DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks for Angie and soporificeffect for the beta.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Life's a Beach
Scribbs closed her eyes and lifted her head to face the sun; the heat permeating her skin and bringing a beatific smile to her face. It was the kind of day that made you forget about the potential dangers of global warming and simply bask in the glory that was an English summer day.
"Put this on."
Shading her eyes, Scribbs turned to observe her flustered and highly disapproving friend, who was, at that moment, smearing yet more goo onto her nose in an attempt to fool her skin into thinking it was still stuck behind a computer terminal back at the station.
"What is it?"
"Factor thirty-five. With your colouring you should really start with factor fifty but the woman in the chemist said they'd sold out on account of a pensioners' day trip to Blackpool."
"Can we get settled first?"
"Sun cream is the first defence against sunburn, and according to surveys, it can reduce your chance of contracting skin cancer from prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays."
"This is the first sunny day we've had this year," Scribbs protested.
"Which means your body is far more vulnerable to both sunburn and sunstroke."
With a sigh Scribbs uncapped the tube she'd been offered and began lightly smearing the cream across her nose and chin. The practicality of the precaution had invaded her fantasy and momentarily ruined her plans of seduction against a backdrop of sandy beaches and azure skies.
"Don't forget your ears."
Ash ignored her partner's growl of annoyance and began unpacking their supplies in an orderly fashion; sun cream, sunglasses and head wear came first, quickly followed by two large bottles of liquid - Scribbs had insisted on something fizzy and impractical - and three beach towels, two of which were a soothing lemon colour, whilst the third depicted a surfing woodpecker and was quickly thrust in Scribbs' direction.
"What, no lifejackets in case we get swept out to sea?"
Ash refused to rise to the bait; she'd checked with the coast guard before they left and they assured her that there was little to no chance of a storm blowing in from sea.
Scribbs quickly unfurled her towel and positioned it to her liking, making sure that she had an uninterrupted view of the beach and a quietly fussing Ash. Who was, at that moment, doing battle with one of the most pernickety critters known to mankind; a deck chair.
"Do you want some help?"
Ash circled the wooden structure, her legendary concentration blocking out Scribbs' infuriating words of wisdom and encouragement, as she unravelled the puzzle that had thwarted English holiday makers for decades. With a quick snap and rise the deck chair suddenly came to life, and before Scribbs could retrieve her jaw from the sandy floor, Ash had positioned herself in the striped contraption and began to reapply suntan lotion to her visible extremities.
Scribbs refused to be impressed. "Are you planning on wearing that getup all day?"
"What's wrong with it?"
"It's eighty-five degrees, we're on a lush sandy beach and you're covered from head to toe in something that resembles an old tablecloth my mum had in the seventies."
"It is designer beach wear," Ash huffed. "I bought it especially for the occasion, unlike some other people I could mention."
Scribbs looked down at her t-shirt and shorts. "Is it too much?"
"Too much?" Ash's first, okay second, thought on seeing Scribbs' shorts had been to wonder what had become of the rest of them. The denim cut-offs weren't, technically, short-shorts but coupled with Scribbs' surprisingly long legs they'd seemed almost indecently minuscule. "I've seen underwear models who . . . What are you doing?"
With a last tug Scribbs pulled her t-shirt free. "Getting comfortable."
"Com . . . fortable?" Ash choked.
Scribbs adjusted the strap of her bikini top and failed to notice the heightened colour on her friend's face. "I haven't been able to wear this since I went to Crete with Alan."
"Alan? Wasn't he the one who -"
"And had the -"
"It's a very nice top, Scribbs, but do you think it's appropriate for -"
Deciding that further questions were pointless at that juncture, Ash pointed at the half buried tube of suntan lotion. "Don't forget the cream."
Ash rooted around in her bag for the paperback she'd stuffed into its recesses, determined not to stare as Scribbs began rubbing the cream gently into her skin. It was a test of will that stretched Ash's determination to breaking point but somehow she managed to refrain from openly gawking at her friend.
"Ash, can you do my back?"
Ash's determination shrivelled up and died as she turned to be faced with one of Scribbs' more innocently hopeful looks. She was about to enter hell and it was peopled with good looking blondes in revealing clothing.
With the gentleness of a drill sergeant, Ash quickly began applying cream to Scribbs' back, her hands trembling as they came ever closer to areas of her friend's anatomy that they had no right to traverse. The slopes and contours of Scribbs' back turned into a playground for exploration and, against her will, Ash's touch turned into a caress as she covered ever inch of exposed flesh, from toes to neck, with avid attention.
