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


Chapter 4

Ash's smile was instant when she saw Scribbs come into the room. "So what did you discuss?" she asked, accepting Scribbs' hand as soon as the blonde sat in a chair beside her bed.

"You know what was discussed. You'll be coming home soon if your scan tomorrow proves you are able to. We've got to get you back into your routines and hope your memories come back. I know you must be sick of them, but I'm also supposed to ask you questions to see what you remember, and what you might not."

"I remember that I love you," Ash said. "Even before I woke up, I knew that much." The left corner of Scribbs' mouth lifted in a small smile.

"Do you remember what it was like in there?"

"Yeah, I remember a dream. I was in a large field, and I was watching two girls, H and another boyish redheaded girl-"


"For Henrietta, I believe. I met her right before the fall, and she gave me a riddle," Ash answered. Scribbs made a mental note to herself. She wasn't sure if that was something that really happened on Ash's walk, or if, like the marriage, it was just something she drew conclusions from.

"So these girls were in your dream."

"They were kicking a football about, and there were people on broomsticks above us throwing footballs at each other. Then I was suddenly in an old classroom yelling at a little blonde prat because he turned someone's toad into paper and wrote all over it. The poor boy was crying so hard. Then... I heard your voice, and I tried to follow it but I couldn't find you. I realized I'd been in this place and I was content, but you weren't there. I knew that I would never be more than that with you gone. I heard you ask me to wake up, and then I heard beeping, then my mother's voice talking to David. The next thing I know, I see my brother." Ash squeezed Scribbs' hand. "And I got scared. At first, I thought I'd left one place without you in it only to enter another, as if my mind was playing a cruel trick on me."

"I'm sorry I wasn't there when you woke up, A-Kate," Scribbs said, quickly correcting herself. She saw the look on Ash's face, the fear and vulnerability that Scribbs hadn't quite seen before. She realized that, as her wife, Ash trusted her with these emotions; emotions that as her friend, she only saw the surface of. Scribbs knew that Ash needed someone like that during this time if she were to fully recover from the fall. Ash needed her wife, and Scribbs mentally stepped up to take on that role, wishing that Ash had always trusted her in that way, as she had trusted Ash.

'One thing's for certain,' Scribbs thought to herself, 'if I'm to be her wife, I'll have to be convincing while at the same time lie as little as possible.' She really didn't like lying to Ash, whether or not the brunette would see through it. What few lies she'd already told about the ring had hurt her, and she didn't know why. "Eh- Kate?"

"Yeah, Love?" Scribbs almost blushed at the endearment, which was said with such ease and conviction.

"When was our first date? Do you remember?" Scribbs asked gently. Ash thought for a second.

"I don't know the exact day, but it was the day I kissed Greg in front of everybody and you offered drinks or suicide." Scribbs vaguely remembered that Sullivan's first name was Greg(or something like that…), but she had never heard anyone else refer to him on first name basis.

"Yeah? What happened?"

"I remember getting pissed and crying on your shoulder about how stupid I'd been, even though I knew Greg would forgive me. We'd gone out to dinner afterwards, and I think I kissed you." Ash frowned in thought. "Or maybe I just really wanted to."

Scribbs remembered that day as well, and looking back, she could see why Ash would think that any one of their outings could be seen as a date. In fact, Scribbs realized, any one of their outings over the last few years could be seen as a date to someone looking in for the first time. The two women often found themselves trying out some posh restaurant or other because the men they dated never took them despite their hints, then going back to either's flat for a romantic comedy, in which Ash and Scribbs would add in their own commentaries.

"That was a good time," Scribbs said, trying hard to think. If Ash had wanted to kiss her, it would have showed, right? She remembered the look on Ash's face, and knowing what she knew now, it really was that clichéd awkward moment before a kiss. Why hadn't Scribbs noticed it then? It wasn't like she'd been looking out for the moment. She smiled inwardly; it seemed when it came to Ash, the blonde realized just how clueless she was.

"Yeah it was," Ash agreed. The brunette shifted a little bit so that she was settled. Scribbs tucked the blankets a little bit more and helped Ash rearrange her pillow. "Thank you, Darling."

"Mm. Welcome," Scribbs replied as she sat down again. "Hey," the blonde said softly, "you remember the case we had with the hex dolls?"

"Rubbish witchcraft."

"Which had you scared, wanting to burn them right away," Scribbs teased.

"I was not scared," Ash said indignantly.

"Please." There was a snort. "You kept saying you didn't believe in it, but I know you were as spooked as I was."

"I wasn't scared," Ash repeated, "I was playing along so you wouldn't feel badly because I knew you were." Ash then said under her breath, "One can never be too cautious."

Scribbs' look seemed to say 'uh huh, sure', and a silence fell between the two women. Though it was an awkward situation, it was easier staying with Ash in silence than it was to be silent in Sullivan's presence. Ash sighed in somewhat contentment as the silence continued. Scribbs saw her friend look at the window sill, her eyes landing on the vase of flowers. A nurse came in, the same rule abiding nurse from before, and she gave Ash her medication. Once the nurse left again, Ash's eyes went back to the windowsill and narrowed when she spotted the Harry Potter book. Scribbs held back her laughter and almost expected the paperback to go up in flames. Instead, Ash surprised her with her request. "Emma," she said, "I don't remember much of what you read before, but it filtered into my sub consciousness. Would you read some more of it to me?"

Scribbs stared at Ash as if to read her friend. She wasn't sure if the brunette was kidding or not, but she went to the windowsill and grabbed the paperback. She looked at the cover of the world famous novel and said, "I'm not sure how much time I have, but let's see if I can read through a good part." She read for another half hour or so, stopping long enough to explain bits and pieces Ash wasn't sure about until Ash began to fall asleep again.

