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 Spencer was sure that Ashley could stand on her own, she released her hold on her eerily quiet lover and grabbed the soap. Lovingly she soaped up the tan body in front of her, paying special attention to the alarming number of bruises and bite marks that she'd left on that magnificent body.

"I'm sorry," she whispered sadly as she ran shaking hands over red marks, scratches and not a few outright gouges.

(God, I say I love her but look at the pain I inflict on her. I'm a monster)

Silently, Ashley covered those shaking hands with her own, drawing Spencer's attention to her face. She smiled and Spencer felt some of her guilt lessen at the love and genuine warmth in the other girls' expression. Ashley then kissed each of the fingers on the hands that Spencer felt were inflicting nothing but pain. Liquid brown eyes stared into Spencer's blue, conveying warm understanding, acceptance, love, and support. The depth in those eyes eliminated Ashley's need to tell Spencer that she hadn't done anything wrong. Those amber pools said it for her.

"Baby, I love you," Spencer whispered, leaning forward and kissing Ashley gently. She felt Ashley hum into the kiss.

After they parted, Spencer reached for the shampoo and poured it into her hands, working it into a lather and then starting to slowly wash Ashley's luxurious hair. She massaged the soap into Ashley's scalp, only stopping when she found a bump on the back of the other girl's head and Ashley hissed.

"Sorry," she whispered. "You ok?" Ashley nodded slightly.

"Hit my head," Ashley murmured barely audible. Spencer thought a moment and then recalled when Ashley had tossed her head back into the wall. She winced as she remembered the dull crack she'd heard.

"Poor baby," the blonde said softly, carefully washing the hair in that area. She continued to scrub Ashley's hair until she felt it was time to rinse. She then made sure that every inch of the silky brown locks was clear of soap.

When Spencer was done, Ashley turned around and faced her.

"Your turn," she said, reaching for the soap. Spencer grasped Ashley's wrists gently.

"I got it, honey. Get out and dry off and I'll be right behind you," she instructed. Ashley nodded.

"'k," she agreed, climbing out. She was still too content and happy to argue. Spencer wondered if the brunette was concussed. She was just too quiet.

Finished with her own cleaning ritual, Spencer turned off the now only lukewarm water and stepped from the shower. She was surprised to find Ashley waiting for her, holding a large, fluffy peach colored towel open for her to step into and a broad smile. Ashley wrapped the soft material around her dripping girlfriend and helped the blonde to dry herself.

"Thank you," Spencer smiled as she tied the towel around herself. Ashley leaned in and kissed her.

"You're welcome." She took Spencer's hand and led her back into the bedroom. Glancing at the clock, Spencer rolled her eyes.

"It's after 4. We should head back," she said sadly. Ashley nodded, frowning.

"Yeah, back to reality, however much it sucks," she sighed. Spencer pulled on the hand still grasped tightly in her own and pulled Ashley around to face her. With her other hand, she reached up and stroked the side of Ashley's face lovingly.

"Sweetie, about the shower…" she started, feeling overwhelmed with the need to apologize. Ashley reached up and covered Spencer's hand with her own while shaking her head.

"Baby, don't," she said gently. "Don't apologize, OK? You don't have to. It's all right." Tears leaked past long lashes, splashing down Spencer's face as her girlfriend forgave her. Although Spencer knew that Ashley felt she had nothing to apologize for.

"I won't ever…" she breathed. Ashley moved her hand to cover Spencer's lips.

"Sshhhh, Spencer. It's ok. I swear. It's ok." Spencer leaned into the smaller frame and let herself be enveloped by warm loving arms. And then let herself cry in the safety of that embrace.



The ride back home was long, the girl's getting snarled in endless lines of traffic and cars, honking horns and angry drivers. But neither of them cared. They enjoyed the presence of the other in the small confines of the car, the radio playing softly between them.

Spencer held onto Ashley's hand for nearly the entire trip while the brunette drove, releasing her hold only when Ashley needed both hands to drive. She would always return her hand to Spencer's waiting one once it was safe enough. Neither girl wanted to waste a moment during the drive, knowing that once they returned to their lives, away from their weekend oasis, that they wouldn't be able to be open with each other. They'd have to get by on surreptitious touches when no one was looking, longing glances and knowing smiles. At least until Spencer was ready to face her parents with the truth.

