DISCLAIMER: The characters in this story belong to Shed Productions. I am borrowing them for entertainment purposes only and not for financial gain.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the authors.

A Stewart Christmas Carol
By Nico

Part 21

Nikki jumped when the interview room door flew open and a pissed off looking DI Thomas came walking in. She'd had a right dressing down off her superiors for arresting Nikki and detaining them all longer than necessary. Gossard had been an officer she had admired and she had never believed he was guilty of attempting to rape Trish.

"You're free to go, we're done. But I want you to hang around for another ten minutes or so, I need to speak to you all before you leave." she waved her hand at the door.

"That's it? You arrest me, hold me here for hours and then just tell me I'm free to go? With no fucking apology? What kind of a person are you?" Nikki was incredulous.

"I'm a person who is getting pretty fed up with having to look at you, so do as your told and piss off outside until we're ready to talk to you." she didn't disguise the fact that she couldn't stand the sight of Nikki.

"You lousy bastards are all the same." Nikki stood up and walked past the detective who looked increasingly annoyed with her.

Helen was outside in the corridor in the arms of a tall good looking blonde woman when she came out of the interview room. Nikki narrowed her eyes, who the hell was that muscling in on her woman? She bit her tongue and tried to smile, she knew she was being stupid.

"Nikki! Are you alright sweetheart?" Helen threw her arms around Nikki's neck and she relaxed, her jealousy instantly forgotten. Helen hugged the life out of her. "Nik, this is Lucy, my friend from Uni."

"Nice to meet you Nikki." she shook Nikki's hand and caught the slight tightness in her face.

"Nice to meet you too." Nikki responded and placed an arm around Helen's shoulders. She wasn't being possessive, just making it known that she and Helen were together, for the benefit of anybody who thought otherwise.

"Have they explained everything to you?" Lucy folded her arms and looked Nikki straight in the eye. They were almost of a height but Nikki beat her by an inch or so, but that inch was all important, she felt it gave her the advantage.

"First they ask me stupid questions, then I get arrested and practically accused of torching Karen's place and then I'm told I'm free to go. I don't think they've had time to explain to be honest, they've been too busy bloody terrorising me!" Nikki shook her head in disgust. She could have done with another cigarette even though she had just put one out.

"They'll explain it to you. Don't worry, there shouldn't be any more problems, trust me." Lucy smiled at Nikki, who in spite of herself couldn't fail to like her.

They spoke for ten minutes and then Lucy had to go.

"Well I better be getting off home to my husband and my kids. It was lovely to see you both, we must do it more often." she mentioned her husband for Nikki's benefit mostly. She kissed Claire and Helen goodbye and began to walk down the corridor.

"Lucy!" Nikki called after her.

"Yeah?" Lucy whipped around.

"Thank you, I'll never forget what you did for me." Nikki smiled warmly at her, she appreciated her coming in to help them on Christmas day and realised she had been a bit cold when she thought Lucy had possibly been after Helen.

"My pleasure Nikki. Take care of Helen, you've got a good woman there." she winked at them and walked off.

"So what the hell has this all been about?" Karen was confused

"They should be coming back to explain it to us in a minute." Claire looked at her watch.

They got a much needed coffee from the drinks machine while they waited for DI Thomas to come back. Helen rested her head against Nikki, and spoke quietly to her.

"They weren't too hard on you were they?" Helen had wanted to protect her from them but hadn't been able to.

"They weren't nice put it that way but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle, I had enough practice in Larkhall after all. I had the last laugh though, you should have seen the look on that copper's face when she came in and told me that I was free, priceless!" Nikki chuckled.

"They must have gotten a right bollocking. Apparently when Lucy came back from talking to the boss, she looked a bit pissed off." Helen took a sip of her coffee and placed her head back on Nikki's shoulder.

"Good, the bastards deserve it."

"I was so scared when they dragged you off, it was like seeing you in Larkhall all over again." Helen sighed and moved closer to Nikki burying her face in to her neck and inhaling her perfume.

"I was scared too, but it really helped me to know that you were here for me. That's the second time you've gotten me free." Nikki knew it was all thanks to Helen, nobody else would have bothered to help out with her case.

"I suppose I did in a way, I started the ball rolling at least."

"Just like the first time, so it's thanks to you I'm still free." she kissed Helen on the forehead and then wrapped her arms around her.

The police were still playing games in making them wait; they had been sat there for almost three quarters of an hour before DI Thomas turned up again.

"Sorry to keep you waiting." which was a lie, "I regret to inform you that James Fenner's body has been found in Miss Betts house."

"Oh god." Karen closed her eyes and sat down. Yvonne stood beside her and discretely placed a hand on her back.

"They were sifting through the debris and they found his body under a door that was partially burnt. He was unrecognisable, but we confirmed his identity through dental records. The fire investigators initial suspicions were confirmed, it was arson and Mr. Fenner started it. He was holding a can of petrol. We're not sure what happened but from early test results we think he may have been drunk at the time and it prevented him from escaping the house." DI Thomas didn't look so cocky now.

"That was quick, usually takes a while for you lot to find anything out." Yvonne knew things like that usually took time, especially over the holidays "but then again it's not every day you have a chance to settle a score with the woman who topped your boss is it?" Yvonne wasn't stupid; she knew the details had been rushed through for a purpose.

"I don't like what you're trying to imply." DI Thomas had been caught out.

"And I don't like what you just tried to do to my friend." Yvonne glared at her.

"Oh I get what's going on here." Nikki had finally clicked, "When you found out he was dead it gave you the perfect opportunity to stick something on me. You weren't interested in what he had done to Helen at all were you? All you gave a shit about was trying to pin this arson case on me so that you could casually let it slip that Fenner was dead and I find myself up on another murder charge." Nikki was close to losing it totally, "they would have thrown away the fucking key! And while we're on the subject, Gossard was an evil bastard but I would never have wished him dead. In fact, I would rather have seen him alive and in prison for what he did to Trish, despite the fact that you think I enjoyed it. Well I didn't bloody enjoy it and I lost three years of my life because Gossard took it upon himself to act more like a criminal than a police officer. Well you know what? I hope you're pleased with yourself, what you did tonight says a lot about the kind of person you are, and in my book, you're no better than he is." Nikki strode off in a temper leaving an uncomfortable looking DI Thomas behind.

"Don't think that this is the end of the matter Ms Thomas." Claire launched into professional mode, "I will ascertain whether Miss Wade wants to take this any further or not. If she doesn't wish to press charges then I will still lodge an official complaint about you. Come on, lets get out of here." Claire jerked her head at the door and they all trooped out.

Nikki was standing outside the station in the dark waiting for the others to catch her up. She lit a cigarette and blew the smoke out; promising that one day she would give up but now wasn't exactly the right time. She was so angry with the police for trying to pin Fenner's death on her when it was obvious he had started the fire himself. But then again, they had all been waiting for an opportunity to get their own back for what happened to Gossard and this gave them the perfect chance.

She felt Helen's warm soft hand slip in to hers and turned around with a smile; she captured her lips in a kiss and then wrapped her arm around her. Helen snuggled in to her in the cold night air.

"I love you Nikki."

"I love you too sweetheart. And despite all that's happened today, it's been the best day of my life." she smiled down at Helen.

"Really? You must have had some awful Christmases if you think this one was good." she chuckled softly but knew what Nikki meant.

"I did, they were the ones I spent without you. Lets grab the others and go home; I've had enough of this place."

They went in search of the others and then thankfully managed to grab a taxi and go home. Trish banged about in the kitchen making some sandwiches and the trifle had its second outing. None of them were particularly hungry but Trish wasn't sure what else to do so she thought it would be best to keep busy. Claire put the kettle on for some coffee, while Yvonne spoke to Karen in the living room and Nikki and Helen went upstairs to grab a shower.

Nikki stepped out of the shower first and was busy getting dressed when Helen came in to the room. Helen began to towel herself dry and Nikki forgot what she was doing for a minute as she watched her. Helen's skin was a wonderful honey colour, and she had slim, shapely arms and legs and Nikki knew she would never get tired of looking at her. She stretched out on the bed so that she was comfortable while she indulged in her favourite pastime. Helen knew Nikki was looking and slowed her movements down so she could take full advantage of being watched.

Nikki felt her hormones begin to race and her need for Helen was overwhelming but she knew she couldn't drag Helen off to bed just yet. A pair of green eyes watched her intently as Helen settled next to her on the bed, then she leaned in to kiss her and Nikki felt Helen's tongue slip in to her mouth and she moaned.

"Mmmmm you're really good at that, even with a sore mouth." Nikki pulled Helen closer.

"I can't believe Fenner's dead." Helen sighed, the whole thing was bothering her and she needed to get it off her chest, "I wanted him to pay for what he did but not like this."

"It was a bit of a shock I must admit. But once again he was up to something he shouldn't have been and he brought about his own downfall." Nikki shrugged, it was his own fault.

"I feel guilty though, it's my bloody fault that you got arrested by those bastards, and also my fault that he's dead." Helen got around to voicing what had been bothering her since they found out Fenner was dead.

"How the hell do you work that one out?" Nikki shifted and rested her head on her hand, while her other hand settled on Helen's hip.

"This is probably going to sound strange but…." Helen faltered.

"Go on sweetheart."

"A couple of nights ago, I had a dream." Helen thought it would be easier to describe the whole process as a dream instead of a spirit visit. "I saw where my life had gone wrong and how it would end up if I didn't change the direction it was heading in."

"Is that why you came back?"

"I came back because I love you and I missed you." Helen placed her hand on top of Nikki's "I dreamt that I was at Karen's funeral, Fenner was there. Turns out Fenner had killed her and framed you for her murder, and you ended up back in Larkhall." Helen felt strange saying it, she hoped Nikki wouldn't think she was a nutter.

"That wouldn't surprise me at all. So that's why you told Karen about Fenner, cos you didn't want to see her end up like she did in your dream?"

"It felt so real and I had to do something about it, I know it sounds weird. I didn't want you to end up back in prison either, all alone and thinking I didn't love you."

"Nah it's not weird at all, maybe it was a premonition of some sort, but in any case I'm glad you had the dream because it was one of the reasons you came back, and now I know how much you love me now." Nikki took hold of Helen's hand and began to play with her fingers, "If you're thinking that by confessing to Karen that Fenner sexually assaulted you, that it makes you responsible for his death, then you're wrong. He was so bitter and twisted, not to mention drunk, and he managed killed himself in the process of getting revenge. It was his own stupidity that got him in the end." Nikki placed a kiss on Helen's shoulder.

