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...But It Is The Law

Chapter Text

All in all, Murphy wasn't totally surprised with how the whole thing turned out.

 

After all, he had abandoned the camp. He had, in the warped mindset of the Ark, committed treason. Even stripping that away, he was still a criminal.

 

So, upon returning to Camp Jaha after  his time in the lighthouse, he hadn't exactly expected warm hugs and tearful reunions. Hell, he wasn't even fazed when he was arrested on sight and left in a holding cell for nearly a week.

 

What he hadn't expected at all, however, was to find himself handcuffed to a chair in the remains of the council room, listening to Chancellor Griffin and the newly-elected council decide his fate.

 

"We can't just kick him out," the Chancellor, his surprising main defender, argued, "He's a healthy young man, we need them around here."

 

"We can't just let him stay! He's a felon!" Kane responded exasperatedly.

 

"He's a child!" Abby countered angrily.

 

"Yes, a child who's murdered two other children, who abandoned camp, stole supplies, stole weapons, not to mentioned his involvement with the Tondc massacre!"

 

Murphy flinched at that one, not that anybody noticed. Or if they did, they didn't care.

 

"Marcus-"

 

"We can't just have him come back and just be accepted back with open arms, Abby! We need some semblance of order, now more than ever!"

 

Murphy wanted to comment that public arrest and solitary confinement was hardly 'welcoming him back with open arms', but he was reckless, not stupid, so he held his tongue.

 

A council member Murphy didn't recognize, a small woman with blonde hair, piped up at Kane's comment. "Abby's right, Marcus. We need all the people we've got at the moment," Kane tried to protest, but the woman continued, "But Marcus is also right, we can't just let him back with no punishment. We need to show that you have to respect the rules."

 

Kane looked intrigued now. "So what do you propose?"

 

"We can punish him, like we did Chancellor Griffin," another council member suggested, "Make an example of him. Make sure everyone knows the rules are not to be disregarded, in a way that still allows us to keep a hold on a valuable commodity."

 

"Absolutely not!" Abby exclaimed angrily, "We can't publicly punish a child. We can't hold him to the standard you held me. That's cruel."

 

"It's not cruelty, it's following our laws. He commits crimes, he is punished, life goes on," Marcus remarked, turning back to the blonde woman, "What punishment do you suggest?"

 

The blonde woman sat up slightly. "Shock lashes, same as Chancellor Griffin. It's what the Exodus Charter demands."

 

Marcus nodded, but Abby looked furious. "No way in hell."

 

The blonde woman fixed her with a steely gaze. "That's not your call to make, Chancellor." The woman turned to the rest of the Council. "All in favor?"

 

Everyone but Abby raised their hands. "It is decided," Kane stated, "The boy will receive 50 shock lashes, ten for each of his crimes against our people. Any objections?"

 

"This is insane! It's inhumane!" Abby protested, but the rest of the council was silent. Murphy had been in the court of the council twice before, for himself and his father. He knew that at this point, there was nothing she could do. 

 

Murphy could feel the eyes of the whole council on him and Abby, but he tried to school his gaze. It was to no use though, he could feel his hands shaking against his will. 

 

He could almost hear the regret in Kane's voice as he commanded the guards to take Murphy away. He nearly collapsed when his arms were freed, and returned to his cell in the mass of guards.

 

Chapter Text

Murphy wasn't claustrophobic. He couldn't afford to be, considering he had spent most of his life trapped in a prison cell in a flying metal death trap. 

 

But when he was thrown back into the containment cell after his "sentencing", he began to understand where people could get that fear. The cell was small, barely large enough for him to slump against the wall as his breathing became increasingly ragged. This situation was too familiar, the cramped cell, waiting for pain. If he closed his eyes, the air almost smelled less like sanitary metal, more like rich earth and burning flesh...

 

No. No, he couldn't afford to think like that. Couldn't think about the screaming, the smell of the grounder woman's breath as she shouted, they feeling as they cut the soft tissue of his-

 

Murphy's hands, which hadn't stopped shaking since Kane had announced his fifty shock lashes, gripped at his knees, fingernails digging at is skin through the holes in his pants.

 

You're in camp, he chided himself silently. This isn't the grounder camp. This is safer. They won't be as cruel to you.

 

Will they?

 

Murphy shook away his treacherous thoughts. No, he couldn't think like that. The Sky People weren't savages like the grounders. They were civilized. They weren't torturing him, they were punishing him. For felonies. They were being fair, in their own warped ideas of the word.

 

Still, he couldn't help the way his body trembled like a leaf in the wind. He remembered the feeling of the shock batons, occasionally having been prodded by them during his time as a prisoner. Even the light touch was painful. Fifty lashes...

 

He felt tears roll down his face, but he didn't move to wipe them away. Instead, he stared up at the ceiling. 

 

It'll be all right, Johnnie, his father's voice murmured in his head, Be brave, Johnnie. 

 

He didn't feel brave. He felt scared, and claustrophobic, and very, very, alone.

Chapter Text

Murphy woke to a familiar noise: metal screeching on metal. The cell door opening.

 

He wasn't really aware of at what point he had fallen sleep, or how much time had passed since his conviction. Over years of routinely being thrown into solitary when locked up on the Ark, some part of his brain had given him the ability to escape emotional trauma by sleeping for days at a time with no interruption. For all he knew, he could have slept for weeks, or it could have been only a few hours. He didn't know, and he didn't particularly care.

 

He squinted up to see a guard standing in the doorway, with Kane sanding just outside.

 

"It's time," Kane said, and if Murphy was more naive he would think there was some sort of sympathy in his tone, "Get up."

 

Murphy glared up at him blearily. "Eat me."

 

 

Kane's gaze hardened. "Get him up," he ordered the guard, who grabbed Murphy by both shoulders before yanking him to his feet. 

 

"What the hell, man?" Murphy questioned indignantly, instinctively trying to wrestle himself from the man's grip before he was shoved against the wall. He hit his head against the metal, temporarily disorienting him as the guard cuffed him.

 

"Sergeant!" Kane interjected sharply, "A little less force, please."

 

The guard grunted before pulling Murphy away from the wall with, thank god, only the amount of force needed to perform the task. Kane turned around, leading them down the hall. The guard grabbed Murphy's forearm, presumably to force him to follow, but not before he pulled Murphy close and murmured in his ear, "Connor was my son, you goddamn monster."

 

Murphy smirked ruefully as he was pulled into the hallway. Of course it was the father of a kid he'd killed. It was just his luck, right?

 

At the end of the hall, they were greeted by four more guards, who made the all-familiar square around him: two in front, two behind. He almost wanted to point out that it wasn't really necessary, that it wasn't like he was a huge threat to anyone else or like any of them would actually give a shit if he was attacked. But he wasn't stupid. This was routine. He kept his mouth shut.

 

Kane gave him one last look before opening the door. Murphy squinted slightly at the bright natural lighting (it looked like it was late afternoon at the very latest) before Connor's father gave him a sharp shove out of the door, and yanked him along to where people had gathered around a pair of tall, wooden poles.

 

The crowd parted at their approached, clearing a path for Kane, the manhandling guard, and the defense squad to lead Murphy up to the platform the poles where standing on. Now that they were closer, Murphy could see a chain of seat belts hanging from each pole, with a circular space for the wrist of whatever unfortunate soul was to be up there. Murphy almost wanted to laugh out loud. Of course this whole stupid event would involve seat belts. No better way to make this a better reflection of Murphy's shitty life than to add a good old fashioned memory of his most brutal "punishment" into the mix.

 

When he had ascended the steps to the platform, Kane finally turned back to look at him, waving away the four unnecessary guards and leaving Murphy alone with Connor's father. The man turned to him with cold eyes. "Take your shirt off."

 

Murphy blanched. He knew this was coming; shock lashes hardly work with a shirt on. Still, he knew what a scarred mess his torso had become, and wasn't keen on sharing it with the world. 

 

Connor's father showed no sympathy for Murphy's hesitance. "Shirt off, now." he nearly growled, and Murphy slowly shrugged off his jacket before, with a deep sigh, peeling off his shirt.

 

He heard gasps from a few people in the crowd, and a choked noise coming from someone near the front. He looked over for a second and saw Chancellor Griffin with misty eyes. He felt a slight twinge of compassion, though he had no idea why the hell he felt anything for the woman who was about to order his brutal punishment. He schooled his features, and allowed the guard to lead him to poles. The man yanked up his wrists into the makeshift cuffs, and tightened them until they cut into his wrists. He grimaced, but knew better than to say anything. 

 

Chancellor Griffin mounted the platform, and Murphy could've sworn he saw her wipe her eyes a bit. 

 

"Jonathan Murphy," she gestured over at Murphy, "has been charged with abandoning camp, stealing supplies and weapons, involvement in the Tondc massacre, and the murder of two other youth who were sent down on the dropship. For his crimes, he has been sentenced to fifty shock lashes." Her voice caught as she announced his punishment, but she quickly composed herself.

 

"This isn't right!" he heard a female voice call from somewhere in the crowd. He looked up to see a group of delinquent huddled at the front of the crowd, staring up at Abby with something akin to disgust. He was taken aback by the fact that any of them would give a shit, considering he had been nothing other than an antagonist to their little adventure since day one. 

 

"Monroe's right!" Monty, the geeky little hacker that Murphy didn't totally despise spoke up. "You can't do this to him; it's cruel."

 

Murphy imagined he would have felt grateful if it weren't for the immense amount of fear that he was trying to suppress for the massive amounts of pain he was going to be in.

 

"The law is hard, but it is the law," the Chancellor explained, though she seemed unsure of the validity of her words, "This is what the Exodus Charter demands."

 

"Bullshit!" the girl who had originally spoken, Monroe, cried, "You just need to make an example."

 

"That's enough," the Chancellor spoke, before nodding towards Connor's father. Murphy heard the familiar electric whir of the shock baton extending. 

 

Murphy reached up to wrap his hands around the seat belt chain, and squeezed his eyes shut. 

 

You've survived worse, he quietly chided himself, three days of Grounder torture should have nothing on this, right?

 

"Begin," he heard Abby say in a empty voice. His entire body tensed as he waiting for the baton to reach down for the exposed skin of his back.

 

And then he was in pain.

 

All the muscles in his body tensed as they were hit with the electric shock brimming from the charged metal pressed to his back. He could hear the skin sizzle, and gritted his teeth to keep himself from crying out.

 

And then it was over. 

 

He slumped in the bonds, relief flooding his system. 

 

That wasn't so bad, he thought, I've survived worse. I can do this.

 

"Again," Abby ordered. Murphy looked up, and saw something akin to regret in her eyes. 

 

Then the baton came down on him again. If he had thought that the first one had in any way prepared him for the second, he was sorely mistaken. He bucked forward, every muscle in his body trying to escape the source of the pain. Again, he refused to cry out; he refused to give the guard, the Chancellor, and the rest of his enemies the satisfaction. 

 

The relief didn't taste as sweet this time.

 

"Again," Abby demanded, but her voice caught a bit.

 

The baton came down again, and once again Murphy was caught off guard by the pain. He bit on his lip to keep his cries in, and he could feel the blood pool beneath his teeth. His ankles gave way as the baton was removed, the pain too much o allow them to keep him up.

 

"Again."

 

Murphy refused to cry out. He couldn't. He wouldn't do it.

 

"Again."

 

He has survived worse. He had survived worse.

 

"Again."

 

He let out a sob when the baton moved away, relief flooding his system in almost equal measure to his pain.

 

"Again."

 

Murphy could feel the restraints cutting into his wrists as he bucked forward, but not even that could distract him to the agony of his punishment.

 

When the baton was moved away, he noticed the tears running down his cheeks. He looked up at Abby through glassy eyes, silently pleading for an end. He knew that the punishment had barely started, but he didn't know if he could take any more.

 

"Again," Abby demanded, not looking at him, though he could see tears in her eyes as well.

 

This time, as the baton came down, he couldn't help it. He threw back his head, and screamed. 

 

Chapter Text

Bellamy was coming back from a hunting trip when he heard the screams.

 

Kane had sent Bellamy, Miller and Octavia out of camp an hour earlier, with not a lot of explanation or time to prepare before essentially kicking them out to look for "something that will feed as many people as possible".

 

They had gotten lucky, though. About half an hour out, they found a... well, a something. They figured it must be some mutation of a boar, but without the tusks. Whatever it was, it wasn't prepared at all for Octavia's stealth and Miller's excellent sharpshooting. The beast was down in five minutes flat.

 

They were trudging back to camp, with the boar-creature tied to a sturdy pole being carried between Miller and Bellamy with Octavia walking a bit ahead, when they heard the first scream.

 

It was long, and loud, and distinctly male. Bellamy looked quickly to Miller and Octavia, only to see the same fearfully curious look on their faces that Bellamy could feel creeping onto his own. A few seconds later, it was followed by another, louder, scream, and Bellamy could hear agony etched into every part of the sound. Without a second thought, he dropped their winnings and took off at a sprint toward camp, and somewhere in his mind he noted Miller doing the same, while Octavia cursed lightly and pulled out her blade as she swiftly made her way in front of him and began to run at the near-unnatural speed she had acquired. 

 

As he ran, every couple seconds another scream would come, and Bellamy would try to run faster, but his body could only do so much. With every footfall, all he could think about was the endless possibility of what could be happening: a grounder attack. A different station of Mountain Men. Hell, it could even be a giant, mutated panther. 

 

And then the screaming stopped.

 

Bellamy could see the gates to Arkadia not far ahead, but still refused slow his pace. He watched Octavia slip into the gate ahead of him. In some corner of his brain, he registered that it was odd that the gate was open, and that there appeared to be no guards surrounding it. If the warning lights hadn't already been going off, they sure as hell were now. He somehow found it in him to run a little faster and slip in a few seconds after his sister.

 

He almost ran directly into her when he entered. She had skidded to a halt in the entryway, staring at a huge crowd that had formed in the open field space inside of the gates. Bellamy could feel his face mirroring her own once again as he examined the crowd. Around the back edges, he saw looks of some sort of fear, and... disgust? There was a girl puking. He saw several tear-stained faces.

