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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Got a Body
Scribbs had her feet up on the dashboard. Her knees pressed against her stomach. She hugged her legs and said, "Do you realize there's not been a murder in two weeks? I'm not sure what the benefit of making Detective Sergeant is if there's nothing to do."
"We do cover a lot of suburban territory, Scribbs. Isn't the appeal not having so many deaths? A nice place to raise the kids and all that?"
Scribbs put her chin on her knees. She sighed, and said, "I suppose it's supposed to be a cushy post."
"Donuts and coffee, eh?" Ash grinned at her from the driver's seat.
"What? And be common coppers?"
"Sorry. Croissant and--"
Scribbs cell phone vibrated against her thigh. "Ooo," she said.
"Answer it," Ash said.
"Ah. Right." Scribbs unclipped the phone. "Hello?"
"Got a body," Sullivan's voice came through the static. Scribbs began fumbling around in the glove compartment. Ash handed her a pen. Scribbs wrote the address on the pale denim of her jeans. She hung up the phone. "Got a body," she said.
Ash raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, here." Scribbs twisted, to show Ash the address.
Ash sighed and made a U-turn.
The car had barely pulled up to the curb in front of a small, one-story bungalow when Scribbs was barreling out the door and running up the sidewalk. Ambulances were parked in the driveway, their lights spinning but their sirens silent, and police officers milled in the grassy area between the bungalow and the two-story house next to it.
"Scribbs! Careful!" Ash called. A tear-stained woman stood in the house's doorway, and Scribbs flung her arms around her.
"Sara," Scribbs said. Sara clung to her, and sobbed.
Ash got out of the car more slowly, and walked up the sidewalk. She didn't want to interrupt the scene, but she was concerned that Scribbs had just lost her mind.
"Are you all right?" Scribbs asked, rubbing Sara's back.
Sara sniffled and pressed her face into Scribbs' neck. Ash could have sworn she'd kissed it. Ash cleared her throat. Sara looked over Scribbs' shoulder and said, "Oh, please. Come in." Her eyes were red-rimmed and her hands were shaking. Ash followed them in, and as soon as she could, put her hand on Scribbs' back. Scribbs elbowed her gently.
"Tea?" Sara asked.
"Sure," Scribbs said.
Ash shook her head. "We'd like to see the body."
"Oh, right." Sara gestured them toward the French doors that led to the back yard. Ash saw the body lying in the grass between the two houses, an old man holding a trowel. She covered her mouth. A policeman waved her over. She left Scribbs to interview Sara.
"Could be an accident," the policeman said. "Fell off the roof."
"What was he doing on the roof with a miniature shovel?"
The policeman shrugged, and asked, "Cleaning out his gutters? Hammering down a shingle?"
"Why'd you call us?"
"Well, Inspector, the call to emergency services was a bit hysterical. Guilty-sounding. And screaming. We may even have a taped confession." He jerked his head at Sara.
"She pushed him off?"
"We'll let you know, Inspector."
"You do that," Ash said. She turned around, but Scribbs and Sara were gone. She found them at the kitchen table, Sara still cringing over a handkerchief, and Scribbs, squeezing her shoulder.
"What happened?" Ash asked, and both women looked up.
"I don't want to talk about it," Sara said.
"You're going to have to eventually," Ash said.
"Ash," Scribbs admonished.
Ash folded her arms.
"Come to the station tomorrow, eight o'clock in the morning," Scribbs said.
Scribbs got to her feet, leaned over and kissed Sara's forehead, and followed Ash out of the house.
In the car, Ash put her key in the ignition, and then sat. She asked, "What was that?"
"What was what?"
"You know her?"
"Oh, yeah. We were in school together," Scribbs said.
Scribbs grinned. She said, "I may have bonked her."
Ash pressed her forehead to the steering wheel.
"Hey, that doesn't mean I'm going to bonk her again. We're different people now. I was wild and crazy and stupid back in the day, if you can believe it."
"I can't," Ash said.
Scribbs patted her thigh and said, "Don't worry."
"Don't worry about what?"
"Look, Scribbs, I'm not jealous," Ash said.
"Of course not."
Scribbs was still grinning, and Ash gritted her teeth. She said, "I'm just worried about you maintaining professionalism."
