DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Around the Clock
10:00 / wristwatch "I'm off."
Time's a funny old thing. People are always moaning about how there's never enough of it, or that it's flying. Strange, then, how a minute can feel like an hour. An hour like an entire lifetime.
Ash looked up from the document she was reading. The collar of Scribbs' coat was tucked inside and she was trying very hard to get it out. Ash smiled and looked at her watch, it had been playing up.
"Where're you going?"
"You know, follow up on whatshisface," Scribbs said, finally managing to sort her coat.
"Oh yeah, you want me to come with you?" Ash offered.
Scribbs looked at the pile of paperwork on Ash's desk and raised an eyebrow.
"Nah, wouldn't want to deprive you of your fun. This shouldn't take long anyway. I'll be back in time for lunch. You can treat me if you like," she winked.
11:00 / punctual
Ash pursed her lips, pretending to think hard.
"I could maybe stretch to a plate of chips in the canteen. Can of Diet Coke, if you're lucky."
"Oooooh, you really know how to show a girl a good time."
"Well, if you're turning your nose up "
"As if I'd say no to chips. I'll be there with bells on." Scribbs said, rummaging through her desk drawer, looking for something.
"You better be back in time. Otherwise I might just give your chips away to the nearest handsome stranger."
"In the canteen? You'll have your work cut out for you." Scribbs said, grinning as she managed to locate her warrant card. She trailed a hand over Ash's shoulder as she passed her.
"I'll be there. Wait for me."
"Be careful." Ash called after her.
"As always," came the reply.
Ash shook her head, a small smile gracing her lips.
12:00 / lunchtime
Her stomach rumbled, causing her to look at the clock. It was almost one. The canteen would stop serving soon. Scribbs very rarely missed a meal. She picked up her mobile and scrolled to Scribbs' number but decided against pressing the call button. She'd only been gone a short while. She'd be back soon enough.
Just as she was considering going to eat on her own, the door opened and she looked up, expecting to hear Scribbs complaining about how long the guy had taken to tell her absolutely nothing. Instead, she saw Sullivan. The expression on his face made Ash feel cold inside.
She stood and approached him, crossing her arms over her stomach.
"What is it? What's happened?"
"There's a a situation has developed at well it's "
He was normally only this hesitant over his words when Scribbs was flirting with him. She cut him off.
"Boss, what is it?"
13:00 / instantaneous
He closed his eyes and blew out a breath.
"It's Scribbs, she's caught up in a hostage situation at the home of James Fisher, as far as I know she's unhurt but she's being detained and assessing the circumstances now."
Ash sat down heavily, not hearing any of the words after 'hostage situation'. A rushing thundered in her ears. She covered her mouth with her hand.
"I'm going to be sick."
Her stomach heaved. Sullivan was immediately on his knees beside her, shoving a wastepaper basket between her feet and rubbing her back. Nothing came up. She shook her head, trying to clear the fuzziness.
"I've got to get there."
He sighed, he'd been expecting that.
"Are you sure, Ash? Maybe it'd be better if "
"If I what? Stay here and wait by the phone? I'd literally go mad with worry here. I need to be there."
14:00 / season
"I should have gone with her."
Sullivan looked over at her. Those were the first words she'd spoken since they started their, seemingly interminable, car journey.
"It was a routine enquiry, Ash. You had no reason to go with her."
"But if I'd "
"If you'd gone, then he would've had two hostages. And with two hostages, one is expendable."
She closed her eyes.
"Kate, she'll be OK. We'll get her out."
She kept her eyes closed and nodded, trying to believe him.
"You do know that you can't get involved in the negotiation."
She looked over at him sharply, about to protest. It died on her lips because she knew he was right. There was no room for emotion in these situations. And her emotions were all over the place. She'd be of no use to Scribbs whatsoever.
She turned back to the window. The leaves were starting to fall.
15:00 / unpredictable
The street had been cordoned off and the incident unit set up. Ash got out of the car and surveyed the scene. It was a quiet, sheltered street, nothing out of the ordinary. Which is exactly what she'd thought the first time they'd come here to interview the father of a murdered woman. Well, a girl really, twenty-one years old. She'd been horribly brutalised and then killed. They hadn't caught the murderer.
On one hand, Ash was relieved that he wasn't a suspect; that Scribbs wasn't at the mercy of a psychotic killer. However, she had seen what grief could do to perfectly rational people, and that terrified her. She followed Sullivan to the makeshift incident room, set up in the back of a van.
"DCI Sullivan. So what's happening?"
The team leader approached Sullivan.
