When you returned upstairs and were back in the presence of those you loved the most, whatever conversation had been taking place cut off and everyone immediately looked in your direction. Looks of pity, understanding, confusion, hatred - were all worn by members of your team. “Are you all good to go now?” Morgan asked hotly. The snark was oozing out of him, and had it not been for Rossi’s words just moments earlier, you were pretty sure you would’ve started crying. You loved everyone everyone on this team more than your own life: it was only because Spencer had been threatened, and you loved him above all else, that you ended up in this position.
“I’m ready to get to work,” you said flatly, sitting back down in the corner of the room. If no one wanted to be near you then that was his or her prerogative.
Morgan sat down next to Garcia, who shot you a quick look of ‘you’ll get through this’ before turning to her Sculpted God of Chocolate Thunder. “What do you have on the vacation homes for Ashton, babygirl?”
“How does one person have so much money?” she asked wildly, flailing her hands around as she pulled up Ashton’s vacation homes. “I mean does he literally just buy a multi-million dollar house, spend a week in and then leave? This man has no idea how to spend his money. He should give some to me, I’ll help him out-”
“Garcia,” Hotch said sternly. “What do we have?”
“He’s got a condo in Hong Kong that he’s been to multiple times, mostly just before he was put away. He’s got a house in Thurso, Scotland that they used to go to a lot when he first got married, but they haven’t been there in a while. And their apartment in Paris is still under his name. He had to sell off most of his European holdings while he was in prison, undoubtedly in order to pay himself out. His United States properties are mostly still in his name, but those are the only three international.”
“Then based on the family theory, it makes the most sense that he would head to the house in Thurso,” Hotch said, glancing your way. “It would hold the most memory for him.”
Emily agreed, taking a sip of her coffee before speaking to the room. “If he’s salty about losing his family, and that’s what he wants to hold on, then going back to the home he share with his wife and young son would make the most sense.”
“Wheels up in thirty,” Hotch said.
Maybe this would be over soon.
Ten hours. It was a ten-hour flight to Scotland. With the jet, it would take a little less than nine, but that still meant nearly nine hours of silence. Nearly nine hours of sitting in your own head. Garcia wasn’t coming with you, so you didn’t have her to talk to and Rossi was exhausted, so he was sleeping in the corner.
The only thing keeping you going was the fact that within the day, this might all be over. At least if Ashton was in custody, you might be able to begin the healing process with the ones you loved. With work, you might be able to repair the relationships you’d broken.
Without anyone to talk to, you found your eyes getting heavier and heavier by the second. There was no point in staying awake anyway. No one was talking to you. Maybe if you slept some, you’d wake up and be there. Then this would be over.
What was that at the corner of your mouth? Had it rained during the night?
You were awake. You were alive. Why were you alive?
As you pushed off the ground and opened your eyes, you pulled out the compact that Leslie had given you. She was dead. You tried to kill yourself. It hadn’t worked. There weren’t enough pills. Looking in the mirror, you realized you’d thrown up in the middle of the night. You’d woken up in a pool of your own vomit. This is what you had become.
Had it already been nearly a year of this? Legs spread, mouth closed as staring men robbed you of your dignity. You wouldn’t live through another year of this. You wiped the vomit off your chin and ran through back alleys, hiding behind garbage bins, scraps of metal - anything that you could feasibly hide behind. As you hid behind a particularly large dumpster, you pulled off your heels - the ones that Rocco insisted you wear whenever you work - in order to run faster. Nothing could slow you down now. Not when you woke up with a sense of purpose. You hadn’t died. Those pills should’ve been enough, especially in your weakened state, but you hadn’t died. That had to mean something. That had to mean you were meant to do something with your life. But you couldn’t stay here.
Everything had to change. You needed to leave your hometown. No one could know who you were. From this day forward, you were no longer the daughter of Jonathan and Michelle Connors. You needed a name.
Y/F/N Y/L/N. You’d always loved that name.
One of your friends from high school was an expert hacker. If you could get to him, you could get him to give you a new identity. Alec, you had to get to Alec. The more you ducked and ran and dove, the more paranoid you became, that Rosso would somehow find you and take you back. If he did, you would die.
But last you heard, Alec was two towns over.
