Status: complete

All the Madness in the World


"Other things may change us, but we start and end with family." – Anthony Brandt


“We have to get up.” Hotch’s arm wrapped around my middle as I groaned. My face was pressed against the pillow, muffling my pleas for five more minutes of peace. I felt his laugh against my back as he brushed my hair back from my face. “This party was your idea”

“I just wish we’d made it later.” I whined. He kissed my neck, the stubble on his cheeks scratching against my skin. I groaned, turning in his grasp so that my head lay on his chest. “You need to shave.”

“I didn’t know you were in charge of my facial hair.” He teased, tracing a design on my exposed shoulder. I cocked an eyebrow before propping myself up on his chest. He could tell, just from the look, that I was about to make him regret that comment.

“From an anthropological point of view, there were three main reasons why more primitive Homo sapien males grew beards. One: for warmth, and as it is summer in Virginia you can’t play that card. Two: to appear more intimidating to potential enemies. You’re an FBI agent who carries three guns and can shut someone up just by looking at them, so I think you’re set in that department. And three, to attract mates. Seeing as you have a willing female lying naked in your bed and who does not approve of polygamous affairs, you have no reason to grow a beard.”

“Thanks, Reid.” It was a running joke that whenever I got too technical or scientific he addressed me as he addressed Spencer. Smirking, I bent down and kissed him before finally getting out of bed and into the shower.

For a moment I panicked because I thought I’d forgotten my dress back at my apartment, but I found it between some of his suits when I got out. I put on my bathing suit first so that when I wanted to go swimming I didn’t have to come in and change. I’d had the same suit for years for lack of needing a new one. It was a black one piece that covered me well and even had a skirt attached to minimize the skin I had to show. The dress was a simple one: flowy, sleeveless, white top with green skirt that reached my shins. I threw my hair up into a ponytail allowing it to dry naturally. There was no reason to fuss about looking pretty today.

I left Aaron to get ready and went downstairs to start prepping all of the food. The ground beef was ready to be made in to burgers, so I began to cut up the onions that I’d put in them. Pulling out a container, I cut off a few sections of parchment paper to separate the layers of burgers; then came the fun part. I mushed all of the ingredients together with my hands and rounded them out to make perfect burgers. When I was half done he finally came downstairs.

“Babe can you fix my hair?” I called out as he passed me on the way to the backyard. He laughed as I held up my meat-covered hands as an explanation for my inability to do it myself. He tucked my hair behind my ears and gave me a look.

“Babe?” He questioned.

“What, is Hotch the only acceptable nickname? And I have to share it with the whole team?” He shook his head, kissing me before going outside.

When I was done with the hamburgers we worked together to get the rest of the house ready for the mob of people that would be coming. He set up a cooler outside under the shade of the umbrella that we filled with ice and a variety of drinks. In light of all the cobwebs I saw when opening the shed, I put him on chair-retrieval duty (as well as made him promise to check every single one for lurking creepy crawlers) while I set up the tables. Afterwards we went around the perimeter of the property and stuck tiki torches in the ground that we could light later in the night.

By half-past noon we had everything ready to go. All we were missing were the people. The closer it drew to the start time of 1the more I began to panic. Why on earth had I thought it would be a good idea to meet Jessica? She was probably the last person who wanted to see me, considering who I was. The thought began to wear a hole in my mind and I sat on one of the lawn chairs picking at the skin around my nails.

“What’s up?” He sat down beside me, surveying the backyard. I shook my head but he knew me too well to accept that as truth. “What is it?”

“Just…Wondering what I’ve gotten myself into.” I sighed. “What the hell is she supposed to think of me?”

“Don’t think like that.” He said. “I talked to Jess about it when I called her to see where she stood with this, and she’s not that kind of person. She’s just looking forward to meeting who Jack is always asking to see.”


“Really.” He promised. This put me at ease and I decided that I had to calm down and pretend like she was just another family member of Aaron’s. To busy myself I went inside and got some snacks to set out on the table for people to have until we were ready to have dinner. Just as I went inside the doorbell rang, my heart racing as I went to open the door.

“Am I too early?” Spencer asked as he stepped in. “I never quite understood what the exact waiting period to be ‘fashionably late’ was so I figured that arriving on time wouldn’t hurt, unless of course the hosts were running behind in their setting up of all of the—”

“Spencer!” I called out to make him stop. “It’s fine, you’re right on time.”

