Title: A Shoulder to Cry On
Fandom: South Of Nowhere
Disclaimers: Not Mine, Some lines from The Morning After/spoilers also.
Authors Notes: Please let me know what you all think of this one. My take on a different way Spencer could have comforted Ashley.
Feedback: Yes please! Ladyesmeralda@cox.net
“I can’t deal with either of you right now.” The last words her girlfriend had spoken to her that afternoon kept resonating through Spencer’s head. She knew she shouldn’t go after Ashley but by the time Mrs. Davies had threatened her, the choice had been taken away from her. Ashley was nowhere to be found. She had no idea where the distraught girl could have gotten to in such a short time and without a car she didn’t have many options. That had been almost three hours ago and she’d called Ashley twice, leaving a voice mail the first time, hanging up when the voice mail picked up immediately the second. She couldn’t remember ever being as worried as she was about her girlfriend and she wished she could have Clay or even her dad drive her around looking for the upset brunette.
God, what am I gonna do for poor Ash? She’s right, I have no idea how she’s feeling, but that doesn’t mean I care about her any less. I want to be there for her, she can’t go through this all alone, and now that I’ve seen her mother in action again, it just shows me even more how alone she is. If we weren’t together, she’d have no one. My poor baby. I want to fix this. I hate the idea that she’s out there in the dark somewhere, alone, upset and hurting. Spencer knew there was nothing she could do and that was too much for her. She was so afraid that Ashley was going to retreat to a place Spencer couldn’t reach her. The thought made her eyes tear up and she finally gave in to all the worry and anxiety. She buried her head in her pillow and sobbed harder than she had in a very long time.
“Hey, Spencer! Dinner!” Her dad’s voice didn’t register until several seconds after he’d called her. She almost hadn’t heard him through the last of the tears. She figured that twenty minutes was enough crying. She had to regain control of herself and figure out her next move. Maybe she would ask Clay to take her out looking for Ashley after dinner if he didn’t have much homework, or even her dad might be willing. The last thing she wanted was to go downstairs and eat a meal with her family until she heard from her girlfriend. The tension between her parents lately was enough to make her crazy, and with her luck, they’d pick tonight to focus on her and ask why she was upset. She wasn’t sure how to answer that yet. She’d thought she and Ashley would be able to sit down and talk about things first.
Sure, Ashley had said she wanted her that night at her house, but before they’d really had a chance to dissect what everything meant, her phone had forced them back into the real world. Did Ashley want to be her girlfriend? Spencer knew without hesitation that she wanted to be Ashley’s, but she also knew that they couldn’t have a conversation about that right now. If she was Ashley’s girlfriend, she felt that that gave her certain rights at a time like this. She needed to be by the older girl’s side, which was difficult when she didn’t know where she was.
Just then, as she was heading into the bathroom to wash the tears away, the doorbell rang. Not that weird in a house with three teens, but as Spencer headed toward the stairs a minute later, she heard a familiar voice.
“I just didn’t know where else to go.” The voice somewhat resembled Ashley’s but was tinged with emotion and tears.
Spencer had never heard Ashley sound that broken and upset before. She hurried down the steps, listening to the sobs of her girlfriend as she descended, trying not to burst into tears again herself. “Ashley?” As soon as the other girl came into view, Spencer got the shock of her life. It was no secret to anyone that her mother hated the dark haired girl, but Paula Carlin and Ashley were embracing and her mother was smoothing the other girl’s hair with one hand and rubbing her back with the other. Sure, the look on her face said that she was sure God was going to come strike her down any second for comforting one of those, but she was doing it. Never mind that the bible said to love one another, but Spencer didn’t care about that right then. Nothing mattered but getting to and comforting Ashley. As soon as she cleared the stairs, her mother released the girl, stroking her hair and looking into her eyes, almost apologizing.
Spencer didn’t want to take time to think about that just then though. She was so relieved that Ashley appeared okay, outwardly at least; and had come to her. As their eyes met, the lost expression on the shorter girl’s face almost devastated the blonde. It was apparent that Ashley had finally let herself begin grieving, judging by the tear tracks and mascara streaked all down her face. She cautiously put her hands on Ashley’s upper arms, relieved when the girl didn’t push her away again.
“Arthur? Set another place. Ashley is staying for dinner.”
