DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Never were. Not making any $$. Don't HAVE any $$. Don't sue.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Aeryn Sun
"Do you think that all this is going to die down soon?" Spencer asked as the two girls sat in comfortable silence under the pier. Ashley leaned back against the wood column and shrugged.
"Hard to say. I mean, she's obviously trying to get a rise out of one of us " she started.
"And she succeeds with you," Spencer pointed out, teasing. Ashley rolled her eyes.
"Please. The only reason that I get so pissed is that I don't like to see anyone being bullied. It just uhg, it just pisses me off. Denise is just using intimidation and threats to get back on Madison's good side. If Madison still has one," she added as an afterthought.
"Let me know if you see it," Spencer joked.
"I know! Anyway, she just wants to kiss Madison's ass and get back on the squad. Madison doesn't want anything to do with the psycho. Plus, she's bothering you and it makes me just want to rip her spray-on tanned face off and step on it. Oh and she totally fucked up my car. That's enough for a hideously violent death " Spencer leaned in a little closer from her seat across from Ashley.
"Ash, for the record, I think she wants to kiss something other than Madison's ass," she whispered in a conspiratorial tone. "Unless she's kinky." Ashley just stared at Spencer for a few seconds until she responded.
"Spencer! God you are so bad sometimes. All sweet and innocent one minute and all twistedkinky the next," Ashley roared with laughter. "I like this side!"
"At least it calmed you down. You were getting all 'militant' angry for a minute there," Spencer explained. Ashley grinned sheepishly.
"Sorry. People like that just piss me off."
<Pisses me off more since it's YOU that she's harassing. Anyone else and I probably wouldn't care and if it were me, I'd have decked the bitch by now. God, I wanna just kill Denise for this shit.> Ashley silently fumed.
"I kinda gathered," Spencer agreed. "But Ashley, you know that she's using me to make you angry. And you have to keep from losing your cool. You can't afford to get into any trouble."
"I know, Spencer. It's just when she's bothering you I feel so helpless, useless. Like that day in the locker room. I was too late and I don't want to be again." Ashley stared off out over the ocean, unable to meet her friends eyes out of shame from her perceived failure.
"It wasn't your fault. You got there when I needed you and that's all that matters," Spencer repeated the same reassurance that she'd been giving Ashley since that afternoon. She'd hoped that Ashley believed her by now but for some reason, the brunette's guilt was still there.
"If we tell someone, there's one of two things that'll happen," Ashley started logically. "One, they'll either expel or suspend Denise and her crew and then make sure if they're let back that they don't bother us anymore.
"Or?" Spencer prompted. Ashley tore her gaze from the setting sun and
locked her brown eyes with Spencer's blue.
"Or the administration will do jack shit, which the way I think it'll go and then Denise will retaliate. Actually there's a good chance she'll do that anyway if we tell."
"So what do we do, Ash? Sit back and let her torture us all year?" Spencer demanded to know, upset at the thought. Ashley frowned at her and shook her head.
"No, of course not! You wanna tell then we'll tell, Spencer. It's up to you. If you think you'd be safer telling the principal then we will." Spencer was quiet while she mulled over their options.
"I think I think it'll be safer. For both of us because you know that you're her real target. If we tell someone what's going on then maybe it'll stop. I mean my dad knows but he can't really do anything about it," she said finally. "Ash, I'm starting to get scared. I'm scared to go to school and it should be somewhere that I feel safe."
"Safe? Hon, it's LA," Ashley tried to joke to relax Spencer's nerves. Spencer just sighed and wrapped her arms around herself despite the fact that she wasn't cold. The thought of Denise doing something worse than she already had was keeping her up at night with fear and worry. Although she was more worried about Ashley than herself.
<What if Denise decides that bothering me isn't 'fun' anymore and goes after Ashley? What if I'm not there to help her? What if she decides to hurt one of us outside of school> She decided to voice that concern.
"Ash, what if she goes after us outside of school?" Ashley got up from her perch and went to sit next to Spencer.
"There's nothing to be afraid of, Spencer. I mean, I realize that this IS scary, but she's not going to try anything outside school. Besides, you don't even drive so how could she possibly get you in a situation where you're alone and not with someone?" Ashley reasoned, hoping to soothe the blonde's obvious worry. "But tomorrow morning, we'll go to the office and tell them everything. OK?"
