Don't worry, my other two fanfics will be updated soon, but this idea came to my head, and I absolutely had to do it before I forgot.
I hope you like it. I was able to do a lot with this character, because she was kind of vague in the books. This is how I imagine her to be like, and I've always kind of seen her as a Becca-Follower.
I had an awesome time writing this, so I hope you have an awesome time reading it!
It was always the four of them.
Ever since fourth grade. Becca Chadwick, Megan Wong, Jen Webster and Ashley Sanborn. The Fab Four.
Darcy Hawthorne had come up with that name, and Ashley supposed that it had stuck.
Everyone liked Darcy. He was smart and popular and nice and funny. Plus, he was an athlete, and really good-looking.
It was his sister the Fab Four weren't too keen on.
Emma Hawthorne. As well as her best friend, Jess Delaney.
Seriously, come on! Ashley had never seen a pair of dorkier nerds in her entire life! They were unbelievably lame.
Sometimes, though, she felt bad for them. When Becca's harsh comments brought tears to their eyes or made their expressions humiliated and hurt.
She knew that Megan felt bad sometimes, too. Weren't she and Emma friends once?
But Megan never said anything.
So Ashley never spoke up, because overall, Goat Girl and Emma Hawthorne were lame.
And Becca said they were losers.
She had always followed Becca blindly.
Some stupid book club.
Isn't that what Megan had said?
A stupid club to read stupid books with stupid people.
"Who?" Ashley questioned at lunch, the day after the 'stupid club' had had their first meeting.
Megan made a face, "Ugh. Cassidy Sloane, Emma Hawthorne and Goat Girl."
"No way!" Jen said.
"Way." Megan shuddered.
"What book are you guys reading?" Ashley asked.
Megan pulled another face, wrinkling her nose, "Some dumb thing called Little Women."
Becca snorted. Ashley and Jen promptly followed suit.
Ashley knew Little Women. Her mother loved that book.
"So what do you do in that club, with such a big group of losers?" Ashley asked Megan.
Megan shrugged, "We have to read chapters at home with our moms- can you believe it?- then gather at one of our houses once a month to discuss it." she punctuated this remark with a roll of her eyes.
The other three rolled their eyes, too.
"That's stupid." Becca said with finality.
"Tell me about it." Megan agreed, "My mom sucks. I can't believe she signed me up for this thing."
Ashley bit her lip. It was dumb, and it was stupid. But she wouldn't really mind all that much if her mom wanted to read a book with her in a club. It would just be better if that club had friends, not creeps like Goat Girl and Cassidy Sloane.
Anyway, Becca said it was a terrible idea.
Who was she to disagree with Becca Chadwick?
Ashley knew they shouldn't have done it. In her heart of hearts, she knew.
Megan and Becca. The goat stunt. The Beauty and The Beast play.
It was funny, actually. Ashley had certainly thought so. She and Jen weren't part of the prank, but Becca and Megan had told them about it.
Then Ashley wondered how she would feel if it was her big opening night and she had worked hard and practiced for months, and then-poof!-she was humiliated in front of the entire school, just like that.
It would have been awful.
But it had nothing to do with her, so she didn't say anything.
Becca told her that it would be funny.
Ashley trusted her.
Later, when Ashley questioned her and Megan, Becca said that everyone was overreacting.
Ashley agreed with her, but she wasn't sure exactly what she was agreeing to.
There was something different between the Fab Four after the Goat Stunt. Something had changed.
Megan was friends with them. And with the weirdos in her little club.
Becca was furious, of course.
And on Patriot's Day Morning, Ashley stood with Jen and Becca, while Cassidy Sloane, Jess Delaney and Emma Hawthorne stood on the other side.
Emma, Jess and Cassidy, who had become the closest of friends in a few months.
Megan stood in the middle, unsure of what to do, of where to go.
Then she smiled at her book club friends and crossed over to Becca's side.
Ashley was relieved.
But she never saw it coming.
Megan plopped her pancakes on Becca's head, and the next thing Ashley knew, food was flying everywhere.
