Title: Shattered Hearts

Author: Aeryn Sun


Feedback: If the whim strikes.

Archiving: Ask, and ye shall receive. Just ask first.

Rating: PG13. We’re going to start there and if (when) it starts getting rough, I’ll move it up.

Spoilers: All

Series/Universe: None. Yet. Heh

Summary: The trials and tribulations of two girls in love.

Couple: Ashley/Spencer

Warning: If the idea of two women involved in a romantic relationship together disturbs you, run, run far far away and never look back. If it's illegal where you live, move quickly. If you're under the legal age, age quicker, it's fun here. Other than that, enter at your own risk, and enjoy.

Author's Notes: Still playing in this fandom. Lord help us all. ;-)

Disclaimer: Not mine. Never were. Not making any $$. Don't HAVE any $$. Don't sue.

RATING WARNING: This fic is rated MA/LVSND (mature audiences/language, violence, sexual situations, nudity, dialogue). It’s gonna get rough in this one. I’ve given you fair warning, If this isn’t your sort of thing, DON’T READ IT.


Spencer pulled her wet hair into a loose ponytail, grabbed her bag, and stood up to leave. She hated when gym was the last period of the day. It usually meant that she’d end up leaving for home late and while Ashley was always good about waiting for her, she still felt guilty about making her best friend hang around.

Not that she thought Ashley minded. The brunette never complained, aside from a sarcastic remark that Spencer knew was meant in jest. Ashley was known for her somewhat flighty and unpredictable behavior but when it came to Spencer, she was fast becoming the blonde’s rock. The one constant that Spencer had in her life. She couldn’t count on her mother, who Spencer used to be so close to but since they moved from Ohio, seemed to be growing away from. Now Paula just seemed so angry with her no matter what Spencer actually did.

She knew that she could count on Clay and her father, to a certain extent. And although she knew that if she needed him, Glen would be there, she still didn’t feel as close to them or anyone as she did Ashley. Ashley understood her on the most basic of levels. Spencer didn’t even have to try to explain herself most of the time. Ashley just got her.

<I really like Ash. *sigh* I like being so comfortable with her. And I like her in a very lustful, ‘that’s not right’ sorta way.> She smiled to herself.

‘Right’ versus ‘wrong’ in terms of sexuality wasn’t much of an issue for Spencer lately. She was beginning to see that her feelings towards Ashley, while frightening in intensity and their relative newness, weren’t wrong. Or as her mother liked to think, the path to hell. They were wonderful and deep, exciting and oddly comforting. The rush of feelings she got just by being around the feisty brunette was nearly addicting. They made her light-headed and dizzy yet exhilarated at the same time. She loved That feeling.

<And I think I may love Ashley,> she realized, her smile becoming a grin. She turned to leave, feeling anxious to see the object of her secret affections.

“Going somewhere, dyke?” Spencer gasped in surprise as several fairly large girls suddenly started towards her.

“Home,” she declared as she recovered from her surprise. An uneasy feeling had started to settle in her stomach and it made her nauseas.

The biggest girl, Spencer vaguely remembered her from being on the cheer-squad shook her head.

“You’re not going anywhere until we clear some things up,” the short girl informed Spencer.

<Denise, the other alternate,> Spencer realized. Denise was on the squad for even less time than Spencer. Something about constantly calling and hounding Madison for a real spot on the team.

Spencer looked at the six girls warily.

<Oh, this is so not good.> She focused her attention on Denise and did the best she could to glare in a non-intimidated way.

“There’s nothing for us to clear up,” she shot back. “I don’t even know you.” The back of her head collided with the locker behind her as the girl to her left suddenly punched her in the mouth. She tried to clear her vision as Denise stared at her.

“I didn’t say you could talk, bitch,” Denise spat. She put her hands on her hips as she regarded Spencer. “You need to be punished for what you did to Madison. I know it was you that created that cutout of her and posted it on campus. You and that other lesbo whore.” Spencer frowned.

“That was months ago,” she pointed out. This time the punch to her gut sent her to her knees. Denise shrugged.

“So, you think I was going to let you get away with it? Please, bitch.” She crouched down to look Spencer in the very frightened eyes.

“Payback’s a bitch, you slut.”

“Spence, what the hell is taking so long…?” Ashley rounded the corner into the locker room cutting Denise off in mid-rant. She froze at the image in front of her.

Spencer was on her knees, blood running from a split lip, surrounded by a bunch of girls that Ashley didn’t recognize at first glance. The look on Spencer’s face was stark terror, immediately sending Ashley into defensive mode and she felt hot rage surge through her system.

“Back the fuck off!” she yelled as she shoved a few of the burly girl’s aside. She turned on Denise and poked the bigger girl in the chest.

“You lay another finger on her and I’ll rip it the fuck off. You understand me?” Denise put her hands up in the surrender position.

“Calm yourself, Xena, I never touched her. She fell,” the former cheerleader proclaimed. She turned and nodded to her girls, who all stepped away.

“Although, I’d keep an eye on her if I were you. The world’s a dangerous place, especially for freaks like you two,” she taunted. Ashley balled her hands into fists, her knuckles turning white. She was about to punch that smug look off the girl’s face when she felt a calming hand on her own. She looked down to see Spencer looking up at her.

“Don’t,” Spencer whispered. “Please don’t.” Ashley sighed and nodded.

