-Post You've Got A Vicious Streak For Someone So Young. Angst and such. Title is a Lady Gaga song.
-And it doesn’t matter that they’ve met before, that they’ve wounded one another before, that they’ve already seen the end of their beginning.
-PG to possibly R
“Alright, spill it.”
“Aiden, please get your wife off my back before I decide to strangle her.”
“Babe, give her a moment’s peace, c’mon…”
“No. Look at her face, she looks like a thirteen-year old girl after her first ‘real’ date and I want to know details.”
Aiden seems to tilt his head to the side, studying Ashley like a scientist might and Ashley sticks her tongue out, crosses her eyes. He grins just a bit.
“Ah, there’s the Ashley I know.”
“She’s always around.”
“Listen, if you won’t help me, Aiden and if you won’t tell me…” Kyla points at Ashley with a glint in her eye, a dangerous glint.
“…then I’ll call Spencer.”
Ashley crosses her arms and steps up into Kyla’s personal space.
“Leave it alone. There is nothing to tell.”
“We walked in the park.”
“We ate some food.”
“And she had to go, so we said good-bye. End of story.”
“There. Mystery solved. And this gumbo is ready, too… so let’s eat…” Aiden pipes up, patting his stomach and Ashley shakes her head, leaning back from Kyla’s mock glare of annoyance.
“What’s with this meal anyway? Why gumbo?”
“Kyla watched some special about New Orleans and insisted.”
“I’m not letting this go, you know.”
“Yes, Ky, I get it. Jesus, you are like a dog with a bone.”
Ashley doesn’t mind the swat at the back of her head and she doesn’t mind the inquisitiveness of her sister and she grins as she sits down – tucking in to a homemade meal with her family.
It sounds so nice and so Norman Rockwell and it was never how she pictured her future.
Her future used to consist of black-outs and binge drinking and possibly dying too young… just like every song her father ever sang… just like my father in a lot of ways…
But here she is, sitting with her sister and her best friend, eating a meal and making conversation.
Only one thing missing, right?
Ashley tells that part of her mind to shut the hell up, to not rush things and to not ruin things – because she saw the look in Spencer’s eyes.
And it was fear, it was faltering feet and frozen movements, years still clinging to the woman’s face and Ashley can’t rush this.
She can’t go back and fix those mistakes. She can’t apologize anymore either.
Ashley can only take this one day at a time.
And you want her to be there at the end of it all, don’t you? Isn’t that what it’s always about? Spencer Carlin and her blue eyes and her soft skin… Spencer Carlin and her heart and her soul… that’s what you always want, isn’t it?
And Ashley knows it to be true.
She just can’t say all that now. Not now. Not yet.
And there is Lauren, a woman who Ashley likes and enjoys knowing and doesn’t want to just use – a woman who knows what she wants and who she can get it from, a woman with a string of lovers and none of them bitter… Lauren is the interstate, from one place to another and no stops in-between, and Ashley likes to just cruise every once in a while.
Spencer is that mountain road, with great views that take your breath away, but you have to be a good driver to make it up that path and you have to know what you are doing… you have to know that those curves are as mesmerizing as they are deadly.
You have to remember how worth it that journey is, that’s Spencer Carlin… otherwise you crash and burn.
“Now, Ash, time to really talk.”
“Aiden’s making coffee and you’ve stared a hole into space, so it’s time to talk.”
“Can we sit out on the balcony?”
It is around nine o’clock and the city lies below, glittering like a diamond, and Ashley wonders how it is that L.A. can look so nice – but only when you can’t see it at all.
The traffic sounds like waves and Ashley closes her eyes, taking a deep breath.
“Can you blame her?”
“I don’t, not at all.”
“Is she interested?”
“I think so.”
“Well, now I know you are lying, because we both know she is.”
“I’m just telling the truth, Ashley. You two have always been… you’ve just always been. It’s like neither one of you can help it.”
“…Is that a good thing, though?”
“I mean, don’t get me wrong… I love Spencer, I really do and it… it amazes me that just seeing her in front of me… I still want to fall at her feet.”
“Sounds like love.”
