DISCLAIMER: The characters and universe all belong to Shed Productions. The actual arrangement of words herein is mine, however (but, I openly invite the aforementioned corporate entity to steal at will, and gladly surrender all rights to their tender loving care). I'm not worth much (...I mean FINANCIALLY) so suing would be, well, pointless.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Firstly I'd like to say thanks to Julie for beta reading this and putting it up on her sight. Secondly, this is my first fanfic so any feedback - good or bad - would be great. Lastly, enjoy
"Nikki! When did you get back?" Helen asked trying to make it sound like nothing was wrong.
"Answer my question. What the hell are you doing in my office reading through my private files?" Nikki ground out, her temper at boiling point.
"I...I was just looking for a file." Helen replied. Nikki seemed to be in a funny mood and she didn't want to annoy her anymore by telling her that why she was looking through her study.
"And you just had to look through my finance files to do that?"
"They don't have labels on the front." Helen stated knowing it sounded a weak excuse.
"Right." Nikki said sounding sceptical. "And there is no way you could have just waited until I was home to ask me?"
"Hang on a minute. What exactly am I being accused of?" Helen asked the tone of Nikki's voice was starting to annoy Helen and her anger was rising against her better judgement.
"You tell me. I get home early to find you sneaking through my finances."
"You...you think I was seeing how much money you had? Oh give me a break, I didn't think you believed all that crap Trisha was sprouting." Helen knew she should be calm but when it seemed that Nikki believed Trisha over her she snapped.
"What am I meant to think? Would I have caught you if I'd have been home on time?" Nikki asked crossing her arms in an unconscious gesture.
"I told you I wasn't looking for your finances, I was looking for another file."
"And I'm meant to believe that?"
"Believe what you want, it obviously isn't going to matter what I say." Helen replied in a quiet voice before she stormed out of the study and into the room that had previously been hers but was now a spare room..
She stayed on her bed with her arms wrapped around herself in the faecal position. Why did things always turn so bad when it was going so well between them? She heard Nikki slamming around in the front room before the front door slammed. She buried her head in her pillow and cried.
Three hours later Nikki was still sat at the bar of the pub she always went to when she had problems. After 3 beers and 6 shots of Vodka she was drunk and feeling sorry for herself.
"Why can't I find someone who wants me for who I am?" She asked Lisa, the tall, raven haired woman behind the bar who acted as Nikki's agony aunt.
"Girl, I gave you my number more than once, maybe if you'd have called me you wouldn't be back here." Seeing Nikki pout that little bit more at the joke the other woman sighed. "From what I've heard you need to talk to this Helen woman. You ain't gonna be happy until you find out one way or another what she was doing. I've been your shoulder to cry on for years Nik and I've never seen you like this before, even with Trisha. Helen must mean a lot to you so you need to sort it out for yourself if not for her." Lisa said laying a comforting hand over Nikki's.
"I will do." Nikki promised nodding furiously. "I'll just have another drink first."
"Nikki you've had enough already. Go home and sort your life out."
"I just want another drink." Nikki stated nearly knocking her chair over as she stood up and staggered with the effect of the drink.
"I'm not going to serve you." Lisa said with finality.
"Fine! I'll take my business elsewhere. There are loads of places that will be happy for my custom." With this Nikki turned her back on her friend and stalked towards the door.
"Nikki...think about it. As soon as you walk into another bar in this state they are going to be onto the press. You'll be all over tomorrow's front page and with the mood your in now you are probably going to do something stupid." Lisa tried to reason. She knew she was getting through to Nikki when she paused. "Let me call you a cab to get you home, please."
Looking at the floor Nikki nodded. Lisa ran off immediately before Nikki could change her mind. When she returned, however, she was gone.
Nikki staggered into another bar. Luckily she her fame didn't come from being in movies so she didn't have her face on big cinema posters, this meant that she wasn't recognised as much as people like Williams and Trisha, and thankfully she could normally walk the streets in peace. The main problem came when people concentrated on her which unfortunately usually happened in a bar. She tried to act sober, she entered and approached the bar.
As she sat down she noticed the Barman nod to her before doing a double take as he recognised who had just wondered into his bar. He grinned as he approached her.
"Miss Wade. It's a pleasure to have you in my little establishment. What can I get you?" He asked grinning from ear to ear.
"I'll have a vodka and coke." Nikki replied almost rolling his eyes at his introduction.
"Coming right up."
A minute later Nikki had her drink and was silently thinking through the events of earlier when she was yet again interrupted.
"Excuse me." A voice said from her right, when she turned with an irritable look on her face the man turned to talk to someone else. "It is, I told you it was. You are Nikki Wade aren't you?"
She was about to tell him to piss off when he sat down. Touching her arm he leaned forward. "Do you mind if I sit here?" He asked before gong on before she could say no. "You know I really admire you. You have everything and you don't care what people think of you. Can I ask? Are you really gay or do you just tell everyone that to add to your image?"
"I don't know what it has to do with you." Nikki snapped.
"I always say that no woman is truly gay, she just needs a man to show her what she's missing." He slurred leaning even closer so Nikki could smell the alcohol on his breath.
"It's guys like you who turned me off men in the first place." Nikki answered back not even bothering to try and reign in her temper.
"Mind you, if I had a woman like that Helen Stewart in my bed I wouldn't be too quick to turn the other way, if you know what I mean." He carried on as if Nikki hadn't spoken.
Nikki felt her blood boil at the reference to Helen, this man was talking about her like she was a piece of meat. She was out of her seat in a flash and glaring at the man.
"Don't you dare speak about Helen like that." She growled. The dangerous tone in her voice must have reached the man as this time he registered the threat.
"What did I say? I just said she was a hottie, I wouldn't mind the chance to show her what she's missing...."
The next thing he knew he was sitting on the floor, knocked off the bar stool by Nikki's fist. He slowly regained his senses and raised his hand to his now bleeding nose.
"You bitch. You've just broken my nose."
Helen meanwhile had been at home. After Nikki had left she had stayed in her room and cried until Nick had arrived home with a concerned Lynne. The little boy had run up, climbed on the big bed and wrapped his mother in a hug. She held the toddler close until she had cried enough before pulling away and wiping her eyes.