Looking at the clock, it was nearing five in the evening when Ash fell asleep. Scribbs wrote the brunette a short note to reassure her that she'd be back after work and to behave for her. In the back of her mind, she couldn't help but think that the note should have been written for a child, not someone like Ash. Scribbs looked at Ash's face after she left the note where the older woman would find it. Despite the things she'd gone through, she looked somewhat at peace, and Scribbs really hoped she'd made the right decision.

Scribbs was so deep in thought thinking about Ash that she almost didn't notice how close she was to her partner's neighborhood. When she did notice, she decided to take a detour to see if there was anything she could grab from Ash's flat that might make the hospital stay a little better. Surely she couldn't be comfortable in the hospital gowns, and the clothes she'd worn the day of the fall were probably still dirty. Even if the outfit had been cleaned, Scribbs wasn't sure how she felt about Ash wearing that same suit again for any reason. Maybe, after she'd gotten Ash to her place and rested for a couple of days, she'd show her the outfit to see if it sparked any memories, but until then, Scribbs wanted nothing to do with it.

Within moments, Scribbs was in front of the main doors to Ash's building, and she rang the security for the landlady's flat. "Hello?" asked a suspicious voice over the speaker.

"Hello, my name is Emma Scribbins. I'm a friend of Kate Ashurst of number fourteen?"

"Is something the matter?" Mrs. Marks asked. She sounded concerned for her tenant, and in a small way, this surprised Scribbs. She'd only met Mrs. Marks once, and even then it was a passing glance in the hallway when she was leaving Ash's flat one evening. It was eerie to Scribbs how much Mrs. Marks reminded her of her own mother. Scribbs' mother loved the theater too much, whereas Mrs. Marks seemed to be more of a recluse, often staying inside the apartment building from what Ash told her. She had someone get the things she needed or they were delivered straight to the door. Both women seemed suspicious by nature.

The blonde stood for a moment as she contemplated how to answer the woman. How could she explain Ash's situation to another when, even to herself it wasn't clear how well she and Ash got on. Scribbs did the best she could to block out the mental image of Ash at the speaker in Mrs. Marks' place. Still, Mrs. Marks was her landlady and needed to know what was happening, especially if Scribbs was possibly going to be moving Ash's things over to her place in the next few days. Before the blonde could respond, however, the deeper voice said, "Hold on a moment. I'll be right down. Please stay in the foyer."

Scribbs shrugged and opened the door as soon as she heard the buzzing. She did as she was told, staying within the tiled perimeter as she watched the stairs. She turned her attention to the post boxes belonging to the tenants of the building, and noticed that every box was labeled with last names with the exception of number fourteen. Scribbs looked up at the sound of clicking on the tile in the foyer and was almost face to face with Mrs. Marks. The woman had blonde hair, though there seemed to be streaks of brown and grey as well. Like the last time Scribbs saw her, Mrs. Marks had a nervous air to her, and looked outside every few seconds. "Hello Mrs. Marks," Scribbs said again, "like I said, I'm Ash's friend, and a few days ago she had quite a fall that had put her into a coma. Now that her situation's got a little bit… delicate, she's going to be staying with me for a while. I was wondering if I could come by with a couple of friends of ours to get some of her things over the next couple of days?"

Mrs. Marks considered this for a few moments, staring intently at the car that had pulled into the car park, then relaxed when she seemed to recognize the man getting out of the passenger seat. Both women were quiet until the man waved to the driver and the car backed out again. "You got her keys, then?"

"I know where she keeps her door key. She'll give me her set later." 'I'll pinch her set later,' she corrected herself mentally. Mrs. Marks nodded.

"Ring the boy Franklin when you're coming over; he'll tell me," the older woman said. After Scribbs got a piece of paper and a pen from her pockets, she wrote down the set of numbers Mrs. Marks gave her. "You got the keys for her post?"

"No ma'am," Scribbs replied.

"I'll get it for you then," Mrs. Marks said. She made a gesture for Scribbs to go with her up the stairs. "After you," she said, and the younger woman led the way. As she got to the second set of stairs, Scribbs looked back to see Mrs. Marks walking up the stairs in a sideways fashion, her back mostly to the wall. She'd look back the way she came every so often, and then she'd continue on. Scribbs wondered if the woman's behavior wasn't because she was slightly mad, but because she had at one point been attacked. Suddenly Mrs. Marks became less weird to Scribbs and her patience with the woman was no longer politely forced. Scribbs stopped at Ash's flat and Mrs. Marks kept going. The detective didn't follow. Instead, she looked at the fire extinguisher and felt underneath its casing for the key Ash had put there 'for dire emergencies only, got it? If you use it for anything less, I'll have to kill you.' Scribbs peeled the scotch tape from the bottom and used the key to unlock the door.

Right away, Scribbs smelled the sweetness of rotting fruit, knowing that it came from the basket on Ash's dining room table, and headed right away in that direction. She went to work, cleaning out the bowl, throwing all of the fruit in the rubbish bin before she turned to start cleaning out Ash's refrigerator that may have gone bad due to Ash's unintentional negligence. By the time she was finished, she'd filled up most of the rubbish bin, so she tied a knot in the bag and put it by the door. Then Scribbs relined the bin before she washed her hands and walked down the hallway to Ash's bedroom, where the decoration and furniture was a little more personal.

Having been in Ash's room on many occasions to help her with a fashion crisis or two, she knew where just about everything was, starting with the brunette's suitcases. Searching further through the closet, Scribbs found a couple of the suits that Ash wore when she was in a more casual environment, like when they went to lunch together on a weekend. The blonde then went to Ash's dresser and randomly grabbed underwear and bras. Looking at Ash's small collection of shoes, she wondered which pair she should take with her, seeing as all of the shoes in sight didn't seem suitable for the hospital. Still, Scribbs reached for the pair of shoes Ash wore the most right before she'd bought her current pair for some office event, and hoped Ash would appreciate her decision.

