Hey guys! A little light on the Lizzington at first, but it gets there!

Please read and review.

I own squat.

"She's so beautiful."

"Ressler, how many times do I have to tell you that I don't want to hear this?"

"About a million times a day. I can't help it. You know I can't."

Elizabeth Scott and Donald Ressler sat at a small table in the middle of the Post Office, (The new Post Office. Old habits die hard.), poring over an old case file that Red had insisted was connected to his latest blacklister. They had read and re-read the file over the course of two weeks, and during those two weeks, Elizabeth had been completely filled in on the Donald Ressler/Jane Halliway saga. Ressler loved Jane and Jane loved…Jane. Elizabeth could not see what Ressler saw in that vapid bimbo, but she was all he could talk about.

"The girl turned you down flat. Why are you putting yourself through hell for someone who doesn't want you?"

Ressler leaned in close to Elizabeth.

"She wants me. She just doesn't know she wants me."

Wow. This was a side of Ressler that he really could have kept to himself.

"You did NOT just say that."

Ressler groaned and cradled his head in his hands.

"I don't know what I'm saying. I'm in love. Isn't that what people in love do? Say stupid stuff and hope no one notices that they are complete fools?"

Elizabeth laughed.

"Oh I noticed."

"Why did Cooper have to hire her? I was doing perfectly fine before she came along."

Elizabeth sighed. They had been through this several times, but it was like talking to a brick wall.

"Agent Cooper hired her because, in spite of all her obvious flaws, she is a good agent."

Ressler's eyes tracked Jane from across the room.

"I don't know what obvious flaws you're seeing…"

"Forget it. I'm not doing this with you today. We have a job to do, and I'd greatly appreciate it if you would keep your eyes on these files. What are we missing?"

They bounced ideas off of each other for about an hour, and felt like they were on to something for a moment, until that moment was ruined by a pair of big blue eyes. Jane wormed her way in between Elizabeth and Ressler, effectively blocking Elizabeth from his view.

"Hey guys! I was just wondering, Donald, if you could help me out. I think I may have something, but I don't want to take it to Cooper unless it's solid. Will you look at it with me?"

Ressler grinned and followed her to her desk like an obedient dog. Elizabeth watched as he read over some of Jane's notes, and then noticed that while she was watching Ressler, Jane was watching her. Jane shot her a smug smile and Elizabeth turned away from the pair. It didn't take her long to figure women like Jane out. She wanted nothing to do with Ressler until he turned his attention to someone else. Elizabeth shook her head and tried to return to her work when she heard Jane's voice call out from across the room.

"I promise I'll bring him back to you soon, Lizzie."

Elizabeth rolled her eyes. As if she wanted Ressler…. And then it occurred to her…. Hmmm… Elizabeth wasn't one to help people out with their love lives, hers being in shambles, but to shut Ressler up she would make an exception. She contemplated her plan until Jane finally freed Ressler from her grasp and he returned to the table.

"She didn't have anything. And I really hated to be the one to tell her…"

"Of course she didn't have anything. Don't' you see? She called you over there to get you away from me."

Ressler rolled his eyes as if that were the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard.

"Why would she want me away from you?"

He really was clueless.

"She's territorial. Jane may not want to sleep with you, but she sure as hell doesn't want me to either. And it's killing her that you're throwing a little attention my way."

"I think you're crazy."

Ressler might have thought she was crazy, but there was a definite spark in his eyes at the idea of Jane being jealous over him. Elizabeth wondered if he would be up for a little experiment.

"I have an idea, and I want you to hear me out."

Ressler nodded and smiled.

"Go on."

Elizabeth scooted a bit closer to him and lowered her voice.

"The only way you're going to have a shot with her is if she thinks you've moved on to someone else."

Ressler sighed and began to speak, but Elizabeth cut him off quickly.

"Just give me that chance to prove that I'm right. Follow my lead and I promise you won't be sorry."

For a moment she thought he might say no, but then he shot a longing glance in Jane's direction. He was in.

"Alright, fine. But don't get too handsy."

Yeah. Like THAT was going to be a problem.

Ressler followed Elizabeth to the evidence wall, which, coincidentally, happened to be very close to the desk where Jane happened to be working. Elizabeth pointed to a random picture on the wall.

"What about him?"

There was a short pause as Ressler tried to catch up to what she was doing.