 

Octavia looked back at him, and he nodded curtly at her, pulling out his gun. Before they could do anything, however, he was knocked, face-first into the dirt as Miller ran into his back, his flailing arms taking Octavia down with him. The domino effect would have almost been comical if it weren't for the circumstances.

 

Thankfully, the messiness of their entrance distracted the crowd from whatever spectacle they had been witnessing. Bellamy and Octavia struggled their way out form under Miller, taking off at top speed into the crowd of people with the other boy following as soon as he was back on his feet. Bellamy tried to ignore the people he was pushing out of the way, the looks on their faces...

 

As the trio pushed through the last of the crowd, Bellamy finally looked up, and was confronted with a sight that almost made his blood run cold: a platform. A boy, shirtless, hair falling in his face, a look of pure agony on his face, shoulders shaking in sobs. Behind him stood a guard, shock baton in hand, and Bellamy barely suppressed a shudder at the blood coating the shiny metal.

 

He looked back over to the boy, and did a double-take. The face may have been hard to identify if he hadn't seen the boy's face contorted like this before, seen his shoulder's shaking like this before...

 

Murphy. 

Chapter Text

"What the fuck?"  Bellamy bellowed, too in shock of the scene before him to make a move quite yet. 

 

"Bellamy, Octavia, thank god," he heard a voice, and turned to see a small group of delinquents huddled at the front of the crowd. Harper nearly tripped in her haste to get over to Bellamy.

 

"Bellamy, y-you have to do something!" he heard Monroe exclaim from where she was curled against Monty, his voice wobbling a little, before she looked to someone over Bellamy's shoulder, "Please, Chancellor, he's had enough!"

 

Bellamy whirled around to see Abby, tears staining her own face, wearing an unreadable expression.

 

Then, pulling herself out of whatever peaceful daze she, along with everyone else, had been in since the arrival of the Blakes and Miller, she turned forward and nodded at the guard. "Again."

 

Bellamy turned back forward just in time to see the guard lift up the baton and bring it to rest on Murphy's back.

 

Murphy made a strangled sound, arching forward. It was now that Bellamy noticed the blood dripping from where his wrists were suspended from two seat belt chains, the flesh raw and mangled. Murphy's eyes were squeezed shut, but Bellamy saw the tears streaming out of them.

 

Octavia reacted before Bellamy did, leaping up onto the platform and knocking the guard's arm away from Murphy before Bellamy could even think to move. Murphy sagged forward, and Bellamy noticed the way his ankles rolled, having undergone too much trauma to support his weight. Murphy let out a pathetic little whimper, and the breath he took in looked shaky and unsure, before it was let out in a sob. 

 

Bellamy could feel righteous anger pulsing through his veins. He surged forward after Octavia, putting the gun in the waistband of his jeans before he grabbed the guard by the front of his jacket and slammed him against one of the posts that Murphy was attached to. He tried not to noticed how the boy flinched away from the movement, and instead focused in his rage.

 

"What the hell is the meaning of this?" he inquired angrily, glaring at the guard with an intensity that only he was capable of.

 

The guard jutted his chin out a bit, clearly oblivious to the amount of pain Bellamy was ready to cause him. "We're punishing a criminal," he responded in a reproachful tone, before casting his gaze to Murphy, "If you ask me, we were going easy. The boy deserves to die." And with that, he spit in Murphy's direction. Bellamy didn't miss the way Murphy flinched away, whimpering pathetically again.

 

Bellamy Blake had seen a lot of things. But John Murphy being reduced to a quivering, whimpering mess was one he never wished he would. 

 

If Bellamy had been angry before, now he was furious. He pulled an arm back and punched the guard square in the jaw. The man spluttered a bit, clearly surprised Bellamy was capable of such a thing.

 

But Bellamy wasn't finished. He pulled his arm back again, and again, hitting until the guard was dead weight in his arms and he could feel a stronger pair of arms wrapping around him and pulling him away. 

 

"Easy, son," he heard Marcus Kane's voice in his ear, and he tensed up a bit. Kane took this as a sign that he was done fighting and let him go. Bellamy whirled on him, hoping his glower was enough to show the true force of his rage.

 

"For the love of god, please tell me you're not in on this!" he bellowed at Kane, gesturing vaguely at Murphy, at the bruised and bloodied guard, and at the delinquents, still cowering at the front of the crowd.

 

Kane's face hardened. "This is the law at work, Mr. Blake," he replied simply, "Mr. Murphy has to pay for his crimes against our people."

 

"Like hell he does!" Bellamy roared, "What the hell could he have done to deserve this?"

 

Monty, surprisingly, spoke out at this one, "Nothing he hasn't paid for already!"

 

Kane ignored him. "Jonathan Murphy has been charged with abandoning camp, stealing supplies and weapons, the murder of two other youth on the dropship, and his involvement in the Tondc-"

 

"You're shitting me, right?" Octavia cut Kane off, speaking for the first time since her arrival at Arkadia, "Tell me you aren't punishing him for Tondc." She whirled on Abby, the momentarily-forgotten ringleader of the entire debacle. "Tell me you're not charging him with that."

 

Abby remained silent, but looked momentarily at the ground. 

 

That was all the confirmation the Blakes needed.

 

Bellamy wishes he could commit to perfect memory Abby's expression as Octavia leaped off of the platform and backhanded Abby across her face.

 

"Tondc is not yours to punish him for! That was grounder blood, and they got their penance!" She roared, seething, "Murphy's blood was not demanded because he tried to stop it! Their blood was not on his hands!"

 

"But the abandonment, and the dropship-"

 

Bellamy spoke up now, following his sister off of the platform to stand in front of Abby. "Murphy was seeking revenge for an act committed on the ground, before you all landed. Those times do not fall under your jurisdiction." He turned to Octavia. "Let him down. He's had enough."

 

"That's not up to you to decide," Kane protested, but the pair ignored him, climbing over to where Murphy was still suspended by his wrists. Octavia used her blade to cut him free, and he immediately fell forward to where Bellamy was waiting to catch him. 

 

"Like hell it isn't!" Bellamy retorted,  though much quieter than his previous exclamations as not to startle Murphy and scare him further. He was distinctly aware of the slighter boy shaking in his arms, though whether it was from fear or from the sobs still wracking his body, Bellamy wasn't sure. He tried to pull Murphy closer to him to provide a source of comfort and protection. Murphy flinched, and Bellamy tried not to be offended. Instead, he leaned his head down to Murphy's ear, and asked "Can you walk?"

 

Murphy only sobbed in response. Bellamy tried to place the shaking boy on hi feet, but he immediately cried out in pain and Bellamy wrapped him in his arms as he pitched forward once again.

 

Murphy glanced up at Bellamy fearfully, and Bellamy could see, among other things, embarrassment brewing in his eyes. Bellamy had always known Murphy to be notoriously independent, and he couldn't imagine the feeling of someone like him not even being able to stand on his own.

 

The humiliations, along with the pain and the fear, must have been too much for Murphy's poor brain and body to handle, as he swiftly went limp in Bellamy's arms, passed out. Bellamy put one arm under his knees to lift the boy bridal-style, before turning to face the chancellor. 

 

"He needs medical attention," he stated firmly, and didn't even pause to register her response before stepping off of the platform and towards the Ark. The crowd parted in front of him.

 

"Wait, Mr. Blake-" he could hear Kane protesting, but he was cut off by Harper's voice.

 

"Leave it, Kane. You've done enough damage already," she said, and the delinquents followed Bellamy, their leader, towards the Ark to tend to Murphy who, malicious as he may be, was still one of their own.

Chapter Text

The first time Murphy regained consciousness, as he could register was pain. 

 

His eyes shot open, and he was confronted by a blurry, grey surface. He tried to push himself up, but the movement made his back scream in protest, and spots danced in front of his already-inhibited vision and he was so out of touch, so unable to focus that he couldn't tell if the screams in his head even reached his mouth. 

 

He didn't know when his vision blacked out.

 


 

The second time Murphy woke up, he could feel someone touching him.

 

To most people, this wouldn't be much cause for alarm. But Murphy, of all people, knew how quickly a harmless touch or a quiet caress could turn into a punch, a slap, a seat belt noose...

 

So he was already on edge when the pain set in. 

 

All of his senses were pulled into focus, his eyes shooting open. Everything was still sort of off-kilter, and he saw double reflections of the light as it reflected off the floor. He was lying face-down, with the hands on his back and arms, the epicenter of his pain. He thrashed in an attempt to get the hand off, pulling his arms under him so he could push up, but arched in pain as his back and wrists protested at the movement.

 

His breathing became increasingly ragged, but he gritted his teeth and pretended he didn't feel tears coming as he tried to roll onto his back, but he only succeeded in pressing together skin (was there even any skin there?) that he didn't want touching. His vision escaped him for a moment, and he fell back onto his stomach. He could feel himself begin to sob, but he couldn't focus on it, couldn't focus on anything but his wrist and his back and the feeling of the hands finally moving away...

 

A face hovered in front of him, his eyes, blurred by tears and were unable to comprehend who it could be. He caught dark hair and dark eyes, and some part of his brain knew what that meant but he couldn't quite access it. He could tell the figure was talking to him, but he couldn't hear it over the pounding of the blood in his ears.

 

The next he could tell, the figure was reaching out to touch him, and he flinched instinctively, the hands were withdrawn. The figure looked up at something over Murphy's head, and he felt hands reach up to touch his back. 

 

Murphy cracked. He began to thrash again, his brain somehow pushing his agony out of his mind in the attempt to get the hands off of him. His blood pumped harder in his ears, but he could hear a male voice shouting "Stop touching him!" while a female one called out a larger declaration that he didn't catch all of, but he understood "sedative", "retrain", and "violent". 

 

His doubled, blurry vision allowed him to see bright lights, and people crowded in a corner, and then there was a woman and a syringe and everything was gone again.

 


 

 

When Murphy finally woke up, for real, he didn't really feel much of anything. 

 

He was lying on his back this time. There was a... well, a something on his arm. He had a very minimal idea where he was, or how he had gotten there. He wasn't sure if that made him feel uneasy or safe. He decided on uneasy, and slowly opened his eyes.

 

The room was brightly lit, and he had to blink a couple of times to adjust. His eyelids felt like they were made of lead, and he had a very strong urge to just let them close them and go back to sleep, but it was quickly eclipsed by the need to know where he was.

 

He reached up to rub his eyes to remove any leftover bleariness, only to discover that he couldn't actually move his arms. He looked down only to find that his wrists were covered in a thick layer of gauze, and on top of that were handcuffs.

 

The handcuffs were no big surprise; by now Murphy was very used to being chained up somewhere or another. But the gauze... that was new. His brain quickly put two and two together to figure that the gauze and bright light probably meant he was in the medical wing of the Ark. The question that still befuddling him was exactly what he was doing there. 

 

Sometimes, Murphy's brain liked to shelter him. It could mean letting him sleep for days, or letting his fight or flight instinct overpower his pain, or pushing things that would hurt him into the back of his mind until he was ready to think about them.

 

So, up until that point, Murphy's brain had lulled him into a mental anesthesia where he completely forgot what had happened. But looking at his wrist, the memories came flooding back.

 

He remembered his sentencing. He remembered Connor's father. He remembered the first ten or so lashes. After that, he remembered bits and pieces. He remembered himself crying and screaming and not being able to stand properly. 

 

He squeezed his eyes shut against the memories, as if that would make them go away.

 

He doesn't remember when he fell back asleep. He chooses not to remember a lot of things.

Chapter Text

In the day and a half that Murphy had been in the infirmary, Bellamy had barely budged. 

 

He, along with the other delinquents, had been kicked out of Murphy's room after the episode during treatment. The younger boy had woken in hysterics, screaming and thrashing and trying desperately to avoid being touched. Abby had panicked, shouting for sedatives and restraints, while Bellamy watched in horror as the younger boy had tried to get up, sobbing, only to fall back. Bellamy had rushed over to the boy, caught his eye for a second, and Murphy had seemed a bit calmer until Abby had put hands on him again. 

 

Murphy had flipped out and, in turn, so had Bellamy. He had shouted for everyone to get off of the younger boy, and was forcibly dragged out of the room, but not before he saw Abby inject Murphy with some kind of drug that knocked him out. 

 

No one had been allowed inside since. But none of them had left. They had taken post outside of the metal doors, leaning against the wall and sprawled on the floor, awaiting news.

 

Most of them had fallen asleep, and Bellamy himself had just been dozing off when Jackson, Abby's ever-present second-in-command, emerged from the medical wing. He looked briefly across the sleepy faces of the delinquents before catching Bellamy's eye and gesturing for him to follow him back through the doors.

 

Bellamy didn't hesitate to practically leap to his feet, earning himself a annoyed noise from Octavia, who had dozed off against his shoulder. He took a quick system to blink away his sleepiness and vertigo before crossing over to the doors in three quick strides. 

 

Once inside, his first thought was how much more sterile it smelled. The last time he was in here, it had stunk of blood and burned flesh, but now it smelled like a hospital once again.

 

He quickly shook away the thought, turning his full attention to where Jackson and Abby were standing over Murphy's sleeping form. Bellamy took a quick mental assessment of the boy: They had dressed him in clean clothes, which was a foreign sight to Bellamy. He was lying on his back now, so even without the shirt, Bellamy wouldn't have been able to see any of the wounds or bandaging there. He could, however, see the thick bandaging around both of his wrists, partially hidden where he was handcuffed to the table. He had an IV in one of his hands, and another in his opposite arm.

 

Bellamy couldn't help but think how fragile he looked. He didn't look like the same person who had killed Connor and Myles, or like the bloody, desperate boy who he had kicked the box from under. He looked younger, and peaceful, like someone Bellamy needed to protect.

 

He forced himself to look away, to look back up at Abby and Jackson, who were staring at him with a strange mix of emotions in their eyes. He saw sympathy, though he doubted that was directed towards him. In Abby's eyes, he saw something that looked like respect; in Jackson's eyes, the emotion looked more like disgust.

