Summary: Red and Meera work a cover together. Naturally, Liz becomes jealous.
Notes: Selinabln and I were having a discussion the other day about Meera working a cover with Red and this story was born. In addition, there's a Lizzington prompt on tumblr involving Liz wearing Red's fedora. This story will incorporate that challenge as well.
Disclaimer: I don't own The Blacklist or any of these wonderful characters. The brilliant Jon Bokenkamp and NBC do. This is a transformative work and no money is being made from this story.
Liz sat in the van next to Ressler, headphones firmly in place; watching the various monitors in front of her, keeping an eye on Red's contact sitting at the bar.
Her attention went to the white Mercedes when it pulled up at the restaurant entrance and she watched as Red exited the rear of the vehicle crossing over to assist Meera out of the opposite side.
As they began walking toward the entrance, she heard Meera's clipped accent, "Check, check."
Ressler replied, "Loud and clear, Malik. I'm going to go ahead and turn off your mic on our end. I know how awkward these things can be. If you need to speak with us, drop your napkin or touch your hair and we'll know to turn it back on."
Liz sighed and removed the headphones. She was a little miffed at Ressler for turning off the mic, but respected the gesture at the same time. He had shown her the same courtesy on a couple of occasions, and it had made pretending to be someone else much easier knowing a team of agents wasn't analyzing your every word.
She watched as Red placed his hand on Meera's bare back, just above the fold of material at her hips, the gold dress shimmering in the lamplight. She immediately noticed how his light skin stood out against Meera's complexion before wrinkling her nose as the tips of his fingers dipped below the silk fabric.
When they disappeared behind the door, Liz switched to a different monitor and saw Red speaking to the maitre d', a man named John who had helped Liz and the rest of the set-up team earlier in the day. As they were lead to their table, Liz watched Meera slide her arm around Red's waist, drawing herself closer to his side.
Red wore his cream suit and she couldn't help but notice how well the two matched, how handsome a couple they made.
When Ressler leaned forward, hitting the mute button so Meera couldn't hear them, Liz turned to look at him.
"She's really getting into this, isn't she? It's funny, ya know, Meera is usually so formal. Look at the way she's moving her hips, Scott."
Liz ignored him, thinking how juvenile Ressler could be at times.
When he began speaking again, Liz rolled her eyes despite disliking the gesture. "Reddington seems to be enjoying himself too. Did you see him slide his fingers under her dress? Wonder if Meera will make him pay for that later?"
"Honestly Ressler, they're playing a cover."
Liz reached over and hit the mute button before speaking to Meera, "Red's contact, Andrew Bartshe, is at the bar. He's watching you."
Meera looked up at Red as she spoke to him, and Liz assumed she was relaying the information. Red's lips moved in a short reply and Liz attempted to make out his words but failed.
As Red pulled out Meera's chair, he leaned over and placed a lingering kiss at the back of her neck and Liz found herself leaning closer to the monitor. She sat back the moment Red moved away but became absorbed again as he moved his chair next to Meera's, rather than sitting across from her. A moment later, a waiter appeared and moved Red's place setting.
After ordering their drinks, Red placed his arm around Meera and Liz watched a second monitor as Meera's hand slid up Red's thigh.
When Ressler leaned forward hitting the mute button again, Liz sneered.
"What? Her hand is on his thigh. No way Bartshe can see that from the bar."
Liz replied more loudly than she intended, "They are undercover."
Ressler let out a slow whistle as Red leaned in and touched Meera's lips with his own. The kiss was short and Liz thought it perfectly innocent, cute even. But she felt herself holding her arm rests in a death grip as she watched Meera take hold of Red's lapel, pulling him forward, leading him into a much longer and near passionate kiss.
Ressler mumbled, "Okay, then," before laughing. "Let's give them the award for best undercover kiss. We could actually take a little justice statue and give it to them at the next briefing. Cooper would love that."
Liz leaned forward and hit the mute button. "Bartshe just left, is heading toward the restroom." Liz muted the button again then thought to herself, "So you can cool it with the kissing, Malik."
She then turned to Ressler, "Is this what you do, sit in the van and make comments like this about Red and me? Because it's not appreciated."
Ressler put his hands up in submission, "Whoa, Scott. Hey, you're my bud. I wouldn't say anything like that to anyone else."
