DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Oh no she isn't
By Angie


The car journey had been mostly silent. Scribbs tried to keep her attention on the road, but with Mount Ash sitting in the passenger seat, ready to erupt, it wasn't easy. The tension was more than Scribbs could stand and she felt the need to break it.

"So...a pantomime, eh?"

She glanced to the side, just in time to see Ash's lips harden.

"I don't want to talk about it."

She locked her eyes back on the road. Despite Ash's statement to the contrary, Scribbs knew all too well that she did want to talk about it and would talk about it in approximately…three…two…one…

"I mean, really, a bloody pantomime! I've heard of cruel and unusual but this just takes the biscuit. He could've assigned us desk duty, he could've made us bloody issue speeding tickets, but no. He knows how to dole out punishment, I'll give him that."

Scribbs shrugged half-heartedly.

"I don't actually think he meant it as a punishment…"

"Not a punishment? So he follows a bollocking with 'Oh and by the way, both of you are auditioning for the service's panto this afternoon' and that's just meant to be a coincidence is it?"

Scribbs thought it best not to answer that question. Especially since the bollocking in question had been almost entirely her fault.

"And why the hell I should be punished just because you thought it would be a good idea to enter a department store, via the plate-glass window, in a car is beyond me."

She'd been waiting for that to come up.

"There was a murder suspect in the perfume department," Scribbs protested.

"There was also a door, Scribbs."

And there really was no arguing with that. They continued to travel in silence.

"Fucking pretentious twat!"

Ash generally didn't use quite such choice language and a few heads turned in the corridor as they made their way to their office. Scribbs kept her head down, walking a few paces behind her partner.

"You'd think it was the Royal bloomin' Shakespeare Company. 'Motivation'. 'Feel the character. Be the character.' The whole thing was a farce!"

Scribbs had really quite enjoyed the audition process. They'd done some role-play, got to sing a little and generally had a skive off work for the afternoon. She wasn't complaining. Ash was complaining enough for both of them. Possibly because the director had been a little over-zealous in his direction of her. Which was her own fault for standing with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face.

"The only blessing is that there's no way we'll be cast in the thing. I think I made my feelings clear on the subject."

Ash dropped into her seat and sighed. Scribbs hung up her coat and scarf and sat down at her desk, wiggling her mouse to bring her screen up. One e-mail subject line immediately jumped out at her: Cast for Pantomime. She looked over at Ash. She was sitting with her head back and her eyes closed and obviously hadn't looked at her inbox yet. Scribbs clicked on the e-mail and scanned through the preamble until she came to the cast list. She couldn't help the grin that broke out on her face as she read the first line.

"What are you smiling at?"

Scribbs looked up, still grinning. Ash was regarding her curiously.

"Cast list has been announced."


"And I only got the bloody lead, didn't I?"


Ash was out of her seat and round behind Scribbs in an instant. There was no mistake, there it was in black and white: Cinderella: Emma Scribbins.

"And you're happy about this?"

"Oh come on, Ash. It's Christmas, it's for underprivileged kids…when did you turn into such a Scrooge?"

Ash shook her head.

"Well then, congratulations, I suppose."

"Thank you."

"Who else is in it?"

Scribbs scrolled down a little. Her mouth dropped open. She turned to see that Ash was wearing a similar expression.

Prince Charming: Kate Ashurst

"Well…that's obviously a mistake," Ash said, matter-of-factly.

"Why is it a mistake?"

"Because that's a bloke's part."

"No. In a pantomime, the principal boy is always played by a woman."

"What? That's ludicrous!"

"Didn't you ever go to the panto when you were little?"

Ash was still looking at the screen like it might suddenly change.

"No. We always went to the ballet. The Nutcracker."

"You poor thing!"

"No, I liked it. And there was no cross-dressing involved. So you think this is right?"

Scribbs shrugged.

"I reckon so."

"Why did they cast me as the bloke and you as the woman?"


"D'you think they think I'm butch?"

"You're not butch, Ash."

"Then why am I the bloke?"

"It's always a pretty girl that they cast as the bloke, not someone who actually looks like a bloke."

Ash was pouting.

"Your hair's shorter than mine."

But Scribbs had just realised something far more important than degrees of femininity.



"You realise that you're playing my boyfriend, don't you?"

Ash's eyes went wide and it was very clear that she hadn't in fact realised this.

"Jesus Christ!"

"I know."

Scribbs was suddenly both thrilled and terrified in equal measures. Ash just looked horrified. Scribbs turned back to the screen to hide the blush that had risen in her cheeks. She scrolled further down.

"Oh my God, look who's playing the dame…"

Ash looked at the name, a wicked smile spreading over her lips.

"Sullivan in drag? Now that's almost worth playing a bloke for."

