesitated, she knew it was silly trying to put the whole thing off any longer but her guilt was eating away at her.
"Ok so you aren't a porter, tell me who you really are." Helen said quietly.
"There is no easy way to say this but I'm an undercover copper, I'm working at the hospital to try and catch the bastard who assaulted you." Nikki stood up and faced the kitchen window; she didn't want to see the look in Helen's eyes when the information sunk in.
"It's starting to make sense now, there was something about you that I couldn't put my finger on." Helen said looking at the back of Nikki's head.
"Sure that's not just cos I'm totally amazing?" Nikki laughed humourlessly; Helen stood up and went to her.
"I won't tell anybody if that's what you're worried about." Helen went to reach out and touch Nikki but thought better of it and took her hand away.
"No that's not what I'm worried about."
"So then what's the matter?"
"Why aren't you angry with me?" Nikki whipped around to face Helen.
"Why would I be angry with you? You were working undercover and I'm not supposed to know, I can't get angry with you for that." Helen looked straight in to Nikki's eyes.
"I'm supposed to catch the sick bastard who hurt you and all those other women and I can't catch him Helen, I should never have let him get anywhere near you and it's all my fault." Nikki looked down at the floor and felt tears threatening but she was determined to hold them back.
"Oh Nikki." Helen said softly and reached out for her without even thinking about it, she drew Nikki into her arms and held on to her tightly.
"Did you really think I was going to blame you?" Helen said softly as she rubbed Nikki's back.
"I wouldn't blame you if you did, I've been there weeks and I can't find him, it's like he doesn't exist." Nikki straightened up and moved from Helen's embrace, she felt bad about it; she should be the one to comfort Helen not the other way around. Helen missed the contact immediately without realising why.
"It's not your fault; you've done your best. It can't be easy having to hold down a full time job as a porter and keep watching everybody. Nikki I don't blame you for what happened at all. I know I can be a moody bitch but I'm not that bad." Helen smiled softly at Nikki, who managed a small smile in return.
They were interrupted as the phone rang and Nikki went to answer it, it was Kerry and she had no idea how she had gotten hold of her number. She wanted to know if Nikki fancied going out with her at the weekend, she said she would think about it and get back to her, Kerry presented a distraction she didn't need at the moment. She went to sit on the sofa and Helen followed her, handing her a glass of wine.
The room was cold and the tap dripped perpetually, the voices were getting worse, one death was no longer enough for them. He had to kill again, there was just no choice, his special one was slipping further away and it was getting harder and harder to ignore the feelings of need deep within his soul. Tomorrow, he would hunt high and low for the perfect person, once she was in his grasp the voices would get what they wanted. Maybe then he would get what he wanted too, he had been promised that this would be the last one.
It was Helen's first day back at work after the assault, she couldn't sit around Nikki's flat any longer, the walls were closing in on her and she needed something to occupy her mind. She had enjoyed the time spent at Nikki's and she dreaded the thought of having to go back to an empty house. She felt a lot safer knowing that Nikki was hanging around and keeping an eye out for any suspicious people hanging around, although this guy seemed to be invisible and she began to think that he would never be caught. She tried to go about her daily routine as if nothing was wrong.
Nikki stepped into casualty that morning and was collared by Kerry as soon as she walked in.
"Hi Nikki, thought anymore about the weekend yet?" she asked with a hopeful smile, it was obvious to Nikki she was getting the come on.
"Yeah, ok why not." Nikki said smiling, Kerry was an attractive woman and it wouldn't hurt, maybe a distraction was what she needed after all.
"Great! How about we take a drive out into the country and go for a picnic?"
"Sounds good, say 10 on Saturday morning then?"
"Yeah, meet me outside the dog and gun. I'll be waiting." she said seductively before she walked off leaving Nikki standing there with a grin on her face.
Nikki felt a tap on her shoulder and turned around to face Helen.
"What you looking so happy about?" Helen raised an eyebrow questioningly.
"I've got a date."
"Oh anyone I know?"
"Yep Kerry, we are going for a picnic on Saturday."
"Have fun won't you." Helen said before walking off, she didn't like the thought of Nikki going anywhere with Kerry but chose not to think about the reason why.
Nikki watched Helen walk off and wondered what was wrong with her. "Looks like Ms Moody is back again." Nikki thought before going off to start work.
