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Abby would be dead now, and she would be better off.

Every cell in her body is singing, virile with new depths of hatred she never thought could exist. It’s real and vivid, everything for the man who knew and came to her like nothing was amiss, at what she remembers being two AM in the morning even though no hour has ever looked distinct, and asked her to leave. Jackson asked for your immediate audience in medical.

All that was was a dim office with a chair skewed just as she left it, the soft hushes of each sleeping patient the only sound to beckon her. Jackson wasn’t there. He was at home, unaware of anything, just as she had been when she descended the metal hallways away from beside a patient with cancer who wanted company, destined to be floated in days, to where nobody needed her. At least he died painlessly.

Kane’s door is unlocked and the room is empty. It’s never been like this before. He’s always careful, structured. No doors left unlocked, both physically and metaphorically. She has never, not once understood how he could be colder than the vacuum of space, a million dead bodies only the change in his pocket.

Why he didn’t let her become just that, she can only envisage as a sick desire to punish her. Maybe to watch her deteriorate until she opens her own airlock door and takes the place of Jake.

When she hears his door creak open, the lights forgotten as he steps into the infinitesimally small room, she presses into the shadows. He has a window, but it’s not enough to make her visible.

All high-ranking officials have one. She does, too, but she covered it up with a cloth because Clarke didn’t have one for a year. If she chooses to believe, she’s alive and staring where Abby cannot look anymore. It’s harder and harder to believe, the universe proving how malevolent it can be every time she wakes up.

Abby focuses on the contours of his face illuminated by the starlight. Alone, or believed to be, he looks different. If she didn’t know any better, she would say he looks moments away from crying. His back is hunched as he leans over his desk, an audible sigh shaky like Raven’s descent onto Earth.

Where is Raven? She knows he doesn’t care. If Raven’s hanging between space and Earth, body cold from a combusted pressure regulator, or if she’s on Earth, incapable of contact, he doesn’t care. He wants this box to be his tombstone, and he’ll take everyone else down with him.

She can’t understand his emotion. It’s subtle, but real.

“Why?”

He jumps. His eyes search the room, focusing on her form in the dark. His back straightens, his face familiar once more.

“What are you doing here?” he clips.

“I asked first.”

She inches closer, trying to use his moment of weakness to corner him. He’s good, used to this game of cat and mouse. Only, there are no mice, and he is firm where he stands.

“I could have you arrested for being here after hours,” he says when she’s no more than a foot away from him.

His voice and posture are everything she is used to, but the drying tract on his face is off-putting. She falters, hand reaching up to touch and verify her mind hasn’t lost itself. His meets her violently, squeezing her wrist hard enough to create a ring of purple. She doesn’t give in, refusing to fight him, and he speaks, more calculated and bitter than before. “What do you want, Abby?”

“Tell me,” she taunts, “did you feel special walking like a man with a mission to save one person and kill three hundred and twenty more? Like it justifies the horror?”

He shakes her wrist. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Jackson wasn’t there. He hadn’t spoken to you in over a week. Either you’re schizophrenic or a liar.”

She revels in the way she seems to have power over him. His face is a constant shift as he struggles to keep up his facade.

“Do not”— he’s close enough she can feel his breath on her face —“ever call me that.”

“Don’t tell me what to do.”

They’re at an impasse. He won’t give in easily, she knows she has to work for it — has to unstitch his head and rewire, rewire, rewire until he has nowhere to go but into her inquisition. 

“You tried to have me floated. You almost did it,” she spits, “and you looked fine. Like I wasn’t someone you’ve known since we were kids. I’d rather die than be who you are”— she smiles at his enraged eyes —“but I can’t understand what changed, why you saved my life yesterday.”

“I already told you. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I’m not leaving until you tell me.”

“We’ll be here all night. Just take the extra chance. You’re luckier than everyone else.”

