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



Ashley gasped and moaned, her hips moving at an increasingly faster pace as she rode the fingers buried deep within her. Spencer watched from where she lay beneath Ashley, the brunette's beautiful body straddling her waist and her moisture dripping down her wrist onto Spencer's belly. Ashley felt so good around her fingers, hot and tight. She knew that it was a feeling that she'd never tire of.

"Oh God, Spencer…oh baby…" the older girl whimpered. She was so close to her release it hurt. Spencer's other hand stroked her hip, helping guide her progressively more erratic movements.

Ashley bit her lip as the beginning contractions of her orgasm tightened the muscles of her abdomen.

"Don't, baby," Spencer rasped, her free hand wandering up to stroke at a flushed and sweaty cheek. Ashley's head was almost hitting the ceiling as she bucked. "Let me hear you. Let me hear you scream."

"Oh God, Spencer, please!" Ashley cried out, her eyes clamped shut. Spencer pushed a third finger deep inside Ashley and pressed against the writhing girl's clit hard with her thumb.

The scream that erupted from the brunette's full lips seemed to shake the car and washed over Spencer like a physical sensation. She felt her own insides clench in response.

"That's it, Ash. Come for me," she purred. Ashley's flailing arms punched at the ceiling, her scream dying down into wanton whimpers and pants. As Ashley collapsed bonelessly against Spencer, the blonde withdrew her fingers, feeling muscles twitch as she did so, another small orgasm rushing through the smaller body and causing her to whine.

"I love you, Ashley," Spencer whispered, pressing a kiss to a dampened temple. Ashley panted against her, trying to regain her breath.

"I…oh God I do you too," she gasped. Spencer smiled. That was the closest Ashley had come to those three small words yet.

(She's making progress. I think I love her attempts to say it more than the actual words) she laughed to herself.

"You are so fucking hott when you come," the blonde said, her voice dipping lower again making Ashley shudder.

"Mmmmmm," she hummed, burying her face in Spencer's neck. She nuzzled the warm skin there, feeling content and safe. Spencer stroked the sweat soaked skin of her girlfriend's back in slow circles, feeling the body in her arms relaxing.

They had almost dozed off when Ashley glanced at the clock and groaned. If she didn't hurry, she wouldn't make it home in time for her mother's 'party'. Part of her toyed with the idea of never going home but she knew that her mother's words were no idyll threat; she stood to lose everything if she didn't show up at home, on time, dressed and ready. She looked up at Spencer and knew that either way she was going to lose. It was a no win situation.

Sighing, she pushed herself up, their drying skin sticking together slightly and reached for what clothing she could reach. Spencer sat up a few moments later, frowning.

"Ash?" she asked as Ashley leaned over the front seat and tossed her her shirt.

"As much as I'd rather stay here with you, I can't be late, Spencer," she explained sadly. Spencer nodded and pulled her clothes on. They moved to the front seat and Ashley started the car, finding a small spot to turn around in. As they headed back out to the main road, Spencer took Ashley's right hand in her own and squeezed it.

"I love you, Ashley," she said happily. Despite her gathering nervousness and despair, Ashley smiled.

"You too, babe," she responded. Spencer bit her lip, something that Ashley found endearing and sexy at the same time.

"Can I…can I ask you a question?" the blonde asked timidly. "It's kinda embarrassing though." Ashley nodded.

"You can ask me anything," she said honestly. Spencer took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"When I…came…what happened? Why did I get so wet? And what did you mean by 'one in fifty'?" Spencer questioned, a deep blush settling on her features. Ashley grinned, not having realized that Spencer's somewhat limited sexual knowledge would leave her in the dark as to certain things.

"So you never saw anything…happen when a girl came in Glen's videos?" she asked. Spencer shook her head, again chewing on her lip.

"Spence, do you understand the G-Spot?" Ashley asked, trying another route. Spencer hung her head.

"I…um…kinda…I dunno," she whispered, sounding defeated and sad. Ashley squeezed her hand.

"Hey, now, babe, what's wrong?" Spencer sighed.

"I just feel kinda stupid having to ask these things. Then I wonder why you want me when I don't know a lot about sex and…"

"Spencer, I want you because I…heart you." Instantly Ashley hated herself for her inability to say a simple four letter word. But the more time she spent with her mother the more that word confused her. "You don't have to know anything, baby. It's OK. Please stop worrying about it."