For hours, you ran. You hid. You did whatever needed to be done to make sure you weren’t found by Rocco or one of his guys. Drainage pipes? You fit your malnourished body into them. Sewers? Check. Dumpsters? Those too. It would all be worth it, if you could change the course of your life. It was nightfall before you found yourself in Alec’s town. Finally, you found him.
“Alec?” you whispered. He was sitting in his yard fucking around on his computer like he always did.
The second he turned around, he recognized you. “Where have you-?”
“Alec, I don’t have time to explain. Will you create a new identity for me? I need to escape. If I stay here, I’ll die.” The strain in your voice surprised you. You’d never heard yourself so desperate. Even last night. Maybe it was because last night, you figured you were as good as dead, and today you had more hope.
Little else was spoken between you as he hacked every system he could. “It’s going to take me a day or two to get the papers, but I can do it.”
“Thank you, Alec. Do you know of any place to hide for a couple of days?”
His parents were gone for the weekend, so he let you stay in the basement. Alec was a good guy. He never asked what happened to you. He could see on your face that you didn’t want to explain. What he did was enough. He allowed you to sleep in his home, take a shower, and even gave you some of his old baggy clothes.
Two days later, you were set up with a new passport, new social security card, new everything. Your name was no longer - you were Y/F/N Y/L/N. “Thank you, Alec. I will never be able to thank you enough for this.”
“Y/N?” he asked as you turned to leave - to run once more.
One more turn back. One more peek into the past. “Yea?”
With a wave and a tear, you ran out the front door of Alec’s home. You ran and ran and ran. Honestly, you weren’t sure where. But it was going to be far away from here. You may not have had your parents’ name any longer, but you would make them proud. You would make Leslie proud. Take her on the ride she never got to take herself. You would make yourself proud. Past be damned.
“Y/N?” It was Rossi.
“Wha-? What?” A sheen of sweat draped over your body like a robe.
Rossi placed his hand on your shoulder. “You were tossing and turning. It looked like you were having a nightmare, so I thought I’d wake you up. Plus we’re almost there.”
An hour later you were in Wick, which was just 30 minutes from Thurso. As Hotch drove, your heart raced. You were so close. “We’re here,” he said. When everyone got out, he pointed the team towards opposite ends of the house. It was small by Ashton’s standards, but still fairly large. All of you needed to come from different directions to cover every possible method of ingress and egress.
Tiptoeing through the house was torture. Around each corner, there was a possibility of freedom. A way to ease your guilt. But corner after corner…nothing. Until you got to the living room. On the coffee table, was a piece of white paper and on top were two types of flowers and a sprig of pine sitting comfortably in a vase. By the looks of it, no one had been in the house for quite a few days, as the flowers were wilting. “What do the flowers mean?” JJ asked.
Spencer piped up from the background. He and Morgan were the last ones to make their way into the expansive living room. “The purple flowers are anemones. They tend to mean that one is forsaken. The smaller blue and yellow ones are convulvus major, meaning that one’s hopes have been extinguished. And pine typically represents guilt.” He rattled off the meanings like facts, as if they weren’t a direct taunt to you from the man himself. The rage built within you, coursing through you like a river. When you opened the paper, you read the impossibly neat, script handwriting - very obviously Ashton’s.
How does it feel? Knowing you were so close?
“Dammit!” you screamed, heaving the vase across the room. Before it even hit the wall, spraying petals in all directions, you were gone.
The rest of the day was spent talking to random citizens in the area and asking whether or not they had seen Ashton. A few nodded their heads, saying he was quiet and respectful. Others commented on his bright smile. The one that crawled up your spine.
But he was gone.
Hotch left orders with the locals to contact him immediately if Ashton was to return, but he wouldn’t. Despite his arrogance, he was too smart for that. The plane ride home was going to be long.
The second you got back to the airstrip, you barged out of the car and ran directly onto the plane. You should’ve known better than to think this could’ve been over.
Everyone filed onto the plane after you, in varying degrees of annoyance, both with you and the situation. No one said a word to you until shortly after take off. The ones awake were you and Emily.
“Hi,” she said, sitting across from you. “I’m sorry we didn’t catch him.”
You wiped a tear from your eye as you stared out the window. You didn’t have the balls to look at her just yet, not when you knew how much you’d disappointed her. “Me too…I’m so sorry, Emily.”
