Title: Beyond Borders
Chapter 11 – Making a New Start
A/N: Hey everyone thanks so much for reading this story. I'm sorry to be ending it here but due to RL and lack of continued inspiration in this story I am ending it here. Also I wish I could have kept everyone happy from start to finish as that is my goal and to those that steadily left I do apologize. For the rest I hope you like this happy ending and thanks!
"Home sweet home," Ressler gently comments as they enter their quiet apartment building early the next morning. Ressler was discharged without incident, given another set of instructions on how to keep his wound clean and when to come back if it was necessary.
"How's your side?" Liz asks in concern as his face displays a small wince when he leans toward the side of the fresh injury to open their front door.
"Can I opt for that sponge bath now?" He retorts with a small smile as her lips slightly purse. "Wasn't that an option?"
"At least we know mud wrestling is out," Liz tosses back as she unlocks their apartment door and then pushes it open.
"For now," he grins in return. But as soon as they enter, they both stop and look at the table before them in surprise.
"What on earth?" Ressler asks in surprise as he slowly nears the large wrapped gift basket. "Hope your side doesn't leak too much when you have a drink Donald," Ressler reads the note from Red as he hands it to Liz. "Did you give him a key to our place?"
"No," Liz shakes her head in haste as she looks at the card and then back at the table, containing two large food gift baskets and two large get well soon and welcome home flower bouquets. "But this is Red. Are you surprised?"
"After being declared an illegal immigrant, married and then shot by him, nothing about Red surprises me anymore."
"Just don't let him hear you say that," Liz gently laughs.
"No way, then he'll make it his mission to prove me wrong," Ressler deadpans as Liz smiles and nods. "And this…what's this?" He asks as he holds up a small white box; Liz's fingers plucking the small card from the top. "Is it ticking?"
Liz tosses him a wry smile as she opens the card and then reads it in surprise.
"What?" Ressler presses as she hands him the card and then opens the small box. "Always happy to be the first one to break the wedding registry. You registered us?"
"No I didn't," Liz replies with a small frown as she opens the box and peers inside. "And…it's a red box."
"Course it is. What's inside?"
"Not china or towels."
"Course not," Ressler lightly chuckles as he looks at the red box and then looks up at her with a serious expression. "Really?"
"Really," Liz answers as she closes the box and holds it for a few minutes. "Think this will make our wedding day complete."
"It will and I'm not even that upset that he arranged this."
"You know speaking of being registered," Liz puts the little box back in the box and looks up at Ressler's wondering expression.
"We have to tell Cooper first. He'll be expecting everything to go back to normal now that Red said everything with regards to my paperwork is back in place."
"Cooper will see how it's all worked so far. We've been professional at work and…" her voice trails off as she suddenly remembers the other room.
"What?" Ressler asks as he follows her hurried footsteps toward the spare bedroom. She enters the room and stares at the scene before her in utter shock; Ressler joining her and looking at it just as much in surprise. "He bought all this?"
"What did he do with Tom's stuff?" Liz asks absently as her phone buzzes.
"Forget Tom, when did he have time to do all this?" Ressler wonders as Liz tosses him a look that says 'really? You have to ask? This is Red.' "Right…why am I…asking," he sighs as his hands rest on her sides and he pulls her body back against his so that her head was resting on his shoulder.
"I need to call Tom to get him to come and pick up his stuff."
"The sooner we get rid of his stuff the better," Ressler's voice whispers in her ear as she stares at the box at few meters away with a somewhat blank stare. "Let me call him."
"I doubt you'd be more politically correct than Red."
"Why didn't he just throw Tom's stuff out?" Ressler asks sourly.
"Because he knows I need to close that door on my own. And he's right," Liz states as she pulls away and turns to face Ressler with a small frown. "I need to be the one to send him away – for good
"Call right now."
"The longer you let it wait the worse it'll be and the more I'll just want to take it over and leave it on his doorstep myself."
