Actions

Work Header

i am aching now to let you in

Work Text:

 

/.\

It’s their first rainfall in two months when she flies in with the helicopter. The rain isn’t acidic this time, luckily, because their last medic just died in combat and it would really suck for the rain to dissolve their new one on the first day on the job. It’s not like medics were lying around like spare change in times like these.

“You cold, Dr. Griffin?” He inquires—loud, to rise above the roar of the helicopter, the chopping sound vibrating through them—after she salutes him in greeting, the expensive silver watch dangling from her wrist catching his attention. He can’t help the small smirk from forming on his face as chews his gum leisurely and takes her in. She’s small and curvy and blonde—nothing like their last medic—her uniform looking a little stiff on her, like she’s still wearing it in, and her nose is an angry red from the cold. Bellamy’s not entirely sure who in their right mind signed off on her deployment, just knows they’re getting real desperate. Dr. Griffin looks like one particularly strong gust of wind might blow her over.

Yet, she straightens under his gaze, something looking a lot like defiance washing over her eyes. Beside him, Lincoln opens up one of their spare umbrellas and hands it to her. She’ll learn to appreciate the rain soon enough, but for now her knuckles are a deep white as she wraps them around the crook handle, fingers trembling. She ignores his question, which is a ballsy move on her part. “I take it you’re sergeant Blake?”

He nods, then tilts his head towards Lincoln. “This is Specialist Verboom.” The helicopter starts to ascend behind her and he takes it this as his cue to start walking towards their outpost’s main tent, which mostly serves as a field kitchen and semi-officially as a part-time (virgin) beer pong slash poker tournament hall.

On the way there, he offhandedly introduces her to the members of their squad that they pass as they walk by their sleeping quarters. Shaw, on his cot reading a book, with Reyes across from him on Miller’s bed cleaning her gun. Miller is nowhere to be seen. McIntyre, taking a nap, and Monroe, doing push-ups on the floor beside her. Jordan is listening to music on his iPod and his roommate Izard is shirtless, drying his longer hair with a towel. He obviously notices their newest addition to the team, giving her a slow once-over. The door flap of Olwyn and Dorje is down, obscuring them from view, which is so typical he almost rolls his eyes. They reach the main tent.

Jaha is on kitchen duty, whipping up something from the unlabeled cans of what officials describe as food but tastes more like a combination of car tires and chalk powder, usually hardly edible. Murphy is in a corner, feet propped up on their table and sharpening his pocket-knife with one of Reyes’ honing rods (which she is definitely going to kill him with as soon as she finds out it’s missing). Bellamy hits him on the back of the head in passing, and he begrudgingly puts his feet down, albeit scowling and probably hexing Bellamy with a painful death-in-combat under his breath.

Dr. Griffin sits down one bench over from Murphy, taking off her cap and shrugging out of her jacket—a white band with a red cross on her arm setting her apart from the rest of them—but only succeeding on the fourth try since the fabric is stuck to her body like glue. Her lips are a deep purple, wavy blonde hair plastered on top of her forehead as she takes in her surroundings with curious eyes.

He signs for Jaha to bring over some soup, as he sinks down on the bench opposite of her, taking the bag at his feet into his lap. Lincoln pointedly tells him he’s going to finish inventory with a raise of his eyebrows which Bellamy in turn pointedly ignores, before telling their new medic it was nice to meet her. “They don’t usually send full-on doctors to a squad this small.”

Nevermind it used to be a platoon and now they’re all that’s left. They’re a little late with the reinforcements.

“You were short a medic,” she answers without skipping a beat, as she eyes the towel he pulled from his bag and is now holding out for her. Finally, she takes it, like she’s doing him some huge favor, and proceeds to dry off her face before putting it around her shoulders. “I didn’t mind the pay cut, that’s—” 

She pauses as Jaha sets a cup of hot soup in front of her, immediately folding her hands around it, warming them up. She thanks him, then turns back to Bellamy. Meeting his gaze over the table, she finishes her earlier sentence with a cock of her eyebrow. “That’s not why I’m here.”

“Of course it isn’t,” he mutters under his breath, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. She does look like she comes from wealth; the soft hands free of calluses, the perfect teeth and expensive jewelry. What is she trying to prove here? That’s she’s though, to her sorority sisters? Or is she sticking it to some boy who broke her heart and called her weak? He gives her three weeks, tops.

“No need to be a judgemental ass,” she responds, grinding her teeth. Murphy almost chokes on his own spit, leaning forward on his elbows like he’s watching the climactic ending of a thriller unfold in front of him, and Jaha freezes while stirring a pot, trying to hide a snicker and failing terribly.

Bellamy scoffs, unimpressed, folding his arms over his chest. “I don’t know how they handle things where you come from, princess , but down here a superior officer is still treated—”

Where I come from?” She cuts him off, eyebrows furrowed together and lip curled in disdain. “I wasn’t born in a castle, if that’s what you’re wondering. I don’t know if you’ve seen Arkadia lately, but there aren’t many people left who are actually doing well for themselves.”

“I haven’t no, considering I’ve been stationed here for the past two years, but I can imagine,” he counters sarcastically, eyes turning into sliths. Arkadia is in shambles, he knows. It’s why they’re here. What did she think? That they were just out here for shits and giggles?

“Sorry,” she says, forcefully, shaking her head a little as if to clear her thoughts. “It’s been a long flight and I’m a little agitated, okay? Can we maybe just—I don’t know—start over?” She unwraps one hand from the cup and sticks it out so it’s hovering over the table, blue eyes focused on his. This time, he takes in the bags under her eyes; the spiderweb crack on the crystal face of her watch; the ragged tips of her nails, like she’s been chewing on them for a while. “I’m Clarke. Your new medic.”

“Bellamy,” he mumbles, reluctantly shaking her hand. For some unknown reason, which goes against everything he believes in and stands for, he feels sympathetic towards her. Then, he gets up, wanting nothing more than this whole thing to just be over because he doesn’t really do sympathy. Not anymore. “Come on. I’ll show you your tent.”

It’s dry out, the blistering heat he’s accustomed to already slowly making its comeback. He points at their sorry excuses for showers when they pass them, throws his jacket and umbrella unto his cot when they pass that, then halts to a stop in front of the last tent before there’s rows of empty tents in various states of being taken down. “You’ll be sharing your tent with Reyes, our mechanic.” 

Raven’s brutally honest, too smart for her own good and Clarke’s going to be stepping on a lot of random discarded metal objects, but at least she doesn’t threaten people with knives for talking to her, like Anya, or lock her roommate out of her own tent for entire nights because she craves isolation, like Echo.

He reaches into the pouch on his knee, pulling her velcro name patch from it and sticking it beside the door flap underneath ‘REYES’. He mock-bows, pulling back the flap, his voice saccharine sweet. “Welcome.”

Clarke grinds her teeth together, but to her credit, doesn’t respond. She does, however, accidentally-on-purpose knock into his shoulder with hers as she passes him by to enter the tent and explore its insides. He smirks.

She sits down on her cot, tries it out by bouncing up and down a little as she folds one of her legs beneath her. Her eye catches the unmade bed opposed from hers, the picture of Raven and Finn stuck to the wall, the half-open tool box in front of it, the stack of books next to the pillow. Clarke’s own bag is already by the cot’s foot-end, resting on her beat-up foot locker trunk. Most of it are medical supplies, as far as Bellamy can tell. Lincoln must’ve grabbed it earlier when he wasn’t paying attention and brought it over.

Bellamy tosses a small retractable clip-point knife into her lap. “Level two squad members aren’t allowed to carry firearms.” Which is more a rule they made up because they’re short on guns and ammunition than anything actually substantially relevant, but still. He’ll enforce a rule if he likes it enough. “But if you ever need to use the latrine at night, it might come in handy.”

Most humans got a preemptive vaccination at birth, but not all were so lucky. Radiation caused all sort of mutations in the animal species around here, but none of them made them less hungry for human bloodshed. Some of them just liked the hunt.

“Thanks,” Clarke says, dryly, as she gets back off the cot. She attaches the knife to her belt, pushing up the damp sleeves of her tan henley, and then pulls up to a stop right back in front of him. She takes a sharp breath through her nose, like she regrets having to ask him anything before she even does. “Can you show me the med-bay?”

“Pick a tent, princess,” he snorts, eyebrows shooting up. He feels just a tiny bit of joy at the shocked look on her face. Guess she doesn’t know everything .

She tilts her head, disbelief written all over her face. There’s dark spots on her shoulders, her hair still dripping from the rain. “You don’t have any medical supplies?”

He offers her a one-shouldered shrug. He’s had this fight before. He lost. “When Jackson was KIA, they sent most of it over to the closest post that did have a medic on duty.”

“So what if anything happened here?” Her cheeks get a rosey kind of red, eyebrows knitted close together, fingers curling into fists. She looks kind of cute, all worked up with misplaced anger. “How long would it take for a wounded to get over there, or a medic to come here?”

“Three hours, minimum.” He’s gotten over the fact most of them were expendable to their president a long time ago. As long as they kept paying his wages, he could accept that.

She grinds her teeth together, and he’s sure her nails are digging so deep into her palms they’re leaving marks. “And that’s taking into account you wouldn’t even have any supplies to work with in the meantime?” She huffs, indignant, mostly to herself.

The corner’s of his mouth turn up, arms crossed over his chest casually. “World’s not fair, I’m aware.” 

Her dark gaze snaps up to meet his, jutting her chin up defiantly. “You just agreed to this?” The accusatory tone to her voice pisses him off beyond rationality. “You just accepted that they left your squad out here to fend for themselves? Out here in the open, without so much as even a back-up plan?”

“Yeah,” he confirms cynically, with a scoff. That’s totally what happened. Maybe she confused his casualness for indifference. But if you’re out here long enough, you learn the hard way not to get upset over things you don’t have any control over. “Considering I’m the only sergeant around here, I can pretty much do whatever the hell I want.”

Clarke inhales sharply, her mouth opening only to close again. She shakes her head to herself, clamping her mouth shut. Finally, after a tense beat in which she probably figures he won’t be the one to break, she gives in. “Fine. Whatever.” She pushes past him, like a tiny blazing ball of fire, lip curled in disdain. “I’ll go pick a damn tent.”

“Be sure to report back to your sergeant!” Bellamy calls after her even though he knows he probably shouldn’t and he’s an asshole for doing so anyway. Maybe partly he does it just to watch her stop in her tracks for a second to collect herself and keep from ripping him a new one, fingers flexing at her sides, before marching on.

Most people lost so much in this war, had seen so much of it, they got desensitized. Setbacks were expected. Apathy inescapable. They were just trying to survive out here. Clarke apparently still believed in the wild notion she could actually make a difference. Maybe he judged her prematurely. He’ll give her six weeks, instead of three. Six weeks, and she’ll be back home in her gated community, safe. She’ll be back to treating the rich, old, white men in the world and any of the actually sick people who’re lucky enough to reach the top of the waiting list. Telling her co-workers at the university hospital silly little war stories about her tough time out in the field. He’s sure of it.

/.\

 

First it got hot, unbearably hot; with it came the longer days, the shorter nights, the lack of winter, the endless summers. Then there was the steady rise of the sea level, the floods, the earth quakes and tsunamis that followed. Next was the occasional acid rainfall, hurricanes to the point it was just another tuesday, the rising levels of radiation, the dark days. Governments failing and falling, the rich being able to protect themselves, the poor not so much. The riots followed after, and eradication of the human race would’ve been next, had it not been for President Wallace. He directed the blame towards others; not himself, not their people—never their people—not the country or the government or the multi-million dollar businesses. He made sure they were focused on anything else, a common enemy, filling their heads with stories and theories and explanations why it was us against them. They were so busy being brainwashed, they forgot to ever think for themselves.

 

So here they were, fighting a war in a foreign country to keep their own people from killing each other at home. Twisted logic. But it paid well and offered benefits, something most of them couldn't afford to say no to. Like minimal healthcare, and not getting by with just the sporadic food stamps, if they’re lucky. 

 

They’re all here voluntarily, in theory. In practice, their president pretty much took every other option away. Jobs were sparse, health problems inevitable, and poverty certain for almost anyone not born with a silver spoon lodged in their mouth. He made most resources inaccessible for the poor, so joining the military was pretty much their best option. Which—which sounds like the punchline of the world’s worst joke.

 

It’s part of what pisses him off about Clarke so much. She had the choice to say no, and she didn’t. She makes that painfully clear every time she opens her mouth.

 

She makes friends fast enough. Wells is basically her new best friend and she gets along with Raven fine—so Zeke as well by definition—Harper and Monroe love her, Anya doesn’t actively hate her, and she practically takes Jasper under her wing, crowning him her unofficial assistant. Roan and Echo are indifferent, which is about as well as a relationship with the two of them can go. She even gets Nate to crack a smile. Lincoln thinks she’s great as well, even if it’s just because she riles Bellamy up, that much he can tell. John is about anyone’s guess—he either loathes her, or is absolutely crazy about her—Bellamy hasn’t made up his mind yet.

 

“Is this it?” She asks him one day, when he tags himself out of a game of soccer to get a much needed sip of water. His canteen is on the picnic table she’s perched on top of on, leaning back on her hands, so he really didn’t have a choice in the matter.

 

He hisses as Harper knocks her shoulder into Lincoln, passing him by easily as she closes the distance between the ball and the two empty food cans functioning as a makeshift goal. Now only Nate is between her and a lousy 2-0 for her team.

 

“Miller, defense, defense!” Bellamy yells, distracted, before taking another swig off water, turning back to the scowling blonde beside him. He wipes some sweat of his brow with his wrist. “What?”

 

“I’ve been here for two weeks and all we do is play games, eat, sit around, sleep and repeat the process,” Clarke explains her question, pushing off her hands to sit up straighter. “Why are we even here? Why is our post here? Why—”

 

“Woah, woah, woah. Slow down, princess,” he cuts her off, brow furrowing together as he holds up his free hand. It slips out just like that, but he likes how her shoulders straighten and nostrils flare just slightly at the mention of the nickname. Her normally sky blue eyes turn a darker shade, like a clear midnight sky.

 

He sighs, putting his canteen down on the bench and pressing his thumb and forefinger from his free hand into his eye-sockets. “The short answer is that we’re waiting for instructions. We stake out here, report back to Commander Baum when we see any suspicious activity, she tells us if we have the go-ahead to engage in combat.” 

 

A chorus of cheers break out behind them and he curses under his breath as he watches Harper embrace Wells excitedly, Monroe jumping on top of them in celebration. 3-0. Shit, he really has to go back soon if they don’t want to lose catastrophically. He’s really not feeling like being on latrine cleaning duty for the rest of the week. 

 

“The long answer?” Clarke brings his attention back to her. He regards her for a moment. Her skin reddened from the prolonged exposure to the sun, sleeves of her sand-colored t-shirt rolled up so it’s more a tank-top than anything, long eyelashes fluttering against her eyelids, chest heaving up and down in steady breaths.

 

Bellamy’s tongue darts out to wet his slightly chapped lips, doubtful, resting his hands on the back of his hips. “Nobody even knows what we’re doing here, what the endgame is. Which is fine by me.” One of her eyebrows shoots up, taking in a fast breath as she shifts forward. He knows her well enough to know she’s surely about to interrupt him, so he quickly continues. “We might be at war, but the less I see of it the better.”

 

He shrugs, looking back out at their improvisatory soccer field. He’s definitely going to be cleaning shit for the rest of the week. “We didn’t join seeking out active combat. Especially not with the supplies we have.” Bellamy turns back to Clarke, finds her still looking at him. “Now and then we run into some, but the sooner you realize this isn’t a war we’re supposed to win as much as it is an act to keep our people and theirs subdued, the better.”

 

He honestly would not be surprised if, in the future, he were to find out their president struck a deal with the president of Eligius to orchestrate this whole ordeal. Two of the world’s biggest nations, blaming each other for the decay of the world. Shooting at each other in public, shaking hands in private. Doesn’t seem too far fetched, not to Bellamy. It won’t be long before they just start drafting people. At this rate, there won’t be anyone left to fight this war.

 

“Then what are we?” Clarke snaps, fingers tightening around the edge of the table until her knuckles turned a starkly white color. But for once, he knows he’s not the cause of her exasperation. Progress, he guesses. “What was Jackson? What’s the next person who gets hit? Collateral damage?”

 

He softens his gaze, because he gets it. Once upon a time, he was just like her, believing in a better place, in the good of people, in an end to all the pain and misery. Then you’re either forced to join or join the real world, and you grieve what you once thought was possible. She’s finally starting to get it, and that’s oughta hurt. “Acceptable losses.”

 

She breaks away from his gaze, a slight breeze moving some of the strands framing her face away from it, jaw clenched tightly. He doesn’t know why she is here, why she joined, but he’d like to know, he’d like to know all the little secrets she’s hiding. He’s just not going to give her the pleasure of asking, he can’t.

 

“If that’s all you summoned me over for,” Bellamy starts, raising his eyebrows challengingly. She just rolls her eyes. “I’d like to get back to losing my game.” He picks up his canteen for one more sip, then he lifts the bottom of his shirt to wipe the sweat from his forehead again. When he drops it back down, he catches her looking away quickly. Which is—interesting, at least.

 

Miller kicks him in the shin when he jogs back out, bringing him up to speed on their desperate final plan of attack—that’s bound to fail—swinging an arm around his shoulder. Lincoln, ball perched under his armpit, shoots him a knowing glance that Bellamy pointedly ignores. 

 

Finally, Nate finishes the plan Bellamy heard zero words off—he was busy watching Raven hop down on the table beside Clarke and start up a conversation, attention caught by the way the daylight caught on her watch and kept by the way it made her hair look a silky kind of gold—and they start the game back up. The plan fails miserably.

 

The goddamn latrines it is.

/.\

Clarke witnesses their first combat three weeks in. It’s not much, just a group of Eligius scouts—about three miles from basecamp—that they manage to take out within the hour, and luckily before they call for reinforcements. There’s not much damage; Echo’s shoulder grazed by a bullet, some scratches on Wells hands, few bruises on Lincoln’s chest from the recoil of his machine gun, grenade shard lodged in Roan’s shin, headwound for Murphy (that he possibly and most likely caused himself because Bellamy didn’t see him out in the field once after the first shots were fired). 

