"Come on, Raven," Octavia whines, long and drawn out, leaning one hip against the edge of Raven's desk. She sweeps aside the mound of tools and electrical parts scattered across its surface, and plunks down a wooden bowl half-filled with paper strips. "It's an ancient Earth tradition."

"That's funny," Raven says from her seat, head bowed over a tangled pile of wires and fried heating coils - casualties of Camp Jaha's latest power malfunction. Smoke wafts from the hot end of the soldering iron clutched in her hand as she touches the tip to a contact point. "I don't recall it being covered in any of my Earth History classes."

"Yeah, well, I think we've established that the Ark didn't have the most accurate intel on what was happening on Earth." Octavia jerks her thumb towards the engineering workshop's window. Lincoln is visible through the windowpane, leading a group of Grounders in a firearms training drill. "You know, just little things – like the fact that we weren't the only humans left after the war."

Raven tenses her jaw and remains hunched over the desk, her eyes trained on the electronic components jumbled in front of her. "Go away, O. I've got better things to do."

Octavia picks up the bowl and swirls it in the air under Raven's nose, the papers rattling as they spiral around. "It's not rocket science, Raven. You pick a name and get that person a gift. And then everyone will open their presents at the celebration."

Raven leans back with a huff, dropping the soldering iron onto the table and cocking her head at Octavia. "A gift? We've had two blizzards since the start of the month and I've had to fix the power grid three times this week alone. We can barely scrounge up enough food to survive in this weather and you want me to find a gift for someone? What am I supposed to do, put some yarn on a twig and call it art?"

"I don't care if you decorate a twig, or a button, or a broken battery cell. This is just supposed to be a nice thing you do for someone." Octavia ducks her head, voice turning wistful for a moment. "It's been a rough couple of years. Just thought we could all use a little cheering up." She pokes Raven in the shoulder, twisting her index finger into the muscles there. "Even superheroes like you."

If Octavia's resorted to stroking Raven's ego, this whole gift exchange thing must be important to her.

Her enthusiasm is motivation enough for Raven to decide to participate, but she can't resist messing with Octavia a little more. "So if this is about cultural understanding, why aren't we exchanging gifts with the Grounders?"

"Well I just found out about this tradition, like, yesterday," Octavia says, tapping her heel against the desk leg.

Between her interest in getting to know Grounder customs and her relationship with Lincoln, Octavia's been a fantastic bridge between the two cultures. Cooking demonstrations, song nights, skill games – she's constantly spearheading some new pet project, and at a rate that threatens to give them all whiplash.

"And the Grounders picked all their names out weeks ago," Octavia continues, wrapping her arms around the bowl and cradling it against her lap. "This year we'll just do it between the Sky People, but maybe next year it'll be a proper exchange."

Raven snorts. "Next year?" Since arriving on Earth, they haven't exactly had the greatest luck with things going as planned – one misconception after another has led to so much damage and countless lost lives. "You mean barring another major misunderstanding that leads to all-out war?"

Octavia heaves out an exasperated sigh. "This is the kind of thing that's supposed to prevent more major misunderstandings. You know, learning about each other. Taking part in each other's customs. But fine, you don't have to do it." She pushes away from the desk, slowly tiptoeing backwards out of the room, taunting Raven as she goes. "You'll be the only one though – everyone else is super excited about it. And if you bow out now I'll have to dig through all these names, pull yours out…"

Raven throws her hands up into the air. "Geez, O, you're like a ninja master of guilt. Fine, whatever, give me the damn bowl."

With a wry smirk, Octavia returns to her side and holds the container out in front of her. Raven reaches in, rummaging around for a moment, then pulls out a slip of paper.

She squeezes her eyes shut and takes a deep breath, exhaling loudly through her nose, before she peeks at the name.

Just please don't let it be Murphy.

After helping avert the A.L.I.E. disaster, Murphy's been allowed back in camp, and has been decidedly less homicidal this time around. They've all done both horrible and admirable things in the name of survival, but the brace on Raven's leg won't let her forget his actions any time soon. She might now be able to stand next to Murphy in the mess hall line with civility, but it doesn't mean she wants to get the guy a present.

Her eyes blink open, scanning the name penciled in Octavia's messy handwriting:

"Abby Griffin"

Raven's mouth goes dry, and she bites her lower lip, chewing at it lightly.

Oh damn. I just had to pick her.

Of anyone in camp, Abby deserves something a lot nicer than some crappy gift cobbled together from their limited resources. In retrospect, it might have been less challenging to pick a gift for the guy who had shot Raven in the back.

"There, that wasn't so hard, was it?" Octavia flicks the back of the paper with her fingernail. "Now you just have to get them a gift, and don't tell anyone who you got! Secret Santa, remember?"

Raven's shoulders sag, her tone low and grumbling. "Yeah, yeah. I got it. It's not rocket science."

Octavia cranes her neck, trying to see what's written on the strip of paper. "Did you get someone you don't like?"

"No, the opposite," Raven murmurs, balling the paper up in her fist and shoving her hand under the desk, hiding the strip in her lap.

Octavia furrows her brow. "What the hell does that mean?"

Oh, just that I have to try to get something that's not a total piece of shit for the one person I'd actually like to impress.

Raven puffs out a sharp breath through her nose. "Nothin'," she says, deflecting the question with a shake of her head. No one knows about her more than likely one-sided attraction to Clarke's mom, and she intends to keep it that way.

"Hey, don't flake out on me now."

She has no idea what she's going to do, but there's no way she's going to let Abby down – the thought of her expecting a gift and then receiving nothing actually makes Raven's stomach churn. She looks Octavia square in the eyes, her voice firm and resolute. "Don't worry, O, I won't."

Raven waves a hand over the debris on her desk, then shoos at Octavia. "Now get out of here and let me work, so I can keep us all from freezing to death."

Octavia's arm snaps up into a mock salute, then she turns towards the door, her long, braided ponytail swaying from side to side as she strides out.

Alone once again, Raven unfurls the crumpled paper in her hand. She traces her index finger over the letters of Abby's name, the Grounder's crude, recycled paper bumpy and rough against her skin. She folds the rectangular strip in half before tucking it into the pocket of her jeans. Slouching forward, she plops her elbows onto the desk and drops her forehead into her hands, rubbing at her temples with her thumbs.

