The In - Between Times
By Helena Fallon
Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds and no infringement of copyright is intended. I have borrowed a few characters and the rest is my imagination.
Dr. Spencer Reid had been in this very private clinic for 4 weeks now. The Bureau considered that being kidnapped, tortured and injected with highly addictive Dilaudid against his will, was worthy of the finest facility it could offer to give him the best chance to recover. Well 'recover' was not something you easily did, especially when the experience of the drug had re-opened the memories locked deep in the vaults of his mind. Max Pentall was the Chief Psychologist in the Bureau and he was not going to let Spencer Reid pull the wool over his eyes, even if he could run rings round his mentor.
Max had visited Reid at the hospital in Georgia within 12 hours of being taken there. They had given Reid a tox screen test automatically on arrival. Reid had given Hotch the two small bottles, he'd taken from Tobias, in the ambulance before his world tilted away from his then fragile hold on normality, as shock and the craving for the drugs both kicked in. Reid had told Hotch that he wanted to keep the little bottles as mementoes of the ordeal that he had survived. Hotch, of course, gave him back empty bottles once he was through the initial detox. But one night Spencer had filled them with water, like a child would fill a toy teapot to play a game, in Spencer's mind it was a game of over coming the urge to eventually fill the bottles with the real thing.
Max was fascinated by the psychology that Spencer adopted for himself. The teams of psychologists and psychiatrists, who oversaw the mental health of the agents, were very experienced in their respective fields and were assigned to agents depending on those strengths. During his 5 years with the Bureau, Spencer had seen a number of them: the men outnumbered the women and Reid admitted that he always felt more comfortable talking with a man than the older middle-aged women. Spencer Reid was both an enigma and special for the organisation: Reid was use to being prodded and poked with what these experts considered searching questions, and he tried to play their games with good humour.
Psychologists particularly had wanted to observe him from an early age because he belonged to that small group labelled as genius. A true genius was different to the merely gifted, who might excel in just one particular field. A genius was a polymath who found learning far easier than their fellows and whose brains functioned in their own unique way to make them appear super intelligent. Max knew his people and the ones that Spencer could manipulate, so he took a very special interest in this agent's present state of health, both mental and physical.
Max sat reviewing the file of this young agent. He knew that his BAU colleagues were very concerned about him. There appeared to be only his mentally sick mother listed as 'immediate family' and Gideon and Hotchner, appeared as next of kin, for medical decisions in case of emergencies. Max had read the whole BAU teams' files and it was noted on everyone of them that each of his colleagues were aware of his youth, social awkwardness and lack of close relationships in his life. Each of these colleagues had expressed their need as a team, to be like a family for Reid because his only experience of 'normal' family life was through books and academic studies. Gideon had done a very good job initially mentoring him, but then Gideon had experienced his depressive break. Max was beginning to watch Jason Gideon a little more these days; sometimes Gideon resented criticism concerning his mentoring of the young agent.
The hospital had at first been very concerned about the dehydration and physical signs of abuse with various injuries ranging from head trauma, cracked ribs, bruising and various cuts. These were then compounded by the drugs within his system and the dilemma of how best to treat the obvious drug withdrawal alongside a head injury. However, in the end, Reid had remained at the hospital for a week while he was observed carefully and detoxed before being moved to this exclusive clinic to deal with the after effects of the ordeal. So far, he was managing to cope with the cravings for Dilaudid: he admitted that they were there and the staff had been very supportive with one to one mentoring. Max smiled as he remembered that yesterday he had found Glen, the male nurse assigned for the morning, desperately trying to keep up with the effortless backstroke that Reid was practising down the pool. He then flipped over at the end and began a streamlined crawl for the next length to reach the opposite end and a relaxing chat with Max himself. The agent had grinned mischievously as he relaxed on the side of the pool waiting for Glen to reach them.
Spencer Reid had turned to Max and said, "It was Glen's suggestion to have a swim, thought it would be good for my healing body. Personally, I think he was ducking out of going outside because of the cold wind today."
