Disclaimer: Characters from The Professionals are Mark-1 Productions Ltd
and are used without permission but with no intent to defraud.


This is probably just self-indulgent; original characters from my fanfic who demanded to have more written about them.
So indulge me.


Secrets

It was nearly eight; I'd been up since six. I knew Helen and Nicky would be on the doorstep long before they needed to arrive. Helen was so excited about the whole event I rather doubted she'd have slept at all.
          Putting the kettle on, I ran through the list again in my mind. I hadn't forgotten anything; but quite a bit relied on other people. Rob had joked that it was organised like a military operation and anyone letting me down better be prepared to face a firing squad.
          My reply to that had only been half-joking: anyone letting me down would have to face Bodie.
          I felt myself grin as I imagined it. Bodie had always been extremely protective of me; something you would imagine would lessen as I grew older. But he was still there for me, just as he'd always been.

There was plenty of time; I poured milk into the coffee and drifted through to the lounge to curl up on the sofa, remembering how Bodie had taken my announcement and request that he gave me away.

'Always thought you were going to marry me.'
          I had smiled, remembering that nave enquiry. I hadn't been quite nine then; it had been just a few weeks before my ninth birthday. Bodie and Ray had taken us to the park, and we'd had ice-cream.
          I've never been quite sure why that birthday party so clearly stands out in my mind. Adult interpretation of what I can remember means I've narrowed it down to the fact that Nicky had finally given into Bodie's charm and let him get close to her. Much as I've always adored my sister, emotionally she's a closed book and newcomers have always had a difficult time getting past her barriers.
          Anyway, I can remember Bodie and Ray arriving that day. It was a little while before I realised Bodie had gone, and that Nicky was missing as well. With all my friends around I didn't take a lot of notice, particularly when Ray distracted me with another present, and they'd returned by the time I was blowing out the candles.
          I suppose the other thing, that I was only subconsciously aware of at the time, was the way Bodie treated me from then on. He was still very protective - possibly even more so - but there seemed to be something missing. It was almost as if having found a new level of closeness to Nicky, it lessened what I had - I can even recall some slight resentment on my part, although it didn't last long.
          We didn't see as much of Bodie or Ray as I would have liked. I knew their work kept them busy, and that it was dangerous. On more than one occasion it landed them in hospital, although we often didn't know until after they'd recovered.
          Apart from the time Ray had been shot and his life was hanging in the balance; Bodie had come personally to tell us, although I think even I could see that he'd come for the comfort we could give him as much as anything else.
          After the tragedies we experienced when I was young, my teen years were quiet in comparison. Minor problems at school or arguments with boyfriends didn't seem to affect me much. Maybe because in losing my Dad and Paul so early - and so violently - I'd already seen what life had to offer in the way of knocks.
          I also knew that there were good and positive things to be had, otherwise Bodie and Ray wouldn't have been around.

I glanced at my watch. Eight-thirty. Nicky and Helen would be here soon, I suppose I should go and wash my hair in readiness.
          I passed Mum's photo in the hall without noticing it; without needing to notice it. The sense of loss was permanently with me and had been sharpened over the last few weeks while I was making the final wedding arrangements.
          She should have been here.

It was during my second year at Uni; I was happy and doing well. Nicky had married Peter the year before and was expecting Helen. I suppose we both should have known it couldn't last; the family didn't exactly have a good track record in terms of living happily ever after.
          I was in a lecture when I got the feeling and knew that something was wrong. Whatever the link was that I shared with Nicky, it only affected us in times of disaster, and the second I got out of the lecture room I headed for the phone, terrified that something had happened to the baby.
          There was no answer at Nicky's number. I hung up and redialled; still nothing. The next number to try was Mum's.
          I could hear Nicky trying to smile. "Thought it might be you."
          "What's happened?" Since Nicky was answering the phone, and sounded all right... "Is it Mum?"
          "She's just come back from the doctor's surgery."
          We'd both been concerned about how much weight Mum had been losing. "How serious?" The words caught in my throat; but it had to be serious.
          Nicky didn't answer me directly. "Can you come?"

