Reality Bites, Part I

Short fic, based on this prompt (yes, we do read them).

Spencer and Ashley pose as a couple.
Rated A.

* * * * *

Part I

Ashley Davies’ head snapped up as her front door swung open and was immediately slammed shut. She wasn’t surprised by her guest, as only one person had a key: Spencer Carlin, her best friend. What did surprise her was that Spencer was clearly bristling with anger, gripping the strap of her backpack so tightly that her knuckles showed white, chewing her lip and scowling deeply. As one of life’s happy people, Spencer hardly ever seemed angry—concerned, occasionally; thoughtful, often; but truly irate, rarely—but she looked perturbed, to say the least.

“Hey, there,” Ashley said. “Are you okay?”

“Yes. Kind of. No, not really.” Spencer threw her backpack into a corner of the room and collapsed onto the couch. “It’s not me. It’s Carmen.”

Ashley put her guitar on its stand and sat down at the other end of the couch. “That chick in my life drawing class last year?”

Ashley didn’t know the girl very well: to her, Carmen had just been a face in the back of a class. She didn’t even know that Spencer and Carmen were particularly friendly, although she had a vague notion that they lived in the same dorm.

“She’s been in hospital,” Spencer said.

“She’s sick?”

“No, it’s worse than that.” Spencer folded her arms. “You know she’s gay, right?”

Ashley smirked. “I got that clue when you told me she’d hit on you last year.” She shrugged. “So what?”

Spencer turned towards her and drew her legs up underneath her. “Well, you know Tyra?”

“That uppity bitch on your softball team? I am familiar with her.”

“Apparently, Carmen kissed Tyra.” Spencer paused and waited for Ashley’s reaction.

Ashley shook her head. “Still not getting where this is going. I’m pretty sure that’s what gay chicks do—kiss girls. In fact, I think they do more than that, although I don’t have first-hand experience myself.”

“Wait, didn’t you sleep with Gina DoLuca?”

“Really? That’s what you think?” Ashley shook her head. “No, we just made out a couple of times. Strictly first base, nothing under the clothes.”

Spencer knitted her brows in confusion. “But I saw her letting herself out of here one morning.”

“Not everyone who stays the night gets to sleep in my bed. And, even then, not everyone who sleeps in my bed gets a happy finish.”

“Ewww! You’re disgusting sometimes!”

“Yeah, but you sleep over all the time and you know I speak the truth. Anyway, are you gonna tell me what’s the deal with Carmen or what?”

“Stop interrupting and I’ll tell you.”

Ashley subtly flipped her best friend the bird by scratching the side of her nose with her middle finger. “Stop asking questions and I’ll stop interrupting you with answers.”

Spencer laughed at the childish gesture. “Okay, here’s the thing. Carmen was at the party last week. You know, the one we had for winning the game against Cal State, the one you were too busy to attend?”

Ashley rolled her eyes. Spencer was adorable in her desire for Ashley to attend every softball team event. It wasn’t that Ashley didn’t want to support Spencer, but she didn’t really want to hang out with the team. Some of those girls were total bitches. It infuriated Ashley to see them treat her best friend like some nerdy hanger-on instead of the best third base the team had ever had. She still went to all the games, though.

“Anyway,” Spencer continued, “Jodie apparently walked in on Carmen and Tyra making out in one of the bathrooms, and she told everyone. And I mean everyone. There probably isn’t a person on campus who doesn’t know about it by now. Except obviously you, because you’re too cool for school. So, Tyra’s boyfriend, Mike—he’s on the football team—fronted Carmen about it yesterday with a bunch of his friends and they got into a fight. She ended up at the emergency room, but she didn’t stay. I got the feeling she probably should have, but she discharged herself anyway. She’s got a black eye and a cracked rib.”

“Jesus! They beat her up just for macking on that skank? What’s happening to the boyfriend?”

Spencer picked at the hem of her t-shirt, pulling a loose thread. “I don’t really know. There’s a rumour that the coach has kicked him off the team for now and there’s gonna be an investigation. But that isn’t going to do anything. They never do anything about the football team pulling shit, except maybe put them on academic suspension for a few weeks. It’s really not fair.”

“Why aren’t the police involved?” Ashley was outraged. Hitting girls, even ones like Carmen, who certainly looked like she could take care of herself in a fight, was never acceptable.

“Carmen’s not interested in pressing charges.”

“Why the hell not? She should.”

“Yeah, I know. She said that she’d had too many dealings with the cops when she was a kid and she didn’t think they’d do anything. His word against hers, or something. She says Mike looks worse than her.”

Well, at least she’d been correct about Carmen being able for a fight, Ashley thought.

“I really didn’t know you two were such good friends,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you seem really upset by this.”

