DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Never were. Not making any $$. Don't HAVE any $$. Don't sue.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: My first SoN fic. I haven't seen all the episodes; so, bear with me while I learn the characters.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: All but mostly 'Friends with Benefits'.
Down to One
By Aeryn Sun
After Maggie left, Spencer turned her attention to her unconscious girlfriend, leaning close to the older girl's ear.
"Ash? Ashley can you hear me?" she whispered. Ashley groaned and tried to turn away from the noise in her ear.
"Spencer?" Clay called softly from the doorway. "Is everything all right?" Spencer sighed and shook her head.
"No, it's not," she admitted, running a tired hand through her hair. "She...God, Ashley's out cold and Maggie says she's crashing from a drug high and I don't know what to do." Since it was Clay, she felt comfortable enough to be totally honest with him. Her brother entered the room, closing the door behind him before he approached his sister who was still kneeling beside the bed.
"Did she say what she took?" he asked in his usual non-judgmental way. He simply wanted to help. Spencer shook her head again.
"No, she didn't know any specifics. She mentioned cocaine and pills she saw someone else with so who knows? It could be anything," she said, growing angry at Ashley's poor coping mechanisms. Still, she knew that getting upset with Ashley would only cause more problems and right now that was the last thing either of them needed.
"See if you can wake her up," Clay suggested. "I'll wet down some towels." He left for the bathroom, leaving Spencer again alone with the prone Ashley.
"Aw baby, what have you done to yourself?" she asked softly. "Ashley, Ashley wake up it's me Spencer." she gently shook the older girl.
"No," Ashley whimpered, trying to move away but too weak to succeed. "Lemme 'lone. Wan' Spencer." Despite the gravity of the situation, Spencer found herself smiling, immensely relieved that even as high and altered as Ashley was, she was asking for her. It gave her hope that they could get through this, all of it.
"I am Spencer, baby," she pointed out a little louder. "I need you to wake up, Ashley. Open your eyes and look at me."
"Spen'er hate me," Ashley mumbled. "'m dirty. Spen no wan' me." Tears spilled down over Spencer's face at the sad, lost tone to her girlfriend's voice, even muffled as it was by the dirty pillow near her face.
"I don't hate you, Ashley," she said evenly. "You are not dirty, honey. And I do want you. Right now I want you to wake up and please be all right."
"Go now," Ashley sighed. Spencer frowned.
"'Go'? Go where, Ashley?" she asked, fear beginning to creep into her voice. There was a tinge of something terrifying in Ashley's voice now and it scared the blonde.
"Go," Ashley repeated a little stronger this time as she started regaining consciousness. "Le'v...free Spence...be gone..." Spencer shivered as Ashley rolled herself over so that she was on her back facing the ceiling.
"Where are you going to go?" she wondered, hoping to pull an explanation from Ashley while she was mentally clouded and not able to hide anything.
"Hell," came the dark answer as finally, whiskey shaded orbs opened and gazed hazily at Spencer.
"Hell? Why are you going to go to hell?" Spencer was lost. She was pretty sure that she was interpreting Ashley's words, as drunken and slurred as they were, correctly. Ashley wanted to die and for whatever reason, believed that she was going to go to hell. Spencer hoped that she was understanding her girlfriend wrong even though she knew she was right.
"'m bad," Ashley said in a childlike voice. Her eyes were glossy with more than just the aftereffects of the drugs she'd taken. Tears began to leak from the corners of her eyes, down her cheeks to disappear into the hair at her temples. Spencer brushed a few strands away from the eyes she adored trying not to add her own to the count.
"You are not bad, Ashley," she whispered, hoping to get through the haze of pain and drugs Ashley was caught in. Ashley nodded sadly.
"Yeah, y'am. 'm bad, an' ugly, an' stupid," she hiccuped. Spencer shook her head.