"What's wrong mummy?" He asked, Helen could see he was concerned.
"It's nothing to worry about. Nikki and I have had a fight that's all."
"Nikki made you cry? She shouldn't do that." He stated looking upset.
"I think I made her cry as well." Helen replied hugging her son again. "It'll be OK, don't worry."
"Where is Nikki? She might need a hug."
"She's not here at the moment. You can give her a hug when she comes back."
That had been hours ago and after putting Nick to bed all that Helen could do was worry about Nikki. They had both been completely unfair during the argument and Helen couldn't do anything but curse herself for losing her temper.
After trying Nikki on her mobile to a couple of times to find that it was turned off. She swallowed her pride as she phoned Trisha to find that Nikki hadn't been there and after a lot of explaining found she hadn't been to William's, John's or Denny's. Eventually she was left to just worry.
It was nearly an hour later when Helen received a phone call from the police. Helen had just been about to start ringing the hospital's so she feared the worse.
"Is that Miss Helen Stewart?" The young sounding man asked.
"This is the San Francisco Police Department, I have a Miss Nikki Wade in my custody and your number is in her wallet." The officer said putting Helen's mind at rest.
"What has she done officer?"
"I have a number of charges against her - assault, drunken conduct and resisting arrest but we have to take a statement from the other party involved. At the moment we are going to bail Miss Wade so if you don't mind we need you to come and collect her."
"Of course, I'll be down as soon as I can."
It took her 5 minutes to arrange for Lynne to agree to baby-sit Nick and 15 frantic minutes for her to arrive.
She parked, taking up two spaces and ran into the station. Noticing no-one around she rang the bell on the desk and waited impatiently for someone to appear. All she knew was that she had to see Nikki and make sure she was OK.
"I'm here for Nikki Wade." She said to the woman who came to see her.
"Thank God." The woman stated looking relieved.
After an irritable session in which Helen had to sign endless paperwork and pay fifty thousand dollar bail fee the female officer led Helen through the station and into the cells. After unlocking, walking through and relocking at least five gates Helen saw Nikki led on a thin and uncomfortable looking bed. Her heart gave a leap as she saw she wasn't moving.
"Wade! C'mon, get up, you're leaving."
"About bloody time." Nikki said rolling over before struggling to sit up. Eventually she looked up and her eyes locked with Helen's. "I'm not gong with her." She snapped bitterly.
"You have two choices, you can either go with her or you can stay here and no matter how 'charming' the conversation has been I'd prefer you to chose option one." The young officer said indicating that the conversation had been anything but charming.
"Nikki let me just get you home then you can go to bed and we can talk tomorrow." Helen offered to the other woman who looked like she was sulking.
"Fine! Just get me out of here." Nikki relented walking to the bars of the cell and glaring at the woman who was taking her time unlocking the gate.
"I need you to sign some papers and then you will be released into Miss Stewart's care until we contact you..." The officer said as she led them through to the outer office.
"You've kept me locked up for over and hour couldn't you have asked me to sign whatever I needed to while I was in that shit hole?" Nikki interrupted indicating the cell she had just been released from.
"Y'know you'd be out a lot sooner if you shut up."
"Aren't you meant to 'protect and serve'? You haven't done either since I've been brought in."
"Yes we have, except it was you we were protecting people from and serving them by keeping you off the streets." The officer shot back gritting her teeth.
"That's a joke, I didn't do anything wrong it was that jerks fault in the first place..."
"Nikki, shut up!" Helen said forcibly, she could see that the officer was a step away from locking her back up and throwing away the key.
Surprisingly Nikki did as Helen said, she pouted and sulked, but she signed the papers and got in the car when Helen told her to. The officer had escorted them out to Helen's car and Helen turned to her just before she climbed into the car herself.
"Thankyou, I know she can be awkward sometimes."
"Are you sure you want her back?" The woman joked.
"I'm sure, she may be awkward but I don't know what I'd do without her." Helen said honestly before climbing behind the wheel and heading home.
They travelled home without talking, Helen kept stealing quick glances at Nikki but the other woman spent the entire journey staring through the window. As soon as they pulled up outside the house Nikki jumped out of the car and headed up the stairs into the front room.
Helen reached the front room just as Nikki was heading into the kitchen. As her hand tightened on the doorknob they heard a little voice and small feet heading down the stairs.
"Nikki! Your back." The little boy flew down the stairs and into Nikki's arms. "I thought you might need a hug." He elaborated.
"Hey kiddo. I always need a hug." Nikki replied holding onto the toddler tightly.
Helen was watching her son and Nikki so closely that she didn't hear Lynne enter the room.
"I'm sorry Helen but he woke up just after you left, when he saw you weren't here he asked where you had gone and when I said you'd gone to get Nikki he refused to go back to sleep until he saw her." The nanny explained.
"It's OK Lynne."
Watching Nikki with Nick pulled on her heartstrings. It was obvious that they adored each other but Trisha's words kept repeating in Helen's mind. She didn't think she'd be able to cope if tomorrow when they talked Nikki admitted that she didn't love Helen and that she was with her so she could have the son she's always wanted.
The next morning Helen was sat in the kitchen waiting for Nikki to get out of bed. As soon as she had put Nick down Nikki had offered to put him back in bed and she informed Helen that she was going to turn in herself straight after. Helen, who had failed to get any sleep the night before, had been up since the early hours waiting for Nikki to show.
Eventually, more than an hour later, the taller woman emerged. Helen wasn't prepared for the protective emotions that ran through her at the site of her lover looking so fragile. Nikki's face looked drawn and pale, her dark hair and eyes only served to draw attention to how pale she was and the dark circles under her eyes didn't help.
"Are you OK?" Helen asked her concern getting the better of her anxiety
"Just brilliant." Nikki replied slumping into a seat and resting her head in her arms. "Is there any chance you could make me a alka seltzer? I would but I think I'll be sick if I move."
Frowning Helen went about making the pain killer and then sat in silence until she saw some of the colour come back into Nikki's face. Nikki saw her watching intently and took the initiative still not felling in the best shape but after lots of thinking she had things that she wanted to say.
