DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A very special thanks to Debbie, not only for correcting the usual typos and occasional grammar errors, but also for the help with the ’Britishisms.’
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Shelter from the Storm
Racing onto the roof of the building, Ash scanned the area, looking frantically for her partner. Spotting her superior instead, she quickly made her way to the DCI and asked, "Where's Scribbs?"
Completely missing the anguish in Ash's question, the man replied, "Oh, Ash. Glad you're here. We could use some help with the interviews. It seems we have more witnesses than we can handle."
Staring incredulously at her boss, the brunette slowly repeated her posed question. "Where . . . is . . . Scribbs?"
"Huh? Oh, Scribbs. She's fine Ash, a bit shaken, but fine. I ordered her home, and she said she was going to spend a couple of days with her parents," Sullivan stated, gesturing towards an older couple back down on the ground, anxiously glancing up to the rooftops. "Why don't you start with Mr. and Mrs. Wilburn? They stood on the pavement mere meters from where Mr. Sterling fell."
Without another word, Ash's superior turned and walked away, heading towards the stairwell Ash had just exited.
The brunette stood in the middle of the roof stunned. Surely, Sullivan didn't intend for her to stay and talk to witnesses; she needed to see Scribbs, she needed to see firsthand that she was truly okay. Instead, she sighed, took a long look around the rooftop, and then followed her boss at a slightly slower pace than on her arrival.
Back at ground level, she spotted Sullivan already talking to a rather large woman who seemed to be telling him quite the tale. After several seconds of indecision, the professional in Ash took over, and she made her way to the quietly waiting couple. Pulling her notebook from her pocket, she began to ask question after question of the Wilburns, hoping to garner some information about her partner in the process.
The couple's answers only served to make the brunette more concerned and, as she wrote line and line with her trusty pencil, her mind played out the scene being described.
"There was a ruckus on the rooftop, and we looked up just in time to see someone standing on the ledge. A young blonde woman was calmly talking to the man, trying to coax him from the edge. Oh, I tell you, my heart fair jumped in my throat when I watched her climb up beside him. That's when I yelled for someone to call the police," Mr. Wilburn informed, wiping his brow nervously.
Piping in, Mrs. Wilburn added, "And that's when the caretaker shouted back that the police had been called. Pointing up at the roof, he said the woman was a policewoman and that she'd been sent to try and talk the jumper down."
The interview became almost like a game of pinball as the husband and wife batted the story around, alternating the telling between the two. Ash's head swiveled back and forth as the couple finally arrived to the ending of their tale.
"The man moved precariously close to the corner of the building, and the blonde matched him inch for inch. I just knew they were both going over the edge," Mrs. Wilburn reported, placing her hand over her heart.
Nodding, her husband agreed, "I still don't know how she was able to keep from falling. When he stepped over the edge, she managed to dive forward and catch hold of his hand. The pair looked real odd, just like a see-saw, rocking to and fro on the edge. " Closing his eyes, he finished quietly, "The man's hand must've slipped because next thing I know, he's falling, and she's following close behind. Thankfully, she caught herself on the edge of the building and pulled herself back up."
With shaky hands, Ash closed her notebook and said brusquely, "I'll write up your report and give you a call to come down and sign it. Thank you both for your help." Turning on her heel, she headed directly for Sullivan.
"Boss," Ash interrupted the DCI's conversation with a young redhead, "I'm going to check on Scribbs. I'll type up the Wilburn's interview when I get back."
Not waiting for a reply, the brunette spun around and practically raced to the waiting squad car. Grabbing her cell-phone, she immediately called a well-known number.
Holding the receiver to her ear, Ash listened impatiently as the phone rang and rang until finally a panting voice answered, "Hello?"
Cringing, the brunette realized the elder Scribbins must've had to race to catch the ringing phone. Attempting to steady her voice, she asked, "Mrs. Scribbins? This is DI Kate Ashurst. Is Scribbs, er . . . I mean Emma available?"
"Emma? No, she's not here. Should she be?" The older woman asked, a tone of concern filtering into her voice.
"She's not?" Ash replied, surprised, suddenly realizing that Scribbs either hadn't arrived at her destination, or perhaps, she never intended to visit her parents.
"No. She's not due to visit until this weekend. Is something wrong?" Mrs. Scribbins questioned, the worry now clearly etched in her voice.
Thinking quickly, Ash replied, "No, I just needed to ask her a question. I must've misunderstood her the other day. I could've sworn she said she was visiting this week. I'm so sorry for bothering you. I'll just ring her flat."
The two women concluded their conversation with Ash assuring the older woman that everything was indeed okay with her daughter and, hanging up, the DI hoped that she hadn't just lied to her partner's mum.
Opting against a second phone call, Ash pulled from the kerb. Scribbs had to be holed up in her flat, and Ash needed to see her in person anyway. She'd never believe Scribbs on the phone; she had to see her partner's face to be certain that she was okay.
Scribbs was resting on her sofa when a soft knocking disturbed her peace. Sighing, she tried to ignore the noise. Immediately, a loud pounding caused Scribbs to groan under the safe haven of her pillow. Whoever it was didn't appear to be taking 'I'm not home, go away' for an answer, so the blonde slowly pulled herself from the sofa to deal with the irritant.
Swinging the door back, the blonde opened her mouth to tell her visitor to quit pounding on the surface and to go the hell away when she was swooped into a warm, but tight embrace. The hugger pushed her way into the flat and managed to close the door with a swing of her foot.
"Scribbs! You're really okay," the brunette mumbled over and over again, squeezing the blonde until their two bodies were practically melded together.
"Ash?" Scribbs asked, clearly shocked that her partner was being so demonstrative in her concern. Normally, the stoic DI would've just folded her arms over her chest and nervously asked if everything was alright.
Reluctantly releasing the blonde, Ash took her DS's hand and led her to the couch, further surprising Scribbs, but this time, the blonde was alert enough to enjoy the closeness the brunette was displaying.
The moment the two settled on the sofa, Ash seemed to be back to normal, except for the fact that she'd pulled a willing Scribbs into her arms and kissed the top of the blonde's head.
"Scribbs, don't ever pull a stunt like that again. Never, ever, are you to report to a scene unless you're accompanied by me. Someone has to make sure you're thinking rationally," Ash scolded; although, she made up for her harsh lecture by holding her partner gently.
Laying her head on the brunette's shoulder, the blonde replied, "Don't you worry, Ash. I won't ever try anything so stupid again."
With a slight hitch in her voice, she added in a whispered tone, "I've never been so scared in my life. You should've seen his eyes, Ash. He was pleading with me to hold on, and I tried, I truly did. But, he just . . . slipped. I couldn't hold on any longer."
Soft sobs and a vice-like grip had Ash pulling her partner onto her lap as she held her tightly, offering protection the only way she knew how. She slowly rocked the distraught blonde and continued to whisper words of comfort in her ear.
Soon, Scribbs had quieted; however, she still held onto the brunette, not willing to release her calm in the storm.
The couple sat quietly in each other's arms until the embarrassed blonde finally pulled away, saying, "I must be squashing you. Here, let me move over."
Ash just held on tightly, replying, "No, you're not. You're fine just where you are."
Relaxing back into her partner's body, Scribbs smiled into the brunette's neck and closed her eyes. Sheltered in Ash's arms, she couldn't think of anywhere else she'd rather be.
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