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Cops and Robbers

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Red let Lizzie rest for as long as possible against his shoulder without waking her. He knew this entire song and dance by heart. She needed the rest to reset her mind and give her an opportunity to adjust. She was a strong woman, she could absolutely do this. He had no doubt that with time and experience, she would be far more adept and shrewd then even he was.

“Lizzie” he nudged her but shrugging his shoulder slightly.

Her eyes opened and her head came up with a snap. “Where are we?”

“Safe. For now at least. It’s time to change vehicles and clothes though. Alright?”

He reached to the seat in front of them and handed her a duffel bag. “Now, I know that you might have some…reservations about this, but it is our best option at this point. It will provide us with the protection that we need while we are without any other help save for each other.”

 

 

She opened up the bag to examine the contents. Laughter bubbled up from inside of her, she couldn’t help it. When he looked at her like he was worried about her sanity, she laughed harder. In between her guffaws, she said “Cops. I was so worried you’d dress me like a hooker or something as equally garish. Being completely dressed with a gun on my hip and a bullet proof vest on is probably the safest I’ve been in years.”

Bemused, his smile was all teeth and crinkled eyes as he looked at her. “You thought I’d dress you as a scantily-clad hooker in the middle of the day? Clearly you watch too many movies.”

She shrugged “So I don’t keep up with lady of the night couture, sue me. How long do we have?”

Red was already out of his jacket and working the buttons of his vest and shirt-front, revealing his snow white undershirt.

She had to shake herself to snap out of her ridiculous staring. They were on the run. From every single governmental agency. A certain amount of expediency was required. Her making eyes at Reddington was helping no one.

As she shed her jacket and her shirt she decided to make things less awkward by talking. “So what’s your disguise?”

“A sergeant, of course.” He said and looked up with a grin, only to freeze in place when he realized that she was shirtless. He looked away quickly, continuing on his own costume change. But not before she saw the tell-tale flaring of his nostrils.

She wished she could see his eyes, but those damned sunglasses of his blocked out most of her view of them.

He had his bullet proof vest and shirt on before she even had her vest on.

Her range of motion was hindered by the tiny space in the back seat of the van. She couldn’t quite get the side strap closest to Red tight enough and was struggling when finally, he sighed and knocked her hands away.

“Didn’t they train you how to put on Kevlar in the FBI?”

His fingers brushed underneath the vest on her bare skin and she gasped. She didn’t want him to know that his touch affected her, so she covered it up with “Not so tight, I need to breathe, right?”

His mouth quirked up on one side, his intense gaze letting her know that he knew just what her problem was “If you actually get hit with a bullet and you’ll think that it’s not tight enough no matter how much you’re left gasping from the…impact.”

She knew better than to enter a verbal sparring match with him. Jesus, that man had a quip for everything. She hated it, but she loved it too.

They both shimmied their pants down at the same time, but she knew better than to say a single word. Just kept her eyes averted from his surprisingly strong-looking legs, the muscles in his thigh were well defined, the sparse hair made her want to reach her hand out and-

“Lizzie, I assure you that my leg is quite real. There’s no need for you to reach out and touch it to make sure.”

Horrified, she snatched her hand back. She hadn’t even realized that she had moved. She wanted to smack her head against the back of her seat and groan. But instead she said “I was actually going to point out that although you’re still wearing grandpa socks, I’m proud of you for forgoing the sock garters.”

His eyes narrowed and he looked like he was mad, but he just stared at her and then scared the crap out of her by throwing his head back and laughing uproariously.

She knew he was laughing at her, so she moved back to put on the rest of the horrible regulation beat cop uniform. She hoped that wherever they were going, they wouldn’t have to stay in the uniforms long.

Red was near finished as well. She was a little miffed that he was completely unaffected by having her change right in front of him. She had begun to think that maybe he was attracted to her.

Maybe as much as she was attracted to him.

To put her utility belt on she thrust her hips up into the air, and purely by accident, at the same exact time that Red was leaning over to grab his standard issue Glock, mace, and flashlight to weave on to his belt. Which of course caused his nose to nearly collide with her hips.

He reared his head back quickly. He’d have her believe him cool, unaffected. But he licked his lips and closed his eyes briefly. She wanted to be immature and do a fist pump of triumph into the air, but she restrained herself, barely.

She did however put her hat on and turned to look at him sternly. She said “Sir, I’m going to need to ask you for some identification, please.” In her sternest, most authoritative voice.

She thought he might be praying, but he just opened his eyes, no hint of arousal, and said “Thank you for reminding me, Lizzie.”

He rummaged around in the bottom of his bag and came up with two official police badges with their identification marking them as ‘Aurora Hershey’ and she peered over at his to see his name was ‘Anthony Hamilton’.

“Why do you get a normal name and I get one that sounds like a badge bunny?”

He snorted “Badge bunny? I am sure that I can figure out your meaning, but please elaborate to make sure we’re on the same page.”

She blushed, not wanting to explain and cursing her big fat mouth “Badge bunnies are chick that hang out in places where law enforcement officers gather after hours like a bar or tavern. They single out the police officers to sleep with.”

He grinned. He knew she didn’t mean to share that much. Bastard. She wanted to smack that grin off of his face, or kiss it off. Either one would work for her. But she didn’t get a chance before Red said “gather your things and put them in the duffel, we’re at our next vehicle. Leave nothing behind.”

He helped her out of the van, and escorted her around the far side of an abandoned industrial building. It didn’t look familiar. They’d been in the van for hours, so honestly they could be anywhere on the eastern seaboard.

She came to a quick halt and laughed at the vehicle awaiting them. An actual police cruiser. Peering in the windows, she saw that it was outfitted with all the bells and whistles that all cruisers had. She knew that Red would never put them in a vehicle that could be tracked, so the technology must be masked somehow, untraceable by GPS locators.

