As soon as Emily sat down to lunch she was flanked by Hanna and Aria and met with a barrage of questions that reminded her of Spencer's joke about the Spanish Inquisition earlier that morning. She was alone thanks to Spencer's quandary about whether to have the safe choice of a salad or risk the cafeteria's version of lasagna.

If it was anyone other than her two best friends, Emily might have felt overwhelmed by all of this, but since it was Hanna and Aria, their faces brimming with such obvious happiness for her and excitement in their voices, all she could do was laugh. Easy and carefree, it bubbled up in her throat, filling her with delight. Hanna's eyes twinkled at her reaction while Aria pouted, clearly wanting her answers as soon as possible. In the meantime, Spencer had arrived, apparently deciding to take a chance and go with the lasagna.

Hanna was all too happy to be accommodating, scooting over so Spencer could sit next to Emily on the couch located in the lounge portion of the cafeteria. Wearing a sardonic expression, Spencer looked to Emily. "On a scale of one to ten, how bad are they?"

"Six," said Emily with a grin. "Pretty bad but they could be worse."

"We are sitting here, you know," remarked Aria.

"Oh really? I didn't see you there," drawled Spencer, lifting up her fork and inspecting the lasagna with discerning eyes.

"A short joke, how original," Aria said, ignoring Spencer's chuckle, and Hanna's wide grin. Focusing her attention on Emily, she tugged on her sleeve and said, "You were going to tell us how you guys hooked up."

"The same way you did with Ezra," said Spencer dryly.

"It was in the bathroom?" asked Hanna innocently and Spencer released a snort of laughter at this.

"I'm officially ignoring you," announced Aria, staring Spencer down, and turning back to Emily once again. "Come on, Em, you have to tell us something. I mean, this sort of came out of nowhere, right?"

When neither of them replied immediately, Hanna gasped and exclaimed, "You've been doing it for months, haven't you!"

"What? No!" Spencer sputtered, her neck and face turning red as she protested.

Now recognizing this as a tell tale sign of embarrassment on Spencer's part, Emily smiled softly and touched Spencer's knee. She looked around her to face Hanna as she said, "Spencer told you the truth this morning. Yesterday was the first time we kissed."

"So are you gay now?" Hanna asked Spencer, her brow furrowing, a genuinely curious look on her features.

Without realizing it, Hanna landed on the one sore point Emily had found in all of this. Spencer's sexuality. They never went into Spencer's sudden interest in girls, her in particular, beyond the surface lesbian fantasy explanation which really wasn't anything if you considered they were talking about Spencer Hastings. Emily knew her friend well enough that she probably only said that to broach the subject of her interest in the first place. It was Spencer's interest that made her nervous though. As good as Spencer made her feel, far better than Alison and more than even Maya or Paige, Emily didn't know if she was just an experiment. Or maybe she was the exception to the straight rule and Spencer was only gay for her? Neither of which filled her with much confidence. In fact, both of those options made Emily feel just as lousy as going back into the closet in order to date someone. Like she was something to be ashamed of and Emily hated that feeling, she had enough of it when she was in love with Alison, and she didn't want to experience it anymore.

Of course, she couldn't imagine Spencer doing any of those things to her but Emily couldn't help feeling insecure. They hadn't discussed Spencer's attraction to her in any sort of depth and even though her love life wasn't exactly lengthy it was filled with a good deal of disappointment. Not to mention a lot of heartbreak and she thought being with Spencer, because they were friends and because Spencer was... well, Spencer, protective and sweet and kind, she would escape her doomed trend in relationships. She didn't want to waver in this belief but Emily couldn't help thinking a lot of that depended on how Spencer answered Hanna right now.

"No, Hanna," said Spencer, humor lacing her words. "I'm not gay now." Aware of Emily's negative response to hearing this, Spencer reached for hand, clasping it in a gentle hold. "There's this mysterious thing called bisexuality. You might have heard of it?"

Rolling her eyes, Hanna said peevishly, "Whatever. When did you know you were a mysterious bisexual?"

"I've suspected for awhile," Spencer revealed. Emily was doing her level best to listen to the conversation but it was hard with Spencer's fingertips lightly tracing a path over the palm of her hand. From the way that Spencer's lips quirked up slightly, Emily had her suspicions that Spencer was aware of the affect her touch was having.

"But you never told us," said Aria, frowning at Spencer.

Part of Emily could understand Aria's feelings. They did keep secrets but more and more it seemed those secrets were fading away and there were only a few things they didn't know about one another. Spencer not speaking about her sexuality was a pretty big secret to have. Especially in light of Emily coming out and Aria revealing her relationship with Ezra.

"I know," said Spencer and there was a tinge of guilt in her voice. "I honestly do apologize but I just didn't see the point of saying anything until there was a girl that I liked." She said the last part with a soft smile on her features while looking at Emily who could feel her heart beating faster at the sight.

"And now there's a girl," supplied Hanna, appearing oddly triumphant as she said this. Wiggling in her seat, she clapped her hands excitedly. "Come on, Spence, dish! When did you know that Emily was it?"

"It," Emily echoed in a humorous mutter. "That sounds flattering."

"Was it during one of our sleepovers? Or maybe when she was an obnoxious drunk?" Hanna pursued gleefully, ignoring Emily's complaint.

"I wasn't an obnoxious drunk!" objected Emily, not in the least pleased with that description.

"Hanna," Spencer said her name with a chuckle, an amused look on her features. "I really think I should tell Emily that first. Chronologically, it seems more appropriate to confess these things to your love interest before your friend."

"They're not going to tell you anything," said Aria, looking around Spencer and Emily, and facing Hanna. "Give it up."

"Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across," said Spencer wisely and when they all stared at her with blank expressions she heaved a sigh. "Sun Tzu, The Art of War? Am I the only one here with a summer reading list?"

"I don't know but it feels like we've been reading Grapes of Wrath forever. I wish Mr. Fitz would pick a different book," Emily grumped. Realizing who she was speaking about and in which company, she quickly added, "Not that there's something wrong with that!"

"Don't worry, I'm sick of the dust bowl too," said Aria wryly.

As she said this, the bell rang, signaling an end to lunch and they parted ways since Hanna and Aria were on the other side of the school with classes in World History and Spanish. Spencer and Emily headed to Emily's Chemistry class in comfortable silence but Emily soon found herself staring at Spencer's hand and considering it until, finally, she got irritated with herself and reached out for it. Spencer looked over at her with surprise that shifted into pleasure as Emily laced their fingers together. A smile curving on her lips, she swung their hands lightly in between them as they walked to their classes.

Coming to a stop outside the room, Emily was only vaguely aware of people going around her and into the class as Spencer leaned against the doorway. "Are you okay with this?" asked Spencer softly and she was just a breath away from Emily. "With us? I know it's so brand new that we're practically shiny but you probably have some opinion."

"I'm okay, we're okay," said Emily in reassuring tones. "I do want to talk about it though. Only..." Emily trailed off worriedly.

"What?" Spencer prompted, an encouraging look on her features.

"Only I have swim practice after school," said Emily and she wasn't sure why she was worried when she watched Spencer smile.

"I'll wait for you," said Spencer, her eyes shining affectionately.

"What about you? Are you okay with this?" asked Emily, suddenly anxious.

"I'm very okay," Spencer drawled, a crooked smile tugging at her lips. She wore a thoughtful expression as she tucked a lock of hair behind Emily's ear and murmured, "This is what I've wanted for awhile, Em."

"Lesbian fantasies," said Emily knowingly, forming a teasing smile.

Chuckling at this, Spencer replied, "Yes and my lesbian fantasies are decidedly more boring than most average teenage boys." Her eyes glanced up at a nearby clock and she turned back to Emily as she said, "I better get going." Moving forward smoothly, she kissed Emily lightly, her fingers trailing across Emily's cheek. "I'll see you after swim practice."

"All right," said Emily happily, the words coming out in an almost breathless manner. She would've been embarrassed but she was feeling too good about herself for that to happen. Especially when Spencer turned around after a few steps and beamed at her as she blew a kiss goodbye. Shaking her head, Emily walked into the classroom.

The moment she sat down her phone buzzed and she saw the notice of a text message from an unknown user. Staring at the phone, Emily debated whether or not to read it as her teacher started class and ultimately she gave in. There was no point in torturing herself about wondering. It was better to know what the monster had decided to taunt her with this time around.

Spencer and Emily sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes the damage. -A

There was a rushing in her ears and Emily almost thought she would pass out. The text messages were always ridiculous when you looked how they were worded but the threat was there all the same and Emily knew all too well that A went through with their threats. She just didn't know what this one meant for her and Spencer. Other than it wasn't anything good.


It took all of Emily's effort to concentrate on practice and her performance rather than obsessing over Spencer and the text message from A. Somehow she managed to do it but by the time it was time for them to leave, she was thoroughly exhausted and all she wanted to do was curl up with Spencer and have their talk. She was dressed and sitting on the bench, pulling on her shoes, and trying her best not to look like she was in a massive rush to get out of there and probably failing.

Emily saw Paige's shoes before she heard her speak. "Congratulations," said Paige and Emily looked up, taking in her expression that seemed laced with hurt and a little bit of jealousy and sadness. Emily looked around the locker room at their teammates, surprised that Paige was even talking to her with them around. Paige wore a small and pained smile. "For your new time record," she supplied.

"Oh, right," said Emily, blinking at Paige. She had been so distracted with Spencer and A that the fact she set a new record for the butterfly stroke had slipped her mind. Standing up and slinging her duffle bag over her shoulder, she said, "Thanks." She paused, considering saying something else but she thought better of it, knowing that Paige wouldn't appreciate it with all these people around. "I have to go," Emily said, jerking her thumb at the door.

"I'll come with you," said Paige, still smiling, and making Emily feel strangely uneasy as she observed it. This was all too nice and normal and neat for her life and she wondered when the other shoe was going to drop. In this case, it was the moment they left the locker room and were alone except for Spencer standing in the distance, at the entrance of the gym. Even though she was a good length away, Emily could swear she saw Spencer's eyes narrow at the sight of Paige. In the meantime, Paige tilted her head to one side, wearing a playful smirk as she said, "You and the Student Council President, huh?"

"She's not the Student Council President," said Emily, though she smiled at Paige's joke. She did think the role perfectly suited Spencer and she wouldn't be surprised if Spencer ended up running for the position eventually. It would look good on her ever improving resume for the myriad of ivy league schools she was sure Spencer was aiming for. "But yeah, me and her."

"That's new," said Paige in an attempt to be casual.

"Yesterday new," said Emily, unconsciously echoing Spencer's words from this morning. "Paige," she said with a slight frown and a good deal of concern. "What is this about? I thought we were-"

"We are," Paige interrupted, clearly not wanting to speak about the sudden and preemptive end to their romance on Emily's part. "I just..." She stopped abruptly and her jaw clenched. When she looked back at Emily there was a quiet sort of desperation in her gaze as she asked, "Is she good to you?"

"Spencer?" Emily had the urge to laugh at this question because the idea of Spencer being anything else was comical. Then Paige nodded solemnly and she held the impulse back. It would be downright mean to laugh and Emily wasn't the type to look for ways to hurt another person. That wasn't in her nature. "Yes," said Emily, looking over at Spencer and noticing how she was getting closer and closer to where Emily stood with Paige as time passed. A soft smile formed and she continued, "She's good to me." Focusing on Paige, she added quietly, "Spencer has always tried to protect me."

