I have ongoing fics that are in dire need of an update, I know, but this has been sitting on my laptop for a while and with the fandom dying out, I figured I should just begin posting the new material I have. Updates should come regularly. It's at 97K at the moment, so I'm quite a bit ahead. I think this story really kicks in at about chapter six, but every chapter has been fun to write, even if some have been a total pain in the ass, lol.
Thanks so much for all your previous reviews and alerts. I still get messages about past fics, so that's always lovely and very much appreciated. Cheers, guys.
Little size twelve feet rushed down the stairs and headed straight for the kitchen. It was barely seven o'clock in the morning and the small brunette was almost climbing the walls. She pulled open the drawer her candy was always kept in and frowned. It was gone.
Ashley's eyes rolled. She wasn't going to fall for that again. Deciding on a course of action, she crossed the room quickly and dragged a chair back with her. Standing on it for height, Ashley pulled open the cupboard doors and smiled when she found what her parents had so clearly tried to hide from her sitting right at the back of the cupboard behind the large jar of peanut butter.
"Mom, I'm going to see Spencer!" she yelled upstairs to her mother over the sound of the chair being dragged back over to the table.
"No, sweetie. Wait for mommy!"
"Okay," she drawled out unconvincingly as she went about unlocking the back door as quietly as possible.
"Ashley, I mean it. It's too early!"
The door was pulled open. "I said okay!" she shouted back.
Ashley looked down and turned her arm, watching the thinnest hand tick the seconds on her watch. She let it move five times before she impatiently rushed from her house to the one next door. It took her until she reached the grass to realise she'd forgotten to put shoes on, and pulled a face when the early morning dew began to soak through her socks.
Her small fist knocked on the door quickly, and she grinned when she saw who was on the other side of it. She barged inside. "Morning, Spence."
The blonde closed the door quietly and ran to catch up with Ashley who was already almost in the kitchen. "Hey, Ash."
"Where is everyone?"
Spencer shrugged. "Still asleep, no doubt," she answered her as she walked over to the counter. "I was just making juice, you want some?"
"Not if it's got bits."
Turning around with her small cup of juice, Spencer smiled to Ashley who was standing with her hands behind her back. "What's in your hands?"
"Something for me and something for you. I found them when my mom took me to get groceries last night."
Blue eyes widened in excitement before she grinned and put her cup back on the counter top. "What is it?"
Ashley walked forward and placed the large item into the blonde's small hand. "It's called a Ringpop. It's candy. You put it on your finger and wear it as a ring, but you can eat it, too."
Spencer gasped and threw her arms around her best friend. "I love it!"
"You gotta hide it," she said with a big smile, hugging her back. She loved when Spencer gave her a hug. "Mom tried to hide them so I wouldn't eat mine for breakfast."
"Where should I hide it? Glen might find it..."
"Hide it where I'm hiding mine," the brunette answered as she pulled back from her and set off in the direction of the living room.
Watching her go, Spencer rushed across the room to grab her cup of orange juice and made a face when it tipped over, spilling over her arm and onto the floor. "Great," she whispered to herself.
"Spence, bring the Cheerios in!" Ashley yelled in a whisper, pushing the button on the remote until she found the cartoons.
"Kay!" she whispered back.
A few seconds later, Spencer hurried into the living room with her arms full and kneeled next to Ashley, pushing her arm out towards her. "I couldn't carry the milk and spoons."
"It's okay. They're better dry, anyway," Ashley said as she pulled the box from her arms. "Why's your arm wet?"
She put her drink on the floor next to them both and shrugged. "I spilled some of my juice."
Ashley craned her neck and looked to the couch behind her. There was a crisp white shirt just draped across the arm of the couch. "What's that doing there?"
"That's just daddy's shirt for work. Mom has to get the creases out before he can wear it," she answered, leaning closer to Ashley to undo the box of cereal.
Pulling the shirt down to the floor, Ashley rolled it up and wiped it across Spencer's arm until it was dry. "My feet are wet, too," she told her. "Forgot to put my shoes on."
"Who forgets to put their shoes on?"
"Me," the brunette replied, not doing anything to hide her impish smile as she lay back on the floor, sticking her foot in her friend's face. "Mom was like, 'Ashley it's too early to see Spencer, she'll be sleeping!'" she told her, putting on a voice to imitate her mother's. "And I'm like, 'whatever, mom, who knows Spencer better: me or you?', and then I just forgot to put my shoes on before I ran over here."
As she was drying one of her feet, Spencer laughed. "You didn't say that."
Ashley smirked and pushed her now dry foot into Spencer's face, wiggling her toes all over her cheek. "You don't know that."
Her foot was quickly slapped away before the other one was wiped clean and dry from Mr. Carlin's shirt. Once it was flung away from them, both girls moved next to each other, sitting close enough for their thighs to be touching. They were crunching on small handfuls of Cheerios when Spencer wiped a sticky hand across her knee and looked to her candy on the coffee table.
"When are we going to hide our Ringpops?" left her lips impatiently. "'Cause it's light and everyone's gonna wake up."
