DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Part of the ‘One cliché, Many Fandoms’ series.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Sleepless in Middleford
Detective Inspector Kate Ashurst felt her eyes grow heavy, and she abruptly sat up, startling her partner. "You all right, Ash?"
"Well, you don't look fine."
"Thank you very much for pointing that out."
"Sorry, I just mean you look absolutely knackered. How long's it been since you had a proper sleep?"
"I don't know," Ash sighed, wearily, and rested her head in her hand, her eyes drooping again.
"Look, why don't you pop into the backseat and try to get some rest?"
Ash jerked herself upright again. "I can't. How would it look for the superior officer to be napping in the backseat during a stakeout?"
Scribbs sighed, but didn't argue. "Do you want me to get you some more coffee, then?"
Ash made a face. "I've had enough coffee in the last week to burn a hole through several internal organs."
"Ok, then." Scribbs brought the binoculars back to her eyes and watched the door of the club while Ash tried to stifle a huge yawn. Minutes later, her eyes drooped shut for the last time.
For the first time in ages, Ash woke feeling rested and refreshed, although confused about the heavy, warm object wrapped around her shoulders. Raising her head, she found herself gazing into a pair of amused hazel eyes and realized that it was Scribbs' arm wrapped securely around her shoulders and further, that she had been cuddled up with her DS, in that arms-around-the-waist, head-on-the-shoulder way that was popular in old black and whites. For a second, Ash just rested there, surprised at how comfortable it felt, even though she knew she should be scandalized to be in such a position.
"Morning, sleepyhead," Scribbs teased, "did you sleep well?"
Ash slowly straightened and stretched her back and neck. "Yes, actually, I did."
"No nightmares, then?"
"Nary a one." Ash looked around; they were still outside the club, but it was dark. "What's happening?"
"Nothing. I'm beginning to think he's on to us." Scribbs noticed Ash's increasingly worried expression, and said, "You were only asleep for about an hour."
"And how did I get, um ?"
"Wrapped around me like a drunk slapper?" Ash's eyes narrowed at the characterization, and she looked like she was about to lecture, so Scribbs relented and explained, "You kinda slid down the seat and your head came to rest on my shoulder. Next thing I knew, you were all over me." Ash blushed. "I put my arm up and around because I didn't want you to get a crick in your neck."
"Thanks. I can't believe I did that."
Scribbs thought for a minute. "Maybe it was your subconscious." At Ash's puzzled look, she continued, "You know, fulfilling an unconscious need for human contact or something. I was reading this article "
"Scribbs." Ash pointed out the window. "I think that's our guy."
Scribbs woke to a pounding, and for once it wasn't one behind her eyes from too much drink. Groaning, she rolled over and glared at the clock, the red numbers swimming in front of her eyes. Who might be pounding on her door at 2 AM was not even a question in her mind as she stumbled through her flat and flung open the door. "Can't this wait til morning?" she asked the brunette on her stoop.
"About that article ."
"Oh, the one you called absolute rubbish earlier this evening? What about it?" Scribbs asked sleepily, leaning against the edge of the door and rubbing her eyes. She finally took in her partner, in her pajamas and dressing gown, dark circles under her eyes, fidgeting on her doormat. "Nightmares?"
Ash nodded. "I don't even remember them, but it seems like every time I close my eyes, I wake up a few minutes later in a panic."
Scribbs reached out and took Ash's hand, drawing her in and through the living room. She felt Ash start to pull away as she led her into the bedroom. "Come on." Scribbs walked around to the right side of the bed and got in. "And don't worry, I changed the sheets before I went to bed." Ash gave her speculative look but said nothing; she just set her cellphone on the bedside table and dropped her dressing gown at the foot of the bed. Feeling Ash settle onto the bed, Scribbs rolled over and slid an arm around her waist.
Ash stiffened immediately. "Scribbs, what are my rules about sharing a bed?"
"No stray limbs, I know, but you weren't abiding by your rules in the car today, now, were you? Besides, if that article is correct, this is what you need. Now sleep, Ash." And so she did.
Ash woke just before dawn, once again feeling rested, but she was missing the heavy weight of Scribbs draped across her. Rolling over, she was relieved to find Scribbs still in bed with her, and she wasted no time in snuggling up against the other woman, her eyes closing as soon as she was comfortable again.
