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
Ash felt a slight pain on her injured wrist and opened her eyes. Sometime during the night, she'd wrapped her arm around her lovely wife and the dangling limb had gone a little numb. She slowly slipped her hand from Scribbs' side, her fingers gliding along the skin and felt the blonde jerk a little bit. She wanted to do it again and watch her squirm a little bit more, but she didn't. She wanted to wake Scribbs up so that they could have their talk about the argument from the night before, but then she thought, 'what would that really do?' The blonde had said something really hurtfull, and it was obvious that she didn't mean it, but Ash's heart pounded. She had been piecing together evidence for almost fifteen years, but never had it been so complicated. She got the feeling that even if Scribbs told her everything and they were able to patch up their marriage, there would still be something missing. Her instincts would still tell her that though it felt truly right, everything was still wrong.
By god, she loved this woman. It was one of the only things she truly knew upon waking up from her coma. Something was different with Scribbs, but Ash didn't know how to say what it was. As Scribbs' eyes slowly opened, Ash felt that pull towards her that would always be familiar to her. "Good morning," Scribbs said slowly, placing a hand on Ash's.
"Good morning," Ash replied.
"I'm sorry," Scribbs offered.
"I know," Ash told her wife as she sat up, "I'm sorry too."
Scribbs too sat up and said, "I know that the phone calls were a little suspitious, but I get the feeling that That there's something more you're just not telling me, something that led you to believe I'd cheat on you."
Ash often forgot that Scribbs was also a detective, and a damned good one at that. "It's just Ever since I woke up, you've been so- How should I say- Hesitant. Distant. At first, I just thought that I was being vulnerable and that the situation was so weird for us both, but then it continued." Ash stopped for a second, but Scribbs stayed silent, feeling that her friend had more to say, and she needed to hear it. "You would call me Ash instead of Kate, you never kissed me and barely returned the ones I initiated, you don't keep eye contact for very long, and not once have you said or returned an 'I love you'. And on top of that, you'd leave the hospital quickly, barely spending any time with me. When those two men called, I didn't know what else to think except that you're having an affair."
Finally, Scribbs spoke after she took in what Ash was telling her. "When all of the clues lead to one thing, how could it be wrong?"
"Except in our profession, it has been wrong," Ash added in, "on several occasions. I hoped "
"I'm sorry I made you feel bad, Kate, but of all the men I've been with, not once have I cheated when I've considered them my boyfriend. It wouldn't have changed just because I'm with you."
Ash's eyes narrowed, then she asked, "If it isn't an affair, then what is it? Is it the fight we had before I fell? Did I say or do something-"
"There was no fight before the fall," Scribbs said gently.
"Tell me," Scribbs coaxed, fearing Ash would clam up again.
"I remember right before the fall, I felt I was talking to you, and then you said something, and I left. I felt hurt."
"Yes. I made plans with a friend you didn't like, forgetting that I'd first made plans with you. There was no fight," Scribbs said again, "You just walked away from me. I never meant to hurt you."
"Then why are you so distant from me?" Ash asked, turning so that she wouldn't have to look at Scribbs, or lose her resolve by looking at her wife at that moment.
Scribbs stared at Ash's back for a moment before she stood up and walked to the bedroom window. "Because you're right. It has been weird for me too. I've been trying to push through all of that because you need me. I'm supposed to help you through all of this because I know you'd do the same for me-"
"Oh, in a heartbeat."
"But everyday I keep wondering if you'll ever get your memories back to the way they were before you fell. There is so much that you need to remember, Kate, out relationship in its entirety- everything. Now, I know I'm supposed to be strong for you and everything, but the truth is, I'm scared. What if you don't remember the life we used to have? Our memories as they were?" Scribbs felt the sting of tears in her eyes, but she refused to cry. Shuffing was heard and the blonde soon felt arms around her middle.
"Shh," Ash soothed. "That doesn't matter, Emma. We can make our own memories just like we did in the past. As long as I have you " Scribbs turned in Ash's arms and though she already knew the brunette meant her words, the look in her eyes solidified them. The one spot inside Scribbs that had been stirring the last few days made itself known. She knew that if Scribbs asked her to, Ash would prove it to her, but the blonde already had any and all confirmation. Scribbs had never seen this intensely romantic side of Ash before, even when she had first dated Alex the crybaby, though Scribbs had by now suspected that relationship was a front. " the rest doesn't matter."
Scribbs saw Ash lean in for a kiss and she met her halfway. She felt again the passion Ash had for her, and she allowed it when Ash deepened the kiss. She tried to tell her chest to calm down, that it was just Ash, but she couldn't keep her breath at its normal rhythm. Ash ended the kiss, surprisingly, and Scribbs looked up. "And I do love you, Kate," Scribbs said, but her thoughts continued, 'Though not in the way you want me to.'
Ash smiled. "I love you too Darling."
"Are we okay now? No more not talking?"
"We're fine now, I think," Ash said, letting go of the blonde.
"Good. I need to go shower," Scribbs said as she got her clothes and placed them on the bed, "unless you want to join me," she continued teasingly. Ash smirked as if to think about it, but she didn't say anything while Scribbs went into the bathroom. She stripped quickly, eager for the feel of the water on her skin. Though admittedly, it felt nice to sleep next to Ash again, the contact of two bodies left her feeling a little too warm, as it always did.
Scribbs sighed as the shower brought a slightly colder spray over her. She lifted her arms to allow the water to flow down the sides and on her underarms, taking a mental note that it was time to shave again, just not that morning. Looking at her calves and shins, she mumbled to herself that they needed attention too. Just then the door to the bathroom opened. "Ash?" she called instinctively. Scribbs got no response. She couldn't help the feeling that she was in a horror movie moment waiting to happen. She saw Ash's shadow on the wall just outside of the shower curtain before it was pulled back a little bit and her very naked partner stepped in. "A- er Kate, what-"
"I'd be mad to go out to the kitchen after a sexy blonde just invited me to shower with her," Ash said, her voice dropping to a tone Scribbs had only heard once before, only that time Ash was describing the tone a bloke had taken with her on a date once. Scribbs wonder briefly if that date had even happened.
"Oh," Scribbs said, cursing at herself when her voice shook a little bit in her nervousness.
"What's the matter?"
"N-Nothing," Scribbs replied a little too quickly. She took Ash's shoulders and switched places with her, pushing her into the spray.
"Emma!" Ash all but shrieked.
"Sorry, didn't want you to get cold," Scribbs offered lamely.
"Cold?! This water's freezing!"
"No it's not. It's just fine," the blonde protested. Ash didn't say anything and turned around to turn the shower nozzle to her preferred warmer temperature. Scribbs stared at her partner's back, her eyes moving down to her rear before looking away quickly, unable to believe that she'd just checked out her best friend, nor the fact that she could feel herself getting turned on by the sight. She couldn't stop herself from looking again, only this time something caught her eye that hadn't before, a patch of greenish skin at Ash's left side. Scribbs reached out and softly placed a couple of fingers on the bruise. Ash jumped at the contact and turned quickly.
"I'm sorry. I I hadn't noticed that bruise there," Scribbs apologized.
"It's fine. It looks worse than it ever felt."
"Still " Scribbs said slowly, noticing how Ash rested her right wrist on her stomach.
"It's fine," Ash repeated, this time being a little more insistent. Scribbs watched Ash's face for signs of anything unspoken and saw nothing. "Satisfied?" Ash asked. Trying not to blush, Scribbs nodded. "Good, now come a little closer. You're acting as if you've never seen me naked before.
"Scribbs wanted tp say that she hadn't, not completely like this. She'd seen her in her underwear many times when they'd go shopping, and even then Ash would get shy around her and tell her to turn around. This time, Ash freely exposed herself to Scribbs, and the blonde stood stupidly, staring at her and getting turned on. "You're so beautiful," Scribbs finally said when she finally realized that Ash expected a response of some sort. Apperently, Scribbs had said the best thing possible, abeit numbly, because Ash smiled a shy though happy smile and took a step into Scribbs' space.
"I'm glad you think so," the brunette said, placing her left hand on Scribbs' hip. The blonde DS jumped this time with a squeak, but there was nowhere to move away to, and with how her lower anatomy was beginning to tingle, she wasn't sure if she really wanted to. Ash's hand remained on Scribbs' hip and with a small pressure, drew the blonde winto her. Scribbs became hyper-aware of their bodies sliding together as Ash leaned in to kiss her. Just when Scribbs was starting to get used to kissing Ash, the brunette changed things. Before, Ash's kisses were nice and slower, usually conveying something that Scribbs just wasn't picking up, but this new kiss was more familiar to her, as it was charged with lust. It was a lot easier to return this kiss because, though she didn't want to admit it, she felt the same way at the moment.
Scribbs could feel Ash's hands move across her lower back, onto her hips again, then down to her rear. Ash pulled her in again and Scribbs had to step forward a bit. The two women's chests touched, and Scribbs slid her hands under Ash's arms to grab the back of her shoulders. Ash arched her back a little bit and moaned. Scribbs felt a heat that had nothing to do with the near- scorching water that cascaded onto her arms and Ash's back. She didn't count the moments they stayed that way, with one of Ash's hands almost possessively on the blonde's rear while the other wrapped around her waist as they kissed. She was unaware of the air that drifted through the shower curtains, or the droplets of water that went out, creating a small puddle on the floor.
Suddenly, Scribbs felt the water get cold. Ash arched her back and broke the kiss. "Whoa shit!" she cried. She moved as quickly as she could out of the spray. That meant pushing Scribbs into the tiled walls, which wasn't much warmer. Ash quickly got out of the shower, her foot landing in the small puddle and slipping a little bit. She caught herself and grabbed for one the two towels. Scribbs reached out to turn off the water and then opened the shower curtain. Right away Ash held out her hand and Scribbs took it long enough to keep her balance, then took the towel Ash handed her. She saw the smirk on her partner's face.
After both detectives were out of the bathroom and a little more dry, Ash stood behind Scribbs and placed a kiss at the crook of her shoulder. "Where were we?" she asked, her voice low. Scribbs didn't need to turn around to know that her look would be a bit predatory.
"Mm, if we start up again, I'll be late for work."
"You're always late for work, even if we leave together." Ash said easily. Normally, there would have been a bit of scolding in those words, but this time it was just pure fact and nothing more.
"Yes, well "
"Your skin is flushed. You may have the flu. Better stay home, just in case," Ash murmured into her ear. Scribbs was almost sold to the idea.
"And play hookie?"
At this Scribbs turned to Ash's twinkling gaze. She could swear she had stepped into an alternate reality. Perhaps in her own world, she had been the one to fall, not Ash, and when she woke up, this was the result. "What about your rules?" Scribbs asked.
"You keep referring to these rules. I don't remember much about them, but I'll bet I broke half of my rules when I met you, and the other half when we started dating."
"Sweet talker, but seriously, we're going to have to finish this later."
"Oh, I plan to," Ash said as she reluctantly let go. Scribbs wasn't sure how she felt about that promise, but she watched as Ash went to their wardrobe and got out some of her clothes to wear as the DS began to dress in the clothes she picked out earlier. The blonde felt somewhat weird about dressing in the same room Ash was dressing, but they had already been frisky in the shower, so she knew that she would never feel weird in Ash's presence ever again.
After Ash and Scribbs got dressed, the two made their own breakfasts; Ash opting for toast again, and Scribbs choosing a treat she hadn't had in a couple of months: a sugar puff drink. Surprisingly, the sight of the cereal got no response. Not even a grimace. Instead, just when Scribbs was about to put the lid on the blender, Ash put her hand in the way, then lifted it long enough to put in about a teaspoon of cinnamon. Scribbs stared at the added ingredient in disbelief. Had Ash really the gall to mess with the sugar puff drink? "Try it. I promise I didn't ruin it," Ash said.
"How would you know? You won't go near it," Scribbs replied, but she pressed the start button after replacing the lid. She watched the specks of brown mix with the pink and the blue. Once completely blended, Scribbs poured about half of it into a glass and took a tentative taste, aware that Ash was watching her closely.
The difference was noticeable right away. 'Ash just perfected the sugar puff drink. Until now, I thought that was impossible!' Scribbs thought, but instead she shrugged. "S'okay," she said nonchalantly.
Ash still grinned in that way that said she'd won. Although. the brunette's toast popped, so she didn't get a chance to gloat. The two then sat down together and silently enjoyed their meal.
After a moment, Ash spoke. "I've been thinking, yesterday was a nice rest, but I need to do something today. I did some hemming, but I finished far too quickly, and that was before you know, the calls and such."
"Your brown jacket was ripped, so I fixed it for you. I remember how much you loved that jacket before you changed," Ash explained.
"Before I changed?" Scribbs asked again, feigning innocence. She wanted to test Ash's memory some.
"You know you did. I've always wanted to tell you that I liked the old Scribbs, but the new look seemed to make you happy, so I never did. You just seemed more comfortable the other way."
"Oh," was all the blonde could say. "Thank you for mending my jacket. I do sort of miss wearing it."
"So, er- if you're so bored around here, what would you like to do today while I slave away at work?"
"You can still call in sick,"
"Not when I'm supposed to be there in half an hour," Scribbs replied, looking at the clock on the wall.
"Can't blame a girl for trying," Ash said lightly, then continued, "I don't know what I'll do, really. Run some errands, rearrange the furniture a bit. I like what you've done with the living room while I was away, but it doesn't feel right."
"Change it any way you like, but be careful of your arm; anything bigger than that lamp and I'll help you."
"Thank you, Sweetheart."
"Just do what feels right. You'll have to drive me into the station, then you can do whatever it is you need to do today."
Ash nodded and finished her toast.
Scribbs stood and went to her wardrobe, grabbing the brown jacket. She put it on and felt a little more confident, as she always did when she wore it. When she got back into the kitchen, Ash was shrugging into her own coat as she opened and closed her hand a couple of times. Though there was no sign of pain on the brunette' face, Scribbs still went to help her before going to get her pain medication, just in case. She knew now how well Ash could hide pain. She could only hope that Ash really felt better.
"Is everything alright?" Ash asked, her voice cutting into the blonde's thoughts before they could bring her mood down any further. Scribbs smiled.
"I was just about to ask you that," she said.
"I'm fine. My wrist is only sore, but it'll get better, I think."
"Good," Scribbs replied. She searched around for her keys only to see them dangling from Ash's index finger in front of her face a moment later. "Okay then, let's go." The two women left the flat, and right away she saw her elderly neighbor Ms. Joyce, who stared as they walked by hand in hand. They got to the car and Scribbs got in on the left side, something she wasn't used to doing.
Ash made small chatter as they went along, commenting on the weather, and Scribbs followed along. When they got towards the police station, Ash fell quiet; they'd pulled up almost right next to where she had fallen.
"Give my mobile a ring later and I'll come get you," Ash said as Scribbs opened the door. She quickly leaned back and kissed the brunette, who looked pleasantly surprised by it.
"See you tonight," Scribbs said before leaning in to add, "I love you."
"I love you too," Ash returned. Scribbs closed the car door. She went up two of the stairs and saw Sullivan there at the top, waving at Ash. When Scribbs turned, she saw Ash waving back, obviously happy to see him, and the slight nervousness Scribbs usually saw was gone. What Scribbs had just witnessed was a greeting between two fairly good friends. There was no sexual tension there at all.
At the top of the stairs, Sullivan said with a smirk, "I saw that."
"Yeah? You and everyone else."
"So, things working out okay?"
"Sort of, we had our first row as a married couple, but we worked through it this morning." An image of their morning activity flashed in her mind, and she immediately turned red. She saw a couple of people giving her a strange look, which meant that those who didn't know about Ash's fall the day before certainly knew now. Those looks saved her though, as Sullivan seemed to dare someone to say something, and this gave her face some time to return to normal coloring.
Once they reached Scribbs' desk, Sullivan said, "I'm not sure what to do with you today, Scribbs. I'll give you a choice. DI Mathews' partner is on maternity leave, so you could accompany him on his inquiries or- and I hate to ask you this- but you could stay here and help me with um, with the paperwork, since I'm buried and can't get to it." Sullivan looked apologetic, as if Scribbs might explode for being used as a secretary, but she actually didn't mind. She didn't want to go anywhere with DI Mathews. It would've been awkward.
Scribbs and DI Mathews had dated once, a long time ago before he'd been promoted. Things were fine at first. He was a nice, handsome funny bloke, but he was crap in bed. Scribbs was willing to go without. It didn't really matter to her at the time, but his pride had been wounded and he wouldn't let it go. They'd kept trying different things, but no matter what it was, they just couldn't seem to get excited for each other, and they broke up after about two months.
Of course, Scribbs wasn't about to share that information with her boss, so she gave him the second truthful answer. "I'll stay here. I don't think I want to go on any inquiries without Ash. I'll want to be in a place where I can answer the phone if she calls and needs me." Scribbs said, and Sullivan nodded. "Besides, I offered to help you yesterday."
"At the time, I thought I'd have the time to get it all done, but then we moved Ash's stuff, and I was too tired to do anything else come ten o'clock," muttered her boss, still sounding sheepish.
"No problem. I'm starting to sound like David." Scribbs said. Sullivan smiled, and Scribbs turned on her computer. Sullivan left and came back with two thick folders.
"I just need the white sheets typed. All the others, the yellow and pink, can stay. This folder on top is the most urgent, but I think it can wait until Friday at the latest." Sullivan said, setting both folders next to her.
"I'm on it," Scribbs said, opening the folder on top as well as the computer program used to input case information. It was the same program she's used the day before, only this time she typed in Sullivan's name and passcode, written on a sticky note instead of her own, and got to work.
"Thank you Scribbs," Sullivan said and then left her to get her tasks done.
Scribbs' mind began to wander soon after eleven o'clock. She couldn't stop it any longer. She wondered, if the accident had never happened, if Ash would have ever come out to her or to anyone. But then, as if the future was more important than the past, she started wondering what Ash was doing that day, what errands she was running at the moment and if her wrist would be able to stay good for them. What exactly did Ash feel she needed done before she felt Scribbs' flat 'felt right'?
As if summoned by Scribbs' thoughts , Scribbs' mobile phone went off and she saw Ash's number. "Yeah, Love," she answered.
"Hey, Beautiful, I'm just outside of my bank. Do we not have a joint account?" Ash asked.
"No, we still use our own accounts," Scribbs said. There was a slight pause.
"No, Sweetheart," Scribbs repeated. When she got some odd looks, she spun in her chair so her back was to the majority of the people in the office at that time, and stared at the wall.
"I can give you any information you might need to create one. We just never got around to it."
"You won't mind if I create a joint account today?"
"Not at all, let me just move to a spot with more privacy."
"Alright," Ash said. "How's work?"
"Boring without you."
"No one there for you to annoy?"
"No one here who would put up with it the way you can," Scribbs replied as she left the office areas and walked outside. She walked around the building to where she saw the small garden and bench. She sat down on the bench and said, "Alright. What information do you need?"
Ash quizzed her on her information, some of which she should have already known, and Scribbs rattled off the answers off the top of her head the best she could. When Ash seemed satisfied, she told Scribbs that she'd have to come with her to finish the application process, to which Scribbs agreed.
Eventually, Ash started to bring the call to a close. "I've got to get back inside, it's a little cold out here at the moment. When we get back home, I've got a surprise for you." Ash said.
Scribbs' eyebrows rose. "Oh, really?"
