DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Slight crossover with Imagine Me and You in this chapter and possibly later in the story because I like that movie and the character(s) highlighted later on. Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling, Scholastic and Warner Brothers I believe. I am just referencing it because it makes me happy.
WARNING: This story has heavy angst, mentions of murder (duh), rape, and other unpleasant things, which is why it will only be mentioned. There is also hurt/comfort, something I don't do that much if ever in fic, so we'll see how it all works out.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Erin Griffin
"So then he tells me that it's really not me, it's him, which we both know is total bollocks," Ash continued on as she had for the past half an hour. "I mean, I'm a detective for Christ's sake. Seeing through lies is my job."
"Mm-hm," Scribbs murmured in agreement as she had from the start, changing lanes as she did so.
"So, I went for a long walk after that, and when I got back, my flat was empty except for a note of apology next to our unopened bottle of champagne," Ash said. This got Scribbs' attention, and she looked to her left at her partner.
"That's the third 'long walk' this week, Ash. Is something wrong?"
"Well, to be honest, I'm feeling the itch to move again."
"I remember the last time you wanted to sell your flat. The term 'bimbo geisha whore' comes to mind," Scribbs replied, trying to sound sympathetic, but she was not sure if she made it or not.
Ignoring her partner's mention of that awkward time, Ash pointed ahead of them. "Here. That's Coin Street. Follow it to Bourbon."
"Thanks," Scribbs replied. Both women knew that the blonde would be able to get them back to the police station from there. "So, any particular area you're looking at for a new place to live?"
"I've looked, but like last time, none of them seemed to say to me, 'Kate, you're home now'. I'll find something."
"You aren't planning to move away from Middleford, are you?" Scribbs asked and Ash heard the hint of sadness that came with the question.
"No, nothing like that."
"Good, because no one gives me more rules to break than you do, Ash; I don't know what I'd do without you."
"You'd actually have to do the paperwork for once," Ash replied, and Scribbs visibly shuddered.
"Oy, don't remind me," the blonde said, and then shared a grin with her partner. There was the usual comfort in their silence as they made it to the station's car park. Just as Ash held the door open for Scribbs and the blonde walked through, Scribbs' mobile phone went off.
"Make it quick and if Sullivan asks, I'll tell him it's your mum," Ash said.
"It really could be my mum," Scribbs argued, but Ash's look said she was less than convinced. "Could happen," Scribbs protested before she opened her phone. "Hello?"
She shot Ash a look, then looked down. The brunette saw a look of pleased surprise on her face. The voice on the other end was indistinct, but Ash could tell that it was a man calling, something that didn't surprise Ash in the least. "I'm at work, so this has gotta be quick. Yeah. Really? Yeah, what time? Uh huh. Great, see you then... Bye." Scribbs closed the mobile phone and began walking to her desk with Ash in tow.
"So?" Ash wondered as she sat at her desk chair and booted up her computer, ignoring the vase of flowers next to the mouse pad. She knew who they were from and roughly what the accompanying card said. She didn't need to read it again. Not this time.
"That was Dunn. He asked me on a date."
"Dunn? I thought you chucked him over a month ago," Ash said cautiously.
"Yeah, I did, but I ran into him over the weekend and we talked over coffee. He said he was sorry. It was sweet of him."
"It took him a month to say he was sorry?"
"I know what you're going to say, Ash. 'Rule number I've stopped counting: If a man takes more than a week to apologize for anything, he's most likely forgotten what he was supposed to be apologizing for'."
"That was exactly what I was going to say, Scribbs, though it could've done without the Anne Robinson impersonation."
"Well, he's taking me to that French restaurant we are always talking about going to but it takes forever to get a reservation."
Ash raised her eyebrow in disbelief.
"Yeah, we're going there tonight, so I have no choice but to forgive him. He's been planning this for the last month, you know. Jealous much?" Scribbs said.
"Tonight?" Ash asked, ignoring the teasing comment.
"Yeah," Scribbs replied slowly as if to ask what the significance of 'tonight' was.
"We were going to go for drinks after work today. We planned this since last Monday." At Scribbs' look Ash added, "Don't tell me that you forgot."
"Erm... Okay, I won't?" the blonde said with a tilt at the end, making it into a sentence rather than a statement, something else that often irked Ash about people.
"Scribbs!" Ash protested.
"I'm sorry! He said he'd got the reservation, and he was so sweet about it... If you want, I'll call him back and cancel."
