FROM: Walt Disney World Reservations
TO: Abigail Griffin
Thank you! Your reservation is confirmed!
ANIMAL KINGDOM LODGE - 4 Rooms + 7 Day Magic Your Way Package
ABBY GRIFFIN - 18+
MARCUS KANE - 18+
CLARKE GRIFFIN - 18+
LEXA GREEN - 18+
BELLAMY BLAKE - 18+
OCTAVIA BLAKE - 18+
LINCOLN GREEN - 18+
RAVEN REYES - 18+
Thank you for your reservation! Have a magical day!
°o° °o° °o°
“I can’t help but notice we have lost track of all of our children.” Abby Griffin craned her neck above what she could of the people around her in search of the band of 20-somethings she and Marcus had hauled down to Florida the day before.
Everyone had easily agreed to spend Christmas Eve exploring Epcot. The park was drenched in Christmas cheer--garland, lights, and holiday-themed decorations were strung up along the buildings, and beautifully intricate topiaries carved into the shape of festive Disney characters dotted the front entrance. There were people in Santa Mickey hats absolutely everywhere (Raven had already purchased at least three Christmas-themed ear hats and shoved Bellamy into one by some miracle of the season), and the smell of gingerbread was only drowned out by the mouth-watering smell of pastries coming from multiple pavilions in the World Showcase.
“They said they had a surprise planned, and to meet them at the World Showcase.” Marcus Kane replied, grinning slightly. “I saw them sprinting out of the hotel an hour ago just so they could beat us here.”
“Why did we bring them all, again?” Abby asked. Marcus threw an arm around her shoulders and pressed a kiss to the side of her head.
“Because we love them,” he said into her hair, squeezing her shoulder as they made their way past the massive, dancing fountain at the centre of Epcot’s Future World and headed towards their true destination: the food and drinks.
Marcus wasn't wrong. What was once a flicker of an idea in Abby’s eye had become one massive, pseudo-family vacation for Christmas. While Abby had arranged for Clarke to bring Lexa, Marcus had the frankly Herculean task of organizing his adopted (adult) charges and their significant others. Abby was secretly thrilled Lincoln and Raven were accompanying Octavia and Bellamy, respectively--she liked Octavia’s boyfriend and his kind, strong soul, and obviously had more than a soft spot for Clarke’s longtime friend and Bellamy’s new girlfriend. The whole lot of them had formed some strange, mashed up family over the years, and so what had started with just Abby and Clarke after Jake’s death had bloomed into a network of misfits somehow headed up by Abby and Marcus (even if Abby and Marcus had only officially gotten together a year and a half ago, and even if their “kids” were all grown into their 20s and definitely no longer the rowdy teenagers they’d once been).
The flight there had been largely uneventful (save for Raven shouting “DISNEY WORLD!” every chance she got), and their arrival at the Animal Kingdom Lodge both easy and massively impressive, thanks to the tree sitting in the lobby that was higher than Abby could even begin to guess. Abby and Marcus had checked everyone in ahead of time and immediately headed for their room with a king-size bed that rivalled their one back home, and promptly collapsed in a tangled heap within its sheets to sleep a solid eight hours straight after their day of travel and trying to keep track of seven different adults through two different airports.
Now that their first official day at Disney World was here, Marcus and Abby handed over the planning reigns to the kids and let them run wild. No one was particularly interested in the rides in Epcot (Soarin’, which both Lincoln and Lexa wanted to ride, was closed for refurbishments and thus off the list from the start), but everyone was aggressively interested in taking on the tried and true Disney Challenge: Drinking Around the World.
And apparently, they even had t-shirts.
“Oh my god!” Abby burst out laughing as she spotted the lot of them all assembled and ready to take on Epcot. Now she understood why they’d insisted on meeting inside the park instead of at the hotel: this visual was much funnier. “I can't believe you got everyone in those.”
“This is the greatest shirt I have ever owned,” Raven said, pulling the tank away from her stomach to read the words “drink, drank, drunk around the world” written in a sparkling, silver Disney font over its front. Clarke, Lexa, and Octavia all sported matching ones, too, and even the boys had a slightly toned-down version on (heather grey with a plain white font). Clarke and Lexa had both tucked theirs into high-waisted pairs of black shorts--which Abby suspected were Octavia’s design--with Clarke’s finished off with a thin gold belt Abby had never seen before.
“I’m so glad we missed this particular fashion memo.” Marcus looked relieved that he was safe in his faded navy v-neck and jeans.
“Are you kidding? I got one for you both, but Clarke said Abby would never go for it.” Raven narrowed a glare at both Griffin women. Abby didn’t feel an ounce of regret at Clarke’s executive decision to let Abby off the t-shirt hook. She was unbelievably happy in her casual, flowing black jumpsuit and flats...although, yes, a tiny part of her thought it may have been fun to just dive into Raven’s shenanigans head-first. She wasn’t going to tell her that, though. “You do look cute in that jumpsuit though, Abby. Very Disney chic.”
“It has pockets!” Abby exclaimed, shoving her hands in the soft fabric’s pockets and showing them to the girls. All four looked incredibly jealous (Octavia’s black leather trimmed leggings were definitely without pockets, but she’d made up for it by shoving everything she needed into some sleek-looking black and gold clutch). The five women had once spent a rousing night debating the merits of fake pockets while they helped Octavia design the next set of ready-to-wear pieces for she and Bellamy’s design house, and thus had bonded fiercely over the subject.
“And I’m fun sometimes,” Abby added.
For some reason, Lexa started laughing.
“I have heard that exact protest from Clarke.” Clarke immediately glared at her girlfriend.