"She's out then," said Paige and the words seemed to be forced from her. Like they had a bitter taste to them. "Her folks know."

This remark caused Emily to pause just because she didn't have the answer to that and Spencer's family was so different than her own. She had a hard time telling her parents due to their military and Christian background but Spencer didn't have any of those things working against her. But she did have a family that didn't seem to pay attention to her unless she was in trouble with the law or doing something they perceived as damaging their family's reputation. Whether or not Spencer being bisexual and dating another girl was among those things, Emily had no idea. She did know that she didn't much like Spencer's family. While she had her own issues with her parents, her mother in particular, she knew without a doubt that they loved her unconditionally and she didn't think Spencer felt that way with her own parents. Emily suspected love wasn't something given freely in the Hastings household. It was something that you earned with good grades, awards, and success at whatever task you were assigned.

It seemed to Emily that Spencer's parents viewed her as nothing more than a pawn in their little games. A fun toy they could manipulate and control and it always bothered Emily, the amount of pressure they put on her win, and she wondered at times how Spencer didn't go crazy over it. Maybe it was true what Spencer said, that she was so used to it that it was normal to her, but Emily couldn't understand how that much emphasis on success, making any small failure feel like the end of the world, was healthy.

"Yeah," said Emily, smiling as she told the lie, sure that even if it wasn't the truth it would be soon. Spencer might keep secrets from her family but she couldn't see their relationship as one of them. Spencer wouldn't do that to her. "She's out."

"I don't know why I asked that," Paige muttered, looking angry with herself. "I saw you both in the hallway this morning."

"I know," Emily murmured, reaching for Paige's hand and touching it briefly. Pulling away when Paige looked at her. "I'm sorry, Paige. I didn't want to hurt you but-"

"You can't deal, I get it," Paige cut Emily off, shaking her head, a self-deprecating look on her face. "I totally understand. I'd probably feel the same if I was you. I don't even know why I'm asking you all this. It's not like I have any right."

"You do if you want to be my friend," said Emily gently, offering a smile when Paige looked at her.

The stunned look Paige had after Emily said this almost made her sad. She had no idea what Paige thought of her after their break up, if you could even call it that as they weren't in much of a relationship at the time, but she was starting to suspect that Paige thought she might have a minor vindictive streak about it. Which was the furthest thing from the truth.

"I think I'd like that," said Paige, smiling at Emily hesitantly. Her eyes darted to Spencer and she said, "But I doubt she'll be happy to hear about it."

"Spencer?" Emily asked and when Paige gave a nervous smile, Emily laughed. "Are you worried about her or something?"

"She's not fun to deal with when she's mad," said Paige simply.

Emily almost asked how Paige knew what Spencer was like when she got angry then she recalled letting it slip about the near drowning in the pool thanks to Paige's ire and the look of fury on Spencer's face. She told her not to do anything but of course that request wouldn't be obeyed, not with a situation like that. It was too serious for Spencer to overlook. Sighing and looking over at Spencer who was just a few feet away, Emily wondered how long she had been looking out for her. Probably since the first day they had become friends, if she was perfectly honest. Turning back to Paige, she said, "I better get going. I've kept her waiting too long."

"Yeah," said Paige, shoving her hands into the pockets of her jacket. "I'm happy for you, Emily. Really."

"Thanks," said Emily kindly, squeezing Paige's hand briefly, before turning on her heel and walking over to Spencer who had a scowl on her face that she could see better with every step closer she got to her. "Your face is going to freeze that way," Emily teased.

"What?" Spencer frowned, her gaze still fixated on Paige, and if looks could kill Emily would've been very worried for Paige. Sighing at Spencer's distraction, Emily cupped Spencer's face in her hands, kissing her soundly when Spencer finally looked her way. When they parted Spencer had a befuddled look on her features. "What was that for?"

"Just trying to get your attention," said Emily impishly, hooking her arm in Spencer's and leading them out of the gym.

"Well, you have it," Spencer drawled, reaching for Emily's hand and intwining their fingers. She was silent for a moment then she studied Emily with a serious look as she asked, "What were you and Paige talking about?"

"You, me, us, her," said Emily flippantly.

"Okay," said Spencer slowly, her voice echoing with sardonic humor. "You're big up with the pronoun love but care to elaborate with some verbs or maybe even a few nouns?"

"She wanted to know if we were going out," said Emily, watching as Spencer stepped ahead to open the gym door for Emily.

"And what did you tell her?" asked Spencer when Emily stopped in front of her.

"I told her we are," Emily replied and once again, the undefined nature of their relationship was making her nervous. She just wanted to go to her house or Spencer's and talk so they could work all of this out. After what happened with Maya and Paige she disliked not knowing exactly where she stood with Spencer. She thought she knew but she would much rather hear it. Which was probably why she decided that she didn't want to wait anymore and screwing up her courage, Emily asked, "We are, aren't we?"

"We are if that's what you want," said Spencer softly, a cautious look on her features.

"I want," affirmed Emily, swallowing hard and her heart beating rapidly.

Before Emily could question Spencer about her feelings, Spencer moved forward, pushing them past the gym and letting the door slam shut behind them. "I'm ecstatic we feel the same," she breathed, her lips centimeters from Emily's, and when Spencer kissed her she could feel the smile on both of their faces. Emily sighed, tangling her fingers in Spencer's hair, grinning when they separated.

There was more that they had to talk about, Emily knew that, but she couldn't help being hopeful about the future. Maya was the last person she genuinely believed wanted her in a romantic way and that ended with her being sent to juvie camp and eventually not taking Emily's calls anymore. She didn't do much better with Paige but Spencer was different. Spencer wanted to go out with her, she just said as much, and even though they hadn't discussed it Emily couldn't see Spencer hiding this from her family. All of this made Emily entirely optimistic and cheerful as they walked towards the parking lot and their cars.


"You're pacing," Spencer noted, she was perched on Emily's bed and watching her with keen eyes.

"What?" said Emily as she turned to face Spencer. They ended up at her house, her mother wasn't home from work, and Emily purposefully left the door to her room open so she could hear when she arrived. There was a lot to talk about and Emily wanted to talk but she couldn't stop obsessing over the text message from A, worrying what it meant for them. Apparently that worry had resulted in unconscious pacing that she didn't notice until Spencer pointed it out. "Sorry," she said sheepishly.

"Come here," said Spencer, extending her arms to Emily and smiling when Emily took her hands. Pulling Emily towards her until they were both sitting on the bed, she wore a concerned expression. "What's the matter? Is it about us?"

"No!" said Emily quickly, only to frown as she realized that, yes, it was about them. Spencer was looking at her steadily, quiet and encouraging, and Emily retrieved her cell phone, handing it to her. "I got this after you left me at Chem class."

After reading the text, Spencer handed the phone to Emily and said dryly, "At least she didn't call me Miss Muffet and talk about my tuffet." When Emily didn't laugh or even crack a smile, she scooted forward. "Em, it's going to be all right. A's just trying to spook us."

"Then it's working," said Emily, thoroughly exasperated. "This is a threat, Spencer!" Emily exclaimed, waving her phone about, almost like it was a weapon and Spencer leaned back, barely escaping accidentally getting hit. "Do you remember what A did to Hanna?"

"This isn't the same," Spencer reassured, gently easing the iron grip that Emily had on her phone and placing it on the nearby nightstand. "The only reason that A went after Hanna was because they thought she saw them. This is just A trying to control us by knowing our secrets exactly like Ali did but that doesn't even matter because I don't want to keep us a secret. Do you?"

"Of course not," said Emily, still frustrated and worried.

"Then what does A have?" reasoned Spencer. "If we tell our parents we're together then they don't have any secret to lord over us anymore. Anyway," she muttered, tossing a disgusted look at the phone as if directed at the person who sent the text. "Making us miserable is A's little hobby and I don't feel inclined to indulge them any further." She turned back to Emily and smiled. "Especially when I rather be busy being happy with you."

She didn't know how Spencer had managed it but Emily was already feeling better about everything. Shaking her head and smiling sweetly, she looked at Spencer and said, "Sometimes it's eerie how much sense you make."

"Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end," said Spencer, grinning and moving to capture Emily's lips in a slow kiss.

"Is that Sun Tzu again?" Emily asked in between kisses, shivering as Spencer's hands slipped under her shirt, resting on the small of her back and tracing a light pattern over her skin.

"Mr. Spock," Spencer drawled, sounding extraordinarily pleased with herself.

"You really are scary," laughed Emily as she tugged Spencer closer, moving in for another kiss.

"I'm not scary," said Spencer in something of a pout, adjusting herself so she hovered over Emily, halfway sitting in her lap.

"Yes, you are," Emily smiled fondly as she placed her hands on Spencer's hips. She soon urged Spencer to sit down, relishing in the warmth of Spencer's body pressing against her own. Still smiling, Emily murmured, "But I like that about you."

Spencer responded by kissing Emily fervently, shifting on top of her lap as her tongue sought gentle entrance. Emily welcomed her, opening her mouth, and sighing when the kiss deepened. Kissing Spencer was a unique and wonderful experience, unlike anyone else, even Maya. The way that Spencer kissed was so very passionate and detailed, exploring every inch of Emily and taking her in. There was a loving devotion and care in it, a certain tenderness and dedication, learning everything that excited and satisfied Emily. Something she definitely felt as Spencer pulled away, sucking on Emily's bottom lip and smiling softly as Emily panted lightly.

"I'm glad you like me," Spencer said in a whisper, resting her head on Emily's shoulder as she spoke. "Thrilled, even."

"Ecstatic," offered Emily, recalling Spencer's response to the question of them dating.

"Definitely ecstatic," said Spencer humorously, kissing Emily's neck, and Emily smiled as she felt Spencer nuzzling closer.

Wrapping her arms around Spencer, holding her close enough that she could feel their breathing moving in sync, Emily said, "When did you know you liked me?" She paused only to add a bit anxiously for clarification, "In a kissing way." Emily studied Spencer out of the corner of her eye and she saw the skin around her neck redden, a signal of embarrassment that Emily hadn't noticed before all of this that now filled her with a wave of affection for Spencer. "You don't have to tell me if-"

"No," said Spencer quickly, lifting her head and looking at Emily with a serious gaze. She looked away for a moment only to face Emily with a determined expression as she reached out to cup Emily's face in her hands, her fingers faintly caressing her skin. "I want to." Her face screwed up into a look of utter distaste and she said, "I suppose it started when I found out about you and Paige. Despite the fact you told us it was over, I started watching you when Paige would appear, and I'd see you get depressed and I hated it. I got so angry at you for caring about Paige and one day Toby asked me about it and everything just came out." Spencer chuckled and had a wry look on her face. "Toby's a really good listener and he asks all the right questions so it didn't take long to grasp that I wasn't actually angry. I was pathetically jealous over a nonexistent relationship just because I wanted you to look at me that way."

"Spence," said Emily in a whisper.