"Sullivan. Taylor. Awful situation. Sorry."
They shook hands, Ash couldn't help feeling like chopped liver.
16:00 / evolution
"OK, what we know so far is that she turned up to interview him around eleven this morning "
Ash interrupted him.
"By the time she got here it would've been near enough half past eleven."
Sullivan put a hand on her arm.
"This is DS Scribbins' partner, DI Ashurst."
DCI Taylor's eyes flicked to Ash for the first time, his expression now one of sympathy.
"I know how difficult this must be for you "
"Do you?" Ash's words were clipped.
Sullivan squeezed her arm and nodded for him to continue.
"Neighbours reported hearing a disturbance around quarter to twelve. Mrs Giles next door looked in the window after hearing a woman scream and saw Fisher and DS Scribbins he had something around her neck, we've since established that it's a belt of some description "
Ash felt a sob well deep in her chest, her throat tightening to the point of pain.
17:00 / finite
She stood outside the van staring at the house. There had been no sign of Scribbs since they'd arrived. There seemed to be a lot of talking and not a lot of action. They were still waiting on phone contact being made. Nothing.
She didn't often contemplate death, perhaps it would've been different if she was working vice in New York City. But in Middleford, police work was relatively safe. They had the odd run in with the occasional nutter, but nothing all that serious. So hearing that Scribbs was in the position of having something around her neck with the capability of cutting off her oxygen supply was somewhat foreign and incomprehensible. All that man had to do was squeeze and Scribbs could very well die.
She forced herself to think the words, to make herself believe it.
Believing it was one thing, dealing with it was another altogether.
18:00 / afterlife
She wasn't really sure what she believed any more. Growing up she'd attended Sunday School and Bible Classes as was expected of her. She knew the theory but she'd fallen behind on the practice. But right at that moment she'd have sold her soul to any deity willing to guarantee Scribbs safe passage out of that house. An eternity of fire and brimstone seemed a small price to pay.
"How you holding up?"
She looked up to see Sullivan approaching. She tried to think of the 'proper' way to answer. Stiff upper lip and all that. But nothing would come but the truth.
"I'm not, boss."
He came to stand beside her and leaned back against the van, looking up at the sky. He dropped an arm around her shoulders and she leaned into him, glad of the warmth, and the comfort.
"So, how long have you two been together?"
19:00 / outdated
She flinched at the unexpected question but he kept his arm around her.
"How long have you known?"
"We've been together a while."
"Since the murder at the old folks' home?"
"Since about then, yeah."
He laughed at her incredulous expression.
"I'm not stupid, Ash, and I have eyes. I know you think I'm behind the times but I know what's going on more than you think."
The door of the van opened and DCI Taylor's head poked out.
"We've made contact. DS Scribbins is on the line now, she wants to speak to you."
Her heart started beating faster, her stomach churning in fear and relief. She looked up at Sullivan. He squeezed her shoulder.
"Go on. Tell her I'm buying the first round when we get to the pub later tonight."
She smiled slightly.
"Steady on, boss, we don't want her to die of shock."
20:00 / twilight
The lights inside the van seemed overly garish after the gentle, half-light outside. The negotiator held out the hand-set and she grasped it tightly, bringing it to her ear.
"Sorry I didn't make lunch."
The sound of her voice brought on an unexpected sob of relief and Ash covered her mouth, squeezing her eyes shut against hot tears. She couldn't make her voice work to reply.
"Didn't find a handsome stranger, I hope?"
Ash took a shuddering breath and forced herself to smile.
"Nah, I had a look but it was slim pickings. Looks like you'll just have to make it up to me with dinner."
Silence drifted over the line until Scribbs spoke again.
"Get me out of here, eh?"
The fear in her voice was almost the undoing of Ash. She held it together enough to whisper.
"I will, I promise."
The line went dead.
21:00 / mourned
She stood staring at the phone in her hand, immediately missing the tenuous link to Scribbs.
Sullivan came and took the phone from her and guided her out of the van and into the fresh air. She took deep, gulping breaths as he rubbed her back. She pulled away abruptly and rounded on him.
"What the hell is happening here? What are all these people doing? Can't be much. Why aren't they doing something useful, like getting her out of there?"
"Ash, I know this is difficult "
"Oh yes, everyone knows how difficult it is, everyone knows how I must be feeling. Bollocks. Don't tell me you know how I feel, just bloody get her out!"
As quickly as it came, her anger died and she slumped against his chest, hugging herself and crying.
"Ssssssssh. It's OK."
"I promised her I'd get her out."
"I know. And we will."
