By Shufflebum Munky
"Hey Babs!" Helen shouted down the corridor to her friend. Helen noticed her 'friend' simply turned and then departed through the automatic doors. She sighed, it was going to be a long day.
"Alright, now, I expect some EFFORT put into this drawing. You know it is going towards your final examination so I am expecting a high standard from you ALL!", The teacher, Miss Wade, called out to the impatient teenagers eagerly awaiting the bell. She had to smile despite herself, they were certainly motivated when it came to leaving school for the weekend. Miss Wade, Nikki, was new to Larkhall College, having arrived merely two weeks earlier she could already pick out which of her pupils best fitted which 'category'..... except one.
Helen Stewert puzzled her. There was something about this teenager that made her almost scared to be around her. Her eyes were unnerving, seemingly changing colour to match her moods. Nikki had noticed times when her eyes could go from a warm, deep Green to a hard, cold grey. Then there was her smile. It was so warm and innocent, but there was something behind it that was challenging.
The bell went, disturbing Nikki from her thoughts, the children filed out, slowly leaving Nikki alone in the Art room.
**The next Morning**
*BEEP!.....CRACK!* The purple alarm clock shot down under the double bed and a rather irritated grunt errupted from Dominic. One, two arms and finally a leg came to rest around Nikki's body - this being her wake-up call from her partner, Dominic. Her eyes slowly drifted open and she was met by a lop-sided grin and a piece of marmite toast being shoved into her mouth.
"Get up you lazy sod..", Dominic said, releasing his slight grip on her sleepy form.
"Pissssssshhhhh Off", came the slurred reply, only adding to Dominic's building temper.
The night before, although being a good one, was better off being on Saturday nights rather than Tuesdays. After 10 rounds of tequila shots Nikki's head felt like a lead football and Dominic's wasn't much better, but at least he could still talk properly.
**30 minutes later**
After a rushed shower and some quickly added make-up to stop Nikki from looking like a 50 year old bloke she set off in her Vauxhall Nova to the college. At some traffic lights Nikki spotted Helen who seemed to be late and struggling to carry all her books plus a bulging Art folder, she decided to pull over.
"Hi there, do you want a lift?", Nikki said, "only I think we're going to the same place!"
"I don't want to be a bother..." came the nervous reply, Nikki noted.
"You won't be, honestly..", Nikki responded.
"If you're sure....", Helen replied, not really knowing what to say, Nikki was a lecturer after all.
"Yes, now get in before my arse freezes!"
"Okay, sorry", Helen said, not really getting the joke. She climbed into the car and tried to put on her seatbelt, but because she was nervous it wouldn't go in the slot.
"Here, let me", Nikki said. Helen gave up and handed the seatbelt to Nikki, she noticed when she did this that their hands brushed, this action making her cold hands tremble even more.
They drove to the college in silence, apart from the radio playing in the background, neither one knew what to say and were waiting for the other to start a conversation.
Helen had a free period and decided to go to the library to read the magazine she had brought earlier on. She found a comfortable sofa in the corner which was hidden away from the rest of the library and pulled out her magazine, the music edition of 'Vanity Fair'. She sighed as she looked at the front cover, two of her favourite artists were on the front.
As she flicked through a page landed on her favourite artist of all time, Tori Amos, and she let out a rather excited 'WOW!' She read the caption that was at the bottom of the page but was disturbed half way through by the feeling of someone behind her. She turned and looked up to see Nikki smiling down at her.
"So, do you like Tori too then?" Nikki asked, obviously interested.
"Of course!" Helen replied, "She's brilliant, witty and plays the piano, what more could I ask for?!"
"Well, if that impresses you, then so do I", Nikki said jokingly, "I can't believe I've found someone else who likes her." She recieved a playful punch in the arm. "So, Helen, what's your favourite song then?"
"Erm, hard one, probably 'Raspberry Swirl' or 'Cornflake Girl'", Helen said, still excited. "What about you?"
"God, well, I'm afraid mine is calmer than that. I'd say 'Winter', probably."
"Hehe, I guess you oldies like something slower!" Helen joked.
For a second Nikki couldn't answer, she noticed that Helen's eyes had changed to a warm green and she had a goofy smile, Nikki's eyes were glued. She suddenly realised what she was doing and answered. "Sorry dear, didn't hear you there, with me being so old n'all!" Nikki said, in her best granny voice.
