DISCLAIMER: If only the gods would smile upon me and make Ms. Jones and Ms. Lahbib all mine, but alas, Nikki Wade and Helen Stewart belong to Shed Productions. I have merely offered them candy, and brought them safely home.
SPOILERS: This is set after Series Three, Episode Sixteen, "Coming Out".
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Mrs. and Mrs. Claus
Boughs of the deepest green dipped gracefully, their fingerlike needles reaching toward heaven and the angel which perched on the uppermost limb, her dress of white and solemn face reflected in the glow of the myriad white lights. Crystal globes hung suspended amongst the greenery, tiny, swirling worlds of indigo, scarlet, and gold. Shimmering strands of silver garland wrapped gently around it, like glistening arms, sheltering the tree in the warmth of Helen and Nikki's living room.
As she walked up the path to the house, Helen could see the tree, like a gorgeous woman arrayed in her finest gown, posing handsomely in the bay window. A broad smile lit her face, as brightly as the lights of the evergreen, as she opened the door and stepped from the chill night air, into the pine-scented warmth of the house. This would be their first real Christmas together, she and Nikki, and Helen was still amazed at the strength of their bond, growing stauncher than wire every day.
"Nikki, I'm home," Helen called into the house, slipping off her leather coat and hanging it on the antique hall tree, one that she and Nikki had purchased on a trip to Cornwall the past summer.
"I'm in here," came Nikki's voice from the living room.
"What're you doing?" Helen asked from the doorway, absentmindedly tucking her hair behind one ear, laughter evident in her voice.
"I did a little last minute shopping," Nikki admitted.
"Little?" Helen chuckled, moving into the room to stand looking down at her partner. "It looks like Marks and Spencer are using the living room as a warehouse."
Nikki was sitting cross-legged on the floor, surrounded on every side by bags and packages of all shapes and sizes. Plain brown packing boxes were stacked beside her, emptily awaiting the multitude of presents arrayed about the floor.
"Yeah. I know. I was walking by some shops this morning and I got this idea. So, I decided to pick up a few things," Nikki explained slowly, not quite meeting Helen's eyes, looking for all the world like a naughty child caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
Lying just to the left of Nikki's foot was a good sized box, on which Helen could see "3-D Interactive Dinosaur Adventure Game" printed in bold black letters. Peeking out of another bag were a pair of boxing gloves, and a football. Her eyes now scanned intently, seeing a plush Steiff bear, a stack of cd's, a box of trainers with "Nike" on the side, and what appeared to be yards of material, in glittering golds and greens and blues. Untold items were hidden from view in their bags.
"Nikki. Who're buying all of this for?" Helen asked gently, sinking gracefully to her knees beside the tall brunette.
"I know that this is going to sound completely mad, but, like I said, I was out shopping for the last of your gifts," Nikki began to explain slowly, reaching out unconsciously to link her fingers in Helen's. "There was canned Christmas music playing, and people milling about, and kids laughing, and it smelled like roasting chestnuts and snow, and suddenly, I felt so amazing guilty. Here I was, free, buying expensive jewelry for my partner, and my friends, the women who supported me, helped me, made me laugh when all I could do was cry, are still in prison. And I just felt like shit."
"Ah, Nikki," Helen murmured softly, her free hand smoothing back the hair from Nikki's forehead. "I know you must feel like you've abandoned them sometimes, but you served your time."
"I know, Helen. And I know that they wouldn't want me feeling badly because I got out and they didn't. But, I also know, having been there, that Larkhall is depressing as hell at Christmas. So, it occurred to me that maybe I could do something to make things a little less hellish," Nikki responded quietly.
"Like making sure that the Julies' kids have a proper Christmas, complete with loads of toys and games from their Mums. And that Yvonne's daughter is doing okay now that things have gone to shit for them, and making sure that Denny's Mum doesn't need clothes or anything.
"Not to mention supplying the Julies with material to make some gorgeous new rags, and getting Barbara a new journal and her own laptop, and Shaz and Denny some new tunes. And some maternity things for Crystal and clothes for the baby on the way," Nikki clarified.
"So, you spent all afternoon, not to mention a small fortune, buying all of this stuff for them?" Helen's voice was incredibly tender, her eyes welling up with love and pride at the woman before her.
"The club's done really well this year, so we can afford it," Nikki assured her, her chocolate brown eyes searching Helen's, clearing expecting disapproval. She didn't find it.
"Nikki Wade, I can't remember when I was more proud of anyone in my life. I couldn't possibly care less about the money," Helen told her, the water brimming in her eyes finally spilling over to trace a path down shapely cheekbones.
"Really? You don't mind? I did spend everything I was going to use to buy you something special," Nikki told her, her hand coming up to cup Helen's cheek, gently wiping away the moisture.
"Sweetheart, you did get me something special, much more special than some sodding bit of gold. Don't you know that?" Helen's hands came up to link behind Nikki's head, pulling her toward her until their lips met.
"So, do you get to wear the Santa hat, or do I?" Helen laughed after a moment, before pulling Nikki in for another kiss.
"You can, as long as it's the only thing you wear, Mrs. Claus," Nikki chuckled, eyebrows raising suggestively, as she lowered Helen to the floor amongst the ribbon, and the paper, and the presents, the lights of the tree forming a white gold halo around them.
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