Her day had been set. It would start with kissing her daughter goodbye and sending her to a playdate as Liz used one of her rare days off to turn the apartment into a Christmas wonderland. She had plans. Lights and tinsel and stockings, elves sitting on a new surface every morning and dozens of meticulously wrapped Christmas presents under a tree that reached to the ceiling that made Agnes squirm in anticipation to open them. Just like Liz had as a little girl. She couldn't remember Christmas with her mother - there was a good chance that they didn't celebrate it in any way that was at all traditional - and she only had a fractured memory of picking out a tree with her father one year, but Sam had bent over backwards to make it special, and this year, after everything, Liz wanted Agnes to remember this as one of her favourites. She had been digging through Christmas ornaments to find one of the few that had lasted through all the years and all the chaos, her fingers latching onto the little gingerbread man that Tom had pieced together along with his third graders a couple of lifetimes ago, when her phone had rung.
The senator's life is in danger.
Six words had brought her Christmas plans to a crashing halt. She should have been wrapping presents, not listening to Reddington dance around the fact that didn't actually care about Senator Calloway himself, it was the team hired to kidnap him that he was after. After a heated conversation he had admitted that they had taken some people of his overseas and he needed them back. Two birds, one stone, Liz's Christmas plans be damned.
But it wasn't like they could just turn down the case with the New York senator's life on the line.
At least he had had time to get his decorations up. Liz let out a low whistle as she looked up at the beautifully decorated home with its holly covered gates and snow lined driveway, and she tried to push down at the agitation. In and out. All they had to do was get Calloway to a safe location. If Red wanted the kidnappers, he'd have to get them himself. That wasn't and couldn't be their goal. This needed to be quick.
"She won't even remember it, Keen," Ressler offered as they worked their way up the icy driveway.
"That's the point, I want her to remember it, and not because something insane happened." After everything they had been through, they all deserved a good Christmas.
She watched Ressler open his mouth, but it snapped shut again as Park approached. "We have a problem."
"Calloway doesn't want us here."
Ressler frowned. "And he couldn't say that before we flew out here?"
"It doesn't really matter," Liz huffed. "He's in danger, if he wants to admit it or not."
"Apparently he hired his own people," Park explained. "Private firm. Some kind of connection with the owners of the company or something."
That sounded suspiciously familiar. Liz signalled for them to wait a moment as she pulled her cell out and hit the fist number on her speed dial. The phone rang once. Twice. Three times. She thought it was going to roll to voicemail before a familiar - albeit distracted - voice answered. "Hey, babe. Still working. I'm going to have to call you back."
"You wouldn't happen to be working a special job as a favour a senator called into Scottie, would you?" Liz asked, ignoring Ressler's raised eyebrow to the side.
Tom paused on the other end of the line and she could practically hear him assessing the situation. "Get a tip from the usual source?"
"He's in danger, Tom. Let us help him."
"You and I both know it's not that simple if he's involved."
"No, but let me handle the man in the hat. You've been hired to protect Calloway and we can help with that. It's our job to help with that."
She heard him pull in a breath on the other end of the line and loose it in a sigh. "Liz, it's not my -" A sound cut him off and she heard Tom shout at someone. There was a moment, another shout, and she found her knuckles going white as she gripped the phone. "You have your team with you?" he demanded and it took her half a beat to register that he was talking to her.
"Ressler and Park."
"Meet us at the garage around the east side of the house."
The call ended and her gaze swept the seemingly quiet grounds. "They're already here."
Neither Ressler or Park argued the statement and the three of them drew their guns as they circled around to the eastern side of the house. It looked more like a small hanger with the drive winding up the side of the house and around the back to what must have been another exit. Well, at least she hoped it was another exit. If these guys were half as good as Reddington had indicated they needed more than one way out or they'd get cut off. They certainly didn't want to get into a firefight and pinned down.
"Hey, is that one of your husband's people?" Park asked, motioning to a prone figure on the ground.
Liz frowned and shook her head. "Doesn't look like Halcyon equipment." Which meant that someone had already taken a shot. Great.
"Cooper's sending backup," Ressler said quietly as they approached and Liz saw the cell phone in his hand. Ahead of them, Tom was circled up with the Grey Matters field team around Senator Calloway. Matias Solomon offered a cheeky wave as they approached and Liz struggled not to pop off at him.
