"Well, isn't this just lovely?"
Scribbs grinned widely at her partner. Ever since Sullivan had assigned them this case Ash had been walking around with a face like a smacked arse. Although quite what her problem was Scribbs wasn't sure.
"What's the big deal, Ash? It's just your ordinary, average, common or garden armed robbery." The brunette raised one perfectly sculpted eyebrow. Scribbs chuckled. "Well...maybe not quite average..."
"Scribbs, we're in a sex shop!" Ash exclaimed. "And not only that, the robbers' haul included..." she rifled through her notes, "seventeen Rampant Rabbits, twelve Pocket Rockets, twenty five other vibrators of various sizes and colours, and one vibrating rubber duck."
"I believe it's called 'I Heart my Rubber Ducky'."
"I don't care what it's bloody called. The point is, what kind of robbers take all of that and ignore the money?"
Scribbs considered the question carefully for a moment. "The kind who've organised a lesbian hot tub party and underestimated the turnout?"
Ash snapped her note book closed. "Ha bloody ha."
Scribbs laughed. "Oh for God's sake, Ash, lighten up." She grabbed a pink sparkly toy from one of the shelves and waved it in her partner's face. "Like you don't have a knicker drawer stuffed with these at home."
Ash flushed the colour of the toy and angrily grabbed it from Scribbs' hands. "Not that it's any of your business, but no, I don't."
Scribbs shook her head. "Liar."
Ash rolled her eyes but did not reply. Taking another look around the shop she screwed up her face in an approximation of disgust. "Honestly," she said. "What's the point of these things?"
"Uh...isn't that obvious?"
"No, I mean...what's wrong with the real thing?"
Scribbs shrugged. "The real thing doesn't vibrate." A grin broke out on her face. "Unless your boyfriend's got Parkinson's."
Ash held up a hand in front of her face. "You know what? Forget I asked." She turned her back on Scribbs and walked swiftly to the other end of the ransacked shop, desperately hoping she'd find something there to distract her from this conversation.
"Are you serious?"
No such luck.
"Serious about what?"
"About being a...toy-free zone."
Ash made no reply, but turned a deeper shade of red than she'd been sporting all day. Scribbs' face took on an expression of perverse delight.
"You are, aren't you? I didn't think there was a woman left still using manual transmission."
The brunette couldn't disguise the look of confusion which washed over her face. "What?"
Scribbs waggled her eyebrows in the style of Groucho Marx. "You know."
"What do I know?"
Scribbs wiggled her fingers suggestively. "Having a date with one of Rosy Palm's daughters?" Ash still looked confused. "Grinding your coffee bean? Parting the red sea? Playing tiddly-winks?"
Ash turned her head so she wouldn't have to look Scribbs in the eye. "Right, I think you've made your point Scribbs. If we can get back to matter at hand-"
Scribbs snorted with laughter at her partner's unintentional double entendre. Ash rolled her eyes. "How a twelve year old ever got to be a Detective Sergeant I'll never know."
"Oh, lighten up, Ash. I knew you were repressed but this is getting ridiculous."
Scribbs was grinning widely as she said this, but her smile gradually began to fade as she took in the tension in her partner's face. Her jaw was set, her neck was rigid, the vein in her temple looked about ready to pop. A horrible thought occurred to Scribbs.
"Ash...you do actually...have some experience in the topic under discussion, right?" It had seemed impossible but Ash actually began to look more uncomfortable than she had been before. A noise started to emerge from her throat which sounded like the grinding of teeth. Scribbs' eyes widened. "Oh shit, you don't, do you? But...you're thirty-three!"
Ash rounded on her partner. "Scribbs, this is the kind of conversation that can only end with a punch in the head."
"Enough! We're here to do a job and I plan to get on with it. Now, Detective Sergeant," she said, with particular emphasis on the rank, "I suggest you do the same."
Scribbs had the grace to look chastised. "Yes ma'am," she said. But with a gleam in her eye.
All things considered, Ash had almost never felt more relieved to be leaving work. Scribbs had been completely insufferable all day, making jokes that would have been cringe inducing in the worst Carry-On film and almost always on the brink of dissolving into hysterics. Normally Ash hated the part of the day when she and her partner were forced to part company. Not today. Today the most prominent thoughts on her mind were a drink, some comfort food and a long, long sleep.
Until, of course, the reached her front door and caught sight of her partner sitting on the doorstep grinning like a bloody Cheshire cat and holding a plain cardboard box.
"I thought you had the dentist?" Ash said as she unlocked the door.
"I lied," Scribbs replied airily as she breezed past Ash and made herself comfortable in the living room.