“It is. We’ve just got so much history and I’m not sure she can let it go.”
“And you have? Completely?”
“Well, no, not completely.”
“So be patient.”
“Not one of my strongest qualities, Ky.”
“You are not who you used to be. Stop thinking you are.”
“I just… when she looks at me, sometimes, I know that is all she can see and I wonder if I’ve really changed at all.”
“You have. Don’t let this trip you up. At the end of the day, Ashley… it is Spencer Carlin and you know her better than me. Better than Aiden. Better than anyone.”
“…I hope so. I really do.”
Aiden brings the coffee and the three of them sit silent, staring off into the darkness. Ashley can hear the two of them exchange kisses and it makes her smile.
So many things make her smile these days and that is a switch in of itself – seeing the joy of living and feeling it, too. It is not all angst. It is not all drama. It is not all missteps and crashing down.
Life is okay.
I am okay. I am going to be alright, no matter what Spencer does or doesn’t do… I am going to be just fine.
“What about Lauren?” Kyla asks and Ashley clears her throat.
“We are still involved.”
“I like her.” Aiden comments.
“I do, too.” Ashley replies.
“Hey, me too… but how serious are you two, Ash?”
“It isn’t that serious. I mean, we are not exclusive and I know she sees other women. It’s cool.”
She hears the smack to Aiden’s chest and the grunt of pain. It causes Ashley to laugh out loud.
“I meant that in general, babe.”
“You better, Mr. Dennison, or you can consider your hand to be your new best friend.”
“God, Ky, too much information!” Ashley exclaims, getting up and trying to make a getaway from their little domestic dispute.
She can hear them continue to banter with each other and Ashley’s phone vibrates in her pocket.
And she knew that Lauren would be calling, because they usually talk around this time – just to catch up and possibly make plans – but it isn’t Lauren at all.
And Ashley would always get a nice feeling in her body when Lauren would call, the kind of sensation anyone would get when someone attractive calls them up and gives them attention – it boosts the ego and it flatters and one can get used to such moments.
But it doesn’t even compare to getting a call from Spencer Carlin.
That call can set Ashley on edge in the best possible way, anxious and flushed, stomach alive with a billion butterflies and sweaty palms.
It was that way from the get-go and she used to put it down to being young and impetuous and new to being in love.
But now she knows better.
It is just the side-effects of this woman from Ohio, a slipstream of the most potent drug and it is in your blood from your very first hit and you are addicted.
It is too good to be real.
And yet it is.
And Ashley didn’t expect to hear from the woman, not this soon.
It had only been a few hours since their ‘date’ ended abruptly at that café, with a kiss to the cheek and a brief promise – then it was just Ashley watching Spencer walk away.
You need to answer it before she thinks you aren’t going to.
Her arms move slowly and her fingers seem to stumble, but she finally gets it right and swallows hard.
Wow, this is weird. Like really bad and uncomfortable. Think, brain, say more than ‘hello’ over and over!
“So, are you busy Friday night?”
“Oh, umm, I am going to see a show around eight…”
“Oh. Well, I’ve got a showing at Eagle Rock and you are more than welcomed to come. If you want. You don’t have to or anything.”
“I’d like to. When does it start?”
“Seven until god-knows-when.”
“Okay. I’ll be there.”
“You sure? You don’t have to.”
“I want to, Spencer.”
Ashley is smiling and Kyla is walking in, quirking her eyebrow knowingly and Ashley turns away, more than content to face the wall instead of her sister at just this second.
“Bring Lauren if you want.”
And just like that, Ashley loses the smile.
She isn’t sure why that smile slides off so easily.
And yet… it makes more sense than almost anything in the entire universe. It’s like all those butterfly wings have just slapped her face, a beautiful and painful reminder that waiting is just as hard as not having at all.
And seven years might not have been long enough to heal, to set the past truly free.
And maybe I don’t know Spencer Carlin anymore at all, dear sister. Maybe none of us do.
“…Yea. Okay. Why not?”
“Right. See you then.”
“Yea, see you then.”
Fuck me sideways… Ashley sighs as she listens to the dial-tone serenade her ear.