DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm not completely happy with this one, but I couldn't figure out how to fix it. Oh, and I also stole the title. It's a song by The Faint.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The first time she said it, it didn't penetrate Ash's consciousness. The brunette was too busy kissing the pale skin of Scribbs' belly, lips chasing the path of her fingers as she pressed the other woman's top further up her torso.
She could see the delicate satin of Scribbs' bra, a rich, dark chocolate color. Nose brushing the line bisecting the blonde's abdomen, taking in the faded yet still sweet smell of her shower gel and the underlying hint of Scribbs' warm skin, Ash murmured, "Hmm?"
Scribbs shifted uncomfortably, one hand running gently through Ash's hair, coming to rest lightly against the back of her head as the other woman looked up at her, eyes hazy. "It's just " she sighed, paused. "Why is it you can only do this when you're drunk?"
The question was asked softly but hit with the force of a physical blow. Ash pulled away slowly, separating herself from the tangle of Scribbs' legs. Settling on the opposite end of the sofa, one hand brushing down the front of her shirt in a nervous gesture, she frowned. "That's not true."
Scribbs' smile was sad. "But it is."
"Ash, look I play by your rules. I don't talk about this this thing we're doing. At work, I keep my hands and eyes to myself. I pretend like nothing's changed."
Pulling herself up so that her spine was perfectly straight, her shoulders square, Ash folded her hands in her lap, lips pursed. "What are you saying?"
"I'm saying I don't want to be the girl you shag whenever you're drunk and lonely."
Ash had seen Scribbs brash. She had seen her carefree and spirited and lively. She had seen her pleasantly surprised and adorably smug. She had never seen her dejected, despondent, and downhearted.
Scribbs shrugged sadly, helplessly. "A couple of glasses of wine at dinner, a vodka tonic or two at the club and then you're ringing up my number on your speed dial."
"That's not true," she said again, softly, eyes falling to her lap.
Ash wondered how to tell Scribbs the truth. How to tell her that she stood in her own way, that when left to her own devices she deconstructed, reconstructed and repeatedly tore down the arguments for why this was, in spite of everything else, a good thing. Because there was a lot of everything else to spite her family, her career, her history and upbringing, herself. Ribs replaced by reinforced steel, each new spike in her cage added one at a time until her heart was trapped and she couldn't breathe this was the way she felt inside. And then she'd see Scribbs face or hear her laugh, watch the way she flowed through life as if nothing of consequence could attach itself to her. She floated above it, a quick grin and a roll of the eyes batting away any potential obstacle, and Ash wanted so badly to be the kind of person who could shed her shackles and join her openly, freely.
But she didn't think she could, or at least hadn't been able to do so yet. And so she dampened the voices, lulled the jailor to sleep, and quietly crept out, spending a short stint of time in the land of no consequences before recapture.
She had never been drunk, though, and the accusation irked.
"I understand," she said when Scribbs didn't reply, and the words were, at once, wistful and acknowledging. A trio of rapid blinks brushed away the threatening hint of tears and she offered a sad smile but found herself unable to rise from her seat. She searched for the strength to propel herself to her feet, to will her feet to carry her away from the look of disappointment in Scribbs' eyes, but it was as if she'd grown roots.
Something about the pulsating aura of vulnerability surrounding the brunette tore the tiniest of holes in Scribbs' resolve. She loved Ash, had done so for longer than she cared to admit, and as much as she wanted to rail at the other woman's failure to rise above her expectations, wanted to curse and scream and shout about unfairness and antiquated sensibilities and cowardly fear, she instead leaned forward. The distance between them shrank, became a vacuum instead of a void and she found herself offering an unexpected ultimatum.
"One last time then?"
Her fingers were firm against Ash's cheek, bringing the other woman's chin around so they were face to face. She took a moment to watch gray-brown eyes, satisfied herself that she saw what she needed to see bubbling beneath the surface and told herself it was enough to know it was there. Then she leaned forward slowly, offering Ash the chance to back down, to refute her words, to offer a refusal or a negation.
She received the slight part of full lips around an inhale of anticipation.
Since there were no words, apparently, Scribbs began what was the softest kiss she had ever shared with Ash. It lingered, brushed, deepened like a slow drizzle of honey until Ash surged forward with a choked cry, hands tangling in Scribbs' hair and tongue lapping against the blonde's own with a velvety softness so achingly familiar that Scribbs wanted to run away and hide. Her eyes had fluttered shut but she opened them again, hoping to see something more now that Ash was whimpering against her lips, but the other woman's eyes were closed, lashes long and dark against her cheeks. Long fingers were again under the hem of her shirt, cupping her sides and sliding up her back, and Scribbs arched into the other woman with a needy moan she refused to stifle.
Seconds later, she was keening with disappointment instead as Ash slid from underneath her, rising unsteadily to her feet. Extending an arm, she tangled her fingers with Scribbs' pulling the other woman up and into her, lips meeting for another kiss.
"Come with me," she murmured, already tugging Scribbs along behind her as she headed for the other woman's bedroom. Once there she drew them to a stop in front of the bed then stepped back, offering Scribbs a shy smile before looking down to the ground. Scribbs watched in breathless anticipation as Ash's fingers fumbled with the buttons on her own shirt. Skin was revealed slowly, hiding in maddening shadows as Ash turned her attention to her trousers and underwear instead of slipping the fabric free of her shoulders. Head still canted down, she shimmied the material down slim hips, stepping gently free of it, then straightened. She hesitated for a moment, fingers clutching the panels of her shirt tightly, before slipping it free in a casually elegant, lithe movement. A quick snap later and her bra was gone as well, and for the first time since they'd entered the room, Ash met Scribbs' eyes.
