A/N: So, I was on YouTube recently and I heard "Song For A Friend" by Jason Mraz and this plot bunny just appeared. I'm completely in love with the song; it's a work of art. I've hit up against a spot of writer's block with "Tears, Tan Lines and Tequila", but an update for that will be arriving on your screens shortly (hopefully). :) I think that's it, so... Yeah, enjoy and please leave a review (even any sort of vague comment generally makes me smile like Reid with free coffee). :P

Warnings; slash, slight sexual references, language.

Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds (the things I'd do if I did).

"I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all"

- Alfred Lord Tennyson.

"Wake up." A soft, cajoling voice sounded in Derek Morgan's ear.

"Mmmnh..." He grunted and turned away from the pleasant voice, burrowing further into the thick duvet.

"Come on, you have to get up!" He felt a weight bouncing on the bed, trying to rouse him.

"Mmmnh..." He grunted again.

"Derek, I made breakfast and if you don't get up right now I'll tell Garcia about every single one of your most ticklish spots. Up!" The voice grew more insistent and demanding.

Derek finally turned back to the person next to him on the bed and sat up.

"You know, Spencer, that I really hate you sometimes?" Derek asked grouchily, rubbing his eyes.

"Ouch, you must be pissed to not call me Pretty Boy." Spencer feigned hurt. "And I know, but you still love me more." He dropped a swift kiss on Derek's lips and got up.

"Here, put these on." He tossed Derek a pair of baby blue boxers. "Breakfast is going cold, so hurry up."

Swinging his feet onto the floor, Derek stood and put on the boxers before following his boyfriend into the kitchen.

He stood in the doorway for a moment, watching Spencer making coffee at the counter. The radio was tuned to an indie station and Spencer was singing along happily, exuberant in his motions.

Unable to resist the chance to surprise him, Derek crept up behind Spencer silently. He waited a moment, and grabbed Spencer's waist roughly.

"Jesus Christ, Derek!" Spencer jumped half a foot in the air, spilling hot coffee all over his hand. "You scared me!"

"Sorry, Pretty Boy." Derek apologised insincerely, suppressing a smirk. He watched as Spencer ran the tap ice cold and held his slightly burnt hand under the spray.

"I'm sure you are." Spencer muttered in annoyance, turning his back to Derek.

Shit, Derek thought, I guess it wasn't as funny as I thought.

He stepped closer to Spencer, gently snaking his arms around the slender man's waist. He pressed a gentle kiss to the jumping pulse point in his younger lover's neck, before resting his chin over Spencer's pale collarbone.

He felt Spencer melt into the embrace.

"Pretty Boy, I'm sorry for accidentally making you burn your hand."

"It's alright. It was just such a waste of good coffee." Spencer joked good-naturedly.

Derek chuckled and turned Spencer around in his arms. He swept his eyes over every inch of the young man's face. He loved Spencer's shoulder length, wavy hair, his huge hazel eyes and his pouty, pink (vastly talented) lips more than he could ever describe.

He reached a hand behind Spencer and turned off the tap, placing a soft, loving kiss on the other man's lips. He felt Spencer's arms wind up around his neck and shivered at the icy water dripping from Spencer's hand down his back.

They broke apart a moment later, foreheads together, each breathing hard.

"It's November 11th. Happy anniversary, Pretty Boy." He breathed.

Spencer's face broke into a wide smile. "I was afraid you'd forgotten. But... I actually cooked something other than cereal for breakfast."

"I don't tell I love you often enough." Derek laughed breathily, caressing Spencer's cheek.

They separated fully, Spencer serving the food onto plates and Derek finishing making the coffee.

They sat down, and Derek regarded the pancakes, bacon and maple syrup on his plate with mock apprehension. He had learned from experience that despite the best of efforts, his boyfriend was sorely lacking in the culinary department. Spencer laughed at the older man's expression, and they settled into light chatter.

He tasted the food cautiously, recalling past bad experiences with Spencer's cooking, and was pleased to find it to be somewhat appetising. "So... We've been together one full year, Pretty Boy, any regrets?" He asked, genuinely curious.

"Besides the fact that it took us eight years to get ourselves together? Well, I wish you had have told me before we bought a house together that you're like a bear in the morning." Spencer teased. "Hmm... Honestly? No, not even one. What about you?"

"No regrets, whatsoever. And I booked us next weekend off work, because I want to make a trip to Chicago." He watched as Spencer absorbed the implication of his words. "I want to introduce you to my family as my partner. If you want to, that is."

Spencer smiled. "I'd love to. But you haven't come out to your family yet, have you?"

"No, but I can't really imagine that it'd bother them. I know that you're already worrying in that big 'ol head of yours, but relax. You've met them before, and they're going to love you even more this time." He smiled and reached across the table to take Spencer's hand. "I'm pretty sure my mama already has an idea that we're together. She asks about you and drops hints from time to time."

Spencer sighed. "You know me too well." He laughed ruefully, but squeezed Derek's hand. "I'll be away on a consult for a few days, but I'll definitely be back by Thursday."

