UCLA Lecture Hall – Morning.
“'The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force.’ In his Mein Kampf, Hitler made no secret of his use of lies to sway the German people. Over the course of the semester, we will be covering Hitler’s social and political views during his rise to power, focusing on the Third Reich and the Holocaust.”
A young man fought off a yawn.
The first class of the first day, and he was already bored. That didn’t bode well for when the real lectures would begin. His attention wandered from the professor to his surrounding classmates, finding most to be enjoying the monotonous overview just as little as he was. Halfway through his lazy scan of the room, his eyes landed on the girl sitting to his right.
She was young like he was, with blonde hair framing an attractively innocent face. Though he took his time appreciating them, the girl’s looks weren’t what stood out; her notebook was open, the first white sheet already marked with a half page of neatly-written notes despite the blue course syllabus sitting next to it. The brand new mechanical pencil in her hand worked dutifully as their professor droned on. A second quick survey of the lecture hall revealed she was the only one writing.
Most likely sensing his gaze, the blonde glanced his way and gave him a kind smile before turning back to her note taking. In that brief moment, he caught a glimpse of blue eyes.
As the clock on the wall ticked closer to the end of class, the boy attempted to return his focus to the instructor.
“Exams will count for sixty percent of your final grade. In addition, you will need to complete a term paper by the end of the semester based on a question of my choosing, counting for thirty percent of your grade. The remaining ten percent will consist of participation and any assignments or quizzes I feel are appropriate.” The professor, like her students, glanced up at the clock. “Please have chapters one and two of your text read by our next session and be ready to start discussion. You’re dismissed.”
As the hall buzzed to life with students getting up to leave, the young man leaned out of his desk towards the blonde next to him. “Hey.”
The girl hastily jotted down a few last notes before looking up at him, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. “Hi.”
“Looking forward to the Holocaust?” he teased, gesturing to the notebook she was putting away.
She nodded happily. “Yeah, I think it’ll be really interesting.” She then flushed a faint red at how eager she sounded.
“At least that makes one of us.” As the two stood from their seats and shouldered their book bags, the boy stuck out his hand. “I’m Tom.”
The blonde shook the proffered hand with bright grin. “Spencer.”
Tom fell into step beside the girl as they exited the lecture room. “You mind if I walk with you a ways?”
A light smile continued to play on Spencer’s lips. “No, I don’t mind.”
“Cool. So, um, what’s your next class?”
“Oh, I have a bit of a break, but then I have Intro to Psychology. You?”
“I’m off to Calculus. I think there should be a law against having math this early in the day.” It was Tom’s turn to smile when Spencer laughed quietly. “So…you from L.A.?”
“No, I actually grew up in Ohio. My family moved here a couple years ago. What about you?”
“San Diego. Just moved into the dorms.”
“And what’s that like?”
The boy thought for a moment. “…cramped.”
The blonde again chuckled at his simple response. “I’m not surprised.”
Stepping out of the building into the morning sun, Tom adjusted the bag on his shoulder. “So, since we’re going to suffer the Third Reich together and everything, maybe we could get together sometime and trade notes over a burger or something…?”
Spencer didn’t answer as her attention was drawn to a familiar black Porsche parked on the street, an equally familiar brunette perched against the hood with two coffees in hand. Tossing a distracted “excuse me” over her shoulder to Tom, the blonde bounded over to the convertible. Bouncing to a halt, Spencer greeted her dark-haired visitor with a short kiss and a giddy smile.
The car’s owner beamed in return and handed over one of the foam cups she held. “Hey, college girl. You were in such a hurry to get out the door this morning, you forgot your coffee.”
Spencer’s smile softened, her head tilting to the side. “Aw, thank you.”
Proud of herself, the brunette tapped a finger to her own lips and was quickly rewarded with a another kiss. “Well, we can’t have you falling asleep,” she explained. “I mean, we have a whole two hours before your next class.”
The older girl shrugged innocently. “What? You said you wanted to make room on our bookshelves for all your new textbooks.”
With a playful glare, Spencer shook her head at Ashley’s poorly hidden smirk. Completely forgotten by the blonde, Tom stood observing from the building stairs. His shoulders held a noticeable slump, but his eyes shone with a strange glint as he watched the girls interact.
College might not be so boring after all.
Santa Monica College Administration Office – Morning.
“What?! You can’t be serious!”
Even in the relatively quiet office, the exclamation did little to distract the other employees from their tasks or change the looks of boredom on the other students waiting in line.
“I’m sorry Mr. Carlin, but your application and payment arrived after the deadline.”
Glen stared at the receptionist in disbelief. “Can’t you just make an exception?”
”Enrollment for housing is closed,” the woman explained patiently. “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do for you.”
“Is there anyone else I can talk to?”
“I could get you in touch with our administrator, but I’m certain he couldn’t tell you any differently. Campus policy is that any applications submitted after the deadline cannot be processed.” The receptionist watched as the boy dropped his shoulders and hung his head. “There’s a listing of on-campus apartment complexes on the wall to your left, if it’s of any help.”
Running a hand through his hair, Glen glanced over at the board. “Yeah, thanks,” he mumbled glumly.
With a half-hearted smile to the woman behind the counter, he walked over to the wall to see what his options were.
