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A Glitch In My Soul [7/7]

Title: A Glitch In My Soul - Chapter 7 - A Little More Than I Deserve
Author: freakingdork
Pairing: Morgan/Reid
Rating: FRT
Word Count: 2423
Summary & Disclaimer: see chapter 1
Chapter 7 Warnings: none

*****

Chapter 7 - A Little More Than I Deserve

******

Lying in his bed with what feels like the worst hangover he's ever experienced, Spencer knows without a doubt that he must leave as soon as possible. He's made such a mess of everything, done everything that he told himself he wouldn't do, and in the process, it's likely that he's completely obliterated the mental health of the one person he truly cares for.

Leaving now is the only way to do right by Derek. Hopefully, not being around will minimize any further damage. That's the main thing Spencer tells himself, but he's honest enough with himself to see that it's a small, selfish piece of comfort, one that only serves to obscure the truth; he's relieved to think he'll be gone before the damage starts to show on Derek's face.

In short, Spencer's perhaps the most despicable person he's ever met.

***

The wait is excruciating. He spends most of the weekend staring at his computer screen, unable to write a word. Each thought that comes to him is more disparaging and damning than the one before it. Eventually, Spencer gives up, settling on blankly watching the few dvds he has. Canceling his coffee date with Emily is easy compared to canceling his one-on-one session with Jason; Spencer's half worried the man will show up at his apartment and drag him there, kicking and screaming. After he finishes with the phone calls, Spencer finds that boxing up his apartment helps distract his brain for a little while, though not as much as he'd like.

On Wednesday, the first thing Spencer says when Penelope closes the door to her office is "You can completely clear me from your schedule."

"Whoa, hey, let's at least sit down before you start making rash decisions," she says.

Spencer rests on the edge of the chair, ready to launch himself up and out of the office at any moment. “Didn't you know? Rash decisions are all I seem to make these days.”

“Spencer?” Penelope asks, a hint of trepidation coloring her voice as she sits down across from him.

“I didn't mean to. Derek came to me and...” He shakes his head, disgusted with himself. “I'm going back to New York after group tomorrow. I thought you'd want to know as soon as possible, so you can free up my space for someone who actually deserves it.”

Penelope reaches across the space between them to grasp his hand. “You have always deserved my time Spencer. Always.”

His throat goes dry and scratchy at that; she doesn't understand just how detestable he is for what he's done.

Despite his original intention of leaving before the hour was up, a somewhat sanitized version of Friday's events spill out of him. Penelope continues to look at him with sympathy through the entire incriminating recollection and it makes his chest feel tight. After Spencer leaves her office, he realizes he doesn't remember a single thing Penelope said, just the hug she gave him along with a list of therapists in his area. That's okay; he's spent enough time with her to learn that sometimes just the act of verbalizing what's happened is enough.

***

Coming into group slightly late is a deliberate decision; arriving any earlier would be far too awkward, especially because Spencer doesn't know what everyone else knows. Both Jason and Emily might have an inkling and that's enough to make him worried that the others know too.

As he walks into the basement, Spencer catches Jason saying, “Derek came to see me yesterday and he has something he'd like to share with the group.”

Spencer hangs back, so as to not interrupt; he's certainly curious as to what Derek will say without him present.

“I've been lying to you guys,” Derek says, his voice on the edge of breaking. “It's not my feelings for a coworker I've been struggling with, it's...Spencer. And we...I gave into temptation and brought Spencer down with me.”

Spencer's heart drops at the way Derek takes on all the blame for what happened between them. It makes him sick to know that Derek must have spent nearly a week beating himself up over their night together when Spencer knows it's not Derek who deserves the punishment.

There's some murmuring from the group before Jason says, “Because this is on Derek's shoulders, he will be leaving.”

"No," Spencer says, everyone's head snapping towards him as he enters the room. "That's not fair, I'm just as much to blame, if not more."

Jason's eyes widen. "Well, one of you has to leave and..."

"And I am. I'm going back to New York because I don't...I'm not...I'm done with this." Spencer turns towards the other members who are clearly in shock as well. "This is all such shit and I hope one day you'll be able to realize there's nothing wrong with any of you. Nothing."

Spencer uses the last of his energy to look directly at Derek. "But if you really want to continue, if that's what you think will make you happy..." Spencer swallows hard, hating what he has to say. "Then don't move again. You should be allowed to stay and if Jason doesn't let you, even with me gone, think about what that says."