Derek's face cracked into a wide grin, and he surged forward to press a forceful kiss to Spencer's mouth. He pulled back just as quickly, eyes shining with delight. "Since you made breakfast, you can decide what to do today. Anything you want, and I swear I won't complain." He gathered up the breakfast dishes and set about washing them as quickly as possible.

...

"I can't believe that this, of all things, is what you choose to do on our anniversary." Derek looked around in resignation, shaking his head. "You really are something, Pretty Boy."

Spencer looked at Derek in indignation. "You promised you wouldn't complain! Besides, I spent last Saturday in the garage passing you spanners and whatnot just so you could fix that old motorbike."

"Excuse me, but 'that old motorbike` is a genuine Harley Davidson Knucklehead from 1940. It's vintage, and you should have the decency to pretend to respect it! At least in the garage you get to see me covered in axle grease and shirtless... A day in the space exhibits of the Smithsonian is seriously testing my tolerance for nerdyness." Still feigning disgust, he threw an arm around Spencer's shoulders and strode through the front entrance.

Spencer gave him the very best kitten glower he could muster.

He just laughed and ruffled the other man's hair, before approaching the ticket desk alone.

"Two adults, please." He dug through his jeans for his wallet, ignoring the way the young woman selling tickets was eyeing him appreciatively.

"Here you go." She shot him her best smile and passed him the two tickets, along with her name and number.

He was discreetly throwing her number in the nearest bin when Spencer rejoined him.

"Unbelievable!" Spencer shook his head. "You don't even have to try and women just throw themselves at your feet!"

"You know that I don't even look at women, or men for that matter, anymore. Why would I?" He smiled at Spencer, and leaned in close to whisper in his ear. "And right about now, the ticket girl is probably watching me and putting it together that we're a couple. I bet you ten bucks that she'll avoid eye contact if we kiss."

"You're on." Spencer grinned and lightly kissed Derek on the lips.

The second they broke apart, he discreetly looked in the ticket girl's direction. She was studiously ignoring them and blushing slightly.

"Damn, you're good." Spencer sighed and handed over the money.

"When you've chatted up as many women as I have, kid, you learn to predict their reactions to everything." He grinned and pocketed the cash. "Now come on, we have early dinner reservations."

...

Several hours later, the two were on their way home to change for dinner.

"Come on, it wasn't as bad as the time we got stuck at the table with Garcia and Hotch at JJ's engagement party." Spencer reasoned.

"I don't think anything could be as bad as that." Derek admitted, shuddering at the memory. He, Spencer, Hotch, Kevin and Garcia had all been sitting alone at the same table when Garcia, after too much wine, had decided that it would be fun to hint to Hotch about Spencer and Derek's budding relationship. Nearly an hour of sexual innuendos and not-so-subtle hints later, Kevin had took Garcia home. The death glares they'd gotten from Hotch were still scathing to think of.

Spencer laughed as he relived the memory, nodding in agreement.

"Besides," Derek stroked the back of Spencer's hand, which he was holding over the centre console. "I love spending time with you. If you're happy, then I'm happy, even if it's in a Star Wars convention." He smiled at the other man as he parked his jeep in the drive of their shared house.

They were running late for dinner, so they hurried inside and changed in a flurry of activity.

Spencer entered the bathroom ten minutes later to find Derek, shirtless, forcing a white gold stud through the partially closed up hole in his earlobe. He smiled at the sight. Derek knew he loved it whenever he put the earring in.

Derek was forcing a stud into the other ear when he glanced over at Spencer.

"Just let me grab a shirt and jacket, and I'll be ready. Your shoes are under the couch in the living room, before you ask." Derek breezed out of the bathroom, leaving Spencer to suppress a smile at how his boyfriend could anticipate his question before he voiced it.

They met in the hall five minutes later, each finally ready.

"You look gorgeous." Derek smiled and kissed Spencer softly, drinking in every detail. The other man was wearing a pair of extremely tight dark blue skinny jeans Garcia had gotten him as a "subtle hint" shortly after he and Derek had begun dating, a black shirt open at the top to reveal his milky collarbones and the silver chain Derek had given him on his birthday. He looked positively edible.

Spencer blushed at the compliment. "Clearly I'm not the only one." He mumbled and gestured at Derek in his gunmetal grey slacks and deep purple shirt, feeling slightly weak kneed at the sight of the beautiful apparition in front of him.

"Seriously? Even after a year with me, you can't just smile and accept a compliment graciously?" Derek teased. "I thought I was a better boyfriend than that."

He backed Spencer up against the wall, placing an arm either side of his shoulders to trap him there. He leaned in dangerously close, until he could smell his lover's favourite strawberry shampoo. He grazed his nose along Spencer's jaw, and skimmed his lips against the other man's collarbone.

He knew he was reducing Spencer to a quivering mass of shallow breathing and physical sensations.

"No, no. You've... Been a perfect gentleman." Spencer eventually managed to get out.

