Title: Angel Town

Author: Tammie

Disclaimer: I sadly do not own "South of Nowhere." Those rights belong to Tom Lynch and The N.

Summary: AU SoN fic. Spencer's a candy striper (or I guess they just call them volunteers now) at her mom's hospital where she meets Ashley who's a patient.

Rating: I don't know, like PGish, I guess

A/N: Basically, I was listening to Shawn Mullins and reading "A Walk to Remeber" for the millionth time and this little plot bunny bred itself. Um, fair warning though, mature content and adult themes lie ahead. Please read and review. Haven't decided if I want to continue, so tell me whether or not I should.

A/N (2): I'm not entirely happy with about half of this, but I can't really get it any better, so meh. Let me know if it sucks or not.

How can she express that being with someone who was dying is the only time she felt alive? It makes more sense in her head. Something about opposites and convolutions and things she can't say out loud. She thinks that there's a fire in the dying that isn't there in the healthy. An acute awareness and a lust for what's left of life. A thirst for every second that only the time-conscious experience. That makes sense, right?

Spencer places four more tiles on the game board in front of her. Only twelve points. She's not sure why Ashley likes this game so much. Not the game in general, but this set; this board. Scrabble is just not that exciting. It never fails though. Everyday, Spencer will come to this room. The biggest one on the highest floor in the private wing. The hospice wing. Everyday she comes, with medicine, magazines, and chocolate covered peanuts. Everyday, Spencer comes in a hopelessly small candy striper uniform and tries to get Ashley to stop calling her a "naughty nurse."

Spencer gives her her medicine; a colorful cocktail of pills Ashley insists do no good but she takes them because Spencer asks nicely. Ashley holds out an impossibly thin arm and Spencer checks her vitals. When Spencer's satisfied with the job she's done, she pulls off the red-and-white striped apron and pulls out the peanuts. Ashley sits up and Spencer gets the old box from Ashley's closet and sets up the game. Spencer doesn't know how long they've been doing this. She remembers the day they started, though. Her mom made her volunteer and helped her make rounds that first day; passing out prescriptions and emptying bedpans. Ashley's room was last.

Ashley with the brown-red hair and the pale skin that still managed to glow. Ashley who's PlayStation was just one of many beeping machines next to her bed. Spencer remembered thinking she was "hauntingly beautiful," with her bloodshot eyes and Cheshire cat smile. Spencer turned over a tiny hand to find a barely-there pulse and they went from strangers to soulmates and three seconds flat. And Ashley could talk. She told Spencer everything, like she hadn't spoken to a person in years, or hadn't wanted to. And Spencer listened, like no one had spoken to her in years. And no one had. Not the way Ashley did.

They talk about music. How boy bands are what's wrong with America. They talk about the weather. And how Califonia is too sunny like Ohio is too sunny. They talk about their parents. And how divorces always suck. They talk about hospitals. And how they all manage to smell like ammonia and the same airplane-ish food. But they don't talk about why Ashley's here. Ashley doesn't bring it up and Spencer doesn't ask her. They just play Scrabble and watch Jerry Springer with the sound off because it's funnier and less annoying that way.

They can pretend they're not in a hospital. That they're just in Ashley's bedroom, and this isn't too much of a stretch because Ashley's room is suprisingly cozy and more lavish and comfortable than her room at home. Or so Ashley says, and Spencer believes her because she's never seen Ashley's house. Here, Ashley's room is just Ashley's room. They're just two sixteen year olds haging out. They can pretend there are no visiting hours. They can pretend the nurses never came as soon as they've left. It's just the two of them. Like it should be.

Spencer watches Ashley as she eats and eyes the game board. She eats each peanut one by one, sucking the chocolate off before chewing while Spencer tries not to notice. There's an iPod between them, an earpiece for each. Straylight Run streams through as Ashley clicks five more lettered pieces into place. She smiles in spite of herself and dances in her seat, hair and jewlery bounce as she singsongs, "Triple wordscore: Herpes!" Spencer laughs with her and looks at the eyes brown as the chocolate sticking to Ashley's fingers and wonders how in the world she ever fell in love with a girl like Ashley Davies.