DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for dogged_by_muses' Fragments of Sappho 2007 Challenge. Poem Fragment: gathering flowers so very delicate a girl (I've also added another interpretation of the same fragment: A most tender maiden gathering flowers)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Annette


Detective Inspector Ashurst had never been one for frivolity; her life was always structured and neat. And so it was more than a bit disconcerting when she found herself in the kitchen of her partner Detective Sergeant Scribbins flat, participating in a Tim Tam Slam. If only she hadn't made that wager with Scribbs, but she felt so sure she'd win. Officer Evans was known for his predictable behavior and so Ash felt it was a sucker bet. Dickie Evans always arrived on a scene and as soon as he spotted Scribbs he'd make his way over to have a chat. For some as yet undiscovered reason he chose today to merely nod in her direction and continue on with what he was doing. Ash had a feeling there was more to this than her partner was letting on, and she planned to find out what it was and exact her revenge.

"All right Ash, bite off one corner of the cookie and then the opposite corner like this." Scribbs demonstrated nipping a bit off opposite corners as Ash followed suit. "Now, place one end in the tea and suck it through the cookie, like this." Again Scribbs demonstrated and Ash imitated. "Now the best part. We eat the cookie." Popping the now somewhat gooey cookie into her mouth the blonde closed her eyes and let out a moan. Scribbs opened her eyes to see what her partner thought. "Ash, the cookie's melting."

Snapping out of her momentary lapse Ash quickly popped the cookie into her mouth to cover her confusion. Why was I staring at her like that? Her question was soon forgotten as she felt a finger brush the side of her mouth. Looking up quickly she watched, mesmerized as Scribbs took that finger and placed it in her own mouth.

"You'd left a bit on your face." Now it was Scribbs who felt confused. Why did I do that? "Um, here's a cloth for your fingers." The blonde handed her the cloth and started putting away the cookies and cleaning up the tea. By the time she'd finished both women had managed to compose themselves. "Would you like a glass of wine?"

"Sure, that sounds lovely." Ash said as she attempted to ignore the tingling sensation just to the side of her lips.

"Grab the glasses and go settle on the chesterfield and I'll be right in with the bottle." Scribbs began to uncork a bottle of wine as Ash left the room. Taking a deep steadying breath, she left the kitchen and took a seat next to Ash in the living room. She poured them both a glass and they both sat there in a bit of an uncomfortable silence until the blonde thought of something to discuss.

"Hey Ash, can I ask you something?"

"You do realize that you just did, right?" Ash smiled at the startled look on her partner's face.

"Oh, don't be so cheeky! Forget it then, I'll just keep my own counsel thank you very much." The blonde stated as she crossed her arms and pouted.

"Scribbs... don't get in a tizzy." And stop looking so adorable. Pushing that strange thought from her mind, she added. "What is it you wanted to ask?"

"Hrmph, very well. I suppose I can muddle through a bit of convo with you. So, as I had attempted to ask earlier... Have you ever been truly in love with someone? I mean so much so that you're gagging for it?"

"Well, no, I can't say that I have." Ash took a sip of her wine. "Have you?"

Scribbs looked pensive for a moment, as if her answer meant the difference between life and death. But it was her question after all; she had to expect to answer it herself. "I don't believe I have either. I've wanted to be, a time or two, but that's not something you can force I don't think."

"No, I would think true love would make its own rules and not care a whit if you were ready for it."

"Exactly!" Smiling she took another sip of wine.

Silence once again settled heavily on the pair and this time it was Ash who managed to break it. "I think I better get on. We've got a scene to visit early in the morning." She said as she rose and took her glass into the kitchen. After depositing her glass in the sink she grabbed up her purse and sweater and headed toward the door.

Scribbs met her there and wished her a goodnight. Unbeknownst to each woman, as soon as the door closed, they released a heavy sigh. Something happened tonight – things felt different but neither one quite knew why.

The next morning found the pair on the scene after an abnormally silent drive over. Neither woman had slept well; they were still trying to work through these strange feelings they'd uncovered. The normal chatter between the two was noticeably absent and so the officers assigned to the scene kept their eyes on the pair.

Ash couldn't believe she was having these feelings for her partner. It didn't matter; she could never act on them. She'd just have to keep her distance - they were only workmates after all, they needn't spend their personal time together. And so Ash began to pull away, physically, from Scribbs but she didn't count on her partner's fortitude. Scribbs sensed that something was amiss and so she pressed closer to the brunette.

"What are you doing? You're barely leaving me room to breathe!" The officers on the scene tried to act as if they weren't hearing the angrily shouting DI.

Stunned at the outburst Scribbs moved away quickly. "No need to shout Ash, I'm not hard of hearing you know."

"Well, it's not your ears I'm having a problem with, but I'd prefer it if you'd keep your ears, and the rest of your body, at a reasonable distance." Ash stated, hands on hips and eyes blazing.

"Fine. Let's wrap things up here." Scribbs answered with a glare of her own.

Upon returning to the station the pair were called into Sullivan's office. Obviously one of the officers decided to let the boss know about the tiff the woman had.

"I'm sure you're both aware of why you're here. I'd like to know why my Detective Inspector is shouting at my Detective Sergeant in front of the scene officers and any other person within earshot. Care to explain yourself Ash?"

"I apologize sir, and Scribbs. I'm not sure what happened but I'll do my best to not repeat my indiscretion."

"So Scribbs, perhaps you can figure out what's got Ash in such a mood?"

"I don't know, but she's been surly for days."

"You do realize I'm sitting right here?"

