DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: My eternal thanks go to atfm for agreeing to beta this one, along with two others…all in the same day. I’d have never made the deadline without you, Maxi.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
New Year’s in Suburbia
"So, Ash, what are your plans for New Year's?" Scribbs slid into the car and belted herself in. She'd been avoiding the topic, unsure of exactly how she'd talk Ash into spending the evening with her. Just because her Christmas plan had worked and just because Ash had been a bit more relaxed around her since Christmas didn't automatically mean the two of them would be spending New Year's Eve together.
"It's just another year, Scribbs; there really is no need for celebration. Resolutions will be made and broken, partygoers will wake up hungover the next morning, and the world will continue to spin on its axis exactly as it did the day before."
"That's kind of depressing. Good job no one else thinks like that. I, for one, plan to fall into the hungover category." Scribbs pulled from the space and headed away from the station; she shrugged nonchalantly. "I thought perhaps we could ring in the year together; maybe at a pub or something."
"A pub? With all those blokes looking for someone to snog at midnight? No thanks, Scribbs; I think I'll find something to watch on the telly instead."
"Oh, a movie marathon? Now that sounds wonderful." Scribbs dropped the not-so-subtle hint, her smile widening as she turned towards her partner.
Ash frowned at the suggestion; well, not so much at the suggested activity, but rather at Scribbs' excitement concerning the activity. It was as if Scribbs expected to join her, and Ash was a bit surprised to find herself completely enamored with the idea.
"A movie marathon does sound nice." Ash focused on the traffic in front of them. "Although, watching with someone would be better," Ash hesitated, "for critiquing purposes, of course."
"Of course." Scribbs smiled; this was much easier than she'd thought. "I wouldn't mind offering my extensive movie knowledge for such a marathon. I'd even bring along a few from my collection."
"I'd hate to spoil your plans of spending New Year's Eve at a pub." Ash's tone was far from convincing; she'd like nothing more than to entice her partner away from a pub full of men. Not quite certain where those particular jealous thoughts had come from, she discarded them and glanced over at Scribbs expectantly, hoping the other woman would reconsider her plans.
Wheeling into the suspect's drive, Scribbs killed the engine. "I'd much rather spend New Year's with you, Ash." She reached for the door handle and climbed from the car. "I'll even bring my pyjamas; we can have a slumber party." Placing her hand on the door, she leaned in, adding, "I can't promise that I'll be able to keep your stray limbs rule though."
Ash sat frozen in her seat as a grinning Scribbs slammed the door and headed up the pavement.
"For a dog, Scribbs; he killed her so that he could have sole custody of their dog." Ash couldn't believe the man had actually confessed to the crime, but when he'd given the reason, she'd stood up and walked out of the room without another word.
Scribbs struggled to keep up with her partner's longer strides. "You have to admit, Ash, it was a cute little thing."
Ash stopped dead in her tracks. "It was a dog!" She turned and resumed her fast pace. "I hate dogs."
Scribbs grinned. "If we broke up, I'd never kill you over a dog."
"We're not a couple, Scribbs, but if we were, I'd gladly give you the bloody dog." Finally reaching her desk, Ash plopped down in her chair. If she and Scribbs were a couple, there wouldn't be any need for a dog. "I need a drink."
Scribbs glanced up at the clock. "We could knock off a little early, stop off down the street for a pint. I could drive you home afterwards." She knew there was no way Ash would agree, but it certainly didn't hurt to try.
Ash just stared intently at her monitor. Scribbs took the anticipated lack of response as a no, and making it a point to sigh loudly, she moved to take her seat. She'd barely touched the surface of her chair when Ash abruptly stood, her own chair falling backward to the floor. She ignored it and started for the door. Scribbs stared at the abandoned chair in shock. Ash always pushed her chair in before she left her desk. Her attention was drawn from the floor by the voice coming from the doorway.
"Well, c'mon, Scribbs. I need a drink." She turned on her heel and headed for the station's exit.
Scribbs shifted her gaze from the chair to the door and back again before jumping up and racing after her partner. She was more than a little surprised to find Ash sitting behind the wheel of the car with the motor running. Climbing in, she'd barely closed the door when Ash pulled from the space.
"Whoa, Ash, I'd like to take my leg with me."
Ash glanced down at the leg in question. The denim-clad leg looked to be quite fit, firm in fact. She quickly turned her attention back to the road, pushing down on the accelerator. She really needed a drink.
