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Ressler's DMV Altercation

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In retrospect, the suit probably hadn’t been the best idea.

 

Aram had worn a suit when he’d come to the DMV, but his had been casual, easily passed off as just an ordinary work suit or even something one might wear day to day. But Ressler’s suit was black, pressed, and rather easily identifiable.

 

The first clue had been the stares the moment he’d walked through the door. At first, Ressler had wondered if he’d had something on his shirt, or if there was something wrong with his hair - but he’d passed it off as his imagination. And after standing in the corner of the room for several minutes, he’d quickly come to the conclusion that he was being stared at purely because he was something new. Something different to look at in the dreary grey of the waiting room. They’d stop soon, no doubt.

 

And that would have been that. Ressler would have stood there quietly, back straight and hands clasped as he looked out over the sea of plastic chairs and unhappy faces, waiting patiently for his number to appear so he could get out of the bloody place and back to doing his actual job. That would have been it.

 

Except for one small fact - Ressler is an FBI agent.

 

If FBI agents are trained in anything, it’s-

 

A burst of noise interrupted Ressler’s thought process - a bouncy, energetic piece of music, loud enough to cause him to jump.

 

A few others in the room reacted, though none with surprise as Ressler had. A handful in the room sighed, shook their heads and kept doing what they had been doing. Most merely smiled fondly. A few began bobbing their heads along to the music. Several of these began mouthing the words that soon joined the melody.

 

                                                                                                          I was born

 

                                                                                                                                       in a flame

 

                                                                    mama said that everyone would know my name

 

Ressler cast his eyes over the group, his position by the wall a great vantage point. He quickly found the source of the music; a kid, around college age, holding his phone up. He too was bobbing his head to the music, moving his shoulders to the beat. His lips were pressed together and the skin around his eyes crinkled as he danced, no doubt relishing in the attention the noise was bringing him. Ressler frowned and was about to do something, but then the kid and a handful of people around the room joined in with the singing.

 

                          I’m on fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire

 

                                                            I’m on fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire

 

                                                                                                     I’m on fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire

 

                                         I’m on fire

 

After the second repeat, the kid lowered his arm and swiped his finger across the phone.

 

Heedless of the lack of music, several people shouted together: “Fireball!”

 

* ° *

 

“Well, someone has to go.”

 

The agents all looked at each other, no one wanting to meet Cooper’s gaze for fear that it would be mistaken for volunteering. Liz was clearly trying to school her expression; as she was no longer technically an agent, Cooper had no authority to order her to go. But she appeared to be trying to hold in her amusement for the sake of the others.

 

“I did it last time,” Aram spluttered out, seemingly unable to keep quiet. As he realised what he’d done, he gasped and pressed a hand to his mouth, hoping to trap any further outbursts.

 

Samar winced, but did not offer any kind of help.

 

Ressler, on the other hand, couldn’t stop himself from smirking. Really, Aram was only digging his own grave. Reddington had asked Aram to go the last time because he was needed the least in the mission happening at the same time. It was likely the same thing would happen again.

 

Cooper sighed in annoyance. “Alright, since none of you are willing to volunteer, I’ll just have to offer one of you myself.”

 

Ressler grinned wolfishly as he heard Aram gulp in horror.

 

“Agent Ressler,” said Cooper in a voice that was far too cheery for the doom it heralded.

 

Ressler felt his smirk fall from his face like an overripe fruit. “Yes, sir?”

 

“You will assist Reddington.”

 

“Me- Why- surely Aram-“

 

Cooper responded only by raising an eyebrow and glancing in the direction of the agent in question. Ressler looked over to see Aram gasping down air like he had been drowning a moment before rather than facing the possibility of returning to the DMV. Samar patted his back in confused sympathy, all the while shooting a giggling Liz exasperated glares.

 

“Fine,” Ressler groaned, feeling like he was somehow being punished for his amusement at Aram’s predicament the last time this had happened. “What do I need to do?”

 

* ° *

 

“Hey Vanessa,” the kid was chirping happily, and Ressler was quick to realise that the infuriating tune that had stoped as the screen was swiped must have been his ringtone. “Yeah, I spoke to Tim a minute ago, he’s getting it sorted…”

 

And everyone went back to their own business. Sort of. They were still staring.

 

Well, that brought Ressler back on topic.

 

Because if FBI agents are trained in anything, it’s the art of observation.

