DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
CHALLENGE: Written for the first International Day of Femslash.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Ann for beta'ing this for me.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
Ash looked at herself in the mirror and tried to harden her resolve. She'd thought about this, long and hard, and her conclusion had been inescapable; she had to break things off with Scribbs, it was the only logical course of action. Admittedly, she'd miss the sex, which had been surprisingly good and imaginative, but she'd been without sex before, and even though it might be hard, she knew she could do it. Of course, there would be tension, at first, but she was sure they could quickly rebuild their professional relationship and become an even more affective crime fighting team than before.
The image in the mirror frowned as Ash imagined herself dressed as Batman and fighting crime. "This is ridiculous," she told herself, once more straightening her immaculate attire.
She had gone over her reasons for ending the relationship countless times in her mind and no matter how she'd tried to sway the results - which she'd done far more than she was comfortable admitting, even to herself - it always came out the same. If she and Scribbs stayed together, their relationship was bound to come to light, and when that happened, they'd both be assigned new partners and the crime figures in Middleford would go through the roof. Ash had her fair share of ego, but she knew that the main reason their clear up rate was so high was because she and Scribbs worked so well together, intuitively understanding where the other was going and running with the idea until the culprit was captured and the suburbs were once again safe.
Her frown returned.
The dissolution of the most fulfilling and important relationship in her life would, Ash knew, have its consequences, but she had to keep reminding herself that she was a police officer first and a woman in love second. What did it matter if she ended up alone, with a thousand cats and no friends to speak of, so long as she fulfilled her duties as a police officer?
Her frown deepened alarmingly, but she quickly banished the thought.
She would make it as painless as possible. A quick, straightforward declaration of intent, followed by a collection of her property from Scribbs' flat and a solitary and, no doubt, tear-filled drive home. She could do it. She could set them both free and ensure that their careers were safe.
Bile rose in the back of Ash's throat, but she refused to show that kind of weakness. She was doing what was right. She was. She knew it was for the best for both herself and Scribbs.
Closing the bathroom door firmly behind her, Ash went in search of the other heart she was about to break. Scribbs was lounging - she really would need to repeat her rules on posture - in front of the television, idly flicking from one channel to another as she munched on Pringles and deposited crumbs all over the floor - that was another lecture that obviously needed repeating - not that Ash would be in any position to give lectures, she realised, at least until the mourning period was over and they could resume their previous friendship.
"Scribbs," Ash's voice came out far deeper than normal, and she was forced to clear her throat before trying again. "Scribbs?"
"We need to talk." It was the worst opening line imaginable, but Ash couldn't think of anything more suitable. "I think that... You see, I've thought about this and thought about it, and I think... That is, I feel we should..." She would have screamed if she wasn't convinced the neighbours would call 999, and they'd end up the laughingstock of the station. "Break up."
Half a Pringle fell from Scribbs' mouth to land, forgotten, on the carpet. "No," said the blonde, before turning back to the television and studiously avoiding her lover's eyes.
"Scribbs, I've made a decision."
"No," Scribbs repeated. "N. O."
"You can't say 'no'."
"Yes, I can." Scribbs switched off the television and turned her full attention on Ash. "No, see, I can say it just fine. We are not breaking up and that's final."
In all Ash's hours of preparation and soul searching she had never once considered this possibility; what do you do when the person you're breaking up with doesn't want your relationship broken? "If we're discovered, it would mean..."
"Someone wins the pool, and Sullivan can give us the engagement party I know he's been planning." Scribbs was rather looking forward to the day the word got out and she could stop pretending she didn't want to rip Ash's clothes off and do naughty things to her in the stationary cupboard. "If anyone tries to mess with your career, they'll have the equal opportunities lot after them, not to mention the DCI and half the station, and if you're worried about being partnered with someone else, don't. If it happens, and that's still an if, I'll talk them through it and make sure they're up to speed lickety-split."
"Do you really think Sullivan is planning to throw us an engagement party?" Ash asked, momentarily derailed from her purpose.
Her frown returned. "It's not just work," she said, even though it mostly was. "Your mother hates me."
"No she doesn't."
"She made me sleep in the garage when we stayed over on Boxing Day."
"They'd had it converted into a bedroom," Scribbs shrugged. "Sort of."
"Sort of? I couldn't get the smell of oil out of my clothes for weeks."
"Besides, your mother loves me, and she'd be devastated if things went south." That was true; Mrs Ashurst had thrown away a lifetime of conservative ideals to welcome Scribbs into her home like a long-lost daughter, and Ash knew she'd never hear the end of it when she told her that they'd broken up. "See," Scribbs said smugly. "We're much better off staying together."
Ash had been so clearheaded and resolute when she was in the bathroom, but two minutes in Scribbs' company and she was reduced to a confused mess. She turned around and headed back into the cool serenity of the bathroom, slumping down on the closed toilet seat and resting her head in her hands in defeat.