"Yeah," Spencer nodded. "and I think I may tell Clay and Glen, just for more help if it turns out we need it." Ashley nodded and stood up holding out her hand.
"Cool. Now, what would you say to a sunset walk on the beach?" she smiled her brightest smile and it worked. Spencer smiled back, feeling much better knowing that they were going to let the school know. She put her hand in Ashley's and let the shorter girl pull her to her feet.
"Why, that sounds wonderful, sir," she joked, earning herself a whap on the arm.
"Sir? Who you callin' 'Sir'?" Ashley protested.
Spencer winced as her back collided hard with the row of lockers the next morning, wondering quickly if that lock she felt dig in was going to leave a bruise.
"Morning Preppy," Denise sneered during transition to third period. Spencer sighed, wishing that she and Ashley had already gone to the office that day. But Ashley ran late that morning and they'd barely made it to their classes on time as it was. They made plans to go at lunch.
She looked up in surprise as Denise suddenly fell face first into the locker a few feet down.
"Bitch!" Ashley roared. She'd seen the hit Spencer took and had ran down the hall to help, slamming all her weight at full run into Denise's back.
<Ow, felt like I hit a wall> she realized. She stood, breathing heavily, watching Denise pick herself up.
"Ashley, look out!" Spencer warned as she watched two of Denise's crew lunge at the brunette. Just as she stepped in to help, Clay appeared and stopped the girls from reaching Ashley before it became a free for all.
"Hey, whoa everyone just calm down," he put himself in between all the combatants, with his back to his sister and Ashley. "Just back off."
"Get outta my way, lawn jockey! I'm gonna kill that whore and her blonde little fuck toy!" Denise screamed, wiping blood from her lip where she'd bit it when she hit the locker.
"That blonde happens to be my sister," Clay growled back. "And you're not going to touch either of them. Understand?" Denise looked at him, one eyebrow arched.
"And who's going to stop me? You?" she laughed.
"Him, and us," another voice yelled out. Spencer looked up to see Chelsea, Aiden, Madison, and Glen all standing nearby, looking pissed. Getting over her extreme shock at seeing Madison on her and Ashley's side, Spencer couldn't honestly remember ever being so happy to see anyone as she was to see them.
<Well, other than when Ashley appeared in the locker room> she corrected herself. She noticed that they were beginning to draw a crowd. Aiden walked closer, flanked by the others and getting into Denise's face.
"This has gone on long enough," he spat. "You come near either of them again and you deal with the rest of us. Understand?" Denise looked over at Madison.
"Don't look at me you psycho, I didn't ask you to do this. You're insane and never getting back on the squad, EVER. Deal with it," the petite Latina declared.
"Leave my sister alone," Glen said threateningly. Denise glared at the group for a few seconds and then to the gathered crowd. She obviously didn't want to back down in front of a crowd but Spencer prayed that she would. She didn't want her group of friends to be suspended for fighting.
"Whatever," Denise snapped and motioned her girls to leave.
"Spencer are you OK?" Ashley asked concerned as Denise wandered away. It took Spencer a minute to process the situation and then answer.
"Uh, yeah, a little sore where I hit the locker but other than that, fine," she turned and looked at her rescuer. "Wow, you hit her like a linebacker." Ashley smiled and buffed her nails on her shirt.
"Yeah, I'm good," she joked. Clay and the others gathered around the two and the crowd of anxious onlookers dispersed.
"Hey are you two all right?" Aiden asked, worried. Spencer nodded.
"Yeah, just tired of this crap," she admitted.
"I don't think they're gonna bother you anymore," Glen pointed out as Madison started leading him away. "Hey, babe, I'm talking here " Madison stopped and glared.
"I only helped you just now to let that head-case know that her chances of getting back on the squad were in the negative zone, OK? Not hang around with the rainbow connection. Let's go!" she commanded. Glen shot an apologetic look at his sister before being lead away.
"Wow, is he whipped or what?" Ashley laughed. The bell rang telling the rest of the group that they were now late for class.
"Come on, my knight, let's get to class," Spencer giggled, linking her arm with Ashley's and walking off as Clay and Chelsea went their own way. Aiden frowned.