He waited in the shadows looking for the right one, the moment she walked past he knew. The feeling of excitement started to bubble deep down inside him and his breathing quickened, this was it, she was the perfect one to bring all this full circle and then he could have his perfect one. He stepped in to the toilets after her, making sure he wasn't noticed. He burst into the cubicle behind her with a force which startled the woman on the other side. He had forgotten to put his mask on and her eyes went wide when she realised who he was, but unfortunately, she would not live to reveal his identity.
Nikki heard the screams and went running in the direction they were coming from, she found herself in the toilets faced with a hysterical woman, who had just found the body of the latest victim. Nikki couldn't even bring herself to look; she took the woman outside and tried to calm her down. It wasn't long before word got around and Helen soon turned up, after telling security to call the police. The woman was taken off by a couple of nurses to be looked after until the police arrived.
"Are you ok?" Helen asked noticing Nikki was looking pale.
"Fuck! It's happened again, this is all my fault." Nikki started to pace.
"Just calm down, it won't do any good getting agitated. Do you know who the victim is?" Helen asked calmly although her heart was racing, images of her own attack came rushing to the surface.
"No I couldn't even look, there was blood everywhere. Look Helen you shouldn't even be here, it's going to bring all kinds of things flooding back." Nikki stopped, and looked straight at her.
"I'm ok Nikki, don't worry about me. Somebody will have to try and identify the body and as head of the department then it should be me."
"But Helen...." Nikki was interrupted when DCI Jones came flying up the corridor looking solemn.
"Let's get this over with." he said as he stepped inside, with Nikki and Helen following.
The victim lay prostrate on the floor, there was a great deal of blood, and the face was unrecognisable. There was a nametag on the front of the nurse's uniform, and DCI Jones bent over to inspect it. It read 'Lucy Matthews' at this a sob escaped Helen's throat and she had to leave the room. Nikki knew exactly why, it was the student nurse that Helen had to speak to about getting upset about the death of a patient.
She went running after Helen but couldn't find her anywhere, she looked around the department and in her office but she was nowhere to be found. Nikki spotted Vince in reception and asked him if he had seen Helen.
"No ain't seen her anywhere Nikki, you tried her office?"
"Yeah I've already tried there, is there anywhere she would go?" Nikki asked and then noticed something strange; Vince had blood on his collar.
"Er not sure, I don't know her that well really." he said as he rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
"Where did that blood come from?" Nikki asked pointing to his shirt.
"What? Oh musta been from one of the patients, I should go and change it." he grinned and then walked off.
Nikki ran to find DCI Jones and told him about Vince's shirt, he took off at a run to catch up with the porter while Nikki went off to find Helen. She checked everywhere but there was no sign of her, there was one last place she could check, the roof. She climbed up the stairs and opened the door to the roof; sure enough Helen was standing leaning against the ledge.
"Don't worry, I'm not going to jump." Helen's voice was flat and emotionless.
"I know how you must be feeling, but you can't blame yourself Helen, it's not your fault."
"I was so horrible to her, she didn't deserve it. Oh god, now she's dead and I can't put it right; I can't say I'm sorry. You were right, I don't have a heart." the tears slowly trickled down Helen's face.
"Don't say that, it's not true." Nikki pulled Helen into a hug and whispered into her hair as she held her.
"It is true, I can't say anything nice to anybody, they all hate me and I don't blame them one little bit."
"They don't all hate you and even if they do then bollocks to them. I've seen a side of you not many other people have Helen and you're a wonderful person."
"I'm a total fucking nightmare you mean." Helen wasn't trying to be funny; she looked up surprised when Nikki chuckled softly.
"Correction, you were a fucking nightmare. You are a funny, warm, kind, and caring person deep down, but you don't always show it. If somebody took the time to climb over that brick wall you're hiding behind then they would find that out, they would also find they had a friend for life."
"Just like you did, nobody else has ever bothered."
"You should know by now I'm nothing if not persistent." Nikki smiled.
"I don't know why you put up with me."
"Simple, I like you. I like the real you, not the person you pretend to be at work. The real Helen Stewart is hiding in there somewhere and she sometimes needs a little persuading to show herself." Nikki put her hand on the back of Helen's head and smoothed her hair down.