"I know I have. I even waited seven entire dates for any kind of sexual encounter." Derek chuckled and drew back. "Now come on, I had to book nearly a month ago to get us a table at this place, and there's no way I'm missing it."

...

Spencer knew that Derek wanted to surprise him with the restaurant, and had restrained himself from asking. He watched the streets pass by and change as Derek drove further and further downtown, towards an area Spencer knew to be filled with concert venues and theatres.

They remained in comfortable silence until Derek parked behind a small, nondescript looking Indian restaurant.

They got out of the car and walked across the parking lot, Spencer snuggling into Derek's side as Derek's arm wrapped around him. Curiosity burning, Spencer surveyed the interior of the tiny restaurant. It was beautifully decorated in gold and various other strong, bold colours, and each table was pleasantly secluded from the others.

"Hey, Paula." Derek smiled as a small, slender young woman approached them.

"Derek! It's a pleasure to see you." She had a slight accent, and dimples showed on both cheeks when she smiled.

After they were seated, Spencer shot Derek a curious look. "How do you two know each other?"

"Paula used to baby sit for my old college buddy a few years ago, when his son was too young for play school. Her mother opened this place a few years after their family moved here from Pakistan, and she took over the business last year." Derek shrugged and smiled. "I know you love Indian food, and this is the best in town that I know of."

"That's very sweet of you." Spencer smiled slowly, touched by the simple gesture.

Derek reached across the table and took Spencer's hand, squeezing gently.

The evening passed in a flurry of good food, good wine and laughter; reminiscing over everything, both good and bad, that had happened in the past year. Before they knew it, they were once again hurrying through the front door, this time doing everything possible to avoid breaking their furious kiss.

Unable to lock the door without turning around, Derek murmured something unintelligible and broke the kiss momentarily.

Spencer hastened out of his shirt, fumbling with the buttons, while the older man shooed Clooney into the laundry room.

Feeling a hot, wet mouth nipping and sucking at his neck, Spencer spun around to meet the lust filled gaze of his partner. He rushed to undo the buttons of Derek's shirt while they battled for dominance of the kiss, tongues twining and sliding over each other in perfect synchronisation.

Finally managing to rid his darker counterpart of the offending shirt, Spencer cupped Derek's face in both hands, feeling the older man's hands slide downwards to grope his ass.

They started backing down the hall, stumbling slightly, when Spencer jumped up, wrapping his legs around his lover's waist tightly. Derek, unprepared, stepped back quickly to regain his balance, hitting his head slightly on the door frame to the kitchen. He broke the kiss, jerking away from the wall. Upon seeing the look on the other man's face, Spencer let out a peal of laughter that rang through the house like wind chimes.

With an electric magnetism, their lips somehow melded together once more with no conscious movement, and the only sound was that of the bedroom door slamming closed.

...

Tuesday morning found Derek at his desk, expending more energy looking busy than working. Spencer had left with Rossi the previous afternoon for a consult in Maryland. He and Prentiss had spent the last hour idly chatting and slowly filling out paperwork from the last month of back to back cases. Seeing that Hotch was writing up reports in his office, and JJ was reviewing potential new cases in hers, he decided to call Spencer.

Drawing his phone out of his pocket, he turned his back to Prentiss for some semblance of privacy.

It rang two and a half times before Spencer picked up. "Missing me already?" His teasing voice spoke over the line.

"I'm avoiding paperwork... It's a lot harder when I can't slip you a few files." Derek was helpless to prevent the smile that spread across his face at the sound of his boyfriend's voice. "How's Maryland?"

"It was a simple enough case; we're just waiting for a warrant to search the UnSub's house. Rossi managed to antagonise the local sheriff within ten minutes of arriving here, so I'll be glad to go home." Derek knew by his inflection that Spencer was rolling his eyes at Rossi's behaviour. "One of the deputies asked me if I was lost! I told him I was FBI and he didn't believe me; he said I looked 'too meek.'"

"He should see you in bed." Derek grinned, hearing Prentiss snort with laughter from behind him.

"Har har har." Despite his dry, sarcastic tone, Derek could almost hear the blush creeping up Spencer's neck. "As hilarious as you are, I have to go. The warrant just got faxed over."

"Be careful, okay? For me."

"I promise. I love you."

"I love you, too. See you tomorrow." Derek hung up, and was staring at his phone contemplatively when Prentiss' voice cut across his internal musings.

"Are you aware of how sickeningly cute you two are?" She asked with a smirk.

"Umm... No?"

"Well, you are. Garcia calls you, and I quote; her 'little gay bundles of adorability.'" Her smirk grew to a full blown grin.

He was thankful for his dark skin that hid his blush, and fixed Emily with an unimpressed, weirded out look. "I'm going to go get more coffee, when I get back please pretend that this conversation never happened." He rose quickly from his desk; eager to escape Emily's teasing comments.

...

