Disclaimer: don't own, just fiddlin'.
Comments: Ugh, so I couldn't stay away from this fandom. I'm hoping time gives me the luxury to stick with this one. As of right now, this is definitely AU. I don't think ***spoilers*** tom is gonna kill jolene/lucy AND the cowboy...but for all intents and purposes, he has in this story. ***end spoilers*** I am banking on getting the next chapter up in a day or two, so be on the lookout for it. I just couldn't get the idea of Liz, Tom, and Red working closely with/around one another after everything that has happened. SO AS A WARNING, if you haven't seen episode 15, The Judge, and you don't want to be spoiled, don't read this story. I doubt events in this story will cohere to those of the show after episode 16 this Monday. I hope you guys enjoy!
Apokálypsis (Greek);"lifting of the veil";is a term applied to the disclosure to certain privileged persons of something hidden from the majority of humankind.
They say everything happens in threes.
Tom Keen disagrees.
He has lived a life of couples. Just do this for them a couple of times. Go on a couple of jobs. Kill a couple of people, it'll get easier. Get paid a couple of times. Get a couple of notches under his belt. Have a couple of kids. Tell your fake wife that you love her a couple of times and you might start to believe it. Couples.
Two dead bodies.
Two undisclosed graves.
Two more days.
He will be home in two hours. The drive was tactical. It was methodical. It helped him make sense of the two pictures. Liz, Red, and the string that connected them. It's all he can see as he drives the winding back roads around DC. He has had a hell of a weekend. Discovered another assassin casing his job. Killed the assassin and the man she'd captured. Tried to take matters into his own hands. A helluva weekend.
He had phoned Liz two days ago to tell her that he had canceled his flight and was driving home, and not to call if she was too busy. He had gotten her voicemail. She hasn't called back. Another tactical move. Make her feel guilty about her job, because he needed her to hate it. He also needed to think. Take action. Clean up his mess. Get a grip. Forget.
Those two pictures had scared him. And he doesn't get scared. Nervous, maybe, but not scared. Jolene's operation was candid at best, and he wasn't thinking about all the surveillance. Her plan had been simple: he would kill Liz and she would do him the favor of killing Raymond Reddington. What he had suspected of the man had been true. He may have been in deeper cover than he'd ever been in his life, but he knew a threat when he heard one. Jolene's plan was messy. She was smart, but brash, and for a guy who spent two years in a fake marriage without contact from Them, quick was dangerous.
When he refused, things had escalated too quickly to rebuild the trust between them. Jolene ended up dead. He would have gotten more out of her if she hadn't tried to leave after threatening to kill Liz without him. Being mouthy often got one killed in this business. She should have known that. He would have gotten more out of the cowboy, too if he hadn't gotten loose. Jolene was holding him because he'd been snooping around. Too many questions revolved around Liz and Reddington. A famous criminal. A ruthless mastermind. Jolene hadn't dug deep enough to know the finer details of their connection, but Tom knew it was big enough to warrant some of the attention of the worst human beings on the planet.
And so much more than a piece of string connected that man to his Elizabeth.
Liz, he had two hours to go from Tom Bond, skilled assassin, to Tom Keen, devoted husband. Teacher. Family man. Honest and dedicated. Understanding, his hands wrap around the steering wheel until his knuckles turn white. Never mind Jolene and the snooping cowboy. Never mind the favor he called in. Never mind any of it. Cling to the sorrow of not having a child. Forget about how docile he's been since the day he proposed to Liz and how vulnerable that makes him feel. Act like his real marriage is falling apart and that he's devastated. Forget about Raymond Reddington and the string and the fact that the favor failed and the man got away from Them this afternoon. Jolene's enemies are not his enemies. He has a job to do.
Elizabeth Keen was tired.
Tired of her job.
Tired of her marriage.
Tired of needing help or advice or protection.
Tired of being used.
After giving them the latest name on The Blacklist this afternoon, Red had ceased to exist. One moment he was in the Post Office, the next, he was in the wind. He wasn't answering her calls. He wasn't on his jet – they checked. And Dembe had dropped off the grid as well. Cooper had been furious. Liz sat on the urge to try and get a hold of Kaplan.
