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Meet Me Halfway

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Disclaimer: The rights to Bad Girls, its characters, and everything associated with it, including most of the dialogue used in this fanfiction, belong to creators Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus, Shed Productions, and ITV. This story has been written purely for the entertainment of Bad Girls fans, as a way of keeping the show alive. No copyright infringement intended. No profit is being made.

Rating: The explicit-rating is for sex-related stuff (when we get there). Aside from that, teen-rated.

Authors Notes: I’m brand, spanking new to the Bad Girls fandom, having missed it when it screened on telly here. After devouring series’ 1-3 in record time, I am now impatiently waiting until Christmas to acquire the rest of the DVD’s. Thankfully I was able to watch the entire Helen/Nikki story arc; otherwise I probably would be tearing my hair out by now. From the very first episode I was drawn in by the smouldering chemistry between the new wing-governor and the prisoner in her charge, and from that point on I was hooked.

Even though the show screened years ago, I’m hoping there are still a few die-hard Helen/Nikki shippers out there (or newbies like me) to appreciate this fic. Regardless, the show’s too good not to write about. :-)

~NZLisaM.


 

PART ONE

Chapter One

HELEN: HER OFFICE

In hindsight, receiving an odd look from the guard at the prison gate, because you have smudged mascara on your face after a hurried application at a traffic light might seem amusing at the time, but it probably should’ve given her some inkling that this was going to be a really shitty day. If Helen had of foreseen just how rough things were going to get she might’ve opted to call in sick.

In the space of a few hours she’d been publicly humiliated in front of the entire wing by a prisoner, undermined by her own staff, and on top of that she had to deal with a boss who was a misogynist bastard, who saw assertive women as overemotional and unwilling to compromise. To men like Simon Stubberfield and Jim Fenner she was nothing more than a pretty wee girl, playing at being a prison governor.

Bright side, at least she’d fixed her makeup!

She had temporarily dealt with the issue of Nikki Wade by putting her on Rule 43. If only she could send the governing governor and principal officer into segregation then all her problems would be solved. Well not really – but imagining Stubberfield and Fenner locked up ‘down the block’, in side-by-side cells, was enough to bring a smile to her lips.

Running a hand through her hair, she leaned back in her chair. Nikki was another story. Sending her to the punishment block had given Helen no pleasure, but she’d seen no other option, had been forced to make an example out of her to make sure that every woman on G-wing understood that insubordination in any form would not be tolerated.

To make matters worse, much of what Nikki had thrown at her had been justified. She’d had every right to be furious over the inexcusable trauma her friend had suffered. The thought of the poor woman, in pure agony, locked in a cell alone, with no help in sight made Helen physically ill, so she more than understood where Nikki was coming from. 

After speaking to Carol Byatt she fully believed her story, was certain that she had indeed asked to see the doctor, and been refused. Senior Officer Hollamby’s version of events (complete with crocodile tears) just hadn’t stacked up, and if Helen could prove otherwise, Sylvia Hollamby would be out on her ear. Unfortunately, with no other witnesses, it was one person’s word against the other.

Her next plan of action was to show Nikki that inciting a wing revolt was not the right way to implement positive changes to prison policies. That slow and steady was the best approach, and that if they worked together, they could (no would) make a difference.

Now all she had to do was convince Nikki to see things her way. How hard could it be?


 

NIKKI: THE BLOCK

Mid morning, approximately sixteen hours after she’d been sent down the block, Helen Stewart marched into the cell she was occupying, heels striking the stone floor. Just inside the door, she stopped short, her expression morphing into one of fury, making Nikki wonder what the hell she’d done wrong now? She was sitting cross-legged on the cold damp floor, shivering, clad in nothing but a thin garment made out of some kind of untearable fabric. What more did the woman want from her? Was she going to take away that too? Leave her naked? She wouldn’t put anything past the screws. They were all as bad as one another, even if they came in a package as attractive as the one standing in front of her.

It soon became apparent that Stewart’s anger wasn’t directed at her (at least for now anyway) when she rounded on the female screw hovering in the doorway, and demanded to know why she was in strips. The screw practically wet her knickers under such a stern look and after more yelling from Stewart was dispatched to do the new queen of the castle’s (well, small section of the castle anyway) bidding. The new wing governor was quite the commanding presence, as Nikki had discovered firsthand the day before.

