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 6

Helen was no longer alone in the office; the next spirit had turned up, and was making its way over to the couch. Helen was in a rare peaceful sleep, it had been a long time since she had slept so soundly without dreaming about Nikki begging her not to leave her. She shifted position as a voice broke through the fogginess of her sleep.

"Come on wake up, we haven't got all night you know, my Bobby will be waiting." The spirit prodded Helen awake and giggled quietly.

"Jesus!" Helen exclaimed when she saw Sylvia Hollamby leaning over her, "that's not a vision I ever wanted to wake up to. God bless you Bobby, you poor wee soul, now I know just how you feel." Helen said and then rubbed the sleep from her eyes as she sat up.

"I'm the Ghost of Christmas Present." the spirit pursed its lips like Bodybag did, looking sour faced as she folded her arms and hitched her bosom up.

"More like the Ghost of Christmas Cancelled." Helen sniggered, "do you have to be so much like her?"

"Sorry about that, I was getting carried away with myself. I always feel that if I can immerse myself totally in a character, then it's far more convincing." the spirit smiled apologetically.

"Believe me; just looking at the face is enough. If you really want to be like Sylvia then you would have to develop an obsession for chocolate fingers and learn to find twenty different excuses to explain why you spend all day sitting on your arse because you can't be bothered to…..." Helen was getting in to her stride; she was warming up to the topic.

"Whoa there! I'm sensing some hostility here, am I to understand you don't like Mrs. Hollamby?" the spirit folded its arms and perched on the edge of Helen's desk.

"Don't like her? That's putting it mildly, I detest the woman and I've never met anybody who doesn't." Helen shifted and crossed her legs.

"I don't believe this! I do apologise, first of all you get your ex-boyfriend and now an ex-colleague you can't stand. Not to mention the fact that you should only have probably gotten 'the talk' and not the whole three spirits shebang. I'm going to have to have a serious word with my supervisor; the whole scheme is going to disappear down the bog if this keeps up. It's just error after error, Admin needs a kick up the chuff." the spirit was waving its hands about now and talking to Helen as if they were old friends, "I had a right time of it last week, had to visit this old lady and I turned up as her dead husband, stupidly thinking she would be pleased. Not a bit of it, there was holy murder! She couldn't stand the sight of the poor bloke! Now that took some sorting out I can tell you, problem is these days you just can't get the staff."

"I know exactly how you feel." Helen giggled.

"Hang on a mo while I write this down, trouble is, you have to log every problem. They want days, times, all that malarkey. I'm telling you, my boss wants to know the in's and out's of a cat's arse….."

"Sorry to interrupt but shouldn't we be going?" Helen tried hard to stifle a laugh, these spirits sounded just like her staff, but they would certainly be a hell of a lot more fun to work with.

"Oh yeah right, sorry, I'm getting carried away again aren't I? See that's my problem, I never know when to quit. I'm told I can never quite pinpoint when I'm talking too much and I never know when to shut up, see I don't think I realise most of the time. But apparently it gets on people's nerves, I try not……."

"Without wishing to offend you, this is one of those times." Helen smiled to soften her words, she tactfully declined from mentioning just how annoying it was.

"Sorry! No offence taken." the spirit looked sheepish, it wasn't an expression Helen was used to seeing on Hollamby's face, "I'm told you took ages with the first spirit, but I'm not surprised about that because to be honest he doesn't know when to shut his trap either. He could talk for days that one, many is the time I've had to be somewhere and he's had me talking for ages, I don't know how he….."

"You're doing it again." Helen was standing with her arms folded at the window now.

"Sorry! Like I said, I get carried away and I never quite realise, my supervisor is always telling me that if I don't learn to….."

"You're still doing it! I hope you aren't like this all the time." Helen giggled.

"I really am sorry! I'm never like this when I'm doing visitations so you have nothing to worry about. So should we finally get going?"

"Sounds good to me." Helen privately thought it was about bloody time.

"You know the drill, I won't bore you. All aboard!" the spirit grinned and Helen was dragged out of the window, feeling very much more relaxed the second time around now that she knew what to expect.

Helen wasn't sure where they were going exactly, but she knew Nikki would be included somewhere along the line. And whilst she wanted to see her again, she wasn't sure how to feel about it. Guilt was eating away at her and she couldn't see a way out of it, she didn't think anything would ever ease the feeling.

She sucked in a breath when she recognised the street where they had come to a stop, this was where Karen lived. Helen had her suspicions about why she had been brought here, and she didn't want them to be confirmed because then it would be something else for her to feel bad about. And there were already enough of those thoughts swimming around in her head.

"Let's have a peek shall we?" the spirit escorted her through Karen's living room window.

Karen sat on the sofa with a glass of wine, and a few files on her lap. She appeared to be alone until the sound of the front door opening and closing drifted through to them, and Helen's worst fear was confirmed. Jim Fenner appeared.

"Hello love." Jim spoke and it made Helen's skin crawl.

"Jim, you're early."

"Yeah I got Dom to cover for me because I really wanted to come home to you." he ran his hand down Karen's thigh and leered at her.

"You slimy bastard." Helen muttered in disbelief, she had thought as much but deep down had hoped this wouldn't happen.

"Not now Jim, I'm not in the mood." Karen said wearily.

"Fine." he said flatly, he wasn't pleased but he was prepared to let it rest for now.

"Are you still working on Christmas Eve?"

"No, I swapped with Gina cos Mark is working too. I'm going to the pub instead, I would rather have spent the time with you but you seem to have other ideas."

"I'm not stopping you from being here Jim, I would like it if you stayed." Karen knew he probably wouldn't but tried to make the effort.

"Did you think I was going to stay here while you invite your little circle of cons over Karen? I'm sorry but I have standards and mixing with a bunch of thieves and murderers in a social setting is pushing it too bloody far." he made no secret of the fact that he didn't like Karen being friendly with the ex-inmates.

"Oh come on Jim, they paid their debt to society as far as I'm concerned. I invited Nikki and the others over because I got to know them all pretty well after Helen left and I consider them friends."

"What?" Jim exploded, "you invited Wade here? How on earth can you consider that dykey bitch a friend? She's a bloody murderer!"

"Oh for god sake Jim, put a sock in it. This is still my house and I will invite who I want, when I want. And you won't like that I've invited Helen Stewart either."

"This just keeps getting better! What on earth did you go and do that for? We were well rid of the interfering bitch; you do know she was shagging Wade don't you?"

"Jim that's unfair, you shouldn't accuse somebody of something when you have no proof and they aren't here to defend themselves against you." Karen knew he was right, but she wasn't going to tell him that, he had no proof anyway and that was the way she wanted it.

