Title: Keep You Close to Me
Spoilers: We Are Grounders (Part 1 & 2)
Summary: And her heart lay somewhere in the middle being ping ponged back and forth between sanity and insanity. She knew what she desperately wanted, but she was scared to admit to both herself and to him.
A/N: Companion piece to Guide You Through the Deep. Do you have to read the first one to understand the second one? Possibly not, but it certainly couldn't hurt.
Her insides churned. She had no idea if this plan of Jaha's would work. It could be nothing more than wishful thinking, but without hope, you had nothing. Or that's what she'd always told Clarke. And could she really afford not to have any? One thing was for certain. The Ark was dying. And they were dying right along with it if they chose to do nothing. So this was their only shot to make it to the ground.
As Sinclair started to go over things with his engineers and Chancellor Jaha, she took the opportunity to excuse herself. She had medical supplies to pack away. Just the essentials. The people would need every inch of available floor space in the zones to which Sinclair deduced stood the better chance of surviving entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
And with her leaving Marcus' bed the way in which she had, it still left her stomach on edge. She didn't want to think about what it was they had actually done. Or more so, what it even meant. She had avoided his eyes at all costs. She wasn't ready to go there. Not yet. Not with him. Sooner or later, she'd be out of room to run, and then she'd face it head on, face it like she should have upon waking up naked and in his arms.
The hand on her elbow and the force with which she was whirled about startled her, causing her to cry out from shock and not pain. That was, until she saw his face. Then she relaxed in his grip and stepped into him, almost as if she was being pulled forward by some unseen force. Her lips parted, "Marcus..." "Abby," he spoke softly. His eyes moving all about her features, trying to decide what it was that he'd done wrong. Had he been to rough? To gentle? He loosened his grip on her arm and let his hand fall to his side. He watched as her hair fell down into her face and covered her eyes. His hand came up once more and gently tucked it back behind her ear. "You were just...gone."
It wasn't accusatory. It was more concern than anything else that she heard in his tone. With an underlying hurt. It gripped her heart, causing it to skip a beat. She wet her lips quickly with the tip of her tongue and tried to do the same to her dry throat by swallowing. "I had patients." Not an altogether lie, but not exactly the truth.
The truth was that in the early waking hours of that morning, she had so many conflicting emotions. Ones that started with the guilt she felt because it felt like she was betraying Jake and ended with Marcus Kane being her sworn enemy. And her heart lay somewhere in the middle being ping ponged back and forth between sanity and insanity. She knew what she desperately wanted, but she was scared to admit to both herself and to him.
He nodded slowly. He knew she spoke in half truths. "You weren't-you aren't just a means to end. You know that, right? You know I can't-I couldn't ever be with you unless it meant something. That it was special." He didn't avert his eyes not once as he spoke. His voice wavered only when he thought of her not returning his feelings. "You're special to me, Abby."
Her heart pounded in her ears. It felt like it was going to beat right out of her chest as her hand came up to clutch her throat. She couldn't look away from him now. Not after he'd been so open, so honest. Her lips quivered as his gaze on her intensified. She placed her hand over his heart. "You're special to me, too, Marcus."
She felt his hands move to her hips. He moved her backwards several steps until her back pressed against the hallway wall. He had managed to find a bit of her skin as her shirt had ridden up on her waist. His thumb danced about on her hip. It caused a shiver to skate up her spine, making her whole body quiver. She moved her hands to his upper arms, gripping them firmly to keep herself grounded. "Really special."
But was it love? She couldn't be sure. So to give him false hope, to give him what could be a lie, wasn't fair. So she bit her tongue. She held back. She found herself always holding back with him.
He stepped into her, pressing against her in a manner that was almost like what they'd shared the night before only they were fully dressed. It didn't diminish the intimacy of the scene as it stretched out before them. He pressed a gentle, lingering kiss to her forehead. "I know this isn't easy for you." And how could it be? Chances of her seeing her daughter again were slim to none. And as if right now, Clarke thought she had burnt up when the Exodus ship exploded upon impact with Earth.
Her eyes moved up his body and finally locked onto his. His hazel irises danced as he searched her brown ones. She slid her hands from his arms and up under his arms so that she could step into him. When she felt his arms encircle her, she relaxed and leaned against his broad chest, allowing his arms to support her. She, for all intents and purposes, was home. He'd felt like home the night before when they'd made love. He felt like home now when he did little more than stroke her skin or hold her tight. The part of her that belonged only to Marcus was okay with what might happen. With how it might end.
She could go to her death knowing that everything she'd done, she'd done with a clear conscious and her heart in the right place. Always.
As she sat there on the Mecha station floor, gripping the safety strap and closing her eyes, she prayed to whatever higher power that she get to the ground. That she get to see her daughter again. Even if just for a moment. She'd take it. And it's all she wanted. All she ached for.
Jaha finished the Traveler's Blessing. "May we meet again," she said softly, hearing Marcus' utterance of the words beside her. She glanced at him, locking eyes with him for a moment. Just a fleeting one. There would be no proclamations of love, no sudden affection, nothing. They were leaving this life the same way they lived it. As friends. As tentative former lovers at best.
It was just better this way she had decided. Better this way and only because if something happened and she made it and he did not, then it couldn't hurt her. She'd convinced herself of this fact. She listened as Sinclair counted down their launch, and then there was nothing but absolute silence. There was momentary confusion as she looked from Sinclair to Marcus then back down to her drawn up knees. It had been too good to be true. Her heart lurched almost violently.
As she listened to Sinclair inform the Chancellor that they'd need a manual override, she couldn't imagine who would be brave enough to put the lives of everyone else on the Ark above their own. The buckles to her right are unfastened, and she doesn't register at first, but then she felt the ache in the pit of her stomach as she realized just who was volunteering. Her arm snapped out, reaching all the way across him to halt his movements.
