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Riptide

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She probably had a concussion. No, most certainly, Liz corrected herself as she staggered, struggling to stay vertical, to keep moving. Fuck, it felt like she was burning all over and her eyes stung, everything ringing and nauseating, and she was just so tired of the pain-

But she got to stay moving, they both got to keep moving, because this whole goddamn hellhole was about to collapse and Ressler- He was bleeding all over and- 

Oh God, no, no, no-

“Ressler!” she cried, desperate to anchor him in consciousness as he began to splutter, coughing up blood and it was all hot and wet and they both buckled from his weight and she just couldn’t, couldn’t-

Stay with me. Dropping to the ground, she desperately tried to keep him steady, levelling him to the ground. He was shaking, burning, too hot for her touch and for a second she just really didn’t know what to do now that he was slipping away-

Stay with me. Please.



Please.

 

-

 

“He’s stable,” they had said.

For now, she finished in her head as she stared at his seemingly unmoving body.

He was covered in bandages and cuts and bruises, surrounded by the tubes that hooked him up to the ventilator as well as various other machines whose sound she instantly hated.

She also hated the silence in between the rhythm of his ECG device as much as its sickening beeping, hated the overlapping smell of blood and antiseptic much, much more. And the fact that the nurses couldn’t seem to comb his hair right nearly pushed her over the edge. She utterly despised them all. They were the constant reminder of things that he couldn’t do on his own: breathe, function, be alive.

Liz felt like throwing up.

She had been working with him for almost a year now, and while the two of them couldn’t be called as friends - because, hell, she still didn’t have the faintest idea what he did for fun or if he even had any random hobbies at all - Liz got to admit that sometimes, she would look up at Ressler and wonder since when he had become this sort of a constant in her messed up life.

But of course he was. Ressler's all protocols and by the books (the trait which sometimes exasperated her to no end). And, sure, he could be quick-witted and improvise with flying colors when the situation called, but he’s partial to following the rules because that's just how he’s wired. Simple. She even thought that she had him all figured out on her first week.

She was wrong on some points, actually, but to her credit, not by that much.

Over the course of the year, she discovered new things and many other different sides of the man, layer upon layer. He had a lot of inner rage which was perfectly controlled and channeled through his job. It was an act of pure self preservation, obviously because he's aware of the thin lines which he should never crossed should he ever been get too close to his breaking point.

And also, for all of his forever knitted brows and disapproving looks, he was more than capable of occasional tenderness (though a little bit awkward, if not much).

If Liz had to sum him up, then she'd answer that Ressler was stability, an anchor which kept her sane amid the daily fuck-ups Reddington brought to their jobs. He was the steady voice at the end of the day which reassured her that “It’s all over now. It’s okay.” and she would always believe him.

What she's supposed to do now when that was taken from her?