“Like mother, like daughter, yadda yadda yadda,” Octavia said, bouncing on her toes with an unending well of energy inside her. “Start walking, and someone explain the rules.”
They started in Canada. Abby was immediately puzzled why they were walking counter-clockwise, but Bellamy explained easily as he passed around Labatts for everyone.
“This is how some of the Cast Members do it. Start in Canada, end in Canada. We’ll head for Mexico next, then Norway, China, Japan, Germany, Italy, America, Morocco, France, England, and Canada again.” He held his beer up, and all 8 raised their plastic cups of beer in a silent toast before they all took long pulls from the golden liquid.
Abby sipped hers and immediately wished for wine. She not-so-slyly farmed the rest of her beer off on Marcus, who was happy to carry hers as he sipped at his own.
“Right,” Raven said, chugging hers down in three deep swallows and crushing the cup in her fist. “Next.”
“Next” was tequila in the dark, crowded tequila bar in Mexico. Abby eyed the small shot in front of her warily for a moment, steeling herself until she was truly prepared, and then easily knocked it back before Marcus had even received his. Beside her, Clarke was doing the exact same to Lexa’s own astonishment.
“See! We can be fun sometimes!” Clarke announced, handing a lime over for Abby to suck. Marcus leaned over and kissed Abby’s hair before taking his own.
He coughed immediately.
“Griffins hold their liquor better,” Abby shrugged, grinning as she rubbed Marcus’ back.
“Griffins have a higher tolerance for shitty tequila,” Lincoln said, squinting along with Octavia as they eyed their own shots with suspicion.
Raven slammed her glass on the table. “They were five bucks, and I had to use each of your twitter accounts to follow La Cava del Tequila’s account to get that discount. DRINK.”
Norway had wine. Abby liked Norway.
The outdoor eatery she was sitting in was thankfully shaded from the sun and offered a bit of quiet from the din of the crowd wandering past the pavilion in search of booze and food. The others were all still inside, ordering what the menu informed her were called ‘glacier shots’. The name alone made Abby doubt their little group was going to survive the day in one piece.
“I got us a...thing.” Marcus came up behind her carrying some sort of pastry, as well as a Viking Coffee with Bailey’s in it.
“Does the thing have chocolate?” Abby asked, sipping her chardonnay happily. She accepted his kiss as he sat down and slid a pretzel at her. It was covered in chocolate and icing and dotted with glazed raisins. It was perfect.
“The thing has chocolate,” Marcus nodded. He pulled off a chunk and bit into it, then nodded to himself as he took a gulp of coffee to wash the pretzel down. “Raisins ruin perfectly good pastries.”
“Bite your tongue.” Abby pulled her own chunk off and popped it in her mouth.
It was sweet and salty at the same time, and the chocolate melted on her tongue like butter. If she hadn’t already tried the cream cheese pretzel in the Magic Kingdom, she’d have declared this her new favourite pretzel of all time. Alas, the pretzel from Tomorrowland still had her heart.
“I’ll bite something,” Marcus smirked, voice low. Abby felt herself flush even as she rolled her eyes; the man was insufferable, especially when he knew he could rile her up and not have to face the consequences for ages. She was interrupted by the voice of her daughter bursting out into the warm air.
“SHOTS!” Clarke’s voice called out as they filed into the patio and scattered around Abby and Marcus. Abby’s pretzel disappeared into Raven and Octavia’s mouths while Bellamy and Lincoln stole sips from Marcus’ coffee.
“Buy your own food!” Marcus yelped, retrieving his coffee from the boys. He sighed and downed the little that was left as Abby watched the rest of them toast with their glacier shots and down them as one.
“I don't know why we brought you.” Marcus sighed. Bellamy slapped him on the back and grinned down at him with a look that told Abby he was about to be a smart ass.
“You needed someone to look after you, old man. You gotta keep up with the young ‘ins if you wanna play this game.”
Abby laughed at the look on Marcus’ face for a solid two minutes.
The Jeweled Dragon Acrobats stepped into the pavilion just as they arrived. Abby, Lincoln, and Octavia all stopped to watch the gathered performers flip, spin, juggle, and jump underneath the beautiful, intricate arch of the China pavilion, awe on their faces as the acrobats topped act after act in front of their eyes.
“Have you ever tried plum wine?” Abby heard Marcus ask as he slid up behind her, handing her a plastic wine glass full of a deep red liquid. He slipped one arm around her waist and Abby settled against him as she sniffed the wine and took a tentative sip.
“No, but I like it. Try,” Abby held the glass up for Marcus to take a small sip. He grimaced.
“Nope.” He took a drink from the beer in his hand to wash the taste away. “Not my favourite.”
“You are so picky today,” Abby laughed. Marcus was usually the one diving headfirst into whatever new food they’d found, but today he seemed a bit...off. “What's wrong, Marcus?”
Marcus looked down at her upturned face and smiled, softly, planting a kiss to her lips in what she figured was meant to be reassurance.
“Absolutely nothing, Abby. I promise.”
Abby was about to call him on it further when Raven sidled up beside them holding a beer identical to Marcus’.
“Just get married already,” she sighed, not even making eye contact with them as she drank.
