Spencer had changed after, well, everything. It was understandable; jail as an innocent man was nowhere near sunshine and rainbows and his mother wasn’t getting any better. But despite the pain that came from those experiences, that continued to come, that wasn’t the change you saw. Somehow, he managed to be more distant and closer than he had ever been, at the same time. At first, you didn’t notice it; you were too worried about him in general to analyze every little thing he did. It wasn’t until after a case, when everyone was tired and just wanted to erase the entire past week, that you did.
You had just gotten back to your desk, the others already in their cars leaving to their loved ones, when you turned to see Spencer waiting for you. You smiled, shouldering your bag, and walked over to him. “You didn’t have to wait y'know.”
He had smiled back, though it was no longer as bright as it once was. “I know.”
He walked you to your car which wasn’t new. He had always been that much of a gentleman and if the two of you were ever the last ones, he was happy to walk with you. It’s one of the reasons you fallen for him. What was different was the hug. You had hugged Spencer before, the whole team had, he was comfortable enough with all of you to accept them. But that was just it, he accepted the hugs but he never doled them out. You had turned to thank him the way you always would and were engulfed in his long arms. You were surprised at first but you were never one to turn down a hug, especially not from him. There was a strange desperation to it and you weren’t sure if it was coming from you or him. It was obvious that neither of you wanted it to end, for what reasons you weren’t sure. When you did separate there was something about his expression that you couldn’t quite understand but just as quick as it came, it left and so did he. You had chalked it up to the case, it had taken a toll on everyone and he just wanted comfort. Looking back, you were just in denial.
After that first time you started to realize it more and more. The constant attempts at affection that, for anyone else, wouldn’t have warranted questioning. No one bats an eye when there are side hugs and handshakes but it was different with Spencer. He had started to linger when he had to let go, his grip tight, and with no clue as to why in his eyes. The others started to notice when he brought you coffee. Again, it wasn’t anything new. He was the sweetest man you knew and when he had time in the morning he would bring you a cup. However, he would always place it on your desk with a soft smile and nod away your thanks. That morning, he had handed it to you, the same desperation you had felt in the hug clouding his eyes. You had grabbed for it without thinking, too focused on the case file in front of you, and your hands had overlapped. Spencer wasn’t as bad as he once was when it came to people touching him, especially when it came to the team, but there were still moments where he would react. Usually when it was out of his control. You had quickly looked up when you felt more than just the warmth of the drink, ready to apologize, but the soft smile was still in place.
“Thanks Spence.” You took the drink and he nodded your thanks away, like nothing had changed, and maybe to him it hadn’t. But you weren’t the only one to notice the exchange, JJ side eyeing you while attempting to hide her shock.
She had brought it up to you at lunch. “What happened earlier with the coffee?” In a world full of profilers, every little thing was important. It was sometimes too much.
“I don’t really know. I wasn’t thinking.” Spencer walked into the kitchen before you two could continue the conversation, both of you smiling at him as he entered.
He returned the smile and your own dulled to match it. It hurt not to see it as bright as it could be, you hoped that one day you’d see it again. He went to the cabinet behind you, touching the small of your back to excuse you. Not much to the normal eye but for you and JJ it was another one of those moments. Spencer was the type to wait silently next to someone, maybe even have polite small talk, until the other person moved. When he left the kitchen, JJ turned to you in excitement. “Are you two together?”
You shook your head, “No, stuff like that has been happening a lot more recently.”
“Maybe he finally realized his feelings for you and this is his way of showing you.” She smirked, not thinking too much into it.
You scoffed, “Yeah right.” Even if that was the case, which you doubted, there was something else at play. You could feel it. Spencer was never one for casual touches, something had changed, and you wanted to make sure it came from a good place.
Before you could ask him, the team was called on a case. It wasn’t too bad, you had stopped the unsub before he could hurt anyone else and the team was all safe. Yet, the air still felt tense. You had opted out of drinks with the team, just wanting to stay at home and binge watch tv while eating take out. Spencer had stopped you before you could leave.
“Hey, you okay?” He was always the one to see right through you, even when you yourself didn’t know how you felt. It was sometimes scary how well he knew you.
“Yea, I’m good, Spence.” You didn’t know why you felt the way you did. It was a good case, you should want to celebrate but there was a weight you couldn’t shake off. Like everything from the past months decided to make itself known then.