"Nothing frilly or anything like that," Ash said a little quickly, and Scribbs could almost see her roll her eyes. "You'll see later tonight,"
"Well, okay then," Scribbs said, "I'll ring you 'round three or four."
"I love you."
"I love you too." Scribbs replied. The two women hung up at the same time and Scribbs made her way back to her desk, where her mind began to wander again. She couldn't help but to be curious about Ash's surprise. Her partner was right about Scribbs thinking the surprise involved something frilly. If it wasn't anything like that, then what was it? Had Ash rearranged the furniture already? That wouldn't actually have surprised Scribbs, as she'd been expecting it even before Ash ever mentioned it. Still, it would be interesting to see what 'their' flat looked like in Ash's mind.
This thought lead Scribbs to wonder what other things Ash might be used to, or what else may have been changed in Ash's mind. The blonde looked down at her desk, then twisted around to look at her mended brown jacket and smiled when a thought came to her. Ash would be getting a surprise of her own when she got home as well.
When Sullivan came back from a meeting three hours later, he walked past Scribbs' desk and did a double take. The blonde in the DS' place giggled as Sullivan stared at her. For him, it was like taking a pleasant stroll down memory lane. Now all he needed was for Ash to walk in with one of her rants and raves about well something. "Scribbs, you look Well, it's nice to see you again," Sullivan managed to spit out.
"Thank you," Scribbs replied, running her hand through her now shortened hair. She'd snuck away during her lunch break and had gone back to the place where she used to have her hair cut, and been surprised to find her favorite stylist was still there. It seemed all the talk of going to Hollywood to be the hair dresser to the stars had come to nothing. Despite Scribbs' long absence she had none the less received a warm welcome from the people there, which had surprised and pleased her.
Now that she had her hair style from a few years ago to accompany the brown jacket, she had to admit that she'd missed 'old Scribbs' as much as Ash must have. Though Scribbs had initially had the haircut for Ash's sake because she felt her partner was used to that look, Scribbs had also done it for herself. She hadn't realized until that morning just how different she had been from her old self. Thinking back, now, she knew the reason for the initial change: men. It was simple, really; men were somewhat less intimidated by her more feminine look than the- dare she think it- butch look. Right before she was due for another hair cut three years ago, she'd noticed that the guys she dated were nicer to be around. But though she got better responses from men, Ash was right when she said that Scribbs was naturally more comfortable this way. Somewhere down the line, she had become insecure about her looks, and Scribbs didn't like that aspect of her new self. This way, she was always self confident and sure that she looked good.
Scribbs walked through the rest of the afternoon with a smile on her face, as every few minutes she'd be complimented with statements identical to Sullivan's. She was surprised by how many people appeared to have missed 'old Scribbs' as well. She was about halfway through the second file before she decided to call it a day. She'd typed Sullivan's most urgent files, and she was proud of that. Perhaps she'd leave a little early the next day.
Scribbs took out her mobile phone and called Ash. "Hello Beautiful," Ash greeted first thing. "Are you ready for me to come get you?"
"Yeah. You're pretty scary when you get this cheerful," Scribbs commented, "Should I be expecting something weird when I get home?"
"Nothing weird, I told you that. I'm just I'm happy, that's all," Ash said, and Scribbs heard a little bit of defensiveness in her partner's voice.
"Alright. I'm glad you're happy. You must be pain free, I take it?"
"A little sore, but manageable," Ash told her, which was the same answer as earlier. Scribbs made a note of that. She hated feeling as if she had to watch the brunette's every move just to make sure there wasn't a hidden statement or something not being said. She didn't want anymore surprises. She knew that there was at least one (well, other than the surprise Ash had for her a little later), but she hoped that was it.
"Good," Scribbs said finally.
"I'll be there in a few,"
With that, the two hung up, and Scribbs wondered again what Ash's surprise was, deciding that it wouldn't be a bad thing. Scribbs shrugged into her jacket and sighed, glad that the day was over. She felt the wind in her now short hair, and it felt odd, yet wonderful.
A few minutes later, Scribbs felt she would have paid a thousand times more than she had for the haircut just to get Ash's reaction to it. The brunette's eyebrows rose up high, and then a smile crept up on her face. Scribbs was surprised by the naughty look she received. It clearly said, 'I'll get you eventually.' As Scribbs got into the passenger seat, Ash said, "You look really good."
Scribbs grinned and looked away. "Thank you," she said as Ash pulled away from the curb. Then she asked, "So, how did all your errands go?"
"I actually didn't get around to doing too many. Most of it was rearranging the furniture and getting the joint account," Ash said as she drove them along the roads to the part of town with the shops. The brunette didn't speak for a couple of minutes and Scribbs didn't know what to say at the moment as she watched where they were headed, which wasn't the direction of her flat. After a couple more minutes, Ash parked the car in front of Callie's Small Pet Shop, and her blonde partner turned to her, confused.
"Why are we here?" Scribbs asked.
Ash turned her body so that she too was facing her partner. "I wanted to talk to you about that."
"Okay " Scribbs replied, unsure if she wanted to go into another deep discussion with Ash so soon.
"I don't know if we spoke about this before I fell, but Well, ever since I've gotten home, it hasn't felt right there, and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why. I could rearrange furniture until my back tore, but it wouldn't have helped. It wasn't until I'd gone to the bank that I understood why that was." Ash looked away for a second and then met Scribbs' eyes, as if she wasn't sure she even wanted to bring this up.
Scribbs placed her hand in Ash's hoping Ash would find the courage to continue. The brunette sighed. "Except for the marriage license and a couple of pictures around the flat- that I don't even remember taking- nothing is ours. I mean, we're in a flat that you'd originally moved into, and we sleep in a bed that was originally mine, but looking around, I noticed that we never went out and bought anything together."
"And you'd like to pick out a pet together?" Scribbs questioned. She wanted to say that a pet was a lot of commitment, but she couldn't, not to the woman she claimed to be married to.
In response, Ash nodded. "I know we both don't like dogs, and I'm not very fond of cats."
"And I don't like rodents, and I doubt you'd appreciate a reptile in the house. I really don't think we're pet people, Kate."
"I've thought about that, and I think we'd be okay getting a fish together. It'd be a simple pet to care for, and they're decorative. It would be a little more meaningful than simply getting curtains."
"I have no problems with getting a fish," Scribbs said thoughtfully, and Ash smiled. The blonde had thought that if anyone in the relationship sprung for getting a pet, it would have been her, but apparently, she was wrong.
As the brunette leaned in to kiss Scribbs' cheek, she said, "I'd think not, seeing as I'll end up taking care of it, anyway."
Opening the door, Scribbs replied, "I'd protest if it weren't true."
Hand in hand, the two women walked into the pet shop, where they were instantly greeted by chirps and squeaks from many birds in cages in front of them. Scribbs looked further into the shop where she saw a young woman sweeping by the rodent cages. The young woman greeted them and pointed to the far left of the shop when they asked about the location of the fish.
There wasn't a large selection of fish to begin with, mostly goldfish and an assortment of fresh water fish, but nothing really seemed to catch their attention. Ash walked by the small table with six small beta fish in small containers stacked as a pyramid. "Look at these guys," Ash said, and Scribbs followed her to get a better look. On the table next to the betas was a small page describing what the fish were and how to best care for them. Scribbs stared at a couple of them and saw right away their appeal. They had beautiful coloring. Two of the betas were dark blue, while one was red and the rest had a range of pinks to them. The blonde looked closely at the slip of paper. "Kate, the paper says that we need a small fish bowl or container to keep it in."
"Like a vase or something."
"Yes, but you forget that I'll be there, too. Knowing me, I'd trip on myself and knock over the bowl and end up killing the little guy."
"I don't think it would be anything like that," Ash said, but there was a smirk there, and Scribbs didn't believe her.
"Is this the type of fish you'd like to get then?" Scribbs asked.
"Well " Ash looked hesitant. "I don't know. Do you like these?"
"Yeah, I like them. Decorative, too, just like you said. I'll tell you what, you pick out the color and I'll name it. That way we got him together."
"Why do I get the feeling that I'll regret saying yes?"
"Because you will," Scribbs replied. Ash made a face that included her scrunching her nose at her wife. The blonde only grinned.
"Well in that case, I really like this blue one here with the bit of black."
"And his name will be Upy," Scribbs decided, seemingly without thought. She laughed at the high eyebrows her partner was giving her.
"Upy? What kind of name is that? I'd understand if you ended up calling him Dory."
"Every kid with a blue fish is going to want to call it Dory. Besides, I think we've already decided that he's male and I didn't want to emasculate him."
"But why Upy of all names?"
"Because that is what it looks like he's saying everytime he opens his mouth."
"I really should have seen that answer coming," Ash said, more to herself than to the blonde beside her. "Alright then."
The two women told the young clerk what they wanted, and she was kind about helping them find the right food and habitat in which Upy would live. They chose to get a ten gallon tank with a filter as well as a lot of rocks for the bottom. Then the detectives paid for it all and got back to the car and drove home.
A few silent minutes later, Ash said, "Thank you for doing this for me." She looked briefly at her wife and saw how young Scribbs looked with the haircut, jacket, and now Upy in her lap.
"You should feel comfortable and happy in your own home," Scribbs said, her gaze going out the window.
"This is true."
"I hope this helps," Scribbs said as the car reached a stop light. The blonde placed a hand on Ash's knee, and looked form the window to her partner's eyes briefly, then she removed her hand when she saw that the light had changed.
"I hope so, too.
Scribbs and Ash discussed for a couple of minutes where Upy would've or should've been placed before they both decided that he'd look good on top of Scribbs' smaller bookshelves next to where she'd put the marriage license David had made for them. It was the only place where he'd add to the décor and be in a spot where it would be easy to access it when they needed to feed him. While they admired Upy for a moment, Scribbs shrugged out of her jacket as Ash stood behind her, her arms slipping around the blonde's middle.
"How's your wrist?" Scribbs asked Ash.
"It's been fine all day," Ash murmured in her ear.
Ash sighed, breathing in her wife's scent, and buried her nose in her short hair before placing a kiss on her neck. "Mm, I love you haircut, honey," Ash said.
"Glad you approve," Scribbs replied, leaning back into her partner and tilting her head to offer more of her neck before she realized what she was doing. Ash placed another kiss on the flesh she'd been given access to, and Scribbs let out a sigh herself. She felt the flutter on her pulse point, as well as the fingers on her stomach as Ash's hand slipped under her shirt. Scribbs turned within Ash's light hold so that they were face to face.
Their lips crashed together, Scribbs' hands locking together behind the brunette's head before her arms hung over Ash's shoulders. Ash's hand continued to move under the blonde's shirt and the light touches on Scribbs' back tickled, causing her to arch into her partner more. There was no denying how good Ash's touch felt, how good she felt in Ash's arms that morning. She hadn't felt that in a long time, she knew, but she couldn't quite remember which one of her ex boyfriends had ever made her feel that way, that loved, that safe.
Ash's hands moved upwards and Scribbs felt her lungs fill quickly when the hand worked at unhooking her bra. Ash pulled away long enough to look at the blonde DS. Her eyes burned into Scribbs, blazing in a way so unlike the night before when Ash had been angry. "Let me take you to bed, Darling," she said, her voice low.
Scribbs let herself catch her breath. "Yes."
Ash took a few steps backwards, slowly guiding them to the bedroom. At one point, she backed into one of the walls and the two women broke apart, although reluctantly. Ash took Scribbs' hand and together they briskly walked down the small hallway into the bedroom. Scribbs' mind and heart raced, both with the excitement and nervousness. This would be the first time Scribbs did more than kiss a woman, and she'd be doing it sober. She could feel that need to be with Ash in that way, but she was still scared. This could be the one thing that would clue Ash in to what was reality and what were her own daydreams. If Scribbs didn't 'measure up', Ash would know something was wrong.
Ash's calves touched the mattress as she turned around and kissed Scribbs quickly. Then she lifted the blonde's shirt and watched as the bra slipped from her shoulders, having been unhooked moments before. The brunette's arms went around Scribbs' bare middle, Ash gently pushing the blonde back onto the bed. Scribbs, however, lost her balance. They fell together, Scribbs letting out what sounded like 'yeep!' Ash giggled and then continued to feel her wife's skin. Lips met Scribbs' chest, and Ash's kisses fluttered lower until her mouth surrounded the blonde's left breast. A moment later, Ash's good hand traveled down under Scribbs' underwear, her fingers slipping through the slit between the blonde's legs.
"It's been a while, hasn't it? Two weeks since I touched you last?" Ash wondered as the feel of Scribbs coated her fingers.
"Longer," Scribbs murmured back.
"I can tell, Love, but something's different."
"Hm, different?" Scribbs could hardly think. All she knew was that Ash's finger dare not stop. She tried to keep up with this conversation, though her breathing picked up in its rhythm.
"This Touching you feels different. Not bad. Not at all, but it's as if the images in my mind these two weeks are nothing compared to the connection I feel right now." Ash's finger moved a little faster as she leaned in to kiss Scribbs. "It feels new to."
"It's new to me too," Scribbs confessed, knowing her partner wouldn't know exactly what she meant. As her climax came, she wanted to call out her partner's name, not the name she'd been known as the last few days since she'd been awake, but the name she'd used for the brunette over the last six years. She wanted to cry out "ASH!", but she didn't, instead she called, "Kate!" It somehow felt fake even though she was calling out the same woman's name.
Scribbs caught her breath a little bit, only to be left breathless again when their lips met once more. As their kisses turned playful, Scribbs took all of two seconds to debate her next move. Taking Ash completely by surprise, Scribbs rolled over on top of Ash. Ash struggled halfheartedly, as if for show, but stopped when she saw the look on Scribbs' face. The DI wondered what would make her wife look as if she was preparing herself for something. Her thoughts dissolved when Scribbs sat all the way up, but left her hands on Ash's chest. She moved her hands slowly up and down from the shoulders to the clavicle. When Scribbs got a little bolder, she allowed her hands to move lower, rubbing over Ash's breasts and then the brunette's stomach. The blonde's fingers snuck under Ash's shirt a few times to feel the smooth skin beneath and then went back up towards the shoulders.
Ash lay under her wife, wondering what had happened to the seductive and confident woman she'd married. 'She seems almost scared to touch me. Is she afraid she'll hurt me because of my fall? Doesn't she know that her touch could only heal me? Their eyes then met, and not knowing why exactly, Ash nodded. Scribbs swallowed, and her hands left the brunette's chest long enough to undo the top button on Ash's shirt, then another until it was open and at her sides on the bed. Scribbs' eyes took in the sight of her new lover in a way she wouldn't let herself in the shower that morning. Ash had a beautiful slim frame, which on many occasions had been mistaken for fragile, even by her. Over the years she'd learned better, but though she knew Ash's exterior could take quite the thrashing, she began to wonder about the brunette's interior, her heart.
Scribbs' eyes followed her hands down towards her own thighs where Ash's skin seemed to end, and she shifted on all fours and began to move backwards. It amazed the blonde when Ash made no attempts to stop her, nor did she even ask questions. She trusted Scribbs in the way she couldn't before. There were no walls up now for either woman, and as Scribbs helped Ash out of her jeans, she felt her nervousness grow. The brunette's hips lifted to assist Scribbs and the blonde noticed the bruise that'd caught her attention that morning in the shower. After the jeans were tossed somewhat carelessly to the side, Scribbs kissed that bruise. There was a small, mostly healed cut on Ash's shin, and Scribbs ran her hands over the brunette's hips and thighs, down her knees to her shins. Her fingers brushed lightly over the cut, and then wrapped around that calf. Scribbs felt the muscle there twitch. Perhaps her touch tickled, but she didn't test that theory.
Scribbs' eyes roamed upwards, to Ash's stomach and chest. As if reading her mind, Ash sat up a bit to remove her bra. Scribbs massaged the shoulders where the straps had been, before her hands explored the skin around and on Ash's chest, watching as the brunette's nipples hardened. Scribbs saw Ash's pale skin flush and found it beautiful. As she leaned back and hooked her fingers in Ash's underwear, Ash moved her long legs out and Scribbs wasn't sure what she wanted to do from there. She'd seen porn. A lot of it, but she'd also seen a lot of ER. It didn't make her an expert in lesbian sex or open heart surgery.
Scribbs had felt good when Ash's fingers touched her. She let herself settle at Ash's side at the same time her fingers entered Ash. The brunette's eyes closed, and she took in a deep breath. As their rhythm increased, Scribbs knew Ash was being a quiet lover, and though she didn't want it, she'd expected it. "Don't hold back, Kate. This is me. You trust me, and I trust you. We don't share curtains, but we have this. This is ours, Kate."
A few moments later Ash cried out Scribbs' name and the blonde let out a sigh, thinking that all those other people who had ever dare pass Ash by were stupid. How could they have not seen the strength and beauty Ash possessed? At the twinge of jealousy at the thought of someone else noticing this in her partner, she felt it all click into place for her. 'Is this what it means to fall in love with you, Ash?' she thought to herself as she settled into the brunette and let Ash hold her in an embrace. When a few moments later Ash's stroking hand moved downward and grabbed at her rear, Scribbs said, "I never knew before now, how much you seem to like my arse."
Ash shrugged and said shamelessly, "It's a fine arse." She gave the said body part a squeeze and the blonde squeaked. The two women's giggles could be heard as they wrestled, which initiated another round of love making.
Later, as Scribbs held Ash close and gently scribed circles on her wife's stomach, she wondered, 'If I fell for Ash, would it be such a bad thing? Would it make me gay? What would it really matter if we could be happy this way?'.
Scribbs awoke the next morning breathing in deeply. She looked at Ash and couldn't stop the warm smile on her face. She knew then what Ash must have felt for her those six years, and wondered if she too, maybe to a degree, had always felt this way for Ash. She remembered Birch Grove, and she remembered reaching out for her partner in the middle of the night. She'd been more than half asleep then, but she'd wanted to hold her so much. When she had realized that Ash was no longer with her, it'd forced her to wake up. Scribbs used her shoulder to lift her head above her wife's sleeping form long enough to see her alarm clock. When she saw that she still had over a half an hour, she settled in again, leaning in to kiss Ash on the forehead.
The brunette's eyes opened a little bit. "Good morning," she said, her voice thick with sleep.
"Morning," Scribbs replied. Ash leaned in for a kiss. Scribbs was aware of the desperate need to brush her teeth, but she kissed her wife anyway. "I love you," the blonde said softly, and then kissed her again.
The two detectives continued their languid snuggling for the remainder of Scribbs' half hour before the alarm clock went off. Ash twisted her body to turn it off. "Well, there's that," Scribbs muttered as she slowly got out of bed.
"I'd join you, Love, but I'm too comfy here," Ash said.
"Rub it in," the blonde replied good naturedly. She stretched before she realized she was still nude and was in fact giving Ash a good show of her body. After what they'd shared the night before, Scribbs seemed unconcerned by this, and even gave her rear a little shake as she made her way over to get her clothes for the shower. She could feel Ash's eyes on her as she got to the bathroom and started the water.
Scribbs' thoughts were light and carefree, and she let the song in her head take hold of her. She didn't sing, though she couldn't help but want to. As she got out of the shower a few minutes later, having shaved her legs and underarms, she looked at herself in the mirror only to see a sight that made her eyes widen. Right on a very visible part of her neck was a red dot about the diameter of a centimeter. She looked through her make up kits for her concealer, knowing that even if there was makeup over it, someone would still see it up close.
