DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The two female detectives quickly made their way to DCI Sullivan's office, only to find their boss engrossed in a report. The women looked at each other and shrugged as they quietly awaited the reason for their presence.
"Ah, Detective Inspector Ashford and Detective Sergeant Scribbins, glad you could make it," Sullivan announced, looking up from his report.
Again, Ash and Scribbs exchanged glances, neither realizing that they had a choice when it came to reporting to their superior and each wondering why the chief inspector felt the need for such formalities. The man in question didn't offer any explanations, but instead, sat staring at the two detectives until it became too uncomfortable for the women to undergo such close scrutiny.
"Um, is there a reason you called us to your office?" Ash questioned their boss.
"Huh? Oh, yes, yes. We've been working on a case where a fertility clinic doctor has been murdered. There are dozens of suspects and nothing to connect any of them to the murder. I've got an idea on how to get more information, but it will involve some undercover work on your part," Sullivan explained, motioning for the two women to take a seat in the nearby chairs.
Scribbs stayed uncharacteristically silent as she and Ash moved to take a seat. Whatever Sullivan had in mind, Scribbs was certain she wasn't going to like it. In fact, with the way Ash was squirming in her seat, the feeling appeared to be mutual.
"You see, this particular clinic caters to all sorts of clientele, and the murdered doctor specialized in um, well, same sex female couples. The lead detective believes someone working at the clinic took offense at the man's specialization and decided to make a rather brash statement proclaiming his or her unhappiness of allowing two women to raise a child. His theory seems reasonable since the doctor who's since taken over these cases has received numerous threatening letters," the inspector explained, nervously fiddling with the report from earlier.
Silence ensued, and Ash and Scribbs waited and waited and waited. Finally, Scribbs couldn't stand the suspense of wondering what roles they would be expected to undertake. "Um, what does this case have to do with Ash and myself?"
"I'd like for you two to go undercover and visit the clinic pretending to be interested in their services. An appointment has already been booked under the names of Emily Wellington and Ashley Tyler. All the paperwork has been taken care of including fake IDs." Sullivan handed over a folder which Ash reached out to take.
Scribbs leaned over to look at their new credentials. "When's the appointment?"
"In the morning at 10:00 a.m.; however, you probably should arrive a bit early since you'll need to fill out the proper forms," their superior related. "You can go talk to Collins, and he can give you all your new identification and answer any questions you may have."
When no other words were forthcoming, Scribbs asked the question both women had been thinking. "What about our other cases?"
"They've been reassigned as this has taken top priority. I want you to concentrate fully on this case. We need to find the killer before he or she kills again."
Sullivan stood and walked around the desk, and the two investigators took this as a sign that the meeting was over. Each woman rose from their chair as their superior leaned against the desk imparting his final words of wisdom.
"Be vigilant and careful. Several of the female clients have also been threatened, although, Collins doesn't believe the threat against them is serious."
"Threatened? As in a message at work or at home?" Ash questioned, trying to ascertain exactly when and where the threats were taking place.
Sullivan furrowed his brow. "At home? Why?"
"If the women are receiving threats at home, then the killer knows where they live and delivers the messages there. That means that Scribbs and I will likely be under surveillance; therefore, we'll have to live together during our undercover operation." Ash got the attention of both her partner and her superior with her remarks.
"Live together? What do you mean by that?"
"Share the same space, Scribbs. You can move into my flat," Ash explained; however, Sullivan quickly interrupted.
"Excuse me ladies, but I failed to mention that a flat has already been set up for the two of you, not far from the clinic. Collins wanted to make it easier for the killer to have access to you should he or she be interested."
"Easy access? As in, hey, look over here, please kill us?" Scribbs asked in a sarcastic tone.
"The plan is to catch the killer, Scribbs." Ash folded her arms across her chest in her classic argumentative stance.
Before Scribbs could respond, Sullivan quickly jumped in, "Collins is waiting for you downstairs. Perhaps you should go speak to him about the specifics."
Scribbs glared at Ash. "I think that's a good idea. Let's go see what other little surprises Collins has in store for us."
The two detectives turned and left their superior's office as he watched them walk away, bickering back and forth the minute they stepped across the threshold. He shook his head and returned to his paperwork.
"I think you should be the one to be impregnated," Ash said the minute they left Sullivan's office.
"Me? Why me? You're more maternal than I am."
"Yes, but you're shorter," Ash explained just as they reached their destination, and lengthening her stride, she stepped through the lead detective's office before Scribbs could reply to her inane comment.
"I can't believe I have to be the one to carry the baby." Scribbs parked the car in front of their new flat.