Abby tried hard not to tense while tucked underneath Marcus’ chin--they hadn’t had the marriage discussion properly, not really. Yes, Abby had stopped wearing Jake’s ring, and yes, Marcus had said he saw them getting married and growing old together and getting into arguments in the old folk’s home they were apparently destined for at some point, but they hadn’t really talked rings, or...god, even talked to Clarke, or Bellamy and Octavia. Abby certainly wanted to marry Marcus, that much was clear after a year and a half of dating (and five of trying to bizarrely co-parent the brood they’d found themselves with). He was it, he was the only man she wanted to be with. But did Marcus want to marry Abby? Sure, he’d talked about it, but he’d been very good at being stunningly single for so long…
“Beers, beers, beers,” Bellamy’s voice declared, and then drinks were being passed to those who chose to stay and watch the acrobats flip through the air at dizzying speeds. Abby shook all marriage thoughts from her mind. Now was not the time. Now was Christmas with her (drunk) kids and spending time with Marcus. She’d save the slightly stressful, future-deciding thoughts for when they weren’t all on vacation, maybe.
Or maybe not at all.
Yeah, that sounded good.
Germany had the following things: caramel, a Christmas store, Oktoberfest snacks, and tiaras.
The tiaras were the most important, or so Raven said.
Second to the drinks.
“Who wants jaeger?” Lincoln asked, standing at the front of the cart just inside the pavilion and counting hands as they went up. “Okay, so four of you are interested in dying, that’s good to know. Octavia, Raven, and I will have the Oktoberfest...thing--yeah, the beer, and--Abby! Kane! What are you drinking?”
Abby quickly catalogued her current state -- a few sips of beer and two wines down, with a bit of pretzel to line her stomach. So, barely buzzed, but needing food.
“Water!” Abby called. She turned to Marcus, who nodded the same. “Two waters!”
“CHICKENS!” Octavia yelled. Abby rolled her eyes at the girl and took Marcus’ hand to lead him to wherever the delicious aroma of caramel was coming from.
It was a Werther’s pastry shop, packed to the brim with both people, and every delicious, sticky, sweet smelling caramel treat imaginable. Abby almost went weak in the knees at the sight of the milk chocolate and salted caramel square sitting so perfectly framed in gold foil in the display window.
“Marcus,” Abby breathed, looking around the warm shop with bated breath. “I’m never leaving this place.”
“Well, we had a good run.” Marcus dutifully followed her through the line, letting her hand pull him along past the cast members tossing popcorn and drizzling caramel onto chocolate-covered s’mores. “You know what, scratch that. I’m happy staying here forever, too.”
Abby hummed happily as she scanned the case in front of her for the little slice of heaven she knew she wanted. She quickly ordered the square from the smiling girl behind the counter, then waited for Marcus to make up his own mind. He finally landed on the dark chocolate bacon square (Abby could have seen that coming a mile away) and paid for them both with the MagicBand attached to her wrist.
“Let them warm a little outside,” the cashier said while wrapping both treats in a clear plastic box. “They will be easier to eat.”
“We promise,” Abby smiled.
They wandered back out into the sunny pavilion, where their group of charges were all chattering away around a large sitting area lined with bushes. The girls had all apparently acquired intricate tiaras in their brief absence--even Lexa, normally so serious, was happily sporting one over her wild curls.
Abby and Marcus sat down next to Bellamy, and Marcus became immediately engrossed with whispering to boy in a way that Abby figured he thought was subtle, but was decidedly not. She chose to ignore his attempted sneakiness and reached over for the waters Bellamy had gotten them, instead--
“Mom,” Clarke whined. Abby looked up at Clarke’s tone at once and sighed as she saw Clarke attempting to adjust the thin leather of her gold-plated belt. “Help.”
“What have you done, kid?” Abby pulled Clarke over by her belt loops and went about undoing the back of the belt while her daughter took another sip of beer.
“I wore a tight belt on a day I planned on doing nothing but drinking and eating.” Clarke danced away from the belt as soon as she was free of it. “Thank you!”
Abby held the belt in her hand, letting the gold and leather dangle as she watched Clarke move further from putting the thing back on.
“Well, what am I supposed to do with it now?” Abby asked her clearly pleased daughter. Clarke froze and looked at Abby with “duh” written quite obviously across her face.
“You wear it. It’ll look better with your jumpsuit, anyway.” Clarke declared.
Abby sighed and handed the package of chocolate off to Marcus, who was now apparently done gossiping with Bellamy and extremely interested in the treat waiting for him within the container. The belt went around Abby’s waist with the gold metal glinting in the front; Abby was momentarily distracted from fastening it by Marcus pulling out her chocolate square and holding it up to her mouth for her to take a quick bite of.
“Mm,” Abby hummed, finally securing the belt and liberating the rest of her dessert from Marcus with a quick, caramel flavored kiss. “Thank you, my love.”
“Hey Bell,” Raven's voice was mockingly cloying as she watched Abby and Marcus pull apart. “You wanna put on some gross displays of affection and feed me some chocolate?”
Bellamy’s freckled face broke out in a grin. He yanked Raven forward until she fell into his lap, and proceeded to take a healthy sip of the beer she’d opted for in place of the jaeger Bellamy had chosen.
“No, but I will steal your beer.” Raven grinned and leaned her elbow against his shoulder.
“See kids? That's love.”
Italy had a wine bar.
“Okay,” Abby said, staring up at Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar with something like longing. “I'm going in here. Whoever wants to join me is more than welcome to, but I am stopping here right now.”
“Abby,” Raven sighed, looking at her watch. “We have a schedule to keep.”
Abby turned around to meet Raven’s raised eyebrows with her own.
“Kinda,” Clarke said. “We wanna be drunk before the fireworks crowds start to flood in.”
“And we wanna beat Murphy’s time,” Bellamy helpfully supplied.
Abby rolled her eyes. That explained a lot.
“You keep going, then. I’m stopping for wine and appetizers. Marcus?”
