UCLA Campus – Morning
The campus paths bustled with morning activity as students made their way to and from class. Some sat on the various stone benches, textbooks open as they rushed to finish a reading assignment they hadn’t finished the previous night. Others walked unconcerned, headphones in place and music blaring in their ears. Leaning against the light pole just outside the mathematics building, Jackson waited patiently. His eyes were trained on a particular blonde coming up the walkway, and he lazily pushed off of the post when she neared.
“Hey, Spence. How was European Film?” the boy asked.
“It was…fascinating. Inspirational, even.”
Spencer sighed, a hint of a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. “Okay, so I wasn’t really paying attention.”
“A little early in the semester for that, isn’t it?”
“It’s not my fault.” She pulled a slip of paper out of her back pocket. “I found this tucked into my notebook this morning.”
Jackson unfolded the small note, finding neat cursive prose and a doodle of a flower within. He read the words out loud.
You are in every song I sing,
Every dream I dream.
Every thought I think.
Every breath I take.
Jackson scoffed in disgust and handed the note back. “Ugh, what a bitch.” Spencer laughed, and the boy continued. “Seriously, someone needs to talk to that girl. How dare she, distracting you from your classes with such filth.”
The blonde carefully slid the note back into her pocket. “I suppose it’s better than when she used to text me during class all junior year.”
A ghost of a smirk crossed Jackson’s lips. “Okay, but just be sure to tell me if she starts changing your laptop wallpaper to something naughty.”
“So I can scold her,” he clarified innocently.
Spencer pointed a finger at him. “You better watch it, mister, or I’m going to tell Melanie how perverted her boyfriend is.”
The boy easily dismissed it. “Eh, she already knows.”
At that moment, a female voice called from across the lawn. “Hey, Jackson!”
The pair looked to see a familiar girl with long dark hair and green eyes making her way towards them.
“Hey, Sasha!” Jackson greeted in return. When the older girl caught up to them, he asked, “What are you up to?”
“Just making the rounds, you know.” The brunette turned to Jackson’s companion. “You’re Spencer, right? I don’t think we ever actually met before.”
With the sophomore’s attention suddenly on her, Spencer’s cheeks flushed red. “Yeah, uh…no, we haven’t.” She gave an awkward little wave. “Hi.”
Sasha just smiled kindly. “Hi back. So, listen, Alpha Delta Pi is throwing a party tonight to kick off the new semester and welcome the new pledges. Nothing too wild…not like the frat houses, anyway. Short notice, I know, but do you guys want to come?”
“Sure, I’m game,” Jackson replied with a confident nod. “Gives me an excuse to put off that history assignment.”
Spencer followed, sounding less sure. “Yeah, maybe.”
Pulling a couple yellow flyers out of the folder she held, Sasha handed one to both acquaintances. “The address is on there. The more the merrier, so make sure you bring your girls.”
“All right, see you around, Sasha,” Jackson said, playfully bumping fists with her. As the sophomore headed off in a different direction, the boy scanned the flyer in his hand. “First party of our college careers. What do you think?”
Spencer regarded her own invitation. “I’ll probably have to drag Ashley kicking and screaming, but at least you’d get to meet her.”
“Does she really hate parties that much?”
“Yes, but she’ll do almost anything I ask her to, so…”
“Crack that whip, Spencer,” Jackson joked.
“Shut up,” the blonde returned lamely. “Hey, how do you know Sasha?”
“She’s my lab partner in Advanced Physics,” the boy answered while stuffing the flyer into his book bag. “She’s pretty chill. What about you?”
“She went to King High, so I saw her around school a couple times before she graduated.”
The blonde nodded in affirmation. “Yeah. We never formally met, but my friend Aiden dated her for a little while last year.”
Jackson was quiet for a moment, his brows scrunched together in thought. “Wait, I thought Aiden was dating Ashley’s sister back then…”
“Uh…” Spencer cleared her throat. “Yeah…among others…” she murmured. The boy was ready to inquire, but she shook her head. “You know, that’s actually a much longer story than we have time for right now, so…”
“Typical high school drama or worthy of Oprah?”
“I’d say more in between, like a soap opera.”
“The Young and the Restless or All My Children?”
The blonde’s expression conveyed her confusion. “What’s the difference?”
“Well, The Young and the Restless is more focused on the clash between…” Jackson trailed off, seeing the skeptical look Spencer was giving him. “...no idea.”
The blonde smirked. “Uh huh.”
Coughing, Jackson steered himself back on track. “At any rate, I have got to hear this story.”
Spencer patted him on the shoulder. “Later. It’s a little hard to follow the first time through, so…there might be diagrams involved.”
His curiosity obviously peaked, Jackson opened the door to the math building, letting the blonde enter first.
SMC Gymnasium — Morning
The pings of a bouncing basketball and the squeaking of shoes on hardwood rang throughout the gym. Ten young men—half in blue jerseys and the others in gold—mingled and battled for the ball, while the rest of the team sat watching from the sidelines.
A tall dark-haired boy in blue took the defensive against the gold team’s center. He made a play for the ball but came up empty-handed as the other student feinted around him.
A missed shot and rebound later from the boys in gold, the same dark-haired player received a pass and took an open three-pointer. The ball hit the rim and bounced off, falling into the waiting hands of the opposing team. The gold point guard maneuvered his way across the court to score his own three-point shot.
A whistle sounded, calling both sides to a halt. After a few words to his team, the coach ended the practice, and the young men all headed to the locker room. Aiden was silent even as his teammates chatted animatedly around him. He avoided eye contact with any of his peers, keeping his head down as he changed out of his gym clothes.
Passing by Aiden on his way out of the locker room, Noah gave him a nudge. “Better start showing some moves out there. This ain’t high school anymore, boyo. Get used to it.”
