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A Past Does Not Define

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Abby could tell by the set of his shoulders, and his solemn face, that something was bothering Marcus when he entered their quarters that evening. For a moment panic seized her, and every worst case scenario- from the breaking of peace with the grounders to the death of one of their people- filtered through her mind; and then she took in his actual look and realized he was not coming to bed with the ghosts of some tragedy following him. No, he had a look on his face that had been common for a while, but she had not seen in months. He looked unsure.

It was something she dealt with time and time again in the weeks after Pike was taken out, and their people agreed Marcus should lead them- his uncertainty, his fear of messing up or reverting back to old ways. Many a night she would lay beside him in their bed and assure him over and over that he had what it took to be chancellor, and as time moved on, and he got comfortable with his new role, he started to believe her. Abby had been relieved when those moments stopped happening, happy to see the man she loved thriving in the job he was meant for as he worked to bring their people peace and help their home thrive.

And yet here he was, months later, with that look on his face once more.

She studied him as he shrugged off his coat, his hand coming to rub through his hair in frustration as he tossed the garment onto the desk; his mind so completely focused on whatever it was that troubled him that he didn’t even acknowledge her presence.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

She tried to keep her tone soft in order not to startle him too terribly, but he still jumped a bit, before turning to look at her as if he was surprised she was there. Which was silly because they had shared a room ever since he became the leader of Arkadia.

He must really be distracted.

“I just had a weird moment with Octavia.”

“Oh?” A shot of worry ran through her, wondering what could have happened with the young girl to cause this much tension to emanate from the man before her. Ever since Lincoln died Octavia had become almost a shadow to Marcus, following him wherever she was allowed to, and seeking him out for extra military training and advice on other matters. She even began wearing the clothes that everyone else in Arkadia wore; only leaving her hair in the grounder braids she loved so much. It was concerning how she seemed completely divided in two by the differing peoples; but seeing as she seemed to be much saner than some who had lost loved ones in the war, Marcus and Abby both just tried to be there for her when they could and give her space when they couldn’t.

Marcus most especially.

If Abby were a lesser woman, one more insecure, she might have been concerned by all the time a much younger girl was spending with the man she was involved with. But given the circumstances, and the fact that she was not a lesser woman, she never saw the interactions between Marcus and Octavia as anything more than that of a father and daughter. Still, as she watched Marcus this evening, his body tense, a part of her wondered if perhaps she should have been more worried. She trusted this man completely, but perhaps Octavia had put him in a tough position and now he was unsure how to deal with her advances.

“She called me dad. We were saying goodnight after a combat training and she just said ‘see you later dad.’”

Abby’s eyes widened at Marcus’ words, all fear of him having been hit on fleeing her as a wide smile spread across her face, “Oh…well that’s great, isn’t it?”

Marcus looked at her as if she had grown two heads, before plopping on the foot of the bed and burying his face in his hands, “How could you think that is great?”

Confused she crawled to sit beside him, her head resting on his shoulder as she tried to figure out what had him so up in arms. Octavia had never been an open person, even when Lincoln was still alive; and the death of her love plus the hand her brother had played in it only closed her off more. To Abby her opening up enough to see Marcus as a father figure, and acknowledging that fact, was a big break through; but apparently he had a different opinion on the matter.

“What are you thinking?”

“I am thinking that that girl has some terrible instincts, especially if she thinks I am anywhere near dad material.”

“You’re an idiot.”

Her words, so absent of any sympathy had him looking up, and she tried to keep her eyes from rolling at the shock on his face, “First off, in the time that I have known her, I have never once doubted O’s instincts. Secondly, if anyone can be an amazing father to that girl, it is you.”

“You have met me, right Abby? You do know who you are talking to?”

“Obviously,” this time there was no containing her eye roll as she moved to the floor to kneel in front of the irritated man, desperate to find out what had him so upset, “I wouldn’t let you in my bed if I didn’t know you.”

“Technically it is my bed.”

“That is beside the point.”

“Well I mean you said your bed and this is my-“

“Marcus,” she sighed, cutting him off before he could try to hide by changing subjects, “the point is that I know you, and I love you; and if I didn’t think for a second you were meant to be a good father I would tell you.”

“I have no right to have that title. I know you are basing your love and your respect off of everything that has happened in recent months; but you so easily forget who I once was. No person with my history deserves to have a woman love him, let alone have a kid call them dad.”

“Clarke killed 300 people in the mountain, if she came to you and said she would never have kids because her actions that day made her unworthy…what would you tell her?”

“That she was being ridiculous, that the things of her past cannot dictate her future.”

His answer was so instantaneous that she had to fight back a smile of triumph, even when he obviously got what she was saying to him. For, even as he seemed to understand her point, there was still something lingering in his gaze that gave her pause.

“This isn’t about you being worried about past actions, you have come too far to let that tie you down,” she whispered studying him as he shifted his eyes down to focus on his lap, “ why don’t you tell me what is really bothering you?”

