Disclaimer: See previous chapters.

Title: "The Tension and the Terror" - Straylight Run song.

People: My betas, all reviewers, and isawsparks who literally just cleaned fuckin' house as far as nominations go on the spashley DOT com boards. Yay sparky!

Author's Note: Okay. I was bad, and didn't update last weekend like I should have. So, now here's two.


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CHAPTER 7: The Tension and the Terror
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"Thanks, Clay."

Glen had flaked out on her last minute. Something about a forgetting he had a date with Madison. It wasn't so bad, though, because Spencer was almost certain that he would have spent the entire car ride bitching about Ashley.

"No problem, Spence," She didn't like choosing favorites, but if she did she thought she'd probably pick Clay. "What time do you need to be picked up?"

She sucked on her lip, thinking "Y'know… I think Ash wouldn't mind giving me a ride back."

"You sure?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, but, hey, if plans change call me."

"Sure. Thanks again, Clay!"

"Welcome."

And he was pulling out and down the street and she was left standing awkwardly in front of a dumpy single story house in a run down neighborhood. The yard was small - alternating patches of dirt and a dark green weed/grass combination. A shoulder-high chainlink fence wound its way around the perimeter of the yard, the gate had no discernable lock. The stucco on the exterior of the house was a strange, faded mint-green like color, some of it was chipped off in places. On either side of Ashley's house were similar homes, in slightly worse condition. Ashley's driveway was empty except for the familiar, hulking presence of Urkel.

Spencer walked up the driveway, stepping over an oil stain and entered the yard after a brief, noisy struggle with the fence. After swinging aside the sagging screen door she rapped her fist against the door twice, three times. There was commotion, a brief crash and the rattling of locks before the door opened and the once dull sound of music that seeped through the walls became much louder.

"Beat on the brat
Beat on the brat…"

Ashley had opened the door; loose white tank that hung off her in all the right places (and made Spencer blush and think of all the wrong things), acid washed jeans with random stitching, patches, and grass stains. Her hair was askew, a bright red smear across her cheekbone. She had shoved one arm out the door, above Spencer's head (and Spencer had nearly jumped off the stoop for fear of being smacked in the head by a flailing limb) - clutched tightly in her hand was some sort of remote.

"Ashley!"

Kyla was directly behind Ashley. Pressed up against her and struggling valiantly to wrench the remote from Ashley's deathgrip. It might have worked if Ashley hadn't been the taller of the sisters.

"Turn it off!"

"Never!"

And Ashley broke past Spencer, casting only a brief sympathetic glance over she shoulder as apology. She leaped off the stoop, landing in the dirt and sliding, kicking up patches of grass and weeds in the process. Kyla was right behind her, lunging towards her sister. In Ashley's haste to dodge the attack she twisted further in the slick dirt and was sent sprawling. Kyla seized the opportunity and flung herself atop her sister. Shrieking ensued. Spencer couldn't quite understand anything being said (perhaps they were simply noises rather than words). And suddenly amid the writhing mass of Davies there was a shrill 'oof!' and a cry of triumph.

Kyla fell back on her elbows as Ashley jumped away, springing across the lawn in several large strides. Kyla rose to her feet the moment Ashley ducked behind Spencer, the hand with the remote behind her back - free hand gripping the material of the blonde's shirt desperately.

"Spencer's safe!"

"Nuh-uh!"

"Yeah!"

"There is no safe! That's cheating!"

"It's you losing, -like always- and me winning. Because I'm the fucking shit."

"This is stupid. I'll just turn it off myself."

"No!"

Ashley grabbed Spencer by the arm and hauled her into the house, slamming the door shut almost on the other girl's leg, "Sorry, Spence."

The Ohioan was too stricken to speak.

"What just-"

"Ashley!" the fervent pounding on the door indicated that Kyla wasn't as amused as Ashley apparently was.

"Shh!" Ashley pressed her hand to Spencer's mouth to silence her, before an odd expression came over her face as if realizing that their noise level had absolutely nothing to do with anything.

"What's going on?" Spencer tried again.

"Ashley Grace Davies!"