"I suppose you're right but I still feel partly responsible." Helen closed her eyes and leaned her head against Nikki's.

"Which is understandable but you did the right thing. Is anybody really going to be heartbroken? His wife left him because he cheated on her, Karen is with Yvonne now and I'm damn sure most of Larkhall won't care. I bet the only one who will mourn his passing is Bodybag and she's always been a bit strange anyway." Nikki smiled and it did the trick, Helen chuckled softly.

"I know you're right. We should finished getting dressed, they'll wonder where we are."

"Just a minute, I've got something for you." Nikki jumped up and rifled in the pocket of her jeans. She pulled out the box Yvonne had given to her earlier, "now this is a little something I asked Yvonne to pick up for me earlier. If you don't like it or you don't want it we can take it back." she sat back down beside Helen and opened the box.

"Is that what I think it is?" Helen gasped.

"Yes but it doesn't have to be. It's entirely up to you." Nikki couldn't figure out whether Helen was happy about it or not.

"I always did fancy a summer wedding." Helen's whole face seemed to light up when she looked at Nikki.

"You mean you really want to?" Nikki's heart was racing.

"Of course I do, who would turn down being married to you sweetheart?" Helen's face broke out in a beautiful smile.

"I can do better than that, but I was nervous."

"It was perfect." Helen winked at her.

"Let me try again." Nikki got down on one knee and took hold of Helen's hand, "Helen Stewart, will you marry me and be with me forever?"

"Yes, I can think of no better way than to spend the rest of my life with you." Helen leaned forward and captured Nikki's bottom lip between her own in a kiss.

Nikki's hands ran down Helen's naked back, and the kisses deepened.

"Will you two hurry up! We've decided to get pissed and we're only waiting for you!" Yvonne's voice rocketed up the stairs and hit them like a cold bucket of water.

"We're coming!" Nikki shouted down before saying quietly to Helen, "and we nearly would have if we had been left alone for another couple of minutes!" Nikki took the ring and placed it on the third finger of Helen's left hand.

"Never mind, I was enjoying that but we have all the time in the world now." Helen placed her arms around Nikki's shoulders.

"I promise to show you how much I love you later, seeing as how we were so rudely interrupted." Nikki huffed.

"Och you poor baby, I'll make it up to you later." they kissed once more and then set about getting dressed, "I feel like getting pissed too, how about you?" Helen slipped a t-shirt over her head.

"I think I just fancy a coffee to be honest, I'm too tired to drink, and I don't fancy dealing with a hangover in the morning." Nikki zipped her jeans up.

"You sound like my old wee granny!" Helen began to giggle.

"Well at least one of us is going to survive this marriage with their liver intact!" Nikki picked a laughing Helen up and carried her downstairs.

In the early hours of the morning they all went to bed, Karen and Yvonne stayed over in the spare room. Rain began to fall, and a strong wind blew the droplets of water on to the panes of glass, making a loud tapping noise. It was the kind of night when you felt glad to be tucked up in a warm bed with the one you loved.

Karen clung on to Yvonne tightly, it had been one hell of a couple of days and she was struggling to deal with it all. She thought it was strange how you can go from having a normal mundane sort of life to having the sort of life you always wanted but never thought you would.

"Alright love?" Yvonne stroked Karen's hair.

"Mmmm yeah, great thanks." she was listening to Yvonne's heartbeat as her head rested on her chest.

"I know it must have been a shock for you to find out about Fenner. I don't mind you know, you don't have to hide how you're feeling." Yvonne didn't want Karen to be afraid to show her feelings, no matter what feelings they were.

"I was shocked at first but it's wearing off now. I found out what he was like in the end, he wasn't the person I thought he was, so in the long run, I'm grieving for a person that never existed and there's no point to that. What's important is that I've got you and I'm happy, I haven't been this happy for a long time."

"Me too love." Yvonne ran her hand down Karen's side, "wanna see if I can make you even happier?" she whispered in the dark.

"Mmm yes please." Karen sighed softly as Yvonne's hand began to work their magic.

Nikki was sitting up in bed waiting for Helen to join her, and was scanning one of her books whilst she waited. Helen came out of the bathroom and stood watching her in the doorway. She was beautiful and Helen felt so lucky to have her back and know that she loved her. She closed the bedroom door and climbed on to the bed, and instead of crawling under the covers, she sat astride Nikki. Nikki put her book down and felt her stomach flip as she felt Helen's bare thighs against her own.

"You are beautiful." Helen wrapped her arms around Nikki's neck and kissed her.

"So are you." she said in-between kisses.

The kisses became more passionate and Helen pulled Nikki's t-shirt off, and let her hands wander. Nikki reciprocated and removed Helen's; the sight of her totally naked sitting astride her thighs was doing something monumental to her hormones. They kissed again and their skin came in to contact, making them both tingle all over. Nikki massaged Helen's buttocks and ran her hands up and down her smooth naked back.

"I love you sweetheart." Nikki began to kiss Helen's neck and stroke her breasts.

"I love you too babe." Helen's breath caught in the back of her throat when Nikki rubbed her thumb against her nipple.

Nikki took her hand and placed it in-between Helen's legs, she was already wet and ready for her, and she gently slipped two fingers inside her. Helen moaned quietly and threw her head back; she closed her eyes and began to rock back and forth on Nikki's fingers. Nikki could feel Helen's velvety smooth insides and she loved the feeling of being as close to her as she possibly could.

Helen increased the speed of her movements slightly and breathed rapidly as she enjoyed the feeling of Nikki's fingers deep inside of her. Nikki watched as Helen's breasts jiggled up and down with the movement of her body, and she was mesmerised by how beautiful this woman was. Helen bent her head forward and opened her eyes, she looked straight in to Nikki's and smiled as her speed quickened. Helen kept going until her orgasm shot through her; she grabbed Nikki and held on tight as she came with an intensity she wasn't used to. Helen had kept her eyes open the entire time, and she was glad she had because she could see how much Nikki loved her.

Helen collapsed against Nikki and she held on to her tightly, waiting for the tremors to subside and for her breathing to return to normal. She gently kissed the soft skin of Helen's shoulder and felt her rub her back in response, she wished she could hold her forever. They whispered words of love to each other and then Nikki closed her eyes and thanked god for sending Helen back to her. She had always known her place was by Helen's side and now she had the chance to live that dream.

"Your turn now, I've been waiting to touch every single part of you all day." Helen ran her hand down the side of Nikki's breast.

"Well then sweetheart, don't let me stop you." Nikki grinned and slid down the bed as Helen followed.

An hour later after making love, they settled down to sleep, it had been a busy 48 hours and they were both exhausted. After the day they'd had, Helen was anxious for them to get on with their lives so that she could start healing some of the hurt that she had caused Nikki, even though she knew she had already forgiven her. She still had a few people to speak to, her father included but now she knew Nikki and Karen were safe and it was a huge weight lifted off her mind.

Nikki on the other hand was grateful that she had Helen and that her trip to the police station hadn't resulted in her ending up back on G Wing. She put her arms around Helen and pulled her close, enjoying the warmth and closeness of her soft body. They kissed each other goodnight, and settled down to sleep, as the rain fell non stop outside their window.

Part 22

It was the day before New Year's Eve and Nikki flitted about the house picking things up and generally tidying around. She dragged the ironing board out and began to run the iron over a few of Helen's shirts, so that they were ready to be packed because they were due to head up to Scotland later on that day. Meanwhile, Helen was still snoring her head off; completely oblivious to the fact that Nikki was even up. It was five am and Nikki was up partly out of habit and partly because she was really worried about seeing Helen's father. She didn't think she had ever been quite so nervous and it explained why she was up at an ungodly hour, and ironing while mumbling like a mad woman.

When she had finished the last of her ironing, she sat down at the kitchen table, grinned and lit a cigarette. She was thinking about Christmas morning, which then led her off on another train of thought. Why the hell was she up when she could be cuddled up in bed next to Helen? Being able to sleep next to her every night had its advantages, she loved the way Helen would tangle their legs in her sleep, and the way she followed her around the bed whenever she moved.

They spent all day holding hands or draping their arms and legs across each other, so that they could have the close physical contact they craved. It wasn't so much to do with wanting the close contact because they had been unable to have it in Larkhall, although that was a factor. But more because they enjoyed being so close, and if they went for more than a few minutes without touching, then they felt suddenly detached and sought each other out.

The others would tease them and say they were obsessed, that it was a novelty because they'd only just gotten together. But they both knew that deep down; it would always be that way. Their closeness filled a gap in their souls; they found something in each other that healed them, just like the spirit said they would.

Nikki stubbed out her cigarette and climbed the stairs, intending to go back to bed because they really didn't have to be up for a while yet. She settled back in to bed beside Helen, and turned to face her. The tired look had disappeared from her face, her eyes seemed to sparkle and she looked far more relaxed than Nikki had ever seen her. Nikki put it down to being able to take things easy for the first time in goodness knows how long. But quite a lot of it had to do with the fact that Helen had at last sorted her life out, she was in love and finally free to express it. She had admitted her true sexuality to herself and she was where she knew she belonged.

Helen shifted slightly and smiled in her sleep, a small chuckle escaped her mouth and Nikki smiled, she loved to watch her sleep. She wondered what was going on in her head, and hoped that wherever she was it was beautiful, and of course included her. She gave Helen a gentle kiss on the forehead and lay back down; she responded in her sleep and pulled her closer.

"I love you Nikki." Helen's voice was slurred with sleep.

"I love you too sweetheart." Nikki replied, knowing that even though Helen was asleep, she would hear her.

Nikki couldn't keep the grin from her face as she closed her eyes. She had discovered that Helen was quite a talker whilst she was asleep, they'd even had proper conversations, all of which Helen of course couldn't t remember the next day. Nikki would have fun telling her about what she had said, some of the conversations had been quite erotic, and at first Helen thought she was taking the piss, until she realised she wasn't. It didn't take her long to get over her embarrassment, and she found she quite liked erotic conversations while she was awake.

After what seemed like no more than five minutes of sleep, Nikki was rocketed in to consciousness when she heard a familiar voice whispering in her ear.

"You were moaning in your sleep, anything I can help with?" came the sexy Scottish tones of her lover, the voice sent needles of arousal down her spine.

