Chapter 1: #43: Are You Leaving?
Evidence of what they had done was obvious to anyone who would care to notice: strewn clothes and messy sheets, flushed skin branded by acts of passion, air thick and heavy with a musk so intoxicating…
“Are you leaving?”
Elizabeth froze, the muscles of her naked back tensing in a way that, unbeknownst to her, was dangerously enticing. Before Raymond could do anything about it, however, she hurriedly covered herself with the lacy bra he had personally removed from her with great pleasure, immediately followed by the dark blouse that was probably missing a button or two. He continued to watch, unamused, as she struggled to pull on her jeans, the sweat that had yet to cool making her hasty escape more difficult than she would’ve liked.
He wondered if she minded the slick between her legs.
With a loud sigh meant for her to hear, he got up from the bed and crossed to the door, waiting patiently for her to slip on her boots. Finally, dressed as she was when she’d first entered the room, she stood to leave.
“Red,” she whispered, throat bobbing as her eyes flicked over his bare body, “I have to go.”
The sounds of her moans still echoed in his ears, the marks of her nails still dented his flesh, the taste of her essence was still fresh on his tongue… though, he suspected that would ring true no matter the passage of time.
“Stay,” he said, almost nonchalant as he studied the natural blush on her cheeks, the silky hair he was responsible for tousling.
He pretended not to notice her flinch.
“This was a mistake.”
“And going back to him… isn’t?”
“Red.” Crossing her arms, she bit her swollen lip and blinked away the dew on her lashes. “Please.”
Although he had so much he wished to say, so much he wished to do—again and again, over and over—he did the only thing he was capable of doing in that moment.
He let her walk away.
Chapter 2: #23: How Do I Make You Love Me Again?
She winced at the look of his blank, shuttered eyes, at the sound of her name curdling distastefully on his tongue. Thanks to the doubt and fear that’d plagued her immobile, leaving her standing dumbly and unable to do something as simple as knock, she had been exposed to the chill of the elements long enough for her skin to prickle and her bones to tremble. But the temperature had nothing to do with the cold ache now throbbing in the twisted cavity of her chest.
“Red, I…” Digging her nails into the flesh of her palms, she asked quietly, “Can I come in?”
His silence kept her dangling over the edge of a cliff, leaving her to wonder if he would pull her up or throw her down. Eventually, finally, he stepped aside without a word, allowing just enough space for her shoulder to brush his chest, for the scent of soap and scotch to graze her pores.
When they reached the sitting area of his latest safe-house, he immediately poured himself another glass of amber liquid, taking a generous swallow before seating himself in an armchair and tilting his head as if to say, Well?
“Red—Raymond.” She approached him tentatively, cautiously, unsure if it was for her sake or his. Her mind had gone blank as soon as she’d seen his face, and now she was scrambling to make sense of herself, to get him to understand that— “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” Now that the words had begun to come out, it seemed she couldn’t stop if she tried. “Please, don’t think I chose her over you—I didn’t. I kept her from you because I just—for once, for once, I had someone willing to give the answers to questions I’ve had my whole life. I mean, who better to ask than my own mother? But even then, my contact with her was never out of love. I don’t love her; I barely even know her. But I know you. I love y—”
“Don’t,” he finally spoke, the low crackle of sound scorching her like a flame. “Please, don’t.”
“What do I have to do to make you forgive me?” In sync with the tears rolling down her cheeks, she slid to the floor on her knees, looking up at him and brokenly pleading, “How do I make you love me again?”
It was clear her words had struck a chord somewhere deep and uncomfortable, for his eyes glinted and his nostrils flared, the line of his jaw clenching taut like a bow. The tips of his fingers were white against his glass, and he drained it in one gulp before looking away.
She didn’t know how long they’d maintained their devastating tableau, but it had been enough for her legs to grow numb, for the salt to dry on her ruddy cheeks. It had been long enough for her to believe he wouldn’t say anything, that she should give up.
That this—that they were over.
And just as she felt her heart begin to rot, the familiar rasp of his voice shocked it back to life.
“You don’t have to do anything. You never did.”