"OK," Spencer agreed quietly. "So, what happened?" Ashley paused to gather her thoughts.

"The G-Spot…hmmm…let's see, Spencer. You remember that time in the bathroom at school when I came really hard?" She saw Spencer nod out of the corner of her eye. "I kinda gushed, right?" Again, Spencer nodded.

"Yeah, that was really hot," the blonde said huskily. She remembered the flood that seemed to pour from Ashley during her orgasm. She'd felt proud to get that reaction from her girlfriend.

Her eyes suddenly widened.

"Oh my God, did I…" she started.

"Ohhhhhhhh yeah. You did," Ashley giggled. "More than I did, I think." Spencer covered her face with her free hand, embarrassed.

"Oh my god," she whispered mortified.

"Hey, Spence, what's the matter?" Ashley asked, amused by the younger girl's reaction. "It's a good thing, a totally normal and common thing."

"You're not…bothered by it?" Spencer squeaked. Ashley shook her head.

"No. Were you?" It was Spencer's turn to shake her head.

"No. I thought it was really…hot; that you enjoyed what I did that much," she confessed. Ashley smirked.

"Same here, babe." They sat in silence for a few minutes.

"So…that's what the G-Spot does…cool," Spencer decided. Ashley laughed loudly at the abject cuteness of her girlfriend.




"So, you'll call me if you can this weekend?" Spencer asked as Ashley parked a few houses down from the Carlin home. She squeezed the hand clasped in her own, noticing that during the ride, Ashley's hand had gotten colder and kind of clammy.

"If I can, Spence," Ashley agreed softly. "Please don't get upset if I'm not able to." Spencer shook her head and brought their joined hands up to her mouth to kiss.

"Of course not," she assured her girlfriend. "I understand that sometimes you just can't. Especially if your mother is anything like mine." Ashley sighed.

"Trust me, they are nothing alike," Ashley muttered darkly. Spencer frowned.

"Ashley, are you all right?" she asked, brushing the knuckles of her free hand against Ashley's cheek and feeling how cool it was to the touch. "You're pale and cold and clammy to the touch." Ashley gave her a half-smile, trying to reassure her but the empty, frightened look that was suddenly behind chocolate eyes only added to the feeling of apprehension Spencer felt brewing.

"Ashley, what's wrong?" A sense of panic was building inside Spencer; something was happening to Ashley and she didn't understand it. She knew that there was nothing wrong with them as a couple, their previous activities showing her that much. But there was something going on with Ashley. However it seemed that the harder she tried to grasp onto what it could be, the faster it seemed to slip away from her.

"Nothing, Spencer," Ashley said firmly. "Please stop worrying." With a defeated sigh, Spencer nodded. She knew that there was nothing that she could do to get Ashley to open up to her unless it was something Ashley wanted to do or was ready to do. She would just have to wait and pray that nothing would happen to turn Ashley's reassurances into lies.

"OK," she agreed. She leaned in for a sweet kiss, frowning as she felt something else behind Ashley's caress. There was an unexplainable desperation in the kiss, making her head swim. She looked quizzically at the brunette when they parted.

"You'd better go, baby," Ashley instructed, giving a weak smile that broke Spencer's heart. "I can't be late." Spencer nodded and opened her door.

"I love you," she said honestly, hoping that her words could reach across the gap Ashley was putting between them. The smile grew a little brighter, a little more real and served to calm some of Spencer's raw nerves.

"You too."

"Hullo?" Spencer mumbled sleepily into the phone, a few hours after midnight. A sniffle and a hiccup shook the last bit of sleepiness from her mind and she focused sharply. "Ashley."

"Hey, baby," Ashley greeted her, voice shaky and a bit watery. "Did I wake you?" Spencer sat up slightly.

"Yeah but it's OK," she replied. "What's wrong? Why are you crying?" She heard the brunette chuckle slightly but it was a cold sound, sending shivers down Spencer's spine.

"I'm not crying, baby, I'm just tired," Ashley said quietly, trying to keep her voice light.

"How was the party?" Spencer wondered. She heard Ashley sigh and it tore at her.

