DISCLAIMER: Bad Girls and its characters are the property of Shed Productions. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This starts off @ Chix straight after Nikki's release, and aims to follow them throughout their lives outside of Larkhall. Not sure how long for. Let me know what you guys think.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To debinho23[at]hotmail.co.uk

Fresh Start
By EdenAshley


Part 5

Nikki left her old house, quite soon after Trisha revealed the extent of their joint wealth, she couldn't bring herself to go home, such is the worry she has about Helen's reaction. She instead finds herself driving towards the club, its mid afternoon at the moment; she knows Trish won't be heading to set up for at least a few hours yet.

She is driving Helen's car at the moment, although she had been looking into buying a car, she hadn't settled on a particular one yet, she wondered if subconsciously this is because she is scared about what make and model she would choose, would Helen have an issue if she chose a 'fancy car'. Or was all this worrying she was doing about Helen just that, worry. Who's to say Helen would react badly at all, maybe all this concern and confusion was for nothing.

She parked Helen's Peugeot in the Chix car park, and headed straight for the side entrance, where the staff always enter. She pulls out her set of keys. Trisha had given them back to her as soon as she was released; she had been so excited when she handed them over, hopeful of a future she and Nikki could share. That was a little over a week ago, how things had changed since then.

But the excitement is still there for Nikki, as she looks down and thumbs over the keys in her hand, full of possibility. She is a business woman, and a bloody good one at that. These keys signify her future. She cannot wait to get back into the club, in a professional capacity. The first step towards that, she hopes she will be taking in the next few moments. She exhales deeply, and turns the key in the lock before letting herself in.

She walks out into the main area of the club; it's been a while since she's been in here when it's been completely empty. It feels strange, the club seems smaller somehow. Its dark at the moment, the main light is coming from behind the bar, this is where she heads to next, it's a long sweeping bar, she smiles to herself, as she leans against it. Trisha has done such a good job with this place, its completely different to how it was when she was sent down. Trish had completely redecorated, she had to. It's a million times better now.

She settles on a bar stool, just taking in her surroundings, still not entirely sure what enticed her here in the first place, other than not really wanting to speak to Helen, but she could have gone anywhere. Why here? Then the doorway to the office catches her eye. It's across the dance floor, just a normal brown door. Nothing special about it.

But the sight of it makes Nikki sick to her stomach. Her breathing becomes more ragged, and her heart starts beating faster. Without even realising she has hopped off the stool, and is slowly making her way towards the door, she is almost transfixed, she can't look away, can't even blink. The closer she gets the dryer her throat gets. She has no control over her legs; they just continue to take her closer and closer.

When she finally reaches the door, she swallows, and realises just how dry her throat is. She reaches out and places her palm flat on the door; she makes no attempt to open it, just rests her hand on the door, and closes her eyes. She is taken back in time to that fateful day over four years ago now. The visions in her head as clear today as they were then.

She had gone upstairs to change her top, due to one of the late night revellers having had one too many, and throwing up all over, she had made sure everyone had vacated the premises, at least she thought she had. She skipped down the stairs, happy, glad to be going home soon. When she entered the bar area and Trisha was nowhere to be seen she assumed she was in the office, putting the night's takings in the safe. She wasn't prepared for what she saw when she opened the door. This door, the very same one she has her hand firmly placed on right now, all these years later.

And it's instantly too much for Nikki; she turns around and exits the bar, at top speed. She locks the side door behind her and then leans against it. It's at this point she realises she has tears streaming down her face. It seems it could still be a little while before she's fully ready to come back to work.

Nikki had left for Trisha's hours ago, Helen assumed from the answer phone message left by the blonde earlier in the day, that she had some news regarding the house. Helen is starting to worry a little now, Nikki still hadn't come home, but more than that, she hadn't called or anything. Again she can't help the prang of jealously she feels when she thinks about her lover spending the whole afternoon with her ex lover.