Would she ever not be surprised at the vastness of his resources?

They placed their bags in the trunk and she moved towards the driver’s side, but Red was already there, blocking her way. “I’ll drive, Lizzie.”

“I don’t want to die. Are you sure you remember how to drive?”

He stiffened, offended. “I’m the superior officer. Of course I know how to drive. Now, are you going to ride in the front as my partner, or in the back as my badge bunny?”

He was mad, his voice was low and gravelly. She’d heard it many times before. But this time made her hot and cold at the same time. She flushed and walked around to the front seat.

Once inside and Red started the engine she asked “So what’s the plan? What are we going to do next?”

His smile was small, but she was relieved that he seemed to have forgiven her. “Well, I have an associate to meet in a few hours or so. Then we’re going to break into a home and we’re going to utilize your exemplary sticky fingers to acquire something that we’ll need to continue our journey. I’m hoping you’re not too rusty with safes, because there is this charming little pub that I am dying to take you to.”

She was incredulous “You want to rob someone and then catch a quick bite to eat?” She couldn’t even fathom how his mind worked.

He just blinked a few times and said “Technically we will be burglarizing them, as the dwelling will be empty. Robbery is when people are involved. How do you not know that? And as for the pub, Molly’s has the most exquisite Crab Cakes I’ve ever tasted. And they give a law enforcement twenty percent discount so the timing is beyond perfect.”

At that moment, she was only sure of one thing; she was going crazy and Raymond Reddington was driving her there.

Chapter Text

“You said there were no people involved. You sit on a throne of lies, Reddington.” Her hiss was full of fury, but he just smiled and said “Calm down, Lizzie. There’s only a couple of cars in the driveway. The senator is out of the country. We’ll just tell them that we received a report of a domestic disturbance. We will pretend to check the house out. I’ll take the first floor, you’ll go up to the second. Third door on the right is a bedroom, the safe is on the wall to the right when you walk in. I’ll keep everyone busy down stairs while you crack the safe. It’s not hidden, its old fashioned. This should take ten minutes, tops.”

The house was enormous and in a gated community, although Red had no problem gaining the code from an associate.

They could hear the music long before they even reached the porch. “You see, this will be even easier than we thought, Lizzie. This music is a crime and we are doing the world a favor by making them shut it off.”

He pulled out his nightstick and knocked loudly on the door with it. No answer. They probably couldn’t hear Red knocking so she pressed the doorbell about ten times to see if that proved more successful.

She couldn’t help but tease him as she continued to ring the bell. “You’re stick’s not quite doing the job, I suppose I’ll just have to push the button.” Her smile was all dimples, but quickly faded when Red stepped closer into her space.

He held up the stick as if pondering a thought but then shook his head. “Not my stick. This is much too narrow. And I can assure you that it’s more than able to do the job, sweetheart.”

Before she could think of a response, the door swung open to a drunk man that couldn’t be much younger than her.

She looked at Red to take the lead on the explanations. They walked inside as Red repeatedly told the man that someone had reported an issue and they would need to check out the house to make sure nothing illegal was going on.

Instead of looking afraid that he was in trouble with the law, he looked excited and led them in to the main room where many, many more drunk men were waiting.

The music died down to a lower decibel as the song changed. One of the men took one look at them and yelled “Stripper’s here!”

Whoops and hollers emitted from every male in attendance, of which there were about twenty.

The breast decorations and sign indicated that Red had led her into a bachelor’s party.

She looked to Red to once again and hoped he would use that silver tongue of his.

He didn’t fail her “I hate disappoint you, but we’re here because of a report of a domestic disturbance.”

The man who’d answered the door glared at him, not as drunk as he’d seemed at the door. “I am son of Senator Ronald Brown and I can assure you, I’ve met every single officer in this jurisdiction. You are not one of them and neither is she. So who are you?”

Liz’s mind raced. This man was a bad man who’d obviously had his fair share of encounters with the police and who knows what kind of weapons they had. Or, they would call the actual police and both she and Red would be facing the death penalty if caught. She couldn’t let that happen.

So she stepped in front of Red and said “My partner is just here to make sure that no one gets too hands-y. I want you to have a good time. A real good time.” She hoped she was projecting enough seductress instead of the pure terror that she really felt.

She tried to take another step but Red stopped her by grabbing his arm. He turned to the host “We’ll be right back. We need to make sure everything is ready.”

And he pulled her behind him back to the foyer where he growled “What the hell do you think you’re doing. You don’t know the first thing about exotic dancing and even if you did, there’s no way I would allow you to strip in front of a crowd of drunk, entitled yuppie frat boys. There’s no way they will keep their hands to themselves, you have to realize that.”

She looked into his eyes and they were awash with a torturous, jealous rage. “Red, I have a plan. You need what’s in the safe. We wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. I’ll do this for you. It will be alright, I promise.” She tried to keep her voice reassuring and soft, but his eyes narrowed.

“You’re shaking, Lizzie. We will find another way. I don’t want you to do this.” He saw right through her, he always did. But he also had to realize that this was their only available plan of action.

He sighed and she was glad he was going to be reasonable. But then he grabbed her to him and crushed her into a quick kiss that ended as soon as it began.

“For god sakes don’t take your underwear off, or every politician’s son in a hundred and fifty mile radius will meet an untimely end tonight.”

She was too dazed by his actions to think of a witty retort. She wished he were joking, but there was nothing but anger and danger in his eyes. She shivered, knowing that if anything happened to her, nothing would save them.

 

She just wanted to get this night over with so she went with “Stand in the back of the crowd” as she walked towards the chaos.

