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



"2 AM and she calls me cuz I'm still awake…" Ashley sat singing quietly to herself in the quad during lunch, anxiously scanning the mass of various student bodies looking for her girlfriend. She hadn't really had a chance to see the blonde since they parted earlier in the day to go to their separate classes. Ashley was seriously thinking of having her classes switched to match Spencer's. At least she had been until she realized that that might constitute stalking in a few states.

"Can ya help me unravel my latest mistake…" she continued. Now having too much time to herself sitting alone on top of one of the tables, Ashley's overactive mind started churning. Again and again she turned Madison's harsh words over and over in her mind.

[["She's just going to use you and dump you like she does everyone else, Spencer. You're a conquest, nothing more. Cuz that bitch isn't capable of caring for anyone but herself."]]

(But Spencer is so much more than a conquest to me) she thought, confused. (But I don't know. I really don't want to hurt her. God, I'll die if I hurt her. Am I bad for her? Jesus I'm confusing the hell out of myself)

"I don't love him…"

"Winter just wasn't my season," a voice finished from behind her. Ashley felt herself smiling before she even turned to face her girlfriend.

"Hey, babe," Ashley greeted her quietly so that no one would overhear. Spencer walked closer and stood between Ashley's knees, dangerously close. Ashley arched an eyebrow. "Spence?" Spencer smiled.

"Just two close friends is all, Ash," the blonde explained. "Everyone knows that you and I are close. No one's gonna say anything cuz I'm sitting between your knees." Spencer then took a seat on the bench between where Ashley's feet were resting, grinning up at the somewhat surprised brunette.

Ashley looked down at the smiling face just in time to see Spencer lick her lips in a decidedly sensual way as she maintained eye contact. Images of Spencer between her legs for something else flashed through Ashley's mind, making her shudder.

"Someone's a tad turned on," Spencer teased happily. She loved being able to affect Ashley with nothing more than a simple glance. It made her feel incredibly wanted, and loved.

"When I think about you, hell yeah," Ashley responded in a husky whisper. Spencer wagged her eyebrows, making Ashley roll her eyes and start to stand up. She wasn't sure she could sit through the entire lunch with Spencer sitting where she was. It would drive her insane. Spencer's warm hand on her knee stopped her.

"Where are you going?" the blonde asked, her grin turning lustful. "I was enjoying my view."

"Torturer," Ashley whined, sitting back down. Secretly she loved the way Spencer teased her. It added another layer of fun to everything. And the sheer fact that Spencer was willing, and actually initiating the flirty teasing on school grounds where anyone could see, alleviated some of Ashley's silent worry over the whole 'being out' situation.

"Hey, after you called last night, I went out and got you this," Ashley explained, handing Spencer a prepaid cell phone. "It's all set up and everything. Just don't get caught cuz you know your mom will kill me. Slowly." Spencer smiled brightly.

"You are the best," she said happily. Ashley preened.

"Yeah I know," she joked.

"So, I meant to ask you, Ash, since when do you speak Spanish?" Spencer asked leaning in a little closer than she probably should have to Ashley's crotch. Ashley tapped her on the head and shook her finger at her.

"Behave little miss 'sweet and innocent'," she warned while the smile on her face warmed Spencer's heart. "I took Spanish in Junior High. Plus most of my mom's staff is Hispanic so, I grew up learning it."

"Then why are you failing conversational?" Spencer laughed. Ashley leaned down so that only Spencer could hear her.

"Well, maybe I just need the right tutor," she husked, suggestively. She watched Spencer's eyes darken with desire.

"Hey my two favorite ladies," Aiden said happily as he unknowingly interrupted their flirt session. He sat down next to Spencer, Ashley's leg separating them. Ashley resisted the urge to kick the poor clueless boy.

"Hey," Ashley greeted somewhat less then enthusiastically.

