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Almost (And Then)

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almost (ȯl-ˌmōst) adverb: very nearly but not exactly or entirely

*

“You’re wrong.”

Spencer lets out an exaggerated scoff. “I’m wrong? Absolutely not. You are wildly incorrect.”

You pull the blanket up to your chin, sending a glare his way. “You just can’t accept the fact that I’m right. David Tennant is the best Doctor.”

“You’re just saying that because you think he’s cute.”

“And you don’t?” You raise an eyebrow at him, chuckling when he rolls his eyes. “Ha, I got you.”

“Just because I find him aesthetically pleasing doesn’t mean that he’s the best Doctor by default,” Spencer mutters under his breath. “Besides, best is a matter of opinion. It’s all highly subjective.”

“A matter of opinion? That’s rich coming from the guy who literally just said that I was wildly incorrect.”

“Well, it’s because you are.” Spencer says it like it’s one of the innumerable facts rattling around in his brain, irrefutable and true. He grins at you, a bright, luminous smile that’s only aided by the teasing tone in his voice.

You groan dramatically, whacking his arm and earning a high-pitched yelp from him. “I hate you,” you say. “I hate you so much.”

He knows it’s a lie. His smile only grows wider. “Yeah, I know.”

“You’re so goddamn annoying.” You lean closer to him until your faces are mere centimeters apart. You lower your voice and say again, “So annoying.” Your eyes dart to his lips for just the briefest instant―brief enough that he tells himself he’s imagining it.

There’s a heavy pause, neither of you moving away from the other. He can feel your breath on his face and he swallows thickly. “Now that’s rich.” The words come out weaker than he intended, thready almost.

There’s another moment as an internal war rages in Spencer’s head. All it would take is one quick lurch forward to close the distance between the two of you. He wonders briefly what your lips would feel like against his, how your mouth would taste.

It’s not the first time that these thoughts have pulled at him and it surely won’t be the last. The only thing holding him back―well, maybe not quite the only thing but definitely the main thing―is the reaction he’s certain he would get from you if he did it.

It would ruin everything. Your friendship is the most important thing in the world to him―you’re the most important thing in the world to him. He can’t lose you. He wouldn’t survive it.

You’re biting your lip now and Spencer’s desperately trying to look away. You’re still so close―almost too close, if that were even possible. (It’s not.) He shifts a little, startling you out of whatever trance you seem to have fallen in. You blink rapidly, a small grin playing on your lips. “Dingus,” you say with a laugh before turning back towards the television as though nothing’s happened. As though Spencer didn’t just almost kiss his best friend.

Spencer finds himself missing your proximity as soon as you move, but it’s immediately replaced by the feel of your head resting on his shoulder. Despite the many nights spent like this, he still barely dares to breathe.

He’s too worried that he’ll break the spell.

*

“Oh, it is on, baby.” The nickname slips out of your mouth like it’s second nature and before Spencer even has time to process it, a retaliatory snowball smacks him square in the cheek. “Sorry!” you say with a laugh-turned-shriek that tells him that you’re not even the slightest bit sorry at all. “I was trying to hit your shoulder!”

Guess he’s not the only one with terrible aim here.

The cold sting that lingers on his face is the only thing that’s able to keep the way your voice sounded saying ‘baby’ out of his head―although he’s certain it’ll be on a never-ending loop the moment he’s alone.

A second snowball whacks him (this time actually in the shoulder), jerking him out of his thoughts. “You are the worst,” he says, hunching over and scooping up his own handful of snow. He tosses it rather lamely and when it lands right at your feet, he thinks you might just about burst from laughter.

He can’t help but stand there and stare at you as you try to catch your breath. Your cheeks and nose are rosy from the cold and the pom-pom on the top of your hat is completely ridiculous―and by that he means absolutely adorable, but he’ll never admit that to you.

Spencer’s so literally frozen staring at you that he barely blinks until he feels the thwack of another snowball on his chest. Now you’re beating him three to one (not that he’s surprised). He quickly weighs his options, fully aware that if he throws another snowball it will probably just flop pathetically somewhere in between the two of you.

You eye him warily, watching the gears in that genius brain of his turning. He stoops over to grab some snow, and when he stands up you can see that little gleam in his eye. “Oh, no,” you say, taking a step back. “Oh, no, no, no. You better not do what I know you’re about to do.”

