Title: Lost

Author: Ann

Warning: I'm a Babe! Deals with the subject of food disorders.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters and I don't make any money with this story

Summary: Songfic. Stephanie gets into trouble and it takes a long time for Ranger to step in.

Song: "Lost", Micheal Buble

"Lost"

Slowly Tank slid the picture on my desk for me to see. He didn't say a word. He didn't have to, the picture spoke volumes. It was a close up from Steph, and the date mark told me it had been taken yesterday afternoon. I looked at her face, now pale and haunted. Her eyes looked dull and sad. There were deep, dark circles under her eyes and her cheeks seemed to have lost all glow and colour. She looked like she had given up. And from what I had heard recently, Morelli already had.

For some reason Stephanie had started this rigid diet 6 months ago and to everyone's surprise, and later to everyone's horror, she had stayed with it. Steph had never been overweight, so there was no need for her to loose weight in the first place. Steph couldn't be more perfect to me, but somehow she felt that she wasn't looking good enough. She had been with Morelli at the time, and I had blamed him at first. But after a rather physical confrontation about this, he told me that he was trying to get her to eat again, because he never had wanted her to loose weight in the first place. Not long after that, she had moved out of his house, no doubt after a fight about food. Soon thereafter I learned that she also had stopped visiting her parents for dinner. That was when I started to get really worried about her.

I can't believe it's over
I watched the whole thing fall
And I never saw the writing that was on the wall
If I'd only knew
The days were slipping past
That the good things never last
That you were crying

And now here I was looking at this picture and realised I had to do something before it was too late. I didn't care what it would take, or what it would cost. She needed to start eating, and she needed to start fast!

"Where is she now?" I quietly asked Tank.

"At home, this was the only time she came out this week according to Conny," Tank said.

"She hasn't worked for over 2 weeks now," he added.

I could feel the unspoken question hanging between us in the air: why haven't you done something yet?! And I really didn't know why I hadn't. Why had I backed off at this moment?

I had watched Morelli try and try and try, over and over again to get her to eat again. And she had simply refused everything. He had tried to get her to talk to a psychologist, had tried to take her on a weekend break to the coast, he had even proposed to her. But it hadn't made any difference. She had given him a quiet "no" to all of it and had closed her door and herself. And I had been watching all along, but I never had done something. I hadn't talked to her, visited her or even called her. I had registered it, but had maintained my distance.

Summer turned to winter
And the snow it turned to rain
And the rain turned into tears upon your face
I hardly recognized the girl you are today
And god I hope it's not too late
It's not too late

My phone rang, shattering the heavy silence between Tank and me. I looked at the display and saw it was Morelli.

"Yo."

"Did you get the picture?" Morelli asked. I quickly glanced up at Tank and saw something in his eyes that told me that he and Morelli were in on this together.

"Yes," I answered.

"Thendo something. At least I tried! I might have failed, but I tried. She is dying before your eyes and you do nothing!" Morelli was getting angrier with each word he spoke.

"You are probably the only one who can get through to her, and you are just sitting there, observing. Bastard! Her parents are desperate, her friends are scared and you just pretend like nothing is happening. Why haven't you done something?! Don't you love her too?"

The final question hung in the air and I didn't want to answer him, so I disconnected and returned my gaze to the confronting picture. She looked so sick and vulnerable…

Tank shifted on his feet and I looked up at him.

"Well, don't you love her too?" he softly asked me, not even pretending he hadn't heard the whole conversation. He knew I did so I just nodded, unwilling to speak.

"Then do something." With that, he turned on his heels and left me to my own thoughts.

Thirty seconds later I was sitting in my car, breaking every traffic rule ever made.