"That's not all of it though," said Spencer, studying the lock of Emily's hair in her hands, that she was forming into a tiny braid. "Ever since we all became friends, I've always felt more protective of you than the others. At first, it was because of Alison and seeing how everything was playing out with the two of you... I hated her for that. I tried to stop her but stopping Ali, well," Spencer snorted and continued to braid Emily's hair. "That failed spectacularly. Then you almost moved away and it wasn't the same as when Aria left. It sucked when she left, I was upset, but with you I was always working out these crazy plans to keep you here even if I never said so." The braid now finished, she looked at Emily with a sardonic expression. "I suppose I always liked you and I never realized it." Rolling her eyes, Spencer stared out the window and scoffed, "Which makes this a monumentally stupid confession."

"No it doesn't," said Emily firmly, holding Spencer's face in her hands, and forcing Spencer to look at her. "Nobody has ever said anything like to me before, Spencer. Nobody..." Emily stopped to swallow hard before continuing, "Nobody has ever cared that much about me and I don't think there's anything monumentally stupid about that. I'm so happy you figured out you liked me because I like you too, so much, more than anybody I've ever been with. I mean, I know this is new, like you said, but it just feels right, you know?"

"Yeah," Spencer said with a smile. "I know."

Laughing happily, Emily kissed Spencer, her hands firm on Spencer's hips and pulling her even closer, so there wasn't a breath between them. When they separated, she breathed, "This is so perfect I'm worried." When Spencer frowned, she explained, "I've got pretty bad luck in relationships. None of them have exactly gone well and I don't want that to happen with us."

"I don't have the best track record either, Em," said Spencer wryly, toying with Emily's braid. "It's okay though," she murmured. "I understand what you're saying. What we have is different. At least, it feels different."

"You're right," Emily agreed, beaming at Spencer and hugging her tight. She laughed as they started to rock from side to side, eventually tumbling over so they lay on the bed, opposite one another. Emily reached out, grinning as she adjusted the Sherlock Holmes hat on Spencer's head. "It does feel different. Good different," she added happily. "Fantastic different."

"Splendiferous different," drawled Spencer, chuckling when Emily blinked at this.

Wearing a playful scowl, Emily moved forward and said, "I wish you'd stop using SAT words."

"But they're so big," Spencer teased, only to be silenced by Emily's lips on her own. Their kisses had grown more bold with each passing one and this was no exception. There was no slow build up, no hesitation, it was desire and it was excitement and Spencer slipped her arm underneath Emily, pulling her closer and moaning when Emily's hand cupped her breast. Who knows how much further they would've gone if they didn't hear the slam of the front door closing. They parted with a gasp and remained lying across from each other. Emily started to move away, not wanting her mother to see too much before she got to talk with her but Spencer held onto her, keeping her in place. "Would you go somewhere with me tomorrow?" asked Spencer.

"Yes," said Emily immediately, her eyes lighting up at the prospect of their first official date. Curiosity getting the best of her, she immediately asked, "Where?"

Chuckling and moving in for a brief kiss before sliding off the bed, Spencer replied, "It's a surprise."

Before Emily could pout and prod Spencer for a real answer, her mother poked her head into the room, smiling when she saw both girls. "Spencer," she greeted. "Are you staying for dinner?"

"Not today, Mrs. Fields," said Spencer with a smile. "I should go home. I have to talk to my parents."

"Nothing serious, I hope," said Pam, looking concerned, and it occurred to Emily that it was possible that her mother liked Spencer the best out of all her friends. It probably had to do with her flawless GPA and immaculate manners.

"Just the reverse, I get to tell them something good for once," Spencer replied, darting a playful look at Emily who blushed. She reached for Emily's hand, squeezing it gently and ducking her head close as she murmured, "I'll let you know how it goes."

"Okay," said Emily softly, still blushing, and nodding her head.

Spencer offered a brilliant smile, standing up in a smooth motion, and giving Pam a polite nod. "Thanks again, Mrs. Fields," she said and as she walked behind Pam, well out of her line of vision, she winked at Emily then walked down the stairs.

"Bye Spence," Emily called, unable to help herself, just wanting to say something as the other girl left.

"Goodbye, my dear Emily!" Spencer responded airily.

Hearing the laughter in Spencer's voice, Emily grinned and flopped onto her back. There was silence between Emily and Pam until Emily looked at her mother who had a small frown on her face. As if trying to understand a puzzle that was suddenly put in front of her. Not yet ready to tell her mother about her newfound relationship with Spencer, she pushed herself up on her elbow and asked, "What are we having for dinner?"

Snapping out of her musing, Pam lifted an eyebrow and said, "You don't have any suggestions?"

"Do we have any chorizo left over?" questioned Emily.

"Hm," Pam gave noncommittal murmur and studied her daughter humorously. "If we do I suppose you'll want it with scrambled eggs?"

"Please," said Emily, looking at her mother hopefully, suddenly really wanting to have one of her favorite childhood meals.

"I think I can arrange that," said Pam, smiling at Emily and walking towards the kitchen.

An hour and a half later, Emily was in the middle of finishing her math homework when her cell phone buzzed and she reached for it, her heart racing. An immediate smile formed on her features when she saw Spencer's name along with her message.

Still out at dinner. I told them and they were typically blase. I think they're happiest that you never dated Melissa. Now my dad wants me to volunteer at a GLBT youth center he heard about because it will look good on applications.

More than a bit stunned at the total lack of reaction, Emily texted back quickly: They really didn't care?

Just a few moments later, Spencer responded with: My mother, en quote, "She's an attractive girl. You clearly have decent taste in women." Pretty sure they don't care, Em. Then again, I didn't expect them to.

Once she got past her stunned feeling, she started to feel bad for Spencer, thinking that her family's attitude was another symptom of their overall tendency to ignore her, and Emily didn't know how to reply. Then she got another text from Spencer, telling Emily she had to go back to the dinner and play the high and low game, which to this day Emily still didn't understand, and saying she couldn't wait for tomorrow. She still refused to tell Emily where they were going but said it would be something Emily would enjoy.

Replying that she couldn't wait for tomorrow, Emily shut her phone with a sigh. It was true that Spencer had it easier than her in a lot of ways. Certainly she was sure Spencer didn't stress over telling her family she was bisexual and dating Emily, not at all like Emily who was freaking out about telling her mother about Spencer, but she didn't think that was really a good thing. She worried because she knew her mother cared and maybe her mother was still struggling with her being gay but Emily knew she loved her. That she would always love her, no matter what, and Emily didn't think Spencer knew that. Not from the way she stressed out over the idea of a bad grade and the possibility of not making it onto the team when she tried out for sports.

Emily wondered if Spencer had ever known for certain that someone loved her, no matter what happened. Their relationship was barely in its infancy but some part of Emily wanted to be that person for Spencer. To be the one she didn't get any pressure from, that she could simply be herself with, and not worry about having to living up to some impossibly high standard.


On Saturday, Spencer arrived promptly at noon wearing a black and white checkered dress, complete with frills at the bottom, and a collar that was buttoned at the top. Emily had to admit that the dress looked great on her but what caused her to grin the moment she saw Spencer was the fact she also had on a red hoodie and was carrying a picnic basket. More and more, she thought that Spencer and her eclectic wardrobe often followed a strange unconscious pattern. Like she wore clothing to fit whatever was going on for the day, which was probably why she looked like a flapper from the 1920s when they read the Great Gatsby.

Unable to help herself, Emily immediately darted forward, pulling the hood up and placing it on Spencer's head. Her grin growing wider, Emily remarked, "Now you really look the part." Spencer appeared baffled, apparently unaware of her coordinated clothing choice, but before she could ask Emily about it, Emily turned around and called into the house, "Mom! I'm going!"

"Have fun!" Pam responded and with that, Emily shut the door, and hooked her arm with Spencer's.

"So," said Emily playfully as they walked to Spencer's car. "Where are we going on a picnic?"

"The park, if that's all right with you," said Spencer, shifting the basket on her arm and opening Emily's car door for her. When Emily climbed inside, she put the basket on the back seat. Emily wanted to ask Spencer why she even took it out of the car in the first place but ultimately she decided the image of Spencer holding the basket and wearing the red hoodie was adorable enough she didn't care. So much that she was slightly disappointed when Spencer pulled the hood down when she started the car.

"The park sounds perfect," said Emily with a smile, pushing the memories of Paige and their trip to the park from her mind. This was completely different, wasn't it? Spencer clearly meant for this to be a date, she wasn't hiding anything about it and unlike Paige, she'd already made a concentrated and very public effort to display her affection for Emily. Despite that, she did find it odd to be going on yet another picnic date in the park. She just hoped this one ended better.

After living in Rosewood for most of her life, Emily developed the theory that it only took ten minutes to get anywhere in the town. She wasn't let down when they arrived at the park just before the ten minute mark. Spencer exited the car with ease and before Emily could reach for the door handle, it was opened for her and Spencer was wearing a charming little smile. Returning the smile as she got out of the car, Emily took the picnic basket from Spencer, holding it in one hand and Spencer's right hand in the other.

They wandered through the park until they found the perfect spot just past the path through the woods, hidden underneath a tree and next to the small lake. It was isolated enough they shouldn't be bothered but was close enough to civilization that Emily didn't have the smallest A related worry about eating there. Setting the picnic basket down, Emily opened it and found a blanket and she grinned as she looked up at Spencer. "You thought of everything, didn't you?" she said fondly.

"Always be prepared," said Spencer, holding up a can of insect repellant along with a spray created to ward off ants.

"I know that one, it's the Boy Scouts," said Emily, happy she finally recognized one of Spencer's quotes.

"Very good," Spencer drawled, her voice lowering in register, and she dipped down to capture Emily's lips in a slow and sweet kiss. Moments after they parted, she stood up and wore a face of utmost concentration as she started to spray an insect repelling barrier around the area where they were sitting. Emily watched with amusement as she finished laying out the blanket and sat down.

"All done?" asked Emily humorously when Spencer finished her insect killing ritual after three minutes of spraying. Spencer was wiping her hands on a handkerchief she had in the pocket of her hoodie and she frowned at Emily's comment. Laughing at this and tugging at the hem of Spencer's dress, she pulled her down until they were both sitting on the blanket. "I'm sorry," Emily consoled, smiling affectionately and cupping Spencer's face in her hands. "Thank you so much for destroying our insect enemies."

Spencer leaned into Emily's kiss, returning it with interest, and by the time they parted she was smiling from ear to ear and there was a gleam in her eyes. "Ants are a known picnic date ruiner," said Spencer in a matter of fact tone. "I didn't want to risk it."

Laughing and shaking her head, Emily watched with interest as Spencer began to unpack the basket. She produced the glasses, plates, and utensils then a bottle of sparkling white grape juice and several containers filled with food. There were three choices of spreadable cheeses, croissants, grilled chicken, and miniature strawberry shortcakes that were topped with whipped cream.

Ripping apart one of the croissants easily, Spencer covered it in cheese and offered it to Emily. "Try it," she encouraged. "I think you'll like it." Emily blinked at the croissant before opening her mouth and taking a bite. Murmuring her approval, she took the croissant from Spencer, grinning when Spencer wiped a crumb from the corner of her mouth.

"Good," complimented Emily and she held back the urge to lick Spencer's thumb as it moved away. Reaching for the chicken and noticing the combination of curiosity and slight anxiety Spencer showed, something suddenly occurred to Emily. "Spencer," she said carefully. "Did you make this?"