Conversation was practically non-existent on the ride to the pub, consisting mostly of Scribbs planning their New Year's Eve movie marathon. Ash listened quietly, only offering a suggestion or two to the choice of Scribbs' party foods. For reasons unknown, Ash found herself uncomfortable in the close confines of the car. She was suddenly seeing Scribbs in a completely different light, her thoughts centering on more than just 'partnerly' thoughts. She cursed her decision to drive, knowing that if she'd let Scribbs behind the wheel, they'd already be enjoying their first round. She was never so grateful to see the pub just up the road.
"We're here," announced Ash in an overly jubilant voice, or at least, that was the way it seemed to Scribbs. She'd barely reached for the handle when Ash bolted from the car, hurrying towards the entrance. Scribbs frowned as she stepped onto the pavement. Ash had been acting strangely all day, even for Ash. Striding towards the entrance, she set her sights on uncovering just what was bothering her partner.
By the time Scribbs slid onto the stool next to Ash, two pints sat on the bar, one in front of Ash and one directly in front of the stool Scribbs had just climbed onto. She briefly wondered why her partner hadn't yet indulged in her beer, but the whiskey shot glass pressed against Ash's lips answered her question. Scribbs focused on the way the glass was so intimately pressed against the soft-looking lips. She licked her own unconsciously.
"Um, isn't it a bit early for the hard stuff?"
Ash threw her head back and allowed the liquor to burn its way down her throat, spreading much needed warmth throughout her body. She turned towards Scribbs, hoping that the temporary feeling of well-being the whiskey produced would stave off the unsettling feelings she'd had on the drive over; however, one look in the hazel eyes brought the feelings back to the surface. Her heart began to race, her hands became clammy, and her skin tingled. If she looked down, Ash was certain the hair on her arms would be standing at attention. She grabbed for the pint.
Scribbs looked at her watch and then glanced at the clock on the station's wall. She'd just reached for the phone when Ash shuffled around the corner, her hand appearing to be firmly affixed to her temple. The usually bright, alert green eyes were covered by a pair of dark shades, and Scribbs grinned, surmising what lurked behind the tinted lenses.
"Morning, Ash!" Scribbs took great pleasure in greeting her partner in a louder than normal voice. With a grimace, Ash moved her other hand directly across from its mate, and bowing her head, she gently massaged her temples.
"Must you shout, Scribbs; I've got the beginnings of a headache."
"Beginnings?" Scribbs swiveled in her chair and waited for her partner to slowly ease into a sitting position. "I imagine you've got the mother of all headaches. I've never seen you consume so much alcohol, Ash. You really do hate dogs."
"You don't know the half of it, Scribbs." Ash laid her head down on the desk, wishing for a gun.
"So, will you be up for our movie marathon tonight? You kind of got your nights mixed up; you're supposed to overimbibe on New Year's Eve, not the eve before."
Ash slowly raised her head. "Tonight?"
"Yes, Ash; it's New Year's Eve. Boss came in earlier and said we could knock off early today." Scribbs grinned. "I didn't mention that we did the same yesterday."
Squinting behind the dark lenses, Ash focused on the wall calendar. The red x's Scribbs had been placing on the calendar since December 1 filled every available space except for one, December 31. Ash frowned; how much alcohol had she had?
Scribbs didn't seem to notice her partner's confusion. "I could come around about eight or so. What time's good for you?"
"Eight's good." Ash answered absentmindedly, her focus still on the last day of the month. She'd meant to stop by the market on her way home yesterday.
"Great, what should I bring besides my movies and pyjamas?"
Ash suddenly came alive; she'd forgotten about the sleepover portion of the night. Now she remembered why she'd drunk so much. An image of Scribbs, pyjamas, and stray limbs worked its way back into her thoughts.
"Scribbs, perhaps we should just have the movie marathon."
"Aw, Ash, I don't want to have to call a cab on New Year's Eve."
"I guess that would be a problem. Okay, you can stay the night."
Scribbs grinned; she couldn't wait for the work day to end.
The headache finally drifted away around seven, causing both relief and upset for Ash. She was quite relieved for the drumming to disappear, but she'd been planning to use the very same drumming as an excuse to retire early. Her hope had been that Scribbs would insist on watching more movies, allowing Ash to go to bed alone. Now, she'd have to come up with another excuse.
A light tapping pulled her attention to the door. Crossing the room, she opened her door to greet her guest. Ash frowned at Scribbs' appearance.
"Evening, Ash." Scribbs brushed by her partner and moved further into the room. She threw off her coat, confirming Ash's suspicions that Scribbs was wearing her pyjamas under the trench coat. Although, if truth be known, Ash had been a little worried that Scribbs was wearing nothing under the coat.
