DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: Set after the second series episode 'Estate Agents'.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
THANKS: To fewthistle for the beta.
Food for Thought
Scribbs let the photo drift to the floor and backed out of the parking space. She didn't want to ask why Ash had a headshot of Sullivan in the car or if, heaven forbid, she'd started her own conquests list. Two days earlier she would have thought the idea absurd - Ash just wasn't the one night stand type - but that was before they'd visited the club and witnessed the estate agent version of notches on a headboard.
"It's a bit early for the club." Scribbs checked the clock imbedded in the dashboard. "Do you want to grab something to eat first?"
Ash checked her watch and tried to pretend that she knew the first thing about clubs and their opening hours. "Pizza?"
"Right." The car made a sudden left. "Luciano's it is then."
"You know, Scribbs, your driving skills leave a lot to be desired."
The car slowed and Scribbs remained silent. Ash waited for some witty repartee, a smirk, a frown, anything, but Scribbs kept her eyes on the road and face expressionless.
"Are you all right Scribbs?"
Parking on the road directly outside Luciano's, Scribbs turned a preoccupied gaze on her friend. "What do you think Sullivan meant?"
"When?" Ash reached for her purse. "Is this the place that does the double Hawaiian?"
"No, that's Marco's on the High Street."
The car doors slammed and they walked into the restaurant. A few well chosen smiles and coy looks from Scribbs soon alleviated them of their little 'no reservation' problem and they made their way to the back corner of the restaurant.
"This is nice."
Ash took in the flickering candle and intimate place setting. "They've put us in the date section."
"But it's nice." Scribbs signalled the waiter to start bringing the wine. "Kind of romantic."
"The flowers are made of plastic and the seats are as hard as nails," Ash complained. "So I can't imagine taking a real date here."
Scowling, the waiter placed a carafe of house red before Ash, his smile turning to one of sympathy as he turned to Scribbs. "Are you ready to order?"
They both decided to forego the pizza for something unpronounceable and pasta based, and the waiter trotted back to the busy kitchen. The tables surrounding theirs had filled rapidly in the minutes since they'd sat down and the two women were forced to lean across the table to make sure their conversation was both heard and not overheard.
"What do you think he meant?" Scribbs asked again.
"I still have no idea what you're talking about."
Scribbs glanced at the couple on the next table before turning back to Ash. "That stuff about sexual tension in the office?"
"I don't think what Anita and Phil Jakes shared could be called sexual tension." Ash took her third mouthful of wine and began to unwind. "It was more like mutual loathing."
"I don't mean them." Scribbs dismissed their recently closed case. "I mean our office."
"There's sexual tension in our office?"
Ash straightened her shirt collar. "If you're talking about Sullivan, I've told you before, he's not my type." At least not after finding his trophy picture on Anita the estate agent's wall. There was just something about a man who would have sex with a complete stranger - and one that looked and acted like Anita - that turned her right off.
"Who else is there?"
Scribbs voice lowered even further. "Us."
"Scribbs you really must learn to enunciate your words." Ash smiled in a way that normally signified an oncoming laugh. "For a minute there I thought you said 'us'."
Ash's smile disappeared. "You and me?"
"Do you know any other definition of us?"
"That's absurd. We don't have sexual tension." On the last two words Ash's voice rose and the couple at the next table looked over in interest. "We're colleagues," she whispered.
Scribbs pointed an accusing fork in Ash's direction. "So you're saying that not only do we not have sexual tension but that we're not even friends?"
"That's not what I said."
"It's what I heard."
The woman at the next table looked like she was eager to add her opinion but her companion's rather loud 'Barbara!' forestalled the interruption.
"Of course we're friends." Ash looked as if she was desperate to add a qualifier to that statement but restrained herself. "But what is it we, as friends, spend fifty percent of our time doing?"
That was an easy question. "Complaining about men."
It was Barbara's companion who looked ready to interrupt this time but a sudden wince signalled a bruised shin in the morning and an end to any thought he might have had of butting in.
"So if I pulled at the club tonight, you wouldn't be jealous?"
Ash's immediate denial died on her lips. The truth was that she would be jealous, but surely she was jealous of Scribbs finding a man where she couldn't, and not of someone else finding Scribbs.
"Are you saying that you'd be jealous if I pulled?" Ash countered.
"A little, yes."
Shrugging, Scribbs finished off the last of her wine before signalling the waiter to bring their bill. "Not bunny boiler jealous or anything like that, but jealous enough to be happy when it turns out you dumped him ten minutes from the club for breathing too loud."
"And if I left the club with you?"
Scribbs, Barbara and Barbara's companion shared a look of confusion. "I'm not going to be jealous of myself."
"I mean what would happen if I left the club with you?" The three faces staring at her didn't look any less confused. "Would there be any acting on this sexual tension you say exists?"
Barbara's companion nodded but Barbara wasn't quite so sure.
"Would you want me to act on it?"
Ash took a quick look at the bill the waiter had deposited, counted out the correct number of notes, and began sliding her arms into her jacket.
"If I leave with you, and if we end up back at my place... Yes, I do want you to act on it."
As Ash stood and walked to the exit, Scribbs turned to the other couple.
"I think I just pulled."
Barbara's companion gave her a thumbs up and smiling, Scribbs rushed to catch up with her date.
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