Author's note: I've always wanted to write a '5 times' story and I was suddenly hit by inspiration for one; so here it is!
I hope you enjoy!
She is 10 and he is 12 the first time he kisses her. It is Abigail Ryder's 10th birthday and she is wearing a pretty dress and her mother has made a special cake for her party. His Mom has told him that Mrs. Ryder had saved up her rations for weeks to bake it and it is definitely impressive. His mother has dragged him along because she is friends with Abigail's Mom and he has kind of seen her around school; she is a couple of years younger than him.
"Hi," she says, walking up to him and holding out a plate of cake.
"Hi," Marcus replies, accepting the plate and looking down at it. There is a thick layer of sponge and some icing on the plate; it looks delicious. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." She is polite and her smile is nice, Marcus notes.
"Happy birthday," he says eventually, after taking his first bite of cake; he was right, it is delicious.
"Thank you," Abigail replies, the smile growing on her face. "Your name is Marcus isn't it?"
"Yes." He nods then points to his Mom. "I'm Vera Kane's son. My Mom knows your Mom, that's why I'm here." Her face falls a little, as if he's insulted her, but he quickly smiles at her and says "but, I'm really glad I came, it's a great party. The cake is nice."
The smile reappears on her face and Marcus is happy for its return.
"I've seen you in school," Abigail says suddenly, as if she'd been trying to think of something to say. "You're older than me."
"I am; I'm 12."
The start of their conversation is awkward but they spend the next few minutes talking and Marcus soon decides that he likes Abigail Ryder. She's more interesting than most of the other people he meets. Eventually, however, she goes off to talk to other people (it's her special day after all). Marcus listens as the mechanical whirring of the Ark is drowned out by the music that is being played through the loudspeaker, and he joins in with all the games that they play. He has a great time.
Soon, though, it is time to leave. The party is winding down and Marcus knows that he and his mother have an evening service for the Tree to attend.
The birthday girl is stood by the door with her Mom, saying goodbye to all of the guests that have spent the afternoon celebrating. Marcus waits patiently for her to finish talking to Thelonious, who is also saying goodbye. She eventually turns her attention towards him and smiles.
"Bye, thank you for everything," is all he says, waving at her before turning to leave.
"Now Marcus," his Mom says sternly, looking down at him. "I raised you to be more of a gentleman than that."
He sighs and looks back at Abigail, rolling his eyes slightly. She is looking at him with a curious look on her face, and he remembers the routine that his mother taught him when visiting guests, especially girls. None of the other boys have done it, but his mother looks insistent.
"Happy birthday Abigail," he says, reaching for her hand, lifting it up to his face. She giggles as he presses a swift kiss to the back of her knuckles. "Thank you for having me; it's been a lovely day."
His mother nods approvingly and smiles, placing her own kiss on the top of the young girl's head while wishing Mrs. Ryder a fond farewell.
Marcus is slightly embarrassed that he's had to kiss her, but he liked the way she giggled. She has a nice laugh, he decides.
It starts off innocently enough, with Abby flicking a piece of paper at him across the room while he's trying to concentrate on his Earth History essay. Marcus looks up and frowns, because he's only known Jake's girlfriend for a few months (her 10th birthday doesn't count, he barely remembers it) and despite the beginning of a friendship they have forged, annoying someone while they're trying to study is not a sociable thing to do.
Still, she persists, and soon they are laughing and joking, trying to get the upper hand on the other, their revision forgotten.
It escalates, as things often do and suddenly, surprisingly, he is on top of her, straddling her waist and pinning her beneath him, his hands holding her wrists by her head. The position is intimate, he knows it, but he doesn't care as he looks down at her. This woman has managed to both infuriate and arouse him in the space of five minutes and he forgets momentarily that she is dating his friend. She's looking up at him with wide eyes, her breathing heavy and he senses that the two of them are on the verge of making a very, very big mistake. He can't allow them to do it, can't do that to Jake, or to her. He needs to do something that will break the tension but not the tentative friendship they have. Marcus decides on an approach and quickly mutters "I win" before bending down and placing a purposefully sloppy kiss on her nose as a distraction.
It works, her face scrunching up in mild disgust as he jumps up and heads towards his table, determined to get on with his work. He doesn't look at her again.
They don't mention the incident and when Jake enters 10 minutes later and asks if anything happened while he was gone they shrug, avoid each other's eyes and say 'nothing.'
