A/N I have some good news and bad news for you guys. Good news: Here's another extra long chapter for you. Bad news: I'm finally taking the trip that was cancelled back in March. I'm leaving on Saturday and won't be able to update again for a few weeks.

I'm always going to say thanks for being awesome readers because I want you to know how much I appreciate your support of my writing. I will be responding to feedback from the last two chapters once this has been posted.

See you again at the beginning of July :)

Chapter 26

Spencer was staring up at the ceiling in Ashley's bedroom. She'd been awake about a half an hour and was trying not to disturb her girlfriend. Spencer felt absolutely horrible. Her head was pounding while her eyes burned. The emotional turmoil that she'd been through, and was still experiencing, weighed heavily on her heart and mind.

When she'd checked her phone she found a message from Glen. He apologized for not being available earlier. He was traveling with his university's basketball team. Spencer rolled her eyes at his response, especially considering he didn't bother to ask how she was doing. She guessed because she'd told him that their dad was going to be fine, Glen didn't feel the need to be inconvenienced by coming home or calling his sister.

The pain that the blonde normally suppressed was now unobstructed and pounding in her chest. That was probably the reason why she wasn't able to sleep anymore. No matter what she did, she couldn't get rid of that feeling. It wavered from being tolerable to leaving her breathless in pain.

Selfishly she wanted to wake Ashley up, but so far she resisted that urge. It wasn't fair to burden Ashley any more than she had already, she told herself. Deep down, Spencer knew that the brunette would not consider her a burden. It wasn't easy accepting that people could be there for you when almost everyone else in Spencer's life had abandoned her.

Spencer turned on her side, her focus falling on Ashley's serene-looking face. Eventually, Spencer's need to feel something good, for a change, overrode her good intentions, and she reached out and gently touched her girlfriend's arm. Within seconds, Ashley's eyes flickered open. When they came in to focus, Spencer sighed. "Hey," she whispered. Spencer was going to apologize for disturbing Ashley, but she wasn't really sorry.

"Hey," Ashley replied sleepily. She stretched her body out in an effort to shake off how groggy she felt. "What time is it?"

"A little after one," Spencer's voice remained quiet.

"Everything OK?" Ashley asked through a yawn. She was doing her best to be alert, but she wasn't able to quite shake off how little sleep she'd gotten.

Spencer nodded her head at first, but then she decided to say what was actually on her mind. She'd been thinking about this ever since she'd first opened her eyes. "I mean, I'm still waiting to call the hospital to see if my dad is out of ICU, but…" she paused when Ashley put her hand over hers. She exhaled loudly before continuing what she was in the middle of saying. "I can't do this anymore."

"What?" Ashley questioned loudly. She shot up and almost immediately adrenalin started coursing through her veins. She had a fear that Spencer might try and pull away but was hoping that would not happen. "Why? What happened that you can't do-"

"Whoa, stop," Spencer cut in when she realized what the brunette must have been thinking. She scooted closer to Ashley. "I'm not talking about us."

"Oh," Ashley said, her heart rate slowing down a little bit. "Oh, that's good because-"

"I know," Spencer said softly, her face breaking out into a small smile. She didn't mean to scare the other girl, but she did take some comfort in how much Ashley wanted to be with her. "I meant with my dad. I can't go through this again, Ash, I just can't."

Ashley reached over to tuck some of Spencer's hair behind her ear. She loved any excuse to touch the girl she loved. "I understand, but what does that mean exactly? Are you not going to visit him?" She hoped her question didn't come across the wrong way and put the blonde on the defensive.

"I don't know." Spencer switched positions so she was on her back and looking up at the ceiling again. She had been trying to figure out what she wanted and what she was going to do with little success. All she knew for sure was that she couldn't have another night like the night before. It was too much to go through and she wasn't sure she could handle it again.

"Whatever you decide, Spence, you have my support. Whatever you need or whatever you have to do, I'm there for you. And I'm sure the same goes for Sean." It was important to Ashley that the blonde understand she wasn't alone. "Look, we both feel like crap and probably need copious amounts of coffee. Why don't we go get something to eat and talk about what happens next."