He just grins, packing the snow into a misshapen little ball in his mittened hands as he walks slowly towards you.

You take another step back, but it appears that Spencer’s long legs have finally given him an advantage. He catches up to you easily, and you yelp when he shoves the snow down the back of your jacket.

“You absolute little twerp,” you all but growl. “You’re going to regret that.”

He lets out a loud laugh at that, but you quite literally wipe the grin off his face, scooping up an armful of snow and dumping it unceremoniously onto the top of his head.

“That’s so rude,” Spencer tries to say, but it comes out so high-pitched that all you can do is giggle. He tries to brush off the snow to no avail. As soon as his face is clean, another snowball hits him, going straight down the front of his coat.

“Payback, baby,” you cheer, well on your way to making another snowball that will inevitably end up somewhere under his clothes.

There it is again: baby. He tries not to let it derail him too much. He has more important things to focus on―like not dying of hypothermia. You’re distracted by your own successes, still giggling to yourself as you pack the snow in your hands. Spencer’s not one to let an opportunity like this pass him by. He takes one step, then two, closing the gap between you.

You realize that he’s beside you a moment too late. Just a second later you’re knocked flat onto your back into a pile of (thankfully) fluffy snow. The shriek you let out as the snow immediately goes down your jacket, your pants, even your boots is almost inhuman. Spencer’s standing above you, ridiculously tall and much too cheerful. “I can’t stand you,” you say through gritted, chattering teeth.

Spencer barely has time to open his mouth to respond before a pair of hands wraps around his ankles and he’s pulled to the ground with a sudden thud. Snow is suddenly all over him―all over. You’re right beside him, and he desperately tries to get a handful of snow. He manages one quick toss, and you splutter as it goes up your nose and in your mouth.

“You’re evil,” you say with a laugh. “Pure evil.” Out of the corner of your eye, you spot him scooping up another pile of snow. “Oh, no. Absolutely not.”

Spencer tries to lob it at you anyway from his awkward angle next to you. His hand only makes it halfway to its destination before your fingers encircle his wrist. He blinks and in a flurry of movement you push him back onto the ground. He tries to get back up, but his arms are somehow stuck and―it takes him a moment to realize what’s happening―you’re on top of him?

He can’t quite fathom how it happened, but you’ve somehow managed to swing yourself up and over until you're straddling his hips, both of your hands holding his arms above his head, pinning them to the ground.

Spencer can’t breathe.

He can’t breathe, can’t think, can’t move. (Not that he wants to move.)

“I win,” you say cheerfully, as though you aren’t on top of him.

Spencer swallows and nods, unable to form a complete thought.

“Say it.” You don’t get a response from him, and you lean in closer. Now your lips are only centimeters from his, your rosy nose so close he could reach out and press a kiss to it. You lower your voice, and it does something wildly unfamiliar to Spencer. “Say that I won.”

He can barely look you in the eyes. “You―you won,” he says under his breath.

You let out a bright, clear laugh, getting off of his lap in one fluid motion and flopping back into the snow. Spencer exhales, long and slow, his thoughts consumed with the feel of your body on top of his―wishing that he could have frozen that moment in time.

After another minute or two lying side by side in silence, you stand up with a start. “Come on,” you say, holding your hand out to him. “Let’s go get some hot chocolate.”

You grab his mittened hand, pulling him up easily. The two of you begin your walk back to his apartment, and not once do you let go. You don’t mention it at all, just grasp his hand a little tighter as though it’s casual, as though it’s something that happens every day.

Spencer lets himself pretend―just for a moment―that it is.

*

“You took the last one?” you ask, eyes wide. “You already had three.”

Spencer just shrugs, grinning triumphantly. “It’s been a long day.” The donut in his hand feels like it might as well be a million dollars from the almost lustful way you’re gazing at it. Spencer’s almost tempted to give it to you, just to be nice. Almost.

He’d be much more inclined if he didn’t know that you’d already had two of your own―not quite his astonishing three, but pretty close.

Besides, he just loves donuts.

You stalk over to his desk, an over-exaggerated scowl on your face. You don’t say a word and Spencer eyes you warily, fairly convinced that you’re actually going to snatch the donut right out of his hands.