Scribbs put all of the clothes and shoes in the suitcase, and then looked around, hoping she'd gotten everything Ash would want or need over the next couple of days. The picture on Ash's bedside table caught her eye, one of the brunette with her family when all of them were younger. Mr. and Mrs. Ashurst looked to be no older than Ash's current age, and a young David and Ash were in their mid-teens. Though it was easy to tell that the two were brother and sister back then, it was a little bit harder now. Ash had a slim figure, and from the looks of it she always had. David used to be slim as a teen, but had thickened over the years. His brown hair was lighter than Ash's, as well as curlier. Both Ashursts had cute smiles when you were lucky enough to see it, and on David it seemed as if at any moment someone would fall victim to a prank. A twinkle in his eye was there both in the picture as well as in the present. Ash's smile was shy, as if she too had a secret, but Ash looked as if she wasn't in a hurry to share anything. Scribbs couldn't remember seeing that look before on her partner in the time she'd known her.

As she looked around one last time, Scribbs found nothing else in Ash's room that Ash would want and closed the suitcase. She figured she could find a couple of CD's for Ash to listen to as well as a book or two to read as she made her way down the hallway once more. Scribbs had just opened up an empty Coldplay CD case when she heard a somewhat hesitant knock on the door. She knew it was Mrs. Marks with the post key. The blonde opened the door to the woman, who dangled the key and Scribbs held her hand out. She watched as the key dropped from one hand to the other. "I wish her well," Mrs. Marks said. "Miss Ashurst is a wonderful tenant. Quiet, no complaints except for an issue with a neighbor, never loses her keys and been 'ere over five years. Very respectful of rules and boundaries."

"Yes, Ash really likes her rules," Scribbs replied. There was a small smile from Mrs. Marks before she started up the stairs again. "Thank you," Scribbs said after her. Once the older woman was out of sight Scribbs closed the door and went back to Ash's CD player, where she found the Coldplay CD. Right under the CD player, Scribbs saw a small stack of CDs, some of which she recognized, like the Robbie Williams CD she had gotten her for her birthday the year before. Joss Stone, another Coldplay CD, Missy Higgins and the Bangles were also in the stack, and Scribbs took them all before putting them in the side pockets of the suitcase.

Scribbs made another visual sweep of the flat before she grabbed the suitcase in one hand and hauled the rubbish bag over her shoulder with the other. Scribbs left flat number fourteen, locking the door behind her. She passed someone who she assumed was another neighbor of Ash's. She smiled politely to return the one the young redheaded woman had given her, and thanked her when she moved aside to allow more room in the space. Downstairs, as she passed the post boxes, Scribbs took the key and opened Ash's box.

There wasn't as much mail piled up as Scribbs had anticipated. Not that she thought her colleague accepted the letters for the queen, but she expected more than her friend's mobile phone bill and junk mail. Scribbs stuffed the mail into her coat pocket and heard them crinkle as she moved, leaning down to grab the suitcase again and leave the building. She walked around the building to where she knew the Dumpster was and hauled the rubbish bag in. Then she loaded the suitcase into the backseat of her car and got in herself. Leaving the car park, she immediately headed towards her own flat.


Chapter 5

Scribbs tried to shake off the strange dream she'd had the night before as she entered the police station the next morning. She couldn't figure out why the flower shop owner was in her dream. Well, yes she could, but Scribbs didn't understand why Luce leaned in and said, "Give her the lilies and dare her to love you. I did." There had then been a conspiratorial wink from her and that was all. After that, she'd taken the flowers and left as usual.

There was something about the dream, perhaps the lingering confusion, which made it seem almost real somehow. It was enough to wake her up an hour earlier than usual, and when she couldn't get back to sleep, Scribbs had decided to go into work a little early. She knew that with everything that was going on, she'd be in for a busy day, regardless of the results to Ash's scan.

The first thing that Scribbs saw after acknowledging the night janitor on his way out was the sight of Sullivan down the hallway. She saw that he was leaning over a vacant desk as he read over something; then, the distant whirr of a printer had him up and moving. When she passed the tea and coffee station she saw the coffee pot was three quarters of the way down, but because of the coffee grounds and the dozens of sugar packets in the trash, the blonde wasn't sure just how much Sullivan had already had that morning or even if he was the one to consume all of it.

As Scribbs sat down at her desk and put the small bag on the floor, she watched Sullivan in his office, moving from his computer to the phones, then back to the computer again as if to check on its progress. When his phone rang, he pounced on it, answering it with his normal tone of slight authority. Scribbs noticed then that the broad man was wearing the same suit as he'd had on the day before, which confirmed her suspicions that he'd stayed the night over in the office. She hoped that he had at least been able to use one of the many camp beds stashed away for such overnight assignments.

About ten minutes later, Sullivan hung up the phone and reached for papers that were being spit from the fax machine. Only then did he seem to notice that Scribbs was there. He gave a small wave, which she returned, before the two went on with their own tasks; Sullivan to his fax papers, Scribbs to the small stack of bills she'd gotten from Ash's box the night before. Scribbs had looked over her own finances the night before as well as the totals of the bills and figured that she'd be able to pay off everything if she dipped a little bit into her savings, which she hated doing. Once she started it was usually hard for her to stop. The thought that Ash would do the same for her made her start dialing the number for her bank.

Surprisingly, after she'd told the person at each company Ash's situation and given her partner's information, usually found on the bill itself, Scribbs was able to pay off all of the bills. She hoped that she'd now taken care of all of the expenses Ash would have coming immediately her way. During this, Sullivan had come out of his office and checked again the papers on the vacant desk Scribbs had seen him at first. When the blonde finished up the last of the phone calls, Sullivan sat on the edge of the desk so that they were facing each other. Looking up, Scribbs asked of him. "Are you okay?

"Yeah, it's just been a really long night," Sullivan replied.

"Would you like help with anything?"

"Thank you, but no. I think I've got a system down now, and I'd be faster if I go at it alone."

Scribbs raised her eyebrows at this. "So there's method to the madness?"

