Author's note: Bit of an angst fest in this chapter; sorry (not sorry ;D)
I hope you enjoy, let me know what you think :)
He woke to Abby's voice lulling him into consciousness. His head ached terribly and his vision was blurred as he carefully opened his eyes. Marcus fought back a wave of nausea as he tried to focus on her voice, the hushed sound reverberating painfully in his head as it reached his ears. They were still in the middle of the forest from what he could tell, although it seemed darker than when he'd been knocked out. He wondered idly how much time had passed. Abby moved into his field of vision and he peered at her, attempting to focus on her face. A trail of blood streaked down her cheek and he wondered just who it belonged to; she didn't look injured from his quick once over. He suddenly felt something constricting his head, and he reached a slightly shaking hand up, feeling the scratchy material of a tightly wound bandage. He groaned as he applied pressure and felt the pain that his head wound was causing.
"Marcus?" he heard Abby whisper, her voice now more soothing, and yet he could detect a trace of fear in her tone. He was immediately on alert. "Come on, we need to get out of here."
He struggled to sit up, his vision still blurring and his head pounding. Abby supported him as he moved, one hand pressed against his back and the other clutching his arm. Marcus sat still for a few seconds, swallowing back the bile that threatened to creep up his throat; he really didn't feel right.
"What happened? I remember being ambushed and gunfire, but very little else." His voice was hoarse and it hurt to talk. He rested with his head between his knees, waiting impatiently as the urge to be sick passed over him again.
"Grounders," Abby replied, moving in front of him. She rested her hand on his cheek, encouraging him to lift his head from its current position so that she could check his eyes. "I'm not sure how many… I shot one and there were at least two more..." She became suddenly silent, her gaze fixed on the ground. She continued quietly, her voice thick with emotion. "I think Abrams and Holt are dead. I heard more gunfire and some screams while you were unconscious. Neither of them is answering their radio. I wanted to try and find them, help them if I could, but I... I couldn't leave you…" Her voice trailed off as she spoke, her tone laced with guilt that she'd put his needs above those of his men.
He didn't know what to say, so he nodded, instantly regretting it when another wave of nausea flowed through him. Abby seemed to sense his discomfort and she shifted closer to him again.
"Easy," she muttered, placing her hand back on his arm to steady him. "I think you've got a concussion."
"I'd say so," he replied shortly, before he looked at her remorsefully. "Sorry. It just feels like my head is going to explode."
"It's ok, I understand. You should be fine, but I think we need to get somewhere safe. I'm not sure how long we were unconscious for but…"
"Hold on," Marcus interrupted, looking at her sternly, "…'we?' Abby, are you ok? Why didn't you say something?"
"I'm fine Marcus, honestly."
He looked at her incredulously, folding his arms and staring at her. She sighed and leant back slightly, lifting the edge of her shirt to reveal a smooth white bandage. It stretched across her ribs, and from what he could tell it had been hastily applied; the edges of the tape keeping it pressed against her skin frayed and already beginning to peel. His hand subconsciously reached out to touch it, to prove to himself that she was ok, but his fingers stopped inches from her skin, realizing that it wasn't his place. He coughed and shook his head to break out of his thoughts before shifting back slightly and looking up at the woman sat beside him, a questioning expression on his face.
"Abby," he asked, glancing down to her now covered wound, "did you get shot?"
She shook her head and smiled grimly before she responded.
"No, I got swiped by something but the wound wasn't that deep. It wasn't too bad, it just aches now." She paused and looked up through the trees, as if trying to track the position of the sun from their spot on the forest floor. The shadows were longer now, Marcus noted, and a hush was beginning to fall over the surrounding area as the wildlife began to settle in for the night.
After a few seconds of contemplation, Abby continued talking, turning to face him once more. "I'm more concerned about finding some shelter. I think it's nearly dusk and I don't want to travel all the way back to camp with your concussion. Plus, I'm not sure if our attackers will be back any time soon. We scared them off, but you know how determined the Grounders can be."
Marcus looked dubious but reluctantly agreed. His head was still pounding and he was feeling increasingly dizzy, but Abby was right, there was no way that they could stay where they were; it was just asking for trouble.
"What about our radio?" He asked, suddenly remembering their need to communicate with the camp. If they could just get through to Sinclair then they could send medical assistance and extra guards; he and Abby could be out of there in a couple of hours at most.
