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femme aux phlox

Chapter Text

Albert Gleizes, 1910 - Femme aux Phlox

 

It ended the way it started:

With loss.

It wasn’t her husband or her daughter, not this time. This time it was what she’d come to think of as her own status quo, her place in the world, her purpose.

Her power.

Abby had never once aspired to sit on any kind of throne. She was a healer, not a politician, and her place on the Ark’s council was more about enacting change than searching for a place on the totem pole. She knew what she was: a doctor, and a damn good one. Simple as that.

But then there was Jake, and Clarke, and then the death of the Ark and its rebirth on Earth, and then there was...Marcus. Not Kane, the man who arrested her family, but Marcus, the man who made her Chancellor while he atoned for shock lashing her by striking out into unknown territory to bring her daughter back to her. The man who stood by her side while she stepped up to the role given to her and fought like hell to keep their people alive and safe. Together. A hard-won union of her heart and his mind that managed turn the bare bones of Camp Jaha into the flourishing community of Arkadia. Together, they inspired their people to build and fight for a new life on the ground that resembled nothing of the stars they came from.

That was gone now.

She knew she’d lose the election--she hadn’t really wanted to win, anyway, but Marcus needed at least someone to run against. They hadn’t counted on Pike, though. They hadn’t counted on the Ice Nation killing his people, they hadn’t counted on it inciting a fierce anti-grounder sentiment within Arkadia’s walls. Pike preyed upon that (and rightly so, even she and Marcus could agree that his pain was more than valid) and condemned them for their actions to try and back Clarke and Lexa’s coalition of grounders and sky people. They both lost by a landslide.

Abby left the announcement before the cheers of her people had begun to die down. She headed straight for the Chancellor’s quarters--for home--with Marcus’ faint shout of “Abby! Wait!” ringing in her ears and down the corridor. There was no stopping her now: she had one last mission, and she was going to carry it out before anyone could witness or force her to be publicly embarrassed. This, she had to do quietly.

Her quarters were already packed up. She’d known long ago that she wouldn’t win, but she’d always assumed that she was making way for Marcus, not Charles Pike. Now, looking around at the quarters she’d called home, Abby felt a sense of loss--not for herself, but for Marcus. She’d had her time and paid her dues. But this...this was meant to be Marcus’. It was meant to be a place he could call home after being fairly elected by their people. It could have been somewhere for him to retreat and read one of the books she’d snagged from one of their runs to Mount Weather, or for them both to privately strategize (or, perhaps, share a much-needed drink and just be quiet for a few precious moments together, as they'd done in the past).

They wouldn’t have that now. Abby picked up a backpack filled with her clothes and a box with the rest of her belongings--some medical textbooks, a drawing Lincoln had done of Clarke with the sun setting behind her, and a small potted flower that Marcus had told her was a lily when he presented it to her a month ago--and looked around the room one last time. She took in the slightly larger bed built into the wall with scrap metal, the desk, the worn-in couch that had seen many a working session turn into an impromptu nap session when Abby fell asleep on Marcus’ shoulder, and let her eyes drift over the walls adorned with paintings of nature that they’d taken from Mount Weather.

Her eyes fell on her favourite of them all--it stood out in its vibrancy, all purples and pinks and oranges creating a canvas of flowers in a room with a single vase sitting on a table, full to the brim with flowers that bloomed against the backdrop of another painting of more abstract looking flowers inside it. La Vie En Rose, it was called (and if Abby only knew that after searching Mount Weather's databases for it, that was no one's business but hers).

She wanted to share that painting with Marcus. She’d wanted to keep them all there for Marcus. She knew how much he loved the outdoors.

Abby tore her eyes away from the walls and opened the door to come face to face with the man she’d hoped would be moving into the quarters behind her.

“Hey,” he whispered, pushing off the wall he’d been leaning on to approach her with a soft look on his bearded face. “You left quickly.”

“I wanted to do this without an audience.” Abby turned and closed her--Pike’s--door behind her with a bit of a slam. She wasn’t sure she could face the pity she could see all over Marcus’ face. Abby didn’t want pity. She didn’t know what she wanted, but it wasn’t that.

“Now what?” He asked, gently slipping the box from her arms into his.

Abby looked down at the small box full of her meagre possessions in his grasp and couldn’t do anything but shrug.

