He had never seen Aaron shirtless. It didn't bother him, he understood Aaron's reasoning. Or at least he did from the point of view of Dr. Reid, who held a degree in psychology. He even partially understood it from the perspective of Spencer, he himself had his insecurities. In his mind, Aaron was perfect though, so he couldn't say he fully understood it.
Still, he never pushed. If Aaron wanted to change in a different room, have at it. If Aaron chose to leave his shirt on when they were intimate, that was his prerogative. If he wanted to wear a swim shirt when they went to the beach, that was his decision. Spencer respected that.
That doesn't mean it didn't break his heart. He knew that Aaron would rush past the mirrors, he could tell by the fact that he would be out of the bathroom in less than five seconds after the shower turned off. It reminded him of Owen Savage, who painted all his mirrors black. That disturbed him beyond belief.
He remembered a specific moment from early in their relationship. It was during a makeout session. As he heatedly kissed Aaron, running his tongue along his bottom lip, his hands trailed down his chest. He grasped the hem of his shirt, but before he could lift it his hand was gently removed. Aaron moved it to rest on his hip. For Spencer, the message was received.
As their relationship progressed he thought maybe at some point Aaron would feel comfortable enough to remove the clothing. He knew that wasn't happening anytime soon when their intimacy moved to the bedroom and the shirt stayed on. He didn't even consciously notice until afterwards. He didn't want to embarass Aaron, so he decided to subtly compliment him from then on. "You're beautiful," Spencer whispered in his ear as he kissed him on the cheek, before resting his head on Aaron's shoulder.
One hot summer's night, the issue came to a peak. It felt as though everywhere he turned, he was reminded of Aaron's insecurity. It frustrated him to no end, because they were a couple and any issue for Aaron was an issue for him. Plus, he wished Aaron could see him the way he saw him.
It started in the morning. Spencer took a shower and then went to Jack's room to help him pick out clothes and pack a bag for their trip to the beach that day. Jack was old enough to do this all by himself, but Spencer wanted to allow Aaron space to get dressed. On the days Spencer was still in the bedroom, Aaron would grab his clothes and go to the guest bathroom, which was mirrorless.
Spencer was helping Jack button his shirt, but momentarily paused when he heard the shower turn off. A moment later he heard the bathroom door open and close, and sighed as he looked in the direction of their bedroom. He let himself be saddened for a moment, before turning his attention back to helping Jack button his shirt.
Later that day he was once again reminded when Aaron took off his clothes to reveal a swim shirt and trunks underneath. He expected it, but it didn't make it any less upsetting. Still, he made an effort despite the fact he knew it was a long shot.
"Aaron, let me put some sunscreen on your back."
"I put some on before we came." They both knew it was a lie.
"Well remind me to put some on you in eighty minutes. It wears off quickly."
Aaron hated saying he'd do something then not doing it, so he opted for. "I'm good."
Spencer wasn't going to push, so he went into a rant about sunscreen, effects of sun damage, and the like.
Then that night, it was absolutely sweltering. As Spencer read, he could hear the weathercaster on the television talk about how this was the start of a heatwave. Spencer usually went to bed in socks, boxers, and a large tee shirt in the summer. However, even he felt the need to shed his shirt. That spoke volumes, considering he could have boiling water poured on him and he'd most likely still be whining, "Guys, it's so cold!"
After the book had been put away, and the telly was off and no longer featuring weather forecasts, he closed his eyes to go to sleep. Within a minute he heard Aaron moan, "It's so hot."
"Take off your shirt then," Spencer mumbled sleepily. Aaron almost blushed, before turning over and ignoring the statement. Chalk it up to a day that was fun, but still quite stressful (as are all trips to the beach with a child) mixed with tiredness, but he had enough.
Spencer pushed his skinny frame up and leaned over. He gently placed a hand on Aaron's shoulder and lightly pushed so he was lying on his back. With a small grin, he placed his hands on Aaron's chest and placed his fingers on the top button.
There was a sharp intake of breath from Aaron. "What are you doing?" Spencer was probably the only person in the world who could recognize the slight panic and nervousness in his voice. Aaron pushed his hand away, but Spencer moved it back with a determined force. "Spencer."
"Aaron." His fingers paused. "You're hot, both physically and metaphorically. We'll focus on the former for now though. It is stifling in here, and you are in cotton pajamas. I know you aren't going to take off your shirt, so I'm going to do it." He undid the top button and waited for a reaction. "Okay?"
Aaron sat up and took in the sight. Spencer lovingly stared at him as he rubbed his chest up and down. He nervously bit his lip, and he knew Spencer was questioning if he was overstepping. Of course not, he just wants what's best for me. He justs wants me to know he loves me no matter what. He internally debated before finally giving in. "I. . .yes." Aaron saw Spencer visibly brighten, looking surprised.
Spencer gently kissed him as he undid the next button. With each button the kisses grew more intense, and once all the buttons were undone Spencer pushed the shirt off before wrapping his arms around Aaron's neck and whispering, "Thank you for trusting me."
"Thank you for loving me." Spencer momentarily frowned at the implication before deciding that could be his next mission.
"The pleasure is all mine, beautiful." Aaron blushed and looked away in disbelief at the compliment, but they could work on it. After all, Spencer didn't expect him to take a leap toward confidence in one night. But a step forward was a step, and Spencer was proud.