You don’t. You just sit down on the desk and sigh loudly. “My best friend doesn’t love me,” you announce to anyone who might be within earshot―just Derek and Emily.

They exchange amused glances with matching raised brows, but they don’t say a word.

If only you knew―that was the entire problem.

Spencer can feel the flush crawling up his face. He holds the donut out to you, fully prepared to admit defeat. Even though he knows your pout is fake, it still tugs at his heart.

“Oh, no,” you say, shaking your head. Your voice is teasing and your eyes gleam at him. “I wouldn’t dare take your fourth donut from you. You might go into sugar withdrawal. I don’t want you to collapse.”

Spencer huffs out a breath, giving up. He’s not one to argue when you get like this. He’s just going to eat the damn donut and move on.

He finally, finally lifts the coveted pastry to his mouth. He takes just one bite, closing his eyes as the frosting hits his taste buds. Still just as good as the first one.

There’s a slight pull on the donut and he opens his eyes with a start. You’re right in front of his face―like, right in front of his face―and you’re… you’re chewing?

“Did―did you bite my donut?” he yelps, turning said donut over in his hand to see that, yes indeed, there’s a bite taken out of the other side.

You grin with a mouthful of chocolate frosting, wiping your mouth with the back of your hand. “Yep.” You swallow. “And it was delicious.”

“I was going to give it to you!”

You shrug. “It was more fun this way. Now gimme.” You hold out your hand, clearly convinced that Spencer will be unable to continue eating it now that someone else’s mouth has been on it.

Normally, yes, that would be the case. However―it’s you. He doesn’t mind at all.

He can’t quite find the words to explain all of that. Instead, he just takes another bite and another. And another.

Your jaw drops and you watch as he devours the donut.

Spencer takes one last bite and swallows before leaning in close. You unconsciously do the same, mirroring his movements. Despite the fact that you’re at work, the two of you are staring at one another, lips close enough they could touch if one of you leaned in just a little bit more.

All he can smell is a disgustingly sweet mixture of sugar and frosting and you and it takes everything in him not to kiss you in the middle of the bullpen. He really doesn’t want his coworkers to bear witness to the slap he’s sure it would earn from you.

Instead, he just lowers his voice and says, “I win.”

Your eyes widen, but you don’t say a word.

*

“It’s our turn next!” you say with a loud laugh, pushing a shot-glass towards Spencer. He stares down at it but doesn’t move, and you grab it back almost immediately.

Hey!

It’s too late. You’ve already downed both his and yours―serving only to add to your already tipsy state. Spencer isn’t much for drinking, much less shots, but he might have made an exception if he had known you were going to do that. Although now that he thinks about it, he had known. His reaction time is just apparently nonexistent at the moment.

Maybe he’s drunker than he had thought.

You lean your head on his shoulder, turning towards the small karaoke stage to watch Penelope and Derek fumble their way through a rather interesting rendition of Love Shack. It’s only then that the meaning of your words hits him. “Our turn?” he asks.

You can barely hear him above the din of the bar, but you nod, grinning broadly. “Oh yeah, baby.”

Spencer’s fully prepared to protest, but you’ve called him baby again and you’re looking up at him with such wide, hopeful eyes that he realizes he can’t possibly say no. He sighs, reaching for his drink and taking a hefty gulp of what he hopes might pass for liquid courage.

It still just tastes like vodka.

Before he knows it, the performance happening onstage is over. Derek pulls a giggling Penelope back to the table, and they drop into their seats.

“Bravo,” Emily says, lifting up her glass.

JJ gives a little clap from beside her. “That was… beautiful.”

Penelope and Derek bow, bumping one another’s shoulders. “We’ve been practicing,” Penelope says.

You laugh, taking another sip of your drink. “I want to believe that you’re joking but―”

“She’s not,” Derek finishes with a shameless grin. You raise an eyebrow at him and he just shrugs. “I can’t say no to my pretty lady.”

The table breaks into a fit of laughter, interrupted only when the announcer reads out the names of the next so-called performers―you and Spencer.

Even though he knew it was coming, he still splutters on his drink. Emily cheers much too loudly for it to be supportive; she must know just how bad this is about to be. You just cheer in return, taking one last gulp of your drink and pulling Spencer by the hand.