What the hell am I going to get her?

The queue outside the dining hall spills out from the double doors, winding across part of the courtyard, and into the space between the adjacent building. The sun does little to light or heat the area, its diminishing rays already obscured by a dim, overcast sky. Normally a bank of floodlights helps illuminate the central courtyard and nominally warm the air, but at the moment its unlit bulbs loom idly from above. The people in line are huddled close to one another, swathed in heavy coats, scarves, and gloves. Some rub their hands together or clutch their children against their chests, others hop from foot to foot, trying anything to keep warm in the encroaching darkness.

As Raven passes by, she spots Harper carrying a stack of dirty food trays towards the wash basins.

"Hey, Harper."

Harper starts to wave at her but the pile of trays in her arms nearly topples. "Hey, Raven," she says, voice strained as she tries to juggle them back under control.

"Is Abby inside?" Raven asks, jerking her head towards the dining hall. "Or still in Medical?"

"I haven't seen her in the hall. Everything ok?"

"Yeah, just Wick being a klutz. I'll catch you later."

Harper nods goodbye at her, and Raven continues on towards the section of the fallen Ark now serving as the medical bay.

" – the hunters haven't brought anything back in days and the river's close to completely frozen, we'll have to hike miles for fresh wa – "

Raven detects the raised, agitated voice as she reaches the entryway. Abby's response is muffled, too low and calm to hear, and Raven can't quite tell who the man speaking to her is – but her hackles raise at the tone he's taking with Abby.

Raven enters, and immediately rolls her eyes.


In an effort to be more open and transparent than the secretive councils of the past, Abby has opened council meetings to any who would like to attend. Caspian raises a stink at nearly every single one, complaining and asking pointless questions, often seemingly just for the sake of it. He's apparently no longer content to wait for council meetings to voice his concerns.

Abby's cornered next to her work table, jaw clenched tightly, holding her palms out towards Caspian in a pacifying gesture. "If you'll just listen for a mo – "

"And what about the talk of an avalanche threat? If we lose access to the road to Polis – "

"Enough!" Abby's commanding voice rings out against the thick, metal walls. "We have plenty of dried food left over from the summer to get us through until the hunters have more luck. The weather's supposed to warm up soon, and if it doesn't we can dip into the water stored in the rain barrels if needed. And I'm sure the Grounders will help us map out a new, safe trail to Polis if the mountainside becomes too bad. There is no reason to panic."

"Well, what about the power?" He points up at the overhead lights. A red glow cascades down over the instruments and gurneys in the bay, the emergency system supplying only the essential areas with a minimum of power.

Abby breathes out a relieved sigh, her body visibly relaxing when she finally notices Raven's presence. She sends a pleading glance at her over Caspian's shoulder.

"I'll have it back on before morning." Raven crosses her arms over her chest, scowling at Caspian when he whips around at the sound of her voice.

He opens his mouth, jaw working silently, no doubt trying to come up with something else to complain about. "But – "

"Raven's on it," Abby says, halting any further protests with a raised hand. "If you don't have faith in her by now, I don't know what to tell you."

Raven's heart skips a beat at the conviction in Abby's tone, and Caspian directs his eyes to the floor, nodding reluctantly.

"There's more blankets if you need them in the meantime. And Bellamy will man the courtyard fire tonight until well after dinner is served." Abby places a hand on his back and starts to usher him outside. "We're all in this together. We'll get through it. Ok?"

Caspian takes a deep breath, the tension now drained from his face. "Ok," he says with a faint smile. "Thank you for your time, Chancellor."

Abby inclines her head at him. "Of course. And let me know if your son needs anything."

Raven waits to speak until Caspian has fully exited the building. "You have far more patience than I do."

"It comes with the job. And his son has some lasting oxygen deprivation damage from the Ark." She purses her lips into a forlorn smile and runs her hand through her hair. "He just worries, like the rest of us."

The explanation, the reminder that some of them are scarred on behalf of battles being fought by others, diffuses most of Raven's irritation. "I guess everyone's a little extra stressed out right now."

Abby lifts one eyebrow. "How's your back?"

Raven squints in confusion, before shaking her head. "Oh, it's fine. I just came in to get some bandages."

Abby shoots towards her, eyes surveying her body from head to toe. "Are you hurt?"

"No, no, it's Wick. He cut his hand stripping some wires." Raven scrunches up her nose. "And I kinda used all the bandages in the first aid kit to slap a radio antenna back together last week, so…"

Abby tilts her head, glaring at her from beneath her lashes, but walks over to a supply cabinet. She peers into the different drawers, pulling out gauze, tape, and a variety of adhesive bandages. "How bad is it? Is it something I need to… oh, shit!"

She slams the cabinet shut and rushes back over to her work table. Picking up a specimen dish from underneath the microscope lens, she shuts her eyes and tips her head back on her shoulders. "Damn it! I was timing the growth rate on this, but when Caspian came by I got distracted." She chucks the specimen container into a bin below the table and scrubs a hand over her face. "I'll have to start over."

She returns to Raven's side and hands her the bundle of supplies. "So how bad is Wick's injury? I can come – "

"Whoa, stand down, Doc. It's just a scratch, nothing a lowly engineer and mechanic can't handle ourselves. You've got enough on your plate."

"Well if he gets worse…"

"Don't worry, I'll drag him in here by the hair if I need to."

Abby smiles wide, seeming satisfied with Raven's response. "Did you eat yet?"

"No, I will after we're done working. Gotta get that power back on."

Abby grips Raven's upper arm, rubbing at it with her thumb. "I'll bring you something while it's still hot."

Raven would argue, but it would be in vain. Abby's made a habit out of ensuring she gets fresh food when she's stuck working through regular mealtimes, and Raven has ceased trying to protest. Abby just ignores her anyway, plus Raven gets an intense rush out of that feeling of being taken care of – being taken care of by Abby.

Abby lets that hand on her arm remain for just a second longer than seems appropriate, and these are the moments that force Raven to tamp down on any wishful thinking on her part. Abby's the Chancellor, and a doctor, and a mom – she takes care of everyone. All of these little moments between them – the care, the concern, the lingering touches – they're probably nothing special.