"Umm… no… not him. I mean… Reddington already said that he wasn't involved that much at all."

Elizabeth scoffed playfully.

"Reddington says a lot of things."

She took a couple of steps toward Ressler, grabbing his elbow and squeezing when he attempted to take a step back. He was turning out to be really bad at this.

"I can't believe how stressful this case is turning out to be. Can you?"

Another short pause. Ressler really needed to step up his game.

"I know! I figured we'd have this wrapped up in a week. Should have known better."

Elizabeth really hoped Ressler could handle where she was about to take this.

"You know what REALLY helps me to de-stress?

Ressler shrugged.

"What?"

Elizabeth stepped even closer, and, to his credit, Ressler took a step toward her as well.

"A nice, long, full-body massage."

Ressler blushed like a schoolboy, but quickly regained his composure. At least he was learning. When he finally spoke, Elizabeth could have sworn that he had lowered his voice an entire octave.

"Is that so?"

"That's so."

Elizabeth threw a sideways glance at Jane's desk to see if she was paying attention. She was. Ressler seemed to notice this as well, because suddenly he wasn't just playing along. He was actively participating.

"Agent Scott… I'm not entirely sure that this conversation is work appropriate."

Elizabeth made her best innocent face.

"Really?"

"Really."

Ressler's arm snaked across Elizabeth's waist, and she prayed that Jane was the only audience to their little show.

"In fact, I think we should continue this little discussion at a more appropriate venue. Say… my place? Six o'clock?"

Elizabeth braved one more glance in Jane's direction. She was glaring down at the papers she was holding, but judging by her narrowed eyes and her rather flushed complexion, she had heard every word. Time to bring it home. She inched closer to Ressler until they were chest to chest and reached her hand down to play with the buckle of his belt.

"I don't know, Donald. I don't think that's a good idea."

Ressler reached up to play with the ends of her hair.

"Come on, Lizzie. You know you want to."

"I believe she said that that wasn't a good idea, Agent Ressler."

Shit. Elizabeth hadn't even seen Red walk in, much less noticed that he was close enough to get an earful of their conversation. He took them in slowly, pausing on Ressler's arm around her waist and his hand that was in her hair. His gaze lingered even longer on Elizabeth's hand, which was frozen on Ressler's belt. Pure and utter disgust clouded his eyes, but when he looked back up, it was gone.

"And here I thought that you two weren't getting along very well. Glad to see I was wrong."

The tone of Red's voice was jovial, but the look in his eyes was murderous. Ressler's arm untangled itself from her waist and his hand left her hair. It took a moment for Elizabeth to realize that she was still gripping Ressler's belt tightly, and, yes, Red had noticed. She was forced to let go, however, when Ressler excused himself and scurried back to their desk. Coward. It was some small comfort to see that Jane had followed him. After all, that had been the whole point of their little game.

"You know, I was beginning to worry that you'd never move on from Tom. But I have to say that you've surprised me. Really, Elizabeth? Donald Ressler?"

Red gestured his arm widely in Ressler's direction, and shook his head in disappointment.

"We really need to work on your taste in men. This is just unacceptable."

Elizabeth was furious. How dare he? Seven months had passed since Tom had been placed behind bars and it was revealed that they were never actually married at all. It was Red who had laid bare Tom's elaborate ruse to keep her close, and it was Red who had wiped that slate clean. On paper, it was as if Tom never existed in her world. In truth, he had been her whole world, and his betrayal scarred her deeply. Red had been the one person she had trusted through it all, and it hurt that after he had basically put her life back together, he had quietly stepped away from it. He no longer stopped by her house with takeout and a bottle of wine. He no longer called her at all hours of the night because he 'passed by her house and the light was on'. These things bothered her, but nothing bothered her as much as the fact that he no longer called her Lizzie. Their relationship was purely professional, they way Elizabeth had wanted it. Only… she didn't want it that way anymore. Not that it mattered now. Red had closed the door on whatever had been developing between them months ago. Which begged the question, what the hell did he care who she flirted with?

"Unacceptable? Donald is young, handsome, and a damn good agent."

Red simply looked at her and gave a little nod.

"Do go on."

Go on? That was all he had? She mentally sifted through Ressler's good qualities and picked the ones that most women would find attractive.

"He's brave, he's loyal…and he's a VERY good kisser."

