This is for @abbygriffindaily ‘s fall fest Day 3: Pumpkins
Pairing: Abby Griffin/Marcus Kane
Set in season 2. Sometime in October before Mt. Weather.
He’d found them at a tiny stall in a traveling marketplace and felt absolutely awestruck. Of all the things that had used to grow on earth, they were the most fascinating. Deep orange in color (something they almost never saw on the Ark), and giant, at least compared to most of the other produce, they seemed almost magical.
He remembered being intrigued by the stories of their use in History, everything from desserts to a fancy container for candles on All Hallows Eve. He’d loved to comb through the archives, gleaning information about long lost traditions from Earth.
So when he’d seen them resting with several types of squash, he knew he needed them. They weren’t as big or round as the ones he’d seen in their digital books on the ark, but they were just as beautiful, their rich orange skin a color Marcus still wasn’t used to seeing in person. He was amazed, and determined all at once. The people of the Ark deserved at least one nice thing on this Earth, and he now knew how to give it to them.
Luckily, he’d brought a cart from the camp, as it was his job on this particular supply run to barter for a variety of food. They’d begun to grow what they could in the new climate, and of course had some seedlings from farm station on each of the stations that fell to the ground, but they were limited by timing and knowledge. So far, he’d managed some apples, beets, brussel sprouts, cabbage, squash and berries that looked like grapes. And now, the pumpkins. He made the deal, grabbing one other special treat. He traded some of his own supplies, and headed back toward camp Jaha,
As he made his way along the road to camp, he thought about some of the traditions he’d found the most interesting. All Hallows’ Eve or Halloween as the people of Earth had commonly referred to it before the bombs, was celebrated on the last day of October, only about two weeks away. He thought maybe he could convince Raven to plan some sort of celebration. Throw in a little moonshine, the pumpkins carved into Jack-o-lanterns for decoration and it might even feel like a real holiday.
Raven immediately agreed, hurrying off while saying something about accessing the Ark’s old database of music, and the plan was in motion. Now all he had to do was figure out how to carve these things.
Cutting open the top and scooping out the insides (saving the seeds for planting and as much flesh as he could for eating of course) was the easy part, he soon discovered as he attempted to carve the first Jack-o-lantern face. He managed a couple of rough triangle shapes for eyes, and a fairly crooked mouth with his large knife, realizing he could really benefit from a some smaller carving implements. But aside from a small hunting knife, the only thing he could think of for more intricate details in the camp was a scalpel, and he wasn’t quite sure how to get this idea past Abby.
He tried to look nonchalant as he wandered into the medical tent looking for supplies, but Abby noticed him almost immediately.
“Marcus, do you need something? Is someone hurt?” She questioned quickly.
“No, no, nothing like that. I, uh…just needed to ask you if I could borrow something.” He reassured, trying to seem like he wasn’t up to anything, but Abby was at once suspicious.
“What exactly do you need from Medical?” She asked, eyebrows raised.
Well, the jig was up. He might as well come clean with her now.
“I found some pumpkins on my supply run, and I, ah…thought maybe since Halloween, you know, that Earth holiday in October was coming up, we should maybe have a celebration.” He stumbled through the words, feeling foolish, but Abby smiled.
“Are you planning on making Jack-O-Lanterns, Marcus?” She replied with a slight sparkle in her eyes, and Marcus remembered the conversation they’d had as teenagers on the Ark.
Abby had always been just as proficient in History as Marcus, although slightly less fascinated by it, favoring anatomy and biology studies. Since they were evenly matched in the subject, they often studied together. They’d once had a test where they’d had to memorize three beliefs or traditions from cultures about each Holiday, and he’d traded some old radio parts and a couple of extra rations for two pieces of chocolate and invited her to his family’s quarters to study.
When they came to the Halloween section of the test, they’d agreed that the Samhain beliefs about the veil thinning between the earthly realm and the spirit world, prompting the idea that by dressing as a spirit, humans would be passed over by any creatures released from the underworld, and the long standing tradition of carving pumpkins into faces to represent soul lights, were the most fantastical and interesting, so that left only one. He knew that the tradition of trading sweets to prevent misdeeds had mostly been adopted during the commercialization of the holiday, but he found it the most fun, and he hoped Abby would too.
“Before we decide on the last one, I have something I think you’ll like,” Marcus nervously mumbled as he and Abby sat cross-legged on his bed. “I uh, want you to close your eyes though, and open your mouth.”
She looked at him like he’d grown a third eye, her eyebrows raised. “What? Why Marcus? What are you planning on doing? This isn’t about that stupid tradition of tricks is it?”
“No, I promise, no tricks. Just, please, it’s really not anything bad.” He replied, more nervous than when she’d first walked through the door, smelling of Jasmine, smiling shyly and making his heart race.
“I don’t know.” She drawled, looking like she might be considering it.
“I would never hurt you, Abby. Never.” He replied, taking her hand in his and looking into her eyes.
“Ok, but if it’s something gross, I’m leaving.” She pronounced, narrowing her eyes slightly.
“Deal.” He nodded, a silent promise that she could trust him.
She closed her eyes, and opened her mouth, and he placed the chocolate on her tongue.
“This is my favorite tradition, I thought maybe it could be ours.” He spoke gently, feeling as though he was jumping off a cliff.
