Author's Note: Here is the promised companion piece to The Queen Has Been Overthrown. This what happened in Spencer's fever dream in Chapter 24. Spencer wakes up somewhere else. And it's not exactly how she thought it would be.
The Queen Has Been Overthrown is a year old. I started writing the fic when I was stranded in my dorm during a tropical storm and the floods. So a year later I was trying to finish this and the next chapter during a tropical storm and the floods.
Happy birthday to us.
Disclaimer: I don't own Pretty Little Liars.
Spencer woke up with her head pounding. She groaned as she tried to burrow her head into her pillow. Her soft fluffy pillow. She felt the rise of a silky material ride up on her thigh and pulled it back down, her fingers brushing bare skin. She rolled over, trying to get more comfortable. But instead of hitting a wall, her back just flopped over onto more mattress.
She opened her eyes suddenly. This wasn't her bed. It was bigger, with smooth sheets and a thick comforter. This wasn't her room. There was a nightstand next to the bed, instead of a cardboard box. The walls were painted a relaxing shade of mint green. There was a vanity and a wardrobe instead of a sink and mini-fridge.
Her first thought was this was the guest bedroom. But on the nightstand was a picture frame with a photo of her with her arm wrapped around Emily's waist. The two of them were smiling.
That got her out of bed and on her feet. The floor had carpeting. Her toes curled in pleasure at the feel. She went to the vanity to look in the mirror. She was wearing a champagne colored chemise, showing off a lot of her creamy skin. Her unmarred skin. No scars. No tattoos. She brought her hand up to her face. Her nose had never been broken. She smiled. Her lip had never been torn.
It was as if...
That's when she saw the ring on her finger.
She had never made the deal with A. She had never gone to prison. She was married to Emily.
"Emily." She grinned as she said her wife's name. Her wife. She stepped away from the vanity and went to go look for Emily.
She tried a door and found herself in the hallway. She walked, passing closed doors and framed photography and paintings as she went. The hall opened up into a wide living room, modern furniture that was all black leather, metal and glass. There was a set of big glass doors that opened up to a spacious balcony garden. Whatever job she had, she knew she was successful if she and Emily lived in a place like this.
"Emily?" Spencer called out.
"In the office," came her reply.
Spencer was grinning hard now. This was all she ever wanted. She followed Emily's voice to a door on the other side of the living room. The door was cracked open a bit. She pushed the door open and went inside.
Emily was sitting behind a desk with what looked like a file opened in front of her. She didn't look up from her work. She just adjusted the glasses she was wearing. "Spencer, don't blame me for your alarm not going off. It's not my job to wake you."
"I-" Spencer sputtered out. She was surprised at how irritated Emily sounded, like she was trying to keep from losing her patience.
"I'm surprised you woke up this early considering the head start you got last night."
"I don't-" Spencer recoiled at the look Emily was giving her. It was a hard scowl.
"You don't drink until you pass out? Or you don't remember how much you had?" The way Emily spoke was so icy. There was none of that familiar warmth.
Spencer ducked her head under the weight of Emily's glare. What happened to that smiling couple in the photo on the nightstand? "I don't understand."
Emily scoffed. "Of course you don't. You never did. All you care about is our public image." She shook her head, as if to correct herself. "Your public image. If the best divorce lawyer in the state's own marriage ended, what would that look like? And you made sure no one would take me on as a client. You made damn sure I couldn't walk away from this." She closed her eyes and laughed bitterly. "If I have your permission, I have some patients to see."
Emily pushed back from the desk. But she didn't stand up. She moved herself around the desk. Spencer's breath got stuck in her throat and her heart felt like it had froze in her chest at the sight. Her vision was getting hazy. But there was no mistaking what she saw before she blacked out.
Emily was in a wheelchair.
There were voices talking in the room somewhere. She felt strong arms underneath her. She grumbled and the voices fell silent. She shifted on the soft cushions she was placed on, but didn't open her eyes. She didn't want to open her eyes. She was still here in this nightmare. The voices continued talking again.
"So does she do this a lot?" The first voice asked. It was soothing and husky, full of concern.
"Get pass out drunk? Usually she makes it to the bed or the couch. She's never fainted like that." The second voice came. It was tired and resigned. That was Emily.
"Hmm. When she's like this, she doesn't hurt you, does she?" The soft voice asked. There was an edge to it, a threat to step in if Emily had ever been harmed. There was only person who that could be.
"She doesn't get violent on these binges. It's really the only time she shows any warmth. She can't function without a drink." Emily fell quiet. "Paige, thank you for helping me, but you should go before Spencer sees you here," she spoke with a sense of urgency.
"Okay." Paige didn't sound like she wanted to leave. "If you need anything, my crew and I are working on your building the whole day. Just come and find me."