"Scribbs, you're not actually going to get pregnant. You're just playing a part."
"I don't care. It's the principal of the thing. I think I'm better father material." Scribbs opened her door, stepping onto the pavement and staring up at the building. "At least our accommodation look promising."
Ash joined her partner as the pair started towards the entrance. "Let's not argue about our roles, Scribbs. We can't do anything about it; Collins had already set up the appointment in your alias' name."
"We should've been consulted. If we've got to play the parts, we should have some say in the matter." Scribbs reached for the door handle, but Ash quickly grabbed it first and opened the door for her partner.
"After you, dear." Ash smiled sweetly. Scribbs just rolled her eyes and stepped into the building.
"Bloody hell, Ash, the sitting room is bigger than my entire apartment." Scribbs walked around the area, impressed by its sheer size.
"I'd imagine that our credentials will be carefully checked by the clinic, so we'd need to present an image of success, but I'm with you Scribbs, I wonder how Collins managed to acquire this flat with department funds."
"This assignment might not be so bad after all." Scribbs smiled, heading down the hallway to check out the rest of the living space. A few moments later, her words had Ash moving to join her.
"Ash! Could you come here for a second?"
The brunette walked into the room and glanced around. "Scribbs, where's the other bedroom?"
"There is no other bedroom, Ash. There's this and the rather large toilet through that door." Scribbs gestured towards the corner of the room.
Ash frowned and opened the door nearest her, hoping that there'd be a room with another bed behind it. A walk-in wardrobe was not was she was expecting.
"Maybe we can put a bed in here. You know, one of those small cot thingies."
"You're more than welcome to get one, but since I'm the one to be impregnated, I think I should have the bed."
Ash stared once more into the wardrobe before glancing at the bed. "Well, it is a big bed."
Scribbs smiled. She'd always wanted to sleep with Ash again. She was beginning to like this assignment more and more.
"This way, Ms. Wellington." The nurse started down the hall, expecting the couple to follow. Scribbs shrugged at her partner and headed towards the small room at the end of the corridor.
"You need to remove your clothing. Gowns are in the dressing table on your left. Put one on and leave the opening in the back. The doctor will be with you shortly." The nurse gruffly spouted her orders before closing the door behind her, leaving Ash and Scribbs staring at each other.
"An exam? No one said anything about an exam. I thought we'd just have a little chat with the doctor." Scribbs nervously ran her hand through her hair.
"Um, Collins definitely never mentioned an exam. You don't have to do this, Scribbs. We'll just tell Sullivan that we simply can't play these roles."
Scribbs sat on the edge of the exam table and sighed heavily. "We can't, Ash. This is a murder investigation, not just some minor infraction of the law."
"But, Scribbs. There'll be an exam, with a real doctor and real instruments."
"Scribbs, please tell me you've had an internal before."
"For God's sake, Scribbs. Please tell me you use birth control."
"Yes, I have a rather large supply of condoms, but I haven't actually needed any for quite some time, and, to be quite honest, I'd rather not discuss this, if you don't mind."
"Alright, but I do want to talk about this exam. You really should've had one; if nothing else, to be sure that everything's okay."
"I can assure you that everything works just fine, Ash."
"For disease, Scribbs."
"Hey, I don't just sleep with anyone."
"I meant other diseases, cancers and such."
The sound of a knock had both women turning towards the door. The nurse stuck her head in, surprised to see a still fully dressed Scribbs.
"Ms. Wellington, you really need to change. The doctor will be here shortly."
Ash opened her mouth to inform the nurse that there wouldn't be any exam, but her partner's words had her snapping her jaw closed in surprise.
"Give me just a few more minutes, please." The nurse nodded her head and closed the door.
"Ash, could you turn around for a moment?"
The brunette nodded and faced the door; this assignment was worse than she'd first thought. She made a mental note to talk to Sullivan as soon as she could.
"Okay, I'm ready now, Ash."
The DI slowly turned around to find her partner lying on the exam table with a sheet draped over her. The dressing gown peeked over the edge of the sheet, but Ash's focus immediately shifted to Scribbs' ashen face.
"Scribbs, you really don't have to do this."
"Yes, I do."
A knock once again interrupted the pair, and this time the doctor accompanied the nurse into the room. "Ah, good afternoon, ladies, I'm Doctor Giles. Let's get to the exam, shall we?"
Ash immediately started for the door. "Scri . . . um, Emily, I'll wait in the hallway."
"Oh, Ms. Tyler, you don't have to leave." The doctor assured Ash, moving towards the end of the table. Yet, another knock on the door interrupted the conversation.