“Get out of here before I change my mind,” she growled at Denise who smirked again before leaving the locker room with her posse.

Ashley knelt down beside Spencer and wrapped her arms around the shaking girl. Spencer leaned into the safe embrace.

“What happened, hon?” Ashley whispered as she lifted Spencer’s face to her own to get a good look at the blonde’s lip. She wiped at the trickle of blood with her thumb. Spencer closed her eyes as tears slowly started to stream down her face. When she didn’t immediately respond, Ashley stood up, grabbed some paper towels and ran them under cold water. She then returned to Spencer and tried again.

“Let me look at this,” she whispered. She carefully cleaned and dabbed the cut all the while seething inside at the people who had done this. And fighting a rush of guilt that made her sick.

“She said it was payback,” Spencer muttered. Ashley frowned.

“For what, sweetie?”

“The Madison thing… cutout. She said we had to pay,” Spencer explained.

“Yeah, well we did. That cutout cost us $25 bucks remember?” Ashley tried to joke. In actuality, she was frightened at the whole situation and knew if she didn’t laugh, she was going to scream.

“Ha…ow don’t make me laugh. Or smile,” Spencer complained. She looked into Ashley’s concerned face. “How bad is it?”

“Not bad considering. It’ll be fine in a few days,” Ashley told her. “Are you OK?”

“No. I’m scared out of my mind,” Spencer responded honestly. “But better since you’re here.”

“Are you hurt anywhere else?” Ashley asked while her heart swelled at Spencer’s heartfelt words. Spencer shrugged.

“My chest a little. One of them punched me,” she watched as Ashley’s eyes first widened with worry and then narrowed with anger.

“Bitches. They’ll get theirs,” she muttered. “Do you want to go to the hospital?”

“No, I really don’t want to face my mother and try to explain this,” she hedged. Ashley frowned.

“Explain what? That a deranged pack of feral, steroidal cheerleading wannabe’s cornered you in the locker room and roughed you up? You did nothing wrong,” she pointed out confused.

“I know. But then my mom will wanna call the school and cause this big drama that I don’t want to deal with. You know she’ll only make it worse.”

“But what if you’re hurt?” Spencer smiled.

“I’m not. I’ve been roughed up more playing with Glen and Clay when I was younger,” she explained lightly. “Here, help a girl up.” She reached out her hand and felt Ashley grip it firmly in her own and pull her carefully to her feet. She then frowned as Ashley looked away.

“Ash, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing. It’s just, I just wish I got here sooner,” Ashley explained sadly. “I am so sorry that I wasn’t there when you needed me.” Spencer gently grasped her friend by the chin to force Ashley to look in her eyes.

“But you were here. It’s not your fault Ashley,” she tried to reassure her friend.

“You got hurt,” Ashley responded softly, her voice broken.

“I’m more scared than hurt, really Ashley. Please stop worrying. And don’t feel bad. I’m fine.” Ashley pulled the taller girl into a tight hug.

“I was scared too,” the brunette admitted. Spencer laughed.

“Oh really? Cuz you sure fooled me, busting in here all tough like ‘Ashley the vampire slayer’.” This teasing brought the smile back to her friends face.

“Like that, did ya?” Ashley buffed her nails on her shirt in an exaggerated manner. “You know Faith’s my bitch.”

“Suuuuuuuuure, right,” Spencer agreed sarcastically, patting Ashley on the shoulder. Ashley looked astonished at her friend’s lack of faith.

“What? I’m hot! She would so be all over me.”

“Ok, if that helps you sleep at night,” Spencer giggled. “Let’s get out of here.” Ashley bowed.

“You’re wish, madame, is my command,” she joked. Spencer rolled her eyes.

“Don’t go making promises you can’t keep, Ms Davies,” she warned, letting a broad smile spread across her face despite the pain from her injured lip. Ashley arched one dark brow.

“Who says I can’t keep it?” she challenged. Spencer just slapped the cheeky girl on the arm as she walked out.


“Dad, I swear, I’m fine.  It’s just a split lip,” Spencer explained as her father, Arthur, fussed over her.

“Spencer, what happened?” he asked, grabbing an ice pack from the freezer and handing it to his daughter as she sat at the table.

“Promise not to freak out?  Or tell Mom cuz I KNOW she will?” Her father nodded.

“I’ll at least listen before I ‘freak out’,” he smiled.

“I was in the locker room after school today and some girls jumped me,” Spencer said real fast, nearly blurring the words into one another. Arthur’s eyes widened.

“You got jumped in the locker room?  Are you all right?  Who did this so that we can tell the school…”

“Daaaaaaaaaaaad, you’re freaking out!” Spencer laughed.  She watched her father take a deep breath and then sit down across from her.  They sat in silence for a few minutes while Spencer put the ice pack on her lip and Arthur calmed down.

“How can you expect me not to?” he finally asked. “My little girl was beaten up.” Spencer rolled her eyes.

“I wasn’t beaten up.  I prefer ‘ruffled’.  Besides, other than the lip and some sore ribs, I’m fine.  Ashley arrived in time to break it up.”

“Ashley?” Spencer sighed.

“She had nothing to do with this.  The girl who did this was angry about something that happened a long time ago to Madison.  Ashley just walked in and scared them off. It’s not her fault,” she tried to keep her tone patient and the annoyance she felt from creeping in.