Spencer leaned back and stared at the ceiling. “It’s not really about Carmen. I mean, it’s terrible what happened to her, but it’s the team that’s made me really angry.”

“Your team?”

“Yeah. At practice today, most of the girls were saying that Carmen deserved everything she got just because she’s gay.”

Ashley was confused. “Uh, Spence, you’re on the women’s softball team. Aren’t you, like, all gay?”

“I’m not!”

“Okay, not you. But you’ve got to admit that there’s a stereotype there. I mean, it’s up there with female tennis players in the pantheon of totally gay sportspeople.” Just because that one famous player had a superstar jock boyfriend—or was it husband? Ashley really didn’t pay much attention to the side commentary Spencer gave while watching softball on ESPN—didn’t mean that the stereotype wasn’t true. ‘She plays women’s softball’ was almost as accepted as ‘she wears comfortable shoes’ as shorthand for ‘digs chicks’.

Spencer was shaking her head. “As far as I know, all my teammates are all straight. Except maybe Cassie, cos she never dates guys. Well, not that I know of. She’s the only one that I think might be on the down low.”

“Spence, you never date either. And no-one says ‘down low’ these days.”

“I date!” She stuck her tongue out at Ashley. “Also, no-one says ‘macking’ either and I didn’t call you on that.”

Ashley ignored the feeble comment. As if Spencer could be more informed on the current parlance than she. Inconceivable. “When? When did you last date?” she asked.

The blonde thought about it for a moment. “Three weeks ago. Connor Gould in my PoliSci class asked me out. We had coffee.”

That was a surprise. “You never mentioned it to me.”

“You’re so busy being a minor celebrity, you don’t have time to keep up with us little people,” Spencer mocked.

“I am not a minor celebrity.” Ashley wanted to be a musician like her father, and had recently played a few gigs in and around the campus, but they were barely more than open mic spots which paid little, if at all.

“You’re famous on campus.”

“It’s a small town.”

Spencer grinned. “No-one’s keeping you here. You could go back to L.A.”

Ashley swatted Spencer’s shin. “I couldn’t leave you alone. You’d be a basket case without me.”

The truth was actually the other way around; without Spencer, Ashley would have no-one special in her life at all. Although they had met on the first day of high school, they didn’t become friends until junior year. When Ashley’s father died, Spencer was the only person who reached out to her. Her own so-called friends were more interested in spending Ashley’s inheritance than in asking how she was coping. But Spencer approached her one day after school and asked if she needed to talk.

Within a week, they were inseparable. No-one understood what Ashley Davies, one of the most popular girls in school, was doing with shy, bookish Spencer, whose only interests were softball and studying, and who had never gone to a single party that anyone could remember. But it worked for them. They complemented each other.

When Spencer had been offered a sports scholarship to a private college upstate, Ashley hadn’t thought twice about following. After their first year, Ashley had bought a house near campus because she hated the dorm experience with a seething passion, but she hadn’t been able to persuade Spencer to move in with her. It hardly mattered: Spencer stayed over so often that it felt like they were roommates anyway.

Spencer picked up a flier for a take-out restaurant from the table next to her, crushed it into a ball and tossed it hard in the direction of the wall, muttering what sounded like a swear word under her breath. Spencer almost never swore.

“This is really bothering you, isn’t it?” she asked.

Spencer nodded. “They said some pretty hateful things, like Carmen was some kind of perverted deviant who’d forced Tyra into it. And they said that word a lot.”

“What word?”

“Dyke,” Spencer mumbled. “And they said it like being gay was some kind of terrible disease. They were really graphic, implying that she liked all sorts of freaky stuff just cos she liked girls. They made it sound cheap and sordid and nasty.”

Ashley rubbed her chin thoughtfully. “Maybe they’re protesting too much. Maybe some of them wish that they’d been making out with a girl in the bathroom and they’re just deflecting. I’d bet good money that half of them have tried it themselves.” She looked over at Spencer, who seemed more miserable than ever.

“But I said nothing! I should have defended her, and I didn’t. I should have told them that they had no right to talk about anyone like that and that being gay is as natural as breathing or being good at softball or, I don’t know, having toenails or something! But I didn’t do anything.”

Finally, they were getting to the truth of the matter. While she saw the good in everyone else, Spencer held herself to an impossibly high standard and was liable to beat herself up if she fell short of her own expectations.

“Well, the next time someone says something homophobic, you speak up. You tell them that they’re nothing but narrow-minded bigots. Tell them what you just told me. The only way they’ll change is if someone confronts them about their hatred.”

Spencer shrugged in a way that suggested that she agreed with Ashley’s idea but didn’t want to admit it. “Maybe.”

“You know I’m right.”