"Thank you, for everything, and for not giving up on me."
"You're very welcome. Come on lets get back inside, I'll buy you a coffee." she looped Helen's arm through her own as they made their way back inside.
Vince had been taken down the station for questioning, his shirt had been taken and bagged for testing and they had found a scratch on his neck. He was asked where the scratch had come from and he couldn't tell them how he had gotten it. They questioned him at length about the murders but he was adamant he didn't have anything to do with it. They questioned him over and over but he didn't once waver from his story and it was increasingly looking like they would have to rely solely on the physical evidence. He was taken to a cell while they awaited the test results, and the pathologist's preliminary report.
When forensics got back to them, they were told that the blood was Vince's without question, it looked like the blood from the scratch had dripped on to his shirt and they were still very interested as to how he had gotten it. They questioned him once again about the scratch but were unable to find anything out. When the post mortem report came in, there was nothing to identify Vince as the killer; the victim's fingernails were clean. It meant she either hadn't scratched her attacker, which the police thought unlikely or that the killer had time to clean under her nails. If that was the case then it surprised them that in a busy hospital such as Wealdstone, the killer had time to clean away any traces from the nails without being stumbled upon. They only had 12 hours of the 24 hour time period left in which they either had to charge him or let him go, with very little evidence forthcoming from either the crime scene or the body; they had no choice but to release him.
After the latest murder Helen was withdrawn, she still felt a sense of guilt over the student nurse's death, because she had been tactless with her over getting emotional at work. She was also still having trouble sleeping, she could so easily have been killed herself if Nikki hadn't showed up looking for her and she was finding it hard to deal with. An overwhelming sense of loneliness crept over her, there was nobody she could tell, nobody she could talk to although Nikki had told her many times she was there if Helen needed her. She didn't want to blab to Nikki about her problems and her fears, that wasn't the way Helen Stewart was, and despite knowing it was no good to keep it all bottled up, it was precisely what she did anyway.
Nikki had seen the way Helen was withdrawing and tried to talk to her several times but met with a brick wall, she had thrown the barriers back up and Nikki couldn't even get near. Nikki reassured her gently but didn't push, Helen would talk to her eventually if she needed to, at least she hoped she would.
Security at the hospital was at a maximum and even members of staff found it difficult to move from department to department without getting stopped and having their id checked. Vince had been released and had gone back to work but Nikki kept a close eye on him, she didn't like the look of him and knew that if he was the one attacking the woman then he only had to step out of line once and she would have him. She often followed him around if she had the time but it was a busy place to work and it wasn't always possible.
Helen was sat at her desk enjoying a rare quiet moment and used the chance to catch up on some paperwork. She had dealt with several phone calls and was steadily working her way through the stack of files on her desk. There was a knock at the door and she threw her pen down, knowing her peace had come to an end.
"Come in." she said wearily.
"Hi Helen, it's only me. I wondered if you fancied going out for that meal on Saturday?" David Flanagan stood before her smiling.
"Yes I would like that; I'm free on Saturday so it shouldn't be a problem."
"How about we meet up in the dog and gun at 7 then and have a couple of drinks before we move on to the restaurant?"
"Dog and gun it is then, see you Saturday." she said smiling as he left, as hard as she tried, she just couldn't feel as enthusiastic as she sounded.
She went down to the department a short while later and found Nikki leaning against the reception desk talking to Kerry, it irritated her to see them in deep conversation. She wondered if she was feeling jealous but quickly dismissed the idea.
"Have you two not got anything to do?" Helen said frostily looking at them both.
"Er I better get back Nikki, see you later." Kerry scurried off towards the cubicles and Nikki looked up at Helen.
"What's the matter with you?" she said looking at her puzzled.
"This place is busy; you haven't got time to stand around chatting women up."
"Oh don't start that again! I was just talking to her; we both had five minutes free, what's gotten up your nose all of a sudden? Pmt back?" Nikki replied sarcastically, she knew she shouldn't but Helen really wound her up.
"Nothing has gotten up my nose! Didn't take long for the wisecracks to start again did it?" Helen was glaring up at her.
"Didn't take long for you to come over all frosty again either, one minute you're ok and the next you come over all bitchy again." Nikki was getting pissed off with Helen's behaviour.
"If you don't like it then don't fucking talk to me!" Helen exploded and then walked off, leaving Nikki gaping at her.
