Status: complete

All the Madness in the World

Not a Victim

"Bring the past only if you're going to build from it." - Doménico Cieri Estrada


I was physically exhausted: we hadn’t had a real day off in over a week. The last Saturday had been claimed by a life-or-death kidnapping in Maine that lasted through till Monday, and we were called out again on Tuesday and once more on Thursday. Even though I wasn’t at work I still didn’t feel like I had much of a day off: there were still boxes I had to unpack and Jack was having his hockey kickoff party the next day. There were things to cook and clean and put away and not very much time to get any of it done.

That wasn’t even taking into account the fact that there was just over a month left until Christmas and I had yet to buy any gifts. I had most of them planned out, it was just a matter of finding the time to go out and pick them up (and finding a place where Aaron wouldn’t find his; although I considered hiding it at Spencer’s). Part of me wanted to throw a Christmas party, because I knew it would be the perfect (and probably only) way to see everyone at the same time. But thinking about all the planning that would take when I already had so much to do was making me nauseous.

I was gathering up all the newspaper adverts that I’d strewn across the living room table when I ended up knocking a bunch of things onto the ground. With a groan I got onto the ground and started to pick everything up, taking care not to spill my half-finished coffee as well. I promised myself that as soon as I was finished the mug I would start everything I had to (I needed to have finished something by the time Hotch got back from the grocery store) but that promise was making me take my sweet time with the beverage.

I picked up the last few things—some pens, magazines, and a few case files—and found my earpiece amidst them. The green light was on which meant I’d accidently turned it on when it fell. Worried that the frequency may have changed, I brought it close and started fiddling with it when the doorbell rang. I got to my feet, slipping it into my ear and continuing to play with it until I got the correct channel. I opened the door, smiled at the men delivering flowers, and stumbled backwards as they clapped a rag over my mouth.


The cement was cold beneath me, little bits of dirt and rock pressing marks into my skin. Like they owned it; like all they wanted was to be close to me. Or maybe it was just the remnant drug in my system. My head was throbbing and I knew that should get up, but it was just so comfortable. All I wanted to do was sleep. Why? Because I was tired, of course…hadn’t had a day off in…There’s no cement in the bedroom. Only in the basement—was I in the basement? Did I fall down the stairs? No, too bright. I had to sit up.

With a groan and sloth-like movements I pushed myself until I was sitting upright. Along with the sudden rush of blood to the head, I was consumed by an alarming fear. This giant worn down warehouse was definitely not my home. It took a moment for my eyes to properly adjust to the brightness and I was in the process of pulling at the earpiece when I noticed that I wasn’t alone.

My heart stopped at the sight of them: they were all lying there, mutually unconscious. Garcia, Will, Strauss, that was bad enough; but lying there with their tiny little bodies were Jack and Henry. I was frozen until I fixed my earpiece, knowing that if there was any chance at communication I would need it. I checked myself for anything else they might’ve missed, but they’d left me blank. No cellphone, nothing to use as a weapon except for my training and instincts. I figured my hair must’ve covered the earpiece and I was saying silent prayers as I moved to the person I would be relying on the most.

I gave myself thirty seconds to panic; thirty seconds to lose myself in fear and terror and worry before I came back to the surface and focused. My hand gripped Will’s arm tightly as I shook him, letting him slowly come back to consciousness. Why us? Why were we targeted and brought to this place? There was only one possible desire out of this, and that was money. A lot of money. Will was for JJ, Garcia was for Morgan, Jack was for Hotch, the kids were just shock value, and Strauss, she must’ve been there to make us choose. There would no doubt be negotiations to take place, they’d have to let some people go. And they wanted to make the decision somewhat easy.

“Don’t panic.” I whispered, clapping my hand over Will’s mouth as he realized what had happened. The channel on my earpiece was quiet which meant we couldn’t have been out long: no one knew we were gone yet. Where were our captors? Will didn’t need to ask any questions: he was a cop, I knew he’d have the same thought process and instincts as I did. We woke the others, explaining for them to stay calm.

“N’Tasha?” Jack’s eyes were wide, a panic on his features that nearly brought me to tears. I held him close, promising that everything was going to be alright, before handing him to Garcia to keep safe. Will was clutching Henry against him, cocooning him from the place we were in. He took a deep breath and turned to me.

