Status: complete

All the Madness in the World


"Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man." - Friedrich Nietzsche


“You ready to go?” I stuck my head in Hotch’s office, disrupting him from his seemingly endless pile of paperwork. His eyebrows furrowed and I sighed, knowing at once he’d forgotten completely.


“We’re all supposed to go to Malone’s for dinner.” I crossed my arms and stood up straight, giving him a look.

“Right, that was tonight…I think I’ll have to take a rain check.”

“Uh-uh. If you don’t take a break your damn hand is going to fall off. C’mon Bossman, we’re all waiting on you.”

He sighed but eventually gave in, knowing that I was right—and I believed that deep down he did want some sort of break too, and this was as close as we were going to get. We all piled into our cars and drove to the nearby restaurant, a place that had become a favourite of the team’s long before my arrival. It was a homey little place, nothing fancy or anything. It had a bar at one end and some darts and pool at the other, the tables simple.

There were eight of us who made it—Garcia missing out in favour of date night with her boyfriend and fellow FBI tech analyst Kevin Lynch, while JJ’s husband Will had managed to find a babysitter and therefore joined us. I took a seat between Emily and Derek, shrugging off my jacket and picking up the menu at the request of my growling stomach. A plethora of comfort food was available: burgers and nachos and all things deep fried. After about five minutes of debating we all placed our orders and relaxed into the atmosphere bereft of ringing phones and paperwork and the darkest depths of human ambition.

“So Natasha, JJ tells me you came all the way from Chicago?” Will asked, arm draped around his wife.

“Actually I started out in Vegas. I got my degree in criminal justice and joined the LVPD right out of university. I only stayed there for about three years, though.”

“How come?” JJ asked.

“My dad was a cop on the force—he was killed on duty when I was twelve—and some of the other cops were under the impression I was only let in out of sympathy. Not exactly the kind of environment you’d want to be in.” I laughed, taking my drink from the waitress and thanking her. “So I put in for a transfer to the Chicago PD where I was partnered with this complete asshole. Totally self-centred, always flirting with me, thought he was the most wonderful thing on the planet.”

“The most wonderful and handsome thing on the planet.” Derek corrected, nudging me. “You can’t just leave out the important parts.”

“You were partnered with Morgan?” Emily gave me a sympathetic look.

“He wasn’t half-bad. We only worked together for two years before he moved up in the world.”

“And my poor little T-Bird had to learn to fend for herself.” He teased, slinking an arm around my shoulder that I shrugged off before hitting his arm.

“Is T-Bird a reference we’re supposed to get?” Rossi asked with a cocked eyebrow.

“It’s actually a reference to a leather jacket that Tash used to wear,” Spence began in his whirlwind-way of speaking. “Which Morgan thought resembled the type of jackets worn in the movie Grease by the main male characters who dubbed themselves as the Thunderbirds or T-Birds for short mostly because of the vehicles they drove—it’s also a play on her nickname of Tasha, which can be shortened to T, thus the nickname T-Bird.”

“Thank you, Boy Genius.” Morgan teased before turning to me. “Hey how come I never see you wearing that thing anymore? It made you look mean.”

“It got real beat up and started falling apart so I had to ditch it.”

The food arrived, Derek wasting no time in digging in to his plate of ribs. Emily and I got a big plate of nachos to share that, despite the cheese still steaming with heat, we hurried to ingest. It was odd being out with so many people at once—I’d kept a much smaller circle in Chicago—but it was refreshing in a way. Several different conversations could be going on at once but it still felt like one cohesive unit. After about fifteen minutes the waitress came by again and put a daiquiri in front of me, explaining it was from ‘the gentleman at the bar’.

“Derek,” I groaned, pushing the drink away from me and refusing to look at the bar. “We’ve got a 507T”

“507…A public nuisance?” Will asked but I shook my head as Derek sighed, setting down the food in his hand.

“507T. It’s part of this pact we made to sort of look out for each other.” I explained weakly, nudging Derek to hurry up.

“Baby girl, unless you want barbeque sauce in your hair you better gimme a minute to clean up.” He scolded, wiping his hands until they were clean before draping an arm around me and pressing his lips to my forehead. “You’re crazy, you know that right?”

“You’ve been kind enough to point it out multiple times.”

“What’s a 507T?” Emily asked, casting a glance over at the bar.

“Someone giving her attention she didn’t want whenever we went out.” He stole a nacho from my plate as I looked over at Emily.

“He pulled it quite a few times too, don’t let him fool you.” I explained. “But I don’t date—and if I did, it certainly wouldn’t be guys I found at a bar.”

“Well you better cozy up because this one is coming to you.” Emily raised her eyebrows and took a sip of her drink as I tried to look as unapproachable as possible. The table fell quiet as the man approached, standing awkwardly at the end of the table and keeping his hands in his pockets. He cleared his throat once and stammered a minute before speaking.

