DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: My (northern) wife didnít get my (apparently southern) joke about Whatever Trevor or Whatev Trev. If anyone is interested, it was a cheeky comeback, much overused in the 90s, and was said in response to a comment made by someone talking rubbish. Betaed by blob. No properly manipulated scene image this time. Just that promoesque picture which the_girl_20 suggested would be good for a series 3. Thanks to her, by the way, for the encouragement on these in that original thread back in January (January - jeepers). It's been fun.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SERIES: Part six of the 'Turning Points' Series.

Cut to the Chase
By Claire G

 

 

With the thud of a heartbeat, Emma felt her stomach twist with anticipation. Kate moved closer and took her hands in her own, intermingling their fingers. With her thumbs, Kate stroked Emma's palms. Emma closed her eyes. Rising panic, rushing emotion, a kick of adrenaline, she breathed deeply and leant forward but Kate was gone; she had evaporated into the mist. With empty hands and hollow heart, Emma felt herself suddenly drop through the air.

Her body gave a jolt and she awoke from the dream feeling hot, restless and very alone. Only yesterday, Eric Granby had confessed to the murders of five young women, closing the case. Consequently, and with barely a pause for breath, Kate was due to leave the next day. The end of Kate and Emma's partnership was nigh.

"I have to know why," Emma said to herself.

 

ACT 1 – THREE DAYS EARLIER

 

Eric Granby's flat

Kayleigh could not see anything -- a blanket covered her -- but she could just make out the shape of Eric standing over her. He was saying something. "You stay there. Keep down. No noise." His voice was calm and calculating. She began to hyperventilate and once she had heard him leave, she began to frantically fumble in her sequin-studded handbag for her inhaler. Grasping it shakily, she drew heavily on it and worried at the rattling noise it produced. Breathing soundly again she listened for any sign of what was to be her fate. Eric re-entered the room and there was a click. Kayleigh could not quite make out the voices that emitted from the television. Eric watched intently.

"The body of a young woman found in the grounds of Ardmoore School for Girls last Wednesday has been formally identified as that of sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Tripp, a student at the school."

On the television, Detective Inspector Sullivan, flanked by detectives Inspector Ashurst and Sergeant Scribbins, motioned for another question from the press.

"Can you confirm if this is related to the other deaths?" asked a female journalist.

"We have reason to believe that it is. The common denominator between the victims, as far as can be ascertained is that they were all female and aged between thirteen and sixteen years. All of the girls were pregnant, including the latest victim, at the time of death."

"Do you have any suspects?" a man asked, raising his pen to indicate his location.

"We have reports coming in of a man seen fleeing three out of the five crime scenes. We would very much like to track him down in order to determine his involvement."

"What action is Middleford Police taking?"

"Our officers will be working around the clock to crack this case. In the meantime we highly advise caution --"

With a resounding clunk the television blipped off. Eric approached Kayleigh; she clung onto her swollen pregnant belly and closed her eyes tightly.

 

PortOne nightclub

"What is this anyway -- orgasmic house music?" shouted Kate over the din.

"I think you mean euphoric house music," replied Emma, speaking directly into her colleague's ear.

"Same difference." Kate waved her hand airily. "I very feel out of place."

"I can imagine it's not exactly your style. Unless you've been secretly body popping to Justin Timberlake in the kitchen?"

"Pardon?"

"Nothing." Emma looked down at her jeans, t-shirt and suit jacket. "I feel overdressed."

"Anything more than bra and knickers is overdressed in this place," noted Kate, looking the youths up and down haughtily. Gradually, they worked their way through the heaving bodies and to the manager's office. "Why don't you take the lead on this one?" Kate ushered Emma forward and knocked on the door.

"You sure?" asked Emma, surprised. Kate nodded in response as the door opened.

"Good evening. My name is DS Scribbins and this is DI Ashurst. We're from Middleford CID. Might we ask a few questions?"

"Of course," replied the manager, Belinda.

"At present we're making it a formality to make any missing young women our priority for investigation, especially those who also happen to be pregnant. We understand a --" she checked her notebook "-- Kayleigh Clampton was working here until a few days ago?"

"Kayleigh, yes. Tuesday night was the last time we saw her."

"Can you give us any details of what happened that night?"

"I think you'd better speak to Sandy, our cloakroom attendant. She works alternate shifts with Kayleigh." Belinda led them through to a dingy area near the bar.

Without introduction, Sandy leapt into conversation as though she had been approached by a couple of minor celebrities. "I know you two, I've seen you on the telly, giving interviews and stuff. You think Kayleigh's been taken by that serial killer, don't you?"

"We can't say for certain until we know more about what happened the last time she was seen," Emma explained.

Sandy popped her bubble gum. "She left here about eleven. That's when I started my shift."

"Did Kayleigh mention anything about leaving or running away?" asked Emma. Sandy thought about it for a moment and then shook her head. Kate stood silently, her hands in front, left hand over right fist, as she patiently allowed Emma to ask all of the questions.

"Did she leave with anyone? A friend or maybe her boyfriend?"

"Naa, not so far as I'd know."

"Are you sure, Sandy? It's important."

"Yeah, for definite. And she doesn't have a boyfriend. To be honest, I don't even think she knows who got her pregnant."

"Can you show us the route she would have taken to leave the building?"