A knock sounded on the front door of the house Derek shared with Spencer, causing Clooney's barks to reverberate throughout the space. He checked his watch. 10:48 PM. Derek had been filling out the paperwork to finalise the sale of one his houses, and was surprised at the intrusion. He laid his glasses on the desk and made his way to the front door.

"Hotch," He greeted the other man. "What are you doing here?"

The older man looked more haggard than Derek had ever seen him, and while his scowl was absent, his eyes were despondent.

"Nothing good, I'm afraid." Hotch wrung his hands, something unheard of for him. That made Derek's gut clench in foreboding.

Wordlessly, he opened the door farther and stepped back.

He closed the door behind Hotch and led him through to the living room.

"Can I get you anything?" He offered, more out of courtesy than anything else.

Hotch shook his head. His face wasn't set in its usual stoic mask, instead sadness and worry showed abundantly clearly in his features. He seemed to have aged ten years since that afternoon.

The dread in his stomach intensifying, Derek sat down and motioned for Hotch to do the same.

The silence in the room was deafening. Unable to take it anymore, he spoke. "Hotch, what's this about?"

Hotch hesitated before answering.

"I don't know how to tell you this." He took a deep breath. "Rossi called me half an hour ago. He, Reid and several police officers were raiding an UnSub's house, and..." Hotch looked like he would have given anything to be anywhere else. "They cleared the house, and were searching for clues about where the UnSub had hidden himself and his victim, when Reid went down to the basement alone. The UnSub was hiding down there, and took Reid hostage. They tried to talk him down, but he snapped. He shot Reid. Reid and the UnSub were both declared dead on arrival." Hotch's brown eyes sparkled with latent moisture, but he forced himself to look at Derek. "For what it's worth, I am so incredibly, deeply sorry for your loss."

Derek remained still, unable to react to what Hotch was telling him.

The news was too monumental to absorb. He and Spencer had only been together for a year, but his entire life was already built around them as a couple. The idea that his Pretty Boy was gone was incomprehensible. He felt completely numb. He felt like he was disconnected from the situation, as if he were observing someone else's life come crashing down around them, totally separate from himself. There was no urge to cry, only a hollow, wrenching, indescribable feeling in his chest.

"Is there anyone you want me to call?" Hotch asked, seeing that he had no reply.

"No." He whispered.

"Do you want me to stay tonight?" Helplessness was written across Hotch's face.

"Just go."

Hotch stood, looking uncertain. "I'll lock the door on my way out. Take as much time off as you need." He began to leave the room, pausing awkwardly by Derek's side. He began to extend his hand to squeeze the other man's shoulder, but lowered it just as slowly, realising the futileness of the gesture. "I'm sorry." Hotch repeated.

Then Derek was alone.

He waited in silence for the weight of Hotch's revelation to hit him.

His numbness remained ice cold in his chest.

He began to shiver violently, knowing somewhere in the back of his mind that he shouldn't be this cold with the heating on.

Vaguely aware of what he was doing, he stood and walked to the kitchen. He grabbed an almost full bottle of whiskey and a thick blanket and returned to his silent post on the couch. Unscrewing the cap, he took a long draught straight from the bottle.

He gasped at the trail the alcohol burned down his throat, but the ice cold weight still crushed his chest. He lay back on the couch and threw the blanket over himself, vaguely aware of Clooney pushing his wet nose against the palm of his hand.

He took a swig of the whiskey again, eager to prolong his feeling of detachment from the situation. His brain seemed to have split in two, one half shocked and reeling and unable to comprehend the horrendous enormity of Spencer being dead, and the other watching at a safe distance, telling his body what to do with a clinically detached efficiency.

His thoughts chased each other around in endless circles in his head. Spencer. Gone. Never coming back.

He thought of the moments they would never again share, the things they would never do. How would he get by, never again to smell Spencer's strawberry shampoo, or see his big doe eyes widen in honest confusion when someone made a cultural reference? Who would he slip his excess files to at work? What would he do with the hundreds of books scattered throughout their shared house? Suddenly, the house seemed very big.

He thought of the way his lover used to smell; like caffeine, shampoo and books. The way he used to taste; like coffee and unhealthy amounts of sugar. The way he used to grin lazily in the morning, sated after a long night of mind-blowing sex. The way his beautiful smile lit up the whole room, brightening the mood of anyone he came into contact with. Derek raised the bottle to his lips again, feeling his numbness begin to slip.

He thought of the things they had always said they would do when they had time, but would now never have the chance to experience. He let out a choked sob at that. They were supposed to have gone to Chicago that weekend to meet Derek's family. Because of his own reluctance to depend on someone else, he would never get the chance to show his mother and sisters how he loved that one man more that he'd ever thought possible. He felt his calm facade crack.

He grabbed the bottle of prescription sleeping pills on the coffee table and shook two out of the white container. Unbidden, Spencer's voice came into his head, warning him about the dangers of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs. The numbness he had tried to cling to snapped, allowing his tidal wave of grief to pour through and wash over him. Ignoring his lover's voice, he tipped the pills into his mouth and downed a swig of whiskey.