Aiden’s jaw clenched as he stuffed his gym bag more forcefully with his gear.
“Hey, Aiden, don’t sweat it, “ one of his other teammates called over. “Just an off day, right?”
“Right,” the boy repeated, not sounding convinced. Slamming his locker, he grabbed his bags and walked out of the locker room.
Kyla and Aiden’s Apartment – Same Time
Eyes fixed on the small television sitting on top of the dresser, the newest resident of Kyla and Aiden’s apartment reclined against the headboard of his bed. The bowl of cereal in his hands did not distract his attention from the yellow cartoon sponge on the color screen.
The boy jolted, almost spilling milk and Frosted Flakes all over himself. “What?”
Kyla appeared in his doorway, one hand on her hip and the other held out in front of her. “You got peanut butter on the couch.”
A blonde brow scrunched together in confusion. “No I didn’t.”
Looking first at her fingers, which had traces of peanut butter smeared on their tips, the brunette turned her skeptical gaze back to her roommate. “Yeah, you did.”
“Pretty sure I didn’t.”
“Then how did it get there?”
Glen held up his hands. “Hey, what you and Aiden do while I’m at class—“
“This isn’t a joke, Glen. And it’s not just this, either. I mean, what the heck is that?” she asked, pointing to the wet towel laying haphazardly in the middle of the bedroom floor.
“Um, a towel?”
“A wet towel.”
Glen shrugged. “Yeah?”
“On the carpet.”
“I was going to pick it up.”
Kyla threw up her hands. “When? After the mold started spawning little baby molds? And don’t even get me started on the whole walking around naked thing.”
“That was one time!” he argued. “Chill out, Kyla, jeez.”
“Boys...” the girl muttered. “As if Aiden wasn’t bad enough.”
Oblivious to the strange expression crossing her roommate’s face, the petite brunette stalked away. After staring at the vacated doorway a moment longer, Glen turned back to the television and took a bite of his breakfast.
UCLA Campus – Early Afternoon
Lounging on the verdant grasses of Dickson Plaza, Ashley bounced her foot in the air to a tuneless beat, her eyes closed against the midday sun. It wasn’t long before a shadow fell across her.
“Comfy?” a familiar voice greeted.
The brunette cracked an eye open to squint up at Spencer’s bright smile. “Not yet.” Grabbing the nearest hand, she tugged the blonde down next to her. “Now I am.” After a brief kiss, Ashley nodded her head towards the small cooler sitting close by. “I brought sandwiches.”
“You’re such a homemaker, Ash.”
The brunette shrugged the teasing smile off. “I’ve been called worse.”
Sitting up, Spencer pulled the cooler over and started rummaging through its contents. “BLT and cut diagonally? Fancy.”
“I know,” Ashley agreed dramatically. “I slaved for hours upon hours…watching your mother make them.”
The younger girl looked up at her companion in confusion. “My mother?”
“She says hi, by the way,” the brunette remarked casually as she set the two sandwiches on a plate between them.
“You saw my mom…”
Ashley gestured absently with her hand and pulled out the two bottles of water next. “Yeah, she stopped by earlier, and I can’t fry bacon to save my already decrepit soul, so she did the mom thing and took over before I burned the loft down.”
Several seconds ticked by.
“Why was my mother at the loft this morning?”
The older girl chuckled at the worry in the blonde’s tone. “She just wanted to check in. Make sure you were going to class, that I was still properly providing for you, that we hadn’t erected any Pagan altars…you know, the usual.”
Spencer dropped her gaze to her sandwich. “…sounds like I should put in some mother-daughter time.”
“Sounds like one more thing I’ll have to compete with,” Ashley mimicked with a melancholy nod.
“You know there’s no contest when it comes to you.”
“Except for your mom, your classes, and your swanky new college friends.”
Spencer opened her mouth but closed it without speaking, and Ashley merely watched as the other girl fiddled with the lettuce sticking out of her sandwich.
Finally, the brunette gave a verbal prod. “What?”
“What?” Spencer echoed unthinkingly.
“You’re biting your lip.”
“And that means there’s something you want to talk about, but you’re afraid to bring it up,” the brunette stated knowingly. “What is it?”
Spencer studied her girlfriend’s face, the gears in her head obviously turning. Giving up, the blonde sighed. “…okay, so there’s this party tonight that JJ and I were invited to, and I was thinking we could go.”
Ashley shrugged carelessly. “You don’t need my permission.”
“Oh. That we.” Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. “…this isn’t a cheerleading thing, is it?”
“No!” the blonde repeated more vehemently. “Look, Sasha’s sorority is throwing a party for the new pledges, and—“
“Wait, Sasha?” Ashley interrupted. “As in, Miller? The Psycho Killer?”
“She’s a psych. student, Ash, not a psycho.”
“Not seeing the difference.”
Spencer shook her head in defeat. “The point is, she asked me to come.”
Unable to help herself, Ashley smirked. “Like a date?”
“The date would be with you, doofus. This thing Sasha invited me to is just a…gathering. A…a meeting of—“
“Lips?” the brunette offered glibly.
“Minds,” Spencer corrected sternly. “Friends. Friends of friends. And what is it with you thinking every other girl I spend time with is a date?”
“Because that’s usually what it ends up being.” Ashley ticked off her fingers as she recounted past names. “Griffith Park. Bangs. Fred. And now The Killer.”
“Well, then I guess you better come along to shield me from her serial advances.”
Ashley’s grin slowly faded as her teasing subsided. “Spence…I’m not going to know anyone there.”
“You won’t not know anyone there,” Spencer assured her, squeezing her hand. “You’ll know JJ and Melanie…just not, you know…in the sense of having already met them...”
“Is that supposed to be comforting?”
“Come on! You have to meet them eventually, and since you weren’t too fond of the double date idea…”
“You decided a party full of drunken undergrads would be an appropriate solution?” the brunette finished disbelievingly.