"I hope so," Sullivan replied. He looked around and saw a cup next to a plant on the other end of the desk away from the papers; he peered into it. He looked instantly grateful and grabbed the cup, taking a sip. Once he placed the cup down again, he looked back at Scribbs and said, "You look a bit busy there yourself. Back paperwork?"

"Er- Yeah, in a bit. I just had a few calls to make," Scribbs said. If her boss felt that there was anything odd about her statement, he didn't show it.

"What time are you off to visit Ash?"

"No later than three?" Scribbs guessed, her tone a question to Sullivan, asking his permission to leave even though he'd already given it to her in the hospital the day before.


"Yeah, I've got some of her clothes and things to hopefully make her feel better and keep her busy."

"You went to her flat?"

"Yeah, I had to take care of a couple of things and tell the landlady some of what was going on. She knows now that we might be by the next couple of days." Scribbs explained, and Sullivan nodded. "I'm afraid to find out what her CT scan results are," she said suddenly.

"I'm sure she'll be alright. She is quite- er- resilient."

"She is strong," Scribbs agreed. She wasn't sure how she would react if she were in the same situation as Ash. The blonde knew, just coming out of a coma would damage her, but Ash seemed to be talking it all in stride, which really was the biggest surprise. There was a call coming in from Sullivan's office and the man sighed.

As Scribbs watched Sullivan retreat back to his office, the blonde stared at her partner's empty seat. She then stood up long enough to grab the folders containing paperwork from their most recent cases. The blonde had put it off for as long as she possibly could, spending the last days finishing up the investigations and only writing out the reports long hand. Sitting in front of a computer screen and worrying about fonts and indentations were Ash's favorite part of the job. It was proof that the case was as over as it could be on their end, and hopefully justice had been served to the best of their ability. Scribbs always preferred looking for the clues and solving the puzzles, seeing through the lies and sometimes spotting the clues within the most unlikely places.

Scribbs sighed heavily and whined in her head as she began to type up the reports. An hour later, she'd just finished the last one. Now, she sat quietly in thought as the offices filled up and the volume in the offices rose steadily as people greeted each other. Every once in a while someone would inquire about Ash and she would respond truthfully, then go back to thinking, mostly about how she was going to put her flat together for Ash's arrival. Scribbs ignored the looks she got every so often, mostly from part time staff who probably didn't know her without Ash somewhere close by. The blonde stared at the wilted flowers on Ash's desk. Just as a thought came to her to get more flowers for the desk, the DI's phone rang. Again, Scribbs stood to get to Ash's desk.

"Detective Inspector Kate Ashurst's desk," Scribbs greeted. In the blonde's first month as Ash's partner, that greeting had been a mouthful, but it quickly got a rhythm to it.

"Hello, is this Emma? This is David," the voice on the other line said, though Scribbs had recognized the voice right away.

"Hi, how are you?"

"I'm sorry for calling Katie's line. This is the only number I have. I called to see if there was anything I could do to help."

"Scribbs, who is that?" Sullivan, appearing as if by magic, asked, his tone slightly frantic.

"Oh, hold on a second," the blonde said into the receiver.

"Okay," Ash's brother said casually. Scribbs covered the mouth piece to the phone.

"It's David, Ash's brother." Scribbs wasn't sure if Sullivan was frantic because he didn't know who would be calling Ash's desk at that time or if it was because of the work he'd already been doing that morning.

"Oh! I need to speak with him. Could you transfer him over to my office?" Sullivan asked, just as his mobile phone went off again.

Scribbs spoke into the receiver, "David, DI Sullivan would like a word; I'll just put you through."

She looked down at the numbers on the phone system and scanned the buttons with her index finger twirling over them as she searched for the one she needed.

Sullivan said, "Please hold," into his mobile before joining the blonde at Ash's desk, gently grabbing the receiver from Scribbs. He then pressed a series of three buttons before he replaced the receiver. He hurried to his office when the phone rang in there, giving Scribbs a 'look' on his way in. Sullivan slowly closed the door so as to not seem rude. He didn't want Scribbs to think he was shutting her out, but he did need privacy for these calls. Scribbs watched the man pick up the receiver and speak into it. He seemed to speak in to one phone, then into the other, alternating between the two callers and relaying messages. In one instant, Sullivan had both phones to his ear at the same time. Whatever it was that the three were talking about wasn't certain, but Scribbs knew that it had something to do with Ash's situation and was glad that her partner was in good hands, whether or not she could do anything more to help. With those thoughts, Scribbs went back to her work, typing in the grammar corrections and pretending Ash was looking over her shoulder. Soon she was able to get into another rhythm.

It was almost another hour before Scribbs found herself bored at her desk. Since Sullivan hadn't put her on anymore cases (and she didn't want to be on any other cases without Ash), she didn't have anything to do after typing up the reports. She even found herself cleaning out and organizing her small box of toys used to reenact crime scenes, rearranging them by the genre of popular culture each figure belonged to. Just as she was contemplating a game of solitaire, she saw David walk down the hallway towards her. She waved in greeting and got a wave in return. "How is she doing?" David asked.

"I haven't spoken to her today," Scribbs admitted guiltily.

"I dropped my mother off at the hospital, but I don't know how she is either."

"Part of me doesn't want to know," Scribbs said. "I'll call her in a bit, though."

David nodded before he asked, "Is Mr. Sullivan in? We spoke on the phone and I need further instructions."

"He's in there," Scribbs replied, pointing to the office of the man in question. Both could see Sullivan searching through a file. David went to the door and knocked hard enough to be heard.

Sullivan opened the door, partially expecting Scribbs, but hoping it was Ash's brother. When he saw it was the latter, he stuck his hand out for the younger man to shake. "I'm glad you could make it," the broad man said.

"No problem at all," David replied. Sullivan then looked at Scribbs to fill her in on what was happening.

"David here works for Hello magazine, as a photographer, so I thought he might be able to help with photo manipulation for you and Ash's pictures."

"I was wondering about that," Scribbs said.

Turning towards David a little more, Sullivan asked, "So, how long do you think it takes for you to make one manipulation?"