“Unlikely,” Spencer joked.

Ashley stood up, looking around for her jacket and purse. “First, I am always right and, second, we’re going out for a drink to cheer you up.”

“I can’t. I have to study,” Spencer said, but the reply was so weak that Ashley knew that it wouldn’t take more than asking a couple of times for her to accede.

* * *

Ashley was balancing a notebook on her knee, writing down lyrics and humming to herself. It was hard to concentrate because she was surrounded by a loud and raucous crowd who were celebrating yet another win for the women’s softball team.

People kept trying to get her attention, urging her to join them. The truth was, she wasn’t really invested in whether the team won or lost, only in how Spencer did. She had gone 0-for-4, striking out twice, but she’d also set up a couple of key double plays that had kept the opposing team at bay. Ashley wasn’t sure whether Spencer would consider that a good performance or not, therefore she wasn’t sure whether congratulations or commiserations were in order.

“Ash!” Spencer called out. “Babe!”

She looked up to see her best friend, changed out of her uniform into jeans and a varsity t-shirt, her hair still wet from her shower, moving towards her. Putting her notebook aside, she stood up and waved at her. As Spencer approached, Ashley noticed that there was a strange look in her eyes. Spencer was obviously trying to communicate something wordlessly to her, but she wasn’t picking up whatever that message was.

Spencer didn’t slow up as she reached her, but swept Ashley into a surprisingly tight hug. It wasn’t that they never hugged, but it certainly wasn’t their normal greeting. And when they did hug, Spencer never buried her face in Ashley’s neck or held her quite so firmly. Unconsciously, Ashley lifted her own arms to loop around Spencer’s neck.

“I’ll explain later,” Spencer mumbled just below Ashley’s ear, before placing a soft, intimate, open-mouthed kiss on her neck.

That, Ashley was pretty certain, was something else that had never happened before. The occasional kiss on the cheek was about as affectionate as they ever got. Spencer was reticent about physical contact. It was no big deal. Neither of them was the hugs-and-kisses type.

Then Spencer pulled back, smiling in a sweet, lop-sided way, as her hands shifted to Ashley’s hips. Ashley’s eyes widened as she realised what was about to happen. There was no mistaking the fact that Spencer’s head was dipping forward and her eyes were slowly closing.

Spencer’s mouth closed over her own. It was not a kiss of friendship. It was, like the kiss on her neck, slow and deliberate. Ashley had given and received a lot of kisses in her time, so she was pretty sure that she could tell the difference between platonic ones and the real deal, and Spencer was definitely nibbling at her lips with purpose. By the time her brain had processed these thoughts and she had gathered the wherewithal to respond, the kiss was over.

Spencer rested her forehead against Ashley’s. Ashley was too stunned to do anything but close her eyes and wait for the next surprise.

“I’m really glad you came today, baby,” Spencer said in a voice that was a shade too loud and yet a tone which was low and husky all the same.

“I always come to your games,” Ashley replied. She was aware that they were starting to gain onlookers. Over Spencer’s shoulder, she saw a group of three or four girls from the team. One of them—Sloane or something similar, possibly Sheridan—had her arms folded and a look of unconcealed disgust.

“Do you want to come out and celebrate with us?” Spencer asked, seemingly not noticing that they were being watched. She was staring intently at Ashley’s lips and looked a little dazed. Ashley understood the feeling.

“I’m gigging at the Roadhouse tonight.” The Roadhouse was a bar-restaurant on the edge of town which offered a facsimile of the spit-and-sawdust experience for well-heeled twentysomethings who would never be seen dead in the real thing. At eighty dollars, it would be the highest-paid gig she’d played to date.

“Will I see you later, then?”

It was hard for her to answer immediately because Spencer had insinuated her fingers under the hem of Ashley’s tank top and was stroking up and down her sides in a way that was making her just a little dizzy.

“I won’t be done till after midnight,” she said, finding herself arching into the welcome touch.

“Well, text me.” Spencer placed a quick kiss on the tip of Ashley’s nose. “I love you, baby.”

“Uh, me, too.” What else could she say?

And then Spencer stepped back, her arms withdrawing from around Ashley. She let her own arms drop from Spencer’s shoulders and fall to her sides. For the first time that she could remember, she had no idea what to do with herself. She was completely on the back foot.

Spencer turned away and headed back to her waiting teammates, whose reactions to the impromptu scene appeared to range from amused smirks to outright hostility. Ashley watched as the group of players, boyfriends and assorted friends headed away from the field in the direction of wherever the post-game party was. One of the girls was digging Spencer in the ribs, making a comment punctuated by a loud, ribald laugh.

She could feel the late afternoon sun drying her forearms, which had become damp from resting against Spencer’s wet hair. She lifted her left hand to her mouth, touching her lips where Spencer had kissed her with shy confidence.

