The Long Game

Part 1

Author's Note: A very AU fic that will place them on a second undercover assignment in between Blacklisters over the course of the show. I am starting it in season 1 and not sure where I'll go from there, so we'll see. Please leave a review.

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"I'm fine with undercover, but she's literally worked as an FBI agent for, what? Two months?" Don said incensed as he looked at Cooper.

"And statements like that are exactly why I am telling you separately," Cooper said annoyed with his agent. "You are excellent at thinking on your feet so I don't doubt you will help Agent Keen navigate this territory that is…"

"Meera could…" Don started.

"She's CIA and on loan, we can't trust that she will be available or around to assist us," Cooper said.

"And Keen will be?" Don asked, annoyed. "If Reddington shuts this down next week…"

"He won't," Cooper said assuredly.

Don scoffed, if he knew anything about Reddington, it was that he was unpredictable.

"And we need you two in place so we have a history that we can draw on, not just the fake one being built," Cooper said as he threw a file onto his desk and nodded toward it.

Ressler picked it up and started to read.

"Married?" Don asked, indignant.

Cooper said nothing.

Don read that they were two smugglers who, for the right price, left their perfect little existence to do some enormously illegal and lucrative transactions.

"You sure you don't want to establish us as low level…"

"We considered it, but felt we wouldn't get as much bang for our buck, we want big fish, not little ones," Cooper said.

"And this is in addition to Reddington's list?" Don asked.

"He's good at giving us cases, but in between cases I'd like to run this operation so if there is a time when the cases are a little dry for a few weeks, or a few days, we've got this," Cooper said. "We are walking a fine line with Finance justifying this task force and the money we spend on it, we need to produce as well, when things are quiet with Reddington."

Don nodded, he certainly understood that reasoning, having sat in on several budgetary meetings with the bean counters agonizing over the number of paperclips they were using.

"So how much time each week are we talking?" Ressler asked.

"You and agent Keen need to make some appearances in these roles a couple of times a week, we'll pay overtime, obviously, and if there is a larger break, then I will ask you to step into these roles for longer periods. There may be some travel involved, and in the end, we will do anything to preserve your covers, maybe even arresting you if necessary."

Don nodded.

"We live in Baltimore?" Don asked.

"Far enough away that you won't run into people you actually know as Don Ressler, but not so far away that this can't be manageable," Cooper said.

Don nodded.

"How did we acquire this place?" Don asked as he turned a picture of what looked like a large converted warehouse apartment to Cooper.

"Bought by Mickey Donovan in 2016 and seized with his assets," Cooper said. "He had subletters, from what we can tell, he was using it as an investment property."

Don nodded.

"You and Agent Keen are moving in there this weekend," Cooper said. "She's downstairs picking out furniture from the FBI catalogue of seizures as we speak."

"Wait, you told her first?" Ressler asked annoyed.

"She has a husband, they're considering adopting," Cooper explained. "She has a life she will be stepping away from for…"

"And I don't?" Don asked annoyed as he snapped the file shut.

"You have the life of a single adult male with no obligations to anyone beyond work," Cooper said, trying to soften it. "I know I am asking a great deal of both of you, but her agreement to do this comes with some personal consequences that your life doesn't have at the moment."

Don ground his back teeth together.

"How much of a long game are we talking here?" Don asked, thinking maybe he would have a life at some point.

"As long as we can keep it going," Cooper said. "This weekend is about establishing yourselves as a couple, and over the coming months it's just about letting everyone get used to seeing you around sporadically. As you can see, you both have jobs that involve frequent trips…."

"She's in pharmaceutical sales and I am an insurance adjustor?" Don asked, thinking both careers sounded bland enough to be believable.

"Reddington is going to help establish your criminal connections in a few months, until then, you just need to establish yourselves as a happily married couple," Cooper said with a smile.

Don nodded and stood from his chair with the file in his hand.

"And Ressler," Cooper said as the young man turned to look at him. "I know you are going to do everything to help Agent Keen adjust to this new role undercover. She can learn a lot from you."

Don nodded, he heard the subtle warning underneath that—don't take it out on her.

He walked downstairs to the bullpit where he saw her sitting at a laptop with furniture on it and looking between it and the pictures of the empty space that would be their apartment.

"I like a mattress with the foam top," Don said as he came up behind her.

Keen turned and looked at him with a smirk. She thought he would be more of an ass about this.

"Foam top, got it," Keen said as she turned back to the computer.

She was currently looking at couches.

"I'm thinking this one," she said as she clicked to a large sectional in a tweed-like grey.

"Sure, pick whatever you like," Don said, uninterested in any of the choices but his mattress. "I'll take the second bedroom, you can have the master."

Keen nodded. "Cooper suggested a murphy bed so if anyone came inside it didn't look like we had two bedrooms."

Don nodded. "Make the second bedroom an office with a desk for each of us, and then the bed can be there for guests but folded away otherwise."

Keen nodded.

"Anything else I should make sure I get?" Liz asked.

"A good coffee machine and one of those waffle irons," Ressler said before he turned to walk away.

"You're a waffle man?" Keen called to him.

"I'm full of surprises," Don said over his shoulder as he walked toward his office.

To be continued…