Fifty-eight seconds later, a tap sounded at the door, and it eased open just wide enough for Scribbs to squeeze through. She took up position perched on the edge of the bath. "Do you really want to end things?" she asked.
"It's for the best," Ash mumbled, although she was no longer sure if that was true.
The defeat in Ash's voice was Scribbs' undoing. "Don't you love me anymore?"
Ash looked up, confusion clearly written on her face. "Of course I love you, you idiot, what on Earth made you think that?"
In the fifteen months they'd been dating and the three years before that they'd been friends, Scribbs could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times she'd wanted to kill Ash, but this time put all those others to shame. "What do you mean, 'what on Earth made you think that'? You trying to break up with me, what else?" They were in the bathroom, she thought, she could easily drown Ash in the tub and be on the first jet plane out of there in the morning.
"But I never said that I'd stopped loving you."
"It was implied."
"Strongly," Scribbs argued. "And, do you know what? You're right, maybe we should break up." She got up, left the bathroom, and slammed the door in Ash's face.
Her life had turned into a French farce, Ash realised, but she quickly followed Scribbs into the living room to begin round three of their argument. "Then you agree that it would be best for our careers and the crime rate if we broke up?" she asked.
Scribbs purposefully stomped the lounging Pringle into the carpet. "No, I think it will be the worst thing imaginable for our careers and the crime rate in Middleford if we break up, but right at this minute, I don't want anything more to do with you." She wished she'd saved the crisp stomp for the end of her tirade, but she had to make do with a frown. "I think you should leave."
Scribbs carefully weighed the chances of her being able to drag Ash kicking and screaming out the door without being arrested for assault and promptly gave up that idea. "Fine, if you're not going to leave, I will."
"Just watch me."
"Scribbs! Emma!" Scribbs paused momentarily in her hunt for her keys. "You're wearing your pyjamas." They were very cute pyjamas, of which Ash was exceedingly fond, but she doubted the rest of Middleford would appreciate one of its law enforcement officers prowling the streets in baggy shorts and a T-shirt that read 'Kiss me, I'm a deviant'.
Scribbs looked down at the nightwear in question and promptly gave up her search for her keys.
"I'm sorry," Ash apologised, quickly grabbing the only opportunity available to her before Scribbs realised she had a whole closet-full of clothes waiting for her in the next room. "I never meant to imply that I didn't love you." She took a tentative step closer. "It's because I love you that I wanted to break up." She held up a hand to forestall Scribbs' comment. "I know you might not understand, but I can't face the idea that one day you'll look back on your ruined career and blame me." Her voice lost all its force, and Scribbs had to lean forward to hear her last words, "I couldn't handle it if you ever regretted loving me."
"Okay, first," said Scribbs. "You're an idiot. Secondly, you're a stupid, dumb idiot."
"Don't even think about finishing that sentence," she warned. "Thirdly, if it comes to a choice between the woman I love and my sodding career, I'd pick you every single time, and I wouldn't even have to think about it." Scribbs' voice took on an edge of uncertainty. "I know your career is very important to you, and you probably don't feel the same way, but I would..."
"What do you mean? Of course I'd put you above my career." Ash sounded hurt, even though nearly every word out of her mouth after she'd left the bathroom the first time could have easily supported Scribbs' hypothesis.
"Okay." Scribbs nodded, somewhat confused about the entire conversation and exactly where it left them. "So, I love you, you love me, and we'd neither of us put our jobs first... Good. So does that mean we're staying together?"
"Yes." Ash made a mental note never to spend more than twenty seconds in the bathroom thinking, it obviously deranged her mind. "We're staying together, we're informing Sullivan, and we're letting him throw us an engagement party." Her smile quirked. "Does that mean we're entering into a civil partnership?"
"Getting married, yes." Scribbs had never considered herself the marrying kind, but after talking with Ash's mum a few months before, she'd realised that she wanted to plight her troth, or whatever the civil partnership equivalent was to Ash, as witnessed by all their friends and family. It was dead corny, and she'd never put it in such words to any of her drinking pals, but that was the truth of the matter. "If you want to," she added.
"Shouldn't one of us have got down on one knee?" Ash asked.
"No, we do things on an equal footing." Scribbs smiled. "But if you want Champagne and a posh dinner somewhere so you'll have a better story to tell your folks, I'm okay with that."
Ash thought back to their first time together, when they'd slipped from talking about some God-awful film on Channel 4 to kissing and removing each others' clothes without so much as a polite segue to discuss their feelings, and she knew that conventional romance just wasn't for them. "No, I think this story is more us."
"So, we're getting married?"
"We're getting married."
Scribbs quickly closed the distance between them and deposited the sweetest of kisses on her fiancée's lips; she'd get the vacuum cleaner out later to tackle the embedded Pringle, but for now, she was too busy sweeping her lady off her feet to worry about the lecture she'd receive come morning.
Return to Murder in Suburbia Fiction
Return to Main Page