Kyla and Aiden’s Apartment – Same Time.
A pair of hands worked to tie the white laces of black tennis shoes. When finished, Aiden stood up from the bed and looked around the room in confusion.
“Ky?” he called. “Where’d you put my gym bag?”
Kyla’s voice drifted in from the living room. “In the closet.”
The dark-haired boy opened the closet door and pulled the duffel out. “Why is it in there?”
The short brunette appeared in the doorway, arms crossed casually as she leaned against the frame. “Because I kept tripping over it.”
Setting the bag on the bed, Aiden unzipped the flap and rifled through its contents. Adding to the items already inside, he threw in a clean set of gym clothes and his basketball.
Kyla gestured to the ball. “What’s the occasion?”
“Tryouts are going to be starting soon. I was thinking I’d check it out and maybe sign up.”
“Really? That’s good!” She sat down next to his bag while he continued getting ready to leave. “You haven’t played in so long. Is that why you’ve been hitting the gym like crazy lately?”
Aiden faltered. “Uh…yeah. Gotta keep in shape, you know.”
Kyla’s eyebrow inched up at his hesitation, but she said nothing.
“I might not, though,” he continued. “Like I said, I’m just checking it out.”
“I think you should do it.”
Aiden nodded pointedly at the books he was sliding into his school bag. “I have to survive my classes first.”
“You’ll be fine,” she assured.
“Yeah, maybe. Look, I gotta go.”
Grabbing both his backpack and his gym bag, Aiden rushed out of the apartment, pausing only long enough to peck the brunette on the cheek. The door closed, leaving Kyla alone.
“Love you, too.”
Ashley and Spencer’s Loft – Late Morning.
Ashley groaned as she flopped down onto their sofa. She watched unhappily as her girlfriend stuffed the textbooks for her afternoon classes into her backpack. “Do you really have to go already?”
Spencer nodded sadly. “I don’t make the class schedules.”
“Well, technically, you do.”
“Technically,” the blonde mimicked, “I’d like to graduate on time.”
Ashley just gave an offhanded shrug. “Post-college life is highly overrated.”
“But I would like to get there this decade.”
Sitting up, the brunette clutched a throw pillow to her chest. “I feel like I’ve barely seen you today.”
Spencer rolled her eyes at the other girl’s protruding lip. “I’ve been to one class.”
“Maybe if you hadn’t spent the last hour drawing all over my notebooks…”
“I was making them pretty for you!”
Spencer regarded the notebook covers with an appraising eye. She couldn’t help a fond smile when she saw the various scribbles of heart-adorned initials decorating the plastic. “Ah yes, A.D. My one true love.” She paused for effect. “Say, where is Aiden, anyway? I haven’t heard from him in a while.”
Ashley’s face fell. “Do not even joke about that.”
Smirking, Spencer leaned over and kissed the brunette on the nose. “Sorry.”
The brunette frowned as the younger girl disappeared around the corner into their bedroom. “Can I at least drop you off at campus?”
“You insisted on buying me a sixty thousand dollar car so that you could drive me to my classes?”
“Don’t hate me because I’m rich and needy.” She looked up at Spencer as she reentered the room. “Please? Just for now?”
“Okay,” the blonde relented with a nod. “Just be outside the Student Activities Center by six-thirty.”
“I thought your last class got out at five.” A pout was threatening to reform on the musician’s lips. “It’s the first day, and you’re already staying late?”
“There’s an orientation for GSA tonight. I kind of wanted to go.”
“I didn’t know UCLA had the Girl Scouts of America,” Ashley deadpanned.
“Gay-Straight Alliance, Ash.”
The brunette rolled her eyes. “Same diff.” Standing, she picked up her keys. “Yeah, that’s fine. I was thinking about swinging by the studio to make sure Madison hasn’t blown up and tried to fire the whole sound crew. Again.”
Grinning in amusement, Spencer gathered her book bag. “Tell her I said hello.”
“Sure. I know she’ll appreciate that more than the five-letter words I come up with.”
“Be nice,” the blonde chastised gently. “Remember she’s doing you a service.”
Ashley pulled a face. “Yeah, um, no. I wouldn’t let her ‘service’ me with a ten-foot pole.”
Sighing in exasperation, Spencer gave the shorter girl a light shove. “You know what I mean. Now get your butt in gear and drive me to class.”
Instead of retorting, Ashley merely took the blonde’s hand and led her through the loft door.
SMC Campus Gymnasium – Afternoon.
The gymnasium was bustling with activity. Students were engaged in a casual game of basketball on the court while the SMC coach and some of his varsity players manned the tables along the sidelines for tryout signups. Aiden hovered nearby, watching his peers fill out the necessary forms.
“Going to stand there all day?” a voice behind him wondered.
Aiden looked over his shoulder, met with the smirking face of a student his age. “I don’t quite know if I’m up for it yet.”
“You’re here, aren’t you?” the other boy reasoned. “Might as well sign a few papers. You can always wimp out later.” He held out his hand. “Noah Parker. Jordan High Panther.”
First glancing down at Noah’s hand, Aiden nodded his acknowledgment and gave it a firm shake.
“Aiden Dennison. King High Cobra.”
“Veteran, huh? Wouldn’t have guessed with the way you’ve been cowering back here.”