"I was dreaming about making love to you." Nikki stretched and turned to face Helen.

"Let me make it real then." Helen kissed her and then slid underneath the duvet. Nikki moaned. She was glad she had gone back to bed after all.

Two hours later, Nikki and Helen were showered and sitting down to breakfast. Both were glowing with happiness from their early morning lovemaking and the kitchen table was making them both smile even more. Claire was sitting having breakfast with them, while Trish was in the shower. And Karen and Yvonne had just nipped out to pick up a few things.

"What is it with you two?" Claire asked as she swallowed her toast.

"What do you mean?" Helen looked at her in puzzlement.

"Every time you're in here, the pair of you keep grinning like idiots. I couldn't help noticing that you two look like you're on something at meal times."

"We can't help being happy." Nikki tried to look casual.

"It's more than that, what's going on? Go on tell your old mate Claire." Claire wheedled.

"There is nothing to tell." Helen could feel her face burning; she was embarrassed and automatically felt stupid. Why should she be embarrassed about what happened? She loved Nikki and people made love to each other in all sorts of locations; there was nothing abnormal or embarrassing about it.

"Nikki…..Remember who worked on your appeal." Claire went for the guilt trip.

"Oh alright! I'll tell you or I'll never hear the end of it. Nikki and I made love on this very kitchen table on Christmas morning, that's why we can't stop smiling when we're in here ok?" Helen grinned; she wasn't embarrassed at all now.

"On this very table you say? My my that is kinky! I never knew you had it in you Helen!" Claire giggled.

"Nikki brings something out in me that I never knew existed, and the same could be said about you Claire." Helen raised her eyebrow.

"Point taken! So what was it like then?" Claire folded her arms and smiled as she looked at Helen.

"Well….." Helen started to say, she didn't mind giving details at all.

"While you discuss my sexual performance sweetheart, I'm gonna go and put petrol in the car." Nikki stood up, face was a lovely shade of lobster red.

"Awww don't tell me you're shy darlin'?" Helen ran her hand over Nikki's bum.

"I wonder if I'm ever gonna get used to the new Helen Stewart. Look at you, there's no stopping you now!" she leaned down and kissed her lovingly, "be back soon babe, make sure you give me a good report!"

"Of course sweetheart, I'll make sure Claire knows you're dynamite." Helen winked at her and Nikki's face went red all over again, she quickly escaped the kitchen.

"So?" Claire said once she had gone.

"So…." and Helen launched in to a comprehensive description of her kitchen table antics with her fiancée.

An hour later, Nikki was packing the hired people carrier up and marveled at the amount of luggage they all thought they seemed to need for a three day trip to Scotland. Yvonne was the worst, but then again she had a reputation, a shelf load of Chanel had been mentioned….

Nikki crammed all the luggage in and then slammed the back door shut; she made her way around to the driver's side and jumped in. She fiddled around with the radio while she was waiting for the others. Nikki hadn't driven since before she had been sent to Larkhall and she was looking forward to it, it would be a pleasure driving Helen up to Scotland.

She slipped her sunglasses on to shield her eyes from the winter sun, and sat tapping her finger on the steering wheel in time to the music. Finally, the others appeared and they jumped in to the car, Helen sat up front with Nikki.

"Are we all ready? Got everything? Been to the toilet?" Nikki asked in a school ma'am voice, it was like being out with kids.

"Yes!" they all chorused.

"Remember to put your seatbelts on, and Trish?" Nikki looked in the rearview mirror.

"Yeah?" Trish tore herself away from Claire for a second and looked in Nikki's direction.

"No licking the windows ok?" Nikki sniggered.

"Fuck off Nikki! I'm not a window licker." Trish glared at her in mock anger.

"Lets go Wade, before you start a riot." Helen used her best Wing Governor tones and slapped her on the arm before her hand came to rest on her leg, and she gave it a loving squeeze.

Ten minutes later, they were driving up the high street when Trish told Nikki that she wanted her to pull over, she tutted and stopped the car.

"Hurry up Trish, you should have picked up whatever it is that you need earlier on this morning." Nikki was mildly annoyed; they were never going to get there at that rate.

"Oh shut up miserable arse, I'll be back in a minute." Trish jumped out of the car and headed into a nearby shop, she was out five minutes later with a carrier bag.

She climbed back in to the people carrier and handed the bag to Helen, with a smile. She took it from her with a puzzled look.

"What's this?" Helen asked.

"It's just a small present for you and Nikki, you'll get plenty of use out of it in Scotland." Trish replied.

Helen opened the bag and her face collapsed in to a grin.

"Claire! I should have known you couldn't keep your trap shut!" she said laughing, as she pulled out a bottle of chocolate syrup, a can of squirty cream and a tin of mixed fruit.

"Oh god!" Nikki exclaimed as she rested her head on the steering wheel.

"We heard all about your fruity little interlude Nik!" Yvonne laughed, "But it may have been more fun if you had waited till the fruit had gone into the trifle, then you could have smeared that all over Helen instead!"

"Oh bugger." Nikki's face was burning with embarrassment.

"Thanks for that Trish; it will come in very handy!" Helen wasn't embarrassed in the slightest; she had nothing to be ashamed of.

"Don't think you're coming anywhere near me with that." Nikki said as she started the engine.

"Aww why not?" Helen was disappointed.

"Cos they'll expect full details and I can only go through so much embarrassment in one bloody week."

"Don't be so miserable Nikki, let Helen have a nibble." Karen sniggered.

"See what I mean?" Nikki couldn't help grinning as she looked at Helen.

"What makes you think I'd tell them?" Helen's hand rested on Nikki's leg.

"Claire has Gestapo style interrogation skills, that's why." Nikki chuckled as Claire began to protest.

Nikki pulled out and they were soon heading for the motorway, they were all giggling and making snide remarks about her driving but Nikki took it all in good humour, she was a good driver and she knew it. Hours later, they stopped off in the Lake District for something to eat, and it gave Helen a chance to stretch her legs. She had been sharing the driving with Nikki, and had just driven for two hours straight.

"Hey Nik!" Karen shouted.

"Yeah?" Nikki had hold of Helen's hand as they walked behind the others.

"If I get to the front of the queue before you do, shall I get you some fruit salad?"

"Yeah yeah! Very funny Karen! Bunch of bastards!" Nikki scowled as they all giggled at her. "This is your fault." Nikki was sulking slightly as she spoke to Helen.

"They're only taking the piss, you know they don't mean it." Helen stroked her thumb over the back of Nikki's hand.

"I don't mind them taking the piss, but not one of them has mentioned what a spectacular lover I am." Nikki started to laugh.

"Oh Claire knows how spectacular you are, I made a point of telling her." Helen kissed the back of Nikki's hand.

"Nikki?" as if on cue, Claire spoke.

"Yeah?" Nikki said suspiciously, what where they going to take the piss over next?

"I've been discussing it with the girls and we've all decided that if you're even half as good a lover as Helen says you are then we're all coming to your room tonight and she will have to get used to sharing you!" Claire winked at her.

"Sorry to disappoint you girls, but Helen's the only woman for me." Nikki looked pleased with herself as she smiled smugly.

"Lucky me!" Helen replied with a smile and a wink.

They sat down to eat and chatted away animatedly; they were behaving like a bunch of teenage girls and thoroughly enjoying themselves in the process. They got quite a few strange looks from people when they noticed they were all 'together' but didn't let it bother them, why should they hide because of a few narrow-minded people? After they had eaten, they jumped back in to the car and Nikki took the wheel, whilst Helen made sure she knew where she was headed for.

A while later, the occupants of the car were sleeping and it was already early evening as Nikki tried to negotiate her way to Stirling, the place where Helen had been born, and where her father still lived. Nikki was having a right time of it, she was sure she had followed Helen's directions properly but was having doubts. Helen stirred beside her and blinked a few times.

"Sorry sweetheart, I didn't mean to fall asleep. Are you alright?" Helen shifted in her seat and reached for a bottle of water.

"Yes love I'm fine." Nikki wasn't sure where they were, "feel better now you've had a kip?" she smiled.

"I do, I needed to re-charge my batteries for tonight, I've got a whole tin of fruit to get through!" Helen grinned as Nikki stuck her tongue out at her. "Were the directions I gave you ok?" Helen took a mouthful of water and passed the bottle to Nikki.

"Yeah they were fine." Nikki took the bottle and drank from it before passing it back to Helen.

"Where are we?" Helen tried to look for somewhere that was familiar.

"We should be there soon." Nikki dodged the question. Sounding just a bit too evasive even to her own ears.

"Where are we Nik?" Yvonne piped up from behind her.

"Don't you fucking well start, we'll be there soon. You'll know when we are because the car will stop moving and I'll switch the engine off. Then I'll say to you, we're here Yvonne." Nikki was getting sarcastic again.

"Crabby cow." Yvonne shook her head and lit up a cigarette.

Helen did the same; she passed the cigarette to Nikki and then lit one for herself. Nikki found it amusing, Helen had always been anti-smoking and here she was puffing away like it was going out of fashion.

"You don't know where we are do you?" Helen smiled, she couldn't help it. The way Nikki was desperately trying not to own up to being lost was adorable.

"Course I do." Nikki blustered on.

"So where are we then? And how long till we get to Stirling?" Helen tried not to laugh.

"We're close to Stirling and it shouldn't be more than an hour say?" Nikki knew it was vague, she also knew she'd been caught out.

"You haven't got a fucking clue where we are!" Helen burst out laughing, "Just admit it, you're lost sweetheart."

"I am not lost!" Nikki shot back.

"Yes you are! I haven't the foggiest where we are so I'm damn sure you don't either." Helen said in between giggles.

"We are not lost! I'm taking the scenic route." Nikki was getting defensive.

"Scenic route? Via where? Inverness?" Helen was still giggling.

"You're getting right on my tits." a smile crept in to Nikki's voice.

"I'm not actually on your tits but if you hurry up and find our hotel then I could be." Helen flirted outrageously.

"I hope that's a promise." Nikki leered at her, "Helen?"

"Yes babe?" Helen looked over fondly at Nikki.

"I haven't got a fucking clue where we are!" Nikki burst out laughing.

"Aww my poor wee baby! Don't worry, I'll get you there soon enough." Helen patted her on the knee and then started scanning the scenery for somewhere that looked familiar.

"It wasn't strictly my fault anyway." Nikki took a left as Helen suddenly recognised where they were and pointed her in the right direction.

