Status: complete

All the Madness in the World


"The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness." – Joseph Conrad


It was amazing that in such a short time in Virginia, I had completely lost all tolerance for heat. The dress code for federal agents wasn’t the most forgiving, and as we stood in the middle of the beach which bordered our massive crime scene I wanted nothing more than to peel all of my clothes off—or at least cool down in the water. Well, perhaps not the water directly in front of us, considering it was the sight of a mass grave.

We’d been called out to Jacksonville, Florida when a maintenance man working on a rig found a skull lodged in the extractor pipe. This lead to the discover of nine adult remains, which was unnerving enough without Penelope explaining that there were only six missing persons cases in Jacksonville and that three of those were children. It was always more difficult when the unsub killed elsewhere and just dumped the bodies.

The Florida PD had set up a series of tent-tops near the water so that we had lots of space to work while being close to our crime scene. There was a table where all of the remains had been laid out—although some victims were only identified by a single bone. Spencer had been working on aging the bones and determined that the latest dump was a month prior. Our unsub had nine victims in nine years and crossed not only gender but racial lines as well.

The discovery would be all over the news, and the unsub would change his dumping ground. Although, as Hotch pointed out, using the same place for so many bodies meant it bared some sort of emotional significance to the unsub. In a case where the unsub showed intense control of his urges, no discernible victim pattern, and no visible sexual motivation, the graveyard would probably be our most reliable ticket to catching him.

“Bless you Jennifer.” I sighed as she handed Emily and me a paper bag full of some kind of take out. I wasted no time diving into the burger, having long-since grown accustomed to the graveyard we were working in.

“Nothing’s sexier than a woman who’s not afraid to eat.”

My eyes grew wide and the three of us turned in unison to face one of the policemen on duty. He looked young, probably a rookie or something. I swallowed what was in my mouth before setting down the food and withholding a laugh.

“Sorry, how old are you? Fifteen?” I asked, crossing my arms over my chest. He smirked, delving his hands into his pockets and taking a few steps closer.

“I’m 21.” He challenged as Emily and I exchanged a look. “The name’s Tyler.”

“Well, kid, in case you haven’t noticed this is a federal investigation that’s going on. So why don’t you run along and let the adults get some work done?”

“If you want.” He shrugged as I turned away from him. “But the chase is half the fun.”

He walked away, casting glances back at me as I stared at Emily and JJ completely dumbfounded. Morgan had caught the exchange and gave me a questioning look but I waved it off as nothing. It reminded me of the Chicago days and that Morgan had to play creep-shield to Jeff Colby.

“That was ballsy.” Emily said, getting a burger of her own. “Are you gonna tell Hotch?”

“God no, he’d probably have the poor kid fired.” I wiped a bit of ketchup off my cheek and started to focus again on the case. We knew our unsub was a sadist by the marks on the bones and judging by how the bodies were cut up and the fact that the graveyard was underwater he was in all likelihood a fisherman. The problem was, as Derek had relayed, there were over thirty thousand registered boats in Florida. I found him by the remains table and offered him some of my fries.

“Thanks baby girl.” He said distantly. I followed his eyes to the table where a pelvic bone sat under a label reading ‘African American Female, approximately 20s, died 2004.” It made my stomach drop and I looked up at him. “I don’t think it’s her.”

“You’re going to be hearing from your aunt soon.” I said quietly. “What are you going to tell her?”

He sighed heavily before turning away and shrugging. I wrapped my free arm around his waist and squeezed before leaving him in peace. There was a long-running case in Morgan’s family: his cousin Cindy had been the victim of a stalker for some time and eventually left Chicago in 2004 to escape him. The problem was that no one had heard from her since, and every time a case came up with unidentified remains of a young black female Derek’s aunt Yvonne came running, convinced it was her. All she wanted was closure, and she couldn’t even have that.

Rossi and Hotch made the call to use the media coverage to our advantage, making a formal request for all people with family or friends who went missing on the east coast to come down to the station with some form of DNA so we could attempt to identify the victims. We all headed back to the station for the interviewing process, and grouped up when we got our first confirmed match. The victim had written a postcard to her friend that sounded an awful lot like a suicide note, basically insinuating she was never returning home. Exactly the kind of thing to cover a killer’s tracks.

“Miss, here’s the files you wanted on the vic.” I cringed at the sound of a familiar voice, shooting a look at Hotch—who was partially distracted by Morgan—before turning to take the files.

“Hon, you really need to stop.” I said sternly, turning away from him. He leaned on the desk beside me, a smirk on his face.