"I'm not the one who's jealous," Scribbs said.
Ash groaned, and started the car. Halfway to the station, she said, "I thought I was the only woman."
"What would make you think that?"
"I don't know. I was drunk. You have a lot of guys," Ash said.
Scribbs threw out her arms, nearly smacking Ash's head in the process. She said, "I believe in free love."
Scribbs said, as her hand settled on the back of Ash's shoulders, "If it helps, you were the last person."
"That's not necessary. That was one time. We were just experimenting, really. Getting it out of our system. It would be entirely unprofessional to--"
Scribbs leaned into Ash, and breathed into her ear, "Does that mean you don't want it to happen again?"
"I--can't." Ash pulled the car into her parking space.
Scribbs let her go. She said, "I know," and slammed the door. Ash winced against the reverberation. Scribbs went into the station. Her ass was in view for a good ten seconds, and Ash watched, remembering what it had been like to squeeze it, and remembering what it had been like before, wondering what it would be like. Scribbs was surely straight, and therefore, everything was safe.
Except that Scribbs touched her so often, and she, reasonably, learned to touch Scribbs back. Close partners would help the work, and Ash would readily admit to being lonely. That's all it was. The line had disappeared, one time, when they were drunk enough to be blind, and now the line was back, and since she knew what it was like to smell Scribbs' skin after sex, to see how brilliant her smile could be in the afterglow, she wouldn't have to relive it. Even though she had, every night, in her head.
By the afternoon, Scribbs had created a Lego recreation of the crime scene. "Look there," she said, tapping the black block shingles with the hapless Lego man stuck into the roof. "She was too far away to grab his leg. And do we really think she climbed up onto the roof with him?"
Sullivan picked up the woman figure. "So, she was here at the window, and then went to the phone." He marched the woman across the Lego floor.
Ash tapped the green grassy lane between the houses, which Scribbs had patterned with morbid red planks. She took the man figure and tapped him off the roof. He toppled. "Crime Scene says his injuries were consistent with a fall. Not a jump, not a push. He hadn't been smothered afterward."
"So we believe her?" Scribbs asked hopefully.
By the morning, Sara had composed herself. She dabbed demurely at the corner of her eye with a tissue. Scribbs led the interrogation. Ash sat with Sullivan in the viewing room. "Don't make out in there," Scribbs had said.
"Why the hell not?" Ash had replied.
Sullivan had given his usual frown.
"What happened yesterday, Sara?" Scribbs asked.
"He just fell," Sara said. Her voice stayed controlled. To Ash, it sounded rehearsed.
"Fell from where?"
"The roof?" Scribbs asked.
Sara nodded. Scribbs put a hand on her shoulder. "It's okay. Take a moment."
Scribbs was being entirely too nice. Ash lunged for the door. Sullivan grabbed her arm.
"Let's just give her a chance," he said.
"She's too involved," Ash said.
Sullivan rubbed his chin. He asked, "Should I remove her from the case?"
"No." The thought of betraying Scribbs made her blood run cold. She shook her head, and said, "No. It helps." She hoped. She pressed her forehead against the glass.
Sullivan folded his arms.
Scribbs glanced up at the faint thudding sound, and then placed her hands over Sara's. "Please," she said. "It's just you and me."
"We were yelling," Sara said. "He was banging on that shingle right outside of my bedroom, at seven in the morning and I'd just come in at one o'clock, and I opened my window and I screamed. And he turned around, and he screamed. And then he fell." She wiped at her face and gazed at Scribbs. "Is that like, accessory?"
Scribbs got up from the table and circled around Sara. Sara had to look over her shoulder, twisting her back. Scribbs said, "No, Sara. Tell me what really happened."
Ash raised her eyebrow.
"What?" Sara asked.
"You weren't just screaming. You were making threats, weren't you? You scared that little old man."
"Little old man! He'd been a thorn in my side for years. Complaining about the hedges. Complaining about the noise. He was no frail man, Emma."
"So you wanted him dead, did you?"
Sara's face went ashen. She turned away from Scribbs and gripped the edge of the table. Scribbs sat on the table beside her. She took Sara's face into her hands, using her thumbs to brush away tears. "You hated him, but he deserved it. People would understand. I would understand."