 

Tbc…

Chapter Text

 

He stood towards the back, hating this entire situation with every fiber of his being. She had no idea what this could do, the danger she was placing herself in.

His gut clenched as she moved through the throng of whistling jack asses to the music player and perused the contents for what seemed like hours, but was only a minute or two.

She was nervous, biting her lip, not realizing that her coy demeanor was acting as lighter fluid to the men.

Pushing the men away from an empty corner opposite of his position, she took closed her eyes and took a deep breath as the music started.

Instead of the usual heavy bass one would dance to, a deep piano solo filled the room. Her eyes were on him and him alone and he knew that this was going to be the most challenging minutes of his life.

                I look and stare so deep in your eyes.

Spine stiffened, nostrils flared, he watched as she told him with just a look that this dance was for him. Off came her hat, into the corner as her hips began to undulate to the music.

              I touch on you more and more every time

Every man in the room wanted to be the hands that travelled up her body, glancing over her breasts to the top button on her shirt.

             When you leave I'm begging you not to go

Three buttons, four. He could hardly breathe, the air was so oppressive.

             Call your name two or three times in a row

Eyes downcast, he groaned when her tongue flicked out to wet her lips while she concentrated on the rest of her buttons.

            Such a funny thing for me to try to explain

He was wrong in his thinking that she’d have trouble with the vest, but the shirt went the way of the hat with the vest quickly after.

           How I'm feeling and my pride is the one to blame

She looked into his eyes again and made her way into the throng of plush leather chairs containing men that stared, just as mesmerized as he was. His heart was pounding a tribal roar in his hears and he could hardly hear the music as she rubbed up against man after man.

           And I still don't understand,

          Just how your love could do what no one else can

Again, her eyes flashed up to his as those words spoke volumes for her. He wanted to drag her out of here and find the nearest room and not leave for a week. But they were so close and he had to have those papers, it was quite literally life or death.

         Got me looking so crazy right now

         Your love's got me looking so crazy right now

Grinding and dipping to the music, she made her way to him, but didn’t stop in front of him. Rather, she chose to dance behind him and surreptitiously ran a hand across his back. Reassurance? He had no idea, but through the layers of Kevlar and stiff fabric he felt her touch like a brand.

         Got me looking so crazy right now

         Your touch got me looking so crazy right now

Throughout the rest of the song, she worked the room of panting dogs better than any professional he’d ever seen. He had no idea where the talent had come from, but he’ll damn sure find out.

She gyrated out of her pants, leaving her in boy short panties that left the lower cleft of her cheeks exposed. Her serviceable black cotton bra should not have looked so sexy.

           I'm not myself lately I'm foolish, I don't do this

The crowd called for more and she turned away, looked over her shoulder with a shy smile. As she turned back around, his heart stopped. Her bra must’ve had a front clasp because the

           I've been playing myself, baby I don't care

 

Her journey ended with the groom to be. The singer’s husky voice repeated oh, oh provocatively as Lizzie wrapped herself around the man and caused his blood to boil from a jealous rage. It looked to him as if she were whispering the line into his ear. And then she bit his ear lobe.

         Your kiss got me hoping you'll save me right now.

Red found himself in front of the pair without even realizing he made the dozen or so steps to complete the journey. “We’re done here.” His gut was churning as he tried to make eye contact with Lizzie, but couldn’t. His eyes were glued to the hands that were cupping and squeezing the globes of her ass cheeks.

Everyone clapped and cheered. Catcalls were thrown from every corner of the room.

Lizzie whispered into an ear that Red contemplated severing. Right there, right then, no matter the witnesses.

The man nodded and allowed her to stand. Lizzie pulled him away from the crowd. “I’m going to go upstairs now. It will be believable to everyone here. Don’t freak out. I’ll meet you outside in ten minutes or so, ok? Grab my clothes and hat for me, please.”

The groom stood, didn’t even attempt to mask his erection as he grabbed Lizzie roughly and pulled her behind him from the room.

Red followed at a fast clip, ready to sign Mr. Brown’s pink slip with his shitty police issued Glock. But then they reached the stairs, she turned to him, winked, and mouthed “Ten minutes”. She followed it with a fake laugh at whatever the tool said to her.

*****

Nine minutes later, Red couldn’t take it anymore. He walked around to the back of the house, ready to break in. If anything happened to her he’d never forgive himself. And Senator Brown would be minus one heir.

The lock on the back door was older with no dead bolt. He snorted, it was child’s play. The music pumped through every corner of the house was as offensive and jarring as it was when they first knocked.

All the better to mask his entrance. But he didn’t make it any further than the mudroom when a still topless Lizzie came barreling into him.

It was all he could do to keep them from tumbling to the ground in a heap.

He looked down into her tearstained face “What. Where are you hurt?”

A sniffle “I’m not hurt, Red, but the senator’s son won’t stay out for long. We need to go now. This was everything in the safe. If you need something else, then you’re stripping for them next, because I’m officially retired.”

She handed him a large manila envelope that she’d held close to her side.

“We can go, but I absolutely don’t believe you. But you can explain in the car.”

He had his arm around her, so worried about her that he didn’t even think about her being naked, only about how he could help her. Lizzie didn’t cry for no reason. Ever. Something awful had to have happened for her to not only cry, but to get so worked up that her face was splotchy red and she sniffled uncontrollably.

The possibilities made him want to literally kill people.

She dressed quietly, with no more emotion than she would display on a given day.

At lease she was no longer crying. Her tears ripped his guts wide open, flayed him from the inside out.

He wanted to say something, anything, but he was too raw, too exposed.