"The chicken and the strawberry shortcake," said Spencer and she frowned as she focused on the croissants. "I still haven't gotten the hang of croissants. I think something about French food hates me. I've yet to make a successful souffle."

"You were trying to make souffles for a picnic," said Emily in disbelief.

"No, not for this, just in general," said Spencer. Seeing the obvious question on Emily's face, Spencer continued, "I've done all the additional projects that are allowed at school for extra credit and since I'm not playing field hockey, I've had some spare time on my hands. So I thought I would try and teach myself some more complex dishes. Unfortunately, not all of them worked out. I even tried to recreate your mother's paella and it was disastrous. I think she would've cried if she saw it."

Emily almost asked why Spencer felt the sudden need to teach herself these things but she realized that was just who Spencer was. There was a reason that her room was filled with books on a hundred different subjects and she was trying to learn three languages all at once. Free time wasn't really a concept that Spencer was familiar with and even back in junior high she was always busy with multiple activities and work that she was either placed in by her parents or volunteered for herself.

"Have you spoken to her?" Spencer asked, interrupting Emily's thoughts, and she stared blankly at Spencer who formed a crooked grin at her expression. "About us," she supplied teasingly.

"Not yet," said Emily and she started to feel guilty until she saw Spencer's sympathetic look.

"You don't have to force yourself," said Spencer, scooting closer to Emily and holding her hand. She traced her thumb over the pads of Emily's fingers and murmured, "Tell her when you're ready." Spencer looked up at Emily and smiled. "I'm not going anywhere."

"Yeah," Emily breathed, a swell of happiness consuming her as she acknowledged this. It wasn't like with Maya or Paige, the insistence to come out then the distance until she did and then the need to keep silent. Spencer wanted her to tell her mother about them but she wouldn't break up with her over it or pressure her about it. She would still be there, like she had always been. "Thanks," she said quietly, peering up at Spencer. "For understanding."

"No problem," Spencer replied, offering Emily a piece of chicken.

Accepting the food, Emily opened her mouth and chewed as she moved closer to Spencer, leaning against her as Spencer wrapped an arm around her waist. They were comfortably resting against the tree and Spencer was reaching for another piece of chicken when a series of excited barks sounded and they were confronted with the furry form of a beagle wanting to eat the chicken in Spencer's hand. Its owner was chasing after it, apologizing as they ran up, but Spencer didn't seem the least worried. Gently pushing the dog off her lap and petting its head as she asked the owner if she could give it some chicken. Getting permission, Spencer fed the dog and rubbed behind its ears, smiling up at the young man who apologized profusely and showed the leash with the collar still attached. After a few moments of working together, Spencer holding the dog who was named Daisy, while her owner, Jack, put the collar back on, the dog was on her way. Only after enjoying some more chicken and some pets from Spencer and Emily.

"From the ages of five to nine, I asked for a dog every time my birthday arrived," said Spencer ruefully. "Christmas too. And every year my parents explained with a little more force that dogs weren't suitable for our house because they made a mess and we didn't have time to take care of it. Disappointed but not defeated, I started to ask for a cat and I was given the same reasons. So then I moved onto things like hamsters and guinea pigs and was told they smelled and bit you. Birds were too loud and fish..." Spencer's words faded and she tilted her head to one side as she considered it. "I never asked for any fish. They're boring pets, don't you think? You can't even play with them. But," she said proudly, holding up an index finger. "I did start riding lessons when I was ten because my father thought it would be a good in at the club to have an equestrian daughter. However, my pleas for a pony were soundly ignored."

"We used to have a fat tabby cat called Garfield," revealed Emily, resting her head on Spencer's shoulder as she reached for her hand. Running her fingertips over Spencer's palm, she said, "He was my mom's and she adored him. My dad started to get allergies because of him but my mom refused to get rid of him. After that, it was like Garfield knew my dad was miserable around him. He'd always sleep on his pillow on the bed and would follow him around the house, making these pathetic howls to get my dad to pet him and when my dad ignored him my mom would call him mean. I was only eight but I totally thought that cat was an evil genius to have my mom always on his side. She was really sad when he died and we never got another pet to replace him."

"In the back of my head, ever since I was young, I've wanted to become a vet," said Spencer and when Emily looked at her with surprise, she chuckled. "I know, right? It doesn't suit me does it? That's why I've kept that particular morsel a closely guarded secret. Not even Ali knew about that one and lord help me if my parents ever found out I long for such a lowly occupation."

"What's lowly about being a vet?" demanded Emily, irrationally angry at Spencer's parents theoretically not approving of her job.

Shrugging her shoulders now that Emily wasn't resting on them anymore, Spencer looked at the lake and said, "They're already disappointed about my having zero interest in the law. Watching my parents though, seeing how they are with the partners at their law firms and their clients, I don't want that. Logically, I know they help people, my mother has certainly helped me enough lately on that end but it doesn't feel like that most of the time. It seems more about impressing people than helping them and I rather not continue that trend as an adult since I've had more than enough of that involving my own family."

"Then be a vet if that's what you want," Emily insisted and Spencer turned to her, a wry smile tugging on her lips.

"That's the thing, Em," said Spencer kindly, pushing a lock of hair behind her ear. "I don't know if it's what I really want or if it's just something stuck in the part of my brain that's still five years old, fascinated with the idea of it because my parents never let me have any pets. Besides, there's nothing wrong with settling for treating humans and trying for med school. Doing that will keep my parents pacified over the lack of lawyering."

"I don't think it's right," said Emily stubbornly, trying to figure out some way to get Spencer to reconsider. There was something horribly wrong about the idea of Spencer completely dismissing a perfectly valid career choice just to make her family happy.

"You're sweet," Spencer chuckled, caressing Emily's cheek, and kissing her tenderly. It was just a soft touch of their lips, a quiet affirmation of feeling and when she pulled back, Spencer rested her forehead against Emily's. "Thank you for caring."

Her mind still working a mile a minute, Emily burst out, "You should volunteer!"

"I do," said Spencer slowly, frowning at Emily and looking slightly puzzled. "I help organize those food drives for the homeless shelter and there's the work I do with the children's hospital... and now my dad wants me to do that gay and lesbian youth center thing."

"No, I mean, yes, you do volunteer but you should volunteer at the Humane Society," said Emily quickly. Spencer gave her an affectionate but almost frustrated look and Emily added, "I don't think you should dismiss becoming a vet until you know for sure it's a whim. What if you really like it and you're good at it? Of course," Emily remarked sardonically, "you're good at almost everything."

"Almost everything?" echoed Spencer with a drawl, raising an eyebrow. "Now that sounds like a challenge. What am I bad at?"

"Well," said Emily cautiously, feigning deep thought as she tapped her chin with her finger while Spencer studied her with an amused expression. "I wouldn't say you were bad necessarily but you could use more practice when it comes to kissing."

"Oh really?" Spencer drew out, forming a wicked grin and clutching Emily's shirt in her hand, pulling her forward.

"Really," said Emily solemnly as she sat on Spencer's lap, trying to fight a grin as Spencer put her hands on Emily's hips and tugged her closer. "You need lots and lots of practice."

"Lots and lots," Spencer echoed again, appearing supremely thoughtful and sliding her hands underneath Emily's shirt to rest on the small of her back. "If I need that much help I should probably start right away, shouldn't I?"

"Probably," said Emily breathlessly and it felt like her body was humming in anticipation.

Just when Emily was starting to get irritated and considered making a move herself, Spencer stretched up and kissed her slow and sweet. Emily groaned and opened her mouth, encouraging Spencer and as they continued to kiss, she was quite proud of her little joke because the result was simply fantastic. Every time she kissed Spencer it was better than the time before and Emily was sure she could kiss Spencer forever and never grow tired of it. Soon their kisses became more frantic and involved, sucking on each other's tongues and Emily was consumed with a strange impulse, wanting to taste and touch more of Spencer than was appropriate in a public venue. Which was why with great difficulty, she pulled away and breathing heavily, she leaned against Spencer.

"That was..." Emily's voice faded as she was unable to find the appropriate words.

"Yeah," Spencer agreed, knowing exactly what Emily meant. She chuckled as she kissed Emily's cheek and murmured in her ear, her voice low and raspy but filled with good humor, "You owe me a new pair of Nina Ricci panties."

"Spencer!" shouted Emily, turning beet red and hitting Spencer on the shoulder when she started laughing.

Despite herself, Emily was charmed by the boisterous sound of Spencer's laughter and the wide smile on her features. Although it didn't do anything to lessen her embarrassment or the residual effect of being turned on by Spencer admitting Emily made her wet. She almost asked if she meant it but looking at Spencer underneath her eyelashes, she could see it was the truth from the lidded set of Spencer's eyes and the look of desire that still resided there.

"I'm sorry," said Spencer apologetically, pulling a pouting Emily closer and kissing her other cheek, "but they were expensive."

Rolling her eyes and huffing, Emily unbuttoned and buttoned the collar to Spencer's dress, studying it as she said, "How expensive?"

"145 dollars," Spencer said and Emily's eyes bugged out.

"Why do your panties cost that much?" asked Emily with disbelief. "Are they gold plated?"

"They're not a chastity belt," Spencer chuckled and she shrugged. "I don't know how they decide on price. Is it the design? Or the lace? Or the fact they're immensely pretty, especially when I have them on? I just know I like them and now they're ruined."

Scoffing at this, Emily retorted, "Buy some Oxiclean."

"Harsh," accused Spencer mournfully, pressing a hand over her heart. "You're merciless. It wounds my delicate sensibilities and here I was, considering giving them to you as a trophy so you might keep this day forever in your heart."

"You're such a perv," Emily laughed, shaking her head and wearing a fond expression.

"It's a deep and dark secret of mine," said Spencer nonchalantly. "Don't tell Aria. She'll back out of the sleepover next week." There was the sound of distant barks and Spencer shifted to look around Emily and she frowned as she said, "It looks like Daisy slipped her collar again. Jack should really invest in a good harness for her."

Recalling the previous line of discussion, Emily questioned seriously, "Will you think about volunteering at the Humane Society?"

"No," said Spencer. Emily started to protest but Spencer continued, "There's nothing to think about. I'll do it."

"Oh," Emily murmured as a bright smile lit her features. "Good."

"Very good," drawled Spencer, putting her hands on Emily's hips and pulling her closer. "So good I deserve a kiss."

"I don't kiss panty ruiners," remarked Emily, recalling Spencer's earlier comment about ants.

"This is blatant discrimination!" exclaimed Spencer, faking outrage. "And entirely unfair as you're responsible for me ruining them."

"I'm not a fair person," said Emily playfully and she kept her up her uncaring facade until Spencer gave her exaggerated puppy dog eyes and she burst into laughter. "Aww," she murmured, running the back of her fingers over Spencer's cheek. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry enough I get a kiss?" pursued Spencer with interest.

"I'll always be that sorry," Emily replied, smiling and finally kissing Spencer, reminding herself as she did they were in public.

She thought that Spencer must be doing the same because these kisses were soft and sweet and while there was passion it was hiding just underneath surface, not ready to boil over like earlier. Emily sighed happily as they continued to kiss, pleased to be on a wonderful first date, and relieved at their natural progression from friends to girlfriends. Assured of her new place in Spencer's life.