"Scribbins," Scribbs said to a dead line, before poking Ash to wake her. "Ash, your phone."
A second later came Ash's sleep-slurred voice: "Ashurst."
"Sorry, did I wake you?"
"No, I mean, yes, but it's okay. I should be up. What can I do for you, boss?"
"We've got some new evidence in your murder investigation. I think you might want to re-interview your suspect again."
"Right. I'll call Scribbs "
"No need. I've " A ring sounded on the other side of the bed, and Ash reached around to try to grab Scribbs' arm to keep her from answering her phone, " asked someone to ring her."
"Scribbins." Scribbs' voice sounded incredibly loud in the room and Ash winced at the silence on the other end of her phone. Scribbs laughed at something the other person said before replying, "We'll be in shortly. Have the coffee made."
"Is that ?" Sullivan began, his tone subdued. He hurriedly cleared his throat to forestall any response. "Right, then. See you at the station," he said briskly before hanging up the phone.
Ash turned to stare at her partner in horror.
"What?" asked the oblivious Scribbs.
"He's doing it again."
Scribbs looked up from her computer. "Who's doing what?"
"Sullivan. He's smiling at us again." Scribbs tried hard to connect the dots between her boss smiling and the acid tone in her partner's voice, but came up with nothing. Ash, seeing the look of confusion, explained, "He thinks we're a couple, and he keeps smiling in order to let us know he's okay with it."
Scribbs glanced at the offending boss in question and gave a fond smile, much to Ash's consternation. "Don't encourage him."
"What, it's sweet."
"It's patronizing, is what it is."
"Yes, patronizing. We don't need his approval for life choices we might make."
"Um, Ash, we haven't made any life choices."
"Well, he doesn't know that." Ash sighed and tried one last time to explain. "It's the principle of the thing. If we were to become lesbians, then him showing his approval just makes it all about himthe managain, and not about us."
The attempt to follow Ash's logic was making Scribbs' head hurt, so she just shook her head and returned to her work on the computer as Ash plastered a bright, fake smile across her face and finger-waved at their boss, passing by the window. "Bloody men," she said as soon as he was out of earshot.
That night, when Ash showed up at her door, Scribbs simply ushered her into bed without comment. After all, they had already gone over the revised bed-sharing rules earlier in the afternoon, which included striking the 'no stray limbs' rule and adding a 'only one phone call at a time' rule.
"Now they are all doing it," complained Ash as she glared at their colleagues passing by in the hallways.
"Ash, you are imagining things," Scribbs told her as she hung their coats up.
"Sullivan must have mentioned it to someone, and now it's all over the station," Ash mused, ignoring her partner completely except to hand her a cup of coffee, fixed to Scribbs' specifications exactly. "I mean, look at them."
Scribbs watched a few of their colleagues passing by, but saw nothing in their behavior that suggested they were secretly watching or trying to show unwanted, male-oriented approval, but her attempts to be reasonable with her partner were failing miserably, so she decided to try another tact.
"You don't suppose they are planning something, do you? Like a surprise 'coming out' party?"
Ash's eyes were wide in horror. "Or worse, one of those girl-girl bridal showers."
Scribbs stared across their shared desks at her partner in disbelief. "So we're getting married now?"
"Well, of course. I mean, if we were in a relationship and if it were seriousand it would be serious, since I doubt we would jeopardize our working relationship or our careers on a flingof course, the subject would come up." Seeing Scribbs with her eyes closed, fingers rubbing her temples, Ash endeavored to explain, "it is legal, now, you know."
Later, outside in the car park, neither Scribbs nor Ash noticed the many sets of eyes and ears on them as they argued.
"It'll save time," Scribbs insisted. "Look, I've packed a bag." Ash folded her arms across her chest. "This way, we can go to your place, you can cook dinner for me, we can watch a movie on the telly, and it'll save you from making the trek across town in the middle of the night."
"Who says I'll be trekking across town in the middle of the night?"
"You've ended up in my bed the last two nights," Scribbs pointed out. "Besides," she added, giving her partner what some have called her puppy-dog eyes, "I haven't had a decent meal all week." When Ash looked like she wasn't going to relent, Scribbs pouted, "And I'm tired of getting up in the middle of the night to let you in."
"Oh, all right." Ash sighed as she gave in, took the bag from Scribbs, and handed her the keys.