Sandy led them out, locking the cloakroom behind her and leaving a sign on the hatch. "They'll just have to dance in their coats and get hot for a bit." The detectives followed her down a series of corridors and eventually reached a fire escape which they were told was also used as a back door. They exited into an wide alley alongside the nightclub. "There you go. Anything else?"

Emma looked to Kate for any further questions but her partner was gazing up at the sky with her arms crossed, so she turned back to Sandy. "Do you know which route home Kayleigh would have taken?"

"She usually goes left out of here, down Barnell Road, up by the park, left down by the old jam factory, then her estate's just down there."

"Thanks for your time, Sandy. That's been really useful," said Emma kindly. Sandy nodded and then re-entered the club, leaving them alone.

"We'll make an Inspector of you yet," Kate said suddenly.

"Will we now?" remarked Emma with a mocking tone as she glanced around the area to see if it had a security camera.

The alley was floodlit and it was not long before Kate found a splattered patch of blood. "What do you think about this?" she asked.

Emma shrugged. "It's a teenagers' nightclub, of course there's blood. It's not a good night out if a couple of lads don't get in a fight over a girl. Do you fancy going for a walk? We could take her route."

"Yes, that might be a good idea."

"If it's by the old jam factory then it must be Northfields Estate. It's not far at all."

Kate felt a twinge in her heart and a sense of nausea crept over her. "Actually, let's leave it for tonight." She checked her watch. "Look at the time, Scribbs. Way past bedtime." Kate quickly marched off in the direction of the car. Emma shook her head and followed.

 

CID office

Following a scraping of chairs and a lot of chatter, the group of officers settled down to hear to what Detective Chief Inspector Sullivan had to say. He stood beside a four foot high map of Middleford, which was dotted with markers of deaths, homes and places of work for all of the victims. "Right, everyone," he called out. "You know how much I hate for the public to feel on edge, but in this case it is all the more important to catch the killer and put this to bed. I want serious man hours on this, even if that means sixteen-hour days... for everyone, myself included. Under no circumstances can we afford to be complacent about this. Peters, I want you to take three officers and visit all the local pregnancy clinics that our victims used. Gather information on any people seen in the area. Show them the photo fit we've got. Cramford, you're on phone duty -- track down the suppliers of the fabric used in the strangulations. Barnes and Curtis, I want you to look at any ties between the girls, anything -- I don't care if it's the same social club or the same shampoo: find it. Ashurst and Scribbins, I believe you have a visitor: a certain Mr Trevor."

"Oh no, not him," said Emma, leaning back in her plastic chair.

Kate was sitting beside her. "I don't think I know him, do I?" she asked, leaning over towards her partner.

"You do, Ash. Phillip Nundy," Emma whispered.

"Ah! Middleford's worst police informant. Great," she said sarcastically.

"9 out of 10 cats could do better," said Emma jokily.

"So who's Mr Trevor?" asked Kate as the crowd of officers began to disperse and go about their business.

Gallimore joined them, rubbing his hands together. "Whatev Trev's waiting for you in interview 1; he said he's got some right juicy gossip for you."

"Suddenly all becomes clear."

 

Interview Room 1

"Oh come on, Phillip, you don't honestly think we're going to believe you this time?" stated Emma, incredulously.

"Have you heard of The Boy Who Cried Wolf?" asked Kate.

"You hum it and I'll join in." He smiled back at them, running his fingers through his dark gelled hair. "Honestly, though. This time I'm telling the truth. His name is Eric Granby and he fits your profile to a T." He made an O shape with his thumb and forefinger.

Kate narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "Is that it then? He fits our profile?"

"Not only that, but I saw him with Elizabeth Tripp the day before her death."

"This is all very convenient, Phillip," said Emma, crossing her arms.

"Cross my heart and hope not to die. We were out doing a few deals near her school. Don't worry," he said pre-emptively, "not selling to kids. We saw her coming out of school. You can't miss a young girl like that with a baby bump that size. They had a chat, he looked really angry and she basically told him to eff off. Let's just say he noticed me and we did a bit of business."

"Is that all you saw? It's not much to accuse a man by," said Emma.

"That," he pulled a folded piece of newspaper from his pocket, laid it out on the table and stabbed it with his finger, "and he looks exactly like your photo fit drawing. 'Cept you got the ears wrong."

 

The Corner Café

"You don't fool me, Ash," said Emma, shaking a sugar packet and pushing aside a plate on which were a few breadcrumbs left behind after sandwiches. "This is not normal behaviour."

"What makes you say that?" asked Kate as she blew on her cappuccino.

"You scared the living daylights out of that shopkeeper when you shouted at him."

"It was justified, Scribbs. I was in the right."

"Be that as it may, but this was the first time you've ever marched in, flashed your badge and claimed to work for the grammar police."

"The apostrophe on their sign was unforgivable."

Emma shook her head. "You're being totally irrational."

Kate rubbed the back of her neck. "I'm just a little stressed, that's all."

"Well we'll have to see what we can do about that." Emma checked her watch. "We'd better get going soon."

The bell on the café door rang as someone entered. Kate and Emma both looked up. It was Kate who noticed the partially obscured text on the newspaper under the man's arm. She quickly stood and asked, "sorry, Sir, may I take a quick look at that?"

"Yes, here you go," he replied genially.

