DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A very special thanks to the lovely mrswoman for ironing out the numerous wrinkles.
CHALLENGE: Submitted as part of the Cliché Challenge 2007.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
It Happened One Night
Her groan of pain split the silence of the room. Moments later, she emitted another pitiful moan and attempted to open her eyes, just managing to peel a single eyelid upwards. The second eyelid joined its mate in less than half the time it took to prize the first open.
Ash stared at the curtains on the far wall, the curtains that were most definitely not the same as the ones in her bedroom. The brightly colored floral material was a painful sight for Ash's already sore eyes; however, the brunette fought against the urge to shut out the garish, loud colors to glance around the room. She smiled when she noted her blazer and trousers laid out neatly on the divan. At least, she still had the sense to properly care for her clothing despite her presence in a strange environment.
A bloodshot eye drifted towards the end of the bed where a large screen television sat. Ash furrowed her brow as a vivid memory flashed across the blank screen. Naked women?
Her blurry path down memory lane ground to a halt when another groan sounded, and this one definitely didn't belong to Ash. The brunette froze; not only was the moan not hers, but it had been emitted so close to her ear, she could still feel its warm breath of air.
It was at that moment Ash came to the realization she was lying in another's arms. The dark head immediately swiveled back to the divan where her bra and knickers lay folded on top of her trousers. With no sign of her blouse, Ash breathed a small sigh of relief at feeling the soft cotton against her own skin. At least, she wasn't lying totally naked in bed with a stranger. No, she was merely lying with her blouse completely unbuttoned, wearing no knickers.
"Hmm," a decidedly female voice mumbled as she pulled Ash tightly against her body. From the tone, Ash was positive that if she were to turn to face her bedmate, the woman would be smiling. A kiss to the back of her neck confirmed Ash's deduction that the other woman was pleased with the current situation.
Very slowly, Ash turned her head as far as she could, trying to get a glimpse of her ... lover? At the sight of Scribbs' sleeping face, Ash slammed her eyes closed. What had she done?
In a desperate attempt to reconstruct the events of the previous evening, Ash began by retracing her steps from the morning before. She and Scribbs had arrived in London for a seminar on 'Crimes, Suburban Style' and had checked into the hotel just in time to drop off their luggage and race to the first meeting, a rather mundane session on the defacing of public property by graffiti artists. They'd sat next to a nice gentleman who'd invited the pair for tea at a quaint little shop next door to the hotel. Scribbs had jumped at the invitation, accepting for both of them. Ash remembered rolling her eyes at her partner's enthusiasm. Scribbs had evidently not seen the man's wedding ring.
The policeman, Jeremy Hazeldine, had entertained the pair with his stories of police work before his promotion and transfer to Little Stempington. Scribbs had found the work fascinating, but Ash could only wonder why he'd not spoken of any crime in his new location. Even now, she vividly remembered asking him about his job as chief constable.
"What about crime in Little Stempington? We've certainly had our share of murders in Suburbia."
Jeremy had taken a sip of tea. "It's the strangest town I've ever come across. No crime rate whatsoever, not even a domestic squabble."
"You're kidding?" Scribbs had tilted her head in disbelief. "You wouldn't believe what we've come across." She'd grinned and leaned across the table. "There was this one case involving partner swapping. One of the blokes was in a full neck brace, and Ash questioned his ability to perform. I tried to explain there was more than one way to . . . ow!"
"Scribbs!" Ash had kicked her partner under the table. "I'm sure Constable Hazeldine isn't interested in the intricacies of wife swapping." Jeremy had looked disappointed, and Ash had glanced at her watch when Scribbs appeared to consider continuing her tale. "Oh, look at the time; we'd better hurry back or we'll miss the next session, 'Parking Problems in the Suburbs.'"
"Parking problems are the least of my worry now," Ash whispered into the quiet room as she stared across at the empty twin bed next to her. The fact there was no sign that it had ever been slept in caused Ash to cringe. Had she just jumped Scribbs when they'd stepped into the room?
In her quest to recall how she and Scribbs had ended up in bed together, Ash failed to notice the hand that was slowly making its trek southward, until she felt a caress at its intended destination. Grabbing the wayward hand, Ash moved it back to its initial resting spot, interlacing her fingers with those of Scribbs to keep the hand in place. She couldn't help the shiver that ran down her spine at the thought that it was entirely possible that Scribbs' hand was already quite familiar with the land down under. Ash squeezed her legs together tightly and tried to remember the rest of the previous day.
They'd sat through the seemingly never ending discussion on parking, and then they'd decided to go to dinner. Ash hadn't been happy when Scribbs invited Jeremy along, but she was determined to keep Scribbs from regaling the man with more inappropriate stories. Ash made it a point to walk between the pair, making it difficult for the two to carry on a conversation of any length.
Recalling the meal, Ash found the source of her memory problems. The trio hadn't returned to the seminar, instead they'd moved to the pub next door and drank the rest of the afternoon and early evening away. At drink number four, Ash had no longer cared what Scribbs told the chief. And later, finding their way back to the hotel could only be attributed to their fine detective skills.
Once again, Ash was pulled from her memories by the woman who was spooning her from behind. This time, though, it wasn't just a groan from Scribbs.
"Oh God, did you get the registration of that vodka lorry?" Scribbs burrowed her head into the crook of Ash's neck.
Ash didn't reply; she was too busy thinking about the whiskey lorry that had run her down. It soon became apparent that Scribbs was becoming aware of her surroundings.