He looked at you, searching your eyes, and, for a second, your bright eyes matched his dull ones. You had no right to feel the way you did, Spencer had been through hell and back. You should be trying to comfort him not the other way around. “I’m always here for you, Y/N.”
Your laugh was wet, you couldn’t look him in the eye anymore, afraid he would see something he shouldn’t. You were probably already too late. You wiped at your eyes even though there was nothing there, a preemptive action. “I should be telling you that.”
His laugh was short but genuine. He stroked the side of your cheek, “Yeah but I already know it.” He leaned down and placed a kiss on your cheek. You were sure you had stopped breathing. “Good night Y/N.” He whispered.
You watched him walk away, stopping yourself from touching your cheek. “Are you?” You said after him. He stopped, only turning his head to look back at you. You shrugged, “Okay?” The two of you stood there for a while, neither of you knowing quite what to say. So you gestured behind you towards the exit, “Wanna join me for some take out and tv?”
He had turned, his face warm, “I’d like that.”
It was half way into a season of Doctor Who when you got up the courage to ask him. The two of you sat on your couch, close but not touching, empty take out containers surrounding you. You had shuffled to look at him, your knee touching his leg. He paused the tv.
“Why have you been so touchy?” You didn’t know how to say it but that definitely wasn’t how you should’ve. You grimaced, “I don’t mean like- I mean affectionate, I guess.”
“So you noticed?” He was neutral, no hint at what was going on underneath. That was another problem with profilers, they know how to hide the emotions they want to.
“Kinda hard not to.” You shrugged. “You don’t have to tell me, I’m just worried.”
His eyes shot to yours then, hurt drowning in them. You sucked in a breath, wanting to pull him into a hug immediately. “What does that say about me? That showing affection worries people.”
“It’s not like that Spence.” You struggled to find the right thing to say again. “It’s just that we know this isn’t the usual for you.”
“You mean it’s not normal.” He said under his breath.
“No.” You said immediately. “That’s far from what I mean.”
He took a deep breath and nodded to himself, “I know it is.” He turned to you again, “Things have just been different.”
“Different how?” He hesitated, his body seizing up with the effort. “You can tell me anything, you know that Spence.” You put your hand on his knee for comfort and when he put his own over yours, you hid your surprise perfectly.
He clutched onto your hand, “After everything, it seems so useless to keep everyone at a distance. To flinch at the idea of actually showing how much I care.” He looked at your hands, a small smile on his face. “But at the same time, it’s because of all of it that I want to keep all of you safe.”
“Away from you doesn’t mean safe, Spence.” You said quietly. Your heart was beating a mile a minute, your focus torn between his words and the way his thumb stroked over your knuckles. It made sense, that after everything he’d want to show everyone how much he really cared. For him, putting aside his discomforts was the way to do that.
“I did some really bad things Y/N.” The shame and guilt that coated his words stung. You moved closer, using your free hand to make him look at you.
“You did what you had to do to survive.” You were the closest you had ever been to him, your noses only a couple inches apart.
“How can you believe that?” You were sure his eyes flickered to your lips but it could’ve just been your imagination.
“I have never believed in anything the way I believe in you.” It came out too strong, you were supposed to say that you had never believed in anything more than that. The closeness and his eyes staring into your soul distracted you, possibly for the better.
His kissed you so softly that, at first, you didn’t even think he had moved. It was a whisper before the promise. His hand faintly touched the side of your face, not directing just holding, and you felt like you were floating. The promise came when he pulled you closer, the desperation you had seen and felt so often, bleeding into you as his delicate kisses became almost rough. You let go of his hand to grasp onto his face with both of yours, one slipping into his hair just because you could. For so long you wondered if you would ever have this and now that it was here, you were sure you were dreaming. You were kneeling on your couch, pressing up against the genius of your dreams as he poured every emotion he had ever felt into your lips. There was no way it was a reality.
You pulled back, both of you out of breath but smiling in a way where neither of you would be stopping anytime soon. For a second, you saw a glimpse of his old smile, the light taking over his face. He put his forehead against yours and closed his eyes, simply being. “So is that why I’ve been getting the special treatment?”
He laughed and opened his eyes again to look at you, “You noticed that too?”
You rubbed your nose against his, “What can I say? I notice a lot around here.”