DISCLAIMER: I don't own anything except for some creative freedom and a little too much time and this fucking laptop which owns my soul and is my true lord and master.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Credit goes to Britt for inspiring me to write this and giving me my prompts; thunder, beach and fear. I know most of you are diehard Spashley fans, but please give this a chance. Thanks also go out to Cog for being the music that I listen to when I write and, often times, my inspiration for a theme or piece of writing. And I also stole a line from The River Song by them for the end so I owe gratitude for that too.
SPOILERS: Say It Ain't So, Spencer and What Just Happened are spoiled in this story, so you might want to wait until you know how the Spashley arc ends in the show, unless you already know.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Omniscient Dawn
By Badger


Part Two

Some might consider it ironic how bright the skies were after the storm. It should have been a beautiful picture when it started and it should have started when it stopped. That would have been the poetic ideal. The horrible weather could have acted as a metaphor, reflecting all that went on in the only two lives which meant anything at that time underneath it as critical events passed by at a morbidly fast rate. But it didn't. Instead it stood in stark contrast to everything, pretty much from beginning to end, almost as though taking the mickey out of their intense and passionate affair which never was. It was meant to be, but it never took place. Then again, how could it be fate if it didn't happen? Wasn't it supposed to? Intuition and her heart disputed logic and said it was destiny. Unfortunately, this left her stranded in limbo and, although she hadn't known it then, the other girl in an equal state.

The once hurricane-like winds calmed to little more than an exhale blowing on the scape to dry it out a slim few minutes sooner. Sands darkened by soaked up liquids went undisturbed by the humid air or waves that, in abrupt truce, gently massaged the shore. The level of light had risen significantly, but it was not quite done brightening yet and still a little cooler than any day in Los Angeles could possibly be. Clouds had faded to grey, not quite gone yet, and a rainbow held by rigid bonds curved against the blue valued backdrop. For Ashley, there was only blackness. Her crying eyes saw their own interior. She wept on the dawn of an extravagant day. No expense was spared on its décor. It was the loneliest day of her life.

Eventually, the tears stopped. Either because her grief was too great to express out here where she was open and vulnerable to the hazard of unfamiliar surroundings or numbness had finally set in. But if she was numb then why did she still feel like shit? She felt anaemic beneath the thumb of Atlas who let the weight of the world crush her. The blood in her veins ran breathless and brought no nourishment to any cell in her body, extremity or internal or neural. Her stomach churned with nausea. Her skin paled. Her body lurched in spasm after raging spasm and she couldn't be sure whether it was due to rogue sobs or a dwindling core temperature, nor did she care. Her brain felt collapsed.

Why did she feel like a junkie in withdrawal when she never developed an addiction? Was she hooked after one hit? A single and brief experience of shooting up on the drug which obsessed her for so many years, just to silence the question of what it might be like, and - irony strikes another victim; claims another life - it became an instant dependency. It took her to wonderland. That much was for certain. To a land of white rabbits, hatters mad on tea and mercury, cats named Cheshire grinning so widely, a Queen who was off her head, dramatic height fluctuations, a pack of cards as royal guards, riddles she was too stoned to answer, backwards-talking knights, twins singing the story of that fucking walrus for the thousandth time, the smoking caterpillar offering her the giant mushrooms, talking doorknobs, a bottle for a ship on a sea of tears, hedge mazes which had no end, a forest of flowers that spoke; Ashley became Alice. Madison got her high. She was happiness in the form of a substance that could be abused, treasured or could drive the user to insanity. That was her all-consuming, omnipresent power. Did she even suspect how intoxicating she was?

However long it took for her to gather up her few saturated belongings and head back to her car-slash-home, she would never know. It all passed by in a morbid mist. She only vaguely noticed that, at some time during the storm, the ink ran all over the pages in her workbook, obfuscating the sounds and meanings of poems and lyrics she wrote and ruining most other sheets of paper before they had a chance at finding purpose, but she didn't care. There was no music in her soul, not anymore; no more songs or calls towards inspiration, no rhythm and no melody. Just a gaping hole in her chest and a clouded, red film over her vacant eyes.

Dragging her guitar along at her side, the hard case occasionally colliding with her leg, and trying to ignore the cold irritation of soggy clothes rubbing against her skin, she barely noticed the sensation of the friction tearing and burning her flesh. There was little connection between her mind and the rest of the world. Silence. Solitude. She wasn't even sure how she remembered where she parked earlier in the night. Those times were so very long ago. Obviously, some part of her stream of consciousness still idly flowed in the undercurrents and carried with it the instinctive capability to remember mundane facts or details about trivial, everyday events, which was a skill that many would expect to temporarily diminish after such calamity. They no longer held any meaning. She would be glad to forget them - down to her most primitive developments - as though it justified her in righteousness or validated the inconceivable depth of her love to have her life ruined by the loss. But there was no point; she was empty enough already.

Her shoes scraped against the sidewalk. A sound not unlike ripping and shredding emanated out of the wake of her trance-like shuffling and it hit her ears sharply as it vanished straight after, like sounds in a dream. What a nasty dream it was. The void surrounding her was oblique in the peripheral corners of her vision. It was blurred and surging and heaving like a boat on the heavy swell out at sea. She couldn't see anything, too focused on forcing her legs to keep her upright and safe from total desolation. When she fell, she would lack the strength to arise once more and waste away under the sun. Blank and unfamiliar, the road ahead seemed naught but a senseless eternal disaster bending into a mirage on the horizon. Then again, once she got close enough to recognise the surroundings it must have registered as familiar since she navigated it with dreary, wallowing gloom. Perhaps all that kept her moving was that memory of the known for, indeed, it wasn't her first time there. Not by a long shot.

The car was in a deliberately chosen spot, parked in a small, abandoned lot around the back of a long since deserted building, so that her concealment from the main road and inconspicuousness made it less likely that the cops were going to find her and pick her up if she tried to get some sleep and couldn't hear them coming. As well as that, a few of the kids local to the area used it as a skate-park and general meeting place on a regular basis and thus, with their presence alone, prevented anyone from breaking into it or damaging it. Or her, when she was present. They knew the essentials of her story and let her hang out with them sometimes too, when she was in the mood to join in. And when she was up for talking, she got along with the group well, so none of them were tempted to nick her stuff. Initially, she had been reluctant to trust the young strangers, but an unspoken unity quickly formed between them and her caution proved unnecessary.

Of course, the paved quadrangle was empty at that time, inhabited almost exclusively in the afternoons and evenings and, occasionally, through midnight and a little past it, but never in the morning, which was sensible enough. It was alright, though; all Ashley wanted to do was curl up and cry herself into a brief, restless slumber. For that, company was not required. The case was actually quite the opposite. Being alone for a short term was sometimes beneficial or, at least, preferable under the weight of certain circumstances; when whatever remained was dire or in peril. One of those times had just come and gone, but the aftermath didn't make any promises of reaching an end.

A few, miniature rivers of water flowed into the open drains, grated with iron bars, beneath a high chain-link fence and three feet of concrete holding it up. The crossing wires dripped rainwater residue like sweat from human flesh. Newly woken sunlight reflected off of every surface in bright, beaming glares and relentlessly burned all that wasn't fortunate enough to be safely screened by shade. Yet the air was freezing cold. Breezes converged on her in a mighty horde, letting her suffer thrice the regular consequences of standing out in the torrential rain for so long, forming a foamy lather with their chill. She shuddered but gave it consent.

In order to make sleeping in her car a great deal less unpleasant, the rear seat was folded down - thank god she had an SUV in addition to her first and more normal car - giving her relatively ample room in the back and boot, although a fraction of this was taken up by a hastily packed suitcase of whatever she could grab on her way out. A messed up blanket and two pillows marked the site as her bed, and not a decent one at that, but she couldn't afford to be picky with no other choice. Fishing inattentively for the keys in her small student bag at her waist, two piercing beeps and quick orange flashes from the blinkers indicating success, she tugged the front door open. Stepping on the small foot platform, she placed the guitar upright in the passenger seat, her eyes briefly drifting toward the small pile of clothes sticking out underneath the glove compartment. Her arms shook before her, by her side, wherever they went, and in fact they had yet to stop for even a moment. Clenching fingers into fists with a deep but quivering breath in, trying to alleviate some of the cool disturbance using willpower, they still refused to stop. She wondered if she might be hypothermic, which was a fantastic star atop the traditional holiday tree of all the other shit in her life. On a level residing far below the darkest and most shadowed caves and tunnels in her perpetually mutinous head, she hoped an illness would come; preferably one to kill her and free her from the masochistic lump in her chest.