“What are our options here?” He asked quietly as I scanned the warehouse. There were plenty of windows, but none of them low enough for us to escape through. There was a room off to the right but it seemed to end before the building did. There was a hallway not too far from the room as well, and that was my best bet for where the exit was. Other than that there was a set of cellar doors in the floor about a hundred feet from the hallway. With no machines or furniture to take cover behind, we didn’t have much to work with. I made sure to keep my voice in a whisper.

“Kidnapping with intent of extortion, we’re probably in the middle of nowhere. No phones. I’ve got my earpiece but no one’s tuned in. We wait for them to make the first move and take it from there.”

As the last word left my mouth three men stepped out of the closed off room, each grasping a flashy firearm. Kept in plain sight to intimidate, to prove that they mean business. Immediately I could tell that we were dealing with three completely different types of people. This wasn’t some job pawned off onto three low-levels who wanted to make their way up in whatever organization they were a part of; these guys were hired to get the job done right.

The first man, the one with the frown on his face and bloodlust riddling his body language, he was my main concern. He held himself as if this was fun, as if he knew the day would bring him something worthwhile. He kept his finger on the trigger, the gun bearing hand rising slightly every now and again as he eyed us, lining up his targets in desired order of killing.

The man who followed but stood ahead of him seemed calm, in complete control of his body language and emotions. He looked over each of us with a calculated stare, making logistical and strategic decisions. The way he held himself, the way the others looked to him, this was the leader.

It was the last man I was most interested in, though. He was much less confident, significantly less sure of himself and his place amongst the others than his cohorts. He shied away from the firearm in his grasp, stayed farthest away from us all, and looked at the group of hostages as if getting too close would make him one of us. He was going to be our ticket out of this place; I just had to figure out an angle.

“I’m going to ask ya not to do anything foolish, alrigh’?” He had a heavy Irish accent, and the first thought that came to my head terrified me. Emily had gone through an entire ordeal with notable ex-IRA member Ian Doyle—what if this wasn’t extortion at all, what if this was some sort of payback? “If ya look around, you’ll see I’ve got the place wired with enough C4 to bring the whole building down.”

“What do you want?” Will asked as Garcia covered Jack’s ears. I couldn’t look at him, couldn’t catch a glimpse of his face because I knew it would break my concentration. If I let the fear in then we’d never make it out of this. At the question the leader came up to us, crouching in front of me.

“I want you, my dear, to call the supervisor and explain the situation.” He said, handing me a cellphone and nodding for me to dial. My heart was racing but I punched in the number, putting it to my ear and watching as man raised his gun to Strauss. “And please love, play by the rules. You tell him who we’ve taken and that we’ve got an account waiting for a transfer of two-hundred million.”

“Hello?” The thing inside my chest skipped a beat at the sound of his voice and for a moment I forgot that I had a role to play in all of this.

“Hotch, it’s me.” I said quietly, staring the leader in the eyes. “We’ve got a situation.”

“What’s wrong?” He asked, voice completely switching into agent mode. I took a deep breath.

“The following people along with me have been taken hostage by an unknown group: William LaMontagne Jr., Penelope Garcia, Erin Strauss, Henry LaMontange, and Jack. We’re unharmed so far, but there’s a request for a transfer of two-hundred million dollars into an account.”

He was silent for ten seconds, the plans already starting in his mind of what he had to do and who he had to call before he responded. “Put him on the phone.”

“He wants to talk to you.” I said, holding out the phone, but the leader shook his head.

“You just tell him we’ll be calling again in two hours for a status report. They have until six o’clock to make the transfer or we start shooting.”

After a moment I relayed the message, taking my time while trying to think of a way to tell him about the earpiece. It would have to be something only he or the team would understand. “I have to go. But Hotch, before you go please don’t forget to fix the baby’s hearing aid or he’ll be helpless.”

“What the hell was that?” The angrier of the men asked as the leader took back the phone. He came right up to me, pressing the gun to my skull and ignoring Jack’s cries. “Was that some sort of code? Trying to pull one over on us?”

“Mickey, calm down.” The quieter one said from the far wall. This seemed to infuriate Mickey even more, and he crossed to the man and shoved him.