“Oh…good!” He said with surprise as he followed me to the kitchen. I loaded some things into his hands so he could help me carry them out as the bell rang again. Hotch went by, greeting Spencer in the process and promising he had the door covered. I led Spencer to the backyard and instructed him on where to put the food.

“There’s my T-Bird!” Derek called, clutching a 24 pack in one hand. Emily was behind him, hands holding up a cake box. I told them where to put the stuff before embracing them.

“Thanks for coming, you guys.”

“I think we all needed a bit of a break.” Emily smiled as Derek went over to greet Spencer—which, of course, meant rough housing. Hotch walked by the two of us to the cd player where he began to shuffle through the CDs I’d laid out.

“I know it’s your favourite, but we are not listening to the Beatles’ White Album.” I called out as he turned to me, confusion on his face.

“Why not?”

“Hotch, it’s the worst one.” I laughed as he shook his head, picking some other Beatles CD to put on.

“I’m almost offended by that.” He said before escaping back into the house at the sound of the doorbell. Penelope and Kevin showed up next, clutching a bag full of a projector and cables and a container of potato salad. They had barely even set them down before JJ walked in with Will and Henry by her side. I had only met Will the one time the whole team went out for dinner, but Henry I’d never met. He was four years old and very shy, turning his face into JJ’s leg when I tried to say hello.

“He’s a little cranky right now, he just woke up from a nap.” Will explained, trying to pry him off her leg.

“Well come on in, make yourselves comfortable.” I left them to socialize with the others and went inside to find David already here, setting up shop in the kitchen.

“Hey kiddo.” He said, setting down a container of tomatoes. He pulled the dishtowel off his shoulder and dried his freshly washed hands. I went up and gave him a hug, helping him find the pots and pans he needed.

“What are you making?”

“Family recipe. Best spaghetti you’ll ever have; it’s got to be made the day of, though.”

“Need any help?” I asked, leaning against the counter. He slid the knife and cutting board towards me and started filling a pot with water. “Start dicing.”

With a nod I set to work, cutting off the tops and dicing up the tomatoes. In a pan he was busy caramelizing some onions and garlic, narrating his actions all the while as if it was a cooking show. I shot Hotch a look as he walked by and he laughed at what I’d gotten myself into.

“Alright, put those into that pot and I’ll show you how to properly chop basil.” He instructed. The doorbell rang just as I set the cutting board back down, and my heart began to race.

“N’Tasha!” Jack called out, his little feet stomping on the floor as he ran over to me. I crouched down and opened my arms to catch him.

“Hey Superman!” I got a good hold on him and stood up so he could see what we were making. “Do you want to have the best spaghetti in the world?”

“With meatballs?” He asked. I shrugged, turning to Dave for an answer. He stopped stirring for a moment and faced Jack.

“Remember this: it’s not real spaghetti if there’s no meatballs.” He tapped Jack on the nose and went back to cooking as I set the boy down.

“And you must be the girl Aaron doesn’t shut up about.” Hotch’s brother was the opposite of what I’d expected. He had long shaggy hair that had been dyed blonde (although the roots were coming in) and a beard. Compared to Aaron’s suit and tie, strict look, Sean was a surfboard-loving hippie.

“And you must be Sean.” I smiled as he came up and hugged me. “The master chef.”

“The less up-tight, more attractive brother. That’s me.” He turned and winked at Hotch.

“Well, that’s debatable.” I teased as he went over to greet Rossi. At last, the moment had come. The woman standing with Hotch had short blonde hair and a pie in either hand that she was passing over to him as I approached. Praying for the best I smiled at her. “And you must be Jessica.”

“Natasha, it’s great to finally meet you!” She embraced me, catching me off guard but in the most pleasant way. “Do you need any more help setting up?”

“Um,” I looked behind me at Sean taking my place as Rossi’s sous chef and at the group in the backyard. “I think we’ve got everything under control. Let’s go out back.”

“So how long have you been working at the BAU now?”

“God, it’s been…six months now?”

“And you’re liking it there?”

“It’s definitely not what I expected. It can be really draining but when we get things right and someone is brought home safe, it makes up for everything. That, and I get to keep an eye on Spence.”

“You’re cousins, right?” I nodded. “That must’ve made the transition a lot easier.”

“Absolutely. I lucked out though because I worked with Derek in Chicago as well so I wasn’t alone in being a cop-turned-behaviour analyst.”

“I don’t know how you do this every day.” She laughed, grabbing a drink as we watched Jack playing with Henry.

