Disclaimer: I don't own The 100. Everything belongs to whoever owns them, my wishful thinking aside.
Authors Note #1: a tumblr anon asked for "Kabby" and "broken wings" in a drabble game. This got a bit bigger than a drabble on me. – Set in early season three, after Abby and Marcus go to Polis and Marcus gets the brand but before any of the Pike stuff, so imagine there was a couple weeks in between or something for the sake of timing. Oh yeah, and the Ice Nation is being a big bag of dicks, as per usual.
Warnings: canon typical violence, wing!fic, broken bones/injury, romance, canon typical violence, emotional and physical hurt/comfort.
She felt unsteady and strangely fragile during the ride back to Arkadia. Dripping water and shivering under a shock blanket. Not letting her eyes leave him for a second as Marcus sat up front with the driver. Seamlessly dealing with all the explanations – compartmentalizing what happened as one of the guards from their original party floored the accelerator. Remaining protected in the center of the convoy.
He was on the radio talking to Sinclair and the rest of the Council for the majority of it. Arranging for messengers to be dispatched to Polis and Indra's camp with the arrowheads collected by the others as evidence of the attack the moment they rolled through the gates. Wondering aloud what this might mean for the Commander's treaty with the other clans if this was decided to be a declaration of war or merely a rogue faction of the Ice Nation operating without the consent of their leader.
But she barely heard a word of it. Instead, she kept her eyes on his back. Carrying his secret safe in her breast pocket in the form of a single black feather she'd found on the shore as they'd spluttered water and clung to the rocky bank. Too tired to pull themselves up and into the treeline to say or think much of anything. Punch-drunk on adrenaline-laced exhaustion and not much else.
But that had been then. And right now, watching the green flash past her window as they rattled down the worn dirt road, a hundred thousand questions were already swirling.
Her knock was firm when it echoed through the thick metal of his quarters. Soft but determined as her drive to know – to understand – threatened to overpower everything else. It had been hours since they'd gotten back and they'd barely spoken. He was avoiding her and she was tired of waiting for him to break the ice first. Thoughts distracted and alive with a hundred thousand sensory experiences she'd never thought possible.
They'd been flying.
For a handful of moments, long enough to cushion their fall, he'd kept them in the air. Gliding with the currents as his powerful wings cut through the air. Bunching powerfully as he sucked in a great lungful of air – like he was running. Feeling heavier than she was as his arms wrapped tight around her. Keeping her close as the warriors clustered on the cliff edge grew smaller and smaller.
She would have gone to him immediately when they'd gotten back. Wanting an explanation privately at the very least. Hell, a handful of words before their responsibilities separated them would have staved off the worst of it. But by the time they'd swam to shore, their people were waiting for him. Apparently having seen nothing out of the ordinary as they helped them up the narrow bank and into the cover of the trees. Having caught sight of them swimming towards shore sometime after Marcus' wings hadn't been able to hold them any longer.
After a clipped debrief, the most anyone did was to side-eye their soon to be Chancellor when he ducked out of the remains of his shredded shirt and slipped on his jacket – the same one she'd been fisting all the way from the cliff-edge to the shore. But if he registered the stares, Marcus didn't acknowledge them. Holding himself stiffly as he went over the data they'd collected. Movements careful and sharp, almost like he'd pulled something during the fall, but making a point to duck out of medical before she could get to him.
Back in the present, she listened to the tell-tale shift of fabric against fabric as she rested her hand on the door handle. Lips firming into a worried line when she realized it was locked. The clip of footsteps and a strange rustling – like wind through the trees – was the only sound from inside and it already had her on guard. He always kept his quarters unlocked during the day, calling out for people to enter rather than answer it himself. He called it an "open door policy." Joking that if anyone tried to rob him, they'd assume he kept the good stuff hidden and be there so long someone would eventually catch them red-handed.
She had to listen to each and every footstep as he crossed the room. Self-conscious in a way she hadn't been for a long time when he clicked the locks aside and cracked the door just enough for her to duck inside. Sensing, more than hearing the lock snick home behind her.
The reason why however was immediate.
Marcus' wings were out, and perhaps even more striking in the close space.
He wasn't hiding anymore.
Not from her anyway.
