Status: complete

All the Madness in the World

King of Hearts; Jack of Spades

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." – George Orwell


The next day I didn’t call Hotch, despite my promise. I didn’t call anyone or pick up the phone whenever someone called. Their voices on the answering machine echoed through the apartment, bouncing off every wall and into my overflowing mind. For most of the day I just moved from couch to bed and back again. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. Every sound was loud like the gunshot, every colour dull in comparison to the blood.

Once, long ago, I had loved him. Charlie. Charles Alec Summers, born three months after me to the day. Penelope had emailed me everything she’d found, however little it was. As I sifted through the information I kept trying to remind myself that he’d stood by during everything that happened to me, that he’d tricked me and lied to me and left me and everything in between. But as my eyes danced across the pages, read the police report of the kidnapped child and testimony from the parents, I couldn’t hate him. Not really.

What really changed things for me though, what really pushed me over the edge, was the website. Amongst all of the legal documents and falsified identifications, she’d stumbled upon a blog. She’d print-screened all the pages before taking it down so no one else would find it. After I had everything saved on my computer and backed up onto another hard drive I asked her to delete everything from her computer. I had no way of knowing if she actually did, but I trusted her to do so. These things were meant for me, and Charlie made that clear. The headline ran across the top of every page, Letters from Charlie. There were seven undated entries—that was it. Seven pieces to a puzzle that I hadn’t wanted to complete until now.

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Charlie who lived in a magic castle. Charlie was 8 when he was taken by the Big Bad Wolf. The Wolf brought Charlie to his house in the woods where he had an older boy already. He was given a new name. He was given a new identity. He was told to obey. He had a new father now.

If only Charlie knew where the keys were, he would free the princesses. He would free them and maybe they would run away with him and he would have his own happy ending. But the Wolf did such a good job of hiding them. Charlie just wanted to rescue them. They cried so much.

She escaped today. She stabbed the guard and she escaped. Charlie tried to leave too but he spent too long thinking of somewhere to go and the Wolf caught him in the forest. The older boy wasn’t dead and needed to be looked after, the Wolf said.

Charlie found her again. At the university—oh, she is so lovely. She’s met Luke and I think she likes him. Wolf is watching, always watching, but never ordering. Never biting. Wolf is quiet. Wolf may be sleeping for the first time. And Charlie plays when the Wolf is asleep.

Charlie oh Charlie poor Charlie dear Charlie. Charlie fell in love. Charlie planned it all. But Charlie is a sheep and the Wolf is a beast and all good things go to those who eat and when Charlie plays he becomes the prey. But Wolf is forgiving. The ring is on her finger. Wolf is forgiving, if Charlie returns. A life for a life. Charlie’s life of servitude for her life continuing. Charlie thinks this is a fair trade. Charlie hopes he made the right choice. Charlie is in love with her.

The older boy died today and the Wolf is very mad. He says Charlie must leave for the new land. Charlie doesn’t want to go. Charlie knows the Wolf lied and that the last princess is in danger. The Wolf has two names in his book. Two endings. Charlie doesn’t want to help but he has to. He always has to. Charlie doesn’t want to start again…

She will never know. Oh, Charlie is so sorry for everything. He wishes he stopped the Wolf when it was still hunting season. Charlie wishes he had the courage to make a bear trap. But the Princess is safe now, even if she hates Charlie. He loves her so dearly and will miss her when he’s gone. This is the end of the story. This is the happiest ending a lamb can have. The wool has been taken and the other sheep are trying to take over. But Charlie will play one last time; he will see her one last time before the end. He loves her. I love you. I’m so sorry for everything. I hope you can forgive me. I hope you find your lion, but I will always be your lamb. You can live my happily ever after for me. My sweet Natasha.

The End.

The real death of Phobos must’ve been the trigger for Ares—Miller to come after me again. It was the only thing that made sense. It was the last entry, though, that hit me the hardest. I wanted to go back in time and tell him that I forgave him. I didn’t want the last words he ever heard to be hurtful ones, least of all from the girl he loved. This plagued me, my own scornful voice resonating in my ears, mingling with the gunshot.

Sunday passed and the feelings didn’t go away. As much as I hated wallowing in my own self-pity, in feeling bad for myself because of something I’d done, I just couldn’t focus. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get into the state of mind I needed to be in to do my job. So my options were to go in anyways and risk messing up something on a case—usually balancing between life and death for one or more people—or cave in and request a day off. Personal time.

