It's a lot to take in, Earth.
She's spent her entire life surrounded by the harsh, artificial lights of the Ark and the darkness of space. The soft light of the sun plays across the flat, smooth surface of the still lake behind them. And it's warm. Space was cold. A horrible, hollow cold that's chilled her bones her entire life.
She'd only really noticed it before in Jake's arms. The kind of warmth that seeps through the skin and deep into her body coming from his embrace. But that surrounds her entirely now. It's comforting in a way. And the air. The air is soft and sweet and fresh and fills her lungs after so long on a dying space station that was slowly running out of oxygen.
She closes her eyes for a moment and let's herself think of her husband and how much he would have loved this place but pulls herself back as a different kind of heat sparks through her from her lower back, spreading through her spine to the rest of her.
She glances round and finds Kane's hand brushing against her body, getting her attention. He seems just as awed and overwhelmed by this as she does. A soft smile touches her lips.
He always appeared so stoic and reserved in public. But she knew better. She knew him. His eyes were bright again, a fire in their depths once more. When he turned to her, she was sure that it was mirrored in her.
He cleared his throat, drawing himself up and began in a business-like tone. "We have work to do."
She sighed. "Marcus." She murmured quietly, laying a gentle hand on her arm, "Savour the moment." She said quietly, a quiet, almost cautious smile slowly spreading across her face as she breathed, "We made it."
"We made it." He repeated faintly, letting himself soften for a moment before adding crisply, "And now we have to keep on making it."
Her smile broadened and she shook her head. Some things never changed.
"Is anyone injured below?" He asked her.
"I don't think so. But adrenaline can hide a lot. We should go and check on them then get everyone up and out here."
He nods in agreement and offers her a hand to steady her as she slips into the hatch and calls for attention. A sea of faces turns to look at her and she feels a shiver of excitement prickle along her spine.
She can't stop herself from smiling as she tells the restless crowd what she told him a few minutes before, "We made it." A murmur ripples through her audience at this, "We're here. We're on the ground." She lets that sink in for a moment and then takes charge.
She has everyone wait, stops them from leaving as she moves between them, treating the wounded. She finds orders spring easily from her, a fact that's not lost on Marcus either who descends to support her as she begins to move through the group.
"It suits you." He informs her quietly, taking over, finishing up bandaging a wound she's just stitched to allow her to move on.
She shrugs, "I'm a surgeon. When I ask for something in my OR, I get it." She says and it feels like she's explaining her own surprise at this as well.
"Oh is that all?" He muses, a smile tugging faintly at his lips.
"What?" She demands, looking up from her newest patient for a moment to catch the amusement in his eyes.
"You're Abby Griffin." He tells her simply, "Surgery or not, when you ask for something, you expect to get it." She opens her mouth to reply but he's already turned and moved on.
Though there was a faint strain of something akin to pride in his voice so perhaps he meant it as a compliment. She pushes it from her thoughts and returns her attention back to the pale young woman before her quietly reassuring her that her wrist isn't broken; only sprained.
She stands and cleans off her hands, scanning the crowd for more injuries but they've been relatively lucky. Cuts, bruises, a few broken bones. But things have been taken care of.
Her attention returns to Marcus instead and watches the way the people interact with him. His people, now, she soon realises. Many reach out to him and offer quiet words of thanks and support.
He has the bearing of a leader and these people at least intend to follow him. So does she.
He seems taken aback at first, before gratitude sweeps in. She joins him again as he makes his way back to the hatch and meets her en route, still looking a little bemused by the reaction.
"You were willing to die for them today, Marcus." She reminds him softly. "That's not something anyone here will forget." She knows she certainly won't.
He nods, processing this and its implications before he turns and wordlessly climbs the ladder once more. She begins organising the people left in the station, feeding them up the ladders one by one, trusting Marcus to co-ordinate things from there.
Things run smoothly. People are used to order. To doing as they're told. She glances around the now empty station before looking up and ascending the ladders gain, breathing the sweet, fresh air deep into her lungs once more, wondering if she'll ever get tired of it. She feels Marcus' hand wrap tightly around her forearm and pull her out.
She nods gratefully to him as he ends up taking most of her weight when she slips, not having realised how tired she was until now. He turns to her and eases the med kit from her hands, brushing her hair back gently and examining the wound on her forehead, his hands surprisingly deft and delicate.
"It's fine." She begins, trying to brush him off.
His eyes flick up to meet hers in an unspoken warning not to challenge him on this, "I can't have our doctor dropping on us because no-one thought to take care of her." He informs her quietly, his eyes meeting hers for a moment and keeping her in place as he cleans out the cut.
