by Erin Griffin
Fandom: Murder In Suburbia/The 4400 crossover (AU/uber) Hell, I'll throw in some Tipping the Velvet in there, too.
Summary: While in quarantine, Returnees Katherine Ashurst and Emma Scribbins help each other with their new powers.
Disclaimer: ITV owns Murder in Suburbia, and I am not sure who owns 'The 4400' (and sexy, sexy Agent Diana), but it isn't me. I also don't own Kitty Butler, as she is a character of Sarah Waters' lovely book Tipping the Velvet.
Note: This is what happens when you think about crossovers for too long (I have another MiS crossover coming sometime after IDF, after Fallen starts to wrap up a little more, which won't be for quite some time). This is AU of both shows, especially MiS.
Returnee #1008: Katherine L. Ashurst
Date Missing: August 4, 1887
She watched as the doctor or scientist tried once more to prick her finger as he had done for the others stuck with her in quarantine. He got the same result as he had gotten the other dozen times he'd tried, as well as the hundreds of times all the others before him had. He made a joke about having thick skin, but with the heavy American accent (from the south, she assumed) and new phrases that was over a century apart from what she knew, the man might as well have been speaking in German. She knew it had been a joke, a way to calm her down some, but it hadn't worked. She hadn't any reason to laugh at any of his jokes, even if she had understood him.
She knew that everyone she'd ever known were long dead. While some of those around her had only been gone a few months or a couple of years, she had surpassed not only a new century, but a new millennium. As far as she could tell from all the others, she'd been missing the longest. Many think the girl, Maia Ruthledge was, but she… She got the feeling she was the first, and then whoever took them all backed off for a while before coming back for the others. Like the others, she didn't know where she would go if these 'doctors' were to ever let them go, not that she could go anywhere. She was far behind all the others in the medical exams. Though she felt perfectly fine, she knew she had come back wrong. Any medicine she'd been given to help with sleep or her nerves had no affect on her, nor had she needed them in the first place. She knew that because of this, she'd be the last to go, which was fine for her for now, as she had no one to run to.
Returnee #3782: Emma M. Scribbins
Date Missing: February 25, 1971
She couldn't seem to get comfortable in the clothes they'd given her. It was far too warm, and she was burning up. Her skin felt flush, and when she told one of the doctors there, they felt her forehead and frowned. That wasn't good at all. It meant more of their tests, more poking and prodding. God, would they ever let up? She wanted to go back home to see if her sister was still alive, if her parents were. She feared going home to find they'd all passed, but surely the Agency wouldn't let her go back without telling her so. And damn it, her beloved motorbike will be long gone, after so many blinking months of getting it started again.
Why was she so hot? It felt as if she was going to explode into flame and ashes at any moment. Was it just her? She'd had a slight fever when she first got to this place, but it had gone down the moment she saw that woman, the one that had been rumored to be the first taken. She wished she remembered her name, because as soon as she locked eyes with her, the fever went down almost instantly. She just wished she knew how.
Watching them trying to figure her out bored her. They never will, she knew, not when she couldn't even figure herself out. The man stared at her after his fourth attempt to draw blood with new equipment. He irked her, she decided. "Miss Ashurst, will you allow me to take a blood sample? It may prick, but I mean you no intentional harm."
What was he going o about? She already knew he was going to try and take her blood, so why was he asking her now? She felt more relaxed, though, since he had asked her instead of told her, and she nodded to him. He tried again, and she watched as the needle actually went into her skin this time. She winced, and the needle broke. The piece that was still in her skin pushed out, and the small wound closed as if nothing had just happened. "Wha-"
"Interesting," the doctor said. He wrote something down, then said, "I'm sorry. I'll be a bit gentler next time."
What was the most polite way to tell a twenty-first century American to sod off?
What do you remember before you returned? They keep asking her that, and her answer never changed. She remembered being on her motor bike with Angel or Chelsea behind her. Samantha, that was the bird's name. From uptown, cute as hell, and just begging for a bit of danger. Scribbs wasn't sure how much danger she could give her, but before she could start the engine and they could find out, she saw a brightness of white behind her eyes, right before Samantha started screaming. After that, she woke up standing, slumped against a tree. Hundreds of people were walking around just as confused as she was.
She told him this once again. She liked the fact that he could care less that she was about to have sex with another woman. He just wrote it down, making one more note to try and find Samantha to see what she may have seen and why she screamed. She didn't tell him that Samantha might not have been her real name, that it could have been an alias so that her rich friends didn't find out about her true desires. She let the doctor 'hmm' and 'huh', then walk away with his notes.
