Status: complete

All the Madness in the World


"We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone." – Orson Welles


I was very much aware of the fact that, especially in light of recent events, going for a run alone was probably not the best of ideas. But I figured, if he had his heart set on taking me then it would happen at one time or another and there wouldn’t be a whole lot I could do about it. The fact of the matter was I couldn’t stay cooped up in my apartment every minute that I wasn’t at work, I couldn’t stop living my life. Running made me feel better and it kept me in shape. It was a way to escape, if only for a while.

My eyes were trained on the environment around me and for the most part I stuck to well-travelled paths. I’d passed countless people and tried to speed up if I’d gone too long without seeing someone to call out to in the event that the worst happened. I indulged myself by keeping my headphones in, mostly just to give me something to keep time with. A footfall for a drum beat. A sprint for a guitar solo.

In the lull between two songs I thought I heard footsteps behind me, but when I turned there was nothing. This set me on high alert, my fingers rushing to turn off the music. I kept the headphones in so that I would seem more vulnerable than I actually was. My heart started racing even faster; there was no one around to scream for. No one to save me. When I heard the footsteps again I slowed down and knelt, pretending to tie my shoe. Instead I reached for the gun strapped to my ankle. Flicking off the safety, I wrapped my fingers around the trigger and waited as he got closer. The sound of shoes beating against pavement slowed into a few last trots as he came up behind me. I sprang to my feet and turned, aiming right between his eyes.

Jesus Christ.” I muttered, heaving out a breath and ripping the headphones from my ears as I lowered the gun. Hotch was holding his hands up, eyes furrowed in confusion. “Sorry, I’m a bit on edge.”

“With good reason.” He offered, hands resting on his hips as he caught his breath. A ring of sweat ran around the neckline of his shirt, beads forming at his hairline. “Should you really be running alone?”

“I run every Saturday, I had to make up for it today.” I mumbled, putting away my gun and wrapping my headphones around my neck. As antisocial as I felt, it didn’t take a genius to know that running with someone else, especially a male, would make me much less vulnerable. “I’m just on the last stretch, I parked over by the playground.”

“First one to the monkey bars wins?” He asked, and it was my turn to look at him with confusion. It was rare enough to see him crack a smile or laugh, but I had yet to glimpse an almost playful side of him. It caught me off guard, but after a moment I nodded and we set off.

I knew that this was just his way of trying to lighten the mood; a gesture of kindness so we could both pretend I hadn’t tried to shoot him thinking he was a serial killer with a target on my head. Despite the fact it was almost a game, he was actually a pretty fast runner. When the playground came into view he spurted ahead and I dropped all pretense of playing along. I matched him until the last few yards when I sped up, feet sinking into the sand as I leapt onto the monkey bars. I lifted my feet up and dangled in glory for a few minutes before walking smugly back over to him, chest heaving.

“You’re fast.” I nodded.

“You’re faster.” He challenged. I pretended to think about it for a moment and nodded my head.

“Yeah, I really am.” We laughed and I fixed my ponytail, covering up the scar on my neck. The whole thing was weird; I could report to Hotch, take orders and give paperwork and profile with. But even after my birthday, having fun with him still hadn’t really appeared as a plausible thing. “Before I forget, I was wondering if—I mean, if we don’t have any cases right away—if maybe Derek and I could have permission to take a few hours to do some training in the gym tomorrow morning?”

“Certainly.” He said as we started walking back to the parking lot. I glanced down at my watch and cursed under my breath. “What is it?”

“I’ve got to pick up Spence from the airport in an hour and I am not looking forward to it.” I muttered as we made it to my car. I fished for my keys in my pocket and he gave me a questioning look. “I have to tell him about what happened on Friday and he’s not going to be very happy with me.”

He wished me luck and we exchanged goodbyes as I scrambled into my car, needing to get home and shower before I went to the airport. I hadn’t dreaded talking to Spencer about something for ages, this was not going to be easy in the slightest.