"Hi Aiden," Spencer was a bit more welcoming. Or at least better at keeping the annoyance from her voice than Ashley was. Aiden gave the blonde his best 'I'm so hot and you know it why don't you want me' smile, making Ashley roll her eyes and make a face behind his back.

"Damn, Ash," Aiden gasped, looking at the older girl when he was done using his eyes to uselessly flirt with Spencer. "Where were you this past week to get that?" He pointed at her shirt collar, which had dipped low enough to expose the still red and angry bite mark on her neck. Spencer turned her head to try and hide the rapidly deepening blush on her face.

"Nowhere," Ashley growled out huffily. "None of your business." Aiden laughed.

"As long as you made sure they had their rabies shot, cuz, whoa, that looks like it might leave a mark," he joked, totally oblivious to the death glare from Spencer on his right. Ashley's eyes narrowed.

"Do you and Glen actually go to a class that teaches you to be an ass? Cuz you're both fantastic at it," she snapped. Aiden shrugged, confused.

"What's the big deal? God, Ash, all I was saying was you musta reeled in one hell of a kinky girl. Cuz I can see other marks…" Spencer suddenly stood up and looked at Ashley apologetically before stalking off. Ashley glared at the dumb boy.

"God, perv much?" she spat angrily, getting up to go chase her girlfriend. Aiden watched in utter bewilderment.

"What?" he asked no one in particular.

"Spence, wait up!" she called, jogging to catch up with the blonde who was nearly at the other side of the quad. "Spencer!"

Spencer ignored her, going straight into the girl's bathroom. Ashley followed and found Spencer bent over the sinks, trying not to cry. She rubbed her girlfriend's back, pushing the upset girl's hair behind an ear.

"Ssshhh, babe, don't let that idiot get to you," she soothed. Spencer shook her head.

"You don't understand," she gasped, turning her head to look at Ashley. The brunette frowned.

"I understand that Aiden has the same brain capacity as a piece of rice, Spence. What more do I need to know?" Ashley joked, flashing a bright smile at Spencer, hoping to cheer her up. Spencer sighed and then walked around the bathroom to make sure they were alone. Ashley watched her silently until Spencer stopped and faced her.

"Did you hear what he said? 'Kinky'! I'm kinky!" she said angrily. Ashley couldn't keep her smile from growing.

"Spence, baby, that's not a bad thing…"

"Ug, you don't get it, Ashley," Spencer said between her teeth. "I've been rough with you, hurt you…"

"You didn't hurt me," Ashley cut in sternly. "I am NOT hurt. And I'm not some fucking china doll that's gonna break the first time you play with her, all right? So stop with the fucking 'I'm a monster' routine already."

Spencer bit her lip and stepped closer, so that she was barely inches from Ashley's face.

"Ashley," she growled. "I was rough with you…and I liked it." Ashley's eyebrows shot up in surprise. Spencer leaned in and kissed her girlfriend, hard. Teeth and tongues warred with one another for several long minutes. Ashley pulled away to catch her breath.

"Wow," she whispered. She looked up at Spencer who was watching her closely.

"I love being with you, Ashley. Touching you, feeling you in my hands, listening to you moan and pant for me," Spencer husked. Desire sent a chill down Ashley's spine and she visibly shivered.

"I want to be gentle, take my time with you," the blonde continued, one hand stroking the skin exposed between Ashley's low-rider jeans and crop top. The other stroked the side of Ashley's face slowly.

"But then I get you in my arms, right there where I've wanted you for so long and, I lose control. I want so much. I want to experience every inch of you, touch it, own it. Make you mine…" she leaned in to lick Ashley's neck. Vaguely Ashley wondered where Spencer's fear of being seen and outed went to.

"I am yours," the older girl gasped as Spencer sucked on the raw mark on her neck. The bell rang, signaling the end of lunch. Neither girl moved from where they stood. Spencer kept sucking and biting Ashley's neck while Ashley tried to keep her knees from buckling.

