Those Whole Girls (Run In Grace)
by Jengrrrl

Sometimes she can't remember Ohio, but when she does she thinks of it as the life before she started living. A wonderland of childhood fantasy. Where it was actually cold at Christmas and her girlfriends were just that, friends who were girls.

Ohio was the place where her mom wasn't suspicious 24/7 and her dad didn't have those sad eyes that he can't quite hide. Spencer knows better, but she tries to ignore the pang of regret that sits in her chest whenever she catches her dad watching her mom like he's a heartbeat away from losing her.

Even Clay's different. Still sweet Clay, still her brother, but somehow more distant than ever, with friends she doesn't know and can't begin to understand. She loves him, but she can't shake the feeling she's losing him, too.

At least Glen's the same: incorrigible Glen, with his wide smile and wicked ways. She doesn't think he could ever change. She hopes he never does.


Ashley calls Los Angeles La-La Land. The name shouldn't feel right, not after all these weeks, but Spencer admits that there's still a rush of exhilaration that comes from walking out the door and knowing that this world remains uncharted; that she's never quite sure what's coming 'round the bend.

For Spencer, L.A. is like Ashley: new, unpredictable, beautiful and probably a little toxic. It's the place of waking dreams and nightmares.

She may love it.


She heads off to Malibu one Saturday when Aiden invites her. Because Aiden's hot and she can't quite let go of certain teenage fantasies.

He tries to teach her to surf, but she's horrible and he doesn't even stifle his laughter when she wipes out for the fifth or sixth or twentieth time. "You suck," he says, helping her recover her board.

"Hey, you're the teacher. I'm only as good as you make me," she answers as she pushes her wet hair out of her eyes. When he shrugs and grins wide, she can't help but giggle. She feels like she's thirteen, and thirteen was a lifetime ago.

"So. You and Ashley," he says, once they're back to lying on hot sand.

"Me and Ashley what?"


"Ashley's my friend." There's no defensiveness in Spencer's tone. She wouldn't deny it if they were more than that. Not to Aiden. Not anymore.

"Yeah, she was my friend, too. Once upon a time."

Spencer squints into the sun. "I thought you are. Friends."

"You can't ever go back. Not really."


In the dead of night, when she's alone and not sleeping, she runs her fingers over her lips and wonders if kissing Ashley will ruin everything.


She's in the high school locker room, changing, when Ashley walks in. Which is strange because Ashley doesn't have P.E. this period. Stranger still is that Spencer feels like she should hurry up and put her clothes back on. It shouldn't matter; Ashley's seen her in bra and panties lots of times. And maybe it wouldn't, if Ashley hadn't almost-kissed her. But somehow, now, it does matter.

"So, we on for tomorrow?"

"What's tomorrow?" Spencer asks, intent on lacing up her sneakers.

"Okay, this weird, nervous shit? Has got to stop."

"I don't..."

"You're, like, all uncomfortable around me. Stop."


"Seriously, Spencer. I'm not gonna jump your bones, all right?" She's smiling the whole time she's talking, but Spencer thinks she notes an edge to Ashley's voice.

"I know," she replies. "I'm fine. What's tomorrow?"

"I've got a gig. Please don't tell me you forgot."

She had, and she feels terrible. "Oh, no! Of course not! I'll be there."

Ashley nods and dips her head down next to Spencer's. For a moment, Spencer stops breathing, sure that Ashley's going to kiss her. She does, but her lips barely graze Spencer's cheek, and when she leans away, her smile's all but faded. "Awesome. But if you sneak out with Aiden again, it'll mean murder."

And as quickly as she appeared, Ashley's gone. From the far end of her row of lockers, Spencer hears Madison mumble, rather loudly, "Lesbos."

Spencer's shoelaces remain untied a little longer.


It's hot in the club, probably a good twenty degrees warmer than it is outside. Spencer takes her jacket off as soon as she enters and feels the oppressive air hit her body.