Nikki was surprised; it was the first time Helen had really lost her temper with her. Most of the time she did it in a controlled and quiet way but just now she had shouted, and it was quite startling to see the cool calm exterior slip. Nikki knew something was bothering Helen and quite frankly she intended to find out what it was. She went off in the general direction of where Helen had disappeared, and found herself at the door to the back of the hospital. She looked through the window and saw Helen sitting out there smoking a cigarette. Sighing, she opened the door and prepared to talk to her.
Helen watched as the door to the morgue opened and a body was wheeled out, she involuntarily shuddered, she was used to working around death but these days it had taken on a whole different meaning to her. She caught something out of the corner of her eye, and looked up towards the fire escape. She saw a man wearing operating theatre clothes and thought nothing of it, assuming it was a surgeon she carried on smoking.
"Are you going to tell me what's going on or what?" Nikki said as she came to a stop in front of Helen.
Helen looked up at Nikki and then her expression changed, from one of annoyance to fear. She quickly stood up and looked back up towards the fire escape; the man was leaning over the rail and waving at her.
"That a friend of yours?" Nikki asked looking back at Helen.
"Oh Jesus! That's him Nikki, that's the guy who attacked me." Helen said breathlessly.
"Fuck! Are you sure?" Nikki looked up again and saw the man disappearing through a door on the ninth floor.
"Of course I'm sure!" Helen said charging off after him with Nikki following.
They ran up the steps as fast as they could, and flung the door open on the ninth floor. The corridor was dark and gloomy and dust hung about in the air, it glinted from where the sunshine caught as it flowed in through the grimy windows. There was a door at either end of the corridor, and Nikki wasn't sure which way to go until she saw a door that was still swinging slightly. On seeing this she took off in that direction, she came to a halt outside the door and looked in through the dusty half moon window.
"What is this place?" she turned around to talk to Helen.
"It looks like it used to be a ward, it was already closed before I moved down here from Glasgow so I can't be sure." Helen said peering over Nikki's shoulder, she saw old disused hospital beds and equipment that had been left laying about.
They both caught a shadowy movement at the end of the room and Nikki hesitantly pushed the door open. Helen followed her in, and involuntarily gripped the back of her shirt. They moved forward quietly, trying to avoid knocking in to any of the equipment that lay scattered about on the floor. They heard a creaking noise further up and Helen's heart was hammering so loud it was a wonder the whole hospital couldn't hear it. They made it to the end of the ward, and Nikki spotted something in the corner.
She walked over with Helen shuffling slowly behind her. Nikki bent over to take a closer look and saw a big pile of bloody scrubs piled on top of each other.
"Helen, can I have a couple of pens please?" Nikki asked turning around to Helen, who fumbled in the breast pocket of her white coat for pens.
She handed them over and then Nikki bent down to rifle in the pile of bloodied garments. Picking up a pair of trousers that were heavily stained with blood, Nikki examined them closely; there was no doubt in her mind that the blood was recent. She was about to put the trousers back when Helen let out an ear piercing scream.
"Helen, what's the matter?" Nikki said as she whipped around, not knowing what the hell was going on.
"Nikki get it off me!" Helen screamed she was rooted to the spot as the largest rat she had ever seen was crawling over her feet.
Nikki picked up an old blanket and grabbed the rat; she flung the bundle on to a pile of old bed sheets.
"Thank you, god I hate rats!" Helen said looking disgusted.
"That was no rat; it was a fucking Jack Russell!" Nikki exclaimed on seeing the size of the rat which in her opinion was big enough to saddle up and ride.
"What do we do now?" Helen whispered.
"I think we should get out of here, this place is too big for us to search on our own and besides it's too dangerous with him hanging about." Nikki said as she started back off down the ward towards the door.
"I won't disagree with you there, this place is giving me the bloody creeps." Helen shuddered as she followed Nikki.
They went back out of door and down the corridor towards the fire escape. There was a note stuck to the door, Nikki bent closer to read it.
No matter how hard you try
I'm faster than the eye
No matter how fast you go
You're always too slow
You seek me here, you seek me there
Clever girls! But let's make it fair
You see me often
But see me where?
Day to day
I'm always there
Life and death is what we do
Caught on yet with this clue?
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