Turns out, he didn’t have to because Lizzie spoke first. “You need to chill out, Red. He didn’t hurt me, barely touched me, in fact. I’m crying because I broke a nail and I have ovaries. So move on.”

His brows lowered as he looked at her, contemplated how truthful she was being.

“Alright. Are you hungry?” He tried to sound like he believed her, but something was nagging at the back of his mind. His hunches were nearly always correct.

She nodded “Yeah, we’re going to go to Molly’s? Because I worked up an appetite while you just pouted for ten minutes. Crab cakes sound awesome.

At her reminder of exactly how he’d worked up an appetite, Red couldn’t stop the images of her dancing, watching him, from his mind. He didn’t even want to try.

“Speaking of your stellar performance, wherever did you learn such provocative…skills? You really must share, because I think that therein lies a story that bears repeating.”

 

Tbc…

Chapter Text

As Red waited for her reply, his fingers gripped the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white. She was hiding something from him.

He was greatly relieved that their acquisition went so smoothly. They could leave now. By this time tomorrow, he’d have Lizzie sipping cocktails on a deserted beach, three sheets to the wind…and spilling her guts about why she was crying.

As a firm believer in ‘knowledge is power’, he despised not knowing. Until the time he knew, he’d not be able to rest. From that moment on, what affected her, affected him. It was that simple.

“So? The suspense is killing me.” Dear god, she was a magnificent dancer. It was something that he never would have guessed or anticipated.

Her dance was a siren’s song, calling hordes of ships to perish along the rocky shores of the ocean. They’d die with a smile too, if their last view of the earth was as beautiful as she was.

He drove, yet was still unable to keep himself from constantly glancing her way. Her gaze was on the distance.

“Pole dancing is great for the core. It works your abs like nothing else.” She said confidently. She wasn’t ashamed by any means.

“You,” he cleared his suddenly dry throat “You know how to pole dance?” There was zero chance that he would never attempt to get her to dance for him.

“How?” It seemed that he was incapable of conversing in anything but monosyllabic words.

“I just took classes at a gym that always offered other classes. It wasn’t hard and I have never tried to hide it. I’ve just never bragged about it either. I’m good too. The Vegas pro instructor was amazing and gave me tons of tips.”

If there was one thing in the world that he was certain of, it was that he knew everything that there was to know about Elizabeth Keen. Now, he wasn’t sure of anything.

 

*****

 

Liz loved Molly’s. Red winked at the hostess and she showed them to the empty private party room in the back.

The hundred dollar bill probably hadn’t hurt either.

She had decided that she was going to do everything she could to enjoy this meal. Red was the most charming companion in the world and with everything up in the air, who knew when or if, an evening like this would ever happen again.

She knew that Red was suspicious, and with reason. She’d never been so open, so receptive. And that in itself was a shame. He’d done so much for her. It was a debt that she would never be able to repay. But she could try.

“So where are we going next? Where do we go from here? Although, I won’t be too offended if you don’t share that, because well, this is not my arena. And of course, you do so love not answering my questions.” She grinned at him, hoping that he would understand that she was telling him she understood why now.

His head was tilted to the side, as if she was a puzzle that he was furiously working at only to find it was missing a piece.

“We are going to Sagar, India. It’s an island. A quiet resort town. We’ll be honeymooning on the beach for the next few weeks while one facet of my plan in exposing the cabal comes to fruition.”

She knew he was trying to shock her, but she felt none. However, she was more than surprised at the warmth that spread at the thought of actually being on a honeymoon with Red. The mind was treacherous, eager to show things that would never be.

Could never be.

“Wow. I am all out of conversation pieces now,” she said with a self-depreciating laugh “I was so prepared to have to argue with you. I don’t even know how to not argue with you. I suppose I owe you an apology.”

His protest was immediate. “No-”

“Please let me finish, Red.” He bit his lip, drew her eyes once again to them. “You were only trying to protect me and I have done nothing but act abominably towards you. Despite what you think or believe to be true, you deserve better than that and I want to start over. You should hate me.”

His gaze was warm, compassionate, maybe even a little grateful “I could never hate you, Lizzie.”

She was sitting, not across from him, but adjacent to him at the square table. Luckily, she was saved from having to formulate a quick response by the delivery of their food.

As usual, Red was absolutely correct about the food. It was divine. When she told him as such, he was more than a little surprised.

“I have to tell you Lizzie, I am stupefied as to the reason you are being so…well, reasonable. You are allowed to disagree with me. My help has no strings.”

Of course, she knew that. If ever there was a person that was fighting in her corner, it was Red.

In that moment, she hated herself for taking so long to see it.

She found herself leaning towards him as he told her about the beach hideaway. His hands, always so animated, so fluid. She could easily picture them on her.

She shook her head. There was no chance of that ever happening.

Red was leaning towards her as well, their foreheads were nearly touching. It was amazing how much progress could be made when one made the effort to be pleasant.

“So when do we stop playing cops and robbers?” she inquired, thinking of their earlier banter. The heat in his eyes said he hadn’t forgotten either. “Well, I’d be welcome to play for however long you wanted, but I sincerely doubt that you’d be interested in outfit once we reach the equatorial climate of Sagar. I suppose I could be persuaded to keep the handcuffs on hand. For emergency purposes only, of course.”

She stood and pulled out her cuffs. “You wouldn’t mind…playing?” He looked stunned at first, but he was quick to retort “I’m always ready to…play.”

She walked behind him, closed her eyes for a moment to give her strength. “Let’s move your chair away from the table to the wall here. I’m going to need…more access.”

He stood up so fast that he nearly knocked over his chair “I don’t believe this is the time, nor the place.”

She drug the chair to the wall where the unused boiler heater was. “Sit.” She thought he growled at her command. He complied and she straddled his lap, resisted the need to rub herself against his erection.