"No you are not!" she responded strongly. She leaned down and wrapped her arms around the frighteningly fragile girl on the bed in front of her, pulling her up into a sitting position and holding her tightly. She wasn't going to let go, figuratively or literally, because she knew that if she did, she would truly lose the girl she loved.
"Lemme go! Lemme go!" Ashley cried, struggling against Spencer's grip. The blonde only squeezed tighter.
"No! I am not going to let you go! No, Ashley stop fighting me!" she called out to the distraught girl who was now screaming loudly to let her go and screaming Spencer's name frantically. Clay appeared behind Spencer, unable to do anything other than watch in horror.
After a few moments, Ashley's struggles ceased and she stilled in her girlfriend's arms. Spencer pulled away slightly.
"Ashley?" she asked carefully. Brown eyes looked back at her, somewhat clearer than they had been moments before.
"I'm gonna be sick..." Ashley whimpered.
After twenty minutes of violent vomiting on Ashley's part, Clay bundled the shivering form, now spent and out cold again, into his arms and carried her to the car. She hadn't been coherent again after announcing that she was going to be sick, just leaning over to throw up in the waste basket that Clay had provided the moment she had spoke. Spencer had rubbed the sick girl's back as she was sick, whispering soothing words of comfort.
In between bouts of vomiting, she'd washed and inspected the cut below Ashley's eye, hoping that it didn't need stitches and plotted revenge on Paige that involved many interesting and creative ways of injuring her. She wanted to hurt the surgically enhanced girl severely, make her feel as scared and hurt as she knew Paige had made Ashley feel. But she shoved away those thoughts to concentrate on her girlfriend.
She rubbed the cool wet clothes Clay had gotten for her over Ashley's flushed skin, over her neck and face, down over her arms and wrists trying to cool her down since she seemed now to be hot to the touch. Spencer didn't know much about drug withdrawal or anything else and Ashley's present condition scared her.
She sat in the back of Clay's car with Ashley, the brunette's head in her lap. Her hair was soaked with sweat from her activities and she was pasty white. Spencer was scared that there was something seriously wrong but Clay tried to reassure her that it was probably best that she throw all the toxins back up so that they didn't poison her system.
The ride home took twice as long as it should have since Ashley kept gagging and Clay pulled over to let Spencer hang the ill girl out the door. Ashley was coming to off and on but still had no idea where she was or what was going on around her. She shoved at Spencer, trying to get her away but the blonde held fast. She knew that even though Ashley was disoriented, when this was over, she would appreciate everything.
"We're home," Clay announced softly. He looked in the rear view mirror and sighed. Ashley's head was on Spencer's shoulder, lolling about as the car came to a stop. He was getting concerned at her seeming violence towards Spencer. He also noticed, however, that she didn't know that it was Spencer holding her at the moment. And her muttered whimpering was her calling for her girlfriend.
"Need me to help you get her upstairs?" he asked gently. Spencer nodded. Ashley was like a ton of bricks in her lap and she knew she couldn't move her on her own. She was thankful that Clay was there, offering his help without comment or recrimination. She knew that of all the Carlin's, Clay was the most straight-laced and straight edge. Yet, he said nothing when Spencer knew that Glen would be mouthing off, nonstop.
"Here, let me take her," he offered, taking the precious form from Spencer and scooping her up to carry her. He was struck again, like he had been in the hotel, by how light the brunette teen really was. She was tiny and seemed overly fragile especially at the moment as she shivered in his arms. He let Spencer open the door and as quietly as he could, carried his cargo up the stairs to his sister's room, setting her gently onto the bed.
"You need anything, Spencer?" he asked as Ashley rolled over slightly, grasping a pillow to her face and smiling. She muttered a happy 'Spencer' into the bedding and then seemed to drift off to sleep. Spencer shook her head.
"Nah, you've already helped us so much, Clay, thank you," she said tiredly, hugging her brother tightly. "I owe you." Clay smiled as he pulled away.
