Status: complete

All the Madness in the World

Blood Bond

“Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.” – Clive Barker


The instincts and years of training kicked in as I mirrored Hotch’s footsteps. Gun gripped with both hands, I kept it down as we followed the suspect through the labyrinth of side streets—ones that he was unfortunately much more familiar with. At one point I almost knocked into a garbage can, narrowly avoiding it at the last moment and rushing to regain my focus. The suspect turned the corner and Hotch followed faster than I could. I was just about to turn the corner when a shot was fired. My heart jumped to my throat in panic; Hotch never would have shot that early.

When my feet finally brought me around the corner I froze, gun held up and aimed at the suspect half way ahead of me in the alleyway. Hotch was leaning against a dumpster, the upper sleeve of his shirt saturated in red. I could see the blood soaking onto his skin as he clutched it and I knew that I only had minutes. The bullet had hit his brachial artery.

“Put it down!” I yelled, taking quick steps over to Hotch but keeping my gun trained on the suspect. He looked at me for a few moments as I repeated my command, slower this time. I put myself between him and Hotch, giving my attention to the latter for just a moment. In that time the suspect turned on his feet and started to run. I could have easily put a bullet through his head, and part of me wanted to for what he’d done. But the bigger part of me forced my aim down to his leg and fired. He fell immediately, wailing for a few moments before raising his gun to me. “Put it down or this time you’ll get it between the goddamn eyes!”

He surrendered and tossed the gun away, gripping at his leg as I relayed my immediate need of medical assistance. Finally I turned to Hotch, dropping to my knees and stuttering out a few dummy words about how everything was going to be fine. He was already slipping, head lolling from side to side as each passing second robbed him of more and more blood. I wrapped my hands tightly around his arm, raising it upright in hopes to slow the rush of blood.

“Stay with me.” I begged, nudging him. “C’mon, I want to hear the track list of the White Album. From the top, let’s go.”

“U.S.S.R… Birthday, Dear Prudence…Yer Blues, Glass Onion, Mother… Nature’s Son, Everybody…” He trailed off and I shook him, trying to keep a grip but my hands kept slipping. I yelled again for the medics just as they came around the corner. I explained in a rush what had happened, stepping aside as they got to work. Derek and Emily showed up as they got him onto the gurney, their eyes scanning the scene and resting on me for answers. My hands, covered in his blood, were shaking horribly.

“Bullet hit an artery.” I said quickly, pushing past them and clambering into the ambulance after the medics. “St. Vincent’s hospital.”

The name of the hospital was all that I could get out before the doors shut and we were on our way. I stayed out of their way as much as possible, although my hands still shook with panic. We only made it about half way there before he passed out, my head spinning at the possibility that they might not be able to save him. He could die. He could be dead in a few minute’s time.

This was all I could think about for the rest of the time. When we reached the hospital I followed after them, going as far as I was allowed and then hovering at the door to the ER as if it would do any good. There was so much that I’d wanted to tell him, it couldn’t end like this. Not because of some idiot kid with a gun and stupid aim and bad luck. After everything he’d been through, all of the psychos and serial killers and demon of his own, this could not be what killed Aaron Hotchner.

Eventually I was directed to the waiting room by a nurse, my feet able to tear themselves away before my mind. Waiting rooms, such a horrible invention. They were too white and too bland; a blank canvas for every fear and worst nightmare and anxious thought to be painted on. A masterpiece made with 6 shades of doubt. A sculpture moulded from raw panic. The blood on my hands was slowly drying, caking on like latex gloves. My leg was twitching, this rerouted fear that quelled the shaking of my hands.

After about fifteen minutes of sitting there looking like a horror story to the other patrons of the hospital, Emily and Spencer showed up. They had the kindness to save any questions for a better time, resolving to take a seat and wait along with me. This team wouldn’t function—I wouldn’t function without Hotch. No one could take his place; not as a Chief, not as a lover, and certainly not as a father for Jack. He’d already lost one parent; I refused to let him lose another. Especially when it could have been avoided. If I’d gone first it would have been me in there, not him. Everyone on the team had been just fine before meeting me. Even Hotch. Even Spencer could make it if I was dead. But not if Hotch was.

