Two Years Since
A/N: First of all, THANK YOU so much for all the support you've shown for this story. This was my very first written fanfic, and I truly loved writing it (because I love Keensler!).
Secondly, I do apologize that this chapter took FOREVER. It's not that I've neglected it, I've actually written 3 chapters in which Red and Ressler tackle Fitch, and I wrote another chapter of them going after the big baddie Berlin (I do have my theories…hmm). But I realized the story I was writing was no longer Keensler romance, but Redsler bromance! And that's not right for my girl Lizzie!
So, as much as I love this story, the natural progression of this Keensler romance would be to conclude it here, and send them off to happily ever after. P.S. I'm thinking of posting the Redsler bromance story later. I do think their chemistry is a goldmine.
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Chapter 13: The Epilogue
"What's going on here?"
Donald had let himself in to his apartment, hauling a small luggage in one hand and juggling a set of keys in the other, but not one seemed to have noticed his appearance. He looked about his apartment, and his mouth dropped agape in the sight of sheer mayhem and chaos. Surely this was not the apartment he had left to go to Costa Rica a week ago, in its pristine condition of freshly dusted furniture and well-kept kitchen. The sight that greeted him now reminded him of a slice of Grand Central Station, with empty Chinese take-out boxes strewn about, cups of various sizes stacked haphazardly, and bags of chips tossed without a care or concern. His dining table stationed at least six laptops, plus some other gadgets he was yet to be familiar with.
From his living room came booming shouts of laughter, and Donald could make out Reddington in the center of the raucous group. He walked toward them, still undetected, and spotted Aram and Dembe in the midst, plus three other men who may have been teenagers. They appeared to be poring over the screen of the laptop, and of course, it was Aram who was emphatically explaining something of apparent importance.
"And she had the fattest cankles I've ever seen, I mean, those babies were as thick as my neck. Here, I think there is a picture of a shadow of her cankles." And amidst of cackling, Aram took over the laptop and were busily typing, but looked up suddenly to the new presence in the group, "Agent Ressler, you're back!"
"Hey, what's going on?" Donald managed a shy smile onto the sudden attention, and nodded a perfunctory greeting toward the unfamiliar faces. And although he didn't mean to, he couldn't help but to wince a slight at the empty beer cans gathered unceremoniously on his beige rug. He never considered himself to be particularly a neat type of a guy, but this was ridiculous.
"Donald!" Reddington quickly got up from the couch and gave him a warm hug, "How was Costa Rica?"
"It was great, it was a lot of fun," he smiled broadly, for the most part sincerely, and shot a quick glance at Reddington, promising him of further discussion later. "What did I miss here?"
"Oh, sorry for the mess, Agent Ressler," Aram spoke in his usual nervous befuddlement, "we were…" He didn't finish that sentence as he sought Reddington's attention, as if he needed his permission to speak further.
"We had a lot of work to do while you were gone, Donald. The details of it can be discussed at a later time." Reddington took over where Aram left off, which was taken as a cue as the rest of the company swiftly got up from their chairs and headed to the dining table, and proceeded to pack up their equipments. It didn't seem like picking up the trash existed in their realm of consideration, but Donald thought it best not to nitpick at the moment.
"Who are those guys?" He pointed at the three young men who were packing away what looked like an encrypter. Reddington responded without missing a beat, "That's Bill, Larry, and Ted. Brilliant criminals."
"They look like they barely hit puberty," Donald snickered at the sight of the three bumbling men in plaid shirts, hoodies, and sneakers. He shook his head at the irony that the apartment of an FBI agent had been used as an operation site to carry out crimes of god knows what degree. Even now he has yet to fully figure out who Reddington was, and surprises never ceased to come.
"Well, we're gonna get going, now." Everything seemed to be packed away as Aram called out with a wave, "I'm driving these guys home, we carpooled."
"Of course," Donald grinned with faint amusement as he waved, "Good bye, Aram. See you at work."
The four men left the apartment with much raucous, and their absence brought a welcomed tranquility in the small apartment. Reddington and Donald sank into the couch with relaxed abandon, while Dembe elected to sit on a chair by the front door.
"So, tell me about Costa Rica." Reddington folded his hands and spoke gently, "Was it like everything you've imagined to be?"
"You're funny, Red." Donald's lips parted in a bemused grin, noting the older man's sly humor, "I should've suspected something was up when you insisted on planning my trip. I suppose I should thank you, it was…unexpected, to say the least."
"Well, it was about time. She asked if she could see you earlier, but it wasn't safe."
"I understand. Thank you for taking care of her, if I haven't said that already. I am very grateful."
Reddington shifted slightly on the couch, and smiled warmly to the younger man, "I'm her father, and it's my job, Donald. I'm just glad you two were able to have some time together. I know the past year had been very difficult for both of you."
"Yes, but you were right. This isn't about me, it's about her, and keeping her safe. I'm willing to wait as long as it takes."
Reddington paused a moment as he observed every emotion that flickered across Donald's face, "If I may ask, Donald, what are your intentions for my daughter?"
"Yes, intentions. As a father, I need to know how you've planned out your life with my daughter. Do you wish to marry her? And have fat kids running around? Life in the suburbs?"
Donald let out a low laughter at the mention of fat kids, "I do wish to marry her, yes. I've been dreaming of making her my bride."
"Good. Have you asked her?"
"No, I thought I'd ask you first…for your permission. That is the tradition. I know you're an unconventional type of guy, Red, but some traditions need to be upheld."