“I’m homeless, I guess. I was so busy focusing on the election and Medical that I just didn’t think about what would happen after I lost my quarters.” Abby immediately fell into pace with Marcus as he silently started to make his way down the Ark’s grey corridors. “I’ll probably bunk in Medical for a while. We’re overrun, but there’s emergency cots and I don’t sleep much these days, anyway--hang on, Marcus, what are you doing?”

They were standing outside Marcus’ quarters. He was attempting to open the door with her box in his arms, finally succeeding with a quick grin flashed at her. He said nothing as he pushed it open with his foot and led her into the sparse room he’d called home since they’d landed on the ground. Abby curiously followed his sure form inside and watched him place her belongings on the immaculately tidy bed.

“I’m welcoming you home.” Marcus smirked down at her like it was nothing for him to just move her into his room without a second thought.

“Marcus, no, I can’t--”

“There are no spare quarters, Abby. We already have a population problem with the survivors of farm station. And you can’t sleep on a cot in Medical.” He reached out and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder like he’d taken to doing so often lately. “Stay with me. We’ll figure it out. Together.”

“Marcus…” Abby trailed off, taking in the militarily clean room and the contrasting art on the walls.

Abby hadn’t spent much time in Marcus’ room. They’d always been in the council room, war room, or her quarters, and thus she hadn’t discovered what art he’d chosen to pilfer from the Mountain for his quarters. He’d only taken one: a medium-sized, monochromatic, cubist painting of a woman in some sort of cape, sorting through strange geometric shapes with a window open behind her. It was so strangely Marcus, in a way--shades of grey and full of hidden meaning.

“I thought she was sorting through papers at first,” Marcus said, gently slipping his hand over her shoulder and sliding it feather-light down her back. “Like she was working. Turns out the shapes are flowers.”

Abby didn’t see flowers. All she saw was a woman with her head bent, intent on her task. She leaned back into Marcus’ touch and let his hand on her back curve into the gentle slope of her spine, his fingers resting near the nape of her neck. She let out a hum of contentment as they both looked at the painting.

“I’ll sleep on the floor.” Marcus said to the painting. Abby turned to look up at him, but he was resolutely avoiding her gaze.

“No, you will not.” Abby said, firmly.

“Yes, I will. My room, my rules.” Marcus said. “And frankly, the floor has to be more comfortable than that mattress at this point.”

“We both know you’re past the days of sleeping on floors, Marcus.” She smiled as he turned to her with amusement dancing in his eyes.

“Are you calling me old, Doctor Griffin?”

“Well,” Abby laughed, reaching up to cradle his jaw in her hand like it was the most natural thing in the world. “The salt and pepper here seems to think so.”

Marcus smiled until the corners of his eyes crinkled and his cheek bunched up under her palm. The soft hairs of his beard tickled her hand, but Abby didn’t let go. Instead, she swept her thumb along his cheek and chased the happy lines with the pad of her finger. She could actually feel tangible happiness under her thumb--a physical manifestation of his delight at her, even after a day in which they’d both lost everything they’d come to know after falling to Earth. She made him happy .

“Well, then. Old men need sleep to keep up with pain in the ass doctors. So,” Marcus smiled into her hand, reaching up to grasp it with his own and kissing the palm tenderly. “What’ll it be, Abby?”

She got her way. They both changed into their sleepwear in silence (a tank top and sweatpants for Abby, boxers and a t-shirt for Marcus), their backs turned towards each other, and then both silently slipped into his single bed until they were laying side by side on their backs. Marcus flipped the lights off with a careful reach, and then darkness blanketed them like an old friend.

Abby could feel the warmth of his strong body from where he was unavoidably pressed up against her. He was right--the mattress wasn’t the best one she’d ever slept on, but it was something, and having something when she suddenly had nothing was more comforting than she’d like to admit.

Well, not nothing. She had him.

“Marcus,” Abby whispered into the dark. She felt him shift a little and could almost make out his face as he turned his head to face her. Abby offered her hand towards him. “Hold my hand.”

A huff of laughter escaped him, but he did it. His fingers trailed up her forearm, sending goosebumps all over her, before he let his fingers gently explore the contours of her own. It wasn’t until their fingers were perfectly linked that he finally stopped moving.

Abby smiled. This had been a bad day--not her worst, not by far, but definitely up there. Yet here she was, homeless but not really, alone but not really, sad but not really, and something just felt...right.

