By: Karen B.

Summary: Little Girl Lost snippet. Missing scene. Taking place when Hutch is lying in the dark shadows listening to Molly cry. Hutch pov.

To CC: For her kind approach, her loving support, and spirited encouragement!

I was exhausted and beyond sleep. I stared at the ceiling, watching dreamless shadows move back and forth on the walls. A slow and steady stream of silver moonlight illuminated my apartment; it was beautiful. Everything was silent, except for the choking sobs of a young girl in the next room. The wordless cries were haunting, heartbreaking. Part of me was trying to stick to the rules. Don't get emotionally involved. Don't let down your guard. Don't let your world collide with anyone else's. But I guess I'd sent that rule swirling into chaotic darkness when I talked Perkowitz out of sending Molly to Juvenile detention. The other part of me knew you had to cross lines to make a difference in this world. It's why I became a cop. To make a difference.

It's confusing and frustrating. Limiting your emotions everyday. You have to listen to every subtle clue, yet not hear the horror. Have to keenly look at everything, yet not see the gore, the blood. Had to get a tight grip on the case you were working on, but not so tight that it squeezed the breath of life right out of you. Trying not to cross that fine line between professionalism and personal feelings is like trying to control the way the wind blows.

Molly's cries, impaled my heart, each sob whittling away another piece of me. What was holding me back? Fear? That Line?

The sound was unlike any I'd ever known. It is a pain I don't understand, and I felt like I was dangling off the side of a rocky ravine. Helpless.

Her old man wasn't the fairy tale father she'd probably dreamed of having. She knew that. But he was her father. I'm sure he kept her from harm the best he could, and Molly loved him-- he was all she had. It didn't matter if he was a drunk. Didn't matter that he had no job. No money. Couldn't give her that pretty new dress or doll, or in Molly's case, a new glove for a Christmas gift. All that mattered now was nothing made sense to her and she was alone, her life even more uncertain than it was before his death. She had no one. No one to hold her hand. No one to pack her lunch, tuck her in at night. No one to tell her it was all going to be okay. Maybe he wasn't Father of the Year,but now the misery and loneliness this child was now forced to deal with was soul shattering.

I found it hard to swallow past the lump that formed in my throat.

I tried to picture how I'd feel if it was me. If it was my father. It's an unspeakable sorrow to lose someone, especially at such a young age. I thought about a young boy, living in New York. Never again being able to toss a ball to his dad. Never again being able to just be a kid, playing with rocks and bugs. Sent away from all he knew. Running so fast through his childhood just so he didn't have to feel the pain. Never being able to see the beauty of the world, because he'd seen too much blood and horror. A life shattered, and there was nothing that would ever glue the fragmented pieces back. It's something that would have a profound and lasting effect on anyone, at any age, but especially a kid.

The sad twist of it all was that it was Christmas. I used to think there were lots of different types of folks in this world. Now I think there are only two kinds. The lucky ones, and the not- so-luckyones. Molly was one of the not-so- lucky ones. How many times had this kid's dad gone off on a drinking binge? Left her alone without food? Without heat? Now he'd gone and done it again. Left her alone. With nothing. For good this time. Like a house with no rooms, a book with no words. A kid with no family, especially at Christmas time seemed so unfair.

I still couldn't get past that lump in my throat. I finally couldn't take it any longer. I crossed that line. Barefooted, I quietly crept toward the bedroom. I stopped at the doorframe and stood, watching Molly. My heart fluttered, feeling her pain.

The floor creaking brought her to sit up, and she turned my way, looking very small, her smooth face red with tears. I caught the sadness in her eyes. A sadness that was far too deep, the cruel hands of time aging her right before me. She sat up straighter and just looked at me. She was so vulnerable. I was a stranger to her. Nobody special. But there are fragile moments in life where none of that matters. She was alone and scared and I was the only one there, and somehow I think that small gift was enough. I smiled at her. She quickly glanced away, but I caught her small smile in the darkness, a smile she had not intended for me to see.

It was all so unfair. Life is hard enough for me to explain to myself. How was I going to explain it to her? Why do these things happen? What could I say? What could I do to ease her pain?

In the light of the flickering shadows, I watched a rush of tears silently streak down her face. They beckoned me to her, and I crossed the threshold. Sitting on the bed, I breathed deeply, then softly, tenderly, I gathered her close in my arms and hugged her to me. She didn't resist, just grabbed me, and held on tight. No words needed to be said. There were noneanyway. I wouldn't let her go. Just held her and rocked her, until the poor kid finally cried herself to sleep.

I felt the moisture come to my own eyes. Like morning rain, the drops fell down my cheeks. I cried for Molly's pain, not mine. I welcomed my cop's tears. It meant I was still human. That I couldn't turn my back on someone because those were the rules, because for my own sanity, I wasn't suppose to get emotionally involved. I didn't have to have a huge commentary, or all the answers to help someone. In some dark cobwebbed corner of my mind I knew I couldn't wash away her pain, no matter what I said or did.

There was nothing. Nothing else I could do except be there. I crossed that line, so she didn't have to be alone, and shared in her tears.Life for Molly would never be the same, and neither would mine.

The End