A/N: I don't think I really have anything to say, other than the fact that I can't stop the flow of ideas my Muse is gifting me with. I just woke up this morning and knew I wanted to write this. I've never been a prolific writer but Keen and Ressler really hit all of my creative spots. I'll probably stop after this one. I think.
This is Tom's POV. Also, I know the creators have said Tom and Liz will go through with the adoption but I needed to adjust the timeline, so maybe it's not completely in canon.
Disclaimer: May Jon Bokenkamp read fanfiction as ardently as we all do.
"So, how have you adjusted to your life in D.C.? Any big changes?"
There was a moment of silence as Liz and Tom looked at each other and from her insistent gaze, he knew to not bring up anything related to murderous villains or him being stabbed by a madman. That probably wouldn't go down too well with their efforts to go through with their plan to finally become parents.
"Well, every change has some effects but I think we're fine, don't you?" He smiled at Liz's words and nodded, and yet another part of him wanted to growl in frustration.
To say they were fine was definitely an overstatement. If fine meant Liz forcing them to stay in D.C. and not leave behind all of the dangerous and unpredictable, then sure, they were fine. If fine meant him having to concede to the fact that they wouldn't be moving anywhere, they were fine. But in his heart, Tom knew full well that even three months after she had come home bloody and bruised and refused to tell him what had happened, they were not fine. Ever since that night, there seemed to be widening gap between them and he wasn't fully sure how to close it.
The woman from social services sitting across from them had no idea what he really was thinking and smiled enthusiastically, as she could probably only see a young couple, anxious to have a baby.
"That's great. Now, as you know, this is a preliminary visit as your last adoption didn't come to fruition due to the mother having a change of heart. I need to remind you that there is a very big possibility of this happening again."
"Yeah, we understand that."
He could remember the palpable relief in Liz when the agency had called to tell them that the mother of the baby girl they were going to have had backed out. Up until that point, Tom had believed a child would bring them closer together, would fix whatever had tried to come between them but her face haunted him. She should've been devastated and hurt but she was almost happy. Having a baby had been their plan for so long and he didn't understand how she could be so hesitant now. So when she forced him to abandon any thought of moving to Nebraska, he'd counteroffered another try at adoption, knowing she couldn't refuse giving it.
The social worker was explaining the process once more but Tom paid more attention to Liz, watching her, observing her. He'd spent years in her presence and knew instantly what exactly her emotions were conveying. He could see the uneasiness and slight reluctance that colored her every yes and underlined her smiles but those were inconsequential things. As long as she didn't say she didn't want this, he wasn't going to offer her a way out.
They were a unit and they were going to be a family and he wouldn't let anything come between that.
"Would you like a tour around the house? I can show you the nursery." Liz was welcoming and accommodating and Tom could see how the social worker liked it.
They stood and Liz cast an expectant look at him, silently demanding him to accompany her.
"I'll be right behind you, okay?"
He wanted her to make an impression and not let him do all the talking; perhaps that would make it a bit more real for her and dissolve the slight apprehension. He wanted her to be okay because he was sure that deep in her heart, she wanted them to be a family and that needed to outweigh everything else happening in their life.
Liz left the living room with the social worker and soon he could hear them moving about on the second floor. He was about to follow them when a knock reverberated in the hallway. Someone was at their door, a rare occurrence on a Saturday lunch.
He opened the door and came face to face with a man in a suit who wore a perfectly neutral expression. In an instant, his mind flashed back to his interrogation at the FBI black site and he could place the face there. This was going to be about work.
"I'm here for Agent Keen." He didn't let Tom get out a word but merely stated his intentions, dismissing him completely. That would not do.
"I'm sorry, who are you?"
"Agent Ressler? Don't you have a first name? I'm Tom Keen, Liz's husband."
The agent's expression didn't flicker in the slightest. "I know." His tone of voice let it be known that Tom's other question wouldn't be answered in any capacity. He also got the sense that Ressler didn't particularly like him, even though it wasn't too obvious but something about his demeanor was hostile and spoke of distrust.
"Well then, agent Ressler, what could you want with my wife on a Saturday? It's her day off."
The other man's eyes narrowed, probably in annoyance at Tom for not just giving up. "It's classified. Just tell her I'm here."
Tom crossed his hands in front of him, knowing full well he was being outwardly hostile. "Look, I don't know who you think you are but it's Liz's day off, something she more than deserves. We have company and I'm not going to let you ruin it."
"I'm her partner and I'm not asking for your permission." There was a more aggressive note to the agent's voice now, something vaguely threatening, with promise of going through Tom if necessary.
"Ressler? What are you doing here?"
And, of course, Liz appeared right at that moment, having probably heard the conversation, the social worker in tow. He saw her cast her eyes over Ressler's face and as a whole conversation took place in that glance, turned to him.
"Tom, would you give us a minute?"