"You don't owe me anything, Spence," he said lovingly. "This is what big brother's do. Well, call me if you need anything, OK? If she's not better in a few hours, wake me and we'll take her to the hospital."
"And pray that Mom isn't on duty," Spencer sighed, rolling her eyes. "Ah, yes, 'you remember the comment you made Mom about Ashley being a bad influence? Well, she's still not but I think she's overdosed on drugs, could you fix that?' She'd kill me. I'd never hear the end of it." Clay gave her another small hug.
"You'll get this sorted out with Ashley, Spencer," he assured her. "You're smart and you take great care of your girl. So, just get some rest and I'll check on you before school."
"OK, thanks, goodnight, Clay," she replied, turning to her girlfriend who was sprawled out crookedly on the bed at this point. She heard her brother shut the door and sighed again, sitting on the edge of the bed to observe Ashley.
"Oh, Ashley what have you done?" she wondered out loud.
"Made it g'way," came the muffled response. Spencer jumped, startled and then moved to the other side of the bed where Ashley's face was turned.
"Are you awake, Ash?" she asked, getting close to the other girl's face. Ashley's eyes were still closed but her breathing indicated that she was indeed conscious.
"Made what go away?" Spencer prompted her. She watched Ashley attempt to shrug and wondered how coherent the older girl really was.
"Th' noise," she muttered. Spencer frowned.
"Noise? What noise?" she tried to understand. She heard Ashley grunt.
"In m' head," she replied. "Noisy...loud...hurts..." Spencer bit back a sob at the words.
"Is there too much going on inside here?" she questioned, softly scratching at the brunette's scalp, something she knew that soothed the smaller teen. She felt Ashley nod below her fingers.
"Too much," Ashley whimpered. Spencer let a few of her own tears drop, finally understanding some of her girlfriend's motivations for what she had done. Dredging up all the memories of the past, so soon after the incident with her mother had shaken Ashley to the core, made everything in her head, her secrets, her fears and insecurities scream at her endlessly. She hadn't known how to cope so she reverted to the one thing she knew would silence those noises, however temporarily.
Ashley had told her shortly after the beating by her mother that alcohol helped her to forget and Spencer had tried to keep her away from that dangerous vice. She might have been alright if Madison hadn't shaken the other, more sinister skeleton from her closet where Ashley had hidden it so well for so long. With that out in the bright light of day, Ashley had no doubt felt out of control and fled to find solace in the things that she used to do.
On a small level, the fact that Ashley had run to drugs and alcohol to cope instead of trying to talk it out with her hurt Spencer. But at the same time, she knew that there had never been anyone in the musicians life that she could count on before now and that sometimes Ashley forgot that Spencer was there and wasn't going to judge her on anything that may have happened or anything she said. Hopefully, someday Ashley would come to trust and understand that there was nothing she could do to make Spencer turn her back.
"I'm sorry, baby," she soothed. "I wish I could help."
"Spen'cer..." Ashley cried, fat tears starting to stream down her face. Spencer got into the bed and wrapped herself around her upset girlfriend.
"I'm right here, baby," she soothed. "Sshh, don't cry."
"Jus' wan' her ta love me," Ashley sniffled. "Don' hate me, Spencer...'m sorry."
"Sshh, honey," Spencer hiccuped through her own tears. She could feel the pain coming from the girl in her arms and it was killing her to be unable to make it better. "I do love you, Ashley. Please hear me."
"I don' mean ta be bad," Ashley sobbed. "'n dirty. I hurt. Want someone t' love me. Spencer, please..." Spencer held her tighter.
"I do, Ashley," she whispered. "Oh believe me, baby. I do."
Ashley let out a low groan at some point in the early afternoon, waking Spencer who was still lying in the bed holding her. The blonde blinked blearily awake and looked at the vulnerable girl in her arms.
"Ash? Ashley time to wake up," she whispered gently, brushing some stray, dirty hair away from Ashley's forehead. She was relieved to find it only slightly warmer than she felt it should be. Ashley groaned again, this time louder.