"It really depends on the picture or pictures needed. If Kate and Emma are both already in the picture, I'd say about twenty minutes to put them a little closer or what have you. Otherwise, I'd take about an hour."

"Good. Good," Sullivan said as he fell into his thoughts for a moment. "I'm going to have to leave soon. I have a picture already that I'll need you to work on before I go." The older man looked past David and again at Scribbs. "I'll take it to be developed and perhaps you could give it to Ash on your visit."

"I don't think that would be wise," Scribbs said slowly.

"Why not?"

"If Emma were to give Katie a picture of them together romantically when we're supposed to be getting her life back to normal, it may mess everything up," David cut in, and Scribbs nodded in agreement. He had said exactly what Scribbs had wanted to say, only with better wording. Again, Sullivan nodded.

"Well…" he sighed, "you can keep it with you. If she asks, or things get difficult, then you'll have it. Until we figure out how the scan has gone, we won't have much of a game plan. We have to have a little something prepared anyway, and I have been trying."

"I know, and thanks Boss," Scribbs said gratefully.

"So, there's a computer over there for you to use. Its running kind of slow today."

"No problem," David said again, and Scribbs wondered if it was a favorite phrase of his.

I'll leave you to it then." Sullivan looked at both David and Scribbs before he disappeared back into his office.

"So, you're the one to do the manipulations," Scribbs said, mostly as a way to start a conversation between them.

"Well, yeah," David replied, "Mr. Sullivan knew from Katie that I'm a photographer, and when I called this morning, he asked if I could help him out with that. So… I guess I should get started. You didn't happen to bring any pictures of yours with you, did you?" he asked.

Scribbs winced. "I knew I was forgetting something," the blonde moaned.

"You know, it's okay. I've got this Christmas photo here I could work on, and we can try again tomorrow."

"No, uh- If I can remember the password, I have a few pictures on a site somewhere, but they're mostly headshots I took for a- er- dating site." Scribb's tone was apologetic.

"I can work with that," David said, looking as though he was already thinking about the possibilities. Scribbs opened up a browser window on her computer and went directly to the site, hoping no one looked over her shoulder and thought she was going to naughty sites on the work computers. "If you search for your profile, you can see your own pictures, yeah?" David asked. Scribbs nodded. "Well then, I can just cut and paste your picture or save it directly to the desktop and work with it that way." As he spoke, David was putting the Christmas picture in the scanner and waited for it to scan through.

"What if I've got a couple of pictures saved to my account, but not on the page?" Scribbs asked.

"We can't do anything about that if you haven't got your password, now can we?"

"True. I think I remember it now, though." Scribbs typed in the four letters and three numbers that had come to her and she suddenly stared at the profile of 'the_only_scribbs'. She remembered wanting the screen name policewomanx30, but Ash apparently had a rule against numbers in any screen name, especially if it was to represent her personality in any way. Luckily for Scribbs, underscores were okay in Ash's world. Scribbs told David her screen name and password, noticing that her profile had a couple of messages. There was no way she'd answer them now, even if she'd wanted to. Part of the reason she'd forgotten her password was because she never visited the site anymore. In Scribbs' opinion, all of the ads sounded alike, and none of them were true.

After a moment of looking over the other pictures, David said, "I like the last two pictures of you in the brown jacket. You look really nice; strong, but not tough."

"Thanks. Ash took it." Scribbs replied.

"Taking good photographs must run in our family. My father started it. He liked taking pictures at parties, but stopped a few years ago because… well… That is family history that would bore you. My mother sometimes took pictures of flowers and Kate would take pictures of our horses."

"She's very good at finding one's good side," Scribbs commented as David worked on scanning a slightly younger picture of Ash from what looked like a family holiday. In it, Ash was sitting on the sofa looking up at the top right corner, as if looking at someone else in the room out of the picture. She was smiling, and seemed a little more relaxed. Scribbs knew that David was going to place one of her standing pictures in the shot to make it seem as though she was the one Ash was looking at. It took him many moments to get Ash's eye line so that it was convincing, but he'd done it.

Scribbs stared at the picture for a moment, marveling at how good the two looked in both the Christmas picture and the one David had just completed. If Scribbs hadn't known better, she would have thought the two of them had been together for years. The door to Sullivan's office opened then, and the tall man got looks from both David and Scribbs. "How's it going?" he asked.

"I've got that Christmas photo done the way you asked, and I've just finished this one here," David informed him, and Sullivan looked over the younger man's shoulder.

"Excellent. There should be a blank CD there in one of the drawers," Sullivan said, and David looked. He found one right away and began saving the two images.

"I can get these developed, just in case," Sullivan mentionedto Scribbs. "I've got to leave for a couple of hours. What time are you planning to see Ash again?" he asked, looking a little confused because he couldn't remember.

"'Round two or three," Scribbs answered.

"Good. I should be back by then. Don't leave until I get back," Sullivan said, shrugging into his coat. He was gone not long after that, leaving Scribbs and David to watch him leave.

After that, they stayed in the quiet atmosphere for a while. Once, one of Scribbs' fellow DS' walked by, noticing the picture David was working on he gave her an odd look, but Scribbs didn't care.

At around one thirty, David's mobile went off, and he answered it quickly. "'Lo? Hi Mum. How is she?" At this, Scribbs' attention was taken from her solitaire game. David said 'mmhm' and other such sounds to prove he was listening to his mother. "Great. Yeah. I'll be there. Yeah. Mm bye." When he hung up, he looked over at Scribbs, who stared back expectantly.

"As you probably already know, that was our mum. She says that Katie's scan went alright, but Dr. Pellow found a shadow or some sort, which could be a small blood clot. It could also be nothing, but he wants to keep her there for a couple of days at least so he can keep an eye on it and make sure it remains nothing." Scribbs had feared something like that. "It's probably nothing, though," David quickly reassured.