"I will." The way Emily spoke to Paige was so much more different than how she had spoken to her earlier. It was full of hope and pleasure, as if Emily would in fact look for Paige with a smile and some transparent excuse.
Spencer opened her eyes to witness it. Paige was seated on the armrest of a love seat, in order to be on eye level with Emily. The same doe brown eyes, two of them, full of that warmth she had grown used to seeing. Her hair was shorter, pulled back in a small ponytail, reminding Spencer of the way she wore it their junior year. But Paige looked years different than the girl she was in high school and the Paige she had become friends with.
This Paige was solid looking. Heavy, well-muscled but insulated with a small layer of fat all over poured into a blue jumpsuit. Large and imposing, a figure that Spencer associated with the prison gym free-weights and bench-presses.
Spencer gasped. If she was living the life that Paige had, then Paige had been living hers. She had thought she had just not gone to prison. She hadn't thought that meant that she had traded places with Paige.
"You-" Spencer tried to sit up.
"Spencer." Emily warned, her hands raised in front of her. "Sit down."
"Easy. You might have hit your head." Paige stood up. But Emily placed herself in between them. Emily's tone of voice wasn't out of concern for her. She thought Spencer was going to start yelling at Paige. Spencer pushed herself up into a sitting position.
"Her head is fine." Emily said coldly.
Spencer stared at Emily, mouth agape. She had never spoken to her with such anger and distaste. In her memory she had never known Emily to speak to anyone like that.
"This is wrong." Spencer whimpered. She hung her head and squeezed her hands in her lap.
"I really need to get to my clinic." Emily's voice softened. "Try to eat something that isn't fermented."
She didn't have to look up to know that Emily was leaving. And that Paige was going to go with her. She was proven right when she heard the steps of Paige's heavy work boots.
"Mrs. Hastings, like I told Em- uh, your wife, my crew is putting in some new wiring for your building so if you need anything, I'll be happy to come by." Paige said in a concerned but careful way.
Spencer nodded glumly. Paige was still the same. There was sincerity in her words. She just wanted to offer her help even if there was a chance that Spencer would throw it back in her face. Somehow that part of Paige had survived prison.
A door opened and a series of beeps went off. Then the door shut. And just like that she was alone.
She must have sat on that couch for a long while wondering what went wrong. What happened between her and Emily? How did Paige end up in prison in her place? There had to be answers. She got up to explore.
The apartment on second inspection was cold. It wasn't a home. It was a display of success. The furniture that she thought was so tasteful earlier, was now sterile. It was calculated, chosen by price instead of comfort. It was all sharp corner and hard edges. The frames on the wall were full of tasteful paintings and photography but no family photos of firsts or holidays or birthdays.
Her heart sank. A child didn't live here.
Spencer's eyes widened in shock. That had to be a mistake.
"Teddy!" She ran back to the hallway. She threw every door open, hurrying to the next one when she didn't find a canopy bed, crayon drawings or a lavender backpack. "Teddy. Be in here. Please!"
The last door she tried she found another bedroom. It wasn't Teddy's. And it wasn't a guest bedroom. It was warm and cozy. It was lived in and inviting. She stepped further inside. The bed was neatly made. There was a worn small knit owl, perched in a place of reverence on one of the pillows.
Was this where Emily slept? Was it so bad that she couldn't share a bed with Spencer? Where she and Emily ever happy?
She sat on the bed and hugged a pillow to her chest. It smelt like Emily. Sweetness mixed with that clarity just before it rains. It gave her some comfort. She looked at the nightstand. Its drawer wasn't properly closed. She pulled it open.
Inside were envelopes, dozens upon dozens. She knew the return address. If she had ever wrote letters from prison, it would be the one she'd use. The letters were to Emily. She didn't have to guess at who the sender was.
What the hell happened to them?
They were married, but there was this great distance between them. It seemed that it came so easy to a Hastings. It was like drifting away from the shore, going further and further out. And you didn't notice until you were too far out and too late to save.
Paige still gave Emily something that she couldn't. She was an anchor. There was no drift between those two apparently. Prison didn't sever that link.
Spencer flopped back on the bed. The owl toppled over. She picked it up. Teddy's owl. The little girl had said Emily had made it for her while Paige was pregnant. Now, it had been made for a child they never had.
She knew Emily had always wanted kids. She wondered if they had tried to have a child, only to have a miscarriage as well. Then had Spencer been too selfish and consumed with her career that she didn't do what Paige had done. So no Teddy. No children.
Maybe it was for the best that they didn't bring a child into this loveless marriage.
She heard a small series of beeps sound somewhere in the apartment, followed by a voice calling her name. She got off the bed and went into the hall.
"Em?" She called out softly. She wanted to see Emily, but was wary of her. She didn't think she could look her in the eye. The other woman didn't want anything to do with her.
