No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud’
- William Shakespeare, Sonnet 35
The air was cleaner outside the prison. Fresher. Or maybe Spencer could just breathe properly again; it was a lot easier to when you weren't in prison. But really, he had only achieved physical freedom. Spencer felt diseased, corrupted; it was difficult not to after all that he had done. Everyone around him kept telling him he had just been protecting himself and doing what was necessary to stay alive in there, but it didn’t feel like that to him. He was dirtied and it seemed the only one who knew this was him. That almost made it worse.
He couldn't understand why you treated the same as before - in fact, even kinder and gentler than before. He couldn't understand why no one but him could see how disgusting he was, what a monster he was.
The first nights home were sleepless, but he had expected that. The slightest movement or sound would pull him from his, albeit light, slumber - sharing a bed with another person again after he had adjusted to the solitude took some getting used to. Of course, it wasn't just your movement that woke him up. He couldn't remember the last time he'd slept through a night without having a nightmare.
He became familiar with the grooves and shapes etched on the ceiling above him. He’d trace them with his eyes, focusing on something, anything, other than the nightmares that plagued him. Or sometimes he’d look at you, at how your face had been pulled of all emotion, lips parted slightly. He’d liken your face to that of an angel. When Spencer had first met you, he’d fancied you were his guardian angel; he knew it was unfair to bestow such a responsibility on someone, but he felt nothing bad could happen whilst you were around. Time had crumbled that fantasy to the ground, but still; there was something angelic about you in sleep, devoid of all the trouble of the day. Sometimes he’d wake you up with his night terrors, never intentionally. He’d thrash, or scream, or cry, pulling you from your sleep. It was scary, watching hoarse, frightened screams coming from such a gentle, undeserving man. You'd rouse him from the nightmare, calling his name quietly until his eyes would spring open and scan the room for oncoming danger - which he never found, of course.
'It was a dream, Spence, you're not there anymore, you're not there anymore, honey,' you'd repeat over and over until he'd crumble into your arms. You'd hold him to you, while he shook and cried and trembled, briny tears rolling down your own face at his hurt. 'I'm here, and you're here too, and we're both safe, I promise, Spence,'
The scariest were the few, brief moments when you'd wake him and confusion would gloss over his eyes - he didn't recognise you. Once you'd made the mistake of touching his arm, at which he had flinched away, his hands coming up to protect his face. It was terrifying to watch the person you love cower away from you, see you as unfamiliar, even it was just for a second. 'I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, Y/N,' he'd cry on those nights. You'd stroke his hair, and tell him it was alright, you knew it wasn't his fault, you were just glad he was here with you. He tried to believe you.
Sometimes Spencer wouldn’t even sleep at all. He’d drown in one turbulent thought after another, the hours slipping away from him until the first thin rays of sunlight would slip under the curtain and he still hadn’t slept. He’d never tell anyone of course, but you noticed. His movements would be sluggish in the morning and his reliance on coffee ever worse.
Those nights, alone and awake, he would accompany himself with his journal and his pen. Replicating his thoughts on paper had never really appealed to him before prison; his mind simply worked to fast for his hand to keep up. Locked up, however, his small notebook and pencil had provided the most privacy he could find. The habit had continued and now his journal was always tucked in his bedside drawer, under his underwear - within reach, but away from prying eyes. Realistically, Spencer knew you'd never look through his private journal, but he was almost scared himself of what he'd written in it. It was best kept out of sight until he needed it.
His handwriting would slope and spike sporadically, the ink of his pen smudging sideways as he rushed to extract every terrifying thought from his mind. He needed them out,
When he was too weak to write, he'd reread previous entries - stupidly, because those words would stick in his head all night. Glancing towards your world of peaceful sleep, guilt would trickle into his stomach when he thought of what a monster he was, how diseased he was, and how you were still here, beside him, through it all. Sometimes he'd search your eyes for disgust, or fear when you looked at him. He never found it. He kept waiting for the day he'd look over and you wouldn't be there. It never came.
It's always going to be like this. I'm always going to be like he'd repeat to himself each day and night.
'The passage of time will usually extract the venom of most things and render them harmless' - The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami
But it got easier - thankfully. See, Spencer was a lot stronger than he gave himself credit for.
Gradually, the days and nights got easier. The nightmares grew more sparse and less intense; sleep wasn't such a foreign thing to him anymore. Now, as he'd watch the sunlight creep across your face in the morning, he could find the energy to carefully stroke your hair and wake you up himself. 'Good morning,' he'd say, placing a soft kiss on your head.
In the kitchen, Spencer made the coffee, you the food, and sitting across each other at the table, conversation was made. You could remember the mornings not long ago when thick, heavy silence sat at the breakfast table, but not anymore. Sometimes, Spencer would read - something else he had started doing again - but the silence hanging then was light, comfortable.
He'd call you during the day when he was working at the BAU. Sometimes it was just to grab ten minutes of your time for himself during a break, or sometimes he had read a book he just had to talk about, or sometimes he had that weird pit in his stomach where he felt like he was back in prison, and he couldn't breathe. Whatever it was, you always picked up. Or sometimes he'd just have to walk down the hall to your office. There were perks to being a professor, especially when Spencer had just become one too at the same university.