"I threw something at him," Sara said. She closed her eyes, leaning into Scribbs' touch.
Scribbs stroked her hair with one hand, almost patting her. "What?"
"My hairbrush. I missed. But I--He slipped, trying to avoid it. I heard the impact. Oh, Emma. It was such a terrible noise. I would have never wished that noise on anyone."
"Is that all?" Scribbs asked.
Sara nodded, and wailed, collapsing onto Scribbs' legs. Scribbs patted her hair.
When they let Sara go for the morning, Sullivan asked, "What do you think?"
Scribbs leaned on her desk. She said, "I don't know. Sara was the best liar we knew. She could get booze from a nun."
Sullivan raised an eyebrow.
Scribbs glanced between them. "I mean. Well. She's a nice person, boss. I never saw her do anything cruel in her life."
"Do you want some leniency, Scribbs?"
Scribbs glanced at Ash again, and then folded her arms, saying, "Yeah. I want leniency."
Sullivan nodded. He said, "I'll look over the crime scene reports."
When he'd walked away, Scribbs leaned on Ash's shoulder, and asked, "Drinks tonight?"
Scribbs gave her a brilliant smile. Ash cleared her throat. She asked, "Do you think you'll be able to get her off?"
"Oh. Well, she's not who I had in mind for getting off," Scribbs said.
Ash blushed furiously.
Scribbs squeezed her wrist and then walked back to her desk. Ash pivoted to watch her ass.
At the local cop bar, Ash asked, "Tell me about Sara."
"Oh, well, we had fun, you know, but we haven't really kept in touch. A phone call here, an email there."
"Would you--ever again?" Ash asked. Her heart was right in her throat, but she needed to ask. She liked to have all the information.
"God, no. Ash, she's a barrister. And she's married. She came back early for a meeting, but her husband and two beautiful children are in the south of France right now. A barrister, can you believe it? Nothing I'd want now."
Ash bit her lip. She lifted her shot glass and asked, "Did you turn her straight?"
"No. Michael Bannon turned her straight. She left me in the dust." Scribbs shook her head. She looked away. Hair fell into her eyes, and she looked young. Ash drank down her shot, and then put her hand on Scribbs' wrist.
Scribbs smiled to herself, and still looking away, asked, "Am I going to turn you straight, Kate Ashurst?"
"Undoubtedly not. Men have been trying to turn me lesbian for years. I have a feeling it's working," Ash said. She tugged on Scribbs' hand.
Scribbs stood up, and leaned into Ash and the barstool. "Want to dance?" She asked.
Ash put her head next to Scribbs' shoulder, and said, as quietly as she could, "No."
They walked out together, arm in arm, and Ash said, "You wouldn't want a barrister type?"
"Of course not."
Ash furrowed her brow.
Scribbs gave her a squeeze, and said, "When I've already got one."
Ash smirked. She untangled herself from Scribbs to unlock the car. With the door open, she asked, "Do I kiss better than Sara?"
Scribbs slid between Ash and the car, and smiled up at her. She said, "I don't remember."
Ash tossed her keys onto the front seat and rearranged her purse on her shoulder. She looked behind her at the bar, and then at the quiet street in front of them. "There are some things not to be done in Suburbia," she asid.
"Oh, shut up," Scribbs said, and kissed her.
Ash pressed her mouth to Scribbs and pushed her against the car. She cupped Scribbs' face, and when Scribbs obligingly parted her lips, Ash deepened the kiss. They finally broke off, gasping, when Scribbs pushed her knee between Ash's legs.
"Well, do I?" Ash asked.
"You have to realize, Ash, whenever I kissed Sara, we were pissed out of our minds. So she was always very sloppy. You, on the other hand, know exactly what to do with your tongue," Scribbs said. She nuzzled the side of Ash's neck.
Ash arched and closed her eyes. She said, "I'm glad my focus on precision has paid off."
"Right. Your anal-retentiveness, you mean," Scribbs said.
"Call it what you will." Ash tilted her head and kissed Scribbs' temple, and then ran her tongue along the tip of Scribbs' ear.
"Perfection," Scribbs said. "I meant 'Perfection.'"
"Right. So, are you going to go for leniency with Sara?"
"Oh, who cares," Scribbs said, as she pulled Ash against her for another kiss.
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