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
Scribbs packed the last of Ash's flowers and get well cards into the backseat of her car before she closed the door and moved around to the front drivers' side, checking on her passenger through the windshield every now and then. Her tired, yet happy, partner smiled as their eyes met briefly through the glass. Ash then leaned her head back and closed her eyes, clasping the small paper bag with her prescription inside a little tighter. Otherwise, the DI looked relaxed now that she was out of the hospital. Scribbs was glad for this, though she was also a little bit nervous as well. Though she'd gone through the scenarios based on their personalities in order to arrange the combined furniture to look like the flat belonged to a happily married couple, she had no way of knowing what their home looked like in Ash's mind, and she may see through the whole thing right away.
Ash was tired, and Scribbs didn't blame her for being so quiet. She'd had constant scans and tests the last half of the week until Dr. Pellow had finally seemed happy with the results and allowed Scribbs to take her home. She was now on two different types of medication. Though she was remembering a few things at a time, Ash's progress in regaining her memory was slower than Dr. Pellow would have predicted, and Scribbs hoped that being near familiar environments would help spark some recognition and a few more memories.
Though the ride to Scribbs' flat was silent, there was no tension between them. Ash took a small nap while Scribbs tried to make her fears subside. If Ash saw through the whole façade, would it make all of her memories come back at once? Scribbs knew that once Ash began to remember her life before the fall, the brunette beside her wouldn't like the fact that Scribbs had gone along with the deception, and she'd never trust Scribbs, even the way she had, ever again. Surely their friendship would suffer from the deceit but, if at the end of it all, Ash was better, would it be worth it? She had to admit that the answer was probably no, as Ash was one of the few steady things in her life other than her family, her job and her bills.
Scribbs sighed and forced herself to stop thinking like that. She told herself a few times that Ash would understand, and though their friendship would be a bit strained at first, things would go back to normal after a while. Those thoughts settled her down a little. Scribbs maneuvered the car to her flat and they got there within ten minutes. She gently touched Ash's shoulder, and she awoke with a deep breath. Scribbs secured the car, then got out and walked to the other side to open Ash's door. She took the prescription 'as needed' pain medication from Ash's lap, which freed the brunette's good hand so she could use it to grab the door and climb out of the car.
"Let's get you inside," Scribbs murmured as Ash closed the door behind her. The blonde grabbed the suitcase and large bag with the cards and flowers and followed behind Ash as she walked inside. Together, the two women got to Scribbs' door and the blonde let go of the suitcase long enough to unlock and open it. Ash took a couple of steps inside and stopped. Behind her, Scribbs froze in slight fear, not caring that the door was still open. The brunette took a long look at the space around her and then looked back at Scribbs.
"Darling, did you rearrange the furniture?" Ash wondered, turning to look at some of the pictures on the bookshelf. She frowned as if to force herself to remember the events that took place in them.
"Er- yeah?" Scribbs said, her answer ending one note higher, so that it sounded like a question.
Ash slowly turned to the couch and sat down. She heaved a sigh and said, "I'm home."
Unknown to Scribbs, the blonde had been holding her breath, and she let it out, her sigh almost matching Ash's. She studied Ash, noting how happy she seemed. The look on her face matched how it had been when her wedding ring had been 'returned'.
"Are you hungry?" Scribbs asked; then mentally slapped herself. "Of course you are. Hospital food, huh? All I've got are leftovers, though."
"My poor wife," Ash said with a small chuckle, "If I'm not here to cook for you, you practically starve."
"Hey, I know how to use a stove," Scribbs protested.
"And luckily for you, you also know how to call the fire department." Ash retorted. Scribbs stuck out her lip in a pout when she couldn't think of a witty reply, then smiled before she went to heat up the left over take away from the night before.
Scribbs found herself relaxing a little bit more. The teasing felt more normal to her, and she felt she could deal with the situation a little better. Though she slipped a couple of times while picking out a movie to watch, calling Ash by her nickname and not her more intimate name, she was getting used to it faster than she expected herself to. Just as the two agreed to watch 'St. Trinian's', Ash declaring that she needed a film to make her smile, the timer on the stove went off and Scribbs went to serve their meal. She poured Ash a larger glass of water than her own so that the brunette could take her evening dose of the pain medication, as her wrist still bothered her.
