Precious Things – Chapter 52

I know nothing about child protective services. This will become apparent over the next two chapters. Dev is beta’ing like a mad woman. It’s somewhat amazing. I’d almost say her other half should leave more often but that would be mean and make her sad so I won’t. I wish a speedy return to MrsDev. [Me, too – Dev] SVT, hope things are going ok.

HAPPY CANADA DAY EVERYONE

Disclaimer: Tom Lynch and The Mutant Army of Doom own SON. I make no money off this. Michael Jackson is weird.

rating: Pretty tame. References to past violence.

*******************

I awaken slowly to the realisation that I’m alone. It’s not a feeling I enjoy, missing Ashley immediately.

The door is ajar though and, as I slowly blink into consciousness, I see that Ashley is standing just outside with her step-mother. I can’t help but eavesdrop.

“I know, honey, but we’re going to have to talk about this,” Cathy is saying.

“Can’t… can’t it just wait till tomorrow? She’s so upset.” Ashley’s voice is full of emotion.

“I wish it could, I really do.”

“She’s not going back there.”

There’s a moment of silence.

“Ashley Davies, don’t you dare suggest that I would ever do that.” Despite the use of her full name, Cathy’s voice has no malice or anger in it. “She will absolutely be staying here, for the foreseeable future and beyond.”

There is silence and then Ashley’s quiet voice: “Thank you.”

“But, honey, we really do have to talk about this.”

“She’s still asleep,” Ashley says so quietly I almost miss it. “I don’t want to wake her. I don’t think she’s had much.”

“Of course. Don’t worry. When she wakes up, we’ll take it from there.” I see Cathy’s arm come up to touch Ashley’s face. My view is obscured by the partially-closed door, but I can still hear her next words. “How are you holding up?”

“Wasn’t me that got beat down,” Ashley replies bitterly.

“No, just the girl you love.”

Ashley sighs. “I’m okay. Honestly. So long as Spencer is okay. I won’t let her go back there, I won’t. I won’t let him hurt her again.” Obstinate Ashley is very cute.

Sleepily I yawn, silently, and try to accept the fact that I’m in a safe place, that I’m with people who care.

“We’ll sort out food when Spencer wakes up. Meanwhile, why don’t you go back in? I suspect she won’t want to be alone.”

I don’t see Ashley’s response, but I assume she makes some gesture. Just before Cathy leaves though, I do catch one last exchange.

Ashley’s body moves forward, I see through the gap, and she hugs her step-mother.

“Thank you… mom.”

I smile into my pillow.

I close my eyes before Ashley comes back inside the room. I don’t really want her to know that I heard all of that. I think she’d be a little put-out that I was eavesdropping.

The bed dips down as she slides in next to me, and I feel fingers trace across my hair again.

I let my eyelids flutter open.

“Hey there,” she says lightly, with a smile.

“Hi,” I reply shyly.

“How you doin’?”

“Okay.” It’s mostly truth. The pain isn’t as bad, I suspect because of the pain killers I’ve been given. Because I’ve never taken them before, they work like a charm. On the other hand, they can’t kill the pain completely, and it hurts just to lie here.

“You hungry?”

I shake my head. I don’t think I could eat.

“Thirsty?”

Hmm. I nod. I am a bit.

A glass of Coke appears from down the side of her bed, with a grin. She knows how much I like it.

I smile at her. She helps me into a sitting position and then proceeds to hold my Coke for me. I roll my eyes at her and take the glass. I’m not a complete invalid. I mean, really.

“Uh, we have to go downstairs at some point,” she says quietly. I can see that she’s trying not to upset me, but also needs to do the right thing.

I help her out and put my hand over hers. “I know.”

Attempting a very small stretch hurts like hell and it must show up on my face. Ashley leans across me and grabs the pill bottle from the side table.

“Take some.”

I shake my head. “No, we… we need to talk to your parents.” I swallow some more Coke. “I won’t be able to think if I take them.”

Ashley frowns. “I couldn’t care less about that. You’re in pain.”