"I hope so," Scribbs replied softly. Shrugging, she dared to ask, "Is your mum taking this any better today?"

"She's not going about with rainbow stickers declaring how much she loves her gay daughter, if that's what you mean." David laughed at Scribbs' look. "She's still in a bit of shock, but you shouldn't worry. She doesn't blame you or anything. She grew up on the right side of town, married the right person and lived a good life. She wants the same for us. But then Katie wanted to go into the police academy and I wanted to work in journalism."

"Yeah, but Ash isn't to blame, either. It wasn't as if she woke up one morning and said 'I think the best way to piss my mother off is to become a lesbian, so that's what I'll do." Scribbs lowered her voice as she said this, as people were starting to stare at them a bit after David's comment on the rainbow stickers.

"My mother knows that, Emma, but she's in a spot now where all she can do is sit there and accept it all, which I'm sure is killing her."

"I hadn't thought of it like that, really," Scribbs said. "It's not like Ash properly came out to anyone."

"No, but I'd sort of already guessed."

"You knew?"

"I guessed," David repeated to correct the blonde.


"About a year and a half ago, but I always wondered about it, even when we were in college."

"What happened to make you know for sure?"

"We'd gone out to dinner one evening when our father was in town, and the waitress was really friendly with Katie as she served her. She kept touching her shoulder and leaning in close to her. I'd seen a male waiter do the same thing, but she'd gotten uncomfortable. This time she blushed. It made me think about things. You know, how some of the things she was about made more sense now. And then there was the small fact that she talked about you to the point where I thought you were secret lovers."

Scribbs eyebrows rose. "Why didn't you talk to her about it?"

"Katie and I used to be very close before she met you and tragedy struck-" This got Scribbs' attention.

"Tragedy? What tragedy?" Scribbs asked. David seemed to realize his mistake and swallowed nervously.

"It's a long story, Emma, and not mine to tell." David locked eyes with her, pleading with the blonde to not ask him anymore of it.

"No, not more secrets," Scribbs moaned, rubbing her eyes. 'What more could there be?' the blonde asked herself. Her mind raced. That Ash was married once, and that was how she knew she was gay? Scribbs sighed. That was probably something else Ash didn't remember, whatever this tragedy was, and Scribbs was pretty certain that this tragedy had something to do with a lot of Ash's rules. "So, you were close. You'd think she would've told you first, not Sullivan."

"I thought so too, but I was wrong. I wanted to talk to her about it all. Ask Katie questions and to just be there for her, but I didn't want to make her uncomfortable and make us even more separated. I hoped she'd come to me sooner or later, but she never did." David's tone was still a bit sad.

"Well- uh- don't take it personally. There's so much Ash isn't saying to anyone-"

"And that's what worries me," David cut in, though not in a way that would seem rude, "How long had she planned to keep it all in? How long would she have continued to hide it all had this not happened and forced it to come tumbling out in the open? What kind of person would such secrets have created?"

"What I want to know is what made her think that anything that happened to her or anything she did would make us love her any less. It makes me wonder if she really knew me at all these last years, or I her. But I - I can't be thinking stuff like that. Ash is Ash. Gay or straight or married or a fugitive- whatever. Damn it." Scribbs ended her rant in a mutter. She sighed loudly as her hands covered her face. "Damn it," she cursed.

Suddenly, there was a moment of complete silence where even the chatter around them seemed to die down.

Finally, David asked, "Would you like some tea?"

"No… No thank you." Scribbs mumbled.

"You're right you know," David continued, "She's still the woman we love, so that is what we'll do, yeah? We can't do anything more than that right now. Secrets or no secrets, she is our priority. Maybe we can get everything out in the open sometime during or after this, but for now…"

"I know,"

"I know it's hard, but it has to all work out."

"I hope so,"

Throughout this, Scribbs never moved her hands. She remained that way until Sullivan came back, and she lifted her head when she heard him ask, "Everything alright?" The DCI had two bags in his hands and from the looks of it, they held picture frames. Neither David nor Scribbs responded at first, so Sullivan set the bags down and took out one of the picture frames. "Here you are, Scribbs, just in case." He handed over the framed picture of Ash and Scribbs at the Christmas party, and she saw a border of holly around it. The frame itself said 'Forever' on the bottom. The blonde had to admit, it was pretty cute.

"I like it," Scribbs said with her nod of approval.

Good. And I bought these for you two. I hope I selected the right sizes." Sullivan took out two small jewelry boxes from his jacket and handed them to the blonde. Scribbs knew what was inside already, but she still opened one of them up. Inside was a gold band, and she set the other box on the desk before she took it out and tried it on. It was only slightly loose, but it stopped at the knuckle, so it was manageable. When she took a closer look at the ring, she saw the inscription 'Only You' glittering up at her.

"That was very thoughtful Boss, adding this on as an inscription," Scribbs commented.

"I'm glad you think so. Ash did say you started dating around that time, so I thought it would be some inside thing for you two that she might or might not remember later."

Scribbs took out the other ring, which was smaller and would naturally be Ash's, as the brunette had thinner hands than Scribbs. "At least now things could be a little better this visit. We're a little more prepared." Sullivan said.

"Yeah," Scribbs agreed, "Thank you."

David then filled Sullivan in on the phone call from his mother and the update on Ash's condition, which made Sullivan frown in thought. "So, I'm going to assume there's a chance her memory may not come back completely anytime soon Um, an assumption is an assumption – medically I don't think a clot would make any difference but a layman could quite easily make that assumption," David concluded. "I'd advise we start moving some of Katie's things over to Emma's."

"I agree," Sullivan said right away and then looked to Scribbs. "Would you mind if we started today? David and I could get a moving truck after we finish up work here, and we could all meet up at Ash's flat no later than six this evening."

"Yeah, that's fine," the blonde said. She stood up and stretched before putting her coat back on. Then she leaned over and closed out of all documents and windows before shutting down the computer. "Six o'clock at Ash's flat, then?" she confirmed. There was a nod, and Scribbs turned towards her car. She heard behind her the small chatter to the two men behind her, and wondered what all they were talking about.


