I dunno about this one. Seems a bit pointless, but it's something.

chapter title comes from a sonic youth song


".. and then, if you believe it, here comes Spencer, naked as the day she was born-"

"Dad, if you finish that story, so help me God-"

"- climbs on, not in but on, the bus as it's picking up Glen for his first day of second grade."

I shoot him a dirty look as Ashley's shoulders quake from laughter.

"He's lying."

He roars with laughter, "We have it on video, Spencer."

"It's photoshopped."

I see mom smack his shoulder lightly and look at him reproachfully.

"Arthur, you're embarrassing her."

Finally, someone defends me. Ashley's still has tears pouring down her face from laughter. I've never in all my life heard so many humiliating stories regurgitated back over such a short period of time.

Dad starts laughing again and turns his attention back to Ashley.

"You won't believe the amount of public nudity Spencer graced upon the world as a child."

Ashley grins at me from across the table and crinkles her nose.

"I so have to see these videos."

I scratch my chin with only my middle finger, looking pointedly at her, and she starts giggling again. If I didn't love her so much, I'd hate her a little.

"Can we like, oh I don't know, talk about anything else?"

Dad apologizes (but does it count when he's still laughing as he says 'sorry'?) and Ashley just sticks her tongue out at me.

There's a small awkward silence before mom speaks up.

"So, Ashley, are you married?"

She nearly chokes on the drink of wine she was taking and her face turns beet red.

"Um, no, no I'm not-"


"I.." she clears her throat and shoots me a panicked glance.

"Mom," I interrupt (both to save Ashley's ass and to avoid her being pissed at me later for not stepping in), "Can you pass the potatoes?"

Ashley smiles weakly at me while mom gives me a "Sure, sweetie" and I rack my brain for something, anything to bring up before finally spitting out, "So tell them about your job, Ash!" much too enthusiastically.

Her fork clatters to her plate as she glares at me with a whatthefuck face.

Mom perks up interestedly as does dad. So much for saving my ass by stepping in. I believe I've just entered the dog house.

"Oh, you're employed?"

Ashley nods meekly and aims a pretty dead on kick at me under the table, "Yeah, but it's nothing, really. Just some part time stuff to pass the time."

Mom acts as though she heard none of that (truthfully, she probably didn't. her selective hearing might as well be a bona fide disease).

"Sure, sure. We've been telling Spencer for ages how she needs to find work, support herself, you know?," she chuckles merrily and takes another sip of wine, "Now that Aiden won't be doing it anymore..."

I drop my cutlery and put my face in my hands dramatically and I hear Ashley snicker.

"Oh, come on, Spencer. It's true, how are you going to pay your bills?"

"Alimony," is my muffled response.

"Be serious, Spencer."


Dad laughs appreciatively and mom tsks at me before turning back to Ashley.

"Maybe you could get her a job where you work, Ashley?"

She blushes a deep red and nods, "Maybe."

"What exactly is it you do, anyway? Some sort of big time business, I'll say, eh?" mom grins at her.

I have to look up at this, feeling kind of bad that I enjoy watching Ashley squirm the way she is in her seat.

"Um... no, not exactly..."

"Paula, could you hand me the salt?," Dad interrupts, sensing Ashley's discomfort.

She practically hurls it at him before facing Ashley again.

"Oh, don't be modest. You see," she prattles on, gesturing with her wine glass, "I always wanted to get involved in something like that. Seemed a bit exciting, but of course you know that. Hollywood upplays it so much on the big screen. I think I could at least be cut out for a secretary, from what I've seen they don't do much, bits and pieces with a computer, but hey, if I can work my phone, that should be no problem, I was just telling Arthur the other day about-"

"Mom, quit it."

"- and really, did you see Secretary? The nudity? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Maggie is a-"

"Mom. Shut up."

"-and I'm sure not all bosses expect to sleep with their secretaries, that's just preposter-"

"Mom! Come on!"

She turns round to me and Ashley looks absolutely baffled.

"Spencer, must you be so rude?"

I widen my eyes in disbelief.

"You're talking about bosses screwing their secretaries! I think I'm being perfectly polite!"

