Status: complete

All the Madness in the World


"Nothing is easier than to denounce the evil doer; Nothing more difficult than understanding him." – Fyodor Dostoevsky


It’s so easy to make a script of things in your head; so easy to plan out scenarios and who says what and everything that happens. The problem is, no one ever sticks to the script. It’s never a perfect world, and the unpredictability is perhaps best, though, because it keeps us on our feet.

Or knocks us off them.

He was abysmally calm, sitting there with perfect posture and hands folded neatly on the metal table. The handcuffs gleamed in the harsh halogen lights, reflecting brightness into the otherwise lifeless eyes. Hotch and Morgan were throwing everything they had at him: good cop/bad cop, promising a deal, threats, infiltrating his mind via profiling: nothing worked. He just sat there, not saying anything more than the same sentence over and over.

“Athena will fall when the sun is most high; she will not return to her home in the sky.”

Emily and Spencer were on either side of me, casting nervous glances that were so easily caught from the corners of my eyes. They wanted to tell me it would be alright, they wanted to promise that we’d find a way to make him talk; but I knew better than to believe in such fairy-tales. Happy endings were reserved for story books and Disney movies and preteen romance novels. They wouldn’t find their way into the cold, gray walls of this room.

“We get it man, we hear what you’re saying.” Morgan said irritably. “Athena will fall, okay? But you were there when Ares had her before, weren’t you? Huh? This isn’t the first time you’ve seen her?”

“Athena has presented herself many times.” He replied calmly, looking up at them for the first time. Morgan and Hotch exchanged looks.

“And the incarnation you saw just now, have you seen her before?” Hotch pressed. Luke blinked once and then smiled.

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about, mate.”

Something in me snapped; it was as if in a single moment every memory of those four months rushed back. I felt every needle and every punch and every scalding hot cattle prod. Maybe it was just my lack of sleep. A fire lit within me, and before anyone could stop me I rushed out of the room and burst in on the interrogation. The door slammed into the opposing wall and my eyes found Luke’s with a fury.

“You lying bastard!” I cried, Hotch moving to prevent my attack. “You were there every goddamn night, you watched me beg and stood there while he beat me! It was you who I called to when he was raping me, and you never even tried to stop him!”

“Natasha.” I ignored Hotch, struggling to see Luke through my watery eyes as my lungs processed choppy breaths. As suddenly as the rage had come, it subsided into a resolved calm. I looked him dead in the eye.

“I can promise you this much: I will be the one to end your life.” There were a few moments of silence before Hotch escorted me out of the room. I didn’t protest, my body going limp like a rag doll as he steered me up to his office. He placed me in a chair before his desk and took the one beside it, turning so he was facing me.

“We will find a way to make him talk.” He had the perfect voice of reassurance. My head lolled upwards until my eyes found his and my hands slowly calmed their shaking.

“I can see it now.”

“See what?”

“How it all ends. How it’s meant to end.” My voice was croaky as I tried to speak. “He’ll find me, eventually. He’ll get his way.”


“He needs to complete the fantasy. I am going to die. Maybe one more body is all you’ll need to find him, so please don’t let mine go to waste.” As I rose to my feet, so did he; blocking my path to the door and holding my arms in his hands.

“I promise you that we will find him, and when we’re done with him he won’t see the light of day again, do you understand me?”

“Everyone keeps saying that, but I really don’t see it happening!” I cried, struggling to gain control of my emotions. “He’s always been one step ahead. He always will be.”

“That’s not true. Listen to me,” He began as my eyes watered. “You beat him once already. You aren’t a victim, you’re a survivor. You have more strength in your determination to care for others than he will ever have holding a weapon. You will make it through this.”