"Unnnn," she muttered moving slightly. Her eyes slowly opened and then squinted at the sunlight streaming in the room. "Ohhhhh I feel like shit."
"Are you going to be sick again?" Spencer asked, concerned. Ashley tilted her head slightly and looked at her in confusion.
"Spencer?" she squeaked. "How did I?...what happened?...when did I?" she sputtered.
"Clay and I brought you home," Spencer began to answer the unasked questions. "Maggie called from your phone and told me where you were so we went and got you. You were real sick..."
"I was fucked up, not sick," Ashley countered guiltily. She roughly pulled away from Spencer who let her go.
"Ashley..." she started, watching as all the tension and pain that was missing as Ashley slept crept back into the brunette's body; her shoulders were stiff, her face stony and she was fidgeting in anxiety. "Ash..."
"No, Spencer, I need to go..." Spencer launched herself at the smaller girl, wrapping her arms around her tightly, almost to the point of hurting them both.
"No!" Spencer said firmly, pulling to get Ashley back down onto the bed. "You are not going anywhere." Ashley struggled against her but her weakened condition made her tire quickly and she slumped back against the blonde, spent.
"Fine," she sighed angrily, an unfamiliar venom coating her words and causing a pain in Spencer's chest. Ashley had never used that tone with her; it was the same tone she'd used with her mother right before the older woman had beat her. It was full of hate and contempt and she didn't like hearing it directed towards her. "Just say it and get it over with."
"Say what?" Spencer frowned. Ashley was still tense in her arms, refusing to relax and it wounded Spencer that she was being shut out.
"Come on, Spencer," Ashley growled. "Just get it outta your system. Scream at me, hit me and tell me what a fucking waste of time I am so that we can both move on with our lives."
"Ashley, I don't..." Spencer began, stunned by Ashley's words. She thought that she'd made it clear that she'd never strike Ashley in anger ever again. She wasn't like that and the accusation stung her in its betrayal.
"Just do it!" Ashley cried. "Tell me what a horrible thing I am; a slut, a whore, a druggie whatever. Please, I can't take all this nice shit."
It struck Spencer like a bolt of lightening, making her skin tingle from the top of her scalp to her toes. Ashley had never done something like this, despite that week she disappeared and drank at her father's house. In the time they'd known each other, there had never really been a reason for Spencer to get insanely angry with her, at least not like this. Ashley was braced and ready to be punished the only way she was familiar with, a beating.
(She's waiting for me to hit her! It has nothing to do with trusting me or something; she just knows nothing else) Spencer realized with a horrible sick feeling. (God, how could no one have ever noticed this?)
"I'm not going to hit you, Ashley," she said simply, softly. "I'm not mad at you." Ashley spun around wildly to look at her.
"Why the fuck not?" she demanded to know. "I took off, got high, ran to an ex, got higher..." Her brows knit as she spoke. "I don't remember after a point but I know I probably did worse things. I'm bad and need to be punished." She was starting to look more confused than anything. The lingering after affects of the drugs confusing her perceptions of the situation making her think she was deserving of abuse.
"You are hurting and need to be helped," Spencer argued calmly. "I am not going to hit you, Ashley. Ever." Chocolate eyes darkened and narrowed.
"You did once," she hissed. "What's stopping you now? Come on, Spencer, hit me! You know I probably fucked someone other than you while I was gone. I'm nothing more than a dirty, ugly whore so HIT ME!"
Spencer visibly flinched at the words, the reminder of her actions that morning making the guilt return. No matter how many times Ashley told her that she understood, it never made the regret fade any. And after Spencer learned about the true nature of Ashley's home-life it only made things worse in her mind. To her, she was no better than Mrs. Davies with what she had done that morning out of anger.
"Stop throwing that in my face," she spat, letting her own anger show. She had no idea at that point how to reach Ashley. All the walls that she'd meticulously spent months chipping away at to reach Ashley were back up, brand new and thicker, stronger than ever.
