Disclaimer: I own nothing but the words and the occasional OC.

AN: To those who have read my work before: this is very different to BoS. Still, I hope you enjoy it all the same. It's going to be nine or ten chapters long (I might break the final one up because it's really big).

Enjoy all the same.

Ashley Davies rolled her head around in an attempt to work out the uncomfortable stiffness in her neck. Arriving early to class had never been forte that she possessed, however, when she awoke early from a dream consisting of rubbing oil on to those hard to reach places of Richard Simmons, she sprung from her bed to have a shower than almost scalded her tanned skin and promptly erased that memory from her fragile little mind.

She tilted her head toward the ceiling, to perhaps count the tiles, when she yawned unexpectedly, sending the peppermint gum she had been chewing for the past five minutes to the back of her throat, effectively choking herself.

Throwing her head forward and coughing up the offending item from her throat, she silently congratulated herself on a job well done. She'd only done that twice this month.

"That's not something you're supposed to deep-throat."

Ashley lifted her head and delivered an impressive eye roll for eight a.m.. "Bite me," she spat out to the girl making her way toward her, rolling the gum back into the wrapper it came in.

Spencer Carlin, second to arrive into the classroom, smiled victoriously and sat down at her small desk situated in front of the brunette's. "Good morning to you, too."

Ashley sighed at her unctuous tone and laid her head down on the desk, praying for sleep to claim her before their teacher arrived or Spencer decided she wanted to open her smart-ass mouth again.

They'd known each other for a year and Spencer had barely uttered a single nice word to her as far as Ashley was concerned.

"Did you finish your assignment?" Ashley heard, somehow louder even though her ear was pressed against her rolled up hoodie on the desk.

She sighed, keeping her eyes closed. "Do you want me to kick your chair for the next hour?"

"I don't know, do you want me to slap you?"

The brunette snorted in amusement and could tell by her voice that the blonde was facing toward the badly-cleaned chalkboard. "Spencer Carlin, hulking out? That'll be the day." She had never heard Spencer curse other than when she called her a bitch, she didn't smoke, she got high from paint fumes, and she was a virgin.

"It'll be the day when you actually talk to someone nicely."

"It's too bad you're not someone."

"It's too bad you're a bitch."

"It's too bad you think your opinion matters to me."

Spencer's retort died on her tongue as their teacher hurried into the room with her thin and clearly dyed black hair in disarray balancing three folders, her bag, and a large cup of coffee. Her glasses were perched at the tip of her nose, perilously close to falling off. Ashley hated that more than anything.

Before long the room was full of students and as soon as Mrs Wright —who was a good few years past retirement age— opened a book and began scrawling her unintelligible script onto the chalkboard. Ashley pushed her ear plugs into her ears and raised the volume on her iPod, drowning out any unwelcome noise.

As soon as she got into the song, her eyes drifted shut and her foot moved on its own accord, accidentally tapping against the legs of Spencer's seat. She smiled when she felt Spencer's eyes burning into her. She imagined—hoped—she was scowling. There was nothing like getting a rise out of Spencer Carlin. Her eyes always flashed and Ashley had never seen a shade of blue like it.

Her smarmy smile was wiped off her face the second Spencer's palm connected with the side of her face.

The brunettes eyes flew open and she pulled the ear plugs from her ears, her face flushing in a mixture of embarrassment and rage. "That was an accident!" she defends her actions indignantly.

The students who gave a damn were sitting there with wide eyes, waiting to see if there was going to be another verbal smack down between Carlin and Davies. They were legendary.

Despite the fact that the blonde was completely harmless didn't deter her from giving as good as she got. And the fact Ashley usually took bait helped immensely.

Not being able to help herself, she smirked at Ashley's slightly pink face. "You kicked my chair; I just assumed you wanted a slap to the face."

"Hey!" Ashley yells to an oblivious Mrs Wright. "Why is your nose still in that book?! I was just assaulted!" As soon as those words left her lips she faced the blonde once more, her eyes blazing. "I'm two seconds away from kicking your ass, Carlin."

"Excuse me, dear?" Mrs Wright finally turns around to ask, looking rather confused.

Spencer exhales slowly and smiles, unaffected by Ashley's threat. "I have two brothers. You can try to kick my ass, but you'll be the one on her back." She leans over the back of her seat some and whispers: "But, I promise I'll be gentle." Her bright blue eyes shine when she sees Ashley's face harden, and she ducks her head when Ashley's hand shoots out in an attempt to connect with her face.

"What on earth?" Mrs Wright's shrill voice pierces right through Ashley, causing her to wince.

"It was self defence!" The brunette justifies her violent outburst.

"I don't condone violence, Miss Davies. You know that."

"You expect me to do nothing when Carlin goes all Catwoman on my face?" she asks incredulously.

In front of her, Spencer laughs briefly and quietly. "I barely touched you. Over dramatic, much?"

That much was true; she had barely made contact. Never one for actual violence, she hadn't wanted to hurt Ashley, she just liked to see how much she could push her. It was amusing.

Having not heard Spencer, Mrs Wright addresses Ashley, "I expect you to act as the mature young woman you are."

"Are you talking about the same Davies I know?" A voice at the back of the class asks, causing a few to snicker.

