DISCLAIMER: The characters used in this fiction are not mine, they are the property of Shed Productions and Talkback Thames.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This came to mind after incessantly watching episode after episode of Bad Girls one week and then switching to The Bill and my tapes the week after. I wanted to combine the two and this is the result which I hope you all like! Thanks for reading.
SPOILERS: Bad Girls- up to series two. The Bill- no specific time frame, slight spoilers from months ago.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By CharmedLassie


Part Three

'Can I come in?'

'No,' Yvonne answered, not looking up from the bed where she was perusing a magazine. Well, perusing was the wrong word since Nikki knew for a fact none of it was going in- she'd been staring at the same spot for the last few minutes.

She went in anyway, and perched on the end of the bed. 'Are you alright?'

Yvonne looked up, her beady eyes taking in everything. 'What do you want, Nikki?'

'You know what I want.'

'No, I know what your mate the copper wants. I'm asking you.' Nikki didn't answer. 'She got something on you, is it blackmail? Can't see you helping out the cops otherwise.'

'Yeah,' she replied shortly. 'And I don't see myself doing this if she hadn't. But I'm involved now and so are you. All you have to do is give us something on Fenner, something concrete and it'll be over.'

'I don't help out the police.' Indifferent, she turned away. 'Shut the door on the way out.'

Nikki sighed with frustration. 'Right, fine. But you might want to think about Charlie and what this could do to him. You never know, he might deserve it.'

Sam was drained but nevertheless she was making her way to Jo's cell, keeping up with the job. At least she could still kid herself the investigation was the reason she was calling on Jo. Of course, it couldn't be anything to do with something else. But the last few hours- revealing her life to Marilyn Fenner, not to mention Helen Stewart- had knocked the breath out of her. Sometimes she wondered how she was still standing. This was one of those times.

Jo was alone in the cell, resting on her bed with her face against the wall. Sitting on the edge of the bed Sam put a hand on her shoulder tentatively. 'Jo?'

The brown head turned quickly. 'Sam, you scared the life out of me!'

'Well, you were miles away,' she answered, moving her hand away a few inches. Jo moved over so she was facing her colleague, exposing a series of growing bruises on her knuckles. 'What happened? Did someone touch you?'

'It was more like the wall. Don't worry about it.'

'I will, thanks very much,' Sam said, taking the hand up in her palm and gently caressing a finger over the sores. 'Does it hurt?'

'Strangely, not now.'

Sam's eyes shot up, meeting a tender face. 'Jo…'

'What? Come on, Sam, tell me.'

She cleared her throat. 'What happened with the wall?'

'We had a misunderstanding. Listen, there's something I need to tell you. About the case,' she hastily added. 'Nikki's not the only one who knows. Yvonne Atkins found out earlier.'

'What? How the hell did she just 'find out'?'

Jo shrugged. 'Because I told her.'

Pulling herself to her feet, Sam paced around the cell. 'Damn it! Well, that's it isn't it? We either get out of here or you end the top dog's barbecue.'

'No, I can sort it,' Jo answered, coming up behind her and taking her shoulders. Sam stiffened then relaxed. 'You do trust me don't you?'

She turned, almost reluctantly but not quite. Examining the worried face of the brunette directly in front of her she relented. Lifting up an arm from her side she ran a finger down her friend's neck, causing goosebumps to appear before her eyes. Swallowing, Sam raised her eyes to Jo's and then found herself pressed up against the masquerading inmate during a powerful kiss.

'I thought I'd find you in here.'

As always an uninhibited smile crept onto Nikki's face when she heard Helen's voice behind her in the empty library. Twisting her head she received a quick kiss from her girlfriend before she sat beside her. 'You know me so well.'

'Mmm, that is my intention,' answered Helen with her trademark mischievous grin. 'How are things?'

'Good. Well, they will be as soon as Fenner's sorted and Jo's out of my hair.'

'Why, what's happened?'

'Oh, just Jo telling Yvonne the truth, that's all. On her own head be it.'

'Come on, Nikki, you've got to see they're actually doing us a favour here.'

'Yeah, and they could still blow it all couldn't they?'

Helen shook her head. 'They won't. Besides, it could all be over soon. Sam and I paid Marilyn Fenner a house call earlier. I think we might have talked some sense into her.'

Nikki looked at her, suddenly interested. 'Yeah? I thought she was all 'stand by your man'?'

'Well, her man's sleeping on the sofa by the look of it. And Sam was really good, managed to talk some sense into her. If she retracts her statement and someone gets Shell to reinstate hers…'

The pause drew her eyes up. 'No way, Helen. I'm not talking to her. The last time I tried to have a civil conversation with her she threatened to rip my eyes out.'

'What's your definition of civil?' Helen questioned innocently.

'That's not the issue. She wouldn't listen to me.'

But Helen wasn't one for giving up. 'Do you know someone she will listen to?'

