If I Could Turn Back Time
'Why won't you listen to me? Oh, this is all so shit' Helen exclaimed.
She had, once again, been waiting for Nikki outside the shower room. Her pleading was becoming repetitive, Nikki just wanted to get away from her as she'd heard the same point countless times in the last few weeks.
'I have listened and I have told you that I am still not interested, why won't you understand that? Look, you made your decision Miss Stewart, if you think the consequences of your actions are shit then surely there's only one thing left for me to say isn't there?' she lowered her gaze to look Helen straight in the eye and said '... shit happens?' she flung her towel across her shoulder, turned and walked back towards her cell.
Helen grabbed at her arm pulling her closer, careful to avoid raising her voice so as not to draw attention to their conversation she said, 'Do you have any idea what it did to me Nikki? Having to watch the police drag you from my house after what we'd just shared? I had to turn you in, don't you see...' she tried again, 'it was for your own..'
Nikki cut her off, 'My own good? Yes, I know, you've told me, several times in fact!' she snatched her arm back and ran a hand through her hair, she looked at Helen again, the cold look in her eyes made Helen's heart lurch.
'I can't keep going through this. You made your choice that night. You deal with it on your own just like I have to' she turned as if to walk away but then stopped and hissed, '. . Oh and since you brought the point up .. Have you any idea what it did to me having to be pulled out of your house whilst you were stood there watching? Knowing that you'd turned me in? You haven't got a clue and you couldn't possibly care, because if you did you could NEVER have done it to me. Now do us both a favour Miss, follow your own advice go and fall for someone else and STAY THE HELL OUT OF MY LIFE!' she turned and strode purposefully into her cell, the tears that had threatened to betray how she really felt pricking at her eyes, as she turned to close the cell door she dropped the tooth brush she had been carrying onto the floor, nothing seemed to be going her way today!
' Oh for fuck's sake!' she bent down to pick it up, little realising that Helen was close on her heels.
The force of the door hitting the side of her head barely registered before the darkness surrounded her.
'Don't you dare walk away from ' Helen felt the door crash against something, before she'd had chance to figure out what it was Nikki fell at her feet, knocked out cold.
'Nikki? Oh shit! Nikki what have I done?' almost instantly she saw the cut on the side of her temple and rushed onto the landing for help, before long she found herself sitting beside a still unconscious Nikki in an ambulance on their way to the hospital.
'You say she was hit by a steel door?' the doctor asked.
'Yes, she must've been behind it when I walked into her cell, I had no idea I' Helen's voice broke.
'Well try not to worry, she's in good hands here. Our main concern is the length of time she stays unconscious. Does she have any relatives? Someone we should contact?' he asked.
'I err, I'm not sure who..' Helen began, she hadn't thought about anyone else. She wanted to be the one at her bedside, but knew that there was no way that she could tell him that.
'Helen?' she turned at the sound of her name being called.
'Karen', Helen managed to gain her composure.
'I came as soon as I could. How's Nikki? What the hell happened?'
'We were discussing her appeal, she didn't like something I'd said and stormed into her cell'
'Typical Nikki' Karen quipped.
Helen ignored her and continued '.. for some reason she was behind the door when I went in, it hit the side of the temple and knocked her out cold. I can't believe this has happened' she put a hand to her forehead.
'Helen it was an accident, it's okay, calm down' Karen placed a reassuring hand onto her shoulder, she turned to the doctor 'How is she now? I'm Karen Betts the Wing Governor from Larkhall'.
'Oh I see, well she seems to be bearing up well, but as I explained to your colleague here, we will have to wait for her to come around before we know anything more'
Karen turned back to Helen. 'I've brought her personal file in, the next of kin seems to be the ex-girlfriend. Do you think we should still call her?'
'As far as I know they're still quite good friends, perhaps we should let her know' every nerve ending in her body was screaming the opposite, but being always the professional, Helen's head overruled.
'Fine, can I leave that to you then? Karen smiled sweetly, leaving no room for argument.
'Of course. I'll ring her straight away' Helen took the file.
'I'll get a nurse to show you where the telephone is' the doctor offered.
'Thank you doctor' Helen followed him towards the nurses station, she had to will herself to keep going the last person she wanted to bring back in to Nikki's life right now was Trish!
She knew that Trish had been to visit Nikki a few times since her escape, the jealous streak in her had made itself very apparent despite her attempts to ignore the feelings it threw at her. Now she was going to have to bring this woman back into Nikki's life voluntarily, it went against the grain.
With an unsteady hand she dialled the number
'Hello' an unfamiliar but friendly voice answered.
'Uh , hello may I speak with Miss Harris please'
'Oh hello Miss Harris, my name is Helen Stewart, I am..' Trish cut her off.
'I know who you are Miss Stewart, what can I do for you?' Helen sensed the change in the other woman's voice, it was not quite animosity but her tone had cooled considerably.
'I'm afraid there's been an accident, Nikki is in hospital and um .. well her file notes you as her next of kin and by rights you have to be notified'.
'Oh my God! Is she alright, what happened? She wasn't fighting again was she? Christ! I know that Dockley girl has been winding her up since.. well since she got back..' Trish went on.
'No, it was nothing to do with Shell Dockley. I know it will sound bizarre but Nikki got hit on the head by her cell door, she's still unconscious' hearing the words coming out of her mouth made Helen realise just how bizarre it all sounded.
'The cell door? How? When?'
So many questions! Helen decided that the only thing she could do was to tell Trish the whole story, so she did just that, briefly mentioning the fact that they were having a disagreement (but not the exact topic of it) and recounted Nikki storming into her cell and what happened when she barged in behind her.
'I see, well that sure sounds like Nikki ' was all Trish said when Helen had finished with her explanation, 'and how is she now?'
'As I said she's still unconscious at the moment. The doctor seems happy enough, but he says they wont know any more until she comes round'
'Do you think I should come to the hospital now?' Trish asked her concern apparent and totally genuine.
This surprised Helen as she had always imagined Trish as one of the 'bad guys', but the response she was getting made her realise that regardless of what had happened in the past Nikki was still very important to this woman.
'Obviously it's up to you, but she is completely out of it. I'm heading off home myself soon; perhaps it would be best to come in first thing? If you like I could leave your number with the nurses in case they need to contact you during the night' the thought of any possible complications made Helen shiver involuntarily.
'Thank you I'd appreciate it if you would, I suppose it makes more sense to wait 'til tomorrow. Will she need me to bring anything?'
The two women went through what items Nikki might need if she was to be staying in hospital for a while. Helen agreed to arrange for certain personal items to be sent from Larkhall and Trish would bring the rest.
'I think that about covers it, will I see you tomorrow Miss Stewart?' Trish asked, making it clear that Helen would not be pushed out of the picture.
'I'm supposed to be working but I'll be calling in here first thing and please, call me Helen'
'Fine and I'm Trish. I may see you tomorrow then thank you for calling me, oh and Helen I hope you don't mind me bringing this up.. ?' She paused waiting for Helen's reply.
Here we go thought Helen 'Go ahead' she said and braced herself.
'For what it's worth, I think you did the right thing sending Nikki back to Larkhall. I'm sure she'll eventually figure out that it was for the best too don't give up on her Helen, she's can be bloody hard work but she's worth it'
'Thank you Trish, that means a lot' Helen smiled, it was nice to be able to talk to someone who knew the whole story about her relationship with Nikki, even if it was her ex.
'I'll see you tomorrow then?'
Helen rested the phone back into the cradle. That conversation had been so far from what she had been expecting!
What had she expected? In a way she supposed Trish would be a lot like Nikki? And what was that she wondered 'the jumping in feet first, throwing around accusations without getting the full facts type of person?' She smiled at her own thoughts, she turned and the smile faded as she saw Karen walking towards her, the events of the day came flooding back and once again creases furrowed her brow.
'Was she in?' Karen asked.
'Yes, she said she'd be in to see her tomorrow'
'Good, that's sorted then. The doctor said there's no more we can do here tonight, we might as well go home. I'd better give you a lift back to Larkhall'
'But..' Helen stood still.
