Chapter 1: Helplessness is not an emotion with which Red is intimately acquainted. He is familiar with foresight and planning, accustomed to being three steps ahead of everyone else, armed with layer upon layer of contingencies, cloaked in expertly designed exit strategies, and outfitted with an arsenal of influence.
Being helpless is not a feeling he recognizes well. And yet, after replaying the day's events in his mind, he can not, for the life of him, pinpoint where they had gone so very wrong. His contact had been unimpeachable, the location secure, the most current Blacklister unaware of Red's deception; nevertheless, here they are, confined to a concrete cell in the lower recesses of an early 18th century dungeon and neither his team nor the FBI task force would be able to track them.
His ribs hurt, he realizes, rubbing his hand absently across his right side. Bruised, he thinks, possibly broken. His chest is aching, but not from the injury; his heart is heavy with failure.
He couldn't protect her and he can't save her now. A shuffling sound from across the room alerts him to Elizabeth waking, recovered from the blow she had sustained when they had been tossed unceremoniously into the cell.
He hears her groan into the blackness. Lizzie sits up and looks around her, apprising her surroundings. They are in a large, open cell, surrounded on three sides by dark stone, the last wall comprised of thick iron bars. A small, barred window is recessed high up on the exterior wall, filtering moonlight through the grate, too far away for them to reach, even working together.
Her eyes find Red across the space, sitting with his back against the opposite wall, one black-clad knee bent, the other leg stretched out in front of him. His tailored black vest is torn, pressed, white shirt grimy with dirt and sweat and blood. His shirtsleeves are rolled up to just below the elbows, collar open at the neck. There is blood staining his temple, drying on his neck. "Are you alright?" she asks.
"I'm fine, Lizzie, how are you feeling?" concern winning out over despair in his voice. "My head hurts," she responds, cringing, hand going to her left temple. "I'm not surprised," he informs her. "You'll likely have a lump; that incompetent guard knocked your head into the bars when he dumped you inside. Probably not a concussion, luckily" She is trying to remember something. He waits, the tightness in his chest growing. They were supposed to meet someone&hellip.the Blacklister.
They had been waiting at the drop site when the shooting started and everything had gone sideways. Dismay dawns on her face.
"Your contact?" she asks. "Dead." "And Dembe?" "Still in Egypt," Far too far away to be of any use to them now, and unreachable in any case. They hadn't been in contact for the past 72 hours; he was scuttled away on another assignment. Dembe wouldn't even know where they had gone until it was too late. Lizzie peers at Red in the darkness; she wants to be closer to him but he is being uncharacteristically tight-lipped and hasn't made any move to bring himself to her side.
She finds that she can move and she is grateful; at least they aren't chained. "You told your people we were coming here," she continues, remembering.
He nods in the darkness. "They're all dead." Again, that faint, almost imperceptible tilt of his head, confirming her words. "We lied to the task force. They think we're in Spain," she reasons it out, her mind working through the steps to ensure there is nothing she has missed.
She comes to the same awareness that he has already, and far more quickly. She pauses, unwilling to give voice to desperation, "There is no way we're getting out of this alive." Her words are a blade, twisting in his gut.
She knows, then, he thinks. She is so calm and he is grateful for it. He half expected her to scream, to rail at him for his failure and he would have welcomed it, but all the same, he is thankful for her cool. They are quiet for a moment, the gloom of the cell settling over them like a fog.
What else, really, is there to say? "Did you know that this particular style of dungeon was built to&hellip." he begins thoughtfully, desperate to distract her from their melancholy circumstances. "I don't want a story," she interrupts.
Red stops, the silence passing between them. The night becomes a breathing thing, the quiet a friend in the dark. Suddenly, she can't bear the distance between them anymore. She crawls towards him and settles, inches away.
They are so close together now, facing one another, and he is waiting for the her to speak first, to make the first move because he knows what he wants, but he is unsure of her intention.
Her hand reaches out to touch his face, craving contact with him. She wipes her fingers over the smudge of dirt on his cheek. She is sure, quiet, she needs no words for this. She slides closer, hooking her legs over his, straddling him, pulling herself into his lap.
Her hands are smoothing over his chest, hands fisting in the fabric of his shirt, coaxing him towards her. "Lizzie," his whisper is a warning. "I'm not wasting any more time," she breaths, and closes her lips over his. And he gives in, kissing her back, passionately. Because he wants to, he has wanted to for so long. Because he has failed her and he cannot bear to fail her again and pushing her away would only be another failure of her.
Because they are doomed and hopeless. Because there is no longer a reason not to. He tears his mouth from hers, breathless. "I thought we'd have more time……" his words are pained, regretful, a tear in his eye.
"Shhh, it doesn't matter" she calms him, kissing the corner of his mouth, "It was never going to be long enough." "Lizzie," his voice is a deep merlot washing over her, intoxicating, "Lizzie, I'm sorry." He needs to tell her, he needs to make sure she knows.
"I'm not," she tells him simply. "No apologies now, Raymond; no regrets. Just this, just us. Please." And he can no longer deny her. He crushes her to his chest, arms tightening around her back, his lips opening on hers, allowing her to feel all the things he has kept from her for so long. There will be no secrets between them after this, nothing concealed; only a desperate longing for more time. He is desperate for her, but Lizzie is all slow touches in the darkness, caressing his skin with her fingers, her lips, her own soft flesh.
He is transported out of this dingy cell and they are lying on Guatemalan beaches stroked by warm tropical breezes, they are nestled in a vast sleigh bed in a mountain-top chalet swathed in moonlight, they are floating on his catamaran lulled by seabirds and the gentle wash of the waves.
They are everywhere he wanted to take her. With her in his arms, they are everything. Her kiss is searing, a direct contrast to her supple body arching into his chest. Red runs his hands down the satin skin of her arms, left bare by her black tank top. Her skin is flushed and scorching to his touch. He wants to savor this. He buries his face in her neck, breathing in the exquisite fragrance of her skin.
He runs his tongue along her pulse point slowly, gently biting down until he hears her answering sigh. He brings his hands up, tangling in her hair, angling her head so he can capture her lips with his again. Lizzie presses herself closer to him, her hands slowly dragging his shirt from his pants, unbuttoning his vest with care, her mouth sweeping over him endlessly, kissing him like he is her oxygen.
She closes her eyes, letting her head fall back, her dark hair cascading down her spine, offering herself up to his touch. Red's hands find her, brushing against the sides of her breasts beneath her top, pushing the cloth slowly up her body, leaning forward to capture her satin flesh with his mouth.
She moans softly in the dark and he sinks his teeth slightly into her nipple. Lizzie reaches down to his lap, tugging at his zipper, freeing him from the constraints of cloth.
She lifts her hips, allowing Red to drag her black tights down her legs. He cups her tenderly, stroking deeply with his fingers; she is already wet and ready for him. She wraps her hand around him, positioning him under her and sinks down onto his shaft, tortuously slow, until he is buried to the hilt inside her heat.
All at once, time slows down for them both. He is holding her against him and she is gazing into his eyes and suddenly, there is nothing in the world that matters more than them, than this.
He is inside her, moving gently, slowly thrusting and she matches his pace. He is more than Lizzie had dreamed he could be; he is everything. Red is overcome by her; not even in his wildest imaginings had she responded so lovingly, with such passion. He desperately wants to memorize every feature of this moment. She wraps her legs tighter around his waist, unhurried in the pursuit of her pleasure, mindful of his bruised ribs as she moves against him, seeking relief from the ache in her loins and the ache in her heart.
They move together easily, thrusting and withdrawing, her body rising up over his, his face upturned to her kiss, lips pursing in concentration, all his reverence for her gleaming in his eyes. Theirs is a gradual heat, a progressive burn creeping by degrees that slowly becomes a blistering inferno.
