DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended. Note: Somewhere along the line, since joining the ashscribbs community, I decided that I would like to write a series three for Murder in Suburbia and try to bring some of that subtext to a head. Of course that means you have to sit through six murder mysteries which may not be everyone's idea of a fun fan fiction. Even if it turns out to be pants I've really enjoyed writing it. Apologies at my lack of wordiness; these read rather like screenplays in places. I'd not written fan fiction before but I feel like I've written lots now and am addicted. Apologies for inaccuracies and probably the need for any suspension of disbelief. Thank you for reading and thanks to blob for betaing.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SERIES: Part one of the 'Turning Points' Series.

Buckle Up
By Claire G



The rhythmic tick tock of the indicator clicked off as Frank cruised past his turning on the dual carriageway. His hands became lazy at the wheel and slumped down to the base; the hum of the engine provided a comforting white noise. As there were no other cars on the road, the head lamps lit only the tarmac, the trees and the cat's eyes, which blurred into one long stream of flickering light. John, who was laid across the back, felt the car slowly turn left as his upper body was gently pushed against the seats. The ride became bumpy, and a knock to one of the back wheels bounced his head against the car door.

"Shit." John held his head and sat up, squinting at the road ahead. "Where are we?" He settled back and closed his eyes, his vision swimming. "Frank?" No response. "Frank, man, where are we?" He took a deep breath and leant forward, looking at Frank. "Are you asleep? That's really bloody dangerous." He poked his friend firmly in the shoulder, causing him to lift his head. Frank's feet had slid off the pedals and the car was slowly rolling down what appeared to be a stony side lane.

"Mmm? What? Oh, wow, sorry. Christ. Sorry." Frank blinked and rubbed his eyes, returning his feet to the pedals and his hands to the steering wheel. "Thank God there's nothing round here and no one out driving or we might've --" He felt his seatbelt tighten uncomfortably around him as the force of the halting crash pulled him forwards. John fell against the back of the passenger seat, pulling his shoulder slightly out of joint. "Oh God, oh God," cried Frank, frantically switching off the engine, leaving only the headlights on as he turned back to look at his friend. "John, are you alright?"

"I'm fine," John replied, squeezing his shoulder as he stumbled out of the car. He was unsteady on his feet; this was partially due to the shock, but also to the alcohol still in his system.

"Oh no. We hit a car," said Frank as he scrambled out to look at the damage. The cars were nose to nose. The green metallic bonnet of Frank's car was buckled, but there was no significant damage. "Hello? Hello?" he called to the figure sitting at the wheel of the other vehicle. "Are you ok?" Hands shaking, he ran his fingers through his hair, fearing the reaction of the other driver.

"Pft. It's not so bad," remarked John, perching on the bonnet as he lit a cigarette. Frank made his way round to the driver's side of the other car and knocked on the window. The figure inside remained motionless.

"I'm going for a piss," called John as he strode off into the trees.

Frank proceeded to knock on the car window again. "I'm going to open the door." He spoke clearly to the driver, mouthing the words, pointing animatedly at the handle. He opened the door and peered inside. The figure, a man, was still. Frank leaned forward and touched his face; it was ice cold. "Oh Christ." He didn't have to feel his pulse to know that he was dead.

John zipped up his trousers and started walking back to the car. He threw his cigarette butt to the floor and pressed it with his shoe. Feeling something grind underfoot, he looked down and pulled out his lighter to get a better look at the heap on the woodland floor. The light flickered first over dark cloth, then over golden hair, which is when he realised what he had found.




Emma's house

A hand emerged from under the duvet and grappled blindly on the side table. After pressing each of the buttons on the alarm clock -- but to no avail -- Emma forced one eye open. Her mobile phone flashed, rang and skittered its way across the table towards her. She grabbed it, then closed her eye as she answered.

"Scrbns. Mornin' Gallie." She listened and wrinkled her nose; her throat let out a small whine. "Now? Where? Okay. S'pose I'd better get up then. No, I'll ring her, it's on my way. See you in a bit." She hung up and yawned, becoming aware that the legs of her pyjama bottoms had worked their way up to the tops of her calves. She pulled her knees up towards her chest and snuggled into her pillow. The phone rang again. "Scribbins. Yes. No. Yes, I'm up. Would I lie? Cheeky bugger. Alright, I'll get up."


Kate's flat

Kate stood by the window of her flat and watched early risers making their way out into the dark street to scrape the sleet from their cars before setting off. She pulled her robe further round her body and leant against the radiator. After spending a couple of minutes pondering what she could do with her time before going to the station, she wandered through to the kitchen and pressed the cafétière plunger, which sank satisfyingly to the bottom. Just as she sat down with her cup of hot coffee, the phone began to ring. She lunged for it.


"It's me."

"Bit early for you, isn't it?" Kate sat back, sipping her coffee, smiling.

"We've been called to a scene. I'll come pick you up."

"And you're all up and ready, are you?" asked Kate.

"Completely," replied Emma.

"I can hear your duvet rustling."


Emma's car

"So, what salacious wonders did you get up to last night?" questioned Kate as they drove along the quiet dual carriageway.

"None. It was our second date and ended in a very innocent second date kiss."

"So when are you next going to see… what was his name? Oh yes. Kermit." Kate smirked.

"His name is Matthew and he doesn't look like Kermit. Saturday if you must know."

"It's those spindly legs and arms."

"He's just willowy."

"No, you just think that if they're ugly they're less likely to cheat."

"That is so not true. Well, it is true, but it's not why I like him. He's caring, and brave. He saved me from drowning, remember."

"He's a lifeguard!"

"So?" Emma shrugged.

"And you were pretending to drown."

"That's irrelevant."

"You don't need a man to save you."

"Yeah, but it'd be nice."

"Yes, I suppose it would," said Kate dreamily, staring out of the car window.

"Any more encounters with your sexy new neighbour? Have you called on him for a quick f- "



Kate showed her the tupperware box filled with neat cubes of fudge. "They've got rum in."

"Thanks, I missed breakfast." Emma took one hand off the wheel and grabbed a piece. "So have you called on him for a quick fumble?"

"I popped round to borrow some sugar."

"The old ones are the best, though isn't that technically what he's supposed to do, seeing as he's the one who is new to the building?"