"Sounds like a plan," Spencer replied, not moving. Then, as if she was working up the courage, she turned on her side so she was face to face with Ashley. Feeling uncharacteristically shy, Spencer was looking around to avoid eye contact with the brunette. Words spoken in the heat of the moment or under the cover of darkness were very different in the harsh light of day. But no matter how scared she was, Spencer was determined not to let her fear screw up the best thing that had happened to her in a very long time.

That being said, it still wasn't easy for her open up and be vulnerable. In her head the words sounded awkward and out of place. As soon as her eyes connect with Ashley's though, all her misgivings and anxiety seemed to melt away. "I, uh, I love you."

Ashley's expression went from concern to delight in an instant. Spencer had sent her heart racing for the second time that morning, but for very different reason. "I love you too," she replied, her voice soft and eyes on the verge of tears. When Spencer was looking at her the way she was looking at her right then, it made everything else seem unimportant.

Almost involuntarily, Spencer's hand went to Ashley's cheek and the feeling that elicited in both girls made them smile at each other. They might not be able to block out their problems for long, but they could enjoy a moment just for them. Ashley brushed her lips against Spencer's and it wasn't long before the blonde was on top of her, their kissing intensifying.

It was a welcomed reprieve from the uncertainty they had to face.


Spencer had never pegged herself as the hold-your-girlfriend's-hand-in-public type of girl. In all fairness, she had never imagined that she'd even have a girlfriend in the first place. But here she was, walking towards her dad's hospital room, clutching Ashley's hand like she was never going to let go. She was on edge and needed the brunette to help bring her back from there.

She had already survived going back to her house and having to see the place where her dad had fallen. Ashley had explained to Spencer that she and Sean had arranged for Spencer's house to be cleaned. Ashley didn't want the blonde to have to walk in on what they'd left behind. Spencer was touched that the two of them would think of doing that for her. It also allowed her to get changed in her own clothes instead of having to borrow something from the brunette.

They'd met Sean for lunch once so they could all talk about what Spencer was going to do. It hadn't been an easy discussion, mostly because Spencer hated talking about her feelings, but she needed to flesh out a game plan before she saw her dad. Sean had offered to come to the hospital but Spencer told him it wasn't necessary. She'd see him after they were done.

Ashley stayed silent as she walked along with the blonde. She had a feeling that Spencer needed the silence and there wasn't much say anyway. They had decided what Spencer was going to do, now it was time for her to follow through. When they reached the room they were told Arthur was in, Ashley kissed the blonde's hand before she let go. "I'll be waiting right here for you."

Spencer nodded in agreement. Her stomach was buzzing and her throat suddenly parched. It was just nerves but that didn't stop the blonde from feeling sick to her stomach. She opened the door to her dad's room before she had the chance to chicken out. It might not even matter, she thought to herself as she walked inside the room. Her dad might be sleeping or be in no condition to talk.

"Spence!" Arthur was excited when he saw who had come to visit him. He didn't remember much about the previous night but he had the sense that his daughter wasn't happy with him. To be fair, that was a feeling he often had when it came to the blonde. "It's so good to see you."

Spencer shut the door behind her, as the ability to breathe became almost impossible. She had been agonizing over her decision as well as worrying about her dad for what felt like a lifetime and he looked like he was beaming. There was a bandage wrapped around his head and some cuts around his face. It made Spencer want to look away. He was looking pleased and that didn't sit well with the blonde.

Arthur ignored the fact that Spencer wasn't smiling. In a move that was likely over compensation, he decided to be cheery enough for both of them. "I guess your old man's head is a lot harder than we thought," he joked. He started to chuckle but Spencer did not join in with him. "Well I've always been told that I'm hard headed and I guess-"

"Stop, just stop," Spencer said, finally finding her voice. She was standing by the door, her arms folded in defiance and anger. "Nothing about this is funny."

"I know that," Arthur replied trying to look contrite. "I was just trying to make you laugh a little. That's all."