“Some days, neither do I.”

“Tasha,” Rossi called out, walking by me. “No one is to touch the stove or its contents.”

“Yes sir.” I gave him a salute as he grabbed a beer and walked off. Emily and JJ greeted Jessica and started engaging her in conversation. I took a quick sweep of the yard to make sure everything was in order and everyone seemed relatively comfortable. An evil desire crept into me as I caught sight of Derek. I waited until Emily was finished talking before nudging her.

“Em, look.” I shifted my eyes towards Derek. He was standing close to the edge of the pool talking to Rossi. She looked back at me with a wicked smile. “We can’t pass this up.”

“I’ll trip, you push?” She proposed.

Before heading over I grabbed a drink so that it would seem more natural. The two of them were discussing some case when I joined, positioning myself directly in front of Derek. Emily came up beside me, letting him get comfortable before slipping her foot behind his ankle. She gave the slightest nod of her head and I smirked, pushing against him with all of my might. He flailed for a few moments, the deepest instincts trying to keep him balanced, before he toppled into the pool. Emily and I were in stitches as he resurfaced, booming like an animal.

“Dammit, woman!” He roared. I took the opportunity to pull off my dress, tossing it into an empty chair and jumping in myself. Derek was waiting for me when I resurfaced, grabbing hold of me and scolding me. “How the hell was that fair?”

“It wasn’t supposed to be!” I thrashed about in his grasp before finally slipping free. He gave me a look that let me know he wasn’t done tormenting me, but paused to peel off the soaking wet shirt.

“You’re damn lucky I didn’t have my phone on me T-Bird, or your species would’ve been extinct.”

“Aww, what’s the matter, you’d lose all your girlfriends’ numbers?” I teased as he shook his head. “Em, Spence, come in!”

“I—I think I’m good out here.” Spencer said, taking a step back from the pool as Emily stripped down and joined us.

“Kid, don’t make me throw you in.” Derek threatened, which seemed to terrify Spencer more than just getting in himself. He heaved a sigh, setting down his drink and taking off his sandals before looming close to the pool stairs. He was playing with the edge of his shirt as if debating whether or not to keep it on.

“Take it off!” Emily cheered, making him laugh nervously before obeying. He waded down the first two steps, arms crossed as if to cover himself.

“It’s so cold.” He whined, squinting at us against the sun. There was a battle cry and I turned just in time to see Sean running full speed at the pool and jumping in. The resulting splash doused Spencer completely and made him squeal, which only gave Derek more ammunition against him.

“Quit screaming and get in.” He demanded, wading over to Spencer. Derek was throwing fake punches at Spencer, whose arms kept going up in an attempt at defence against each new throw. “C’mon kid, where’s your training? Huh?”

“I barely passed the physical requirements and they only let me in because I’m a genius!” He cried, edging away every chance he got. Derek laughed before tackling him, Spencer’s scream turning into a bubbly wail as he was pulled under water.

Jack released a battle cry as he charged at the pool, tucking his legs in for a cannonball as he splashed into the water. He resurfaced and I snatched him up while JJ and Will got in with Henry. Jack got onto my shoulders as the group of us started messing around.

“Daddy come play!” Jack called out, the request met with agreement from the rest of us. He turned to us all with a plate of raw meat in one hand and a pair of tongs in the other, smiling apologetically.

“Dinner won’t make itself.” He shrugged as we booed him.

“N’Tasha?” Jack tapped on my head. “Can we play Marco Polo?”

Emily volunteered to be ‘it’ first, so she closed her eyes and counted to ten while we all moved around. Derek was the only one to move right up behind her, a tactic that would either make him the winner or the first to be caught. He made funny gestures behind her as she counted, sending the kids into a fit of laughter. Unluckily for him, Emily’s intuition was impeccable and he was tagged in the first three seconds. He begrudgingly went to the middle of the pool and covered his eyes, counting quickly as we all repositioned ourselves.

Everyone except for Will (somehow a master at the art of Marco Polo) had been tagged at some point, and I could only imagine how annoyed any neighbours were with the constant soundtrack of Marco…Polo Polo Polo!!!! When Spencer’s turn came around again, I thought up a plan. When he closed his eyes I motioned for everyone to follow my lead as we got out of the pool as quietly as possible. We all stood around the perimeter of the pool, holding back laughter as Spence wandered around the empty water. We still called out Polo in response, and occasionally someone would splash him to keep up the façade.

