DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Special thanks to Rachel for the sarnie and tea, but especially for the vote of confidence.
CHALLENGE: Written as part of the 1001 Nights Challenge - antipathy and rules.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Tea and Antipathy with a Splash of Rules
Watching from the window of the station as her partner said her good-byes to a dashing young man, Ash seethed quietly. Just two days prior, Scribbs had sworn off men, stating that she'd be better off with a woman, and Ash had hoped that this time the blonde had truly meant what she'd said.
Now, the DI could only stare in disappointment as her partner gave the redheaded man a quick kiss on the lips; the brunette's hatred towards the kiss' recipient evident in her glare. Personally, save for his budding relationship with her partner, she had nothing against the man, but professionally, she planned to find out his name and make his life a living hell.
Stepping away from the window, Ash quickly headed back to her desk. It certainly wouldn't do for Scribbs to discover that she'd been spying on her. Besides, what better way to find out if the blonde would come clean than if she'd had no idea that the brunette was already aware of the circumstances of her return?
"Sorry, I'm late, Ash. I got caught up in traffic," Scribbs explained, walking briskly to her desk.
Making a point to glance at her watch, Ash replied, "Oh, really. I hadn't noticed. I've been working on a few reports and lost track of time."
Handing over a file for her partner to look through, the brunette asked casually, "Did you have time to get a bite to eat after you ran your errand?"
"Huh?" Scribbs replied, thumbing through the papers and wondering what she was supposed to be looking for.
"Lunch? Were you able to eat lunch?"
"Oh, yeah. I stopped off at the sandwich shop and had a tuna and mayonnaise sarnie."
Grimacing at the thought of tuna, Ash couldn't imagine how anyone could eat something that smelled so, well, fishy. On the other hand, the idea of kissing Scribbs had her considering the notion, deciding that one taste of the blonde's lips would be worth risking the dreaded tuna flavor.
"How about you? Did you get something?" Scribbs asked, pulling the DI from her thoughts of what it would be like to cast aside her dislike of fish in order to plant one on her partner.
"Oh, um, no. I've been slaving over these files. Boss said we had to have our paperwork completed by the end of the week. I thought I'd get a head start," Ash supplied, gesturing towards the stack of files sitting on the edge of her desk.
Nodding, Scribbs replied, "Okay. Well, why don't you run out and get a quick bite? I'll stay here and try to make some headway on the files."
Warring between eating alone or staying behind and working side by side with her partner, Ash opened her mouth to decline when her stomach suddenly betrayed her by growling rather loudly.
Laughing, Scribbs insisted, "Go on, Ash. We'll never get any work done until you feed that monster. I'll be here when you get back."
The brunette frowned and walked towards the door, looking back over her shoulder to see Scribbs already pouring over one of the files. Ash was through the doors of the station before she realized that she hadn't asked about the redheaded man.
Upon her return, Ash was shocked to find the object of her aversion sitting on the edge of her desk and flirting shamelessly with her partner. Scowling, she made her way across the room.
"Oh hey, Ash. Steven was just asking about you. He wanted to know if we'd like to join him for tea," Scribbs asked when she caught sight of her partner's approach.
Wondering briefly just how tea would mix with antipathy, the brunette declined sharply, "No, thank you. I've just eaten. Besides, I need to get back to our paperwork." Hesitating, Ash decided to play the superior card, suggesting, "You should as well, Scribbs."
"She's right, Steven. I've been neglecting my paperwork. Maybe some other time?"
The redhead opened his mouth to respond, and Ash almost shouted with joy. She had no idea what the man was saying because she was too focused on the way he was saying it and, judging from his voice inflection and the flitting of his hand as he spoke, she'd surmised that she no longer had to worry about this man's interest in her partner.
Steven smiled at Ash as he walked to the door, and the brunette waved back to the redhead, the intense feeling of hatred had drastically shifted since the moment she'd first laid eyes on him earlier.
"He's a nice guy," Ash offered, beaming at her partner.
Scribbs glanced up at the brunette, noting her earlier gloomy mood had suddenly lightened. Ash was practically gleaming at her, and the blonde immediately put her detective skills to use, mentally replaying the last several minutes.
"Ash? What do you think of Steven?"
"He's a nice enough chap; well dressed, good manners, sharp dresser. I'd imagine he'd have wonderful decorator sense, too. Much better than the last few blokes you've dated," the brunette supplied, moving to take a seat at her desk.
"Dated? I'm not dating, Steven. In case you hadn't noted, Ash, he's gay."
Glancing up from her computer, the DI feigned shock. "Really? I'd have never guessed."
The timbre of the brunette's voice coupled with her nervous fidgeting had Scribbs doubting her partner's sincerity. The animosity Ash had projected when she'd first entered the room and found Steven sitting on her desk seemed to deflate before her very eyes when the redheaded man had voiced his disappointment at not being able to enjoy the company of such two lovely ladies over tea. In fact, the scowl on Ash's face had immediately turned into a rather goofy looking grin.
And now that she thought about it, Ash hadn't said a word about Steven sitting on her desk. In the past her partner had been quite emphatic that no one was to ever sit on her desk. Testing her theory, the blonde rose and moved to the desk in question. Perching herself on the edge, she waited for the brunette to launch into one of her many rules.
Ash's eye immediately began to twitch when she noted the DS firmly ensconced on her desk. Torn between reading her partner the riot act and enjoying the nearness of the blonde, Ash began to noticeably squirm, and Ash rarely squirmed; however, the brunette quickly made the snap decision that perhaps this particular rule was meant to be broken.