Raven shivers when Abby finally releases her arm, both at the loss of contact, and at the sudden chill that sweeps through the room. "It's ice cold in here."

"Yeah. The heat keeps shutting off."

Raven's brow furrows. "It's supposed to stay on in Medical, even when we're down to emergency power. There must be a short in the control panel…" Raven starts to head over to the panel on the wall, but Abby darts out in front of her, stopping her with a gentle palm to the chest.

"Go deal with Wick and getting the power back on to the rest of camp. I can manage in here."


"It's fine. Really."

They stare each other down for a few beats before Raven relents with a sigh. "Alright, fine."

"But come back after you're done working," Abby says, grasping Raven's shoulders and turning her towards the doorway. She slides a hand down to lightly press against Raven's lower back. "We need to massage your back more often in this cold weather. It'll help the circulation to your leg, too."

"It might be late."

"I don't care. Come by." Abby's voice is firm and emphatic, but not in the same way it had been with Caspian.

"Yes, ma'am," Raven says with a good-natured grumble.

"Oh god, I thought we agreed you wouldn't call me that."

An impish grin blossoms on Raven's face. "I'm sorry, Madam Chancellor."

Abby growls, booting Raven out the door with a playful shove. "Even worse, Raven."

As Raven makes the transition outside, her smile fades, sagging into a frown – she's barely able to notice a temperature difference between the inside of the bay and the open air.

She must be miserable in there.

As she strides away from Medical, the wheels start turning in her mind again, more convinced than ever that she needs to get the perfect gift for Abby.

The tips of Raven's crutches sink into the mucky ground, Camp Jaha's outside perimeter trail now a mix of mud and slushy snow. She hates that she has to occasionally rely on them again, but sometimes the cold, moist winter weather bothers her injured leg, turning it stiff, achy, and slow to respond. There had been talk of exempting her from patrol duties in this kind of weather, but screw that. Having to pull out the crutches every now and again is better than falling on her ass in front of everyone, or being sidelined from activities integral to their continued survival.

Between the ongoing peace with the Grounders and a lack of any new credible threats, things have thankfully been quiet, so lately patrolling has been more like leisurely strolling anyway. Raven and Indra lag behind Octavia and a young male Grounder as they follow along the forest boundary that surrounds the camp, searching the tree-line for any signs of trouble. The air is still and quiet, the squish of their footsteps on the ground or the snap of a branch underfoot the only sounds breaking through the calm.

They all stop for a moment while Octavia pulls out a pair of binoculars to peer off into the woods. Raven rests her weight on her crutches, kicking her toe at a balled-up clump of mud and snow. "I just want it to be something special, you know? Something really nice."

"You should get her a knife."

Raven glowers at Indra with a disapproving glare. "Abby doesn't need a knife for Christmas."

"Everyone needs a knife," Indra says, straight-faced, voice completely deadpan.

Raven lets out a pained groan. "I'm not gonna just get Abby a kni – "

"Raven!" Octavia hands the binoculars over to the other Grounder and stalks back towards Raven and Indra, making a slicing motion across her neck with one hand. "You're not supposed to tell anybody who you got!"

"But Indra's not even part of the Sky People gift exchange – "

" – and how can I give her accurate advice if I do not know the exact person to whom she is assigned?" Indra helpfully chimes in.

"Well just don't tell anybody else." Octavia wags a finger between Raven and Indra. "That goes for both of you."

Indra just stares at Octavia blankly, and Raven throws her hands up in surrender. She's done arguing with Octavia, Queen of Obscure Earth Holiday Rules. "Ok, ok."

"And you've only got a little over a week, Raven! You haven't gotten a gift yet?"

"She is trying to get something thoughtful for a very formidable woman. I think that is commendable."

"See?" Raven's voice rises insolently, bolstered by Indra's support. "I'm being commendable, not procrastinating."

Octavia rolls her eyes, but inclines her head towards Raven, her voice softening. "You know she'll like anything you get her."

Raven re-plants her crutches and shifts her weight from side to side, jutting one hip out. She laughs with feigned nonchalance. "Well duh, O. I mean, who wouldn't love a present from me?"

Octavia keeps looking at her with that empathetic expression, and even the edges of Indra's mouth are lifted into a soft, understanding smile. And Indra doesn't really do soft – or smile. Maybe Raven's been more transparent about her feelings for Abby than she had realized.

"I should take you to see Lenah." Indra claps Raven once on the shoulder as they resume their trek around camp. "She is the best Maker in Polis. I am certain she can help you with your… predicament."

Raven had been the youngest zero-g mechanic on the Ark in 52 years. She's built bombs and rockets and radios out of scraps, repaired a 130-year old space pod, and survived a bullet to the spine. She can handle getting a gift for one of the most thoughtful, caring, intelligent people she knows.

"Ok." Raven nods, chin tilted up confidently, as she is filled with a new sense of determination. "Let's do it."

"Now, class, who remembers what this is?" Mrs. Ridley raises a palm, indicating the video montage scrolling by on the large view screen at the front of the classroom. A mountain range, draped in an almost silver shimmer, looms behind a frozen-over lake. Two young men, both in fur-lined, puffy jackets, form white powder into bricks, stacking them into a dome-shaped shelter. Large, pearly flakes cascade down onto a copse of trees, collecting and piling up onto their branches.

"Snow!" a chorus of high-pitched voices rings out.

"And who can tell me how it's produced?"

Raven's hand rockets into the air, and Mrs. Ridley nods at her.

Sitting up a little straighter at her desk, Raven puffs her chest out slightly. "An Earth-specific weather event in which atmospheric water vapor forms into ice crystals when the temperature reaches less than zero degrees Celsius," she says, her head bobbing as she precisely and enthusiastically recites the words.

"Very good! Now today we're going to talk a bit more about the nuclear war's effects on Earth's cryosphere, and we'll go over some basic strategies to cope with some of the various cold-weather phenomena that could still exist on the ground…"

From an early age, Earth Skills had attempted to prepare the Ark-born for the practicalities of survival amongst the different environments they might one day encounter on the planet. Earth History classes had instead covered the cultural information that still remained intact, generations after the war that had nearly obliterated the earth. They'd learned about different religions, art, political and social movements, and had spent hours and hours deconstructing how various religious and secular holiday traditions had changed over the course of history.