She inhaled, not bothering to mask her gaze as he watched her watch him. Expression closed, like any minute he expected her to say something he might not be able to handle. She didn't have the breath to tell him not to worry. Her silence on the issue so far dealt with any question of loyalty. Whatever this was – whatever Marcus was – changed nothing. For her and for their people. At least as far as she was concerned.
She let her eyes map him out – a new addition to a familiar landscape. His chest was bare save for the trailing feathers that kissed the sides of his forearms. Finding something endearing in the way the feathers got smaller as they approached the shoulder joints.
The scapulars, maybe?
It had been a long time since Biology class.
She frowned, stilling when she realized his right wing was hanging strangely, almost like-
His eyes were tired, the line of his mouth edging towards haggard as he eased himself through an aborted flinch. Clearly in pain as the injured wing hung awkward and careful behind him. The severity of it obvious now that she knew more or less what to look for. He'd clearly been able to put his wings away with the injury – somehow – but this would have to be taken care of before it got any worse. She examined the span of his good wing, getting a handle on the angles that would need to be worked with.
"It isn't serious, I think the- well, near as I can figure it, the carpal joint needs to be popped back into place. It feels a lot like getting your shoulder dislocated. But I can't reach it to-"
"Let me, take a look? Please?" she coaxed, leaning up on her toes to brush a lock of hair out of his eyes. The rest stiff with road-dust and sweat. Getting him used to the idea gently even though the two of them already knew there was only one way this was going to go.
He nodded, crossing over to his desk chair. Swiveling it around and leaning up with his chest resting against the back. Giving her the access she needed as she approached cautiously. She ducked under his good wing, hesitating briefly before positioning herself in-between both wings.
"I need to feel where the joint is resting before I can do anything, is that alright?" she asked quietly, thumbing her fingers over the sleek black sheen of his primary feathers. Marveling at the silky texture.
He nodded, rolling his neck from side to side in an attempt to ease the muscles there.
"Just let me know when you're going to do it. I know you don't want me to tense up, but I don't want to hit you with my wings if you catch me off guard. They're stronger than they look."
They'd have to be, she thought privately. Remembering the wind on her face and the unsteady force of Marcus trying to gain a bit of altitude after he brought them out of their dead fall. Struggling to get them into a position where they could spiral down gradually for a soft landing in the water near the shore. It hadn't quite worked, but they were alive. And at the end of the day, that was a win as far as she was concerned.
She wanted to say something.
Something that would get him to look at her.
Maybe even say her name.
Just so she'd know where his thoughts were at.
But the line of his back was still sharp and trembling and something in her caved.
Allowing him the space he needed as she squeezed his shoulder and got to work.
"Did this happen after we fell?" she questioned, more to fill up the silence than anything. Running her fingers down the humerus, checking for any soreness that might indicate a hair-line fracture as his secondary feathers pressed up against her belly. Desperate to make sure he knew that nothing between them had changed as she tackled what was in front of her with warm professionalism.
"Right before actually," he admitted ruefully. "I've never had a passenger before and the truth is, they aren't as strong as they should be. The joint popped out when I was banking towards shore. Couldn't take the strain."
She bit her lip, remembering that glimpse she'd caught of him when she'd looked up in mid-flight. His expression had been- transported. It had been more than pleasure, more than desire or a simple want for a thing he thought he couldn't have. It had been like watching someone come into an inheritance and accepting it in kind.
"Have you ever done that before? Flown, I mean?"
He turned to look at her, shifting so that her fingers trailed away from the ulna. Skimming through the rich plumage of his primary feathers. Raising his eyebrow in that way he had. Gently laughing at her as he considered which part to answer first. Giving her the sudden, amusing image of him as a child. Jumping down from the loft section of the machine station and into the main bay when it was empty. Hovering for a couple seconds with small, spindly looking wings before gravity took him back.
"Once. Not long after we landed. There was never really the opportunity to do it before, on the Ark," he answered softly, resting his chin in his arms as he crossed them over the back of the chair - rocking slightly. The action unconscious and self-soothing as the sound of footsteps marching in unison echoed outside the door. Making the muscles under her hands tense and jump. Every part of him seizing up before forcing himself to relax as the footsteps continued down the hall.
"No one else knew?"
He shook his head, trickling dried silt and lake sand between her fingers.
"No one other than my mother and father," he replied.
An afterimage of Vera hazed through her mind's eye. Fondly missed, but easily dismissed considering the circumstances as she moved the conversation along.