"Broken," she admitted, pulling out the communication device from her bag. She was right, it was broken; the antennae had been snapped off and the main case had been dented and crushed beyond repair. "I think it was damaged in the attack." She passed it to him so that Marcus could inspect it for himself.
"Damn it," he muttered, turning the device over in his hands before looking at her. "If I remember rightly there should be a small cave system due East of here. We've scouted it before. It's empty, and I don't think it's far. We can shelter there for the night and work out what our next plan of action is. Clearly we're not going to be able to get in touch with the camp, but hopefully they'll soon figure out that we're missing and send out a search party."
He knew it was wishful thinking, and judging by what he assumed was a matching expression on Abby's face, both of them were aware of the fact. Still, it would do no good to presume the worst now. Marcus knew he needed to recover from his concussion, and he was sure that Abby would want to redress her own injury, despite her protestations that it wasn't that bad.
The woman beside him suddenly sighed despondently, as if she knew that they were in for a rough time of it. She reached out and squeezed his arm one more time in reassurance and gestured towards the depths of the forest.
"C'mon," she muttered, standing up and reaching over to help him up. "Let's go."
It was slow going, with Marcus' nausea threatening to become an issue every few paces. Abby seemed to be struggling with her own injury as well, judging by the grimaces that crossed her face as she walked by his side. Marcus didn't comment on it though; he'd just convince her to let him check it over when they reached safety.
Darkness had fallen by the time they found the small outcropping of rock indicating the cave entrance. Marcus shone his flashlight into the opening, and quickly judged it to be safe.
"I don't think we should risk a fire," he said, sitting down wearily against the wall of the cave, throwing his pack to his right; the impact echoing in the quiet of the night. "If there are Grounders out there looking for us, we don't want to telegraph our position. It should be a mild night so we probably won't need it anyway."
Abby agreed readily and sat down next to him, using the flashlight to check where she was going.
"I need you to stay awake as long as possible Marcus," she told him, peering at him in the near darkness. "But if you do fall asleep, I'll have to wake you every couple of hours to make sure you're okay. Concussions can be dangerous, and you're too much trouble to replace now."
He chuckled, grinning at her good natured teasing.
"That's fine; I'm not feeling particularly drowsy at the moment. Do you want to have a quick sleep?"
She shook her head.
"No, I'll be fine," she whispered, leaning on him slightly again. "It's you I need to worry about."
He smiled softly, knowing better than to argue with her.
"You can be a pillow though," she muttered jokingly after a couple of quiet seconds, "You're more comfortable than the wall."
"I'd hope so," he replied and smiled as she automatically rested her head against his shoulder once more. He moved his arm around her back to support her and his smile broadened as she seemed to snuggle into the embrace. It brought back memories of finding her alive after the Exodus disaster. They settled into a comfortable silence, and Marcus tried not to focus too much on the feel of having her lean against him again. She was quiet, and he wondered briefly if she had dozed off after all. He couldn't check without moving her, so he settled himself again, determined to stay awake until Abby was conscious enough to allow him a few hours of sleep.
Within 10 minutes, however, Marcus knew something was wrong. Abby had begun to shiver violently, but he knew it wasn't from the cold; as he'd predicted it was a mild night, not at all uncomfortable. He reached over and placed his hand over her forehead and almost reeled back when he felt how hot she was. It wasn't right; she was burning up.
He moved quickly, shifting her carefully so she was lying flat on the floor of the cave. Abby didn't stir, didn't complain, didn't make any kind of movement to suggest that she felt him change their position; it immediately threw Marcus into a sense of panic – what was wrong with her?
He bent over her, his nausea temporarily forgotten as he carefully lifted the edge of her shirt, all the while keeping an eye on her face to see if she regained consciousness. The bandage that had been pure white a couple of hours ago was now covered in blood and Marcus peeled it away slowly, readying another clean patch of cloth to cover her injury if it was still weeping.
"Shit," he commented as he spotted the wound. While it wasn't bleeding as much any more, there was a jagged edge to the tear in her skin, and Abby had obviously attempted to stitch it up herself, despite the awkward positioning of the injury. The wound itself was a deep and angry red, and Marcus knew enough about medical issues to know that it there was a likelihood it could go septic… obviously whatever had grazed her had been laced with something; a poison maybe. He swept a frustrated hand through his hair and stared down at her. Of course she'd ignored her own injuries to take care of him, had placed his welfare before her own.
