Aw, thanks for the positive reviews, guys :). I'm glad you enjoyed the first chapter. Hopefully this doesn't disappoint. Flashbacks, as always, are in italics.
Tugging back and forth on the zip to her bag, Spencer looked to the clock. It was ten minutes past the usual time Ashley was at her door annoying her. She scraped her nail across the material for a few, impatient seconds until she sighed and stood up from her chair. She wasn't going to be late on account of her.
She pulled open the front door and was startled when she saw Ashley standing right in front of her. "God, lurk much?"
Spencer's voice was like a railroad spike through her head and instead of speaking to her - inflicting more pain upon herself, Ashley merely stepped out of the way so the blonde could move out of the house and lock the door.
At the end of the driveway, Spencer slid the keys into her pocket and looked over to Ashley's pale face. She was holding a banana, wearing aviators, and taking big gulps of chocolate milk. It could only mean one thing: she was badly hungover.
She opened her mouth to speak when she heard Ashley's father yelling his daughter's name.
Wincing, Ashley took a deep breath, praying she didn't vomit over the sidewalk. Her dad always spoke too loud early in the mornings.
Raife smiled to Spencer who had just turned to face him. "Morning, trouble-maker!" he yelled to her, a nickname from childhood that had stuck.
She noticed Ashley hunched over, holding her hand across her stomach and smiled. "Good morning!"
"Are you two off to school?"
She nodded. "Unless you want to write us a note?"
Ashley straightened up and glared at Spencer before turning to her father. She pressed the pad of her middle finger to her lips, motioning two silent requests.
Raife rolled his eyes at his daughter. If Ashley was going to drink, she'd suffer the consequences. "Maybe next week!" he yelled to Spencer. "Have a good day, girls!"
With a throbbing head and nothing but contempt for her father, Ashley set off down the street struggling to put earplugs in without dropping her hangover remedies all over the floor.
Walking faster to catch up, Spencer smiled to herself. "I love that man."
Ashley felt slight relief when the painful sounds were muffled some. She opened her banana and took a bite, hoping it would make her feel better than the slice of dry toast did.
"You look pretty stupid," Spencer told her. After all, Ashley was wearing sunglasses when dark grey clouds loomed over their heads. She looked down to her jeans. "But at least you decided to wear weather-appropriate clothing. Bravo."
Feeling another intense wave of nausea, Ashley closed her eyes as she walked, willing herself not to vomit. Again.
"I know you can hear me," Spencer said after a moment. "And you could at least pretend to be sorry for being ten minutes late."
"And you could at least take a hint," Ashley replied quietly, carefully opening her eyes. "Be quiet."
"Why were you late?"
She sighed and took her earplugs out. "I overslept."
"You know what helps with that?"
Ashley took another bite of her banana. "I'm sure you're going to tell me."
"Not drinking half a bottle of vodka on a school night."
"Stellar advice, Spencer. I'll be sure to remember that one."
"I kinda hope you don't," she replied, shrugging. "I like seeing you like this. It's not often you suffer any consequences."
"Okay, you know what?" Ashley began, holding her hand up, chocolate milk splashing up the sides of the cup. "I'm really not in the mood for that this morning, so don't even bring it up."
Her reaction was typical, but it still stung. "I hope you hurl in class," Spencer spat.
Ashley nodded her head softly, now chugging her chocolate milk in an attempt to ease her stomach quicker. "Maybe it'll be over you," she said after she'd finished, dropping her empty cup into someone's garbage can.
Spencer picked up her pace and then turned around, walking backwards. "P.E should be fun with your killer headache."
She laughed falsely and quietly. "Can't wait."
"My thoughts exactly," she replied happily as she spun back around and walked away from her.
And all Ashley could do was watch her go.
The day had passed unbearably slowly for Spencer and Ashley felt like she'd been in prison for eons. She'd fallen asleep in math, the food at lunch made her feel worse and every time the bell rang she felt like crying. It seemed to go on forever.
There was one class left and if it wasn't one she shared with Spencer, she'd skip it and head home to bed. She just hoped none of her team mates expected her to be on top form today, or any kind of form, really. She hated softball and just wanted to stand there and look on at Spencer being as competitive as usual.
She tried not to ignore various people shouting greetings to her from down the corridor, and tried even harder to smile at them in lieu of any verbal exchange. She was at her locker to drop a book off and get her change of clothes for P.E.
Down the hallway, Spencer came out of the restroom with her friend Emily and noticed Ashley immediately. She thought the brunette looked worse than she did when she saw her at lunch.
Spencer looked to her friend. "So, what?"
Emily rolled her eyes. "You wanna hang out after school, or are you doing something with Ashley?"
They lived in a small town and if people at school knew something was out of the ordinary with Ashley and Spencer, Glen would know. And if Glen knew, her parents would know. And that just wasn't an option.
