Chapter 2

The next time Liz wakes from her blood-loss induced slumber, it's to the unusual sound of muffled bangs from outside her cell. She frowns sleepily, wondering vaguely through the haze of hopelessness and pain what's making all the strange racket, her leg throbbing as the bangs start to grow louder. She tries half-heartedly to lift her head out of instinct but it's simply too heavy so she gives up, letting it thump back down to join the rest of her body on the floor.

Listening idly as she is, Liz hears when everything goes perfectly silent outside her door for an instant, before a surprised shout and two more gunshots ring out, close and loud, and then the door to her cell is suddenly swinging open, blinding her for a few long seconds with the bright light hitting her right in the face.

Liz blinks hard, trying to get her sore eyes to adjust, her vision slowly fading back in from pure whiteness to show her a silhouette standing in the doorway, one with broad shoulders, and a hat on its head, looking beautifully, wonderfully familiar -

(And the light streaming in all around the mysterious figure, cloaking the details of their face and clothes in darkness, doesn't fool Liz at all, because she would know him anywhere, her savior, bringer of light and safety to the darkness her life has become, their roles completely reversed from what she always thought they would be, because, against all odds -

Red is here to save her.)

Liz can only gape groggily at him, shocked, faint, and weak, as Red hurries forward to crouch at her side, his posture so different from Townsend's cruel, disinterested slouch. The contrast is stark as Red bends over her, concern emanating from him while his body hovers protectively over hers, his hands gently touching her face and ghosting over her injured leg. His lovely face finally comes into focus as her eyes adjust.

"Lizzie…"

A glorious warmth floods through her at the long-absent sound of his voice, and Liz closes her eyes, surprised to feel a few hot tears slip down her cheeks, the sheer relief that he's here reverberating through her sore, aching body.

But a persistent confusion also peppers the haze of her mind.

"Red…" she mumbles. "You came…"

"Of course I came, Lizzie," he murmurs, soft and fervent, sounding for all the world like he means it.

But Liz shakes her head weakly, the room spinning around her with tiny action. "No, Town…Townsend said you m-moved on. He showed me -" Liz opens her eyes to squint blearily around for the surveillance photo, only to find Red has kneeled on it in his haste to get to her "- the photo."

Red just looks at her, confused and concerned, until Liz reaches out for the photo, grabbing the corner and tugging ineffectively until it gets his attention, and he lifts his knee so he can reach down himself and pick it up.

Liz watches him stare at it - noticing belatedly that she accidentally smeared bloody fingerprints over the woman's face in her haste to show him - and sees a furrow appear between Red's brows as he looks. Then, to her surprise, Red simply tosses the photo aside and shakes his head.

"Neville was wrong about more than one thing, Lizzie," he says with a small smile.

Liz frowns, unwilling to believe it even as sparks of hope kindle in her chest, stretching to try and reach the photo where he so thoughtlessly discarded it -

But Red quickly takes a hold of her hand, not seeming to mind the disgusting mixture of dried and fresh blood still caked there.

"Forget the photo, Lizzie," he says firmly, squeezing her hand. "Anne and I are just friends."

Finally abandoning the little piece of paper that brought her so much grief, Liz looks up into his eyes for the first time, struggling to keep her own open long enough to see the sincerity shining there, along with a fair bit of concern, and - if she's not seeing things that aren't there - love.

(And could it be that he can still feel anything akin to love for her after all that she's done to him?)

He seems to sense her disbelief, smiling kindly down at her and reaching out with his other hand to gently stroke her cheek, whispering something she was so sure she would never hear from him.

"I never gave up on you, Lizzie."

(And it appears that he can, and Liz thinks to herself that he has a purer soul than she ever thought to give him credit for.)

"Come on," he says then, his tone abruptly stronger as he releases her hand, only to then fully bend over her. "Let's get you out of here."

And he carefully slides his arms around her back and under her knees - being mindful of all the deep cuts and gashes on her right leg - and picks her up off the cold, hard, bloodied ground with surprisingly little effort, his biceps tight underneath her.

"Agnes misses her mother."

And Liz closes her eyes and lets out a content sigh, her head resting comfortably on his shoulder as he carries her out into the light.