"We need to talk and I have some stuff I want to say first." Nikki said. Helen could see the way Nikki face changed and how emotional she became and it made her freighted. "I've been thinking about what happened yesterday and I guess I was shocked. I...I never believed anybody when they said you only wanted to be with me for money." At this Helen opened her mouth but Nikki held up her hand. "Let me finish, please. I didn't believe it but I guess it was also down to the fact that a part of me didn't want to believe it. While I was thinking I..." Nikki looked down at this point not able to maintain eye contact any longer and it made Helen nervous. "I came to the conclusion that it doesn't matter. I love you Helen, I don't think I can live without you and if it takes money to keep you then so be it - I have more than I'll ever need."
Helen's head was spinning. Nikki thought they were only together because Helen wanted her money, she was willing to pay Helen to stay with her if that's what it cost and more importantly Nikki loved her. All thought's left Helen head though when Nikki looked up and the small Scot saw that tears were making their way down her cheeks.
"Oh God Nikki!" Helen exclaimed sitting next to the other woman and taking her into her arms. "I don't want your money. I'd still be with you if you were a beggar on the streets. I wasn't looking for your account files, I...I was looking for the files you received from the private investigator." She admitted.
"What! But...why?" Nikki asked, raising her head, shocked at the admission.
"I'm going to ask you a question Nikki and I want you to be completely honest with me, and not get angry...Did you know about Nick before I told you? Did the private investigators find out about him?"
"I didn't know he existed until you told me, I swear. Why?"
"Someone said that you knew about him and you'd always wanted children...they suggested that you were only with me so you could, in effect, have a child." She regretted telling the other woman when she saw the fury on her face.
"WHO?" She shouted standing and starting to pace the room, Helen saw her stop as the realisation dawned. "It was Trisha wasn't it? She knew she couldn't get at me so she tried you." Nikki said in a dangerously low voice.
Before Helen knew what was happening Nikki had walked out of the kitchen and was heading up the stairs two at a time, Helen heard draws being rummaged through before the footsteps retraced their steps. When she appeared back in the kitchen she handed an extremely thin file back to Helen.
"There you go, all the answers are in that file." Even though there was no blame in Nikki's tone Helen thought she might be angry about the lack of trust shown by Helen.
"I believe you Nikki, I don't need to see this." As she glanced down at the dark green file.
"No, I don't want anything between us. I want to show you for my piece of mind as well as yours."
"What about me?" Helen asked sadly, "How can I prove to you that I'm with you because I love you not because of anything you have?"
"You don't need to Helen," Nikki said pulling the other woman into a hug. It was the first intimate contact they'd had since the argument and they felt their previous closeness returning. "I trust you, I've never thought you wanted my money, you are not that shallow."
"It didn't look that way when you came stomping into your office..."
"It isn't you that I don't trust it's....Every time I'm happy, everytime I have everything I want it's always ruined. It's like I have a curse on me, I'm always destined to loose the things I love."
"You are never going to loose me or Nick. We just have to learn how to talk things through when we have something we need to know. I just thought you'd be angry if I asked you and I also didn't want to here you say that it was Nick that you wanted - not me."
"C'mon then. Don't you want to see all the dirt the professionals managed to dig up about you?" Nikki said grinning cheekily.
Glancing at Nikki to make sure she really didn't mind Helen opened the file. No matter how many times Nikki had told her how little the PI had found out about her Helen always thought she was under-dramatising everything. In her mind Private Investigators had exciting, deadly jobs. As she looked at the couple of printed papers in the file she was sorely disappointed, he had found nothing out and Nikki had been stupid to pay even a fraction of what she had hinted she had paid the man. She skimmed the text for a couple of seconds before she handed the file back to Nikki.
"I owe you an apology...to even consider Trisha word as a possibility was stupid. You trusted me all along when you had every reason to doubt me. And I jump on the first hint that I should doubt you."
"It's not you that should be apologising." Nikki muttered as she walked into the front room and grabbed her coat.
"Nikki where are you going?" Helen asked fearing the glint in her eyes.
"I'm going to see Trisha." Nikki threw over her shoulder as she slammed the door. A couple of seconds later Helen heard the car screech away from the house.
As Nikki pulled up outside the classy Victorian style house and slammed the car door she noticed two lights blazing inside. She stalked determinedly up to the front of the house and hammered on the door. Impatiently tapping her foot she only waited a few seconds before hammering again.
"OK, OK. I'm coming." She heard a muffled shout from inside before footsteps approached.
A few seconds later the front door opened a crack and Trisha peered out. She smiled when she saw Nikki, before the door closed again and Nikki heard the rattling of the chain before the door opened fully.
"Nikki, babe, it's great to see you." The blond said wrapping her arms around the other woman.
Nikki had to grind her teeth to stop herself saying anything, this woman had tried to wreck her entire life and she didn't even seem bothered.
"I had a call from Helen yesterday, she told me about your argument. Have you seen her yet?" Trisha asked leading Nikki into the front room.
Nikki temper was further frayed at the uncaring tone used to ask the question. The blond had, in the past, tried to sabotage Nikki and Helen's relationship with the intention of resuming their past liaison, now Nikki wasn't sure if that had been the intention. Would Trisha really try and split them up just because she couldn't have Nikki?
"Yeah, we talked earlier." Nikki said trying to keep her tone neutral.
"Really! So what happened? You turning up on my doorstep can't be a good sign."
"We argued again. I think it's over." Nikki found herself saying, she wanted to test Trisha but it seemed her mouth was working faster than her brain.
"I'm sorry, as much as I didn't like Helen, I could see you cared for her. I glad you came to me to talk about it." The blond said sliding closer to Nikki on the settee they were sat on, putting an arm around her and bringing Nikki's head to rest on her shoulder.
"I'm sorry, it seems a little insensitive of me to be asking for your shoulder to cry on after I refused to listen to you. Especially after you told me how you feel."
"It doesn't matter. I'm your friend before anything else."
"Thanks, it means a lot to have you to talk to." Nikki said noticing that Trisha had started to run her hands through her hair.
"I'll always be here for you."
"Do you think...is there still a chance for us to make things work?" Trisha hesitated at these words looking shocked.