 

To an ordinary person, the quick glances and short glares wouldn’t have been noticeable. No one ever stares at a phone for such a long period without glancing up for a few moments to rest their eyes, or looking about at the end of a book chapter to process the cliff hanger. But Ressler knew the quick flash of eyes were aimed at him - he could see neck muscles tense as he looked back, and he could easily pick out a flinch as he narrowed his eyes in suspicion.

 

They were still staring, even though by this point so many others had walked into the room since he had. He shot a quick look to the vending machines opposite him, checking his reflection in the shiny surface of the new-looking glass. His hair was immaculate as always, and his suit was entirely in place. There was no reason for them to have been staring.

 

Unless, of course, they were up to something.

 

Doubling his efforts, Ressler carefully scrutinised every occupant of the room, looking for evidence of anything odd.

 

An old lady in the corner was drinking out of a flask, giving it a sniff every time she took a sip. There could be anything in there - especially considering the shudder the woman gave after the loud gulp - but Ressler didn’t think she was anything to worry about.

 

Just as unlikely to actually be any kind of threat was the old man only three or so seats down from where Ressler was standing. He was holding a small knife, possibly Swiss army if the flash of red was anything to go by, and he was whittling away at a small piece of wood, seemingly uncaring that chips of it were scatting all over the floor. But, Ressler supposed, with a layer of grime like that there was no way the state of the linoleum could get any worse. But despite the knife and the wood that really, could be turning into anything, the man didn’t seem at all harmful.

 

The kid sneaking away from his mother in the direction of the small box of grubby magazines probably wasn’t harmful either.

 

There was a young woman in the corner, holding her phone up high and swapping between staring at it with an amused grin on her face and shooting furtive glances around the place. She looked incredibly worried about something when she did that, and Ressler noted her down as a possible suspect.

 

                                                                                                                                                                              I was born

 

                                                                                                       in a flame

 

                                                                                                                          mama said that everyone would know my name

 

Ressler flinched, and turned his gaze to the kid who was once again dancing. This time, a few people sitting around the kid began to clap in tune to the beat.

 

                                              I’m the best

 

                                                                                you’ve ever had

 

                                                                                                                         if you think I’m burning out I never am

 

More people joined in on the singing this time, and Ressler forced himself to grit his teeth to stop from tapping his foot along with the beat.

 

                                                                           I’m on fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire

 

A few people were even standing now, jumping and throwing their hands in the air as they danced.

 

                                                                                                     I’m on fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire

 

Ressler watched with undisguised reproval as the boy who’d been after the magazines earlier began positively leaping across to the kid with the music, a grin splitting his face so wide he looked rather like the Cheshire from Alice In Wonderland - not that Ressler had ever watched that movie, of course.

 

                                                                                                                            I’m on fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire

 

                                                                     I’m on fire

 

As the kid swiped across his phone once again, more than half of the waiting room stood up to chant: “Fireball!”

 

* ° *

 

Ressler could not believe he was doing this. There was no need, no need at all. He couldn’t believe that Cooper had suggested this, really-

 

“And if you do end up getting a seat, do not stand for anything,” Aram said firmly. “Not until you get your number, and then you need to get out of there fast. Because otherwise you’ll be bowled over.”

 

Honestly. Ressler was the experienced field agent, not Aram. If anything, Aram should be watching Ressler for tips, not the other way around.

“Leave me alone,” he hissed, pulling away from Aram’s grip on his elbow and heading for the elevator. “Honestly, you’re making it sound like I’m entering a terrorist cell or something. This is only the DMV.”

 

“It’s never only the DMV,” Aram muttered, and his tone of voice actually gave Ressler pause. The man looked haunted, a glaze covering his eyes as he stared at the ground.

 

Ressler sighed and shook his head in annoyance before heading for the elevator. “I’ll be fine, Aram,” he called over his shoulder. “Honestly, what could go wrong?”

 

As Ressler turned after entering the elevator, he got one final glance of Aram staring at him with wide, worried eyes. Ressler might have had no idea of what had happened to the guy while he did his own trip for Red, but he sure as hell knew one thing.

 

He was an experienced field agent, and a visit to a small government office was nothing that he couldn’t handle.

 

* ° *

Tabitha! Yes, I spoke to Vanessa, no need to worry…”

 

Everyone moved back to their seats without squabbling, without even suggesting that someone was in the wrong place or had moved where they were not supposed to. Even the little boy received no words from his mother regarding his escape. It seemed a little too organised to not be rehearsed, and really-

 

The stares still had not stopped. They weren’t even trying to be subtle!