Aiden let the barb roll off him. “Yeah, I played in high school, but last year was kind of rough. I’ve been off my game.”
“I wouldn’t worry. Playing with the big boys, you’ll get back in it in no time.”
Clapping him on the back, Noah made his way to one of the signup tables to drop off his already completed forms. Aiden watched his new acquaintance saunter out of the gym, a small frown on his face. He hesitated only a few moments longer before taking in a breath and approaching the coach’s table.
Music Studio – Afternoon.
On the opposite side of a glass panel, Madison stood in front of a microphone. Behind her were four young men, two with guitars, one behind a drum set, and the last sitting at a keyboard.
Ethan Marks ran a hand through his hair. “Five bands in four weeks, and she doesn’t like any of them.”
Across from him, Ashley was reclining lazily as she flipped through the band members’ résumés. “Yeah, but I listened to those demos, and she’s right. They all sucked.”
The producer shook his head. “We should’ve had a band in place by now.”
“You know, I warned you she was a handful, but you wanted your Pussycat Doll.”
“Do you think you could talk to her? We have to have this figured out by the time she starts her tour. I can’t promote music that isn’t being recorded.”
Ashley held up her hands. “Hey, I’m just the writer.” Catching Ethan’s unamused stare, she rolled her eyes. “Relax, would you? I know Madison. She won’t quit until she’s sucked the life out of each and every decent person around her for her own personal gain. She’ll get it done.”
Ethan stared at the writer in wonder. “I think that’s the first time I’ve heard you defend her.”
The brunette lifted her gaze from the papers in her hands in confusion. “Did you not hear the part about her sucking the life out of people?”
The producer just grinned smugly. “Speaking of the tour, the demos we have are fine for now, but we’ll need new material to work with by the time she’s back in L.A.”
“I know. Not a problem.”
The door to the sound booth opened, and Madison came out into the editing room. She began sifting through a pile of sheet music on the table, but not before giving the other brunette a strange look. “Ashley? What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to hear the audition.”
Ashley gave a patronizing grin. “So I could see your smiling face.”
Madison merely scoffed. “Whatever. I was going to drop these off later, but since you’re here…”
When the singer held out a binder for her to take, the writer eyed it skeptically. “What is this?”
“Revisions I want you to make. There are just a few things that aren’t working for me.”
“I thought we agreed the songs were fine.”
“I changed my mind.” With a toss of her hair, Madison started back towards the sound booth. “Oh, and I need those by the end of the week.”
Ashley glared down at the binder in her hand. “Perfect.”
Carlin Residence – Early Evening.
Glen cautiously opened the door to his parents’ house. “Mom? Dad?”
Poking his head out of the kitchen, Arthur greeted the boy happily. “Glen! Homesick already?”
“You could say that,” the boy hinted through a forced smile. “Is Mom home?”
“Yeah, upstairs.” Arthur called to his wife. “Paula?”
The older blonde soon appeared at the top of the steps, quickly coming down to hug her son. “Oh, hi, sweetie! I didn’t expect to see you so soon. Not that I’m not happy to,” she added as an afterthought.
Glen gave a slow nod. “Yeah. Missed you guys.”
Paula squeezed his shoulders. “Glen, I have to tell you, I am so proud of you. Going to Santa Monica and getting out there on your own…”
“Yeah, about that—“
“It’s so good to see you taking a direction in life,” the woman continued.
Glen grimaced somewhat embarrassedly. “I’m…glad I decided to do it. Actually, Mom, Dad, there’s kind of something I need to ask you guys.”
Just as she was about to question, Paula’s cell phone chimed. “It’s the hospital,” she realized. “I’m sorry, honey, but I have to take this. I’ll be right back, okay?”
The woman walked into the other room, leaving father and son alone. Arthur sat down in the living room, motioning for the boy to do the same.
“So, how’s Chelsea?” the older man wondered.
“Oh, um…she’s…she’s good, you know?” Glen fumbled, oddly tense. “Living the dream and, uh…yeah.”
“You guys are still doing okay?”
Almost reluctantly, the boy nodded. “…yeah. We’re good.”
Arthur looked like he wanted to press, but Paula came back in at that moment, sitting down next to him and turning to their son.
“I’m sorry about that, Glen,” the mother apologized again. “You needed to ask us something?”
The boy hesitated as he took in his parents’ happy faces. He plastered on a smile. “…what’s for dinner?”
ULCA Campus – Early Evening
The door of room 212 was open, a simple hand-drawn sign on the wall next to it reading ‘Gay-Straight Alliance Orientation’ in multicolored letters. A small rainbow flag was taped below. It looked harmless enough, but still Spencer lingered nervously just outside the meeting room.
As she dithered, the blonde sensed someone step up beside her, halting just at the edge of her vision.
“Are they sacrificing chickens yet?” the young man wondered quietly, as though not to startle her.
The sheer absurdity of the question, however, caused Spencer to bark out a laugh. She looked over at her new company, taking in the gently teasing smile and brown eyes glinting with mirth. His manner was contagious, and she quickly found herself mirroring it in spite of her earlier tension.
“You know, I don’t think that starts until the second meeting.”
“Good. I’d hate to miss it.” The young man regarded the blonde with a sideways glance, gesturing towards the room with his head. “I’ll go in if you do.”