"Interesting traveling clothes, Scribbs." Ash tried not to stare at the cute little boxer shorts or the very short shirt that barely covered her partner's stomach. Instead, she focused on the long knee socks. She tilted her head in recognition. "Scribbs, where did you get those socks?"
Scribbs grinned widely. "They're yours, from Posh Girls' High."
"Yes, I know they're mine, but where did you get them?"
"Don't you remember when we went undercover in our schoolgirl uniforms?"
"Yes, but I was the one wearing my socks, not you."
"Remember we came back to your flat to change?" Scribbs waited for Ash to nod. "Well, your socks somehow got mixed up with my uniform."
"Scribbs, that was last year. How come you didn't return them in a timely fashion?"
Scribbs looked down at her feet. "They're so warm, Ash. I didn't think you'd mind. You'd said you never wear them anymore."
"That's beside the point, Scribbs; they're mine to decide not to wear."
"Okay," Scribbs sat on the couch and slid off her shoe. She reached for her left sock.
"What are you doing?"
"Giving you back your socks."
"Just keep them for now. You can give them back after they've been laundered."
"Thanks, Ash." Scribbs smiled; she had no intention of ever returning the socks. "So, what's up first?"
"Movie-wise; what movies have you picked out?"
Ash smiled and turned towards the telly where she had a stack of movies sitting. She reached for the top DVD and turned back towards her partner as she read the title. "It Always Rains on Sunday."
"I've never heard of that one." Scribbs frowned. "I was hoping for a little adventure."
Ash flipped the case over and read from the plot outline, "An escaped convict tries to hide out at his former lover's house, but she has since married and is far from keen on the idea."
Not totally enamored with the synopsis, Scribbs decided to give it a go. "Okay."
The smile Ash displayed was one of pure excitement, and Scribbs was glad she'd answered the way she had. She watched as Ash popped the DVD into the player and returned to the couch, sitting on the opposite end. Still grinning, Ash hit play.
Scribbs slowly scooted towards the middle, keeping her focus on the screen, but the image being displayed stopped her from edging any closer to Ash.
"There's something wrong with your telly, Ash."
Ash tilted her head and focused on the screen, wondering if her hangover was causing vision problems; however, the picture remained crystal clear, and Ash was certain that if the hangover was the problem, then blurriness would be the result.
"It's a perfect picture."
"But," Scribbs looked at Ash and then back at the telly, "there's no color."
"Of course, there's no color; it's a black and white film. I love black and white, don't you?"
Scribbs struggled to keep from frowning. "Oh yes, of course, I do."
Ash moved closer, her thigh pressing against Scribbs as she started a running commentary about the movie. Thoughts of the horror movies Scribbs had tucked in her bag were forgotten. Apparently, Ash didn't have any stray limbs rule when it came to movie watching. Scribbs pressed back against her partner and pretended to enjoy the film.
By the third movie, Scribbs had learned to appreciate the black and white films, or rather, she'd learned to appreciate Ash's love of them. She laid her head against Ash's shoulder and smiled as Alastair Sim stomped through the snow, cursing the Christmas season. At least this was a film she was familiar with, even if the arm that was draped over her shoulder was a feeling that was foreign to her. It was the most wonderful foreign sensation she'd ever had.
As the minutes trickled closer to midnight, Ash relaxed more and more; the feel of Scribbs against her was incredible. She dared not read too much into the comfortableness the two were sharing, instead concentrating on just enjoying the moment. She had no idea that Scribbs felt the same way.
The clock continued to slowly move forward.
"Ash?" Scribbs tilted her head towards her partner.
"Yes?" Ash looked down, placing her lips inches from Scribbs.
"It's almost midnight." Scribbs had glanced at her watch just before calling out Ash's name.
Scribbs nodded slowly, her focus alternating between the shining green eyes and the soft-looking pink lips.
"What should we do about it?" Ash inched closer, her voice a whisper.
"I'm not sure." Scribbs knew what she'd like to do, but she wasn't so certain what Ash's wishes were.
"Scribbs, I've been having these feelings."
"Feelings? About what?"
"It's more about whom." Ash swallowed hard. "The feelings are for you."
"Really?" Scribbs smiled and reached up to touch her partner. Ash leaned into the warm palm.
"I think I know what we should do, Ash."
"Me too, Scribbs."
No other words were exchanged as two pairs of lips met gently just as the clock struck midnight. Without a moment's hesitation, Ash pulled Scribbs closer and deepened the kiss.
From far away, the sounds of bells chiming signaled the ringing in of the New Year, a year that held great promise for a very different kind of partnership.
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