Handing her partner another file, the DI smiled and said, "Here Scribbs. See if you can make heads or tails out of this one."
Grinning, the blonde took the offered file and suggested, "Ash? Why don't we take these over to my place?" Scribbs gestured to the stack of files, continuing, "The boss is gone for the day, and our shift is almost over. It'll be much easier to scan through them over a glass of wine, don't you think?"
The gauntlet had officially been thrown down; violations of rules number one and two were laid out for the brunette to either accept or defend. The choice would be the crowning moment, the moment the blonde knew for certain if her theory held water.
The eye twitch turned into a full-blown case of rapid blinking, and Scribbs waited patiently for her partner's response. Her money was on Ash's infamous rules; they always took top priority, and judging from the DI's changing facial expression, she'd say that her response was coming in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, . . .
"What are you suggesting?" Ash blurted right on cue, although, it wasn't quite the response her partner was expecting.
"You, me, the files, and a bottle of wine. It would be like working overtime, technically."
Ash stared at her partner, her pearly-white teeth worrying at her lower lip, and Scribbs could hardly believe the brunette was contemplating her suggestion.
The DI glanced at the wall clock and replied softly, "How about if we work here for another hour until we're officially off duty, and then go get that glass of wine?"
Scribbs smiled. She knew Ash wouldn't ditch work, and there was no way the brunette would ever touch a drop of liquor while on duty, unless of course, duty called for her to imbibe. The blonde had to admit though, her partner hadn't gone into a rant about her rules; she'd just calmly enforced them while still showing an interest in Scribbs' plan.
Sliding off the desk, the DS reached for a file and moved back to her chair.
Taking her partner's silence as a no, Ash closed her eyes and sighed. Grabbing a file of her own, the brunette tried to hide her disappointment by focusing on the report. She'd taken a risk and was shot down but, at least, she hadn't come right out and asked her partner out; that would've been the ultimate humiliation.
The two women sat side by side, not saying a word, as they continued to peruse the different files; one watching the clock in quiet sorrow, and the other watching in silent anticipation. At the end of the hour, the blonde stood and grabbed her jacket off the back of her chair, but the brunette remained seated, determined to continue working until she was certain that Scribbs had left the building.
"Have a nice evening, Ash," Scribbs offered, walking towards the door, and the DI could only mutter a 'you, too' before the blonde was gone from view. Waiting a beat or two, Ash rose from her chair and headed towards the window overlooking the entrance to the building.
Watching for her partner's departure, Ash berated herself for daring to expose her feelings to the blonde, albeit a rather sad attempt. The brunette allowed a bit of self-deprecation to creep into her thoughts while waiting to catch sight of Scribbs leaving the premises.
"Stupid, Ash. First, you're jealous because you think she's found someone new who's obviously wrong for her, and you instantly feel an antipathy towards the poor unsuspecting bloke. Then you imagine kissing her while she's standing right in front of you. You'd even considered risking the taste of tuna, for God's sake. You must be mad," the DI muttered softly as she craned her neck towards the entrance, wondering if she'd somehow missed the blonde's departure.
"But you didn't stop there, now did you? No, you had to storm into the room, ready to attack dear, sweet Steven. Of course, you suddenly wanted to kiss him when it became obvious that he was very gay. Hmm . . . I'm surprised Scribbs didn't pick up on that particular mood swing."
Placing her forehead against the glass, Ash whispered softly, "Why'd you have to let your rules get in the way? She'd offered you the chance you'd been waiting for, and you blew it; all for the sake of your bloody rules. I'll never get another opportunity now."
"I love that you have rules, Ash," a soft voice replied from behind the DI.
Whirling around, the brunette exclaimed, "Scribbs! What are you doing here? Um... did you forget something?"
"Actually, I did; that's why I came back."
"What?" Ash questioned, suddenly feeling very nervous.
Taking a step closer, Scribbs replied, "Mind if I ask you a question before I answer?"
"Er, no; I guess not."
"Were you jealous of Steven?"
"It's a simple question, Ash. Were...you...jealous?"
"Um, what exactly do you mean by jealous?"
Grinning, the blonde answered, "Jealous as in you couldn't stand the thought that I was with Steven. Jealous as in you wanted to be with me instead. Jealous as in you fancy me, Ash."
"Oh, that kind of jealous," the DI countered, nodding her head to confirm she now had a grasp on the concept as she wracked her brain for a way to avoid answering.
Moving completely into the brunette's space, the blonde whispered, "All you need to say is yes or no, Ash. So, which is it? Yes? Or no?"
Her mind racing at warp speed, the DI finally came up with her answer.
"Scribbs? What's my rule concerning being backed into a corner?"
The blonde smiled and replied, "Let's see if I can remember. Um, . . . avoid being put in said corner in the first place; however, if that's not possible, then find a way to distract the other person."
"Precisely," Ash agreed, moving away from the window, and more importantly, from Scribbs' close proximity.
"So, Ash? How would you like to take those files and meet me at my flat? I have a bottle of wine."
"That's a smashing idea, Scribbs. Mind if I ride with you? I may need to crash at your place afterwards. Wine sometimes makes me light headed."
Anxious to experience a tipsy Ash, Scribbs gestured towards their desks and replied, "Excellent idea, if I may say so. Lead the way, oh wise one."
Nodding, Ash walked ahead of the blonde grinning widely. She knew her rules would come in handy someday.
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