Status: complete

All the Madness in the World


"It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us." - Norman Maclean


Tonight would be special.

Everything was planned perfectly, my dress and jewelry and shoes laid out on the bed ready for me. Bit by bit I pieced myself together: silver floor-length dress with quarter length sleeves and a conservative neckline, pearl earrings and necklace, silver heels. My hair all wound up into a bun with a few strands dangling free—the appropriate attire for a nice restaurant and theatrical production. A one-in-a-million chance of overlapping free time and case-lessness that we treated as a date night.

Into a clutch I packed the essentials—wallet, phone, and lipstick in the event I would need to reapply. The restaurant wasn’t far, probably a fifteen minute drive into town, and I was to meet him there. I wasn’t really one for spending more money than necessary on something like food, but it was nice as a treat every now and then. Especially when there wasn’t much free time in the first place. Emily was on the phone with me, teasing me as usual about my romantic relations with our boss. It’d become a bit of a running joke amongst the team, but I was okay with it. She was making some kind of joke when the house phone rang, but I promised her the machine would pick it up. I listened to my voice saying to leave a message and then the caller.

“Tasha? My Natasha? It’s me. I made it out. I miss you. I just want to see you…one last time. I’m so sorry. I had to take him—I know you’d never come otherwise. He’s here with me. The Leader…The Boss…Hotch. Please, Tasha. I’m waiting where you caught me and there isn’t much time. I’m scared he’ll be back soon. Please. Please.

For a moment I stood frozen, not wholly processing what it was I’d heard. But as the words played back in my mind I started to panic. Emily was calling to me, asking if I was alright. Asking who it was, what did they say, she couldn’t make out the words. But how could I explain it properly? All that came out of my mouth was a stutter of names. Deimos…Luke…Hotch.

“Deimos escaped. He has Hotch.” The robotic message passed in a monotone voice as my feet lead the way to my gun. I relayed the address—the only place he could be talking about, where we seized him after the first phone call. “Bring everyone.”

There was no time for anything, no time to put on sensible clothing or get a level head. All I knew was that Hotch was in danger and I was closest to the address, but more than that I was the one Deimos was asking for. Always a target. Only, this time I was prepared. My heels, so unfit for driving, slammed on the pedals as I weaved my way through the labyrinth of side streets that would free me of stop lights. I could not stop. Deimos was out. How did he get out? Did they not understand that he was incredibly unstable, unsafe, and probably had eyes set on my head? Oh God, I thought to myself, Spencer.

Immediately I called him, just to hear his voice and know he was safe. In the back of my mind I knew he was, and I knew Hotch was too. Hotch could survive better than Spence. He would make it. He had to. And from the sound of things, Deimos—Luke—whatever, he only took him to force my hand, to make me go to him. For bait. He didn’t want a body count. But this knowledge, this reason couldn`t quell the furious beating of my heart, the sweatiness of my palms, the knots in my stomach.

I didn’t talk to Spencer for long because I was there soon, and although I wanted a moment to compose myself I refused that luxury and fled the car. The house looked the same as before, only this time the yellow crime scene tape dangled on the doorframe and around the ground where it’d been ripped away. The door creaked as I pushed it open, and I retraced the steps into the living room where he’d been before.

Hotch was tied to a chair in the corner of the room, dressed to the nines in his suit and bowtie and suspenders. A silver accent in his front pocket and cufflinks to match my dress. Planned to the last detail. Tonight was supposed to be special. But not this kind of special. From the shadows, where he always hid, came the familiar face. This ghost I thought I’d banished: this remnant yes on the Ouija board. His eyes pinned on me like darts on a board: fixed.

“Athena…” He began, and I stood tall in my place. I was done with this name, I refused to show fear to this boy. But just as suddenly as he came at me with that anger in his eyes, he stopped. “No! No. Not Athena. Her name is Athe-NATASHA!”

I exchanged a look with Hotch, giving him a quick once-over. For the most part he seemed fine, a few cuts on his face and what looked like a bruise forming. Probably a pistol whip. He nodded, which I took as a promise he was fine, and I returned my attention to the spiralling boy in front of me. As far as I could tell this was some sort of psychotic break, a clash of his personalities.