"Shut up Kyla!" Ashley shrieked at the door, before turning around and pressing her back up against it. "Kyla just-"

"Your middle name's 'Grace'?"

Ashley glowered, "Shoulda left you out there with her."

"I'm serious, Ash! Let me in, dammit!"

The song changed. Ashley visibly drooped and Spencer heard Kyla's 'ha!' of victory from outside. With a shrug and strained smile in Spencer's direction Ashley pulled away from the door, unlocked it with one hand and tossed the remote onto the couch.

Kyla burst in, smacking Ashley in the back of the head, "You bitch!"

And the squabbling began. As entertaining as seeing Ashley and Kyla go at it was, those types of arguments were pretty much the same every time. Spencer's eyes wandered around the room. A semi-old television set, ugly deep orange recliner (the arms were sort of torn up, though - yellow foam peaking through randomly), ratty flower-print loveseat and un-matching green pleather couch that looked as if it had definitely seen better days. A scuffed coffee table littered with Guitar Center catalogues, a three-month-old copy of Seventeen magazine, a few random punk-rock zines, a worn Jack Kerouac novel.

The lamp in the corner was shaped like a hula dancer and the stereo (the nicest looking thing in the room) sat atop a small black table, speakers on either side.

Spencer could see the hall, but not much further and part of the kitchen. There was a trail of bright red liquid and powder from the kitchen to the doorway. Spencer realized she recognized it from the smear on Ashley's face and had seen it on Kyla's hands and forearms.

There was a loud thump and Spencer turned to see that Ashley had hopped onto the coffee table, presumably, to escape Kyla's vengeance-slaps.

Kyla's hands flew to her face, "You got mud all over my Seventeen!"

Ashley looked down and groaned, jumping off the table and dropping to her knees beside it, furiously wiping mud off the reading materials, "I got mud all over On The Road!"

"Seventeen, Ash!"

"Real books, Kyla!"

The bickering dissolved into a glaring-match and Spencer wondered what she'd gotten herself into.


"So… what was the fight about?"

It was about an hour after Spencer had arrived. After the impromptu but not completely out-of-the-ordinary mud fight (sadly, it was the first they'd had in almost two months - Kyla had thought they were really making progress) her sister had taken a five minute shower while Ashley had simply changed into sweatpants and an old Motörhead shirt that belonged to her father (Ashley had decorated each wall of her room with a Motörhead poster - as far as she was concerned Lemmy was a surefire way to keep nightmares at bay. The mole was damn impressive). It smelled like laundry and pot.

Ashley grinned and the newly-washed Kyla scowled.

"Ashley was playing that stupid song again."

Spencer looked amused and raised an eyebrow. "Song?"

Ashley gestured for Spencer to get closer. The blonde obliged but that didn't stop Ashley from leaning in even closer so that when she spoke her lips brushed against Spencer's ear.

The girl smelled like strawberry shampoo. Ashley closed her eyes, glad that her face wasn't visible from either angle and allowed herself to smile for reasons unrelated to tormenting Kyla. She spoke in a stage whisper and tried not to think about the way Spencer shivered when Ashley spoke. "Sometimes… when she annoys me - which is pretty much always- I play "Beat on the Brat" when she walks into a room."

She pulled back a little and cast a seedy glance at Kyla, "Drives her crazy."

Kyla threw a pillow at Ashley. "Oh, Ha ha."

The pillow glanced off Spencer's shoulder, a product of Kyla's terrible, terrible aim. Ashley responded without thinking, hurling the pillow back at Kyla with twice the force. Her sister shrieked and ducked out of the way while Ashley threw an arm around Spencer's neck with a grin.


"I'll do anything sexual. I don't need a million dollars for it, either."

"Hot."

"Shh!"

"You're lying."

"Man, I hope not."

"Ash!"

"I already have. I've done just about everything there is except a few things that are illegal. I'm a nymphomaniac."

Ashley opened her mouth to speak but Kyla had anticipated this and slammed a pillow into Ashley's face before she could speak.

Spencer grinned from her spot to the left of the Davies sisters.

"Lie."