“We don’t use names you bloody fool!”

“That’s enough.” The leader said calmly, looking up at me. “What baby? We know you don’t have a child.”

“Not my kid, the baby of a friend I know from this counselling thing…” I stammered out, giving him the small amount of panic he expected from someone in my position. Make him believe. Give him the power—for now. “Hotch was on his way over to watch the baby for an hour—”

“Alright.” He held up his hand for me to stop and went back to his group members. The quiet one let another name slip, Sal. The leader. He was apologizing for what happened but Sal assured him, Dino, that there was no problem. Mickey, Sal, and Dino. Irish. When we got the account number we might be able to do some tracing—except that our best technical analyst was stuck in here with us. But I trusted in the team to at least solve the riddle—at least, I knew Spencer would.

Who was always being teased about being the baby of the team? Spencer was. He would be able to work out that the only reference to a hearing aid that would make any sense in the current context would be an earpiece. He was helpless with no communication, but if he turned his on we could talk. He would get this, I knew he would.

He had to.

I turned to the others, facing my back to the three men and I looked around at their faces. Garcia was still really shaken up about everything, and Strauss was sort of distanced from the whole situation. She wasn’t a field agent; she hadn’t worked the field a day in her life. This was so far out of her element it was practically a different world.

“Alright,” I said quietly, talking barely above a whisper. “Spencer will figure out to turn on his earpiece soon, and we’ll go from there. We are going to make it out of this. Pen, don’t look at me when I talk, just focus on Jack, okay?”

“Okay.” She whispered, holding him close. I turned to Will, looking down at the child in his arms before meeting his eyes. Neither of us were feeling too confident about things.

“N’Tasha?” The small voice came from Garcia’s arms; restricted, afraid. He turned in her grasp to look at me, eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “Are we gonna die?”

“Of course not, sweetie.” I said firmly, motioning for him to come over to me. He looked at the men in the distance before making a quick dash to my arms, wrapping his tiny hands into the folds of my shirt and laying his head against my chest. “We’re going to be just fine. You’ve got your hockey party tomorrow, remember? You’re going to see all your team mates and there’ll be cake and chips and those little curly fries that you like. Maybe we can bring some ice cream too, would you like that?”

“Mhm.” He mumbled against me. I looked up at the ceiling, focusing on the defunct industrial style halogen lights so that I wouldn’t cry. I kept my eyelids wide open so the tears would dry out quicker, praying that at the end of the day I was getting this kid back to his father.

“Tasha?” I sighed in relief at the sound of Spencer’s voice in my ear. I lowered my voice to a whisper, giving him a more detailed account of the situation. “Kevin’s running trace on your location, everyone’s on their way in now.”

“I’m going to Morse code you three names, I need you to see if the last three have any relation to the first.”

Using comforting Jack as a rouse, I brought my right hand up to the microphone and began tapping out the four names: Ian Doyle, Mickey, Sal, Dino. He repeated them back to me to confirm that he had them right and then promised me he was going to get us out.

“Let’s just worry about finding where we are first.” I teased, my feeble attempt at making myself feel better about the situation. “Is anyone else going to be on the channel?”

“We’re all here, Natasha.” Emily said softly. I gave one last status update promising everyone that none of us were hurt, before calling for a break before one of the men figured out I wasn’t talking to Jack anymore. They promised to keep me updated, but it was enough just to know they were all there. When the channel went quiet I returned my attention to the people I was with, not the people I was missing.

To pacify Jack (and to give me something to focus on) I began to quietly sing a lullaby, gently rocking him back and forth. I knew he wasn’t going to fall asleep—how could he in a situation like ours—but it calmed him nonetheless. Until Mickey snapped for me to shut up, and Dino spoke up in my defense, and then they started arguing again.

It couldn’t have been longer than forty minutes when Spencer’s voice was in my ear, telling me they were five minutes away. We’d been taken to the outskirts of the old industrial district, off a road that had been closed down years ago. As much as I wanted to tell everyone else, I needed to keep the news of the team’s imminent arrival to myself. They needed to be just as surprised as the trio when the SUVs showed up so they would know it wasn’t us who called them.

