Status: complete

All the Madness in the World


“Camouflage is a game we all like to play, but our secrets are as surely revealed by what we want to seem to be as by what we want to conceal.” – Russell Lynes


It was hard, sometimes, trying to find the balance in between acting normal but not too friendly when there were others around. He broke the habit of driving me home, but we were very good at keeping secret the fact we spent a lot of nights together. It made me grumpy, sometimes, that I couldn’t just kiss him whenever I felt like it.

But the fact of the matter was, we weren’t supposed to be both co-workers and romantically involved. It didn’t interfere with our ability to do our jobs, but I understood why the rule was there. I just really didn’t give a damn about breaking it. The problem was Derek already knew, and although I trusted him to keep his mouth shut I didn’t like lying to the rest of the team.

We had to do silly things to make up for our guilty consciences like never be alone in a room with the door closed (or open, even) for any prolonged period of time. We may have been overcompensating a bit by steering clear of any nicknames. We never, under any circumstances, made physical contact in front of others. Which, in all honesty, was annoying. I knew full well there were things we could do when no one was looking. Simple things, like holding hands.

But if we wanted things to work out there were sacrifices to be made. We more than made up for it outside of the workplace. Things had sort of happened with perfect timing. It was best for me to have someone there when I woke up some nights, still half-convinced that my nightmare world with Ares was real. I didn’t know why he dealt with all of my baggage, all of my antics, but I sure was glad he did.

The bottom line was that I just really liked having him around. I just really liked him. Everything about him. And it certainly made things easier given that Jack took to me like a moth to a flame. Sometimes it scared me, how completely normal it felt spending weekends with the two of them, doing normal things like picnics or going to the movies or watching Jack’s soccer games.

Some part of me, deep down, knew that it wouldn’t last. Not necessarily the relationship itself, but our ability to keep the lid on it. It happened on the day of our 3 month anniversary—nothing that warranted any fancy celebration, but just something to be acknowledged. It was my fault, of course. He was so much better at restraining himself than I was. The few times we had almost gotten caught it was because of me; so it only made sense that the time we actually did was courtesy of Natasha Reid.

We were in the conference room, our debriefing had just wrapped up and everyone had left to get their go bags. The blinds were shut from the last group to use the room, and I planned on taking full advantage of that. I wrapped my arms around his middle, smirking at the nervous look he shot at the door as I asked what we were doing when we got back from Delaware. I leaned up and kissed him, holding him even as he tried to pull away. I should have let him end it.

“I just left my—Oh, uh—Sorry!” We flew apart, my eyes growing wide as I took in the site of Emily and JJ standing at the door, just as shocked as we were.

Oh my God.” I whispered, clasping a hand over my mouth and turning away from them completely as they apologized again and quickly left. I didn’t want to turn around and see the look on his face. It would be such a blatant ‘I told you so’—one he would never say aloud. My apology was muffled by my hand, but he knew what I said.

“It’s okay, we’ll…Should we tell everyone?” It was the first time I’d ever heard any amount of uncertainty in his voice, and it made me even more nervous and embarrassed.

“Well, considering the fact that half of them know now…I—I don’t know. It’s your call. I’m sorry.”

“We would have had to tell them eventually.” He reasoned, his eyes glued to the open doorway. I wanted to shrink into the background, I wanted to take it all back; the guilt was crushing me—and the fact that he wasn’t the least bit angry with me made me feel even worse. He looked at his watch and I knew we had a plane to catch in an hour; more than enough time to come clean.

“I’ll go get them.” I said, apologizing again and slipping out of the room. Emily and JJ looked up at me from Derek’s desk and quickly tried to look away. I waved them over and told them to get everyone back in the conference room, including Garcia. I went back inside, my heart pounding and my stomach swirling with an insane amount of nervousness.

I knew what they would all think; they would go into profiler mode without even meaning to. The fact that Hotch was older had to mean I had daddy issues, his status meant I fit the stereotypical female desire for an alpha-male partner, but most importantly our feelings had developed out of a victim-saviour relationship. These are things they would think about automatically. They would size up every move. Nothing would ever be the same. Everything would always be taken in the context that we were seeing each other.

The majority of me wanted to just abandon ship, to go away and hide from this conversation. I figured, at least, I was really only telling Penelope and Rossi and Spencer—oh God, Spencer. What was he going to think? I gave one last look of desperation at Hotch before the others came in, the majority of them sporting puzzled looks.