As she and Jen followed Becca dutifully out of the area, she realized that they had left Megan behind.
Or more like Megan had freed herself from the group, and let herself fall behind.
She was glad she was still popular and still friends with Jen and Becca, but she would miss Megan.
And she was envious, too.
She wished that she had the courage to stand up to Becca like that.
The next time she had an actual conversation with Megan was at their first middle school dance.
She was really impressed with their dresses. Even though Cassidy Sloane said they were couture, Ashley was sure that Megan had designed them herself.
So Becca's comment surprised her. She was shocked when Becca looked down on the stylish creations.
"Wow, Megan, it's awesome!" Ashley gushed, trying to make up for Becca's cruelty.
She had a tiny moment of elation, because she had kind of gone against what Becca thought.
It was short-lived, though.
Soon, she felt pathetic that that was the extent of her ability to stand up to her friend.
It didn't matter, anyway.
She always agreed with Becca. They really were good friends. Why break the cycle now?
"Buzz buzz buzz" Cassidy murmured to Emma, Megan and Jess.
Ashley pondered for a while what they meant.
Until one day, she heard Emma and Cassidy talking about it.
"Becca Chadwick, Queen Bee. Buzz buzz buzz." Cassidy intoned
Ashley heard Emma chuckle. Ashley would have found it funny, too, because of the truth behind it.
But Becca was Ashley's friend, and Ashley was fiercely protective of anyone whom she cared about.
Before she could march over and give them a piece of her mind, Emma spoke:
"And Ashley and Jen, her forever-serving robots!"
Cassidy joined in Emma's laughter.
Ashley stood, frozen. Because they were right and she knew it... she agreed...
But what did thy mean, 'Becca's robots'?
Sure, she and Jen followed Becca and agreed with her (whether they actually meant it or not) and did whatever she asked them to do.
But, still. Ashley was her own person, too.
It happened after sixth grade, after summer, when school started up again.
Ashley and Jen had never felt so shocked.
Becca joined the book club?
It's a terrible idea.
Becca's voice rang in Ashley's head.
Terrible idea or not, Becca was in the club, and suddenly Ashley felt left out.
She had always followed Becca.
But neither Becca nor Megan invited her and Jen to join the club, too, whether they would have accepted or not.
Megan and Becca were friends again.
But Megan and the book club were friends, too.
Becca and the book club, on the other hand, were not friends.
Ashley watched as Megan chatted animatedly with them during lunch.
And Ashley watched as Megan started joining her and Becca and Jen for lunch more often.
Ashley really did consider Megan a good friend, just like Jen and Becca were.
It was a bit hard for Ashley to watch Megan round the Fab Three table and go sit at the Hybrid Table.
But she knew that it was even harder for Emma, Jess and Cassidy to watch Megan round the Hybrid table and sit with the Fab Three.
Even though the book club didn't know it, Ashley understood them better than they thought anyone did.
Becca said that those girls were cliche and annoying.
Ashley nodded along and chirped her approval of Becca's words.
Even though she knew she was lying to herself.
Megan and Becca told her about the Hello Boston! prank, and who the teacup was originally supposed to be for.
Ashley was disgusted. It was such an incredibly mean prank. She was glad that Becca hadn't humiliated herself like that.
She understood why the book club girls hated Becca, but the prank was WAY out of line.
Because no matter how much she wanted to stop being Becca's shadow, Becca was one of Ashley's best friends.
Nothing could change that.
OK, the Hello Boston! thing was mean, but what Becca did was even meaner.
She came and told Ashley and Jen before she did it.
"And she handcuffed herself to a tree to save the stupid farm." Becca finished, "I mean, who does that? Which mom?"
"Unbelievable." was Ashley's reply.
"Isn't it?" Becca flipped open her phone to reveal a blurry picture, "Check it out."
"No way." Jen shook her head, "It's so lame."
"Mmmhmmm." Becca gave her friends the look. The I-have-a-plan-and-it's-mean-look. Ashley braced herself.