It was a good plan, too, because as the gravel started grinding under tires and the sirens began to wail, Mickey was the one to stare each of us down, looking for the culprit. Immediately he came over to us, waving a gun from person to person and demanding to know which one of us did it.

“If you don’t fuckin’ answer me I’m gonna put a bullet in that boy’s head!” He roared, shoving the gun towards Jack. I clutched him closely, turning away while screaming that we’d been stuck here the whole time.

“Oi, back off!” Sal ordered, grabbing hold of Mickey and pulling him away. “You took their phones, didn’t you? You’ve been watching them since they woke up, aye? Maybe it’s this bloody phone you’ve given me. Maybe it’s not so untraceable.”

“The phone is fine!” Mickey hissed, staring Sal down. “Don’t you try to put this on me. This is your fault; you’re the one supposed to be in charge here, mate.”

The sirens stopped and everything outside was silent for a few minutes. Sal was peeking into the side room where I assumed there were eye-level windows, surveying the scene. And then, a familiar voice. Rossi was talking through the megaphone, announcing his name and asking to speak to whoever was in charge so that they could start negotiations. Sal was statuesque, his mind clearly racing as he tried to make the best call. After a few minutes he pulled the phone out of his pocket and came up to me. He told me to get rid of Jack and I handed him off to Garcia, taking the phone and dialing the number as he directed.

“Now you repeat after me, alright?” I nodded, and began to relay everything I was told to Rossi. “This change of events has put a noose on our plans, and it’s going to get tighter and tighter until you agree to give us what we want. You’re about to see that we are not playing around. Two hundred million US. The terms of negotiation are this: have the money ready by three o’clock and your people will be released. Fail to do so and they will all die. Attempt to send anyone in and we will detonate the building and we will all die. Two hundred million. Three o’clock.”

He pulled the phone away from me, slamming it shut and getting to his feet. With a heavy sigh he looked at all of us, shaking his head. I looked over at Will, trying to wordlessly ask if he had any plans, but our exchange was cut off by Sal’s next orders.

“Take one to the front room where they can see and send a serious message.” He walked over to where Dino was in the corner, having a quiet conversation with him as Mickey approached the group. After a quick once-over he nodded to Strauss.

“Let’s go, Granny.” He grabbed Strauss by the arm, causing both Will and I to jump to our feet.

“Not her, take me instead.” I said quickly, looking Mickey in the eyes as Will rambled off about the stupidity of my request, that he should be the one to be chosen. It was like he didn’t even exist in Mickey’s mind.

“Don’t.” Strauss said quietly.

“No time for heroism, lass.” He said dismissively, moving forward with his plan but staring at me when I grabbed hold of Strauss.

“You guys aren’t idiots, you did your research on us.” I reasoned, praying he would take the bait as Will kept talking, getting closer and closer to the man. “I’ve got family out there and I’m sleeping with the guy in charge. They care more about me than they do about her.”

“You’re right.” He said simply, releasing Strauss and grabbing a fistful of my hair. Will nearly leapt at him, fire pouring out of his eyes.

“Yeah I bet that makes you feel like a big strong man, beatin’ a woman at gunpoint, don’t it?” He hissed. “Why don’t you be a man and fight one yourself.”

“Sorry mate,” He shrugged, pulling my head back and speaking against my ear. “But this one looks like a screamer.”

He pushed a gun to my back and released me, motioning towards the front room. I tried to keep calm, reminding myself that I had made it through much, much worse than this. When we got to the doorway he shoved me inside. I could see them all, the whole team and the backup, all standing back a safe distance as tents were being built up around them, technology being set up. I couldn’t look at their faces in the distance, couldn’t bring myself to make out their shapes amongst the crowd.

Wasting no time at all, he sucker punched me so hard it made my head spin. I barely had time to recover, to regain control of my body enough to raise my hand to my bloody lip, before he was generously spawning bruises all over my body. The kicks and punches and knees to the gut; I didn’t know the extent of my injuries but I knew it fucking hurt. I had tried so hard not to give him what he wanted, not to cry out or scream, purely for the sake of everyone who was stuck out there listening to me. The worst of it though was the final blow; I don’t know if it was just a breaking point or a particularly hard hit but it tore whatever part of me had been healing since the fiasco with Ares. A scream left me that I couldn’t control, my nails digging into the cement as tears welled in my eyes. He seemed satisfied after this, but didn’t give me a moment to breath before grabbing me by the hair and pulling me up. He smashed me against the glass where everyone could see me, putting the gun to my head and pretending to shoot.