The stage is tiny and thankfully the lights are so dim that all Spencer can really see is you and the screen with the lyrics. He takes one glance at the song, lyrics highlighted in red and blue, and feels the heat in his face―heat that he tries to write off as being from the liquor.

“You know it?” you ask, handing him a microphone. “This is just the duet version. You be red and I’ll be blue.”

A little known perk of his eidetic memory: one read of the lyrics and one listen of a song and he’s got it down forever. And yeah, he’s heard it before (thanks to Penelope, of course). It takes him approximately 0.3 seconds to read the lyrics and he is good to go.

Well, in terms of knowing the song. In terms of actually singing it? Not so good to go.

Spencer just nods and you hit the play button, starting the instrumental track.

You start to sing and someone lets out a loud whoop from somewhere in the crowd―Penelope, you think. 

“You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I met you. I picked you out, I shook you up and turned you around, turned you into someone new.” 

Spencer can’t breathe. And it’s not that you’re an exquisite singer (although you’re not half bad, all things considered). It’s just that… well, the way you’re looking at him has just about knocked him off his feet. You’re dancing along to the beat, at ease on stage in a way that Spencer will never be, a luminous grin on your face.

It’s when you lean in towards him that he thinks he may never be able to breathe again.

“Don’t, don’t you want me?”

Spencer’s so distracted that he almost misses his cue, only jumping in when you point frantically to the screen.

He’s off-key and a little off-beat, but something comes over him and suddenly he’s belting out the lyrics. It might be that liquid courage, but he’s much more inclined to believe that it has everything to do with you.

“I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar. That much is true.”

You grab his hand in yours, twirling yourself into him. He almost stumbles off the stage, but then he catches himself. He pulls you in closer until your back is against his chest, the both of you swaying to the music as you sing.

“It's much too late to find you think you've changed your mind. You'd better change it back or we will both be sorry.”

On the next crescendo, you pull out his embrace, but your hands remain entwined. You do another twirl before motioning for him to do one as well. He manages an only slightly awkward spin, ducking under your arm.

At this point, your table of rowdy coworkers is whooping and hollering. You can hear Emily whistling loudly, can just barely make out the ridiculous grins on their faces.

You stop dancing as the song comes to a close, both of you singing the last line that repeats, your voices slowly getting softer and softer.

“Don’t you want me baby?”

The rest of the bar has ceased to exist. All Spencer can do is stare at you, the words coming out as barely a whisper. You’re so close to him, the two of you leaning into one another. There’s a sheen of sweat across your forehead, and he reaches out to brush your hair back, his hand coming to rest on your cheek. You do the same without thinking, hand in his hair as you sing the final line so softly that he thinks maybe only he can hear it.

There’s a heavy moment of silence as you stare at one another, the instrumentals fading out. Spencer’s head is full of nothing—nothing but kissing you. The thought consumes his mind. He tries to blame the liquor, but really it’s just a thought that’s been there all along.

The one thing that stops him—well, the main thing anyway—is the sudden realization that it is indeed silent. And it shouldn’t be silent. Gone are the shouts and cheers from your table. You seem to blink back into consciousness, both of you turning towards them only to see the four of them staring back with wide, amused eyes. Penelope looks as though she just might burst, she’s got such a giddy smile on her face. The instant is over as quickly as you noticed it, the team breaking out into loud shouts, standing up and cheering. The rest of the bar claps along politely, and you grab Spencer’s hand. The two of you do an awkward little bow before you tug him off of the stage.

Spencer’s legs feel like jello and it has nothing to do with his lingering nerves from singing in front of a crowd of strangers. He sinks into his seat shakily and you fling your arms around him, laughing as your teammates let out a few last whoops and claps.

“Pretty Boy,” Derek says with a smile so broad and knowing that Spencer wants to reach across the table and wipe it off of his face. “Who knew you had it in you?”

“I did,” you say simply.

The rest of the table exchanges smirks that go largely unnoticed by you, much to Spencer’s relief. Your head falls to his shoulder and you take his hand in yours, fiddling absentmindedly with his fingers. He opens his mouth, prepared to tell you to stop being so weird, but the words die in his throat. All he can do is stare at you and wish that every day could be like this―your hands on him, your head on his shoulder.

“Your hands are so big,” you say suddenly and both Derek and Penelope just about choke on their drinks. Emily raises an eyebrow at him, and Spencer can feel the heat return to his cheeks.