Although Christmas hadn't been as popular a holiday as Unity Day, it had been celebrated when they were all on the Ark. A handful of people still observed the religious aspects of the holiday, but mostly it had become just an occasion to mark the passing of one more year in which they hadn't run out of food, or oxygen, or fuel. The few decorations that had been displayed were basic, most of them handmade by children mimicking the ornamentation they had seen in books and in media files depicting old Earth. Cut from fabric or plastic sheeting, the stylized trees, branched garlands, and "snow-men" – all items no one alive had ever actually seen – would adorn the hallways and the walls of peoples' quarters. Crude bows, fashioned from ragged strips of drab, faded cloth, hung on doors or above beds. And those who had extra to give might wrap small parcels of rations, handcrafted jewelry – or more illegally-acquired goods – in old rags and gather them in a corner of a room to open on Christmas Day.

Like most things on the Ark, the holiday had been quiet, subdued – a rote performance rather than an actual jubilant celebration. The station couldn't even spare the energy for decorative lighting, and the open flame of candles had been strictly forbidden in the oxygen-rich environment.

But in Polis, countless candlelit lanterns hang from tree branches and outside huts, their reflected light dancing in the piled up snow and across the corrugated metal walls of homes. Actual holly wreaths perch on doors and on the stalls in the marketplace, the deep, glossy red of their berries standing out from the waxy, evergreen leaves.

Children zig-zag around as they squeal with glee, chucking snowballs at each other or rolling around in the snowbanks. Some have bladed boots slung around their necks as they head to and from the frozen pond near the edge of town.

The Grounders have gone back to referring to Christmas as the "winter solstice." Without ever having experienced a winter before on a climate-controlled space station, the romanticized notions of the season had been lost on Raven until now. This time of year is dark, colder than she'd ever imagined possible, and blanketed in snow and ice, but the town is vibrant and full of life.

It's Christmas Eve – Solstice Eve, depending on who you ask – and Polis has welcomed the Sky People into its heart for the occasion. It's their second winter on the ground, but the first had been far too contentious to dream of doing something like this. They've all become better at dealing with tensions and disagreements without snap judgments or the toss of a spear, but issues still pop up. There have been rumblings of discontent between the Boat People and the Ice Nation, so Lexa and Clarke have been summoned to the coast to represent their respective people at a summit between the clans. They're missing tonight's celebration, but helping to keep the peace.

A mixed group of Grounders and Sky People are gathered near the center of town, where a tall, majestic fir tree rises behind them. Candles are clipped directly to its branches, dots of white light sparkling off the shuttered stalls of the nearby marketplace. The revelers are seated on tree stumps and chairs around a modest fire, logs cracking and spitting sparks into the air as flames lick the sides of the halved metal drum. Some people are animatedly chatting, while some pass around cups of Monty's latest batch of spiced liquor as they hand presents to each other.

Octavia rises from the circle and makes a beeline for Raven. "Here ya go."

She hands Raven a flat but rather large package, bundled in an old gray t-shirt. Raven unwraps the gift, and inside are a pair of snowshoes – bent metal poles make up the wide frames, and leather bindings are anchored in the center to strap onto her boots. Two small baskets, each with a short spike on the underside, are packaged with the shoes, and Raven squints down at the unfamiliar items.

"They're snow baskets, to go on the tips of your crutches. For when you need them in the snow."

The little baskets will effectively turn her crutches into trekking poles, and in combination with the snowshoes, will enable her to go off-trail easier in heavy snow – she won't have to stick to a path already blazed by others, even on days when her leg really troubles her.

She might've slugged anybody else who got her such a gift, but Octavia's one of a select group of people she'll tolerate aid from regarding her leg. She treats Raven's injury as just that – another battle wound that sometimes needs help being overcome, rather than something to be pitied, or worse, sugarcoated.

Raven's eyes light up, snapping back up to Octavia's face. "These are freakin' awesome!"

Octavia beams wildly at her, and Raven tilts her head to the side, realizing why Octavia had been so adamant about Raven's Secret Santa participation.

"That day you came to bug me… you'd already picked my name, huh?"

"Yeah." Octavia's grin turns sheepish, and she nods at the snowshoes. "Lincoln helped me make the baskets but I saw those in the market the same day I heard about the Secret Santa thing. I knew immediately who I wanted to get them for. Traded this really sweet knife for 'em, too."

Grounders and their knives.

Raven rolls her eyes, laughing inwardly, but her voice cracks a little as she responds. "Thanks, O. Seriously." She's glad she shared in this activity, not just because she got an amazing gift out of the deal, but also because it's clearly brought an immense amount of joy to her friend. She stands and wraps Octavia in a genuine hug.

"No problem." Octavia pulls back from the hug, and winks at Raven. "Hope you know this means you have to come hunting with me more often now, though."

Raven lets out an exaggerated groan – she'd rather be mired deep in the guts of something mechanical rather than in actual, literal guts. "I don't think so, O."

A hearty laugh resounds from the other side of the fire, and Raven's eyes flicker over to its source, then down to where the gift she has brought rests on the ground. She sets the items from Octavia onto her chair and picks up her gift for Abby, turning it over and over in her hands. In lieu of wrapping it, she's stuffed it inside an empty square tin she'd found in the woods, the word "cocoa" the only thing still recognizable on its worn label.

Octavia follows her line of sight, then bumps Raven's shoulder lightly with her own. "Hey. Whatever your gift is, she's gonna adore it." She bends and picks up the bundle of items she's given to Raven. "I'm gonna head to bed soon, so I'll bring these back to your room, ok?"

Raven nods once in thanks, and continues to fidget with the tin in her hands. Octavia's present is so sweet and practical and really, really thoughtful, and Raven's not sure the quality of the gift she's gotten for Abby will measure up. But the confidence boost from Octavia helps, and Raven takes a deep breath, repeating her mantra – youngest mechanic in 52 years, made bombs out of scraps, fixed a 130 year old space pod – and heads over to Abby.

"Raven!" Abby grins up at her from her seat. "I was wondering when you'd come say hi." A Grounder tries to pass her a cup of moonshine but she grimaces, waving it on. Jasper reaches out, eagerly snatching it up on her behalf.

"Uh, yeah. I got you… here." Raven practically shoves the gift at her.