Ashley attempted to speak but Kyla still pressed the pillow over her face. Defiant but muffled speech was apparent as Ashley struggled to free herself.

"Are your parents aware of this?"

"The only person I told was my shrink."

Ashley burst up from underneath Kyla, panting; face pink from exertion.

"And what'd he do when you told him?"

Spencer looked back and met Kyla's reluctantly amused gaze.

"He nailed me."

"Allison and Claire should hook up!"

"Very nice."

Spencer chuckled and wrapped an arm around Ashley who had buried her face in Spencer's side after Kyla had tossed the pillow at her again.

She felt the warmth of Ashley, the soft press of the girl's nose into the side of her stomach. Sliding her hand unconsciously from the brunette's hip, over her ribs, and to her hair so she could thread her fingers through long, curly strands (and pretend she didn't notice the way Ashley's breathing had become a little deeper, and she pressed a little closer than necessary, and the way the hand she'd slung casually over Spencer's thigh squeezed a little).

Kyla was easily swept up in the movie once more, despite the fact that Ashley had claimed they'd seen it "at least a bazillion times." Spencer glanced over and noticed the girl mouthing the words.

"It's kind of a double-edged sword, isn't it?"

"A what?"

Ashley pulled herself up from Spencer's lap and gestured for the girl to come closer.

"Well, if you say you haven't...you're a prude. If you say you have...you're a slut! It's a trap. You want to but you can't but when you do you wish you didn't, right?"

"Ally Sheedy rocks, but she was way better in High Art."

Spencer blinked, "High-What?"

Ashley's eyes sparkled in the way that was wildly innocent yet utterly sinister at the same time. The description sounded odd, even in her own head but if there was anything Spencer had come to learn about the other girl it was that Ashley was all sorts of amazing contradictions.

The Californian grinned. "I am so picking the movies next time we do this."

Between Ashley's grin and the wicked look in her eyes Spencer wasn't sure if that was such a good idea.


"Wow, it's really coming down out there, huh?"

Spencer's voice was quiet but she was sitting close enough for Ashley to hear it. The brunette closed her eyes and tilted her head back, filtering out the noises from the television and focusing on the heavy sounds of the rain. Ashley loved rain. Especially storms. It felt like the earth was getting clean, washing away all the dirt and lies and trivial things. A world-wide time out. Rain was constant, and dependable; it was always wet, it always sounded wonderful, it always meant squirmy legions of worms to dry on the sidewalks, and there was always a rainbow afterwards. As much as Ashley would never admit it, she was someone who could appreciate constancy - and if there was one thing in the world she knew she could count on, it was the rain.

Her arm was wrapped around Spencer's shoulders. Ashley pulled the girl tighter against her, turned so she could whisper intimately into her ear and pretended that they could do this sort of thing all the time. "Yeah."

A shiver. "I don't really like the rain…"

"Really?"

"I guess," she shifted closer to Ashley and tugged on the blanket they were sharing. "When I was a kid thunder always scared me. I thought for the longest time it was God breaking things."

Ashley couldn't stop her small smile. "Yeah?"

"Yeah."

There was a sort of silence. Sort of, because Spencer's soft breathing and the rapid thumping of Ashley's heart were apparent. Kyla was eating mini pretzels, kicking her legs back and forth in the air as she laid on her stomach, head propped against an open palm and watched with rapt attention as Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins engaged in a mental showdown on their TV screen.

"You know…" Ashley made sure her voice was low and husky an all the sorts of things that made girls come home with her, "when you see a rainbow…."

Spencer tilted her head just slightly.

"It's God having gay sex."

Spencer laughed so hard she actually snorted, which sent Ashley into her own fit of giggles. Kyla attempted to shut them up with creepy-librarian-noises but gave up when Spencer snorted again and their laughter was redoubled.

Eventually they calmed down and opted to remain silent to pay attention as Buffalo Bill screamed about lotion.

"Jodie Foster's hot."

Kyla rolled her eyes, "You say that, like, every five minutes."

"'Cause it's fuckin' true. Jodie Foster is-"

"Hot, yeah, we get it."