"Same as they used to be," her girlfriend answered. "Look, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you. I forgot that it was like 4 in the morning. But I couldn't sleep and needed to hear your voice." Spencer smiled.

"I'm glad to hear yours," she said back.

"I wish I was with you right now, Spence," Ashley said suddenly, her voice dark and desperate. It scared Spencer to hear that tone in the older girl's voice.

"You can be, baby. I'm in my room. Just leave your mother and come here. I'll open the door for you," she suggested, wanting to hold Ashley and soothe whatever hurt was so obviously affecting her. Ashley sighed again, a heavy heartrending sound.

"I wish I could…God, Spencer you have no idea how much I wish I could," she whispered.

"Ashley, what is going on? What's wrong? Why can't you leave?"

"I gotta go, Spence," Ashley said suddenly. "Mom's screaming at me through the door. I'll talk to you later. Sleep well." The line clicked, cutting Spencer off from responding. She stared at the buzzing phone, confused and worried. She tried dialing Ashley back but it immediately went to her voicemail meaning that the phone was shut off.

Sighing, she settled back under her covers. But sleep was a long time in coming.

All day Saturday, Spencer worried about Ashley. She kept her phone with her the entire afternoon, making sure it was charged and the volume of her ringer up high so that there was no chance that she'd miss the call. At dinner she picked at her food, her concern overwhelming her and killing her appetite. She excused herself and retreated to her room, finishing her homework and then watching a movie.

But even that did nothing to distract her from the silence of her phone. She'd tried calling Ashley's cell but again, like the night before it was turned off. So she left short but hopefully sweet messages for Ashley to get when she turned it on again.

It was after 11 when her phone finally rang, 'Holla back girl' blaring from the small device and letting Spencer know immediately that it was Ashley.

"Ashley! Baby! What's up?" she chirped. There was a long pause before Ashley spoke, her voice scratchy and tired.

"Hey, Spencer. Nothing much. How're you?" Spencer frowned at the distant and hollow sound to Ashley's usually vibrant voice.

"Ashley, are you OK?" she asked, worried.

"I'm fine, Spencer. Just tired. I just wanted to call and say 'hello' and 'good night'. Sleep well."

"Ashley, wait…" Spencer tried to stop her from hanging up.

"Hmmmm?" Ashley hummed into the phone. She sounded bored and distracted, something else that bothered the blonde.

"What's going on? You sound…different," she said softly. Ashley sighed.

"Nothing, Spencer. It's all fine, OK? Stop worrying," Ashley said, almost snapping at her. "Look, I might not be able to call tomorrow so have a good day."

"Wait, are you picking me up for school on Monday?" Spencer wondered, trying to think of anything to say to keep Ashley on the line.

"You'd better go in with Glen; I might not be there," Ashley responded flatly. Spencer felt panic gripping at her and tried to fight it. She was so confused and lost, not understanding Ashley's sudden standoffishness.

"Ashley, has something happened? Did your mother say something to you…"

"Good night, baby." Ashley hung up, again leaving Spencer to stare at the phone in shocked confusion.

"What the hell is going on?"



After getting out of the car and waving good-bye to Clay, Spencer approached the lone figure sitting in the sand slowly. She didn't know why Ashley seemed to be isolating herself. If it wasn't for the short little text message that simply said '@beach' Spencer would still have no idea where she was. It was Tuesday and while she hadn't expected Ashley to be at school Monday, when she wasn't there that morning, her worry had increased.

Again, Ashley's phone had been turned off so there was no way to get a hold of her. Spencer hated not being able to get in touch with her girlfriend but not in a 'dependent' sort of way. It was more in a 'what if something goes wrong and she needs me' sort of way. She knew Ashley well enough to know when something was wrong. And all her 'Ashley' alarms were blaring at her, loudly.

While she was fairly sure that as a couple they were fine, something was indeed wrong and she knew it. Since Ashley had gone away Friday with her mother, the brunette was acting skittish, standoffish and acting odd on the phone which made Spencer nervous. The feeling was akin to knowing something horrible had happened but not knowing what it was or how to fix it. The defeated slump in the delicate shoulders of her girlfriend only heightened the feeling.

"Hey baby," she greeted Ashley, sinking into the sand beside her. Ashley titled her head slightly to look at her, her cheek resting on her knees which were pulled to her chest.