The blonde looked to the doorway and breathed deeply. Turning back to her companion, she nodded confidently. “Let’s do it.”
The boy motioned for her to take the lead, and Spencer’s mouth nearly fell open as she walked through the door. Close to one hundred students already filled the large conference room, with more coming in every few minutes. Against one wall were a couple tables full of beverages and cookies. Along the opposite wall was a table piled with orientation folders and tended by what appeared to be group alumni.
Oddly comforted by the young man’s presence behind her, Spencer walked up to one of the female leading members and was met with a warm smile.
“Hi there. Welcome to GSA,” the woman greeted. She held out a folder for the blonde to take. “Here’s a little something to get you started. Inside is a little bit about who we are and what we do here. I’ll be speaking to everyone shortly, so help yourself to the snack table and make yourself comfortable.”
Spencer accepted the folder with a quiet “thank you” and made her way over to the cookie selection. Sugary spoils in hand, she then took a seat in one of the empty folding chairs scattered throughout the room. It wasn’t long before the boy from earlier sat down next to her.
“Well, this isn’t too bad, now is it?” he remarked, gesturing to their surrounding peers.
Spencer nodded as she, too, scanned the room. “I don’t know why I was so nervous to come in here.”
The young man shrugged. “The unknown?”
With a disarming smile, the boy introduced himself. “Jackson Reilly.”
The blonde found it very hard to not return the beaming expression as she reciprocated. “Spencer Carlin.”
“It’s very nice to meet you, Spencer Carlin.”
“You too, Jackson Reilly.”
“The more privileged get to call me JJ,” the boy told her slyly. “Jackson James,” he explained after a beat.
“And what does one have to do to become privileged enough?”
Jackson pretended to think about it as he stroked his chin. He then held up one of his treats from the snack table. “Trade one of her Oreos for this chocolate chip cookie.”
Spencer giggled at the endearing request. “All right. I think I can manage that.”
As the two swapped their cookies, the GSA speakers took the head of the room to begin the meeting. Exchanging a final smile of reassurance, the two turned their attention to the presentation.
Ashley and Spencer’s Loft – Night.
An elevator door slid open, revealing Ashley and Spencer as they stepped out into the corridor.
“Spence, if you didn’t like the restaurant, we could’ve gone somewhere else.”
“I didn’t say I didn’t like it. It was just a little loud. We could barely hold a conversation.”
The brunette slipped her hand into the blonde’s. “Okay, then we won’t go there anymore.”
Coming around the corner into their hallway, they found Glen sitting outside their door. A couple luggage bags were on the floor next to him.
“Glen? What are you doing here?” Spencer asked warily.
Upon seeing the girls, the boy clambered to his feet. “Hey, um, sorry to bust in on you guys like this, but I kind of have a big favor to ask.”
When Ashley opened the door to the loft, Spencer motioned for her brother to go inside. Carrying his bags in, Glen patiently waited for their full attention before continuing.
“Can I stay with you guys? Please?”
Spence cocked her head to the side. “I thought you were staying in the dorms.”
“I missed the deadline,” her brother admitted. “I don’t have a dorm, and the apartments that I can afford are all rented out.”
Glen waved his hand in agreement. “Yeah. So can I crash here?”
“Why don’t you just go back to Mom and Dad’s?” the younger Carlin wondered.
“I tried, but they’re both so happy that I’ve ‘taken a new direction’ and ‘moved on in life’ or whatever, so it’s, like, impossible to move back now.”
Not knowing what to say, Spencer looked to Ashley, but the musician’s expression suggested she was less than thrilled.
“There’s always Chelsea’s couch,” she murmured.
“Ash,” Spencer warned. “Be nice.”
The brunette shrugged. “What? Paris isn’t that far.”
With a sigh, the blonde looked back to her brother. “One night, Glen.” The boy nodded in subdued understanding. “I know it’s a long shot, but maybe you could ask Kyla and Aiden. They’re at least not far from SMC.”
“Yeah, maybe. I’ll be out of here tomorrow, but…thanks for letting me stay.”
Ashley leaned closer to the older Carlin with a conspiratorial whisper. “For tonight, though, you might want to invest in some earplugs. Spencer’s a lot louder than she used to be.”
The filmmaker promptly slapped her girlfriend’s arm. “Ashley!”
“I was talking about your snoring.”
“I do not snore!” Spencer protested while the brunette simply smirked. “Fine. If my ‘snoring’ bothers you so much, you can sleep on the couch. Alone.”
As the blonde whirled around and strode into their bedroom, Ashley’s jaw dropped. Distractedly, she gestured towards Glen.
“You, you can stay in Kyla’s old room. You’re good, right?”
Before Glen even had a chance to answer, the music writer abandoned her guest and trailed after her girlfriend.
“Yeah,” he told the empty living room. “I’m good.”
His cell phone rang, the sound muffled by his pocket. He fished the device out, reading the caller ID and cringing in dread. The ring tone repeated, but he continued to hesitate. His thumb was poised to flip the cover up but made no move to do so. Finally, the ringer hushed, and the screen stopped flashing. Glen dropped onto the sofa, letting his head fall into his hands.
A few moments later, the new voicemail chime sounded.
