A/N: I'm not quite finished with this one, but it's getting quite long and I'm tired of being the only one reading it. I need some perspective. Please let me know what you think. I really do value your feedback!
While not a song fic, most of this is inspired by "Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men.
Posted also at AO3.
Disclaimer: Not mine; I own nothing.
Liz sat at the dining room table in her favorite robe listening to the rain outside. It beat down in a steady roar, periodically underscored by the low rumble of thunder. Rain soaked the windows, casting a blue pall on the living room and blurring the world outside. Though the house was drafty, the obstructed view to the outside world made her feel slightly claustrophobic.
She pulled the covering around her, but the silk seemed to hold the cold and not displace it. She shivered.
It had been three weeks. Three weeks since Sam died.
She looked at the envelopes strewn over the surface of the oak table. Some she had opened, some were already so. Moth-winged papers stretched and contracted, warming under the sun of the dining room lamp. She grazed a thumb over her dad's name and address, blinking back tears.
She looked up as the door rattled and the lock snicked free. Tom came dripping through the door with a box of composition books. His glasses were fogged.
Liz hadn't noticed the time, and she couldn't remember how long she'd been sitting there. Though it must've been four or just after, she looked at the clock in the kitchen for validation.
Tom dropped the box heavily and crossed over to sit next to her without shedding his coat. She frowned as the little droplets of rainwater soaked into the new rug.
"Hey," he said cheerily. "You making any headway?"
He indicated the spread of bills on the table in front of her. She shook her head. "I didn't know there would be all this after someone...after they're gone."
Tom gave a sympathetic frown and rested his chin on his wife's head. He rubbed her upper arm, pulling her closer to him. "You know it's really hot in here, right? You don't have a fever do you." His hands moved to check her forehead; they were cold, and she twisted away from him.
"I don't have a fever," she said blandly. She turned her attention back to the bills, shuffling them, something to keep her hands busy. They were all overdue, so she started sorting them by date received, something she should've done hours ago.
Tom stood and finally hung his raincoat by the door. He reached down to acknowledge Hudson and then went into the kitchen and began running water. "I'll make us some coffee," he said.
Liz nodded absently. "How was your day?" It was their usual dance, and she knew the steps by heart.
"Crazy, but good. State assessments are next week, so we're hitting that hard. I've got to present at that conference over the weekend. Oh, and a kid puked in my room today. Nothing too out of the ordinary."
She nodded again, but she was acknowledging the sound of his voice and not really the words. She could hear the coffee brewing in the background, and Tom, and the clock, and the thunder, and her heartbeat, and rustling papers, but she heard them outside of herself. She rested her chin in her hands and closed her eyes, trying to shut out the meaningless noise.
When she opened them, a bit of color amid the pile caught her eye. She pulled at the corner of it and coaxed it from under the bills and into the dim light. A small piece of paper from a yellow legal pad handwritten in loose red script.
You don't have to be alone.
She ran her finger over the words, her fingers trembling only slightly. Unlike her father's name and address, she could feel the tattoo of pen against paper, the discernible scar. It felt real, represented what was real, unlike the laser printed facsimile of her father's life. She imagined him holding the pen, pressing into the paper with enough force to leave a whisper of his writing on the next blank page. A memory.
He'd been in her house today. Had he come in the rain? She imagined him stopping at the door to take off his coat (Raymond Reddington was not messy). He stood over this table, she thought, touched these letters; he might have even sat in this chair. Hudson would have greeted him happily; Red had been in her house so many times Hudson no longer regarded him as an intruder.
Yet he was an intruder. She hugged herself a little at the thought. The imposed intimacy was a part of their relationship, something she had come to accept along with his presence in her life. That is, until a about a month ago.
You don't have to be alone.
He had been leaving her little things like this for the past two weeks. Little reassurances, messages of his willingness to be there. A dry cleaning receipt. A napkin at her favorite coffee shop. She had not answered them, and he did not call.
"Tell me some stories," he had said, and she had. But only at work and only within the confines of their relationship with the FBI. He had no business in her personal life, as she had told him. So far, save for these little communications, he had respected that. No more late night phone calls, no more unscheduled meetings. They were partners and that was all.
But then, Sam had died. Liz had worked the first week after, but at Cooper's urging, she'd taken a leave of absence two weeks ago. It was the last time she saw him.
She heard Tom's soft footfalls behind her and quickly hid the slip of paper in the sleeve of her robe. He placed a mug in front of her, and she let the steam from the rim envelop her face, a momentary comfort. Tom settled beside her.
"Need me to help?" His hand covered hers, lacing the fingers that had just held the note.
She smiled sadly. "I don't think you can," she said quietly. Her brow furrowed; she still couldn't see out of the windows, and the room was all blue shadows and still so very cold, despite what the thermostat read.
"I think it's something I need to do on my own." She looked down. "Some of it's very personal."
Tom smiled tightly and squeezed her hand. "I'm here if you need me," he said. He left her at the table with the letters and the hidden note feeling more alone than when the house was empty.