She sighed. 'We could try Denny but she looks down on her.' Nikki frowned with concentration then smiled slightly. 'She's pretty keen on Betts though. Ever since she did something for her, don't know what but it meant a lot to Shell.'

'Well, if you work on Denny I'll talk to Karen. Is that okay?'

'Is that the only reason you came to find me?' She couldn't stop the slight bitterness in her voice but Helen immediately twined their hands together and drew her close.

'I think you know it isn't. Listen, we're submitting your case to the court of appeal. Now it may be a long shot at the moment, but we're hoping they'll consider it because of the new evidence.'

'And if they don't?' asked Nikki quietly.

'Then we find another way. Another victim, whatever. I'm getting you out of this place, I promise you that.'

'You okay?' Jo questioned tentatively. The woman she was cradling hadn't said anything in a few minutes and the copper in Jo was starting to sniff a problem. 'I mean, am I… I don't know. Am I confusing you even more?'

Sam shook her head and lifted it up. 'No. I'm just thinking about the case that's all.'

'That's the way to romance a girl, Sam.'

She smiled. 'Sorry. But I was thinking that when it's over I can think about this. Us. I can't deal with it now.'

'And that would be the cue for me to move my arm,' Jo muttered, dislodging it from its curved position around Sam's neck.

'Hang on, did I say that?'

She frowned. 'Now I'm the one confused. What do you want from me?'

'I don't know.' Sam dragged herself to her feet. 'Which is the reason I should leave.' She reached the door and looked back. 'I'm not saying I regret kissing you, alright?'

Jo nodded. 'Okay. Are you gonna tell the DCI about Yvonne knowing?'

'No. I thought it best not to tell him about Nikki or Helen either, that way we can still keep it quiet about their relationship.'

'Yeah, good idea. What's your next move?'

'Well, I was going to walk into the lion's den.'

'What?' Shaking her head, she said, 'You're not going anywhere near him.'

'Don't go soft on me now,' Sam answered, straightened her ruffled uniform. 'I'll be fine.'

'Sam, forget it!' Jo insisted. 'We know what he's capable of.'

'This is my job. Yours too. Best get on with it.'

Before Jo could protest anymore she was gone. Flopping down onto her bunk she briefly contemplated battering the wall again but it wouldn't do any good.

The thought of Sam being alone with that slimeball was more than she could stand. In the last few days she'd learned a lot of surprising things about screws and it usually turned out they were worse than the women. On that note, what else could Jim Fenner be capable of if he was locking up murderers and torturers like Shell Dockley for a living?

Being locked up was something she couldn't stomach. How did the true criminals manage it, the ones locked up for twenty or thirty years without hope of early release? It wasn't something she'd considered when she was arresting people, sending them to places like this but looking around her she'd seen more people who'd been victims of circumstance than she could shake a stick at. She'd never contemplated she would ever feel anything apart from contempt for people like Nikki Wade but she was fast changing her mind. These women were more of a protection blanket than she thought the guys at the nick were. Sure, she had a laugh with Phil occasionally and uniform could be a hoot when they wanted to be but she didn't think they'd ever put their necks out for her. Not really. And hadn't Nikki put her neck on the line for Yvonne? Really, Nikki was doing that for her. They were past believing blackmail was the root of her offer to help. She wanted Fenner out and her life back to normal. And Jo had an inkling she might also have a sense of duty to protect her. No doubt that could come in handy.

Still, she couldn't imagine Nikki being able to do much if Fenner lashed out at Sam- or worse. Nope, she had to go above Nikki's head on this one. Sticking her head out of the cell door she called to Di Barker a few metres away, 'I need to see the Governor.'

'She's in a meeting at the moment. Won't be free till later this afternoon. What's it about? Maybe I can help.'

'It's something Miss Betts knows about.' She thought fast. 'I'm starting appeal proceedings. It's pretty important.'

Barker nodded. 'I promise I'll let her know the second she comes out.'

'Karen, your secretary said you were in a meeting.'

The blonde rolled her eyes as she moved past Helen to open her office door. 'Well, Simon's having the decorators in, postponed it.'

'What, again? He likes a new colour for every month doesn't he?'

The Wing Governor laughed silkily. 'Come on in. Did you want something?'

'Mmm.' Helen sat down and waited for Karen to do the same. 'Would you be able to have a word with Shell Dockley? Get her to retract her retraction, if you know what I mean.'

'Have you spoken to Samantha about this? Not that I'm questioning your judgement or anything but I don't know if it's the avenue they want to explore.'

'They're open to anything, trust me. Sam and I paid Marilyn Fenner a visit this morning, there's a very good chance she'll change her own statement about the Dockley incident. That and Michelle's own claim would probably be enough to sink him. But if you get one thing to stick the rest is bound to come out of the woodwork.'

Karen frowned. 'Marilyn was receptive? From what I know about her she's blind to him.'