"It's going to make the Walden Woodsman front page. With a detailed article." Becca smirked.
"Megan would never forgive you." Ashley said.
"Who would know it was me? Emma and Cassidy were there at the farm, too. And they are the reporter and the photographer." Becca said with a relish, "Megan would never talk to them again. It would be final."
"You wouldn't!" Ashley exclaimed.
Becca shrugged and chatted on about other things.
Ashley didn't believe it would happen. Becca could just be joking.
Because Megan wouldn't talk to the book club ever again. And they would be miserable.
Becca would make them miserable.
But it was Megan- nice Megan, talented Megan, funny Megan- who would be humiliated.
Becca would never do that.
Except she did.
Ashley saw the front page, and she scolded herself inwardly for the embarrassment Megan had gone through.
She could have stopped Becca, but it was too late. So it was her fault.
Then Ashley pushed that thought away.
Because what would she have said?
Ashley Sanborn couldn't stand up to Becca Chadwick.
She never saw the boat coming.
It was only when she was plunged into the ice-cold water did she register that Emma Hawthorne, Jess Delaney and Cassidy Sloane had pushed her in.
Ashley was furious, but not as angry as Becca.
Becca shouted out and upturned boats. Every hurtful insult that Ashley had ever heard spewed out of her mouth just then.
She watched it unfold.
Splashing water. Screamed insults. Untold truths.
And in the end, it was Becca who lost.
Then, two hours later, they were all friends, every single one of them. Or, kind of friends, at least.
Ashley saw Megan's happy, relieved smile.
Megan's two lives had finally collided.
Ashley turned to say as much to Becca, but she was too busy saying something to Cassidy Sloane.
That something was snarky and rude, but Cassidy shot it down like a bullet, with her own insult that made Becca shut up.
The insult didn't hurt Becca. Just made her rethink her words, her actions.
Ashley shut her eyes and wished with all her heart that she had that effect on people, too.
Ashley was confident.
But she could never stand up to Becca Chadwick.
A fashion show.
An awesome idea that could totally save Half Moon Farm. Ashley wasn't even being sarcastic. With Megan's skills and the rest of their connections and hard work, they couldn't fail.
She was proud of Becca for dreaming up that one.
Becca and Cassidy clashed often, arguing about the tiniest things that nobody had even thought of until that moment.
Should the chairs be tall or short?
Should the auctioneer hammer be wood or cloth?
Should the emcee stand at the podium or out on the stage?
Should the emcee's mic be the hard kind or the foamy kind?
The entire time, Ashley just wanted to shout out: Who the heck cares?! Focus on the important stuff!
But then when Cassidy and Becca worked together. That was something else.
"She's right." Cassidy said with finality, "Shoot for the top. One hundred dollars per seat. That's it."
Becca nodded triumphantly, slapping her a high-five.
The decision to charge so much money for a seat dimmed in the shock of Cassidy and Becca working together.
Ashley wondered why agreeing with Becca was such a big deal.
After all, she did it all the time.
Half Moon Farm was saved!
Ashley couldn't be more thrilled for Jess, and her family too.
All the hard work had payed off.
Becca squealed and hugged her as Stanley Kinkaid announced the final result.
"I can't believe it! This is amazing!" Becca shrieked.
Ashley hugged her back, "I know! I know!"
She truly did agree with Becca that time.
She didn't expect Jen to move.
Jen never gave her an early signal. Suddenly, one day, Jen was gone.
Becca and Megan were closer, and Ashley was left out again.
Jen had always given her company.
They both loved Becca. Honestly did. But they didn't always agree with her.
Ashley used to have a partner, someone who knew how she felt.
After all, Jen never used to stand up to Becca either.
They were closer.
Emma, Jess, Cassidy, Megan and Becca.
Something had changed again.
Becca and Cassidy tried to be nicer, Megan tried to defend them more often, Emma stood up for herself and for her friends.
Jess Delaney was at Colonial Academy.
