Loving Ash

Bandfic for Fanfiction Royale

•BOOK 1 IN THE LOVING 5SOS SERIES•

Ashley Clifford spends her spare time coddling her camera and dancing to classic rock. After her high school boyfriend dumps her, she spends most of her time hiding out in her room and blasting pop breakup ballads. But what happens when her brother comes home? She hasn't seen him or his band in months.

Ashton Irwin spends his spare time banging on his drums or playing video games with his friends. Lately he's been hanging with his band, playing gigs all over. Returning home, he didn't expect to find Michael's little sister all grown up. And he definitely didn't expect her to join them on tour.

What happens when these two get put together in a small space? Will they bite each other's heads off, or will sparks fly?

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2. One: Damn, it's been awhile

One: Damn, it's been awhile

[ashley]

May 29, 2013 [roughly two years later]

Soap bubbles clung to the hairs on my arm as I rubbed the tattered blue dishcloth across the glass plate I was clutching. I stared down at the dirty dish, not really seeing it. My mind was focused on the recent heartbreak I had endured. My boyfriend of six months had broken up with me less than seventy-two hours ago.

I should've been moping. I should've been crying and listening to Taylor Swift. But I wasn't. No, after spending three days locked in my bedroom, I finally emerged and began washing dishes. Of course I cried. I was just like any other sane girl. Why wouldn't I cry? I had been convinced I was in love with him. He was my longest relationship. I cried; I called my best friend; I cried some more; I ate a gallon of ice cream and then, I cried again. Now though, well now I was too numb to do anything.

"Ashley, sweetie, are you alright?" the sound of my mother's voice startled me and I dropped the plate into the sink full of water. Blinking away the memories, I lifted my gaze to my mother's. Her dark blue eyes were tired and worry filled their depths.

"What? Yeah, I'm fine, mum," I replied, reaching for the plate again and scrubbing at it with renewed vigor. Don't think, just do. More suds clung to my arms, the small white bubbles almost distracting me. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, you've been scrubbing the same plate for the last ten minutes," she informed me, gesturing to the dish in my hand. I paused my motions, staring down at the dish in surprise. "And you've been locked in your bedroom for the past few days with only Mercedes allowed to enter."

"I'm fine, mum," I repeated, reaching for the facet. The soap bubbles disappeared as I rinsed the dishes with the warm water. Setting the dishes on the drying rack one by one, I glanced at the clock above me. It was just after two o'clock - I'd been at it for over an hour. I turned the water to cold, cupping my hands and filling my palms with the cold water. The freezing water bit into my heated skin, my eyelashes fluttering closed as I splashed it on my face.

Why did he break up with me? Was I not good enough?

"Are you sure dear?" My mum asked, the obvious concern in her voice tugging at my fragile heart strings. Mum could always tell when I was upset.

"I'm going to be okay, mum," I replied, plucking a dry towel from the counter to dry my face and hands. "So what's up?"

"I left something for you on your bed," she informed me, smiling a little bit.

"When?" I asked in confusion, setting the towel on the counter. I glanced at the clock again. "I just came out of there maybe an hour ago."

"Only a few minutes ago," she responded, plucking the drying towel up and folding it. "Go take a look, dear. I hope it cheers you up a little."

I shot her a confused look, but left the kitchen anyway. I took the stairs two at a time, missing my step a few times and slipping down the stairs. I finally gave up trying to rush up the stairs and carefully stepped up each one. I let out a sigh and rubbed my hand along my bruised butt and thigh. I'm such a klutz.

I walked down the hallway, tugging open my door and stepping into my bedroom. The pink walls made me wince, but the color was mostly covered by the film and band posters I had taped up. The only thing I noticed about my bed was that it was made. I took two steps inside the room before a weight hit my side and I fell to the floor, a heavy weight on top of me.

"I've missed you so much!" A voice practically screamed in my ear, making me go temporarily deaf in my right ear. I flinched at the sound, but grinned as I inhaled the familiar scent of pine needles and the sea.

"Michael?" I asked, shoving at the body on top of me. I couldn't see who it was properly, but if the smell was anything to go off of, it was either my twin or a talking bear. I was leaning towards a talking bear personally. Seriously, he was heavy. My side was throbbing, and lights danced behind my eyelids. Whoops.

"Yeah, it's me," he replied enthusiastically, bouncing a little. I let out a whimper, shutting my eyes tight. Ouch that hurt.

"Get off you fat arse!" I whined, pushing harder against my brother. He quickly rolled off of me, and the air returned to my lungs. I sat up slowly, pushing my hair away from my face. Michael stood in front of me, his natural brown hair dyed a bright candy cane red and his eyebrow appeared to be pierced. I stared at him in disbelief. "Holy crap, you're actually here? I thought you wouldn't be able to come home before you were off for tour."