'Was there something else?' Karen asked as she headed towards the exit.
'Err.. No' Helen muttered, she had been hoping that she would get the chance to see Nikki before she left but she could not figure out an excuse to go back and see her now, she had little choice but to follow Karen out of the hospital.
It took over an hour to get home, she'd had to not only pick up her stuff from her office but also decided to collect the items she had told Trish she would take to the hospital.
When she got in she dumped her bag in the hallway and, as had become customary over the past few weeks, headed straight for the kitchen for a drink. She took the bottle and a glass into the lounge, sat on the sofa and looked around her. The house was spotless and had been for the last month or so as whenever she was there doing nothing the loneliness would begin to creep in. She felt the need to be doing something, if she was honest she knew she was running away from facing what was happening in her life but she knew that if she took time out to think about the recent events in her life her world might easily crumble around her and she might find time to finally accept that her relationship with Nikki was over, she didn't want to do that.
As thoughts of Nikki flooded into her head she glanced to the small box she had left on the coffee table. She knew its contents inside out. They were the various bits and pieces she had given Nikki over the last few months, the books, notes and photographs that Nikki had carefully kept hidden in her cell.
Helen thought back to the confrontation she had had with Nikki when she had given it all back. She had once again gone to her cell to try and talk to her, but her attempts to talk once again proved futile, only this time Nikki had really made Helen see that as far as she was concerned, what they had really was over. When she had given her the stuff Helen asked what she was supposed to do with, Nikki's response had been harsh and cold.
'Frankly darling I don't give a toss what you do with them, perhaps you could save them for the next person whose life you decide to fuck up?'
Helen had gone home that night and drunk herself unconscious, she had found that alcohol was the best way to numb the pain. She had not given up on Nikki though, she still kept trying, but it was not getting her anywhere, Nikki always seemed to have people around her (Helen often wondered if she did this on purpose to protect herself), or was always on her way somewhere, never giving Helen the chance to really speak to her.
She took another drink, perhaps Nikki might listen to her whilst she was stuck in the hospital, she certainly wouldn't be able to ignore her and if she could she would arrange it so that they got some time on their own.
She rested her head back against the sofa and closed her eyes, and for what seemed like the millionth time wondered if she had done the right thing, where would they be now if she had not turned Nikki in? One thing she knew for certain was that Nikki would not being lying unconscious in a bed at the General. She sighed and opened her eyes, deep down she knew that she had done the sensible thing, but look where it had got her, she'd done it so that she and Nikki would have the a chance at a future together, but now any future for them was looking more and more unlikely.
Tears started to roll down her cheeks, she had lost her anyway, Nikki had made it clear that she was wasting her time trying to explain things to her. Was there any point in trying again she wondered? Nikki seemed to be trying to move on, should she? Could she?
One thing was certain, she could not go on like this, her work had suffered, she had no personal life to speak of and the amount of alcohol she needed to get through a week was much too much. She was running out of time, she would give it one last try, if Nikki still turned her away then she would have to accept it and move on, probably even move away.
She picked up the bottle and the box of Nikki's belongings and took them up to her bedroom, where after reading through them all again and finishing off the contents of the bottle she finally fell into a restless sleep.
Helen slept late, the alarm finally broke through to her subconscious, her immediate thoughts turned to Nikki she wondered how she'd been during the night. She got up and rang the hospital, they had good news it seemed Nikki had been drifting in and out of consciousness during the night, they had continued with the sedation to give her body chance to deal with the shock that came with a head injury but the doctors were hopeful that once the medication had worn off today Nikki would regain consciousness.
Helen sat on the bed, her head pounded but the relief she felt flooded over her. She thanked the nurse and headed for the shower, as the jets of water stung her skin more tears fell, she wasn't sure why she was crying, happiness, fear, sorrow? She felt them all.
When Helen got downstairs she noticed her answering machine had messages stored, chastising herself for not checking (again) last night she pressed the play button.
After several messages from friends most of who were concerned because she had not been in touch for a while, the last was a message from Claire, her friend and Nikki's lawyer, she had left it last night.
'Helen, it's Claire. I need to speak to you urgently it's 7:30 now, please telephone me as soon as you get in, regardless of the time'
Helen swore. Picking up the phone she dialled Claire's home number. It was answered almost immediately.
'Hi it's me'
'Where the hell have you been? I've been waiting for you to call'.
'I know I'm sorry, Nikki had an accident last night and I was at the hospital til late and by the time I got in I was too tired to think straight, I've only just checked the machine. So what's so urgent?'
'What happened to Nikki' Claire asked.
Helen filled her in on the details.
'Well I hope she recovers quickly ' Claire said.
'Yeah me too' Helen added, her distraction was very apparent once again she had started worrying about Nikki's condition and their problems.
'Ask me why'
'Oh for God's sake, you will never change! Ask me why I hope Nikki recovers quickly'
Helen sighed; she was in no mood for games 'Okay. Claire, why do you hope that Nikki recovers quickly?'
'Simple, so that she can make the date for her case review'
'She doesn't have a review, they turned her appeal down remember'
'They did indeed, but the CCRC did not turn down her application for a review'
Slowly what Claire had just said hit home.
'Say that again, slowly' Helen asked, not daring to hope that she had heard her friend correctly.
'The CCRC have agreed to review Nikki's case and as you know since requesting the appeal we have managed to bolster the case somewhat, I don't want to get your hopes too high but it looks like we might have a chance to get her out'
'Claire I could kiss you!'
'Err save that for Nikki eh? Do you want to tell her?'
'DO I! Oh Claire thank you, this could be just the thing we need to get things back on track. I'm going to the hospital to see her now; if she has come around I will tell her this morning. Thank you Claire, oh this is great! I'll speak to you tonight okay?' she was so excited.
After finishing her phone call Helen rushed to get ready and drove direct to the hospital. She went to the nurses station and asked about Nikki's condition, the nurses told her that Miss Wade had come round bit that the doctor was examining her and that she would have to wait in the waiting room with 'the other lady', Helen was slightly confused but realised who they meant when she walked into the waiting room. Nikki had shown her a couple of photographs of Trish and Helen recognised her immediately.
Trish recognised Helen too, she had seen her around the prison when she had been to visit Nikki. She stood up and walked towards her.
'Hello Trish, how's she doing?
'I'm not altogether sure, I only arrived a couple of minutes ago myself, it's like getting blood out of a stone asking anyone out there'.
Helen laughed, she wanted to share the reason for her happiness with Trish, she imagined that she'd had a rough night too.
'I heard from Nikki's lawyer this morning'
'Oh? She was so disappointed that her appeal got turned down. Any more news?'
'Yep! The CCRC have agreed to review her case, Claire seems quite confident about it too'
'Oh Helen that's brilliant, Nik will be over the moon'
'I hope so' Helen's voice dropped.
'Things with you two not going well I take it' Trish said, their eyes met and Helen looked away, ' sorry it's none of my business' she added.
'No, that's okay, actually it's nice to be able to talk to someone, you know someone who knows what's happened' she took a deep breath, 'Things have gone from bad to worse since the escape, she won't even talk to me now. I don't think she wants there to be an 'us' anymore'.
'That's crap' Trish stated firmly.
' You don't know what she's been like'
'Maybe not but believe me I can imagine! One thing I know for sure Helen, she worships the ground you walk on. She is very angry with you, but she still loves you. As I said to you last night, you did the right thing, going on the run was not the answer, particularly when she had a chance of this review. Maybe now she will see that' Trish said trying to reassure her.
'Do you really think so?'
'I know so; I know how her mind works. Give her time and a bit of space, she'll figure it out, the worse thing you can do is to pressure her, she's stubborn and will fight against you every step of the way, you ease off and she will come round, trust me' she smiled.
They fell silent each lost in their own thoughts, the doctor coming into the room interrupted them some minutes later. He smiled at them.
'Ah, Miss Stewart and..I'm sorry?'
'Harris, Trish Harris'
'Nice to meet you. Well ladies it's good news, she has come round, she says she has 'the headache from hell' but apart from that appears to be suffering no ill effects, would you like to see her?'
