Takes place sometime after the season finale. Somewhat related to my one word prompt Blue in my Words fic. Thanks RedandLizzie for the idea :)
The first time she saw something different in his eyes, in the way he looked at her, they were sitting across the fire pit from each other, the smoke and the flames and the little bits of glowing ash filling the space between their bodies. The air had been full that night with the scent of verbena and laurel and the moon beyond the trees had illuminated the lake in an ethereal glow.
At first the evening had proceeded like any other spent at the cabin in the hills. They had eaten a simple supper in companionable silence and then made their way into their respective rooms to ready themselves for the cooler temperatures they knew were coming.
The fire had become a sort of unacknowledged tradition when the stayed together at the lake.
Red would emerge from his room first, worn jeans and shirt having replaced his usual attire. He would walk across the living room floor, his socked feet making nary a noise and then stop at the entryway to the porch to collect his boots and hat.
He always wore a hat. Though the ones hanging from the pegs in the cabin seemed to hail from local hunting clubs and eating establishments rather than fine clothiers.
She would hear the solid beat of Red's decent down the old porch steps and she would then wait a few minutes before walking to the kitchen and filling a bucket with ice and adding a few bottles of IPA or something stronger if the mood in the house needed lifting.
Carrying the container by the handle she would let herself out onto the porch and pause, let herself enjoy the view – the lake, the garden belying the current season, the man out in the yard carefully constructing a pile of wood and lighting it aflame.
She enjoyed the nightly ritual, the fire, maybe more than she was ready to admit. But she didn't like to be present for the moment that the flame hit the wood and it all went ablaze. She had tried, but even rational thought could not overcome her emotional reaction to that sight.
The memories were too strong.
So each night she waited. And Red seemed to understand this and never asked or encouraged her to come down sooner. But they never spoke of the matter.
Such was their way.
On the particular night in question she was sitting on an upended tree stump and he on the old workbench that had materialized next to the fire pit on their second visit here. She was enjoying the night, watching the fire, watching the stars, watching the way the light cast shadows through the yard and ended at the edge of the trees.
She had looked up, preparing to ask a question, something mundane about the next day, and had caught him staring. Staring at her. His eyes were trained on her face and the depth of focus in his green eyes made her feel naked despite her multiple layers of clothes she wore.
She shivered in the darkness and she wondered if he detected her reaction or if her body's involuntary response to the surprise - coupled with a little bit of something...electric - was only apparent to her.
He had quickly looked away, and she had not acknowledged the moment despite the hard charging adrenaline coursing through her body.
She had looked back down at her hands, wrapped around a brown glass bottle, felt the wet beads of condensation run down the smooth surface and over her fingers, and contemplated what had just happened.
She had never seen Red unguarded before. Sure, they had been to this cabin, the place she had come to realize held some special meaning to the man sitting across the fire from her.
The cabin seemed to bring with it an aura of peace and tranquility, much welcomed into both of their lives despite their usual absence. There was a familiarity here in the relaxed setting that seemed to allow Red to let down his guard a bit and let the man behind the mask – or bespoke suit – become visible.
She found the man in the regular clothes, the man who cooked scrambled eggs in the early hours of the morning, picked a well worn novel off the shelf to read in the evenings, and who made her feel like she was his equal, a valued participant in his life…well, she found herself drawn to that man more and more every day.
The thrumming backbeat of the music pulsed so hard Liz thought she might actually be able to see the sound waves moving through the air. The club teemed with people, all dressed to kill and well on their way to inebriation.
She tapped her toe against the dark wood bar as she ran her hand along the brass rail. They seemed out of place she thought, old world relics in a venue that was so modern, so right now, she would never have known it existed if it hadn't been for Red.
This was their second night in whatever Eastern European city this was. She had lost count, or interest, she wasn't sure, in what their individual destinations were these days. A few days in, a few meetings attended, and they were back on the plane destined for someplace else. Some other reckless city where she knew no one and Red knew everyone.
Or so it seemed.
She missed the gentle simplicity of the cabin. She felt like she knew the Red that slept there. Saw another side of him that was absent on their days of travel. Felt like she knew herself better on those visits too. Something akin to happiness creeping into her thoughts on those nights spent eating simple meals and sitting around the fire.
The words of the bartender, spoken in a language she wouldn't be able to understand even if she could hear the words coherently, disrupted her thoughts and she made a gesture that she hoped would be interpreted as she was fine, no need for another drink please.
She stirred whatever concoction sat in front of her and tried to chase off her thoughts of unease. Of not fitting in. Her childhood lack of self esteem having reared it's ugly head as of late and she found herself wondering where it was exactly that she did belong.
Certainly not here.
And where was Red?
She eyed the dance floor and watched the twenty something revelers move this way and that, their hair slicked back with sweat and glowing necklaces casting alien colors onto their damp skin and lower faces.
Sometimes she wished she could be one of them. Alive and in the moment. Not worried about Berlin or loss or where she fit into the world.
She looked down at her simple black pants and shirt. She had thought them elegant when she purchased them at one of their stops the first week after everything went down. They were Italian, well made and well tailored to her body. She tended to wear them with a pair of red heels and felt herself almost sophisticated when looking at her reflection in the mirror.
But she was nothing compared to them, she thought, watching a boy certainly not even 18 years of age do unspeakable things to a girl of similar age in the corner of the room.
Why did she wish sometimes it were her in that corner?
She pushed the thought away.
Why did she even come here tonight? She should have stayed in the hotel and read. Or watched a movie in a language she didn't know. There would have been subtitles.