A blonde nurse stuck her head into the room. "Doctor Giles, there's an urgent phone call for you."
The doctor excused himself and left the room, taking both nurses with him. Scribbs immediately grabbed hold of her partner's hand.
"Ash, I can't do this!"
"You want me to stay?" Ash offered her presence even though she'd rather be anywhere else.
"No! I don't want you to see parts of me I've not actually seen."
"By your head, Scribbs, I'd stand by the head of the bed."
"Oh, well . . . that would be okay. Um, but Ash . . . would you hold my hand?"
Ash looked into scared dark eyes; there was no way she was leaving her partner alone to deal with this part of the assignment. She'd just have to tough it out; she'd have plenty of time to have her own mini-breakdown later. She gripped Scribbs' hand just as the smiling doctor walked into the room. Ash narrowed her eyes at the man; he'd better not be smiling during the exam.
A fully-dressed Scribbs sat outside the medical lab, waiting for her turn to have her blood drawn. Ash sat next to her partner, still not able to look Scribbs fully in the face. The doctor had been very thorough in his exam, and although the brunette hadn't actually seen any of the blonde's lower extremities, her upper body was an entirely different matter.
Before either woman knew what was happening, the doctor had moved up the side of the table and pulled back Scribbs' dressing gown, exposing two very pert breasts. Ash had found herself staring at her partner's body, having no idea how truly fit Scribbs was. When she'd finally moved her gaze to Scribbs' face, she was stunned to see the blonde looking at her with a confused expression. Ash had offered a smile and focused on the hand she held. This assignment was going to be hell.
"Ms. Wellington?" A lab technician stood in the doorway, holding a file. Scribbs looked up at the smiling redhead and immediately grabbed for Ash's hand.
"Ash, come with me please. I'm afraid of needles."
The brunette pursed her lips and sighed. The only positive aspect was that Scribbs would be fully clothed this time. Standing, she pulled her partner up with her, practically dragging the blonde towards the waiting nurse.
"Don't look at the nurse, Scr Emily. Look at me." Ash ordered her partner. The minute Scribbs had taken a seat, she'd watched the nurse like a hawk, and her respiration increased drastically when the woman had picked up a needle.
"Look at you? Have you seen the size of the needle she intends to use? It's a harpoon, Ash ley."
"No, it's not. It just looks big to you. You always exaggerate the size of things."
"I do not. I know a big one when I see one."
The nurse had slid in next to Scribbs while the two argued, and in a quick stick, she drew a phial of blood.
"Oww, bloody hell! That hurt."
By the time Scribbs turned to find the source of her pain, the nurse had already removed the needle and capped the phial. She winked at Ash as she left the room.
"The nerve of that woman." Scribbs complained, rubbing her sore arm.
"I thought it was rather ingenious of her to use our bickering to her advantage."
"I wasn't talking about the shot, Ash. She winked at you with me sitting right here."
Ash smiled and took her partner's hand.
Two days later, the undercover detectives sat in the waiting room. Today was the day they'd find out if Scribbs was a suitable candidate. If not, Ash would have to subject herself to the very same tests, hoping that she'd pass muster long enough for the two of them to get a lead on the murderer.
They'd managed to go about their daily routines from their new accommodation, figuring if they drove separate cars, anyone watching would assume they were going to their made-up jobs. As a precaution, both women would take the long route to the station, continuously checking their mirrors to be certain they weren't being followed.
Their nighttime activities, however, had proved to be very interesting, even humorous at times, at least to Scribbs. It seemed that Ash had not only packed her clothes and toiletries, she'd brought all of her rules as well. Scribbs had made a game of breaking as many of them as she could, but when Ash had turned blue in the face when Scribbs had squeezed the toothpaste tube in the middle; the blonde had toned down her antics, not even bothering to let a stray limb venture over to Ash's side of the bed during the night.
"Ms. Wellington? The doctor will see you now." Ash and Scribbs looked up to a new face. They'd not met this particular nurse in their previous visit. The pair exchanged a quick glance, both picking up something peculiar in the nurse's tone. Standing, they moved toward the door.
The nurse showed the couple to a small office, instructing them to take a seat. "There are some books on the table you might want to look through." The nurse explained in a sharp tone before closing the door behind her as the pair slid into their chairs.
"I don't think she likes us, Ash."
"Very perceptive, Scribbs. I wonder what she took offense to, us personally or the reason for our visit."
Scribbs reached for the nearby books, opening the front cover. "Maybe a little of both." The blonde looked at the first page. "Oh my. Look, Ash, a list of donors."