But the more she ponders his statement the more she knows he's right; Red's right. It's to close that door for good and embrace her new life. Don had asked her to marry him…it wasn't the most romantic of settings, but it was from the heart and she had said yes with all her soul. Planning a modest wedding would be her top priority outside of work and Tom would be an emotional hindrance.
She dials…and waits.
"Liz? This is a surprise. I heard the news about the explosion. Were you caught up in that? Are you okay?"
"No. I'm fine. Don was hurt and a few guards and the pri…no I'm fine," she stops and exhales heavily. "Tom I need you to come and get your stuff."
"I was meaning to talk to you about that. How about…"
"I'm planning my wedding and I need to get this done."
"Your…wedding? Wow I guess you really have moved on. Who are you marrying?"
"Don. I need the box gone today if possible Tom. I'll be here if you want to come over."
"Don? Really," Tom states more than continues to question; the sourness in his tone unmistakable. "I'll um…come by in a few hours."
She hangs up and then looks at Ressler with a small frown. "He'll be by in a few hours," she tells him as she pulls away and heads for the box, bending down to examine the contents, Ressler kneeling down by her a few minutes later. "I thought for sure he'd make a comment about you…or the job…" she pauses as his hand rests on hers, stopping her from pulling something out to reminisce.
"Can't believe I'm saying this but I agree with Red…you need to get rid of that stuff."
Liz looks at his soft expression, the earnest pleading in the sapphire pools before her and nods as she puts the item back in the box, closes the lid and then stands up at his urging. "I want a small wedding," she states as she lifts the box into the air; his lips curling upward as both leave the room and head into the hallway. Liz deposits the box at the base of the front door and then heads into the kitchen as Ressler starts to pull apart the goodie baskets that Red had left for them.
"What is this?" Ressler holds up an edible item with a wondering glance.
"That is very expensive cheese. Here let me unpack the rest of this stuff….what is this?" She retorts as both share the moment, lightly laughing at Red's expensive taste but a few minutes later settling in to enjoy it. The conversation over the food centers around the small wedding she wanted for them. Since they were technically and legally married, a JP would just make it official 'again' before a few close friends. Liz tells Don that she wants Red to walk her down the aisle, neither needing someone to stand at their sides as there was nothing in reality to witness; it was already done.
After lunch, Liz tells Don to just go and rest as neither of them got a very restful sleep the night before and she'd finish up. But it wasn't long before a soft but determined knock is heard at the door and she's quick to answer it.
"Is this a good time?" Tom asks in a quiet tone as he hears only silence coming from the space behind her.
"Don's asleep," she replies in truth as she gestures to the box.
"At least you found someone who won't worry about you on a daily basis."
"That isn't fair," Liz fires back as her eyes slightly narrow. "Don will still worry as much as you, maybe more but at least I won't feel pressured into taking a desk job or browbeaten every time I have to come home late from a case."
"I told you it wouldn't have mattered."
"You said that but every time I was late I came home to the cold shoulder and an empty kitchen, like I was being punished for actually doing a job I enjoy doing. You always told me actions speak louder than words. Some nights I was here alone for no other reason than your ego was bruised."
"So I worried and cared more than I should have," Tom retorts with a small hiss. "Is it my fault I cared too much?"
"It's over Tom. I think it has been for a while but neither of us wanted to let go of…of whatever. Now it's time. I love Don and we are going to…" she pauses as she looks at the band of gold on her finger and then up at Tom's expression of shock, "start a new life together."
"You said planning a wedding earlier. You're actually married?"
"Long story but yes…we are at least officially. The wedding is to celebrate our union. Have a good life Tom," Liz tells him as he picks up the box.
"You…too," he whispers as he offers her a tight lipped smile and then finally turns to leave, Liz watching for a few seconds before she closes the door and then leans against it for a few seconds. She looks back down at the band of gold on her left hand and smiles warmly before she pulls away from the door, turns off the hall light and heads toward the bedroom.
Ressler hears her enter and watches her approach the bed with a small frown. He had heard Tom's words and for a second thought about barging into the hallway and telling him to just get lost already. But Red was right…Liz had to close that door and he had to let her do it. This way there would be no doubt in her mind that she did the right thing. It was done and now it was time to move on.