By the time the sleepover arrived, Emily attempted to tell her mother about dating Spencer at least thirteen times and each time she just couldn't do it. Anxiety and fear took over and the words just wouldn't leave her mouth. She had a small sense of Spencer's concern over it as she would ask every now and again if she had spoken to Pam yet. Each time Emily said no and she began to explain why, Spencer would smile and hug or kiss and reassure and that was that. It still didn't stop Emily from feeling guilty.

Hanna's mother was going out of town for bank business and it coincided with Spencer's parents taking yet another day trip with Melissa in hopes of raising her spirits about Ian's death and her upcoming due date. The messages from A had been taking a more threatening turn in the past month and Hanna didn't want to be in her house alone. That was when Aria suggested a sleepover and they all agreed on Spencer's house being the location. Ever since junior high, her house had become their default hang out, mostly thanks to the absence of parental supervision and this was no exception.

"Why did I think things would magically change when Ezra got the job at Hollis?" said Aria to no one in particular. They were sitting around the couch in the living room, Spencer was lounging on it with her feet in Emily's lap. Aria and Hanna were seated on nearby chairs and Aria was stirring a spoon in her bowl of chocolate ice cream discontentedly. "I think it might be worse because now he's working with that woman and here's me, the easily forgotten and immature high school girlfriend."

"Illegal too," offered Hanna, pointing her spoon at Aria. "You're still not seventeen."

"She might be too old for statuary charges to be brought up but he'd definitely get it on corruption of a minor," Spencer remarked and Aria scowled darkly at the both of them. "Wait," she said suddenly, leaning on one elbow. "Have you had sex with him or not?"

"I'm not telling you," Aria said with a defensive expression. "And this isn't cheering me up. Why do you always bring up his age?"

"Because he's old?" said Hanna, obviously considering this the logical answer.

"She broke up with him, Aria," said Emily kindly, absently rubbing Spencer's feet and smiling at her friend. "Guys don't usually chase after girls who dumped them. Especially when they were engaged and she's the one who broke it off. It should be alright."

"I don't trust her," grumped Aria, stabbing her ice cream with her spoon and looking upset. "She has a sneaky look about her."

"You should find some other way to mark your territory," suggested Spencer lazily. "You really have to since you can't openly go up to her and say the man is mine. I think a good sprinkling of your most girlish belongings in his office should let her know he's taken."

"Spencer," said Aria, her eyes lighting up, and she wore a wide smile. "That's a fantastic idea."

"You're welcome," Spencer said and she raised an eyebrow as she poked Emily with her foot, grinning when Emily frowned at her. "See that? Aria appreciates me."

"She just doesn't know enough of your bad habits," teased Emily, laughing when Spencer formed a severe pout.

"I don't have bad habits, I have charming idiosyncrasies," Spencer declared.

"SAT words," groaned Emily, shaking Spencer's feet and tickling the bottom of one, causing Spencer to squirm as she tried to bat Emily's hands away from them while fighting to contain her laughter. Emily had discovered just two nights ago how ticklish Spencer was in a few key places and ever since she delighted in the newfound power she had obtained with this knowledge.

"Stop," pleaded Spencer breathlessly, her laughter coming in gasps. In a strange attempt to fight Emily off, she was curled into herself and she reached out to Hanna who watched her with an amused gaze. "Hanna," she called. "Help me."

"No way. I'm giving into the tide of impending cuteness," said Hanna with dry humor. "There's no use fighting it."

"Traitor," Spencer gasped and she managed to flop over on her stomach and hide her feet underneath a couch cushion where they were safely away from Emily's persistent hands. "See if I tell you anything the next time you try to interrogate me about my love life."

"How is that going, by the way?" asked Hanna, symbolically moving to sit at the edge of her seat. Spencer clearly having reminded her about her interest in their romance.

"Hanna," said Aria lightly, a playful smirk emerging on her lips. "I don't think you can gossip about them when they're both here."

"I don't want to gossip! I just want juicy details," said Hanna huffily. "Like, Spencer," she said, focusing on her friend. "How's it going in girls town? Are you enjoying the land of lady loving?"

In response to this, Spencer hid her face in a pillow and they could vaguely hear the sound of her boisterous laughter, but her shoulders were clearly shaking from the force of it. Emily chuckled and said, "I think Aria is right, Hanna. It's kind of weird for us to talk about how our dating is going when we're both here."

"Why?" Hanna blinked. "It's not going bad, is it?"

"No," said Emily with a laugh. "I'm very happy with Spencer."

"Good," said Hanna, looking supremely satisfied, folding her arms over her chest. "I'd have to beat her up if you said no."

"You hear this?" said Spencer, pulling her face away from the pillow, and frowning deeply. "You see how everyone treats me? I'm an exceedingly tragic figure. My own bosom companions have turned away from me in the face of Emily favoritism thanks to our dating."

"Emily isn't scary," said Hanna plainly and Spencer looked thoroughly offended.

"I'm not scary!" Spencer objected and Emily laughed, pulling a grumpy Spencer forward by the belt loops of her jeans.

Putting her hands on either side of Spencer's head, Emily leaned down and murmured against her lips, "Remember what I said before? I like that you're scary." Spencer scoffed but whatever she was going to say was silenced by Emily's kiss. It was brief and gentle, fully aware of their audience, but when it was over Spencer wore a shy smile that made Emily's heart beat faster.

"Yay!" Hanna clapped her hands in delight, ignoring the exasperated couple. "I'm totally taking a picture."

"They're going to hate you, seriously," said Aria, laughing at Hanna who looked perplexed as she snapped a photo with her phone.

Several hours later, Aria and Hanna were asleep in the spare bedroom and Spencer was busy raiding the fridge with Emily. She was sitting on one of the stools at the kitchen counter, instructing Emily on what to look for. "We should have Greek yogurt," said Spencer. "I'm almost convinced Melissa has an addiction to it, she eats it so much. The best is the kind with honey and then maybe peach."

"Greek yogurt, check," said Emily, holding up two containers. "Is that it?"

"Oranges," said Spencer suddenly. "Sticky but delicious. I know we have some."

Shaking her head and going through the fruit drawer, Emily produced an orange. Closing the refrigerator door, she remarked, "I don't know how you can eat so much and not gain any weight."

"I have a fast metabolism," said Spencer easily, accepting the yogurt and orange from Emily, and watching as she found some spoons for them. "Between that, sports, and a hundred other parental ordered activities I never really keep any weight on." Taking the spoon from Emily, she opened the Greek yogurt with honey, and said almost mournfully, "I'm always hungry."

"You do too much," said Emily, a tinge of worry showing in her voice. "Sometimes I think you're going to collapse."

"The magic of Red Bull and coffee," said Spencer wryly, grinning happily as she tasted the yogurt. When she saw the serious expression remain on Emily's face, she sighed and reached for her hand. "It's all right, Em. I'm used to it. This is how it's always been with me. I don't know if I could even relax enough to have down time, I think it might result in me developing hives to tell the truth." She scooped another helping of yogurt up with her spoon and went on, "But I'm done with field hockey. I just can't deal anymore… not with everything that happened with Ian. It's just too creepy, you know?" When Emily nodded, Spencer smiled and said, "I was thinking about trying out for lacrosse though. I've gotten some pointers from Mike and he said I have talent."

"If he says it, then I'm sure it's true," said Emily, smiling and feeding Spencer a spoonful of her peach yogurt, enjoying the look of pleasure on Spencer's face. Slowly pulling the spoon away, Emily wiped at the corners of Spencer's mouth despite it being totally unnecessary, and relished the look of soft affection Spencer gave her at this gesture. "But I thought I was supposed to be the jock in this relationship," she teased. "What am I going to do with you stealing my position?"

"Maybe you can be the brain and do the thinking for me," said Spencer playfully, looking up at Emily when she stood up and maneuvered herself in between Spencer's legs. She pulled Emily forward by her thin t-shirt, resting her hands on her hips and smiling at her. "I'm pretty sure I'd be delighted if that it happened every once in awhile," she confessed.

"What if I plan our dates for the next month," Emily suggested in a husky tone, ducking her head to leave their lips a breath apart, shivering at the feel of Spencer's hands on her skin. They were cool compared to the warmth in the air and the sensation put her on edge but in a good way. Desire was thrumming through her body and finally, she surrendered to it and kissed Spencer.

There was a tenderness and a hunger to this kiss, an urgency present now that they were alone, and Spencer groaned, lacing her fingers into Emily's hair and Emily stepped forward. Her hands hot on Spencer's inner thighs, aware of Spencer leaning back into the counter and the scratch of the stool legs against the floor as they moved closer. Emily didn't care about that though. The only thing she cared about was the feel of Spencer's skin, cool and comforting under her hands, smooth against her palm as she ran it up Spencer's abdomen. When she held Spencer's bare breast in her hand, Emily sighed into their kiss, her thumb brushing lightly over the nipple and smiling as it pebbled under her touch, growing stiff. She had only imagined things like this before and it was better than she could have ever thought, especially with Spencer moving ardently against her, encouraging her onward.

They were so involved with each other that they didn't hear the front door open and close. Only realizing they weren't alone when there was a thump against the counter and heard Melissa's sardonic observation, "Apparently she wasn't saying it to get attention."

At the sound of Melissa's voice, Emily's hand shot away from Spencer's breast as if it was on fire, and she quickly ended the kiss, trying to fight the embarrassment as she wondered why they had such bad luck. "Melissa," Veronica said her name in weary tones. As Emily and Spencer were now separated, she looked at her youngest daughter and held up a small plastic container. "I brought you back some roast squab since I know how you enjoy it, Spencer."

"Thank you," said Spencer breathlessly, still trying to recover from the kiss.

"I'm going to bed," Peter said this to the room more than anyone else, wandering upstairs as he removed his jacket.

"I'll be right up," called Veronica and she turned to Melissa who was going through the fridge and removing four containers of Greek yogurt. "Really, Melissa," she sighed. "Just because you're pregnant it doesn't mean you should eat absolutely all of the time."

"It's for tomorrow," said Melissa peevishly. "I don't have any in the loft."

With that, Melissa walked out of the house and back to the loft, and Veronica turned to Spencer and Emily. "Good night, girls," said Veronica. "Try to not stay up too late. Although, I'm sure that I'll see you in the morning, Emily."

"Yeah," said Emily faintly, watching in shock as Veronica walked away. As soon as they were alone, Emily turned to Spencer who had a droll look on her features. A silent sort of I told you but without the smug bragging that was normally behind such a sentiment. "You told me that they didn't care but..." Emily trailed off, looking first at the front door then the stairs, as if tracking the retreat of Spencer's family. "It's like they didn't even notice us making out." Looking back at Spencer, she frowned. "That can't be normal."

"It's my family," said Spencer, curling a lock of Emily's hair around her finger. "So I can safely say that yes, it isn't normal."

"They don't seem to hate me," said Emily pensively, staring up the stairs as if trying to figure out what Spencer's parents were saying about them, if they were indeed saying anything at all.

Snorting at this, Spencer replied, "They think you're too good for me. Melissa made a point of saying you were too nice and I would crush your spirit. My father was thoroughly impressed with your habit of breaking time records on the swim team and my mother said that Melissa was right, you were a terribly sweet girl. I'm not aware of where she stands on the me crushing your spirit theory though."