She unfolded it to read the front page of the local paper. 'First suspect revealed,' it announced. "Did you purchase this recently?" she asked.

"It's this afternoon's edition, yes. Why?" he asked.

"Thanks." Kate thrust the paper carelessly back into his hands and turned to Emma. "Drink up. It looks like Mr Nundy has been a bit liberal with his suspicions and told the press. It's time to go and have a word with Eric Granby."

 

ACT 2

 

Eric Granby's flat

The door to Eric's flat was banging lightly against its frame as the wind blew it to and fro. Emma nudged it open with her foot. "Mr Granby?" Silence. "Eric Granby? It's the police. We'd like to have word." She and Kate waited for a few seconds, hoping for a response. When one was not forthcoming they entered cautiously and checked each room of the flat.

"Ash?"

"Yes?" replied Kate.

"Come in here. I hate to say it but I think Phil Nundy was right."

Kate entered to find Emma crouched over a heaped, blood-stained blanket. "I wonder if we can find out the owner of this." Using a pencil she lifted the corner to reveal an inhaler.

"I don't think we need look far; Kayleigh Clampton was asthmatic."

 

Susan Granby's house

"My boy was raised right. A firm hand, a protective home," Susan protested.

"No formal accusations or warrants for arrests have been made but the likelihood is great that your son is involved in some way," stated Kate. "At present we are interested in bringing Eric in purely for an interview."

"Or in other words, you think he did it."

"Do you know where your son might be, Mrs Granby?" asked Emma.

Susan sneered. "I've brought many children into this world and I know how to raise them. He's a good Christian boy and if he knows what's good for him he'll be in the church praying. He may be guilty in your eyes, but he is innocent in His."

"Eric will not be judged on conjecture. Can you provide us with details of his place of work?" asked Kate, while Emma stood to look at a set of Eric's school photos. In each he wore a dour expression.

Susan wore a similiar expression herself. "He is a porter at the hospital."


"All of the girls who were murdered had at some point or another taken a trip to the Women's Health department at the hospital. He could have seen and followed them. We'd best get someone stationed at the hospital in case he comes back." They walked back to the car and got in. Kate dialled the office on her mobile and listened to it ring.

Emma nodded. "Maybe we should go to Northfields and give Kayleigh's parents an update on the situation."

"Let uniform do it," replied Kate. "I... I don't really feel up to it."

 

CID office

The office was busy with the bustle of news, the ring of phones, everyone having felt a burst of energy after the identification of an actual suspect. However, other things were on Emma's mind. "Do you remember the guy who delivers the pizza? He asked me out," she said.

"What's that I hear? Oh yes, it's the sound of scraping against the bottom of a barrel. That boy is two levels below pond life, Scribbs," said Kate.

"Ease up there, Ash. He's not that bad," responded Emma.

"Pre-evolutionary plankton."

"Bit heavy on the dope but he's okay."

"You can do better."

"I know. I told him I already have plans for tonight." Emma smiled.

"Oh yes, with whom?" asked Kate.

"You, hopefully."

"I'm sorry, come again?"

Emma's smile grew into a grin as she passed over an envelope. "Happy Birthday."

Kate took it and pulled out a card. "That's funny, I thought I'd decided not to have a birthday this year." Two tickets fell out as she opened it. She examined them.

"I thought it'd be nice for us to go see a musical. Unless you have plans, that is?"

"I don't know, Scribbs."

"They're doing open air Shakespeare in the park this week if you'd prefer that."

"The musical is fine, but what about the case?"

"Come on Ash, you need a break. You've been so down recently."

"We're in the middle of an incredibly serious investigation."

"You can't think about the case 24-7. Sullivan practically insisted that we go. We need a break. You've worked harder on this than anyone. Oh, and I also got you this." From behind her she pulled out a colourfully wrapped item. Kate unwrapped the present to find that it was a CD. "It's to replace the one I sat on. And there's a card from everyone." She handed a much larger envelope over to Kate. "And the pièce de résistance. Ta da." A couple of officers brought through a large chocolate cake and placed it down on a table nearly. "To show our love and appreciation."

"Thank you." Kate rose and gave Emma a brief hug. Despite her difficult mood, Kate was touched by the gifts. "You go ahead and get some cake; I'll be there in a minute."

Gallimore approached as Emma left; he picked up the CD and examined it. "So you like her, do ya?" he asked, nodding towards the singer on the cover.

Kate glanced from the CD to the group of officers surrounding Emma. She was cutting the cake into uneven sections. "Yes. Yes, I do," Kate said despondently.

Gallimore noticed she was not looking in the same direction as he was, and turned to follow the line of her absent-minded gaze.

 

Sullivan's office

"Any news on the surveillance tapes?" asked Sullivan. He looked up from his desk to Constable Gallimore who was in his office to give an update.

"Nothing particularly useful yet." Gallimore turned and made to walk away, but then reconsidered, something niggling at the back of his mind. "Is there something a bit funny going on between --"

"Ash and Scribbs?"

"Yeah. It's just, well, I noticed they're acting funny round each other. I know it sounds weird but I think --" Sullivan began to nod. "So you've seen it too? The way she looks at her?" Sullivan took a deep breath and nodded again, crossing his arms as he did so, standing up from his chair. "It's sort of like she's got a crush on..."