"Spencer, there you are!" Aria was standing in the living room
"Aria?" It was definitely her friend. Her hair was shorter too, in a bob cut. But then the smile and friendly eyes were still the same.
"You know who I ran into on my way here? Paige McCullers!" Aria put her handbag down on an armchair. "She got... big. But she looks good for someone that spent twenty years in prison."
Aria confirmed it. She had seen the letters but hearing it from the other woman had her reeling. She wanted the other woman's life, but she wouldn't wish her life on her worst enemy. And Paige was a friend.
"I'm sorry. You probably hate that she's working here in the building. I know how you feel about her." Aria stepped in close and gave her a hug.
"Can we not talk about her?" Spencer didn't want to think about the years Paige had spent in her place. Twenty years. Five more than she had suffered through.
"Okay. I have something that will make you forget all about her." Aria leaned up and kissed her. Spencer gasped and she used that opportunity to put her tongue in her mouth. One hand was in her hair, pulling her closer and the other was grabbing at her chemise, raising it up against her thigh.
Spencer managed to push her away, in shock "What are you doing?"
"The last time you talked about us changing things up a bit. I thought that meant-" Aria frowned.
"The last time?" Spencer put her fingertips up to her lips confused. "Us?"
"Spencer, I know Paige being here is getting to you. But if she and Emily are getting close, I really don't think you have a right to get mad." Aria looked disappointed in her. "This isn't fair to anyone. You should let her go."
Aria looked hurt, but not surprised. "I guess you'll always want her. Even if it destroys you both."
There was a knocking at the door. Since Spencer wasn't making a move, Aria walked over and opened it. Paige was standing there holding a brown paper bag.
"Hey, Aria. Spencer, my crew ordered lunch from the deli down the street. And they messed up the order and gave us some extra sandwiches. And I thought..." Paige seemed to notice Aria's smeared lipstick and how Spencer's chemise was hanging off her shoulder. She narrowed her eyes.
"Thanks for the offer, Paige. But I was just leaving. You look good by the way. Bye, Spencer. Take care of yourself." Aria gave her a sad smile and then left.
"What exactly did I just interrupt?" Paige crossed her arms threateningly.
"Nothing." Spencer stammered. She could never look the woman in the eye when she had been caught in the wrong. She still respected Paige even if their roles had been reversed. She still wanted Paige's approval.
"Didn't look like nothing. You know what, Spencer. I can't believe you. You have everything. A great job. This apartment. Emily. And it's still not enough." Paige strode toward her. "It's not enough that you put me in prison for something I didn't do. And you know I didn't. But you kept your mouth shut because then there would be proof that the great Spencer Hastings was wrong about something. I spent a lot of years thinking of what I was going to do to you when I got out."
Spencer took some steps back. Paige always had this physical presence, now she had the size to back it up. Paige's fists were clenched and there was no doubt in her mind that she could deal her some serious damage. But she just closed her eyes and exhaled sharply.
"That's the fucked up thing. That people see me and I'm the bad guy." The anger in Paige's voice changed into something else. Disappointment. It was all over her face. Then there was something she knew from other prisoners and guards the first few years of prison. Pity. The other woman shook her head.
"But man, if they could see who you really are, they'd be horrified. A lying, cold, selfish control freak that put her wife in a wheelchair. And you're still a fucking drunk! But I guess if you can make a rival for Emily's affections disappear then I'm sure all those DUIs are no problem."
Spencer's throat went dry. "What did you say?"
"You heard me." Paige bared her teeth as she glared.
"Emily's in a wheelchair because of me?"
Paige gave a bark of bitter laughter. "Did you actually drink so much that you actually forgot that it's your fault?"
"No." Paige shook her head sadly. "We already know you're the liar. The best there is."
Spencer balled her fists up, but she didn't strike out at Paige. She screamed. She picked up the closest thing, some kind of glass bowl, and threw it against the wall. She slumped down onto the couch, and covered her face with her hands. "It's my fault."
"You really don't remember, do you?"
Spencer just continued to sob. She felt Paige sit down next to her. She shifted closer to the woman, and just leaned into her. Paige's muscles tensed underneath her, but soon she there was an arm around her shoulder.
"I'm so sorry. I just wanted-" Spencer clenched her eyes shut and pressed her face into Paige's side.
Even in this messed up nightmare, Paige still made her feel safe. How did she come out the other side of prison so intact and together? God, Paige could even do prison better than her.
"Spencer, Paige?" Emily sounded concerned.
"Hey, Em. Didn't hear you come in." Paige's voice boomed, happy to see the other woman. But Spencer didn't look up. "Are you usually home this early?"
"Aria called me. She said she was worried about Spencer. But she would know, wouldn't she?" Emily sighed. "What happened?"
"She got upset."
"Thanks for staying with her, Paige. I'll take it from here."