She’s not. She knows he doesn’t believe that either because it wasn’t luck that saved her from an odourless gas seeping from the vents in the middle of the night, before the morning bustle, killing three hundred and twenty people. 

“Do you think you’re some sort of god?”

His eyes widen. “Of course not.”

“Then why are you always trying to decide who lives and who dies? Were you born with this innate power you have to exert otherwise you’ll die? How the only way you know how to live is to control, never listen to any other voice of reason, grip my wrist hard enough that you’re seconds away from breaking it?”

He lets her go, surprised at his own display and her words, like he wasn’t conscious of how much he was hurting her. Her wrist is throbbing, but she turns a blind eye to it now. If she makes it another night — if they all do — she will roll her sleeves up and let everyone see how he gets off on hurting others, and she will bask in the way she knows it won’t be news. Everyone already knows it.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I’m the only one between us with any sensibility. I know I’m right.”

He backs her into the desk and she leans over it, chin high. If it weren’t for the machine hum, she would be able to hear his heartbeat. “Is that what you tell yourself to sleep? As you watched Jake die without doing anything anymore, you were right? That Jake deserved to die?”

She wants to stab him with the pencil her fingers are touching. Jake’s name doesn’t belong in his mouth, doesn’t deserve to loop around the lines of his lips. 

“Nobody deserves to die,” is all she says, twisted in the memories.

“But, people have to die. For others to live, people must die.”

They’re fundamentally different. She didn’t want Jake to die. She pleaded with Thelonious to see her side, then pleaded over her husband’s lost and bloated body to save her daughter by trying to kill her, sending her to Earth.

“He died a better man than you’ll ever be.”

“Still,” he breathes, “you fail to see how similar the two of us are.”

He’s lost his mind. Never could she wake up and don his black uniform, pressing the button that launches love into the void, and walk the halls with her head high. He chose that life when she’s been trying everything in her power to see her daughter home and give everyone grieving something to believe in. She’s dedicated decades of her life stitching and diagnosing until her eyes hurt and her heart cannot not take the loss anymore. 

“You’re delusional.”

“Someone has to be,” he says, leaving her to stand over the window.

“What?”

“If not me, it’s someone else. Someone else watching people’s lungs collapse, executing the order to kill three hundred and twenty people in their sleep because there’s no way home for everyone.”

She’s thought of him like that before in the nighttimes spent unravelling him in her head. She can’t stop trying to put him together in a way that makes sense. It’s still not an excuse for choosing the easiest route of simply eliminating. Not fighting for life. What happens when there’s nobody left?

“You did know,” she says.

He ignores her remark. “I’m going to die, Abby. But, you’re going to live.”

She’s had it with his aversion to her questions.“This isn’t a philosophy book, Kane. This is real life. What the hell do you mean?”

“Seven hundred people are getting off this contraption, you’re going to be one of them.”

Seven hundred? Raven hasn’t made contact in days as far as she knows — neither have the one-hundred, neither has Clarke — and, besides, even if she has, why would only some leave?

She walks up to him, ready to yell for him to made goddamn sense, and he hears her without a word.

“The scrubbers can’t ever be fixed. Engineering determined that this morning. Three hundred and twenty people,” he winces, “and it doesn’t even matter. They’d have died anyways. Jaha’s sending the drop ships down. It’s our only hope. There’s only seven hundred spaces and even that’s pushing it. The rest of us will suffocate here within the month. It’s the only chance we have.”

Exodus charter. He’s vice chancellor — privy to everything first, only second to Thelonious. She’s never read it, but this information must be buried in there like a poisonous snake waiting to snap. She can’t even process the information, a horrifying death sentence she had never known awaiting the Ark, so she pushes it aside for later. He still hasn’t answered the most pressing question. She was supposed to be part of the three hundred and twenty. She doesn’t deserve a spot on any ship just because he deemed it so. His whims are not hers to follow.