Even if she'd had proof, she would still have kept quiet about it. She could see that Helen and Nikki had been good for each other, they seemed to have a special relationship but something looked as if it had gone wrong between them and she suspected that was the reason why Helen had left Larkhall. She really did want to see Helen again, they had been pretty friendly before her departure, apart from their differing opinions on Jim, but her biggest reason for inviting Helen was because she wanted them to both come face to face, in the hopes that it might get them back together. It wasn't often that Karen had seen two people who were totally right for each other, and felt partly to blame for their split. If she had said something to Helen then maybe she could have helped to make the situation more manageable for them both. She had seen the way Nikki was after Helen's departure and she had felt awful that she hadn't helped them when they needed it the most.

"Cut the bullshit Karen, everyone could see Stewart was gagging for Wade. She only had to look at the murdering bitch and she went moist." Fenner said with a look of disgust on his face.

"It's none of your business anyway, and I don't like the way you keep saying things about them. Just leave it will you!?" Karen started to get angry with him.

"Yeah you're right, I'm sorry. Let's forget about it eh?" he smiled disarmingly and like a hundred times before Karen seemed to fall for his charms. She leaned over and engaged in passionate kisses with him.

"You bloody idiot Karen." Helen was very disappointed, she couldn't figure out why Karen, who looked to be an intelligent woman by all accounts, had even bothered to get involved with a greasy bastard like Fenner.

"This is where I tell you that they are only together because you left Larkhall when you did." the spirit knew Helen wasn't going to like that one.

"What? Aren't I getting enough blame? How is this my fault?" Helen was getting fed up of the whole thing, she knew she was responsible for breaking Nikki's heart but how the hell was she responsible for Karen shagging Fenner?

"If you hadn't left Larkhall when you did then you would have eventually caught him in a compromising position with Shell Dockley. It would have been enough to sack him and Karen wouldn't have ended up with him."

"But I warned her what he was like! I told her many times and she couldn't be bothered to listen to me, so it's not my bloody fault."

"I'm not saying it's your fault Helen, it's just a consequence of the decision you made. Every decision we take has far reaching consequences and we aren't always aware of what those consequences are. If you had discovered Fenner, you wouldn't have been on your own; Bodybag would have been with you. Karen would have had no reason not to believe you and Fenner would have been out on his arse. But he managed to wear her down, he told her lies and she gave in to him. If she is honest with herself, deep down she believes everything you told her but she isn't willing to do much about it while he toes the line."

"And how the hell am I meant to sort all this out?" Helen felt like the weight of the world was pressing on her shoulders.

"You know how."

"No, absolutely not." Helen said in a small voice, there was no way she was going to tell Karen what had happened, or anybody else for that matter.

Part 7

The spirit turned to face Helen head on and looked sympathetic. But Helen could tell she wouldn't get out of it easily. She had wanted to say something to Karen at the time, but she knew it could have caused problems and she had decided staying silent was the only way to proceed, no matter how much she had needed to get it off her chest. It had been hell trying not to tell Nikki either because Helen had been in need of love and re-assurance. All she really wanted was to fall in to Nikki's arms and feel safe. But Helen knew that Nikki would have been furious with Fenner and wouldn't have been able to stop herself from getting revenge on him.

"You have to, it's the only way. If you don't tell them what happened then it will continue to happen, and he needs to be stopped." the spirit tried to reason with Helen.

"Don't you think I know that? I've spent hours thinking about the same thing but who would believe me?" Helen felt an overwhelming urge to pace again but settled for shuffling her feet.

"Nikki would believe you for a start, and I'm pretty sure that Karen would too. I know she hasn't acted on anything you've said in the past but this time it's very serious."

"I don't want Nikki to know, it would hurt her too much and that's exactly what I don't want. I can't tell Karen no matter how much I know I should."

"You should go to the party. It will be the perfect opportunity to set the record straight. You have to tell Karen and Nikki, it created a problem between the two of you and she still doesn't even know why."

"I know and I should have told her. I should have told them both but I can't just go waltzing in there and spill my guts.

"In time you will feel differently about it. But for now we need to go. I've got some more things that you need to see."

They left the house and took off in to the sky again; they flew for some minutes until they came to a stop in front of a familiar house. It belonged to Claire, Helen's best friend, and the woman who had helped free Nikki from jail. She wondered what her friend would think of her. She had left without saying much and hadn't spoken to her since, she knew she had been in the wrong and she knew it would have hurt her friend deeply. They walked through the wall in to her living room and Helen almost collapsed when she saw the scene in front of her.

"Why do I still care about her?" Nikki sobbed.

"You love her, that's why you still care." Claire rubbed Nikki's shoulders comfortingly.

"She knew she was leaving for a whole six weeks and she didn't tell me, here I am a year later still thinking about her. Do you know how hard it is to live through an entire year and constantly think about somebody with no break at all? My head would ache non-stop and I got tired of thinking about it but I couldn't get rid of the thoughts no matter how hard I tried."

"I wasn't aware that the two of you were having a relationship until a short time ago and I always wondered why she had left, she never did give me a reason but she was behaving strangely and I'm beginning to think things make more sense now." Claire was trying to piece things together, "You know, Helen was never the type to say she loved somebody when she didn't Nikki, and I think she will still care for you wherever she is."

"Yeah right!" Nikki laughed bitterly, "have we forgotten about Sean?"

"You've got a point but she wasn't really lying was she? She did love him; she just wasn't in love with him."

"Suppose so." Nikki said grudgingly, it was easier to think Helen didn't care, because then it justified the anger she was feeling.

"I'm right and you know it. What I'm not sure of is why she left?" Claire looked thoughtful, would Helen have run away from her feelings or was it to do with her job?

"Helen was scared of being found out. Partly because it was against the rules and she would have lost her job and partly because she didn't want people to know she was gay, I suppose it was because she hadn't gotten used to the idea herself. It could also have been because they would have split us up if they found out, and she wanted to keep me out of trouble, I really don't know. It could have been a combination of all three." Nikki paused to take a mouthful of her drink, "I always had a feeling there was a lot more to the whole situation than she let on, there were things she never divulged to me but I think it all had something to do with her growing up. Something about the whole process of a relationship scared her, and even with Sean something was scaring her. Although she managed to hide it better because it was a 'normal' relationship as opposed to a gay one, it's just a feeling I got anyway. I spent hours in my cell analysing every little word she said and every conversation we ever had, in case I had missed something. It was all I ever thought about." Nikki took another mouthful of her coffee and leaned back on the couch.