 

Why, there was a small group whispering amongst themselves a few aisles away, shooting Ressler suspicious looks as they chatted. Their voices were slowly growing louder as they seemed to be arguing, and if Ressler strained his ears…

“Do you really think…?”

 

“Oh no doubt.”

 

“But why?”

 

“Isn’t it obvious?”

 

“Is it?”

 

“Shush, he’s watching!”

 

All three of them looked up and shot Ressler the hardest glare he’d seen outside of work. They couldn’t measure up to Reddington or Samar, but for civilians their glares were pretty impressive.

 

He quickly averted his eyes to avoid further suspicion.

 

But if nothing else, their mutterings only validated Ressler’s own theories. These people were up to something; they wouldn’t have abruptly stopped talking when they’d noticed him otherwise.

 

                                                                                                                                                             I was born

 

It was painfully clear to be honest. Even when they begin to sing and dance, Ressler could spot the glances and the stares and the glares - knowing now that there was a reason for them, he was only seeing them more and more.

 

                                                mama said that everyone would know my name

 

Deciding to use the commotion caused by the music as a cover, Ressler pushed away from the wall and slowly started to move into the melee. The majority of people were up now, leaving iPads and Kindles lying on seats, completely in the open. Ressler briefly wondered if this was part of the plan, but quickly dismissed the thought. If the plan was to steal people’s devices, there were far better places for it.

 

                                                                                     I’m the best

 

                                                                                                            you’ve ever had

 

The cover didn’t seem to help. People watched him warily as he wandered slowly through the crowd, looking every which way for evidence of antisocial behaviour. The constantly moving bodies made it difficult to get a good look, but one thing was painfully clear; the people were still staring at him. They were staring at him like he were holding a knife, or like they were afraid he was going to snap at any moment.

 

It didn’t take Ressler long to think of what was setting him apart. These people were all singing. Well, they tended to trail off when they paused to glare at him, but other than that, he was the only person standing not singing or dancing.

 

                                                                                                                                        I’m on fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire

 

In carefully calculated movements, Ressler began slowly bopping up and down. He hadn’t had much reason to dance in recent years, what with work and, uh, he hadn’t, exactly, wanted to since, well, Audrey, but the situation was certainly calling for it. He hoped he was somewhat convincing.

 

The looks shared between a teenager and his mother told him otherwise.

 

“FIREBALL!”

 

* ° *

 

“I still don’t understand why you need us to do this,” Ressler groused, leaning back into the ridiculously comfortable seat in Reddington’s car. “Why can’t you just go in and make the guy give you what you want?”

 

“Glen is a rather dear friend,” Red answered, giving Ressler his patented you’re-being-incredibly-dense look. “And someone I would prefer not to anger. Something I don’t expect the FBI to comprehend, but I’m sure you’ll at least be able to understand the need to remain discreet?”

 

“The DMV is a government building,” Ressler replied, frowning at Reddington’s jab. “You’re a criminal. Surely-“

 

“So you do understand,” Red said brightly. “Good. I have faith in you, Donald.

 

* ° *

 

“Oh thank God it’s you, Zachary, I’ll be fast, I promise, but you won’t believe…”

 

Huffing in annoyance, Ressler moved to return to his wall as the music stopped. He hadn’t been able to get anything new other than the fact that they were still staring, and this whole thing was beginning to wear on his patience.

 

He had almost reached the wall when he paused. The girl, the one in the other corner with her phone - she had been one of the few who did not get up and dance. She was also possibly the only one who had not so much as passed her gaze over Ressler the entire time he had been there.

 

But nor had she stopped those furtive, scared looks around her space.

 

                                                                                                                                                                      in a flame

 

Slowly, Ressler began to move across the room again. He felt like he had the eyes of hundreds pressed against his back, and he knew that they were all watching him; all but one.

 

                                      would know my name

 

Walking across that room was possibly one of the hardest things Ressler had done in a while. It wasn’t physically exhausting, nor was it mentally draining. But the pressure of all those watching, waiting, wondering what it was he was going to do…

 

                                                                                                                I never am

 

Ressler felt rather accomplished when he was able to sit next to the girl without her noticing. He waited a moment, just to make sure she wouldn’t force him to move or accuse him of being a creep. But it seemed that when she wasn’t acting suspicious she was entirely engrossed in her phone, and so he took the opportunity to subtly lean over and glance at her screen.

 

But when he did-

 

God. He had never thought — he recognised the names in the story, those were children’s characters— not that he would ever watch those shows, but— but for them to be— doing— unspeakable—

 

Well. He’d rather put it out of his mind to be honest.