"Fuck you!" Ashley growled, again struggling to free herself from Spencer's embrace.
"Stop this right now, Ashley Nicole Davies!" Spencer yelled, using the coldest, meanest tone she could. Ashley froze and then shivered, bracing herself from the attack she knew was coming. Spencer sighed.
"I am not now, or ever, going to hit you," she started, speaking slowly and evenly. "I made a mistake that morning and I know that you know that. As for what you did, taking off like that, I hated it but I don't hate you. Ashley, you are in so much pain, hurting so much that you tried to find a way to escape that, even for a moment. I can't hold something like that against you. It may not have been the best decision you've ever made, but I can understand what made you do it."
Ashley didn't respond; she simply remained still and shuddered every few moments. She was broken, inside and out and Spencer had no clue how to even begin to glue the pieces back together.
"I'm not mad at you," she finished gently, trying to get through to her girl. Slowly, Ashley lifted her head to look directly at her. Spencer choked on her own sob at the pain and guilt so prominent in those dark orbs.
"You should be," Ashley stated, defeated. Spencer shook her head.
"No, that's what you're used to," she replied. "And if I did that then life would just be too predictable." Ashley hung her head.
"I don't understand you," she said, her voice thick with the tears she now shed. Spencer placed a loving kiss on the brunette's temple as she held her.
"It's called love, Ashley," she explained. "Simple, complicated, messy, beautiful and unconditional love."
Blurry brown eyes looked intently at blue, searching for answers that weren't readily there. She knew that she had screwed up; expected to be punished for what she did and yet, here sat Spencer, patient and understanding, looking back at her without any malice or judgment in her eyes. It was something that Ashley had never experienced and while she knew that Spencer loved her, her mother claimed to love her as well. That never stopped the beatings, the abuses in their varied forms throughout her childhood. In her mind, it shouldn't have stopped it now, either.
"What are you looking for?" Spencer asked softly. Ashley continued to stare deep into her eyes and while at any other time Spencer would enjoy the attention, the confused and sad look on her girlfriend's face was bothering her.
"The flash," Ashley muttered making Spencer frown at the vagueness.
"What flash?" she wondered. Ashley let out a deep sigh, one that tore right through Spencer and finally looked away.
"The one I see right before my mother strikes," she whispered darkly. "The same one I see in Madison's eyes when I get a good dig in...or the one I've seen in Glen's eyes sometimes when I refuse to leave you. It has to be there somewhere and I just wanna see it so it can't catch me off guard."
Spencer felt her heart break for the millionth time since the truth about Ashley's childhood had hit the light. Part of her was upset that Ashley didn't trust her not to hit her but at the same time, part of her understood that the brunette didn't really know any better.
(A child only knows what it's taught and all you've been taught is pain, baby) Spencer thought sadly, reaching out carefully to stroke the side of Ashley's face. Despite the fact that the older girl tried to hide it, Spencer caught the slight flinch that rocketed through the girl's body.
"I could, would never hurt you like that, Ashley," she said softly, knowing that her own hurt over Ashley's newly surfaced fear of her and her punishment wasn't going to help either of them. "I'm not capable of it. Do you think that my father beats me or my brothers?" Ashley shook her head vehemently, not able to even picture that 'flash' in Arthur Carlin's eyes. Truth was, she couldn't see it occurring in Spencer's eyes either. The problem was, no matter how many times her girlfriend assured her that a beating wasn't imminent, she couldn't comprehend how Spencer wasn't enraged with her.
"No, your dad is too nice," she said softly. "But see, Spence, you're not bad so he didn't have to. I was bad..." She dropped her head and sighed, hearing every angry swear and insult her mother had ever thrown at her when she'd done something, or most times, nothing wrong. She was still waiting to hear the same evil, hate-filled words to spill from Spencer's mouth.