Their lovemaking takes on a dreamy quality, as though neither can believe this fantasy has finally come true.
"Lizzie&hellip." he murmurs her name like a prayer and her control breaks like a dam, the dream shattered at the sound of his voice, spurring her passion on to new heights and suddenly, they are hungry for each other, ardently trying to find redemption in each other's touch for what little time they have left. She increases her pace as Red lifts her, his hands bracing under her thighs so his hips can rise to meet her.
She shivers around him, her muscles clenching at his shaft, sending him over edge. Quivering, they come together, her soft cries and his deep growl of release echoing off the walls of the stone chamber. Lizzie's hands are on the sides of his neck, his head resting on the pillow of her breasts. They are incandescent, passion glowing in the dark, urgent and fierce and smoldering. Slowly, her hold on him slackens and she collapses against him, her body soft and pliable in his arms, lungs heaving, a fine sheen of sweat cooling on her skin.
She is tremulous in his embrace. She desperately wants to weep, for the lost time they wasted, for the fact that there will be no more second chances; but greater than her desire to cry is the need to remain strong for Red for these last few minutes together. She bestills her lamentations, swallowing down the shuddering sobs that threaten to surface. "There are so many things I wanted for you……" he is trying to tell her how much she means to him, but he doesn't have the words.
"We had this," she reassures him, letting him know that she understands, absolving him of all his failures, real and imagined. "It's enough." "It isn't enough!" he responds vehemently, anger at his own helplessness radiating off him. "It will be enough," she tells him firmly, "because it has to be enough." She is staring at him intently in the darkness, her goodbyes shining in her eyes, her hands wrapping around his neck to pull him closer, resting his forehead against hers.
"I love you, Raymond." She pulls back from him just far enough to press her lips to his forehead. She is his salvation, a balm to his lonely soul. There is a clamoring outside their cell, but they ignore it, their attention fixated on each other. They are out of time. Her eyes close, a single tear slipping down her cheek. He holds her, breathing her in. He raises his head, she stares into his eyes, their hands clasped together over his heart.
Without words, they are saying goodbye. Chapter 2: The noises outside their cell become louder, more frantic, staccato gunfire pinging the shadows of the dungeon. Shuffling and shouts echo down the corridor, sounds bouncing off the stone surrounding them.
Lizzie presses a last kiss to Red's lips and moves, leveraging herself off of him, reaching for her discarded clothing. Red watches her replace her pants, tucking himself back inside his own. Their eyes never stray from the other's face; no longer touching, yet still connected. The iron bars of the cell are thrown open, the clanging sounds like an explosion next to their heads. There is shouting, loud, angry commands, and a pair of hands grabbing Lizzie roughly out of the darkness.
She twists around, desperately seeking Red's eyes once more, but the men in black descend on him as well, blocking her vision and she is dragged out of the cell. There is smoke everywhere, stinging Lizzie's eyes as she tries to follow the shadowy figure out of the lower level. Behind her, Red is shouting her name. She turns again, but another figure at her back grabs her shoulders, spinning her around, hands digging into her back, forcing her forward.
How can this be the end? Red lurches as two heavily-outfitted men drag him from the floor, his ribs protesting their force. He watches Lizzie's back disappear around the corner of the passage, a flash of her frightened eyes when she turns back to find him. He calls her name, but she is gone and they are pulling him forward. His mind is screaming his resistance at them, but his body follows, back straightening, the determined, easy guise of the Concierge slipping back into place.
He will not go slouched and despairing, no matter the turmoil inside his heart. His captors herd him out of the cell, in the direction of the others and he goes willingly; will he have another chance to see her before the end?
Gunfire erupts around them in the hallway, their jailors returning fire. Lizzie pulls herself from the haze of her disheartenment enough to wonder who is shooting at them here. Red and Lizzie are hurried up a steep, stone staircase, the faceless black-clothed men rushing them to the top. Lizzie is the first to burst through the door at the apex of the staircase, and out into the night, burning bright with searchlights all around and suddenly, it's like the world shudders into slow motion.
She stops, dead in her tracks, her head slowly turning from side to side, eyes sweeping her surroundings, disbelieving. Her mouth ajar, she takes it all in. The FBI is everywhere, swarming the ancient stronghold, helicopters hovering overhead.
She spins around, her eyes searching for Red's face. He is gaping around them in shock, his usual surety replaced by an expression of utter surprise, hand shielding his eyes from the glare of the lights. And then, he finds her, gaze settling on her, taking in her tender features smudged with dirt, her beautiful eyes piercing him with her stare.
She wants to run to him, then, to throw herself into his arms and reassure herself that they are both still alive, that this is not a dream; that in some bizarre twist of fate, they have been escorted to freedom rather than marched to their death. She is about to close the distance between them when she hears her name being called frantically.
She whips around to find her partner running towards her across the grass. "Ressler!
How did you find us?!" she exclaims when he reaches her, sweeping her into an uncharacteristic hug, spinning her around. "You don't actually think we believe anything Reddington tells us, do you?" he teases. "We tracked you. When he insisted on this undercover op being just the two of you, Samar added a GPS tracker to the underwire of your bra," he blushes, uncomfortable. "After Zurich&hellip.well, let's just say the Bureau doesn't want any more close calls where Reddington's involved." Liz smiles away her incredulity, "I'm going to overlook the gross intrusion of my privacy in favor of gratitude right now," she jokes.
She glances at Red over Ressler's shoulder; he is being looked over by a paramedic. She can see a flourish of purpling bruises exploding over his ribs and her heart constricts as he winces in pain under the medic's attention. Red lifts his eyes, catching her watching him. His eyes blaze and she can feel the heat searing her from here, heavy with all that is unspoken between them. She swallows; there is so much they need to say, but it will have to wait.
Ressler is speaking again, pulling her attention away from Red's heated gaze. "Do you need a doctor, Keen?" he is concerned; mistaking the look of pain that has shifted over her features. "No," she answers hurriedly, "No, I'm fine……My head is just a little sore," she covers with a bland explanation.
"We should get you checked out. You could have a concussion," Ressler signals to a paramedic. "No, Ress, really I'm fine. It was a bump, that's all. I didn't lose consciousness and I'm not nauseous," Liz insists, waving him away. "I need to check on Reddington." She brushes past him, swiftly crossing the space to the ambulance where Red is being bandaged. "What's the verdict?" she asks. "Bruised, possibly broken, at least three ribs," Red smiles up at her ruefully, cocking his head to the side.
"You need to be examined as well." "I'm fine," she replies. He looks at her pointedly, "Lizzie, you're not. You're likely in shock. You suffered a blow to the head and you were unconscious for at least two minutes.
You could have a concussion." "Are they taking you to the hospital?" she asks, changing the subject back to him easily. "Nothing they can do for ribs except wrap them and that can be done here," he gestures to the medic.
"An x-ray is an unnecessary procedure which will only confirm what I can already feel." "What about pain meds?" she queries. "They must hurt." "I am quite certain that the medication I have already at my disposal quite exceeds whatever they would prescribe here." Liz quirks an eyebrow at this, but refrains from commenting on his secret stash of prescription, and likely illegal, drugs.
Ressler ambles over to them, file in hand. "You almost finished here?" he asks the medic. "I need to debrief you both," he tells them. "Tomorrow," Red answers immediately, before Liz can reply. "We need an explanation for what happened here tonight.
We need to know how this whole thing went down," Ressler is ever the company man, pleading the case for expediency. "Agent Ressler, Agent Keen and I have had a very trying 48 hours. I am jet-lagged and injured; Agent Keen likely has a concussion.