"Technically, yes, but I got fed up waiting."

"So what happened?" asked Emma.

"His very pretty, silk-clad, half-naked girlfriend answered. Very disappointing. Hence the fudge."

"Ahh, consolation," said Emma as she took a turning.

"That and I didn't want the sugar to go to waste," said Kate downheartedly.

"Is that how you spent your evening, then?" asked Emma, nodding towards the tub.

"Not just that."


Kate sighed and frowned. "I cleaned the oven, too."

"I see you've got your priorities sorted out then."

Kate ate a piece of fudge and pulled a face at Emma, who laughed.


Tothern Road

"Nice morning for it," commented PC Gallimore cheerily as he met Kate and Emma from their car.

Kate rubbed her hands together to warm them, then pulled her gloves on and crossed her arms over her chest as they started to walk down the slope to the scene. "What have we got?" she asked. Gallimore was about to answer when Kate dipped out of view, having slipped on a pile of wet, frosty leaves. She caught hold of Emma's right arm and Gallimore's left, and they pulled her back up before her bottom touched the ground. She coughed, regained her composure and ignored Emma and Gallimore smirking at each other. "How come this hasn't gone to Traffic?" she continued, unabated.

"We've called in Traffic too. That green car belongs to Frank Isleworth. That's him: the jumpy-looking bloke over there, being cautioned by Mike. He's admitted to falling asleep whilst driving. The other car was stationary when they hit; the collision happened about --" he checked his watch "-- an hour ago. He had a passenger in the back: John Phillips. He's still sloshed. They had a really, really late night."

"So where's the driver of the other car?" interjected Emma, who was trying to catch a look through the frosted windscreen. Feeling a chill, she pulled on her grey and blue stripy hat.

"Oh, he's still in there, and very dead, as it happens. There's a dead girl, too," Gallimore replied.

As they approached the crash scene they saw Dr Weatherall in a crouching position by the driver's seat of the silver car. He looked up at them and jumped into conversation. "I'm saying suspicious deaths for now, but I'll know more later. The impact from that gentleman's --" he pointed at Frank "-- car is highly unlikely to have caused this man's death. It could have been caused by the first crash, but I'm not sure about that either. He's received a fatal blow to the head but I can't see how, as he is wearing his belt."

"First crash?" Kate asked, confused.

"Yes. I suggest you take a look at the tree near the junction with the main road. It's been cordoned off. Then there's the second body, a female, mid to early twenties."

"Was she hit by the car?" asked Emma.

"No. She was a passenger. Follow me." Together they walked over to the body of the young woman.

"Presumably she left the car after the crash, made her way over here and died shortly thereafter from a haemorrhage. Her head wound was definitely caused by the crash; you can see the impact on the passenger side of the windscreen. It's a fair match."

"So what do you think? She whops him over the head as they're driving, he crashes; she's not wearing her belt and goes into the windscreen. Then they reverse down the lane to get off the road and they both die from their head wounds?" suggested Emma.

"Could be."

Emma looked pleased with herself.

Kate crouched down to closer examine the corpse. "What's that mark on her wrist there?"

"That's where our young friend, Mr Phillips, unwittingly extinguished his cigarette."

"Ah, nice," she said sarcastically.

They examined the first crash scene and then talked briefly to Frank, who was beside himself with nerves.

"It's Alan. I can't believe it. I didn't recognise him; did I kill him? We went to school together. I hadn't seen him in years. Not since he left Vicky."

Kate stood with one leather-gloved hand over the other. "The young woman we found. Her identification said her name was Louise Bettany. Do you know that name?"

"Louise? Oh no, it can't be Louise. I didn't dare turn her over; face down in the earth, you see. Oh, Louise. I saw her last night. She is, was, the barmaid at the Coach Inn."

Emma examined her notes. "And that's where you were from last night until early this morning?" He nodded in response. "We may wish to speak to you later, Frank, okay? But that's it for now."

Frank meandered off and sat down on a fallen tree trunk, head in his hands.

Kate pointed at Frank's car: two legs poked out from the back seat. Plumes of smoke curled out and dissipated into the sky. "I take it that's the drunk one, or do we have another corpse on our hands?"

"Morning," Emma called through into the car. John sat up and squinted at them.

"Good morning beautiful lady, times two," replied John holding two fingers aloft. Kate and Emma looked at each other and blushed.

"I don't think he's going to be a blind bit of use; he's still pissed." Kate smiled through the words, not wishing John to get the gist of what she was saying.

"At least he's friendly." Emma waved at John, who was happily smoking a cigarette whilst reclining.

Emma pulled a glove out of her pocket to find that the other was missing.

"Ash, have you seen my other glove? I must've dropped it somewhere. Help me find it? Please? It's perishing."

Kate rolled her eyes and started trailing back up the path they'd been walking down.

Emma scoured the area near the first crash. As she was looking she spotted something which looked out of place, so she plucked a protective glove from her jeans pocket and snapped it on. She freed the object from the earth and leaves and dropped it into an evidence bag.

"Scribbs. I've found it," called Kate from the other side of the clearing. She trudged her way through the mulch over to Emma, who was still crouching down. "All you need now is a length of wool, and then we can thread them through your coat sleeves." She proffered the glove to Emma.

"Ash, look at this." Emma held the bag aloft.

Kate scrunched up her nose. "What is it? It looks like a monkey's paw."

"Ew, Ash. It's a big leather glove. S'probably nothing to do with the case but we may as well take it."


A soft dusting of snow began to settle, and the scene started to look much more serene than it had.


Beaumont/Christie house

Kate was just about to knock when the door swung wide open. She and Emma were greeted by a tall man with dusty-brown, receding hair, who was holding a large golf umbrella like a walking stick.

"Good morning. I am Detective Inspector Ashurst and this is Detective Sergeant Scribbins from Middle-" Kate was interrupted before she could finish her spiel.

"Well look who's come to interrogate us about your dead husband, Vi." Michael had turned away from them to talk to Vicky, his partner. "It's Agnetha and Anni-Frid." Turning back, he looked them up and down with a distasteful look on his face. "Where are the boys, girls?"

Kate and Emma glanced at each other momentarily, their mouths agape. "Sir, please refrain from insulting us," replied Kate sternly. Michael placed his umbrella under his arm like a general might hold a cane, saluted and said "Yes, Sah!" before walking off, leaving Vicky standing in the doorway.