"Shit, Spencer," she panted. "If you don't stop…" Spencer moved up and sucked Ashley's earlobe into her mouth, biting down hard enough to make the brunette gasp.

"I don't plan on stopping…"



(Oh God!) Ashley thought frantically as Spencer pulled her into a stall and slammed her against the closed door. She let out a 'whooph' of shock at the impact but it didn't actually hurt, she was just stunned. Spencer's mouth was dominating hers, stroking the sensitive places inside her mouth with reckless abandon.

"Spen…Oh God…Spencer, we could get caught…" she panted as Spencer moved to her neck and her hands cupped and rubbed Ashley's breasts through the thin material of her shirt. Spencer could feel the hard tips of Ashley's erect nipples against her palms.

"We won't," Spencer husked, pinching the sensitive tips with her fingers. Ashley gasped and arched into her girlfriend. Spencer reached down with one hand and undid the button and zipper of Ashley's jeans, quickly slipping her hand down between the two fabrics. She teased Ashley through the wet cotton of her panties.

"So wet already," she growled at Ashley. She could feel Ashley's arousal soaking through her underwear and it turned Spencer on more. Ashley whimpered and pressed against the hand caressing her.

"More Spencer, please," she pleaded. Between Spencer's teasing that morning in the car and the blonde's actions now, Ashley was quickly losing her mind. She wanted Spencer, wanted to be taken by Spencer so badly she didn't give a damn whom might catch them.

Spencer slipped Ashley's jeans down, taking them off the girls long tan legs with her hands, kneeling to remove the gasping girl's shoes as she went. She leaned up and let her mouth play with the crotch of Ashley's panties. Ashley whined in the back of her throat as Spencer licked her, the only thing separating that tongue from the source of her need being a thin piece of fabric. Spencer's tongue moved up and down that small strip, pushing the wet material against over sensitive skin, making Ashley moan and pant.

Spencer stood up, putting the pants on the coat hanger on the door before then walking backwards, pulling Ashley with her until she bumped into the toilet and then sat down. She pulled her flushed girlfriend down to straddle her, moving Ashley's legs up so that they were resting behind her back. If anyone did happen to come in, they'd only see one set of feet in the stall.

Ashley buried her hands in Spencer's soft blonde hair.

"Please, baby, please," she begged, rubbing her pelvis against Spencer's and hissing at the friction caused by Spencer's pants. Spencer nibbled on Ashley's tempting jaw line.

"Please what?" she whispered. Ashley whimpered.

"Touch me, please…" There was a long pause as Ashley shivered with arousal and Spencer ran her hands up the slender girl's back. "I want you, Spencer. Take me please…" Spencer growled at the words. Fire ran through her veins and the only thing that existed in her world at that moment was Ashley.

She pulled on the fabric of Ashley's panties, hard, causing it to ride up into Ashley's slit. Using her other hand, she repeated the process in the back. Ashley cried out softly as Spencer alternated tugs, front then back, in such a way that part of Ashley's mind finally realized she was being fucked using her panties.

She lifted her hips slightly so that she could ride the material in synch with Spencer's tugging. She whined and whimpered as Spencer played with her, giving her just enough pressure to push her desire higher and making her need for release more intense.

She let out a high pitch cry just as Spencer pulled very hard on the front. She was about to scream in ecstatic frustration when the door to the bathroom opened with a loud squeak.

Both girls froze as the newcomer entered the stall beside them. Sweat was dripping off Ashley as she looked at Spencer, her expression lustful mixed with apprehension. Spencer grinned evilly, at which Ashley desperately shook her head 'no'. Spencer suppressed a giggle at the horrified look on her girlfriend's face and then before Ashley could move, pushed two fingers past the underwear currently pulled tight and into Ashley's core.

Ashley gasped loudly, a ragged broken sound.

"Are you alright?" the random girl in the next stall asked, concerned. Spencer smiled at Ashley as she started to thrust into the brunette quickly. Ashley was barely able to breathe, wanting so much to moan and scream at the intensely euphoric feelings Spencer was giving her but desperate not to get caught.