Helen doesn't understand what's going in her head. She has never been jealous, ever. She actually counts herself as quite confident, and that the person she's with should be proud to be with her, and wouldn't do anything to jeopardise that, and that had certainly always been the case, she had never been cheated on and never really felt insecure. Until now. She simply can't explain it, at least now she knows how Nikki felt, when she was worrying about her and Dominic.

This horrible jealously that has consumed her along with her reaction to Nikki's wealth, which had taken her be surprise as well as Nikki, really has her head spinning. She feels like her insides are all twisted up, she feels sick, and she hates herself for it. She needs to get to the bottom of it, before it completely ruins her relationship. She has loved the last few days, but she knows they have both had their heads in the sand.

She has been preparing for her interview all afternoon, after a bit of research she realised that due to her previous experience in Larkhall she could do the job with her eyes closed, especially with her work on the Lifers Unit, this job was primarily based around getting prisoners who are approaching their release date, ready for freedom, to try and decrease reoffending. The job excites her, but she knows the hardest part of the interview will be trying to explain why she left Larkhall in the way she did, and convince them that she is capable of working there again, as this role covers all woman offenders in London and the surrounding areas.

If she gets the job, she will no doubt have to disclose her relationship with Nikki, if she actually still has one, by that time. An afternoon, of thinking combined with Nikki's disappearance, had really put Helen in a terrible mood. She couldn't really face anything, any sort of confrontation today. Although it's only just after 7.30pm, she decides to head for bed, her main plan of action was to just get this interview out of the way, then tackle everything else. Truth is she needs to talk to someone, someone who isn't Nikki. Nikki has Trisha to speak to, Helen needs something similar, and she knows exactly the person. Claire. Happy with her plan, she drifts off into an awkward slumber, only stirring when Nikki crawls into the bed hours later.

The next day passed in a blur, there was a strange tension between the two of them, but neither mentioned it, mindful of Helen's interview in the morning. They managed to get through the day, at times with gritted teeth, but they did it.

And now Helen has just stepped out of her Interview, and is on route to meet Claire, her solicitor pal who she has been friends with since their University days, the friend she had entrusted with Nikki's appeal. The friend she trusted the most in the world. She's happy they have decided to have a liquid lunch, it's a Friday afternoon, and Claire has managed to waggle a half day at work, she they will have the whole afternoon, and the evening if the mood takes them, to talk.

Helen confidently strides into the bar, she feels almost excited, she really believes having the opportunity to talk, to says the things she's feeling out loud will help her immensely. But that will come in time, she hasn't actually told Claire about her and Nikki, as far as she's aware, she's still with Thomas. She spies Claire immediately, and practically runs towards her; she can't help the smile that appears on her face. Claire instantly reciprocates, and rises from her feet to greet her friend.

"Where's that gorgeous boyfriend of yours?" Claire didn't want to beat around the bush, she could tell from Helen's voice on the phone the other day that she desperately needed to talk, and it was almost certainly down to her love life.

Helen smiles ruefully, perhaps this wasn't going to be as easy as first anticipated. She quickly ordered a bottle of wine with the passing waiter, which Claire quirked her eyebrows at, Helen ignores the sideways glance she gets from her friend and just removes her coat and plonks herself down in the chair opposite Claire.

"Well where to start?" The thing is Helen really doesn't know where to start, she looks over at her friend for inspiration, she just stares back at her with an amused look on her face.

"Well, how about you start by answering my question." The smile doesn't leave Claire's face as she speaks, and the cheeky grin on Helen's face right now makes her believe this could turn into quite the session, a good old catch up, like back in their Uni days.

"Thomas and I split up." Helen decided to get that particular bombshell out of the way early doors. Although Claire didn't seem too surprised.

"Oh." Claire can't help the grin that accompanies her reaction. Of course she had inkling that Helen and Thomas had split up, she also had an inkling why, she decides to let Helen know, she kind of has an idea of what's going on.