“I didn’t think that it was, honey.  I was just going to say ‘remind me to thank her for her wonderful sense to timing’.” Spencer smiled at her father.  She loved that he was so accepting and understanding of Ashley especially since her mother was obviously not.

“Thanks Dad.” She walked over and hugged him. “You’re the best.”

“So what are you going to tell your mother?” he asked in all seriousness.

“Uhg, I don’t know.  Maybe I tripped and fell in gym?” Arthur made a face.

“She’ll still want to call the school and complain,” he pointed out. “Maybe a half truth?”

“Like what?” Ashley wondered, intrigued. Arthur thought a minute.

“Like…you caught an elbow in the hallway between classes?”

“Plausible.  Is my own father encouraging me to lie?” she joked.

“Well, I’d rather you told her the truth. But I can appreciate why you don’t want to.  If you promise me that it won’t happen again then I’ll back you up.”

“Agreed. Thanks Dad.” She hugged him again and headed up to her room.


“And he was cool with that?” Ashley asked, astonished.  Spencer rolled over onto her stomach on the bed and nodded, even though Ashley couldn’t see her over the phone.

“Totally.  Oh and he said to thank you for showing up when you did,” she added.

“My pleasure,” Ashley smiled.  She honked the horn. “Long pedal on the right, you ass!” Spencer giggled.

“Traffic?” She heard her impatient friend grumble on the other end of the cell phone.

“Horrible traffic.  Then again, it is LA.  It totally sucks that it takes you 45 minutes to go 20 miles.  And that’s only in light gridlock traffic, not freaking rush hour.”

“Ash, hon, you’re ranting,” Spencer pointed out, the smile on her face evident to Ashley on the other end. “Why are you even attempting to fight traffic? I thought you were going home.”

“I was, then I wanted something to eat that didn’t come from the microwave. So, here I am, sitting in traffic.”

“Awwwww,” Spencer chuckled.

“Hey, don’t mock me or next time I go shopping, you won’t get any goodies,” Ashley warned.  The sudden husky quality to her voice sent a sharp tingle through Spencer’s belly.

“Uhm…” she stammered.

“Spencer! Dinner!” her mother called up the stairs.

“Gotta go, Ash.  Dinner’s on.  And I get to try out my story against my mother,” she sighed.

“Ha ha, good luck,” Ashley snickered.

“Thanks.  Hey, call me when you get home later?”

“Sure thing, babe.”

“OK, night, Ash, sleep well,” Spencer said fondly to her yawning friend on the other end.

“You too.  Night.” She heard the click from Ashley’s end of the line and smiled.  After a few too many conversations where they’d stayed on the line, not wanting to hang up on the other and then arguing about who was going to hang up first, Ashley had started hanging up immediately after saying ‘night’. Then she would send a text to Spencer.  It was generally understood that Spencer didn’t have to answer that text unless she had something to say.

So, as her cell phone beeped to alert her of the message, Spencer simply read it and smiled.

{Pick u up in the AM. C-U.<3 A.}

She plugged in her phone and crawled under the covers on her bed, snuggling up on her side and thinking of, (what else?), Ashley.

(God I’m lucky that she showed up when she did.  Those girls could have really messed me up. I hope we don’t have to deal with them again.) She grinned as she fell asleep, knowing that if those girls came around again, Ashley would be there to help her fight them off.


“How’s the lip?” Ashley asked as Spencer climbed into the Porsche Cayenne.

“Not bad.  It didn’t bruise as bad as I thought it would so I was able to cover it with some makeup.” Sure enough when Ashley looked, all she saw was the small cut on Spencer’s lip and no real bruising.

“Ha.  That bitch obviously hits like a girl,” Ashley giggled as she drove away from the Carlin home.  Spencer nodded.

“Oh my God, Ashley, you will not believe the dream that I had last night,” she said, mostly to change the subject.  Honestly she was nervous about going into school today but Ashley promised her that either herself or Aiden would walk Spencer to every class, just to be safe.

“Did it involve vampires and chocolate syrup?” Ashley asked with a smirk from the driver’s seat.  Spencer reached over and smacked the girl on the arm.

“No, you perv!” she laughed.

“Oh sorry, that was me,” Ashley giggled. Spencer shook her head in amusement.

“And why does that not surprise me?” Ashley shrugged.

“Cuz we both know I have a unique and fully formed imagination?” she suggested. “But really, what was yours?”

“We were totally stuck in SunnyDale, and you were a slayer and I was your back-up,” Spencer explained, blushing as she kept the actual details to herself.

(And you looked really hot in those tight leather pants) she mused to herself.

“So it DID involve vampires!” Ashley exclaimed.  “All that biting and sucking; Spencer Carlin, are you perving out on me?” Spencer felt her blush grow hotter.

(You sure would think so if you saw what kind of ‘back-up’ I turned out to be) Spencer thought.  She cleared her throat and laughed.

“Hey, there was no chocolate syrup involved anywhere.  That’s all you,” she teased.  Spencer then thought back to the dream. 

(No, no syrup.  Just you in those tight black pants and loose white shirt that was barely buttoned; running around doing flips and moves I’m not entirely sure are actually humanly possible.  Then the whole ‘slaying makes me horny’ thing) She let out a long sigh, drawing the attention of Ashley next to her.

“Earth to Spencer,” she sang, trying to get the daydreaming girl’s attention.  Spencer jumped and then looked at Ashley sheepishly. Ashley arched an eyebrow.