"Oh, I'm fine," Spencer said calmly as Ashley bucked against her, biting her lip tightly in her teeth. She tasted the bitter tang of blood on her tongue as she accidentally reopened the cut her mother had caused the night before.

"Thanks though," Spencer added. She leaned closer to Ashley and began to suck on an erect nipple through the thin material of the girl's crop top. The sound of the toilet beside them flushing muffled Ashley's hiss as Spencer bit down and added another finger inside of her. She rested her head in the crook of Spencer's neck, panting silently against the skin there.

Spencer curled her fingers towards herself, looking for that spot she knew would drive Ashley insane. When Ashley froze and then desperately grasped at her shoulders, Spencer knew that she'd found it.

The girl had washed her hands and they heard the door squeak again, proving that she'd left. Spencer sped up her thrusting, rubbing hard against Ashley's g-spot, watching and listening as her girlfriend lost control.

"Oh shit…oh God…Spencer…don't stop…please…God don't stop…never stop," Ashley moaned, her head now tossed back as she met each thrust of Spencer's hands with her hips. She could feel her climax approaching. It was more intense than any she'd had before, speeding towards her rapidly and with such force she was almost frightened.

Spencer loved watching Ashley this way. She wanted to memorize every moment so that she could play it back in her mind any time; every pant, moan, facial expression and pleading request. This was Ashley at her truest; no walls or facades for her to hide behind. She was totally vulnerable and Spencer was astounded that she was getting to see the mercurial brunette in such an open fashion. And that it was her bringing Ashley to such heights of passion.

She couldn't wait for the day when she would feel Ashley do these things to her. She was starting to wonder if waiting had been the best idea. She'd spent the night apart from Ashley pleasuring herself and imagining that it was her girlfriend inside her, stroking her and making her cum. She was finding it hard to reconcile her desire for her 'new first time' to be special with her nearly overwhelming need for Ashley herself. She wanted Ashley to touch her, stroke her and be one with the girl she loved so much. She made a mental note to mention her wishes to Ashley later.

"AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Ashley screamed as she came hard. The contractions of her inner muscles squeezed Spencer's fingers painfully in the tight space. The brunette kept screaming as the orgasm continued, not releasing her from its waves of ecstasy. They rushed over her again and again, pushing her down and drowning her. She kicked out with her feet, only vaguely aware of the stinging in her left foot as it hit something hard.

Spencer watched the tendons in Ashley's neck tighten and strain as she rode out the sensations flooding through her. The pink tint and slick sheen to the brunette's skin made her even more undeniably hot at that moment in time.

When Ashley collapsed against her, breath labored and heavy, Spencer wrapped her arms around the older girl and held her tightly. The next bell rang, and Spencer smiled. She wondered if they'd make it to the last class or not. Ashley was lying against her like a limp sack of wet noodles with no seeming intention of moving soon.

The feel of hot tears on her neck surprised her. She pulled her face back a little to look into Ashley's.

"Baby? What's wrong?" she asked, concerned. Ashley didn't look at her instead she hid behind the curtain of sweat dampened hair and shook her head.

"Ashley, please," Spencer begged, worried that she'd inadvertently hurt Ashley badly. "Talk to me." Ashley didn't respond. Instead she curled herself around Spencer even tighter and sobbed. Spencer stroked the crying girl's back in slow circles, seeking to comfort her girlfriend although she had no clue what was wrong.



Spencer sat on her bed, a large frown marring her features. After Ashley had recovered enough to move after their bathroom escapade, she'd pulled on her pants and shoes, kissed Spencer lightly on the lips, pausing to stroke the confused girls' cheek and then left the bathroom. And school grounds. Despite all of Spencer's efforts to talk to her, the brunette had walked briskly away to her car and left.