As her mother spoke, Spencer turned to look, until she was sure her mother wasn’t about to cause trouble for them. Once she was sure everything was good for the moment, she forgot about everyone else except the distressed girl in front of her. She cautiously rubbed her hands up and down her girlfriend’s arms, wanting the contact but unsure how much Ashley was willing to give.
“I’m sorry.” The brown eyes that were usually full of life, sparkle and energy stared at her for a moment before dropping down to the floor.
Spencer realized with a sinking sense of dread that the broken girl thought that she would be upset with her. She was unsure of her welcome. That and the fact that Ashley had come to her house anyway, braving her mother, made Spencer love her even more. “You don’t have to be. Its, - You’re just going through the worst time right now.” She tried to make her voice as calm and love filled as she could, to reassure the girl every way that she was able. She wanted so badly to kiss her tears away or even just kiss her, but she was dimly aware that her parents were watching.
“No! I’m sorry for not letting you in, for letting you help. God, I’m so bad at this, but I need you so bad right now!”
Spencer knew at that moment that her overtures wouldn’t be rebuffed. She had been waiting for Ashley to break ever since the dark haired girl had shut her out after she had to leave the Davies mansion three days ago. Spencer was just glad Ashley had come to her before she fell apart. She quickly put her arms around the shorter girl and held on as tightly as she could, stroking her hair and rubbing circles on her back as well. She was determined to let Ashley know that she was there for her no matter what as she did her best to convey how she felt about the dark haired girl through the embrace. More than anything else, she wanted to kiss her girlfriend but she wasn’t quite ready to deal with her parents yet. She settled for letting her hands roam over the other girl in an attempt to comfort Ashley. She murmured softly as she did so, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. I’m here now. I’m here for you. You’re not alone, let it out. I love you so much, we’re gonna get through this together, I promise. I’m not going anywhere no matter what. This sucks so bad and I’m so sorry it happened to you.” She didn’t even care if her parents heard or what they thought. Ashley was the only thing that mattered to her at that moment.
After a few minutes, the brunette calmed down a bit. Paula and Arthur had joined the boys at the table when Ashley had broken down and the girls could hear them passing the serving dishes around quietly in the next room. “Oh god, Spence! I’m so sorry!” Ashley pulled back from the embrace causing Spencer to look at her with a puzzled expression on her face.
“For what, baby?”
Ashley stared open mouthed at Spencer for a few moments before regaining her power of speech. “Did you just-“
“Yeah, was that okay? I know we didn’t get a chance to really talk about things yet, but I want you to know I’m serious about this; about us, and I’m not going anywhere. You’re so important to me and I need to make sure you know that, now more than ever.”
“Are you serious?” Ashley looked like she might burst into tears again.
“Of course I am! I’ve never been more serious about anything in my life. You know I’ve felt this way for a while; I was just waiting for the right time to bring it up. I figured it might help a bit now.” Spencer smiled cautiously at the other girl.
“It does. Wow, for real?” Ashley was afraid to believe. What if she just feels sorry for me? Can someone like her really want to be with someone like me?
“Of course, for real. I wouldn’t dare kick you when you were down, Ash. You should know that by now. I’m not like that. Now, what are you sorry for?”
“Coming over here without calling first and interrupting your family’s dinner. I’ve been walking around the strip. I left the house without my phone. I didn’t want to go back and get it and then come here –“
“Shh, baby. It’s okay that you came here, Ash.” Spencer whispered the next, hating herself for doing it, but not wanting to cause any more drama that night. She just hoped the other girl understood. “I’m your girlfriend, you should be able to come to me when something like this happens. I’m always here for you.”
“I know that, Spence and it means so so much to me, but I don’t want you to get in trouble, or cause trouble with your mom.” Ashley stared down at the floor, feeling the guilt wash over her as she reluctantly pulled out of the embrace.
“Ash, please stop. What’d you do that for?” Spencer looked at the other girl with concern on her face.
“I don’t want your parents to give you any more grief. I know your mom hates me.”
“My parents are busy eating. They’re the last thing on my mind right now. They know you just had a huge shock and that you need your best friend. My mom’s just going to have to get used to it. We’re not doing anything wrong. I thought I told you that I think dad knows anyway and I’m sure he’s going to be fine with us.”
“You did. I just don’t want to cause trouble for anyone else right now.” Ashley looked like she was about to cry again.
“You’re not causing any trouble. I bet you haven’t eaten, right?” Spencer brought her hand up to wipe away some of the tears in the brunette’s eyes.