"Erm...I don't think it would be wise Nikki. I don't want to be second best in your heart and that's all I'd be. I'm sorry."
At these words Nikki's act broke and she almost snarled at Trisha, seeing the change in the woman before her the blonde took her arm from around Nikki and moved back on the settee.
"You don't want me but you still couldn't bare to see me with Helen? Is it so hard for you to see me happy?" Nikki asked coldly.
"Here we go again. Why am I always the bad guy when it comes to you and Helen..?" Trisha asked to the disbelief of Nikki.
"Why?" Nikki asked incredulously "You mean apart from the fact that you've been trying to convince me that Helen's only with me for what she can get, or that you've told her that I'm only with her because I want a child. Then there the fact that everything you've done for the past couple of month's - including making friends with Helen is so that you could play out your plan to split us up."
"That's nonsense...who told you that? Helen?"
"Will you just stop it?" Nikki shouted standing up as if needing to put a physical barrier between them. "It's not going to work anymore, I'm never going to believe anything you ever say and I'm here to tell you to stay away from Helen, Nick and myself. I never want to see you again."
"You don't mean that." Trisha spat bitterly. "You'll come running back to me as soon as she breaks your heart and believe me she will."
"I don't know why you are acting like this but is it so hard to believe that she loves me?" Nikki pleaded hoping to see at least a little of the old friend she used to rely on.
"Helen loves you! I guess everyone else's feelings pale into insignificance, nobody else's feelings matters apart from yours does it? It didn't matter how I felt watching you follow her around like a love sick puppy..."
"What are you talking about?" Nikki interrupted Trisha's rant. "You just turned me down when I asked if we could try again."
"I wouldn't want you back knowing you were on the rebound and knowing you were still in love with her."
"Trish we were over long before Helen came on the scene. We were good together and maybe things would have worked out if it wasn't for our jobs but neither of us was willing to give up what we did so we could try. I didn't realise you still felt that way about me and I'm sorry if I made it hard for you by the way I acted..." Nikki said softly, she didn't get to finish what she was saying as Trisha butted in.
"I don't want your pity..."
"Good, because you don't have it. No matter what you felt it doesn't excuse what you tried to do to Helen and I. I still don't want you coming near us."
"You don't have anything to worry on that account, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near you either. In fact I don't want you in my house." With this she stomped over to the door and pulled it open indicating that Nikki should leave.
Shaking her head Nikki walked slowly over to Trisha. "I'm sorry it came to this." She said quietly as she left.
Helen had been waiting anxiously for Nikki to return. With the mood she was in when she set off the small Scot had been scared as to what Nikki would do. She had even contemplated phoning Trisha to warn her but by the time she had picked up the phone Nikki had more than likely reached Trisha's.
Deciding that there was nothing she could do and that she should relax, Helen ran herself a bath. She was almost asleep when she heard the front door close. By the time she had wrapped a towel around her body and reached the bottom of the stairs Nikki was making her way out of the kitchen with a drink in her hand.
"Hi darling. Are you having a bath?" Nikki asked walking forward and kissing Helen quickly on the lips. It didn't take much for Helen to pick up on the hollow sound in Nikki's voice.
"What happened? Are you OK?" Helen asked grabbing Nikki's hand to keep her close.
"Nothing much. I went over there, we argued, I told her I never wanted to see her again and to keep away from us all, and she threw me out." Nikki said flippantly.
"I'm sorry." Helen said pulling Nikki into a hug that she willingly accepted.
"Why are you sorry? If anyone should be sorry it's Trish. She even admitted that she doesn't want me back - she wanted to split us up out of spite..." Nikki said bitterly, gritting her teeth as she trailed off.
"It doesn't matter anymore Nikki, what matters is that we are still together. We've been through a lot and no matter what anyone tried to do to us, we were stronger."
"I know, but it makes me angry. I trusted Trisha, we were friends for years, I thought she'd be pleased for me but instead she tries to destroy my happiness."
Helen rubbed Nikki's back soothingly but kept quiet, she had the feeling that Nikki needed to release some steam. It was Nikki who eventually broke the silence, when she felt Helen shivering in her arms.
"Where you planning to head back to the bath?" She asked.
"I don't know." Helen replied shrugging.
"It's just that if you were I was going to ask if you wanted some company." Nikki smiled mischievously.
"Well in that case I'm definitely heading back to the bath and I'd love some company."
Helen grabbed Nikki and led her to the bathroom. It was two hours before the telephone ringing disturbed them.
"This water is cold you know?" Nikki asked nibbling on Helen's ear from where she was positioned behind her.
"The phone's ringing." She pointed out.
"Mmm." Helen answered again.
"I'll get it then shall I?"
"If it's important they'll ring back." Helen said turning slightly and covering Nikki's lips with her own. It was only another two rings before Nikki pulled away.
"I'm sorry but I'm going to have to answer it. I'll only be a minute." She said pushing Helen forward slightly so she could get out of the bath. She picked up the towel Helen had discarded earlier and left the bathroom.
Nikki re-entered the bathroom 5 minutes later and sat on the toilet lid.
"That was John. He rang to remind me that I'd promised to attend his premier tomorrow night." Nikki explained.
"Oh!" Helen said slightly hurt that this was the first she'd heard about the event.
"I think I remember him asking me a couple of days ago - I don't remember agreeing to it though. So what are we going to wear?"
"Well, you are going to come with me aren't you?" Nikki asked a fearful look on her face, she didn't want to go without Helen. The other woman had a way of making her feel secure when she was surrounded by crowds, not to mention a way of handling the press that Nikki envied.
"I-I don't know, I don't remember you saying anything about it." Helen stammered.
"Please, I don't want to go on my own." Nikki said putting on her best pleading face, she knew Helen could never say no to her when she looked at her like that.
"OK." Helen sighed acting put out. "Fine, but next time give me more warning."
"Sure." Nikki said grinning. "We'll have to ask Lynne to baby-sit, it's an R certificate so Nick can't go."
The next night didn't go as smoothly as either woman would have liked. With fifteen minutes left until the car was due to pick them up Nikki was running around the bedroom in nothing but suit trousers and her bra frantically searching for a shirt she swore she'd pegged up the night before, and Nick was sulking because he wasn't going with them.
