Disclaimers: Neither Hotch, nor any members of the BAU team belong to me. Neither does Death, as first imagined so vividly by Sir Terry Pratchett, and transplanted to our world. The minor characters like Albany SWAT are mine, the rest I'm just borrowing.

Rating: T. Lots of Hotch-whumping. Physical for now, psychic later.

Spoilers: This is set in the nebulous near future, so up to 4.25/26, "To Hell and Back". Nothing specific for now.

Genre: Crossover (Discworld); Gen

Characters: Hotch; DEATH (Earth); appearances by everybody else.

Pairing: None

Beta: The lovely and talented tfm.

Summary: After a raid goes horribly wrong, Hotch find himself in an unusual position. He's never been an apprentice before. But then again, DEATH (Earth) has never *had* an apprentice before, so they're even.

Chapter One: In Which Nothing Goes At All As Planned

"Daniel Randolph? Daniel Randolph, this is the FBI and the Albany City Police Department, we have a warrant for your arrest."

No answer.

Whispered, back, through the line of officers. "Okay, everybody on three. One. Two. THREE!"

The battering ram bashed through the frail wooden door. Hotch's body tensed, from years of training, and from the fragment of fear that no agent, how ever long he'd served , could quite shake. He submerged it, following Schuyler, the leader of Albany SWAT, into Daniel Randolph's house. Morgan followed close behind him, with Rossi, Prentiss and Reid in close succession.

Fred Schuyler's booming voice echoed through the small yellow Victorian clapboard frame of the house. "Alright, everyone, nice and easy, SWAT , I want you clearing upstairs. BAU?"

Hotch immediately took over. "Dave, you take the kitchen, Morgan the back yard, Prentiss and Reid, the bathroom and living room, and I'll take the den at the end of the hall. Everyone, be careful."

SWAT fanned out on the second floor, and his team did likewise behind him. Hotch headed down the claustrophobic hallway, picking his way through trash, piles of magazines, and other refuse that his mind did not want to dwell on too closely.

"Clear!" Rossi in the kitchen.

"Clear! " Prentiss, loudly, from the living room, with a softer "yuck!" which Hotch's hearing almost missed.

"Clear." Reid. "Clear." Morgan. "Oh, ick." Prentiss again. Hotch almost smiled, as he reached the door at the hallway's end. He threw it wide open, striding through.

He had almost completed his 360 scan around the room. He was almost about to chime into the chorus. But as he opened his mouth to speak, two things happened. In no particular order that he could determine: the door slammed shut again, and a blinding pain shot through the back of his skull. Only training, self-control, and long experience kept him from crumpling to the ground, as he spun to get a glimpse of his attacker.

It was him. Short, close-cropped black hair. Muscled, but wiry, not overstuffed, Dressed in army surplus. Taller then Hotch by about an inch, outweighing him by about 15 pounds.

With a wild glint in his eye, Daniel Randolph raised his arm to bludgeon Hotch with what looked to be an Albany PD-issued nightstick. (Briefly, Hotch's inner bureaucrat noted that for later review.) He managed to grab Randolph's wrist, trying to quickly break it and take control of the weapon. However, Daniel was prepared, and drew Hotch into a wrestling match. Which unfortunately ended with Hotch sprawled on the floor, and Randolph between him and the only exit.

The ache in his head, bad before, was now ten times worse, and he struggled to keep his hold on consciousness. It was not easy; the nausea was close to overwhelming him. Hotch heard voices raised through the thin walls; his team had heard the commotion. But his heart sank as Randolph came back into view, locking the door with a skeleton key.

Randolph glared down at him. "You come into my house? My sanctuary. You think you can come in here and just take me, G-man. You walk around in your three-hundred dollar suits, and you think you're dispensing justice? What gives you the right?"

For a moment, contempt managed to wrestle control away from pain, and Hotch steadily returned Randolph's gaze. "I don't have the right. The thirteen people you murdered do." Hotch could hear the trembling note of anger in his own hoarse tone. "The thirteen men and women you eviscerated and dumped in the Hudson."

"Yeah, well, you're going to be joining them, pretty soon." Randolph quickly dropped into a sitting position on Hotch's chest, and held the nightstick over Hotch's throat. "You're going to be number 14, Agent…." He quickly glanced down at his captive's badge, grabbing it out of Hotch's jacket pocket. Hotch tried to take this opening to get out from under Randolph, but Randolph only pressed down harder. "Ah, Agent Hotchner."

Hotch heard, and felt, banging on the door. The hinges seemed to be loosening. But he dimly sensed that it would be too late. He gasped in every bit of air that he could muster.

"You're….not…going…to…live…through….this."

A calm seemed to pass over Randolph's features. "Yup, your friends will probably be in here in a minute. So let's finish this now."

Gasps of air turned into no air at all. Hotch struggled weakly, as blackness encroached on the edges of his vision. Hotch's grip on Randolph's hands loosened, and his head fell back to rest against the floor. Pain wracked every inch of his body. Images of Jack, Sean, even Haley flashed in his head; he still heard the panicked voices of his team as they tried to get through the door.

Dave. Emily. Derek. JJ. Spencer. Penelope.

Goodbye.

He looked up into the black eyes of Daniel Randolph. Nothing looked back. Brave as he might have thought he was, Hotch couldn't hold that gaze for long, and looked instead over to the back window.

He found himself staring into a pair of green eyes, instead. Cold, but with an unearthly fire to them. Set within a skeletal face. A tall figure in a black hooded garment. It was even holding a scythe. Hotch felt like he was looking at a picture from a tarot card, or from one of Reid's books. "Death" himself, with all the medieval flourishes. If he had been able to breathe, Hotch might have laughed at the cliché of it.

But he could breathe. Or at least, the pain in his head and throat had subsided. Hotch realized, moreover, that he was no longer looking up at those green eyes, but staring directly into them. Which meant, logically… He looked over, and saw, as through a clouded glass, the entwined pair. The bodies of Randolph, and himself. He looked down at his own form. The bullet-proof vest was gone. And for some unknown reason, he seemed to be wearing his favorite grey suit, that he could have sworn he had taken to the dry-cleaners' three days ago.

He glared, annoyed, at the green-eyed figure. "What is going on here?"

FOR A MAN OF YOUR EXPERIENCE, I THOUGHT THAT WOULD BE OBVIOUS.

That had not been said, per se. There had been no voice that Hotch could hear, yet he heard it anyway. For one of the few times in his life (or, to put it another way, for the first time in some other quantitative measurement of time) Aaron Hotchner gaped.

HELLO, AGENT HOTCHNER. YOU DO NOT KNOW ME, BUT BE ASSURED, I KNOW YOU QUITE WELL.

To be continued