hi again, guys! I'm finally back, and as you all know, this is the final installment of this story, meaning that there will be a resolution set in motion in this chapter. i promised you a happy(ish) ending when i first began 'intoxicating', and i hope i've delivered on that :) at first, it may seem a little precarious in spobyland (which is obviously only natural, given the circumstances), but by the end...it's fluffy fluffy fluff.

but before i get there: THAT. FINALE. OH. MY. SPOBY. it was absolutely the most flawless scene EVER and just asdkjlhfgsfjkiol because THEY LOVE EACH OTHER SO MUCH and although i could never write a resolution even half as amazingly as Troian and Keegan portrayed Spoby's in 3x24, i'll do my very best :')

AND SEASON FOUR. so far? such a thrill ride. especially Spencer and Toby. how they're working together to dig into Toby's past asdfg;lopl;kiofhj and tomorrow in Ravenswood asfgjkl;lk

anyways, i just want to thank all of my readers and reviewers once again for being their fabulous, sweet, amazing (and patient) selves. your support of my writing is what encourages me to post on here, and i am forever grateful to you all :') thank you so much.

as always, love to my Spobettes on twitter as well. you know who you all are ;) love you more than froyo xo

speaking of the Spobettes, thank you to Chrissy for allowing me to use her for a cameo appearance in this ch. love you, doll x3 hope you enjoy Aria's interaction with you ;)

so hope you guys enjoy this chapter, and enjoyed this piece overall :) can't wait to share more with you soon! thanks again, everyone!

xoxo,

-Ana

p.s. a quick note: Spencer, in this story, doesn't end up at Radley or pretend to join the A Team, nor is Toby's "body" found. just to clarify :)

-:-

-part four: the truth-

-:-

Spencer surveyed her reflection in the mirror for the hundredth time, critically eyeing her flawlessly-applied makeup. She adjusted a stray mahogany curl back into her coiffed chignon and anxiously smoothed a wrinkle from the skirt of her ivory silk halter dress.

A date. She was going on a date.

With Wren.

It had been a month since that night at Toby's loft, and while Wren wasn't exactly her boyfriend per se, she had agreed to meet him at a fancy (read as: pretentious) French restaurant on the outskirts of Rosewood.

Maybe she was just doing it to prove that Toby meant nothing to her anymore. Which was a complete act. Toby was the first thing she thought of when she opened her eyes after a fitful sleep each morning; the last thing she thought of before closing her eyes to the nightmares each night. It seemed to her that every little thing she saw, heard, smelled, touched, or tasted conjured up an image of him.

And, of course, there were the tangible reminders. The rocking chair that she hadn't had the heart to destroy; pictures that they'd taken together over the course of that perfect, carefree summer; his well-worn blue shirt.

Where is he? she asked herself for the millionth time. And, just like every other time before, she had no answer.

As hurt and broken and angry and disappointed she was, she still loved him.

Maybe that was her biggest mistake. Her inability to erase her feelings for him.

Sighing, Spencer picked up her clutch purse and coat. No. She was done thinking about the boy who had broken her heart, stamped on it, then tossed the remnants into a blazing inferno.

She had a date to meet.

-:-

Aria Montgomery sat at a corner table in the Rear Window Brew coffeeshop, flipping through the pages of her well-worn and dog-eared copy of The Great Gatsby.

Caught up in the star-crossed romance of Gatsby and Daisy, Aria hardly noticed when a waitress tapped her arm.

"Sorry for interrupting," the redhead apologized. Aria recognized her from all the time she spent at the Brew and smiled at her.

"My fault. When I'm reading, it's like I'm in a different world. Currently West Egg, New York, the summer of 1922."

"Ah. Gatsby." The waitress, who Aria had identified as Christine, sighed. "It's been ages since I've read that. It's one of my favorites. Anyway, I was wondering if I could get you something? More coffee?"

"Coffee sounds great. And one of those chocolate chip scones?" Aria reached into her hulking leather bag for her wallet.

"Coming right up!" With another smile, Christine headed off. Aria went back to her book, smiling briefly when the waitress returned a few minutes later with her coffee and a scone on a delicate porcelain plate.

"Thanks, Christine."

"Have a good day," the waitress returned, heading off.

For a few moments more, Aria delved into the book. Reading had always been an escape for her; an escape into someone else's reality. For just a small moment, she could be a lovestruck beauty in the Jazz Age and not a terrified teenager whose taboo relationship was falling apart and whose friends were in constant peril.

She felt a hand suddenly clamp down on her arm. Lowering the book, she turned...

...and looked right into the blue eyes of Toby Cavanaugh.

The coffee slipped from her hand, splashing to the floor. Neither her nor Toby made a move to clean up the spill.