Ashley was ok with this now, mostly. She knew that it was going to be difficult to no be able to hold Spencer's hand without arousing suspicion. She wanted to be able to hold Spencer's hand in the hall at school or out shopping, wherever. She wanted to be able to kiss her girlfriend at school, just a little peck as they separated for classes or in the quad during lunch.

Ashley felt so validated knowing that Spencer loved her. All her life, she'd been the odd piece, the left over bolt that had no use in her own family. She felt empty, worthless, invisible in her own life. No one cared what happened to her, no one worried whether or not she lived to see the next day. If she fell off the earth tomorrow, she knew that there was a line of people who'd cheer and throw a party. A party that would no doubt be thrown by Madison Duarte and Paula Carlin. Hell, her own mother would probably gladly foot the bill.

But now knowing that Spencer loved her, Ashley felt like she mattered. She couldn't be that bad a person if someone as sweet, sensitive, and caring as Spencer could find something worth loving in her. It made her so proud and happy; her parents' negligence and the scorn of the general school population couldn't hurt her anymore. She had Spencer. And that was all she needed.

She couldn't wait until the day came where she could look into Madison's twistedly pretty face and shoot down whatever remark the head cheer bitch said about her being a horrible, insignificant freak with the truth. She wanted to look into the faces of all her detractors and scream 'Look! I AM worth something! I am not a freak! Spencer loves me and you can't hurt me anymore!'. She knew that day was in the future, possibly the far future, but just having it there, waiting for her made the wait worth it.

"You're awful quiet, Ash," Spencer spoke up as she spied their exit. "Are you sure you're not concussed?" She saw Ashley smile from the corner of her eye.

"I'm sure," the brunette giggled. "I've got a thick skull, you know that. Doesn't even hurt anymore."

"I'm going to be so grounded when I get home. You know that, right?" Spencer pointed out. Ashley nodded.

"Oh yeah. Mama Carlin is gonna lock you away in the stone tower to protect you from the big, bad, scary gay Ashley and her evil lesbian magic," she joked, earning a swat on the arm from her girlfriend.

"Well, that's just pointless. I'm already a lesbian," Spencer laughed.

"Ah HA! My evil mojo has worked! I have succeeded in converting another sweet innocent to the Sapphic side," Ashley cackled in a fairly accurate imitation of the villain from Dudley Do right. "Where's my toaster?" Spencer frowned.

"Toaster?" (concussion?) she wondered. Ashley glanced at her.

"Sorry, gay joke," she snickered. "It plays on the whole 'gay agenda' bullshit and that 'headquarters' sends any lesbian that 'converts' a girl a toaster." Spencer nodded.

(Funnier than a concussion at least) she smiled.

"Then what do gay guys get?" she asked. Ashley shrugged.

"Free window treatments? Oh! Or maybe a DVD set of Queer as Folk," she suggested. They both burst out laughing. The rest of the ride was spent laughing and joking until the Carlin home appeared in front of them

"I guess I should go in," Spencer said softly after they'd sat for several minutes just staring at each other.

"Yeah," Ashley agreed, squeezing Spencer's hands in her own.

"Ash, I…I really want to kiss you right now," Spencer admitted shyly. Ashley smiled.

"I'd hold off on that," she responded, making Spencer frown.

"What? Why…" Loud, hard banging on the window near her head made Spencer jump and scream. She turned to look into the HIGHLY irate face of her mother. She turned back to Ashley.

"Ah, yeah I see," she sighed. "A little better warning next time?" Ashley nodded.

"You bet. Good luck." Ashley squeezed the soft hands in her own one last time before reluctantly letting go. With one last longing smile, Spencer pressed her lips together in a mock kiss to Ashley and exited the car.

"Hey, Mrs. C.!" Ashley called cheerfully to the older woman currently trying to kill her with a glare. "Thanks for letting Spencer take care of me this weekend. I was so sick. I don't know what I'd do without a friend like her."

"Good night, Ashley," Paula said curtly, slamming the door and leading Spencer towards the house. Ashley saw Spencer look back once while she pulled her car away from the curb before Paula ushered her roughly inside.

(God, Spence, I hope you're ok) she thought sadly.



The door wasn't even completely shut before Paula started screaming.