Despite my best efforts at restraint, and understanding completely how inappropriate it was, my arms wound around him as I stifled my tears. He reciprocated the gesture as I mumbled out a few dummy words: “Aaron, I’m so scared…I can’t run anymore…”

“It’ll be over soon.” He said quietly. There was a moment of silence, quickly stamped out of existence by a gentle knock on the door. We broke away instantly, my hands going up to dry my cheeks as Spencer came in. His eyes lingered on me in their all too familiar sad-puppy-dog way before he turned to Hotch.

“We’ve, uh…We’ve got an address.”

What?” I breathed.

“After you left he started rambling in Greek; I—I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but then he just started repeating an address.”

“Reid, stay here with Natasha.” Hotch was already lifting the receiver and dialing a number as instructions rolled out. “Tell Morgan to bring Prentiss, ask JJ to put out a bulletin to any cops in the area—Hello? Yes, this is SSA Aaron Hotchner, I’m requesting backup to an address that one of my agents will be passing on momentarily. This is a top priority case, I need every available unit you have. Yes. Thank you.—Get Garcia to pull up a satellite image of the place and relay the quickest route and best vantage points.”

“I’m coming with you.” I demanded, Spencer hurrying away with his list of orders as Hotch gave me a weary look. “If this is real and there’s a chance this might be over, I have to be there to see it. I have to.”

He was quiet for what felt like an eternity, the soundtrack of distant phones and footsteps and voices swelling loud in the absence of his speech. He caved, though, and nodded. I wasted no time and sped to the locker rooms, strapping on my vest and pulling on my jacket. Emily came in just as I got ready to go. Despite the fact that this was the kind of moment worthy of some exchange, we were both silent. I had little hope left when it came to catching Ares—Miller—whatever; and it probably made me foolish to think we might actually get him this time. But that was what I could count on: a fool’s hope.

Spencer was waiting for me, staying by my side just as he’d promised. He wasn’t, however, ready to go. When I gave him a questioning look he explained that he wanted to stay behind and talk to Luke some more. My first instinct was to deny the request, but truthfully he was much safer in a building full of FBI agents than he was on what could very well be Ares’ home turf.

“Did you clear it with Hotch?”

“Not yet, I wanted to check with you first.” He explained. I gave him a small smile and nodded to show my agreement.

“What do you think you’ll get out of him?”

“Well, I have a theory about him but I’m not sure…” He trailed off, looking towards the interrogation room and then back to me. “There might be a way for me to get through to him.”

“Tash, we gotta go.” Morgan called begrudgingly from the elevator. He didn’t want me going at all. I wished Spencer luck before rushing to make it before the doors shut. Derek looked over at me, but just like with Emily silence was preferred. There really wasn’t anything definitive to say.

When we got to the parking lot I was herded into the car with Rossi and Prentiss, Derek going into the other car with Hotch. As we pulled out 3 police cruisers went past us. I heard Hotch’s voice on the walkie talkies as he told the policemen to cut all sirens two blocks from the location to keep the element of surprise. My spirits lifted a little at this fact: he didn’t know we were coming.

That meant there could be no secret plot or anything like that. We could catch him. He could be tried and put in jail for the rest of his life. It could be over today. This wasn’t like that last time when he’d initiated our response, we were finally, finally, one step ahead. Emily was reading out the directions that Penelope had sent to her phone, this set of lefts and rights and x miles ahead that brought us closer to the end—whichever end it might be.

It was much farther out than I’d anticipated—the street name Lundley sounded much more suburban than rural. For some reason I was expecting him to have been blending right in, just as he always had before. I was looking for the white picket fence, the manicured lawn, the single-car garage and the trimmed hedges. There was supposed to be a mailbox out front with the name MILLER on the side and a doghouse out back and curtains ugly enough to have been gifted by a mother-in-law. He had been invisible all of these years, so why would he stop now?

But the longer we drove, the further we were removed from civilization. The white picket fences gave way to dilapidated buildings, to industrial sites and eventually corn fields. The garages dwindled into warehouses and barns. The mailboxes were replaced with neon signs and scarecrows. Emily kept on directing and so Rossi kept on driving, all the while my stomach working into tighter and more intricate knots.