Deep in her gut, she knew she shouldn't have snuck out of her home the night she had been taken. Millie would've known right away that she was off to see her friend, also named Katherine but changed to Kitty for show, perform at one of the underground establishments. She just couldn't stay any longer. She didn't know who George had been speaking to, but he had become impatient to conceive a child. He didn't know how sick to her stomach she felt every time they'd tried. She couldn't do it again that week. Her friend Kitty told her about the show she was finally able to put on, and had lent her some of her costumes so that she could sneak out and walk around without anyone looking twice at her. Most would assume that she was just an errand boy on his way home.
Kate had been to this establishment before. It was rumored to cater to the undesirable crowd, the queer. When she first realized her shame, she met Kitty, who could see it in her, that she loved women in a way she shouldn't. Kitty had helped her, but though she had many chances to explore these strange desires, she chose not to. Though she had married George to please her parents, she still made vows before him and God, and she couldn't break them. She still went there to feel a little more comfortable in her own skin. It felt nice to know that she wasn't the only one who felt this way, and that there was even a term for who she was. That night, the night she disappeared, she never made it to her friend Kitty's first performance, something that she regretted. As she walked down the streets and through the ally ways, looking behind her the whole way, she longed for a better coat right before she felt her eyes get heavy. She couldn't understand why, but she couldn't keep her eyes open, and she'd felt fine and awake before then. When she opened her eyes finally, she was in the midst of many people, but it was morning, and she didn't know where she was.
She watched as people around her were given a snack after their blood had been taken in a bigger portion, her eyes landing on the woman from before, the one who could cool her down with one glance. Two men and one woman stood around her, speaking to her in murmurs. She wanted to go to her and somehow get them to go away, as she looked uncomfortable, almost scared. She looked around her small corner of Quarantine Room 2, and found the apple she'd been given with her lunch but hadn't eaten. She walked over to the other woman and sat beside her. Without a word she handed the other woman the apple, ignoring the scientists/doctors who told her to go back to her own area. Slowly, the other woman took it from her with a puzzled expression.
"Thank you," she said. She took a bite from it, then looked surprised. "It's warm," she said when she'd finished chewing.
"I'm sorry about that. Everything I touch lately gets warm."
"I've come back wrong," the other woman agreed, "because they can't prick my skin."
"You look just fine to me," she told her, and saw a little color on the brunette's cheeks afterward. "Wherever we were, they did something funny to us, but I think we can control it, don't you?"
"Why would I want to be harmed?" the brunette woman asked her, a question that left a silence between them.
"I don't know," she said after a moment, then decided to change the subject to get to know this fascinating woman. "I hear you're from an area near London," she began.
"I was. I assume I've been presumed dead for quite some time now."
"Same with all of us," she replied, "but we could start anew somewhere."
"You mean me and you?"
"Well… I guess so, yeah. We could live close, remain friends. At least we won't be Billie no-mates when we go home."
The other woman thought about this and nodded. "I think I would like that, if I knew anything about you."
"You don't need to. We've both gone through this, and that already creates a bond between us that can't be matched. My name is Emma, or as you lot call me-" she stopped, casting a look at the doctors in front of them, "Returnee #3782."
"Emma…" the other woman said slowly. "My name is Katherine Ashurst of Middleford," she told her.
"My sister moved there last- Well, in 1970." Scribbs offered.
"I'd sure like to go back there to see how it's changed."
"It was very suburban, nice houses and parks, a couple of schools and such. I am not sure if it has changed so much in thirty years." She told Katherine. "I like your name. Katherine," she said.
"My brother often called me Kate for short, though," the other woman said. She nodded.
"My gang called me Scribbs for short. We had two Emmas in it then, and we got confused a lot."
"Scribbs? You're called such a name in public?"
"Yeah," she said. Kate seemed to think on this, but said nothing for a while.
"I keep forgetting that I'm from a different time. I assume the rules of behavior aren't as strict." Kate looked at the short blonde hair, a style that mostly men even in her time had worn.
"I'd say not, but the life I lived was hardly something people praised. But yeah, things have gotten progressive and better. I would love to see what has happened in the last thirty years. I'd love to experience the new things out there now," she said with a small laugh.
"I'd love to experience it as well," Kate said sadly, "but until I can give these people a sample of my blood, I won't go anywhere."
"They already got your blood sample. They've been gone for a couple of minutes now," she told Kate. She watched with a grin as Kate looked down at her arm in wonder. Sure enough, there was a bandage there. When Kate looked back at her, she received a wink.
She was in awe of the stories Scribbs told her about the new technologies out there from her time to her new friend's time. Though she had heard talk of the Benz Motorwagon in the year before she was taken, she never thought the idea would take off as it had. Everyone had something like that, the automobile or Scribbs' motorbike. Most of the stories the blonde told her involved the adventures she'd had, the women she'd had while she was on that bike.