"I can not believe your behavior lately, Spencer Ryan Carlin!" she bellowed. Spencer rolled her eyes and closed the front door, not wanting the whole neighborhood getting a free show. She leaned against the door and looked at her mother.

"Mom, all I did was take care of a sick friend," she said, trying not to smirk as the memory of events over the weekend flashed through her mind.

(I'm not exactly lying) she thought happily. (Ashley was sick and I did take care of her when I first got there. Granted she wasn't sick all weekend but it sure was fun.)

"You left school and went to Venice Beach without checking for permission first," Paula ranted. "Then you stayed there when I told you to come home. You are not Ashley's parent, protector or as of this moment, FRIEND!" Spencer's mouth dropped in shock. She glared at her mother, feeling an unfamiliar surge of hatred settle in her chest. It was hot, it burned and it hurt.

"How dare you?" Spencer hissed, her voice shaking in barely concealed rage. "How dare you try to run my life for me? You do not get to choose my friends for me! I have my own mind, opinions and I'm not just going to give them up because they don't agree with yours!"

"I am your parent!" Paula roared back, her face turning red with anger.

"NOT MY KEEPER! I am your child, not your slave. You're job was to raise me and teach me right from wrong and to think for myself. Not control me." She pushed past her mother and headed to the stairs.

"Don't you walk away from me!" Paula screamed. Spencer stopped and turned back around.

"Mom," she started, trying to stay calm but suddenly feeling so tired she felt weak. "I'm not going to stand here and be screamed at…"

"I am your mother and you will do as I say," Paula growled threateningly. Spencer did not like that tone of voice.

"You complain all the time that you feel like you're 'losing me', Mom. Did it ever occur to you that you might be what's driving me away?" Spencer shouted in response. "'Spencer do this', 'Spencer do that'. 'Spencer date that boy because it's expected', 'Spencer don't be friends with her because I have issues'. Screw you and your issues with Ashley. She is a part of my life and that is not going to change."

"Spencer, I only want what's best for you," Paula tried. "Ashley is a bad influence. Her and her lifestyle go against everything that I raised you to believe…"

"Because what you raised me to believe is wrong about being gay, Mom," Spencer said, her voice firm.

"It's unnatural and wrong. It goes against God," Paula preached. The sound of her mother's voice was starting to make Spencer nauseas.

"How can love possibly go against God?" she asked. "How can two people in a loving relationship go against God? Just because they're the same sex? Come on, Mom, wake up! The world is a freaking mess; I think the last thing God gives a crap about is homosexuality!"

"It's a sin," Paula declared firmly. Spencer rolled her eyes again.

"'Love is a sin'; great lesson to teach your kid, Mom," she started heading up the stairs.

"You are grounded, young lady. I want your cell phone and laptop. From now on I will be taking you to and from school. You understand?" Paula informed her daughter. Spencer stopped on the stairs against and turned to glare at her mother.

"What does Dad have to say about it?"

"He doesn't get a say," Paula said gruffly. "He should have insisted that you come home the moment you called. But he's a pushover when it comes to you and let's you do whatever you want…"

"Probably because HE actually trusts me," Spencer spat. "He knows that I can make my own decisions and isn't threatened by my independence."

"Phone and laptop!" Paula demanded. Spencer smirked.

"Send Dad after them." She took up over the stairs and slammed her bedroom door shut. She then locked it and took several deep breaths to calm herself.

(Well, THAT sucked ass) she sighed. She flopped down on her bed and took out her phone.

(Better call and let Ashley know what's going on before the Gestapo arrives for my contraband phone) she giggled to herself as she dialed the familiar number. She was scared, tired and upset. But she was determined to get through the whole mess. She was going to be with Ashley despite her mother.



Ashley arrived home to her own problems.

"Tell your little 'friends' that I am not your keeper," her mother huffed angrily. "If they don't know where you are then it's not my problem." Ashley rolled her eyes in annoyance.

"Yeah, Mom, your daughter being missing for a week is SO not your concern," she said snidely. "Next time I'll make sure that I get kidnapped and raped by some psychopathic, serial-killing trucker and dumped in a ditch. That way you'll be rid of me permanently."

"Don't you get smart with me," Mrs. Davies warned. Ashley put her hands on her hips and glared at her mother.