She decides to easiest thing to do is just to let him get on with it so she ends up talking him through adding a few stitches to hold it, thinking that it's a useful skill to have down here and he may as well practice on her.
Once he's satisfied he takes a step back, withdrawing from her and giving her her space again, his eyes moving over the people on the ground below them.
"We need to decide how this is going to work now." He begins evenly, his arms folded across his chest, looking down keenly at her as though he knew what she was going to say and had already thought of a reply.
They had developed a subtle way of communicating and playing games with each other from opposite sides of a council table over the years. She decided not to disappoint him. And was curious to know if he was on the same page as her as she couldn't' see how he would find a way to argue with her on this. Though he never failed on that front.
"You are still the vice chancellor." She told him simply, "Jaha isn't in a position to lead us anymore. By law that makes you chancellor."
"The same laws you once broke to prevent me from becoming chancellor?" He teased, eyebrows raised slightly, his eyes dancing. She closed her eyes, grimacing and letting a dry laugh bubble through her, giving him this as he went on, "What was it you called it again? The easiest decision you've ever made?"
"Alright, alright. I get the point." She told him, still grinning as he squinted at her out of the corner of eye.
She glared at him, resisting the urge to shove him off the top of the station they were surveying their people from in-case he attempted to find an airlock to march her out of. Though she doubted that he would.
She took a deep breath and followed his gaze as he shifted it across the lake before she said quietly, "A lot's changed." And it had. Everything had changed recently. And she was still trying to catch up to how she felt about everything. "We've changed." She adds. She pauses a moment, letting that sink in before she says firmly, "I trust you, Marcus."
He glances down at her, meeting her eyes, then nods, "Then my first move as chancellor is to make it a joint position."
She stared at him, wondering for a moment if she had misheard or misunderstood him. But he continued to watch her with quiet expectation and eventually she blurted, "Are you sure?"
"Yes." He told her, firmly.
"You risk weakening your position; dividing power before you even start, it could-"
"Yes, Abby." He interrupted firmly, "I'm sure."
"People respect you, Marcus." She told him firmly, "They listen to you." She said.
"They like you." He remarked, smirking.
She nudged him lightly in the ribs.
"I'm still the monster that murdered their loved ones in the cull, remember?" He told her, sobering up a little, his voice strained, his body tensed, despite his attempt at making the words sounds casual and matter-of-fact. "You're a doctor. They respect you too." He said, "They trust you." He went on, adding, "I trust you, Abby. I want you with me on this. I need your help."
She nodded, slipping her hand over his and giving it a gentle squeeze, "You have it."
He nodded back to her in return, "Good." He growled flatly.
It was quiet a moment then, "What are you thinking?" She asked him quietly.
He glanced down at her, raising an eyebrow questioningly at her. She shrugs and says evenly, "You have that look."
He considers this for a moment with a smile ghosting across his lips then takes a deep breath and explains slowly, "The lake here is likely fed by various rivers and streams. Fresh running water."
She nodded, understanding what he wanted then said quietly, "Why don't we stay here? At the lake? The station provides us with more protection than anything else will."
"May be." He agreed, meeting her eyes again, "But the ground here is too flat, too open. Good for a landing. But it's a bad place to set up a safe camp." He explains, "The station's a loss, but we can't live in it. It's too small. If we're attacked it'll be from three sides." He tells her, gently turning her round to follow his gaze and show her what she means, "And we'll be pinned against the lake at our back. It's a blessing and a curse." He tells her, "But the negatives of staying here outweigh the benefits."
"The negatives of staying here depend on us being attacked, which we might not be." She tells him, shaking her head, "You don't have to plan out everything as a soldier, Marcus."
"I do when there's a good chance we've been dropped into the middle of a war, Abby." He tells her firmly, "We know there are people down here besides us. And we know that they weren't on good terms with the 100. They're unlikely to trust us."
"We can try." She tells him, flatly "If we don't arm this camp like a military base we'll have a much better of chance of convincing them that we want peace."
"I don't want to arm us like a military camp." He tells her irritably, "I just want to make sure we can defend ourselves if we have to."
They glare at each other, both breathing a little harder than before and she takes a deep breath, almost laughing at how familiar this all felt. She drags her fingers through her hair, deciding that he's right. She takes a deep breath,
"Okay." She says, "So where do you want us to go?"
"Higher ground." He tells her simply, pointing towards the tree line ahead of them, "The trees will provide us with more shelter from the elements and anyone else that's out there." He tells her, "If we can find a source of running water, chances are it'll be clean, good to drink, which is a start."