Alright… she might not have known that for a fact, but that wasn't something that Red needed to know. She crossed her arms in front of her tensely, waiting for his rebuttal. There was none. His jaw clenched and she could practically feel his body tense, but when he spoke, there was no malice in his voice.

"Well I guess that would be hard to pass up."

Elizabeth grimaced.

"You're right."

Whatever Red had initially come to the Post Office for was apparently forgotten as he excused himself.

"Now that all of that is settled… I've got some business to attend to. Do let me know if you and Ressler stumble upon a lead."

It was as if Ressler's name had left a bad taste in his mouth.

"See you around… Elizabeth."

With a tip of his hat he was gone, and Elizabeth was left to sort through the case file by herself while Ressler busied himself with a now very attentive Jane. Good for him. She had done a good deed. If only she had remembered that no good deed goes unpunished…

TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBL

Elizabeth entered her apartment later on that night to find a note slid under her door. Her pulse quickened immediately, thinking that maybe this was Red's way of letting her know that they were okay. He was rather fond of the written word, and to him, emails and texts didn't count. She dropped her purse and flipped open the note.

Thanks to you, I have a hot date tonight! I owe you big time!

Donald

Oh yes. Ressler most definitely owed her big time. And one day soon, he would be paying up. She tossed the note into a kitchen drawer and promptly forgot all about it.

After taking Hudson for his customary walk and scarfing down a grilled cheese, Elizabeth finally relaxed into a long, hot bath, one of the few luxuries she allowed herself. A good soak seemed to wash away the stress in her life, if only for a little while. When she reluctantly left the bath she changed into her current sleepwear of choice, an over-sized tee and a pair of panties. She had done away with her frilly nightgowns months ago. After all, who did she have to wear them for?

It was still early when Elizabeth climbed into her bed. She was bound and determined to actually get some sleep, and not just lie in bed and contemplate the mess that was her life, something she did way too often. This plan was ruined, however, by a knock on her door. Actually, it was less of a knock and more of a pounding. Elizabeth sighed. This was exactly what she needed. Ever the cautious FBI agent, she grabbed her gun from her nightstand. When she was almost to the door she clicked the safety off, prepared to send whoever it was promptly back on their way. She was in no mood to play.

"You can put away the gun, Elizabeth. It's only me."

Elizabeth immediately clicked the safety back on and sat the gun on the small table by the door. She took a deep breath and opened the door, and was surprised when Red swept into the room and shut the door, only to push her back against it.

"Red! What are you…?"

She was cut off by Red's mouth moving over hers, his teeth tugging at her bottom lip and his tongue demanding to meet hers, a demand she quickly gave in to. His hand left the door beside her and tangled in her hair possessively, tipping her head back to gain better access and his other hand gripped her hip tightly. When Red finally pulled away from her she was glad that he had kept a firm grip on her hip because her legs were jell-o. His eyes bore intently into hers until she finally found it in her to speak.

"Why…?"

"I thought you might want to know what it felt like to be kissed by a real man. Aren't you sick of little boys, Lizzie?"

There was no sign of mocking in his eyes or in his voice. He was dead serious. Well so was Elizabeth. Enough was enough.

"So now I'm Lizzie again?"

He shook his head in frustration.

"You were always Lizzie to me…"

"Then why?"

Red caught her hand in his and flipped it over, softly stroking her scar.

"I thought I was doing the right thing… or at least the smart thing. It would have been so easy to ingratiate myself into your life… to make myself invaluable to you. But I didn't want you to look back one day and feel that I took advantage of you when you were vulnerable. So I backed off. I was so sure… so sure you would realize… Anyway, I see now that waiting for you to come to me was a mistake. It never occurred to me that you would turn to someone else."

Elizabeth wondered sometimes at the logic of men. He blew her off for months and never once stopped to think that she would move on? She hadn't, of course, but he really didn't have to know that.

"I wouldn't have had to turn to Ressler if I had you. For a while I thought I did."

And she was telling the truth. She had never imagined him walking away. The hand that was holding hers tightened.

"You'll always have me, Lizzie. The question is… in what capacity?"

Elizabeth frowned,

"What do you mean?"

Red turned his intense stare on her again and she shivered.