Ashley was happy for her, because Jess was basically a genius, and Colonial sounded awesome for an all-girls school.
It was probably hard on Emma, though. Ashley wondered whether this would double the snarky remarks from Becca.
Instead, they came less and less.
Ashley was relieved.
In her heart, she wasn't a mean person.
Now, maybe, she could be herself.
Megan couldn't come to her birthday party because of some program with her mother, but Becca came, along with many others.
Ashley thought about inviting Cassidy and Emma, too.
They certainly got along better now, even though they weren't her super-close friends.
But then a selfish part of Ashley kicked in, and she was excited that for that one night, Becca would be her best friend.
There would be no one else to steal that title from her.
Then, Ashley opened her eyes to reality.
She had had years with the title of Becca's best friend.
So why was it that she still couldn't speak against her?
She had a blast in Washington D.C.
It was fun sharing a room with Megan and Becca, and Cassidy and Emma turned out to be really nice, too.
She didn't feel left out at all. She knew what was going on.
And then one night, she was trying to sleep.
"Jess says 'Pip with Stewart tonight, and then back to Colonial tomorrow.'" Megan whispered.
Becca heaved a sigh of relief.
Ashley was confused. Pip? Who was Pip?
"Savannah's got it covered." Megan said.
Savannah? The mean girl Jess roomed with at her boarding school? What did Savannah know that Ashley didn't?
"Emma's gonna freak." Becca mumbled sleepily.
"I know." Megan agreed, "I can't wait for her birthday. I bet Cassidy's having a hard time keeping this from her."
"I know. Zach, too." Becca said, leaning against her pillow, "Night, Megs.."
Ashley blinked rapidly, willing the tears away.
There was something or someone called Pip. Emma didn't know because they were planning to give this Pip thing to her as a surprise for her birthday.
'They' as in Becca, Megan, Cassidy, Stewart, Zach Norton, Savannah Sinclair and Jess. Ashley was left out. Again.
Ashley thought about asking Becca the next morning.
She never did.
Stewart Chadwick and Emma Hawthorne were kind of cute together.
As for the fact that Zach kissed Cassidy...well...it was pretty unexpected...
But Megan said that the incident was kind of forgotten, seeing as Chloe came home for the first time just minutes later.
And Cassidy's little sister, Chloe?
"She's coming with us." Megan told Ashley excitedly.
"Who? Chloe? Where?"
"Wyoming, remember? With the book club." Megan said impatiently.
Of course she remembered.
Maybe if she had asked to join the book club, she would be going, too.
But it was a bit too late for that.
By the beginning of ninth grade, Ashley was jealous.
Becca and Megan spent a LOT of time with her, sure. And the other three book club girls were nice to her.
But they had a weird pentagon, Emma, Jess, Cassidy, Megan and Becca. It grew stronger when the Hawthornes made their one-year move to England.
It was incredibly hard to slide into it.
It was a pentagon of strong, unbreakable friendship.
Ashley used to think that the Fab Four formed a square of friendship.
And they were- are- friends. Really close friends.
But watching the book club, Ashley suddenly knew what true friendship was.
She was sure that they disagreed with one another sometimes.
Becca was super glad that Cassidy had her ice dancing gig with super-handsome super-stuck up Tristan Berkeley.
"Maybe I have a chance with Zach." Becca commented hopefully, "Cassidy has all the luck. First Zach kisses her, now she's glued to Tristan."
"You forgot Megan." Ashley reminded her, "And Simon."
Becca grinned, "And so now, Zach is technically all mine."
Ashley nodded automatically.
Old habits die hard.
Pies & Prejudice.
The main reason for the formation was unknown to Ashley, but it was a great business.
Becca said something about cheering up Emma and buying her a plane ticket to Concord.
Would they do that for Ashley?
Then she shook the thought away. That wasn't the point.
Another surprise for Emma that I have no idea about, Ashley thought dully
Wasn't it always that way?
"We're going to England!" Becca squealed.
Megan nodded, looking super-excited.