Helen, who had surprised everybody by being ready on time, was now searching the house for the offending shirt while trying to explain to her sullen son why he couldn't go.
"Look Nick, you can't come with us, it's against the law." Helen explained disappearing into the kitchen.
"I was allowed to go before." The toddler said following her into the room where he stood with his arms crossed, pouting. Helen had to bite back a laugh when she saw him, he looked so cute, and so like Nikki when he pulled that face. She couldn't take his sulking fit seriously when he tried to radiate anger in his Thomas the Tank Engine pyjamas.
Helen quickly exited the kitchen before Nick could see the smile on her face. She headed back up the stairs and into the bedroom.
"Could you please go out there and explain to him why he can't go. He listens to you more." Helen sighed.
"I don't think he'd listen to me at all if I walked out there in my bra." Nikki replied looking through her wardrobe for the fifth time. "Where the bloody Hell is my shirt?"
Realising she wasn't going to get much mature conversation from Nikki, Helen left the room. She quickly went into the bathroom when she saw Nick making his way up the stairs. It was only a couple of seconds before she exited the bathroom with a white silk shirt in her hands.
"Can't keep away from me when I'm half dressed can you babe." Nikki stated grinning as she heard the door opening behind her. The grin got wider when she turned around and saw what Helen was holding. "My shirt! Where was it?"
"In the bathroom, behind the door."
"Damn, how could I forget hanging it there?" Nikki said pulling the shirt on, more comment was cut off by the voice that came through the door.
"Mummy, Nikki. Please let me come!"
"I'll go and talk to him shall I?" Nikki asked when she saw Helen close her eyes and pinch the bridge of her nose.
Nikki opened the door to see the toddler stood determinedly outside. He smiled briefly when he saw Nikki before remembering that he wasn't happy and scowling again.
"Hi Nick, let's go downstairs." Nikki said picking up the small boy and carrying him into the front room.
Helen left their bedroom shortly afterwards, as she reached the bottom step she saw Nikki sitting on the settee with Nick on her lap. She paused to watch the scene and marvel at how well the woman she loved got on with her son.
"You see there are things in the movie that people don't think you should see...and things that you wouldn't want to see." Nikki told Nick while Helen lurked unseen at the bottom of the stairs.
"Like what?" Nick asked, his curiosity in full flow.
"Well, lots of violence for one - you know that's wrong. They'll also be lots of sex...you don't want to see that do you?"
"Eww, no." Nick replied screwing his face up.
"So, how about we make a deal? You don't go tonight and I'll see about getting tickets to see that movie you and Tyler have been talking about for weeks."
"You can really get tickets for that?" The toddler asked excited.
"I reckon I can." Nikki replied smiling.
"It's OK kiddo, why don't you go and ask Lynn for some ice cream, tell her I said you can."
Not being one to pass up ice cream Nick jumped down from Nikki's knee and ran into the kitchen. Taking the opportunity Helen replaced her son on Nikki's knee.
"How come it never works when I try to bribe him with ice cream and cinema tickets?" She asked wrapping her arms around Nikki's neck.
"When have you tried to bribe him with ice cream and cinema tickets?"
"Good point." Helen was just about to take advantage of the empty room by kissing Nikki when a car horn sounded outside, indicating the arrival of the car.
"Why does that always happen?" Helen managed to ask before Nikki pushed her to her feet.
As soon as their limo pulled up, outside the cinema that was hosting the premier, Nikki knew something was wrong. They didn't even have time to reach for the door handle before the car was surrounded by the press, muffled voices could be heard shouting questions and the inside of the car lit up in a strobe like effect from the flash bulbs of cameras. They hadn't had this problem since the English news article that resulted in them appearing on a chat show.
Both women sat still in the car not sure what to do, the clamber continued outside for a couple more minutes before they heard shouts calling for the press to step away from the car. The flash bulbs stopped and the car door was pulled open to reveal four of the biggest men Helen had ever seen.
She shrunk back slightly as one of the men held out his hand for her to take. With a nod of encouragement from Nikki, Helen took the proffered hand and was pulled quickly out of the car.
Helen sensed rather than saw Nikki exiting the car behind her, but she knew for sure that the other woman had stepped onto the street when the screams of the crowd got louder. She felt the crowd surge forward as the bodies of the security men she was sandwiched between drew closer. She heard her name called countless times from the crowd but it melded into the rest of the voices and was lost.
Eventually they were shepherded behind a barrier and shortly afterwards the bodyguards stepped back and join a group of others that were guarding the barriers between the crowd, press and the red carpet the guests arrived by.
Helen smiled when she felt a hand lightly brush her lower back in a comforting gesture. She leaned into the gesture for a few seconds before walking towards a group of young girls who were frantically shouting to her and waving an autograph book.
She had only taken a few steps when a particularly loud voice reached her from the nearby press area.
"Miss Stewart, Trisha Harris told this paper last night that you and Miss Wade are lovers, is it true?"
It became obvious that she wasn't the only one who had heard the question when most of the crowd grew quiet. Helen knew she could deny the question; it would just look like an ambiguous sentence taken out of context. They had talked about letting everyone know but, not knowing how they would be taken or if Nick would accept the news happily, they had decided that if wasn't worth the risk. They hadn't counted on this scenario though. Helen smiled as Nikki approached. Reaching out Helen grabbed each of Nikki's hands in hers and then pulling them around her sides she placed them on the front of her hips.
"Yeah, it's true. I'm in love with Nikki and she's in love with me." She replied confidently.
"Why did you lie about your relationship when you were interviewed by Vince Green?" A young man asked from the front of the press pack.
"We didn't, we were not in a relationship at that time." Nikki replied taking the queue from Helen. Unfortunately there were a few disbelieving scoffs at Nikki's confession.
"What she is saying is true. We didn't tell anyone about our relationship but we wouldn't lie about it. It was over a month after the interview before we became lovers, shortly after John's party." Helen said covering Nikki's hand with her own as she felt the slide further around her stomach from behind, and her fingers lock together.
"As has been explained, Trisha Harris phoned a number of press offices to inform us of this story. The last we heard Trisha was friends with both of you, can you tell us why she would do this?" An immaculately dressed woman asked sticking a microphone as far over the barrier as she could.
