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A Time To Live

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When Penelope saw Spencer walk through the elevator doors everything seemed to stand still. There was part of her that was sure the team wouldn’t get there in time, that she would spend the rest of her life living with the guilt that she had let her best friend die. But there he was, battered, broken, and bruised but very much alive. She rushed into his arms and squeaked in alarmed when he winced from the pain.

“I’m so so-“

“No” Spencer whispered, “You have nothing to be sorry about. Everything’s okay, it’s all okay”

For the longest time Derek was the person Penelope called when her heart hurt, when she needed help injecting a little sunshine into the grey world. Now, still raw and reeling, she stood in her apartment with her phone and before she even knew what she was doing she was ringing Spencer.

“Hi Penelope” he didn’t sound like he’d just woken up so she figured she wasn’t the only person awake the entire night recently. Two months had passed and she was still having trouble sleeping. Every time she closed her eyes she saw Agent Meadows. 

“Sorry to bother you I’m just…”

“I’ll be over in ten”

“No you don’t have to do that I just-”

“Can you make popcorn?”

“I-what? Um yeah?”

“Great. See you soon.”

The line went dead. 

God damn profilers. 

When he arrived it was with a stack of DVDs and snacks. Spencer had picked all her favourites plus a bottle of wine.

“I haven’t been sleeping either” he said casually “I mean…I’m used to it, kind of, after…everything…but it was getting better and now…it’s not. So I knew you wouldn’t be sleeping but I wanted to wait for you to mention it because I know it can really overbearing when you have people profiling you and trying to help because they mean well but sometime it helps to have space to figure it all out on your own first” 

“Spencer you’re rambling”

“Sorry. Reese’s Pieces?”

God bless him, Penelope thought as they stood in her kitchen arranging the candy into bowls and pouring out the wine. They didn’t say anything, but Penelope felt calmer than she had since before her abduction. They sat watching Disney movies until the sun rose, singing along and quoting the lines while gorging on candy.

“We should do this more often” said Penelope, yawning.

“Whenever you need me just call” said Spencer.

It ended up being a weekly thing. First one of them would cook dinner and order takeout then the other would pick a few movies and some snacks. Other times they just talked, or cried and one time Penelope insisted they put on 70s disco music and dance round her apartment for hours and hours until they were too tired to move. 

One night Penelope made Spencer sit in front of her, crossed legged on the floor while Mean Girls played on the TV.

“Should I be worried?” Spencer asked between mouthfuls of pretzels.

“Ssh. Stop fussing. I’m just braiding your hair,” scolded Penelope “You’re going to look so pretty. Not that you aren’t pretty already”

“I wish we’d left the wine until after” sighed Spencer and he tried not to wince as Penelope tugged at his hair “Wait, what’s that cold stuff?”

“Glitter gel”

“Penelope!”

“Aww c’mon Spence it’ll wash out super easily. Don’t be baby.”

“If this is anything like the time I let you try that You Tube makeup tutorial on me I’ll be finding glitter everywhere for weeks afterwards” Spencer grumbled.

Penelope howled with laughter at the memory. It was his own damn fault though for having such a pretty face.

“God I wish you hair was as long as it was about a decade ago, d’you remember?” said Penelope “It reached your shoulders. The things I could do with that hair. Why didn’t I ever ask you?”

“Because you knew I’d refuse”

“True” Penelope continued twisting his hair into little braids as she hummed “Luckily for me you’re much more accomodating now. What changed?”

Spencer paused for a moment, glad she couldn’t see his face.

“Old age had mellowed me” he said finally and Garcia snorted with laughter.

“Boy wonder you’ll be a hundred and you’ll still be the team baby” she said, tugging playfully at an unruly curl.

A small smile played on Spencer’s lips and he closed his eyes. He would rather let her think she had weakened his resolve over the years than have her know he was placating her, trying to do everything he could think of to distract her from the fact it was almost exactly a year since their abduction.

Penelope had saved his life, more than she could know, and this was a small way to pay her back. More than that though, by helping her heal, Spencer found he was healing himself. It was almost like her way of seeing the world was contagious.

He thought back to when Merva had asked him how he felt when he thought he was going to die. He’d said peace but sitting there now with Garcia he new what he’s really been was numb. With his best friend, safe in her home, Spencer knew what peace truly felt like.