"I'm going to swing for him, I swear."

Scribbs suppressed a grin at the venom in Ash's voice. She decided to play dumb, it was always fun to watch Ash get worked up.

"Swing for who?"

"Bloody Spielberg! Who else?"

They sat down with their lunch trays in the bustling canteen. Ash ripped the paper napkin off her cutlery with gusto. Scribbs was still fighting a smile.

"Oh come on, he's not that bad."

In truth, Bill, the director, only seemed to be a tyrant with Ash. Always demanding more of her, always giving her notes. Ash had been admirably restrained in her dealings with him. Apart from one minor meltdown when he'd attempted to offer advice to her for the umpteenth time on how she should be looking at Scribbs.

"Look at Emma like she is the most alluring woman in the world. You are captivated by her, enchanted by her, enthr-"

Ash had lost it slightly.

"I get it, OK? Pretend I fancy her! I bloody fancy the knickers off her and I want her in my bed immediately if not sooner. That about right, is it?"

That had been a conversation stopper. For being slightly uptight and posh, Ash certainly knew how to make a spectacle of herself at times. That had been the previous day and Bill had backed off slightly. But that morning he'd been right back on her case and it was getting to her.

"Not that bad? Not that bad? Scribbs, the man is a nightmare! He's controlling, bossy, a drama-queen…"

Scribbs chose to shove a chip in her mouth to prevent herself from pointing out that all of those terms could also be applied to Ash. Which was perhaps why Scribbs liked the Director.

"…and he obviously has a very small penis!" Ash finished with relish.

Scribbs choked on her chip. That last one probably didn't apply quite so much as Ash. She took a drink of water to force the offending bit of food down. Ash just raised an eyebrow. Scribbs wiped her watering eyes and shrugged.

"Probably. Anyway, dress rehearsal this afternoon…you looking forward to trying on your costume?"

Ash rolled her eyes.

"Yeah, I'm thrilled that I get to dress up like a man while you get to parade around in a big, twirly dress and look gorgeous."

Scribbs thought she saw Ash colour slightly, but it might just have been the heat from her chilli con carne. Ash hurriedly carried on.

"Anyway, I'm more interested in seeing the boss all tarted up in his finery."

Scribbs laughed at the thought.

"Yeah, I'm just worried he's gonna have better cleavage than me!" she joked.

A soft smile crept across Ash's lips. She tilted her head to the side and shook her head.

"I seriously doubt that, Scribbs."

"That's it!!!"

The shriek shattered the moment and caused both Ash and Scribbs to look up to see Bill barrelling towards them. He slid to a halt and took both of Ash's hands, bending down to look into her eyes.

"That's how I need you to look at her, exactly like you were doing right there…whatever it was you were thinking about just then, keep that thought, cherish it…use it!"

He whipped his head around to look at Scribbs.

"What were you talking about?"

Scribbs was caught completely unawares or she might have had time to think about the next words to come out of her mouth.

"Uh…my boobs?"

Bill seemed unperturbed by this and turned back to Ash.

"Right, next time we're doing the ballroom scene, you think about her boobs, got it?"

Then he bent down and pressed a kiss to Ash's cheek before turning and leaving. Ash looked to be in a daze. Scribbs was cringing in her seat. Ash didn't look at her as she spoke.

"I cannot believe you just said that."

"I know, he…he…caught me off guard. I didn't think. I should've said Sullivan or something shouldn't I?"

"Now he thinks that I'm obsessed with your boobs."

"Which you're clearly not."


"So it's fine."


"Right everyone, back to it, costumes please! Get your glad-rags on, you shall go to the ball."

Ash closed her eyes.


Scribbs had been looking at herself in the mirror for a good five minutes. She looked like a princess. She'd always loved going to the pantomime as a little girl and seeing the sparkly dresses and the elaborate hair-do's. And now she was living it. As she had gotten older, the panto held other enticements. She was fourteen when she realised that she fancied the principal boy. She raised an eyebrow at herself in the mirror, some things never changed then.

She was jerked out of her reverie by an intrusive yell.

"Emma, we need you onstage. Now!"

She sighed, did one last twirl, and headed out to the stage. Ash was standing tapping her foot. She was wearing a thick, towelling dressing gown. She turned around to face Scribbs and froze. Her eyes roamed down Scribbs' body and back up again. On reflex Scribbs looked down to see if she'd spilt something or left something unzipped. But everything appeared to be in order. She looked back up at Ash, who still looked gob-smacked.


Ash shook her head.

"You look beautiful."


Bill's voice broke in and for the first time Scribbs could see exactly how annoying he was because he made Ash look away from her.


"Disrobe, please."