Our only consolation was that the cancer had been so advanced Mum hadn't suffered for long.
          That was the one occasion when Bodie and Ray had let us down; they were both away in Wales or Scotland or somewhere running a training course, and couldn't get back for the funeral. We had coped, of course. Nicky as usual seemed to block out any of the pain and concentrated on the practical things like handling all the paperwork.
          But then Nicky had always been like that. If her composure ever cracked, it was in private - I wasn't even certain whether Peter ever got to see the real Nicky.

I let the shower wash away my tears, and finished rinsing the conditioner out of my hair before reaching for the towels. In the bedroom, I dressed in the new ivory underwear I'd chosen for this special day before wrapping myself in the dressing gown.
          Hearing a car door I looked out of the window just in time to see Helen galloping up the path, and I hurried down to let them in.
          No more time for reflections now: I had to get ready for my wedding.

Two hours later Nicky finished buttoning my wedding dress and I turned to look in the mirror. They say your wedding day is the one day you're entitled to look and feel like a princess, and I did. Beside me, Helen looked lovely. Her dress in navy silk contrasted with the ivory of mine; we were both wearing our hair up with similar tiara-style head-dresses.
          Behind me, Nicky fixed my veil and swept it out before giving me a hug. "You look wonderful, both of you."
          Our eyes met in the mirror. This was how Mum had stood with us before Nicky's wedding when I had been her bridesmaid. Nicky moved quickly away, but I could see the pain the memory had caused...

I was running a training course; it was lunchtime before I had the chance to call Nicky, but I hadn't been able to reach her. The feeling nagged at me all afternoon. Whilst tidying up at the end I tried her number again. There was still no reply.
          It was nearly seven before I drew up at Nicky's house. There was no sign of Peter's car; Doyle's stood on the drive, confirming my fears.
          I stepped hesitantly in when Bodie opened the door; not wanting to know what was wrong. He gave me a hug, whispering as he drew me towards the lounge. "It's Peter." I hadn't needed to ask how bad it was; Bodie's face had already told me. "Nicky called us; we were at the hospital with her."
          "Tell me what happened."
          "There was an accident on the motorway this morning; a lorry jack-knifed. Peter's car was crushed and they had to cut him out of the wreckage... He died in surgery."
          In the lounge Helen had flung herself at me sobbing, and I had done my best to console her. I had eventually managed to convince Helen that Uncle Bodie could look after her while I went to talk to her mother. She curled up in Bodie's arms and I made my way upstairs; at the back of my mind questioning why I hadn't been that upset when I lost my father at a similar age.

Ray was with Nicky, as I'd expected. They weren't talking; Nicky was sitting stiffly on the bed slowly turning the pictures of a photo album. She didn't even acknowledge me, and I looked helplessly at Ray.
          He shrugged. We both knew her too well. It would hit her at some point; all we could do was wait, and be there when she needed us.
          "Nicky?" I sat gently on the bed beside her. Still no acknowledgement, still the pages turned. I glanced down at the album. Pictures of her and Peter; I was in some, Bodie and Ray in others. All pictures of Helen growing up.
          Why hadn't there been pictures of us growing up? I dismissed the thought, as Nicky looked up at me. "You didn't need to come. They didn't have to call you."
          "You called me. Don't shut us out, Nicky."
          Abruptly, the album was shut and Nicky scrambled to her feet. "I need a drink."
          We followed her downstairs into the kitchen; neither of us able to penetrate her defensive barrier. Ray looked tired. He might not look his age but I reminded myself that he wasn't getting any younger. Nicky reached for a bottle of brandy and sloshed a large measure into a tumbler; drinking half in one gulp.
          Softly, Ray tried to remonstrate with her. "Nicky, that won't help."
          "It will." She stared at us. "Of course it will..."
          Helen appeared in the doorway. "Mummy?"
          Appearing to respond to her daughter Nicky walked towards her - then straight past her to the lounge, and pausing only while Ray lifted Helen into his arms, we followed.
          She had stopped in front of the fireplace, gripping the mantelpiece and gazing at their wedding picture. "Just leave me alone."
           Nicky was the strong one, the one who always knew what to say. Lost, I appealed silently to the men, and setting Helen down Ray stepped forward, putting a hand gently on her arm. "Come on, Nick. It'll be OK..."
          Spinning wildly, Nicky shoved him away. "Leave me alone!"
          I felt Helen press against me, whimpering. Before Ray could react, Bodie had caught hold of Nicky and grasping her shoulders forced her to face him. "Stop it! You're scaring Helen."
          The moment hung. Nicky gulped a large breath of air as her eyes slid round to her daughter, acknowledging us for just a few seconds before she collapsed against Bodie's chest.