She is radiant, Marcus notes, as she walks into the Mess Hall. It doubles as the chapel for bigger ceremonies, and a large group of people are gathered along the benches to watch her marry Jake Griffin. He sits on the groom's side, because Jake was his friend first and foremost, but the friendship he has with Abby has blossomed over the 4 years that she and Jake have dated. She smiles shyly at everyone as she walks down the aisle and gives him a tiny wave as she passes, her eyes locking with his for an instant. He feels a slight clench in his gut, like he's missed out on something important, but Marcus instantly dismisses it. He focuses on her throughout the ceremony, watches as she says her vows and kisses Jake and leaves behind Abby Ryder to become Abby Griffin. She clutches Jake's arm as she walks back up the aisle, smiling up at her husband. She looks happy.
Later, at the reception, he manages to grab her for a single dance, stealing her with a laugh from Jake who is soon swept away by his own mother.
"Hi," she whispers, relaxing into his arms as they move to the upbeat music.
"Hi," he replies, dipping her slightly just to make her laugh. She swats him gently on his chest as he rights her and nestles herself back into his arms.
"So," he starts, looking down at her, "how's married life treating you?"
"Not bad," she answers, another smile breaking out on her lips as her eyes immediately track down Jake, who is now dancing with one of the bridesmaids. "I mean, the first 2 hours haven't been a disaster, so that's a promising sign right?"
He nods and spins her away from him, before pulling her back, and he watches as her gown floats with the movement of her body.
"You look beautiful Abby," he comments, his voice suddenly low. She stares up at him and he's pretty sure they've stopped moving.
"Thank you Marcus," she replies and she doesn't stop him when he leans down and brushes his lips against her cheek. Her skin is warm, probably from all the dancing and the heat of the room and Marcus closes his eyes as he pulls away. He opens them quickly as he looks back down at her. She is smiling, but for the first time that day it doesn't reach her eyes.
"Congratulations," he mutters, moving back a little when he feels the clench in his stomach return. They start moving to the music again, and soon the slight awkwardness passes and the smiles are back on their faces, the moment forgotten.
"I do hope you're not putting the moves on my wife Kane," Jake's voice booms from behind him and Marcus grins, spinning Abby away and into the arms of her grateful husband.
"Don't be ridiculous Jake," Marcus says, looking quickly at Abby, "as if she has eyes for anyone but you." He grins and moves off to grab another drink, and only looks back once at the happy couple in the middle of the dance floor.
The hospital wing is cooler than when he entered last, but Marcus figures that's probably to help regulate the temperature of the latest citizen of the Ark. Abby is sat up in bed when he enters, popping his head round the curtain to see if she's awake. She hadn't been the last time he'd checked half an hour ago.
Abby isawake now though, but looks exhausted and her hair is all over the place. Marcus can tell she is deliriously happy regardless of how she is feeling.
"Hello," he says quietly, careful not to disturb the baby that is currently nestled in his friends arms.
"Marcus, hi!" Abby says smiling. She can't wave him in, but the slight nod of her head is enough of an invitation.
"How are you feeling?" he asks, taking a seat next to the bed. "How's the little one?"
"I'm so tired it's untrue," Abby admits, and Marcus senses she's fighting to stay awake. "But, I guess 16 hours of labor will do that to a person." She raises the little bundle slightly so he can see the tiny features of the baby. Her eyes are closed and the wisps of blond hair poke out at odd angles. "Clarke is doing fine. Healthy set of lungs, beautiful smile, currently asleep… thank God!"
"She's beautiful," Marcus says, peering at the baby, "just like her mother."
"Flatterer," she replies, smiling tiredly at him. "I know I look awful."
He doesn't reply, just smiles softly at her. He looks around and spots a nurse at the far end of the room, but no one else.
"Where's Jake?" He hasn't seen Abby's husband since he told him the good news an hour ago.
"With Thelonious… there was some sort of issue with the C02 scrubbers. He'll be back soon I would imagine."
They are quiet for a while, both of them watching the baby sleep peacefully. Eventually, Abby leans over and places Clarke carefully into the tiny cot next to her own bed and looks back at Marcus. Her exhaustion is evident on her face and she fights back a yawn.
"I'll leave you two in peace," he says, moving to stand up. She doesn't protest; she knows he'll be back again so she nods and starts to drift off. Marcus moves quickly to her side and sweeps some hair out of her face before placing a gentle kiss on her forehead.
"I'm proud of you Abby," he whispers, "You'll be a fantastic mother."
She reaches for his hand and squeezes it lightly before she finally drifts off and Marcus can only smile as he makes his way out of the little room to finish his patrol.
The air in the Service Bay is too hot, and Marcus knows he needs to move, needs to get the rest of the survivors out. He's not sure how long the battery will last on the door, and Sinclair had told him he would only be able to secure the interlocking passage to the rest of the Ark for a short amount of time once it was open.