Spencer spent her last class of the day (where she was late as hell) going over and over what had happened, looking for anything that she might have done wrong. It seemed to her the entire time that Ashley wanted her; hell Ashley had begged for her not to stop. So why did the older girl cry and then run like that? Spencer had been so wrapped up in her thoughts that she'd missed her teacher addressing her and earned herself a 3 page paper on Medieval knights and their code of honor due in a week as punishment for tardiness and inattention. It was either that or detention and with her mother coming to get her, Spencer knew that she couldn't afford to stay after school.

So she stared at the cell phone Ashley had given her earlier, waiting for her girlfriend to respond to one of the fourteen text messages or seven voice mails that she'd left. It was nearly six at night and Ashley still hadn't responded.

(I hope she's ok) Spencer sighed. (I'm grounded and can't even go looking for her. If I even try to leave the house, if I'm caught, I'll never be allowed out again. Or anywhere NEAR Ashley. Mom will see to it and there'll be nothing Dad could do)

"Fuck!" she muttered angrily. Part of her was pissed at Ashley for taking off like that without explanation. The rest of her was sick with worry. Visions of Ashley drinking herself to death or something filled her mind.

(This time I have no clue what I did to upset her. DAMN IT!) She lifted the phone and sent another text to Ashley.

[plz ansr me. Im sry. R u OK? I (3 u]

She sighed when there was no answer within ten minutes. Ashley always answered her almost immediately, even before they started dating.

(God, was that only a day or so ago? And I've already managed to screw it up twice. I still can't believe that I slapped her like that yesterday morning. That was one time I didn't enjoy being rough with her)

She hated herself for that one split second of time and vowed that if it took her until the end of days, she'd make it up to Ashley. Although Ashley seemed to take the whole thing in stride once the initial shock had worn off; something that secretly bothered Spencer. Ashley had totally glossed over the fact that she'd been struck by the one person that she was supposed to be able to trust. Almost like she'd expected it or something.

(There is so much that I don't really know about her) Spencer fretted. (She doesn't talk about anything like her childhood. And I suck because I never bothered to ask)

"Some girlfriend you are, Spencer," she grumbled to herself. "Do you even know her favorite color? No, you don't cuz you suuuuuuuuuuuuuuck."

She stood up and stretched, groaning when her back snapped. The cramped places that she'd had sex with Ashley, like the backseat of the SUV and the stall in the bathroom had left her muscles sore. She had a fairly good idea of what Ashley had meant by the 'damn that was good/happy' kinda sore she'd mentioned the day earlier. While she knew she was probably no where near as sore as Ashley was, she was still sore.

(I didn't get the chance to talk to her about my wanting to wait) she remembered. (I wanted to talk to her about being ready. God I want her so bad, want to feel her hands on me. Heh, who knew that I'd be such a sex-fiend? I don't think I would be with anyone else really. I think it's just a side Ashley brings out. She's the only person that I've ever really felt like me around. I don't have to pretend to be who I'm not and there's such a sense of freedom in that.)

She changed into her pajamas and sat back on the bed, picking up the phone and debating whether or not to call or text again.

(Now I may never know what it's like to be with her that way. She ran off so fast…I really want to talk to her. But I can't stand this whole not talking to me thing she's got going. It hurts every time she doesn't answer me. But I'm so worried)

Finally she decided on a message to send, hoping that she didn't seem too desperate or clingy.

[plz! I luv u. r u ok? U dnt hav 2 tlk. Txt me u r ok. PLZ]

Satisfied with her text, she set the phone down and flopped onto her back, staring at the ceiling. Despite her worry, she smiled when the phone beeped. Since Ashley was the only one with the number, Spencer knew that it was her girlfriend.

She flipped open the phone and her smile grew.

[sry. Im ok. C u AM. Same plce. Tlk 2 u thn]

(Well, she still wants to take me to school so she must not be all that mad) she thought happily. It didn't last long though. She shut the phone and her face fell.

(What if the only reason she wants to drive me to school is so that she can end it? Oh God, what have I done?)