"Hey," she returned the greeting, face lighting up slightly at seeing Spencer but her dark brown eyes stayed hollow and scared looking. Spencer desperately wanted to know what put those shadows there.

"Why weren't you in school today?" Spencer wondered, hoping to get Ashley to open up. Ashley shrugged, a minimal effort and then turned her face back out to the water. The hood of her grey sweatshirt was pulled up over her head, obscuring the side of her face from Spencer.

"I wasn't back yet," was the quiet reply, almost lost over the sounds of the ocean. Spencer took a minute to really look at Ashley; the sweatshirt pulled over her head despite the warm weather, the small tremors that occasionally raced through the thin frame, the way Ashley's arms were wrapped so tightly around her knees that what Spencer could see of her hands were white with the effort. It made Ashley look like an elastic stretched to its breaking point, at that moment right before it snapped.

"Are you all right?" Spencer asked, reaching out to touch her girlfriend only to frown in confusion when Ashley stiffened and pulled away slightly. Ashley turned her head and gave Spencer a half-hearted sheepish smile.

"I'm fine, Spence. I'm just…bonding time with my mother always makes me feel…tired I guess. She's a bit caustic and my skin feels kinda raw so I'm just not in a touchy mood. It's not you, babe, I swear…" she explained. Spencer nodded.

(If Ashley doesn't want to tell me what's wrong yet, I'll respect that. I don't like it cuz it seems like she's hurting, but I'll respect it. For now) Spencer decided. (It's so unlike her to not want to touch, though. She's the most tactile person I've ever met.)

"I understand," she said out loud even if it was somewhat of a lie. "As long as you're ok?" Ashley nodded slightly.

"Maybe not entirely 'OK' but I will be soon enough," she said cryptically, sending a sense of dread through Spencer's body.

"Ashley…" she started. She wanted nothing more than to grasp her girlfriend's hand and squeeze it in comfort but didn't dare try given what Ashley had just said. Those delicate and beautiful hands were shaking where they gripped soft fabric tightly.

"So how was school?" Ashley interrupted her, still looking out over the turbulent water. Spencer couldn't help but notice how the rough and choppy surface of the water seemed to mirror the aura coming from Ashley. There was something beneath the surface, disturbing the usual calm.

"Boring and lonely. I missed my girlfriend," Spencer answered honestly.

"I missed you too and I'm sorry that I didn't call. My Mom took my phone away Sunday and I had to steal it back today just to let you know where I was," Ashley explained.

"That's OK, Ash. I understand," Spencer tried. She hoped she sounded convincing because she really had no clue what was going on and she didn't understand. The brunette then looked at her watch and grunted.

"Better get you home for supper," she declared, standing up and extending one hand to Spencer to pull her up. Spencer couldn't help but notice how cold Ashley's hand was and how instead of holding it on the walk to the car, she instead stuffed both her hands into the front pocket of her hoodie and bent inward towards herself, making herself seem smaller than she already was.

(Oh something is seriously not right here) Spencer fretted. (Ashley never turns up an opportunity to touch or hold my hand. Grrr…I wanna know what her mother said to her, what happened this weekend)


"Spencer, I'm fine," Ashley cut her off as they approached the car. "Really. Don't worry about it." Spencer sighed and nodded. She wasn't going to stop worrying about it but she could stop nagging. If she kept nagging, she'd only upset and annoy Ashley and the older girl might really shut her out then.

"OK, I'll let it go, for now," she added, her voice heavy with expectation. Ashley looked at her, expression veiled and that made Spencer even more frustrated than she already was.

"You know that when you're ready, I'll listen to whatever you want to say, right?" she asked. Ashley nodded, smiling slightly.

"Yeah, babe. I know you will," she agreed. She paused and looked over the car at Spencer. "You know, you're the only person that I've ever known that is always there for me, Spence. And I'm not sure that I've told you 'thank you' for it." Spencer smiled brightly, happy to see some of 'her' Ashley poking through the gloom.

"You don't have to thank me for anything, Ashley. I'm your friend as well as your girlfriend and I will always be there for you," she replied. Ashley nodded and got in the car.

"That's good to know."