Smooth, Reyes. Real smooth.

She's never been like this with anyone else – not Finn, certainly not Bellamy or Wick. But something about Abby is… different. Heavier. Like every time they're near each other they generate their own gravity field.

Abby's head tilts and she blinks in surprise as she takes the gift. She starts to pop the lid off of the tin, just as Bellamy rushes up behind her and leans down to whisper something in her ear.

Pinching at the bridge of her nose, Abby shuts her eyes and heaves out a weary sigh. "Now?"

Bellamy nods rapidly and Abby stands, looking down at the tin in her hands, and then back at Raven.

"Don't you dare leave tonight before I can come find you, ok? I won't be long."

"Oh, ok," Raven says, both relieved to have what she's sure will be Abby's inevitable disappointment postponed, yet a little disgruntled at the anticlimactic end to her gift-giving.

Dammit, Bell.

Whatever's going on is probably not his fault, but she feels a little bit better cursing at him anyway. Monroe beckons her over to the group she's conversing with, and Raven jerks her chin up in acknowledgment, tromping over towards them.

Damn Secret Santa.

The group gathered around the fire has dwindled down to just a few partygoers, the fire now just glowing embers inside the metal drum. Several overturned cups lay on the ground, and Raven goes around collecting them, placing them in a crate they'll take back to Camp Jaha when they leave Polis.

"'S'not bedtime." Jasper's slurred voice rumbles from where he is slumped against a tree stump.

Monty's bent over next to him, one arm looped under Jasper's armpit, trying to help him to his feet. "Ohh, yes it is, dude. Come on." He tugs on Jasper's arm but he remains immobile.

Raven rushes over to them and grabs ahold of Jasper's other arm, and she and Monty manage to pull him upright. Monty drapes one of Jasper's arms around his shoulders, shifting his body until he can fully support his weight.

"You guys good?" Raven asks.

"Yep, I got him. Good night, Raven," Monty says as he starts towards the path to the Sky People's sleeping quarters in Polis.

"G'night, Raven." Jasper calls back to her as they leave. "'S'not bedtime."

"Yeah, right, buddy. Get some sleep." Raven watches them until she's certain they seem like they can make it on their own, then turns in the direction Abby had gone hours ago. She sighs, still not catching any sign of her.

"So, how's it look?"

Raven jumps a little as Abby's voice suddenly comes up from behind her, and she senses the energy shift as Abby's body steps closer. She turns around and Abby's standing with her hands on her hips, head tilted to display the new item resting on top of it.

The knitted cap is a little too large for her, and it sits lopsided and droopy on top of her head. There's several small holes where stitches have been accidentally added or dropped, and the little puffy ball on top is asymmetrical, half of it larger and fuller than the other half. Abby has shaken out her braided ponytail and her long hair cascades down from underneath the hat, but the hat's bland, muted earth-tones contrast oddly with her shiny, golden-brown hair.

"Pretty dorky," Raven says, laughing behind her hand as she scrubs it over her face. "But I think it's supposed to."

Abby's mouth drops open in faux shock, but then her lips widen into a radiant smile. She joins Raven in laughter as her eyes scan the cleared-out area around the fire. "You getting ready to head to bed?"


"Mind if I walk with you?"

"Not at all."

They turn towards the trail and Abby casually hooks her right arm around Raven's left elbow, huddling into her side as they start their journey back towards their quarters.

Raven can't suppress the gasp that springs forth. Her head snaps in Abby's direction, her eyes searching Abby's face. But Abby just gazes ahead at the trail, a content smile lingering on her face, as she continues to hold onto Raven's arm.

Oh. Well this is new.

Abby generates heat like a furnace at her side, and the sensation of her tucked against Raven's body has turned the seemingly simple act of putting one foot in front of the other into a monumental task.

Their boots crunch in the snow as they follow the path, Raven sneaking glances at Abby the entire time. Grounder homes – most little more than shacks – and the odd pre-war building line either side of the trail. The majority of residents and visitors alike have gone to bed, but there is still light flickering from a few homes, and they pass the occasional person walking along the same path – some also strolling arm-in-arm or hand-in-hand, some swaying slightly as they sing off-tune.

Abby finally breaks the silence. "I'm sorry that took me longer than I thought. I wish I could've stayed to thank – "

"That's all right," Raven says quickly, not quite ready to hear polite platitudes about her cheesy gift. "Everything ok?"

"Yeah. Clarke radioed in from the coast. To say Merry Christmas, but also to warn us that it looks like there's a big storm headed our way."

"Another one, huh? Must be Tuesday," Raven says with a low grumble.

"She says they got mostly rain and not more snow, so maybe we'll luck out when the storm comes over the mountains, but – "

" – but maybe I better reinforce the power transfer stations again just in case." Sometimes Raven longs for the simpler days when all they had to worry about was acid fog and hordes of drugged cannibals.

Abby flashes her an apologetic smile. "You do so much for us, Raven. I hope you know how much everyone appreciates it. Especially me." That smile turns warm, affectionate, and Raven can't hold the direct, pointed look Abby fixes her with for long.

"Yeah, no big deal." Raven clears her throat, and waves her hand in a dismissive gesture. "So, other than the storm, how's Clarke?"

"Ok, I think. She kept asking about how tonight's festivities were going. As much as she likes that ambassador role, I think she misses camp. Home," Abby says, quieter.

"That was pretty cool of you to give her that position, even after she – "

"Let me worry for months that she was dead?"

Raven winces, wishing she hadn't brought up the subject. "Well I was going to say 'after she was gone for so long.' But yeah. After that."

"Clarke's a good leader, in her own right. The Grounders respect her." Abby casts her eyes down towards the ground, and shrugs one shoulder. "It made sense."

Giving Clarke an ambassadorial post may have made business sense, but Raven had stumbled upon Abby sniffling and hurriedly wiping away tears often enough to know how hard it had been on her. She'd already lost her daughter once after Mount Weather, only to sign the decree herself granting Clarke an official reason to be away from Camp Jaha for long stretches of time.

"You just didn't want to walk in on her and Lexa making out again," Raven says, hoping the joke will lift the shadow that's fallen across Abby's face.

"That too." Abby laughs, and when she looks back up, she gives Raven a small, thankful smile, like she appreciates her attempt to lighten the mood.