"You can't," Ash said with a sigh, "because you just said yes. It'd be rude and he'd think something fishy. We can go some other time." Ash looked at her watch, then back at Scribbs. "We can take lunch now, I suppose. I'll be back in a bit."
"You aren't angry with me?" Scribbs asked. She didn't like how absent that last sentence had been.
"Disappointed, but not angry," Ash admitted. She stood up and stretched, even though she had just gotten to her desk. She turned the monitor of her computer off and gave Scribbs a partial wave. "Enjoy," she said, and walked down the hallway. Scribbs watched after her colleague with a thoughtful frown as behind her a door was heard opening and closing.
"Alright Scribbs?" Sullivan asked.
"I can't tell if she's lying and she's mad at me, or if she's truly disappointed. I don't know if I should catch up to her and apologize again or leave her be."
"What happened, if you don't mind me asking?" Sullivan didn't need clarification on who 'she' and 'her' were.
"Made a date tonight and forgot that Ash and I already had plans. She says to go with Dunn tonight, but she's taking this a little bit hard. But then... Oh! Mitch!"
"Sorry?" Sullivan asked. He'd been following along up until that point, but Scribbs always had a way of getting him confused.
"Ash just went through a break up, Boss, but you don't know that, okay?"
"That-" Scribbs stopped talking when she saw the look on Sullivan's face. "Er- right."
"Scribbs, perhaps a compromise is in order. If this man- Dunn- was to take you out to dinner, then that leaves you with a few hours in between. You could leave an hour early, say three or so, but that is something else I don't know about. You could grab a drink or two with Ash and be home in time to do... whatever it is you women do to get ready for a date. Or maybe you could invite her over for some tea and she could help you get ready; seems like she just needs your company right now."
"For what?" The look of innocence was back, and Scribbs grinned.
"Oh nothing," she replied.
Just as Scribbs was about to go find Ash or at least ring her mobile, Sullivan said, "Be careful with her, Scribbs." His tone was completely serious, and there was a touch of concern on his face. Scribbs studied him for a moment, which caused the tall man to touch his tie in his nervousness.
"Boss," Scribbs asked, "is there something you're not telling me?" Sullivan cleared his throat, but said nothing more. Another DS walked by and Sullivan directed his attention at him. Scribbs felt confused and walked towards Ash's chair. She'd forgotten her jacket, and it looked like rain. The streets and pavements were already wet from the morning's almost nonstop drizzle.
Somehow Scribbs knew something else was going on, mostly because of Sullivan's confirming behavior. Did he know, or just suspect what it was that was wrong with Ash? Thinking back, Scribbs remembered the first couple of years she'd known Ash, and how she would stiffen up at this time of year. It was a barrier that not even Scribbs could get through. It wasn't long though until Scribbs had asked if Ash needed a drink to ease the tension and the brunette had reluctantly agreed. That one drink, which had started their ability to bond after work, had also started what Scribbs now realized also started what had become their tradition of sorts.
Scribbs tried to remember: Did they always go out to drinks on the same day each year? Was it an anniversary of some sort? Back then, Ash had been snappy with her at about the same time of year and Sullivan had said to be careful with Ash then, too, when she'd complained to him. Scribbs wondered about this as she slipped into her own jacket, hoping she'd soon find Ash and get to the bottom of it all.
As the air got a little thicker with moisture and more clouds rolled overhead, Ash began to long for her jacket, but, after an exit like that, she couldn't go back to the station. She'd look foolish. She continued on her walk, deciding to go in a general circle of the station so that if it did decide to rain, she wouldn't be too far away and get completely soaked through. Ash had to appreciate the weather, though. It always seemed that much greener in Middleford on the days it rained, as if the grass and trees showed emotion and smiled at the feel of the water.
Ash's pace slowed only slightly when she started to hear the children in the yard playing football. Right away, she thought of her. How old would she be now? Fifteen? Would she still look so much like her father? Right then, the football came crashing into the fence, startling Ash.
A little girl who seemed to be in charge of the group came running for the white and black ball. As she picked up the ball, she studied Ash, and Ash studied the girl in turn. The child had blonde hair to the tips of the shoulders, though it was shorter and darker than Scribbs'. She looked no older then maybe twelve, and her uniform was muddy at the hem of the skirt from where the ball had hit her. There was almost no color to her left calf, as mud covered it.
Studying Ash, she said, "You're very pretty."
"Thank you. So are you." A little dirty maybe, but Ash wasn't lying when she said that to the girl.
"Are you an actress?"
"I'm a police officer," Ash replied.
"Where's your uniform, then?"
