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though it's soaring still above your head

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With Clarke gone, Abby turns to Raven. Again.

“This is looking much better today,” she says, bent over Raven’s leg. Her hands are so gentle as they lay the bandage back down over Raven’s knee. She pats Raven’s thigh when it’s taped down and offers her a smile, fingers warm against bare skin.

She’s been by every day. It’s not like she’s the only damn doctor the camp has. It’s not like Raven’s really the one she wants to see.

“Thanks, doc,” Raven says, and plasters on a smile of her own. It winces just barely on the way up and stings inside like her knee does when it wakes her up in the middle of the night, the only time she feels anything below the hip on her left side anymore. Abby meets her eyes and her thumb falters in the absent-minded lines it’s been drawing along her IT band.

Raven forces her smile up that last quarter inch, and Abby’s eyes crinkle at the corners, relieved.

*

Wick brings her things with dinner. Spare parts, old radios, anything she can jimmy back to shiny new. Sometimes she does it right there in front of him between bites of food she barely tastes, just to show off. Gotta keep him in line, right? But mostly she saves them up on her bedside table for when she inevitably wakes, shaking and in pain. Having something in her hands helps her remember they’re not tied down anymore. She’s still bound up, maybe, but she’s not helpless.

The first few times, her neighbours turned and glared at the shine of her bedside light. She glared right back until they fucked off. She’s the goddamn saviour of mankind, alright, she can do what she wants.

Monty and Jasper visit, although not together. They’re good kids. Jasper is quieter than before, but he tells her stories from around camp, who’s doing what (or who), so it almost feels like before, back at the dropship. He probably makes her laugh more than anyone else, even Wick, although that’s mostly on principle. But it makes her hurt, too. When he leaves, she has to drop her head back against the rough grain of her pillow, shut her eyes against it all. It’s – too much has changed. Raven is infinitely adaptable, but at her core, she’s never wanted things to change. She just wants to have what’s hers, and to be happy.

Jasper makes her happy-ish. Monty does too. He looks over the work she’s done in the night, takes it apart and tries to replicate it. His specialty is software, not hardware, but he’s got the same kind of curiosity that she has. What can this do? What can I do?

Seeing him work hurts too, kind of. She doesn’t know. Everything fucking hurts. Welcome to life on earth.

Octavia doesn’t visit, but that’s whatever, because they never really spoke before either. But they nod at each other when she comes by to visit Lincoln, and that’s kind of nice. Bellamy does visit, but more than anyone else, Raven wishes he wouldn’t. He gives her reports –sitreps – of the camp’s status, of the negotiations being conducted between the new council and the grounders, of the restlessness among their people. That’s what he says, their people. Like Raven has a stake in this, or a voice. Well, that, or he’s still thinking like Clarke’s coming back, and he’s not thinking of Raven at all.

But before he leaves, he squeezes her shoulder, gruff. Every time. Somehow it’s more sincere than anything anyone else has done for her since they all stumbled back in here, bloody, miserable, and (although they didn’t know it yet) abandoned. She hasn’t told him to fuck off, mostly out of consideration for those last seconds before he turns and makes his soldier-spined way out.

Abby – Abby comes at noon, every day on the dot. She comes when the sun is shining through the med tent’s doors, lighting the interior with hope and optimism, chasing away the night’s shadows. She checks over Raven’s knee. Each time, when she asks how Raven’s feeling today, she runs a brisk, maternal hand over Raven’s shoulder, same place Bellamy always goes for. It’s completely different.

“Same as always, doc,” Raven says, and manages a smile.

One day, Abby is late. There was some kind of disturbance earlier, raised voices and the sounds of things breaking. For a brief second, Raven had considered flipping over her bedside table in solidarity, but she wasn’t sure she had the upper body strength to pull it off. Would have felt good, though. It’s been too long since she’s had a chance to break stuff.

Abby comes in an hour or two later than usual, and there’s something about the hurried, harried way she moves that makes everything feel shifted, one step wrong. She sits at Raven’s bedside and her eyes skip along the line of Raven’s legs bunching up the sheets, restless, like she can’t quite remember what she’s meant to say.

”Let’s take a look at this, then,” she says finally, reaching for the curled edge of Raven’s bandage. Their supplies aren’t infinite, so for the long-term patients they’ve been recycling them: bandage, bleach, rinse, repeat. Gotta make use of what you have, right? It looks sort of sad, though. Greying white against Raven’s skin.

When she’s done giving it a cursory look and making all the right noises, she lingers, and that feeling is still in the air: the off-ness. Raven shifts on her sitting bones, sheets tangling further between her ankles.

“Something went down out there today, huh, doc?” she says, more to fill the silence than anything else. She’s sure Jasper or Bellamy will tell her all about it eventually, Jasper if it’s gossipy, Bellamy if it’s – revolution-y. “Wasn’t sure you’d be able to swing by, with whatever it was.”

Wasn’t sure she cared, but. She taps her fingers against the thin mattress beneath her.

Abby makes a soft noise, a barely-there huhh of air. “Don’t be ridiculous,” she says. Her voice is almost steady, just like how, when Raven looks up, her mouth is almost firm. “I wouldn’t have missed it.”

Absently, she reaches out, tucks the sheets more smoothly underneath Raven’s calves.

Raven’s own mouth is less than firm. “Course not. Who could pass by this pretty face, right?”

Abby laughs; and it’s real, and it’s warm, and Raven soaks it in, biting the inside of her cheek like that’ll compensate later for how much some part of her wants this.