“You’re the one who said we should go out more often,” the blonde reasoned.
“Yeah, you-and-me we,” Ashley parroted. “Not you, me, and half the UCLA underclassmen.”
Spencer regarded the older girl with an enduring stare, causing Ashley to lift her hands in surrender. “Okay, okay. You’re right about the whole ‘going out thing.’” She forced a grin. “I’m sure it’ll be fun.”
Kyla and Aiden’s Apartment – Mid-afternoon
“Are you kidding? This is going to suck!”
Perched on different pieces of furniture in the living room, Kyla and Glen exchanged a bemused glance as the other girl paced between them.
The boy waved off her distress. “Calm down, Ashley, jeez. You’re practically hyperventilating.”
“Why are you so worked up over this?” Kyla wondered. “It’s not like it’s a formal dance.”
Ashley halted her pacing and plopped down on the end of the couch opposite her sister. “Formal or not, I don’t do social ‘gatherings,’ and…why does it smell like peanut butter?” While the other brunette threw an accusing frown at Glen, Ashley shook it off and continued her previous line of thought. “Look, the point is, me and parties just don’t go together. Like oil and water, or…” she pulled a face, “Britney and Christina.”
Kyla shared in her sister’s look of disdain. “Or Britney and rehab.”
“Britney and a head full of shaving cream.”
“Britney and –“
“Okay!” Glen interrupted. “We get it. You hate parties. You know, for a girl who loves attention, you’re pretty anti-social.”
“I’m not anti-social!” Ashley claimed hotly. “I just…don’t think I’d fit in with all the college people.”
Glen shrugged. “You get along fine with me, don’t you?”
“Despite how you barely qualify as a college student, you’re Spencer’s brother. I don’t have to pretend to like you to make her happy.”
“Does this mean I can start kicking you out of here?”
“No,” both girls answered. While the boy pouted, Kyla turned back to her sister. “You’ll go, you’ll mingle, you’ll have an appreciative girlfriend…you’ll be fine.”
Ashley’s eyes widened. “You’re not coming?”
”Marital obligation thing,” Kyla explained offhandedly. “Aiden’s ex invited you guys.”
“Riiiight,” Ashley drawled before looking to Glen. “What about you, ‘college boy’? Going to crash as usual?”
The boy donned a dreamy expression. “A party with hot sorority chicks…hard to turn down.” Ignoring the twin eye rolls from the two girls, he shrugged. “Nah, not this time. I’m just so dead right now. My classes are killing me.”
“I’ll be sure to tweet my disappointment,” Ashley replied dryly.
“Shouldn’t you be off somewhere macking on my sister?”
“Shouldn’t you be in the dorms instead of mooching off mine?” she retorted easily.
The two glared at each other, but their underlying smirks belied their good humor. Interrupting their play, the front door opened and then slammed loudly. Aiden stalked into the living room, pausing only briefly when he realized he wasn’t alone in the apartment. Without a word, he continued on to the bedroom.
Kyla’s shoulders drooped a fraction. “How was practice?” she called after him.
“Fine,” came the gruff response.
The slump in the girl’s shoulders became more pronounced. Ashley gave her a look of only mild sympathy before pointing towards the door.
“I’m going to head out. Apparently, I have some macking to catch up on,” she emphasized, throwing one last smirk in Glen’s direction.
As Ashley left, Aiden reemerged from the bedroom and walked into the kitchen. Kyla stood from her seat and followed him in, watching as he took a bottle of water out of the refrigerator.
Cautiously, she broke the silence. “Is something wrong?”
“Bad morning,” he answered simply, taking a drink of his water.
“I’m sorry.” She rubbed his arm. “What happened?”
Kyla chewed on her lip. “Well…hey, at least you don’t have class tomorrow, right? How about we have a movie night? We can relax, get in some quality chick flicks I know you like but won’t admit, and we can sleep in tomorrow.” She flashed a hopeful grin. “What do you say?”
A smile, though small, crossed Aiden’s face. “Yeah. That sounds good.”
From the kitchen doorway, Glen happily chimed in. “Great! I’ll bring the popcorn!”
The identical expressions worn by husband and wife suggested something less than amusement.
UCLA Campus – Late Afternoon
“I’m never going to make it through World Lit,” Jackson groaned as he, Melanie, and Spencer made their way out of their liberal arts building.
“It might not be as bad as you think,” Spencer offered.
Her optimism was not quite reassuring to the young man. “A ten-page term paper on the use of color in Crime and Punishment? Single-spaced? It’s punishment all right, but what was our crime?”
Melanie nodded in agreement. “I get a headache just from trying to pronounce their names. How many v’s and y’s do they need?”
Spencer shrugged, turning onto the main sidewalk. “At least we have eight weeks to do it.”
“Six," Jackson corrected. “We have six weeks until the first draft is due. Three until we’re supposed to be all the way through the book.”
“I guess I know what our new late night activities are going to be,” the other blonde teased.
“Using Crime and Punishment as your lame excuse instead of Harry Potter?” Jackson easily threw back.
With a sound of disgust, Melanie backhanded the boy’s arm. “Jerk! Better Harry Potter than Warcraft.”
“Hey, don’t hate the ‘craft.”
Grinning to herself as her friends bickered, Spencer pulled her keys out of her purse. Pushing the unlock button on the miniature remote, she made the lights flash on a sleek sports car of a deep emerald color.
Jackson stopped dead in his tracks. “Whoa.”
Spencer looked over at him. “What?” She followed his gaze “Oh. Yeah…”
“This is your car?”
The boy’s mouth hung open in disbelief, and Melanie gave him a nudge. “Honey? You’re drooling.”
Eventually, a few shocked words tumbled out. “How? What? How?”
Spencer shrugged nonchalantly. “A present from Ashley.”