 

Abby cleared her throat, and Bellamy stood up a bit straighter, giving her all of his focus.

 

"Mr. Murphy is in stable condition," he said in a tone bursting with repressed emotion, "We haven't detected any severe nerve damage in his back or wrists."

 

"Has he woken up?" Bellamy inquired before Abby could continue.

 

She shook her head. "We have a light sedative still coming through the IV in his arm, but we are unaware if he has woken of his own accord yet."

 

Bellamy nodded curtly. "Can the others come in and see him?"

 

Abby exchanged a look with Jackson before shaking her head. "We think it's probably best if minimal people are in the room when he regains consciousness."

 

Abby did have a point. Based on how badly Murphy had freaked out when he was only being touched by two people, being surrounded by them would probably be a nightmare. 

 

He looked down at Murphy again, and something in his chest hurt looking at him. He remembered so clearly the look of deranged fear and agony etched onto the boy's face when he had woken up during the procedure. The pure terror he had seen in the boy's eyes... he wouldn't wish that in anyone.

 

He felt a hand on his shoulder, and looked up to see Abby regarding him with sad eyes. "I'll leave you two alone for a moment," she said in a low voice, before exiting, gesturing for Jackson to follow her.

 

Jackson started to follow her out of the door, before seeming to think better of it for a second and walking over to Bellamy.

 

"We did a full-body examination for our records," he told Bellamy, contempt lacing his tone, "Even without the burns, over 80% of his torso is covered in scar tissue, not to mention his legs and arms." He shook his head reproachfully, scoffing. "You might have fooled Abby and Kane, but I see you all for what you are, a bunch of hypocrites. You get angry for what we did to him, but fail to mention what you let happen to him long before we got here." 

 

And with that, Jackson turned and followed Abby into the hall.

 

Bellamy didn't dare to move, shock at Jackson's words keeping him frozen in place. He wanted to be angry, but all he could think was that Jackson was right.

 

He remembered when Murphy came back to the dropship the first time, covered in blood and carrying a hemorrhagic fever. He remembered how cruel he had been, how clear it was that the boy was in pain and afraid and how he had treated him like dirt. 

 

He remember the hanging, the sound of Murphy's voice around the gag, pleading with him not to do this. He remembered the feeling of the box under his feet as he kicked it away from Murphy's dangling ones. He remembered the sickening sound that Murphy made as his air supply was cut off. He remembers refusing to let him down.

 

Where had his protective spirit been in those times?

 

Slowly, he walked over to where Murphy lay, sitting down on an upturned crate that sat by the head. He looked over at the younger boy, and couldn't help but marvel once again at how different he looked when he was like this, asleep and clean. He looked so much more like the boy Bellamy had landed with, so much less like a tortured criminal. 

 

We did this to him, Bellamy realized. This scared boy, bearing more pain than most people would ever know on his shoulders, only existed because everyone had been cruel, had pushed him away, had placed all the blame for everything on him.

 

This was their fault. And it was up to them to fix it.

Chapter Text

Murphy woke up slowly. His whole body felt like it was tingling a bit, like he had been simultaneously been laying on all of his limbs for too long. Come to think of it, he probably had. He had a sneaking feeling one of the IVs he could still feel poking into his skin held some kind of anesthetic, so he had no real way of knowing how long he'd been out.

 

He briefly considered going back to sleep, but decided against it. As much as he liked the idea of peaceful unconsciousness, he was also a bit on edge about his unknown surroundings and circumstance. He had found, over time, that the more he knew about any situation the better, and the fact that he knew close to nothing about his current predicament was unnerving. 

 

He tried to open his eyes, but it was harder than he anticipated. His eyelids felt as if they had boulders weighing them down (yep, he had definitely been on some anesthetics). He decide to start out slower. He tapped a couple of his fingers, just to make sure that he wasn't on a paralytic drug and he could move. When he was successful, he tried again to open his eyes. They still felt heavy, but less so. He could actually open them.

 

The first thing his eyes registered were harsh, fluorescent lights. He squinted against them, blinking a few times before he could look around himself. 

 

It was then that Murphy became aware of something more alarming than the lights: other people. 

 

The last time he had woken (he had no idea how long ago that was), he had been alone, handcuffed to his hospital bed. But while the latter of the statements was still true, he could count three other people in various states of consciousness in the cramped space with him.

 

Murphy could feel himself slowly curling into himself as he surveyed the "newcomers": against the wall, facing him, was the Chancellor, now in her doctor's uniform, fast asleep, with her head on the shoulders of that other doctor who always seemed to be following her around like some sort of lost puppy (Carson, Murphy thought his name was.) Leaning against the door, looking bored, was a tall, muscular woman Murphy didn't recognize, but her jacket indicated that she was a guard.

 

Typical, he thought, even when passed out, they still think i'm enough of a threat to waste a guard on.

 

The guard evidently noticed his (slight) movements, glancing over his way. She assessed him lazily, before clearing her throat loudly. The sound prompted Carson (maybe it was Jack?) to spring to life, and his sudden moment also woke the Chancellor, like some bizarre chain reaction. Abby looked around the room, surveying the room for danger, before her eyes landed on Murphy.

 

Murphy didn't see malice or cruelty in her eyes, but something about her gaze still made him want to run and hide. His memory of... well, however long ago it was that he was strapped to poles and shocked into hysterics was still slightly hazy after the first couple lashes, but he remembers very clearly watching Abby's eyes through his own tear-filled ones, and watching her command his pain over... and over... and over...

 

"Mr. Murphy, you're awake!" the other doctor proclaimed, as if that wasn't obvious. The both of them hopped to their feet, Abby crossing the room and reaching over toward Murphy.

 

He flinched violently, momentarily forgetting that his hands were cuffed. Despite his assumed anesthetics, he still felt a sharp pain run through both of them, causing him to wince.

 

Abby stopped dead in her tracks, and surprise flashed in her eyes. Her mouth fell open, and Murphy swore that if he had given her a few more seconds there would be tears in her eyes. He felt bad, somewhere deep down. But then he thought of her staring, impassive, at his limp, bloody form as he pleaded for mercy, and all traces of sympathy left him.

 

The other doctor placed a hand on Abby's arm and murmured something into her ear. Abby worried her bottom lip between her teeth, but she nodded curtly and turned to leave. Murphy looked down at his lap, only looking up once he heard the door close behind her, and discovered that she had taken the guard with her, leaving him with the other doctor, who was close enough that Murphy could see the tag on his jacket identifying him as Jackson.

 

Jackson stared at him, calculating, before taking a hesitant step forward. Murphy hated the fact that the man was treating him like glass, hated the fact that he allowed himself to seem weak enough to prompt such treatment. He scoffed a bit, trying not to glare at the doctor. "You can come closer, you know. I don't bite."

 

Jackson nodded, taking quicker steps to his bedside. He reached over to pull the IV from his arm, putting a plastic stopper on the end of the needle part and then dropping it.

 

"Fluids," he explained, "We had you out for a couple of days, so we had to keep you hydrated somehow. You won't need it now that you're awake."

 

Murphy nodded curtly. "And the other one?"

 

"Analgesics," answered Jackson. Murphy's eyebrows furrowed in confusion, and Jackson elaborated, "Painkillers, basically. Like anesthetics, without the unconsciousness." He looked down at his watch, before adding "I'm actually surprised you stayed out as long as you did. We switched out the actual anesthetics for those a couple days ago."

 

Murphy nodded mindlessly, well aware of his body's sleep-through-trauma mechanism, as he watched Jackson pull a key ring from his pocket, searching until he fund the smallest one. He paused, looking from the key, to Murphy, and back.

 

"Look, I'm not really supposed to uncuff you, because you're still technically a prisoner, but I have a feeling that the cuffs aren't really doing a lot other than agitating your wrists, so..." Jackson reached down to unlock them, "Just... don't punch anyone? I don't want to put them back on, it's counterproductive."

 

Murphy nodded as Jackson freed his wrists. He flexed them instinctively, then winced as the mangled flesh rubbed against itself. Jackson grimaced, still awkwardly hovering. 

 

"So, how long was I out?" he asked, trying to appear nonchalant. 

 

Jackson was on the verge of responding when the door flew open, and in stepped none other than Bellamy Blake. 

Chapter Text

Of course Bellamy was on guard duty when Murphy woke up.

 

He had spent nearly a week by the boy's bedside, never leaving except to relieve himself and when Abby or Jackson kicked him out to change Murphy's bandages ("to give him some semblance of privacy", though Bellamy suspected it had something to do with the fact that Jackson seemed to trust him with Murphy as far as he could throw him.) He had slept with the crate leaning against the far wall; he had eaten using his knees as a table. Octavia had even brought him a worm copy of The Iliad to keep him occupied.

 

He wasn't entirely sure where his newfound protectiveness over the younger boy had come from, besides the deeply ingrained loyalty that he felt towards every member of the original hundred. He supposed it might have something to do with how helpless he looked, or maybe leftover guilt at how completely he had fucked Murphy over. He wasn't sure, and didn't really care. He just knew he had to watch over Murphy.

 

But on his fifth day spent hovering over the boy, Kane had come in and, in his most above-it-all leader-voice, informed Bellamy that he needed to return to guard detail. Bellamy had merely scoffed at the order, but Kane mentioned that if he failed to comply, then "whatever obstacle that seems to be keeping you from your work would need to be taken out of play". Bellamy was appalled, but decided to come back to work for Murphy's sake. After all, they had taken his off sedatives a couple of days before and he was still unconscious, so the chances of his waking in the four-hour shift while Bellamy was gone were slim.

 

Of course that would be how it happened. 

 


 

If it had been anyone but Murphy, maybe the consequences of Bellamy's dramatic entrance wouldn't have been quite so drastic. But it was Murphy, and Bellamy really should have know better than to burst in suddenly, loudly, and violently.

 

He flinched, jumping back a bit, forgetting that he was on a hospital bed that couldn't have been much more than two and a half feet wide. He had already been perched by the edge of the bed in order to give him a better view when talking to Jackson, and the jolt sent him tumbling to the ground, landing with a thud on his- oh, shit.

 

Murphy's eyes widened as he hit his back, pain exploding across every square inch of-well, there wasn't exactly skin there. He gasped loudly, his eyes tearing up, and, almost as if fate had decided to make his fall as dramatic as possible, one of his IV poles promptly fell on top of him, having been taken down by the force of his fall, while the other seemed to be disconnected completely. 

 

 

Both Bellamy and Jackson rushed forward, more than likely to see if he was okay, but their intention was lost in Murphy's pain-and-PTSD-fueled mind. All it registered was the rush of movement toward him and he instinctively tried to scramble away, but his mangled wrist gave out, leaving him to fall to the floor, instead using his arms to shield his face.

 

After a few moments, he realized that no one was actually trying to hurt him, and he slowly moved his arms from his face to reveal the matching horrified expressions on those of Bellamy and Jackson. The sight almost made him want to cover his eyes again.

 

He took a few shaky breathes, his shoulders moving up and down dramatically before he let out a sharp laugh.

 

"Well," the boy commented, smirking, "this isn't humiliating at all."

 

Jackson broke out into what could have been a smile if it didn't look so pained. If Murphy had thought the tension in the air had been thick before, he had just been exposed to a whole new world of it.

 

Fortunately, he had more important concerns than the tension in the air. "So, is anyone going to help me up or am I going to have to figure out the extent of the injuries myself?"

 

Jackson cursed slightly before looking to Bellamy. "Could you...?"

 

Bellamy nodded, his face solemn. He reached over to Murphy (slowly, carefully) and put his hands under Murphy's armpits, pulling him gently to his feet, and then practically picking him up and carrying him back onto the bed while Jackson set Murphy's IV poles back where they were supposed to be.

 

Once he was situated, Murphy took the first good look at him since he had arrived. The older boy looked tired, and flustered, but there was something burning in his eyes that Murphy couldn't quite identify.

 

Looking at Bellamy made something stir in the back of his brain. He scrunched up his face in concentration, glancing down at his lap. When he looked back up, he caught Bellamy's eye, and everything popped back into place.

 

"You were there."

 

Chapter Text

Like a jigsaw puzzle sliding itself into place, the picture came together in Murphy's mind as he stared up at the eldest Blake with something like shock or possibly reverence. Emotions were hard enough to deal with as it was, but trying to place them while being barraged by the memories of his torture was a nearly impossible feat he simply couldn't handle at the moment.

 

Thankfully, Bellamy seemed to understand his mild bewilderment, and Murphy watched his eyes soften.

 

"As much as I could be, yeah," Bell confirmed, voice wavering. "I'm sorry. I should've been there to stop them before it started."

 

Murphy couldn't quite understand why Bellamy was apologising. The older boy had been out of the camp when they'd dragged Murphy up onto that platform, which Murphy is starting to suspect may have been intentional on the part of the counsel. There was no way for Bell to have known what they would do. It wasn't his fault.

 

Suddenly though, Murphy thought maybe the apology meant more than Bellamy was saying out loud. The look in his brown eyes held a sort of pleading atonement that Murphy couldn't really place the origin of, given the context.

 

Before he could ask, however, Jackson cleared his throat and Murphy instinctually switched his eyes to look at him, body tensing at the unexpected noise.

 

"Dinner is in an hour," Jackson said, and Murphy noted the difference between the way the doctor looked at him and the way he looked at Bellamy. "If you feel up to it, I can have them bring you something. But it's okay if you don't think you can eat yet. Some appetite loss is normal after anesthesia."

 

With that, Jackson spared Bellamy one last withering glance, turned on his heel and left.

 

Bellamy's eyes followed him out the door and held for a second after until his daze broke and he turned back to look at Murphy again. And, now alone with the other boy, the room felt suddenly small and suffocating. But not like how it felt when he was panicking or how it felt when he was bored or uncomfortable. This tightness was new and unfamiliar and it didn't make any sense why Bellamy looking at him like that would make him feel such a way. What the hell had been in those drugs?

 

"You were there," was all he could bring himself to say again, wanting to be wary but feeling strangely warm, at home.

 

Bellamy's brows bunched low over his eyes and he hesitated a second before sinking down onto the edge of the bed.