They spoke at the same moment as Sullivan moved around to the front of his desk and sat on the edge. "Scribbs," said Gallimore. "Ash," said Sullivan.

"Oh." A look of confusion came over Gallimore's face.

"Ah, interesting. Looks like we have two sides of the story here."

"D'you think we should say anything?"

"Best let them work it out for themselves. After all, it may come to nothing." Sullivan placed a hand on Gallimore's shoulder.

"And if it doesn't?"

"Well, I'm sure it would not be the first same-sex relationship the police force has seen." They laughed. Suddenly feeling very aware of their close proximity, Sullivan removed his hand and adjusted his tie.

Gallimore cleared his throat and pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. "Right. I'll go and chase those tapes for you."

 

Kate's desk

Kate toggled back to her browser window and continued reading about her subject of interest: Cognitive Dissonance. Her mind swam with the varying descriptions of the anguish and distress caused by people's reaction to an internal conflict. She glanced up to find Emma looking directly at her.

"You alright, Ash?"

"I'm fine." Kate tugged at a piece of paper. Her cup of water tipped and flooded the desk. "Damn it," she exclaimed, raised her hands and ran out to get a roll of kitchen paper. She returned to her desk and began pressing wodges of it onto the pool of water, a stern look on her face.

"Had a spill?" asked Sullivan as he casually wandered over.

"No. I'm making a papier-mâché swan, actually." She clenched the soggy paper in her hands, then looked up and saw his pursed lips. "Sorry. Sorry." She held her hands up, clenched her teeth together and mentally scolded herself.

"A word, Ash, in my office."

"I'll sort that. You go." Emma rose from her chair and shot Sullivan a pleading look.

 

Sullivan's office

"I've been meaning to speak to you about this for quite a while now," said Kate.

"I see." Sullivan perused the document that lay before him. "One thing."

"Yes?"

"I can't have my team broken up at this stage of the investigation."

"But boss…"

"No buts, Ash," said Sullivan curtly. Kate's shoulders sank. "I won't pretend to be happy about this but I can see your mind is made up." He moved in front of Kate, put his hands in his pockets resignedly and sat down on his desk. "It's a shame to see you go, and to see the end of such a good partnership. Stay until this case is resolved. Only then will I put the transfer through."

 

ACT 3

 

CID office

"For... no. I think I... no. When you... oh, that's rubbish," Emma muttered to herself.

Kate looked over at Emma and watched her frown. She sat down opposite. "What's rubbish?"

"Mm? Oh... nothing."

Kate would normally have probed for more but in truth she just did not feel herself. "We need to finish this case, and fast." She got up and turned to the board, which was covered with pictures of the victims. "It's not race-related, not class-related: just young, pregnant women. And what is the significance of the cloths they were strangled with? It's the same each time. Why do you think that is?"

"Symbolic, I'd say. The cloth is white and it's been left on and tied neatly about the neck. They all have their eyes closed, too. I think he wants to cleanse them. Perhaps he sees them as lost children and wants to make them innocent again."

"A missionary killer's motive would make sense. That's very insightful, Scribbs. Very impressive. "

"A compliment from you, Ash, is so much more worth the having."

Kate blushed a little.

 

Middleford New Theatre

They sat side by side in the darkness of the stalls, lit only by the stage lights. Kate's foot tapped lightly in time to the music. There was a bag of sweets on the floor between them. In a lull in the music they both leant down for a sweet; their heads knocked together and they instinctively held their foreheads. Emma smiled and Kate reciprocated. Emma held her finger up to motion for Kate to stay where she was; she picked out two wrapped sweets and placed one in Kate's hand. But instead of simply closing her hand, Kate clasped on to Emma's fingers. Emma looked down and then into Kate's serious eyes. A row of lights, as bright as headlamps, rose up from the stage floor and shone onto the audience, startling them. With a rumble of percussion the next song began.


At the interval the house lights came up and everyone began shuffling out to the lobby, to the toilets and bar. Approaching the bar, Emma bought two drinks. Kate took hers and tipped it back as if it were water.

"Steady there, girl," said Emma.

"Scribbs, I think I should warn you before you hear from anyone else," said Kate, her heart racing.

"This doesn't sound good."

"I'm transferring," she blurted out.

"Ash, hold on. Transfer to what? Another area? Another division?"

"I was going to give that a bit more build up." Kate alerted the barman to her empty glass. "I'm not changing roles. I've just decided to leave Middleford."

Emma stood agape. "Just? That's not a just statement. Transfer to where?"

"There's an opening in Aberdeen."

"Scotland?" said Emma incredulously. "But why, why go hundreds of miles?"

"My father has offered me a position in his CID."

"I happen to know that your dad runs the largest auction house in Middleford."

"The man you know to be my father is actually my step-father; my parents divorced when I was ten."

"Ash, how can I have known you all this time and you never told me that?" Emma asked with disbelief.

"What do you want me to say? It never came up."

"Never came up?" Emma said petulantly. "You know everything about me. Who was the first boy I fell for?"

"Ben, aged seven; he gave you his twelve-colour biro," Kate replied without pausing to think.

"Exactly, Ash, exactly. What about your mum, what does she say about all this?" she asked, then quickly added. "Your mum is your mum, isn't she?"

"Of course she is and she's fine about it. I'll visit her... occasionally. It's time to move on," Kate said dismissively.

