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Betrayal

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He wasn't surprised. Not by a long shot.

No, he knew it would happen at some point. Every time she turned to look at him, every smile directed towards him, a gentle touch here and there. He carries each moment within his heart, feeling it grow heavy with dread as he waits for the other shoe to drop. Reality would eventually catch up and remind him that he is no longer worthy of such nice things.

Now, the shoe had dropped. The evidence in his hands certainly confirmed it. Hope was a dangerous thing for a man such as himself, never knowing if the next person you meet is a friend or one who would shoot you in the back or if the next day would be your last. Reality has him in her grasp and the truth is revealed. After everything that had happened, how dare he even hope to be allowed in her presence much less be witness to her laughing at his ridiculous story over bowls of ramen in an obscure little shop.

“Raymond, are you alright?”

He grips the photograph a little tighter, wrinkling the edge, as he lets out a resigned sigh. He shakes his head to clear his thoughts.

“No need to worry about me, Dembe. I expected this, remember?”

“That does not always mean you're unaffected.”

He blinks slowly at the face of Dembe’s remark and unwavering stare. He stands from his seat behind the desk and walks to the coat rack near the door, placing a gray fedora on his head.

“Bring the car around, Dembe. I'd like to go the Post-Office before the workday ends.”

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“Good work on catching Markovnikov. Go home, paperwork can wait until the morning.”

“Thank you, sir. I definitely need some shut-eye after a long three days.” Ressler scratches the back of his head.

“Why don’t we celebrate? We can go to the bar that Samar and I found. It’s just a block away from here.” Aram suggested as he stands to pack up his things.

Samar nods in agreement, “Quality alcohol, good music, company? What else would you want at the end of a case?” She smirks.

“That actually sounds pretty nice. How ‘bout you, Liz? You gonna join?”

Liz smiles, “Sure, I’m game.”

The grating of the elevator interrupts the conversation and draws eyes as the lift stops. It opens to reveal the figures within.

“Reddington? What brings you here?”

“Oh, the usual, Harold.” He says casually as he pointedly avoided looking at Elizabeth, his eyes scanning the team. “Lies and deceit.”

Ressler rolls his eyes. “Come on, Reddington. We just finished a case. Cut it out and get straight to the point.”

“You’re free to leave at any point, Donald. I only need to speak with Agent Keen.” He finally brings himself to look at the subject of his turmoil. “That’s if you don’t have an urgent meeting with your sister to plan how you would bring about my unfortunate demise.” He stares at Elizabeth, cataloging whatever reaction he could glean from her at his sudden accusation.

Ressler looks back and forth between the two of them, already seeing the impending discourse. Samar and Cooper each raise an eyebrow. Aram’s eyes widen.

Elizabeth stands frozen. Her mind goes through several conceivable reactions. However, she chooses to proceed with caution. “What do you mean, Red?”

Red's eyes narrow. “You know exactly what I mean. Do you take me for a fool, Elizabeth?” Elizabeth opens her mouth, but he cuts off her reply with a bitter laugh and threw the series of photographs that broke his heart. “Of course, you did. All the lunches and dinners, walks in the park, allowing me back into your life. Simply done to twist the daggers you’ve already plunged into my back,” Elizabeth clenches her jaw, tears pooling in her eyes.

“Shut up, Red.” Her demand’s heat slightly lessened by a minuscule crack in her voice. Red was not to be deterred so easily.

His eyes became stormy and voice became cold. “Well done, Elizabeth. You were a marvelous actress. Forgive me for not applauding, but I’m afraid I’m still caught up by the performance.”

She breaks. “It seems to me that you’ve already got everything figured out, Red. Like you always do,” Her voice raised. “So why the hell am I still alive?”

“Because I love you, dammit.” He breaks too. “A man can only take so much.”

He takes a peek at her wide-eyes as his words register in his own mind. His eyes widen. Those three words were never meant to be spoken. He takes a deep breath and mutters, “Before you ask, no. I’m not your father and I swear to you that I’m telling the truth.”

The fight that he brought with him leaves and his shoulders sag. He swallows. “Considering your past and recent actions, I believe it would be best if I stay away for a while.” Red turns to Cooper. “Don’t look so worried, Harold. Dembe would act as an intermediary for information on the Blacklist. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” He begins to walk back to the elevator but is stopped by a single clear voice.

“You’re such an ass,” Elizabeth walks up to him with determination and eyes ablaze, “You don’t get to just throw a tantrum about my behavior-”

“Pot calling the kettle?” Red’s eyes narrowed.

“-and tell me you love me, only to run out. For a criminal mastermind, you’re pretty stupid sometimes, Red.” She continues.

“Elizabeth, it’s a bad idea to antagonize a man who-” He gets cut off by gentle hands cupping his face and lips on his. His mind also promptly shuts off.

When he comes to, he faces her brown eyes in amazement.

“I love you, too. And if you weren’t being such an asshole, I could have explained to you that I know you’re not my father, thank god for that, and I’m only pretending to work with that woman to find out what other information she has in her possession. You can ask Ressler.” She tips up his jaw to close his open mouth, however, there was nothing to be done with his awestruck gaze.

Liz turns back to the rest of the team and apologizes, “Sorry, guys. I’m not gonna go out for drinks after all. It seems like Red and I need a long-overdue conversation.” She takes hold of his hand and drags him away.

Applause and whistles follow them to the elevator.