Ash sighed and undid the belt of the dressing gown and slipped it off her shoulders. Scribbs did her utmost not to swoon. Ash was wearing knee high leather boots over deep blue tights. Her tunic was very short and clingy and Scribbs felt like she was fourteen all over again.

"I usually get dinner and champagne before men get me to take my clothes off, Bill." Ash snarked, folding her arms across her chest.

"You're lucky, love, couple of voddies and a packet of nuts is all I get." Bill replied without missing a beat. He clapped his hands twice. "Places for the ballroom scene, please."

Perhaps it was the music, or the lights, or the dress but for some reason when Ash took her into her arms this time it felt different. It felt right. Ash looked at her properly and everything. She didn't step on Ash's toes and Ash held her tightly, commandingly.

And as they looked into each others' eyes, Scribbs was sure that she saw something reflected in Ash's face. They leaned in closer, closer, their faces inches apart.


And the bloody clock struck midnight. The spell was broken and Ash pulled away abruptly. She averted her eyes and stepped back.

"I…I'm sorry…I have to go."

And with that Ash ran off-stage, leaving Scribbs in a state of shock. Along with Bill and the rest of the cast.

"Kate? Kate! It's Cinderella who runs out at midnight not the buggering Prince. Has she bloody read the script? This is the last time I work with amateurs. Right, we might as well pack it in for the day. Last rehearsal tomorrow. Let's try not to lose anyone during it, OK. I need a bloody drink."

Scribbs stood alone on the stage, wondering what the hell had happened.

"Penny for them?"

She turned around and couldn't help but smile.

"Not worth a penny, boss."

He came to stand beside her, bumping her with his hip. His enormous crinoline almost sent her sprawling.

"D'you want to tell the Widow Twanky about it?"

"You're not the Widow Twanky, boss, you're my wicked stepmother. And I can't talk to you when you're dressed like that."

"OK then, how about we both get changed into our civvies, we'll go and get a drink and you can tell me about it then."

"Tell you about what?"

"About what's going on between you and Kate."

"There's nothing goi-"

"Scribbs, I didn't get to be a DCI because of my good looks you know. I'm not blind."

It probably wasn't the best plan in the world. But it was better than going home alone and eating the huge bar of Galaxy that she'd wrapped up to give to her Uncle Peter for Christmas. One quick change later and Scribbs was sitting waiting for Sullivan to come back from the bar. She was looking at his back and trying to decide whether seeing him in jeans and a t-shirt was more or less disturbing than seeing him in women's clothing.

He came and sat down, handing Scribbs a double vodka and taking a swig from his bottle of beer.


Scribbs raised an eyebrow.



Scribbs took a long gulp from her drink.

"What about her?"

"Why haven't you made a move?"

"Boss, I don't think I'm drunk enough to talk to you about this. And when I am drunk enough I'll be unconscious."

"Alright, but let me just say this…while we're on the subject of drunken conversations…I had a very interesting one with Ash at last year's Christmas party."

Scribbs cringed. Last year's Christmas party had involved an embarrassing incident with a DS from vice. She tried to think about it as little as possible.


"Yes, very interesting indeed."

Last year's Christmas Party

"Having a good time, Ash?"

Ash was staring miserably at the dancefloor where Scribbs was dancing sexily with a very unattractive man. He had his hands on her arse and she was running hers through what was left of his hair.

"No, I'm not, boss, thanks for asking."


She swivelled in her seat to face him.

"Boss, there's something that I need to tell you. I've been needing to tell you this for a long time but I haven't had the bottle."

Suddenly, Sullivan was wishing that he had never approached the depressed looking woman. She'd definitely had the bottle. Maybe a couple of bottles by the look of her. He tried to nip it in the bud.

"Look, Kate, perhaps tonight isn't the best time to…"

"No, this is as good a time as any. You've probably noticed that I've been acting funny around you for a while now."

"Well, I…"

"And I really need to tell you why."

"Ash, you don't have to…"

"I don't fancy you."

"Listen, Kate, you…what?"

"I don't fancy you. I've been pretending to fancy you."

"Pretending to…"

"To stop people suspecting."


"Who I really fancy."

"Who do you really fancy?"




"She did not tell you that."

"She did."

"Last Christmas?"


"Fucking hell! Sorry, boss."

"It's quite alright, Scribbs. I had suspected that you felt the same so I had assumed that something would eventually happen between the two of you. But it hasn't so I thought that I'd better do something."

"Since when do you play Cupid, boss?"

He smiled enigmatically.

"Only when required, Scribbs."

She smiled back at him and sipped her drink. Maybe this Christmas she'd get what she really wanted. And hopefully not from an overweight man in a red suit. Or Santa.

The following day, Scribbs arrived at rehearsals with a spring in her step. Ash was already there, standing on her own, drinking coffee from a Styrofoam cup and making disgusted expressions at every sip. Scribbs headed over.