Maybe, just maybe, they’d be able to find their way back.
Chapter 3: #8: Why Would I Ever Want To Be With You?
“Why are you here, Red?”
Acting as though she didn’t almost have a heart attack, she switched on the lights and headed straight for the kitchen, thankful that the task of putting her groceries away would give her a temporary excuse to avoid his accusing glare.
“You know why,” he said, and she was surprised to note that he had gone from sitting on her couch to standing a few feet behind her. “I was halfway to Beijing when Harold called to tell me that you had resigned.”
“I’m sorry if my resignation somehow ruined your plans.”
“What?” She whirled around, crossing her arms defensively. “What do you want me to say?”
“How about you start with why,” he snapped. “Why, Lizzie? Why now?”
“I’m trying to move on, start fresh.”
“Move on from what?”
“From the life I never wanted.”
He bit the inside of his cheek, a wild storm brewing in his eyes as he croaked, “And us?”
“What us, Red? Did you think we’d live happily ever after just because I warmed your bed a few times?” God, he looked as if she’d slapped him. Steadily bruising the flesh of her arms, she prayed he wouldn’t notice her tremble. “Everyone I’ve ever loved—you either killed or you hired. Why would I ever want to be with you?”
She wasn't sure who her words were hurting more.
But it nearly killed her to see him flinch like that.
Tell me to go, Lizzie.
“Go, please. I never want to see you again.”
Chapter 4: #6: Why are your eyes so red?
“Keen, you finished with the paperwork on—” Her head snapped up to see Ressler standing awkwardly in the doorway, a concerned frown on his face. “Uh, Liz? Why are your eyes so red?”
Jumping up from her chair, she hurriedly gathered her things, not even seeing what she was putting in her purse at this point. “I’m not feeling so well. Can you tell Cooper I had to head home?”
He nodded slowly, uncertain.
“Thanks, Ress. I’m sure I’ll be fine tomorrow.”
If only that were true.
Slamming the car door shut, she gripped the steering wheel with unsteady fingers, squeezing until the skin over her knuckles stretched and paled. It seemed she couldn’t even breathe properly, let alone possess the fine motor skills to put her keys in the ignition and actually drive. The world shrunk before her wet, crazed eyes, closing in on her, suffocating.
This can’t be happening, she chanted repeatedly, hoping she could believe her own words if only she said them enough.
They had been careful, hadn’t they?
It had been one time.
One time in the middle of the night, when neither could sleep, when both had been vulnerable, when everything suddenly had been too much and they just needed to hit pause, to freeze time… together.
Their escape had turned out to be a release in more ways than one.
But by the time the sun rose and exposed the magnitude of what they had done, what they had shared, the only thing they’d run from was each other.
She had already known that her life would never be the same, but now…
Now everyone would know, too.
She couldn’t even imagine how Red would react. Would he be worried? Would he feel as terrified as she currently felt? Would he… not want it?
She couldn’t—wouldn’t—let that happen.
Elizabeth was glad he never checked in on her anymore.
It would give her time to leave before he noticed.
Chapter 5: Will you miss me at all? (34) + Can you really blame me? (39)
Elizabeth burrowed further under the covers, doing her best to ignore the blaring noise that was steadily dragging her from sleep. But when she realized the person calling her was one persistent son of a bitch, she sighed wearily and extended a single arm out, blindly reaching for the ringing device.
“Dembe?” She was instantly more alert. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m sorry to wake you. Raymond—”
A faint crash and agitated mumbling was all she heard before—
“Red? Where are you?”
“Okay… and was there a reason you had to call me in the middle of the night?”
“Well, I think I’m dying.”
“What?” Very nearly giving herself whiplash, she sat up and turned the lamp on. “What do you mean? What happened? Are you—”
“He is fine, Elizabeth.” Dembe. “Raymond is not dying.”
Another bout of unintelligible mumbling reached her straining ears.
“Well, I was shot, Lizzie,” Red said, back on the line. “There was a lot of blood, so I’m pretty sure I’m dying. Will you miss me at all, Lizzie?”