Helen felt Nikki's body stiffen as Trisha's name was mentioned but when she spoke her voice was controlled.
"Trish and I had a disagreement yesterday, I guess she was more bitter about it than I thought."
"Surely you must feel betrayed and angry with her?" The female reporter asked.
"Betrayed, yes. I don't feel angry though." Helen replied before Nikki could speak. "I've been so happy I've wanted to tell everyone that this wonderful woman is in love with me but fear that we wouldn't be accepted stopped me, Trisha's taken that fear away now. I would never deny that Nikki and I are in love and now, strangely, I'm not bothered what people think."
Later, on the news Helen would see the dazzling smile that crossed Nikki's face at her words, at the time all she felt was Nikki's nuzzling her neck.
"Is Nikki still a good lover?" A young man with a smarmy smile asked.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" Helen teased smiling mischievously back.
A middle-aged man opened his mouth to ask a question but before he'd even spoke the first syllable the huge bodyguards reappeared.
"Miss Wade and Miss Stewart need to go now if they wish to catch the beginning of the movie." The biggest of the men said.
None of the press representatives argued. Nikki thought this was more to do with the fact that he looked around 300 pounds of muscle, had a skinhead, numerous tattoo and looked like the kind of guy who ate razor blades for breakfast.
The bodyguards left as they reached the door and they entered to see William and Sue waiting for them.
"One way to avoid publicity at your own premier - invite Nikki Wade." William said grinning, Nikki knew he had never really liked all the attention he received at the openings of his movies but she had thought that he might be resenting all the attention she had been receiving lately, after all he was meant to be the movie star while she was just a businesswoman.
"I'm sorry William, I really didn't know that this was going to happen." Nikki apologised.
"Don't worry about it I never like talking about my movies anyway. The press usually just slate them, at least this time they'll have their attention elsewhere." He said slapping Nikki on the back. "To tell you the truth I was pleased when I stepped out of the car and was immediately inundated with questions about you." William grinned again when Nikki flinched.
"What did you say to them?" Helen asked frowning.
"Not much, although they did seem excited when I told them about the Australian Ministers daughter and of course that story about that Russian ballerina got lots of interest." He replied looking thoughtful.
As Helen glared at Nikki, Sue decided to step in.
"He's teasing Helen. I've known Nikki as long as William has and I can tell you that Nikki has never had any affairs with Australian Minister or Russian ballerinas. Even if she had we wouldn't have told the newspapers about it." Sue said while Nikki turned her attention to glaring at William.
The poor man was unintentionally saved by John and his girlfriend, Molly's, timely entrance. Apparently Molly was John's long-term girlfriend, which meant Helen was the only one who hadn't been introduced. John took no time in introducing them and soon they were all chatting. Molly was very sweet, if slightly dim and Helen found herself liking the small, perfectly proportioned blonde.
"I can't believe Trisha, I never thought she would do anything like that, she knows firsthand what it's like to have your personal life splattered all over the tabloids. No-one will forget this for a long time." John said rather bitterly to say he had nothing to do with the incident.
"I don't want a hate campaign launched against her, John. I just want to forget this happened and if it's left alone then it'll go quicker. I'm probably not completely innocent in this and although I don't like what she's done I don't want to give her anymore reason to hate me."
Nikki had told Helen how she came to know William and John and it now made her wonder how it made them feel. They were both, obviously friends with Trisha as well as Nikki or they never would have been spending the night clubbing with the blonde. Helen now wondered if they had sided with Nikki because of the means in which Trisha had extracted her revenge or whether both men were now firmer friends with Nikki. It would be interesting to see how things would unwind in the future.
"We should go and get our seats, it'll be starting soon." Sue said changing the subject.
"So what is this movie about William? Another action flick in which you beat up about a million bad guys, save the world and get the girl?" Nikki asked cynically.
"Pretty much." William replied as the filed into their seats and just as they sat down the room went dark and the picture started.
Authors Note: This is it - the final chapter. (You won't believe how weird it is to write that after so long). As such I wanted thank a couple of people. First and foremost has to be Julie. When I first posted a message on the Larkhall Insider asking for someone to check through my fic I never knew how much help she would provide. I really believe I would never have finished Everlasting Love if it weren't for her. Everytime I had writers block or lost motivation Julie listened to my complaints and rants and gave me encouragement. She probably doesn't know how much it meant to me and as such Thank you seems so inadequate, but it's all I can think of to say.
Secondly I'd like to thank everyone who read this piece of fanfic and a big thank you to everyone that wrote to me with feedback. When I started on this, with the idea of turning Helen and Nikki's positions around and having Nikki as the one with the power I never thought it would last over six month's, 18 chapters and, if my word count is to be believed, over 90,000 words, (wow, you guys have read a lot). What started as a short story has recently been called an epic and it really means a lot that you've all seen it to the end with me. I read fanfic all the time but have never taken the time to tell the authors what I thought, I always used the excuse that I never knew what to say. Knowing, now, how much it means to receive even one e-mail telling you how much someone has enjoyed your story, I'm going to write to every author of every story I read. You guys have been great and I am now proud to call some of you friends.
The next morning when Nikki woke it was to see Helen sat at the desk in their room reading the newspaper.
"Hey baby, what's up?" She asked noticing the frown on Helen's face as she read the page.
"We're on the front page...and page 2, 3, 4, 10 and 11."
"Oh! Well it can't be that bad can it? We were completely honest, and even if they make up some stories we will know it's not true, that's all that matters isn't it?"
"I guess so, this paper seems to have pretty much stuck to the truth, but...what about Nick? He doesn't know anything about this and I can just imagine what some people will be saying about the fact he will be raised in a homosexual relationship." Helen replied as Nikki got out of bed and leaned over the smaller woman to look at the articles.
"We can talk to Nick, I really can't see it being a problem. He likes me and I can't see him taking the sides of the bigots." Nikki said her eyes skimming the text. "It's a good photo."
The Photographer had caught the moment in which Helen had placed Nikki's arms around her. Helen was smiling mischievously while Nikki had a look that was somewhere between shock and contentment. Nikki reached out and slowly traced her finger down Helen's face in the picture.