 

"I shouldn't have had to be," the older boy whispered, appearing rueful and morose. "They shouldn't have done this to you. I shouldn't have left. I should've..." Bellamy huffed out a dour scoff and shook his head. Pushed his fingers into the bridge of his nose and repeated, softer now, "I shouldn't have left."

 

Murphy just stared at him for a long time. Deep in his brain, he felt the urge to reach out and pull the hand away from Bellamy's face, to comfort him somehow, but his logical senses and the pain still thrumming in the back of his mind kept him anchored.

 

Instead, he murmured, "I remember you holding me up." This seemed to get Bell's attention. His head snapped up and his eyes gleamed as Murphy continued, "And your face for a few seconds. You looked...upset. But I remember feeling like things weren't so shitty when I saw you." Bellamy didn't respond, simply held his gaze, looking like he was about to break into tears at any moment. "Thanks," Murphy added quickly.

 

He rarely thanked anyone. Not sincerely, at least. He felt thankful, now, though. Felt safe for some reason. Maybe he was going crazy...er. Crazi er .

 

Bellamy's eyes dropped and his lips twitched into a brief smile before he looked back up and asked, "Want me to eat in here with you?"

 

Murphy just nodded.

Chapter Text

The next time they had to change John's bandages, Bellamy was already getting up to leave before they could give him the boot but Murphy had seemed to panic at the idea of not having him there for it and had asked if Bellamy could stay.

 

A kind of jolt of satisfaction had whipped up the length of Bell's spine when Abby and Jackson hesitantly agreed. Hiding the smile trying to paste itself to his lips, Bellamy had sat down on the crate and leaned himself back against the wall as the docs had helped John sit forward and changed his dressings.

 

That was four days ago, about a day after Murphy had finally woken up, and since then, Bellamy had fallen back into his old routine from when Murphy was still knocked out - he rarely left the room except to work short shifts and make runs to the cafeteria to grab food for both of them.

 

Jackson still wasn't happy about his constant presence, but over time had slowly stopped being so tentative to leave them alone. Bell doubted that the small, quirky doctor was even coming close to starting to trust him, but it was better than nothing.

 

But maybe, too, he'd noticed the way Bell was helping Murphy, the way the younger boy seemed calmer, a little nicer even, when Bell was around, the way he lit up when Bell would bring him a book or board game or something to pass the time together. Bellamy thought it would be hard to miss the shift in mood the moment he entered the room. It was like Murphy was clinging desperately to the remaining thread of his ability to trust the people around him, and Bellamy was the seamster, stitching the boy back into place, pulling him away from the perilous drop into pure madness.

 

That's just how it was for those few days, and nobody questioned it or really even mentioned it. Until today, on the fifth day, when Bellamy came back from the lunch line carrying a tray with two bowls on it, announcing 'Mystery stew!' and Murphy waited for him to settle in, crosslegged, on the end of the bed, where Bell had taken to sitting on the second day, to finally ask Bellamy.

 

"Why are you being so nice to me?" The query sounded all kinds of strange, considering the fact that at this point, they'd basically been living together for the last week, and, at one point when Abby was changing his bandages, Murphy had hissed in pain and grabbed Bellamy's hand and squeezed until it was over. His circulation hadn't returned for at least five minutes after that, hand tingling as it came back to life. But Bellamy had a sneaking suspicion that the tingling sensation wasn't a hundred percent from the lack of blood flow.

 

Bellamy realised he'd been staring wide eyed for a moment longer than necessary when Murphy's lips parted and his gaze flickered away for a second as his cheeks tinted red. The alarm of seeing John Murphy blush was what shook Bellamy out of his trance.

 

"I..." he tried, brows dipping low over his eyes. He had to restrain himself from asking why he wouldn't be nice. The question was stupid and the answer obvious. Of course, Murphy would be confused by this. Their history wasn't exactly untouched by sharp words and violent actions. Finally, Bellamy shook his head and replied honestly, "I know what it's like to feel like no one cares. I don't want that for you. You deserve better than that." He looked down into his brownish soup and mumbled, "I need to do better than that."

 

He'd failed Murphy too often in the past. He didn't want to be forgiven, either. Felt like he didn't deserve to be forgiven. Countless times, he'd both directly and indirectly been involved in the harm that came mercilessly to John, over and over. He had to do better now, be  better.

 

The younger boy's eyes remained fixed on the broth floating around in his bowl, silent for a long time before he muttered, "Yeah, well...they're discharging me tomorrow, so you're off the hook."

 

A boulder dropped then into Bellamy's stomach, sinking his heart down with it. The implication of the words had him fighting off a claw of panic that wound itself around his spine like a vice. Had he overstayed his welcome? Did Murphy change his mind about wanting him around? And why did that thought have his insides crumbling exactly the same way they did when his first girlfriend had broken up with him when he was fifteen?

 

From where he was sitting, Bellamy just barely caught the fleeting look of uncertainty in Murphy's eyes, and he realised he'd jumped to the wrong conclusion. Murphy didn't want him gone. Murphy just couldn't figure out how to ask him to stay, so the younger delinquent deferred to what he knew best - pushing people away before they could get rid of him, hurt him, add on to that pile of festering distrust. And upon that realisation, Bellamy's heart cut the boulder away and instead floated into his throat, and he felt himself momentarily choking on it before another realisation dawned.

 

"Did you say they're discharging you... tomorrow ?"

 

Murphy seemed taken aback by the question - in as much so as John Murphy could seem taken aback - and he replied, "Yes?"

 

Bellamy didn't explain himself before leaving his lunch on the makeshift table and storming out, Murphy calling after him a quizzical, "Goodbye?"

Chapter Text

In the hallway, Jackson was talking in a low voice with someone who had their back turned so Bellamy couldn't tell who it was, but he didn't much care. He caught Jackson's eye, hanging back a few feet, and crossed his arms, certain that he looked completely unimpressed.

 

Jackson eyed him for a second before pressing his lips into a thin line and turning his attention back to the other person, saying something with a strained smile. The person nodded and walked off down another hall, and Jackson looked to Bellamy expectantly.

 

The taller man approached with his eyes on the ground, barring his fury as best he could for the time being.

 

"You're discharging him already?" He interrogated without context. Jackson was a smart guy. He'd be able to figure it out. "You've gotta be fucking kidding me. His entire upper back is still covered in gauze. None of the wounds have even started scarring yet. And you expect him to be just fine out there? What if he gets an infection? What then?"

 

Through his tangent, Jackson just stared at him boredly, and when Bell finally  stopped, the doctor spoke up and asked, "Are you done?" Bellamy bit his tongue to keep from spitting 'no' and beating the guy to a pulp. "It wasn't my decision. It was Abby's. She's head of medicine, so what she says, goes. There's nothing I can do about it." Bellamy released the tension rod in his back and swallowed weakly, and when Jackson saw this, he seemed to relax a bit too, and relented, "Look, between you and me, I would've kept the kid here another week, at least . But once Abby's made up her mind, there's no changing it. I've already tried everything--"

 

"Then try harder," Bell cut him off. He didn't mean for it to slip through his lips, it sort of just came out riding the wave of his bubbling rage. But he didn't back down, setting his jaw and planting his feet.

 

A stormy look passed over Jackson's face and, with dead eyes, he retorted, "Like you did when you left him to starve in the wilderness surrounded by dangerous predators? Or like when you tried to kill him?"

 

Bellamy's mouth dropped open and he felt guilt and fear treading the surface of his brain. Slowly, he hung his head from his shoulders and bit the inside of his cheek to stop himself from blanching at the memories.

 

Then, without raising his head, he quietly stated, "I made my mistakes. And I'll willingly pay for them, come whatever. Believe me when I tell you, I regret every single way I ever hurt him." With some difficulty, he finally brought his head up and gravity pulled the wetness from his eyes onto his cheeks as he looked at Jackson once more, pleadingly. "I don't need or expect you to forgive me, because it's not yours to forgive. But I need you to understand this...the hundred were sent down here knowing nothing. Just a hundred confused, terrified kids, who were trying to survive. Was I supposed to be on that dropship? No. Was I the oldest once we got here, and did I use that to my advantage? Yeah. Maybe I should've known better, but let me make it clear, I was scared too. I did what I thought I had to to survive, and back then maybe I convinced myself it was for all of them, when really it was probably just for me and my sister, but that was then.

 

"Then, every one of us did bad things for the sake of survival. That's done now. None of us are the same because of it, not least of which, me." Bellamy stepped closer and lowered his voice to a begging whisper, "That kid in there saved my life. I stopped doubting him the moment he pulled me up from the cliff. He could've let go, let me die, and he didn't. I can't let that be for nothing. I can't let him take the risk of getting killed by something preventable. So, please...I'm asking you...figure something out. Because I'm not entirely convinced that, if you let him go tomorrow, he won't run off again. And if you can't get another week, then at least until I can get him to promise to stay. Please."

 

Jackson's demeanour had slowly softened through the monologue and Bellamy felt a kick of pride in his penchant for 'stupid inspirational speeches'. The doctor chewed his lip, momentarily glancing down the opposite corridor before huffing out a conceded sigh.

 

"I can try," he whispered back but silenced Bellamy before he could start celebrating, "But I can't guarantee anything. So if you're really in this to protect him, you have to promise you'll be ready to stop him if he tries to leave camp. Got it?"

 

Bellamy nodded frantically, just relieved to have finally swayed Jackson to his favour.

 

"I'll let you know in a few hours if anything changes," said the doctor, finality in his tone. Then he slipped away and Bell heaved a sigh of gratitude before pivoting and hustling back to Murphy's room.

 

When he entered, Murphy was leaned back against the upright bed, fingers laced together on his stomach and eyes closed, and Bellamy stopped the door from slamming, worried it would wake the boy. But the eyes popped open as he drew closer to the bed and met his with some surprise.

 

"I thought you left," John said simply, watching him move.

 

"Did you hear me say goodbye?" offered Bellamy as he dropped back down on the edge of the bed, ignoring his probably cold soup and sitting closer than before, near Murphy's hip.

 

"In my experience, people usually don't when they're rushing to get away from me." It was meant to be a joke, Bellamy knew, but he could hear the truth behind the words and see the way that Murphy's facade faltered.

 

Bell smiled anyway, appeasing the younger boy's need to keep the mask of disinterest on.

 

"Do you want to leave here?" Bellamy asked gingerly, patiently examining Murphy's reaction.

 

"What, the medical wing? Not unless they start handing out some stronger painkillers," Murphy jested.

 

"No, I mean here. Arkadia. Do you want to leave?"

 

Murphy dropped his gaze to his lap and tapped his fingers against the backs of his hands a few times before admitting, "I know what you meant. I just didn't think you'd like my answer so much." Bellamy waited for him to go on, watching Murphy drag his nails across his skin and suddenly understanding just how much of a lost, frightened child Murphy had been this whole time. "Look, I know...I know this place isn't amazing or anything, but they have everything we need here. Food, shelter, water that doesn't look disgusting. A medical wing," his brows bounced up with the comment. "I figure all that's worth a few dozen shock lashes, you know?"

 

He finally met Bellamy's baffled gaze and and gave pause for Bell's thoughts.

 

"You don't think we can do better?" Was all he could manage. When Murphy's only response was shrugging his brows down, Bellamy elaborated, "I can't keep staying here, watching them hurt us. I wanna leave and I want you to come with me."

 

The way John's lips parted below the hope rising in his eyes very nearly knocked Bellamy out cold.

 

"Where would we go?"

 

A question. Not a flat out 'no'. And when Bellamy was met with that kind of response, he always got excited, immediately went into this sort of hyperactive mode of persuasion that he couldn't get out of until he got a 'yes'.

 

"The dropship. For now," he whispered, knowing the elation was shining in his eyes. "Just for a while until we can find something more permanent."

 

Murphy seemed to think for a second. Pursed his lips inward and considered his tap-tap-tapping  fingers.

 

"What about supplies? Food, water?"

 

Bellamy smiled at the fact that Murphy was clearly just stalling now. "We found it all before, when we first got here. Survived for a long time before the Ark came down after us. We can do it again." He was quiet for a moment before adding, "I convinced Jackson to ask Abby for a few more days for you here. Told him it was because I was worried about you running off." Murphy snorted, and Bell relented a small smirk but he said, "I really was." Murphy's expression shifted into something unreadable, but Bell just pushed on, "But mostly I did it to buy us some time. A few days to swipe some initial supplies without suspicion of it being you."

 

Murphy's eyes kind of sparkled at that, but then he asked, "My back?"

 

Bellamy nodded, knew the question was coming.

 

"Medical stuff would be part of the supplies stealing," he confessed. "But even if Jackson can't get Abby to let you stay a while longer, I think we could probably get him to help us." Brows lowered over Murphy's incredulous eyes and Bellamy stifled a grin. "He might not be my biggest fan, but he likes you. Been trying to protect you from me. Might take a little bit of charming him into it, but I think he'd be willing to hand over the things you need."

 

Murphy seemed caught on something and Bellamy couldn't parse out what it was until the younger boy asked, "Why would he be trying to protect me from you?"

 

Bellamy felt his face fall in tandem with the layer of enthusiasm he'd been blanketed with. Murphy watched this happen and a seed of recognition sparked in his eyes.

 

"Right," Murphy breathed, nodding. "And here, I'd almost forgotten we tried to hang each other."

 

Bell closed his eyes and broke into a smile, managing to halt his laughter in his throat, at the absurd tone of Murphy's words. Nobody but him could ever say something so morbid with such amusement and get away with it.

 

"Yeah, I figure we can avoid that this time around, huh?" Bellamy snickered, and one of Murphy's rare genuine smiles grew on his lips. "What do you say? Come with me?"

 

When Murphy's eyes swept back down to his lap, Bellamy worried for a second that he was still going to say no, even after all of this. Instead, he asked one more question, one that made Bell's heart flutter against his chest for some reason.

 

"Just you and me?"

 

It was quiet and oddly optimistic in stark contrast to his current circumstances. Bellamy tried to find his voice as he processed the words.