Pushing the book towards her partner, Scribbs pointed to a photo. "Yeah, sperm donors. This bloke looks promising."
Ash jumped from her seat, scurrying away from Scribbs and, more importantly, the book. "Ew, get that thing away from me."
Scribbs chuckled. "It's just a bunch of photos, Ash; not actual sperm."
"I don't care. What kind of person would volunteer their um . . ." Ash scrunched up her face and rotated her hand in a circular gesture, " . . . for the taking."
Scribbs looked at the first few photos. "Well, we've got a chef, a dance instructor, and a barrister for starters."
"A barrister?" Ash stepped towards the table to get a better look at the man when the door swung open, stopping her efforts.
"Ah, Ms. Wellington and Ms. Tyler; I see you've found one of our potential donor books."
Ash moved to take a seat next to Scribbs, pleased that the blonde had closed the aforementioned book. She didn't think she could concentrate on the conversation with the photos staring back at her, especially knowing what they'd done to get into the rather thick book.
"I've got some wonderful news. Ms. Wellington, you're an excellent candidate for insemination. With your test results, I'm willing to bet you're quite fertile. I need you two to take those books home with you and decide on a donor. On your next visit, the nurse will instruct you on how to chart your basal temperature, and when the time is right, we'll begin immediately." The doctor informed the pair with a huge smile.
Scribbs glanced over at Ash, noting the wide-eyed stare. "Um, thank you, Doctor. We're just a little overwhelmed by the good news. Ashley had been very worried. We'll take the books home and set up an appointment to choose a donor."
The doctor nodded. "Very well; good luck, ladies."
Ash immediately turned to her partner when the door closed. "Scribbs! Please tell me again that you've been careful."
"Sex, Scribbs, sex! The doctor says you could be fertile, very fertile."
"Relax? How can you say that? I certainly don't need you to get pregnant and leave me with some incompetent partner."
"Ah, Ash, I don't think I've ever heard such a high compliment coming from you."
Ash smoothed out her trousers. "Well, I don't want to break in another partner."
Scribbs grinned and stood. Quickly grabbing up the books, she followed Ash into the hallway and out of the clinic. Neither woman noticed the glare being directed their way.
"Ash, come look at these books with me. We'll have to decide on a candidate for our next appointment."
"We're not going through with this, so why don't we just delay our choice a little longer."
"Collins doesn't want us to call any undue attention towards us. We need to act normally, like we can't wait to find a suitable donor. We're supposed to be excited about my upcoming pregnancy. Besides, our appointment is the day after tomorrow. We have to be prepared."
Ash sighed and walked over to the bed, taking a seat next to Scribbs. Looking down at the book, she began to flip through the pages.
"What about him?"
Scribbs leaned over to read about Ash's choice. "No way."
"Scribbs, this isn't even real. Let's not argue about our choice."
"I'm not having a bank executive's child. He'd be stiff and boring."
"First, let me reiterate that this isn't real, and secondly, no child of yours would ever be boring. I'd imagine he'd be a mischievous little scamp."
"Ah, thanks Ash. Now, how about this one here," Scribbs pointed to a very athletic looking male, "I'd say he had great genes."
Somehow forgetting her earlier words, Ash countered, "We don't want just brawn, Scribbs. We need our child to have intellect as well. Hmm, how about this one?"
Scribbs studied the photo of the handsome man, and then began to read his short bio; graduate of Oxford's Balliol College where he served as captain of the rugby team.
"Mathematics and Philosophy; that's certainly an interesting combination. He's tall, thin, and brunette as well. Ash, I think we've found our man."
"Yes, we have. Now, how about we go out to get a bite to eat?"
Scribbs grinned mischievously. "It's me that's going to be preggars, you can't have cravings, Ash."
"Let's just go." Ash turned on her heel, heading towards the door as a chuckling Scribbs scampered behind.
The two argued briefly as to where to eat but finally settled on a quaint little restaurant around the corner from their 'new' flat. Deciding that a little fresh air would do them good, they started walking down the pavement as a car slowly crept behind, a pair of dark eyes boring into their backs, waiting for the perfect opportunity. A few moments later, it presented itself.
Scribbs stepped off the kerb to cross the street just ahead of Ash. The brunette caught movement out of the corner of her eye at the exact same time she heard the squealing of tyres. Acting instinctively, Ash reached out and grabbed Scribbs by the arm, pulling her back towards her and the safety of the pavement. She barely registered the speeding car's colour as it abruptly turned the corner, narrowly missing her partner. Her heroic action knocked both women off balance and sent them sprawling on the pavement, Scribbs landing on top of Ash.