"This is my uniform... of sorts," Ash told the girl, who looked as if she was considering this.
"Yeah, short for Henrietta, but who wants to be called Henrietta? Besides, I'm called that because my mum screamed Jesus H. Christ when she found out she was about to have me," the girl explained.
"Henrietta is a pretty name."
"Yeah, but I like being just H. What is your name?"
"Kate. Kate Ashurst, but my friends call me Ash."
"Because who wants to be called Kate?!" H said, and Ash couldn't help the laugh that came.
"Hey, you're a police officer, so maybe you might know the answer to my question. Ready?"
"Okay, I think so."
"If you tried to fail and succeeded, then what?" H looked at Ash expectantly as she waited for Ash to answer.
"Then I'd say congratulations because you've stumped me."
"That question has stumped me, too."
"H!! Get the ball!" called a dark boy from the other side of the field. H turned to him.
"I'm coming!" H turned to look at Kate for a second. "It was nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you, too, H. Have fun with your game."
"Bye." H ran off to join her friends. One of the boys stole the ball from her and she ran after him. Ash smiled before she started to walk on, making her way back toward the station for her jacket and a cup of tea. No matter how melancholic she may have felt, she still had her job to do. She walked close to a block before she felt the large droplets of rain on her head. She began to run as the water slid down her neck and inside her collar. Just as she got to the top of the station's back steps, Ash's foot twisted and she fell back down the steps and hit her head on the way. She heard the rain hitting the pavement all around her before it went black.
The afternoon nurse didn't look up from her paperwork as Scribbs walked by her. Even if she had, most likely she would have given a nod or even said a quick hello to her as she had the day before. Down the hall Scribbs went, holding the paperback book in her armpit and the vase of flowers she'd gotten from the shop a few blocks away taking space in both of her hands. Scribbs smiled to herself as she thought about the owner of the small shop, a beautiful young woman with eyes that held you in their thrall; her girlfriend had called her Luce as she'd popped her head around the door to blow a kiss. She liked the small shop because of the atmosphere there. It was a fairly new shop, and had once been the small coffee shop she'd gone to in order to escape Sullivan's replacement from Hell a couple of years ago. Scribbs wasn't sure what had originally drawn her to the shop, the rainbow flag or the friendly looking woman- Luce's girlfriend, who stood outside rearranging the flowers with so much love and care, but she was glad she'd gone in, and now she was sure she was their biggest customer as of late.
No matter how deep in thought she often got herself, Scribbs could find Ash's room with her eyes closed, which was almost the case with the flowers blinding her a bit. She cradled the vase with her right hand as she tried to get the door knob turned. In the corner of her eyes, she saw a large hand grab the door knob and open the door for her. "There you are," a deep voice said, which caused the blonde to twist her upper body to get a glimpse of her helper. He was tall and slightly tanned. He looked as if he kept himself in enough shape, though Scribbs saw the start of a belly on him. Still, she found him attractive.
"Thank you," she said with a smile before going through the door and placing the vase next to another one on the windowsill. She took the flowers she'd gotten for Ash on Saturday and added them to these newer ones, hoping it would make them look nice for a little bit longer. "Hey Ash, let's get some light in here, yeah?" she said in a murmur while she pulled at the blinds. "I heard your roommate Sharon woke up last night. You should, too." As usual, only the beeping answered her. "Alright then, what chapter was I on? Something about a Remembrall and the flying and Hermione getting all... well, like you..." Scribbs paused. "Oh quit it! Your poems put me to sleep, so we're reading Harry Potter. If you hate it so much, you can wake up and tell me off."
"Thought so," Scribbs said, trying not to sound disappointed even though she knew no one could hear it. She opened the paperback book and murmured, "Let's see... 'HARRY POTTER!' Harry's heart sank faster than he'd just dived.'... "
Scribbs read on for a while as Harry and Ron saved Hermione from a troll in the bathroom. She didn't pay attention to the woman who had come in to check Ash's vital signs and kept on reading until there was a knock on Ash's door. Scribbs stood up and stretched until her back cracked. She walked to the door, opened it and saw a man with short curly hair, dark, and hazel eyes. He smiled at Scribbs before looking behind her at Ash. "This Katie's room?"
"I'm sure she wouldn't like being called Katie, but yes, this is Kate's room." Scribbs stepped back and only then did she notice the tall thin woman of about sixty enter the room behind him. There was no need to ask who this woman was, for other than the grey speckled dark brown hair, this woman looked like her brunette partner.