"You can't go." Emma placed her hand on top of Kate's.

Kate pulled her hand out from underneath Emma's. "I need some air," she announced as she rose and headed for the theatre entrance.

Emma followed her outside and caught her by the elbow.

"Ash, I want..." The words shuddered as she uttered them. A silence fell between them. Emma shook her head. "I don't want you to leave, I..."

A loud crack like a breaking tree branch disturbed them; they turned towards the group of trees by the car park. Kate caught sight of someone and a flash of recognition passed over her. "Is that who I think it is?" said Kate. And it was. They gave chase for some time. They lost sight of Eric a couple of times but quickly found him again. Kate phoned for assistance as they followed him into a disused Victorian factory.

"Ash, hold up." Emma caught Kate by the arm. "What if it's a trap? I don't want to go in there just to get --"

"Scribbs, will you shut up for a moment? Uniform are on their way."

Emma understood Kate's frustration but she was also getting rather annoyed at being dismissed. "Just because your name is Kate doesn't mean like you have to go around acting like a shrew."

"Oh, very clever. Do you think that if you start referring to Shakespeare you'll distract me?"

"Is it working?"

"Slightly," Kate admitted.

They came to an open area that had once been the factory floor. Kids had been making dens from the old machinery and desks. With one hand on the balcony floor, Emma jumped down onto a table with ease; the drop was not significant. "Over there -- I can hear running." Emma climbed down, ran off and then stopped when she did not hear Kate behind her. "Ash?" she called out, squinting. She turned around, noticing that Kate was cautiously standing on top of the ledge, looking very wary. "Come on, Alice, down the rabbit hole." Emma climbed back up onto the table. "I'll grab you if you fall."

Kate gave Emma her royal 'we are not amused' face and looked down at the drop. "I'm not sure."

Emma approached and held her hand up to Kate. "Do you trust me, Ash?" Kate exhaled calmly, sat down on the edge, braced herself, and jumped down. Emma caught and steadied her by her waist. "Okay?" Kate simply nodded; she could feel the warmth of Emma's hands on her sides. Another noise and the bang of a door closing came from behind them. They ran on and turned a corner; here the factory became dark, few windows provided moonlight to light their way. They felt their way down the corridor to an office at the end. Kate's arm brushed something and there came a loud sound of smashing glass. Emma smoothed her hands over the walls until she found a light switch; the neon lights zinged on and flickered. "Still power in the old place, then," said Emma. They winced at the brightness but could now see that it was only a crate of empty marmalade jars which had cascaded onto the floor from their position on a filing cabinet. Further down the corridor was a single office with its light on. They stood either side of the door and slowly opened it, waiting to be lunged at by whoever made the noise. They looked down to find Kayleigh curled up in a foetal position.

Kate felt for a pulse. She swallowed and nodded. "Ring for an ambulance."

 

Middleford Central Hospital

"She's stable but her body has put itself into a coma after a serious asthma attack. It was lucky you got to her when you did," the nurse informed them.

"Phew, that's good," said Emma. "How's the baby doing?"

"We've done an ultrasound and the baby seems healthy. It's not easy keeping a baby stable while mum's in a coma but it's been done before. Do you know why she's in such a poor state? She's not looking good."

"Let's just say that a coma isn't the worst thing that could've happened to her tonight."

 

CID kitchen

Emma was quietly making a cup of tea when Kate came in, saw her and turned to leave. "Stay," said Emma reaching out to touch Kate on the elbow, but she reacted with a shudder and pulled her arm away. "Can we talk about last night?"

"I think I've made myself pretty clear. You need to strike out on your own. Be your own person, and you can't do that with me here."

"Ash, just buckle it --"

"Button it," Kate corrected.

"My dad says buckle it. Anyway, I don't believe any of that tripe." Emma was getting angry. "Y'know, we've gone through so much, almost lost our friendship and just as I think we've found it again you act like you're giving up on me. Every time I think you're going to tell me what's wrong, you close a door in my face. So come on, cut to the chase, Kate; what's this all about?"

"What was that mini tirade for?"

"It's about your inability to tell me the truth about what's been happening between us."

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

Emma sighed and slumped against the worksurface. She looked dejected.

Sullivan appeared. "Ah, Scribbs, there you are. A word?"

 

Sullivan's office

"I wanted to have a talk with you. I really don't want Ash to leave. Can you think of a way to convince her to stay?" From his desk, Sullivan picked up a cricket ball and ran his thumb across the stitching.

"Thing is, boss, I think I'm the reason she's leaving." Emma paced back and forth in front of Sullivan's desk. "I don't know what to do." Sullivan nodded for Emma to carry on. She spoke nervously. "I think I've driven her away by getting too close."

He looked up to her as he leant back in his chair. "Are you telling me that you have feelings for Kate?"

Emma looked at him, feeling slightly relieved that he had asked the question so she would not have to broach the subject herself. "I think so. I. Yes. Sometimes we fall for the wrong person, or maybe the right person. I don't know. What do I do, boss? I'd rather suffer in silence than lose her."

"I don't want her to leave either, Scribbs, but it is her decision. However. I haven't put the transfer in yet. I'm hoping for a last minute mind-change. You know I'm very fond of both of you. Have you told her of these feelings?"