'He's sleeping on the sofa,' Helen answered. 'Besides, Samantha was very persuasive. I can see why she's a good copper, she could talk the devil out of his cage.'

'Isn't that what she's trying to do?'

Helen chuckled. 'Probably, yes. So, do you think you could talk to Shell? Apparently she trusts you.'

'Well, I hope she does but this is Michelle Dockley we're talking about.'

'The prisoners I talked to think you've got a better chance than anyone.'

'Oh, and who were they?'

Smiling tightly, Helen answered, 'I won't bore you with the details. What's important is that we can get Fenner out of this place in a matter of days if we work fast enough. Will you give it a go?'

'Sure. I'll do it now.'

'Denny, I'm not saying grass Shell up. For Christ's sake, she wants that bastard out of Larkhall as much as the rest of us do.'

'Yeah, but…' The teenager frowned. 'It's still grassing, ain't it?'

'Shell won't get into trouble. All anybody wants is Fenner's head on a platter.'

Nikki inwardly lifted her hopes as her fellow inmate thought that over. Beside them in the four-bed dorm stood Shaz Wylie, her arms crossed petulantly. 'Do it, Den. You said he was a wanker, do it.'

Denny twisted her face then nodded. 'I'll tell you what I know. But it didn't come from me.'

A sharp cough from the door turned everybody's attention in that direction. Nikki closed her eyes briefly then tried a smile. 'Yvonne, alright?'

'Trying a different tack?' she enquired innocently.

'I'm not explaining again.'

Yvonne inclined her head towards the inquisitive eyes of Shaz and Denny. 'Nah, you wouldn't wanna do that would you?'

Jo crossed her mind. 'Did you have a point?'

Walking across the cell, Yvonne answered, 'I collected some photos. Well, Charlie did but I got Lauren to take copies. They show his dealings with Charlie. They're yours, I'll have them delivered where and when you want.'

Hardly daring to believe it, Nikki asked, 'Why the sudden change of heart?'

The former gangster's moll glanced over to Denny. 'I listened to what you said.'

Shell was being brought straight to the office. Karen's opinion was 'why hang around' and Helen was of the same mindset. She had the feeling, what with visits to Marilyn Fenner and Yvonne Atkins finding out, that it was only a matter of time before all was out in the open leaving the two undercover officers in a vulnerable situation. She knew she didn't want that; especially after getting to know Samantha a little better in the last few hours. With any luck everything would be resolved and Fenner would be out of the prison service (and hopefully into a prison of his very own) before they could wink.

A knock on the door indicated the arrival of the blonde lifer. Over behind the desk Karen nodded for Helen to leave. She did so, carefully avoiding eye contact with Shell as she passed. She couldn't resist, however, taking a place next to the door where she could hear the majority of the conversation. Funny, she had never thought of herself as nosy until she'd started this job.

'What's this about?' Shell, immediately on the defensive, as usual. Reminded Helen vaguely of someone else. 'I ain't done nothing.'

Karen appeared to be a master at dealing with her though, something Helen had to admit she'd never been able to do. 'Did I say anything? You haven't done anything, no one's said you have. Alright?'

There was a long pause then a softer voice. 'So what is it then? Social workers called or something?'

Helen had a feeling this was something she wasn't meant to hear. 'No,' Karen replied. 'In all honesty, I don't think they will unless there's a problem.'

'Well, that's what worried me innit? Foster families get up to all sorts, you ask Den.'

'That isn't why I asked you here, Shell. I want you to answer something for me, truthfully. And I trust you will okay?'

'Yeah. Go on.'

'Did Mr Fenner attack you?'

Then came an exasperated sigh. 'I told you, didn't I? I made it up!'

'What if someone was willing to corroborate your story?' pressed Karen. 'Someone else who knew the truth.'

'There's only him.' Another pause. 'And his wife. But she wouldn't… Nah.'

'If she did, would you reconsider?'

In her breast pocket Helen's mobile started vibrating. Cursing silently she moved down the corridor to answer it. 'Helen Stewart.'

'Miss Stewart, it's… Marilyn Fenner. I'm at Hedgefield Police Station. Who should I talk to?'

'Give me one second, Mrs Fenner,' answered Helen breathlessly, pushing through the office door to interrupt the two women within. 'Shell, we've got Mrs Fenner's statement, she's waiting to give it.'

Whilst the blonde lifer absorbed this, Karen questioned, 'What station is she at?'

'Hedgefield, why?'

'Send her to Sun Hill. Jack Meadows'll pay her taxi fare.'

Pressing the phone once again to her ear, she said, 'Yes, Mrs Fenner? You've done the right thing, I assure you. Sun Hill's dealing with the case, if you'd ask for Jack Meadows, the DCI.'

A mumbled uncertain reply and she hung up. Shell looked up with her own lack of certainty. 'What's going on?'