“Run along to your friends now, deary.”

He left the room, knowing there was nothing left in me to threaten him. Well, almost nothing. I leaned against the wall, wincing with every breath. I had to pretend it didn’t hurt to move, had to get back to everyone else and figure out a way out of this. After a few moments I shuffled back to our spot on the ground, putting on a weak smile to calm the anger in Will’s eyes and the tears in Penelope’s. Strauss was staring at me wide-eyed, her own eyes watering.

“Hey, I’m practically a pro at getting my ass kicked.” I shrugged off, trying to sit In the least painful position. “It looks a lot worse than it is.”

“I’m coming in.” Hotch was saying in my ear, causing my heart to flutter into a panic.

“Don’t.” I hissed, catching the others off-guard. “Hotch you can’t. Not now. I’m fine, just—just give us some time to work this out.”

“You’re not fine, you need medical attention.” He argued. I sighed, not being able to deny it but not wanting to give him the satisfaction of me agreeing. He didn’t need another reason to want to come charging in; so I had to give him a reason to stay where it was safe.

“You know,” I began loudly, drawing the attention of the three men as I turned to face them. “You’ve done a great job at showing them all you’re not kidding around when it comes to disposing of us. But you haven’t exactly shown them you’ll be willing to hold up your end of the bargain if they comply.”

“What are you saying?” Sal asked carefully, genuinely listening to what I was proposing.

“I’m saying that the way these things work, the way they always pan out in favour of you guys, is you give them a sign of good faith. If you promise to let us go when the deal is done, you need to let some of us go to prove you’re being honest.”

“Right, so you can run off and play secret agents with your friends, aye?” Mickey challenged, grip tightening on the gun.

“I’m not asking you to let me go, I’m asking you to let the children go.” Sal was silent for a moment before he turned to the other two. They began to discuss the proposition, Mickey and Dino acting like a devil and angel perched on his shoulders. I took the opportunity to turn to Will, lowering my voice. “If this works and we get them out you have to keep your cool. You know they’re just waiting for you to give them an excuse to beat you up so just try to stay calm, alright?”

“You can’t be serious, Sal!” Mickey roared from behind us. Sal raised his hand to silence the man and took a few steps closer to us.

“Send them out.” He nodded. I knew that I was about to push my luck, but I figured he was about as open to negotiations right now as he was ever going to be.

“And Garcia too.” I said, nodding. His eyebrows furrowed at Mickey started going on about how I was playing him. “Playing you? If you did your research half as well as you think you did, you’d know that her condition requires medication every three hours. How good do you think a dead body is going to look to those guys?”

“Dino?” Sal called without facing him. His eyes were fixed on me, watching for the slightest tell of lying.

“I—I don’t know, sir. I just got the addresses, Shane did the details but he’s gone underground and all.”

“Well I’m not going to risk it. Send her out.” Sal sighed, rubbing the back of his head. His carefully planned hostage situation was crumbling before his eyes. He moved his eyes from me, to Will, to Strauss, and back. “If things get any more fucked up you three are going to be suffering a whole lot more than a few bruises.”

“Understood.” I nodded quickly before turning to Penelope. “You need to go, now.”

“I—I don’t want to leave you and—”

“Penelope, you need to get the kids out of here, okay?” I kissed the top of Jack’s head, promising him that he was safe now, before forcing Penelope to get up. Will handed over Henry after saying his goodbyes and we watched as Dino escorted the three of them towards the hallway. This was the flaw in their plan, in their research: they knew us as names and positions and relations. They didn’t know that Garcia was the best tech analyst we had; that if anyone could make a connection as to who these guys were it was her. Sal and Mickey were standing at the entrance to the front room, watching half of their hostages disappear.

“Derek?” I called quietly, facing my back to them and gripping the pained spot in my abdomen.

“I’m here, baby girl.” He was talking the way he did when I’d been in the hospital. His tone was making me feel worse than I already did.

“You need to keep her focused, okay? You guys are working a case. She needs to work her magic.”