The whiskey mingled with the salty taste of tears he hadn't been aware of crying. He lay back, waiting for the sleeping bills to take effect. The pain was incapacitating, a thousand times worse than when Prentiss had seemingly died in his arms. It was even worse than when his father had died; this time he understood what was happening. Being no stranger to pain, he realised that this kind of heart-wrenching agony would never leave him. The void Spencer had left in his life was impossible to fill.

Nothing could be worse than this.

...

"Wake up." A soft, insistent voice sounded in Derek's ear. "Please, wake up, Morgan. I miss you."

Derek felt two soft, familiar warm hands grasping his left hand gently.

He realised he was lying flat on his back, presumably in a bed, and could hear a quiet, annoying beep at regular intervals.

He struggled to open his heavy eyelids, only barely managing to flutter them.

The hands holding his squeezed gently and he heard a chair scoot closer to his bed.

He pried his eyes open with a Herculean effort, and was instantly blinded by the whiteness surrounding him.

The odour of clinical-strength disinfectant assaulted his nostrils, and he realised that he must be in a hospital room.

"Hey." That same achingly familiar voice spoke again. The beeping of his heart monitor increased as his heart began to thump painfully. He wanted so badly to believe that he wasn't imagining the wonderful voice, but knew that it wasn't possible for it to be true.

Sluggish and lethargic, he turned his head to look at the owner of the voice.

He squinted at the man, trying to make his eyes focus.

Eventually, the beautiful apparition before him came into focus.

Spencer smiled widely at him, relief written all over his face.

"You look tired." He croaked; voice hoarse from disuse.

Spencer shook his head, still smiling. "I'm fine. You had me worried. How are you feeling?"

"Me?" Derek was surprised at the question. "I kind of ache everywhere, but I've had worse... Can you get me a glass of water?" He had been about to ask Spencer how he was here when he was supposed to be dead, but decided that ignorance is bliss.

Spencer stood hurriedly and poured a glass of water from the pitcher on the bedside table, passing it carefully to the other man.

Derek found the glass heavy and cumbersome to handle with his weak, underused muscles.

Having drained the glass, he reached out to replace the glass on his bedside table until he felt a sharp pull on the back of his hand. He looked down to see a silver needle shining against his brown skin and wrinkled his nose in distaste. He hated needles.

"I know you hate needles, but it was necessary." Spencer smiled gently and took the glass, leaving it down on the table.

Derek licked his dry lips. "What am I doing here?" He took a deep breath and pressed on. "More to the point, what the hell are you doing here?"

Spencer fixed him with an odd look, but dutifully explained. "The entire team had been called in on a case with a serial rapist who was asphyxiating his victims in Ohio. We were raiding the UnSub's house, and he escaped out the back. You took off after him, chasing him into the forest. I was a few seconds behind you, and I heard a gun go off. When I got there, you were on the ground, shot in the chest, and the UnSub was just a few feet away. I had to shoot him to get to you. The paramedics said that the bullet had lodged right next to your aorta, and that you were lucky to survive. You've been in a medically induced coma for the last twelve days."

He interrupted then. "What the hell was I doing without my vest?"

"We'd cleared the house, and you took it off because you couldn't reach your phone to call Garcia." Spencer's brow furrowed, and his teeth sank into his full bottom lip. "You asked why I'm here... Why wouldn't I be here? You're the best friend I've ever had, and you mightn't have been shot if I had been closer behind you. I told Hotch I'd stay with you for as long as you needed me. He cleared it, so there's no way I'm leaving you now."

He nodded slowly, absorbing this information.

"Pretty Boy..." He began slowly, trying to arrange everything that he thought had happened into a sensible explanation. "Is it possible to have incredibly vivid dreams while in a coma? So vivid that you thought it was real when you first woke up?"

"Scientists know next to nothing about the human mind... Up to one in three coma patients claim to remember something about what was going on around them while they were comatose after they woke up, but dreaming while in a coma has so far been unexplored. There's no scientific evidence to say that it's possible, but there's only very little to suggest that it's impossible. There are four stages of normal sleep, dreaming typically only occurs during stage three REM sleep. Although a coma is different from being asleep in that it can't be divided into the four stages, no one can accurately quantify what it is going on in someone's mind. There's equal argument for both sides. Ethan, my friend from college, was in a coma for three weeks after a brain surgery, and when he woke up he thought he was the Karate Kid." Spencer laughed. "I kid you not; it took me two hours to convince him that he wasn't a ninja."

Derek smiled at the image, but his smile faded quickly into a contemplative expression. Spencer clearly wasn't dead, but the incidents of his dream had been so tangible that he wondered how his subconscious had come up with them.

"The French philosopher, René Descartes, had a theory called solipsism." Spencer continued with his rambling train of thought. "It hypothesised that you are the only living thing in the world, and that all other creatures are figments of your imagination. The quote 'cogito ergo sum' which translates to 'I think therefore I am' was one of his beliefs in support of solipsism." Spencer paused, then suddenly uncrossed his legs and leaned forward, an intent expression on his face. "A few hours ago, you were crying. There were tears running down your face constantly for half an hour. Is that what this is about?"