Jackson’s eyes widened even more. “Your girlfriend bought you a car?”
“Well, it’s certainly more practical than an engagement ring,” Melanie reasoned, causing the other blonde to flush with an embarrassed grin. As an afterthought, she leaned closer to her boyfriend. “…I want the ring.”
Still focused on the sports car before him, Jackson disregarded Melanie’s comment. “Okay, scratch that. Your girlfriend bought you this car?”
The filmmaker regarded the vehicle in question. “She told me to pick one. So I did.”
“A 2006 Maserati Quattroporte?”
“Six cylinder or eight?”
“You’d have to ask Ashley.”
“What’s her top speed?”
“Do you know what kind of mileage she gets?”
“I’m not sure.”
“…what do you know?”
“Driving manual is not as easy as it looks.” At Jackson’s blank stare, Spencer blushed faintly. “I…may have…picked the pretty green one.” She shrugged as she looked over at the Maserati. “Ash tried to get me to go with a new model, but I really liked the color on this one. Besides, the newer ones are, like, a hundred thousand dollars, and I felt bad enough letting her pay sixty.”
Jackson’s eyes seemed to bulge even more as he gaped at the blonde. “...I think I made friends with the wrong lesbian.”
Gasping, Spencer feigned injury. “I’m not interesting enough for you anymore?”
“That depends. What kind of car does Ashley drive?”
Spencer almost answered, then hesitated. “…tell you what: you can ask her tonight since she’ll have more fun telling you than I will.” She bounced happily. “I’m so glad you guys will finally get to meet her! I can’t guarantee she’ll buy you a car, but I think you’ll like her anyway.”
Melanie matched the other blonde’s enthusiasm. “Yeah, we’re looking forward to it.”
With a quick glance to her car, Spencer was struck with a thought. “Hey, do you guys want a ride home?”
Jackson perked up. “Hell yeah! I mean, what do you think, Mel?”
She smiled knowingly. “Sure, Spencer. Thanks.” While her boyfriend tried to hide his excitement, she winked at the other girl. “So, JJ, if I was laying stark naked on the hood of this car, which would you rather take for a test drive?”
“The c—“ Jackson cut his answer and redirected the hand that had started to point at the car. “…neither.” Met with a raised eyebrow, the boy rushed to cover his tracks. “Not only because I wouldn’t choose a car over you, but because I would never equate…physical intimacy with driving a car.”
Melanie patted Jackson on the cheek. “Nice try.”
The boy shrugged it off and opened the front passenger door. “Whatever. You can sit in the back, then.”
Spencer covered her laugh while Melanie’s jaw fell open. Shaking her head, the girlfriend climbing into the back seat.
Ashley and Spencer’s Loft – Early Evening
Alone in their shared bedroom and clad only in a black bra and panties, Ashley laid out an assortment of shirts, blouses, tanks, shorts, and skirts on the bed. The sound of the shower in the adjoining bathroom could be heard through the closed door. Humming to herself, the brunette held up different articles of clothing, appraising their mix-and-match qualities. Her humming turned to quiet singing, and she made no sign of hearing the shower shut off. When she found what looked to be a suitable combination, she began singing the ballad melody louder, not seeing Spencer—hair wet and body towel-wrapped—stop in the bathroom doorway.
“…and will that love be strong when old feelings start to stir? Looks like we made it. Left each other on the way to another love. Loo—“ Abruptly noticing her girlfriend leaning against the doorframe, eyebrow quirked up, Ashley awkwardly switched to a more rhythmic cadence of lyrics mid-note. “—ose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it. You better never let it go, go.”
Spencer just stared at her, unconvinced. “…Barry Manilow?”
The brunette slumped in shame. “…you weren’t supposed to hear that…”
“And yet you don’t like Kelly Clarkson.”
“It was on the radio earlier,” Ashley defended. “Got stuck in my head.”
The blonde nodded as though to appease her. “And just how long were you listening to good ol’ Barry before switching stations?”
Faltering, Ashley changed the subject. “…hey, isn’t there a party you’re supposed to be dragging me to? Not that I don’t love seeing you in nothing but a towel, but I’d rather keep that just between us.”
“Fine,” Spencer relented. “But if I catch you singing Copacabana, I might suggest you take up therapy again.”
As the blonde disappeared into the bathroom and switched on her blow drier, Ashley turned back to her wardrobe choices, again murmuring softly to herself.
“Her name was Lola. She was a—“ Realizing what she was doing, Ashley violently shook her head. “Oh, son of a—!“
She dropped her head into her hands with a groan.
Kyla and Aiden’s Apartment – Early Evening
Coming into the living room, Glen saw Kyla and Aiden talking near the front door, the latter holding his car keys. He rubbed his hands together. “So what are we watching?”
The petite brunette slipped her jacket on. “We’re going to rent P.S. I Love You.”
The blonde boy pulled a face. “Aw, come on! A chick flick? No way. I am not watching that.”
“Good, then you can leave,” Aiden muttered.
Kyla took a different approach. “Do you have a better suggestion?”
“How about the new Resident Evil?”
“Your suggestion for a relaxing night in is watching people hacking zombies to pieces?” the girl wondered incredulously.
“Who said anything about relaxing?”
Aiden pointed to Kyla. “We did. We’re watching P.S.”
Glen crossed his arms. “No, we’re not. It’s stupid.”
“More stupid than zombies?”
“Yes!” Glen exclaimed. “Aiden, you’re a guy. Quit with the PMS and start acting like one.”
“You know what, Glen—“
Kyla cut him off, placing a hand on his arm. “Aiden.” When her husband relented, she turned to their roommate. “Okay, why don’t you want to watch it, and don’t tell me it’s because it’s a chick flick.” The blonde slouched as he mumbled an answer. “What?”