When we finally reached the street, it was in the middle of nowhere. The pale yellow of the dried out corn stalks was in stark contrast with the green of the distant treeline was in stark contrast with the clear blue sky. There was nothing. Absolutely nothing except the drooping power lines scattered evenly down the road, eventually disappearing into the vanishing point. Emily and I exchanged a look and waited for some signal on what to do.

The only indication that we were in the right spot was a single post with the street number on it, sticking out of the ground on an angle. The wood was rotting around the reflective stickers that might as well have been mocking me. Yes, we were here. No, this was not what we were expecting. This wasn’t the end—just another damn chapter.

Hotch got out of the car and so did some of the police officers. When Rossi stepped out I took it as my cue. I wandered close to the edge of the road, looking out over the cornfield and trying to understand where we went wrong. How had he managed to get the upper hand like this? There was no way he could have known we were coming.

It was early—no later than 8 or 9—and the sun was blinding if you were facing the wrong way. But one of the cops called our attention to something I never would have noticed because I was so preoccupied with the empty lot in front of me. The field across the road wasn’t corn, rather something small and green. In the middle of the field, though, was a sight that made me cringe. A fire had been lit in a familiar shape—the sign of Ares. It burned strongly, its obtuse shape more out of place than a crop circle. The smoke billowed into the air in waves, curling in upon itself before dissipating entirely.

“He planned for Luke to get caught.” I said aloud as the thought came to me.

“But why?” Rossi asked.

“I think he was counting on Luke to give us this address. I think he wanted to know how long it would take for us to get here. He wanted to get our response time.”

“Sweep the area.” Hotch ordered. “We’ll talk to the neighbours, see if they saw anything. Prentiss, take Natasha back and call me if Reid gets anything out of Evans.”

I didn’t even have the desire to stay here. There was no passion in me to look for clues or try and think my way to an acceptable solution. It was plain and simple: we’d been tricked. Again. Miller was probably watching us from some hidden location—maybe he’d even set up a camera on one of the telephone poles. I shook my head as I followed Emily to the car, disappointed in myself for actually believing this would get us somewhere.

The thoughts from earlier were coming back to me. It was simple enough to see that we only got a step closer when Ares permitted it. It felt like he’d laid out a track and set us on it; this intricate and carefully constructed railway that had only one stop: my death. He was making preparations, jotting down his plans and now he had everything he needed. Eventually, one way or another, he would get me and it would not end well.

He had a fantasy to complete. He had a compulsion to carry out, and I was the only missing piece. Somewhere in this city he had a house ready with a basement just like the house in the woods and a slab on which he would torture me and a knife with which he would end my life. My fingers traced the burn mark on my neck as I tried to stop myself from crying. It was a strange feeling, knowing I was going to die. Knowing full well that the night-time terror that haunted my sleep, the monster in the closet, the big bad Wolf—he wouldn’t be erased by a parent’s kiss or a night light. He would steal me and he would slowly end my life.

“We’ll get him.” Emily said quietly, taking a hold of my hand as if she knew what I was thinking. I didn’t have the heart to give her any response. I just wanted to be back where I could see Spencer and know he was safe. I didn’t know how to tell him about what happened, what was going to happen. I tried to think if there was anything that I needed to do in terms of paperwork—but I updated my will every few years in anticipation of what I was now certain of: my imminent death.

No matter how many times I told myself that hey, everyone dies—it just didn’t seem to help. Yes, everyone dies. Yes, sometimes people die tragically. People are shot or choked or burned or drowned or bludgeoned to death—I saw it on a daily basis—but it was different when you knew that it would be at the hands of the thing that scared you most. It wasn’t a slow cancer that gave me six months to say my goodbyes, it was a flash flood that would take everything from me in a heartbeat; one long, stretched out and trembling heartbeat that would last a lifetime.

A heartbeat with a longer life than me.