 

Clarke lets Jasper do the easy tasks, like rinsing wounds and bandaging them. She even asks him questions, like how he would treat a particular wound or what kind of signs he should be looking out for with a particular injury. It’s good, keeps him busy. They stopped taking Jasper along on mission months ago. After a hectic shootout initiated by some Eligius men in a nearby village forced him to shoot a woman—who later turned out to be an innocent civilian reaching for her child bundled up in a fruit basket and not a gun—it left him with severe PTSD in the process. So he was better off helping Clarke anyway; doing some good, healing instead of hurting.

 

They work their way through each injured squad member while Bellamy keeps a close eye. Not that he doesn’t think Clarke is a capable doctor, it’s just that these are his people and he worries when he has zero control over what happens to them. Jasper’s busy applying pressure to Roan’s leg, trying to stop an active bleed after Clarke removed the shard from it. Roan has his hands on top of Jasper’s, unimpressed, because the boy looks a little pale, looks like he’s very close to throwing up.

 

“I remember the first time I fainted,” Clarke announces as she takes off her gloves and sends Murphy on his way with a fresh row of sutures embedded into his forehead. Go hard or go home, Bellamy guesses. She joins him, mirroring his stance and crossing her arms over her chest as well. “One word. Fecal vomit. I do not recommend.”

 

Bellamy winces, keeping his eyes trained on Jasper. “You wish that upon him? Thought doctors did no harm?”  He’s very protective of him, but he trusts Clarke’s judgement. She’s smart, and a doctor, and she obviously cares about the kid. She won’t let him do anything that’s bad for him.

 

She smiles, absent. “It builds character.” Clarke tilts her head up to look at him, nodding at his cheek as she bites on the inside of her cheek. “Want me to take a look at that cut?” He reaches up to touch the skin there, looking at his fingers to find them stained with blood. 

 

“I’m fine,” he starts to say, meaning to brush her off, but she’s already shoving one of her swivel stools his way. Knowing Clarke won’t give up until he gives in, he sits down reluctantly. 

 

“You’re not cool enough to rep a scar that big, Blake,” she notes dryly as she collects her tools, discarding them on top of the nearest table she had Raven construct out of old scraps and unused lockers.

 

“Please,” he scoffs, only half-joking as he tries to focus on anything but the feeling of her gentle fingertips on his skin examining his wound, or the concentrated look on her face as she does so. In this position she towers over him, working on his cut with a focused gaze and a steady hand, and he can blink up at her face unashamedly because there’s not many other places to look. There’s some soot on her face and down her neck and collarbone that the army-green tank top she’s wearing reveals—probably from spending all day outside waiting for them to come back—and her hair is tied back in a tight and short plait. He allows himself to note she’s beautiful, just briefly. “Chicks dig scars. It adds to the mystery of it all.”

 

“Yeah?” She smiles, despite herself, leaning closer to him so she can reach for a cue-tip on the table beside him. In the process he catches a whiff of her shampoo; peaches . Her hair smells like peaches. Something he decisively did not have to know. “No girl at home who’ll cry about your pretty face being tainted?”

 

“You think I’m pretty?” He cocks an eyebrow, trying to catch her gaze but she refuses to grant him the satisfaction. Instead, she purses her lips, pressing a wet cloth to his cheek a little harder than necessary, making him wince. The corners of her mouth turn up, pleased with the sound of his misery, and he opens his eyes, answering truthfully. “Nah. My sister’s the only girl in my life and she thinks scars add to your personality. It’s the whole reason why she even noticed Lincoln to begin with.”

 

“Oh. Yikes,” Clarke snorts, grabbing him by the chin to tilt his head for better access. He traces the slope of her small nose with his eyes. “She picked a guy who could obviously beat you in a fist fight?”

 

“Yeah, hurt my poor big brother ego real bad,” he retorts, cynical. Lincoln’s a good guy. Bellamy had his reservations at first, and he always will—it’s his sister they’re talking about—but Lincoln takes good care of Octavia, wants her to be happy, would chose her over himself. There’s not much more Bellamy could ask for. Clarke brings a needle up to his face and he closes his eyes, trying to relax. “There I was, following her halfway around the world to fight a war she was dead-set on winning and all she did was tell me in how many ways I ruined her life.”

 

He can casually mention it in conversation now, but back then, times were rough. Octavia didn’t speak directly to him for months even though they were in the same platoon. He thought he was there to fulfill his responsibility; the promise he made to his mom when his sister was just a little pink, screaming ball of baby in his arms. Octavia thought he was there to control her. Maybe both of those things sometimes meant exactly the same.

 

“You joined the force because of your sister?” Clarke concludes, tools hovering in the air as she blinks at him. Judgement coats her voice. “That’s….”

 

“I know, I know. I’m so noble and brave,” he teases because he’s heard it all the speeches about toxic masculinity and ‘ who the hell he thinks he is ’ before. He’s learned from it, he’s tried to be less… authoritative. He joined for Octavia, but he stayed because of his squad. People needed him here, nobody really needed him at home. Plus, the steady paycheck and benefits outweighed going back to practically being forced to being a corrupt cop. The entire system was built against people who looked just like him. “Best big brother ever.”

 

Clarke chokes back a laugh, brushing back a blonde string of hair away from her face with the back of her gloved hand. “I was going to say that’s condescending and a little creepy, but sure.”

 

He smiles at the sound of it, and she pushes against his shoulder with her wrist, being careful to aim her hemostat away from his body. There’s a funny look on her face. “Stop smiling or you’re going to end up looking like the Joker.”

 

“Fine.” He relaxes his face, closing his eyes again as he rests his hands on top of his thighs. “She’s due in a few months. I’m hoping to get Lincoln out of here before then.”

 

He hears her rummage through her equipment, peaches , then nothing. He’s not sure what she is doing, maybe just staring at his cut and figuring out how to finish up his sutures, but whatever it is he keeps his eyes closed firmly. Next her voice is soft, throaty. “You don’t want to go back home?” 

 

“Not a matter of what I want,” he answers truthfully, lifting a shoulder indifferently. Finally, he feels the needle puncture his skin and he grits his teeth through the pain. Sedation is so sparse, they can’t waste it on small shit like this. “We can’t risk it. We saved as much money as we could, just to be sure, but births are expensive and babies even more so. There needs to be steady stream of money coming in.”

 

She’s quiet, just working on closing his cut. Bellamy scoffs, humoured. “Besides, I think Octavia would be very disappointed if she came all the way to the airport only to see me instead of Lincoln.” 

 

“I can understand feeling overwhelming disappointment at the sight of your face,” Clarke teases, and he knows she is because she called him pretty like three minutes ago and he’s seen her stare, “but I’m sure that’s not the case for your sister.”

 

He hears her take off her gloves, then feels her fingers on his jaw again. He opens his eyes, blinking at the sudden brightness a few times. He catches her gaze. “It’s fine. I got to spend twenty years with her all to myself.” Clarke swallows, tightly, glancing from her hand on his face back up to his eyes, like she’s just now realizing how close she’s standing to him. To break some of the sudden tension, he adds, light, “I can share.” 

 

(He can’t help the sudden hoarseness to his voice. His mouth’s just dry, probably. Dehydrated from the fight, exhausted even more so after the night they just had.)

 

Clarke drops her fingers from his chin, rolling her eyes. “How generous of you.”

 

There’s more silence, but not uncomfortable, and then she wonders, “Isn’t that some sort of personal conflict? You and your brother-in-law on the same squad?”

 

“I assured them it wasn’t,” he answers honestly, even though he didn’t have to try that hard. Beggars can’t be choosers. “I harbor no warm feelings towards the guy. And besides, Wallace doesn’t have much people to pick from nowadays.”

 

Clarke presses her lips together in a thin line, a small dip forming above her brow before she wipes her damp forehead with the top of her wrist. “I don’t think that’s true.”

 

“What you see any people lining up to be here?” He can’t keep the skepticism out of his voice. 

 

“That’s not what I meant,” she presses, matter-of-factly, sending him a pointed look. It’s like she can look straight through him, like she has him all figured out. It ticks him off. “I think you carry more feelings for the guy than you’d like to admit. I think that’s the whole reason you came up with the ‘no warm feelings’ act to begin with. You wanted to be placed in the same squad as him because of your sister.” The corners of her lips turn up slightly, just enough for him to notice. “You’re still protecting her.”

 

There’s a yelp behind them, and strangely enough it’s not coming from the seriously bleeding man, but from Jasper. Next they hear Roan talking him down, trying to calm him, telling him ‘ it’s just a little blood’ . Which is funny. Roan hates talking and he hates babying even more. Plus, he’s the injured one. Clarke takes one look at the two of them—the red pool of liquid formed at their feet—and mutters something about a blood transfusion to herself.

 

“I’ll let you save Roan’s leg,” he announces, rising to his feet, watching her as she presses the pad of her palm against her forehead, tiredly. Briefly, he puts his hand on top of her shoulder, as both a thank you and a good job , because he’s incapable of saying either out loud.

 

She freezes, but keeps her face politely neutral. “Can you get Shaw, tell him I need his blood?”

 

He nods, then picks his jacket and cap up off the gurney he left them on and pretends not to be too impressed by the fact she knows all of their blood types from the top of her head, or too shaken by the fact she literally froze up at the touch of his hand. “I’ll get right on it, Dr. Griffin.”

 

Establishing pecking order and remaining impersonal to reaffirm boundaries. Boundaries. Very necessary.

 

/.\

 

It’s quiet out tonight, safe from a few obnoxious grasshoppers, which is nice. Bellamy loves being on guard shift at night; it’s calming, the temperature cool, the air less sticky and he can think for more than ten seconds at the time without someone interrupting his thoughts. 

 

He’s sitting on top of one of their picnic tables, just having patrolled the environment and coming up safe, and allowing himself a cup of lukewarm coffee. Some ruffling behind him catches his attention, and when he turns to look what it is, he finds Clarke pulling a sweater over her head as she closes the distance between them. 

 

“Can’t sleep?” He offers as she climbs down beside him, stifling a yawn. The moon is a shade of red tonight, something with the toxins in the air, or the mesosphere, he thinks. (He had his friend Monty explain it to him in detail before, but science had never been his strong suit, so whatever.)

 

“Not really,” she admits, rubbing her eyes, craning her neck to admire the sky. A reddish pink glow covers her pale skin, reflects in the blue of her eyes. Her hair is down for once, wavy and barely falling over her shoulders. 

 

He can tell she doesn’t really want to talk about it, not with him at least, so he tries to feel the silent void between them with something more casual. “It’s kind of nice, huh?” 

 

“Yeah,” she huffs, shifting her head to look at him instead. Her lip is curled in disdain, cute . “Nevermind the fact it’s living proof of all the nuclear wars we’ve fought over nothing, it kind of also means the earth has what? Fifty years left? And when she goes, she’ll imminently bring the extinction of humankind along with her.” Her eyebrows are raised, and she looks severely unimpressed. “Sure is pretty though.”

 

“Wow,” he scoffs, sarcastic, shoving his thermos away and leaning back on his hands, looking back out at the sky. They’re all dying anyway, might as well enjoy everything while they can. “You must be fun at parties.”

 

She rolls her eyes, “Did Roan get to the airport safely?”

 

“Yeah,” he retorts, looking back out at the field of nothingness stretching out in front of them. Roan was picked up by an aircraft earlier, being sent back to Arkadia on the earliest possible fight. It’d been funny for a while, to see him limp around, pretending he wasn’t injured, wasn’t in the worst pain he’d ever been, that steel look on his face. Yet he could barely walk, his skin covered in a layer of sweat at all times, his gun shaking in his hand every time he picked it up. Bellamy made the call. It was time for him to go home.

 

She smiles, absent, then something else washes over her eyes. Something darker, dreadful, something he recognizes all too well. “I had a nightmare,” she admits, quiet, and he’s not sure what possesses her to do so, “I get them all the time, but this one — it was bad.”

 

“I have to walk my rounds,” he tells her, looking up from his watch and she looks disappointed. He hates himself for it, but he won’t forgive himself if anyone gets hurt because he was too busy talking to keep watch. The corners of his mouth turn up slightly. “Walk with me?”

 

She nods, taking the hand he offers to help herself off the table, then wraps her arms around her small frame. They walk in silence for a while, pausing at a few checkpoints now and then. He hears her open her mouth a few times, but tries not to push when she closes it again. Finally, as they stand side by side looking out over the desert, she tells him, “My girlfriend, uhm — us and a couple of friends were caught in the middle of a riot, and then we got seperated. I heard the gunshots first, then I heard on of our friends call out her name. Lexa, Lexa, oh god. ” She pauses, letting the words fester between them for a second as she collects her thoughts, a small frown appearing in between her brows. Clarke catches his gaze, seems conflicted for another moment until finding what she is apparently looking for, then takes the leap, sucking in a shaky breath. “Everytime I close my eyes, it’s what I hear on repeat. What I see — what I see is my hands covered in her blood, her whole body trembling in my arms, the life draining from her eyes.” 

 

He closes his eyes briefly, sick to his stomach she had to go through that. “I’m sorry, Clarke.”

 

Her fingers dig further into her skin, nails turning white. “She was trying to help our friend get over a barricade when some fight broke out and — I guess she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

 

“Death really does not give a fuck about who you are or where you were born, does it, princess?” Using the nickname is a lame way to imply he’s kind of apologizing for assuming. Assuming she had it better than him just because she was from a more privileged part of Arkadia. She had to fight for survival just as hard as any one of them. It’s what Wallace wants. Them to attack each other instead of looking to him. 

 

Her arm knocks into his softly, playfully, even if her eyes are still brimmed with tears that she’s trying to blink away. A silent thank you, maybe, that he doesn’t say anything about it, that he doesn’t try and comfort her. “Maybe she can visit Wallace or Diyoza next, you know, just to show she really doesn’t discriminate.”

 

“Yea—” Bellamy starts, then gets cut off by some unfamiliar rustling of leaves — maybe an animal or the wind, but the alternative is much worse — and, out of reflex, he tackles Clarke to the ground. Turns out his reflexes still work, because a bullet misses them by a hair. 

 

“Sniper!” He yells, already pulling Clarke up to her feet, running zig-zag back to the base and pushing her behind their vehicle to provide them some cover while he figures out a game plan. The bullet hit the wheel of his rover instead, making it deflate with a long sharp hiss. Now he’s really pissed. He opens up the door and takes a rifle off the backseat, trying to stay as low as possible. Members of the squad start joining him in various states of undress, and Lincoln comes up with a plan to send a fireteam to try and attack the sniper from behind. Bellamy agrees, sends Miller and Dorje with him as he and Olwyn provide cover.

 

After taking out one of the gunmen coming up on their left, he nods at Echo to hold down the cover of the rover, before returning back to Clarke’s side. Her chest is heaving up and down heavily, eyes panic-stricken, and his hand is reaching up to cup her cheek before he knows it, thumb running below a cut on her cheekbone she must’ve gotten during their tumble to the ground. He blames the adrenaline coursing through his veins for the sudden disinhibition, of touching her like this, allowing himself to make things personal. If she was anyone else — he’d still be out there. Why isn’t he?  

 

“How are you do doing?” He asks her over the sound of gunshots, soldiers screaming at each other and distorted voices coming in over the radios. Somehow the answer matters. He needs to know she is okay before he goes back in. 

 

“I’m — I’m fine,” she stutters, blinking up at him, and he drops his hand. She shakes her head, something defiant watching over her face, catching his hand before it’s back at his side completely. Her tongue darts out to wet her lips, and a beat passes between them before she squeezes his fingers, cheeks still wet from silent tears. “Be careful out there, okay?”

 

“Just —” He wants to tell her to go home. That she never should have come here. That this was no place for a girl like her. But that’s not good now, is it? None of it is any good. “Stay here. Okay?” 

 

She just stares at him, hardened look on her face. He doesn’t know what she’s thinking, doesn’t have the time to figure it out. Just knows she’s stubborn, and that’s something he can’t afford right now. 

 

“Okay?” He repeats, more forceful, to which she finally nods, swallowing tightly. 

 

“Blake!” Echo calls out for him and he risks one more glance at Clarke before going back to the front of the rover. 

 

In the end, they manage to take out all of them, but it’s a close call. There’s little injuries, some scrapes, bruises. But there’s worse, too. Monroe was slammed into the ground by a guy twice her size so roughly, she might have broken her back. Anya was hit square in the chest by a bullet, and continued to fight until she dropped down on the ground from blood loss. Clarke spent hours on her in surgery, but with their limited supplies it really was no use. She tried. They all did. 

 

Early in the morning, he gathers everyone in the mesh hall, chairs seated in a circle. Rays of sun cover their skin with bright shimmers. None of them have slept. All of them look like absolute wrecks. Jasper is still shaking. Bellamy scrubs a hand over his face tiredly as a silence falls over the room. He’s not sure what to say. But he discussed it with Lincoln last night, and he has to give them the option. “Look — we took a hit last night. Attacks are getting more frequent, less time in between them. And it’s not going to get any easier.”

 

“We’re not here because it’s easy,” Wells interjects, but it’s quiet, resigned, not contrary. “We never were.”

 

“All am I saying is…” Bellamy cuts himself off, shaking his head lightly as he presses the palms of his hands against his brow bones. He’s not sure if they can take any more losses, but he is sure that they’ll just have to figure it out. They don’t have any other options. He sighs, looking back up at everyone. “All I’m saying that if anyone wants out, now is the time. Walk away. Go home.” 

 

Nobody bats an eyelash, nobody moves a muscle, the tension in the room tight, heavy. He has to persuade them, make sure they know it’s okay, that they’re not traitors for choosing to live. 

 

“It’s not giving up. It’s choosing better than this. Only an idiot would stay here willingly,” he presses, and he knows he’s laying it on a little thick, but if he doesn’t try and sell this the best he can, he’ll never forgive himself. “A transport flight is coming tonight for Zoe and Anya. Echo has requested to leave with them. I’ve suggested Lincoln goes with them.” He glances over Lincoln briefly, his jaw set. He wants to go home to Octavia and their baby, but Bellamy can tell he doesn’t like leaving them behind. “It can take anyone else who wants to leave.”

 

He looks around the room, studies each face. Harper, right across from him, is bouncing her leg up and down nervously, her hand bandaged because of the burns covering her palm, hair a halo of frizziness framing her face. Raven, beside her, is completely still, arms crossed over her chest, familiar dimple above her brow. She wants to say something, he can tell, but she won’t. Shaw is next, a cut on the bridge of his nose, dark bags under his eyes. Wells beside him, elbows on his knees and hands clasped together in between them as he worries his lip, butterfly bandages adorning his forehead and down his temple. Jasper, shaking, covered in dirt and blood and something else; something dark and painful. Murphy, again barely covered in anything but soot, greasy hair falling in his eyes. Echo on his right, gaze fixed on the ground, face expressionless. Clarke is on his other side, and he can tell her fingers are digging into her thighs from his periphery.  

