AN: Italics are Red's memory.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to The Blacklist.
Red slid his shirt off of his shoulder and pulled the bandage covering his gunshot graze off. It hurt like hell, but he'd experienced much worse. He grimaced as he looked over his shoulder at the scars on his back. It had been over twenty years since it'd happened, but he still couldn't stand the sight of the scars. He didn't regret doing what he did to get them, but he regretted that he'd attempted to kill Liz's father when she had been in the house. Of course he hadn't known that at the time or he would have never done it; and he never would have predicted that she wouldn't remember him in the future.
As he stepped through the house after incapacitating his Adversary, he heard the small cry of a child. He'd been told that the man was going to be alone. No one told him that a child was in the picture. This was supposed to be revenge for the death of his wife and daughter; but he didn't believe in killing an innocent child. By that time, the house was consumed in flames. He stood in the front doorway of the house debating about what to do, but when he heard the child sobbing, his decision was made. He pulled his handkerchief out and put it over his mouth, then ran towards the sound of the child. Her room was surrounded by flames, but he pushed forward. Vaguely he could feel his body burning, but his adrenaline and concern was so high that he didn't noticed the pain until much later.
As he burst into the room, he coughed and squinted in the dim room lit only by flames. He walked forward and approached a tiny huddle in the middle of the bed clutching a half-burnt bunny. He quickly scooped her up and wrapped his overcoat around her to protect her, then ran back through the wall of flames towards the entrance of the house. He could hear himself screaming in pain, but he kept moving and didn't stop until he reached the front yard. He set her down on the cool grass, then quickly dropped down and rolled to put out the flames that were scorching his back.
He laid there for a moment trying to ignore the excruciating pain already radiating through his body. He was about to give into unconsciousness when a little hand landed on his chest. "Wake up. Hey, wake up!" The hand started hitting his chest lightly, which caused even more pain to radiate over him.
Red groaned and forced his eyes open. She was leaning over him and peering into his face. Her bright blue eyes were tear-filled, and her dark brown hair was sticking up all over. He forced himself to smile as she spoke again, "Mister, who are you?"
He tried to speak, but his throat was raw from the smoke inhalation. He cleared his throat a couple of times, then said in a whisper, "We need to get you to a safe place. Can you walk?"
She clutched her bunny closer to her and shook her head. "I'm cold." Her little chin quivered, and that's when Raymond Reddington knew he was going to do everything in his power to keep her safe and protected.
He sat up with a quiet groan, then turned over on all fours and forced himself to stand. His whole body was on fire (not literally). He couldn't tell where his injuries began or ended. He staggered slightly, but after a moment the dizziness passed somewhat and he reached down to pick the little girl up. She didn't weigh much, and when he had her settled on his shoulder he said quietly, "What's your name?"
She buried her face in his neck and said, "I'm Elizabeth, but you can call me Lizzie. What's your name?"
Red ignored her question and began to walk over the lawn towards his car. He only staggered a few times and was proud of himself. He reached the car and opened the back door, then helped her in and buckled her seat belt; the entire time feeling like he wasn't going to be able to stay conscious for much longer.
She looked up at him with beseeching eyes and smiled, and that's when he noticed that she had a little gap in-between her front teeth. "Thanks for rescuing my bunny."
Red tried to smile, but it came out more like a grimace. "You're welcome, Lizzie." He closed the door then opened the driver's side door and slid in. As soon as his back hit the leather seat, he had to bite down on his sleeve to prevent himself from screaming out loud. Tears ran down his cheeks as he tried to control his pain long enough to get her to Sam; that's what he kept telling himself over and over. His mantra. Get her to Sam. Get her to Sam.
Lizzie was quiet as he drove down the dark and empty roads. It was well past two in the morning and they were in a rural area of town. They drove for what seemed like hours to Red; he kept himself conscious by the power of his own will. When they finally pulled up in front of Sam's modest one-story home, he almost cried out in relief. He staggered out the door, then quickly pulled Lizzie out and put her on his shoulder again. She was mostly asleep, and he worried about her silence. He figured she was either in shock, or too young to process everything that had happened. He hoped it was the latter.
He walked up the sidewalk slowly, and had to lean against the wall next to the doorbell as he rang it. Sam lived alone, so he didn't hesitate to ring it over and over until Sam finally opened the door seconds later.
"What, wha—Raymond? What the hell?" Red closed his eyes for a moment in agony, then opened them and held out the sleeping girl for him to take. "Who is this?"
"Please take her Sam. I'm in danger and I need to leave town. I can't take care of her myself or I would."
Sam reached out hesitantly and took her; Lizzie didn't stir. "Who is she Ray?" He repeated.