Not wanting to reveal his comatose mental wanderings, but unable to avoid such a direct question, Derek knew that it was in his best interest to be vague. "Yeah... I remember a few flashes in vivid, evocative detail, but that's it. I have no idea why I was crying."

Spencer appeared unconvinced, but didn't press the matter. "It's common for coma patients to open their eyes, mumble or even laugh without waking up."

Derek nodded, and struggled to hide a jaw cracking yawn.

Spencer smiled and patted his hand. "You look exhausted, try and get some sleep. I'm going to call Hotch and tell him you woke up and that you're fine." Derek watched as the other man stood and left the room, until he was alone with his thoughts.

Being a profiler, Derek was painfully aware of the fact that most dreams were suppressed urges manifested by the subconscious. He had known since college that he was bisexual, so it didn't bother him that he was attracted to another man. What did bother him was that what he'd previously been able to write off as a crush or sexual curiosity towards the BAU's resident genius was clearly a lot more deep-seated, and if he admitted his feelings to Spencer and they were unrequited, he would lose his best friend, regardless of having to work alongside him every day.

...

Derek was discharged from hospital the next day, with strict orders to not go into the field again for at least three weeks.

The BAU jet was waiting at the airstrip to take himself and Spencer back to Quantico.

He had neglected to mention anything about his comatose dream to Spencer, and they were as close as ever.

He was aware that Spencer knew he was hiding something, and was thankful that he didn't attempt to force it out of him.

They spent the flight back to Quantico playing poker and chatting idly, until they touched down in Virginia.

He was surprised when Spencer threw their bags into the back of the FBI issued SUV and slid into the driver's seat. In the eight years they had worked together, Spencer had only ever driven on a case once that he knew of.

The drive passed in comfortable silence, Spencer focusing on the road and Derek absent-mindedly leaning his forehead against the window. He was surprised for a moment when Spencer turned into the drive of a vaguely familiar house. It took him a minute to put it together that he lived here. For some reason, he had expected the house that he had shared with Spencer in his dream. Hiding his disappointment, he gingerly got out of the car.

He cautiously limped up the drive, trying to avoid aggravating his innumerable aches and pains.

He unlocked the door and made his way to the living room, groaning at the ache in his right knee as he sat on the couch. His old football injury rarely acted up, but it was extremely painful when it did. Spencer appeared at the sitting room door, trailed by Clooney, who was sniffing the visitor furiously.

"Do you want coffee?" Spencer offered, eyeing Clooney warily.

"Just an ice pack and a beer, if you don't mind. They're in the bottom drawer of the freezer on the left. Help yourself to whatever you want."

Spencer disappeared for a few minutes and returned with two ice packs, a gauze bandage, an opened beer and a huge mug of coffee. He set the coffee and beer on the table. "Put your leg on the coffee table." He gestured at Derek's right leg and started unrolling the gauze.

"What are you doing?" Derek asked, confused.

"You have two bruised ribs, you'll only hurt yourself more if you try and put the ice pack on yourself." Spencer leaned down and gently propped Derek's right leg on the coffee table. He quickly rolled up the other man's jeans and pressed an ice pack to each side of Derek's knee and secured them in place with the gauze bandage. Derek fought to keep his breathing even as he revelled in the electric spark that passed from Spencer's fingers to him.

"Thanks, kid."

Spencer passed him the beer and collapsed onto the couch, looking exhausted. He nursed his coffee, eyelids drooping.

"Pretty Boy, you look ready to collapse. When did you last get a full night's sleep?"

"Before you got shot." Spencer said drowsily. "I was sleeping beside your bed for as long as you were in hospital, and every time a nurse came into check on you I woke up."

"You didn't have to do that for me." Derek kept his voice neutral, but his heart leapt at the idea that Spencer cared so much.

"I'm fine. It was worth it to know that you were doing okay." Spencer smiled tiredly over his rapidly draining coffee cup.

"Take my guest room. You'll cause an accident if you try and drive home tonight. I'm not taking no for an answer, so don't even try and argue with me." Derek fought to keep the giddy smile off his face.

"I would have stayed anyway to keep an eye on you." Spencer set his mug down on the coffee table. He extended a hand to pull Derek to his feet. Derek took it and struggled upright, laughing weakly.

"Why are you laughing?" Spencer looked at him weirdly.

"My knee and my ribs are fucking killing me." Derek got out between chuckling fits. Every wheezing chuckle set a shot of pain through his midsection, but he couldn't stop. As strange as it was, his entire body hurt so much it was funny.

Spencer rolled his eyes and slipped an arm around Derek's waist. "Where's your room?"

Getting his laughing under control, Derek realised that there was no way he could get upstairs with his bad knee. "I can't go upstairs, so we're gonna have to share the guest room, or else you can sleep in my bed. Guest room's the last door on the right."