“What if I don’t want to go down?” she shouts. “Why did you get to decide I lived and someone else died last night? Why did you save my life once when you’ve tried to kill me a hundred times before?”

“Twice. Almost three times.”

“What, Kane? Twice what?”

“I stayed up all night, tried to destroy my brain enough so that I could do what I had to do.”

It clicks, and suddenly she knows what he’s talking about. He’s talking about her time in the airlock, how everything seemed routine.

No. Rather, how when he arrested her, he put her in Clarke’s cell so she could see her drawings one last time. How he nodded just barely to Shumway at the airlock.

He’s talking about taking her away from a death sentence just last night. 

And the night before, bartering with the council for her life.

The council vote was almost unanimous.

She thought it was him holding her over the proverbial noose.

“I needed to do what you did with Jake. Put aside—” his voice cracks.

“Put aside what?” she presses.

He looks at her then, really looks at her. “It doesn’t matter.”

What she did with Jake was the hardest thing she’s ever done. She loved him more than anything, only her own daughter rivalling it, and she still indirectly caused it. She lived with it, telling herself it was the only way — Thelonious knew best. He always did.

“It’s different. I loved Jake. You don’t love me.”

“I don’t,” he says quietly. Then again, with a small smile like only he knows what it means, “I don’t.”

Somehow, she’s gone from mad to only simmering, the cartwheels of their argument dissipating in urgency. She asks tentatively, “Please, just, tell me why you did it.”

“You’re a doctor,” he says. “Our best.”

“That didn’t stop you before.”

“Clarke, too,” he says. He’s rarely said her daughter’s name since she was arrested and it sounds mournful, much more-so than it did before. “She needs you.” 

That didn’t stop him before, either. 

A moment passes where she turns his answer over in her head, feeling the only half-truth behind it. He said I know, I’m sorry when he revealed he knew Clarke’s lifeline had stop calling. She doubted his sincerity was real back then.

“Go, Abby. You got what you wanted, so just...leave.”

“You said you’re going to die, what do you mean by that?” she asks, ignoring his request. She doesn’t take orders from him no matter who’s higher ranking. They’ve known each other for too long to adhere to a slip of paper, their brutal arguments taking place despite the fact he could easily sway some in his favour if he wanted to. Sometimes she can’t understand that, why he chooses to stay and rile his brain with her. 

“Two thousand of us and only seven hundred spots.”

“You get one if I get one.”

She hates him. And despite that, they are drawn to each other like planets in orbit. There’s an innate pull in her to keep him alive. She always wants people to live. Always. There is nothing else to it. There can’t be.

“I can’t take it anymore, Abby. I want to die.”

That, she can understand. “So you should understand why I’m mad you let me live. I can’t choose myself over someone else.”

“I do,” he spits. “But, I’d do it again and again. I never want to see your body, dead or alive, on the other side of an airlock again.”

“Why, Kane?” she yells. “Don’t you dare say Clarke. You’ve killed far too many mothers to play that card.”

It’s cruel, she knows, but it works.

He comes up to her, fury painted on his face, and grips her shoulders, almost bruising.

“And I hate myself for it. All I think about when I sleep is their faces, empty and void when they’re let go. For what? Stealing an apple? I understand a need for order and I see the utility, but I can’t do it anymore. Can’t you get it through your thick skull that I actually do care, that I have my own feelings, my own demons?” he yells, exasperation evident in each strained syllable. “I’m not a killing machine, Abby.”

“You act like one!”

“I’m a damn good liar.”

“So it’s okay if you call yourself that?” The room is closing in on her, she can’t stand him and his hypocrisy, his voice like nails on a chalkboard scratching her brain to bits.

“Yes, Abby. I don’t want to hear anything you think about me because every time you have something to say, it’s not what I need.”

“Life isn’t a fairytale,” she yells, fighting to get out of his ever tightening grasp. “Let me go, Kane. Die for all I care.”

She doesn’t mean it.