We both need to rest. We will debrief with you in the morning," Red answers the agent's protest in a clipped tone, leaving no room for argument. Ressler stares at him for a moment, duty and compassion warring on his face. "I'll escort you back to the hotel," he sighs. "The FBI has a block of rooms reserved in the city." "No need!" Red responds cheerfully. "We already have accommodations at hotel near here, undoubtedly more well-appointed than the FBI could afford.
I have certain standards, you know, and our belongings are already there." "Fine," Ressler answers tightly, lips pursed. He turns to Liz, "If you really do have a concussion, you need to see a doctor and we need to arrange for someone to stay with you at your hotel to check on you tonight." "Nonsense, Donald!" Red's voice cheerfully interrupts again. "Nothing will happen to our dear Agent Keen. It's all taken care of." Liz shrugs her shoulders as if to say why bother arguing with him?
"I'll be fine, Ressler," she reassures him. "I just want to get a shower and some sleep. We'll talk tomorrow, ok?" And suddenly, he's sees how tired she is, how worn from the ordeal. Ressler lets out a frustrated breath, "Ok, Keen. You two get some rest and I'll meet you in the morning to get your stories." He starts to walk away, then turns around again. "I'm glad you're alright." Liz smiles tiredly at him, "Me too. And Ress? Thank you," she says with feeling.
She knows she owes him for this, for giving her time and for saving her. Ressler shakes his head and turns away again, heading for the tactical response camper. "Don't mention it," he throws over his shoulder. Lizzie turns back to Red, her eyes nervously searching his face for some sign of what he is feeling. She is grateful to him for buying them some time to talk, and grateful as well to have this moment with him, not under the FBI's scrutiny; not yet at least.
Red winces as the medic pulls the end of the bandage tight one last time, tucking it into the top of the piece that is already tightly wound around his chest. "We're all done here," the medic tells him. "Keep the bandage dry or you'll have to re-wrap it.
You're going to be sore for a few days; you'll probably want to take something for it, but it sounds like you've got that covered. I can give you a shot of morphine before you leave," he offered. "No, I'll be fine," Red brushes away the offer. "I think I want my wits about me tonight," he says meaningfully, his eyes on Lizzie' face again.
He cannot read her expression and it's killing him. He needs to know what she is feeling, now that the danger is over and they know they are going to live. Does she regret what they did? Does she blame him? Is she pulling away? "Let's go," she tells him. TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLT The ride to their hotel is a silent one, both of them tense in the backseat, each unsure of what the other is thinking and unable to talk about it with the junior agent driving in the front.
Lizzie's eyes follow the city lights the car moves along the quiet streets. It is late and the usually crowded thoroughfares are empty. She cannot look at him and not know how he feels. Her chest is tight with the weight of unnamed emotions.
What they had experienced in the prison had changed her. Was it possible that it didn't hold the same meaning for him? She stares out the window, eyes unseeing as her mind wanders, remembering. She was in his lap, his hands on her hips. He had kissed her like she was his only salvation. He was inside her, moving and she wanted him so much.
If this was going to be the last&hellip.Lizzie's eyes drifted shut, her head resting against the window. She arched over him, his breath warm on her neck, coming together in the most spiritual way, a divine and heady pairing; the moonlight their only witness.
Her eyes snap open. She'd told him she loved him. And it's true; she does, she realizes. Tears prick her eyes: what if he doesn't feel the same? TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLT Red's anxiety is like a sharp weight in the back of his throat, clawing at him to escape.
He watches her from the corner of his eye as she stares out the window, unwilling to look at him. How can he tell her, what can he possibly say? Those moments in the dungeon were the most precious thing to have ever happened to him.
He still can't believe it was real. She was everything he had dreamed she would be: soft and muscled beneath his hands, satin lips and cool flesh meeting his, passionate and eager; unreserved as she sought her pleasure, offering herself up for his exploration; and, oh, so lovely.
Red closes his eyes and hears, in his memory, the sighs escaping her lips as his body did things to her that he had only fantasized about. He watches her again, willing her to turn to him, trying to read her thoughts in the language of her body. She is his light and he is terrified she will walk away. His need for her is a prurient burn in the back of his mind, blissful, awakened, wanting.
How could he have her and not want more? TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLT It is well after midnight when the car finally drops them at the entrance to the hotel they have been staying at.
They stand, staring at each other, for the first time since the ambulance, as the car pulls away from the porte-cochere. With a deep breath, Red extends his hand to her, "Shall we?" He breathes a sigh of relief when she closes the distance between them and grasps his hand firmly in her own. He leads her through the lobby and into the elevator. The ride up is quiet, but he keeps her hand in his, taking a small measure of comfort in the fact that she lets him.
Lizzie's heart is pounding, she can feel each pulse in her temples, in her throat, in the surge of blood that pulses in her veins. She has never been so aware of her own body or of his, as she stands next to him, her hand nestled warmly in his grip. What is she going to say to him when they reach their room?
What if he thinks it was a mistake? She startles next to him when the elevator dings, announcing their arrival at their floor. Red glances down at her once before pulling her from the elevator and leading her down the hall to his door. They had booked adjoining suites for their stay, posing as a married couple, and she wonders now if they will be retiring to their own rooms as they had for the previous two nights. He scans the keycard and ushers her inside, the door closing behind them with a faint click.
She stops a few steps into the room, her eyes casting about for answers, for reinforcements, for a place to start. He walks past her, dropping his room key and wallet on the table. He crosses to the walnut sideboard, intending to pour himself a drink; then thinks better of it and turns to face her, hands behind him on the surface, resting his weight with elbows bent, hips leaning back against it for support.
They stare, unmoving, unbreathing, both desperate for a way to begin this conversation. There is doubt here and they can both feel it, uncertainty and apprehension electrifying the air between them. Trembling, he takes a breath. He hates himself, but he has to do this. His own words repeat themselves back to him in his head, I believe I will always do whatever I think is necessary to keep you safe. This is not safe. This is not protecting her. He lifts his chin, his jaw working back and forth as he tries to summon the courage to voice the words lacerating his throat, every syllable a shard of glass drawing blood.
His heart breaking with every word, he offers her an out, "It was a mistake." Chapter 3: Trembling, he takes a breath.
He hates himself, but he has to do this. His own words repeat themselves back to him in his head, I believe I will always do whatever I think is necessary to keep you safe.
This is not safe. This is not protecting her. He lifts his chin, his jaw working back and forth as he tries to summon the courage to voice the words lacerating his throat, every syllable a shard of glass drawing blood.
His heart breaking with every word, he offers her an out, "It was a mistake." Lizzie answers him immediately, vehemently, and suddenly she can breathe again, the force of her response driving her body forward a step, "It wasn't a mistake." His relief is like a blow to the chest, "It wasn't a mistake," he repeats, his words carrying him across the carpet to enfold her in his fervant embrace. She feels his arms close around her and something inside her breaks wide open, a sob tearing loose from her lungs.
She sags in his arms, sobs wracking her shoulders and he lowers them both to the floor against the protest of his burning ribs, whispering his "I love you's" into her hair over and over again.
"Oh, god!" she moans, tears streaming hotly onto his neck, "I thought…&hellip.we were…&hellip.I thought&hellip." "Shhhh," he is murmuring to her. "I know." They sit like that for a long time, Red stroking calming circles along her back and kissing the crown of her head, taking his own solace by breathing in the citrus scent of her hair, until her tears abate and she quiets in his arms.
She takes a shuddering breath and pulls herself back from his embrace, his arms slackening on her as she raises her eyes to his, "I do love you," she says with feeling, "I meant that." Her eyes pin him; she needs him to understand the depth of her emotion. "It wasn't just the moment." He crushes her to his chest again. "I love you, Lizzie," he tells her finally, the words desperately escaping his grasp.