“Sir, you are under arrest, please place your hands behind you back.” She wrapped the cuffs around the supply pipe and secured his hands with them.

“Be a good boy while I make sure we won’t be disturbed for a while.”

After she found their waitress, who was all too happy to help with her plan for privacy, she ran over the words that were about to leave her mouth.

Returning to Red, she straddled his lap again. His pupils were dilated, his breaths huffs of impatience.

“Red, I know you think this is a game, but it’s not. I was wondering if you would mind if I kissed you.”

She deliberately kept her words vague. He sighed, tried to pretend as if he didn’t care wither way. “If that’s what you want.”

Without warning, she smashed her mouth against his. Tried to put every ounce of feeling, of remorse into it.

He returned it with a fervor that left her breathless, panting.

“Why are you crying?” She hadn’t even realized it until he pulled away to comment on it.

“I wish I didn’t have to leave you.”

He stilled, his voice sharpened. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“I read the papers, I know, Red.”

Frozen, he stared at her, one eyebrow raised. “I am handling it, there’s no need for us to separate.”

She couldn’t hold back her sniffles “I am a danger Dembe, Mr. Kaplan, but especially to you. You think that our theft of the assassination orders will stop them and it won’t. Another Attorney General will be appointed or another executive order will be placed.” She rested her forehead against his “You may have plugged the hole, but the dam will break.” She threw his own words back at him.

“Don’t do this. I know I failed to protect you before, but there is safety in numbers. I can stop this.”

He was straining at the cuffs. He’d once told her that he could break out of cuffs in less than forty-five minutes. So that’s all the head start she could count on.

“Protect your family Red. I can take care of myself. I have skills, you know that. You have thought yourself responsible for me for too long. I am setting you free.”

Pretending she didn’t care, walking away without a backwards glance, was the hardest thing she’s ever done.

“Lizzie!”

Tbc…

Chapter Text

It was hard, at first, running away from Red. He was obviously upset and didn’t think they needed to separate.

She had nightmares about that last second, him screaming her name. It reminded her of an animal stuck in a trap, the sound would haunt her.

She wasn’t worried about him getting out of the cuffs. When he calmed down enough to think clearly, he’d remember that his watch was specially made and had a pick incorporated into the curvature of the band. He’d be fine.

At least that’s what she told herself.

She let herself into the building right next to the pub, knowing that her instinct to run as far and as quickly as possible wouldn’t serve her well. He’d expect that, in fact.

So she went against everything inside of her for the second time that evening. She climbed into a corner of the dusty attic that hadn’t seen the presence of human since what looked like the Regan administration, if the boxes of old Reader’s Digest magazines were anything to go by.

There she sat until four thirty in the morning when she went down to use the restroom of the establishment. She then went back up to the attic to wait the owner’s out until night fell again. Red wouldn’t even be in the same state looking for her by then.

 

*****

 

Picking pockets and stealing came easy. Another thing that Red was right about. She took a few practice runs before she picked an actual mark, just to be sure she was good enough to not get caught.

The paranoia made it difficult for her to settle in any one place for very long, but she’d finally decided to stay in Dublin. She knew Red, knew how absolutely good he was at tracking down someone who didn’t want to be found.

Hopefully, Red wouldn’t think to check Sam’s old contacts. An old buyer smuggled her out of the states as cargo and gave her a passport and alias. It wouldn’t hold up under intense scrutiny, but it was enough for a glance and a stamp.

Her story of traveling to a family member’s funeral was never questioned when she presented her passport. Apparently, she looked suitably grief-stricken. She even felt as if someone had died.

God, she missed his face. His stories, his voice. His voice. That would be her downfall. She nearly went into a business teaming with cameras for the sole purpose of fallowing a man that had a voice that sounded like Red’s. He had passed her, speaking to his wife on the phone. He’d said I love you before he disconnected the call and Liz almost cried.

She hadn’t even know that a relationship with Red was something she wanted. Sure, she was attracted to him, the beautiful, twisted maze of his mind was one she related to more than any other her entire life. He was her savior, her friend.

But most of all, she dearly missed the opportunity to make amends for treating him so horribly. And if she were honest with herself, an opportunity to continue where they left off.

 

*****

 

Red knew she was in Ireland, he could feel it. She’d been two steps ahead of him for weeks and not for the first time, wondered if she wouldn’t fare well on her own. It didn’t matter, he wanted her safe, with him.

The fact that he was also in hiding was a hindrance to his progress. He made sure to be ‘seen’ in some far flung country at least once a week. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, he was conducting business as if nothing happened.

Samar kept Dembe apprised of the team’s movements. That woman was worth her weight in gold. Placing her on the task force was one of the best maneuvers he’d ever put into play.

Regret colored his every decision. He almost wish that he’d have planned for them to separate. So at least Lizzie would have contacts, resources. His gut burned like acid when he thought of the things that she would be forced to do to survive.

If he wasn’t so furious with her for leaving him and putting herself in danger, he be proud. She’d made it out of the country without so much of a peep. The only reason he had the lead on her in Ireland was because she had entered the criminal element.

The seedy underbelly where no one wants to see their loved one, especially if that person were a woman.

He may not know where she is right at this moment, but he knew how she’d been making money. More importantly, he knew where she’d be in three days time.

 

*****

 

Liz sat, soaking in a bathtub full of ice, trying to remember what bright idea led her to that point. Because as her muscles screamed and her teeth chattered, she couldn’t help but wonder if it was really worth it.

She wouldn’t stay past the next match. She’d made the contacts that she’d needed. She already had a place to stay in Slovakia and had been studying Slovak in her down time. Not that she’d had much.

