DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Close Surveillance
By Nico


Chapter 1

DI Kate Ashurst sat and glowered quietly as she watched her partner DS Emma Scribbins wrestle with a road map. Why did the woman make everything look so untidy and difficult? The way Scribbs scrunched the edges up and twisted and turned the map was making Ash go crazy. She fidgeted in the passenger seat and wrung her hands impatiently.

"ASH!" Scribbs stopped fiddling with the map and sighed heavily, "don't do that."

"Don't do what?" Ash turned to her looking innocent.

"Sitting there all annoyed and thinking up new rules in your head. Anybody else would just spit it out," she screwed her face up and looked sullenly back at her partner.

"You know my rules about Navigating Scribbs." She nodded her head as if that explained everything perfectly.

Tempers were frayed, and had been ever since they were notified at an ungodly hour of the morning that they were required to follow a suspect to his holiday home in Devon and were to keep him under close surveillance until further notice - DCI Sullivan hadn't given them much more information than that up until an hour previously when he'd called and told them that they were to see if they could gather any evidence against a Mr. Jim Ingles, aged 42 who was suspected of murdering his wife, after taking out a large insurance policy on her, who as yet still hadn't turned up since he'd reported her missing three weeks ago - And here Ash was, stuck in a lay by with Scribbs and the offending map.

"Do they come after the stopping off for a pork pie and coffee rules?" she said this almost hopefully, she was starving and her tongue felt like sandpaper.

Ash took a deep breath and began to count the rules off on her fingers, "one, we follow all speed limits. Two, we pull over safely if we're having directional difficulties and three, we are courteous to other road users."

Scribbs pulled another face, she knew there was more to come.

Ash carried on, "But we do not, absolutely do not barrel up the motorway at 85 miles an hour whilst simultaneously trying to read a map, give obscene gestures to other drivers and feed our faces with half a mars bar we found in the glove box…."

"I apologised for that." Scribbs sighed loudly, "I hadn't eaten a thing since dinner last night and I'm still hungry."

"How can you be hungry Scribbs, you just fed your face with that…" It was Ash's turn to screw her face up, "that…piece of manky confectionary," she waved her hands around comically as she spoke.

Scribbs snorted with laughter, "Manky? Did they teach you to say that at Posh Girl's High or has DI Ashurst joined the ranks of the great unwashed in using slang words?"

Ash rolled her eyes and snatched the map from her partner's lap, smoothing out the ragged edges and trying not to look annoyed that it was in such a sorry state. Scribbs caught the look on her face with amusement. The woman was so restrained that it was as laughable as it was annoying.

"What are you sniggering about now Scribbs?" she tried to maintain her composure, she'd been stuck in the car with her for the best part of three hours now and they were still no nearer to their destination.

"You, I bet that map is driving you nuts isn't it?" Scribbs knew she was onto something when the expression on Ash's face tightened, "I bet you'd just love to iron that thing out on the bonnet of the car and make sure the creases were sharp enough to cut your throat on."

"Hmmm," Ash replied thoughtfully, "a crease sharp enough to cut your throat on doesn't sound like a bad idea. I only have the problem of getting you to shut up long enough to concentrate on slitting yours."

"Well if you take much bloody longer over that map then you won't have to worry about doing me in, because I'll die of hunger and dehydration!" Scribbs irritably folded her arms and leaned back in her seat.

Ash gave up and put the map on the dashboard, before sighing and rubbing her tired eyes with her fingertips. The usually stoical DI couldn't take much more of this and she was beginning to entertain thoughts of murder. First on the list would be Sullivan, this entire situation was his fault. Next on the list would be Scribbs, normally she could cope with her, but not on less than three hours sleep which was all she'd managed to get the previous night.

"I do apologise Scribbs," she said, feeling guilty for being so short with her, it wasn't her fault.

"It was uncalled for Ash, absolutely no need for it," she folded her arms over the steering wheel and tried to look suitably wounded by the DI's earlier comments.

"I did say I was sorry, will you forgive me?" Ash scrunched her nose up and looked slightly worried; she thought the world of her secretly and didn't want to upset her.

"Buy me a pork pie and we'll call it quits." Scribbs turned round with a grin on her face, letting her know she had been teasing, only to be rewarded with a scowl.

Ash's mobile phone rang, interrupting both her train of thought and the reply she was just about to deliver to Scribbs. It was probably Sullivan; he'd been calling every ten minutes wanting a progress report on their whereabouts.