"Oh ha ha Nikki! You're gonna have to clear that up now 'cos I just pissed myself!" Helen replied sarcastically.
This time Helen got the punch in the arm. Looking at her watch and realising the time, Helen got up and apologised before sprinting off to her Sociology lecture. She left her 'Vanity Fair' and a rather confused, slightly flustered Nikki.
Helen sat down on the toilet seat and wiped her wet eyes. It had been three days since Babs had last talked to her and she was lost as to what she had done. At that moment the doors to the toilets opened and two people walked in.
"Seriously Karen, I see great promise for her", Nikki said with a hint of pride to her friend, Karen, who was also the head of Art at Larkhall College.
"Nikki, would you like me to have a word with her? I mean, I could talk to her about further education, Uni courses."
"It's okay Karen, I mean, I am her lecturer at the moment so I suppose it would be logical if I were the one."
"Okay Nikki, that's fine with me." Karen said, just as her mobile ring cut her off. Karen apoligised and walked out of the toilets.
Helen, who had been silent throughout the conversation, now began to wonder which 'promising artist' they were discussing. At that moment Helen's bag dropped onto the floor so she stood up and flushed the chain. Thinking Nikki had gone she opened the cubicle door. She was wrong.
"Oh, hi Nikki." Helen said, going red at the thought that Nikki would be able to see that she'd been crying.
Nikki turned around. "Hi Helen...Helen, what's wrong?" She asked with concern in her voice.
Helen, who had been trying to just sneak out of the toilets, turned back around and, for some reason, started to cry again. Nikki walked up to Helen and put her arms around her. "It's Babs, she just keeps ignoring me, I don't even know what I've done", Helen said through sobs, into Nikki's shoulder.
Nikki knew why Babs was ignoring Helen but didn't see it as her place to tell her. She remembered a conversation between herself and Babs a couple of days ago. She had come to Nikki crying and wanting advice about a 'personal matter'. Babs was in love with Helen and thought that ignoring her would make her feelings go away. Babs' relevation had got Nikki thinking about why Babs felt so strongly for Helen. This had resulted in Nikki noticing that Helen was a very funny, intelligent and attractive person. Knowing this had made Nikki uncomfortable, but she had no idea why. Nikki finally answered Helen. "I think you should talk to Babs, Helen, I think she might have something important that she wants to tell you."
"Well, do you know what she wants to tell me?" Helen asked, now confused.
"Just go and see her Helen." Nikki said, and with that she left the toilets.
She left Helen standing there, alone with tears streaming down her face, wondering what the hell Babs wanted to tell her.
"Nikki, can I talk to you please?" Helen asked as the other students filed out for the end of the day.
"Of course Helen," Nikki said, smiling warmly, "take a seat." She motioned to the chair next to the desk.
"Thanks," Helen said, sitting down.
"So, have you talked to Babs yet?"
"Yes." Came the short response.
"And what did she say?" Nikki prodded further.
"You know what she said." Helen answered, slightly confused.
"Okay," Nikki said, trying a different direction,"what was your reaction?"
"We spoke for a while and finally sorted something out."
"What did you sort out?" Nikki asked, partly confused, this wasn't what she had expected.
"I think you know," Helen replied, not looking Nikki in the eye.
"No, I don't....what are you telling me Helen?"
She paused for a moment, carefully considering her answer. "Put it this way," she began,"I realised that oranges are not the only fruit, that I have other options, too." Helen grinned slightly.
"Okay." Nikki replied, beginning to understand what Helen and Babs had sorted out and wondering why that was starting to bother her so much.
"Babs and I, we're together, and I should be thanking you." Nikki just smiled. Helen made her excuses and left the Art room, leaving Nikki to her own thoughts...
Nikki knew that this was good, the two friends were now 'friendlier' than ever which couldn't be a bad thing. "So why do I feel like shit?" Nikki asked to uncaring walls. She refused to even listen to the voice inside her that wanted to answer the question, knowing it would only tell her things she'd rather not hear, or accept.
**Two Weeks Later**
"Stupid bloody piece of horse shit!" Nikki screamed and slammed her moblie down on the steering wheel, causing the car to swirve slightly and earning her a few toots from nearby cars. "Oh, shut it you WANKERS!" Nikki screamed back, now even more pissed off. She and Dominic were on their way to a new club that was opening. A mate of Dom's owned the place and had reserved them free tickets plus as many drinks as they wanted.
