DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
It had started out as a trip to get a drink of water from the water fountain. That's what she told herself. OK, so there was a water fountain in her office and absolutely no need to traipse all the way up the stairs to the one on the landing just below Sullivan's office. However, Ash had been mysteriously called into see Sullivan over an hour ago. He very rarely, if ever, asked to see Ash on her own and Scribbs was suspicious. Sullivan was a great detective, but trying to imagine him holding up his side of a conversation for a whole hour was mind-boggling.
Having hovered around holding a cup of water for a few moments, Scribbs' curiosity got the better of her and she headed up the remaining stairs towards Sullivan's office. The door was closed. Another sign Scribbs chose to take as bad. Debating the pros and cons of pressing her ear against the door, she decided against that course of action, but made up her mind that standing very close to the door wasn't against any rules of etiquette and should she happen to overhear anything, it would purely be an accident.
She soon realised that standing very close to the door was not conducive to accidental overhearing. All she could make out were very indistinct murmuring sounds, some slightly higher pitched than others. Glancing around to make sure there was no-one nearby, she took a deep breath and pressed her ear against the door.
" just so happy. I wasn't sure you'd say yes. I mean, I've known for a long time that it's what I envisioned but-"
Scribbs held her breath. What the hell had he asked her that she'd said 'yes' to?
"I have to say I was surprised. It was so out of the blue "
Scribbs scrunched up her brow in confusion.
"I know it seems sudden. And I was nervous about asking. But I do think it'll be fantastic."
"Oh, so do I. It's always been in my long-term plan, I just wasn't sure you thought of me in that way."
Scribbs put a hand over her mouth to stop any unbidden sounds coming out. The bastard had only gone and proposed to Ash! How dare he? Wasn't it completely obvious that Ash was meant for Scribbs? OK, so they'd never actually gone out, or kissed, or acknowledged the love that existed between the two of them. But she'd just assumed that everyone could see it. They worked in a building full of detectives after all. And here was Sullivan going around asking Ash to marry him! The nerve!
"Are you going to tell Scribbs?"
That threw her slightly. Why would he ask that?
"Yeah yeah of course. Just not straight away. I'll have to think about how I bring it up."
Scribbs nearly slid down the door. She was only saved from landing on the floor when the phone in Sullivan's office rang, startling her back into an upright position.
"DCI Sullivan yes yes. Right, I'll get a team over there straight away."
She heard the phone being replaced in the cradle.
"Ash, get Scribbs, there's a situation developing in the High Street, potential hostage situation, I want you both over there. We'll get details to you en route."
Scribbs heard two sets of footsteps approach the door. Which she still had her ear pressed against. In a blind panic she darted away from the doorway just before it opened. She slowed to a casual saunter, heading towards the stairs.
"Scribbs!" Ash called.
She turned around, feigning mild surprise at seeing Ash.
"Yeah?" she asked.
Ash kept walking, beckoning for Scribbs to follow.
"C'mon, we're off to the High Street."
Scribbs jogged to catch up with her.
"Fancy a bit of lunchtime retail therapy, do you?"
"Shopping isn't on the agenda."
"Oh, this work related then?" Scribbs said, pretending to pout.
Ash nudged her, smiling.
"I'm sure that you can fit in a quick visit to Top Shop after we apprehend whatever miscreant is terrorising the good people of Middleford."
Scribbs smiled back. But it was false; worn to hide the lump in her throat and the tears threatening to make an appearance at any moment.
The car journey was mostly in silence. Which was highly unusual and did not go unnoticed by Ash. She kept glancing over at Scribbs, wearing a concerned expression. Scribbs kept her eyes on the road.
"You're awfully quiet," Ash observed.
"Mmmm," Scribbs replied, indicating and looking in the rearview mirror.
"It's not like you."
"Are you feeling OK?"
"What? Yeah, fine." Scribbs assured her, putting on a smile for Ash's benefit. It didn't quite reach her eyes.
Ash didn't look convinced in the slightest. She opened her mouth to further delve into Scribbs' unusual behaviour but was cut off by her mobile ringing. She glanced at the display.
"It's the boss," she told Scribbs.
"Great," Scribbs murmured.
"Hello boss. Yeah uh huh twenty? OK. Well, you know us boss, famous for our diplomacy. Yes, we'll be careful."
Scribbs rolled her eyes. We. Like Sullivan gave a toss about her. He was only concerned about the safety of his future wife and the mother of his future, and inevitably adorable, children. She shook her head. That wasn't fair. Sullivan did care a great deal about all of his officers. And just because he was now engaged to one of them, didn't suddenly change any of that. Unfortunately, however, it had turned him into a complete bastard in Scribbs' eyes and she didn't see any way of changing that view. He was just going to have to live with it.
"Have you heard anything I've just said?" Ash asked, irritably.
Scribbs threw an apologetic look her way.
"Sorry, I was miles away what were you saying?"
Ash shook her head, but not angrily. She looked more worried than anything else.
"Right, when we're finished dealing with this, you're going to tell me what's bothering you. OK?"
Scribbs didn't respond.
"OK?" Ash pressed.
"OK." Scribbs relented. "So, what are we dealing with?"
"Guy's gone nuts in the Tesco Metro. He's got at least twenty people in there with him and he's brandishing a weapon of some sort. He's asked to speak to the police. We drew the short straw."
"Wow, we must be good if people are requesting us for negotiation stuff," Scribbs said, enthusiastically.
"I think it was more of a case that we were the closest," Ash said. "Ah, here we are."