Nikki kept her face neutral while Stewart made a show of apologising. Crossing the room the petite woman perched on the edge of the bed looking all doe-eyed and determined. If she was faking sincerity she was one hell of an actress. To her chagrin by the time the screw returned with her clothes, she found herself actively listening to what Stewart proposed. Perhaps the new wing governor did care about the welfare of the women after all? Regardless, Nikki decided to play along for now, do what Stewart was asking of her, but if the woman thought she had somehow won, gained the upper hand then she was going to be sorely disappointed. It would take a lot more than this small gesture on her part to gain her trust.


 

HELEN: FASHION SHOW

Watching a scantily-clad Michelle Dockley gyrate on stage didn’t go a long way towards convincing Helen that it was a good idea to allow vulnerable women in a prison environment to parade themselves in front of officers and VIP’s alike. But the fashion show was Stubberfield’s baby so she had little choice but to live with it. Besides, the women were all in high spirits, and it was just a bit of fun really she supposed. Better to see them channelling all their energies into this, than passing the time indulging in more destructive pastimes, like bullying and drugs.

Seated next to her, Simon leaned in, smiling, “Isn’t it all going swimmingly?”

Plastering a bright smile on her face, she nodded.

Afterwards she sought Nikki out to thank her for her help earlier. Watching the raven-haired woman address a roomful of her fellow inmates had both fascinated and impressed Helen. If was easy to see why Nikki was so well liked and respected on the wing. In a few sentences she’d come across as kind, respectful, and approachable. If only some of the other officers could see the same potential in Nikki that she did.

“Nikki.” Spotting her on the stairs she hurried over. She couldn’t help noticing the colour of her shirt, and that red really suited her. “Listen, I just wanted to thank you again for helping me out.”

Pausing on the lowest rung, Nikki gave her a smug smile. “Don't think I did anything for you, miss.”

Okay, so not quite the grateful reaction she’d been hoping for, but it was a start.


 

NIKKI: CORRIDOR

As Nikki made her way back from the showers Miss Stewart called out her name, jogging over to her.

Placing a hand on her arm, the governor steered her back the way she’d just come, out of hearing range of the screw manning the gate. Thank god there were no other inmates in the immediate vicinity, because the way she was being manhandled by Miss Stewart made it look like she was in the other woman’s pocket. Shell Dockley would’ve had a field day if she had of seen them together. Not that Nikki gave a shit what Dockley thought about anything.

She had been expecting a visit from the wing governor ever since Carol had been shipped out yesterday afternoon. But when the woman started launching into an explanation, making excuses for her actions, Nikki was having none of it. How hard would it have been for Miss Stewart to come to her and actually give her some warning that her friend was being transferred to another nick prior to the fact, so it wouldn’t have been such a shock when it happened? When it came down to it Helen Stewart did what she liked, only seeking her out when it suited her purposes, or when she required her help with something.

So Nikki took great satisfaction in her next words. “Well, great. Even more amazing to me you can stick your job, miss.” To emphasis the finality of it all she pivoted on her heel, leaving her standing there.

Apparently Miss Stewart had other ideas. “So, you still don't think I can do any good, then?” she called.

She should’ve known the bloody woman wouldn’t be that easy to shake. Reluctantly turning around, Nikki walked back over to her. “No,” she said, her eyes drifting to where a screw was pinning up Miss Stewart’s version of ‘just say no to drugs’. Making eye contact, she smirked: “I think you do a really great poster. Very eye-catching. Totally pointless, but.”

Her insults had the desired effect. Looking pissed off, the governor blew out a slow breath. Nikki wondered if she was aware that some of the women couldn’t even read said posters. Not that she was about to enlighten her.

When she started going on about protecting her ‘civil liberties’, she had to fight the urge not to burst out laughing. Was the woman for real? Was she that naive that she thought a couple of posters would bring about a momentous reform? Scare prisoners off drugs? Did she have any idea what it would be like, inhabiting such a small space, with a bunch of users withdrawing from drugs? Had she forgotten where she worked? All Nikki could do was stare, “Are you trying to wind me up?” she mocked.

As she’d expected Miss Stewart misinterpreted. “You’re not telling me that you take drugs, are you?”

She didn’t correct her. It amused her to bait the woman, to see the uncertainty cross her face as she wondered whether Nikki was having her on or not.