"I don't want to laugh right now," Spencer told her dad sternly. This wasn't the time for jokes or fooling around. "Do you have any idea what you put me through? And I don't just mean last night. Do you know what it's like for me, living with you?"

"Come on, Spence, it's not that bad-"

"Yes it is." Spencer said through gritted teeth. She reached inside herself for the strength to get out what she had to get out. "You're not the only one hurting here, but you're all I've got."

Arthur tried to interrupt but his daughter wasn't having any of it.

"I lost Clay just like you did. I lost mom too. And if you don't stop drinking I'm going to lose you as well." Spencer could felt her insides quiver; she had never been direct with her dad like this. "I can't lose you, and I can't watch you self destruct."

The smile was gone from Arthur's face and he was no longer smiling. "I think you're overreacting. Yes, I like to have a drink or two-"

"I said, stop." Spencer wasn't going to let her dad speak until she was done. This was hard enough as it was with him trying to get her sidetracked. "This isn't a drink or two, you're an alcoholic and I won't be a part of it anymore. You have no idea what your drinking does to me or how much I worry about you. When you're home I'm scared that you're going to do something like what happened last night, and when you're gone I'm terrified you're going to get hurt or, worse, hurt someone else.

"If you come home from the hospital, I won't be there. I know I'm not eighteen yet, but that's just a technicality. You need to get help, and if you don't you'll be on your own. I'm done."

The silence that followed Spencer's declaration hung in the air. Spencer didn't know if she could talk anymore without crying and Arthur had no idea what to say. They were at a stalemate and one of them had to break it.

"Come on, Spence, don't do this," Arthur pleaded. He was still trying to wrap his head around the fact that he had ended up in the hospital. He couldn't deal with what his daughter was telling him. It was too much.

Spencer wasn't going to be moved or swayed from the decision she'd made. It wasn't easy but knowing that Ashley and Sean had agreed with her, helped immensely. They both promised that if Arthur didn't get help, they'd make sure between the two of them that she had a place to stay. "I'm not doing this, you are."

"I'm sorry that you worry about me, but you don't need to. I'm fine." Arthur was going to do or say whatever was necessary to keep running from his problems. "I was clumsy and fell down. That's all."

"You're not fine!" Spencer fired back, her anger and frustration coming back to her. She had tried to remain calm, but that wasn't possible anymore. "You went flying down the stairs and cracked your head open because you're a drunk. That's what you are!"

"Don't yell at me," Arthur ordered. He was on the defensive and needed to gain control over things.

Spencer took a few steps towards her dad's bed. She felt enraged and sad at the same time. "I can't believe you won't admit what happened. I mean, I shouldn't be surprised, because all you do is ignore your problems and drown them out with alcohol."

"Stop it!" Arthur demanded. He rarely raised his voice at anyone, let alone one of his kids, but he was desperate. He couldn't stand to see how upset Spencer was getting. "If you want to talk about this rationally, fine, but this is getting out of hand."

With the look of defiance in her dad's eyes, Spencer realized that what she was telling him was having no affect whatsoever. Her anger dissipated and was replaced by a feeling of defeat. He clearly wasn't getting the message she was giving him.

"There's nothing to talk about," Spencer said as tears started to fall. She hated that he was seeing her cry. "I need my dad, and you're clearly not that guy anymore."

She wanted to say goodbye but couldn't get the word out. She was too devastated by how badly their conversation had gone. Spencer turned her back on her dad and walked out the door. She needed to get out of the hospital and as far away from him as possible.

Ashley shot to her feet as soon as she saw Spencer. She didn't need to ask how things went because of how upset the blonde looked. She pulled Spencer in for a hug and rubbed the other girl's back to try and calm her down. It was difficult to see the girl she loved so hurt.

But just as quickly as she had broken down, Spencer worked on closing her feelings back up. She didn't want to cry over a man that didn't care enough about her and his own well-being to get help. She brushed the last of her tears away and moved away from Ashley's embrace.

"Let's get out of here," she said, her voice strong.

Ashley led the blonde out of the hospital and back to her car. She had hoped that Arthur would come around and see that he needed to address his issues. That clearly wasn't the case so all Ashley could do now, was be there for Spencer. At least they had a time to figure out what they were going to do because Arthur wasn't going to be released for a few days.