"Hello, I'm David Ashurst, and this is my mother, June Ashurst." The man extended his hand to Scribbs, and she took it. Ash's brother was cute, but she felt nothing toward him. Still, Scribbs understood why Ash wouldn't have wanted Scribbs to meet him, but it'd hurt at the time.
"Emma Scribbins. Nice to finally meet you. I'm Ash's partner," Scribbs said, shaking both David and June's hand in turn.
"Nice to meet you, too. We've heard a lot about you." June said, which pleased Scribbs.
"Any signs of her waking up, you reckon?" David asked.
"Dunno," Scribbs replied. She put the Harry Potter book on the window sill next to the flowers and said, "I'll let you have some time alone with her."
"Don't let us turn you out, Emma," June said, touching her arm.
"I think there's a rule about only two people in a room at a time. Besides, I need a spot of coffee." Scribbs smiled politely, then walked to Ash's side and whispered, "What's so good in there, Ash? Why can't you find it out here? Your mum and brother are here for you, Sullivan, me... Please wake up." When she stood again, she leaned, being mindful of the sprained right hand, and kissed Ash's forehead as she had done everyday before she left. Scribbs awkwardly nodded to David on her way out, and then made her way to the canteen. She smiled at the elderly woman in a wheel chair when she was on the lift going back up a few minutes later. She didn't know why, but she had a soft spot for the elderly, especially after visiting Birch Grove and befriending Laura. Scribbs found a seat out in the waiting room and picked up the outdated health magazine. She flipped through for a few minutes until her mind began to wander.
Friday had been a hectic day to say the least. Scribbs had looked for Ash, but hadn't found her. She was about to go east towards Middleford's parks, but had gotten a call from Sullivan saying that Ash had fallen down some stairs. Scribbs had been so scared that she'd forgotten all about Dunn, until he had called from the restaurant wondering where she was. Luckily, he'd forgiven her and they'd made plans for later in the week. Knowing that Ash had yet to wake up from her coma, Scribbs wasn't so sure if she'd be able to keep those plans, either. Ash was her best friend and came before an ex boyfriend any day, and because she wasn't there when Ash needed her on Friday, she was going to be there for Ash now, no matter how long she slept.
"Scribbs," the blonde woman jerked when a hand touched her shoulder, even if she recognized the voice the hand belonged to.
"I came by to see how she was doing."
"No change yet as far as her brain activity, but her external wounds are healing well; the ankle is doing a lot better. Swelling's been down. The hand will need a few more days at least. 'Er mum and brother are with her now," Scribbs told him. Sullivan nodded.
"I'll go put these in her room," Sullivan said, slightly waving the small bunch of white flowers he'd been holding in his other hand. Scribbs couldn't help but notice that the flowers she'd gotten were better. She nodded and watched as her boss walked down the hall to Ash's room, and he stood in the doorway. Scribbs watched him extend his hand to shake hands. She let the murmur of the voices fade as she read an article about proper dieting. She didn't know how long she read, about ten minutes or so, before she heard quick footsteps and looked up in time to see Sullivan walking towards her at an alarming rate. "Come with me, Scribbs. There's something I need to tell you."
"Is everything alright? Is Ash okay?"
"Let's go outside," was all he said, which had Scribbs' mind reeling. Her spine went cold as she fought off fears of Ash's passing. That couldn't be. She'd just told Sullivan how well Ash was doing. Scribbs hurried outside with the broad man and followed him towards where the gardens were.
"Please," Scribbs pleaded, "tell me what's happened, that Ash is alright."
"She seems fine. She's awake-"
"Then why are we out here? I want to go see her."
"It's erm- a bit more complicated than that, Scribbs. I need to tell you somewhat of a story first, okay, so please..."
"You need to know that before you were employed with us, Ash and I were partnered together. I was a DI and she was my DS."
"I never would've guessed," Scribbs said. She didn't try to hold back her surprise.
"I'm not sure why, but she didn't want to tell you. It wasn't a big deal. We weren't really that close for the longest time. See, she'd been down for as long as I'd known her. She was pretty closed off, and never really talked to me about anything. Then, there was an inquiry we'd gone on, and a female suspect hit on her. She had a bit of an issue with that during the work day, and had confided in me that she's erm... gay. I told her that if she needed a cover, she could pretend to fancy me so that no one would suspect, and after that we became somewhat friends, or at least I'd like to think so. We were a pretty good team at least. Not as good as you and Ash, but pretty good, until we solved a big case and got promoted. We had to agree to not be so close anymore to avoid any problems in the workplace, as our last DCI played favorites and was obvious about it. When she was partnered up with you, it was easy to see that she fancied you right away." Sullivan watched the blonde DS closely to see if she was okay with the information so far, as he knew it was only the beginning to what he had to tell her.
