A/N: This is a six shot, and it documents Spoby making a decision to maintain a long distance relationship while she goes to college, the hardships they face, and how everything boils over in the end. This one is to do with the decision. The story will expand over four years, but it only going to have six parts. I hope everyone likes it.
Also, I dedicate this story to Cat, Aurelie and Suzana aka my Fab Spobette Gang...I miss you ladies.
We've got the rest of our lives
and I still believe that it's ours for the taking
and I know we're gonna make it
one day, one day at a time
one day at a time
One Day at a Time
Desperate to hit the shower and sleep away his tiredness, Toby unlocked the door to his spacious loft and stepped inside. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee hit his nose, and he scrunched up his eyebrows in confusion. Granted, living right above the Brew guaranteed that the delicious smells of coffee and other goodies often wafted into his loft, but it never smelled so strongly of the drink. He immediately looked up, his eyes scanning for anything out of the ordinary. To his pleasant surprise, the sight that greeted him was more than welcoming. Sitting at the table surrounded by a range of books and a laptop with earphones plugged into her ears was none other than his precious girlfriend.
"Spencer?" He asked, walking upto her and touching her shoulder gently. "What are you doing here?"
"Heeeeeeyyyyy," she greeted, looking up at him with a smile. He noticed happily that she was clad in his t-shirt and boxers. "How was Yardley?"
"It was wonderful," he said happily. He had been waiting with bated breath to tell her about his time away at work, and was extremely glad that she was in his house, regardless of why. "I had such an amazing time. The people there were so friendly, and I really did learn a lot. The experience was amazing." He paused, wondering how she would react to the next part of his news. "They actually want me to work for them full time."
"Wow Tobes, that's great," Spencer said. Her smile had faltered for a bit, but she regained her composure immediately. "I am so happy for you." Hesitation laced her words as she continued. "Are you...are you going to take it up?"
"I am considering it," Toby said. Truth be told, Yardley wasn't that far away. Though it ached his heart to be away from Spencer, he had been giddy with excitement at the prospect of a full time job. He loved what he did, and it was nice to work in a place where people truly appreciated him for the work he did, and not the unfortunate reputation he held.
"I am so happy for you," she repeated, and he knew that she meant it.
He sat down at the table, and reached for her hands, squeezing them gently. She returned the gesture, and smiled at him. "Not that I am not happy to see you...what are you doing here?"
"Oh, right. Actually, I had a lot of thinking to do, and I needed to get away to a place where I could feel free and get the space that I needed. I didn't have my loving boyfriend with me, so I figured his apartment would suffice for the time being."
Toby chuckled. "Are you okay?"
She nodded her head. "I am. It's just...with all of the 'A' crap over, I finally realized just how much I had put my real life on hold. There's just a lot of decisions to make right now."
"Anything I can help you with?" Toby asked, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
"Right now, I could seriously do with some coffee and breakfast," Spencer said, pouting. "You think you could get me some?"
"Haven't you had enough?" Toby asked sniffing. "This place reeks of coffee."
"It is a good smell," Spencer said, rolling her eyes. "You just don't seem to have very good taste."
He let out a laugh, getting up. "Anything else I can get you?"
"No, that's enough. Are you sure though? You just got back home..."
"Don't worry about it," Toby said dismissively, walking towards the door. "I'll be right back."
He turned around, only to have her leap into his arms, her delicate arms going around his neck, pulling him close. His own circled her waist, and he held her appreciatively. On instinct, he closed his eyes, resting his head on her shoulder. She was snuggled into him like a child, and he tightened his grip on her, not wanting to let go. Just like that, all the tiredness and lethargy washed away, and once again, he realized just how much he loved this girl. There was no one, nothing in this world that could heal him and save him like her, and he couldn't imagine a world without her in it.
"Have I told you lately just how much I love you?" Her words were barely audible, but he could hear her at any time...anywhere.
He took a deep breath, inhaling her smell. The comfort it gave him still surprised him, after all this time. "I missed you. So much."
"I missed you too, boyfriend." He smiled, pulling apart from her. There was a lazy, happy smile in her eyes, and he never wanted that to go away. He knew just how much pain she had felt in the recent past. If anyone deserved happiness, it was his girlfriend.
"I love you," he said, capturing her lips in a kiss. She responded enthusiastically, and he felt himself getting lost in her. Time hadn't changed how he felt about her; in fact, it only grew. He pulled away, and pressed his lips to her temple. He could feel her smile. "So much."
"I said it first this time," she said playfully, leaving a trail of kisses on his neck. "Ha!"
"I still kicked your ass at scrabble though," he said, looking into her eyes.
Annoyance kicked in those beautiful brown eyes of hers, and she punched his shoulders. "I don't think I love you so much any more."