Probably recognising Helen's frown Karen answered, 'It looks like things are slipping into place, Shell. So, what do you say? Do you want to be part of it?'

After a few tense moments Shell nodded. 'Anything to get Fenner.'

Breathing easier, Helen said, 'We've got a few people to inform. Karen?'

'Yes, of course. We'll go to the wing, as soon as I've contacted Jack.'

Sam wasn't convinced of the need for an officer's club on the premises of a prison. These people were responsible for the well-being of hundreds of women and they were offered alcoholic drinks anytime they could escape their duties for a second. Didn't seem altogether sensible. Then again, the employment of people like Fenner and Hollamby didn't seem wise either. Perhaps the Prison Service was just extremely bad at making decisions.

Dominic had hesitantly advised her on where she could find Jim, if she really wanted to disturb him. Those had been the young officer's exact words. If she hadn't already a fair idea of what the man was capable of that would've worried her. Dom and Jim were complete opposites and she knew whose opinion to trust. Still, here she was looking for the bad guy, searching for trouble. She was too aware of why she was really here.

Get Fenner, get out of Larkhall. It was really that simple. She wasn't overly sure things would be clearer on the other side of the bars but she knew they couldn't possibly be blurrier. She wanted out, if fast-tracking with Fenner to get something was the way to do it then so be it.

She spotted the man in question, stubbing out a cigarette at the bar. Aside from the barman, a balding man in the throes of middle-age, they were the only two people in there, a thought that made her determined and worried all at once. Mindful of the way her last conversation with him had gone she walked up to the bar as casually as possible and removed her ID badge, slamming it onto the bar and nodding to the barman. 'Rum and coke please. And go easy on the coke.'

Fenner looked over, plainly false sympathy on his face. 'Aww. Bad day?'

'Doubt you'd care,' she answered, handing over her money and accepting her drink.

'Don't think I do, love,' he replied, downing his own drink. 'Same again, Pete.'

'Getting smashed?' Sam commented, barely sipping from her glass. 'Can't say I blame you, situation you're in.'

He glanced over again. 'What situation?'

'They're all gunning for you, Jim. And that Helen Stewart, she's really got it in for you.'

'Just another thick bitch. You all stick together, don't you?'

'Don't know what Rachel Hicks ever saw in you,' she said, offhandedly twirling her glass around a beer mat. 'Poor kid.' As his eyes travelled all over her face, she added, 'Saw your wife earlier, Jim. Nice woman; Marilyn. Can't think why she married you.'

Pete was at the other end of the bar, the senior officer leaned forward menacingly. 'What the hell are you playing at?'

'I think you and me need to talk. Privately. Meet me in the art room in ten minutes.' Finishing her drink quickly she proceeded out the room, making sure she left the ID badge face up on the bar. Behind her she felt Fenner staring at her. Good; job done.

'Got some news for you, if you want it,' Nikki said as she entered the cell to find Jo pacing around. Fairly difficult to do in a room that size. Any notion she'd had of skirting around the issue to make a point about the filth and their attitude to cons disappeared. 'What is it, what's going on?'

Jo twisted at the sound of her voice, allowing Nikki to recognise the worry on the face for what it really was. 'Sam's going after him on her own.'

'What? Why?' Nikki recalled the conversation they'd had at breakfast, it seemed so long ago now. 'Have you two had a fight or something?'

'The opposite. And she wants out of here.'

'So she's trying to, what, seduce him or something?'

A look of pure horror settled on the copper's face. 'She wouldn't.' She closed her eyes. 'It's just what she would do. Nikki, what do I do?'

If the situation hadn't been so dire she would've chuckled at the mere idea of a copper asking her advice. As it was she frowned. 'We need Helen in on this, she's the only one with a set of keys. Come on.' Taking the lead she left the cell, glancing up the wing and spotting three figures coming through the gate- Helen, Betts and Shell.

'Bloody Barker said Betts was in a meeting,' Jo hissed as she emerged from the cell as well. 'I'll kill her.'

'And I'm the one in prison,' muttered Nikki, making her way up to the trio. 'Miss Stewart, Miss Betts, I need to talk to you.'

Helen caught her eye and then focussed on Jo coming up behind her. 'We need to speak with you, Joanne.'

'Look, just get in the office, the lot of you,' Karen said, looking to Dockley as they moved. 'Thanks, Shell.'

'Thanks for what?' Nikki asked quietly as she proceeded towards the office with Jo on her heel.

Helen was obviously trying to contain her smile. 'Marilyn Fenner's making a statement and Shell's reinstating hers.'

'You're kidding? How did you work that one?'

'I didn't, Karen did. You were right about her having influence over Shell.'

'You're not the only one with good news,' answered Nikki, then she looked back at Jo. 'And there's news too.'

Keeping any questions to herself until they were safely in the office, Helen let Karen join them and close the door before she spoke. 'Okay, what's going on?'

