Stay

Panting hard, her chest heaving, her eyes closed, she presses her hand more firmly into the small of his back, where it's come to rest after her nails scraped along the length of his spine and makes him pause as he begins to ease himself off of her.

"No." She breathes softly, drawing away from where she had buried her face in the crook of his neck, a series of faint red marks left etched on the surface of his skin to betray her presence to anyone paying attention.

Looking up at him she clarifies her last instruction in respond to his questioning gaze, "Stay." She asks quietly, her hand flattening out against his back and holding him to her, not letting him draw away.

The feeling of him moving away from his place on top of her, even if it's only to settle down beside her leaves her feeling strangely naked and vulnerable every time it happens. She likes the feel of his body against hers, his skin hot against hers, his weight pressing down against her, the pressure that congeals between them and makes her feel for an instant that she might not be completely alone down here.

After a moment spend considering this proposal when his arms begin trembling from the effort of holding himself just above her to prevent crushing her beneath him, he compromises and refrains from withdrawing entirely from her which he's assumed, correctly, to be her issue and the reason for her request and flips them instead, placing himself beneath her and settling her down on top, her head on his chest, her eyes closing again as she once again feels the pleasant warmth that radiates from his skin envelope her. Accepting this she lets her body relax against his, settling in against him until they fit better together.

Eyes closed she's vaguely aware of the sound of his breathing and the steady rise and fall of his chest as he begins to settle out before the vague sense of uncertainty steals over her as it always does immediately after they do this, creeping through her bones and making her shiver, a sudden chill settling over her, despite the heat that pulses against her.

Groaning faintly, she mumbles, still breathing a little harder than usual, "What did we just do?" Her fingers drag through her dishevelled hair, making it even more tangled than it was before with the number of times he'd dragged his hands through it already.

Somehow, despite this hopeless sighing demand and the sentiment behind it, she finds herself settling down, almost unconsciously, against him, her head resting absently on his chest, the sensation of him sliding his fingers through her hair, spreading it out across his chest to stop it irritating him as they lie together strangely soothing in the calm that follows the storm that just swept through them.

His heart hammers against his ribs, clearly audible to her with the way she's lying on top of him, her body rising and falling gently with the rhythm of his breathing, a feeling that's become altogether too familiar too her recently.

Every time they had fallen into bed together she had sworn to herself that it would be the last time. She had insisted as she left him that she would never want this again, that she would never need this again, that she would never need him again, never be with him again like this. Yet every time her body, and, with ever increasing frequency of late, her heart had betrayed her head and she had found herself tumbling ever so willingly back into this mess with him over and over again and here she was once more.

A part of her knows she needs this, knows she needs him, knows she probably always will, in one way or another. Another part of her thinks this is an unnecessary indulgence, something that makes her feel guilty because of Jake and because of Clarke which makes it more complicated than it needs to be. And still yet another part of her is scared about what it could become, where it might lead. She doesn't know if she's ready to fall for someone else again, she doesn't know if she ever will be, not fully, not after the way she lost Jake, the agony of his death that still keeps her awake some nights. To go through that again would be...And down here, somewhere so perilous, so ready to claim anyone without reservation or warning, where she could lose someone she might dare to love so easily.

It's all too much.

Missing this internal turmoil he just offers her a faint smile and a flippant suggestion, "Each other?" In response to her query making her open one eye to glower dangerously up at him and catch the faint amusement in his eyes and in the line of his mouth as it tugs itself into a small half smile for her.

His fingers, which had been murmuring softly over her back, sketching countless interminable patterns and shapes against her slick skin, as though it's a canvas and his hands are attempting to place some unknown masterpiece against her bones suddenly stop. She almost asks him to start again but before she can, she feels him draw his hand up to lightly massage the nape of her neck instead, trying to work the tension that's suddenly curved its way up her spine, drawing it back like a bowstring making her feel taut and uncomfortable all over again, the tension of the last few days she had just relieved again flooding back in tangible pulses that he can sense too.

