Fanfiction to Published Novelist Finalist #3: “I Sing the Body Electric” by Zoe Kane

I Sing the Body Electric by Zoe Kane

Work: The 100

Pairing: Abby Griffin and Raven Reyes, The 100 (set post-season 2 finale)

 

She had no idea how long it was before she slowly edged back into consciousness again, but she was immediately aware that she was no longer collapsed on the ground inside the Mount Weather door.  Everything felt different, sounded different, smelled different.  Not like home, but not like concrete either.  She lay for a moment with her eyes closed, trying to analyze the strange sensations hovering at her periphery.  What was it?  Something was off.  Something was strange.  It took several minutes for it to click – it was such an alien sensation – but when she did she was so startled that she spoke the words aloud.

“I’m in a bed,” she exclaimed in wonderment.

“Good morning,” came Abby’s sardonic voice from nearby.  “Gold star for observational skills.”

Raven opened her eyes. She was lying in a large, expensive-looking carved bed, in an otherwise spartan bedroom, with no other furniture except a small chest of drawers and a wooden chair, in which Abby was currently sitting.  An open door nearby led to an equally deserted-looking living room, where the corner of a couch was barely visible.  No personal effects anywhere.

“Guest quarters, I suspect,” Abby explained, answering the unspoken question. “Or maybe they had more rooms than they needed. I didn’t want us sleeping on concrete, but the living quarters felt, well, too…”

“Haunted,” Raven finished for her, struggling to sit up.

“Exactly. But I did want to try and make you comfortable.”
“It’s morning, you said?”

Abby nodded, which when the penny dropped and the thing Raven really ought to have noticed first finally jumped out at her. Light.

“Right. So. I have good news and bad news,” Abby told her, watching Raven’s eyes flick upwards to stare at the electrical lamp shining merrily from the ceiling. “The good news is that the backup generator kicked on about an hour after you conked out last night.  The bad news is that the security systems aren’t on the backup generator. So we have light, and power, and oxygen, and heat, and food, and all that good stuff, but we can’t unlock the doors. I’m afraid we’re camped out until Wick arrives to jailbreak us.” She looked at Raven appraisingly. “How do you feel?”

“Lucid,” said Raven.  “Better than last night.”

“You were lucid last night,” Abby informed her. “Very.  You were having an anxiety attack brought on by the sound of somebody from the convoy using an electric drill.  Right?”  Raven nodded.  “Is it better today?”

“Yeah.  I think so.”

“How do you feel?”

“Hungry.”

Abby laughed.  “Good,” she said dryly, rising from the chair and making her way towards the bedroom door. “That’s promising.”
Raven pulled back the covers and stood up to follow her, then froze, suddenly startled by the whisper of warm air on bare skin alerting her that she was wearing only her cotton shorts and camisole, the rest of her clothes folded neatly at the foot of the bed.

“You undressed me,” she said to Abby, unable to keep a faint note of accusation out of her voice, though she didn’t quite know why.

“I didn’t think you’d want to sleep in your boots and jacket,” Abby pointed out reasonably, to which Raven couldn’t really argue.  “Get dressed, I’ll be out here when you need me.”  Then she left, closing the door behind her.

It took Raven a second to pin down what exactly it was, that strange electrical current that pulsed through her when she thought about Abby removing her clothes. Abby’s hands on her. Abby’s fingertips brushing her skin, gently easing the shirt over her head, unbuttoning her pants and slipping them over her hips, tucking her into a bed she had somehow located pillows and blankets for, after carrying Raven downstairs in her arms all by herself. When Raven realized what it was, it startled her. It wasn’t discomfort, embarrassment, awkwardness . . . it was regret.

Abby had touched her whole body, and she had been unconscious and missed it.

Her feelings about this were decidedly more complicated than they should have been.

She dressed quickly and opened the door to the living room to see Abby folding up a thin blanket, setting it on top of a flimsy pillow on a cramped ancient-looking sofa.

“Jesus, Abby, is that where you slept?”

“It was fine.”

“Now I feel like a jerk.  We can trade tonight.  I’ll take the couch.”

“Nonsense.  I don’t mind.  Better than my cot at Camp Jaha, in fact.  Here,” she said, handing Raven a cup and a plate.  “Breakfast. And coffee.”

The coffee was good and strong and black, and it made Raven feel human again.  The plate had a small pastry on it, glistening with crystals of sugar, and a heap of fresh fruit. She devoured it in seconds.

“I had some time to explore after I put you to bed last night,” said Abby, “and the good news is, we won’t be going hungry.”

Abby had finished her work while Raven slept, crates of medical supplies now neatly packed and waiting by the Mount Weather doors, so now she had nothing to do except appoint herself Raven’s new assistant. “I’m a doctor with exactly one patient,” she said firmly.  “You.”

Raven was uneasy about returning to the control room, but it was different with Abby there. Abby brought blankets and couch cushions to make them more comfortable, and several battery-powered lanterns, “just in case.” She took careful notes while Raven worked and dictated instructions, and disappeared from time to time to return with food – real food, not protein rations, things grown in the ground that Raven had only heard about in stories. Their system for hauling produce from Mount Weather to Camp Jaha was still limited, so they’d mostly been ferrying back sturdy things, like root vegetables and squash. Raven had never tasted a strawberry before.