Dad's snickering and Ashley's still looking like she's gotten whacked about the head with a two-by-four.

Mom rolls her eyes, "I'm trying to get to know your friend, honey, we were having a conversation."

"Maybe we should move this into the living room," Dad suggest, "There's a new show I wanted to catch tonight."

I smile at him gratefully. "Please. Ash and I will be in there in a sec, we'll clear the table for you and mom real quick."

Mom looks like she's about to protest but Ashley steps in, "No, really Mrs. Carlin, it's totally fine. I don't mind at all."

Mom smiles gratefully and nods before following Dad out, and then Ashley smacks the back of my head.

"What the hell was that for?" I whisper offensively.

She gapes at me.

"Oh, I dunno, for telling your mom to ask me about my shitty waitress job and then go on about Maggie Gyllenhaal's boobs for god's sake!" she says, trying to keep her voice down.

"How the hell was I supposed to know where she was going to take it?"

"What the hell possessed you to ask me about my job? I'm not a fucking big time career-driven..." she gestures vaguely, trying to find a word before letting the sentence just fade out and settling for glaring at me and smacking me again.

I start picking plates from the table and shoving them into her hands in an effort to protect myself from permanent brain damage.

"I was trying to take the subject away from relationship statuses, for your sake," I whisper defensively, and she rolls her eyes.

"Oh, yes, thank you so very much, now your mom thinks I'm like... Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when I'm actually a waitress."

I go to retort but then pause and think, furrowing my eyebrows.

"Wait, wasn't she a hooker in Pretty Woman? So being a waitress is actually a step up from-"

I stop short after noticing the glare on her face.


I grab the rest of the dirty dishes and lead her into the kitchen, scrapping off leftovers into the trash and filling up the sink to let them soak. She hasn't said anything else to me yet, and to be frank, I'm still a little puzzled as to why she's so pissed. I'd ask her, but I kind of like not having any broken bones.

She's doing that thing people do, I don't know how to explain it, where they make noises and mutter things as if to let the world know they're pissed off without having to say it. Does that make sense? She's huffing and puffing and grumbling less than pleasant words under her breath, and I'm torn between being mildly frightened and extremely entertained. God knows I'd never tell her the latter, though.

I guess the anger finally boils over as she begins shooting me dirty looks, and after about the tenth one, I foolishly spit out an annoyed "What?"

She narrows her eyes and takes a deep breath, and just as she's about to let me have it, Dad yells for us to hurry up, his show's coming on and we don't want to miss it. (Trust me, his words, not mine. I don't give very many shits about whatever it is he's wanting to watch.) She gives me a look that so clearly informs me we'll be continuing this later, and stalks past me into the living room.


I sigh deeply and follow behind her, wondering how this supposed-to-be-fun trip went to shit so fast. Is it really that big of a deal? No, but, god love her, Ashley's (if you can't tell) in the habit of being melodramatic from time to time. A lot of the time, actually. And sometimes it's cute. And sometimes it's not. She's teetering on the line right now.

She's sitting on the loveseat with her arms crossed, legs crossed, foot bopping up and down and eyes burning holes in the television screen as she pointedly ignores me as I sit next to her. I nudge her gently with my shoulder and her head spins around so fast it's a wonder she didn't snap her neck.

I throw my hands up in playful surrender and scoot a bit away from her and the fury that seems to radiate from her very bones. Jesus christ this weekend was obviously a bad idea.

Dad and Mom are so engulfed in whatever this retarded game show is that it kind of feels like a remake of Matilda in here. Ashley's staring at the tv too, but judging from the way her jaw is twitching and her foot that is bopping up and down with increasing speed, I'm willing to bet she's not exactly paying attention to it.

It's dark in here (Dad refuses to watch television with any other light on, something about the glare taking away from the 'experience of it'), so I reach over and thread my fingers loosely through Ashley's, careful to keep them hidden from view. She shoots me another look but, thankfully, doesn't pull away, and I'm almost ready to write this off as a victory despite the fact that her jaw is still twitching and she's probably exerting a lot of effort in not punching me. I absentmindedly trace circles on her palm, knowing how it tickles her, and grin when I see her biting her cheek to keep from chuckling.