"I'm really really sorry about him. Come in," Vicky said quietly.

They followed her in.

"I knew I shouldn't have worn this hat," whispered Emma to Kate.

Kate grabbed hold of Emma's elbow and muttered, "Please find some evidence against that idiot so we can throw him in a cell."

"Alan and me, it just wasn't meant to be." Vicky brushed a stray lock of ash blonde highlighted hair out of her eye and distractedly pulled at her earring.

"And when was the last time you saw your husband?" Kate asked, leaning forward in her chair.

"Yesterday lunchtime. He came round to see Jamie."

"Jamie?" asked Emma.

"Sorry -- our son. Me and Alan's, that is."

"And at what time did Alan leave?" questioned Kate.

"Umm." Vicky hesitantly brought a hand to her forehead. "Around 2.30pm."

"How long have you been separated?"

"Oh, I'd say four years or thereabouts; I've given up counting. After he moved to London we only saw him occasionally."

"Yet you never divorced?"

"Alan never wanted one. I wanted to marry Michael but Alan refused, and we didn't have the money to take it to court."

Vicky got up and walked over to the French windows to look out on her son, who was casually kicking a football about in the back garden.

"You can marry Michael now, though," Emma interjected.

"Yes. Yes, I suppose I can."

"Do you have any idea what his relationship with Louise Bettany was?" continued Kate.

"Louise? What has she got to do with this?"

"She was found dead at the same scene," replied Emma.

Vicky's eyed widened. "I have no idea what she would have to do with Alan; they didn't know each other. They met for the first time yesterday when he booked into the B&B at the Coach Inn."


Bettany residence

Kate and Emma sat in the accommodation above the Coach Inn talking to Mark, a man in who was clearly in his forties, but his dejected posture and crumpled look gave him the appearance of someone considerably older.

"We're very sorry for your loss, Mr Bettany," said Kate.

Mark's face contorted into a tortured expression. "I feel so guilty; the last thing we did was fight."

"Over what, may I ask?"

"I get -- got -- so jealous. I didn't like the customers getting too close, and last night this one man... well, he pushed too far and was all over Louise, falling over her, touching her arm and holding onto her. I don't know. He started whispering to her and I just lost it."

"So, you both argued?" asked Emma.

"Yes, after we'd closed up. She left and said she'd get a taxi to her mother's."

"What time would that have been?"

"That was at about midnight, maybe half past."

"The man who was... flirting with your wife, do you know who that was?" questioned Kate.

"One of the guests staying in the bed and breakfast we run. Alan something, I don't know. I didn't book him in."

"Alan Christie?" asked Emma, who then pressed her lips together.

"That sounds right."

Kate and Emma glanced at each other, then looked to the floor.

"Mr Bettany: Alan Christie and your wife were both found at the same scene. Mr Christie was also deceased," revealed Kate.

"She left with him?" he looked to be on the verge of a breakdown.

"We don't quite know what happened, but we will do our best to find out," said Emma, concerned.




CID – Forensics Lab

"First issue is this: if Alan was in the driver's seat on the first impact, there would be bruising from the seat belt he was wearing when we found him. There isn't any sign of that. Second issue is that Alan's death happened approximately two hours prior to Louise's, at around 11.30pm," Dr Weatherall observed as he showed Kate and Emma the report.

"So what are you saying? Alan wasn't driving when the car crashed?" asked Emma.

"That's right." He pushed his glasses back up to the bridge of his nose as he turned his attentions towards Emma.

"But Louise was in the passenger seat at the time if impact?" she asked.

"Yes, there is no doubt about it."

"So who was driving at the time?" Kate asked as she took the report from the doctor's hand and began flicking through the pages.

"Simple answer is I don't know, but the scene report and pathology results should reveal a few things for you."

"What about the two hour thing? Could Louise have suffered a long, drawn out death?" asked Emma.

"The head wound she received didn't cause her death immediately, but I would say it took no longer than thirty minutes for the swelling to kill her."

"This was supposed to be simple," groaned Kate.

"I can't help the facts," the doctor responded succinctly.


CID Office

"So what have we got?" asked Chief Inspector Sullivan. Kate took the lead with a nod from Emma.

"Alan Christie: time of death roughly 11.30pm. Louise Bettany: time of death about 1.30am." As she spoke she pointed to the relevant pictures on the board.

"Found by…?" asked Sullivan.

"Frank Isleworth and John Phillips, at about 5.30am. Alan in the car, Louise a number of metres away."

"Tell me about Alan."

Emma stepped forward, crossing her arms as she did so. "Used to live in Middleford but moved away to Richmond about five years ago. Came back yesterday to see his wife, Vicky, and their son Jamie. Vicky, incidentally, now lives with another man: Michael Beaumont. Alan has no known current partners."

"Long stay?"

"Booked into the B&B at the Coach Inn for one night only and paid in advance," continued Emma.

"What about Louise?"

Kate took over. "Barmaid and co-owner of the bed and breakfast which adjoins it."


"With her husband Mark, landlord of the Coach Inn."

"When were Alan and Louise last seen?"

"Alan was in the bar until 10.45pm when he was presumed to have left to go to his room."

"Then at 12.30am Louise argued with her husband and left saying she would catch a taxi to her mum's house," added Emma.

"And where's that?" asked Sullivan.

"Up by Little Tothern."

"Little Tothern?"

"Used to be a miniature village; now it's miniature golf," responded Emma.

"Ah, yes. Any leads?" he continued.

"Just trying to get our heads round the mechanics of the incident first, Boss," Kate confessed.

"Sarge." A young male officer interrupted, handing Emma a document.

"Thanks," she responded as she perused the report and settled down on the edge of her desk. "This is interesting."

Kate moved round to Emma's side so that she could peer over her shoulder.

"There were traces of Alan's blood in the boot of the car. No prints on the wheel other than Alan's. There is another set of fresh prints, though -- on the passenger side -- and they don't match Louise's," summarised Emma.

Kate paced back and forth. "So not only was Alan not driving, but at some point someone had stashed his body in the boot of the car, then moved it to the front seat after the crash."

"Ooh, yay. The glove I found had Alan's blood on it," said Emma excitedly as she carried on reading.