Maybe you’re drunker than he had thought.

*

You’re sharing a hotel room.

It’s not the first time it’s happened, but it is the first time that there’s only been one bed. One goddamn bed and Spencer cannot for the life of him stop overthinking it. He tells himself that he’s being ridiculous. It’s just you, just sharing a bed, just sleeping together.

Just you. As if there was such a thing.

You seem to be completely unaware of Spencer’s inner turmoil, flopping down on to the bed with a contented sigh. He stands there awkwardly, watching you for a moment. You lift your face up from the pillow. “You good, Spence?”

He manages a little nod. “Yeah. I’m just―I’m going to go change.” With that, he all but sprints to the bathroom, locking the door and leaning onto it. He heaves out a sigh before changing quickly. He’d only brought an old CalTech t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants, and while it’s not like you haven’t seen him in it before, he still finds himself wishing he had packed something a little less dumpy. He eyes his reflection in the mirror, all glasses and hair sticking up at odd angles, and he finds himself suddenly even more self-conscious than before.

Ridiculous. He’s being ridiculous.

Shaking the thoughts from his mind, he exits the tiny bathroom. He takes just one step before stopping, frozen by the sight in front of him. Your back is to him as you pull a sweatshirt over your bare shoulders, the wide expanse of skin right there―close enough that he could reach out and touch it if he just took a few more steps. He wonders briefly if it’s as soft as it looks, what it would feel like to trace your spine with his fingertips.

You spin around to face him and it feels as though you’ve just read his mind, as though you’ve caught him. He averts his gaze immediately despite the fact that you’re already fully dressed.

“I didn’t hear you come out,” you say with a yawn, crawling into bed once more.

Spencer chokes out a sorry, but he doesn’t move.

“Come to bed.” The simplicity in your voice and the domesticity of your words tugs at his heart. Come to bed. As though it happens every night―you and him under the covers, nose to nose and toe to toe.

Spencer lets himself wish―just for a moment―that it did.

He sinks down onto the bed beside you, and you sit up suddenly. “What is it?” he asks.

“I like your glasses,” you say, studying his face. “You should wear them more often.”

Spencer would almost think that you’re teasing him if it weren’t for the sincerity in your voice and the softness in your eyes. “Really?”

You nod. “Really.” There’s a pause as his eyes search yours. He almost thinks he imagines it when he sees your eyes flicker to his lips―in fact, he’s certain he’s imagining it.

You don’t give him a second to overthink it. He blinks and there’s a sudden whack to his stomach.

“Did you―did you just hit me?” he squeaks out.

You’re holding the pillow that you absolutely did hit him with in your hands, smiling sweetly. “Nope.”

Spencer rolls his eyes before taking off his glasses and setting them on the bedside table. “You’re going to regret that.”

“Nuh-uh—” you start to say, cut off abruptly by a pillow to the face. “You rat!

Spencer barely has time to revel in his victory when you swing your pillow at him again and again. He only gets a few of his own swings in when you toss your pillow to the side. “What are—” Your fingers meet his side and he lets out an absolutely embarrassing shriek. “Not fair!”

You just laugh in return, giving his side a squeeze before tickling him again. “I knew you were ticklish.” You reach up, apparently set on testing out just how ticklish he is. Your fingers dance across his ribs, his chest, his neck.

If Spencer wasn’t already about to drop dead from the giggles, he’d absolutely be done in by your hands all over him.

All breathlessness aside, he can’t let you win. He abandons his pillow, reaching for your sides and tickling them as best he can. You squeal and he laughs as you attempt to return the favor. “Stop!” you say with a wheeze.

Spencer doesn’t stop. “You started it.” His fingers poke at your sides once more. The laugh you let out is wild, unrestrained, and he swears that he’s never heard anything quite so wonderful. You lurch forward, reaching for his stomach, but he catches your wrist before you can make it. That doesn’t stop you from trying, wiggling closer to him and attempting to twist your hand in his grasp. Your fingers brush against his stomach and he heaves in a breath, trying not to break into laughter again. 

He pokes you in the ribs one last time, just for good measure. “Okay, okay, okay,” you say in between peals of laughter. “Truce.”

Spencer narrows his eyes at you. “Are you done?” he asks.

