hey there, everyone! just taking a quick break from my other story, 'intoxicating', to post this oneshot for one of my favorite people ever, a flawless writer you guys may know as phoenix9648. Tracey, my dear, this one is for you, and although it could never in a million billion years do you justice, i hope you like. thank you for being an amazingly supportive friend, soul sister, collab partner, and oftentimes, my muse :) love you, girlie, and happy (very belated) birthday! hope your year so far has been as beautifantastabulous as you are (oh, wait, what am i saying; that's impossible ;)).

also: that #Trana-PLL-style scene i promised you, Trace? it's in here, and i hope you enjoy "Ana" and "Tracey" interacting with...well, you'll see. ;) big thanks for letting me use you as a cameo!

also kudos to Bree for letting me hassle her over this fic when it was just a seed of what it is now. you're the best, Breezer Tweezers! ;) xo.

for those of you who haven't already, it would mean a ton if you would check out prettylittledreamers, the collab account Tracey and i have on here. we're currently co-authoring a Spoby oneshot collection, but we are accepting suggestions for oneshots or short fics, so check us out/leave us a pm. we'd love to hear your ideas :)

thank you all once again for your continued support for all my pieces. your reviews, pms, and feedback literally make my day. if anyone ever wants to talk (fangirl) over PLL/Spoby, go over theories/clues, or just chat about anything, i'm on Twitter too, at ALivingFantasy ;)

anyways, the premise for this story came to me at three in the morning after two hours of sleep, but i think it's interesting. it fills in the blanks of what happened in the weeks immediately following the season two finale (aka the six months before season three we never saw) and is Toby accompanying Spencer to a therapy session with Dr. Sullivan. obviously, they are back together and very much in love, but i feel that it took some time, and, most likely, an outside source, to truly talk everything out and move on together as a couple. BUT be forewarned-this is a more emotionally-charged piece (especially considering the current Spoby situation on the show) so you may want to grab some Kleenex. i did sneak a little fluff in throughout, however ;) hope you all enjoy and leave me a review. pretty please with Spoby on top? ;)

xoxo,

-Ana

-:-

-solace-

"Spencer." His voice was soft, full of adoration and concern. Saying her name with the soft tenderness that made her knees weak and her heart soar. But she forced herself to stare straight ahead, refusing to look at him. Refusing to give in to her vices.

"Spencer," he tried again, taking one hand off the steering wheel to reach for her hand, causing her to recoil backward into the passenger seat of the tan Chevy truck that she'd bought for him. Thinking about that day, the sun shining, his eyes sparkling with happiness, the I Love You he'd breathed, felt like another lifetime ago. "Spence, please. I hate when you're mad at me." The gentle tone of his words made her resolve crack a little, and she finally looked at him, her brown eyes boring into his deep, swimming azure ones.

"I'm not mad at you."

His expression relaxed the slightest. "You're not?"

She shook her head no. "I'm just...frustarated."

Toby sighed. "Spencer, I know you don't believe me right now, but this is going to help you." Toby reached for her hand again and this time she let him take it, sighing quietly.

"I understand where you're coming from, but therapy? That didn't end so well the last time." Spencer met her boyfriend's blue eyes with her own deep brown ones.

"I know. I know," Toby exhaled, rubbing her knuckle with this thumb. "But it's different now. You don't have to worry about exploitation or kidnappings. It's all over."

Spencer swallowed, staring straight ahead. Even though it had been two months since the night of Mona's being unmasked as "A", she still had horrible, vivid nightmares of everything the psychotic bitch had put her and her friends through. Coupled with the pressures of finishing her junior year and helping Emily through Maya's loss, things had been no less anxiety-inducing or dramatic since that night.