The tv show drags on and on, with Mom and Dad initiating random conversations during the commercial breaks, and finally, finally it ends, just as I'm yawning and wondering how much longer I can remain conscious.

Dad stands up, stretching and groaning as his back cracks, Mom rolls her eyes, and Ashley laughs quietly at the two of them.

"Well, kiddos, this old man is headed to bed. I trust I'll see you both bright and early for breakfast, yeah?"

I grin and nod, "Wouldn't miss it for the world, Dad."

Ashley offers a polite smile and a, "Yes, sir," and Mom stands up, yawning just as wide as I was moments ago.

"Alright then, girls, I'll wake up in the morning," she says, smiling at Ashley, "It was lovely having dinner with you tonight."

"Same here, Mrs. Carlin," is Ashley's reply, along with her best smile, "Good night."

Mom and Dad head for the stairs, bickering about something stupid, and we've yet to move. It's quiet for a moment before I ask, "So, you ready for bed?"

She nods, "We sharing the bed or is one of us couching it tonight?"

I roll my eyes, standing up and pulling her along behind me, making my way to the stairs, "We're sharing the bed, moron."

She snorts, "You're lucky I'm not making you sleep on the couch."

I turn around as I make my way up the stairs, scoffing lightly, "As if you could 'make' me do that in my own parents' house."

"I could if I wanted to."

"Well, it's a good thing you don't want to. You'd embarrass yourself trying."

She elbows me in the ribs as she pushes past me into my room, "Whatever, Carlin."

She begins opening her bags, pulling out pajamas and heading for the bathroom, when I grab her hand and pull her back around to me.

"Are you really gonna change in the bathroom? It's not like I haven't seen you with little to no clothing on," I say, grinning cheekily and wrapping my arms around her waist.

"I'm going to brush my teeth, dimwit, I sense that you're not familiar with the process."

I kiss her cheek and smile.

"You mean you're not into tar build up and funk breath?"

She looks repulsed.

"That's gross."

"Come on, just throw your pajamas on and get in bed with me. I've been waiting for this moment since we arrived. I don't care if you've still got porkchops in your teeth. I happen to find that attractive."

She crinkles her nose at me and escapes my grasp, waving with her back turned as she heads out into the hall.

"I'll be back soon, Shrek."

I laugh lightly to myself and change into my pajamas before crawling in bed, stretching out, and letting out a content sigh.

I've just closed my eyes to really savor the moment before, "Um, are you going to move?"

I crack an eye open to see Ashley standing over top of me, looking expectant, "Um, what?"

"You're on my side."

Now I open both eyes just so I can roll them.

"Um, no, special ed, you always sleep on the left side of the bed."

She looks at me like I'm an idiot.

"In your bed. It's facing the opposite direction."

"Ashley. Face the bed. Hold up your left hand. Then enter on that side of the bed."

I close my eyes again and attempt to fall back into a doze before she clears her throat.

"What now?"

She gapes at me, "What do you mean 'what now?'? It's the same 'what' that we just discussed. I'm not getting in that bed until you scoot over."

I throw an arm over my eyes and groan, "Ashley, you're being retarded. I sleep on the right side of the bed. You sleep on the left. Regardless of which fucking direction the bed is facing, that doesn't change."

She puts a hand on her hip and cocks an eyebrow at me, "Move."

"I'm not moving. You're being childish."

"You're being stubborn. Just move over so I can go to sleep. I'm tired."

I look at her, waiting for a sign that she's joking, before I eventually surrender and roll over to the other side of the bed and feel it dip down as she gets in next to me.

She scoots over next to me and throws an arm around my waist, smiling sweetly at me.

"I love you, Spence."

Is it PMS? Is that the deal with her moods?

"Despite the fact that you've given your mom the false image that I'm involved in some high flying business and this will no doubt come back later to bite us both in the ass quite painfully."

I roll my eyes, mentally anyway, seeing as how I really don't want to be smothered in my sleep.

"Let it go, Ash. And I love you, too."

She kisses me gently and I try sneaking a hand up her shirt, grinning suggestively against her mouth, before she swats my hand away.

"Not a chance in hell, sweetie."