5 AM


abby_icon.gif muldoon_icon.gif

Scene Title 5 AM
Synopsis Some things were never meant to last.
Date ???

In the history books, it will be written that the great amount of change as a result of the Albany Trials came at a proportional cost. For the American people to trust their government again, the punishment of those whose actions led to the Second Civil War needed to be decisive — and swift. A series of hastily patched together tribunals with scattered evidence and strange testimony spared more well-known names: Avi Epstein, John Logan, and Sasha Kozlow.

Others who walked the same line were not as lucky to slip the noose. Abigail Caliban, whose legal name should really be Abigail Muldoon, could only watch from the courtroom's sidelines as the judge handed down her husband's sentence.

James Muldoon is to be hung from the neck until dead before dawn the next morning.

She has lost track of the hours that remain, if only because there is a conspicuous lack of clocks in the building where he's being kept. Her footsteps echo in the stark cement hall as she's escorted down the stairs by two armed guards, and down a long, narrow corridor with cells on each side.

Dozens of men and women here won't live to see the next sunrise. Those who do will remember and cherish it for the rest of their natural lives.

Albany, New York


Abigail doesn't look to the left or the right. She's not here to see any of them. She's been in New York for a few months and in a few days she'll be heading back down south. She's testified, for and against. She's run the gamut of reporters, reports, signing this, signing that. There's no warmth that she's learned to carry around her. The request for negation drugs for herself was granted, not sure that she might keep herself under control enough to ensure that an alternate future doesn't come true. Hair has been pulled back in a fishtailed braid that falls over her shoulder and everything that could possibly be used as weapon has been left behind.

"How long will I have with him?" She asks softly in that southern twang that hasn't tempered with time. No more so than New York had. Palms are sweaty. Breath a little fast.

"Ten minutes," says the guard to Abby's right. The answer is crisp and practiced. She's not the first person who's asked that question this evening, and she won't be the last.

There are no catcalls, no slurs aimed at the blonde's back during the procession. If any of her old enemies recognize her, they're too preoccupied with their own thoughts to acknowledge her presence outside.

Even her husband, when she arrives at his cell, doesn't look up from his hands when she stops in front of the steel bars. He's slouched in the corner on the floor, knees drawn up with his feet an even shoulder's width apart. Blue eyes study his knuckles and the individual joints of his fingers, perhaps considering all the things they've done to deliver him to this exact moment in time.
"Thank you." Sincerity colors her voice. It's not empty. But then, Abigail was always raised to have manners and Mama Beauchamp may have passed, but manners didn't get buried with her. "I don't know that I'll need more than that. So thank you." And She comes to that stop.

Her hands are at her side and long fingers hang lax as she regards the man before her. The James Muldoon in Robert Caliban's skin. Blue eyes tick over every inch, taking in things that may have changed between the court room and now as she waits to be let in.

"Hello James."

The key turns in the lock and the door opens, sending a loud, booming echo down the corridor, but Muldoon does not so much as flinch. "You shouldn't be here," he tells her, although his words lack heat. It's the dismissal of an angry man without any anger left in him.

Or maybe he's just concerned for Abby's well-being.

It's difficult to tell.

"Not the first time you've told me that. I'll walk out the door after too." There's a glance to the guards, a dip of her head nad she's stepping in. "I'll be there. In the morning. So you don't leave this earth alone." And then she's in, lingering near the door before stepping further in and then settling on the floor, denim clad rear meeting the cement floor and crossing her legs, not taking her eyes off him.

"Besides. When did I ever do what you told me to after we first met?"

Now the door behind Abby closes. The two guards afford her as much space and privacy as is allowed, which is not much — but enough.

Muldoon's jaw sets, his answer trapped behind his teeth in much the same way he's trapped behind the bars of his cell. When he swallows, it takes effort.

Anyone else might mistake his refusing to meet her imploring eyes as stubbornness, but his wife recognizes it as something else entirely.

It's not that he doesn't want to. It's that he can't.

"Well," he roughs out, "you married me."
"Am I still married to you?" The question comes out right on the heels of that comment.

It's exactly the right thing to say to snap him out of it, if only for an instant. Yet an instant is all it takes. His eyes flick up, and she sees that they're raw. The look he gives her is an accusation.

"I should hope so," he says.

"Did you love me?"

Questions. There's so many of them. Questions that piled up for years. Written away in a notebook,s hoved in a suitcase, buried in a closet where Kasha or her father would never find them.

"I still love you," he answers, hating the way his voice cracks on the second syllable. He hates himself, too.

Muldoon reaches out to graze the knuckles of his dominant hand along the familiar curve of Abby's jaw. His thumb finds the dimple in her chin and cups it. "Against my better judgment."