She'd meant what she'd told Spencer earlier that day, she wasn't going to be out on the streets with nowhere to go. She'd find a way to keep the blonde safe. And with Sean pledging the same thing, Ashley felt better. Between the two of them they were going to make sure that she didn't have to live with her dad and deal with his drinking.

It all sounded easy in theory, but nothing about this going to be easy. Spencer might not have her family which was nearly impossible to deal with. What she did have was two people who loved her and would make sure she was taken care of. That was a start at least.

Ashley took the blonde back to her house and they were soon joined by Sean. He also didn't need an explanation for what happened because as soon as he saw Spencer's face, he had a clear idea of what had gone down. He gave his friend a hug and then made an inappropriate joke to get her to laugh.

That set the theme for the day. Ashley and Sean did whatever they could to cheer Spencer up, and Spencer pretended for their sakes that it was working. It wasn't that she was ungrateful for what the two of them were doing for her. It was more that she couldn't believe everything that had happened over the last day. It was a lot for her to take in.

They watched movies, played video games and basically did everything they could to avoid the one topic that Spencer didn't want to think about. Eventually Sean left even though he didn't really want to go. He was worried about his friend. At least he knew he was leaving her in good hands.

When Spencer couldn't keep her eyes open anymore, Ashley insisted they head up to bed. The brunette wasn't going to push Spencer to talk about what was going on in her head. It was obvious the other girl was hurting, so all Ashley could do for her was just give her whatever comfort she needed.

Spencer was physically and emotionally exhausted. It still hadn't sunk in that she'd laid down an ultimatum to her dad and he hadn't listened to her. It was all so unsettling.

When they got into bed, Spencer curled into the brunette. It was difficult for Spencer to feel this weak and needy. But she also recognized that now was not the time to push Ashley away—or Sean for that matter. Things could be a lot worse for her if she really was all alone.

Ashley kissed the top of Spencer's head while holding her close. For the second time that day, Ashley waited for Spencer to fall asleep first. When she heard the sound of the blonde's steady breathing, she closed her eyes. She hoped that tomorrow would bring a better day for Spencer.


"What time is Sean getting here?" Ashley asked Spencer as she lay on the blonde's bed. They had been up a couple of hours but Ashley hadn't gotten up yet. Spencer had started playing video games as soon she she'd woken up and the brunette was content just to watch her play. They were saving the heavy conversation of what to do when Arthur returned home for when Sean arrived.

Spencer shrugged even though she wasn't sure Ashley was looking at her. She was happy to have something to do besides worry. She appreciated so much that Ashley wasn't being pushy or insist they have a heart-to heart conversation. Spencer wanted to forget how shitty her life was for the time being. She was focused on the screen that she didn't hear Ashley move on the bed behind her.

She gave a startled yelp when she felt the brunette's hands on her shoulders, but that soon changed to an appreciative moan when Ashley started massaging her. It felt amazing to have Ashley touch her that Spencer wondered why she hadn't used this as the distraction she needed instead of video games. She was just about to turn around and kiss her girlfriend when her phone rang. Letting out a sigh, Spencer went to answer it despite not recognizing the number on her call display.

Ashley couldn't hear who was on the other end of the line, but she felt the blonde tense up almost immediately. That kyboshed any plans she might have had to kiss Spencer's neck like she really wanted to do. It wasn't her fault that it had been far too long since her lips had touched the soft skin of the blonde's neck. It was one of Ashley's favourite places to kiss.

"Yeah, that's fine," Spencer said before she ended the call. Her stomach was back to being full of knots as her anxiety shot up. She turned around so she was looking right at Ashley. She didn't know what to make of the call she'd just received. "That was my dad. He wants to see me."

"Did he say why?" Ashley asked as all sorts of thoughts rushed through her head. This had to be a good sign, right?