"Hardly. Then she'd definitely leave. The only way to, as she would put it, woo her is by presenting her with a bound ruddy copy of the 'Relationships At Work' policy, with a formal letter from you, giving your consent, attached neatly at the back." She slapped her hands together. "That and posh bloody chocolates. Not that I have that option because a) she's a woman and this has completely thrown me. Actually no, it's that I'm a woman and b) it's Kate. It's doing my head in. I feel like I've lost half of me already."

"Trust me, Ash is too proud to tell you how she feels about your partnership. I mean, she's admitted to me that she hasn't told you what happened when she arrested Ray. It was --"

There came a knock at the door and Kate rushed in. "Kayleigh Clampton just woke up."

 

ACT 4

 

Middleford Central Hospital

"The nurses told me you was the ones that brought me in here." Kayleigh sat up, smiling groggily.

"We're really pleased that you're out of danger. In more ways that one," said Emma.

"It was a man named Eric whose flat you were at. Do you remember how you got there?" asked Kate.

"That night at the club he was there waiting for me, outside. I could see in his eyes that he was on something but I'm used to seeing blokes on drugs so I didn't think much of it. When I wouldn't go with him he started screaming about me dying if I didn't go with him right away. He pushed me to the ground and I banged my head and I don't remember getting to the flat." Emma looked up at Kate. She wanted to let her know that she, Kate, had been right about the blood outside the club.

"What happened after that, Kayleigh?" asked Kate.

"We stayed a few nights and then he said we had to move, so he covered my face and took me to this building and we stayed in the offices."

"Did he hurt you?"

"No, not since the night at the club. It was like he was waiting for something. You know what. I'm gonna use your names for the baby, 'cause I'm real grateful, right? The nurses told me it's gonna be a girl," said Kayleigh with a wide smile as she patted her pregnant belly.

"Aw, that's really sweet. Thanks. Whose is the middle name?" asked Emma, sitting down on the edge of the bed.

"It's got a dash in it, innit," replied Kayleigh happily.

"Emma hyphen Kate Clampton?" asked Kate, frowning as she gave a thin smile.


Emma and Kate left the ward, having left their good wishes with the mother to be.

"You can stop making that face now," said Emma.

Kate looked a little green with shock. "A baby chav has been named after me."

"Ash! You should be honoured." Emma bit her lip to stop her from laughing at Kate's distress, which she could not help but find cute. "It was a lovely gesture." Her phone began to ring and after a short conversation she quickened her pace. "We need to get back. They've brought in Eric".

 

CID office

Kate and Emma watched Sullivan interview Eric on the monitoring television. "He confessed. I can't believe it. So... that's that?" asked Emma.

"Yep," replied Kate. "That's that."

They made their way back to their desks. Emma found Sullivan sitting in her chair. "Well that would appear to be that," he said, standing up.

"That's what we were just saying," said Emma as she sat down and leant her elbows on the desk.

"Shame that it has to be tainted by the loss of an employee." He spoke to directly to Emma but the comment was meant for Kate. "Still, I suppose there's quite a bit of paperwork to be done before the case is quite closed, should anyone want to clear the air."

 

Emma's house

"I have to know why," Emma said to herself before standing and padding down to the kitchen to make a drink. 'Was I too overtly interested in her?' Mug in hand, she approached the stairs but trod on her carelessly discarded satchel bag. The strap looped around her ankle and she found herself dragging it along. Placing her mug on the stairs she proceeded to unhook herself, throwing the bag to one side. As it fell it opened it reveal a file. 'Oh no, I haven't brought home paperwork, again, have I?' She wrenched it out and turned it over in her hands, soon realising that its date was from a few months previous. Upon opening it, it quickly occurred to her that someone might be playing a cruel trick on her: it was the case file for the murder of Rick Scott, for which she had stood accused and was subsequently cleared of all charges.

Curious, having never looked at the file before, she gathered it up and took it to bed to read. Sitting back against a propped-up pillow, Emma marvelled at the detail and depth that the investigation had gone into in such a short time. The majority of the paperwork had been completed meticulously by Kate. Emma had never considered asking her how the case had been resolved. She read about the surveillance wire that Kate wore in order to tape her conversation with the actual murderer: Ray Stabeller. Emma was touched by the clear passion shown by her partner, 'or should that be ex-partner?' Emma thought sadly. Did Kate care after all? Emma noted that Ray lived at Northfield Estate and wondered if that was why Kate had been unwilling to take her there. Suddenly Emma sat up, tightly clutching a piece of paper in both hands. "Oh my god, she got shot? What the hell?"

 

Kate's flat

All around them were stacks of perfectly-labelled storage boxes. One item not packaged was the sofa, which Emma and Kate were sitting on. Emma pulled one leg onto the sofa and sat sideways so she could look at Kate, who was prepared only to look at the blank wall. The CD that Emma had given Kate for her birthday finished its last song, and the player clicked off.

"I don't know if I can say this," said Kate.

"I could nip out and get some table tennis bats, then you could go across the road and do semaphore," said Emma with a tinge of frustration in her voice.

"Semaphore is flags. Bats are for guiding aircraft."

"Fine then, you can bring a plane in to land and ask them to tell me." Emma smiled and tried to look into Kate's eyes.

Kate's smile came and then faded. "I don't want you to think badly of me."

