A/N: This little thing was inspired by and based upon the song almanac by Purity Ring. It's a truly gorgeous song. I highly recommend listening to it before or while reading :)
It takes Liz far too long to see Red clearly, but when she finally does, it's rather like looking into the sun.
(And he has more facets, warm and brilliant, than she ever could have imagined.)
Once she sees the light, Liz unexpectedly gets a front seat to observe Red as the crime lord most of the world knows him to be. He enters a room with her in the place of honor on his arm and everyone turns to look, surrounding him, caught helplessly in his orbit, gazes ripe with interest, respect, and just a touch of fear, and Liz - dressed in designer dresses as the Concierge's Queen at his side - knows they're all for him. He commands a room without a thought or a care in the world - coercing, calculating, commanding - adapting to whatever the situation warrants, and Liz can only watch, eyes lidded in admiration, as he strides confidently in his immaculate suits and signature fedoras, ready to kill if necessary, the sheer power of him making her flush and cross her legs. She marvels at his brilliant mind, constantly planning and strategizing, cross-referencing and making contingencies, leaving no stone unturned and never failing to slip in an innuendo with a smirk that makes her grin back, enthralled.
When they descend underground to the depths of the Post Office, holding hands until the elevator doors shutter open onto the war room, she follows him helplessly into the center of the room, reluctant to be drawn away from the illumination he exudes, guiding her like the moon does the tides.
(And she wonders vaguely if the waves crash themselves endlessly upon the shore simply for their love of the moon, and she thinks she may understand.)
Liz can only sit back and watch him speak to the rest of the team, slipping into his secondary role as their informant with ease, presenting a prepared blacklister to them with gusto and flair. She smothers grin when he skims over details he'd rather keep to himself, details she's privy to now as they work together in every sense of the word, unbeknownst to the Task Force, just the way they like it. He picks and chooses his words with all the precision of an actor, his mouth a delightful tool as his hands map pictures in the air, his face wonderfully expressive as he weaves a story just for the sake of telling it, answering questions with a snark that makes her hide her laughter behind her hand, his tongue occasionally curling in the side of his mouth in the nervous habit known only to her, and she has to struggle not to picture all the other things it can do to her when he's not nervous at all.
When he meets with his associates and acquaintances, no qualms anymore about bringing her along to meet them all, no more thoughts of betrayal or leaving her behind crossing his mind as instead he takes pleasure in introducing her to the eccentric people in his circle - Paula, Brimley, Edna - and Liz watches them light up at the sight of him, gazing happily up at him like he's a star in the sky.
(And in the constellation of his empire, he's surely the brightest star of them all, the one all the others adorn as they work together to form a larger, beautifully detailed shape.)
Red greets them warmly with open arms and a smile, wrapping them up in a heartfelt hug and pressing a kiss to their cheek, making Liz just the slightest bit jealous when they linger or peck his lips as well. He knows not only the professional details of his associates, but also their family, friends, and even pets, always asking after the health and wellbeing of their family with all the sincerity in the world. And if one of his people needs something, whether they're willing to ask or not, he won't hesitate to help them - giving them money, contacts, even a refuge if need be - the size of his heart truly stunning for one that's see so much betrayal because, after all, he values loyalty above all else and always rewards it handsomely.
But as eye-opening as Red's other sides are, Liz can't help but have a special fondness for the person he is with only her.
When it's just the two of them, the love radiates off him in waves, evident in his looks, his gestures, his touches, so much that Liz will never again doubt the sincerity and depth of his feelings for her. His adoration is painfully obvious in the way he constantly attempts to spoil her, so unused to people doing things for him - touching him, giving him random gifts, simply loving him in return - that he rejects the attention almost violently, and she has to work long and hard to convince him of his worth. But, even as he worships her, he never fails to treat her as a real person, showing her the utmost respect as a psychologist, an agent, and a woman. The passion he holds inside himself for her never fails to blow her away, unleashed when he simply can't contain it any longer, and she revels in the fact that - after everything - he can still love her. And when everything boils over, and it's just the two of them and their bodies, Liz is sure she's never known anything better, wishing she could spend hours tangled up with him, climbing up his spine, all the way to his mind to look through his eyes to see herself the way he sees her, and understand exactly why he is hers.
(Because he told her once about how she's his Polaris, guiding him through the dangerous waters of his tumultuous life and, once the clouds in her mind parted and she could see the stars clearer than ever, she realized that he's her North Star as well.)
It's almost shocking to think back to the times before she could truly see him, too blinded by all the mysteries and secrets piled and stacked between them, unable to look at him and see what was truly important. Now, Liz can look back and appreciate all the things he's shown and taught her - that a knowledge and acceptance of the past brings a beautiful positivity and eagerness for the future - and she's realized that she's never felt more like herself than she does with him. And when the scar on her wrist kisses the burns on his back, she knows without a doubt that they were fated to be together. They've walked through fire to find their way back to each other and their souls only know peace when the other is near. And - though it took her time to accept it - Liz knows she could never again doubt just how much she loves him.
He's opened her eyes to nothing but him, and that's all she needs…her sun, her moon, her north star.
He's her almanac.