Feelings Hidden and Feelings Found
Author's note: This is a companion to Lost and Found, focusing on the thoughts of different characters in the certain parts of the story. As always, I do not own the characters; I just really miss them.
You recognize the look in her eyes the moment you see it. It is the look of being lost, confused, and panicked beyond belief. You've seen it in holding cells, interrogation rooms, police cars, and hospital beds, but you never expected to see at here, in your own home. Part of you hopes, with naïve, foolish belief you thought you had done away long ago, that you're wrong, that this is just Joan being Joan, building boats or joining clubs or high on Adam Rove. But even as you say those things to yourself, you know they're crap because you know what this look means. How you wish you didn't.
"Joan!" you call as she climbs the stairs.
She turns around and looks at you for a second, the look the still in her eyes. Hesitating slightly, she comes over the couch and sits down between you and Helen. She moves with a certain unsteadiness, as though her legs are about to give way. You're about the reach out to offer her a steadying hand, but you stop just in time. You learned your lesson about touching them years ago when an assault victim you were trying to help hit you across the face. So you sit, motionless, unable to help your baby girl, and you learn to see her through new eyes.
"Who was he?" you ask, keeping your voice level and calm, like a cop should. "What did he look like?"
Joan just sits there, tears running down her cheeks. She's wrapped in a gray blanket Helen brought down for her, and her knees are pulled up toward her chain. She still has that look in her eyes.
You aren't supposed to be doing this, technically speaking. There are specially trained social workers and therapists for this, people who have spent countless in training, people who know the right words and the right questions. But you know Joan. You know she hates therapists and hates talking about this kind of thing. You also know time is precious, that part of her is already killing the memories, locking them away where they won't hurt and forcing herself to forget. If she forgets, it's over, and you want so much to catch the guy, to make him pay. After that, you'll let her forget. And maybe she'll share that with you.
She looks at you carefully.
"I'm here." you say, not in your pragmatic cop voice, but in your father voice, the voice of koala bear nightmares and pony rides.
And then she speaks, drawing a picture with words of the bastard who did this to her. As you write this all down, you become the cop again, the guy that knows procedure like the back of hand and the guy that still believes in due process and Miranda rights and justice. That guy is single-minded and focused and knows what to do. He does not keep a second grade picture in his wallet, and he does not feel the gun in his pocket and picture barrel against that creep's head. And he does not want to cry.
You know the doctor by name only. You haven't worked a "low level" case like this since moving to Arcadia, but you've seen the name in reports. The staff is usually medical terms you don't have a knack for decoding, so in reality you just skim that stuff and go to the bottom line. Rape or not rape, molestation or not molestation, that's what matters to you. You don't know clock diagrams or the significance of scarring; you just look for those few little words and then you fill the report away.
So you do not recognize the woman as she walks up to you. It is only when she asks for "Mr. and Mrs. Girardi" that is you stand and follow her back through the winding gray halls. As she walks, the doctor begins to speak.
"Joan's examination revealed injuries consistent with molestation. The level of damage is about what I'd expect to see, and physically she should be fine, though psychologically, it could be another story."
You feel Helen grasp you hand tightly and what out thinking, you grasp back.
"However," the doctor continues, "these circumstances may be slightly irregular. Joan's medical history indicates that she was diagnosed with Lyme's Disease last May and suffered hallucinations and depression as a result..."
"Joan's not crazy!" you insist, well aware of the aggression in your voice. How dare this woman say that tonight…
"Mr. Girardi, please let me finish. I'm saying this only out of concern for your daughter's health," she says with a slight edge in her voice and pushes open the door.
You see Joan lying on an examining table, looking small and exposed in her brown hospital gown. As you study her from across the room, you notice she shrinks back ever so slightly like she used to do around circus clowns. Only then you could usher her away and buy her sticky pink cotton candy and wish it all away. Now, you just stand there, helpless.
"As I was saying, Joan's particular history leaves her vunerable to the effects of extreme stress, and I feel it might be a prudent decision to have her stay overnight for observation."
You smile your cop smile and nod like you're listening, but inside you know you'd rather die then leave Joan with these clowns. Because this time the father wins, and he doesn't care about logic or degrees; the father just wants to take her home.
Tonight is one of those nights where you can't touch Helen. She lies in bed and lives in a world in which you don't belong, a world where there's only two people. You've seen that world in a painting or two, and it scares you. It is a world of pain and sorrow and questions without answers, and it is a world of the look.
So you walk instead down the hall to Joan's room. She lies there on her bed, tangled in her covers and kicking ever so slightly in her sleep. You see her face, pale and matted in dark, and somehow calm. Careful as not to wake her, you lean over and kiss her forehead. And as you do, some deep part of you, beyond the cop and beyond father, is praying for her. And some part of you believes you're being heard.