"Ashley doesn't feel good, so, no, we're not hanging out," she said softly. "What did you have in mind?"
"Well..." Emily began happily, putting her arm around Spencer's neck as they walked down the corridor, closer to Ashley.
Upon seeing the redhead draped all over Spencer, Ashley grabbed her bag and slammed her locker shut, not caring that the sound was echoing in her head, getting louder each time. She hadn't liked her for a long time and Emily knew it. She played on it every time they saw each other.
The bell rang loudly and Spencer couldn't help a small smile when she saw Ashley drop her bag and cover her ears, squeezing her eyes shut. She'd always been so dramatic.
Feeling sluggish, Ashley took her time getting changed for class and strolled into the gym nearly five minutes later than everyone else. She was glad she wore her hoodie. It was freezing in there.
Coach Shaw looked to her watch. "Nice of you to join us, Ashley."
Her voice echoed and Ashley closed her eyes as she sat down on the open bleachers. "Anything for you, coach," she sighed out.
Facing away from Ashley, Spencer smiled faintly at her tone and threw the ball into the air, catching it again. She didn't realise what she'd just done.
The coach stared at Ashley for a few seconds. "Uh, Ashley, you are participating in this lesson, correct?"
"Well, I definitely didn't wear these ugly shorts to school."
"Great, then maybe you could get up and join the rest of your team?" she suggested, watching the brunette as she exhaled softly and stood up on unsteady legs. "And take off those sunglasses. This isn't the beach."
"Really?" Ashley asked, her teeth chattering. "I didn't notice with how hot it is in here, and all."
"What was that? You want to play outside?" Mrs. Shaw turned to the rest of her students who were talking amongst themselves. "Guys, pack it up. Per Miss Davies request, we're taking this outside."
Her announcement was met with loud groans all around, even from Spencer. It had been raining all morning and it looked like it was about to start again any second. She didn't look at Ashley as she passed her, heading out to the field.
"Nice going, Davies," Ramona, the left-fielder on her team muttered as she walked past.
Covered in a light sheen of sweat, Ashley pulled her hoodie off and rested her hands on her hips as she tried to catch her breath. She was centre-fielder in the softball game currently taking place and playing her best, she was still worse than the usual worst player. She'd fallen over three times and the wet grass was not helping her to stay upright, nor was the constant gripes from the girls on her team. They were losing.
The main highlight of the game for her had been when Emily had fallen over while running for the ball she had batted.
Ashley tilted her head to the sky and thanked Mother Nature for the blissful breeze helping to dry her skin and cool her down.
"Okay, Carlin, you're up!" someone yelled.
Her team mates cheered Spencer on as she sauntered up to the home plate, twirling her bat around in confidence. She watched Ashley adjust her cap and move into a ready position and couldn't help a pity chuckle.
Ashley squinted, wondering if Spencer was actually laughing at her or if it was her imagination. But no, behind the bars to the blonde's protective helmet, there was an undoubtedly smug smile. Her face was set in determination as the ball was pitched over to Spencer.
"A swing and a miss!" the brunette yelled, hoping to distract her.
Her childish antic just gave Spencer the extra momentum she needed to bat the ball harder than she had all game and she set off running, smiling at Ashley sprinting after her ball.
Looking up to keep sight of it, Ashley's legs were working harder and faster than they had all day and she was gaining on the white ball.
"What are you waiting for, Ashley? Run, already!" Ramona yelled to Ashley.
"What does this look like?" she yelled back. The girl had been irritating her all game.
"Like my grandma jogging! Hurry it up!"
Seeing the ball's descent, she held open her gloved hand ready to catch it. "I don't have a NOS shoved up my ass, Ramona!" she hollered back a split second before her foot slipped on the grass and she fell hard with no grace, her head slamming down onto the grass and mud, bouncing once.
The ball landed next to her.
Spencer jogged past the home plate and accepted a congratulatory high-five from Emily who was laughing.
The blonde smiled while arching a brow. "What's the joke?"
"Bambi on ice!" one of her other team mates answered, nodding to the field.
Her shared amusement was gone when she spun around and saw Ashley lying on the floor, unmoving. "Is she okay?"
Coach Shaw blew a whistle that shut everyone up. "Davies?" she bellowed. "Wave an arm if you're with us!"
Breathing heavily, Ashley stared up at the grey clouds and took a few moments before she sluggishly lifted her arm in a mock-salute. After a second, it fell heavily back to the grass. "Ow."
Spencer's shoulders relaxed before she re-joined Emily.
"Excellent!" the coach shouted. "Anything damaged?"
"Just my pride," she mumbled, wincing as she got up. Worse than the bump forming at the back of her head was the thick layer of dirt over her clothes and skin. She leaned down to pick up her fallen cap and groaned in displeasure, holding the small of her back.
