I don't want those fucking people anywhere near her.""She remembers the fire. She remembers I was there."The other man's expression was stony. But all she did was press a curled hand more tightly against her cheek, burrowing closer into Red's chest."I know you're the one raising her, Sam," Red murmured as he gazed tenderly down at the girl. The burning sensation that the amber liquid caused in his mouth was soothing. The anxious, frightened look she had tossed over her shoulder at him while the nurse had been leading her away, blue eyes tear-bright, had nearly made him call a halt to the whole damn thing. Red wasn't her father, nor had she ever even considered him as such. After all she'd been through in her earlier years, losing him was almost unthinkable. The stallion's ears flicked back and Red could swear that he picked up his hooves even more. Maybe the stud was in a mood and did need to run, but Red was certain that Elizabeth needed to let loose just as much. Liz dismounted gracefully and lead Conny to the babbling creek so he could drink. "It would be wrong of me to allow you to roam around the world without first completing your education and growing--" He snapped his mouth shut--this was always the wrong tack to take with her and he knew better--but it was too late. He watched as the angry tears trailed down her cheeks, and he gentled his tone. He may beat this illness yet." They were silent for a while, looking out across the pond. "Sam has...mentioned him to me, Lizzy."Almost immediately he sensed a change on the other end of line. That Derek isn't motivated in school or in work and it gets him into trouble. Lizzy, I crawled around in the straw wearing a fifteen hundred dollar suit! "Not to mention the fact that I scuffed my very expensive French shoes on the ladder...."She had laughed, flushing in both embarrassment and amusement. And your hair looked like a bird's nest with all that straw tangled in the strands." Then his laughing eyes had roved affectionately over her. You still have smudges," his thumb had briefly rubbed at her cheek, removing a spot of dirt, "and stuff in your hair," his fingers had pulled a leaf and some dandelion fluff from her ponytail. " she had asked, widening her eyes in feigned innocence. Not a little girl anymore, but as Red had so bluntly pointed out, not yet a woman either. It's because of your relationship with her that you can help her in ways that I can't."Red gazed at his oldest friend, momentarily speechless. And on weekdays, she purposefully leaves the back gate open...she's encouraging Bronn to follow her to school. And Sam had just stood there, guffawing, while the stud had not only tried to take Red's hand off with his teeth, but had also tried to lop off his head with his gigantic one. Seeing her peaceful, sleeping face slightly eased something tight inside of him. "But to keep her safe, it needs to be done."Masha mumbled something in her sleep and both men glanced down at her apprehensively, waiting to see if she would begin to wail. Uncorking it, he poured some in a glass and downed it. Waiting in that God-forsaken, horribly sterile room while the doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists had worked with young Masha had been interminable. My timeline loosely follows the show's, though I've aged them by a couple years. Oh, he came to Nebraska when he could, called when he could. But Lizzy didn't depend on him the same way she relied on Sam. "He'll even take advantage of Sam if he isn't paying attention, Red."He righted himself, tightening the reins warningly. The tightness around her eyes and mouth betrayed her inner thoughts. Bronn had caught up to them, gait as spry as if he'd just left the house. Maybe he had more wolf in his bloodline than Red had thought. That you travel all the time for work.""I do travel quite a bit, yes." More often than not, he was almost always constantly on the move. And he selfishly wouldn't dare let himself think about what would become of their relationship when she was an adult and would start searching for answers herself. " "No, but you are not yet a woman," he replied firmly, finishing his original thought with different words. He wouldn't insult her intelligence by lying to her. That he's good-looking and knows how to be charming when he wants to be. That you've been hanging around him and his friends a lot lately. "You were so upset I was leaving that you threw one of the most spectacular temper tantrums I have ever seen in my life! "And then before I could do or say anything you flew out of the house like a bat out of Hell and hid up in the loft.""I didn't! And you wouldn't come down so I had to climb up there after you. But you were too, with your scabby knees and dirt smudged all over your face. She takes that dog everywhere with her now.""She did that before."Sam slowly shook his head. She'll be going to the fucking gas station for a quart of milk and she'll bring him along 'so he can stretch his legs.' But I know better.This is an AU story where Raymond Reddington does not leave Masha's life while she is young. He made sure his hold on her was secure before he leaned his head back. But he had been far more concerned about Masha's mind and the soul-wound she carried deep within her heart. Certainly she was too young to understand it now, but, as he had told Sam, she would recall it as she became older. "He says you love her.""I do love her.""More than me? "No, baby," Red murmured, gently wrapping an arm around her. She didn't like it, but she understood how important sharing was. Then she suddenly brightened as a new idea came to mind. "Red closed his own eyes, his heart twisting painfully in his chest. He knew Sam--well-versed in literature as he was--had much to do with her increasing comprehension skills. He certainly could not come to Nebraska at regular intervals, always leaving and returning on the same days every month, or every few months. She studied him unabashedly, from his brown hair, which he now cut short to his scalp, to the hard, familiar lines of his face, to his green eyes that still held that trace of savagery. Curiosity spurred him on to keep learning and trying new things so he was a man of many talents and hobbies. The V came further down her chest than her other shirts, and it clung to her figure--or lack thereof--like a second skin. Liz angrily kicked off her shorts and tugged on her new black denims. It was a vintage piece but the brown leather had been polished until it shone, the huge, genuine silver buckle gleamed in the lamplight, and the rearing horse that had been etched into it looked so real she could almost hear it neigh. Red had given it to her a couple years ago for her birthday. Every shudder her body made against his own made his heart constrict for her. The past can only define who you are if you allow it." Tenderly he stroked a lock of hair behind her ear. On any other day Red would have taken the time to really soak up the beauty around him, to relish the feeling of being astride this powerful animal that could take him across the fields in mere minutes at the slightest touch of heel and rein. Lizzy waited at the heart of his destination, unknowing that he was here in Nebraska specifically to make her talk. He tapped his heels against the stud and they broke into an easy lope.