"Why's that? I thought you said the directions I gave you were fine?" Helen replied and then pointed to the next road on the right.

"They would have been, had I been able to follow them properly, but I couldn't and it really wasn't my fault." Nikki indicated and turned right.

"You were the one driving so if it wasn't your fault then I would love to know whose it was."

"The fault of the Scottish." Nikki said matter of factly.

"How did you come to that conclusion?" Helen looked at her smiling.

"If the bloody road signs were written in proper English, instead of Scottish, then I wouldn't have had this problem. Not my fault I'm a foreigner in these parts is it?" Nikki started giggling

"Written in Scottish? I'm not even going to reply to that!" Helen chuckled, "you keep saying things like that and you won't last five minutes up here believe me. Bloody Sassenach!"

"Oh give me a home….where the Haggis roam!" Nikki began to sing.

"Are you sure you should have agreed to marry her?" Karen said laughing from the seat behind them.

"Oh absolutely, she may be a nutter, but she's my nutter." Helen replied with a chuckle and then got back to giving Nikki directions.

Helen was true to her word, three quarters of an hour later, they were on the outskirts of Stirling and heading towards their hotel. Nikki soon parked and switched off the engine.

"Hey Yvonne, the car stopped, we're here." Nikki took the keys from the ignition.

"Funny arse! My sides are splitting." Yvonne rolled her eyes and climbed out of the car, as Nikki grinned cheekily at her.

After checking in, they spent a quiet half an hour in their rooms before going down to dinner. Helen was relaxed, it was good to be home and even better that Nikki was with her. Nikki on the other hand was still like a cat on hot bricks, despite Helen's reassurance that she had nothing to worry about. She had heard stories about William Stewart from Helen before, and she went to bed that night convinced that going to see him the next day, would be like stepping in to the seventh circle of hell.

Part 23

New Year's Eve

Nikki was parked at a set of traffic lights a few miles away from Helen's father's house, and nervously tapped her fingers on the steering wheel. Helen was too nervous to drive, she couldn't get her hands to stop shaking and she didn't have a clue what she was going to say to her father when she got there. Nikki could fully understand how she was feeling, and continued to drive in silence so that she could have time to think.

Helen was going over different scenarios in her head, trying to pick out which one she thought would be best. In the end she decided that the direct approach was probably the best way forward, she would rather come right out with what she had to say than pussyfoot around it. The direct approach had worked with Sean when she had been to see him two days previously; he had in fact been grateful for her honesty.

She had pulled up outside his house, with Nikki in tow, not knowing what to expect when she rang the doorbell. She was quite shocked when he opened the door with a baby in his arms, which turned out to be his daughter, as she had suspected. He looked surprised to see them too but recovered quickly and invited them in. He left the baby with Helen while he went to make some coffee, and she and Nikki had cooed over the baby, thinking about what it would be like to have a child of their own.

She had passed the baby back over to Sean when he came back and told him how beautiful she was, she wasn't just being nice, the baby was remarkably cute. He had put her down for a nap shortly afterwards and then gave Helen his full attention, he had been curious as to why she had shown up after two years. She explained all about Nikki and how she had realised she was gay but was afraid to admit it and that was why their relationship had never quite worked out. But she did tell him that they weren't ever really suited anyway and he had agreed with her, saying that after he had time to think, he came to the same conclusion himself.

He talked about how it had all turned out for the best because now they were both happy with new partners and they weren't making each others lives miserable anymore. He even apologised for embarrassing her in front of the entire wing by childishly burning his suit, which now they could laugh about. He reassured her that she was forgiven, and that he appreciated her taking the time to visit him. Helen noticed how different he was, he seemed to have grown up now that he was married with a child, the childish attitude he once had, had disappeared completely.

They sat chatting for a while until his wife came home from a shopping trip. They were introduced and she studied Helen closely, she had always been curious about what Sean's ex had been like. Helen stayed for five minutes to be polite before deciding it was time to leave, not wanting to intrude any more than she already had. Sean escorted them to the door and hugged them both goodbye, if he was honest it had been good for him to see Helen again, just so that they could clear things up between them. She looked happy with Nikki and he was pleased for her. Helen was pleased for him too, she was happy that he managed to sort his life out after she had so very nearly wrecked it.

Helen was only ten minutes away from her father's house now and started to feel butterflies in her stomach. Nikki fumbled for her cigarettes, she lit one for Helen, and then she lit one of her own.

"Are you still panicking?" Nikki felt stupid for asking, Helen was obviously in full flap mode. Nikki opened the window slightly to let the smoke out while she waited for Helen's reply.

"Not panicking as such, just really nervous." Helen took a drag of her cigarette and inhaled deeply.

"Should I be worried? I mean does your old man eat newborns? Only you read about that type of thing in the news of the world and I wondered if he was the type." Nikki's attempt at humour made Helen giggle.

"Nah, he gave babies up years ago, he only bathes in virgin's blood these days." Helen responded with a smile and Nikki sniggered.

"Well it looks like we're perfectly safe then!"

"After what I did to you last night with that tin of fruit then I would say you were absolutely correct on that score!" Helen felt warmth flooding right through her at the memory.

"Has Claire managed to get details out of you yet?" Nikki wondered if she would be in for more piss taking.

"I'm not daft. I was the one playing with the fruit last night, you think I want them taking the piss out of me?" Helen started laughing again.

"You little!…..just you wait, I'm going to tell Claire all about it, every last sordid little detail." Nikki blew smoke out of her window.

"You wouldn't dare. They'd make fun of me; I would start to cry and then what would you do?" Helen pretended to be upset.

"Oh I would you know. If you want to play with the big girls then you have to behave like one." Nikki shrugged in mock indifference.

"Oh the betrayal, how could you treat your future wife that way?" Helen's Scottish accent didn't mix too well with Scarlet O'Hara's.

"Same way you betrayed me by telling all and sundry that I tangoed with you on the kitchen table." Nikki smiled.

"I didn't tell all and sundry, it was only Claire and she used to be able to keep her mouth shut until she got together with Trish." Helen's mouth suddenly went dry when she realised she was only a minute or so away from her father's house.

"Trish tends to have that effect on people, she's another one who's good at interrogation." Nikki threw the cigarette butt out of the window. "Where now?"

"It's up there on the left." Helen's face had lost its colour, and she was looking very pale indeed.




"I don't know what you're terrified for, he's never eaten one of my partners yet. Mind you, you're the only one I've ever taken home." Helen managed a small smile, she felt a bit braver when she thought about how Nikki would be with her the entire time.

"Not only am I the first one you've taken home, I'm a woman and he'll probably flip and want to murder me. Just you wait, he'll blackmail you into helping him bury my body under the patio." Nikki laughed.

"Yeah probably. It's been lovely knowing you sweetheart." Helen chuckled as Nikki parked in her father's driveway.

"Gee thanks Helen, I love you too." Nikki winked and then got out of the car.

They walked up the path hand in hand until Helen rang the doorbell, then Nikki let go. She wanted Helen to be able to explain things to him without immediately noticing it because of their closeness. Nikki took several deep breaths and willed her heartbeat to slow down, she knew meeting your lover's parents was never easy but this was verging on traumatic. A shadow shuffled about behind the panes of glass in the door and then it was opened to reveal a man who looked absolutely nothing like Helen at all. He was blonde and heavy set, whereas Helen was dark and slim. Nikki surmised Helen took after her mother.

"Helen!" he was shocked to see his daughter on the doorstep.

"Hiya dad, it's great to see you." she smiled warmly at him, she saw him in a different light now.

"It's great too see you too lass." his face broke out in to a very rare smile. Helen hadn't seen him smile since before her mother had died. "Well come in out of the cold, who's your friend here?"

"Dad this is Nikki, and she is a lot more to me than a friend." Helen didn't want to beat around the bush; she thought it was best to tell him as soon as possible.

"Nice to meet you Nikki." he shook her hand, "more than a friend eh? You better come in and tell me all about it." he knew what she meant, if he was honest, the signs had always been there that his daughter was gay.

Nikki and Helen looked relieved, they knew he got the gist of why they were more than friends and hadn't expected it to go quite so well. Helen had expected him to go mad, but could see he was making an effort, and she was grateful. They took a seat in the kitchen while William made some tea, shortly afterwards he sat down in front of them.

"So what's this about you two being more than friends?"

"Nikki is my partner dad, we're lovers." Helen felt a little awkward about mentioning the word 'lover' to her father. It was one of those parent child things that everybody felt embarrassed about.

"I did wonder when I saw you two walk up the path holding hands." he chuckled at the look on their faces, "I may be an old man but there is bugger all wrong with my eye sight."

"Aren't you angry?" Helen took a sip of her tea, she held on tightly Nikki's hand under the table, she had been holding it since they sat down.

"Och no, course not. I always suspected you were different hen; it would bother some people but not me. Are you happy? Does Nikki give you what you need?"

"Yes dad, I'm happier than I've ever been. I love her to bits, she's good for me." Helen felt Nikki relax beside her.

"Then you've found your Mary." he smiled at them both.

"Sorry dad, I don't follow." Helen wondered what he was going on about.

"Well if you remember, and I'm sure you do, when you were sixteen I told you that love didn't exist. I was bitter and twisted about losing your mother, and I suppose in my own strange way I was trying to protect you from ever getting your heart broken. If you didn't think love existed then you weren't likely to go looking for it, strange logic I know! But even after all you've been through, you found Nikki just like I found your mother, you found your Mary." he smiled fondly at his daughter.

"Oh dad." tears sprang to Helen's eyes and she held Nikki's hand tighter.

"I'm perfectly ok with you and Nikki being together. I don't care if she's a woman, if she makes you happy then that's ok with me."

"Thank you Mr. Stewart that means a lot." Nikki gave him a thankful smile.

"My pleasure lass. I really would like you both to stay for lunch unless you have plans?"

"None at all dad, we'd love to stay, wouldn't we Nikki?" Helen looked to Nikki for confirmation.

"Yes, we'd like that very much." Nikki gave him a warm smile.

"That's grand! But first there are things I need to say to you Helen, things I need to explain." Her father cleared his throat and became serious.

"While you two have a chat, I'm going to nip out for a cigarette." Nikki stood up and gave Helen's shoulder a squeeze.

"You don't have to Nikki." Helen wanted her to stay; she didn't want her to think she was in the way.

"Helen's right, you should stay." William smiled up at her.

