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Ash opened her eyes and glared up at the ceiling. How was she to get back to sleep with that voice constantly drifting out of the darkness?
With a huff, she turned onto her side and shut her eyes. I am not answering you, she thought in the direction of the living room.
"Ash... I'm really sorry."
She was not pleased. She had gone to sleep quite happy -- quite satisfied -- but sometime after one o'clock she'd been rudely awakened when she rolled over and encountered a very damp patch of pillow. Not acceptable.
"Not like I kicked you in the stomach or something," came a petulant mutter from the darkness, accompanied by the sound of a fist pounding into cushions -- once, twice, three times. "Ash, I can't sleep out here."
"The sofa is perfectly comfortable," Ash snapped before she could stop herself.
Bugger! Now she'll think I'm listening.
But it was quiet. It was quiet so long Ash started thinking maybe that had done the trick.
I just want to get back to sleep. If I don't get my rest I'll be crabby in the morning, and she'll see it and she'll be as annoying as possible on purpose. Then all day people will be commenting on my bad mood and she'll play the long-suffering partner -- "Oh God yes, she's a terror today. Don't know why I put up with her." When all along it was her fault I was up all night because she had the gall --
The mournful tone blindsided her, derailing her train of thought for a moment, and she turned her head toward the bedroom door.
No, no, no. I am not falling for that. I am not.
She made herself turn away again.
Then there was silence throughout the flat, except the subtle, intermittent hum of the fridge. Ash tried not to listen for the next comment, but it was hard. Anticipation built as long minutes went by. Any minute now she'll pipe up with another protest. Something about how I'm being unfair, that I never told her it was against the rules to drool on my pillow. As if it needs to be said.
Sleep was impossible. Her mind was too busy picturing the sofa, wondering what its occupant was up to.
Surprised she hasn't complained she's cold. She isn't wearing much. Probably needs another blanket but is too lazy to get one from the closet. She's always going around shivering in an open coat, the silly girl.
Suddenly it hit her why so much time had gone by. The bugger's gone and fallen asleep! While I'm lying here wide awake!
It was the worst offense yet. Ash slid out from under the covers and stood up to go and check. She crept soundlessly around the bed, stepping over a small pile of clothing and making a mental note to bring that up in the morning. Again. Enough moonlight passed through the bedroom window to make navigating that room easy, but Ash slowed down as she turned into the corridor where visibility dropped off sharply. Unfortunately, she was still going fast enough for it to hurt when she suddenly collided head-on with something large and fuzzy, yet solid. Ash lost her balance and stumbled backward, her backside hitting the wall at the same time as she heard a startled "Whoa!" and a muted thump.
"Jesus!" Heart pounding in her throat, Ash groped along the wall and found the bedroom doorway again. She snaked her arm around the corner to flip the switch inside.
Scribbs blinked and squinted against the splash of light, hitching up the blanket that had slipped from her shoulders in the crash. She was up against the corridor's opposite wall, leaning for support as she caught her breath. Ash glared at her.
"Were you trying to sneak back into bed?"
"What are you doing?" Scribbs asked, as if oblivious to Ash's ire. "Scared me half to death."
"You thought I'd gone back to sleep, didn't you." Ash crossed her arms over her chest, but found that crossing bare arms over a nearly-bare chest just wasn't the same as doing it fully dressed.
"Yeah," Scribbs said through a yawn. She pulled the blanket tighter around herself. "Aren't you cold?"
Ha. Knew it, Ash thought, observing goose-bumps breaking out over the blonde's exposed skin. "Why didn't you get the plaid blanket from the closet?"
Scribbs shook her head. "It's at my place, remember? We took it on our picnic. It's all muddy."
"So what's it doing at your house? It's never going to get washed there." Ash eyed her partner carefully, watching for the slightest hint of a shiver. There -- was that her teeth chattering? Or just the icemaker in the fridge? Deciding she shouldn't take the risk, she held out a beckoning hand. "You're going to catch your death out here. Let's go."
Scribbs looked faintly surprised but obeyed. Ash wrapped an arm around her shoulders, rubbing her arm briskly through the blanket as she guided her into the bedroom. Scribbs turned her face into Ash's cheek and Ash could feel her smiling. "Knew you'd cave."
Ash stopped at the side of the bed and pulled back. "I'm allowing this so that you don't get sick," she told her with narrowed eyes. "That is the only reason. Understood?"
Scribbs held her gaze and said nothing. Ash rolled her eyes and went to turn off the light.
"Just get in."
In the restored darkness, they climbed into their respective sides of the bed. Scribbs wriggled and thrashed to get comfortable as usual, and Ash sat up to re-tuck the comforter around her when she was settled.
"Quite warm in here," Scribbs said as Ash spooned behind her.
Ash didn't care for the satisfied tone in her partner's voice but she was already feeling the heavy pull of sleep. She decided to save the reprimand for the morning.
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