DISCLAIMER: South of Nowhere and its characters are the property of The N network, no infringement intended.
SPOILERS: Takes place after Season 2 eps The Morning After and Behind The Music.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By LN James
Spencer slipped the folded piece of paper into her back pocket as she started up the stairs. After Mrs. Davies had denied her access once before, Ashley had scribbled down the security code to her house and gave it to Spencer. Just in case my mom's being the normal bitch that she is, she had said.
When Ashley didn't show up for school today or call, she had Clay drop her off. The blinds were drawn in Ashley's room but Spencer could make out a figure, sprawled under the covers. She softly sat down and Ashley stirred, her arm moving from across her eyes as she turned towards the blond.
Spencer smiled, "Hey back."
Reaching over, her fingers brushed the hair off of Ashley's forehead. "You okay? I was worried."
With a sigh, Ashley closed her eyes, "Yes. No. Maybe."
Spencer nodded. This was pretty much how it had been since her dad had died: Ashley admitting she either felt nothing or felt everything all at once. She was an emotional wreck one minute, zombie the next. After her birthday party on Friday, when Spencer had stayed the night, she thought they had come to an understanding, or at least had found a way to connect a little deeper. But then, the rest of the weekend, she heard nothing from Ashley, and nothing today.
She looked around the room and saw it was a mess, clothes and books and empty soda cans strewn here and there. Glancing over, she took stock of the nightstand next to Ashley's bed. Kleenex and magazines, the remote, pictures, and a few small bottles. Her eyes skimmed over words like alprazolam and diazepam in Mrs. Davies' name. Taking a breath, she hesitated.
"So, how long you been asleep?"
Ashley opened her eyes and sat up a little, leaning on her elbows as her eyes scanned the digital clock. "A couple of hours."
When she saw Spencer's concerned look, she added, "I had to go see the lawyers with Mom and Kyla this morning, fill out some stupid paperwork, and I just could not deal with school today. Sorry I didn't call."
The not calling thing was becoming a habit. Spencer nodded again and then let her fingers rest on the edge of the night stand, biting her lip before she spoke, "Did you take these?"
Glancing over, Ashley tilted her head, trying to keep it light, "Don't worry, I only took what's prescribed. Relax, it's not like you walked into Girl Interrupted or anything."
Spencer didn't find it amusing. She let her eyes search Ashley's face as she furrowed her brow, "I don't understand why someone would need those kinds of drugs though."
With a rueful smile, Ashley looked at her, "I hope you never do, Spencer."
Spencer was quiet and didn't respond, instead choosing to look down into her lap at her hands. Ashley reached over and took one, bringing it to her lips before she spoke.
"Spence, sometimes I just need to check out, turn my brain off, stop thinking, stop feeling everything. You know that." Shrugging, she looked up at Spencer, "They help."
Spencer closed her eyes and took a breath. She could deal with the bitchiness, could deal with the distance from time to time, the need for Ashley to forget. Her dad's death was still very, very new and raw. But she couldn't understand one thing.
"Ashley, if you can't feel anything anymore, what about your feelings for me? Do the drugs take that away too?"
They settled into silence after that until Ashley rolled over and pressed herself against Spencer where she sat on the edge of the bed, Ashley's face buried against the warmth of her leg. Spencer's hand drifted down and moved through dark hair and rubbed slow circles on Ashley's back. Taking a deep breath, Spencer cast her eyes upwards, sending a silent entreaty to the heavens, not for herself, but for the girl next to her.
Spencer still believed, she still prayed.
Hours later, Ashley awoke, alone. Glancing at the clock, she saw a piece of paper folded on the nightstand. After turning on the light next to her bed, she reached for it. There in Spencer's neat handwriting, was a letter:
I had to leave after you fell back asleep. Glen texted and said Mom wanted me back for dinner so he came and got me. Sorry I couldn't stay longer.
But I wanted to tell you something and I wanted to write it down so it's permanent and something you can hold. You try not to let anyone see how much you're hurting, but I know. I get to see the real Ashley Davies that no one else does, even when you try to hide yourself from me too. I want you to know that your secret is safe with me. I'm not going to tell anyone that Ashley is human and that she has feelings she can't handle and maybe she's a little bit afraid too, just like the rest of us. Here's the deal. I'm not scared of you or what you're going through. I am stronger than you know. And I'm not going anywhere. That's the bottom line here Ash. I want you to understand that I am not going anywhere. Got it?
But I also want you to know that I'm not going to sit by and watch you deal with this by taking drugs or drinking yourself to death. I know you, Ash, I know you're tempted to run. Please don't.
The next time you need an escape or you need to forget, I want you to choose me first, okay? I want to be your only drug, Ashley. Take as much of me as you need or want. I'm pretty much an unlimited supply. I'll never run out. Ever.
Ps. CALL ME in the morning!
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