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 6

Nikki has decided to loiter at the club tonight, Helen called earlier, and she's still out with Claire, and sounded more than a little tipsy, so Nikki wanted to be in the city in case she needs her. Its relatively early still, the club is open, but it's not at all busy yet, that will change soon. Friday is one of the busiest days.

Nikki had helped Trisha set up, stocked the fridges, sorted the cellar out, and made sure everyone was good to go basically when it does start to get busy. She'd also been introduced to the new staff, she didn't know any of them, it didn't surprise her that none of the previous staff were still around, bar staff turnover is quite high anyway, and in the circumstances surrounding this particular club it stands to reason that no one besides Trisha is still around from four years ago.

She's been quite pleased with how well she's coped, she and Trish had slipped seamlessly back into the old routine. She is currently sitting at the end of the bar; Trish is putting the last few touches to behind the bar.

"Do you want a drink Nik?" She looks up as she says it, and instantly see's the smile on Nikki's face. She looks lost in thought, Trish can't help but mirror Nikki's smile.

Without waiting for an answer from Nikki, she opens a bottle of beer and plonks it down in front of the tall woman, this seems to bring Nikki from her reverie, she looks quizzically, first at the bottle and then at Trish.

"To celebrate your first night back at the club." She states nonchalantly.

"I'm not officially back yet?"

"Nik, you've helped my set up the entire club, you've been here for hours, it's a pretty good first step. One that I'd like to drink to."

Nikki smiles, she had been so busy helping Trisha with everything, that she hadn't actually realised that they had got everything done, she was right though, she had been there for hours, and the panic that had consumed her last time she was here hadn't surfaced once. Now that is something to drink to.

"Well alright then." She smiles and clinks her beer with the one Trisha had just got for herself.

They hear commotion at the main entrance, and a smile immediately hits both their faces, when they see Helen and Claire stumble through the door, giggling like school girls, arms linked. Helen instantly sees Nikki at the end of the bar and strides over; she plants a small kiss on her lips, and then pulls back with an adorable smile on her face. Nikki can't stifle the laugh.

"You, Helen Stewart, are drunk."

"Nooooooooo." It's almost half a word and half a laugh as Helen says it. Nikki just laughs and looks past Helen to Claire.

"Hi Claire, good to see you again." They give each other a brief hug.

"You remember Trisha from court?" Nikki gestures over to the blonde still standing behind the bar.

"Of course." She shakes Trisha's hand over the bar.

"Right you lot, go and grab yourself a booth up in VIP, and I'll send a waitress up with some drinks for you."

Nikki begins to protest. "Trish, I'm helping remember."

"Baby steps Nik, you've done more than enough already. Go and enjoy yourself."

Trish winks at Nikki, and she loves her for being so understanding. She shows Helen and Claire to the VIP section, this could turn out to be an excellent evening.

The overriding sound in the Wade-Stewart household this morning is of Alka-Seltzer tablets dropping into water, and the subsequent fizzing. It's fair to say that hangover's are the order of the morning. It had been a great night though, and they were happy that really last night had been their first actual return to the real world, they had gone out, with friends, the club was involved, and truth be told it had been a relative success.

Nikki is feeling a lot more positive about her and Helen actually working in the 'real world'. She is currently lounged on the sofa, and can't help but laugh out loud when Helen slowly trudges into the room, nursing her own glass of fizzy water. Looking a lot worse than Nikki feels, which is understandable, she was out a lot longer than she was, from lunchtime in fact. Helen isn't impressed at Nikki's chuckling.

"What's so funny Wade?"

Nikki can't help but smile. "Nothing's funny." She stifles the laughter. "I'm just incredibly happy."

Helen now can't help the smile that forms on her own face now, she joins Nikki on the couch, she downs the rest of what she hopes is her hangover cure and snuggles into the tall former lifer. Nikki accommodates her immediately and unquestionably.

Nikki knows she can't put it off any longer, and as much as she doesn't want to ruin this morning's hangover love in, she knows they really do need to talk. Helen can tell something is coming from the way Nikki exhales, she can practically hear the cogs turning in her head, she braces herself, she too knows they need to talk.

"How did the job interview go yesterday?" May as well start off simple.

Helen cringes slightly as she remembers it, truth be told it had gone really well. That was until she was asked why she had left Larkhall.

"It was alright. They asked me about Larkhall."

Nikki instantly knows that, that can't have gone well. Confirmed by Helen puffing out her cheeks and simultaneously switching positions so she's facing Nikki, who just waits for her to elaborate.

"I didn't know what to say, so I just um'd and ah'd and came up with some weak excuse, about not gelling too well with my work mates."