“Did something new come in on the case?” Derek asked as Hotch asked everyone to sit down. They waited quietly, JJ and Emily trying to hide their smiles as our boss tried to find the right way to admit he was breaking the rules with a member of the team. Before the silence killed us all I just came right out and said it.

“Look, as some of you have just witnessed we’re kind of…romantically involved.”

“We? We? Who is we?” Penelope asked, leaning forward in her chair with anticipation. I motioned to Hotch, shaking my head and heaving out a sigh as her jaw dropped.

“It hasn’t interfered with our job and it won’t in the future so we’d appreciate it if this was kept between us.” He said, everyone nodding in agreement.

“Hey, life’s too short to be unhappy.” Rossi said with a crooked smile, looking at the two of us. Hotch dismissed us and I was first out of the room.

“Natasha!” Emily nudged me as I left the room. I was being followed by her, JJ, and Penelope, all of them wearing incredulous looks on their face. I raised my eyebrows at her. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“How exactly does something like that come up in conversation?” I pointed out, crossing my arms. “Hey, there’s a new movie playing this weekend that looks good—oh by the way, I’m screwing our boss.”

“Just when I thought nothing scandalous would ever happen in this office.” JJ teased as I gave her a look.

“You could have told us, we are very good secret keepers!” Penelope promised.

“Well you’re going to have to be now.” I said seriously. “No one else can find out. None of you are supposed to know, really.”

“Our lips are sealed, my queen.” Penelope said as they steered me to Emily’s desk. Penelope slapped her forehead, eyes filling with an epiphany as her jaw dropped once more. “The date you went on! That was with H—with him!” She caught her slip up just in time and the three of us gave her a look.

“Yes, Penelope.” I laughed. “God, please tell me this isn’t going to turn into 21 questions. We really shouldn’t be talking about this stuff at work. We have a jet to catch.”

“You do realize that when we get back we’re going out for drinks and grilling you.” JJ teased.

“I second that notion.” Emily smirked.

“As if I even have to say anything.” Penelope added before bidding us farewell. “Oh, wait—not telling anyone doesn’t include Kevin, right?”

“Just for you, Pen.” I shook my head, but caught sight of Spencer. I told the girls I’d talk to them later and headed off towards him. We walked in silence for a moment before I finally worked up the courage to talk. “Are you okay with this?”

“Despite your best efforts at hiding things, I’ve known about this for a while now.” He smiled smugly, hands in his pockets as he rocked on his feet. I panicked, running through all the close-calls we had and trying to figure out which one had given us away. “It wasn’t anything you did. I just know you better; I know how you act when you’re in love. You would have told me if it was Morgan, it wasn’t Rossi, and you never go out so there was really only one possibility. But yes, for the record, I am okay with it. I think he’s good for you.”

I didn’t even bother trying to contain the smile that spread across my face as I pulled him into a hug. “Thanks, Spence.”

“Although,” He began as he pulled away. “I won’t exactly be able to give the stereotypical talk about treating you right ‘or else’ because…well, I work for him.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Reid.” Hotch said from behind him, go bag in hand. “We should get going.”

We met everyone else on the jet and I was careful not to sit close to Hotch. We were officially on the job, and it would be bad enough with everyone knowing about us without them watching to see if they caught any interaction between us. The thing was Hotch was just so good at separating work from his personal life. The moment we got onto the jet, the moment we started working a case it was like there was nothing between us.

Which, of course, was better for everyone. It was the right thing to do. There was no special treatment and no bending of rules for my sake about anything—not that I ever tried. It took a few minutes for the looks to stop being cast on the plane but I immersed myself in the case file as directions were rattled off and questions were brought up.

As promised, the girls forced me out for drinks three days later when we wrapped up the case and came home. They weren’t overly invasive about what they wanted to know, but I just felt so weird being able to finally talk about it openly. No codenames, no secrets; lying just takes so much out of you. I had cleared things with Hotch while we were still in Delaware to make sure he was alright with the girls asking some questions. I think he was just relieved Derek and Rossi wouldn’t subject him to the same kind of treatment.

It was funny to think that now it would be me who the girls spent their time gossiping about in the dead time between cases until something new popped up. All I knew was that things were much easier now that I didn’t have to sneak around as much when we were around the team. And it certainly helped now that I could discuss things with Emily, JJ, and Penelope.

Finally, the chance to confide.
♠ ♠ ♠
This chapter is kind of short and kind of sucks, so I'm sorry for that :(