He was now more afraid of the dark than ever. It wasn't just the absence of light, the utter and complete blackness that had always caused his slender hands to shake and his stomach to contort itself into knots. Now the darkness bore a new, more sinister hue, shimmering and breathing down his neck whenever he turned his back on it. When he peered into shadows a pair of shining brown eyes, glazed over with zeal and whispering religious accusations, glared back, making his breath catch in his throat. "Spencer," Raphael whispered from the corners and crevices where night could not be extinguished, and shivers crackled up and down Spencer's spine. Everywhere he turned, from his desk at the BAU to his bedroom, Raphael's cold eyes followed, leaving his skin prickly and hypersensitive from their gaze. Spencer's long fingers tapped nervously on the pile of papers on his desk, his caramel-colored eyes flicking nervously around the BAU offices, which were emptying out as the workday came to a close. All of the members of the team remained apart from Morgan and Emily, who presumably had plans elsewhere. The sun was shrinking away from night's approach outside, casting deep shadowy rivers across the floor. Spencer stared at these shadows, his vision blurring and causing their edges to pulsate and stretch. The more he stared the more he could feel Raphael breathing down his neck, and he winced and snapped his stare elsewhere, subconsciously pulling at his right shirtsleeve.

At that moment Aaron Hotchner walked out of his office, his short black hair glinting red in the sunset glow. His penetrating gaze landed on Spencer as he rubbed his arm, and Spencer quickly shoved his hand in his pocket and ducked his head, pretending to read his report, a slow blush sparking in his cheeks. He bit the inside of his cheek as he waited for the special agent to pass by. To his surprise, however, the clack of Hotch's shoes on the tile floor stopped by his desk, and he looked up to see the older agent staring down at him.

"I'm staying with you tonight," he said simply and though it was abrupt, his dark brown eyes betrayed some concern. For a split second Spencer's heart began to race uncontrollably as he completely misinterpreted what Hotch meant, but it calmed somewhat when he remembered the team's resolve for him to have company every night until he could sleep straight through the night without waking up screaming.

"O-oh, okay," replied Spencer, and he hoped Hotch wouldn't notice the slight quaver in his voice as he struggled to calm his still thudding heartbeat. "So I figure we'll leave in about ten minutes, okay?" "Yeah, that's, uh, that's good." With that Hotch turned heel and strode back to his office to pack up his things. Spencer furrowed his brows as he walked away, and sat back in his chair. The offices were nearly empty, and the team was beginning to disperse as well. Rossi tossed a quick "good night, kid," over his shoulder as he left. Spencer sighed, sifting through which reports he would bring home to complete. Before he got very far, two hands grabbed his bony shoulders and a sweet perfume wafted over him.

"So who's staying with my little Reid tonight, hmm?" asked Garcia, her blond hair glowing almost translucently in the fading sunlight. She smiled radiantly, and Spencer smiled back almost instinctively. When Garcia stayed over, only two days after the incident, they had stayed up late watching classic movies and having mini popcorn fights, and she stayed up on her laptop, doing god knows what, until he fell asleep on the couch beside her. That night he slept fitfully, as he had ever since, but each time he woke she woke too, ready with comforting words and assurances. "Hotch is," he replied, and Garcia smiled a secret little smile. Spencer wanted to ask what she was smirking about, but part of him didn't want to hear the answer. Whatever inside joke she had, he didn't want to know.

"Well you two have a good night, then," she said, indulging in a tinkly little laugh. "Later, handsome." She waved as she sauntered out the door, her rings sparkling. "I'm heading out, too," said JJ, slinging a messenger bag over her shoulder. She walked over and ruffled Spencer's hair, and his heart fluttered a bit, despite their failed attempt at romance. "Have a good night. Bye, Hotch!" she called, and Spencer heard Hotch reply, his deep voice echoing throughout the office and sending inexplicable shivers crackling up and down Spencer's spine.

Hotch walked out of his office, his briefcase in hand, and looked around, surprised, at the bare offices.

"Guess I didn't realize how late it was," he said. "We should get going." "Yeah, of course. Okay. I'm all set." They got up to leave together and made hesitant small talk until they stepped outside into the brisk Virginia breeze, under the watchful gaze of the twinkling stars. They walked together to Hotch's SUV, glinting a cool blue under the night sky.

Hotch went around and opened the passenger side door for Spencer, tossing his briefcase in the back at the same time. Spencer couldn't help but grin a little as he slid onto the slick leather seat, feeling almost as if he was on a date. Then he shook his head, his hair brushing his cheek and tickling it a little, and tried to clear his mind of such dangerous and unfounded thoughts.