The only thing keeping Spencer sane was Toby. Strong, dependable, sweet Toby, the love of her life that she'd come so close to losing for good. Over the past two months, Toby and Spencer had talked out everything between them and were doing their best to move on together, stronger and more in love than ever. But as their relationship deepened, Spencer also began to suffer terrible post-traumatic stress disorder. Although she knew it was perfectly normal, given everything she'd endured, she still struggled with it.

And that was where Dr. Anne Sullivan had come in, requesting each of the girls, their parents, and significant others to attend a therapy session to discuss everything that had happened and their plans going forward. Aria had attended her session the day before, with Ezra and her parents ("We were all actually able to be in the same room together! Can you believe it?"), and even Hanna had begrudgingly gone to her meeting with Ashley and Caleb ("She actually managed not to say 'closure.' Like, not even once! Wherever Mona sent her did her some good!").

Spencer hadn't planned on going, but Toby had thought it was a good idea. Since her parents were out of town, and Melissa was in Philly, he coaxed, argued, begged, and threatened until Spencer finally, unwillingly, agreed to go to therapy with him.

And she was not happy about it.

"Hey," Toby said softly, meeting her eyes. "I'm sorry. If you really don't want to do this, we don't have to. I just...I thought it would help you. I hate seeing you so upset all the time," he added sadly, his ocean-colored irises filling with compassion.

Spencer felt herself melt around the edges, gripping his hand tighter, a smile washing over her delicate features. "No, I'm sorry. You're right. Maybe...maybe this will help."

"Are you sure?" Toby asked, concerned. He stopped at a red light, moving closer to brush a piece of hair behind her ear, his fingers lingering against her skin. She felt her breath shudder at his touch.

"Yes," she kissed his knuckle lightly. "I'm sure."

Toby smiled, his deep dimples revealing themselves, and squeezed her hand happily as the light changed. "Thank you."

She shook her head at the damning affect he had on her, her eyes sparkling lovingly at him in response. If anything, he deserved more thanks than she could ever begin to offer him.

"Thank you."

-:-

As the couple entered Anne Sullivan's cream-colored, airy office building, they were greeted by the sound of female voices coming from inside the space. Toby frowned. "We're probably early," he whispered. "I'm pretty sure I booked us for two pm, though..."

"It's fine," Spencer reassured him, squeezing his hand. "We can wait a bit."

"Well, it was a pleasure speaking with you girls," they heard Dr. Sullivan say from inside.

"Thank you so much, Anne," one of the girls' voice came warbling down the hall.

"You're a lifesaver," the other chimed in gratefully.

As the two girls exited and came down the hall, their shoes clicking against the linoleum flooring, Spencer recognized them instantly. Tracey and Ana, from her AP Russian History class. Spencer had always secretly thought that the bubbly, energetic, sweet twosome had been Siamese twins in a former life. Best friends, the pair were always finishing each other's sentences and were perpetually joined at the hip. Where there was Ana, there was Tracey. Where there was Tracey, there was Ana. They were the epitome of strong friendship.

"Spencer, hey," Tracey grinned as she caught sight of her. "How's it going?"

"Hey, Tracey. Hey, Ana," Spencer lifted her hand to wave at them, smiling. The duo had always been incredibly sweet, but after the night Mona was caught, they began checking up on Spencer and her friends, concerned about how they were holding up. And Spencer really did appreciate it, more so because all everyone else did was whisper and gossip right in front of them.

"How are you doing?" Ana asked, her deep-set brown eyes filling with empathy.

"Fine. Just...stopped by here to talk," Spencer responded noncomitically, lifting a tiny shoulder.

"That's good," Tracey replied, touching her arm. "It'll help, talking everything out. And Anne's great."

"Plus, you have some added support," Ana intoned, smiling at Toby. "Hi. You must be Toby. Spencer's said so much about you."

"She has?" Toby blushed a little.

"Oh yeah. From what we hear, you're Boyfriend of the Year material, Toby," Tracey laughed.

Toby sheepishly scratched the back of his neck. "Well, I don't know about that..."

