Disclaimer: I do not own Pretty Little Liars. No copyright infringement intended.
††††††††††††††† “Hey, babe, I think we’re out of coffee. Do you want me to go pick some up?” Toby Cavanaugh asked his wife. Even after a year, it felt surreal to call her that.
††††††††††††††† “Hold on! I can’t hear you; I’m drying my hair!” Spencer called from the bathroom.† “What were you saying?” she asked after putting away her blow dryer.
††††††††††††††† “I think we’re out of coffee. Would you like me to run out and grab some before you go to work?”
††††††††††††††† “No, that’s okay. And I’m not going to work today.”
††††††††††††††† Toby raised his eyebrows.
††††††††††††††† “Oh? You’re not going to work? Since when does Spencer Hastings-Cavanaugh not go to work?”
††††††††††††††† “Since I decided to take advantage of my husband’s only day off all week.”
††††††††††††††† “What will Rosewood do without their finest pharmacist?” Toby teased.
††††††††††††††† “Pharmacist’s assistant,” she corrected.
††††††††††††††† “That’s a temporary position, Spence. You’ll get there. We both know it.” Spencer sniffed softly.
††††††††††††††† “I know. It’s just rough right now. That’s part of why I wanted to take today off. I feel like we only see each other at night anymore. If I’m not at school, I’m at work. And if I’m not at school or work, you’re at work. I miss you,” she admitted quietly.
††††††††††††††† “Spencer, come here.” He led her into the living room, sitting down on the couch and pulling her into his lap. “Talk to me. What’s wrong?”
She laid her head on his shoulder, burying her face into the crook of his neck.
††††††††††††††† “The last year…has just been really hard. Harder than I expected,” she said. Toby sighed.
††††††††††††††† “Is this about your parents?” Spencer shrugged.
††††††††††††††† “School?” Another shrug.
††††††††††††††† “Work?” Another shrug.
††††††††††††††† “Spencer… Is it me? Am I not what you expected? If you’re not happy…”
††††††††††††††† “No! Toby, this has nothing to do with you. Or, maybe, it has everything to do with you.” She sighed in frustration. It was one of the rare occasions she couldn’t articulate her thoughts. “I love you so much. All I want is to be with you. But it feels more and more like we never see each other.” She cupped his face gently. “And I just really, really, really miss you.”
“Shh, Spencer, it’s okay. Do you want me to cut back my hours?”
††††††††††††††† “We need the money,” Spencer said flatly.
††††††††††††††† “Money?† Is that what this is about? Spencer, we’re fine. Okay? Do you hear me? We. Are. Fine. And you didn’t answer my question. Do you want me to cut back my hours?” he asked worriedly, searching her eyes for a different, hidden worry.
††††††††††††††† “No. Could we just…I don’t know. Not talk?”
††††††††††††††† “No, Spencer. We cannot just ‘not talk’. Something’s bothering you. What is it?”
††††††††††††††† “Do you remember that paid internship I applied for?”
††††††††††††††† “I didn’t get it.”
††††††††††††††† “It’s okay. I knew it was a long shot.”
††††††††††††††† “Spencer, you are one of the top med students at UPenn. Nothing about you is a long shot.” He sighed and rubbed her shoulder. “And I am sorry. I know how much you wanted that internship.”
††††††††††††††† “That’s not all. I got a letter from the credit card company. My credit card is maxed.”
††††††††††††††† “How? You never use that thing.”
Spencer bit her lip.† “Toby, there’s something I haven’t been completely honest about…”
††††††††††††††† “Yes?” he prompted.
††††††††††††††† “When we got married, my parents didn’t just stop talking to me. They froze my college fund. I had a partial tuition scholarship and I’ve been taking out student loans, but I got rejected last semester. I guess when your parents make a combined six figure income it doesn’t really matter if you need a loan. I put in my request to take off a year last week. It was approved yesterday.”
††††††††††††††† “Spencer… You can’t take a year off. This is your dream. You can apply for another loan. Listen, I’ll get another job. You don’t have to do this.”
Tears leaked out of Spencer’s closed eyes and streamed down her face, and he instantly softened.
††††††††††††††† “Why didn’t you tell me about any of this?”
††††††††††††††† “I knew how bad you felt already. I didn’t want to make you feel any guiltier.”
††††††††††††††† “If we weren’t together, you wouldn’t have to be dropping out of school,” he said slowly.
††††††††††††††† “Listen to me, Toby. I chose you, and I would choose you again. I’m not dropping out. I’m taking a year off to work and save enough money to go back. It’s not that big a deal.”
††††††††††††††† “Don’t lie to me, Spencer. We both know this is a big deal for you. Let me help you.” He gently caressed her cheek.
††††††††††††††† “Toby, you already work six days a week. You’re exhausted. Can we please drop this?” Toby sighed.
††††††††††††††† “Please! Can we just talk about something else?”
††††††††††††††† He was torn between wanting to push her further and giving her the space she clearly needed. After all, he could return to the topic later. He smiled, thinking of something that would cheer her up. He stretched out on the couch, pulling Spencer to his chest.
††††††††††††††† “Do you remember the first time we kissed?”
Spencer smiled.† “Yes. I was shocked. I thought you hated me.”
††††††††††††††† “I never hated you. Did you really think I would help you spy on my step-sister if I hated you?”
††††††††††††††† “I actually thought you might be setting me up,” she admitted.
††††††††††††††† “But you trusted me.”
††††††††††††††† “I trusted you,” she confirmed.
††††††††††††††† “It was a total bust, but I’m really glad we did it.”
††††††††††††††† “Oh, I don’t think it was a complete bust.”
††††††††††††††† “Oh?” he asked. Spencer grinned.
††††††††††††††† “Actually, I would say it was quite successful. I’ve never played such an… invigorating game of Scrabble before.”
††††††††††††††† “I kicked your ass at Scrabble. Admit it.”
††††††††††††††† “What makes you think that, after over six years, I’m going to admit to anything?”
He smirked. “Admit that you checked me out when I was changing clothes.”
††††††††††††††† “Never,” she giggled, kissing him.
††††††††††††††† “You know, I never would have expected it would be so easy to get Spencer Marie Hastings in bed on the first date.”
††††††††††††††† “That was not our first date,” Spencer laughed.
††††††††††††††† “What would you call it then?”
††††††††††††††† “I don’t know… But not a date.”
††††††††††††††† “I love you.”
Spencer looked up, surprised by the sudden declaration.
††††††††††††††† “I love you too. Always.” The two were silent for a moment before Spencer sat up, rubbing her eyes.
††††††††††††††† “What are we going to do, Toby?”
††††††††††††††† “I don’t know, Spence. But I promise we will get through this.”
††††††††††††††† “But how do you know that?”
††††††††††††††† “We’ve been through much worse, together and apart. If we could survive Jenna and Mona, we can survive your parents.”
††††††††††††††† “And I’m not going anywhere. You’re going to finish at UPenn and you’re going to be a ‘real’ pharmacist, okay? We’re in this together.” Spencer sighed and kissed him.
††††††††††††††† “You’re right. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
††††††††††††††† “You’d figure it out the same way you figure everything out… But I kind of hope you don’t have to. So…Admit it. You checked me out that night.” Spencer grinned.