"Hey, wait up!" he called after Ashley and Spencer.
"So, do you still want to tell the principal?" Ashley asked at lunch as the two girls sat on a table in the quad. Spencer shrugged as she chewed on her sandwich.
"Not really. I'd rather not involve any adults now that Clay and Glen and the others are backing us up. It would just get really complicated," she decided. "Do you think she'll try anything again?" Ashley shook her head.
"I doubt it. Denise didn't like Madison being mad at her so she'll probably back off."
"Yeah," Spencer agreed. She tilted her head and smiled. "You know, I noticed after that confrontation this morning that every hall I go down, there's a member of the basketball team there." Ashley grinned.
"Probably Aiden and your brothers doing. I'm surprised Aiden didn't think of it sooner."
"Me too. Although he probably did think of it and didn't do it because then Glen would have found out," Spencer added.
"So, what are we doing tonight?" Ashley asked as she snatched the bag of apple slices from Spencer's brown bag. Sometimes, or more accurately most of the time, Ashley really envied Spencer and her relatively normal and calm family life. Packed lunches, allowances that weren't the huge amounts Ashley herself received, siblings, holidays; the general feeling of belonging. The only time Ashley felt that she belonged anywhere was when she was around Spencer.
"Are you eating my apple slices?" Spencer asked, amused.
"Yes," Ashley responded as she chewed. She opened the lunch bag again and rifled through it. "What? No peanut butter?" Spencer grabbed the paper bag and laughed at her friend.
"No, no peanut butter. Everyone but me likes the chunky kind and that doesn't go well on apples," she explained.
"Here," Ashley pouted and held out the half empty bag. "You can have them back."
"No, you eat it." Ashley grinned and grabbed another slice which she
handed to Spencer.
"I'll share," she chirped as Spencer munched on the fruit.
"How kind of you seeing as it's my lunch you're sharing with me," Spencer teased.
"Never say that I'm not a sharing person," the brunette teased back. She handed another slice to Spencer, enjoying the smile on the blonde's face as she chewed.
"You still didn't answer my question, Spence," Ashley reminded. "You know; you, me, Friday night and a city full of possibilities." She wagged her eyebrows at that last part.
"Aw, Ash, I'd love to hang out but it's my Mom's first night off in like, two weeks and she wants us all home for 'quality family time'." Spencer used finger quotes as she finished speaking and rolled her eyes for dramatic effect. Ashley rolled her eyes.
"Sounds like fun," she snorted while secretly wishing again that she had a family like Spencer's that enjoyed spending time together. As much as Ashley wasn't a big fan of Paula, Spencer's mother, she still liked the fact that the woman at least attempted to be involved in her daughter's life.
<Even if she is a bigoted pain in my ass. She still cares about her kids and what they're doing. Wish mine did. Actually, I'd just like my parents to remember my birthday once in a while> she sighed to herself. The bell rang signifying the end of lunch.
"Hey, I'll meet up with you after school and take you home. Cool?" she asked. Spencer smiled, glad that her best friend didn't seem upset that she couldn't hang out. Truthfully, she'd much rather hang out with Ashley but her mother had been very adamant that all her children be home for dinner. There was a vague hope that they'd be allowed out after that but Spencer doubted it.
<I'll probably spend my Friday night playing Monopoly or Yatzee with my family until I feel like jumping off the roof> she realized.
"Cool. I'll see you then."
"So what are your plans tonight?" Spencer asked on the car ride home. Ashley shrugged.
"Nothing much. I mean, I could go to that party at 'Grey' tonight," she responded. Spencer felt an uncontrollable flash of jealousy and worry clutch at her heart. She didn't want Ashley to go to the club without her.
<What if she meets someone? I know it's not fair but I don't want her to meet someone she likes. I KNOW that I like Ashley as more than a friend. I just don't know how to tell her or to face that right now. I need more time to figure it out and I don't want her to meet someone before I get a chance. Damn it.>
"So are you going to?" Spencer asked, amazed that she was able to keep a tinge of the strange fear she was feeling from seeping through.
"Neh," Ashley glanced over at her blonde friend. "To tell you the truth, a party just isn't a party without uhm you." A blush colored Ashley's cheeks as she unintentionally revealed a little more than she meant to.