22:00 / heartbeat
He didn't reply. She glanced up and saw him staring at the house. She turned around and felt the breath leave her lungs. Scribbs had just walked out of the front door and was heading up the path.
Her body was made of lead, her feet encased in treacle. The world had ceased to exist except for the steady thumping in her ears.
Perfectly in time with Scribbs's footsteps as she approached.
The world came back with a whoosh as people swooped in, police edging up to the house, paramedics herding Scribbs towards a waiting ambulance.
Panic awakened her body as she moved through the swarms of people, trying to get to Scribbs before she was whisked away.
"I'm fine! I don't need examined. Can you let me go? Oi, that's cold!"
Ash shoved her way towards the protests and finally made it into a clearing.
23:00 / endless
Scribbs turned towards her, their eyes meeting for the first time. Without a word, they came together in a fierce embrace, grasping at each other desperately. Ash pulled Scribbs tight against her body, a hand going to cradle the back of her head. Scribbs had her nose pressed into Ash's neck, tears cooling quickly in the night air.
Ash tried to pull away slightly to look at Scribbs' face but Scribbs' grip stopped her.
"Just just hold on to me for a bit, OK?"
The muffled request made her smile, even though tears were still streaming down her cheeks. She turned her face into Scribbs' hair and placed a kiss on her temple.
"I'd hold onto you forever if you asked me to."
Scribbs lifted her head, an eyebrow quirked.
"Jesus, there's nothing like being held hostage to add a touch of the 'Mills and Boon' to a relationship, is there?"
00:00 / beginning
She smiled affectionately as she watched Sullivan lift Scribbs off her feet in a bear-hug. There was a time, it seemed like an eternity ago, when that action would've sent her into a state of panic. When she and Scribbs had first gotten together, Ash was constantly waiting for something to go wrong. For Scribbs to take off after the first handsome man who flashed her a smile. But weeks passed, then months, and plenty of handsome men came and went. And Scribbs showed no interest in any of them. And at some point, she wasn't sure exactly when it happened, Ash stopped worrying.
Sullivan released Scribbs from his hold but kept an arm around her shoulders.
Scribbs shot a glance at Ash, who picked up its meaning.
"It's a bit late, boss."
He checked his watch and raised his eyebrows.
"You're right, but next time, I'm buying."
01:00 / prehistoric
They walked to the car hand in hand, having been thoroughly warned not to show up at the station the following day.
Out of habit, Scribbs went to the drivers' side but Ash laid a hand on her back.
Scribbs turned with a smile and was about to make a smart-arse remark when her face fell. Ash turned to see what she was looking at.
James Fisher was being led out in handcuffs. A uniformed police officer on either side of him. Scribbs started to move towards them but Ash held her back.
"But he "
"You've given your statement, let them do the rest."
"He didn't hurt me."
Ash gently ran a finger over the reddened skin on Scribbs' neck.
"Yes he did."
"He just he misses his daughter, that's all. I felt sorry for him."
"He made a choice, you can't change that now, it's done."
02:00 / anniversary
Ash turned the car into Scribbs' driveway and switched off the engine.
"You know, I had a lot of time to think today."
Ash turned to look at Scribbs.
"What did you think about?"
"Well, once I was past the stage of having to concentrate on not wetting my knickers with fear, I started to think about us."
"I do love that you mentioned us in the same sentence as urination."
"And I was thinking that it's coming up a year we've been together."
"And you sleep at my house a lot."
"Only because you complain that my flat smells of disinfectant and refuse stay there."
"My point is why don't you just stay here all the time?"
"What, move in?"
Normally this question would require serious consideration, cause a few sleepless nights and the production of pros and cons lists. But for once, she knew her answer.
03:00 / generational
Ash set two cups of tea on the table and sat down, Scribbs immediately cuddled into her side. Scribbs spoke first.
"So, you going to tell your mum that you're moving in with me?"
"I'll have to. I wouldn't want her sending my Christmas card to the wrong address."
"How d'you reckon she'll take it."
"Same way she takes everything. Badly."
"Remember when you introduced me to her?"
"I actually thought she was going to faint. You should really have told her that I wasn't a bloke."
"That would've been less entertaining. Anyway, your mum'll be pleased, she's been dropping hints for ages."
"Yeah, I think she was worried you'd come to your senses and leave me. She'll be glad that we're sharing property now, it's more permanent."
"I don't think there's a chance of me coming to my senses any time soon."
"I'm very glad to hear it."
04:00 / insomnia
They both lay awake, facing one another. Scribbs sighed.
"I don't know why we bothered to come to bed. I can't see me getting any sleep tonight."