'Samantha's gone to meet Fenner on her own,' Nikki announced, gaining a puzzled look from Karen in the process.

'Hang on,' the Wing Governor interrupted. 'Is there anyone around here who doesn't know we've got two undercover officers?'

'Fenner,' said Jo. 'At the moment anyway.'

'What's changed? I was with Samantha earlier, she didn't seem particularly… What is she?'

'Eager to leave,' answered Jo and Nikki saw the look of realisation on Helen's face.

'Well, we've got a statement from Shell Dockley, Marilyn Fenner's on her way to Sun Hill,' Karen said, business-like.

'And Yvonne Atkins is willing to supply photographs of Fenner colluding with her husband,' added Nikki, glancing at Jo to acknowledge she had been on the right track. 'He's been arranging conjugal visits in exchange for cash.'

Karen shook her head. 'It gets better, doesn't it? I'm assuming there's enough to charge him?' she asked, directing her attentions at Jo.

'Yeah, I'd say so. And even if we haven't, we'll get him in custody and worry about it then. But we have to find Sam quickly, I don't want her alone with him.'

'Fine, I'll…' Karen trailed off as she looked out of the glass panes. 'There's Dominic, maybe he's seen her.'

As Karen went to investigate Nikki moved slightly closer to Helen while Jo drifted into her own world. 'Well done.'

'Likewise.' Helen turned her face so they were centimetres apart. 'Joanne's worried, I presume?'

'I think anybody in her situation would be. I remember you up on that roof after Zandra…' She stopped, a little choked. 'Helen, I hope you know what you mean to me.'

'Believe me, Nikki, I do.' As her girlfriend smiled their secret smile, Karen came back in. The spell broken, Nikki backed off.

'Apparently Fenner's in the officer's club, Samantha asked after him about half an hour ago.'

Jo stood suddenly. 'Okay, let's go.'

Karen nodded curtly then headed out of the office, it didn't occur to Nikki to stay where she was. The four of them were walking out of the door into the yard before the Governor even noticed. 'What are you doing?'

'I've got a vested interest in this, so has half of Larkhall.'

'Nikki, you're a security risk, I'm sorry but…'

'This is wasting time!' Jo said heatedly.

'Look, she's not going anywhere, okay, Karen?' Helen soothed the troubled waters. 'You've got my word on that.'

Accepting that, however reluctantly, Karen carried on over the stone, the troop followed. Nikki could feel Jo's frustration when the bar was empty aside from the barman. Helen didn't give up the way Nikki probably would've though, she spotted something and marched straight up to the bar. Picking up a small object, she turned it over in her hands. Both Jo and Nikki moved forward for a closer look. 'It's Sam's ID card. She's drawn something on the back, I can't make it out.'

'Here.' Jo took it, examined it with her copper's eye. 'It's just a sketch. Wait, Sam's not an idiot, she wouldn't just go off with him. What about the art room?'

Nikki looked to Helen who shrugged. 'It's logical, I suppose.'

'Some of these women can actually draw,' said Sam, flipping through one of the pads she'd found on the shelf. 'It's funny, you don't think of prisoners as having talents, they're just objects, names in a book.'

'That kind of talk made me think I could trust you.' Fenner was standing by the window, his arms crossed. 'But you're nothing are you? Some jumped-up bitch.'

'Then why are you bothering with me, Jim? Oh, I forgot, you want to know what I've been discussing with your wife.'

'I'm not overly fussed, love. You've just got one hell of an imagination.'

'Do you want to know what I do? Wanna know a bit about me?' Her stomach was tightening but she tried to keep her face clear. Jo. Jo. She was doing this for Jo. 'I'll start at the beginning, shall I?'

'Think you've confused me with someone who gives a toss.' Nevertheless, he looked at her. 'Go on then, I'll humour you.'

'Okay. Thank you.' She pulled herself away from the safety of the desk to stand opposite him. 'Well, you need to know that Karen Betts reported you to the police and the MET responded by sending two undercover officers in to investigate.'

'You?' If she wasn't mistaken, his voice was crackling. 'But you know it's shit.'

'Oh, I've seen enough of you, Jim.'

'Can't convict on speculation. Besides, I'm clean.'

'You're up to your neck. But you're right, I can't prove it. No one'll grass you up, not even Dockley. As for your wife…'

'Yeah, Marilyn trusts me. And Dockley, poor cow reckons I'm in love with her. Told her, you see. Women love that crap.'

She shook her head. 'Not all of us.'

'Real women. What are you, some kind of dyke?'

To pretend she wasn't shaken by the word was a lie. She knew she had a visible reaction, she knew he spotted it. For a moment she forgot her objective and allowed herself to be pulled back into the world of 'what ifs' that had been surrounding her since the beginning of the assignment. 'You're unbelievable, you know that?'