I lean my head on her shoulder. “Just having you here helps,” I whisper.

Her fingers tangle with mine. “I’m not going anywhere.”

I breathe in and I breathe out.

We do go downstairs after a little while, Ashley helping me and my stiff body negotiate the stairs. She settles me in the living room, a rather formal place I’ve never been in before, and then leaves to find her parents.

I stare uncomfortably at the white furniture until a Davies appears. It’s Raife.

“Ashley, why the hell did you stick Spencer in the formal sitting room?” he yells through the house. Some unintelligible reply comes flying back and he shrugs.

“Sorry, Spencer,” he smiles at me and then basically flops into an arm chair. “I hate this room.”

“Me, too. Remind me why we don’t redecorate?” Cathy says amusedly, finding a chair herself.

Ashley lands on the couch next to me and I wince because it makes me bounce. She doesn’t notice but her parents do. I wave them down. I don’t want to get into it. In fact, I just want to get this ‘talk’ over.

“How’re you doing, sweetheart?” Cathy asks me.

“Okay,” I say in a low voice. Ashley’s hand tightens on mine. Her arm is around the back of the couch, not resting on my back but still enveloping me. Her other hand is holding my own.

There’s a pause, and then Cathy leans forward. “Spencer, I’m sorry to have to do this. But I have to call Child Protection Services.”

I look up, knowing my face shows how much I don’t want her to. “Please… don’t.”

“Honey, I don’t have a lot of choice. I could lose my job if I don’t.”

Oh God, I don’t want that.

“But, more than that,” Cathy continues, “I really think I should. Raife and I agree completely that you’ll be staying here. Yet, something has to be done. We could end up in a lot of complicated wrangling if we don’t. My first thought is to protect you and the best way to do that is to call Child Services.”

I bite my lip. “I … I don’t want him to get in trouble.”

“Fuck that!” Ashley explodes.

I squeeze my eyes shut.

“Ashley,” her father cautions.

“No, he… he deserves to die.”

I pull my hand away from hers.

”Not helping, Ash,” Cathy says gently. “Spencer, you’re not to blame here.”

I look at her. “I knew the rules,” I whisper.

“Doesn’t matter, hon. There is no way that you deserved what happened, okay? It’s unforgivable.”

Somewhere deep inside I know she’s right.

“Does my grandfather know where I am?”

“Yes.”

There’s a silence.

“I… I… I don’t want him to get arrested,” I admit.

“Well… that might be a chance we have to take.” Cathy says. “I have to be honest, right now my main concern is you, not your grandfather.”

“He’s the only family I have.” I sound so broken.

I am broken.

“I know.”

“No, we’re your family now,” Ashley disputes.

I now she’s trying to help. I know she only cares. She’s making it worse. I can’t tell her that though.

“Ashley, you’re really not helping,” Raife says. Apparently he has no issues telling her.

I squeeze her hand. “I love you, and you make all the difference,” I tell her. “But my grandfather and I have a complicated relationship.”

“He had no right to –“

“No he didn’t,” I interrupt, agreeing with her. “But it’s not simple, Ash. It’s just not.”

She draws her mouth into an obstinate line. “I won’t let him hurt you again.”

“I know.” I squeeze her hand again. “I know.”

She shuts up, and I’m kind of grateful for it.

I look at Cathy. “I don’t want you to lose your job.”

She gives her husband an unreadable look and then cocks her head to me. “That’s not something I’m really all that concerned about.”

“I know. But … you have to do … it… don’t you?”

She nods. “I really do.”

I sigh.

“Then I guess you’d better.”

I’m tired. I hurt. I can’t handle much more. Cathy can tell.

“Ashley, take Spencer back to bed. Take some painkillers, kiddo,” she directs me.

When I’m tucked back in bed, pills having been swallowed, Ashley looks down at me, eyes filled with sadness.

“I love you,” she says. “I love you so much.”

“I know,” I turn my head into her side, cuddling close.