"Oh my god." Helen said quietly as tears sprang to her eyes, she knew Nikki understood her, far more than anybody ever had but she was shocked when she had come to find out exactly how much. Nikki had the measure of her, and all without ever being told about her past.

"Are you going to track her down? It wouldn't be hard to do. I suppose I could have searched for her before now, there were times when I was worried sick about her but I wanted to respect her wishes and leave her alone until she was ready to get into contact again." Claire shifted on the sofa and crossed her legs as she looked at Nikki.

"I wouldn't even know where to start and to be honest I doubt she would appreciate me turning up. I was probably the one she was trying to get away from." Nikki sighed deeply; she wished life were that simple.

"But you're free now, and I don't think it was you she was running away from. I think she was running away from the situation, you've just more or less said that much yourself. What if she still loves you? And you never go to her to find out? You could lose out on everything, when all you have to do is go and talk to her."

"She has to make the first move, she must know I'm free by now, it was all over the bloody news. If she wants to solve this then she has to come and find me, but if she does then it won't guarantee my forgiveness because no matter how much I love her, I'm not sure I can forgive her for what she did. If I have to live without her because I can't forgive her, then at least I know where I stand and I'll have to accept it." Nikki was determined that if they were ever going to sort anything out, then Helen had to make the first move.

"I can see how you feel but Helen has always struggled with her emotions, she's never found it easy to admit how she feels. Maybe you should just march in and grab your woman!" Claire smiled at the thought.

"Grab my woman?" Nikki started to laugh, "If I did that then she would have my head on a stick, you know what Helen is like, she's a law unto herself at times." Nikki gave a wry smile.

"Yeah I know but you know what I'm saying right? Maybe she is too afraid to approach you."

"If she can't even find the courage to come and talk to me then she wouldn't be much use at dealing with being in a gay relationship and all the bullshit that it brings. So maybe it's for the best." Nikki knew she was being hard but she had to protect herself somehow.

"That's a bit harsh, you know all she needs is a push in the right direction." Claire could see Nikki's point of view but felt that she had to defend her best friend.

"But this is something I can't help her with; she has to figure out on her own. She needs to make the decision to come and see me without any interference. And as I said, if I can't forgive her then that's something we will both have to live with."

"Yeah but I know how much you love her, I bet you would forgive her straightaway."

"That's what I thought, but it's not that simple, I know that now." Nikki took a sip of her coffee and faced Claire again, "why are you so quick to defend her anyway? She buggered off on you too."

"She's my best friend that's why, I've known her since Uni and I care about her very much. You do too so all the 'I'm pretending I don't care when I do' routine isn't washing with me." Claire looked at Nikki with her best 'lawyer' face.

"It's no wonder you win all your cases, just one look like that is bound to scare the shit out of the opposition!" Nikki giggled again, "but yeah I know what you mean, I do care about her, I still love her. Sometimes though, love just isn't enough." Nikki sighed as she passed her cup to Claire, who got up to refill them.

"She still loves you Helen." The spirit turned to look at Helen who was obviously going through the full gamut of emotions.

"Yes I know but I don't deserve it. She should be hating me instead of loving me." Helen didn't know how to feel about the whole situation. She wanted Nikki to love her but it made her feel incredibly guilty at the same time.

"You don't get it do you? Helen, no matter what you do, she will always love you. Now whether she can forgive you is another matter, but if she doesn't then she will still love you for the rest of her life. Love doesn't just die because something happens, love can bridge huge gaps and last forever."

"Knowing she loves me but probably won't forgive me is hardly any bloody use to me! I know what the first spirit said and I know what you're trying to say but me having contact with Nikki again wouldn't solve anything; it would drag up too many memories. Some things are better left unsaid." Helen couldn't help snapping at the spirit, although she knew it wasn't her fault.

"So you're going to lose out on a chance of happiness because of your fear? You have nothing to fear but fear itself Helen. I know you are afraid of rejection, many people are although they would never admit to it, but sometimes you have to take a chance or you will miss out on many things in life."

"It would destroy us! I couldn't live with the guilt of what I've done to her when I have to look at her every day. It would be hard for Nikki too, she would always be wondering if when she woke in the morning whether I would still be there or not. Every time I even so much as leave the room for five minutes, she would be wondering if I was going to come back. I'm sorry but I can't and I won't put her through that. As far as I'm concerned, it should be left alone." Helen didn't want to say anything more on the matter and the spirit sensed this but pushed her further.

"Haven't you learnt anything tonight?"

"Yes I've learnt plenty." Helen's eyes flashed, she was getting angrier.

"Then what's your problem?"

"I've got numerous problems, far too bloody many to mention in fact. I just don't get why everybody still cares about me when I've been such a bitch. I just walked out on them, they shouldn't care about me at all, not when I behaved like I did."

"They see something in you that you can't see yourself Helen. You are very precious to them and you have no idea of just how much do you? You really are a wonderful person but you have to learn not to be suspicious of anyone who loves you or anyone who wants to be your friend."

"I've treated them like dirt." Helen still couldn't really understand why, if you hurt somebody why should they care?

"No you haven't, not really, you only think you have. Your worst crime was running away from them, they missed you and they were worried about you. You made a mistake but everybody deserves a second chance. They don't care about you because there is something in it for them, they care about you because of who you are and what you represent." the spirit sighed, this wasn't as easy as she was first led to believe, "You're being paranoid, if they were after something then they would have disappeared long ago but they didn't and they still love you. It's time you learnt that not everybody will abandon you. If their love for you is genuine, and in both cases it is then you have nothing to fear. It's about time you opened yourself up to it and for once in your life, accept that somebody really does love you for who you are."

"I know what you're trying to say, and I can see how and why I've been going about this all the wrong way. But I'm scared; I've never been so scared in my entire life. I see Nikki sitting there and I know I love her with all my heart, I miss the things we shared but I can't deal with the thought of her rejecting me. I just feel like such a coward, I left her when she needed me and yet I can't handle the thought of her doing the same to me. Then there's Claire, I miss her, I miss being her friend." Helen wiped her eyes and took a deep shaky breath, "what I'm trying to say is that they make up a huge chunk of my life and I want it back, I want to be back where I belong but I'm too scared to do it. I'm too afraid they won't want me anymore." Helen shuddered with sobs.

"Fear is a terrible thing; it paralyses us and stops us from doing the things we should. Fear is not easily overcome but the knowledge that it can be, is enough to spur some people on. You've overcome a few fears in the past Helen and you can do it again, but you know that if you don't take chances then you don't get anywhere. This is bound to be a lot for you to take in, and you still have the future to see yet. But I want you to start trying to decide what you are going to do, I don't expect you to make a full decision yet but I at least need you to start thinking about it, ok?"

