At his appointment the next day, Spencer sat on the couch, his leg twitching. The last time he'd sat on a couch like this was when Hotch wanted him to talk about Emily being gone, and before that, when his father left. He wasn't the type of person to talk out his problems and wait for someone to fix them. He was somebody who internalized his issues and waited until he got over them. He kept his gaze down, sighing.
"Spencer?" his therapist asked, trying to get his attention.
"Can you tell me why you're here today?"
He knew she had the clipboard in hand and was ready to make judgments on him he didn't care for. He sighed, exhaling and checking his watch. "Because nearly 24 hours ago, I tried to take my life, and as you can see, was unsuccessful."
"May I ask why you tried?"
He shrugged. "You may."
"Why did you try to take your own life?"
He chewed on the inside of his cheek, choosing his words. "I felt that I didn't have anybody to depend on. Everyone on my team at work seemed to rely on each other, and with there being seven people on the team obviously there's going to be somebody left out. A lot of things happened to me on the job, and I um, I felt as if nobody was really there for me. I finally reached a point where I decided nobody would miss me. I took a week off of work to get it done. It took me a few days to finally decide, but I grabbed the sharpest knife I had, curled up in the bathtub, and gashed my wrist." He held up his wrist that was stitched up.
"How are you here today?" she asked, leaning back in her own chair.
He bit down on his lip. "One of my coworkers decided to check on me. He kicked down my front door, then my bathroom door, and found me three minutes before I was going to die. He pulled me out, put pressure on my wrist, and got an ambulance to the house just in time."
He shrugged. "He happened to think about me at work and check on me. I wouldn't say it was lucky."
"What would you call it?"
"An auspicious coincidence."
He looked up as she continued to write down notes. "Are you at home again?"
He shook his head. "I can't… I'm not sure I can go back there yet. One of my coworkers cleaned up the area and straightened up the apartment, but I don't think I'm in a place where I can face myself there. I have an eidetic memory. I'd remember sitting in the armchair when I decided how I'd end my life. I'd remember looking through several books on the subject and tossing them on the floor when they weren't what I wanted to find. I'd remember not bothering to do the dishes, because I wouldn't be around to use them again. I'd go to take a shower or brush my teeth and remember sitting in the tub, closing my eyes, and slicing at my wrist until the pain started to go away. I know that eventually I might be able to go back there. That day just isn't today."
"So where are you currently staying, with a friend?"
"I actually don't have any friends. I have a lot of casual acquaintances. None of them would know me well enough to actually welcome me into their homes. A few of my coworkers put out the offer for me to stay with them, but two of them that offered have their own families, and I didn't want to take any attention away from their children by making them feel I needed to be cared for. I actually took the offer to stay with my coworker who had to find me. I somewhat feel like I owe him something, and didn't want to turn him down."
"Is it helping?"
"It was only one night but I um. I started having really vivid nightmares of succeeding, and what the aftermath would be, and it hurt to see what I would've done to everyone that I've grown to care for over the years, even if they only feel the same way now because I tried to kill myself."
"I'm sure that's not true."
He went on, as if he wasn't interrupted. "But one nightmare was especially terrifying, and I woke up screaming and crying. Derek, he… he ran right in to check on me, calmed me down, made sure I'd be okay alone."
"How did that feel?"
"It… it felt good. Like I was wrong and there was somebody who did care and would be affected if something happened to me. And I was able to cry and get all my emotions out for a change instead of bottling them inside."
"Did you sleep well after that?"
"I um, I woke up a few more times with nightmares, and Derek had told me that I'd be able to see him if I needed anything, so I went to his room. He was asleep, so I just climbed on the bed with him, so I could have company. The nightmares stayed away the rest of the night."
"Do you think that maybe your reasoning wasn't neglect, but loneliness? You mentioned that your team paired up without you-"
He paused. "I never… I never really thought about it like that. I mean, everyone paired off and it hurt, but I concentrated on the fact that they put me on the backburner more than anything."