They both nodded and followed the doctor out of the room.
Helen slowed and asked Trish 'Would you like to go in on your own?'
'Don't be silly, if anyone should do that it should be you, but we can't let him on it can we' she nodded towards the doctor, 'we'll go in together and say hi and I'll nip out for a cuppa so you two can have a bit of time to yourself, you can tell her about the review and hopefully make up' she smiled.
Helen felt the tears again; she shook herself free of their threat and walked past the guard from Larkhall into Nikki's room.
'Nikki you have some visitors' the doctor announced, Nikki looked up to the door, the doctor stood aside and Helen walked in first.
'Hello Miss Stewart' Nikki said simply. Helen's heart sank, she was still keeping up the cool façade, 'it's nice of you to come and visit me, I'm not keeping you from work I hope'
She moved closer, out of the doctors earshot 'Oh Nikki, must you keep up this attitude?'
'I'm not sure what you mean Miss?' Nikki looked confused, then she spotted who was stood behind Helen.
'Trish! Hi babe, oh look I'm sorry about all this, I hope I haven't worried you too much' she held out her arms and Trish walked over to give her a hug.
Helen felt as if she had been slapped across the face, she knew Nikki was angry but to act as if she was not even there!
'Well at least you didn't have to visit me at Larkhall today like you'd planned' Nikki went on.
'I wasn't visiting you today Nik' Trish was puzzled.
'Course you were!' Nikki laughed and looked at Helen, 'we spoke about it yesterday'.
'I didn't speak to you yesterday Nik' Trish argued.
'Trish! You did! You told me that you couldn't come yesterday because you had a bloke coming round to fit the power shower but that you would definitely be in to see me today, there was something you wanted to talk to me about'
Trish shot a worried look at Helen and the doctor, unfortunately Helen was still reeling form the cool reception she'd received and the doctor had no idea that anything was wrong.
Trish was worried, the conversation Nikki was referring to had happened months ago yet Nikki was convinced it was only yesterday.
A nurse came in carrying a change of clothes for Nikki, they all had to leave for her to get changed, Trish was relieved, she had been trying to figure out how to get them out of the room.
Once they were outside she spoke.
'Doctor I think we have a problem'
Helen's head shot up.
'What do you mean?' he asked.
'Well the conversation that Nikki said we had last night took place months ago, before we broke up' she glanced at Helen, 'the day before in fact, I'm no expert but she appears to be suffering from some degree of memory loss'
The doctor asked them to once again return to the waiting room.
They sat down and fell silent.
Trish started to worry, how was Nikki going to deal with the fact that they'd split up!
Helen was more concerned with the fact that Nikki had no recollection of anything that had happened between them. If she thought the future looked uncertain yesterday, that had in no way prepared her for the uncertainty that today's events had thrown at her.
An hour or so later the doctor returned. The happy look he had earlier now replaced by a frown..
'Miss Wade is indeed suffering from amnesia, no doubt due to the blow to her head. We had some considerable difficulty convincing her of today's date, in the end we had to resort to getting a newspaper as proof. She is lucid and remembers everything up to about six months ago, but from then on nothing'.
'So everything that has happened since is...lost?'
'Lost? yes permanently?...it's very difficult to know, I've had patients who have been through this kind of head trauma regain their memory with some it takes time and gentle nudging from friends and family' he looked up and smiled, ' however, what we must avoid is trying to overload her with information, ideally she needs time for things to start coming back to her rather than for you to bombard her, that should not cause too many problems should it?'
Helen sighed, if only he knew!! Slowly, as he had been talking, she had come to realise that her entire relationship with Nikki was, as far as Nikki was concerned, non-existent. Not only that but she was likely to be facing the old Nikki, the headstrong, bolshy one! Could she go through that again?
'Oh Christ!' Trish took the words out of her mouth, 'she thinks we're still together. I have to go through that again? It hurt enough having to tell her the first time'
'At least we know she can get through it..' Helen tried reassuring her, but not giving away much to the doctor.
'Yes, but she had your help, things were different, this is going to be a nightmare' Trish ran her fingers through her hair, playing over in her mind the first time she had told Nikki it was over.
'Do you want to see her?' the doctor directed his question to Trish, who in turn glanced at Helen.
'No good putting it off, but I have to tell her doctor, I can't wait for the memory to return on this one'
'I understand, just take it gently, she's been through a lot'
'You're telling me!'
Helen waited outside while Trish went in to 'break Nikki's heart...again' half an hour later the door opened and Trish came out, tears streaming down her face.
'You okay?' Helen asked.
'Oh God Helen it was awful, I feel like such a shit!' Helen put her arms round her and let the tears flow.
A few minutes later Trish drew back, 'She says she doesn't want to see me again, I God hope she'll change her mind '
'I'm sure she will' Helen said honestly, 'just give her a bit of time eh?'
'Will you let me know how she's doing?'
'Of course I will'
'Thank you Helen. Good luck...' she moved aside and Helen put her hand to the door handle.
'Thanks, I think I'm gonna need it' taking a deep breath she opened it and went inside.
'What the bloody hell do you want! You screws are all the same come to gloat have you? Another relationship down the pan courtesy of HM Prisons?'
'Nikki don't be like that. You don't mean it.' Helen tried..
'Of course I bloody mean it, don't patronise me woman!'
'Look I'm not prepared to stand here and listen to this I' Helen had not prepared herself for this kind of reaction towards her.
'Good, that's fine by me so why don't you just piss off and leave me alone' Nikki turned to her side, literally giving Helen the cold shoulder.
Helen was stunned, it really was as if they'd gone back in time, the Nikki she knew and loved was not in this room.
'Fine! Remember one thing, whether you like it or not, you are my responsibility and you'd better get it into your head that while that is the case you will talk to me in line with prison rules!'
Nikki raised an eyebrow, staring back at Helen completely unabashed. 'Whatever, Miss, now do me a favour and close the door on your way out will you?'
Helen was furious! How dare she!
She couldn't allow herself to stay angry at her though could she? It must be awful to wake up and all that you believe to be true is 'ancient history'.
'Look Nikki, I realise you've had a lot to cope with. Trish is as upset as you are '
'Hummph, bloody two timing bitch' Nikki muttered as she shuffled further under the sheets, hiding the tears in her eyes.
Helen smiled as a picture of Harry Enfield's 'Kevin The Teenager' flashed through her mind.
'Really Nikki, she is. Look you've got yourself through this once before, with help I'm sure you can do it again'
'Help?? Who the bloody hell's gonna want to help me? Trish is all I have had I meant HAD!'
'Well I could...' she began to offer.
Nikki cut her off!
'You?! Why on earth would You want to help someone like ME?'
'This is hard to explain, before your accident we had become quite good friends ', Nikki scoffed..
'It's true; we'd made our peace Nikki. The endless bickering had finished, we were actually getting somewhere, your appeal...' as the words came out Helen realised that Nikki would still have no recollection of an appeal being even remotely possible.
'My WHAT!?' Nikki turned around wincing as her head throbbed at the sudden movement, she scoffed.. 'Oh for Christ's sake give me a break!'
'Nikki it's true!
Nikki looked at her, suddenly serious.
'Yes' Helen's voice softened, ' we had been working on your appeal'
'And?' Nikki was intrigued.
' well, I''m not sure what I should the doctor said we shouldn't overload you with '
'Oh spit it out woman!' Nikki was losing patience; the little men with sledgehammers had started up their rhythmical banging in her head again.
'The details are still sketchy but your solicitor told me that the CCRC have agreed to review your case'
'Why would she tell you, how are you involved in this?'
'I err ' following the 'official line' Helen told Nikki about her new job and how she had been helping her, along with the other lifers on G-Wing.
It was all too much for Nikki to take in, Trish leaving, the possibility of freedom; she put her hand to her forehead, wincing as she touched the spot where the door had hit.
'I think I'm going to throw up', Helen glanced at her; all colour had drained from her face.
Helen moved towards her instinctively 'Nikki sweetheart..' Nikki cast her a wary glance.