“Stop working for a minute,” Abby ordered her each time, “and taste this.”  And Raven did. Strawberries first, later in the morning; then, a few hours later, for lunch, a plate of sliced tomatoes drizzled with a tart-sweet dark syrup – “balsamic vinegar,” said Abby – and thin slices of several dry, highly-spiced cured meats, alongside thick torn wedges of crusty bread. Then tea, in the afternoon, real black tea, not just weak forest leaves steeped in boiling water to give it some dull kind of flavor, but a sharp, brisk, richly-flavored Darjeeling with milk and sugar, served alongside impossibly delicate little sweets that looked like edible lace.

The drill did not return with Abby there. The drill stayed far away.  Raven began to feel like Raven again, drawing maps, examining wires, logging into the control room’s computer system to pull up building schematics.  She would, as it turned out, need Wick for this – which annoyed her – but her mounting excitement was so powerful it could withstand even that. With Wick and Monty’s help, she felt sure there was a way to funnel power from Mount Weather down to the camp. She kept her promise not to mess with anything, but she had done what she came to do.

Abby finally made Raven stop working to eat dinner, which they ate in their rooms; Abby was willing to brave the storage rooms and kitchens, but not the dining room where all those dead bodies had lain for so long. The little apartment felt unexpectedly homey, Raven thought, stepping inside to see Abby setting plates down on the rickety wooden table and pouring two big glasses of wine. “This was my deal with Sinclair,” she explained, handing one of them to Raven.  “I said if he couldn’t figure out a way to spring the locks from the outside and get us out for another night, then I would be cracking into the liquor storage.  He said that sounded fair.”

“What is this?”

“Bordeaux, it said. I have no idea what that is, by the way.  I don’t know anything about wine or food.”

“Could’ve fooled me.  Whatever you’ve been feeding me so far has been amazing.”

“Well, I have to look it all up,” Abby confessed as she returned to the stove. “The whole kitchen storage system is cataloged so it tells you what each thing is and where it’s stored and it’s cross-referenced to a library of recipes.”  Raven stared at her, which Abby misinterpreted and gave an apologetic laugh.

“Don’t worry,” she reassured the girl.  “I’m a scientist.  I’m really good at following directions.”

“You learned how to cook,” Raven said blankly, eyes wide. “For me.  In like . . . a day.”
Abby waved this off.  “None of this was real cooking. Just putting things on plates. And this was in the deep-freeze, I only had to warm it.”

“I don’t care,” said Raven, taking her seat. “You’re my hero.”  And as Abby brought dinner to the table, sat down and picked up her glass of wine, Raven clinked her own lightly against Abby’s and drank deeply.

The whole evening became a soft, languid haze of magnificent sensations.  The wine spread a rich, heavy warmth inside Raven, like a velvet blanket unfurling. The stew in front of her – a hearty, well-spiced concoction of white beans and sausage, flecked with greens, in a thick red broth – was savory and filling and lovely. She ate three bowls full, sopping up the last of the broth with more of the same crusty bread they’d had with lunch; no, she hadn’t baked, Abby explained laughingly in answer to Raven’s question, the bread had also been in the deep-freeze but warmed up good as new in the oven.

They spoke little, the silence between them relaxed and happy, both immersed in the sensory experience of eating like this. It was still such a novel experience to be free of Ark protein cubes, to eat things whose scents and flavors awakened long-dormant senses and desires inside of you, to feel content, to be full. When they were finished, and the bowls were rinsed clean, Raven poured the last of the wine into their glasses and moved to the couch. After a brief hesitation, Abby followed.

“Can I ask you a question?”

Abby sat down on the opposite end of the couch, drawing her feet up underneath her.  “Sure.”

“Why don’t you hear the drill?”

Abby understood immediately, and took a long thoughtful sip of her wine, unhurried, carefully considering her answer.  “I do,” she said finally. “I do hear it sometimes. And I see Jake being floated. And the blood on Clarke’s hands. With – ”  She stopped suddenly.

“With Finn,” said Raven, voice flat and heavy.  “You can say it.”

“Yes.”  Abby’s voice was impossibly gentle.  “With Finn.  I see it.  I see all of it. When I sleep. When I’m awake. When I look around the camp at those kids. I see it. But it doesn’t hit me the way you do.  I don’t know why.  We all experience it in different ways.”  She looked at Raven seriously, steadily, for a long moment, and answered the question circling around Raven’s mind without it even being asked. “You’re not weak, you know,” she said bluntly. “It isn’t a character flaw. The anxiety attacks. This wasn’t the first one, was it?”  Raven, startled, froze before finally conceding. “And you look at me, or Wick or Kane or Bellamy, and you don’t see them responding in the same way, and you think everyone has figured out how to sleep at night except for you.  That you’re the soft one, the weak one.  That they got to you.  You’re afraid it will be this way forever.  You’re afraid that it means they’ve won.”

Raven couldn’t look at her. But she didn’t have to. Abby was right, and both of them knew it.