"So what are you guys doing here?" Spencer interrupted, her face flaming scarlet.

"Oh." Tracey rolled her eyes, blowing a dark brown lock of hair off her forehead. "That. We have to interview a bunch of people in the community about their jobs for this summer program we're enrolled in."

Ana wrinkled her nose. "It's supposed to help us choose a major, but we both know we're majoring in journalism, so it's kind of a waste of time," she explained, hiking up her purse strap.

"So we picked Anne to interview since she's a family friend of mine," Tracey continued. "Anyways, we'd better get going. We have our next meeting in"-she consulted her iPhone- "forty-five minutes."

"Yeah, we gotta bounce. But it was nice to see you!" Ana waved goodbye, following her friend down the hall and out the oak-paneled door.

"See you around!" Tracey added, waving as well.

Spencer waved back, stifling a smile as she heard Ana exclaim, "Oh my God, we should stop and grab some coffee at that new coffeeshop on Main Street. The Brew? I heard they have the best-"

"-mocha frappucinos!" Tracey finished. "So worth a stop."

Their chatter continued, fading gradually until they were out of earshot. Spencer turned to face Toby, who lifted his eyebrows slightly.

"Boyfriend of the Year, huh?"

Spencer smiled seductively, taking a step closer. "Excuse me for bragging about the sweetest"-another step- "kindest"-another step- "strongest"-she placed her hand on his chest, his eyes closing in bliss as she bent forward, her mouth millimeters from his- "handsomest boyfriend in the world." She kissed him briefly before pulling away, knowing Dr. Sullivan would be appearing at any moment to usher in her new group of patients.

"Mmmm." Toby ran a hand through her hair. "I think maybe I can forgive you. On one condition."

She felt her heart jump in anticipation. "What's that?"

He kissed her deeply, sensually, pressing her up against the wall outside the office. Spencer lost herself in the moment, in his touch and taste and scent, and when she finally, reluctantly, broke away, it was because her need for oxygen outweighed her intense need for him.

"Toby," she began, breathing heavily and peering into his eyes. But she was interrupted by a delicate, pointed, "Ahem."

Dr. Sullivan stood in the doorway, smiling amusedly at the couple, her eyes twinkling. For the second time in ten minutes, Spencer blushed red.

"Hey, Dr. Sullivan," Toby said, recovering quickly and untangling himself from Spencer. "Thanks for agreeing to see us."

"My pleasure," Dr. Sullivan smiled. "It's good to see you both."

"Yeah, you too," Spencer managed.

"Come in, come in," Dr. Sullivan ushered the couple over to the couches lined up strategically in the center of the airy room, gracefully plopping herself down at her high-backed, winged leather chair. Toby and Spencer sat down at opposite sides of the largest couch, the supple leather one directly facing the therapist. For a moment, an awkward silence filled the room.

"So." Dr. Sullivan leaned forward. "It's been...crazy for both of you, I'm sure. Two long months of recovery. Let's start with that. How have you been attempting to move on from everything that happened?"

Spencer and Toby exchanged a glance, neither one quite sure of what to say. Dr. Sullivan noticed their hesitation. "There are no wrong answers here. Just tell me how you feel. That's the only way I can help you. Spencer," she turned to the brunette who was silently willing herself to sink into the floor, "how have you been trying to move past everything?"

Spencer swallowed hard. "I, um, I've been...playing feild hockey again?" it came out as a question.

Dr. Sullivan nodded encouragingly. "And how has your season been?"

Spencer ducked her head, twirling a stray strand of hair around her index finger at top speed. "Fine," she mumbled.

"She's being modest," Toby interjected proudly. "She scored the winning goal of her tournament last month." Spencer shook her head. She'd scored the goal completely by accident, but good luck telling her doting boyfriend that.

"That's wonderful!" Dr. Sullivan enthused. "And how about your friends? Have you been spending time with them?"