"What is it, Abby?" He breathes quietly to her, leaning down and tugging one of the thin, scratchy sheets up over them, in part fearing her to be cold, in part wanting her to settle and just stay the night with him and let herself have this time that he knows she needs to take for herself.

The sheet slowly crushes the cushion of air suspending it a foot or so above their delicately entwined bodies and settles itself on top of them while she's still struggling to process how a clipped, tense debate over rationing plans for the fast approaching Winter had turned into rough sex in the bowels of the fallen Ark had turned into this; something tender and affectionate, his concern for her palpably radiating out towards her and this gentleness that she would never have expected from him just a short while ago.

Trying to formulate an answer to his question several times she finally gives up, shaking her head and muttering tersely, "I don't know."

It's the truth. There's no harm in her sleeping with him, really, they're both adults. Both adults who see a lot of each other and who have an incredibly stressful job trying to keep everyone alive and safe but it's all too complex and more and more she's realising that this is no longer just sex for her anymore, it's something...Something else, something more. And she doesn't think she's ready for something more, not yet, not with him, not with anyone. But she has no idea how to try and put that into words for him right now and no desire to either because saying it out loud would make it all real and add yet another problem to their growing lists and that's the last thing she wants to do.

Making a sudden, impulsive decision, she pushes herself away from him, swinging her legs off of the low makeshift bed until her toes brush over the clothes strewn floor which she reaches out towards, bending down and snatching up the first soft piece of fabric her fingers brush against, which turns out to be his shirt.

The pause this forces her to take gives him enough time to curl a gentle hand around her hip. There's very little pressure in the gesture and no threat or compulsion but she finds herself half twisting back to him to explain vaguely in a clipped voice, "I have to go."

His only answer is to stir behind her as she continues searching for her clothes ,making the sheet rustle as it slips down off of his body as well. A moment later he slides in behind her, his chest pressing flat against her back, his body wrapping slightly and snugly around hers, both arms wrapping around her waist, his hands clasping in front of her stomach, holding her ever so gently against him and preventing her from continuing her futile, despondent search, too uncertain of whether or not she wants to find her clothes and slip out to actually put enough hurt into doing it to achieve anything, which he knows.

"No." He murmurs softly and gently, leaning in, his chin resting against her shoulder, his lips feathering her neck once more until she finds herself lifting her head and tilting away from him on instinct to give him better access to the soft column of her throat she's exposed for him.

Groaning she swallows hard and grips the sheets beneath her in one hand, eyes closing, the sensations that are travelling up and down her nerves in response to his ministrations making it even harder to say what she must, "Don't." He pauses for half a moment but there's no weight at all in her breathy word that tells him she actually means what he says and he returns to what he was doing a second later making a soft whine escape her despite her best efforts to contain it, "Don't do that." She breathes hopelessly, shuddering faintly in his arms.

"Why?" He murmurs, pausing once more long enough to murmur the word against her skin, his breath hot and unfairly inviting.

"I, I have patients." She manages to mumble feebly, feeling one hand stretch up and tangle faintly in his hair, keeping his lips against her neck even as she tries to insist that she needs to leave, "People that I have to attend to. People that I have to take care of."

"And who's taking care of you?" He interrupts softly, drawing away more fully this time so that he can look her in the eye now, his hands settling protectively across her stomach again, his fingers hot against her bare skin, making her shiver for reasons entirely separate from the faint whispers of cold air that have started to stray across her exposed flesh.

Something hardening in herself and in her tone she answers stiffly, "I take care of myself just fine." She asserts firmly, starting to shift away from him, redoubling her efforts to slip away before this can irrevocably cross a line into territory she's not yet comfortable exploring with him.

"Really?" He demands, catching her wrist between his fingers and stopping her, holding her in place without any force, his eyes pinning her more than his touch as he demands flatly, "When was the last time you slept a whole night through?"