Ashley turns around in her seat and mocks the monkey laughs she had just heard before turning back around to face Spencer, her eyes cold.

Mrs Wright carries on: "So, I'd like you to gather your things and report to the principal's office immediately."

"I get slapped in the face and I have to see the big guy?" She shakes her head in disbelief, gathering her things, regardless. "Well I guess I can't question your work-ethic after all these years, can I, Wrighty?" she asks sarcastically.

"Don't call me Wrighty, young lady."

"Don't call me young lady, Wrighty."

Ashley didn't hate the woman, but her patience had been well and truly tested and it was barely eight-thirty in the morning. She left the room with no intention of visiting the balding man who ran the school.

On her way to her car, Ashley had an almost overwhelming urge to smoke a cigarette -- something she hadn't done in months. She was never one to get an addiction to anything but there was something about the way the nicotine felt running through her veins that she craved when she was exceptionally irritated, or just plain drunk. Right now she was the former, wishing she was the latter.

Not wanting to see her half-sister around campus or go home to the dragon that was Christine Davies, Ashley drove aimlessly through the city for nearly an hour before she settled on a location.

Ashley had been at the beach all morning as well as half of the afternoon, and her skin had gone a shade darker as she ignored calls and texts from various acquaintances of hers. After finishing off a cheeseburger half the size of her, she decided to go for a swim; sometimes merely keeping herself above the surface and letting the waves pull and push her wherever they wished.

Now, with her eyes closed and the sounds of rushing water in her ears, Ashley felt free.

Until something collided with her head, forcing it to the side slightly.

She opened her eyes with annoyance and a frown attached to her forehead. Spencer was standing twenty feet away with water up to just below her jean clad knees. She hadn't packed a bathing suit.

Ashley looked around and saw that a football was floating nearby, being carried away from her with the currents of the water. She exhaled a deep breath and swam back to shore, holding herself back from splashing Spencer with water. She wasn't that immature, she told herself.

"What do you want?" she asked indifferently, though she was curious. They didn't talk outside of school. Period. What happened that morning was their usual repartee; nothing more, nothing less.

Spencer watched Ashley emerge from the water and the smirk still attached to her lips from the look on Ashley's face when the football hit her fell off. She'd never seen so much of Ashley's body before and in turn, felt her heart beat that little bit faster. "What?" She shook her head.

Ashley lowered herself down to her large towel and squeezed the excess water from her hair, running her fingers through it afterward, oblivious to the effect she had on Spencer. "You. Here. Talking to me. Why?"

Recovering quickly, Spencer looked down to Ashley. "I saw you eating like, half a cow, and then you went swimming."

Ashley raised her eyebrows and sipped on her now warm water. "So?"

"Well, they say you're not supposed to go swimming on a full stomach, and when I saw you just floating with that weird look on your face, I wondered if you'd had a seizure or if you were having a sh-"

"Bye," Ashley interrupts and then looks up to Spencer, squinting at the harsh light of the sun.

Seeing her discomfort, Spencer moves so that her head is blocking the sun and unknowingly creates an almost ethereal-like glow to herself.

"Why are you even here?" Ashley carries on. "Jesus doesn't hang out with me on Tuesday's."

"I don't appreciate that," the blonde responds gently. Ashley occasionally made some kind of Jesus joke and always laughed her ass off. It irritated Spencer to no end.

"Lighten up, Madonna. I'm Catholic, too."

Spencer raises a dubious eyebrow. "Since when?"

"Since always," Ashley replies unconvincingly.

"I don't believe you."

"Why are you still here?"

"Why are you?" Spencer retorts.

"I'm tanning."

"Trying to fry the two brain cells you have left?"

"Trying to fry my memory of you."

"I'm memorable?" the blonde asks with a small smile.

"Memory, non plural. This morning. When I go to sleep and wake up it's like a clean slate," Ashley moves her hand across the air in front of her face. "No more Spencer."

Spencer side-steps, blinding Ashley with the sun. "Is that why you insist on spraying that lavender spray you know I'm allergic to before class everyday? Because it's such a clean slate?"

Ashley raises her hand, shielding her eyes. Briefly, her perfectly sculpted eyebrows furrow in surprise. "Is it my fault I love lavender and you're allergic to it? No. Is it an added bonus? Absolutely."

Ashley hated lavender.

"Of course it is," Spencer mocked.

"I think Big J is parting water half-a-mile up that way," the brunette points right.


Ashley raises an eyebrow. "Yeah, Mosey on over." She waves a hand to the right once more.

"It wasn't Jesus who parted the red sea, it was Moses. He led the Hebrews to safety."

"Do I look like I give a shit?" Ashley rolled her eyes when she saw Spencer turn and walk away from her. "You forgot your football!" she yells after her, remembering how it was floating in the water.

"Not mine!" Spencer shouts back.

Spencer sits with her family at their dining room table and laughs at an anecdote Clay is telling animatedly. The food on their table is home-made and they each held hands during their prayer before their meal.

Ashley sits alone at her large dining room table, pushing her micro-waved meal around on her plate, her appetite non-existent. She can hear the obnoxious ticking of the grandfather clock in the foyer.