"If this is Sullivan…" she left the threat hanging, and indeed it was him, "oh look, what a pity, the strength of the signal round here is atrocious," she said as she quickly switched her phone off.

"DI Ashurst, you minx!" Scribbs' grin, widened still further. The smile wasn't entirely due to the fact that she'd just seen Ash break one of her many rules; the cherry on the cake was that it had been Sullivan on the other end.

Ash nodded slightly in acknowledgement, secretly pleased with Scribbs' approval but fretting that she'd broken a rule too, "let's get a move on or we'll be here all day."


Chapter 2

By 7pm that evening, Scribbs had been fed twice already and was now helping Ash to haul in the heavy cases full of surveillance equipment under cover of darkness. The suspect's house was on an incline overlooking a beautiful stretch of the beach a few hundred yards away - close enough for them to watch what was going on but far away enough not to be seen - on the other hand Ash and Scribbs were holed up in a less than reputable mobile home park which had definitely seen better days.

The minute they'd stepped foot inside, Ash had started banging on about how the décor didn't look as if it had been changed since the seventies, the disgusting state of the fridge and kitchen cupboards, and had then quickly proceeded to go into overdrive with a major case of the vapours when she realised there was only one bed. On hearing this, Scribbs had sent up a silent prayer of thanks to the heavens above for yet again getting the chance of sharing a bed with her partner. She knew she'd probably get the no stray limbs speech again but it would be worth it.

"Are those cigarette burns on that table?" Ash asked as she hauled a heavy case onto it and breathed a sigh of relief as she stretched her arms.

"Not again." Scribbs rolled her eyes, "I already spent most of the afternoon listening to you coming on like Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen. Ok granted, on reflection, you two dress similarly but…" she shut up when an icy glare was thrown in her direction.

Realising where Ash was concerned, that discretion was the better part of valour, Scribbs remained silent and went about her work setting up the equipment. Fifteen minutes later, they were finished and the place now more resembled a Star Trek set, than the sickly orange and brown blast from the past it had been moments earlier.

Turning off the lights and activating the infra-red camera and various other gadgets that they would use to watch over the suspect, they both hunched down in front of the small window and waited. Ten minutes in, Scribbs began to fidget as she often did on surveillance and idly wondered when Ash would remind her of the rules about fidgeting.

As if on cue, "Stop fidgeting, you know my rules on fidgeting. And do you have to breathe like that?" Ash wrinkled her nose, Scribbs had had onion rings for dinner and she was getting a faint waft of it every time she breathed.

"Breathe like what?"

"You're breathing onion fumes all over me."

"I can't help it, I've already brushed my teeth twice." Scribbs reflected that it had been a bad choice of food and was beginning to feel a little self conscious.

"And you're fogging up the window, I can't see a thing."

"Oh I'll just go and hold my breath for twenty minutes, does that suit?" Scribbs said getting grumpy yet again, "first you moan about my breath which does wonders for a girl's bloody confidence by the way, and now you're moaning about me fogging the window up."

Ash felt bad, and not for the first time that day, she hadn't meant it as a criticism; despite Scribbs outwardly tough personality, she knew that deep down she could be as sensitive as the next person.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that," she took her eyes away from the window and smiled at Scribbs in the dim light, "can hardly smell a thing, really."

"Doesn't matter," came the curt reply, "and if you're that bothered, switch seats, I'll sit behind you and that way you won't have to breathe my onion fumes or have the window fogged up."

Before she had a chance to reply, Ash found herself being manhandled over Scribbs' lap, and felt her rearranging her legs behind her. All went quiet, and they tried to concentrate on the task at hand. But Ash couldn't concentrate, not when Scribbs was so close that she could feel the slight movement of her chest against her back as she breathed. Scribbs wasn't finding it any easier either. Her thigh lay alongside Ash's, which made her skin feel as if it was on fire and she momentarily gave up trying to see what, if anything, was going on in the suspect's house.


"Yeah?" came the tentative reply.

"Did Marcus ever take you on holiday?" she asked referring to one of her partner's old flames.

"Marcus was a bastard Scribbs," was the shopworn reply; it usually covered a multitude of questions.

"I was thinking, maybe we should go on holiday some time. It could be fun, what do you think?" Scribbs asked hesitantly.

Ash considered her reply, should she say what she wanted to say or say what was appropriate?

Scribbs noticed the delay and took it as a knock back, "it doesn't matter, forget I even mentioned it."