"OK, I confess, I thought this would be nice and warm," Glen replied as he reached the side somewhat breathless by comparison. "You're a good swimmer."
Max stared at the emaciated man sitting on the side of the pool. The clinic staff was very pleased with his progress and he didn't seem to get unduly upset by the constant watch unlike other patients there. Max got the impression that the staff genuinely liked being with him but then that was Spencer Reid's charm. Reid could be very disarming by being so innocently charming but he was a very capable, and consequently very manipulative, psychologist. To this end he was his own worse enemy and Max needed to break into the fortress that held the real Spencer before he would be able to truly heal. Max Pentall suspected that there were years of emotional denial to get through before they could achieve this.
Max had watched the profiler play his role: he was too calm and too perfect a patient, he was repressing the real reaction to the whole traumatic episode. There had of course been the distressing time of the raw agony and embarrassment of losing physical control over his bodily functions during the initial detox. Reid was a fastidious young man, not a fancy dresser but a personally clean man who had hated being so dirty and smelly when he was found. It had been one of the first things that Reid had told him about when Max had visited him in Georgia. Then there had been his disgust over the effects of the detox…sheer excruciating agony but the shakes, sweating, vomiting and diarrhoea had been far worst because he had lost his dignity in the lack of privacy.
Gideon had stepped reluctantly back. Max had reasoned that the loss of Reid's private space would make it harder for him to return to the unit if his colleagues witnessed this physical vulnerability. When Reid was more coherent, he had told Max that he would prefer that his colleagues didn't visit him until he felt more like himself. The Chief Psychologist understood; he had seen others crumple out in the field but it was part of their mental healing, for their journey back to work not to be witnessed by their colleagues. Colleagues were usually concerned, but the patient's wishes had to be respected, and in this case Max felt Spencer was happier dealing just with the clinic's staff. The staff here had no preconceived idea of who Spencer was as a person, and in his mind, Spencer hoped he was never going to see them again once he was allowed home. If Spencer Reid woke up screaming from a nightmare or was cruelly snappish he was just another patient to these people, not a colleague or friend who desperately wanted the old Reid back in the workplace.
Max looked at Spencer Reid's former contacts with the Bureau's mental health team; he had sent Arthur to Reid's apartment to get some of his own clothes. It was now time to take a more active part in re-building this unique profiler. Max had chosen Arthur because Reid seemed to have a good rapport with him at the mandatory psych. evaluations. For Max there was the problem of which of the psychiatrists would be best to work alongside Arthur. He had been thinking over the possibilities for a couple of hours, and was getting no further. Max knew he had to get it right because the psychologist and the psychiatrist had to work well together professionally or Reid would pick up the tension, or dissension, and use it against them to protect his little world.
The phone rang breaking into his deliberations.
"Max Pentall," he said, leaning back into the comfortable leather chair.
"Arthur," replied the deep voice from the receiver. "I've got a selection of Reid's clothes, do you want me to take them over tonight?"
"Yes, do that but don't tell him you'll be back to share breakfast with him in the morning. Let's try and get the upper hand from the start."
"Fine. Have you decided who'll be my partner yet?"
"I've been going round in circles, Arthur, but I've narrowed it down to Vince or Don because they both have excellent track records with kidnap cases and family trauma. Any preference?"
"They're both good, but Vince will probably be too extrovert for the patient. Don is older and quieter and his own original social awkwardness might help Reid to see that you can grow out of it."
"Good point, but I thought you might find Don a little too quiet for yourself?" asked Max, wanting Arthur to feel comfortable himself. Usually in these pairing situations, Arthur had a tendency to balance his own quiet authority with a more colourful one.
"I was thinking of Spencer. He really does like quieter people and you want us to get to the bottom of his emotional turmoil, I just think he'll respond better. Max the decision is yours really…I can work with either."
"You've a valid point and I need to choose so I'll make it Don and ring him to set up a case meeting, OK?"
"It's good with me, I'll get on my way to the clinic with these things, Bye for now." Arthur said decisively and cut the connection. He turned the ignition key and headed out of the car park for the freeway.
End of Chapter 1