“It’s Natasha, right?” I raised my eyebrow at him. “How does your brother ever let you out of the house?”

“He’s my cousin, first off,” I began, facing him with increased agitation. “Secondly, no one lets me do anything. And thirdly, he doesn’t worry about me because I am fully capable of incapacitating you with or without a weapon. So if you’d kindly piss off so I can work, that’d be great. We are trying to catch a serial killer, here.”

“Is everything alright?” Hotch asked from across the table. The boy winked at me, hovering a moment before finally leaving me in peace. “What was that?”

“Forget about it.” I said simply, opening the file and flipping through the pages. “Hey, look at this. It looks like the vic was taking medication to treat Parkinson’s.”

“There’s a drug called Trilomine, in minor doses it can be used to treat Parkinson’s but its main use is for seasickness.” Spencer explained, studying the postcard. “Which is something a fisherman would have access to.”

“Criminals in South America use it,” Derek began. “In high doses it can make you completely obedient to any suggestion you’re given. There’ve even been reports of some people helping thugs load their things into a truck as they steal from them.”

We consulted the other family members after that and came up with four more postcards, three from Miami and two from Charleston including the latest victim. Through the interviews we learned that each of the victims had been meaning to make a fresh start, either just getting out of a relationship or starting a new job. The postcards, of course, were the main reason why the victim’s families had waited so long before filing a missing person’s report.

The hours passed as we searched for new angles and more evidence. At one point I watched as Rossi even interviewed Derek about Cindy, despite the fact that she wasn’t a confirmed victim. There was an ache in my chest as I watched his expressions, the way he held the photograph of his little cousin and the defensiveness in the form of irritability that crept into his body language. He’d already gotten the call from his aunt, and although she wore her heart on her sleeve I knew that it was eating him up just as much. He was just better at holding it in.

“Alright, thanks Garcia.” We had all gathered around the table in one of the conference rooms and began to piece together what we knew.

“Anytime, my captain!” The line went dead and we all collectively sighed, struggling for a new direction to take. Emily cleared her throat, drawing all eyes to her before nodding behind me.

“Oh you have got to be kidding me.” I muttered under my breath as the boy headed towards us with a collection of coffee.

“Looks like you guys could use a pick-me-up.” He said, handing out the coffees. Pausing at me, he leaned in closer than necessary and made me cringe away. “And for you, beautiful.”

“What was that, officer?” Hotch asked. I shot a look at Emily and sighed, knowing this would turn into a battle.

“I was just complimenting your agent here on her beauty, sir.”

“Alright,” I began, handing the coffee back to him. “Kid, you need to take a hint and back off, okay?”

“One date. That’s all I’m asking for.” I cringed at these words, watching Hotch rise from the corner of my eye.

“Do you understand that we are in the middle of a murder investigation and the hunt for a serial killer?” There was that terrifying stare, the look that made grown men shake. And here was this cocky kid, completely missing the point and challenging him anyways. It was like watching a cub take on the head of the pride. The hormonal adolescent against the Alpha Male. “It is completely against your code of conduct—”

“Hotch, let’s not be hypocrites.” I began, getting to my feet and glancing back at the kid. Pulling on Hotch’s tie I brought his lips to mine, kissing him briefly. “There’s a few things we do that don’t follow a code of conduct.”

“Son of a bitch.” The kid muttered as I turned back to him offering a smug smile.

“Do you get the picture now?” I released Hotch and crossed my arms over my chest. “We’re all on the clock here, so I’m sure there’s something more productive you could be doing with your time, officer.”

He disappeared wordlessly and I sat back down, kicking at Emily under the table for the smile she was trying (and failing) to contain. The papers were covering the table and I surveyed them all as we fell into silence.

“Fishing is a job meant usually taken up by loners.” I began, staring at the pages. “But our unsub gets his victims onto the boat before he tortures them. What if he runs some sort of charter? There’s tons of tourism in Miami.”

“Lures people onto his boat, people going alone let him know they’re vulnerable. “Rossi nodded. “A few harmless questions would let him know who’d be missing them at home.”

Spencer delivered his findings on the linguistics profile he ran on all of the postcards. When that was complete we gathered the local police to give the profile. The unsub’s first victim was his father—an alcoholic and likely violently abusive man—and he targeted people who somehow were seen as leaving their responsibilities behind.