Right now, that’s the only thing keeping me together.

37 Comments

  1. hot 4 yo mama
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 1.54pm | Permalink

    You’ve out-done yourself with this entire story Sez. Brava

  2. seriesaddict
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.02pm | Permalink

    I knew Spencer would react that way. I can understand it..but I’m glad she understood that calling the Child Services is necessary!

    So..her grandfather knows..I so want to know how he took it..what he said! Does he regret what he did?

    I love protective Ashley and I love how much she loves Spencer! Ashley’s talk with Cathy made me grateful for Cathy’s presence in Ashley’s life even more! Not only for Spencer’s sake but for Ashley’s sake too..we are so used to an Ashley who is a product of a broken home and I’m so happy that you decided to give her a great step-mom!

    I don’t know how the Child services work either but I wonder if it will be so easy for Ashley’s parents to get Spencer to stay with them! Child Services usually put the child into their system. Hope my movie-culture on the matter is wrong:)

    I also have the feeling that Spencer will live with her Grandfather again..an improved Grandfather that is! I can’t wait for the talk between Spencer and Grandpa.because there will be a talk right?

    beautiful chapter Clom! And thanks to that Beta machine that is Dev..you rock;)

  3. Fred
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.15pm | Permalink

    I just have to say that this is an amazing story!

    “Thank you… mom.”
    That really clutched my heart. I don’t have a stepmother but I do have Gary, my stepgrandfather. It took me awhile to ‘forgive’ him. I thought it was his fault that my grandfather died. And then when my grandmother died, it just got worse. But he is the only one that actually cares. He is the only one who listens to me. I love him, i do. With all my heart I love him and I love your story!

    Update soon…this is the longest review I have ever done!
    -FRED

    [I listen to you Fred… even though i don’t technically have to since I can read your mind. -clom]

  4. Sez says I can put any name I want!
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.16pm | Permalink

    Oh whoa, talk about emotional rollecoaster there, huh? In a way, it’s understandable… I mean, no kid should be beaten up like that, but apparently that’s how Grandpa was raised. True, he overreacted and it was angry, but he thinks it’s the right way to punish her. Right? (Oh for the love of the Joss, why the hell am I even trying to reason with that old man?! ¬¬)
    But despite everything he is her only family, and even though she might hate him sometimes, he’s the only person she’s ever had for a long time. It’s hard. :~
    And the Davies, I love them. The part where Ashley called Cathy mom was amazing. And they’re being so supportive and Spencer needs that. :)
    Amazing chapter Sezzle.
    *sits and waits for more*

  5. jbs10
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.24pm | Permalink

    So good.

    So Gramps knows that Spencer is with Ashley and her faimly. I wonder what his reaction was.

    I think Spencer and her grandfather need to talk, but she should never live with him again.

  6. Tegan21
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.32pm | Permalink

    wow that chapter held alot of greatness.. Ash and Cathys little moment was truely great..

    Ash not shutting up during “the talk” felt so real.. I would be the same for sure.. Spence reaction was also something to expect and I just love the Davies parents..

    I’m looking forward to a happy ending.. I really do..

  7. Ros
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.34pm | Permalink

    I bet that Grandfather is regretting what he did. Not that I care how he feels like, but still. I agree with Series, I don’t think it will be easy for the Davies to be granted Spencer’s custody. Maybe the fact that Cathy is a doctor will help. Let’s just hope so.

  8. tinkerbell22185
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.44pm | Permalink

    Michael Jackson is weird.

    great chapter!

  9. Puff
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.50pm | Permalink

    Wow dude I just found this today…yep I’m like mentally challenged I think. Anyway that was quite the enjoyable morning of reading that I had. I love the Spencer/Ashley relationship how they are there for each other and protective Ashley is wonderful. However Spencer is probably going to do and say stuff that will piss Ashley off now and Ashley is going to have to understand that Spencer might look 17, really she’s just like a little kid sometime because she’s had this since she was 5. It’s pretty sobering if you think about the fact that we learnt crying and emotion was wrong and therefore she was most likely punished fr crying over her family. Thank God she is good with emotion and better with people than she thought she would be. Anyway wonderful story Sez my friend and my deepest apologize for my tardiness.