“Something isn’t right.” He said after five straight minutes of wandering around an empty pool. “Judging from the area of the pool and the combined area of all seven of you, I should have at least caught someone by now. Can I open my eyes?”

“No cheating, Reid!” Derek asserted but I punched him.

“Go ahead, Spence.”

Everyone laughed about it—except, of course, Spencer, who kept explaining the mathematics he’d used to deduce the truth—and got dried off just in time for dinner. It was very much a buffet-style sit down, with people sitting wherever they pleased. I crashed in the grass with Jack, Henry, JJ, and Spencer, pressing the napkins under my leg so the wind wouldn’t take them away.

There was a surplus of food, so even after everyone ate to their heart’s content (including Derek, with a black hole of an appetite) there were plenty of leftovers. The only exception was the dessert, which had pretty much been devoured. The sun was almost gone for the day, casting an orange glow across the sky; filling up the space in between day and night.

When the disposable plates had been tossed away and the food covered, the music was turned up and Jack came running up towards me. It was the Beatles, Twist and Shout—and he wanted to dance. I set his feet on mine and took his hands, swaying around and singing along with him to the song. He laughed until he was red in the face and the song finally came to an end. Then he disappeared off to find his dad.

Derek held out his hand to me when the next song started and I laughed, taking up the dancing position. JJ, Will, Penelope, and Kevin had joined us and Emily was currently in the process of coercing Spence off the sidelines. The smile slowly faded from my face as I thought about how perfect everything was.

“Hey, what’s that frown for T-Bird?” He asked as I shrugged. We were a fair distance from the others but I lowered my voice anyways.

“I don’t know…Everything is just kind of too good to be true, you know? I feel like any minute all of this is going to slip away.”

“It will if you keep thinking that way, baby girl.” He scolded, evoking a smile out of me. “Don’t you go worrying about things that ain’t never gonna happen.”

I nodded and he pressed his lips to my forehead. “You’re pretty great, Derek Morgan.”

“Don’t you know it, Natasha Reid.”

Sean came up and asked if he could cut in. Derek handed me over and Sean took his place as the song changed. We made small talk for a while, mostly about the party and the food and the kids. But I was good at my job; I knew there was something he was waiting to say.

“You know,” he dropped his voice and cast a look at Aaron. “He hasn’t looked this happy in a really long time. You seem like a great girl, Natasha. I guess what I’m saying is I’m real glad you got the job.”

“Believe me, that makes two of us.” I laughed lightly. “But thank you. It’s something I needed to hear.”

He kissed my hand as we parted ways and I took a seat next to Spencer. I rested my head on his shoulder as he rambled on about a journal article he’d read concerning the latest development in astrophysics. It was odd how comforting a thing this was, Spencer’s avid rambling about intellectual things and numbers and statistics and references.

I was pulled out of my thoughts by a sudden song change. A familiar tune and soothing voice found its way to me and I looked through the gaps between the people to find Hotch standing at the cd player. It was Frank Sinatra’s The Way You Look Tonight. One of my favourites. He came up to me and asked to borrow me from Spencer, who promised to fill me in later.

The grin on my face couldn’t get away even if it tried. His hand took mine as the other wrapped around my waist. He held me close to him as we swayed in circles. If I was certain of anything, it was that in his arms was where I was meant to be. It was so overwhelmingly correct, all of it. I didn’t want the song to end, I didn’t want to ever have to let go. I just wanted his arms around me forever, my head laying on his shoulder. But as the tune faded and we pulled away he pressed his lips to mine.

“Can we watch a movie now?” Jack called out, forcing the both of us to smile.

Kevin had been kind enough to bring the projector which he began to set up while Derek and Sean were busy hanging a white sheet against the wall of the house. Emily and Jessica were helping me make up enough popcorn to sustain all fourteen of us. JJ and Penelope were laying out blankets and pillows all across the lawn for everyone when we came out. When everything was ready everyone began to group up and settle down.

Henry and Jack were lying on their stomachs closest to the screen, hands propping up their heads and feet dangling absently in the air. When the DVD menu for The Karate Kid showed up on the sheet, Kevin handed the remote to me and took a seat beside Penelope, taking her hand as she and Emily conversed with David. Behind them, Will sat with his arm draped around JJ as Jessica told some story about when Jack was little. Sean was using his finger to draw something into the fabric of the sheet that made sense to Aaron in the context of their discussion. There was a seat saved for me between him and Spencer, who was busy arguing with Derek over the logical possibilities and physical restrictions of time travel in the show Doctor Who.

