DISCLAIMER: Bad Girls is the property of Shed Productions.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"In my opinion, prison as a punishment only makes bad situations worse," Monica said as she nodded her thanks to the press and caught the beaming smile of Helen Stewart. Overwhelmed with gratitude, she drew the younger woman, who until a few moments ago had been her jailor, into a heartfelt embrace.
"Congratulations, Monica! I am so pleased for you!"
"Frankly, Helen, I'm still a bit stunned."
Helen smiled knowingly as she wrapped her arm around the older woman's shoulder and led her toward a nearby bench. "What are your plans now, Monica?"
Monica sighed as she sat down. "I have a lot of thinking to do before I can answer that properly. I do know a change is due in my professional life. I think I would like to help women like those I met inside."
"And you'll do well at that, I'm sure. Are you going back to your home then?"
Tears threatened the corners of Monica's eyes as she answered, "I suppose I am. It will never really be home again, though. Not without Spencer."
Helen pulled the grieving woman closer and softly asked, "Would you like me to stay with you until your taxi arrives?"
"Oh, Helen, you've already done so much for me. I couldn't ask you-"
"It's fine, Monica," Helen smiled, "We'll call it my last official action on your case, okay? I need to meet Sean at the tailor shop, but I still have plenty of time."
"Your wedding is coming up soon, isn't it?"
"Not soon enough, if you ask my fiancé. I'm surprised that he didn't have an official ready to go when he first asked," Helen said, not attempting to disguise the sarcasm in her voice.
Monica chuckled softly as she looked across the crowded intersection. She had almost missed out on this, her freedom, her future. Had it not been for the woman seated next to her, and the friends she had made inside, she would have never left Larkhall Prison alive. Survival was now not only an opportunity, but also an imperative. Smiling gratefully, she turned toward her companion.
"I can't thank you enough Helen, for all of your support and encouragement while I was in Larkhall, especially when Spencer died. I know I would not be sitting here today if it hadn't been for you and Nikki Wade."
"Nikki Wade," Helen repeated softly as a smile teased the corners of her mouth. "Her methods are seldom in line with prison regulations, but her heart is in the right place."
"Her heart is with you, isn't it Helen?" Monica asked, watching the color slowly drain from her companion."
Helen was barely able to keep the shock from her voice as she stammered, "I , I am not sure I understand what you mean."
Monica watched as Helen struggled to maintain her composure. Always trying to uphold that dammed professional veneer even when it meant denying herself the truth. Helen and Nikki had saved Monica from making a life-altering mistake and now was her chance to repay them.
"I may be old Miss Stewart, but I am hardly blind. Nikki Wade cares for you, very deeply."
"I realize that Monica, I do," Helen groaned as she stood, fixing her sight on the passing traffic to avoid the older woman's prying gaze. "But as I have told Nikki, my feelings for her are on a strictly platonic and professional level," she continued as she walked around the bench, forcing the truth into her words with each step.
"Are they?" Monica asked, drawing an angry glare from the younger woman. "Oh Helen, please! I've seen the way you look at Nikki when you thought no one else was watching. I have seen the passion in your eyes when you have argued with her as clearly as the smile on your face when she makes you laugh. I know love when I see it."
"My God," Helen growled as she angrily shoved a strand of hair behind her ear, "did Nikki ask you to spea-"
The older woman raised a hand stopping Helen mid-phrase. "Nikki Wade never spoke to me about her feelings for you, Helen. She didn't have to. Could you not see that last night? Do you honestly think Nikki would have taken such a chance with my life if that bastard Fenner was Wing Governor? She saved my life, and your career and she did that out of love. If you would just for once stop thinking with your head and start feeling with your heart, I believe you would find that you feel the same way toward her."
"I don't know what I feel anymore," Helen sadly admitted as she sat back down on the bench. "I am drawn to her, but I find myself more angry and confused every second I spend with her."
"That's stating the obvious," Monica said as a smile warmed her face. "I noticed that things have been strained between the two of you for some time now. And a few weeks ago, I swear I heard your voice as her cell door slammed shut, well after lockdown. Nikki was beside herself the next morning and as I recall, we didn't see you on the wing for days. What happened, Helen?"
Minutes passed as Helen stared at the ground, thinking about those few stolen moments in Nikki's cell. She brushed her fingers across her lips as she remembered the tender kiss they had shared. Her voice barely registered a whisper as she said, "She kissed me. She kissed me and I...I kissed her back. Then my brain kicked in and I accused her of taking advantage of my emotional state. God, Monica, I went to her cell that night knowing damn well what might happen, and then when it did, I got scared and ran, just like I always do."
"You don't have to run from her anymore, Helen. Tell her."
Helen cradled her head in her hand and sighed weakly, "I'm marrying Sean."
"But do you love him? Honestly?" Monica asked softly as she pulled Helen closer to her, hugging her gently.
Helen slowly raised her head revealing tears in her eyes. "I'm supposed to. I'm not supposed to love her, a prisoner in my charge, a woman."
"Do you love Sean?"
Helen looked at the older woman, the truth in her heart finally defeating the denial in her mind, and cried, "I don't think I ever did."
Monica held the younger woman and whispered softly, "Then you must tell him dear, for all of your sakes."
Wiping the tears from her eyes, Helen lifted her head and said, "I know what I need to do, Monica. And I know I do not need to ask-"
"I won't say a word, Helen. I assure you. And if you ever need to talk, you know where to find me."
"Thank you, Monica," Helen said as she nodded silently to a waiting cab. "It's time for you to go home. You are a free woman now."
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