After an hour and a half—although it felt much more like a year and a half—a nurse came out into the room. All heads turned to face her, but it was the team and I receiving news. The others’ waiting would continue. She came up to me, the look on her face indecipherable.

“He’s going to make it.” If I hadn’t already been sitting down, I would have collapsed. A whimper escaped me as I went to put my hands to my mouth before remembering the state they were in. “But he’s lost a lot of blood. We’re going to need to know his blood type before we begin any transfusions.”

“Take mine.” I got to my feet, pulling off my vest and tossing it onto the chair behind me. “I’ve got type O blood; just take as much as you need.”

The nurse nodded once, asking me to follow her. I gave one anxious look at the team before going after her. She led me to a room filled with at least two dozen hospital beds, most enclosed by a curtain. She turned to the 9th one on the left and pulled back the curtains. She went to get a chair and some supplies, leaving me to look at his unconscious form. I worked my hand into his, finding peace in the reassuring stability of his heart monitor. His vest was resting at the foot of the bed, his injured arm completely bare where the shirt had been cut away. There was a neat row of stitches on the outside, a precursor to the ones that lined his insides.

“With the anesthetic he’ll probably be out for another half hour or so.” The nurse informed me, motioning for me to sit down. I kept my eyes on him as she rubbed a cotton ball wet with antiseptic along my inner elbow. After she set up the equipment she instructed me to relax as she stuck the needle into my basilic vein. She gave me some juice to drink, insisting that if I refused it I wouldn’t be able to give as much blood as was needed.

It only took about twenty-five minutes until the blood bag was full and ready to go. It was about a pint—all that was allowed to be taken at a time and all that was required. The nurse worked quickly to set up the transfusion, hooking him up to more tubes before twisting a switch and letting my blood flow into him at a monitored rate. She sterilized my arm again and then covered up the spot with a patch before leaving me.

I rubbed my arm, wondering when the rest of the team was going to join us. After a few minutes, though, he began to stir and all thoughts of anything else disappeared from my mind. Immediately I got to my feet, barely giving him a moment to breathe as he sat up before I threw my arms around him. The tears began to come full force as I held on tight, trying to muffle my weeping.

“I thought you were going to die.” I whispered, pulling away. I looked at him for just a moment before crashing my lips against his, reveling in every second spent in his presence. It was only the sound of footsteps that peeled me away, the team finally making their way over. He nodded to them, his arms retracting from around my back until his fingers grazed across the bandage.

“What happened?”

“You needed blood.” I said simply, refusing to step away from his side. He might’ve needed breathing space, it might’ve been considerate to let the others to get close enough to check up on him, but there wasn’t a single atom in my body that had the will to move away. His eyes wandered to the blood bag he was tied up to and he sighed, a thousand you shouldn't haves filling up his silence.

For the rest of the day that we were working the case I became a classic example of the clingy girlfriend. I refused to let him leave the police station—which on doctor’s orders he wasn’t supposed to do much of—without me. My heart just couldn’t handle not knowing he was safe. Even with these setbacks, though, we were able to perfect the profile. With a little help from the guy who’d done the shooting, the unsub was found before he killed again. And as much as Hotch wanted to go out and aid in the arrest, I made him stay behind.

The flight back took us into the night, Spencer and Emily claiming the two couches to get in some sleep. Derek had his headphones in as usual, JJ was on the phone with Will, and Rossi was nodding off in one of the chairs. I sighed, tightening my grip on Hotch’s hand and watching as he continued to fill out paperwork for the case. He looked over at me for a moment before setting the pen down and closing the unfinished report.

“How are you doing?” He asked quietly, turning to face me. I raised an eyebrow, unable to believe the question he’d just asked.

“I wasn’t the one who got shot.” I laughed, curling my feet up on the seat beside me and casting down my eyes. He cast a tentative look around before speaking again.

“But I remember when it was you in the hospital.” He reasoned. I looked up at him. “I know what it’s like to be the one in the waiting room.”

“I just…” I stuttered for a moment. “You’re here, and that’s all that matters.”