Abby knocked back the rest of her wine, set the glass down and took the younger woman’s hands in hers.  “Listen to me, Raven Reyes,” she said, voice sharp with some nameless emotion. “You are the strongest person I have ever met. You are extraordinary. You are a warrior.”  She reached out a hand, almost absentmindedly, and tucked a loose strand of Raven’s hair behind her ear.  “But it’s okay for the warrior to admit that she’s survived a war.  It’s okay for her to admit that some of her scars are on the inside where no one can see.  They’re still battle scars, Raven.  There’s no shame in them.  You’re not weak.”

Raven didn’t speak.  For a long moment, they just looked at each other, as something electric crackled in the air between them, something hovering just out of reach. Finally Abby, ever sensible, broke the tension herself, rising from the couch to take both now-empty wine glasses over to the counter to set them by the dinner dishes before turning back around without quite looking at Raven, hips pressed up against the counter as her hands gripped the edge of it as though for balance, even though she was standing still.

“It’s getting late,” Abby said finally. “We should both get some sleep.  Now scoot,” she added, gesturing towards Raven, still on the couch.

“You’re on my bed.”

“Don’t be stupid,” said Raven, exasperated, making her way into the bedroom and stripping back down to her shorts and camisole.

“You’re not spending another night on a hundred-year-old couch.”
Abby didn’t follow her, didn’t even move.  “I’m telling you, it’s fine.”

“And I’m telling you, you’re insane. This is a huge bed, and you’re a tiny lady. Get in.” She climbed under the covers and scooted over to one side of the bed, leaving the other half pointedly open. Abby finally moved from the kitchen to doorway but hesitated there, looking from the empty pillow to Raven to the sofa and back again, her whole body taut with uncertainty.

“Abby,” Raven exclaimed. “Seriously. I’m never gonna sleep if I’m feeling guilty about you on the shitty couch all night. Will you please just come in?”

So Abby came in, perching hesitantly on the very edge of the bed, on top of the covers, and sat for a long moment facing away from Raven as if unsure what the next step in the process was.

“You’re still wearing all your clothes,” Raven pointed out.

“Well, yes.”

“Is that what you sleep in?”

“No.”

“Why are you being weird?”

“I’m not being weird.”

“Take off your pants and get in bed with me, Abby,” said Raven, in a joking voice, but the joke didn’t land, and she realized, with a tiny thrill, the reason why.

Abby was nervous.

Raven’s heart began pounding. If Abby felt nothing – if there was nothing between them – why had she slept on the couch last night, and why was she so uncharacteristically timid now?

She’s thought about this, she realized suddenly. She wanted to get in bed with me last night but she resisted and that’s why she’s afraid to now.

“Abby,” she snapped, a little too forcefully, desperately fighting to conceal the flutter of nerves in her own stomach.  “Just do it.” Perhaps to escape being forced to articulate an explanation if pressed any further, Abby gave in, switching off the bedside lamps to undress in the dark. Raven could feel her hesitant, quiet movements close by, and the soft rustling sounds of fabric falling to the floor made her swallow hard. Finally she felt the covers move and the mattress shift, and then all was still.

Abby was lying in bed beside her.  For a long moment, neither of them spoke or moved, just lay staring up at the ceiling in the darkness.

“Goodnight, Abby,” Raven finally whispered, rolling over to face her as her eyes began to adjust to the darkness and the curve of Abby’s form beneath the white sheets and duvet became visible.

“Goodnight, Raven,” Abby said back, without moving or looking at her, and Raven closed her eyes.

She slept for a little while, soundly and well, untroubled by dreams, soothed by the sweet sound of Abby’s breathing. She woke only once, in the middle of the night, when an unexpected sensation of chill roused her. She opened her eyes and rolled over and saw that the duvet had become entangled on Abby’s side of the bed, while she was shivering. Raven sat up, straightened the covers, tucked herself back in, and moved herself away from the cold edge of the bed into its warm center, so when she lay back down, the empty space between them was gone. Abby did not notice – might have still been asleep – but her body was blissfully warm beside Raven, suffusing her with a marvelous, silky heat. And so Raven could not stop herself from doing the thing she did next.

She lifted up her head and moved her pillow until it lay end to end with Abby’s.  Then she reached out her arm and slipped it across the velvety skin of Abby’s bare stomach, pulling her close, curling up into her. Their arc of their bodies fit together perfectly, smooth and warm and right. Abby said nothing, but Raven felt her soften, almost imperceptibly, and heard a small sigh escape her lips.

Abby was awake.  And she did not pull away.

Feeling a little bolder, Raven opened her palm and rested it flat against Abby’s stomach, letting her fingertips stroke the delicate skin just a little. Abby sighed again and melted against Raven, becoming liquid, pliable, and the heat where their skin touched made Raven feel dizzy. But in a lovely way, a sweet blissful safe way, with no fear or pain. Just this beautiful woman she was unexpectedly holding in her arms in the softest bed either of them had ever felt in their lives. She held her close. They slept.

 

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1 Comment

  • Isa
    Posted November 10, 2017 9:57 am 0Likes

    I loved the writing !!!

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