“Y/N…I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. I can’t imagine being put in that position…I…”
Once this was all over, you needed some serious therapy. Emily went through her own therapy after her brush with ‘death.’ “I know the situations weren’t the same, but how did you manage after Doyle?”
“Help. Lots of it. A change in scenery for a while. The team. I couldn’t have done it without them.” She reached across the seat and placed her hand on yours.
“Can I ask you something else?” You wanted a genuine answer. You didn’t want her answer to ease your own guilt. That would have to be worked through another time. When she nodded, you continued. “If you had been put in the same situation I did, except instead of Spencer being in immediate danger, it was Declan, would you have done what I did? Knowing my past, I mean?”
A small huff of air escaped her nose as she laughed. “I’ve been thinking about that for the past few days. I mean, I immediately wanted to be mad. And before I knew where you came from, I was, but knowing what I know now, I would’ve absolutely done the same for Declan. He’s above all else for me.”
“That was Spencer for me,” you whispered softly, looking over at Spencer’s lanky, sleeping form. You started to sob again, holding your hand over your mouth to keep quiet, but you looked her directly in the eyes. “I need you to know that I love all of you. I never wanted to hurt JJ. I just thought that he had eyes on Spencer, and that if I didn’t do what he said, I would lose him. I’m so sorry, Emily. I’m so sorry.” Since you met, Emily had told you to call her Em, but again, you felt that was a name you had to earn.
She stood up and sat next to you, bringing you into her arms as you cried. “I know…it’s gonna take us a while to get through this, but we all will…in time.”
You ever see an opportunity, and think “that’s too good to be true”? Read through the fine print, find out more about it, waiting with bated breath for when it turns out you’re right? Here’s a piece of advice I’ll give ya, I’m sure you’ve heard it before, I did too yet here I am now: when something seems too good to be true, it is.
Here I am now. Nine more hours sitting at this desk watching security feeds, then I get to go home and wonder why the fuck I believed that this overpaid and seemingly easy security position didn’t come with a catch, why I didn’t notice all the red flags in between seeing the offer online and getting here. Why I genuinely believe I’ll be lucky to have the chance to regret my decision after my shift.
Let’s go back to earlier today. There I was, switching between browsing reddit and flipping through local job offers, when a refresh of a local job listing site revealed something new that caught my eye. A basic security position - job description basically amounted to locking the doors at night, watching cameras, and calling the the company if anything bad happened. And in the description, they said that they would pay $37 an hour. I was immediately skeptical of the high wage for a basic security job, especially considering the company had next to no info on it on the web - their small website had pictures of the founders and outside of their buildings, but didn’t even say what they did. However, I had the qualifications from a class I’d taken a year ago, and the possibility of walking away with $300 for a night’s work seemed enticing even if it might have been a scam. I figured it couldn’t hurt to send in a resume and see what happened.
I got a call from a private number not an hour after submitting my application. The conversation was odd: the person on the other end of the line seemed like they had no experience hiring people before, and their voice seemed somewhat stressed and worried - a couple more red flags, but I was still in the “it could be legit, and if it’s not I haven’t lost anything” mindset. I’ll try to recreate the phone conversation here:
“Hello, um, is this Christopher?” said the voice on the other end.
I replied, “Yes, speaking. Who is this?”
“This is, uh, I work for [company] inc. I’m, um, I’m Daniel Edwards, head of sec- head of HR. Uh, former head of security. I’m calling because, uh, because you submitted an application to us.” Daniel paused. I waited expectantly for him to continue, but when the silence dragged on a moment too long I realized he was done speaking.
“What about my application?”
“Oh, uh, we’d like you to come for an, um, an interview. Your credentials looked, well, looked good, yeah. Can you come to [address] in two hours?” I was surprised, it seemed to me like either a) it was a scam or b) they needed the position filled fast, maybe even by tonight. If it was the latter, I was pretty sure I could talk them up to an even higher wage, so I made my decision there - I’d check out the address on google street view and see if there was any other info on it before I went there, and if it seemed off I just wouldn’t show up for the interview.
“Sure thing. Thank you.” Daniel hung up the phone before I even finished speaking.