"Oh don't worry, I won't, Mom. I'd hate for you to have to think with your actual brain instead of your twat for 5 fucking minutes." For the second time that day, Ashley's cheek stung from a sharp impact. Licking away the small trickle of blood on the inside of her lip where her tooth had cut in, she let out a small humorless chuckle.

"That's your solution to everything, isn't it, Mom?" she asked sarcastically. "Hit it or throw money at it, whatever gets it to go away."

"Ashley, this is my home. I am not going to put up with having your latest conquests arriving at all hours, interrupting me from my company just because you've decided to go off on some jaunt without telling them," her mother yelled, not at all apologetic for striking her willful daughter.

"Fine, Mom, whatever," Ashley sighed and headed towards the stairs.

"Oh and Ashley, honey," her mother's voice had taken on the false sweet tone that Ashley hated. She stopped and turned around to look at her mother.


"I'm having company over this weekend. Don't be here."

"Hullo?" she said into her phone, having not checked the caller ID when it rang minutes later. Ashley honestly didn't know how she could be so happy on one hand, thinking of Spencer and what they shared, and so hurt on the other because of her mother's treatment of her. Sometimes she felt like she was two different people; a confident nearly adult and a frightened child.

"Hey Ash," Spencer's warm voice carried through the phone and washed over Ashley's stressed nerves, calming her. She smiled.

"Hey, baby, how did it go?" Ashley walked into her bathroom to inspect her lip while Spencer spoke.

"God, my mother totally flew off the handle. She's trying to ground me and take away my phone and computer," Spencer sighed. Ashley felt the unspoken pain of her girlfriend, knowing first hand how much it hurts when a parent turns on you.

"Well, you've still got your phone," Ashley joked. "What did you tell her?" She heard Spencer giggle slightly.

"I told her that she was wrong about you and if she wanted my phone and stuff, to send my father after it," she admitted, the pride in Spencer's voice carrying clearly over to Ashley. "I figured he'd be less likely to agree with the whole thing if he knew about it."

"Wow, you go babe. I'm proud of you," Ashley said happily as she turned her lip out to look at the small cut. Rolling her eyes at her mother's actions, she left the bathroom and flopped down on her back.

"So am I. It was scary though," Spencer agreed. "Was your Mom home when you got there?" Ashley considered telling Spencer the truth for a minute but decided that Spencer had enough to worry about without adding Mrs. Davies to the list.

"Neh, the old bag wasn't even home. Probably on her back somewhere with like, the pool boy or something," she lied easily. She hated lying to Spencer but didn't really feel that the truth was worth mentioning.

(Besides, just another part of my wonderful life) she thought sadly.

"Ashley, she totally flipped out," Spencer said quietly. "She even said that I wasn't allowed to be your friend." Ashley felt her stomach plummet. It hurt to know that you were so disliked by a friends parents, especially a girlfriend's parents when technically you hadn't done anything but be yourself.

"Spence, you knew she was gonna be pissed," Ashley tried to soothe her girlfriend.

"I know," Spencer sighed. "It still hurt though. Made me angry too."

"I know, baby. But we'll get through this," Ashley reminded her lovingly. She wanted Spencer to understand that she was going to be right there, next to Spencer's side no matter what Paula tried to pull.

"Thanks, Ash. That makes me feel a lot better," Spencer said happily. There was a pause as Ashley heard something in the background. Then the blonde sighed. "I gotta go, Ash. My dad's at my door. I probably won't be able to call again so, I just want to say good night and I love you."

"Night, Spence. You too," Ashley responded. It was the closest she could get right now to 'I love you'. She knew that it was something Spencer needed to hear. And she could tell by the happy gasp that it was enough to please Spencer.

"Thank you for that, Ashley Davies. Bye."



Spencer's father somehow got her grounding down to being only a week without phone and computer although she did still have to ride with Glen and Clay. Although that morning, Glen hitched with Madison and Clay simply drove her to the corner where Ashley was waiting. Dropping her off with a knowing smile, Clay waved at Ashley and drove away.

"Have I ever mentioned how much I love Clay?" Ashley wondered as Spencer shut her door and leaned over for a morning kiss.

"Mmmm no, not that I remember," she smirked. "Although I better be the only Carlin you're in love with, Ashley," she continued, her tone teasing. "I think I'm the possessive type." Ashley burst out laughing as she pulled into traffic.