After some thirty minutes of yelling and v-signs at other motorists they arrived and parked the car.
Dominic whistled as he looked at the queue. "He's done well has Jim, I never thought this place would be so popular!" Dominic rambled excitidly as two bouncers took their tickets and led them through the swarm of people.
Jim Fenner, the owner, was a well respected business man. His clubs were practically free of drugs and he had a great, if a bit loud, personality. His other half, Simon Stubberfield, managed the place, dealing with the finacial side of the club. Together, they made a brilliant team.
"Talk of the devil." Nikki said, and greeted Jim who came towards them with his arms open. Simon trailed behind him, carrying a tray with drinks on. "Jim, very nice." Nikki said, smiling and looking at the pink feather boa that Jim was wearing.
"I know darling, isn't it just gorgeous?!" Jim exclaimed, tugging slightly at the boa.
Nikki sighed, it was going to be a long, loud night.
Quickly downing the glass of white wine she'd been given, Nikki made her way over to the bar. Half an hour of nail care tips was having it's toll her brain and she was left feeling slightly demented.
Looking around and finding that Dom had been kidnapped by Simon who was now leading him through the Tango, Nikki decided to take Jim up on his earlier offer of a private room to herself. 'Thank God', she thought whilst smirking slightly.
She entered the room with the 'Private' sign on and found the lights off. Not able to find the switch, Nikki felt her way over to something soft that she could sit on and quickly discovered a mini bar next to it. Sitting down she made herself comfortable and opened the fridge door...
An hour later Nikki was starting in enjoy herself. Due to exceeding acceptable levels of alcohol Nikki had started an exciting conversation with the couch she was currently sprawled across.
"And do you know the worst bit?" She asked the couch, totally oblivious to the fact that someone had entered the room half an hour before and was sitting in an armchair on the other side of the room, trying desperately not to giggle too much.
"I think I'm falling for someone." Said Nikki, her statement suddenly causing her to sober up a little. The revelation affected the person in the chair, too, because they quickly straightened up, no longer giggling.
"I don't even know when all this started", Nikki continued, "one minute I was giving advice and the next I couldn't stop thinking about her."
'Her?!' The person in the chair gasped, still not loud enough for Nikki to hear, though. 'Nikki's fallen for a female?' The person in the chair stood up quietly and made their way out of the room, suddenly feeling awful for intruding and listening in.
The only evidence that someone had ever been in the room was a student card for someone who attended 'Larkhall College'...
*The next day*
She felt safe, loved. Someone was holding her in a comforting embrace. A slight smell of vanilla musk tickled her senses as she drew back to look at the person holding her. Looking down at the hands holding her so safely she realised that they weren't male hands...
Waking with a start Nikki swore to herself and quickly panicked, she wasn't in her bed, in fact, she wasn't in a bed. With this realisation it became clear that she was on a couch which wasn't doing anything for her hangover in the slightest. Moving her body slightly she found that it had been a bad idea as a pain swept through her back. 'That's what you get for sleeping on a couch, I guess...' Nikki acknowledged miserably.
The room was dim, the light outside barely noticeable, Nikki noted. This meant it had to be some ridiculous hour.
The events of the previous night were coming back to her; coming to the club with Dom, seeing Jim and Simon and talking to a couch. 'Talking to a couch? What the fu...' Her thoughts were silenced by a large sound emanating from another person in the room, it could only be described as a burp.
"Hello?" Nikki shouted, wanting to know who had joined her in the night.
"Mnph..." Jim 'said' while pushing himself up into a sitting position.
All Nikki could do was laugh as Jim did something very un-Jim like and fainted, be it from sleeping on the floor or the fact he noticed that he was completely nude from the waist down.
'I wish I had a camera, on second thoughts, no I don't!' She giggled, while trying to look anywhere but in front of her...
Deciding to help Jim and got up and found a jacket with which she could cover his modesty with. Making her way over to him something shiny caught her eye. Bending down she realised that it was a Larkhall College card.
Rubbing her eyes a bit she was able to make out the name 'Helen Stewart' written on the front.
'I wonder why her card is in here?' She thought, mentally telling herself to give it to her later...
Walking into the main entrance of the college Nikki cheerfully looked around for the receptionist.
"Morning Sandra," she said. Sandra just smiled and filed the moment away in her memory, Nikki Wade was not known for her good moods.
"I don't 'spose you could give a student back their college card, could you?"