Ashley shovelled the last of her cereal into her mouth and moved her head from left to right as she chewed quickly. "I'm going to hide mine in there," she said, pointing a finger to her stomach.
"Didn't Christine say you couldn't have it for breakfast?"
She shrugged, undoing the wrapper to the candy. "I didn't have it for breakfast. I had Cheerios, remember?"
Unable to help herself, Spencer smiled at her friend's mischievous tone and followed suit, unwrapping her candy. "We have to eat 'em quick. Since its summer vacation, mom keeps giving me strawberries and stuff for breakfast."
"I know, that's why I got you a strawberry one," Ashley said as she slid her Ringpop onto her finger and raised it to her lips. "Mine's grape."
"It looks expensive..." Spencer murmured before she had her first taste.
Ashley nodded as a response, suddenly absorbed in her candy and the episode of Tom and Jerry that was on.
"I know," she replied smugly, turning to look at her.
Five minutes later, engrossed in cartoons, the smile on Spencer's face fell away when she heard someone knocking on the front door. She glanced to the door and then back to Ashley. "Do you think that's your mom?"
"Probably." Ashley sighed. "I don't want to go."
"I don't want you to go, either."
"I'll hide!" she exclaimed in a whisper as she stood up.
Quickly following suit, Spencer got to her feet and watched as Ashley found her hiding spot behind the curtains. "Be quiet," she whispered to her, walking over to the door.
As she got closer, the knocking became a little harder and more insistent. She opened the door quickly, not wanting the sound to wake her parents, or worse —Glen. She swallowed thickly when she saw who was on the other side of the door. It was Ashley's mother.
Spencer held her hand behind her back and greeted the woman with an innocent smile. "Good morning."
Looking down to the small child, Christine couldn't help but smile. Spencer was still wearing her PJ's and her blonde hair was in disarray. Her tongue was also stained red. "Good morning Spencer."
Spencer's grin fell away slowly. She used the tone, the one that said she was busted. "Uh, if you're here to see my mom, she's still sleeping."
"I'm not here to see your mom, sweetie. I'm looking for Ashley."
She shook her head emphatically. "Ashley's not here."
"Can I come in for a minute?"
"But...no-one is up."
"I won't stay long, I promise," she assured her.
Swallowing thickly, Spencer had no choice but to nod and allow her inside.
Christine walked into the living room and took one look to the carpet. A box of cheerios, a dirty white shirt, an empty cup, two candy wrappers, and Ashley's wet and dirty socks lay in front of the sofa. She turned to look at the guilt-ridden face of the seven-year-old behind her. She was still holding her hand behind her back. "Show me your hand?"
Spencer quickly waved her hand in the air for Ashley's mother to see.
"And the other?"
Her eyes widened. "It fell off."
"It fell off?" she asked, amused.
"Let me see your hand, Spencer."
The young girl exhaled heavily and revealed her hand to Christine, showing her the piece of red candy sitting atop her middle finger. She hoped her own mother didn't ground her when she found out.
Christine shook her head and sighed. Ashley was quite obviously hiding. Looking around the room, she rolled her eyes when she saw the toes of her only child poking out from underneath the curtains and walked over to her. She heard Ashley's breath catch as she stood directly in front of her and slowly pulled the material to the side, exposing her four feet tall daughter.
Ashley looked up to her mother unsurely. "Hi?"
She looked to the candy on Ashley's finger. "I thought I said no candy for breakfast."
"I didn't have candy for breakfast. I had Cheerios."
"You had cereal for breakfast?" she asked disbelievingly, crossing her arms.
Ashley nodded, smiling over to an unsure-looking Spencer. "Didn't we, Spence? Tell her we had cereal."
Spencer nodded. "It's true, we did."
Walking over to her, Ashley put her arm around Spencer's shoulders and stared at her mother. "See? Now you can't do anything," she said smugly. She was showing off a little bit.
"Don't you speak to me like that. I said not to come over here and you ignored me." She pointed to the door. "Home. Now."
"Can't she stay?" Spencer asked Christine hopefully. "Please?"
"No, honey. You'll see her later." She looked to Ashley. "Say goodbye, Ashley."
Ashley gave Spencer a quick hug and pulled back with sparkling eyes. "Goodbye Ashley," she said to her, delighting in the way Spencer burst out laughing.
When her mother put her hand on her back and began pushing her towards the door, Ashley turned around and waved with a smile, smiling even wider when Spencer held up her hand and mouthed 'thank you' while pointing to her ring.
Inhaling deeply, Ashley stared the door in front of her and rolled her eyes up towards the sky, exhaling cautiously. Her closed fist knocked on the door like it had done every day since she could remember, except it had long lost its hurried pace.
The familiar sound of the lock being undone caused a polite smile to appear on her face right in time to see who was on the other side. "What's up, Doc?"
The older blonde woman smiled fondly. Paula Carlin adored Ashley Davies. "Morning, Ashley. How are you?"
She shrugged. "It's Monday. Prison calls."
"Spencer said the same thing not five minutes ago," Paula said as she leaned against the doorframe. "I'm telling you, you'll both miss the simplicity of that place once you graduate."