She hopes the sound of how he’s brought her to tears is masked in the scuffle of him refusing to let her go, even when she cries out at the way his nails dig into her neck.

She doesn’t need to look down to see she’s bleeding. His touch becomes softer, eyes more desperate, and he pulls her flush against him.

And kisses her.

Her first instinct is to push him away, the sensation of such closeness in the harsh press of his warm lips, unmoving, and in the shaking, faltering breathing she feels wash over her cheek too foreign. They’ve never done this. She’s never pictured this as something either of them wanted.

Her mind screams victory when he stumbles, a guttural sound low in his throat. But, he only takes a moment to seize her head, keep her from escaping, and trail his hand to her fist, already poised for a second attack.

He’s stronger than she is physically. He breaks her fingers apart against her efforts, entwining his with hers at his first chance. It’s too romantic in their aura of resentment, stunning her until her mouth, with a mind of its own, gives a tentative kiss back. It’s only the slightest purse of her lips, but it’s enough for him to push her backwards against the window.

She can’t help it, in the end. They’re indulging by the time her back presses to it, tongues not their own. Her other hand, the one he is not gripping like she’s seconds away from disappearing, is roughly holding onto his shoulder, firm beneath his uniform.

Why. She’s smart but it goes over her head, the reason why her mind is incapable of willing her body into compliance. She should want to leave, want to go back to a moment ago when she didn’t know what he felt like fitting into every crease of her body. 

But, she can’t.

Not now that she can feel the way her body craves it, giving back as good as it gets. Not now that he’s sliding his hand out of her hair because he knows she’s not going to pull away, slipping it under her shirt where he splays it over her back like the heat of an iron.

“Kane,” she tries. Explain yourself. She needs him to say something to make her fall back into hatred, and maybe then, and only then, her body will become her own again.

“Marcus,” he whispers against her lips. “Call me Marcus when we’re doing this.” He doesn’t even sound like himself, voice breaking almost every word.

“What are—” an involuntary moan slips out at the cant of his hips into hers and, oh.

Surely, this is a dream. If it’s a nightmare, it’s a damn good one.

He does it again, hard length trapped between layers of fabric, and their height difference makes it more so a push into her lower abdomen, but it’s sending her into overdrive. The feeling, the idea, that that’s where his mind is at is so powerful she almost leaves her question hanging.

“—we doing?”

“Shut up, Abby,” he spits, punctuating his sentence with a harsh nip to her jaw like the atmosphere shifted into anger once she felt him bearing down into her, his desire and emotion a visible entity.

Two can play at that game.

“Just another way for you to exert power,” she rasps, falling slack. He stops, looking her in the eyes. “Use me.” His eyes blink harshly when she brushes him through his pants. “You’d do it even if I said no.”

He whips her around, boring her chest into the glass. He’s got her hands behind her back like handcuffed, and he grits in her ear, “Try me. I may be a killer, but I’m not that.”

She can’t. He waits, and she says nothing.

Finally, he undoes her pants and threatens his hand in her curls. She will not give herself easily, no matter how much her mind screams. It would be Abby and Clarke, Abby and Callie, Abby and Jake — not Abby and Kane, fighting for argument’s sake, if she lets him ravage her the way it seems he wants to. 

But why? Another sick desire to punish her, bring her on the brink but no further? A poorly thought out apology for everything? She doesn’t care for his reasoning. She wants to make him suffer for everything he’s done to her, even if all she wants is to close her eyes and let him take her apart.

“I don’t want this,” she tries to say with conviction.

He brushes his fingers through her folds. He slides so smoothly, and she shivers. “Liar,” he whispers, crooking his fingers inside of her. They slip out when she forcefully contracts, but he distracts her with slow rolls of his tongue over her neck where his nails had bit to start fucking her with them. His lips follow his tongue, kissing the scabs with sorrow she doesn’t know what to make of.