Ash sighed, why did she keep getting things wrong as regards her partner? "I don't want to forget that you mentioned it, it sounds like a perfectly agreeable idea. As you said, it could be…fun" she made an attempt at a smile, the idea giving rise to a thousand tiny butterflies in her stomach.


"No need to sound so surprised, yes really," this time Ash's smile was bigger, almost mirroring the size of Scribbs' own grin.

Taking more time than she would ordinarily have thought appropriate, she studied the smile on the blonde's face. It made Ash's heart flutter and want to repeat the process as often as possible, although never in a million years would she admit it.

"Sorted," Scribbs replied, feeling much better already, "isn't it funny how we're good friends now? When we first met, we couldn't stand the sight of each other."

"You were and still are an irritating pain in the arse Scribbs, but you can get used to that in a person." Ash's tone had a playful edge to it, making them both smile in the dark.

If the truth be told, she and Ash had annoyed each other for a while but over time it grew into an affectionate form of banter between the two, each realising there was more to them than first impressions had initially suggested.

"Thanks, I love you too," Scribbs bantered back, blushing slightly when she realised that her choice of words, although perfectly true, may not have been quite the jokey reply she had been looking for.

"Erm how do you get this thing to zoom in?" Ash pointed to the camera, she knew perfectly well how it worked but she felt like playing the helpless female and didn't quite know why, although if the almost irresistible urge to flirt was anything to go by then that might explain it.

"See this button here?" Scribbs pressed her body close to Ash and reached around taking hold of her hand, pressing one of the fingers against the camera, "press it twice, and then press the one next to it until you're in as close as you want to be."

Ash figured she was already too close to Scribbs but didn't care. For about the ten thousandth time since they had met, she felt that all too familiar stirring in the pit of her stomach that signaled her intense attraction to her partner. She sometimes wondered if Scribbs felt it too, at times she was certain she did, and at others was sure that she was imagining it.

"Thank you." Ash breathed deeply, Scribbs still had hold of her hand and neither of them moved.

"You're welcome," she replied, "Did Sullivan mention anything else when you spoke to him earlier?" trying to put them on a more professional footing despite the fact that Ash still held her fingers tightly and had now leaned back ever so slightly against her.

"Not really, nothing more to add to what he told us this morning." Ash closed her eyes, surveillance forgotten as she concentrated on breathing evenly.

"I suppose all we can do is just wait and see how things go then, play it by ear?" Scribbs felt bold and rested her chin on Ash's shoulder leaning their heads together, hoping she'd get the double meaning.

"I think you're right, one step at a time," Ash agreed, wondering if she was going to spontaneously combust at any moment because of Scribbs' close proximity.

Shortly after midnight, the lights in the house went off and seeing nothing untoward, they decided it was time to call it a night and get some sleep. They weren't expected to have any backup and would have to resume surveillance again in the morning. Ash scurried into the bathroom with her pyjamas, hoping for a few quiet moments alone to make sense of her thoughts.

She looked at herself in the mirror, catching the stupid grin plastered to her face. She rolled her eyes, here she was, a thirty something professional woman on an important surveillance job acting like a teenager who'd just had her first date. Date? Where had that come from? She mentally kicked herself, if she didn't watch it, she'd be planning their wedding by the following lunchtime and then Scribbs really would think she was an escaped mental patient. She hurriedly put her pyjamas on and set about cleaning her teeth, her stomach jumping excitedly at the thought of sleeping next to Scribbs.

Scribbs had already changed and had crawled into bed, remembering that Ash liked to sleep on the left side. She snuggled down under the covers, and went over everything that had happened. To her detective brain, there were only two possible answers as to why that was, and both weren't all that different to each other. Either Ash had temporarily taken leave of her senses, or she'd temporarily taken leave of her senses and actually fancied her back.

She didn't have much longer to think about it as the object of her thoughts emerged from the tiny bathroom, or as Ash had called it 'bijou without the elegance'. Scribbs didn't have a clue what that meant but it was probably something Ash had learnt at Posh Girls High and no doubt meant 'tiny bog' when translated into English. Ash climbed into bed beside Scribbs and snuggled down too.

"Go on then, rules about sharing a bed," Scribbs prompted several moments later when Ash had been strangely silent.

"I don't think I actually need to remind you and erm well, you can be as stray with your limbs as you like," she blushed bright red, realising what she'd said, "I didn't mean that how it sounded though."

Scribbs grinned wickedly, "Very stray limbs eh? Now that could be fun."