“Where you go, I go,” he said, smirking. Raven and Bellamy rolled their own eyes and grabbed the others to drag after them, even though Lincoln and Octavia looked lured by the idea of hanging out and eating food in a cozy wine bar.
“Hey, Abby?” Octavia asked, waving Raven off for a moment. “Can you hold on to my clutch for a while? I get the feeling I’m gonna lose it after another beer.”
Abby smiled and accepted the black and gold clutch from Octavia, squeezing her hand as she did.
“Of course I can, honey. Do you have your ID?”
Octavia pulled it from her bra.
“And your money?”
She stuck her green MagicBand out (which Lincoln had carefully hand-painted to have vines, flowers, and butterflies all circling an ‘O’ surrounding Mickey’s silhouette on it) to indicate that her credit card was stored on it.
“Okay. Have fun.” Abby felt Marcus’ hand slide to the small of her back as they watched the tiny, fierce girl run after the others. “Be good!” She yelled after her.
Marcus chuckled and steered Abby inside the bar.
“They’re adults, Abby. They’re not going to destroy the place.”
“I beg to differ, Marcus Kane!” Abby replied, indignant as they slid into a corner booth away from the main seating area. “Or do you not remember them almost burning your house down when they were sixteen?”
“Of course I remember that. I also remember you saving me by marching in with a fire extinguisher and a cross face and sending them all home while my kitchen gently smoked.” Marcus leaned over and kissed Abby, gently. She lifted a hand to cradle his bearded cheek and melted into his kiss happily.
Marcus lightened his kisses to place tiny, fluttering ones against her lips. “My hero.”
“Mm, damn straight.” Abby finally leaned back and picked up a menu. She glanced down at Octavia’s leather clutch and smiled slightly at the gold metal studs running across the edges of it. “I know she didn’t plan it, but Octavia’s clutch sort of matches my outfit.”
“Does it?” Marcus asked, carefully perusing the menu. “You both must have good taste.”
Abby flipped the studded bag over and felt her eyes go wide.
“Christ, Marcus, this is Valentino!” Abby ran her hands over the gold logo embossed onto the smooth leather. “I knew she and Bellamy’s line was doing well, but my god.”
“I like the studs,” Marcus supplied, helpfully.
Abby agreed, actually. She wasn’t usually one for labels, but she’d been learning more and more as Bellamy and Octavia climbed higher and higher as a designing duo. Their fashion house donated 50% of all of its proceeds to charity, including one that Anya, Lexa’s step-sister, ran for orphaned girls.
Abby volunteered to help whenever they ran a charity drive, and thus had been introduced to a whole world whose only draw in Abby’s first forty-odd years was inspiration for outfits she could put together using clothing that didn't run she and Clarke out of house and home.
Marcus ordered them each a glass of wine from the Italian server who greeted the cheerfully, as well as some sort of meat and cheese board that Abby declared her intent to marry as soon as she saw it.
“Buy it a ring first, at least,” Marcus laughed as Abby scooped some jam onto a cracker she’d already loaded with prosciutto and cheese.
“Happily. Do you think it prefers, white-gold, or platinum?” She savoured the taste of real food like a starving women who had...well, who had only feasted on a bit of pretzel and a ton of alcohol, actually. A liquid diet was definitely not for her.
“Mm, yellow gold, I think.” Marcus snagged a bit of cheese from the board and popped it in his mouth. “With diamonds down the band.”
“God, screw the board, I want that ring,” Abby said, almost absentmindedly.
She froze as the implications of the accidental bomb she just dropped settled over the table. A quick glance over at Marcus found him smirking slightly in some unreadable way that Abby both wanted to dwell on, and call him on at the same time. Did he think she was joking about wanting to marry him? Or was he hiding something? He was usually so goddamn easy to read that this secretive veneer he’d been wearing lately was wearing her patience thin.
“I think your marriage to some meat and cheese might be a bit shorter than one to a living, breathing human, but I support whatever strange decision you decide to make, my love. I promise to be jealous.” Marcus leaned over and planted a swift kiss to her mouth before raising his arm and asking for the cheque.
Well, what the hell did that mean?
“It’s weird that America has a pavilion,” Marcus remarked as they left Italy and entered the large walkway that spread across to a small amphitheatre. Abby spotted Christmas trees and garland everywhere--this must be where the Candlelight Processional was held, which Abby desperately wanted to see (but didn’t want to wait in line 3 or more hours for, because she was not a crazy person).
“It would be weirder if there wasn’t one.” Abby slipped her hand into his and wandered with him over to the Fife & Drum Tavern. “Are you going to get another drink?”
Marcus perused the menu (Gigantic turkey legs! Root beer floats! More beer!) for a moment before shaking his head.
“I don’t think I can put another drop of alcohol in my system for a while. I am not as young as I used to be.”
“Oh, thank god,” Abby sighed, and slumped into his side in relief. “I can’t finish this whole drinking around the world thing. I’d be blackout drunk by the time the fireworks started.”
Marcus laughed and kissed the side of her head, slinging his arm over her shoulder and steering her away from the Tavern.
“Okay. No more drinking for us. Just snacks and walking.”
“I don’t hate that idea at all.”
They split a funnel cake, instead, and Abby took great delight in the chocolate she dabbed from Marcus’ nose as they walked.
Japan easily had the best shop in all of the World Showcase. It was full to bursting with bright toys and candy and memorabilia, and there was an entire area dedicated to pearl discovery containing an open tank scattered with oyster upon oyster. A gong would ring every time one of the Japanese cast members unearthed a pearl for a tourist, and a chorus of laughter and clapping would follow. It was loud, and happy, and maybe a little cheesy, but Abby couldn't help but smile as they made their way through it.