Ever since Tom had left for Florida, the men in her life had gotten weirder. Ressler was being more of a friend than she expected. Cooper was more pensive, more guarded, and seemed ready to have an army at his door like that day with Garrick. Red was…well he was Red, until about six hours ago when he seemingly disappeared.
She'd been dodging the feeling that something had happened to him since this afternoon, and the drive home was not helping. It pressed in on her from all sides; made her stomach burn with impatience and anxiety. He's fine. She tries to go back to how she felt after his accusations of Tom were proven false. Go to hell. But she couldn't do that anymore than she could feel confident in her husband. Something was wrong. Something was going on, it was keeping him and Dembe from contact, and she hated being in the dark. She hated feeling left out, and that was worse than being worried. If she went down this road any further, the lines she swore never to cross again would be far behind her.
"Maybe they already are," hearing it out loud makes her frown as she pulls up in front of her house. It's dark. It's empty. It's stressful. A small part of her wants to avoid this place, the other part wants to hide in its walls and lock the world out.
At this point, it's both a prison and a sanctuary.
Everything had been fine before this job. Before Red, you mean. But that was a tired argument within her these days. Red's involvement in her life only sped up the slow death of her marriage and personal life. What if I told you everything you know about yourself is a lie? Sighing, she reaches into the passenger seat and grabs her jacket before exiting the car. Tom would be home some time tonight. His message still sat in her voicemail; a reluctant, regretful, and determined sign all at once. She knew she wasn't being fair to Tom. I won't let this job come between us and our marriage. So much for that. She barely jams the key into her door when it swings open on its own.
Her gun is out faster than she thought possible. She's getting good at this; flipping between citizen and agent without effort. After peering into the darkness of her home, ears straining for any kind of noise, she eases herself over the threshold and closes the door behind her. Nothing. She puts her back to the wall to her left and trains her gun on the entrance to the kitchen. The last time she came home to a silence like this one, her husband was beaten and bound to a chair by the man she had been chasing. She knew there was someone in her house. She knew the difference between quiet and quiet. One was a product of absence, the other a product of necessity. She reaches a hand to flip the switch on the wall, and light floods the hallway in front of her.
"Tom?" It's a hopeful question, almost like she's begging the eerie silence of her home to produce her husband from the shadows, unharmed and apologetic. He'll have an excuse as to why all the lights were off and why he left the door unlocked, and she'll do her best to believe him.
"A terrible guess." She swings her gun up and to the right to find Red slouched against the wall at the top of the stairs.
"Red," She doesn't mean to sound so relieved as she lowers her weapon. She's aware that the way she says his name has changed since the Anslo Garrick ordeal. It's still exasperated and defiant and sometimes impatient, yet it hides a modicum of the comfort that's present now.
It's a short lived sigh from her lips as she gets a better look at him. There's a gun in his hand, resting on his thigh. If it weren't for the sheen of sweat on his face and the labored rise and fall of his chest, it would appear he was simply lounging. Holstering her weapon, Liz jogs up the stairs and kneels on the landing beside him.
"What happened?" What was meant to be a question comes out sounding like, tell me, now. She peers around the front of his coat, finds a ragged hole, and gently peels the fabric back. She feels, rather than hears the gasp he elicits when she does, and tries to ignore the panic in the pit of her stomach. What she finds is a blood stained, three-piece charcoal suit, and her eyes dart to his own hooded stare.
"Where's Tom?" The normal gravel of his voice is pitched lower; a weaker version of the usual deflection. She watches him for a moment, studies the pain he hides in the lines on his face, the tension in his body, before she glances back down at his wound. She wonders if that is what the gun in his hand is for: in case Tom came home first. In case the people that did this to him followed. She didn't know which was more troubling.
"On his way back from Miami." The comment made her nervous, since he should be home sometime in the next few hours. Red couldn't stay here. "Where's Dembe?" After Luli's death, she had only seen Red without his body guard once: when he returned. The absence of the quiet, protective man is almost as alarming as the amount of blood Red seems to have lost. He's used most of his tie to staunch the bleeding in the front, and she doesn't waste time as she leans him forward to see the exit wound in the back. There's a small, dark stain on her wall, but at least there wasn't a bullet to fish out of him.