Her mind should have been swallowed up in obsessive chants and echoing words and metaphors and phrases to express her pain and numbness and defeat. Instead, there was only silence. But, as though fated, a sheet of paper fell from the small clump of pages already disorderly discarded on the seat, and on it she could make out the words she wrote in a distant realm, dead in the passage of history. 'This ache within my chest is suicidal, masochistic shivers shake; they make my body quake inside and not a hope to deliver. It leads me to find agony, defiance is my sanctuary but inevitably it shuts me down. Beneath the ground, I'm buried.' As the language of a song she knew and played by heart floated over her eyes, the recognition fell under the blade of silence. She couldn't hear it. She didn't understand her own personal confessions; her soul. It was lucky to even make it into her vision at all. The letters and characters were fuzzy and meant nothing, like foreign script.

Easing the door shut with a sigh and resting her forehead against the cool, raindrop covered exterior, she held in another rush of tears threatening to spill and tip her over the edge. The back of her neck tingled in what she assumed were more miserable quivers and weather-induced convulsions scaling her shy spine, too distracted and withdrawn to recognise it as the body's intuitive perception of being watched, as indeed she was being followed. Wind swept layers of dry dust out from the various shelters they had cleverly hidden in to wait out the prior storm, swirling in the air like glowing embers from a fire as the figure crept closer. By stealth or distraction, it went unnoticed, eyes transfixed on their goal.

Without warning, Ashley had her back to the car, pinned against it by two surprisingly strong hands and, in part, the body connected to them, layered in damp attire. Any struggle she intended to pose was stunned before ever coming into being and replaced with intoxication, tripping on a high of sheer awe. She tumbled headfirst down the rabbit hole one more time. The ablaze and brightly flaring stare of Madison Duarte filled her vision, teeming with passion and emotion that was finally taking a stand, forcing itself to be acknowledged. Doubt and uncertainty fluctuated and darted across her divine features, but she was there and she didn't appear to be going anywhere, despite the apprehension.

Her gaze dropped and roamed across every available inch of the girl in her uneasy grip, no longer terrified of what she would see or under a compulsive need to restrain herself; suddenly, not so weak. This was nowhere near the type of behaviours she displayed and nothing like the person she was. Or strived to be. .Whatever. Frankly, by that point, everything she ever believed, knew or experienced in her short but fast-paced life had come into question. Her sense of identity did not escape unscathed. Usually, she manipulated her way out of situations this uncomfortable, whether because they were potentially threatening or because it was easier to charm someone else into handling it or simply for her own amusement. But no; not this time.

The one thing that remained clear and certain through all the blazes of chaos was what she wanted. And Madison always got what she wanted. Whatever it took, regardless of what suffering she had to inflict or endure in order to obtain it, she got her way. Every. Fucking. Time. Regardless of its insignificance, she treated her most flippant and unnecessary desires as the centre of the universe. She was stubborn, yes, but it turned out that love was adamant and overzealous to the point where it would kill someone rather than bestow them with the mercy of forgetting and moving on. She now knew this firsthand. At that moment, Ashley was her way and love forbid her to deny it.

But Ashley was hurt. And she couldn't confirm the shift so easily. The hope and the trust was gone just as quickly as a shadow of it had formed in the dawning rays of sunlight forming white reflections on the water. She couldn't let herself be distraught again; destroyed any further. "What are you doing here?" she asked quietly, her tremors and painful quivers halted and ceased in the wake of her hot energy, thick and wrapped around her form. Her voice was weak and anxious, perhaps vaguely pathetic. She wasn't listening to her words, just hoping they came out alright. It was overpowered by the mere presence of that incredible girl, anyway. Often in a way too detrimental and submissive to ever begrudgingly admit. "How can you mess with my emotions like this?"

Madison looked down at the ground, wordlessly surrendering her opposition to whatever guilt was rampant in her system. She knew leaving her on the beach like that was a monumental error. She hated that she ever did it. Causing her such tragic heartbreak was the worst transgression. A mortal sin that would send her to the lowest level of hell when she died after a lifetime of silent penance. And she regretted it infinitely more than anything she could do or meant to do here. "I'm sorry." She whispered without a hint of disgruntled tones or trace of instinctual self-preservation by a withheld position at the standard emotional distance to suggest there were any internal arguments to her responsibility or supposed need to apologise. And, really, there were none. In lamewits terms, she sounded sincere because it was true and let that come across, regardless of how greatly she enjoyed being right.

"No." She shook her head stubbornly, red rimming her eyes like blood spilt from the stinging wounds lining the exterior of her faith. She needed more than that. "I'm not so sure that you are." Any further whimpers or sobs were forcefully restrained; choked back by a determination not to give in or be so effortlessly under the influence of her one true love and often proclaimed nemesis. "You know so much about how I feel.maybe even too much. But I can't say a thing for a single one of your feelings. And I can't keep being confused like this!" her pleas sounded like they were offered in the midst of laughter, torn up and breathless. In both their ears, it felt like the storm ripping apart in tormented agony and misery once more. Crying inside. "What do I mean to you, really? Is this some kind of game?"

"If this were a game I would be able to quit." Their eyes met again, amidst heavy, uneven breaths and small, nervous motions they probably weren't even aware of, although they saw everything displayed opposite them clearly and with nothing if not adoration. "I can't." Madison swallowed and gently loosened her hold on the younger girl, leaning closer, mere inches away from the contact they sought. "I made the biggest mistake of my life when I kissed you." She whispered, brushing her enamoured fingers through the damp, raven locks by her cheek in an action as tender and enchanting as her voice. "It's not like before. I don't just want you; I need you." Her eyes drifted shut when their noses gently grazed, exhaling in bliss, air dancing like the best talent there ever was in the most spellbinding performance of their lives over alert skin. But Ashley remained frozen. Her heart declined to beat until she knew for certain that this was true and not destined for lethal pain. "Every step I took to keep us apart felt like torture and death until I couldn't move any further away and I had to turn back because." a short pause found their bodies arching and pressing tightly to fill whatever space remained between them, unconsciously defying their intellectual will to hesitate until they could be sure of safety, "I can't be without you."

In no more than a few words, colour and light had returned to the world again. A resounding holy gleam echoed in shockwaves throughout the entire landscape and all that was once dark. The shadows and obscurity were vanquished by radiance. They shattered and fell to the ground, any remnants quickly fading away and leaving the naïve prestige untouched and even brighter now than in days of yore when it was taken for granted. She could see again and was blessed with the chance to take in the majesty of everything around her, grand and meek alike - they were equally spectacular. But she didn't care to give it a single glance. One was too many. She didn't want to take her eyes off of the girl standing before her, not even a second's distraction, for she was the true miracle. All others were dull and blasphemous to her name.

As desperately as she wanted to believe her and give in without thought or hesitation, her heart had been six levels beyond broken until less than a minute ago and it wasn't quite fixed yet. She had to be sure this wasn't fake or foolishly optimistic because the next fall would be the one that killed her. Death was not a possibility to be risked without a good cause. Really though; any excuse would do. "I thought you said you weren't strong enough." In a way, it sounded more like a question, but she didn't know what she was asking for, aside from a reason and the confidence to trust her completely and perhaps for a little bit of luck too, but only the universe could answer or deny that request. Meanwhile, her hands ventured of their own accord onto the frosted, moist denim of Madison's jeans, causing her to look up and rejoin their intense stares.