Ashley and Spencer’s Bedroom – Same Time.
Walking into their shared room, Ashley found Spencer already sitting in bed against the headboard, knees drawn up and her psychology book open in her lap. Her attention, however, was split between the text in front of her and the cell phone at her ear.
“Yes, Mom, I went to class.” The blonde glanced up and quirked a small smile as her girlfriend came in, easily returned by the brunette. “It was fine.” Spencer rolled her eyes for Ashley to see as she listened to her mother, her gaze lingering only briefly as the other girl changed into her sleepwear. “Yeah, I miss you too…Mom…Mom! I have homework…Yes, I will. Promise…Uh huh…Okay, bye.”
The phone was turned off and placed on the bedside table, and Spencer returned her full focus to her textbook. Choosing to not disturb the girl’s reading quite yet, Ashley brought out her music notebook and took a similar position next to Spencer on the bed. She skimmed through the notes Madison had given her, rolling her eyes at the tedious changes the singer wanted.
It wasn’t until her girlfriend dropped her textbook to the floor that Ashley spoke. “How were the Girl Scouts?”
Spencer glanced at the girl next to her at the term ‘Girl Scouts’ but let it slide. “It was a lot bigger than I thought it’d be. It was really cool seeing that many people there.”
“Any hot girls?”
The musician was unaffected by playfully spite-filled reply as she made a few marks on her sheet music. She didn’t even spare a glance up from her notebook. “Good. Then you can feel them up and get me a free box of Thin Mints.”
The humor was gone and replaced by a note of frustration, causing the brunette to look over at her girlfriend. “What?”
“You really don’t like me joining GSA, do you?”
Ashley’s eyes fell back to her lap. After a moment of hesitation, she closed her notebook and shifted so that she more or less faced Spencer. All trace of flippancy had disappeared from her expression.
“You do remember what happened to you junior year, right?”
“Between you and my mom, how could I forget?”
Ashley disregarded the remark. “I don’t want you to get hurt again.”
“No, I get it,” the older girl interrupted. “This is important to you. Just…don’t expect me to like it.”
With a ghost of a smile, Spencer took Ashley’s hand and laced their fingers. “It’s sweet that you worry. But this isn’t high school.”
“You’re right, it’s not. It’s college, where there are more stupid people from more stupid places.”
“I don’t have to be in GSA to get hurt.”
Defeated, Ashley dropped her gaze to the bed, lightly tracing a finger over the back of Spencer’s hand. “…I know…”
The blonde watched her for a moment. “…hey, are you really going to be okay with this?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“No,” the blonde answered blithely. “I was just checking.”
When Spencer kissed the corner of her mouth, Ashley looked up, matching the girl’s cheeky grin.
UCLA Lecture Hall – Early Afternoon.
The lecture room was fairly empty around Spencer as she stared at her laptop screen. Her psychology book was open next to it as she reviewed her chapter notes from the previous night. Gradually, other students trickled in and, out of the corner of her eye, she saw one of them sidle up to the desk next to her.
“I’m not stalking you, I swear.”
Looking away from her laptop, Spencer lit up at the familiar face. “Hey, JJ!”
The boy’s smile grew at the warm greeting. “Fancy seeing you here.”
“Yeah, it’s almost like we’re both students or something.”
“It’s a crazy world.” He pointed to the empty desk. “So, do you mind if I sit?”
“No, go ahead.”
At the blonde’s invitation, Jackson slid into the chair. As he did, his eyes flickered over to the girl’s laptop, where her screensaver picture was now bouncing lazily around. In the photo, a brunette was leaning her forehead against Spencer’s temple, both looking as though they had been laughing when the picture was taken.
“I guess that answers my next question…”
Spencer followed his gaze, an unconscious smile forming when she saw the photo. “That’s Ashley.”
Jackson didn’t miss her affectionate tone. “When did you guys meet?”
“Junior year.” The blonde leaned back in her seat as she studied the picture. “She snapped at me, I spilled coffee on her…we’ve been next to inseparable ever since.”
The boy shifted his attention to the girl next to him, catching the faraway glaze in her eyes. “Close, huh?”
“Ash is…” Spencer paused to find the right words. In the end, she simply shrugged. “…my best friend.”
Jackson nodded in understanding. “I know that feeling. Mel and I are the same way.”
“I guess that answers my next question. Not in GSA for the hot guys?” Spencer watched as a strange little smirk grew on her new friend’s face. “What?”
“Mel is short for Melanie,” he clarified. “My girlfriend.”
The blonde eyes widened. “Oh, god, I am…I’m so sorry. I just assumed you…” Giving up on her fumbled apology, she shook her head in embarrassment before looking over at him through a squinting gaze. “So…girlfriend, huh?”
“Well, it is called the ‘Gay-Straight Alliance.’” His light teasing succeeded in drawing a chuckle out of the flustered girl. “Why, too pretty to be true? Or am I giving off a vibe?”
“You know, I’m not the best person to ask,” Spencer admitted. “My gaydar is pretty much defective. I’m actually thinking about throwing it out the window.”
“Defective, huh? I bet the warranty is expired, too.”
“Of course, so I don’t think they’d let me trade it in at this point.”
“You could try eBay.”
“I may have to.”