'Cause you are not alone
I'm always there with you
And we'll get lost together
Till the light comes pouring through
'Cause when you feel like you're done
And the darkness has won
Babe, you're not lost
When your worlds crashing down
And you can't bear the thought
I said, babe, you're not lost

"Babe," I whispered while entering her living room. She was lying on her couch, wrapped up in blankets. Her body was still and her eyes were closed and for a moment I feared that I was too late. I quietly walked closer, and almost sighed with relieve when I saw she was still breathing. I kneeled down and gently touched her hair, which now felt brittle and string-like, and guilt washed over me. I leaned forward and kissed her forehead, whispering to her.

"I'm so sorry, Babe."

She stirred and then slowly opened her eyes, focusing on me. Her eyes widened in shock when she recognized me and then filled with tears which slowly leaked out of the corners of her eyes. It broke my heart.

She didn't say a word, but just looked at me with empty eyes. I gently scooped her up and carried her to her bedroom, where I placed her on her bed. She weighed next to nothing and I could feel her bones even through the blanket. My god, why hadn't I done something sooner? Why hadn't I realised how serious her condition was?

I grabbed some clothes for her, stuffed them in a bag and slung it over my shoulder. I gently lifted her off the bed again and she looked at me for a moment and I waited for her to say something. Anything really, to protest or express blame, hurt, anger, sadness… But after a long moment she just closed her eyes and let her head fall against my shoulder like it was too heavy for her to hold it up anymore. I carried her out of her apartment, down the stairs and outside. My car was parked right in front of the building and I gently lowered her into the front seat.

While I raced back to Rangeman, I called ahead to order a doctor and many other things that my Babe needed to survive and I needed to soften my guilt.

Life can show no mercy
It can tear your soul apart
It can make you feel like you've gone crazy
But you're not
Things have seem to changed
There's one thing that's still the same
In my heart you have remained
And we can fly fly fly away

In the beginning it was very difficult for me to deal with the situation that I had created. I hadn't really spoken or seen her for months, and now suddenly she was in my life all the time. Not only that, a lot of other people were as well. The doctor came every day, as did a dietician and a psychologist. And of course the Merry Men and her friends all came to visit her on a regular basis. My privacy was non-existent anymore.

And she was angry with me, very, very angry. I had either abandoned her or interfered too much with her life. I was either too cool or too intimate, I didn't love her or I was smothering her. I was an arrogant bastard or a prick. You name it, she said it. And I didn't defend myself for a long time, because I felt she was right. I had abandoned her and now interfered with her life to compensate for that. I had been very cool towards her for months, and now I couldn't stop touching her when she was in the room to make sure she was really there. And of course food was an endless discussion and trial.

Her anger hurt me, but at least she was showing emotions again. Somehow I told myself that that was something positive. It didn't escape my attention that she stopped trying to escape the apartment after two half-asses attempts. Still, I wasn't sure how much longer this could go on. I could feel my own frustration levels increasing by the day. I was afraid I might say or do something that would hurt her. So in the end I myself spend some hours talking with the psychologist, venting frustration, getting information about her condition and on occasion touching the subject of my own feelings of guilt.


'Cause you are not alone
And I am there with you
And we'll get lost together
Till the light comes pouring through
'Cause when you feel like you're done
And the darkness has won
Babe, you're not lost
When the worlds crashing down
And you can not bear the cross
I said, baby, you're not lost
I said, baby, you're not lost
I said, baby, you're not lost
I said, baby, you're not lost

After 2 months the psychologist suggested he spoke with us together. For the first time we both had to put everything on the table about us while the other one was there. It scared the hell out of me, but slowly we learned to talk about our feelings and expectations. And after a few times I started to look forward to these hours because ultimately, it brought us closer together.

During one of those sessions, Steph explained to me what had happened to her. Somehow her life had caught up with her. Something had changed her and made her belief she was no longer in control of her life. That she could only be loved if she was thinner and that she could only be proud of herself when she didn't eat. That that would make her attractive and special. And I hadn't even realised that it was happening.

Normally I would sleep on the couch, but after that session I woke up on the couch the next morning completely entangled with her and knew we were finally getting there.

My babe was no longer lost and alone, she had found her way back to me again.