The future was always intimidating and scary, especially when she couldn't guess the ramifications of her actions or knew that, once a path was chosen, she couldn't go back and change her decision. All those other unnerving situations of the past paled and became ill in comparison to this so, naturally, she was expecting the future to loom overhead and chase her away. And it taunted her, quite severely. But it didn't control her anymore. For once in her life, she was living in the moment and doing the wrong thing because it felt so right. How would she react when it was all over? - an uncertainty neither girl was looking forward to discovering, mind you - she didn't care. Whatever happened then was an issue she would tackle when it came about, hopefully. Now, her only concerns were responding to Ashley's lingering confusion and getting even closer to her.so close.inside; where she belonged. Madison played every worthless excuse she'd shouted or muttered earlier on the beach over and over in her head, searching for a response, but the time for justification and explanations were long gone. She moistened her lips and summoned the strength to stand tall against fear. She wanted to fly. "I'm an idiot." And then she kissed her.

She kissed her gently, chastely, just tilting her head that small but vital amount, and their lips brushed ever so slightly, barely there at all, so scarce it could have been imagined or simple anticipation tricking their gullible minds into an illusion of contact. But it had to be real because ascension claimed the pair and whisked them away to a majestic place which modulated an abandoned, muddy parking lot located just off of a fairly busy road and a make-shift bed set up in the backseat of a car into paradise. Ashley, her insecurities overcome with delight, reciprocated with a silken caress of her own, and then another. Each feathery stroke was a shared and unique experience, sending them on a private journey for two, heading towards euphoria in all its intimacy. The pure touches were undemanding and asked for no more than contact, innocent or otherwise, as long as they were together and feeling.

Unlike their lips, the rest of their bodies had far more sordid ideas. They were pressed so tightly against each other and trying to move even closer. Such a stark contrast and yet exactly the same. A little higher, teasing and scant, hardly there flicks and grazes. Then lower, crushing and grinding and merging and rocking and heaving and pushing with hips, breasts, thighs, stomachs, arms, everything else they could. Grasping at clothing, verging on ripping the material apart so as to know the feeling of skin on skin, clawing at whatever else they could find instead of tainting the sanctity of their kisses by forcing them deeper, harder as numerous urges and instincts begged for them to go. A duet of hushed moans and uneven panting, simultaneous, syncopated, in harmony and in unison, reverberated all around. Caught between cold steel and a warm body, arching into the fantastic contact, driven by passion, want, need, heaven.

An unwelcome thought strayed into Ashley's head as her fingers skimmed over a solid, circular object contained within the pocket of the older girl's pants, a notable deviation even through the somewhat thick material. It was the damn engagement ring. Her brow tensed at the thought of what disasters or - for those inclined to understatements - complications it could spell in the future and the past agony that shot through her heart when she first saw it, a half hour ago at the most. Unable to continue on good conscience without sorting that whole dilemma out first, she drew back from those delicious lips and raised a hand between them, creating but a miniscule gap, gesturing for a momentary halt to their activities, catching her breath in the short rest in between. "What about Aiden?" she asked, although, despite what the phrasing might suggest, he wasn't ranked very high on her list of people to be concerned for or really even on there at all. Her suddenly raspy and dry tone prompted her to clear her throat, though she was well past the adolescent stage of becoming embarrassed when her voice went husky with arousal.

"What about him?" asked Madison, kissing the palm raised in front of her face three times, then meticulously leading her affectionate motions over unseen trails that took her up to her fingertips, over each one in turn and deftly back down again, and there she began licking at the skin where the index finger curves into the thumb. "He means nothing to me." She bit the inside of Ashley's wrist softly, taking the hand into her own and holding it against her cheek, then nibbling further down the forearm, almost bringing their lips into beautiful contact again, but holding back from that barest inch. "You do." Her focus and physical attentions migrated back up the arm again, finding a less mind-numbing proximity. She tried to maintain eye contact all throughout the entire time she spent cherishing her fine, succulent skin, or, at least, did so to the best of her ability. To do so was polite, and yet it manifested intensity when deep, dark pools of brown met her stare and commanded her with their unspoken wishes, probably without knowing they did. "I told you that; ages ago." The thumb which she had taken into her mouth left her final cluster of words vaguely muffled, though still coherent.

The younger girl withdrew her thumb from the lips eagerly devouring it, failing to suppress the cocky and also rather giddy smirk which appeared as a result but quickly covering it up with a more serious expression, cupping Madison's cheek for a brief moment before leisurely brushing her knuckles downwards, floating like snowflakes over her flushed flesh onto her collar. "He might not mean much to you," as she spoke, the fingers of her other hand rubbed around in small circles over the impression of the valuable item in her pocket, calling its owner's attention to it as well, "But this does." Ashley heard a vaguely frustrated sigh, kind of like she was planning to interrupt or defend herself or distract her with further making-out if she continued, but she quickly shook her head to cut off whatever objection she wanted to make against her important point. "No, listen to me, okay? These aren't even my words; you said them." She put a bit of space between them, gently pushing her back a fraction, mostly to keep her mind clear and confident. The seduction tended to cloud it. "If your other life means so much to you.how can I be sure you won't go right back to it, first chance you get?"

Her eyes narrowed as she gave it some quick thought, because, although damn well aware of who and what she wanted, she couldn't trust herself so damn easily. For now, yes, but in the future, hell no. Never trust a Duarte. The wind picked up again, ruffling the stillness. She couldn't let the moment slip away. What if they never had the chance to be together again? What if her actions in the more distant future, after succumbing to temptation, would end up a thousand times more damaging to them both than anything she could do now? Dropping her line of vision to the grey pavement at her feet, she reflected on everything in the carefully constructed perfection which she was risking. And she didn't give a fuck about a single bit of it. Then there was this, with Ashley, and she didn't only crave it; she was convinced she would die without it. Without her.

It was something she dreamed about on so many nights and silent, lonely days as her guilty pleasure. It was the type of thing that inspired masterpieces which last through the ages, never forgotten and passed down as inherited knowledge before ever being viewed, heard, read; so powerful they were. How could she give that up? She didn't want to. Forgetting herself as she raised her pensive stare into the dark brown seas stretching on to the limit standing opposite her once more, she realised it wasn't fair on either of them to lie her way out of this. She began to realise that it wasn't about her. This once, her ego was ancillary. Ashley was all that mattered.

She saw an angel cast out of heaven and fallen from grace. Wings clipped by demonic misdeeds left a bloodied carpet of feathers on the ground. The radiant halo was dimmed and faithless. This angel didn't care if she lived or died. The devil soared down from crimson skies, perched on her shoulder and sang low into her ear, its forked tongue humming the backwards hymn which reminded her of abandonment, assuring her that it was looming. And it was true. If she played the selfish antagonist and spat on this holiest of beacons, then her secret seraphic love - for yes, she did love her; she loved her more than she could withstand - would be deserted and left to bleed out alone. She refused to forsake her so. But how to prove it? How to promise it?

Maybe a spontaneous spirit had taken over her psyche that day because, despite all the profound impact it would have on the rest of her life, perhaps even more than she could ever have guessed in all her melodramatic pessimism, it took her only a few seconds to reach for and follow through on a final decision, damning everything else to hell where it should ignite and burn until the apocalypse gave it rest. Madison immediately plunged inside of her pocket for the ring and pulled it out in the palm of a tight fist, in which she somewhat distantly felt the hard diamond digging a slight indentation into her supple flesh. Using all of her physical strength, she threw it away. A gold spark hurtling through the air. It rattled the far chain-link fence as it collided with the intertwining wires. The gleaming light bounced off of them, repelled and left in a daze, solemnly falling into a grated drain at the base of the wall with a piercing metallic ping that rang like church bells in a grand cathedral and echoed off the cement surround sound system. The ring was gone.

That was it. It was done. In a deep breath, in and out, she absorbed clarity from the silence, waiting for her actions to sink in. She chose what she wanted. A decision driven by the heat of the moment and forged entirely of unrepentant honesty was made with no opportunity to reconsider. And it felt good. It felt damn good.

She stared after it for a few seconds longer, revelling in the sense of accomplishment and liberation and maybe just a hint of invulnerability, a brilliant smile spreading across her unmasked face. Knowing that the ring was far beyond the point of rescue and never coming back; adhering to the finality that her heartfelt decision was impossible to reverse gave her a boost of courage and confidence the likes of which she rarely knew. She didn't regret her choice or hear screaming voices cursing her name. It came so easily, without crying over it or panicking for days, weeks, months or years before and after its birth. There was no way in hell she and Aiden were ever getting married now. One problem was solved. A lifetime of new possibilities just began.