“Because it makes me miss Chelsea,” he said more clearly.
Kyla’s expression softened. “Glen…”
Aiden was less sympathetic. “So? Get over it.”
“Hey, you guys have each other,” Glen reminded, gesturing between the two of them. “All I have is my porn collection and an old box of condoms.”
The girl’s face scrunched up. “That’s…an image I didn’t need.”
“I don’t care,” Aiden stated firmly. “We already decided on the movie.”
Glen scoffed. “God, don’t be such a girl.”
Their bickering quickly descended into shouting, their clashing protests becoming garbled. Kyla pinched the bridge of her nose as the argument escalated, finally clapping her hands loudly to get the two men’s attention.
“Okay, fine! Glen, just pick something and shut up, all right?”
While the blonde pumped his fist triumphantly, Kyla mouthed an apology to her husband, though it did little to erase his scowl.
“Hello, Resident Evil.” Dropping himself onto the sofa, Glen propped his feet up onto the coffee table. “So you guys will go pick that up, right?”
Ashley and Spencer’s Loft – Same Time
Walking into the bedroom to find a fully-dressed Spencer, Ashley gave the sapphire top and white skirt an appreciative eye. “Hey there, sexy.”
The blonde turned from the mirror she was standing in front of to see her girlfriend in a jean skirt and black halter. “Hey, yourself.”
Taking Spencer by the hips, Ashley pulled her into a lingering kiss. She slid her hands into the blonde’s freshly-straightened hair as she deepened their connection, then let out a whimper when they broke apart.
“Are you sure we can’t just stay here?”
Promptly, they heard a knock at the loft door.
“Pretty sure.” Spencer watched as worry creased Ashley’s features. “You nervous?”
“A little.” With a fond smile, the blonde held out her hand, but the brunette merely gave it a skeptical glance. “You know, that’s what started this whole thing in the first place.”
Seeing the blonde’s patented patient stare, Ashley sighed and took the proffered hand, letting herself be led to the front door. With a look of reassurance to her girlfriend, Spencer opened the door and beckoned her friends inside.
“Hope we’re not too early,” Jackson greeted.
“No, perfect timing,” Spencer told him, giving him a quick hug. She then gave her girlfriend’s arm a light squeeze. “Ash, this is Jackson and Melanie. Guys, this is Ashley.”
“Ashley,” Jackson nodded, offering his hand, and the girl accompanying him followed suit.
As the trio shook hands, Spencer gestured over her shoulder. “You guys talk for a minute. I’m going to go grab my purse.”
As the blonde left the room, there was an awkward pause until Ashley finally looked to Jackson. “So, you’re the new…” She trailed off, confused. “What’s the male equivalent of gal pal?”
Giving the question serious thought, the young man’s face scrunched in concentration. “Um…boy toy? Wait, no, that doesn’t sound good. Um…shy guy? Mellow fellow? Scrappy chappie?”
Ashley chuckled. “Yeah, that must be it.”
“Yep, he’s scrappy all right,” Melanie agreed lovingly. “Well, Ashley, Spencer has spoken glowingly of you many a time, so it’s good to finally meet you.”
“Same here,” the brunette returned, pushing aside her discomfort. “I was starting to think you were both imaginary.”
Jackson waved it off. “Nah. Imaginary friends would be much cooler than we are. They’d be, like…astronauts or sex toy designers or something.”
The sound of Ashley and Jackson’s laughter drew Spencer back into the living room and she smiled at the sight. She looked to Melanie for explanation, but the other blonde just rolled her eyes.
Nevertheless appearing satisfied, the filmmaker turned to her other friend and girlfriend. “You two seem to be getting along all right.”
Jackson shrugged and sent a sideways glance to Ashley. “We were just marveling at our shared good taste.”
The brunette mirrored his smirk. “Looks like we both have a thing for feisty blue-eyed blondes.”
“I’m feisty now?” Spencer wondered.
Ashley’s only answer was a pointedly impish stare, eliciting a bashful grin. The brunette then gestured to the blonde’s purse. “So, did you have to sew it together yourself or something?”
“No, I had to pee,” the younger girl murmured. Raising her voice back to normal, she gestured towards the door. “Shall we?” As Jackson and Melanie headed that direction, Spencer noted her girlfriend wasn’t following, instead looking rather uncertain. “Ash?”
The brunette sighed in defeat. “…I’ll be right back.”
This time, it was Spencer’s turn to laugh.
Alpha Delta Pi House – A While Later
The sorority house was already swarming with undergrads by the time the foursome arrived. The first thing they noticed were the strings of mini blue and yellow LED lights framing windows and doors, trailing up the stair banister, and circling the ceiling.
“Oh, wow,” Spencer breathed in wonder. “It’s like a Bruins Christmas.”
In contrast, Ashley looked around with a grimace. “I know, it’s horrible, isn’t it?”
The blonde gave her girlfriend’s arm a light slap while Jackson and Melanie just chuckled. Spencer took Ashley’s hand, and the four ventured deeper into the house. The stereo system was playing recent pop hits at a reasonable decibel, and the makeshift food and beverage bars were clean, conveniently placed, and fully stocked.
A while later, they each had something to drink and were mingling with some of the familiar faces they ran into. It wasn’t long before Sasha found them.
“Hey, you guys came! Enjoying the party?”
Jackson clinked his beer bottle against hers in greeting. “Can’t complain yet. Nice digs you got here.”
“Yeah, try sharing it with thirty other hormonal girls.” Sasha said, only half-kidding. “Hey, if you’re interested, we’re getting set up for a beer pong tournament but, contrary to what any of the guys may tell you, it’s not strip pong. JJ? Melanie?”
“I’m driving the girls home later, so probably not the best idea,” Jackson reasoned.
Melanie shrugged in disinterest. “I’m more of a cocktail kind of girl.”