A slow but a growing guttural laughter escaped in their tranquil space, and Reddington beamed with apparent delight, "Donald, I gotta say, you're full of surprises."
"So, what do you say, Red? Do I have your permission to marry your daughter?"
Reddington slowly nodded his head, accompanied by a beaming smile, "Yes, of course. Is there a specific term I need to use in saying yes? I'm not too aware of the traditional lingo, as you can tell. Shall we shake on it? Or do we hug? What's left for me to do?"
"A yes would suffice. And thank you." Donald's clear blue eyes lit up with glistening joy, and Reddington could see that undoubtedly and unequivocally he was a man deeply in love. "I've already bought her a ring, you know."
"Oh really? May I ask when?"
"After she left. I was determined to see her again, to keep on living with that hope. Holding onto the ring gave me the strength to keep on living for our future together."
"Well, Donald," Reddington leaned closer to him, "you don't have to wait too long for your life together. The work is finished."
"The work? If you mean what I'm thinking…"
"Yes, the work. Everything has been taken care of, and after I tie up some loose ends, Lizzie may be able to come home, sooner than you think."
Donald sank deeper into the couch, with eyes widened in the shock of the sudden reveal and its implications, "I don't know what to say. When and how did you managed to do…"
"When? Why do you think I sent you packing this week? I needed you gone for the work. And how? Well, as you can see I'm still alive. That could only mean that things didn't abide well with the other guys."
"Are you ever going to tell me what you've done?"
"Donald, it's best that you are kept in the dark about certain things. Let's just say, I got rid of very bad people in our lives."
"Got rid of…as in killed?"
"Among other things, yes, you can say that. Aram and my friends were integral part of the work, and they did some damage as well. But don't worry, everything is untraceable."
Donald shook his head, but the small grin that appeared at the corner of his lips only told of surrendering acquiescence to the older man's gentle persuasion, "I can't help but to find the irony interesting, Red, that as an FBI man, my father-in-law is a notorious criminal."
"Yes, well, life is funny like that, isn't it? Sometimes you just gotta loosen up that tie."
. . . . . .
The mid-morning sun shined brightly against the deep blue of the ocean, casting twinkling lights carried by the lazy waves all around. The color of the ocean appeared to reflect upon the sky, as the blue never seemed to end but stretched out like an angel's soft blanket. Only the rhythms of the crashing waves broke through the silence of the sun, and not another soul was spotted in the stretch of the coastline as far as one can see. Their only occasional companion was the curious seagulls fleeting about, seeking the attention of the intimate party gathered below at this unnamed beach in Costa Rica.
Donald caught his breath when Lizzie walked toward him, escorted by Reddington, wearing a simple white sundress that reached her bare feet. She was impossibly beautiful. Her long auburn hair was braided to her side, and she had placed rows of tropical white flowers onto her hair. The cloudless sky let the sun shimmer upon her porcelain face, with her eyes as the bluest depth of the ocean, and her lips as rosy as the wild flowers of the field. Lizzie kept her eyes steadfast on Donald, and her lips curled into a playful smile, affirming that even in that small party of onlookers, only she mattered to him, that his heart beat only for her.
The local pastor officiated the wedding ceremony underneath the tall palm trees, with Reddington and Dembe looking on as family attendance and Aram as their witness. The pastor's young daughter was also in attendance as a flower girl, and she couldn't stop giggling at Aram's constant goofy faces. There was much laughter and tears throughout the ceremony, and coincidentally much of the tears belonged to Aram as well. The vows were kept short and simple, as according to the island's tradition, and as Donald and Lizzie kissed at the end, the party's claps rang out joyously midst of the crashing waves of the ocean.
After the ceremony, the party had to make a short trek to the nearest hotel where Reddington had arranged an after-party feast of sorts. Reddington and Dembe took the lead of the group, while Aram had the young girl well entertained as her father walked alongside. Donald held Lizzie's hand as they took the tail end of the group, undoubtedly on purpose.
"So, is this what you've imagined our wedding to be?" Donald brought her hand to his lips for a soft kiss upon it.
"Yes, and more. It was beautiful." Liz replied just as softly, with a smile that melted every shred of him.
"We are now Mr. and Mrs. Ressler."
"Yes, we are." The she leaned into him and kissed his lips gently, of which he obliged eagerly.
"You are so beautiful, how did I come to deserve you?"
"No, Don, I should be the one saying that. How did I come to deserve such a good, kind, and honest man like you?"
Donald gazed at her tenderly, "Lizzie, I've loved you the first moment I saw you, whether you deserved it or not."
"And that makes you the luckiest man, right?" She was now being playful, and Donald loved that about her.
"Of course," replied Donald without missing a beat, but nonetheless with the full sincerity of the heart.
Up ahead, Reddington had turned around to check up on the couple trekking along. He waved at them eagerly, just as Donald waved back.
"Your father thinks we'll have fat kids running around. I take that as him volunteering to babysit."
"Oh, really? Just manage to get along with him, that's all I ask."
"Lizzie, Red and I not only get along, we've gotten pretty tight."
"You'll be surprised…our relationship is tense, but there's also…a lot of respect. A lot of gratitude and respect."
"It sounds complicated." Lizzie let out an unabashed laughter, and Donald was sure she was poking fun at him. He watched her as she laughed, and he couldn't help but to join in. "One thing's for sure, our lives are going to be very interesting. Never a dull moment."
"Yes, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I love you."
"And I love you." Then Lizzie leaned in to kiss Donald one more time.
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A/N: Again, thank you for reading Two Years Since!