She and Marcus perused a colourful display of silk bags before turning a corner and entering an area full of brightly lit trees.
“Marcus!” Abby gasped, grabbing his hand and pulling him towards a wall full of boxes. “Look!!”
It was bonsai trees--a whole load of them, of all types and shapes and sizes, with peaceful-looking display models sitting proudly out for kids and parents alike to look at and touch. Marcus stared up at the largest tree for a long, long time with something unreadable on his face.
“You remember?” He said, quietly. Abby looked up at him, squeezing his hand with her own.
“Of course I do. It was her favourite thing to look at.”
Vera Kane was one of the kindest people Abby had ever met. Even though she and Marcus hadn’t become proper friends until a few years ago, they’d known each other for a very long time--and so Abby, by extension, knew Vera even from childhood. She’d loved the older woman’s compassion and generosity, and often found herself delighted to be in her presence whenever she’d run into her over the years. In fact, it had been Vera who had persuaded Marcus to take Bellamy and Octavia in when their mother--his neighbour on the small block they also shared with Abby--had been killed in an accident. It was Vera who the two Blakes cottoned onto as a surrogate grandmother immediately, and it was Vera who guided both Marcus and Abby through the process of grieving while trying to raise teenagers; Abby lost Jake the year before, and had been stumbling blindly forward before Vera came along to gently usher she and Marcus on the new frontier they were somehow facing together.
Abby’s brightest memories of her were of sitting on the front porch of Marcus’ old victorian style house and drinking tea while Vera tended to a beloved bonsai tree that had been with her since her own husband’s death when Marcus was a child. The tree came to represent a great deal to Abby: acceptance, healing, and a sense of comfort and familiarity from the slow, gradual bonding of not only Abby and Vera, but Abby and Marcus, as well.
And then Diana Sydney had taken hostages in a local charity fundraiser that President Jaha was supposed to be attending, and Vera was just...gone.
They never found the tree. It wasn’t in her home, or in Marcus’, and none of the kids--try as they might--had been able to track it down. Abby suspected the tree had gone with Vera (as it had before) to sit by her side as she spoke of mindfulness and caring to potential donors of the shelter she ran, and so it would have been among the debris of the shooting and easily thrown away by the police.
“I haven’t thought about that in a while,” Marcus said. His voice sounded a little melancholy, like the memory hurt, but not in the way that it used to.
Abby reached forward and slowly slid one of the smaller tree boxes off of the shelf. She held it carefully in her arms and looked up at Marcus with a soft smile on her face.
“Let’s get one for her. To honour her. She’d be so pleased all those talks led to...well, this.”
“Me and you?” Marcus asked, smiling. His eyes were a bit glassy with tears he hadn’t shed. Abby held the box in one hand and reached up to cradle his bearded cheek, letting her thumb sweep gently under his eye to catch one of the falling drops.
“Yeah, me and you. And the kids. She knew where all of that was leading. She used to tell me that you and I would surprise each other one day.” Abby laughed. “I don’t know if she envisioned us taking a drunken brood of twenty somethings to Disney World, but I think we got some of it right.”
Marcus was silent. He just looked at her, with that smile on his face that said more to her than his words ever had--it was the “I am completely in love with you” look (according to Raven), and Abby felt a flood of happiness warm through her under his gentle gaze.
“Babe,” he said, taking the box from her and leaning over to press a kiss to her forehead. “We definitely got some of it right.”
“Marcus,” Abby said, slowly, as they slipped into the main arching walkways of Morocco and she ran her hands over the beautiful stone. “I want to go to Morocco. It's decided.”
They’d had the tree sent back to their room in Japan, which left them free to wander over to the next pavilion and disappear into its incredible corners and shops package-free. The only thing in Abby’s hand (Octavia’s outrageously overpriced clutch hung from a helpful loop on her wrist) was Marcus’ own. She preferred it that way.
“Hm,” Marcus hummed. They passed a small, gently lit shop with all kinds of traditional cloths and jewelry in bright oranges, blues, and yellows. “I've never been.”
“We’ll have to go one day.” Abby said. She brought them to a stop at the back of the pavilion and took both of Marcus’ hands in hers. “If you could go anywhere, where would it be? And here doesn't count.”
Marcus chuckled. He squeezed her hands and leaned back against one of the stone posts behind him, bringing her into his body so they could wrap their arms around each other's waists.
“Spain.” Abby looked up at him with her chin propped on his chest. How had he known that fast?
“I loved it when I visited it in my twenties. It was warm and vibrant, and full of personality. It reminded me of you, even though you drove me nuts. You'd love it.”
Abby smiled up at him.
“I’d love to go. Clarke and I only ever made it to France.”
“I'll take you.” Marcus pressed a kiss to her forehead, tenderly. “We’ll go, just you and me. See the world.”
“See Morocco?” Abby asked. There were happy flutters in her stomach at his words. So, maybe they didn't have to get married. What did a ring matter, anyway? She had him. They had each other. Nothing was going to change that.
“Definitely see Morocco.”
It was enough.
The first thing Abby spotted in France was her daughter.
Well, more specifically, it was her daughter kissing her girlfriend. They were both attempting to take a selfie at the same time while Raven and Bellamy ruined the shot behind them with obnoxious faces and flailing hands. Abby was incredibly happy to spot that bright pop of blonde amongst the relatively calm crowd scattered along the pavilion and bridge around France. She hadn’t seen much of Clarke today (though the trade-off of getting to spend time alone with Marcus was, admittedly, quite pleasant), and missed her after spending the last few months apart while Clarke was at school.