Helen stopped dead in her tracks, shit! What was she doing?
She swiftly switched back into professional mode, 'Do you want me to call the doctor?'
Nikki nodded, she'd started to feel dizzy but she didn't want to flake out in front of Helen-bloody-Stewart, she had to maintain her outwardly strong image, she figured flaking out now would be a sure sign of weakness.
Helen waited outside whilst the doctor went in to check on Nikki.
All manner of thoughts were now flying around inside her head . Nikki clearly had no recollection of the more personal side of their relationship she was facing an uphill struggle now, she had to regain her trust, but she knew damn well that Nikki was more than likely to fight her all the way was she herself prepared to fight to get back to where they were did she want to get back to how they were? ..wouldn't it be easier to just act as if it never happ Helen flinched, what was she thinking? Guilt overwhelmed her, what kind of partner material was she? As soon as the going got tough she thought about whether she should cut and run.
The doctor interrupted her thoughts.
' nothing serious, I think it's par for the course for a bump on the head like she's had..'
'Hm? What? Oh thank you doctor, is it okay for me to go back in now?'
'Yes, she still seems quite upset though, please try not to say anything that might upset her further'
Helen didn't know what to say, he was clearly talking to her as 'the jailor' rather than as 'the friend', she'd already decided that it would be best not to bring up talking about the split with Trish. If Nikki wanted to talk she would.
'I will do my best doctor' she smiled politely and walked past him.
Nikki was propped against her pillows. Eyes closed a slight frown clearly visible. She opened her eyes when she heard Helen coming back into the room.
'I thought you'd gone' she said trying to sound disappointed and irritated by the intrusion. Inwardly though, she realised that she was glad to see that Helen hadn't gone.
'Nope, you can't get rid of me that easily, I have a stubborn streak a mile wide, something to do with my Scottish roots no doubt!' she laughed.
Nikki smiled, she didn't want to but she couldn't help it.
'That's a sight for sore eyes!' Helen exclaimed.
'Well I haven't really had much to smile about have I?'
Nice one Stewart, Helen thought, you hit her right between the eyes with that one!
'I know, I'm sorry Nikki I should have handled that a bit better'
'It's not your fault ' Nikki felt the tears rise again, but she did not want to let Helen see how upset she was.
They fell silent
They spoke at the same time.
'Go on' Nikki said.
'I was just going to see if you needed anything brought in any books, magazines?'
'Actually, I wouldn't mind a decent book, seems as though they're going to be keeping me in for a few days'
'I'll pick you a couple out and get them to you tomorrow'
'Thanks...' she looked at Helen expectantly.
'I err thought you'd maybe ask what kind of books I'd like'
'Oh I think I have a pretty good idea already' Helen said confidently.
'Oh really?' Nikki said sarcastically.
'Yep' Helen proceeded to give Nikki a basic run down of her favourite authors, the books she preferred and why
'I'm impressed! Not just a lucky guess eh? So we are ' she stopped talking as the knowledge hit her, had they really become friends? God this was a living nightmare, she tried hard to get her brain to remember
'Sorry, I was just trying to remember to get my head around the fact that we were err are friends'
'Is it so hard to believe?' she teased.
Helen was slowly coming to realise that this time round Nikki was going to be much easier to handle. Whereas before it felt as though she was continually chipping away at a solid brick wall. She now had the advantage of knowing a few of Nikki's areas of weakness, if she focused on them she might get her back if that was truly what she wanted.
'I didn't mean to sound...' Nikki started, apologetically.
'It's okay Nikki I know what you meant. Don't try to force it, just give yourself time eh?'
'Time' Nikki laughed, 'Now that is something I have plenty of isn't it?'
They talked for a few more minutes, Nikki started to drift off in between sentences.
'I think I'd best leave now, let you get some rest'
Nikki forced herself awake.
'I'm sorry...I can't seem to stay awake' she yawned again.
'No problem, you need to rest. I'll call in again tomorrow if you like'
This put the ball firmly into Nikki's court, did she want her to visit ?
'Well I can't see anyone else wanting to visit me, besides I thought you were going to bring in some books' she mumbled.
'I said I 'd arrange for some to be brought in is that a yes?' Helen pressed, she wasn't letting her get away with that.
Nikki sighed, 'It's a yes' she mumbled as once again her eyes closed.
'Fine, then I will see you tomorrow, goodnight Nikki'
'G'night Helen' she muttered and sleep finally claimed her.
Helen watched her for a few more minutes, she hated having to leave her here like this but there was nothing more she could do. She hoped that the last couple of hours had laid good foundations, one's that she and Nikki might rebuild on, with the added hope of an appeal and a possible early release, they had so much to look forward to.
What she'd purposely avoided was thinking about how Nikki would react once she had remembered everything, the escape, the subsequent return and the part Helen played in it! That was one area of Nikki's memory that Helen was not keen to jog.
The following week saw Helen visiting Nikki on a daily basis; she was still acting a little bit like Jekyll and Hyde. The bad times mainly due to the frustration of not being able to remember combined with the obvious hurt she was feeling at losing Trish. She had spent time telling Nikki basic bits and pieces about the comings and goings at Larkhall over the last few months, things she would have to know before she went back, such as she had a new cell mate, this news was met with as much enthusiasm as it was the first time round!
Helen also decided that it would be best to deal with the events of Nikki's escape while she had the time to tell her without interruption. Nikki was astounded; she bombarded Helen with question after question, why? Where did she go? Helen's answer shook Nikki to the core. How did I know where to go? Helen had come prepared, she had spent the previous night trying to guess the questions Nikki might throw at her, she had even telephoned Trish for advice on how to handle it. By the time their conversation had finished Nikki was under the impression she had escaped after she had discovered her appeal was about to be turned down. She had found out Helen's address during one of their 'chats' and had gone there when she realised she had made a big mistake in making a run for it. Helen had made arrangements for the police to pick her up and she had been taken back to Larkhall, her appeal had not been affected as she had turned herself in voluntarily (before the prison had actually realised she was missing!)
As Nikki's condition improved it became clear that she would soon be heading back to Larkhall. Helen tried her best to cheer her up when she saw her mood sinking, but Nikki was hard work, she decided that she needed reinforcements, on the fourth day she had and idea and as a surprise brought a visitor to see Nikki..
Nikki was sat in the chair at the side of her bed reading when the door opened, she looked up expecting to see Helen but was surprised so see another familiar face instead.
'Monica!!! What the bloody hell are you doing here?' she jumped out of her seat and hugged her tightly.
'Miss Stewart Helen brought me to see you, said you might like to see a friendly face!'
Helen had told Monica she would go and get them a cup of tea while she said hello, but she had watched from outside, delighted to see the smile that had appeared on Nikki's face when she saw who her visitor was.
'Too bloody right, did she arrange for them to let you out to visit then?'
Monica laughed, 'Not exactly'
'I was already out Nikki' she stated bluntly, 'you don't remember but..'
'Your appeal?' she looked at the older woman, Monica confirmed the question with a nod, 'Oh Mon. that's bloody marvellous!' she hugged her again.
They started to talk, tears were shared when Monica told Nikki of Spencer's untimely death but gradually the conversation shifted to things that she'd been doing since her release. Helen had joined them by this time, she was happy to see Nikki so relaxed. After a few minutes she began to feel as though she was in the way, she wanted to join in the conversation but there was still an apparent 'them and us' atmosphere between her and Nikki, more so now that Monica was here.
Not wanting to dwell on it she excused herself, claiming she had a few phone calls to make. She felt disheartened as she left the room, she had truly believed that they were getting somewhere, Nikki had gradually been opening up to her, they still had a long way to go but at least they were now able to talk for more than a few minutes without arguing.
When she had gone Nikki tutted, 'Bloody woman!'
'Now Nikki we both know that you don't mean that'
'Eh? Of course I do', she would not look directly at Monica for fear of showing her she was right.
Monica laughed, 'In the short time I've known you, you have always been the type of woman who, whether she likes it or not, wears her heart on her sleeve. As far as your feelings towards Miss Stewart are concerned Nikki you aren't fooling anyone, especially me'.