"Bloody hell! That car almost hit me!" Scribbs yelled, her heart almost beating out of her chest. She glanced down the street. "They didn't even slow down or stop to see if I was okay."
Ash exhaled loudly, trying to regain her composure. A millimetre closer, and Scribbs would've been under that car. "Scribbs, I believe it was their intention to hit you. The car accelerated before turning towards you."
Still lying on top of Ash, Scribbs looked down at her partner. "But there was never an attempt on the other couples, just threats against them. Collins said he didn't think the threats were serious."
"Well, apparently he was wrong. Um, Scribbs? Did you by any chance get the model or registration number?"
"No, I was too busy falling on my bum."
Ash glanced at their bodies. "Your bum? Whose bum do you think is firmly planted on the pavement?"
Scribbs scrambled to her feel, holding out her hand to assist her partner from the ground. "Oh, sorry, Ash. Are you hurt?"
Ash grimaced, allowing Scribbs to pull her upright. "I may have bruised my tailbone." The brunette rubbed the body part in question, her eyebrows shooting up in surprise when she encountered something silky.
"My trousers are ripped! They're my best pair, too."
Scribbs moved around to inspect the damage. "Yep, definitely ripped; nice knickers, Ash." Before the brunette could defend her silk, red knickers, Scribbs touched the torn area.
"Ash, we need to get back to the flat. You're scraped up pretty good. We need to clean off the area and put some cream on it."
Ash jumped at the unexpected contact, uncertain if she were reacting to the pain or the warm feeling of Scribbs' hand on her arse. "I think that's a good idea, Scribbs. We need to phone Collins and fill him in on the latest attempt."
Dinner was postponed as the women headed back to their flat. Scribbs walked behind the limping Ash, acting as a shield between the exposed skin and the passersby. The blonde took advantage of her position to occasionally stare at the gaping hole, telling herself that she was merely checking on her partner's injury.
By the time, the pair reached the flat, Ash was limping heavily, and Scribbs began to wonder if perhaps her partner had sustained a more serious injury.
"Ash, maybe we should go to casualty or A&E."
"No. I'm fine." The brunette started to ease herself onto the sofa, but quickly changed her mind when she realized she'd have to sit on her backside.
Scribbs took her partner by the arm. "C'mon, let's go in the toilet. We need to get you out of those trousers and assess the damage."
With the area beginning to throb, Ash nodded, allowing Scribbs to lead her into the large space. She reached for the button of her trousers, and in one quick movement, Ash was standing in the middle of the room with her trousers around her ankles. Stunned, Scribbs could only stare at the well toned legs and shapely arse. She'd no idea what Ash had hidden underneath her trousers all this time.
Totally oblivious to her partner's state, Ash bent over against the counter. "How's it look?"
'Damn fine.' The thought echoed through Scribbs' brain, but aloud, she managed, "Um, raw and scraped looking. Let me get a cloth to clean off the dirt."
Ash closed her eyes and waited, knowing the cleaning of the wound would not be a pleasant experience; however, the warm, gentle touch was not what she was expecting.
Scribbs carefully passed the cloth over the wound. She'd made sure to allow the water to reach a tepid temperature before dampening it, and with a shaky hand, she thoroughly and efficiently cleaned the wound and the surrounding area, freeing the debris from the scrapes.
Ash slowly opened her eyes; the mirror's reflection giving her the perfect view of her partner. She watched as Scribbs tended to her wound with an almost reverent expression, but on closer inspection, she noted a flush spreading across the blonde's face, a flush which could only indicate one thing, desire. Ash gripped the counter tightly and closed her eyes again, exhaling deeply and slowly.
Thinking she was hurting the other woman, Scribbs apologized. "Sorry, Ash; almost finished." Now it was Ash who was shaking as her arms began to tremble at the touch, not to mention the thoughts racing through her head.
Once again, Scribbs misinterpreted her partner's actions. "I know it hurts; I'm trying to make it as painless as I can."
Pain was the one thing Ash wasn't experiencing at the moment; Scribbs' soft touch seemed to be rendering all her other sensations numb. She barely managed a reply.
"I know, Scribbs." Closing her eyes more tightly, Ash hung onto the marble counter for dear life.
A few moments later, the wound was cleaned, and Scribbs was applying the antibiotic lotion Ash had packed in her never ending suitcase. She'd guessed Ash was right; one never knew when an emergency would crop up and first aid supplies would be needed.
Scribbs smiled. "Good job you planned ahead, Ash. I didn't think we'd have to use your kit." The blonde smoothed the last bit of cream, pulling her hand away, and Ash had to fight the urge to push back against her partner's hand, missing the warmth immediately.
