The animals had always been a secret. The stuffed animals, that is. He had never told anybody about his incessant desire for them; how hugging one close to his chest at night made the darkness seem a bit more bearable and helped him to sleep restfully. How their softness comforted him and helped him to wind down. He had quite a few of them, and most of them were placed around the head of his bed.
But his absolute favorite one, an old brown teddy bear, was the exception to that. It was made of soft brown wool, its black eyes wide circles and its little nose stitched vertically with an upside down Y for a mouth. Around its neck was a pink checkered ribbon tied in a bow. He had had it ever since he was little, when his mother bought it for him at a fair - when she was still cognizant enough to go out in public without experiencing a panic attack or letting her delusions rule her decision making. It was at least two decades old, but looking at it, one could tell that it had been well cared for and loved. It had no stains or rips, and while the wool was getting a bit rougher with age, it was still soft for the most part.
He loved his plushies dearly. Like toys that were designed for stimming, his animals helped him calm down and relax, especially at night if he was antsy from a case or it had been a particularly stressful day at work. He didn’t like to broadcast his stimming at work, so he often resisted the urge and waited until he got home, where he could stim all he wanted to his heart’s content. He liked his routine. Sometimes the constant stress of his job could be overwhelming, and he didn’t eat as much or as often as he probably should have, but he was taking care of himself as best as he knew how. He had always been dependable, especially since he had been forced to grow up at a young age when his father left.
His father’s leaving had definitely taken its toll, and growing up, he had been responsible for his own wellbeing as well as his mother’s. It was chaotic at times with little to no order, but the one constant that always had been there (and always would be, if Spencer had anything to do about) was his teddy bear. He knew it seemed childish, and he warred himself about it sometimes since he was a grown man who depended on a teddy bear to function. But the comfort it brought him rivaled the occasional thoughts of self-deprecation, and even though he kept that secret, he took it everywhere with him, hidden in the depths of his messenger back underneath of crime scene photos and case files.
And then he started dating Derek.
Derek Morgan, the ever impressive agent and his colleague who could have any woman that he wanted, had actually been the one to drop the question. He asked Spencer if he wanted to go to dinner one night after a normal day of work. Both pleasantly shocked and elated, Spencer agreed instantly. He had been nurturing his affection for Derek in private, letting it grow and sprout as their time together gradually turned into not-so-platonic interactions. Derek was a touchy person, and even though Spencer would usually avoid contact at all costs, when it was Derek, it wasn’t so bad.
One of Derek’s favorite things to do was to caress his hair on the jet when they were on their way home after a long and stressful case. It was soothing, calming, and sometimes he found it hard to believe that the same fingers that gently combed through his chestnut curls had been wrapped around a handgun just hours before.
That affection blossomed, and soon enough, they were in a full fledged relationship. They didn’t ever come out to the rest of the team, but Derek didn’t really try to keep it a secret either. He began to call him other pet names, and although pretty boy would forever be their mutual favorite, Spencer appreciated ‘baby’ and ‘sweetheart’ too. He was amazed by how confident Derek was when it came to their relationship in public, because when they went out together, Derek always wanted to hold his hand and wrap an arm around him, but if Spencer was having a moment of touch aversion, he would never push it, and would allow Spencer to initiate the contact between them, and even if he couldn’t handle it throughout the duration of the night, Derek never mentioned it.
The first time they had sex was incredible.
Derek was so gentle, so loving, and he took his time with Spencer since he was inexperienced in the realm of intimacy. Spencer had been with Ethan throughout the majority of his time in college, and over the years he had slept with a few men and women here and there, but most of those occasions were rare one night stands; he wasn’t in the double digits (possibly even triple) like Morgan was. But Derek assured Spencer that he wasn’t a number, he never would be, because this wasn’t just a hookup to him. He wanted it to be long term, and Spencer couldn’t be happier.
Their sex life was perfect. Spencer wouldn’t change a thing about it, because Derek really was the best partner for him. He cared about Spencer’s enjoyment and pleasure far more than his own, and on more than one occasion, Derek had spoiled Spencer without expecting him to return the favor.
“Sex isn’t a favor that needs to be returned, Spence,” Derek had chastised him after one of those times, his fingers cupping the sharp line of his jaw. They lay together, both naked beneath the soft sheets of Derek’s bed. Their legs lay intertwined together, Spencer’s toes curling against the back of Derek’s muscular calf. “It’s an honor, to be able to physically show my love for you.”
“You mean that?” Spence asked, raising his hand up to cup Derek’s hand over his rosy cheek, “It’s an honor?”
“An honor,” Derek confirmed, leaning in and kissing the tip of his nose, a smile spreading across Spencer’s face, “to love you.”
If Spencer had liked his routine before, he liked it even more now. Almost everyday after work, he spent the evening at Derek’s house, sharing dinner with him and spending the night the majority of days. Derek had been over to his apartment a few times, but they had never spent the night there together, much less had sex in his apartment. It was always at Derek’s house, not that that was a problem, but sometimes Spencer preferred the comfort of his own home.
But Spencer invited Derek to his apartment after work, and although Derek looked a little surprised, he instantly complied. They arrived together in the other man’s car since Spencer most often took the subway, and together they entered the organized chaos of his book-laden apartment. Even though it looked messy, everything was meticulously placed just as Spencer liked it. The stacks of books around the apartment were placed in alphabetical order and the ones on the shelves followed the Dewey decimal system. Derek knew better than to disturb his books; Spencer had threatened to get Penelope to hack his computer if he ever messed with his organization, and Derek was quick to surrender and kiss away the pout on Spencer’s lips.