"Yeah, I like the photo." Helen said standing and placing a kiss on Nikki's cheek.
"Where are you going?" Nikki asked looking hurt.
"I'm going to have a shower and get dressed." Helen explained. "You should be doing the same, you should to be in work in half an hour."
"But we only have one shower in the house. How am I meant to shower in time if you are using it?" Nikki asked innocently.
"I'm sure you'll figure something out." Helen said wryly as she left the room. She smiled when, after less than 30 seconds later, Nikki exited and quickly followed Helen into the bathroom.
It was an hour before they left the bathroom again. Nikki laughed as she felt Helen grab her around her waist and nuzzle her neck as they headed to their bedroom.
"I'm late now, you are such a bad influence on me!" Nikki laughed as she saw the clock next to their bed.
"I guess if you're already late it won't matter if you're a bit later?"
"God, you can't keep your hands off me can you?"
"Excuse me? I didn't say anything about sex, that was you jumping to conclusions. I think we should talk to Nick, explain our relationship to him." Helen said seriously letting go of Nikki's waist and sitting on the bed.
"You're really serious about this aren't you?" Nikki asked surprised.
"I just don't want...I want him to know, I want him to form his own opinion on us so that if he is picked on he'll know why and be able to counter them." Helen tried to explain. "Does that make sense?"
"It makes perfect sense." Nikki said squeezing her lover's hand.
Twenty minutes later Helen made her way into the front room, while Nikki went outside to get Nick. She sat on the settee nervously tapping the arm until Nikki came back carrying the giggling boy. The taller woman placed him next to Helen before sitting on the coffee table.
"Nick we need to talk to you about something." Helen said. Picking up on the tension in the room Nick stopped giggling and frowned.
"We think you should...we want you to know that Nikki and I are a couple." Helen stammered. She waited for Nick's reaction for a couple of seconds before continuing when he said nothing. "Do you know what we're saying?"
"Yep, we're a family, I have a mummy and a daddy like Tyler." He said nodding.
"Not exactly kiddo. We'll never to be able to be a legal family and I'll never be your daddy but I love your mummy and you. We are together like Tyler's parents though and we wanted to tell you because...some people think that it's wrong. Some people think that women should fall in love with men and that any women that falls for a woman is wrong." Nikki paused to see that the little boy was listening to what she was saying.
"Some people think that you shouldn't be in love with mom?" He asked still frowning.
"Yeah they do, they can also be pretty set in there beliefs. Your mum and I are worried that some of them may say things to you...pick on you...because of us." Nikki continued.
"But I want you to be with mummy, I like us being a family and you make her happy." Nick replied looking upset.
"I'm not going anywhere, we just wanted to explain and make sure you were OK with it." Nikki explained. To her relief Nick smiled.
"I'm OK with it." He said nodding enthusiastically.
"Good." Helen said smiling as well. It had been a lot easier than she had thought and it was a big relief to her that Nick had accepted it so well.
That weekend they had company. After the barbecue at William's house Nikki had made an open invitation to him and his family to call around for a meal at her house. It had been decided at his premier that his family would come over that weekend and were to have a barbecue.
Now, after spending a relaxing morning talking to Sue, Helen was led on a blanket in Nikki's arms resting her head on the taller woman's shoulder. They had moved outside when William had announced that he should get started on the barbecue. Nick had immediately roped all the children into a game of soccer, which left all the adults alone. Feeling more content then she had been in years Helen turned onto her side and threw her arm around Nikki's waist. In this position she was able to nibble on her lovers neck.
"You two can't give up can you?" Sue asked her tone suggesting she was mocking them both.
"We probably could, we just don't see why we should." Helen stated grinning mischievously.
"Maybe we shouldn't be so open, we don't want to set a bad example to the kids." Nikki said looking serious. Sue rolled her eyes.
"It's got nothing to do with the kids, seeing you two act like your in heat is making me realise how boring and predictable my marriage has become." She replied jokingly.
William chose that moment to walk out into the garden in an apron carrying the meat to barbecue. Hearing the laughing coming from the women he walked up.
"What are you three finding so funny?"
"We were just discussing how boring your relationship was compared to ours." Nikki told him.
"Well we can't all have lives like yours, half of the press would die of excitement." William replied in a teasing tone.
"And that would be a bad thing?" Nikki said incredulously.
"Oh come on Nikki, you may not like them but even you aren't that callous that you'd like to see them dead."
"OK, maybe not dead but I wouldn't say no to seeing a couple of them being tortured." Nikki replied evilly the answer received a tut from Helen, "What? You haven't been here long enough to see what they are really capable off. I've had them break into my house, bribe my cleaners and one even called the police to my house so she could take pictures of the car outside and make up a story. She told the whole world that I'd slit my wrists because of the 'pressure of fame'."
"I read about that, I was really worried." Helen said when Nikki had finished.
"You and everyone else. I was plagued by reporters and well wishes for weeks after, they wouldn't believe it was false, not to mention the follow up stories lasted for month's."
The conversation then veered into which one of them had the worst stories about the press.
The evening had been relaxful for both women. Helen had genuinely enjoyed the conversations and jokes of William and Sue, they were obviously good friends of Nikki's and cared about her. It was helped by the fact that Nick had enjoyed an afternoon with kids his own age, he had spent the day playing soccer with Tyler, his brother and sister and by the time they left all the children were exhausted.
"I really enjoyed today." She told Nikki as they climbed into bed.
"Yeah, so did I. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed their company. Believe it or not we used to do this all the time when we were just starting the restaurant." Nikki replied as Helen curled up against her side.
"I was worried about how they would act now we are officially a couple, but they didn't seem to care."
"They are true friends, Sue told me that she just wanted me to be happy and she could see I was." Nikki informed her.
"Well, I'm glad you're happy." Helen replied pulling Nikki's head down and kissing her.
After minutes of passionate kissing Helen pulled back breathing heavily.
"God, how do you do it?" She asked her voice unmistakable husky.
"Make every touch feel like a first touch. Make every kiss have such an emotional impact that it feels like I've never been kissed before and make every time we make love feel like my first time?" Helen asked looking at Nikki in wonder.