Scribbs hurried through getting her clothes on, and then went to Ash's side. She sat on the bed and leaned in to kiss her wife, pulling away a moment later when Ash's hand traveled up her shirt. "Are you sure you want to go off to work? This bed is oh, so warm and the blankets are soft and I'm still quite naked." Only then could Scribbs sympathize with the men in Greek mythology who crashed to the rocks because of the Sirens' call. Ash could see that she almost had the blonde hooked to the idea, and pouted somewhat when Scribbs stood up.
"Evil tease," Scribbs said fondly. "I'd give anything to stay with you, but unlike you, I don't have many leave days left, so I've gotta go in." She continued, "Besides, one of us needs to keep Sullivan on his toes."
Ash appeared to be considering this. "Alright," she finally said, taking the covering off of her body, "but I'm not going to make it easy for you." The brunette grinned when Scribbs' eyes roamed her body with a flush of desire on her neck. The blonde swallowed.
"I can be late," she said, crawling over Ash's body and putting the blanket over the both of them. "If I was on time someone might worry." Ash laughed at this, but it broke into a moan as Scribbs took revenge on her for the hickey on her neck.
"You're late," Sullivan stated, dipping a tea bag in and out of the mug in his hands.
"Yes- Sorry, there was this thing with Ash."
"Is everything alright?" Sullivan asked with a hint of concern and alarm in his voice.
"Yes, she's fine. It was just a uh thing." Scribbs finished lamely. Sullivan stared at her for a second, his eyes flickering to Scribbs' neck and then away. In that moment, the blonde knew that her boss knew.
"Right, yeah, a thing well please be on time tomorrow. DI Phillips and I've been waiting for you. I want you to accompany him on an inquiry. His partner called in so he could stay with his son who's got a cold," Sullivan explained. Scribbs nodded with a small blush on her cheeks. She went to find DI Phillips, which wasn't too hard, as he was sitting at her desk waiting for her. They left after a nod of acknowledgement.
"Your wife do that?" DI Phillips asked once they got into his car. He gestured to his own neck, and Scribbs shrugged. "Needs more makeup," he commented before unlocking the door for the both of them and getting in on the right. Scribbs, being used to driving, tried her best to stay quiet the rest of the way, as DI Phillips made her seem like a safe driver.
The inquiry wasn't very long, twenty-five minutes at the most. The woman they were questioning about the disappearance of her teenaged daughter was changing her story often, and the DI, not having much patience for it, left to the car early on. She got back to the station after giving her notes to DI Phillips. When she got to her desk, she turned her mobile phone back on to find that she had two messages. Looking at her call log, she saw that both Ash and Chelsea, her sister, had called. Chelsea had called first. Her sister never called unless it was her birthday, and, as it wasn't her birthday, as far as she knew, Scribbs hoped there hadn't been an emergency at the moment she had tried to get a hold of her.
She called her sister. Two rings in, Chelsea answered her phone. "So, you're Scribbins-Ashurst now," she said first thing. No hello, as was her way. "Mum's gonna be angry you didn't call to let her know that you'd eloped."
"I thought the point of eloping was to get married and not tell anyone," Scribbs responded, not answering the other bit.
"Well, you could've called afterwards."
"I would have, had we actually eloped."
"What'd you do, vow your love in front of a couple of friends in a union or something?"
"No, we never got married."
"But your friend Ash is your wife now," Chelsea stated in attempt to get the facts together.
"Yes, I mean Yeah, she's my wife," Scribbs said.
"It's a long story. One you'd probably know if you called me more than twice a year-"
"Hey, I don't see your name flashing on my mobile on a weekly basis, either," Chelsea countered. Scribbs rolled her eyes and let it go. They'd been through this argument more than Scribbs had ever recited any of Ash's rules. She didn't go into the fact that she'd tried to call once a week, but Chelsea never answered or returned her calls, so she had eventually given up trying.
"Well, the only way you'd know Ash and I are married is if you'd rang my home phone number."
"I tried to get to you there when you didn't pick up the mobile, and got Ash. That's how she answered it by the way, as the Scribbins-Ashurst residence. She sounds like she's doing well. I've only met her a couple of times, but I could almost swear that wasn't her." Chelsea said.
Scribbs shrugged, but her sister couldn't see it, so she said again, "Yeah." After a few seconds of silence, she asked, "So why are you ringing both my mobile and my home phone number to get a hold of me? Did something happen with you and your new guy?" For the life of her, Scribbs couldn't think of Chelsea's boyfriend's name. She'd never met the man, but he sounded like he was a good match for her sister. He made her happy, which made Scribbs happy.
"No no, Kael's still my one and only. I wanted to check up on you. I kept thinking about you lately, and got this urge to call you. Now I know why. I also wanted to let you know that mum's changed her phone number again. I think she saw something on the telly that got her scared like last time."
"Okay, what is it?" Scribbs asked, grabbing a pen and a post it note to write on. After Chelsea rattled off the phone number, Scribbs said, "I wish she'd stop watching those shows. She knows that they only scare her."
"Eh, who knows what goes through her mind," her sister replied. "Hey, do you have the time to tell me the long story about you and Ash?"
"I don't, actually. I'm at work. If I ring you near the weekend, will you answer the phone?"
"If I can, yeah."
"Okay, I'll call you then and tell you what I can," Scribbs told her.
"Alright. Have a good day."
"I will. You too, bye."
Scribbs ended the call and then was about to call Ash's mobile when her own phone went off with 'Ash' as the display. "Hello Beautiful," she greeted, and heard a small masculine laugh on the other end as a response.
"How flattering, but I doubt your wife would appreciate you flirting with another man," David said.
"I'm calling because I've got Katie here hostage."
"Oh no!" Scribbs said, playing along. "Not my beautiful wife. I'll do whatever you want to get her back."
"The price is lunch. Yes, a picnic lunch at Britannia Park at twelve thirty." David's voice sounded more and more like the Wicked Witch of the West, and Scribbs could hear her wife's laughter in the background.
"But wait! How do I know that you haven't already tied her to the railroad tracks?" Scribbs asked. There was a slight shuffling sound and a small laugh right before she heard Ash's voice.
"I'm sorry Emma, he's-" she was cut off with more shuffling.
"ENOUGH! You know my price, and you know what you must do."
The line went dead after that, and Scribbs wondered what it must have been like for Ash to grow up with David in such a mood. Did she play along then or did it just annoy her.
About an hour later, David and Kate Ashurst walked in, and Ash was stopped a couple of times by well wishers before she made it to Scribbs' desk. She sat on the desk next to her, and the blonde looked up. Scribbs wanted to mention the many times Ash had frowned upon that, but she wouldn't have remembered. "Hey," she said instead. She could feel eyes on them as if people were expecting them to start making love right in front of them. Ash looked good, though, with her hair up in a ponytail and her fringes just about hiding her eyebrows. She wore the Coldplay T-Shirt she had gotten Scribbs for her most recent birthday. Scribbs had forgotten that she even had it. Other than the times Ash had been nude, this was the most casual Scribbs had ever seen her. She looked younger than Scribbs at the moment.
"How's your day been so far, kidnapping aside?" Scribbs asked.
"I'd still be in bed if David hadn't stopped by," Ash said, "Said he took a bus all this way just to annoy me. How thoughtful." David laughed and Ash scrunched her nose into a face that Scribbs couldn't help but laugh at as well. Scribbs watched as David went to Sullivan's office and struck up conversation with him as Ash took a hold of her hand.
A moment later, he came back and said, "You're free until two thirty, so let's go."
Scribbs stood up and followed Ash, who followed her brother outside to their car, where David got out two bags containing their picnic. Scribbs looked up at the sky. The clouds weren't yet dark enough to make rain, but she doubted that would last. Still, she liked the idea of a picnic. "We're going to walk to the park there by the school," Ash informed her when they started walking away from the car.
"Oh," was all Scribbs could say as they walked along path and neared the primary school. "So, was there a memo I somehow missed that says people must bother their siblings today?"
Ash looked at her wife. "Why do you ask?"
"First Chelsea calls me out of the blue, and then David drops by for a picnic. Is everyone out and about with their siblings?" she asked.
"Maybe," Ash said somewhat noncommittally. She shrugged. The trio walked along the fence that separated the pavement from the school yard. Ash stopped for a second by the playground as if to look for someone, but, though there were the sounds of children in the car park, no one was playing on the grass before them.
Scribbs was about to ask her wife what the matter was when she heard, "Miss Ash! I hoped that was you!" Down the pathway where the fence met with their pavement was a girl of about eleven running up to Ash with a wide smile on her face. Scribbs noticed the uniform tie loosened, as many kids' did at that time, and she was pulling her hair back as she ran.
"Hello again, H," the brunette called back; there was also a look of recognition and a happy smile on her face. She watched as the girl trotted over to the trio and Ash stared at the girl until she got closer. "I almost didn't recognize you without all the mud."
"Gah, not you too. You sound just like-"
"H!! Where are you going?!" called a familiar voice to the blonde DS. They all looked from Ash and H's reunion to the woman calling for the girl.
"My sister," H finished. When Rachel approached, she looked surprised to see Scribbs there. "Rach! This is Miss Ash, the woman I told you about last week, remember?"
Rachel looked between Ash and Scribbs, and then quickly to David. Her gaze went to Scribbs before her eyes flickered to the detectives' linked hands. "Your Ash is THE Miss Ash?" She let out a small laugh. "Ha, this place IS small."
The grip on Scribbs' hand tightened slightly. "Emma," Ash said uncertainly, looking from Rachel and then back to H.
"Kate, this is Rachel. You know those flowers you love so much that I got you in the hospital? Rachel and her partner Lucy own the shop I bought them from."
"Hello," Rachel said, extending her hand. "It's nice to finally meet you. Scribbs- Emma has mentioned you. You already know H, it seems."
There was a small smile at the girl before Ash gestured towards David. "This is my brother, David."
David held out his hand as if nothing about this was out of the ordinary. "Hello. Pleasure. We're on our way to Britannia Park to have a picnic. If you're not in a hurry, you're welcome to join us."
"We sort of are, actually. The shop gets busier close to closing time. We can't leave Lucy to fend for herself. Thank you, though." Rachel said, and she really did look regretful. H looked as if she were about to sulk a little bit before she suddenly brightened.
"Could they come over afterwards for dinner then? We're usually done by six."
"It'll be a late supper," Rachel said.
"He just said they have plenty to eat now. It could be enough that they could wait," H reasoned. Rachel looked at the Ashursts and Scribbs.
"Would you be interested?" she asked. Ash and Scribbs shared a quick look, and then Ash nodded.
"Yeah, that sounds like it would be a nice evening," the brunette responded. Scribbs nodded. Rachel looked to David for his answer.
"Sadly, I'll be unable to attend. I've got to make a train by 4 or I'll be stranded in Middleford for the night," he explained, and the thought of that didn't seem to please him.
Rachel nodded at this with a smile, and said, "I'll talk to Luce, and I'll ring you. I need paper, H." The preteen shucked her backpack and in two swift movements had a notebook open and a pencil ready. Scribbs rattled off her mobile number and Rachel tore the page. "It was nice to finally meet you Ash. I did wonder."
"Nice to meet you, too. Those flowers from your shop are lovely."
"You can thank Luce for that. Well I'll give you a ring no later than four."
With that, the five parted, and the Ashurst siblings continued to pick on each other. Scribbs listened to their banter and couldn't help but think about her own sister and the joke about the memo. It was an odd coincidence that Ash knew H and Scribbs knew her older sister Rachel. More than that, Scribbs was glad that H was a real person and not a made up memory. She didn't know what she would've done if Ash had asked after the girl and she didn't exist. She wouldn't even know how to tell Ash something like that.
The three made it to the park, and even before the blanket could be set down, David had taken out his camera. Scribbs didn't mind it, but Ash hid her face a couple of times in Scribbs' shoulder. "For Christ's sake, David!" Ash cried when her brother kept practically chasing her around for a facial picture. The curly haired man laughed, then aimed his camera at Scribbs, who stood tall and struck a pose. After that, David was content to take nature pictures while Ash and Scribbs ate and chatted softly together, every now and then being joined by David.
About twenty minutes later, David's mobile went off. "Ello?" David listened for a moment before a frown formed on his face. "Where was Annie in all of this? I saw her car right before I left for- Yeah. Well, tell Mr. Bloedell I'll be back tonight. Apparently, Mr. Oxford isn't so wonderful after all. Yeah. Bye." There was a sympathetic look that passed between the Ashurst siblings. "Work."
"I'm going to have to go. Sorry to do this to you, Emma, but I'm stealing my sister again."
"I'm his lift to the station," Ash told her, taking her hand. She gave it a quick kiss and squeeze before letting go. The two women packed up the picnic stuff with some of David's help after he made one more call, then he took a couple more pictures. The three walked back the way they came, and Scribbs saw how empty the school was this time around. They made it back to the station a few minutes later and Scribbs walked the Ashurst siblings to the car. Ash whispered, "I'll get some wine and meet you here in a couple of hours." Scribbs gave Ash a parting kiss and watched them exit the car park; slowly, she walked back to her desk and continued her tasks.
At around four as promised, Rachel called to confirm their dinner, and in turn, Scribbs called Ash at home and relayed their dinner plans to her.
After work that evening, Scribbs went home with Ash and they both took turns taking a shower. There were heated kisses in between, but in the end, both women dressed on their own. If they'd made love in the shower, there would've been no knowing how long it would have taken for them to get ready. Ash had shown Scribbs the wine that she'd ended up buying, and she saw that it was a good brand. She approved, though she shouldn't have been surprised to know that Ash would choose the best wine for the occasion. Looking at the clock after Scribbs' shower, there was a few minutes left before they absolutely had to leave the flat in order to still be on time. Ash and Scribbs decided to use that time, spending it in each other's arms, exchanging their kisses and snuggles before they left the flat again.
When Rachel had called Scribbs at close to four o'clock that afternoon, she had given her directions to Hampden Court, which was the part of Middleford where the newer homes had sprung up over the last five years. At the time, Ash didn't approve. "Like we need more potential murderers here," she'd said on a particularly bad day. Scribbs, however, liked the new homes. She liked how modern the whole neighborhood looked, and had almost considered buying a flat in that area.
After slight bickering between the two detectives on whether to turn left or right at Hampden Court, Scribbs was able to get them into the drive. The only reason they knew it was the right one was because they saw Rachel waving at them madly from inside the flat. Scribbs secured the car and Ash got out, carrying the wine up the stairs to Rachel, who'd just opened the door.
"Hi! Hope you made it okay."
"Yeah, we did fine," Ash replied as she handed over the bottle.
Rachel admired it for a second as she read the label. "Ooh, thank you! This should go fairly well with supper." She reached out and gave Ash a one armed hug and then waved them inside. Ash waited for Scribbs to join her on the steps before she walked into the house, extending her hand behind her for her wife to take. Scribbs grabbed her hand, letting their fingers link. The two women could smell the food in the next room and shared a look. Both of them were getting hungry.
"Honey," Rachel said, "company's here." She looked to her left, where the kitchen was, and the detectives followed her gaze. There, Scribbs smiled as she saw a familiar redhead dealing as usual with greenery, only this time it was broccoli instead of rose stems. Without a word between them, Rachel went over to the oven where Lucy was standing and her spot there. "I'll finish here. You go ahead."
Lucy agreed and walked towards the two detectives, wiping her hands on a tea towel on her way out. She then reached out her hand to shake theirs. "Nice to finally- formally meet you," Lucy said, looking to Scribbs as she said the last part. Scribbs smiled again as she shook her hand. Lucy then looked to Ash. "So you're Miss Ash. You're very popular here, I must say. Plus, with Scribbs- Emma coming in for flowers for an Ash, we were very curious about you." The redhead looked Ash over for a second as if to line up the mental images of her to the woman standing before her. "I'm Luce."
As they walked further into the house, a loud thud could be heard from upstairs. Lucy looked up the stairs with a small scowl on her face. "H," she said to her guests. "She hasn't been downstairs since we all got home," Lucy explained. There was another loud thump at the top of the stairs this time, which forced Lucy to call out, "Careful up there!"
Suddenly, the large thumps turned into smaller ones before H was seen hopping down the stairs. She had on a maroon sweater with the Gryffindor crest on the heart, and a black skirt. Her hair was pulled out of her face with a black hair band, and her small golden star earrings showed. She smiled somewhat sheepishly at Lucy before looking between Ash and Scribbs. "I'm so glad you guys made it," she said.
"Of course we made it," Ash replied, looking at the girl as if she was mad for thinking they wouldn't come.
"Did you find us alright?" H asked, and Lucy nodded as if to also ask with her own facial features.
"We've been out this way before, but being new homes, it was hard to tell them apart," Ash told them. This was another one of her arguments against the new homes.
Lucy nodded as she listened to this, then she said, "I'll show you the downstairs here, since I'd been a few minutes from being finished with the cooking before Rachel took over. I can finish the tour later if you like." She went to their living room and showed them outside to a beautiful new garden that Rachel and Lucy were building with H's help. She then indicated the entertainment area, where Scribbs admired the combined collection of movies. Then they sat on the couch.
"Well, the insides of these homes look spacious, even if you can't quite tell from the outside," Ash offered.
"Let that be a lesson to you," Scribbs murmured, but in a louder voice so that Lucy and H also heard her. As the twelve year old giggled, Lucy smiled at the remark.
"I always thought that building these houses was a bit like playing Tetris for the construction workers," H put in. Ash and Scribbs smiled, both knowing that the blonde DS would've probably described it the same way.
"So how long have you lived in Middleford?" Scribbs asked after a slight pause.
"Er, we moved in here about seven months ago. We're from London originally, but after Rach and I got together, things became awkward with Rachel's friends, and H got teased at school because of us."
"You'd think living in London, there'd be more acceptance."
"It wasn't really London; it was the friends and family there." Lucy shrugged. "We shopped around and decided to look for something completely new. Middleford seemed like a nice place to live. Surprisingly lesbian friendly."
Scribbs bit back her comment on how it could really be in Suburbia, but she supposed she only felt that way due to her job. "Yeah, this does seem to have become the place that lesbians migrate to," she said instead.
"Lesbians and gold diggers," Ash added.
"Lesbian gold diggers," Scribbs completed. They shared a small snigger, which earned them an eyebrow raise from Luce even as a smile snuck onto her lips.
A few seconds later, Lucy went on, "We were in the process of moving when Rachel's parents decided they wanted to go on holiday to fix their marriage, so we had H come live with us. Part of me thinks Rachel's mother hopes to plant H here so that we would start thinking about having children of our own, giving her grandchildren, but that's between you and me," Lucy said.
H nodded enthusiastically. "I wouldn't mind having a niece or nephew."
"You're twelve. You'd be the youngest aunt I've ever known," Lucy said. She put a hand on H's head, applying a little pressure as she rubbed the top of it, which caused the girl's head to wobble about playfully. H frowned as she tried to slap Lucy's hand away. Then Lucy placed the hand on H's shoulder and H leaned into her. If Scribbs didn't know otherwise, she wouldn't have known that H and Lucy weren't related by blood. Lucy looked to Ash and Scribbs. "We like having H here, but after seven months, she probably misses her friends in London. Don't you?" she asked, looking down at H, who shrugged.
"Not so much. I mean, after Natesh broke up with me so that he could date Natalie, I've been better off here with you. I think the arrangement is perfect. I only wish Mum 'n' Dad would move here, too." At this, Lucy tried to hide her look by facing away. Both guests didn't need to use their detective skills to know how Lucy felt about that thought.