He laughed out loud, extremely glad that things were so normal between them. It felt nice to be like this...just two people in love, getting past life's obstacles as they came, and not being thrust into a war. Well unless that war was scrabble though. He'd always happily fight that war and kick her ass.
"I'll be right back," he said, stealing a quick kiss before he disappeared through the door.
Spencer smiled longingly at the door, love lit in her eyes. Adoration for her boyfriend spread through her, and she felt her nerves calm down. Being away from her home had certainly helped in her decision making process, but with Toby's calming presence, she felt a lot better. She went back to the books, eager to get done with all of her work. Despite being cooped up in his house for the past three days, she wasn't any closer to making a life altering decision as she was before.
Sighing deeply, she sat back on the table, pulling out another brochure. Harvard University. Oh, how proud her parents would be if that was the choice she made. An offer for a full scholarship lay right next to the brochure, and she read through it again.
Her parents had been overjoyed at receiving the letter, and even seemed to overlook the fact that she wouldn't be joining the family alumni in University of Pennsylvania. Though she had been disappointed at first, now she felt like it was for the good. There was just a lot of pressure to deal with by following her family's footsteps, and with everything she had been dealing with off late, she could do without it.
Even though she knew that there were people out there who would kill for a Harvard scholarship, her heart wasn't set on it. It was for a pre-law course, something that would increase her chances of getting into Harvard Law.
True, being a Hastings had guaranteed that she would have the lawyers blood course through her veins, and a younger she would have jumped down at the opportunity, but right now, she didn't feel so sure. She had proved time and again that she had the mettle for being a great lawyer, but her heart had been elsewhere.
It wasn't that her competitive spirit had died down, it was just that after everything that had been going on, she desperately wanted to be in a place that wouldn't put her through levels of stress and pressure that would crumble her.
"Coffee and breakfast for two."
Toby entered the room carrying two glasses of freshly brewed coffee and a box of food. She felt her nervousness ebbing away, and she got up to take the box from his hand. With excitement that resembled a little girl's, Spencer peered into it, a wide grin forming on her lips.
"Cronuts? I thought you thought they were disgusting." She pulled out one and took a large bite.
"And delicious," Toby said, placing the coffee on the table. He helped himself to one of the fat filled goodies, and sighed in satisfaction. "I am practically eating death right now."
"Thank you for breakfast, boyfriend," she said, mimicking her own words from months ago. She sat down at the table, taking a large sip of her coffee. As always, it was just the way she liked it.
"Now that you have some food in your system, care to share what was actually bothering you?" He wasted absolutely no time. Knowing that there was no way she could wriggle herself out of this one, she pushed a bunch of her brochures to him. He picked them up and went through a few of them. Raising his eyebrows, he looked at her. "You got into all of them?"
There was no surprise in his voice. "Yes. And now I have no idea which one to accept. I even have a full scholarship from Harvard, and I know my parents expect me to go there."
"That's brilliant, Spencer!" His eyes were full of pride and happiness. "Is it what you want, though?"
"I don't even want to get into law, Toby," Spencer said with a frown. "I know it is what is expected of me, but like I told you, it is actually my worst nightmare. The constant comparisons to my family would never end, and it would end up being a constant struggle."
"You are incomparable, you know that right?" He offered her a genuine smile, and she felt truly comforted.
"Thank you Tobes, but that is not the point. There is just so much expected of me at this point, and I don't know if I am ready to live upto all of that. I don't want to."
He nodded, willing her to continue.
"The thing is, it is such a great opportunity. I would be an idiot to turn it down. Not everyone gets a full scholarship to Harvard!"
"Not everyone is Spencer Hastings."
She felt her heart warm at his confidence in her. If there was one person that believed in her even during her worst days, it was Toby. His unflinching loyalty, dedication and devotion to her helped her in ways that she couldn't even express.
Despite all of that, she looked beaten down and upset. Toby picked up on her emotions as he always did, and reached for hand across the table, entwining his fingers in hers. "Hey...Spence. It is okay for you to pass on that, alright? It doesn't make you any less intelligent, smart or awesome. You've got to do what your heart needs you to. What are the other colleges you have gotten into?"
"Even Yale, New York University and Columbia want me," Spencer said, not hiding the hint of pride in her voice. Just because she wasn't inclined to take up their offers didn't mean that she didn't love the fact that she had gotten into the Universities that she had worshipped while growing up. "All of them are business courses."
"I was thinking of studying corporate law."
"But you said you didn't want to do law. Why were you taking it up in the first...?"
"Because that's what everyone expects of me, Toby! How difficult is that to understand?" Spencer snapped. Seeing the shock on his face, she rubbed her temples and looked at him apologetically. "Look, I am sorry for that. I shouldn't have snapped at you like that. It's just all of this pressure is getting to me, and I am unable to make a coherent decision..."