Nikki eyed her cautiously, how much did she know? If she was honest she knew that her feelings towards Helen had warmed, well more than warmed, she missed her when she wasn't there, she was enjoying the time they had together and most importantly of all, she was beginning to trust her she wasn't like the others, she was genuinely interested in Nikki 'the person'.
Initially she had tried to put the feelings down to the fact that Helen was her only outside contact, convincing herself that Helen was only visiting because it was part of her job, but deep down she knew it was much more than that. She vainly hoped that it was the same for her, but knew that was out of the question, well she was engaged wasn't she?
She was glad of the opportunity to have someone to talk to, someone to share her feelings with, someone she trusted, taking the opportunity she decided that now was the time to be open, to discuss it with Monica.. to ask for advice.
'That obvious huh?' she finally acknowledged.
'I'm afraid so' Monica admitted.
'Do you think she knows?'
'To be honest I don't think she has any idea about how you feel at the moment' it was the truth but the way it was meant and the way Nikki understood it were two different things, 'all I know is that Miss Stewart is sincere Nikki. She really does have your best interests at heart, trust her'
Nikki was still unsure; Helen was still one of them, regardless of the job description they were both on opposite teams. Once she was back at Larkhall this one to one attention would be stopped, would Helen still care as much once she was passed fit ready to return, she doubted it.
'How do you feel?' Monica asked.
'Confused, bloody confused! Angry' she admitted, Monica urged her to explain.
'I've lost a whole chunk of my life Monica; there are people around me who know more about me than I do. It's bloody frustrating, they say they can't just sit me down and tell me apparently it's better if this all comes back to me gradually'
'But you have remembered a few things, I thought Helen said '
'A few, yeah stupid little things though, nothing that helps'
'But Nikki that's good, at least it shows that hidden back there somewhere is the rest of it'
'YES! But I want it now! Why me eh? Why now ' Nikki started to rant.
Monica just sat quietly waiting for her to finish.
'Sorry Mon' Nikki sat down when she realised that she was the only one doing the talking.
'No need to apologise, I'm sure that in the same situation we'd all react in the same way. Helen tells me that they are taking you back the day after tomorrow?'
'Yeah, I would say I can't wait to get out of this place but since you know how bad it is at Larkhall you know I'd be lying!' she laughed.
Helen chose that moment to come back in, the laugh stopped abruptly, Helen felt her heart sink, 'sorry, am I interrupting, do you want me to come back later?'
Nikki looked at Monica who returned her stare with a 'you know what to do' stare of her own.
'No of course not Helen, come in, we've finished our slagging off the likes of Jim Fenner'
'Tsch! You should've called me sooner, I'm sure I could have helped' she laughed and Nikki laughed and the atmosphere in the room lightened considerably.
The following week saw Nikki back at Larkhall, she spent the first few days in the hospital wing, she'd been allowed visits from the Julies, Yvonne and Barbara.
The former providing mass hysterics with their accounts of the events on G-Wing in her absence, the latter having to reintroduce themselves to Nikki, an encounter that all 3 found extremely bizarre. The visits had however set Nikki's mind at rest, Babs and Yvonne had soon become friends and she was looking forward to getting out of the hospital wing.
Helen arrived to escort her back to G Wing; they had maintained their 'newly discovered' friendship and both were secretly pleased with how they were getting along.
'You're going to have to ease up on this preferential treatment you know Miss Stewart' Nikki joked.
'And who says I don't give all my lifers this kind of attention' she quipped back.
Nikki stopped, the effect that comment had on her surprised her, was it jealousy? Her insides felt as though someone had grabbed them and started twisting.
'What's wrong? Nikki?' Helen put her hand on Nikki's arm and turned to face her, genuine concern evident in her eyes.
'Nothing I...er ' Nikki could feel herself being drawn into the warmth in her eyes, she stood transfixed, the overwhelming urge to lean in and kiss Helen was almost unbearable.
Helen knew what was happening, she wanted to move closer to once again taste her, to kiss her, to tell her she loved her
Nikki pulled back abruptly, bringing Helen back down to earth with a bump.
'I I suppose nerves got the better of me the for a moment'
'Nerves? Since when had Nikki Wade been nervous?' Helen scoffed.
'You'd be surprised' Nikki admitted. No, Helen thought to herself, no I wouldn't.
'Let's go then huh?' Helen offered.
'Age before beauty' Nikki laughed as she gestured for Helen to lead on.
'Oi watch it or you might get a bump on the other side of your head'
'Yeah right, you took me by surprise last time, I'd be ready next time' they were still laughing as they walked onto the wing.
'Well, well, well look who's back girls' Shell Dockley drawled, 'I would say it's nice to have you back Wade, but it's not'
'Piss off Dockley!' it seemed to roll off the tongue so naturally.
Helen looked at Nikki, who grinned back, 'some things you never forget'.
'Let's go' Helen led her to her cell, back to familiarity.
'Ere watch she don't try and grab yer Miss!' Dockley called.
Nikki froze; clenching her fists she was about to turn around when she felt Helen's hand lightly brush her arm.
'Ignore her Nikki'
'You'll just give her more incentive to bait you'
They walked on while Nikki inwardly seethed.
'So you've got to know Dockley quite well too eh?' Nikki asked as they neared the top flight of stairs.
'mmm unfortunately. I've never met anyone who talks so much crap in my life sorry I probably shouldn't be saying that to you should I'
'Probably not but you're right, in her case I'm afraid it's once a gobshite always a gobshite. Actually it's quite reassuring to come back and see that things are still the same'
They walked into the cell and were greeted by Barbara.
'Welcome back Nikki'
Nikki stood and looked around the cell; this was one sight she wished she could have forgotten, permanently.
'I'll leave you to it then, don't forget we have a meeting to discuss your appeal tomorrow' Helen said.
'I wont forget, thank you for everything Hel sorry Miss Stewart' she smiled, remembering their agreement that formalities should return unless they were on their own.
'You're welcome, I'll see you tomorrow then' she stood still, not wanting to leave.
Nikki couldn't break eye contact, 'yes tomorrow'
Helen shook her head briefly get a grip woman! She thought to herself!
'right bye then, bye Barbara'
'Good bye Miss Stewart' Helen turned and left, Nikki looked sheepishly at Barbara.
'You two seem to be getting along well?' Barbara stated matter-of-factly 'I'm glad!'
'You're glad? Why do you sound surprised?'
Realising she had started off a topic of conversation she'd rather avoid Barbara cut it short.
'Well you know what you're like Nikki, one minute you are cool, calm and collected the next you get a bee in your bonnet and Miss Stewart gets it in the neck!'
'You're exaggerating' Nikki offered meekly.
'Am I now' Barbara scoffed.
Nikki grinned, much as she had ranted and raved when Helen informed her she was going to be sharing a cell, she couldn't help but like Barbara. The woman had obviously taken the time to get to know her and that meant a lot to Nikki, even if she couldn't remember any of it!
Yvonne soon joined them, 'Alright Nikki love! So how are you feeling?'
Nikki shrugged, 'It feels weird being back here. I'm dreading going out there' she gestured outside.
'Why?' Barbara asked.
'I feel like they're all going to be staring, that they'll all know stuff about me that I don't remember!'
Barbara and Yvonne laughed, 'Believe me love' Yvonne started 'as much as we'd like to tell you different, the last 6 months of your life have not been THAT interesting! Apart from your Richard Kimble episode that is' she laughed.
'Gee thanks and there I was hoping I'd had a torrid affair with some gorgeous woman who was going to come knocking at my door as soon as I got back' she laughed.
The silence that greeted her made her immediately suspicious. She looked at Barbara; the older woman would not return her gaze. She then glanced at Yvonne, who had an idea that things between her and Helen had 'moved on a bit', Yvonne's face gave nothing away.
'I haven't been having a torrid affair have I?'
'In here! Nikki your imagination really is running wild' she tried vainly
'So why wont you look at me then' she pestered.