Spencer scowled at her math homework; it wasn't making anymore sense than it was when she was assigned it in second period. Then again, she was having trouble concentrating since she hadn't slept much the night before feeling too wound up by Ashley's odd behavior. Odd behavior that was furthered that morning when Aiden had thrown an arm over both their shoulders and Ashley had frozen for a moment, fear racing across her face before she hid it behind her usual mask of indifference and shifted away from the touch. She'd laughed it off as 'boy cooties' but Spencer had seen real fear for a moment in Ashley's eyes. And it scared her.

"Whatcha got there?" Ashley's low voice whispered into her ear, making her startle slightly. Spencer had been so wrapped up in her thoughts that she hadn't noticed her girlfriend approaching. She shut her math book and then smiled up at the brunette.

"Math," she said, crinkling her nose. Ashley made a gagging sound and flopped down into the chair beside her.

"Ew…to quote Barbie: 'Math is hard'," she joked, making Spencer giggle. This was more like the Ashley she knew and she was relieved to see her. She then let her vision drift to Ashley's outfit that day, a small frown crossing her features.

Ashley had on a red long sleeved tee shirt with white sleeves. That in itself wasn't unusual. What was unusual was the fact that it went all the way down to her hips and over the top of her acid washed jeans which weren't her usual low-riders. Every inch of possible exposed skin on Ashley was covered and that was unlike the rebellious teen. Usually the hot girl flaunted her tight abs and beautiful skin any chance she had. But right now, only her head and hands were visible.

"Well, if it isn't the Amazing Dyke Duo," Madison taunted as she sauntered by with her cronies, shaking Spencer from her contemplation of Ashley's outfit. She stopped to take a look at Ashley, her hands on her hips and head tilted.

"Gotta say, puta, that I like this version of you. No one normal wants to be forced to look at you putting your whorish little body on display all the time," she spat out. Ashley ground her teeth together and Spencer saw her fists clench so tight that her knuckles were white.

"I am not a whore," Ashley grumbled. Madison laughed.

"You keep telling yourself that. Maybe eventually someone will be pathetic enough to believe it. You know, like Spencer here." She laughed harder, echoed by her minions and then walked off, satisfied that she got the last word in.

"Ashley?" Spencer questioned as she watched her girlfriend breathe deeply in through her nose and then out through her mouth, eyes clenched shut. She was visibly shaking. Spencer frowned; usually Madison never got to the brunette so well. She wondered what it was about this diatribe that bothered Ashley so much.

With one last long breath, Ashley opened her eyes and looked at Spencer.

"Yeah?" she asked her facial expression normal although Spencer could see something, something unidentifiable behind those familiar chocolate orbs. It was starting to scare her how shielded Ashley's emotions were from her lately.

"Baby, something's just not right with you lately," Spencer said softly, hoping not to upset the seemingly distressed girl. Ashley sighed.

"Spence, hon, I'm fine," she said quietly. "I've got a lot on my mind and right now the last thing I need is to play twenty questions with you or have a battle of wits with Madison, who is so obviously ill-equipped for the fight." Spencer reached out for Ashley's hand, to hold it for a second and share her strength with Ashley who seemed to need it but the brunette pulled away, jamming her hands into her jean pockets and gnawing on her lip.

"Anyway, I gotta go talk to my Spanish teacher about the stuff I missed this week. I'll talk to you later, Spencer," she said, turning and leaving without waiting for the blonde to respond. She kept her hands in her pockets and head down, looking for all the world like a toddler who just had their puppy kicked. Spencer didn't like that look at all.

(Well, that sucked ass) Spencer sighed. (All I managed to do was tick her off and make her pull further away from me. I gotta figure out what's going on in her head before I go crazy)

"Hey, Spence, what's up?" Aiden asked, sitting down next to her on the bench. She tore her gaze from her girlfriend's retreating back. Whatever was going on with Ashley wasn't good. But for the life of her, Spencer couldn't get the skittish brunette to open up to her.

"Nothing much," she shrugged. Aiden followed the visual line her eyes had been on and caught a fleeting glance of Ashley as she entered the school. He frowned.

"Problems with Ash?" he wondered quietly so that no one could overhear. Spencer nodded.

"She's acting…off somehow," she explained vaguely. "Like, she seems far away right now." Aiden's frown deepened.