“I got you.”

“And Derek?” I added, spitting out the blood in my mouth. “Don’t you dare let anyone come in here.”

“As long as you don’t give me a reason to.”

“We’re practically giving these people away now!” Mickey complained as the three of them met against the back wall. “This is your fault, you well-to-do fucker.”

“How is this my fault?” Dino asked, exhibiting the first bit of confidence I’d seen the entire day. “I wasn’t the one who brought the cops.”

“Well you’re sure actin’ like you’re on their side now, aren’t ya? Sending all their people back like bloody Christmas gifts! I don’t know why they keep you around, mate, you’re a waste of fuckin’ space and you haven’t got the balls for this job.”

“Oi, fuck you, man!” Sal rolled his eyes, leaving the two of them and walking toward the front room. He leaned in the doorway, holding the phone in his hand and thinking. “Just cause I don’t think killin’ people’s the greatest thing in the world doesn’t make me less than you! At least I’ve got the balls to make the right decisions and not think with my fucking trigger.”

“What the fuck did you just say to me?” He demanded, eyes wild as he took a step towards Dino. He hesitated a moment before raising the gun. Three things happened so quickly I almost couldn’t tell them apart: Mickey yelled the question again, Dino ducked, and a bullet flew into Sal’s head, painting the wall with his blood.

My heart dropped as Sal’s body did, the other two filling with panic just like we were. Hotch was in my ear asking what had happened, who was shot, if I was there, if I could hear him, but I feared if I said a word Mickey would turn the gun on me. As soon as he snapped out of his daze and began to curse up a storm I quickly and quietly relayed the series of events while trying to make a new plan. It was hard enough before, but the only mediator in this entire situation had just been gunned down by his own man. Mickey was going to take control now, and that was the last thing we wanted.

There was chaos for a few minutes as the two remaining men freaked out about what had just happened. When they calmed down Mickey went over to Sal’s body, rifling through the pockets until he found a small box with a button inside. He pocketed what could only be the detonator, before prying the cell phone out of the dead man’s hand and stomping over to me. He put the bloody phone in my hand and held a gun up to my head.

“Call.” He ordered as he pulled out a sheet of paper with some numbers on it. My fingers wasted no time in calling the familiar number. “Tell him things have changed. They’ve got one hour to get all of the money ready and deposit it into this account before we start killing people. And lass I’m going to start with you.”

He barely let me finish the sentence before he took the phone away. Now I was starting to panic even more. There was no more time to waste; if one more thing set him off then he’d give up entirely and just kill us all. I looked at Dino, trying to figure out what angle I could possibly work on him. He was our only ticket out, that much I knew.

“Will, I’ve got a plan. You need to be ready to run on my word. When you get there you tell everyone to get back in case the place blows.”

“You can tell them your damn self, Tasha.” He dismissed. “You keep that plan to yourself until we find a way for us all to get out.”

“I’m not asking your permission, okay? I’m telling you to be ready.”

“And I’m telling you that you ain’t in no shape to be playing 007 right now!” He hissed. I sighed, closing my eyes and opening them only when I was calm again.

“I need you to get Strauss to safety, her life is more important than mine. If you try and play the hero this will all be for nothing and one of us will end up dead. Think about Henry, think about JJ, they need you.”

“And how am I supposed to look Hotch or Reid in the face if something happens to you?” He challenged, lowering his voice and drawing closer. “I can’t just leave you here. I won’t.”

“Will please. You’ll have about thirty seconds.” I turned from him to Erin, nodding to her. “Strauss, can you make it in time?”

“I don’t know if being the hero is the best strategy here, agent.” She reasoned, clearly just as unhappy with this idea was Will was.

“With all due respect ma’am, that man is far too trigger happy to let us out alive, money or not.” I wished the both of them luck before turning around to Dino. Getting to my feet, I winced at the pain and made myself look extra breakable: nonthreatening. I tilted my head down and looked up at him: submissive. “You got a bathroom I could use?”

“Uh…”He paused for a moment, looking over at Mickey before turning back to me. “Hands behind your head, walk slowly to the front room.”