“No.” She deliberately let that hang, giving it time to sink in. As relief suffused the governor’s features she delivered the final blow. “I’m not telling you anything.”

With that parting shot, she walked away. This time Miss Stewart didn’t try to stop her.


 

HELEN: CORRIDOR

After her induction meeting, Helen accompanied new arrival Monica Lindsay through the administration office. Reaching the corridor, she addressed the officer waiting by the gate. “Can you take Monica along to Probation, please? Turning to the woman in front of her, she spoke kindly. “They at least can help you sort out your care arrangements.”

Watching Monica go, she was still mortified over the way she’d wrongly assumed that a grown man living at home being waited on hand-and-foot by his mother was the result of laziness. Turned out he had Down syndrome, and his mother was his sole carer. Had been his sole carer that is, until now. She questioned what kind of judge would sentence the mother of a disabled son (who relied on her totally for everything) to prison time? Well there was nothing she could do about that, but she would do whatever she could to help Monica. She intended to take another look at her file, certain that she was a prime candidate to appeal her case.

She had just turned around, when Jim sauntered by, happy as Larry. “Helen, maybe your poster campaign is working after all,” he approved, stopping in front of her. “Anything that targets that troublemaker Nikki Wade is just brilliant by me.”

A feeling of dread formed in the pit of her stomach. “What are you talking about, Jim?”

“She's just had a visit from the DST. I assumed you knew,” he said, continuing on his way.

Shit! How had that happened? She was torn between feeling sorry for Nikki, and disappointed that she was in trouble yet again. Did this raid mean she was a drug taker after all? Maybe she wasn’t the best woman on the wing to place her trust in? No, she was sure Nikki had just been mouthing off in the corridor, trying to get a rise out of her. Even though she’d only been wing governor for a few weeks, she’d never seen any evidence (until today that is) that the inmate was a user. She’d go and see her later, get the truth out of her.

Heading back to her office, she suddenly wished she was one of those officers who kept a bottle of vodka hidden in their desk drawer, because she sure could use a drink right about now. Maybe it was time she started?


 

NIKKI: HER CELL (G2)

Helen ‘bloody’ Stewart had stabbed her in the back. Crouching down, tears in her eyes, she sifted through the utter devastation at her feet, that had once been her prized possessions. Her moist eyes took in her note book, torn to shreds, sheets of paper strewn across the floor. She reached for a library book, flipped through it, noticing several of the pages were ripped. Great, what was she going to tell the librarian? She’d probably be banned from the library now, one of the few pleasures she had in this stinking place.

She sensed movement in the doorway, didn’t have to look up to know Stewart was standing there, could smell her familiar perfume. “Nice work,” she muttered under her breath, deliberately keeping her face averted, unable to look at the woman her had betrayed her so badly.

“I'm going to make a complaint. They are not allowed to do this.” To Nikki’s fury she actually had the gall to sound sorry. She had been wrong – the governor was a good actress after all.

“But they're allowed to make me squat over a mirror?” she choked out, struggling not to cry, not wanting to give the woman the satisfaction.

“Nikki, they had good reason to suspect that you were dealing in drugs.”

Raising her head, Nikki looked straight at her. “Why, because you told them?”

“No, I didn't, actually,” Stewart fired back, her voice increasing in volume.

She continued to stare at her. “You liar.”

“Well, you can think what you like but the fact is, they may not have found anything on you but they will on others. And the women that don't do drugs will thank us for that.”

Nikki couldn’t believe her ears. Where did this woman get off! “Well, fantastic. I'm really glad you're convinced you're doing the right thing.” Picking up her blue plastic mug she flung it in her general direction, causing the younger woman to flinch. “Now why don't you just piss off out of my space?”

Overcome, she covered her mouth with her hand to stifle a sob. The silence stretched so long that she’d almost convinced herself Stewart had left, except she could still hear her breathing.

Eventually she said, in a tone that conveyed disappointment. Actual disappointment after everything she’d just been through at the hands of the DST. “You really let yourself down, Nikki.”

She heard the click of the door as the G-wing jailor (and that’s all she was, her jailor) pulled it closed after her.

Alone, Nikki allowed herself to really cry. She couldn’t believe she’d been dumb enough to actually think that the governor might be different from the other screws in here. It hurt, more than she cared to admit, that she’d been proven wrong, let down yet again.