"Um, I'll just let you find something to put on. Perhaps those sweats you brought. You should probably er . . . forego your knickers for now." Scribbs wiped her hand on a towel, turning to leave the room. A hand on her arm stopped her cold.
"Thanks, Scribbs. You have a very gentle touch." Ash whispered her compliment as the two women stared into each other's eyes, searching for what, they had no idea. Scribbs quickly pecked the nearby cheek and fled the room, her emotions vacillating wildly as if she were on a veritable rollercoaster. Heading for the kitchen, she hoped to find something alcoholic to calm her nerves.
The next morning, the partners sat in front of Collins, relaying the previous day's events. They'd barely spoken a word after Scribbs had cared for Ash's injury; instead, they'd had a light snack and gone to bed. No limbs strayed from either woman during the night. In fact, very little sleep was had as both women were too entrenched in their own confusion.
"So, only the colour, huh? No model or registration number?" Collins questioned his colleagues, upset that an attempt had been made to go after Scribbs, while at the same time, disappointed that neither woman had been able to give more information.
"Sorry, Collins. It just happened so quickly. One minute I'm stepping into the street, and the next I'm on top of Ash." Scribbs quickly backtracked. "I mean, um, Ash pulled me to safety."
The detective never missed a beat, totally oblivious to the reddening faces of the two women. "Okay, well you definitely got someone's attention for some reason. I'll have Jenkins check on the employees to see who drives a black car. Maybe we can narrow the list of suspects down." Standing, he looked at the two women. "Please be vigilant. I don't want Sullivan on my back if either of you are injured."
Scribbs started to point out that Ash had already been injured, but the dark haired detective cut her off. "We will, Collins. Now, if you don't mind, I think we should head back to the flat. Perhaps the killer is still gunning for us and will make another attempt."
"Right," Collins concurred, watching the detectives stand to leave. Just as they'd stepped through the door, he yelled out, "Be careful!"
"You better bloody believe we will." Ash muttered under her breath as the two headed towards the exit. If the killer made another move on Scribbs, Ash didn't know if she'd be able to keep her feelings for the other woman under wraps. She did know one thing though; if she got her hands on the person who'd tried to run her partner over, she'd make sure he or she was prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Of course, if she could get away with pummeling the individual, she'd do that, too.
The detectives stepped from their car, turning an eye towards the clinic's car park. Two black cars sat prominently in the front row, and Ash narrowed her eyes. Collins had said only two employees drove black vehicles, Nurse Danvers and the quiet receptionist, Carole Parsons. Ash's money was on the nurse; the same nurse who'd been quite terse with them on their last visit. Standing tall, Ash escorted Scribbs towards the door, making a conscious effort not to show a limp of any kind.
As luck would have it, Nurse Danvers was the one to call the couple back to the waiting room, and her attitude hadn't changed since their last encounter.
"The doctor will be here shortly. You'll need to give me the number of your donor so that I can check for sperm availability." The last sentence was spoken with obvious displeasure; the words were practically wrenched from her mouth.
Scribbs smiled brightly and handed over the selected donor number. The nurse snatched it from the detective's hand and briefly glanced at the choice. "Figures; everyone wants him." The disgust was evident in her tone, and as she left the room, Ash could've sworn she'd heard her mutter, "It's unnatural."
After a quick discussion with the doctor, the couple met briefly with another nurse who explained to Scribbs how to chart her basal temperature, pointing out the exact time she'd need to return for her first insemination try. Ash found herself listening intently to the instructions, explaining it away as her role as dutiful partner.
Grabbing a quick bite to eat, the detectives headed to the station, taking the chance of riding in together. When they'd left, both black cars were still parked in the car park, so they'd figured it was a safe bet that their stalker wouldn't be following them today. Besides, he or she already knew where they lived.
When they arrived at the station, Collins met them at their desks. "I think Nurse Danvers is our killer. A background check shows that she only recently came into employment with the clinic. Matter of fact, she was hired only two weeks before the doctor's murder. I had put her at the end of the list since I didn't think she'd been there long enough to form any opinion of her co-workers."
"So, you think she had an agenda when she was first hired." Ash gingerly sat on the edge of her desk, keeping her weight to her non-injured side.
"Yes, I do. Matter of fact, I can't find any background on her prior to her coming to the clinic. Jenkins is doing the legwork as we speak. You two really need to take care. I think she's escalating if she tried to run Scribbs over."