 

"Y-yeah," he stammered. "If that's what you want, yeah."

 

"Just until I can figure out how to not freak out when I'm around people."

 

Bellamy nodded some more, understanding the feeling of being a spring loaded hammer about to ram the metaphorical bullet at any moment.

 

"Yeah, of course. Of course."

 

Silence wove itself between them for what could've been seconds or days, before either of them spoke again.

 

"Thank you," the words came, small and gracious, from the shadows of Murphy's teeth.

 

"'Course," Bellamy whispered back.

 

He withheld the awe he felt about the fact that what he really wanted to say was, 'Anything for you.'

Chapter Text

Bellamy was the only person he trusted now, Murphy was certain of that one thing. When the older boy asked him to essentially run away with him, how could he refuse? How could he deny himself the possibility of being able to walk lightly again, to fly through the woods on bare feet and whoop and holler without the threat of being reprimanded?

 

The freedom of that weight lifting was short lived.

 

When Jackson stopped by to change his bandages after dinner, he informed Bellamy and Murphy that Abby had insisted that they needed the room in case of more life-threatening emergencies, and since Murphy was the lowest on the list of their endangered patients, he was the one they had to let go.

 

Murphy spared a disgruntled 'thanks anyway', and locked eyes with Bellamy, who nodded apprehensively and glanced at the door.

 

In conspiratorial voices, they explained their plan and, though Murphy initially got a bit panicked when it seemed like Jackson was going to rat on them instead, he eventually relaxed when the doctor exhaled a frustrated sigh and grumbled, "Fine, but if you two are caught, this is my ass on the line, too, not just yours." He stared them both down with wide eyes, making absolutely sure they understood what a risk they were about to take, then asked, "You just need a first aid kit? And the stuff for his back?"

 

The two boys nodded simultaneously and Jackson twisted his lips with deliberation, arms crossed protectively over his chest, before he sighed again and nodded.

 

"How soon?" Bellamy asked.

 

Murphy didn't think the taller boy even realised how close they were now sitting - practically shoulder to shoulder with Bellamy perched on the edge of the bed and Jackson standing at the end where he'd shifted to as the boys had explained everything, gripping the plastic guard rail. His breath hitched when the thought flashed through his mind that he wished Bell wasn't wearing long sleeves, so he could feel their skin brushing. Silently, Murphy asked himself where the hell that idea came from, and chided himself for being so stupid.

 

"Oh, I'll have it by tomorrow. But I can't get it to you until four a.m. the next morning," Jackson answered. When Murphy exchanged a bemused look with Bellamy, Jackson went on, "Look, don't ask me how I know this, but leaving early Tuesday morning will be your best bet. I'm almost certain they'll be expecting you to make a run for it tomorrow when you get discharged, no matter what shape you're in. But the patrols are thinnest between two a.m. and five a.m.. That combined with the early meeting the counsel is having that morning, means most of the gaurd will be occupied or sleeping. It's the only good chance you'll have for at least a couple weeks."

 

Murphy and Bellamy shared another look, this time a silent agreement, then turned back and nodded again to indicate their understanding.

 

"Alright. Meet me at the gate at four a.m., and don't be late. I won't wait more than a minute," commanded Jackson before getting the boys' final nod of cooperation and promptly leaving.

 

---

 

Bellamy had to leave at nine that night. He was scheduled for patrol until two in the morning, and he didn't want to be late because they would make him work past two if he was. He wanted to make sure he'd be awake and present for Murphy's discharge tomorrow.

 

So, reluctantly, Murphy said goodnight and watched his friend leave. And when he was alone again, his mind finally forced him to ponder the unfamiliar things he'd been feeling for the past few days. Probably because his mind considered it an emergency of sorts.

 

Because John Murphy rarely let himself feel things, much less did he ever think about  those things. He thought it was unusual, actually, that he hadn't had a full mental breakdown about it yet. That he didn't think he'd be having one any time soon.

 

Was it because, as he was quickly gathering, the feelings were similar to ones he'd felt before, just sort of...off-hue? He knew what it was to be attached to someone emotionally, to consider someone special to you...to feel love for someone. He'd loved his dad. He knew that for sure. He didn't remember much of his mom, but he figured he'd probably loved her too, innately. And sometimes he had moments with his old friends where he could've sworn he loved them. But that was...familial, platonic. Wasn't the same thing as what he felt now.

 

It took him a while, as he struggled to get to sleep, for him to figure out what this was. Around midnight, while he was squeezing his eyes shut, willing his body to shut up already with the pain that was still humming like an overhead light in the background, his breath caught in his lungs as he realised just what he was feeling.

 

Not five minutes later, he finally drifted off.

 

Maybe the pain hadn't been the problem.

 

---

 

They woke him at ten the next morning when he failed to wake up by eight, like he usually did. He was groggy but filled with an unexpected energy over the thought of getting out of there. Much as he worried about the logistics of he and Bellamy's plans, he was really getting tired of the thin mattress and the constant hovering of medical staff.

 

Bellamy was standing at the doors of the medical wing when Abby walked Murphy out.

 

She ruefully reminded Bellamy that Murphy was still considered a prisoner, and though he was free to roam the camp for now, that he had to keep an eye on the younger boy. That it was his responsibility as a guard.

 

If only she knew.

 

Murphy wanted to think that she would be one of the first to forgive them for escaping this hellhole. That she might protest the inevitable order for search and retrieval of the two of them. After what he saw during his 'hearing', if it could be called that, he had a feeling she would come to his defence, if it came down to it.

 

They spent the afternoon packing - essentials only. Three changes of clothes; the packaged food, water purifier, and weapons and ammo Bellamy had swiped at the end of his shift last night; sleeping bags and blankets; and a few luxuries, like Bell's favourite book and the towel that Murphy had become obsessively attached to (it wasn't often on the ground that one was able to dry off after a shower with a real, actual towel from space).

 

They remembered hygiene products at the last minute - soap and such - and fortunately, Bellamy's bag still had enough room to stuff what they needed inside. They'd have to carry the med kit separately, but Murphy figured he could live with that.

 

When it came time to change Murphy's dressings again, Bellamy didn't hesitate to offer himself up as help. Thankfully, he knew to be gentle, like the doctors had been, but when Bell's fingers absently rested on Murphy's hip, it sent a rush of electricity through every extremity. He tried his best not to lean into it too much. And when he hissed in pain at the stinging ointment scrubbing his burnt flesh, Bell recoiled, but kept his other hand lightly gripping Murphy's side. The delinquent, yet again, assumed that Bellamy didn't even realise he was doing it. Certainly, there was no way he realised how it affected Murphy.

 

After replacing the gauze on the few remaining wounds that needed it, Murphy thanked him and turned around to watch Bellamy clean up. Once that was done, Bell stopped at the side of Murphy's bed, where the younger boy was sitting cross-legged, as if waiting for something.

 

"Get some sleep, okay? We've got a long day tomorrow," Bellamy eventually smirked and spun around to leave, but just as he was opening the door, Murphy stopped him.

 

"Wait," he didn't actually know what he wanted to say, just knew that his body somehow knew. When Bellamy paused to look at him expectantly, Murphy asked, "Will you stay?" One brow raised high over Bell's questioning gaze. "I've had you around almost twenty-four-seven the last few days and I just...I don't think I'll be able get much sleep without you here."

 

He felt his cheeks burn bright red and intentionally did not meet Bellamy's eyes. But he heard the click of the door and the shuffling of feet as Bell walked back over, and he celebrated inwardly.

 

Bellamy held out his hands and said, "Where do you want me?"

 

Murphy swallowed hard, and still without lifting his head, he scooted back on his bed to offer the space to Bellamy, who seemed a little starstricken at first but was soon calmly removing his shoes.

 

The smaller boy finally raised his face as Bellamy slid onto the bed and laid back, putting his arms up behind his own head as he got comfortable. Murphy watched him with amusement, a wry half-smile forming on his lips.

 

Bell glanced over, saw the look on his face, and demanded, "What?"

 

"I forgot how good you are at making yourself at home," Murphy chuckled lightly but let himself get situated.

 

Not being in the hospital bed, he momentarily forgot about his injuries and tried laying on his back. Without the painkillers being pumped directly into his bloodstream, the pain wasn't nearly as faint as it had been, and he inhaled sharply, instinctively reaching a hand back to smooth over the burning marks. His movement and noise must have startled Bellamy, because when he turned to lay on his stomach instead, the older boy was watching him with concern.

 

Embarrassed by his own dumbassery for once, he tried to hide his face behind his hair (which he'd finally , blessedly gotten to wash when he'd gotten back to his room earlier and was no longer greasy from being told he wasn't allowed to shower until everything healed but fuck all that shit), and he lowered himself onto his belly.

 

Bellamy considered him for a second, before abruptly sitting up, twisting himself around, and plopping back down onto his frontside. He smiled auspiciously at Murphy and tucked his hands under the pillow.

 

Murphy just snorted and rolled eyes, but internally he was grateful for the other boy's empathy. It made him feel less ridiculous.

 

Bell was already halfway asleep by the time Murphy closed his eyes and tried to push himself into the realm of slumber. But the hospital bed hadn't been the problem after all. He was just uncomfortable on his stomach. He knew why almost instantly. The number of times someone had tried to sneak up on him while he was sleeping that way as a child would probably horrify anybody.

 

He huffed and grunted as he tried to get his body to just fucking relax  but it was really no use. There was no way he was getting much sleep tonight.

 

That's when he felt eyes on him and turned swiftly to see Bellamy observing him softly.

 

Murphy mumbled an apology and ducked his head again. But Bellamy's only response was to offer an achingly gentle smile and squint as he mulled something over.

 

Then he said, "Come here," and turned back over onto his back again.

 

Simple as that. Murphy didn't really know what he meant but did know he would follow this man to the ends of the earth if Bell told him to, so he pushed himself up and crawled himself across the bed. When he reached Bellamy's side, the older boy manhandled him until Murphy was laying on top of him, legs tangled, arms tucked between their chests, and eyes widened with serene shock. His cheek was squished against Bell's chest and he could hear the taller man's heartbeat, the way it stuttered a bit, probably from the minor workout of positioning Murphy.

 

He was just relaxing into it when Bellamy looped his arms around the curve of his lower back and began stroking his thumb over the cotton-covered scars there.

 

Holy shit, what the fucking hell fuck shit dear god. Murphy had never felt so comfortable in his entire life, ribs pressed against ribs, face to hard chest. He examined the smooth skin that wrapped around the satisfying muscle of Bellamy's arm which twitched with his thumb movements.

 

"I used to do this for O," Bellamy murmured, and Murphy's lips parted at the sensation of that baritone voice vibrating through him. "When she was really little, up until she was...four, probably? Old enough to start sleeping on her own." He paused for a moment and the sound of hair shifting against the pillow curled into Murphy's ears. "Before that, though, she would throw a fit if I didn't let her snuggle up on top of me. 'Course I had to let her, because she really would get restless and not be able to get to sleep if I didn't." There was a short, reverent laugh that Murphy soaked in as much of as he could. It sounded so unnaturally bright in such a dark place. "She was such a princess back then. This always calmed her down right away."

 

They both huffed out a laugh at that - she was still a princess, at least to Bellamy. Murphy figured she always would be.

 

"I would sing to her, too, sometimes," Bell said then, even quieter. "Just, old lullabies from before the war. Not very good at it but obviously not terrible if it helped her fall asleep."

 

Murphy hesitated for a second and then said, "Can I hear?"

 

Bellamy full-body winced at that, but there was a strange smile in his voice when he replied, "I guess, yeah."

 

He didn't sing, really, just started humming. It was a lullaby Murphy recognised, and though Bellamy was a little off-tune, voice just a little shaky, it truly was soothing. It was an experience Murphy had never gotten as a toddler, not that he could recall, but usually kids who did get that, didn't turn out like Murphy.

 

Of course it was Bellamy who would first do this for him. It couldn't have been anybody else.

 

When the song ended, Murphy must've been too quiet because the thumb on his back faltered and Bell whispered his name, hair against pillow again as he tried to peek at Murphy's face.

 

"I'm in love with you," the words slipped from his mouth of their own volition, not minding the fact that Murphy had never once said that to anyone before or that he was currently draped over top of Bellamy like a fluttering sheet. They felt weird to say, but right. Like being certain about an answer on a test.

 

When Bellamy didn't respond, Murphy felt the panic begin to creep up on him, starting in his gut and slicing its way up his throat to clamp it shut. Bravely, he inclined head enough to see that Bell's face was frozen in what seemed like pure amazement. His brown eyes were gleaming and his mouth was hanging open and his cheeks were painted pink as the sunrise.

 

They held each other's gaze for an eternity before Bellamy broke and nodded, almost imperceptibly, whispering, "Me too."

 

Though it wasn't the actual words, Murphy knew what he meant. So, contented with that confirmation, he laid his head back down and closed his eyes.

 

He was out cold in seconds.

Chapter Text

Murphy woke to the sensation of Bellamy's wrist watch buzzing against his back. Bell had made sure to set it to vibrate only so they wouldn't wake anyone else. Not that the alarm was too terribly loud in the first place but they couldn't take any chances.

 

Bell groaned beneath him and brought his hand up to stop the alarm. Murphy didn't feel like moving, though, so he didn't. Bellamy, however, was insistent. Always had been as long as Murphy had known him.

 

"'Ey," the older man tapped him, voice still slurred with sleep. "'S time t' geddup." When Murphy grunted like a petulant child, Bellamy snickered and tapped him again. "C'mon, we gott'go. Only got five minutes t' get t'the gate."

 

Murphy huffed but forced himself up and climbed indignantly off the bed to pull on his jacket. Bellamy tiredly trailed behind him, shrugging his guard jacket on and rubbing the sleep from his eyes. When they both had everything they needed, Bellamy smiled drowsily down at him, took him by the hand, and lead him out into the barren hallway.