She shakes her head as she remembers almost embarrassed. "But other than that it was a breeze, I'm more than qualified to do the job."

Nikki smiles. She's not sure how she would feel about Helen working at Larkhall again, although she wouldn't be based there permanently like before, she would have to spend some time there. Helen watches Nikki digest the information; she has a question of her own for her.

"How did it go with Trisha?"

Nikki swallows hard, she's been dreading this moment, her heart literally sinks. "She's had the house valued."

This appears to be all she's going to offer Helen in the way of information at the moment. Helen just glares at her with a questioning expression. "And?"

"She reckons we should get about six and a half million for it." She can't bring herself to look at Helen so just hangs her head and expects the worst.

Helen's eye balls are practically on stalks. She knew the house would be worth a lot, but wow. "Oh my god."

That's strange, that squeal of oh my god from Helen, didn't sound like it was tinged with anger, it sounded full of excitement. Nikki looks up at her like she's suddenly grown a second head. Helen doesn't appear to have noticed.

"Nikki, that's amazing." It's at this point Helen seems to take in the look on Nikki's face. She immediately reminisces back to the bank situation last week and completely understands Nikki's apprehension.

"Look, I know I acted weird last week, but it was just a lot to take in, you being that well off." She is choosing her words very carefully.

"But I know I was being stupid. Nikki you worked hard for that money, you should be bloody proud."

Nikki's heart nears bursting point. Helen can tell her lover is feeling fairly emotional, so decides to try and lighten the tone a little.

"Plus I've realised that you can buy me lots of pretty things." She wiggles her eyebrows and smirk's at Nikki as she says it.

"I'll buy you anything you like."

"I'll hold you to that Nikki. I've got very expensive taste."

"And very good taste, if your taste in women is anything to go by." Now it's Nikki's turn to smirk.

"Only the best for me sweetheart." Helen leans in for a kiss. Nikki hopes that Helen really has come to terms with her wealth, but deep down she thinks the issue may rear its ugly head again in the future. But for now she puts this thought to one side, now she has another issue firmly on her mind.

The club. She had wanted to talk to someone since her episode at the club the other day. She knew she could have spoken to Trisha about it, no question. But really and truly, it was Helen she wanted to share it with, perhaps selfishly it was Helen she wanted to help her overcome it. Helen can instantly tell the playful mood from mere seconds earlier has gone, there go those cogs again. She just waits patiently, slightly worried about what subject Nikki might broach next.

"I went to the club after I went to see Trish the other day."

Okay that was the last thing Helen was expecting, she not really sure where she is going with this. Nikki see's the obvious confusion on Helen's face, and this spurs her on.

"I had like a flash back." She stumbles over her words; she's not sure how to explain it. Helen can see she's struggling; she grabs her hand and places it in her own, and gently strokes it, urging Nikki to continue. She does.

"I had a flash back to the night Trisha was attacked." Helen instantly sees the emotion return to Nikki, she knows it can't have been a pleasant memory, but she had no idea it was still affecting her this much, she squeezes Nikki's hand, letting her know she's here for her.

"It was awful, I couldn't breathe. It was like I was back there in that very moment. I ran, I just had to get away."

Tears start forming and spilling from her eyes. Helen's heart breaks, she hates that she had no clue that Nikki was going through this. She pulls her into a hug and kisses the top of her head.

"Sweet heart, it sounds like you had a panic attack." Helen can't help but voice her next sentence, it's almost like she's thinking out loud.

"You were fine in the club last night. What was different?"

Nikki looks up from her snug sanctuary, and thinks about the question Helen has posed. "I don't know, the club was empty when I was there before, but more than anything, it was the office I think. I stayed away from there last night."

"Is that where it happened?"

"Yes." Nikki feels physically sick just thinking about it.

"Have you thought about counselling?" Helen's brain snaps immediately into work mode.

Truth be told, Nikki had thought about counselling. "I'm not sure it's really for me."

Helen smiles, she love's this woman so much. "I guess we'll have to get through it together then."

Nikki smiles, that's exactly what she wanted to hear. Helen continues. "How about this afternoon, we head to the club and face your fear together?"

Nikki's a little apprehensive, and surprised by Helen's suggestion. "You really think that's a good idea?"

Without a seconds hesitation she replies. "Absolutely. Nikki, there's nothing we can't get through together."

The sincerity on Helen's face makes Nikki well up again, Helen just smiles, her girlfriend can be a soppy sod sometimes. But she genuinely believes the statement she's just made, and will stop at nothing to help Nikki. The love of her life.

Part 7

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