Still, he is reluctant to let Abby go now that he has her in his arms, her breath warm against his skin as she rests against his shoulder.
He leans over, and closes his eyes, resting his head on top of hers.
"Thank you for saving me," he hears her whisper.
"You're very welcome," he mutters back, pulling her tighter against him. Her breathing has calmed a little but she still feels too hot. He makes to stand up but she put her arm across him, motioning for him to stay put for a little longer.
They are silent for a few minutes before she speaks again.
"I thought I was going to die," she admits, reaching out to take his hand, searching for the comfort of his touch. He entwines his fingers with hers and pulls it close to rest on his chest. He wonders if she can feel his heart racing below her palm.
"I thought you had," he confesses, his voice thick with emotion, and suddenly their years of animosity are forgotten, at least for the moment. "I'm glad you didn't." The words seem like a poor way to express exactly how he feels about finding her alive, so he bends his head and places a soft kiss against the top of her head, breathing in the smell of her. His lips linger in her hair and she moves in closer when he pulls away.
She doesn't reply and he just holds her against him as she cries.
(The one time he doesn't...)
Marcus watches as the fire in front of them crackles and spits, its warmth radiating off it towards the people who surround it. He is sated from the food they've eaten at the feast that evening and the moonshine that he has been drinking from his mug hasn't yet fully kicked in, leaving him feeling pleasantly buzzed but not drunk. Abby is sat beside him, partially leaning on his shoulder but this is not unusual; it's her go-to position whenever they are sat together like this.
It's been a crazy year Marcus reflects and he is immediately thankful that they have been able to survive long enough to celebrate the anniversary of the hundred's arrival on Earth; the day the human race discovered it could, and would, survive.
The younger members of the group are sat around their own fire a short distance away, the remnants of that original hundred choosing to reflect more privately on the losses they have sustained over the past 12 months. They have all fully integrated back into the larger group of survivors, but sometimes they are still the scared group of teenagers forced to fend for themselves, and their mourning and privacy is something that Marcus, as Chancellor, has no hesitation in granting them.
He looks down at the woman leaning on his arm. She has a small blanket wrapped around her knees and her hands are cupped round her own mug of moonshine. Marcus notes that she's particularly quiet tonight, as if she has something on her mind.
As if sensing his attention focused on her she looks up at him, smiling as she locks eyes with him.
"Hey," she mutters quietly.
"Hi. Are you cold?"
"No. Comfortable though."
Marcus nods and smiles as she snuggles into his embrace a bit more. The two of them have been treading a thin line this past year, especially in the last few months, but with the rescue of the children, the deadly illnesses that spread through the camp over the winter and the war with Reapers and Grounders alike, there has barely been time to breathe let alone confront whatever feelings there might be between them. Still, Marcus thinks, maybe tonight should be the night. Maybe now is the time for them to face up to what they both feel (at least, he hopes she feels the same, he's sure of his own emotions, but she is sometimes so difficult to read.)
His mind made up he looks down at her again and nudges her gently, forcing her to look round at him.
"Marcus? Is everything ok?"
"Yeah," he says, and then loses confidence. Their friendship means so much… no, he needs to tell her. "I, uh, I need to talk to you about something. Do you want to take a walk?"
"What's this about? Are you alright?" Her voice is quiet, worried, and Marcus loves her a little bit more for it.
"Everything's fine… more than fine. At least I hope," he pauses when he realizes he's rambling. "It's about you. And me. You and me Abby. Together," he says finally, and he's pretty sure he sounds pathetic. Still, at least no one else has appeared to notice his inability to talk properly to the woman he loves. He definitely doesn't need public humiliation on top of this private one.
"Ah, that…" she says, smiling slyly. He watches as she carefully places her mug on the ground, then reaches across and does the same with his. "I was wondering when you'd get around to mentioning that; I thought you'd never pluck up the courage."
He looks at her in confusion. This is not how it was supposed to go. He feels that he's missed something important…
"Marcus, I've been trying to get you to make a move for months. You're as stupid as you are brilliant sometimes."
She doesn't allow him to say anything else in his defense; just leans up and kisses him gently on the lips. It's completely different from all the other times his lips have touched her skin and he moves his hands immediately to cup her face, deepening the kiss. He delights in the ways she moans as his tongue flicks across hers and everything else ceases to exist except her.
Suddenly, there are catcalls and whistles from those sat closest to them, and Abby breaks the kiss to lean her head against his chest in embarrassment, despite the fact that she effectively started this. Marcus doesn't care and pays them no heed as he leans forward and kisses her again. This, he thinks, this is the best one yet…