Staring at him she tugs herself free of his grip and answers, trying to stop her voice from shaking, "When I needed to, I-"

"You need to now." He breaks in quietly, refusing to let her get any further in her empty insistences.

Anger comes to her aid once more after a brief moment of tense, frozen silence, rearing in her chest like an angry snake and nipping on the corners of her empty worries, of her guilty feelings, of the emotions that blossom uncontrollably in her soul whenever she looks directly into his eyes that she doesn't know how to process or contain or control that terrify her because they make her vulnerable and raw again, the way she was with Jake, a way that she never wanted to be again.

"Excuse me?" She hisses faintly, putting as much venom into her words as possible, wanting to make him back off and stop pressing her on this subject before all of those things come spilling out of her and reveal to him the depths of her feelings and insecurities that she's not ready for him to see just yet, "We have sex and suddenly you think that you can play shrink with me and tell me what I need, what I do?"

"You know that's not what I'm doing here." He says, cutting smoothly across her, infuriatingly calm even as she feels her emotions rise and toss within her like a sea in storm, unhinging her.

And usually when this happens their emotions get the better of them together and they lose control together and he's on the same page with her the whole way as they spiral deeper and deeper into their argument and he gives as good as he gets from her in kind. But now this is different, as she tries to bait him, tries to draw him into this, tries to make him feel what she feels, tries to get that rise out of him he remains as calm and steady as he can.

She runs into a wall of flat, cold resistance at every turn, like a sheet of ice concealing the heaving mass of wreck and ruin that she's used to from him and she doesn't know how to combat this, there are no hand holds in this, no cracks that she can worm her way in to to find the upper hand and she finds silence stilling her protests, at a loss for words, opening up the field for him to keep speaking, keep needling away at the defences she's thrown up against him that, only a moment ago, she would have sworn were as iron.

"You're exhausted." He tells her flatly, "That isn't me trying to tell you how you think or feel, Abby, that's just plain fact."

Glaring at him she snaps childishly, "We're all exhausted, Kane."

He lets the sting of that glance off of him barely flinching and continues in his steady, calm, matter-of-fact tone, "We all need sleep, we all need to look after ourselves every now and then." He reminds her, his words almost gentle now, "It's why we have a rota in place down here. So that one person doesn't go all out and try and save the world in a single night and kill themselves in the process."

"I'm not." She says, shaking her head, her voice suddenly reduced back down to his level. Without his anger to keep overtopping and upping her own she finds that it dies away as though it had never been, leaving her feeling drained. Taking a deep breath she tries again, making her tone as rational as she can, "I have people to tend to, I have people that need me-"

"I need you." He whispers, his words so faint she barely hears them and wouldn't have believed they had come from him at all if she hadn't seen his lips moving to form them an instant before he uttered them.

Surprise strips her of her ability to speak for a moment and instead she just stares at him, meeting his gaze when he lifts his eyes to look directly at her and say softly, "I'm asking you to stay, Abby. I'm asking you to stay here tonight. I'm asking you to stay with me. I'm telling you that I need you to."

Shock crashes through her system, overwhelming every other emotion that had gone before it, a tidal wave crashing against a shore and sweeping away everything else, leaving no evidence of their argument behind in the wake of this.

This isn't a sentiment that he chooses to express often or freely, if at all. She can't remember the last time, in the years that she's known him, he quietly and simply stated that he needed someone else, anyone else ,much less her. This isn't what he does, this isn't who he is, or at the very least this isn't who he presents himself to be to anyone else. He's the one that people look to, that people need, but never one who needs others in his turn.

The raw emotion behind his words stills her and softens her almost at once and she finds herself reaching out to him, her fingers softly and absently brushing his jaw, feeling the faint pull of the rough stubble spattered across his cheeks as she does so, her eyes still locked with his.