He was quiet for several seconds, his eyes downcast, his shoulders stiff, before finally he let out a breath and ran a hand through his hair once more.

“If Octavia meant it…and I don’t know if she did, it could have been a slip of the tongue…but if she meant it then…”

He grew quiet once more, but Abby didn’t push him, knowing he would get there on his own. Instead she just continued to kneel in front of him, her hands stroking soothing patterns on his thighs as he worked through whatever monster was eating away at him.

“I don’t have the best example when it comes to being a dad.”

Abby’s heart broke at his whispered words, all of his hesitancy making sense; and she sat up on her knees to wrap her arm around his neck as she pulled him into a hug. On instinct her other hand came around to slip under his shirt, fingers skimming over the raised flesh they found on his back as she cooed comforting sounds in his ear.

As a child she was aware that Marcus’ dad had been floated for some reason or another. She remembered her parents whispering about it the night it happened, but she never was able to quite figure out what crime the elder Kane had committed. All she knew, and would know for the next few decades, was that William Kane had been floated, and that it wasn’t until weeks later that she saw her best friend again. As she grew older she simply forgot the man who fathered Marcus existed, until three months before when she finally saw the man she loved undressed.

Shock was the first thing she felt when she ran her hand down Marcus’ bare back for the first time. She recognized the kind of scars that marred his skin from the top of his shoulders to the bottom of his spine and it was on the tip of her tongue to ask him why he had so many; but before she could say a word he was gently snatching her hand away and distracting her with much more pleasurable things.

It wasn’t until later, when they lay curled around each other completely sated, that he told her how he came by them. He revealed that his father had a nasty temper, and an even nastier drinking habit (something that was not really a surprise to Abby, because even at eight she had been an observant child). What was a surprise to her, however, was the fact that one night Marcus accidently caught the attention of his father at a bad moment. And because of that his father, who was in the guard, took his baton and shock lashed his son over and over until the boy was near death.

He would have died, Marcus revealed, if not for his mom coming home from services at just the right moment and knocking her husband out with her metal watering can. William was arrested and floated for his actions; and Marcus spent three weeks on his stomach in medical while doctors worked on fixing up his wounds as best they could.

Abby had cried upon hearing the story from Marcus, not only for the hurt child, but for the scars he was forced to live with from that day forward- both the internal and the external ones. So much of who Marcus Kane was made sense in light of such a revelation, and for a moment she wondered if Callie had also known about what had happened. She had always wondered how the woman could stand to be with the man that Marcus was on the Ark, and now she knew. For anyone who had even an inkling of what he had gone through would have easily grasped why he was who he was; why he was so cold and so guarded.

She was just so happy that they had both grown so much since reaching the ground, that he had the opportunity to become the man he had kept caged for so long; and that she had the opportunity to become more open minded. She thanked the universe every day since they discovered their mutual love for one another for everything they had been given, despite the hardships they had faced to get there. And she had hoped, that over time, that Marcus would use her love and the love of those who followed him, to fully break away from the chains his father had so violently wrapped around his son’s psyche. In fact, she had thought that he had already fully broken free.

Until this moment, when she saw how deeply his insecurity ran. She turned her head, fighting back tears, as she pressed her lips against his neck, her hand not on his back moving to stroke his hair as she struggled to find the right words to say.

“Marcus,” she finally whispered, her eyes closing as she continued to fight to keep her emotions at bay, “I wish I had the magic words that would take your fear and uncertainty away; but I know there is nothing I can say. Except…you are the only one who sees yourself as unworthy.”

She felt him stiffen at her words and she squeezed him to keep him from protesting as she rushed forward to make her point known, “You think you are lucky to have me, and that might be true but not for the reasons you think. You are lucky to have me because you have lived long enough to have the chance. Just as I am to have you. Other than that, you are worthy, so worthy. You have been since the day you pulled me from the service hatch, if not before.

“And, if Octavia is willing to call you dad, if she is willing to push her pride and heart break aside to open up to you in such a way, then I assure you, you have already done what is needed to prove yourself. You are not your father; you are a loving, decent, and wonderful man. In fact, I think it is safe to say you have taken after your mother. You have her amazing spirit.”

Marcus pulled back and looked down at her, his lips quirking as the memory of her consoling him after his mother’s death returned to both of them, “You think so?”

“I don’t have a single doubt.”

He relaxed completely at whatever he saw in her eyes, and he was just leaning forward to kiss her when he pulled back again and threw himself on the bed with an angry growl.

Confused, Abby crawled up to sit beside him, her hand tugging at his hand which was thrown over his eyes.

“I am such an ass.”

“Well yes, but you have to be more specific.”