After both of them had eaten, Scribbs sat back on the couch, setting her plate on the coffee table in front of her. She was surprised when, after taking off the sling on her right arm, Ash shifted slowly but surely so that she was leaning on Scribbs, her head on the blonde's shoulder. Scribbs looked down at Ash, but she was watching the film. Suddenly, when Ash looked up quizzically, Scribbs realized that she'd been staring at the top of the brunette's head for a moment. She also realized that when Ash's eyes met hers, she got nervous, for Ash's eyes held hers, and all Scribbs could see was the love that Ash must have hidden from her for six years. Scribbs looked away, back to the TV. She felt Ash move again and felt a kiss on her cheek, but, before she could look at Ash again, her partner had settled in again, taking the hand that had been up to that point resting on Scribbs' lap into her own.
Scribbs was quiet for a while as thoughts went wild in her mind. "Kate?"
"Mm," the brunette answered sleepily.
"How come you never came out to me? I mean- before we started dating?"
Ash slowly sat up again so that she could turn her head to look at her wife. "I wanted to, Emma, I really did."
"But you thought I'd blab?"
"No, not at all. Don't think I didn't trust you enough to keep my secret. I did, and that was part of why I didn't." Before Scribbs could say, 'Come again?' Ash continued. "I loved you as my friend as well as more than that. I knew that it was only a matter of time before you'd know that I was in love with you. I couldn't bear the thought of losing you, because dating or not, we were good together."
"I would never have gotten weird on you-"
"I didn't know that for sure, and call me a coward, but it wasn't a risk I was willing to take when our friendship worked out just fine as it was."
"But surely I must have hurt you? To see me out there with everyone but you-?"
"It doesn't matter now, does it Em?" Ash asked with a flicker of hurt on her face, though Scribbs saw it disappear immediately. "It all worked out in the end, didn't it?"
Scribbs thought about this and then nodded. "Yeah, I suppose it did."
Nothing else was said or done until after the movie ended, and Scribbs had to coax a sleeping Ash off of the couch and helped her into the bedroom. Ash blinked as Scribbs rubbed her back. "You rearranged the wardrobe too? You must have been busy."
"You have no idea." Scribbs said as Ash walked to the said wardrobe and picked out her sleeping wear.
When Scribbs turned around quickly to leave the room, Ash asked, "You coming to bed?"
"I will in a bit. I've got to tidy up the kitchen and then maybe I'll watch some television. I'm not all that tired." Scribbs told her, then turned around again when Ash suddenly took off her shirt and began to change. She walked into the kitchen wondering why she'd been so quick to leave. She'd helped Ash try on clothes many times over the years they'd known each other, and she'd seen Ash in her underwear many times. But this time it was different. Ash thought they were married. Surely, in Ash's mind, they'd already been there, done that. Scribbs just couldn't be in the room with that knowledge, even if Ash was too injured and medicated for that sort of activity.
Scribbs sighed and went to work in the kitchen as she'd said. At least her plan to get through this without lying wasn't going too badly. She'd stretched the truth so much thus far, but she hadn't needed to lie about anything and that helped more than she knew. As Scribbs picked up the dishes from the coffee table, she could hear one of Ash's rules in her head, for surely there was at least one about food in areas other than the kitchen and dining room. This thought made the blonde stop moving. Ash hadn't recited a single rule since she had awakened in the hospital on Tuesday. There had been many opportunities for her to use them: hospital visiting etiquette, surely some sort of comment on Scribbs' posture half the time she was there, and the way flowers should be, but the blonde had heard nothing of the sort. Although Ash did vent on a couple of topics that irked her during her stay, there wasn't even one 'there are rules for that, you know' out of her.
Was it possible that she'd forgotten the rules all together? That she even had rules other than common sense? Scribbs was saddened by this, as like them or not, those rules were a part of Ash's personality, and, Scribbs hated to admit, why she'd liked her so much in the beginning. Still, the more Scribbs thought about it as she washed the dishes and then turned the TV on at a low volume, only one conclusion came to her: the rules must be pretty recent, which meant that they hadn't always been a part of her. Did that mean something had started the rulemaking, or was it just a habit she'd picked up somewhere and hadn't let go of? And, if the rules were such a big part of Ash's personality- as the blonde had once thought - and Ash had forgotten about their existence did this mean that Scribbs would now be dealing with a totally different Ash?
Scribbs sighed, would she even like the new Ash as much as she liked the no-nonsense woman she'd befriended?
Scribbs felt a tickle on her cheek. She hastily brought a hand up to move the hair away from her face, but encountered skin instead. This made the blonde woman's eyes open to the blurriness that was Ash. Once her eyes focused, she saw the concern on Ash's face and felt badly. "I'm sorry I didn't get to bed last night," Scribbs offered.