Helen squealed with excitement as the doorbell rang, breaking into my thoughts. It would be the florist; surely it was too early to be Bodie and Ray.
          Nicky had hurried to go and answer it, Helen scampering in her wake.

Ray and I had managed to calm and console Helen, since Bodie seemed to be the only one who could get close to Nicky. In a lot of ways my sister was - and still is - a mystery to me. I didn't understand how Bodie managed it, but somehow he persuaded her to give in and grieve.
          Passing the partly-open lounge door late that night I glanced in. The lights were down low; all I could see was that they were sitting close together on the sofa. I longed to help but knew that Nicky didn't need me; a fact which hurt me even though I knew that my sister rarely needed anyone. I wondered how Ray felt about it. I had always believed Nicky was closer to him than Bodie; yet she wouldn't accept his comfort.
          By the following day, Nicky was back in control; able to comfort her daughter and coming to terms with things.

I still didn't understand Nicky. Five years on everyone else probably thought she was over her loss; somehow I knew she wasn't.

I made my way carefully downstairs; I was used to wearing heels but not long skirts, and I didn't intend to mess up my big day by falling headlong.
          Although I'd been right about the florist it wasn't as early as I thought, and Bodie and Ray had arrived along with the bouquets. My entrance wasn't as grand as it would have been had I known they were there, but it was regal enough to silence both of them.
          Busy hugging Helen, Ray paused and beamed at me, delightedly. Bodie -
          I swear I saw tears in Bodie's eyes; of pride, I assume. He managed to get a few words out. "You look gorgeous, sweetheart."
          Sweetheart. That's what he used to call me when I was little; when he'd been seeing Mum. I wouldn't have minded him as a father.
          He fished in a pocket and held out with a jeweller's box. "Wedding present."
          It was a bracelet; sapphires set in silver, matching perfectly the necklace I was wearing, that Rob had bought me. I knew exactly how much it must have cost, but Bodie had always been generous, and I flung my arms around him. "Thank you. It's beautiful."
          As the doorbell went again, Helen rushed from the room, and we all smiled after her.
          The bracelet sparkled as I lifted it from the box, and Bodie helped me fasten the clasp before I turned to admire it in the large wall mirror. "Something blue. As long as it's not you," he joked.
          "Just a little." I caught Nicky's expression, knowing she'd understand. "I wish Mum and Paul were here, and Dad..."

The angle in the mirror was such that I could see all of them. The start Nicky gave, the tremor of pain that crossed her face; the shadow of horror and alarm - and loathing - I saw in Bodie and Ray.  
          I turned to face them, suddenly conscious that something had changed; that the world seemed to have shifted half a pace to the side, into an area previously unknown.
          Except I had known it was there, all along. I'd just never seen it - never been allowed to see it...?
          "What is it? What haven't you told me?"

