She’s not careless enough to underestimate Rachel. Marion’s never met her, yet she knows of Rachel’s position in DYAD and, of course, her reputation which precedes her. Clever, charming, and unafraid to wield a heavy hand.
Marion smiles politely as she walks into the boardroom but keeps her guard up, finds a young woman arrived early and occupying the head of the table, who turns in her seat and smiles back and rises.
It comes naturally. Rather than a handshake, she places a hand lightly on Rachel’s shoulder, fingers just barely brushing, and leans in, kisses the air near her cheek and feels Rachel follow seamlessly, left, right.
It is hardly the first time she’s been chased by someone younger, and Rachel is startlingly upfront about it.
In the weeks that pass – weeks in which Aldous confides in her about another clone, a pregnancy nearing full-term, and an offer – she finds herself yielding. A brush of a hand against hers alone in Rachel’s office turns into a more intimate touch, fingers tracing up an arm to rest on her shoulder. A brush of cheeks hello, lips pursed and touching only air – the space between them, their bodies, shrinks.
Ferdinand is a man, easily-led by the promise of sex, and Marion can understand how he got himself into his current situation.
She likes to imagine she has less of an excuse.
When she’s with Rachel, she’s with Rachel. All the thoughts of Topside, of DYAD, of Leda, falls away.
Marion cards fingers through short, blonde hair, feels Rachel grow tired of her lover’s gaze and turn, nip at her shoulder to get her to hurry up, a thigh pressing up between her own insistently.
"In due time," Marion chides, allowing herself a smile, and watches Rachel rise to that challenge.
It’s surprisingly easy, until Aldous requests her presence for a meeting in his office.
When she first takes her into her arms, tiny and soft, Marion is overwhelmed.
She’s never fancied herself the motherly type, but she wipes away a tear, settles this little person into the crook of her arm, and pushes the worries to the back of her mind right now.
It’s nigh impossible to work for Topside and have a personal life, but she’s spent weeks deciding on a name and setting up a nursery and getting everything just perfect, and right now is about meeting Charlotte.
She doesn’t slip up, but Marion begins to wake up in a cold sweat at the thought of it.
Before, it was easy. Lies were a means to an end, and whatever suited her could be used as part of her backstory.
Now that she's deviated from the plan, now that there’s Charlotte who Rachel cannot know about, how can she possibly keep that all-consuming part of her life hidden from someone she's consorting with on the regular? The possibilities of carefree trysts are severely limited when there is a child waiting at home, and unattached and childless as she's positioned herself, she has no reason to suddenly begin spending more time away from DYAD.
The sleepless nights grow more common until she thinks of an out.
Topside is good at keeping secrets, and so she begins to take assignments from DYAD farther away and for longer lengths of time, until she’s just about fallen off the radar. She resigns quietly, lets Aldous finagle whatever it is that needs to be done on his end, and returns, at least publicly, as a board member, a position that needs no more than an occasional appearance.
Her position now is mainly that of monitor - a secret to everyone except Aldous - but she has no doubts that everyone else has things they're hiding as well, and that they know asking too many questions invites questions about themselves that they don't wish to answer. She knows, too, that Ferdinand is still in the picture, and must be making up for her absence.
But it is a testament to Rachel’s feelings for her that she’s allowed to do so – because Marion has no delusion as to what happens when Rachel is displeased – and that whenever she stops by at DYAD, Rachel greets her with a smile, a caress, and a kiss to both cheeks.