Scribbs stood still. She didn't know how she felt about the news that Ash was gay. After all of the men they both had gone through over the years? It would never be a problem to Scribbs that Ash was a lesbian, or even that she'd had feelings for Scribbs all this time. What bothered her most was that she hadn't been able to tell Scribbs. She thought she'd known Ash better than anyone, and hell, maybe she had, but this? This was too big for Scribbs to not know about or even have an inkling on. She wondered what Ash must have felt all that time, keeping it in like that. Thinking back though, a lot of things made sense, like her 'bad boys' rule for one, and the almost predatory stance she sometimes took if another guy flirted with Scribbs in Ash's presence. Scribbs would be the first to admit that her gaydar was something to be desired: after all, she didn't need it much. But this, this wasn't about her gaydar or lack thereof, this was about the connection she'd had with her friend, or perhaps the lack of that too.
Scribbs finally looked up and caught Sullivan's eye, holding it for a split second until he looked away. "What does Ash's sexuality have to do with her being awake now? What is going on?"
"Er- Well..." Sullivan trailed off and put his hands directly to his sides. Under any other circumstance, Scribbs would have laughed at how fidgety he was getting, but the longer he stalled, the more Scribbs got scared and impatient. "Well," he said again, "I think that- erm- Ash has lost a lot of her recent memory, and Ash has been in love with you for six years. If that is one of the few things she does remember, it would explain why she's demanding to see her wife, Emma. Er- You."
"Scribbs, I can understand why Ash would believe you're a married couple. I've seen the two of you talk, and you banter as if you've been together for years. I've heard you argue over something trivial and not get a full sentence out because you already know what the other is about to say." Sullivan saw Scribbs shrug before he continued to speak. He knew that Scribbs saw no significance of those things, but anyone else would say otherwise. "The doctor was in briefly and he says that it should be a temporary memory loss, but it's not certain."
"What else doesn't she remember?"
"I don't know exactly. She won't cooperate with anyone until she sees you. If she thinks you're her wife, then at least the last six years are pretty much gone," Sullivan said.
"So I go talk to her and calm her down, but how'm I going to tell her that we aren't married?" Scribbs wondered, looking up at Sullivan.
"I think you should go along with it for a couple of days while she's still in here, and you could continue talking to her. Try to incorporate things into the conversation to see if she'll remember anything."
"When she does remember, she'll hate me for pulling her along."
"Maybe, but she'll soon realize that you were trying to help her get better. Anyone at the station would do the same in your position."
"How would you feel if you woke up from a coma, your wife is gone, but when she comes back, she cares for you for days, weeks- months even, only to realize she was never your wife?"
"I'd be hurt, I suppose, but like I mentioned, I'd know she was helping me, and after an awkward few days, I'd be grateful to her."
"Except you weren't in love with your savior for six years prior to your accident," argued the blonde.
"Well, you've got me there, Scribbs."
"I'm going to talk to her now, but I'll have to find another way," Scribbs told the tall man firmly.
"Fair enough," Sullivan replied as he took a couple of steps towards the doors leading inside. Scribbs trotted after him for a couple of steps, and then walked at his side once she'd caught up with him. They had just passed the waiting room area when Sullivan slowed down. "Keep your left hand in your pocket."
"While the other hand's playing the piano?" Scribbs asked. At Sullivan's blank look, she said, "Okay, not an Alanis fan, eh Boss?"
"Can't say that I am, but I'm serious about the left hand, Scribbs. I don't know how she'd react to your lack of wedding ring, and we both know she will notice it."
"Yeah, I know. Good advice." The two detectives stood in silence before Sullivan spoke again.
"You'd never guess what Ash said first thing when she woke up."
"Lemme guess: 'I need to speak to my wife so I can tell her off for reading me Harry Potter'?" Scribbs guessed.
"Close. She said, 'Ten points from Slytherin, both of you'," Sullivan replied with a grin. Scribbs also smiled, but then she got nervous. She took in a deep breath and slowly slid her left hand into the pockets of her trousers while her right hand gripped the door handle.
As Scribbs stepped into the room, she heard Ash's voice, "No- Mum, I'm fine. I just want to see Emma." Ash had obvious annoyance in her voice as she struggled to sit up. She shook her good hand (which had been held by her mother) free and raked it through her unruly hair. She winced, and her mother spoke up.