Eyes close at the touch. God, how long had it been? She doesn't reach up to cover his hand, not right away but soon enough, her hand slides along his wrist. "Why?" Her jaw moving, lips bowing out with the word. "This is it. This is the last moments we will ever have with one another and it…" Familiarity in the way that her words spill out and she's moving, rising to her knee's and moving forward so that she can rest her forehead against his and her own hands find their way to his cheeks. "Why did James Muldoon fall in love with Abigail Beauchamp?"

It's been as long for him as it has been for her. Muldoon inhales the smell of her hair and skin, shifting his hand from her chin to the nape of her neck beneath her braid.

There's so much about this situation that feels unfair to him, but perhaps the most unfair thing of all is that this particular question isn't one he has an answer for. So he kisses her instead, hungry for her taste and the sensation of her lower lip caught between his teeth. As always, his touch is both gentle. Firm.

"I don't know," he mutters against her mouth. "I swear to God that's the truth."

Seven years? Eight years? Something like that. Since they touched. Conversation after all with regards to the trial had been between his lawyer and her and hers. She smells like she always did. A lemon hand lotion, roses in her shampoo, peonies in whatever she uses for a perfume. "God. The hotel in Russia. That's what he meant." She keeps close, proximity to him as long as she's allowed. She's been searched, there's nothing for him to take off her. No way to escape.

She kisses him back, eyeline getting damp. "I couldn't testify against you. They wanted me to. I should have. But…"

She pulls her head back enough to look him in the eyes, thumbs tracing back and forth across his cheekbones. "You are -not- that man on the island."

Blue eyes searching his. "You never were that man on that Island."

He leans into her touch. The hand at her neck follows her spine all the way down to her tailbone. "I did all those things, Abigail," he says, and it would be accompanied by a shake of his head if she wasn't holding it in place. "As myself, and as Robert Caliban. They should hang me twice."

If it's a joke, it's a very wry one. It doesn't sound like he's joking.

His next exhale has a shaky quality to it, like a leaf rattling in the wind. He's aware of the fact that it was her smell and all the fond memories wrapped up in it that ultimately tips him over the edge. Just as he'd hated the crack in his voice when he told her he still loved her, he also hates the tears gathering in the silvery scruff of his beard and the collar of his shirt.

Muldoon makes a low, disdainful sound at the back of his throat.

"Wrong Island you idiot." Abigail wetly murmurs back. "Wait for me. Promise me you'll wait for me?" She keeps him close, resting her face agianst his, tears streaking down her cheeks, mixing with his.

"I forgive you James. Do you hear me?" She clings to him as closely that one night in the hospital, her in his lap and her future crashing down from an electrokinetic company agent.

"I forgive you."

She senses his relief in the musculature of his body, the way he seems to fold inward and around her. Abby has lifted a burden from his shoulders; he'll walk to the gallows in the morning with a straight back and his head held high. His last words will be spoken with dignity rather than resignation.

"I'll wait for you," he'll say, in the moment before the trap door springs open and the rope snaps taut, and the only person in the crowd who'll understand their meaning will be the small blonde in the front row whose eye contact with him remains unbroken until he's stopped swinging.

But that's later.

So much later.

Right now, his mouth seeks out hers for the last time. Muldoon eases her onto the floor of the cell, their shapes draped in shadow, and lets his hands commit her form to memory one last time.

She feels his breath against her neck and tastes the salt of his tears when he comes up for air, which isn't often. He pays as much attention to her face as her breasts, her hips and her waist. His lips flutter over her eyelids and find the dips and crevasses he'd laid awake obsessing over while they were apart.

It's only when he's peeling back her shirt to expose the pale skin of her stomach that something in the darkness shifts—

— and Abby wakes up.

New York Safe Zone



The alarm clock on her nightstand reads: 5:00am.

Maybe that isn't a coincidence. It was the same hour he left her the last time.

How long does she stare at the clock? Turned on her side, watching the numbers turn digit by digit, her head pillows by one arm, her other hand resting on the white sheets. Eventually she moves. Covers are pushed back and she sits up. A ritual as old as the source of that dream playing out.

The nightstand is opened, the drawer sliding out nearly silent on it's casters and she reaches into the back, having to fish around. But her hands close around the black velvet jewelry box. it's brought out and in the dark of the room she opens it, runs fingers over the two things in it. The thick wedding band and the melted misshapen lump of gold.

One pass with her thumb. Another. Three times before it's closed with a soft schnick and it's put back, tucked behind a bible.

She looks over her shoulder to a cat tree and the capuchin monkey that's starting to rouse as she did. A few more moments she sits watching it before rising, a click of her tongue to summon it.

"Breakfast Tabaqui." She tells that old monkey, dropping her hand for it to grasp and climb up her arm. "Lets go find you some fruit." Her tone trying to be cheerful for the small mammal. But it won't last long and as she grabs a bathrobe and slides her feet into slippers she already knows the day will be as dark as it was that day too.

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