Ashley stared at the phone as it chimed from her bed stand. She knew it was Spencer. It had been Spencer all day, since she'd abandoned the beautiful blonde in the bathroom earlier. Ashley had stopped checking the messages after the first few, afraid that at some point Spencer's text would go from 'caring and worried' to 'pissed and hate filled'. Not that Ashley would blame her. She'd have been hurt and angry if Spencer had done something like this to her.

(How do I explain what happened when I don't even understand it myself?) she wondered. All Ashley was sure of was that after her seemingly endless orgasm, she felt so at peace, so loved and contented that for that one moment, she was ultimately happy. She could have stayed right there in Spencer's warm arms forever. And just as fast as that realization occurred to her, her insecurities rushed back even faster.

Here she was in the arms of someone who truly loved her; someone who didn't love her because they were expected to, like her parents. And Spencer wasn't someone who pretended to love her so that they could get something from her, like many if not most of her exes. Ashley figured that the only other person that she'd dated who had never wanted anything from her was Aiden. But Spencer was different from even Aiden. Spencer didn't want her to change or to play a certain role; Spencer just wanted her, as is. With all of her faults and quirks, all of it.

And that scared Ashley.

When someone wanted something from her, whether it was sex or money or whatnot, they were easier to deal with. There was no emotion involved in interacting with them. She had the control; whether or not she gave them what they wanted was entirely up to her. But with Spencer, there were emotions involved. There was want and desire and Ashley knew, genuine, write-a-song-about-it, scream-it-from-the-rooftops love. And that was entirely new territory for Ashley. And it terrified the shit out of her.

Spencer loved her; she loved Spencer. And in Ashley's mind that should be simple. But it was far from it. And she wasn't the one in control, Spencer was. Ashley had never felt so out of control, out of her element as she did whenever she was with Spencer. And she was totally lost if Spencer dared touch her. Usually Ashley was no different from the people using her, using them right back. But not with Spencer. All she wanted was the blonde's love, to be needed by the girl she loved as much as Ashley needed and loved her.

She knew that she did indeed have Spencer's love. Now her worry of screwing it up was rearing its ugly head.

[["She's just going to use you and dump you like she does everyone else, Spencer.]] Madison echoed in her head, her ugly words twisting Ashley's insides with fear and self-loathing.

(What if she's right? What if I end up using Spencer even though I don't mean to?) she sighed and curled up on her side. She hissed when she banged her sore foot, having realized earlier that she'd slammed it hard enough to bruise the side when she kicked the wall behind the toilet.

[[You're a conquest, nothing more…..a conquest…a conquest]]

(Is that how I see Spencer? I don't think I do but what if I influenced her to feel something that she doesn't? What if I've somehow made her think that she feels something stronger than she really does? And what if somewhere in my mind I do only see her as a conquest; the pretty straight girl from out west, 'let me get to her first' sorta thing? I mean, I think…no, I know my feelings are real. They're new, but genuine.)

[[Cuz that bitch isn't capable of caring for anyone but herself."]]

(Am I capable of really caring for someone other than myself? I mean, I am pretty self-centered, even I know that. Can I really love Spencer the way that she deserves? Or am I going to end up breaking her heart and destroying the friendship we have too?)

The phone chirped again. This time Ashley picked it up and flipped it open.

[plz! I luv u. r u ok? U dnt hav 2 tlk. Txt me u r ok. PLZ]

Ashley sighed and typed on the keypad, Spencer's worry and concern for her making her feel even more guilty than she already did.

[sry. Im ok. C u AM. Same plce. Tlk 2 u thn]

Closing the phone, she decided to just try and sleep even though it was early. She lay on her back, wincing again as her body protested its rough treatment over the past few days. While Ashley herself loved it, her body wasn't quite used to it. She knew that if she managed to sort it all out with Spencer tomorrow, she'd have to put off anymore extra curricular activities until some of the soreness faded in a few days. Otherwise she was going to be bedridden, and not in the good way.