“Right. I haven’t felt much like eating.” Ashley looked down at the floor; just wishing she could crawl in a hole and die. She felt a bit better being with Spencer and being in Spencer’s arms, but she couldn’t remember ever hurting this bad. She had no idea how to even begin to deal with her dad’s death. The one semi-constant person in her life before she’d met the blonde was gone. Why would Spencer stick around when she was such a mess? She wasn’t even related to her.
“When was the last time you ate?” Spencer looked at the older girl with a concerned expression.
“Um, I don’t remember. I think I had something yesterday – no wait, maybe the day before. The days are blending together.”
“That’s still entirely too long. Lets get you cleaned up a little, then eat something quick and we can escape to my room.” Spencer held out a hand to lead her girlfriend to the bathroom.
“No, I’m okay now, Spence. I’ll just go. I don’t want to be a bother. I’ll be fine. Thanks!” Ashley started to walk toward the door but before she could take two steps, she felt a gentle hand on her arm.
“Ash, it’s ok. You’re the furthest thing from a bother. You can lean on me. I swear I’m not going anywhere and I won’t break. I can help you. I want to be here for you. I don’t want you going anywhere tonight. You’re too upset to drive. Stay here with me.” Spencer slid her hand down Ashley’s arm, connected their hands and led the distraught girl to the bathroom, not giving her a chance to argue.
* * *
Once they got into the room, Spencer shut and locked the door behind them before drawing the other girl to her. “Come here. Now I can do what I’ve wanted to do since you got here. I didn’t want to risk anything in front of anyone else though. You don’t need any more drama right now.” She held Ashley tightly and connected their lips in a sweet kiss, trying to transfer all of the love she felt for the other girl and her support and comfort to her.
After about a minute, Ashley pulled out of the kiss, leaning back and looking up at Spencer with a half smile on her face. “I needed that. Thanks.”
“I figured you might. By the way, you’re staying here tonight. No arguing. I’m not letting you spend the night alone and there’s no way I’m letting either of us deal with your mother again. You’re staying here with me, in my bed. No couch tonight either.” The blonde turned and got a fresh washcloth out of the linen closet, wet it and began to tenderly remove the traces of tears and mascara that still remained on the other girl’s face.
Ashley had yet to say a word. She looked at Spencer almost in shock. She had rarely seen the take-charge side of the other girl. “But, -“
“But nothing. I said no arguing; remember? If you wake up and need to talk or anything, I want to be here for you tonight.” Spencer finished her ministrations and placed a quick kiss on Ashley’s nose. “I know what you’re thinking, babe and stop. Let me deal with her. Now, do you think you can face my family long enough to eat something?”
“I suppose so. I wouldn’t want you to starve just cause you’re taking care of me.” Ashley smiled a half smile as Spencer opened the bathroom door. The girls walked to the dining room where Glen was just asking to be excused for a date.
“Hi, Mr. C.”
“Sit down, help yourself to some dinner. Yes, go ahead Glen. You can go study if you want, Clay. We’ll sit here with the girls.” Arthur didn’t want Ashley to be uncomfortable, so he figured the less people at the table the better. The boys left as Ashley and Spencer sat down.
“What can I get you to drink, Ashley? Spence?” Paula decided to continue making an effort, even though her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes.
“Milk, please,” both girls answered in unison.
Paula left the room to get the drinks as Spencer leaned over to whisper to her dad. “Dad, I’m not letting Ash be alone tonight and there’s no way either of us is going to face her mom again. Can she stay here please, and sleep in my bed? We’re not gonna do anything, I just wanna be there for her if she wakes up and needs to talk or something.”
“That’s fine. I’ll deal with your mother.” Arthur smiled at both the girls in an attempt to put them at ease. This made him even more certain that his daughter and the brunette were a couple. He hoped Spencer would feel comfortable talking to him at some point soon. He just wanted her to be happy, no matter who that was with.
Ashley was filling her plate and she heard just enough of the whispered conversation to make her blush. She had never wanted to disappear more than she had at that moment. Spencer looked over and noticed the expression on her face. The blonde had just enough time to reach over and give her hand a gentle squeeze before releasing it as Paula returned with the glasses.
* * *
Twenty minutes later, after making awkward small talk with Paula and Arthur, Spencer and Ashley were excused and made their way up to Spencer’s room.
“Do you want to change into something more comfortable?” Spencer sat down on the bed, pulling Ashley next to her.
“Not yet. God, thank you so much for tonight, Spence. I don’t know how I’d get through any of this without you.”