Spencer joined the brunette on her bed. She didn't want to get her hopes up or to read too much into her dad's call. She had been disappointed too much by him – and others – to let that happen. "No, he just wants me to come as soon as possible. That's all he said." Spencer glanced over at the picture of Clay she kept in her room, but quickly looked away. "He probably wants to discuss me moving out or something."

Ashley's immediate reaction was to admonish Spencer for being negative. But when she stopped to think about it for a second, she could understand why the blonde thought that way. "Well, if that's the case, allow me to tell you that, head injury or not, I will punch your dad."

Spencer smiled even with the nervousness that she felt. "Duly noted."

She messaged Sean to tell him she was heading over to the hospital. She told him she'd let him know when she was done and then they'd meet back at her house afterwards. Then the two girls got ready and headed out.

With a lot of trepidation, Spencer walked down the corridor towards the hospital room she'd left angrily not that long ago. She did not know what to expect and feared the worst. She left Ashley waiting for her in same spot as the day before. When the blonde got a look inside her dad's hospital room, it was worse than she ever imagined.

Her mother was there.

She wanted to grab Ashley and get as far away as possible from the hospital as possible. Seeing her mom was the absolute last thing she needed or wanted. As easy as it would have been to leave, Spencer wasn't going to do that. Not until she found out what her dad wanted anyway.

"Spencer!" her dad exclaimed when she finally entered his room. She wasn't the only one battling nerves. The past day had been very tough for Arthur. Not only because he had to face it mostly sober. He was on pain killers but it wasn't the same. He couldn't dull the constant ache in his chest that alcohol was able to dull. "Thank you so much for coming."

"Spencer," Paula said, with much less enthusiasm.

The blonde ignored her mom. She directed all of her attention to Arthur and Arthur alone. "You wanted to see me?"

"I know what you said to me yesterday wasn't easy for you," Arthur started after he'd sat up in his bed. "And I can tell you that it wasn't easy for me to hear. I've put you through a lot, Spence, and I wish I could make that up to you."

Spencer remained stoic and unmoved. She'd heard enough morning after apologies from her dad to last a lifetime.

"I've been talking to your mom about what I want to do." As difficult as that had been for Arthur, he was confident he was making the right decision. Spencer didn't deserve what he always put her through. "What I think is best for you."

Spencer didn't like where this was going. She was starting to get a really bad feeling about what her dad had decided. Never mind that she didn't seem to be getting a say in this matter.

Arthur couldn't stand the way his daughter was looking at him. He was the one to blame for the contempt in the blonde's eyes and he accepted that. It still didn't make him hate himself any less. "What I think is best for both of us, actually," he continued, sounding defeated. "I, uh, I spoke to some people this morning and, uh, I've decided that once I get the clearance from my doctor that I'm going to head to rehab."

Spencer was sure that she'd heard wrong. She'd been expecting bad news, not that she was going to get what she'd wanted. The weight that she'd been carrying around on her shoulders started to lighten almost immediately. She wanted to respond but her dad kept talking.

"And your mom has agreed to take you in while I'm gone," Arthur finished.

"What?" The good feeling that had come with Arthur's decision about rehab was immediately replaced with anger. And fear. "You have got to be fucking kidding me?"

"Watch your language!" Paula commanded, finally speaking up. Arthur's idea wasn't one she was pleased with either. In fact she'd tried to convince him to try out patient treatment at first because she knew that her daughter would cause havoc in her home. "I won't have you-"

"Shut your fucking mouth!" Spencer exploded with rage. How could her dad think that she could ever go and live with her mom? After all the things she'd done and after all she'd put Spencer through. There was no way she would ever feel safe staying with her and she wasn't going to go. There was no way in hell she was going to live with someone who thought she was a sinner and less than human.

"See, Arthur, this is what I was talking about. You've been far too soft on Spencer and look how she's turned out!" Paula said. She was tempted to smack her daughter again for being disrespectful but somehow managed to contain herself. "If you think I will tolerate this kind of behaviour in my house you are sadly mistaken."

"How could you?" Spencer asked her dad. She'd been betrayed by him before but this was different. "I won't go and if you try and make me I will leave. I don't care where I end up but I will never live with my sorry excuse for a mother again."