Nobody could blame them. Ashley would have been excited, too, if she was going to England. Which she wasn't.
"With who?" Ashley had asked Becca before.
"Megs, Cassidy, Jess, and all their families. Stewart and Mom. You know."
Ashley nodded, "Are you excited?"
"Duh. England sounds awesome. Plus, I can't wait to see Emma again."
Ashley didn't say anything. The pentagon had grown, if possible, even stronger.
But she smiled, "I'm excited for you, too."
She was. She really was.
At least that's what she told herself and Becca.
It was a funny game.
One of them said something, and the other four would jump in almost immediately to punctuate it.
"I'm scared for the concert, though." Jess said earnestly.
"Really? You shouldn't be. You're an awesome singer." Cassidy said firmly.
"Yup. Excellent." Becca agreed, grinning.
"Fabulous." Megan added.
"Amazing." Emma continued.
"Fantastic." Cassidy said.
"Aw, thanks." Jess laughed.
She didn't ask anything though. It wasn't the first time she was being left out.
She was used to it.
She contemplated asking Becca about the game, but she was a bit scared of being accused of trying to break their pentagon.
She knew it didn't make sense.
But still. Becca was always a secretive person.
Maybe, through her time with the book club girls, that had changed.
Ashley never dared question Becca. She supposed that's why Becca never broke out of the whole 'privacy' thing until she became friends with the book club.
"We're going with the Wongs after all!" Becca cried the minute Ashley opened the door, "Calypso Star, here we come!"
"That's awesome!" Ashley squealed.
She was happy for them, she wasn't pretending, she wasn't, she wasn't, she wasn't.
Maybe she was, a little.
But no matter how much she loved Becca, Ashley was used to pretending.
Around her, at least.
"Have you told Megan that he lost his job?" Ashley asked Becca softly.
Becca gave her a surprised look, "Of course. She was the first one to know. Along with the rest of the book club, I guess. They've been great."
Ashley's heart clenched. Of course.
"And his name is Mr. Rochester!" Becca finished dramatically, "Can you believe it?"
"Theodore Rochester." Becca said again, gauging Ashley's reaction.
"That's great, but..."
"Rochester, get it?" Becca pressed.
Ashley didn't reply. The two stared at each other for a moment. Becca was confused, Ashley could tell.
"Rochester...Mr. Rochester..." Becca said, as if it was obvious and Ashley was dumb.
"It's great that you have a boyfriend, Bec, but who cares about his surname?" Ashley questioned.
Becca eyed her in disbelief, then clapped her hand on her forehead.
"Sorry." she said sheepishly, "I expected your reaction to be like their's."
Ashley knew she meant her book club friends. The rest of the fivesome who created the unbreakable pentagon.
"And it wasn't, because...?" Ashley said.
"Ever heard of Jane Eyre?"
Puzzled, Ashley shook her head.
"No biggie." Becca shrugged, "It's a book club thing."
Ashley sighed and fell onto her bed.
She didn't ponder anymore. She was used to it.
She was on the outside looking in.
And she shouldn't feel bad, because nobody could slide into their pentagon, either.
"Cassidy chose Tristan." Megan announced, "Becca would have liked it if it were a bit sooner, but she's happy with Theo."
"Um, what?" Ashley asked.
"Cassidy chose Tristan. Over Zach."
"When was there a competition. And, hey, Cassidy and Tristan are still in touch?"
Megan stared at her. Ashley stared back.
Even if Megan couldn't tell, Ashley knew that something had broken between them, just as it had with her and Becca.
"I didn't know Cassidy was into boys." Ashley muttered.
"She wasn't. She still says she isn't, but you can tell, y'know? The way she lights up when Tristan is mentioned." Megan smiled, "It's cute. Like Jess and Darcy. Or Stewart and Emma. Or Becca and Theo."
"Or you and Simon."
"But still... I didn't know Zach still liked her."
Megan eyed her.
This time she didn't say anything.
It was just the fact that the book club would understand Megan better than Ashley ever would.