Why hadn’t she noticed the slur in his voice until now?
“Red, I’m sure you’re going to be just fine,” she said, trying to calm the panic that’d threatened to consume her. “Dembe said so—and have you ever known Dembe to be wrong?”
“Yes, actually, I have, but we don’t have time to go into that, Lizzie. I might die any minute now. I don’t want my own voice to be the last one I hear.”
Her heart stuttered as time seemed to freeze.
“You called me so my voice would be the last one you hear?”
“Can you really blame me, Elizabeth?” A pause. “Elizabeth. Lizzie. Lizzie, Lizzie, Lizzie.”
“Yes, Red?” She might have laughed if she didn’t think she would cry. “What is it about my name that has you so fascinated?”
“I imagine other men must pray to God in their last moments—perhaps finish with an Amen.”
“Perhaps,” she whispered, wondering where he was going with this.
“But me, Lizzie… Your name will always be my final breath.”
Chapter 6: #24: How much does it hurt knowing you lost me?
“Tell me, Elizabeth—how much does it hurt knowing you lost me?”
She didn’t know what to say to that.
“Does it affect you at all to know that you no longer have the one person who valued your life above his own, who would’ve burned the world down just to keep you safe? You knew I would have done anything for you—just like you knew exactly what you’d be doing to me when you faked your death.”
“I just wanted—I needed—to keep my baby safe. I—”
“You should have come to me.”
“Come to you? You were the reason I had to run away in the first place!” she yelled, guilt and frustration swelling in her chest and spilling down her cheeks. “Have you forgotten about all the destruction you’ve brought into my life? The death? My world was turned upside down the minute you surrendered yourself to the FBI and summoned the rookie agent nobody had ever heard of.” She shook her head, trying to gain a modicum of composure. “I couldn’t bring a baby into that world.”
Red nodded, his face blank. “So you decided to run away with the man who lied to you, hurt you—the man who was as selfish and reckless as he was dangerous.”
“You’re the one who inserted him into my life.”
“And now I’ll be the one to leave it.”
Her body, which had been curling in on itself, straightened stiffly. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m doing what you so desperately wished for, Elizabeth,” he said, avoiding her eyes as he palmed his fedora. “I’m walking away.”
She needed to say something, do something, but her mind refused to make sense of anything, and her tongue seemed to swell and catch in her throat.
Why couldn’t she move, damn it?
“… Before I go, I ask that you answer my question.”
“What’s that?” she was finally able to croak.
“Does it hurt?” he said quietly, facing the door with his back to her. “Is it so excruciatingly painful that you’d rather die than live another day with what you’re feeling inside?” When she didn’t reply, he continued in a whisper, “Even if the answer is yes… Even then, you still don’t know what it was like.”
Chapter 7: #15: What if I just crash this car and make it all stop?
There was no other word to describe her world as it was right now.
Bullets whizzing, bodies falling, glass shattering and people screaming, blood and pain and adrenaline spilling and searing and spiking… It had all happened so fast.
Now she was in a stolen car, one hand gripping the wheel and the other holding her gun, blindly firing shots as her eyes flitted between her rear-view mirror and the road ahead. The phone nestled between her ear and shoulder nearly fell when she swerved to avoid a hit to her bumper.
“Red,” she gasped, practically sobbing the one syllable that meant so much.
“What’s happening? Are you hurt?”
“Just my arm.” Cursing, she reloaded her gun with shaking fingers, never taking her foot off the pedal. “I’m on the road. They’re chasing me.”
“Who? The Cabal?”
“I-I think so.”
“Elizabeth,” his voice was steady, firm, but she could hear the barest tremor of his fear, “tell me exactly which road you’re on and where you’re heading. I’ll—”
“What if I…” Biting her tongue, she blinked away the tears blurring her vision. “What if I just crash this car and make it all stop?”
For a second, he was silent, and she imagined what his face must look like now. But before she could break her own heart further, he breathed, “No. Lizzie, no.”
“If you let them get you, if you let them… They won’t kill you, Elizabeth—at least, not right away.”
“I have a gun.”
“And the only people you will use it on is them.”