You've read the same research I have."Sam scoffed, but his expression was not quite as closed as it had been a moment ago. It's for her protection." From those who wish her harm.... She took care of Sam as much as he took care of her. As they came closer to the forest, Red did allow Conny to move ahead of the stallion, and their pace slowed to a lope as they entered the grove. Red rolled his eyes--but bit his tongue before the sarcastic remark could escape. "It takes seven years to make a habit and seven years to break one. Then, "I was hoping you'd at least be happy for me, Red.""Happy that you're going out with a guy of questionable character? Besides Sam."He closed his eyes, feeling like his heart was being wrenched around in his chest. If she knew everything about him..he really was..the terrible things he had done in the past..role he had played in the earliest years of her life...didn't think she could forgive him. But Red couldn't change how he felt about her going out with that boy, and he wouldn't lie to her to make her feel better. Bronn almost took you out last time you tried to let yourself in through the back."He smiled, some of the tightness in his chest easing. But she might as well have with how quickly her confused and hurt feelings deterred her mouth from saying the phrase "I'll miss you.""I'll miss you" was what they always said to one another as Red was leaving Nebraska to return to work, or right before they ended their conversations over the phone.
She wiped the beads of sweat from her brow and the tears from her cheeks, trying to scrub away the bad, anxious feelings as she did so. But he'd always been so worried about her when she confided in him. The latch had given way but she had cut her finger in the process. Instead she and Sam had been holed up inside the house, hiding from the howling snowstorm. She flew past the Christmas tree--taking note of the brightly wrapped gifts and one rather large red box with...holes? " Red teased, kneeling down so he could be on eye level with her. "The tree was definitely an imaginative display of a ten-year-old's charming taste in decor. Right before he let her go, he paused, sharp eyes noticing her scabbing finger. "It doesn't hurt anymore."He arched a brow at her expectantly. She had been peppering Sam with questions about Red...well, maybe pestering Sam about Red was a more accurate description of her behavior....wondering where he was, why he didn't come around as much, had she done something wrong? Red and Liz both glanced up suddenly at the staircase as the sound of shower water rushing through the pipes echoed throughout the house. She snorted self-deprecatingly, an adult response he wasn't expecting. Lizzy, look at me."Rubbing the puppy's ears, she met his eyes. There was such intelligence in those eyes and a protective vigilance in his stance while he was with Liz.
She pressed herself back against the doorjamb of her room--but it was too late. Then she slowly turned the doorknob, opening the door just a crack. Sometimes she woke up sweating, as if she had been running really fast. Sometimes when she woke she thought she could smell smoke. Liz rubbed her running nose vigorously, hoping to oust that acrid, phantasmal smell. She could smell coffee brewing in the kitchen as she raced down the stairs. "Sam even let me go up on the ladder this year and hang the ornaments at the very top! "Why don't you go get a bandaid and I'll meet you on the sofa.""Okay."Ten minutes later, she was curled companionably against Red on the couch, finger freshly bandaged, a mug of hot chocolate warming her hands. He was gazing at the Christmas tree, but his eyes had a faraway look in them. A couple years ago, she had been told why Red was suddenly away so much more often than he used to be. She hoped he realized that she and Sam could be his family. Red clenched his jaw shut, forcibly reining in his temper. Isn't thinking clearly," he finished with a quiet snarl. Conny was a spirited yet sweet little gelding--nothing at all like the demon he now sat astride. Red honestly couldn't be more pleased with that dog of hers.