"Yes, I'm really here, Ashley," he chuckled as I attempted to stand up. "I wasn't supposed to, but mum called about Lance. I managed to get a couple of days to come home."

"Wher- I mean, what..." I trailed off just staring at my brother. I could feel my neck flushing with heat at the thought of mum calling him. Michael smiled sweetly at me, his blue eyes meeting mine.

"How would you like to go with us?" He asked, his eyes completely focused on mine. I hadn't seen him look so serious since we were ten and I broke my leg.

"What do you mean?" I asked, pushing my hair out of my face. Michael being serious was weird. "On tour?"

"Yeah!" He nodded, still looking pretty calm and collected. This was seriously starting to freak me out.

"Are you serious?" I asked in shock. He wanted me to go on tour with them?

"Dead serious, Ashy," he responded, pulling me towards my bed. We sat on the edge, my feet dangling over the edge. "I've talked to management and the boys. We all want you to come. Mum said it was alright if you want to come. So what do you say? Come film for us again?"

I stared blankly at my twin, my jaw slack. They wanted me to come with them? On tour? To America? And I could film them again. It would be just like old times!

"I-I mean, Mikey, that's huge," I breathed, clasping my hands. This could be exactly what I needed. To get away from Sydney, away from Lance, away from all of it. "I would love to come with you guys."

Michael jumped to his feet, a grin blossoming on his face. A huge smile grew on my face as Michael's enthusiasm rubbed off on me. His bright red hair flopped on his forehead as he danced across my small pink bedroom, jumping up onto my desk chair and accidentally tipping it over, he face planted in my soft, cream colored carpet.

I laughed. I laughed hard. You know the sounds that come out of your body when you laugh really hard? Yeah, I was making those sounds. Snorts, high-pitched giggles mixed in with my normal laughter, and my all-time favorite: the hyperventilating, no noise, breathy laughter that you can't control.

I collapsed backwards onto my maroon bedspread, hands on my stomach and legs curled up. I heard Michael stumble into a standing position, but made no move to help him up.

"You sure you wanna come, Ashy?" Michael asked me, sitting down next to me, suddenly completely serious again. I quickly sobered up enough to talk to him, smiling brightly.

"Of course," I answered truthfully. Tucking a strand of my long brown hair behind my ear I continued, my voice laced with sarcasm. "I can't wait to be trapped in a small bus with four boys!"

Michael laughed, throwing his head back in amusement. I'd grown up with said four boys, and he knew how untrue that statement was. Don't get me wrong, I loved those boys to death, but they could become an extreme handful. They were like little puppies - adorable, but after a while they give you a headache. Plus, they were prone to making messes and stinking the place up.

"Alright then Ashy, you need to get packed," Michael's voice broke through my thoughts, bringing me back to the present. "We leave in two days!"

"Two days?" I bit my lip, in confusion. Only two days? What would I tell Mercedes? I stood up and made my way to the small desk next to my fallen chair. "Okay, well, I mean...packing. What should I pack? How much? I—"

"I should go talk to mum," Michael stopped me, raising his hands in defense, already refusing to help me pack. "You have fun!"

"Could you at least grab my green duffle?" I asked him without looking up from the electronics I was shuffling through. "It's in the closet under the stairs."

"Sure thing Ashy," he replied, smacking my butt as he walked out. I just rolled my eyes, flinching slightly, but continued digging through my pile. Soon I pulled out a set of speakers and an iPod, which I promptly turned on. Shuffling through the different music, I pressed play on one of my favorites, "Can't Buy Me Love" by the Beatles. I fluttered from place to place in the room, the music pumping through the speakers, my hips swaying along. Losing myself in the music, I didn't notice the sound of footsteps or the boy standing in the doorway holding onto my army green duffle bag.

"Damn, it's been a while." He muttered, his husky voice startling me.

I spun around quickly, staring at the tall boy leaning against my doorframe. He looked the same as I remember. His hair was messy and his green eyes gleamed mischievously. He stood in dangerously low hung jeans and a tight blue t-shirt. I was vaguely aware of the soft strains of "Just the Way You Are" by Billy Joel playing through the room as Ashton walked farther inside. I backed up, attempting I stay away from him and find something to cover myself with. I was only wearing a tank top with a pair of tight blue jeans. I didn't get far though.

"Where are you going, sweetheart?" His voice was deeper than I remember, sending shivers down my spine. His trademark smirk was in place and I could hear the mocking tone in the words.

"I'm not going anywhere, hun," I said the last bit with sarcasm, happy my voice was working. He still captivated me - his eyes, his voice. I couldn't keep my eyes from his face. Why did he still affect me like this?

"You sure, Ash?" his eyes glinted. "If you aren't, why are you backing away?"

I glared at him as I stopped moving backwards. God, he irritated me. "I was looking for my jumper."