    [Excuse me for the noise everyone, i just have to do this…. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!]

  10. lurker
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.50pm | Permalink

    so ive been reading your stories since I first saw them on southofnowhereonline and lurking for the longest time but I figured that at one point I had to delurk and your stories are just so amazing that I had no choice but to delurk for you. when I say your stories are amazing Im really serious…anytime i go up here and see an update I go do a happy dance and my friends used to go “wtf?” but they are used to it by now…I sorta understand what Spencer is going through, I know what its like to have an abusive parent, you want to hate them yet you still feel an attachment. I hope everything works out for her

    [ oh man, you get a squee too then! Squee! Thank you so much for delurking and I really honest to god hope I didn’t bring up anything painful for you. **Clom Hugs**]

  11. tania
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.53pm | Permalink

    *sniff* I love this story…

  12. lesmiserables1998
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.59pm | Permalink

    I can’t get one thought outta’ my head: Did Gramps suspect that Spencer was “up to something” for a while? Is that why he let her stay home alone, and then come home early? Was that a test of some sorts?

    I don’t want this to be over!! How many chapters left?

    [Three and a one shot epilogue]

  13. rutabega129
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 3.25pm | Permalink

    This story is like well written crack. So that would make you the dealer.

    And that would make me a crack whore.

    Well, then. When this story ends, I might go through withdrawal…

  14. Posted 1 July 2008 at 3.27pm | Permalink

    I forgot to say Dev you sould win the Beta Nobel Prize..

  15. yeahbutno
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 3.43pm | Permalink

    My head hurts a lot, work sucks a lot, I hate to say this but the Swiss really try the little patience I have – sorry Swiss readers, so I grabbed a cup of tea and came in here for a 15 min “relax” and Ohhhhh Lordie.

    Sorry for missing a few updates but been busy and to be honest I anticipated the beating so thought I would catch a few updates together to maybe get some resolution.

    Grandpa has serious fricken issues which we all saw all along and I may have had some sympathy with the loss of his family but seriously he is meant to be the adult, deal with it and show your granddaughter the love she needs – WANKER !!!!I would gladly never read another word that involves that old coffin dodger.

    Thank God for Ashley and her family, I just loved how cool and calm Ash was for Spence, just what she needed.

    Cathy and Raife are awsome and they need to phone the CPS straight away. How great to take her in and care for her and although I suspect they knew the nature of Spashley’s relationship I still loved how it wasn’t an issue and they just accepted it.

    Poor wee Spence I just want to give her a big hug – not touching her back – and tell her it is going to be alright as I am sure it is now that the secret is out. I’m so glad that she realises that the issue has to be dealt with and not carry on being a secret.

    I’m not sure if Spence will be allowed to stay with the Davies – I hope so. I think I remember talk of some other grandparents around somewhere, can they get involved, do we want them too? I’m really eager to see what happens.

    As ever thank you Clom despite the subject matter these last few updates I still enjoyed the read and as ever your writing pulls me in emotionally.

    Okay, I need to get back to work and make a Swiss roll – preferably from a brige a VERY HIGH bridge *tsk*!!

  16. Katie
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 3.58pm | Permalink

    Love this story so much! I think they are doing the right thing and im so glad at how lovely the davies are and how weonderfully they are dealing with this situation, such a tough sitaution really but they are doing pretty well. Love Ashley being so protective. I wonder whats going through the grandfathers head. Thank you for a brillaint update.

  17. SS
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 4.16pm | Permalink

    *stands and applauds* Nicely done, Dr. Sez!

    “Fuck that!” Ashley explodes. <– YES! That’s my girl!