'I'm right, aren't I?' He laughed. 'God, I thought Dockley was desperate. At least she can get some of the real thing.'

'You sure she wanted it?' Sam questioned, regaining some of her verve. 'I heard she wasn't the only one you gave special treatment. Rachel Hicks?'

Perhaps he lost his composure, ever so slightly anyway. 'I never touched her.'

'I didn't suggest you touched her. You jump to conclusions quite a bit don't you?'

'I assumed you…'

'As much as I'd love to know what happened to Rachel, I doubt you'd tell me. I could do you real damage.'

'Mmm.' Very deliberately, he lifted his eyes to her. 'That's saying people would believe you. Betts is on a mission, Stewart by her side I bet. It's a witch-hunt.'

'And you're an innocent victim, I suppose?'

'I haven't done anything wrong, if that's what you mean.'

Her profiling gene kicked in, she couldn't help it despite her noticing that the cavalry had yet to arrive. For the first time since she left the club she faced the prospect that perhaps Jo, Helen, Karen or whoever else she thought might find her badge could miss its meaning she was stuck here without backup. Still, she could handle Fenner. Or, if she couldn't, she could at least get his confession before he… 'Did you rape Rachel?'

'I didn't do anything she didn't want.'

'Yeah, I've heard that before. You reckon that because you've got a uniform you can do anything you want. Coppers are the same.'

'What, you?' He seemed surprised, it crossed her mind she could be winning his trust.

'I've had my fair share of cover-ups.'

Fenner raised an eyebrow and smiled. 'Really?'

'Jack's on his way,' Karen said, rushing out of the gatehouse. 'He said you should try and make contact, Jo. Something about your…'

'I've done a bit of negotiating work,' Jo answered, only thankful that Jack hadn't told them to wait for the backup. 'Come on.'

The trio followed her, Karen occasionally taking the lead to open a gate. The art room seemed a million miles away, she was walking in a nightmare. What Sam had taken it upon herself to do was ridiculous, it stank of Samantha Nixon's handiwork. If she hadn't been so damn worried she would've been angry. But, no, she was completely and utterly bowled over by this feeling of helplessness and the thought that she was actually going to do something was all that was keeping her feet in a straight line.

At one corner, while Helen and Karen conversed a little way ahead, Nikki grabbed her arm. 'Are you alright?'

She had to admit she was touched. 'I don't know. If he's laid a finger on her I'll…'

'Oi, you can't be thinking like that. It's not the right way to deal with it.'

In front of them Karen stooped to unlock a gate and Helen glanced backwards as Jo hissed, 'You wouldn't do exactly the same thing?'

'I did, remember?' Nikki answered sharply. 'And look where it got me.'

That was food for thought. Jo looked to Helen who quickly turned her attentions back to Karen. 'And look what you gained.'

Nikki smiled a little. 'Barbara used to talk about fate, soul mates. Never believed it until…'

She didn't need to finish that sentence. Jo nodded and began walking again. 'I don't know about all that. But I do need Sam out of there. I need to tell her how I…'

'Come on,' Nikki said determinedly.

None of them said a word until they got to the art room. Jo then found herself forcefully pushing past the other three to get her ear to the door first. She was relieved when she heard the dulcet tones of her colleague. She was laughing. 'He claimed brutality, of course…'

'Oh, of course,' Fenner chimed in. Even the sound of his voice made Jo's skin crawl. Plus there was an element to it, one she mistrusted implicitly. She hoped Sam had noticed it.

'But my bosses trust me.'

'What, enough to send you in this dump? That's more like a suicide mission for you, what's more they know it.' Jo inwardly frowned- what had Sam hoped to achieve by telling him? She was in an enclosed space with someone they knew to be violent and she'd admitted to being a copper and, presumably, her objective undercover? Could it be that Detective Sergeant Nixon didn't have a plan for once? 'I'm surprised the cons haven't had you. Any of 'em know?' He was truly interested, he didn't sound the least bit intimidated.

'Oh, Yvonne Atkins knows. She's been quite helpful actually.'

There was a lengthy pause during which Jo found questioning looks being shot at her by both Helen and Karen. Nikki appeared to realise it was best to leave her to it. 'I bet she has,' he said finally. 'The bloody godmother. Suppose she came up with some line about me fixing her husband some special time did she?'

'How'd you guess?'

'Well, she's been bleating it about the wing. I was bound to find out.'

'It's not true or anything then?'

Jo couldn't fathom why she felt that was the moment to speak up, but suddenly she felt the tide was turning. Whatever trap Fenner thought he was luring Sam into, he could forget it. 'Jim Fenner, this is DC Jo Masters, Sun Hill CID. Can I come in?'

Sam closed her eyes as Jo's voice rang through the air. Fenner's face shot towards the door then looked furiously at her. 'Oh, that's your game is it you bitch? Got them listening, your copper friends.'

