Status: complete

All the Madness in the World


"Nothing is so strong as gentleness and nothing is so gentle as real strength." – Ralph W. Sockman


“So I’ve still got to finish the last page of the report but Lockwood’s not going anywhere so I figured it could wait till Monday morning—I mean, I hope that’s okay.”

The stairs were taking particular strain on my body tonight. It was well into the night as Hotch, my scheduled escort for tonight, trudged alongside me up all 5 flights of stairs.

“I trust you’ll get it done.” He said, trying and failing to suppress a yawn. I felt like apologizing, just as I did every time someone had to trail me all the way into my apartment, but I knew he’d be polite and tell me it was no worry. No matter what any of them said, it was my fault this was happening. If only I’d paid more attention those four months, I could have had a more accurate profile; I would know where this bastard was.

We finally made it to my floor and shuffled across the carpeted hallway to the only door without a welcome mat. Shuffling around in my bag for the keys, I fished them out only to drop them. Picking them up and shaking my head, I fiddled with the lock and pushed the door open. I took one step in and stopped.

“What is it?” Hotch said from behind me as my eyes scanned the darkness. It would be five steps to the light switch, five steps too far into the place to see for sure.

“I…I don’t know.” I could barely muster a whisper. “Something doesn’t feel right…”

From behind me I heard him drawing his gun, and raising it before him he stepped around me and walked a few feet into the place. My heart began to race as the feeling in my gut intensified. Something was very very wrong here. I began to panic, backing out of the threshold altogether and taking refuge in the hallway. I watched as Hotchner disappeared around the corner, gun at the ready, while I held my breath like a coward outside.

Before I had any time to really register what was happening, a hand clasped over my mouth and an arm snaked around my waist. The attacker began to furiously pull me down the hall towards the opposite staircase. I was thrashing like mad, trying to grab hold onto anything to stop him. I opened my jaws enough to grab one of his fingers, and I bit down on it with all my strength, the rate of my heart defying all normal palpitations.

With every last ounce of air that occupied my lungs, I screamed for Hotch. In the attacker’s split second of lost control I tried to throw my elbows backwards, but hit only his arms. And then Hotch leapt into the hallway, gun pointed directly at the attacker, who froze. Before anyone could act he produced a gun of his own and held it to my temple.

“Put the gun down.” Hotch was taking slow steps in my direction as the attacker’s arm on my waist moved, tightening around my neck instead. “I said, put the gun down.”

Please.” I begged, my fingers wedged between my neck and his arm. He was thinking about the request for an awful long time, and with every second Hotch came closer. When he was only three feet in front of me, the attacker came to a decision. In one swift movement he threw me forward, sending me crashing into Hotch as he spun and slammed through the door to the stairwell.

Hotch stumbled but caught his footing, trying to straighten me up and looking up at the door. He seemed to think leaving me was a bad idea and so he tried to lead me towards the stairs. I took no more than four steps before the reality of what had just happened washed over me, weakening my knees until I collapsed altogether. I began to shake horribly, a nauseas feeling boiling in my stomach as tears sprung from my eyes.

It was exactly how he had caught me last time.

Little 15 year old Natasha, silly enough to think that being in high school made you invincible. No 15 year old worries about being taken off their front porch in broad daylight after school, but I should have. And just when I think I’ve gotten past that, he shows up again: my personal demon, the Devil incarnate.

“Natasha?” Somewhere inside of my head I knew Hotch was calling me, but the hall was spinning and I couldn’t focus worth a damn and all I could think about were those four months in a basement and how small this hallway felt and how sick I was. He said something else, but now it was just noise: no discernable words. After a few more seconds, everything went black.


Coldness, the first thing I was aware of; I was cold. My eyelids were burning red; there was some bright light above me just beyond the cover of skin. I wasn’t ready to brave the scenery just yet. I began to move around a bit, testing out my limbs to rid their feeling of foreignness.

“BP’s 110/50, she’s stabilizing, breathing is coming back to normal, she’s not clammy anymore and showing signs of consciousness so I think she’ll be fine.”

I creaked my eyes open before slamming them shut against the blinding whiteness of what I could only assume was the ambulance. Then, slower this time, I managed to keep them open. The paramedic offered me a smile as I pushed myself up, ripping the oxygen mask off despite his tries to keep it on.

“I don’t need it, I’m fine.”

“Well we just want to make sure you’re in tip top shape before we let you go, ma’am.”

“I can’t, I have to get him…”I said weakly, reaching for my gun as I tried to get to my feet. Only when I felt four hands pulling me back down did I realize Hotch was there too. “Did you catch up to him?”