His own experiences with Ashley had left him burnt, careful about letting someone else close again. Even when he had been dating Madison he hadn't let her get as close as Ashley had gotten. He's always kept a little piece of himself away from Madison and her venom, knowing somewhere in the back of his mind that he and the fiery brunette wouldn't last. So when Madison had unceremoniously dumped him for Glen Carlin, part of him was relieved.

Then he met Spencer and somehow the gentle blonde got to him the same way Ashley had. That part of himself that he was careful to guard and not let anyone touch had indeed been caressed by the youngest Carlin. So having lost her to his own ex, Ashley, left him with a stinging hurt in his heart along with a burning feeling of betrayal.

He still adored both girls and if he were honest with himself, he knew that he'd always love Ashley and very nearly felt the same way about Spencer. When they told him that they were now together as a couple, Aiden found himself feeling happy for them but also angry. Angry that he was again alone and standing on the outside. He knew neither girl had ever set out to hurt him but at the same time, he'd ended up hurt.

"She's like that Spencer," he said flatly. "You think you've got her all figured out and then she'll just change on you without warning. I could have told you that early on." Spencer turned her head to fully look at the dark-haired boy.

"I hope I never fully 'figure' Ashley out," she said a little harsher than she meant to. "And she didn't change on me; there's something wrong." Aiden nodded.

"Yeah, Ashley's what's wrong," he agreed. He looked over Spencer's shoulder towards the doors of the building and missed the angry look on the blonde's face.

"You let her close and then she just pulls the rug out from under you," he went on. "It's just what she does."

"I thought you were her friend," Spencer said, anger now creeping into her words. Aiden, mistaking her anger for hurt, pressed on.

"I am, Spencer. She's one of my best friends. That's why I know her. She hurts people, whether she means to or not. It's because she doesn't really have a sense of other people's feelings." Spencer's jaw all but smacked into the pavement in shock as he spoke.

"She does what Ashley wants to do and ignores what other people want." He was on a roll, finally venting all the pent up animosity he'd been feeling for too long. "I mean, just look at her track record, Spencer. She's never had a relationship that's lasted." Spencer tilted her head.

"So you're saying that ours won't either?" she asked, perturbed. Aiden shrugged.

"I'm saying that…I don't want to see you get hurt because she has no clue how to love you or care for you. Spencer, she's not very 'emotionally available', if you know what I mean." Spencer's eyes narrowed dangerously but Aiden didn't notice.

"Are you saying that Madison was right and Ashley's not capable of loving someone other than herself?" Aiden paused to think and then half nodded, half shrugged.

"Maybe. Look, I don't know, Spencer. I just think you might be able to do better…"

"By better, do you mean 'you'?" she growled. Her anger was now obvious even to Aiden and he frowned in confusion.

"I mean…" he started only to be cut off by Spencer's angry voice.

"No, I know exactly what you meant, Aiden. You think I can do better than Ashley by dating you," she hissed lowly. "Never mind the fact that I'm gay."


"God, you all think that Ashley is somehow lacking real human emotions. Well you're all wrong! She does have emotions, she does feel. Just like you and me. No, wait, I think she feels things more than most people; feels things deeper than anyone else. She just doesn't let everyone know it. And do you know why she doesn't?" Aiden just stared at her, mouth agape and at a loss.

"Because of people like you. You and Madison. Assholes who think they know who she is but really have no idea because you never took the time to see past the barriers and walls she put up around herself to protect herself from you. Never bothered to get to know the girl buried all the layers; the girl that I see and love. You know what? The reason you lost Ashley wasn't because she was gay; you lost her because you never knew who she was in the first place. You didn't deserve her."

"You suck, Aiden," she finished, grabbing her bag and taking off in the direction Ashley had gone and leaving Aiden stuttering stupidly in the quad.



Ashley had seemingly disappeared after she had left Spencer; she was no where that the blonde looked or she arrived immediately after Ashley departed. It drove Spencer buggy all day to be a step behind her girlfriend and unfortunately the rotating schedule that day did not include any of their shared classes.

A note slipped inside her locker simply said 'Gotta jet. Catch a ride with Aiden or Clay. Sorry. –A' and left Spencer feeling abandoned and not a little angry. She had Clay drive her to Ashley's house but to her dismay, the brunette's SUV was not in the driveway. Then Clay took her to the beach and waited but, true to that day's pattern, Ashley was not there.

