HIDE BUT NEVER SEEK
They run away together Sunday morning and by Sunday evening she's already worried when they'll be headed back because, well, she's Spencer Hastings - she worries about everything.
She's sitting on the hood of her truck; Toby's only sitting on the dirt, picking at pieces of grass stuck from it.
Looking up to the stars, she breathes, "It's lonelier out here then I thought it'd be."
"Hardly," he responds nonchalantly. "Rosewood's lonelier."
"I guess when the only thing you feel is accused, sure," she mumbles, kicking the heel of her boot into the dirt underneath. She looks down to him when she feels a rush of loneliness. All she hears is the sound of his breathing; all she sees are his eyes wander away from where they are and up to the stars. "You alright?"
"Hardly," he answers, "but the fact you actually decided to runaway with me makes me feel a little better."
She only nods.
"You can sit on the dirt, you know," he says, using his palm and tapping the empty ground beside him. It looks so, so lonely and now more than ever, she knows the feeling all too well.
They fall asleep under the stars that night, wrapped in only a blanket she pulls out of the trunk of her car. They don't talk about much; just the small things.
When he thinks she's asleep he leans his body forward and presses his lips to her temple. They're hot on her skin, so she flinches a bit, her eyelids still tight.
She thinks she'll stay asleep. Reality was really the only thing she ever tried to escape from.
Hanna texts her that morning at around ten o'clock when her and Toby sit on the hood of the car, soft Indie music flowing out of the speakers and drifting through her open car window.
If you're up to it, we'll all be at Em's.
Closing her phone, she breathes heavily and looks to Toby, "They don't even know I'm gone."
She wants him to feel bad for her, even if she knows he won't because, well, he's been there before and he's still there. But it turns out he does feel a little bad, so he grabs her fingers and loops his own through them, whispering, "I know you exist. Is that good enough for now?"
She leans her head to the cove of his neck. That says enough, she thinks.
She's sitting on top of a rock down the road and doesn't even look back once to see if he's actually bothered looking for her. No one'll ever bother looking for you, she reminds herself when she's feeling extra cruel.
"Hey," she can feel the breath of him on her neck but she doesn't turn around because she's too stubborn to. "You didn't have to cry alone."
"I... I wasn't crying," she says, batting her moist eyelashes as she covers her face with her hands.
He laughs, "You don't have to cover it up for me. I won't look at you any differently."
"That's the thing," she hisses, turning to him now with tear-filled eyes and a guilt-ridden frown. "How can you even look at me?"
He says nothing; he just folds his legs and sits down on the dirt.
"For months I accused you of being Allison's killer," she breathes. "How can you even stand to be near me? If I were you, I'd hate my guts."
"That's the past, Spencer," he tells her, moving his hand so it's on top of her shaky knee. "I've forgiven you for all of that and more. Like I said, who else'll we hangout with? It's not like I've got any other friends."
She sighs, "Me either."
So he loops his hand with hers and looks up at her for only a moment before lifting a finger from his free hand, sliding it underneath her eyelid and off of her cheek. "They're not worth the tears."
She leans forward and lets her lips meet his. She doesn't even plan it; it just happens.
"Thanks for being my friend," she whispers when she finally pulls away, pressing her lips together as his glance meets hers.
"You're more than a friend to me, Spencer," he says. "We're in this mess together, aren't we?"
They drive back home on a Monday evening. She drops him back to his house, holds his hand while he walks up to his front door, and then drives back to her own.
"You have fun at Em's?" Is the first thing her mother says to her when she walks inside.
"Totally," is all she answers before she sprints her way up the staircase and into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
She plops down on her bed and throws herself down onto two pillows. She reaches her arm out into the pocket of her denim capris. She's got two messages; the one from Toby is the newest and she promises herself she'll save it for last.
'Hide' is nowhere to be found in the word 'Hastings'. You're just an amateur dying to be caught and I've totally caught on. -A
It's the first message and all she wants to do is close her phone and throw it to the wall. The only thing that stops her from doing so is the second message at the top of her inbox.
Even when you think the world hates you, just remember there's one person who doesn't, alright? Goodnight Spencer.
She shuts her phone, flushed in the cheeks as she nestles her body even further back into her pillows now. The message from 'A' is nothing now, she thinks. Not when she's got a message from Toby Cavanaugh that practically tops them all.
She visits him Tuesday afternoon with a French workbook, a pack of pens and a journal.
First, she tosses the workbook over to him and tells him she highlighted his assignment.
"Always organized," he says, flipping through the pages.
She hands him the pack of pens next, "Incase you need extra."
"And the journal?" She knew he'd ask; maybe that's why she brought it in the first place. "Is it yours?"
She nods, fiddling with the ribbon on the front cover as she tries to carefully untie it so it opens. The pages crinkle when she runs her hands over them a few times and she's afraid it's too old to even be looked at anymore, but he just looks intrigued.
"I've been keeping a journal since I was eight," she looks down to him as he reaches his hand up and runs his fingers over the pink ribbon on the front cover. "Consider it as like, a keepsake of me or something."
"You wrote on every page?" He's flipping through it now, enamoured, as he runs his fingers steadily over the places in the pages she indented the most. "Wow."
"I figured I'd let someone close to me read it," she says.
"Any reason? Not... not that I'm complaining because it's really nice, but..."
"I just need someone to understand me, Toby," she tells him, the desperation growing in her voice. "Read those pages; tell me I'm not crazy."