 

HELEN: VISITORS ROOM

Just as visiting time was getting underway, Helen slipped into the room. After suffering through yet another ignorant remark from Sylvia Hollamby regarding Monica Lindsay’s intellectually disabled son Spencer, she joined Stella, the officer behind the desk, to discuss the visitor’s log.

While listening, Helen found her eyes involuntarily drifting over to Nikki. She couldn’t help it, the inmate piqued her curiosity. She felt they were like-minded, shared many of the same ideas and principals, even if Nikki thought they didn’t. They’d make a good team, she just needed to get the lifer on the same page.

She sneaked a glance at the blonde visitor sitting across from her. So that was her girlfriend? She was pretty. Of course Helen wouldn’t have expected any less, Nikki was a striking woman, so she was hardly going to have an ugly partner – female or male. Helen tried to recall her name from the speed read she’d done of every G-wing inmate’s file her first week on the job. Terri? Tina? Trisha... that was it!

As if sensing her interest, Trisha suddenly swung around in her seat and looked right at her. Helen tried to make out what was being said, but there was too much noise in the room to hear. Whatever it was, caused Nikki to grin in response, making Helen conclude that Trisha hadn’t been looking at her after all, because there was no way Nikki would be smiling about her, especially given how furious she’d been yesterday. Now that she thought about it there was a clock on the wall behind her.

Admittedly, she could have handled things better during their previous encounter. Getting cross at a woman who had just undergone the humiliation of a strip search and had her cell ripped apart in the process was probably not the best way to get into her good books. But when Nikki had thrown her apology back in her face, and then gone on to accuse her of tipping off the DST, refusing to listen when she’d said she’d done no such thing, Helen had seen red. Even though the DST hadn’t found anything, either in her room, or on her person, she still didn’t know whether Nikki was a drug user or not, because she had yet to get a concrete answer out of the bloody woman about anything. All her questions thus far had either been met with challenging smirks, or non-committal responses. It was incredibly frustrating, not to mention unproductive. Her efforts to get Nikki on her side were failing miserably.

Following yesterdays fiasco, she’d summoned the head of the Dedicated Search Team to her office and informed the woman in no uncertain terms that in future all raids on prisoner cells on G-wing were to be approved by her. She hoped her words had gotten through because she didn’t need the aggravation. As much as she was determined to eradicate drug use, she was seriously starting to doubt her approach.

“It’s a drop!” she suddenly heard one of the DST officers hiss, breaking into her thoughts.

She’d barely moved out from behind the desk, by which time the alarm was blaring and the two DST officers were leaping across the room upending a table and throwing an inmate and her visitor to the floor. It was disconcerting to say the least. This was the first time she’d seen them in action and their rough treatment of the couple suspected of passing drugs was making her decidedly uneasy. Was this what they’d done to Nikki?

A wailing sound interrupted Helen’s thoughts and it took a moment for it to register that the noise was coming from Monica’s son, Spencer. Her breath caught in her throat to see the terrified expression on his face, and Monica’s helpless one, as she failed to calm him down. While she wracked her brains trying to figure out how to deal with the situation, Julie Johnston (on tea trolley duty) got to her feet and started clapping. Initially startled by her strange behaviour, but hoping Julie had some insight knowledge into Down syndrome, Helen also began to clap, quickly instructing the officers to follow suit. Some, like Lorna and Stella, did as she asked, while others, like Sylvia, just stared at her like she’d gone mad. The prisoners, and their visitors, needed no such coaxing; they had already joined in, most of them having exited their tables to surround Spencer in a protective bubble.

And their perseverance paid off. It wasn’t long before Spencer was all smiles, thinking it a great game. Helen felt tears spring to her eyes at the way all the women had rallied together to support Monica and her son in their time of need. Although it tore at her heart to see how shook up the older woman still looked. Taking a deep breath, she looked up to find Nikki studying her closely, her eyes intense, demanding, as if to say, “See where your new regime leads?” Or maybe she was reading too much into it, undoubtedly it was her own conscience nagging at her. But she tore her gaze away anyway, unnerved by such scrutiny.

Because Nikki and her conscience were right, she’d fucked up big time! But admitting it, without looking like a fool in front of officers and prisoners alike, was going to take some doing.