"I'm staying." Paige offered.
"Alright. Could you make us some coffee?" Emily gave in.
"Okay." Paige agreed. "And where do you keep your broom and dustpan?"
Spencer didn't want Paige to get up, but she knew she had to. Emily wanted to talk to her alone apparently, but Paige would be staying close. Not there for her, but to make sure Emily would be okay talking to her. That she would be able to step in if Spencer got "upset" again.
Paige got up, but squeezed her shoulder. The woman went into the kitchen, leaving her alone with a somber Emily.
"What's wrong now?" Emily sighed.
"Everything." Spencer wrung her hands in her lap. "How did that happen?"
"Honestly, we let it." Emily shook her head sadly. She brought her chair closer. "We've been circling the drain for so long. There really isn't anything to save."
"It's my fault."
Emily didn't deny it. "You're not the girl I fell in love with in high school."
"I'm sorry." Spencer choked back a sob.
"I hope you beat those demons you're fighting." Emily put a hand on Spencer's knee. "Instead of trying to drown them all."
Spencer couldn't help herself and she let out a small laugh. There was that dark humor she herself favored. Emily gave her a small smile. They were quiet for a beat, enjoying a moment between the two of them.
"I wish I could make things better for you." Spencer looked at Emily sadly. "I should be giving you everything you want, but I just screwed it all up. You would have been better off without me."
"We were happy in the beginning. At least we had that. It was perfect."
"But it didn't last." Spencer looked down.
"No." Emily shook her head. In all her movements, Spencer could see this mournfulness. This great loss. Spencer wondered what she was missing. Or who.
She could hear Paige coming back. She was holding a broom and a dustpan. She glanced at the two of them. "Don't mind me. I'll just take care of this glass while the coffee brews."
Paige crouched down and swept up the shards of glass. Spencer watched her work. The other woman still possessed the grace she had in the other world. It wasn't a word one would associate with Paige, but it was a sort of grace and strength unique to the other woman. It was in how she ran and how she swam. It was amazing to know that her gentleness wasn't loss while she was in prison.
It was a gentleness that Emily needed in her life. Paige was someone that could give her everything she needed.
She watched Paige head back into the kitchen. She sighed.
"Emily, you and Paige-"
"Spencer, I told you we're just friends. You just can't let it go." Emily sighed in frustration. "But I can see how you'd be confused with the way you and Aria are just friends."
"You know about that?" Spencer's eyes welled up with tears. Apparently Emily knew more about the affair than she did.
"I had my suspicions but you just confirmed." Emily ran her hand through her hair. She didn't seem angry, just defeated. "You couldn't even touch me after the accident."
"Paige said I caused the accident. Was I drinking that night?" It was an agonizing question. But Spencer already knew the answer.
"Just a glass of wine at dinner. But we were arguing. You took your eyes off the road for just one second." Emily said. She looked at Spencer with worry. "Don't you remember?"
Spencer closed her eyes tightly and clutched at her head. What had she done?
She had ruined everyone's lives. Aria was waiting for her and Spencer just couldn't return those feelings. Paige had gone to prison instead of her. Maybe she hadn't put her in there, but apparently she had left the woman there to rot.
She wasn't the person that Emily needed. Their apartment wasn't a home. It was a mausoleum to the life they could have had. They didn't have any children. Teddy didn't exist. She put Emily in a wheelchair.
They weren't happy.
"You should be." Spencer looked up at Emily.
"I should be what?" Emily still wore that worried look on her face. There was a fear in that look, that she wasn't afraid of Spencer in that moment but afraid for her.
It hurt Spencer to say that; to admit that she wasn't making Emily happy. But she knew it was hurting Emily to stay with her.
"Spencer, you're scaring me. What's wrong?" Emily brushed some of Spencer's hair out of her face tenderly.
With that move, Spencer knew. Emily still loved her. She could see it in her eyes. That was what made this so hard. The smallest of sparks could still mean warmth. A light in the darkness. It could be enough. She couldn't afford to think like that.
What was it she used to say about hope? It breeds eternal misery.
She chuckled to herself. "The worse thing that ever happened to me, was the best thing for everyone else."
"What are you talking about?" Emily's brow furrowed in confusion.
"You should be with someone that makes you happy." Spencer leaned forward and took Emily's hands in her own. "I know Paige could be that someone. It's not too late for you."
Like it was for the two of them.
Spencer kissed Emily. This was goodbye. It was the best thing she could give to her. She walked away once and she could do it again.
It was as easy as waking up.
Don't hate me. I've always been a fan of What ifs. The Queen Has Been Overthrown started out as a What if...
It's just a dream. Well a nightmare of Spencer, who doesn't think she's worth a damn. Or maybe it's a real place somewhere out there. In another world.
If y'all have any questions about what happened... you know what to do.