"Relax," he said sternly, squeezing her hand. "Now take a deep breath and let it go." Looking strangely at him, she did as she was told. "Not, take a sip of your coffe and take another deep breath." He looked at her encouragingly. "Feeling better? Now tell me if there is at least one course that you really want to do. Which is the one that sets your heart racing at the prospect of learning it? It doesn't matter if it is from a big college or not. What matters is how you feel about it."
Meekly, she looked around the pile of brochures and pulled out a pale gray one and handed it over to Toby.
"Stonewell College, Minessota?" He observed, going through it. "Now what do you want to study there?"
"Interior designing," she said. "It isn't Ivy League, Toby, but it offers the right amount of freedom and flexibility. I know that I haven't talked about designing much, but everything about the course structure feels right. I am getting a partial scholarship to there as well, and I want more than anything to take it up."
"Then do it!" Toby said, as if it was the easiest thing in the world.
"Only if it were that easy," Spencer said, shaking her head. "There are so many things to consider, to think about."
"Name them," he said. There was no challenging tone in his voice, just concern and encouragement.
"Well first off, my parents are going to be monumentally disappointed," Spencer said, looking down. "There are so many expectations riding on me, and despite how much I wanna break free from their shackles, I am afraid of the consequences. We've just gotten back on good terms, I don't want to ruin that."
"And then there is the course of study itself. As much as I love designing, I know that in the Hastings family, it is not really something that is respected. No one talks about the number of houses they have designed during family reunions. And then there is the final and most important one: you."
"Me?" Toby seemed genuinely surprised. "Spencer, you don't have to worry about me. I will follow you anywhere, okay? It doesn't matter. Please do not make this decision based on me."
"But that is not fair!" Spencer exclaimed indignantly. "You seemed so happy about Yardley, and I know how much it means to you. You've been waiting for a full time job for ages, and I cannot be that selfish and ask you to relocate."
"Nothing means more to me than you," Toby said quickly. "You know that. You are my life."
Tears stung her eyes, and she brushed them away quickly. Toby and her did not whisper sweet nothings into each others ears all the time, but sometimes, out of the blue, Toby said things that completely swept her off her feet. His words meant more to her than she could tell him, but she shook her head in disagreement.
"I don't want you to do that," she said. "You love your job, I know you do. Just because I want to go to college far away doesn't mean you have to drop all of that. This is brilliant opportunity, Toby. And I know that opportunities don't knock on your door twice. Besides, we are young. We have the rest of our lives, and for a strong future together, it is important that we develop ourselves individually first. And if anyone can roll this long distance thing, it is you and me."
Toby seemed touched at her gesture, and smiled at her. "I would like to say the same for you. If Stonewell is where your heart lies, you should go there. Nothing else matters."
"I love how supportive you are, Toby, but my family won't react the same way. You know that."
"Give them a chance, Spencer. People might surprise you."
She took a deep breath and leaned against her chair, pulling her hand away. From the minute she had applied to Stonewell, she had been hoping against hope that she would get in. Interior designing was something that had caught her fancy since she was quite young, and the program at Stonewell seemed perfect for her. No part of her felt like she was settling for something small, though she knew that's what her family and friends would think. At times she really wished she could strip away all the expectations that were thrust on her, and just do what her heart craved for.
Toby was perhaps the only person in the whole wide world who let her do as she pleased without judging her. It still surprised her how he never seemed to care what her choices for her life were. Her career, her education...he always wanted made her happy, and never expected anything of her. It made her heart glad that she had someone like him in her life. He was the rock that kept her steady and strong.
"You should do what makes you happy, not what pleases someone else, okay?" Toby said. "Your career is your future. You don't want to be stuck doing something that makes you unhappy, just because that is what is expected of you."
"It all sounds so easy," Spencer said shutting her eyes. "None of it truly is."
"Honestly? It is." He said. She felt his strong arms on her shoulders, gently massaging her. Unable to contain herself, she let out a small moan and sighed.
"Not when you're Spencer Hastings."
"Well Spencer Hastings can change her own fate. Remember how you once told me that you don't believe in fate or destiny? What happened to that? Fuck what people think of you, Spence. This is your life. It should be your decision."
His fingers made their way down her back, and she felt a shiver of pleasure shoot through her. Oh! How good that felt. "I want to go to Stonewell."
"Then send them a confirmation mail, Spence."
"What about us?"
"We will be fine. I told you, I am ready to follow you to the end of the earth, that is not a question."
"No, no. You need to take up Yardley. I know how much you want to."