*

She wakes in a cold sweat, two weeks since they got back, and abruptly she is fucking done with this: the bed, the med tent, her fucking useless leg. She is especially done with these fucking nightmares. She doesn’t bother with the light this time. In the dark, she fumbles for the crutches that have been left beneath her bed for the daily ten-foot marches Jackson has been putting her through. She hoists herself out of bed and onto her good leg. The palm-sized heating unit Wick had left her to fix, the kind that was inside their zero G suits for cold walks along the carapace of the station that kept them all alive, gets tucked into the elastic waistband of her pants, and then she’s gone.

The stars are so bright after countless nights spent staring up at white tarpaulin. She doesn’t make it far, not with how bad her arms shake after those ten feet she’s been practicing. Just outside the med tent doors, she executes a mostly-controlled drop, settling with only a few winces onto some convenient crates. She stretches her bad leg out in front of her and sinks the toes of her good one into the muck of the ground. It had rained today, and between that and the busy come-and-go of the med personnel and visitors, the earth gives under the barest of pressure. It’s cool and slick against her skin and she sighs audibly, eyes closing and neck tipping back. After two weeks of dry, rough, sanitized cotton and nothing else, this is basically heaven.

It’s a few hours before she’s found. Starlight isn’t much to work by, and her eyes are burning by then from squinting at the little heater. It could also be exhaustion, probably. Doesn’t really matter; she has no intention of going back inside until the sun has risen and blotted out the stars. Raven doesn’t have much to cling to these days, so let anyone try and take these stars from her now she’s seen them.

Abby is the one to find her, of course. She stumbles out of the broken hunk of metal that they’ve been calling home and looks around blindly. Her gaze skips over Raven for a long moment before returning, bemused. Like Raven is out of place, like she’s an interloper in an early-morning view Abby knows by heart.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” Abby says. She looks exhausted.

Raven shrugs. Her tongue feels heavy in her mouth, as heavy as her eyelids. It’s been two weeks and – now that she thinks about it – she wonders if this is the same crate she’d waited on all night for Clarke to wake up. God, that was so long ago.

“You need to get back inside,” Abby tries, eyebrows drawn together. So concerned. So warm and so concerned.

Raven turns the heater over in her hands.

“What would you have done if you hadn’t found me?”

Abby’s frown is, once again, bemused. Raven has stepped off the track. Raven has gone against the assigned order of things. The stars are the so bright and the sky is so dark and they’re here, on the ground, and they’ll never be able to leave it again. They did that. Ten feet of mud between them and they did that.

“If I didn’t exist,” Raven says, and now her tongue is weighed down with bitterness, sticking to the floor of her mouth, “if there wasn’t a zero G mechanic up there with a boyfriend down here, the youngest zero G mechanic in fifty-two years, how would you have done it? Could you have done it?”

“Raven,” Abby says.

This isn’t what they’re supposed to do. Suck it up, Reyes, she tries to tell herself. There’s enough hurt out there. Who the hell is she to add to it? What would that make her if she did?

And isn’t this the best she’ll ever get, anyway?

She bites her lip, taps her thumb against the jumbled innards of the machine in her hands. It’s not enough.

“I wish you’d found some other way,” she says, looking up to meet Abby’s eyes. She feels cold. Abby stares back at her, still looking at her like she’s something incomprehensible, the wrong piece in the right place, and how did she get here? “I wish you’d found someone else and left me in fucking peace.”

Abby stares, then, “Raven,” and she’s coming towards Raven. Raven can barely process it, eyes blurring from how tired she is, just how tired she is; Abby comes close and reaches out her hands towards Raven –

Raven flinches back.

Abby goes still. There’s a look in her eyes, stiller even than the rest of her, like death. Like someone’s been floated, or like the sudden silence of a pulled plug. Like debris flaring into darkness in atmo and burning to nothing.

The moment stretches long, longer than almost anything Raven’s ever known. It barely feels real. Finally, Abby swallows. Her mouth twitches downwards before she gets it back under control again. “I wasn’t –“

She falls silent. Raven wonders if it’s that she doesn’t want to say it, or that she can’t. Can’t disturb the peaceful little aftermath story they’ve been playing out, these past weeks, pretending everything was a way it definitively wasn’t. But there’s no point to that now, Raven thinks. Not when Raven’s just gone and trampled over the shiningly clean floor of their little fantasy in her muddy bare feet.

She’d been wanting to break something, and now she has. It doesn’t feel real, in the way the world seems to rush around her and fall silent and still just inches from her skin, trying and failing to keep up a pretense of reality that she sees right through, okay; but it does feel good. Except for the part where she wants to cry, it feels so damn good.

“You can stop checking up on me,” she says. “I don’t – I don’t want you to. I don’t need you to.”

Something in Abby’s face crumbles. And Raven – it hurts, it does. But she’s lost so much already; what’s one more thing? And this one wasn’t even hers. Not really.

Her arms are kitten-weak as she tucks the heater back into her waistband and drags herself back up onto the crutches. She turns on her good heel and begins making her slow way back inside.

“Raven, I need you – I need you to listen to me,” Abby says. Then just: “Raven,” voice wavering. For a second, fired with spite, Raven wonders if Abby keeps repeating it in an attempt to reassure her that she knows who she’s speaking to. Then, even that spite is too much work, and it is quelled without protest, disappearing under the weight of Raven’s exhaustion like embers going out under sand. She can barely hold herself upright. She has nothing left to spare on Abby Griffin.

“Let it go, Abby,” she says. She doesn’t look back. She doesn’t say, I’m not her.

The only sound is the tap-scuffle of her crutches and feet as she makes her way back to bed. The tent seems somehow quieter than it has felt in days, like the walls are further away than they were and the sound is lost in that vast distance. She pulls herself up onto her bed, and she lies down, and she sleeps.