Nicky held my attention through the silence that followed. Her expression was showing the one thing I couldn't ever remember seeing before: fear.
          Ray took a step sideways to place an arm protectively around Nicky. Bodie took a step towards me but stopped as I snapped at them again.
          "Well?"
          Helen bounced back into the room - and stopped dead at the sudden atmosphere, looking anxiously between us. "The car's here..."
          Bodie flicked his gaze over Helen, before replying softly to me. "Katie... not now, sweetheart. We have to go, you don't want to be late. Rob will think you've run out on him."
          No, not now. I fixed my gaze on Nicky. "Later, then."

The short journey to the church should have been a cheerful one; I was on my way to get married to the man I loved.
          There was silence in the car. Even if Helen hadn't been with us, I knew Bodie well enough to recognise that I wouldn't get him to tell me anything.
          Whatever it was, it would be Nicky that told me.
          I thrust all the questions and worries aside as I approached the church doors. For Rob, for Helen - and for me - I wouldn't spoil this occasion. This was far too important.

I succeeded in putting it all aside until after the ceremony. The photos outside the church caused the first re-emergence of the tension between us, with the call for the bride's family. I had insisted that Bodie and Ray would be in the pictures, but it wasn't hard to see what all of us were thinking about.
          Bodie and Ray smiled and laughed and hid it well, but for once I could see straight through Nicky.
          We stood close for the photos, but there was a distance between us...

With so many demands on my attention I forced myself to blot out personal thoughts, and had stood and smiled and chatted with everyone. I had never imagined that could be so tiring; by the time we were seated for the reception meal I was ready to drop.
          Bodie was next to me at the table, being particularly charming to Rob's mum on his left side. Helen was sitting between Rob and his dad, and bubbled with excitement all through the meal.
          Nicky was sitting with Ray at the first table along, and I could see the strain on her face. Ray was obviously trying to reassure her, but I caught more than one of the worried glances he sent in my direction.
          We'd had dessert before one of those glances connected with Bodie, and for a second I was party to their silent communication, before I saw Bodie give a slight shrug to his partner.
          Nicky chose that moment to stare straight at me, before muttering something to Ray and standing up.
          He tried - unsuccessfully - to dissuade her, as Nicky disappeared in the direction of the Ladies'. Without even a word to Rob I got up and followed her. Centre of attention or not, I wouldn't be missed for a short while.