Spencer nodded. "Emily's still mourning over Maya," she said quietly. "But we do spend as much time together as we can. I mean, we were each other's constant support during all that drama with A-er, Mona-and we just...we do our best to help each other move on from it. And it's kind of nice, getting to talk about normal stuff like what color manicure we should get instead of the psycho out to get us," she added wryly.

Dr. Sullivan nodded, listening intently. "Spencer, my notes tell me that you've suffered PTSD since the night of Mona's revealation as A. And that leads me to believe that you're still scared of something."

"Well, wouldn't you be, if you were tortured by someone like that? If your best friend was murdered the way Ali was and you were set up to take the fall?" Spencer snapped.

Dr. Sullivan appraised her. "Of course. Of course that's perfectly normal, but...you're not scared of Mona herself. Or Garrett. You never really were. I think you're more scared of what Mona and Garrett did to hurt the people you love."

Spencer swallowed, a million flashbacks running through her mind in the blink of an eye: Hanna getting hit by the SUV. Toby sobbing in a silent, empty, dirty alley. Emily sobbing on the lawn as the coroners wheeled away Maya's remains. Aria, depressed over her parents' marriage crumbling. Toby, shouting that he loved her at the police station.

And then finally, the two months' worth of tears Spencer had fought so hard to keep at bay came pouring out, drenching her cheeks and robbing her of her breath. She doubled over in racking sobs, as the old scars were reopened, the palpable pain the memories brought overwhelming her.

"Spencer." Toby's arms were around her in an instant, his fingers running through her curls, attempting to soothe her. "Shh," he murmured. "Shh, it's okay. Don't cry. Please, Spence. Shh. I'm here, I'm right here..." She buried her face in his shoulder, soaking his T-shirt and clutching at him desperately, like she was drowning and he was air.

Finally, her hurricane of sobs slowed to a slight drizzle and she pulled away, still nestled in Toby's arms. "I'm so, so sorry," she whimpered tearfully as he brushed a rengrade tear from her cheek with his thumb.

"For what, sweetheart?" he asked quietly, kissing her head.

"For everything. For all the lies, all the secrets. I only did what I did to keep you safe-"

He cut her off, stroking her cheek. "Spencer, I know. I know."

"No. No, you don't. You have no idea how terrified I am of losing you again. Of-of someone, or something, tearing us apart. Because when you love someone the way I love you, even the thought of not having them forever...it hurts."

Toby felt his own eyes well up as he tenderly cupped his girlfriend's face. "It's all over now," he breathed, kissing her again. "We're safe, and we're together, and I promise, I'll never, ever let anything or anyone come between us again." He pressed his face into her hair. "I love you. So, so much."

Spencer smiled a little through her tears. Toby had promised nothing would come between them. And she believed him with every ounce of her being, because while Spencer was incredibly good at keeping secrets, Toby always kept his promises. Always.

-:-

After the appointment was over, Spencer and Toby thanked Dr. Sullivan immensely for her help. As the therapist watched them leave, she brushed away a tear from her own eye, marveling at how she'd never seen two people more in love.

In Toby's truck, Spencer playfully kissed his nose. "You wanna go grab some coffee? I heard the Brew has mocha frappucinos that are so worth a stop," she giggled mischiviously.

Toby smiled. "Maybe later. Right now, all I want to do is this." Their lips met in a soft, loving, perfect kiss. The kind of kiss that made Spencer wonder how she'd survived sixteen years without knowing what his lips on hers felt like.

"You're never going to lose me," Toby murmured, stroking her fingers in his. "I'm right here, by your side, always. And I plan on staying here. For a long time."

"You do?"

"As long as you want me."

"So...forever?" she eyed him hopefully.

"Forever and ever," he agreed, leaning in to kiss her again.

And it was then that Spencer realized that it was her love for Toby, and Toby's love for her, that was her real and true solace, her safe place to land.

Forever and ever.

-fin-