Red sagged against the wall as he rasped out, "She's the daughter of my Adversary. Her name is Elizabeth, but she goes by Lizzie. I didn't know she was in the house when I set the fire...saved her..can't take care of her." His last words were slurred, and he knew he needed to get medical care soon.
He stood up straight with a huge effort and looked at Sam in the eye. "Will you take her in for me?"
Sam stood stock still for a moment, then looked at Red and nodded his head. "I will, but I'm going to need a better explanation from you soon."
Red nodded and reached out to clasp Sam's shoulder, but pulled his arm back when the pain became too great. "Soon, Sam. Soon."
With that, he turned and staggered back to his car and drove away. He looked over his shoulder once to see Sam still standing there clutching the little girl. That image was burned in his memory for forever, along with the scars on his back.
Red was startled from his thoughts by a knock on the door. They had decided to stay in the same house for one more night then move on the next day. He had been surprised to see her step out of the cab, but it warmed his heart that she had come to him, especially since the day before she had refused to continue to fight with him. He knew she didn't have anywhere else to go, and although she could have stayed in her brownstone, she obviously wanted to move on; it surprised him that she thought of staying with him as "Moving on".
Another knock on the door reminded him that had yet to answer the door. He quickly pulled his shirt back over his shoulder and walked to the door without buttoning it up. He flipped on a lamp near the door, then opened it to reveal a worried looking Liz dressed in over-sized sweat pants and a blue tank top; she still managed to look beautiful. Although he had rescued her as a little girl, he had anything but paternal feelings for her. He knew he shouldn't let himself see her as a woman, but working with her over the ensuing months only served to enhance those feelings; he was quickly falling in love with her and didn't know what the hell to do about it.
"Lizzie, what's wrong?"
She hugged herself and shook her head. "I don't know. All I can think about is what happened yesterday. My life is in ruins, and I don't see how it ever could return to normal."
He grabbed her arm softly and pulled her in, then shut the door behind her. "Oh, sweetheart. I can't pretend to know the future, but we're going to work together and take down the people who are a threat to you. That I can promise you."
She sniffed and nodded, obviously trying to hold her tears at bay until she was alone. "What about the FBI?"
He took her elbow and led her over to the couch, then sat down next to her on her left side; closer than he should have. He'd been doing that a lot lately.
"We don't need them, Lizzie. If they don't want my help then I'm not going to force them."
She heaved a sigh, then said so quietly that he had to lean close to her to hear, "Before Cooper was attacked, he told me I could be reinstated if I want. If I was willing to work with you again."
Red pursed his lips and nodded and leaned into the couch. His shirt fell open to his sides, but he didn't bother to fix it. "What do you want to do?"
She sat back next to him, their shoulders brushing. "I'm not sure. I guess I have some time to think about it while Cooper's still in the hospital, but I just don't know..." She trailed off and closed her eyes.
They sat in comfortable silence until she finally looked over and noticed his state of undress. She quickly averted her eyes and tried to keep them on his face as she said in a quiet voice, "It looks as if I interrupted you getting ready to go to bed. I didn't mean to intrude."
He reached over and took her hand, then brought it up to his lips and kissed her knuckles, then left his lips there and said against her skin. "It's not a bother. You can come to me anytime. You know that."
She didn't pull her hand away as he laced their fingers together and brought their clasped hands down to rest on his chest.
Liz nodded but didn't say anything else as time passed them by. It could have been a minute or twenty when Red finally looked over at her and saw that she was asleep. Their hands were still laced together on his chest, and he was loath to move them and wake her up. Before he could make a decision, she pulled her hand free and cuddled into his side, then threw said hand back over his stomach; wrapping her fingers around his bare side under his shirt. She sighed deeply and nuzzled her face into his chest. He put his arm around her waist and pulled her closer, then resigned himself to staying there the rest of the night; not that he would mind all that much. It was worth a crick in the neck.
He put his face in her hair and kissed the top of her head; he couldn't help himself. He didn't know what was to come for both of them, but as long as Liz was at his side in the end, he found that he really didn't care all that much. Berlin and his Adversary loomed large on their horizons, but they would take them down together; and if they became closer, then who was he to tempt fate?
AN: So I know a few Lizzington shippers are a little confused and angry at the moment. I was too at first, but after re-watching all their scenes together I became hopeful. That end scene was so beautiful with her coming back to him and accepting his explanations. *cries* I listened to the awesome song they played at the end "Just Breathe" by Pearl Jam while writing this. So here's a little continuation scene from Berlin pt. 2. I would love to hear what you guys think. Thanks for reading! :)