"You're too skinny to crush anything, least of all me," Emily joked, wanting to dismiss the hurtful words before Spencer could think on them for too long. Spencer laughed and rested her head on Emily's shoulder, sighing when Emily held her close for a hug. After a few moments of silence, Emily asked with real curiosity and honest confusion, "What's a roast squab?"

"Basically, a baby pigeon," said Spencer, chuckling at the look of distaste Emily wore when she faced her. "It's really good," Spencer insisted, putting her arms around Emily's shoulders and laughing as Emily continued to look disgusted. "You need to try and eat new kinds of food. It's healthy to have some variety in your diet."

"A pigeon isn't healthy, they're flying rats," said Emily, echoing her father's opinion from one of their trips to New York City.

"Does that mean you won't try any of my roast squab?" asked Spencer, wearing a mournful expression, her voice low and sexy as her hands slipped under Emily's shirt and caressed her back.

"How did you manage to make that sound dirty," Emily wondered out loud.

"It's a gift," said Spencer proudly, preening as she moved forward for a kiss and smiling when Emily relaxed enough to return it.


An hour later, they were in Spencer's room, tucked underneath the covers of her bed with Emily resting in the warm circle of Spencer's arms. She couldn't imagine doing this at her own house, especially if her mother knew she was dating Spencer. If she knew that Emily doubted Spencer would be allowed near her room without a look of suspicion and her mother hovering over them. But here they were, in Spencer's house, sleeping in Spencer's bed, and Spencer's parents knew they were dating and it didn't bother them one little bit.

It was amazing in the most frightening way and Emily couldn't get over it.

"They really don't care," said Emily into the darkness, her head laying comfortably against Spencer's chest.

"Who doesn't care? The establishment? The Republican party?" asked Spencer humorously.

"Your parents," Emily said with a scowl, poking Spencer in the stomach.

"Ah," said Spencer wisely. "All of the above then." She was silent for a moment then she continued, her voice soft and serious as she said, "I told you that it wasn't a big deal with them. Didn't you believe me?"

"Of course I did but I didn't expect them to be so whatever about it," Emily tried to explain. "It was like they didn't even notice I was making out with their daughter in their kitchen. And Melissa had to see I was... well, you know." Emily blushed, unable to somehow talk about her earlier activities without becoming horribly embarrassed. Even if it was with the person she was doing them with.

"Feeling me up?" offered Spencer dryly, chuckling when Emily whapped her stomach lightly. "You're so abusive," Spencer complained good naturedly. "You'll leave me black and blue and I have a delicate complexion that's not far from an albino. Bruising will show."

Moving onto her side, Emily slid her hands underneath Spencer's shirt, pushing it up just slightly and shoving the covers aside. The room was dimly lit from a distant street lamp and it illuminated the room enough for them to see one another. "I'm sorry," Emily murmured, looking thoughtfully at Spencer's skin, considering the silken texture and the pale hue, realizing that joke or not, Spencer was probably right. She pressed a kiss onto Spencer's stomach, lifting her lips up to murmur, "Should I kiss it and make it better?"

"I thought you were already doing that," Spencer's tone was rough and laced with desire, her fingers running through Emily's hair.

"But should I keep doing it?" asked Emily playfully.

Instead of replying, Spencer pulled Emily to her in a hard and fast movement, kissing her deeply. Emily grinned against Spencer's lips, her hands once again finding Spencer's breasts under the material of her t-shirt, enjoying the weight of them in her hands. Moving over Spencer, her left leg nestled firmly in between Spencer's, she savored the heat of Spencer's body against her own. Overcome by an all consuming need to be closer to Spencer, there was a desperation and urgency to her kisses, and Spencer responded in turn. Exploring every inch of Emily's mouth and groaning when Emily sucked on her tongue. There was a hunger in this moment that Emily had never experienced before and she knew if this went on for much longer she would want more. She would want things that weren't at all appropriate with Spencer's parents sleeping just down the hall and with a gasp, she pulled away from Spencer.

"We can't," said Emily, her breath hitching as Spencer kissed the line of her neck. "Your parents..."

"Are asleep," Spencer reminded, her hands warm and eager on Emily's skin, pulling her closer and kissing the corner of her mouth.

"Spence," Emily chastised, wearing an earnest expression. "It's too weird. What if we woke them up?"

Snorting at this, a quirky grin playing on her lips, as if imagining her parents expressions, Spencer looked out the window. After a moment, she focused back on Emily and asked, "Did you ever have sex with Ben?"

"No," said Emily and her eyes went a little wide, wondering where this was coming from. "I could barely kiss him sometimes. I tried to want him, he was such a nice guy in the beginning, but no matter what it would always feel wrong when we were together. Sometimes I would pretend he was Ali but eventually I stopped because it hurt too much."

"Maya?" asked Spencer and she was looking out the window again.

"We never had a chance," said Emily with a frown. "Spencer," she said, concern filling her voice. "What is this about?"

"What about your last night together," Spencer said, focusing back on Emily, her expression disturbingly calm. "Before she was exiled to the land of acorns and bears at wilderness juvie camp."

"It was your room," said Emily and when Spencer continued to stare at her blankly, Emily grew a little exasperated. "How could we have sex in your bed with you guys all downstairs? That's kind of rude, don't you think? Doing it in someone else's bed."

Finally, the emptiness left Spencer's face, and a slow smile spread across her features. "Em," drawled Spencer affectionately, cupping Emily's cheek with one hand and chuckling softly. "You're so fucking precious."

"What? It would be rude," insisted Emily, not understanding why Spencer found this funny.

"Would it be rude to do it in my bed with me in it with you?" asked Spencer teasingly.

"Your parents are down the hall," reminded Emily and she paused, staring at Spencer, suddenly feeling anxious. "Do you really..." She couldn't finish the sentence, swallowing hard and trying not to feel stupid as she continued, "Because-"

"No," Spencer interrupted gently, holding Emily's face in her hands. "It's too soon and more than parents, there's Hanna. She'd probably sneak in here and take another picture with her cell phone knowing our luck."

Laughing at this, Emily tucked her face into the crook of Spencer's neck and murmured, "I want to though." Her hand moved over Spencer's abdomen, tracing circles on her skin. "I've never wanted anyone as much as I want you."

"I'm in absolute agreement," said Spencer, kissing the top of Emily's head, and holding her close.

They were silent for a long while then Emily worked up the courage to ask, "Have you ever had sex with anyone?"

Silence and despite the darkness, Emily could see the red creep over the skin of Spencer's neck and face. Then came her voice in a throaty murmur, "There's never been a person I cared enough about to want sex with them. Trust is an issue of mine. I have a hard time giving it and I could never manage to feel entirely comfortable revealing that much of myself to someone." She hooked her thumb underneath Emily's chin so their eyes would meet. There was a subtle worry in Spencer's gaze, an anxiety there, and more than anything Emily wanted it to disappear. "I trust you though and when the time is right for the both of us and Hanna's nowhere in our vicinity and my parents are possibly in another state, I do want to have sex with you."

Emily didn't know what to say to that, overwhelmed at the faith and the feeling Spencer had for her, and she rose up to kiss her. There wasn't any of the previous hunger and urgency in this kiss, it was quiet and gentle, an exploration of emotions and reassurance, a soothing affirmation of their feelings for each other. One that continued well into the night until eventually it was morning and neither of them could find it in themselves to regret their lack of sleep. Not with all they had learned of one another.


No relationship is ever perfect but Emily felt she was pretty close to it with Spencer. They had been dating for two months and every day was a little better than the last as she learned more about Spencer. For the first time since they became friends, Spencer actually spoke about her family problems and the stress over her schoolwork. Then there were all the happy stories she told about volunteering at the Humane Society, confessing that maybe becoming a veterinarian wasn't just the silly dream of her five year old self. After school, they spent almost all of their time together, waiting for one another after swim or lacrosse practice, Emily sometimes arriving early to watch Spencer in her new role as the right attack wing and feeling inordinately proud when she watched her score.

The threats from A concerning her romance with Spencer had all but disappeared and Emily relaxed on the surface but somewhere, in the back of her mind, she was waiting for something to happen. She was too happy, everything was too good, so of course something had to ruin it. Having happy and healthy relationships wasn't something that she was used to and it almost put her on edge. Though she couldn't say everything was wonderful because there was the situation with her mother.

Emily had lost count of the times she attempted to tell her mother about Spencer but whenever she would try there was a flash of Maya and she had images of Spencer suffering a similar fate and she just couldn't bear it. Over and over, Spencer would reassure her that it wouldn't happen, reminding Emily about the progress she had made with her mother, and how she seemed more open and accepting about her sexuality and Emily agreed, Spencer was right. The problem was, Spencer being right didn't stop the irrational fear from consuming her and more than that, sad as it was, Emily didn't know if she could take losing Spencer.

All of her romances were missing something. She loved Alison, deeply and truly, but Alison never felt the same way, she just used Emily's feelings against her. Then there was Ben, she was with him for longer than anyone else, but try as she might she never could feel anything more for him than friendship. He was a means to an end. Maya she cared for but they never had the chance to get close, not before her mother interfered, and she ended things with Paige just as she was starting to feel something for her other than sympathy and frustration. Spencer was different though. They had been friends for years and she knew all of Spencer's quirks and faults and she already loved her. Once they started dating, all of those things amplified. They became so much closer and Emily was telling the truth when she said that she never felt for anyone the way she felt about Spencer.

She wasn't in love with Spencer Hastings yet but Emily knew she didn't have long to go and that terrified her.

Losing people was par for the course, Emily was used to that, but losing someone she loved? Was in love with? That was brand new and altogether frightening but Emily couldn't stop caring for Spencer. She didn't want to, she just wished she had some full proof way of knowing her mother would take the news well. Part of her even considered asking that creepy psychic from homecoming.

Sometimes she wondered if Spencer was in love with her. There were moments when Emily thought she was. Just from the way her eyes would light up when Spencer would see her and the happiness in her smile. She had seen Spencer happy before and Emily didn't want to get a big head or assume but somehow, it was more in those instances. And Spencer was always so very good to her, considerate and kind, and there was her ever present protective streak. Particularly when it came to Paige.

As good as Spencer was to her Emily could tell she was becoming frustrated. It had gotten to the point where just last week, Spencer asked Emily if dating her was what she really wanted. Emily had panicked, naturally, and spent the next hour stressing how much she wanted to be with Spencer and Spencer had seemed to believe her but there was a look in her eyes that asked Emily silently why couldn't she speak with her mother. When they went their separate ways, Spencer didn't kiss Emily goodbye.

That simple gesture, or lack thereof, told Emily how upset Spencer was. She always kissed Emily goodbye and it was usually slow and sweet and loving, leaving Emily with no doubts about Spencer's feelings for her. This time Spencer left without a kiss or even a second glance and it broke a tiny piece of Emily's heart to know it was her fault. But it wasn't until she came home late from swim practice on Monday that Emily realized the extent of Spencer's frustration with her inaction.

Sitting at the dining room table was her mother and Spencer. Though their conversation stopped the minute she walked into the room, Emily knew without hearing one word what they had been speaking about. Feeling light headed, an immediate sense of betrayal filled her and she turned to Spencer, looking at her with blazing eyes. "Spencer," she demanded. "What are you doing?"

"Talking to your mother because you won't," said Spencer simply, unfazed by Emily's anger, obviously feeling justified.