"I'm sure it could be Scribbs, but you're not about to engage in bedtime gymnastics with a Welsh rugby player so I suggest you wait and find out when said rugby player comes along. Night then." Ash did what she always had and deflected the issue away from herself onto safer ground.

"Yeah, night." Scribbs turned over noisily and punched her pillow as Ash screwed her face up and clapped a hand to her forehead; she'd messed up yet again.


"What?" came the semi-hostile reply, Scribbs had been hoping for more, but it seemed like Ash hadn't picked up on her earlier double meaning at all.

"Look at me for a moment." Ash waited until she had rolled over and was looking directly at her, "One step at a time ok? Sweet dreams Emma," she placed a gentle kiss on her partner's cheek and snuggled down before she could catch the look in her eyes.

Scribbs was astonished, not only had Ash picked up on what she meant, but she'd actually acknowledged it. A grin that could have powered the Blackpool illuminations for a fortnight found its way onto her face. Ash indeed had taken leave of her senses, but what was more…she fancied her back.


Chapter 3

The next morning when Scribbs was shaken awake at 5am, it was still dark out and the weather was thoroughly miserable. It was raining buckets and Ash was prowling up and down like a caged animal as Scribbs lay in bed. She didn't want to move just yet, despite threats of having cold water thrown over her. Ash was seemingly back to her old self, quoting rules and being as efficient as ever, making Scribbs frown in the process. So much had happened the previous evening that she'd expected Ash to behave differently towards her but no, she was back to being as uptight as ever.

Ash in fact, was in a state of inner turmoil. She'd watched Scribbs sleeping for half an hour before she had woken her, wondering what the hell to do about the fact that her feelings were spiraling out of control. While Scribbs seemed to be laid back about the entire thing, she was floundering, and the investigation was beginning to wind her up too.

Normally by now something would have happened but it hadn't and sitting idly by was grating on her.

"Scribbs, you know my rules on lounging in bed when we've got work to do." Ash tried not to let her thoughts linger in that direction.

"Stay there for as long as possible? Preferably naked?" Scribbs couldn't help herself and watched with satisfaction as Ash's face tinged pink.

"Absolutely not Scribbs! Rule number one…."

"I know, I know," Scribbs sighed, "I'm getting up now," she noticed Ash's jumpy movements with satisfaction as she pottered around getting dressed, if she wasn't much mistaken she was having quite an effect on her and that was just the way she liked it.

An hour later, the rain still hadn't stopped; the equipment was useless, they couldn't even see the suspect's house through the resulting haze. Scribbs had decided breakfast couldn't wait and set about tucking into a big bag of crisps; risking Ash's disapproval as she got comfy and rested her feet up on the table. Ash meanwhile was on her fourth coffee of the morning, still pacing and waving her mobile around in the hopes of getting a better signal. She needed to do something, she needed something to happen and quick, she'd never hung about on an investigation before.

"Can't you sit still for a minute? You're making me feel queasy," the blonde woman complained.

"I'm sure it has nothing to do with the big bag of greasy crisps you're munching on," Ash fired back, fiddling nervously with the elaborate knot in her dark shiny hair, not noticing when a lock of it came loose and Scribbs quietly gasped in response.

"Do you think Ingles really did bump his old lady off for the insurance money? I mean it could be a joint scam and she's still alive somewhere, what you reckon?" Scribbs changed the subject, gave up lusting and crossed her legs, hoping that marching band in her jeans would quit for five minutes.

"If she ate crisps the way you do then I'm absolutely certain he did." Ash tutted at the loud crunching and rustling noise coming from her partner. The bag seemed to be a bottomless pit, as did Scribbs' stomach.

"Did you have to practice moaning this much or does it come naturally?" said Scribbs, crunching louder on purpose.

"It comes naturally and thanks for noticing," she replied sarcastically, "I hope this rain stops soon, we need to take a look around, see what he's up to."

"He'll still be in bed if he's got any bloody sense," she said, not adding that she thought it was exactly where they should be too.

"Good point, it's still only early." Ash took a look at her watch, it was just after 6am and still not quite daylight yet, "get your coat on Scribbs, we're going on a little trip," she said as the blonde detective looked less than happy at being dragged away from her breakfast.

Ash was regretting her enthusiasm ten minutes later when she was crouched down, soaking wet in the suspect's garden hedge. Scribbs was beside her, for once not complaining about the uncomfortable conditions they found themselves in. In fact, she was staring intently toward the house; her eyes screwed up trying to make out whether she could see anyone inside, as the rain fell relentlessly and ran down her face like a river.

