Everyone knew that Aaron had been stabbed by Foyet, there was no one in the FBI or surrounding areas who didn’t know, the story being spread around as if it were a long-lost legend being told under the moonlight around a flickering campfire. But what they weren’t aware of was the toll it took on him, the weight on his shoulders from all the pain and memories, every sleepless night because of nightmares and the inability to force himself to take his medication. It was a process he dreaded each waking breath and restless slumber, something that shouldn’t be avoided but something he simply couldn’t deal with. It was his biggest regret and biggest insecurity.
When the two of you first started dating, a few years after the event, he kept his need for medicine a secret, hiding the pill bottles as if they were something to be ashamed of. To him they were, and that broke your heart.
It wasn’t long before you found out, of course. It wasn’t an easy thing to hide, him having to remove himself from whatever the two of you were doing at odd times with a defeated look in his eye, coming back a few minutes later looking seconds away from breaking down. You’d grown accustomed to this, putting two and two together but not wanting to bring it up until he was ready to do so himself. However, as you began to stay over at his apartment more often, sleeping over and waking up in his warm embrace, you realized that there were no specific times where he’d leave. He seemingly had no schedule, leaving whenever the thought to do so occurred to him, sometimes going days without doing it, and that concerned you. If you were right and he was taking medication, then he was forgetting to do so until he was in too much pain to ignore it any longer. The thought upset you and you realized that if you didn’t confront him it was simply going to get worse.
So you waited until he had finished a case, shuffling through the door with hunched yet relieved shoulders. The case had been less hard-hitting than others, being solved in two days and many people being saved in the process, but as always it still affected everyone involved. He shrugged off his blazer, draping it neatly over the back of the couch, before slouching across the cushions and closing his eyes with a deep sigh.
With a glass of water in your hand, you walked over to where he lay, sitting on the edge of the couch beside him. “Here, drink this.”
He sat up with his elbow, taking the glass out of your hand and taking small sips. His eyes were still closed, clearly exhausted after closing the case, flying home, and finishing off any paperwork he had laying about in his office. “Thank you,” he breathed out.
“You had your meds today?” You asked, casually. That was the easiest way to approach the situation, a careful but caring question that held no judgment whatsoever. He froze in place, hand tightening around the glass for a moment as the question cut through his hazy thoughts. It was silent for a few moments, his mind catching up and processing the question, and so you reached out to card your hands through his hair, slowly as to not startle him. “Aaron?”
The question settled over him and he opened his eyes slowly, blinking a few times to regain his vision, looking up at you. “Who told you?”
“You did, silly. I put the pieces together.”
It was silent for another few minutes as he stared up at you, eyes full of confusion as if he couldn’t quite believe it. Your hand still softly combed through his hair as you saw the gears turn in his head, him wondering how to approach the conversation. Finally, he breathed out deeply, a small smile tugging at his lips. “You should become a profiler.”
You laughed, leaning down to press a chaste kiss to his forehead. “I know, I spend far too much time with you,” you mumbled, moving down to press another kiss but this time to his lips. He kissed back, slow and steady, admiring the way you felt against him.
“I haven’t taken my meds today, no,” he mumbled against your lips after a few moments, embarrassed.
You smiled a small smile, kissing him once more. “It’s okay, honey,” you pulled back, stroking his cheek, watching his tired body lean into the comforting touch. “Where are they?”
“In my go-bag.”
With a nod and a kiss to his nose (in which he huffed a laugh), you walked to where it was, unzipping it and digging through the contents, pulling out a large zip-lock bag full of rattling boxes and bottles. There were way more than you originally thought and your stomach plummeted—how did he keep this a secret for so long and why? You closed his bag up before walking over to the couch once more, tapping his leg as a way to get him to sit up. He tiredly complied, swinging his legs over the side of the couch and moving so that he was at the far end, facing you. You sat on the other end, facing him with your legs crossed, and placed the medication between you. He stared down at it with a gulp and so you reached out to stroke at his knee with a gentle smile.
“So, which ones do you need to take and when?”
He numbly began to talk you through each one, pointing them out and allowing you to read through the name, contents, and dose requirements. He told you when he should take them and after much persuading, he told you when he actually did take them, which was hardly ever. He claimed that he didn’t need them, that they were too much hassle, and that he was fine, and so you leaned over to stroke at his cheek with your thumb to tell him that they were there to help him, that they were nothing to be afraid of. It took a while, but he nodded into your palm, eyes never straying from all the white boxes and bottles littered across the dark leather of the couch.
“Give me a second, honey,” you whispered, standing up to reach for a bag of items you had left on the kitchen counter. Once settled back down on the couch he gave you a curious look and all you could do was smile at him, pulling out the items from the bag: a long but thin colourful notepad that specialized in daily reminders, a large solid black bottle for liquids, namely water, and a few medicine trays. The moment he saw them his shoulders slumped and you were sure he was near tears. “Are you okay?”
He took a deep breath, only then tilting his head up to look you in the eyes. “I don’t think anyone has ever cared about me as much as you do.”
Your smile was sad but still present, hand finding its way back to his knee again, comforting him with your touch. “You care so much for everyone else, it was time for someone to return the favour.”
“I’m glad it was you,” he mumbled, hand clasping over yours and thumbing at your knuckles with a feather-light touch. “I’m always going to be glad it was you.”
You leaned forward using the hand on his knee to press a kiss to his cheek, watching his eyebrows and jaw loosen as his lips upturned into a soft, genuine smile. “Okay,” you started, pulling back, “let’s get this figured out, then.”
And so the two of you went through each box, each bottle, each individual pill, scrawling notes and times and reminders—“Take your meds and please remember to smile, honey” and “Call me if it gets too much” as well as “You can do this, I’m so proud of you”—down, filling up the medicine tray with the correct amount of pills for each day. You showed him how each capsule could be disconnected, allowing him to store a collection of pills in his suits at all times so he’d never forget again, which he smiled at. You promised him that’d he never have to go this alone again, that you’d always be there to be his anchor, his rock, to ground him and remind him that he deserved to be happy and safe, to remind him that needing medication to stay that way wasn’t something to be embarrassed or ashamed about, it should be embraced.