"Okay." She says again, nodding in agreement, considering their options now.
"Abby," he murmurs, lightly catching her arm. She turns to him and he says softly, "I think that before we go chasing smoke through the forest we should have something established to come back to."
He knows. He knows that that was exactly what she had in mind. And she almost hates him for it.
He's still watching her, waiting for a response, his arms defensively crossing over his chest, no doubt bracing for another argument, "Let's have it." He presses grimly, his face set.
"What?" She demands, a little too defensively to be indignant.
"You have that look." He informs her flatly, echoing her. She widens her eyes innocently at him. "That means you disagree with me." He tells her with a heavy sigh, "And I spend the next few hours arguing with you and getting nowhere."
"That's a very specific look." She tells him, narrowing her eyes at him.
He doesn't answer, he just smiles knowingly at her and she's tempted to shove him off of the station again.
"Yes." She says finally, irritated at being backed into revealing her position, even if they both know what it is without her formally announcing it, "I disagree." He turns to face her, letting her make her case, "There could be people trapped on that station. They might not make it until you get your camp set-up. We should go and see what we can do to help."
He shakes his head and says ruefully, "By the time we reach them it'll be dark; if it really is another one of the stations." She turned to look up at him again, "Smoke means people." He says, "But it doesn't necessarily mean our people."
She closes her eyes, thinking, trying to process everything, "I just...I feel like I'm abandoning them." She says finally.
"I know." He murmurs softly, "But there's nothing we can do for them in the dark, Abby. Especially if we have nowhere safe to bring them."
She curses faintly under her breath, massaging her temples. He's right. And she knows he's right. But that doesn't stop her from being disgusted with herself. If those people died...But he's right. If they're not careful they could lose everyone in their station as well. They need to make camp and establish themselves before they worry about anyone else.
She just hates admitting that. It feels like she's failed somehow.
"We'll leave at first light." He promises quietly, as though reading her mind, his hand resting gently on her shoulder.
She nods stiffly and says, "Well if we're going let's go."
He nods and lowers himself down to the ground, reaching up and placing his hands securely on her waist and lifts her easily and settles her beside him.
They move among their people side-by-side. They seem to sense that something's happening and begin to slowly gather around them. Waiting for the decision. For their orders.
Marcus stops and lightly brushes her hand with his fingers and encourages her to do the same. She freezes beside him and together they stand and wait as the little group clusters around them, closing in on all sides.
He waits until the people around them settle then takes a deep breath and begin, "We made it to Earth. We survived. Against all odds we survived. And I-" He breaks off for a moment, glancing down at her shifting closer to her before he corrects, "And we intend to make sure that we continue to survive. It will be hard. And we will be tested. But we always have been. And it's never been easy. But we've all made it this far. And there's no reason we won't make it further. Pack up. We leave in ten."
She expects some protest. Some demand for more details and more information but there are none. Their people are exhausted. Worn down by death and disaster and seemingly interminable set-backs. They are here. They are alive. And none of them wants the weight of keeping them that way on their shoulders.
And so they follow. And they follow quietly and without complaint. For now. The unrest would come. The questions. The demands. The accusations. The challenges. But for now. For now the beast of public opinion is content. And she intends to keep it that way. Or at least enjoy it while she can.
She turns to Marcus, a smile tugging at her lips as they father their supplies and belongings and she teases in an undertone, "Short. Sweet...Ish."
"Too much?" He asks grimly, looking mildly uncomfortable.
"No, no it was fine." She tells him, forcing herself to keep a straight face, "You got results. You could maybe have gotten them with a chisel instead of a sledgehammer-"
He groans and she takes pity on him and breaks off, "You're officially in charge of all public announcements." He informs her gruffly.
She smiles at him and nods absently. Something in their relationship has shifted again. There's still that undercurrent of tension between them. There always has been. A sparking of the static that flies every time they're within a few feet of each other. But she enjoys it. The pull that tugs her towards him. The magnetic attraction that draws her to him time and time again. It's familiar. And consistent. When everything else is spiralling into the chaotic unknown.
And he is familiar. There's an ease between them now. Pushing them in the same direction instead of pulling them to opposing sides and threatening to tear them in two. Now there is a sense of unity. A comfort. An understanding.
He stands and moves away from the station that brought them home and she joins him a moment later. The people sprawled around them slowly trickled in behind them. Marcus barks orders at the few soldiers they have with them and they flank the group, protecting them.