Peering into the mirror, Nicky was pretending to touch up her mascara. Checking that all the stalls were empty, I stalked back to stand behind her.
          "So what is it about Dad? What's the big secret?"
          Even then, there was a last ditch attempt to keep me in the dark. "You don't want to know, Katie." She finally turned to face me. "Believe me."
          "But I do. I need to know." I didn't know what to say to convince her, but convince her I must, and all of my vague wonderings from many years collected into a compelling argument. "You can't keep it from me any longer, Nicky. I've always known we weren't a normal family, even when I was small, before Dad was killed. We never did normal things like other families, there aren't any pictures of us as children... I don't have happy memories from before we knew Bodie and Ray."
          I wasn't sure if she was going to speak, but I rushed on, reminding her of the things I already knew, trying to prove that whatever it was I probably knew the worst. "I can remember things about him, Nicky. I know he was a bank robber, and I know how he was killed."
          "Do you remember how he used to hit me and Paul?" Nicky's words were sharp.
          "Yes, I do." I hadn't been blind to it. "But he never hit me, Nicky."
          "No, he didn't."
          If she resented that, Nicky hid it well. I almost expected her to add that I had been lucky - but in one of those blinding revelations, I realised that it hadn't been luck - if Dad had been drunk or angry, Paul or Nicky would get me out of the room. I wondered now, if he hadn't died, would I have eventually received the same treatment?
          So of course Nicky didn't resent it; she'd made sure it never happened. Nicky had been protecting me all my life, she still did it now. But if I knew about that, what could she still be protecting me from?
          "What else was there, Nicky?"
          "He used to hit Mum as well. Remember that time she left home, just before he got killed? She was trying to find us all a place to live, somewhere he wouldn't find us..." Nicky was being evasive; trying to put me off the scent. Something in my expression told her it wasn't going to work, and she suddenly spat out the truth. "Your father was a rapist."
          Appalled by what I was hearing I struggled to find words. "How do you know? Was it something Mum told you?"
          Nicky shook her head, not meeting my eyes, and my mind recoiled from the obvious conclusion; it couldn't be. "You don't mean...?"
          Her voice was low, tightly controlled. "That's exactly what I mean. He abused and raped me... he started when I was seven."
          Sickened and horrified, I reached out to touch the wall to steady myself as I tried to assimilate the sordid facts. Dad had done that to Nicky, for years...? Why hadn't she said anything, done anything about it? How could she let him?
          Glancing at me Nicky read my thoughts. Face crumpling with unhappiness, she tried to get to the door, pulling away as I caught her arm to stop her. "Nicky..." I was trying desperately to understand.
          "You wanted to know. That's it. Let me go."
          "That's it? You can't tell me something like that and expect to leave it there!"
          "Can't I? Why? Did you want all the details?" Succeeding in pulling her arm free Nicky retreated to the washbasins.
          "No! But why - how -" I couldn't ask any of those questions. "Why didn't you tell me?"
          "At the time? When you were a teenager; or starting Uni?"
          "I'm 32, Nicky! You could've told me years ago!"
          "I'd never have told you willingly." She sounded hurt and bitter. "Do you think it's something I want to brag about?"
          "Did Mum know?" Somehow I already knew the answer to that; I had always been closer to Mum than Nicky. "Why did you never tell her?"
          "What was the point? She didn't need to know, Katie, any more than you did. The only person who had a right to the truth was Peter."
          "But Bodie and Ray... you told them."
          "I told Bodie. Ray - guessed..."

It was all too much to take in. Feeling sick, I stood aside as Nicky moved again to the door, but before she reached it Helen burst in.
          "Aunt Katie, they want to do the speeches..." She faltered as she took in my expression, and looked anxiously at her mother.
          There was a moment's silence. "Tell them we'll just be a couple of minutes, Helen."
          Nicky turned to me; suddenly brisk, once again in control. She lifted my chin with her hand, and brushed away the tears that were threatening before they could smudge my mascara.
          "I can't, Nicky. I need to think..."
          "You need to plaster on a smile and get out there. This is your big day, Katie, you can't let anything spoil it - especially not ancient history."
          She thrust me towards the door, hauled it open and pushed me through. I emerged to a round of applause, and I did as Nicky had told me, forcing a smile as I made my way back to the main table.

"I've known Katie for a few years now. I won't tell you exactly how long; not because it would give away her age, but because it would reveal mine." Bodie grinned at his audience, and there was a polite smattering of laughs. Very few of my friends, and none of Rob's family, had met him before.
          "Suffice to say I'm old enough to be her father, and for a long time she's felt like my daughter. So when she asked me if I'd give her away, my first reaction was to resist - after all, no one could possibly be good enough." Beside me, Rob squeezed my hand, and Bodie caught my eye and winked as I glanced up at him. "But no one argues with Katie; she's always had whatever she wanted, and whatever was in my power to give her."
          He raised his glass. "I'd like you all to join me in a toast, to Katie and Rob. Long life and happiness together."
          As everyone settled back to their seats after the toast, Bodie leant towards me; his words low enough so that only I could hear them. "Be happy, sprout."
          I swallowed hard, banishing the wave of emotion it invoked. He hadn't called me that in years and the old nickname jerked me back to the first time he'd used it.
          My head was bursting with thoughts and emotions I was desperate to lose myself in, but I forced myself to concentrate as Rob made a short speech before handing over to his Best Man. Tony's speech was witty and full of anecdote and everything a Best Man's speech ought to be, but I could only be relieved when it was over.