"Damn it, you are such a stubborn woman sometimes," he muttered under his breath, glaring down at Abby as if his frustration would miraculously heal her in an instant. He cleaned the wound as best he could; drying it carefully before applying another bandage. He knew the damage could already be done though, that blood poisoning could have set in, that she could be dying. He wouldn't allow that to happen, not when they'd come so far.
But he didn't know how to treat this, not really. There was a reason he was a soldier and not a doctor. Marcus knew that he needed to cool her down, to try and break the fever before he did anything else. He reached frantically into his pack and grabbed his flask, soaking another piece of fresh cloth, wringing it out and placing it on her forehead. The water was lukewarm but it would have to do; he had no access to cooler liquid and they were miles away from a larger body of water.
"Abby?" he whispered, trying to awaken her. He knew that if she was conscious then he could talk to her; reassure her that she'd be ok, even ask her what to do. He felt helpless and his headache had come back with a vengeance. He was exhausted and desperate to sleep, but right now he could think of nothing else but keeping Abby alive and trying to heal her.
"Come on Abby," he muttered, reaching over and taking her slick hands in his, "stay with me."
She didn't reply, just moaned again, the sound ripping through his heart and sending shivers down his spine. Marcus knew she was in pain and another wave of panic and desperation rushed through him. He was going to lose her, she was going to die and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. He clutched her hand again, linking their fingers together and ignoring the way her sweaty palm slipped against his own, how warm it felt, how it burned against his skin. He raised their joined hands to his lips, kissing the back of her knuckles, not caring if she woke up and saw him this vulnerable. At that moment he'd do anything to see her awake again, even if it was just to glare at him.
"Please," he whispered, looking down at her, sweeping her sweat soaked hair away from her forehead. "Don't leave me here Abby. Not when I've just found you."
Marcus knew he sounded pathetic, knew he was desperate, but there was a pull in his gut that emerged every time he was near Abigail Griffin. He wasn't sure what it meant, but she was the closest thing to a friend he had on this planet and he'd be damned if he let her slip away in some tiny cave in the middle of nowhere because of his own inadequacies. Not with Clarke still out there. Not with their plans to run the camp together, to lead as partners. Not when there was something undefined but important between them.
He bent his head over her body, resting his forehead on their linked hands, and slowly closed his eyes. He silently prayed for what seemed like the first time in years, opening his eyes as he mouthed the words to look down at the sick woman below him. He could do this, he could… no… he would save her.
An hour passed and her shivers continued, each accompanying moan of pain hitting Marcus in the gut like a bullet. He replaced the cool compress against her head as often as he could, but he was quickly running out of water. Marcus knew he needed to get in touch with the camp, to get someone out here to help, but with the broken radio it was a lost cause. His only other option was to walk back with Abby, to carry her, but that wasn't a good option either. They were too vulnerable, and he still hadn't recovered from his own concussion; he was in no state for hiking through thick, unknown forest, especially in the dead of night. They'd just have to wait it out. Marcus just hoped that Abby was as strong in fighting this as she was in everything else; she needed all the help she could get if she was to survive the night.
He ignored his own exhaustion and kept a careful watch over her, keeping track of every movement, every shiver, every groan of pain that emanated from her. Marcus kept a vigil through the night, changing her bandage as the previous one bloodied and tried to keep her comfortable.
The hours ticked by, the time moving at a painfully slow pace, and Marcus soon sensed that dawn was approaching. His head was pounding and he could barely keep his eyes open, his own exhaustion rushing over him in waves. Abby's shivers had lessened in the last couple of hours but she was so pale and her temperature was still way too high, her skin continued to burn him ever time his fingers traced her forehead. He'd run out of water long ago and he was down to his last bandage. There was nothing else he could do, no back-up plan, no last minute reprieve. He had to have faith that Abby would be strong enough to fight, to survive. Marcus had lost all other hope.
He knew it was only a matter of time before he too slipped into unconsciousness again, that he had overexerted himself on the trek here and through his overnight vigil. He didn't regret a moment of it, of his attempt to save her, but he knew, as he felt the darkness slip into the edges of his already blurry vision, that Abby was slipping away, that he was losing her.
That he'd failed her at the most important time, just when she'd needed him the most…