LbN: WooHoo! This is my first SoN story; so hopefully it doesn't suck too bad...:)

Semi-Happy Birthday

Ashley knocked on the door, praying Glen didn't answer. The good news was that she got her wish; the bad news…

"Ashley," Paula said.

"Hi Mrs. C," Ashley said as politely as she could, given their history. "Um, I was wondering—"

"Forget it Ashley. Spencer's not going anywhere with you."

"Mrs. C, just listen. Please? It's her birthday; I just want to take her to lunch. We'll be right back afterward, I swear."

"Look Ashley," Paula began.

"Paula, stop," Arthur came up behind her. "Spencer!" he called.

"Arthur! She's not going out with her."

"What's up Dad? Ashley!" Spencer's face lit up at the sight of her girlfriend.

"Ashley wants to take you to lunch. Do you want to go?"

"Yeah!" Spencer looked at him like it shouldn't have even been a question. Paula threw her arms up in resignation and went into the kitchen.

"Come back here after, okay?" Arthur said. "We'll have ice cream and pie. Don't worry about your mom," he added to Spencer. "I'll talk to her."

"Thanks Dad."

The girls ran and jumped in Ashley's car, waving to Mr. Carlin. Once they were on the road, Spencer let out a yell of joy.

"I'm so glad you came by! I didn't think I'd be able to go anywhere today."

"You think I'd leave you wallowing in your mother's inflicted misery on your birthday?" Ashley asked incredulously. Spencer laughed.

"Where are we going?"

"You'll see."

Fifteen minutes later, they were pulling into a parking garage. Spencer laughed and gave Ashley her I-know-what-you're-up-to look.

"I know what you're thinking," Ashley smiled. "And it's not that. Come on."

When they got outside of Ashley's door, Ashley took out her keys and smiled.

"Ok, cover your eyes. No peeking."

She steered Spencer into the apartment. When their heels began clicking on the floor, Spencer knew they were in the kitchen.

"Alright, you can look."

The apartment was dimly lit with candles. Two barstools stood at the island in the kitchen, plates of wonderful smelling food in front of each. Red and purple balloons filled the air.

"Ashley! This is awesome; thank you!"

"Wanted to do dinner, but I figured it was gonna be hard enough getting you out of your house during the day," Ashley smiled, handing Spencer a rose. Spencer gave her a kiss and wrapped her arms around her.

"Anybody else know about this mushy side of you, Davies?" she smiled.

"No. And if you tell anyone, you're so dead," Ashley laughed and nodded to the food.

Over lunch, Spencer and Ashley caught up on everything that had been happening at school and in both of their families. They hadn't seen each other in two weeks thanks to Spencer's mom, so it felt good just to talk.

"So how'd you think of all this?" Spencer indicated the food and balloons.

"Eh, just wanted to do something special for you," Ashley shrugged with a grin. "Kyla had to stay here to make sure the apartment didn't burn down when I went to get you. She says happy birthday, by the way."

By the time they'd finished lunch, Spencer was absolutely dreading going home. With an unhappy look, she walked with Ashley to the door.

"Don't you want help cleaning up?" she asked.

"Kyla's got it. I owe her big time…"

"I don't want to go home."

Ashley leaned in and kissed her. When they separated, she leaned her forehead against Spencer's.

"Everything's going to be okay. Promise."

Walking into the Carlin's house twenty minutes later, however, Ashley realized how wrong she was.

"She has no idea what she's getting into! And you keep undermining me in front of her? I'm trying to help her; to save her!"

"You're not worried about her Paula! You just don't want a gay daughter."

"You're right; I don't. But still, it's not natural! And this is only going to lead to a hard life for her!"

"You think I don't know that?" Spencer asked quietly. She and Ashley stood in the kitchen doorway. Her parents had been so busy yelling at each other that they hadn't noticed them.

"Spencer—" Paula started.

"No. Listen; for once, just listen," Spencer shook her head. Ashley was really worried about how calm she sounded. "I've seen a kid get beat up for being gay. Ashley and I get called names and talked about everyday at school. Go ahead, tell me something I don't know about how hard this is. I'm tired of feeling like I'm the worst thing that's ever happened to this family, Mom. Come on Ashley."

"Where are you going?" Paula asked.

"Upstairs."

Taking Ashley's arm, Spencer led her away from the kitchen and up the stairs. As soon as they'd closed the door to Spencer's room, Spencer broke down. Ashley moved her over to the bed and held her until both of them fell asleep.

LbN: Hope you liked it! Send reviews, mmkay?