"I find it difficult to trust you implicitly when you say things like that, Paula," the brunette said, a teasing smirk on her face. "So, is she almost ready? We're going to be late if she doesn't put a rocket up her ass."
Spencer walked into view and stared at the girl waiting for her. "Unnecessary."
"Unlikely." It was true, they didn't have time to waste unless Spencer was comfortable being marked down as tardy, and Ashley knew she wasn't.
Blue eyes glanced to the clock before the younger blonde adjusted the straps to her backpack and checked her teeth in the mirror by the door. She leaned forward to kiss her mother's cheek. "See you tonight," she said tiredly, wanting nothing more than to get back into her bed. Sleep hadn't come easily lately.
Paula watched them head off for school with a smile, remembering the days when she would head to school every morning with Christine. They'd been best friends since they were sixteen and had both fallen pregnant at twenty-four with girls. Their daughters were going to be best friends too and judging by the smiles and carefree laughs already escaping them, they still were. Even now.
Nearing the end of the driveway and out of earshot from her mother, Spencer looked Ashley from head to foot and smiled. "Laundry day?"
The brunette smiled and glanced to her face a second later. "Halloween?"
"Your fake laugh is so obvious."
"Yet none of our parents notices it." She shrugged casually. "I guess I still have the angelic face of a seven-year-old. It's a burden, I swear."
Spencer raised her brows and let out a short laugh of mockery. "Your face was never angelic."
"No? How would you describe it?"
"Most days, retarded. Occasionally, inbred."
Mindful of Mrs. Carlin's eyes still on them, Ashley smiled widely and gently bumped into the blonde's arm. "Oh Spencer, you do have a death wish."
"It only comes out when I'm with you. Go figure."
"There's one thing we actually agree on," she said as she looked behind, her tone almost in awe. It was gone in a second. "Why is your mom still looking? This isn't the first time we've walked to school."
No, that number was in the thousands.
Spencer drew her eyebrows closer together and looked back to see her mother watching them. As she turned around, she allowed her eyes to travel down the brunette's exposed legs. "Maybe she's trying to figure out why you're wearing a belt as a skirt?"
"It's called fashion."
"It's called fall in Ohio. You want pneumonia, or something?"
"You can't ever give someone a simple answer, can you?" Spencer asked, mildly annoyed.
"Where's the fun in that?"
She pulled her backpack tighter against her body. "If Sheriff Pete sees you, he's going to think you're a hooker."
"And what's he going to do about it? Give me a disapproving head-shake? The fossil is weeks away from retirement, he doesn't scare me."
"You love Sheriff Pete."
Ashley turned to look at her. "Used to."
"Oh, right, I forgot; you 'changed'," she said derisively, air-quoting the last word.
"Things changed, so I did."
"So it wasn't your fault?"
"That's an interesting way to look at it."
"It's the only way to look at it," Ashley replied nonchalantly, looking down to the last house on the street. It was still unoccupied; had been for a month.
Spencer shivered as the wind picked up and tugged upwards on the zip to her red jacket. Ohio had just had one of the hottest summers in two decades and the drop in temperature was still difficult to get used to. Her feet absentmindedly kicked a pebble as she reached into her pocket.
Hearing the crinkle of a wrapper, Ashley's attention was pulled from the old house to Spencer. She raised her eyebrows at the sight almost instantly. "It's a little early to be rotting your teeth, isn't it?"
Ignoring her, Spencer slid the strawberry-flavoured Ringpop onto her index finger and used her free hand to put the wrapper in her backpack. Ashley had never cared what time she ate candy before. It was just another excuse to begin yet another fight.
Ashley waved her hand in front of the blonde's face. "Earth to Miss Ignorant."
She raised her hand with the candy on. "You know, I'm suddenly remembering the time I hit you and almost broke one of your teeth with these things."
"You really want to open that can of worms? 'Cause believe me, I—"
"No," Spencer cut in softly, looking at her as if for the first time. "I don't want to do anything with you."
Inexpressive brown eyes stared back for several seconds until she shrugged carelessly. "An early Christmas present?"
"Yeah, for me."
"Just...shut your mouth," Spencer settled on. "Why is it so difficult for you to understand the concept of silence? I have no desire to talk to you, or even breathe the same air. So either stop talking or stop breathing. I'll let you pick."
Ashley was irritated. "What's difficult for me to understand is why we're still putting on this lame-ass show of 'Best Friends Forever'. It's been long enough. Things change. People change."
"Every single day."
Spencer rolled her eyes and looked away quickly. "God, that's so typical coming from you."
"People never change. They might seem like they have but it has to have always been there. Nobody just changes overnight."
Ashley almost smirked. "Do you know how naive you sound right now? I'm a little embarrassed for you."
As they both rounded the corner —away from any prying eyes— to the next street, the blonde shrugged. "I don't sound naive at all," she answered, picking up her pace to pass Ashley. "And if one of us should be embarrassed of them self, it's you."
"What was that?" Ashley raised her voice over the sudden gust of wind. "I couldn't hear you due to the extreme shock of you walking away!"
With a clenched jaw Spencer kept her pace and swiftly lifted her arm in the air, raising one choice finger to the girl behind her.