“That good, huh?” she teased, loving the deep blush on Spencer’s face.

“Um…it ah…had it’s moments,” Spencer agreed slowly.  She licked her lips, careful of the sore spot and Ashley was glad that she had to concentrate on the road so that she didn’t kill the two of them.  Otherwise, that simple action may have been distracting.

(That cute little pink tongue.  I really spend too much time thinking about…God, get your head out of the gutter, Davies. Geesh)

“Oh look, school!” Ashley pointed out with far more enthusiasm than she’d intended.  Spencer gave her an odd look.

“What?  I know that you hate to be late,” she defended herself, rather lamely even in her own opinion. 

“Oooook,” Spencer drew out the word, letting Ashley know that she didn’t buy that excuse but was willing to let it go. “Did you have your morning coffee?”

“Yup.  Two, actually,” Ashley admitted while they walked up to the lockers.  Spencer giggled.

“Well that explains it…ooof…” she slammed into the lockers as Denise and her crew jostled her in the crowded hall.

“Oops, my bad,” Denise laughed.  After visually checking to make sure Spencer was unharmed, Ashley advanced on the bigger girl.  No one bothered to pay attention to the altercation as the first bell rang.

“Listen you jackass, back off or the next time you touch her, I’ll break every bone in your artificially enhanced body.  Got that?” she growled.  Denise smirked and gave Ashley a hardy shove sending her stumbling back.

“Whatever, fag. Touch ME again and protecting you’re little fuckbuddy will be the least of your problems,” she warned.  Ashley pulled back to hit her only to have someone grab her arm.

“Ashley, don’t,” Spencer said firmly. “That’s what she wants.  If you hit her, you’ll get suspended and she wins.  Let’s just go to class.” Ashley sent one last glare at Denise and turned to join Spencer.

“Yeah, let’s go.”


“Madison, we need to talk.” Madison looked at the taller brunette blocking her way in the hall after lunch incredulously. 

“What could you and I possibly have to talk about?” she scoffed.

“Look, I’m in no mood to play our usual game of witty repartee, OK?  Seriously, I need to talk to you,” Ashley cut off whatever glib remark the petite Latina was about to make.  Her tone of voice and demeanor, plus the absence of Spencer, made Madison focus sharply.

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“Look, don’t say anything but Spencer…she was attacked yesterday after school in the girl’s locker room,” Ashley started.  Madison gasped.

“Is she all right?  What happened?”  Her enemy’s genuine shock and concern immediately scratched her from Ashley’s list of conspirators.  As much as Ashley disliked the head cheerleader, Madison was at heart a decent human being.  She might enjoy a little psychological torture, but she’d never physically harm someone unless it was in self-defense.

“A group of girls cornered her in there and roughed her up a bit.  She’s bruised and has a fat lip but she’s ok.  The ringleader said that Spencer had to pay for doing that nude cutout of you a while back.  That we both did.”

“I knew that was you!” Madison growled.  Ashley rolled her eyes.

“Oh like you didn’t deserve it for that fucking e-mail you sent everyone with my head on a porn star’s body,” Ashley retorted angrily. Madison rolled her eyes.

“All right fine, whatever,” she conceded.  Truth was she knew the moment it happened that she deserved Ashley’s payback.  She just hadn’t expected it to be so creative.

“Spencer says the girl’s name was Denise.  Do you know her?  She was on the cheer-squad…”

“Yeah ‘til I threw her off for being a scary freak,” Madison cut in. “I hate that girl even more than I hate you.  So I didn’t put her up to attacking Spencer, if that’s what you think. That is so not my style.”

Ashley let out a long breath between her teeth.  She had thought as much but needed to hear it from Madison herself.

“I didn’t really think so.  Neither does Spencer.  But thanks for your honesty.  Listen, why did you bump her from the squad in the first place?”

“You know those creepy people you see in movies that like, stalk people and take pictures and insinuate themselves into someone’s life where they’re not wanted?” Madison asked.  When Ashley nodded, she continued.

“You know how they are just so freaking creepy that you want to take a shower and forget that they even existed?”” Another nod. “Yeah, she was Queen.”

“She stalked you?” Ashley asked, shocked.

“Kind of.  More like called night and day, showed up at my house at all hours to ‘talk cheerleading’.  That sorta thing,” Madison explained.

“Yeah, that’s called stalking.”

“OK, well I told her to back off more than once and when she didn’t, I threw her off the team and told her that if she ever came near me again, my cousin Jorge would make her disappear.”

“Ah.  Good threat.”

“I thought so.  Is that all you wanted?”


“OK, well I’m gonna go before someone sees us talking and thinks I’ve suddenly switched sides,” she shivered. “Gross.”

“Yeah well I’m gonna go before someone thinks my taste in women hit rock bottom,” Ashley shot back.

“But...tell Spencer that I’m sorry and I hope she’s OK.” Ashley nodded.  Without another word, the two girls turned in opposite directions and walked off.  After about 15 feet, Ashley stopped and swore to herself.

“Shit, my class is in the other direction.”


The next week or so passed with small moments of harassment for Spencer from Denise and her cronies.  But each time they occurred, Ashley stepped in and had to be pulled back by Spencer.  Ashley knew that Denise was baiting her, but despite knowing that, she couldn’t stand to do nothing when someone threatened Spencer.

