Status: complete

All the Madness in the World


"It was once said that love is giving someone the ability to destroy you, but trusting them not to." - Unknown


The book in my hands caught on the opening of my go bag as I tried to shove it in. Everyone else started to file by as I rubbed the sleep from my leaden eyes and pulled the zipper up on the black bag. Stretching, I got to my feet and ran my hand through my hair, following everyone across the tarmac and into our building. My go bag clunked on my desk as I zipped up my jacket. JJ and Emily said goodbye to me on their way out and I busied myself gathering what I would need so I could call it a night.

“Natasha, could I see you in my office for a moment?” Hotch called from his office door. I trudged up the stairs and into his room, nodding to him as he shuffled with things on his desk.

“What’s up?” I asked, suppressing a yawn. He hesitated for a moment, looking almost nervous, before he spoke.

“Do you…want to go to dinner sometime?” He asked, looking up at me. It knocked the sleep right out of me, my eyebrows rising at the proposal as I laughed. I shot a tentative look at the open door and pushed it closed.

“I didn’t know we had the luxury of going on dates.”

“Well we have sort of done this thing a bit backwards.” He smiled. He was right, though. You usually start with the dates and end with sex, not the other way around.

“I’d love to, though.” I said honestly, my stomach knotting slightly. “There’s this place I’ve been dying to try just around the corner from my place, it’s called Rosewater.”

“Does Saturday at 7 work?”

“It sure does.” I tried to contain the stupid smile on my face. All the blinds were, regrettably, open; which meant anyone could look up at any time. “Maybe you should walk me to the door.”

He looked confused for a moment but indulged me nonetheless, following me to the only blind spot in the entire office. From here, no one could see us. I turned when I reached the door, grabbing hold of his tie and pulling his lips to mine.

“Goodnight, Bossman.” I released him and we wiped our faces of emotion, returning to the acceptable distance of coworkers as he opened the door and let me out. We chattered on for a moment about some case in the event anyone had been listening in.

When I got to the elevators I immediately called Penelope, working quickly to organize a girls’ night with her, Emily, and JJ for Friday night. Of course she was all for it, but I decided to leave out the part about why I actually wanted them all together.

We made it through the rest of the work week and rejoiced at the fact that for the first time in what felt like ages we actually had a Friday that ended when it was supposed to. We had our weekend. The girls all followed after me in their cars when we left work, all of them claiming a spot in the visitors parking and meeting me at the entrance to the building.

I had been sure to stock up on the wine specifically for tonight, and when we got into my apartment we wasted no time in starting on the first bottle. It was nice spending time with them all outside of the office, something we so rarely got to do. The TV had been put on for some background noise but there wasn’t a moment the whole night when it wasn’t drowned out by our voices. All of the laughter left me with a pain in my side, but a good kind of pain. As the last drops of the third bottle were drained, I decided to come clean.

“Alright, girls. I had an ulterior motive when I invited you over tonight…” I sat on the table in front of them and watched as their expressions changed. “The thing is…I’m going on a date tomorrow.”

“What!?” Penelope yelled. “Oh my God. You have to tell us everything. Who is he? What’s he like? Where’d you meet him? Is he handsome?”

“Slow down, Pen.” I said as the others laughed. I needed to be careful what I said so that I wouldn’t give the actual truth away. “I don’t want to tell you too much about him because it’s just a first date, you know?”

“You are so cruel.” Penelope huffed. Technically, it was just the first date. I hadn’t lied about that.

“So where is he taking you?” Emily asked. I gave her a look.

“Why, so you can set up surveillance? We’re just going out to dinner, nothing big.”

“Dinner? Where you will be the dessert?” JJ asked, raising her eyebrows. I gaped at her, hitting her with a pillow and nearly missing her glass. “I’m kidding! I’m kidding.”

“The problem is I have no idea what to wear or how to act considering the last date I was on was in university, so I need your help.”

The three of them offered completely different sets of advice regarding how to act, what to say, and what to do; but a general consensus was made. They helped me pick out a dress—one that wasn’t too fancy, but not too simple either. It was ivory, ended just above my knee and had a thickly beaded neckline and sleeves. They coordinated my earrings and bracelet and helped me decide how to do my hair (we settled on straightening it).