No, no, instead she had wandered out to the club Red had pointed out earlier. He had a meeting with some associates he didn't name and about which she didn't ask. She didn't think he was talking about anything pertaining to her and she had let the rest of Red's dealings go. Whatever he did, he did, and she wasn't going to change him.
Not sure that she wanted to.
She idly rubbed her hand over her scarred wrist and contemplated getting up and walking back to the hotel. The music was so loud she could feel the headache coming in her temples.
She watched the bartender mix something impossibly complicated down the bar and kept watching while the liquid in the glass turned an incandescent shade of blue.
This was not her life.
No one knew her here. No one cared. She could jump head first out of the fifth story window to her right and no one would no the difference.
She had to stop thinking like this. It didn't help anyone.
She stared back through the crowd and her gaze landed on a man cutting through the dance floor purposefully but with understated ease.
He moved around the endless bodies moving and writhing and dancing and continued farther towards the bar.
His shirt and pants were untouched by the uncontained fervor around him and he walked slowly towards the end of the room where she was seated.
She moved her gaze farther up the approaching man's body and saw eyes, green and familiar, looking back at her.
And the look he gave her was one she had seen before. One time.
And her heart leaped a bit in her chest.
"They said there was an American at the bar", he offered by way of explanation and smiled at her like he really was happy she was here.
"I got bored," she mumbled. Her gaze still on the wood. Her fingers twiddling a paper napkin back and forth.
His smile was doing strange things to her insides, and she tried to figure out if it was Red or the fact that she was recognized, found, by someone (anyone), that made her feel this way.
She decided it was a little bit of both and looked back up.
He had his glasses on and for some reason that made her heart skip a little more and she wondered if perhaps the stress of the whole situation with her life was actually causing her to loose her mind right there on that barstool in some foreign town.
With glowing drinks no less.
That thought made her smile a tiny bit and Red canted his head to the left and smiled back at her.
"I'm glad you came." And there was something in those words, some tiny note, that made her certain that he meant it. He was glad that she came.
Her smile broadened and she gestured towards the seat next to her.
"Buy you a drink?" She offered but knew he wouldn't bite.
"Lizzie, Lizzie. I would like to see you try. But, that man over there doesn't speak a lick of English and you don't speak a word of Ukranian and I don't think whatever conversation transpired between the two of you would end up with a glass of scotch sitting right here."
He pointed to the bar and she had to laugh. Sometimes he was just so Red.
Her laugh made him lean a little farther towards her and his hand crept to the back of her chair and she decided that she liked this Red too.
The one who found her in dark clubs after meetings with strange men (who were most likely up to no good) and who recognized when her smile was real.
"What were you thinking?" He asked and she could feel his breath on the tender place below her ear when he leaned over to speak.
The shiver was back and she felt a blush starting to creep it's way up her face.
"When?" She countered.
"When you first got here and sat down? I saw you looking over that way and looking rather pensive." He motioned towards the dance floor but kept his eyes on her.
"Oh, you saw me then? I thought you were, I don't know, in some secret chamber under the basement."
"Oh Lizzie, you and your ideas. No, I was just at the table over there –" he pointed to one at the edge of the dark corner fartherest from her. "And I always see you," he added and she wondered if there was more to that statement than Red watching Liz drink a questionable cocktail.
"Thank you," she said quietly.
And he looked confused.
"I was watching them." She said and she hated the tinge of wistfulness that ran though her words. What was she doing?
"What?" His usual intuition for understanding her without explanation seemed to be failing him and he needed further clarification.
"Watching them dance. They look so…free. And happy. And sometimes that makes me…"
"Sad." He answered for her. And she wasn't sure if it was his uncanny ability to finish her sentences or something familiar within his own thoughts that gave him the answer she had yet to voice.
She looked up at him and the tender light was evident once again in her eyes and she swallowed to cover up something that felt a little bit like tears.
God she was a mess. Is this what being on the run was doing to her?
"Come with me," he said, standing and reaching his hand out toward her.
"Where?" Her eyes darting around the room.
"Just come." He repeated his words again and then reached to take her hand.
She slid down off of the stool and moved to follow him. Her hand still in his and the deep vibration of the bass moving through both of them equally.
The air was cooler than before when Red pushed the unmarked door open and led her out onto the darkened sidewalk. The street was deserted, not even a car moved along the empty roadway.
"Where are we going?" She asked with suspicion more because she had to than because she cared.
"Nowhere." He responded and she stopped to look up at him, the music from the club quieter now but still there.
The look, the look was back again, and she swore his eyes would be the death of her tonight. She did not want to feel.
"Dance with me Lizzie." And the way he asked was so tender and perfect and true that she felt herself step towards him and lay her cheek against his chest before her mind had even a moment to process anything that was happening.
"Dance with me." He whispered almost to himself and moved his arms further around her, circling her in something that felt a lot like inclusion and belonging.
He began to move and his steps were small despite the huge volume coming from inside, the throngs of bodies, the neon lights. His moves were small and hers.
"Thank you." The words were quiet as they left his lips. And she wondered what he was talking about so she moved her head from its gentle perch and looked up at him.
"For being you," he said and the tears she had held at bay before began to brim.
She looked back down and brought herself closer to him. Refusing to acknowledge that this would mean anything. That this dance on this street with this man was just something that happened.
Not something that would change her life forever.
A/N – Thanks so much for reading – I hope you enjoyed it! I hope to continue this in a few chapters…