“Clarke!” She called out. Clarke reluctantly pulled her lips from Lexa’s to look around for the source of her mother’s voice. She honestly didn’t look too drunk, despite hitting four more pavilions than Abby and Marcus had. Abby was almost impressed.
“Mom!” Clarke stood and dragged Lexa along with her, looking immediately irritated. Abby braced herself for whatever drama was about to go down. “You’re late!”
“I...what?” Abby asked, flabbergasted. She looked over at Marcus for confirmation that she wasn’t going insane, but he’d somehow disappeared into the crowd. Lincoln and Bellamy were missing, too. What the hell was going on?
“You. Are. Late!” Clarke declared. And then she grabbed Abby’s hand and pulled her all the way towards the back of the pavilion, where a small shop containing Guerlain and Dior beauty products was hidden away next to a pastry shop that smelled absolutely divine.
Clarke went to work. She pulled Octavia’s clutch from Abby’s hand and opened it like a woman on a mission; a brush, a travel-size can of hairspray, and an assortment of pins came out of it and were pushed into Lexa’s waiting hands. “Marcus said he’d have you here at 6, and it’s 6:15, and you are already so late and you know how much being late drives me crazy--”
“Clarke!” Abby interrupted, eyes wide as her daughter wielded the brush and lifted some of Abby’s curls to spruce them up after a day of wandering outdoors. “What on earth are you doing? What am I late for?”
“Everything!” Clarke declared. She reached around Abby’s shoulder for Lexa’s neck and deftly plucked the open-ended gold collar off of it, sliding it easily around Abby’s while Lexa used the can of hairspray to fluff up Abby’s roots. The whole thing was overwhelming in its coordination. “Stay still!”
“What is going on?!” Abby was completely flabbergasted and more than a little flustered as her own personal makeover apparently got underway.
She didn’t get an answer. Instead, Raven and Octavia came out of nowhere wielding mascara wands and lipstick (obviously newly purchased, as the sales girl was looking at them with a twinkle in her eye, and not incredible amounts of suspicion, as Abby would have expected). Somewhere in the tornado of her girls, Abby lost her flats and was placed in a pair of sleek black heels, and subtle black liner was added to her lids while a simple, neutral lipstick went on her lips. Her hair was more full and vibrant than it had been a few minutes ago, and somehow Octavia’s diamond earrings went from her ears to Abby’s own. Clarke finished the whole thing off by pinning two curls back from the sides of Abby’s hair and twisting them into an elegant knot, letting the ends fall to blend in with the rest of Abby’s hair.
“I...what just happened?” Abby asked. She bent over to look at herself in one of the mirrors--she didn’t look too different, really, just freshened up and glittering a bit more with the added jewelry and re-styled hair. She liked it, even if she was extremely confused by it.
“Glam squad.” Raven nodded, looking Abby up and down with approval. “Girls, we did good work here today.”
“Yes we did,” Lexa nodded. "Even if we're fifteen minutes behind schedule."
Octavia was nodding along with Lexa's words as she pulled the last item from her clutch--a smaller clutch, which made Abby absolutely insane--and handed the large, envelope-sized one back to Abby.
“That’s yours, by the way. Little gift from Marcus.” She shoved all of the beauty supplies Clarke, Lexa, and Raven held into her own smaller one and hooked it on her wrist matter-of-factly. “You like it, right?”
“I--” Abby stumbled, staring down at the soft leather she’d been carrying around all day. “I love it, Octavia--Marcus bought it?”
“He picked it out. Said the studs were rebellious like you, or something. I don’t know what he was doing trying to find meaning in a Valentino rockstud, but that’s Kane for you. Anyway.” Octavia nodded to someone over Abby’s shoulder. “You’re late.”
“For what?!” Abby asked, turning around--
It was Marcus. He was standing in the setting sun of the pavilion in crisp, black pants and a white dress shirt with the top few buttons undone, dress shoes shining in the dying sunlight. He’d somehow cleaned up really well in the few minutes that Abby had been essentially glam-attacked, and he was waiting for her with his hands in his pockets and a smile on his lips.
“Get going, mom!” Clarke hissed, pushing Abby a little. “I had all this scheduled perfectly, don’t keep messing it up!”
“Clarke!” Abby heard Raven laugh, but she wasn’t paying attention--not really. Something important was happening here, something big and romantic, and she couldn't focus on anything but Marcus, her Marcus, standing there waiting for her like he’d planned this whole thing.
Which he...definitely had, come to think of it.
“Hi,” Marcus whispered as Abby finally approached him.
“Hi,” she whispered back. “I was afraid I wouldn’t see you again for a minute there.”
“I had those fears myself, what with the way Clarke dragged you out of here.” He looked at her, then, properly, taking in the jumpsuit and the heels and the curls. “You look beautiful, Abby.”
Abby raised her eyebrows and crossed her arms, leaning back to look him up and down again, even though she’d already healthily appreciated his form in those trim pants and snug shirt. “And why are we both dressed up, Mr. Kane?”
Marcus held a hand out towards the restaurant behind them--Chefs de France, one of Disney’s best--and shrugged nonchalantly. “I thought you’d want to get a little dressed up for dinner and the Candlelight Processional, that’s all.”
Excitement burst like fireworks in Abby’s chest. She reached out and grabbed Marcus’ arm, tightly, glancing back at the full restaurant with unabashed giddiness.
“Are we really going?” She asked.
Marcus nodded. He took her hand in his and led her around the centre of the pavilion to the green and glass front of their intended destination.
“Dinner, then reserved seats. Then fireworks. That sound good to you?”
“It sounds perfect.”