"Yeah ok, I promise I will." Helen couldn't even begin to imagine what to do at this point, she wanted to run off and hide but was painfully aware that this time, there would be no running away, she had no choice but to finally confront it all.

Part 8

Helen nodded to the spirit, signaling that she was ready to go. As they were leaving Claire came back in to the room and sat down as Helen took one last look at Nikki before walking back through the wall. The spirit flew up in to the sky and Helen was lost in her thoughts as the towns below drifted past them in the night. The spirit could see she was beginning to waver as her emotions passed across her face. She felt sorry for her, her childhood had really screwed her up and yet she had made a career out of wanting to help people. She worked with a group who would automatically be thought of as bad people because they were all in prison, but made it her top priority to make things better for them despite what the rest of the world thought.

After seeing Nikki, the feelings of guilt were crippling, and she felt very selfish. But what Helen didn't realise, is that she was far from selfish, because she was forever helping other people as much as she was able. But sometimes in trying to help them she had actually hurt them, Nikki was a glaring example. Then there was Sean, Helen had agreed to marry him but when she realised she didn't love him, she had to tell him because she didn't want to hurt him. She knew she should never have agreed to marry him in the first place but aside from all the stuff that was going on with Nikki at the time, she really did love him but just not the way he wanted her to. Helen knew now that she had never quite figured out how to help people without hurting them so much, and realised that instead of trying to be so nice about everything, that honesty is sometimes more important than glossing over the issue. She had also realised that sometimes she cared about other people far too much, so much so, that she actually didn't care about herself in the process.

Helen was jolted back in to the present when she felt her feet touch the ground, she groaned when she saw where they were. They were back outside her father's house in Scotland. The spirit nodded to her and they walked through the wall, she was shocked at how old and small her father seemed to look now but then again the last time she saw him had been over three years ago.

She saw him sitting in his chair with the ever present dram of whisky beside him. He seemed faded somehow, and there was an air of sadness about him, he didn't seem nearly as intimidating as she remembered. Helen wasn't sure if it was because he was older and weaker than she remembered or because she was no longer angry or afraid of him. She decided it was probably a bit of both.

Helen walked closer to her father and the spirit stood back, things were going pretty well at the moment, she could see Helen was deep in thought and didn't want to do anything to disturb that.

"Oh well Mary my dear, almost another Christmas upon us. I remember that was your favourite time of year, and especially when Helen came along. I remember the joy on your face when the little one unwrapped her toys." Helen was shocked to see her father break down in tears, "oh Mary, what have I done? I miss her so much, and I don't think I'll ever get the chance to tell her how much I love her. I just want to make everything right between us, I want her to understand."

"I already do dad and you'll get the chance I promise." Helen said quietly, her soft Scottish accent thick with emotion. She hadn't noticed the tears spilling from her own eyes; she turned around to the spirit. "Can we get a move on? I know there are things I've still got to see and I want to get through them as quickly as possible, because I've got a lot of things to make up for and not a lot of time to do it in." Helen smiled through her tears, she had finally gotten a grip on the situation.

"That's my girl!" the spirit beamed, "do I take that to mean you want to change your ways?"

"Oh yes absolutely. And I'm sure seeing the future is just going to harden my resolve. I finally got to grips with what you said, and I need to put it all right, I need to apologise for running away. If Nikki can't forgive me then I have to accept that and move on with my life because that's the way things are but until I take the chance then I will never know and I could be missing out on things if I don't. See? I did listen after all." she smiled and the spirit noticed that for the first time in god knows how long, the smile was genuinely hopeful.

"Good for you! I'd say you're doing fantastically and as a treat, I will cut down the amount of places we have to visit. So long as you promise me you will behave in the future."

"I promise! Really I do, we should get going."

"Yes boss!" the spirit mock saluted and giggled before they were off once more.

Helen found herself back at Larkhall, it was beginning to be a bit of a habit for her, and she chuckled to herself when she thought that she spent far more time there now than she had when she worked there. They made their way back to G-Wing and found themselves in one of the cells; a couple of prisoners were still awake and whispering to each other in the darkness.

"Why do you let him do it Susie? Fenner is a first class bastard and you should tell Betts about him."

"I can't! Miss Betts is shagging him, everybody knows that."

"So it's ok for him to get away with raping you whenever he feels like?"

"Well it's not really rape is it Jo?"

"Do you want him to do it?"


"Then it's bloody rape and you need to report him. I can't be with you at all times of the day to stop him getting anywhere near you which is why you need to protect yourself, you have to tell somebody." Jo shifted on the bed and continued talking, "This place should be re-named Fennerville; he forces people to bow down to him because he knows they are frightened of what he will do to them, I've heard him threatening them with being sent to Betts. Somebody needs to loosen his grip on this place and take him down a peg or two, or better still get the evil bastard sacked. Look, my fella will smuggle a letter out of here for me if I ask him and send it to the newspapers or something. Will you write one and tell them about what's happening?"

"Yeah, I will, you're right. It's about time somebody stopped that bastard. Thanks Jo, you're a good mate."

"My pleasure love, get some sleep, we can talk more tomorrow."

Helen could hardly believe what she was hearing, so Fenner was strutting around the wing like a jumped up little Hitler was he? She practically itched for her old job of G-Wing Governor so she could sort the bastard out. She didn't tolerate mistreatment of the prisoners and rape was unforgivable in her opinion. But then again what did she expect of Fenner? She had come so close to it herself when she had worked in Larkhall but she had more power than the prisoners did, so she knew she needed to do something about it.

"I know what's happening, no need to explain it and I know what I need to do. Lets get going because the sooner I can sort Fenner out then the better off we'll all be."

"I can see you are getting back to your old bossy self." the spirit smiled, it was an improvement.

"Well I'm becoming the confident assertive woman I used to pretend to be, put it that way! Where do we have to go next?" Helen's eyes were sparkling and they were full of life, a big difference to the dull look they contained a short while ago.

"We have to see Nikki one final time and then I can pass you on to the next spirit seeing as how you have made a huge amount of progress."

"Great, come on then Sylvia, off we go!"

"Actually you can call me Kylie."

"Kylie?" Helen tried not to giggle; if anybody resembled Kylie then it most certainly wasn't Sylvia Hollamby!

"Yeah I really liked the name but then when the Australian Kylie became famous, everybody started taking the piss!" the spirit looked sulky.

"I'm sure that must have been horrible for you. Can we go now?" Helen changed the subject before she started laughing.