Seeing that the coast was clear, they made their way gingerly around the perimeter of the property trying not to get stuck in the muddy puddles on the lawn. The sea raging only a few feet away; roaring and crashing against the shoreline as the wind howled added an extra sense of drama to the proceedings which Ash could have done without, she figured there was quite enough going on as it was.

As she crept along after Scribbs; an intruder light suddenly flashed on, bathing the garden, and them, in bright white light. The sound of a dog barking came from the general direction of the house and they momentarily froze before diving for the nearest bush. A few moments later, the back door creaked open and Ingles loomed no more than fifteen feet away, looking slightly larger and more menacing than they'd hoped for as he held onto what looked suspiciously like a spade. Ash in turn, grabbed the waistband of Scribbs' jeans, causing her eyes to go wide as a certain part of her clothing was pulled up rather higher than she'd have liked.

"Come on, we need to go and for god sake don't hitch my knickers any higher or I'll be talking in falsetto," Scribbs whispered.

"Sorry about your knickers," Ash replied in a fluster, "And we can't go yet, we've only just got here."

"Do you really want to hang around while he's prowling about the place with a bloody shovel?!" she hissed.

"Now that you mention it…" Ash managed to squeak as she felt herself lifted bodily off her feet and dragged away at speed.

As soon as they were back in the mobile home, Ash resumed her pacing, ignoring the fact she was soaked through to the skin and was dripping all over the dirty orange carpet. She was trying to figure out what to do next, they'd been there since the previous afternoon, they'd found out the sum total of bugger all and nothing whatsoever was going to plan. She left Scribbs, who was finishing off her crisps at one end of the mobile home as she retreated to the other and changed out of her wet clothes.

Her thoughts ran amok, here she was trapped in a seventies shag pad with a wealth of surveillance equipment that was totally useless at this moment in time and she still had absolutely no idea what to do next. And the overwhelming urge to lead an investigation into Scribbs' bedroom skills was taking up rather more of her self control than she'd have liked. Constant thoughts of her partner was playing havoc with everything, her body included and she was feeling pissed off that she didn't seem to be having the same effect on Scribbs.

"What are my rules about tricky situations during investigations?" Ash called out, hoping that quoting rules at Scribbs would keep her mind off thoughts of a sexy nature.

She almost fell off her chair when she noticed Ash coming toward her wearing particularly snug fitting jeans, "Bugger the rules, but if you fancy having your hairdo rearranged by some big hairy gorilla with a spade then be my guest," she uncrossed and re-crossed her legs, the marching band was back.

"What's up with you? And you're still fidgeting by the way." Ash stopped pacing and now turned her attention to her partner.

"You know how I hate being on surveillance duty and if I'd known you were gonna be this much of a pain then I'd have stayed back in Middleford," she hoped she sounded convincing and consciously tried to sit still.

"You wouldn't really have stayed back in Middleford would you?" Ash cocked her head to one side and stared at her intently, deciding she didn't much like the thought of her not being around.

"No you're right; Sullivan is even more annoying than you are." Scribbs nodded as she spoke

"You think Sullivan is annoying?" Ash decided it was time to do a bit of digging.

"He can be, the way he struts around in his expensive suits like an aging playboy and that bloody car he's got. It's a great motor but he reminds me of Noddy every time I see him driving it."

Ash snorted with laughter, "Noddy? Oh that's classic, just wait till that one gets around the station."

"And there's me thinking you'd defend his honour." Scribbs decided to do some digging of her own, "I thought you were his biggest fan, don't you fancy him anymore?"

Ash looked somewhat shocked, "fancy Sullivan? I've never fancied him."

The beginnings of a lightbulb moment tickled Ash's brain, they had of course given each other the impression they did fancy him, but it looked increasingly likely that it was meant as a 'does this make you insanely jealous?' sort of thing.

"Not even when he had his lips clamped around you on that surveillance job in the car park?" she raised an eyebrow.

"Especially not then! Didn't you see how resistant I was?"

"Oh yeah, it looked like absolute hell for you. I thought to myself, god she's putting up a struggle isn't she?" Scribbs said sarcastically.

"Are you winding me up? You didn't really think I enjoyed it did you?" Ash sincerely hoped not.

"I had my doubts at first but then when you grabbed him in the station a second time and cut his oxygen supply off, you pretty much convinced me otherwise."