 

Finally, his eyes land on the person on the other side of Harper, Miller, staring straight at him. His arm is in a brace, shoulder dislocated earlier, but he leans forward on his elbows nonetheless. “We know you’re an idiot. That’s why we can’t leave you here by yourself.”

 

“Miller,” he barks, half-hearted — because now is no time for sentimentality, and he appreciates the gesture but he’d appreciate it more if they stayed because they wanted to, and not for him — but the harm is already done, Harper shaking her head beside him. “He’s right, Bellamy. If you’re here, we’re going to be here.”

 

“Where else are we going to go?” Shaw adds, semi-teasingly, raising his eyebrows, earning a humoured scoff from Raven beside him as she knocks her knee into his, and Bellamy supposes he’s right. Everyone has a reason to be here. It’s not much worse here than it is in Arkadia. At least here they can be together and protect each other.

 

Bellamy wants to protest, but in the end he doesn’t. Instead, he flicks his eyes over to Murphy, trying to deflect the attention away from him because he’s starting to feel uncomfortable. “Even you?”

 

He half-asses a shrug, slouched in his seat, sneering. “Don’t think I’m doing it for you. Out of everyone here, I have the least reasons to go home.”

 

Raven pouts dramatically, pretends to wipe non-existent tears away from her eyes until Harper kicks her with her foot, trying to muffle a laugh. They all feel like shit, look even worse, but at least they still have this. Still have each other. 

 

Clarke is uncharacteristically quiet the whole meeting, is the first to leave. He follows her outside, finds her crouched beside one of the water storage tanks on the edge of the camp. When he comes closer he can tell she’s trying to wash the blood off her hands under the steady stream of water, but it’s caked to her skin by now. She doesn’t even look up from her hands, her voice hoarse. “I couldn’t let her suffer. I had to do it.”

 

His gaze softens as he flashes back to the moment Clarke cradled Anya’s upper body to her chest, whispering soothing words against the side of her head — tears slid down the corners of the woman’s eyes, a woman he’d never even seen so much as wince the entire time he’d known her which meant it was bad — folding her hands around her head before sinking the syringe of air into her carotid. She went into cardiac arrest seconds after. It’s was quick, painless. It had to be done.

 

She sniffs, using the top of her wrist to dab at her nose. “We didn’t have enough supplies, not enough time. I didn’t have anything to give to her for the pain. I-I—”

 

He trusts her. He knows she made the right decision. Knows she would’ve done whatever it took if there would have been a chance to save her. Which means there wasn’t.

 

“I know,” he says, cutting her off and crouching down beside her. He runs his hand over the messy braid falling down her neck, then takes one of her hands from her, helping her scrub it clean. The skin is already an angry red, and he pretends not to notice the soft sounds she’s making while she cries, the tears dropping onto her bloodstained t-shirt and leaving dark, wet spots.

 

Once her hands are clean and the sobs have subdued to soft sniffs, her forehead pressed to his shoulder for support, he turns off the water, keeping a hold of her hands. It’s quiet for a second. Her skin is cold now, so he folds both of her wet hands in between his. He opens his mouth, closes it. Finally, he settles on, “You know, who we are and who we have to be here — who we have to be to survive, are two very different things.”

 

Clarke lifts her head, looks at him with her red eyes, cheeks streaked with half-dried tears. “I don’t ever want to feel that way again.” In the middle of the sentence she almost breaks down crying again, but she clenches her jaw, refuses to let it take over, let it take control. She’s strong like that, and achingly beautiful, he notes.

 

He searches her face, tries to find an explanation. When he finds nothing, he pries, “Like what?” 

 

“Standing by while everyone gets hurt.” Her eyes harden, her fingers flexing beneath his. There’s a tick in her jaw, holding an anger in her posture he’s all too acquainted with. “Powerless.”

 

Bellamy swallows hard, feels a familiar pang of terror bloom right behind his sternum, settling there. He doesn’t want this for her. He needs her to be safe. “Maybe you should go with them, Clarke. This is no place for you.”

 

She scoffs, pulling her hands from his grasp like she’s been stung. “But it is for you?” 

 

Maybe he is a hypocrite. He also can’t stand the thought of anything happening to her. 

 

He doesn’t answer at first, and she gets up, lifting herself onto her feet. She dusts off her pants, but it only covers her damp palms with a thin layer of sand. He follows her lead, licks his lips, hesitates. It takes him too long to form his thoughts into words and Clarke shakes her head, making a move to walk away. Finally, it kickstarts something, something he buried deep within himself a long time ago, and he says, “I’m not a good person.”  

 

I’m a monster, he wants to say, what lingers on the tip of his tongue, killing people for the sake of a war I don’t even believe in .

 

“Neither am I. We all have blood on our hands,” Clarke argues, her blue eyes dark and resigned, her nails digging into her palms. It hits him in the chest like a tonne of bricks; the realization that he doesn’t really know her. He doesn’t even know her and he cares about her safety more than his own. “The sooner you realize that the better.”

 

She keeps walking this time.

 

/.\

 

The next day he drops a gun in front of her on the table while she’s doing inventory.

Clarke barely reacts, just cocks an eyebrow. There’s a stripe of dirt on the column of her neck, distracting him temporarily. The sound of her voice brings him back. “What’s this?”

 

“I’ll teach you,” Bellamy says, voice rough. He still has his reservations, but he guesses it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

 

“To do what?”

 

He gives her a funny look. “Shoot a gun.”

 

She crosses her arms over her chest, clipboard dangling from her fingers. “I thought level two squad members weren’t allowed to carry firearms.”

 

He’s just as quick to respond. “I thought I told you I can do whatever the hell I want.”

 

Clarke glances at the gun, then looks back up at him, her mouth curved up in a tiny smile. She puts down her clipboard, picks up the gun carefully, admiring it from different angles for a moment. The smile fades. “I’m sorry for the other day. I was upset and I took it out on you.”

 

“Wow, an apology? ” He presses teasingly, keen to avoid talking about anything too sensitive of a subject. He has some issues, probably. “Coming from you?”

 

She rolls her eyes, gingerly puts the weapon back down on the table. It’s quiet for a second, then she meets his eye. Her gaze insistent, intense — almost too much to bear. “You’re not a bad person, you know that right?”

 

He freezes, just for a second, then forces himself beyond all the feelings collecting in the middle of his chest and making it hard to breathe. He doesn’t know what she sees in him, or what she’s seen, but he finds it hard to believe it left her walking away with faith in who he is as a person. 

 

He’s tired of fighting with her, so he’ll let her have this one today. 

 

“Come on,” Bellamy says, pulling on her shirt on her side playfully as he nudges his head into the direction of their makeshift shooting range that mostly consists out of empty bean cans and illegal beer bottles. “Let’s do some target practice.”

 

Clarke nods slowly, rolling her lips together, and he starts to make a move to walk over there when her voice pulls him back. “Hey Bellamy?”

 

He raises his eyebrows, turning back to face her completely. “Yeah?”


“Thank you.”

 

Bellamy grins widely. “Ready to be a badass, Clarke?”

 

“Hell yes.”

 

/.\

 

They’re making sure the camp is ready for what’s about to come. Indra informed them via the satellite phone that meteorologists think another dark period is coming. As in clouds forming so thick, so dark, the sun won’t show up for days. They’ve had a few of these dark times over the years. The morning comes late, then the next day it doesn’t come at all. Weather going from hot to snowy in a matter of hours. They’re getting more frequent, less time in between, lasting longer and longer. The last time the darkness lasted for a week. 

 

He’s working with Jasper on making sure all the tents are foundated properly, weighing them down and taking apart the tents they’re not using, since the darkness isn’t a stranger to having the occasional storm. Clarke is doing inventory on one of the wooden picnic tables beside them, making sure she has enough supplies to treat darkness related injuries, like possible hypothermia and frostbite. The others have similar tasks; collecting firewood, out hunting for extra provisions, a small group has even went over to the closest nearby base for extra supplies like batteries and matches.

 

The darkness would be a perfect moment for Eligius to strike, they all know it and it has them on edge.

 

“I’m taking five,” Miller announces, throwing a heap of small stumped tree chunks into the log store nearby, using his forearm to wipe some sweat of his brow.

 

“You’ll take five once you’ve finished collecting enough branches to last us through at least a week and a half of fire,” Bellamy orders right back, making sure the brailing peg in front of him is strong enough by kicking his steel-toe boot lightly against it. It doesn’t budge, so he’s satisfied.

 

Clarke makes a disapproving noise in the back of her throat, causing Bellamy’s head to snap her way, narrowing his eyes. She raises her eyebrows, putting down the blanket she’d been folding on top of the pile on the bench beside her. “We have time, it’s barely five p.m. and still light out. I’m sure we can afford five minutes.”

 

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were giving out commands now,” he snaps, maybe a little more petulantly than necessary, but he’s tired, and hungry, and worried about Lincoln, about his sister who’s about to be giving birth sometime soon, and fed up.

 

Miller is already gone, and Jasper mumbles something about ‘ taking a b-word ’ before walking into the direction of the field kitchen.

 

“I’m just saying they all stayed because of you,” she hisses, keeping her hands busy and her eyes trained on her hands. “You don’t have to be a hardass all t he time.”

"Why are you here, princess?" A bead of sweat dripping from his temple over his sharp cheekbone and down his jaw before it drops onto his tan shirt, missing his dog tags by just a hair. She follows it, like it might lead her to an answer. "You were right. People don't join the force voluntarily unless they're running away from something. Or someone."

She picks up her canteen from where it was resting between her feet, brushing some sand of the bottom of it before twisting the cap off and taking a swish of cold water. Some drips down her chin, and she wipes it away with the back of her hand. She catches his eye just as they flick away from her lips. "I could ask you the same thing, Sergeant."

“I told you my reasons,” he says, gruff, simple. Everything he’s done since he was six years old is for Octavia. He told her this. He needs Clarke to stop deflecting. “Who are you running from?”

Clarke sighs, puts down the marker in her hand she was using to label all the boxes of supplies. “Would you believe me if I said it was because of an ex-girlfriend?”

 

“Lexa?” He shakes his head. “I don’t think that’s true.”

 

She sighs, resigned, scrubbing a hand over her tired face. There’s a dark ring around the collar of her shirt, the blonde hair not pulled up in her ponytail plastered to the back of her neck. “I needed to get away from my mom. This is literally the only place she wouldn’t follow me to or where she would be able to control my life indirectly.”

 

He scoffs, amused. She really does make herself sound like a princess. He can’t keep the ridicule out of his tone. “What? Is she in the mob?”

 

“No, but it’s her company that runs almost every hospital in Arkadia.” It made sense. Of course she was the daughter of the head of Griffins Inc., one of their countries biggest corporations. “It’s her company that refused to give my dad the treatment that he needed to live as punishment for trying to expose the corruption behind our healthcare system.”

 

“So you are royalty,” he replies, breaking some of the tension because he feels like she might cry if he doesn’t. She lets out the ghost of a chuckle, crossing her arms over her chest as she catches his gaze. Softened, at first, then a flicker of fear flashes across her blue eyes.

 

They both know what question comes next. Her dad. He can feel she doesn’t want to talk about, can feel that if she asks, she will tell him anyway, because that’s kind of an unspoken thing between the two of them. 

 

“You always wanted to be a doctor?” He wonders instead, and she shoots him a thankful glance as she straightens a pile of unused thermal blankets still wrapped in plastic.  

 

Clarke rolls her lips, mouth curving up in the tiniest hint of a teasing smile. “It wasn’t my mom’s doing if that’s what you’re asking. I’ve always wanted to help people.”

 

He feels it fester deep inside him, the admiration he has when it comes to her. But it’s mixed with something else, something uglier, something a lot like resentment. She’s the closest thing he’s ever gotten to being able to rightfully take his frustration out on. Because he can’t help it, his disdain shining through quietly but enough to make her notice, hands lodged on his hips, “And you think a lottery is the way to help people?”

 

If you weren’t one of the privileged, and you were sick or injured, you had to go to a healthcare sign-up desk at city hall so you could walk away with a number. Each day ten numbers were pulled from a pool of thousands. They claimed a lack of available beds, a lack of well-schooled personnel, a lack of supplies, but that was never the case if you had money or power to spare.

 

“That’s why I only worked part-time at the hospital to pay the bills. The rest of the time I volunteered at shelters and did housecalls in some of the less-privileged communities and neighbourhoods in my town,” Clarke replies easily, obviously unimpressed. She opens her mouth, then closes it. Finally, she says,  “I don’t think you can change the system from the outside.”

 

He presses his lips together, nodding his head intercepterably as he wipes his palms on his thighs. If he was a better person, he might have given her the win. “I think their five minutes are up.”

.

On the morning before the darkness, the night stretches until deep in the afternoon. Bellamy and Miller are out on a routine patrol, deciding to pull a double shift to relieve the others so they can finish their tasks in time before the sun sets and doesn’t rise again. 

There’s an hour of light that day, before it’s dark again. It starts snowing a few hours in and Bellamy knows they should get back to base camp before it’s impossible to. The Rover gives out from the cold about halfway back and it pains him to leave her behind (not only emotionally but also severely physically when he has to break it to Raven), but they’re not left with much choice. If they stay here, they’ll be sitting ducks to both Eligius and the cold. Somewhere in between the three miles between the Rover and camp, Miller trips over a branch hidden by a thick layer of snow and topples over with an agonizing scream.

Luckily it’s just a bump on his forehead and a strained ankle, but Bellamy has to sling his arm around his middle and help him forward at about half the pace they were going before. Their only radio is back in the Rover and he knows they’re going to be hit with another heavy snowfall soon. By some miracle, they make it back before. 

Jaha spots them with his binoculars and rushes over, by their side in minutes to help Bellamy lead Miller inside of the nearest tent. Warmth envelops them like a welcome blanket immediately and it’s now his body starts shivering, like the cold has finally caught up. 

 

It’s not long before the flap of the tent is pushed aside aggressively and a rush of blond hair and fiercy fury-filled expressions storms inside. A finger pokes into his chest and it takes him a second to register it does, body numb from the frosty chill outside. 

“You were supposed to be back hours ago!” Clarke pushes Wells aside to check them for injuries herself, who just shakes his head and holds his hands up defensively, disappearing back behind the tent flap leading to his own tent. She’s frantic almost, her hair a frizzy halo around her head and her neck flushed a splotchy red as she examines Miller from top to bottom. 

“I didn’t realize you cared,” Bellamy retorts, aggravated, fully-knowing it’s a low blow. It doesn’t come out as harsh as he intended, the muscles in his jaw trembling uncontrollably. 

“Shut up,” she tells him easily, hardly bothered as her eyes finally leave Miller and her fingers let off his ankle, taking him in. It must be the hypothermia getting to his brain, but she almost looks relieved, her eyes softening as they land on his face.

Clarke tears her eyes away from him and looks over at the unfolded camping mattresses on the floor in front of a tent heater Raven must’ve whipped together in her spare time, blankets puddled on top of there. Suddenly she starts to shrug out of her jacket, pulling her shirt over her head before he has times to say, “Woah, woah, woah,” holding up a hand to get her to stop. He would turn, if he wasn’t literally frozen in place. 

Clarke ignores him pointedly, nodding over at Miller. “Nate, take off your shirt and pants.”

His second-in-command, never one to be shy, starts toeing of his boots immediately. He’s shivering, too, teeth chattering but apparently not enough to keep the attitude off his face as he glares over at him.

“What are you doing?” Bellamy barks with as much heat as he can muster, averting his gaze away from Miller. “Keep your clothes on!” He swats Clarke’s hand away as she reaches for the zipper of his coat, but she doesn’t give in and moves it down his torso anyway, pushing it down his shoulders.

“It’s not like you’re a stranger to threesomes, Blake,” Nate grins up at him wolfishly while unbuttoning his pants. Once he can feel his fingers again, he’s going to beat the shit out of him. 

His shirt is being pulled over his head, his dog tags like ice as they fall back down his strangely pale chest. “Body warmth,” Clarke reminds him, a weird tone to her voice, putting her hand on top of his sternum and pushing him back onto the makeshift sleeping area. She crouches beside the mattresses to turn down the heater and he vaguely remembers her telling him to never actively warm somebody up if they have progressed hypothermia. Bellamy rolls his eyes, or thinks he does, anyway, huffing loudly as he settles into the bed of pre-heated blankets. He gives in, letting his head fall back onto a pillow and pushing his damp pants down his hips. He doesn’t manage to kick them off completely so Miller helps pull them further down, before collapsing beside him. How he’s still functioning is beyond him. 

“Turn on your side,” she instructs him, clinical, even if he doesn’t miss how red the tips of her ears are as she lifts her hair into a ponytail. Miller is quick to settle behind him like a block of ice, wrapping an arm around his middle tightly and snuggling his face in between his shoulder blades over-exaggeratingly. 

Bellamy hisses, cursing under his breath, which just makes the ice sculpture behind him chuckle like a Disney movie villain. The blonde inhales sharply and then pulls up the blanket, settles against his chest, her arms awkwardly at her sides before she settles one above Miller’s. He hates peaches, he decides.

“The joke’s on you guys,” Bellamy mumbles, a shudder running through his system at the sudden heat surrounding him, “I love cuddling.” He blinks down at her, and maybe he’s a little more lethargic than usual considering he can’t feel any of his muscles or his reflexes just aren’t what they used to be, because she definitely notices his gaze lingering on her bra-clad breasts squeezed tightly against his chest. He’s only human.

Instead of frowning, a slow self-satisfactory smirk spreads across her lips. “Eyes up here, sergeant.”

Miller only snorts behind him. And if he could, Bellamy would elbow him in the ribs. Soon his eyes begin to feel heavy, drooping close. The next time he opens them, he feels hot — overheated — like he’s going to crawl out of his skin, his head pounding and his limbs sore. He kicks off the blankets, turning his head to find Miller turned away from him, still dead asleep. 

He leans up on his elbows looking around the room. Clarke is a few feet over sitting down on stool, writing down notes. Fully dressed, to his disappointment. He blinks at her a few times, adjusting to the light from behind. 

“There’s some dry clothes on the table,” she tells him without looking up, fixated on the papers in front of her. If she wants to pretend their almost bare chests weren’t pressed together for what he assumes at least a couple hours, he’s fine with that. He pushes himself up to his feet, slapping Miller on the thigh to wake him up to, but he only groans, snuggling further into the blankets. 