    I carry this story around with me and wake up with images of it in my head. Today Spencer was sleeping comfortably in “fluffy pyjamas” (we say pajamas) [We know. But, you – the entire country of America – are wrong, and we – the rest of the English-speaking world – are right! – Dev]. That is why I beg for happily ever after, otherwise I may need therapy. *looks around* Maybe we can get a group rate…

    I don’t remember too well, but didn’t Spencer have other family, someone The GrandFucker didn’t approve of? And dear God, please let her find some photos of her immediate family and let her talk about them. Didn’t GF disallow her talking about them?!? That’s beyond the pale… I can’t stand him!

    *hops on soapbox* As for punishment, in smoky (1000 active fires today. it ain’t safe to breathe folks! “stay indoors…”) California, whipping anyone with anything WILL put you behind bars, and in 15 countries – mostly in Europe – hitting children is banned completely. Yup.

  18. Melxgibs
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 4.17pm | Permalink

    I have to say that the cathy and ashley talk was beautiful and i love their realtionship. And i love how they are all being so kind to spencer, Love it.

  19. Payne N. Uranus
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 4.53pm | Permalink

    I’m still working out whether I should be depressed or excited. Yay, Spencer will be living with Ashley!…Aw, poor Spencer, her only family is in trouble…YAY! Spencer is gonna get out of that crap hole! And stay with ASHLEY!…God, that must be so troublesome for her, I can’t imagine how painful it’s gonna get…FUCK YEAH, SPENCER’S STAYING WITH ASHLEY!!!!

    That one’s happier, I’ll go with that. Btw, how’s it going with the shopping for a temporary mail-order beta? Dev better have a fucking fantastic vacation… =)

  20. .ashes.rising.
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 5.05pm | Permalink

    This story is like well written crack. So that would make you the dealer.
    And that would make me a crack whore.
    Well, then. When this story ends, I might go through withdrawal…

    see? that’s what i’ve been saying….

    fantasticness, ladies. pure fantasticness.

  21. Vibes
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 5.27pm | Permalink

    This shit is heavy man. Keep it up.

  22. Sophadelic
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 5.30pm | Permalink

    Sez, I dreamt about this fic. And in my dream I went to gramps’ house and stole Spencer and we got on a train, and I paid for our train tickets using a debit card that had Star Wars Episode 1 shit on it, aaaand yeah. It was much scarier than my USUAL Spencer dreams (if you catch my drift) but it was intense. And I guess if I’m dreaming about it then it’s definitely got into my head.

    Happy Canada Day to you Sezzle. Enjoy. :)

  23. evilgiraffe
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 6.37pm | Permalink

    That scene with Ashley outside her room was really great, a little further insight into their relationship and further evidence of how amazing Cathy is. Also loved protective Ashely, she has held it together so well up until now it’s not a surprise she had a bit of an outburst. I’m wondering what Gramps is up to at the moment; he must know she will have told, he must know he was wrong, he must know shit is coming his way. And I’m glad! Sometimes worrying about what might happen when you have done something wrong is worse than what actually happens so I hope he is going through some guilt-laden hell.

  24. iocaste
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 7.11pm | Permalink

    Truly I try to understand how Spencer feels. Yes she has a very complicated relationship with her grandfather and yes he is her only family but that doesn’t give him the right to abuse his grand daughter. I don’t really care if he had a difficult life himself. He had no right.
    The Davies are really beautiful and very understanding people and I’m so happy that Spencer has them in her life. Ashley is just a sweetheart. Who could blame her for the things she said? I would have said the same things if I were her. I just hope that Spencer can stay with them…I’m not sure if that’s possible but I really hope so.
    Great chapter clom :)

  25. Sarah
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 7.12pm | Permalink

    :( Poor Spencer man. I really want to leave better feecback but finals for summer courses suck, hardcore.

  26. SS
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 8.07pm | Permalink

    “fluffy pyjamas” (we say pajamas) [We know. But, you – the entire country of America – are wrong, and we – the rest of the English-speaking world – are right! – Dev].