"I move a lot in my sleep, I'll probably only hurt you. If you're sure you don't mind, I'll sleep in your bedroom." Spencer allowed Derek to lean most of his weight on him and they moved down the hall slowly. They awkwardly shuffled through the door of the guest room, and Derek lay back on the bed, too tired to change his clothes.

"Goodnight, Derek." Spencer exited the room, turning off the light as he went.

He called me Derek. Not Morgan, Derek. Derek smiled involuntarily in the dark, wondering if it had just been a slip of the tongue, or something more. Spencer had clearly been exhausted, which meant that it had probably been his preferred name for his best friend. On the other (wishfully thinking) hand, he could have been distancing himself and Derek from their everyday lives, where they saw each other as co-workers every second of the day. In the privacy of his own head, Derek saw no harm in letting himself believe that maybe that was true, and that he possibly wasn't the only one with unresolved feelings.

...

Spencer trudged up the stairs of Derek's house, mentally kicking himself for calling Morgan by his first name in his exhaustion. He knew that he had feelings for the other man; his heart had fluttered the very first time he had laid eyes on him in all his glory. He had accepted within moments of meeting him that no matter how much he wanted otherwise, they would always just be colleagues. Over the years they had become close friends, and now he had to live with the object of his affections for a week or so and act normal.

He stripped down to his boxers and collapsed into Derek's bed, inhaling deeply the scent of Derek that clung to the sheets and pillows. He breathed in the scent again, snuggling deeper into the blankets so the wonderful smell enveloped his senses.

He was fucked.

...

Derek was woken the next day by a weight pressing down on his mattress.

He sat up and rubbed his eyes blearily, seeing Spencer sitting on the edge of his bed holding a bowl of cereal and glass of orange juice.

"I would have made you something better, but I can't cook." Spencer smiled awkwardly and passed him the cereal. He put the orange juice on the bedside table.

Derek thanked the younger man and munched the cereal, happy to let the comfortable silence remain.

When he reached for the orange juice, he saw that it was nearly 4 PM.

"Did I really sleep that long?" He was surprised at the late hour.

"I did too. I think we both needed it." Spencer smiled and fiddled with the hem of his shirt.

"Is that my college football jersey?" Derek furrowed his brow, recognising the red and white stripes.

Spencer blushed furiously. "Yeah. I'm really sorry, but I had no clean clothes left in my go bag, so I borrowed the oldest, smallest shirt and sweat pants of yours that I could find."

"It's fine, it looks good on you." Derek waved it off casually, but his heart thumped loud and fast in his chest at the sight of the man in front of him wearing his college football jersey. It was every man's fantasy, right before his eyes.

Spencer's blush intensified. Even though the shirt swamped him, and the sweat pants looked like they were about to fall off, he looked unbelievably hot.

"I have the next week off work, so I'll go home tomorrow and get some clean clothes." Spencer studied his hands intently as he spoke.

Derek nodded. "I don't think I can walk any more than I need to, so what do you say to watching a movie? I think I have popcorn in the kitchen."

Spencer smiled and nodded. "You probably need a few minutes to use the bathroom... I'll go make coffee."

Spencer took the empty bowl and glass from Derek and left the room.

Derek hissed as he carefully put weight on his right leg. Hobbling to the bathroom, he hurriedly showered, brushed his teeth and got dressed.

Fifteen minutes later, he limped into his living room to see two steaming mugs of coffee and a huge bowl of popcorn on the table. Spencer was bent down, putting a disc into the DVD player. He grabbed the remote and turned around, smiling when he saw Derek.

He lowered himself onto the couch next to Derek, careful not to jostle the other man's leg.

"What are we watching?" Derek asked, leaning over the back of the couch to get a blanket.

"The Dark Knight, I don't care if you've already seen it." Spencer drew his legs underneath him and reached for his coffee.

He didn't reply, spreading the blanket over himself and Spencer. They settled into silence, observing the story playing across the flat screen across the room. He picked up the bowl of popcorn and wedged it between his thigh and Spencer's.

Twenty minutes into the movie, he reached into the bowl, inadvertently brushing his hand against Spencer's. He involuntarily jerked away from the electricity sparked by the contact, cursing his shitty luck. He heard Spencer's breath catch, and knew he wasn't the only one to feel it. It occurred to him that maybe it hadn't been wishful thinking that Spencer reciprocated his feelings.

He felt his arm creep around the back of the couch of its own volition, so that it rested just behind Spencer's shoulders, not quite touching them.

He held his breath, waiting to see the other man's reaction. The gesture was unobtrusive, it could be interpreted as innocent, but he waited to see whether or not Spencer would lean back into his arm.

Hearing a soft sigh, he watched from the corner of his eye as Spencer slowly shifted his weight backwards. He drew his arm closer around Spencer's shoulders, exhaling softly.