She found herself enjoying her talks with Emma, and discovering new technology with her. She liked getting to know her and this new world around them. The fact that Emma seemed to like being near her, too, made it a lot better. It shocked her to learn that Emma liked the pleasures of the flesh with women. To be so open about that was admirable, as most women never knew the name of such pleasure in her time, let alone can speak it out loud. She'd known about toms, even going so far as to calling herself a tom, though never out loud. Whenever she visited the establishment that Kitty was to perform in that night, there had always been poetry read, written by Sappho and Emily Dickens, as well as some new writers that had found courage and voice.
As she lay in her bed, she thought on this and some of the things Scribbs had said about being neighbors somewhere after getting out of quarantine. Scribbs had been by her side whenever there was a test requiring blood or hair, and only then could the doctors get what they wanted from her. She found it interesting that she could keep her from having the thick skin, as if her defenses went down when she spoke to Scribbs. She listened to the rustling and murmurs from the beds around her, something she normally could tune out. However, she looked over to her friend's part of the room to see her thrashing in bed. She sat up, and a moment later, Scribbs did as well, grabbing at her clothes and moving away from her bed.
"Help me. I'm on fire, please… Help me," she gasped as if parched, ripping her shirt completely off. In the low lighting of the quarantine room, she could see the blonde's fear. A friend of Scribbs', someone she's speak to a lot if she herself was in another testing room, came to her aid, but as soon as he got a couple of feet to her, he backed away again as if burned.
"I can't, I'm sorry. It's like an oven where you are." He called. She wished she knew his name.
The lights suddenly came on, and those near Scribbs moved away quickly with cries of pain.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Emma called to them, her own face contorted with guilt and pain.
She stood up and took a few steps towards Scribbs, unsure what she herself could do to help. She hoped that maybe her skin was thick enough to do something for Scribbs, if only to comfort her. She felt someone, an agent, pull on her hand. "I know you want to go to your friend, but you can't. She'll burn you."
"I can't just stand her watching her. I've got to at least talk to her. Please! She did the same for me," she said back. She looked into the agent's eyes. Agent Skouris, her name was, and the other brunette woman nodded to her.
"Don't get too close," she said, letting her go. She followed her for a few steps, but then stopped. "Come back!" she called once she could feel the heat. She only took a few more steps forward. This way, the agent couldn't grab her.
"Kate please, stay back! I can't see you get burned."
"Emma, we've got to calm down. Maybe then you'll cool down. Remember, you said we can control it!" she called over the shouts of new coming agents, some in strange body suits.
"I can't, I-" she ducked down towards the floor, her head going into her hands. "No! Don't come any closer Kate, please!"
Ash hadn't realized that she had been still stepping to her new friend's side. She'd gotten closer to her than the other friend had, and she still felt nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps she was right, that her skin was thick enough for her to be there for her. She took several more steps, realizing that the heat still didn't reach her. She held out her hands to Emma. "I'm right here. You aren't hurting me at all. See? Look at me, Emma. I'm right here," she repeated. The blonde looked up at her slowly, tears in her eyes. She then slowly stood to her full height, her eyes locking onto hers. "I will help you the same way you helped me. Remember, we're going to leave this place and go live somewhere- close, so we won't be alone. We could work together, even. I'm not sure what type of job we could get in this new age, but we could find out together-"
Suddenly, Scribbs arched her back, her arms fell limp to her side, and she screamed as her body burst into flame, lighting up the room even further. People around them gasped and moved further away, some screaming. Even the men in body suits couldn't get any closer to them, and stayed at the door. "I can't control this. I'll burn up and die-"
"No, you can!" She said this as she reached out for Scribbs' shoulders, she herself moving so that she had her in an embrace. The whole time she felt nothing of the flames and the shudder of the woman under her fingers. She then saw the fire around them both flicker. It amazed her that she didn't feel a thing, as if she was just touching any other person. "If I am touching you, you must be cooling down," she murmured into Scribbs' ear. "Can you feel yourself cooling down?"
"Think about it. You are not on fire," she said to her. There was a pause between them as the fire around the flickered again and then tapered out completely. She ran a hand down Emma's back to sooth her, and the blonde shivered again, as if a chill ran down her back where the hand had touched.
"I'm okay," Emma said hoarsely. "I'm not overly warm or anything. You saved me!" Her arms lifted again and surrounded her in a hug, leaving a kiss on her cheek, and only then did she feel any warmth.
Returnees 1008 and 3782: Ash and Scribbs
May 2, 2005, Middleford
"So, what do you want to do now? Go for a drink? Ask for a transfer? Commit suicide?"