With his piece said, Spencer walks out of the church for the last time. It's certainly not how he pictured things going, but it'd have to do; the movers are waiting for him, ready to take him back to New York.

***

"What the fuck did you do to him?" Jordan screams from the other end of the line.

Spencer squirms, even though he's been expecting this phone call since he mailed her a letter as he was leaving a couple of days ago. "Between my sudden departure, as well as the numbers and information I gave you, I think you probably have a pretty good idea."

"Yeah, except Derek won't talk to me. Not about you, not about anything at all! It's more than just his obvious crush on you and you leaving that's caused...whatever this is that he's going through."

Spencer hums in pained agreement. "I'm not surprised, but...he's still in Memphis? He's not leaving?"

"I don't know! What part of 'he won't talk to me' didn't you understand?"

"Sorry, I just...I really screwed everything up and I feel like scum for it, okay? Please keep trying though. He's going to need you."

“Oh trust me, I will, but don't you dare think for a second that I'm doing it for you.”

Before Spencer can say anything else, the line goes dead.

***

It's barely been a week after he leaves Memphis when he calls Austin. Spencer's never done that before; the people he meets while undercover don't get access to his real life. Then again, he never did anything so incredibly fucked up as sleeping with someone he met while undercover. Rossi doesn't really understand and neither does Blake, not fully, but Austin was there and she saw them together. She gets it.

"How are you doing?" she asks.

Spencer sighs because hearing her voice immediately makes him want to avoid the topic all together. "You think I wanna talk about it?"

"Not really, but it was worth a shot."

"Tell me something good instead?"

She laughs and it's a hopeful noise. "Well, I started seeing someone. Does that count as good?"

It probably does, but it's hard to parse out what he wants to say about it. Sure, Spencer's delighted to hear she's happy - even though it brings along some rather irrelevant jealousy - but that delight is still heavily tainted by concern since her last relationship ended violently. At the same time, he knows Austin is perfectly capable of taking care of herself and Spencer doesn't want to make her feel otherwise.

"He's good to you?" Spencer finally asks.

"Yeah," she says. "And I can hear what you're thinking all the way from here. I knew Matt before I transitioned, so it's not an issue you need to be worried about, okay?"

"Good," Spencer says, utterly relieved. "Tell me more about him."

It's easy from there to let her ramble excitedly about their first date. The words wash over him, calming and inviting. He winces when Austin mentions that Jordan approves of Matt; just the mention of her name brings back the memory of her voice, angry and passionate and rightfully so. But he knows it's a good thing too; he knows now how fiercely loyal Jordan is and she wouldn't approve of just anyone.

Other than that bit of guilt popping back up, the call is relaxing and a much needed distraction from his own mind.

***

At first, he doesn't quite know what to do about the book.

It's not like Spencer has never considered the ethical ramifications of writing an exposé before; he's written plenty of them in the past and there's always a slight guilt about "betraying" his subjects' trust, no matter how much he's obscured their identities. But he'd never sat in what's essentially therapy and used people's darkest secrets, things told in complete confidence, in his writing.

At the same time, Spencer still feels that the book has an importance that he can't ignore. He's seen the suffering the members went through and the suffering they continued to inflict on themselves and he knows he can't stay silent on the matter.

Rossi almost won't let him publish it. Not because of any regret on his part for not pulling him sooner or the admittedly emotional writing, but because of the dedication Spencer insists on.

While I believe I've done the right thing, I'm sorry for any additional suffering I may have caused in doing so. Please forgive me.

***

"You aren't allowed to tell him I called," Jordan hisses, as if Derek's actually in the room, though Spencer doubts he is.

Spencer's breath catches. "Is something wrong?"

"Oh god no, Derek just...well, he read your book."

"Oh," he breathes out, dizzy and anxious for a wholly different reason now.

"And he started seeing that therapist, Garcia? From what he'll tell me, it sounds like it's going well," Jordan says. "I still think you're an asshole, but I thought you should to know."

He's so overwhelmed that he can't speak for a moment. Spencer clears his throat. "Yes, you, uh, didn't have to call, but...thank you for calling anyway."

"You're welcome," she says before hanging up.

The phone call leaves him stunned. He'd hoped Derek would get help, but he's always tried to be realistic about the probability of it actually happening. He spends some time wondering about his role in everything, but in the end, he comes to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter; he's just happy Derek's getting help.