 

“FIREBALL!”

 

* ° *

 

He noticed the stares immediately. He’d adjusted his tie, checked his jacket, but there was nothing wrong. Looking out at those faces, Ressler knew it wasn’t likely they were looking at anything in particular. They were probably all bored, or tired, or driven mad from the countless minutes trapped in this horrible place.

 

Wait a second. Ressler paused, carefully turning Aram’s warnings over in his mind.

 

Be careful of picking a seat, the man had said. Your seat is going to be your home for a long time. Make sure you pick a good one.

 

To be honest, none of the available seats looked like good ones, and none looked like appropriate places for an FBI agent. Really, he should have a spot facing the door, a spot where he could see what was going on, watch the entire scene…

 

Deciding to forgo the seat entirely, Ressler took up a stance by the wall and rolled his shoulders, preparing to stand for a long while. The spot by the wall was exactly as he had hoped; he could see every other face in the room.

 

They were all still staring at him.

 

It was probably just paranoia. They’d stop looking as soon as something new came along.

 

* ° *

 

“Jonathon, look man, you have to calm Jane down, she’s got Zachary on the warpath-“

 

The girl, alerted by Ressler’s quick jerk away from her, glanced up in horror. Upon realising that he had undoubtedly seen what she was reading, she let out a screech.

 

This, it seemed, was the sign everybody else had been waiting for. This time without music, five or six of them leapt to their feet in unison and stormed towards Ressler.

 

“How dare you,” a woman was snarling, pointing a finger towards Ressler’s chest. “How could you think you have the right to come in here, to torment a young girl-“

 

“We all saw what you did,” a man added, nodding sharply. “That was a complete disrespect of her privacy.”

 

“Not to mention really creepy,” snapped girl about as young as the one Ressler was being accused of creeping on.

 

“Now, hold on,” Ressler said calmly, holding his hands up in an attempt to placate them. “I think there’s been some kind of misunderstanding.”

 

“Oh I don’t think so,” stated the woman with the flask, marching forward and jabbing a taloned finger at his shoulder with much more strength than Ressler would have expected from such an old lady. She jabbed him again for good measure before speaking once more. “You’re FBI!”

 

Ressler about sagged with relief. “Yes-“

 

“Wait, hold on!” a young man interrupted, pushing his way forward. “I thought he was CIA?”

 

“Don’t be ridiculous,” someone responded. “CIA is for overseas stuff - I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure I’m still in America.”

 

“Yes, exactly,” came another voice. “America, the land of the free. Where people should be able to look at their phones without federal agents staring over their shoulders!”

 

“I was looking for terrorists!” Ressler shouted, hoping to pull some respect. He realised afterwards that his words might possibly have started a panic, but at the time he had only been thinking that if they thought that he was after a terrorist they would let him do as he wished and cooperate.

 

Unfortunately, Ressler got a response he had not been expecting.

 

“If you were, you would never have shouted that out!”

 

“Yeah, you’d have given it away, told the terrorists you’re after them!”

 

“He’s only here to spy on us, I told you, it’s that new thing the government is doing to watch our every move!”

 

“Wouldn’t he be undercover then?”


“Well you can hardly say the alphabet agencies are known for their subtlety, have you ever seen a spy movie-“

 

“James Bond always-“

 

“That’s British, you moron-“

 

“QUIET!” Ressler shouted over the noise, attempting to gain some sort of control. “Look. I’m not here on a mission. I’m honestly only here in a personal capacity for my car registration-“ a lie, but they didn’t need to know that “-and I thought you were all acting rather suspicious, so I thought I had better-“

 

“We were only suspicious of you because you’re an agent!”

 

“Yeah, why would an agent be here?”

 

“Everyone needs to come to the DMV,” Ressler said helplessly. To his surprise, it seemed to work. Or at least, none of them could come up with a response. “Okay,” he continued. “I’m sorry for looking over this girl’s-“ he looked to the girl in question, who was still pressed up against the side of her seat. “-Your shoulder. I’m sorry, I should not have done that. But I promise I’m not here because the FBI wants to spy on you.”

 

“Your promises mean nothing,” muttered a man to Ressler’s left, and despite the instinct to bristle at the insult he did his best to ignore it.

 

“So now I’ve apologised, and we’re only stuck here in this room until we get what we came for; so let’s just wait until our numbers are called, and then we’ll never have to see each other again.”

 

The inhabitants of the waiting room seemed unmoved by Ressler’s argument, but they did slowly trickle back to their seats. The last to leave was the old lady, who held two fingers to her eyes before pointing them at him in that universal gesture for I’ll be watching you.