Calloway turned as they approached. "I told you that I didn't want the FBI to -"
Tom squared his shoulders. "I can personally guarantee whatever you're trying to hide, Senator, they've seen worse and they won't care." His dark gaze flickered out to the grounds. "We need an exit. Three cars should be enough to keep them guessing."
"And you want one of us to get behind the wheel with him?" Ressler growled, nodding towards Solomon who blew him a kiss in response.
"You haven't done anything to piss me off this week and - still no clue why - Nez actually gets along with him, so let's avoid unnecessary complications." He tossed a set of keys to Park as Nez disappeared behind the vehicles. "That leaves you with us, Senator."
The older man looked between Liz and Tom. "I'd rather -"
There was a moment where it looked like Calloway might argue. They didn't have time for this. If the infiltrating kidnappers didn't know that one of their own had been taken out by Halcyon, they would soon, and the last thing they needed was a shootout.
"We're set," Nez called, tossing three license plates to the ground and Solomon was already in the driver's seat of one of the three identical SUVs.
Tom took hold of Calloway by the jacket collar and dragged him towards the one on the far right that was angled at the exit. Liz started after him, movement catching her attention just past them. Well, there went all hope of getting out cleanly. "Down!" she shouted and Tom dropped instantly, pulling the senator with him as bullets whizzed past. She returned fire and took their attacker down before launching forward and into the passenger's seat of the waiting vehicle as Tom circled around to the driver's seat.
Tires squealed as she righted herself, the door slamming closed behind her and she reached for the window. It didn't roll down and she spotted Tom's left hand going back to the wheel as he took a hard left out of the back gate. "Did you lock the window?" she demanded.
"You have a history of leaning halfway out them to take your shot. Hey," he snapped, his dark blue gaze flickering to the rearview mirror. "Stay down."
Calloway quirked an eyebrow in the back seat. "Me or her?"
"You," both Keens answered at once and if the look on the senator's face was anything to go by, he realized that there would be no turning them against each other.
"Take it you've worked together before?" he grumbled.
Tom's lips stretched into a lopsided smile and she resisted the urge to slug him in the arm. Part of her wanted to remind him to focus, but it was quickly losing to the part of her that felt the rush of excitement at being able to work together. When he'd decided to take on a full time role at Halcyon they'd had to set some ground rules to keep their professional lives from destroying their personal one. Those ground rules had worked well so far and, for the most part, kept their teams on separate cases. It had been ages since they'd had a chance to work together, but now - even as they flew down the road with a less-than-cooperative senator in the back and a team of professional kidnappers on their bumper - there was a thrill to it. They were both excellent at their jobs, they both enjoyed their jobs. Maybe they should rethink those ground rules from time to time.
Her phone buzzed and Liz glanced down to see a text from Ressler laying out the route that their backup was driving. "Tom, take a right up here."
"You mean follow the streets to the most likely roadblock the feds would set up?"
"That's our backup."
"You trust me?"
"I do, but -"
"Then hold on." He spun the wheel hard in the opposite direction and Liz could have sworn it tipped a little to the side before righting itself on all four wheels and Tom hit the gas down the narrow alley.
"Hey, we didn't lose them," Calloway said from the back and Liz glanced around to see the car that had been chasing them slammed into reverse to follow. There was more distance between them now, but they could make that up.
Tom turned again and then immediately again into a dead end. Liz bit her tongue, reminding herself that she trusted him as he killed the engine. She pulled in a breath, her question riding out on it as she released it. "They'll be back."
"Nah. Nez and Solomon are waiting on the main street. They'll spot them and think they're still chasing us. They'll lead them right to the roadblock."
"Ressler wouldn't have sent them the location."
Her husband shot her an amused look. "It's cute you think he has to."
Right. She was starting to remember one of the many reasons they had decided to avoid working together. "You're just going to give us the kidnapping ring?"
"I don't have any use for them. Either you do or you'll toss them in a hole. If I remember the ground rules right, I'm not supposed to ask which." She wondered if it had been that obvious what she was thinking as her lips curled up at the corners and he offered her a wink before turning back to Calloway. "Scottie'd like a word with you if you're up for it."
"I imagine she would," the senator said darkly.