She gently lifted their hands towards her chest and turned on her side to face him. She laid their entwined fingers next to her cheek on the pillow and patiently waited as he followed suit. Abby could definitely see the outline of him in the dark now, all soft and strong, his face taking on a half smile as his eyes met hers over the tangle of their fingers.

“Hi,” he whispered.

“Hi,” she whispered back.

Abby leaned forward and kissed the back of his hand lightly. She settled into the bed then, finally comfortable under his sheets, and let her eyes close as she felt an answering kiss pressed gently against her own.

Chapter Text

They came for him in the middle of the night.

Marcus had been stripped of his guard duty only a week earlier, his face crushed with defeat as Chancellor Pike relieved him of his jacket and position. He’d come back to his (their) quarters and simply climbed in next to her, letting her cradle his head against her neck as he silently and angrily breathed his way through accepting his fate. Abby had wrapped her arms around him and held him until he fell asleep.

In that week, Marcus had started a small rebellion. Pike was bent on going to war with the Grounders. Arkadia was on lockdown--no one in, no one out. And everyone who had dared speak up was either in jail or dead. There was no way Marcus could have stood by and let their people die in a war they couldn’t win, so he and a small group (including Abby herself) had snuck Octavia Blake out of the camp and sent her to warn their former allies of the coming attack.

From that moment on, they’d both known they were living on borrowed time.

A series of small knocks woke them both. Abby’s eyes snapped open into the inky black darkness of Marcus’ quarters, her eyes searching for his frantically from where he lay facing her, one hand buried in her hair and the other wrapped underneath her waist.

Abby let her body uncurl from his as he climbed over her and headed for the door. She slipped out of bed, too, and came up behind him--if they were going to drag him away, she was going to be right by his side to fight for him.

It wasn’t Pike, though. It was David Miller.

“Sir.” Miller ducked his head to look up and down the corridor. “I just got word. Pike convened the Council and put through an emergency vote--they’re coming for you. Indefinite imprisonment, effective immediately. Doctor Griffin is being confined to quarters.”

Abby felt her stomach drop.

“You’re taking a big risk by coming here, David,” Abby whispered.

“You two got us down here, and you and your daughter saved my son. It’s the least I can do.” Miller nodded to them both. “You have ten minutes, maybe less.”

And then he was gone. Marcus slowly closed the door, his shoulders set in a hard line, his face totally resigned to his fate. Abby slid her hand down his arm and took his hand in hers.

“Run, Marcus.” Abby pleaded.

Marcus shook his head.

“I can't. I broke the rules, and I accept the consequences.” He looked at her then, a small smile quirking across his lips. “You were strong enough to do that, once. Now it's my turn.”

He let go of her hand and reached for the small bureau they both kept their clothes in. Abby could do nothing but watch as he methodically selected every clean piece of clothing--his favourite pants with the ridiculous zippers, the soft, worn grey shirt she had last stolen to sleep in, and his beat-up jacket with the leather patches that had become so familiar to her over the last few months. One by one, he donned each piece like armour, until he was carefully tucking his pants into his heavy boots and lacing them with precise knots.

Abby waited for him to finish before quickly slipping on her black pants and long sleeve shirt. Unlike him, she didn't much care how Pike and his guards found her. Marcus had pride and would present himself fully shielded. Abby just had anger.

“Abby,” Marcus began. He trailed off for a moment before letting his eyes fall on the painting of the working woman on the wall. “I--There’s too much to be said and no time to say it.”

Abby watched him rise from the bed and begin to prowl, a caged animal, around the small space of their quarters. She knew exactly how he felt. How was she supposed to say goodbye to the man who had become her rock? Her port in the storm, the steady hand on her shoulder, the man who took her in and held her at night, the man that she never thought she’d trust with her life, but now trusted with her heart, too. How could she even begin?

“Don't say goodbye.” Abby lifted her eyes and met his, defiantly. “Don't say goodbye to me, Marcus Kane. Say anything else, but don't say that.”

“I might not get another chance. Pike could have me killed--”

“No.” Abby said, voice deadly. “I will keep us all alive. I will not let him take you after we only just…”

Abby trailed off, feeling angry tears prick her eyes. She always gave herself away in these moments--there was no hiding, because her damn face betrayed what her voice couldn't say.

“Abby.” Marcus stood in front of her, face full of determination and fear, too. “Finish the sentence.”

“Finish it for me,” Abby automatically snapped.

