Title: The Exception
Feedback address: email@example.com
Date in Calendar: 20 June 2007
Fandom: Murder In Suburbia
Summary: A murder in a posh women-only club makes for an interesting investigation.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD07
Disclaimer: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
Note: Written exclusively for the FemSlash Advent Calendar: Dog Days of Summer 2007.
Special Thanks: To Ann for a wonderfully thorough beta and Debbie for the beta and wonderful suggestions regarding "Britishisms" their advice was truly invaluable.
Exiting Sullivan’s office, Ash walked down the short flight of stairs and made her way over to her partner’s desk. Scribbs immediately looked up upon hearing the footfalls approach, anxious to learn of their new assignment.
"Seems there's been a murder at The Writers' Club. We've got to meet with the owner at the scene."
"The Writers' club? Isn't that the hoity-toity women's club in town?" Scribbs stood and grabbed her coat from the back of her chair, starting for the exit as Ash fell in step beside her.
"It's an exclusive women-only club and is an adjunct to the original club in Hastings House, Norfolk Street Strand, it’s both social and professional, and that's all I know at the moment."
Arriving at the club, the pair entered and took a quick look at the crime scene. Spotting a somewhat distraught woman off to the side, they concluded that she must be the owner. "Miss Boswell?"
The striking redhead looked up at the approaching women. "Yes, but please call me Elaine. Are you the detectives?"
"Yes, Kate Ashurst, Detective Inspector and my partner Emma Scribbins, Detective Sergeant." Handshakes were exchanged all round, and Scribbs led the woman into another room while Ash continued to peruse the scene.
"Is there anything you can tell us about what happened here?" Scribbs asked, glancing back through the doorway at her partner.
"Well, we'd just had an event last evening at Robbie’s in the Renaissance London Hotel. A nice dinner, followed by a talk on finances and investing, and then drinks and dancing." Wiping a tear from her eye, she continued. "It was a perfect event, everyone seemed quite pleased, Sophie and I couldn't have been happier."
"Sophie?" Ash inquired, having returned just in time to hear Elaine’s recount of the previous evening.
"Yes, my partner in business and in life. She truly is a godsend." Elaine looked first at Ash, and then at Scribbs. "But I'm sure you both understand."
Ash was the first to comprehend her meaning. "Oh no, she's my partner, not my partner!" The brunette quickly interjected as she pulled a face.
Upon hearing the remark and seeing Ash’s expression, Scribbs took offence. "Well, don't say it as if you're sucking a lemon. You could certainly do worse and have!"
"As if you've done any better!" The brunette countered.
Elaine quickly stepped between the now somewhat miffed pair. "Ladies, please, if we could get back on topic. Poor Kelly - we’ve got to find out who did this and why!"
"Oh yes, of course." A properly chastised Ash replied. Elaine’s words had completely ruffled the usually in control DI.
Scribbs was also quite embarrassed.” Too right, sorry."
Once satisfied that they'd gotten enough information for the moment, the pair took their leave. Elaine watched as they walked away and smiled after them. It's only a matter of time for those two. Perhaps something good can come out of this tragedy."
Later that day, a messenger arrived at the station with an envelope for the two detectives. Ash immediately opened it, and Scribbs peered over her shoulder as she read the note.
I thought it might help in the investigation if you were able to meet the members of the club. It's been decided to have a bit of a memorial for Kelly and so we’re all gathering at The Lighthouse in Wimbledon. It's semi-formal so a dress or pantsuit will be fine. I know this is last minute, but I do hope you can come.
"What do you think?"
"Not a bad idea. You'll have to borrow an outfit of mine to wear though."
"Oi, you don't think I have any posh clothes to wear?"
Ash just looked at the blonde for a moment. "Come round my flat about half six, I've a few outfits that should suit you."
Right at half six, Ash's doorbell rang. Opening the door to admit the usually tardy blonde, Ash couldn't help but comment, "On time for once I see."
"Bugger off Ash!" was the acerbic reply.
"What's got your knickers in a twist? I wouldn't have thought you'd be in a tizzy over this evening. Good food and drink and no men pawing at you... Oi, is that what's causing your foul mood, the lack of men?"
"Of course not!" Scribbs fidgeted as she decided whether or not to confess her fears. "It's just... well, I'm not sure I can pull off the whole posh charade. You've been your whole life; um, posh that is and so have all the others. I've never been, so I am a bit nervous."