You nod, waiting for him to let go of your wrist.

He doesn’t quite believe you. “You sure?”

“Mhm.” You nod again, your voice so soft he can barely hear it. The two of you are laying on your sides now, noses practically touching. Spencer tentatively relinquishes his hold on you, fully prepared for you to attack him again. Your hand darts back under the hem of his shirt, your fingers sweeping over his ribs, and he’s just about to pull your hand away again when you lay your palm flat against his skin. You don’t poke, don’t tickle, don’t move. You just—rest your hand there, sure and steady.

Spencer suddenly feels like he’s holding his breath. He’s so close—he could do it. Just lean in, brush his lips against yours. It sounds so simple in his head, but he can’t. He can’t move at all. He’s afraid that one wrong movement will break the spell.

Neither of you speak, and the silence somehow feels heavy with all of the words that have gone unsaid. He almost jumps when you rest your forehead against his. He swallows thickly, thankful for the darkness that’s hiding the flush creeping up his face.

Time seems to stand still, and all Spencer can think about is your hand on his skin and how he wants it there forever.

His breath catches in his chest again when you trace your fingers over his cheekbone. “You’re so beautiful,” you say softly.

Spencer can’t quite believe the words that have just come out of your mouth. He can’t quite believe that you’ve said them with a hand on his side, another on his cheek.

He says nothing. He doesn’t dare. He just pulls you closer, wishing that this moment would never end.

*

“You are the worst cook. Who fucks up pancakes?”

“Am not.” It sounds like a lie even to him, but Spencer stands his ground.

You cross your arms, sternly looking between him and the beyond burnt pancake on the table. “Okay, then eat it.”

The pancake is so burnt that it’s black and rock solid to the touch. Evidence of Spencer’s ineptitude in the kitchen lingers in the form of smoke that’s slowly filtering out of the opened windows. It’s cold in the apartment, but you don’t dare close them yet for fear of dying from smoke inhalation.

Spencer eyes the pancake again, picking it up and inspecting it.

“Eat it,” you repeat. “Eat it or admit defeat.”

“It’s not that bad.” Still sounds like a lie. “Not as bad as your snickerdoodle fiasco of ‘09.”

You gasp, your hand flying to your chest. “You take that back!”

He grins at you. “Nope.”

“You absolute jerk. That’s low.”

“Lower than your cookie death count?”

“I’m going to beat you to death with the lethal weapon that you call a pancake.” You try to grab said pancake from Spencer’s hand, but for once he moves faster. He takes a step back and waves the pancake above his head, far out of your reach. You jump up in a pathetic attempt to get it, but he just stands on his tiptoes. Quickly realizing that you’re not going to get it, you think of another solution.

Spencer realizes what you’re about to do just a moment too late. He blinks and he has a face full of flour; it’s up his nose and in his mouth and he sputters at the taste. “You have got to be kidding me.”

You just laugh in response, bright and borderline hysterical. “You—you look ridiculous. Like the least scary ghost I’ve ever seen.”

“Oh, I look ridiculous?” Spencer asks, scooping up a handful of flour. “You look ridiculous.” He dumps the powder unceremoniously on the top of your head, chuckling at the astonished look on your face.

You wipe the flour from your wide eyes. “Did you just do that?”

He purses his lips, nodding. “Mhm.”

Jerk!” you squeal, grabbing another scoop of flour and tossing it straight at him. He retaliates with his own handful and suddenly the two of you are absolutely covered.

You reach for the bag, but he catches your hand midair. Despite your pokes to his side, he doesn’t let go. You twist in his grasp, stepping closer… and closer. All at once the two of you are almost nose to nose. The sudden closeness is overwhelming, and Spencer lets go of your wrist despite the fact that he fully expects you to continue your attack.

You don’t. Instead you heave yourself up onto the counter, legs dangling off the edge.

Spencer gapes at you. “You—you’re sitting in flour.”

You raise an eyebrow, motioning to the mess covering you basically from head to toe. “I don’t think it can get any worse.”

You’ve got a point. He shrugs, surveying the flour that’s coated your hair. He reaches out and brushes some away even though it doesn’t do any good. You’re still an entire mess and Spencer has still never seen anyone more beautiful.

“Turn around,” you say suddenly. He doesn’t move, but you don’t make any attempt to explain.

