The team knew Spencer was autistic. Gideon had been straight from the start. He may have deficits in certain areas but he had amazing strengths as well and he was confident the doctor would prove himself to be a worthy inclusion in the BAU. Of course, he was right. But accepting Spencer into the team also meant learning how to help him manage difficulties too.
Meltdowns. Gideon was well versed in how to respond when Spencer was overwhelmed and so gave the team a run down on what to do if the situation should arise.
Spencer too gave his take on what to do if things got out of hand, but in the form of a short book entitled “How to Tame a Spencer”. This elicited the humoured response intended, but it actually proved incredibly useful, providing a step by step guide of how to help Spencer manage when things got unmanageable.
Since Spencer joined the BAU, he had had 2 meltdowns that at least some of the team had had to help him through.
The third happened during the chaos of a night out. The lights above the bar. Buzzing. People playing cards. Shouting. Stomping feet, slurping drinks, some sport on the TV that came with intermittent screeching of various emotions from those watching, and all the while people expecting him to be able to hear them and respond. How?!
He’d been sitting with Garcia and Morgan. Someone grabbed his shoulder. The explosion he’d been subduing by massacring the inside of his cheek released and he was suddenly standing, shouting, eyes slammed shut, punching himself as hard as he could. The bar went silent. Oh irony.
As the rest of the people in the bar stood in shock, the team knew what to do.
Garcia and Morgan swept round the table, moved the man who’d initiated the riot (him looking more shocked than anyone. He’d gone over to ask if he could buy Garcia a drink. This was not what he was expecting.) and then started pushing everyone out the door. Reid wasn’t going anywhere like this. Best to preserve as much of his dignity as they could.
Gideon sped over, followed quickly by Hotch, and ran through his mental checklist. First, remove immediate dangers. He was hitting himself in the head, his forehead flame red, blood smeared over his eyebrow and round his knuckles. Origin unknown.
“We need to restrain him”, Gideon shouted to Hotch.
Spencer was still shouting, screaming “NO,NO,NO,NO”
Hotch nodded, the sadness fizzling out of his eyes and being replaced with action, motive.
As part of the FBI, they knew basic restraint techniques. They each took hold of an arm, being as gentle as they could whilst trying to offset the force Spencer was putting in. He was certainly stronger than he looked. Gideon moved Spencer’s arm out to his side, having to hold it against himself to hold back the force Spencer was conjuring. Hotch followed suit.
Spencer was now shaking his head violently, screaming something completely inaudible, trying to struggle his way free from the grips he was being held in. Noting the whitening knuckles, Gideon squeezed his hand in between Spencer’s fist. A sharp sting on the back of Gideon’s hand confirmed his action.
“Morgan!”, yelled Gideon, trying to reach the other agent over the screams of his colleague, knowing they would only increase with the sudden noise.
Morgan appeared through the bar door, his face marred with concern.
“Music and something for in between his fists. He’s squeezing hard enough to break skin so something thick”, Gideon ordered, keeping his tone as low as he could whilst still being heard and nodding towards the satchel propped up against the abandoned table.
Morgan nodded, moving quickly to the satchel. He opened it to find the set of noise cancelling headphones that seemed to be Spencer’s most precious item, explaining the physics behind them whenever he got the chance. His phone was in the front, along with 2 blue bean bag type objects that were heavy, but more importantly, thick.
He rushed back to his 3 colleagues, finding it hard to think over the continual pained screaming, that was now turning into more of a shouting cry. He knelt down and laid down the objects. He took the beanbag and fought to put it in between Spencer’s balled up fingers. Hotch helped prise them back as Morgan thrust the beanbag in. Spencer struggled against it, but Hotch wrapped his hand round the outside of Spencer’s fist to make sure he couldn’t let it out.
The same was done on Gideon’s side, apart from when Gideon pulled out his hand to position it around Spencer’s re-curled up fist, his hand was covered in his own blood.
“Gideon”, breathed Morgan. The older man shook his head. He was not the one who needed help right now and they both knew it.
Morgan knelt back down, fumbling with the phone to unlock it and find the playlist that was entitled “How to tame a Spencer: Step 4”. It pained Morgan to see such a brilliant, funny kid this way. He carried on, switching on the headphones and adjusting the music volume till Morgan rose and put them over Spencer’s ears.
As he stood at face height with the doctor, he couldn’t help but grimace at the scrunched up eyes, the teartracks covering his face, the groaning and crying that just wouldn’t stop.
Hotch’s voice brought him back to the present. A nod from Gideon meant he was free to go back outside and wait for the storm to subside in relative peace.
Spencer’s body was now beginning to release, to stop fighting his colleagues, to stop trying to hurt himself. Hotch glanced over at Gideon
“Okay, Spence. You’re doing a great job here. Let’s take you down to the floor, huh?”,Gideon said, lightly.
Keeping a tight grasp of the younger mans arms, the two agents lowered him down to the ground, so that they were all crouched on the floor of an empty bar, at 11pm on a Thursday night, all exhausted but most likely not equally so.
Spencer was now rocking back and forth, a monotonous hum escaping his lips.
“Okay Spencer, Hotch and I are gonna let go of your arms now okay? If you try to hurt yourself, we’ll have to restrain you again bud.” No response was expected so Gideon nodded to Hotch and they both released the arm they were grasping. Spencer quickly wrapped both arms around his legs, curling in even tighter on himself, maintaining his steady rock and hum.
Gideon and Hotch shared another glance, and with a nod from Gideon, began to back away from the distraught doctor.
“We’re gonna need to get him out of here soon. The customers are going to want to come in and he’s not going to be fully back to us for a while yet”, Hotch stated, all business, as usual.
Gideon looked over to Spencer: pulled into a ball, eyes squeezed shut as if being poked by a thousand needles, sweat soaking through his shirt, his straggly brown hair frizzed up into a mane. His arms were clamped around his knees which were pulled up to his chest as he rocked rhythmically and hummed a steady note. Gideon squirmed at the sight of his colleague, his friend, so compromised. So vulnerable.
“Give him 10 minutes”, answered Gideon, sitting down a few feet away from Spencer. Hotch sighed and drifted outside to apologise and explain to the drunken customers and the utterly baffled looking bartender