"So," Abby says, changing the subject with a lilt to her voice, "where did you get this?" She reaches up and runs her hand down one side of the hat.

"Um, I made it."

"You made it?" Abby's voice rises and her eyes widen. "I didn't realize you knew how to knit."

"Have you looked at that thing? I'd say I still don't." They both laugh and Raven shrugs. "I traded some work with one of the Grounder elders in exchange for lessons and supplies. She now has a solar-powered cooking stove, and I can now make a misshapen hat."

Abby's still looking at her with wide-eyed reverence, and it's making Raven more uncomfortable than if Abby had hated the gift outright.

Raven gestures up at the hat. "I uh, wanted it to be brighter, but I guess the more colorful plants for dyeing the yarn don't really grow this time of year, and the woman helping me only had so much stockpiled, so…" She trails off as she notices that Abby's pursing her lips, like she's trying hard not to burst into a grin. "What?"

"I'm just getting this image of you and some gray-haired lady knitting baby booties side-by-side…"

"Hey, come on now!" Raven gives her a lighthearted jab in the side, and the adorable giggle that Abby lets escape threatens to melt Raven into a puddle right there in the snow. "I'm sticking with wiring and circuit boards. This was just a one-time thing, for your gift."

Abby quirks an eyebrow. "So you went to all this trouble just for me, huh?"

"Yeah," Raven admits, then immediately backpedals – it's just like Abby to pick through Raven's self-deprecation and root out the truth. "I mean, it wasn't any trouble."

"Mmm-hmm," Abby hums, smirking slightly and looking at her out of the corner of her eye, like she knows that Raven's spent every evening this past week working on the hat late into the night.

Raven reaches up, picking an errant piece of fuzz off of the cap. "You don't have to wear it, you know, if you don't want to…"

"Relax, Raven. I love it. Thank you." She beams at Raven, wide and joyous, and Raven could get used to being the one to put a smile like that on Abby's face.

The hat slips down Abby's forehead a little, partially obscuring her eyes. Abby tugs it back up, until it's situated correctly once more. "But yeah, you should probably keep your day job."

With anyone else, Raven would be defensive about such a knock to her skills, but she's always loved engaging in this teasing – flirty? – banter with Abby. It's fun and lighthearted and belies the fact that they both have absolute confidence in the other's abilities.

"Oh yeah? Maybe I'm missing my true calling. Maybe I should leave Camp Jaha… move to Polis… set up a little shop selling knit goods…"

"Oh, please." Abby snorts in disbelief. "You wouldn't last a day without some engine or power coil to take apart. Besides," she says, and her lips curl into a warm, genuine smile, devoid of any signs of teasing, "we'd miss you too much."

And just like that, their give-and-take goes from lighthearted banter back to that heavy something that always hangs in the air between them.

Raven's heart starts to hammer inside her chest, and she needs something to do with her hands, some kind of distraction from the onslaught of emotions that Abby keeps drumming up.

She reaches across their bodies and rubs her thumb over a threadbare spot on the lapel of Abby's coat. Abby's been layering underneath it lately, but it's the same jacket she had worn on the Ark – the same one she had crashed to Earth in, the same one that's weathered missile strikes and withstood a torture dungeon.

"I, uh, would've made you a new coat, but that's definitely above my skill level. I'd be lucky if I had it ready before next Christmas," Raven says, falling back on that safe, self-deprecation again. "I just wanted you to have something to help keep you warm. I know with half of camp breaking down all the damn time I haven't been able to keep up with those heating vents in Med Bay that keep shutting off…"

"Keeping the living quarters heated is more important. And I think I'll be plenty warm now." Abby squeezes the arm linked with Raven's, burrowing even closer into Raven's side. She grasps the hand still toying with her lapel, cradling it against her chest.

They both have gloves on, but the contact is as electric as a live wire jolting against bare skin. Raven swallows hard, opening her mouth to try to form some kind of reply, but catches movement further down the path.

An older woman, dressed in loose trousers and a long, khaki tunic, leans against a house constructed mostly of concrete blocks and rusted, dented road signs. She's smiling at them crookedly around the long pipe in her mouth, twin columns of smoke drifting from her nostrils with each exhale. A necklace of large "beads" – mostly control knobs from old audio equipment – sways and jingles lightly at her neck as she breathes.

Raven lifts her chin in the direction of the woman. "That's the Grounder who taught me how to knit." Too distracted by the increasingly doting company at her side, Raven hadn't realized how far they'd already come along the path.

"Well, we better go say hello. So I can thank her for her help with this lovely new addition to my wardrobe."

"She only speaks Trigedasleng," Raven explains, as she guides them away from the path and towards the woman's home. The Grounders and Sky People are still in the process of learning each other's languages, but between the little Trigedasleng she knows and Indra's translation help during their initial meeting – as well as some non-verbal communication techniques – Raven had managed to glean what she needed to know to make Abby's hat. "Most of her teaching was by way of angry gestures."

Abby chuckles as they come to a stop in front of the woman.

"Reivon kom Skaikru!" She has a slightly darker complexion than Raven, and stands a good six inches shorter. Coarse salt-and-pepper hair, pulled back into a poufy bun, frames a round, heavily wrinkled face. Black tattoos, now quite faded, border each of her cheeks. Their thick, horn-like lines climb all the way up to her forehead and descend back down the slope of her nose.

"Heya, Lenah." Raven's left arm is still linked with Abby's, and it thrills her that even now, in front of a total stranger, Abby has refused to give up the contact. She gestures with her right hand to introduce Abby. "Em laik Abi, heda kom Skaikru."

Lenah's eyes widen, and she briefly bows her head in deference. "Heda," she says, and as her gaze rises she catches sight of the hat sitting atop Abby's head. Her smile falters a little, and she side-eyes Raven.

"Hey, I think it came out pretty decent for my first try."

Lenah makes a non-committal noise in the back of her throat, and Abby's arm pulls on Raven's a little as she shakes with laughter.

"Ugh, whatever." Raven points behind Lenah, at the cooking stove that takes up one corner of the home. "Is your stove, uh… ok?" She nods exaggeratedly and holds her thumb out and up, hoping that Lenah recalls the gesture – Raven had used it several times to question if her knitting techniques were correct.