"Is this about your parents?" He's looking at the journal more than he is her, but regardless, he's the first person who actually takes some interest. More than Aria, more than Emily, more than Hanna and maybe even more than Spencer herself.
"I need to hear it, Toby," she says. "We're a lot alike, me and you. Just... read it."
"Have you even bothered asking him?"
Selfish. She starts to see that they're all selfish. She rolls her eyes and lets out a snicker as Hanna slams the cover of her textbook and repeats her question like she hasn't already heard.
"We need to know where Toby was the night of Ali's murder, Spencer," she goes on.
Spencer shuts her eyelids tightly for a moment, then breathes, "He wasn't with her, that's for sure."
She's tired of playing along with their silly little games of accusation.
And maybe, just maybe, she's even more tired of feeling like she's part of the accused now, even if it isnt her but Toby they're asking about.
"Why'd you hide this from everyone else but me?" It's the first thing he asks her as he's crouched down by his motorcycle, her journal flat down on the gravel. She stands as still as a rock above him, her arms folded beneath her chest. "You're pretty deep."
"Deeply confused," she says with a sigh.
He looks up at her with concern, putting down a wrench he's holding and reaching for the journal instead. "Why'd you let Ian hurt you?" He just has to ask that first before everything. He couldn't get to all of that without getting past the time Melissa threatened to break her hand after snooping around in her bedroom; the time she snuck into the barn when Ian and Melissa were pouring glasses of wine and planning some getaway she's got no true memory of; the time her world practically fell apart because her best friend was murdered and her other best friends were too busy falling apart on their own. "Don't you think you're stronger than that?"
For the first time in a long time, she's got nothing to say besides, "Probably not."
He stands up now, taking a rag from the seat of his motorcycle and wiping his right hand, the journal tight in his left. Reaching out his arm, he hands it over to her, "Thanks for letting me learn a little more about you."
"You read all of it? I mean, there's completely useless information in there. I'm sure your life could've continued on without being informed of my stealing of Melissa's old term paper, but..."
He laughs, "But those are all of the things that make you you, right? I thought it was pretty badass how quickly you figured it out. Besides, you won first place, right?"
She laughs too now, gripping the journal in her hands now, the ribbon on the front brushing against her palm. "Thanks," she nods to him and he nods one of those 'would've done it anytime' kind of nods back to her. "Thanks for reading this and still talking to me."
He reaches his hand out and places it to her shoulder, leaving it there for a minute. "You're not crazy Spencer."
She bites her bottom lip with her teeth and whispers, "You're the only one who thinks so."
"Better one then nothing."
He gives her a locket one day when she's expecting it the least. It's nothing fancy; just a golden heart hung from a golden chain. No words are inside; no pictures are inside.
"The middle's a place for you to put whatever you'd like," he tells her when he's watching her fiddle with the chain, running her index finger over the shining golden heart.
She leaves it unsaid; she's young and she's not ready to get an engraved locket or place a picture in the middle that'll just feel weird to remove later.
"Thanks," is all she answers.
"Don't thank me," he says. "Thank you, Spencer."
He opens his arms and just hugs her now, tangling his fingers through her hair. He feels comforting to her, like the way people would usually describe their home. Only, she doesn't use comfort to describe her home anymore because, well, her home is the complete opposite of comfort. She decides she'll let Toby Cavanaugh be her home instead.
She's on her front porch when she hears her mother yell for her to come inside. It's got something to do with Melissa and morning sickness and Ian not being around (which is pretty typical, Spencer thinks) but she tunes out the rest because she's sitting beside the one person that doesn't make her feel so odd and unwanted and it feels good - so good.
"You should go," he tells her, his hand on her kneecap as he starts to boost himself up from the bench seat. "Sounds like you're wanted."
She shakes her head and just lets out a snicker, "I'm only wanted when Melissa's involved."
He just nods, but really, she thinks he feels kind of sad for her or something by the way he's looking at her, his sea blue eyes full of pity and a little bit of hurt, too.
"Spencer!" Her mom's standing at the door now, her arms folded beneath her chest as she lets out a huff. She won't say anything while he's around (Spencer thinks it's because she's a coward, really) but she's more than irked that her daughter's sitting beside Toby Cavanaugh on their front porch at seven thirty in the morning.
She looks over to her mom, then to Toby, then to her mom again. Biting her lip and boosting herself up from the bench, she looks over to her mom once more and she looks completely satisfied, a smirk painted on her face as she watches her daughter leave Toby, just like that. Looking down to Toby again, she starts to fiddle with the golden locket that hangs from her neck and shuts her eyelids tightly for a moment. Her mom looks as if she's about to yell for her again even though she's practically five feet away from her, but it doesn't stop Spencer from leaning into Toby, almost leaving an imprint of her lips on his. "Thank you," she mutters, her lips just inches away from his now as they pull apart.
He responds with a smile, then, "You're kind of hard not to adore."
She laughs now, tugging at the chain the locket hangs on once more. "I'll see you, Toby."
"Don't be a stranger," he says before gripping the handle of the bench, boosting his body up and fleeing from her front porch as Spencer knows he can practically feel the burn of the rage in her mother's eyes, still standing in the doorway, more than disappointed.
Hide, hide, hide.
It's something she's never done when she was with him; it's something she'll never have to do.
Seek, seek, seek.
She never wants to be found. Not by anyone else, anyway.
A/N: Ah, my latest obsession: Spencer/Toby. I may write plenty more for them. I may not. This is just something I had lingering in my head for awhile so I figured I'd get it down.