"I need some air,"
"Me too," Scribbs agreed. Both women heard the music of 'Only You' in the background, which only made Ash walk faster. "I think I should buy every record of that song and hold a bonfire."
"Sounds great," Ash replied. She hurried to their car and went to the left side. As soon as she got into the car, her speech went back to the old fashioned patterns that she hadn't gotten fully out of the habit of using. Since Ash and Scribbs left Washington State and went back to England, they had to go through with the paperwork to set up new lives. They went through training together and started out as security before becoming detectives in Middleford. They thought it would be an easy job, seeing how small the town was, but they were wrong.
As they promised each other, they stayed close, not that you could ever live too far away, being in Middleford. Scribbs took to new technology quicker than Ash did, as she had so much to learn, but the blonde was patient in teaching her. Slowly but surely, she got the hang of basic equipment such as the television and music players, though computers still sometimes frustrated her. The one on her desk was mostly for show, anyhow. Somewhere down the line, Kate had become Ash as a way to further keep her identity, especially from anyone in her brother's family line, and possibly finding out. Though she and Scribbs were part of the famed 4400 and they were known all around the world, not all of the pictures were aired, as there weren't any older pictures of Ash from before. She hoped no one had done their homework on the Internet and learned that a Katherine Ashurst disappeared in 1887 and suddenly there is a Kate Ashurst that showed up back in Middleford long after the Ashurst line died out when George's son from his next marriage passed away.
Scribbs took well to coming back to Middleford. She had a reunion with her sister, who had seen her picture on the news about a month after the 4400 were found, and she told her how long their parents had looked for her. She met her niece, who was a year older than Scribbs was. They, too, didn't live far, but they moved to a town a couple of hours away from Middleford. They knew about Scribbs' new powers of heat, though she hadn't gone too much into it. She was afraid of scaring them away. Scribbs had gotten the hang of controlling her powers, though when she got angry, she still made the atmosphere hot. She'd yet to burst into flames again like she had in quarantine, but Ash noticed the way Scribbs glared at the driver in front of them that day.
"Emma, what's the matter?"
"Nothing," the blonde replied quickly, her tone clipped. It was obvious that she was lying.
"Are you angry that I kissed Sullivan?"
"For god sake, Scribbs, that first time was him kissing me, and just now, I was making a point!" There was no reply. "You know he doesn't like me in that way, so maybe you've got a chance-"
"Oh, you know I don't give a toss about Sullivan. Er- Not in that… You already know," Scribbs spat out.
Ash could suddenly smell the faintness of burning plastic. "Scribbs, the steering wheel," Ash said. Scribbs looked down at it, and then lifted one hand off of the wheel before switching to the other in attempt to cool her hands down. "Why are you angry that I kissed Sullivan, then?" Ash asked.
"After one deduction, I thought it would be obvious, and seriously, I have been spending two days trying to tell you," Scribbs said, flicking on the turn signal and twisting the steering wheel. Ash said nothing, unsure if she was willing to have this conversation. There had been times when Ash wondered about her friend's behavior, especially over the last couple of days. Part of her was glad for it, since she felt the same way, but instinct and her upbringing in the 1860's still screamed for her to deny she was a tom, even though it was more accepted now. "I'd hoped our friendship could mean more somehow. I wasn't lying when I said that our experience as the 4400 made a bond between us that no one would understand. Did you know that even without touch, even if you didn't have the power you have now, that you're the only one who could cool me down? When I look at you, I get shivers down my spine, but in that good way. Just… thought you should know."
Ash stared at the road in front of them. "Your whole body could be on fire and I won't feel it, but when you kiss me on the cheek, or hug me, or touch my hand… there's heat," she admitted, keeping her eyes away from her partner.
"I couldn't be a tom where I'm from. It was a different time, but to me it felt like only four years ago. Even if there was risk of someone harming me, my power now gives me the ability to stop it. But old habits die hard. Isn't that how the saying goes?"
"You forget that I, too, am not from this time. I know I was supposed to hide who I was- who I loved- and to pretend, because it was dangerous, but I never did." Scribbs thought for a moment. "It hurts to watch your… 'old habits'," she said.
"It hurts to see yours, too," Ash replied without hesitation.
"They were all stories, you know, to make you jealous. If I'd known-"
"It doesn't matter," Ash said. Scribbs stared at her and knew she was lying.
"I'm sorry," Scribbs finally murmured.
"I am, too," Ash replied.
"We can go slow," Scribbs offered.
"I'd like that."
"No one will have to know. Hell, with a kiss like that, the office may never know."
"They'd know eventually," Ash replied, and that gave Scribbs hope.
"Then that's good enough for me."