"So we're looking for an assailant who has at least one hand, that's helpful," Kate said sarcastically.

Emma read on. "Alan had some kind of salt-like substance on his shoes and under his nails, as well as a fair bit of brick dust."

"Salt?" asked Kate.

"Well, good luck with it. Let me know how you get on. I know how you two love a good mystery," Sullivan commented as he walked away. Then he swivelled on his heel and added, "Tell you what: I'll buy both of you a drink if you can solve this before the day is out".


Coach Inn bar

"He's completely smitten with you," said Kate to Emma, watching her walk back to the table with their drinks.

"No he's not."

"Believe me, he is. Men like him don't roll out the 'walking into an invisible wall' routine for all the girls." She pointed over to where John Phillips was clearing glasses and tending bar.

"Stop taking the piss, Ash."

"No, really; it's a little-known fact that Marcel Marceau was second only to Casanova."

"Drink your drink," responded Emma as she took a long draw on her own, smiling.

"So did you find out why they were here so late last night?"

"Yeah, turns out they often have a late night poker game here, in the cellar. There's a hatch leading down behind the bar. It finished at 3.30am but Frank and John stayed on at the pub."


"John was upset. His girlfriend dumped him and he was pretty cut up about it. Frank was designated driver so John got absolutely pissed out of his head. A man after my own heart."

"Clearly," she remarked as she watched John waving at both of them. Kate shot a grimacing smile back at him and waved mockingly. "What about the argument? Did they see anything?"

Emma shook her head. "Heard it, but they were downstairs setting up the table."

"Hm. So who was at this game, then?" asked Kate.

Emma pulled out her notebook. "John, Frank, Mark, someone called Ruth Fairbairn… oh, and Michael Beaumont."

"Oh, don't tell me he's got an alibi."

"Well, he was here at the time of the crash, but Alan's death was way before that. Oh, and they said that the next door neighbour, Terry, is a bit of an insomniac, so we should go and ask him what he saw last night."


Terry Payton's house

Kate and Emma stood side by side. Kate knocked at the door. No answer. After a while they gave up waiting and turned just in time to see a small, bright yellow car humming its way into view. It pulled into the drive. Emma's first thought was that Terry's car looked a lot like a little wind-up toy; Kate's first thought was that she wouldn't be seen dead in that thing. They both smiled as Terry got out and approached them. He was an older man of about fifty, with blonde hair that was beginning to grey. Together they questioned him regarding the events of the previous night.

"I'm really sorry. I'd love to help but I really didn't see anything. Took sleeping pills and I conked out around 11pm. I was dead to the world by midnight."

"Were you acquainted with Alan Christie at all?" Kate questioned.

"I know of him. I know his wife; that's all really," he replied.

"What about Louise Bettany?" asked Emma.

"The barmaid next door? She was a lovely girl. Very sweet and trusting; wouldn't hurt a fly. Beautiful, too."

"Well, if you think of anything, please don't hesitate to contact us." Kate handed over their calling card.

They walked away.

"Something doesn't seem quite right about him. Too cagey about last night."

"Maybe he's protecting someone."

As they were approaching the end of the path, Terry called after them. "Excuse me. Um. There may be something of use that I saw yesterday." He rubbed the back of his neck nervously.

"All observations are useful, Mr Payton," Kate said encouragingly.

He walked down to join them. "Last night, just after the ten o'clock news, I looked out and I saw two people in a car."

"Go on."

"Well, I could be wrong but one of them looked like that Alan, and the other was his wife: Vicky. They were all over each other."

Kate and Emma thanked him for the information and walked back to the car.

Emma pulled her hands out of the pockets of her woollen bomber jacket as she reached for the car door handle. For the second time that day, a single glove slipped out and fell to the ground unnoticed.


Ruthie Fairbairn's house

"Call me Ruthie! Everyone does. Can I get you a drink? Tea, coffee, gin tipple?"

'Call me crazy! Everyone does,' thought Kate as she responded with, "Tea will be fine, thanks."

"I never turn down a tea if I can help it," said Emma with a grin on her face.

"I never turn down a gin if I help it, but I suppose these are your working hours," laughed Ruthie as she patted Emma on the hand and wandered off into the kitchen.

"Don't encourage her," Kate whispered to Emma.

They sat down with Ruthie: a middle-aged woman who was bright-eyed and fresh-faced. She crossed her legs and held onto her knee; she was still wearing her Wellington boots.

"What was your impression of Louise?" asked Kate.

"Beautiful girl. Doe eyes. Very, very popular with the men, but she had eyes for Mark only. Shame he didn't realise that, constantly getting riled up over male attention."

"Was Mark ever violent towards Louise or any of their customers?" Emma leant forward and looked up from her notes.

"I don't believe so, but then people don't always show their true natures in front of one another, do they?" said Ruthie rhetorically.

"What about Louise's relationship with John, one of the other bar staff?"

"They were just friends. He knew better than to give Louise the wink whilst Mark was around. Besides, as I understand it, he's in a very happy relationship."

Kate and Emma caught a look at each other, passing messages subconsciously.

"Did anyone leave during the poker game?" asked Emma.

"Apart from the odd toilet stop, you mean? I don't remember anyone doing so, but then I do tend to overdo it on the drink and cigars at these things."

"Anything else of note about the people who were there?" asked Kate.

"I can think of only one: Michael missed the first round because his step-son was ill. Shame as he's usually a good source of cash, as frankly he's dire at poker."


B & B - Alan's room

Emma sifted through the few belongings which Alan had left in his room at the bed and breakfast. It was one of many self-contained rooms which had been built as an extension to the pub.

"Right, okay. That's unexpected. Thanks for letting us know." Kate ended the call. "Looks like Alan was in line for the grave anyway."

"What do you mean?"

"He had terminal cancer. His clinic has advised us that he had only a few weeks left."

"That explains these then," remarked Emma, holding up a variety of bottled pills. "So what then? Is this all an arranged mercy killing?"

Kate shook her head. "If that were the case then why the boot of the car? Why Louise?" she questioned.

"A mercy killing gone wrong?" suggested Emma.

"Or a suicide gone wrong."

"Right, yeah. He'd have enough pills here to do himself in."