    Trust me, Dev, we are wrong about more than just our spelling, but best not start me… (hmm, do I argue? ah, what the hell…) When in Rome… see, since the story is based in Kalifornia, it may be more authentic to say pajamas. *runs. fast.*

    And Dr. Clomle – I LOVE the foreign tone of your writing (foreign to me) and am not suggesting you change a single thing!!!

    [One small issue… I didn’t specify where this story took place, but it got cold in winter, so it weren’t California!]

  27. broken_devil
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 8.31pm | Permalink

    Daaamn this story brings back some past memories. And I actually mean that in a good way. Cause it just shows how well you can write something and make it seem so real and so true to life.

    I love Ashley in this, and Cathy and Raife. Also Spencer, but she goes without saying.

    Great chapter.

  28. Insaneoasis
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 9.47pm | Permalink

    awesome chapter… tugged really hard at my heartstrings. I really do hope everything works out for everyone, even grandpa. He’s just doing the only thing he knows how to do, even if it is wrong by todays standards.

    thank you!

  29. Fort
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 10.04pm | Permalink

    Thank goodness for the Davies. All of them. Looking forward to seeing this direction, now that people know the secret. Thanks Clom.

  30. DeeJay
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 11.28pm | Permalink

    This story needs to never end. Thats all i have to say bb…

  31. Posted 1 July 2008 at 11.34pm | Permalink

    Love the chapte. Cathy and Raife are the best parents. I feel sorry for Spencer, but it is what should be done. Like many others I want to know what Grandfather did when he found out or if he feels any remorse. Ashley is really trying and I love her for it. Can’t wait to see what happens next. Sad it is almost over though.
    I will get to see him tomorrow. He is in a coma.
    Here if you want to read a little bout the wreck go here: http://www.fortwayne.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/JG/20080630/LOCAL07/806300378

    [holy moly hon, that’s terrible. People do wake from coma’s though. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you and pray for him k. – clom]

  32. insertcleveranswer
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 11.58pm | Permalink

    Okay, now I feel bad that I doubted Ashley for not helping Spencer. But she has more than redeemed herself now, that’s for sure. She’s just being so sweet to Spencer. Lord knows Spencer deserves a little sweetness right now.

    So I’m wondering what’s going to happen to Grandfather now. I wonder if he feels any remorse about what he did to Spence.

    I’m so glad Spencer has the Davis in her corner. Great update!

  33. mapleleaf
    Posted 2 July 2008 at 4.55am | Permalink

    Great chapter. I can relate to Spencer and the emotional roller coaster. The Davies family is amazing and Ashley’s interaction with Spencer adorable. Sad to know that the story is almost done but I think that you have timed it just right.
    Thanks for the Canada Day wishes. Hope you had some fun, too!

  34. Mandikus
    Posted 2 July 2008 at 7.28am | Permalink

    Super update. It must suck to be so hurt by someone but not want them to get hurt, even though they deserve it. Gramps was all Spencer had for the longest time and she doesn’t want him to get into trouble. Lucky for Spence she has the awesomely amazing Davies clan to help her get through this. Gosh I love your characterisations soooo much. THANKYOU FOR THIS STORY CLOM

  35. jmh
    Posted 2 July 2008 at 10.38pm | Permalink

    Another amazing update as always, clom :)

  36. L
    Posted 3 July 2008 at 2.59pm | Permalink

    This was all kinda of awesome. Really nicely paced out, all the realisations Spencer is making proves just how far she’s come in all this.

  37. Jada
    Posted 3 July 2008 at 9.22pm | Permalink

    The conversation between Cathy/Ashley was my favorite part of this chapter for me – for its insight in to how deeply the two feel for Spencer and how much she is not a burden for either of them. They’re not allowing her to stay with them simply because they have the means to do so or solely out of pity- but because they care for and love Spencer. That was important for us (readers and Spencer included) to hear.

    The “I love you…mom” was very very sweet, as was Spencer’s reaction. So good – I don’t know what I’m going to do without this fic once it’s all wrapped up. I’m just gonna hafta read the next few updates slowwwwlllyyyy. ;)

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