They move slowly. And with every minute that crawls by she feels his agitation grow. Even she knows what's bothering him. They are immeasurably vulnerable like this, and he hates it.
They stop on Marcus' command a few hundred feet inside the tree line.
She stares up at him, confused, "Here?" She demands, "There's hardly room to stand between these trees, never mind pitch a tent."
He looks down at her again and she catches a flicker of their old arguments in his eyes as he says with forced patience, "I don't intend to lead this entire group through here. They should be safer here than they were by the lake. We'll leave most of them here with as many soldiers as we can spare and take a smaller group scouting ahead for a suitable location. I've had a look at the maps, I have a place in mind, but I'm not taking everyone there until I'm sure it will work."
She nods. It's a good plan, but she can see he won't follow through without her approval. So she gives it. Then shrugs off her pack and crouches down to it, already striking up a list in her head of the people she wants to check up on if they've stopped.
"You're not coming?" He asks, raising an eyebrow, looking surprised by this.
"My place is here." She replies evenly, shaking her head and adding daringly, "Besides, you're a big boy, Marcus, I'm sure you can handle it without me."
She could have sworn he winked at her but before she can start paying proper attention or has a chance to say anything he's turned and begun picking through the group for those he thinks will be helpful.
He leaves with the promise of return and she reaches out and grips his hand firmly before he goes, only realising how much the move echoes the same gesture she made on the ship when he stood to sacrifice himself for them.
"Be safe, Marcus." She says, in a tone that clearly tells him that that's an order, not a request, her words fuelled by the realisation of how she could easily have been down here alone without him and how eager she was to avoid that.
She watches him and his little party out of sight then moves among their group again, making her rounds. Once she's satisfied herself that everyone is holding together for the most part she settles herself and attempts to contact Jaha again. To update him on what's going on and what they're planning on now.
She's alarmed when she picks up nothing but static over her earpiece. She wanders through the little clusters of people they've broken up in to until she finds Sinclair, sitting quietly beside his wife, one arm wrapped gently around her shoulders.
"Hey." She murmurs, sitting herself down beside them, "Do you mind taking a look at this for me?" She asked, offering the earpiece to Sinclair, "I'm not getting through to the Ark anymore."
"Sure." He agrees, accepting it from her and beginning to examine it.
She turned to Julia while he did so, "How are you holding up?" She asked, giving the other woman's hand a gentle squeeze.
"We're doing okay." She murmurs, one hand resting on her growing stomach as she shifted slightly into a more comfortable position.
"No problems?" Abby presses firmly, "Nothing you're worried about."
"Everything's good with us, Dr. Griffin." She says with a warm smile that Abby can never help returning.
"Okay." She says quietly, "but if you need anything-"
"I know where you'll be." She breaks in, "Saving the world one person at a time as usual."
Abby smiles again then turns back to Sinclair as he says slowly, "The battery's gone. Or rather it's going and so it's conserving." He tells her, adding the second part quickly when she opens her mouth to enquire about the static she was picking up, "It'll still work for a while over a short range, but the Ark's too far away, it knows it would use up all its power just trying to connect."
"So we have no way of contacting Thelonious?" She asks, stricken.
"Maybe." He tells her calmly, "Just not with this." He says, handing her the earpiece again.
She thanks him and then gets to her feet again and moves among the group, quietly explaining what's happening and keeping everyone as calm as she can while they wait.
Kane returns alone within the hour. She hurries over to him, concerned, "Marcus!" She calls out, speeding up, breathing hard by the time she reaches him, "What happened?" She demands, "Where is everyone else, what-"
"Abby relax, everything's fine." He tells her quickly, placing his hands on her shoulders to calm her, "We found a good spot, I left the others setting up." He explains smoothly.
"And you came back alone?" She snarled, temper flaring.
"There was no sense in bringing them all back when they could be starting set-up. That's why I took them in the first place." He tells her irritably.
And she could kill him. Right here and right now. For daring to think after everything that he's so easily disposable. That he doesn't have to take care of himself as well as everyone else.
He catches her anger and begins softly, trying to balance things again before they spill over into a seemingly inevitable argument, "Abby-"
"Are you really so desperate to die today, Marcus?" She spits furiously, beyond any of his for the good of the people and doing what was necessary speeches to try and placate her, pitching away from him and dragging her fingers through her hair in frustration, trying to calm herself down.
"I'm fine, Abby." He growls in a tone that's clearly meant to imply that she's overreacting.
