Title: At The Eleventh Hour
Rating: Will turn NC-17
Pairing: Spashley, duh!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything
A/N: It will pick up, I know it's slow...! ...lies, all lies, it's not gonna pick up, it's just gonna be more action I am dragging it out, that's for sure

Ì'm mainly just posting this so it won't disappear, I'm not waiting for reviews or anything. Ofcourse it would be nice, but I'm not waiting for it. I just don't want it to disappear if the other site it's on shuts down.

Knock on Wood

There are certain times in life that you don't know how you're supposed to act, to feel. You're being taught by people around you, by television, by everything that makes an impact on you. Last night's TV show brought up the exact same situation you're in right now, and when you saw it, you thought you understood how to react, how to be. You read the situation you saw unfold in front of you, and you learned it, relived it. You put yourself into another persons situation, trying to be the person, to understand their need and want.
But the thing is, it wasn't your situation. It wasn't you that was in it, you merely observed another beings perception of the certain situation. It gave you a false illusion of knowledge, it made you believe you were prepared. But nothing can prepare you for it when it hits.

You may believe I'm talking about a huge event, something so extraordinary that you can barely fathom it. The moment you learn – or shall I say observe – my situation, you may scoff and think: «Is this what she went on and on about? Man, what's so special about this?».
However, although it happens every day, to a child for the first time - or for some children - for the nth time, you cannot understand the impact it has on a human being: Not until you experience it yourself.

I am currently sitting side by side with the Missus. That's what I've been calling her for ages. She's humming along to Pete Seeger, the same old song she's been humming along to since the first time I met her. I still don't know the name of the song, but it's about the war or something, but I have a feeling all of his songs contains the war. Poor man, desperately trying to relive a war he wasn't born early enough to witness. I guess there really are more pathetic souls out there than mine.

I'm nervously eyeing the CD-player to the left in front of me. I take a glance at the Missus and hope she notices me eyeing the radio. She doesn't even notice my nervous fidgeting where she's in her own world, suddenly breaking out into full sing-mode. I cringe, knowing that if I want her to stop her tirade of Jackaro's and the like, I have to speak up, but I do not dare. I know the radio is mere inches away from the tips of my fingers, and that a silent push will put it on, silencing the idol-contestant beside me. But I do not dare.
I don't know why really. The Missus has been nothing but nice to me, ever since the first time I set foot in the orphan home. And each time I've been kicked out of a new home, she's welcomed me back with open arms. Well, actually it's more like being crushed back into her arms. It doesn't make me feel special though, she does the same thing with every child that crosses her path.

When we reach the neighborhood, I feel my heart speed up. This is the moment all the television specials have tried to prepare you for. The moment where a world of expectations are on your shoulders, and however many of them you try to meet, there's always gonna be some that are impossible to reach.
Contradictions, paradoxes, different opinions, numerous reasons for it never to end up just right.
A family of three, maybe five; maybe a family of two – a sad story of a deceased child where the burden is now put on you to do the impossible task of refilling the void in their lives; maybe a lonely woman never finding a man to give her children; maybe a gay couple desperately trying to give you both a mother- and father figure and ending up overdoing it to the extent you think gender roles are one of the most important matters in life.
I don't know what to expect. Of course I have been given the 101 on who the family is, how many members, age, sex, all the info it is expected of me to know. I have read it over and over, trying to find faults, something that is wrong, something has to be wrong. Each time a new family enter my life – or shall I say I enter their lives – something has always made them send me back.
I don't see myself as a wild child, or a brute, or a nuisance, or any of those, but still they always find things about me that make them send me back. Therefore, even though I know who the family exist of, I still don't know what to expect, what wrong they will find in me this time.

The wheels moving under me, taking me closer to the final destination, is slowing down, and I close my eyes, trying to keep my emotions under control, trying to think happy thoughts, happy thoughts. Ashley, you are the perfect child, the perfect sister, okey?
My body gives me away though, as my palms are clammy, my foot franticly tapping the floor of the vehicle and my hairline getting sticky with sweat. I can feel every nerve-ending in my body tense up, my ability to focus my eyes on something – anything – disappears, and I start listening to my breathing.
When you're in a situation like this, meeting your new family for the first time, you become aware of everything. Anything. Little things like your breathing become huge matters, as if the family you're now going to intrude on is going to scrutinize everything about you. Down to the shape of your toes, therefore you hide them in shoes, then the matter of shoes comes up, and you wonder which shoes is the nicest ones and then you wonder if you should even have nice shoes on, since it will seem like you don't need a new home. Rule number one when coming to a new foster home; never let them think that you don't need them. Rule number two; never let them think you can't live without them. It's a contradiction aright, did I say it was an easy task?

I glance up, and notice we've stopped outside a cozy house, and I internally freak, afraid I've been sitting here too long, not greeting them when is expected, not looking eager enough. The Missus is unbuckling her seatbelt, and I understand that I'm right on time. I unbuckle my own, and open the car door, before wondering which foot to step down on first. Should I hop out? That would seem eager, but then again, maybe it's too eager?
I close my eyes again.
Ashley, come on, you've done this before, if they don't want you, which is highly probable, there's always the orphanage again.
Just thinking that line makes me nauseous, if I wanted to stay at the orphanage, I wouldn't try to get into new homes all
the time.

I look up and smile the most innocent and appreciative smile I can muster up, and I shyly make my way towards the family, which are lined up in front of the house. At least the shyness I don't have to pretend.
One of them, the father I presume, walks towards me, and I stop in my tracks. Should I still go towards him, or should I stay where I'm standing? I choose to stand where I am, and another dilemma arises. Should I hold my weight on the left foot or the right? Should I stand up straight, or slouch a little?
God, no wonder no one wants you, you over-analyzer!

«Hi Ashley, I'm Arthur Carlin, it's a pleasure to meet you. We've been looking forward to meeting you, Mrs. Johnson here have told us all about you, and we're very excited to get to know you.»

I meet his hand in mid-air, and shake it lightly, cringing internally due to my clammy hand. It always happens, my first impression shattered by that clammy hand. I guess it has to be something; if it weren't for the hand, it would be the shoes, or how the bag hangs on my shoulder, or the smile I've got plastered on my face, or... it could be anything. Possibly everything.

I greet the Carlin's alright. Each one of them after turn, feeling them boring their eyes into me, searching me, looking for clues as to who I am and what wrongs I have done to make me end up in fostercare. One of them though, doesn't seem interested at all. I guess now I should call her my sister, but counting all the other supposed sisters I've had over the years, I've stopped calling them that: A sister is family. None of my supposed sisters have ever felt like one, and I doubt this one will either.