DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Ann for the beta.

Curry Flavoured Courage
By ralst



The taste of yesterday's vindaloo coats your tongue and mixes unappealingly with the smell of cheap lager and anonymous sex, the deadly combination enough to make your head swim. You try to remember what happened, after the restaurant and before waking up in tangled sheets, but all your fuzzy mind will supply is the image of Ash, tearful and hurt, bemoaning the inadequacies of yet another former boyfriend. You remember, in a vague and clouded way, telling her she was beautiful and calling her ex a damn fool. She had smiled, you remember that quite clearly, and called you a good friend, the latter of which you wish you could forget.

The body next to yours stirs, and you try to banish thoughts of Ash to search for a name to go with the slumbering lump beneath your sheets. The pleasant ache between your thighs speaks of a night well spent and discounts most of your casual shags, whose talents usually lie more in their availability than their skill. If it weren't for the thumping brass band marinated in curry and booze that was corrupting your mind, you would have recognised the sweet ache of your daydreams, where fear was banished and she always welcomed you into her bed.

Squeezing your eyes shut, you reach out a tentative hand, dreading the stilted conversation of a morning after, but needing to get through the ordeal and regain your solitude. You touch its shoulder, the sheet moving against your hand and revealing skin far more delicate than you would have imagined. The sheet moves further and your breath catches in your throat, as 'it' becomes 'she', and 'she' eventually becomes Ash.

"Ash?" You're sure you're dreaming or misreading the signs, but you can't stop the stab of hope that invades your chest. "Kate?"

You watch, transfixed, as her eyes open and a frown settles on her face. At any moment you expect to see horror mixed with denial contort her features, but you cannot bring yourself to look away or hide beneath the sheets. When she finally speaks, you brace yourself for heartbreak and almost miss her words, "God, Scribbs, you smell like a Calcutta brothel."

Her words don't speak of love or devotion, but the smile that slowly accompanies them tells you all you need to know. This isn't a regrettable one night stand or even a drunken mistake between friends; it's the beginning of something wonderful, or at least it will be, as soon as you've washed yesterday's courage from your skin and between your teeth.

"I love you, too," you mumble, brushing a curry flavoured kiss across her lips.



She's been in the bathroom for over half an hour, and just as you're beginning to worry that she's fallen down the plug hole, she ambles back into the bedroom, dishevelled and adorable, her hair sticking up in wet blonde clumps. In all the years you've known her, you don't think she's ever looked as beautiful or as smugly self-satisfied.

You wish you hadn't drunk so much, but at the same time, you're grateful for the liquid courage that finally enabled you to take what you had so long desired. If you have your way, there will be plenty more kisses and tangled nights between the sheets to fill your memory and make up for the gaping hole that was the night before.

"Come back to bed," you order, in a voice far more school marm than mistress, your attempt at appearing seductive crumbling at the feet of Scribbs' knowing smile.

You welcome her into your arms with giddy disbelief and a sense of wonder you haven't experienced since you were a child. She isn't tentative or shy, for which you are grateful, and soon your bodies are writhing as if pitched on a raft during a storm. You want to tell her to slow down and calm her passions, but your own are surging forward and driving the breath from her lungs. In your imagination, your first time together had been languid and almost genteel, but this repeat of a forgotten first is anything but restrained.

"Kate," she calls you, as her body starts to tremble, "Oh Kate," she sighs as you enfold her in your arms. In the space of an evening, you have stopped being Ash, her friend and confidant, and become Kate her lover, and the subtle difference fills you with joy and trepidation.

You lose yourself in her body and her response to your touch, delighted in every whimper and sigh that you coax from her lips. Happiness claims you, and before you can censor yourself, the truth is uttered in a simple, "I love you."

"Even when I have curry breath?" she chuckles, kissing you languidly on the mouth.

You pause just long enough to capture her attention but derail her pout before it can form.

"Even then."

The End

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