As the girl’s blush began to die down, Jackson glanced back to her screensaver. “Well, now that my secret is out, so to speak, would you be offended if I said you two were hot together?”
“Of course not. That is the general consensus, after all.” She flashed a playful smirk. “And your secret is safe with me…but um, if you don’t mind me asking, why GSA?”
Jackson’s manner grew more serious, his voice quieting. “My little sister came out to me this summer. She’s kind of having troubles with it, and I’m the only one she’s told. I thought if I joined one of the groups here, maybe I’d figure out how to help her deal, you know?”
Spencer’s face softened. “That’s really sweet of you.”
With a bashful smile, Jackson dropped his gaze to his desk.
YMCA Center – Early Afternoon.
As she was putting away some sports equipment that had been left out, Kyla caught sight of a familiar blonde-haired boy wandering into the gymnasium.
“Glen? What are you doing here?”
He shrugged carelessly as he looked around. “I always wondered what the basketball courts looked like here…Very nice. Roomy. Got a good shine to the floor.” When Glen returned his attention to Kyla, he found the girl standing with her arms crossed and an eyebrow cocked up expectantly. He dropped his innocent expression. “All right, look, I don’t have a place to stay.”
“And…I know you’ve taken in the homeless before…?”
Kyla shifted her weight to her other foot, not impressed. “That’s your selling point?”
“I…I’m clean and quiet!” The brunette’s incredulous stare caused him to backtrack. “Okay, that’s a lie. Um, I…”
“You can stay with us.”
A glint of hope replaced the desperation on Glen’s face. “Seriously?”
“On one condition,” Kyla clarified, holding up a finger. ”You have to help out.”
“Like clean and cook and stuff?”
“No.” The girl didn’t continue right away, obviously thinking it through a bit more. “Well, actually yes, but that’s not what I mean. You have to volunteer here.”
“Volunteer to do what?”
It was Kyla’s turn to shrug. “If you’re so in awe of the courts here, you could coach the kids in basketball.”
“Or I could play spotter to all the hot chicks in the weight room.” At the girl’s withering glare, Glen slumped his shoulders. “…or I could coach basketball…” he amended sheepishly.
Kyla nodded happily. “That’s the spirit.”
“So I can really stay with you guys?”
“Yes, you can really stay.”
Glen folded his hands together in gratitude. “Thank you. You’re my hero.”
The brunette just rolled her eyes. “You’re welcome. Now come on. Let’s go get you a volunteer form.”
Spinning around, Kyla marched out of the gymnasium while Glen less enthusiastically followed. He paused when his phone chimed in his pocket. Taking it out, he flipped the device open to read his message.
How r ur classes? I miss u <3
As he stared at the screen, his thumb hovered between ‘reply’ and ‘end.’ Hearing Kyla call his name, Glen hesitated a second longer before pushing the red button and closing his phone.
Music Studio – Afternoon.
Walking into the drawing room, Madison stopped dead in her tracks when her eyes landed on Ashley sitting at the sound console. Headphones covered the writer’s ears as she listened to the demo track from the previous day’s band audition. The music score was spread out in front of her.
“Okay, this was cute the first time, but now it’s just sad.”
Looking up from the board, Ashley pulled the headphones down around her neck as she acknowledged the other girl. “Funny, that’s exactly what I thought when Ethan told me you were going to sing my songs.”
“What even are you doing here, Ashley? You don’t need to be here for this.”
“I’m supporting you in your quest for stardom.”
“Like I’d believe that.”
“Fine.” Ashley picked up her folder of revisions and unceremoniously tossed it onto the table in front of the singer. “I’m making sure you aren’t butchering my music.“
Madison waved the excuse off. “That is total crap, and you know it. Spencer’s off doing the college thing, and you’re sitting at home with nothing to do.”
“Yes, I’m here because I like spending my free time with you.” The writer removed the headphones from around her neck and set them down. “I finished your revisions, so I figured I might as well drop them off.”
“Great!” Madison clapped with false cheer. “Then you can go sulk at home.”
Ashley threw up her hands. “You know what? Fine. I’m meeting Kyla soon anyway.”
“Do everyone a favor and find a hobby.”
Madison took the folder in hand and went on about her business. As she picked up her things to leave, Ashley mumbled under her breath.
“I thought this was my hobby.”
UCLA Campus – Late Afternoon.
“So, you want to make documentaries?” Jackson asked as he and Spencer walked out of the psychology building. “That’s cool.”
“Really? You don’t think it’s boring?”
“Are you kidding? With classics like The History of Coca-Cola and…” He thought for a moment. “…The Evolution of the Banana?”
Spencer smiled uncertainly. “Not quite like that.”
“Not yet,” he corrected jokingly. “Give it time. You’ll get there.”
“I’ll do my best." Spencer looked up at him. “What about you? Do you have a major in mind?”
The boy shrugged as they stopped at the sidewalk junction. “Not really. I think I’m just going to play it by ear for a while and see if anything strikes my fancy.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Jackson drew back as though in horror. “A plan? No, not a plan! A plan is exactly what I’m avoiding.”
His objection threatened to make Spencer laugh, but she managed to hold it in. “Right, sorry.”
The two grinned widely at each other until a lilting female voice interrupted their exchange.