There was no part of me that wanted to talk to anyone on the team, because they cared too much. They would want to make sure I was okay and I didn’t want to lie, because I most definitely was not. Instead I called one of the other agents on the floor, Anderson. I asked him to kindly pass along the message that I wouldn’t be in today for personal reasons. It would be no secret to anyone on the team given most of them had witnessed it, but it saved me the trouble of promising I would be okay.

At around 8 I left a message on his answering machine and began to clean up my apartment. It had fallen to ruin over the weekend, and the process of putting everything back in its designated place helped to calm me. After the place was clean and there was nothing left for me to do I decided to take a walk. I didn’t really have a destination, I just needed to clear my head so that I wouldn’t miss another day of work. It was 11 by the time I left, Spencer calling just as I locked my door. For a moment I debated whether or not to answer, but eventually rejected the call and started walking.

It didn’t take my feet a long time to decide where they were going despite the fact that it wasn’t particularly close by. I needed to see it, I needed to go back. The park that I cut through was teeming with mothers and their children and with elderly people taking their time as they walked along the paths. Happiness. Life. This was what I was leaving behind, exchanging it for sadness and death as I exited the park. My path led me to the run-down neighbourhood and eventually to the townhouse I’d been in days before.

The yellow crime scene tape still clung to the door frame, its severed bands flapping in the wind like a white flag of surrender. The door offered no resistance as I pushed it open and stepped through. The house was so old that, even after being rinsed down, the floorboards retained the smell of blood and death. In the middle of the main room there was a dark stain where he’d bled out. A sigh escaped me as I shook my head, biting back the tears that struggled to break free.

“I’m sorry, Charlie.”

My voice was a pathetic whisper that crackled like a cancer patient’s against the silence of the place. If ever there was a time I believe in ghosts, it was now. I needed them to be real, I needed him to be here so he would know what I was saying. So we could both be at peace.

I stayed for a bit but the smell and the darkness and the general memory attached to the place drove me out eventually. With everything that had gone on since the final show-down with Ares, I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about it since my recovery time. I had made peace with one ghost, I supposed it was time to do it with the other. The ghost of myself, the Natasha Reid that perished in that fire along with Ares.

It was a long walk, and there were a few people I passed on the street that made me wish I’d brought my gun. When I got to the place where the house had stood, I was faced with a pile of rubble. The second-longest time of my life reduced to cement blocks and ashes. Somewhere in there were the remains of Anton Miller, the debris scattered across the field surrounding the property. I took out my phone, suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to call Spencer, but the explosion had knocked down the cell tower on the outskirts of the property and left me with no service.

Taking a seat on the edge of the property, I took a deep breath and made a promise to myself. I had no reason to be fearful of anything anymore, had no reason to be weak or dependent on anyone else. The little girl that Miller had ruined would remain here, unsalvageable and unneeded any more. I had the whole team to thank for that. Without Spencer I never would have made it, but without the team I would never have survived. I had found the family to which I belonged.


Re-entering the world of cell service turned into an ambush against my phone. It just kept buzzing with notification after notification: missed call, text, text, text, missed call, voice mail, voice mail, missed call, voice mail, text, missed call, voice mail. I was too tired, though, to bother checking them all and responding. There would be time later.

The sun was warm on my back, turning everything orange and pink as I turned the corner onto my street. My feet had long since abandoned my shoes, the two black oblong forms switching from hand to hand when one got too tired. I kept my eyes peeled for any painful debris as I walked along the grassy dividers between sidewalk and roadway.

When I got close to my building I saw something I wasn’t expecting. Hotch was sitting on the doorstep, waiting for something or someone anxiously. He looked like he’d been there for hours, and a knot began to twist in my stomach as I remembered the phone in my pocket and my sudden departure. I cleared my throat as I got closer and his head snapped up from his hands. He got to his feet in a heartbeat, a wild look in his eyes.

“Where have you been?” His voice was harsh and I recoiled from it, taking a step back and avoiding his eye. “Everyone’s been calling you, searching for you, we’ve been worried for hours—”

“I-I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking straight and—”

“You’re right. You were being reckless.”