Curious as to her reaction and seeking signs of approval from the girl it was all done for, the sole reason, Madison looked over at Ashley, who was still leaning against the car. In contrast to immediate jubilation or deviously motivated rejoicing, she saw naught but a shocked expression, stunned and blinking and in total disbelief. In many ways, that was far more effective than anything else she could have shown, positive or negative. Impressed with her success, her smirk grew in size. But then her face quickly fell as an afterthought struck her, tensing her forehead and dropping her shoulders. "Fuck, I really should have pawned it, huh? That had to be worth at least a grand." A few more moments of thought revealed this belated consideration to be true. "Shit!" Her leather boot scuffed the ground, which was still a little wet, and she grumbled in mild annoyance. Unable to maintain a straight face for any further measure of time, she cracked up in graceful, refined but genuinely elated laughter and shook her head, marking her frustration as a joke. It was so hard to believe. She was free. Was this what it felt like?

She blinked again, glancing over to the chain-link fence and the grates beneath it and then turning her eyes back towards Madison, struggling to comprehend what she'd just witnessed, replaying it on a loop. Perhaps the memory, sights and sounds inclusive, left a residual echo on the scene. Did she really do that? No; it couldn't be true. It had to be a trick. Surely there was a second, authentic ring hidden somewhere up her sleeve and this was all some elaborate scheme to hurt her. There was no way anyone would actually give something up to be with her, irrespective of the sense, never mind toss the symbolic representation for their whole fucking life and everything they worked tirelessly to gain from it into the gutter. Usually they just left. Eventually, her thoughts began to clear and band together logically, reasoning that her suspicion was unfounded and detrimental to them both, which meant, by process of elimination, that she most likely wasn't lying. And yet, Ashley found that the most mystifying outcome of all.

"You." everything she'd ever dared to hope and wish for was coming true at the exact same point in time and a hell of a whole lot more was due to follow. Oh god. Oh god. Oh god. She felt the same way. Or a near enough substitute that they could both live with masquerading it as truth. "You did that.for me.?" no one ever did anything for her. Not like that. Tears were forming in her eyes, but she swore to herself not to cry. Not now damn it. A fairy tale was taking shape that morning, whispered by a breeze aiding seagulls in a flight overhead, and it was not as she expected. It wasn't precisely as her ideal fantasy ritually played out. For once, Ashley was the mistreated maiden and not, as she'd imagined, the brave knight come to rescue her from serpentine chaos and decline. She was a victim. And her hero had come in the guise of the one she'd deemed necessary of saving only a few minutes ago, if it was also then declared an impossible feat and subsequently given up on. Instead of wretchedly hoping for help that never arrived, Madison ended up fighting her monstrous dragon alone and running to the actual damsel's aid. She was her saviour; she restored hope to her soul. The world was a wonderful place of miracles and happiness and prosperity once more. It surely must be a dream.

The unwitting hero's hands went into her pockets. They were empty. Nothing to hold onto or draw strength from, but she didn't regret it for a second. Not if it meant they had a shot at togetherness. A fast, hard pounding built up in her chest; paranoid delusion, a side-effect of her sterling intoxication. This honesty and depth was still scary as hell, especially when there was so much silence in between. It took so long. What if, in the next moment, it turned out to be all for nothing? What if it backfired? Her existence would become obsolete. "Yeah; for you." She nodded gradually, shifting her stance so as to face her in a manner more direct and respectful. She paused for a beat, rethinking her statement, in pursuit of a better, slightly more accurate version of an answer. Every verse of unspoken dialogue was crucial and it had to come through in translation. ".For us." The amendment to her phrasing was coupled with a peaceful smile and a vaguely shy look back up at Ashley, quickly averted down again to avoid feeling the sweet discomfort that it caused to look at her.

Ever so slowly and oh so very brightly, the most amazing smile broke out over the younger girl's previously unreadable and blank expression, like sunlight over the peak of a dark, shadowed mountain at daybreak, illuminating the life that flourished on its plentiful slopes. Madison felt soft hands holding onto her waist at the sides, luring her forwards into a close proximity not unlike before. Perhaps now their gratifying compression was even greater. Her skin was sensitive there and buzzed at the enervating suggestion of contact like it was alive and every particle was swarming to the energy source. A second found her short of breath but in the next it was abundant. Strange as it was, this was repeated only moments later. She glanced up into the ecstatic and clearly just a little overwhelmed eyes of Ashley, who was stuttering and quietly stumbling for something meaningful to say or maybe debating whether to mutter a word at all, and she was sure then that no other choice could have been more correct than choosing her. Soaking and vaguely flushed and vulnerable and open and ruffled and at the end of an emotional rollercoaster, she was the embodiment of raw beauty. Nothing less than transcendent.

"Oh my god." Was all she was able to utter, almost laughing yet sounding on the brink of bursting into tears. The girl of her dreams was determined to be with her and, for the present, at least, apparently willing to sacrifice anything she asked her to part with if it allowed for that to happen, or perhaps just aiming to prove she was genuine and real in her romantic descriptions and claims and actions, removing any cause for hesitation. Frankly, her motives or intended outcomes for whatever she was trying to achieve were inconsequential. It worked. She was swept off her fucking feet and too charmed to prevail with scepticism. "You're perfect." Their foreheads rested together again, staring into shaded and glimmering, covertly shimmering layers of white and brown and black so near to their own. They memorised every detail therein from the obvious to the illusionary - tricks of the light and mind were surely common and damned lucky for getting to be inside them so. "Do you have any idea how unworthy I feel of being in your presence right now?" she laughed under her breath, thanking her with a firm kiss to the corner of the older girl's mouth.

Relief was an understatement. Her risk had paid off without even a slight backfire and what she gained in return wasn't merely worthwhile; it was priceless. "Mhmm; I have some idea." She smirked and let her lips skim upwards over her chin and a faintly reddened cheek in response, positioning her hands on the wet car, either side of Ashley's body. Her small, studded earrings shone in the flares of a solar canopy beaming down at an angle from the ceiling of the empty building. Sly and playfully devious, she leant forwards until there was less than an inch of space separating her from the younger girl's ear. "But, if it's any consolation, you're definitely not unworthy of being in my pants." Madison raised her eyebrows once suggestively and growled, rolling an 'r' sound through her mischievous grin. As she pulled away, gently scraping her teeth over her beautiful, smooth skin, her hips rocked into the slender ones held firm and snug against her own, making her intentions and desires and absolute seriousness clear.

When she was back far enough to take in her reaction, sneakily casting her gaze up to the side, and yet still so very close that her head was over Ashley's shoulder and even made slight contact with her wet wife beater top, she saw her radiant eyes had gone wide with a level of comical excitement that could only be described as cute. ".Wow.That's some good consolation." She bit her grinning lower lip and loosely wrapped her arms further around Madison's middle, embracing her and linking her hands together at the back. She was kind of unsure whether she should feel particularly nervous or full of glee but, not prepared to let either ruin her allure, refrained from both. "Seriously though, worthy or not, I am so there." As she looked at the captivating enchantress' eyes, then lips, and then permitted her gaze to glide down a fraction - a small but significant fraction - below her face and saw their bodies locked together and merging into unity, all the while with surges of heat constantly rushing throughout her system wherever they touched, which was everywhere, she realised the scope of what they were talking about and the emotions carried with it on concept alone. Images subsequently flashed through her mind, each more carnal and animalistic and intense than the last. Sweat. Skin. Sex.

Her stare darkened with arousal. She was ready.

They were so close. If asked, they would have sworn they felt each other's hearts beating rhythmically to a deified meter, the pulse resonating and pounding subtly but strong against their own chest, or if not quite that then, at the very least, they could sense its resplendent vibration. Coy smiles were overridden by impure thoughts and impulses exploding in wave upon tidal wave of passion and lust and something even deeper, more colossal than both of those combined. Cheeks nuzzled into shoulders and the crooks of their necks, rubbing gently and searching blindly as though led or commanded by some unseen force, tender affection in their movements, fusing into one. And then they were kissing again; a sensation they would never tire of and never lessened.