"Yep, sure." the spirit pulled herself together and they went flying off once more.

A few minutes later, they found themselves outside a house that Helen didn't recognise but she knew that it was Trish's house, it had also been Nikki's until she had sold her half to her ex. She tried not to think about what she may be here to witness, as images crowded in to her mind, images that she would rather not be subjected to. It was difficult to get the awful thought of Nikki making love to Trish out her head but she bravely ignored her fears and marched in to the house with her new found confidence.

The spirit left her to it, her work was practically done and Helen seemed to be managing fine on her own, all the spirit was needed for now was transport. Helen stood on the landing of Trish's house and wondered which direction to go in, when she heard the sound of somebody crying. She wandered in the direction of the sound and found Nikki in the spare bedroom, crying in her sleep. The relief of her finding Nikki in the spare bedroom alone was quickly overshadowed by the fact that Nikki was upset. She jumped when she heard the bedroom door opening; she turned to see Trish rushing in.

"Nikki! Nikki wake up!" Trish perched on the side of the bed and spoke to her softly.

"Oh Trish." Nikki sobbed even harder now that she was awake.

"Another dream about Helen?" Trish asked as she wrapped her arms around Nikki.

"Like she bloody cares, I bet she is trying to get Nikki back." Helen said the first thing that came in to her mind, "that's not fair is it? I don't even know the woman and I'm just assuming. She could be really very nice for all I know." Helen remarked and the spirit smiled, she really was learning.

"Yeah, every time I close my eyes she's there. I dreamt that she had come back to say sorry to me for leaving but I got angry with her and she ran away from me again, and I tried to say I didn't mean it but she wouldn't listen." Nikki shivered in Trish's arms.

"Claire was right; you should go and see Helen. You won't ever have any peace if you don't. I know you are afraid that she doesn't feel the same way but you won't know until you try. Go to her Nikki, she made you happier than I've ever seen you. I only saw her a couple of times and I only spoke to her once but she seemed like a very nice woman and I think she would be good for you. She has to be something special if you fell in love with her." Trish smiled as she spoke.

"Including yourself in that are you?" Nikki made an attempt at humour.

"Nah, we were never really in love." Trish smiled to try and make light of things, "I'm serious though, you should go see her." Trish brushed Nikki's hair back off her forehead.

"I know I should, I'm just scared that's all. I don't want her to reject me. I don't want to go to her only to find out she is with some drippy bloke, married with a kid on the way or something like that. It would kill me Trish." Nikki wiped her eyes and tried to get her breathing back under control.

"And it will kill you if you don't find out. I just want you to be happy and I think you would make each other happy. I'm sure she has been through a rough time too, from what you told me about your conversation with Claire, Helen must have been pretty scared and lonely too. You have to look at it from her point of view, she was torn between you and her career, she was trying to maintain both but they were pulling her in opposite directions. And you can't tell me that it was easy for her."

"Well no, I don't suppose it was really, and I didn't help matters by getting pissed off every two minutes. I should have been more understanding, but it was hard because she was on one side of the wall and I was on the other, but still it doesn't excuse the fact that I didn't support her when she needed me." Nikki conceded that maybe things hadn't been quite as easy for Helen as she wanted to believe.

"Exactly, because I know how moody and childish you can be at times. Just promise me you will try and find her? You need each other." Trish said quietly.

"Lets just see how things go." Nikki wasn't sure she was brave enough to face Helen, and then automatically felt guilty for criticising her over the same thing.

"Nikki…." Trish raised an eyebrow.

"I promise to think about it. Let's see what happens after the holidays, I might start looking for her then."

"Good, in the meantime, get some sleep Wade! We're going to be busy tomorrow night with Karen's party." Trish leaned down and kissed Nikki on the forehead and then left the room.

Nikki allowed herself a small smile; she imagined what it would be like to see Helen again, even though she hadn't entirely decided if she was going to look for her. When Nikki's charm was in full flow, Helen hadn't been able to resist her and she hoped that would still hold true, she had visions of her falling in to her arms. She knew that in all probability Helen wouldn't want her anymore but it didn't hurt to hope, if you didn't have hope then you didn't have anything.

"I've really missed you Helen, I hope you're missing me." Nikki said quietly as she stared at the ceiling.

"You can count on it sweetheart and pretty damn soon, you're going to know how much I missed you." Helen blew a kiss at Nikki and then turned around to the spirit who was falling asleep. "Lesson number one, Nikki is just as afraid of losing me as I am of losing her. And lesson number two, Trish isn't the villain I would like to believe that she is, she defended me and I should be grateful for that, which I truly am. So in the future, if Nikki and I end up back together then we won't be arguing over Trish and I won't be jealous because I know she encouraged Nikki to find me, so that particular misunderstanding has been cleared up." Helen smiled triumphantly.

"Nail on the head! You're getting good at this. Time for you to go back to your office, you've got one final spirit and then we can let you loose on the universe." the spirit chuckled.

"I'm ready when you are." Helen winked and grabbed hold of 'Bodybag's' sleeve.

When Helen got back to the office, she turned around to thank the spirit but she held up her hand.

"Don't thank me; you did most of this on your own. I should be thanking you for having enough courage to admit you were wrong and being brave enough to want to fix it. You should try to sleep now, you look exhausted and the next spirit will be here soon." the spirit smiled and Helen found she had developed an affection for her just like she had the first spirit.

"Well thank you anyway." Helen rushed forward and grabbed the spirit in a hug and then let go.

"Take care, and stay strong. Just remember you can do it and everything will turn out fine." the spirit waved and disappeared.

"I hope so." Helen said and the yawned as she lay down to sleep once more.

Part 9

Helen stretched lazily and turned over on the sofa; she opened her eyes forgetting where she was for the moment and came face to face with Thomas Waugh. She shot up off the sofa and stood with her lips flapping until she slowly remembered where she was and what was happening. She had thought at first for a minute that maybe Thomas had still been at the prison and had wandered up to see her until it clicked that he was probably the third and final spirit.

"Don't tell me, Ghost of Christmas Future?"

"Yeah that's right. And I think it's fair to say that I'm a miserable sod, the other two are cheerful but I've got bugger all to be cheerful about. The future is always horrible and I never get to see anything nice, and I'm thoroughly fed up with it." the spirit grumbled.

"Well the past and the present aren't entirely a barrel of laughs either you know. I've seen some pretty awful things tonight, take my word for it. And if you do happen to see anything nice then it lasts for the sum total of ten seconds before the horrible stuff comes right back to kick you in the teeth." Helen leaned up against the filing cabinet with her arms crossed as she spoke.