"I let you sleep in as much as I could, but its eight thirty," Ash said.
"Thanks A-Kate," Scribbs said. "How do you feel?"
"Still a bit tired," Ash replied.
"Perhaps you should get back to sleep," Scribbs suggested, but Ask shook her head.
"I've got all day to do that. Come on. I'll make you some toast," she said, but the concern was still there on her face. 'What aren't you saying Ash?' Scribbs wondered in her mind.
"You don't need to do that, Darling, really." Scribbs insisted as she stood up from the couch and stretched.
"It's no big deal. How hard is it to put bread in the toaster and push the lever down?" Ash stepped quickly into Scribbs' space and leaned into her. The kiss surprised the blonde, and all Scribbs could do was tense up. Yet there was passion in the kiss, even if Scribbs didn't respond at first. Gradually, that finger inside her stomach poked at her, prompting her to move in response. Just as she moved her hand up to try and touch Ash's cheek and to kiss her back, the brunette moved away. "Go on," she prompted again, and then walked to the kitchen.
Scribbs watched her go and swallowed. She forced herself to walk in to her room and grab clothes for the shower. As the spray of water hit her neck and shoulders, she couldn't help but think about the kiss, and the small stirring inside her that accompanied the thoughts. She remembered Ash's look from the night before. Oh, to love somebody that much, but to be on the receiving end of such emotion?
Scribbs had never gotten looks like that from men. Not that deep, anyway, and not if there wasn't a hint of lust with it. And even if Scribbs didn't get a chance to return it, there was a story there in Ash's kiss, she could feel it. Had she not stiffened up, she may have known what it was that Ash refused to or just could not say. But what did it all mean? Did Scribbs wish to go back to Ash and return the kiss just so she could find out her secrets? Scribbs knew she had to get used to the feel of Ash's lips on hers. She was, after all, Ash's wife.
Scribbs could smell the tea as she got into her clothes and brushed out her hair. Then she wen tout to the dining room where Ash was attempting to open the jar of jam, but Scribbs didn't offer any help. It would have only insulted Ash and implied that she was weak, and no matter how true it may have been at the moment, she didn't want to go there. The blonde waited until her partner handed her the jar, and she took a couple of tries before she was able to pop it open. She watched as Ash spread the jam over her toast, and when the toaster popped, she got to it first. As she got margarine on her toast and sat down, she found she couldn't meet Ash's eye as she ate, and she felt them on her often. She hurried to eat her toast, then got up. She went towards the door where her jacket was and felt Ash's arm around her waist. She just stood there for a moment before she found the courage to turn around and face her. This time, she initiated the kiss and let it linger. Ash's good hand was resting on Scribbs' shoulder as if to draw her closer. It was a little awkward, but they found their own pace quickly, and Scribbs felt a twinge in her throat, which caused her to pull away.
"I'll see you tonight," Scribbs said, shrugging into her coat. She opened the door and hurried towards her car.
(Did you mean to take the second kiss out? 'Cos if you did, in the paragraph below, Scribbs has no longer initiated a kiss with Ash; it was Ash that kissed Scribbs)
Scribbs waved and got into the car before she drove off. She was in a daze as she made her way into work. She wasn't sure why, she just couldn't get over the kiss. It wasn't as if she'd never been kissed by a woman before, but Ash was the only woman she'd initiated a kiss to. It wasn't something she'd expected herself to enjoy.
Scribbs was still thinking about this as she walked towards her desk. She got a smirk from some bloke in the Theft Department. They may have dated once, although she couldn't quite remember when. As Scribbs got closer to her desk, she saw Sullivan speaking to a DI.
"Good morning, Mrs. Ashurst," Scribbs heard behind her. The words caught both Sullivan and Scribbs' attention.
Before she could retort, Sullivan spoke up. "Who said that?"
It went kind of quiet, but Scribbs recognized a colleague of hers, DS Staiff raise her hand.
"I did, Sir."
"Due to the nature and sensitivity of the situation, I would like you-" he looked up at those also in the area around them, "-and everyone else here to not make comments like that. If I hear anything like this again, I will suspend you for three days. I assume you all will spread the word?" Sullivan asked, and everyone nodded or murmured in response.
"Good. Scribbs, come with me, please?"
"Yes, Boss," she said in a low voice and followed behind him, avoiding everyone's eye and trying not to show emotion from being put on the spot.