I got comfortable in my saved seat, shushing everyone before hitting play. The popcorn bowls had been placed throughout the mass of us, causing a gentle crunch crunch to be the background noise to the anti-piracy warning at the start of the movie. Spencer was still whispering about some study so I threw the remote at him. He smiled sheepishly before apologizing and turning his attention to the movie. Aaron’s arm found its way around my shoulder so I leaned against him. He brushed his lips against my forehead, making me smile.

“You owe me a swim later, mister.” I said quietly. He laughed, the action vibrating through me and making me do the same.

The longer the movie went on, the more tired Jack and Henry started to become. They lay flatter and flatter on the ground, and I could tell even without seeing them that their eyes were drooping. When 10 o’clock rolled around and the movie had thirty minutes left Henry retreated back to JJ and Will, seeking refuge in their arms. A few minutes later Jack did the same, curling up against me and trying to stay awake. I draped my arms around him as he began to twirl his hair, a sure sign of his imminent need for sleep.

In the last five minutes of the movie Jack was completely out, and so I got up as quietly as possible with the child in my grasp and headed to tuck him in. Aaron opened the sliding door for me and followed upstairs to Jack’s room where he pulled back the covers. I laid the child down and began to pull up the covers but he woke for a moment, groaning.

“Mommy can you sing me a lullaby?” He asked, freezing me to the spot. My eyes grew wide at the realization of what he had just said, and I turned to Hotch for some kind of guidance. I couldn’t exactly place the emotion on his face but he nodded me on so I knelt beside the bed.

“I—uh—sure thing, buddy.” I sang him a quick lullaby and he fell back asleep, a sort of fear growing in my heart at the question of what exactly just happened. Hotch closed the door behind him and we went back downstairs to see people manifesting at the door.

“He’s out cold.” Will said of the boy in his arms.

“Thanks so much for having us though, it was great.” JJ smiled, the others following her while exchanging thanks and goodbyes of their own. I double checked with Kevin and Penelope that they’d gotten all of the equipment they’d brought. Rossi gave specific instructions on how to store and properly reheat the pasta he’d made before bidding us farewell. Jessica and Sean were the last to leave.

“It was really nice meeting you, Natasha.” She said, embracing me.

“But it’s a long drive back.” Sean said, hugging his brother before moving on to me.

“Are you sure you guys don’t just want to stay the night?” I offered as they gathered their things.

“I’m meeting up with some friends in Maryland on my way back to New York, and I’m dropping Jess on the way so it’s no big deal.”

We exchanged a final set of goodbyes before standing in the doorway and watching as the last of the cars disappeared down the street. Locking the door we both sort of let out a sigh, almost in relief that we’d made it through a day with no calls or cases or mishaps. I noticed that there was a stack of folded blankets and pillows sitting on the couch in the living room, and it looked like the kitchen had been cleaned up as well. When I went into the backyard I was surprised to see that practically everything had been cleaned up—even the chairs were stacked. With nothing left to really clean and the peace of the night my eyes fell onto the pool.

“Well, come on.” I said, casting a look back at Aaron.

Pulling the dress up and off of me, I let it fall to the ground. My feet were silently flattening the grass with each step that I took, remaining quiet as the ground changed to stone. The water of the pool made gentle noises as my feet caused ripples the further I lowered them. Eventually I submerged myself entirely, my suit sticking to my skin as much as my wet hair. The tiki torches that we’d lit up around the lawn were still burning, casting a glow around the yard that artificial light just couldn’t make.

He closed the sliding door behind him, peeling off his shirt before making his way over to me. While he got in I swam around a bit, going over to him and making him sit on the steps in the shallow end. I climbed onto his lap, the water dancing around my shoulders as I wound my arms around his neck. He placed his around my waist and looked at me, as if he knew that I needed to say something.

“Are you…Are you okay with what happened with Jack?” I asked. He paused to think for a moment which only made me anxious. “Because you know that I’m not at all trying to replace her or anything like—”

“I know that.” He nodded. “Jack’s old enough to understand that she’s not coming back, and I think he’s just looking for someone to…fill the void, almost. And you’re a perfect fit.”

“But I—”

“For both of us.” He interrupted, putting me at ease. I sighed and nodded, wrapping my arms tighter around him. He pressed his lips to mine before letting me move onto the stair beside him.

“Today was a good day.” I mused as his arm wound around me and my head found his shoulder.

“They come around every now and then.”