It wasn't chaste like before; there was biting and licking and their lips were crushed together, engulfing and consuming everything they could. Fingers clawed at the car, dragging her nails down over the window and shiny black paint, trying to grab onto it and use it as leverage to delve further into her curves and flats and valleys, arching her back and grinding her hips forward with a sensual but agonisingly slow pace. In chorus, they moaned, probing their tongues past the external barriers of lips and skin, meeting and melding and relishing in the thrill of delirium on their tastebuds. A stampede of shivers coursed through electric shocks in the nervous system and burst through a raging flood in their bloodstream, but it had nothing to do with cold temperatures or soggy clothes.

Wrong and immoral by religion, perhaps, but it was the only thing that seemed natural and right. Madison always wanted things. Usually a whole lot of things at once. Rarely a time went by when she didn't have anything in mind that she was trying to obtain. Her sense of self-entitlement and predisposition to the envy of other people weren't false or exaggerated or something she could deny on her honour, not without a detestable level of audacity, at least, and, thus, craving and desire was nothing new. However, there was absolutely no correlation between any of that immaterial trifle and the way Ashley tempted her like the seductive snake - although there was a distinct lack of a snake of any description, hence the problem - and how she yearned to touch her and go somewhere beyond anything either one of the destined pair had ever known or experienced with her.

Never, not even in her wild, fanciful dreams of an ideal romance, did she sincerely think it was possible to be as sure as she was then that to be with them, to be inside of them and a part of them was destiny. And it was scary to feel this much, especially for a girl she'd spent so long trying to hurt in order to quench the revealed, unwelcome same-gender attraction she had for her. But it had to be okay then, didn't it? Her heart was so devoted and certain in its love that no matter what she tried it never diminished or became jaded. That meant it was real and valid and, one could only hope, something other than a sin. Didn't it? .Didn't it? She chose to be strong, banishing doubt and Catholic guilt from her mind.

Her hands moved lower. One in particular, which situated itself between Ashley's legs and started to rub up and down along the damp seam of her fly, the silence erupting with incoherent sounds of approval and encouraging squeezes and muffled whispers taking a deity's name in vain. Madison had to suppress her own reactions - vocal, mental, etcetera - because she feared an overload if it turned out she was incapable of coordinating so many movements and emotions simultaneously, each sending her over the brink of joy. But she continued stroking, neither vigorously nor tentatively. It was a vow of the world of beautiful things they would explore together. Usually an action like that was performed to manipulate guys into doing whatever she wanted or, alternatively, just to shut them up. Those boys would do anything when the prospect of sex skulked behind it. She was their keeper, training them to obey any demand through reward and punishment until, like Pavlov's dog, they learned to expect it. Defiling her own body in the process was a mere catch.

But not this time. It was real.

The way she touched, the way she moved was amazing. Simple, yes, and no doubt easy to re-enact, as far as what she was actually physically doing, but the way it affected her was.magic. Were it not for the support against her back, her feet would have given out and slipped and let her crumble onto her back, watching everything else spin above her in converging and receding ellipses. One might suspect the captivation should expire after so many kisses with girls, and, seeing as so few of them left her even remotely dizzy or short of breath, Ashley had started to wonder if the novelty indeed had worn off. And maybe that was the case, but Madison was something different. There was an untapped newness or a unique quality about her which set her apart from all the rest.

Moaning and quiet utterances of nothing followed each and every stroke of their tongues deep inside. Letting them lick along anything that was possible to find with gentle force or tease ever so scantily at the tip and then withdraw back into their own mouths or pursue the retreat in order to discover more was all they could do to function. They had to concentrate to stay cognisant and stay alive, and yet they were long since carried away.

Their vital requirement to breathe was ranked second to feeling the delicious magnetic vice, locking in and tightening on their senses, so separate from what remained of a conscious mind. It was like astral projection, pulling their awareness out of their organic being and sending it on a ride to another dimension where the spirits could fall into one and shed the misguided perception of individuality for as long as their souls mated there on top of the rolling sheets of light, which rose and fell and swept the celestial shores in candle flame flickers of life's ethereal energy. That most inspirational and holy of visions was there, visible just over the edge. And, for a moment, they were omniscient.

They were so consumed by the motions of a perfect body against their own that it wasn't so hard to believe that a single slight sway could decide whether they lived or died. But, be it true, then what a way to go. If they were to die now then this moment of enlightenment and peace would be preserved forever and they would know eternal completion and nirvana awaited them in the afterlife. So, there was no discouragement from relying on luck to endow them with pin-point precision and keep them both alive until their journey was at an end. If any finish could be considered satisfactory, that is.

Ashley gently trailed one hand along her sensitive side, led it up over her supple breast - exerting notably greater pressure through her steadily climbing palm there and, in gratitude for her efforts, there was a quiet hiss of desire and a substantially increased force against her body, enhancing all the close contact between them, particularly the rubbing between her legs - and eased it around her neck until she'd lodged her fingers in the wet tendrils of Madison's hair, pulling her further inside, flourishing and bending and flattening out her tongue to draw her in. By now, beads of sweat had joined in with surviving drops of rain and slowly dripped down their foreheads and, from their skin, was absorbed into the fabric of their clothes. Desperation had started to conquer their intentions to be tender and loving for however much longer until one thing led to another, but said one thing was leading to the aforementioned other sooner than they expected. An additional level of frenzy became part of their already hectic kisses and passionate touches. One by one, any attempts to be patient were thwarted and thwarted with haste. Something drove them to discard whatever they could afford to relinquish in order to leave room for only sensation and lust.

Fumbling blindly behind her and striving to do so without disrupting the erotic junction even the slightest amount, Ashley attempted to locate the latch for the car door, but couldn't find it. It became the sole object and single-minded goal of her will. They had to get inside. It was there that they could venture so far beyond what any of their hopeless, heartbreaking dreams had ever dared to promise. Nerves were beginning to compromise her coordination and capabilities, and she wasn't the only one affected by them. But she had felt this way about her for two whole years - long before coming to terms with her sexuality - and definitely wasn't prepared to fuck it up now.

Was this really going to happen? Oh god. She kept searching for the handle, standing up and away from the vehicle, curves pressing delightfully into Madison's, delight ignited by electricity, the coarse friction flourishing in sparks from smooth surfaces. After a few more falters of her fingers over warm, wet, flat metal and still encountering no deviation she groaned in frustration and smashed her fist into the steel, as if she thought it might prompt the car to cooperate. It didn't.

Tilting her head to the side and forcing one of her eyes open - she covertly rolled it in slight annoyance here and wondered why she hadn't waited just a little longer in order to jump her when she was already in the car, thus eliminating one more time-waster early - Madison reached around the younger girl's side and opened the door with only mild difficulty, awkwardly stumbling back and forth slightly in their struggle to remain mutually balanced, molten hot breath singing pleasure over adrenaline coated flesh.

Ashley, pulling the door ajar behind her, broke the kiss and smirked in that most endearing of ways, panting heavily in her attempt to regain some air, as only now did she become aware of her body's exhausting but relatively trivial lack of oxygen. A glint briefly flashed across her stare, but they were so near it was almost impossible to see, everything masked by an erotic fog. "Thanks." She brushed her lips lightly over the flushed tan skin which fell beneath it, then followed it up with more, steadily working her way towards the neck and dragging both her hands down her clothed back and sliding them around her hips, this foreplay driving them both nearer to some wanton, primeval madness, defeated only by gratification and the masochistic love for this heavenly torture.

"You're welcome." She raised an eyebrow as well as the corners of her lips, daring to drop her gaze to the hands that were moving lower and lower and excited her to no end with the thought of what they might do there. Despite looking at them with interest, they didn't reveal anything about her hopefully wicked aims. Her head reflexively shot up again as the kisses seamlessly shifted into gentle suction, focusing exclusively on one of her neck's more tender points. The open car stood there in her vision, graciously welcoming her inside with tantalising whispers of wonderful things to come. They had to get in there. "You going to invite me into yo-WAH!" Madison squealed when Ashley abruptly picked her up off the ground without warning, whirled around in a snap and then all but threw her into the car, where she landed on her back rather comfortably amidst the messed up sheets.