And then Red's mouth is on hers and she is opening for him, meeting every thrust of his tongue with her own, desire fiercely battling with tenderness. Breathless, they break apart, eyes meeting in a moment of shared acceptance. "I won't give you up," she tells him forcefully. Relieved, he exhales the breath he was holding. "Thank god!" he laughs, hands going to her face, cupping her cheek, fingers tracing over her lips, her jaw. He rests his forehead on hers, eyes closed, gratitude pouring off his body in waves.
He didn't know how he would have responded if she had told him that it had all been a mistake, if she had agreed, if she had walked out his door. He crushes her to him again, murmuring her name, "Lizzie&hellip.oh, my Lizzie!" for she is his now. "Red?" she asks tentatively. "Will you take me to bed?" He lets out a bark of a laugh, "I would love to do nothing more than do exactly that, but I think you'll have to take me to bed as I don't think I can get up off this floor".
She smiles up at him and rises gracefully to her feet. She bends at the waist, reaching down for him, wrapping her arms gingerly around his middle.
With a grunt of pain, he heaves himself up from the floor with her assistance. He leans heavily on her, a pained expression on his face. "Oh, Red," she squeaks, at the contortion of his features. "Come on, love, let's get you to bed. You should rest." Lizzie continues to berate him about the folly of refusing to go to the hospital all the way into the bedroom. "Where is your bag?" she demands once she has helped him lower himself onto the bed.
He is panting, his pain obvious on his face. "Closet," he nods in the direction of the wardrobe. She is gone only a minute for her search, returning with the bag in hand and dropping it onto the bed next to him.
"I'll get you some water; you need to take some pain meds, Red, please." "I don't want to be fuzzy tonight. I want to be aware for this. I want to spend my time with you and I'd like to be awake to do it!" he insists. "We have time now; it's making me wince to think about how sore your chest must be.
Please," she tells him firmly over her shoulder as she heads into the suite's kitchenette for a bottle of water. Red searches through the bag while she is gone and finds something suitable, but not too strong. If this were any other night, if he were alone, he would down a bottle of scotch to numb the pain and take something to knock him out and forget all about the searing pain knifing a ribbon of fire through his chest.
Lizzie returns with a handful of ice wrapped in a towel and the water. She stands over him as he downs the pills and helps him lie down, shifting pillows around him until he is comfortable. She removes his shoes and unbuttons his vest, pressing a chaste kiss to his lips before lying down next to him and curling into his side, careful not to jostle him. She wants to rest her head on his shoulder, but thinks better of it and rests her hand on his bicep instead.
"What will we do now?" she asks the question they are both thinking. "Well&hellip.I can think of a few things I'd like to do&hellip." he trails off suggestively. "Red!" she pushes his arm playfully. "I mean about the FBI," she looks at him seriously. "What do you want to tell them?" he asks carefully, letting her take the lead on this decision. "Nothing!" Lizzie exclaims. She toys with the fabric of his shirt for a moment, thinking.
"They've taken so much already&hellip.I don't want them to have this, too. If we tell them, they're going to split us up and you don't work with anyone else. That would mean voiding your immunity agreement and then I'm afraid they really would take you away from me for good. At the very least, they wouldn't trust me anymore." Red sighs, wishing he could make this easier for her.
"We could leave," he says simply. She looks up at him, surprised. "Leave? Like, just walk away from everything? Quit my job and just&hellip.leave?" He cannot tell if she is angry with him for the suggestion or if she is simply grappling with the possibility.
She is quiet for a moment. "We could leave," she whispers. Her eyes dart to meet him, a small smile on her lips. "Yes," he echoes quietly, "We could leave." They sit with the thought, a plan beginning to take shape in their minds. "We could travel," he tells her carefully, planting ideas like seeds, "See the world, sail&hellip.eat the most incredible food in the most amazing locations&hellip.make love in every country on the globe," he continues suggestively, bending his head and catching her earlobe between his teeth.
She smiles at his playful suggestions and gasps when he gently tugs on the tender flesh of her lobe. "We still have so much to do," she reasons, her tone just a bit regretful. "We haven't completed the Blacklist.
And I do love my job." She pauses and then smiles mischievously up at him, "It's a good backup plan anyway." Red smiles down at her, all his love for her shining in his eyes. She is considering his proposal, at least. It's a beginning. TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLT They stay up talking, making exotic, imaginative plans for their life away from the FBI.
The fantastic, improbable ideas are refreshing to think about after the harrowing adventure of the last few hours. Both are grateful for the opportunity to make plans at all, even unlikely plans, after coming so close to losing each other.
It is soothing and Red secretly files all her suggestions away, knowing that he could make every one of them come true for her if she only said the word. Finally, Lizzie can no longer keep her eyes open and slips into sleep in the middle of explaining her ideas for a house in the jungle that had no walls and pet monkeys that would come and go as they pleased. Red switches off the bedside light, rolling her into his arms.
He pauses before closing his eyes to thank the universe again for their rescue, for her love, for this second chance. He has never been as content as he is in this moment. TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLT She is back in the dungeon cell but the moonlight is gone.
She reaches out in the darkness, searching for him with her hands, but she can only feel the cold, rough concrete scratching her palms. "Red?" she begs in the darkness. Where is he? She is scrambling for him on all fours, desperately seeking him. The shouting starts again, and the smoke, and then they are there, hands clamping down on her arms, wresting her from the cell. But it isn't her friends this time. This isn't a rescue. No one is coming to sae them now.
They drag her down the hall, shadowy figures that move like ghosts. She is screaming for Red, but they don't answer her; pushing her forward harshly. She stumbles into walls, scraping her hands on the sharp stone, but still they urge her on, up the stairs now, shoving her from behind, heedless of her cries. She bursts through the door at the top of the stairs, as before, but now she isn't outside, she's in a round room of stone and there is no light, no salvation here.
The walls are coated in blood, the bright coppery stench all around here. And then he is, in front of her on his knees, eyes pleading with her. She lunges for him, but steely arms grasp her around her waist, halting her progress. His hands are bound behind him and tears stream down his face. She is screaming for him, wailing in the arms of her captor; she must reach him, touch him one more time.
She has to save him…… One of the ghosts materializes behind Red, his hands levelling a pistol at his head.
She fights harder now, clawing at the arms holding her, her throat raw with her screams. The shadowy finger is already squeezing the trigger. She gives one last impassioned lurch and the arms release her, letting her stumble forward to him. She is nearly there. She is reaching out. She can almost touch him. She hears the shot. She wakes with a scream, her upper body lunging off the bed.
She is gasping, desperately trying to drag air into her lungs. Red wakes immediately at her movement. He lifts his upper body painfully up off the bed, arms coming around her to still her trembling.
His back and chest are screaming with the effort, but he hides his pain in the dark and wraps his arms around her, leaning his upper body into hers for support as he rocks her back and forth. "It's alright, shhhh…&hellip.darling, it's ok…&hellip.you're ok, we're alright," he soothes her She is gasping, her chest heaving against his shoulder. He coos to her, "It's alright, Lizzie, it was only a dream." "Red!" she cries out, reassuring herself that he is really there, still with her, still alive.
"They were…&hellip.we were back there," she is sobbing. "I couldn't reach you&hellip.and they were&hellip.they were……"she is beginning to hyperventilate. "Lizzie," Red repeats her name, more firmly, to get her attention.
"Sweetheart, you've got to breathe," he instructs, demonstrating by taking deep breaths himself. "Just breathe, Lizzie, come on sweetheart, breathe for me." She begins to slow her breathing, following the even rise and fall of his chest against hers until her sobs subside again.
He presses a fierce kiss to her temple. "That's my girl," he soothes. "How about a shower?" Red suggests, smoothing her hair away from her face. "That might make you feel better." He checks the bedside clock; four 'o'clock AM. They have been asleep for just over two hours.
"You'll still have time to sleep for a bit before we go to meet Agent Ressler." She nods, "Come with me?" "Of course," he smiles. TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLT Under the bright lights of the spacious bathroom, she realizes her mistake.