"No really, you two need some time alone. I'll just be outside if you need me." she smiled at Helen and left them to it as she went out in to the back yard.

The air was freezing but refreshing and Nikki took a deep breath, she felt miles better than she had before now that she knew Helen's dad was ok with their relationship. Then she went sick when she realised he didn't know about her being an ex-con, and a murderer at that. She didn't want to see it all ruined just because her life had taken a turn for the worse somewhere along the line.

She sighed, worrying about it wasn't going to get her anywhere, maybe they would be lucky and he would be reasonable about it. On the other hand, Nikki knew most fathers would go postal when told their daughters were living with a convicted murderer. Nikki's conviction had been reduced to manslaughter but it still didn't sound very attractive when dropped in to a conversation. Her mobile began to ring; she fished in her pocket and answered it.


"Hiya Nik, it's me." Yvonne said cheerfully on the other end.

"Hello me!" Nikki giggled, "what do you want anyway Atkins?" Nikki put on a fake east end accent.

"Has Helen's old man gone ballistic?"

"Can you hear any screams?"

"No, so I take it that it went well?"

"Actually no, he threatened to disown Helen if she stayed with me, so she gave in and agreed to run away and join the nearest convent." Nikki chuckled.

"Are you ever serious?" Yvonne was smiling on the other end.

"Not if I can help it. Listen Yvonne, I've got a bloody big problem and I'm not sure what to do about it."

"Tell your old mate Yvonne, we'll find a way around it." Yvonne got comfortable and waited for Nikki to begin.

"Helen's dad doesn't know I was in jail, he might go ballistic when he finds out and I don't want to ruin it for Helen."

"Only one thing you can do, you gotta tell him anyway. You can't keep something like that a secret. If he goes mental then he goes mental, nothing you can do about it. You know Helen will support you."

"Yeah I know but she only just made up with him, and I don't want her to lose him all over again." Nikki banged her feet together, she was freezing.

"Like I said, it can't be helped. I'm sure Helen would back me up on this." Yvonne was confident.

"Yeah well, we'll have to wait and see, thanks for the advice mate. What are you up to?"

"Nothing much really, I'm sitting having a quiet coffee while the other three are buying a chunk of Stirling. They're going nuts in the shops, and you know I love shopping as much as the next woman but I can't keep up."

"I don't envy you! I would much rather face ten angry father-in-laws than go shopping with those three." Nikki sniggered.

She continued to chatter on the phone, while Helen had sat listening to what her father had to say.

"And you look so much like your mum, which is why it was hard for me. It's taken me a long time to realise how badly I treated you and even longer to say I'm sorry. I mean it though lass, I'm truly sorry for what I did, and I would change it all if could. Despite the childhood you had, you've turned out to be a terrific person and I couldn't wish for a better daughter, even though I have no right to say it. I've never told you but I'm so proud of you and your achievements, I always have been."

"I can't say how much that means to me dad, I've always wanted you to be proud of me, and all these years you have been and I just didn't know it." Helen's tears trickled down her face.

"Hey come on, no tears eh? You're too beautiful for tears, and I'm a silly old sod that's not worth crying over." He took Helen in his arms for the first time since she was a child.

Helen clung on to him, a feeling of happiness washed through her entire being; her dad did love her after all. She could smell the familiar scent of old spice and felt comforted by it.

"I understand how hard it was for you dad, I know how it feels when you love somebody but somehow end up pushing them away. I hurt Nikki more times than I can count, I'm not proud of it but she's still with me because she loves me. Love is all about forgiveness, and I know that mum would want us to be friends."

"Aye she would, and I would like that too. I know it's going to take us a while to get used to each other but I want to be your father again, I've missed you." His voice cracked and his eyes began to tear up.

"I've missed you too." Helen wiped away the tear that ran down his cheek, and pulled him in to another hug.

An hour later they were laughing and joking in the kitchen as Helen's father prepared some sandwiches for lunch. Nikki knew Helen hadn't gotten around to telling him where they had met and knew he had to know soon. It was tempting to leave it and not tell him but he would still need to be told in the long run and it would only hurt him if he found out another way. Helen was getting ready to tell him but Nikki stopped her, it was her problem and she should be the one to break it to him.

"Mr. Stewart?"

"Call me Bill hen." He stopped what he was doing and turned around.

"There's something I have to tell you, I know you've had a really emotional day so far but this really isn't something I can leave for another time." Nikki looked terrified, she didn't want it all to go wrong now, not when Helen had gotten her father back after all these years.

"No need to look so scared. What's the matter?" he sat down at the table and laced his fingers.

"Helen met me while she worked at Larkhall prison."

"Oh you're a prison officer too? That's nice." he smiled, thinking he understood.

"No, I'm not a prison officer Bill; I was one of the prisoners. We met when Helen was my wing governor and we fell in love." Nikki could have killed for another cigarette at that point, and a shot of vodka wouldn't have gone amiss either.

"What were you in for?" his smile had disappeared.

"I was originally convicted of murder, but my conviction was reduced to manslaughter." The bomb had been dropped and Nikki waited for the fallout.

"I see." he said quietly.

"But it's not how you think dad, she isn't a murderer, it was self defence. Nikki is the gentlest person I know." Helen hoped he could see the gentleness in Nikki, just like she could.

"Good lord Helen! How could you get involved with a prisoner? You should know better than that. It's one thing being done for a bit of shoplifting or something but murder? I can't let you ruin your life like this Helen."

"It didn't bloody well bother you before, look…." Helen shut up when Nikki placed a hand on her arm.

"It's ok Helen." she took hold of her hand and then turned to Bill, "You said you liked me, you said you were glad that Helen was happy. I'm the same person I was when I showed up a couple of hours ago, so what's changed?" Nikki kept calm; she knew losing her temper wouldn't do any good.

"I won't deny that I liked you, but that was before I found out what you are, before I had all the facts. Helen never told me you were a murderer!"

"And Helen didn't tell me what a narrow minded old sod you are!" Nikki had finally lost her temper even though she had tried hard not to.

Both Nikki and Bill stood looking at each other defiantly across the kitchen, Helen was glaring at her father, she wouldn't put up with him treating Nikki like that. Helen was about to speak when Nikki beat her to it.

"I didn't mean to kill anybody, and I would give anything to change it, I really would. I didn't take another person's life just for the fun of it and I want you to know the whole story. Prison was an experience that I wish I had never had to go through, but it taught me a few things about myself, if I could survive prison then I knew I could survive anything. It also gave me a few good friends and most importantly it's where I met Helen…." Nikki took a breath and was cut off.

"So somebody had to die but it's ok because you've made a few friends and met my daughter? Do you realise how awful that would sound to the victim's family?" Bill folded his arms and shook his head.

"You didn't let me finish. Helen saw something in me that nobody else did, as far as they were concerned I was a murderer, plain and simple. Helen could see past that, she could see the person I was inside. She had faith in me when nobody else did, and encouraged me to do something with my time in there, which I did by taking an open university degree course." Nikki looked him straight in the eye, "it's thanks to Helen that I'm free now, she fought to get me out of that place because she knew I didn't belong there. The man I killed, who was a policeman by the way, was trying to rape my ex-girlfriend. I tried to stop him and I couldn't. I stuck a bottle in him so that I could get him away from her; I had no time to think about what I was doing. I know what I did was wrong and I've served my time for it but I wouldn't hesitate to do it again if somebody I loved was being threatened. I would rather spend the rest of my days in jail than have anybody hurt Helen, you can understand that can't you?"

"Yes, yes I can." came the quiet reply.

"So you see Mr. Stewart, I did something I should never have done, but Helen can see the type of person I really am and I was hoping you would too. I love her, I've never loved anybody like I love Helen, I owe her my life and I would never do anything to hurt her."

"She means it dad, she would never knowingly hurt me. I love her and I feel safe with her. Until you get to know her properly then you can't make judgments based on something you know nothing about. When you get to know her like I do then you will come to realise that she should never have been sent to prison in the first place." Helen moved closer to Nikki, he would just have to accept that they would still be together whether he liked it or not.

"I'm sorry Nikki. I was trying not to be an idiot all my life and have a day off but….." he shrugged his shoulders and smiled, as Nikki gave a short chuckle.

"It's ok Mr. Stewart honestly. We all deserve a second chance." Nikki was willing to let it go. Helen however, didn't quite see it that way.

"That wasn't fair dad and saying you're sorry and then making a joke of it doesn't make it all better. You're always quick to judge other people and I won't put up with you treating Nikki unfairly. I think she deserves more of an apology than that." Helen's eyes where shooting daggers at him.

"You're absolutely right. I'm really sorry, I don't think before I speak at times and this is one of those times. I wasn't in possession of the facts and made a snap decision for which I'm sorry. You really are a very nice person and I can see why Helen loves you. I hope that you continue to make my daughter as happy as you do and I look forward to getting to know you better." He held out his hand for Nikki to shake.

"Apology accepted, thank you." Nikki smiled and shook his hand.

"Dad, finish off the lunch. Nikki give me a ciggy, I'm going out for a smoke. While I'm gone, behave yourselves will you?" Helen gave them both a stern look, then smiled and took Nikki's cigarettes from her before heading towards the back door.

"Was she always like that in Larkhall Nikki?" Bill said laughing.

"Hmmm not all the time, but she had her moments. I love it when she's bossy." Nikki grinned.

Helen closed the door behind her with a big smile on her face; things were at long last looking very rosy indeed.

Later on that afternoon when they were getting ready to leave, Helen decided to ask her father if he had any plans for New Year.

"What are you doing tonight dad?"

"Same as always lass, I'm going to stare at the TV while I work my way through a bottle of whisky." he chuckled softly.

"Why don't you come out tonight? The hotel we are staying at is having a party so why don't you join us?"

"No I don't think so, I don't usually celebrate Hogmanay."

"Then it's time you started. The party starts at half seven, so don't be late." Helen wagged a finger at him then hugged him.

"You got yourself a deal, I'll be there, and I'll drag the old kilt out!" He was looking forward to the idea now.

"Oh god, that will be a sight for sore eyes. See you later." Helen waved to him and then got in to the car.

"Don't take this the wrong way, you'll understand why I'm asking in a minute, but is your dad rich?" Nikki turned left on to the main road.

"I wouldn't have thought so. I suspect he has a few bob and I know the house is bought and paid for. Why?" Helen wondered what Nikki was thinking about.

