Always caught up in the wrong frame of mind
Sick of waiting for my stars to align
When they do,
Will you be the last in the line?
If I see the glow will you be mine oh mine?

Cause it will never be right it will never be wrong
I knew it at the bar still I asked what you sipping on?
Now I'm thinking about things I'd like to say
Sipping on till I feel no pain
She likes the rain,
But my sunshine never came

"Side Effects Of Sipping On Sunshine" - Open Til Midnight

The Side Effects Of Sipping On Sunshine


Journaling: the one thing that Spencer Hastings had never quite understood. She had made several feeble attempts to turn festive notebooks into diaries over the years, or start a private blog to chronicle her thoughts, but had always given up shortly thereafter. She had always found that her brain was often more exhausted after an intense silent venting session, and had never seen the appeal.

However, it had been one of the primary things that kept her going while Toby was away. Though she knew it was nobody's intention, she had learned early on that there was only so much advice people could give about a situation they knew nothing about. Their eyes would glaze over after a while in fatigue, and she could tell that they were simply dying to change the awkward subject. It had become much easier to write about it in private to sort out her thoughts.

And today's thoughts were particularly chaotic. New Year's Eve was supposed to mark the end of the year – the conclusion of whatever given chapter your life had reached. Tomorrow was about new beginnings and a new outlook on life.

But she couldn't help feeling like her life was stagnating in the present. Time was going so slowly, and she found herself wishing the days away. And that was something no person should ever have to do. Life was to be enjoyed – every miniscule moment in time. Lately, she found the calendar to be nothing more than a nuisance. A cruel reminder.

There was no possible way to describe the feeling to anybody that had not gone through it before. It was as though a nail had been driven into the center of her heart, sending a splintering array of spider web cracks from the point of entry. It was the closest a person could come to their heart breaking, without actually enduring that precise amount of pain.

And she was growing exhausted of the generic phrases she had been hearing so much of lately. The 'he'll be home before you know it's and the 'you should be proud of him for doing such a wonderful thing's had taken on a monstrous identity of their own. The resentment and frustration that befell Spencer upon hearing these "pearls of wisdom" was enough to send her screaming in agony to the rooftops, willing everybody to get some fucking clue about how much she missed him.

She usually set ten minutes aside every night before bed to spontaneously shout obscenities into her pillow, doing what she could to release the tension and anxiety that continued to snowball throughout any given day. Then, after feeling considerably calmer, she would take her nightly bath.

Life had to go on, after all. And she had to find her own unique way to cope with the stress she was feeling.

He had kept his promise about writing to her as often as possible, and had even made it a point to call her on his days off whenever he could. Hearing his voice was always the high point of her Sundays, even if the tin can sound in the receiver reminded her of the distance that barred them from one another.

Hanna and Holmes had fulfilled their duties of friendship, being sure to lend sympathetic ears on the rare occasion that Spencer chose to vent. When the three-month lease expired on their apartment and Lancaster made a unit transfer to Kentucky, Holmes had even been gracious enough to offer the girls a place to stay. Holmes complained of boredom and loneliness in the large fraternity-style house, and insisted that the place needed a woman's touch. Toby, of course, had been more than fond of the idea that Spencer would be sleeping in his room until his return.

The living arrangements, however, had caused a substantial amount of difficulty in Hanna's relationship with Caleb. As if the distance of their romance was not detrimental enough in and of itself, the ability to maintain a healthy level of trust was even more difficult. Spencer didn't necessarily blame him for being concerned, for the friendship that Hanna and Holmes possessed was certainly out of the ordinary and could make any long distance boyfriend suspicious.

"Spencer! The ball is about to drop!" Hanna called from the hallway. Spencer sighed heavily and finished typing her thought into her Word Doc diary, slamming her laptop shut definitively.

Though the idea of a New Year's party had sounded good at the time that they planned it, Spencer had found quickly that she preferred to reflect on her year in solitude. The sounds of the raucous party downstairs suddenly found their way to her ears again as she traipsed down the hallway.

"No! Stop! This is not the time," Hanna was arguing fervently behind her bedroom door. It wasn't shut quite tight, Spencer realized, as she tried to move quickly past to avoid eavesdropping.

"It can't wait," Caleb protested. "I've been trying to talk to you about it all night but you haven't given me the chance."

Spencer paused, unable to help herself.

"Because tonight was supposed to be fun," Hanna pressed. "And you've been Dr. Grumpers all night. Will you please come downstairs with me? It's almost midnight."

"Hanna," Caleb stated definitively, "I think it's better we get this out of the way before midnight…"

Spencer's heart skipped a beat involuntarily as she hurried back towards the stairs. She didn't like the sound of Caleb's tone…it wasn't her place to continue listening.

As she reached the bottom of the stairs, Holmes met her almost immediately to place a dollar store top hat on her head and a noisemaker in her hand.

"There you are! I was wondering when you'd grace us with your presence!"

Spencer smiled. "Yeah…sorry. Just…trying to get rid of my headache."

Holmes grinned. He, himself, wore a goofy-looking cone-shaped party hat and ridiculous "2012" sunglasses. He glanced over Spencer's shoulder, upwards to the second floor. "Where's Hanna? She's going to miss it!"

"I dunno," Spencer lied, looping her arm through Holmes's and trying her best to nonchalantly lead him back towards the living room. She didn't want him to catch wind of their argument – she had a feeling that part of it was about him…

"So what did I miss?" she inquired. As they stepped up behind the couch, she saw now that the countdown on the television had reached 11:58. People were gathered around the big screen, prepared to go to town with their noisemakers.

"Nothing," Holmes replied distantly, still glancing over his shoulder. "Is everything okay? It didn't look like her and Caleb were having much fun…"

"No idea," Spencer said once more, forcing what she hoped was a clueless smile. "C'mon! Where's the midnight champagne?"

"Right here," he announced, gesturing to the adjacent bar top. Indeed, several plastic champagne flutes were set out with enough bubbly in each for a brief toast to the new year. She picked one up for herself and handed one to Holmes.


The partygoers erupted in synchronized countdown just as Hanna approached Spencer and Holmes from behind. She was alone; and the puffy nature of her eyes alerted Spencer that this was precisely the problem.


"Hanna? What's wrong?" Spencer asked worriedly, reaching out to take her hand. Hanna shook her head fervently.

"Nothing. I mean…it's Caleb's birth mom…"


"…She offered him full paid tuition to the University of California if he would come live with her."


Spencer blanched, interpreting this meaning independently. "Oh, honey…I'm so sorry…"

"And he didn't even want to try?" Holmes demanded protectively. "Where is he? I'll talk to him."


"No," Hanna stated roughly. "No. It's already done."

Spencer squeezed Hanna's hand, while Holmes wrapped a supportive arm around the blond on her other side.

"You have us," he reminded. Hanna laughed mirthlessly, drooping her head onto his shoulder.

"And I love you both for that."

"2!...1!...HAPPY NEW YEAR!"

The eruption of noisemakers was all but deafening. Spencer and Holmes continued to survey Hanna with concern, privy to the fact that she was more hurt than she was letting on.

"Happy New Year, Han," Spencer said softly, wrapping an arm around her back. Her fingertips grazed Holmes's shoulder on the other side.

"Happy New Year, Spence."