“Ease up.”

My right arm swung around hard, then the left, pummeling towards the protective pads positioned on Derek’s hands. I was wholly focused on the task of hitting properly. The training that I’d gone through annually clearly wasn’t working out as well as I would have liked. It wasn’t exactly an issue of strength or ability, it was the fact that I had too much fear.

He’d almost gotten me. Again. It was one thing when I was fifteen, a kid, but now I had absolutely no excuse. All this practice and training, all the running I did and the weight lifting and the cardio—all of it had flown out the window when I’d been attacked. What the hell did I do, a cop for 8 years? I threw back my elbows and cried for my boss.

“I said ease up, Tash.” Derek deflected my punches and dropped his hands, forcing me to do the same. “You need to pace yourself properly or you won’t get anything done.”

“Fine.” I huffed, looking around at all of the other FBI agents trying to strengthen up. “Should we switch to hand-to-hand?”

For a minute he just looked at me but gave in and tossed the pads onto the ground. We moved to the centre of the room where a bunch of mats were set up and I took the stance he told me to. Part of me was stuck reminiscing about Chicago when we’d spend days doing the exact same. Of course I’d been thinking about how prepared I’d be if Ares ever came back for me. It just made so much sense that if I could train with someone as fit as Derek then surely I would be able to take him on next time.

Now, though, I didn’t know exactly what more to do. Because no matter how many times I blocked Derek’s attack, no matter how many times I managed to land a hit of my own or successfully draw my pretend gun, it always boiled down to the fact that his was just pretend. I didn’t feel the fear, I couldn’t fake the paralysis nor temporarily induce the panic. Derek was not Ares, and all the acting in the world couldn’t make me feel anything less than perfectly safe and comfortable in his presence.

He kept coming at me, pinning my arms back or covering my mouth or tripping me up. Anything he could do to incapacitate me. I would get him off of me most times, but it didn’t feel real. I kept trying to go back to that place I was in, to bring back what I felt in the hallway. But then Derek would speak or grunt and I would be brought back to reality.

After a bit we incorporated weapons into the training—nothing actually lethal, just guns with empty clips. We knew that the risk wasn’t in actually be killed with them, Ares had bigger plans in mind for me, but we couldn’t rule out the possibility that he’d willingly wound me if it meant getting me quicker. It took a bit but I was eventually able to dodge the line of fire long enough to disarm him.

The more difficult part came when we started practicing with an imaginary needle in case he tried to recycle his previously successful methods of incapacitating me. It was much smaller and easier to conceal, so much easier to get into me without my knowledge. I struggled against his grasp again and again, always trying to avoid what would be the death of me. But even with the training, even with the strength I’d worked so hard to get, it was just no match. I flipped out of his hold, crouching to the ground and barely wrapping my hands around the gun strapped to my ankle when I felt his finger against my neck. I cursed loudly, kicking away a nearby boxing glove. It rolled to the door of the gym that Hotch walked through moments after.

“I need you both in the conference room.”

“I just want to do a few more reps with her.” Derek said and I rolled my eyes.

“What’s the point, Derek? I’ve died about forty times in the past hour.” I grabbed my bag off the ground, wiping the sweat from my forehead.

“Tash, you can do this.” His eyebrows furrowed at my lack of will.

“Just leave it, Morgan. I’ll call you if I need a door smashed in.” I snapped, telling Hotch I’d be up in fifteen minutes and stomping off to the showers. The door slammed behind me and I heaved out a sigh, my insides swarming with anger, fear, and now guilt. The water was cold against my skin, but I made quick business of cleaning up and drying my hair as much as I could. I got dressed quickly, making sure I didn’t forget anything and throwing my bag into my locker on the way to the conference room. Everyone was already there and I apologized for being late. The only seat left was between Spencer and Derek and I didn’t know who would be more awkward to sit beside—Derek because of my little outburst or Spencer, because he was still mad at me.