The last one echoed louder and longer than the others; it had always been her mother's favorite insult, especially after the 'renting' had begun. At the end of the parties, as Ashley sat curled up in a ball crying most times, shock still at others, her mother would laugh and taunt her, telling her that she was nothing better than a whore on a street corner. The difference was that she hadn't even been smart enough to figure out how to get a cut of the profits that her mother was making on her.
Then her mother would inevitably start hitting her, warning her that if she ever spoke a word of it, she'd regret it.
There were the rare, very rare occasions when Christine would be drunk and remorseful. She'd beg Ashley's forgiveness for the things that she'd done, telling Ashley how she loved her and regretted the things she'd put her only child through, every hit and stranger she handed her over to. It would lull the brunette into a false sense of security every time, no matter how many times it happened. Each time, her mother would tell her how much she meant it and how it would never happen again.
The next day, Ashley would feel close to her mother only to get a backhanded slap for being a naive and foolish girl, a stupid, brainless whore who wasn't worth the time or effort to love. She was unworthy and unlovable.
"Ashley, what are you muttering?" Spencer asked softly, watching the smaller girl's lips move and a breath of a whisper escape them. She couldn't make out the words as the girl rocked on the bed, growing distressed.
Ashley was unresponsive for many minutes, leaving Spencer to simply rub her back and murmur gentle words of love and reassurance. Just when she thought she was going to have to get her father, the rocking stopped and bright brown eyes focused on her, pinning her to the spot.
Ashley flew at her, a blur that smacked into her chest with an almost painful impact, knocking the air from Spencer's lungs and putting her on her back with Ashley on top of her. She was slightly afraid, wondering where the mind of the girl she loved was at.
"Ashley?" she called, seeing the wild, unfocused expression on the older girl's face. "Ash can you hear me?" Those eyes looked at her again, making her shiver slightly.
"Do you love me?" Ashley asked suddenly, her voice hoarse and barely audible. Relaxing somewhat, Spencer nodded and reached up to brush the hair that had fallen out of Ashley's face. Slowly, chocolate eyes cleared and looked at her, no longer wild but still stormy.
"Of course I love you, Ashley," she verbalized when Ashley offered nothing more and just kept looking intently at her. "You are not bad, or dirty, or a whore." The girl cringed slightly and Spencer mentally kicked herself.
"I love you, no matter what you think you did," she went on. "I understand that you're hurting and I'm here for you."
"You don't hate me?" Ashley asked meekly.
"God, no, Ashley," Spencer told her. "Please believe me. I love you. I love you, Ashley Nicole Davies." Tears streamed down her girlfriends tan, bruised face, a certain relief in their appearance. She was letting herself feel and despite the pain it caused them both, Spencer was glad.
"Promise me, Spencer," Ashley croaked. "Please promise me that you'll still love me tomorrow. Please tell me that I will still wake up tomorrow with you loving me?"
Ashley seemed to settle down again after Spencer's whispered promise and she finally let herself relax in Spencer's arms. She wasn't afraid of Spencer hurting her; she could handle that. Physical pain could be overcome, ignored, suppressed but emotional pain, the kind someone as close to Ashley as Spencer was, would be devastating. The thought that her girlfriend might turn her back on her and stop loving her one day scared her horribly.
She hated herself for what she had done, both everything she remembered and the things that were nothing more than fuzzy images in her head. The fresh scratches and bruises that marked her face and neck as well as her forearms and hands brought with them the memory of Paige and her refusal to take 'no' for an answer. She was incredibly grateful that Maggie had gotten between them because she knew that she'd been in no condition to fight the taller and angrier girl off if it came to it.
Paige had been livid, still, over what had happened between them and Spencer and Grey and she used Ashley's obvious turmoil against her, preyed on her like a hungry animal. She gave Ashley whatever drug or powder she requested and never asked for payment until later when Ashley was so far gone she could barely stand.