Ash grabbed the blonde’s shoulders to stop her babbling. "Scribbs, you'll do fine. Besides I'll be there with you the whole time - I'll look after you."
"Of course, we are partners after all."
"Thanks Ash, I feel much better now. So, what outfits have you got for me to try?"
It took about half an hour to agree on an outfit, much to Ash’s dismay. Scribbs was continually trying to make the skirt shorter or the neckline lower but, finally, the perfect outfit was chosen, and Scribbs was off in the toilet putting it on.
“Scribbs, we’ve got to get going!” Ash had long since changed and was patiently - well not so patiently at the moment - waiting for the blonde to emerge
“Hang on, I’m just about ready.”
Just as Ash was about to question the growing length of time, wondering how it was possible to take half an hour to slip on a dress, the door opened and Scribbs appeared. Momentarily stunned at how very lovely the blonde looked, Ash quickly gathered herself. “I thought you’d never come out of there.”
“Well, here I am, shall we?”
Scribbs maneuvered skillfully through traffic, and the pair finally arrived at the restaurant where Elaine and an equally stunning brunette met them at the door. “Ladies, so glad you could make it. I’d like you to meet Sophie, she’s been looking forward to meeting you both.” Elaine turned toward her lover. “Sophie, this is Detective Inspector Ashurst and Detective Sergeant Scribbins.”
Ash reached for the brunette’s hand. “Please, call me Kate.”
“And I’m Emma.” The blonde added as she also shook Sophie’s hand.
The couple accompanied the detectives around the room and introduced them to all the members. “Well, as you’ve now met everyone, what say we have a drink?”
“Smashing idea, love.” Sophie smiled and took her lover’s hand. “I’ve got to give my Father a quick ring; would you get me a scotch please?”
“Of course dear, give Preston my love.” After tossing Sophie a quick wink, she turned to her companions. “And what would you two like?”
“I’ll have a vodka tonic please.” Scribbs requested, moving to take a seat at an empty table.
“Why don’t I give you a hand with the drinks?” Ash suggested.
“Perfect, follow me.” The pair walked off to fetch libations, and Scribbs took the opportunity to have a look around the room. Spotting a strikingly tall dark haired woman, Scribbs found herself staring a bit too long. The brunette caught her appraisal and was heading her way.
“Oh, bugger, now how am I going to fob her off?”
As the woman slowly closed the distance, Scribbs suddenly realized how important it was to mingle if they hoped to find out any pertinent information concerning the murder, so she decided that it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a chat with the brunette. The fact that the woman just happened to be quite dishy was just an added bonus.
When Elaine and Ash made their way back to the table, Ash immediately spotted the brunette talking to Scribbs. Now who was she again… and why was she sitting so close to Scribbs? “Elaine, isn’t that Rachel Davenport?”
Elaine glanced toward the table. “Yes, and you’d better get over there; she’s quite the player, and I’m afraid your friend is exactly her type.”
As Ash started toward her partner, she couldn’t help but notice the blonde across the room, staring daggers at Scribbs. Dorothy Chavers… looks like a woman scorned. Arriving at the table, Ash cleared her throat to get the occupant’s attention.
“Oh, Ash, there you are. Rachel here was just keeping me company until you arrived.”
The gorgeous brunette turned and took Ash’s hand. “You shouldn’t leave a beauty like this alone for too long; someone might steal her out from under your nose.”
Taken aback by the cheeky remark, Ash took a moment to respond. “Well, Scribbs is her own person and is perfectly capable of taking care of herself.”
“Glad to hear that.” Rachel said, standing to take her leave. “I hope to see you both again - under better circumstances, of course.”
The rest of the evening passed without event, although, Ash did notice the blonde from earlier continuing to give Scribbs dirty looks. Without learning anything pertinent to the crime, the detectives finally said their goodbyes and went home to their respective flats. After a good night’s sleep, they’d continue their investigation in the morning.
When Ash arrived at Scribbs’ flat, she found the door slightly ajar, so she hurried inside, intent on giving the blonde a scathing lecture on safety; however, Ash slowed her steps and listened intently when she heard raised voices coming from the bedroom. Not recognizing the second voice, she approached cautiously.
“You need to stay away from her! She is mine!” The stranger screamed.