It was late into the night and although we had a profile, although we were all motivated to catch this killer before he got too far away, we were stuck on leads and all the coffee in the world couldn’t keep us awake forever. Hotch told us all to go back to the hotel around one am and to go back at the case with fresh eyes in the morning. I went into my room, sat on the bed and tried to relax; but I kept remembering the fiasco with the rookie and smiled at Hotch’s reaction. After a few minutes I grabbed a case file for a ruse and left my room, taking comfort in the emptiness of the hallway as I knocked on the door. He let me in and looked at me expectantly as though I had something case-related to say.

“Sit down for a minute.” The case file fell from my hand to the dresser with a thud as the bed creaked behind me. I pulled my hair from its ponytail before unbuttoning my shirt. “You know, it’s kind of a turn on when you get all protective.”

“Is that so?” He teased. I turned around, ignoring his shocked response and kicking off my shoes. Leaning forward, I kissed him and began to work at his shirt. He pulled away after a moment, giving me a weary look. “We can’t. We’re on the job.”

“No we’re not.” I whined. “You said we should all get some rest which means that everyone is technically on leave for sleeping right now. As in off the clock. As in free time.”

“Natasha.” He tried to reason, a small smile on his face. I groaned, standing up straight and putting my hands on my hips.

“You don’t get it, do you? You can’t just go around in those stupid shirts with the top button open and the sleeves rolled up half way and the sunglasses and just expect me to stand here normally.”

“What?” he laughed. I rolled my eyes, pulling off my shirt and pants. Crossing my arms under my chest I flipped my hair back.

“How much work do you think you’d get done if I walked around on that beach all day dressed like this?” I raised my eyebrows at him.

“None.” He said simply.

“Yeah, well, a good suit to girls is what lingerie is to guys.” I crawled onto him again, pushing him back onto the bed. “It just makes me horny.”

Before he could say anything else I kissed him so he’d shut up and resumed working on his stupid shirt. Of course, he caved. His hand trailed down my side while the other tangled in my hair. My fingers made quick business of his belt, ripping the thing off and throwing it to the floor. I danced my hands up his chest before pushing myself up, peeling off his shirt entirely and working at the hooks on my bra. Ready to pull the damn thing off my hands pressed it to my skin at the sound of my phone ringing.

“Oh you have got to be fucking kidding me.” I breathed, hesitating a moment before grabbing my phone off the floor and flicking it open, taking a moment to try and sound normal. “Natasha Reid.”

“Hey Tash, it’s Spence. I think I might’ve found a pattern in the victimology, I’m down at the café in the lobby if you want to come down.”

“Sure thing.” I sighed before hanging up and quickly relaying everything to Hotch. I groaned, collapsing forward onto him, his fingers working to hook my bra back up. “I can’t believe I’m getting cockblocked by Spence. Isn’t that illegal yet?”

“Unfortunately not.” He sat up, taking me with him, and reached to pull his shirt back on as I begrudgingly kissed him.

“We are spending an entire day making up for this when we get back.” Finally getting off of him, I pulled on all my clothes and made sure I looked presentable before going down to see Spencer. His legs were crossed under him on the seat and he had one hand supporting his head as he scoured over the files with Rossi and Morgan.

“We think he’s using a train.” Spencer said as I sat on the armrest of his chair. He explained how Morgan had come to him with the point that Cindy was terrified of boats and wouldn’t have ever willingly boarded one. Although she wasn’t a confirmed victim, it was still a viable path to consider and Rossi had come up with the idea of a passenger train—the only form of transportation that wouldn’t leave any traceable documents.

“The coast guard just found a body.” Hotch announced as he walked into the café. “Morgan, you and Reid go to the autopsy and find out if it’s our unsub.”

The new spring in the case brought everyone back from the hotel and forced us into the station once more. Morgan and Spencer relayed that the latest vic had self-inflicted wounds and the same drug in his system. There were defensive wounds on him as well, but it would’ve been nearly impossible for the victim to overcome the drug and act on his own. It was Derek who pointed out that only a severe need to protect—like that of a father and their child—would be able to push someone to overpower the drug.

It was exactly the break we needed. Garcia started searching for single fathers who had recently relocated to the area and come up with a hit. The custody battles and messy divorce must have reminded the unsub of his own relationship with his father. Garcia cross-referenced the list of boat owners with train employees of the line that the latest victim’s son had taken to visit him. She found a match, Blake Wells, who fit the profile to a tee.

Hotch and Morgan split up, each taking a swat team to the two possible locations of the unsub while the rest of us stayed behind to wrap up the investigation. I was taking down the evidence boards with Emily while JJ took care of the policemen and detectives. Hotch called to let us know that Morgan had caught Wells and that the little boy was fine. Moving out of earshot I reminded him that we had unfinished business, and he promised we would take care of it as soon as we got back.
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