 

Jackson had been right - it was easy to sneak through the remains of the Ark, then out into the night where the moon was hanging low in the sky, frighteningly magnified by the curvature of the earth. The stars were always so much more stunning from down here. Seemed so much farther away, and for it, so much more mysterious and magical than when Murphy had seen them in space. With the mountains jutting up from the ground in the thick of the lush forests, and everything asleep save for the light breeze and a few restless insects, it seemed like they'd stepped into a surreal oil painting, like one of the ones they'd learned about on the Ark. Monet, he remembered one of them being named. There was another, with a weird name that wasn't capitalised in the middle. What was it? Something like Victor van Goff or whatever.

 

Whatever whatever.

 

God, he was tired.

 

He didn't even realise they had made it to the gate until he was hearing Jackson say, "I'll keep them off your trail as long as I can. Good luck."

 

Then he unlocked the gate and Murphy was being dragged through it. They dove for the tree line, ducking behind a wide bush, and watched silently as Jackson closed and locked the gate, looked around to make sure no one had seen, and then scurried away back to the grounded Ark.

 

They barely had time to smile wildly at each other over their success, before a guard was pacing over to the gate and they had to sink lower to stay hidden. They waited, watched him pull at the gate to check that it was still locked. They must've made a bit of noise but not enough to be alarming, thankfully. The guard clicked on his flashlight and shined it at the deep, dark forest, picking through the threshold to look for anything suspicious, but, not finding anything, he shrugged and put his flashlight away before moving on.

 

The boys waited like that for another few minutes, legs going numb from crouching for so long, but they weren't taking any gambles, not now that they were so close to freedom.

 

When nothing of import happened for a long time, Bellamy silently squeezed Murphy's hand, which Murphy had forgotten was still linked with Bell's, and jerked his head to motion deeper into the woods. Murphy nodded and followed him, both of them running in a crouched position to keep themselves as low to the ground as possible. They ran like that for a little more than half a mile before finally agreeing it was safe to straighten up.

 

Murphy noticed the way Bellamy's head swiveled, how his sharp eyes searched the darkness for threats, how he hadn't let go of Murphy even for a second since they left his room. He was being more cautious than Murphy remembered ever seeing him. To be expected, Murphy figured.

 

Bellamy was, always had been, a natural protector, a leader, a nurture over nature kind of guy. And right now, Murphy was more grateful for that than he'd ever been before.

 

He didn't notice where they were headed until they came to the creek bubbling on the opposite side of the dropship and Bellamy surveyed the surrounding forest for a second before tugging Murphy toward the small waterfall and pulling a curtain of ivy aside to reveal a hidden entrance to the cavern behind the waterfall.

 

They ducked inside and Murphy was stunned by the scene - though no one would be able to see them from the outside, they had a strange, rippling view of the pink and purple gradient of the sunrise and, above that, the fading stars as the water warped the colourful light across the two of them.

 

It made Murphy feel warm, though the mild chill of the night bit at his bare hands.

 

Even as he laid out his sleeping bag, he commented, "I thought we were going to the dropship?"

 

Bellamy replied, "We will. But we have to wait it out. The dropship is the first place outside of camp they're gonna look once they realise we're gone. Once they've cleared it, we'll back track and set up there." Bell knelt with his sleeping bag that he'd unzipped while he was talking and unzipped Murphy's as well, then laid one down on the ground and the other on top as a blanket. "For now, this is where we hunker down. Just for a few days at most."

 

Murphy watched him with an unsurprised compliance - Bellamy was always good at planning ahead, a skill Murphy was often envious of and thankful for, since he, himself, had no impulse control whatsoever. Okay, maybe that was an over-exaggeration, considering he'd managed to only kill two people instead of the many more he'd very much wanted to at the time. That was something, at least. But he had killed people. That wasn't something that people with impulse control did. Though, what could he expect? He'd always been a fucked up kid. There was no fixing the type of damaged he knew he was.

 

"Smart," he concluded, eyes following Bellamy as the older boy put down a blanket as his pillow. He then looked to Murphy expectantly, little smile on his face, and, though Murphy was impulsive, he wasn't stupid. In fact, compared to most of the idiots on the ground, he was a freakin' genius, and not just by his own estimate. He easily put together what Bellamy was thinking, and he said, "The thing about a bed, Bell, is that if someone lays on top of you, you just sink further in. I doubt rockbed is nearly as forgiving."

 

The smile on Bellamy's face widened and he shook with silent laughter, then simply offered his hand in response.

 

Murphy rolled his eyes, but let himself be pulled down into Bellamy's solid form, muttering, "Fine, but if you suffocate, I'm just gonna say I told you so."

 

"Mhm, and then you'll save me from not breathing, because you happen to like having me alive," Bellamy murmured, wrapping his arms like a gift bow around Murphy's waist.

 

"Yeah, whatever, Blake. Bite me."

 

Bellamy chuckled once more, but didn't retaliate.

 

It was quiet for a while as they listened to the sounds of sunrise. Then Bellamy spoke again, softly, like the breeze that weaved through the treetops, "You know, we're going to have to talk at some point."

 

"We're talking right now," Murphy griped, knowing full well that wasn't what Bell had meant.

 

"About us , smartass," Bellamy retorted and Murphy could hear the shackled sigh waiting in the back of Bell's mouth. His brain knew that Murphy was being a prick on purpose, but his body's natural reaction after all this time was to express just how unimpressed it was with his antics.

 

"I know," Murphy whispered anyway, letting his eyes fall closed. "Just don't hold it against me if I hurt your feelings. Never been good at shit like that."

 

The smile was evident in Bellamy's voice when he said, "Yeah, I know."

 

---

 

They woke to the late morning sun filtering through the rushing stream of water that was hiding them away in plain sight. Murphy was happy to just stay like that, warm and sleepy against Bellamy's chest.

 

But, as always, Bellamy had to go and ruin it.

 

There were spitting noises for a second, along with the feeling of Murphy's hair being moved around, and then Bell exclaimed, "What the hell kind of shampoo did you use?! Tastes like bear shit!"

 

"So then stop eating my hair," was all he grumbled back, not moving an inch. "When people say 'bite me', they usually don't mean it literally."

 

"Fuck, is that what we used to get on the Ark? Should we even be putting that on our bodies?" Bellamy ignored his smarmy remarks, though he did scoff. "Surprised we didn't die of toxicity poisoning years before we got here."

 

That made Murphy smirk. Bellamy could be a cynic, too, if he wanted to be.

 

"Hope my shower routine isn't the only thing you planned on having for breakfast," Murphy rolled off Bellamy and into a sitting position so he could stretch and pop his joints. "You always get bitchy when you're hungry."

 

There was a contrite snort from beside him before Bellamy sat up as well, his curly mop of hair sticking up in all directions. Murphy examined the bedhead with amusement as Bellamy yawned, then glared at him.

 

"Nice 'do," Murphy quipped before pushing himself up to crack his back and grab some food. He watched Bellamy ruffle the messy hair from the corner of his eye then stand up and scratch his cheek. He was cute like this - groggy, pile of floppy curls, clothes all rumpled. Murphy could've sworn he was never that adorable before now. "You want an artificial raspberry or artificial strawberry flavoured oat rectangle?"

 

Bellamy gave him a baffled look before seeing the nondescript protein bars in Murphy's hand. The packaging on things from the Ark was always boring light grey with nothing more than a title announcing what it was and an expiration date below.

 

They'd been taught in their fifth year of school about the packaging of products on Earth before the war. He'd seen the pictures and been mesmerised by the bright colours, busy graphics, and endless words printed everywhere they could fit. Some products were 'all natural' or 'vegan'  or 'gluten free' while others were entirely lab-made with chemicals no one could pronounce the names of. Most products would advertise other products from the same 'brand' on the packaging. All the products had a 'brand' and a 'company' and a 'logo' - some sort of bid for the most attention in a society where attention meant profit and profit meant wealth. A useless and insignificant concept now. Sometimes Murphy rolled his eyes at the way humans were, how greed and consumerism had overtaken every corner of their lives, and he would smirk thinking about how that was their eventual downfall. Certain structures could only be maintained for so long before they grew too big for their britches and collapsed on themselves.

 

Like how Murphy's gravitational pull to Bellamy had lead to his inevitable breaking point, to last night's admittance under the safety of darkness.

 

Bellamy, who was sliding the strawberry protein bar out of Murphy's hand with a light brush of fingers against fingers and sending sparks through Murphy's skin.

 

Murphy wondered briefly if that energy prickled through Bellamy, too.

 

"We should keep an eye on the dropship today," Bellamy said through his mouthful of what was considered food as Murphy unwrapped his own bar. "They might search it before sundown. Guard's been really on their game lately." There was a pause as he swallowed and his lips lifted at the corners as he trained his eyes on Murphy. "I almost got caught in the supply room when I was getting this stuff. Had to hide in a tight corner. Can't say I think it was worth it."

 

Murphy restrained a laugh at the face Bell was making at his bland breakfast.

 

"Well, it's not like I have much else to do," Murphy said, and that was that.

Chapter Text

Less than two hours before sunset, their suspicions were confirmed.

 

A troop of five guards, all of whom the two of them recognised as adults who would have no problem taking either of them down, meticulously searched the dropship for any sign of them as Bellamy and Murphy watched from the trees.

 

Bellamy was no good at climbing - had never needed to before - so he'd needed Murphy, an unsurprisingly skilled tree climber, to help him up. They'd then settled in, expecting a long day of nothing, but hoping for the best, and when they finally saw those black uniforms waltzing into the old campsite, they had to hold back their relieved sighs.

 

It took just over ten minutes for them to be absolutely sure the two outlaws weren't at the campsite, though unbeknownst to the guard, they were  watching from just outside of it. The boys stayed there for another half hour after the guard moved on, to make sure they weren't being waited out.

 

Then, with cheerful smiles, they hopped down into the brush and made their way back to the brook, where they gathered their things and waited until nightfall to move themselves into the dropship. Despite being certain the guards hadn't seen them and weren't waiting to trap them, they still weren't willing to take the risk of moving without the cover of night.

 

After eating some very boring dehydrated chicken, they trekked back out into the wilderness and made their way to the dropship. They quietly climbed inside through the giant hole Murphy had blasted in the back in his escape, a memory that Bellamy stops himself from revisiting by helping Murphy hang a sheet of opaque fabric over the gaping mouth. They'd have to find a way to cover it more securely - probably put their carpentry skills to use and build a blockade behind the curtain to keep the weather out but make it look from the outside like it was just another tattered piece of fabric blowing in the wind that whistled against the forgotten monument of their treachery.

 

Using the leftovers of their past life, they curled up in one of the bigger makeshift hammocks, same position they'd slept in the night before (and, frankly, Bellamy thought he didn't ever want to sleep any other way again), and Bellamy finally broke the dream-like silence they'd been sharing for hours.

 

"So, what does this mean?" He asked, not really sure how to word it in a way that allowed him to both tread carefully around John's still-sensitive state, but also allowed them to say what they needed to say.

 

Murphy took a minute to answer, but Bellamy could tell by the way his fingers traced over the older one's chest that Murphy was still awake.

 

"I guess I'm not really sure," said the younger boy. His fingertips drew lines through the fabric of Bellamy's shirt. "I've never really...I don't know how any of this works."

 

Bellamy wasn't shocked by that. Murphy had been thrown in a jail cell before he was even old enough to want to date people. The only freedom he'd had as an adolescent on the Ark was in school, and there he'd been seen as a criminal, a threat. Most people had avoided him, and those who hadn't weren't the type of people anyone with a brain would fall in love with.

 

One thing Bell had never been able to figure out was how Murphy knew who and what he liked, but Bellamy presumed that prison, no matter where it was in the universe, wasn't exactly the most innocent place. Murphy had probably gotten whatever experience he had now from his time in the space box, a minutely sickening thought.

 

"Yeah, that's...sort of something most people figure out on their own," Bellamy exhaled shortly, combing his fingers unconsciously through Murphy's hair. It was an act of comfort he'd often given Octavia when she was a child. O was the only other person besides Jackson who knew they were out here. Thinking about her now, Bellamy felt a swell pride for the girl he'd had to raise even as a child himself. She was so grown up now. He knew she didn't need him anymore, and sometimes that stung, but he was more awestruck than anything by how strong she turned out. Apparently fearlessness is obtained by living in the floor for the first fourteen years of your life. Who'd'a thunk it? "I know this can't be easy for you. New things are scary. I just know if we don't...if we don't talk about it in some way, it's gonna come back to bite us in the ass. And I really don't want that. 'Cause I think, somehow, this is supposed to work."

 

He could feel Murphy's heart pounding like a parade drum, so Bellamy tangled his fingers in Murphy's hair and angled his own head so he could nuzzle his face into the top of Murphy's.

 

"If you want, we can wait until you're healed up to talk about this," Bell mumbled into the nest of hair, shifting his eyelids down. "But we should, at some point. 'Cause I don't know about you, but I wanna be with you. In whatever way I can be."

 

Murphy turned his head then, squishing his face into Bell's chest and tightening his fingers in the fabric there. When he spoke it was muffled, but it flooded Bellamy with relief.

 

"I want that, too," Murphy replied. His head turned again so his words weren't stifled by Bellamy's shirt. "But I think you're gonna have to help me get there. I've always sucked at that whole 'empathy' thing. I'm a quick learner, though. And I probably  won't make fun of you for being a nerd."

 

Bell breathed out a chuckle.

 

"Good thing you're cute," he mused.

 

His smile remained even as he drifted off.

 

---

 

A week passed - a week of building the barricade and settling into a routine - before the first two arrived.

 

Monty and Monroe strolled into the campsite in broad daylight with packs on and faces determined.

 

Bellamy and Murphy locked eyes and shared a moment of silent appraisal before welcoming the other teens to their makeshift home.

 

After that, they kept showing up, some on their own, some in pairs, until the entirety of the remnants of the original hundred were milling around the dropship once more.

 

Bellamy had no idea how they'd found them. Maybe they just intrinsically knew to look here, or maybe there was a siege and Octavia told them to come, but whatever had brought them, Bell was nostalgic. Seeing the few who remained back in this place, working together again. It made his heart feel whole. They'd come full circle. And no one was storming them, arresting them, trying to bring them back to Arkadia or to kill them. This was how they were all meant to be.