"Any chance you'll tell me what that means?"
Tom snorted a laugh. "I don't ask, you don't ask."
"I'm really starting to reconsider those rules."
"You won't when we're both drowning in paperwork all evening. Weren't you supposed to be off today?"
"Don't remind me," Liz sighed, slouching down in her seat and, as Tom restarted to SUV, they could hear the sound of sirens in the distance.
He had not been wrong about the paperwork. After arriving at Halcyon's New York City HQ and delivering the senator there, Liz had been shuffled onto a private jet and flown back to DC where she'd been met by more paperwork than she thought she'd seen in her whole career. When she talked to him on the phone, it sounded like Tom wasn't faring much better, but he did offer to call to make sure Shelly's mom knew Agnes would be staying a little later than they'd planned for the day.
The sun had set by the time Cooper all but kicked her out, telling her that the paperwork would likely be shredded anyway if Halcyon had their way. He'd call her if he needed clarity on any of it and Liz had called Tom on her way home. The call rolled over the voicemail and she felt her spirits drop as she pulled into the parking garage under the building and thought about the scattered decorations that were still lying all around the apartment. It would have been better if she hadn't even gotten started on the decorations, but now not only did she not have a Christmas wonderland for her kid, she had to tuck everything away into hiding places so that she could try again.
She trudged up four flights of stairs and fished her keys out of her purse. The lock didn't turn and she resisted the urge to immediately go for her gun, letting her hand hover as she pushed the door open.
The first thing she saw was a string of lights down the hallway. They lined the hall, circling around the doorframes and dipping down between them. She followed them in, eyes wide and smile tugging slowly into place as she entered the living room to see everything she'd wanted to set up. The tree was up and decorated, presents wrapped and tucked away under it, and the empty boxes the decorations had been in were stacked neatly in the corner. "Tom?" she called out, finding her husband at the turntable in the corner. He flipped the record over and repositioned the needle so that Bing Crosby's I'll be Home for Christmas filled the apartment. "I thought you were swamped too."
He turned, a sheepish grin plastered on his face. "Okay, I know we have a no lying rule, but does it count if it was so I could surprise you and knew you'd get the truth anyway?"
A laugh escaped her and she met him where he was, her arms wrapping around his middle and she laced her fingers together to hold him there. "I want to say no, but that could be a slippery slope right there."
"I know how much you were looking forward to getting all of this ready for Agnes and when I saw you there today…"
"I didn't think you even remembered."
"I'm not that tunnel visioned," he argued.
Liz snorted a laugh, tipped up on her toes, and pressed a quick kiss to his lips. "This is perfect."
"Good. I mean, it may not be an all-the-lights-go-out-and-we-decorate-in-the-dark kind of Christmas, but I wanted to make sure you had the Christmas you wanted for Agnes."
He inched closer, those dark blue eyes of his holding her gaze in a way that could still make her stomach flutter. "As long as I have the two of you, that's all I need."
"Apparently ice skating went a little longer than planned, but she should be back by dinner time."
"Did you already start?"
"Cooking. Not yet, did you want -?"
Liz loosed her grip on him just long enough to reposition one hand to the back of his neck, pulling him down to meet her in a kiss. She held him there, feeling his own hands move to her hips before he shifted just enough to pull her feet off the floor and she wrapped her legs around his waist, never breaking the kiss. Finally they had to break, both a little short of breath, and she found the man she loved staring up at her. "We can always order in," he managed.
"Like you read my mind." She leaned down again, the kiss soft and sweet. "I love you."
He let her slide down to stand, his gaze locked with hers. "You too. Merry Christmas."
The day hadn't turned out exactly how she'd expected it, but somehow, after everything, it had been better. They deserved that. Between the close calls and the unbelievable pain that they had shared over the years, they deserved a little peace with their family. As Liz slipped her hand into his and pulled him close, everything else washed away.
Notes: This was written for the lovely Blacklister214/Evey Edge for the Blacklist Secret Santa over on Tumblr! Between holiday travels and working to get this fic finished in time (gotta love a muse that demands to rewrite multiple times), there won't be an update for Love Me Twice today, but you do get a fun Keen2 fic in which Tom is alive and well. Feel free to insert one of the many Tom Lives! stories for the background lol
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you stay safe, stay well, and that it's a good one.