Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with, and own no part of, SoN or its characters.


Breakdown

They hadn't really been apart for that long. It was more that losing Ashley had left a hole in Spencer that couldn't be ignored. So every minute since the breakup was felt by Spencer. It made the short months seem like an eternity. Each sunrise and sunset was a simple reminder of another day without her.

They hadn't seen each other since that day. Since Ashley had graduated there was no chance of bumping into each other. They hadn't even spoken since then. There were many failed attempts by Spencer to pick up the phone, to take back all the horrible things she had said, to forgive for the horrible things Ashley had said, to beg to get back together. But there was a small piece of pride in her, something she had gotten from her mother, that always made her hang up the phone. The sound of a dial tone made Spencer hate herself. It made that hole grow. Now she wasn't even sure how to get in touch with the girl. She was off at college, with a new number, a new life.

She was at a party. One of the random ones that she began to show up at after the breakup. The parties where she would go and hide, knowing that Ashley wouldn't show her face. The parties had all begun to blend into one another, the faces all became one. None of them mattered. She never brought anyone, she never left with anyone, and she rarely even spoke to anyone in between. She was there simply because Ashley wouldn't be. Simply because most of the time it was too loud for her to drown in her own thoughts.

She should have realized eventually her luck would run out. The law of averages or something, they did live in the same town after all. Or perhaps Murphy's Law was what made it happen. But whatever the reason, Spencer was shocked when she turned from a random punch bowl at a random party to fall into those brown eyes that haunted her dreams.

She was standing so close that Spencer could feel the heat coming from her body. She was afraid that even the smallest movement could result in brushing against her, and then she would never want to stop again. She would remember the feelings she was dying to forget. She smelled the same as that last day they had shared together.

Her hair was pulled back except for a few stray curls that framed her face. She was dressed in jeans that rode low and a black tank top that rode high. She was perfect and for a few seconds Spencer traveled back in time, back before they both walked away, back to when this vision before her would sweep her off her feet in a greeting. Lips on lips.

"Hey," the brunette said.

Spencer was still mesmerized by those lips as she allowed herself to slip further down into her memories. There were flashes of flesh. Laughter. Kisses. Moans. Heaven. There were whispered words of promise, dances just for each other, clothing that never seemed to stay on for long. But what Spencer remembered most was love. She remembered feeling safe in her arms, missing her even when they were apart for a few hours, living just to see this girls smile. Eventually the memories slipped away into that hole that they had left and Spencer returned to present. She bit her lip and nodded in greeting. Praying that would be enough. Praying Ashley would just let her wallow in the misery they had created.

"How have you been?" Ashley asked instead.

The words rolled over Spencer and the voice that once comforted her with its deep tones now slammed into her already broken heart. In her mind Spencer had had this conversation many times. Sometimes she cursed, sometimes she cried, but it always ended with the same thing, "I'm still in love with you." But she couldn't do it with Ashley actually in front of her. Something else took over and Spencer felt foreign words leave her mouth.

"Just fine." It was a lie of course. And there had been a time when Ashley would have seen right through Spencer even if she had been tap dancing and singing those words.

Instead the brown eyes finally looked away. She just sighed sounding almost sad. But Spencer could no longer be sure anymore either. "That's good," she responded, slowly turning away and effectively taking the rest of Spencer's heart with her.

Everything seemed to slow down and Spencer's vision became focused, her mind coming to a jolting reality. This was it. This moment would determine whether or not Spencer would be a shell of a person for the rest of her life, living her life mechanically, existing because now that was the only thing she could do, allowing that hole that Ashley had left to swallow her up whole. She heard the echo of her words, lying to this person who had never left her mind, the girl who she still cried over every night. Her words stabbed at her, causing her to act.

She reached out her hand to touch the departing shoulder, her fingers longing to once again stroke the soft skin that should by all rights have been hers forever. But suddenly she stopped, her hand falling limply from the air only centimeters from its goal. It was already too late. Ashley walked away with Spencer's heart, her soul, her very life, leaving Spencer to choke on her own pride. Spencer fought off tears as the noises of the party all blended together into the taunting echo of a dial tone in her head.

Her stomach twisted as the brunette was finally swept away by the rest of the partiers. She really was gone. She swayed, almost falling into the table and clutching at her stomach. Excusing herself through the people standing around the drinks, she made her way to the bathroom. She barely had time to lock the door before falling to her knees and retching into the toilet. The emotional pain had become so intense it had become physical. She felt hot and cold at the same time. She felt broken as she allowed herself to slip into the loneliness that haunted her. It was a comfortable hell she had begun to welcome. She curled up into a ball on the floor, beginning to sob. She felt herself float away into her memories again.

This time she remembered the first time they had made love. She remembered how sweet and gentle Ashley had been. They had taught each other. Spencer had never been with another girl. Ashley had never been with someone who had loved her. She had never been with someone she had loved either. It was a new experience for them both. And afterwards, they had cried. They had cried because it had been so beautiful and fulfilling. Cried because it really had been perfect, even though perfect wasn't supposed to exist. They had cried and laughed and fell asleep wrapped up only in the feeling of each other. She remember the last words Ashley had spoken that night as she had brushed a sweaty strand of hair off Spencer's face, "I will always love you. No matter what happens, no matter what I say, you are the best part of me. I will always be yours."

Spencer jumped up from the floor so fast she nailed her head against the sink. She barely even registered the pain, nothing compared to the one in her heart. She fumbled with the bathroom lock, her mind already looking to find Ashley. Finally breaking free she ran back out amidst the laughing teens, but only focused on the one who really mattered. She checked in the area where she had watched her disappear but there was nothing.

Someone tried to stop her, asking if she was alright and Spencer vaguely realized she was still crying, the tears now dripping off her chin. She shook whoever it was off. She felt the darkness, the loneliness, that hole, creeping up behind her. She had to find Ashley.

She finally spotted her walking out the front door, head down. Spencer cried out her name, but it was simply drowned out by the loud noises Spencer had come here specifically for. She made a desperate beeline for the door but the crowds of people had somehow closed in on her. Someone nailed her hard enough to send her sprawling onto a couch. She began to curse, words she would have been surprised she knew at a less emotional time. People began to move, more or less because now she was sure she was coming off as deranged. But it really didn't matter.

She finally reached the door, yanking it open and screaming, "ASHLEY" only to watch her car drive away. Spencer actually took a few desperate steps forward to run after the car before her legs finally gave out on her. She fell to her knees for the second time that night. Her head slipped into her hands as she once again whispered a tearful goodbye to the only person she would ever love.