The blonde smiled at the girl next to her on the bed as she pulled her into another hug. “Oh, you wouldn’t.” She felt her girlfriend smile into her shoulder and she turned her head to catch it. “It’s so good to see you smile.”
Ashley sat for a minute, soaking up as much comfort as she could from Spencer. Suddenly, she pulled back, causing the other girl to look at her with a puzzled expression on her face. “I’ve been thinking. There’s something I need to do.”
“I don’t care what that witch says. I want to have a memorial service for my dad. I’m sure I can get money from his accountant. I’m going to call him first thing in the morning.” Ashley had the determined expression on her face that Spencer had come to know very well.
“That sounds like a great idea, Ash! What can I do to help?”
“Let’s make a list.” Spencer nodded and found a pen and a notebook, which she gave to Ashley. They spent the next few hours planning the service as best they could. “This is a pretty good start I think. Thanks, Spence.”
“Aw, no thanks necessary, baby. I’m just glad to be able to help you. I’m going to talk to dad too and get out of school the next few days so I can help you however I can.” Spencer smiled over at Ashley.
“You don’t have to do that. I’ve caused enough trouble already.” Ashley looked down at the floor, imagining Paula’s fit when she got this news.
“I know I don’t have to, I want to. I want to be there for you to help you through this, Ash. What kind of girlfriend would I be if I just went off to school at a time like this? You haven’t caused any trouble either so please stop thinking that.”
“It’s hard to when your mom keeps looking at me the way she does. What if she tells you we can’t be friends anymore?” Ashley looked at Spencer with a stricken expression on her face.
Spencer pulled Ashley closer to her again. “Stop worrying about that so much. There is no way she’s going to do that. I don’t think my dad will let her. Even if she does, I’m not going to listen and I’m going to tell her flat out that I’m not gonna put up with it. She can’t tell me who I can and cannot date or be friends with. I’m old enough to make my own decisions. It’s not her fault that she hasn’t taken the time to get to know you. Don’t worry though, she won’t find out about us until things calm down.”
“When you tell them, I want to be with you. You’re not going through that alone. I guess I will believe you too, or at least try harder. I want to, and I don’t want to even imagine my life without you in it. Life without dad in it is bad enough.” Ashley started to tear up again.
“Aw, come here baby. I promise you, no matter what, you’re never going to know what life is like without me. Are you getting tired?”
“Actually, yes I am. I haven’t slept very well since I found out.”
“I bet you haven’t. Hopefully you’ll sleep better tonight with me here to chase away any bad dreams.” Spencer walked to her dresser and got out a set of boxers and tank top for each of them. She handed one to Ashley and they changed and got ready for bed.
“Thank you. I have a feeling I might.” They shared another smile and kiss before continuing their preparations for bed.
Twenty minutes later, they were in Spencer’s bed with the door closed and light off. “Goodnight, Ash. If you wake up and need me, promise you’ll wake me?”
“I promise.” Ashley laid her head down on the pillow next to Spencer’s.
“Come here. I wanna hold you while you fall asleep; if that’s okay with you?” Spencer smiled over at the girl lying next to her. She was so proud of herself for standing up to her mother, even if it had been through her father. She couldn’t believe she and Ashley were actually in her bed together.
Ashley didn’t trust herself to reply. She moved closer to Spencer and let the blonde draw her into her body, wrapping arms tightly around her. She couldn’t remember ever feeling safer than she had at that moment. She wished the night never had to end; that she could stay in Spencer’s warm embrace forever. She felt more loved than she had in a very long time.
“Goodnight, Ash. I love you.” Spencer leaned over and placed a final kiss on Ashley’s lips, which was promptly returned before the reply came from an almost asleep Ashley.
“Goodnight, Spence. I love you too.”
Spencer lay in the darkness, feeling the rise and fall of her girlfriend’s chest as sleep overtook the brunette. She knew this was just the second of many nights they would spend together as a couple and she knew she wanted to do nothing more than protect and comfort Ashley for as long as she was able. She didn’t care what her mother or anyone else said or did. There was no way she was going to let anyone split her and Ashley up. She’d worked too hard and gone through too much to get where she was to lose it now. She had finally figured out what was different about her and she loved it. She had found the place she belonged with Ashley and she had a strange feeling that nothing would be able to come between them now. She was home. The blonde sighed contentedly as she snuggled closer to Ashley and let sleep claim her as well.