Chapter 6

As Scribbs put her foot on the brakes at the red light, she mentally prepared herself for her visit with Ash. The last visit had been pretty emotional, and the blonde wasn't sure what she should expect. More than likely Ash would be somewhat angry with her for not being there right away, but Scribbs hoped she'd be forgiving once she received her change of clothes and the other things Scribbs had brought for her. Thinking about Ash's things rattling around in her back seat, Scribbs remembered that the portable CD player she'd taken from her flat needed batteries and she'd meant to buy some on her way into work.

Looking down the street, she saw the elementary school and the children playing on the fields. Scribbs knew that another block away was the familiar flower shop as well as a small grocery shop, where she knew she could get the batteries.

As she made her way towards the grocery store, she saw Luce briefly through the flower shop window helping a woman hold a large flower pot with a small tree in it. Seeing the other woman made her think of her dream from the night before, and she wondered if it meant anything. Again, she shook it off as she entered the grocery store's car park and then went inside.

Suddenly, she almost collided with Luce's partner, the sunny woman from the first time she had entered the shop.

"Oh! Hello. If it isn't my favorite customer," Rachel said,

"Hello. Sorry about that," Scribbs said gesturing towards the other woman. "How are you?"

"Good! How's your friend? The one you're always getting flowers for?"

"Ash. She's doing better now. She woke up, so she's on the mend now." Scribbs wiggled her fingers around the wedding band as she stood there, unsure of what else to say.

"You know, I don't think we've properly met. I like you, but I don't know your name."

"Oh- uh, Emma Scribbins, Scribbs... either really."

"Scribbs? I like that. I'm Rachel. Rach, if you will," she said. She raised the arm with the plastic bag in hand. "Luce got hungry, so I'm picking her up some lunch," she felt the need to explain.

"How are things at the shop?"

"Luce is busy, and she likes that. Well, we'd better not block the door any longer. Stop by the shop any time and say hi."

"Sure thing, bye," Scribbs replied and watched Rachel walk away. She then went her own way to where she knew the batteries were. She grabbed two packs of four and went to pay when she noticed coconut topped chocolate and grabbed that as well. Ash loved coconut flavors more than anything, and to have them top chocolate would be the best thing ever.

Scribbs got to the hospital with no further incident, and brought the suitcase in. She got a couple of looks but that didn't matter to Scribbs. When she got down the hallway and turned into Ash's room, she saw Ash's mother there. The older Ashurst woman saw Scribbs before the blonde could sneak away. She stood up, leaving her sleeping daughter. As she stopped in front of Scribbs, somewhat blocking the doorway, the blonde prepared herself for some sort of confrontation. Instead, Scribbs got the silent treatment as Mrs. Ashurst stared at her, looking her over, and then down at the suitcase and plastic bag in her other hand. Finally, she moved past Scribbs saying, 'Alright then,' as she left down the hallway.

Scribbs, though confused, understood what Mrs. Ashurst meant by her display. She was telling Scribbs that though she didn't like it, she knew that it was what needed to be done. Though she didn't approve of it, she understood that Ash was in love with Scribbs and therefore the blonde was the best person to care for her. The blonde stood for a moment as she thought about this. A movement in Ash's room caused her to move. As she placed the suitcase near Ash's bedside table, the rustling continued until Ash was fully sitting up. "Hi Darling, where's mum?"

"She just left, Kate." Scribbs said softly. "Don't think she wanted to wake you." Ash nodded and Scribbs took the chair Mrs. Ashurst had just been in. "How are you feeling?"

"I've been fighting off the headache that won't go away," Ash said groggily.

"I brought you a few things for when you're feeling a little bit better. Here, thought you might want this back," the blonde said, taking the small ring box out of her jacket pocket. She opened the box and took the ring out, then reached for Ash's left hand. She slipped the ring easily over Ash's finger. Scribbs watched her own hands as she did so, feeling something small tickle inside her, almost as if someone ran their finger up and down her stomach under the skin. She swallowed and withdrew her hands before Ash's hand grabbed hers.

Ash inspected the ring on her finger and she seemed almost instantly changed. It seemed as if things were finally as they should have been. "Thank you, Sweetheart," Ash said, and it was almost a sigh of relief, except for the fact that Ash was still sleepy.

"You're welcome."

"What else did you bring?" Ash asked. Scribbs took the items out of the suitcase and the bag one by one, save the underwear, and Ash looked more and more grateful. When she got to the CD's and the chocolate, she said, "Emma, if we weren't already married, I'd propose." She thought for a moment. "Though," she continued, "this time it'd be better than the last time I did."

Scribbs looked up at this. "Do you remember?"

"Yeah. You came over and spent the weekend with me, and I was trying to get you to stay a little bit longer. You told me that if you stayed another night, you'd drive me mad, and I think I meant to say something like, 'I'm used to you driving me mad by now,' but I ended up saying, 'I want you to stay with me forever'." Ash stopped for a second. "I always said stuff that would usually make me sick, but you just grinned at me and said, 'Is that a proposal?'. I didn't know if you were kidding or not, so I didn't say anything. A few days later we went walking somewhere and passed a jewelry shop. I stopped to look at rings so I could propose to you properly, but you ended up dragging me inside and we got our rings right then."

Scribbs listened to Ash speak, and saw her get a little more animated as she spoke of them as a couple. It surprised her that she could see the scene play out in her head. If Ash had said something like that to her while they were dating, that really would have been her reply. As for dragging Ash into a jewelry shop like that, she wasn't sure if that fit her personality, but the thought of it was a bit like a scene in a romantic comedy. The thought that Ash would have such a vivid scenario as a daydream made her feel badly that she didn't know that Ash felt that way about her for all that time.