"He's fine," That's not what she asked, but she's used to that. He grunts as she settles him back against the wall. "When-" His voice hitches when she shifts his tie away to get a better look at what she's dealing with. It's only now that she realizes he's trembling. "Tom. When will he be back?" She leans back onto her heels and stares at Red's chest; the rising and falling, and rising and falling, a jarring and hypnotic rhythm as she debates on her course of action.
"Soon," She stands, catches the small nod he makes, and says, "Give me a sec." She practically leaps down the stairs and into the kitchen where she keeps a small medical kit under the sink. After Zamani broke in and almost killed Tom, they had agreed it was a smart precaution in case Liz brought her work home with her again. He has no idea. Red was her job but the warmth gathering in her eyes as she knelt to grab the kit told her that he was becoming much more than that. The dread and the helplessness she'd felt when she saw the blood on the floor beside Garrick in that church, Red's blood, was back; clawing at her insides and threatening to overwhelm her. By the time she gets back to his side, his eyes are closed, but they slide open again when she rips a package of gauze out.
"Red," she removes the tie, ignores the bloodied weight of it in her hand, and places the gauze over the wound immediately. She'll have to clean it, but she needs to move him somewhere and she needs to get the stain off the wall before Tom gets home. "I need to move you," He makes a small noise in acknowledgement and the sound of a car driving by outside makes her head whip in the direction of the door. Her heart is in her throat until the sound vanishes, and there's no echo of a car door slamming shut. A part of her still can't believe that her husband chose to drive back home. She looks back down to find Red staring at her with a light in his tired eyes. It wasn't safe for him to stay here. "And you need to tell me what's going on." If you have any doubts about your husband…
"Did you know your…security team rotates every…four hours?" It's weak and matter-of-fact behind the small smirk at the edge of his lips, and Liz debates between rolling her eyes and looking concerned. He's unbelievable. While his lips might smile, his eyes are wincing now, and she can't remember when she started cataloging the many subtleties of his face. She sighs, gathers the rest of the kit into her arms, and turns away from him. She couldn't hide him in her room. The bathroom was too small. The closet under the stairs was full. The baby's room… As reluctant as she was to put the man who instigated all the insecurities she had about her marriage in the very room that would have held her remedy to the past, Liz quickly entered it and put the med kit by the door. When she exits, Red is attempting to get to his feet. "Hey!" Any thoughts of telling him to stop would be moot, so she darts to his side, and slides under his right shoulder to take the majority of his weight.
They're silent, except for the pained noise that Red makes when they careen too far to the left as they stumble down the hall towards the baby's room. I have to stop calling it that, especially when she's planning on hiding Red there. The empty space seems to yawn before them. The combined polka-dot wallpaper and the pale, yellow paint they'd chosen are far too hopeful when she throws the light on and halts him in the doorway. Closet or corner of the room, she could shut him away and out of sight in the tiny, wall closet next to the door. It would be cramped, but safe. She needed to make it look like he wasn't here.
"Closet," She motions to their left and he immediately lurches towards it. She opens the shuttered doors and tells him to duck when they enter it. It takes some maneuvering, but she finally gets him propped into one of the corners inside the little space. He doesn't look comfortable, and she really needs to get some layers off of him before she can lie him down. "We need to remove your coat and suit jacket," she says as she walks back over to the door and retrieves the med kit. "Unless you want me to cut them off?" He actually looks like he's entertaining the idea when she kneels back down beside him. After a moment, he leans forward, and Liz reaches out to steady him. He starts shirking his right arm out of his coat, and when it's out, she slides the rest of it off. She places it next to her, and his suit jacket comes next. Without the added layers, Liz is granted an uninhibited view of the damage. Her eyes widen at the sight of the blood on his vest and shirt. Shit…
"Calm down," His voice rumbles even when it's breathless, and she swallows.
"I'm calling Kaplan," It's the only way to save his life, right now. He needs a blood transfusion, fluids, an actual doctor, or at least a person who knows more than the basics. Kaplan was his go-to, right? His hand on her wrist stops her, even though she's pretty sure she could shake him off with how feeble his grip is.