Her shadow blocked the light from outside as Ashley clambered inside the car and got on top of her, knees either side of her legs, straightening up and leaning back, just a little, in a vaguely arrogant way, but the demeanour only added to her overwhelming sexual appeal. Madison raised her upper-body onto her elbows, appraising every available detail with abandon and a total disregard for modesty, drinking in the form she would come to know and memorise by touch with her eyes first before anything else happened to let her other senses fulfil their wish. She was so beautiful.

With a quiet, cheeky snicker, she repositioned her hands on the seat next to her head and, resting her weight on them, slowly stretched her body out to hover almost symmetrically above the older girl, whose expression suggested no complaints at all to this development. Widening her smirk a bit more, she bent down, not stopping until the small studded earring grazed her lips. "Was that inviting enough for you?" she husked, pleasantly aware of an ecstatic shiver and hitching inhalation from the girl beneath her. Naturally, this spurred her on and, sweeping some hair aside, she licked around the outside of her ear, lightly blowing on it as she moved down and whispered again. "No RSVP necessary."

Of its own will, one hand shot out from behind her back to tangle itself in the younger girl's hair and guide her up into the intense kiss that was waiting for her with a slow pace but a firmness, strong and hard, which made it absolutely incredible; a tangible presence in itself. Ashley returned it with vigour, meanwhile easing Madison's other arm from under her body, carefully laying her flat against the unruly blanket since she was without another limb to support herself, and leading it onto the exposed skin of her waist below the crumpled up edge of her wife beater. Only a few seconds later, she felt it moving further around her middle and the fingers gripping there and rubbing at her back, slipping underneath her top as they pleased.

In sync with every forceful caress going on a little higher, their hips ground together in a manner that nearly mirrored those lips further up in power and, hell, even appearance. Using the leverage she had, Ashley pushed down into her ready and waiting flesh - every inch of it, in fact - and moved nearly her whole body each time she did so. For the greater good, she was putting as much of her weight behind the tender, even rocking as she could manage from that horizontal position without falling or accidentally breaking the gradual build-up of great, bruising brushes, which continued to dictate the rhythm controlling them through the resounding beats of their primal dance, and the flurry of fervent licks that collided during. And as the girl on top pressed forward at a torturous rate that drove her love-dominated mind to scream and beg for the mercy of more, Madison submitted to her lead, meeting her motions by rising up from below and tightening her arms in assistance, pulling her closer.

They spoke in incoherent noises, only the scarcest of portions escaping from the hungry mouths which were predatorily poised to capture the sounds and swallow them whole. But this surpassed language and communication - the terrifying quantity of necessary issues they had yet to discuss notwithstanding - as it was born of a time that maybe outdated creation, never mind the invention of communicable speech. Somehow though, they discovered a kind of understanding for the meanings that were carried through the metaphysical stream of spirit and it became clear that nothing threatened the sincerity of what they felt for each other, nor could anything erase the truth they now knew. So they would be content to lie there, side by side, basking in the pure connection and talking in hushed tones until there was nothing left to say and every fragment of the future had been planned out and sworn by. They needn't fear loss for the present. But not just yet.

For just a few seconds, Madison tilted her chin back and put a glimpse of space between their emphatic caresses, her perfect teeth biting down on the bottom lip previously stroking against her own as she pulled away. She growled low somewhere in the depths of her throat and breathed into the small shadows keeping them apart. Their noses still rested together but their eyes remained closed due to proximity. However, they could see the entirety of the features before them as an apparition at the front of their minds. "Do you have any idea how hot that was?" She whispered quietly, slowly, a most sultry of moans playing accompaniment to her speech. Despite phrasing it as a question, she didn't wait for an answer and cut off any possibility of hearing one with her tongue. When Ashley tried to reciprocate, eagerly at that, she withdrew from her mouth and gave her a most chaste of pecks, a little game of her own. The younger girl whined softly, lathering attention on her neck and bared collar, nuzzling into her there. She gained no sympathy, however, and, instead, was rewarded with only a chuckle. "Manhandling me like that," she grinned, the hand making circles underneath the top above her wandering out of its hiding place and following her spine until it came to the expanse of her breast, cupping it from the side, "How very classy of you."

Perhaps the opportunity to again gather some air into her lungs fixed her obstructed thought processes somewhat because, at that point, a very important consideration struck her which she realised had yet to be addressed. In fact, there were several, but one in particular that not a soul in the world knew to be on her mind. Halting her meticulous nibbling, she diverted her gaze up to the nearby eyes that were already sparkling into her own in an adoring and complacent stare. Sighing, Ashley lowered her body onto Madison's and folded her arms underneath her chin, rising and falling with each steady breath taken by the girl below. She had to know. If they did this any later it would be too sudden and too awkward and she wouldn't have the chance to think. "Are you sure about this?" she asked, a caring but serious tone in her whispering voice.

She smiled brightly, almost laughing, and her radiant glow seemed to illuminate every shadow or dark shade into a collage of white, silver and gold. "Not at all, but that certainly isn't going to stop me from being with you." Madison brushed her hand through the mussed up, dark brown locks cascading down the side of her forehead, a silken repetitive motion in the corner of her eye, though each touch was as affectionate as the one that preceded it. When she lifted her head slightly, Ashley was lit from behind by scattering spectrums of sunlight and reflections off of lingering water that hit the humid air, the combination enveloping her with dazzling rainbow colours, nearly blinding gleams and a gradual filter of nameless particles that floated ever so slowly towards the ground in waves of brilliant falls. Such a magnificent view.

"Yeah, I know you're here now, and you've proved to me that you are, in fact, committed to.going through with this, I guess. But what about afterwards?" consciously or otherwise, she gently moved into the sentimental caresses, ever so slightly rubbing against the palm on her head, not unlike a cat being similarly petted. "We can't be sure how things are going to go from there on out so.I think we should.sort this out now.because we don't really know exactly how much we expect.or want from each other in future." She made sure to pick her words decisively, pausing whenever she was uncertain of phrasing or when the internalised debates grew too loud. Tracing patterns and small circles onto the thin, damp sweater beneath her fingers, partially to distract herself from the heat coursing throughout her system at that very moment and also because she felt a little nervous about bringing all of this up and perhaps giving the impression that she didn't trust her. Honestly, she couldn't say whether or not she did without it being a lie. And, also, she was scared of the answer her essential question would incur. "I mean, we haven't even made it clear if either of us plans on sticking around in the morning, you know?"

Madison arched an eyebrow in amusement, restraining her cheerful snickering before she completely cracked up, obviously not phased by the serious turn their conversation had taken. "Ashley," she indicated the scene outside with a short movement of her eyes and a nod in that general direction, "It is morning." The younger girl looked up at the ceiling, closed her eyes, groaned and dropped her head back onto her arms, burying her face among them as her attempt to bring up something serious was shot down and declared, by her own inner-voices, stupid. This only added to the mirth of the other, expanding her grin and prompting her to laugh quietly. "Yeah, I don't think we've got a lot of choice on that last one." Muffled words which she couldn't quite make out came from the head on top of - or perhaps more accurately somewhere within - her chest as a response. "I'm sorry, but you really have to get your face out of my rack if you want me to be able to hear you." She chuckled a little more so, although for once it wasn't malevolent or meant to cause her harm.

Ashley lifted her head and glared at the girl, who was still sniggering at her expense. "I said it was a figure of speech, jerk." She lightly swatted her on the chest, although a smirk of her own appeared soon after and revealed her annoyance as being merely playful. Rolling off of her and crawling a little further up, she quickly collapsed down next to her, so that their heads were adjacent, on her side with her arms draped over her middle. "Quit being mean; this is important." Madison composed herself and cleared her throat, taking just a couple of seconds and then nodding for her to continue when her grin was sufficiently subdued. "Thank you. Now, where do you want this.between us to go?" she settled her voice, sounding genuinely concerned about what her answer would be.