I followed his instructions and entered the bathroom which was just as derelict as the rest of the place. It was covered in dirt and grime and I was certain different animals had called the place home over the years. The mirror was completely covered in dirt, and the whole place smelled foul. I asked him to turn around so I could have some privacy but he refused so I shrugged, going up to the toilet and working at the button on my jeans.

He was watching, too focused on the action of my hands to defend himself as I leapt at him. One punch to the face to disorient him, one knee to the chest to knock the wind out of him. The gun fit into my hand as I held it up to his head, demanding silence as he began to curse.

“I swear if you make a sound I’ll blow your goddamn brains out.” I hissed, taking a moment to get over the pain. “Hotch are you there?”

“What’s going on?”

“I’ve got Dino at gunpoint. I’m going to send out Will and Strauss first, then I’ll use him as a cover so I can get out. I’m sure Mickey’s not going to let that happen so you should put the perimeter back. He’ll much rather blow the place and kill himself in the process than let me escape.”

“Natasha, be careful.” He warned, not very pleased with my chosen course of action. At my command Dino lay flat on his stomach with his hands behind his back, and I pressed my foot against his head to keep him down as I took the belt from my waist and tied his hands together. I pulled him up and kept him in front of me, the gun pressing against his head as I slowly led him back to the main room. Mickey immediately raised his gun, filling with rage at the sight before him.

“Make one move and I’ll shoot.” I said stiffly before telling Will to get out.

“She’s got a wire, Mick!” Dino yelled before I hit him hard against the back of the head with the gun. Will and Strauss were on their feet, hovering between my hostage and the exit as Mickey released a yell.

“Motherfucker!” He roared. Without waiting a heartbeat he pulled the trigger, killing Dino on the spot. I jumped back from the body as it slumped to the floor, his blood dripping down my front as I froze. Mickey turned the gun on the others and I shot him in the arm.

“Get out! Now!” I cried, running towards the exit along with them. Mickey was releasing a shower of bullets towards us as he ran after. He tackled me to the floor just before I turned the corner into the hallway, throwing my gun away and keeping me pinned as he continued to shoot at the others. They made it out and he cursed again, refocusing his attention on me as I tried to get out from under him. He was too strong and I was too injured and before I had time to think about anything else to try he was heaving me up by my hair and dragging me to the middle of the room.

He ripped my earpiece out, crushing it under the heel of his boot. Holding a gun at me and taking a few steps back he took out the phone and hit redial. Things were far too messed up at this point for him to waste any time, he just got straight to the point.

“Do you have the money?” Whatever the response was he didn’t seem too happy about it. “Do you have the fucking money or not? You have ten fucking seconds to wire the money before I blow the building!”

He began to count down and I knew there was nothing anyone outside could do for me. Ten seconds was too short for anyone to get inside, and even if they made it he’d blow the entire building up if he saw anyone. But all I could do was think about them all out there, and how there wasn’t a single part of me that wanted to go down without a fight. I just needed to think.

Mickey was running high with emotions. He was unstable. He had good reflexes, but could he really be completely focused when he was juggling a bomb threat, extortion, hostage subduing, and bargaining? All I needed was the right moment. Five seconds. I kept all of their names, all of their faces in my mind. Four seconds. Aaron, Spencer, Derek, Emily, Jennifer, Penelope, David, Will, Jack; I had to try for them. Three seconds. He was preparing for the kill, pressing the phone between his ear and shoulder as his thumb danced around the cliché red button in his left hand.

When he got to two I charged at him, knocking him over. Everything went flying in different directions: the gun, the detonator, the cellphone he crushed with his foot. We struggled on the ground, each trying desperately to get the upper hand over the other, but he ended up kneeing the spot he knew he’d injured and pushing me off of him. He scrambled for the detonator and I crawled towards the gun, turning to face him just as he pushed the button. My heart was racing and he looked to the right where a small digital clock began to count down from thirty.

He threw the now useless box at me as a distraction as he ran off to the doors in the middle of the floor. I fired off a shot at him but it went wide; I pulled myself up to my feet and ignored how much my body was screaming as I ran after him. He got down into the hidden passage, managing to close one door before I fired off another shot, nearly getting his hand.

Abandoning the other door he ran out of my sight. The timer was ticking; but even if I left the building now I wouldn’t make it far enough away. I trusted my instinct; I trusted his natural desire to live. He knew something about whatever cellar he was running into and with twenty seconds on the clock I followed after him. It led down to a large room and I watched him disappear into the hallway at the far end.