"Come on Kate-"
"Emma!" David said loudly, which got both Ashurst women's attention, "We've been looking for you."
"I'm sorry, I was in the canteen," Scribbs told Ash for lack of anything better to say. She glanced at both Ashurst women before she walked to Ash's side. Ash right away reached for her.
"No, I'm the one who should be sorry, for the fight and now this." Scribbs wondered just what argument Ash was recalling.
"That doesn't matter now. I'm just glad you're alright."
"Emma, I don't remember, but when we fought, I think I took off my ring."
"Is that what's really bothering you?" Scribbs asked, and it earned her a nod. "No Darling," Scribbs said, adding in the endearment almost too late, "your ring was found right next to you. It must have fallen off when you fell. It's at home under your pillow so I could reach for it and remind myself that you'd be home soon." The blonde hoped Ash couldn't see right through her lies. She hated the fact that she had to in order to supposedly help her, or at least she hoped it would help her. Ash sighed with relief and brought Scribbs in closer to her. She rested her forehead in the crook of the blonde's neck, and Scribbs felt Ash's breath on her collarbone.
"I just woke up, but I'm exhausted," Ash said, "And I have the biggest headache."
Scribbs had her right arm wrapped around Ash a little awkwardly, as her left hand was still in her pocket. She rubbed her friend's back and said softly, "No falling asleep on me."
"I'll try not to. I just want you near."
"I'm here, Ash," Scribbs told her, then panicked slightly when the woman in her arms stiffened.
"You haven't called me Ash since we started dating."
"I-" Scribbs had to think quickly. "I'm sure I do at work. I'm still your partner there. Besides, I wasn't sure if it was appropriate in front of company. Sullivan is here, and he's only heard me call you Ash, even when we first met and you specifically told me not to."
"Had you been anyone else-"
"Excuse me, but only two visitors in the room at a time please," a young nurse informed them, right before she looked further into the room and saw Ash sitting up. "I see the patient is awake. I'll go inform her doctor."
"There's no need. Dr. Pellow's already been informed," Sullivan, earning himself a smile.
"Alright then, but I will need at least two of you to please step out. Rules see." Sullivan nodded.
"You going to behave for the good doctor?" Scribbs asked as she heard footsteps, most likely Sullivan's fade out of the room.
"I promise." The room was quiet for another moment before there was a knock at the door. The man now standing in the doorway had pure white hair, though he didn't look older than fifty. Standing at almost six feet, he took up most of the doorway, but he wasn't intimidating, as he had a genuinely calm smile, a rarity in his profession. He waited for a reply to his knock, and then stepped in as David nodded and followed Sullivan to the waiting room.
"Hello again, Miss Ashurst. Are you feeling any better this time around?" he asked.
Blushing, Ash replied softly, "Yes, and I'm sorry for making a scene before." The doctor didn't seem too concerned with Ash's earlier behavior, and his smile remained as he stepped closer to his patient.
"I understand. It's scary waking up to the unfamiliar. Needing the comfort of your spouse is normal and often necessary. Speaking of which," he said, shifting his gaze from Ash to Scribbs. "You must be Emma, Kate's, er- wife?"
"Y-Yes," Scribbs said.
"I need to speak with Miss Ashurst for a few minutes alone, and then I'll have a chat with you separately," Dr. Pellow told her, and earned nods from both Scribbs and June.
"I'll be back in a bit," Scribbs told the brunette, who didn't try to hide the fact that she didn't want Scribbs to leave. "I'll be right down the hall if you need anything." Scribbs left another kiss on the top of Ash's head, and she seemed less reluctant to let her go. She followed behind June, who blew a kiss to her daughter before she led the way out of the room.
Once back in the waiting area, David and Sullivan rejoined the women; the four stood in somewhat of a circle until June said, "Perhaps I should go. Kate's had a lot of excitement today. I'll be by tomorrow," From the look on her face, it appeared as though she wasn't as pleased to meet Scribbs as she'd previously stated. She gave both detectives a small polite smile before she left, touching David's shoulder on her way. David looked after his mother before looking to Scribbs, giving her a reassuring smile.
"Don't worry. Everything will settle down and get better," he said. "If you need anything, here's my card." Being closer to him, Sullivan took the card and stared at it. He looked up then and nodded. David walked after the older Ashurst woman throwing, "Take care of Katie, yeah?" over his shoulder.
Scribbs and Sullivan watched him leave before the blonde DS went to the nearest chair and sat down. Sullivan followed suit, sitting in a chair that was near her with one empty seat between them to respect personal boundaries. "I've never been anyone's wife before," was all Scribbs said at first.