I looked up at him, the light casting shadows over his features and filling his eyes with darkness. It was too much, such a stark juxtaposition to the bright, open peacefulness I’d come from—so I took wide steps around him and walked into the lobby. I heard him sigh before the door shut and I slipped my feet across the cold and quiet ceramic tiles until I reached the elevator. It began its slow descent from the top floor, illuminating each number as it reached it, passed it, proceeded. The door opened behind me, a rush of wind slipping through and rustling the plant in the sitting area.

“I shouldn’t have lost my temper.” He said calmly from behind me.

“You’re my boss, you can do whatever you want.” I replied as the elevator doors opened. He called my name out in protest as I stepped in but I ignored him, pressing the 5th button and waiting for the doors to close. At the last second he decided to come in and I took a deep breath, trying to hold in the tears that were ready to start their evacuation. I busied myself with trying to put my shoes back on.

“You just worried us is all.”

“Well I was out of cell range, Hotch, I didn’t plan it that way.”

“Which is why it made us so nervous. You just didn’t show up for work—”

“Why is it always we or us? Why can’t you just admit that it made you nervous? That you were the one searching or waiting for hours? Not everything has to do with the team, especially whatever thing this is we have going. And I called in this morning, I thought that was the protocol.”

The elevator doors opened and I slipped past him, pulling out the keys and dropping them twice before finally getting into my apartment. I knew he was following me and although the angry part of me wanted to lock him out, the much bigger, make up now part of me allowed him to walk right in. He mumbled something about not getting any message, and I explained that I’d called Anderson. He reached out before I could hasten my escape and caught my hand, tugging on it until I turned around. His hands held mine and he looked down at them for a moment before making eye contact.

“You’re right. I’m sorry.” I looked up at him skeptically. “I just…I worry about you. About losing you.”

“Jesus Christ….” I mumbled, shaking my head as tears welled. “After everything, all the sneaking around and secrets and making you break the rules…How could you think, even for a second, that I could just leave?”

His hands released mine only to come up and extinguish the water droplets. They moved their way to the back of my head and brought my lips to his. I welcomed the gesture whole-heartedly, grabbing fistfuls of his shirt and holding on tight.

“Some of those rules were broken more than once, too.” He smirked. A blush crept onto my face as I pulled him back to me, securing one hand at the back of his neck. I kicked my shoes off so I was more comfortable and squeaked as he lifted me up and set me on the back of the couch. My legs wrapped around his middle as he leaned down to keep us connected, his hands braced on either side of me. As a most unwelcome interruption, my phone began to ring again. I groaned, grabbing hold of his tie and keeping him in place until I fished my phone out, pausing for a moment to catch my breath and then answering.

“Natasha Reid.”

“Tash! Where’ve you been? I left you like four messages, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine Spence. I just hit a dead zone.”

“Well does Hotch know you’re okay?”

“I think he knows I’m alright.” I smirked at Hotch, who turned away as far as he could, considering I was holding onto his leash. “I’m really sorry, Spence. I didn’t mean to.”

“I guess I’ll call the others…”

He hung up on me and I bit my lip, knowing I’d struck a nerve with everyone now probably. At least it was easy to make up with everyone else—apologies for the team, making out with Hotch—but Spencer was a different story. Especially after the Miller fiasco.

“I think I’ve got an angry cousin.”

“He’ll come around.” He waited until my attention was back to him and I began to pull at his tie until he slipped his hands under my legs and carried me around and set us both down on the couch. I didn’t wait for an invitation to lean forward, pinning him down and flattening my body against his.

We broke away and I settled for resting my head on his chest, pulling at a loose thread on his shirt and tracing the designs on his tie. He was stroking my hair absently as he looked out the window. A quiet sigh escaped me as I contemplated the pure bliss and serenity of the moment. I wanted it to last forever. He tilted my chin up to look at him and I propped myself up on my elbows to pay attention. He gave me another kiss.

“I love you.”

The unexpectedness of it shot my eyes wide open. My throat ran dry and my hands contracted into little balls. I kept waiting, waiting for him to tell me it was a joke or that surprise, he was also the son of a serial killer out for my blood. But it never came. And after what I determined was long enough to know it wasn’t a joke, I snapped myself out of it.

“I love you too.”
♠ ♠ ♠
Thanks so much for reading!

I just finished a three part Van Helsing story (mmm Hugh Jackman) that you can read here.