There were sounds of dishes being moved about in the kitchen, and Lucy said to H, "Go help your sister." She gave a quick pat on the shoulder and added, "We'll be in there momentarily.
H nodded and walked quickly into the kitchen area. The three women heard her announce, "I've come to help!"
"Oh good!" they heard from Rachel. There was more clanking. Ash and Scribbs looked at each other, both wondering how Lucy must go through hell living with both sisters under one roof.
"Would you two like some wine with dinner?" Lucy asked as the three slowly followed the trail that H had taken a couple of minutes earlier. There was a hesitance to answer. Ash nodded when Scribbs shook her head.
"I'm driving, so I shouldn't be tempted." With that, H opened up the refrigerator and offered the many other beverages that she drank on varying occasions. "I'll have what you're having," Scribbs finally said, and watched as H got out a fruity red drink and poured two glasses. Then she put the glasses on the table next to the place setting where Ash had set her wine glass. Knowing that Scribbs would sit next to Ash, H set her own glass next to Scribbs' place setting and sat in that seat.
Rachel transferred food from the cooker to serving dishes and placed a couple of them on the table. Lucy went to help her, and before the couple sat down they shared a quick peck on the lips. Lucy looked to her guests to gauge their reactions; she found they were unfazed by the exchange, and they had, in fact, appeared glad that both of them were open in their relationship. "Well, eat up, then," Rachel said.
"Yeah, 'cause if we don't, it's lunch tomorrow," H put in. Scribbs couldn't tell how the preteen really felt about the idea, because H's tone was disgust but her face held some delight at the idea. How she pulled it off was something else entirely.
"I thought you liked it. I made it for you," Lucy said.
H smiled. "I do. I was joking," she said.
"Brat," Rachel said fondly.
Ash watched the exchange between sisters, then looked down her right at both H and Scribbs, noticing again how similar they were. She'd seen it at the park when they'd made the dinner arrangement, but up close, their personalities shined almost the same.
There was a moment where nothing was said and everyone took the first tentative taste of the main course. "Rach? Did you add more salt?" Lucy asked in a lower voice so that she didn't embarrass her partner.
"Yeah, why?" Rachel asked in response, looking to her sister, who seemed unconcerned with the state of the food, and if H didn't like it, something was certainly wrong. H wasn't as picky as the rest of them.
"I'd already added the salt, honey," Lucy informed her, trying not to smirk. Rachel's look was apologetic to Ash and Scribbs. "Let it be known that if it's too salty for you, its Rach's fault."
"I'd still eat it," H offered, right before taking a large bite to prove her point. "You could always make more without any salt, mix it in with this batch, and there, my lunch for the rest of the week. Two birds, one stone." H tapped her temple twice, an action that caused Scribbs to giggle and her sister to grin at the girl in amusement.
"Thanks, H. Will consider that," Rachel said, then looked to her guests, "but seriously, if it's no good, I can make something else."
"No," Scribbs said, trying to be polite, "mix it with the broccoli and it's just fine. Don't go out of your way." Ash did just that, and then nodded in agreement.
"Thank you. This is lovely," Ash added in once she's swallowed her bite. Rachel smiled gratefully at them and then gave her girlfriend a look that seemed to say, 'See? They like it well enough, so shut up.' In response to the look, Lucy took Rachel's hand.
"I think I'm in trouble," Lucy murmured. "On the bright side It could've been Heck cooking." That earned a chuckle from Rachel, and there was a small look of relief from Lucy.
A few minutes later, H put her fork down, chewed thoughtfully, and then looked to Ash as she swallowed her bite. Both detectives could tell she wanted to ask a question, but had to use her manners and wait. H drank from her cup, and then asked, "So, you two are married, yeah?"
Ash, having food still in her mouth, simply nodded while Scribbs said, "Yeah."
"For how long?"
"Not even a year yet," Scribbs replied.
"Did you date long before you got married?" H shot at them, and Ash started to feel sympathy for anyone stuck in the Interrogation room at the station with her and her wife.
"It felt like we did for much longer than we actually had," Scribbs told the girl. 'That should be a good enough answer,' she thought to herself.
"Yeah, but how long did you actually date?" H pressed.
Ash looked over at her wife and asked, "How long ago was Birch Grove?"
Scribbs thought back on it and said, "Two years maybe?" Doing the math, Scribbs had to make up a specific amount of time they'd been married. "So, we dated about a year and a half before we got married," Scribbs concluded to answer the girl's question.
"Since lesbians can't get married here, did you get a union thingy?" At the term 'union thing', Scribbs was reminded of her phone call with Chelsea earlier that day. H seemed to have forgotten the food on her plate, as the topic interested her and Scribbs was answering all of her questions. She decided that even if she hadn't been the wife of Miss Ash, she'd have liked her.
"No, we have a marriage certificate from Canada," Scribbs replied. She too gave up on her meal for the time being. "It means that by Canadian law, we are married, but it isn't recognized here."
"Why haven't you gotten a union thing here, and be married here? I know it's not quite the same, but at least you'll be married here, too."
"H, let them eat!" Rachel cut in, though she was also curious about Ash and Scribbs' relationship. When she first met her, Scribbs had spoken of Ash as a friend, but was now her wife. Of course, Rachel knew that the possibility of the women living a somewhat closeted life, especially with people they'd just met was there, but something was off about that idea. Ash looked at Scribbs in a way that was too open, much in the way she herself looked at Luce. If they were hiding at all, they would've taught themselves to hide that look in front of other people. Rachel knew that it wasn't something she could bring up in this setting and would have to find a way to speak with Scribbs alone.
"No, it's okay," Scribbs assured her hostess. She looked from Rachel to Ash, locked eyes with her for a fraction of a moment, and then spoke directly to H. "Like you said, getting a civil union isn't the same. It wouldn't have felt the same, and even though we were married in our own sense, it was just a lot more binding to actually hold onto that marriage certificate even if it was from another country."
H was nodding as she listened to Scribbs, and when she was sure she could, she asked, "Did you have a wedding?" The girl wondered in her mind what a wedding between two women- these two women in particular would have looked like. She just couldn't picture either one of them in a wedding dress like Rach had been, but she could imagine Miss Ash in a suit of sorts, much like the suit she was wearing during their first meeting at her school's playground. H thought Ash would make for a handsome 'groom'.
Scribbs looked over to Ash, who had a look of concentration on her face. She looked as if she was trying to remember these things that Scribbs was telling H, but the blonde could tell she was drawing blanks. Part of her wondered if all of this was making things worse on Ash and her memory, even if it might do good for their marriage. Scribbs stayed silent for a moment, not sure how to answer the girl's last question. She could feel the curious looks from the others around the table.
"No," Scribbs replied after a moment, "we didn't. We sort of had a short little ceremony where we stood in front of the people that we knew and loved, and said out vows to show our love for each other."
H took this information in before she asked, "How many people were there?"
Scribbs took a drink of her juice as a way to give herself a little more time to think. If H asked many more questions, Scribbs would soon enough dig herself too deep and she'd eventually have to flat out lie. As it was, Scribbs was using her knowledge of the both of them to guess what sort of arrangements they would've made together had they really gotten a wedding. She continued to do that, seeing as so far it worked out okay. Ash had yet to cut in with some other ideals that she'd conjured up in their six year friendship. "There was Kate's mum 'n' dad, her bother David, our dear friend Greg," The blonde tried not to twitch when she said that about their boss, but was relieved that feeling by adding, "who's our boss, but has been a really good friend of Kate's since before I met her. Then there was my mum and my sister Chelsea, who brought my niece Marcie."
Thinking about her sister and aunt's wedding, H nodded again and thought about the guest list, which, she knew, would've been greatly changed and reduced from Rachel and Heck's. Her parents joked once that they'd paid plenty for Rach's wedding the first time around, so they were glad that she'd be marrying a florist the next. Even they knew that Rachel loved Lucy enough to marry her eventually. The twelve year old let herself think on this some more. She knew that if Lucy and Rachel were to get married, their parents on either side, which included a new stepfather for Lucy, she herself as ring bearer of sorts, Miss Ash and Miss Scribbs hopefully, and a couple of scattered family that seemed unfazed by the sudden divorce from Heck. Speaking of, Heck would of course be invited, as Rachel and him were still friends, but H wasn't sure if he'd attend since he was writing his second travel book.
H wasn't sure if there would be many other people there to attend the wedding, as neither woman had made any other friends than the two detectives sitting with them at the table. This worried H a little bit because she cared for Rachel and Lucy as they cared for her, and to close themselves off to some of the people in this town wouldn't be good. The fact that they also made no hints or plans to get married kind of bothered the girl as well, as she knew that her sister was wary about being married again. She'd once admitted to H that she was afraid of possibly having the fear of commitment, and of that being part of the reason she ran to Lucy to begin with. H had told her sister that it was rubbish, that Heck was just meant to be with her, not Rachel, and if only they had listened to that when she was six Though that had gotten a laugh, it didn't seem to ease any of that fear.
With these thoughts floating through H's head, the preteen fell silent as she finished eating her food. Scribbs and Ash both watched the girl, waiting for her to start up with another round of questioning, and were surprised when she didn't. Scribbs used some of this time to eat some of her own food, mixing her vegetables with the main course. She wasn't lying when she told Rachel that it all tasted just fine while it was all blended together. The main course gave the vegetables a little more flavoring, while at the same time, the vegetables took flavoring away from the noodles.
All the while, Scribbs watched H, hoping she hadn't said anything that had offended the girl or made her feel bad in any way. She had done her best to answer all of her questions in the best she knew how without feeding her a bunch of lies. For the moment, the blonde saw that she was fine, not hurt or angry, but contemplative of what had been said.
Ash, too, remained silent and continued to eat. Having not done much of the talking, Lucy, Rachel and Ash finished at about the same time. The brunette waited until Lucy stood up to take care of some of the dishes before she too got up, quick to lend a hand. Pots and pans were heard as the women worked together. Rachel took this moment to stare at Scribbs, as if she was willing her gaze to burn a hole in the detective's head long enough to catch her attention. When the blonde woman looked up at her, they shared a quick glance before Rachel's head gestured quickly towards the kitchen with a question clear on her face. Eyes darting to H and back to Rachel, Scribbs noticed that H wasn't even paying attention. Scribbs got Rachel's message but pretended that she hadn't. Rachel knew that she had gotten the message and hoped that she could catch her alone soon because the curiosity was killing her.
The blonde DS had sensed Rachel's confusion earlier that day when Ash was introduced as her wife, and she didn't know what to tell Rachel now. Though Rachel was a good person, they'd only just formally met, and she wasn't sure if she wanted to involve her and Lucy in Ash's complete situation. It was obvious to Scribbs that Rachel wasn't stupid and knew that something was up, but Scribbs couldn't bring herself to go into it with her, especially with Ash in easy ear shot.
To escape Rachel's stare, Scribbs also stood up, even though her plate wasn't completely empty. She took one last bite en route to the kitchen and placed her plate where Lucy told her to. Scribbs didn't realize until she almost collided with her that H was right behind her. The kitchen was crowded now, so after a short silence, Lucy suggested, "Why don't you show Ash and Emma the upstairs."
"Please, you can call me Scribbs," the blonde DS said.
"Right," Lucy agreed with a smile, then looked again to H.
This seemed to put the preteen into action and she linked her arm with Scribbs'. "Yeah, I can show you my room, too." She said. She seemed to wait for Ash, but the brunette shook her head.
"Actually, if you don't mind, I'd like to stay and help clean up." She looked to Rachel and Lucy after H shrugged, and they both made their gestures of agreement.
"Though you don't have to," Rachel added in to make sure the DI knew that it was fine either way.
"I'd like to. That way it'll be done faster," Ash insisted. She didn't add in the fact that she hated a dirty kitchen, no matter whose it was or whether she was a guest or not.
With that, Scribbs was carted away up the stairs. H pointed to this and that, though the DS saw that there wasn't too much to look at on the stairs. It wasn't long before Scribbs found out why. As they neared the top of the stairs, H pointed to a nail sticking out of the wall. "That's where I accidentally knocked off me mum and dad's photograph," she felt the need to explain. After witnessing- or rather, hearing H's behavior on the stairs, Scribbs figured that the girl was a bit accident prone. The detective continued to follow H up to the top, where she saw a couple of pictures hanging up of Lucy as a teenager, and one of Rachel from not too long ago. One of H's school photos sat framed on a small table next to a vase of fresh lilies.
H pointed out Lucy and Rachel's bedroom as well as the toilet, then she opened up the door to her room. "This is my room," she announced, though it wasn't necessary. Scribbs looked around the slightly smaller room and knew right away what H wanted to be when she became an adult, or at least, she knew the girl's passion in life. She saw that the whole room was painted blue with cut outs of planets and solar systems. There was a large printed satellite photo of Middleford, where H had written 'you are here' under a circle, and an arrow pointed at it.
Scribbs walked further into the room to inspect the homemade poster, and saw after only a few seconds where and her and Ash's flats were, along with the police station and her favorite pub. Scribbs smiled, looking away from the poster, and her eyes landed on plastic glow in the dark stars. It took her an extra moment before she realized that these stars had been placed in the Plough constellation. She was going to comment on that when she saw the telescope in the corner by the bed and the window. On the wall next to the window, an image made Scribbs laugh outright, for a cut out picture of Marvin Martian and his dog in a space ship was there, along with cut outs of Josie Lawrence, Tony Slattery, Colin Mochrie, Clive Anderson, and Greg Proops from Whose Line is it Anyway, who were positioned in a way that made them seem trapped inside the ship with wide eyes and silent screams. The tail of the ship had Ryan Stiles hanging on for dear life as they all seemed to head for the moon.
Along that same wall, a desk with a computer and computer chair sat cluttered with disks and other pictures of galaxies and constellations. Scribbs saw that the computer itself was an older model, probably used only for games and possibly a word processor. It didn't seem as if it was connected to the Internet. Looking at the disks and small boxes on the desk, she knew that she was right about that. She smiled, knowing that she would've loved to have had H's room when she was younger.
H stood in the doorway, watching as Scribbs seemed to admire and appreciate the personality within her room. She knew that as soon as her parents got back to reality, she'd go back to London and live in a room pretty much identical to this one in Middleford, but she was glad that Lucy allowed her to make it hers. "Are you preparing to be an astronaut?" Scribbs asked her, ending the silence between them.
"Not just that," she told the detective, "I'm going to be the first Prime Minister of Mars."
Scribbs' eyebrows rose at how sure of this fact H seemed to be. "That's big," Scribbs said.
"Or a detective in space. Either one, really. I'd be like Miss Ash," H said casually, as if comparing two very similar jobs like a writer and a librarian.
"I'm trying to imagine myself solving a murder in a space suit," Scribbs told the girl, "and I must say, I've worn crazier things while under cover. And I've seen Ash go sick at even the thought of getting on an airplane, so there's no way we'd get her up in space."
"Well, Earth needs detectives like you guys, so I'd understand if you wanted to stay, but you'd still get a free pass to come visit me in space whenever you like."
"Of course. Who could deny an invite from the Prime Minister of Mars?" Scribbs wondered, and the two shared a smile. The clatter of pots and pans was heard downstairs, and H slowly closed the door behind her. She looked at Scribbs a moment and seemed to have gone serious.
"I want to apologize for asking so many questions back there," the girl said.
"You don't need to worry about asking questions, H. Most of my job is asking questions to get to the bottom of things," Scribbs responded in a tone she hoped was reassuring. "I'll do my best to answer them if I can."
"I've already asked most of the ones I had, but they seemed to make Miss Ash uncomfortable. I didn't mean to do that, I just- I wanted to know what it was like to be married like you two are."
"Because of your sister and Lucy?" Scribbs asked. H only nodded. "That's perfectly understandable," the detective said, though it was more to herself than to the girl.
"You know, I'd see Lucy as my aunt whether or not they got married. I already do," H said suddenly, "but I don't see why they won't. They are so perfect for each other."
H went over to the window and looked out for a second before walking to her bed. She sat down, and sensing she'd be there for a while, Scribbs pulled the computer chair out and sat down in it to face the girl. She rested her arms on her knees and leaned forward a little bit. H copied her posture and they sat about two or three feet apart, facing each other. Scribbs waited for H to speak, and when she didn't, she offered, "It probably isn't the right time for them."
"But they're so in love," H protested, "how much more time do they need?"
Scribbs let out a soft chuckle and replied while shaking her head, "I don't know. That's not for me to decide."
H looked thoughtful for a second, as if she wanted to ask another question, but fought herself on whether or not she should. Finally, she spoke up. "How did you and Ash know that it was the right time to get married?" H's voice was filled with curiosity, and Scribbs knew that she had the girl's complete attention. The only problem was, she had to think of something to say to H because she'd never gotten the time to decide that being married to Ash was right for her. It just happened. Eventually, she had to voice her thoughts, which was hard for her to do.
"Well I love Ash, and I know she loves me. And I would've done anything for her, to help her." H was slightly confused by Scribbs' last statement, but assumed that the detective meant that she'd do what it took to be there for Ash, which wasn't a wrong assumption. "And to be perfectly honest," Scribbs went on, "it took me a while to get used to the idea of being married to Ash, but now I can't see myself with anybody else."
Scribbs knew this was the truth, whether or not she wanted to admit to it. She felt happy that she could feel this way, be it for her female best friend or any of the men she'd dated. She was getting used to saying those three words to Ash and meaning them whenever she did. She didn't know exactly how to say the words she'd just said to H and direct them at her partner in a way that she'd understand. She couldn't just say all that she'd wanted to say because she'd have to let it slip that they weren't legally married anywhere. Even if she didn't need to worry about that, Scribbs had never been known for being articulate with her words, nor did she expect for anyone she dated to be. Feeling how she felt for her wife, she now wished she was.
"That's how I feel about Heck," H said, which broke off the detective's thoughts. "I know I'm meant to marry him."
"Heck?" Scribbs wondered.
"Rach's ex husband before she met Luce," H explained easily as if it was common knowledge. "I want to marry him in eight years, but knowing my luck, he'll have married Saundra, the stalker from the airplane." H didn't even try to hide her disgust at the thought of it. "I've been in love with him for literally half my life." Not knowing who Heck or Saundra was, Scribbs could only nod at this. Being as Heck was Rachel's husband, Scribbs knew there had to be a lot of back story that she may never be aware of. She could also see this as being the reason why Rachel and Lucy wouldn't want to get married right away.
Scribbs shifted in the chair a little bit, and her knee bumped into the desk. Though it didn't hurt the blonde, it was enough to jostle the mouse and make the monitor come to life a little bit. On the screen was a Nancy Drew style mystery game where the player had to go through town- one house in particular- and play mini-games in order to get clues to solve the mystery.
"That's one of my favorite games. I've already solved it the first time, but I can never seem to find all of the clues because some of the games are hard to complete," H said when she noticed that Scribbs was staring at the screen for almost a full minute. "I have lots more." She opened up the cupboard on the desk and went through each and every arcade, card, board, action mystery and racing game that had been for the most part Lucy's collection before she gave them to H. A lot of the newer looking games must have been bought during the months H lived there, as they seemed to be older videogames converted for the computer. As Scribbs looked through the Mahjong's, the solitaires, and some of the action games, she was tempted to borrow one of H's games, but wasn't sure how she'd come across. "My favorite game is actually downstairs. Wanna see?"