Barbara was struggling to answer when Yvonne chipped in
'The game's up Babs, we'll have to tell her. You're right Nik, you have, a right torrid affair it was too the whole wing is still bleedin' talking about it!! only we shouldn't be the ones to tell you, we should leave that to the lady herself . I'll just go and get .. Shell' she called weakly.
'WHAT??!' Nikki shrieked.
She turned to see the amusement in Yvonne's eyes and heard the laughter that seemed to bubble out of Barbara.
'You bloody! Shit! You had me worried there for a minute' she laughed with them.
They were still laughing when Fenner appeared at the cell door.
'So you're back, you're girlfriend didn't manage to bump you off then Wade?'
'Didn't want to disappoint you Mister Fenner, I know how much you'd miss my happy smiling face each morning' she flung back.
Fenner muttered something under his breath and walked on.
Nikki didn't really make much out of the 'girlfriend' comment until later that night, she had been unable to get to sleep and was currently sat up in bed trying (again) to get her mind to find all the missing pieces of the last few months.
Fenner's comment had unsettled her and that combined with Shell's warning to Helen and Yvonne and Babs winding her up had left her with an ever-growing list of questions, ones that needed direct answers, she was fed up of being told. Give it time, let it come back to you.. she wanted answers NOW!
She flicked the end of her cigarette out of the window, there wasn't much she could do about it now, she laid down and tried to get her head to switch off long enough for her to get some sleep her last waking thoughts being she was seeing Helen tomorrow, she'd ask her.
The following morning didn't quite go according to plan however, Helen had planned to set aside a good hour for her meeting with Nikki, but she had not reckoned on the arrival of a new lifer, Vanessa Whitehead, (or as Helen had been informed by Jim Fenner at their morning briefing Vanessa 'Bloody-well-off-her-head').
It seems that she, like 'Mad' Tessa Spall, had been shipped around the country on an almost monthly basis. She was a trouble maker of the highest order but for some reason the reports on her were mild, never enough to work with, it looked to Helen that rather than discipline her she had been moved on whenever she became too much of a handful. Since Area had put so much time, money and effort into getting Helen's Lifers Unit up and running they were of the opinion that she should now face the problem of dealing with the Troublesome Miss Whitehead.
Helen sighed as she finished reading Vanessa's file.
The woman was in for the murder of her mother-in-law, though she continually protested her innocence and was currently appealing. The likelihood of success was pretty slim but she was convinced she would get released judging by what Helen had read the woman was mad if she thought any judge in the country was going to overturn her conviction, she was obviously hoping to get one of the more eccentric judges, though as far as Helen could recall there was no His Honour Judge Bonkers sitting in any of the British Courts.
Vanessa had made it totally clear that she would stop at nothing to have another day in court. The worst part of it now, was that Helen was expected to give a report on how suitable or not she considered Vanessa's application for an appeal, she was by no means going to be the deciding factor, her view would be taken into consideration along with the psychiatrist, the evidence against her and anything else the prosecution could come up with to keep her locked up.
Helen tried to be open minded. When she started to read the file she had no opinion as to Vanessa's suitability for an appeal, but by the end it was clear that no only had she killed the woman but she had planned the whole thing in minute detail and most probably enjoyed it.
At her trial she had played the diminished responsibility/temporary insanity card to the full, the jury clearly had not been convinced, nor had the judge if his summing up had been anything to go by, but Vanessa was intent using the legal system to its full and pushing on regardless. Helen had rearranged her morning appointments to fit the interview with Vanessa in straight away, she figured the sooner she got it sorted the sooner Vanessa would be out of her hair.
Her thoughts were disturbed by a knock at the door, the PO led Vanessa into the room.
Immediately Helen was struck by the coldness in the woman's eyes. She took Vanessa through the usual spiel about who she was and that Vanessa was now her responsibility etc.
'.. and my reports will be sent to Area who will then forward it along with all other reports to be taken into consideration when your appeal is considered'
On hearing this Vanessa perked up, 'so it's down to you then, my life is in your hands so to speak?'
'Well .. no. not exactly, I have a certain input but there are others who..'
'yes but the others are not here, I cannot do anything about them can I' Vanessa stated.
'I see your point' Helen nodded, assuming she meant that she could behave whilst at Larkhall and get a glowing report.
'No I don't think you do Miss Stewart'
Alerted by the subtle threatening tone that appeared in Vanessa's voice Helen looked up.
'Are you threatening me Vanessa'
'Of course not Miss, what on earth gave you that idea?' she smiled sweetly, the smile wasn't quite genuine enough to be believable.
'Well that's good, because I should warn you that anything that you do or say might have a bearing on my report here. You will do well to remember that' she tried the authoritative voice but couldn't muster the force she needed, she felt unsettled, this woman was going to be trouble.
'Oh I will remember that Helen'
'It's Miss Stewart , Vanessa' Helen warned.
'Indeed it is Helen, but surely you're not going to put the fact that I called you by your first name in your report now are you, that would get us off on the wrong foot now wouldn't it. I'm sure neither of us wants anything bad to happen do we' again the threat, but conveyed so innocently.
Helen had never come across anyone like her, the threat was obvious, but if she were to try to explain it to any of her peers it would sound absurd. The uneasy feeling creeping over her was almost too much to bear, she wanted the woman out of the room fast.
'Indeed, but you will do well to remember that there are strict rules here Vanessa. As long as you stick with them then you will have no trouble from me.. I am a very tolerant woman' Vanessa grinned, but Helen had not finished, she had to show this woman she meant business.
'.. cross the line however, and you will see a side of me that will make you wish you'd never set foot in Larkhall, do I make myself clear?'
'You do' Vanessa nodded, at last a decent adversary. In all of the other shit holes she'd been sent to the first interview had them on the back foot, they were putty in her hands, but it seemed Miss Stewart was going to be a challenge, one that she looked forward to.. a lot.
As soon as Vanessa had gone Helen breathed a sigh if relief, she had never met anyone whose mere presence had made her feel that uneasy in such a short space of time and she had met some pretty hardened criminals. She was not looking forward to the next few weeks, not at all.
Her attention turned to the pile of files on her desk. Drawing Nikki's file from the pile she gazed at the picture, the one thing that finally seemed to be going right in her life, she smiled and her mind started to drift
The next few weeks saw Vanessa making her presence felt on G Wing. She had managed, in one way or another, to rile, bait or bully almost every person on the wing, both staff and cons.
A meeting had been arranged and Yvonne, Nikki, Barbara, Denny, Shaz and the Julies were all in attendance, the most surprising late comer being Shell Dockley.
'Whassup wiv you lot?' she asked when she walked in and was met with a few almost open mouthed stares.
'nuffink, innit' Denny replied, beckoning Shell over to the space next to her on Nikki's bunk.
Not wanting to waste any more time, Yvonne kicked proceedings off, making it clear that something had to be done to stop 'that friggin' nutcase' from causing any more aggro.
'She needs sortin' and if she carries on much more I'm gonna be the one doin' it' Yvonne growled.
'Yeah the woman's a psycho!' Shell added.
Seven amused heads turned to look at her.. Shaz hiding her giggles behind her hand, not wanting to feel the wrath of Shell.
'Well she is!' she protested, again they all laughed, the pot and kettle scenario springing immediately to mind.
'Right so what can we do about it?' Nikki asked.
'Well we could ' Denny started explaining the lengths she was prepared to go to get rid of Vanessa.
'Trouble is we don't want no trouble from the screws do we?' Julies S, began nudging her friend to continue..
'S'right Ju, we reckon we should turn it round so that the screws sort of for us don't we Ju..'
Clearly they had some idea of a plan. Nikki was keen to hear it .. Helen had made it clear that she had to give any sign of trouble a wide berth if she wanted to keep any hope of an appeal being granted.
'Nah we'll sort 'er ourselves innit girls?' Shell said pounding her fist into the palm of her hands.
' 'old on a minute Dockley.. for once, I reckon we should listen to what the Julie's have to say' Yvonne cut in.
'Well from what we've 'eard they're as keen to get rid of 'er as we are..'