Scribbs found herself giving some credence to Ash's suspicions the next day, as conversations broke off and rooms quieted whenever she walked in. Ash, after her third night of nightmare-free sleep, was in a rather good mood until, halfway through the morning, she glanced up from the statement she was reading and found the walls practically lined with colleagues.
Standing, Ash strode over to where Scribbs was leaning against the desk and staring at crime scene photos. "Your attention, everyone, if you please." When one guy didn't look up from his desk quickly enough, she snapped her fingers to get his attention. "Trust me, you don't want to miss this."
Scribbs, for her part, watched, puzzled, as Ash stepped up, wrapped an arm around her waist to pull them closer and kissed her, soundly and with tongue. A cup clattered over somewhere in the silence of the room, but otherwise all eyes were on the DI kissing her DS in the center of the bullpen.
Ash released her hold and spun around to face the crowd, while Scribbs fell back against the desk, stunned. "Now you've just seen 'the lesbians' snogging, which was, I believe, what you were expecting. Are there any questions or can we all go back to work now?" Silence met her question, so Ash pulled at her shirt to straighten it, took in the shocked faces of her colleagues, and headed back to her chair, saying, simply, "All right, then."
As the whole of the station herded out of the squad room at a near run, Scribbs turned on still-shaky legs and said, "Just one problem, Ash." Her partner met her eyes over the computer monitor calmly and cocked an eyebrow expectantly. "We're not lesbians."
Scribbs barely got the door open before Ash was past her, striding through the apartment, "Look, Scribbs, I've been thinking "
"You know, after all the cuddling and the sleeping together and the kiss "
"I think that I just might " She stopped abruptly to face the third person in the room. "Who are you?"
"I'm " "He's my date."
"A date?" Ash was taken aback, and she swung back to face Scribbs. "You have a date?"
"Yes, I have a date. I "
"You're cheating on me?" Scribbs shook her head at her date helplessly as Ash continued, "I can't believe you!"
Scribbs' date looked between the two women with a puzzled expression on his face. "Maybe I should go "
His puzzled look turned to fear as he met Ash's glare. Making up his mind quickly, he said to Scribbs, "I'll see you around, I guess."
The sound of the slamming door followed his abrupt departure and an incredulous Scribbs faced her obviously insane partner. "What are you doing?"
"What am I doing? What are you doing? A date?" Scribbs could find no words to explain the inexplicable, but luckily, Ash didn't give her much time to formulate a response. "What about us, Scribbs?"
"There is no us! We," she waved her hand between the two of them as she yelled, "are not in a relationship. We are not getting married. WE are not lesbians." This last was yelled loud enough that it even seemed to penetrate her addled partner's brain.
Her relief at finally getting through to Ash was short-lived, however. Ash gazed at her for a moment in frank contemplation before beginning her advance, a determined look in her eyes. Scribbs could only retreat two steps before hitting the wall behind her, watching, wide-eyed, as Ash closed the distance between them.
Heart pounding, Scribbs' eyes closed as Ash's fingers traced her spine and tangled in her hair, and she shivered involuntarily as Ash's lips brushed hers lightly. Ash's hand on her neck guided her head back as the kiss deepened and Ash's teeth nibbled at her lower lip. Pulling back, Ash grinned at the slightly glazed expression in Scribbs' eyes. "You sure about that, are you?"
It took Scribbs a moment to track back to their conversation from a few moments before and she replied, "Well, we're not getting married." Ash lowered her head for yet another blazing kiss before nipping her way down Scribbs' neck. Sliding her hand under the silky dark hair to hold Ash's head there, she amended her statement. "At least, we're not going to discuss it for several months."
"Um " There was a pause on the other end, and the sound of a throat clearing. "Scribbs? Um, this is Ash's phone."
Rolling over, Scribbs elbowed the exhausted woman beside her. "Kate." A disgusted groan met her movement as she tried to hand the phone. "Phone for you."
"What?" Ash growled into the phone. Breaking into Sullivan's recitation of new evidence, she said, "Sorry, boss, we're going to be in late today." There was a pause before she explained, "We got engaged last night." A few seconds later she hung up the phone and set it on the bedside table.
"What'd he say?"
"I think he dropped the phone." Ash shrugged as she wrapped an arm and a leg around a very naked DS Scribbins and snuggled into her back before drifting off to sleep again.
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