It takes two minutes to find Ashley; she's in a closet-sized dressing room near the back of the bar. When Spencer sees her, she's sitting in front of a mirror, mouthing words Spencer can't hear.


Ashley's gaze shifts and her eyes lock with Spencer's reflection. "Hey, yourself."


The corner of Ashley's mouth turns up ever so slightly. "I will be."

"Good." They grow momentarily quiet as Spencer reaches for one of Ashley's curls, tucks the errant strand of hair behind her ear. "You'll be great."

"Yeah, and maybe this time you'll hang around long enough to hear me."

"Ash... Yes."

"That's all I need."


So, Los Angeles is a little different than Spencer imagined it would be. Still new, still different. It's changed her, and it's changed her family, and she doesn't know where they'll all go from here.

But Los Angeles is comfortable, too, and easy in a way she wouldn't have thought possible. She just lets herself slip into the flow of pure kineticism, that intangible energy that crackles in the air. And she knows she could do that with Ashley, too. Let herself be carried off.


They meet up again in the parking lot, because Ashley's dad shows up right at the end of her set, and Spencer doesn't want to be in the way. It's thirty minutes before she sees Ashley heading out the back exit, scanning the lot like she's looking for something. When she catches sight of Spencer, she grins and waves.

"God, I thought you left."

"No, just waiting. It was ridiculously hot in there. Plus, your dad--"

"I totally wanted to introduce you!"

Spencer shakes her head. "No, you guys needed to be alone. Next time?"

"Definitely." Ashley wraps her fingers around Spencer's arm and leads them toward her car. "So, did you like it?"

"It was amazing, Ash. I was really proud of you." And she was. She remembers the way Ashley's voice carried and sent a tiny thrill through her. It was the best kind of surprise, Ashley's talent.

"Really? I was so nervous. Like, you were actually there, and listening, and, it was kind of tense, you know?"

They climb into the car as Spencer says, "You had no reason to be nervous. It was just me." She laughs. "Well, and about sixty other people."

"Only you mattered."

There's an awkward moment of silence, because Spencer doesn't know how to reply. So she goes for polite and says, "Thanks" as she stares down at the seat belt she's trying to buckle.

"Spencer?" And Ashley's hand is on hers, warm and gentle as it takes the belt out of her grip. There's a quiet *whoosh* as it flies back to its original position. But Spencer is still staring at her hand in Ashley's. "Spence?"

She feels Ashley's lips before she works up the nerve to look her in the eye. It's probably better this way, because Spencer doesn't think she would have worked up the nerve, and this is nice. Ashley's mouth is soft, and when she dips her tongue gingerly into Spencer's mouth, Spencer is sure she tastes chamomile and Hubba Bubba and the wax from Ashley's lipstick, and a sweetness, too, she's never known that can only be Ashley herself.

It doesn't last nearly as long as Spencer would have liked, and when they part she can feel a deep flush settle in her cheeks. Ashley's eyes are wide and bright. There's only a hint of a smile on her face as she says, "So."

"So." Spencer feels a giggle work up her throat. She feels happy and...relieved.

"That wasn't so bad, was it?" And Ashley grins wide.

A bubble of laughter escapes Spencer. She shakes her head, "Not bad."

Ashley starts to laugh too, but she manages enough seriousness to ask, "Wanna try it again?"

There's no waiting for a response, because their mouths meet furious, and there they are, making out in Ashley's car.

They part again when they hear a wolf whistle coming from a random drunk, so wasted he's leaning up against his buddy for support as they walk toward a pickup. Then Ashley and Spencer both laugh so hard they can't stop, and they wrap their arms around each other and laugh on, not caring about the world or anyone.


Spencer lies in bed and touches her fingers to her mouth. Her lips feel swollen and she closes her eyes to imagine Ashley running her thumb against them, kissing them gently as she wishes her good night. They'll meet again tomorrow.

As she falls into sleep, Spencer dreams of the purple-orange, haze of Los Angeles sunsets, and the beauty of Ashley's hands.


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