"Toby? What the hell are you doing here?" Aria hissed, hazel eyes wide with suppressed fear.

"I need to talk to you," Toby responded.

"About what, exactly? Where you get the black hoodie dry-cleaned? Or how you broke my best friend's heart, let alone lied to her for a year?"

Toby cringed. "She told you?"

"Of course she told me. I'm her best friend. Em and Hanna know too, but you didn't answer my question.

"Both," he admitted, sitting down at the seat across from Aria. "I came to talk to you about 'A' and about Spencer."

"Why me?"

"Because you're the only one who can convince Spence to understand."

Aria considered. She could tell him to leave her alone. She could run and call the police.

Or...she could sit here, listen to what the bastard had to say, and get some real answers for Spencer.

"Okay, but I ask the questions. Got that?"

Toby smiled slightly. "Got it."

"Good. When did you join the A Team?"

"While I was at that job in Bucks County, Mona recruited me."

Aria swallowed, hard. So he hadn't been playing Spencer from the beginning. "Why you?"

Toby sighed. "I had an axe to grind with Alison. With the four of you."

Aria nodded. "Fine. Where did you go after the night Spencer found out?"

"I stayed at a motel not to far from here."

"Why did you come back?"

"To talk to you. To explain it."

Aria inhaled sharply. "Explain what? You're on the A Team. Game over." (*this is a play on a line Aria said in 3x24, so i don't technically own it.)

Toby shook his head. "That's the thing. I'm not...I don't really want to be."

Aria felt like she'd just been slapped. "What are you saying?"

"I'm saying...I only joined to protect Spencer. So I could work from the inside and keep her safe. I didn't tell her because once I joined, Mona threatened me. If I backed out, both Spencer and I would be in danger."

Aria hesitated before asking her next question. "Do you love her?"

Toby sighed again, and Aria saw tears well up in those haunted blue eyes. "I do. Aria, I love her so, so much. Could you tell her that? That I always loved her, that I always will love her?"

Aria frowned. If Toby was telling the truth, and she was pretty sure he was, that meant that it was okay. They could set a trap for A using Toby as a double agent, and he and Spencer could reconcile. The thought cheered her so much that she almost forgot that there was a slight complication.

A complication with a British accent.

But wait.

"Why don't you tell her that yourself?"

-:-

Spencer was frustrated.

She'd gotten stuck in traffic halfway to the fancy restaurant, then sped the rest of the way to make up for it. She'd made it at seven on the dot, which was their reservation time.

Wren wasn't there.

She'd waited another half hour before calling him. Straight to voice mail.

Twenty minutes later, he texted her. So sorry. I might be a little late.

No kidding, Spencer fumed. Now they'd missed their reservation. She couldn't help but think that Toby would never leave her waiting. He would put all else aside to spend the evening with her.

Damn it, Spencer, stop comparing them.

Just then, her phone beeped. Thinking it was Wren, she glanced at the caller ID, which read Aria.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Spence. Are you already on your date?" Was it her imagination, or did Aria sound...happier?

"Yeah. Well, not exactly. Why? Is everything okay?"

"Can you pick me up from the Brew on your way back from the restaurant?"

"Um. Sure. Why?"

Aria hesitated. "I'll tell you when you get here. Okay, thanks, Spence. Bye."

"Wait. Wren never showed up." Spencer blurted.

There was a pause. "Oh. I'm so sorry, Spencer. Can I...can I do something?"

"Like what?"

"Get Hanna to shove a stiletto heel up his ass?"

Spencer laughed in spite of herself. "Cute thought. No, it's okay. I'm okay. I'm leaving now to come get you."

"Okay. See you soon. And Spence?"

"Yeah?"

"You deserve someone better."

As she hung up, Spencer blinked back tears. She'd once thought she had the best.

That had turned out to be a lie.

She texted Wren back, Something came up. Don't bother.

Then she left the restaurant, only beating the torrent of sobs by a fraction of a second.

-:-

Aria was waiting outside the coffeeshop when Spencer arrived, makeup freshly reapplied and significantly calmer. Nothing like a good cry, she thought dryly. "Hey," Aria said tentatively as she slid into the passenger seat.

"Hey," Spencer responded. "So...what is the destination of the Hastings Express tonight, miss?"

Aria smiled. "You know those hills that overlook the town?"

Spencer could've sworn she felt every breath leave her body. Because yes, she knew those hills. She had been there several times, had picnicked there, had shared kisses there...with Toby.

"Yeah, I know them," she managed over the heartbreak, the pain that rippled through her chest.

"Can you take me there? I just wanted to take some pictures," Aria rattled off quickly, seeing the perplexed look on her friend's face. "They're really pretty during sunset."