Taking the younger girl's hand into her own, she sighed and stared up at the ceiling, wishing they didn't have to risk such serious talk. "I don't know." She shook her head, her thumb loosely rubbing around her smooth skin, drawing strength from her and hoping to reassure her that the silence wasn't a strictly negative thing. Unfortunately, no matter how long she focused on the spot just a little to the side of the lights, it never gave her a certain solution. Madison smiled wistfully, looking over at her again. "Actually, I was kind of intending to play this by ear and.thinking I'd see what I'll do when things happen.because, if I thought too far ahead." With a deep breath, she prepared to continue, "Well, put it this way; if I'd given it any more forethought whatsoever then there's no way in hell I would have come near you on the beach today." She knew immediately that her words would have a bad result and, thus, to prevent it being taken out of context, she again brushed Ashley's hair back, making sure their eye contact didn't break. "I'm glad I did, though. Heh, cheerleaders thinking rarely leads to good things, right? And I say that with utter contempt for most of my colleagues." After a few more seconds of silence, she began to worry something had gone awry. Her face fell into a foreboding cringe. "Oh god I hope you didn't take that the wrong way."

"It's alright; I know what you meant." She smiled and leaned over, kissing her chastely on the lips, her dark eyes faltering as she moved away to rest her head in the crook of her neck against the collar of her shirt. Madison let out the breath she'd been holding in relief and grasped onto her hand a little tighter. "But, you know, it's not just you." Ashley struggled over the right things to say and what she was meant to do to make it easier on them both. Should she reconsider bringing it up? Would she say yes? Would she turn her down and walk away? "I already know what it is I want to do." Hesitation was looming over her and making her doubt her previous decision, one that had seemed like her only option a few minutes ago. Was it better to bend to her will, as she had for far less meaningful individuals in her life, and hope things turned out for the best just this once? But she'd been depressed for so long.The cycles of pain and abandonment could only continue here. Nothing good would follow. As a relationship, they definitely couldn't work out in this accursed place. It would doom them. She had to.

"Mhmm?" Madison warily urged her to go on - unwittingly saving Ashley from a terrible spiral of dark thoughts and visions, which were a regular occurrence even in times of peace and happiness due to her apparent predisposition to angst - despite feeling uneasy as to what her hopes might entail. She seriously doubted whether she'd be able to comply with any promises she made that day and a part of her mind was already convinced and certain that she would wind up inflicting unforgivable damage to the other girl. It was easy to say she would try and do her best to be flexible and pliant where she required her to be, but once she got around the same old faces and all those typical everyday places, it was like she became that completely different, arguably perfect person, through and through. And if she asked her to make their.whatever they became after today public knowledge.there was no way in hell she could do that. She knew this much was truth. In fact, she'd only admitted the desire to herself recently, within the past hour to be precise. But other people? Never.

With a sigh, she steeled herself, watching the brown and red leaves blowing and chasing each other across the empty parking lot. She wanted to be free like them. "You know that I can't stay here, right?" she muttered cautiously, damn near silently, perhaps hoping on some subconscious level that they could both avoid any repercussions if her concerns were too quiet to hear. But then, in time with deeper thoughts and a sudden return of her usual identity, memories, personality, she found a burst of courage and confidence that strengthened her tone and will as well. Or maybe she remembered why she was so angry and hurt earlier on that fateful morning and couldn't leave the contemplations forgotten. "With all the shit I have to deal with day in and day out, I mean like school, Spencer and, uh, living out of my car," she rapped her knuckles on the folded-out seat underneath them in time with the reference, "I might die in this.fucking place!" Ashley sat up, releasing Madison's hand in favour of pulling at her own hair, her face obscured by the fingers and palms. Why did she have to do this? It was easier to let herself hurt. She'd never risk being alone if she could just bare it a little longer.

Immediately, it became fairly easy to assume the direction in which this conversation was about to turn, and it didn't look good for either of them. Madison sat up, loosely embracing Ashley from behind. "Hey, hey, hey; isn't that a little extreme? I mean, what do you want me to say?" she asked, though it was predominantly to herself. What did she have to do to keep her here? She wasn't sure what was expected of her, and responsibility was not something she ever planned on having to face or put up with in her ideal world. More importantly, she couldn't bear to see her leave without knowing if, perhaps, she could have prevented it from going that far. If it meant togetherness, any sacrifice was preferable. "You don't have to go." Her arms tightened slightly, as though holding onto her to stop her from ever getting too far away, acting the loving tether. As hard as she tried to determine a better alternative, it didn't appear any of them were actually possible or likely to work. Was this it? Was this goodbye? But it couldn't be; they'd just found each other.

"What, are you going to invite me to stay with you and completely change your role in life here?" she snickered humourlessly and shook her head, already aware of the answer to the rhetorical question. Gently, her fingers brushed along the clothed arms wrapped around her middle. "I couldn't ask you to do that. I know you can't." Ashley wasn't entirely without foresight or realism, even if she did think herself more than a little selfish for even bringing this up in the first place, forcing her to make a decision. She heard Madison murmur quietly as she bent forward, resting her head comfortably on her shoulder, and she wondered if it was meant to be an apology. In that moment, she thought the wrong person was receiving the blame if indeed it was. Her hand found jeans to gently stroke, and she wasn't sure whose they were. "It's like you said; I don't have much choice on this either. But you do, because.essentially." a deep breath, in and out, focusing straight ahead, summoning the strength to risk everything and nothing, "What I want to know is.if I asked you to run away with me." it wasn't right to ask her this without making eye-contact, so, for the sake of common decency, she turned her head, meeting the gaze already on her, "Would you?" There, she did it; she ruined everything.

"Yes." The sound of her reply was swallowed up in a snap, almost faster than it could register. She hadn't even waited to blink before she responded. In fact, it was spoken before Ashley completely finished asking her question. To some extent, this answer was a mutual surprise, or would have been if they weren't totally dumbfounded. It was so short and so sudden; they were both more than a little uncertain if they'd actually heard anything at all. But, as difficult as it was to believe that the positive and desperately hoped for reaction had slipped from between her cherry reddened lips, Madison meant it. Every fibre if her being was behind it, like an army supporting the kind soul who held their true allegiance. She was honest and felt proud of her own decisiveness and certainty, without a single doubt or cause for reconsideration. Could she live with any other selection? Probably not.

Soon afterwards, her one-word statement sunk in as fact. Oh god. Where did things go from there? Was that really what she wanted? Had she only said yes because it seemed like an ultimatum in the making? She knew what it was like to be forced into situations which she loathed and hated forever after, by her parents, her friends, her lovers. Her whole life had been full of them. Her first assumption for such an instantaneous reply was that Madison felt in a similar predicament - though why, she couldn't really say since she should have known her better - and there was no way she could do that to her and let her hurt. Feeling vaguely sheepish and guilty for her brashness, she tried to backtrack and be more passive when she addressed it, giving her more opportunity to think the offer through. Ashley couldn't help but reconcile this to the night with Spencer, which made it seem like the possibility she only agreed because she felt pressured into doing so was more logical than any alternative, and, even if things weren't quite that severe, it wasn't right to let her make that choice out of the heat of the moment. Either way, it wasn't real. "You don't have to make a decision right now." She shook her head and laughed to cover her own insecurity and pain. "I mean, at least take some time to think it ov-"

"Yes." Madison interrupted her without hesitation, half way through rolling her eyes at the time. Why didn't people ever take her seriously when she needed them to or actually was? Besides, if anyone was going to back out of this, it was her. Her word was always final. And, clearly, she didn't plan on doing that this time. After a short pause spent staring unwaveringly into Ashley's eyes and watching her stare back, communicating exactly how serious she was through the glimmers of emotion flickering over her gaze, she swivelled around and spread her legs over to either side of hers, effectively straddling her lap and getting her attention to say the least. She draped her arms over her shoulders and placed a kiss on the tip of her nose. "If I didn't mean it, I wouldn't have said it. And I hate this city probably almost the same way you do, alright?" the younger girl looked down, still repenting her suggestion, asking so much from such a wonderful person and making her give up so many of the things she held dear. Her chin was quickly lifted by two familiar fingers. "Hey, there'll be no more head-hanging in my presence, you hear?" punctuating her tone of command, she removed her digits and patted her firmly on the cheek, which earned a faint smile out of her prior, troubled expression; an improvement, to say the very least.