"Well I didn't enjoy it and nor would I ever. I mean it's not as if I go around kissing men willy nilly, never in fact, not even once. I mean do I look like the kind of woman to go around kissing men just for the sake of it?" her voice rising several octaves higher than normal.

"Don't need to convince me Ash, but I think Sullivan might be under the impression you hold a candle for him." Scribbs was enjoying herself now that she was reasonably sure Ash didn't fancy him.

"And what about you? You're always fawning over him when you see him. Can I get you a coffee boss? Snazzy suit boss, it looks great on you boss," Ash mimicked Scribbs' voice childishly.

Scribbs grinned; she'd hit a nerve it seemed, "doesn't cost anything to be nice you know Ash."

"Nice? You only stop short of plunging your face into his buttocks and kissing his arse."

"Would you prefer I kissed your arse instead? I don't mind doing it if you're that way inclined; although I have to say you don't appear to be quite that kinky underneath that tough exterior," she left Ash with her mouth hanging open as she went off in the direction of the kitchen, humming quietly to herself as she filled the kettle.


Chapter 4

By the time lunchtime had been and gone, the weather had eased up and the sun was making an effort to break through the clouds. Ash was ecstatic, she desperately needed some fresh air, the way her eyes kept traveling involuntarily towards her partner every time she was near was unnerving her.

Her hormones constantly reminded her that she was a woman with needs beneath all of her rules and she wasn't sure how much more of this she could stand. If Scribbs really was attracted to her and Ash knew now that she was, then why was she hanging back? It wasn't like Scribbs at all; she usually had all the subtlety of a house brick wearing hob nailed boots.

She pondered still further on the situation as they staggered up the beach towards the suspect's house, trying to look like holiday makers. She'd never be able to make the first move; she wasn't brave enough and she had been hoping that Scribbs would be her usual self and jump in, both guns blazing. But for some reason Scribbs was actually being patient. Well as much as she could be, patience wasn't a virtue that she was normally overly endowed with.

"Try and look as if you're enjoying yourself Ash, nobody should look like a smacked arse when they're on holiday," she remarked tearing her eyes away from Ash's denim clad lower half, wishing she could keep her bum under close surveillance instead of the suspect.

"I'm not on holiday; I'm on a surveillance operation. In case you haven't noticed, this isn't bloody Butlins and you're not a Red-coat. What would you like me to do? Run along the beach semi naked, my hair cascading over my shoulders as I cast my flip flops asunder to gambol excitedly in the surf with a cheesy chick flick soundtrack playing in the background?" Ash muttered sarcastically.

Scribbs sniggered, "god that was a mouthful and a half, did they make you swallow a dictionary at Posh Girls High?"

"I give up." Ash rolled her eyes towards the sky and shrieked as she felt herself being grabbed around the waistband of her jeans and pulled off her feet for the second time that day, "what are you playing at Scribbs?"

"Look straight at me, don't turn round," she said as she wrapped one arm around the taller woman's shoulders, and left the other resting on her hip, "Ingles is coming up the beach with his dog and if you look now you'll blow our cover."

"And you're intending to do what exactly? Oh I see what you mean about hitching up the jeans" Ash couldn't help grinning, and noticed just how attractive Scribbs was at very close quarters.

"Not sure, just play along. Oh and go with the flow on the jeans thing, it's not an entirely unpleasant sensation." Scribbs discretely watched the man till he edged closer and then on the spur of the moment grabbed Ash and pressed their lips together.

Ash felt Scribbs' hand squeeze her buttocks and she slapped it away for her cheekiness, a kiss might be one thing but a full blown grope in public was absolutely out of the question. The kiss lasted for quite a few minutes, and only when Scribbs was sure the man had moved off further into the distance did she let go of her partner.

"Did you manage to catch me unawares just then and slip your tongue in?" Ash narrowed her eyes and decided the lusty look on her partner's face answered her question.

"Well I had to make it look convincing," she said breathlessly as the wind whipped her hair into a frenzy.

"Convincing? Did you really think he was going to stop and check to see if your tongue was tickling my tonsils? He'll be convinced there's a lesbian convention in town now. If he sees us again, he'll remember us as the snog artists on the beach and then where will the investigation be? On its arse that's where it'll be." Ash found it much easier to rant on than think about how much she wanted Scribbs to take further liberties.

"Oh for god sake, I didn't hear you complaining like this when Sullivan slobbered all over you," she bunched her hands into her pockets and turned to face the wind, trying not to let the dark haired woman see how much she was affected by her.

"That was different," Ash argued.