“Dorothy please, put the gun down. Really, there’s no need for it.” Scribbs said in a surprisingly calm tone.
Dorothy? Dorothy Chavers, the one who was giving Scribbs those evil looks! Upon hearing that Dorothy was armed, Ash released her telescopic baton and moved closer to the door.
“I can’t let you take her away from me. I won’t let you!”
“I would never do that! We were merely chatting, I promise you. As a matter of fact, we were chatting about my Kate.”
“Kate?” The blonde questioned.
Me? Ash thought with surprise.
“Yes, you met her briefly the other night, remember?” Scribbs was doing her best to keep Dorothy calm. She was fairly certain Ash was in the other room listening; she knew Ash was never late - it was one of her many rules. “I was saying how much I loved my Kate - that she was everything to me. Just like you and Rachel.”
“Yes, Rachel is my world! I can’t let anyone take her from me. That’s why I had to get rid of Kelly; she was trying to take her away.”
“I swear to you Dorothy, I have no intentions toward Rachel. I’m very much in love with Kate. There could never be anyone else for me. I’m sure you understand that, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Good, so what say you put down that gun, and I’ll put a kettle on? We can discuss our love lives further.”
“Yes, that would be lovely, thank you.”
Ash was relieved to hear that Dorothy was putting the gun away. She retracted her baton and reached for her cuffs instead; her heart was pounding as she waited for the opportunity to apprehend the woman.
Scribbs was holding her breath as Dorothy started out of the room. She quickly grabbed up her phone as she followed, hoping she’d be able to call for backup.
The events that followed were a blur as Ash grabbed Dorothy’s arm and managed to quickly get her cuffed. Scribbs had already started to dial when she saw Ash cuffing the blonde and, as soon as the woman was secured, Ash grabbed Scribbs up in a tight hug.
“God you had me scared! But, you were brilliant!” Slightly embarrassed by her outburst, Ash released the blonde and started reading Dorothy her rights. When the officers arrived to take her to the station, Ash and Scribbs followed, walking much more closely than usual. A few hours and a confession later, Dorothy was booked, and Ash was driving Scribbs home.
“Would you like to come in for a bit?” Scribbs shyly asked.
Ash was conflicted, a part of her wanted to come in – to stay and make sure Scribbs was really alright – but that other part of her, the one that kept everything in neat little boxes, was holding her back. “I don’t know Em, I don’t think I should.”
Scribbs started for a moment at hearing Ash call her Em. In all their years, Ash had rarely used her first name, let alone a truncated version of it. She knew the brunette was just as out of sorts as she was, and so she persisted. “Please Kate, I think we need to talk. Besides, I don’t think I relish the idea of being alone right now.”
Against her better judgment and the rules banging away inside her head, Ash accepted the blonde’s invitation and followed her inside. Settling down on the chesterfield, Ash accepted Scribbs’ offer of a glass of wine, but the ensuing silence became unbearable, so Ash decided to be the first to break it.
“You know, I always worried you’d get in trouble with some tosser’s angry wife or girlfriend.”
Scribbs chuckled a bit and then became serious once again. “You worry after me?”
“Well, of course I do.”
“Thank you.” The blonde said softly as she moved to embrace the brunette.
Ash held up her hands defensively. “Mind my rules, Scribbs.”
“Oh bugger your rules, Ash! Rules are meant to be broken.”
A look akin to horror stole over Ash’s face. “They most certainly are not meant to be broken! They’re rules after all!”
They’d had this discussion many times before, and Ash usually came out on top, but certainly not for lack of trying on Scribbs’ part. And so, she decided that this would be the day that she’d get the brunette to finally let go of one of her blasted rules – if only for a moment.
“Well, I don’t care!” The blonde stated with force. “I could’ve died today, and I need a bloody hug.”
Suddenly, Ash found her arms full as the blonde hugged her fiercely and, in that moment of closeness, of raw emotion, something broke free in both women. Moving apart slightly, they gazed into each other’s eyes and then slowly – ever so slowly – they closed the distance and shared their first kiss. They moved apart again and stared at each other in wonder.
“I thought you said rules were not meant to be broken.”
Ash closed her eyes for a moment and then leaned in to kiss her partners lips again. “Yes, that’s true.” another kiss… “But, in this case – for just a few of them mind you,” yet another kiss... “Scribbs, you are the exception.”