She didn't say anything, but there was a hesitance in her gaze that nearly broke the other woman's heart. Scribbs didn't move to her though, didn't try to offer comfort or succor. Instead she took a deep breath, told herself that regret wasn't enough, and waited patiently to see what Ash would do.
After a moment, Ash's gaze fell again, a rueful smile touching her lips for the briefest of time before she stepped forward once more. Fingers light as she tugged free Scribbs' shirt, as she pushed down tightly molded jeans and drew off silk and satin, Ash kept her eyes on her task, no longer able to meet the hazel staring back at her so searchingly.
A soft shove and Scribbs was on the bed and Ash was crawling over top of her. She brushed her lips up the long sweep up a thigh, placed soft, open kisses on a trembling abdomen, sucked the hardened tip of a nipple into her mouth and bathed it with messy swipes from her tongue. She ran her nose along the column of Scribbs' neck and over her ear, the gentle warmth of her breath sending a shiver down Scribbs' spine wholly out of proportion to the act itself. She drug her teeth across the sensitive skin of Scribbs' jaw, nipped lightly at her chin, and applied her lips, teeth and tongue to neck, shoulder and collarbone with sloppy precision.
When her lips finally met Scribbs' again, after what felt like a lifetime of exquisite torture, it was in harmony with the slick slide of her fingers against wet flesh.
Scribbs whimpered. She dug her fingers into the softness of Ash's hair and dived into a series of kisses as lazy and slow as the touch of Ash's fingers on her. She refused to be rushed, and from the way Ash was touching her, languidly, unhurried, as if Scribbs' hips weren't unconsciously rocking up in a plea for more, it seemed that the other woman concurred.
By the time that even the slow circle of Ash's fingers was enough to have her inhaling in sharp gasps through her teeth, Scribbs' lips were raw and tender. She didn't want to pull away, didn't want to end that bit of contact that had always seemed, strangely, to be one of the most intimate things they did together, but her orgasm caught her by surprise. Her head slammed back into the pillow as she choked out a startled, low moan, the look on her face almost one of confusion, and her fingers dug into Ash's back deeply enough to leave bruises.
She kept her eyes open, once again searching, but Ash's were closed. She had a soft smile on her face, something about the easy set of her jaw indicating that she was cocooned in something Scribbs' couldn't see, like a pleasant dream or a wistful memory, and even through her pleasure, Scribbs felt a tinge of anger. Ash was once again keeping her out.
And then a tear trickled free, running quickly down the curve of Ash's cheek to hang, suspended, for a moment at the edge of her jaw before falling. It hit Scribbs' collarbone, hot enough to make her hiss. It was followed by another before Ash opened her eyes, blinking quickly, eyes glinting in the soft light from outside.
Scribbs' felt her heart break again, something rising up inside her that wanted to kick and flail and rail against the other woman's misguided resolution. Instead she drew Ash's lips to hers once more, ignoring the buzzing in her ears as she placed the flat of her palm on her abdomen. She moved it slowly, deliberately, fingers just barely touching the tease of soft hair when Ash rolled away, eyes clinching shut once more. Hand hard around Scribbs' wrist, she pulled the hand away, using the grip to instead drag Scribbs over so that she was draped across her, legs entwining automatically as Scribbs' cheek came to rest against her shoulder.
And then Ash's arms were wrapped tightly around her, holding her as if she were afraid Scribbs was going to disappear, and Scribbs was secretly glad of it. She allowed herself to ease down from her climax, to let a sense of contentment roll through her as her limbs grew heavy.
Ash's hand was rubbing gentle circles against her back, short nails lightly scoring the skin, and Scribbs felt herself drift perilously close to sleep.
"You've got to be the stupidest person I've ever met," she said quietly, fighting back against the pull of lethargy. Ash stiffened at the words, her hand stilling, and Scribbs eased back slightly, head tilting up so she could watch the expressions flit across the other woman's face.
Confusion. Sadness. Acceptance. Dejection.
"I'll put in for a leave of absence," Ash sighed, cheek pressing into the pillow, eyes blank and empty and focused at a spot over the top of Scribbs' head. "I'll ask Sullivan to have me reassigned."
"No, you won't," Scribbs contradicted quietly. "Come Monday, you're going to be at the desk opposite mine as if nothing had changed. And to everyone else but us, nothing will have. But, you I want you to have to look at me every day and live with the consequences of what you've done. I want you to see me and know that you ruined this. You sabotaged it. You gave up on it because you were afraid. I want you to sit there and know that I loved you and well, I don't know how you feel, but you'll know it. And whatever it is that you felt, I want you to mourn the loss of it."
"No." Scribbs voice was harsh, final. "It's your choice, Ash. It's always been your choice. Starting tomorrow, you have to live with it."
Ash tensed, her arms loosening their hold on Scribbs' torso, but the blonde glared up at her, eyes flashing. "Tomorrow you leave, Ash. Tonight you're mine."
With a resigned sigh, Ash tightened her grip once more then closed her eyes.
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