"That is not the point, Marcus." She snaps, taking a step closer to him so that they now stand inches apart, glaring up at him, "That is not even close to the point." She hisses, still breathing hard, affording herself a look round and deciding that, with all eyes on them, now is not the time to start another world war. This will have to wait until later.
"Abby-" He begins, almost reasonably, leaning down to murmur to her.
"Don't." She interrupts flatly, taking several deep breaths to calm herself before saying, "Just, just tell me about this camp you've found."
He nods grimly, as aware as she is that this was far from over. He produced a small notebook from one of the pockets of his jacket. He had a rough sketch of what their camp could look like which he quickly explained to her.
She let him talk her through it as their group packed up once more. She suggested a few slight changes to the layout and pushes a little until he accepts them.
They arrive at the campsite he's chosen and her eyes scan over it as people begin to file inside the ring of torches Marcus' people have planted around the outside of their clearing. She lets him stew anxiously by her side for a few minutes longer than she probably should have done before pronouncing herself satisfied.
She and Marcus spend the next few hours co-ordinating the set-up and watch as the beginnings of a camp begin to unfold under their guidance. People begin erecting and filling up tents around them. After a little while, Abby leaves him to it and installs herself in the medical tent, cataloguing and organising the supplies they have.
Exhausted but satisfied she rejoins the main group outside and takes stock of what's been done. There's a large command tent in the middle of the camp with smaller food and supply stores, weapons holds, and living shelters set up in neat rows and rings feeding away from it.
Neat, even channels between tens have formed under Marcus' guidance and she uses them to easily pick her way towards him. They watch as people retreat into their shelters, clearing the camp but for the two of them and the few members of the guard who've volunteered their services to keep watch over them all for the night.
"Come on." She tells him once everyone else has settled, catching him swaying slightly beside her, looking as tired as she feels, "We should try and get some rest before morning. We need to set up our tent."
"Our?" He repeats, raising an eyebrow at her.
"Neither of us have spouses or children here." She reminds him, "Like it or not, we're the closest thing you or I are going to get to family down here. And all the tents are shared." She says, feeling faintly irritated that she has to remind him of a rule he established only a few hours ago, saying tersely, "If we don't follow our rules no-one else will."
She's too tired to fight him on this now. The sun will be up in a few hours and like it or not, so will she. She needs some rest before then.
"People will talk, Abby." He tells her in mock concern, stopping outside a seemingly empty tent, set evenly halfway between the command tent and medical.
"Let them." She growls irritably.
She couldn't give less of a damn what people thought about their sleeping arrangements. He gestures lightly towards the tent and she ducks gratefully inside without another word and saw that he had already sorted pillows and blankets for both of them.
"I knew you'd miss me too much otherwise." He smirks as he slips in behind her, collapsing down onto one of the blanket sets and watching her.
She curses him under her breath but he either doesn't hear her or chooses to ignore her. He settles, lying down and sorting himself but she stays sitting, hunched up, her knees drawn in to her chest, her arms wrapped tightly around them.
"You should try and get some rest, Abby." He tells her quietly.
She nods, barely listening.
Now that she actually has a chance to stop and rest, she can't. Everything that's happened and everything that could now happen was overwhelming her.
Less than two days ago she had been sure that she was never going to see her daughter again. Less than two days ago she had been sure that she was going to die without ever holding her again, hearing her laugh or seeing her smile. She'd never speak to her again. Never see her again. Never have a chance to fix things between them. And now...Now...
"Abby? Are you alright?" His voice finds her from seemingly miles away and she quickly pulls herself together and manages to say,
"I'm fine, Marcus."
The soft silence he leaves after this tells her he doesn't believe her. That he's giving her the option to talk to him about it if she wants. But she doesn't want. She doesn't even know where to begin.
After a few moments he quietly murmurs, "Alright...Sleep well, Abby."
He turns over then, giving her what privacy he can within the confines of a tent, leaving her to her tangled thoughts.
Exhaustion grips her once more and she forces herself to lie down. Closing her eyes and taking several long, slow breaths, old breathing exercise she used to use to calm patients coming back to her and calming her now.
She finds that once she actually lies down beside him, their body heat keeping each other warm in such close quarters, another one of the reasons he had insisted on sharing, at her advisement, she finds that she is comfortable, and warm, and drifts off almost easily, thoughts of seeing Clarke again cradling her to sleep.
A/N: I will try an update this as regularly as I can, I've got a few chapters written up already so consistent updates for at least another 3-4 chapters and then we shall see. Feedback would be very much appreciated since I've struggled a little bit writing the balance between the two of them. And of course thank you for reading!