"It can't be so bad, can it?"
"How would either of us know?" Scribbs asked, giving Sullivan a sideways glance.
"I don't know how to be a wife to anybody. Hell, I can't even be a girlfriend at this rate."
"Don't be so hard on yourself, Scribbs," Sullivan said with a serious edge to his voice.
"I'll have to take care of Ash, and I'm not good with domestic stuff. I can't cook, I barely clean, and Ash would want that- that normalcy that I can't give her, even if it is just pretend for a few days. Besides Boss, where're we going to live and how are we going to manage our finances if Ash is in this condition? Ash is going to see through this-"
Sullivan cut Scribbs off before she could go on much longer, as he could see that she was in a panic now.
"She won't if you make it convincing enough."
"That means even more lies, and I can't do that. How could I keep up this façade for long with Ash knowing me as well as she does? She'll know when I'm lying."
"Don't quote me on this, Scribbs, but I'd guess that a lot of what she 'remembers' of you is fantasy, so I believe she's wanted these things for so long that she'll believe they've happened if, as I said, you remain convincing."
"That's still misleading and that's still lying to her," Scribbs argued.
"I know," Sullivan said.
It was quiet between them until Scribbs asked, "What'm I gonna do? There are no pictures of us together, no wedding photos, no marriage certificate, no rings- nothing!"
"Scribbs, calm down," Sullivan told the blonde, twisting in his chair in order to see her face to face. He placed a hand on her shoulder. When Scribbs looked at him, he removed his hand quickly and sighed. "I will do whatever it will take to help and to make the best of this situation. You are not alone in this. Pictures can be manipulated on the computer, I believe, and I can find you a set of rings. These things can be made or found or bought. We will find a way to make this work."
"Thanks. That actually helps a lot." Scribbs began to calm a little bit but not by much.
"As I recall, there is a picture of you two. Granted, you're in the background, but you're still together. The manipulations should take care of everything else."
"Really? When were we photographed?"
"You're in a picture from last year's Christmas party. You stayed together pretty much the whole time, so I got you in a shot as well."
"Oh yeah. We were trying to stay away from the mistletoe."
"Right, well, we could enhance the bit with you in it and make it look like you had a nice Christmas together."
"Wow, it's amazing what the geeks can do."
"Those geeks probably make more than you do."
"I know, and that makes me sad," Scribbs said with a somewhat wistful sigh.
It became quiet again between them and after a moment of watching Sullivan fidget, Scribbs handed him the very same health magazine she had looked at before receiving news of Ash's condition, and then reached for the parenting magazine for herself. She would have grabbed for the children's coloring book instead, but Sullivan was there, and there was nothing to use to color with in sight. "Here," she said, "I recommend the article on men's dieting for you to read."
"Are you saying I need to lose weight Scribbs?" the broad man asked with an eyebrow raised.
"I'm saying you need to stop jumpin' about like you're expecting a baby."
Sullivan opened the magazine and said nonchalantly, "Says the woman whose wife just woke up, sitting there reading an article about cheap diapers." Scribbs gave him a dirty look, but he didn't see it. Instead, he sat back in his chair, bringing his right foot to rest on his left knee as he flipped easily to the article Scribbs pointed out. There was, however, the faintest of smirks on his face as he did so.
About ten minutes later, Dr. Pellow exited Ash's room, closing the door quietly behind him. He spotted Scribbs right away and headed in her direction, sitting in a chair across from both her and Sullivan. He looked at his chart, flipping between the front page and the page beneath it. "Well," he began, "Miss Ashurst seems okay physically. She's healing well. Some of the information I've just gathered however, doesn't match her previous history, so I will need you to verify a few things the best you can. I was hoping her mother would still be here, but if she comes by again, I can speak with her as well. It is so hard to tell just what is true considering your line of work."
Scribbs nodded. "Sure," she said easily.
"As you know, Miss Ashurst believes that you are married, and when I asked her where she lived, she gave me a different address than what I have." Dr. Pellow covered most of the clipboard before he flipped it to show Scribbs. She nodded again as she recognized the set of numbers and letters right away.
"That is my current address," Scribbs confirmed.
"MM kay," Dr. Pellow said slowly, making a note on the bottom page. "And does Birch Grove sound familiar to you?"
"Yes, we had a case there."
"She said that you started dating 'after Birch Grove'. She seems to fully remember names and faces, but when I asked her some things about work relationships, the story got a bit fuzzy for her. Who's Sullivan?" Dr. Pellow wondered. The man at Scribbs' right raised his hand a little bit as if to answer a question in class.