Hotch cleared his throat as he sat down in the driver's seat, slamming the door against the nighttime chill. He clicked his seatbelt into place and adjusted the rearview mirror slightly before starting the car, which awoke with a low growl and illuminated the silky black pavement in front of it.

Spencer stared out at the passing nighttime plateau as the car purred along Quantico's sleepy streets, his eyes flicking past every fleeting car and house, allowing his mind to wander. He found himself wondering how Hotch's hair was so very thick and full for a man his age. It shone in the light, and Spencer glanced at his long, thin fingers, clasped tightly together on his lap. What would it feel like to run those fingers through Hotch's hair? And what would that lead to? Spencer shook his head slightly once more, attempting to scramble his thoughts. He knew the conscious mind could process about sixteen bits of information at a time, but he was almost positive all of the information his mind was currently reviewing pertained to Special Agent Aaron Hotchner.

Spencer's mind whirled with these dangerous thoughts and his body started to react. He started to blush once again, butterflies spawning in his stomach unexpectedly. To his immense embarrassment he started to grow hard as he contemplated the very short distance between Hotch and himself, and he subtly covered the bulge with his hands, focusing instead on the stretch of grass outside the car.

A barn flashed by, only half-visible through the gloom.

Spencer visibly recoiled from the window as Raphael growled in his mind.

"Are you okay?" asked Hotch, glancing over at Spencer before returning his gaze to the road. His deep voice broke through Spencer's panic, and Raphael receded with a hiss.

"Y-yeah, I'm fine," replied Spencer, looking up in time to notice the exit they'd have to take to get to his house. "Oh- this is the exit-" he started to say, but Hotch had already switched lanes onto the exit ramp.

"You, uh, know where to go?" asked Spencer, biting his lip to keep from smiling. "Oh, er, yes. I know where all of the members of my team live." This was the first time Spencer had ever seen Hotch uncomfortable. It delighted him. Hotch asked for directions when they got off of the highway and Spencer complied, but part of him wondered if he really needed them. His heart leapt at the thought.

Soon they pulled into the driveway of Spencer's little one-story ranch, and Spencer showed Hotch inside, slightly embarrassed that his house looked barely lived-in. He wasn't one for clutter- each action he did was deliberate, and when he was finished eating dinner or watching TV he carefully placed things back where he found them. The only thing breaking up the cleanliness were books strewn about the rooms, on the arms of chairs or stacked in neat little piles beside tables. Spencer never read one book before starting another one, for he finished them too quickly to bother. Instead he reached for the nearest book whenever he wanted to read one.

"So this is where the genius resides," said Hotch lightly, and Spencer grinned at the compliment, although he'd been called a genius and various synonyms so many times it barely registered anymore.

"Yeah," he said, setting his messenger bag down on the kitchen chair. "So, uh, I suppose you can sleep on that couch"-he pointed to the couch in the living room- "and I'll be in that room over there." Pointing down the hall to his room, Spencer looked over and saw a flicker of annoyance dance across Hotch's face fleetingly. "Oh, I mean, I can take the couch if you want! That was, uh… I mean, statistically couches aren't to blame for back problems as was previously assumed. I'll gladly sleep there."

"No, no, I'll take the couch, Reid. You have enough trouble sleeping as is. It's no bother." Spencer nodded and bit his lip, staring at the tiled kitchen floor.

"Well, it's pretty late," said Hotch, and he shrugged off his suit jacket and placed it on the arm of the couch he'd be sleeping on. Spencer blushed once again, having never seen Hotch in just his button down shirt and slacks. He had a sudden urge to help take off his tie, but restrained himself, his fingers twitching at his sides.

"Yeah, uh. The bathroom's down there, and, um, if there's anything else you need, I'll, uh, be there."

"Great. Good night, Reid," Hotch said, and Spencer smiled nervously and disappeared down the hall before he could embarrass himself further. As he stripped to put on his pyjamas, he looked down at his skinny, emaciated body and wondered if Hotch would ever find him attractive. He'd known that he was attracted to men for a while now, though he'd also found several women good-looking as well. Hotch was probably as straight as they come. He was married, for god's sake. Sure, they were divorced now, but…

He sighed and pulled on his sweatpants, throwing a t-shirt on as he walked towards his in-suite bathroom to brush his teeth. Right before he climbed between the soft duvet cover and the sheets of his bed, he switched off the overhead light, shuddering slightly as the room darkened. Though his nightstand light still shone brightly, keeping most of the darkness at bay, Spencer's heart beat a little faster. He worried at his lip some more, cinching his eyes shut and trying to make his mind go blank. Eventually he achieved a tenuous sleep.