"I figured he might be rich and you were hoping that by exposing him to Yvonne and the rest of the gang that he'd have a heart attack and you'd get your hands on his cash." Nikki sniggered.

"You have an evil mind!" Helen laughed, "and after spending a few hours with that lot then so will he. Thanks for coming with me today Nikki, I couldn't have done it without you." Helen reached over and rubbed the back of Nikki's neck.

"Hey what are fiancée's for?" Nikki smiled briefly and then turned her attention back to the traffic.

"If you aren't sure what a fiancée is for then hurry up and get me back to the hotel so I can show you. It might take all afternoon if you're lucky." Helen noticed Nikki's face break out in to a grin.

"How can I refuse an offer like that?" Nikki's heart was already racing at the prospect of an afternoon in bed with the woman she adored.


Two years later

Christmas Eve

Helen sat with her feet propped up on the coffee table, whilst she chatted to Karen who sat opposite her in an armchair. Nikki was in the kitchen with Yvonne and Claire, and Trish was chatting to Helen's dad Bill. Helen was heavily pregnant, she was due any day with their first child, and was finding the last few weeks of her pregnancy very tiring. Her hands rested across her bump and she was twisting her wedding ring around her finger like she always did. She's had the summer wedding she had always wanted and now two years down the line, they were living in a big house and were keen to fill it with children.

They had bought their four bedroom house a year ago when they both decided the time was right to try for a baby, and this would be the second Christmas they had spent there. It had become a tradition for everybody to go to Nikki and Helen for Christmas.

"Not long now eh Helen?" Karen couldn't wait; they were all excited about the baby.

"No thank god! It's at the point where I'm so tired and I can't wait to get it all over with. I'm too uncomfortable to sleep at night, my bump keeps getting in the way." Helen shifted to try and get comfy.

"I remember the feeling well." Karen remembered back to when she had been pregnant, the end result was nice but the stuff you went through to get there wasn't always pleasant.

"I hate disturbing Nikki you know? But she's so sweet about it bless her, she sits up with me when I can't sleep, no matter how tired she is. Every time I get up to pee which is every half hour practically, she gets up with me to make sure I'm ok." Helen smiled proudly.

"Aww that really is sweet, mind you that's Nikki all over." Karen smiled fondly, Nikki was one in a million, but then again so was Helen and she thought they were well matched.

Nikki came in from the kitchen with some drinks, followed by Claire and Yvonne. She handed a glass to Helen and sat down beside her.

"Ok sweetheart?" Nikki wrapped her arm around Helen as she shifted slightly and leaned against her.

"Yeah I'm fine thanks babe, just a little uncomfortable. Got a niggling pain, just like last night." Helen pulled a face.

"Is that normal?" Nikki looked slightly worried.

"Karen says it is so try not to worry." she kissed Nikki and then leaned her head on her shoulder. "What's this?" she held up the glass and looked at it.

"It's one of those alcohol free cocktail whatsits, it's all fruit juice based." Nikki replied.

"Oh we're not on the subject of fruit again are we?" Trish spotted a golden opportunity and took it, "would you like us all to hoist Helen on to the kitchen table?" Trish giggled.

"We're not still on about that are we?" Nikki had forgotten about Helen's dad being there "it's been two years now and you're still going on about me smearing Helen with fruit on the kitchen table and then shagging her senseless."

Helen started laughing and covered her face with her hands as she saw the look on Nikki's face.

"Newsflash for you, that tin of fruit you bought us Trish, came in really handy. Only this time Helen was the one doing the smearing and then she shagged me senseless. It wasn't quite on a kitchen table but hey you can't have everything!" Nikki shook her head in amusement, and then remembered Helen's dad was there, "alright Bill?" she tried to look nonchalant.

That brought forth fresh giggles from Helen, who was now laughing like a mad woman. Nikki knew she would be laughing for quite some time; her belly laugh had come in to play.

"Kitchen table eh?" Bill nodded his head, "I've never tried it on a kitchen table but Helen's mum and I once…."

"BILL!" Nikki held up her hand and stopped him, "too much information love." she smiled as he started laughing.

"….did it in a hammock." he finished off.

Nikki groaned and Helen giggled harder.

"Thanks to you lot she's going to go in to labour any bloody minute! I don't fancy seeing my baby shoot across the living room and come to a stop in front of the TV!" Nikki shook her head at them all.

"How long have you got now Helen?" Claire was sat next to Trish with her hand on her knee.

"Almost a week, but they said it could be any time before or after, babies show up when they like apparently." Helen took a sip of her juice and rubbed her bump, the pain was getting a little worse.

"Yeah babies are notorious for it; my Lauren was a week overdue. I didn't think she was ever going to bother moving, and by the time I went it to labour, I was more than ready. It really gets you down doesn't it?" Yvonne piped up from across the room.

"Yeah it does, you get tired and you know your body has had enough, you keep hoping it won't last much longer." Helen grimaced and rubbed her stomach, "ow."

"What's the matter sweetheart?" Nikki turned to face Helen instantly concerned.

"Just the baby moving around, keeps kicking me." Helen smiled as Nikki reach across to rub her stomach.

"This is your other mum speaking here little one, we know you've got plenty of energy, cos you're always awake when your mum is trying to sleep. But do her a favour and keep your little legs still cos I'm led to believe when you kick it really hurts." The entire room was focused on Nikki and Helen. A few eyes moistened at the sight of Nikki kissing the bump and then kissing Helen.

"Seems to have had the desired effect, the baby's stopped moving." Helen smiled at Nikki, "although I reckon we are being lulled in to a false sense of security, he or she will move in a minute and kick me again. OOOO you little sod!" Helen grimaced again.

"I'm telling you, that's definitely a girl and she's a lot like you, very stubborn, and never does as she is told." Nikki rubbed Helen's stomach again.

"That hurt, she got me right under the ribs." Helen noticed Nikki grinning at her, "what are you grinning at?"

"You said she, I told you it's a girl."

"Well we don't know that yet." Helen shook her head smiling; they always had this same conversation.

"I'm telling you, it's a girl."

"We'll see."

"Yes we will." Nikki was adamant it was a girl, she just had a feeling.

Helen got up to go to the toilet a short while later and insisted that she would be ok when Nikki jumped up to help her. She told her to sit back down, knowing that the poor woman must be worn out; she kept tabs on her twenty four hours constantly making sure she was ok. Helen went to the loo and then washed her hands. As she was drying them off, she felt a pain in her stomach and clenched her teeth in response. She felt something wet and warm gush down her legs and knew her waters had broken. She staggered from the bathroom as the pain made her breathe heavily.

"Nikkiiiiiii!" Helen shouted down the stairs.

"Bloody hell, Helen!" Nikki shot up off the couch, and made it up the stairs in record time, with the others following not far behind.

Helen was breathing heavily and holding on to the banister for support when Nikki got there. She realised Helen must be in labour and began to rub her back in a soothing gesture.

"Claire, can you do me a favour? In our bedroom there is a little black overnight bag, it's got Helen's stuff in. Can you get it for me and put it in the car?" Nikki was amazingly calm.

"Yeah sure I can." Claire rushed off to get the bag.

"Come on sweetheart, let's get you downstairs and to the hospital eh?" she coaxed Helen to let go of the banister.

"Oh god, it hurts Nikki." Helen's teeth were clenched, she was in agony.

"I know sweetheart I know. As soon as we get to the hospital then they can give you something for the pain. Just hold on to me."

"You won't leave me will you Nikki?" Helen looked worried.

"I won't leave you babe I promise, come on not far to go." Nikki was nearly half way down the stairs with Helen by that time.

Helen just wanted to stop and roll about in agony but Nikki kept her moving along and they were soon at the car. She helped Helen in to the passenger seat and then looked at the others with a big smile on her face.

"I'll call you all and let you know what happens ok?" she gave them the thumbs up.

They all stood waving as the car sped away, and then went back in to the house to sit by the telephone, so they wouldn't miss Nikki's call. Meanwhile, Helen was trying to control her breathing while Nikki drove as fast as the speed limit would allow. She spoke to Helen the entire way there, making sure that she kept her as calm as possible.

"This is bloody typical of us isn't it?" Nikki said trying to take Helen's mind off what was happening.

"What is?" Helen looked at her with a pained look on her face.

"You going in to labour on Christmas Eve. The baby did it just to piss me off." Nikki started laughing, "I did ask her to behave and now she's getting me back in the worst way possible!"

"You're paranoid Wade." Helen couldn't help laughing.

"I think not! I asked her to behave and she retaliates by sending you in to labour. She knows it's bloody Christmas and she's timed it well." Nikki pretended to be annoyed.

"How could she possibly know?" Helen's mind was on Nikki now and not the pain, so it was working.

"She listens in to our conversations." Nikki rubbed Helen's stomach "yes that's right, I know you're listening. You did this on purpose so it costs your mum and me double at Christmas you little rat fink! Good job we love you."

"Nikki you're mental! She can hear us but it doesn't mean she understands." Helen giggled; Nikki always knew how to make her laugh.

"What about last week when I was watching that film on telly? You weren't keen on watching it, so she starts kicking, I'm forced to forget the film and rub your stomach instead while you switch over! It's like a conspiracy or something, I can see I'm going to have to keep an eye on you both." Nikki knew they weren't far from the hospital now.

"Pure coincidence. If I could get her to do as I ask then I would have had this pregnancy lark cracked ages ago!" Helen smiled fondly at Nikki. Even she was calling the baby a 'she' now.

"Ah yes but did you want to though? I've been treating you like royalty these past nine months and haven't let you lift a finger. I bet you wanted to keep it a secret between the two of you." Nikki narrowed her eyes and threw a mock glare in Helen's direction.

"You've always treated my like royalty sweetheart." She patted Nikki's knee.

"Yep, breakfast in bed, candlelit meals, baths, massages, foot rubs, lets face it I spoil you rotten. Oh yeah and plenty of loving, well not so much these days, I can hardly make mad passionate love to you in your condition." Nikki smiled.

"Ah but you can as soon as I get rid of this." Helen pointed to her bump, "just think how much fun we will have making up for lost time." Helen winked at her.

"Oh I can't wait. Well here we are sweetheart." Nikki pulled up at the hospital entrance.

"We're here?" Helen hadn't realised, the journey seemed to go over so quickly, "thanks Nikki, for taking my mind off things and for being you." Helen kissed Nikki as she leaned over her.

