Status: complete

All the Madness in the World

Creature Fear

"For the man sound in body and serene in mind there is no such thing as bad weather, every day has its beauty and storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously." – George Gissing


“So it’s at that point that the audience understands that the Ood hadn’t been referring to the Doctor and Donna as companions but rather as the version that Donna would become. It was received as one of the most cruel ways for a companion to part way with the Doctor because not only did she lose the ability to time travel and the friend she’d made, but she lost all memory of it entirely.” Spencer nodded on for a few seconds before finally taking a sip of his coffee.

“I know that they can communicate telepathically , but the Ood are a slave race—I never understood how they could see into the future.”

He opened his mouth to explain, but our phones went off at the same time and I knew it had to be from work. I checked the text that would be identical to Spencer’s—it was from Penelope; two short sentences putting an end to our discussion of Doctor Who and forcing us out of the coffee shop.

“Two missing kids found dead.” Spencer mumbled to himself as we got into my car. We were across town from HQ so we were the last to arrive in the conference room. When we did, Penelope wasted no time in pulling up pictures of the two boys, one missing his right leg and the other both arms.

“Bodies of two unidentified boys were found near Wichita, Kansas a week apart. Both were Caucasian and between the ages of 15 and 17.” She said as Reid and I looked through the files—everyone else scrolling on their tablets.

“They were each found mangled in the aftermath of a Tornado?” Prentiss questioned.

“Yeah, but that’s not what did them in. The ME has determined they died from blunt force trauma to the head, almost identical blows.”

“What about all the other damage to their bodies?” I asked. “Some of their limbs are missing.”

“The ME still hasn’t determined if that was because of the tornado or the unsub.” Penelope explained. A few ideas were bounced about the point of the tornadoes, but it came down to the fact that regardless of the role the weather played the time between kills was only a week which meant the unsub was working quickly—and we had to be quicker. Hotch told us to be on the jet in 30 minutes. “Oh, and pack for foul weather; the forecast is nasty.”

When we got onto the plane I took my seat across from Spencer and JJ, Rossi sliding in beside me. It took me until we were in the air to remember what I’d packed along to keep us occupied for the ride to Kansas. I shuffled around in my go bag until I found what I was looking for and placed them on the table before me: two Rubik’s cubes and a set of chess timers.

“Master Cube!” Spencer exclaimed, grabbing one of the cubes for himself as I slid the timers between us. Rossi gave us a look and I tried to explain.

“It’s this game we used to play when we were little. It’s sort of just a race to see who can finish it first—and whoever solves it 3 times got to be the ‘master’ for the day.”

“The problem is we both got so good at it that we always ended up tying.” Spencer added, handing his cube to JJ as I gave mine to Rossi. “Just shuffle them for us, please.”

They mixed up the cubes so that no two colours were beside each other before giving them back to us. With one hand over our respective timers, we began on JJ’s mark. It was hard to explain how I knew which block to turn and how many times to do so, all I knew was that the jet had fallen quiet save for the gentle click-click of the cubes being solved. Our fingers moved fast across the plastic surfaces, and at sixteen seconds we both hit the timer, slid our cube to the other and began to shuffle for each other. At the start of our second round everyone had crowded around to watch in amusement as the Reids performed their strange little game. When at last we reached the end of the third round, the clocks stopping in unison at a total of 56 seconds, we rushed to say the name of the game first.

“Master Cube!” We looked to the others for some kind of vote as to who had won, but Emily made the case that we were even.

“And probably will always be even.” Rossi added, taking up my cube and staring at it.

There was some turbulence as we got closer to Kansas—something that caused Rossi to grip at the arms of his chair. Everything shook and rattled, but turbulence didn’t bother me. Especially after Spence gave a little speech about the lack of correlation between turbulence and system failure on aircrafts. It didn’t, however, seem to help Rossi.

Penelope came on the screen at one point to give us more about the victims—their names, a bit of a bio, but one key fact; they were both transient kids that had been charged with prostitution and possession. One of them had run away from home and the other was in foster care. Hotchner pointed out that we could be dealing with a sexual predator, an sadistic and very violent one.

