Derek was folding a pair of black pants while trying to calculate how many pairs of socks he might need, when he heard Spencer’s soft footsteps coming into the room. He didn’t turn to look at him, and instead reached for a second pair of pants to fold. He gave a quick glance at the open suitcase. By now, after so many years of traveling around the country for work, the process of packing was almost automatic.
“Feeling better?” he asked.
“I’ll be fine,” Spencer just said. With the corner of his eye, Derek saw him reach under the bed for a second suitcase and open it on the bed.
He turned to look at him. “Thank you, but I believe one will be enough.”
Without a word, Spencer walked to the wooden chest by the window and opened a drawer. He gathered a few papers and carefully slipped them in a folder.
“Spencer…” Derek looked at him, trying to understand just how bad it was this time. He couldn’t tell. At least he seemed to know who Derek was. He remembered the house. It couldn’t be too bad. “Spencer, look at me.”
It took Spencer a few seconds to make eye-contact, like he was trying to gather enough strength within himself. He stepped closer to Derek and handed him the folder. “Keep them in your hand luggage. They recommend not to put important documents in your cabin luggage in case it gets lost. Do you know how many suitcases are lost and never recovered every year?”
But Derek was already looking at the papers. “Why would I need Jason’s adoption papers?”
Spencer looked directly into his eyes then. “Because you’re taking him with you.”
“No. I get it. I get why you have to go. I don’t blame you. After what happened last night… I’m sorry, Derek. I really didn’t want to put you through all this. I know what it’s like. I know how hard it is and how much it hurts when someone you love looks at you like you’re a stranger. I’ve been there.” Spencer took a deep breath.
“No, baby, I’m not—”
Spencer went on. “I told you, it’s fine. I’m not gonna ask you to stay, it wouldn’t be fair to you. You deserve better than this. But so does Jason. You can’t leave him here. You can’t… He’s only six. He can’t take care of me. He shouldn’t even have to…”
Derek stopped him then. “Listen to me, Spencer. I’m not leaving you. I’m not… I would never leave you and Jason. I’m just going to New Orleans with Emily to consult on a case. I’ll be back Friday night at the latest. I’ll— I’ll be back. I promise.”
“You—” Spencer’s voice quivered. “You’re coming back?”
Derek set the papers aside on the bed and framed Spencer’s face with his hands. “I’m always coming back to you, baby.”
“It’s only going to get worse.”
“You don’t know that. Those new meds you’re taking, the doctor said they’re helping a lot of patients.” It still hurt in ways he couldn’t even being to describe to think of Spencer as a ‘patient’. He wrapped his arms around his body, pulling him to his chest.
“Patients ten years younger than I. Derek, we both want it to be a cure, but it’s probably not. Not for me, anyway. I need you to know that.”
“I do. But I also know that ‘probably not’ doesn’t mean ‘absolutely not’. You’ve always been the exception to the rule. And even if it doesn’t work, I’m still not giving up on us. I told you when I married you: we’re in this together.”
He felt Spencer nod against his shoulder and pressed a kiss to his forehead.
“Now, Penelope’s coming early tomorrow morning. She’ll probably cook you pancakes for breakfast and you better enjoy them since I’ll be living off cold pizza and bad coffee for the next couple of days. Will is going to drive Jason to and from school, so you don’t have to worry about that, and JJ said he can have a sleepover with Max if you’re not feeling good.”
“I hate not even being able to take care of him by myself.” Spencer disentangled himself from Derek’s arms.
“We can check if you want, but I’m quite sure we both signed those adoption papers. You don’t have to take care of him by yourself. He’s got two parents who love him and are there for him – even if not all the time. But really, Spencer, who’s got time these days to be with their kids all the time? JJ isn’t there for Henry and Max every moment, and I bet you don’t think she’s a bad mother.”
Spencer shrugged. “It’s not the same. JJ, and you, are away for work.”
“Jason is a happy kid, who’s well cared for and loved. That’s all that matters.” He looked at Spencer. “We’re doing just fine, baby. Now why don’t you go check if he’s ready for bed? I’ll join you in a few minutes.”
“Promise?” This time Spencer was smiling as he said it.
“Promise. You know I wouldn’t miss the goodnight story.”
“So you’re going to call tomorrow night at bed-story time?”
Derek went back to his luggage. “Don’t I always?”