"You think I want you to come and live with me?" Paula was glowering at the blonde. "Believe me this is not what I want."

Arthur was torn. He understood where Spencer was coming from but he wasn't sure what else to do. He needed the opportunity to go to rehab and get sober to try and save his relationship with this daughter. However it seemed that if he went and left Spencer with Paula he'd lose her anyway. What he really craved in that moment was a drink. Instead he turned to Spencer. "Give your mom and me a few minutes, OK? We'll work something out."

"Fine, whatever," Spencer replied, anger bubbling inside her. She could not believe what was being proposed. But it didn't matter. Just like she'd told him, she wouldn't go and there was going to be no debate about it.

When Spencer exited her dad's room she was still enraged. It was so overwhelming she started to shake. Her frustration was at such a high level she almost felt like crying. She immediately sought out Ashley to help her deal with everything.

Ashley had been playing on her phone and didn't notice Spencer come and sit beside her until she spoke. The brunette was immediately concerned when saw the look on her girlfriend's face. "What happened?"

Spencer couldn't look at Ashley, even though she was seeking support from her. Her eyes were fixated on the wall as she spoke. "My dad wants to go to rehab."

"He does?" Ashley was puzzled. This was what they'd been hoping for yesterday. "That's great, Spence! But you're not happy, I don't underst-"

"He wants me to go live with my mom while he's away," Spencer cut in, still in disbelief. How could he think that would ever be an idea that she was going to be OK with?

"He does?" Ashley repeated loudly. "What the hell is he thinking? How could he even… I mean live with her? What the…" She couldn't get a coherent thought together as she tried to make sense of what Spencer had just told her. "That's a horrible idea."

"You're telling me," Spencer replied as she sunk into the chair she was sitting on. She felt even more lost then she had yesterday.

"This is just unacceptable!" Ashley declared. She was never going to let Spencer go with Paula. That wasn't an option. "That's not going to happen. I don't care what we have to do but you are not going to live with your mom. I'm serious, we'll hide you, or whatever. I don't care. I will find a way to-"

Spencer interrupted Ashley's rant by kissing the brunette hard. She weaved her fingers through Ashley's hair while she kept on kissing the other girl. This was a much better way to deal with her mom than getting angry. After a couple of minutes Spencer pulled back and rested her forehead against Ashley's. "You're adorable when you're ranting."

Ashley fought to catch her breath. "Remind me to rant more often then." Her comment earned her a smile. "We will figure something out, Spence, I promise you."

Spencer believed Ashley's promise. She was really starting to put her faith in the brunette.

They stayed huddled together while Spencer waited to be called back in her dad's room. Every so often they'd steal a kiss from each other, not caring who was around or what anybody thought.

"Must you do that here?" Paula not in a good mood to begin with and seeing her daughter and Ashley together like that didn't help matters.

"Must you always be such a bitch?" Spencer fired back. She purposefully moved closer to Ashley and made sure to hold her hand. "Guess neither of us can help it."

"Your father wants to talk to you," Paula said. The only reason she didn't tell Spencer off was because she wanted to leave the hospital as soon as possible. She wasn't going back to Arthur's room and that made her happy.

Spencer got up, but not before planting another kiss on Ashley. She smirked at her mother and then disappeared down the hallway.

Paula was about to walk away but Ashley's voice stopped her.

"You're such a hypocrite."

"Look, Ashley, I don't know what Spencer has told you but-"

"You sit there and judge Spencer and call her all sorts of awful things, but we both know the truth, don't we, Paula." Ashley's nostrils flared as she spoke. "You think I don't remember? But I do."

"I'm sorry that my daughter has corrupted you, but that gives you no right to speak to me like this." Paula started rifling through her purse for her keys. "No one in your generation has any respect for their elders anymore."

"Respect?" Ashley laughed, the gall of Paula was too much. "You have a lot of nerve. We both know what I saw that night my mom rushed herself to the emergency room and dragged me with her."

Paula tried to leave, but Ashley stepped in front of her. "Get out of my way."