“We really should tell someone,” Ashley sighed as she eyed the damage done to the side of her car. “And I mean besides my insurance company.” Spencer frowned and gave her best friend a sympathetic look.

“I’m sorry,” she said honestly, tracing the words carved into the paint job of Ashley’s Porsche. 

“’Dyke bitch’.  Certainly gets right to the point,” Ashley grumbled. “Personally I’m surprised that jacked up retard could spell it right.”

“Me too.  To the point, yes.  But lacking in originality,” Spencer joked hoping to lighten Ashley’s mood. “Don’t you agree?”

“Totally.  You’re mother’s gonna love it when I drop you off and that’s emblazoned on the car.” Ashley pointed out with a grin as Spencer laughed and got in the car.

“Oh my God, I hadn’t even thought of that.  I can just hear it now: ‘What? Is she advertising now?’ ‘Spencer, I don’t want you riding in that car or hanging around her.  She’s a target.’” Ashley’s smile faltered a little.

“Well, she’d be right, you know.” At Spencer’s frown, Ashley gathered her thoughts and tried to explain. “Spence, I AM a target.  Because of who I am and the fact that I refuse to hide it, bothers some people.  This is what I was trying to warn you about that day on the beach.  Denise doesn’t know me, she only knows what she hears and is told.  She has no idea who I am as a person.”

“I know,” Spencer said quietly.  And really, she did.

The more time she spent thinking about her own sexuality and the fears and issues that accompany the realization that you might not fit into that neat little box everyone wants you to, the more she realized exactly how brave Ashley was.  Ashley was who she was, no apologies.  If someone didn’t like her or the way she lived her life, Ashley didn’t seem to care; they weren’t going to stop her from living it.

Spencer wondered if she’d ever be that brave.

“OK, I am so not letting that skank bring me…us down,” Ashley declared.  She put the keys in the ignition and smiled.

“Besides, can you say: repressed homosexuality?” she winked.  “Denise is the biggest butch I’ve seen since your mother.” Spencer’s mouth dropped open, shocked and stunned.  She reached over and smacked the joking girl, hard.

“That is SO not funny!” she protested although her nearly hysterical stifled giggles let Ashley know that Spencer wasn’t genuinely angry. “Don’t even joke.  That is just so wrong.”

“Well, it would explain a lot,” she snorted and then started the car before turning to Spencer and frowning.

“What?” Spencer asked concerned.  Ashley bit her lip.

“Nothing really, just waiting for the car to explode,” she smirked. 

“That’s not even funny!” Spencer complained even though she smiled.  “God, you are in one heck of a mood today.”

“What?” Ashley shrugged. “Oh wait, you’re right.  That’s giving Denise and her pals way too much credit.”

Ashley pulled out of the parking lot and automatically headed towards Spencer’s house.

“Home, Spence?” she asked to make sure.

“Actually I was thinking more ‘beach’ than home.  But if you’d rather take me home well, sure,” she teased watching a huge grin spring to her friend’s face.

“Like I would say ‘no’ to the beach!” Ashley squealed happily. “But wait, don’t you have to be home for dinner or prayers or something?” Spencer shook her head.

“My Mom has the mid-shift at the hospital so she won’t be home for supper.  And my Dad doesn’t mind if any of us skip dinner.  I think he’s happy when we do because it means we have lives.”

“Well, then, to the beach we go.  Dyke mobile, ho!” Ashley laughed as Spencer rolled her eyes.

“Who knew that you could be such a dork?” she sighed, amused.  Ashley stuck out her tongue.

“No one.  It’s a Spencer-only performance, so don’t go telling anyone.  You’ll ruin my ‘bad-ass’ rep.” Spencer clutched her chest in mock horror.

“Oh God forbid!”


“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?”


As she regained consciousness, Ashley was aware of one thing above everything else; every piece of her hurt; every muscle, every hair, everything.

(Cells, particles, atoms, neutrons…) Her mind drifted off into her science class and the Periodic Table of Elements that she was trying to memorize before she wandered back to the present.  (I hurt everywhere.)

She just wanted to close her eyes and let go, to stop hurting once and for all but one thought kept nudging her awake.  Spencer.  She had to tell Spencer.

Opening her eyes, she was glad to see her cell phone lying in her field of vision, her purse having spilled open where it fell during the altercation.  After a couple of pain filled attempts; she finally managed to grasp it.

She hit #1 and waited for the other girl to pick up; all the while she felt darkness creeping into her vision.

“Hiya, Ashley!  What’s up?” Spencer’s cheerful voice answered on the second ring and tears immediately sprang to Ashley’s eyes.

(I love her so much and never said…)

“Ashley?  Are you there?  I hear whimpering…” Spencer’s voice went from cheerful to concerned in record time.

“Spen…Spence…help…” Ashley managed to pant as her vision swam. 

“Ashley, what’s wrong?  Are you hurt?  Where are you?” Spencer was now beginning to panic and it carried over to Ashley.

“Please…” Ashley dropped the phone to the pavement, too tired to hold on to it or speak anymore.  Her body was going numb.  She could still hear Spencer across the line.


“Spencer, why are you screaming?” her father asked as he opened the door to her room.  She grabbed him by the arm and headed down the stairs.

“Something’s wrong with Ashley, Dad.  We have to help her,” she explained, trying not to let her panic overwhelm her.