Without hesitating I ran after him, doing everything I could to match his pace. As I turned a final bend I saw light pouring in through the cracks of what could only be an exit door just before the whole place began to shake. I braced myself against the wall, slamming my eyes shut as everything rumbled. Clouds of smoke rushed into the hallway and pieces of the ceiling fell down. At one point I heard Mickey cry out, but I could barely see or breathe well enough to give a damn.

I waited a solid sixty seconds, covering my nose and mouth with the top of my shirt before moving at all. After I composed myself I went in the direction of the exit, stepping over blocks of brick and cement. I found Mickey under a pile of bricks, begrudgingly feeling for a pulse. He was alive, which meant I had to bring him up. Despite how badly I wanted to just beat him senseless, he was our best chance at finding out what the hell this entire fiasco was about.

Leaving the gun behind, I freed his body from the rubble and went up to the cellar doors that led outside. They were partially blocked by debris, so I braced myself on the walls and kicked hard at them until one of them budged. With a deep breath I grabbed hold of Mickey’s arms, heaving him up the stairs and out into the sunlight.

The dust was still settling and I couldn’t see much, but I gathered I was at the front of the building and began to walk. Things began to clear the closer I got until finally I could see distant forms of people. Whether or not they saw me I didn’t know, but they were close enough to hear me if I yelled. Heaving the body a little bit further I stopped, catching my breath.

“He needs a medic!” I yelled, swaying on the spot. Someone was running towards me, but I was losing all strength in my legs. Of course it was Hotchner, and as I finally gave in and collapsed to the ground he was there to catch me. I wrapped my arms around him, shaking as I processed everything that had happened. I tightened my grip as I began to cry. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

He pulled away just enough to kiss me, but the sight of the tears in his eyes only made me feel worse. I stammered out an explanation of what happened as he helped me to my feet, guiding me back to the others as the medics came to tend to Mickey. Spencer was standing at the outskirts of the perimeter, eyes red and cheeks soaked. I took him into my arms, apologizing a thousand times over and thanking God that I’d made it back to him.

“I thought I’d lost you again.” He said, his skinny arms holding me in a death grip. I apologized again, not knowing what else to say until he released me. Derek was shaking his head at me.

“You can’t keep pulling this shit, T-Bird.” He cursed, kissing my forehead as I hugged him. Emily came over to me, smiling despite the tears.

“Natasha you need a medic more than he does.” She scolded. I laughed, nodding my head as JJ came over. She looked absolutely distraught, and she could barely manage any words until she was holding me.

“Thank you.” She said quietly, pulling away. “I can’t…Words can’t explain. I owe you everything.

“You don’t owe me a damn thing, JJ.”

“You ain’t gonna be in this field much longer if you keep making plans like that.” Will teased, gently putting his arms around me. “But thank you. Really.”

“Please stop acting like I just stopped World War Three.” I whined, turning to face Rossi as he tapped my shoulder. He placed his hand on the side of my cheek and smiled.

“I’m glad you’re okay, kid.”

“Natasha,” Penelope began, the sign of her oncoming rambling apparent even as she walked towards me. “I know that you’re going to say you were just doing your job and that no one needs to thank you but I don’t think you fully appreciate the fact that if you hadn’t done everything you did we would likely be suffering some horrible kind of death or possibly even—”

“Penelope, breathe.” I laughed, placing my hands on her shoulders. She took a deep breath and sighed, wrapping her arms around me. She settled for thanking me and promising a big bouquet of flowers every day for the next month. I finally made my way over to the last person waiting for me: a mildly shaken but mostly composed Strauss.

“I’m sorry. I don’t think this is exactly what you had in mind when you said you wanted to observe us in the field.”

“This is why I work behind a desk.” She remarked lightly before taking a more serious tone. “But as far as I’m concerned, you two are fit to work alongside each other. I’ll fill out the paperwork first thing Monday morning.”
♠ ♠ ♠
Next chapter will be an epilogue and (regrettably) the last installment!

Wow sorry this is like eleven pages long, I planned for it to be a lot shorter haha but what can you do?