Disclaimer: I don't own South of Nowhere or any of its characters. Thanks for not suing.

Author's Note: This is the sequel to Open for Destruction, the after from Ashley's point of view.


Closed to Repairs

The body in her arms moved slowly causing Ashley to open her eyes, feeling as if she was being awakened from a dream. A dream where she hadn't made the biggest mistake of her life. A dream where pain wasn't needed as the reminder that she was in fact alive. Looking down she stared at Spencer's face, dry now that her tears had stopped flowing. The face was empty of all emotion, even the anger seemed to have disappeared. As Spencer left her arms a coldness enveloped Ashley's body, a cold she was afraid would never leave again. Curling herself up into a ball she watched.

Spencer moved as if every muscle in her body hurt as she sat up and began to reach for her clothes. Ashley knew deep down that it was only one muscle that caused Spencer such pain. It was her heart. And Ashley had been the one to break it. The tear stains on her face had barely enough time to dry before new ones began to create new paths. Ashley couldn't even hate herself. She would have had to care enough about herself at that moment to feel anything. As it was, she only cared about Spencer. It had always been only Spencer.

The milky skin she had just caressed was again covered by clothing. The full lips she had just kissed turned away from her, covered by a shadow Ashley couldn't really locate. Looking around the room she recognized it as the one they had always made love in, but now it seemed unfamiliar, it seemed to be connected to where she was by a long hallway. Somewhere in the dark recesses of her mind, Ashley realized no matter how far she ran she would never be able to reach it again.

Turning back, Ashley returned to watching Spencer's movement through her tears, looking for any indication that what had just happened wasn't a goodbye. That there had been hope. She knew Spencer felt the same connection every time the two of them touched. There were no straws to grasp, but Ashley valiantly tried. Even when falling down the smoothest cliff, it was human nature to still search wildly for any handhold. That's what Ashley was doing. She knew she couldn't take it if Spencer left. She had never known life before and now it was being ripped from her.

Her life could suddenly be likened to a band-aid. In a moment of foolishness, in a moment of complete disregard for anything, Ashley had ripped the band-aid off. But she hadn't realized how deep that bandage had taken hold. She hadn't realized that it had become like a second skin. It had become as familiar as her own life, they had become one, and by ripping it off it took a part of her with it stuck to the edges. Ashley couldn't live if she wasn't whole.

She was afraid. Ashley was terrified. Her body shook, her eyes involuntarily closing again. There was nothing more without Spencer. Oh god, what had she done?

The bed shifted as Spencer's weight was lifted from it. Ashley's eyes snapped open looking for Spencer in the darkness. The blonde's back was to her as she stood, shoulders slumped in defeat.

"Please…" Ashley didn't even recognize the fact that she herself had spoken. The voice was foreign, deep, jagged, the voice of a person begging for life before the blade fell. Begging for one last reprieve.

"Please…"

Spencer's body jerked each time the word was spoken. But she couldn't look at Ashley again. Her head would start to tilt, in usual Spencer fashion but stop just before it reached the bed. The fight had gone out of her, she looked as broken as Ashley felt. She appeared small and fragile. Ashley was afraid to let her leave the room, afraid that the world would see this shell that Ashley had created and not the beauty she really was. Oh god, what had she done?

The moments slowly ticked by and Ashley counted each second over the thundering of her heart. The crying became less subtle as it began to fill up the room, an embarrassing mixture of hiccups, sniffs, and choked sobs. But the more Ashley fought it, the harder it came. Pain, unstoppable loneliness. The weight of it all crushing Ashley as she struggled to catch her breath.

It was some time before she noticed that Spencer hadn't moved since Ashley had broken the silence. She seemed to be struggling with herself, her breathing shallow but her eyes still dry. Ashley couldn't see everything clearly, but that was a fact she was sure of.

Finally Spencer's head turned again. The shadow had grown and it covered over half of Spencer's face. But her lips glistened in the lamp light. The words were quiet and Ashley more read them then she heard them, but in the end it didn't matter.

"I. Can't."

Ashley's hand flew to her mouth to keep in her anguish. She bit down on her own flesh, her teeth digging in and leaving marks the hoped would remain forever. Wouldn't it be poetic justice if this moment ended up leaving no physical mark. No reminder of the anguish shared between to people who had loved deeper than was supposed to be possible. It would be as if it had never happened. As if none of it had ever really happened. Ashley bit down harder.

Taking a step away from the bed, Spencer almost seemed to falter. But after taking a moment she seemed satisfied that she wouldn't break, and each step looked easier from then on. Standing at the door she still hadn't looked back. She lifted a shaking hand and grasped the doorknob. All of this Ashley watched from her position on the bed, unmoving, unchanging, curled up and fighting against the glaring reality. Desperately seeking a break from the tears but not knowing how. A part of her no longer caring how.

The door opened. Her future stepped out of it.

Turning so her body once facing Ashley again, Spencer stopped before she closed the door all the way. Her forehead rested against the wood. Her eyes searched the floor before her as her mind tried to find one last thing to say.

Ashley took the moment instead, desperation once again opening her mouth before her brain caught up.

"Love can kill the pain."

For a moment she didn't think Spencer had heard her. The silence began to eat away at the sanity Ashley felt she still possessed. But then her voice, Spencer's voice, came back to her.

"Love is the pain. Goodbye Ashley."

With those words Spencer's head lifted and their eyes met. It was a supernova. The end to a star that had become the center for both of them. The sparks flew, the brightness of which was overwhelming. Moments past flashed between them, memories, tastes, touches, whispered words. And just as suddenly as it occurred it was over again. The star had burned out.

The latch caught as the door closed.

The darkness swept back through.