She remembered taking money from her purse to give the taller brunette only to have Paige attack her in the girl's bathroom. She remembered being hit and tugged at, scratched and gouged as Paige tried to get her clothes off. Ashley knew that she'd clearly told the older girl no, that even in her messed up and drunken state, she'd clung to the fact that she had Spencer and didn't want to screw that up any more than her being out, running off had in the first place. But Paige hadn't wanted to hear any of it, screaming at her that she deserved what she was getting and that she was nothing but a dirty whore.
"Easy, baby," Spencer cooed when the small form in her arms shivered slightly. "It's OK, you're safe." Ashley swallowed thickly.
"I remember...seeing Paige," she whispered. She felt the need to tell Spencer what she remembered despite the fact that the blonde hadn't asked or pushed her to.
"Ash, you don't have to tell me..." Spencer started. "Later, when you feel better."
"Later I may be too scared to," Ashley retorted softly. "I want to tell you. I need to tell you and be completely honest. OK?" She felt Spencer nod and then took a deep breath. She was a little unsure where to start.
"I woke up and you were in the shower," Ashley sighed, moving so that she was sprawled half on top of the taller girl with her head tucked beneath Spencer's chin. "And I know it wasn't what you thought but all I could think was that you felt dirty and disgusting because of what I told you and...you hated me." She heard Spencer gasp.
"Ashley, that wasn't it at all," she protested, devastated. Ashley hugged her tighter.
"I know that and...I think I knew that even then but the thought was still there," she explained. She felt Spencer tighten her own grip. "There are all these whispers and voices in my head telling me how horrible I am, especially to you. Voices that sound like my mother and a few others, reminding me of the things I've done and stuff like that. You weren't there, and they kept getting louder and louder and I panicked so I ran."
"I ended up at Spectrum and drank myself stupid," she went on, her voice becoming bland. "I knew that I shouldn't drive and I'd seen Maggie earlier when I got there so I went and sat at her car. I felt like shit and just wanted to go somewhere where no one would bother me so I asked her to take me to her house." Ashley lifted her head and looked at Spencer.
"I swear, Spence, I didn't wanna go there to sleep with her," she defended herself, hoping that Spencer wouldn't be angry with her. "I trust Maggie and I just wanted to feel safe." Spencer nodded her understanding and Ashley could see in her bright blue eyes that the younger girl held no animosity for her or her actions.
"I crashed out on her couch. The next thing I really remember was her girlfriend screaming that I had to go. I think it was around three in the afternoon. So I left," she explained.
"Where did you go?" Spencer asked, running her hands through her girlfriend's dark hair.
"Here and there," Ashley exhaled. "The beach, the boardwalk, anywhere where I wasn't alone to think."
"You could have come home," Spencer pointed out gently. Ashley shrugged.
"I wasn't ready," she said simply. "There were still all these noises in my head and I wanted them to stop; to just stop."
"Do you still hear them?" the blonde wondered, slightly worried that there was some other condition brewing under the surface.
"Do I still hear my bitch of a mother telling me that I'm nothing but a useless, ugly whore?" Ashley clarified. "Yeah, a little. It's like my insecurities are using the one thing that scares me the most, my mother, to scare me and make me doubt everything. I keep hearing her say that you deserve better than me; that I'm a whore and that you're going to end up hating me when you learn the whole truth. And it scares me."
"Oh Ashley," Spencer sighed, kissing the top of the brunette's head. "Don't listen to her; I'm not going to hate you or be disgusted by you or the things that have happened to you. You had no control over it; you couldn't stop it..."
"Why didn't I tell someone?" Ashley asked, picking her head back up to stare at Spencer. "Why didn't I tell my dad, or Aiden or someone? Why didn't I leave?" Spencer leaned up and gently kissed the upset girl on the lips, hoping to comfort her.
"Because you were a child who loved their parent even though she was putting you through hell," Spencer told her in understanding. "I know you, Ashley, and I bet that all you wanted was to make that woman happy, to keep her from hurting you. None of this is your fault. Honest."
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