Her second night here, she met a man named Daniel. He was a monstrous bear of a man who was so soft spoken you had to strain to listen.

He was also a broker for Dublin’s underground fight scene.

At first, she fought for quick cash as loser. There was money to be had in a fixed fight. But she quickly found out that losing wasn’t as easy as she thought. The instinct to defend, to break bones came pretty natural to her. But she did have the warrior gene.

She snorted to herself, making Daniel turn his head towards her in a silent question. She just shook her head. But then nodded through the quaking in her body as he held up one finger to signal that she had one minute left.

She’d nearly lost her last fight. The girl, she was so young, barely eighteen. So angry. Liz wanted to help her, tell her that she’d find a way to get her out of this life. Until the little brat nearly cleaned her clock.

But then again, it’s not like Liz had been in any position to help her.

Soon enough, Daniel stood and picked her up out of the ice like she weighed nothing and supported her as she tried to walk through locked muscles to the hot tub across the room.

In part, his house was converted into a makeshift gym. There were any number of fighters here at any given moment, but he’d taken special care with her.

She reminded him of his sister who’d been killed by an abusive spouse while he’d been deployed with the Royal Army to aid the US in Afghanistan, post 9/11.

He was a nice, honorable man that happened to make his money in dishonorable ways. He’d given her room and board, training, and first aid when needed. It was more than she’s asked, certainly more than expected.

She hated to leave a place where she’d grown so comfortable, protected even. She didn’t have to leave his place only to fight. Her cover story of running from an abusive husband served more than one purpose in this instance. She hated lying to him, but it was for the greater good.

She settled into the hot water, boiling when compared to the icy hell she just left without a sound. She knew she would feel better in just a few more minutes. Well, her muscles would at least.

There was nothing to be done with her guilty conscious or her bruised heart.

 

Tbc…

Chapter Text

Red waited towards the back of the crowd. His jeans, t-shirt, hoodie, and baseball cap provided a disguise that left him unrecognizable, even to him.

He was tense, both with dread and anticipation for what he was about to watch.

When she walked out into the arena, which was just a roped off section of the warehouse floor, the whistles and cheers peppered with boos nearly deafened him. She was the older of the two contenders by four years. The other woman outweighed her by fifty pounds. The odds were set against her and bets were flying.

He wanted to end this before it could even begin, but a part of him knew that this needed to play out her way. She wanted to prove herself and if she wanted to do so by taking a beating, then he wouldn’t stop her. No matter how much it would kill him to watch.

The opponent, a barrel-chested amazon, entered the arena with little fanfare, she even flipped the crowd off. Crude, but who was he to judge a persona likely as false as her red hair.

If this were Red’s show, he’d be making sure that she wasn’t in possession of an Adam’s apple, or any more appendages that shouldn’t be there.

A bell rang and the fight began. His fists clenched and his restraint tested. Hit after hit nearly knocked her ass over tea kettle. Her only defense was her speed. Dodging and twisting, only to land hits to her opponent’s head, kidneys, and even her throat.

She was unsurprisingly, a dirty, gutter fighter that employed questionable techniques. Her psychological game was far greater than the red head’s, who relied solely on her brute strength to carry her to victory.

Until Lizzie took a hit to the side of her head, so hard that he could hear it over the chaos of the crowed. He moved forward then, pushed his way through to the edge of the ring. He couldn’t stop himself. It was as if he was tethered to her by an invisible string.

Her opponent hit her when she was dazed, knocking her to her knees at Red’s feet. He kneeled before her. Made eye contact for those split seconds until recognition flared in her eyes.

His breath caught as pure joy lit up her face. But then he noticed movement behind her and his face transformed into one of horror.

 

*****

 

Red. He was here. He’d found her. She thought she’d be upset when, or if, she saw him again, but here, on her knees, seeing stars, all she could think of was that it had been way too long, and she was happy. Happier than she’d been since the last time they were together, playing cops and robbers.

She snapped out of her thoughts when Red’s gaze shifted behind her.

Without thinking, she let herself fall totally to the floor. The beast they’d assigned her to fight with was going to kick her in the head while she was down. An illegal move, so she didn’t feel guilty for hitting the floor and kicking her legs out from under her while her balance was compromised.

When she hit the ground like a tree toppling in the forest, it bought Liz enough time to get back up.

Her head pulsated with every heartbeat while her brain tried to assimilate her vision back to something less than seeing triple. Bile rose, but with one last look at Red, she turned around and threw her body into two last punches. She didn’t even know where they hit, but there was no retaliation.

She fell to her knees amid the cheers and screams of the bystanders. She took deep breaths through her nose to keep from losing the contents of her stomach.

But then she could smell his after shave and she felt his arms around her. And she just wanted to cry because even though she was doing a damn good job of taking care of herself, she needed him and maybe she wasn’t ready to admit how much.

“Red, hi.” She had so many words she wanted to say but all she could make out were two.

“I think it’s time to come back home, don’t you agree?” His voice was silk and sandstone all at once. She couldn’t concentrate on what he said. Home. That was it. He was home.

So she just nodded and held her breath as he helped her to stand. Everyone was so loud. The lights were so bright.

She hadn’t even noticed that she was crying until Red stopped short at the edge of the makeshift ring. She squinted her eyes and tried to see why, but then Red said “I think you need to reassure your friend here that you aren’t being kidnapped. He thinks I’ve upset you.”

His voice was deceptively calm, but it was the vein of underlying anger that drew her eyes up to Daniel’s and prevent a needless explosion. He was worried for her. Maybe he thought that Red was her fictitious ex. “I’m good Daniel, he’s…he’s mine.” He nodded but said “We need to go so I can take care of those wounds. You’ll need to collect your cut from tonight and clothes, too.”