"My pleasure darlin' lets get you inside then, I could do with a cuppa." she laughed as Helen gave her a death ray stare.

"Oh I'm so sorry I inconvenienced you by going in to labour. Perhaps I should have consulted your diary and penned the baby in for next week?" Helen sat down in a wheelchair provided by the staff who were now ushering them through into reception.

"Yeah actually that would have been better, cos I really did have plans for tonight." Nikki rolled her eyes, "but now you know, you can make sure it doesn't happen a second time." Nikki patted Helen on the shoulder.

"What second time? You must be bananas if you think I'm going to go through all this again. Being an only child isn't that bad." Helen looked horrified at the thought.

"Yeah but look at the way you turned out! No Helen we need more than one child." Nikki started laughing again.

"You cheeky sod! Just you wait till I'm mobile again." Helen flashed a grin in her direction.

"You'll have to catch me first." Nikki winked at her, "mind you, maybe I want to be caught."

Nikki was told to give Helen's details in at the nurse's station on the maternity unit, as Helen was wheeled off to see a doctor. The woman behind the desk seemed to be taking an extraordinarily long time to feed the details in to the computer and Nikki was getting ticked off. Just before she was about to lose her temper she was told to make her way to room number 2 at the end of the corridor, where Helen was being examined.

"You ok sweetheart?" Nikki closed the door behind her, and smiled at Helen, before smiling at the nurse who was checking her over.

"Yeah I'm ok, what took you so long? You said you wouldn't leave me." Helen glared at her.

"The receptionist was a bit slow." Nikki looked apologetic, "here comes the mood swings." Nikki thought.

"It doesn't matter, you're back now." Helen's head flopped back on the pillow.

"Tired?" she stroked Helen's hair back from her forehead.

"Oh no, I'm full of energy thanks. I think I'll go for a run in a minute." Helen said sarcastically, "sorry, I didn't mean that." Helen looked sorry.

"Its ok babe, it's your hormones." she kissed Helen's cheek.

"Get used to it girls, cos you'll get a whole lot crankier before the night is out. We've had expectant mothers reduce their husbands to gibbering wrecks, I've seen blokes in floods of tears and all before the baby shows up." the nurse smiled at them.

"Nikki is quite resilient, I think she'll cope." Helen smiled up at the nurse, and rubbed Nikki's arm.

"Oh yeah, if I can put up with three years worth of mornings listening to Dockley singing her tits off in the shower, then I'm sure getting shouted at by you during labour will be a breeze." Nikki remarked dryly and Helen giggled.

The next two hours dragged by and Helen was still no further forward, the pain was getting worse but the baby was still a long way off. The doctor had been to see her and after a quick examination, left her in the capable hands of the midwife. Time still dragged on and Helen was getting restless but Nikki did her best to keep her calm. She went off to get them some tea and then they flipped the television on in the hopes that it would give them something to do.

Despite the pain, Helen eventually managed to doze off for a while; she was tired after her recent lack of sleep. Nikki noticed she had dropped off and went to make a quick phone call to the others at home, to pass on the latest news which admittedly wasn't much. She came back shortly afterwards to find Helen still dozing, and took the opportunity to close her eyes for five minutes herself, knowing that things would be hectic later on.

She heard Helen gasp in pain and her eyes shot open, she automatically looked at the clock, she had been asleep for an hour.

"Contraction?" Nikki rubbed her eyes and settled on the bed next to Helen, she pulled her in for a cuddle.

"A bloody big one. I wouldn't mind, I was happily snoring away there and wham!" Helen moved gingerly.

"Yeah me too, you nearly frightened the life out of me."

"Sorry sweetheart." Helen snuggled in to Nikki's side as much as she could.

"It will all be over soon darlin' I promise, all the pain will disappear and you can have a well deserved rest." Nikki kissed Helen on the forehead and held her hand.

"Thanks Nikki, you're always there for me whenever I need you. This would never have happened if you hadn't taken me back and I'm glad you did, I would never have survived without you. These last two years have been the happiest of my life." Helen felt tearful, "bloody hormones." she said as tears trickled down her face.

"Hey come on babe, don't cry." she wiped Helen's face with her thumbs, "I'll always be there for you, we're a team remember? We were meant to be together. Remember that day on the wing when you told me I was on rule 43?" Nikki found a subject she knew would take Helen's mind off things once again.

"I remember it well, I put you down the block cos you were starting to get right up my nose." Helen giggled softly, "I knew what you were saying was right but I could hardly tell you that."

"Ah it's all coming out now! I remember that little look you gave me when I bumped in to you." Nikki remembered it fondly.

"What little look?"

"You can't tell me you don't remember the little look? God Helen, that little look said so much. Your eyes kinda opened wide and you looked at me for a split second like you had never seen anything quite like me before. I wasn't sure what to make of it at the time but now I put it down to you noticing me." Nikki smiled, even the thought of it now made her heart skip a beat.

"How could I not notice you? I bumped into you remember?" Helen pretended to be exasperated.

"You know what I mean. When I admitted to myself that I was falling for you, I would often imagine what it would be like to be with you. You know how you looked in the morning when you were sleepy, how you looked when you were happy, what it would be like to wake up to you. Just different things like that, but I never in my wildest dreams thought that one day you and I would be married and having a baby. I can picture you stomping up the wing now in one of your 'soots' and I would never have believed it."

"Just goes to show you never know what's gonna happen." Helen quoted her much used phrase.

"True, I certainly didn't know it was gonna turn out like this. When I think of the times I spent laying on my bunk praying that you would notice me, I needn't have bothered, I should have had more faith in my devilish good looks!" Nikki brushed back her hair in a smug gesture.

"Don't get too big for your boots you! I can still impose rule 43 on you, the only difference being is when you head off down the block, this time I'm coming with you." Helen whispered huskily.

"Now that was another fantasy of mine. I kept hoping you would come down there, march in to the cell and order me to make love to you."

"I thought about it believe me." Helen could remember having the urge to spend some time alone with her while she was down there.

"What? You're kidding?" Nikki was shocked.

"Nope, I also often thought about dragging you in to my office or the shed, or anywhere else I could have a few minutes alone with you. The urge to make love to you was hard to resist but it shocked me at the same time and that's why I didn't."

"Well I never knew that, we'll have to have more talks like this, the things I learn when we do." Nikki was surprised, every time they talked about Larkhall she found something else out that she didn't know.

"I've probably got tons more revelations up my sleeve. Tell you what though, some of the things I thought about would make your hair curl." Helen remembered her old fantasies, some of which she had already acted out with Nikki.

"Oh such as?" Nikki was enjoying this conversation.

"I always had the urge to..ow!" Helen exclaimed as another contraction hit.

"Deep even breaths sweetheart, just try to relax, it will all be over soon." Nikki was rubbing Helen's back when the nurse came in.

A minute or so went by and another contraction hit, the midwife was called in and she informed Helen that she was fully dilated and ready to give birth. The medical team scurried around and Nikki held on to Helen, talking reassuringly to her, and making sure she was remembering her breathing exercises. The midwife took another look and then told Helen she could begin pushing when she felt the need to, which she did almost immediately.

"Ok dear, another big push." the midwife spoke from the end of the bed where she was watching for the baby's head.

"Come on love, big push." Nikki stroked Helen's forehead as she squeezed her hand in a vice like grip.

"I'm not deaf! I heard what she said!" Helen snapped.

"I know sweetheart." Nikki was unperturbed; she knew Helen couldn't help it.

Helen was red in the face and looked tired, it was all getting too much for her now and she had virtually no energy left. She slumped back on the bed in-between pushing, and Nikki wiped the sweat from her brow.

"I know you're tired sweetheart, shouldn't be long now." Nikki kissed her on the forehead.

"You said that hours ago." Helen groaned in pain, and then sucked on the gas and air, "no more babies Nikki, unless you're the one having them, I can't go through this again." Helen was totally exhausted.

"Me have babies? You must be joking! I'm far too fragile to go through pregnancy and especially not labour; it would be the end of me. You know how bad I am when I've got the flu; I mooch around the house for days and act as if I'm taking my last breath!"

"No you don't." Helen chuckled.

"I know but I made you laugh though didn't I?" Nikki felt awful, Helen was going through such a lot of pain and she felt partly responsible because she had agreed to children. "I'm sorry sweetheart."

"What for?" Helen groaned and took some more gas and air.

"For putting you through all this pain."

"Oh don't be daft Nikki, I wanted a baby too. Once the baby gets here then the pain will be gone and it will all have been worth it. But it's sweet that you worry about me." Helen smiled as much as she was able.

"I'll always worry about you, it's my job." Nikki winked at her.

Twenty minutes later, the baby finally put in an appearance, and the midwife announced it was indeed a girl. Nikki beamed, she knew she had been right all along and Helen grinned back at her.

"Would you like to cut the cord?" the midwife asked.

"Please." Nikki took the scissors and cut the cord, severing mother and baby, as Helen looked on proudly.

"Just a minute my loves, I'll clean the baby up and then you can hold her." the midwife smiled and whisked the baby off.

Helen relaxed against the pillows, as the tears trickled from her eyes. She was worn out but incredibly happy. Nikki sat on the bed beside her and kissed her gently on the lips.

"Did you see her? I can't believe that's our baby, well done sweetheart, I'm proud of you." Nikki was in awe of the tiny human being she had just seen Helen give birth to.

"I caught a glimpse of her, oh Nikki she's beautiful." Helen threw her arms around Nikki's neck. "We're going to have to behave now we're parents."

"Us behave? Never! I can just picture it. Sandpit in the garden, swings, climbing frame, paddling pool for when the weather is nice. We're going to have loads of fun when she's old enough to play." Nikki's face glowed.

"You'll make a great mum, you're a bloody big kid yourself." Helen smiled at her fondly.

The midwife came back with the baby and passed her to Helen, who carefully took hold of the small bundle and cuddled it to her. Nikki's heart melted at the sight of Helen holding their daughter, she took a picture of them while Helen was occupied, she would surprise her with the photo at a later date. She put the camera down and then sat beside Helen.

"She's beautiful, she looks just like you." Nikki became emotional.

"Why don't you hold her sweetheart?" Helen passed the baby over.

"She's so tiny." Nikki marveled at the baby's tiny fingers and toes, "less than an hour old and already she's taller than you Helen." Nikki chuckled softly as she stroked the baby's head.