Scribbs wanted to be polite, so she said, "Sure." H stood up and started for the door, Scribbs doing her best to keep up. She watched as H tumbled her way down the stairs, and wondered how she could move down them like that without tripping the rest of the way. Scribbs' steps were silent in comparison to H's thumps, and she heard Lucy tell the girl to walk a little softer. The thumps then ceased. Scribbs leaned a little into the kitchen to see Ash and Lucy working, while Rachel watched H go into the living room. Scribbs followed.
There, H took out the box that up until that point had been leaning against the wall next to the television, and the girl began to assemble the floor pad belonging to the deluxe home version of the arcade game 'Dance Dance Revolution'. Scribbs then watched as H turned on the TV and started a new game. "Come on, Scribbs. I set up player two," the girl prompted, pointing to the second floor pad next to the one she stood on, but Scribbs shook her head.
"I'll watch you for a bit to see how it goes." H liked that idea.
Lucy, Rachel, and Ash worked harmoniously in the kitchen. Rachel put the leftover food into containers, one of which was then set into a small bag with a heart on it. She'd then hand the dishes to Lucy who washed them and set them into the rinse water, where Ash would dry them and set them on the rack. A few minutes in, Rachel finished with the food and began putting the dishes away in cupboards. Together, they were a silent, well oiled machine.
Ash had been off in her own thoughts. She wasn't sure exactly what to think of the whole evening. Sure, her hostesses were lovely, and dinner really had been fine, but she could tell the couple wished it'd gone better. Still, it was pleasant enough, but there was still that awkward air about them all due to the fact that they were all still getting to know each other and didn't want to push any boundaries. Ash was confident, though, that with time the four adults and H would end up really good friends.
When H and Scribbs had come down the stairs, Rachel seemed distracted as she watched her sister tinker with the game consol and footpads for a game that Ash recognized, but she didn't know anyone who owned it. Ash noticed the slight longing on Rachel's face as she watched. Lucy noticed this as well and smirked. "They're going to need supervision in there, if I know H correctly," she said, but Rachel didn't seem to hear her as she walked into the living room. With Rachel gone, Ash and Lucy continued to work, sharing a smile between them at Rachel's behavior. "That's Rachel's favorite game. H's and mine, too, I suppose, but Rachel's addicted. Knowing her, she'll be the one in need of the supervision." The two women laughed at that, then went back to the tasks at hand, Ash trading with Lucy, as she didn't know where the dishes belonged. Lucy alternated her energy between putting the dishes away and wiping down surfaces as they were cleared.
"Thank you for your help," Lucy eventually said as they finished up, "I don't know if I've said that yet. You really didn't have to, but the task did go faster." She tossed the rag carelessly.
Ash gave a small nod and said, "No problem." This made her briefly think about her brother and she hoped that David had made it back alright and wasn't staying at work too late.
"Alright, Ash?" Lucy asked, which startled the brunette out of her thoughts.
"Yeah. I was just thinking about my brother," she admitted. "He had to rush back to work this afternoon." Lucy nodded. There was a cackle of laughter from the other room, and Lucy twisted around the wall to get a glimpse of what was going on. Ash took the steps necessary to join her, and saw H and Rachel standing behind Scribbs as they watched her try to play the game. H was encouraging her while Rachel laughed at the somewhat frantic look on Scribbs' face. Lucy turned from the scene and watched her guest. The look of adoration was there, and though she too had seen the strangeness of the relationship, she knew Ash and Scribbs did love each other even if their story was wonky. The looks of confusion on Ash's face made Lucy wonder even more. She'd known that Ash was hospitalized, and if she remembered right, Scribbs had mentioned that first time that her 'friend' Ash was in a coma. Maybe
Ash continued to watch her wife struggle before the song ended. She heard H tell Scribbs that she hadn't done bad on her first try, and Rachel agreed, telling her that she couldn't even finish a song the first few times through. Of course, that was because she had picked the stage for the song and not its difficulty level. Rachel then took the player two footpad and let Scribbs pick the song.
"You're going to flatten me," Scribbs protested, but she picked another easier level.
Slowly, Lucy walked into the living room with Ash a couple of steps behind her. They watched as Scribbs' concentration split between her feet and the screen as arrows floated upwards during a techno version of a song she'd heard a few times while flipping through the television. She seemed to be holding her own for the most part next to Rachel, with H cheering behind her, egging her on. Still, she missed her steps a lot and fell behind. For a moment there, Scribbs paused completely in order to get her steps back in rhythm, which allowed Rachel a larger gain in her lead. Once Scribbs' rhythm went back with the game, towards a fairly okay finish, Rachel looked over to Scribbs and began to miss a couple of steps herself. From Ash's view, it seemed as if Rachel was being nice and had messed up on purpose so she wouldn't have as great of a lead, but she couldn't be sure. The move proved to make Scribbs a little happier that if nothing else, she could hold her own against Rachel, whom had played the game a lot longer than she had.
"Eh, I could get a better score than that in my sleep," H bragged to her sister, and as Scribbs sat down on the nice couch, the girl took up Player Two's pad and Rachel moved over to the Player One pad.
"Move your feet like you move your mouth and you just might," Rachel retorted without skipping a beat. (Ha-ha)
"Seeing as I play winner- and I use the term lightly in your case- I will," H shot back playfully.
"Lightly or not, I'm still one up on you."
Ash couldn't tell which sister was older just then. Watching them verbally spar with each other like they did, they could almost be twins. There was no doubt that the two were sisters, though.
"Actually, I think that's enough," Lucy spoke up, and the look both H and Rachel was giving her was further proof that the two shared blood. Ash followed their gaze and was surprised to see the slight smirk there. "Besides, I'm reigning champion in this household and you peasants could only dream of beating my score."
"Is that a challenge I hear?" Rachel asked as she moved towards her girlfriend in what could only be described as a saucy swagger. She then draped her arms over Lucy's shoulders and the redhead looked away as if unaffected. Ash could tell that it was hard for her to keep up the façade.
"Your powers of seduction will not work here," Lucy said. "It was not a challenge, it was merely fact." She continued. The smirk was back.
H didn't try to hide her 'ick' face as she reset the game and took her spot as Player One. She looked around at the adults, then called out, "Okay, I'm restarting the game now, so whoever wants to join me, do it now."
At this, Ash hesitated before walking up to the Player Two footpad, looking down at H as she did so. She then looked down at her feet as she tried to see where her feet should move. Just then, she heard the sudden start of the level and she called out, "Hey!"
"H, you cheat!" Rachel called out. Ash did her best to keep up before H stopped the level.
"Okay, seriously this time." H said through her laughter. "You ready?" The only reply she got was the playful glare from the DI. There was another laugh, and then she restarted the level. Ash began to move her feet as the game directed her. As each arrow floated upwards on the screen and swelled with each correct movement, Ash felt more confident in her movements. "You're a faster study than Scribbs is," H commented. She seemed to be using a lot of her concentration this time. Both players had their eyes glued to the screen with the exception of the time H's eyes would flicker to Ash.
Scribbs, Rachel and Lucy watched in amusement as both players continued to get 'Good!' 'Great!' and 'Outstanding!' from the game. In the end, H won the level by a few dozen points, and the girl looked at Ash in amazement. "I thought I completely had you beat," she said to the brunette as Ash went to sit on the couch next to Scribbs. Ash winked in response, and then took her wife's hand. Lucy slowly untangled herself form Rachel, leaving a kiss on her nose, and went to join H at the game.
"Ready to learn?" she asked as she stood in the middle of Player Two's footpad. There was a grin that could've made the Cheshire Cat nervous, but H only rolled her eyes while she started the game.
"From you? Learn what, how to lose gracefully?" H asked, and Lucy swatted her on the shoulder. The move was so quick that no one saw it coming, but it wasn't hard enough to throw H out of her rhythm as the song started up.
"Respect your elders," Lucy ordered, but there was no force to it.
"Speaking of,-" H started to say, but Lucy cut her off.
"Don't you dare play the age card," Lucy warned. H laughed.
"Heh," she huffed, "but it's a winning hand!" With that, the two fell silent except for the thuds and the music from the game. Ash and Scribbs weren't sure who to root for, but they were having fun watching Lucy gain the lead and beat H without breaking a sweat.
"PERFECT!" the game said.
H went to sit on the couch between the two detectives, which forced their hands apart. H leaned forward, using Ash's right and Scribbs' left knees as arm rests. The three then watched Rachel and Lucy step on the game pads and restart the game once more. Together, they moved in sync, every now and again exchanging smiles with each other, but unlike Ash and Scribbs, H wasn't impressed.
"That was the first song they danced to in the arcade. Of course, they'd get perfects on it," she said. "I'd like to see the two of you get perfects on the Riverdance stage," she told her sister and aunt.
"There's a Riverdance level?" Scribbs asked the girl.
"It's so hard. I tried once, but I tripped on my own two feet-"
"You do that anyway," Rachel interrupted, laughing when she looked back and saw the look H was giving her. She looked forward to see that Lucy had selected another level. The detectives watched as the couple got perfect scores, only this time, they both had to try harder for it. This time, H had nothing snarky to say. When the song was over, Scribbs clapped for them, and Lucy let Rachel pick the last song of their difficulty level. Within seconds, Rachel skipped a step, allowing Lucy to take the lead and then win with the third perfect score.
"Alright, I admit that you're reigning champion, but don't let yourself get comfortable. I'll be back to challenge you again soon." Rachel said in the voice of a Renaissance knight.
"Looking forward to it," Lucy replied.
H then jumped up as if she had been burned in the butt. "DOUBLES!" she called.
The next hour was spent in doubles play, in a somewhat competition to see which pairing made the best dance team. Not surprisingly, Rachel and Lucy made the best team, followed by H and Rachel, and then surprisingly, H and Ash. Scribbs, though not as good at the game as the rest, still found herself having a lot of fun.
It was after 9:30 when everyone decided they'd had enough, and Lucy turned off the game for the night. Ash and Scribbs politely told them it was time to leave so that they didn't impose on their hostess' time any longer than they had. Rachel disappeared for a couple of moments as Lucy and H argued lightly over why H had lost her match with the redhead, and came back just in time to cut them off. She had come back with a container with cheesecake in it and said, "Here's the dessert we never got around to having." There was a smile on her lips that suggested that she didn't mind this fact as their contest was fun for her.
"Thank you for the fun evening. We'll have you all over soon," Scribbs said, accepting the hug from H and then from Rachel. There was a nod between her and Lucy. There were quick hugs to Ash from the sisters and a hand shake between her and Lucy.
"It was nice to meet you," Ash told her.
"Yes, nice to meet you too," the redhead responded, and saw the two detectives to their car. "Take a right at the end of the road, then two streets later, take the left to get out," she told them.
"Thanks, and thanks again for having us over." Scribbs unlocked the door for her wife, and then went around to the drivers' side.
Fog had descended over Suburbia, so Scribbs had to drive a lot slower to get them out of Hampden Court. She made chitchat with Ash as they finally got out of the housing development. "I really like that lot," Ash said suddenly. Scribbs nodded with a laugh.
"H sure is a breath of fresh air," the blonde agreed. There was a short silence, then, "You think if we had a daughter, she'd be like H?"
Ash looked over at her wife. She couldn't remember having a discussion on children with Scribbs, and she wasn't sure how the blonde felt on the topic. The fact that she was asking now made her wonder. "She'd look like you, I bet," Scribbs went on.
"Yeah, but she'd be a hell raiser like you."
"Or she'd look like me and be very practical like you," Scribbs added in, and Ash let herself think on this a little more. She thought about H and the other girl she kept seeing in her dreams, wondering which of them would be the most like a daughter of theirs. Though anyone could mistake H for Scribbs' daughter, there was just something about the redhead tomboy that charmed her. She felt a lot of affection for this girl, but also a little bit of sadness that she couldn't explain. She didn't want to tell her wife about this because she didn't want to worry her, and she had the feeling that Scribbs wouldn't be able to help, anyway.
The two fell into their own silences as Scribbs, too thought about this. She'd never thought much on children before, or at least of her having any. She was always too busy trying to keep a man in her life. None of them seemed to want to marry her, let alone start a family with her. Even now with Ash, she found it somewhat difficult to see children in their lives. It wasn't like their careers were child friendly, and if the couple couldn't completely agree on pet issues, there was no way they'd do well with parenting. Still, the image of a naughty mini-Kate Ashurst or a proper mini-Emma Scribbins running around made her smile. The thoughts continued to run through both women's minds as Scribbs continued to get them home safely.
As soon as the two women entered the flat, Ash went over to the fish tank and checked the water to make sure the filter was doing its job. Then she took some of the fish food, dashed a little bit in her palm before tipping it into the tank, and watched as it floated on the water's surface before Upy discovered what was going on. Scribbs watched as Ash smiled at Upy, and the blonde wondered again how she could feel so changed in the course of a couple of days. If she were to think about any of it for very long- and at times she preferred not to- she'd have to admit to herself that Ash had always changed her world for the better, that Ash was the reason why she was so happy at her job. As she put the cheesecake and leftover food in the refrigerator, she wondered how her life could feel so complete, fulfilled. How could this life that wasn't even real be the only thing that mattered to her?
With that thought, she wondered if Ash's memories would ever come back. Scribbs knew that she loved the brunette more and more each time their eyes locked or hands touched, and that scared her. She tried to hold back some of this because to her it all seemed too soon for some of this, but to Ash, they were supposed to be this way with each other because they were married.
As Scribbs was at the refrigerator, she heard the beginning music to the song 'She's the One', Ash's favorite song by Robbie Williams.
I was her
She was me
We were young
We were free
And if there's somebody calling me on
She's the one
If there's somebody calling me on
She's the one
We were young
We were wrong
We were fine all along
If there's somebody calling me on
She's the one
Scribbs thought about the words that were coming from the speakers, and she knew that the words were true for them. Ash had always been the one who'd made her feel anything, from annoyance then to love now. Ash was the reason why she liked getting up in the morning, especially now that she got the privilege of seeing her completely unguarded when the brunette slept. She loved that Ash was her partner, helping her stop crime, and on occasion, being her partner IN crime. Why wouldn't they be partners in all other aspects of the word as well?
Scribbs slowly turned and walked into the living room. She saw that her wife was sitting on the couch and was struck momentarily by her beauty. She wasn't sure if it was in part the doing of the song. She loved how Ash's eyes seemed to shine in a way that was meant only for her. Scribbs gave her wife a small smile and was rewarded with one in return. There was a pat on the couch as Ash beckoned her, and like a magnet, Scribbs was pulled forward.
As her wife came to sit by her, Ash began to think about how different the two of them were. She had always been known as the dark broody one (or that was how people saw her when she was a DS) while Scribbs was the light, perky one. In the back of her mind, she got the feeling that someone had summed them up that way a little more recently than seven years ago, but she couldn't remember when or who had said it. Still, looking at her partner and seeing the look in her eyes, the almost hesitant yet shy way that she looked at her made Ash realize how much she loved her and how much of a perfect match they were. Ash had never felt for anyone the way she felt for this woman. Sure, there was the crush a long time ago, which led her to the discovery of her sexuality, but that other woman had been a lot older, straight and married. Even then, there was never the connection she felt with Scribbs. Never. Scribbs was the only woman that Ash had been intimate with, and she couldn't help but think about how happy she was.
And yet, with the way that her life was at the moment, she couldn't help but feel that something still wasn't right. There was just that nagging feeling that just would not go away. She'd tried to force it out of her mind earlier that night when she was with Rachel, Lucy, and H, and she had for a while, but still, now, she wondered on it.
When you get to where you wanna go
And you know the things you wanna know
When you said what you wanna say
And you know the way you wanna play it
You'll be so high you'll be flying
Though the sea
Will be strong
I know we'll
Cause if there's somebody calling me on
She's the one
If there's somebody calling me on
She's the one
Both women sat listening to the song lyrics, knowing that the song was meant for them. They knew that they would always push and pull each other in any given direction whether or not they wanted to go there. Even with the nagging feeling in the back of her head telling her that there was still something that was going to make things difficult for the pair, Ash felt confident that they could get through it. 'And even if,' Ash thought to herself as the song went into an instrumental portion, 'the road from here on is long and bumpy, I'd rather go down this road with Emma than to not be with her at all.'
Scribbs on the other hand, knew that the next bit would be rough, but she knew that if Ash was aware of just how much she loved her, they would be able to get through it. If they could get through that, then they could definitely go through worse. As long as they were together.
When you get to where you wanna go
And you know the things you wanna know
When you said what you wanna say
And you know the way you wanna play it
You'll be so high you'll be flying
The two detectives looked at each other at the same time, and just then, both of them knew exactly where they were meant to be. Without words, they made further contact, Scribbs almost crawling into Ash's lap as they cuddled together on the couch. Their lips met quickly, and Scribbs hovered over Ash for a second so that they shared the same air. Her first instinct was to say "I love you Ash," but like the night before, she forced herself to change the name, saying "I love you Kate," instead. For some reason, it felt as if saying those three words to 'Ash' instead of 'Kate' was more meaningful, even though they were one and the same. Scribbs couldn't explain this feeling she had then as well as the night before.
Supporting her upper body on one arm, she used the other to touch Ash's cheek and neck. She kissed the brunette again. There was so much she just couldn't say. She wished for the day she'd be able to say them all and have Ash understand.
I was her
She was me
We were young
We were free
If there's somebody calling me on
She's the one
If there's somebody calling me on
She's the one
Scribbs felt Ash's hands on her sides. They moved from the sides of her breasts down her waist and hip, and then went to unzip the leather jacket, trying to push it off of her wife's shoulders. Scribbs backed out of the kiss for a second to help her out. Not wanting to leave contact for very long, Ash sat up a little to follow. Their lips connected again as Ash's hands moved to the front of Scribbs' shirt and stayed on her breasts.
At the feel of Ash's hands upon her, Scribbs leaned in. She whispered the only thing she could think of that could even come close to saying how she felt. "You're my bliss," she whispered to her, feeling the heat of embarrassment and desire on her face. She then suckled the earlobe into her mouth and left a small nip on it. She felt rather than heard the moan come from her wife, and she began to leave a trail of kisses down her neck. As Scribbs felt Ash move beneath her, only one thought became apparent as she looked into her partner's eyes. When all of this blew up in her face as she knew it would, she would rather spend the rest of her life fighting with Ash than to make love with anyone else. She remembered the movie that little quote had come from, and how one of the characters looked suspiciously like Sullivan. Then she mentally slapped herself for thinking about Sullivan at all while she was making love with Ash. But she knew the quote was true. Scribbs felt that even if Ash didn't forgive her for this whole situation, she'd prefer to spend her life fighting her over it than to have Ash leave her for good. At least when fighting they would be in the same room together. Plus, Ash was pretty damn sexy when she was angry, just not so much when she was angry at her.
If there's somebody calling me on
Yeah she's the one
Yeah she's the one
Scribbs forced herself to stop thinking those thoughts as she ran her hands over Ash's stomach.
If there's somebody calling me on
She's the one
She's the one
Ash felt her shirt join Scribbs' jacket on the floor next to the couch.
If there's somebody calling me on
She's the one
She's the one
Ash gasped when Scribbs' hips moved, forcing her to feel the heat from between her legs on the lower part of her stomach.
If there's somebody calling me on
She's the one
Looking up at her wife, the brunette saw all she needed to see, and with her help, Scribbs' shirt joined the other articles of clothing on the floor.