Marcus glared at her for a moment, obviously not amused by her joke, before shutting his eyes again, “When she called me dad, I didn’t react. We just kind of stared awkwardly at each other for a minute, and then she stormed away. It could have been embarrassment…perhaps it was a slip up, but-“

“It wasn’t a slip up you moron,” Abby sighed, ignoring his hurt look as she stood up and tugged on his hand, “she is a young girl who opened herself up to you, and instead of accepting it, you acted like a deer in the headlights. Now get up!”

“Why?”

“Because I am kicking you out until you find her and make this right.”

“Can’t it wait until morning,” the man groaned even as he trudged over to pick up his coat and slide it back on, “she isn’t going anywhere.”

“No it certainly cannot…fix it or you can sleep outside.”

She watched him go, only mildly amused by his mumblings about her being a dictator, before praying to whoever was listening that he could fix things. For his sake, and for Octavia’s.

~~~

Marcus was almost sure, when he was forced out of his quarters, that Octavia would be hard to find. She was the master of hiding when she didn’t want to be found, which is why he depended so heavily on her when they were in the midst of their rebellion. It was amazing how invisible she could become, even when she was dressed in full grounder gear; a skill that she still maintained even after all that had happened.

It was due to this knowledge of her hiding habits that Marcus was surprised when he found her right outside the entrance to the Ark, her back to him as she sat on the top step of the massive fire pit, staring up at the stars. He said nothing at first, worried he would spook her, and let out a quiet prayer for his mother’s guidance (something he found himself doing more and more often) before he approached and sat down beside her.

For a few minutes they said nothing, both of them just looking up at the sky, and Marcus wondered if she thought the same things he did when taking in the stars from the ground. It was strange, even after all the months that had passed, to see the glittering dots from so far away; and a little disconcerting to remember they had once been up there looking down on the place they now sat.

“It was an accident you know.”

Marcus startled slightly at Octavia suddenly speaking up, and he turned to eye the girl who was still maintaining her gaze on the view above.

“I don’t think it was O.”

She tensed, and turned to glare at him, and he had to fight hard not to smile at her ever present fiery expression, “I think you have been thinking of me as your dad for a long time, and you finally let it slip tonight.”

“Even if that were the case- which it isn’t- it wouldn’t matter,” she hissed before refocusing on the sky, “you don’t want me. No one does.”

Her last words were said with such pain that Marcus instantly felt tears pooling in his eyes, though he tried to fight them back, “Why would you think I wouldn’t want you?”

“You made it clear earlier…you looked as if you wanted to run as far away from me as you could.”

“I did.”

Octavia let out a half sob half laugh and moved to stand, but Marcus reached out and stopped her, his eyes pleading as she looked back at him with anger in her own, “I wanted to run because of me, not because of you. I wanted to run to protect you.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“I know it seems strange, but just hear me out and then you can decide if you want to walk away or not.”

She was still for a moment, and then just when he thought she was going to bolt, she eased back down on the step, shrugging to show she was listening.

So he talked. He told her about his childhood, and the abuse he received at his father’s hand; he told her about how closed off he had become after that moment, and how he used coldness and hate to protect him from any further pain; and finally he told her about his thoughts and actions since landing on the ground and how his experience on earth had helped free him. He talked and talked revealing every bit of himself that he felt was worth sharing, he talked until there was very little to say other than, “I am sorry I panicked, but I was nervous when you called me dad, because I don’t know what being a father means and I don’t want to screw up or hurt you any more than you already have been hurt.”

He stopped there, and just looked at his hands as he wondered how Octavia would handle all he had just revealed. If he was her, he would get up and run as far as he could; he would go to Sinclair or the elder Miller for both of them would surely be better father figures than his broken self. Octavia wasn’t him though; she was made of stronger stuff, so it shouldn’t have shocked him as much as it did when she reached out and gently took his hand, “I am sorry your dad was such a dick.”

Snorting at her very O-like response he nodded, “Yeah me too.”

“And if it helps I don’t know how to be someone’s kid just as much as you don’t know how to be someone’s dad. I don’t know how to be anybody.”

“You’re Octavia, which is all that matters.”

“Yes Octavia, the girl with no home.”

Marcus sighed at the brokenness in her voice, hating once more all the struggles this girl had faced in such a short life, “You have a home. And it isn’t with Skaikru or Trikru. You have a home with me, if you still want it. No matter what you do, or where you go, you have a home with me….and probably with Abby because she is going to start mothering you all the more once she hears you call me dad.”

“Oh help me now,” the girl sighed with mock alarm, before sobering slightly, “so you don’t mind me calling you dad?”

“Not as long as you don’t mind me bragging to everyone that you are my kid.”

“I think I could be alright with that.”

Marcus smiled, and patted her head before standing, “Well with that settled, I think you should get to bed, it is way too late out.”

“Oh shit, what did I get myself into?”

“Language young lady.”

“Marcus I swear to god...”

He laughed heartily as he headed back to the ark, not even caring that she threw a dirt clot at him after he informed her that, “It is disrespectful to call your father by his first name.”

This was going to be fun.