"You can't leave without explaining this to me. B'sides, I won't."

Kate sighed and her psyche unbound itself just enough to let loose her previously trapped thoughts. She turned her body and reflected Emma's posture. "I've had this feeling -- like falling -- like reacting to a burn. It's become a ghastly uncontrollable feeling; I feel wretched." She held her left hand to her head, shifted her fringe to one side and pressed her temple.

"When did you start feeling like this?"

"When you were accused of Rick's murder. That morning in the park."

"When I legged it from the station?" Kate's only response was a nod. Emma drew a deep breath. "You don't have to feel guilty about that; I wouldn't want you to."

"No."

"Good."

"No. I mean I don't feel guilty. It's not guilt." She pronounced the last words very definitely.

"What is it then?" asked Emma hesitantly.

"I just can't be here any more. You'll be fine without me. You're a good detective. You should apply for Inspectorship."

"What're you talking about? I like things how they are. You're my Inspector. We make a great team." Emma's heart sank. 'Stop now and let her go,' she thought.

"I can't cope with this torn feeling anymore. Worrying about you, loving you, working with you and feeling this way: they're just mutually exclusive things."

"Mutually exclusive? Isn't that maths or something, with the circles?"

"Mm-hm," said Kate quietly.

"Where two things can't exist or happen at the same time?"

"Something like that."

"Wait, wait. Love me?" Emma's eyes widened.

"I didn't mean love," replied Kate, starting to look uncomfortable.

"You said 'loving you', me, loving me," said Emma hopefully.

"Didn't."

"Did."

"Didn't."

"Did."

"Of course I love you, you're my best --"

"Friend?" Emma interrupted. "I don't think that's what you meant."

"What does it matter anyway?" asked Kate.

"Of course it matters. You've always mattered to me." Emma reached out for Kate's cheek but she swiftly turned her head away. "You're not gonna say that you like me against your better judgement or something, are you? 'Cause that is way too Jane Austen." Emma grimaced.

"No, of course not."

"Then you like me but don't fancy me? I'm not exactly your usual type."

"No, it's not that," said Kate.

"So you're saying you would run out on me rather than take a chance on us. That's so like you."

"There is no chance. There is no us to take a chance on." Kate closed her eyes tight shut to stop a tear formed from frustration.

"You know that for certain, do you? Look at me. Do you?" Emma started to breathe more quickly as a feeling of fervour rose in her.

"It's not who you are and it's certainly not who I am." Kate struggled to keep on top of her emotions.

"Kate. Damn it. Stop applying rules and regulations to your life and definitely stop applying them to mine. We don't all fit in nice tidy boxes."

"You certainly don't." Kate gave a smile that showed her teeth.

"That's better." Emma smiled back at her.

"I don't know if I can bear to keep falling like this." She pulled a tissue out from her sleeve and blew her nose.

"Sometimes you have to fall a few times to know where you're going. That's what makes life interesting."

"I don't know if I can live such an unordered life. I don't want to take those falls."

"How will you know 'til you try? Get swept up for once."

"There's no point, Scribbs." Kate shook her head. "It's time to say goodbye."

"Close your eyes." Kate just looked at her suspiciously. "Close your eyes," Emma said more sternly.

Kate closed them obligingly. "What are you going to do? Push me over?" she said casually.

Emma bit her lip and smiled, her cheeks glowing. She leant forward nervously. "Not exactly."

Kate was suddenly aware of the close proximity of Emma's mouth to her own; she frowned and swallowed, breathing nervously. Emma moved to one side and spoke softly into Kate's ear. "What the hell made --"

The phone purred into life and Kate immediately leant away, opened her eyes and picked it up. "Ashurst."

"Shit," Emma muttered under her breath.

"There's been another murder," announced Kate as she began slipping her shoes on, having instantly switched into work mode. "On Northfields Estate."

 

Northfields Estate

Kate looked up at the imposing building and then down at the body of the young girl who was now shrouded in black, ready to be transported. She shivered. "Back to square one."

"What if Eric was protecting Kayleigh? I mean, we arrived just in time to call for an ambulance," said Emma as she leant back against the railings.

"What are you implying? That Eric led us to her, in order to save her life?"

"Well we know that he didn't kill this girl because he's still in custody."

"You're right. Maybe he was protecting her all along, knowing that the real murderer was going to come here, to Kayleigh's estate. And when the killer found that Kayleigh wasn't here, this girl provided a suitable replacement. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"If he really wanted to protect Kayleigh, why didn't he inform the police?"

Kate held onto a railing and pulled away flakes of green enamel paint. "Maybe it was a colleague at the hospital, someone else who would have had access to patient data. After all, half the girls killed were barely a few months into their pregnancies; they weren't even showing."

"I think it's our turn to talk to Eric."

The black ambulance drove away and Emma and Kate walked back to the car.

 

Emma's car

"Don't," said Kate.

"Don't what? I didn't say anything." Emma clung onto the steering wheel.

"Don't ask me about earlier."

"By you saying that, you're implying that you want me to ask you about earlier."

"I'm just saying…" She did not add anything else but she was desperate for Emma to ask her.

"Let's just get this case closed then we can not talk about earlier all you want."

 

Interview corridor

Kate rubbed her temples. Eric had been unhelpful; he had squirmed in his seat and given them no information. "This isn't working. He must know who committed this last murder," she said.