Spencer felt her heart warm and her worry evaporate at the stammered comment.
"Awww, would Ashley miss me?" she teased while inside she did a huge 'happy dance'.
"Shaddup," Ashley raspberried. "So I figured since I was most likely going to spend my Friday night home, texting you with outrageous and suggestive comments, I should have some food on hand."
<Is she flirting?> Spencer wondered. Although 'flirting' was technically something Ashley did simply by breathing. Sometimes Spencer felt that the girl would flirt with a park bench if she were bored enough.
"My mom read another one of those 'parenting' articles and now she thinks that red meat causes violence in teenagers," Ashley went on, oblivious to her best friends' thoughts. "So now I can't have red meat, along with caffeine, sugar, dairy, carbs, or anything else that doesn't taste like cardboard." Spencer laughed.
"Sounds like fun. I think we're having pot roast and potatoes with chocolate cake for dessert," she teased. "I think I'll have a big glass of milk with the cake." Ashley glared from the corner of her eye.
"Tease," she stuck her tongue out, an action that Spencer returned. "So I'm gonna go get food that I can actually eat, then run some errands."
"Wish we could hang out," Spencer sighed.
"Yeah, me too," Ashley agreed as she pulled up to Spencer's house. "Hey, I'll call you later and we'll make plans to hang out tomorrow. Cool?"
"Sounds good," Spencer opened the door and got out, leaning her head back into the open window. "Talk to you later."
Ashley switched her bag to the other arm and dug around in her pocket for the keys to her Porsche Cayenne. She hated being the last person to leave a store but at least Old Man Kramer had been nice enough to let her buy half-gallon of ice cream (Spencer's favorite flavor, of course) before he shut up shop and went upstairs to his apartment. She couldn't believe that Spencer had been in town this long and never had some of the thick, flavorful creamery-made ice cream from Kramer's. She really wanted to see the look on Spencer's face the first time the cold confection hit her tongue and she tasted what Ashley felt was the best ice cream on Earth.
<She's gonna love it!>
Her plan was to show up at Spencer's with the ice cream later that night and 'rescue' her friend from her evening of suffering through board games with her family. She hoped that she could spend the night on the couch at Spencer's instead of another night alone in her huge house. Plus, she knew that if she timed it right, Clay and Glen might still be able to go out with their friends.
<My way of paying them back for helping Spencer and I> she smiled.
She got to her car and reached for the door when intense pain raced across her back. The blow hit her squarely, ramming her painfully into the side of the Porsche. She turned to flee when the next hit caught her in the ribs, sending more waves of agony through the brunette's body. She groaned as her attackers closed in on her.
"What what do you want?" she asked, hoping to forestall anymore hits to her body. She looked up into the angry and deranged face of Denise, surrounded by her cronies.
"I warned you, you dirty disgusting homo freak!" Denise punched Ashley hard in the already hurting ribs, sending all the air rushing out of the girl's body. Ashley felt like she couldn't breathe and started to sink to her knees before Denise grabbed her and slammed her back into the SUV.
"Get away from me!" she panted. She tried to bring her arm around to swing at the bigger girl but it was quickly grabbed by one of the other girls.
"I told you that you'd pay. Everyone's going to know exactly what happens to little freaks like you and your little girlfriend." Despite her fear, Ashley managed a glare at the implied threat to Spencer.
"She's not my girlfriend," she growled as Denise kept her lifted a few inches off the ground, effectively preventing her from trying to run. "She's just my friend. Leave her out of this. If you got a problem with me "
Stars danced across Ashley's vision as Denise dropped her and then punched the smaller girl solidly with her jaw. Ashley could feel the coppery tang of blood on her tongue.
"Damn right I got a problem with you, whore! You made Madison look like a fool. You prance around like you're holier-than-thou and some sorta hot shit. You have your friends threaten me like that would do you any good. Do you really think anyone would really help a slut like you?" Denise punched Ashley hard in the ribs again, sending intense pain through the captured girl's chest.
<Ow, I think she broke something> Ashley worried. Fear that she may not get out of this situation alive turned Ashley's blood cold. <I don't wanna die here!>
"And to top it all off, Madison hates me now and you cost me my spot on the squad!" Ashley coughed as she sucked in air and then frowned.