"It's done," Liz whispers as she snuggles into bed on his uninjured side and rests her head on his shoulder.
"Good," he whispers in return as he kisses the top of her head and pulls her closer, his arms holding her tight as her body responds in kind. Liz finally surrenders to the darkness, Ressler remaining awake a bit longer as he ponders Tom's visit a bit longer then but finally falls asleep with a satisfied smile on his face.
"I would say I'm surprised but…" Cooper sighs a day later as Ressler and Liz stand before his desk with the big news. He pulls out a card from his drawer and then hands it to them. "Nothing surprises me anymore."
Ressler looks at the card from Red and then offers a small smirk as he looks at Liz and then up at Cooper's less than amused expression. "Sir, we've made it work so far and we will continue to make it work."
"I know you are both professionals but there are a few rules that have to be put in place for you to remain on the same team. Sit down."
For the next few hours, Cooper outlines some rules of conduct for them to continue working as partners while being married; the things to avoid and of course always remembering that in the field their priorities were to their employer not their romantic bond – no matter how tense the situation or what feelings might be involved. Finally they were allowed to leave; the news being spread instantly.
"Please tell me you didn't ask Cooper to walk you down the aisle," Red comments a few hours later as he and Liz stand beside a portable coffee stand.
"No one's walking me down the aisle," Liz tells him with a cryptic smile as Red merely purses her lips. "You really want to do that?"
"It would be my honor. Besides…I like Donald," Red tells her with a smile. "Now…white or cream?"
"The dress of course," Red retorts as she merely shakes her head. "And you got rid of Tom. Good girl. All that's left is for you to confirm front row seats to that mud wrestling place. You know the crab cakes are not bad. I had to tell the chef though to add some more spice."
"You…went? To a mud wrestling place?" Liz asks in shock as Red nods. "It's not exactly a place we'd go on our honeymoon."
"Where are you going?"
"We both talked about it and are thinking maybe the Rockies."
"Canada. I like Canada," Red smiles. "It's so…peaceful there."
The two of them talk a bit longer before duty calls and each are pulled in separate directions, Liz returning to the Blacksite where Ressler, despite having his working status and immigration fully reinstated was once again sidelined due to his injury and about to climb the walls.
"A few more days and then we'll be on our honeymoon and then…back to reality."
"I can handle reality," Ressler deadpans as she offers him a small laugh. The two of them leave the blacksite and head for his apartment, having to arrange now for it to be sold and then wondering what inside to bring.
"I think we should move," Liz blurts out as she stands in Ressler living room; drawing his surprised gaze away from the large entertainment unit.
"I like your place."
"I want something that's us. A fresh start with no Tom…no memories of past relationships…just us," she states as he nears her. "Crazy?"
"I think it's a great idea," he tells her in truth. "New rooms to christen," his voice nuzzles huskily in her ear.
"At least your side is better so you can carry me across the threshold," she retorts as his arms tighten around her.
"Can I carry you somewhere right now?" He grins as he picks her up; his side okay to put weight upon it as the wound was well on its way to being healed. Ressler playfully tosses her on the bed and then quickly follows, covering her body with his, his mouth devouring hers and an intimate union about to be enjoyed.
A few weeks later the big day had finally arrived. The day was bright, warm sunshine and crisp blue sky was adding to the delightful mood and the hours ahead were promising to be magical and fulfilling for both of them. The spot in the park was perfect and handpicked by both; the perfect venue for a few close friends to celebrate thier happy union. As she slowly gets dressed in the provided changing area, Liz's mind thinks back to when she was a young girl and first talking about finding her handsome Prince and getting married. Even then she wanted something simple and intimate, not a lot of fanfare but just being surrounded with close friends and those that only wanted to wish her and her husband well. Then it changed and she told herself she didn't need a prince and standing on her own would be okay. Tom came along and she questioned her need to remain solidly single. But his constant griping on her job started to give her second thoughts once again. Ressler changed all that and now she couldn't wait to start her new life with him in it on a regular basis. Her love for Don would only continue to grow as each day would pass; his love for her in returning strengthening as well.