'I didn't know they were there,' she tried, seeing the anger in his eyes as he strode across the room. 'I was trying to cut a deal.'

'You think I believed any of that shit?' Reaching, he grabbed her hair, pulling her to her feet. 'What do they know?'

She squirmed to get her head out of his grasp but to no avail. 'Look, I don't…'

'Stop lying!'

'Jo!' she shouted through her clenched teeth. 'What…'

'Okay, Jim,' answered Jo, clearly through the wood. 'I'll level with you. Shell Dockley's reinstated her statement, your wife's making one at the moment. You'll be up on an assault charge before you know it. Yvonne Atkins is also cooperating with the investigation. You're in deep shit, you'd be better handing yourself in now.'

His face clouded, he looked lost for a minute. Sam took that opportunity to pull out of his grip though he was still between her and the door. 'Marilyn wouldn't say anything, she loves me.'

Sam herself was first to reply. 'Well, maybe a rapist isn't what she wants as a husband, not to mention a father to her children.'

'Oh, what do you know?' He rounded back on her. 'Don't suppose you've ever been in love, you dyke.'

'You can stop throwing that at me, Jim,' she answered, mindful that Jo was on the other side of the door. 'At least I've never harassed someone into suicide.'

'What Rachel did was her own bloody fault! She was too weak, would've done it somewhere else if not here.'

'Maybe somewhere else she wouldn't have been sleeping with a bastard like you.'

He lost his restraint once again, hurtling his fist at her and knocking her to the ground. As he leered over her she became all too conscious of the fact that he had locked the door behind them. It wasn't impossible for someone to get in, but it was a bit more difficult. Scrambling back to her feet she found herself flat against the wall. 'Back off, back off now.'

Jo very nearly slammed her fist against the wall, instead she thumped it into her leg. As the initial pain subsided, she moved away from the door to whisper to Nikki, 'We need to get in there.'

'What about Jack?' Karen said from nearby.

'I don't care, I'm not leaving him with Sam any longer. Nikki, can you help me?'

The lifer didn't hesitate. 'We'll break the door down if we have to.'

Aiming a kick at his stomach Sam was rewarded when it struck even lower and he slipped to the floor with pain. As she tried to hop over him, however, he reached out, grabbed her leg, and brought her down on top of him. Feeling his body so close repulsed her but his strong arms ensured he manoeuvred his way so he was the one in charge. Beneath his trousers she felt him pulse. 'Get off me.'

'You want it rough?' She struggled against him. 'Eh? Come on, Samantha, tell me.'

'Is this what you did to Rachel?' she managed to ask.

'Oh, Rachel wanted it, she came to me. Dockley too.'

He tried pressing his lips against hers but she squirmed. 'I supposed you think you're irresistible.'

'Yeah, well, it's not my fault. Fella wouldn't last long in here without someone offering it on a plate. Easy to understand.'

'Tell me you raped Rachel!' she yelled, hearing the door being bashed in. 'I want to hear it.'

'Stupid kid asked for it!'

Summoning her last bit of strength she wrestled him away as the door buckled. Behind him she saw a group enter, she recognised Jo's battling figure instantly. It was Jo and Nikki Wade who dragged Fenner kicking and screaming into the corner while Helen Stewart leaned down to help her up. 'Are you alright?'

'I'm fine. I just wanted to hear him admit it, whether it could stand up in court or not.'

Helen's face showed her appreciation and understanding. 'I've waited for him to admit to… something. I can't believe he got away with it, right under my nose.'

Laughing shakily, she said, 'He just tried to rape me with a copper outside the door and half the MET on the way. Don't try and work it out.'

Nodding, Helen moved away as Jo came over, fresh from securing Fenner to a chair with an artfully placed piece of string. Sam wasn't sure what she was expecting- anger, affection, disbelief- but Jo made all of that redundant by pulling her straight into her arms. 'You stupid cow. What were you playing at?'

'I knew you'd get here,' she said, her earlier faith being restored at the sight. It had started to wane a little earlier. 'Jo, I… I'm sorry, I just needed to get us out of here. Get a confession out of him, whatever I could do.'

Realising she was crying Jo didn't pull away but let the tears fall into her brown hair. 'I get that. But you could've told me what you were planning.'

'I didn't know… I admit, that was stupid.'

'And the rest of it was a good idea?' Jo asked, finally pulling away and wiping the tears from under Sam's eyes with her sleeve. 'Sam, I don't know if now's the time to say this but I…'

'I think I do too,' Sam interrupted quickly. 'But… I don't want to hear it yet.'

Thankfully, Jo nodded and turned back to Fenner who was being guarded (or should that be, goaded) by Nikki. 'Jack better hurry up, I think we could get done again for police brutality.'

'Nikki, come away,' Helen said, noticing Karen's disapproving stare. 'I'll take you back to the wing.'