And then he did. Marcus took one step towards her and crashed his lips onto hers with a force that pushed Abby back a little, even as his hand on her jaw steadied them both. Abby melted into him at once--this was what she wanted, this was what she couldn't say. She wanted this. Desperately. But time was running out, and the only way she could think to tell him was to wrap her arms around his back and neck and bury her hands in his soft hair, giving as good as she got as his lips pressed lushly against her own and opened of their own accord.

Abby didn't think. She just pressed her body against Marcus’ and let herself get carried away; he gathered her even closer, his arms around her shoulder and waist and pulling her flush against him until her breasts pressed against his hard chest, and her hips collided firmly with his own.

“Abby,” Marcus gasped as he pulled away a little, panting against her mouth as they both caught their breath for a moment. “The woman in the painting--”

“Shut up, Marcus,” Abby whispered against his lips, and kissed him again. She could hear all about his art choices later. Now was all they had, and now was expiring faster than sand through an hourglass.

Abby broke away from his mouth to place kisses all along his cheeks, forehead, closed eyes, before nudging her nose against his and kissing him once more, soft and tender.

“Marcus, I--”

Boots thundered down the hallway. They were running out of time--

“Abby, the painting--”

“Not now, Marcus,” Abby whispered, feeling traitorous tears gather in her eyes. “Tell me later. When we’re free.”

“That may not ever happen, Abby.” Marcus brushed her hair back from her face and kissed the top of her head. “If this is it--”

“May we meet again.” Abby looked up, cradling his face in her hands and forcing his eyes to meet hers. “Say it. May we meet again.”

Marcus looked at her for a long moment. The soundtrack to their goodbye was made up of footfalls and hitched breaths; desperate hands grasped at any part of the other that they could find until they were wrapped tightly around each other, Marcus’ eyes tearing from her blazing ones to hide his face in her hair.

“May we meet again.” He whispered.

The door clanged open.

Marcus pulled away just a little, just enough to see past Abby to the dozen guards Pike had sent to march him to his new home.

And then there was Pike, coming through their armed formation with his head held high.

“Marcus,” Pike said, nodding. “Abby.”

Abby turned in Marcus’ arms to face Pike. She planted her feet and raised her chin as if daring Pike himself to try and take him from her. Behind her, Marcus’ hands slid from her shoulders and dropped to take one of her hands in his; warmth filled her body at his touch, even as cold anger burned in her very heart at the men in front of her.

“You didn’t need to bother with the armed escort.” Marcus’ sounded resilient, even if she could feel the tremor in his hands. “I intend to come without a fight.”

“Well, you can never be sure when arresting a man for treason.” Pike said.

“No,” Abby snapped, eyeing Pike up and down. “You can’t. Brought any impressionable teenagers with you this time, Charles?”

“Abby.” Marcus’ whisper was more of a warning.

Abby turned her head to look at him. What the hell did she care what she said? They were arresting him and locking her in his quarters, only letting her out to play doctor for their people (because they were still their people--her people--even if they’d rejected she and Marcus). Her daughter was well settled in Polis with a war to plan. She had nothing to lose.

“Doctor Griffin is to be placed under 24 hour watch. She is only allowed out of this room to attend to her designated shifts in Medical. Is that understood?” Pike addressed his men, who all nodded.

Abby looked away from Marcus’ pleading gaze and smiled at Pike without a trace of humour.

“The last man who arrested me and confined me to quarters for doing what I thought was right wound up handing me the Chancellorship.” Abby squeezed Marcus’ hand. “What will happen to you, I wonder?”

“Is that a threat, Doctor Griffin?” Pike asked, almost amused. Abby levelled her best scornful glare at him.

“An observation, Charles.” Abby said, evenly.

“Noted.” Pike raised his eyes to Marcus. “Time to go, Kane. Tell your bodyguard to stand down.”

Marcus pulled her around to face him. Reproach was all over his face at the display she’d put on. It felt right, somehow, that their parting would include him being irritated at her. It was familiar. Safe.

“I know. Keep yourself alive,” Abby whispered. She raised their joined hands and kissed the earth-roughened palm that she’d become so accustomed to feeling wrapped around her own, even in sleep. “I will come for you, Marcus.”

“Don’t.” Marcus took their joined hands in his own. “Don’t do anything to jeopardize yourself, Abby. Keep your head down. Make sure Clarke is ready. Keep our people safe. Be my Chancellor.”