 

Yeah, like they all hadn’t been already.

 

With a final sigh, Ressler fell back into the seat behind him, hardly noticing as the young girl from before scurried away to a new seat. It didn’t really matter anyway - as he said, he’d never see these people again after this. Hopefully.

 

                                                                                                            I was born

 

No.

 

                        in a flame

 

No. This wasn’t-

 

                                                mama said that everyone would know my name

 

Ressler clenched his fist, feeling his eye twitch. He couldn’t deal with this, not after everything that had happened.

 

They were all up and dancing of course, having only sat for a moment before the music started again. And yes, by now they were all dancing - even the ones that had only come in within the past few minutes. Everyone seemed to have fallen under the spell of the repeating ringtone. And for that matter, why was the kid just holding it up, letting it play through every time? Surely he could answer it straight away and save them the noise?

 

                                                you’ve ever had

 

But of course, everyone - that is, everyone but Ressler - was enjoying the dance.

 

            if you think I’m burning out I never am

 

He was now pushing the muscles in his hands so hard he could feel the strain in his knuckles, and he wouldn’t be surprised if his nails were drawing blood from his palm. Ressler’s jaw tightened, and his teeth clacked together as the bouncy tune drummed and drummed through his mind, sending his brain racketing against his skull in that infernal beat.

 

I’m on fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire

 

Ressler flinched, and had to physically force himself to remain still.

 

                       I’m on f i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i r e

 

It was like he was hanging by a thread, dangling off a precipice that was a thousand feet high, and he knew, he knew the fall would be deadly, but that thread was about to snap and really, all it was going to take—

 

I'm on fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire

 

The back of Ressler’s knees slammed against the chair as he stood, but he didn’t pause for a moment. Within half a moment he had crossed the waiting room, wrenched the phone from the kid’s hand and pressed down on the button on its top right hand corner.

 

Silence. Blessed, sweet silence.

 

But only for a second.

 

“Dude, what the hell?” asked the kid, snatching his phone back angrily. “I needed to take that call-“

 

“You’ve been taking more calls than the rest of the city takes in a week,” Ressler barked back. “If you need them, then fine, but perhaps consider the rest of us and silence the bloody thing!

 

The kid didn’t respond - he was too busy tapping away at the device. Ressler moved forward, intent on grabbing it back again, but the kid’s gaze snapped up before he could. They glared at each other, eyes locked in cool animosity, and the entire room held its breath.

 

The kid moved first. Without breaking his gaze, he shifted the tip of a finger over the screen on his phone before holding his chosen weapon high for Ressler to see.

 

Ressler was unwilling to be the first to look away, but he needed to see what the kid had done. So reluctantly, he shifted his gaze to the bright screen. It took a moment for him to make heads or tails of what was shown - a black square, a burst of flame, a few lines of text - but in a moment Ressler was able to identify what the screen displayed. And there was one word that stood out amongst the rest, a shining tribute to exactly how far Ressler had paddled up shit creek.

 

Fireball.

 

“Don’t you dare,” he growled through gritted teeth, turning his glare back to the offender’s face.

 

The kid smirked, and moved his finger.

 

Ressler lunged.

 

What this young man could not have known was that with one simple tap on a screen, he had started such a pandemonium that the DMV had not seen since the Great Christmas Tree Incident of ’79. From the moment the music started and the FBI agent launched his attack on the unsuspecting college student, nearly every being in the room stood from their chair and immediately swarmed the scene.

 

                       Mr worldwide to infinity

 

The hoard reached the two grappling men in time to pull the agent off the civilian before serious damage was done, but, as oft happens when many people move quickly together and come to a sudden stop, there were a few people who were pushed, shoved or trampled upon in the confusion.

 

                                                            like the roof on fire

 

Shouts filled the air and the crowd heaved, bodies flailing and falling and floundering. Friend fell upon friend and there were no longer any sides - the two original instigators became separated and were stuck in the middle of the mess.

 

                       I’m a fireball

 

Revenge was exacted for the initial shoves, and then those that were caught in the crossfire set upon those that had injured them. Those who tried to escape the carnage were quickly drawn in regardless, and soon even the little old lady was standing on a chair, swinging her handbag and cackling with glee.

 

                                                                        and she turned around and said

 

The lady was soon dislodged and she was pushed into the writhing sea of bodies as a small child took her throne, grinning and waving a rolled up magazine like a sword. Only a few were left on the outside, those who had enough sense to stay out of the way and were pressed against the backs of their chairs.