"Yeah, well she bloody well better not try it again. I'll be ready for her next time." Scribbs plopped down in her chair. Ash held her tongue, wondering exactly how Scribbs would take on a car.
Several hours past with still no new information on Nurse Danvers, and Ash was beginning to think the woman didn't exist until she'd arrived in Middleford.
"You know, you may have something, Ash. What if this woman has a fake identification? We'd never find any information on her if she just magically appeared one day."
"Yeah, well, let's leave the research to Collins. You and I have the actual person to deal with." Ash glanced at the clock. "C'mon. Let's call it a day. Besides, you have to start charting your temperature."
Scribbs looked up at a smiling Ash. "You're just loving this, aren't you?"
Ash nodded, a small smirk forming.
Scribbs, however, wasn't about to be made fun of; she smiled evilly. "Well, since you're so precise and exact, you get to make the chart." Scribbs stood and walked towards the door.
Ash's smirk had disappeared.
Pulling in front of the flat, Scribbs turned off the ignition. "Ash?"
"I see it."
"What should we do?"
"Call for backup."
"But, won't she wonder why we're not getting out of the car?" Scribbs fumbled for her phone.
A pair of lips met the blonde's before Scribbs could punch in the first digit on her phone. Reflexively, she placed her hand behind Ash's neck, finding the correct key by touch alone; however, when a smooth tongue pushed its way into her mouth, Scribbs released the cell, and it clattered into the seat well. Neither woman seemed to notice.
Endless minutes later, Ash pulled away from the kiss and nibbled on Scribbs' earlobe. "Did you get the number punched in?"
"You kiss me like that and expect me to be able to function. Are you mad?"
Ash chuckled. "Well, now she won't wonder why we're not getting out of the car. Speaking of which, we probably should. Let me get out and walk around to open your door. You can look over my shoulder and see if it's her."
Scribbs released a shaky breath. "Sounds like a plan." Ash smiled and stepped from the car.
Opening the driver's side door, Ash made sure to keep her back to the street, trusting her partner to let her know if she was in any danger. Extending her hand, she waited until Scribbs grabbed hold before helping the blonde from the car.
"What's she doing?"
Scribbs stood and peered over Ash's shoulder, trying to give the appearance that her attention was still on her partner. A frown instantly appeared. "She's not there. She's not in the car."
Ash chanced a glance backwards. There against the kerb sat a black car, an unoccupied black car.
"Now what?" Scribbs asked, glancing around the area.
"She must be inside. We can't chance calling Collins now; we might scare her away."
"So, what do you want to do? Go on in and hope she attacks?"
Ash took Scribbs' hand, leading her to the pavement. "That's precisely what I want to do. This time we'll be ready. There's no way she's laying a hand on you."
Scribbs smiled and allowed her partner to lead her to the door. She loved the protectiveness Ash was showing of late.
Once inside, they started at the voice coming from behind them. "Oh, hello Ms. Wellington, Ms. Tyler, how do you like your flat so far?"
Mr. Smythe, the building's manager, smiled brightly at his two new tenants.
"Um, we love it." Scribbs quickly replied, finding herself wishing that it truly was their space.
"Well, that's good to know. Listen, Ms. Wellington, I hope you don't mind, but I let your sister into your flat. She said that she'd come for a visit and that she'd arrived too early. I let her in a few minutes ago. Nice lady, your sister."
The two women glanced quickly at each other, obviously wondering how anybody could call Nurse Danvers 'nice'.
Ash excused herself to place a call while Scribbs questioned the manager further, trying to establish exactly how long Nurse Danvers had been in the flat.
Standing just down the hall from their flat, the detectives worked through their plan.
"Okay, Collins is going to surround the building and provide cover in the corridor. He's going to stay out of the flat until we give the word."
"Good. So, how do you want to play this one out, Ash?"
"I guess we go in, act surprised, and see if we can get her to confess to the murder."
Scribbs nodded. "Easy enough. Let's go."
The two women headed towards the door, and by the time, Ash had placed the key in the lock, their hands were securely intertwined. Pushing the door open, Ash led the way.
Despite their good intentions, neither detective was quite prepared for the woman springing into immediate action. Ash gasped as she spotted a woman, obviously not Nurse Danvers, jumping from the wardrobe. She didn't have time to issue a warning as Scribbs was unceremoniously wrenched from her grasp, and pulled hard against the chest of a tall brunette. Ash vaguely recognised her as the receptionist.
Scribbs groaned as a strong muscular arm held her tight, flinching at the feel of a knife being placed against her neck. The door slammed closed behind them.