"My my…what a vision," Red's voice is heard as he enters the dressing tent and slowly approaches the mirror. "You might just kill that groom of yours," Red compliments as her smile grows. "I think poor Donald is more nervous than you."
"I doubt it," Liz lightly huffs as she turns and looks at Red with a small frown. "I'm nervous but excited at the same time."
"That's how it should be. And trust me he's just as excited as you. Well maybe more for tonight than the actual details," Red retorts as her face gently blushes. "And how on earth did you get him in to a tux?"
"I had to bribe him."
"Oh do tell," Red smiles as he extends his arm for her to take. "M'Lady, your Prince awaits."
Liz's arm wraps around Red's as they slowly walk toward the front of the tent and then outside into the warm sunny afternoon air. She feels her heart starting to be faster as they slowly head toward the short carpeted walk-way so the official ceremony could begin.
Just as the music starts, Ressler looks up with a nervous smile, his heart rate starting to rise and keeping nervous beats with hers. But as soon as she rounds the corner, his breath slightly catches and his smile instantly grows. Their eyes lock and, within seconds, everyone else around them fades to a blur.
Liz's arm transfers from Red's to his; Red giving Ressler a comforting pat on the back before he takes his seat beside Cooper; watching them with a very satisfied smiled. The city official (JP) starts into the official part of the ceremony, telling those gathered that the reason Elizabeth and Donald have come together, despite being already married in the eyes of the law was to include them all in their happy day – something they were unable to do, due to their unique situation. As the Minister speaks, both Liz and Don, hold hands and keep their eyes locked on each other, trading smiles and knowing glances and the occasional chuckle when called for.
They each offer a few heartfelt and loving words, before the Minister goes through the official vows and the little red box that Red had given them a week earlier is now presented. The box is opened two reveal two very expensive but matching white gold and diamond wedding bands; to be worn in place of the standard, city provided bands of gold.
"Do you Elizabeth….take Donald to be your lawfully wedded husband…"
"I do," she whispers with a smile.
"And do you Donald take Elizabeth to be…."
"Rings please," the Minister mentions as each take a ring to place on the finger of the other. "These rings are an outward symbol that…"
Liz's smile widens as she watches the beautiful ring being pushed up her delicate finger and then offers a small chuckle as Ressler has to nearly force the band over his wide knuckle. But the mission is a success and soon both hands are clasped and they turn to face their friends.
The minster officially announces them as husband and wife – again – and tells them they may kiss. Ressler's hand gently cups her cheek as their lips meet, pressing against each other for a few seconds but being broken a few seconds later as they smile and welcome the cheers from their friends.
"Enjoy the rest of your special day."
The two of them head into the small crowd, accepting hugs and well wishes, congratulations and a few snippets of well-meaning advice. The whole day was to be casual and relaxed, the conversation only stopping when they were whisked away to another part of the park for some official pictures; the photographer even commenting about the warm love that they were showing the other and now natural and effortless it was.
Red watches them with a knowing smile as they pose in each other's arms, his expression one of contentment and pride but also that of a watchful eye from a fatherly protector knowing that his work in being a silent guardian to them was just starting.
After their pictures they head, hand in hand toward the large decorated tent to get the evening festivities officially underway. Liz pulls away from Don and heads toward Red, accepting a warm hug and telling him how much they both loved and appreciated the rings; something they knew they could never afford without going into considerable debt – but she didn't tell Red that, she didn't have to.
"I wish you all the best Lizzie, but you know this is just the start."
"And I'm excited for this start."
"As it should be," Red tells her with a proud smile. "Now…when's dinner? I'm anxious to try that roast," he gently teases as she offers him a small giggle.
She pulls away from Red and rejoins her husband, the two of them heading for the small head table, where now they had Meera and a friend of Don's on either side; Red insisting he sit at the same table to pester Cooper. Dinner, much like the rest of the day is relaxed and enjoyable, soft music playing in the background as the guests enjoy the catered meal. After dinner they just relax until it's time to give a few speeches, both of them being modest and brief but heartfelt and appreciative.