"Judging by the bite marks on my neck, inner thigh, and various other places, I'd have to agree, hon." Spencer felt herself blush hot. She covered her face with her hand, mortified.

"Hey, hey, Spence, don't be all embarrassed," Ashley soothed. "I told you that I liked it. I'm yours and I love it."

"I know," Spencer agreed. "I just…I don't understand where some of these impulses are coming from. I mean, yeah I may not be as 'sweet and innocent' as everyone thinks but, God, some of the things I did to you this weekend…"

"Babe, I told you not to worry about any of that. It was fucking hot and I loved every second of it," Ashley reminded her lovingly. Spencer nodded and smiled.

"I know. I loved it too. I just wonder where it's all coming from," she explained. Really she was confused as to her seeming need to be so rough at times. She loved Ashley deeply and in Spencer's mind, love and sex went together in a gentle way.

"Spencer, you've grown up in a strict religious household," Ashley began as way of explanation. "And you've always gone along, done what was expected of you to fit the image others had of you. Of course this is just my observation. But, hon, you were confined. And now with me, you can be free. And right now, it's intense for you."

"Wow, Ash, those years of therapy sure do come in handy," Spencer laughed as they pulled into the school parking lot.

"Oh ha ha," Ashley scoffed. She shut off the car and looked longingly at Spencer. "I really wish I could kiss you right now." Spencer frowned, looking around the lot cautiously.


"I know, babe," the brunette whispered. She reached across the space between them and grasped Spencer's hand. "I understand. Too many chances someone could see. It's ok." Spencer gave her a bright loving smile. Slowly, careful of anyone seeing, Spencer brought Ashley's hand to her mouth and placed an open-mouthed kiss on the palm, making Ashley shiver with desire when Spencer's tongue darted out to lick quickly.

"God, the things you do to me," Ashley gasped. Spencer's smile turned lustful.

"The things I want to do TO you," she husked. Ashley shivered again, groaning.

"Crap, how am I supposed to get through the school day now?" she whined pitifully. She was so turned on it almost hurt. Spencer laughed.

"Aw I wish I could help," she said honestly. And she really wanted nothing more at that moment than to touch Ashley and feel the brunette's skin against her own. Unfortunately, the first bell rang reminding both girls of where they were and why.

Ashley groaned unhappily.

"Wanna skip?" she asked hopefully. Spencer bit her lip and shook her head.

"I do. But we can't," she said solemnly. "Besides, you've already missed a week. You can't afford to miss anymore." Ashley rolled her eyes.

"Ug, slave driver," she muttered. They exited the car, grinning goofily at each other as they walked through the parking lot.

"God, stop with the 'fuck me' eyes, freaks," Madison spat as she passed them. "You'll infect the rest of us with your gay germs." Ashley spun around angrily.

"Cierra la boca puta, o te pateo los ovarios!" she yelled in Spanish at Madison's back. The Latina stopped and turned back around to face Ashley.

"Maricona," she shot back. Spencer watched the two girls, confused.

"Coño," Ashley sneered. Madison put her hands on her hips.

"Ashley, what's going on?" Spencer cut in. Madison turned her attention to the blonde.

"You should be more careful who you sleep with, Spencer. God knows what kinda nasty STD you're gonna get from that whoring piece of homo-trash." Spencer rolled her eyes.

"Oh give it a rest, Madison," she snapped.

"She's just going to use you and dump you like she does everyone else, Spencer," Madison warned more to stick it to Ashley than actually warn the blonde. "You're a conquest, nothing more. Cuz that bitch isn't capable of caring for anyone but herself."

"No, Madison, that's you," Spencer retorted. Unseen by Spencer and Madison, Ashley frowned, hurt by the head cheerleaders words. Part of her was afraid that Spencer would believe Madison while a small part wondered if she was right.

(Can someone like me, with my history, love someone like Spencer the way she deserves?) she bit her lip with worry.

"Hey ladies, what's going on?" Aiden said as he approached, breaking Ashley from the thoughts that she'd been trying to avoid since she first kissed Spencer. Madison huffed and stomped away. Ashley looked at Spencer.

"And today had started soooo well too," she sighed.

Part 31

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