As if she couldn't hear the brunette's remark Scribbs added, "Perhaps she just needs a good romp?"

"What!" the brunette shouted incredulously. She couldn't believe what her partner just said - in front of the boss no less. Rising quickly from her chair Ash stormed out of the room, grabbed the keys and dashed out to the car.

Meanwhile Scribbs shrugged at Sullivan and ran after her partner, barely making it into the car before Ash pulled away. "What, are you mad? I'd barely shut the door!"

"So, I need to get laid do I? And you thought you'd share that observation with the boss!"

"Well, I didn't use those exact words, besides I thought it might light a fire under him."

"What? Light a..." Ash's eyes widened. "You think I fancy Sullivan like that?"

"Don't you? I mean you always seem to be flirting with him. Why you and he even had a dance at the station that one time."

"Well then let me inform you in no uncertain terms – I DO NOT FANCY SULLIVAN!" The brunette's face was bright red with a combination of anger and embarrassment. "Furthermore, my love life is none of your concern so kindly leave it be." Ash was beginning to calm down a bit when she noticed her partner's face. It was an unhealthy shade of pale and she looked as if she were about to cry. Ash noticed the little tremors in the blondes chin scant seconds before the tears followed.

"Oh bugger it all!" Ash said as she pulled to the side of the road. "Listen Scribbs, I'm sorry for shouting at you like that." Ash turned her gaze forward. "I'm just having a bit of a rough patch right now, nothing you'd understand."

Sniffling a bit Scribbs reached over and rested her hand on Ash's arm and the brunette quickly pulled it away. "Why are you treating me like I've a disease or something? And don't say you're not, you've been keeping your distance from me and biting my head off whenever I get close to you." The tears began again as Scribbs brokenly continued. "Have I done something to you? Why do you hate me all of a sudden?"

Her partner's emotional display left Ash feeling horrible, but she didn't dare reach out to her. She knew if she did she might never let her go, and she wasn't ready to face that demon just yet. "I'm sorry Scribbs, let me get you home so you can rest."

That same stifling silence accompanied them on the trip to Scribbs' flat and not a word was spoken as the blonde exited the car. Ash watched until Scribbs was safely inside and then pulled away, letting the tears she'd been holding back fall freely.

Ash had spent a sleepless night monitoring the debate between the proper young woman she portrayed and the sexual being she was just discovering. She'd wondered why she never felt the way other women felt when they were romantically involved with a man. She'd just never considered that it might have been gender that was the problem. She knew that what she felt for Scribbs was definitely sexual but she really liked her as a person as well. If she were to court her would it ruin their friendship? Could she go against her own standards and date a co-worker? A subordinate?

It was nearly time to pick up the woman in question and Ash made a quick call before getting ready to leave. She was more nervous than she'd ever been in her life but she was firm in her resolve to see this through to whatever conclusion fate had planned. As she pulled up to Scribbs' flat, she saw a delivery truck just pulling away and her partner at the door with a fresh bouquet of flowers in her hands.

"I wonder who could've sent these?" The radiantly smiling blonde mused as they made their way into her flat.

"What's the card say?" Ash offered in way of discovering the sender's identity.

"Gathering flowers so very delicate a girl..." Scribbs scrunched her brow in confusion. "What on earth do you think that means?" Scribbs loved flowers and these were quite lovely, so she'd completely forgotten that she was upset with the brunette in front of her.

Ash decided to help her suss it out. "Use your Detective skills; you have the florists name, perhaps they'll know who sent them. Or, what about the line of poetry, perhaps you need to check into that."

"Good point." Scribbs noted as she began to ring up the florist. "The florist said it was a brunette female and she paid cash. A female sending me flowers?"

"What about the poetry?"

The blonde looked perplexed, "What makes you think it's a poem?"

Ash blanched at that but quickly recovered. "Well, it sounds poetic don't you think. Pop on line and look it up why don't you."

Scribbs did just that and was even more confused by the results. "It's a line from Sappho, something called a fragment. Sappho was a lesbian. I think someone must've made a mistake, I don't know any brunette lesbians..." Suddenly things began to turn in a different direction in Scribbs mind. She looked up at the brunette and into eyes that seemed softer somehow, but she could also see an underlying fear and uncertainty – feeling she herself was experiencing. "Ash…"

"When it became clear that this is how I feel, and that I fully intended to carry on with this," Ash gestured between herself and the blonde, "against my better judgment – it shocked me. How could I consider this… this feeling as relevant? I'd never even looked at another woman in a sexual way, so why now, and why you? It goes against everything I stand for – blows all of my carefully constructed principles right out the bloody window!" The brunette moved to stare sightlessly out the window so as not to have to face her partner's reaction. She was fighting hard against the tears that threatened – she couldn't appear weak, she had to maintain some control of her life.

The blonde couldn't believe she'd just heard her partner, a woman she never imagined hearing make a true confession, baring her heart. Scribbs knew full well that this relationship would not be easy, but the best things are rarely ever gotten without a price. This lovely woman, with all of her principles and rules, was willing to reexamine some of them... for her. Scribbs followed her own heart as she enveloped the trembling brunette in her arms. "Do you really mean it?"

Ash turned in the blonde's embrace and wiped at the tears trailing down her face. "I do. I can't fight it any longer, trying to deny it was driving me insane and driving us apart." Ash ran her hand through the blonde tresses she'd longed to touch. "I hope you are willing to put up with me Emma. To me you are a most tender maiden gathering flowers and I want you to teach me how to gather my own."

The End

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