Liz turned to Ressler, feeling herself warm at his words. She didn't really have friends and had grown fairly close to him, especially after her divorce. "Sorry. And thanks. You're my bud too."
Ressler grinned at her and then grew serious before asking, "You okay?"
"You sure? I wondered if this would be weird for you, not being with him tonight."
Liz felt the heat rise in her cheeks and looked back at the monitors, unsure of what to say, wondering what Ressler had noticed. If he had picked up on her growing feelings for Red.
She decided to give a partial truth in reply. "It is odd. I guess I've grown territorial in a way. It threw me yesterday when he asked for Meera. I certainly better understand your feelings toward me when this whole thing started, after you chased him for five years."
Ressler spoke, "Ya know, I don't know what happened, but she and Reddington seem to have developed a connection. I've seen them talking a few times in the shadows at the Post Office." Ressler rolled his chair back a few inches. "After the box, I feel some strange sense of kinship with him as well. He's good at that, pulling people in, making us care about him and his cause."
Liz felt the sting in her eyes and blinked the moisture away before turning to face Ressler.
Donald's voice became softer. "It's different with you though. He truly cares about you. I knew that after The Stewmaker."
Liz felt embarrassed, exposed. Her relationship with Red was private and she failed to understand it. When Ressler's phone rang she was relieved, thankful for Cooper's interruption requesting an update.
After Red and Meera had finished their salads, Bartshe approached and spoke to Red standing on the side opposite of Meera. It was obvious he didn't want to get close to Raymond Reddington. A couple of minutes later, Bartshe subtly removed what Liz believed to be a small memory card from his pants pocket and placed it on the table by Meera's water glass. He then turned and left the restaurant. If the data proved legitimate, Bartshe would be under arrest tomorrow.
Liz leaned back in her chair and rolled to the opposite side of the van to grab a bottle of water. She twisted the cap and let the lukewarm water slide down her throat. She glanced at Ressler who was giving instructions to the various team members located in the different stakeout locations - in the restaurant, on the street, and down the block. As the undercover agents were given permission to leave, she sighed wishing she was on a different detail. The cleanup work of pulling the cameras would be quick, but she, Ressler, Aram, and the two techs would have to wait until the restaurant closed.
Her stomach grumbled loudly after Ressler gave his last clear and he turned to her. "Get some dinner, Scott. I hear they've got some mean crab cakes. I ate earlier so don't mind me. I promised I'd give Audrey a call."
Liz grinned at him in appreciation and reached for her purse. After standing, she saw Ressler looking at the monitor again; the image of Meera and Red still sitting close made her pause, they were leaning well into each other's personal space.
Ressler quirked his eyebrows. "So... Malik pulled her earpiece and turned off the mic on her end."
Liz studied the live feed, feeling confused, searching for an answer at their proximity. "They just got their meals. They might as well eat. If they began acting differently now, the waiter might think something was up."
Ressler scoffed loudly, "Come on. You really think Ms. C.I.A. cares about the perception of one waiter? We know Reddington doesn't. The deal is done, there's no reason for them to do this. I just find it weird, ya know."
Liz stared blankly at Ressler in response. If she continued to make excuses, to debate him, he would start to wonder why. "You're right. It is strange." She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Who knows."
"Maybe they have a thing. Ya know, kind of like Luli."
Liz felt her head snap up in response. "What do you mean?"
"Oh, come on. It was pretty obvious they had a physical relationship. Maybe Meera stepped in to - "
Liz felt her hackles rise and interrupted him, "Ressler don't talk about Meera that way. I find it offensive. I've never seen her do anything other than be a complete professional. If she and Red are involved, it's none of our business."
Ressler put his hands up. "Okay, Okay. I get you. It's just - I always thought Reddington had a thing for you."
Liz's immediate response, "So did I," formed quickly in her brain, but she managed to stop if from leaving her mouth. She shook her head at him instead and said, "Don't even go there, haircut."
Ressler laughed, a loud genuine laugh and Liz found herself smiling.
"Go. Get some of those crab cakes. I'm telling you, they are supposed to be that good."
She turned to glance at the video once again and watched as the feed from each camera went off-line. She realized Aram was beginning the advance work from the second van so they could leave as fast as possible.