"You can't get those bandages wet." Red grins at her, "How about a sponge bath?" Lizzie fills the tub with hot water and bubbles until it is waist high while Red strips off his clothes, leaving them in a pile in the corner. She watches him from beneath her lashes. It isn't a sexual moment, it is a practical one, but she can't help the flutters of desire that flicker through her.
He steps closer to her, hands at her waist. He peels her tank top over her head, tossing it behind him. His eyes are hooded, darkening with desire, captivated by her lips as they part imperceptibly when his fingertips come to rest on the hem of her pants. He has already had her, yes, but he hasn't seen her naked and she is suddenly shy. With effort, he drops to the floor, exposing the creamy expanse of her legs in one swift motion.
Kneeling bent over like this is excruciating, but he cannot resist uncovering her for this, the first time he will really see her bare. She places her hands on his shoulders for stability as he drags her leggings over her feet, one at a time. She feels the ridged flesh beneath her hands. She has known for a long time now about the scars and the truth about the fire, but this is the first time she has seen them, felt them. He stills below her, tensing; on his knees he lays a hand gently on the back of her calf for balance.
Lizzie caresses Red's shoulders, gently smoothing her hands over him until she feels him relax. "It's ok," she whispers, reassuring him. "I love you." He raises his head then, looking deeply into her eyes, letting his gaze speak all the words that her touch means to him. She tugs him up and helps him lower himself into the bath, the water sloshing just below the edges of the gauze wrapping his chest.
She pulls the rest of her own clothing off and slides into the water behind him, settling him back against her. She bathes him, washing away the last remnants of the terrible day from them both, careful to keep his bandages dry in the shallow water.
Long after they are clean, Lizzie continues to slide her hands over his skin, reassuring herself that he is here with her, and whole. Eventually, her caresses begin to arouse Red and he stills her wandering hands. "Mmmm, darling, you're going to have to stop that or you're going to start something we can't finish here." She nuzzles the back of his neck. "Then take me back to bed," she offers suggestively.
Chapter 4: Lizzie gently leans Red forward so she can slip out of the tub, wrapping a towel around herself before turning back to him. "This is going to be tricky," she warns. "It's alright, Lizzie, I'm quite used to dealing with pain," he reminds her. She clasps his forearms and pulls him steadily out of the bathtub, grateful that it only takes them one try and that he doesn't slip on the wet floor of the tub. He is scowling with discomfort, but clenches his jaw rather than protest.
She lovingly towels him dry, softly rubbing the fluffy cotton over his skin, carefully avoiding the stark white bandage wrapping his chest. There is an innocence to her ministrations and yet he can feel his arousal growing under her touch. She senses the change in his labored breathing, the heat of his skin, the look of intensity in his eyes.
She pulls herself up on her tiptoes, hands resting lightly on the scarred skin of his shoulders, and presses a quick kiss to his lips, that instantly changes into something more. His hands come up to cradle her face as he deepens the kiss, slowly thrusting his tongue into her mouth, exploring her as in ways he didn't have the opportunity to before.
He is so grateful for this chance and he pours all that into this one perfect kiss. Red's mouth is slanting over hers, angling her head toward him, his hands holding her to him gently, as if she would ever want to move away from his kiss.
She makes a small sound in the back of her throat and presses her body against his. His hands leave her face to encircle her waist, drawing her nearer, his lips continuing their exploration, drinking in her sighs. He wants to see her, to feel her smooth skin under his hands.
He gives her towel a quick tug and it slides to the floor and she is naked before him, radiant and dewy, perfectly formed in his arms. She gives a small squeal of surprise when she feels the hot, pulsing length of his erection bump against her belly. She didn't really have time to fully appreciate his size before. She rubs her body against him, forcing a low growl from his lips. She reaches down between them, wrapping her hand around him, sliding her palm along his length from root to cusp, sweeping fingertips across his head, lingering over the velvety tip as he continues to plunder her mouth.
He is hard and so ready for her. She sighs into his mouth, wishing they could continue here, a fantasy of him lifting her onto the high vanity and wrapping her legs around his waist playing out in her head. Regretfully, she breaks off their kiss. "Come on," she smiles up at him, taking him by the hand, "Let's get you back to bed." She leads Red back into the bedroom, pulling back the sheets and blankets and settling him once more onto the soft mattress, turning out the bedside lamp and cloaking the room in darkness.
But this time, instead of crawling into bed on her own side, she swings her leg over him and lowers herself onto his hips. Red's eyes widen in surprise; he cocks his head to one side, smiling at her. "Lizzie, I'm afraid I don't know how much use I'm going to be to you in my current state," he points out unhappily, a hand gestures across his chest. "Oh, no," she smiles deliberately, "You don't have to do a thing. In fact," she trails her fingers down his arms lightly, "I don't want you to move a muscle." Red's breath is already coming in pants as Lizzie takes charge of him for the second time in as many days.
He is spellbound by her confidence, her determination to give and take exactly what she wants, unable to move under her gaze even if he desired to. She stretches out over him, keeping the weight of her body carefully suspended over him on her arms. She kisses the tip of his nose playfully, dipping her head to nip along his strong jawline. She brushes her nose against his neck, breathing him in, the smell of their bath clinging damply to his skin.
Her tongue slides along him, flicking across his tiny scar; a reminder of the moment when he fell in love with her. She lingers along the hollow of his throat, his pulse racing against her tongue. She wants so badly to bite down on the throbbing beat surging just below his skin, to suck his flesh into her mouth and worry him with her teeth, but she is afraid it will cause him to jump, that it will cause him pain, so she reluctantly moves along.
She drags kisses through the soft hair on his chest, peeking out from the top of the bandage, her eyes rolling up to watch his face. His eyes are closed, his expression pained, but not because she is hurting him; he is fighting the impossible urge to flip her onto her back and sink his cock deep into her body, to feel her writhe beneath him.
His breathing is shallow as he waits for her to continue her exploration of his battered body. Lizzie raises herself into a sitting position and drags her hands down his arms, massaging his tight muscles as they go. She grips the firm strength of his biceps, traveling down along his elbows, squeezing each of his forearms thoroughly, her thumbs undulating in small, tight circles along his skin.
She draws one hand into her lap, rotating his wrist and pressing her thumbs in lines down the length of his palm. She creates tiny waves with her fingertips, rolling the joints of each finger delicately in her hands.
She completes one hand and switches to the other. He opens his eyes to watch her as she works; the tenderness on her face as she massages him is almost too much for him to witness. She lays his second hand back down on the bed at his side and reaches out to smooth both her palms lightly down his arms, coming to rest over the backs of his hands.
She repeats the motion, gradually lifting her hands off of him until he can only feel the warm air that her skin creates settling over his as though her touch is still present, as though he can still feel her. She glances up and notices him watching her intently. She smiles shyly, almost embarrassed. His gaze is hot on her skin; she quivers under the weight of it. Painstakingly, she drops her body down on his, sliding her hips backward down his legs.
She parts his muscled thighs with her hands, settling herself between his legs. Softly, she dipped her head to his straining length, covering him with her mouth in one fell swoop, taking him slowly deep inside.
He fought to keep his body on the bed, striving with every ounce of strength not to buck his hips deep into the recesses of her warm, wet mouth. He was panting, his breaths coming hard and fast, desperate and uneven as she sucked him down over and over again, taking his incredible length entirely into her mouth, until she could touch her lips to the skin at his base. Red can't stop the moans from emerging from his lips, his resolve crumbling with her expertly flicking tongue against the underside of his shaft.