"Damn it," Spencer muttered under her breath as Clay headed home. She couldn't think of anywhere else to look for Ashley and didn't want to ask Clay to drive her around too much or he'd get suspicious.

"Did something happen between you and Ashley?" Clay asked gently as he pulled into traffic. Spencer jumped, thinking at first he meant her relationship with the older girl but then understanding he meant that day in particular.

She shook her head.

"Not that I'm aware of," she sighed.

"So just something going on with her?" Spencer nodded. "I thought there might be. I saw her crying after lunch." Spencer's stomach dropped and she turned her head in surprise.

"Crying? What? Where?" she stammered. Clay couldn't help from smiling at his little sister's behavior.

"I guess she had gym or something and her class was running track," he started. "My science teacher decided to take advantage of the nice day and taught class outdoors. Which kind of fit because we're learning botany…"

"Clay…" Spencer interrupted him before he could really go off on one of his 'I'm so smart it's scary but not aware of it' rants.

"Oh right, sorry," he apologized sheepishly. "Anyway, we were near the field and I heard her teacher yelling at her; something about not being in her gym shirt and shorts. Then she just turned around and walked away from the track, her face buried in her hands. I could tell from the way she was moving that she was crying."

"Oh Ashley," Spencer said sadly, upset that she wasn't there to comfort her girlfriend. Clay glanced over at her, an understanding expression on his face.

"I wanted to go ask her what was wrong but I couldn't," he explained. "She looked really upset." Spencer let out a heavy sigh but said nothing.

(Ashley's upset about something and not only do I not know what it is, I have no idea where she is. I hate this!)

"I have no idea what's going on with her," she lamented.

"I'm sure that it'll work itself out, Spencer," Clay said firmly. "She'll come to you when she's ready."

"I really hope so," Spencer admitted. "I'm kinda scared that she'll push me away instead."

"I highly doubt that, Spencer. If you didn't do anything wrong then the person Ashley will turn to for help is you," Clay reminded her. Spencer knew that this was true but it made it no easier to cope with the current situation.

"Yeah," she said softly. A comfortable silence settled over them as Clay drove home.

"Soooo…" he hummed after a few silent minutes, watching as Spencer chewed her bottom lip and frowned. "You and Ashley, huh?" Again, Spencer jumped and spun to look at him, her face displaying both shock and fear.

"Huh? Wha..?" She mentally kicked herself for her inability to form coherent sentences.

(Why is it when Mom says something mean, I'm all wordy and shit but when Dad or Clay say something, not even mean; I turn into the village idiot?)

Clay laughed.

"Relax, Spence," he said calmly. "I figured you and Ashley out a long time ago."

"You did?" she squeaked. Clay nodded.

"Yeah. Probably before you two did. And I have to tell you, Spencer, I really like the changes that she's brought out in you. You're so much more confident and sure of yourself. It's been great to watch." Spencer smiled.

"So you're ok with…" she trailed off, not sure if that was what he was referring to, her and Ashley as a couple.

"You being gay? Yes, Spencer. I mean, you're still Spencer so why wouldn't I be? You have to remember that before I moved in with you when I was 8 I saw a lot of things," he reminded her. "So you being gay is no big thing to me. You are still my little sister and I still love you. And I'm proud of you." Spencer felt hot tears of relief tumble down her cheeks.

"Thanks, Clay," she sniffled.

"It's no problem. Don't worry about when the time comes to tell Mom, either. I will totally be there for you," he declared. If anything, Spencer's smile grew wider.

"You are the best brother ever," she decided, making the boy laugh.

"I don't have a lot of competition, Spencer. Glen can be an…"

"Asshat?" Spencer supplied cheekily.

"I was going to go more for 'an idiot' but I guess yours is true too," he snickered. "So does Dad know?" Spencer nodded.

"Yeah, I talked to him the other day." She said happily. "He was really cool with it."

"I thought he would be," Clay agreed. They pulled into the driveway and Spencer sighed, her momentary good spirits crashing back down as she realized that she still had no idea where Ashley had disappeared to. A strong hand on her shoulder brought her out of her deep contemplation of the flowers lining the driveway.

She looked back around at her brother, finding solace in his gaze.

"Ashley will be fine, Spencer," he assured her. "And she will show up. Probably when you least expect her to."

Part 71

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