“The second day, and you’re already picking up other impressionable freshmen girls?”
Appearing neither surprised nor worried, Jackson turned his head towards the fair-haired newcomer. “Now, to be fair, I think Spencer here would be more interested in you than me.” The boy’s eyes suddenly widened, and he looked frantically to his new friend. “Spencer, god, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have—“
Understanding the source of his panic, Spencer shook her head to calm him. “No, no! It’s fine, really. It’s not exactly a secret.”
While Jackson breathed a sigh of relief, the other blonde next to him put a hand on his chest. “Yep, that’s my man. Outing everyone on campus.” She looked over at Spencer. “Well, since JJ’s obviously lost all sense of manners, I’m Melanie.”
“Melanie, hi. I’m Spencer.”
“I was getting to that!” Jackson protested.
“Sure you were,” Melanie reassured with a patronizing pat to his cheek. Turning from Jackson, she put an arm around her boyfriend’s companion. “So, Spencer, tell me about yourself. Namely, how you got mixed up with this trouble maker.”
As she was led away, Spencer glanced back over her shoulder and met Jackson’s gaze with a good-natured smile.
Café – Late Afternoon.
Ashley glared up at her sister from her seat at the table, arms crossed. “You’re late.”
Conversely, Kyla looked at her watch in surprise. “You’re early,” she countered. “How long have you been here?”
“Only a half hour.”
“Madison kicked me out of the studio.”
Ashley simply shrugged. “Wouldn’t be Madison if she didn’t try to make my life hell one way or another.”
“I think I know what you mean,” Kyla mumbled as she sat down in the other chair.
The older Davies regarded her sister with an expression that suggested only mild interest. “Aiden?”
The shorter girl didn’t answer right away, instead thumbing idly through her menu. When she finally spoke, she was oddly quiet.
“You know, I thought moving in with him would be great. I saw you and Spencer together, and I wanted that. But he’s just…always there. You know? When I wake up, when I go to sleep, when I come home from work. All. The time.”
Ashley nodded, a faraway glaze in her eyes and a tiny smile playing on her lips. “Yeah.”
“Oh, right. I forgot you like that with Spencer.”
Bringing her attention back to her sister, Ashley nodded once again, this time with more genuine focus. “It’s true, I do. But, Ky, you make it sound like Spencer moved in and everything was perfect. We had our rough spots—we still do—but we just…always manage to work it out somehow.”
Kyla reached for one of the breadsticks her sister had ordered earlier, picking at it in frustration. “That’s just it: I’ve tried ‘working it out’ with him, but nothing ever gets fixed. I don’t know what to do.”
“Have a kid,” the musician offered flippantly. “Getting knocked up always helps.”
“Speaking from experience?” the younger girl shot back.
Ashley blinked. “…touché.”
Kyla gave a small triumphant laugh before deflating back to seriousness with a sigh. “Everything just feels so screwed up.”
“Well, maybe you shouldn’t have gotten married.”
If the younger Davies was bothered by her sister’s cavalier manner, she didn’t show it. “But it felt right, and I wanted to…I don’t know…do something impulsive.”
“Kyla, the last time you did something impulsive, I ended up having to sterilize the apartment to get the homeless smell out.” The other girl had no response, so Ashley went on. “The way I see it, marriage is for people who hate themselves, their significant others, and…want to ruin each other’s lives.”
Kyla scoffed loudly. “I’m sure Spencer will be thrilled with that glowing endorsement.”
Ashley dismissed it with a wave of her hand. “Whatever. Don’t change the subject.”
“Don’t abuse the subject.”
The retort was met with an eye roll. “You really want my advice?”
“All right, here it is.” Ashley leaned forward on her arms, and Kyla did the same. There was a dramatic beat of silence before the older Davies spoke again. “Figure out what you want to order because I’m starving.”
As her sister sat back in her chair and casually sipped her water, Kyla stared blankly. Then, with a shake of her head, she picked up her menu.
Kyla and Aiden’s Apartment – Early Evening.
The sun was setting as Aiden made his way home. The windows of his old Mercedes were rolled down, fresh air breezing past him as he drove. Pulling into the apartment lot, Aiden found a familiar car parked in his usual spot. Already looking annoyed, he climbed out of the driver’s side and grabbed his school and gym bags out of the back seat. He kicked the car door shut, eyes roving over the beat-up Pontiac as he walked past.
When he opened the door to the apartment, he was surprised to see a half dozen boxes and several bags scattered around the living room. He looked up at the person standing amongst them.
Glen gave a timid wave. “Heh. Hey, roomie.”
Aiden didn’t say a word as he stared at the blonde boy.
He did not look pleased.
Ashley and Spencer’s Loft – Same Time.
Coming through the loft door, Spencer stopped halfway into the living room when she noticed Ashley sitting on the edge of the sofa, eyes on the floor and a frown on her face.
“You left early this morning.”
Giving the girl a strange look, Spencer glanced over at the clock. “…and you’ve been sitting there moping ever since?”
The brunette cracked a tiny smile. “No, just since I heard you coming down the hall.”
“Ah.” Looking suitably contrite, the blonde dropped her backpack and sat down next to her girlfriend. “I know I did, I’m sorry. I wasn’t quite sure where my first class was, so I wanted a little extra time in case I had trouble finding it. I didn’t want to wake you.”