She shook her head, no longer bothering to muffle her cries. “I can’t do this anymore. I just want it to stop, Red. This needs to end.”
“It will. Lizzie, I promise you, it will.” A breath, then, “We can do this, you and I.”
She’d said those very words to him once, when they’d been trapped on a doomed island, when he’d told her about hideous fish and rays of light and past giving way to future… when it’d seemingly been them against the world.
Not fair, Red.
“Tell me what to do.”
Chapter 8: 13. "If I told you I hate you, what would you do?"
“You killed my father.”
Expelling a shaky breath, Elizabeth swallowed a mouthful of the cloudy liquid, hoping the burning sensation would penetrate the cold that’d infiltrated the very marrow of her bones.
She wondered if she’d ever be warm again.
“I don’t know if I can ever forgive you for that.”
“I don’t expect you to.”
“What do you expect, then?” Leaning into the back of the couch, she tilted her head and gathered the courage to face him. Red was staring into his own glass, lips pursed and eyes intent, as though it held the answers to questions both voiced and silenced. “What do you think I should do?”
“I think you should do whatever you feel you have to do,” he said, as if it were really that simple.
Maybe it was.
“If I told you I hated you, what would you do?”
“I’d say, I understand.”
Of course, he would.
She kept her gaze locked on his shuttered face, determined to catch the truth in his reaction as she spoke her next words; every clench of his jaw, every twitch of his cheek, every bite of his lip and hitch in his breath would be hers. She wouldn’t let him hide. Not this time.
“And if I told you I love you?”
Tell me you love me, too.
“I don’t know how to respond to that.”
She was thankful he looked away before he could see her cry.
“Of course, you don’t.”
He was thankful she walked away before he could get her back.
Chapter 9: #1: Stay here tonight
- “Stay here tonight.”
“Do you know we had sex the other night?”
He hadn’t, no.
“… Do you have any idea how filthy that makes me feel?”
He had an idea, yes.
“Unfortunately, Lizzy, you’re chest-deep in filth, and you’re gonna have to wade through it to get to the other side.”
He wished he could have said something else; something softer, something comforting… or maybe something like, Don’t let him touch you again… or, even better, Don’t go back to him at all.
“What if I drown before I can get there?”
“I won’t let that happen.”
“And then?” she asked, her voice as tear-stained as her cheeks. “What happens once this ends?”
“Then something new will begin.” For a few moments, he warred with himself, unsure as to whether he should add anything more or just leave it at that. But one look at her pale face and her slumped shoulders had him speaking before he could think better of it. “You deserve the best in life, Lizzy. I know that sounds odd coming from a man who has brought you some of the worst, but it’s the reason why Tom had to work so hard to be that for you. To be kind, to be thoughtful, make you laugh, to make you love him. Because you deserve that. And it will come.”
She didn’t reply, but he was content to let her mull over his words in silence—which is why when she did start talking… he was caught off guard.
In more ways than one.
“You’re kind. You’re thoughtful. You make me laugh. And you made me—”
What? He made her what?
Unfortunately, a sudden ping had cut her off.
Muttering a curse, she frowned as she checked her phone. “It’s Tom.” Sighing, she stood to leave. “I should get going.”
Gnawing on his inner cheek, he walked her to the door.
Her fingers had just barely grazed the handle when he blurted, “Stay.”
She turned around. “What?”
“Stay,” he repeated. Clearing his throat, he tried not to sound too desperate. “Text Tom with an excuse about work, and give yourself a break from everything that’s waiting for you at home.” The word home felt bitter on his tongue. “Stay here tonight, Lizzy. Take a spare room and get some proper sleep.”
Slowly, she nodded.
He was about to breathe in relief when she stepped toward him.
“But I don’t want a spare room.” Laying a hand on his vest, right above his heart, she whispered, “And I don’t want to sleep.”
Chapter 10: (Red) 51: I don't want to be alone right now
this request has been sitting in my inbox for months... I'm sorry for being so late, anon :'(
Raymond closed the door as quietly as he could, approaching the bed with equally silent steps, regardless of the fact that there was really no need for such stealth. He desperately wished a single slam of the door or some loud stomping could be enough to wake the woman lying still on the bed, but they never were.