Ash closed the front door and followed, muttering under her breath. "Oh do come in, make yourself at home."
"What was that?"
"Nothing. So, where did you go when you weren't going to the dentist?" Ash flopped onto the sofa opposite Scribbs, pointedly not offering her anything. The last thing she wanted right now was to entertain Scribbs all night, especially if it was going to be the home leg of today's performance.
"Well," Scribbs began with an evil grin. "I was thinking about our little conversation earlier..."
Ash interrupted with a groan. "Oh, Scribbs, please don't start this again."
Scribbs feigned an innocent expression. "Start what?"
"All this nonsense about sex toys, coffee beans and manual transmission," Ash replied, flashing her partner a hard look.
"I just wanted to show you what you were missing."
Ash fixed her partner with a glazed look as a full colour tableau of all the things that statement could mean played out in her head. She shifted a little in her seat as an image of Scribbs giving her a demonstration in masturbation flitted across her suddenly overheated brain.
The fantasy was abruptly cut short as the plain cardboard box Scribbs had been carrying landed in her lap. "Enjoy!" the blonde said in a voice bubbling over with laughter. "I'll let myself out." And with that she was gone.
Ash took a few minutes to silently recover her wits. When her senses returned she decided she was far too grown up to be interested in what the box contained, stowed it under her bed where she supposed such thing were kept and turned her attention to the wine, food and sleep she'd been dreaming of earlier.
The phone ringing at 8.30 actually startled her out of a light sleep. A quick button-mash on the remote silenced the programme she'd been watching (a strange cross between The Apprentice and Ready, Steady, Cook) as she answered the phone.
Nonplussed, Ash tried out various possible meanings in her head before giving in.
"Well, how did you enjoy my little presents?"
Ash leaned back, closed her yes and tried to think of ways to derail this conversation before it went too much further.
"I often feel like my brain is going to seize up while talking to you, Scribbs, but you've outdone yourself this time."
"Ash, come on."
"No, let's just say this out loud so you can see how ridiculous you're being. I'm your superior officer. Earlier this evening you brought me a gift of what I assume are sex toys. You're now calling me up to check whether or not I've managed to have an orgasm." She paused, waiting for some sign of a response from the woman on the other end of the line. When none was forthcoming she added, "this is appropriate on your planet?"
"Yes," Scribbs replied impatiently. "Look, that stuff cost me sixty quid so will you just try them out? I'll expect a full report on my desk in the morning."
Ash didn't bother to reply, choosing instead to hang up and wonder just which episode of The Twilight Zone she had landed in and how exactly she was going to get out. One thing, however, she knew for certain - under no circumstances was she going to open that box.
When - a little later that night, in bed - she opened the box she discovered that Scribbs had included mini reviews of each item on Post-It notes. On the vibrating rubber duck she had written 'Just for fun...and because it made you blush.' On her brand new Rampant Rabbit Ash discovered the missive 'If this doesn't loosen you up I'll eat my old WPC helmet,' and on the Pocket Rocket Scribbs had penned 'This'll put you into orbit.'
Ash sighed, before deciding that she may as well give space flight a quick try.
Ten minutes later she felt quite ridiculous and completely numb below the waist. Scribbs's phone rang twice before she answered.
"It's me." Ash could practically hear Scribbs's smirk.
"Oh yes? What can I do for you?"
Ash sighed loudly. "Well, I just wanted to let you know that this space flight you promised me is turning out to be more of a Challenger disaster than an Apollo 11."
"Impossible!" Scribbs sounded genuinely outraged. "The Rocket never fails. You must be doing it wrong."
Ash choked out a laugh. "Evidently."
"What are you thinking about?"
Ash did a quick double take. "What am I what?"
"Thinking. What are you thinking about?" Scribbs repeated. "The brain is the most important sexual organ for a woman you know."
Ash pushed to the back of her mind the little voice which was reminding her what a bizarre conversation this was. "Well...actually I was thinking about the Jacobs case from last week, and whether or not we should get the wife in for a second interv- what's funny?" She had been interrupted by a fit of near hysterics from her partner.
"Jesus Christ, Ash," Scribbs managed to gasp. "You're thinking about re-interviewing a suspect while you're trying to have a wank?"
Well, when she put it like that it did sound a little ridiculous.
"Well, what would you suggest?" Ash asked haughtily, hoping her tone would cover her embarrassment.
"Well...if you really can't drag your mind away from work you could at least imagine something...well sexy."
Ash closed her eyes. Scribbs's voice had turned slightly husky as she said the word sexy, and Ash couldn't think of any other reason why she'd just felt a little twitch between her thighs. "Such as?" Her own voice seemed to have taken on a deeper tone.