Sasha looked to the other couple, but Ashley just snorted at the very idea of playing beer pong. “What about you, Spencer? Up for some pong? Or there might be some Jack Daniels Jenga upstairs…”
The blonde in question promptly blushed, just as she had earlier that day. “Oh, um…alcohol and I have a rocky history. Add in an attempt at hand-eye coordination, and there’d be wood and balls flying all over the place.”
“That’s what she said,” both Ashley and Jackson murmured. Looking at each other in surprise, the boy added, “Spooky.”
Spencer flushed an even deeper red, and Sasha grinned. “Sounds like half the sorority’s social life.”
While Jackson and Melanie shared a laugh with their older counterpart, Ashley watched Spencer with a growing look of amusement.
“Fair enough,” Sasha yielded. “Well, the games are usually just as much fun to watch, so check back by the kitchen in fifteen or so.”
Not quite meeting the girl’s gaze directly, the filmmaker tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “Okay. Thanks, Sasha.”
As the sophomore left to mingle with another group of party-goers, Ashley rested an elbow on her girlfriend’s shoulder and sighed wistfully. “Isn’t Sasha ever so dreamy?”
Spencer’s eyes widened, and she looked at her in alarm. “What?”
“Not a date, my ass. I think someone has a little crush on someone.”
The blonde frowned. “No I don’t.”
“Oh, come on. The blushing? The nervous fidget? The avoiding eye contact?” Ashley chuckled. “You totally think she’s foxy.”
“Shut up, I do not!”
“I think it’s adorable.”
“Will you just—“
“And kind of hot,” the brunette added, casually smoothing out her halter.
Spencer’s protest died on her tongue, and her eyes twinkled mischievously. She coyly looked down at her shoes. “So…beer pong, huh? …What do you want to do ‘til then?”
Looking up from her outfit, Ashley did a double take at the suggestive smirk planted firmly on the blonde’s face. Her eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Are you serious?”
She was met with an eye roll. “You’re so easy, Ash.”
“Oh, now you complain. Tease.”
“That’s what you get.”
“Vindictive little minx, aren’t you?”
The blonde threw another smirk over her shoulder as she began to walk away. “…I’m going to the bathroom.”
Ashley could only stare slack-jawed, barely registering when Melanie said she would go as well. Once recovered, the brunette huffed with unconvincing ire. “See what I have to live with? Told you she was feisty.”
Jackson hummed thoughtfully. “Must be tough.” He studied the girl as she watched her girlfriend disappear into the crowd. “So you’re really not threatened by Sasha even just a little bit?”
Ashley scoffed. “The Killer? Please. I know Spencer; it’s completely innocent. Besides, I’d kick Miller’s ass if she ever came near Spence like that, and they both know it.” After a beat, she continued with, “Doesn’t mean I’m not going to tease her about it.”
The boy smiled. “You guys are cute together.”
“And that girl is crazy about you. I could hear it in her voice the very first time she mentioned you. And every time after that.”
“It was hard-earned, believe me.”
“Makes it all the better, doesn’t it?” he asked rhetorically.
“It really does,” Ashley agreed with a wistful nod. “And it’s very much mutual.”
A few moments of comfortable silence passed. “So…the Maserati…”
Ashley chuckled knowingly. “Remind me to show you the Porsche sometime.”
Jackson’s eyes glazed over.
Kyla and Aiden’s Apartment – Night
As Kyla and Aiden reentered the apartment and shrugged off their jackets, Glen emerged from the kitchen with a large bowl of fresh popcorn cradled in his arm.
“Finally,” he breathed dramatically.
Aiden held out the Blockbuster bag for the boy to take with his free hand. “You owe me seven bucks.”
“Because you’re the one who insisted we watch Resident Evil.”
Glen held out the bowl he held in protest. “But…I made you guys dinner!”
Kyla rolled her eyes, unimpressed. “You pushed the popcorn button on the microwave.”
“There’s a popcorn button?!”
With an exasperated groan, the brunette snatched away the popcorn bowl and followed her husband to the sofa. Glen put the movie in, eagerly returning to his chair and grabbing the remote to skip past the previews. As the opening credits began to play, Aiden relaxed into the sofa, his wife cuddled up against his side.
After a short pause, “Why does it smell like peanut butter?”
Kyla sighed in defeat. “Don’t ask.”
Nothing more was said, and the three settled in to watching the movie.
A while later, a muffled ringtone cut through into a suspenseful silence, making Kyla jump. Both she and Aiden looked to Glen, but the blonde simply slouched in his chair with a grimace, making no move to answer his phone or even check the ID screen. The husband and wife attempted to return their attention to the movie as the ringer repeated. Aiden’s fists clenched on the third repetition, and he inhaled deeply on the fourth. Finally, the phone grew quiet. The dark-haired boy began to relax, only to tense up again when the voicemail chime sounded.
As though to forget the indiscretion, Glen leaned forward to grab a bag of chips laying on the coffee table. Noisily, he ripped open the foil packaging and crunched loudly on the handful he pulled out. Grinding his teeth, Aiden took a calming breath and held out his hand toward his roommate.
“Pass them over.”
Eyes fixed on the television, Glen distractedly extended the bag, inadvertently bypassing his friend’s hand. The bag slipped from his fingers and tumbled onto the couch’s armrest, spilling chips over Aiden and Kyla.
“Glen!” the dark-haired boy exclaimed angrily. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Oh,” the blonde cringed. “Sorry.”
“That’s it? Sorry?”
“It’s just some chips, Aiden.”
Shrugging his wife’s hand off his arm, Aiden gestured wildly as he stood. “God, I didn’t even want you here in the first place! And now I can’t even enjoy one night alone with Kyla without you butting in and ruining it!”
“Fine, I’ll pay you the seven dollars. You don’t have to cry about it.”