She's the one.
**WARNING!! This chapter mentions crimes against children. Nothing graphic, but it is here. (Sorry to spoil the chapter, but it needs to be said.)**
Scribbs' eyes shot open when she felt an almost violent jerk at her back, where Ash spooned her. "No " Ash murmured, which caused Scribbs to turn and face her wife. She saw a look of pain, and hoped it wasn't her wrist, even though it'd been fine for the last few days. "Toby." At this, Scribbs went still. She wondered who Toby was, but knew from the tone of her wife's voice that whoever they were, something bad had happened to them.
Scribbs leaned in and called, "ASH!" in to her wife's ear. The brunette jerked awake. She shook and then sat up with a gasped breath. Scribbs placed a hand on Ash's bare chest, feeling her take deep breaths under her fingers. "Shh " the blonde soothed, waiting as Ash's eyes seemed to focus. Slowly, Scribbs sat up as well.
"Emma " Ash said, taking Scribbs' hand that rested on her. "I'm scared."
"I'm right here, Kate," Scribbs said immediately, feeling scared herself. Ash had never admitted such a thing to her before. "I'm right here," she repeated. "Wanna talk about it?"
"It was dark, but I kept hearing crying. Me Crying."
"Do you know why?" Scribbs asked. She may have already known, but she wasn't sure if Ash could remember.
" 'They weren't supposed to die.' I said that."
"I don't know," Ash finally admitted after a silence.
"Toby?" Scribbs asked softly, and Ash stayed silent. In the darkness of their room, Scribbs couldn't see her wife's face. "You called out that name," she said.
"I feel I should know that name," Ash said after another moment. "Why else would I say that name in my sleep? Oh God," she whispered suddenly. "What if Toby is dead? What if it's my fault?"
"But what if he's not? What if it was just a dream?" Scribbs wondered.
"It didn't feel like just a dream. I can almost remember it."
"Don't try to force it back, Kate. Lay with me. We can see if it'll come back on its own. Naturally."
"I don't know if I want it to," Ash said slowly, but even as she said this, she moved deeper into Scribbs' arms and sighed, her puff of air creating a breeze of air over Scribbs' skin, causing the nipples to pucker. Under other circumstances, Ash would've taken those nipples into her mouth and made them hers, but she just laid her head there instead.
Not knowing what time it had been when Ash woke them up, Scribbs didn't know how long they lay together in silence. Neither woman went back to sleep, and as the darkened sky gave way to early birds and an attempt at sunlight, Scribbs left the comfort of their bed to make some coffee. She then went to get some pain medication just in case Ash might have needed it. When she got back to their bedroom a few minutes later, she was surprised to see Ash laying out her clothes for the day, and from the looks of it, the brunette was getting ready for work. "I remember a casket," Ash said suddenly. "I cried over a casket as I said those words." She said nothing else as a tear fell down her face, and Scribbs wondered if Ash truly knew who she was crying for.
"Kate," Scribbs murmured. When the DI looked at her, she handed over the mug and watched as Ash took a sip. She wished again that she'd known what to say.
"Thank you, Darling." Ash took another sip, her eyes watching the blonde as she did so. Then she said, "I'm sorry I kept you awake."
"Don't worry about that, Kate. You can make it up to me later," Scribbs responded, trying to get her voice so that it came out a teasing tone. Ash gave a weak smile at that, which was more than what Scribbs had been hoping for. She rubbed Ash's back reassuringly, then she got out her own clothes before going back to the kitchen with Ash's newly emptied mug. When she got back into their room, she could hear the water running. Scribbs debated on whether or not she should join Ash. Part of her felt a little shy about this, since she still sometimes saw Ash as her strict best friend, but then she remembered the shower from a couple of days ago. She grinned and opened the bathroom door.
Ash smiled and held out her hand to help her wife into the shower with her. Without words, the brunette moved so that the water hit Scribbs, then she began to wash her shoulders and front, more as a way to somehow wash away the memories of the night before than as a sexual action. That didn't stop Scribbs' body from reacting to Ash's touch. They took turns washing each other, mostly in silence, then got out of the shower and dressed.
Though it was obvious the memories still lingered throughout breakfast and the drive into work, the brunette's mask slipped into place a little too easily for Scribbs' liking. As Ash smiled and nodded to those who welcomed her back and expressed concern for her absence, Scribbs allowed herself to worry.
Sullivan couldn't hide his surprise when he saw the two women enter their office. He called Scribbs over. The blonde watched as Ash spoke to a couple of colleagues and then went into Sullivan's office,where the broad man was shuffling through a stack of documents, raising a couple at a time up to the light. "Searching for a watermark?" the blonde wondered, and he nodded. There was a bunch of documents that had circulated, which were identical to birth and death certificates and a variety of other papers in every way but one. All of them missed the crucial mark of authenticity, which was the watermark of the origin of the documents. Knowing to look for it made the only flaw in the grand scheme, whatever that may have been for Lincoln Durgrey, the man Sullivan himself had captured.
"Scribbs, why is she here? N-Not that I'm not glad that she's back, but she's still got another nine days of leave." Sullivan asked in order to change the subjest and stick to his reason for calling her into his office.
Scribbs stood next to the chair across from her boss' desk chair and waited for him to look at her before she spoke. "Ash had a nightmare last night that she thinks might be real. My guess is she's not ready to spend today alone."
"What'd she see?"
"A casket. It seems someone died, but she doesn't remember whose funeral it was. I heard her call out Toby, but when I asked her, she didn't know who that was."
"She didn't?" Sullivan's tone made Scribbs study him. He looked shocked that the name came up, as if Ash should have known who Toby was.
"Who is Toby?" she asked after a moment.
Sullivan became quiet as he watched Ash through his office window. Then he walked over to his door and shut it completely, flipping the sign on his door to indicate that he wasn't to be disturbed. At this movement, Scribbs frowned.
"You you might want to sit down, Scribbs," the man said. Scribbs stared at her boss' back before slowly doing as she was asked. Thousands of possibilities ran through her mind as to who Toby was. Part of her wondered if Toby was a fallen husband or son, and she swallowed nervously. She watched as Sullivan went around to his desk so that he was at his seat and sat down across from her. She didn't like the look on his face at all.
"Scribbs," he began at the same time, which quieted the DS. "Seven years ago, there was a man named Kenneth Mathews who was on the run from London police for the rape and murder of four children. About five weeks later, two children were found at the primary school with the same mode of operation that linked to this man. Toby Marks was the last one to see both children alive, as they shared the same babysitter, and she was the lead to Mathews." Sullivan thought for a moment, then he began again. "Ash and I were assigned the case. You wouldn't believe it now, but Ash was really good with children. It took Toby a while to open up about the case, and when she did, she would only speak to Ash about what happened to her friends."
"Yes. Tabitha Marks, though she preferred to be called Tobias, or Toby, instead... for some reason. She was such a tomboy," Sullivan explained. Scribbs know exactly where this story was going, and she didn't like it one bit, but she knew she needed to understand everything, to help understand her wife and best friend. "Er- Ash and Toby spent a lot of time together over the course of about three or four days before the girl opened up and told us what she'd seen. Mathews had known that Toby saw him talking to her friends and had scared her. I still don't know everything about the case, as Ash hasn't told me." Sullivan stood up after a silence, and he began to pace. "Two days after we began searching for Kenneth, Toby went missing. Her mother was home with her and had been there when she'd been taken. The mother put up a fight, but had in the end been defeated. Toby's older sister had been to a sleepover; otherwise, I'm sure something would have happened to her, too.
"Ash was frantic. I think she'd promised to keep Toby safe, which may have been what helped her get the girl to talk. Two days later " Sullivan swallowed and couldn't seem to keep his eyes anywhere, " we found her body in a place we'd searched dozens of times before. Kenneth was mocking us. Ash lost it. I've never seen her so distraught. She was almost as bad off as Toby's mother. Our DCI, Erik Kingsley, told her to take some time off while he worked with me for the rest of the case. She wanted to find Kenneth, but she wasn't in the right mind to do so. That same afternoon, we got a lead, and we went after him with the armed unit. He'd been waiting for us, though. Shots were fired, and DCI Kingsley as well as two London policemen were killed." Sullivan stopped talking and looked down at his hands.
"I'm so sorry," Scribbs said softly, thinking it through.
"I was promoted after Erik's death, and the first thing I did was have Ash take my place, but she refused. She was convinced that she should've died in Kingsley's place, that she would have deserved it if she had. I told her many times how much that wasn't true, but she wouldn't believe me. She left for her parent's place in Market Didsborough, and was on holiday for three months. Only then did she accept the promotion. When I hired you as her DS, I liked your personality and hoped you'd help loosen her up a little bit. In some ways, you have, but after her holiday... she'd changed so much. As soon as she met you, I knew she fancied you right away, and I think that was when she became strict. If you hadn't kept teasing her on it, I'm sure I would have never seen my friend again. But it still gets hard for all of us this time each year, Ash especially. I try to send flowers to possibly help, but she never reads what I put in the cards."
He stopped pacing for a second and then walked to one of the two filing cabinets in his office. He took out a large set of keys and opened it. He then took out a file and put it on the desk in front of Scribbs. "If she had a dream about what happened, then there's not much time before she truly remembers it all. Take this. Go over it alone sometime today so that you're prepared for it, and then show this to her when she starts asking questions. It's going to hurt all over again, but I truly believe that with you, she can finally start to heal from it."
Scribbs stared at the folder in front of her as it if were diseased road kill. "Toby Marks, age nine," Scribbs read out loud. She then felt the pieces start to fall together when she saw the address. Mrs. Marks from Ash's flat was Toby's mother. Looking at the picture inside the folder, she saw a redhead girl in a white cap smiling at the camera. She realized that the young woman in the hallway that day was probably Toby's sister. "She was torturing herself by living there." Scribbs said.
"Yes," was all Sullivan had to say in return.
"All her rules they were meant to protect me," Scribbs continued incredulously, as if she hadn't heard Sullivan.
"I believe so."
"Because she loves me." Scribbs' voice didn't hide the awe she felt, knowing how strong Ash would have to be to hide all of her secrets without going completely insane. Scribbs couldn't imagine herself being able to do it. Just keeping her own secret from Ash was hard enough, but for Ash to hold in that grief and unrequited love for almost 7 years
After a moment, Sullivan asked, "Are you alright?"
"Yes," Scribbs responded absently. She then got up and began walking out the door, her mind in somewhat of a daze.
"I'm fine," she said, though she wasn't sure if that was the truth. "I just Thank you for telling me," Scribbs said. She then walked out of Sullivan's office and headed straight to Ash's desk, where the brunette was sitting. Even before she got to her wife's side, Scribbs noticed the look on her face that, up until now, she'd thought meant that Ash was happy, but she now knew better. It was another mask she'd worn all along. Scribbs knew this now. Only when she saw Scribbs did Ash's face change into a look of pure joy, and the feelings that she'd had for Ash immediately multiplied.
Scribbs couldn't stop her arms from wrapping around Ash from the side, stopping the conversation between the brunette and the colleague. "Er- Hi honey," Ash said somewhat nervously, and Scribbs knew her wife was blushing. "There's a rule about public displays of affection in the work place," she informed her.
"I know," was all Scribbs said as a reply. She let go reluctantly and went to her own desk. When she looked up, the colleague was gone, and she saw a look on Ash's face that seemed to suggest she was seeing Scribbs for the first time. The blonde held her gaze and returned the look with one of her own.
Everything started to make a little bit more sense to Scribbs when she sat down and thought about it, and she did. A lot. Ash's 'long walks' the week before all this began, the flowers on Ash's desk that she never wanted to talk about, the urgent need to go for drinks, Sullivan's insistence for them to be in each other's company that day Ash fell and his warning to be careful with her It was there, making a ton of sense, along with why Ash acted the way she often did, the rules that she had placed out of the blue sometimes, but it all made sense to Scribbs now.
She found herself watching Ash closely for any signs of Toby's memory fully coming back, and it wasn't long before her wife noticed how attentive she'd become. "Not that I mind one bit," she had said after commenting on Scribbs' increased affectionate behavior after depositing money into their shared account at the bank. Scribbs hated the fact that she had to practically stalk her wife to make sure she was there when the memory of Toby came back. There was a bit of a plus to it though; sex was amazing. However, after about four days of this, Scribbs backed off a little bit. She decided that since the two of them spent so much time together now as a married couple, the chances were, she'd be there when Ash experienced the worst of it. She just hoped that this new Ash would have the courage to speak to her or come and find her if she, for some reason, wasn't there. Ash had mentioned a couple of times that she had wanted to invite Rachel, H and Lucy over for dinner one night soon, and finding no reason against it, Scribbs found herself being shooed out of the kitchen sometime in the following week after she incorrectly diced something and knicked her finger at the same time. As she went to find something to put on it, she heard the knock at the door.
Ash waited a moment, unsure if Scribbs would get the door or not. When there was nothing, she hurried to open it up for her guests as there was another knock. She smiled at the two older women before looking down at H. Seeing the girl made something in her mind shift as mamories came back to her, and Ash stopped cold. She blinked rapidly for a couple of seconds as tears began to well in her eyes. "Oh Toby," she murmured. She gathered H into a hug and began to cry in earnest now. "Toby, I'm so sorry." Ash's shoulders shook as H's eyes went wide with bewilderment. Even so, the girl hugged her back without saying anything, patting her back a couple times.
"Hey everyone..." Scribbs said, holding her finger in her other hand as she walked into the room. She had a bandage on her finger, but she wanted to squeeze it to make sure the strip stuck to it. She stopped and looked at the scene, then to Lucy, who was watching it as well with one of her slightly thoughtful scowls. "What's happened?"
"Who's Toby?" Rachel asked her at the same time. At this, Scribbs paled slightly, looking back to Ash and H. She walked to her wife, placing a hand on her shoulder.
"Kate. That's not Toby," she said gently. Ash slowly leaned back to look at H and slowly let go of the girl, who swallowed and took a small step backwards. The brunette blinked, feeling a sadness that she couldn't ever remember feeling, even in childhood when her beloved horse, her only friend then, had died. She felt the guilt and grief, fresh as if the wounds were new. She knew that they weren't.
"H," she said simply. She looked at the girl's guardians, feeling embaressed at what she had just done, but no one else spoke as Scribbs continued to rub her back. Ash looked to her wife as more tears came, and in one quick movement, she found herself in Scribbs' arms.
The blonde glanced over her wife's shoulder at H to see what it was about her that had triggered Toby's memory night that. She saw the resemblance immediately. H wore a white T-shirt with a vibrant blue butterfly in the middle of it, and jeans that were faded and well worn. On her head was a blue cap to match. Scribbs could understand why Ash would mistake the two. "I'm sorry, but I think you should go," Scribbs said regretfully after a moment, mostly to Rachel, as if this would somehow answer her question.
"What's happening?" H asked, trying her best not to look hurt and scared, both emotions on her face and in her voice regardless.
"She's remembering an old case," Scribbs replied. "You did nothing wrong," she added in her attempt to reassure the girl. H nodded, but she didn't seem convinced.
"Come on. I hope thing'll be alright," Lucy said, looking from Scribbs to the woman in the blonde's arms. She placed a hand on H's shoulder, but the preteen shurgged her off and walked towards the door.
"We'll reschedual," Scribbs promised.
H hesitated before saying softly, "Bye." Scribbs felt really bad. She could tell that H had been looking forward to the night. As the door closed behind Rachel, who was the last to leave after a sympathetic look and a small wave of departure, Scribbs continued to comfort her wife.
"How much do you remember?" Scribbs asked, though she wasn't sure how prepared she or Ash were for talking about it.
"It... Its taking a bit, but the more I think about it, the more I seem to remember. Oh Emma," Ash said as she tightened her grip a little bit.
"Let's sit down and you can tell me what you can," Scribbs suggested. She felt Ash nod slightly, and they went to the kitchen table. Ash was quiet for quite some time before she began to speak again.
Ash went on for over an hour, telling Scribbs about the case and how she'd felt uneasy about the whole thing from the start, to her slowly built friendship with Toby Marks. She spared Scribbs the details of the murders, but the blonde had already seen the photos from the file, and she knew them already. Ash told her about how the girl hadn't spoken to her until after she'd promised that things would be alright. When it turned out that it wasn't true, Ash couldn't let go of the guilt. "I know that even now... Its still fresh in my mind, like it happened only days ago," she said. Scribbs wanted to tell her that it was still fresh to her because she had never dealt with that guilt of Toby and DCI Kingsley's death, and she told herself that she would help her wife with that however she could.
Suddenly, after wiping away the last batch of tears, Ash asked, "Why didn't you tell me any of this? You know, try and help me remember it?" The question didn't seem accusitory, just curious.
"I didn't..." Scribbs started to say, void of the right words, 'know,' she finished to herself. "I wasn't sure how much of your memory would come back and when, so if you remembered anything, I wanted those memories to be yours, not something I told you that you're supposed to remember. If I gave you a bunch of memories, especially this one, at the same time you'd gotten your own memories back, I don't want to think about what that might've done to you." Scribbs looked away at this lie. "Besides," she continued, "part of me just didn't want you to remember-"
"But I needed to remember this. Without that memory, I wouldn't be nearly as good at my job," Ash told her.
They stayed in silence for a long time after that as more tears came. Scribbs mumbled out, "I'll get some tea," and then went to do just that. When about ten minutes later, she came back in, she saw her wife staring at Upy's tank, watching as he swam about. Scribbs set the tea before them, tough neither one of them touched it. The blonde had one question, but part of her already knew the answer. "Did you ever say goodbye to Toby? To DCI Kingsley?"
"I couldn't face her family, and I ran off to my parents'," Ash replied, playing with one of the teabags.
"And then you moved in with Toby's mother as your landlady," Scribbs said in a voice that clearly stated her confusion. "If she'd let you move in, I don't think she blames you for what happened."
"She didn't recognise me," Ash said, but Scribbs doubted that was true from the way Mrs. Marks had spoken about her when the blonde got her mail.
"Kate," Scribbs started, unsure how Ash would react to her next set of words, "its time to say goodbye. Six or seven years is too long to hold on to this sort of thing, don't you think? It's done nothing to help."
The brunette seemed uncertain, but she nodded after a moment, knowing that what her wife was saying was the truth. "I need to apologise to H, too. I scared her, I know I did."
"One thing at a time, Love."
"Yeah," Ash replied as Scribbs reached across the table, extending her hand to her. The brunette only trailed her index finger along Scribbs' palm. Scribbs looked at the clock. It was nearing seven thirty.
"Are you hungry at all? We can heat up supper," she offered, but Ash shook her head.
"I think I'd rather go to bed," the brunette said. Scribbs nodded.
"You go get in bed and I'll clean up here," the blonde said. She gave her wife a swift kiss and watched as she went to their bedroom. She then cleaned up the tea. She went on from there to put food away into containers and washed the dishes. Cleaning up took almost a half an hour to do. It might have taken longer if Ash hadn't cleaned as she cooked.
Scribbs was surprised to see that Ash was still awake in bed, though she wasn't sure why she was. The blonde changed into night clothes and slipped into bed next to her wife, who immediately shifted so that the two were holding eachother. "I think you're right, Darling," Kate murmured once the light went out, "It is time to say goodbye. To let go of the pain and to move on... But I will never forget. Not again."
Scribbs was quiet for a long time before she asked, "Are you guilty now, because you forgot them?"