“Chocolate!” She squealed, “where did you find this?” She opened her eyes and threw her arms around him.
“Oh you know, around. Mess hall,” he joked, smiling. Her giddy excitement was contagious.
“This is perfect.” She said quietly, still smiling. “Thank you, Marcus.”
“You’re welcome Abby.” He replied, wishing they could stay in this moment forever.
“Actually, yes, Jack-O-Lanterns are exactly what I’m planning.” he replied, smiling. “I thought it might be fun. And that’s certainly something we could use around here.”
“I think it’s a great idea, Marcus.” Abby replied, on one condition. “I get to carve some too.”
“Absolutely.” He agreed readily, grinning.
Some time later, they were elbows deep in pumpkin guts, laughing like they hadn’t in years, if ever. They had both been successful with their small hunting knives, and the additional help of the scalpel. They all had very different faces, some quite intricate, and Marcus and Abby were both pleased with the results.
Raven soon came looking for Marcus, telling him that she’d planned everything for the next night, and almost immediately rushed off to gather more supplies.
“I’d better go check on Medical,” Abby said, brushing some loose hair out of her face, leaving a few strings of pumpkin on her temple.
“Yeah, we’ve been at this for a while,” Marcus replied, unconsciously reaching to pick the pumpkin from her face. She sucked in a quick breath at his touch, and he pulled his hand away.
“Sorry, you just had some pumpkin on your face,” he supplied, attempting to smooth over the tension that had surfaced.
“Oh, thanks,” she answered quietly. “And thanks for this Marcus. I haven’t laughed like this in years.”
“Yeah, me neither,” Marcus said sadly, remembering the cold, unfeeling front he’d had to construct to keep their people alive on the Ark.
“Goodnight Marcus.” Her voice sounded almost conflicted, as if she really wanted to stay.
“Goodnight Abby.” He smiled, watching her as she walked away.
The next day the camp was buzzing, excitement for the celebration that evening lifting the whole camp’s spirits. Almost everyone had pitched in, some making food from the supplies Marcus brought back, some creating makeshift tables and chairs, several collecting wood for a larger fire, and a couple helping Raven run the sound system through the speakers in the Rover.
Marcus and Abby had collected enough torches to light the Jack-O-lanterns and had loaded them into a cart currently hidden from view. Now they just had to wait for nightfall.
As the sun began to sink below the trees, people began moving things into place, lighting the fire and setting out dishes of hot food. They had plenty of moonshine made up, and the engineering team was just connecting the last of the wires. Suddenly, upbeat music streamed across the camp, and a resounding cheer followed.
They danced, drank and ate well into the evening before Marcus and Abby pulled the cart out with the Jack-O-Lanterns already shining light in every direction. One person looked up from the merriment as they walked by, then shouted, “hey guys, look, it’s like Halloween!” Everyone crowded around them, marveling at the pumpkins, exchanging ideas they’d heard about the Holiday, smiling and laughing. It had worked. Marcus turned to look at Abby, and the smile on her face warmed his entire body.
Several people carefully lifted the Jack-O-Lanterns, depositing them in strategic locations so everyone could see. Groups of people moved from one to the others, smirking about the funny ones and inspecting details on the more intricate designs.
Marcus was feeling ridiculously happy. Something had actually turned out right for once, and even if tomorrow brought more heartache and pain, at least they’d remembered what it felt like to have fun. He wanted to ride the wave of contentment while it lasted, so he plucked up the courage, with a little help from the moonshine, and walked over to where Abby was talking with a few of the kids, intent on asking her to dance.
She smiled as she saw him approach, excusing herself from her previous conversation.
“Marcus, this was a wonderful idea,” she hummed, grasping his arm. “I can’t believe how relaxed everyone looks.”
“I know. It’s really something. I didn’t think about how much we all needed it. Just a little time to let go of everything else and enjoy this amazing place.” He sighed, soaking in the moment.
“Abby, will you dance with me?” He asked, his voice unsure. He held out a hand and she took it readily.
“Yes Marcus, I’d love to.” She smiled sweetly, allowing him to guide her gently toward an unoccupied corner.
He put his hands on her waist, but she pulled him closer, wrapping her arms around him, eliciting a gasp. He was certain she could feel his heart rate increase when she rested her ear against his chest. This was near perfect bliss. He never wanted to leave. They danced to the calm, romantic song, and when another one came on after, he couldn’t help but wonder if Raven might be trying to subtly tell them something. He chuckled lightly at the thought.
“I almost forgot, I have something for you,” he whispered in her ear, feeling her shudder slightly against him. He pulled back, gently taking her hand, placing the paper wrapped square of chocolate in her palm.
“Is this what I think it is Marcus?” She gasped, eyes lighting up. “Our tradition?”
“You remember that day?” He questioned, excited.
“Of course I do!” She exclaimed. “That was one of my best memories of the two of us, before…” she trailed off.
“Before I became who I was and pushed you away,” he supplied, his tone lace with bitterness.
“We were different people up there, Marcus. That’s not who you are to me now. You’re…someone new. Well, almost new.” She murmured, taking the chocolate out of the wrapper and breaking it in half.
“I have another piece,” he started, but she cut him off by placing one of the pieces between his lips, smiling.
“I know you do. This way you can surprise me another time.” She replied, wrapping her arms around him for another dance. She wanted to live in this moment as long as time would allow.