Just before they passed completely out of sight, Spencer turned around and blew her a kiss, then waved brightly. Ashley waved back.

A passing emo kid in his tribe’s uniform of pale skin, dark clothes and dyed-black hair said, “I always knew you two were in the family. Way to go, Davies.”

She stared at him. Was he in one of her classes? He didn’t look that familiar. “Thanks.”

He put his hand out for a fist-bump.

“Do I look like the sort of person who fist-bumps?” she said in a tone approaching her normal cynical demeanour.

The boy shrugged and withdrew his hand. “Later.”

She didn’t reply. She had much more important things on her mind.

* * *

Sunday mornings usually found Ashley deep in sleep, recovering from whatever Saturday night had brought. In her freshman and sophomore years, it often found her kicking some random guy out of her bed. It had been a while since that had been the case, though. No-one had interested her in even a quick fling in the longest time. Maybe she was getting older and more mature.

As a general rule, she only got out of bed in the late morning or early afternoon when Spencer showed up after Mass with donuts or croissants from the little bakery near the Catholic church. This Sunday, however, she was out of bed by 8am, unable to sleep for all the thoughts clouding her head.

Ashley had, of course, considered in the past what it might be like to kiss Spencer. They were both young and attractive, hormones surging through them. And she’d kissed other girls before, toyed with the idea of taking it further, but had just never gone there.

Her friendship with Spencer was intense, and maybe it was unusual for two people to remain so close for so long, living in each other’s pocket almost to the exclusion of all others, but Ashley didn’t trust other people. There were many people on campus who thought of Ashley as their friend, but she didn’t feel that close to any of them. Spencer was the only person she actually needed in her life. Everyone else was superfluous.

And the kiss had been something else.

She was willing to believe that the element of surprise was the main reason that it had affected her so much. And it had affected her like no kiss she had ever experienced before. Hours later, when she was in the middle of a song at the Roadhouse, she had almost forgotten the lyrics because a memory of Spencer’s tongue fluttering against her bottom lip had drifted through her mind.

Spencer had texted her throughout the previous evening and had explained that she had told her teammates that they were dating as part of her ongoing campaign against bigotry. Ashley had guessed as much anyway from the fact that the kiss had obviously been for their audience.

In the two weeks since the incident with Carmen, Spencer had been getting increasingly agitated about the ingrained homophobia of some her teammates and the fact that her counter-arguments had been landing on deaf ears. Ashley suspected that the hardcore group of mean girls—Tyra, Sloane/Sheridan, Jodie and Anita—were the main hold-outs.

Ashley knew those girls. Oh, maybe not those four specifically, but she knew their type. She had grown up around them. Her mother was one of them. They judged everyone else by standards that they themselves didn’t feel the need to live up to, made themselves feel better by looking down on others. Their definition of wrong was everything that was not them.

“Breakfast is here!”

Spencer had let herself in, as usual, and was standing at the bottom of the stairs, a brown bag full of pastry dangling from her hand. She was dressed for church in a skirt, a long-sleeved blouse over a tank top and flat shoes. With her tanned, athletic body and wholesome outfit, she looked like an advert for no-fat milk or fresh-baked cookies.

“I’m through here.”

Spencer spun around and smiled quizzically at her. “You’re up? It’s only eleven-thirty.”

“Couldn’t sleep.” Ashley stretched and yawned. No point in admitting that she’d been awake for hours.

“Nice pyjamas,” Spencer commented as she passed Ashley and headed into the kitchen.

She looked down and noticed that her clothes were she Spencer’s: an old pair of shorts and a ‘Property of King High Softball’ t-shirt with the sleeves ripped off.

“They were the only clean thing on the floor.”

Spencer returned carrying butter, two side plates and some cream cheese. “I got bagels. You want anything else with them?”

“No, cream cheese is good.”

Spencer gestured to the headphones around Ashley’s neck. “What are you listening to?”

“Oh, nothing. Internet radio.” She had been so deep in thought that she didn’t even know the answer. It had all been background noise.

“Back in a minute.” Spencer went back into the kitchen to wait for the bagels to be toasted. She reappeared soon after, putting a large plate of assorted bagels on the table.

“So, yesterday,” Ashley prompted, as she picked up an onion bagel and buttered it.

“Yeah, look, I’m sorry about that. I should have warned you, or at least given you a chance to say no.”

Ashley shook her head. “It’s fine. If you can’t rely on your best friend to slip you the tongue, who can you?” Spencer just grinned and waggled her eyebrows. “What I meant was, I get why you did it, but what prompted it specifically?”