"I should never have-"
"No, Kate. Don't. You lost the memery when you fell. That wasn't your fault. All that matters now is that their spirits and memories stay with you."
"Yeah. You're right. I'm being silly, but I just feel that something like that should never have been forgotten, no matter what the circumstances were." Ash snuggled deeper into Scribbs.
"Do you remember where they are buried?"
"No," Ash replied after a moment, as if she had taken the time to think about it, to search through these new memories, "did I ever tell you?"
"Yes," Scribbs lied, making a mental note to call Sullivan and ask him in the morning. "I'll take you there tomorrow. We can get flowers from Lucy and Rachel's flower shop, and you can talk to them all then before we pay our respects."
"I'd like that," Ash replied sleepily. The two women fell into a calmer silence as they started to fall asleep, Scribb stoking her wife's shoulder. Only when she saw Ash's eyes close did she let herself sleep as well.
The next morning, Scribbs woke up first and snuck away to ring Sullivan, who sounded sleepy. She felt bad for waking him up, as it was still pretty dark outside. Granted, it was also a little cloudy out, but it was still too early to be making phone calls. Once She informed him that Ash remembered Toby, Sullivan seemed to wake up, telling her on a couple of occasions that he was glad she called him. They spoke briefly, Scribbs telling her boss about the night before, and then asking him where both Toby and DCI Kingsley were buried so that they could go pay respects.
"You're actually taking her there?"
"It's a first step to saying goodbye and for Ash to heal from what happened to them."
"Good. Its well past time," Sullivan responded. They said goodbye and then Scribbs went back to the bedroom, where she saw that Ash was still asleep. She hesitated, and was tempted to go back to sleep with her wife. Instead, she went to get ready for the day that lay ahead. She was halfway through getting her clothes on when Ash shifted to a sitting position. Scribbs went to the bed and kissed her wife.
"Good morning," Scribbs said. When her wife didn't reply right away, she continued, "I thought maybe we could go out for breakfast. Lucy and Rachel don't open the shop until eleven on Saturdays."
"That sounds fine," Ash replied slowly. Scribbs rubbed the brunette's back before she left the bedroom and put her shoes on. She smirked at the fact that 'old Ash' would have had words with her about that, seeing as she was still in the flat.
Once Ash was out of the shower and dressed, they left the flat and made it to one of Ash's favorite restaurants. They were silent at the table as they ordered and ate, but Scribbs was comforted when Ash absently reached for her hand about halfway through and held it, forcing her to eat her breakfast with one hand.
The restaurant was less than a mile away from the flower shop their friends owned, so the two detectives walked, which seemed to help Ash. As soon as they got to the street the flower shop was on, they saw H right away, carrying a water tin and a broom with her. When the girl looked their way, she waved to them. "Miss Ash 'n' Scribbs are here! Do I have to do this now?" she called to those inside.
There wasn't a reply, but Rachel's head was seen peeking out of the shop, as if she didn't believe that their new friends really were there and that H had used it as an excuse to get out of doing work. Rachel smiled at them, unsure of what to say to them.
"Hi," Scribbs said, waving back. When Ash and Scribbs made it to them all three of them went into the shop, where Lucy was looking over something in a catalog of some sort and marking it up. She looked up and gave them a weak smile, though the tension of the night before hung all around.
"Are you better today?" H was the first to ask. Ash looked down at the girl and nodded.
H was silent for a second as she picked at her shirt for something invisible. "I think... I think you're lying," the girl stated carefully, as if afraid she would get in trouble for her words.
"Yeah, I am. I'm sorry," Ash responded. "I was actually hoping that I might talk to you about what happened last night. If it's okay with you and Rachel and Lucy,"Ash added.
"It's fine with me," Rachel said slowly, looking from Ash to Scribbs.
"We can walk a bit if you like," H offered, and Ash nodded gratefully.
"Darling, I'll go with H, and you can tell Rachel and Lucy here." It was Scribbs' turn to nod. Ash and H left then, and walked around the corner. After a moment, H put her hands in her pockets nervously "I want to apologize to you, H," Ash started off. "I know that my behavior last night must have scared or hurt you. I need you to know that it wasn't your fault that I acted that way towards you." The brunette waited for something else to come to her, for something else to say right away. She really just wanted to see what H would say to her words, if she would share something about the night before that might be necessary to talk about.
H was quiet for another moment as they rounded another corner, then she said, "I've been thinking about it. Scribbs told us that you were remembering an old case. Never in my entire life did I want to be anyone more than I wanted to be Toby so that I could tell you that it was alright, that..." H's hands left her pockets and she gestured, lifting them up and then letting them fall to her sides.
"I appreciate that," Ash said with a small smile when the girl couldn't seem to continue. "We'll have to get together again to make up for it." H nodded. The brunette thought of something and reached into her pocket for the small photo Scribbs had given her the night before while they had talked about the case. She swallowed as she glanced at it, and then she slowly handed the picture to the girl at her side, who took it as if it were a fragile egg. She stopped walking then, and Ash followed suit, watching as H stared for a long time at the photo.
"She must have been a lot like me."
"Yes. You and she would probably have been good friends had you been the same age."
"I'm sorry she's dead," H said after another moment. The brunette could hear the waver in her voice, and she saw tears well in her eyes, but they had yet to fall. Ash nodded as a tear of her own fell silently.
"Me too," the detective said. She was surprised when H suddenly latched onto her in a hug, and she put an arm around her in return.
"I'm sure it's not your fault. You're a really good person, Miss Ash."
Ash didn't know what to say to that. She wanted to tell H that good people made mistakes too, but that wasn't really a conversation she wanted to have with the girl. Silence fell between them as they walked around the square, leading them back to the flower shop.
Meanwhile, Scribbs stood awkwardly next to Rachel as Lucy helped a custumer who had come in just as Ash and H had stepped out. After suggesting azaleas, the woman paid and left happy. When Lucy looked expectantly at Scribbs, the blonde detective said, "Ash remembered an old case last night. That wasn't a lie. It was one of those cases that you sort of wish you could forget, but are grateful to its memory because it reminds you why you do what we do everyday. Unfortunately, H happened to resemble someone from Ash's past."
"Is she okay?" Rachel asked.
"I think she will be."
"Can I ask a question?" Lucy asked, and Scribbs nodded.
"When we first met you as a customer to the shop, you spoke about Ash as a friend, but-"
"But then you introduced her as your wife the other night," Rachel finished.
Scribbs took in a deep breath and decided in that split moment that she would speak the truth. She looked outside to make sure Ash wasn't anywhere near them. Then she walked back inside. "It's a rather complicated situation. If I could tell you everything I would. When Ash woke up after her coma, she thought we were married. Some of her memories of us mixed with her daydreams of us, and it confused her." Scribbs looked at the door when she heard voices, but she only saw two teenagers singing Celine Dion and laughing at each other. "At first, I went along with it to help her get better. She was so happy... But I... I..." Scribbs realized that she was about to say out loud that she'd fallen in love with Ash, but she felt that her partner should be the first to know this, as soon as she regained all of her memories of their true relationship.
"You said so the other night that you're married where it counts," Lucy said. Scribbs looked at her and smiled with her relief evident on her face.
"Yeah, we are." She said. Scribbs thought on this for a second. She liked the way that sounded, and she hoped she remembered to remind Ash of that once she remembered whom she really was.
"Has any of her other memories come back?"
"She's got a few, yeah, but not as much as the doctor hoped. We all thought she'd remember all of the important things by now."
"She remembered her love for you," Lucy said, and Scribbs nodded.
All three women looked up when they heard Ash and H speaking to each other before they both entered the shop. "H forgives me," Ash said with a small smile.
"H had nothing to forgive," the girl countered, giving Ash one last hug before letting her go. "If you want, I can help you pick out flowers for Toby," H offered. The brunette followed the girl around the shop. Scribbs watched them as Rachel went to the back for something and Lucy helped an elderly man who wanted a small bouquet of flowers for his caregiver's birthday.
A few minutes later, Ash had two small bouquets of red and yellow flowers. The two detectives stood before Rachel, H, and Lucy, a small silence between them as Ash paid for the flowers, insisting even after Lucy told her they were on the house. Then Scribbs finally said, "We've got plenty of food from last night-"
"I'll be there," H cut in, suddenly animated, as if she had been waiting for the invitation for a while. Scribbs laughed.
"Glad to hear it," she said. She looked at H's guardians and they nodded.
"We'll be by, say seven?" Lucy asked, checking around the shop as if to process how long it would take for them to close up. H jumped and made a 'yee' type sound of excitement.
"Alright. Seven," Ash confirmed. She smiled at the girl.
Scribbs looked around for a notebook and written down their address when H suddenly called out, "Oh!" as if to just remember something, "Do you have a VCR?"
"Yeah, why?" Scribbs wondered as Rachel and Lucy both had looks of slight dread about them.
"You'll see." H then walked to them to the door of the shop, and after saying goodbye, she picked up the broom and began to sweep the sidewalk.
Ash and Scribbs walked hand in hand back to the car and drove off to the cemetery where both Erik Kingsley and Toby Marks were buried. Being closer to the entrance, they went to Toby's gravesite first, and they stood a moment in silence.
Scribbs wanted Ash to talk a little more about it all, but she wasn't sure if then was the right time. Ash let go of Scribbs' hand before she went to her knees, gently picking at the grass that had grown around the plot with Toby's name on it. Then she put the flowers there. "These are from H more than they're from me. I think you'd like her. She's a lot like you were." Ash was silent for a moment as her tears fell, and Scribbs took one deliberate step towards her wife, making a little bit of noise to remind her that she was there for her. "I'm sorry I've not been by. I didn't want to face the fact that you're gone, that I had lied to you. I said it was going to be alright... and it wasn't. I still let that beast hurt you. I couldn't face it, Toby. I couldn't face it, but I should've come by, anyway. I know that you would've wanted me to." There was another short silence before Ash said, "I'm sorry." She stood then, backing up a couple of steps and reaching behind her. Seeing this, Scribbs took her wife's hand and together they stood.
After a few more very long minutes, Ash tugged on Scribbs' hand, and the blonde was surprised when she ended up being led to Erik Kinsley's plot. Unlike at Toby's gravesite, Ash remained standing and silent, the tears on her face a constant stream. Scribbs knew that her wife still felt she deserved that plot instead. She didn't know how she would've felt if this were something that happened to her, if Sullivan were to have sent her home and then gone after a suspect in her place, only to get killed on the job.
Scribbs heard whispers from Ash, and she knew that the brunette was saying a prayer as she'd seen her do before when they'd gone to a couple of funerals together. They stayed a little bit longer after that before Ash felt she was ready to go. They made it home, where the silence continued as they worked together to clean the flat. At about six-thirty, Ash prepared to put the leftover food in the cooker while Scribbs put a pinch of fish food into Upy's tank.
About twenty minutes later, there was a knock at the door, and Scribbs went to answer it. She was attacked by H, and she almost fell over by the force of the preteen's hug. "Ung- Hey," Scribbs said. "I didn't know you were that happy to see us."
"Of course I am!"
"She's been bouncy the last two hours or so," Rachel explained with a smile. When her sister went on to hug Ash with the same force, Rachel leaned forward to hug Scribbs. Scribbs was surprised to receive a hug from Lucy as well. The redhead gave a sort of 'everyone's doing it' shrug as she backed away to give Ash a hug as well. Then as a joke, she turned and gave H a hug, as she was the closest to her.
"Hugs for all," Lucy said as H wriggled her way out of her aunt's grasp.
"I brought a tape," H announced, holding up the said item. "I thought we'd watch it after we eat."
"Sure, what is it?"
" 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?', the American version," H responded with a grin as both Rachel and Lucy made the familiar faces from earlier that day. "I thought we could use a laugh," she explained. Ash smiled at the thoughtfulness of the girl, and she seemed to like that idea.
"Thank you. That is really thoughtful," the brunette said. She went back into the kitchen to get the food out of the cooker. "You're just in time," Ash told her guests.
The five sat down to eat, H seated happily between Lucy and Ash, and the conversation was light, mostly about the flower shop and H's friends and family back in London. After they ate and this time Rachel helped with clean up, the five settled in on the sofa or the floor to watch the two episodes Heck had recorded while living with a friend of his in Philadelphia. H had explained that he would record an episode once a week when he wasn't busy and send it to her with his weekly letter, and if he could find the whole set in one place, that he would buy it for her. She knew that he was just being nice, as he could have easily found it on the Internet, but she liked that he took the time to record the show for her, advertisements and everything. ("It's not only the improv itself I like, but the adverts are funny, too," she'd said.) The evening stayed pretty mellow after H's initial jittery behavior. She settled down a bit during the TV show, distracted by the antics of the Colin Mocherie/Ryan Styles duo. Afterwards, Scribbs had found a deck of character cards from when Marcie had visited, and they spent an hour teaching each other card games. It was almost ten before Lucy decided they should go, and they all said goodbye, Rachel holding on to their own Tupperware with new leftovers in it. Ash and Scribbs locked up and joined each other in bed.
Sullivan was the first to comment on Ash's new changes. Though the brunette was always confident and tall in her stride into work, there was definitely something different since the visit to the cemetery to say goodbye. Other people also commented on the difference in attitude, to which Ash would always reply, "I'm happy." The same could be said for Scribbs, though in her case she knew that it was because married life with Ash suited her so well. This scared her only because she knew that soon it would end, and the not knowing when worried her. She always tried to push that aside. She didn't want to be without Ash now that she knew what it felt like to be in love, even if it was only a matter of time before it got taken away.
Ash and Scribbs were on their way back from an inquiry, their conversation going from predictions about the murderer's possible motives to playful banter over Clue-like conclusions, when Ash had turned her mobile on to see that her brother had called. She checked the answerphoneand laughed at the voice of slight panic. David wasn't in any real distress, but he claimed he needed to get away from the pratts he worked with. He topped his offer off with a promise to bring pictures from the park. Ash called David back and they spoke for a few minutes. After a quick question and a 'Yeah' from Scribbs, Ash invited her brother over for dinner, which he gladly accepted. Scribbs noticed that she'd had more dinner guests over in the last two weeks than she had in a year. Having Ash over the many times she had didn't count, as Scribbs never cooked for her.
That night, David came by, a thick envelope in one hand and take away in the other. "I knew there was a reason I liked you," Scribbs said, helping David by taking the food and his arm, leading him inside.
"Hi Sis," David said playfully to Scribbs with a kiss on the cheek. David may have used a teasing nickname, but Scribbs could tell that the sentiment was genuine, and this made her redden a little bit. "Katie," he said, moving to Ash to give her a hug and a kiss on the cheek as well. Scribbs took out the Chinese food and divided the entrées into separate dishes while Ash got the silverware and wine.
"You couldn't wait until tomorrow to come by, huh? Had to escape before the week ended?" Scribbs asked playfully, pouring wine into the three glasses. David made a face, which caused Ash to laugh at her brother.
"Not a day goes by where I don't want to quit," he said bitterly.
"I'm sorry. It must be rough to be in a position where your dream job is no longer desirable," Scribbs said carefully. David shrugged.
"I thought about looking into a couple of publishing companies. You know, take pictures for book covers and such."
At this, Ash's wine glass paused on its way to her lips. "Have you tried for that yet, or is this still in the thinking stage?"
"No, not yet. It's only been a thought so far."
"I'd definitely look into it. From what I understand, it is a slower pace than 'Hello' is," Ash said encouragingly, and David smiled. He let out a sigh as he sank a little more into his chair.
"So how is work going for you two?"
"Same sort of thing all the time," Ash said. "If Emma wasn't my partner, I'm sure it'd be a lot worse." For the second time in minutes, Scribbs blushed.
"It's gotta be nice to have your wife also be someone you work closely with as well," David said before he took a large bite of noodles.
"I always heard it wasn't a good idea, that work and personal issues tend to run together, but it works for us so far," Scribbs added in, and Ash nodded in agreement.
The Ashursts and Scribbs continued their talk of work and love (or in David's case, the lack thereof) as they finished off the food and then went into the living room, where David opened the envelope with the pictures from Britannia Park. Scribbs found herself liking the flower shots, being exposed to a lot of greenery since Ash's fall, but when the stack got to shots of her and her wife together, she was surprised by how vibrant David had manage to make them seem.
"Did you develop these in your dark room?" Ash asked, handing Scribbs the close up picture of their joined hands. She received a nod from her brother. Ash paused as she stared at the most beautiful image she had ever seen. Unknown to either detective, David had captured a private moment between them, a kiss that had been shared. Ash's eyes were closed, her hair in a ponytail with a few escaped strands down the side of her face. She handed the photo to Scribbs, who let out a soft 'wow'.
The next picture was even more amazing than the last. In that same moment, David had captured a picture of Scribbs' hand to Ash's face to tuck the said strands behind the brunette's ear. Ash's eyes were downcast with a somewhat shy smile, and anyone could tell that a blush was soon to show on her cheeks. Ash handed that picture to her wife as well, impressed with them both. As the photo passed from one detective to the other, their eyes caught each other almost as if to recreate the moment before Scribbs looked away with a smile of her own.
"You're too cute together," David remarked playfully, and Ash gave him a Look. Neither Ashurst sibling said anything after that, as if they weren't in the mod for banter, which was a shame, as the two together amused Scribbs. Somehow, the conversation went to their past, and the banter slowly came back as they argued over the stories and how they should be told. Scribbs was surprised at just how rebellious Ash was as a teen during summers away from school. Granted, most of the time it was because of David, but Ash had a couple of stories to tell as well, from sneaking off to see friends in the middle of the night to the time she had a high speed chase on horseback after she'd been caught looking in Victor Garrison's daughter's bedroom. That was our father's boss at the time," David added for Scribbs' benefit.
"Kate, I never took you for a peeping tom," the blonde said, which caused her wife to blush. "What I wanna know, Scribbs began, "is how you all didn't know she was gay after that incident."
"Well, he had a son also, about three years older than the daughter, and we thought she had just gotten the wrong window," David explained.
"But I was there for about a half an hour before anyone caught me," Ash said, and if Scribbs wasn't mistaken, there was a hint of pride in her voice.
"Should I be jealous?" Scribbs asked playfully.
"Never, Darling," Ash replied, grabbing her wife's hand.
"Good, because otherwise, I would have to hunt her down and smack her around a little," Scribbs decided. A couple of hours (and many stories of Ashurst hijinx) later, David looked at his watch.
"Oh, I better head off. Last train of the night, see. I'll be late getting home as it is. It really was nice to see you two again. You've really kept my mind off of work."
"Look into the publishing idea or even freelance work," Ash suggested. "Weddings and other events. It may not pay as much as working for the magazine, but you're better off working on your own, I mean, look at these!" Ash said, taking another look at the photos David had brought with him. The younger Ashurst smiled with the praise, and he divided some of the photos so Ash and Scribbs got to keep the two they loved the most, as well as a few of the floral shots from the park. Ash wished that H had been there. She wondered what she would have looked like in the moments David would have caught of the girl.
The three of them all stood up at the same time. "Thanks for the encouragement, Katie. Walk me out?" David asked after giving Scribbs another hug. Ash nodded and the two left the flat, David's arm draped over his sister's shoulders. Scribbs went about cleaning up, and then she looked at the pictures. She noticed David's jacket draped around the char back, and she went to the window overlooking the street.
"You forgot your jacket!" she called down.
"Go ahead and drop it down. I'll catch it."
"I doubt that. I've seen you play cricket," Ash quipped.