"You should try, you've had a big day."
Scribbs moved closer, curling an arm around Ash's waist and placing a kiss on her lips.
"We could do something else."
Scribbs continued to kiss Ash's face, moving down onto her neck.
"Something in particular?"
Scribbs moved so that she was partially lying on top of Ash.
"I did have something in mind."
"Not I-Spy again."
"Damn, how'd you guess?"
Ash rolled them over so that she was on top. She put a finger on her chin and looked around the room in an exaggerated fashion.
"I spy with my little eye, something beginning with "
Ash gasped as Scribbs' hand found its way under her waistband.
"Right, shag first, I-Spy later."
05:00 / contemporary
Ash smiled as Scribbs' body went boneless beneath her. She rolled over so that they were lying side by side, tracing a line up and down Scribbs' abdomen until she'd recovered the ability to speak.
"God, I needed that."
Ash rolled her eyes.
"We've got to work on your pillow talk, sweetheart."
"Oh come on, usually I'm not bad."
"Well, you usually say more than 'I needed that', yes."
"I think it was to do with my near-death experience."
"Well, I'm sure I heard somewhere that you get randy after you nearly die. Something about spreading your genes, making sure you're still around in the future."
"I hate to tell you, but I'm almost positive that what we just did won't result in the propogation of the species."
"No, but the instinct's the same, isn't it?"
"I suppose so." Ash whispered, but Scribbs' eyes were already drifting closed.
06:00 / dawn
Unable to find sleep, she moved downstairs to allow Scribbs some rest. She stood at the living-room window cradling a cup of tea. The sun was rising over suburbia, just like it had the day before, and is it would do the day after. But something was different. She felt like she'd been given a sign, or a second chance, or a rude awakening. Something.
She'd spent her entire life scared of making a wrong choice, people thinking badly of her. But if the last day had taught her anything, it's that life is fragile. And that happiness should be grabbed and held tightly. And that is exactly what she intended to do. Starting immediately.
Well, as soon as Scribbs emerged from the depths of slumber at the very least. She busied herself by wiping down the kitchen surfaces and cleaning out the fridge. Not a task for the faint-hearted.
07:00 / awakened
She was just finishing scraping a disturbingly coloured fungus from one of the fridge shelves when a voice behind her caused her to jump.
"I love coming down to the sight of a nice arse sticking out of my fridge in the morning."
Ash turned to see Scribbs smirking at her. Her recently cut hair was sticking up adorably and she was wearing a pair of flannelette pyjamas with pink hippos on them. Ash couldn't help but smile in return.
"Is that all I am to you? A nice arse?"
Scribbs moved in and wrapped her arms around Ash's waist, kissing her softly.
"Of course not. You're much, much more than that. You've got great legs, fabulous boobs and gravity defying hair. Oh, and that thing you do with your nose, the scrunchy thing, I like that too."
Ash pinched her.
"But I love you for your mind, of course."
08:00 / heyday
Ash quirked an eyebrow but decided to let it slide. She tightened her arms around Scribbs and tilted her head to the side.
"I've been thinking."
Scribbs expression changed immediately from cheeky to worried.
"Thinking? About what? You're not planning to redecorate the place, are you?"
Ash shook her head. She leaned in and kissed Scribbs' nose, before moving down and capturing her lips in a languid kiss. Scribbs didn't look reassured when the kiss ended.
"OK, now I'm really worried, what's this thinking been about?"
"I was thinking that this really is the time of our life."
"What? That thing on the telly with Michael Aspel?"
"That's 'This is your life'. No, I mean we should be enjoying this time while we can."
"Before we're old and decrepit, you mean?"
"Possibly. But I, for one, plan to have an active and fulfilling sex life when I'm old."
09:00 / planned
"Planning to be grey and gay, are you?"
"Well, you did promise me that we'd grow old together."
Scribbs sighed happily, smiling at Ash. Ash was confused.
Scribbs shook her head, still smiling.
"It's just all this, it's amazing. You're amazing. I love you."
"I love you too."
"So, now that we've got a whole day of unplanned leave, what do you fancy doing?" Ash asked, toying with Scribbs' hair.
"Let's do something a bit mad."
"First you tell me what 'a bit mad' means to you, before I suggest sky-diving and you pass out."
"Well, sky-diving's slightly extreme. Could we possibly start smaller?"
She cupped Scribbs' cheek and ran her thumb along her jaw. Scribbs smiled that smile of hers that could melt the polar ice-caps and suddenly Ash couldn't remember feeling more positive about the future.
Return to Murder in Suburbia Fiction
Return to Main Page