"Really? Those two are the bloody end they really are! They told me their jobs were wonderful, always nice stuff going on they said, why don't you put in for a transfer they said. They were having me on, the pair of sods!" the spirit wasn't too happy about it.

"Just think of it this way though, all the stuff they see has already happened or is happening at present. But the stuff you see hasn't happened yet and probably never will because most people change don't they?"

"Yeah they do. What's your point?" the spirit was eager to know what Helen was getting at.

"So my point is they get all the miserable stuff, while the stuff you get only seems that way. The future hasn't happened yet, so therefore doesn't exist, and you don't have to feel sad about it because it's never going to happen because most people change. See my point?" Helen smiled; she'd had no idea she would have had to cheer the final spirit up so that she could get things moving again.

"I never thought of it like that! Cheers! I'm going to wind them right up with that one! I can just see the look on their smug little faces, oh the irony!" the spirit did a little jig in the middle of the office, "one – nil to me! One nil, one nil, one nil, onnneee niiiillll!" the spirit sang, and then immediately stopped as if he had remembered something, "Oh by the way, I'm supposed to ask you whether we got my identity right?"

"No not really, see Thomas is ok generally speaking I suppose but he eats like a pig. I don't think his mother ever taught him that it was rude to show your tonsils whilst chewing your food." Helen pulled a face; thinking about it was making her feel sick. She had once had to endure lunch with him during a meeting where he ate peanut butter and jam sandwiches and she witnessed every bite being swallowed, entirely against her will.

"Oh bugger, well it's official. This operation has been well and truly cocked up and admin are in for a roasting. I can just hear my supervisor going nuts about it now, they're in for a right telling off!" the spirit seemed pleased; he didn't like Admin if he was honest.

"But I don't want anybody to get in to trouble because of me."

"It's only Admin anyway; they're all stuck up gits!" the spirit seemed casual about the whole thing.

"Even so, I still don't want to cause anybody any problems." Helen looked worried, she had never intended for anybody to get a bollocking.

"Nah, they deserve a good talking to, they're always messing jobs up and they need sorting out. Don't worry about it, nobody gets sacked up there, they only get re-assigned." a wicked grin passed the spirit's face and Helen couldn't help smiling along with him.

"Re-assignment? What does that involve?" she was keen to know, it sounded intriguing.

"Oh it's almost too evil for words!" the spirit rubbed his hands together in glee.

"Oh go on, tell me. What happens?" Helen sat there looking immensely interested.

"They get sent back down to earth as traffic wardens." the spirit's grin widened even further.

"You're kidding? They really get sent back as traffic wardens?" Helen was incredulous.

"I kid you not, their punishment is to remain on earth as a traffic warden for five years. Understandably, not many people want to be punished like that."

"It certainly explains why most of them are miserable bastards." Helen smiled, "and when you do see the odd cheerful one, I suppose that means they must be at the end of their punishment."

"That parking ticket you got last year was entirely due to some muppet from Admin, you weren't really illegally parked, but he made sure nobody was watching and moved your car a couple of feet. He was having a bad day and was pissed off about having been re-assigned."

"Sneaky little sod! I ought to complain. So, are we ready to go?"

"Yes we are, you know what to do blah blah. Don't really see the point now, you want to change anyway but it's the rules, I have to show you the future. I must admit though I don't feel quite so fed up with it all now that I know it's not going to happen." The spirit couldn't stop grinning, he was eager to get back and wind up his workmates after what Helen had said.

"There you go then, the sooner we go, the sooner we get back."

"Righto, lets get going." The spirit shot off with Helen in tow.

They flew along at breakneck speed and Helen was trying desperately to hold on to what little she had left in her stomach. In the end she couldn't do it and began to retch, the spirit noticed and brought them to an abrupt halt in mid-air.

"You feeling sick?"

"Gee, I'm really not sure….can I get back to you on that one?" Helen managed to say in-between retches.

"That was sarcasm wasn't it?" The spirit narrowed his eyes in thought, as he looked at Helen.

"Yes, however did you guess?" Helen's eyes were watering and her tongue felt like rubber.

"Alright enough with the sarkiness, or I'll make you do a loop the loop." he grinned as Helen glared at him.

"If you do, then I'll be sick and if I am, I know exactly where I'm aiming for." Helen threatened.

"Eurgh, ok I get the message loud and clear. Shall I fly a bit slower?"

"Yes, please do."

When Helen was ready to go again, the spirit flew at less than half the speed and her stomach settled back in to place. The first couple of spirits were ok but this one was turning out to be a pain in the rump, Helen was pretty certain she had preferred him when he was miserable. If he kept it up then she was going to have to have a word with him because he was bumping her about on purpose. The next bump was quite a big one and they fell for a short distance before the spirit 're-gained' his control and Helen lost hers.

"Do you have to do that!?" Helen glared at him, "I told you before, I have no qualms about throwing up all over you."

"Sorry." he didn't look very sorry as he stifled his giggles and his face was contorted with the effort.

"Do you want to be a traffic warden?" Helen hit on the perfect way to make sure that he would behave.

"You wouldn't dare." the spirit looked at her in awe.

"Wouldn't I? Just watch me." she said in her best 'Wing Governor' tones.

"Ok ok, I promise to behave, well for tonight at least!" he chuckled and Helen couldn't help laughing along with him.

"Are we nearly there yet?"

"Just a couple more minutes." the spirit replied and changed course, making a huge effort to behave himself because he knew Helen would carry out her threat and he definitely had no desire to hand out parking tickets for the next five years.

Part 10

Helen had known where they were going to end up before they touched the ground; a cemetery is just as easily recognisable from the air as it is at ground level. Icy shards formed in Helen's stomach as she saw several cars pull up behind the hearse that had just come to a stop. She didn't want to believe it was Nikki, but she couldn't help thinking it, and it was the worst thing her imagination had ever subjected her to. She tried to calm down because her breathing was starting to get erratic and her hands were shaking, she knew she was headed for an anxiety attack unless she got it under control.

She closed her eyes and balled her fists, concentrating only on her breathing and nothing else. She tried to think happy thoughts, that even if Nikki was dead here in the future, she was still alive back in the present. When she felt herself calm down and her breathing began to return to normal, she opened her eyes and looked at what was happening.

In a group stood near the hearse, Helen could see quite a few familiar faces. Yvonne, the Julies, and Crystal were stood in a little clique talking quietly to each other, whilst a few other ex-inmates stood silently as they waited for the proceedings to get under way. Helen scanned the faces in the hope that she would find Nikki, but she wasn't there and her heart skipped several beats when she could only come to one conclusion that explained her absence.