"What are you doing?" Her voice wavered a bit, but not noticeable to anyone else but the two of them. Their eyes met. Everything became crystal clear in that one moment. That one millisecond when she imagined making it to the ground without him. Without Marcus. She was in love with him. So deeply in love with him that she'd been a fool to try and keep it from them both.
"Someone has to stay behind, Abby." In those six simple, yet so very complicated, words, he attempted to make amends for every life that had been responsible for taking too soon. Every life that he was responsible for cutting short. He had to do this. There was no other way to him. But her hand still rested overtop of his, and his heart pounded in his chest. They'd left so much unspoken. Thought it would be better this way, and now he gave affirmation of that fact.
"There has to be another way," she insisted. Her attention directed at Sinclair.
Sinclair informed her, "I can go back and reprogram the system, but it'll take time. We'll miss the window for the Eastern United States. We won't land anywhere near the hundred."
Abby is ferocious in her insistence. "Then we'll wait for it to come back around again."
Marcus knew they'd be out of air. He knew in his heart that Abby was fighting a losing battle. That she can't change what has to happen. It is inevitable. And she had to accept it, and she had to let him go.
"The Ark will be out of air by then," Sinclair regretfully informed her.
Abby felt Marcus' eyes on her. She knew he is about to give her some song and dance about the right thing to do. That it was necessary, but she isn't any more ready for it then she had been to tell him how she felt. She frowned slightly as she swallowed back the lump in her throat.
He took her hand gently in his, squeezing it as he speaks only to her. "Salvation comes at a price." His eyes lingered on hers for a moment longer before he pushes himself to stand. His hand slid out of hers as he stood. He looked around at everyone seated inside the station. Then he felt her hand in his bandaged one and felt her squeeze it gently but firmly. The burns barely registered the pressure of her final goodbye to him.
She watched as the people of the Ark touched his hand. They thanked him for his sacrifice. Her heart can't take anymore, so she turned away. She asked softly, "How much air will he have?"
"A week. Two weeks at most." Sinclair only held Abby's eyes for a moment. He had watched the two of them share their final moments, and he knew deep in his heart that more had just passed between them than a simple fairwell between friends.
The loud explosion and the violent shake as the Ark disengaged like it had original been programed to do startled all the Ark inhabitants into confusion. Abby watched as Marcus stumbled and almost fell before he caught his balance and looked around to see what had happened.
Sinclair studied his computer, shock evident in his voice. "We're away. We're away. We've launched." He checked the status of the Ark, relieved when he finds it intact. No problems were evident. It had happened just as they planned it would.
Abby's voice is startled, yet proud. "How?"
"Godspeed, my friends." Thelonious' voice carried across the airwaves. "Godspeed."
Thelonious's voice shocked her, saddened her more, as she realized exactly what had happened. He'd gotten to sacrifice himself for their people after all. She places her finger to her earpiece and asks the question she already knew the answer to. "Thelonious, where are you?"
"Right where I'm supposed to be." The Chancellor comes through loud and clear. He had every intention of getting her to the ground, of reuniting her with Clarke. "You'll see your daughter soon."
Marcus made his way back to his seat. His eyes locked on hers. He reached for her hand and squeezed it reassuringly. He mind is still a blur of emotions. One minute he was set to die for these people, set to leave her behind, and spend the remainder of his days without her. And now he had a reprieve. Another second chance. This time he refused to waste it.
She let him take her hand. As he lay it gently on her knee where he held it tightly, he managed to buckle up one handed. She felt him squeeze her fingers. Her eyes moved over to him. Their eyes met, and it was as if they just knew that when they got to the ground, they'd have that talk. The talk that would change everything. She tried to settle in and dig deep as their journey wasn't over. The trip wasn't going to be long, but it was going to take some time.
She prepared herself mentally for the Ark to enter the atmosphere. Sinclair had informed them all that it was coming, and she had never been more grateful for Marcus Kane than she had in that very moment. Her eyes clenched tight. "I'm coming, Clarke." And she was. She would reach the ground, and she would find her daughter, and she would make things right.
It was in that moment that she felt Marcus' hand squeeze hers. She opened her eyes. Her body turned into his, curled around his larger frame as if he could protect her from what was to come. As if he was to be her on personal savior. She felt him shifting, taking her into his arms as closely as the safety straps would allow. Her face pressed into his neck as her hand curled into his shirt just as they enter the atmosphere.
The turbulence is almost too much for him. Almost too much that he wanted to scream for it to be over. And just as quickly as it started, it stopped. They were free falling to Earth, and he could only hope that they didn't exceed seventy miles per hour, or they were dead on impact.
His face pressed against hers. His mouth rested at her ear. "I've got you. I've always got you." There is an abrupt halt. Their bodies jarred and banged against one another and whatever surface nearest to them as they made contact with the ground. He doesn't register anything but her body curled into his.
The lights are flicker out. The Ark's systems had failed. There was no way to know if it was momentary or permanent or if the emergency generator would have it back online for a short time. She pushed her face deeper into his neck and breathed out, "Marcus, I love you. I've loved you. I should have said it before. I should have said it when it counted. I know, but I had to be sure. I had to be sure…" She felt his fingers gently come to rest under her chin and lift her face. Even in the darkness, she knew what was to come.
Their lips met in a kiss. A tender kiss that lingered until the lights flickered once, twice, and then remained on. The eerie glow illuminated her face as he pulled back and gave her the smile he that he had always reserved only for her. "Doesn't matter when you said it. Just matters that you said it." He leaned in and just before their lips met once more, he breathed, "And I love you, too, Abby. I love you, too."
And now that they were safely on the ground, anything was possible. And the adventure had only just begun.