DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Named for the Cardigans’ song, My Favorite Game: “I’m losing my favorite game.”
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
I don't know what you're looking for
you haven't found it baby, that's for sure
You rip me up and spread me all around
in the dust of the deed of time
Ash stopped her blonde colleague at the door of the station with a touch and a smile as they were leaving for the night. "Scribbs? Fancy a bite?" she suggested, trying to keep a note of pleading out of her voice.
"Sorry, Ash, I can't. I've already got plans," came the disappointing, yet unsurprising, reply. Scribbs' smile was genuine in regret as she offered, "Another time, perhaps?"
"Soon?" Ash's sad smile didn't reach her eyes, and this time, she didn't care that she sounded desperate and needy. It had been well over a month since they had spent any off-duty time together, and the distance was wearing on her.
"Sure, soon." And then Scribbs disappeared out into the darkness, leaving Ash leaning against the door, not feeling at all reassured. There had been a time, not long ago, when they spent much of their time off together, at the pub or out to dinner, or nights in on Ash's sofa watching old movies and complaining about the unreal expectations that the movies fostered about men and romance.
Ash sighed, wound her scarf about her neck, and headed out into the cold, dark night alone. A few minutes later, as she entered her flat, she shook her hair out of the bun she wore and poured her first glass of wine before she even changed out of her work clothes, her expression pensive as she wandered around her apartment, tapping her fingernail on her glass. Mementos of happier times surrounded her; the candles Scribbs had gotten her for her birthday earlier in the year, an unopened bottle of wine they had picked up for their next movie night, the multicolored scarf hung carelessly on her coat rack that Ash had stubbornly refused to take into the office in the vain hope that Scribbs would stop by and pick it up.
There wasn't even a seemingly good reason for the sudden distance. There was no new, all-consuming romance as far as Ash could tell; if anything, Scribbs appeared to be going out less, if her lack of hangovers at work were any indication. And even during their occasional (hers more occasional than Scribbs, Ash had to admit) adventures in dating, the men had come and gone but their friendship had remained. And despite her denials of the fact, Ash considered Scribbs to be one of her closest friends, and she missed her friend.
At one point, about two weeks ago, she had resolved to make some new friends and, for two miserable nights, she had endured a few rounds at the pub with two of the other female detectives in the station, but their incessant chatter had put a quick end to that attempt. Since then, Ash had been spending most nights in with her VCR and a well-stocked liquor cabinet. Glancing down at the fresh bag of videos on the counter, she sighed, and then headed into the bedroom to change.
The next day, gazing sadly across their shared desks at an intent Scribbs who seemed to be in a hurry to finish their report and head out to wherever she disappeared to these days, Ash decided to broach the topic.
"So, where did you go last night?" She winced at the fake-sounding enthusiasm in her voice, but if Scribbs noticed anything, it wasn't obvious to Ash.
"Just out with a couple of mates." Scribbs shrugged, not looking up from her monitor.
When her very loud sigh failed to catch the attention of her usually observant colleague, Ash said, "Scribbs?" A pair of hazel eyes finally met hers and Ash willed herself to keep her composure. "Is there, are you angry, with me? You just, keep, and, well, I was just wondering "
"Ash, no," Scribbs' denial was quick and vehement, and for a second, Ash was reassured. "I've just been busy is all," Scribbs explained, but when that bland statement seemed to have no further explanation forthcoming, Ash felt her hopes plummet.
Green eyes glanced down to the keyboard for a second before meeting Scribbs' eyes, and Ash could tell that her attempt to hide her hurt had been unsuccessful. But she stuck to the dictates of polite society, smiled, and said, "Of course." After a few more moments of typing, she excused herself to the bathroom.
Ash missed Scribbs' own look of pain as she watched the brunette leave their office.
As she plunged her hands into the warm water before splashing it onto her face to hide any evidence of tears, Ash heard her stumbling, pathetic, pleading words over and over in her head and she leaned her forehead against the cool surface of the mirror. It couldn't go on, she resolved; obviously, their friendship meant more to her than it did to Scribbs, and she would not continue to carry on like she was some misfit adolescent trying to get the other kids in the lunchroom to like her. She was ex-head girl, Detective Inspector, Kate Ashurst, the youngest woman to ever make the grade, and it was time she started acting like an adult and not a stroppy cow. Exhaling from deep in her abdomen, Ash straightened her shirt and jacket, ran her fingers through her bangs, and composed, headed back out to her desk.
"Ash?" Scribbs' look of concern and compassion as she settled into her chair was almost her undoing, but she stuck to her guns.
"Yes?" she replied, brightly, willing herself to smile at Scribbs.
"Um " Whatever Scribbs had been about to say seemed to be derailed by Ash's behavior. "I'm done here." Scribbs paused, studying Ash for a moment, before continuing, "I'm going to head out."
"I have a few more things to do here, so I'll see you tomorrow."
"Ok," Scribbs replied, uncertainly.
"Have fun." Ash called, keeping her smile wide until Scribbs left the room.
The next day, Scribbs came in at her usual half nine with dark circles under her eyes. Ash studiously did not comment on her appearance or ask her about her night, opting to fill her in on a lead on the latest case instead.
"What's this?" Scribbs asked, interrupting Ash's update. She had one end of the scarf in her hand, from where it was wrapped around the bottle of wine.
"Oh, just a couple of things you left at my flat," Ash explained, her tone upbeat. "You haven't been by lately, so I thought I would bring them in."
Scribbs fingered the scarf thoughtfully as Ash finished explaining their next interview subject, and then followed Ash out to the car, still quiet. Ash kept the conversation centered on the case throughout the car ride, and Scribbs nodded to show she was listening. The interview provided another lead, and they followed the slow unraveling of the clues for most of the day.
Just as they were about to head back to the station, Scribbs caught Ash's arm to keep her from climbing into the car. "Ash look, I " Scribbs collapsed back against the car, throwing her head back and staring into the sky. "It's not ." When she met Ash's eyes, for a second, Ash thought she detected hopelessness and despair. "I can't explain." A fist connected with the car door, hard enough to bruise, testament to Scribbs' frustration. "I'm sorry."
"Scribbs, it's fine, really." Ash kept her tone blasé, and Scribbs opened her mouth to protest, thought the better of it, and squeezed her eyes shut for a moment before exhaling audibly.
Her smile over the roof of the car was as forced as Ash's, and she nodded knowingly. "Let's go, then."
And this is not a case of lust, you see
it's not a matter of you versus of me
It's fine the way you want me on your own
but in the end it's always me alone
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