He takes one of the cargo pants off the table, stepping into it before walking over to her, shirt lodged under his arm as he buttons the pants up. “Did it stop snowing yet?”

“Yeah, a couple hours ago,” she responds absently, and now he’s close enough to look over her shoulder he realizes she’s not writing. She’s drawing, quite well, he realizes too. It’s an image of Jasper, covered in cuts and bruises but with a genuine smile Bellamy hasn’t seen on him a while. 

As if suddenly realizing he’s standing so close to her she looks up, smiling tiredly, wiping her charcoal stained fingers on her thighs as she puts the drawing down on top of a notebook with more drawings. He catches a glimpse of a soccer-playing Harper, sun in her hair, eyes crinkled from laughter, droplets of sweat sliding down her temples. She’s easily recognizable, incredibly beautifully drawn. 

“You’re really talented,” he compliments her, trying to find the right armhole on his t-shirt for his left arm while he keeps glancing over at her notebook. He wonders what else she’s drawn, in what other way she could possibly surprise him. She’s soft he thinks, softer than she pretends to be.

“Thanks,” Clarke replies, sounding a little unsure before she rises to her feet slowly. He doesn’t move away and make room for her unlike she probably expects him to, which has them inches apart until she stumbles back into the table, flustered. He can’t say he hates the effect he has on her. Clarke averts her eyes to her feet, knuckles turning white from her grip on the table pressing into the low of her back. 

Bellamy finally tugs the shirt over his head, then takes her temporary distraction and reluctance to look at him as an opportunity to lift the notebook from behind her, thumbing through it even as she tries to reach for it. 

“Hey!” She says, straining for it, but he turns his back to her, shielding it with his body. He admires the quick sketch of Raven and Shaw enthralled in a deeply enthusiastic discussion about something he could probably never dream to grasp and the close-up portrait of Wells pretending to look serious (and failing terribly) while he cooks. 

Clarke pounds her fist into his back while saying his name, and every time she tries to slip by him to yank the book out of his grip he turns another 90 degrees. He knows he’s being a jackass, somewhere, probably, in the back of his mind. He knows. But a small part of him enjoys her like this — he’s never seen her so uncomposed. 

He chuckles at her eagerness. “What are you afraid of me finding?” Bellamy takes in her flustered expression from over his shoulder, eyebrows lifted. “Is there an asshot of me? I won’t be offended, I promise, I know I have a great a—”

“No,” she hisses, cutting him off, even though he’s barely paying attention, already deeply entranced by the images in front of him. “Bellamy—”

There’s him and Monroe sitting on a log, laughing together at a joke he doesn’t even remember, shadows dancing across their faces from the warm fire in front of them. The page next to it is a zoomed in version, focused on their hands. His are detailed to the point he’s a little scared, but Monroe’s remain vaguely sketched, like an afterthought. He smiles, about to tease her, but then he turns the page, and there’s another one of Jasper, this time not so happy. 

This time he’s in the corner of the medbay in the middle of a panic attack, hands covering his ears and his cheeks wet with tears. It’s like a train crashing, he can’t stop himself from turning the pages and then there’s one of Anya, a dull look in her eyes, blood trailing down her chin. A girl he doesn’t know next, with a long narrow face and full lips, and wavy hair covered with flowers running down her shoulders. Lexa , he figures.

His shoulders deflate and his face turns sour as he finally relents and lets her take the notebook back. “Sorry,” he says, lamely. He meets her gaze but can’t keep it because he’s too cowardly to do so. He is such a fucking asshole. 

Clarke cradles it to her chest protectively, avoiding his gaze as she tugs a strand of hair back behind her ear. “Don’t mention it.” He can physically see her shut down, the guard that comes back up, the distant look in her eyes. 

“Clarke, I really didn’t —” Bellamy starts to apologize, voice rough, then is cut off by a pillow hitting him in the cheek and he glares, shifting his head to look at Miller as he says, “Can you guys shut the fuck up?”

He roughly pulls the blanket tighter around his shoulders. “I had a near death experience like —” He looks at his watch, instead of reading the room. “Six hours ago.”

“We’ll leave you to it then, sleeping beauty,” Bellamy counters bitingly even though his friend’s reaction is next to nothing, just a more firm closing of his eyes like he’s making a point. He turns back to Clarke, but she’s already at the exit of the tent, holding up the flap and mumbling something about food. 

Bellamy scrubs his face with his hands, cursing himself lowly under his breath. He hates himself for hurting her, for somehow abusing the little trust they had between them just because what? He thought he was funny? He kicks the table in frustration, which earns him another pillow in the head. Defeated, he sinks down on the stool Clarke was on before, a nagging voice in the back of his head asking him why he even cares if she’s mad with him. He used to love pissing her off, practically made it his mission to do so. He realizes now he just loved the way her brow would crinkle and her lip would curl in disdain and she’d turn all her attention on him. 

Somewhere along the line he started caring about her, even in the midst of a war, and those two things don’t go together in the world they live in. He needs to get a grip, and fast. 

/.\

Once the snow starts to melt it’s not long before shit goes down. The darkness, and the cold and the snow that had come with it, had been dangerous; but it also protected them. Everything that could hurt Arkadian soldiers could hurt Eligius soldiers too, which is why they never dared to bridge the thick layers of snow to start a fight they were bound to lose under these circumstances. 

About an hour away from their camp, a crossfire breaks out between a group of their soldiers from a different platoon, out on a supply run, and a few dozen Eligius soldiers. Their patrol leader asks for back-up through the radios, and considering it would take over three hours for their own platoon to reach them from their basecamp, Bellamy makes the call to go assist them. 

The snow has turned into water, turning the ground into slippery sludge sticking to their boots. It’s warmer than it was at the start at the darkness, meaning it’s coming to a close. Instead, there’s a raging storm with pouring rain, seeping into their clothes and sticking their clothes to their bodies, and the dark rumble of thunder reminding them they’re a long way from home. 

Clarke insisted she came in case someone got hurt since the crossfire was nearly an hour away. He knows he would’ve agreed if their medic was anyone but Clarke, which is why he does. At least she complies with his instructions to stay in the Rover when he states she has no business being in the field, which they park near an old, abandoned village, only highlighted in the dark by the shots being fired inside of it. 

He’s out there with Miller, Shaw and McIntyre when static crackles over the radio, a few indecipherable phrases following next, flashes of sentences that they can’t make out — Jaha, losing, fucked . They pause against the back of a depricit building, Miller fumbling with the settings until he can make out Murphy’s voice.

“Murphy?” Nate checks, meeting Bellamy’s worried gaze over the radio. His skin crawls with not knowing what’s going on with his team. He hates going into situations blind. “Can you repeat that?”

“Took you long enough,” he hisses, and yeah, that’s unmistakingly Murphy. “We got separated from Jaha.” There’s some background noises from the other side of the line  Bellamy can’t place. He sounds panicked, suddenly. “Blake, the kid — he’s — he’s losing it, I don’t know what to do.”

He yanks the radio from Miller’s grip, putting it to his own mouth. He can hardly keep the irritation out of his voice, “What do you mean losing it, Murphy?”

It takes a full fifteen seconds for him to reply. “He started punching one of the walls, drawing attention from a soldier. I shot the guy, but Jordan still wouldn’t stop and now he’s — he’s hyperventilating or something. I can’t get him to stop.”

“Shit,” Harper murmurs from beside him, pressing a hand against her crinkled forehead. 

Bellamy lets out a tired breath, resting the back of his head against the wall as he closes his eyes briefly, considering their options. The enemy could be everywhere, he can’t risk sending anyone to retrieve them right now because he can’t spare the manpower and they don’t sound like they’re in the right state of mind to extract themselves. Fuck.

Suddenly the radio crackles again, like it knows exactly what he’s thinking. “I’m going in,” he hears Clarke’s voice, stopping him dead in his tracks. That is not an option. It never was.

“Clarke — you are not allowed to go into the field. Do you copy?” He starts immediately, shaking his head to himself as he makes eye contact with Miller. They both instinctively know she’s already on her way. “Clarke? Stay in the rover, that’s a direct order. Clarke ?” 

Fuck. Fuck. He shoves the radio back at Miller’s chest roughly. “Damnit.” He kicks at a rock, gritting his teeth as he damns her stubbornness. Does she honestly think she can just march into an unfamiliar village infected with enemy soldiers and walk out unharmed? She’s not untouchable, and he curses everything in the world that every made her believe she was. 

“Okay,” he grits out, forming a plan in his head as he looks at Nate. “You and Shaw get in position like we discussed. Wait for my signal. McIntyre, follow me.”

Miller gives him a small nod, in full agreement. Sometimes he trusts him more than himself, which is why he knows he can leave him in charge right now. He claps him on the arm, before signaling for Harper to follow him back down the uneven road they came from. 

They’re halfway back towards the rover, but decide to go off track when he sees a flash of blonde hair disappearing into an alley to their left. Without even hesitating he ducks after her, easily grabbing her by the arm when he comes close enough. Her first aid bag drops to the ground, mud splattering up towards their calves. It barely makes a noise compared to the steady drum of guns being fired not too far away from them. 

He could’ve been anyone, sneaking up on her. He has to squint his eyes to see through the rain without getting water in his eyes. “I told you to stay in the rover.”

“Jasper needs my help—” A flash of lightning illuminates her face, water dripping down her nose. 

“You’re not qualified to go on an extraction mission by yourself on enemy territory.”

She finally yanks her arm lose from his tight grip. “I’m not extracting him, I’m just planting myself.” He chuckles bitterly, tainted with disbelief. A technicality. She knows that makes little to no difference. “You’re not qualified to tell me what to do—”

“I am literally qualified to do that. I am your superior office—”

Increduled, she tilts and rolls her head to the right, eyes crossed over her chest and her lip curled in disdain as their voices get louder and louder to try and get out above the noise of the rain pounding down on them. “Oh, stick you can stick that superior officer up your—”

He knows they’re being reckless, arguing like this out in the open. He knows, and yet he can’t get himself to stop. “You’re not just Jasper’s medic, Clarke! You’re all we have—”

Disgust covers her face. “You sound like Wallace, right now, saying we need to sacrifice the one to save the many—”

He grits his teeth, trying to keep himself together as he harshly blurts out, “I’m not saying that!” He’s never been this angry, he’s sure. He would never sacrifice Jasper. He’s family. He just can’t sign off her going on a suicide mission. “I’m just saying there’s a better way—”

She huffs loudly, seconds away from stomping her foot, her voice raspy from yelling, “And the better way is letting him suffer, or risk getting him killed—”

He narrows his eyes, lowering his voice as he spits back, “Believe me, princess, if I had a choice between you and him, I’d pick him every—”

A bullet grazes his shoulder, misses going into it by a hair, instead penetrating the wall behind him, some concrete crumbling to the ground. Something metals glimmers down the other side of the alley for a moment and before Bellamy even has time to flinch or  reach for his gun three shots ring through the air. They come from their side. A rifle rests on Harper’s shoulder as she perfectly shoots the Eligius soldier three times; chest, chest, head. He drops down with a loud thud near the end of the narrow passageway.

They both turn their heads to look at her and she lifts a shoulder half-heartedly. “You’re always telling me to keep my eyes sharp, aren’t you?” She flicks a strand of wet hair out of her eyes by moving her head, bouncing up and down on her feet to keep warm, “Can we wrap up this whole ‘ am not, are too ’ thing? I’m freezing.”

Bellamy stares at for a long second. Now they’re longer in the heat of the moment he realizes exactly what kind of idiot he’s being. As if on cue, “Sarge, we’re in position,” crackles Miller’s voice over the radio.

“They need you,” Clarke says, quieter, meeting his eye but quickly looking away, too, like she now also recognizes they were arguing in the middle of a battlefield and endangering all of them. 

He sighs, wiping the excessive water of his face, even if it’s no use. “Clarke—”

Her eyes flick up to his, and they’re dark, decided. “I’ll take Harper and we’ll get Jasper out of there.” She straightens her shoulders, her mouth twisting like she wants to say something before a second passes, and she instead practically pleads, “We can’t lose any more people, Bellamy.”

All the fight has left him, but he still doesn’t agree. She might be right about them not being able to lose anyone, but that includes her. He can’t risk losing her . He shakes his head, just slightly. “It’s not safe. You’re not trained.”

“Harper is,” she argues skillfully. “And Jasper is near the back of the village where there have barely been any sightings of enemy soldiers. We’ll take the long way around and avoid any crossfire.”

“It’s too dangerous,” he presses again, but able to keep his cool this time, not letting his tone falter. Instead he keeps it steady, calm, leaving no room for doubt. He doesn’t want to make these kind of decisions, but someone has to. And they’re wasting time. 

“Look,” Clarke announces, taking a tentative step towards him before she pushes her shoulders back and tilts her chin up. “You might be the sergeant but I’m in charge of medical decisions.” No one ever really challenges him, not like this. A beat passes in which he just stares at her, and then she adds, just a hint of smugness, “Respectfully, sir .” 

Drenched and her lips a pale blue color, she looks small, fragile, but he knows she’s anything but. He should give her the benefit of the doubt, have some faith in her, even if every cell in his body is telling him it’s a bad idea. He just knows that if he doesn’t let her go and something happens to Jasper, she’ll never forgive him. He’ll never forgive himself. 

Bellamy holds her steady gaze, the fierce determination in them telling him he’s not winning this one. Miller’s voice cracks over the radio again, making him look away and blink copiously in an effort to snap himself out of it, taking a step back. “McIntyre, you got this?”

“Yes, sir,” she salutes only half-seriously, hoisting the strap of her rifle higher into her shoulder as she crosses over to Clarke. 

“Don’t leave her out of your sight,” he instructs one of his best soldiers, his eyes flashing over to Clarke one more time, just barely long enough to catch the small nod she gives him. A ‘thanks’ or a sign of respect, he’s not sure. Bellamy puts the radio to his mouth, already jogging away from them, “I’m on my way.”

He meets Miller and Shaw along with three Arkadian soldiers from the platoon they’d planned on meeting and they’re here to assist. They discuss tactics and technicalities before he maneuvers his way through the village to join Wells with a few of the other left-over soldiers. Like this, they’re surrounding the Eligius soldiers, able to close in on them within the next forty-five minutes, hardly any casualties on their side off the fire.

The members of the platoon follow them back to the rover after Bellamy offers for their medic — he knows they’re rare — to take a look at their wounded before they make their way back to their basecamp. They exchange war stories and camp experiences on the way there. He vaguely registers Wells laughing at one of their bad jokes, but all he can focus on is getting back to the Rover and making sure everyone is okay. Jasper has to be okay. He can’t have sent her out there for nothing.

Zeke and Miller are already there with a few more soldiers, the former in a heated discussion with Murphy. Bellamy quickens his step, boots slamming into the ground, desperate to see what the raging dreadful pounding of his heart is about, “—mean to tell me first you get separated from Jaha and then when you find them not even fifteen minutes later you get separated again—

“What’s going on?” He barks as soon as he’s face to face with them, putting his hands on his hips, fingers digging into his uniform, desperate for the pressure to keep him grounded.

Zeke scoffs loudly. “We came back to find Murphy already here. No sight of the others.”  He shoves Murphy against the rover by pushing an arm across his chest pointedly, keeping him there. 

It’s one thing for Murphy to avoid active fire out of fear, or laziness, or whatever else motivates him to do so, but it’s another thing for him to leave his teammates to fend for themselves when they’re in need. And from the look of it, Shaw seems to have the same suspicions as him. 

“We were cornered by about six soldiers, I had no choice!” Murphy snarls, shoving the arm bracing him against the vehicle off him. There’s a cut on the bridge of his nose, dark bags underneath his eyes. He knows Clarke and Harper — they would’ve never left without him. Yet he ran at the opportunity to do so. Selfish fuck. 

Bellamy needs to know. He needs to know what happened and where he can find them. He slams him against the door of the rover again, mostly to keep from murdering him. Purposely slow, he flares darkly, “We don’t leave anyone behind.” 

They could be taken, or hurt, or worse. 

He holds up his hands in defense, flinching when Bellamy moves his face further away from him. “I didn’t leave anyone behind — I had to run or they would’ve closed in on me. I tried to go back, I swear, but they were gone.

“Sure,” Zeke cuts in, turning away on the back of his heels and stalking away to keep from hurting him probably. He’s never harbored any warm feelings for the guy, especially not ever since he was the reason Raven tumbled down a two-story radio beacon after he ‘forgot’ to check the safety chords like he was supposed to do. Jackson kept her on bedrest for weeks after she was touch-and-go for a few days, too unstable to be moved with their lackluster equipment. And since their radio beacon never got fixed, they had no way of contacting anyone. She still has a limp to show for it. 

Bellamy isn’t his biggest fan either, but he understands he has nowhere else to go. If he turns up back in Arkadia without completing his five years, they’ll have his head. He has long since stopped counting on him in action-heavy situations. None of that means he should keep endangering their squad without facing any consequences. Bellamy figures he can beat him up later, right now he has more pressing matters.

“Fucking coward,” Miller under his breath, and Bellamy throws him a glare, even though he is the one with his hands still curled around Murphy’s jacket. Realizing what he’s doing, he releases him. 

His surroundings come back into his full consciousness as Wells puts a hand on his shoulders. “I’ve tried radioing them just now,” he explains calmly, his jaw flexing regretfully for a brief second before he adds, “No response.”

“Okay,” Bellamy says, folding his hands together like a triangle and pressing them to his mouth for a second as he assesses the little info they have and comes up with a game plan. “ Okay . Let’s split into a group of two and make a sweep of the village. They can’t have gotten far.” 

He asks the other soldiers to hold down the fort near the rover in case they return there and keep an eye on their own squad member while the rest of them are out. 

“They better be okay,” he warns Murphy darkly, before taking the west side of the village with Shaw. The storm has started to wind down, the pouring slowly turning into a trickle until it’s no longer raining at all. Just the harsh whirling of the wind occasionally reminding them exactly how cold it is and how soaked they are. 

There’s the snap of a branch, which could be from under someone’s feet, so he turns back around to observe the surroundings while he keeps walking backwards until he hits something solid enough. He looks over his shoulder to realize it’s Shaw; frozen in place. “Sarge —” He starts, careful, a strange alarming tone to his voice. 

Bellamy keeps his eyes trained ahead for signs of movement for a few seconds longer before he lowers his gun and turns to see what has his teammate so on edge. There’s someone on the ground — someone of theirs, obviously, a heap of blonde hair peeking out from below a cap, a red cross on the side of the jacket. 