Scribbs watched as Ash's eyes closed and she knew by the relaxed pressure on her fingers that the brunette had fallen asleep again. She waited a few more minutes before she slipped her hand from Ash's. She put the bag with the chocolates on the small table and hoped her other things were close enough for Ash to lean down and grab. Scribbs left another note, reached into Ash's jacket for her keys, and walked to her car, where she took out her mobile. She called the number Mrs. Marks had given her and hoped Fredrick would answer.

"Hello?" The voice on the other end was younger than she'd expected. He sounded no older than fifteen.

"Hello, is Fredrick there?"

"This is him," he responded.

"Hi, I'm Emma Scribbins. Mrs. Marks gave me your number so that you would relay a message for me?"

"Yeah? What would you like me to tell 'er?"

"Would you let her know that Kate Ashurst from number fourteen will have myself, her friend Greg Sullivan, and her brother David Ashurst over this evening? We'll have a truck rental and we'll be moving her furniture about."

"I'll let her know."

"Thank you." They said their polite goodbyes and hung up. Then Scribbs got into her car and drove out of the car park.

That evening, Scribbs saw the rental truck before she saw Ash's building. David stood next to it with his hands in his pockets while Sullivan sat on the curb. He looked a little bit better that before, but he still seemed worn out. He wore casual pants and a khaki colored shirt, and his hair looked like it was still wet from a recent shower. "You two are early," Scribbs commented.

"We hoped to start a little bit early so that we aren't at it all night, but we couldn't get in, nor could we convince the landlady to let us in without you." David said.

"Really? Well, I've got the keys off Ash, and hopefully she got the message that we were coming before hand, so that she wasn't too surprised by your arrival earlier."

"Good." Sullivan spoke up, slowly getting to his feet and dusting himself off. Scribbs walked around the rental truck and grabbed for her keys, juggling the car keys and office keys as she searched her pockets for them. Once found, Scribbs put the keys in the lock one by one until the fifth key opened it. She held the door open for the two men as David walked past with a trolley and Sullivan took his time getting in with the boxes. She smirked behind them as she thought of the gender role reversal, and found that she was going to be playing 'the man' in her marriage with Ash, at least until the brunette felt better.

Having both been to Ash's place at least once since she'd moved there, David and Sullivan walked right to number fourteen, where they saw a piece of paper taped to the door for 'Emma Sibbs Scribbs'. The note pretty much said that Mrs. Marks got the message and to call him again if Scribbs was coming back later in the week. Though Scribbs already had it, Fredrick had put down his number again right before his signature. Scribbs folded the note back up and opened the door to Ash's flat.

Sullivan and David followed after her and right away, Sullivan sat down. She could see how tired he was and hoped David and she were strong enough together to do most of the heavy lifting while Sullivan packed up smaller things into a couple of boxes. Scribbs hadn't planned on moving anything too big yet, anyway, just a lamp, Ash's bedding and personal care stuff, like soap and towels and such.

David seemed to already know this, as he'd gone in the direction of Ash's bedroom and came back with a few of her shirts. "What furniture do you want to take with you?" David asked as he put the shirts in one of the three boxes Sullivan had brought up.

"We don't have to do it all tonight," Scribbs told the men.

"We're all here, so we might as well," Sullivan replied.

"I suppose…" Scribbs thought about it.

"Are you going to move some of those chairs?" David asked.

"No, I'm not going to have room for them. I figure Ash and I would've argued about that, but in the end I won out because she made me get rid of my favorite chair," the blonde explained. This earned a smirk from Sullivan.

"Bet you both agreed on Ash's sofa," he added in.

"Yeah, that was no question," Scribbs agreed.

"What about dishes?" David asked.

"The good china, yes, though I don't know why, since the only people worth using them for would have disowned her for being gay and married to a woman," Scribbs said, walking over to Ash's CD collection and grabbing a few more CDs from it.

"I'm not good enough for the good china?" David asked, trying to sound hurt.

"Sorry," Scribbs replied, even though it was plain to see she wasn't.

"Ha-rumph," David huffed, but he was being playful, and Scribbs had to laugh at the look on his face as he did so. "It surprises me how well you know Katie," David said a moment later, his tone slightly more serious.

"How well I thought I knew Ash," Scribbs corrected, turning her back on the younger man so she wouldn't have to see his look. It was silent for a while as David brought out items from Ash's room and packed them away while Scribbs made tea for Sullivan before going back to her tasks in the living room. Sullivan finished assembling the boxes before he began to pack the items David brought out.

Over the course of the next two hours, nothing else was really said as they moved Ash's sofa, along with the three full boxes from Ash's flat to Scribbs'. Then David and Sullivan moved Scribbs' couch and chair, along with half of the dishes in her kitchen back over to Ash's flat . They left at around nine to get some food. Before leaving, they'd given Scribbs a stack of framed pictures, mostly the manipulated photos of them together, but there was also a copy of what looked like a Canadian marriage license. Scribbs marveled at how well David had done to make it look real. As she set it carefully on her bookshelf she thought about the week so far, allowing herself to get lost in thought.

Everything was just getting too real, and Scribbs wasn't sure how she felt about it all. She had tried to keep herself from thinking too much about it so that she could get everything done, but right now she just couldn't stop herself.

She'd had to get things done for Ash, but now most of it was ready, and she had to prepare herself for Ash's arrival in her home. Scribbs couldn't stop the hurt feelings she had that she hadn't known about Ash's secret. Nor could she stop the guilt that she felt when it all came down to one thing: it appeared Scribbs wasn't the friend that Ash trusted. She must have said or done something that made Ash feel as if Scribbs wasn't accepting of someone close to her being gay.

There was also the small panic that Ash would step into the flat and just know that it was all wrong. Scribbs was really scared that she would get angry with her and think she was playing some sort of elaborate joke on her or something like that. Scribbs turned her head, her eyes landing on another one of the framed photo manipulations. It had her and Ash standing side by side as they smiled in front of them. She sighed, and looked away. There wasn't anything she could really do now but wait and see how things did or didn't work out.

Part 7

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