"Not necessarily. Maybe it was a copy-cat," suggested Emma as she sat down on a cast iron radiator.

"The method of strangulation hasn't been released to the public."

"Right, yeah. They wouldn't have known about the cloth."

"Who is the one person you would have trouble reporting to the police? A lover?"

"A mother," Emma offered casually.

Kate spun around on her heel and threw her arms out to her sides, fingers splayed, as she announced her realisation. "Eric didn't have any brothers or sisters."

"So?"

"His mother said she brought many children into the world. She's got to be a doctor or a midwife. You go and check up on that and I'll put some pressure on Master Granby."

 

Interview Room 1

"Whoever committed these murders has deviated from their plan, Eric. Another girl has been murdered and this time she wasn't pregnant. It's a break from the killer's pattern and that could make her very dangerous," said Kate, sitting back in her seat.

Eric's eyes flickered at the mention of the pronoun implying a female killer. "You can't know," he said nervously.

"What is it we can't know, Eric?"

"I… I thought that if I didn't help her she would stop. I tried to warn the girl, Elizabeth, but she wouldn't listen."

"What happened with Kayleigh?" asked Kate.

"She was next on the list. I hid her away but she got ill and I didn't know what to do. When I saw you and your colleague I thought maybe I could lead you to her, and you could take her to hospital." His leg began to jitter involuntarily. "Did you find her?"

"We did. She'll be okay. I have a problem, Eric. I still don't know if you were one half of a team or an unwilling party."

"It doesn't matter. I've confessed. I was involved and I deserve to be punished."

"We have to stop your mother; I assume that's who you're protecting."

He closed his eyes. "She believes in her mission. You won't be able to make her feel guilty."

"It doesn't matter. What matters is saving another life."

 

Interview corridor

"We've got an ID on Susan Granby. Someone's seen her near Hope Park," said Emma as Kate exited the interview room.

 

Hope Park

The crowds gathered for the open air production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. A fresh-faced Molly Walmsley pushed herself out of her seat and went to buy a drink. Her winter coat covered her pregnant stomach insufficiently. Moving away from the food and drink stall she leant backwards, held a hand against her back and almost dropped her polystyrene cup of tea.

"Let me help you there," Susan offered kindly, holding Molly by the arm.

"Thanks."

"How far along are you?"

"Almost six months now. My back is just giving me a bit of trouble."

"Oh, don't worry about it. We get a lot of girls at the hospital with the same problem."

"You're a…?"

"Midwife, yes."

"Oh, that's nice. What would we do without you?"

Susan slipped her hand into her shoulder bag and grasped onto the folded strip of white cloth. She led Molly away from the crowds. "How old are you now?"

"She's twenty-one, actually," came a voice from behind them, "but I'll admit it, she does look a lot younger." Emma stepped into view. "And she's a police constable, if that's of any interest." Two uniformed officers approached and cuffed the scowling Susan, then hauled her away to their car.

"Thanks, Moll. Worked like a treat."

Molly left to join Sullivan and another group of plain-clothed officers who had been covering the area. They were happily chatting about the final success of the investigation and arranging a trip to the local pub.

Emma wandered over to Kate, who was standing alone, watching the actors set up their informal stage. "Do you have time to stay for a goodbye drink, Ash?"

Kate turned to look at Emma, whose blonde hair was being flicked about her ears by the chill wind. "Maybe."

"I think the guys would really appreciate it." Emma looked down at her shoes. "I'm really going to miss you, Kate."

"That's it, that's the end of it. I can't do this anymore." Kate made a swiping motion with her hand.

"Can't what?"

"Simple. I can't... I can't... okay, this isn't simple." Kate stumbled over her words. Emma frowned, wanting to help her. "Oh, for heaven's sake." Kate placed her fingertips at either side of Emma's jaw line and gently pulled her lips to her own. She paused momentarily to touch noses and look into her partner's warm brown eyes, checking to see if she would be a willing party. Emma quickly succumbed to the kiss and melted into the warmth of it.


"Is that Ashurst and Scribbins kissing in front of half the population of Middleford?" asked Molly as she drank her tea.

"Yup, they just got together. I think," replied Gallimore.

"That is so weird. I can't believe it."

"Life takes its turns," said Sullivan.

"I just mean it's weird because I thought they'd been together for years," she replied.

"Ah, yes, I can see now how it might seem that way," said Sullivan.

A small, old couple approached Gallimore. The woman prodded him in the belly. "Hello dearie, which play's this then?"

"Er… it's just Ash and Scribbs," replied Gallimore.

The woman's husband unfolded two portable chairs and the couple sat down, opening a flask of tea. "I don't know that one; is it by Chekov?"


After a moment, Emma pulled away from Kate, stunned but happy. "You do realise everyone is watching?"

"With what goes on around here I'm sure we couldn't shock even the most civilised of housewives."

Emma grinned. "Mutually exclusive, my arse. You're not going anywhere. We're fantastic together." This time, Emma reached forward and grabbed Kate by her coat, drawing her in for a long and ardent kiss.

The End

Or is it? Thanks for reading. If you've read all six episodes then that's over 50,000 words. Well done you! No way did I write all that… surely that's not possible.

Return to Murder in Suburbia Fiction

Return to Main Page