"Well..." Scribbs hesitated. "How about...Sullivan."
Ash screwed up her face. No. No, no, no. That would never work.
"Yeah, Sullivan," Scribbs continued. "Sullivan pushed up against his desk..."
Scribbs pushed up against Sullivan's desk, Ash's mind supplied. Her breath hitched slightly. "Okay..."
"Running your hands through his hair..."
Running her hands through gold silk, savouring the texture, the exquisite softness.
Soft and chaste to start, just enough to make their hearts clench. Then deeper, harder, more forceful, until Scribbs is moaning and writhing in her arms. Ash's breathing began to quicken. "Then what?" she managed, hoping Scribbs wouldn't notice the trouble she was having maintaining a semblance of composure.
"Then...and then..." Was it Ash's imagination or did Scribbs's breathing also seem a little laboured? "Then you undo his top button..."
Just enough to expose the delicate pulse pounding at the base of her throat, and to allow Ash's mouth to descend on it hungrily.
"And the next...and the next...and then you slip your hand inside my-his shirt." But Ash had noticed her slip. She opened her eyes and felt her heart leap into her mouth.
"Scribbs?" she asked incredulously, hardly daring to hope.
"Oh shit, shit, shit," she could hear her partner muttering. "Ash, I-"
"I wasn't thinking about Sullivan either," Ash said simply, cutting off what was likely to be a long and rambling explanation. There was a protracted silence.
"Oh," Scribbs replied at last. "Then you were-"
"Thinking about pushing you up against Sullivan's desk. About running my fingers through your gorgeous hair. About kissing those beautiful lips until you can't see straight. About unbuttoning your shirt and sliding my hands over your stomach-"
"Oh, yes," Scribbs moaned, interrupting. "Touch me Ash, please..."
Ash breathed hard through her nose. The air suddenly seemed exceptionally thick. "Where do you want me to touch you, darling?"
Ash felt a sudden throb between her legs. "Oh yes," she groaned. "I will. I will. God, I...I want to kiss you. Do you have any idea how long I've wanted to kiss you?" A noncommittal squeak was her only response. "A long time," she admitted. "Years."
"So kiss me," Scribbs breathed.
"I will," Ash replied. "I'm going to kiss you everywhere. Your lips...your cheeks...your throat..." she punctuated every pause with a soft moan and a kiss which connected heartbreakingly with empty air. "Your chest," she continued. "And those beautiful...gorgeous...amazing...breasts..."
Scribbs let out a strangled moan. "Ash..."
"Tell me what you're doing right now..."
Ash breathed deeply through her nose. "Well...I'm, ah, discovering that this gift of yours works rather well after all."
"Are...are you...wet?" Scribbs seemed to be having difficulty forming coherent sentences.
So was Ash. All she could really manage was a strangled, "yes..."
"Me too," Scribbs managed to reply. "I, uh, wish you could see the, ah, mess you're making."
"Mmmm..." Ash purred. "I ought to be cleaning that up. It's only polite."
"Oh, fuck, yes," Scribbs gasped.
"Touch yourself for me, darling," Ash whispered. "Be my hands...please..."
"Yes...God, Ash, I can't stop, I...I need..."
And then words were neither necessary nor possible. Ash closed her eyes tight and saw Scribbs, naked in her own bed, hand between her damp thighs, thrusting, writhing, desperate for Ash's touch. Her own body arched upwards as she imagined her tongue taking the place of the blonde's hand and then, with an almost pained wail, she thrust down onto her own hand once, twice...as promised; seeing stars.
All things considered it took rather a long time for her to recover her breath and her senses. The toy Scribbs had given her was still buzzing away happily against now over-sensitive flesh. She turned it off and put it away with a wince. "Scribbs?"
A loud exhalation was her answer. "I..." Scribbs began. "I really need to kiss you. Now."
Ash nodded. "Yes," she said. "I think that would be in order."
"I can be there in ten minutes."
Ash nodded, happily ignoring the fact that Scribbs's flat was twenty minutes away if you followed the speed limit. There were some perks to being a police officer.
"Right." Ash heard Scribbs tumbling out of bed. "Hey, Ash?"
"D'you see the point of toys yet?"
Ash rolled her eyes. "Brat." Scribbs's laughter floated over the phone-line. "Could you just get over here please? I'm stark naked and in desperate need of a post-orgasmic kiss from the extremely annoying blonde who caused the orgasm."
That got Scribbs moving quickly enough. And as Ash lay back against her pillows waiting for Scribbs to arrive she allowed herself to admit privately that, yes, actually, toys were rather fun after all. Not that she'd ever let Scribbs know she'd been right. She would never live it down.