When they had started hooking up with one another like this they had both made it perfectly plain to one another that this was just an arrangement of convenience. It was something physical, something instinctual, something that they needed just to get by down here without the weight of pressure and tension bearing down on them becoming too much. They had both accepted those terms, both returned to one another, to this, again and again on those terms, against her better judgement sometimes, but always with the understanding that this was never going to be anything more than sex.

But now he's asking her for more. Now he's looking into her eyes and telling her he needs her. Now he's asking her to stay. With him and for him and she realises how much of a toll the past few months have taken on him, how much of a toll the past few years have taken on him and the added effort its required on his part to stop that from breaking through to the surface. Except now it has, here, with her and she realises in that instant that he's as terrified of this as she is and that he's been feeling what she's been feeling and has been just as unsure what to do with it as her.

And it becomes clear too, why he had arrived at medical to see her so late. To discuss some trivial matter from before that she had already forgotten about when he brought it back up as though it was a matter of life and death. Knowing her and knowing that it would get her back up just the way he wanted to. Knowing that it would make her blood boil and rage and burn through her with a fury that couldn't be ignored after the day's tensions. Knowing that he would end up slamming her against a wall while she snarled his name and still hissed that she was right even as she kissed him and began to tug and tear at his clothes.

And now, he also seemed to know how she would react to this, because she's doing what he wants. As he leans back down onto the bed, his eyes never leaving hers, she finds herself following him and sinking back down with him, as though there's some magnetic pull between her bodies that draws her to him, that can't bear to allow them to have so much space between them, that compels her to fill it once more. And she does. She's slipping back down and fitting her body against his, letting him drape his arms around her, letting him draw her back in, envelope her in his embrace, the scratchy sheets pulled up around them once more, sealing them together, their bodies entwined once more.

And something about all of this feels right, something about having his body pressed around hers feels right, makes her feel complete again, staves off the terrible burning, biting loneliness that's gnawed away at her ever since Jake's death. It makes her forget that she's alone because it reminds her that she's not, that somehow, someway, she has him.

He carefully positions her against him, her head resting on his chest once more, her soft form pressing as close to him as he can have it, their bodies fitting together with the sense that they were made this way, or rather ,that they were broken this way. Every ragged edge and broken line of hers fits seamlessly into his in a way it would never have done before they had been dragged through Hell and back together.

Once she settles he wraps an arm around her, his fingers murmuring lightly over her wrist, stopping when he feels the steady thrum of her pulse, calming him, reassuring him and he closes his eyes when he realises he can feel every breath she takes press against him too and that settles him, properly settles him and steadies him for the first time since they landed here, for the first time in so long he had almost forgotten what this felt like; to feel safe, to feel calm, to feel alright.

Lightly stroking her hair, closing his eyes, he whispers his thanks on a forgotten breath that's nearly lost in the darkness that's expanding around them to swallow them whole. Her eyes are closing too, and she's slowly sinking into sleep, accepting the fact that he was right, that she was exhausted, that she did need this, did need him to slow her and stop her and make her take a moment to pause long enough to let her exhaustion drain her body and force her to rest.

She's glad that he stopped her, glad that he was honest with her, glad that she can feel him relaxing around her, his body melting into hers as he too begins to drift into the waiting silent expanse of peaceful oblivion on the other side of shuttered eyelids and finally quiet thoughts.

Both of them lie there, using their last moments before sleep sweets over them entirely to silently pray that no-one will decide to wander the fragmented Ark station in search of some lost tool or slice of peace even as they have and then no doubt make them the talk of the Ark for who knows how long afterwards.

But it's a fleeting worry and she doesn't have time to let it trouble her overmuch. She's already letting herself relax in to him, her head drifting to his pillow against his shoulder, her fingers fumbling for a few seconds before they find his and squeeze gently.

And as she slips firmly into sleep, she thinks dimly, that she's starting to get so so good at telling herself that she doesn't care about so many things, things that are a constant torment when she's alone, that somehow never seem as important when she's with him.