***

His interest in writing wanes and Rossi graciously lets him get away with editing other people's works for over a year. It's Professor Blake who draws him out of his shell and convinces him to try his hand at fiction again. The book is mediocre at best, but Rossi publishes it anyway.

In an attempt to deal with his loneliness, Spencer goes on a few dates, but nothing comes of them. It's not that he doesn't try, but he finds himself comparing them to Derek. Spencer doesn't need a therapist to tell him how unhealthy that is.

Talking to Austin helps ease his ache, but he doesn't ask about Derek. Spencer knows he came in and upturned Derek's whole life; he feels like he at least owes the man his privacy. After all, if Derek really wanted to contact him, he has plenty of people who know how to get in touch with him.

***

The knock at the door startles Spencer because he isn't expecting anyone. When he opens the door, he's even more shocked.

"Don't say anything," Derek says as if Spencer has any air left in him to speak.

"Okay," he croaks out and steps aside to let Derek in.

He leads Derek to the living room, motioning him to sit. Derek studies him intently from across the couch and though Spencer tries his hardest to keep his eyes on Derek, he ends up looking away.

"So this is the real you," Derek says and Spencer's eyes snap back to his face, but Derek's not looking at him. He's gazing around the room and Spencer feels a little ill at the memory it brings back.

"When you left, I was so angry at you,” Derek says softly. “Angry at you for betraying our trust, for making me feel things I told myself I was done with, and eventually, for leaving before I could really figure everything out. You kinda put me through the ringer Spencer and I still...it's still hard for me.”

Spencer nods, remorse welling up. This much he has known or at least suspected, though it hurts to hear it confirmed aloud.

"I'm trying to get better and...I mean, not like before. I'm trying to accept myself, love myself, and therapy has helped, but I miss you."

"I can't fix you," Spencer interjects.

And, with the way Derek's face falls, Spencer realizes it sounds like an outright rejection, so he grabs Derek's hand, holding on until Derek looks up.

"It's not a no, just that I think we need to start over again, take things slow. How long are you in town for?" Spencer asks.

Derek has the decency to look somewhat bashful as he answers, "Well, I took a job here, so hopefully quite awhile."

“I'm sure Penelope had some thoughts on that,” Spencer says, realizing a second too late that he's not actually supposed to know that Derek had been seeing her; Derek just raises an eyebrow at him. "No, I...Penelope didn't tell me, you know she's better than that. Jordan called awhile back."

"Don't worry, she fessed up when I told her I was moving here," Derek says, quite clearly amused.

"Okay, but there's this thing called transference and I hope you at least stuck around long enough for Penelope to explain that to you.”

Derek laughs. “You bet your ass she explained it. And then she gave me a couple recommendations for therapists living here.”

“Well, if we have Penelope's blessing...”

“Yes, but only if we go slow, like you said.”

Spencer squeezes Derek's hand. “Then we'll go slow.”

And as a smile spreads across Derek's face, Spencer feels right for the first time since he moved to Tennessee.

FIN

*****

First off, this chapter is dedicated to my beta, lilijuliet, who put up with my consistently low self-esteem and who somehow manages to be gently encouraging in all the ways I need without letting me get away with shit. This story would not be the same without her.

Secondly, this is the ending I envisioned from the start; something hopeful, but still a little jagged around the edges. I know that there are going to be people who hate this or be disappointed by it and I'm okay with that. This story has never been a happy story and ending on a "and then they lived happily ever after!" note would just be too much of a pasta party for my taste.

Completing this fic doesn't mean I'm done with this verse; I already have two oneshots planned out and eventually I do want to further explore the conflict of falling for someone who is undercover while you hate yourself and how it plays out when you get to know the person without their facade and without your self-hatred (aka a third oneshot), but please, please, PLEASE for the love of all that is good do NOT demand or beg me to write it right this instant, ask me when I'll post more, etc etc etc. It will come, I promise; all that stuff does is ramp up my anxiety and makes me less productive and no one wants that, right? Right.

Thanks for reading!

(ps i made a fanmix on my fic tumblr (fdorkfic) which will go up later today (8-16) and i'll probably be doing author commentary on ao3/lj, if you're interested)

Comments

This is fantastic, I love your writing!
sorry it took me do long to reply, but thank you so much! that was quite nice to hear.
me

November 2013

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