"I'm glad you could miss that seminar," Caleb said, shuffling leisurely alongside Spencer. Around them, streets that should be dark glowed with the lights of a city that refused to sleep.
"Me too," She agreed. Normally, Spencer wasn't one to neglect her education, but a perk of being an obsessive over-achiever was still having plenty of absences to spare before the semester ended in a few weeks. Running into Caleb was exactly the sort of it-was-fate reason for which she could justify using one.
"Anyway, I could probably teach that seminar myself," she added.
"What's it about?" he asked. The subject could be anything and he'd probably believe her.
They spent the next few hours catching up as they wandered around the the center of Madrid. Spencer talked mostly of Spain, Caleb of his prior adventures in Europe. Neither brought up their past lives, a mutual but silent acknowledgement between them allowing the focus to remain on the present.
Eventually, their conversation stalled, and Spencer got up the courage to ask, "Are you getting tired?" She didn't particularly want to call it a night, but it was late - now into the early morning - and she knew he'd had a long day.
He shook his head. "Nope. I've still gotta redeem myself after the torture I put you through with that bull fight," he said, matter-of-factly shooting a grin which Spencer returned.
"Yeah. You do," she agreed. She wasn't sure she would ever truly recover from that traumatic experience.
"Although, I have to say -" Caleb began, raising his hand in an emphatic gesture, as if he were making a meaningful point.
"Don't," she pleaded. She could tell from the smirk forming on his lips that she wasn't going to like whatever it was.
"It was kind of awesome witnessing Spencer Hastings scream hysterically at the entire crowd," Caleb continued, ignoring her request. He honestly hadn't intended on freaking her out, and he felt bad upsetting her, but he couldn't deny the entertainment factor of watching it all play out. Spencer was nothing if not passionate.
"Yeah? Well, I'll cry again if you don't stop making fun of me." She threatened, hitting his arm playfully.
Caleb scoffed, "That was compliment!"
"Sure. Thanks." Spencer rolled her eyes, feigning offense. She matched his pace as he continued his steady gate. It occurred to her that somewhere along the way, he'd taken the lead; she wasn't sure where they were going or if he even knew, but it was nice to let someone else make the decisions for a change.
Almost as if he could hear her thoughts, Caleb suddenly came to a stop. "Here it is," he said. Spencer instantly recognized the location.
"Retiro park?" she prompted. "We'll have to come back tomorrow. It closed at midnight," she informed.
Caleb eyed her smugly. "Not for us."
Inside the park, secluded from the city light, the late hour was more apparent. Spencer and Caleb sat atop a large colonnade overlooking a pond that sparkled only with the faint glitter of the moon.
"The water looks beautiful at night," Spencer observed. "They had a fireworks show here a few weeks back, and I meant to come, but I never seem to find the time," she mentioned. Her current situation left her longing to go back and re-do the entire semester, really take everything in, and experience as much as possible.
"School keeps you pretty busy?" he asked.
Spencer shrugged. "Being Spencer keeps me pretty busy." She had always been that way, a vital part of her existence the insatiable need to throw herself headfirst and headstrong into whatever she could: school, work… murder investigations. She would say she was dedicated and driven, but if she were being honest, she knew it was simply the only way she knew how to cope.
Caleb nodded, understanding, not much different himself. He'd done his fair share of obsessing, constantly trying to crack the code that would solve every problem, that would finally provide some semblance of an answer. It was hard to let go of the chase.
As they tip-toed around the impending discussion of how they'd been dealing the past few years, Caleb settled on a peripheral subject. "How's Toby?" he asked, breaking the proverbial Rosewood ice.
"I was gonna ask you the same thing," Spencer responded, the sarcasm in her voice laced with disappointment. Caleb got the hint.
"I see. Sorry," he apologized. He hadn't spoken to Toby since he'd left for Europe, and even before, their relationship was distant at best. He just assumed they'd be together forever.
"It's life," she assured, smiling graciously. "After all the… circumstances… it's hard to make a relationship work with so much baggage, you know?"
Caleb did know. The mountains of betrayal and lies from sources inside and out had taken a toll on all of them. They may have made it out alive but none were without scars.
"You okay?" he asked. He didn't need to know the details.
"I'm fine," Spencer declared, looking him straight in the eyes. Five years ago, he wouldn't have believed her. Tonight, for some reason, he did.
"While we're on the relationship pity train…. " Spencer sighed, her lips pulling to one corner. "I heard about you and Hanna. I'm sorry," she offered. She had always thought Caleb was the best thing to ever happen to her friend, but she knew from experience that hearts can be shaped so heavily by another that one day you wake up and find the pieces of theirs no longer fit.
"Thanks, but it's okay. You grow up, you grow apart," he conceded. She nodded her head. "That's part of why I came out here, I guess. I needed to rediscover myself," he explained.
"How zen of you," she teased, effortlessly and instantaniously lightening the mood. "And what exactly have you discovered?"
"I discovered…" Caleb said, reaching into the messenger bag beside him with a sly grin, "That I really, really like sangria," he finished, pulling out two bottles of the beverage and waving them in the air.
Spencer let out a husky laugh. "Caleb!"