She ranges over him again and again, her mouth wringing from him every strangled cry, every moan, every whisper of her name that he can manage, all of it spurring her on. She is drunk on the sound of his pleasure, driving her confidently forward as she reduces him to nothing more than sensation with the blistering heat of her tongue. She wraps one hand around the base of him, taking him shallower in her mouth to focus her attention on his head and the change is all he needs to feel that sweet spiral into abandon begin.
She strokes him firmly, sucking and swirling her tongue around his tip until she feels him stiffen in her mouth. Red cries her name, but she doesn't move from her position. As his frenzy peaks, she slams her mouth down on him, drinking in his hoarse shout of pleasure as completely as she drinks his release, swallowing both down, secretly satisfied that she has reduced the great Raymond Reddington with only her tongue.
He shudders as she draws him from her mouth, her lips releasing him warmly. She raises herself up; she needs to see him, to watch his face as he drifts down to earth, as he comes back to himself. His breathing is still ragged, chest trembling with the force of his orgasm, hands fisting in the sheets at his sides with the effort not to move his upper body during her assault on his lower extremity. Finally, Red opens his eyes to find his Lizzie watching him, a very contented smile on her face.
"That was&hellip." he sighs again, unable to verbalize what she has just caused him to experience. She chuckles, "Orgasms have healing powers, you know." "Well, in that case, I'm sure I have been completely cured," he allows, his eyes wide. She extricates herself from his lap and stretches out beside him, yawning, drawing the blankets up over them both. "Come here," he invites, opening his arms to her, unable to roll onto his side and hold her.
Lizzie cuddles into him, nestling her head carefully on his shoulder, one hand resting on his waist. She wants to sleep, but there is something niggling at the back of her brain, keeping her from relaxing.
Even after their lovely distraction, her mind is drifting back to her earlier nightmare. Red senses her tension. "What is it?" he asks her quietly. "Before&hellip." she begins, uncertain how to phrase her fears. "When I thought we were…&hellip. dying&hellip.when I thought you were&hellip.I dreamed they shot you. That they made me watch and I couldn't reach you in time." Her throat is working around the lump of unshed tears.
They have both cried enough tonight, but there are things she needs to say. She can't move past them if she doesn't speak them aloud. "I can't lose you. You don't know what that would do to me. So, please be sure that this is what you want, because this is serious for me." She needs to tell him, needs to be sure he understands.
He is still beside her in the dark. "I…" she begins. "I love you, Elizabeth. I'm not going anywhere," his tone is sure, solid, simple. "I love you." She nods against his shoulder, swallowing down her tears and her uncertainty with his reassurance. She sighs, closing her eyes, "I love you too, Red." Chapter 5: They meet Ressler in the morning and give their statements over breakfast in the restaurant at Red and Lizzie's hotel.
He is still irritated that they lied to him about the location of their assignment, but there are no inconsistencies with their stories, so he is forced to let his agitation go.
Red and Lizzie are scheduled to depart later that morning on the private jet and, in a moment of uncharacteristic camaraderie, Red invites Ressler to join them, sparing him the tedious banalities of a commercial coach flight.
Their trip back to D.C. is quiet and convivial, the three of them trading details about both sides of the op, and all have a fuller picture of what had gone wrong by the time they land at the private airstrip outside of Washington. Dembe is waiting for them when they leave the hangar.
Red embraces his friend and the two share a quiet few moments alone, discussing the fine points of Dembe's trip to Egypt. They load their luggage into the towncar and share quiet, affable conversation on the short ride to the Post Office.
Red asks Dembe to drop the agents at work, assuring them he will be back in a few hours after taking care of his own business at his safehouse.
"Thanks for the ride, and the flight," Ressler offers, climbing out of the car. "Don't mention it," Red waves him off cordially. Ressler unloads both his suitcase and Elizabeth's from the trunk and heads for the door to the Post Office. Red turns to Lizzie in the backseat of the car. He covers her hand with his on the seat, stroking his fingers over hers.
"I'll see you in a few hours?" She smiles at him, reassured, "I'll be here." Her eyes search his face. She fights the craving she feels to press her lips to his. They are too near work; there are cameras, other agents, and Ressler watching. Her eyes settle on his mouth, the tip of her tongue darting out to moisten the rim of her bottom lip.
He is transfixed by the motion of her lip, folding under the edge of her teeth as she draws it in, biting down on her own desire. A surge of longing shoots straight to his groin as he remembers the torment she wrought with that tongue only last night. He wants&hellip.
He lets out a ragged breath; there is nothing he can do about what he wants just now. "Will we ever have enough time?" she asks him unexpectedly. "We'll make the time," he assures her, squeezing her hand. "We'll steal it if we have to. And we'll make it count." She smiles, mollified, "Later." "Until then," he whispers.
Lizzie climbs out of the car. TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLT "Harold, we were almost murdered!" Red is shouting in Agent Cooper's office three hours later, pacing back and forth in front of the windows. Cooper shakes his head, "The FBI is not in the habit of granting vacation time to every agent every time they are endangered," he explains, exasperated.
"If we did, there'd never be any agents in the field!" "You are going to give her some time off. I won't have my immunity arrangement compromised because Agent Keen is unable to do her job," Red's tone is adamant. "I'm afraid it just isn't possible right now. We're short-staffed as it is," he presses his fingers to his temples; arguing with Red is giving him a headache. "What if it was a 'working' vacation?" Red offered.
"What do you mean?" "I have a new Blacklister for you, Harold, but this one requires some research and a good deal of finesse," Red explains. "We can work on it from my safehouse, but the time off would allow us to be flexible in terms of travel and workload.
I am convalescing, you know. Broken bones can be very&hellip.limiting." Cooper pauses for a moment, thinking it over. "How long do you suggest?" "A week." "Three days," he counters. Red purses his lips.
"Done." TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLT Red sweeps into the office she shares with Ressler cheerfully, fedora in hand, jacket draped over his arm. "Agent Keen, gather your things.
We're done here for today." Lizzie looks up from her computer, surprised. They have only been back a few hours. "What?" she asks, confused. "We've been granted a brief reprieve after our traumatic experience in the field," he emphasizes the word brief for Agent Ressler's benefit, seated a few feet away at the other desk.
"I can't leave now," she protests.
"I have paperwork; reports to file on our op--" He interrupts, "Bring them along." He can't quite keep the annoyance at having his plans tempered by Agent Cooper from his voice, "It's a working holiday." Within minutes, Elizabeth packs up her laptop and the relevant paperwork and is sliding her purse strap onto her shoulder as Red finishes outlining his plan for the next Blacklister to them.
His cellphone rings and he excuses himself, stepping out of their office to take the call. Ressler is looking at her pointedly. "You sure you want to be stuck working with Reddington for the next 72 hours?" he asks. "You could just work from here while he rests up at home." "I'll be alright," she covers, "You know he won't get anything done if one of us isn't there to needle him. I'll take the bullet this time," she grins at her partner. "Ok," he conceded, hands in the air.
"You know what you're doing, I guess." Red sticks his head back inside the doorway, "You ready?" She reads the eagerness in his face. "Yep, all set." Lizzie follows him out through the bustling corridors to the elevator. She waits for the doors to slide closed before she pins him with her stare. "What are you doing?" His hand finds hers at his side before he answers.
"Stealing time," His hand squeezes hers, "And making it count." Chapter 6: "This isn't the way to your safehouse," Lizzie points out in the back of Red's car as his driver speeds them away from the Post Office. "Hmmm, no it isn't," he murmurs distractedly, rubbing his thumb over the backs of her knuckles, holding her hand tenderly clasped against his leg.
"Red?" she prompts, squeezing his hand, "I thought you said you told Cooper we were working from your safehouse this week?" "I lied," he states simply, a smile blossoming on his face. "I wanted you all to myself for a few days; I told him what he needed to hear to make that possible." A smile slowly spreads across Lizzie's face, "So&hellip.where are we going?" "I have a lovely little cocoa plantation in Costa Rica," he shares. "I thought we'd spend a few days there; soak up the sun, maybe visit the Arenal volcano, and of course, tour the cocoa fields." "That sounds.really relaxing," she sighs.