 

There was just one problem. Space-wise, it was a tight fit. Unlike last time, only a few of them had tents, so a lot of people had to share a little space, and it was starting to feel cramped.

 

Like magic though, just in time, Octavia showed up one morning with a lopsided grin on her face and two other grounders trailing behind her.

 

"Need somewhere to stay?" She asked knowingly, and Bellamy grinned back and spun her around in a sweeping, happy big brother hug as she giggled, "I'll take that as a yes."

 

Finally, they'd found their home.

Chapter Text

The grounders welcomed them with open arms. Just because they disliked the adults from the Ark didn't mean they had to hate the kids too.

 

They made it clear that the group of runaways would be working alongside the tribe for their keep, which no one protested. It was a fair expectation and none of them were strangers to back-breaking labour.

 

The grounders had food and shelter, and the delinquents had weapons and tech knowledge - it was glaringly obvious how beneficial they would be to each other.

 

When Murphy and Bellamy built their own little hut together, no one batted an eye. It was as if everyone had seen it coming, the two of them together, even before they had. None of them knew that the boys hadn't even so much as kissed yet; they were comfortable for now with the lingering touches and the sharing of the bed.

 

Bellamy noticed a switch in his companion, however, when some of the grounders apologised to him for the behaviour of the faction who'd tortured Murphy and used him as a bio-weapon.

 

It was like some light in his eyes that had been growing in the past weeks just suddenly got snuffed out. It didn't make sense to Bell, because apologies were supposed to make everyone feel better, and things had been so good.

 

In the week following the apology, John became distant and dejected. He began spending most of his time alone, even brushing Bellamy off when the older boy offered his company. Bell wasn't sure how to fix this, and he was starting to panic about it. How was he supposed to reel such a deeply solemn boy back into reality? He'd never had to try before; his natural charm was always enough to get people to smile and give in to being helped.

 

But Murphy wasn't most people. Murphy was...Murphy. The enigmatic, dangerously observant, fiercely loyal kid whose whole image was built of innumerable layers of shrouded trauma and precisely painted masks. There was no road map for Murphy. There was no manual. Typical worked on typical people, which Murphy was undoubtedly not.

 

Bellamy's frustration came to a head one day when he found Murphy at the waterfall they'd slept behind that first night. He was wearing his old clothes from the Ark, along with his new veil of listless silence, watching the water trickle by at his feet. Bell didn't ask before sitting down beside him and quietly waiting for something to change, because now, he was desperate and something had to change somehow, at some point. And maybe the problem was that he was looking for it, trying to force it, when he should be sitting back and letting it come to him.

 

Finally the silence was broken when Murphy whispered, "I'm sorry. For being all weird and shit."

 

Bellamy just pursed his lips out and focused in on the way Murphy's hair fell over his cheek, and from this angle he looked all of five years old, shamed, looked for once like the wrecked kid he truly was.

 

"You can tell me what's wrong, you know," Bell murmured, brushing the hair out Murphy's face and behind his ear. "That's a thing people do when they trust each other. Talk about the things they're feeling, even if the feelings suck ass." Murphy stayed quiet and Bellamy understood his hesitation, saw the flicker of uncertainty through his grey eyes. He leaned closer, skimming his knuckles back over Murphy's jaw and breathing, "Nothing bad will happen to you for being honest with me, John. Sharing what's going on in your head won't hurt me. That's what I'm here for, right?"

 

Murphy remained stone-faced, but Bell could see the cracks in his charade widening.

 

"I guess I just..." Murphy sighed and lifted his eyes to the bright blue sky above them. It tried frightfully to polish his steel coloured irises. "When those grounders apologised for what happened to me, all of it just came...came rushing back. And I c--I couldn't stop it and it just..." he lost steam, petered out as he searched the open air for something to grasp onto, some anchor to save him from floating away. He laughed coldly, a hollow thing that echoed hauntingly in his rattling chest. "I'm so fucking pathetic."

 

They were words Bellamy had heard before, words he'd seen in the jagged edges of Murphy's sarcastic lips and sharp tongue, blanketing his wit in something unreadable and heartbreaking.

 

"Not that it'll make a difference, but I think you're wrong," Bellamy said to the water. "From what I've seen, you're always the last one to break. You're stronger than you should have to be."

 

Murphy shook his head with a defiant smirk, and denied it, "You don't know what you're talking about."

 

"What, now I'm not allowed to think you're strong?"

 

"No, you're not, Bell!" Murphy exploded, whipping his head to stare Bellamy down with gritted teeth. "Because I'm not strong, okay? I'm fucking weak! And I'm selfish and the worst part is that I don't even fucking care!"

 

There were tears streaking his cheeks now, and Bellamy was rendered speechless by the outburst. Sure, he'd seen Murphy angry before, knew exactly just how disastrously insidious he could be, but he'd never once seen Murphy cry and he'd especially never heard Murphy shout like this, in anger. His rage was always icy and calculating, rippling just below the surface and coming out in sporadic instances of expressionless violence. He'd never yelled before, though, and it was as jarring as the words he was saying.

 

"I'm not strong," Murphy whispered, tucking his knees up against his chest and resting his chin on them. He was wrapped around himself, curled in on himself like an apology. Bellamy could tell he wanted to disappear. Felt the urge to keep that desire away however he could. "I'm not."

 

Bellamy couldn't think of anything else - all he could do was reach up and turn Murphy to face him and slide their lips together. The younger boy made a surprised noise, but didn't push him away, and Bell felt a rush of enamoured victory.

 

John tasted like salty saline and Earth and the last of their minty toothpaste and something very distinctly John-like. Maybe it was fury, or sarcasm, or helplessness, or the real smiles he seemed to reserve only for Bellamy, the ones that made an appearance when he least expected. Whatever it was, Bell didn't want to stop tasting it.

 

He held Murphy in place with a hand on his jaw, thumb just under his chin, and the gentle pressure of his lips. Bellamy knew he was a good kisser, had been told uncountable times by his long line of one-night stands. But something about kissing Murphy made him nervous and flustered, and he forgot how to make his mouth work a few times.

 

When he finally pulled away, just enough to speak, Bell whispered, "You are. Because I am. And I learned it from you."

 

A tiny sound like a soft cry escaped Murphy's throat and he was weaving his fingers into Bellamy's hair and pulling him back in to fit their lips together again.

 

Bellamy didn't even realise they were moving until he felt his back make contact with the ground and the now familiar weight of Murphy on top of him. And when Murphy pressed an open-mouthed kiss to the space below his jaw, Bellamy gasped at the way it sent a shock down his spine.

 

Then the mouth was at his ear and releasing a broken, "Tell me."

 

And if that was what Murphy needed now, that's what Bellamy was going to do.

 

His fingers dug into the strip of exposed skin at the base of Murphy's back where a jumble of scars reached away from his body toward the sky, and Bellamy said, "I think you're strong, Murphy. Because I've seen how stubborn you are. It's one of the things about you that annoys me to no end but makes me believe that you're so much more than you let people see." He planted a kiss where Murphy's ear met the hinge of his jaw and continued, "You make me want to be a better person. For myself and for other people, but mostly for you. Because sometimes I look at you and I think, 'How could someone like me ever do or say anything to deserve someone like that.' Because I wouldn't wish having to be as strong as you are on anyone, and I can only imagine how fucking terrifying it is." Another kiss. "And even though you're irritating and childish and reckless-" he hugged his arms tighter around Murphy's waist and closed his eyes "-so reckless...you're the strongest person I've ever met, John. I wouldn't trade that for the world."

 

Murphy's hands were shaking now, fisted in Bellamy's jacket, and his cheek was damp against Bell's, and he shuddered with lingering sobs and Bellamy could do nothing but hold him like that, in the deep woodland ruins of an ancient and vast planet.

 

That planet sung beneath him.

 

---

 

When they finally got up more than an hour later, Murphy rolling off and sitting up, and Bellamy standing and helping Murphy to his feet, they stood close for a tentative second and kissed again, slow and sure.

 

It was the first time Bell had ever waited for a month after admitting he loved someone to kiss them. Usually, for him, those things happened in the opposite order.

 

But he was okay with this. He was, because it just felt like that was how it was supposed to go with them. Because nothing about them was normal, ever, even before this. Because the two of them had always had an unusual bond, one they didn't really need to say much about to understand. They never needed to say much about anything, really, to understand. Realistically, they could have a whole conversation with just their eyes at this point.

 

Which was exactly how they silently agreed that it was time to go back to the grounder camp, their new home; people were probably wondering where they'd run off to.

 

And how they knew, though neither said it aloud, that nowhere was home quite like when they were with each other.

Chapter Text

Murphy felt an uncharacteristically spirited type of joy when they removed his remaining bandages for the final time and Bellamy told him the last of the wounds were finally bright pink with newly formed scar tissue.

 

He wasn't excited about having more scars but he was damn sure happy to be done with the freakin' bandages. Not that he could complain about having his shirt off and Bellamy's hands on him. Just, he was so over not being able to sleep on his back.

 

At some point, when the gashes were all past the itchy scab stage, it'd stopped being painful. But then he still wasn't allowed to sleep on his back, because he could accidentally rip one open or even get an infection. (Though, he doubted he would, considering how cautious he had no choice but to be because of Bellamy's constant worry about the wounds.)

 

That night, he flopped onto the bed on his stomach, exhausted from his first day on the job - he had the immense satisfaction of getting assigned as a horsekeeper, which was apparently a difficult career to receive, as there were a LOT of horses and not all of them liked just anybody. The head horsekeeper told Murphy that she'd never seen every single one of them so instantaneously fall in love with anybody, ever. All of them had liked him the moment he'd stepped foot in the stables. Maybe they knew he was from space. Or maybe it was just that he'd always been better with animals than people.

 

There hadn't been many animals on the Ark. There were designated infirmaries for chickens and cattle - which were the result of a long ancestry of barn animals that, when the war started, had already been up in space for experimentation regarding space's effects on human food resources - and from a young age, Murphy had always been the top volunteer on school field trips to learn about the tiny makeshift farms. The keepers always had him show the other kids how to properly approach the animals, because they were calm with him. Sometimes he still thought back on that and got annoyed by how many stereotypes there were on the Ark about how sociopaths would easily kill animals.

 

He was living proof that myth was wrong. Not like anyone would believe him, anyway.

 

As much as he truly loved spending time with animals, his body wasn't ready for that much physical activity after such a long span of time spent practically immobile. All he wanted was to pass out, in his underwear, in his bed that he could swear never felt so comfy before now. And he was comfortable - after sleeping with another warm body beside him every night for the past nearly two months, his brain had finally let him sleep on his stomach without needing Bellamy beneath him.

 

What he found out was that sleeping on his stomach was his absolute favourite. There was just something so refreshing about the way it bent his spine and having one side of his head all warm while the other was bristled by cool air and how he could straighten his legs without feeling like an awkward corpse.

 

And, of course, the way Bellamy slept on his back beside Murphy, all splayed out with his arm gift-wrapped around Murphy's shoulders. That was the best part.

 

So on his stomach was how Bell found Murphy when the older man came back from his little meeting with the tribe's heda - Bell had quickly been ushered on to the court as the official ambassador for what the grounders now called 'YonSkaiKru', loosely translated to 'Young Sky Crew', in reference to the delinquents. The grounders had figured that it wouldn't hurt to have someone around who represented the interests of their refugees.

 

Before the door was even fully closed, Murphy felt the dip of the bed as Bellamy crawled up onto it, then the soft press of lips to his ear, and Bellamy was asking, "How's your back?" as he rested his hand on curve of Murphy's waist.

 

"Mmnnnngh," Murphy groaned in response and didn't open his eyes, knowing full well Bellamy was beaming at him from the way his lips stretched against Murphy's skin.

 

"Crybaby," Bellamy teased, then pushed a kiss into the shell of Murphy's ear and got back up to strip out of that day's clothes.

 

"Whatever you say, Mr. President," muttered Murphy, face still squashed against his pillow. They'd learned about Earth politics in school. In what used to be the United States, there were politicians who'd get elected for anything from town sheriff to president. Murphy was always reminded of that by Bellamy's position on the court. It always made him chuckle a little.

 

"Does that make you First Lady?" Bell griped as he climbed back into bed, now sans clothes, and Murphy finally opened his eyes. Bellamy propped himself up on his elbow, laying on his side to face Murphy, and smirked smugly.

 

"That's Mrs. First Lady to you," Murphy mocked his boyfriend - god, was that what Bellamy was? His effing boyfriend ? - and turned his head to face the other way as Bellamy snorted.

 

"Fuckin' dweeb," Bell said and the bed wriggled as he shifted closer. The abrupt feeling of Bell's finger tracing the scars on his lower back had Murphy tensing up momentarily before relaxing again. He was fine, everything was fine, it was just Bell. He could hear the marvel in the older's voice when he asked, "Do you remember them all? How you got them, I mean."

 

Murphy would never let anyone else touch him like this, wouldn't be able to stand the nauseating feel of strange hands on the scars he hid so carefully from the world. He hadn't so much as looked in a mirror since crashing down on this miserable planet, but he'd especially started avoiding them, along with being shirtless in general, after his experience being tortured by the grounders. He couldn't stand to look at his own body. It made him feel like throwing up.

 

So the idea that Bellamy didn't find him absolutely repulsive was still taking a while to set in.

 

"Some of them," he mumbled, trying to keep his bearings. It was hard enough knowing Bellamy could see them, but the other boy deliberately brushing over each one was maddening and Murphy wasn't sure if it was the good or the bad kind of maddening. Both, probably, knowing his screwed up emotions. "There aren't exactly many occasions when I want  to remember them."

 

Bellamy's finger paused, and Murphy could almost feel  the concerned eyes boring into the back of his head. He didn't say anything else, because there wasn't much else to say about it.

 

Then, Bell was tracing the one on his neck. The one Murphy got from the dropship seat belt cutting into his skin. The memory of air leaving his lungs and not coming back in as he struggled and kicked against gravity, trying desperately to save himself, and then his lungs burning from not being able to breathe and seeing those black spots at the edges of his vision; the memory of being so close to death; made his fist curl into the layer of animal skins beneath him.