"Did you manage to find Nikki the other week?" Helen had called Claire who had informed her Scottish friend about the party at Chix, she chances a look up at Helen, to see if she has realised the significance of her words, and she can't help but laugh out loud at the expression on Helen's face.

"I'll take that as a yes then." It's about all she can manage through her laughter.

Helen quickly composes herself, helped greatly by the arrival of the wine to the table, she takes a sip, surely Claire couldn't know about her and Nikki.

She eyes Claire suspiciously as she carefully considers her next words, although if Claire's actions so far are anything to go by, the revelation of her and Nikki's relationship won't be that much of a revelation after all.

"I did find her actually."

"Happy to see you was she?" Claire decides to play it coy, she knew as soon has Helen had asked her to help with Nikki's appeal there was more to it. Helen always took her work very seriously, but she had never gone to the extent to get involved in someone's appeal, not that involved anyway. She knew as soon as she saw them together at Larkhall, the sideways glances the looks of pure love they gave each other, did Helen really think she was that stupid. Truth be told she was surprised when Helen had introduced her to Thomas, she guessed she would have it all explained at some point, and it seems that time has arrived.

The quizzical look doesn't leave Helen's face. She can't cope with dancing around the issue anymore; she decides to just confirm what Claire is obviously thinking.

"So I take it you know me and Nikki are together?"

"Yes." The smile momentarily leaves Claire's face, but it is only for a split second. Helen's reaction ensures it returns immediately.

"Well how the bloody hell do you know that." Helen is genuinely shocked.

Once again through laughter, Claire manages a few words. "Because it's bloody obvious, you goon."

She gets serious, she knows that's not the only bombshell Helen has called her to drop, or at the very least it's not the full story.

"I take it there's trouble in paradise?" Again a look of surprise hits Helen's face, Claire doesn't laugh this time though.

Helen really is confused, how does Claire know so much, surely she doesn't give herself away that much?! "Have you been spying on me?"

Claire stifles a smile. "Come on Hel's, I know you've called me here for a reason, and I don't think this little coming out party is the only reason. Is it?"

She emphasises the last two words, time to stop playing, she is worried about her friend, and the current expression on Helen's face is telling her she is right to be worried.

Helen knows she needs to talk, that is what she brought Claire here for after all. But she just doesn't really know where to start, she feels a little embarrassed, she knows all the issues between her and Nikki are mainly down to her.

"I'm just finding it really hard to adjust." The words fall from Helen's mouth as barely a whisper, and as she says them she instantly feels her eyes filling up, and a lump jumps into her throat.

Claire reaches over and strokes her friend's hand. "Well why don't you tell me all about it."

"It's just so stupid." Helen sighs, her heart heavy.

"Hey. This is me okay. Just tell me everything."

Helen nods her head, and takes a deep breath. "I guess I just thought that because we love each other so much, everything else would just fall into place. It just hasn't been like that, everything has been so difficult."

"Why do you think it's been so hard?" Claire's solicitor brain jumps in momentarily.

"I really don't know when it's just the two of us, its fine. But when the real world starts to creep in, everything seems to go wrong."

"Maybe that's because the real world is something the two of you have never had to deal with before."

"Maybe, but I'm feeling things that I've never felt before. Insane jealousy and I don't know how to cope with how rich she is."

Claire bursts out laughing, she almost feels bad when she sees how serious Helen is being. "My, my, my. It seems Helen Stewart is human after all."

Helen can't help but laugh a little. "Claire I'm serious, should it be this hard?"

"Absolutely." This gets Helen's attention. "That's how you know it's worth it in the end."

They spent the next few hours catching up and chatting mostly about Nikki. By the end of the evening Claire was convinced that Nikki and Helen belong together, and Helen feels a lot better about things, just for talking them through and actually saying the words out loud. Now she just needs to talk to Nikki, but she's feeling a lot more positive.

Part 6

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