Ash remained deceptively calm, dredging the receptionist's name from her memory bank. " It's Carole, isn't it? Fancy meeting you here. Mind telling me how you got into our flat?"
"That's not important. What's important is that your partner here never carries a child. It's unnatural."
"What's unnatural about a beautiful woman carrying a child? I think it's wonderful."
"Not like this. Not when it's two women who'll bring up the child. It just isn't fair." Carole tightened her grip, pushing the knife closer to Scribbs' neck.
Ash swallowed. "Okay. Why don't you let Scribbs go, and we'll talk about it."
"Scribbs? Is that some pet name or something?" Scribbs glared at her partner as the woman practically squeezed her to death.
"No. It's her real name. Scribbins actually; Detective Sergeant Emma Scribbins, Middleford CID."
Carole laughed aloud. "Oh, really, and who are you? Queen Elizabeth?"
Ash ignored the nurse's sarcasm. "Scribbs? Remember Roxie Hill?"
Scribbs glanced at the nearby wardrobe door from the corner of her eye. It would do nicely if it weren't for the fact that she was being held at knifepoint. She quickly turned her gaze back on Ash.
Ash stared at the glistening steel, attempting to will the blade away from Scribbs' neck. "Ah, yes. Perhaps a bit of deviation is needed from that particular scenario. Yes, I wonder how Felicity Hendon would react in this situation."
"Would you please stop this incessant prattling, Ms. Tyler? It isn't going to work." Carole glared at Ash, increasing her grip on Scribbs, and Ash immediately realized that she'd need to distract the captor before Scribbs would have any chance of getting free.
"So, why did you kill the clinic's doctor? Are you so homophobic that you'd murder a man simply because he had lesbian clients?"
The woman laughed manically; however, she did loosen her grip on Scribbs. "You have no idea. I'll have you know that I was in a loving relationship with another woman for fifteen years. Fifteen years! I gave her everything."
Ash narrowed her eyes in thought. "Ah, I see. You gave her everything except for a child, that's it, isn't it?"
"Yes. I didn't want children. I told her as much when we first met, but she kept insisting that I'd change my mind. I even went along with it for awhile, going to a clinic, and having myself tested. Little did I know that I was infertile. I couldn't very well keep her after that. She knew for sure that I'd never have children then."
"She left you, didn't she? She left you and found someone to have children with." Ash shifted her eyes to the knife. It was still dangerously close to her partner's jugular.
"That bastard doctor told her I couldn't have children. He ruined everything; he had to die."
"So, why go after the lesbian couples? Why go after us?"
The nurse pointed the knife menacingly at Ash. "Because, you have what she wants!"
Scribbs pounced on Carole's instep and reached for the door. When the woman howled in pain and reached down for her foot, Scribbs opened the door forcefully, hitting the other woman square in the face. She dropped like a stone, and the knife flew across the room.
Scribbs moved her hand to the light cut she'd received when the nurse reacted to pain. Ash immediately moved to her partner's side, inspecting the damage.
"Are you okay? Here, let me see." Scribbs turned her head and allowed the brunette to check the injury. Seconds later, she found herself engulfed in Ash's arms.
Ash was so wound up she uncharacteristically broke one of her own rules; dissing a fellow officer. "I'll bloody well kill Collins for getting you into this; it's Nurse Danvers indeed."
Scribbs smiled at her partner's reaction, petting her hair in a soothing motion. "Shh, Ash, I'm okay; we're okay."
"I know, I know, just don't let anything like this happen again, Scribbs."
"I promise, Ash." Scribbs held onto her partner tightly, hoping that neither of them were ever placed in this situation again.
That evening, the two women sat beside each other on the sofa. Sullivan had given them the rest of the week off, and Collins had casually mentioned that the flat was still in their names until the end of the month. He'd winked at Ash and whispered, "It's the least the top brass can do, eh?"
"So, Ash, about that kiss." Scribbs scooted closer to the other woman, laying her head on the brunette's shoulder.
"We needed a diversion, Scribbs."
"Hmm, well, it certainly was a pleasant diversion."
Ash smiled, lightly placing a kiss on top of blonde hair. "Really? I'll have to remember that the next time we need a diversion."
Scribbs tilted her face up, looking at her partner. "Ash, there's more than one kind of diversion, you know."
"You mean, other than tactical?" Ash teased, turning her full attention to Scribbs.
"Yes, that's exactly what I mean."
"Oh, so you must be referring to something that distracts the mind."
"Relaxes it so to speak."
"Ah, entertains the ..."
"Ash?" Scribbs interrupted, waiting for the other woman to look down at her.
"Can we get to the kissing now?"
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