“Ah.” Spencer took a bite of her bagel. “Well, when we went into the changing room after the game, Tyra got a text from Mike. He’s been kicked off the football team.”

“Good.” She was surprised but pleased that some form of punishment had been handed down.

“Yeah, and it all exploded again. Tyra was shouting about how the gays all had it in for her man. And Jodie backed her up, saying that a bunch of perverts had ruined Mike’s life. Some of the girls looked uncomfortable, but Jodie and Sloane kept on and on about how ‘they’ did this and ‘they’ did that and ‘they’ were filthy and disgusting, and I’d had enough. I just snapped. I told them to shut the hell up because I was gay and you and me were dating and that I wasn’t prepared to stand there while they maligned me, someone they’d known and played with for three years.

“I challenged them all to tell me straight to my face that they thought I was vile and disgusting. I asked Tyra if she thought I had it in for Mike, just because I was one of ‘them’. Then I said maybe she was upset because she was the one who’d kissed Carmen and because she was gay herself and too scared to admit it. I told her that I was done hiding who I was and that she shouldn’t be scared to admit that she liked girls, too.”

Ashley’s eyes widened. Despite Spencer’s texts, she was still shocked that her little Spencer had stood up to them all like that, even if she hadn’t been telling the exact truth. She’d have given anything to see the looks on the girls’ faces as they were being confronted.

“What did Tyra say?”

“She didn’t say anything right away. Sloane said that they’d have known if there was ‘a gay’ on their team and that I was just shit-stirring because I wanted to be captain instead of Tyra.”

Ashley snorted. “Yeah, people only ever come out because they really want to leverage that into some kind of advantage. You know, what with all the rights and privileges that people are falling over themselves to give gays and lesbians.” It was typical of that sort of girl to assume that the only reason someone could have for challenging a bully was to gain something for themselves.

“Tyra eventually said that if I wanted be known as a pervert, then that was my business, but she wasn’t like that at all and that Carmen had got her drunk and forced her into it.”

“Do you believe her?”

“Not so much. Carmen was adamant that Tyra pushed her into the bathroom and that Tyra was the one who tried to get her naked, not the other way around. Also, when she asked me out on a date, she didn’t strike me as the pushy type. I know she doesn’t always come across that way, but she’s really quite laid-back. After I told her I wasn’t interested, she was really apologetic about having misinterpreted our friendship.”

“So, what was it like when you were at the party?”

Spencer picked at her bagel. “Well, most of the team were lovely and really supportive, so much so that I felt guilty about deceiving them. Cassie even said she’d always suspected that we were an item.”

Ashley chuckled. “Funnily enough, a random goth kid said the same thing to me yesterday.”

“Oh?”

Ashley explained the brief conversation that had happened after their kiss. Spencer, in turn, told her about her teammates’ reaction to her fake coming out. As expected, only the Mean Girls had objected in the slightest.

As Ashley started clearing the breakfast dishes away, she mused, “I wonder why so many people are happy to believe that we’re knocking boots.”

Spencer shrugged. “I dunno. I suppose if two boys behaved the way we do, were as close as we are, we’d assume they were gay.”

“Yeah, but it’s different for girls. You can have a sleepover without there being any sexual angle to it. Two straight boys of our age would never share a bed.”

“Well, that’s kinda sad, then. Maybe as a society we’re judging men unfairly?”

Ashley spluttered with laughter. “Yeah, society’s so hard on men Spence.” She went to the kitchen and stacked the plates in the dishwasher and brought through a couple of cans of soda from the fridge. “So, what happens now?”

Spencer took her drink and popped its tab. “That kinda depends on you and a couple of other things. I’m a bit torn. I still feel bad for falsely coming out, like it makes light of what it’s like for real gay people to be brave enough to do that. But, at the same time, I can’t deny that I got a real thrill from making Tyra and her crew so uncomfortable. I was gonna speak to Carmen and ask her if she thought it was acceptable for me to keep it up until graduation. It’s only a couple of months away, after all, and it’s not like I’m gonna stay in touch with most of these people.”

Ashley clutched her hand to her chest. “What? You’re not planning on asking them all to be in our wedding? I’m shocked!”

“Idiot.” Spencer swatted at her. “What do you think? If Carmen agrees that it’s not the most horribly homophobic thing for us to pretend like that, are you up for it? It’s totally okay if you’re not. I mean, we could split up and I could still be gay, but I gotta say that the fact that I’m with you seems to bother them almost more than me being gay.”

“Ignoring the fact that this whole conversation is several levels of confusing, what’s that about?”

“It’s because you’re you. It’s just like when we were at King High. They completely don’t get how I can be friends with the cool kid. I think they think I should be hanging out with the chess club or the boys in the A/V club.”

