Thanks for the reviews!
This fic is going in a direction that I never really intended, but I'm going there anyway. XOXOXO!
That night found Elizabeth huddled over the toilet in her bathroom, praying that her entire stomach wouldn't make its way up her throat. She was lying on the bathroom floor, enjoying the cool tile when the brevity of the situation hit her. She had never been sick for more than a couple of days in her entire life, and this had been going on for weeks. It was terrifying. Maybe a visit to the doctor wouldn't be a horribly bad idea.
After a long, sleepless night, Elizabeth phoned into work and requested the day off, forgetting that she wasn't really welcome there anyway until things with Tom were resolved. Then she made a phone call to her family doctor and made a noon appointment. Elizabeth couldn't remember the last time she went to the doctor for anything except adoption physicals, and could barely remember the doctor's name to request an appointment with him.
Upon arriving at the doctor's office, she started to feel nervous. What if it was more than just stress? What if it was more serious than that? What if she was dying? What if she was foolishly overreacting like a complete moron? It was more than likely the latter. Foolish pretty much summed up how she had been feeling lately. If Sam could see just how badly she had screwed up with Tom… he would be so disappointed. Sam had always been so proud of her ability to look past people's outer shells and see them for what they truly were. It seemed as though that ability had left her.
Elizabeth was jarred from her thoughts by a pretty young nurse calling her name out into the waiting room. She stood up and smiled at the nurse.
"Yes. I'm coming."
The phone rang at six p.m. on the dot, and Elizabeth almost didn't answer it until she saw who was calling. Nick's Pizza. It crossed her mind that she was being completely ridiculous in keeping that silly code name. There was no one who was going to be looking at her phone now…
"I do wish you would get out of the habit of calling yourself that. It's a made up name for a made up person, and you, my dear, are very real."
"Did you call me just to push my buttons, or is there something you wanted?"
It wouldn't have been a surprise if Red had called just to tease her. He did that often, and she had grown used to it. But he needed to lay off of her tonight.
"Dinner. I want dinner. More specifically, I want it at this great little Italian place that serves this fantastic lasagna with feta…"
"Sold. Pick me up in thirty minutes. I'm starving."
There was a pause on the other end of the line. She had shocked him. It had always taken some cajoling on his part to get her to do anything with him that didn't involve a blacklister, and here she was accepting a dinner invitation without hesitation. To be honest, she was just as shocked as he was.
"That was easier than I thought it was going to be. You're not up to anything, are you?"
Elizabeth could tell that Red was only half joking.
"No. Maybe I just needed the company tonight, that's all."
"And I am excellent company, aren't I? I'll pick you up at six-thirty sharp."
And he did.
Elizabeth looked Red up and down when he arrived at her door and then looked down at herself. He was immaculate, and she… well she was wearing jeans and a button-up blouse.
"Tell me this place doesn't have a dress code."
"No. I imagine what you're wearing is just fine. I like the casual look."
Elizabeth grinned back.
"Well then you're going to love this. Take off the hat and the jacket and the tie. Oh, and the vest. The vest has got to go."
Confusion and amusement flashed momentarily across Red's face, but he removed the offending items and obligingly held them out to her.
Elizabeth smiled as she sat Red's clothing on the table beside the front door.
"No. Keep the glasses. They go with the 'casual look'.
Red perched the glasses back on his nose and held his arms out to his side.
"Am I casual enough now?"
Never. He would never be as laid back as he could have been. Elizabeth considered him again and then reached for his sleeve, rolling it up his forearm. She gave the other sleeve the same treatment and then nodded her head.
"This will do."
If Red was offended that she was using him as her own dress-up doll, he never let it show. He offered her his arm and walked her to the car, as if he were still wearing the three piece suit.
Oh well. She tried.
The restaurant wasn't that busy, and Red and Elizabeth were immediately seated in a booth in the back. Elizabeth wasn't surprised. Red liked his privacy, and she had a feeling that it was the seat he would have chosen even if he was not an internationally known criminal.
"I suggest the lasagna. I have a feeling that spaghetti is more your style, but trust me on this."
Red hadn't even picked up his menu. Elizabeth scanned through hers before deciding on the lasagna, ignoring the smirk that flitted across his face.
"Hi! My name is Carlie and I'll be your server tonight. Would you like for me to go over our specials before you order?"