In a way, she hated the way in which the tide of events had flowed that fantastically blessed morning. Why did she have to be responsible for the ruthless theft of Madison's entire life? It wasn't fair to her. She felt selfish. She felt like some kind of horrid monster, pleading with her one true love to throw everything and everyone she'd ever known and cared about deeply in order to follow some crazy ambition of a forbidden romance that could never last. Why did she have to be so damn nice? It broke her heart and it would cause them both pain if she followed through. "Where is this coming from? Why do you have to be so perfect?" Ashley held her closer around the hips with one hand and gently stroked the back of her neck with the other. She couldn't take anything at face value anymore, and it didn't make sense how someone could possibly change so greatly and so rapidly with no apparent source. "Are you trying to prove something? Because you really don't have to; I already feel this way about you. You don't need to manipulate it out of me like with others." It was the first logical thing she could think of, but she didn't know if she believed it herself. She was grasping at straws, trying to find some reason that justified somebody liking her.

Madison groaned and resisted the urge to slap some sense into her as she had on the beach, figuring that twice made her officially abusive. "Jesus, what do I have to do to.? This is seriously offensive now, girl!" She shook her head and glared at her, wide-eyed, like she was at the end of her rope. And she was. This utter lack of faith Ashley seemed to have in everything was depressing to be near and somewhat aggravating in that, no matter what she did, it always extended to her as well. "Why is it that, when I hate you, you're like this confident, arrogant bitch but, when I want to be with you," she glanced down at their compromising and suggestive position, "Sexually, as well as emotionally, you can't even take a fucking compliment?! I thought I was supposed to be the problem getting in the way of us!" she all but growled, but calmed down by closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, trying to empathise and cause no further harm. When she again looked, she saw guilt and couldn't help but feel tender compassion above all else. "You have no idea how long I've been in lo-.into you this way, do you?" she whispered, softly rubbing her arms.

"No, not really. What is it, like a week or something?" she laughed somewhat awkwardly, glancing around the vicinity to distract herself from the serious and disapproving look she was being given. It didn't take her long to let up and realise she wasn't helping. Almost instantly, she stopped her false display of humour and comfort, her eyes sparkling up apologetically. "I'm sorry. I really am. It's just that.you're losing your whole life because of me." Ashley trailed off into silence for several, intense seconds, slowly leaning forwards, closing the gap, ".And because of you, I'm gaining everything I've ever wanted." Her gaze quickly fluttered up and down as they drew nearer to each other. Thankfully the older girl didn't back away, no longer so frustrated. She brushed her lips over Madison's in a gentle kiss and hoped that the simple touch would perhaps restore the same sense of insight and understanding it usually did.

There was a short wait afterwards, silently begging for forgiveness through her apologetic gaze, before she was answered with another, equally sweet kiss. "It's not your fault." Madison smiled and adjusted her position slightly, her fingers splaying and stroking in an unconscious rhythm. "I'm still trying to grasp this myself. But, it's like." when she turned her head to look away, Ashley gently nudged her cheek, urging her to say it and do so properly. She knew it was only right to tell her this the right way; eye to eye. "It's like you're never going to trust me, no matter how much I give away." The breeze outside was cool and picking up in strength again, catching on the door and entering into the car in a comforting gust. Her hands tightened on her shoulders as she continued, refraining from getting too upset because she knew it wasn't appropriate or likely to be taken seriously. People had a tendency, once they knew her, to take her genuine feelings for melodramatics because of how frequently her behaviours were acts, a situation for which she could relate to the infamous boy who cried wolf. "How am I supposed to know what to do to earn that? And how can my promises mean anything if I know you don't expect them to be kept?"

Ashley hugged her closer, nuzzling into her shoulder and gently pressing her lips to the exposed skin just a little ways in from her collar, sliding both hands down to her denim clad hips as she swallowed the self-deprecation and prepared to speak. "I do trust you. I do. But I just wish there was a better way." Her voice came out not unlike a growl, hating her recently acquired and, clearly, mastered ability to ruin Madison's entire existence. "I wish there was some way that we could be together that didn't involve destroying your life just to make me happy." She didn't want to hurt her; the effect was unintentional. She never meant to make it sound as though she couldn't put her faith in a single word she said. Unfortunately, as she thought it over, it was hard not to take it the wrong way when it came across as being such a strange insecurity and, yet, they had a habitual tendency to cause each other harm through any means necessary, particularly lying. How else was she supposed to interpret it?

Madison smirked and, pushing all of her previous concerns and argumentative discrepancies out of her mind, lightly stroked and petted Ashley's hair, encouraging her to again restore eye-contact. She wasn't really mad at her to begin with, just a little frustrated about everything which had kept them apart for so long. In other terms, herself. "And what makes it so impossible for you, and us, to be enough to satisfy me?" she murmured in a low and sultry voice, near enough in her expression of her mood via features and tone to suggest playfully winking at her or flirtatious teasing, even though she didn't partake in either and, instead, slowly trailed her hands downwards until they paused on flawlessly sculpted stomach muscles and, then, settled there. They felt even more remarkable under her delicate touch than she ever imagined whilst discreetly watching her from afar or fantasising in her times of solitude, pretending it was anything other than desire behind her thoughts. She almost lost her voice, but maintained a cool head. "Who says I'm not happy as well?"

The breeze again wandered into the car, ruffling hair and semi-dry fabric. She made a good point, but there was one key question on which everything relied. "Are you? .Happy, I mean." Ashley asked quietly and with nothing less than total sincerity, steadying the older girl's balance when she adjusted her grip - allowing Madison to shift her posture into something more comfortable - and brushing her thighs in a tender yet firm action when she stilled. Her face went a shade redder and got a little warmer at the heat which she could feel, rapidly growing in that area as it warranted more and more concentration, and only just beginning to realise their position. Only thin layers of material made the difference that separated their current situation from sex and the release of years of repressed sexuality in the best kind of way.

Apparently, so did Madison, because the time for talking was through. In response to her question, she said nothing, however, she did, instead, reach behind her, skilfully bending backwards a little bit in order to accomplish this, and then slowly she pulled the car door closed. They were shut off from the outside world, together and in private. Now, there wasn't really anything else left to do but explore and feel what they were waiting for. Sure of what was coming next and buzzing with anticipation, Ashley covertly began to kick her shoes off in her first step towards getting undressed. At the same time, the former rose up again, her hands flowing over an eager, warm body as she leaned closer, touching her everywhere.

She smirked and received a similar devious glimmer from opposite her in response, barely visible due to the ever slimming proximity between them. Her skin was humming and tingling in a constant patter of ecstasy and excitement, swallowing her still present nerves, eliminating hesitations as meaningless drivel. Still drawing closer, she was fascinated by everything her eyes fell upon, from beautifully flushed skin to the line of a bra, only just noticeable under the clinging, wet material, to the luckiest beads of sweat and surviving raindrops that were everywhere on her body, rolling lower into areas she'd only dreamed about. Disoriented with desire and suggestion, she had to rest more of her weight on the perfectly shaped thighs between her legs for fear that hers would become faint and give out if she saw anything more. Two patches of heat stroked repetitively up and down outside her jeans, deliciously within reach of where she most wanted that touch.

When they finally kissed, it was like unspoken consent, mutual and unconditional. They left a relatively generous amount of space in between them for the benefit of the other, or as much as they could considering their position, so they didn't need to feel pressured and could still take the opportunity to put a stop to this going any further if they weren't entirely comfortable or sure of what they wanted. When their gentle caresses, which were somewhat louder within this confined and enclosed room than they'd sounded outside, confirmed their intentions, Madison linked her arms around Ashley's neck and pulled her in, both girls moaning when curves collided and tongues ventured deep, entering into a passionate tangle.

At long last, it was going to happen. Every dream, denial and dangerous desire had led up to this heavenly climax, and that made it all worthwhile. All the hidden pain beyond description and heartbreaking hatred they had to partake in without pause for breath and primal fear akin to insanity and countless hours of being only half alive in hopelessly dismal charades, which might have left them scarred and empty in the day in, day out rush of the future, was gone, as if it never mattered. All was forgiven, and they could start anew and learn to know themselves again by starting out on a fresh, lighter slate. This was the defining moment of their lives. It would alter them forever as people and they would discover, finally, what it was like to love and be loved. They didn't have to wonder any longer.

Lonely on and only on the way.

To Be Continued

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