Sighing, she hoped that she'd find the words to explain herself to Spencer in the morning.



Spencer climbed into the SUV apprehensively, afraid that Ashley was going to tell her that it was over and after they got to school to never speak to her again. She'd barely slept, all sorts of bad scenarios playing out in her mind as to why Ashley had behaved the way she did. She couldn't even begin to express the relief that she felt when Ashley had finally text her back. She'd been so worried that the upset brunette was in trouble that the simple message had served to calm her greatly.

"Morning," she said quietly. Ashley sighed at the lost and confused tone of Spencer's voice.

"Mornin'," she responded flatly, her own tone of voice not helping Spencer to feel any better.

"Ashley, about yesterday…" Spencer started, needing to talk about what was going on.

"You did nothing, absolutely nothing wrong, Spencer," Ashley broke in. She pulled off to the side of the road, not trusting herself to be able to speak and drive at the moment. She unbuckled her seatbelt and turned to face her girlfriend who was staring intently at her hands folded in her lap.

"Spencer, look at me," she asked. Spencer shook her head, afraid to look and possibly see anger or judgment in the brown eyes that she adored. "Please?" Unable to deny the pleading tone in Ashley's voice, Spencer reluctantly raised her face to meet her.

Ashley stared into watery blue eyes, eyes so full of love and confusion that it broke her heart. She reached out and cupped the side of Spencer's face watching the blonde lean into the touch.

"I'm not sure how to explain my actions yesterday," she started, honestly. Spencer grasped the hand cupping her cheek in her own hand, holding it there.

"Take your time," she whispered. Ashley bit her lip, making her undeniably adorable in Spencer's eyes.

"When it was over, I was so happy," Ashley continued. She looked down so that she wasn't looking into Spencer's bright ocean eyes. She moved her hands and grasped Spencer's, pulling them into the space between them.

"Happier than I can ever remember being in my life. And I'm not just saying that because it's the 'right thing' or romantic or what the fuck ever, I'm saying it cuz it's the truth. You made…you make me feel so loved, so complete and beautiful and smart and wonderful…" She stopped, realizing that she was babbling and took a deep breath. Spencer simply sat, waiting.

"You make me feel like I'm special, that I'm somehow worth this wonderful love that you give me. No one's ever made me feel worthy of anything. I always feel so empty and alone. Except when I'm with you." She finally looked up and met Spencer's loving gaze. The overwhelming emotions in those sapphire eyes stole her breath away.

"Then why did you run from me?" Spencer asked softy, trying not to let her hurt and confusion color her voice. Ashley sighed, a heavy painful sound.

"I got scared," she finally admitted. Spencer frowned.

"Scared? Of what? Of me?" Ashley shook her head.

"No, no, not of you," she said quickly. "That was the last thing I was afraid of, baby. No."

"Then what?" Spencer wondered, leaning closer. Ashley looked down and away. She wanted desperately to tell Spencer the truth but wasn't sure she had the strength. She fidgeted a little, then chewed on her lip before taking a deep breath and deciding to go for it.

"Of hurting you. Of being hurt by you. Of being all of the things Madison says I am. Of not loving you enough, the way you should be loved. Of screwing this up…"

"Ashley, you are not going to 'screw this up'," Spencer said, a small smile tugging on the corners of her mouth. "And you are not anything like what Madison said. You're not."

"Spencer, how can you know that? How can you be so sure when even I'm not?" Ashley was getting visibly upset as she spoke. Spencer pressed her fingers to Ashley's full lips.

"Ashley, do you love me?" she asked. Ashley's eyes grew wide in what Spencer figured was fear. "You don't have to say it," she said patiently, understanding. "Just agree or disagree. Do you love me?"

"Yes." The word was small, fragile and broken but said clearly enough for Spencer to hear. She looked into Ashley's conflicted brown eyes and smiled.

"Then I know."

Part 36

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