'Old Bodybag was 'aving a right old moan this morning'
'No change there then eh Den' Shaz sniggered.
'Oi shut it! Let 'em finish ' Yvonne warned.
'Well all they said was that they needed a good reason to get her shipped out, she aint stepping that far out of line to ..'
'..to give 'em the excuse they need though, s'what she said aint that right Ju'
'Yeah that's what she said'
'So all we need to figure out is a way to fix it so that she gets shipped out' they all looked at each other and spoke at the same time.
'Seems the best way. Shell you'll have to help us on this one' Yvonne told her.
'eh? .. me? what?'
'Yes you, you stupid tar..'
'..Nikki! Look we've all got to work together on this'
'Sorry Yvonne' Nikki replied sheepishly.
Shell grinned and Nikki sent back a look that made the smile fade instantly.
They spent the best part of the next hour formulating a plan to get enough stuff smuggled in and stashed in Vanessa cell to make her look like Larkhall's equivalent of a Columbian drugs baron. All they had to do now was to sit tight and wait.
This plan was all very well, what it did not consider was the fact that Vanessa was not going to sit back and wait for them to get rid of her. She had noticed the obvious rapport between Helen and Nikki (both during their Lifer's sessions and out on the landings), it seemed to Nikki that as soon as Dockley had stopped goading her, she was facing a fresh onslaught from Vanessa.
A couple of days after their meeting Nikki was out in the garden when Helen approached her, she made idle chat and walked away. Nikki couldn't seem to drag her eyes away from the departing figure.
'Fancy her do you Wade?', the voice was enough to make the hairs on the back of Nikki's neck stand on end.
Nikki tried to ignore her and went to walk away, as she had on the numerous occasions Vanessa had seen fit to pick a fight with her. Vanessa had only seen this side of Nikki, no-one had bothered to warn her that there was another, less easy going side, particularly where 'offences against the lovely Miss Stewart' were concerned.
'Touched a nerve have I love?'
'Why don't you just piss off eh?'
'She wouldn't look at you though, she's way out of your league' Vanessa laughed.
Unfortunately for Vanessa she had hit on the one nerve that was likely to send Nikki over the edge. The same thought had been going round and round in Nikki's head for the last week, she had tried to shake it, tried bloody hard, but to no avail. She had even tried avoiding Helen because the urge to kiss her had become so overwhelming of late that she was not sure that she could control it were the opportunity to arise.
'I've asked you nicely, now I am telling you get out of my face' Nikki warned, her fists were clenched so tightly that her nails dug painfully into the flesh of her palms.
'Would make an excellent newspaper story though eh? Employee of the Home Office Screws Lesbian Cop Killer.. do you wonder what she'd be like between the '
She didn't get chance to finish, all of the snipes and bitchy comments had built up a rage in Nikki that she could hold back no longer. With one punch she floored Vanessa as the woman lay clutching her now obviously broken nose Nikki spoke 'I warned you, but you just wouldn't stop pushing'
'I'll get you for this you bitch'
'Anytime you're ready' Nikki leant down ready for more.
'If I don't get you, I'll get your jock girlfriend'
Nikki reached down and grabbed Vanessa by the collar, she was about to slap a bit more sense into her when
'NIKKI!' she let go and Vanessa fell back to the floor.
'What the hell is going on here?', Vanessa struggled to her feet, 'you'd better tell me or I'll put you both on report WELL?'
'Nothing is happening Miss Stewart' Vanessa grinned, blood still pouring from her nose.
'Really.. and I am supposed to believe that'
'You can believe whatever you like Miss, but since you didn't see and I'm telling you I slipped and Wade here was helping me up, there isn't much else you can do is there?' she turned to Nikki, 'thank you Wade you've been a great help, I owe you one' the double meaning was clear, with that she walked past them towards the medical block.
Helen turned to Nikki, 'Well?'
'She started it' Nikki started.
'Oh grow up Nikki, this is serious!'
'I know it's bloody serious, I'm not stupid'
'Maybe not but you're doing a bloody good impersonation' Helen told her frankly.
'Don't patronise me'
'Well don't act like a child then'
'Oh I give up' Nikki stormed off in the direction of the potting shed.
Helen was not having any of it, not prepared to let it drop, she followed her.
'Don't walk away from me when I am talking to you'
'You weren't talking to me, you were talking at me!'
'The difference being?' Helen asked.
'Oh for Christ's sake Helen! Alright, I admit, I hit her okay! There, now you have a full confession'
'How many times do I have to explain to you..' she began to shout.
'STOP! I have tip toed around that woman since she got here, she has needled me from the beginning. She's been asking for it for weeks Helen'
'So what was so bloody difficult about ignoring her today'
'It . Oh it doesn't matter'
'Yes Nikki, it does, it matters a lot'
Nikki huffed and sighed and paced.
'Nikki' Helen touched her arm, turning her around to face her.
The overwhelming feeling of deja vous hit Nikki like a thunder bolt, she could almost see them here, before .
'She threatened me and..'
'Oh for God's sake she's threatened everybody on the wing'
'..AND she threatened you and I just snapped because because because I ' Nikki just could not seem to stop herself, she was being drawn closer and closer.
When their lips met it was all that she'd dreamed and more, because in her dreams Helen had pushed her away, shouted at her, but that was not happening, instead the lips beneath hers responded, after what seemed like an eternity Nikki broke away. Both women remained speechless
'I.. I'm sorry .. I shouldn't have..' Nikki started.
'Don't apologise Heat of the moment?' Helen offered feebly.
'Something like that' Nikki replied, trying hard to remain upright, when all she felt like was keeling over.
'I uh.. I'd better be going, I'll see you at the meeting tomorrow?' Helen said, she wanted to stay, to explain to Nikki, why it was okay, why she'd wanted it to happen too, but she just couldn't bring herself to do it, instead she took the cowards way out, cut and run.
Nikki stormed into her cell, of all the bloody stupid ! But God, what a kiss! Even though she knew she could be in deep shit for doing it, she couldn't help smiling. She was so bloody confused, Helen had responded? What the fuck was going on? One thing was for sure, they needed to talk.
Helen got home from work and immediately reached for a drink, what the bloody hell had she done? She should never have let it get that far, she should have told Nikki the truth, from the start. Pressing the play button on her answering machine she heard a familiar voice.
'Hi Helen, it's Trish, just calling to see how you're both doing. Have you decided what or when you're going to tell her, call me!'.
They had exchanged a few calls over the last few weeks, Trish was still pretty cut up about the damage she had done and was eager to hear of Nikki's progress, both personally and with her appeal. Helen had told her that Nikki was doing well, was thinking positively and that all signs were good as far as the appeal were concerned. On a personal level, they had been getting on really well, Helen had discussed whether or not she should come clean, before Nikki remembered everything, including the fact that they weren't exactly the best of friends prior to the accident.
Helen picked up the phone, she needed to talk this one through.
'Hiya Trish, it's me'
'Bloody Hell, you sound as though you're lottery numbers have come up but you forgot to get a ticket
'Oh dear, that bad eh?'
'Worse, much worse' Helen admitted, 'I can't keep this up Trish, I'm going to have to tell her'
'She kissed me and.. well I kissed her back.. but she thinks she's done something wrong, I know she's going to be worrying that she's overstepped the mark.. worrying what I'll do..'
'So tell her.. what've you got to lose?'
'Her.. If that happens I don't know what I'll do ' Helen's voice broke, 'I know I've been living on borrowed time, I don't want to lose what we've found, but once I tell her the truth she wont want to know me'
'You don't know that'll happen' Trish tried to argue.
'It happened before'
'but.. she's different, you're different, time has moved on.. whatever happens you know you're going to have to come clean Helen'
'I know, I'm scared'
'How do you think she's feeling?'
Helen knew Trish was right, she groaned, the frustration of it all! 'Oh this is all such a fucking mess!'
'Yes it is, but you have the power to clean up. You know what you have to do'
'Maybe I'll do it next..'