Yup. Something had definitely broken.
Gigi's wedding was epic. Beautiful.
Like some sort of fantasy.
Ashley was glad she was invited.
For a moment, the invitation had made her feel special.
Then she saw Kevin Mullins in the audience.
Of course it wasn't special.
Everyone had been invited.
Ashley was able to console herself with the knowledge that she wasn't the only one who couldn't break The Pentagon, even though she wasn't sure whether anyone else had even bothered to try.
It was impossible. It couldn't be bent, let alone broken.
So Ashley didn't feel any rejection at all.
She calmly watched Megan start down the aisle.
She saw Cassidy flash her a V sign.
What could that mean?
But Megan understood, and squelched a laugh as Becca, Jess and Emma flashed the V sign, too.
Ashley didn't feel anything but joy until someone else flashed the symbol.
Savannah, who had gotten Jess out of probation, Savannah who became friends with the club.
Savannah was closer to them than Ashley was, that much was clear.
She wasn't even pretending, she actually knew what the V symbol meant.
Savannah and her parents were seated near the rest of them, and she was included in their conversations and their secrets.
The pentagon had not been broken. Or bent. Or even dented.
It was on its way to becoming a hexagon.
And that was when rejection hit Ashley.
"Isn't this the greatest reception ever? Especially for Gigi." Becca asked Ashley, flushed with happiness.
"I'll say." Ashley agreed.
"Look. Everyone's so happy."
Ashley looked around. It was true. Jess and Darcy, hand in hand.
Stewart and Emma, also hand in hand. She saw them share a quick kiss.
Cassidy and Tristan, her head on his shoulder, his arm around her waist.
Megan and Simon, laughing and chatting together.
Savannah and Rupert Loomis, talking about law.
"It's perfect." Ashley said sincerely.
Becca grinned, "I know, right?"
Kevin Mullins waved at Sophie Fairfax fro where he was standing.
Becca shuddered, "Ugh. He's so creepy."
Ashley didn't think so. He was weird, but kind of sweet.
To her horror, though, she nodded in agreement, "You're right, Bec."
Gigi and her new husband were dancing alone. Everyone else stood back and watched.
Becca was relieved that Third and Annabelle had hit it off so well.
She said he was a moose, even though he was nice.
Ashley didn't agree. Nobody seemed to remember that Ashley and Third had dated, back in 8th grade.
She was never part of the spotlight.
But when Becca said it, she fell back into the old pattern. She nodded, "I know, Becca. You're right."
Words couldn't describe how trapped she felt, how much she tried to struggle against the force that Becca didn't even know she was using.
And all Ashley's hard work over 5 years washed away.
Over five years, from sixth grade, everything had changed.
The Fab Four and the book club had merged, kind of. Leaving out Ashley.
Then, it became the strongest, truest friendship Ashley had ever seen, and it made her increasingly envious every time Becca or Megan said, "I'm doing something exciting, I'm going somewhere cool, blah, blah, blah... with the book club."
They were all so different, yet they still got along. It was like together they could do anything.
Fashion shows, Pies & Prejudice, joining together to tide the Chadwicks over their tough time...
Ashley was sure no one could slide into the gang. But Savannah Sinclair was well on her way to doing so.
So the pentagon had changed.
It hadn't remained fixed, but it didn't break. It grew more powerful.
So what was one thing, at least one thing remained unchanged over 5 years?
Ashley looked around desperately, as if the answer was hidden in the lilting melodies of the music.
"And Kevin Mullins is a dork..." Becca shook her head half-fondly at the tall figure, "A complete and utter weirdo."
Again, Ashley disagreed.
But she didn't vocalize it.
"Tell me about it, Bec." the words came out easily, but inside there was turmoil and struggle, because she truly loved Becca with all her heart. Becca had no idea about the effect she had on Ashley, "You're right."
And as the music played on and the people continued to laugh and chat and dance, Ashley blinked away the tears.
Because she had found her answer.
She knew the one thing that hadn't changed over five years.