Lifeline

Disclaimer: I do not own South of Nowhere.

Summary: Ashley wanted to go to Cabo, but Spencer feared the romantic setting. After all, this was a time for them to work out their problems together: no school, no family, and no exes getting in the way. Camping in the Canadian woods? Sounded great to Ashley, so long as Spencer was there with her. But when the simple getaway goes horribly wrong, the two girls find themselves relying on each other, not for the survival of petty high school drama, but to preserve their very lives.

Author's note: Run-on sentences and sentence fragments are the lovechildren of my informal writing, so beware. I went through this whole wilderness survival book-reading phase when I was younger, so inspiration for this stems from books like Hatchet and My Side of the Mountain

Warnings: Spoilers through "Valley of Shadows" of Season 3. I truly hope I don't have to include a warning about lesbian themes. I mean come on. It's South of Nowhere for crying out loud; the presence of Spashley goodness is pretty much a no-brainer.

Reviews are greatly appreciated.


Prologue

"Sometimes I have this fantasy that I get on the first plane out of L.A.X. going anywhere, as long as it's away from here."

She remembered saying it to Spencer the day they ditched class to go to the beach. The day the sweet innocent blonde admitted she liked girls. The day that set the already-rolling tides of their blossoming relationship on its unwavering course.

The statement rang mercilessly in Ashley's ears, piercing through the sputtering drone of the plane's engine. Funny how the smallest details and the biggest revelations, all jumbled together in a chaotic flipbook, could be relived in perfect clarity in the space of mere seconds. Seconds that ticked on for an eternity and still rushed by all too quickly.

Ashley looked over at Spencer. The blonde was staring out the tiny window next to her, her knuckles matching her face in whiteness as she gripped the seat's armrests. Reaching across the gap of the small cabin, Ashley placed her hand over Spencer's.

Another moment of clarity. The same spark, like the first time their hands touched.

Quickly, desperately, fingers interlaced and gripped, clung together as though to keep the other from slipping away. Cerulean eyes tore themselves from the equally blue sky and stared deep into chocolate pools. Eyes so familiar and comforting and knowing that Ashley felt she could die happy so long as she died gazing into them.

But the warmth, the sparkle in them was gone, replaced by the harsh chill of fear Ashley knew to be reflected in her own eyes. Spencer was looking at her, silently pleading with her to make it stop, to fix what was wrong. The same look she had given Ashley the fateful night of their prom. The same look Ashley had faltered in the face of and thus ruined the best thing in either of their lives. She could have fixed it then, but she couldn't fix what was broken now. She did one of the only things she knew how to do, a response completely worthy of the name Ashley Davies.

She grinned, confident and true. That bright nose-crinkling grin that she knew Spencer used to love. No, that she knew Spencer still loved, because the blonde smiled back in reflex, just as she always had. The small chuckle that escaped those full lips died out as quickly as it had come, though, the smile turned pained, and Spencer returned her gaze to the window. The sapphire horizon had changed into an emerald expanse, and the blonde's hand tightened in Ashley's.

The green outside gained detail. Trees. Branches. Leaves and needles. The first violent jolt and a scream from Spencer, but not the last of either.

Funny how, in those few seconds between the first jolt and the last, those seconds that crawled by at a lightning pace, Ashley relived her entire existence. Moving into the new mansion with her mom. The birthday Raife Davies gave her the first guitar she ever owned. The night she found out she was pregnant, and the morning she found out she miscarried. The day she met Spencer. Their first conversation. Their first touch. First hug. First kiss. The furtive glances and whispers and touches. Lips and hands and tongues. Tears and apologies and 'I love you's.'

Ashley opened her mouth, the words on her lips, but they died there unspoken, and she didn't know if it was because Spencer was staring into her eyes again or if it was because the world around them erupted into indefinable colors and noises, pain and blackness.