The coffin was lifted from the hearse and the six pall bearers headed off to the church at a suitably funereal pace. The mourners followed behind as did Helen and that was when she noticed a much older version of herself waiting beside the door as the coffin passed. The women who followed behind seemed to ignore her and she waited till they had gone in before following them. The younger Helen wasn't sure what had happened but she got the distinct impression that she wasn't welcome.

Helen entered the church and watched herself sit down near the back, away from the rest of the group. It was only then that she noticed Jim Fenner, looking a lot older than he had but still as smarmy, standing at the front of the church, staring at the coffin. What was Fenner doing there? Helen didn't have to wait long to find out.

"We are gathered here together…." the vicar began the service, "to mourn the passing of Karen Angela Betts…." As Helen heard those words, she broke from her trance, she was totally shocked.

Relief soon followed, as the realisation that Nikki wasn't dead sunk in and then was almost immediately followed by a feeling of guilt because she was relieved it wasn't Nikki. As the vicar mumbled on, Helen tried to work out what was going on but gave up and asked the spirit instead.

"What's happening and how far in to the future are we?" Helen whispered, although she knew they couldn't be heard but she felt it would have been disrespectful to speak any louder than that.

"Karen Betts is dead, and we are thirty years in to the future. You are 62 in case you wanted to know." the spirit whispered too.

"I know Karen is dead but why? It can't be old age surely? She wasn't that much older than me."

"Karen didn't die of old age, and she didn't die of an illness either. Jim Fenner finally killed her in the end."

"What!? You mean that bastard murdered Karen?" Helen didn't want to believe it; it was too awful for words.

"Yes, Fenner is a violent bully, and Karen was often on the receiving end of his abusive behaviour. The night she died, he came home after a few drinks and started a fight with her. After all those years of putting up with being his punch bag, she finally came to her senses and told him she was leaving, but before she got the chance, he beat her so badly that she died from her injuries. For a man in his seventies, he is still very strong, and he was too strong for Karen to fight off."

"Oh god." Helen said quietly and held her head in her hands. She hadn't, in her wildest dreams, ever thought that things could possibly turn out like this.

Fenner had been up and given a tearful speech but they knew it was a lie and they switched off until he was finished. Helen watched as Yvonne stood up next and placed one hand on Karen's coffin, while she held a piece of paper in the other. Yvonne looked distraught, and Helen knew it was because they had been close friends. She cleared her throat and lifted her head proudly; as she scanned the church with tear filled eyes.

"I'm not really one for words, I usually don't do this sort of thing but Karen was a very good friend. The last time I spoke to her, we talked about the old days back in Larkhall, when I was banged up and she was my wing governor. We could laugh about it eventually but back then we were sworn enemies. Cons don't like screws; except Karen wasn't any ordinary screw and I really did like her. I could spend hours here telling you what a great woman Karen was, but I really don't need to, because you all know anyway. I just want to say, Miss Stewart, that I appreciate you taking the time to come to the funeral, it was what Karen would have wanted, she considered you a friend even after all these years." Helen could tell it was killing Yvonne to even look at her, "and I also would like to say that I'm sure Karen would be devastated that Nikki couldn't be with us today. We all know how close they were, she would have wanted her here and it's a disgrace that she wasn't allowed to be." the last comment was directed at Fenner, who sat there as if butter wouldn't melt.

Yvonne rifled in her pocket for her glasses, when she located them, she slipped them on whilst she cleared her throat.

You didn't really leave us
We know you didn't die
You're living with the angels now
There is no need for us to cry

So now my friend,
Whenever I look at the sky
I'll know you're watching over us
For I know its not goodbye

"Rest in peace Karen, I love you." Yvonne whispered as she stroked the top of the coffin and went back to her seat.

"I'm going to take you forward slightly, the service goes on for quite a while." the spirit patted Helen on the shoulder in a friendly gesture; she nodded her acknowledgement, as the tears coursed down her face.

Time advanced slightly and Helen found herself outside the church once more. The gravestones looked like rows of bent, misshapen teeth and the wind was howling through the bare branches of the trees which served to darken Helen's mood still further.

"Where is Nikki? And why wasn't she here?" It was a question she had been dreading to ask. If Nikki wasn't there, did that mean she was dead or did it mean something had happened? Helen had been panicking since she had noticed she wasn't there.

"She's in Larkhall." the spirit had no choice but to tell her, lying was forbidden, no matter how good the intentions were.

"WHAT!? WHY?" Helen didn't know whether to be surprised, angry, devastated or a combination of all three.

"She was imprisoned for Karen's murder."

"You've got to be bloody well kidding me!" Helen's eyebrows rose so far that they almost touched her hairline. She knew there was no way Nikki had killed Karen.

"I'm not kidding. Jim told the police he had discovered Karen's body when he came home from the pub. He said that he thought a struggle of some sort had taken place, all the evidence seemed to point that way and the police believed him. He got away with her murder but they all know the truth, that's why they won't have anything to do with him." he pointed to the group of women, who made sure they were keeping their distance. "He told the police that Karen and Nikki had an argument, which indeed they did but had already made it up earlier in the day. The police obviously knew she had been convicted for murder and they didn't bother looking any further for their suspect."

"This is just unbelievable, once in a lifetime is unbearable, twice is…."

"Sod's law?" the spirit couldn't help but smiling.

"Ah sod's law, the basic theory about how if anything can go wrong then it usually sodding well does! Yeah just about sums it up." Helen rolled her eyes and then focused on the scene in front of her.

Karen's coffin was being lowered in to the ground, and they all stood huddled together in small groups. They made sure they kept away from Helen as well as Fenner, and she still had yet to find out why.

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." the vicar threw some earth on the coffin and Fenner followed suit before moving off to have a quiet word with the vicar.

"Oh Karen, why did you stay with him?" Helen began to cry, seeing the coffin lowered in to the ground made it seem final somehow and she couldn't hold her tears back. No matter what she thought about Karen's judgment, she still considered her a friend, even though she was angry with her for getting involved with Fenner in the first place.

"He's a good liar that's why. Nikki tried to warn her many times over the years but Karen always brushed it aside. The argument was about the very same thing, Nikki happened to mention that you knew what a bastard he was and that you had tried to tell her but she wouldn't listen. She said that there were so many people telling her what he was like that they couldn't all be liars, to which Karen replied with some sort of insult about you and Nikki stormed out. Karen called her later on that day and she apologised for what she said about you, Nikki accepted her apology and that was the last time they spoke because three hours later, Karen was dead."

"What did she say about me?" Helen asked casually as she picked at a stray piece of cotton hanging from her shirt.