"So the question is: was this trip a last goodbye? If it was, then what happened? I think we'd better go and have another word with that wife of his," said Kate.

This time it was Emma's mobile that chirruped into action.

"More?" remarked Kate.

Emma shrugged as she answered. "Scribbins. Brake pipe? Okay. And that was the cause? Manually? Right. Thanks."

"The plot thickens?"

"The brake pipe on Alan's car had been cut. That's why whoever was driving lost control and crashed."


Vicky Christie's house

"We would like to interview Michael at some point. It is important," insisted Kate.

"Yes, I'm sorry. I asked him to stay," muttered Vicky.

"Mind if I use your loo?" Emma asked.

"No, go ahead. Top of the stairs; first on the right."

"We need to know if you were aware of your husband's medical condition."

"Alan was a workaholic and was constantly tired. Took too much on himself. He poured himself into that job and it took all the life out of him."

"Did he inform you that he was dying from cancer? " asked Kate.

Vicky covered her mouth in shock. "He never said anything."

"How did he seem when you saw him?"

"He was a little more distant than normal. I don't know. I didn't know him anymore."

"But you were still close?" asked Kate.

"What do you mean?" Vicky chewed on a chipped nail.

"Someone witnessed you and Alan kissing in his car last night. How come you didn't mention it before?"

"If I said I didn't want to accept that it had happened, would that be okay?"

"Not really, but I'll accept that as an explanation for now," said Kate coldly.

"It was a moment of madness. He had this look in his eyes, like he used to. I should have realised; he looked so sorrowful."

"And you later took your opportunity to kill him, is that how it was?"

"No, no, why would I kill him? What on earth would I have to gain?" Vicky defended herself.

"You said yourself, with Alan out of the way you'd be able to marry Michael."

"I wouldn't. To tell you the truth I was considering leaving Michael. I even went round to Alan's room to ask if there was a chance for us, but he wasn't there."

Upstairs, Emma came out of the bathroom and was met by a small figure. She crouched down to meet his height.

"Hi. Jamie, isn't it?" He looked at her for a while and frowned. Taking her by the hand, he showed her a range of scattered objects on the floor, which turned out to be hundreds of tiny origami shapes.


Beaumont/Christie house - outside

"Hey, look what I made," said Emma, moving her hand through the air. "It's a seahorse."

"Glad to see that you used your time constructively, Scribbs."

"I did actually. Little Jamie and I had a conversation."

"You know you're not supposed to interview children without parental permission," said Kate abruptly.

"I can't help it if they just offer up information. Jamie told me that he wasn't ill last night, and that he woke up to see his step-dad in the tool shed at the time he was supposed to be going to the poker game."

"Really? Now that is interesting. If he did cut the brake pipe, however, it does kind of imply that he didn't murder Alan." Kate bit her lip.

"Why?" asked Emma.

"Alan was already dead by that time. Why would someone try to sabotage the car of a dead person?"




CID - Interview room 1

"Just enough OCD to keep the kitchen spotlessly clean, I'm betting," said Michael cockily.

Kate swivelled on her heel and strode over to the desk. Bending over it, she glared at him.

"Don't Ash, he's just trying to get to you," whispered Emma to Kate, pulling her back.

"Batwoman and Robin," he muttered under his breath. Turning to Emma he added, "What's it like being the sidekick?"

"Hey," said Emma, feeling offended. This time Kate pulled her back. Emma composed herself.

"You didn't get on with Alan, did you Michael? Did you hate him enough to kill him?" asked Kate.

"And why on earth would I want to kill him?" remarked Michael.

"We've been doing some research into you, Mr Beaumont, and it looks like you're in a little bit of debt," said Emma.

"£30,000 worth of debt, to be exact," added Kate.

Michael folded his arms defensively.

"Let's see. You invested large amounts of money in a Spanish vineyard, which consequently failed to produce a profit after a bad season, and you lost your entire investment." Emma sat down on the edge of the table and looked back at him.

"We also hear that you're not too good at poker," said Kate.

"Vicky doesn't know any of this and I don't want her to know, do you hear me? Nevertheless ladies, it doesn't prove anything."

"Was money your motive for murdering Alan? Any money he had would go directly to Vicky after his death. Not a bad incentive," said Emma.

"I would never kill for money," he said.

"What about for love?" asked Emma. "Did you see Alan with Vicky?" Michael flinched but sat stony-faced. "I had a word with your step-son."

"I don't think you did; he's deaf."

Emma motioned a few words in sign language.

Kate looked at Emma, astonished. "DS Scribbins has replied to the suspect in sign language," she reported to the tape recorder. Kate said the next word under her breath. "Unexpectedly." She stepped over to Emma and whispered in her ear, "I hope there wasn't any swearing in that, Scribbs." She turned to look at Michael and reconsidered. "Actually, I hope there was."

Emma continued: "Uniform have been round to your house and found pliers and a pair of gloves, both with brake fluid on them. Now what does that mean to you?"

Michael's smile wavered a little.


CID - Interview rooms corridor

They watched Michael as he was escorted away to a cell.

"I'd like to kick the swagger from his step," said Kate bitterly.

"None of this makes sense," remarked Emma. "We have a dying man who came back to see his wife and child for possibly the last time. An embittered man who intended to kill his girlfriend's husband and ended up causing the death of a seemingly innocent barmaid. Whoever was driving obviously either intended to take Louise to her mother's, or wanted her to think that's where she was being taken. Somewhere in amongst all of this, someone has walloped Alan over the head and put him in the boot of his own car. My brain hurts."

"And where was he all that time?"


"Alan," said Kate. "We have a period of two hours to account for, so where was Alan's body in that time?"

"In the boot of the car?"

"There would have been more blood. As it was there was hardly any. I didn't see any signs of a struggle, or… " Kate frowned as she thought about the issue. "When the hell did you learn sign language?"


Emma's house - outside

Tired and mentally worn, they had decided to give up for the night, Emma dropped Kate off and drove home. She pulled up to her house and parked up ready to reverse into her drive. As she did so, she checked her rear-view mirror and spotted a couple of figures moving about in the reflection.

"You've got to be kidding me," she said to herself as she picked up her mobile and dialled. "You'll never guess who I've just seen snogging Josie from two doors down."

"The gangly boy?"

"Yeah. Shall I go and knock his teeth out?"