Truth be told, he desperately wanted to. Working in Yardley had given him a sense of freedom and exhilaration that he seriously craved. It made him happy, and gave him personal satisfaction. The people there were extremely friendly, and treated him like just another co-worker. No one pried for extra information, no one judged him. He had even made more friends in a week there than he had done in his whole life in Rosewood.
While returning home, he had been perplexed about how to tell Spencer about it. Despite their relationship being stronger than ever, he hated leaving her. He knew that she would be extremely supportive of him, but the kind of bond and attachment the two of them had made separations like this very difficult.
"Are you sure? Spence, I would drop anything for you."
"Stop it, Toby. You have a life too, apart from me. Like you told me that which college I go to should strictly be about me, whether you take up the job in Yardley should be strictly about you. So tell me. Do you want to go there? Do you want to take up that job?"
"I do," he said simply. "People there were so different to me, Spence. No one cared where I came from, or what I had done. They appreciated my work and treated me like an adult...an equal. To say it felt wonderful is an understatement."
"Then go for it Tobes," she said, resting her head on his hand. "I know it's going to be really hard, but we can make it through anything, I know we can."
He knew that too. After all the crap that they had been in together, long distance seemed so much easier. She slid out of her chair, turning around to face him. She cupped his face in her hands, and looked him in the eye.
"How about this? I take up Stonewell if you take up Yardley. All my life I have seen a lonely, singular path for myself. But now, I see a future with you in it. I want a future with you in it. But for that, we need to work for it. To develop and grow as a couple, we need to be satisfied as individuals first. Otherwise, it is going to be one big mess, despite how much we believe it won't. It is Utopian to think otherwise. You have always put me first. It is time to do something for yourself now."
As much as he hated to do so, he agreed with her. He was so utterly devoted to her, he would do anything for her and would follow her anywhere, but he knew the importance of fulfilling some of his own goals first, especially now that he was doing so well in his job.
"Okay," he said finally, pulling her into his arms. "What did I do to deserve you?"
"Funny how I wonder the same about you everyday," Spencer said into his chest, and he could feel her laughing. "We are going to make it."
"I know we are."
"Will you come home with me? I want you to be there while I tell my family. It would mean a lot to me if you came."
"Of course," he said without hesitation. As if that was even a question. "I'll be there. You don't have to worry."
"Thank you," she said, pulling out of his embrace and pressing her lips to his cheeks. "I think I should probably take a shower. I haven't taken one in two days."
"Mind if I join you? I've been feeling kinda sweaty myself."
Spencer scanned him from top to bottom and grinned. "Only if you promise not to wear everything."
"Oh, I wouldn't want to disappoint you," he said, pulling off his shirt and following her to the bathroom upstairs.
"I can't believe that went so well," Spencer said, her cheeks flushed with happiness. "They just...accepted me. I totally did not see that coming."
"I told you that people could surprise you," Toby said, pinching her rosy cheeks. "I kinda expected them to give in and be support you. I think they have realized how toxic all the pressure they have put you through has been."
Spencer nodded, knowing he was referring to her Aderall abuse. After that, her mother had broken down and apologized for what she had put her through. Spencer had been thoroughly surprised, not having expected such a reaction from her strong willed mother. Her father too, had apologized and had finally admitted that Spencer's mental health and well being came before everything else. Things had been a lot easier since then, and she was extremely glad for it.
"You're right," Spencer said smiling. "It feels good, taking that decision. I think I am going to like Stonewell."
"I am glad about that," Toby said. "You deserve to be happy, more than anyone else."
She leaned into him, resting her head on his chest. The steady beating of his heart was so wonderful, so soothing that she wished she could lay like this forever. "I am going to miss you so much though."
"I was thinking about something," Toby said, looking down at her. "If you don't mind...for the time we have left together, do you want to move in with me?"
Spencer gasped in surprise. Sure, she stayed over at his house half the time, but they had never talked about such an official move. "Toby, are you sure?"
"I am absolutely, completely sure," Toby said, kissing the side of her head. "We have a few months together, and I would like to spend every single moment of it with you. So. Would you move in with me?"
"That sounds nauseating, Tobes," she said with a chuckle. "But yes!"
"You're mean," he said, pulling her into him.
He kissed the side of her head again, and Spencer smiled to herself. She tightened the grip she had around his waist, and slowly closed her eyes. Sure, the future seemed uncertain and scary. Everything was about to change, but with Toby by her side, she felt like she could face it all. She felt like the luckiest woman on earth for having found a man like him. Not once in her life would she have thought she'd fall so hopelessly in love at the age of sixteen, and find someone who would be this supportive and wonderful to her.
"We will be fine," she said again, before she drifted of into a comfortable sleep.
So how was it? YAY/NAY? REVIEW! :D