I promised them that, as they demanded, I would tell them all about it on Monday. Penelope tried a few more times over the course of the evening to get me to divulge something more about my so-called mystery man, but I wouldn’t budge. Part of me wondered if maybe it wasn’t such a good idea letting them know I was dating, because if they saw absolutely anything between Hotch and I they would likely draw the conclusion themselves; but if I couldn’t come right out and tell them I could at least use the other perks of our friendship—gossiping about it without details.

When Saturday night rolled around I was ridiculously nervous given the context of the situation I was putting myself into. This wasn’t some stranger or a blind date, this was Hotch. After all the things that had happened since I met him, he was someone I should have been the most comfortable with. But even as I fixed up my hair, even as I touched up my lipstick and sprayed on my perfume, I still had this overwhelming fear that I would somehow mess this up.

My gun, wallet, badge, and cellphone fit perfectly into my clutch which I shoved into my coat pocket along with my keys. It was only a ten minute walk away from my house, but I still picked the most comfortable set of heels I had so that the journey would be as painless as possible. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect—not too hot with a good breeze, one that pushed all of the sounds and smells of the blocks into you. The doors to the restaurant were set in a stone doorway that looked like it’d been taken right out of a relic. Inside, all the noise from the city outside was muted and I was submerged in a calmness. A pianist sat on a platform at the back of the dining hall, keying out a gentle tune. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling in intervals, their glow matching the muteness of the candle-topped tables. There was a water-wall near the entrance to the kitchens and a fireplace on the opposite side of the room. There was no part of me that would have come here on my own: but it would be a nice treat.

“Do you have a reservation, ma’am?” The waiter asked from the podium. It was 7:00 on the dot and I wondered if perhaps I was early.

“It should be under Hotchner?” He skimmed through the book marked with names and check marks and highlighted parts until his finger found the right name. With a smile he led me into the jungle of tables. When we drew closer to the fireplace I caught sight of him: a dark blue dress shirt matched with black slacks. He got to his feet, smoothing the front of his shirt as he so often did with his suit jackets. He completely disregarded the waiter, embracing me before pulling out my chair for me to sit in. The waiter handed us our menus along with the wine selection.

“You look beautiful.” He said, a blush rushing to my cheeks.

“Well you’re quite dashing yourself.” I tucked in my chair, glancing around the place and musing at the beauty. The ceiling was painted like a church’s, excruciatingly detailed. We decided on a wine from the list and started mulling over the food choices. “So how’s Jack?”

“Wondering when he gets to see you again.” He teased. “He asks about you all the time.”

“I still feel like crap for missing out on his game a few weeks ago.”

“Well he’s playing again next week if you’d like to come.”

“Definitely.” I smiled, lowering my eyes to the menu in an attempt to look less giddy. I wanted to kick myself for feeling so nervous and stupid. It was just dinner, and for God’s sake he’d already seen me naked. When the waiter came around to our table we placed our orders as the wine arrived. “So there are things we must discuss.”

“Like what?” He mused, taking a sip from his glass.

“We know all about work and family and that kind of thing, but it’s like we skipped over the basics. Again, we’re slightly backwards.” I couldn’t help but laugh at how true that notion was panning out to be. “So tell me your favourites. What’s your number one band or album or song?”

“Hands down, The Beatles. The White Album.”

“You’re going Charles Manson on me now, huh?” I teased as he shook his head.

“Just because he hijacked the record doesn’t mean it has to be ruined for the rest of us.” He reasoned. “What about you?”

“I’m a Sinatra girl at heart. I could listen to that man sing the phone book.” I tucked a stray hair behind my ear. “More importantly, though: the movie you could watch a hundred times over and never get sick of it—go.”

“Probably…Raiders of the Lost Ark. But Pulp Fiction is a close second.”

“Really? I never would have pegged you for a Tarantino kind of guy.” The pianist finished his song and the soundtrack fell to the hum of a hundred conversations while he prepared for the next piece. “My favourite would have to be The Empire Strikes Back.”

He withheld a laugh and raised his eyebrows at me. “Star Wars?”

“I grew up with Spencer Reid, of course I’m into sci-fi. Mind you my close second would be Casablanca, which is pretty much on the opposite end of the spectrum.”

“Well I’ll give you Casablanca, but I never really got into Star Wars.” He said, laughing as I gaped at him. “It just wasn’t something I gave a lot of time to.”

“Oh honey, you should not have told me that. You do realize that now I have to steal you for a whole weekend and subject you to a Star Wars marathon, right?”