Ashley grinned. Kyla was way too easy. Spencer caught Ashley's smile and gave her a disapproving head shake. Ashley shrugged and opened her mouth to speak but was cut off by the shrill ringing of the phone.

"Not it!"

Kyla had reflexes like a fucking cat.

Ashley rolled her eyes, shot Spencer an apologetic smile and pushed herself up off the couch. It wasn't her fault that the action caused her to press up against Spencer. She barely even noticed the way the other girl's breath caught, how warm she was. She padded over to the phone in the kitchen and answered with her best bored tone. "Davies Mortuary; you call, we hall."

There was lots of loud noise in the background. Whooping, television, clinking glasses, and a distinctively female voice purring something that was probably disgusting.

"Dad, you off work already?"

"Yeah, baby doll, Chet let me off early."

She frowned, hearing the alcohol in his voice. "So, what's up?"

"Ah, well…" there was the voice again, and then her father's and in the background some 12-step-failures were belting out the chorus to a Journey song, "see, I'm here with my friend Candace."

Raife had never mentioned a Candace. And, he wasn't the first to use the term "friend" when he really meant skank-I-just-picked-up-that-I-can-score-with. It was something she'd picked up from him. Ashley sighed. He'd promised that he'd be home to meet Spencer.

He'd fucking promised, and now he was acting like it didn't mean anything.

She squeezed her eyes shut and told herself it wasn't anything to be surprised about.

"So, she asked me to spend some time with her tonight. Watch some movies."

Ashley realized how eerily similar their code was.

It was disturbing, really.

The stupidly optimistic side of her wasn't quite ready to give up on their plans. "But, dad… Spencer's here. You said you-"

"Shh, c'mon, babe, knock it off, I'm tryin' to…" there was that woman's laugh again. It turned Ashley's stomach and she tried not to think of all the other times he'd let her down. Ditched her in favor of some random boozing whore who'd spread her legs for anyone that bought her a few drinks. "Sorry, Ash. What were you sayin'?"

She sighed. "Nothing."

"Okay, well-"

She hung up.


Thunder shook the walls. It rattled Spencer's brain in her skull, made her fists clench around blankets and her eyes squeeze shut and her teeth clack together. Lighting scorched the sky, bringing flashes of light through the window, illuminating the dimly lit room. The pounding rain had not stopped it's sick wet slaps against the roof and trees and everything since it had begun hours ago. Spencer wished she were at home, or someplace where she didn't have to worry about looking like an idiot for being freaked out.

"Shhh," Ashley's embrace did little to slow her beating heart. In fact, it made it pound faster. But, the butterflies in her stomach distracted her from the threat of lighting-strike-induced fires and collapsing houses. Long, slender fingers drawing patterns on the skin just above the waistline of the flannel pajama pants she'd borrowed from Ashley. "Just watch the movie."

Really, not the best suggestion. It had been a terrible decision to agree to The Devil's Rejects. Really, Spencer enjoyed horror movies. But that didn't mean she could handle them. And now was probably the worst time to watch one of them, at least one like this.

It was a little after1:40. Kyla had gone to bed shortly after Ashley announced what they were watching. A few hours ago, Spencer had called home and asked permission to stay for the night. The rain was really bad, it was already late, and she'd omitted the fact that Raife wouldn't be home that night. Arthur had hesitated but granted her permission and stated that he would "handle" her mother.

Thunder clapped again, Spencer jumped and the television flickered, once, twice and then the whole room was dark.

Way too dark.

"Ashley?"

She felt warm fingers lace with hers, "Right here, Spence."

And she was indeed right here because when she spoke, she pressed closer. Her lips brushed Spencer's ear, and her arms wrapped around her and she could feel Ashley's breasts against her back through the thin cotton of Ashley's t-shirt and Spencer's tank top.

She exhaled a frightened chortle, "This is really creepy."

Ashley chuckled too, her body shaking softly with the laughs. She shifted behind Spencer, hands still clasped reassuringly. "Close your eyes."

"What?"

"Just trust me."

And how was Spencer supposed to do anything else when Ashley squeezed her hand like that?