“Who am I talking to?”

“It’s me—the—the real me. Not the other ones…Tasha, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for everything.” He crouched down, pressing his hands to his face—one of them clutching a gun—and wept for a few moments. “I told you to go away! It’s my turn to talk to her!”

“If you have something more to say you’d better hurry up.” I said curtly. “The cops are on their way.”

“I’m leaving soon.” He stood abruptly. “I just want you to forgive me.”

“Okay, I forgive you. Now just put the gun down, okay?”

“Liar!” He yelled with the anger of Deimos. He stood staring at me, chest heaving in and out. “Don’t just try and shut me up, Tash, I’m sick of that!”

“Well what the hell do you want me to say?” I snapped. My breaking point had been reached long ago, and when something is supposed to be over it is meant to stay that way. How was I ever supposed to move on with my life if the worst parts of my past kept being resurrected? There were tears welling in my own eyes, and oddly enough the anger I threw at him seemed to be comforting.

“Just be honest.” He whispered, unaffected by the sudden presence of the team. I counted four sets of footsteps.

“Honestly? There is no way in hell I could ever forgive you. I don’t give a damn if you’ve got voices in your head or if you’re sorry! It isn’t my goddamn problem that you can’t sort yourself out. I don’t even know your real name, all I know is that for four months of my life you stood by and watched me being tortured. Then you let me believe you were someone else, made me fall in love with you and then left me. I want you to put that gun down and surrender and leave me alone.”

He nodded slowly, sniffling back the water works. I wasn’t completely honest, because I was torn in two. I had loved him once. Or at least a version of him. There was no telling how much of him he’d let out into Luke Evans. I’d long since gotten over the shock of it all, but no matter how much you hate someone, no matter how much they hurt you or things go wrong, if you cared about them you always will. In some sick and twisted way they reserve a spot in your heart like it’s a damn parking lot. And as much as I wanted him to leave me alone, a small part of me remembered how happy I’d been with him, once upon a time…

“You know, you were the only girl I ever loved. My Natasha.” He mused, a small smile worming onto his face. I crossed my arms, shaking my head. “You were kind to me when no one else was. You saved my life, even after I ruined yours. And I hurt you, so much, and I’m sorry.”

He stepped up to me, those sickeningly blue eyes watering as his face contorted for a moment, holding the other voices back. With a gun in his hand he leaned forward a pressed his lips to mine. This lost boy, a mystery to us all. If I wasn’t so worried about the safety of us all I would have pushed him off, but I knew enough about situations like this that in this case indulgence was the key to survival. His free hand moved to my face and all I could see was Paris, this moment as it had been years ago; how perfect it had seemed. And, just like Paris, it was snatched away with the sound of the safety being turned off of a gun.

It pressed against my stomach as he pulled away, his features moving in a fury as the personalities fought for control. I was completely at his mercy. He looked at me with the hatred of Deimos, growled that I killed his father and pressed the gun more against me as Rossi told him to drop the gun. At this new voice Deimos fell and was conquered by Luke or whatever his real name was. He pulled away immediately, retreating backwards and shaking. I begged him to let us go. He looked up, staring at all of the guns pointed at him, at his hostage to the side and his love before him.

“I won’t let him hurt you, Tasha.” He whimpered. “He won’t ever hurt you again.”

He cocked the gun and took quick steps towards me. Morgan shouted for him to drop it immediately, to stop, stop, stop. I saw his gun raised in my peripheral vision as the boy kissed me one last time and pulled away. My eyes grew wide as I understood what he meant. I cried out for him to stop as he raised the gun to his head, whispering a name before pulling the trigger.

Charlie Summers.

A loud bang and a shower of wetness before his body fell limp to the ground. Morgan and Rossi moved to the body as Prentiss crossed to Hotch and freed him. Spencer stood at my side, reaching out his hand to touch my arm. I pulled away, taking a shaky step back, wide-eyed.

Tonight was supposed to be special.