His whole world spins on it’s axis and he feels sick to his stomach, bile stinging the back of his throat harshly. No

“Sarge,” Shaw starts again, uncertain with a tone of warning to it, but Bellamy feels his feet move forward before he even realizes he’s doing it, calling out her name. And once again, when she doesn’t respond, this time louder, more desperate, reckless. He knows he’s being reckless. If any of their enemy soldiers are still alive, then now they definitely know they’re here. He can’t even make himself care, instead makes himself move faster to close what’s left of the distance between them. 

Bellamy falls down to his knees beside the body, taking his rifle off and laying it down beside him. Carefully, and then not carefully at all, he shakes her shoulders. She doesn’t respond. Her body is completely still. With trembling fingers, he wipes away the hair covering her face, and it’s like he’s punched square in the chest, all air leaving him with a painful hitch of his breath. It’s not Clarke. 

It’s not Clarke. It’s Harper — mud and blood staining her face and her lifeless eyes staring at nothing. He falls backwards into the mud, defeated. His chest aches with every beat of his heart, like all the pain is slowly being dispersed to the rest of his body with each squeezed. Shaw hesitatingly crouches down to feel her pulse, but Bellamy already knows. He can see it in her eyes, feel it deep down in the pit of his stomach; she’s gone. 

A gunshot rings from a few feet away and when he scrambles up, nearly slipping, two figures emerge from around the corner. Jasper’s arm is around Clarke’s shoulders, merely being held up by her support. He looks like a ghost, but he’s alive. Clarke tosses the gun in her hand to the side at the sight of their faces, relief across her own. 

“Clarke —” he breathes, walking towards her, holding out a hand in front of him like she might run away if he doesn’t. There’s a cut on her forehead and she’s just in a simple t-shirt, clung to her body. Her eyes linger on the body behind him and he steps to the side to break her gaze. “Clarke,” firmer, more insistent, trying to keep her attention on him, “Are you okay?”

She nods, her chin trembling, her knees buckling beneath her. He quickly slides forward to support her with an arm around her middle and Shaw makes quick work of moving Jasper’s weight over to him. Her eyes shift everywhere, like she’s trying to process what just happened. “I don’t know what —”

“It’s okay,’” he vows, brushing her wet hair away from her face and behind her ear, keeping his hand on her cheek to make sure she hears him, and maybe selfishly to remind him she’s real, and she’s here with him. “It’s alright.”

They watch as Zeke helps Jasper lower himself to the ground; hands folded over the sides of his head, knees up to his chest, exhaustion written all over him. Clarke inhales sharply. “We found a few wounded soldiers on our way back and then they — they came out of nowhere. One of ours died. They had rifle torches and her jacket — she had to take it off.” She tells them they got away but Harper had some burns on her back Clarke wanted to shield from any additional grime and dirt by giving her her jacket to at least cover them. 

She shakes her head like she’s trying to make sense of it, her hair tickling the skin on his neck. “She was fine — Harper was fine, but somehow, the Eligius men, they knew where we were. They asked for me, said they could use a medic —” Fucking Murphy. “—and then we got separated. We just got rid of the last one back there, but Jasper —" Her grip on the material covering his chest tightens, her jaw clenching as misplaced rage blooms darkly in her blue eyes. “He’s not okay. And now Harper —” 

The rage dissipates into something smaller, something breakable, her voice breaking and breaking off, and her lower lip starting to tremble. He pulls her into his chest, moving his hand up and down her arm in what he hopes is comfort to her. 

Bellamy awkwardly starts to shrug out of his jacket, one arm at a time, before draping it over her shoulders. It’s still soaked from the rainfall and hardly stops her body from shivering beside him, but it’s something. He doesn’t do well with idle hands. “Was that the first person you shot?”

The gunshot they heard, before Clarke and Jasper came around the corner. The gun. Jasper in no state to do it. It was probably the last of the soldiers they tried to get rid off. She’s a doctor, she knows death better than anyone. But it’s one thing to let death win and another to be the cause of it yourself. 

“I don’t care about him. He shouldn’t have attacked us,” Clarke flashes sharply, not an ounce of regret or hesitation to be heard. She steps away from him, wiping her nose with the back of her hand. “You were wrong, you know that right?” Her eyes soften, and there’s a flash of it there, doubt, and he realizes she needs this, and he needs to let her have it. “I did the right thing, going out there. Jasper needed me.”

“I know,” he relents quietly, focusing his gaze on Shaw picking up the radio to ask for assistance from Wells and Miller, one of his hands in between Jasper’s shoulder blades. They have to bring her home. “I know.”

“But Harper —” She breathes out shakily, even if she straightens her shoulders, like she’s ready to take all the blame, bear it all. “That’s on me.”

His heads snaps back towards hers, his brow furrowed. “It isn’t. Believe it or not — this was her job, Clarke. She chose to be here.”

Her fingers dig into her palms harshly, conviction all across her face. “They asked for me . They wanted me . If I hadn’t given her my jacket —”

He’s able to remain awfully calm for someone who’s inside voices are yelling at him to shake her, to make her see. “You would be dead. Or you and Jasper would be dead. Or Harper would’ve heard you two being shot down and went after you and they’d shoot her too.” He puts his hand on her shoulder, gripping it tightly and hopefully grounding her, reminding her. She is not a hero, she is not a victim, and she’s nobody’s martyr. They’re all just trying to survive. “We can’t afford ‘what ifs’ down here, Clarke.”

She holds his gaze for a long moment, blinking abundantly to keep the tears at bay as she looks down at her boots. Then there it is, the barest of nods. He holds on to it. 

He gives her a minute, Miller and Jaha arriving with a stretcher shortly after and Bellamy helps them load their latest fallen soldier onto the stretcher. That night, they share their last bottle of moonshine in front of a campfire in silence and hang the picture Clarke drew of Harper on the back wall of the main tent along with her dog tags. 

The next morning, the sun rises. 

 

/ . \

 

Six months after Clarke arrives, another military officer gets transferred to their unit. Indra tells him the request was put in ages ago and the government finally granted it. Never a woman of many words, that’s about as much information as she’s willing to give him. 

 

The guy looks vaguely familiar as he makes his way over from the chopper, flicking his hair from his eyes, and it isn’t until he hears the loud clatter of whatever wrench or plier Raven was carrying bouncing off her toolbox and onto the ground that he makes the connection. Finn Collins. 

 

Raven is already halfway over there, her arms tightly around his neck as he spins her around before Bellamy has formed a single thought about what this means and his stupid boyband haircut. 

 

At least when he was placed in the same unit as Lincoln they had the decency to speak to the both of them beforehand, grill them a little, reinforce army code. And now they just drop someone’s significant other off on a random Tuesday and leave him to fix the mess it’ll certainly leave behind. Sure, they can use the manpower, but there’s just absolutely no way this is going to end well.

 

Bellamy stays frozen over by the picnic tables, admiring the shit show from afar as the squad wanders over one by one, all curious to meet their newest teammate while the sun beats down on their skin from high in the sky. Miller gives the guy a small nod, obviously awaiting Bellamy’s impression of him before making up his mind about him. Wells likes him, but Wells likes everyone. Murphy hates him, but Murphy hates everyone. Once Finn shakes Clarke’s hand and lingers just a little too long with his fingers wrapped arounds hers and a stupid goofy grin on his face, Bellamy jumps off the table, making his way over there just as Jasper mumbles something about welcoming him to the livestock. 

 

Zeke is one of the last to meander over to them, wiping his greasy hands from helping Raven on the back of his pants before offering Collins a hand. His smile is kind, amicable but Bellamy almost feels sorry for the guy’s hand, because it looks like it’s a tight grip. 

 

Bellamy clears his throat because he’s never been a stranger to dramatic introductions, eyes lingering on the pale imprints of Shaw’s fingers on the back of Finn’s hand with the corners of his mouth turned up smugly. It’s not like he has a right to judge a guy he’s just met, but his vibe is off and if anything, Zeke’s his guy. Raven’s face lights up, her arm tight around his middle, “Blake! This is Finn. My boyfriend.” 

 

He’s never seen her beam so wide before. He glances over at Zeke. Must be tough. Instead of shaking the hand Finn is holding out, he scoffs, crossing his arms over his chest. “Yeah, this’ll go over well I can just tell.”

 

Raven rolls her eyes, slapping him on the back of the head as she passes him, offering Finn a tour of the premises. Bellamy starts to make his way back, everybody else falling into step with him to resume to their tasks. 

 

“You just love making lasting first impressions, don’t you?” Clarke elbows him, raising her eyebrows. He stumbles just a little on his feet from the force, ducking his head to hide a grin. He turns on his heels, jutting his chin at Miler as he keeps walking backwards. 

 

“Hey Nate, maybe we can send in a request for them to send Bryan over next? Grow us some crops?” His smirk widens, obviously enjoying this. “Or maybe we can get Luna over here, give Wells a good night’s sleep for the first time in months? You know, just turn this whole thing into a bad episode of Love Island?”

 

Wells scoffs loudly, humoured. “It’ll be a cold day in hell whenever anyone manages to convince my wife to swap the Peace Corp for this shithole.”

 

“Yeah, and Bry would rather have a Casualty Notification Officer come knocking on his door then leave the safety of his little countryside farm.”

 

Bellamy laughs, shaking his head and parting from them with a nod of their heads. Wells disappears into the field kitchen to finish lunch and Miller goes back to their arsenal tent to repurpose their gunpowder into mines to bury around their camp. Clarke’s still at his side, following him back towards the main courtyard where she was meticulously cleaning her scalpels, clamps, scissors and forceps. 

 

Her arm brushes his, their eyes trained down at their boots. “Who would you invite?”

 

Bellamy considers the question, but comes up short. “What do you mean?”

 

“You know, Wells has Luna and Miller has Bryan. I think one of these days Jasper is finally going to pick up the satellite phone and tell Maya he likes her. And don’t think I didn’t notice the crate of tear-stained postcards from prison Murphy keeps under his cot and protects with his life.” They both laugh, light and warm and easy, feeling a lot like freedom, stopping in front of the table he was situated at before Finn temporarily distracted them. 

 

He’d been in the middle of writing his sister a letter and thanking her for the pictures of Toivo she sent him. His name means ‘hope’ in Finnish. Bellamy was the one who suggested it to Lincoln right before he took off on the chopper back to Arkadia. He read about the name in a book about mythology a while back and it stuck with him. 

 

With all the time he spent raising Octavia trying to teach her how to survive, how to not go down without a fight and be fearless, he forgot to remind her better times were ahead. They were ahead because they simply had to be. It can only rain for so long before the sun shines again. Half the time he forgets to remind himself. The picture of Toivo with his pudgy little fist lodged in his mouth underneath his pillow down in his chambers is as good of a beginning as any other. 

 

Clarke’s smile falters just a little, almost like she’s nervous, but she soldiers on, “Who’s your person?”

 

Ever since he was six years old, it was Octavia. Without a doubt, up until a few years ago she would have been the answer to that question, no doubt about it. But Octavia has Lincoln now, and the both of them have his nephew. Gina could have been his person, had he not left without saying goodbye to chase his sister halfway across the world into a warzone. The truth is, he has no one. His fingers flex around his hips and he squints at the sunlight to look at her properly. “I don’t have a person.”

 

“Neither do I. Not anymore,” she counters quietly, biting on the inside of her cheek in thought. She breaks their gaze, rubbing a circle on her forehead with the inside of her palm. “God, this is depressing,” she groans with a self-deprecating smile. She catches him trying to hide one of his own, causinghers to widen. “Maybe —” Her tongue darts out to wet her lips, and it’s almost weird, to see her so on edge, so awkward and uncomfortable for a reason that is beyond him. “Maybe we can be each other’s person, you know? Just in case they all gang up on us.”

 

A beat passes in which he just stares down at her. Bellamy presses his lips together to keep from bursting out in delirious laughter, some of it escapes anyway. “Are you flirting with me, Griffin?”

 

Clarke closes her eyes, holding up a hand as her cheeks flush a nice pink color. “Stop,” she insists, then inhales sharply as she pinches the bridge of her nose. It’s obvious she’s frustrated with herself, it’s almost cute. “I was trying to be — I don’t know. I was trying to be your friend.”

 

Their eyes meet and Bellamy can’t keep it together any longer, letting out a chuckle as he jabs one of his knuckles into her side playfully. She tries to keep a straight face as she dodges his hand, obviously offended with his laughter, but eventually gives in anyway, corners of her lips turning up. “I think we just found the first thing you’re bad at.”

 

Clarke tucks a stray piece of hair behind her ear as she closes the last few feet between her and the next table. Before turning completely towards her bucket of soapsuds, points a finger at him warningly, “Don’t say I never tried.”

 

His chest rumbles with laughter again as he slides back onto the bench, picking his pen back up. “I’ll make sure they don’t leave the honor out of my eulogy, princess.”

 

A sponge misses his head by a hair, the spray of water it brings with it trailing down his shoulder and seeping into his shirt. “You don’t deserve a person.”

 

Cute.

 

The next weeks are tense. Rations are coming less frequently in fewer quantities while active shoot-outs only seem to double, causing moral to reach a new low. Bellamy always thought the only reason Raven never made a move on Shaw is because Finn was still technically her boyfriend. But now he’s here, and they’re still together, and Shaw is always looking over at them like a kicked puppy. And Finn — douchebag Finn has taken an interest in Clarke. Always hanging around the medbay, sitting next to her at supper, being the first to volunteer to go on runs with her. Raven hardly notices, but he does. He tells himself it’s not jealousy, he just protective of his friends and doesn’t want to see Raven get hurt. That it can be both of those things at the same time doesn’t occur to him unless he’s by himself in his cot in the early hours of the day, surrounded by deafening silence and confronting darkness. He never lingers there, never explores it any further than that Clarke is his family, too. He’s just trying to protect her, like he’d protect anyone else. 

 

It’s a mess. Like he knew it would be. Shaw is glancing at Raven every chance he gets, Finn stares at Clarke over Raven’s shoulder, Bellamy stares at Finn like he’s thinking about which ways to murder him and Clarke’s doing the opposite of whatever that is. Like he personally hung the moon, or something. It’s a weird pentagon of feelings and emotions and moods, and a very bad place to be in when they’re in the middle of a war. Hardly any of them are focused. 

 

It’s exhausting.

 

/.\

 

“I could’ve just woken up Jasper for this,” he curses under his breath as Clarke presses a wad of alcohol against the cut on his ribs in the barely there light. He hisses in pain at the contact, nearly knocking over the lamp beside them when he tries to grab a hold of anything for some purchase. 

 

She dips the wad back into the kidney dish full of alcohol, clenching her jaw as she grits, “Absolutely not, he needs his sleep.” 

 

His fingers tighten around the edge of the metal table, forcing himself to take a stabilizing breath. He’s not even sure who he’s mad at here, he’s the idiot with low blood sugar induced illusions of grandeur who thought he could confront a black panther high on radiation with just a pocketknife and his best intentions. The only reason he even tried to start with is because he was already angry, so incredibly angry. And not because of the blood sugar — he’s grown up hungry. “Whatever.”

 

Clarke places a wound dressing over his ribs, pressing it down a little too harshly when she checks to see if every border is attached well enough to his skin. “What’s with the attitude?” Great, now she’s mad too.

 

She moves on to the claw marks on his shoulder, and he stiffens under her touch, curling his fingers into fists. “There’s nothing wrong with mine. Yours however —”

 

Clarke cuts him off, hand freezing in the middle of pressing a wad against his shoulder. The alcohol drips down his chest, seeping into the more shallow marks, causing him to clench his jaw tightly. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

He inhales through his nose, flicking his dark eyes up to meet hers. She knows what she did. That’s what’s the most aggravating about it all. “He needed a simple bandaid, Clarke, you didn’t need to put yourself in danger —”

 

She rolls her eyes dramatically, tossing the wad into the trash bag by her feet and taking a step back from him with her arms crossed over her chest. “What? Like all of you do every day?”

 

She’s so — she’s so fucking stubborn. He narrows his eyes, seething with anger. “We’re trained soldiers. You’re a doctor who I taught the basics about guns. Wells is fine —”

 

“He’s fine because I was out there to help him!” She throws up her hands, cutting him off once again. He stares her down for a few long moments, in none of which she backs down, deflating when he realizes she’s serious

 

He thought — he thought at least Harper taught her something. That she didn’t belong out there in the field. Yet, she just seemed to push harder to put herself out there every time. Today, she ran into the battlefield with no care in the world about the fact it was still an active gun battle. All to apply a tourniquet to Wells’ leg and help drag him back towards the rover. Anyone else could’ve down what she did — it was part of the basic med training they all took back in a dusty school building in Arkadia. She’s just hellbent on risking her own life. 

 

“You’re ridiculous,” he grumbles, but most of the heat has left him. Her life seems to mean nothing to her. She just doesn’t seem to get it’s everything — her life is everything good in the world. Whenever she woke up in the middle of the night just to help one of them with a dumbass injury that could’ve waited until morning, or talks Jasper down from another panic attack, or asks someone about minor details from their personal lives just to show she cares, or hell, just looks over at him and smiles — for the first time in a long while he remembers what he is fighting for. So the world could be better, for the people who deserved it, for her, for all of them. She’s so good . She should be back in Arkadia, making a real difference. 

 

“Screw you, Bellamy,” she bites back, turning her back on him to start ripping open another package of wound dressings. It’s obvious she doesn’t think much of him, or his opinion. Probably thinks he’s controlling, or overprotective. There’s most likely nothing he could say that would change her mind. 

 

Bellamy watches the muscles in her back move as she works, meticulously laying out all the dressings, taking her time doing so. He’s not sure how he’s supposed to tell her he can’t lose her, that he needs her alive, that it’s different with her. He always comes back to the truth, that she’s the only one of them who still has a choice, who could still walk out of here unharmed and be welcomed back in Arkadia with open arms. “Murphy chose this over jail. Miller’s an army brat, born and raised, this is all he knows. Wells has some fucked up ideas about earning his stripes. The rest of us chose this over poverty, over barely making it by on minimum wages and foodstamps. We’re here for our families, so they can have a better life.” She turns back around, starts applying a dressing to his shoulder, refusing to meet his eye while he talks. “It won’t be long before Wallace starts drafting people. At this rate, there won’t be anyone left to fight this war.” He lets out a huff of mirthless laughter. “We’re expendable.”