As soon as she entered Sullivan's office and the door closed behind her, the tall man turned to look at her with a smile. "Of course, all that I just said doesn't apply to me, Mrs. Ashurst."
"That's Scribbins-Ashurst. We're hyphenated. You should know; you put it on the phony marriage license."
Sullivan's face broke out into another smile, before he became serious again. "So, how was that first night home?"
"It was pretty uneventful, but I'm getting the feeling that something's wrong."
"Did she say anything? Sullivan asked, leaning against his desk. Scribbs brought her left hand to her right and began to fidget with her ring.
"No, it's just a feeling I got. She's still my best friend. Hopefully, I can still tell if something's wrong."
"No one's judging," Sullivan told the blonde.
"I know, but she kissed me this morning. Just a 'good morning' sort of kiss, but " Scribbs trailed off, embarrassed.
"Look, I'm sure her memory will return before anything more can come of this," Sullivan said, but Scribbs' look said the one thing they both couldn't bring themselves to discuss. 'But what if you're wrong?'
Scribbs took the long way home, trying to wind down from her thoughts so that she could be calmer around Ash. She hated that she had to prepare herself to be with her partner. She thought, though she didn't know why, that this marriage thing would be easier. Why hadn't she thought about the intimacy between herself and Ash?
Scribbs saw from the car-park that her flat was dark. 'Ash must be in bed,' Scribbs thought to herself as she got inside the building. When she turned the key and entered the flat, however, she saw Ash on the couch, fully dressed up, her hair up, and her arms crossed over her chest. For a split moment, Scribbs felt relieved until Ash's eyes turned in her direction and she knew right away that the tension in Ash's shoulders and the impatient taps on the floor were caused by her. She then knew that she was in trouble, that perhaps her partner had begun to remember everything.
"I want to ask you something, I need to know the complete truth," Ash said, and Scribbs nodded.
"Anything," Scribbs replied steeling herself for the 'what the hell is going on' that was sure to come.
Ash took in a deep breath and seemed, too, to prepare herself for what she was about to ask. "Emma, are you having an affair?"
Both Ash and Scribbs stood in a small silence lasting all of maybe seven seconds. Scribbs hadn't expected Ash to ask her anything about cheating. She'd expected for the brunette to wonder what was happening, why her things were in Scribbs' flat, or even about their friendship, how it would change from there (to which Scribbs would tell her that it wouldn't).
Ash, on the other hand, started to wonder if she'd been silly in thinking that Scribbs was cheating on her. She looked at her wife and watched her confused face. She'd expected Scribbs to frown and deny Ash's accusation right away, but she hadn't, and this took some of the wind out of her sails. Still, there had been the phone calls, and this prompted Ash to ask again, "Are you having an affair?"
There, the slight scowl she'd been waiting for was there. "Kate, I would never cheat on you."
"I think you're lying," Ash said simply. "Who's Jesse? He called for you this afternoon."
"Jesse's the reporter, Kate. Don't you remember? He's always trying to get me for information on cases," Scribbs explained. "I haven't spoken to him in almost a year now."
As Scribbs spoke, images of a dark man entered Ash's mind, just as they had when he'd called. These images were just as confusing as before. Apparently, she did remember, but why was Ash pushing her wife towards this man instead of letting her jealousy get the better of her like she used to?
"Okay," Ash said, her tone softer, yet still a little bit icy, "Okay, I do remember him," she admitted. "Who is Dunn, then?"
At his name, Scribbs froze. She couldn't help it. She'd forgotten all about him in the last week, but all she could think then was 'I hope he didn't say something stupid.' "Dunn's an ex-boyfriend. Before I became your wife," Scribbs answered carefully; maybe, a bit too carefully. Both women acknowledged the fact that Scribbs wasn't lying, and in a small way, this was a relief to Ash. Still, something wasn't right about the whole thing. If she wasn't lying, then surely she wasn't telling the whole truth, either. Ash knew that.
"Then why would he call about a missed date?"
"Because he's delusional? Look Kate, there's nothing between us anymore, and I don't know why he'd call me now."
"I must have over estimated you, Emma. I thought you would come up with something a little bit better than that."
"Than what?" Scribbs asked, her voice gaining more volume. "The truth? What do you want me to say, Ash- Kate? That, yes, I did cheat on you with two different men, just like the slut you obviously think I am?"
"If it all fits-"
" 'If it all fits'," Scribbs cut in with a scoff, stuffing her hands into her pockets, "inside your margins and according to your rules, right?"