°o° °o° °o°
Dinner was beyond any expectations Abby could have had. The bouillabaisse was full of fresh scallops and mahi-mahi, and Marcus’ grilled tenderloin was one of the richest Abby had ever tasted. They drank wine--good wine, proper, not served-in-a-plastic-cup wine--and swapped bites from each other’s plates like the cliche couple they sometimes were, and shared a creme brûlée Abby was absolutely ready to die for, if it came to it.
They meandered slowly, bellies full of incredible French food, back towards the center of the World Showcase. Marcus kept his arm wrapped securely around Abby’s waist and Abby happily wrapped her arms around his own, feeling him place kisses to the crown of her head as they walked.
Abby was irrefutably, quietly, comfortably happy.
The Candlelight Processional was something of a gold and green blur. Four different choirs serenaded the assembled crowd as darkness descended over the park and millions of brilliant Christmas lights glittered all around the stage, setting an indescribable feeling of festiveness through the whole showcase. There were singers in heavy, ceremonial robes, and men in sharp suits and white scarves, and the whole place almost glowed with the feeling of Christmas.
Abby stifled giggles into Marcus’ shoulder as the celebrity speaker (Edward James Olmos, who apparently had been doing the Christmas Eve and Day readings since...well, ever) went on and on in his dramatic, gravelly voice about how Jesus had not left home until the age of thirty.
“Is he trying to reassure kids that it's okay to live at home with their parents for as long as they want?” Marcus whispered. Abby broke into a fresh set of giggles that actually earned her a few glares from some of the more serious Processional-goers next to them. “Because that would be a great way to convince Octavia to stay at home a little longer. We should invite Edward James Olmos over, have him give her a lecture.”
“I never want to hear another Christmas service, lecture, or speech if it isn't dramatically read by Edward James Olmos.” Abby laid her head on Marcus’ shoulder and continued to laugh, quietly, through the rest of his monologue.
The Processional wrapped up with a gorgeous choir singing carols, which brought happy tears to Abby’s eyes. Marcus quietly wiped them away with his thumbs and kissed her cheeks until she was smiling under his lips.
“Come on,” he whispered, taking her hand and leading her with the exiting crowd back into the pavilion. “It's time for fireworks.”
The Rose and Crown pub was without doubt the most famous location amongst the veterans of Epcot drinking adventures. Abby heard it before she saw it: an English-style pub, sitting just after the bridge from France, bursting with the loud chatter of voices and a live piano player floating out onto the softly lit street.
Marcus led her around the classic building to an outside, almost garden-like entrance. A sign out front said “closed for a private event”, which almost stopped Abby short before Marcus quietly spoke to the cast member standing at the reservation podium, and then he was gently directing her past the sign and down onto the concrete terrace that looked out across the whole lake of the World Showcase.
They were alone. The vined and wrought iron terrace was completely empty, save for a single cloth-draped table with a chilled bottle of champagne and two flutes sitting on it, waiting for them.
“Marcus…” Abby breathed. That feeling of that undefinable something was back, big and momentous--something larger than a surprise dinner and the Candlelight Processional. She had no name for the feeling or what it could be, but it caused a kind of excited nervousness in her that kept her holding tight to his hand as they walked.
“I thought you’d like a special spot to watch the fireworks,” Marcus said. “And champagne, of course.”
“Of course,” Abby laughed, a little watery. She wasn’t sure what had prompted Marcus to pull out all the stops just for Christmas Eve, but the warmth and affection and absolute love she felt for him made it all so completely worth it.
Marcus popped the champagne top easily and smirked at her as he poured them both a healthy dose of the bubbling alcohol. It tickled Abby’s throat pleasantly, warming her further until she was fit to burst from happiness. What an incredible man Marcus Kane had become; what an incredible man to surprise her so thoroughly, to make her feel so loved after the hope of ever being loved again had died with Jake. Abby quietly slipped into his arms and looked up at his bewildered face.
“I love you,” she said, softly. “Thank you. For all of this.”
“Anything for you, Abby.” Marcus kissed her sweetly.
They were interrupted by the final announcement of the night: the fireworks were about to begin. Marcus pulled Abby around until she was standing wrapped in the cradle of his arms, his champagne forgotten as they both turned to look in the middle of the lake, where the iron globe of the Earth lit up with the start of the Illuminations fireworks.
Abby was enraptured: the fireworks were spectacular display of light and sound. They showed off the very best of the countries Epcot represented, showcasing places from around the world on the globe as each pavilion’s lights glowed along with the exploding colours of the fireworks. Abby leaned her head back against Marcus’ shoulder and just watched them for a long time, letting her mind focus on nothing but the man behind her and the feeling of contentedness washing over her with each awe-inducing performance.
One of Marcus’ arms disappeared from around her for a moment. Abby immediately missed the warmth, but then it was back, like he’d never left, and Abby went to settle back against him, except--
“Hey,” Marcus whispered in her ear. And then a firework exploded in bright blue in the night sky to illuminate their little terrace, and there, in Marcus’ hand, was a velvet box.
Abby felt her knees go weak.
“Marcus!” She had no other word in her head but his name. Abby clapped her hand over her mouth and let his sturdy frame support her as he opened the box with his thumb to reveal a glittering ring set in the richest yellow gold she’d ever seen, with delicate diamonds around the band and an absolutely stunning, larger diamond sitting snugly at its centre.
“Abby,” he said, and he let tried to let go of her, probably to do the whole thing properly and kneel, but she wouldn’t let him--she couldn’t let him go, just now. For some reason, she needed it to happen like this, with both of them pressed tightly together. “Abby--”
“Do it like this.” Abby turned in his arms with tears in her eyes and looked up at his bearded face with a lightness in her chest that she hadn’t felt in years. She slid her hands up his lapels and rested them on either side of his thumping heart. “Like this, Marcus.”
