DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Ann for the beta and encouragement.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Old Married Couple
Ash hadn't been the kind of girl who dreamt about her future wedding in anything more than abstracts, unlike Scribbs, who had been updating her perfect wedding playlist since she was five and infatuated with Keith Chegwin, much to her later chagrin. Ash knew, when the time came, that she would simply meet the perfect man, plan the perfect wedding and then, as if in a fairytale, go on to live the perfect life. So, it was with some confusion, that she found herself, aged thirty-four, one half of an old married couple.
"How did this happen?" Ash wailed, in an uncharacteristic display of histrionics.
Scribbs looked over her shoulder at the Christmas card - addressed to them both - and shrugged. "They're too cheap to buy us each a card?" she guessed.
Ash held up a pile of similarly addressed Christmas cards, including one from her parents, no less. "They think we're a couple." She banged them down on the kitchen counter and turned to look accusingly at Scribbs. "They think we're an old, married couple."
"Your mother doesn't think we're married," Scribbs countered, even though, now that she came to think of it, Mrs. Ashurst had been dropping some rather large hints ever since the laws changed. "She just thinks we're living in sin."
The look Ash bestowed on her best friend could only be classified as a weapon of mass destruction, and it was only through years of practice that Scribbs managed to withstand the onslaught with minimal injuries. "My mother does not think I live in sin!" Ash's eyes trawled Scribbs' body. "Especially not with you."
Scribbs did her best to keep the confusion off her face. "But if they think we're an old married couple, but also know we never in fact got married, they must think we're shacked up and living in sin."
The logic of the argument failed to win against Ash's inability to think of her mother and sin at the same time. "We are not living in sin."
"I know we're not." They'd only started living together because Scribbs' boiler had blown up and the cowboys her landlord had hired to fix the problem had inadvertently demolished her bathroom. "And as soon as the housing market improves..." She didn't finish the sentence, because they both knew she was in no hurry to leave, and the market had already recovered, bombed and recovered again three times since she'd moved in the previous February.
Ash rifled through the stack of cards and pulled out another to wave in Scribbs' face. "This one's from the Boss," she said, her lips tightening and leaching the colour from her cheeks. "It's got a picture of kittens on it!"
"Yeah?" Scribbs thought the little balls of fluff were rather sweet and had even contemplated suggesting they adopt one of PC Boyle's cat's latest offspring. "I thought you liked cats?"
"That's not the point." Ash picked up two more cards, both featuring a feline of some description, and shoved them in Scribbs' face. "It's code," she said. "For lesbian."
Scribbs frowned. "You think the boss is a lesbian?"
"Don't be obtuse! We're the lesbians!"
"We are?" Scribbs had always considered herself more bisexual than anything else, but she wasn't about to argue with Ash, because she never won. "Okay, cool."
"I didn't mean that we're lesbi... Scribbs, are you deliberately trying to annoy me?" A thought struck her. "When you sent out your Christmas cards, how did you sign them?"
A wicked smile accompanied Scribbs' shrug. "With love, Emma and Kate."
"What!" Not only had she been given second billing, which she thought totally inappropriate considering her superiority of rank and age, but Scribbs' stupidity had lit the torch and started the bushfire that was the latest rumour surrounding their 'love life'. "So, this is all your fault?" She'd have to ring her parents, not to mention her Aunt Jean in Canada, and explain that 'No, she wasn't married to Scribbs, and that no, she had no plans to marry Scribbs', it was a nightmare.
"It's not my fault they jumped to the totally obvious conclusions." Half the time, Scribbs was under the impression she was married to Ash, too, and if it hadn't been for the separate beds, it would have taken an act of Parliament to convince her otherwise. "How was I supposed to know they weren't privy to your stupid 'no sex between partners' rule?"
"It's not a stupid rule!" Ash knew she was shouting but she was powerless to stop. "It's there to stop our relationship from becoming too personal and potentially ruining our effectiveness as a team."
"Ash, we live together, go on holiday together, bemoan our lack of a decent love life together, how much more personal do you think it can get?" Scribbs knew that, whether or not they ever had sex, she and Ash were as married as two people could be, with or without a silly little piece of paper making it legal. "Face it, we're married."
"We are not!" Yes, she loved Scribbs, and yes, she could even admit to being in love with Scribbs, at least to herself, but that didn't mean they were married. "Until there's a ring on this finger," she held up said finger, which was, indeed, bare, "we are not married. Is that understood?"
"What do you mean, no?" Ash had laid down the law, and as far as she was concerned, the law was final.
"Marriage isn't about rings or ceremonies; it's about love, and deciding you want to spend the rest of your life with someone." She hadn't planned on bringing up the love thing, because she knew how uncomfortable it made Ash, but there was simply no getting around it. "You're head over heels in love with me and don't try to deny it, because I know you, and besides, I'm crazy in love with you, too, so it all evens out." Scribbs took Ash's hand. "If you want to make it legal, we can, but we're already an old married couple, it just took you longer than anyone else to realise it."
Ash wanted to argue, she really did, but for once she was forced to admit that she'd been wrong, and however ludicrous it sounded, Scribbs had been right. "We're an old married couple," she said, as if testing the words to see if they would bite. "An old, sexless, married couple."
A leer transformed Scribbs' face and she quickly closed the remaining distance between them, her lips brushing Ash's in the first of an infinite number of kisses, "Not quite," she said, before taking Ash's ring-less hand and leading her into the bedroom.
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