“By the time paramedics got here he was already gone.” I rubbed the sides of my head, heaving out a sigh before promising the medic I was good to go and thanking him.

“Now ma’am you’re still regressing from the initial stage of shock so please take it easy—I don’t want you ending up in the hospital.”

“You got it.” I promised, getting onto solid ground with the help of Hotch and watching as the ambulance disappeared down the street. I rubbed my eyes, beginning to apologize as I looked nervously around the street for any signs of movement. There were a few looky-lous, but no one suspicious; for some reason, this just made me even more nervous.

“This is exactly why I didn’t want you coming home alone at night. You didn’t ask for this to happen, none of this is your fault.” He placed a hand on my shoulder as I sighed. “Do you want to call Reid?”

“No…He’s visiting his mom for the weekend. That’s more important than this, I’ll just tell him when he comes back.”

“You don’t think he’d want to hear about this?”

“I know he’d want to and that he’d feel horribly conflicted over staying with his mother or coming back to me, so I might as well make it easy for him.”

“Well, it’s your call.” He said, keys jingling as he pulled them from his pocket. “I parked just over here.”


“I don’t think it’s wise for you to be alone given what just happened, and seeing as Reid is out of state…”

“Oh.” I said after a moment, understanding what he was getting at. I proceeded to tell him I’d be fine, secretly thankful that he insisted otherwise. Alone was most definitely the last thing I wanted to be right now. Just some form of human contact would cut it tonight. I was also lucky in that he didn’t suggest me getting anything for the night from my apartment, seeing as that was really the last place I felt remotely safe at the moment.

I followed Hotch to his car, getting in the front and thanking God he didn’t try and make small talk. I didn’t want to talk about what had happened, but even worse would be trying to act like it didn’t happen by talking about the weather—which was actually shaping up to be a pretty dense storm. The rain, slow at first, started rolling out in sheets as the sky lit up and cracked with thunder. It was about a 20 minute drive to his house from my building, and despite myself I cast nervous glances all around as I followed him up the front steps.

When we got in he tried to direct me to the master bedroom, but I insisted on taking the couch. It was bad enough he had to play babysitter, I sure as hell wasn’t making him stay on the couch on top of that. After enough persuasion he gave in, disappearing up the stairs to get a blanket. I collapsed onto the sofa, letting my bag fall to the floor and resting my head in my hands. I tried not to think about what would no doubt keep me awake the rest of the night: but it was no easy thing to ignore.

“Here, take as many as you need.” Turning, I saw Hotch come down the last step, arms full of pillows and blankets. If I hadn’t been in such a rotten mood I’d have laughed. He set them down on the coffee table and nodded, turning to leave.

“I’m sorry about everything that happened tonight, but I really appreciate all of this, Hotch. A lot.” Thunder shook the house as the lights flickered for a moment and my fingers dug graves into the corner of the couch.

“Are you okay?” He asked cautiously, turning to face me. I crossed my arms over my chest and looked out the window as lightning illuminated the sky. The problem with growing up with Spencer was that some of his habits could occasionally rub off on you—like his rambling. I was talking before I had the sense to filter myself.

“This one night when he had me, around the second month…There was this terrible storm that cut the power to the whole place. He came down the stairs and he was so furious with me. He thought I was trying to communicate with Zeus and…I just remember him beating me to try and make it stop until I passed out…” Another flash of lightning brought me out of the memory and I was aware of the look on his face. “Sorry, you don’t need to be hearing that.”

“Do you…Would you like me to stay up with you until it passes?”

“God, no.” I dismissed, pulling off my watch and earrings as a sign of my imminent undressing. “Go to bed, I’ll be fine.”

“Get some sleep.” He said with the rare and coveted Hotchner smile. “If you need anything I’m just upstairs.”

“Gotcha, Bossman.” I said weakly, turning to the pile on the table as he looked out the window, up and down the street, before double checking the lock on the front door and leaving me to the silence of a half-unfamiliar house. It was cruel, almost; the last time I was here it had been in happiness, the rooms filled with child’s laughter and light. But now it was dark, the quiet amplifying my fear tenfold; the memory of Jack in stark juxtaposition with recent events.

On top of the mountain of blankets I noticed there was an old t shirt and a pair of sweatpants. As weird as it would be wearing my boss’s clothes, it would beat sleeping in a suit. I quickly changed and pulled my hair up, leaving my old clothes on the floor and picking out a pillow and blanket. Crossing the room, I hit the light switch and plunged myself into darkness before crawling onto the sofa. Wrapping myself tight in the blanket, I took a few deep breaths and tried to clear my mind.