"I will be whatever you want me to be. If you want to continue on in a professional manner, I believe I've proven that I am capable of that. If you would like to pick up where we left off as friends… well that would be more than I could have ever hoped for and certainly more than I deserve. But I think that you have a right to know that I am in love with you, Lizzie, and I will always be desperately in love with you."

A confession of love wasn't exactly what Elizabeth was expecting, but it certainly wasn't unwelcome. She searched his face for any sign of deceit. She found nerves instead. She made Raymond Reddington nervous.

"Of course having a relationship with a known criminal wouldn't be the smartest thing you've ever done… but I can assure you that it would be the most interesting."

There was a mischievous glint in his eye now. Her face must have given away her delight. She really needed to work on her poker face.

"I was married to a criminal for years. That didn't really turn out so hot for me."

Red tugged on the hand he was holding, pulling her toward him.

"That criminal never loved you. This criminal has loved you always. It makes all the difference."

His arms wrapped around her waist and she allowed it, enjoying the feel of having him so close. Had he always smelled this good?

"I'm sure that it does."

She sighed deeply.

"I have to ask you something."

Red's arms tightened around her.

"Yes?"

"If I told you that I just want to be friends… what would you do?"

The tight hold on her waist loosened and he took a step back.

"I would have no choice but to accept it and try to move on, though I'm not sure I ever could."

Elizabeth stepped closer to him and placed her hands tightly on his waist.

"How very diplomatic of you. What if I told you that I want to be more than friends? What would you do then?"

Elizabeth watched his adam's apple bob up and down as he swallowed. He brought his hand up to tentatively stroke her face.

"I would probably do this."

He pressed his lips to hers, firmly but gently.

"And this."

His lips moved from her lips and down to her neck, lightly scraping her with his teeth. Elizabeth gripped his waist tightly. He pulled away and looked at her expectantly. She frowned.

"Is that all you would do?"

Red grinned darkly and inched his body closer to hers.

"I might do this… if I were so persuaded."

His hand traveled from her waist to her bare thigh, lifting her leg up suddenly and hooking it behind him. She ground into him experimentally, and he groaned.

"Lizzie…"

She kissed his jaw and kept kissing until she reached his ear.

"Say it again."

"Lizzie… Lizzie… Lizzie…"

Elizabeth pulled away from him slowly before taking his hand and leading him to the bedroom.

"That's all I want to hear tonight."

TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBL

Elizabeth's phone buzzed five minutes before six the next morning. She blinked her eyes sleepily and held the phone up to her ear.

"Hello?"

"Guess where I am."

Ressler was way too cheerful at the crack of dawn.

"Just tell me so I can go back to sleep."

"I'm in Jane's bathroom. She was all over me last night!"

Elizabeth smiled.

"I knew it would work."

"Listen… I just called to tell you thank you. I really owe you one."

Elizabeth looked at the man lying beside her on the bed. One arm was slung over his head and he was snoring softly. He was perfect.

"No… I think we're square. Now get in there and wake her up right, tiger."

Ressler laughed, and she could hear the echo bounce off of the bathroom wall.

"You are not right, Liz. Go back to sleep."

"Bye."

"Bye."

Elizabeth put the phone back on her nightstand and scooted over to cuddle a sleeping Red. Yes… she and Ressler were definitely square.

TBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBLTBL

One Year Later….

"Lizzie! Where are the matches?"

Red called out from the kitchen to Lizzie, who was reading a book on the couch.

"What do you need matches for?"

"We can't have a romantic dinner without candles. I have the candles, now I need the matches."

Elizabeth flung the blanket off of her legs with a sigh. Men were really hopeless. Red had practically lived in her apartment for a year, and still didn't know where to find the matches –among other things.

"Don't get up! I've got this! Just tell me where they are and I'll get them."

Elizabeth rolled her eyes and got back under the blanket, laughing when Hudson jumped up on her lap.

"They're in the drawer with the sandwich bags and the bendy straws. You may have to dig a bit."

How domestic they sounded. If someone would have told her a year ago that she would be playing house with Raymond Reddington… she wouldn't have believed them.

"Thanks to you, I have a hot date tonight. I owe you big time. Donald."

She looked to the kitchen to see Red holding a folded up piece of paper. Oh hell. She had forgotten about that.

"Lizzie… could I get an explanation, please?"

Elizabeth groaned.

"Well… it's actually a REALLY funny story…"