She looked over at the clock. "We've made a lot of progress today, but our time is up. Is there anything else you'd like to say?"
He thought to himself for a moment, then shook his head. "No, no thank you."
"Take care of yourself, Spencer, and I'll see you next week."
"If you feel yourself panicking or you just need to talk, you can move up your appointment anytime."
He nodded, pushing himself off the couch and taking the appointment card from her. He threw his satchel over his shoulder and walked out to the waiting room.
Derek closed his magazine, looking up at him. "Ready to go?"
Spencer sighed, tucking the card into his bag. "You didn't have to sit around and wait. It was exactly an hour, you could've done something better with your time."
He shrugged, getting out of the chair. "I thought it'd be better for you to walk out and see someone waiting here for you. Do you want to talk?"
He bit his lip. "At your apartment? Please?"
Derek wrapped an arm around him, walking outside.
Back at the apartment, Spencer sat on the couch, twisting the cap of his water bottle on and off. Derek knew there was something he wanted to talk about, but didn't want to rush him into it. Instead, he sat on the other side of the couch, patiently waiting.
"I know why I did it," he whispered, looking down at his lap.
Derek raised an eyebrow. "Come again?"
He bit down on his lip. "I know why I did it. Why I tried to kill myself."
"I know, you told me yesterday. Because you felt neglected by the team."
He swallowed, wiping his eyes. "My therapist, she helped me realize it. I was alone… I had no family, no friends, nobody I could really depend on. When everyone else paired off, I was left to my own, dealing with my own emotions. Rather than bother anyone and take them from their pair, I chose to internalize all of my feelings and keep to myself. They finally built up to a point where I couldn't stand the thought of being by myself for another day. I… I took the week off so everyone could spend the time with the other half of their pair, and give them someone to lean on if I succeeded. There was a lot more thought behind it than I realized."
"All of that from one session?"
He nodded slightly. "But I still need to go back for several weeks. Unfortunately, there's no magical button to fix everything in a single session, or one to get rid of the thoughts and tendencies. If it were that easy, I could be out of your hair in no time."
"Spencer, I told you that you can stay as long as you need it, and I meant it."
He sighed. "I'm sorry for waking you up last night. And for ending up in your bed." He avoided his gaze, chewing on his lip. "I didn't sleep well alone in the guest room and I … you said I could come to you if anything was wrong, and you were asleep. I didn't want to be any more of an imposition, so I just laid down on the bed and fell asleep. It made the nightmares stay away, and I'm sorry, I won't do it again. I'll just… I'll learn to deal with the nightmares, I promise."
Derek sighed. "You do whatever you need to do to sleep at night. If that involves you not waking me and staying in my bed, so be it."
"Are you sure? If there's a problem, you can tell me. I won't be offended. I'm used to it, really."
He shook his head. "Until I say otherwise, it's not a problem."
Spencer sighed, nodding. "Thank you again, you know, for this. All these years on the team, and this is the first time I've actually felt, for lack of a better word, included. I just wish it were under better circumstances."
"That makes two of us, Pretty Boy."
Later that night, Spencer waited for Derek to fall asleep in his bedroom. Once he was sure he did, he slipped out of the bed in the guest room, walking to his room. He quietly snuck under the blankets, curling into a ball, his injured wrist wrapped around himself. Derek opened an eye and shook his head, reaching over and running a hand through Spencer's hair. He had to admit, sharing a bed with Spencer was a much more pleasant experience than sharing one with Clooney: he didn't hog the covers, take up a ton of space, or whine at the slightest movement. He continued the motion on Spencer's head until the smaller man finally peacefully dozed off. He wasn't how sure the road to recovery would last for him, but knew that he couldn't go through this alone.
Author's Note: Follow-up to this story is coming soon, which includes Spencer's road to recovery and how he handles going back to work. I hope you liked this!
Author's Note 2.0: Follow-up has been posted - if you're interested, check out Road to Recovery.