"Okay," Spencer agreed, fighting the urge to lay her head against the steering wheel and burst into tears yet again. "Sure. Let's go."

-:-

Toby had never been more nervous in his life.

As he waited by the hills that loomed over the seemingly-pristine jewel that was Rosewood, Pennsylvania, the spot he'd arranged with Aria as the venue for his attempt to win Spencer back, he thought about the girl he was in love with.

He thought about her big brown eyes, how they sparkled when she laughed. Her voice, husky and melodic when she said his name. Her skin, soft and supple, like silk under his touch. Her smile, which seemed to light up the entire world.

God. He didn't deserve her. He never had. But he loved her so desperately. That was why he had done the things he'd done. For her.

Taking a deep breath, he waited.

Waited for Spencer, and prayed for their happy ending.

-:-

Spencer parked the car at the spot Aria directed her to, and the two friends climbed out of the car.

Suddenly, Spencer realized something.

"Where's your camera?"

The smile Aria had been wearing faded into a nervous grimace. "About that..."

"Aria." Spencer's voice was dangerously calm. "What are you up to?"

"Um. Well. I'm not...we're not...here to take pictures."

"Okay," Spencer shifted her weight impatiently. "Then what the hell are we here for?"

Aria blew out a sigh. "Come on out," she called into the trees.

And Spencer's heart skipped a beat, then beat too fast, as a figure came into the clearing. A figure with big blue eyes that she'd gotten lost in, chestnut hair she'd ran her fingers through, a strong jawline she'd melted over, full lips she'd kissed.

"Toby," she breathed.

And, somehow, she felt lighter.

-:-

Spencer hardly noticed when Aria backed carefully to her car, got in, and drove off to leave her and Toby alone. She hardly noticed that Toby was, in fact, wearing a black hoodie. She hardly felt the bitter wind that whistled through the trees, raising goosebumps on her bare legs. All she really knew and felt in that moment was the rage and sorrow and fear and confusion and longing as she looked at the only boy she'd ever loved.

"Spencer," he said finally. Just Spencer. Just her name.

"I don't want to see you," she managed, her voice wavering as her body trembled. "I don't want to talk to you. There's nothing left to say."

"Spencer," he reached for her hand, causing her to jerk away. "Spence...just give me a chance to explain."

"Explain what? You betrayed me, Toby. You hurt me, and you hurt my friends, and you lied. What else do you have to say to me?" she whirled away from him, pressing the heels of her hands to her eyes.

"That I love you."

She slowly turned back to face him, and the tears she saw brimming in his eyes, the pure regret on his handsome face, produced another crack in her already destructed heart.

"Why should I believe that?" she asked quietly, taking a step toward him.

He swallowed. "Spencer. Whatever I've lied about, whatever mistakes I've made, I always meant it, with everything that I am, when I told you I loved you. And I still mean it now. I understand, if you've moved on, if you don't care about me anymore, but...you need to know. I love you."

A tear slipped silently down her cheek, and he reached up to brush it away with this thumb, lingering there for a moment.

And then he blurted it all out. How Mona had recruited him into joining the A Team by blackmailing him; the deal he'd made with the devil; how he'd done all of it to keep her safe.

"So please," he pleaded after the explanation was complete. "Please, don't hate me. Just say that you don't hate me."

Spencer peered into those tearful baby blue orbs. "I don't hate you." she murmured. "God knows I've tried. But you...you're already a part of my heart, Toby. So I can't. I could never."

She hesitated a moment before continuing. "So all along...you were just trying to protect me?"

He nodded. "What we had was real, Spence. It always was." (*another 3x24 line i'm sure you all remember. don't own it. just using it for my purposes here.) "Do you believe me?" he gazed down at her hopefully, those beautiful eyes still filled with so much hurt, so much pain.

And, suddenly, she couldn't take it anymore.

She reached up, framing his face with her hands, and kissed him, slowly, deeply, passionately. His arm twined around her waist, his hand cradling her head as he kissed her back.

It might have been minutes. Hours. Days. But when they finally pulled back, Spencer was smiling, an unfamiliar yet beautiful feeling, even as fresh tears-of joy, not sorrow-sluiced down her cheeks.

"I love you, Toby." she half-sobbed, half-laughed, burrowing into his arms. He felt the hole that had been in his heart for the past month recede, as warm happiness bubbled within him at her words.

"I love you, too. I'm so, so sorry." He pressed his face into her hair, inhaling her scent.

"Shhh." she kissed his shoulder. "Just hold me."

So he did. And for awhile, they put 'A', put tragedy, put loss, put horror behind them.

They focused, instead, on their love.

fin.

-:-

reviews are nice. hint hint ;)