"I'm not going to tell you what she said, you don't need to know and really speaking, she is never going to say it so it's not important."

"Was it bad? And did she really mean it?" Helen began her interrogation.

"I'm not going to tell you, I know you want to know but like I said, you don't need to so you may as well accept it." the spirit chuckled at the look on Helen's face.

"Can't blame a girl for trying!" Helen managed a smile, despite feeling the way she did.

She looked back to herself standing at the graveside, wiping away tears as the wind whipped her hair up. She moved away from the grave and began to make her way back down the path; it was obvious nobody wanted to talk to her anyway. She saw herself whip around when Crystal began shouting.

"You is gonna burn in hell for what you did to Miss Betts. The Lord knows what you did and the Lord will punish you for it, innit." Crystal shouted.

The older version of Helen stood staring, for a moment she thought that Crystal had been shouting at her, but saw that she was shouting at Fenner instead. As far as Helen was concerned, it was all true; she hadn't helped Karen when she should have.

"Crystal love, you're wasting you time, he doesn't care and neither do the bloody police. It's best if you just leave it." Yvonne tried to calm things down a bit.

"You better listen to your mate love, I'm innocent." Fenner smirked.

"Pray for your soul Mr. Fenner, only the Lord can save you now." Crystal shouted back.

"Ah yes, Crystal Gordon what was it they said about her? Crystal is alright but she don't half bang her tambourine! I believe they called it called God bollocks?" the spirit smiled.

"Something like that yeah." Helen smiled too, she remembered Nikki telling her about it once. Nikki in jail again? Good god, it would drive her insane. Being wrongly imprisoned twice in a lifetime was unthinkable. And Helen felt her heart ache, thinking of Nikki alone in her cell.

Helen decided to leave, she'd had enough for one day, and she needed to be alone to think about things. She had been so pre-occupied that she hadn't noticed she was going the wrong way and had to turn around and go back the way she had come. The group of women were now silent as they watched her walk towards them.

"Well well, just look who it isn't girls, Miss Stewart. I didn't think you would have the nerve to show your face after all this bloody time." Yvonne wasn't best pleased, she wasn't Helen's biggest fan.

"I came to pay my respects to Karen, just like you asked me to." Helen looked at herself curiously. She had wrinkles and gray hair, and if she was honest, she looked far older than she was. The only thing she liked about herself was that she hadn't put weight on, but the rest was a bit of a shock.

"Respect? That's a laugh; you didn't respect Karen when she was alive, why now that she's dead?" Yvonne pulled Helen to one side roughly.

"You asked me to come and I did as you asked. As for me not respecting Karen then that's a load of bullshit because you know that I do."

"Right." Yvonne sneered.

"I'm sorry Yvonne, but I really don't know what you're getting at." Helen was losing her temper, but tried to keep it under control because of where they were.

"Yes you do, you could have put a halt to Fenner's gallop years ago. I'm not stupid, I know what he did to you and so do they, now." she said as she pointed to the other women, "But you chose to stay silent and look what's happened. Karen is dead, Nikki's banged up again and that bastard gets off Scot free, pardon the pun." Yvonne spoke with disgust.

"How the hell did you know?" Helen was surprised, as was her younger self.

"I've been there that's why, I know what it's like and I recognised the look in your eyes whenever Fenner got within a mile of you. I couldn't say anything because I didn't have any proof. Karen would never have believed me and you never said a bloody word."

"I admit I should have said something, in fact I know I should have. But you can't blame me for all this, I didn't kill Karen and I didn't put Nikki in jail either."

"Nah not this time you didn't, but you did do once before. How does that feel Helen? Knowing that you're responsible for wrecking Nikki's life? If you weren't prepared to be with her then you should have let her go, but instead you dragged her back to Larkhall and left her there to rot. You should be bleedin' ashamed of yourself."

"Things weren't easy at the time, I did what I thought was best." Helen tried to defend herself but she knew she couldn't, Yvonne was right.

"You know after she got out, she stopped living her life because the one person she loved didn't love her back. She never did end up with anybody else, she loved you too much. Now she is stuck back in that shithole, with no hope of ever getting out when the police have finished pinning Karen's murder on her. You may not have set out to ruin her life but you certainly managed it in the end, I don't know how you live with yourself."

"Not everything was as simple as you would like to believe, you can't comment on something you know sod all about. None of this is my fault."

"You just keep telling yourself that and you might start to believe it. Do you know how much I loved Karen, and I'm not talking as a friend, I really did love her." Yvonne's face crumpled, she had never admitted she loved Karen to anybody except Nikki.

"You mean?" Helen couldn't continue, she was too shocked. As far as everybody knew, Yvonne was a rampant heterosexual.

"Yes, and I know what you're thinking, but with Karen it was different. I couldn't help it, I fell in love with her, and now she's gone all thanks to you and that evil bastard but then again, it doesn't surprise me. You're as bad as he is."

"If anybody knows how you feel then it's me, I was straight when Nikki came chasing after me, she made me feel things I had never felt and I just fell in love with her." Helen knew exactly how Yvonne felt.

"It's not the same."

"Why isn't it the same? Do you really think I didn't love her?"

"Well it's pretty obvious to me you didn't love her, after all you're married now." Yvonne watched as Helen's head automatically shot a look at her left hand, she never wore her wedding ring but she had reacted without thinking, "you don't need to wear a ring for me to know you're married darlin'. It's written all over you."

"For your information I really loved her, I still do. So don't you dare think that I don't, I left her because I loved her so much, and despite what you think, it's the truth." Helen really wanted to explain, in fact she felt an overwhelming urge to, but anger was taking over.

"Save it for someone who gives a fuck." Yvonne walked off and left Helen standing there, she received hostile glares from the rest of the group.

Helen stood there feeling shocked, ashamed and guilty. She felt every negative emotion known to man all in the space of about five seconds.

"I'm not going to get upset about this, because I know it won't happen." Helen tried not to lose her focus. But it wasn't easy.

"Just keep trying to remember what you told me, it doesn't exist and it won't ever happen. I just wish I didn't have to show you." the spirit was getting fond of Helen and the feeling was mutual, even though there had been a slight hiccup along the way.

"Hey it's not your fault, you're only doing your job and believe me I've felt just like you do many times in the past. I need to see all this, because it will only make me all the more determined to put it all right." Helen patted the spirit on the arm.

They stood there grinning at each other for a few moments until the spirit indicated it was time to go. Helen nodded, she was glad that particular visit was over, it had been upsetting, and she was glad she was getting closer to the end of her journey.

Part 11

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