"Scribbs, forget about him. Forego the violence and tell Josie tomorrow, then together you can warn the general female public about him. Why don't you come round and have a drink with me?"

"I'm already home. I think I'll have an early night," Emma yawned as she thought about the various obscenities she could write on the wall of the swimming pool's changing rooms.

"Of course. I'll see you tomorrow, we'll put a bit of pressure on Mr Bettany."


Placing her phone back in her pocket, she realised she was once again missing a glove.


Coach Inn - outside

Emma exited the car and remotely locked it, glancing briefly around the area. The car park was not well lit and she was getting the feeling that her search was pointless. As she walked round the side of the Inn, she suddenly became acutely aware of the close proximity of another person. She quickened her pace just a little, clutching her keys in her hand.

"Emma Scribbins? May I have a word?"

Emma hadn't expected to recognise the voice. The figure's shape developed in the darkness. She didn't make the connection with a name until she saw his face. "Mr Teddington? Is that you?"

"I'm impressed you remember your old English teacher."

"Well... er... how are you?" She looked him up and down; he was heavily bearded and wore layer upon layer of sullied clothes. "Not teaching anymore?"

"I took to the open road a long time ago. As you can see I didn't get very far," he smiled.

"Haven't I seen you around? I mean, are you living on the streets?"

"You could say that. Many years ago I went through a moment of catharsis, gave up my worldly possessions and took to the open road. It's very interesting, you know; you see a lot of life. Maybe I'll write a book about it sometime; 'Observer of Suburbia' has a nice ring to it. But I digress, as usual. I wanted to give you some information."


"I see many things, some of which may not seem important to most people. I believe you are investigating the death of Alan Christie?"

"Yeah, that's right." Emma crossed her arms to listen. 'This is surreal,' she thought.

"Yesterday morning, I was sitting near the war memorial feeding the pigeons; they are fascinating birds. I saw Alan arguing heatedly with someone; I approached and listened."

"Didn't they see you?"

"If you look as I do then people treat you as near invisible; after all, how could my listening to their conversation be of any consequence to them?"

"I see." Emma sucked on her bottom lip and narrowed her eyes.

"Do you know what Alan worked as before he left Middleford?"

"I think I read he was a nurse or something."

"That's right, but he didn't work in a hospital; he was a respite carer for the terminally ill. That was what the argument was about. One of his patients died in his care."

"Who was it?"

"Terrance Payton's father."

"Terrance? Terry?"

"Yes. An accusation of murder was made and Alan spoke of a mercy killing."

"Thank you. You've been extremely helpful. Look. Can I buy you a drink or something?" she asked, pointing over at the Inn.

"Very kind, but things to do, people to see. Good evening, Emma. " He strode off into the darkness.

"Well that was weird," Emma said to herself.


Terry Payton's House

There was a knock at the door. Terry switched off the television and eased himself up out of his chair.

"Mr Payton. Sorry it's late but can I have a quick word?" asked Emma.

"That's perfectly all right, come in," he replied.

"You never really answered our question of whether you knew Alan Christie."

"Didn't I?"

"No. And you did know him didn't you?" she probed.

"A little."

"More than a little, surely? He was your father's nurse, wasn't he?"

"Yes, yes he was." Terry shifted about uncomfortably in his slippers.

"He must have been a great help through some difficult times." She leant against the back of one of the armchairs.

"I don't really like to talk about it."


Kate's Flat

An ambulance screamed its way down the street outside the building which housed Kate's flat. The book she was reading in the dim light of a table lamp flopped down onto her lap. Her eyes began to close as she drifted off into a cosy slumber.


Terry Payton's house

"Did your father die naturally, Terry?" Emma followed him into the kitchen and watched as he quickly filled and drank a large glass of water.

"What kind of question is that to ask? Of course he did."

"Did you know that Alan Christie was dying?" asked Emma.

"Dying? No, no I didn't. He never said anything about --"

"So you spoke to him."

"No. I mean... yes, briefly."

"Please don't lie to me, Mr Payton, I'm just here to try and find out the truth. Did you see Alan at the memorial yesterday?"

"Yes." Terry looked down.

"And did you see him last night?"

"No, I just saw him in the afternoon. That's all."

"What did you argue about? And don't say you didn't, you were seen."

"I... he came back to Middleford and I saw him and I didn't know what to do." His brow broke into a sweat and he became nervous and edgy.

Emma stood up straighter and crossed her arms, listening intently to what Terry had to say for himself.

"When my father died, there was a hearing. They suspected unnatural causes but a case was never brought to trial. He left after that. I didn't speak to him from that day 'til yesterday."

"Did you suspect he killed your father?" asked Emma calmly.

Terry flinched. "I think you should be going now."

"I'm sorry Terry, but I'm going to have to take you in for questioning."

A flash of panic flew into his eyes and Emma watched as his body language changed and became threatening.

She reached round to her side only to realise that she'd left her handcuff and baton harness in the car. 'Shit,' she thought.

"Just a few questions, that's all."

"I won't have you accusing me of things." His hands shook as he walked over to the Welsh dresser and pulled something out of the drawer. "I need some time to think."

"Calm down, Terry," she said as she raised her hands in a surrendering posture.

He held up a rusted World War II revolver. The barrel rattled as he shook. He swallowed hard and his Adam's apple bobbed up and down. Using his foot he kicked the threadbare rug aside, revealing a trapdoor. He pulled the iron handle and raised the door; it creaked ominously.

"I'm really sorry," he said, standing up and moving behind her. He searched her pockets, which contained only a single glove, her mobile phone and a set of keys. He took them all and placed them to one side.

"No need to be sorry; just put the gun down," Emma said. She looked down briefly and noticed a large blood stain on the floorboards. A sudden unexpected push to her back sent her onto her knees and down the hole into the dark cellar. She looked up to see the square of light close above her head. Then there was the sound of a heavy object being moved over her only exit.




Terry Payton's cellar

"Now what makes me think he's done this before?" Emma said to herself. She winced as she felt the pain in her ankle and back. Her pupils dilated to take advantage of the cracks of light that entered the room from the street outside, and she glanced round to see where she was. The cellar was musty, the bricks near the floor were full of rising damp and she could feel water soaking into her jeans. She got up as quickly as she could and climbed the stairs to see if she could push the hatch door up with her shoulder. It was stuck tight.