“Or he could be keeping the body parts for some fantasy.” I offered, successfully creeping out Garcia to the point where she sighed off.

When we got to the station we were split up into groups—Morgan and Prentiss went to check out the latest crime scene, Spencer and Rossi went to the morgue to inspect the bodies, while JJ and I volunteered to interview the friends and family of the victims. JJ went in with the first victim’s mother and I was directed to a second room where a boy of about fifteen was waiting. The second victim’s best friend in the foster home.

“Hey there, my name’s Natasha.” I offered him a smile and took the seat across from him, crossing one leg over the other as I looked at the notes I’d been given about him. “It looks like you and Eric were pretty good friends, huh?”

“Those other kids ain’t too cool at that house.” He shrugged, looking up at me only for a moment.

“Your foster mom said that you used to get into a lot of fights before Eric got there.” I did my best not to talk to him in a patronizing voice at all, because it wasn’t how any kid wanted to be spoken to.

“That’s my boy. Nobody messes with me cause nobody messes with him.”

“So he looks out for you?”

“Yeah, we look out for each other.” He nodded, and I asked how long ago he’d last seen him. “About 3 weeks ago…Said he was running to the store and never came back. He in some kind of trouble or something?”

My heart sank a little at the realization that he hadn’t been told. Of course the foster mom had been informed, but I just assumed that she would have told the children in the house. I’d given the news to family members and friends before when I was on the force, but no matter how many times you do it, it doesn’t get any easier. I took a deep breath and tried to be as empathetic as possible.

“We found his body a few days ago.” He sort of just stared at me for a while with his mouth slightly agape, and I apologized sincerely before he stuttered out that he wanted to get back home. I nodded, showing him out before crossing over to Hotchner and JJ. “He took the news about Eric pretty well.”

“Tough kid.” JJ said, handing me a coffee. “I guess they have to be, they’re all alone.”

“Alright, so each of the victims had a strong protective instinct and was looking out for someone other than themselves.” Hotchner said after JJ and I gave a short recap of what we’d learned from our interviews.

“Maybe the unsub’s keying in on that?”

“But kids like that would be hard to fool.” I shook my head and took a sip of the substandard coffee. “What if he used to be one of them? I mean, kids like that would see right through someone trying to be a poser.”

“If his MO is connected to the weather he’s going to try and grab another kid soon.” Hotchner said seriously as my phone started to buzz. “There’s a major system expected tonight.”

“Hey Spence, what’s up?”

He gave me the run-down of what he’d found at the morgue, all of which I passed on to the others. Both boys had been restrained beforehand, then drugged with cough medicine—a cheap high—and killed, their limbs chopped off with an axe or some equivalent post-mortem. Everyone returned to the station, Morgan and Prentiss relaying that the unsub probably had some mode of transportation that he drove into the path of the tornadoes—he might even be a storm chaser. With no other leads and a nasty storm coming in we had to call it a night and try again in the morning. The problem was we didn’t come back with fresh eyes and the same board; we came back to the report of another body.

The lead detective told us about the latest victim—another runaway—whose scattered remains we stood in front of. It was a miracle he was identified—it was only courtesy of some tattoos on his arms—because his entire torso was missing. We were looking at a pile of arms, legs, and a head. The detective told us that there hadn’t been any actual touch down of a twister the night before which meant that, as Rossi pointed out, if we followed the storms they would lead us to our killer.

“If we were to put all the pieces that’ve been taken together it would almost make an entire body.” Spencer said and I nodded.

“He’s not taking bodies apart, he’s putting one together. The question is who?”

When we got back to the station the police force was brought together in order to hear the profile. They stood by with their pens and paper, jotting down what they deemed important information and any notes to themselves they wanted to remember. They knew what to look out for –man in his twenties, drives a van or something like it, finds excitement in the storm but most importantly goes after troubled young boys. The police dispersed and I wandered over to Spence’s side and stared with him at the evidence board.

“Doesn’t this feel a lot like he’s carrying out some fantasy or delusion?” I asked. “He’s not driven by the kill, he’s driven by fascination with the body parts.”

“It’s the perfect blueprint for a psychopath…” He trailed off and I went up to the board, drawing out a stick-figure person and leaving off the only parts yet to be taken—the head and the right leg. Spencer looked at me and we had an understanding. “Hotch, I think we know how this unsub may have gotten started.”