Abby could have sobbed. She didn’t though--she was made of sterner stuff, and grown strong on the ground, and so she held in every single part of her that screamed for her to cry and rage and collapse and channeled it all through her spine, holding her tired body up like steel.

“May we meet again.” Abby didn’t whisper, this time--she said it loud, loud enough for Pike to hear, loud enough for him to know that she intended on seeing Marcus Kane again. It wasn’t a threat. It was a promise.

“May we meet again.”


It wasn’t until they’d marched Marcus out and left her alone, curled in their bed with her knees drawn up to her chest, that she raised her eyes to the painting once more and finally realized what he’d been trying to tell her.

 

It was her.

Chapter Text

Time slowed to a crawl under Pike’s reign.

Abby’s days of balancing leadership with her duties in Medical were gone, replaced by a mind-numbing and exhausting routine. Every morning she rose in Marcus’ quarters, and every morning one of Pike’s guards would arrive to escort her to Medical, where she’d work and work until another guard came to take her home. She hadn’t seen the outside in what felt like weeks.

It was as if she’d never come to the ground at all.

The one shining beacon of her days was the visits she’d get from the kids. Octavia was gone and Bellamy...well, she preferred not to think about Bellamy, but Harper, Monroe, and even Monty and Nathan often popped by for “visits” in which she’d carefully examine tiny bruises and cuts while they slipped her information on the outside.

From what she could tell, Pike had gotten his war, but not the one he’d wanted. Clarke and Octavia had managed to get to Indra and what was left of Trikru, as well as eleven of the twelve clans, and avert a war with Skaikru by the not unfateful timing of Thelonius Jaha and his cult of followers. Instead of fighting the Grounders, Pike was embroiled in a vicious power grab by an unstable Thelonius, who Harper reported could be seen talking to thin air at any given time. The last she’d heard, Thelonius planned to march on Polis to strike some sort of deal with Lexa.

Abby had not been idle in that time. For days she’d worked with the remaining kids to cobble together some sort of rebellion against Pike. Raven had been her main source of information and planning, but then Monroe had turned up one day with word that Jaha had given Raven some strange chip to ease her pain, and Raven just...disappeared. From then on, it was Abby and the disgruntled kids of Farm Station who couldn’t stand for what their parents had done in the name of safety that worked to try and free their best and brightest from prison and take on Pike. It was slow going, though, and Abby’s hands were tied tight by the constant shadow of her guards. She did what she could--she passed messages and patched up her rebels, and didn't question Harper when she asked for a series of sedatives that she helped the girl smuggle out of Medical in her jacket.

She missed Marcus. The longest they’d ever been separated on the ground was the few days he’d spent in Lexa’s captivity, and now weeks had passed since she’d last set eyes on him. The nights were now full of fitful sleeps and stress-induced nightmares that often threatened to drown her without the calming touch of Marcus’ hand on her waist (or buried in her hair, or clutching her own so tightly that she had no idea where he ended and she began). The days were spent caring for their people and trying very hard not to bring up the mental image of Marcus imprisoned or tortured. She’d even begun to sleep with a gun she’d found tucked under the mattress just to feel some sort of safety. There’d been a time when she’d hated guns, but she’d gotten used to the smell of gunpowder that always seemed to rest in the crook of Marcus’ neck, and besides...she was on her own. No one was going to defend her, so she had to defend herself. And that’s what she’d tell herself every night as she tried to fall asleep in the bed that she'd shared with the one person on Earth she knew would protect her with everything he had in him, just as she would him. Just as they both would protect her daughter.

It was a week after Raven disappeared that she was woken from the first sleep she’d had in months to her door swinging open without her permission.

Adrenaline flooded her system. She carefully slipped her hand over to Marcus’ side of the bed and retrieved the handgun under his pillow, moving silently from under the sheets even as her hands shook and her brain screamed for her to run.

“Abby?”

She froze.

It was Marcus.

Abby scrambled for the switch on the wall and slammed her hand on it.

There he was, suddenly in startling brightness, beard and hair longer, jacket gone and clothes a little dishevelled, but unscathed and whole and there in front of her like he’d never left. She froze for a moment in complete shock at the sight of him turning his head to spot her crouched on their bed in one of his shirts and a soft pair of shorts she’d also pilfered from his wardrobe.