Fast forward to two hours later, I was arriving at a fenced-off property in my city’s industrial district, occupied by two buildings. They bore minimal markings and logos but appeared to be in fair condition (and supposedly still belonged to the company I was going there to see). I pulled my 2001 Honda Civic through the gate and into the parking lot. Something felt slightly off right away, though I didn’t pick up on what it was until later - the parking lot was empty except for one other car.
I stepped out and walked into the larger 1-story building facing directly onto the parking lot. The door was unlocked. The receptionist’s desk sat empty, and I recall noticing that there was dust on the blades of the fan that sat there. There was no email address in the post on the job site, and Daniel had called me from a private number. Unsure what to do, I waited in the small lobby for a few minutes and looked around at my surroundings.
The entrance was a single glass door, and the front wall was made up of floor-to-ceiling windows. A metal shutter system rested on the outer wall above the glass, and a control panel on the wall inside. The receptionist’s desk sat against the wall opposite the door. On either side of the room were eight chairs and two small coffee tables, complete with old magazines. To the left, a short hallway led past a single door on either side, terminating at a heavy unpainted metal exterior door bearing dents of various sizes and shapes. For some odd reason, the exterior door made me feel uneasy. All three doors contained a single small window, the kind with wire mesh inside it, obscured by black paint or cloth on the inside. To the right led another hall - oddly enough, I can’t recall the length, and I usually have good attention to detail. Was it four doors on either side? No, two? Sixteen maybe? I’m not even sure it had a length. I didn’t look at the end of the right hallway. Behind the receptionist’s desk was another longer hallway terminating in a T-intersection. The first door on the left was made of brown painted metal and bore a small placard of “SECURITY OFFICE.”
After waiting for a minute, a man rushed in through the front door.
“Sorry to have kept you waiting. I’m Joshua Collins, head of HR.” He spoke quickly and seemed frantic and skittish - he didn’t hold eye contact for more than a second at a time. As he shook my hand, I could feel that his palms were sweaty and cold.
“Christopher Newman.” I paused for a second, suddenly hit by a wave of skepticism, and decided to test if he could keep his story straight “I spoke to a man named Daniel Edwards on the phone, I thought he said he was the head of HR.”
Joshua ignored me and continued, “Mr. Newman, my company needs a new security guard fast, the last two quit this morning and we can’t afford to go a night without someone watching the property. We’ve tried to get you here as fast as possible because you’ll need to be ready to work by sunset. We’re in a rush so we’ll skip the usual process, if you’re able to start right now then you can consider yourself hired. Your salary is thirty-seven dollars an hour, non-negotiable. Sign this NDA and you can start right now.”
I didn’t like how aggressive he was being, but it had showed that I was right - they were looking for a fast, probably temporary hire, and I wasn’t about to turn down that kind of money. I flipped through the NDA - it was a long one so I skipped most of it, but I know how these contracts are: don’t disclose company secrets, yadda yadda. I signed it and followed Joshua to the security office.
The orientation was short and simple: “Here’s your keychain, this one opens the door to the security office, this one opens most of the other offices, this one controls the shutter on the front windows. Here’s your maglite, you can use it as a baton in a pinch but you’re better to lock yourself in the office and call us if you see anything suspicious. All you have to do is sit in that office and watch the camera feeds, you don’t need to patrol since you don’t have a partner to watch the feeds when you’re gone. We don’t provide a uniform, just put your badge on your shirt. Front door’s the only one that’s unlocked right now, ignore the other exterior doors and the offices in the long hallway. Lock the front gate. That’s it.”
“What’s this binder for?” I asked, pointing at a white binder on the desk, bearing the company logo.
“Oh, um, uh, read that during your shift.” Joshua looked uncomfortable at the mention of the binder, and avoided my gaze as he stammered out his reply. He didn’t wait to see if I had further questions before he hurriedly left, getting into the only car in the parking lot (apart from mine) and speeding off.
I assumed my security guard role right away - I went outside and locked the gate, closed the metal shutter over the front glass, and locked the front door. Then I sealed myself in the security office and opened the binder up.
That binder is what prompted me to write this down. When I opened it, I expected a long, boring write-up of company policy involving various situations that may happen after hours - specific rules for dealing with burglars and vandals, you know, that sort of thing. Instead, there was only one page. What was on that page made me realize that this job was, in fact, too good to be true, and is why I’m genuinely terrified right now.