Even then, Rob and I had to circulate and speak to everyone in turn; and it was nearly half hour later when Helen popped up at my side.
          "Have you seen Mum, Aunt Katie?"
          "Not for a while, Helen." I scanned the room, suddenly anxious, and caught Bodie's eye. "Ask Bodie if he knows where she is."
          My attention was claimed by another guest and Helen was back at my side long before I'd finished speaking to him.
          "She's outside with Ray, Bodie said." Helen couldn't hide her concern - she had obviously been aware of the tensions earlier in the day. Since Peter had died Helen had developed a protectiveness towards Nicky which still surprised me, and even knowing her mother was with Ray didn't lessen her apprehension.
          She saw my quick glance towards where Bodie had been. "Bodie's gone to find them." Even that hadn't reassured her - I could see that probably only one thing would, which was if I went to find Nicky.
          I murmured an excuse to Rob's Uncle and Aunt and headed for the exit, which took nearly ten minutes as I was stopped all the way down the hall. Just as I reached the door, Bodie came back in. "She's OK."
          I wanted to believe that; to banish the problem to the back of my mind and enjoy the rest of the day. But I couldn't.

Bodie followed me outside; catching my arm. "Katie..."
          "I have to talk to her, Bodie."
          "Does it have to be now?" He answered his own question. "I suppose it does. What happened - I know it's a shock. This is the worst possible time for you to find out. Not that there would ever be a good time..."
          I waited, wondering if he would tell me any more - wondering, indeed, how much he knew?
          Bodie shrugged, perhaps recognising that he couldn't deflect me from my resolution. "Nicky was just a kid, Katie. She doesn't deserve any condemnation."
          It was a strange choice of words. I blinked and stared at him. "I don't blame her..." I tailed off as I realised that's exactly what I'd been doing earlier; even if only subconsciously. "Why didn't she tell me? I just don't understand."
          Bodie's gaze held mine for a long moment. "Yes you do. If you think about it, you understand perfectly."
          He went back inside, leaving me alone.

It wasn't yet dark, but there was no sign of anyone. I knew where Nicky would be; there was a small rose-lined bower at the end of the garden which we'd used for photographs earlier, and I made my way towards it. Slowly, running things over in my mind.
          Discovering what my father was; what he had done, was a shock. I suppose I'd always known there was something more than just violence in his character; the fact that I didn't mourn him, that my memories of him were of a less than perfect father. Living under the illusion that he wasn't all bad.
          Bodie was right, of course I understood why Nicky hadn't told me. Protecting me as always; shielding me from anything likely to upset me. She'd done it often enough; scaring off the bullies at school, and sorting out the two-timing boyfriend I'd had at 14.
          What I couldn't accept was that she must have needed to talk to someone over the years; I was her sister, I should have been there for her - and I hadn't even known.