“Oh, shut up! You’re cool in an awesome Spencer way. If people don’t see that, then they’re idiots.”

“That’s sweet of you to say, but you’re biased.”

“Because I’m your bitch now?” Ashley joked.

Spencer spluttered with laughter. “I would never refer to my significant other as my bitch!”

“Should I get a notebook and write this down, so we’re consistent?”

“So, you’re okay with the plan, then?”

Ashley grinned. “Oh, I am so in on anything that makes Tyra and her minions unhappy. It is so on, Carlin.”

“Like Donkey Kong?”

“You know it.”

* * *

Ashley had always enjoyed being an outsider. It amused her that others thought of her as popular when she saw herself as being apart from the crowd, on the fringes, the periphery. She aspired to be that kid doing their own thing. Because of that, her new-found notoriety as one half of the most visibly out couple on campus appealed to her. It also opened her eyes in many ways. If you didn’t know what someone’s life was like until you walked a mile in their shoes, she’d done a marathon recently.

What she hadn’t actually been prepared for was the intense level of interest her new status engendered. In the past, with boys, the fact that she was seeing someone had been worthy at best of passing interest from a few people who knew her well. It seemed that her ‘relationship’ with Spencer, however, was worthy of unsought comment from hoards of people she didn’t even know. Most people were supportive; more than a few indicated that they were hardly surprised because it was so obvious to them that she and Spencer had been seeing each other for years; but not all of the comments had been good.

People who she had previously considered to be regular, open-minded college students—certainly as far as their own recreational drug use and sexual activities were concerned—had opined that she needed either counselling, medical treatment or the love of Jesus Christ as her personal saviour. Like an Old West gunslinger walking into a bar in all those stereotypical cowboy movies, the mere sight of Spencer and she holding hands had the power to stop people dead in their tracks. One boy in a campus coffee shop had let his jaw drop so hard that he’d poured his (hopefully scalding) hot drink all down his shirt.

Spencer had been affronted by the boy’s reaction, but Ashley had just laughed hard and given her ‘girlfriend’ a quick peck on the lips, telling her that losing his shirt and his pride was punishment enough.

And that was the other thing. At first, Ashley had delighted in saying ‘girlfriend’ because it never failed to get a reaction out of people.

“Is it true that you and Spencer are dating?” they would ask.

“No, she’s my girlfriend,” Ashley would reply pointedly. “We’re together.” She knew that she could make the simple word ‘together’ sound like a vivid scene from a porn movie. She was fine with that.

As time went on, and March turned to April, she found that she liked saying ‘girlfriend’ just because it made her feel special in a way that she had never cared about before. It pleased her just to drop the word casually into conversation. The fact that it wasn’t true didn’t change the way her heart soared and her mood lifted every time she said it. It still signified that she was worthy of being with Spencer and she could imagine no better compliment. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, she was Spencer’s and Spencer was hers. She was fine with that also.

She was also fine with their new-found policy on public touching. In all her past real relationships, she had never encouraged displays, in public or private. With Spencer, it seemed like there was nothing but affection and Ashley was luxuriating in it. There was the handholding, of course, but it soon spread to other little touches. If Spencer came up behind her in the library, she would slip her hand across Ashley’s back or stroke her shoulder. When Ashley waited outside Spencer’s classes to meet her, she was rewarded with a tight hug and a kiss on the neck. Thanks to Spencer, she had discovered that her neck was particularly sensitive, something she hadn’t appreciated previously.

While it was, in the beginning, something that they did for their constant public audience, it soon slipped over into private arenas. When they were in a movie theatre, unobserved by anyone they knew, Spencer would link her arm with Ashley’s and she would rest her hand lightly on Spencer’s thigh. When alone at Ashley’s house or in Spencer’s dorm, Spencer would often lay her head in Ashley’s lap while they talked or watched TV. Text messages and emails were signed ‘love you’. There were definitely times when Ashley had to remind herself that their lie was just that—not the truth. She had, on a few occasions, had to stop herself from leaning in and kissing Spencer properly. That, however, hadn’t happened since the first time at the softball field.

She found herself thinking about that day more and more often. Since she had experienced so much latent homophobia herself, she had actually sought out the goth kid she’d been mean to. His name was Justin and he had a lovely boyfriend called Harry. Harry was a town boy who worked in one of the local supermarkets and who was at least half in the closet—only out to his closest friends, but not to his parents or co-workers. Ashley heard a lot about Harry, enough to feel sorry for both him and Justin that they couldn’t be open about their very real love.

She was, in fact, chatting to Justin about Harry when Mean Girls Sloane and Jodie approached them with suitably evil expressions of glee on their smug faces.

“Trouble in gay paradise, Davies?” Sloane smirked.