I could feel the blood splattered on my face, could feel it dripping down my neck and could see the droplets racing down the front of my dress. One last reminder. Rossi confirmed the death that was obvious, his body obstructing the view of the head. After a few moments I forced my gaze away, turning to Hotch as he rubbed his wrists. I felt incredibly drained of all energy, completely weak. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I never expected this, not in the slightest. I didn’t have the heart to say anything more than I would meet him at the hospital.

“I’m fine, really.” He promised.

“I’ll meet you at the hospital.” I hissed, challenging him with a glare. For the first time, I was pulling rank. I was calling the shots, and he was going to listen. Spencer tried to come with me but I shot him down, slowly getting into the car and driving home at the speed limit, obeying every stop sign and traffic light. I knew that the image would be hard to erase from my mind: every time I blinked I saw him.

The trees and the streetlights all blurred by, my mind successfully split between the part of me driving home and the part of me replaying the death. Was there something I could have done differently, or was this his plan from the moment Ares was dead; the ultimate endgame? Every move felt robotic as I got home, stripping out of the ruined dress and ripping the pins and ties out of my hair. I avoided all mirrors as I made it to the washroom, turning on the shower and stepping inside.

As the water ran through my hair, bits of skin and skull were pulled free. They clanked on the bottom of the tub with eerie force, and I tried to ignore the red water as it ran for the drain. The redness that was in a living person moments ago. The sight of it, though, couldn’t be ignored. I braced myself against the wall and curtain, almost pulling it down as I threw up. I was almost angry with myself—I’d seen people get shot before when I was on the force. It shouldn’t have shocked me so much. But maybe it was just because of who it was. Charlie Summers. When I had rid myself of his physical memory I got dressed and called Garcia, telling her the name and asking her to keep it quiet. Anything she found was to come to me directly and no one else. If anyone else asked about him, say it was a dead end.

I emptied the stained clutch, left the gun I hadn’t even bothered to take out, and headed back down to the parking lot. My hair, still wet, clung to me and chilled my skin. The nearest hospital was St. Mary’s, only ten minutes away. I somehow stretched it out into twenty. Hotch would be fine after a few stitches, but I didn’t think I’d be able to handle seeing any more of his blood. He needed to be all safe and cleaned up for me to even look at him. I felt somehow guilty as I went up to the front desk and received my directions. As if I had some deep secret, an affair I hadn’t told him about. I couldn’t place why; he wasn’t going to be angry about the kiss. He understood, I knew that. But I still couldn’t shake this feeling that being near him right now wasn’t right.

Soon enough I found him, immediately regretting not bringing him a change of clothes first. The few drops of blood stood out like sore thumbs on his white shirt, a painful reminder of the complete 180 the night had made. How it started and how it ended summed up in millimetre of red. He looked up at me cautiously; he wasn’t hiding how obvious it was that I was shaken up. In a feeble attempt to calm him slightly I wrapped my arms around him, staying there only for a moment before pulling away.

“You’re okay?” An obvious question with an obvious answer. Of course he was okay. I just needed to hear it from him. He nodded once as he got to his feet, grabbing his jacked off the cot.

“Are you ready to go home?” He asked, beginning his exit. I stood still, arms wrapped around myself as I tried to figure out how to tell him. “What is it?”

“Hotch, you know that I’m not…I wasn’t still in love with him, right?” He nodded. “I just need to be on my own tonight. I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”

“If you need anything—”

“You’ll be the first to know.” I promised, leaning up to kiss him on the cheek before walking in the opposite direction. His footsteps were delayed and he was no doubt confused about my reaction. I just couldn’t stand to be around anyone for the moment; I just needed some time to breathe. To sort myself out. I guess I’d just thought he’d always be accessible, if the time ever came when I wanted to talk to him…perhaps ask him why or yell at him. There was no choice, now. No possibility.

The apartment was too quiet, every little noise made me think of the gunshot. It was so different, up close. So much louder. Or maybe it’d just been the small space we were in; either way it was the loudest most drawn out sound I’d ever heard. It echoed in my brain like a ricocheting bullet, and every shadow moved like a falling body. It wasn’t normal, knowing so many different versions of someone. It’s impossible to know how you feel about them. Curling up in my bed I kept the phone nearby, leaving the light on and trying to calm my mind.

Tonight was supposed to be special.
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