Scribbs was in heaven; a golden beach, gently lapping waves and Ash's hands all over her. She'd had a dream like this once, only at some point the beach had been invaded by Daleks wearing Nazi uniforms and Ash had morphed into Laurel or Hardy - she could never remember which was which - and she'd woken up screaming. The real thing was definitely an improvement.
Only it wasn't real.
Ash's hands slipped along the sides of Scribbs' ribs before reversing direction and heading up towards the temptation that was her bikini top.
All movement stopped as Ash turned to stone and the reality of the situation once again intruded on the pair. With pained indifference Ash removed her hands, and with a quick look to her left, began to clean the greasy substance from her fingers.
The woman in question refused to reply.
Both women jumped as an echo of Scribbs' entreaty came from the depths of Ash's beach bag.
"Boss?" Ash spoke into her bag, where the walkie-talkie lay hidden, and prayed that none of their suspects were looking too closely.
"Suspects headed your way," Sullivan informed. "Be ready to apprehend on my signal."
"Ash, I -"
"They'll be here any minute," Ash interrupted. "I suggest you cover yourself up as much as possible before Sullivan arrives."
"Ash, about before, I just wanted to -"
"Scribbs! Will you put some bloody clothes on!"
With a muttered curse and several unflattering comments about stuck-up cows who could just go to hell as far as she was concerned, Scribbs slipped on her t-shirt and readied herself for the circus that was about to unravel itself before her very eyes.
Two hours later the blackmail suspects were sitting on their lonesome in the cells and Scribbs was doing her best not to squirm as the sun cream dried and her t-shirt super glued itself to her skin. T-shirt and shorts had been fine on the beach but sitting at her desk in CID they lost some of their charm.
"You should go home, Scribbs."
Ash didn't even bother to lift her head as she issued her dismissal and that, coupled with the pristine suit and immaculate hair, were almost enough to drive Scribbs over the desk to strangle the ever living crap out of her friend.
"You could take me home."
"I still have work to do." Ash refused to look up. "You can take the car, I'll get a lift with someone."
"I don't mind waiting."
The muscles at the side of Ash's jaw began to bunch. "I'll be hours yet."
Before Scribbs could reiterate her offer a uniformed PC wandered past, and spying Scribbs' legs, let out a whistle of appreciation.
Ash's head snapped up. "You'd better be practising for 'One Man and his Dog'," she growled. "Or you'll soon find yourself on the wrong end of a sexual harassment case."
"I . . . Yes, ma'am."
As the PC ran from the room, Scribbs levered herself up onto the desk, her legs stretched out on display. "Afraid of the competition?"
"What?" Ash looked from Scribbs' legs to her smiling face before studiously returning to the computer screen. "Don't be ridiculous."
"Because there's only one person I'd let smother me in cream," she purred, "and that's you."
"Scribbs!" Voice lowered, Ash glowered at her friend. "I was simply assisting you in staving off unwanted sunburn. Nothing more."
"I'm warning you."
"I didn't say anything."
Ash resumed typing.
"Then I suppose it's only right that you help remove it, too."
"What?" Ash was sure she'd heard wrong. "Are you suggesting I . . . That I -"
"Come back to my place and get introduce to Mr. Rubber Duck."
"Mr. Rubber Duck?" That sounded far too kinky for Ash's liking. "Who's he?"
"He's a rubber duck." Ash still looked confused. "You know, the kind you have in your bath to play with when you get bored."
"If you're five."
Scribbs had been trying for flirtatious but obviously the attempt was wasted on Ash; she was obviously in need of a 'knock her over the head and drag her back to your cave' kind of hint. "Okay, then how about you come back to my place and I throw Mr. Rubber Duck in the bin while you run me a bubble bath?"
"What am I, your servant?"
"No! I . . . I just thought you could help scrub my back."
"A shower would be far better at removing sun cream."
"God! No wonder you've never had a one night stand, you're bloody impossible to chat up." Standing, Scribbs reached over and turned off Ash's monitor. "Take me home. Now!"
"Take me home or I'll tell the entire station how you tried to feel me up."
"I did not!"
"I'm sure SOCO could lift a print or two from the back clasp of my bikini top."
"Ash, will you stop prating about for ten minutes and get your arse in my car?"
Ash refused to give in to demands or blackmail. The fact that she shut down her computer and followed Scribbs to the car was simply a coincidence. She'd had a trying day and the thought of a long soak in a bubble bath - Mr. Rubber Duck included or not - was rather appealing. She'd make Scribbs pay for her little diatribe later. Much later.
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