"You told her?" Emily continued and she didn't look at her mother because she didn't want to see the rejection there. "How could you?"

"How could I?" repeated Spencer in a low whisper, equally angry and she pushed her chair away from the table to walk over to Emily. "How can you ask me that? I've always been up front with what I want, Em. I want to be with you but how can we be together when your family doesn't even know about us? How are your parents ever supposed to trust me if they don't have any idea I'm dating you?"

"You're dating," Pam's shell shocked voice interrupted their argument and both girls turned to her. She blinked at their attention and offered a shaky half smile. "I thought that was what you were telling me but it was so strange I didn't believe it..."

"Mom," said Emily anxiously, stepping towards her.

"Spencer," said Pam, holding up a hand to quiet Emily, "could you go upstairs and wait in Emily's room? We need a moment alone."

"Of course," Spencer said politely and she exited the room but not before squeezing Emily's hand and while Emily knew she wasn't sorry for what she had done there was an apology in Spencer's eyes. She thought she did the right thing but she was at least sorry about upsetting Emily in the process. Though she was still angry at Spencer for all of this, Emily acknowledged that was something.

Once they were alone, Pam clenched and unclenched her jaw. Finally, she said with a hint of humor, "You and Spencer?"

"I know," said Emily and she gave a nervous laugh. "It surprised me too but I really care for her, Mom. Spencer is good to me and even though I'm really mad that she did this without talking to me first, I know she was trying to help." A wry smile tugged at her lips and she added, "She's always trying to help me."

"Spencer is a good girl," said Pam faintly, looking up the stairs. There was deafening silence and Emily thought she was going to pass out when her mother looked at her with determination. Standing close, she touched Emily's cheek gently and murmured, "I still don't understand any of this, Emily. I'm not sure that I ever will but I meant what I told you. You're my daughter and I love you. If this makes you happy, if she makes you happy, then I don't disapprove."

It wasn't a ringing endorsement but it was the closest thing Emily that would ever get from her mother and she could see she was trying. All of those fears and worries, they had been for nothing and she didn't know she was crying until her mother wiped the tears away and wrapped her up in a hug. She wasn't sure how long they stayed like that but when they parted, Pam made a joke about fixing her make up and preparing dinner. Encouraging Emily to check on her girlfriend who was probably concerned.

Hearing her mother say the word girlfriend, knowing and accepting that when it came to Emily it was in a romantic sense, was a strange and wonderful experience. Enough that Emily began to lose the anger she felt over Spencer acting without her knowledge. After all, she knew why she did it and it turned out well but the problem was Spencer was always doing things like this. She had done it with Paige and before that, she did it with Alison and Ben. Whenever Spencer thought she was right, she went ahead and acted, convinced that if it she had good intentions it was fine. As friends, Emily had put up with it because it was one of Spencer's tiny foibles and she did have slight control freak tendencies. It was easier to simply let it go but now they were dating and Spencer had made a decision that had major consequences for their relationship and she had done it without so much as consulting Emily.

Maybe it was petty, maybe she should let it go, but Emily just couldn't. It was setting a bad standard and she didn't want Spencer to think she approved of her doing things like this. They were in this relationship together and that meant Spencer couldn't go off and do things that involved the both of them without at least talking to her about it first. When Emily walked inside her room, Spencer was standing by the window, arms folded over chest as she looked out of it.

"She doesn't disapprove of us," said Emily, announcing her presence.

"That's good," said Spencer and she frowned as she studied Emily. "So why don't you look happy?"

"You shouldn't have done that," Emily said strongly. "It's like before, with Paige, I told you I took care of it and you went behind my back and told the coach. Maybe I was taking too long to talk to my mom but I was going to do it."

"When? Sometime next century?" asked Spencer in acerbic tones. When Emily frowned at her, Spencer sighed and ran her fingers through her hair. "I'm sorry, Em," she murmured, a pleading look on her features as she walked towards her. "But I couldn't just stand around and watch you struggle with telling her, not when I could do something about it. And it all turned out all right, didn't it?"

"That's not the point," said Emily stubbornly. "You did it without talking to me, Spencer. We're supposed to be dating. In a relationship you don't do something that effects the other person without talking to them first. It's kind of jerk move."

"Now I'm a jerk?" Spencer said incredulously. "Your mother is fine with us dating! Why does it matter? Besides," said Spencer logically. "What about A? They sent your mom pictures of you and Maya, right? You really think they wouldn't do the same thing with us and then how would it look? Massively bad, that's how, at least now your mom knows and she's okay with everything."

"You don't get it," said Emily with frustration, practically growling the words out.

"No, I suppose I don't," said Spencer, equally frustrated, throwing her hands up. "You know what? I'm leaving," said Spencer, shaking her head and walking past Emily and out the bedroom door. "Talk to me when you're willing to listen to sense."

Always courteous to a fault, Emily heard Spencer saying goodbye to her mother, thanking her for listening and then the front door quietly shut. Emily sat on her bed, somewhat in shock, realizing this was the first real fight she had with Spencer. She had been mad at her before, like when she told the coach about Paige bullying her, and they had exchanged harsh words but Spencer had never walked out on her. There was a soft knock and she looked up, seeing her mother looking worried in the doorway.

"Is everything all right?" asked Pam, clearly concerned. "Spencer left in a hurry."

Emily almost told her mother everything but she quickly thought better of it. Her mother was improving when it came to accepting her sexuality but Emily wasn't quite ready to talk about the details of her love life yet. "She had stuff to do," said Emily with a weak smile. Pam gazed at her for a long moment, a question in her eyes, but eventually she nodded her head and accepted the excuse. Heaving a sigh as her mother left, Emily flopped onto her bed, covering her eyes with her arm and after a few minutes, the irritation and the anger about Spencer walking out and her refusal to see what she had done wrong, got to Emily.

That was when she texted Aria and Hanna, asking them to come over. Fifteen minutes passed and on hearing a car door slam, she rolled off her bed and walked to the window. They were standing on the sidewalk by Emily's house, Aria holding the back of Hanna's shirt and Emily found her gaze moving to what held Hanna's interest. Namely Spencer sitting on the steps of Toby's porch, staring at her two friends as they prepared to go into Emily's house. She remained sitting and Hanna crossed the street, speaking briefly to Spencer before shaking her head and following Aria back to Emily's. Barely aware of the doorbell ringing and her mother talking to her friends, Emily continued to stare at Spencer and Toby, only snapping out of her daze when Spencer looked up at her. Frowning deeply, Emily yanked her blinds down. Aria and Hanna found her on the window seat when they arrived, wearing a blank expression.

"Emily," Hanna sat at her left side while Aria took the right. "What's going on? Spencer wouldn't tell us. Did you have a fight?"

"You know how I've had a hard time telling my mom about me and Spencer?" Emily began and Hanna nodded. "I guess she got tired of waiting for me to do it because she told her today when I was at swim practice."

"NO," said Aria emphatically, an immediate look of indignation on her features. "She did it without telling you first?"

"I know!" Emily exclaimed and she turned to face Aria who apparently perfectly understood her ire. "I tried to tell her why that wasn't cool and all she cared about was that everything turned out fine. Spencer and I are in a relationship and she made this huge decision that effected the both of us without even talking to me about it."

"And what if your mom had freaked out again?" added Aria with a frown.

"That's what I said!" said Emily, her voice rising as Aria brought up all her points of argument with Spencer.

"But wasn't she trying to help?" said Hanna and she looked worried as she gazed at Emily.

"That doesn't make it right, Hanna," said Aria. "Relationships can't work if there's not any communication."

"I think you're bringing your Mr. Fitz issues into this," Hanna said and Aria rolled her eyes. Focusing back on Emily, she continued, "You've known Spencer for a long time, Em. It's not exactly a secret that she's gung-ho enough to be a female Rambo. Did you really think she would just sit around and watch you flip flop and freak about telling your mom and not do something? That's like asking her to fail a test on purpose. I think Spencer might actually implode if she tried it."

"It should be different now that we're dating," said Emily stubbornly. "She shouldn't go behind my back and fix things she thinks are wrong. Not when it has to do with our relationship. I think I deserve to at least be notified before she does something that effects me."

"You should," agreed Hanna, pausing to form a wry smile. "But this is Spencer we're talking about. As brainy as that girl is, sometimes she doesn't look before she leaps. Especially when she's convinced she's doing the right thing."

"You two haven't really fought before, have you?" remarked Aria absently, a thoughtful look on her features.

"Once, before we started dating," revealed Emily. When her friends looked at her curiously, she went on, "It was after I told you both about Paige saying that snarky remark about me being gay. She went to my coach and told her about it and I'm pretty sure she even went to Paige herself when she found out about the pool thing."

"What pool thing?" asked Aria, frowning again.

"Paige tried to drown her," said Hanna bluntly before Emily had a chance to reply.

"WHAT," Aria's voice was booming, especially for such a petite person, and Emily winced at the sound.

"She didn't really!" Emily protested. "Hanna makes it sound worse than what it was."

"She held your head underwater against your will and it wasn't exactly a joke," said Hanna frankly. "In what magical world are you living where that's not drowning, Em? Because I don't want to visit there."

"I hope Spencer kicked her ass," said Aria forcefully, folding her arms over her chest, and looking like she wanted do that herself.

"Oh, you know she did," Hanna nodded her head, apparently convinced there was no way Spencer wouldn't avenge Emily.

"You guys," said Emily in almost a whine. "I have no idea what Spencer did. I just know that it left Paige scared of her."

"Good," Aria and Hanna said together.

There was silence for a moment then Aria looked at Hanna and said, "I think she should forgive her."

"I agree," said Hanna solemnly.

They both faced Emily who heaved a sigh and she turned to the window, pushing down one of the blinds to look through it. Spencer was still sitting on the porch next to Toby. She could guess what they were saying, probably something along the lines of her current discussion with Aria and Hanna. They were friends and Emily reminded herself of that, especially as she watched Toby put an arm around Spencer's shoulders, and she tried to ignore her jealousy as she let the blinds snap shut again.


Making up with Spencer proved to be as problematic and telling her mother she was dating her. They fought on Monday and every day since then Emily tried to broach Spencer but they always ended up in another argument, neither willing to concede their position. By Thursday, Emily was thoroughly miserable and wondering if her luck had run out. That she would never be able to have a happy and healthy relationship, even with Spencer, who she knew so well and cared for so much.

She was arriving home from swim practice, depressed over catching a glimpse of Spencer playing lacrosse. Her mind stuck on the image of Spencer smiling and laughing with her teammates after scoring a goal. Unable to help feeling bitter that somehow Spencer could be anything but unhappy when they were fighting like this. As she got out of her car, she closed the door and her eyes drifted across the street, landing on Toby as he sat on his front porch reading from his French textbook. If it was anyone else, Emily would question why their chosen hang out was their porch but knowing full well Toby's situation with Jenna, she understood perfectly his need to escape the confines of his house, even while doing his homework.

"Hey," said Toby, offering a small smile, and putting down his textbook.

Walking over to him, Emily didn't return the smile, and she knew in the back of her mind it was because she was seeing that scene from Monday. Spencer sitting by his side and his arm over her shoulders and them looking like the image of a perfect straight couple. It was completely ridiculous, she was the one dating Spencer, she was the one Spencer liked, but she couldn't help herself.