The waitress was young and perky and, despite the fact that she generally despised young, perky people, Elizabeth liked her instantly. Plus…Carlie was such a pretty name for a girl…
"Carlie, I think the lady and I know what we want. I'll have the lasagna with a glass of red wine and she'll have the lasagna with…?"
Red looked questioningly at Elizabeth and she smiled up at Carlie.
"Water. I'll have water."
She waited for Red to contradict her and order her a cocktail anyway, but he kept his mouth shut and handed their menus to the waitress, who went to place their order. They looked at each other for a minute, both of them wanting to say something but neither one of them willing to start the conversation. Elizabeth sighed.
Red shrugged innocently.
"Ask you what?"
"It's no secret that your 'security detail' is watching my every move, so why don't you just ask me what you brought me here to ask me?"
The jig was up. Red gave her a small smile as the waitress sat their drinks in front of them and walked away.
"How did your visit to the doctor go? I know you went this morning. I waited for your call. I don't know why I thought you would call, but I did. I'm not good at the waiting game, Lizzie. You have to tell me something."
Shame turned Elizabeth's face a bright shade of red. He had been so worried about her… and she blew him off. Well, he didn't have to worry about her anymore.
"I'm fine. In fact, I am in perfect health. I just need to watch my stress level and my diet."
Red's face broke into a wide smile.
"Excellent! Isn't is a relief to leave the doctor's office with a clean bill of health? This calls for a toast. To your health!"
Red raised his glass of wine and Elizabeth clinked her water glass merrily against it. She took a small sip of her water and Red frowned.
"You cannot have a proper toast with water. Here, have some of my wine."
He held the glass out to her expectantly, but she hesitated to take it. It struck her then how much her life was going to change. She couldn't even have a glass of wine with her meal. One fucking glass of wine. She shook her head violently and ran her fingers through the ends of her hair.
Red brought the wine back to his side of the table, looking slightly offended.
"If you don't want to drink after me that's fine. I can get you your own glass."
Elizabeth shook her head again.
"Red… I can't."
Tears threatened to spill from her eyes, and she couldn't keep the tremor out of her voice. Red's eyes furrowed in concern before understanding dawned in his eyes.
"What am I going to do? I never intended for this to happen, ever. What am I going to tell this kid when he or she asks where their father is? What am I going to say?"
Red was beside her on the booth before the first shuddering sob escaped her body. She cried into his shoulder as he ran his fingers through her hair with one hand and dug a few bills out of his pocket with the other. He flung the bills on the table and gently began to ease her out of the booth.
"Lizzie, honey, look at me. You deserve to have this breakdown, and I'm going to let you have it, but we need to get you to the car first. Okay?"
Elizabeth nodded obediently and Red smiled at her indulgently. His lips brushed her forehead before he eased her out of the booth and out of the door.
The car ride back to her house consisted of Elizabeth riding in the backseat with Red, staining his expensive shirt with tears and mascara while Dembe played driver in the front seat, pretending not to be concerned with the drama that was going on behind his back. They arrived at her house and Red fished through her purse for the key, smiling sheepishly when he fumbled getting it into the lock. She wanted to thank him for being so patient with her, but something told her that he didn't want her thanks, so she simply smiled back at him as he led her through the door.
"I am so tired. I haven't been this exhausted in years."
Red took her jacket and purse from her and sat them with his clothing on the table by the front door.
"Hysteria will take a lot out of a person. Why don't you go upstairs and change, and I'll make you some tea."
He made for the kitchen before she could object. She trudged heavily up the stairs toward her bedroom, but the door to the guest bedroom caught her eye. She opened the door slowly and looked in. This was the room she would raise her baby in. Minutes passed as she stared at the room, trying to imagine a crib by the wall… a changing table under the window… a rocking chair in the corner… Fingers brushed her upper back and she sighed.
"I guess this is going to be the nursery after all."
Red stared into the room with her, as if trying to imagine all that she had been trying to imagine. He nodded his head assuredly.
"Might I suggest a soft yellow? At this juncture I think that a gender neutral color would be the smart way to go."
"Suggest whatever you want. But if you're going to pick the color, you're going to paint."
She was only joking, but Red nodded in agreement. She laughed shortly and laid her head on his shoulder briefly.
"I've got to get out of these clothes and into a bath. Meet you in the kitchen?"
Red nodded and Elizabeth disappeared into her bedroom, never knowing that long after she left, Red still stood in the doorway of the guest bedroom, imagining what the future could hold.