“Okay,” he laughed. She heard the box close behind her and felt him pull her tight into him as he brought his hand up to hers and grasped it tightly, speaking easily over the fireworks. “Abigail Griffin, light of my life and pain in my ass--”
“--these past few years of leading this pack of kids with you have been the highlight of my life. You have become the highlight of my life. We’ve been through a lot, and we’ll probably go through a lot more, but I want nothing more than to do all of it by your side.” He let her go to open the box again and pluck the ring from its cushion, holding it between them like a prayer. “Will you marry me?”
All the air left Abby’s lungs. She stared at the ring, glinting with every firework that burst overhead, and she stared at Marcus, looking at her so tenderly and so happily. How could she begin to articulate what she was feeling? How could she tell him yes and contain every single one of her emotions in those three simple letters?
Abby drew in a deep, cleansing breath.
“Yes,” she whispered, and then she kissed him.
Marcus laughed into the kiss as she threw her arms around his neck, letting her toes rise to press herself against him as close as she could. If she couldn’t tell him with the words that were stuck in her throat, then she could tell him with her lips, and her body, and hold on to him so tightly that he’d just know she never wanted to let go.
She kept kissing him even as he reached backwards for her hand. Her chest rose and fell with happy flutters when she broke away to watch him take her left hand in his and slide the most beautiful ring she’d ever seen onto her finger. It fit perfectly. Marcus smiled down at the fit, rubbing his thumb over her knuckles, before lifting both hands to cradle her jaw to kiss her absolutely senseless as the fireworks crescendoed and then fell silent.
And then there was yelling.
And the kids were there.
They swarmed around Abby and Marcus like excited bees, jumping and laughing under the night sky. Abby let Marcus slowly pull away from her lips with a small groan and opened her eyes to grin up at him.
“Hi, kids,” Marcus said, looking only at Abby. Abby smiled with kiss-roughened lips and kissed him one last time before letting herself fall mercy to the men and women she’d helped raise.
“How many of you were in on this?” She asked, tucking herself under Marcus’ chin.
Conspiratorial grins were shared all around. All of them, then, the little schemers.
“Obviously Marcus had the engagement idea.” Raven helped herself to Abby’s champagne flute and took a sip. “I was on planning, Clarke was on dinner, Octavia was on accessories, Lexa was on wrangling the boys, and the boys were on the whole ‘run back to the hotel and get Marcus a suit and then get back here before you guys made it to dinner’ thing.”
“She was extremely scary.” Lincoln tipped his head at a smug-looking Lexa. “I’ve never run that fast in my life.”
“Bell almost died,” Octavia added. Bellamy nodded.
“And the jewelry? The belt? The clutch?” Abby glanced at the clutch she’d left on the table. “How did that happen?”
“Christmas presents. Marcus bought the clutch, as you know, and your necklace and earrings. Clarke found the belt, and I picked out your heels. We just slipped them on you throughout the day.”
“Oh my god!” Abby laughed, burying her face in Marcus’ shirt as her shoulders shook. “You’re all ridiculous!”
“Ridiculous geniuses,” Raven said, raising Abby’s glass to toast her cohorts. “To the future Mr and Mrs Kane! Long may they think they can tell us what to do while remaining adorably clueless!”
“Raven!” Abby sighed, but her protest was drowned out under a chorus of “here, here’s!” and tipping of the glasses of beer they all must have brought in from the Rose and Crown.
“Seriously, though,” Clarke said when the noise died down a little. “Congratulations, mom. Kane. You’ve come a long way, and you deserve this a lot.”
“Clarke,” Abby whispered, and reached for her daughter to fold her into a tight embrace. She kissed Clarke’s head and murmured for only Clarke to hear, “thank you, kid. For everything.”
Clarke nodded her head under Abby’s chin and squeezed her one last time before releasing her mother to wipe some sneaky tears from her flushed cheeks. Abby kissed her forehead gently.
“So, Kane,” Bellamy said, slinging an arm around Raven with a smirk on his face. “What did you get the rest of us for Christmas?”
“I got you a trip to Disney World!” Marcus protested immediately. “What did you get me, Blake?”
At that, everyone exchanged grins. Abby narrowed her eyes at every single one of her kids with suspicion creeping up her chest again. Honestly.
“We got you a day off.” Clarke said.
“Tomorrow is just for you two,” Lincoln added. “No kids and no interruptions for the whole day.”
“We even got you pre-ordered ‘we just got engaged and probably won’t leave the room for reasons none of us want to think about’ room service,” Raven chimed in.
“And we got you that Christmas tree package.” Octavia leaned into Lincoln and raised her beer at Abby and Marcus. “There’s a tree and mistletoe and decorations waiting in your room for you. No visit from Mickey and Minnie, though. Lexa was clear on that one.”
“Very clear.” Lexa nodded. “We’ll all meet for dinner at the hotel restaurant tomorrow night. Seven fifteen. Don’t be late this time.”
Abby felt tears well in her eyes. She looked around at the amazing men and women she and Marcus had helped shape. They’d all become such incredible people, despite the pain and suffering they’d all endured; beside her, Abby felt Marcus pull her a little tighter as he, too, silently observed their small army of do-gooders.
“We love you guys,” Abby said, finally, and if her voice was a little watery...well, that was only to be expected on Christmas, after all.
All seven of them raised their beers once more.
“Merry Christmas, future Kanes!”