"How is it different? Cos he's packing a widgie and I'm not?" she argued back.

"Packing a widgie? Is that some sort of vernacular for male genitalia?" Ash asked knowing full well it was and trying to deflect the argument in the process.

"You're getting off the point here, but if the kiss was that flippin' traumatic for you then I apologise and I swear to god I will keep my lips away from your person at all times. Not even when you're lying on the pavement and gasping for your last breath will I even attempt to move my lips any closer to you and administer CPR. Mind you, knowing you, you'd choke on bloody principle!"

"Now who's getting off the point?" Ash placed her hands on her hips and shouted to make herself heard over the gusting wind.

Scribbs shot a look at her, "so much for one step at a time, it's more like one step forward and ten steps back with you."

"You're getting off the point again, we're arguing about work, not our personal lives," Ash replied pedantically, although at the moment, the two subjects where hopelessly intertwined and she knew it.

"Look, it doesn't matter now. I snogged you to preserve our undercover identity and if you don't like it then stiff biccies!"

Ash watched as the blonde stormed off down the beach, back the way they had come. She regretted the way she'd acted after she'd kissed her, but she always felt at a disadvantage where Scribbs was concerned. She found it difficult to let go of herself, and couldn't really blame Scribbs for being frustrated when it seemed like she was fighting against even meeting her halfway. Ash resolved to find her and try to put things right, but she couldn't help worrying that she'd blown it for a repeat performance.


Chapter 5

Ash was met with a curious noise when she got back to the mobile home park. There seemed to be strange noises coming from their accommodation. Bangs and thumps could be heard coming from inside, now either Scribbs had decided to do some cleaning, which Ash didn't think was likely; or she was in a temper and was stomping around like she normally did.

She pushed the door open and was met with a sight that made her heart sink, stood in the middle of the kitchen with the biggest coffee mug she'd ever seen was Sullivan, surrounded by several of their colleagues setting up yet more equipment. Scribbs was standing in a corner looking very miffed indeed. She plainly had been just as enthusiastic as Ash was to discover they were given an interruption they didn't want at this moment in time.

"Ah Ash, good to see you. Scribbs has been telling me you'd both gone on a recce of the property and that you'd stayed behind to finish up," Sullivan greeted her enthusiastically and let his eyes momentarily wander over her legs, "find anything out?"

She flashed a grateful look at Scribbs, "Not really I'm afraid, he went walking along the beach and Scribbs tailed him while I stayed on the property but before I could do much of anything, he headed back to the house."

"You didn't tell us you were coming boss," Scribbs piped up, suddenly looking a little too cheerful for Ash's liking, "if you'd said then we could have gotten some of those chocolate biscuits you like."

Sullivan's smile widened "Very sweet of you indeed Scribbs. The case I was working on wrapped up all of a sudden, when we got an unexpected confession from the suspect and here I am," he raised his coffee cup to her as if he was toasting something and continued to smile.

"Excellent Nodd…I mean sir, it's good to have you aboard." Ash grimaced at her words; she sounded like a sailor on heat.

She saw Scribbs pull a face across the room and purposely put more distance between herself and Sullivan, she didn't want anyone getting the wrong idea at this point in the proceedings.

"Sir, it seems like we have movement out by the garage, looks like he could be going somewhere," one of the team piped up.

Sullivan assessed the situation and made his decision, "right, I want two of you tailing his car and another two over at the property. Ash, Scribbs, I'd like the two of you to stay here on this one just in case he remembers seeing either of you and gets skittish."

"Of course Sir." Ash nodded, relieved that she wouldn't have to get involved in tailing someone when her head was all over the place, "Would you mind if I grabbed Scribbs for a minute? Girly talk."

"Not at all, you should take a break while it's relatively peaceful." Sullivan nodded amiably and got interested in what his team was doing, not noticing the tension bouncing around the room between the two women.

Ash motioned for Scribbs to follow her outside and waited until they'd walked a short distance away before she gently took hold of her arm and gave it a squeeze. Scribbs was looking even grumpier than before and Ash found it sexy in a dark, moody sort of way. She was finding it hard to stand still; nervous tension flowed through her body like electricity through a pylon as she scrabbled for something to say.

Scribbs beat her to it, "you nearly called him Noddy."

"I know, god it would have been funny if I had wouldn't it?" Ash screwed her face up, her nose crinkling in the way Scribbs loved so much.

"Yeah I suppose so." Scribbs shrugged, she didn't feel like laughing much at the moment, she could have positively throttled Sullivan.