She looked to Red, who looked like he was going to protest, but turned to her for a decision. She shrugged, she would do whatever he decided. It hurt to think.

His arm tightened around her and he nodded to Daniel to lead the way.

They left through the back just one property over where Daniel lived and had his gym. It was one huge warehouse space with a partial second floor. Red snorted, she knew he’d have so much to say about this later.

She pointed the way to her bunk in the corner of the gym. She was just glad she wasn’t going to have to navigate the stairs.

Daniel handed Red the first aid kit and an envelope of money. He turned to her and said “You need me, call me, little girl.”

She nodded, “Thanks, Daniel. I’m good now. ”

He left them to their own devices as he had at least three more fights to oversee.

Once alone, some of the unadulterated joy at seeing Red left her as she realized exactly how their last moments together ended and the position she left him in.

Tbc…

Chapter Text

She opened her mouth to tell him she was sorry, but all that emerged was a tortured moan. There would be no more attempts until she was absolutely positive she wouldn’t vomit all over him. Because then she’d never be able to speak to him again.

“Lizzie, on a scale of one to ‘Sorry for ruining your shoes’, how close are you to getting sick? Because you need to get out of here and get some rest. Which we won’t be doing here.”

As he spoke, he tended to her myriad of scrapes and cuts. His touch, a gentle balm that she couldn’t help but lean into, went further than the first aid in easing her.

It had been so long. The weeks multiplied in her mind to years now that she was with him again.

When she felt better, she needed to tell him that she didn’t want to experience a separation like that ever again.

 

 

Seeing Lizzie so miserable was torture, but nowhere near as bad as what being without her had been. He always traveled with a comprehensive first aid kit, but in order to take care of her, he had to move her.

“Come on, sweetheart. I’ll carry you out to the car. Twenty more minutes, that’s it.”

 

 

“I’m so sorry!” Her moan of agony was accompanied by more retching. He just held her hair back from her face and kept a cool washcloth at the back of her neck.

There was nothing to be done for her embarrassment, however. She’d just have to come to terms that not only had she been ill, but she’d been ill all over his lap.

If he weren’t so concerned about her, he’d have most definitely laughed at her horrified expression. It was just liquid, but enough to cause Lizzie to beg for death from the humiliation as he carried her to the tiny closet of a bathroom.

The anti-nausea injection would take effect soon. Their evening was in no way over though. By morning, she’d wish he’d never have come back for her.

 

 

“Let me sleep, damn you! Is this payback for leaving you cuffed and horny? Red, I’m so tired, why do you hate me so much?” He sighed as her yells became incoherent mumbles and she fell back asleep. He never tired of being right, but his Lizzie sure didn’t hold back her verbal punches.

Smoothing her hair back out of her face, he felt awful that he couldn’t do more to help her. But she had a concussion and he had to wake her up three more times before he’d consider the danger minimal enough to let her rest.

The safe house they drove to was small, but tidy. A cottage among the lush green hills of the Irish country side. The fog was thick, the air cool as he stepped out for a moment to clear his head.

It’s not like he’d gotten any rest either. He was glad that the cottage contained a clothes washer as he’d had to wash his clothes, but also the sheets of the bed.

Time was something he’d felt was in short supply in recent weeks. But now he had a plethora of it in which to contemplate exactly what he was going to say to her.

He was no longer angry. If anything, he understood her actions better than anyone ever could. If he found out that Lizzie’s life could possibly be saved from an imminent threat by him leaving, he would disappear in a heartbeat. No questions asked.

Of course, he would hunt them like dogs to the end of the earth to alleviate the threat, but that was him with his resources. Lizzie’s resources were her ingenuity, her mind. And in her mind, she minimized the threat by leaving.

But she was in greater danger when they were apart. And never would he be willing to risk her for his safety. Ever.

Until she awoke, there was nothing to be done but wait…and watch.

 

*****

 

Despite her pounding headache, she slowly became aware of her surroundings. Red, barefoot and dressed in dark jeans and a t-shirt, stood in front of the window and stared out into the distance.

There was very little that she could remember of her fight and the events after, but what she did remember mortified her. Her groan was what alerted Red that she was awake. Hopefully, the events that she remembered were a fabrication of her psyche.

She wanted Red to stay with her. She had felt so sick. She remembered putting her head in his lap and how good it felt as he ran his hands through her hair. And then she’d puked on him. On his crotch to be exact.

She groaned again.

“Good morning, Lizzie. How are you feeling?” His voice was soft, no hint of the anger she surely thought he’d unleash on her.

“I’m praying for death, thanks for asking.” Her mood was sour enough without his cheerful chuckles. “Go away, leave me to die in peace.”

“Don’t be so dramatic, Lizzie. And I think that after your escapades of the last few weeks you’d realize that that’s not going to happen again.”

She sucked in her breath, thinking that they were going to have their ‘come to Jesus’ moment, but Red’s expression was placid.

Of course, Red was nothing if not thoughtful and he could always be waiting until she felt better to start an argument.

“I’m sorry.” was all she said.

“I was worried sick, Lizzie. For weeks. You disappeared and anything could have happened and I wouldn’t have known. You were reckless. And I’m not even going to start about your little foray into ‘Blood Sport’.”

Wow. Well, at least she had thought that they weren’t going to talk about it yet. She wanted to wipe the righteous indignation off his face.

“I meant that I was sorry for upchucking on your dick, not for running. I’ll never apologize for that.”

His mouth open and closed several times in shocked silence while he stared at her in shock. Good.

She’d be damned if she’d feel guilty for making a decision to protect him. Ever. But not only that, it was a learning experience. She had proved to herself that she could be resourceful and make it alone if she had to.