Ash turned, but didn't smile.

"Morning. Listen, Scribbs, about yesterday…"

Scribbs held up a hand.

"It's fine Ash."

"No, but…"

"But nothing. I'm sure you had your reasons. I did have quite a job convincing this lot that you weren't pulling a diva strop though."

She got a half smile for that one. Then Ash closed her eyes and sighed.

"I'll be glad to get back to normality after this is all over."

Scribbs shrugged.

"Yeah, it's quite considerate of the residents of Middleford to hold off on murdering each other while we're in rehearsals, isn't it?"

An actual chuckle! Scribbs decided to continue.

"They'll be waiting 'til Christmas day. I'll bet there's a bloke out there who's got his missus an ironing board for Christmas who'll end up with a carving knife sticking out of his chest. And it'll be me and you who miss out on our Christmas dinner having to deal with it, I tell you Ash, we don't get paid enough for this. Well, maybe you do."

Ash shot her a sidelong glance.

"Watch it."

"Yes, ma'am."

As usual, Bill decided to interrupt.

"OK, away you go, my little chickadees, into your clobber, we're going for a complete run-through this morning. And if it's as bad as it has been, I'm going to go up into the rafters and kill myself. OK everyone? Now run along."

Ash leaned close to Scribbs as they made their way to the dressing rooms.

"Now there's an incentive, if ever I heard one."

Scribbs grinned.

In spite of Ash's best efforts to drive Bill to suicide, the rehearsal went like a dream. The jokes worked perfectly, no-one fluffed their lines, the dance sequence was beautiful. Now they were heading into the big climax. The trying on of the glass slipper.

Scribbs watched from the wings as the two guys playing the ugly sisters tried to get their huge, hairy feet into the dainty shoe Ash was holding. Her heart was in her mouth as she heard her cue.

"And have you no more young ladies in the household, madam?"

Scribbs walked onto the stage, holding an armful of firewood. Upon seeing 'The Prince', she dropped it and placed a hand over her heart.

Ash approached her.

"Pardon me, I was led to believe there were no other ladies in the house."

Scribbs dipped her head in reverence.

"I have vowed to find the young lady who left this slipper behind in her hurry as she left the royal ball. And when I do, I shall make her my wife."

Ash took Scribbs' hand into hers.

"Will you try it on?"

Scribbs looked up, into Ash's eyes, and nodded. She sat down on a chair and extended her foot towards Ash. Ash easily slipped the glass shoe onto it. Exaggerated gasps came from all around them.

"Why, it fits!" Ash exclaimed, taking both of Scribbs' hands and pulling her to her feet.

They stood, gazing into each others' eyes. Ash's eyes strayed to Scribbs' lips for a second before she uttered her next line.

"So, it was you."

Scribbs smiled.

"Yes, it was me all along."

And then, instead of the usual chaste kiss they had rehearsed, Scribbs leaned in and claimed Ash's lips. Ash opened her mouth in surprise and Scribbs deepened the kiss. Ash's hand came up to the back of Scribbs' head, the other arm pulling her tightly against her. Scribbs was completely lost in the sensation of kissing Ash and being kissed back and it was only the realisation that everyone else in the room was cheering and applauding that brought them back down to earth.

They parted, Scribbs turning her face into Ash's neck, embarrassed by the reaction. Bill approached the stage, still applauding.

"Well, thank fuck for that! I thought you two were never going to get your arses into gear."

Scribbs' head snapped up and she was amazed to see that everyone seemed to be nodding in agreement with Bill. She sneaked a look at Ash, only to find that she was looking back at her. They both smiled shyly. Bill had made it to the stage.

"Thank you, one and all, I think we might actually not traumatise the poor little kiddiewinks tomorrow afternoon after all. Good work everyone, off you go."

He turned to Ash and Scribbs.

"Wonderful, wonderful darlings, couldn't ask for more. Just do that tomorrow afternoon and I'll offer to be your sperm donor when the time comes."

He threw an arm around Ash's shoulders and winked at Scribbs.

"I just knew between the two of us we'd make a thespian out of this one sooner or later!"

Scribbs burst out laughing at the expression on Ash's face as Bill planted a kiss on her cheek and wandered off, still clapping randomly.

Scribbs looked at Ash.


"You just kissed me in front of a room full of people."


"And now I'd like to take you home and continue with the kissing, without the other people."

"I'm sure that can be arranged."

"I'm glad to hear it."

Ash grabbed Scribbs and kissed her, hard, leaving her slightly breathless.

"God, Ash, good girls don't kiss like that!"

The side of Ash's mouth turned up in a smile as she leaned back in.

"Oh yes they fucking do."

The End

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