“That’s not—!” Instead of finishing, Aiden clenched his jaw and made for the front door.
“Aiden,” Kyla called after him. “Aiden, come on!”
The sound of a slamming door answered her.
Arms crossed and body slumped in his seat, Glen scoffed. “Jeez, what a baby.”
The brunette just stared at him, not knowing what to say.
Alpha Delta Pi House – Night
With refreshed drink in hand, Melanie wove her way through the throng of classmates to where Jackson and Ashley were conversing. “Spencer not back yet?”
“No,” the boy answered. “Did she fall into the toilet or something?”
Ashley’s brows drew close together. “…she wasn’t actually waiting for me, was she?”
Melanie responded with an apologetic, if amused, shake of her head. “Sorry, tiger. She left before me.”
“Maybe she’s ‘chatting it up’ with Sasha in a dark corner somewhere,” Jackson suggested, lightly prodding the brunette with his elbow.
The corner of Ashley’s mouth twitched upwards, but her attention was focused more on locating her girlfriend. “I’m going to go find her.”
Tracking the blonde down proved a rather simple task. Ashley soon caught sight of Spencer near the stair banister talking to a male student Ashley didn’t recognize. After a few moments of hesitation, the brunette sidled over to her girlfriend. The conversation seemed to come to an abrupt halt when both students took notice of her approach. Spencer greeted her with a smile, though it didn’t quite reach her eyes. Without ceremony or introduction, the male student excused himself with quiet word and a curt nod.
“Hey, I was just wondering where you ran off to…” Ashley explained warmly. She then gestured toward the departing classmate. “That was a hasty retreat.”
“Gavin is…he’s in my documentary class.” At the brunette’s gentle but probing gaze, Spencer elaborated with measured reluctance. “He’s…been kind of a jerk.”
“Because your girlfriend is hotter than his?” the brunette guessed glibly.
“I wish that’s all it was.”
Seeing Spencer’s downcast expression, Ashley dropped her smirk and scanned the room. “All right, where’d he go?”
“I’m going to kick his ass.”
Clearly expecting her girlfriend’s reaction, the blonde put a firm hand on the brunette’s arm. “How about you dance with me instead?”
Ashley looked into pleading blue eyes, and her face softened. “…okay. But if he upsets you again, I’m going to...kick him in the shins and steal his lunch money.”
Spencer cracked a smile. “Deal.”
The two backtracked through the house, reuniting with their companions close to the informal dance space.
“Spence! We thought we lost you,” Melanie greeted.
“I was just talking to a guy in my doc. class.” Looking over her shoulder, Spencer noticed Ashley looking out across the room, brow creased. “Ash, I’m fine.”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“No, but I know that look,” the blonde countered. “Let it go and dance with me.”
In surrender, Ashley curled her fingers around Spencer’s belt and pulled the girl closer, kissing her cheek. Both were oblivious to the glare of an unfamiliar student nearby.
“Fine,” the brunette mumbled. “But only because I love you.”
“I can live with that.”
The two couples merged into the gyrating throng of undergrads, succumbing to the music’s rhythm. The stony gaze of the male guest returned, and it was less than a minute before he finally spoke up.
“Do you two mind taking the freak show somewhere else?”
Stopping cold, Spencer turned toward the boy, her face contorted in hurt. “What?”
“Some of us would like to enjoy the party without you and your little girlfriend making a scene,” the boy reiterated.
Several of the surrounding party-goers turned their heads at the comment. Cheeks burning, the blonde looked down when she felt her girlfriend’s fingers brush over her wrist.
“’Making a scene’? “ Ashley echoed incredulously. “We’re not the ones mounting everything vaguely female in sight.”
“Better than two dykes getting down and dirty like they own the place.”
“Hey, watch your mouth,” Jackson warned, taking a step between the party guest and the girls. The movement of the dancing crowd slowed as more students took notice of the confrontation.
“Was I talking to you?” the other student snapped.
“No, but you will be. Now lay off. They were invited the same as you and me.”
“You like it, don’t you? Do they let you watch? Or maybe the two of them like a little dick after a—“
The crack of fist against jaw punctuated the crude insinuation. The student staggered back, and several of his friends took hold of him—both to steady him and to prevent his retaliation. One of the senior sorority sisters promptly directed a couple of her male guests to escort Jackson out of the house, to which he relented without protest.
Ashley gaped speechlessly at his retreating form.
With a light prod from Spencer, the brunette followed her and Melanie outside to the front lawn where Jackson waited patiently.
“You didn’t have to do that…” Spencer told him quietly.
The boy pinned her with an intense stare. “Yeah, I did.”
Not finding the words to thank him, the blonde instead wrapped her arms around him in a sisterly hug.
“You’re welcome,” Jackson returned. “So…have I proven my manliness for the night?”
“Good.” His firm expression crumpling with a whimper, Jackson turned to his girlfriend, cradling his hand. “Ow.”
“Very gallant, JJ,” Melanie remarked, first kissing his knuckles and then running her thumb over them. “Stupid, but gallant.”
“Hey, no one talks to my girls like that.”
Finally finding her voice, Ashley gave an approving nod. “And scrappy it is.”
Jackson gave a lopsided grin. “And don’t you forget it.”
Hearing a commotion at the front door behind them, the group looked over to see the troublesome student being herded out of the house by the same pair of guys who had escorted Jackson out. While two of her fellow sorority sisters berated the boy for his behavior, Sasha made her way over to the foursome on the lawn.
“Is everyone okay?”
“More or less,” Jackson answered uncertainly. “Sorry I punched one of your guests.”
“From what I hear, he deserved it,” Sasha reassured, eyes flickering over to Spencer and Ashley. “That’s not the first time Roy has caused problems at one of our house parties. Not sure who keeps letting him back in…" She shook her head. “Look, you guys don’t have to leave. It sounds like Sarah only saw you hit Roy and didn’t know what it was about when she kicked you out.”