The way that you’re able to get him to do just about anything simply with your eyes is something that he still has yet to get used to. Spencer stares at you for just an instant before giving in and spinning around. He opens his mouth to question you, but your hands are in his hair before he can even get a word out.

Spencer still doesn’t quite understand what you’re doing, but all he can think about is your hands on him. He leans into your touch instinctively. There’s a slight tug on his hair, then another, and another.

Your hands leave his hair and he misses them instantly. “Done!”

He turns back around to face you, reaching a hand up to inspect his hair. It’s pulled back, the top half in a bun and the rest hanging loosely. “What did you do?”

“It’s just a half up bun.” You shrug, brushing a stray strand back. “It looks good on you.”

“You’re joking.” Spencer stares at you, waiting for the punchline, for the teasing smile, for the pinch to the side. It doesn’t come.

You just say, “I’m not. Everything looks good on you.” Your voice is low, your hand still in his hair.

Spencer finds himself completely frozen in front of you. He’s unable to meet your eyes, instead watching your legs swinging against the counter.

“Spence,” you say softly. He still doesn’t move. “Look at me.” Your hand slides from his hair to his chin, gently pushing it up until his eyes meet yours.

“What is it?” His words come out barely above a whisper. He’s so close to you—so close that he could just lean in, just press a kiss to your lips, just do the one thing that has been consuming his thoughts.

It’s dizzying, having the one thing he wants more than anything so within reach. He can scarcely breathe, each tiny exhalation dusting more flour off of your face.

You don’t answer his question. Spencer’s about to ask again when your legs wrap around his waist, tugging him towards you.

Now he absolutely can’t breathe.

Your legs are around him and your hand is in his hair—he’s so impossibly close to you that he can’t think straight. “Uh, I—” he stammers out, ever so ineloquently.

“Shut up,” you say under your breath. He opens his mouth to tell you to shut up, but he doesn’t get the chance. Your lips are on his before he can even blink.

Oh.

Oh.

Your mouth… is on his. It takes him a moment to process what’s happening, but once his mind catches up to the rest of his body, he reacts on instinct. His hands reach up to cup your face and he kisses you hungrily, like he’s drowning and you’re the only thing that will save him—he thinks you just might be.

He kisses you like he’s wanted to for years, for longer than even he can remember.

Spencer has imagined what it would be like to kiss you far more times than he would care to admit, but none of them compare to this. The hand in his hair tugs on his curls and your other hand slips under the hem of his shirt, fingers dancing across the soft skin of his back. His own hand drops from your face to your thigh, and he laughs into the kiss when you squeeze your legs more tightly around his waist.

The two of you only pull away to catch your breath, but you continue to pepper his face with little kisses—his nose, his cheeks, his chin. You work your way down to his neck, his shoulder, and then—there’s a pinch.

He pulls back with a start. “Did you—did you just bite my arm?”

“Mhm.” You nod, smiling sweetly. “The love of my life burned my pancakes and I am hungry as hell.”

Spencer’s mind still feels like it’s functioning at half speed and he blinks at you for a second, your words running through his head. You eye him, an amused smirk gracing your face. “The—the what?”

You nod again, tracing your fingers across his jaw. “Yeah, you dingus,” you say with eyes so wide and honest that Spencer thinks he might just get lost in them forever. “I love you. I’ve loved you for a long time, Spence.”

He doesn’t say a word; and you drop your gaze, taking his silence as an answer, as a kind of rejection. You drop your legs from around his waist, but he catches them, holding them in place. You open your mouth to speak, but he just presses a kiss to your lips. Then another. And another. You let out a brilliant laugh, your arms wrapping around him and pulling him back towards you.

He breaks away only to rest his forehead against yours. “I love you, too. For so long,” he says, his voice sure and steady. “I can’t even remember a day when I didn’t love you.” It sounds like a fact, like an undeniable truth—it sounds like a promise.

It is.

Spencer has never been more certain of anything.

All of those almosts—the almost kisses, the almost confessions, the almost grasping at what has been right there in front of him all this time? They don’t compare to anything now that there’s this certainty, now that there’s this future.

Spencer’s never going to almost kiss you again.

He’s going to kiss you.

He’s going to do it again and again for as long as you’ll let him—for the rest of his life, he hopes.

There’s nothing almost about that.