"Shouldn't we be heading to my place so I can pack?" "Not necessary! Everything has already been provided and is waiting on my jet," Red looks positively pleased with himself. "When in the world did you find the time to do all that?" Liz stares incredulously. Red just smiles ambiguously and tucks her into the fold of his arm for the remainder of the ride to the airstrip. TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBL Five hours later, they touch down in Costa Rica and Liz finds herself swept up in a romantic getaway that only Raymond Reddington could plan on a few short hours' notice.
Pulling up to the manor house, Liz says the only word she can think of to describe the view,"Wow." Red regals her with stories about the property's acquisition, his grooming of the cocoa field workers which has allowed them to raise their status in the community, and the lush profits which fund a nearby school. Lizzie is taken aback by his generosity, awed, as she always is, by the elaborate enigma that is her Red. They tour the property, walking slowly to accommodate Red's pain.
The plantation's foreman, Diego, accompanies them, explaining the process they use to cultivate the cocoa plants. After updating Red on the farm's progress, he leaves them to continue their tour alone. "Diego is a dear friend," he says of the slight man walking toward one of the barns. "I plucked him out of the hands of a Colombian drug cartel years ago and relocated him here." "Whyever for?" Liz expresses her surprise.
Red stares at her enigmatically for a moment, as he often does, head cocked to one side, clear amber sunglasses shading his view, before answering. "I saw something in him," he tells her simply. He continues forward. "Let's return to the house. I could use a coffee." "What made you want to go into the chocolate business?" Lizzie questions.
"The Chorotega natives used cacao as currency. As a businessman who often finds himself dealing in trades with unorthodox payment properties, I found the symbolism quite amusing." Lizzie shakes her head and smiles as she follows him up to the house. Only Red would sink millions into a property simply for the symbolism. TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBL The Costa Rican night sky is beautiful, clear, and empty as they sit on the patio after dinner.
Red looks relaxed, legs stretched out in front of his chair, cool and collected in his suit pants and vest the color of sand. His cream fedora, never far, rests on the table near his glass of scotch. Lizzie is standing near the edge of the paved patio floor, a glass of wine in her hand, staring up at the sky. He calls to her from his place at the table, "What do you see?" She returns to him, smiling. "Nothing, and it's perfect. I don't think I've ever seen a night sky so clear." The crickets are chirping out across the cocoa fields, a serenade to their conversation.
Lizzie sighs contentedly, settling back into her seat. "This is beautiful, Red; thank you for bringing me here," she tells him sincerely. A soft smile rests on his lips for her. "I would take you everywhere, my love, if only you were free to go." "I know," she replies quietly.
She knows this is a conversation they are going to need to have, but she wants to stave it off just a little longer. The corners of her lips quirk up as inspiration dawns. She rises gracefully from her chair, moving around the table to stand in front of Red's chair.
"How are the ribs?" she asks him. His answer will dictate the next part of her plan. "Oh, they're fine." He looks up at her expectantly.
"Sore, but fine. Why? What did you have in mind?" There is a lilt of anticipation in his voice, as if he is hoping she will suggest something naughty. She chuckles at him, extending both her hands to him. "Get your mind out of the gutter, Reddington," she teases. "Come on, dance with me." He allows her to pull him from the chair. "We don't have any music." She draws him into her arms, across the stone.
"Sure we do; can't you hear it?" He nestles his face into her auburn hair, smiling. "Ah, my love, you always know how to see the best in every situation." They sway gently together in a rough approximation of dancing, content merely to be near each other, eyes closed, moving together.
After a time, she sighs, prompting him to lift his head and peer at her in the darkness. "What?" he inquires softly. "I know we have to talk about my job," she admits.
Red pauses, hands still on her hips. "Do you want to talk about it?" She groans, "No, but I know we need to. We have to figure this out; we need to make a plan." He smiles reassuringly, "Well, I think this conversation would go much better with alcohol. And you&hellip.naked." Lizzie laughs, relieved that he is willing to discuss it and by his quick, disarming humor. She allows him to guide her inside with a warm hand on the small of her back, and up to the master suite, their drinks in hand.
It is the first opportunity she has had to see their room and she is speechless as he leads her into the breathtaking open space. Soft candlelight glows on various surfaces around the room, casting shadows. The big four-poster bed is draped with gauzy white fabric that billows gently in the breeze from the open french doors leading out to the balcony, overlooking the cocoa fields.
She leaves her wine glass on the dresser as she crosses to the balcony doors, letting the warm breeze wash over her skin. Red pauses behind her, his hands encircling her hips, head dropping forward to nuzzle her neck. His lips nibble her skin enticingly and her eyes close. "Hey," she protests softly and convincingly, "I thought we were going to talk about work." One hand drifts up from her hip to caress her jawline, gently turning her face towards him, pressing a soft kiss to her mouth over her shoulder.
"We will," he promises, "but you aren't naked yet." His kiss is more urgent now, his tongue darting past her lips to caress her. As the kiss deepens, Red turns her in his arms, hands knotting in her long brown locks to angle her head back for his exploration. He breaks away from her to kiss across her jaw, down her neck, leaving her panting in his arms.
His fingertips trail over the fabric of her clothing, tugging, unbuttoning, untucking, unzipping; each new sound an emphatic revelation to her ears. He undresses her with exaggerated slowness, pulling each item effortlessly from her body and letting it drop, walking her backward a step with each piece he removes until the backs of her knees hit the bed. His hands on her hips playfully toss her back, spilling her onto the bed.
He takes a moment to gaze at his handiwork; her beautiful body is splayed out before him, creamy skin radiant in the flickering illumination, a sharp contrast against the dark heather of the cashmere blanket. He wants to taste every inch of her sacred flesh, but his body restricts him at the moment, his broken ribs protesting any strenuous movement. Lips twitching, he reaches down and grasps her ankles in his strong hands and drags her closer to the edge.
A squeal of surprise escapes her, delighting him as he drops her legs to dangle against the side of the bed. Stretching across her body, he steals a pillow from the bed and tosses it at his feet. With care, he lowers himself to kneel at the edge of the mattress, his hungry eyes devouring her above him. He parts her knees with his hands, leaning forward to lick along the inside of her left thigh. He creeps along until he reaches the apex of her legs, and then teasingly skips over it to nibble his way down her right thigh.
Lizzie breathing grows shallow the moment she realizes his intent. Now, she is panting on the soft mattress, alternately holding her breath and gasping for air as he teases along the edge of her knee with his lips. He finds his way back up to her center and pauses. She holds her breath, preparing for his tongue to invade her. Red's mouth closes over her core, sucking all of her into his mouth, his tongue lapping over her clit. She moans, her back arching off the bed at his sudden, sweet torment.
He continues driving her higher, releasing her from the suction of his mouth, but driving his tongue harder against her folds. He explores her with his mouth, tasting her sugar on the back of his tongue. Lizzie's hands fist in the soft blanket beneath her, desperate for something to cling to. She thrusts her hips against his mouth, encouraging him deeper. The small sounds she makes fuel his desire to please her, his own lust pooling low in his body. "Please, Red," she gasps, her back bowing off the mattress.
He smiles against her clit and gives her what she wants, sliding his middle finger gently through her folds into her sheath. She exhales the breath she is holding, shivering around his seeking digit. He curls it against her, stroking it across her sensitive spot. Her moan cuts through the heady, tropical air. Red flicks the tip of his tongue over her as he begins to plunge his finger into her, keeping time with the beats of her heart.