“If you say it’s that good then I’ll come voluntarily.”

“I don’t think a kidnapping charge would look too good when you work for the FBI.”

The food came and we were quiet for a moment as we did the initial tasting. Soon after, though, we lapsed back into comfortable conversation about anything that came up—books and other movies and things you talked about on a typical first date. I hadn’t had such a nice time out since before the whole Ares thing, when the team went out to Malone’s. When we finished our food and the plates were taken away and our glasses were refilled I risked bringing something up that wasn’t strictly first-date approved.

“Can I ask you something?” My voice dropped, as if somehow what we were talking about was taboo. He nodded and I took a breath. “When did you know? I mean, how you felt?”

He thought about it for a moment before answering. “I think I knew the night you were almost taken.”

It was odd to have even a sliver of something that happened that night remain a happy memory; at least now, it could be. “I don’t think I was sure of anything until we got back from the prison in Connecticut and I was talking to Jack…He’s quite the kid.”

From across the table he reached over and took my hand. We talked more until the bill came—which I tried to pay half of but he insisted on covering—and then he offered to drive me home. Under normal circumstances I would have insisted that I’d be fine walking home, but I wasn’t exactly in a rush to leave his presence.

When we got to his car he opened the door for me, the gentleman act something I knew I would never grow tired of. Even in the car we didn’t run out of things to talk about, laughter bouncing off of the windows and echoing into the backseats. If I was certain of anything, it was that I didn’t want this night to end. I loathed how short the road seemed, I detested the parking lot for having so many spots, and I hated the car for not having any problems. A sigh escaped me as we exited the car, walking up the stairs and to the elevator. We held hands as each floor number lit up, finally bringing us to the fifth level. At my door we stopped, my heart aching for a reason to keep him here.

“Before you go,” He began, pulling a long and narrow black box from his pocket and holding it out for me to take. “I hope you like it.”

“Oh, what have you done?” I weakly complained, hesitating a moment before reaching out to take it.

“Why do you have such an aversion to gifts?” He laughed as I shook my head at him.

“When people spend money on me it just makes me feel guilty.” I mumbled half-heartedly before prying open the box and staring in awe. It was a silver necklace with a purple teardrop gem surrounded by silver. “Jesus, did you profile my favourite colour too? It’s…It’s beautiful.”

“Here.” He worked at getting it out of the box as I bit back my ridiculous grin and lifted my hair out of the way. I turned my back to him and he fit it around my neck. Releasing my hair, I looked down at the pendant and just smiled.

For the first time, he leaned forward and kissed me. I barely hesitated before locking my hands at the back of his head as his found their place on my waist. I groaned when we pulled away, resting my forehead against his.

“Next time can we just fast forward to the fourth or fifth date so I can invite you in?” I whined, kissing him briefly again before finally releasing him. “But thank you, tonight was lovely.”

We said goodnight and I begrudgingly left him on the other side of my door, kicking off my heels and waiting until I heard the sound of the elevator doors closing before retreating further into my apartment. I peeled off my dress and collapsed onto my bed, trying to calm the excitement in my stomach.


“Where’s Morgan and Rossi?” Spencer asked as the rest of us sat in the conference room, ready to start the case.

“Stuck in traffic,” JJ explained. “They should be here soon though.”

“Perfect, this gives us time for an early interrogation!” Penelope mused, wheeling her chair over to me as I understood what she meant. “So spill, sweetheart! How was the big date?”

“It was perfect.” It was amusing talking about this when Hotch was two seats away and everyone else oblivious to the fact that I was referring to him. “Everything a first date is supposed to be.”

“Are you seeing him again?” Emily asked, nudging at me with her foot.

“I think I’ll be seeing him a lot.”

“Tell us what he’s like! Is he tall? Is he strong? Does he dress well? Oh! Is he one of those guys that looks just as good dressed as he does not?”

“It was one date, they haven’t gone there yet Garcia.” JJ laughed, reeling Penelope out of her ramble.

“He is very attractive, I can promise you that. I don’t want to tell you too much because I don’t want to be honeymooning it.”

“Honeymooning?” Emily asked.

“It’s the stage in a relationship where everything is perfect and you just kiss and laugh and screw each other’s brains out.” Penelope explained as Derek and David walked into the room. We settled down after that, acting like nothing had happened, and waited for JJ to start the briefing.
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