Kate's flat

Kate was asleep and dreaming. A jolt awoke her, she looked around the room, realising that she was on the sofa and still fully dressed. She flipped her jumper sleeve back to look at her watch. Tying her hair up in a ponytail, she got up, put on some shoes and a warm woollen coat. She headed out of the door with the intention of visiting the Coach Inn, wanting to see what kind of thing goes on at this time of night, hoping for a better feel for the area and the visibility at night.


Terry Payton's house

Emma's mobile began to ring. Terry picked it up and looked at the screen. It said 'Ash'. He cancelled the call and let it divert to answer phone.


Coach House - outside

Snow had begun to fall again and formed a crisp frost on everything in sight. Kate stepped out of her car and watched as the clouds passed over the starry sky. Wood smoke filled the air. She inhaled deeply and made for the entrance of the Coach Inn. Her keen eye noticed something lying on the gravel and she bent over to take a closer look. She recognised it as Emma's glove. Sighing to herself, she pocketed it, then entered the bar.

"May I take a quick look at the room you play poker in?" asked Kate, wondering if the room had any exits from which someone could have nipped out for a killing, other than the profitable kind.

"Not a problem," said John from behind the bar, "I'll show you." He offered a hand to her as she climbed down.

Ruthie was already in the room, laying the tablecloth. "I've tried Terry but he's not coming, again," she said as she walked over to John. "We can't play with three. Where's Michael?"

"I might be able to answer that, Ms Fairbairn. Actually sorry, did you say you tried Terry again?"

"Yes dear, he normally attends our little evenings."

"I see. Was he due to be here last night?" asked Kate.

"Oh yes. I went round and he said he wasn't feeling up to it."

Kate looked around the room, which was as large as the bar above and was half filled with crates and beer barrels that led up to the pumps. There was also a large round table with several chairs. The walls were clad with thick plaster that was crumbling away near the floor. Kate walked over to one of the walls and held her hand to it, brushing the side of her shoe against an area of damp, disintegrating brick which was thick with salt crystals.

"Whose house is on the other side of this wall?"


Terry Payton's house

Emma could hear movement above and crept up the narrow sideless steps to listen. She could hear muffled voices. The wooden door lifted up and light came flooding in; she found herself temporarily blinded. Before she could think to run for it, she was pushed down the stairs by Kate falling on top of her. Emma had the wind knocked out of her and her throat gave way to an 'oof' sound.

"Scribbs?" Kate murmured as she got up and dusted herself down.

"Now I really do hurt," moaned Emma as Kate helped her up.

They looked up to see the hatchway close again, plunging them into dim light.

"Well, this is great," said Kate, hands flapping down to her sides.

"Have you got your mobile?" asked Emma hopefully.

"No, he took it. Bloody firearms; I hate them."

"Does anyone know you're here?"

"I left a message on your mobile telling you where I was going, but I can now see that was unhelpful. The office know where I am and so do the bar staff next door."

"I'm guessing that means we're stuck here 'til morning then."

"How long have you been down here?" asked Kate.

"Dunno, I've lost track of time. An hour maybe? I did work something out, though."

"That Terry killed Alan?"

"Well, yeah. But I've been thinking, did you know that an anagram of your name is 'shark statue'? Isn't that weird?"

"Did you hit your head? What day is it and who is Prime Minister?" questioned Kate, assuming Emma must have concussion.

"I did but I'm fine. Just sore. Honest."

"You must be cold," said Kate, suddenly noticing how chilly the room was.

"I'm freezing. Stuck down here with not even a glove to my name."

"Oh yes. I found this outside." Kate handed over the woollen glove.

"Oh yay. I'm back to one again," Emma said sarcastically, but was then mildly grateful to be putting it on. "Thanks."

"Did you ring in to say where you were going? If neither of us reports back they might send someone out sooner."

Emma shook her head. "I only came back to get my glove," she said, waving her gloved hand in the air.

"What did I say to you when you were first assigned to work with me?"

"'Oh no, not her'?"

"Hardly," said Kate.

Emma sighed, knowing full well what Kate's first words to her were. "I have three rules about partnerships."

"Trust me and I'll trust you, share information, and always --"

Their words crossed over as Emma joined in to finish the sentence: "Let me know where you're going."

"I know, I know. I should have called you," added Emma. "Look, I don't s'pose you've got your cuff harness on?"

"Yes, I do. He didn't think to check that," she replied, unbuttoning her double-breasted coat.

"Have you still got that little LED light that fits onto your cosh?" asked Emma, hobbling about.

Kate found that she did and using the light at the end of the baton she managed to find a paint-covered metal light switch. "Here goes nothing." The light bulb flickered into life, making a crackling noise. It was a weak light but good enough to see by.

"Would you like me to take a look at your ankle?" Kate nodded towards Emma's foot.

"Yes, please." Emma carefully examined a pile of boxes before sitting down. "Don't want to sit on any spiders."

"They'd probably turn their noses up at this place," Kate said without a hint of a smile as she removed her leather gloves.

Emma sat down and pulled up the leg of her jeans. Kate lifted Emma's foot up so she could unzip her leather boot. "I see you're still into the crazy-coloured socks."

"Makes them easier to pair."

Kate's silver rings brushed against Emma's leg and made her shiver with their coldness."It's just a sprain. Just keep your weight off it."

"Ash, I'm really cold. I'm starting to feel woozy."

Kate sat down and took off her coat, wrapping it around Emma's shoulders. "Here." She put her arm around Emma's back and began rubbing her arm vigorously. Emma placed her head on Kate's shoulder and could smell her subtle perfume, lipstick and a hint of red wine. She found it comforting and almost fell asleep. "No sleeping, not with a head injury. Come on, sit up."

"Have you had a drink tonight?"

"Just a little wine."

"Could you not have brought me some?"

"Scribbs, if I'd known I'd be spending the evening with you I can guarantee I would have brought wine. If I'd known I would be spending the night in a locked cellar of someone I now presume to be the killer of Alan Christie, I'd have brought... " Kate lost her train of thought.

"What?" asked Emma.


"What you would have brought if you'd known you were going to be spending the night in the cellar --"

"Locked cellar," added Kate.