A police cordon was blocking the road, Ash held her warrant card up to the windscreen and they were waved through. The incident team leader briefed them further on the situation as they zipped themselves into protective vests. The man was a disgruntled customer who felt that Tesco was responsible for his wife leaving him. She'd met another man while doing her weekly shopping and love had blossomed. They carried on an affair, indulging in passionate embraces in the frozen food section, engaging in deep conversation over tea and scones in the café, culminating in an elopement in the middle of the night. She left a note for her husband on the fridge, where she normally kept the shopping list. He took it badly. And now he was demanding compensation for his loss.
"Bloody compensation," Ash grumbled. "D'you know, there are far too many American legal TV programmes on nowadays. Everybody's obsessed with suing everyone else and thinking they should be compensated for everything. Can't the sad git just accept that she fell in love with someone else? It can't be helped."
Scribbs trailed after her into the supermarket, unable to respond to her comment due to a sudden rush of emotion.
The shop was quiet. At first it wasn't clear exactly where the twenty people were being held against their will, but Ash caught sight of a man standing at the far end of the row of checkouts. He was holding what looked like a baseball bat. There were people huddled in groups of three or four around where he was standing. Ash started to head towards him but Scribbs reached out and held her back.
"Let me talk to him."
Ash looked reluctant but Scribbs persevered.
"No, please, let me talk to him. I feel like I can relate to him."
Ash raised an eyebrow.
"Your wife leave you for someone she met in Tesco's as well, did she?"
Scribbs smiled sadly.
"No. But I do feel like a bit of a sad git right at this very moment, so let me do the talking, OK?"
Ash stared at her for a long moment before nodding and stepping aside, letting Scribbs take the lead.
"Mr McBride, we're the police."
McBride looked from Scribbs to Ash and back again.
"Oh for God's sake, I asked for the police, not some bloody YTS girls."
Scribbs held up her warrant card.
"Detective Sergeant Scribbins, this is Detective Inspector Ashurst, Middleford CID. We're here to help you out of this, Mr McBride."
"Oh, and how do you propose to do that, love?"
"Well, for a start you could hand me that baseball bat and let all these people go."
"And why would I do that? I'm here to be listened to, nobody's listening to me!"
Scribbs took a few steps towards McBride, he held up the bat and she felt Ash's hand on her elbow, restraining her.
"Mr McBride, you're not going to get what you want here. What you want is your wife back, and no amount of threats or lawsuits is going to bring her back."
His eyes flashed with anger and he lifted the bat again, Ash pulled Scribbs back slightly but Scribbs shook her off and stepped forward.
"She's gone. She's in love with someone else. You just have to accept that. And even if you can't do that, do you seriously think that bashing innocent people's heads in with that thing is any way to behave?"
He swung the bat without warning. Scribbs neatly side stepped the blow, knocking him off balance enough for her to grab the bat and twist it out of his hands. She then used it to trip him up, sending him sprawling across the floor. In a split second she had her knee between his shoulder blades and the bat pressed against the back of his head.
Ash rushed to her side, calling out instructions for the crowd of hostages to evacuate while she was slapping the cuffs on his wrists. The hostages didn't need telling twice and soon the store was cleared.
Scribbs kept her knee on McBride's back as she recited his rights. Ash watched with her mouth hanging open.
" may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something you later rely on in court."
Scribbs looked up at Ash.
"Jesus that was sexy," Ash's words rushed out before she could stop them.
Ash's eyes went wide. Scribbs' did likewise. Ash clapped a hand over her mouth just as a dozen police officers rushed in. They handed over the suspect and gave statements. Once the excitement had died down Scribbs tracked Ash down to the car. She was sitting in the passenger seat, looking decidedly mortified. Scribbs smiled and climbed into the driver's seat. Ash kept her eyes on the floor as she spoke.
"Listen, Scribbs, what I said before well, I'm sorry that was highly inappropriate and unprofessional and "
"Did you mean it?" Scribbs broke in.
Ash looked up into her eyes and nodded.
"Then I don't give a toss how inappropriate and unprofessional it was," Scribbs said, grinning from ear to ear.
Ash laughed, nervously. Scribbs' smile faltered.
"Wait a minute if you think I'm sexy, then why the hell are you marrying Sullivan?"
Ash's head snapped around.
"What?" she demanded.
"I well I sort of accidentally overheard the two of you in his office earlier today and you had said 'yes' and he was happy and "
"And you're a bloody idiot!" Ash declared.
Scribbs was thoroughly confused.
"So if he wasn't proposing to you what was he doing?"
"He was asking if I'd be interested in going for promotion. He's been approached about going to the Met and he was wondering if I'd be interested in his job."
Well, that made perfect sense.
"Wait, so is that what was wrong with you earlier in the car? You were jealous?" Ash asked.
Scribbs nodded, meekly.
"For goodness' sake, Scribbs, you really should try to be more obvious with your emotions. I thought you'd bloody been told you had cancer or something."
"So, just for the record, you're not marrying Sullivan?"
"I'm most definitely not marrying Sullivan."
"And you think I'm sexy?"
"It would appear so, yes."
"And you're going to be a DCI?"
"Well, that's not a foregone conclusion."
"And are there any rules about DCI's dating the lower ranks?"
"Not that I'm aware of."
"Then I think we need to go out and celebrate tonight."
"What's the occasion?"
"Your promotion, your non-engagement and my sexiness."
"And your appalling lack of detective skills."
"Come on, Scribbs. You did jump to a rather large conclusion, didn't you? I mean, you overheard me say-mmmph!"
Scribbs cut off further defamation of her character with her lips. They kissed heatedly for some moments, before being driven apart by the need for oxygen. Scribbs spoke first.
"Now, if the gear stick wasn't sticking right into my hip, I'd do some more of that. But it'll have to wait until tonight."
Ash just whimpered, which Scribbs took as a very good sign. She started the engine and pulled away, heading back to the station to debrief Sullivan. Who, as it turned out, wasn't quite as much of a bastard as she'd thought.
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