“I don’t like not seeing you in the morning.”
“I didn’t really like it, either.” Spencer blew out a breath. “Okay, I promise next time I’ll wake you up before I go.”
“What if…what if we agree to always have breakfast together, no matter what we’re doing or where we’re going that day?” Before Spencer could react, Ashley winced at how pathetic she sounded, completely missing the blonde’s tilted gaze and slowly-growing smile. “I know, I’m being needy agai—“
A mouth latched onto the brunette’s, effectively cutting off her apology. Just as abruptly, Spencer pulled away, beaming at her dazed girlfriend.
“I think it’s a great idea.”
Once her brain caught up with her, Ashley looked up into blue eyes, a rare whisper of vulnerability showing through. “Really?”
Spencer’s confident nod and reassuring smile was all Ashley needed. She stole another kiss, lightly brushing their lips together before touching her forehead to the blonde’s. For a moment, they simply sat there, eyes closed and content in their silent embrace.
Slowly, a smirk crept across Ashley’s lips. “So, as long as we’re agreeing on stuff we’re going to do every day—“
Spencer grasped the brunette’s chin before she could finish the thought, forcing their eyes to meet. “Don’t push your luck.”
Ashley’s smirk only broadened, but Spencer put the matter to rest with a final firm kiss. Willingly, the older girl let it drop, and the two got up and went into the kitchen to fix dinner.
”How was class?”
“I think my gaydar’s broken.”
“When was it ever working?” Ashley wasn’t fazed when her arm was swatted. “What? One of the ‘straight’ girl scouts drive you to make-out point?”
“No,” Spencer grumbled. “I just made the wrong assumption about this guy I met at orientation yesterday. Turns out he’s straight. And in my psychology class.”
”And…he thinks we’re hot together.”
The brunette gave a light laugh. “Yeah, he’s got that right.”
“I told him it was just you, full of all that hot air,” Spencer continued calmly.
The blonde smirked at her own success in teasing the girl. “Anyway, we met up with his girlfriend after class. They’re both really sweet.”
Ashley rubbed the girl’s shoulder. “Aw, did you make new friends today?”
“I think I did. And I think you’d like them.”
“Yeah.” Spencer watched her girlfriend from the corner of her vision while taking a few food items out of the pantry. “We should all hang out sometime.”
Ashley’s brow creased, and she regarded the blonde suspiciously. “You mean like a double date? I don’t know, Spence, that sounds awfully coupley.”
“And what are we?”
“A couple is different than a couple of couples. You know?”
“You’ll survive.” Shaking her head at Ashley’s pout, Spencer changed the subject. “Speaking of couples, how is Mrs. Dennison?”
The brunette shrugged indifferently, pulling dishes out of the cupboard. “Oh, just your typical disgruntled housewife, all ‘woe is me, I have to live with a boy,’ blah, blah, blah.”
“You could try to be a little more sympathetic. She is your sister, after all.”
“Half sister,” Ashley corrected, “and hell no. She’s the one who ran off to Vegas to get hitched.”
“Oh come on, Ash. You know what it’s like to be young and in love.”
The brunette almost appeared insulted by the comparison. “I haven’t dragged you to some chapel in Vegas!”
Spencer was less than convinced by the musician’s argument. “It wouldn’t be legal if you did.”
“That’s not the point.”
“Then what is the point?”
Ashley had to fumble for an answer, the question catching her off guard. “…exercise in…responsibility.”
“You mean like running away from our family and friends and almost getting kidnapped and raped in the process?” the blonde wondered with an eyebrow raised knowingly.
“Ugh, that was so two years ago.”
Spencer smiled. “Is that how it works?”
“Yes.” Ashley moved closer to stand directly in front of the taller girl. “I happen to be much more mature now.”
“Yes, really.” The brunette’s hands came to rest on Spencer’s hips, squeezing lightly. “Would you like me to show you?”
The blonde hummed lowly as Ashley kissed her softly. “Sure.” One more kiss, and Spencer moved her lips to the brunette’s ear. “You can start by finishing dinner.”
A moan of a different origin answered her as Spencer withdrew. The expected complaint soon followed. “Not quite what I had in mind.”
“You want to eat, don’t you?” The older girl opened her mouth to reply, but Spencer cut her off, holding a finger up in warning. “Not a word.”
Ashley only smirked as her girlfriend turned to leave the kitchen. Only when Spencer was out of sight did the brunette resume her task of putting together a meal for the two of them, smile fixed firmly in place.
I hope you all enjoyed the premiere as much as I did the first time I had the pleasure of reading it, and I hope you'll tell the author as much in the comments section. We only introduced two of the new characters that will be featured this season, but we'd love to know what you think of them! Again, feel free to expression any thoughts or speculations on where you think certain things are headed, or even where you hope they are, just like you would if you had just finished watching a real episode on television, and came online to discuss what you just saw with other fans. That's half the fun! We have over 600 members here, which is AMAZING to us, so we're hoping the full episodes will generate a little bit more activity from our members than the small previews did, as we want to know that everyone is reading and enjoying the fruits of our labors, if that's not too much to ask. ETA: I'm leaving this public until the end of the weekend.