Soon, she is begging for more, her hands grappling for his head, holding him to her. He wedges her thighs further apart, keeping her open to him, holding her in place with the breadth of his shoulders. He slips his middle finger from between her folds, replacing it with his index finger, and gently slides it into the tiny, puckering furrow of her ass. She whimpers above him as her control dissolves on his tongue and she is reduced to a quivering, weeping mass on the bed.
Red continues to suckle her clit as Lizzie's orgasm pulses around his fingers, her body devouring his slender digits inside her clasping recesses. He holds on until her hands become insistent against his skull, begging his mercy for her reprieve. He releases her, dropping wet kisses along her thighs as he settles back on his haunches, watching her as she trembles down from her high. Finally, when her gasping breaths have slowed, he pushes himself up from the floor with effort and lowers himself on the bed next to her.
She rolls haltingly onto her side to pillow her head on his arm. His fingers flit over every available surface of her skin that he can reach from his current position.
"So," she sighs contentedly after several long minutes, "we were going to talk about something&hellip.?" He chuckles at her, twining his fingers through hers. "Yes, I believe you said something about work," he reminds helpfully. "Mmmm&hellip.yes," she agrees sleepily. "I don't know how we're going to keep this a secret." "I've been thinking about that as well," he admits.
"There are just so many roadblocks in our way," she begins. "You're my asset; this is out-of-bounds on so many levels. Your business is illegal and I could be compromised just by association with you. Your status with the FBI is tenuous at best and, realistically, they could revoke your rights at anytime." "All that is true," he allows.
"And then there's Cooper; oh my god, Cooper would lose his mind. And can you even imagine Ressler's face if we told him?" Red is quiet, letting her get it all out. "I mean, I don't know how I'm going to keep my hands off of you at the Post Office," she tells him honestly.
"Not to mention the fact that we'll likely be coming into work and leaving work together more often. And the FBI can track your chip, so they'll know that we're together all the time." She fumbles over her words, cheeks burning, as she realizes the implication of what she has just said.
"Oh!.I.not that&hellip.I'm sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that we would always be-" she babbles. "Move in with me," he cuts her off. She stares at him, stunned into silence. She regards him skeptically, weighing the ramifications before deciding just to leap; leap and trust that he will always, always catch her.
"Ok," she smiles as the word leaves her lips. She relaxes against him in relief, but then her brow furrows again. "They'll find out," she reasons. Red's eyes search hers, his hand resting against her cheek. He pulls her in for a tender kiss.
"Then they find out. And, we'll figure out what to do then." She nods, her eyes closed. He settles her head back onto his arm, kissing the tip of her nose lightly. He holds her as she falls asleep, daydreaming about the possibility of a life where he can actually keep her. TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBL They spend the better part of the next two days working, just as Red had promised Cooper they would.
Though he does spirit Lizzie away to see the volcano for an afternoon, most of her time is spent typing and emailing reports to Ressler, while Red is on the phone tracking down contacts and arranging meetings with their next Blacklister.
"We're all set for tomorrow," Red announces, snapping his phone closed as he walks in from the patio. Lizzie looks up from her laptop. "What time?" "We leave in the morning and we should arrive back in D.C. around 3:00. We have a dinner meeting with him at 7:00," Red outlines their timeline for her, plucking a grape from the bowl of fruit at her elbow.
She smiles up at him. "I'll call Ressler." "Brief him, but inform him that you and I will be the only ones attending the meeting. My contact is skittish; we don't need to spook him with an entourage. He can wait in the surveillance van." Red's tone is firm.
"He won't like that," she admonishes. "Yes, well, there are very few things that involve me that Donald does like." He places a kiss on her shoulder as she reaches for her phone, bringing a smile to her lips.
For their last night in Costa Rica, Red surprises her with a tray of chocolate confections from a local bakery and they spend the evening in bed. Red shows her several condo listings that his people have vetted. They pore over features and debate the merits of location: fireplaces and marble countertops, clawfoot baths and views of the park.
It's still early when she falls asleep in his arms, her mind full of their plans, but he lets her slumber, staying awake hours longer to watch her peaceful repose. He is happier than he could have anticipated; happier, he knows, than he has a right to be. She is back in that stone chamber, the man with the gun aiming at Red. He is kneeling in the center of the floor, his hands bound behind his back. She is screaming for them to wait, to stop, pleading with them for his life.
His eyes are begging her to run the other way, but she struggles to reach him. She is running, running towards him, her hands reaching out, she is almost there, she can almost touch him, and then&hellip.she hears the shot.
Lizzie bolts upright in bed, a scream frozen in her throat. She holds herself taut for a moment, gasping to recover her breath, chest heaving. Her eyes dart around the unfamiliar room in the darkness. They are in Costa Rica, she remembers. She glances down at her side; Red is still sleeping, his features relaxed.
Sleep is such a luxury for him that she doesn't want to wake him for this. Quietly, she extricates herself from the covers and climbs out of bed, careful not to disturb him. She pads silently to the balcony and curls up in one of the patio chairs, wrapping her arms around herself, unable to chase away the chill though the air is balmy.
She stares out across the fields, illuminated by starlight, reliving the nightmare in her mind. What would she have done if Ressler and the team hadn't arrived in time?
What if she'd never had the chance to tell him how she felt?
She can't bear the thought of it; cannot think of what her life would look like without Red in it, especially now. It is painful enough to remember all the wasted time, months, years even, that they could have spent together, learning each other, loving each other. It had all been such a waste. And that is what her life will return to, she realizes, if the FBI were to find out about their relationship. They would take him from her as surely as the ghosts in her dream had.
She buries her head in her hands and lets the terror of her awful dream leak out of her eyes. She startles when she feels a pair of strong hands grasp her knees. "Lizzie, what is it?" The gravelly tones of Red's sleepy voice wash over her, a calming wave. She opens her eyes to find him kneeling in front of her, concern etching his features. Forgetting his injured ribs, she throws herself at him, burying her face against his neck.
Red's arms wind around her, holding her tightly to him, ignoring the sharp pain in his chest. Her hot tears scald his skin as he tries to calm her frantic sobbing. "Please, sweetheart, tell me what's wrong," he pleads.
"We can't tell them!" she exclaims, pulling back from him desperately, her hands clutching at the material of his t-shirt. "Cooper and the FBI; we can't tell them about us! They'll take you away from me, they'll put you in a hole somewhere and I'll never be able to find you. Please, Red, they can't ever know!" He smoothes his hands over her face, her hair, searching her eyes for some clue to understand her terror.
"Ok," he says seriously, his eyebrows knitting together. "But, sweetheart, I don't know if we can live together and keep that from them for very long. It just isn't practical.
Someone will find out. What do you want to do?" "I can't lose you, please! We do whatever we have to, and if that means we can't move in together, then&hellip.we c-can't," her voice breaks and she falls apart in his arms again. It feels like hours that he holds her like that, until she is so exhausted that he simply gathers her up and sits in the chair with her on his lap, her tear-streaked face pressed against his chest.
He watches the sun come up over her sleeping head, his jaw working tensely against his own anguish. When he awakens her with a kiss on her temple, she is withdrawn, regretful; the sunrise burns away for the gloom, but does nothing to quell the sadness in her heart.
They ready themselves for the day in silence, both of them unsure of how to proceed, the terror of the night clinging to them even in the morning light. The flight back to Washington is strained and quiet. When Red drops her at the Post Office, she is grateful to have a few hours to herself before their meet tonight.
He reminds her that he will pick her up at 6:00 from her motel. She climbs out of the car, clutching her laptop, with a long look behind her as his car pulls away. Red stares out the window forlornly; how different today is from the last time they were in this same place.
He shakes himself mentally; he is the Concierge of Crime for heaven's sake! Surely he can find a solution to this problem. He need only set his mind to the task; he will find a way to convince Lizzie that they deserve a chance together.