His eyes wandered down my body again and I fidgeted. I swear I saw something flash through his eyes, but I couldn't quite place it. My fingers clutched the seams of my jeans in an attempt to keep them still. He shook me, that's for sure.

"Why cover up, darling?" his smirk grew wider as he moved closer to me. We were close enough for him to touch me. His fingers brushed against mine before they trailed up my arm. I rolled my eyes, holding back a shiver at the tingles he was sending up my arm. After all this time, he still had a hold over me. He was still my weakness.

"Quit it, Ashton," I snapped in annoyance. I pushed his hand away from me, trying to hide how my skin betrayed me with the goosebumps that appeared after his touch. "I wouldn't touch you if you paid me a million - so back off. I need to pack."

It was all a lie. I wanted to feel his arms around me. I wanted to know what it was like to kiss him. I was dying to feel his lips on mine, but I couldn't tell him that. Not now - not ever.

By this point "hello, goodbye" by the Beatles was half over. I glared once more at Ashton before turning away and walking to my wardrobe. Attempting to completely ignore his presence, I started looking through my clothing. This was probably the hardest thing I had to do - completely ignoring Ashton. I was so tempted to turn around and stare at the man behind me, but I forced my hands to continue picking up random clothes.

I could feel his eyes burning into my back, his body hovering a few feet away from me. After a few minutes of my silent treatment, I heard him sigh in annoyance and shuffle from the room. Letting out a sigh of relief, I relaxed and got back into my packing routine.

I opened my bag, shoving dresses and tops inside. Deep breaths kept me from freaking out too much. Living with Ashton for three months? All my previous feelings for him came rushing back. How would I stay sane trapped in such a small space with him? A sudden loud chime sounded over my music, drawing my attention to my phone.

Incoming call: Sadie

I smiled in relief, picking up my cell and answering the call.

"Sadie, hi," I said as I walked to my stereo, turning it off. The music cut off, leaving my room in silence.

"How are you holding up, babe?" My best friend asked. I smiled, knowing she was concerned. I loved her so much. She was like the sister I never had.

"I'm good," I replied honestly. I was doing great - if we didn't count how shaken up I was from that encounter with Ashton. I hadn't even thought about Lance once since I saw him. "Guess who's here."

"Daniel Radcliffe?" I rolled my eyes at her response. I knew she would say that.

"No, and I highly doubt he ever will be," I laughed.

"It could happen," Sadie grumbled, and I could just picture her scowling. "Now tell me - who's appeared out of nowhere?"

"Michael," I informed her, getting right to it. She knew everything, all my secrets. She knew about my crush on Ashton, and all the feelings I kept inside about him. She knew the reason Lance broke up with me, and she knew why it was so hard for me to admit it was my fault. "He got here this afternoon."

"I thought he wasn't coming home until September," she said softly. I ran my hand through my hair with a sigh.

"I didn't think he was," I replied, staring at my half packed bag. "But he's here."

She was silent, her breathing the only sound coming through the phone. I chewed on my fingernails, dropping onto my bed. Why was everything so complicated?

"Have you seen—"

"Yes," I cut her off. I fell backwards, letting my back collide with the mattress. His image was burned into my mind. The way his hands were stuffed into the pockets of his jeans and the way his eyes stared hungrily at me. God, he frustrated me so much!

"What happened?" Sadie asked softly. She could read my mind sometimes.

"He was..." I trailed off, blowing out a huff of air. Rude? Foreword? Hot? "He was Ashton."

Sadie laughed at me, her amusement pouring through the phone. I rolled my eyes, a blush creeping up my cheeks.

"You're still so into him, aren't you?" She asked once she'd calmed down a bit. I stayed silent, running a hand over my face. Yeah, majorly. "You've got it bad, girl."

"Whatever," I mumbled, sitting up again. I glanced at my bag again. "But anyway, Michael invited me along."

"On tour you mean?" She questioned in surprise. I stood up, walking to my closet again.

"Yeah," I bit my lip as I pushed a few of my favorite t-shirts into my bag. "We leave in two days."

"Wow, that's awesome, Ash!" Sadie squealed in excitement, completely dropping the Ashton thing. "It's just what you need! 3 months away from everything. Plus three really hot guys! God, I'm so jealous right now."

"Um, 8 guys, Sadie," I corrected her, blushing slightly. "One Direction is the band we're tagging along with."

"You lucky bitch," she breathed out and I giggled. "You'd better tell me everything."

"I will, I promise," I laughed again. "I've gotta finish packing."

"Okay, call me before you leave, girl," Sadie cooed.

"Alright bye!" I replied before hanging up.

I sat back on my bed, running my hands through my hair with a groan. How was I going to survive living with Ashton? I could barely hold my feelings in check seeing him every other week. How would I be able to keep from making a fool of myself? I laid back, dropping my head to the mattress. I needed this trip. I would just have to deal with Ashton the best I could.