Just like that, she dismissed him and he knew there was no point in fighting that particular thing. He held his hands up and stepped away from the door and Ressler, without waiting for an invitation, walked in. He could see the agent ever so slightly favor his right leg, though it wasn't immediately obvious as he walked but it did make him wonder what had happened; he couldn't remember him doing that the last time they saw each other.
He sat the social worker down in the living room, smiling amiably and with the intent of making tea, went through to the kitchen. As he heard voices through the door, he realized that Liz had moved the conversation down the hallway, close to the kitchen. He told himself he wasn't eavesdropping on purpose but he just couldn't keep accepting all the secrecy, without any idea what was going on.
"I tried calling you but you didn't pick up. Sorry to barge in." His voice was a lot smoother and friendlier than what Tom had been greeted with and his interest piqued.
"No, it's fine. I guess it was on silent; we have a social worker here and I didn't think there would be something happening on a Saturday."
"I don't think Red takes days of the week into account."
"So where is he?" He heard Liz's anxious whisper, curiosity lacing the question.
"According to Meera's sources, he was spotted in L.A. and Cooper wants us to go out there and find him."
It was as if they were speaking code; Tom had no idea what it all meant. There were words, people's names but out of context and they made no sense. The only thing he did understand was that this agent Ressler wanted Liz to go to L.A. right now and he had a sense of foreboding that Liz wouldn't decline.
"This isn't the best timing, Ressler."
"Yeah, well. If we could wait, we would. I wouldn't have come here if it wasn't so urgent."
They were silent for the next few moments and Tom could practically envision Liz's face, the one she always made as she came to a decision; deep concentration, a slightly furrowed brow, eyes flitting from one side to the other.
"I could go alone or take Meera. If you really can't come, if this is important."
Tom wasn't expecting this from the agent; he didn't really seem like the type to compromise but rather push forward with his own plan and not consider how it affected anyone else. But now he did seem to care how Liz fit into this plan and Tom realized he might've been too pushy with Liz; finding support in someone else was not what he wanted. He couldn't lose her because of his own hard-headedness and unwillingness to find a compromise.
"No, I'm good. I'll just talk to the social worker and Tom. I want to catch Red as much as you."
He could hear Liz walking to the living room and made his own way there, just to see her apologize to the social worker.
"Oh, don't worry. I've seen plenty to know that you'll be a good fit. We'll see about scheduling in another meeting. See you soon."
She sent the social worker out of the door and as she returned to the living room, Tom could see the apprehension in her eyes as she struggled with how to explain what she needed to do. Taking a deep breath, he decided to be the bigger person.
"It's okay, Liz. I mean, this isn't what I pictured for our weekend but if your job demands you, you should go. I'm sorry if I've been too hard on you about that."
He could see her confusion at his words, knowing his change of tune was something she hadn't been expecting, probably having prepared herself for another fight. But that wouldn't do either one of them any good.
"Oh. Thank you." She stepped closer and moved to peck him quickly on the cheek, probably aware of Ressler standing in the hallway, his face inscrutable. Something irrational inside of Tom made him turn his head just enough to catch her lips instead. As he saw agent Ressler turn away from them, a brief flash of emotion on his face, a dark part inside of him rejoiced.
They broke apart and he was glad to see a slight flush on her face. She smiled and rushed to the second floor, explaining that she needed to grab some things as she passed Ressler.
Tom made his way to the hallway, now more confident in how to approach the agent. "So, you say you're her partner."
Ressler remained calm under his scrutinizing gaze. "I am."
"Then you'll know to keep her safe, right?"
For a moment, there was something in his eyes, a recollection of some sort as his eyes darkened and his face took on a darker appearance. He shifted slightly but didn't avert his gaze. "She can take care of herself, Mr. Keen."
His tone was once more slightly threatening, as if challenging Tom to refute that claim. The added Mr. Keen felt like a stab and he couldn't keep himself from biting back.
"Yes, but as her partner you're required to watch her back, to make sure she doesn't get hurt."
The agent seemed to growl slightly in frustration and as he locked eyes with Tom once more, Tom wanted to take a step back at the intensity he found there.
"I'm aware of that."
Without any more words having to be spoken, Tom was fairly confident agent Ressler had already been present in more than enough dangerous situations with Liz and had watched her back and as he dared Tom to challenge his commitment to being her partner, he realized he really couldn't.
"Okay, I'm ready to go." Liz practically flew down the stairs, holstering her weapon, an overnight bag slung over her shoulder which made his heart drop slightly.
"You're going for a longer time?"
She gave him a small smile. "I don't know, Tom. Maybe, maybe not. I'll call you when I know for sure, okay?"
He smiled back and nodded, forcing himself to be content with this. "Just be safe."
She turned from him and moved towards the door before he had another chance to touch her, to remind her and himself just what was at stake.
However, he didn't miss the way Ressler's hand raised up as if to support her lower back as she passed him but paused and let his hand fall away, probably remembering just where he was. He would definitely have to keep an eye on that one.
A/N: Oh, Tom. He seems easy to write but it actually the most difficulty I've had. Do let me know how it seemed to you!