He floundered for a moment longer but then looked away. His face changed into one of concern and she knew that he’d decided to change tactics.

She had a pressing need for the bathroom, so instead of staying for the lecture, she gingerly rose to her feet and kissed him full on the lips. “I know that you think I was wrong, but I love you. I couldn’t live with myself being a danger to you.”

She didn’t wait for him to answer, just turned and continued on her way.

The pounding pain behind her eyelids was well worth it. The look on his face was priceless.

 

Tbc…

Chapter Text

He wouldn’t have been able to spit if someone yelled ‘Fire’ in that moment. The declaration of love that seemed to echo off the walls was the very last thing he’d expected to come out of her mouth.

Which caused a kernel of doubt to form. It would be very ‘Lizzie’ for her to say something and not mean it just to get him to shut his mouth.

He went to get her some pain pills and water but grabbed some graham crackers as well in case she was hungry. The sugar would help with the headache, at least temporarily. He needed all of her attention for their talk.

While she showered he sat on the bed, ran through every single syllable that he wanted to say to her, hoped to hear from her, and all of the contingency conversations if she didn’t respond as planned.

He was so lost in thought that he didn’t hear her enter the room again.

“You know, you don’t have to think it to death, Red. I wasn’t asking to settle down and have babies with you. I was acknowledging that I have feelings for you and because of that I acted in a way that would lessen the danger to you and your associates. It doesn’t mean that anything has to be done about it, just that they exist. And that all of my decisions, then and now, will reflect that. If it makes you uncomfortable, think of it as a public service announcement and not a declaration.”

Again, she shifted everything that he had planned for and made a mess of his thoughts. As she walked to the bedside table to take the pills he’d set there, one of her statements stuck out like a shining beacon in the dark.

“Would you want that though? If I could make it happen, it that what you want, Lizzie?” his voice was hoarse, but full of hope.

She frowned, confused, “Would I want what? To act on those feelings?”

Even though she stood in front of him in nothing but a towel, he went to her and took her hands in his. He couldn’t look away from her beautiful, electric blue eyes.

“Would you want to settle down one day? Have a family?” he knew his voice broke on the word family. He should have cleared his throat, sounded less desperate. She must think him a fool.

“I would want that more than anything, Red. I’ve always wanted a family, was going to adopt to get it. But we’re on the run, Red and as attractive as the white picket fence with the kids and a dog running around inside of it is, we can’t possibly have that. I’ve ruined everything. I killed an unarmed man in front of witnesses. It doesn’t matter that he was a bad man. He posed no immediate threat to me when he died.”

Her words gave him more than a little to think about, many questions for her to answer, but he’d start with just one.

“Why did you kill Connelly? We haven’t spoke of it and I will admit to being extremely curious,” he said, his voice soft, his smile even more so. With his head canted to the side, his eyes told her that he cared for her, maybe as much as she cared for him.

“I killed him because he needed killing.” She wasn’t sure if she was ready to admit to yet another murder to save him. He’d yelled at her for the last one. And here they were on the verge of potentially starting a new chapter. She had no desire to argue.

“Oh, I think you can do better than that, sweetheart,” he said, just as softly as before.

She sighed, she knew he wouldn’t drop the subject “I killed Senator Tom Connelly, The Attorney General of the United States because he didn’t pose an immediate threat to me, he posed an immediate threat to you.”

His breath caught in his esophagus. He’d thought it was because of a threat made to Cooper and her team, not to him “Sweetheart, I’ve been taking care of myself, most successfully, for my entire adult life. I’ve made much bigger enemies than Tom Connelly. What made you think he posed a significant threat to me? What did he tell you?”

His questions were logical, her actions were not. He needed the whole story. If there was a greater threat, he needed to know.

There were tears in her eyes and it broke his heart. He wished he could spare her from the memory of that day, but he’d done enough damage to her memories.

“I know I shouldn’t have done it. In fact, as Cooper begged me not to do it, I thought of how it would ruin my life. But then Connelly said that you were going to get the death penalty and my thoughts immediately shifted to you and that my life may be ruined, but it was worth nothing anyways in a world where you don’t exist. So I pulled the trigger. It might have been to save you, but my reasons were selfish. I wanted you for me,” she smirked and shook her head.

“I can tell you that I need you for answers, that’s true. But I also need you alive, even, if that means you aren’t beside me,” she said, ending in just a whisper. Silent tears made silver tracks down her face.

She was so beautiful. Too beautiful for the monster that he was.  

He’d had no idea. He knew that she was fond of him, she said that she cared for him. He closed his eyes and wished that this was easier. That she didn’t care for him as much as he did her. It was too late for that now though.

When he opened them, his eyes clashed with hers “I love you. I realize that in your eyes, my outward actions to date haven’t conveyed that. But every single thing that I have done in the past two years has been to keep you safe. To keep the gears from shifting in a way that would endanger or expose you. You shouldn’t want me, want this. If I were stronger, I’d disappear. But I’m not, and all I want to do is win this war and build a picket fence for you.”

It nearly knocked the breath out of him when she threw her body against his and held on tight. She smelled amazing, her hair still damp. When his arms came up around her he realized she wasn’t wearing anything save for the towel.

“You need to get some clothes on sweetheart. Your head hurts and are probably famished. Let me make something for you to eat.”

He groaned when not only did she not let go, but she rubbed her hips against his.

He’d wanted to wait, to give her time to adjust to their changed relationship. But her head came back and she kissed him with such love, such passion. Their lips met in a clash of tongues and lips that made him forget everything.

She pulled away from him, gasping for air “Why don’t we practice making miniature Reddington’s first?”

He didn’t need to be asked twice, that’s for certain.

 

The End