"Me," the blonde said right away. "My last name's Scribbins, so that is my nickname."
"David's the brother and emergency contact, and then there's the mother " Dr. Pellow clicked his tongue as he thought. "Okay, who's DCI Kingsley?"
At this, Scribbs frowned in thought. 'Now, I know that name,' the blonde thought. After a moment of coming up blank, Scribbs shrugged and looked to Sullivan for help. He looked down at his hands as he answered. "He was the DCI before me. If you need more information on him, Doctor, you can speak to me privately some other time." Scribbs' stare remained on her boss, but he said nothing more, so she shifted her attention back to the older gentleman in front of her.
"I will," the good doctor said. He then asked a few more questions, most of which Scribbs could answer, as they pertained to the last three or so years. Others had to be answered by Sullivan, mostly because they were cases from when they were partnered together. "From what I can understand, Miss Ashurst remembers everything from about 2001 and before perfectly, but her memory seems scattered from then to the present. She knows who you are, but she is still confused on some facts about you, Mr. Sullivan. She at first thought you were a Detective Inspector, then later a Chief Inspector. I think she was already beginning to remember a little more during the time we spoke." To Scribbs, he said, "Looks like she remembers how you met as well as a couple of dates, but she doesn't seem to remember the actual wedding or anything like that. From what I can tell Well, maybe these other memories are really her daydreams."
"Yes, that would make sense," Scribbs replied with a head shake.
"She does seem distraught when you're not there though."
"Sullivan and I were talking, and he thinks that I should play the role of her wife until her memory comes back," Scribbs said. Dr. Pellow set his clipboard on his lap and folded his hands together on top of it. He sighed deeply as he seemed to think this over.
"Well, I can see the benefit of that, but I can also see where things could go wrong. Though most people with amnesia often regain their memories over time, some things just don't come back. It takes a lot of dedication to the patient to get their memories back, or at least get their lives back to what it once was before their trauma. If you parade as her wife, it may jeopardize her progress." Scribbs turned to Sullivan and gave him an 'I told you so' sort of look, but he only responded with a look of his own.
"But what about the short term, Doctor? You said yourself that she's distraught when Scribbs isn't there. If we can't get to her now, surely there would be no progress at all to speak of." Turning to look at the blonde he said, "Scribbs, you've already told her that you are her wife-"
"Because you said-"
"-so it'd be bad if you went back on it now." Sullivan went on as if Scribbs hadn't broken in at all.
"As I said, that's your call. You can get into some sort of married routine until her memories come back at the risk of them never returning, or you can break it to her gently that you aren't married but you are there for her as her friend and colleague. I'd reckon that whichever way you decide, Miss Ashurst will get hurt, and I don't know which would be worse for her."
"Damn it," Scribbs muttered. She knew that no matter what, somewhere down the line she'd come out the bad guy. She leaned forward and put her head in her hands to stop herself from panicking again. "I do want her to get better. That is the important thing," her muffled voice said.
"Yes," Sullivan agreed, "that is the important thing."
"I've scheduled Miss Ashurst for a CT scan to make sure everything's alright. That'll be at 7:30 tomorrow morning. If everything looks good, she'll be free to go home, wherever you decide that is. Whatever your decision, I'd advise you make it quickly, and believe me when I say that whichever you choose, Miss Scribbins, it'll not reflect badly upon you. You're simply doing what you feel is right for her." Dr. Pellow stood up then, and took both Scribbs and Sullivan's hands. "Talk to her mother and brother. Find some pictures from the last eight or so years to see if that jumpstarts her memory- and keep me updated if anything stirs."
"Thank you, Doctor."
"No need. Good luck with everything."
Once the good doctor was out of sight, Scribbs sighed. "Well, I guess I'd better go tend to my wife, eh?" she asked. Sullivan's smile was encouraging, but she didn't want to see it at the moment. The two of them stood at the same time and were once again silent. Then Sullivan did the unexpected and gave Scribbs a quick but awkward hug.
"I'll- erm- go do some research at the office. You know, pull up case files, especially about Birch Grove. We'll figure this out. Together, you know?"
"Yeah, thank you for that." Scribbs replied.
"Will you be in tomorrow? You can take the day off if you want."
"No, I'll be in, though I may leave early to visit Ash."
"You got it," Sullivan said, and then walked out the same way David and June Ashurst had almost twenty minutes previous. Scribbs watched him go, and then walked in the opposite direction towards Ash's room once more.
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