"What? I didn't do " Denise rammed the back of Ashley's head into the car window with such force that it shattered, sending shards of broken glass into Ashley's scalp. She yelped in pain.
"You and your little girlfriend. Madison got all mad at that Spencer-bitch cuz you were hangin' 'round, and then she got mad at me for no good reason and threw me off the squad!"
In pain, petrified but getting angry, Ashley spit the blood she tasted into Denise's face.
"She threw you off the squad cuz you stalked her, you psychopath!" Denise backed off a few steps and frantically wiped at her face.
"BITCH! You got your diseased blood on me!" Ashley smirked.
"Oh, does that make you gay now?"
Ashley didn't even see the next blow coming. Or the ones that quickly followed. She even stopped being able to tell fists from the bats after awhile. She sunk to the asphalt and curled herself into the fetal position. Her final fleeting thoughts were that she just became a victim, a statistic. And that she wanted one more chance to tell Spencer the truth.
<I love you. I'm sorry.>
Spencer lifted her head from where she was bent over her laptop and tilted her head. The hairs on the back of her neck were standing on end and a cold shiver ran down her spine.
She glanced at her window to see if she'd caught a draft but it was closed tight. Shrugging, she went back to her English essay.
<That was weird. Felt like someone tap danced on my grave> she shivered again as the feeling repeated itself.
"Ew freaky," she sighed. She stared at the computer screen, reading and then rereading the same sentence four times before she gave up and closed the window.
<I can't concentrate. Well, I'm not going to worry about it, it's not due for another week.> She got up and walked over to the bed, flopping down and reaching for her cell phone on the nightstand.
She flipped it over to check for any messages and then disappointed, shut it again.
<Ashley was supposed to call to make plans for tomorrow. I'm kinda in the mood for shopping and I love shopping with Ashley, even if she does insist on buying me things.> Smiling in a manner that any witness would dub 'lovesick', she reached under her bed and pulled out her worn sketch book.
Opening the book to the sketch that she'd been laboring over for weeks, Spencer sighed.
<Can't quite get the eyes she lamented. The sketch of Ashley's face was done in pencil, delicately shaded and almost finished. But Spencer was unhappy with it and as such, was reluctant to call it done and give it to Ashley like she planned.
Her ability to sketch was a closely guarded secret that she shared with a very select few. She hadn't told Ashley yet, hoping to surprise the brunette with a beautiful sketch and some flowers.
<Maybe then she'll catch on that I don't really think I'm confused about how I feel anymore. I like her, a lot. I just don't want to mess up the friendship we have if she's not interested. It's so hard to tell with her.>
She tilted the sketch, trying to figure out how to approach fixing its perceived flaws.
<Maybe I should just start over?> she flipped the page and glanced at another sketch of Ashley, this time her profile. Again it was nearly done but Spencer felt it lacked something.
<Of course, it'd be easier if I wasn't doing it from memory. Every time I think I've got it just right, I look at Ashley and realize that I missed something. But, how do you capture someone like Ashley?>
Resigning herself to try again, Spencer picked up her pencil and began the rough outline of Ashley's beautiful features. She had no idea how many times she'd begun a sketch of Ashley, having long ago lost count. Whenever she was bored or lonely, she would pick up a black Ticonderoga pencil and occupy herself with images and memories of Ashley.
For this sketch, Spencer decided her theme was 'protective Ashley' since she'd seen a fair amount of that aspect of her best friend lately. Not that Spencer could complain. While she didn't enjoy being targeted at school by the pack of evil 'nearly' cheer-bitches, she did enjoy seeing Ashley's caring and protective nature; especially since it was all directed towards Spencer herself.
"My reluctant knight in slightly rusty armor," she giggled to herself. The image of Ashley as a medieval knight in shining armor popped into Spencer's head, quickly distracting her with thoughts of fairy tales and kisses to wake the princess.
<And while this is all rather appealing,> she smiled. <The reality is even better, even if all I ever am is her friend. At least I know that she'll protect me if I need it.> She glanced at the clock and frowned.
"Why haven't you called, Ash?" As if Ashley had heard her, Spencer's phone rang. She snatched it up in eager hands and grinned at the Caller ID.
"Hiya, Ashley! What's up?"
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