"I'll take that as a no," she said, smiling when she could see her on her feet down the field.
The brunette trudged back to her spot and flicked a thick wad of mud off her elbow before wiping her nail on her t-shirt. Adding personal injuries to the self-inflicted mother-of-all headaches, Ashley really wasn't having a good day.
Emily was standing in position and had her bat poised when Ashley frowned and pulled her glove off, moving her hand to the small of her back before she arched it. She was oblivious to Emily hitting the ball, but she was very much aware of the painful cracking of her back. She thought she'd be sore tomorrow. And she would.
Emily didn't hit the ball as hard as Spencer, but the strong force behind it was heading directly for the brunette.
"Ashley, heads up!" the right-fielder yelled to her.
As the ball began its descent in the air, she quickly leaned forward and covered her head with her hands without question.
It bounced off her shin, leaving her to cry out and drop back to the floor.
Spencer looked on as Ashley curled up, grabbing at her shin with both hands, and laughed into her bottle of water.
"Walk it off!" Coach Shaw told her.
Wincing at the pulsating, sharp pain in her shin, Ashley thumped a fist off the grass and stood up. Her leg wasn't bleeding, but it was sure as hell going to bruise. She glared at Emily who had just run home, taking Spencer's team to an even greater score.
She picked up the ball and threw it back to the pitcher as hard as she could to alleviate some of her frustration. She held her hand up to gain Emily's attention. "Thanks for that, Emily!" she shouted sarcastically. "Yeah, remind me to return the favour!"
"Sorry!" she replied, looking at her leg, thankful she couldn't see blood. "But hey, at least it's just a bruise, huh?"
Ashley frowned. "If I wanted to look like Barney and Lisa Simpson all in one week, I'd make sure it was October!"
Rolling her eyes, Emily looked to Spencer for help. "She's pissed. Can you tell her I'm sorry?"
"You just said sorry," she pointed out.
"I know, but she always listens to you."
The blonde looked over at Ashley who still looked furious as she put her glove back on. It was the same angry expression she'd worn since Spencer could remember.
Ashley was exhausted. The day had gone on forever and she just didn't have the energy to run anymore. Everything hurt.
Spencer had just batted the ball right over Ashley's head and she just stood there watching the determined blonde sprint past every base until she was home again. She'd been playing well all lesson and her flushed cheeks showed it.
"Hey!" Ramona yelled to Ashley, waiting until she turned to face her before she shouted, "Wake the fuck up, dipshit!"
Ashley never could ignore anyone talking to her like that, and this time was no different. She rolled her eyes, tired of the other girl's attitude. "Shut up and eat the grass, you cow."
"I'll shut up when you start playing!"
Ashley pulled at her now dirty top and gestured down her body. "What the hell does this look like? I've been playing."
Spencer pulled her helmet up when she heard Ashley's raised voice which, for the first time in a long time, wasn't directed toward her. Her eyebrows furrowed when she saw Ramona walking closer to Ashley.
"It looks like you've been throwing yourself on the ground to avoid doing any actual work."
"Get out of my face," the brunette told her firmly. She really wasn't up for any drama in her state.
"You'll see," she warned her, turning to walk away.
Ramona grabbed Ashley's wrist and pulled her back around, missing sight of the blonde who was already storming in her direction. "Maybe I do want to see. I mean, we've lost this game because of you, so why don't you show me something you can do."
Ashley shrugged out of her grip and walked into her, invading personal space. "Unless you want to get another nose job, I'd seriously recommend you get the hell away from me."
She held up her hands. "Whatever, Ashley. Next time we have a game, try not to look like Amy Winehouse."
"You look like shit and my older sister saw you looking cosy with some guy at one a.m. last night. If I were you, I'd learn to close my legs and open my eyes, instead of the other way around. Maybe then you wouldn't be so tired and we'd win a game or t-"
Ramona's sentence was abruptly cut off when Spencer's hands harshly connected with her shoulders, pushing her so hard she was thrown to the ground.
"Eat shit and die," the blonde spat hotly.
Ashley looked over to the rest of the blonde's team in search of Spencer, not believing her eyes, or ears, for that matter. When she didn't see her, she looked back in time to see Ramona getting back up looking far from amused.
"Ramona stole my lunch yesterday," Spencer confessed, more than a little bit ashamed of herself for not being able to take care of the situation.
Ashley frowned, her cheeks protruding with the oreo she was eating. "She stole your lunch?" she asked with her mouth full, unintentionally spitting out crumbs of her cookie.
The blonde nodded.
It happened when Ashley was at the dentist and she'd never challenge Ramona Castro without Ashley by her side. The girl was almost a head taller than her and she was always with her friends.