"I may be a slut, but you should know by now that I'm a monogamous slut. But if the guillotine's coming down anyway, I may as well have cheated on you. What does it matter if we're not really married?"
"How dare you," Ash said coldly, though her eyes blazed. "Is that how you really feel?"
"No, Darling, I-"
"Our marriage license may not be recognized here, but you are my wife. It's true, I shouldn't have said that you're some kind of slut, but that was just cruel."
Scribbs reached out her hand as if to comfort Ash, but at the slightest movement the brunette moved away from her. "I know, and I'm sorry."
"Sorry? That's not-" Ash stopped talking for a moment when her voice broke and her eyes welled. "I can't talk right now." Ash turned quickly and went to the bedroom, closing the door with a little bit of force behind her. Scribbs flinched and walked to the couch, where she sat with her head in her hands.
A few minutes later, Scribbs heard what sounded like Ash blowing her nose, and felt like pond scum. She'd made Ash cry. No one makes Ash cry, and yet she had. Wasn't she, as her best friend, supposed to kick the arse of anyone who hurt her? How could she kick her own arse? She would if she physically could. No matter what Ash may have said first, this whole marriage thing was off limits as ammunition to get back at her. Any dunderhead knew that. "Except for this dunderhead," Scribbs mumbled angrily. She wanted to storm in the bedroom and apologize, to force Ash to let Scribbs hold her and try to make it right. She knew though, it wouldn't work with Ash. It'd only make things worse.
As she spread out the blanket she'd used the night before, she tried to put herself in Ash's shoes, playing the whole week over as if Ash was caring for her after a fall and not the other way around. These thoughts only made her feel worse. If the one person outside of family she ever loved told Scribbs that they weren't married, her first translation of that would be 'so what, I don't love you', and Ash was right, it was a really cruel thing for her to say. Scribbs sighed angrily as she fell into a short fitfull sleep.
Ash's touch was soft, almost exploratory, and Scribbs woke up slightly confused. The confusion left right away as the brunette above her spoke. "I "
"What do you need?" Scribbs asked, hoping to prompt Ash into speaking to her.
"I can't sleep another night without you by my side. First the hospital and then last night," she said, mostly in murmurs.
Ash put her hand up in a small wave between them. "Yes I know, and I thank you for giving me the time and space I needed, but I need you now." Ash bent down and their lips met. This time Scribbs responded immediately, trying to prove that her words earlier held no meaning. She wasn't sure if Ash got the message or not. The kiss ended on mutual grounds, each woman pulling away at the same time. Ash held out her hand and Scribbs took it, sighing when their fingers linked. Scribbs swallowed as she followed Ash silently to the bedroom and tried not to get nervous. She really shouldn't have been as nervous as she was. She'd shared a bed with Ash before and had in fact been almost eager to do so. Of course, then Scribbs was mostly teasing Ash with talk of the honeymoon suite because she could tell then the brunette wasn't too keen on the idea of sleeping over in an old folk's home to begin with.
It was silent as Scribbs put on her pajamas, looking every so often at Ash, who had her back to her. It was odd to see Ash on the right side of the bed after the small fuss she made about it in Birch Grove, but she shook it aside. If there was nothing else to be learned from this experience, it was that a lot of things had changed and would continue to do so.
Scribbs slowly slipped into bed next to Ash, being careful not to jostle the brunette too much. She thought Ash was asleep until the DI slowly turned over and cuddled into her, breaking every rule she ever had in Birch Grove. "We'll talk about this in the morning," Ash asked against the blonde's neck, and Scribbs hummed her response."
"No matter what, Emma, I love you."
"In the morning," Ash said almost dismissively.
"I never meant to hurt you-"
"Scribbs," Ash said a little more solidly, halting further movement from the blonde, "in the morning."
It fell silent between them as Ash's breathing slowed right away. The use of her nickname had really started something in Scribbs' mind. She didn't know that she could get used to Ash calling her by her birth name and not her nick name. If Scribbs were honest with herself, calling her by her nickname after a week of calling her Emma felt like a small sting, as if Ash was trying to get even for the comment she'd made earlier, but would she really do that? Maybe not intentionally. At any rate, it got Scribbs' attention, but it felt odd to her for some reason.
Ash shifted a little bit, moving her injured arm with her. Being like this with Ash wasn't as hard as she thought it would be. She brushed a strand of hair from Ash's face and kissed her forehead before she settled in herself. She could do this, she thought to herself. She had to try harder to be Ash's wife for as long as it took. She'd promised she would, and she intended to keep it.
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