“Do you want to watch a movie?” Derek asked him, and Spencer instantly bobbed his head yes, a crooked smile on his face after Derek kissed him again. The two got comfy in their PJs (Derek used the ones from his go-bag). Spencer had on a pair of gray sweatpants and one of Derek’s sweatshirts, and Derek wore black Nike basketball shorts and a tank top. The two made a bowl of popcorn to share and eventually settled in and watched a documentary on ocean life, but halfway through, their cuddling soon turned into a make-out session, nothing too wild, and both were pretty tame for the most part. Derek liked to touch Spencer’s legs, but Spencer pulled away from the kiss when he felt his touch traveling upwards, halting his partner by putting his hands over top of Derek’s when he remembered something quite crucial:
His stuffed animals were on his bed.
“What’s wrong, baby?” Derek asked, mouthing up the column of his neck, the alabaster skin flushed warmly. When Spencer didn’t respond right away, Derek pulled back immediately, scanning his lover’s face in concern. “Spence?”
“I just... I’m tired, Derek,” he said softly. Derek frowned, squeezing his thighs gently and letting them rest there, not making any further moves to grope him. Of course Derek would be able to tell if something was wrong, Spencer realized, he was a behavioral profiler for Christ’s sake!
“Pretty boy,” he murmured, raising a hand up to touch his face gently, swiping a thumb over the arch of his cheekbone. “Talk to me. What’s going on?”
“I just... I don’t want you to think any less of me,” Spencer murmured elusively.
“Why would I ever think less of you?” he asked, and Spencer’s hands slid down from Derek’s bare shoulders to his biceps, feeling the muscles rippling under his touch. He didn’t offer a verbal response, simply shrugging lamely. The last thing he wanted was for Derek to think he was childish or immature, and he feared that his stuffed animals would send that impression.
“If you don’t want to talk, that’s fine... But can you show me instead?” Derek asked, and slowly, unsurely, Spencer nodded his head. He stood up from the couch and away from Derek’s touch, and he collected his messenger back from the dining room table. He returned and set it down on the coffee table, lifting the flap and digging around before retrieving his teddy bear, holding it delicately in both hands for Derek to see. Derek frowned, looking over it briefly and then up towards Spencer, confusion clear on his face.
“Babe, I don’t... I don’t understand,” he said slowly, “You have a teddy bear? What about it?”
Spencer took a deep breath and slowly moved to sit down beside him, sitting the bear in his lap. “You don’t think it’s weird?” he asked quietly, looking down at its brown head while twirling the pink ribbon around his fingers.
“Of course not,” Derek said, smiling gently at Spencer and reaching for his hand which Spencer took immediately.
“I have more, you know,” he blurted out, feeling like he was in a safe environment to reveal even more of his secret. But he was smiling brightly, unable to help the feeling of joy he felt since Derek didn’t think he was strange or childish.
“More?” he repeated, “As in, more teddy bears?”
“More stuffed animals,” he corrected before explaining further, “I like the texture of them. They’re soft and they help me calm down after a long day.”
“Oh yeah?” Derek hummed, “You stim with them?”
“Yeah,” Spencer said before shrugging, “They just... I don’t know. They make me feel safe, I guess. They comfort me.”
“I hope I can be a source of comfort for you too, pretty boy,” Derek said, leaning over and kissing his temple before resting his head against Spencer’s. The young doctor just smiled, holding his bear close.
“You already are.”
About a week later, on an off day, Derek invited Spencer over to his apartment so they could spend the day together. He was always excited to spend time with Derek. He always made him feel so giddy, and he could stim freely around Derek without feeling self-conscious or having fear of judgement. Once he made it, Derek was already waiting for him at the door and welcomed him in, closing the door behind him.
“Hi, baby,” Derek said, hugging his lover and greeting him with a sweet kiss. Spencer smiled in response, hugging his lover around the waist.
“Hi, Der,” he hummed, and they kissed again before separating. “I missed you,” he confessed.
“We saw each other yesterday,” Derek reminded him with a laugh, and Spencer just grinned and shrugged, letting Derek lead the way into the living room. On the coffee table sat a lavender box, but Spencer didn’t mention it until Derek reached for it and held it out to him.
“I, um... I got you something,” he murmured, almost shyly, and Spencer blinked, confused.
“Why?” he asked, hesitantly accepting the box that he now realized was a gift box, a royal purple ribbon of silk tied around it carefully.
“I thought you would like it,” Derek offered simply, guiding Spencer to sit down with him on the sofa. Confused yet secretly excited, pale dainty fingers opened up the box carefully, pulling the ribbon loose and lifting the lid. Inside lay a light brown teddy bear, another purple ribbon tied into a bow around its neck. Spencer slowly reached for it and lifted it out of the box, glancing back and forth between it and Derek.
“Do you like it?” Derek asked softly.
Spencer didn’t respond right away, wrapping the ribbon around his fingers and looking into the bear’s black eyes, his head nodding of its own accord. He looked up towards Derek, holding it close with tears in his own light brown eyes.
“I love it,” he said, unable to help the few tears that fell from his eyes. It was such a small gift, but it meant so much to him that Derek thought about him enough to buy a present filled with so much meaning.
“I just... wanted to get you something that reminds you of me, to comfort you,” Derek said, moving to wrap an arm around Spencer’s waist comfortingly. Spencer smiled and leaned into his side, hugging the stuffed bear to his chest.
“I don’t think I’ll need it all that often,” Spencer said honestly, Derek’s hand gently wiping some of his tears away.
“Why’s that?” Derek asked in a gentle voice, and Spencer smiled, turning to meet his eyes.
“Because I have you,” he whispered, “I love you, Derek.”
“I love you too, baby,” Derek’s whisper soon followed, every ounce of love and affection dripping from his deep voice.
And the two shared a kiss, the soft brown bear between them.