DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Ann for the beta.
After the Date
The electric shriek of the doorbell roused Scribbs from an alcohol induced slumber and sent her stumbling towards the front door and whatever half-brain thought it acceptable to jolt her out of a drunken stupor. "What?" she growled, yanking the door open and staring bleary-eyed at the blur on her doorstep.
"Is that anyway to talk to a superior officer?" snapped Ash, pushing past her befuddled best friend and striding towards the living room. "It smells like a brewery in here," she sniffed, gingerly removing an empty bottle of something lethal from the couch before sitting down.
Scribbs left her uninvited guest to fend for herself as she staggered to the bathroom and doused her face in freezing water. The Arctic chill cut through the fog of sleep, but failed miserably in its attempts to chase away the after-effects of a bottle of Merlot. A vigorous brushing of her teeth replaced the cloying taste of fermentation with minty freshness, but the change was purely cosmetic.
A knock sounded at the bathroom door, "Scribbs? What are you doing in there?"
"Communing with Mecca, what do you think?" Opening the door, Scribbs was met with the scowl she'd expected, but the recently dried tear tracks bisecting her friend's face caught her unaware. "What's wrong? Did something happen?" The alcohol evaporated and was quickly replaced with a burning sense of dread as Scribbs recalled the cause of her drinking binge. "I thought you were on a date with Sullivan?"
The rosy hue disappeared from Ash's lips as they compressed into a thin line of distaste. "I was." The words were clipped, almost military in their utterance, and despite their brevity, spoke volumes.
"It didn't go well?" Scribbs ventured, earning herself a scowl of scathing proportions. "That bad, huh?"
Abandoning her friend, Ash stormed back into the living room, that she had somehow managed to tidy into a semblance of order during Scribbs' foray in the bathroom. Plonking herself down on the couch, she waited impatiently for Scribbs to join her, before launching into a tirade against men in general and DCI Sullivan in particular.
As the words whizzed by, Scribbs found it increasingly difficult to keep up, but she didn't need to follow every word to understand the target of the rant. "I guess the Boss really blew it, huh?"
Ash's nostrils flared as she prepared to launch a second barrage of abuse, but seeing the somewhat terrified look on Scribbs' face, she eschewed the tirade for a more distinct answer, "Yes."
Scribbs suppressed a smile but couldn't help feeling relieved; Ash's crush on Sullivan had been rather cute, in a 'never gonna happen' kind of way, but the second it looked as if it might become a reality, the cuteness had worn thin and she'd been left cradling a pit of dread. "Did he try it on?" She couldn't imagine Sullivan getting heavy, but you never really knew what someone was capable of until you found yourself underneath them on a couch with their hands a'wandering.
"No, of course not, he was a perfect gentleman." Ash knew how to deal with unwanted advances, as could be attested by the number of men she'd left singing soprano. "I really don't want to talk about it."
Scribbs didn't need to be a detective to know a bald-faced lie when she heard one. "Did he cop off with the waitress?"
"Don't be absurd." Arms crossed and face firmly set on 'annoyed', Ash waited impatiently for Scribbs to continue stabbing in the dark.
The alcohol in Scribbs' system was luring her back towards the Land of Nod, and she was finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate on their conversation. She'd been dreading the morning and a happy Ash recounting the highlights of her 'wonderful' date with Mr. Right, but now that nightmare had been averted and she just wanted to close her eyes and snuggle with her best friend. "Let's go to bed," she murmured.
Ash rolled her eyes. "I'm not tired." She had expected Scribbs to rejoice in her news, and the final nail in the coffin of her infatuation with Sullivan, but instead she'd been treated to drunken mumblings and scant attention. "I thought you'd be interested in all the gory details?"
"I am." Scribbs' eyes closed and she turned to snuggle into Ash's side, her arm loosely thrown over her friend's waist as she transformed her into a human pillow. "What did the Boss do that was so bad?"
The feel of Scribbs' breath tickling the delicate skin of her neck made it difficult for Ash to think clearly, but she did her best to order her thoughts and recite the litany of horrors that had been her Valentine's Day.
Scribbs listened as best she could, but her thoughts kept wandering as she snuggled closer and felt the warmth of Ash's body beneath her. From what she could tell, Sullivan's crime had been to treat Ash like some kind of porcelain doll that needed protection from the horrors of the outside world. It was rather sweet, in an overprotective and cloying kind of way, but guaranteed to send Ash screaming in the opposite direction. "He's a nice man," she mumbled, planting a light kiss against the skin of Ash's neck.
"Yes, well, be that as it may..." Ash's eyes closed and she felt the disappointments of the day dissolve in the warmth of Scribbs' embrace.
With a final kiss, Scribbs succumbed to sleep, unaware of the torrent of conflicting emotions she'd unleashed in her friend.
Ash couldn't move. Scribbs' body against her own felt so right, but at the same time, she was terrified that she'd move and somehow destroy the illusion that had formed. She wasn't stupid, she'd known for a while that Scribbs' feelings went beyond the platonic, but it wasn't until that moment that she realised her own were far from pure. Closing her eyes, she let sleep wash over her, unsure of what the morning would bring, but strangely excited about the possibilities that had suddenly awakened within her.
Valentine's Day hadn't been such a bust after all.
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