The room was so dark that she didn't really notice much of a difference besides the fact that she could no longer make out vague outlines of various shapes. Sometime after Silence of the Lambs they'd moved the coffee table out of the way and covered the floor with blankets to create a makeshift bed. There was a brief rustle of fabric as Ashley shifted behind her and-

Holy fuck.

Had Ashley just kissed her?

There was moving, and maybe it had just been an accident because they were so close but she'd felt something against the back of her neck - a soft something. Lip somethings. And it made heat spring up from her belly and across her cheeks, all the way up to her ears. Her stomach clenched and her heart pounded faster and she felt a little dizzy. Those were lips. What else could they be? But thinking about Ashley's lips was dangerous, especially with the girl so close because really, when she got to thinking about things like Ashley's lips, and her smile, and her hands, and her legs, and other parts she'd end up feeling a familiar ache right between-

"Sorry," Ashley's voice was so, so quiet.

Sorry?

Spencer exhaled shakily, "It's okay."

"Open your eyes now."

"What?"

"Open 'em."

And she did but nothing about the room was different. Still no power. Still dark. The coffee table was still shoved up against the ugly orange recliner, magazines lying on the floor where they had spilled over the top when Ashley and Kyla had pushed the heavy wooden object against the chair. The mostly-empty popcorn bowl and pretzel bag and box of Cheeze-Its and empty beer bottles (Spencer had abstained, because , as Ashley had joked "the most alcohol she can handle is a Shirley Temple") and-

Oh.

"Oh."

She could see the dim outline of Ashley's grin. "See? Your eyes just needed to adjust."

"How can you be so…?"

"Hot? Perfect? Fucking awesome?"

"Not freaked out."

Ashley beamed shaking her head before moving close enough to bury her face in Spencer's neck. She drew in a deep breath and spoke against the soft, pale skin there, "Because, Spence… there's a big difference between you and me."

"Oh yeah?" Spencer really didn't mean for her voice to tremble like that. And the blush that stained her cheeks wasn't from heat so much as it was from the pressure between her legs and the way Ashley was so close Ashley could smell the cigarette smoke woven in to the fibers of her t-shirt, and the faint smell of mint toothpaste on her breath, and the other scent that must have been the very essence of Ashley herself because for the life of her she would never be able to describe it.

"Yeah…" Ashley's voice was so low it went straight to Spencer's twisting stomach and set her insides aflame. Ashley's breath hitched for a moment. The tension between them was practically tangible. She could feel something build. Something important, and scary, and exhilarating.

Something that could change everything.

"The difference is…"

Spencer closed her eyes.

"I'm…"

Ashley paused. There was nothing but the sound of rain and breathing. Spencer wished she could take that moment and keep it with her forever.

Ashley sighed. "I'm… n-not a totally wuss."

Spencer squeezed her eyes shut tighter. She wanted to draw away from Ashley, but the girl's arms were wrapped too tightly around her for that. She wasn't sure where the crushing disappointment had come from. It was obvious that wasn't what Ashley was going to say. But, she couldn't ask. Their friendship was… complicated. Sometimes, there were far too many unspoken rules for Spencer's taste, but she felt that she was in no position to complain. She had imposed most of them.

Spencer sighed into Ashley's curls and pulled the girl tighter.

Lighting flashed. It lit up the room and made Spencer realize how truly alone the two of them were.

Ashley murmured something against her skin, but Spencer didn't understand. She didn't ask the girl to repeat herself.

She pressed her cheek against the top of Ashley's head and closed her eyes, listening to the sound of the rain.


The silence stretched on for a small forever.

Ashley was certain that Spencer had fallen asleep.

There was a cricket somewhere in her kitchen; the chirping was rare, but loud. The rain had died down a little, still a steady, solid fall, but not quite the violent downpour they'd witnessed earlier.

Spencer's breathing was quiet and shallow. Warm puffs of air against Ashley's skin.

Holding her made Ashley feel like she could do anything.

She sighed against Spencer's neck.

It was late and she really should be sleeping.

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TBC
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End Notes: Chapter's over. I wrote it, and it's good manners for you to review it, now. Just sayin'

-Orange