"Ash? What are you doing in my bed?"
"Actually, Scribbs, it isn't your bed. It's a hotel bed." Ash hesitated, temporarily sidetracked from the bed discussion. "Scribbs? How did you know it was me?"
"Um, the dark hair and protruding ears?" Scribbs' reply was less than convincing, but she had no intention of letting on that it was Ash's scent that gave her away. Scribbs had no desire to explain that particular tidbit.
"Protruding ears? My ears do not protrude!"
Scribbs smiled and nuzzled the slight protrusions with her nose. "Sorry, Ash, you're right. I don't know what I was thinking."
"Fine, Scribbs. No more comments about my ears." Ash settled comfortably into the body behind her.
"So, if we're in a hotel, why are we in the same bed? Doesn't our room have two beds? I remember seeing two beds when we checked in."
"I've no idea, Scribbs. I was hoping you'd be able to shed some light on the sleeping arrangement."
"Arrangement? Ash, we're in the same bed. I'm naked, and you seem to be rather scantily clad. I think this is a little more serious than just an arrangement."
Ash's jaw went slack. Scribbs was naked? Totally naked? The only thing keeping Ash's skin from Scribbs' was her thin blouse? The thin blouse that was barely covering her own assets?
"Um, Scribbs? What's the last thing you remember?"
Scribbs scrunched up her face in thought. "Having drinks with Jeremy at the pub. He kept going on and on about Joyce this and Joyce that, and you finally suggested he go call her."
Ash narrowed her eyes. "Yes, yes, I remember. I seriously doubt that woman is as saintly as he thinks she is."
"No kidding. I bet she's got a deep dark secret she's keeping from him. It's the quiet ones you have to watch out for."
"You're so right, Scribbs." Ash nodded in agreement; several minutes past before the two moved back to the subject at hand.
"Ash, I don't recall much after Jeremy left. Do you?"
"No, it's all a bit fuzzy, but apparently we made it back to the room in one piece."
"Yeah, we just didn't make it to our respective beds. I guess one of us must've crossed your imaginary line."
"What are you talking about, Scribbs?"
"The imaginary line you drew when we stayed in the same bed at the retirement home. I'm sure no level of inebriation would keep you from stating your sleeping rules."
Ash sighed. "Well then, I certainly didn't make myself very clear."
Scribbs chuckled. "You know, Ash. I remember the no heavy breathing in your direction, the no diagonal sleeping, and the no crossing the line, but I don't recall you having a rule about being naked together. Funny that."
"There are some rules that need not be spoken, Scribbs."
"Looks to me like maybe this one should've been because once we got naked together, the heavy breathing and crossing the line rules flew right out the window."
Ash flipped over and faced Scribbs. "We don't know for sure that we slept together, Scribbs."
Scribbs gestured between their naked bodies. "We most definitely slept together, Ash. The question is how far did we go?"
"We were both very drunk. Perhaps we weren't able to perform."
"I'd think it would be a matter of coordination rather than performance."
Ash glanced at the purple marks on Scribbs neck and cringed. "So, it's entirely possible that we, um . . . that we . . ."
"Shagged each other?" Scribbs supplied the missing detail.
Grimacing, Ash nodded. "That's not exactly what I meant, but do you agree that it could've happened?"
Scribbs' focus shifted to the bruise just below the small mole on Ash's chest. She'd always been fascinated by that mole. "Yes, I'd say that it's a definite possibility."
In the midst of the conversation, both women had shifted their hands to the other's back. The move so comfortable, neither noticed.
Ash glanced towards the end of the bed. "Scribbs? Do you recall the telly being on?"
Scribbs followed Ash's line of sight, seeing a flash of two dancing women flit across the dark screen. One woman completely naked and the other dressed in only a white blouse, the buttons undone, leaving the blouse open in the front.
"I think that perhaps it was."
"Do you suppose we just watched some telly and then nodded off?"
Scribbs looked back at Ash's hickey and then shifted her gaze to Ash's face. "I don't think so Ash."
"So, if we add up all the evidence, it seems we were pissed, came back to the room, and shagged each other for most of the night."
"Sounds about right." Scribbs nodded her head in agreement, not able to keep the grin off her face.
"Scribbs, this isn't funny. Our conduct was unprofessional and our actions completely inappropriate."
Scribbs' grin widened.
"I mean it, Scribbs. Stop smiling this instance."
"Ash?" Scribbs asked in an innocent tone, catching her partner off-guard.
"What is it, Scribbs?"
"Your hand, Ash."
Ash frowned, slowly becoming aware of her hand's location. Her attempt to remove it from Scribbs' ass was foiled when the blonde reached back to hold it in place.
"Fancy another round of improper conduct, Ash?"
"Oh, c'mon, Ash. If we're going to shag each other, don't you think we at least deserve to remember the occasion?"
"What about this morning opening session, 'The Proper Method of Handcuffing'?"
"We could always practice on each other," Scribbs teased, sliding her leg over the top of the other woman's.
Ash inhaled sharply. Scribbs was indeed naked.
"What about Jeremy?"
"He can practice with Joyce later."
Ash smiled and pushed forward, rolling on top of Scribbs. Sliding her hand down the smooth, silky skin, she latched onto Scribbs' lips as if for the first time.
The next time the pair woke; there was no doubt and no fuzziness, and certainly, no question as to why Scribbs was handcuffed to the bedpost.
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