'Helen! Stop running away from it, you've had time to prepare for this, do it tomorrow'
'But what..? Wait and wait until she remembers patchy incidents? Ones that might not give her the full, true, story? We both know she deserves more than that don't we?'
Helen sighed, she knew she was facing the inevitable.
'I'll tell her tomorrow' she almost whispered.
'Good, now let's figure out what you have to say '
The conversation went on and on and by the end Helen was feeling a little more confident, they had worked out the best way to approach telling Nikki the whole story without giving her the opportunity to explode into one of her rages. Helen went to bed that night feeling more settled than she had for weeks.
The following day she was scheduled for a lifers meeting at 10 she had pencilled in a meeting with Nikki at 12, that way she figured she would leave as much time as possible to deal with the aftershocks of her revelation.
As the women piled into the 10 O'Clock meeting she took Nikki to one side and told her about their meeting. Nikki immediately assumed she was in trouble, that Helen was going to reprimand her, that her report was going to show an 'assault' on an officer. , Helen tried to reassure her, the only way she could think of was by letting her in on the fact that she had already sent off her report and that she had giving Nikki her full support with her appeal, Nikki smiled. What a bloody relief, she thought she had blown it big time!
Vanessa also took note of the information, she had too discovered.. through her solicitor .. that Helen had completed a report on her own suitability for appeal. Hers however had not been quite so glowing, barely a flicker of hope in fact. She was not happy.
The meeting progressed, Vanessa hardly spoke something the rest of the group gave thanks for. Her silence went unnoticed by Helen who was too preoccupied with her forthcoming meeting with Nikki.
At the end of the meeting Vanessa asked Helen a question, Helen groaned, bloody typical, she had had an hour in which to ask it but she had to ask it at the end, when it was time to go. With a sigh she began to speak to Vanessa, she said goodbye to the others as they left giving Nikki a smile that left the inmates heart pounding as she left the room.
Nikki was still thinking about it as they headed toward the first security gate, Bodybag directing them from behind. A sudden cold, uneasy feeling washed over Nikki. Strange, what was it.?.. suddenly it came to her.. Vanessa!
She had to get back, she turned..
'And where do you think you're going miss?' Bodybag huffed.
'Miss Stewart.. I've got to go and..'
'She gives you enough attention as it is Wade now move!'
Nikki turned back sod this she thought.
Turning again, quickly she was past Bodybag before she knew what was happening.
Nikki slowed her pace as she neared the meeting room, she could hear Vanessa's voice ranting on but there was, as yet, no sign of Helen. Slowly she pushed the door open enough for her to slip inside. Vanessa was so wrapped up in the point she was trying to make that she didn't notice Nikki's arrival.
Helen was pinned against the far wall. Vanessa had one hand to her throat holding her against the wall, the other appeared to be holding some kind of weapon to Helen's face. Nikki's stomach flipped at the thought of any harm coming to Helen, she didn't want to charge in.. she had to think this one through.
For once Bodybag had managed to stay quiet long enough to realise that Nikki was right, Miss Stewart was in trouble, clearly she could not get Nikki out of the room, so she retreated up the corridor, and called for immediate assistance.
As Nikki edged closer Helen tried to distract Vanessa
'Why are you doing this?'
'I know all about your report, you meddling bitch! You were my last chance and you've ruined it for me'
'Vanessa, I wrote what I saw! You can't deny the truth' Helen tried to argue.
In sheer frustration Vanessa slapped Helen with the back of her hand, cutting her lip.
Nikki flinched, the effort it took not to hurl herself at the woman was immense.
'I told you to shut the fuck up, you do gooders will never learn!'
'Vanessa this is not going to help your case, you..'
'My case? My fucking case is up the swanny now, thanks to you! Well the way I see it now is in for a penny in for a pound eh? Might as well do you as well as that other meddling old bitch. She never knew when to leave me alone either '
'Vanessa drop the knife' Helen saw the look of shock in Nikki's eyes, glad that at last she had let her know exactly what she was dealing with 'you don't want to do this'
Nikki moved closer, the urgency now apparent.
'Really? Give me one good reason why I should drop it' Vanessa challenged her.
Nikki took this as her cue, she grabbed the larger woman's arm, twisted it round and spoke in with gritty determination.. 'because if you don't drop it I'll rip your bloody arm off' she yanked the arm higher up behind Vanessa's back, the pain causing her to loosen her grip on the knife and it clattered to the floor. Helen quickly grabbed it.
Vanessa turned and tried to take a swing at her but Nikki was too quick and dodged it, her arms were swinging violently as she came full charge at Nikki knocking her to the ground. What she made up for in weight she lost in dexterity and once again Nikki soon had the upper hand.
As usual the cavalry arrived just as the action had come to an end, two PO's grabbed Vanessa and held her whilst Nikki got up. The PO's didn't have a firm enough hold of her feet however, she wriggled free and aimed one last kick at Nikki, catching her unawares it sent her sprawling to the floor.
As she was dragged out of the room Vanessa continued to scream promises of all manner of retribution, against both Helen and Nikki.
Helen rushed to where Nikki was slowly easing herself off the floor.
'Nikki are you alright..?'
'Yeah I think..' as Nikki stood room seemed to spin, she steadied herself by grabbing hold of Helen's arm.
'You okay?' Helen asked.
Nikki looked at her, she couldn't believe it slowly the fog that had clouded her brain began to lift, as each memory returned her heart was slowly torn apart.
'Nikki?' Helen touched her face.
'Don't' Nikki pulled away.
'I .. what's wrong?' Helen was completely at a loss for words.
'I remember Helen, I remember it all ..' she looked at her, their eyes met and Helen instantly looked away.
Noticing Bodybag standing at the door she spoke, 'Sylvia, you can go I'm fine. I will escort Nikki back myself'
'I'm not sure Ma'am'
'Sylvia I am not asking you I am telling you!' Helen warned.
'Yes Ma'am' she left closing the door behind her.
Nikki turned and walked away.
'I was going to tell you ' Helens words were muffled, it felt to Nikki as though she was not really in the room.
Nikki just laughed.
'I was, I swear to you, I told Trish I would..'
'Trish ? This just gets better and better! What did you do compare notes? Was it a competition to see who could hurt me the most? Build her up and knock her down again, was that it? Well congratulations Helen, she hurt me badly.. but you.. you broke my heart! You lied to me.. I trusted you and you..' she started to cry, the weeks of uncertainty, the hope that had developed, the friendship all swept away in a matter of seconds.
Helen moved towards her.. 'Nikki I '
'Please Helen, don't come near me right now, I just don't think I could take it..You know the more I think about it the more I wonder why you bothered trying again, I would have thought you'd see my memory loss as a blessing, an excuse to get away?' Nikki looked at Helen, seeking reassurance.
The guilt was written across Helen's face, she could not look her in the eye.
'You did think about it didn't you? Oh my God' she ran her hands through her hair, ' this is a nightmare!'
'..Nikki no, it wasn't like that, please it did cross my mind, but only for a second, no not even that long, but I could never have done that to you, I love you..'
'No Helen, this is not love, pity maybe, but not love. I think you'd better leave'
'For fucks sake! Do I have to spell it out for you? Leave me alone, get out of my life, I NEVER want anything to do with you again, EVER!' turning her back her body shook with the sobs that she could no longer keep in check.
Helen knew that there were no words that could make things right, she'd left it too late gambled and lost. There was no going back, the one chance she'd had to turn the clocks back and she'd screwed up again. She walked out of the room and out of Nikki's life.
Less than two months later Nikki finally won her appeal, by then it was a hollow victory, the one person she had wanted to share it with had disappeared completely.
After talking to Monica, Trish and the rest of her friends she soon realised that the things she'd said to Helen were irrational, that given time they would have been able to sort things out.
They weren't given that time though, since Helen walked out following the Vanessa incident Nikki had not laid eyes on her. She'd, apparently, handed in her resignation that day and had refused all requests to return to Larkhall.
It became clear that she had moved out of Nikki's life, as requested.
As she walked out of the gates and into her new life Nikki could only guess what her future might hold, the one thing that was certain at this point was that Helen Stewart would play no part in it.
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