“Uh—hi Natasha.” My eyebrows furrowed as I looked over at the mystery man, a sense of guilt and embarrassment filling me up as I realized my mistake.

“Darren, hi!” I slipped out of Derek’s grasp and excused myself from the team, going over to the bar and taking a seat across from Darren. He looked better than he had the last time I’d seen him, he’d managed to shave and his hair didn’t look so crazy. He still had all of the tiredness and grief in his eyes, though. “I’m so sorry about that, it’s a reflex for me to ignore any free drinks and—”

“Nah, don’t worry about it. I didn’t take it personally.” He gave me a weak smile and I nodded, placing my hand on his arm.

“How have you been? We missed you last week.”

“Chelsea was in a play at school. But I’m…better. I think. There’s not that…” He motioned to his chest area. “That heaviness here. Sometimes I can breathe again”
“That’s really good.” I smiled. “Have you been writing the letters?”

“Yeah, actually…” He shuffled through his pockets and produced a piece of paper folded up into a square. Only one in a sequence of letters he’d written to the wife he lost to a drunk driver a year ago. “This is the last one.”

“I’m happy for you, Darren. You’re doing really well.”

“Well, I couldn’t have done it without you guys so just…I mean, thank you doesn’t even cover it.”

“You don’t have to say thank you. Just know that you’ve got my number if you ever need to talk.”

“Hopefully I won’t need it.” He smiled. “Anyways, I’ll let you get back to your friends—Andrea’s bringing Chelsea by soon so I should get home.”

“It was nice seeing you, Darren.” I embraced him before he left and I returned to the table. “Sorry about that.”

“Who was that?” Spencer asked.

“I do grief counselling with Penelope a few nights a week, that was one of the members.” I pulled apart some chips and loaded them up with salsa.

“How do you find the time for that?” Hotch asked and I shrugged.

“You make the time, I guess.”

The truth is, it’s just so much easier to forget your own problems when you’re drowning in everyone else’s. The best kind of work was the kind that you could lose yourself in: and with no shortage of paperwork at the FBI and an ever expanding pool of people needing to talk at group I had found my niche. Who had time to worry about their own life when the whole wide world needed looking after? Who had time to pause and think when the next day needed planning, the previous day needed fixing, the current day needed an ending?

I told Emily to remind me to give her back the necklace that had gotten mixed up in my things when we’d gone shopping the previous weekend. It was strange—although, ultimately comforting—how quickly she and I had become close. It was a spontaneous feeling of deep trust, the sisterhood-like bond that you feel in high school when surrounded by girls you can’t ever imagine leaving. Can’t ever imagine losing.

When I excused myself to go wash my hands Emily came with me. I thought about the unwritten rule that females followed for some unknown reason regarding washrooms and accompaniment. Maybe it was just because it was a safe place to talk without being overheard. Or at least, that seemed to make the most sense for this occasion. I slipped off my ring, balancing it atop the soap dispenser before lathering up. Emily leaned against the wall and took in that tell-tale deep breath that meant something important was coming.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure thing.” I scrubbed at the edges of my nails to get all the grease from the melted cheese off.

“Please tell me if this is too personal or out of line or—”

“Emily, just ask.” I laughed, flicking the water off of my hands.

“Did you…Were you and Morgan ever a thing?” I turned to her with wide eyes, drying off my hands.

“Morgan? No way.” I laughed, throwing the crumpled paper in the trash before turning back to her with worry. “Oh God, is that what it looks like? Does everyone think that?”

“No, no, no!” She said hurriedly. “I mean, he acts the same with Garcia, I was just—I was just curious.”

“We’re just good friends.” I assured her, turning to the mirror to fix myself up a bit as she did the same. “Besides, I don’t think anyone could ever love Derek Morgan as much as Derek Morgan does.”

“I think you’re right.” She laughed. We returned to the table and everyone sort of melted into that content after-dinner talk that was always more sleepy than before. A reflection of the complacency of all the full stomachs.

When I’d first considered transferring a big part of me shied away from the idea, hating the notion of yet another monumental change. But the fact of the matter was Chicago was not my home, and Vegas hadn’t felt like home for a ridiculously long time—at least in Virginia I could be near Spence and Derek and have a fresh start and be in a nicer area and not work under a racist asshole of a supervisor.

The pros really outweighed the cons, but even when I’d made the decision to apply I never expected to actually get it. Although I hated to admit it I assumed that the advantage I had over all of the other applicants was the fact that a relative had already proven themselves to be quite an asset to the Bureau. My years on the force, though, had given me an edge in the physical exams above the other applicants. Whatever the combination of factors which lead to my acceptance into the Bureau I was extremely thankful for them. Despite the workload and the horrible sights that came with the job it was where I wanted to be.

It gave me hope.