"Thanks for what you said to the boss."

"No need for thanks, we're partners, we back each other up." Scribbs tried to look uninterested.

On impulse, Ash held her hand out, "come on a walk with me?"

"Sure." Scribbs nodded and hesitantly took hold of Ash's hand, surprised that she'd even made the move at all, never mind with having half of the CID unit less than twenty feet away.

They walked for ten minutes in absolute silence, peace creeping into Ash's heart. The mood even began to affect Scribbs and she became a little less crabby than she had been before. They soon came to a clearing in the forest; in the middle stood a massive solitary oak tree. Ash was in a reflective mood as they came to a halt in front of it, she glanced up at the tall branches which stooped towards the ground under the great weight.

"Lovely tree, looks very old," she broke the silence at last, cringing that it had been the only thing she could think of to say.

"Yeah and a lot less wooden than Sullivan," Scribbs remarked.

Ash giggled, "You've really got it in for the poor bloke haven't you?"

"Have done ever since he snogged you, I felt like grabbing his bal…well teaching him a lesson."

"Did it really bother you that he and I kissed?" Ash didn't feel like dancing around the issue any longer.

"You're a detective Ash; you squeeze the truth out of people for a living. Does this look like the face of someone who wasn't bothered?" Scribbs replied truthfully.

"I thought as much." Ash nodded and sighed, taking a firmer grip of Scribbs' hand, "I don't want to end up like this tree."

"What stuck in the middle of a forest in all weathers?" Scribbs quipped, earning a gentle dig in the ribs from Ash for her efforts.

"No, stood here on its own, just as it has been for hundreds of years. I don't want that to be me."

"I doubt you'd stand there that long, you'd probably have rules about it," Scribbs joked.

"For goodness sake Scribbs, I'm trying to be serious here," she admonished softly with a smile, "What I'm trying to say is, I've had enough of being alone. I don't want to look back at the end of my life and regret not doing anything about…well...us. I know that I go on a bit and that I'm uptight sometimes. I also know I can be a stickler for the rules but there is a softer side to me."

Scribbs felt her heart melt, "I know there is, you just don't show it often."

"Be honest with me, I haven't hurt or upset you have I?"

"No, not on purpose you haven't," Scribbs shook her head, "but it does hurt sometimes when you keep running away from me."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to," Ash replied with a pained expression, "Scribbs do you…."

"Do I what?" she felt her heart begin to speed up.

"Do you want me?"

"Always," came the reply.

"Really?" Ash was taken aback at the speed at which the answer had been given.

Scribbs took a deep breath and pulled her closer, "you've always been the girl for me Ash, always."

"It's funny you should say that because personally I've always felt…."

"Ash," Scribbs said getting exasperated, "this is the part where you shut up and kiss me."

"Oh of course, I'm sorry, you know how…" she paused as Scribbs rolled her eyes, "sorry yes, I'll shut up now and kiss you."

Scribbs felt her heart almost leap out of her chest as Ash pressed their lips together. The kiss deepened and she felt Ash's tongue slide softly across her own. She smiled into the kiss; Ash wasn't so uptight after all. But she wished she wouldn't let go of her inhibitions quite so quickly in a way that was guaranteed to make Scribbs keel over from excitement.

"Wow, where did you learn to kiss like that? Any other skills I don't know about?" the blonde asked feeling ever so slightly euphoric.

"Angela West, class 5c. Being an all girls school, we had to recruit from the inside and she taught me the basics." Ash raised an eyebrow as her lips curled into a grin.

"Ah so DI Kate Ashurst has kissed a woman before, the things that went on in Posh Girls High eh?" Scribbs grinned too, she had a feeling she was going to enjoy finding out more of Ash's secrets.

"You wouldn't believe half of what went on," she pulled Scribbs closer and rested their foreheads together, "so how do you fancy exploring more of my posh girl skills tonight?"

"Could be a bit difficult, what about Noddy and the gang?" Scribbs frowned; they'd have no peace now that Sullivan and the team were there.

"Noddy and the gang can find their own way back to Toy Town, tonight is about us and us alone. What do you say, is it a date?"

"Definitely is…Kate" Scribbs used her first name, it felt weird but calling her Ash under the circumstances would have felt weird now too.

"I think this is where you shut up and kiss me Emma," Ash grinned, using Scribbs own words as a reminder.

Scribbs nodded quickly and pulled Ash back into her arms, everything else seemed to fade into the background as their lips touched once more and their spirits soared.

The End

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