“MOM!” she screamed when she got to the bottom of the stairs.  Paula exited the kitchen and frowned at her daughter.

“What is it, honey?” Spencer thrust the phone at her father, unable to vocalize the situation or her fears.

“Here, listen.” Arthur put the phone to his ear.

“What is all this noise?  I’m trying to study…” Glen complained as he came down the stairs, followed closely by Clay.  Arthur held up his hand to silence everyone.

“Ashley, sweetie, it’s Spencer’s father.  I can hear you.  Can you answer me?” Arthur said gently but firmly into the phone.  His response was a sick gurgling sound.

“Arthur, what’s going on?” Paula asked as she watched her husbands face pale and Spencer pace.

“It’s Ashley, Paula.  I think she’s hurt.”

“Where is she?  We should get her help,” Clay jumped into the conversation, pulling on his shoes and then standing next to Spencer, rubbing her back to try and calm her.

“Arthur, you don’t know that for sure.  You know how that girl is…” Arthur handed the phone to his stubborn wife.

“Listen for yourself.  She’s making enough noise to keep the line open but can’t speak,” he explained.  Paula put the phone to her ear.  After a second or two, she switched gears.

“Glen, go get my emergency bag from the upstairs closet.  Arthur get the car keys,” she turned to her daughter. “Do you know where she is?” Spencer shook her head, tears borne of fear and terror rolling down her cheeks.

“No, she said she had errands to run, that’s it,” she cried.

“OK, honey, calm down,” Paula said gently. 

“Mom, keep Ashley on the line.  I have an idea,” Clay instructed as he rushed upstairs, taking the steps two at a time.  He returned a few moments later with his laptop in hand.

“Here, cell phones nowadays have built in GPS units.  If Ashley’s is activated, we may be able to find her that way.” He typed Ashley’s phone number into the program and waited as Glen returned with the medical bag.

“We going or what?” he asked impatiently.  Paula shushed him.  It was a tense few moments as they waited to see if the GPS would work.

“Here Spencer, talk to her.  Keep her there,” Paula instructed as she handed the phone back to Spencer.  While she was no big fan of Ashley’s and felt that she didn’t belong as a part of her daughter’s life, Paula was still human, as well as a mother and doctor.  She didn’t want to see the teen hurt.

“There!” Clay exclaimed. “She’s about 7 miles west.  But I can only pinpoint which block, not where exactly.”

“Should we call the police?” Arthur asked.  Paula shook her head.

“Let’s make sure that this is for real and not some sort of sick joke,” she countered.  Every member of her family glared at her and she prayed that her decision wouldn’t cost Ashley her life.

“We’re coming, Ashley,” Spencer whispered into the phone as they all climbed into the car. “Hang on, baby, I’m coming.”


The ride to the neighborhood was tense, filled only with Spencer softly reassuring the injured girl on the other end of the line that she was almost there.  Ashley’s whimpers had grown softer, being drowned out by a crackling, gurgling sound that terrified Spencer.

“Please hang on, Ashley,” she begged.  Clay hugged her gently from the side while Glen twitched with anxiousness on the other side.

He wasn’t Ashley’s friend but she WAS his sister’s friend and he knew that she was important to his little sister.  And he also knew that Ashley would never pull a prank like this on Spencer.  He knew it was real. So he was beyond pissed that someone had hurt a person his sister cared about.  He wanted desperately to bust someone’s head open for it.

“Spencer, where do you think she is?” her father asked from the driver’s seat as they got to the block radius that Clay’s computer had indicated Ashley was in.

“Dad, I don’t know…” Spencer panicked.

“Spence, calm down.  You have to help Ashley now, so think,” Clay encouraged.  Spencer closed her eyes and took a deep breath, listening to Ashley’s pained breathing over the phone line.

“Errands…she said she was running errands.  And if no one’s found her yet then it must be the parking lot of something closed?” she thought out loud.

“Kramer’s,” Glen suggested. “I heard Ashley tell Aiden in the hall today that Kramer’s has the best ice cream and that she was gonna go get some later.  They close at 6.”

“It’s up ahead, we’ll try that parking lot first,” Arthur agreed.

“Dad, honk the horn,” Spencer said suddenly.


“Honk the horn.  I might hear it,” she explained.  Arthur did as she said and watched in his rearview mirror as Spencer jumped.

“She’s close, that was loud,” she said.

“There’s her car…” Cay pointed it out as he saw it.  Wasting no time, Arthur pulled the car in.  The family collectively gasped as they saw Ashley lying on the ground motionless.

“Oh God…” Spencer whispered in horror.

Paula was out of the car before it had completely stopped, medical bag in hand, followed closely by Spencer.  Spencer ran to her fallen friend and dropped to her knees beside her.

“Ashley, Ashley can you hear me?” she asked desperately.  Very slowly, Ashley’s eyes fluttered open and Spencer nearly gagged at the pain so clearly written in those soulful brown eyes.

“You…you came,” Ashley gasped.  Spencer managed a watery smile.

“Of course I did,” she sniffled. She wiped gently at the blood oozing from the corner of Ashley’s full lips in a strange parody of what Ashley had done for her own split lip.