"Reid, Reid, wake up," someone was saying, and Spencer groggily returned to consciousness with the realization that someone was whimpering. It took him a minute to understand that it was him, that he was whimpering, and that the person whispering soothing words in his ear was none other than Aaron Hotchner. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and he flushed at Hotch's touch, even if it was just to shake him awake.

"What? Oh, god, I'm sorry," he said weakly. "I didn't mean to wake you up. I guess- I mean it- it was just a nightmare."

"It's alright, Reid, you don't have to apologize. Are you okay? Do you need anything, water or something?"

"No, no, I'll be fine." Spencer sighed and let his head drop back onto his pillow, his brows knitting together as a headache seized his temples. It wasn't as bad as some others, but it twinged and filled his thoughts with static.

"Do you need me to stay with you?" Spencer barely realized he was replying when he said "yes". "Move over, then." Hotch gently placed a hand on Spencer's back and he rolled over, allowing Hotch to lie down next to him. That moment his headache broke, and he realized what had happened. His heart leapt into his throat and he was suddenly wide awake, totally aware of Hotch's every move. After about twenty minutes of just lying there, Hotch noticed that Spencer wasn't asleep yet.

"Still can't sleep?" he asked concernedly, and Spencer shook his head, his hair splaying out on his pillow.

"Does this help?" Hotch began to rub small circles on Spencer's back, and he gasped involuntarily. Hotch withdrew his hand quickly, but Spencer groaned, feeling around behind him for Hotch's hand.

He found it and placed it back on his side, barely realizing what he was doing, the risk he was taking. His heart threatened to break out of his chest when Hotch responded by pressing his lips to the back of Spencer's neck. Immediately his entire body was hot, though the room was rather chilly, and every time he felt Hotch's breath on his neck he responded with a sharp intake of breath.

"W-what are we doing?" he gasped, rolling over to face the older agent. Hotch stared steadily back at him with his deep brown eyes, and Spencer lost track of what he was thinking.

"You don't want to?" replied Hotch, and just the sound of his voice made Spencer shudder with longing.

"Of course I want to."

Hotch responded by kissing Spencer on the mouth, working his tongue between his teeth and pressing one hand against Spencer's face. Spencer felt his body react, and he rolled on top of Hotch, and to his delight he felt Hotch's erection against his thigh. It felt good to be wanted, finally, by the man he'd coveted for almost a year.

He leaned across Hotch's body as he fumbled for his nightstand, his hands shaking, and eventually pulled a strip of condoms from the drawer. He threw those behind him so that they landed on the bed, and went back for the bottle of lube he stashed under the bed.

He had to lean almost totally off of the bed to be able to reach it, but Hotch held on to his legs in order to keep him from falling, chuckling to himself. Spencer pushed himself off of the floor and Hotch swung him around so that he lay on the bed again. For a minute they lay face to face, their noses almost touching, smiling madly at each other. Then Hotch nudged him off so he could strip, and Spencer followed his lead, his clothes landing on the floor in a heap.

Hotch moaned with delight as Spencer ran his fingers down his stomach, and responded by reaching down and stroking Spencer's cock. Spencer gasped. "Hotch…" he breathed, and Hotch smiled, kissing him gently before rolling him over and pulling him to his knees. Spencer wasn't thinking about what they were doing or how the office would react as Hotch bucked against him, he wasn't thinking of Raphael or cold eyes or sinning. He was thinking only about how it felt so right, like the world, which had been knocked out of place ever since that horrible night, had suddenly been slotted back into place. When they were done Spencer curled into Hotch's arms, still naked and not caring, feeling content and warm though his legs and groin were rather sore. Hotch sighed, his breath tickling Spencer's hair, and he reached around him to turn off the nightstand light. Spencer wasn't sure if he'd forgotten that he liked to sleep with the light on or if he was testing him, but for some reason his mind didn't recoil from the shadows. Raphael stayed at bay, still present but unimportant.

Spencer closed his eyes and buried his face into Hotch's forearms, which held him tightly. The last thing he heard before he fell into the first deep sleep he'd had since Raphael was Hotch's velvety voice in his ear.

"Sweet dreams, Reid."