"I'm too tired to respond to that." Helen smiled, and a lump formed in her throat as she watched Nikki cradle their daughter.

The midwife began sorting Helen out; Nikki stood by the window with the baby, and noticed it was snowing. It was 2 am on Christmas morning and she knew Yvonne and the others would still be up waiting for news. She rocked the baby gently back and forth in her arms and she made soft snuffling noises as Nikki held her.

"Welcome to the world little one, it's not perfect but it's not all bad either, you can't see it yet but from where I'm standing it looks magical. You should see the size of the snowflakes, they're bigger than your hand." Nikki used a fingertip to stroke the baby's hand, "You're so lucky, you've got two mums who love you so much, and you've got four aunties waiting at home with your granddad to hear all about you."

Helen listened as Nikki spoke to the baby, Nikki had forgotten that the nursing staff were there, but was still aware of Helen behind her. The nursing staff crept off quietly, so that they could have some privacy for a while.

"You're such a special little girl. You see we never thought we'd have you because your mum and I were a bit slow getting together, well scratch that your mum was slow, I was more than ready." Nikki heard Helen tut behind her and then laugh softly, "one day we'll tell you how we came to meet, and you'll laugh at how daft we were. It was quite a sad story to begin with, but then your mum and me found each other again and now we've got the happy ending we all wanted." Nikki kissed the baby's head.

Helen heard the words and tears spilled down her cheeks again; two years ago she had been totally alone. But now she had Nikki, her daughter, and her family at home, things couldn't have been better. She remembered the spirits; she sometimes thought about them and would often say a little prayer of thanks so that they knew how grateful she was that they had helped her to sort her life out.

"You're going to have such a great life; you'll have everything that your mum and I never had. Plenty of love, plenty of fun, and a whole group of people who'll be there for you no matter what. I remember when we told them your mum was pregnant, they were so excited, and I bet they can't wait to meet you. Come on sweetheart, lets pass you back to your mum for a bit." Nikki went back to the bed and handed the baby over.

"You're amazing." Helen smiled tearfully at her.

"So are you." Nikki leaned forward and kissed Helen softly on the lips, "I suppose I better go and call home, they'll all be waiting for some news. Still no ideas on a name yet?"

"Well I did want to name her after you, but it would get confusing having two Nikki's in the house. I can't really find a name I like." Helen had gone through lots of names but wasn't keen on many of them.

"Well what about a similar name then?" Nikki looked thoughtful, "what about Nicole?"

"What?" Helen was surprised; she had a flashback to her spirit visit.

"Nicole, it's a nice name, sorta like mine but can't confuse the two if we don't shorten it. What do you think?"

"I think what would be great." Helen smiled.

"Good. So now I can go and tell them that Nicole Wade just put in an appearance, and that the little minx was born on Christmas day, which will cost us a bloody fortune." Nikki sighed theatrically, "but you know what? She is beautiful just like you and she will be worth every penny. I won't be long." she leaned down to kiss Helen on the lips and went off for a cigarette, and a phone call.

Yvonne was on edge, she hoped everything would be alright, Karen told her to relax and stop worrying but she couldn't help it. Trish and Claire were anxious too, but Bill was calm about the whole thing, saying that babies took their own sweet time and couldn't be rushed. At 2:20 am, the telephone rang, everybody looked at Bill, but he shook his head. He was too nervous to answer it, so Yvonne dived for it instead.

"Is that you Nik?" Yvonne didn't bother with a hello, her nerves were shot.

"Yes it's me. Congratulations, you're an aunty!" Nikki heard cheers from the other end.

"Oh love, that's fantastic!" Yvonne was overjoyed, and did a little dance around the room with the others as she spoke in to the cordless phone.

"Helen had a little girl at about ten to two, weighed in at six pound seven ounces and they are both doing fine." Nikki's tears started to fall, she was so happy.

"Oh that's bloody marvelous! I'm so pleased for you darlin', are you ok?" Yvonne knew Nikki was crying.

"Yeah I'm ok, it's just so overwhelming. I never thought this day would come you know?" Nikki wiped her eyes and sniffed, "Well I better get back to Helen and our daughter." Nikki's tears started again.

"Pass our love on to her; tell her we can't wait to see her and the little one."

"Oh I nearly forgot, we named her Nicole." Nikki's voice was full of pride.

"Nicole Wade, that's got a nice ring to it. Go on you, back to Helen, she'll wonder where you are." Yvonne was anxious to tell the others the news.

"Ok I'm going now. I'm not sure when I'll be home but I've got my keys so you can all go off to bed."

"Alright love, see you soon, take care."

"See you soon, bye." Nikki put the phone down and took a last drag of her cigarette. Then she headed for the hospital entrance, and shook the snow from her shoes before she went it.

Helen lay back in bed as she cradled her baby daughter, she looked at her in wonder, it was hard to believe that this was real. She would never have guessed when she first met Nikki that they would end up together like this. She would never have believed that her future happiness lay with Nikki and she would always regret not giving in to her emotions sooner because life with her was everything Helen had ever dreamed of.

They'd had had their rough patches like any other couple but they never doubted the strength of their feelings nor had they doubted that they would always be together. They both knew that no matter what happened, their love was the one thing that they could count on. Helen kissed her daughter's head and sighed with happiness.

"Where's Nikki got to? I bet she's still on the phone, and no doubt having a cigarette, I could kill for one at the moment." Helen had been counting the days until she could take up smoking again, it was a habit she had become quite attached to, "she's one in a million is your mum you know, and we're very lucky because she loves us both very much." Helen stroked Nicole's head, "Just look at you, you're a gorgeous wee thing, my precious firstborn. I love you so much, I've loved you since the second I found out I was having you." Helen's eyes became moist, "I know I told your mum that I didn't want any more babies but I would eventually like to give you a little brother or sister, because I always wished I had somebody to play with and I know you will too. But we'll wait a while before we tell her eh? Cos I think she would go nuts if I told her I wanted more babies." Helen knew Nikki was standing there watching, she knew she had heard everything.

She crooked a finger at Nikki and beckoned her over. She leaned up to kiss her passionately and pulled away smiling.

"Can you put Nicole in her cot for me?" Helen was exhausted and wanted to rest while the baby did.

"Course I can sweetheart." Nikki took Nicole from Helen and then lay her in the cot beside the bed. Nikki then sat on the bed beside Helen and took her in to her arms.

"Hmmm this is nice." Helen closed her eyes and smiled as she snuggled in to Nikki.

"This is very nice, I can get near you for a start, no big bump in the way." Nikki patted Helen's stomach.

"I'd be lying if I said I missed it." Helen chuckled, "I bet my bellybutton ends up around my knees, you'll go right off me."

"Helen I would love you no matter what. You've always been beautiful to me and you always will be." Nikki kissed her to prove it, "They were all overjoyed at home, I could hear them all screaming down the phone. Nicole is going to be one spoilt little baby."

"I can just see what it's going to be like in the future. If she brings anybody home there will seven of us standing there with our arms crossed glaring at whoever it is." The thought made Helen laugh.

"She better hadn't bring any boys home, girls would be bad enough, but boys? No bloody way." Nikki was getting ready to wind Helen up.

"She might not be gay Nikki, just because we are doesn't mean she will be."

"I'm aware of that, but can you imagine what it will be like if she comes home one day and tells us she is straight? Can you just imagine the shame? What on earth would the neighbours think? I'm not sure I could live with the shame of having a heterosexual daughter." Nikki started to laugh when she saw Helen realize she had been wound up.

"You're a bloody wind up merchant Nik. Good job I'm totally in love with you." Helen shifted position and then pulled Nikki in for a kiss. "And if I hadn't just had a baby, and I wasn't so tired, I'd show you exactly how much."

"Plenty of time for that sweetheart. We're lucky; we do have plenty of babysitters if we want time alone."

"Mmmm, sounds great." Helen was getting sleepy.

"Why don't you close your eyes babe? Get some sleep, you look knackered."

"I'm ok." Helen smiled and snuggled further in to Nikki, "just another couple of minutes ."

"I love you sweetheart." Nikki felt so much love for Helen, she loved her more than she thought possible.

"I love you too." As far as Helen was concerned, the feeling was mutual.

"Thank you."

"What for?" Helen moved her head to look at Nikki.

"For loving me, for sharing my life, and for giving me a beautiful little baby girl. For basically turning my life around and making all my dreams come true." Nikki held on to Helen tightly and rubbed her back as she watched snowflakes fall outside the window.

"I should be thanking you. I once told you that you turned my life upside down, but what I should have said was, is that you turned it the right way up. I would never have known how wonderful life can be if I hadn't met you. And I want to spend the rest of my life making you happy."

"Me too sweetheart, me too. Close your eyes, you need to sleep, I'll stay with you." Nikki let Helen snuggle down in the bed and then lay down beside her.

"Good night Nik." Helen murmured and rested her head against Nikki's chest.

"Good night Helen." Their lips met in a goodnight kiss, and then they both settled down for what was left of the night.

Sean, Kylie, and Thomas stood at the foot of Helen's bed watching the two women sleep. They often dropped in on people for a visit just to see how things were progressing. Sometimes people needed another nudge in the right direction but Helen had progressed marvelously, and needed no further help.

"Aww don't they look sweet?" Kylie wiped a tear from her eye.

"Looks like we did a good job, one of our more successful visitations wouldn't you say?" Sean looked down at the baby and smiled.

"Put it this way, these three have a very bright future to look forward to." Thomas smiled knowingly.

"How do you know that?" Kylie turned to him and looked at him questioningly.

"I'm the ghost of Christmas future remember?" he rolled his eyes at them as if they were stupid.

"Tell us what happens to them." Sean said eagerly.

"Can't, it's classified information." Thomas puffed his chest out and tried to look important. He did his best to wind them both up at every opportunity.

"Oh go on Thomas, tell us please!" Kylie begged.

"This won't be the only baby they have, they have three more. The next one will be Helen's and the other two will be Nikki's. Helen will get the life she always dreamed about, they'll have many wonderful things happen to them along the way and they'll always be together but that's all I'm going to say." He looked smug.

"Oh don't be mean, tell us more." Kylie moaned, Thomas shook his head with a grin and then disappeared with a click of his fingers.

The other two spirits disappeared soon after him and left Nikki and Helen alone, in a deep contented sleep. The baby whimpered but didn't wake, allowing her parents just a little while longer in dreamland.

The End

Return to Bad Girls Fiction

Return to Main Page