Ashley ignored her and said to Justin, “So, you wanna come see me play on Saturday? I’m at the Roadhouse again.”

“I asked you a question,” Sloane said.

Ashley looked over her shoulder. “And here I thought I’d made it quite clear I was ignoring it.” She turned back to Justin, who was suppressing a laugh.

“So you’re not interested in the fact that your so-called girlfriend is on a real date?” Jodie asked, her voice dripping with fake concern.

“With a guy,” Sloane added unnecessarily.

Ashley turned around fully, folding her arms over her chest. “Oh, okay, I’ll bite. What do you two Twinkies think you know?”

“Spencer isn’t going to be joining you any time soon. She’s at Murray’s with Connor Gould,” Jodie said.

“Yeah,” Sloane agreed, “and they were sitting in one of the corner booths, real close.”

“Oh my God! My girlfriend is sitting in a coffee shop? With a guy from her Politics class?” She glanced at Justin in mock horror. “Do you think they’ll cancel her gay membership card?”

“Not unless he’s stirring her coffee with his dick,” Justin said. He had moved to stand right by her shoulder in a show of solidarity.

“Tell me that’s not what’s happening!” Ashley pleaded. “Anything but that.”

“Scoff all you want,” Sloane said. “He’s into her and she knows it, so she wouldn’t have said yes if she wasn’t interested. It’s not even the first time she’s dated him behind your back.”

Ashley rolled her eyes. “Back in March? Yeah, I know. They had coffee then, too. Oh, wait, does he have some heinous caffeine-based scheme to make her stop being gay?”

Sloane sneered at her. “I get that a girl like Spencer probably has to take what she’s offered, but now that there’s the chance of a real relationship, she’s not going to stay with a dyke, even a rich one like you.”

Ashley’s joking mood turned serious very quickly. “I don’t give a fuck what you think or say about me, Sloane, but Spencer is worth twenty of you or me. There’s no such thing as ‘a girl like Spencer’—there’s only Spencer! Unlike you, she’s smart and funny and beautiful, inside and out.” She was jabbing her finger in Sloane’s face. At least Jodie had the sense to take a step back. Sloane just kept sneering. “You be very fucking careful about what you say about my girlfriend.”

“Or you’ll what? What exactly are you and mini-Marilyn Manson here going to do?”

“It’s not the 1950s, Sloane. Hate speech alone is enough to get you kicked off your precious team. Just because Spencer puts team loyalty before her own hurt feelings, don’t make the mistake of thinking that I’m as lovely and understanding as her.” She took a step back before she did something ill-advised. “Now get the fuck out of my sight.”

“Come on,” Jodie said, pulling at Sloane’s arm. “It’s not worth it.”

Sloane let herself be dragged away, but not before shouting out, “Bite me!”

Ashley just shook her head, as Justin squeezed her shoulder.

“What is their problem?” she asked.

“They can’t stand it when two people like you and Spencer are really happy, because they don’t know what that feels like.”

Ashley closed her eyes. She felt bad about deceiving Justin. He was a nice guy and he’d poured her heart out to her, believing that they were very much alike.

“Do you think any of it’s true, what they said?” he asked.

She shrugged. “Spencer probably is having coffee with Connor Gould. I doubt she thinks it’s a date.” An image of Spencer, her head bent over a textbook, blonde hair falling over her eyes, lip between her teeth, popped into her head. “She probably thinks it’s a study session.”

“You could text her, give her a heads up.”

Ashley shook her head. “I don’t have to. I trust her.” And she smiled. Because she did trust Spencer, and she knew Spencer would never cheat on her. Never cheat on their arrangement, she had to correct herself mentally.

Yeah, their arrangement.

* * * * *

Next up: Part II [A]

19 Comments

  1. Willweaver
    Posted 23 November 2012 at 8.13pm | Permalink

    This is amaaaaazing!

  2. Posted 23 November 2012 at 9.06pm | Permalink

    Oh this is so cute. I can’t wait to read more…and such a good prompt!

  3. cbrammer
    Posted 23 November 2012 at 10.04pm | Permalink

    What a great Thanksgiving gift. The start of a beautifully written story. I can’t get enough of Spencer and Ashley faking a relationship (Whether it is for citizenship or standing up for injustice). Ashley obviously has been in love with Spencer forever. I’m anxious to see how this deceiving relationship gets muddied to the point where both girls start questioning whether they are indirectly fooling themselves.

    I really enjoyed their banter in the beginning. I’m not sure why I liked the part where Spencer retaliated and called Ashley out for her usage of the word ‘Macking’ so much, but I literally laughed out loud.

    They are super cute together. I’m interested to find out how their new natural affection toward each other has impacted Spencer.

