Disclaimer: See previous chapters.

Title: "Play Crack the Sky" from the Brand New song of the same name.

Tunes: Fuel "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)", Our Lady Peace "Superman's Dead", Lydia (the indie rock band, not the singer)"December"

People: All me.

Author's Note: First SoN fic I've posted here, although I've got two chapters of a larger project on a forum somewhere, that I'll probably end up posting here, too sometime. I was feeling angsty, re-watched some of the last s2 episodes, and listening to the gloomy music listed above and this... just sorta happened. I ended up writing the kind of depressing fic that I hate to read because it's so damn bleak. Even for me. Ah, well. Read on if you dare.

Ashley watches Her.

She looks so peaceful.

Almost like She's sleeping.

Yes, Ashley could believe She was sleeping if it weren't for the tubes, and the beeping, and the angry red marks. The bandages and the gown and the needles, and the IV, and that fucking machine in the fucking corner that's the only fucking thing that keeps her breathing.

If it weren't for all that it would look like She was sleeping.


Ashley remembers the last time she watched Her sleeping. She looked different. Draped with sheets and blankets, curled into Ashley's side, skin flush and pink and… alive.

She's pale. So, so fucking pale and it scares Ashley. Scares her more than anything.

Ashley thinks about praying. Yes. Isn't that what normal people do in these kinds of situations?

Normal people don't have these kinds of situations.

But Paula prayed, and Arthur, and Glen, and Kyla, and…

Dear God. That's how you started these things, right? She isn't sure. She was never very good at this. She hopes God will be able to overlook that.

Ashley prays that she stops hurting. She prays that this fear, the kind of fear that's sits so low, and heavy, and rancid in her belly will go away. This terribly, cloying fear that seizes her, makes her useless, makes her eyes burn, and her stomach squeeze, and her legs jump, goes away. This fear that makes her lungs feel frozen, and her ribcage crack and splinter inwards, this fear that makes her heart thunder in her chest so fast that she thinks it might explode (and really if it did it wouldn't be such a bad thing no no not at all because if it exploded then there would be nothing left to break nothing left to make her feel nothing left nothing at all and that isn't so bad), this fear that makes her want to scream until her throat bursts and she's drowned by her own blood gurgling in her trachea.

And she's selfish. So fucking selfish.

Ashley is so fucking selfish because even when She is lying there, in the hospital, barely alive all Ashley can think about is herself.

She didn't deserve this. It should have been Ashley there, on that bed.

Dear God.

Ashley prays that he doesn't take Her. Ashley prays that maybe, just for one time things could work out. Ashley prays that God switches their places. She prays that the stupid, fucking, plastic hospital chair she's sitting in will just up and fucking swallow her.

That it will come alive, and envelope her. That it will crush her so completely that when it finally lets go, sinks back into it's normal, non-threatening shape all that will be left of her is a red, bloody mess the soiled remains of a prom dress that was already soaked in blood and tears and tragedy.

Ashley sits. And she waits. And the chair doesn't feel any different at all, and as far as she can tell she's still breathing and she guesses that maybe God isn't answering any prayers tonight.

Ashley hopes she's wrong. She knows that she and God don't get on so well, never really have. They had probably both lost faith in each other. But she hopes that he's still looking out for the Carlins. She hopes that he'll still answer their prayers, because really it was stupid of her to try. To think that maybe it would work out this time. She hasn't done anything to deserve any favors from God.

Ashley breathes, and looks at Her and looks at her hands.

Ashley hates her hands. Ashley hates her hands, even though She once said they were beautiful. She once told Ashley she had elegant hands. Pianists fingers. Then She blushed and looked at the ground shyly, before telling Ashley again how much She loved her hands. And She pressed gentle kisses to each fingertip, and Ashley wondered how she could ever have been so fucking lucky as to find a girl like Her.

Ashley knows better now. Knows that she never deserved Her. And now she's paying for it. They're both paying for it. And happiness isn't cheap, and this is what she gets. This is what she deserves. That it wouldn't have been nearly fair enough if Ashley was there, on that bed. No. No this was much worse. Watching Her there.

She could have stopped all this. Ashley thinks that maybe she always knew.

She hates her hands.

All they've ever done is hurt people.

Break things. Defile them. Destroy.


Ashley hates to think that she broke Her. Defiled Her. Destroyed Her.

Ashley is one, breathing instrument of hurt and pain.

She hates her hands.

She hates the pounding hunk of flesh in her chest and she hates her lungs and Ashley holds her breath because if she does this long enough there will be nothing left to hate.

After several long moments black spots begin to swim in her vision and her lungs are on fire and her fists are clenched so tightly her nails are biting into her palms and she feels them become slick with sweat and blood but that doesn't change anything and she just squeezes harder and ignores the burning for just a little while longer.

And then there's a noise outside, and it startles her, and she gasps and she's breathing again and there are tears in her eyes and she's crying. Crying into her lap with her sweaty, bloody hands tugging handfuls of her hair and scraping her nails down her face and she deserves the pain and

Dear God.

She wants it to stop.

And still no one answers her prayers, but she should be used to that. It might even comfort her, the familiarity of it, if she weren't still breathing. If Ashley was lying in that bed, so pale and looking peaceful and…

Ashley looks at her hands.

She breathes in.

Thinks about death, and life, and blood and pain and what's fair, and quiet, and pills, and people, and love and hate and liberty and justice for fucking all.

She breathes out.

Ashley looks at her hands and looks back at Her and all the tubes, and the gown, and that fucking machine in the fucking corner and thinks that if it weren't for all those things she could almost pretend that Spencer was sleeping.

End Notes: Yeah.