She knew the answer, but she wanted to know how he'd deconstructed it in his head. Marcus had always been a thinker, a strategist. Back then he would have weighed the odds, the percentages. Even if it was something he desperately wanted, he would have denied himself on principle. As far as he'd been concerned, on the Ark they'd been fighting a war against a running clock. There had been no time or resources for anything else.
"Fear mostly," he answered, shrugging his good shoulder as the accompanying wing flapped shallowly like an extension of the movement. "Good old fashioned paranoia."
"We weren't from the elite station. We had no friends in high places. And we lived in a system that had to prioritize the majority over the individual in order to function. It didn't seem smart to call attention. Besides, having wings up there was a moot point. There was nothing they could be used for that would have benefited anyone but myself. So, when medical never turned up anything, no sign of an anomaly in my blood work, we decided it was safer not to say anything."
"But what if there had been others – are others?" she asked, putting to voice something that had only just occurred to her.
What if Marcus wasn't the only one?
"There weren't," he replied, quietly insistent. Running his fingers down the pointed ends of his primary feathers, smoothing them flat as his body language started shifting into something darker than discomfort before he spoke again. "And that was most of the reason why I never…why I never tried very hard to do what you did. Settle down and have a family. I didn't want to risk passing on something that was only a liability up there. A defect. A dream that could never come true. I saw what it did to my father. Not being able to even stretch his wings to their full height in our quarters and I couldn't-"
The line of his jaw tensed.
The hole in her chest where Jake's ghost still lived, shuddered.
But she refused to let it own her like it once had.
"Tell me," she whispered, blinking back a sheen of tears when she realized he was almost trembling. The words weren't an order or a command. More like permission. Acceptance. But he still sucked in a breath like it was the worst thing – good wing restless – before expelling it in a slow rush.
"I don't know much more than you do," he murmured, voice edging back to that neutral blankness she remembered from the Ark before she brushed her thumb against his collarbone with slow intent. Able to listen to the change in real time as the careful blankness turned back into the warm, earthy tones her mind had gotten used to coloring him in. "There was never an opportunity for me to get anything officially tested. There was no one we could trust in medical at the time. All I know is that it's hereditary – a mutation. My father had it and so did his father. It seems only be passed on through the male line."
She nodded. Already wondering what kind of tests she could run that wouldn't tax their resources. Marcus might not want this out in the open, but they weren't on the Ark anymore. There had to be something she could do. Someway she could help.
"It's a throwback," he said, looking back at her fully for the first time. Mouth lined with a grimace that had nothing to do with shattered bones. Like any minute he'd look into her eyes and see disgust or even fear there.
Her eyes lined into a smile instead.
Fat chance of that.
"They don't look like that throwback to me," she returned breezily, meaning every word. "They're beautiful."
The wings shivered, fitful and surprised like a blush. Shuddering flat for a moment before flaring slightly, puffing up like a bird about to preen. She smiled into the fluffed up feathers. Watching the muscles in his back flex as the secondary feathers tickled through her hair, bringing them down close again.
"I understand if you need to inform the others," he started, this part clearly rehearsed – maybe even a thousand times before today – as he shifted in his chair. Facing her. About to say more before she cut him off - determined.
"And tell them what, exactly? That their new chancellor is an angel? Something tells me they ready know," she teased, smiling unabashedly as he frowned, the tired lines of his face crinkling between distress and amusement before settling on his patented seriousness.
She leaned in and draped her arms around his neck with quiet confidence. Careful to avoid his injured wing as she pressed a soft, reassuring kiss into the rough of his stubble. Snuggling in to stay as his hand hovered hesitantly over hers. Chest hitching through it before he finally let it rest on top of hers – just over his heart. Effectively ending the conversation for the time being.
Later, when the joint was back in place and she had him where she wanted him. Curled up in his lap, kissing him firm and slow. Taking him off guard when he thought she was finally about to leave. And sore or not, his wings still flared high before easing down into that downy, pillowing softness she'd loved from before. Draping around her like a living cloak as the feathers dusted across her skin. Spreading sparks of pleasure she couldn't help but think would be damn near overwhelming if the world ever allowed them to get past first base.
Good thing they were both patient people.
A/N: Thank you for reading, please let me know what you think. – This story is now complete.