In the evenings, you both sit on the couch together - you would grade papers or plan for your next lectures. Sometimes Spencer would be doing the same thing, or he'd be working his way through a stack of books. The soft tones of Claude Debussy would float through the living room; a vinyl he had gifted you one birthday. Spencer quick-paced page-turning would pause sometimes, and he'd look over to watch you work.
You were still here. He was still here.
Sex had been the last thing on his mind since coming home. But tonight; tonight is different. A deep burn in his chest craves the closeness of it, the world conjured up between the two of you when you were tangled up together. When dinner has been cleaned up, he plants a soft kiss on your lips and pulls you towards him. 'Y/N?' He swallows before looking up at your inquiring eyes. 'Can I have you tonight?' You smile and return his kiss. 'Please do,'
Placing you carefully down on the bed, he lays kisses on every inch of exposed skin, while you pull his t-shirt over his head. He makes quick work of your clothes, fabric being flung around the room, to be dealt with later. Soon, you're both unclothed, feeling each other's warm skin. Spencer lowers himself between your legs, continuing his path of kisses on your thighs and hips. 'Can I?' he says, his long fingers curling around your panties. You nod. 'I love you so much,' you muse, reaching your hand down to card through his soft hair. 'I love you more, sweetheart,' he says. Honey-coloured eyes flicker up to look up at you as he starts to suck on your clit, hands snaking around your legs to keep them where he wants them. The persistent eye contact makes your cheeks burn.
He speeds up with the movement of his tongue against you, relishing in the feeling of you slowly rocking against you. He had missed this, missed the feeling of you. When he draws a particularly pretty sound out of you, he lets out his own moan against you. He allows his eyes to close as he loses himself in your taste. It's not long before you're coming, thighs squeezing tighter around his head. You moan and your back arches up and stars are painted behind your eyes by the pure pleasure you're feeling. Spencer slows down to not overstimulate you and returns to pressing softly against your thighs with his lips.
As you catch your breath once more, he works his way back up your form. Taking his face in your hands, you bring him down into a fervent kiss, tasting yourself in his mouth. A single tear rolls down your cheek, and Spencer feels it cool against his burning skin. 'You okay? Do you want to stop?' You shake your head and smile up at him. 'Just love you, that's all,' you say, voice shaking slightly. He kisses your cheek and repeats the words to you. Reaching to the bedside table, he gropes around the drawer to find a condom. Quickly checking it's still in date, he rolls it on himself. He settles once more between your legs, which come up to wrap around his waist. 'Spence, please,' you sigh.
Slowly sliding into you, he watches every movement and expression he pulls from your face. When he finally bottoms out, he has to pause to recollect himself. You're wet, and warm, and perfect around him.
Spurred on by your soft whines, however, he starts to move. He looks down at you like you hung each star in the sky, and the moon, and the sun too - ad he thinks he sees the same look in your eyes too. He swallows, feeling water well up behind his eyes. It had been so long since he had felt this, felt you around him.
‘Missed you so much. Missed this so much’ he says against your neck, voice thick with unshed tears and emotion. His gentle rocking is accompanied by soft, lazy circles on your clit. Your hands cup his face, thumb stroking his cheek; his eyelids flutter shut. ‘I missed you too, honey,’ reaching up to place a soft kiss on his nose. Spencer likens the feeling to a butterfly delicately landing on a flower, and he has to swallow again to mask how choked up he is.
What he had missed the most in prison was softness. Everything had been jarring, and sharp, and rough around the edges when he was locked up. The hard, cold concrete of his bedding as he ran his fingers up and down it to ground himself after a nightmare; the uncomfortable seats that had him hunched over the dining tables; the prickly stubble on his face as he pressed his fingers against his skin. Spencer had needed something gentle, something soft, and he hadn’t realised how much it was missing until he had seen you again for the first time. The brief periods in which he could speak to you, hear your soft voice again as something other than a memory, kept him sane - albeit the thick glass pane present in between you two. You had kept him sane. On the day of his release, he could finally touch you again, and not have to worry about the predatorial stares from the other inmates during visiting hours. You had clung to him, head buried in his chest, hands encircling his waist, and as he had run his fingers through your hair, he felt he could breathe properly again. Maybe the air wasn't cleaner outside of prison; just when he was with you.
‘I’m not gonna last long, I’m sorry,’
‘It’s okay, Spence, I promise’ you whisper to him. Your other hand comes up to cradle his face, pulling his face down to feel his soft lips against yours. He whimpers into your mouth, every nerve in his body coated with the love he felt. As a similar sensation spreads up through you, your back arches up into his hold on you. The tide comes crashing down, and heavenly sounds seep from your lips as Spencer continues to work you through your orgasm. Your legs tighten around his waist, and he lets out a final, vulnerable whine before reaching his own crescendo, his thrusts slowing.
Opening up his eyes again to rest his forehead against yours, Spencer calms himself with your soft breath against his face. He knows the majority of his weight is resting upon you, but he can’t muster up the strength to pick himself up from your warm embrace. Moving his head again, it rests upon your shoulder, and you slowly run your fingers through his soft curls. He almost purrs at the sensation, leaning in closer to your touch.
You were here, in his arms, and he was here, in yours.