Nikki took one last long look at Fenner then followed her out into the corridor. When they were safely away from the art room she stopped and turned. 'How long do you think he'll get?'

'Not long enough,' answered Helen. 'But it's a start. Perhaps things'll start coming out of the woodwork, other people might be willing to talk. He might get inside and never get out.'

'Here's hoping.' Nikki glanced around and stole a kiss. 'I'm so glad it wasn't you in there.'

'I saw Jo's anxiety,' she admitted. 'But, you! Stopping her going in all guns blazing, I'm very impressed.'

'I've come a long way, Helen. I'm not about to wreck things before the appeal. I want to get out. I'm going to get out.'

'That's the spirit,' she smiled, squeezing her hand then breaking away. 'The police'll probably want to interview you.'

'For a crime I didn't commit?' replied Nikki with a sarcastically raised eyebrow. 'That's a first.'

'Mmm, tell me about it.'

'Oi!' Nikki playfully slapped her as they began moving again.

'Where's Jo?' Jack asked as the uniformed officers took a more subdued Fenner out of the room.

Sam watched him until the last then turned her attentions back to the DCI. 'She's gone to clear her cell, I think. We've got enough on him, haven't we?'

'Even with a good lawyer he's looking at eight years,' said Jack with more than a little satisfaction. 'Well done, Sam.'

'It was more Jo than me, Guv,' she said. 'She did all the hard work.'

'You just mopped up, eh?' He smiled. 'You both did your share. Debrief back at the nick in an hour.'

She nodded. 'I'll tell Jo.'

As she left the room she saw Karen sidling up to her boss. Well, fair play to her, Jack wasn't too bad of a catch and, besides, romance did seem to grow out of friendships. And, yes, she was thinking of her and Jo. Actually, romance had blossomed from something of a mutual hatred there. Funny how things worked out.

So Fenner had got his. That was something, Nikki supposed. The wing wasn't buzzing with it yet but by lights-out it would be. The night-calls would be interesting at any rate and she didn't doubt Shell'd share her own part in it, gain back some respect. Yvonne would be above it all, at least until it went to trial and she had to give evidence. Nikki hoped against hope that her fellow prisoners wouldn't withdraw their statements- it was bad enough for Fenner to be allowed near women anyway but to expel him only for him to come back would be terrible.

'You look like you're thinking.'

She turned from the window. 'Yeah, well… A lot's happened. Never actually thought we'd get Fenner. Sorry,' she corrected. 'You'd get…'

'As much you and Helen as us, Nikki,' interrupted Jo. 'I wanted to thank you. I mean, after I lied to you, I'm surprised you passed the time of day.'

'Someone had to take a stand,' she shrugged, conscious of the slight blush adorning her cheeks. 'So you off?'

The copper nodded. 'I haven't really got much but anything there is you're welcome to it. Pass it onto the Julies or something.'

'Yeah, will do.' Nikki shifted her weight uncomfortably. 'Suppose I should wish you good luck.'

'Funny, I was about to do the same.' Resting against the bed Jo looked up at her. 'What nick did you say Gossard worked at?'

Slightly thrown by the question it took her a minute to recall the name. 'Highcroft.'

The brunette nodded. 'I know a woman who used to work there, Sally Ann Howe. Might give her a call, see what I can find out.'

'You don't have to do that.'

'Don't think I won't,' warned Jo with a smile as she held out her hand. 'Bye, Nikki.'

She shook the offered hand gruffly. 'Go on. Get out of here.'

As she came out of the cell with only her coat for company Jo spotted Sam waiting for her at the gate. Unable to keep the smile off her face she walked up. 'Hi.'

'Said your goodbyes?' asked Sam, unlocking the gate and letting them into the quieter corridor beyond.

'Yeah. It isn't that easy to just walk out of here is it?'

'I know what you mean. I think I might actually miss it.'

Jo laughed. 'Well, I wouldn't go that far. Still like having a bit of freedom. But somehow I don't think I'll be so quick to suggest custodials for petty theft and prostitution.'

Sam looked at her knowingly. 'The Julies.'

'Mmm. They shouldn't be here. Doubt Rachel Hicks should've been from what I've heard. You know, even Nikki…'

Surprisingly, Sam wrapped an arm around her waist. 'Nikki's appealing. And with Helen on her side I'll be shocked if she doesn't get out.'

Slightly unseated by the unexpected contact Jo didn't answer right away. 'You're probably right.'

'Well, Jack wants us back at the station in an hour for a debrief,' Sam said, seemingly returning to business. 'But then I think you deserve an evening out.'

She raised an eyebrow. 'Really?'

The blonde stopped, didn't even glance around and kissed her gently. 'Would you join me for a bite to eat? I have to say, I'll be devastated if you say no.'

How could a girl resist? Pressing Sam against the wall she stole another kiss. 'Then I'd better say yes.'

The End

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