It was quiet as I reached the trelliswork doorway, and for a second I wondered if I was wrong, and Nicky and Ray were elsewhere. But my eyes adjusted to the lower light level quickly, and I could see them on the bench where I'd sat so recently with Rob.
          I'd expected them to be talking; maybe discussing what Nicky should tell me, or at least that Ray would be reassuring Nicky. But they were silent; not just the sort of silence that falls when you don't want anyone approaching to overhear you, but the sort that means there's nothing to be said.
          Ray was offering unspoken support, arm resting gently around her shoulders; a comfort that Nicky was barely accepting.
          I needed him to leave us; however much he knew I couldn't talk with Ray there - even if Nicky would - but I didn't need to ask.
          With his usual tact, Ray stood up. "I'll be outside." He gave my arm a brief squeeze as he passed, coupled with a look entreating me not to hurt Nicky. As if I would.
          Nicky hadn't moved. "So what else do you want?"
          "I just don't understand why you never told me."
          "You didn't need to know."
          "Nicky..." I could only imagine what she'd gone through, how she felt. I didn't believe it could remain buried and not damage her in some way; when I thought about it some of those wounds were obvious - the lack of close boyfriends before Peter, and none since he died. I wondered that I'd never seen before how she kept most men at a distance. "Maybe you needed me to know. I could've helped, Nicky; been there when you needed to talk..."
          "I've never talked about it." She pre-empted my protest, pain clear in her voice. "What would be the point? Talking about how much he'd hurt me, dragging up that hurt again and again? Better just to forget."
          "I don't see how you can."
          Nicky met my gaze fully for the first time. "Because it's easier to forget than remember. Easier to blank it out and pretend it never happened."
          I couldn't believe that; it was impossible that anyone should bear that burden without someone to share it. "But surely you've talked to Ray, and Bodie...?"
          "Not even to Peter!" Nicky sprang to her feet, exasperated. "I've never discussed it, never wanted to discuss it."
          "But you told them! Why them, and not me?"
          "I told you; Ray guessed."
          "You told Bodie." And suddenly, I knew when. "You told Bodie on my ninth birthday. Why was that? Why that day?"
          I saw the flash of shock my perceptiveness caused, and the swift suppression of something - an unpleasant memory? She sank back onto the bench. "Bodie asked me - something about whether you missed Dad. He saw my reaction, pressed me for details..."
          I nodded as if I understood, but I didn't. It sounded plausible but that didn't add up, considering how well I knew both of them. Nicky was lying, and she could see I knew.
          I let it go. Maybe later I'd get to the bottom of that, at the moment it wasn't important.
          Right now I needed to go back inside, before Rob came looking for me. "Come back into the hall. It's my wedding day, and they'll be starting the dancing soon. Come back in with me."

Ray and Bodie were waiting near the door for us; silent, both holding a drink. They'd been partners for 25 years or more and had no need of verbal communication; I'd learnt that early on. I'd often wondered why neither of them had married - I'd even suspected (a long time ago in my teens with newly-acquired but imperfect knowledge) that they might be gay, but Nicky had disabused me of that notion pretty quickly, and they were certainly never short of girlfriends, even now. I supposed they'd just never met the right person; after all, it had taken me until I was 30 to find Rob.
          We were both subjected to a swift scrutiny. Still without a word being spoken between them I saw them relax as they took in Nicky's composure; the crisis had for the moment been averted.
          None of us believed it was over; when I'd had more chance to think I'd want to talk to Nicky again, she knew that and I knew Bodie and Ray wouldn't think otherwise. But for now, we had something to celebrate.

The disco was set up, Rob just waiting for me to reappear so that we could have our first dance.
          "Did you sort things out with Nicky?" He laughed at my startled face as he took my hand to lead me into the cleared area. "I could see there was something wrong earlier."
          Rob knew me - us - better than I thought. "Yes, everything's fine."
          "Good. Don't want anything distracting you." Catching me into a tight embrace, we swayed gently into our favourite record, accepting with smiles the cheers and applause from friends and relatives.
          Towards the end of the track, other couples began to take part; I saw Bodie being tugged onto the floor by Helen, and Ray more gently persuading Nicky to join in.
          "You know what I've always wondered? Why Nicky hasn't married one of them." Rob's casual statement startled me again. "I suppose there's quite an age gap, but they seem close."
          "Yes... they are. But there's a lot..." you don't know. I didn't finish my sentence. Up until this morning, there'd been a lot I didn't know.
          I'd always intended to share everything with Rob; I believed that couples shouldn't keep anything from each other. Suddenly, I knew I'd never tell him what I had just learnt. It wasn't my secret, and he didn't need to know.
          The DJ changed the CD for another record, and before we'd got more than a few lines into it, Bodie was tapping Rob on the shoulder. "Can I cut in?" With a grin Rob surrendered my hand and took Helen's, while Bodie danced me away.
          "Everything OK, sprout?" The light wasn't particularly good, but I could see it was more than a general enquiry; almost as if Bodie feared he'd upset me.
          "I'm fine. Everything's fine." I glanced across the floor to Ray and Nicky. "We'll have to talk. But things will be OK."
          "Good." Bodie tightened his arm around me, and flamboyantly swung us around, making me giggle before stopping suddenly beside my sister and Ray. "Time to swap, sunshine."
          He just as abruptly seized Nicky's hand and swung her away, and with a grin and shrug Ray slid an arm around my waist to resume the half-waltz he'd been engaged in. "He's always snatching ladies away from me."
          It was a light-hearted comment, but I was hearing everything with new clarity today, and I followed Ray's gaze across to where Bodie was holding Nicky closely.
          "Ray..." Rob's question had surprised me; not least because I had never imagined Nicky wanting to marry either Ray or Bodie - I had always assumed she saw them as I did, in the guise of uncles. "Did you and Nicky - didn't you ever -"
          He was shaking his head, having guessed where I was going. "Leave it, Katie. Nicky needs me, but not like that." Ray resumed his observation, smiling. "If Nicky needed anyone, it would be Bodie. They think I don't know how close they are."
          Anyone could see that. Although - most people would only see as far as Rob had; that Nicky was close to both of them. It was only now could I see why...