But of course, that didn’t work. I found solace nowhere. Every time I closed my eyes I felt the gun at my head; or worse, was forced to remember those long weeks spent locked underground. Every time I opened my eyes, the green light casting from the time on the TV box spelled out all the minutes I wasn’t sleeping. Sometimes I cried. The only comforting thought was that I didn’t have to work tomorrow and that Spencer would be home on Sunday.

After an hour and a half of tossing and turning, I eventually gave up. Turning on the light, I fell onto the couch and looked around aimlessly for something to do. Before I could settle on anything to do something hit me full force: a realization. I shuffled frantically through my bag until I found a pen and some paper, beginning to scribble the tangle of thoughts messily down onto the paper.

The man, the one who attacked me, it couldn’t have been Ares. It was impossible. Ares was much taller than I was, but whoever held that gun to my head was the same size as me. Also, he was nervous. Ares would have pointed the gun at Hotch, not me. He wouldn’t kill me so simply; no, I deserved a ritual. This all pointed to one conclusion, the one I had hoped would be just a theory.

Deimos was still under Ares’ thumb, and he still wasn’t fully committed to what Ares was telling him to do. If we could find him, isolate him, it might be possible to force something out of him. At this point I gave up on sleep altogether, despite how tired I was, and tiptoed to the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee. It took a few tries for me to find the right cupboards, but once everything was set up I brought all the papers into the kitchen and studied them at the table while I waited for the coffee to brew.

3 cups of coffee later I realized it was past 4, and I took a break from writing down every thought I had relating to the case. Taking a moment, I spread out the 8 sheets in front of me on the table, looking over everything to see if I could may any additional connections. I stood up, looking at it from a step back to try and see it all at once.

Holding the cup in one hand, my other absently went up and pulled my pony tail to the side, tracing over the bumpy scar on the side of my neck with my fingertips. The murders were happening much closer together now, which at least meant the victims didn’t suffer nearly as much as his earlier ones. The mark still hurt if I stretched the wrong way, as if memory wasn’t a permanent enough reminder of it all.

“I guess you couldn’t sleep much either.” The suddenness of the voice threw me from my trance, scaring me so much that the mug slipped right out of my hand. It crashed onto the floor and shattered, tens of pieces of ceramic mingling with whatever coffee had been left untouched.

I mumbled an apology and immediately went for the paper towels, trying to mop up the liquid and grab all the pieces. Hotch started to help but I shooed him away, brushing off his apologies for startling me. When I successfully cleaned everything up I found him studying the notes I’d made.

“You spent all night on this?”

“Yeah…For some reason I couldn’t sleep.” I laughed weakly, crossing my arms over my chest. I didn’t know what was more odd; the ease with which I could joke about what had happened or seeing Hotchner in something other than a suit. “It sort of just hit me and I went with it.” From the other room I heard an unmistakable buzzing, and excused myself to go check my phone. When I finally found it I flicked it open, seeing it was a text from Spencer—which was weird, because it was 1 in the morning in Las Vegas.


Call me when you get this.


My heart began to race, as my mind jumped to a thousand horrible conclusions. I punched his number in furiously and waited for him to answer.

“Since when are you up so early on a Saturday?” He laughed.

“Well I could ask what’s provoked you to stay up past your bedtime, Spence. What’s up? Are you okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine…I just had this feeling…well I guess it would be more appropriate to call it an instinct, feelings are more of a chemical balance in the brain whereas instincts are—”

“Skip the science lesson, Spence.”

“I just thought I should call and make sure you’re okay.”

“Of course, why wouldn’t I be?” I shifted anxiously, shooting a glance at Hotch as he came into the living room.

“Like I said, I had this instinct that told me to check up on you.”

“Well I’m peachy-keen, Spence.” I promised. “What time are you coming home?”

“If there aren’t any delays and the weather is favourable—which it’s supposed to be—then I should be in Virgina at 3pm.”

“I’ll pick you up from the airport. But listen I’m going to try and get a few more hours of sleep so I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

We said our goodbyes and I tossed my phone onto the table, collapsing onto the couch. I sighed, rubbing at my eyes and turning to face Hotch. He was giving me a look for lying to Spencer, but I shrugged it off.

“I told you, I don’t want him to worry.” I said quietly. When I started to gather my things, announcing I should probably head home, he stopped me. “I can’t stay here forever, Bossman.”

“I think you need to actually get some sleep.” He reasoned, ignoring my protests. “Once the sun is up and you’ve slept a few hours I’ll take you home.”