"Sha, mochof, mochof!" Lenah raises both arms, giving her a dual thumbs-up.

"Great. You're, uh, welcome."

Lenah glances down at their linked arms. "Dison laik yun?" she asks Abby, jerking her head towards Raven. "Yun houmon?"

Abby's brow knits together and she shakes her head, her mouth opening and closing a few times before turning towards Raven for help.

"I don't know, I'm not sure…" Raven can't quite place the words.

Lenah directs the question at Raven this time. "Yu laik houmon kom heda?"

Houmon, houmon…

"Oh, spouse! The leader's spouse." She explains the realization matter-of-factly, until the implication finally sinks in. "She's asking if I'm your – oh!"

Heat floods Raven's cheeks, the burn even more noticeable in the cold air. She extracts her arm from Abby's grip and shakes her hands in the air. "No, no, no, I'm not – we're not – spouses. Damn, what the hell is the word for friends again? Lukot! We're, uh, lukot," she says, pointing between herself and Abby.

Lenah squints at her and arches an eyebrow. "Lukot… en nou mou?"

"Right. Lukot. Just lukot."

Eyes still narrowed in confusion, Lenah holds up a finger at them then ducks inside her home. She hasn't explicitly invited Abby and Raven inside, so they only follow her as far as the doorway. Rooting around in a woven basket on top of a table, Lenah finds what she's looking for and heads back over to them, presenting Raven with a small ball of multicolored yarn.

"Oh, geez, you don't have to – "

"Sha, teik in," she says, pressing the yarn into Raven's hands.

"Thank you, Lenah. Uh, mochof." Raven squeezes Lenah's outstretched hands, then tucks the gift into her jacket pocket. She starts to back up to leave, but Lenah clucks her tongue, pointing above Abby and Raven's heads.

They both look up – several thin, green sprigs hang from a red ribbon at the top of the entryway, their compact, round leaves surrounding a cluster of white berries.

Abby lets out a sharp gasp. "Oh."


"It's mistletoe."

The word sounds familiar but the way Abby utters it – breathless, awed, like it's some kind of enchanted object – makes Raven think she's missing some kind of bigger significance here.

Lenah puckers her lips, smacking them together as she mimics a kissing motion.

Oh, right. Mistletoe.

Bug-eyed, Raven whips her head towards Abby. "I have to kiss her?"

"No!" Abby laughs, shaking her head.

"You have to kiss her?"

Abby bends forward a little at the waist, clutching her abdomen, barely containing more laughter. "No. You and I are the ones underneath it. You have to kiss me." She shrugs her shoulder, one corner of her mouth lifted in a coy smirk. "Well, I mean, you don't have to, but… it is an old Earth tradition."

"What? Another one? I thought Octavia was just making all of this shit up." Raven scratches the back of her neck, the joke giving her time to calm the rapid heart palpitations that had begun as soon as Abby had uttered the words you, kiss, and me in the same sentence.

"Nope, this one's definitely real," Abby says.

If Abby is opposed to kissing Raven, she didn't have to corroborate the legitimacy of this bonkers Earth custom. Raven's imagined kissing Abby a thousand times before – minus the part where there's an elderly Grounder woman looking on – and now she's being granted a safe excuse to do just that. If Abby is just agreeing to this in the spirit of a holiday tradition, this could be Raven's one and only chance.

Raven shifts her weight from side to side, running her palms up and down her thighs a few times, as she contemplates how to go about this. The kiss can't just be some bumbling, inept peck, nor can she seem too eager, too forward. It has to be a kiss that doesn't demand more than Abby's willing to give – yet offers more if she wants it.

Abby takes her lower lip between her teeth and raises a curious eyebrow. "Well?" she asks, the question breaking into Raven's reverie.

The energy change is palpable, crackling and thick, as Raven steps forward, more intimately than ever before, into Abby's personal space. She lightly braces one hand against Abby's hip, subtly wets her lips, and angles her head. Slowly, carefully, she presses her lips against Abby's. The pressure is gentle, tender, but deliberate enough that there's no way the kiss can be mistaken for something merely platonic. Abby's lips part, without a hint of hesitation, to meet Raven's, and her minute hitch of breath sends a fiery bolt of warmth straight into the center of Raven's chest. If she'd thought the meeting of their gloved hands was intense, that was a mere spark compared to the supernova going off within her now.

Raven's not sure how long the kiss lasts – Abby's lips are velvet-soft and her hand keeps twitching, grazing against Raven's hip like she wants to pull her closer, and it has her brain short-circuiting much like the glitchy electronics she tinkers with daily. But when Raven finally pulls back – just enough that they're still nearly nose-to-nose – Abby's mouth is lifted into a dazed smile and her eyes are sparkling clear, gleaming and dancing brightly, like maybe she'd felt the supernova, too.

Raven's chest heaves in time with Abby's, their breath turning to vapor in the frigid night air, swirling and mingling in the tight space between them.

"Merry Christmas, Raven." Abby breathes the words against Raven's lips. Her husky voice is even thicker, deeper, than Raven's ever heard it before, and it sets off a hot pulse somewhere low in her belly.

Raven runs her tongue between her lips, already dreaming of tasting Abby again. "Merry Christmas, Abby."

Lenah snorts out a hearty laugh from beside them, and Abby and Raven spring away from each other, the spell between them broken.

"Lukot…" Lenah hangs her head, tossing it side to side, snickering with abandon. She waves the back of her hands dismissively at them, ushering Abby and Raven out of the entryway and back towards the path. Grabbing the edge of the door to close it, she calls out to them.

"Oyo keryon ste teina." She shuts the door and the sound of her still scoffing carries through the corrugated metal.

Raven blinks rapidly at the closed door. "What the hell does that mean?"

"Oh, I, uh, I don't know," Abby says in a rush, and turns to continue along the pathway before Raven can question her further.

Raven dashes to catch up to her. "Wait, did you…"

Abby looks at her blankly and Raven decides not to press the issue for the moment – she's still wrapping her head around the fact that they've just shared a mind-blowing kiss underneath some weird magical twig while a Grounder spouted what was likely ancient, mystical Earth wisdom at them.

Raven stuffs her hands into the pockets of her jeans, scuffing her feet along the ground as they resume their journey. "I don't know why she thought that we… I mean… spouses!" She chuckles weakly, hoping to break the nervous tension.