He hadn’t seen the blue of her eyes for months.
Just how many months, he didn’t want to think about at the moment.
“Hello, Lizzie,” he greeted as jovially as he could, taking a seat in the armchair beside the bed.
Staring at her peaceful face, he played with the brim of his fedora before hesitantly placing it to the side. His hands were clean and dry, and yet he couldn’t help but fear that he would somehow stain her pale skin red. Still, that didn’t stop him from carefully clasping her limp fingers, rhythmically stroking her knuckles with his thumb (a notion he could admit was more to comfort himself than her).
“I know it’s late, and you’re probably tired of hearing my voice everyday - I know I am - but I just came back from... I just came back from killing a young woman. The paramedic who cut the chip out of my neck,” he confessed in a hushed whisper, his head bowed in shame. “She may not have been directly guilty of putting you here, but she was not innocent, either - not to me.” He expelled a shaky breath. “I cannot forgive anyone involved... I can’t. Not even myself.” He laughed mirthlessly. “Especially myself.
“But I’m selfish, Lizzie - you know that first-hand. I know I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t have invaded your life at all. But I needed you then, and I need you now. And I... I don’t want to be alone right now.
“Please, wake up, Lizzie,” he breathed against her now wet, salty skin, his voice catching on the gravel in his throat. “Please. I don’t want to be without you... ever.”
Chapter 11: Dramatic Exit
fic prompt by heart4hawkeye on tumblr
“What’s with this place?” Elizabeth muttered, flinching at the sound of thunder and flash of lightning. “Did you run out of churches and kitchens?”
Red smirked, the brief motion falling flat. “I’ve always appreciated a dramatic exit.”
“Don’t you mean entrance?” she said, narrowing her eyes.
“... I’m leaving, Elizabeth.”
Ignoring the thudding in her chest and the buzzing in her ears, she feigned ignorance. “That’s nothing new. When will you be back?”
He shook his head. “I won’t be returning.”
“Why?” Before he could answer, she hurriedly pointed out, “You don’t have the fulcrum.”
Finally lifting his gaze from the floor, he huffed a hollow chuckle. “I never did, Elizabeth, but I've managed to make things work for two decades. I’ll continue to do that outside of DC - outside of your life.” When she failed to say anything, he continued in a grave but sincere voice, “Just know that wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, if you are in need, I-”
“I already am.” At his questioning gaze, she ducked her head and admitted, “... I’m already in need.”
It took a few moments for him to respond. “Of what?”
“You,” she snapped, facing him with now wet, flushed cheeks. “I need you.”
Appearing almost afraid, he swallowed visibly and rasped, “I don’t understand.”
She laughed sharply, the sound standing out even in the chaos of the room. “I don’t either. Trust me, I’ve tried...” Her shoulders sagged as the fight left her. “I told myself I was using you - that I was the one in control. I had what you so desperately needed, after all.”
“Yes.” Turning away to stare at the storm playing on screen, she whispered the rest of her confession. “The fulcrum. I refused to give it to you until you gave me the answers I wanted, needed - at least, that’s what I tried to make myself believe. But the truth was... I was afraid that once you had the fulcrum, you would just... leave. I was terrified that the only thing keeping you here, caring for and protecting me, was the tiny device I didn’t even know I had... But apparently even the fulcrum isn’t enough anymore.”
“Look at me.” She didn’t dare move, for fear of what he would say, of the pity that would no doubt greet her. “Please, Lizzie, look at me.”
Fuck, she was weak.
But he’d said please... and he’d called her Lizzie.
Apparently she was turning her head too slowly for his liking, because soon his hand was cradling her jaw and his face was an inch away from hers.
For a second, she thought he was going to kiss her, but he just leaned his forehead against hers and closed his eyes, staying that way for what seemed like hours.
“You were all I ever needed, Lizzie.” Finally opening his eyes again, he looked at her in a way that made her breath catch. “Nothing is worse than losing you.”