  4. Meech
    Posted 24 November 2012 at 12.25am | Permalink

    What is it with you and your never-ending talent in creating all these amazing stories for me to obsess over being updated? It’s not healthy for me! But neither was Thanksgiving dinner last night. Whoopsie.

    Great start, naturally I’m loving it. Can’t wait for this little arrangement to evolve even more than it already has. I also got seriously excited over Ashley talking to the skanks. Something about hot, badass women being well-worded and rightfully intimidating with their threats. Or something like that.

    Thank you for your continued investment in this fandom. It’s so nice to never be disappointed with any of your material.

    @Michelle_Kaufmn

  5. SmurfyMc
    Posted 24 November 2012 at 1.04am | Permalink

    Fantastic start Dev! I’m excited.:D Love the premise, love the characters, and I especially love the build up you’ve created already. :D :D :D

  6. lee
    Posted 24 November 2012 at 3.12am | Permalink

    i really enjoy seeing how your taking a prompt a building it out and shaping it

  7. Giselle Santi
    Posted 24 November 2012 at 9.28am | Permalink

    I keep coming back here hoping for an update on Let’s Get Married and keep finding these little pearls of writing! Another great story to obssess about an update! ;-) Thank you very much for sharing your incredible talent! Look forward to the next part…

  8. frenchgirl
    Posted 24 November 2012 at 1.38pm | Permalink

    When I saw a mail from your website I was also really hoping it was an update on Let’s get married…but now that I’ve read this my disappointment is forgotten, I love this new idea and how you’ve got this story started !
    Hope the next part will come soon !! :D

  9. Posted 24 November 2012 at 2.13pm | Permalink

    I like it and cant wait for more

  10. jsparky
    Posted 24 November 2012 at 3.06pm | Permalink

    Woot! Woot! That’s all, for now :)

  11. Posted 24 November 2012 at 11.25pm | Permalink

    Such a great set up for this story. I love the way Ashley and Spencer interact with each other – the dialogue is fantastic. Plus the way you got Spencer to pretend Ashley is her girlfriend didn’t seem forced or something I couldn’t believe in.

    It’s going to be interesting to see the fallout of Spencer’s “date”, whether she is on one or not, I don’t think will change the fact that they have to face their growing feelings.

    I say this a lot…but…I can’t wait to read more!

  12. Stacey
    Posted 25 November 2012 at 12.12am | Permalink

    Oooo… I like this…. Its different but still very amazing. Please hurry with an update.

  13. tongue-tied
    Posted 25 November 2012 at 9.02am | Permalink

    Wow, can’t wait for more! This really is very good by the way, yes indeed…

  14. Clom
    Posted 25 November 2012 at 9.36am | Permalink

    I read this on my phone. I re-read it on here. I read it here, I read it there, I read it in my underwear (and other clothing on top). I could read it commando if so commanded, but that’s entirely up to you.

    Like all your work, I could read this endlessly. And I know we keep harping back on this point, but one of the things you’re so AMAZING at, is writing completely different voices but having them all be utterly authentic. I mean, there is no parallel between this Ashley (and her cheek scratch flip of the bird…. I so do that), and the Ashley in Savannah. And YET, they both come out of your brain.

    I love you brain. I kinda covet your brain.

    Can we bottle it?

    And must I take off my scants to read?

  15. SONiluv
    Posted 26 November 2012 at 1.35am | Permalink

    I am thankful for you and your wonderful talent and willingness to share it with us!!!!! I’m just as engulfed in this story as the others and I can’t get enough. Thank you again and I’ll be back looking for more!

  16. tee452
    Posted 26 November 2012 at 5.03am | Permalink

    Ashley’s thoughts about the softball stereotype had me rolling. I may or may not resemble those remarks.

    And I’m so glad folks are still prompting y’all. It’s nice.

    Thanks, Dev. Great start.

  17. Posted 28 November 2012 at 8.02am | Permalink

    Lord, help. This is gonna turn into one helluva sexy mess, I can see it. Gosh Dev, you’re so gosh darn talented. Ashley is gonna fall, quick. Or maybe she’ll try and distract herself from entirely getting too intimate with Spencer.

    We’ll never know.

    You’re job, Dev C:

  18. Posted 28 November 2012 at 8.03am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Julie is bored. and commented:
    Read This. Spashley.

  19. Angela
    Posted 28 November 2012 at 6.28pm | Permalink

    I read sooo many Spashley fanfics, it’s pretty much all I do with my free time but they don’t compare to the writing on this website at all! I reload this website like 4 or 5 times a day wishing for an update of any kind. I don’t know how you and clom do it.

    Now I will go re read some of them cause I miss it so much.

    Thank you for this amazing writing I’ve never been much for reading but I LOVE reading your stories.

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