“Marcus.” Abby choked out.

The gun was tossed aside as she climbed quickly from the bed and crossed the room to him at a run, throwing herself into his arms and wrapping him tightly in her own as a sob escaped her throat.

“How did you escape?” Abby asked with her face buried in his neck. "I've been trying to get you out for weeks."

“Harper drugged the guards with the sedatives you gave her.” Marcus pulled back just far enough to frame her face in his hands. “They didn't want to involve you in case in backfired. Octavia’s back, too. Beat the shit out of Bellamy. You’ll have to deal with that later.”

“But Pike--”

“Is currently in some sort of strange coma, according to Raven. Took one of those chips Thelonius had. I got the impression it wasn’t willingly.” Marcus brushed her hair back from her face in some attempt to smooth out her mussed ponytail.

“Raven?!” Abby gripped his shoulders tight. “She’s alright?”

“She’s with Octavia and Sinclair. She’s okay. She didn’t want to wait to say sorry, so she sent me with her apologies and a promise to let you kick her ass later.”

“Thank god,” Abby sighed. She ran her hands down his chest to rest her hands over his heart. “Is it over now, Marcus?”

Marcus smirked a little and Abby resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

“Okay, is this current crisis over?” She amended.

“Yes.” Marcus leaned in and placed a kiss to her forehead almost reverently. “In the morning we head for Polis with whoever will come with us. We have to get to Clarke and stop Thelonius.”

Abby looked up at him. He was smiling with tired eyes, but he was there. She could feel his heartbeat under her fingertips. He was home.

“So we have tonight?” Abby asked, slowly.

“We have tonight.” Marcus pulled her closer and tipped his head down towards hers, whispering against her lips. “Tonight, we’re free.”

And then he kissed her.

Abby groaned into his mouth and kissed him back fiercely. He was pliant beneath her fingers, his body melting into hers like it had done so hundreds of times before, and not for the second time in their lives. She held tight to his shoulders to lift herself up and wrap her legs around his waist, and felt a thrill shoot through her as his arms came up to automatically support her without either of them having to break their kiss.

Marcus walked them over to the bed with his mouth hot against hers. He broke away from her in order to lay her carefully on the rumpled sheets and let out a laugh as her greedy hands pulled him down on top of her without letting him even stop to take off his boots.

“Abby,” Marcus mumbled against her mouth. “I gotta get my boots off.”

“In a minute.” Abby was far too busy peppering kisses down his neck and biting at the spot where his neck sloped into his strong shoulders. He somehow still smelled of gunpowder.

She’d gone long enough without feeling him near her--she wasn’t about to give him up now.

“Just--hang on a sec, you have no idea how much I don’t want to let go right now.” Marcus pushed himself off of her for a moment to reach for his boots. He spotted the gun at the same time and placed it carefully on the table behind him, seeming to understand why she'd had it in the first place.

Abby took the opportunity to divest herself of his shirt. She waited with a small smirk on her face for him to turn back around, his eyes widening in shock at the sight of her naked from the waist up and dressed only in his too-big workout shorts. Abby watched him take in her round, full breasts and toned stomach and silently congratulated herself on striking Marcus Kane dumb.

“I wanted to do that.” Marcus growled and reached for her, free of his boots and socks, pressing her back into the mattress and blanketing her body with his own as he kissed her, hard, and let his hands wander down her bare sides to slip under her shorts and palm her ass in his hands.

“Marcus,” Abby gasped, feeling him lift her hips and press her against his hardness through his pants. She cradled his hips between her legs and ground herself against him, seeking friction, seeking him, desperate for him in the same way his eyes told him he was desperate for her.

“Oh god, Abby.” Marcus gasped in her ear as her legs squeezed his hips. He took her mouth in a kiss before making his way down her neck and leaving hot, open-mouthed kisses against her tingling skin, finally arriving at her breasts to take one of her peaked nipples into his mouth.

Electricity shot through Abby’s body from where his lips sucked eagerly at her breast. She felt the ache between her legs increase tenfold and let out a breathy cry when he left one nipple to tease his way over to the other. It was almost unbearable, almost too much, and the only thing keeping her grounded was the grip she had on his shaggy hair.

“Marcus,” Abby groaned, arching up into his eager mouth. “Marcus, strip.”