"Yes, locked cellar, of a killer."

Kate shrugged. "Wine and chocolates, or maybe just a crowbar."

"Well there's a crowbar over there."

"Scribbs, how could you not have mentioned this before?"

"I didn't see it before."

Kate picked it up and attempted to lever open the trapdoor. It wouldn't budge. She looked around and spotted an area in the wall that was particularly corroded. "Looks like Alan already had a good go at the wall, trying to break through into the inn's cellar next door. He didn't get far. There's a great deal of dried blood here; he probably died trying to signal his presence." Kate began digging away at the mortar and bashed at the loose lumps of brick. After a long while of digging and bashing, a small pin point of light came flooding in.

"Hello?" she called through.

They both crouched down at either side of the hole and listened.

"Hello?" came a small reply.

"Thank God for that," Kate muttered as she gave a sigh of relief. She relayed all of the required information to the gaggle of tipsy poker players next door.

Emma's head began to dip as she became drowsy. "No you don't." Kate lifted Emma's head. "You have to keep awake; keep talking to me."

"I'm so cold."

"Um, right." Kate stepped over the boxes and nestled in behind Emma. Putting her legs either side of Emma's, she wrapped her arms around her to become a human blanket.

Emma leant back, her back still sore from the fall. "What made you come here, anyway?" she asked.

"I fell asleep on the sofa and was dreaming about the case, and when I woke up I decided to take a look at the area at night."

"Was I in your dream?"

"Yes, you usually are," said Kate flatly.

"Really?" asked Emma, surprised.

"You're the one person I'm with more than I'm without."

"I've never really thought about that. Tell me about your dream."

"Why?" asked Kate.

"Because it could be ages before uniform drag their way over to let us out. Go on."

"All right then. It was some sort of talent show and it was taking place at the Coach Inn bar. John Phillips was doing his mime act, Terry Payton was driving round on a tiny toy car --"

Emma interrupted, "I wouldn't have put you down as a cryptic dream person."

Kate made a face and continued: "And I was a magician."

"What was I?"

"You were my assistant."

"You do think I'm the sidekick!"

"No I don't. Is that why you approached Terry on your own?"

The room was flooded with light. Kate shielded her eyes with her hand, while Emma just squinted.

"Hel-lo, ladies. Sorry to disturb," called John in a Leslie Phillips manner when he saw Kate enfolded around Emma.

"Typical," said Kate quietly as she helped Emma up. "I thought I said to call for police assistance. Terrance Payton is potentially a very dangerous man," she called up.

"His car's not there so we thought you wouldn't mind if we broke in," said John with a big grin on his face.


Highgate Road

"I'm fine, all woken up, let's go. Look, two gloves." Emma waggled her gloved fingers in the air. "I think I have an idea where he might have gone; I just need to make one call," she said keenly, perking up.

"It's getting really late. Let someone else search for him," said Kate.

"C'mon, Ash. Don't you want to know what happened?"

Kate sighed. "Very well. So where do you think he's gone, then?"

"I'll explain on the way."

Kate slid her way in front of Emma to take her place by the driver's side of the car, "Okay, but I'm driving. We don't want any more accidents."


Lowgate Cemetery

"It's that plot over there," said Emma, pointing to a large oak tree. "Yes! There he is."

"Well done, Scribbs. You were completely right. I'll grab him and you disarm him."

"One. Two. Three. Go." They apprehended Terry easily. He looked dejected and almost began to cry. Kate cuffed him.

Terry sat down on a monument near his father's grave. "I never meant to hurt him. When he came round that night, there was no fear in his eyes. He said such terrible things."

"I got it wrong, didn't I, Terry?" asked Emma patiently. "You didn't accuse him of killing your father; he was accusing you."

"I couldn't have him saying such things. I didn't mean to kill Alan. I shoved him and he fell against the table. I didn't know what to do so I pushed him down into the cellar. I had to think. When I checked on him he was dead. It was an accident, I swear."

"What about Louise? How did her death come about?" Kate asked inquisitively.

"You never realise how strong you can be until sheer panic sets in. I dragged Alan to his car and put him in the boot. I closed up and Louise came storming out of the inn. She was upset about something and seemed so pleased to see me. She pointed at the car and asked if I would give her a lift. I couldn't say no. So we took the car. She rambled on for a while but then she caught sight of my gloves and the blood on my sleeve. She panicked and started screaming at me to let her out of the car. When I tried to stop, the brakes wouldn't work and she thought I was holding her hostage. She took off her belt and grabbed the wheel. I lost control and we slid into a tree. My belt saved me but she went into the windscreen. I thought it could all be a way out. I put Alan in the driver's seat and thought that maybe, just maybe, it would look like just another car accident."

Emma looked down at the floor and pressed her lips together, arms crossed.

"And did you steer the car down the side lane?" asked Kate.

"Side lane? No, I left the car where we crashed," he looked distinctly confused. Emma placed a hand on his shoulder. Two officers flanked Kate and she nodded to them. They took Terry by the arms and escorted him away.

"So how do you think the car and Louise got to be where they were?" asked Emma as she linked her arm through Kate's.

"I don't think Terry was lying. It's quite possible that with all the snow, the car slid back down the lane and stopped when it hit a tree. Louise must have recovered enough to regain consciousness for just a while. I expect the shock of seeing Alan in the seat beside her made her leave the car and run as far as she could."

"I think that knock to the head did you a bit of good," said Kate. Emma held onto her shoulder as she limped along. "Not bad for a day's work.

"A really, really long day's work. Hey, good news though, Sullivan owes us both a drink," grinned Emma.

"Thank goodness for small mercies." Kate frowned and suddenly said, "Wouldn't 'astute shark' be more appropriate?"

"What?" asked Emma.

"Anagram of my name."

"Astute shark. See -- that's why I'm the sidekick."

"You are not, never have been, never will be my sidekick!" exclaimed Kate. "You're just my subordinate," she said with a smirk.

"Hey!" exclaimed Emma as she pushed Kate away by the shoulder and consequently lost her balance. She slotted her arm back through Kate's as they walked off, laughing into the night.


Next episode:

An archaeologist is found dead at his site of work: was hate, thievery or town politics to blame? For once, Ash and Scribbs find the same man attractive. Which one of them will win his affections?

The End

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