Welcome to [redacted] inc. There are ten company rules security personnel must follow in order to ensure their safety and well-being:
The long hallway is off limits. If you cross the threshold from the lobby, turn around immediately and walk back. Do not run.
Do not look at the long hallway for prolonged periods. If any security camera shows it, shut it down immediately
Do not open the door at the end of the short hallway
Building 2 is off limits and is to be observed only via camera feeds
If you must go outside, use only the front door
The coffee machine will turn on automatically at 2:17 am. Ensure a cup is placed beneath it prior to this time. When the liquid is dispensed into the cup, place it outside the door of the security office. Lock the door and do not open it again until 2:37 am
Do not leave the security office between 4:01 and 4:02 am
If you hear a female voice coming from an indeterminate point within the building, unlock the door on the left of the short hallway. Do not enter the room unless the voice invites you to do so. Do not look at her face. If you hear a male voice upon unlocking the door, return to the security office immediately
If you feel you are in immediate danger, call this number using the phone in the security office: [redacted] Do not contact emergency services before sunrise
DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, ATTEMPT TO LEAVE [REDACTED] INC. BEFORE SUNRISE
I have nine hours left in this shift. I’d rather walk out of here broke than stick around for the rest of the night, but the instructions made it clear that I’ll have to stick it out til morning. Wish me luck.
EN Interview 3 - Q: Taylor, how did you approach playing Paul Woodrugh in True Detective?
Paul wants to do the right thing, he wants to be a good man, but his
past and his denial of his sexual identity are holding him back. He’s
living in a constant state of torment and anguish and he’s really a
tragic figure. There were a lot of days on the set where I just wanted
to go away and forget about him for a while. It was very hard to live
with that kind of character even though it’s such an interesting role -
but it invades your soul.
Q: His character had a troubled childhood. Did you identify with any of that given your own difficult upbringing?
Paul and I share the burdens of our past. I didn’t have a real
relationship with my father and in the story we see how Paul grew up
with his mother in a trailer park and that was pretty much my story,
too. But I had no problems with being white trash. I wore it as a badge
of honour and I didn’t have hang-ups about being poor. My mother did
what she could for me but Paul’s mother was a former dancer in Vegas and
probably not a very good parent.
Q: You have some terrific scenes in True Detective. Any ones that stand out in particular?
There’s a great conversation I have with Colin Farrell (Detective Ray
Velcoro) that was one of the most special moments I’ve had as an actor.
Paul breaks down when he’s in the car with Ray and there was this
amazing bond between the characters because they’re both incredibly
f**ked-up. Ray tries to share his own experience that it’s not so
terrible or unusual to feel that your life is a mess and everything
I just thought it was such an intense and really
beautiful moment where these two guys find a kind of momentary comfort
in being able to understand each other’s experience and feeling like
life is hell. I would have loved to have had more scenes like that with
Q: Are those the moments you live for as an actor?
Hell, yeah! I love diving into intense characters. That’s why I also
enjoyed working with Oliver Stone on Savages so much. I would have given
anything to have played a couple of scenes with my character and
Benicio (Del Toro)’s just in a room together. That would have been
Q: The first season of True Detective was hailed
as groundbreaking in terms of the atmosphere and the writing. Were you a
fan of the first season?
KITSCH: It blew me away. The quality of
Pizzo’s writing (series creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto) is phenomenal
and I know there were a huge number of top actors dying to work on
season two. As soon as I found out that he was interested in talking to
me about the part, I grabbed a flight from Austin to LA and drove a
couple of hours to meet with him at this dive bar in Ojai (California)
where he lives.
We spoke for maybe eight or nine hours sitting in a
booth in the bar until early in the morning. It was one of those great
conversations you never forget and we barely even talked about True
Detective. We just had a good vibe talking about life and things in
general and now he’s one of my closest friends.
Q: Did you know you had the part right then and there?
No. But I had a good feeling about our meeting. I knew it meant waiting
a year until we would begin shooting and I turned down a lot of stuff
so that I would be available. That’s how badly I wanted to do True
Detective and it’s turned out to be worth the risk. Working on it
reminded me of why I wanted to become an actor in the first place and
struggling to pay bills and living out of my car and everything that
came with that. It would have been easy for me to quit and go back home
to Canada but I’ve always believed that you have to struggle and
sacrifice if you want to achieve your dreams. I never gave up on myself.