 

Her hands still on his chest, eyes flicking up to meet his darkly, frizzy hair forming an halo around her head. “You’re not to me,” she rasps, desperate, and his heart starts to beat so loud it’s all he can hear until she speaks again. “None of you,” Clarke adds with a clearing of her throat, for clarification. She cares about all of them. Hurt flickers across her face, even if she does a more than great job of covering it up. “Why do you keep convincing me to leave? You hate me that badly?”

 

“I don’t hate you,” he snaps, reflexive, gaze boring into hers like he’s trying to win an argument. Surprise crosses her face for just a second, her blue eyes swimming with unanswered questions as they’re both suddenly keenly aware of how close she’s standing to him, of the implication of their words said and unsaid, of her hand still on his chest right above his rapid heartbeat. 

 

He could do it. He could lean forward and touch his forehead against hers, bury his hand into that messy braid of hers and press his lips against hers. Maybe she’d let him even, to placate him before she’d let him down easy, or just because it’d been a while and it be nice to. He thinks knowing for certain it isn’t what she wants might wreck him, which is why he’d rather keep the fantasy alive for as long as he can. 

 

Clarke presses down the top border of a dressing, then hesistingly draws her hand away from him. She rakes his face, biting down on her lip. Her voice is barely above a whisper as she states, “I’m all done.”

 

He pushes himself off the table and rises to his feet, and maybe he’s a masochist, but they’re chest to chest for a second, and he likes it, likes pushing the boundaries of his one-sided built-up fantasy, see how far he can push before she pulls back. Until Clarke finally steps back, starting to clean up her supplies as she dismisses him easily, “Hopefully you can still catch a few hours of sleep.”

 

He pulls his shredded shirt over his head, seriously doubting it. 

 

/.\

 

“What? No Finn?” Bellamy teases as Clarke throws her duffel down in the back of the rover, leaning back against the passenger seat with her arms crossed over her chest. She rolls her eyes, knowing fully well he’s making a dig at the guy literally being everywhere she is, attached to her hip. “He’s not here, is he?”

 

He ignites the engine, starting the short drive to a patch of forest about forty-five minutes away. When he suggested going on an additional hunting party because they’re were running out of rations with no real prospect on when (and even if) a new shipment would come, Clarke and Wells were first to volunteer. 

 

Instead, Wells bailed last minute, claiming pain in his leg again from that few weeks old stab wound. A day-trip didn’t seem like the best idea. Bellamy would’ve asked someone else to come in his place, but Clarke waved him off, said tasks were already divided and too many people would scare away the animals anyway. They were valid points, and he didn’t want to risk anyone — someone — he might not particularly want there volunteering.

 

So now he’s stuck with her for the day. Have her fumble with the radio until she finds a song she likes, and opening the window to stick her hand out into the humid air even though the air conditioning is blasting, and blatantly denying anything is going on between her and Finn. He wishes he was just hurt on Raven’s behalf, wishes that’s all that it was, but he knows himself better than that. Bellamy has a habit of getting attached, but she’s not his, and he really has no goddamn business being jealous

 

“You really trust that guy with your life?” Bellamy wonders after he’s had a minute to stew on it. Clarke doesn’t even open her eyes, soaking up the sun, just half-heartedly lifts a shoulder. He doesn’t get the reaction he wants out of her, so he decides to be petty instead. “Relationships with fellow officers are against fraternity rules.”

 

This makes her eyes snap open, and she sits up, brows furrowed together angrily and lips parted enough for him to know shit is about to go down. “You don’t get to judge me, Bellamy. Especially not since --” She breaks off, shaking her head to herself as she falls back into the seat, forcing herself to look back outside. For a second he thought she was going to say something else than, “Especially not since Raven comes and goes out of your tent every night.”

 

“Raven?” He snorts, loudly, incredulous, fingers tightening around the wheel. A quick glance over at her tells him she’s serious. “Me and Raven are just friends. If you haven’t noticed she’s in love with Zeke.”

 

Nevermind she’s still with Finn. He get why Clarke might think he’d do something like that, but Raven? Sanctimonious is her middle name. Nobody is going to catch her in the middle of a mistake. Truth is, Bellamy doesn’t know why she is clinging onto Finn so badly -- nostalgia, duty, fear. 

 

“That’s what I used to think, too,” Clarke answers steadily, her shoulders eerily straight against her seat, still not looking at him. “Until I realized that she might spend her days with him, but she spends practically all her nights with you.”

 

It’s hilarious. Doesn’t she see how hilarious this all is? “Hardly thought you’d notice,” he counters, lightheartedly but all it does is make her eyes narrow further. He exhales through his nose loudly, then shakes his head lightly, trying to put it in better words. “ Shit. I don’t know. Raven has been my friend for a long time. We drink, talk shit, fantasize about ways to kill Murphy and make it look like an accident. We grew up under similar circumstances, we just -- understand each other, I guess.”

 

Clarke swallows visibly. She turns her head finally, her tone careful but nonetheless judgmental. “Is that all it is?”

 

There’s many things he could say. Like that half of the time, she brings Zeke and they play some lame card game him and Octavia made up when his mom was really sick and they could no longer afford keeping her alive and putting his sister through middle school. That the other half of the time, Raven’s just venting about how much she absolutely can’t stand Zeke. He could say that in the beginning, one drunken night, yeah , they almost did hook up before Raven stopped herself. Would she be jealous? He doubts it. He could get defensive, say it’s none of her business. But most of all, he has one burning question that rolls out of him before her words even get the chance to linger in the air for more than half a second. “Do you care?”

 

“Of course I care, ” she snaps, then seems to collect herself, tugging a strand of hair behind her ear as she adds, softer, unsure, “You guys are my friends.”

 

He can’t keep the bitter out of his voice. “You care because our well-being matters to you or because you want a reason to justify your feelings for Finn? Who, by the way, is still in a relationship with Raven. Your friend .”

 

“I don’t have feelings for him,” she argues right back. Something about the way her blue eyes turn dark and tortured has him deflate; it’s easy to argue with her, he likes it even, but it’s not as fun when her heart’s not in it. “He’s just -- nice . Easy to talk to. Uncomplicated.”

 

He doesn’t know if she exactly means it’s more complicated like this, with him, because of all the things they don’t say, whether they don’t want to or can’t, but it feels to him like she does. Bellamy doesn’t know if he just wants everything to be about him when it comes to her because he’s a pathetic sack of shit, or if he’s actually able to maintain some sense of objectivity when he’s near her. Knowing himself, the answer is probably clear -- he’s always been one to dive deep into subjectivity. 

 

He might think Finn is a grade A douche, and his skin might start to crawl every time the dude so much as looks at Clarke, but apparently she likes him, and it’s easy for her to open up to him and Bellamy can’t make her feel bad about that. He can be mad at himself for not being able to be that for her, and he’ll do that tonight in his tent when he can glare at his ceiling in self-loathing until the sun starts to filter through the canvas. 

 

“You can say dumb,” he mumbles mostly to himself, evading a tree stump on the road. Their surroundings are starting to turn greener and in the far distance he can make out the top of a mountain, signaling they’re close to their destination. He for one can’t wait to get out of this suffocating thin can on wheels. 

 

The corners of her mouth turn up, despite herself, despite her doing a horrible job of trying to cover it up as she knocks her hand into his thigh. “He’s not dumb.”

 

He barely manages to bite back a chuckle, rolling his shoulders back to release some of the tension from before. “The other day he asked what number of world war we were on, princess.”

 

Clarke rolls her eyes, but he can tell she’s smiling from the rear view mirror which he counts as a win. “So he’s not booksmart. You mean to tell me you’re a regular Einstein?”

 

Scoffing, but distracted enough by the valley coming up ahead to really pack much heat into his reply, “At least I have a college degree.”

 

He’s been there, once before, when Octavia was still on the same platoon as him, and it’s still as breathtaking as it was last time. Two mountains on either side of the land stretching out for a few miles, full of big green trees and different plants, the vague sound of running water, the sky bluer than he’s ever seen it, the air fresh and clean. No clouds of dust. It’s a nice change of scenery. 

 

Clarke shits up a little and he can feel her intense gaze on the side of his face, a gust of wind coming inside through the window making the entire car smell like the hint of peaches for a few seconds. “ Really ?”

His eyes flick over to her for barely a second, gauging the look on her face. She’s not teasing, she’s genuinely stunned. It should bug him more, probably, but he knows they don’t exactly have a lot of one-on-ones. “Why is that such a surprise?”

 

“I don’t know,” she replies casually, but he notices the forcedness behind it. Apparently she’s given it thought , just doesn’t want him to know. “I figured between all those threesomes Miller keeps mentioning, raising your sister and that youngest lieutenant in Polis ever-job you don’t stop bragging about, you were kind of -- busy.” 

 

And very poor, which didn’t make it any easier. He still doesn’t know how he pulled it off the end. Most days he barely got two or three hours of sleep, always trying to prove something. Some cop named Pike who busted him when he was sixteen, for fraud after he kept collecting his mother’s rations long after she died, threw him a bone by getting him a scholarship instead of condemning him to a life sentence of working to pay off his dues to the government and ‘his people’, dumped somewhere in a mine in the middle of nowhere, never to be heard from again. Said he could use someone like him on his side, someone loyal. All so in return Bellamy would join him on the force, first just on the weekends as his apprentice to get a taste and once he finished his degree, he’d come work with them full-time. 

 

He worked hard to prove he not only deserved that scholarship, he was the one who deserved it the most ever in the entire history of that scholarship. To get Pike’s approval, to make him see he was worthy, that he wasn’t wrong about him. The little weekend ride-alongs were innocent at first, but Pike knew how to work him, knew how to get into his head and eventually he ended up doing things he never thought he would. When he realized that, it was already too late. He was in too deep. 

 

Octavia never got to finish her education, and he was working on making it happen, saving up every pathetic little ration he earned from that shitty corrupt lieutenants job he hated just to make sure at least she could get out, when she just up and left and joined the army. Fast forward a couple of years and now he’s here. With a useless degree in criminology, and no way back to his life as he knew it before. 

 

“It’s never done me much good, believe that,” Bellamy tells her quietly, and he hears her open her mouth like she wants to say something but nothing more follows. He pulls to a stop as they reach the small valley, shutting off the engine. It’s almost serene. 

 

He grabs his backpack, slinging it over his shoulder before jumping out of the Rover. They begin a mostly silent two hour trek through the forest, busy looking for any edible plants or nuts and keeping their eyes open for any animals to hunt. They follow a path along the river, knowing it’s most likely 

 

They take a break once they reach the end of the river, leading up to a small waterfall, as good of a place to rest an any other. It’s been a steep hike and they’re tired, and a little cranky, and have come up aggravatingly short on actual food . Bellamy is sitting down on one of the fallen tree trunks to catch his breath, Clarke down on her henches over by the stream of water to refill her canteen, when a blue butterfly lands on his forearm. 

 

He blinks, once, twice, and then when he’s absolutely sure his eyesight isn’t betraying him, lets out a small delightful laugh. The butterfly is glowing . He can see Clarke turn her head to look at him over her shoulder in the corner of his eye, but he’s too busy admiring the insect fluttering it’s tiny, luminous wings. It’s almost like staring at the moon. 

 

Clarke drops a canteen at his feet, “We should get moving. It’s going to be dark in about six hours and we still haven’t found anything worthwhile of bringing back to camp.”

 

“Look at them,” Bellamy urges, rising to his feet carefully and lifting his arm as another butterfly lands on top of his bicep. Octavia told him about them last time and he didn’t believe her. Glowing butterflies . The cause of another out-of-proportion fight. He no longer feels any lingering regret, or anger. Just joy, hope you can heal from what hurts you the most. “They’re beautiful.”

 

Clarke crosses the few feet between them, puts her arms over her chest, one hip tilted to the side. Her cheeks are a little red from exertion, it’s cute. “Those things are probably littered with radiation. Too many of them touch your skin and you’ll start to show signs of poisoning. First you’ll start vomiting uncontrollably, and then you’ll start bleeding and eventually you’ll die.” One of them moves off his jacket-clad arm and onto his hand as if to prove her point, making him hiss and shake the insect off. A red mark starting to appear into his skin immediately. She raises her eyebrows, unimpressed, a small smug smile playing on her lips. “Sure is pretty though.”

 

She’s always so serious -- it’s adorable and annoying at the same time. Bellamy waves his hand around to get rid of the stinging sensation, a furrow in his brow as he deadpans sarcastically, “I take it you didn’t get through medical school on your looks alone?”

 

“Ah, thanks for thinking I’m pretty even though I haven’t seen a shower in three weeks,” Clarke counters back in a likewise tone, putting the cap back into her canteen before she starts stuffing it back into the backpack at her feet. 

 

He shrugs out of his jacket, tying it off around his hips all the while his grin only widens, leering down at her. “You’re always pretty, Griffin.” She rises back onto her feet, one eyebrow cocked and expression blank, obviously waiting for the punchline. He delivers it as soon as she’s back on eye-level, “Even when you smell.”

 

She gasps out a huff of semi-offended laughter, shoving him in the chest lightly. “Maybe I am in dire need of shower.”

 

Bellamy is full-on smirking by now, stepping forward. “That can be arranged.”

 

“Don’t even think about it,” she warns threateningly, tilting her head and narrowing her eyes as she holds up a hand in front of her body. Her eyes are panicked, mind obviously swimming with a bunch of reasons why she can’t , which is why he thinks she should. She deserves some fun, and a shower. It’s a basic human right, really. He’s doing her a favor. “We don’t have time --”

 

He pushes her a step backwards, and Clarke starts shaking her head, probably gearing up to verbally rip him a new one, but before she even forms the first word he’s ducking down, lifting her up by the middle. The sound she makes is his new favorite sound in the world. 

 

“Bellamy!” She squeaks, pounding down on his shoulders as he manoeuvers them closer to a boulder, half-hovering above the water in front of the waterfall. “I swear to God--”

 

He takes a small leap, dropping the both of them into the cold water. She emerges with a loud gasp, wiping her wet, flattened hair away from her eyes. He can’t stop laughing it seems, and she swims closer to him, her eyebrows crinkled together angrily, “You’re such a fucking selfish asshole . I told you we don’t have the time to --”

 

“Hey,” he interrupts her, purposely keeping his voice nonchalant because he knows it frustrates her. “You’re probably used to your own smell by now, but I’m the one walking beside --”

 

Clarke lets out a small aggravated groan before using all her weight to dunk him back underneath the water. He coughs a little as her re-emerges, using a hand to get the water out of his eyes. 

 

She looks so pleased , it was almost worth swallowing half the river. “Not so fun now, huh?”

 

“You wouldn’t know fun if it hit you in the face.”

 

Instead of a retort, she makes a move to dunk him again but he dodges her, grabbing her by the waist from the side. She’s laughing, squirming to get away from him and elbows him in the face in the process.

 

Bellamy groans painfully, grabbing for his nose as he lets go off her. Clarke is immediately prying at his fingers, trying to get him to take them down. “Oh fuck,” she curses, even though she’s still half-laughing, “I’m so sorry -- are you okay?”

 

“No,” he mutters pathetically, and to be fair, it doesn’t hurt that much, but he loves it when she fusses over him, so maybe he lays it on a little thickly. 

 

“Let me take a look, you baby,” Clarke pushes amused, finally getting his hand away from his face. She touches the bridge of his nose gingerly as she studies it, before her eyes flick up, catching his gaze. Her blue eyes are a deep midnight blue, swimming with many a conflicted feelings. She swallows tightly, her hand just hovering in the air now, and Bellamy knows that if he considers what’s good for him he should look away. He can’t, and he has a feeling neither can she. 

 

His pulse rattles quickly as she leans closer, her forehead inches away from his and then stops. He can’t do anything but wait, wants it to be on her terms. Bellamy’s eyes flick down to her lips, his heart threatening to beat out of his chest as he licks his own nervously. She notices, and she closes the last bit of distance between them, her cold forehead against his, one hand steady around his shoulder, the other fisting the chain of his dog tags as if to pull him closer, as if to remind her he isn’t a figment of her imagination like he’s so desperately trying to do.  

 

Their chests move against each other which each heavy breath, clothes sticking to their bodies. She lets out an annoyed huff of air, staring down at his mouth, her warm breath fanning out over his skin. He wants to tease her, smirk and dare her to make the last move if she wants to so badly, but he finds himself wanting it too badly to fuck it up now. He wants her. 

 

“Clarke--” He whispers, rough, but suddenly she breaks the moment, presses a finger to his mouth. His heart stops beating, he’s sure.

 

“Shh,” she says quietly, and his body is on high alert immediately, adrenaline pulsing through his veins. She must notice his panicked face, because her own softens, smiling a little as she points at something behind him. “Look. A deer.”

 

“It has two heads,” he notes as he spots the animal, not too far off from them, drinking from the stream of water, ignoring the way his chest feels tight from all these repressed feelings he doesn’t want to say out loud. He shifts back to look at Clarke. “You know what that means.”

 

She purses her lips, just a little purple from the cold. “I think we just had this exact conversation.”

 

Fuck radiation, he decides. They’re all dying anyway. Might as well enjoy themselves while they still can. Whatever the hell they want, and all. He raises his eyebrows at Clarke. “ Extra meat.”

 

In the heat of the moment, she splashes him with some water, and he shushes her with a badly covered up and not at all that quiet laugh. The animal doesn’t even so much as startle, just continues drinking, although her eyes widen comically at her own wrongdoing, the little color she still had on her face draining from it. He likes her like that, careless and so lost in the moment she forgets herself for a second. Bellamy carefully moves through the water to the a rocky ledge near the boulder so he can hoist himself out and find his rifle, pointedly ignoring whatever it was that just almost happened. 

 

The final tally is a backpack full of elderberries, three small sacks of beechnuts, a few squirrels and a two-headed deer. Clarke tells him it’s probably safe to eat, considering it just suffered from a genetic mutation which happened before birth and not a sudden exposure to radiation like she suspected happened to the butterflies. He doesn’t pay that much attention to her science-like explanation after ‘safe to eat’, already thinking about the multiple ways they can use the meat. It’ll surely last them for another two to three weeks. 

 

The things a day trip is good for.  

 

/.\

 

“Where is she?” Bellamy asks as soon as he jumps out of the rover, storming over towards the medbay. He runs into Jaha, who straightens his shoulders, stepping in front of the entrance with a gravely pained look on his face. He laughs, mirthlessly, anger coursing through his veins. He doesn’t know why he’s so angry, if it’s the smell of burnt flesh still in his nose, or the fact he almost lost her again.