Ashley took a sip of her milk and slammed it down on the table, her little face furious. "Come on, Spence."
She grabbed Ashley's hand and tugged downward. "No, sit back down. She'll pummel us!"
"No she won't," Ashley assured her, holding her hand. "Come on, let's go make her cry."
Spencer laughed, now following the brunette willingly. "How are we going to do that?"
"Not 'we', you."
"Me?" She shook her head. "I can't make her cry."
As they approached Ramona's table, Ashley smirked. She'd put the TV on at ten o'clock the night before and heard one of the characters in a film say the funniest thing. "You can do anything."
With a shadow now cast over her tuna sandwich, Ramona frowned and turned around to see what was blocking her light. She kept her frown when she saw Ashley and Spencer. "What?"
Spencer nervously looked at her unfriendly face before she turned to Ashley. "What do I say?" she whispered to her.
Ashley smiled and leaned into her ear, whispering the phrase she remembered from the night before, and laughed when Spencer gasped and burst into laughter.
"I can't say that!" she whispered back to her.
It was unheard of for a third-grader to say something like that. Even the sixth-graders wouldn't say it. Well, maybe one of the scary ones...
"What do you want?" Ramona asked again, annoyed with their presence.
"It's about yesterday," Ashley replied, staring her right in the eyes.
Ramona smiled and looked to Spencer. "What about it? You want me to take something else off your hands?"
"No," Spencer struggled to get out, feeling the heat of the stares from the girl's friends.
"I just wanted to say..."
When she stopped, Ramona laughed with her friends. "What a wimp."
Spencer looked to Ashley who was smiling in assurance. She took a deep breath. "Eat shit and die!"
Silence fell across the food hall while Ashley and Spencer looked on in satisfaction as Ramona burst into tears.
"What a wimp," Ashley commented.
Angry and upset, Ramona stood up and raised her hand to hit the blonde who had hurt her feelings only to be blocked by Ashley and shoved down to the floor.
Ashley picked up a half-empty carton of orange juice and squeezed it over the girl's face until it was empty, just spitting out air and tiny splashes of liquid. "Ooops."
Seeing Ashley sticking up for her widened Spencer's smile even further and it only fell away when she saw the principal heading right for her.
They were done for.
Ashley stepped forward and grabbed her fist before it had chance to make contact with Spencer. Stepping in front of the blonde, Ashley shoved Ramona with all the strength she had left and watched as she fell down to the floor.
"Back where you belong, huh, Mon?"
With people running over to them to see what was going on, Ramona's embarrassment grew. "Fuck you, whore."
Hearing her, Spencer stepped forward threateningly and was grabbed from behind.
"This isn't a battlefield, Spencer," Coach Shaw told her, keeping grip of her shirt. "Game's over, your team won."
"Great," she said sarcastically, glaring at the girl on the floor.
"Indeed," the woman agreed happily, releasing the grip she had on her t-shirt. "Now go home and shower. You smell."
Untroubled by the girl's insult, Ashley looked around to see the blonde stare at her for several seconds before she stalked off. When she was sure she was out of earshot, Ashley turned her attention back to the girl getting up off the floor who yelled;
"You're dead tomorrow, Carlin!"
Ashley stared at her. "I dare you to even try."
Mrs. Shaw walked closer and rolled her eyes. "Shut up, both of you. Class is over, go home."
The brunette stared into hard green eyes before she turned and walked away slowly, ignoring her body screaming at her to lie down.
With a hand at the small of her back, she sighed quietly when she finally reached the empty locker room and threw her dirty hoodie onto the bench, along with the cap that was annoying her.
She walked over to her locker and turned the lock until she heard a click, and then pulled it open. Reaching inside, she brought out the clothes she'd put on that morning.
Ashley threw her top over her locker door and set the rest of her clothes on the bench behind her. Pulling her dirty t-shirt over her head proved to be more painful than she'd imagined, and she wasn't ashamed to groan quietly.
Cursing her painful body and the wet grass, Ashley snatched her top off the locker door and had barely finished pulling it down over her torso when Spencer suddenly appeared, making her jump.
"God, Spencer," she complained. "Make yourself known."
"People were watching," the blonde said.
Ashley pulled her hair out from inside her top. "What?"
"People were watching and it would have looked suspicious if I just stood there doing nothing."
The brunette made a face. "Okay?"
"So don't use it as something else to piss me off with. I did it to avoid questions."
"You're cracked," Ashley said with a hint of a smile. "I did kind of like you getting all macho on her, though."
Spencer made an annoyed sound. "You're an ass."
At the other girl's annoyance, Ashley's hint of a smile grew. "Yeah," she said, turning around. "See you in your dreams, Spencer."
Spencer slammed the door shut in her haste to get away from her.