"Hmm." Abby murmurs that same knowing hum again, then threads her arm through Raven's once more, flashing a playful smile. "Can't imagine why."

She nestles back into Raven's body and a shiver runs up Raven's spine, goose bumps prickling along her arms even under all her layers. Abby's not letting either of them brush this off – not the kiss, not this newfound coziness – and that fact fills Raven's stomach with both anxious and hopeful butterflies.

They walk arm-in-arm in companionable silence, the rest of the way to their destination. The once state-of-the-art, majestic city that is now Polis has mostly been reduced to shacks and ramshackle huts – dwellings that serve the basic necessities and no more. But a few original buildings still remain – some re-purposed, most still bearing damage from the war – and the visiting Sky People have been given an old university dormitory to sleep in. Its size and the mazelike layout of its rooms makes it too difficult to heat in the winter without a central source of power, but it's sufficient for at least temporarily housing a large number of people. As Chancellor of the Sky People, Abby had been offered better accommodations in the main part of town, but had refused to be treated differently than the rest of her people.

Raven and Abby's strides slow as they come to a stop just outside their temporary shelter. One lone, candlelit lantern hangs on a pole outside the entrance doors, casting a diffuse, amber light over them and onto the sides of the building. A tapestry of moss and ivy creeps up along its outer walls, snaking between spots where jagged chunks of concrete are missing. Above the entrance's awning, the shiny brass letters that once proclaimed the name of this hallowed hall are now tarnished in a sickly brownish-gray, and several letters that aren't outright absent droop completely upside down.

Abby extricates herself from her hold on Raven, coming around to stand in front of her, but she remains disarmingly close.

"So…" Raven says, bouncing on the balls of her feet a few times.

"So…" Abby glances back over her shoulder at the building's entrance. She shuffles her feet a little, wringing her hands in front of her, and this whole night is starting to feel like the end of a first date that neither of them are quite ready to walk away from yet. And Raven's still curious as to why Abby had feigned ignorance about whatever Lenah had told them.

"So… what did she say?"


"Oy… oyo keryon ste teina," Raven repeats, stumbling slightly over the foreign words. "You understood what she said, didn't you?"

Abby tilts her head to the side and opens her mouth like she's going to protest, but then pushes the tip of her tongue between her teeth and nods slowly. "I heard Lexa say something similar to Clarke once, and asked them what it meant."

"And? What does it mean?"

"She said 'Your souls are entwined.'"

"Oh. Wow." Raven wasn't expecting that mystical Earth nonsense to be quite so profound, or to pertain so directly to that nebulous gravity field surrounding her and Abby. "That's, uh… that's pretty deep."

"Yeah." Abby draws in a deep breath through her nose. "Yeah, it is."

Raven lowers her voice, her heart rate accelerating, and the next question comes out a little shaky. "Do you think it's true?"

During the eighteen years Raven had spent cooped up on the Ark, she'd only been in the same room as Abby a handful of times. Yet since that fateful day when she had challenged Abby about the supposed quarantine in Lockup, the two of them have continuously been pulled into each other's orbit, some unseen force maneuvering them into each other's lives, often at the exact moment their specific talents were needed. It can't be some random fluke that Raven had been the one Abby came to for help repairing the escape pod, that Abby had been the one who discovered an injured, dying Raven in the drop ship. They even have similar wounds now, scars residing in the same places – the physical ones along their backs and thighs, and the invisible ones that still manage to weigh heavy over their chests, where reminders of lost loves used to hang.

Abby searches Raven's face, her eyes twinkling in the low light, darting around curiously like she too is going over every momentous occasion they've shared, every uncanny parallel that runs throughout their lives.

"Your souls are entwined" sounds a lot like "I'm not going without you."

Even back when Raven had spoken those words, when she had only known Abby for nine days, holding Abby in her arms had felt so right, so natural. She's not sure if she believes in unseen forces, in the gods of the old Earth religions that they had learned about in Earth History classes. She's certainly skeptical about the spiritual notions that had been born on the Ark – notions whose sole purpose was to give them some hope for a future that didn't end with the human race suffocating to death in the cold darkness of space. But it can't be mere coincidence that she and Abby have survived everything thrown their way to be standing here staring into each's others' eyes.

Raven steps closer and Abby swallows hard, her chest starting to rise and fall rapidly. "Do you think it's true?" Raven asks again, and the words come out steadier, more serious this time.

"I don't know." Abby's voice is barely a whisper, but her gaze keeps darting between Raven's lips and her eyes.

Raven leans forward, stopping just before their lips meet. The heavy, static-like charge between them builds, the anticipation that thrums in the air bordering on maddening. "Do you want to find out?" Raven holds her breath as she awaits an answer.

Abby nods slowly but decisively, her lower lip brushing against Raven's with the movement.

Raven slides her hand to the back of Abby's head, skirting the edge of that ridiculous hat, fingers coming to rest in the downy hair at the nape of her neck. Abby takes in a shuddering breath, hooks two fingers into Raven's belt loop, and pulls their hips flush. This time they meet as one.

That first kiss was phenomenal, but without an audience, without a safe excuse as to why it's being allowed to happen, this one is earth-shattering.

Instead of meeting just once, their lips glide against each other over and over again in sweet, smooth strokes. They pull each other deeper with soft nips and the faint tease of a tongue, but the kiss is still tender, still gentle, silky caresses punctuated by hushed sighs and hot breath. It's insistent, raw, and full of fire, but nothing about it is rushed or demanding.

A robin lands on the pole above the lantern, its melodic night song the only sound punctuating the serene quiet. But right now another nuclear war could start and Raven wouldn't notice, too caught up in the sensation of Abby's lips against hers, of Abby's body so perfectly enfolding hers. It's new, but achingly familiar – a statement she could make about so much of their current life on the ground.

The hat slides down Abby's forehead again and they pause just long enough to laugh, blissful smiles in place on both of their faces. Raven draws the hat back, helping to readjust it on Abby's head, before Abby drapes both arms behind Raven's neck and Raven lightly grasps her hips, and they lean into each other once again.

They stand there, kissing, bodies close enough to banish the bitter cold, as a light dusting of new snow flutters from above, and the flame from the candle dies down to nothing.