Marcus’ lips popped off her nipple. He raised his head to look at her--he wasn’t smirking, as she half-suspected he might be, but instead looked completely wrecked in an attractively mussed kind of way. He let her go to sit up between her knees and pull his shirt over his head, and then all of the sudden there was shirtless Marcus breathing heavily in front of her.

Abby sat up just enough to reach for his belt. She kept her eyes locked with his as she undid the worn leather and unclasped the button on his pants, lowering the zipper and brushing her fingers against his hard cock where it still rested in his boxers. Marcus’ small grunt and jerking hips gave him away just as much as his hardness did.

She let him go. Abby lifted her own hips up, instead, and shimmied her way out of his shorts. She lay there naked before him and smirked as he took her in for the first time.

“Tease,” Marcus growled. He dove for her mouth and kissed her with a hunger she’d forgotten existed. She drifted her hands down to shove at his pants and underwear, and together they both managed to push and kick at the clothing until he, too, was naked.

Abby held his body between her legs as he teased his way down her chest, his beard tickling her skin and sending shivers up her spine. He made a brief detour to nip at the underside of a breast before sliding lower and lower until he came to rest with his face happily nuzzling between her thighs.

“Oh,” Abby breathed, letting her hands fall to bury in his hair as he brushed his nose against her swollen clit, kissing his way up her wetness. She took a deep, shaky breath when she felt his lips slip around her clit and his tongue slowly begin to rub around the over stimulated bud while her legs trembled on either side of his eager face. Abby hadn’t had anything but her own touch for so long; it was a shock to feel something other than her own hand at her centre and she revelled in it, drinking in every scrape of Marcus’ beard against her thighs, every hungry lick of his tongue against her.

Marcus ate her with unabashed gusto. He held one of her thighs in his hand while he used the other to slip one, then two fingers into her and crook them forward while his tongue flicked and then lapped at her slippery clit.

Abby arched her hips into his face and tried to push herself harder against his tongue. Marcus obliged her silent request by sucking tightly on her clit for a moment before laying his tongue hard against it and rubbing messy, hard circles with the tip. Abby felt the tremors travel up from between her legs and spread like white-hot heat through her chest and she was coming, gloriously, crying out with the intensity of her orgasm.

Marcus placed tiny kisses against her as she came down. Abby grabbed his hair and pulled him upwards to kiss her taste from his mouth.

They didn’t speak. Communication between them was something they used to fail spectacularly at--shouting at one another while not hearing a thing the other had to say--but they’d come so far and changed so much that one look from Abby had Marcus lining himself and slowly, achingly pushing his cock inside her. She ran her hands up and down the flexing muscles of his back as he pulled out and thrust inside her again. Her fingers found the firm swell of his ass and she dug them in while lifting her legs to hold his hips tight between them, keeping him close while he smoothly glided in and out of her.

“Fuck, Abby.” Marcus breathed, bucking into her as she ran her hands up his back and grasped his shoulders.

He slipped his arms under her shoulders and cradled her head in his hands, lifting his head to kiss her. He let his tongue slip against hers as his hips moved him inside her and Abby chased the shape of his lips with her own, lost in the feeling of Marcus in her and surrounding her like he was a man willingly drowning in her depths.

Marcus broke away and rested his forehead against hers. He was speeding up, now, stretching her deliciously and pumping his hips faster and faster, plunging himself into her again and again. They breathed together as he approached his peak, and then Abby was crying out at the feeling of his clever fingers slipping between them to play her clit once more.

“Abby!” He gasped, thrusting into her, hard, before his hips stilled and he came inside her with a hoarse cry, his frantic fingers slipping against her clit just hard enough to bring her after him.

They both collapsed. Abby went boneless against the bed while Marcus’ trembling frame sunk his weight on top of her. She savoured the heavy feel of him covering her so completely--after weeks of being separated they were joined more intimately than they ever had been and it felt right, and Abby wanted to hold onto that feeling for as long as possible.

Marcus lifted his head just enough to press sweet kisses along her hairline and down her nose. He took her mouth in a gentle, deep kiss that said more to her than words possibly could.

Abby placed one last kiss to his lips and smiled up at him.

“I was afraid I wouldn’t see you again.”

Marcus’ answering laugh reverberated happily through both of their chests. He ducked his head and kissed her shoulder, whispering his answer into her skin.

“I had those fears myself.”

She smiled and looked up, past him, at the painting on the wall that he’d chosen to remind himself of her.

Abby finally saw the flowers.