“The first victim was found missing his right leg, the second both arms, and the third his torso.” I began as the rest of the team gathered. “That leaves the right leg and the head, which we can assume would be the hardest part to find.”

“It would have to fit the unsub’s fantasy perfectly.” Rossi said as Spencer nodded.

“So we can assume that it would be left for last. What that tells us is there’s a victim out there that we haven’t found who’s missing a right leg.”

“Alright, lemme call Garcia.” Morgan said, picking up the phone on the table and dialing.

“PG at your service, don’t let the name fool you!” She answered, bringing a smile to my face despite the situation.

“Baby girl, you’re on speaker.” Derek said before I started.

“Hey Pen, can you look up grave robberies in the area in the last five years?”

“That is a shockingly long list, who knew grave robbing was so on-trend?”

“What about just morgues and funeral homes?” Emily asked.

“Again, that is a shockingly long list!”

“Try looking for thefts involving specifically left legs.” Spencer said. This was the golden ticket, and despite Garcia’s disgust at the request she managed to find a match, a 47 year old man who died of leukemia. His left leg was stolen during similar weather, which meant that we weren’t dealing with a preferential offender and the crimes had no sexual motive at all. Everything, to this unsub, was just a precursor to finding the perfect head. He needed the full body and then he would be able to reconstruct whoever it was he missed so much.

Emily and Rossi bundled up and headed out to interview some storm chasers at a local university while the rest of us stayed at the station. A family had just come in with a little boy claiming that his older brother had been taken by some guy in an RV with a crowbar—just the kind of weapon that would have made the wounds in the victim’s heads. The newest victim was different than the others in that he was a straight A student and volunteered at a local church. It was worrisome that the unsub had wanted the boy so badly that he’d left a witness—but a storm was raging on outside that fit his preferred weather, a storm that sparked fear in the deepest parts of me.

“The rashness of his actions means that he’s starting to lose grip on reality and his delusions are starting to take over.” Spencer said as we watched Hotchner take the family into a room for questioning.

“What if he’s trying to recreate someone he loves?” I offered. “It’s an emotion that drives us to extremes.”

“It’s probably someone he loved and lost.” Spencer added.

“Wait, you said he was with his big brother, right?” JJ asked of the little boy who’d come in. We nodded and she asked Derek to call Garcia while she got Hotch. All of us met by the evidence boards as Derek dialed.

“Hollah at your girl.”

“Baby girl, I need those great big beautiful brains of yours.” Derek said. “Look at all the teenage male victims of tornadoes in the last ten years, same geography as before with younger brothers that survived.”

“That would be ten.”

“Garcia, how many of the survivors have criminal records?” Hotchner asked.

“Here’s one, 22 year old Travis James—little trouble maker—charged with shoplifting, possession and prostitution all when he was a minor.”

“Any registered vehicles or address?” Hotchner pushed for as thunder rumbled on, causing me to get noticeably antsier. Spencer kept giving me looks but I pretended not to notice. Garcia said there was nothing in his name but sent over a photograph that Derek compared to the police sketch he’d been given from the little boy’s description. It was a perfect match.

Penelope told us James’ story, how when he was just a little boy he lost his older brother and his mother when a tornado ran through their trailer park just south of us. Before Garcia could say anything else there was a deafening rumble of thunder that shook the entire station and killed the power. I jumped, instinctively reaching out and grabbing hold of Derek. He laughed at first, teasing me about it before realizing that it wasn’t just me being silly, it was a serious fear.

“You okay, Tash?” The backup generators kicked in and he could no doubt see the panic on my face. I struggled to regain my composure, nodding and finally releasing him.

“Yeah, I’m just…not good with the dark. Or storms.” I shrugged it off. “Call it a creature fear.”

Penelope continued with the story, how our unsub testified against a sex offender in the area and how when his brother confronted the man on the day of his release a tornado had hit, scattering pieces of his brother’s body across the park. We knew that with the storm activity in the area it wouldn’t be long before he killed the boy in his custody in order to finish the fantasy. I piled into a car with Spencer, Derek, and JJ while Hotchner went to pick up Rossi and Prentiss from the university.