“We all did, Ashley.  Now lay still and let me take a look at you,” Paula instructed.  She was sickened by what she saw.  Someone had beaten the young woman very badly, leaving her splattered with blood and covered in developing bruises.  Her normally shining dark hair was now plastered to the side of her head from dirt and blood.  And to add insult to injury, the assailant had ripped open the girl’s shirt and scrawled ‘dyke’ across her chest black marker.

Ashley let out a sharp cry as Paula pressed on her injured ribs.

“I’m sorry Ashley,” she said sincerely. “Arthur, did you call 911?”

“Before the car even stopped,” her husband confirmed as he stood a few feet away with Clay and Glen.

“Mom?” Spencer asked frightened.  She was carefully cradling Ashley’s head and stroking the prone girl’s matted hair away from her face.  There was glass all over the ground and in Ashley’s hair, some of it biting into Spencer’s hands.  And there was blood running freely from Ashley’s right ear that scared Spencer.

Paula spared her distraught daughter a quick glance.

“It’s bad, Spencer.  She needs to get to the hospital.” She didn’t want to scare her youngest child but she didn’t want to lie either.

Spencer lowered her head so that her mouth was beside Ashley’s ear.

“You’re going to be all right, OK?  Mom will take care of you until the ambulance gets here and then they’ll fix you right up at the hospital.  You’ll be fine in no time.  Then we can go to the beach and hang out and look at all the hotties in the surf…” Spencer babbled to keep herself busy and to distract herself from the bubbling, overwhelming horror that was clutching at her throat.

“Where the hell is the EMS?” Paula muttered.  She understood the severity of Ashley’s injuries and the longer they waited, the worse her chances got.

“Hurts…” Ashley sobbed. “Can’t breathe…” Paula placed her stethoscope over Ashley’s chest and listened, a concerned frown wrinkling her brow.  A sudden coughing fit rocked through Ashley’s frame, splattering foamy blood down her face.

“Easy, sweetie,” Paula advised as she helped Spencer hold Ashley’s shoulders down. “You have some broken ribs and I think that they may have punctured a lung.  Lie still and just concentrate on breathing.” She turned to her husband and sons.

“Get me a blanket, Arthur.  Clay, Glen, please go sit in the car while we wait.” Clay and Glen both shook their heads.

“I’m not gonna go sit in the car…” Glen started.

“I’m staying here…” Clay protested.  Paula let out an impatient breath.

“I need to drain the blood from her chest cavity and I don’t want you to see that!” she explained, annoyed.  Still, neither boy moved.  She then looked up at Spencer. “Spencer…”

“I’m staying right here, Mom.  She needs me.” Having expected no less and knowing that there was nothing she could say or do other than bodily drag Spencer from her best friend, Paula nodded. Arthur returned with a blanket that Paula put over Ashley’s legs before getting what she needed out of her bag.

“Arthur, keep an eye on the boys and listen for the ambulance while I do this.  Spencer, this is going to hurt her.” Tears splashed down Spencer’s cheeks.

“I know,” she croaked. She could feel Ashley’s frame shaking beneath her hands. “Please, Mom, just help her!”

“Spencer, I need you to hold her still.  If she moves too much I could do more harm than good,” she explained.  At Spencer’s nod, she continued.

“Ashley, can you hear me?” Ashley managed a weak ‘yes’. “All right.  You have a punctured lung and it collapsed.  You can’t get any air because there’s blood pooling there and it’s putting pressure on your lung.  I need to put a tube in to drain it.  And it’s going to hurt.  I’m sorry.”

“’k,” Ashley whimpered.  Spencer placed a small kiss to the injured girl’s forehead, heedless of her mother’s presence.

Paula removed a sterilized scalpel from her bag and after looking at her daughter once more, she felt around Ashley’s broken ribs for the spot she needed.  She could hear distant sirens but knew that Ashley couldn’t wait for them.  Taking a deep breath, she began to cut into Ashley’s side.

“Jesus Christ,” Glen groaned, turning away sick.  His father clasped him on the shoulder.

“It’s OK, Glen.  It’ll be OK.” The sound of the approaching sirens began to grow in volume. 

Ashley all but screamed with what strength she still had as the new pain flooded her system.

“I’m sorry,” Paula flinched as another cry was ripped from the teens lips as she inserted the tube to drain Ashley’s chest.  She could now see the flashing lights of the ambulance as it drew nearer.

“Ashley, it’s OK,” Spencer cried quietly. “Ashley?”

“She’s unconscious, Spencer,” Paula pointed out softly.  “But she’s breathing easier.”

“It’ll be OK, Ashley,” Spencer vowed to the unconscious girl.  “I promise it will.” The ambulance pulled up and Paula quickly went about explaining the situation.

“Spencer, come here and let the EMT’s do their job,” Paula instructed although her voice held nothing but concern and patience.

“I don’t want to leave her,” Spencer protested.

“You’re not, hon.  We’re not leaving until they do and then we’re all going to the hospital,” Arthur informed her. “Just let them work on her.  That’s how you can help her right now.” Reluctantly, Spencer knew her parents were right.

“I’ll be right here, Ash.  I’m not gonna leave you,” she told her friend even though Ashley couldn’t hear her.  She kissed Ashley on the forehead one more time before she stood up and joined her family a few feet away.


The ride to the hospital was quiet, her father and Glen saying nothing from the front seat while Spencer and Clay sat in the back.  Her mother had gone in the ambulance to explain the details of Ashley’s condition en route.  Clay had his arm around Spencer, seeking to comfort his distraught sister as much as he could.