 

 

fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire                    

 

The words were spiralling through people’s minds, seeming to push them to do things they might not have otherwise. The upbeat tune of the music had everyone moving quickly.

 

                       Sticks and stones may break my bones

 

Deep in the heart of the battle, Ressler found himself fending off the woman who had accused him of lying only minutes before, though it seemed that so much more time had passed since then. He pushed the woman from him and tried to scramble away, hoping to get to the edge of the room and hopefully to one of the offices where he could just do whatever it was Red had wanted and leave.

 

But the woman was persistent, and she grabbed Ressler’s ankle, grounding him. Then she began to try and pull him back.

 

“How could the FBI think it’s alright to take people’s stuff?” she gasped, and she probably would have sounded fierce if she weren’t so out of breath. “You’re supposed to be here for the people! You’re supposed to be here for us!

 

Unable to find fault in her words, Ressler paused. He knew she had the wrong idea, that he truly hadn’t been here to spy or to cause trouble; but that’s exactly what he’d done, wasn’t it?

 

                       fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire

 

Ressler shook the thought from his mind and managed to spin on the floor, narrowly avoiding a steel-toed boot as man was knocked over beside him. He grasped at the woman’s sleeve and tried to pull her hand from his ankle, but her grip was strong. They grappled for a moment before Ressler managed to get free, and with one final heave he pulled himself off the floor and stood - only to be knocked down again as the possibly drunk little old lady bowled him over in a rugby tackle.

 

“For freedom!” She cackled, bringing her handbag down against Ressler’s skull. Thankfully there didn’t seem to be much in there, but that didn’t stop it from making his head throb, and combined with the music it pushed Ressler to do something he normally would never consider.

 

                                                            fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire

 

With a snarl, he shoved the lady off him and sat up, hoping to gain the upper hand. But she was rather agile considering and rolled into the fall, using the chair next to her to pull herself up. She held her bag high in the air, her expression twisted into one of pure outrage as she glared down at Ressler, who was propped up on his elbows, staring at her in disbelief.

 

“The FBI needs to be taught some respect,” she growled.

 

Time seemed to slow as the handbag made its decent. Ressler watched it fall, wondering if this was it. The scene almost had a sense of finality to it; all the sounds the room seemed to quiet; the clattering and shouting of the ongoing fight, the whoosh of the automatic doors as another poor soul entered the horrible place, and even the bouncy notes of the song faded until all Ressler was aware of was the whoosh of the bag coming at his face. Ressler felt oddly frozen, unable to dodge the oncoming force of cream leather and metal buckles. In all honesty, it really was a nice bag. If his nose was going to be broken by something, at least he was getting quality.

 

But when it struck, it didn’t hit his face. The bag crashed into the linoleum an inch from his cheek, and Ressler looked back up to the old lady in surprise. Gone was the wrathful expression, replaced with one of shock.

 

In fact, as Ressler looked around he realised that almost everyone in the room was frozen. They were all staring up at something in the doorway, something Ressler couldn’t see due to his position on the ground.

 

Thinking the whole thing looked ridiculously like the end of a brawl in a bad action movie, he quickly staggered to his feet to get a glimpse of what had captured everyone else’s attention.

 

And then he too froze in horror.

 

“Honestly, Donald,” said Reddington, shaking his head in disappointment. “I had expected so much more from you.”

 

The criminal made quite the imposing figure standing there in his hat and his coat, his eyebrow raised and a look of clear condescension adorning his face. It was no wonder everyone had stopped at his entrance.

 

Ressler cleared his throat and quickly straightened his impossibly ruffled jacket before pointing one finger at Red and speaking harshly. “We will never speak of this again.”

 

Red smirked, the spark in his eyes promising that oh yes, this would be spoken of. This scene was going to be something that Ressler would no doubt regret for the rest of his acquaintance with the criminal mastermind. No doubt the rest of the team would know before he even made it back to the Post Office.

 

But to be honest, it couldn’t be much worse than what he’d already suffered that day.

 

With a jerk of his head, Red gestured for Ressler to leave and the speed at which he moved to follow Red’s request would later be a secondary source of embarrassment. But at the time, all he cared about was getting away from those glares and the oppressive grey of the waiting room walls. It was like a whole other world in there.

 

Dear Lord, Aram had been right about everything.

 

And as he scurried out the door and the final line of the song passed his ears, Ressler came to one last conclusion: the suit had definitely, definitely been a bad idea.

 

I’m a

                       fireball.