"It's because we're soul mates." Nikki replied looking thoughtful. "We are two halves of a whole, destined to be together. I never believed in it before but it now seems to be the only explanation for what I feel."
"Didn't I say the same thing to you all those years ago when we were still at school?" Helen asked smiling.
"That might be where I heard it." Nikki conceded grinning.
"Getting my idyllic theories quoted back to me...how romantic." Helen said wryly.
"I'm sorry, I can be romantic." Nikki pleaded. "I love you. Forgive me?"
"Well, I don't know I might need some convincing."
"How exactly will I do that?" She said feigning innocence.
No other words were spoken as Helen pulled Nikki into another kiss.
Helen was pleased to see that their life settled shortly after the premier. The press weren't reacting as she had feared they would and the scandal died down within days. Rather than excluding them from all magazines a few ran articles on their family life and how it was now fashionable to be a lesbian. Nikki, of course, scoffed at all the articles but Helen was quietly pleased.
Trisha, as promised, stayed away from them all and had even taken to avoiding John and William after she had run into the former who had told her what he thought of her betrayal. Nikki had told him he shouldn't have done it but nobody had really thought it sounded convincing.
Meanwhile Nick was getting excited about the fact that he would soon be going to kindergarten. They had been lots of conversations about the type of kindergarten school he should attend. If he went to a normal state one it was possible he would be picked on and treated differently because of Nikki and their relationship, but Nikki and Helen wanted him to have as normal a life as possible, which didn't involve him attending some private Kindergarten or him being taught at home.
It was eventually decided that they would send him to the local kindergarten and only take action if something did happen.
About a week after the premier Nikki came home grinning from ear to ear. She asked Helen to take a walk around the garden with her and, curious, Helen agreed.
"What did you want to talk to me about?" Helen asked when Nikki had been silent for a couple of minutes.
"Erm...Well...I wanted to give you something." Nikki stammered.
"Really, what?" Helen asked when Nikki, again, wasn't forthcoming.
"Let me explain first. I was thinking about what we talked about in bed after the barbecue...you know about how we belong together and how I'm not romantic..."
"Nikki, you didn't take that seriously did you? I was joking, you can be very romantic look at the time you took me out on a date because you said we'd never been on a first date." Helen interrupted.
"I know you were joking I just...I wanted you to know you were loved and well..." At this Nikki stopped pulling Helen to a halt beside her. Going into her pocket Nikki pulled out a small jewellery box. Helen was shocked when she saw what Nikki was holding out to her, as Nikki opened the box Helen gasped, inside was a small but beautiful ring. It wasn't just a gold band as most rings were but intricate connecting gold pieces they all came to a halt at a medium sized diamond in the centre of the ring.
"Nikki...is this..." Helen stammered.
"I don't know...not if you don't want it to be. I just thought about what we were talking about and thought...if we are two parts of a whole them why not get something more than our emotions to bind it. A symbolic joining I guess. I know we will never be able to legally marry, but I just wanted everyone to know that we are together, that this beautiful and amazing woman is mine. Sorry, I know I can get a little possessive." Nikki said all this quickly not giving Helen a chance to say anything, when she finished she looked at her waiting for an answer.
"Oh Nikki, it's beautiful." She said her eyes filling with tears.
"I got it specially made, I didn't design it or anything but I thought you'd like the design when I saw the sketch." Nikki replied shrugging.
"I can't believe you've done this Nikki." Helen whispered looking at the ring.
Nikki couldn't see Helen's face but her words cut through her heart, the ring hadn't been intended as a wedding ring but it had been presented as a ring to join them. Helen's reaction and her words sounded like a refusal. Putting on a brave face Nikki tried to save something from this encounter.
"Look, like I said you don't have to wear it if you don't want, or you can keep the ring but not wear it on your ring finger. I just want you to have the ring."
"What?" Helen said looking up shocked. "I want it on my ring finger Nikki. I love you and I accept...your symbolic binding gesture...or however you phrased it."
Nikki stood paralysed for a moment before laughing. She slowly picked the ring out of the box and indicated for Helen to hold out her hand. When the small Scot's left hand came out Nikki slid the ring on while looking deeply into the other woman's eyes.
Helen's heart felt like it was going to burst with the love she felt for this woman, tears of happiness were rolling down her face as she smiled at Nikki. Completely without warning Nikki grabbed her and spun her around, Helen let out a shriek as she felt herself fly through the air. Before she could even regain her sense of balance she was pulled into a bear hug.
"You had me worried for a moment there." Nikki told her. Letting go of her suffocating hold on the smaller woman and holding her at arms length "I thought you were turning me down, this bearing your heart lark is not good for my ego."
"Can't have your ego getting battered can we?" Helen replied wiping at her tears.
"I should have known you couldn't resist my charms." Nikki joked.
"Then again maybe your ego could do with a bit of a battering." Helen rejoined.
Nikki laughed at Helen's teasing and pulled her into another hug. "We'll have to ring Will and Sue and John and Molly, we'll invite them to a celebratory drink. No better still we'll invite them for a drink and tell them while they are here. They'll be so pleased." Helen was left to watch as Nikki paced back and forth, getting more excited.
"Nikki calm down. We'll tell them but why don't we get used to it first. Plus in their eyes it'll just look like you've given me a ring."
"OK, you're right. I'm just happy." Nikki took Helen hands and her face split into a big grin. "Let's go in, we can tell Lynn and Nick."
Nikki put her arm around the small Scot as they walked towards the house but just as they were about to walk up the steps to the front door Helen halted.
"Before we go in...Nikki, I don't know what I've done to deserve you but I'm thankful everyday that we're together. Everything I have now, my job, my son, even my clothes...it's down to you. You will never know what everything you've done for me means..." She trailed off unable to carry on through the tears. Nikki wrapped Helen in her arms and held her until the sobs abated
"Hey, c'mon. The past is behind you Helen, I've said that millions of time. You have to forget it now, all that you need to concentrate on is your future...our future. If I have anything to say about it you'll have everything you've ever wanted and more."
Drying her eyes and laughing shyly she leaned into Nikki, wrapping her arms around the other woman tightly. In an unspoken agreement they both headed up the steps towards the house and their future. Whatever that may be.