Your career was seemingly on fire a few years back when you were cast
as the lead in back to back blockbusters Battleship and John Carter. Was
it a major disappointment when both those films bombed?
It was disappointing, but you never know whether certain films are going
to find an audience. Sometimes it just depends on the marketing
strategy and sometimes for whatever reason the story just doesn’t work
or achieve what the director set out to accomplish.
But I didn’t
let myself get too depressed about it. I’m lucky in that it took me some
time before I had any success and got the role on Friday Night Lights.
Then I gave everything I had into John Carter and Battleship and even
though those films didn’t do well I still felt good about my work and I
wasn’t going to let myself get defined by what was being written about
me before and after the films came out.
Q: You never bought into the sex symbol attention and media frenzy that started building around you at the time?
I had had time to build up a pretty strong sense of who I was and I’ve
never let myself get caught up in all the hype and bulls**t. I just try
to do my best and I have enough confidence and trust in my ability that I
know that it’s going to take me to good places down the road.
Q: Why were you so unhappy living in LA that you eventually moved to Austin, Texas?
I’m not the type who likes to go to parties or hang out in clubs or
trendy restaurants in LA. I hated living in LA and you can feel the kind
of quiet despair that a lot of struggling young actors go through
waiting to get their break. Most young actors never get a shot and when
you’re living in LA and there’s all that luxury and the trappings of
success staring you in the face it can be very hard. I never wanted to
buy into that culture and now I live very happily in Austin where I can
go to lots of music clubs, play golf and tennis, and enjoy my time in my
house that overlooks a beautiful lake. And nobody knows or cares who
the hell I am. (Laughs) It’s great!
Q: You mean there aren’t any women who think you’re the sexiest man alive?
KITSCH: (Laughs) I don’t know what you’re talking about!
Nine hours. Nine hours I’ve been sitting here in the airport, waiting for Michael to return home from his ten month-long tour. His flight was delayed a several hours ago and I didn’t want to go home just in case it was delayed by just an hour or so; but no. It’s been nine hours and he still hasn’t arrived. I look at the time on my watch and sigh; it’s almost one o’clock in the morning. “I might as well go to sleep,” I mumble to myself, putting my bag down on the chair beside me and resting my head on it. I stare out at the more-or-less empty airport and allow a stray tear to fall from my eye and run down my cheek. I don’t even bother wiping it as more tears soon follow. I’ve been looking forward to seeing forward Michael since he told me he was coming home three weeks ago, and to not have him show up has just ruined my whole day. I know it’s not his fault, but I can’t help feeling that it is. When my tears have gradually come to a stop, I bring my knees up to my chest and close my eyes to sleep. Sleep doesn’t come as easily as I would’ve liked it, but it comes eventually.
A few hours later…
“Shh guys, you’ll wake her up,” a recognisable voice mutters, and the three other voices silence at his order. “But don’t you want her to wake up, so the two of you can reunite or whatever?” a different voice asks. “Yeah, but she looks so peaceful,” the first voice says, and I sense him crouching down in front of me from the sudden darkness over my face. A thumb runs down the side of my face and I instantly know who it is from the way it stops just below my jawline and rests there for a while. It’s Michael. I let a small smile tug at my lips and I allow my eyes to flutter open. I’m instantly met with the blue-green eyes I’ve been longing to gaze into for months, and the grin that covers his face warms my heart immediately. “Hey baby.” He beams, offering me his hand and helping me stand up from my sleeping position. “I’ve missed you so much,” I confess, flinging my arms around his neck and pulling him close. “You have no idea.” “I’ve missed you too, (Y/N),” he says, burying his head into the crook of my neck and planting a single kiss on the sensitive skin there. “I’m sorry I got back so late, there were a lot of technical difficulties with the plane and we had to stop off in Thailand and wait for it to be fixed. And then we didn’t get back on the plane ti-” I cut him off with a kiss which he instantly reacts to; wrapping his hands around my waist and pulling me closer to him. His hands find the backs of my thighs and he lifts me up so I wrap my legs around his waist. I pull out of the kiss and rest my forehead on his.