He’s right. She wants this enough she’s practically thrumming. Their clothes are thick, and she hopes he can’t feel the way her fingers are twitching, hands still trapped between them.

His fingers are long and firm, shooting sensations originating from where he’s stroking her all the way to her extremities. It’s as if she’s on fire, burning from the inside out, when he grinds his palm on her clit. He’s good, like the intricate, intimate knowledge he has over the inner workings of her mind is enough for him to decipher how she wants this.

“At least I’m not a coward,” she stutters out, failing to keep her hips from jerking.

“And you’re saying I am?”

She can see his face in their reflection in the window, his eyes hooded and confused. She focuses on his eyes. “I’m not the one running home to cry.”

She wouldn’t have had to look at his face to know she hit a nerve because his hands freeze and resume so quickly she can’t keep up with them. He’s stripping her below the waist, pants and underwear hanging off one leg, and then he’s intruding in her. Just the tip, like a question. He hasn’t broken away from her eyes, not taking the chance to look at her naked form, something he’s never seen, and she doesn’t know why.

“Do you want this?” he asks, cold like they’re deciding a council issue. 

She’s taken aback by it. She hadn’t expected him to address her previous remark directly, but anger, anything other than asking for her consent would have been familiar. This ungrounds her.

Do you want me?

That’s what he’s asking. And, when she nods, that’s what she answers.

He slides in so slowly it consumes her. His holds her hip, stabilizing her, and then waits, completely entrenched inside her. He’s too indolent, too tentative, too gentle. It’s as if he’s trying to tell her it means something when it doesn’t.

When she hears him let out the shaky breath he had been holding and lean his head against her neck, her heart starts to race. He must be bending his knees, making this comfortable for her at his expense. Just to have her against the window, the stars their only witness. He’s feeling, thrusting only minimally. She can’t have that, needs to tell him they’re just blowing off steam, so she pushes her hips back quickly, taking him by surprise.

Looking in their mirror, his head a level shorter than typical, her brain starts to bubble. He’s pliant, hanging his head in bliss.

This doesn’t make sense.

She thrusts back hard enough to slide him out of her. He grunts, face reading like an apology she doesn’t know what for, but she shuts him up by pushing him to fall on the bed. She discards her pants and shoes, almost naked when she straddles his still dressed-form, pointedly looking away from his groin.

He’s speechless as she takes her shirt off, unclipping her bra, and she smirks. He’s watching her now, and she wonders if before he hadn’t done it because he hadn’t known if she wanted him to. She can’t be clearer now.

He doesn’t fight her as she undresses him, and she waits until he’s all skin in front of her to explore him. He’s muscular but not broad, body pleasingly firm as she strokes her hands along his ridges. Has he always been this handsome? She doesn’t know, and she doesn’t care anymore when she looks at his cock, how coloured with want it is. For her, or for the female form? It doesn’t matter. She wants to feel its length split her.

“Sick of wearing the crown? Need someone else to take control?” He gives only invisible moans, mostly breaths, when she sinks onto him. She has to bite her lip to keep herself quiet. You feel so good. If it’s a consequence of the passage of time spent waking up alone, that’s irrelevant. She plants her hands on his flushing chest, moving rapidly. She can already feel it building within her, and she speeds up, closing her eyes and hanging her mouth open, saying, “I’m right,” through a moan.

He grips her hips, and she thinks yesyesyes because the image of his powerful hands helping thrust her hips faster into his is so hot, she might fall apart simply thinking of it, but instead he slows her down.

“What are you doing?”

He’s quiet. She opens her eyes, and he’s staring at how he gradually disappears inside her. 

“Never thought Marcus Kane would be a lover in bed, but, then again, I never thought we’d end up here.”

She’s trying to push his buttons, get him to fuck her hard and fast until the stars aren’t outside anymore, rather in her head. It scares her when his reply is to draw her head down and kiss her languidly, every inch of him pressed to her.

“There are a lot of things you don’t know about me,” he whispers into her.