It is during her training when Elizabeth learns the man from her childhood, the man she called "Red," is Raymond Reddington, the "Concierge of Crime." Red comes out of hiding to work as an asset for the FBI--but, like in the show, this is to ultimately protect her from those who wish to hunt her down. Will they be able to reestablish the bond they had made while she had been growing up? Then suddenly she cried out in pain as someone heavy tripped over her. Then she saw his familiar green eyes come into her line of sight. " she whimpered in relief, tears streaming down her cheeks. He had glanced down at the stuffed bunny he'd been holding. The nurse had stopped, patting Masha's hand soothingly as Red walked up to them both. He combed his fingers through her hair, tucking it behind her ears. He tapped a finger under chin and her eyes flickered up to his again. She had a feeling it had something to do with his mysterious past..the tragic accident his family had died from. Maybe."Red could hear crackling on the other end of the line. He had a sense of humor, ranging from dark to light, snarky to witty. Brushing her hair, she attempted to braid it back..stopped. She'd leave it down to frame her face and shoulders. If she did that, then maybe Red would see that she wasn't such a young kid after all. Red had forgotten just how noisy a summer night in the country could be. The night breeze moved gently through the valley, rustling the leaves of all the trees of the bordering forest and making the long grasses of the fields slip and slide sensually against one another. Suddenly Bronn lifted his head from the floor, ears pricked forward. His eyes held the boy's until beads of sweat appeared on the teenager's brow. She'd already taken that first step off the precipice. He had to show her the way out of that self-destructive behavior while she was still young enough...before the habit was set. Then she blinked those big eyes of hers and the vision was gone. He became aware of the insects chirring softly in the fields beyond, of the creek singing. "I'll see you in the morning, Red.""Goodnight, Lizzy." "Thanks for coming, Red," Sam said as soon as he opened the door, quickly stepping aside to let the other man inside the house. "Sam shrugged, averting his gaze to give his friend privacy while he changed. But oh how they roiled just within reach, straining against the inner barriers of his mind. Red guided the stud carefully through the grove of trees, following the unmarked path to Terabithia he now knew just as well as Lizzy did.
Will they be able to rebuild their trust in one another? Embers rained down in a torrent of fire from the smoldering wooden beams above them and the someone--a man--screamed in agony. "I'm here, Masha," he soothed, stroking her long hair, wiping her tears and nose with a soft cloth. Completely ignoring the nurse, he had knelt down before the girl. Since I can't go in, here's someone to take with you." He had placed the stuffed bunny in her arms. Reddington, she shouldn't--"The scathing look he'd shot up at the nurse had made her close her mouth with an audible snap."You take Bunny with you, baby," he'd told Masha, casting one last warning glare at the nurse before he returned his attention to the girl. Guiltily unable to look at the tears glittering in her eyes, he'd closed his own and had leaned forward to kiss her on the forehead. But I'll be back.""I wish you wouldn't always go away all the time. "But he lives here," he replied softly, sensitive of her feelings. Even though she had promised Sam all those years ago that she would never bring up Red's family with him, the question was right there, hesitating just on the tip of her tongue. He could be gentle and kind, but he also had a temper that could burn slowly or rage like a wildfire. Maybe he would begin to see that she was older..more... This Chapter takes place right after the events in Chapter 8: Sweet Sixteen. Though it certainly wasn't how a city such as New York was cacophonous, with all those damn cars whizzing around, vendors yelling, dogs barking, cats shrieking, birds calling, people talking, laughing, walking, jogging, running, their shoes clicking and slapping on the pavement...a constant tumultuous racket that at times Red could certainly appreciate and revel in. The creek gurgled and babbled, obliviously happy as it flowed through the land. The wooden pieces of the various-sized wind chimes hanging around the patio clucked hollowly against one another, making rather lovely music that reminded him of a tribal ceremony he had witnessed in Africa long ago. His sharp eyes were trained on the dirt road that wove its way from the front of the house, winding around the lake and fading from sight. Red followed his intent gaze to the road where a pair of lights could be seen flashing in the distance, bobbing closer and closer. " he demanded, reaching around for the knife that hung at his belt. All at once, Derek suddenly cleared his throat and looked away to Elizabeth. Once her tears had subsided and he sensed she was aware of herself and him again, he pulled back slightly to look down at her. "I know you were just here a couple months ago and that you prefer to stagger your visits more....""You know why I have to do that, Sam," Red replied, setting down his suitcase to embrace his friend. She has completely shut me out." His expression was pained. ""I'm positive," Sam assured him, following Red down the hall to the guest room. "And I know I have you to thank for it.""Don't give me so much credit, Sam. He had seen that it had wounded Sam deeply to admit to him that he, Raymond Reddington, may be able to do more for Lizzy due to the unique bond they shared.