 

“Bell,” Wells tries to stop him, a desperate pleading in his voice, but he’s already pushing past him into the tent. Wells might think he’s about to yell at her, make it worse, and he might be right. Bellamy wants it to be the worst thing that’s ever happened to her, so she learns, so she won’t ever do this again. 

 

The flap of the tent falls back down to the ground with a loud clang of the metal rod on the bottom of it, and his eyes immediately zero in on her, moving to sit up on the table she was laying on. There’s an ugly gash on her forehead, messily cleaned. He curses under his breath, already crossing the distance in a few small strides, reaching for her forehead, “Clarke, where were you --”

 

She cuts him off, swallowing tightly, hands in her lap. She looks so pale. “Is it true?”

 

He stops, his hand dropping back down, heart still hammering in his chest loudly, instead now less fueled by the anger pumping through his body and more with the sympathy pain stinging his chest. She didn’t deserve this .  

 

Bellamy opens his mouth, closes it. Not sure what to say, not sure what to do in a situation like this . He finds her eyes, tilts his head slightly, hoping it conveys how sorry he is that yes , it did happen. 

 

“Oh,” she mumbles, turning her head away, lifting her arms to hug herself. He can see it written all over her face, the self-loathing product of a million and one thoughts running through her head and clouding any rational conclusion. That it wasn’t her fault. 

 

He tries again, softer this time, fixating his gaze on the cut on her forehead, reminding himself he’s not here to comfort her. He’s here on duty, trying to figure out what the hell happened. “Where were you?”

 

Clarke’s head snaps back to look up at him, apologetic, “She was in pain, I just wanted to -- I wanted to check on her. Help her,” she cuts herself off, as if she hates where this sentence is going. She licks her dry lips, shakes her head lightly, “I didn’t know he would -- I didn’t know .”

 

Bellamy takes a deep, steadying breath, the last bit of anger leaving him and being replaced with a sorrow kind of sympathy for her instead. The last thing he wants to is snap at her when the sight of her face breaks his heart in two. He unclenches his fists, watches the blood spread back towards the tips of his fingers absentmindedly as his mind flashes back to barely a few hours ago. 

 

Simple OP, a small settlement of locals about half an hour away. Jasper and Clarke went to trade some food for organic medical supplies with the village healer, a kind man named Nyko who had been taking a chance on them for a while. Finn and Murphy going along was just a safety measure, in case they run into any trouble. A routine run they’ve pulled off many times before now. 

 

Instead, Murphy showed up to the field kitchen not even forty-five minutes after they left, yelling, not making any sense, covered in blood, screaming about how they lost Clarke and Finn went crazy and Jasper is absolutely losing it in the back of the rover. 

 

Jasper stayed behind with Raven and Miller, in case of a retaliation, and not sure exactly what to expect, him, Jaha and Shaw went back to the village. Although, upon arrival, it looked more like a crime scene than the thriving settlement it was before. Bellamy felt the life drain out of him as they assessed the damage in front of them. A bloodbath . These were people they knew, who trusted them. No signs of Clarke or Finn. They split up, went looking for them. 

 

Wells found them, eventually, carrying Clarke in his arms while Finn stumbled after him like a lost duckling, a dazed, empty look in his eyes. She’s fine, she’s just unconscious , Wells reminded him pointedly before he even made it over there, using the rover to bring them back to camp. He and Shaw stayed behind to pick up the pieces. Clarke was safe, and that was all that mattered for now. Whatever the fuck exactly went down, he could figure out later.

 

Bellamy had already started digging the first grave before Shaw soberly reminded him it wasn’t their way. Locals there burned their dead.

 

“I was trying to win her trust, get her to talk to me, prove I wasn’t trying to hurt her. She just told me her name. Madi .” Clarke smiles to herself, but it falters just as quick, tears forming in her eyes, her voice starting to tremble. “And then the gunshots started and -- and she thought we were attacking them.” She sniffs, squints at nothing, like she has to try hard to keep a hold of the memory. “She grabbed something. It’s the last thing I remember. She must’ve knocked me out.”

 

Bellamy grits his teeth, hands on his hips. He’s talked to most of those locals, laughed with them, shared fruit with them as they told him ancient myths, gifted them precious furs they had no use for anyway as he told them about roman mythology in return. They listened, asked questions, knew him by name. No real warriors there, just enough off the grid to be untouched by the Eligius army, just elders, children, innocent men and women just trying to survive. “We were attacking them.”

 

“I don’t --” Clarke shakes her head, then pushes herself off the table. She turns on her heels, back towards him as she collects her thoughts, hands in her hair. When she turns back around, a tear is trailing down her cheek as her eyes penetrate his, desperate, “She was dead, when I woke up, Bellamy.” Her voice finally gives out, breaking, “She was just a girl.”

 

“It wasn’t you,” he urges, just as desperate. He takes a step closer, then falters, not knowing how to offer her comfort, what to do or say, how to make it better. He settles on folding his hand over her shoulder, squeezing tightly. She takes this a sign to move in closer, wrapping her arms around his waist and burying her face into his shoulder. 

 

He doesn’t so much hear her sobs as he feels them against him, and he tightens his grip around her back, curling her braid around his fist. He doesn’t know how long they stand there, arms around each other, sharing each other’s grief, before someone storms in through the entrance of the tent loudly.

 

Clarke pulls away quickly, wiping at her eyes and not even bothering to look at who it is. Instinctively, Bellamy knows, but he still turns to face Raven, shaking his head lightly as if he can keep her from saying anything long enough to tell her how sorry he is. 

 

He is my family , she told him a few days ago after a lot of pushing, after she finally admitted she could see how much she was hurting Zeke, the only family I have left . And if anything Bellamy understood that, the fear of losing someone crippling you to the point it makes you a worse person. Accepting you might be settling for something you don’t deserve, but knowing the alternative is much, much scarier. The alternative, being without your one anchor, much more horrific. 

 

It’s why he kept taking half the shit Octavia threw at him. A world without her in it was more terrifying than the thrill of standing up to her could ever be. It’s why Raven didn’t want to risk breaking it off with Finn, scared it would mean she couldn’t have him at all and she’d be the reason this time, the reason she was all alone. 

 

Raven beats him to it, her voice booming through the tent. “Where is he?” 

 

Wells told him to not show his face, stay in his tent until further notice. That’s where Raven goes. Bellamy sends Clarke an apologetic look, then follows her, needing to hear Finn’s side of the story. 

 

Of course Bellamy reports him to one of his superiors as soon as he gets the chance, but they claim that if no one survived, there’ll be no proof of any actual misconduct. No evidence to say it was them -- the Arkadian military -- who slaughtered an entire defenseless village in cold blood. 

 

Not them, Bellamy reminded them, Him. He is a risk to all of us.  

 

Good job burning them , they said, not listening at all, quick thinking.  

 

He almost broke the satellite phone, throwing it again the nearest hard object before sinking down on his cott, face in his hands. He takes another moment before he dares to brave the unsettling crowd outside -- looking to him.

 

Bellamy refuses the plate Shaw holds out for him as he sits down beside him on the log, silently watching the campfire spit angrily as Murphy throws in a thick branch. Earlier, Finn told him Murphy tried to stop him, which surprised him, to be frank. Raven just sat there in silence, listening to his story, but he knew her, he could tell the rage was building inside of her with every word he spoke, threatening to burst. 

 

Miller breaks first. For one who usually enjoys silence, it’s making him awfully fidgety. “What’s going to happen now?”

“Not much,” Bellamy answers, genuinely, and he can see Clarke swallow tightly, gaze fixed on her boots, food on her plate untouched. He clears his throat. “He’s our problem. Not theirs.”

 

They resume their dinner quietly, all deep in thought. They could punish him themselves, torture him, make him pay, even kill him if they wanted to. He’s sure their government wouldn’t bat an eye. But they’re not judge, jury and executioner all wrapped into one, they have to be better than that. They can be better than that. But they can’t trust him ever again either. 

 

Raven is eerily quiet when she finally emerges from his tent, close to midnight. Shaw’s face lights up as he sees her, but she sits down as far away from him as possible. Murphy is the first to dare and ask her what she told him. She inhales sharply through her nose, fixating her gaze onto the crackling fire, her shoulders straight, knuckles white. “That the next time the heli comes for a routine drop-off, he better be on it.”

 

I love her , Finn yelled. It’s not the unhinged look in his eyes that scared Bellamy the most. He love her, of course he does. She’s Clarke. He’d do anything to protect her and he thought they were hurting her. What scared Bellamy the most was the realisation that if he’d been in Finn’s shoes, he might have done the exact same thing. 

 

He’d burn the whole world down for Clarke. It makes this a bad place for them to be.

 

/.\

 

“Hey asshole!” Someone calls his name from across the courtyard, heavy footsteps marching towards his tent. He doesn’t even look up from the book he’s reading on top of his cot, not until something hits him in the chest. 

 

It’s one of his boots. He tosses it down on the floor, looking up at Clarke over the edge of his book. The expression on her face is venomous. “You tried to get me discharged?”

 

He rolls his eyes, putting the book down beside him as he stares up at her, stubbornly. “Honorably discharged.”

 

“Fuck you,” she spits, hurling his other boot at him angrily, which he manages to dodge by a hair. It’s not like he did it to screw with her, just for shits and giggles. Phone calls came in through the satellite phone all the time; with orders, or questions, or family members wanting to speak to them. Just figures they have to bring this up now , barely a week after Finn committed a massacre in her name. She might think he’s punishing her for that, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. He requested it ages ago, after she ran into the field like a lunatic, wanting to save Wells. Although he still stands by it completely. She should go home. 

 

He sits up, quick and rough, shoving his book further aside as he glares up at her. “It’s for your own safety.”

 

Her eyes are blazing fire as Clarke opens her mouth, then clamps it shut, turning on her heels as tears back out of his tent and walks. And keeps walking. 

 

“Shit,” he mutters, struggling to put his boots on quickly before hurrying after her. Bellamy doesn’t mind fighting with her, but he can’t take her not talking to him at all. Can’t take her not even thinking he’s worth a discussion. 

 

He calls her name, but she refuses to turn around, walking straight out of the camp. He tells himself he won’t follow her like a lunatic, but she starts to disappear further from his sight and he’s rushing after her again. 

 

Fine, she wants to be stubborn, he’ll make her listen. “Look around, Clarke, you don’t fit it,” he yells, a few steps behind her, nearly out of breath and giving in, stopping his chase. “We were all one step behind most of society, you were thriving . Helping a few poor people on your days off doesn’t change any of that.” It does, but he needs to hurt her, rip open some old wounds, make them scar. He needs her to go home, before he goes crazy, before he loses her, one way or another. 

 

“We’re disposable to Wallace, to most of our own people back home. They’re happy to sit in their houses, safe away from harm and ignore the fact our planet is dying.” He scoffs, pinpointing some of that old ‘ mad at the world’ hurt he buried deep within and channeling it. “You know what happens if we die? It gets swept under the rug. Or at most, we get a state-funded funeral before we’re swept under the rug. I bet they’ll show your face for months, just plastered everywhere--”

 

She turns, holding up her hands like she’s forcing herself to keep her voice steady and there’s something he sees on her face that makes him swallow the rest of his words. “We’ve had this discussion before and I’m tired of it. You keep hiding behind your stupid excuses, afraid to tell me why you really --”

 

Fine. You want to know the reason why?” He cuts in quickly, closing the distance just a little further with each word. “Because you put us all in danger.” He sees the hurt flicker across her face, thinks good, keeps going, keeps listing every little thing he can think of. She cares about them more than herself, so what better way to make her see than to tell them she might be the reason one of them is injured. “Every time you go out there in the field, everybody is on high alert, scared to dead something might happen to you. You don’t listen, not to orders and not to pleas. You think you’re invincible. You can’t defend yourself out there, you weren’t trained to.”

 

Her jaw is clenched as she shakes her head, a stray of hair falling into her eyes that she quickly brushes away, hand coming down in a fist as her narrowed eyes meet his. “I don’t need you guys to worry about me.”

 

Bellamy takes one more step closer, so close he sees the devastation in her eyes as he counters, “People could die, Clarke! They could die when you’re out there!”

 

He knew she wouldn’t be easy to break, which is why it doesn’t surprise him when she jabs him in the chest with a finger, hatred evident in every word she spits. “Like you’re so much better. You pretend like you are some tough, unattached leader who secretly cares for us but in reality you’re just a selfish ass. The only person you’re looking out for is yourself.”

 

He takes a step back, lets the words wash over him. His worst fear was always her thinking about him the way he thought about himself, every ugly, pathetic thought he’s ever heard, all he feared was that she would share it.

 

“Fuck you, Clarke,” he breathes, the fight knocked right out of him, his hands limp by his sides. “All I’m trying to do is keep you from getting killed over nothing.” He grits his teeth, takes another second to search her face. “Because that’s what this war means. Nothing .”

 

His face seems to ignite something deep within her, face setting into something a lot like determination. A challenge in her eyes, like she’s encouraging him to just say it , “Why do you even care if I die?”

 

There’s a heavy silence, stretching across them, in between the spaces of their bodies, the distance between them and the rest of the camp. It’s near deserted over by the water tanks nowadays, now they’re nearly desolant, and he can only hope no one comes out here to check on them. 

 

It’s stupid, but his eyes zero in on her tan t-shirt, tied together on her side, just enough to show a sliver of soft skin. And it’s a stupid deflective tactic but it’s something, anything that isn’t the truth . He can focus on the rage he feels inside, enraged with himself, with this situation, throw it at her. “That shirt is a dress code violation.”

Clarke scoffs bitterly. “Thought we could do whatever the hell we want around here.”

He swallows, hard, keeping quiet. He doesn’t even want to argue about this, he doesn’t want to argue at all. He wants -- he wants, he wants so much, it’s driving him insane wanting all the time, when growing up he never learned how to, learned never to want anything. Not for himself, not even for others if he could do anything to stop it. And then she came along -- Clarke Griffin, coming to the other side of the world to fight a war she didn’t have to -- and he was no longer doing everything for his sister, or his mother, or Pike, or the corrupt system holding him in place. He found himself, found his own reasons to be here, to do what he does, to get up every day and go to sleep at night. And God, does he want. Want her, want her so badly. 

She strides closer, jutting her chin up at him. “What is it, sergeant Blake? You want me to take it off?” He searches her eyes, still dead silent, not moving an inch, not even when she shoves him, vicious tone to her voice. “You want me to take off my shirt, sir ?”

He nearly breaks, nearly just comes out and says it. “Clarke --”

She tries to shove him again, but he grabs her by the wrists. Her eyes burn into his. “Shut up.”

There’s another beat, before suddenly she’s pushing herself up on her toes and he’s leaning down, their mouths meeting in the middle. His hands slide into her hair, hers desperately clinging onto his shirt at his sides. 

“Say it,” he breathes against her mouth, telling himself that if she can take the leap, maybe he can too. She ignores him, her eyes still closed as she leans back in. He dodges her mouth, runs his thumb over her bruised lips, “Say it.”

Her blue eyes narrow, and she grabs his neck roughly, pulls his mouth back into hers. “I hate you,” she gasps, always so much braver than him, her eyes shining with tears. 

His nostrils flare, and her nails dig into his shoulders painfully enough to pull him back down to earth, and then he’s kissing her again, moving them to press her back against the water tank. His hand folds around her neck and she hisses at the sting of her skull colliding with the metal. Their lips barely touch, sharing the same breath of air, “Say it again.”

Firmer this time, she bites resentfully, “I hate you.” Then reconnects their mouths, hard, pulling on his shirt to give her enough leverage to swap their positions roughly. Pain spreads from his spine to his fingertips from the blow, but he hardly notices when she bites down on his lip meanly, sharp enough to make him taste metal. 

Bellamy’s hands slide up her sides, under her shirt and over her smooth skin before lifting it over her head. Her hair is a frizzy halo around her face as she drops the garment to the ground, kicking it aside as she starts tugging on his shirt. 

He lifts it off his frame easily, tossing it aside before his mouth is back onto hers, knee pointed upwards enough to rub against the seam of her pants, her moans muffled by his kisses. He curls his arm around her waist, pulling on her braid to expose her neck as he makes his way down it, sucking on her pulsepoint, almost delirious with the urge to leave his mark. 

Clarke starts fumbling with his belt, stifling another moan as he sinks his teeth into the junction of her neck and shoulder softly, one large hand coming up to palm her breast. She manages to unfasten his belt, moving on to the button of his pants next. He doesn’t even bother trying to get her bra off, just pulls the cup aside enough for him to take a nipple into his mouth. 

Clarke lets out a stuttered gasp, hands stilling on his zipper as she lets herself enjoy it for a moment, his rough fingers pulling and pinching the sensitive skin of her nipple while he works at the other with his mouth, nipping and sucking until she starts making small squeaky noises of pleasure that make him smirk into her skin. 

Suddenly she reaches down into his pants, palming his dick with her small hand so he can’t do anything but pull away and lean his head back, chest heaving up and down erratically. She cocks a challenging eyebrow, and he leers down at her with half-lidded eyes; at her pretty blue eyes, flushed cheeks and swollen lips. 

Clarke finally frees him from the confines of his pants, already rock-hard in her grip as she leans up to kiss him again, the head of his cock bumping into her lower stomach as she does so. He removes her hand from his boxers, using the leverage of the pull on her wrist to push her back against the storage tank, this time her back facing him.

Bellamy reaches around her to unbutton her pants, shoving them down and pulling aside her panties enough to grant him access. He sinks down on one knee, pressing a sweet kiss to her slit before sliding a finger across her folds, testing out how wet she is. Her legs are practically trembling from anticipation as his finger teases her entrance, moving up to just beneath her clit before moving back down. It’s something, but not enough. 

He dips one finger inside of her experimentally, loving how she clenches down on him immediately, squirming under the tight grip his free hand has on her hip. He adds another just as rises to his feet, sliding his other hand around her stomach and further down, forefinger pressing down on her clit. 

Her body flinches with the first flick of his finger, then relaxes a little as his other hand starts to pump in and out of her with a grueling rhythm. She rocks back against him, leaning her weight on her forearm, panting and gasping and moaning, desperate to chase her release. 

He mouths at her shoulder, noses aside her messy braid, presses a kiss to the back of her neck, and it doesn’t take long for her breath to hitch, her body stiffening under his touch before her first orgasm washes over her in waves, riding it out against his hands. 

Clarke slumps her head back against him, then turns it to the side needily so he can kiss her properly. Hisses into his mouth quietly as he pulls his fingers from her, snaking his hand around her body to squeeze her breast. 