 

Sometimes he would remember, and he would get mad at Bellamy all over again, sink back into the solace of isolation, and while Bellamy always understood - so goddamn fucking empathetic - Murphy never missed the visceral hurt that morphed the older man's face into something regretful and a little mortified. It was stupid, to still get mad over it. He knew logically that Bellamy was just as distraught about his past actions and always seemed more than a bit hesitant to touch Murphy's neck.

 

So it came as a surprise when Bell leaned down and placed a soft kiss on that scar, murmuring, "I'm sorry," so quietly it almost sounded like the blankets rustling.

 

"The one on my shoulder, the one that's all crooked and shit," Murphy whispered, not ready to acknowledge the apology ringing in his skull, "I got that from falling down the stairs when I was, like, four or five. I just sorta tripped and my shoulder caught on the edge of the railing. My dad yelled at me for being clumsy." He laughed bitterly at that memory, a much more bearable flavour than the stinging, aching, bile-like tang of being hanged. "I started bumping into stuff just to piss him off."

 

Bellamy's head was a grounding weight between Murphy's shoulders now, and the feathery glide of his finger over the scars was a strange mix of sensations ranging from petrified to ecstatic.

 

"The really wide one by my hip is from when I was hiding in an engine room and impaled myself on a pair of pliers," he added cynically, and Bellamy moved his finger to that one. "Who the fuck gets stabbed by pliers?"

 

Bellamy stayed silent, just dragging his nail lightly across the one Murphy had pointed out. Maybe he was in a trance or something.

 

Whatever, it was starting to feel more nice than frightening, so Murphy continued, "And that one on my side on my ribs, that's where I just barely missed a shank to the lung. This other kid I was in the sky box with, he held a grudge against me because I let him take the fall for that fire we started in the cafeteria kitchen." Murphy let his face go lax as he saw the memory play out before him, hazy and warped from time. In little more than a shadow of his voice, he added, "They floated him for that. Trying to kill me." Suddenly, he was unnervingly aware of how hard his heart was punching against its cage. "I still don't know how I haven't died yet. Seems like it should be me, out of everyone. Considering..."

 

He trailed off, unable to speak his faults into reality, and Bellamy's finger stopped. But his hand replaced it, splaying over the curve of Murphy's ribcage, exhuming sparks of elation over every centimeter of skin that it covered.

 

Bell's pained voice was beside his ear in an instant, pleading, "How can I convince you you're wrong?"

 

Murphy craned his neck to look at Bell, then, and the other boy caught his lips in a ginger kiss. Murphy pushed his brows down as he kissed back, turning his body a bit more so his back was against Bell's chest, and he opened his mouth to Bell's prodding tongue. It was slow and warm, like midnight, like expanding stars, like all the things Murphy craved when he felt himself going numb again. Without breaking  away, he slid his hand over Bellamy's and closed it around the older's wrist, tugging it upward so those fingers were instead trailing over his chest.

 

Wordlessly, Bellamy shifted so Murphy could lay on his back with Bell's hand spread out on his chest between them. When Bell scraped his nails across the scars there, Murphy breathed out and balled his hand in Bell's hair, silently asking for more of that feeling, more of anything Bell had to offer.

 

All down Murphy's torso, Bellamy ran his fingers over and between and through every scar they could find, until they hit the edge of Murphy's underwear, and he gasped at the sudden realisation that he was hard as a rock.

 

Bellamy didn't even seem to notice Murphy's brief lapse in face-sucking, simply switched to kissing across the line of Murphy's jaw, the front of his throat, the dip over his collarbone, any skin his lips could find, while Murphy clawed at that messy head of curls and panted out nonsense.

 

The lips were at his ear again, whispering husky and low, "Show me."

 

And Murphy had long since forgotten what he was even supposed to be thinking about, so he just whimpered and replaced his hand on top of Bell's, then pushed it down, down, until it was sneaking beneath his remaining clothing and wrapping around his length. He let out a frankly pathetic little whine, raising up into the touch, fingers twisted so tightly in Bell's hair, Murphy was vaguely surprised he wasn't ripping it out.

 

He couldn't help it; it'd never been like this for him, had never been languishing or gentle or sweet or, hell, even really fully consensual at times - the space box was not a friendly place and some older teens'd had even fewer moral restraints than himself.

 

But this, this wasn't like those hasty handjobs in the shower, or the painful quickies in the custodial closets, or the sneaky one a.m., beneath-the-sheets, hand-over-mouth rush jobs before the guards came back around.

 

This was euphoric, a high without drugs, pure endorphins and adrenaline and years of self-loathing pouring out onto the pillow he stuffed into his mouth to keep from crying out, and, best of all, it was inexperienced and a little bit sloppy, and God , he knew he'd be thinking about this every damn second of the day from this moment on.

 

It was no help at all that Bellamy was biting lightly at the skin under his ear and murmuring little praiseful whispers, "you're so perfect" and "don't say those things again" and "I'm always so in love with you". And this was all Murphy wanted to experience for the rest of his stupid, goddamn life, 'cause he had no idea it could be like this.

 

With almost no resistance, Murphy rolled them so he was bracketing Bell's hips, grinding down with abandon, and ducked his head to breathe unevenly in Bellamy's ear, trying to find the words to explain what he wanted.

 

Before he could even skim the surface of his now dwindling vocabulary, Bellamy was reaching up, previously occupied hand now freed, and pressing his fingers into Murphy's hips, the firm muscle of his ass, pulling hard and nearly full on guiding the way Murphy arched against him. Bell was gasping now, too, bucking up to match Murphy's pace, and at this point, they were straight up, dirty and unabashed, rutting against each other, heated skin sticking and hands grasping and ohfuckinghelljesuschrist Murphy was about to come just from this.

 

And when Bellamy shakily mumbled, "'S this how you want it?" Murphy couldn't hold back the trembling moan as he seized up, wetness spreading across the front of his underwear, mouth wet and open on the edge of Bellamy's shoulder.

 

"Fuck," Bell grunted, rolling them back over and settling between Murphy's legs, which unquestioningly hooked around the older boy's waist and held him there. The way Bell chased his climax had Murphy twitching with aftershocks, choked off noises leaving his throat. "Fuck," repeated Bell, and Murphy could feel the warmth duplicating in Bell's own pants, could tell by the way he tremoured that he'd reached the same bliss.

 

They laid like that, catching their breath together, limp and brainless. But after a long silence, Bellamy placed a patient kiss on the corner of Murphy's mouth, and the younger remembered his legs were basically locked around Bell's middle. He forced himself to relax his lower half and they slipped from Bell's back down onto the bed. The movement made him flinch a little, but he kept his composure (for the most part) and calmed himself to the sound of Bellamy breathing against the crook of his neck.

 

"Well, that's never happened to me before," Murphy muttered, letting his head sink into his pillow.

 

"Is that good or bad?" Bellamy murmured, lips sliding against Murphy's skin. He nuzzled his face closer against Murphy's neck and untangled his fingers from Murphy's hair.

 

Murphy took a moment to ponder and then replied, "Good, I think. But only because it's you."

 

He felt Bellamy chuckle and the feather of lips on his skin once more as the taller man said, "We should probably take a shower."

 

Murphy tilted his head and quipped, "I'm sorry, did I miss a remodel or something?" Bell pulled back to give him a baffled look and Murphy said, "Unless you've discovered a magical portal, there aren't any showers around here, Count Dorkula."

 

Bellamy laughed again, bright-grinned, full-bellied, sunshiney laughter.

 

"I don't know if you know this," he started, fighting off the remnants of his snickering, "but waterfalls are Earth's built-in showers."

 

Murphy rolled his eyes but smirked with appreciation for the sarcasm.

 

As they cloaked themselves in furs and trudged out to the small waterfall they now frequented, Murphy knew he'd discovered some sort of miraculous glitch in spacetime.

 

Because he knew there was no way he deserved it, but he could accept that he'd finally been granted one good, solid thing in his life. One thing he could trust.

 

That he loved Bellamy Blake with all his heart.

Chapter Text

Ten Years Later

 

Monty and Harper just had their second child. They named her Liakeda, the name of a brave girl in trigedasleng folklore that could be loosely translated to 'Sunshine'.

 

She was born on the same day as the ninth anniversary of Clarke and Lexa's deaths. They went out fighting, together, probably knowing they wouldn't be surviving the battle. It was grounders versus a coop of adults from the Ark who'd dethroned Abby, Marcus, and the rest of the morally decent half of the counsel after the search and desist of Bellamy and Murphy was called off.

 

Over time, the two had learned bits and pieces of the building tension they'd missed following their escape, some from the delinquents who'd joined them right after, some from Octavia, who was always at the forefront of any war as Indra's steadfast second, and some from the survivors of the final siege, people smart enough to run instead of fight, like Jackson and Kane. Abby didn't quite make it out. She gave her life guiding a group of insurgents to the makeshift refugee camp set up by the grounders; lead the gunfire of angry space people away from her charge so they could make a run for it. Her sacrifice wasn't meaningless but the YonSkaiKru and remaining ChilneSkaiKru (named by the grounders for their comparatively peaceful nature) would always be muttering about how reckless she'd gotten after Clarke's death.

 

The war lasted no more than half an Earth year, and in the end, WonKru saw victory over the mutineers of the Ark and Octavia lead the rest of her space allies to becoming full-fledged grounders.

 

After the dust kicked up in the Space-Ground War finally settled down, so did everyone else.

 

Octavia met and formed an official union with a grounder boy, Ilian, whose skin turned caramel in the sun and whose hair was kept in a thick braid on top of his head. They made a beautiful couple, and Bellamy was proud to watch his sister fall in love with a hardworking man who respected her enough to know that she was her own woman. Her third child was due two months from now. She and Harper were attached at the hip, talking nonstop about all that baby stuff new mothers get excited about. Bellamy suspected it had less to do with O wanting to dote on her kids and a lot more to do with the fact that she was out of commission anytime she was pregnant.

 

Raven and Wick were in some strange love triangle with a grounder named Echo, and all of them lived together and could usually be found together in general - if you were looking for any of them, all you'd need to know was the location of one of them, and you'd find all three. It was something nobody thought twice about. Raven spent a lot of time making gadgets and fixing old ones, any piece or part she could scrounge up from the mostly abandoned wreckage of the Ark. Wick got roped into teaching children about space tech, and then into running workshops to show people how to fix basic necessities like prosthetics and walkie talkies. Echo was already a muscled weapons trainer when they'd arrived, and she was good at it - one of the best the grounders had. No one would dare fuck with her or her lovers. Though, if someone did, they would suffer the wrath of not only Echo's threatening build but also Raven's ubiquitously blasé sass. Wick was pretty hopeless when it came to defending himself but he had two tough-as-nails women ready to do that for him.

 

The moment Monroe met Indra's daughter, Gaia, she'd been totally enthralled. They were smitten girlfriends for a long time before they even realised they were. Someone else had to point it out to the two of them and they'd seemed embarrassed, but not entirely surprised. Murphy had made a joke about useless lesbians and gotten smack upside the head from Indra, which, with her, was less of a smack and more of a bruising lesson and a red-faced acknowledgement from the smackee that it wouldn't happen again. (Though, she was gentler with Murphy, most of the grounders having been filled in on everything that went down at Arkadia and the effects it still had on him to this day.)

 

Bellamy and Murphy sort of adopted a kid on accident when its mother, Anya, was killed by the Ice Nation. There was brutal retaliation, and eventually it came out that she'd been knocked up by some guy from Azgeda, Roan, who was a subversive and lecherous prince that had impregnated triple digits of women from other tribes in a plot to bring each of them down at the hands of treason, but was discovered and promptly assassinated. Anya was allegedly working with him but TriKru still held adamant to this day that she was a victim of the larger conspiracy.

 

Whatever she was or wasn't involved in, her newborn had ended up in Bellamy's arms after a long and frustrating debate about what to do with it in the court, and it was ultimately decided that Bellamy would temporarily care for it while they looked for a willing guardian. Murphy had been wary about the situation, having never been that great with kids, but he fell in love with the baby even faster than Bellamy did.

 

In the first months, he could almost always be found cradling the infant, a gentle smile on his face, usually cooing at the tiny bundle or humming off-key to it. In the end, he and Bellamy decided after very little discussion (since there was no one at that point that needed convincing) that they wanted to keep her. She didn't have a name yet, so they chose one; Manuiti. Little Bird.

 

She turned six last month and she was always full of energy, and so much smarter than she should be. Sometimes, she'd say things that would leave her fathers stunned into silence. But she was still a child, at her core. She chased butterflies while Bell and Murphy ate lunch in the wildflower field that the forest opened up to at the very bottom of the mountains. She played silly games with Bellamy before bed and held his hand when she was nervous around new people. She sat in Murphy's lap and giggled while he read to her and she'd tell her own stories using Murphy's fingers as characters. She was brilliant and goofy and charming and empathetic, and a natural born leader, just like her 'Daddy', Bellamy, and 'Papa', Murphy.

 

But what truly made her a natural born leader wasn't the personality she was raised into.

 

It was the blood that ran black through her veins.

 

---

 

Ten More Years Later

 

Manuiti became heda at the age of sixteen. She was the first who had two red-blooded parents, as well as the first whose parents were both from space. She made history that way, but it was never a big deal to her. Her fathers were all she knew and nobody who pointed out how different she was came out of it smiling. She was unfazed by the idea of 'normal' because it'd never applied to her.

 

She took shit from no one, especially about Bellamy and Murphy. Her fathers were her most beloved family, proud men with hair that was starting to grey at the temples and thin lines that spidered out from the corners of their eyes and that framed their lips when they smiled. They were humble and kind and they made the best fresh bread anyone had seen in generations. And they were the first couple that people went to when they needed a sense of home, when they needed to be reminded of what was important.

 

Because WonKru was their family, lived and thrived in Bell and John's hearts. But more importantly they had each other.

 

And when they had each other, they were home.