The greetings were quick and he wasted no time in launching into a detailed recount of a conversation he’d had on the plane ride back; something about how he’d ended up sitting beside some well-known physicist and they’d spoken the entire time about some theory or another. Normally I would be attentive, but I was dreading the conversation I would have to have with him. We got his luggage just as the story finished and as we piled everything into my car he asked how my weekend went. I hesitated, refraining from starting the car and growing more anxious as he started to clue in that maybe something wasn’t alright.

“What is it?” He asked, turning to face me fully as I fidgeted with the keys. “Did something happen?”

“When you called me yesterday…I wasn’t completely honest with you.” I didn’t want to see the look on his face so I kept my eyes glued to the dashboard. “Hotch was taking me home and…someone tried to take me in the hallway.”

“What?!” He yelled, causing me to cringe. He started rambling a million questions and angry exclamations. I tried to explain but he just kept going. “How could you not tell me that?”

“And when we were working that case in Atlanta, I saw him in the club I was at.” I knew that now was the time to get everything out, but God how it hurt to see him look at me like that. It was as if I’d stuck a knife in him myself. “Spence, I didn’t want you to worry, there was nothing you could do and—and you were with your mom this weekend, I didn’t want you to have to pick or—”

“You don’t think I could have made that decision by myself?” He yelled. “You don’t think my mom would understand that that’s an okay reason to come home?”

“You worry enough as it is, I didn’t want to give you more reason to!” I said in my defence, gripping the wheel. “Hotch let me stay at his place for the night, I was fine.”

“Just—Just take me home.”




“We’ve had over a month to work this case,” Hotch began as my eyes danced over the evidence boards for the millionth time. “I think we could all benefit from regrouping and going over what we already know to see if there’s any angle we missed.”

“The cabin he had in Nevada was owned by an elderly couple found buried in the backyard, so we know he didn’t purchase it himself.” JJ started. “No prints or DNA found, everything was bleached clean.”

“I did searches with a billion different parameters about any houses that had been newly purchased in the area in the last six months, but it was impossible to narrow anything down.” Penelope said. We continued on like this for a short while, essentially exhausting every possible avenue and still coming up short. Nothing on the younger boy, Deimos. It was impossible to find the car he used. Even though he probably had some medical background it was impossible to know for sure if it was formal or informal training.

He was just too good.

At the end of the meeting everyone’s hearts seemed a little bit heavier and the notion made me feel doubly guilty. I grabbed Derek’s hand as he tried to get up, looking at him wearily and asking him to stay for a minute. Everyone else left and I sighed, taking both his hands mine and trying not to look as miserable as I felt.

“I shouldn’t have flipped out like that, I know you were just trying to help.” I said quietly, keeping my eyes downcast. “I’m sorry, Derek.”

“Apology accepted, T-Bird.” He smiled, raising my hands to his lips before pulling me into a hug and letting me rest my head on his shoulder. “All I know is you could whoop my ass if it came down to it.”

“A hundred times over.” I teased, kissing his cheek as I pulled away. “I’ve got to try and get Spence to stop hating me.”

Spencer was sitting at his desk, eyebrows furrowed as he penciled in the paper’s Sudoku puzzle. I hesitated before walking up and tentatively leaning against his desk.

“Are you going to hate me forever or just until I die?” He gave me a look for playing that card but I raised my eyebrows at him and took the paper away from him so he had to answer me. He was quiet for a while, fidgeting with a button on his shirt.

“I don’t hate you…I just wish you would have told me. You know I hate it when people hide things from me.”

“But as much as it bothers you, you know why I did it.” I nudged him lightly and he nodded. “So I’m sorry, okay? But of all the times for you to be mad at me I think this isn’t exactly it. I need you on my side, Spence.”

“I am on your side.” He said quietly.

“I know. I know.” He didn’t push me away when I gently wrapped my arms around him, but managed to crack a smile when I kissed his forehead and he wiped at whatever spit I’d left on him. It wasn’t as big of a burden when I had him to fall back on.