"You're mad," said Toby softly, analytical as ever. It seemed to Emily that Toby had an uncanny talent for sizing people up and understanding them in an instant. "Is it because of Spencer?"

"We haven't made up yet," Emily confessed as she sat next to him on the porch. "I keep trying to but... we end up fighting again."

"You know she doesn't understand what she did wrong," said Toby and there was an affectionate humor in his tone.

"I know," said Emily, frustration showing clearly in her voice. "And that's what is driving me crazy. I keep telling her why I'm mad at her, hoping she'll get it and apologize, and maybe tell me she won't do it again but instead she just acts like I'm being irrational."

"I think emotions are probably pretty irrational to Spencer sometimes," Toby reflected and his lips quirked up in a grin. "She's kind of about the brain being superior to the heart a lot. It makes sense when you think about her parents."

"I guess," said Emily with a sigh. They were silent for a moment then she looked at him and asked, "How much did she tell you?"

"Not much," said Toby, shrugging. "Just that she told your mom about dating you because she saw you were having a hard time doing it." Seeing Emily become angry on hearing this, Toby frowned. "She was only trying to help."

"That's not the point," Emily argued, shaking her head.

Another moment of silence then Toby said, his voice quiet but strong, and almost a little accusatory, "Maybe it wasn't right what she did but the reason behind it was and to Spencer, that's all that matters. You're the one dating her, you know what she's like, how she can't let something go. If someone she cares about needs help, she helps them, and most of the time she doesn't bother to ask them before she does it. At least, she never did with me. That's who she is and if you can't deal with that maybe you shouldn't be with her."

"Are you just saying that so you have a chance with her again?" snapped Emily, the words rushing past her lips before she could think better of them. She watched as Toby's gentle gaze turned slightly unforgiving as he looked at her.

"Spencer's my friend," Toby murmured. "Just like you are but I won't lie, I still like her that way. Only she doesn't feel the same about me. I was here when she figured out how she felt about you, Emily, and it's the real thing. I wish it was for me but it's not." He looked away from Emily, a sad smile on his features as he said, "It would be lost cause."

"Toby," said Emily quietly, an apology on her lips, but he was speaking again, stopping it from being heard.

"I could forget about that though," interrupted Toby and though he said this placidly there was an ominous quality to his words. As if he wanted to make sure Emily knew how serious he was. "I could try anyway. I still like her and she's not happy right now and I can't say that seeing her like that is easy for me."

"She's my girlfriend," said Emily, possessiveness sweeping over her. She stood up, staring at him, almost feeling infuriated.

"Then act like it," said Toby simply, meeting Emily's gaze before picking up his textbook and walking back inside his house.

Watching him leave, Emily considered his words, and thought about the reality of the situation. How petty and small this argument was. Especially since she knew exactly why Spencer had acted and how there wasn't anything malicious or mean behind it. This was just Spencer being Spencer, and maybe it was a little thoughtless and overprotective, but it was also kind and sweet and helpful. There were far worse things in the world than having an excessively attentive girlfriend with a meddling streak. She still didn't agree with the way Spencer went about it but there were better ways to tell her than than with harsh words and tomorrow Emily resolved to do exactly that. Determined to make sure her bad luck in romance didn't continue, solely through her own fault.


The next morning, Emily left early, saying goodbye to her mother and heading over to Spencer's house where she was greeted by Melissa who remarked that Spencer was still in her room. The family didn't react to her arrival, going about their business and she knew they didn't have any idea she had been fighting with Spencer. Not at all like Emily's own mother who had been asking her subtle and probing questions about Spencer since their argument on Monday. Questioning why she wasn't coming over and expressing a genuine worry it was because of her, telling Emily that she meant it when she said she didn't disapprove.

Afraid of knocking on the door and announcing her presence, worried that she might be sent away, Emily simply opened the door to Spencer's room. She was greeted by the sight of Spencer clad in only a pair of brown pinstripe pants and what she was sure had to be an inordinately expensive white silk bra. Emily was frozen, taking it all in, and Spencer stared at her, an amused look on her features as she reached for a nearby white shirt and shrugged it on.

"Hello to you too, Em," Spencer drawled with her usual ribald good humor.

Snapping out of her daze, Emily dragged her gaze away from Spencer and her breasts, and blinked. Trying to fight the blush spreading across her features and failing, she said hoarsely, "I want to talk, Spencer."

"Talk," repeated Spencer thoughtfully, saying the word as if she never heard it before. She buttoned her shirt and tucked it in, pulling up the pair of suspenders attached to her pants, and studied Emily with a weary expression. "I'd prefer to avoid another fight," she said this as if she felt it was the inevitable conclusion to them speaking and Emily was saddened at the thought. She didn't know how they had gotten to this point but she wanted to fix it before it was too late.

"I don't want to fight either," said Emily, stepping closer to Spencer. "I hate fighting with you."

"Really?" said Spencer wryly, a soft chuckle passing through her lips. "Because it didn't feel like that these past few days. In fact, I think every time I've seen you since Monday you've gotten into a fight with me. I thought maybe you were replacing swimming for arguing with Spencer as your new sport of choice."

"Spencer," Emily said her name with a sigh and she looked off to one side. Why was this so hard? Talking to Spencer used to be the easiest thing in the world. When they were friends and they had an argument, they always worked it out. Why was this so much more difficult now that they were dating? "I've explained why I didn't like what you did. You understand the reason, right?"

Instead of replying, Spencer shrugged and walked over to her desk, gathering her books for school. Emily watched her and frowned. This wasn't like Spencer at all. She always had something to say, no matter how minute the subject, so the fact that she didn't have anything to say now was altogether shocking for Emily.

"Spencer," Emily said her name again, this time more insistently, demanding her attention. Walking over to her side, she ducked her head, looking up into Spencer's veiled features, her frown growing deeper as she gazed at them. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," said Spencer. Emily didn't have a chance to say that clearly wasn't the case because she continued, "I've just been considering the possibility that you were right to be worried. Obviously this isn't working between the two of us and I highly doubt that I'm really worth the risk of ruining a friendship. Maybe we should end it now before it gets any worse."

"Where is this coming from?" asked Emily, her throat going dry, and her heart beating out of control. When Spencer didn't reply, an obstinate look falling over her features, Emily cupped her chin and looked her in the eyes. "Why are you saying this?"

"You said you have bad luck in romance but it's nothing compared to me," said Spencer, a cruel sort of smile twisting her lips. "Everything I touch goes to shit in that area and I'm clearly defective goods. I just thought I'd spare you more headaches."

"You are not defective goods," said Emily, unable to repeat the words without working herself into a rage. "Why would you even think that?" Shaking her head, knowing it probably came from Spencer's family, she said, "Forget it. I don't want to hear anymore. Us having a fight isn't a reason to break up. I don't want to break up with you, do you really want to break up with me?" The softest whisper of no escaped Spencer's lips but it was loud enough for Emily to hear and the panic leaving her, she offered a tremulous smile. "Good," she breathed, caressing Spencer's cheek and resting their foreheads together.

"You know I'm going to piss you off again," Spencer noted. "Despite what people at school say I'm not perfect."

"I know," Emily chuckled fondly, "but I'm not either. Anyway, I don't want perfect. I want you."

"That's wonderful news," Spencer said, a relieved but somehow droll look on her features. "Because trying to be perfect sometimes grates on my nerves. I like the idea that I don't have to do that with you." She studied Emily for a long moment and she said soft and serious, "I should've asked you before I spoke to your mother. It doesn't matter why I did it. I should've asked."

"Thank you," said Emily as she offered a bright smile. "I just want us to be in this together, okay?"

"Okay," said Spencer, returning Emily's smile with a shy one of her own.

"And I understand why you did it," Emily went on, holding Spencer's gaze, looking at her affectionately. "You were trying to help me, just like you always do and maybe this time, it drove me a little bit crazy but…" Emily trailed off, looking away from Spencer and gathering up her courage. Facing Spencer with a determined look on her features, she said, "It's also why I'm falling in love with you."

Spencer's eyes became wide enough that Emily would've found them comical if it wasn't for the fact that she looked like she was going to faint. Then Spencer blinked rapidly, ridding herself of the tears forming in her eyes. "Oh," she breathed. "I can't even tell you how happy I am to hear that."

"Can I kiss you?" asked Emily tenderly, moving the pads of her thumbs across Spencer's face, wiping away the stray tears.

"I really wish you would," Spencer replied in husky tones.

Smiling at this, Emily hooked her fingers around Spencer's suspenders, pulling her close. This kiss had no slow introduction, it was immediate and knowing, there was a fluidity to it as Emily's hands moved to Spencer's waist, holding her tight. Trying to let Spencer know with every nip, suck, and tug how she felt and she was sure Spencer understood from the way she pressed harder against Emily, releasing a moan when she intensified the kiss. Hearing Spencer's response made it even better, to have proof she was effecting Spencer, that Spencer felt the same, it was an affirmation Emily desperately needed after a week of fighting.

It was almost too much, all this feeling, and Emily knew Spencer had to be experiencing it too, from the way she was trembling when they parted. The smirk that Spencer formed was crooked and she drawled, "I always knew I was irresistible."

"Yes," said Emily with a laugh, looking at Spencer fondly, "you are."

Spencer continued to smirk and she hugged Emily tightly enough it seemed there wasn't any part of their bodies that wasn't touching. Her voice was rough and full of emotion as she murmured in Emily's ear, "I've been falling for you for so long it'll probably kill me when I hit the ground." Emily blushed on hearing this, a wide smile spreading across her features, and she rocked them from side to side, laughing when Veronica shouted up at them, asking if they were ever leaving for school.

When they arrived at Rosewood Day, Aria and Hanna didn't try to hide their looks of relief on seeing them holding hands as they walked down the hallway. They came to a stop at Aria's locker and Hanna darted to Spencer's side. Her voice comically hushed and holding her hand up to cover her mouth, Hanna said in a something of a hiss, "I totally had your back."

"Thanks," said Spencer, her voice a humorous drawl. "I appreciate that, Hanna." She looked to Aria who was studying them with a skeptical expression. "What?" she asked.

"I'm just wondering if Hanna has a thing for you now," said Aria contemplatively. "She appears to be severely crushing."

"I'm not!" Hanna protested, hands on her hips. "I have Caleb. What's wrong with thinking Spencer's a good girlfriend?" Hanna focused her attention on Emily and demanded, "She is a good girlfriend, isn't she, Em?"

"Yes, she's a very good girlfriend," Emily laughed.

"You're way too invested in Spence's girlfriend stock," said Aria in shrewd tones.

"I'm her friend! I care!" exclaimed Hanna, looking altogether huffy and frowning at Aria. "Why don't you care about her girlfriend stock? Do you want her to be a bad girlfriend? What sort of friend are you, anyway?"

"One with boundaries," said Aria with dry humor.

The bell rang and they headed to English class, Aria and Hanna still bickering, and Emily hooked her arm through Spencer's. Leaning against her, Emily couldn't remember being happier. She knew their relationship wouldn't ever be perfect, they would argue, and they would disagree but none of that would change her feelings for Spencer or Spencer's feelings for her. Not only that, she had her friends and she had her family, both of which accepted their relationship whole heartedly. And most importantly, she had Spencer.

For once, everything was right in Emily's world. Now if only it would last.

End