"Sure Nik," said Sandra, and Nikki proceeded to give her the details.
"Okay, it's Helen Stewart's..."
Nikki enjoyed to eat her lunch in the park as it gave her an opportunity to get some fresh air away from the stuffy rooms of the college, as well as letting her stretch her legs.
Around a month ago she had been exploring the park when she had come across a secluded area that was hidden from view, now she ate there. Walking around the hedge that hid the bench she heard the sounds of giggling. Deciding to jump out at whoever was there she crept the rest of the way. She was met with the sight of Helen and Babs kissing. Unable to stop the hurt from consuming her, she quickly jogged off, too distraught to see that Helen had seen her.
Helen pulled away and Babs saw her puzzled expression.
"What's wrong?" she asked, carefully observing her girlfriend.
"Nothing," Helen replied then after a few moments continued,"Look, it's getting late, I'd better head back to college."
"Okay, see you later, I love you." she said, frowning when Helen didn't reply but sensing that she wanted some time alone...
Walking in a daze and not really caring where she went, Nikki found herself making her way back to the Art room.
She had only just sat down when the doors burst open and a very pissed off Helen Stewart came barging through.
"Who are you in love with?!" she demanded, not bothering to hide her anger.
"What are you talking about?" Nikki replied, suddenly getting a sinking feeling in her stomach.
"I was in the room that evening at the club. I heard you little admission, and I know you're in love with a female!" she spat out, wiping a stray tear from her cheek.
Not bothering to deny it, the weeks of denial and sleepless nights finally weighing down on her, she replied.
"No Helen, why should I eh? I doubt it would make the slightest difference to you and Babs anyway, and may I remind you that my private life is absolutely none of your goddamn business!"
"I know who it is anyway!" Helen was fuming now, "I saw you at the park. When you saw Babs and I together you ran off. That could only mean one thing."
Nikki tried to interrupt but Helen needed to finish.
"You're in love with Babs. I mean, it all adds up. You said you'd given this female advice, and when Babs and I were starting out she came to you for help. Then I saw your reaction in the park... and I knew."
After a few moments she exited the room, leaving Nikki to her thoughts once more.
"You'll never know how wrong you are..." she whispered to herself.
She just kept walking. Carried on thinking. Trying to pinpoint the moment she'd fallen in love. Only she couldn't remember that moment, as it had never happened. She had to do the right thing - If she dragged it out longer then more hurt would be caused.
Reaching the destination she had subconsciously headed for, Helen stopped and took a deep breath. It was time to end it with Babs, she had to do this. Helen knew she wasn't in love with her, she was merely waiting for the one person she craved - the one person who happened to be extremely unattainable.
The Scot knew Nikki was in love with Babs, her brain registered the fact but her heart refused to.
A few moments after the knock on the door Babs appeared, smiling when she saw who her visitor but becoming increasingly alarmed when she saw her visitor's expression. It wasn't encouraging.
Helen didn't have to speak for Babs to realise what was going on. The sick feeling that was steadily rising within her told her everything she needed to know.
All she could choke out was "I hope we can still be friends."
"I'm sorry." Helen replied before embracing her best friend and former love tightly. Babs nodded, content for the moment to be comforted. She needed her best friend right now.
A couple of miles away someone else was also embracing their former love. Dominic had been quiet, not even trying to stop Nikki from leaving. All this had done was re-enforce her decision. 'He obviously doesn't love me that much' she reasoned with herself.
With that done Niiki headed 'home' to begin the daunting task of marking coursework.
Leaving Babs' place Helen sighed with relief - even if she wasn't with Nikki at least she was being honest with Babs - not trying to convince herself that she was happy with their relationship.
When Nikki arrived on Monday the whole college had somehow found out about the break-up between Helen and Babs, making it the number one topic of conversation.
'Nah, it can't be true' she thought to herself. There was only one way to find out...
"Hiya Sandra." She said, smiling as she approached the receptionist.
"So, is it true, y'know, about those two... ?"
"Oh, yeah, it is. Apparently Helen ditched her on Friday." Sandra replied, obviously pleased with herself for knowing all the gossip.
"I always thought those two would last for ages... seemed so in love..." Sandra carried on, talking to herself more than Nikki.
"I'd better go Sand, seeya later." Nikki walked off to the staffroom with a grin on her face. Although feeling guilty, she couldn't help but be pleased about the current situation. Nikki mentally scolded herself - lecturers did not have relationships with their students.
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