i refuse to abandon another story.

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"I can't sleep," It's three in the morning, and Ashley's standing next to me with this nervous look on her face and she's biting her lip and I'm not sure how I'm' supposed to respond.

She kissed me. I kissed her. Whatever. She hasn't said a word to me until now.

Not that I can really blame her. This is such a weird situation, when you think about it.

I look up at her, and I'm at a loss for words for a moment, and we're left alone in the silence with nothing but the sound of the seconds passing by, but it isn't the same as it always is. Her words are hanging in the air and it's making it so thick that we could suffocate any minute now.

"I need a cigarette," I finally say, pulling myself up and fishing through my bag for my lighter and keys.

We need keys to open the door to go outside. How sad is that? The bathrooms too. We need to unlock the bathroom whenever somebody has to piss.

I'm halfway down the hallway when I realize that if I think I'm just going to smoke one cigarette, I'm fucking stupid.

"Ashley, can you get my--you are coming, aren't you?" I ask, and I'm sure I sound just as nervous as she looked when I realize she's still standing next to the chair I was sitting in, looking at a loss.

"Uh, am I allowed to be going.." She trails off, and I smile and shake my head, and then shrug. It's three in the morning, I'm the only nurse on duty, and everybody else in this place is so chock full of sleeping meds that they wouldn't wake up if there was an earthquake or something.

Ashley Davies actually acknowledging a rule. I'm shocked.

Spencer Carlin breaking a rule.

I'm not sure which is more unexpected.

She grabs my bag and then she's standing next to me, giving me the weirdest look when I walk past the door to the courtyard.

"Aren't we going to the courtyard?"

I shake my head again. "You need to actually be outside, not that disgusting courtyard. It smells like ass,"

She looks completely baffled. I guess she thought I was some kind of rule abiding angel.

"Besides, you can see the courtyard from like three other units," It's only after I've said it that I realize how it sounds. Oh god. Not what I meant. Quick Spencer, save yourself while you can. "I mean, like, I will get my fucking ass torn apart if somebody finds out that I'm sneaking you out of here at three in the morning,"

She smiles and doesn't say anything, and I can just barely see her eyes darting around in the dim hallway light.

Five minutes and a fight to the near death with my keys and the outside door, I'm sitting on the stairs and lighting a cigarette.

Heaven. Lung killing, cancerous heaven.

She still hasn't said a word, she's just sitting there drumming her fingers against her leg and looking up at the sky, and as weird as it sounds, the shadows that the light from the moon cast on her face make her look absolutely gorgeous.

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say right now.

I want to kiss her. I want to kiss her again so badly.

"Hey," I poke her shoulder, and she snaps her head around and looks at me. Fuck. There go my guts. Fuck, Spencer. Since when am I a pussy? Actually, nevermind. Bad rhetorical question. Uhm. Think on your feet--er, ass. I grab my pack of Marlboros and hold it out to her. "I changed my mind,"

She gives me this weird look as she takes one and holds it awkwardly. Oh right. She doesn't have a lighter. I pull mine out of my pocket and light her cigarette, and she takes this huge motherfucking drag. Like, she hits it, inhales, hits it again, inhales, and then with smoke starting to seep out of her nose, hits it a third time and then exhales a rain cloud of smoke. Exhale a second time. More smoke.

Oh my dear god.

"Your first day. You asked me for a cigarette," I tell her, staring at the ground because fuck, I think I'm blushing.

I am.

I'm retarded.

She looks at me weird for a moment, and then smiles. Not a huge grin or anything, just this small little motion in the edges of her mouth but it seems like it lights up her whole face or something because it's so genuine.

"So tell me about you," it's the first thing she's said since we were inside, I realize, and her voice is so much softer than I ever remember it being any other time I've talked to her. Even when she nearly cried in front of me that first night, and then hugged me.

"There isn't much to tell, really," I answer half honestly.

She looks kind of hurt for a second or two, but then she just takes another, thankfully smaller, drag of her cigarette and stares out at the highway.

"Tell me about you," I say, following her gaze out to the city lights, and I realize then how trapped she must feel in this place. And now the city, her city, is right in front of her and it's come to life with the night, and she can't leave to join it.

"I take after my rock star father. I love coke. I love pot. I like sex," She answers simply, leaning back, and we're quiet for almost a minute. There's more than that, but I don't want to push her. "I like sunflowers. I drive around in the middle of nowhere for no reason for hours."

I turn and look at her, but don't say anything and she doesn't return my look, doesn't shift at all, just keeps staring out at those lights and moving her lips and casting the most gorgeous shadows across the contours of her neck, her collarbone and her face.

"I actually don't like drugs. Part of me hates myself for everything I've done. I hate sleeping around. It's just to forget that first stupid boy who wouldn't take no for an answer." She pauses for another moment, and turns and looks at me, before she says, "And I think you're beautiful,"

It's quiet and her words are hanging in the air again, but they aren't suffocating me. Not at all. And I'm sitting here, forgotten cigarette burning in my hand and I'm biting my lip and my eyes are darting around us like hers were earlier.

"And you have no idea," Ashley starts, running her fingers across mine and inching closer to me, and I can't read her now. I can't pick apart her body language or the look on her face, or that look in her eyes, until she finishes, "How badly I want to.."

She trails off again, and before I know how she got there, she's right in front of me, her nose brushing against mine and I'm breathing her air and she smells like something fruity mixed with cigarettes, and she's just hovering there, inches away from me and I want to just close this stupid gap between us but I'm afraid to in the strangest way.

Her eyes dart upward again and meet mine, like she's asking my permission or something, and I can't take it.

I kiss her.

She kisses back, and she tastes like.. she tastes like Ashley, and if I didn't know any better, I'd say it was almost magic.