With a frustrated groan she presses her head against her forearm, “Bellamy,” she gasps out, even though she’s still trembling from her earlier orgasm, sinking her teeth into her flesh for a brief second as he pinches her rosy nipple, “Please.

He releases his weight off her enough to turn her around, and as he pulls her panties further down her legs she unclasps her bra, flinging it aside. As soon as he’s back to his full height she pulls him flush against her, breasts pressed against his chest as her fingers snake in between them and wrap around his cock again, barely tugging him a few times before he can’t take it any longer. 

Bellamy presses his mouth to hers, their lips moving together as he grabs the back of one of her knees, lifting it enough for his cock to be able to drag across her centre, slicking it up. She whines into his mouth, fingers digging into his ass to urge him on. 

Finally, at once, he enters her tight canal easily, wet walls stretching and then tightening around him. He pulls back completely, tip of his cock bumping against her clit before he slides back inside her, starting to move in and out of her at a brutal pace. 

She gasps as the head of his cock bumps into her cervix, nails digging into his ass sharply as her forehead falls forward against his shoulder. She presses a kiss against his collarbone, then moves up to his adam’s apple and jaw, before dragging her eyes up to meet his dark, heated gaze. 

One of his hands is still holding up her knee, and it’s not a perfect angle, but it’s good enough, his other arm around her back, holding her up. It means she has to use her own hand to rub her clit in tight circles and she must see the anguish in his eyes, because the corners of her mouth turn up and she kisses him sweetly, before she has to break it off to gasp as he pounds into her harshly. 

They’re not really kissing, just their mouths moving together and their bodies do, sharing the same breath of air as she finally comes apart, orgasm rolling over her in wave after wave of pleasure. A few more strokes and he follows her, leaning his sweaty forehead against her collarbone as he catches her breath. 

She wipes his curls off his forehead as he pulls back after he’s had a moment to collect himself, a fondness in her eyes as she studies his face. A small shy smile plays on her lips as her hand drops to his chest, fingering his the chain round his neck delicately. “I don’t hate you.”

“I know,” he rasps, catching her hand with his and pressing a kiss to her knuckles. “Me neither.”

Once their chests are no longer heaving with heavy breaths and the sweat on their skin has long dried, they find themselves sitting half-dressed in the water tank’s cooler shadow, backs against it. He offered her his shirt to clean herself up a little, figured nobody would bat an eye if he walked back into camp shirtless. 

They’ve sat in comfortable silence for a few moments, processing the day’s events. Bellamy’s hugging his knees to his chest, leaning forward. He presses his cheek against his shoulder as he looks back at her. It’s the small smile on her face that makes him pull through, come out and say it, “I don’t want to be this person anymore. Shooting at people I don’t even know, whose faces I wouldn’t be able to tell from any of yours because they tell me to.” His forehead crinkles, looking down at the sand, wishing it could swallow him whole. “I’m a monster.”

He only looks back up when he feels her thumb smooth out his frown, hand trailing down to cup his chin long enough to make him look at her. “You know, a wise person once told me that who we are and who we need to be to survive are two very different things.”

It’s not fair she’s throwing it back into his face just like that, not here, like this. “What if the survival never ends? Isn’t this just who I am then?”

“Who you are is good ” she presses without hesitating, her hand folding over his heart,as a teasing smile forms on her lips, “I don’t take back calling you an ass, but you’ve saved every single one of us countless of times. You have such a big heart. You’re so compassionate and thoughtful, and yeah , you’re not perfect and you’ve made mistakes, but you always learn from them. You grow, change. You’re not a monster.” He turns his head away from her, letting the words wash over him even as she shakes his shoulder lightly. ”But if you need forgiveness, here it is. I’ll give it to you. I forgive you.”

He shifts his head back to look at her, tilting his head slightly as his eyes soften. “What are we still doing here, Bellamy?” He blinks at Clarke in surprise as she sits up on her bare knees, shirt barely long enough to cover her panties, cupping his cheeks. “Screw it . Screw all of them, Wallace most of all. Let’s just get out of here. Let’s go somewhere nobody knows us. Let’s stop fighting other people’s wars and just be -- be together.”

“Together?” He echoes, sitting up to lean back against the tank so he can take a better look at her, chewing on her lip as he reaches up to take her hands off his face. She’s so gorgeous it hurts, so gorgeous it aches not to touch her. She nods, not a trace of hesitance on her face, splaying her hands across her thighs, and he raises his eyebrows. “You’re serious?”

“I am,” she confirms, holding out her hand so he can slide his fingers in between the spaces between hers. “I love you,” her voice trembles, forcing the corners of her mouth up, and suddenly he’s beaming, so big and bright and unstoppable, his chest too small a cage for his rapidly beating heart. “And that scares the hell out of me, but I’m tired of running. I ran from my grief, and I ran from my mom, but I don’t want to run from this.”

He trusts her, and he depends on her, and he wants her, and he needs her, and he loves her. It’s so ingrained into him by now, and he was too blinded by her habituating every cell of his being to actively be aware of it. And then he was too scared, too scared to admit it out loud, scared that if he did she might not feel the same way, that everything would come crashing down. Everything he build so carefully, everything he never wanted to lose.

“I love you,” he promises, thumb of his free hand moving over her cheek as he does, before he leans in just enough to press his lips against hers. Her fingers curl around his wrist tightly. “I wish I could,” he answers her question finally, thinking of his sister. She still needs him, his nephew still needs him, depends on these paychecks. Of his friends, who he can’t leave behind. 

“Yeah,” she sighs tiredly, scooting closer to rest her cheek against his bicep as she pulls their hands into her lap. “Me too.”

/.\

All hell breaks loose a few weeks later, a turf war erupting on a relatively small but critical piece of land near the south border and the platoon at the helm of it calling all nearby available squads for reinforcement. 

Indra, off the record, tells him that after this all squads -- or what’s left of them -- will be re-assessed, repurposed and possibly split up. They’re encouraged to pack up most of their belongings and any useful supplies, not certain they’ll return to base camp ever again. It’s strange, how such a wasteland of a place has become more like home than the country they’re fighting for. 

They go, because they have no excuse not to. It’s six hours away from basecamp, most of which they spent in silence during the drive there. Somehow they all seem to realize that no matter what happens, it’s the end of something , and at the very least the end of everything they know. 

Their first orders are to get to TonDC from it’s west side, the goal to eventually drive the Eligius soldiers further north. It’s dark when they get there, and one of his superiors by the name of Emerson gives them their final assignment. They’ll be sent out into active combat as a tactical doctrine fireteam to optimize bounding overwatch and fire and movement, and Clarke and Raven will have to stay behind at the front lines, miles away from the city. He has to shittalk his way through it and make up a bunch of physical injuries, but he gets them to hold Jasper back as well. He figured he’ll be safer with them. 

The tension is thick as they all say their goodbyes, not final, but it still feels like that. In the far distance they can hear bombs drop and explode, the ground shaking every time they do, and a constant rain of bullets and overhead airplanes. Much nearer, their allies screaming in pain, their medical personnel hurrying around to do the most with the least supplies.

Bellamy pulls the last heavyweight suitcase from the rover, dropping it at his feet with a loud thud. It contains a sniper rifle, which he’ll need for the additional mission Emerson gave him and Jaha. At one point, once they reach the justice building in the dead centre of the city, they’ll have to split off from the rest of the group to take out McCreary, one of Eligius’ highest ranking officials. Emerson thinks it’ll be a blow to their overall moral, that it might make all of the difference and Bellamy thinks of the mythological water monster Hydra. 

While he fastens his bulletproof vest, he absentmindedly watches Raven lean up on her tiptoes and press her mouth against Zeke’s hidden from view in between two abandoned rovers, and if they weren’t about to be shipped off to most likely get their asses absolutely KIA’d, he’d offer the both of them a beer for finally getting their shit together. Someone tugs on his elbow, and he turns to to look at them. 

It’s Clarke, her hair tied back in a loose ponytail, a mouth-mask limply hanging around her neck, covered in blood. The minute she got here she was put to work. A nervous smile flashes across her face for just a second. “I heard you guys were set to leave soon.”

“Yeah, ETD in five,” he says, offering her what he hopes is a convincing grin as he takes his own gun off the bed of the vehicle, stuffing it into the holster on his thigh just to keep his hands busy. He knows there’s eyes on them, ears too. Despite all being on the same ‘side’, he hardly trusts anyone who’s first name he doesn’t know. Someone might want to go on a powertrip to prove themselves amongst one of their superiors and make an example out of the two of them for breaking fraternization rules. 

Clarke nods, a flash of emotion in her eyes but it disappears just as fast, then quickly takes a step closer, reaching up to hug him. He gets a whiff of peaches before it’s gone again, and his heart squeezes painfully in his chest. It’s much quicker and stiffer then any of their usual embraces, but it’s the best they can do considering the circumstances.

His hands squeeze her waist before she has to pull back completely, her gaze intent on his as they’re back being face to face again. A voice over a megaphone announces their squad number, and he knows it’s time to report for duty. Clarke must recognize the number too, because she swallows thickly, fingers curling into fists. It’s too hard to stand here and not say what he wants to say, not touch her like he wants to, his hands practically shaking from the effort of holding back from her, so he nods one more time, throwing his jacket over his arm before picking up the suitcase and making a move to turn away from her. 

“Bellamy--” she rasps, before he gets too far. He turns back around, expectantly. They never got to have a proper conversation. Not stuffed in the rover with six other people and all their supplies. Not before she was roped into performing an emergency surgery without any anesthetics and only her hands as supplies. He never told her how much he really means it when he says that he loves her, that in many ways, she saved him. That he wants so much more, that he doesn’t want this to be it. 

“Yeah?” He asks, and considering this might be the last chance he gets to hear it, he can’t keep the hopeful tone out of his voice. Her mouth opens, closes, an almost panicked look in her eyes. They’re running out of time. “I swear to God, if this is one of those times you give me another one of your ‘ be better’ pept--”

“No,” she cuts him off, desperate. She makes a move as if she wants to step forward, but stops herself. “I was just going to say --” She presses with a pointed tone, amused little smile on her face, even if it’s tainted with pure agony. Another short silence stretches between them, her eyes saying more than enough. “ Come back .”

Fuck it , he thinks, pulling her a little to the side so the open backdoor of rover mostly (and hopefully) obscures them from view, palming her cheeks as he kisses her like it’s the last time he might get to do it. Clarke’s hands are warm on his pecs, her lips soft beneath his. They pull apart after a moment knowing they don’t have much more time, and he can’t help himself from placing another kiss to the crown of her head as she presses her cheek against his shoulder. Hoping it conveys how badly he wants that, how hard he’ll try no matter what to do so. Come back, to her. 

He tells himself he’s not going to cry, but he isn’t far from it when Miller whistles to get his attention, then nudges his head towards the transport vehicle waiting a couple hundred feet away. 

One lingering squeeze of her fingers around his before he’s walking away, following his fellow squad member to begin their mission. Nobody says a word as the engine roughly coughs to life, hands wrapped tightly around their rifles and their eyes trained ahead. 

It all goes relatively well at first. They’re dropped at a rendezvous point a few blocks away from the justice building, fighting their way to gain more ground easily enough. Miller and Shaw successfully take out a tank, allowing them to move forward through the last maze of streets between them and the city centre. 

They hold down fire in front of the justice building along with Murphy while him and Jaha make their way inside, racing their way up the steps leading to the fifth floor. High enough to have a good enough overview of the street, but not up on the roof, exposed and with targets on their backs. 

Wells gets down on the floor by the window with his spotting scope to find their mark while Bellamy hurries to set up the sniper rifle beside him. Just as Bellamy gets down beside him on his stomach, putting his eye to the milliradian, the building shakes from the impact of a nearby bomb. 

“We don’t have all day,” Bellamy reminds him urgently, wiping some sweat from his forehead. 

“There he is,” Wells mumbles, excited, before he tells him how to adjust his angle and additional calculations relating to distance and atmosphere that he’s making from the top of his head while their building is being fired at. Emerson really sprung them on equipment, considering this mission was so important to him, and Bellamy is lucky he trusts Wells enough to take his chances. They’re not going to get more than one chance, and he can’t live with the fact they all put their lives in danger over a failed attempt.

His finger hovers over the trigger, adjusting his shoulder against the butt of the gun one more time. “Here goes nothing.”

Just as he’s about to crook his finger, half of the building collapses in on them before he even hears bomb explode. For a moment it’s as if he hovers in the air as the ground disappears beneath him, a hard blow to his body, then there’s nothing. 

When he blinks his eyes open, there’s smoke everywhere, fast, the fire close enough for him to feel the heat on the back of his neck. His ears ring as he manages to shove some rubble off him before being able to roll over onto his back. As soon as he does, an agonizing pain spreads from his thigh to his spine and he’s barely able to contain a groan.

He builds up the courage to look down, finding a shard of debris stuck in there. At least it’s not an active bleed. He pushes himself into a seated position, looking for Wells. He knows they have to get out of here fast, before the whole building disintegrates with them along with it. He finds him slumped over, a few feet away. 

Bellamy’s head spins, ears still ringing as he forces himself to crawl over to his teammate. He tries to wake him, but it’s no use. His arm and chest are burnt, the smell of it making him nauseous. He puts his finger to his carotid, and there’s a pulse, but it’s weak. Fuck. 

He rises to his feet, looking for the fastest way out. From the looks of it they’re down to the first floor, so he only has to make it down one stairs to get to the main hall and find the nearest exit. Bellamy figures he can do that. 

His leg is throbbing so painfully he’s starting to see black spots swim across his vision, but he grabs Wells by his harness and drags him along, step by step. He’s halfway down the stairs, panting heavily, his head light, when he hears someone scream their names in the distance. 

It has to be one of them, one of their squad members, looking for them. It keeps him moving until they’re closer, so close. He has to find them. 

Bellamy can just make out Miller’s silhouette before he collapses against a wall, vision turning black. He fades in and out of consciousness for he doesn’t know how long. Just flashes of faces and fragments of conversations. 

“You’ll be okay,” Miller tells him at one point, hovering above him, fingers digging into his shoulder. He feels like he might throw up from the way his whole sight is , and it takes him a moment to realize they’re in a car. 

Next, he doesn’t see her, but he hears her. Something loud clatters to the floor, then, “Where the hell is that damn EVAC?” She sounds almost unhinged. 

“I just got off the radio with Indra,” it’s Raven, he thinks, “She said she tried, but Cage wouldn’t allow it.”

Their fucking general, Cage Wallace, as in the Wallace, yes. That fucker, Bellamy notes, and he even makes a noise that resembles his thoughts he thinks, just before it goes dark again. 

A machine beeps, then it’s gone. Wake up, Bell . His sister’s green eyes. He surges awake only to be hit with a wave of unbearable pain. Someone shushing him. Heaving until he passes out from exhaustion. Cool fingers against his forehead. His head pounding, mouth dry. Someone offers him a sip of water, but he tries to drink from the straw and can’t. 

Finally -- after he doesn’t know how many minutes, hours, days -- he blinks open his eyes slowly, able to take in his surrounding without feeling like he’s dying. There’s a heavy weight on his hand, and when he turns his head to look at it, he immediately sees why. It’s being clutched in between Clarke’s, her forehead leaning on them as she sleeps. 

His mouth is already moving before he can think it through. “Where am I?”

Clarke lifts her head, eyes widening in surprise. Her fingers tighten around his, “Shhh, you’re okay.” His body squirms on it’s own volition, like it’s been on survival mode for too long and needs to be reassured. She seems to understand. “You’re in Arkadia. We’re at my mom’s hospital.”

His body slumps back into the mattress, already out of breath from the small fidgety movements he made seconds earlier. “Where’s Wells?”

Clarke shakes her head, quickly removing on hand from his to wipe away a tear that’s trailed down her cheek. She forces a water smile on her put-on brave face, but she doesn’t need to hide from him, ever. “He was my friend.”

“I know,” he whispers, opening his arms as much as he can, his chest constricting painfully as he thinks of Wells. She climbs into the bed, pressing her wet cheek against his chest. His hand is attached to an IV, but he uses it to brush her hair away from her forehead anyway, pressing his mouth there as he mutters into her skin, “I know.”

There’s a small sniff that breaks his heart and he has to strain to hear her. “I was so scared I lost you, too.”

“After you explicitly told me to come back?” He teases half-heartedly, voice hoarse and an empty hollow feeling in chest, “I wouldn’t dare.”

He feels her mouth move against chest in what he hopes is at least the tiniest semblance of  a smile. It’s quiet for a moment, and then he can’t take it any longer, his eyes racking the ceiling like it’ll give him some answers. “I don’t understand -- how did they even know we were there?”

Clarke stills on top of him. “They didn’t,” she counters, a weird tone to her voice. “It wasn’t Eligius dropping bombs, it was us. Emerson gave the call. He wanted McCreary dead more than anything. More than making sure our own people were safe first.”

Bellamy grits his teeth, pushing his head back into the pillow as he averts his narrowed gaze towards the ceiling. His entire body strains, physically trying to process the words. Not only did he risk his life, to thank him for it they bombed him. Wells died. Acceptable losses. 

He feels her swallow against him while she fingers the chain around her neck absently. One of two, he notes as he peers down at her. His own is missing, he realizes, which must mean she held onto his for him. “Last night, Wallace was assassinated. So was his son.”

Bellamy doesn’t really know how to feel about that. Clarke pushes off him a little, supporting her weight with her elbow. “Marcus Kane was elected to take over this morning.” Her tongue darts out to wet her lips, uncertainty flickering across her eyes. “I’m not convinced he’s much better, but at least he’s willing to sign a peace treaty with Diyoza.”

A peace treaty. No more war. No more reason for all of them to waste away on enemy territory. Bellamy finds it hard to grasp, feels like it’s going to take him a long time to process even long after he leaves this hospital. This is all he knows, surviving is all he knows. He’s not sure what is left of him without it. 

“What now?” He croaks out. Anything is possible, that’s never happened to him before. The air feels fresher than ever before in his life, and suffocating at the same time.

Clarke shrugs, and something about the look on her face makes him believe her words, makes him believe that no matter what, this -- between them -- won’t change. “We’ll figure it out.” 

Just because she has so much faith in it, so much faith in him, he allows himself to relax just a little. He tugs on her wrist, gingerly, nudging for her to come back. He already misses her warmth and he’s tired. “Can we figure it out later?”

She settles her cheek back against his shoulder, then mumbles, “Whenever you’re ready.”

/.\