He hardly noticed the movements of the characters on screen, every ounce of his attention focused on keeping his pulse steady. He wondered what Spencer read from their chosen sitting position. He wanted so badly to believe that it meant the same to the pale, slight man under his arm as it meant to him, but refused to get his hopes up.

An eternity later, but still too soon, the movie ended and silence fell over the room. At some stage Clooney had snuck in unnoticed and now lay at his feet. Neither he nor Spencer moved away from the other. He knew that this was probably the best opportunity he was ever going to get to tell his Pretty Boy how he felt, and an internal war raged in his head whether or not to do so.

The phone rang in the kitchen, and Spencer started to get up to answer it.

Derek's hand snaked out and grabbed his wrist.

"Wait..." The idea of losing him, even only momentarily, made up Derek's mind.

Spencer looked at his wrist and slowly raised his eyes back to the other man.

Derek withdrew his hand and gestured to Spencer to sit down again.

He watched as Spencer did so, seemingly in slow motion.

He searched for words, at a loss what to say.

The phone had long since stopped ringing.

Spencer sat quietly, expectant hazel eyes turned full force on him.

"I don't really know how to say this..." He stalled, wondering if it was too late to back out.

His eyes flicked over a picture of himself and his dad on his first day of school, and he remembered how happy and excited he had been.

He felt his resolve strengthen and pressed on.

"Pretty Boy, I've known you nearly nine years now, and I've come to value you as one of the best friends I've ever had." His throat was dry, and he had to force his next words out. "But, the truth is that's not what I want. I have feelings for you, Spencer... I want to be the person you call at four in the morning when the nightmares get too bad, the person who makes you smile when life doesn't seem worth living... I know I don't have the best track record, but I would never intentionally hurt you. I don't know exactly when I started to want you in my life as more than a friend, but it was long enough ago that I'm tired of hiding it. I kind of think I love you."

He resolutely studied his shaking hands, afraid to look at Spencer.

"Derek, look at me." Spencer spoke softly.

There it was again, Spencer calling him by his first name.

He took a deep breath and raised his eyes slowly to the other man's face.

He exhaled unsteadily at the sight of the beautiful, exultant smile on Spencer's face.

He watched, struck dumb, as Spencer slowly leaned forward, eyes flicking between Derek's eyes and his lips.

Derek let his eyes fall closed when he felt Spencer's warm breath fan across his lips.

He felt a pair of soft lips brush against his, and electricity zinged through his entire being. He inhaled quickly and leaned into the kiss, reaching out to pull Spencer closer. He felt the other man comply eagerly, scooting forward nearly into his lap. The soft lips grew more insistent, pressing and moving against his in ways he wouldn't have thought the young genius capable of. He ran his tongue across Spencer's plush bottom lip, hearing him moan quietly. Emboldened by the moan, he pushed his tongue into the hot, wet mouth that was only too willing to receive him. He explored the other man's mouth, dominating the kiss with ease. He savoured the moment, revelling in the feeling of Spencer's tongue sliding under and around his, licking and sucking gently.

All too soon, they broke apart, gasping. He closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against Spencer's breathing heavily.

Spencer reached up to caress the other man's cheek, whispering between ragged breaths. "I kind of know that I love you." A wide smile spread across his kiss-swollen pink lips.

Derek's heart soared and he smiled, recognising the sentence.

He leaned in again, feeling Spencer move forward into his lap.

This kiss was more leisurely, and Derek felt Spencer's lips stretch into a smile under his.

They stayed on the couch for hours, talking about anything and everything, kisses interspersed throughout the entire conversation.

Sometime after midnight, Spencer helped Derek hobble back to the guest room.

Derek carefully lay down, and was surprised to see Spencer about to leave the room when he looked up.

"Where do you think you're going?"

"To bed?" Spencer looked uncertain, biting his lip and shifting from foot to foot.

"You're sleeping with me." He patted the bed next to him, not expecting an argument.

Spencer still looked hesitant, glancing between Derek's face and the empty side of the bed.

"Pretty Boy, I'm not going to regret this in the morning, if that's what you're scared of." He spoke gently, looking the paler man dead in the eyes. "I'm not going to try anything, either. I've waited long enough for this; there's no way I'm going to screw it up by forcing you into anything you're not ready for."

A relieved smile appeared on Spencer's face, and he crossed the room quickly to slide into bed next to Derek.

Derek knew without being told to leave the dim lamp on.

He scooted across the bed to spoon against Spencer's back. He drew in close and snaked an arm around the thin man's waist.

He felt Spencer take his hand and snuggle back against his chest.

"I love you, Pretty Boy. Sweet dreams." He murmured in Spencer's ear, inhaling the scent of strawberry shampoo.

"Goodnight, Derek. I love you, too." Came the whispered reply in the dark.

He drew the smaller man tight against him, grinning like the Cheshire cat, completely content as he drifted off to sleep.

It had taken him years of meaningless encounters with strangers and fleeting, casual touches with the man asleep in his arms, but he had finally found peace.

A/N: That little blue button could do with a friend... ;)