We drove around in this weather that should have been sending us for cover, following the radar patterns that Garcia was patching through to the team’s tablets. Spencer was dictating the type of the we were supposed to be looking for, which became Garcia’s job when the storm cut the internet even from the tablets. She struggled with this duty, asserting that there wasn’t anything with a hook-shaped pattern, until the screen changed and she began to direct us. The problem was that there were two tornadoes forming, which meant we’d have to split up. Derek followed his directions and stepped on the gas as we all kept our eyes peeled for an RV.

As we drove up towards a farm Spence pointed out what looked like a sort of mobile home. There were three figures out in front of it, but the closer we got I saw it wasn’t three figures—it was two people and a headless corpse. The man who could only be Trevor James held an axe in his raised hand but began to falter as he noticed the police and us as we stepped out of the vehicle, guns raised. Morgan told him to put the axe down, but he just kept arguing, pressing the axe the kidnapped boy’s neck as we inched closer. We tried to reason with him as the wind grew fiercer, tried to remind him that his brother wouldn’t want this and that the boy he had needed to get home to his own little brother, but nothing worked. Without reason, though, he trhrew down the boy and rushed to pick up the sewn together corpse at his side, running away from us as JJ caught the boy. The policemen were yelling for us to follow them to the shelter the farm had, but Derek was trying to go after James. I ran up and pulled him away myself until he willingly followed the police offers.

Before we got into the shelter I watched as the tornado, this horrifyingly large force of nature, came barrelling towards us. It sucked up James and the corpse in his arms, their forms blurred out of existence by the swirling winds. Derek pushed me down into the darkness and followed after, pulling the door shut and locking it as we were plunged into near blindness. My heart began to race, the smell of cold cement and basement-esque dampness flooding my senses. Air felt too dense. The walls felt too close. I called out weakly for Spencer in the dark and his hand found mine as I shook a little.

“Tash, we’re in Wichita, Kansas, aren’t we? Kansas. We’re in the middle of Tornado Alley and a storm is passing over us. We’re safe, you’re with me and Derek and JJ, and you’re going to be fine.” He said quietly as I started to hyperventilate. Despite his words, I couldn’t help from imagining a different place.

“Natasha, are you alright?” JJ wandered over as the door to the shelter shook, threatening to break right off as the tornado passed dangerously close. Spencer assured her I’d be fine as I turned into the corner, repeating his words in my mind and forcing myself to gain control. I had to be in control.

Eventually the tornado passed and we were able to leave, Spencer stay close as we made it back to the station and sequentially the plane. I busied myself writing out a simple card to the boy I’d interviewed at the station, just letting him know that if he ever wanted to talk he could call me. Some of the others signed as well and JJ promised she would get it to him.

I was more than happy when we got back to the windless and sunny Quantico, Virginia, taking solace in the tedious but safe task of filling out paperwork relating to the case. When I was finished I brought it up to Hotchner’s office, knocking as always before entering.

“Here’s the victimology write up.” I handed it to him, worried at his shocked response that I’d messed up. “Is something wrong, sir?”

“No, it’s just—usually I do this.”

“It’s part of my job description, though.” I laughed.

“I know, but I’d rather have the team focused on the case than worrying about what they’ve got to put into a document when we get back.”

“Well I wouldn’t be comfortable with you doing work that I’m supposed to do, if that’s alright.”

“If that’s what you want.” He nodded and I turned to leave. “Oh, and Natasha—”

“Yes, sir?”

“You don’t have to keep calling me sir. Hotch is fine.”

“You got it, Bossman.” I teased before leaving him to his work. Derek was waiting at my desk when I got back, that tell-tale worried look on his face.

“You okay, T-Bird?” His arms were crossed over his chest as he leaned against my desk. I raised an eyebrow at him and pulled on my jacket.

“Of course I am. It’s not that uncommon to be scared of things like small spaces and the dark, okay?”

Before he could get another word in I got Spencer from his desk and we left to go resume our discussion of the ridiculously old sci-fi show. At least in his presence I could count on him only worrying about asserting the validity of certain questionable moments on the show, and not about me.