"No, Lizzie," His eyes are burning when she meets them. A little more focused. A little more urgent than he had been at the top of the stairs. This switch between placid and calm to alarmed, terrifies her. "Your husband-" His face scrunches up in pain, and for short time, he simply breathes. There's a sound that brings her heart into her throat from down stairs, and she holds her hand up for Red to be quiet. It's the sound of their car door slamming shut. She glances at the window behind her, nerves like fire ants in her stomach. He's home. He's home.
"I'll keep him out of here, don't worry." I can tell him that I'm harboring a key witness to a case I'm working, and that he is not allowed to enter this room for legal and security purposes. It's a vague start to a plan she needs to finish making, but it will do for now. "Now, about Kaplan." Red shakes his head and starts to open his mouth, but she cuts him off. "Red, you need a blood transfusion, fluids, actual help. I'm calling her." He finds it in him to stare at her and she challenges his gaze with a heated one of her own before reaching for her phone. "I can always call Ressler." All the fight goes out of him then. He leans his head back against the wall and sighs,
"The Willard InterContinental, ask for a drop-" He shifts a little, pulls his left arm tighter to his body. "Too risky for her to come here."
He's thirty minutes early when he parks across the street from their home. Just the sight of their car, the light on in the hall, and corner of the crib he can see through door, is enough to stir in him the actual longing for a child. When they discussed having kids, Liz had always been conflicted, despite what she said. He knew how important adopting was to her, the fears and insecurities motherhood caused her, and he had understood the reasons behind it. Liz had impressed him, charmed him, and endeared herself to him in the span of a ten minute conversation the week after he proposed. She had been so excited…Even delirious and in pain, he had recognized the absolute joy in her the night she bounced through the kitchen, adoption papers in her hands, before she realized the state he was in. So what happened?
Job-wise, he had almost solidified his role in her life as the father of their adopted kid. Husband-wise, he could almost touch the dream they'd so desperately fantasized over. Don't confuse the two. The kid would have been leverage, nothing more. But who was he fooling? He didn't know when They would contact him again, and fatherhood was so close. But it wasn't real. It would never be real.
Because it's my job...
He doesn't bother grabbing his luggage. It's late, and he's still a little antsy from the events of the past five days. All he wants is a hot shower, a snack, and to sleep in his own bed. And forget about everything for a little while. He'd apologize to Liz enough that she'd eventually apologize too, and he might get to hold her as they fall asleep. As he walks up the stairs to their door, he knows a part of him is in love with her. A good actor, a good spy, feels the things they are supposed to be and believes in them. Tom Bond finds it odd that the door is unlocked, but Tom Keen, devoted husband, doesn't worry about it as he locks it behind him, and peers around the house.
"Liz?" He's taking off his jacket when he thinks he catches her dart across the hall and into the bathroom up stairs. It strikes him that she came from what was going to be the baby's room, and a lump he doesn't want to acknowledge weighs in the back of his throat. Swallowing hard, Tom hangs his jacket up beside the door and veers towards the kitchen. "You hungry?" He needs a distraction, and he hasn't eaten since yesterday.
"I'm good, babe!" Her answer doesn't surprise him, but he mopes his way to the fridge anyway and surveys his options. Beer isn't entirely out of the question, and he wonders if the leftovers from Friday are still good. Lasagna doesn't go bad that fast, right? He's about to ask Liz when she walks into the kitchen, and leans against the other side of the bar. He glances at her, reminds himself that she walks as quietly as a Prius drives, realizes she's still wearing her work clothes, and shuts the fridge door. By the look on her face, food is going to have to wait.
"Are you going in or just getting home?" Her eyes start to soften, and it looks like she's about to say she's sorry, so he jumps into the role he finds easiest in this domesticated version of himself: passive aggressive. "See? This is what I've been saying, Liz." He lowers his voice, like there are others to hear them argue, when really, he doesn't want to be accused of yelling at her, and starts to plead. "This job…it's too much." Way too much. He starts to walk towards her and tries to take her in his arms. A part of him aware that he needs to hug her like Tom Keen and not the calculated killer he really is. She goes willingly, and they stand there holding one another for a second or two before she leans back, and meets his eye. "What?" His hold on her tightens, fear lancing through him. She knows, Tom. She knows. But she doesn't, and he sighs when she says,
"I have to tell you something, and you're not gonna like it."