The DJ had obviously decided to liven things up a bit, and the opening bars to the next track were horribly familiar. Helen - and several other youngsters - had immediately rushed to the centre of the floor, and I saw Bodie pulling Nicky to join them. Ray tightened his grip on my hand, grinning.
          "You're not getting out of this one. Helen arranged it especially."
          I groaned, recalling the June day a couple of years back when Helen had insisted on teaching us all the dance routine to 'Reach' - she surely didn't expect me to remember all the steps now?
          As the first chorus began, I could see that Ray and Bodie had obviously had a refresher - that wasn't fair! - but delighted to find that Rob had been receiving tuition as well and was by my side.
          It was surprising how easily it came back to me, and I reached for the stars and climbed the mountains with everyone else, singing as loudly and tunefully as I could manage.

Part way through, I caught Nicky's eye. It might just be a fluffy pop tune, but the words were pretty apt. We had Ray and Bodie, and we were there for each other.


Carol Good - January 2003


* * * * *

Lyrics reproduced without permission but with no intent to defraud

Reach

S Club 7

When the world, leaves you feeling blue
You can count on me, I will be there for you
When it seems, all your hopes and dreams
Are a million miles away, I will reassure you

We've got to all stick together
Good friends, there for each other
Never ever forget that
I've got you and you've got me, so

Reach for the stars
Climb every mountain higher
Reach for the stars
Follow your heart's desire
Reach for the stars
And when that rainbow's shining over you
That's when your dreams will all come true

There's a place, waiting just for you
It's a special place where your dreams all come true
Fly away, swim the ocean sea
Drive that open road, leave the past behind you
Don't stop gotta keep moving
Your hopes have gotta keep building
Never ever forget that
I've got you and you've got me, so

Reach for the stars
Climb every mountain higher
Reach for the stars
Follow your heart's desire
Reach for the stars
And when that rainbow's shining over you
That's when your dreams will all come true

Don't believe in all that you've been told
The sky's the limit you can reach your goal
No-one knows just what the future holds
There ain't nothing you can't be
There's a whole world at your feet
I said reach

Climb every mountain (reach)
Reach for the moon (reach)
Follow that rainbow
And your dreams will all come true

Reach for the stars
Climb every mountain higher
Reach for the stars
Follow your heart's desire
Reach for the stars
And when that rainbow's shining over you
That's when your dreams will all come true
Reach for the stars
Climb every mountain higher
Reach for the stars
Follow your heart's desire
Reach for the stars
And when that rainbow's shining over you
That's when your dreams will all come true
Reach for the stars
Climb every mountain higher