I was almost finished packing by the time Calum skipped into my bedroom. He was followed closely by a smirking Luke. A grin claimed my face at the sight of Calum - he was my best friend in the group. He chuckled, stopping in his tracks and holding out his arms. I instantly ran into his arms, colliding with his chest. My skinny arms wrapped around his waist and I buried my face in his chest. His white tank top was soft against my cheeks and I instantly relaxed as his arms settled around my shoulders.

"Hi," he muttered into my hair, his lips moving against the top of my head. I smiled, inhaling his cologne.

"Hey," I mumbled in reply, keeping my face firmly pressed against his shoulder. He was my best friend, besides Sadie, and I had missed him terribly.

"You two are cute, but can I get a hug too?" Luke asked from behind Cal, his blue eyes flashing in irritation. I smiled sheepishly, pulling out of Calum's arms and turning to the pouting blonde.

"Of course you can, Lukey," I cooed, wrapping my arms around his neck. Well, I tried to. He had grown quite a bit since I'd seen him last. He bent at the waist, wrapping his arms around me in a tight hug. He pressed his face into my hair, his arms tightening around me. I hugged him back, feeling a little awkward after a few minutes. I patted his back, glaring at a laughing Calum. "Okay, Luke. I missed you too."

Luke jerked away from me, his cheeks bright red. His hand went to the back of his neck, rubbing awkwardly. We stood there for a few seconds, his eyes darting around the room and mine searching his face. He seemed embarrassed, but I wasn't sure why.

"Well this is awkward," Calum voiced, the amusement clear in his voice. I shook my head, turning back to my bag.

"Only if you make it awkward, Calpal," I told him, setting my phone charger in my rucksack. Calum threw himself onto my bed, lounging across the top half. Luke shuffled his feet before folding his legs and sitting on the floor.

I continued to go through my room, picking up random items and tossing them in my bags. By the time I was finished packing, Calum had drifted asleep. With a tired sigh, I folded myself and sat next to Luke. I laid down, my head in his lap and my eyes closed.

"He fell asleep pretty quickly," I stated, referring to the snoring boy on my bed. Luke laughed, twirling my hair around his fingers.

"Jet-lag,"

"Oh right," I snapped my fingers and wrinkled my nose. Jet-lag sucks. "When did you guys get in?"

"1:30," he answered, his fingers rubbing circles on my scalp. I relaxed even more into him, slowing my breathing. "We got last minute tickets."

"When did you decide to come back?" I mumbled, trying to keep myself awake. I was so tired.

"Late last night," he hummed in reply.

"Oh," I opened my eyes, glancing at the open window. It was surprisingly dark and there was still no sign of Ashton or Michael.

"When Michael told us we were coming to see you, Ashton couldn't stop his smiling." Luke told me in a whisper. My eyes snapped to his light blue ones, but he just smiled tightly down at me. "He's been so much happier, you know, just thinking about seeing you."

I snorted. Ashton, excited to see me? More like he was excited to torture me. Even with those negative thoughts, I still couldn't stop the butterflies that erupted in my stomach. "Sure he is, Lukie."

"Honest, Ashley." he was staring down at me, studying me as if he wasn't sure what to do with me. "He's been loads happier. So have I."

I blinked in surprise. Luke was leaning in closer and my eyes fluttered shut instinctively. I could feel his warm breath on my face, and my heart sped up. He was about to kiss me. Did I want him to kiss me? No. I needed to stop him before he did something he'd regret later.

I opened my eyes, Luke's face hovering over mine. His eyes were open as well, as if he knew I didn't want this. Before either of us could move, Ashton's voice sounded from the doorway.

"Ey Luke could you help—" his eyes met mine and I could see him freeze. I could tell my eyes were wide and my mouth hung slightly open, but I couldn't move. Luke was poised over me still, my head in his lap. I knew this looked bad - really bad. Ashton's eyes moved to meet Luke's before they moved back to mine. "Sorry for interrupting."

"Ashley, mum needs you to—" Michael's voice cut off as soon as he saw what was going on in my room. Calum was somehow still asleep and Luke's face was still inches from mine. When he caught sight of Michael he quickly sat up and tried to move away from me. "What the hell are you doing with my sister Luke?"

"We were—" I stopped myself, shrinking under my brother's glare. I sat up slowly, pushing my back against my bed. "Never mind."

"S-she had something in her eye?" He stuttered, his excuse coming out as a question.

My brother's glare didn't waver, his eyes boring into Luke's. he obviously didn't believe the lie. I didn't dare look at Ashton, not sure how I would take his reaction. Did he see what was about to happen?

"Ashton and I brought pizza," Michael said, his tone cutting through me. He was angry. "Ashley, wake Calum up and we can go eat."

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