DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
THANKS: To Ann for the beta.
Soggy Socks and Misunderstandings
A car door slammed, followed closely by the sound of hurried footsteps echoing through the night.
Light illuminated the dark-haired woman as she scrambled across the courtyard towards the entrance to the flats, the glare of the security lights transforming her into a ghostly apparition of determined agitation.
The air was once again cut by the slamming of a car door.
The communal door swung open lazily, despite Ash's insistent tug. She shouldered her way past. The light from within providing just enough illumination to discern the house key from the others on her key-ring. She jammed it into the lock and quickly barged her way inside.
Scribbs pulled off one of her trainers and threw it at the main door, preventing it from closing. She limped on, water soaking into her sock and earning a look of disgust in the process. With the subtlety of a rhino, she started to bang on Ash's door.
The door opened; the chain firmly attached.
"Go home, Scribbs."
Scribbs thrust her soggy foot into the opening. Ash looked at the dirt splattered appendage as if it might sprout teeth. She took a step back.
"Let me in."
Ash ignored the request.
"If you don't, I'm gonna do something drastic."
The warning was said with some assurance and left Ash in no doubt that Scribbs would indeed make good on her threat. The list of possibilities was too much for Ash to risk. She squeezed Scribbs' foot with the door, the indignant shriek bringing a smile to her face, before she released the chain.
"You could have broken my foot."
Scribbs hobbled inside.
"Well?" Ash tapped her foot. "I'm waiting."
"Give me a sec." Jumping around on one foot, Scribbs stripped her other free of its soggy shroud, while wracking her brain to think of exactly what she'd done wrong this time. "Have you got a towel?"
Ash glared. "Did you want something?"
"A towel?" Scribbs tried to look cute, but from the deepening scowl on Ash's face, she doubted her success. "I'm sorry, okay?"
The scowl was at risk of becoming permanent. "No, it's not okay."
The dirty water that Scribbs had allowed to accumulate on the floor was driving Ash to distraction, but she forced herself to refrain from going to the kitchen for cleaning supplies, afraid that Scribbs would use the opportunity to worm her way into the living room and safer territory.
"You don't break up with someone and expect it to be okay."
Scribbs' bare foot landed with a thud. "What?"
"I will not be trifled with." Ash looked around the hallway to see if there was anything she could put down to keep Scribbs from trailing muddy water throughout her flat. "You should go."
"I wasn't trifling." Scribbs took a step closer. "I just can't pretend I'm in love with someone when I'm not." A second step brought her to within inches of Ash. "I didn't realise it would upset you so much."
The nerve at the side of Ash's temple began to throb. "You didn't think I'd be upset?" Her eyes flickered to the muddy footprints littering her hallway. "Scribbs! Mud!"
"What? Oh, sorry." Scribbs lifted her foot. "I didn't think you liked Mark?"
"Mark." Gravity began to play havoc with Scribbs' balance, and she was forced to use Ash's shoulder for balance. "The bloke I dumped."
Ash's scowl wavered and was finally replaced by a look of confusion. "You broke up with a man called Mark?" Scribbs nodded. "You didn't break up with me?"
"No." Scribbs' foot dropped to the ground. "Hold on, how can I break up with you? We're not dating."
"We're not?" Ash forgot the footprints and dirty sock. "But we went to dinner."
"We go to dinner every week."
A blush made itself at home on Ash's cheeks. It was true, they did go out to dinner all the time, but there had been something about Scribbs' behaviour that had given Ash pause. Admittedly, the blonde hadn't tried to put a move on her or anything, but the coy smiles and casual touches had seemed far more than friendly. "I thought you were trying to romance me."
"At Gino's?" Scribbs look disgusted. "I'd never take someone as classy as you to Gino's, not for a date, at least." She thought for a second. "I always pictured us at that posh place out on Alton Park. You know, the one with the silver service and snooty waiters."
"They're not snooty." Ash's defence was half-hearted as she secretly loved the idea of being waited on by pretentious snobs in tailored uniforms. "Does this mean you've given some thought to us being... together?"
Scribbs smiled. "Some."
"And you'd really take me to La Boutiqua?"
"If that's what you want."
A smile graced Ash's face for the first time in hours. "It is." She moved into Scribbs' space. "But right now, I'd settle for a kiss."
Dirty socks and muddy footprints were well and truly forgotten as Scribbs fulfilled Ash's request and much, much more.
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