Tears in the Spaghetti

He had kicked himself for bringing it up. They had been married just under a year and that's what married couples did, didn't they? They had kids. They had a family. That had seemed like a logical next step.

Not that he would know. Sometimes he had to remind himself that if he would just do his job right, he wouldn't actually be in love with this woman and it wouldn't twist his own heart up quite so badly that she, apparently, went silent at the thought of having a child with him. That she didn't want one with him. Just like that he had managed to stick his foot into his mouth.

Up to the kneecap, apparently.

Liz had been quiet since he brought it up three days before. They had moved around each other like ghosts and Tom had almost been afraid to open his mouth about it in case it sunk him any deeper than it already did. He should have thought about Liz's own past and how it would affect her wanting to have kids. It was probably better anyway. What would happen to a kid if Berlin recalled him? With each passing day of silence he wondered if he'd simply been forgotten. If Berlin had found another path to Reddington, what would he need with Tom Keen and the woman he'd been tasked to get close to? Constant contact with a handler and then abrupt, lingering silence led him to think that it might be the case. He was strangely okay with that, though. At least he would be if he hadn't screwed everything up with a single, thoughtless question.

Tom turned the keys in the front door, pushing it open and banishing the thoughts of Berlin and Reddington. He was met with a strange smell coming from the kitchen and the sound of pots banging around. "Babe?" he called out, a little worried. Liz didn't cook. He'd had a meeting that ran late at the school, so he had assumed they would go out. Maybe he could even get her talking, even if it wasn't about kids and the like. Maybe they could just get a dog instead. Liz loved dogs.

"In the kitchen," his wife called back and as Tom moved closer he didn't like the sort of burned smell wafting from the room. Forget spies and master criminals, they were both going to meet their end in a house fire.

"You... ah... cooking dinner?"

Liz sighed heavily and opened the oven. Smoke poured out and she cursed, grabbing at the bread she'd likely forgotten. "Trying," she admitted.

"You didn't have to cook, babe. We can go out," he started to offer, but the frustrated huff that she gave made his mouth snap shut. She was glaring at the bread like she might commit murder.

"I wanted to. You cook for me all the time."

Tom felt a smile creep to his lips and he waited until she had set the hot pan with the charred bread down before wrapping his arms around her from behind, burying his nose in her hair. "I cook for you because I love you."

She leaned back into him. "I love you too. I think the spaghetti lived. Seriously, it's impossible to screw up noodles, right? Boil them, brown the meat, let the sauce soak, and mix it all together. Not rocket science."

Her husband bit his lip. "Sure," he managed and she elbowed him in the ribs. Hard.

"Just go set the table, jerk," she groused as he doubled over, making a scene of gasping for breath. She rolled her eyes and he grinned, straightening to do as she said. At least she was speaking to him again. Maybe he hadn't screwed up as much as he thought.

He had the plates out and everything set up about the time that she brought the food in. "How were the kids today?"

Tom snorted. "Monsters. There was a substitute that decided that handing out large quantities of sugar was a good life choice. They were like ten year old fireworks someone released indoors."

"But that wasn't your class, right?" Liz asked as she handed him the wine glasses.

He popped the cork on a new bottle and poured. "Oh, it got to my class, don't worry," he laughed.

"That sounds terrifying," his wife teased and Tom shot her a pointed look.

"When you finish school and start profiling bad guys, remember that a classroom of sugar hyper fourth grader is scarier than anything else in the world."

Liz shook her head and dished spaghetti onto his plate. "Sometimes I envy your naivety on how crappy our world really is."

Tom gave a small smile, hiding the look behind his own wine glass as Liz sat down across from him. He shoveled the first forkful of cold spaghetti into his mouth and tried not to gag. He was a trained liar. He could make his wife believe he loved her cooking. Really he could.

"I know I've been kind of distant for a few days. How's the spaghetti?"

He tried for a smile and kept chewing through rubbery, cold noodles.

Liz cringed. Yep. He was getting rusty. Or the spaghetti was beyond even his acting skills. He couldn't be sure. "Well, I've been thinking a lot about what you said."

"Babe, we don't have to," Tom put in quickly. He reached across the table and took hold of her hand. "I know it's a delicate subject for you, and I just want you to know that it's up to you. No pressure."

She squeezed his fingers and shoveled a huge bite of food into her mouth. Her expression changed slowly and Tom felt a little like he was on a runaway train. He had no control. All he could do was sit and watch the crash. It was going to land them in a heap at the end, with their lives strewn all over the place.

Liz chewed, blue eyes growing worried, and by the time she swallowed she had tears gathering. "Oh babe," he breathed and stood, circling the table to stand behind her. She reached up and took his hand, pressing a kiss to it as he leaned over to kiss the top of her head.

"I can't even make spaghetti," she sniffed and that pulled a low chuckle from him.

"Your spaghetti is fine, Lizzy."

She glared up at him. "You're a horrible liar, you know that?"

"So you keep telling me."

She reached up and wiped irritably at the tears, turning to face him. "It's not that I don't want to have a baby with you, Tom."

"Just not now. I get that. It's-"

"Would you shut up?" she huffed, but she was smiling a little at least. She stood and he felt like he might sink into her eyes. "Let me finish. I want to have a family with you. I love you. I just... I think I want to adopt. There are so many kids without a home, it seems kind of selfish to-"

She couldn't say any more because Tom had gathered her up in his arms, pressing a kiss to her lips. He hadn't planned it - hell, he hardly had to these days - and her laugh lit his crazy little world up as he picked her feet up off the floor and spun get around. They were both laughing by the time he set her back down and she bit her lip. "Well?"

"I think that's an amazing idea."



He told himself that it was just the next step. He assured himself that if - when - they came back around, he could do his job. Tom Keen was an excellent liar, but as he found himself grinning like an idiot, and even he couldn't lie to himself about the growing part of him that hoped that Berlin would forget about him and find another way to Reddington that didn't include the woman that he had had fallen for.

Notes: I know that I'm on the smallest ship of the fandom, but there are way too many hints in the show for me to believe that Tom didn't fall for Liz somewhere along the way. I love the idea of him unexpectedly finding that he liked the quiet life with her and maybe, just maybe, that's why he asked her to go to Lincoln and get away from it all.