“Like what?”

She misses his answer. His head dives back into the bed, neck exposed, and he finally starts to slam her into him with a lack of control she’s never seen from him. He begins to tense. His face is another apology, but it’s overwritten when he comes, thrusting deep inside her. His orgasm lasts what seems like a lifetime to her. She’s always thought of herself as good in bed, but he looks too transcendent. Like it’s more than just getting off for him.

She wonders if that’s it, he’s going to leave her here. He stares at the ceiling for a few seconds, and she almost begins to talk, but the insults die when he takes her hips and drags her up to his mouth.

Intimacy. There’s no better word to describe everything he’s done for her tonight. It’s the final push into oblivion for her, who even is he, she doubts she’s ever known.

He licks her harshly, paying attention to everything. She grips his hair, mind going white because he’s seeping down her thighs. He must be tasting himself, and it’s not putting him off. If anything, she doesn’t think she’s ever been eaten out with this much ardency before. He’s moaning. Quiet, but she can hear it.

Her knees start to give in, thighs shaking uncontrollably, but she wants this so much, she tries to hold herself up.

“On your back,” he says from between her legs, moving away.

She thrusts over nothing, ignoring him. She’s going to go crazy if she doesn’t reach a release soon. Her hand starts to travel over her stomach to where she needs it, but she only gets the faintest, most excruciating touch in before he’s stealing it away and toppling her over.

“I gave you yours, Marcus,” she says, trying to keep the plea out of her voice, “now give me mine.”

“Patience, Abby,” he says, kissing her throat softly. She pushes on his shoulders, and he listens, trailing wet kisses down the valley of her body, but he’s so slow. Even at the apex of her thighs where she knows she’s a mess of fluid for him, he chooses to lave her inner thighs in kisses and nips instead. Dammit, she thinks. What’s he playing at?

“What’s your deal?” 

She grips his hair and tries to force him where she wants him. He swipes over her, tongue curling around her clit, and she relaxes, letting herself fall back into bliss, but he’s gone too soon, moving up to lie over her.

He’s watching her face.

“You’re not cruel enough to leave me here.”

“You seem to think I am, even after I saved your life,” he says.

“And let someone else die.”

He touches her forehead, wiping her sweat away. After, he strokes her wrist where he strangled it. She can’t breathe. “I had to pick.”

Maybe it’s his words, the anticipation, the technique, or maybe it’s the newness of how he’s making her feel safe around him in another scenario besides when they argue. She deletes all that from her mind, focusing on the feel of his hand as he reaches for her centre and his mouth as he descends into her neck like it could be home. She peaks suddenly with a soft moan, arching her back.

He continues, fingers quick until she closes her legs at the overstimulation. From there, he remains leaning over her like a cage, brushing down her hair — just once, but she’s not going to ask for it again.

“The section pick was a lottery. Jaha told me last night it would be Seventeen and I fell asleep knowing you were in my section. But I woke up in the middle of the night, remembering what Callie told me. That you didn’t sleep in your room anymore after Jake. After Clarke. I banged on your door, but Callie was right. You didn’t answer. I went looking for you in Seventeen, just in case. And when I found you there… One extra room was gassed as they counted the bodies, yes. Hate me forever, but I don’t think anything will ever parallel the feeling I got when you agreed to leave.”

“What are you saying?” she asks, small under him. She’s not herself anymore.

He stands up. Looking at her splayed form on the bed, he says, “Go home, Abby. To Clarke.”

He believes she’s alive. He’s believing for her.

“What about you?” she says.

“Don’t worry about me.”

She thinks about that night, about him, even when she’s one of seven hundred, five hundred kilometres below his suffocating. He got his final wish, and she supposes that’s the most people like them deserve. Will she get hers? It’s for Clarke to be safe, and she is, sleeping in the room next to hers in a land so foreign. She doesn’t let herself make another. She already knows it’s hopeless.