"You call Spencer names and tell her she's a sinner, but that's a bit rich coming from you, isn't it?" Ashley asked rhetorically. "I never told anyone – including Spencer – what I saw that day because I didn't want to tear your family apart. But it looks like you did a good job of that on your own."

"You're talking nonsense," Paula said, her eyes cold.

"No, I'm not," Ashley countered. She'd held onto this secret for years and now she was done pretending with Paula. It had been difficult keeping the truth from Spencer, but she had convinced herself that she hadn't seen anything that bad. Paula had always pretending nothing was wrong and by the time Ashley came to terms with what she'd witnessed, she and Spencer weren't friends anymore. "I saw you kiss that man – that man who wasn't your husband – and you have the audacity to lecture Spencer on morality and sin?"

Paula was seething with anger. "This conversation is over."

"This conversation is over when I say it's over." Ashley would not allow Paula to cause any more havoc in the blonde's life. "I used to look up to you. I used to wish you were my mom. And now I'm just disgusted by you. I don't know what your problem is, or why you can't see how amazing Spencer is. She is amazing, Paula, no thanks to you. I love that girl – I'm in love with her – and if you ever do anything to hurt her again, you'll be sorry."

"Are you threatening me?"

"No, I'm warning you," Ashley said calmly. "I won't see Spencer hurt by you again. One day you're going to wake up and see the world around you isn't so black and white. And when that happens and you realize what a big mistake you've made, you'll be filled with regret. But that's your choice and you made it a long time ago. And it's your loss."

Ashley was done talking so she stepped aside to let Paula go. She didn't back down as the older woman stared down at her. After a few uncomfortable moments, Paula blew past the brunette without looking back. When she was gone, the brunette exhaled a breath she felt like she'd been holding for years.

It wasn't that long before Spencer reemerged looking shocked.

"Spence?" Ashley was on her feet and by her girlfriend's side in a flash. "What happened?"

"I, uh," Spencer couldn't believe how things had been settled. "My dad's still going to rehab, that hasn't changed, but I get to stay at home."

"By yourself?"

Spencer nodded. "Yeah, I mean there are conditions, but yeah."

It was like pulling teeth for Ashley. "What kind of conditions?"

"I have to make sure I'm going to school—no skipping classes. I have to go to therapy once a week." Spencer rolled her eyes at that condition but she wasn't stupid enough to say no to it. The alternative was too horrific not to agree to her dad's terms. "Money will be deposited in the bank for me for, like, groceries and stuff and I'll have to take care of the house, but other than that all bills and whatever will be paid for."

"This is just…wow…" Ashley was stunned. Was it possible that things had actually worked out?

"You're telling me," Spencer said as she shook her head in disbelief. This had been one of the strangest, most traumatic weekends of her life, but in the end it was turning out to possibly be one of the best. Her dad was finally getting the help he desperately needed. It was like someone had chased away the dark cloud that always hung over the blonde's head.

"Where did my mom go?" Spencer asked, figuring she'd want to go over certain details about the arrangement with her. "Not that I really care."

Ashley shrugged. "I have no idea; she just rushed out of there." There was no need to tell the blonde what had taken place. It didn't matter anymore and with the Arthur making the right decision, Ashley didn't want to bring her down.

"Well thank goodness for small miracles." Spencer started laughing. She couldn't believe after everything that she was actually in a pretty good mood. "Let's get out of here. I am so done with hospitals." It was then that Spencer realized she had one more thing she had to share with Ashley. "Wait, I forgot the best part." She reached for the brunette's hand and then she gave it a kiss. "Even though we agreed I can't miss any school because of everything that's happened this weekend, my dad said it was OK for me to stay home tomorrow. So, if you think you won't get in trouble, maybe you want to stay home with me."

Ashley grinned widely. "And what would we do all day to pass the time?"

"I'm sure we will figure something out," Spencer replied with a cheeky smile.

Spencer walked out of the hospital feeling lighter and feeling something else she wasn't used to feeling: hope. She couldn't wait to share her good news with Sean.

And she couldn't wait to have Ashley all to herself the following day. Maybe her life didn't have to suck so much after all.