Jackson hesitated, looking to Spencer as though for confirmation. “Thanks, but…”
“I think I’m all partied out,” the blonde answered.
Sasha nodded in understanding. “All right. You’ll have to come back for the Halloween party,” the girl offered. “We team up with one of the frat houses, and those guys go all out.”
Jackson gave a half grin. “We’ll keep it in mind.”
“I am sorry about tonight,” the older girl added to Spencer.
“It wasn’t your fault.”
Again, Sasha nodded. “I guess I’ll see you around.”
After trading goodbyes, the sophomore returned to the house.
“What do you say we head home?” Jackson suggested.
As the group made their way to his car, Ashley let Spencer and Melanie walk ahead of her while she fell into step beside Jackson. Catching his eye, she mouthed a silent ‘thank you.’ He answered with an acknowledging dip of his head.
Kyla and Aiden’s Apartment – Same Time
“I’m not going to apologize to him!” Glen insisted, causing Kyla to rub her temples. “I don’t even get what his problem is.”
“It’s not just him,” the girl explained tiredly. “You just…have to give us some space sometimes. Things have been tense anyway, and you’re really not helping.”
“…have I really been that bad?”
“Glen, I’m not going to lie to you.”
When the brunette neglected to add anything further, the boy waved his hand to prompt her. “And…?”
“Oh, no, that was it.” At his puzzled expression, she explained. “See, the not talking takes care of the not lying, so…”
The boy slumped. “So, I really am that bad.”
Again, Kyla neither confirmed nor denied the sentiment. “If you miss Chelsea, then why are you avoiding her calls?”
“It’s…hard. When she was here, it was great. I’d never been happier. But when she left…not being able to see her…I thought I could do the long distance thing, but now I’m not so sure. I feel like a complete douche when she calls and I don’t answer, but it’s so awkward when we actually do talk, and…I don’t know what to do.”
Kyla let out a miserable sigh. “Things…haven’t been all that great with Aiden recently, either. When we first got back together, it was fun, it was exciting, and when we got married, it felt right. But now…the honeymoon’s over.”
“…and I guess me tagging along all the time doesn’t help, huh…?” The brunette shook her head sadly. “I’m sorry, Kyla. Some house guest, huh?”
“Look, I told you that you could live here for a while, and that hasn’t changed. You’re just going to have to stop pissing us off.”
Glen managed a smile, small though it was. “Okay. I promise I’ll be better. And hey, if you need…something...you know, since you’re being all cool letting me live here…if I can help with the Aiden thing…you know, I can…Wow, I’m really bad at this.”
Kyla smiled and decided to give him a hand. “Okay, if I ever need to talk to someone about Aiden, then yeah, I’ll come to you. I kind of have to. Ashley just starts cracking jokes, and Spencer’s schedule this semester is insane, so…”
“I’m your guy.”
“I should…probably apologize, huh?”
“You know what? Wait until tomorrow and let him cool off. I’ll talk to him when he gets back.” She started towards her bedroom. “Goodnight, Glen.”
“Hey, Kyla.” Glen pointed both index fingers at the girl in a ‘you’re the best’ sort of way. “Night, roomie.”
With a weary smile, Kyla half-heartedly returned the gesture before leaving the room. Taking his phone out of his pocket, Glen looked down at the device and blew out a breath.
Ashley and Spencer’s Loft – Late Night
After saying goodbye to Jackson and Melanie and closing the loft door, Spencer found a pair of arms wrapping around her waist and a chin resting on her shoulder.
She smiled reflexively and leaned her temple against Ashley’s. “Mm, hi.”
“Hi,” came the murmured echo in her ear.
The seconds ticked steadily by, but neither girl moved, too content to try.
Then, “Spence…?” Ashley whispered cautiously.
“I feel the need to tell you…” the brunette began in a serious tone.
Ashley breathed in and let out a big sigh. “…I love your friends.”
The dramatic statement made Spencer laugh, and she turned around in the girl’s embrace.
“See? I told you you’d like them. And the party didn’t kill you, did it?”
“No, but the collective fashion sense almost did. When did leggings make a comeback?” Shaking off her shudder, Ashley backtracked. “I have to say, though, I’m noticing a rather violent theme for the parties I’ve been to.”
Ashley winced at her girlfriend’s disheartened slump. “Hey…” Arms still tight around Spencer’s waist, Ashley pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. Bumping her nose lightly into the blonde’s finally won a tiny smile. “Are you ready to turn in?”
Spencer regarded her girlfriend suspiciously. “Do you actually mean for sleep?”
“Will your dreams involve being The Killer’s next victim?”
“Ash…” the blonde whined.
The shorter girl loosened her grip in surrender. “All right, but if I start to hear unrestrained moaning, I’m waking you up.”
“And what if it’s you I’m dreaming about?” Spencer challenged.
Ashley flashed a crooked grin. “Well, then I’m definitely waking you up.”
It wasn’t long before the girls were safely under the covers, Ashley snuggled happily along the blonde’s back.
“Love you,” Spencer mumbled sleepily.
The brunette smiled into blonde hair. “Love you, too.”
“Good night, Ash.”
“’night.” There was a pause. “…jailbait.”
The blankets jerked with Spencer’s kick, her shoulder muffling Ashley’s inevitable laughter.
What did everyone think? Still enjoying JJ and Melanie? Excited to see Sasha Miller the Killer (complete with Spencer's crush on her from the webisodes)? Team Glen or Team Aiden (is there a Team Aiden?!)? Favorite line/scene? Please tell us! Don't know when the next ep will be ready, but hopefully soon! One word: BANGS (don't worry, she's not actually in it). Oh, and Taylor will finally make her grand entrance! Excited?