For the rest of the flight, and even after it, I barely released his hand. I held onto him as we exited the plane and as we drove to his house. Hand holding was such a greatly underestimated gesture. It deserved to be much more intimate than a kiss or sex or anything like that. When you hold someone’s hand, you feel safe. You feel loved and accepted. You are connected to them in a way that keeps you separate but together at the same time. It was a constant reminder that the other was there, and that you were there for them. It is how you’re reminded that you aren’t alone. In this cold and unforgiving world full of so much bad, you didn’t have to be alone.

When we got inside the house, it was a breath of familiar air. It was a place to call home. The go bags sat side by side on the ground—they would be cleaned up at a later time. We were both tired and ready for sleep, or at least a frail attempt at it. The stairs creaked occasionally as we went up them, the carpet muffling most of the noise. I released his hand rather unwillingly as we separated to get changed. I pulled on what had become the standard—one of his old shirts—before retreating to the bathroom to get cleaned up.

Even after all of the rigorous scrubbing there were still miniscule remnants of blood wedged in the corners of my nails and some stubborn creases. I tried again to wash them off but gave up after a while. I let my hair down out of the pony tail that had been tightened and re-tightened a thousand times over again during the day, ruffling my fingers through it. My fingers brushed against the mark on my neck, and I shook my head at how many times the two of us should have died.

When I went back out into the bedroom Hotch was rolling back the sleeve of his t-shirt, fidgeting with the bandage that now covered his stitches. I shooed his hands away and pulled the sleeve back down, silently scolding him with a single look. He half-smiled at the sight as I turned away, flicking on the lamp before crawling into bed. He switched off the main light before joining me, plunging the room into a muffled glow courtesy of the lamp. I let him get settled before caving and curling up against him, resting my head on his chest and clutching a handful of his shirt. He wound both his arms around me, pressing his lips to my forehead. For a while we just sat there in silence, but the fears that were eating away at me slowly forced themselves out.

“Aaron?” The two-syllables came out barely above a whisper. Sitting up, he mimicked me as I rotated fully to face him properly. My eyes stayed on the white edges of the bandage peeking out of his sleeve as I tried to find the words. “I can’t…I don’t ever not want to be with you.”

“Hey,” He began, moving forward and placing his hands on either side of my face. He waited until I met his eyes before he continued speaking. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“But that’s just it.” I said weakly as his hands lowered to my arms. “There’s always something with this job that puts you in danger and I just…I don’t want to be this secret forever. I don’t want to have to watch myself all the time.”

“I…I know.”

“And I’m not trying to say that I want you to give up or switch your job or anything…I’m saying that maybe I should. We both know we’ll never be able to work at the same place and I want to have a future with you.”

“We’ll think of something. I promise.” I nodded, praying that he was right. He leaned forward and kissed me before we lay back down. I took comfort in the notion that for the moment, things were okay. He was here and he was mine. “Let’s just make it through the week first.”

“I’m sorry for being all clingy today.” I mumbled as he tucked my hair behind my ear. He laughed lightly, asserting that I wasn’t. “Please. Ignoring my insistence that you never left my sight, if pumping you full of my blood isn’t me being an overbearing-girlfriend-making-a-claim, I don’t know what is.”

“Natasha, that was you saving my life not suffocating me. And I hate to say that you’re a little off your game if you read me as not wanting you near me as much as possible.” He reasoned. A stupid smile plastered onto my face despite my attempts to contain it. I pushed myself up, bringing my lips to his.

“I love you.” I said quietly.

“I love you too.” He kissed me again before I reached over and turned off the light. The more I thought about it, the more irritating it was that after every obstacle we’d overcome—usually involving life or death situations—we were prevented from being anything more than an office affair because of our jobs. I made a mental note to bring it up with Emily the next day in hopes of getting some advice. Even if in some parallel universe Hotch wanted to give up his job, I wouldn’t let him. He was much too important to the BAU. I’d find some other job, maybe I’d even get lucky and secure one still within the FBI. I didn’t much mind taking a pay cut.

So long as I was with him.
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Ahh, only five chapters left of this story!

In the meantime, I'm going to do a little more shameless self promotion. Again for my Hugo Stiglitz (Inglourious Basterds) oneshote here, and my five-part Eric Northman (True Blood) story here