"Time to go on display again," Ressler comments under his breath as he takes her hand and gently leads her toward the dance floor for their first dance.
"I don't mind this today," she replies in truth as his arms firmly encircle her.
They sway together until the end of the dance, which culminates in another passionate kiss, their friends applauding before the DJ/MC tells the rest they can take to the floor if they so desired. Don and Liz continue to dance to a selection of rock and roll slow and fast songs for the next few hours, the modest cake being cut and handed out to guests; each of them taking the time to thank their friends for coming and for their love and support. Finally Don looks at his watch and smiles; it was time to go. The day had been perfect and the evening a complete success; some of their friends had already started to leave and some were going to stay and party until they would be told it was time to leave.
"Time to go?" He whispers in Liz's ear as she finishes up some instructions with the catering hostess.
"Nope we are staying until the bitter end," she teases.
"What?" Ressler asks with an instant pout making her giggle.
"I guess it is time to leave," she looks up at him with a knowing smile. "Just let me get my things."
"Meet you by the door," he smirks, making her just shake her head. Ressler goes and says his goodnights to the guests still lingering; talking a bit longer to Red and thanking him for his help and of course his generous gift.
"Take care of Lizzie," Red's parting words are confirmed by a nod from Ressler as he takes his leave.
Liz finishes up with a few last guests; gathers up her small beaded clutch and heads for the front door, seeing Ressler leaning against a post with his back to her.
"Hello handsome, are you lost by any chance?" She asks warmly as she wraps her arms around his waist and plants a soft kiss on his cheek.
"Actually yes. Want to take me home?" He lightly flirts in return as he embraces her with a loving smile.
"Home? How about a hotel where I can have my way with you?"
"Like the sound of that even better."
"Then come with me," she extends her hand for him to take; the limo waiting a few feet away. "Actually…where are we going?"
"You'll see," Ressler replies with a coy smile as they climb into the back of the black stretch limo, pulling away from the restaurant, their lingering guests able to stay and enjoy themselves for as long as they wanted. As they near the Fairmont Washington DC, Liz looks at Don in mild surprise.
"The Fairmont Washington? Really?"
"Only the best for you," he kisses her on the cheek as the limo pulls up to the valet area and stops. Tonight wasn't the night to argue cost; they could afford the night…it was now time to enjoy everything else the other had to offer. Ressler gets out and then extends his hand to his bride, helping her out, much to the delight of a few happy onlookers. They stop at the front desk to collect the key, once again accepting a few well wishes from the hotel staff before proceeding to their honeymoon suite.
"Oh Don…this room is amazing," Liz exclaims as she slowly heads into the middle of the room that had been decorated with roses, candles and a special welcome basket for the bride and groom. Liz takes the lighter purposely left for the candles and starts to light them as Don turns on the nearby CD player, already outfitted with soft romantic music before walking up to her, placing his hands upon her bare shoulders and bringing her lips to his for the first real searing kiss of the day; one that would last longer than a few seconds.
"I love you Mrs. Ressler," he whispers as his fingers lightly graze her bare shoulder, before moving to the zipper in the back.
"I love you too Mr. Ressler," she whispers in return. Not wanting to damage her dress in any way, Liz allows Don to help her step out and then stands before him with a small nervous smile.
"Perfect," he praises before their arms intertwine.
"Ditto," she teases before their one uniform thought is finally put into action, the rest of their clothing being removed and their first intimate act of the night as a newly married couple is well underway.
And for the next few hours nothing else in the world would matter to them. And as they started to make love, a peaceful calm washed over them both. Embracing them in its endless arms. Wrapping them in serenity. And watching over them with a careful eye making sure they got the love they both needed and deserved. And tomorrow would come. The future was theirs to share together.
But for now it would have to wait…
A/N: Well I hope you all liked the happy ending. I would love a final review before you go and thanks so much!