Spencer stared at her hands.  They were covered in blood; Ashley’s blood.  It was mixed with the blood from the cuts on her hands caused by the broken glass in Ashley’s hair, drying and caking to her hands as she flexed them in the dim light of the car.  She looked at her jeans and her top; again they were splattered and stained with blood.

“Is she OK back there, Clay?” Arthur asked softly, seeing the shell-shocked look on his daughter’s face through the rearview mirror. 

“Spencer?” Clay called to her, his voice barely above a whisper.

“I’m covered in her blood,” Spencer responded, her voice bland and monotone.

“We’ll get you cleaned up as soon as we get to the hospital, hon,” her father assured her.

“You’re hands are cut,” Clay pointed out.  “Here.” He grabbed the blanket that they’d used with Ashley and ripped off a few pieces that were fairly clean to wrap around Spencer’s hands.

“We’ll get those looked at when we get there, OK?” he assured her.  She barely nodded her understanding, her mind not on the present.

The images of Ashley, lying so badly hurt, struggling to breathe and trembling in Spencer’s arms turned themselves over in the quiet blonde’s mind.  They were the images of a horrific nightmare only this time made flesh.  Spencer hoped that it WAS a dream; that she’d wake up at home, tangled in her sheets.  The she could call Ashley and find that the girl was unharmed.  Upset at being woken up for a nightmare, but safe and whole nonetheless. 

She shivered as the heavy weight of Ashley’s blood on her clothes sank into her body, rooting her painfully to reality and crushing all hope that it was a dream.

“This is real, isn’t it?” she asked Clay, finally looking up from her hands.  Tears threatened to fall from long lashes. “This isn’t a dream, is it?” Clay shook his head sadly.

“I wish it were, Spencer.  I really wish it were.”


They sat in the waiting room for what felt like hours.  Spencer pulled nervously on the collar of the scrubs that she’d been given upon arrival to replace her blood stained clothes.  Then she picked at the bandages covering her hands.  She never even felt pain from her lacerations, even the one that had needed stitches. She fidgeted nervously, needing something to do other than sit there and continue to replay the entire evening over and over in her head on endless loop.

She stood up and started to pace.

“Spencer, sit down, honey.  Don’t get yourself all worked up,” Arthur told her calmly.  Spencer threw her arms in the air and then glared at her father.

“Don’t get worked up? Dad, we just picked up what was left of Ashley, my BEST friend from the sidewalk!  I was covered in her blood!  She couldn’t speak!  For all I know she’s lying dead back there and they don’t want to come tell us!  When do you think will be a good time for me to get WORKED UP??!!”

Arthur stood up and went to embrace his youngest but she pushed him away.

“No, I don’t want to be hugged,” she protested. She looked around wildly. “Where the hell is Mom?  Why hasn’t she come out to tell us what’s going on?”

“Spencer,” Clay said calmly from the seat he was in, putting down the months old copy of US Weekly that he’d been trying to distract himself from. “When there’s something to tell us, Mom will be here.  But you need to stay calm until then.  Stay calm because Ashley is going to need you.” Spencer went and sat down next to Clay, turning her body to lie across the unoccupied seats beside him.  She put her head in his lap and started to cry.

“I’m scared, Clay,” she sobbed. “What if?...What if?” Clay stroked her hair away from her face, glad to at least try to soothe his sister.

“Don’t even think that, Spencer.  Ashley’s a strong girl,” he reminded her.  He bent down close to Spencer’s ear so that their father and Glen wouldn’t hear him.

“She’ll come back to you, Spence.  You have to believe she will.”


A few feet away, Glen fumed and cracked his knuckles in anger.

“It’s not right, Dad.  It’s not right,” he grumbled. “I mean, I don’t agree with Ashley’s lifestyle but I’d never hurt her for it.  What gives people the right to DO that?  How can you do something like this just because of you don’t agree with someone?  She wasn’t hurting anyone.  It’s not right.”

Arthur nodded, agreeing.  He never wanted his children to have to face issues such as this if he could protect them from it.  But since the move from Ohio, it seemed like all the issues that never intruded on their lives were suddenly storming through the door, leaving both Arthur and Paula feeling ill prepared.

“It’s the nature of fear, Glen.  And that fear can become hatred. People fear things that are different.  And some people don’t see that it’s wrong to push their ideals, their opinions on others.  They think that it’s ok to single out someone for being different and punish them for it.  It’s happened throughout history.  Wars have been fought over things like religious differences.  Because one person didn’t agree with another.”

“That doesn’t make it right!” Glen yelled.  He blushed when the nursing staff at the desk glared.

“I know it doesn’t.  Nothing does.  You’d think that in this advanced day and age that we’d be beyond this sort of hatred as a society. But unfortunately we’re not.  Look, Glen, whatever your dislike of Ashley, your sister is going to need you right now…”

“I don’t dislike her, Dad,” Glen protested, cutting his father off. “Hell, I barely know her.  I just, the whole ‘gay’ thing freaks me out.” Arthur nodded again.

“I understand, son.”

“But as much as it freaks me out,” Glen continued, quickly wiping at the tears that threatened to fall.  He hated the whole situation and its inherent unfairness.

“As much as it freaks me out, Dad, I could never do something like THIS.”

“Because you were raised better than this.”


Aeryn Sun

New Stories

Author & Genre

Main Index