"I think I can catch a falling jacket," David said somewhat sourly. Scribbs let out a laugh as she dropped the jacket, watching as Ash reached out and caught it with one hand. Something fell out of the pocket when she did, and it fell into the shrubs. "It's alright," David said quickly as Ash went to get it, "its just a receipt."
"Its littering if we don't pick it up," Ash replied, bending to get it. She looked at the paper, realizing that it was a photo. She squinted at it, seeing that it was exactly like one of the photos David had shown them of her and Scribbs on a couch together, only the one she now held had Ash alone.
"Oh!" David laughed. "I forgot about that picture. I did that as a joke with the Photoshop program. I wanted to put in Jennifer Aniston and show it to you, but I couldn't find one of her that matched to look as if she was sitting by you." David watched with a flicker of horror as Ash stared at it.
"You should have used Nicole Kidman. I like her far better. Even so, I'd have to tell her that I'm a happily married woman. Can I keep this?"
"Er- yeah." David said quickly, unsure why her sister would want it.
"Thank you," she said. Ash hugged her brother. "Be safe on your way back," she called after David as he walked towards the busses. Slowly, she walked back into the flat.
"Are you alright?" Scribbs asked upon seeing her slightly distracted wife.
"Yes," Ash replied absently. "My brother's weird." There was a pause as Scribbs watched her. "Well, he is," the brunette insisted, showing her wife the photo. She told her what had happened downstairs. Scribbs tried her best not to pale.
A few hours later, Scribbs woke up to find her wife wasn't beside her. A glance at the clock on her bedside table told her that she had at least a couple of hours before she needed to be up. She heard nothing in the bathroom and slowly, the blonde sat up, the blanket uncovering her naked torso. She slipped into a shirt and pants fro the night before, which had been tossed to the end of the bed, and went to the living room, where she saw her wife, hair a mess and in her robe. Scribbs was about to ask why she was up when Ash's gaze met hers, and the question she had been dreading was finally asked. "We're not really married, are we, Scribbs?" The use of her nickname was a punch in the chest.
The blonde wanted to say that they were and then to ask what made her think otherwise, but one look into Ash's eyes told her that she was remembering everything, even as she sat there watching her. Looking into Ash's eyes told her that she was about to lose her. "No... We aren't."
Ash was glad she was sitting down when the blonde told her that they weren't really married. "What was this, then? Therapy after my fall?" Scribbs wanted to say something, but she couldn't seem to. She stared at Ash as the brunette stared down at the coffee table, where two copies of the same picture were, one with Scribbs in it, and one without. "I should have known that something was wrong," Ash continued in a murmur, more to herself than to the blonde beside her. "This whole time since I got out of the hospital I knew that there was something that... was just not right. I knew something was missing, but I hoped that it would go back to normal... After a while, things were better between us. Almost perfect. It all makes sense now." She sat in silence, and Scribbs tried to force out the words she needed to say, that she loved Ash, and at first it was a little awkward before the feelings started. The blonde opened her mouth many times, kicking herself for not finding the words to say, for making it worse for not saying anything.
Ash let out an unlady-like chortle, a noise of false amusement and pain. "The night we fought when you said that we weren't married... I thought you were just trying to hurt me for what I'd said, but..." Realization marked her face as she said, "And that man. He really was your date!" Ash seemed disgusted by the very thought of it, and Scribbs took a step closer to her to reassure her. She tried to reach for the brunette's hand, but Ash stood up and walked a couple of steps away from her. Scribbs stopped moving immediately when she saw this, and noticed that Ash had her hands together, her index and thumb fingers grasping her wedding band.
Scribbs took in a deep breath and forced herself to let go of the fear surrounding the words she needed to say, knowing that the fear of losing Ash to her silence was far greater. She was sure something was crawling around in her chest as she began to speak. "It doesn't matter now, Kate. It doesn't. I love you," Scribbs said, and her voice lowered as she went on, "I fell in love with you-"
"No," Ash cut her off with a shake of her head. This was an unexpected responce. Ash's hands nervously played with the wedding ring as she seemed to think this over, and murmured, "You couldn't have." She looked around the flat, seeing a mix and match of her and Scribbs' things. She knew why they never bought anything together because they never did, except for poor Upy, who didn't know what was going on between the two women who owned him. As the realization of what all had gone on in the past month came to her, her cheeks reddened. "You sacrificed your home, your time, your- your bed... All to make sure that I was okay so that I didn't-" Ash couldn't finish the sentance, because she didn't know what what she would or wouldn't have done in the state she had been in, had Scribbs not been there as her wife, especially when the brunette had begun to remember Toby.
"It's hardly a sacrifice if you love someone, Ash. That is what marriage is," Scribbs said softly. Ash looked down at the ring on her finger and slowly pulled it off, as if what the blonde had said was the only thing she needed to hear to make up her mind. Scribbs watched with a pounding heart as the brunette took the steps neccisary to stand directly before her.
As she placed the ring in the blonde's hands, Ash murmured, "But we aren't married, Scribbs." With that, Ash stepped past her and, too hurt to speak, Scribbs could only stand there, staring at the golden band in her palm. She barely registered the sound of the bedroom door closing.
The blonde couldn't help but to feel like Frodo, holding a golden ring in the palm of her open hand, the wieght of it almost too much to bare. Just the fact that this analogy came to her mind at all reminded her that she had been reading too many of her neice's Elijah Wood-obsessed emails. Still, she felt it to be true. She let her fingers curl around the metal, feeling how warm it still was from Ash's hand. Her mind screamed over and over again those same words Lucy had used to describe both the relationship between their friends as well as her own relationship with Ash.
'We're married where it counts!' Scribbs couldn't seem to move, to go to Ash and to say those very words. She felt as if it was too late to tell her this, even though the brunette was only in the next room. She was sure that Ash wouldn't believe her if she tried- she was so stubborn- and she wasn't even sure if it would make the situation better or worse if she had.
Once Ash felt safe away from Scribbs' puppy-dog eyes, she sighed deeply as tears fell. She wasn't sure which emotion she felt more: heartbroken or humiliated. She had spent the last few weeks on the stage of a play she hadn't known she was the star of, a pantomime of the life she'd once had and the life she wanted. All of these feelings of returned love and those memories of a married life were false. All that she really had to go on of things that had happened, were the last few weeks after her fall, and even that was an act. Ash's face went red again. "God, I practically jumped my best friend in the shower, and then again that night," she said to herself, embaressed by her behavior. 'And Scribbs had put up with it because she hoped it would somehow help me get better. Am I the first woman she'd ever slept with?' she asked herself, remembering the slow and tentative ways Scribbs had touched her. At the time, she thought the blonde had been afraid of hurting her, but now she knew better.
The fact that Scribbs now knew the brunette's two most guarded peices of herself made Ash feel a hundred times more vulnerable than she had ever been at the hospital, and she wasn't sure how she was to handle this. Ash never wanted Scribbs to know about her unrequited love for her or about how deeply the death of Toby Marks had affected her. Over the course of only weeks, Scribbs learned things about her that even her family never knew, her routines and small idiosyncrocies that she hoped to forever keep hidden, yet Scribbs had witnessed all of it simply by being her wife for a while.
What had hurt the most was what Scribbs had said there in the living room, that she had fallen in love with her. Ash wanted more than anything to believe it with all of her heart, with her soul, but she feared that Scribbs had fallen into this role out of neccessity and over time had forgotten that it wasn't real, their new roles in eachother's lives. She didn't want to trap Scribbs by those words and make her feel badly if, in another couple of weeks, she decides she didn't quite feel the way she thought she did when they were 'married'. Ash kept her eyes away from the messied sheets and blankets on the bed as she got out the small suitcase Scribbs had brought to her in the hospital and began packing some of her clothes. She left out some for herself for the day, and as she saw the time on the alarm clock, and she knew she needed to pack a little more later so that Scribbs would have time to shower as well.
She hurried into the shower herself and went about her morning routine, but her mind was filled of images of them together as she supposed it always will be, whether it be a memory of the last month or so, or more of those silly daydreams that she suspected got her into this to begin with. She stopped her mind from remembering her and Scribbs making love, taking baths together, dancing in the living room, or even doing mundane things like cleaning the flat or watching television together. After experiancing those weeks with Scribbs, whether or not the blonde had been pretending to love her in return, Ash was surprised by how different her daydreams were, the ones she had confused with reality. She was surprised by how reality had proven to be so much better than anything she could come up with in a daydream, and that hurt. At these thoughts, Ash hurried and she got out, afraid of lingering at the flat for too long and eventually changing her mind. She changed quickly into her clothes and packed a little more before leaving the room. She was surprised to see Scribbs right outside the door, and she slithered along the opposite wall in attempt not to touch her, even though her heart and body wanted nothing more than to do just that.
Scribbs, on the other hand, barely looked up when the brunette walked past her. She wanted to, but she'd seen the suitcase in her hand, and feared breaking down. Once Ash was out of the small hallway, she turned into the bedroom. She got her own clothes ready, and she, too, looked at the bed, staring longingly as she wished for the last twelve hours to rewind. Part of her was angry at David for having both photos on him the night before, and allowing for Ash to find them and figure things out, but she knew she was just as much to blame. Had she known the photo was there, she would have taken it out of the jacket before tossing it down. Even if she had done any of those 'if only' scenarios, she knew that Ash's memories would have come back regardless. She should have found a way to tell Ash that they weren't married, and she was going to, but she wanted a few more memories to come back first, and she was being selfish, wanting to say with Ash longer.
As Scribbs took her own shower, her body felt numb, and she saw over again the suitcase in Ash's hand and the way the brunette feared touching her. She screamed at herself again for not saying something in hopes of changing her mind, but nothing came to her then, either, and she'd remained silent. She had far too much to say, and it was trying to come out all at once, causing a traffic jam on the way from her heart and mind to her mouth. It was as if her heart and mind weren't communicating with eachother and Scribbs wasn't speaking at all as a result. Because of this, she knew that she would lose Ash for good. At this thought, Scribbs pounded her fist into the tile and hurt her pinky finger. Scribbs didn't care, though. She didn't want for Ash to go. She didn't want this married life she helped build a few weeks ago to end. She wanted it to last the rest of their lives, just as Ash had intended.
About halfway through her shower, the water went cold, and she silently cursed Ash for taking the hot water, but felt badly immediately afterwards. She forced herself to painfully think of their lovemaking the night before just so she could finish washing her hair. She got out of the shower quickly, and as she was drying off, she felt her own wedding band slip off a little bit. Scribbs stared at it before she slowly but surely took it completely off and set it on the wardrobe, where she had placed Ash's ring only moments before. Together, with one slanted over the other, the rings looked like they belonged in the perfect wedding photo, and Scribbs swallowed before she dressed and left the room.
As soon as Ash saw her, she said, "I'm going to need a ride into work today. Its too late to call for a cab." The brunette was packing up a couple of her CD's as she spoke.
"Yes, of course," Scribbs replied, but it sounded dry and choked. She cleared her thoat softly and said again, "Of course."
"I should have all of my things out of your flat by the end of the weekend," Ash continued, and there was no doubt there in her voice. Scribbs watched as Ash moved about, getting as much as she could carry. The brunette's spine was straight and her movements were ridgid. Scribbs could see all rules and boundaries back in place. Ash and Scribbs were collegues and nothing more, and the blonde knew with a deep sadness that to the brunette, she was no longer Emma.
Already, Scribbs didn't like the silence between them in the car. Of course, this wasn't the first silence- or even awkward silence they'd been in together, but usually the tension was broken by a conversation about work or men, or if they felt they must remain in silence, it was usually comfortable. Scribbs knew and understood that anything she said wouldn't have made things better, especially since all she wanted to do was talk about that morning, something they didn't have enough time to do, anyway. Even if they weren't running late, her ability to speak left much to be desired.
Scribbs wasn't sure what would happen between them now. She knew that she had no choice but to give Ash space for the day, to let her choose the relationship's fate for them if she hadn't already. She knew that no matter what Ash chose for them, nothing will be the same. Both relationships had the ability to become a lot stronger or crumble entirely. Knowing the things that had hurt Ash would make them closer as friends, even though Scribbs knew it would be hard to go back to being 'just friends'. She'd do it if that was what Ash wanted. As a married couple, that bond would be closer now that everything was out in the open. If their relationships crumbled, Scribbs knew that it would be due to the fact that either one of them- most likely Ash- would always wonder what other secrets were held, what lies were told. And if Ash chose that she wanted nothing more to do with Scriobbs at all...
Looking to her left for a split second, Scribbs began, "Ash, I-"
"Pull over," Ash cut in suddenly. Up until that point, she had been staring out the window, but judging by the lack of eye contact and head movement, she wasn't seeing any of the scenery. The fact that she only spoke right then, when Scribbs had, took the blonde by surprise, especially since Ash had her hand now on the door handle as she looked ahead of them at the road.
"What?" Scribbs failed to hide her surprise, and she also looked ahead of them for a second to see if there was an emergency. She pulled over to the nearest spot she could even as she asked this. Ash opened the door before the car could come to a complete stop. Under other circumstances, Scribbs would have reminded Ash of her own rules about moving vehicles. "Wait a minute! We're over a mile away and running late as it is!"
"I could do with a the walk. Sullivan'll understand," the brunette replied briskly. Scribbs became concerned, as it was Ash's need for walks that started this whole thing.
"Its really no problem. You can take a walk at lunch, can't you?" This got no reply. "Kate!" she called with some protest in her voice.
At this, the DI leaned back down and held Scribbs' gaze through the slightly opened door. This was the first time she saw into Ash's eyes since she knew the truth about their relationship. "Don't," she said. "Please." There was a moment of silence as Scribbs was rendered speechless yet again. Ash broke eye contact first and went to get her suitcase. She let it roll behind her as she closed both the back and passenger side doors.
Scribbs fought against the sting in her eyes as she watched Ash walk away, the wheels of the suitcase making its gritty sound on the pavement as it trailed after her. 'Honestly, is being in the car with me THAT bad?' Scribbs wondered. She felt the lingering surprise mix with the ever present hurt as Ash finally turned a corner, and she realized that Ash was walking towards the school. 'Perhaps she'll see H there today,' Scibbs' thoughts went on. 'If nothing else, she'll get a little joy from seeing her.' Finally, Scribbs let out a quivered sigh as she tried to get control of her emotions. Slowly, she got the car back on the street and manuevered her way into work.
With each breath Ash sucked in as she walked, she felt the moisture in the air and saw the mist coming from her mouth and nose. It seemed all she could see or do was force her feet to move at the same time she forced her thoughts away. Everytime she tried, the same thoughts rushed to the surface: 'She lied to me. We're not really married. She can't really love me.' She looked ahead of her and realized where she was going. She saw that she was closer to Britania Park, where they'd had the picnic with her brother. Ash wished that she'd taken a different way, but knew that had she stayed on that main street, Scribbs would have tried to stop her again. Her steps faultered only slightly when she saw the tree that she and Scribbs had sat under while David had gone mad with the camera. Then, remembering that she was running late as it was, she forced one foot in front of the other again.
She heard the sound of a car on the street behind her about a minute later, but when it didn't pass her as she expected it to, she ignored it, thinking that Scribbs had followed her after all. She was surprised when she glanced back to see that it was Sullivan instead. The broad man waved to her, then checked his mirrors. When he saw no one behind him, he slowed further to the brunette's walking pace. "Fancy a lift?" he asked. Ash stared for a second beofre she nodded. She was running late, after all. It wouldn't look as badly on her if she were to arrive late with Sullivan. Well, considering the fact that everyone seemed to know about her so called relationship with Scribbs by then, maybe it would look bad on her for not walking in with her partner like she had before. She felt that it was a small issue. Ash waited for Sullivan to stop completely before she got inside, twisting her body to place her suitcase into the back.
Unlike the car ride with Scribbs, being with Sullivan, Ash felt calmer, at least until he cleared his throat nervously and asked, "So uh, is everything alright between you and-"
"And my false wife?" Ash cut in. She tried for anger, but found she couldn't do it. She looked over at her boss and friend to find his jaw working. There was a look on his face that Ash easily interpreted as guilt. He turned his head quickly to meet her eye before looking back at the road. Ash also looked at the road ahead of them. "Did you help her lie to me?"
Sullivan's eyes flickered to the left before going to the steering wheel. "Her best friend woke up after a four day coma and the first thing she says is that she won't speak to anyone but her wife. Up until that point, she had no clue that you were gay. When the only thing that seemed to make sense to you, Ash, was seeing her face, what else could she do? She went in to calm you down, and we hoped that once you spoke with Dr. Pellow, your memories would come back little by little... But it didn't.
"It was my idea to have Scribbs continue to play your wife when it looked like the memories weren't coming back right away. Er- After all, it'd by then already been said. She was opposed to deceiving you, but there seemed to be no other option. It was really only a choice of hurting you then, telling you the truth about Scribbs while you were still dealing with everyhting else, or wait until the memories came back and hope that it hurt less in the long run."
Ash was surprised to hear that it wasn't Scribb's idea to continue with the lie. In her mind, the brunette had been convinced that Scribbs had acted alone, which she knew was silly. It took a lot to fool someone like her the way they had, to play along with her delusions. Of course, Sullivan and even David helped her.
"I don't regret it," Sullivan said suddenly, and the strength and confidence of the statement made Ash look over at him with somewhat of a scowl on her face. This statement had cut into her personal debate on whether or not she should consider speaking with Scribbs. "It may not have been the way you both lived for the last seven years, but in that month you two were together, you healed from much more than that fall of yours. Those two things you kept so close to the vest were no longer keeping you down and I've never seen you happier. Those who matter now know that you're gay, and now that Scribbs knows about Toby, you've finally allowed yourself to grieve. You're freer now, Ash. She did more to help you in one month than I ever could've hoped to do for you in the entire time I've known you."
Ash's scowl was gone now. "I know you tried," she said.
"And I know you sent the flowers every year with the card, but I just couldn't-"
"I understand. I really do," Sullivan cut in gently. "I just wanted you to konw that I was there for you, that's all."
"Its ironic that even before my fall, I'd forgotten how good of friends we were."
"Well," Sullivan said slowly as he considered this, "as long as you remember now." If the broad man wasn't driving and if they weren't so close to work, Ash would have hugged him. It just seemed to be that sort of moment, and she really needed one.
"I want nothing more than to forget that I remember just so that I could go home to Scribbs-" 'Go home... to Scribbs.' The phrase never felt more right to Ash, but she forced it away in order to give herself the strength to finish the sentance. "-but I can't bind her to this... relationship when it began in the way it had."
Sullivan didn't know how to reply to this, so he said nothing and nodded, if only to aknowledge that the brunette had been heard. When he entered the carpark, he asked, "Do you need a ride later?"
"I've got to get a truck so I can begin moving my things out of Scribbs' flat... and vice versa."
"I've got a free day. I'll help you," the broad man said. His tone left no room for protest, so Ash didn't. She smiled weakly as the car stopped. She needed the help, and with Sullivan there, the task wouldn't seem so bad. The two friends got out and walked inside the CID. As Ash had predicted, she got questioning stares, some even flickering between her and Scribbs.
"Boss, I was told to let you know that- Ash." Scribbs stopped moving and talking once she saw the two of them together. She made a face that seemed to say 'Never mind', and went back to work. The two supervisors looked after her; both hadn't missed the hurt and jealousy that had crossed her face before she'd turned away.
To Be Continued
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