Disclaimer: Reid, Morgan, Gideon, and any others you recognize aren't mine. The paramedic, doctor, and the other hospital staff are mine. And the poor little girl belongs to God now.
Warning: Child abuse, disturbing images, general stuff the show might not touch
Author's note: As usual, fanfic is my outlet for the horrible things I encounter in the course of my job. Thanks for bearing with me.
Spencer Reid stood outside the door of Trauma 2 at the Memorial Hospital in a tiny town in southern Kentucky, watching the numbers on the heart monitor drop. He was a genius, and not used to not knowing things, but he had no idea what the rhythm on the monitor was. He could recognize normal sinus as well as easy ones like v-fib and v-tach, but this was like nothing he had ever seen. Instead of sharp and defined, the peaks and valleys were rounded. They looked like tombstones. Reid knew that it couldn't be good.
No one noticed him standing outside, watching the numbers slowly countdown toward zero. He tried to think of it in those terms, just numbers counting down toward zero, but it was impossible not to think about the tiny chest the electrodes were attached to. The dates on the journal they had found said the girl was thirteen, but years of abuse and neglect had left her the size of the average four-year-old. She didn't even have a name.
No one had known she existed. The BAU wasn't looking for her. Her parents were responsible for the brutal murders of over 42 women in 16 states over the past 15 years, and they finally closed in on them. They had been in custody for over a week when Reid was able to decipher the woman's journal enough to understand a reference to "the bitch" referred to a hidden child. But by then it was too late.
When they had finally found the hidden room in the cellar the unfortunate girl had spent her entire life in, she had barely been breathing. The weak, erratic breathing stopped during the ambulance ride, and when they brought her in to the emergency room, they were doing CPR. Now a tube was in her throat, and a woman stood beside her squeezing a bag, forcing air into her lungs. Her little heart was beating on its own, but not doing a very good job. It was failing. It was just a matter of time before it gave up the fight.
Reid watched as doctors, nurses, and one young paramedic who refused to give up until it was over milled around, looking for the magic wand, the thing that could undo thirteen years of damage and make her whole, well, and the captain of the volleyball team. Reid felt for the young medic. She couldn't be more than 21. Was she really young and naïve enough to believe this could end any other way? And was he really only a few years older than her?
The rounded marks on the ECG were getting smaller. That had to mean the end was near. Reid wasn't sure about his beliefs about the afterlife. It wasn't logical to think that so many converging factors that made the world what it was would happen randomly without some type of intelligence guiding them, but he wasn't ready to come right out and admit to belief in an all-powerful deity. Times like this, however, he wished he could. He wanted to picture this little girl walking upright into the safe arms of some benevolent protector, knowing the love she had never known in life.
If he had just gotten there sooner. If he had figured it out a day earlier. If he was more practical minded rather than searching for theoretical clues in a madwoman's diary. If he had checked the cellar first instead of wasting time searching the upstairs first. There were a million things he could have done different, but deep in his heart he knew he wasn't responsible for the horrors this child had been subjected to. Her fate was sealed long ago. So why did he still feel like he had swallowed a quart of lava?
The paramedic was poised over her chest, ready to start CPR again, and Reid winced. Please, no. Just let her go. Hasn't she been through enough? The blond man he assumed was the doctor came around the bed and put a hand on her shoulder. When she looked up at him, he sadly shook his head. Reid recognized the look on the doctor's face. He had seen it on Gideon's several times, when he was telling Reid something that would probably hurt. He wished Gideon was here now.
The paramedic left the room, and stood beside Reid. From there, she was out of the room as the doctor had suggested, but hadn't completely abandoned her patient. She looked up at Reid. "Doc told me to leave. He didn't want me to stay and watch, but I can't just leave her. There's no one else here for her."
Reid didn't take his eyes off the monitor to talk to her, but she didn't either, so it didn't really matter. "I'm here."
"But we're no match for a real family."
Reid nodded slightly. "Yeah," he said, "but if this girl had a real family, none of us would be here now."
They watched the monitor descent into asystole, and heard the hum of a flatline. The paramedic turned away and faced the nurses station. Reid joined her just in time to see a single tear roll half-way down her cheek before she caught it and stood up straighter. "After six years, it never gets any easier."
Reid looked at her funny. "Six years? How old are you?!"
He was shocked. "Me too."
She managed a weak smile. "Then you know what I'm talking about."
He nodded. Oh, yeah, he definitely knew what she meant.
Just then, the radio on her belt made a noise, and she unclipped it. "660, dispatch. Go ahead." She shrugged at Reid. "Gotta go save the world again."
She turned to walk out, and he had to smile. "Hey!" he called as she was heading for the door. She turned back to him and he said, "Do you think you ever will?"
She thought it over for a second, then shrugged. "No. But that doesn't mean I get to stop trying." And with that, she was gone.
The doctor came out of the trauma room and shut the door. He put his hand on Reid's shoulder just as he had the medic. "We did all we could. So did you. It was over long before today."
Reid nodded numbly, but continued to stand there when the doctor left him alone. He wasn't sure how long he stood there before Morgan found him. "Hey, kid, you ok? You know this isn't your fault, right? We did our best. And the ones who did that to her will pay."
He nodded. "Yeah. Just part of the job."
Morgan looked at him alarmed. "Hey! Don't think that! The minute you don't hurt over losing a little girl, you got no business doing this anymore, understand?"
Reid nodded. "Yeah. Somebody has to save the world."