Her feet had worn a line into the dirt in front of the gate. She was ignoring the aching in her heels, and the pounding of her heart.
He should have been back. He should have been back hours before and he wasn’t. He was still out in the woods and she couldn’t leave, she had patients and she had to lead and she could only imagine the look of fury on his face if she left like she wanted to, if she put herself at risk and left the camp without a leader just for him.
She couldn’t hear anything outside the gate, not the crack of a branch or the rustle of leaves. There was nothing, and she needed there to be something because he should have already been back to camp.
He should have already been back to camp.
He should have been back.
The footsteps were coming from the wrong direction.
They pounded into the dirt behind her, and she stared harder at the gate in an attempt to force the steps to be coming from the woods by pure force of will.
She jumped at the shout. She shot a glance over her shoulder and saw Monty running toward her. When he reached her she had already turned back.
“Clarke,” he said. “You have to get back to the dropship. Harper’s really hurt and Octavia has no idea what to do.”
She felt the gate grow bigger and bigger and she felt like she had shrunk down to the size of an ant.
“She can last five minutes without me,” she said distractedly.
He put his hand on her arm and she knew, she knew she had to go back. But she couldn’t tear her eyes away and her feet felt like they were sunk deep into the dirt.
Monty’s hand was dirty and bloody and she knew he must have been helping Octavia in the make-shift med bay and she felt a wave of shame wash over her.
“Yeah, okay,” she whispered.
It was a hunting trip. That was all. It should only have taken a few hours. He should have been back by nightfall, at the latest.
He shouldn’t have still been out there after four days.
Miller said they split up. It was stupid, he must have known that it would be stupid. Bellamy would have killed her if she had ever suggested splitting up, and as soon as he walked through the gate and the gnawing fear that was burning away at her stomach dissipated, she might just kill him.
She didn’t notice it was Miller who sat on the cot in front of her. She just got to work cleaning up the cuts on his knuckles, dabbing the moonshine onto a rag and wiping his skin.
“Clarke,” he said and her head shot up when she recognized his voice.
“Is he back?”
Miller shook his head.
“I’m busy, Miller,” she cut him off to move on to another patient. “I’ll talk to you later.”
It wasn’t until later, after all the others had left the dropship, that Miller came back. He stood off toward the side while Clarke ignored him, cleaning up and moving cots, and walking back and forth across the dropship without a purpose.
“Clarke, you have to talk to me eventually,” he said softly, catching her arm as she walked by him.
She yanked it out of his grasp and shoved her hand at his chest, knocking him back a step.
“Why would you split up?” She shoved him again. “You never split up. Never. You know why?”
Miller looked up, his eyes red and wide and she felt terrible, but she had felt terrible ever since she had seen one man not two walk back through that gate and she couldn’t stop, the words were falling out of her mouth before she could think of the damage they would do.
“Because when you split up, people go missing. For eight days. Eight days, Miller.”
Miller nodded and backed away, slinking silently out of the drop ship.
She went to the gate two days later, when she knew Miller was on watch. She went to his post, and laid a hand on his shoulder. He flinched under her hand. She saw his eyes were sunken in, he’d probably slept about as much as she had since he’d been back.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I don’t blame you.”
He shrugged out of her touch. “I do. You were right. Never split up.”
“Miller, come on,” she said. She grabbed his shoulders and turned him. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said what I said, it wasn’t fair.”
He glanced over at her. “It’s fine. I know you’re worried. I get it.”
Clarke just nodded and stood with him a while longer.
“You should go get some rest,” he told her a while later. She shook her head.
“I’d rather…” she trailed off. She shook her head and tried again. “It’s easier if I’m here. I’d rather be here.”
Miller cast a worried glance over at her, but let it slide. He slid his gun off his shoulder and handed it to her.
“Take this if you’re staying out here. I’ll go get another.”
She took it and slung it over his shoulder, not taking her eyes away from the expanse of trees in front of her when she heard his footsteps crunch away.
He should have already been back to camp.
It was hours later, the sun had just started to come up when a figure in the woods started making its way toward her.
It was tall and broad, and dark. Covered in mud and cuts and bruises but she lowered her gun because it was him and he was back and he came back and he was alive.
She sighed in relief just before he made it over to her. When he did, she saw that something was off. His eyebrows were knitted together in pain, and his hand was clutched to his side. His chest was heaving up and down, fast and too irregular.
She jumped up from where she was resting against the gate and hurried over to him, leaning his weight on her side.
“Hey Princess,” he croaked. His eyes fluttered shut.
“Miller!” she yelled. “Help me get him to the drop ship!”
She slipped his arm around her shoulder and Miller, dropping his gun to the ground, did the same. The carried him into the dropship like that, his feet dragging on the ground behind them. He was only half conscious when they rested him on one of the cots at the front of the drop ship.
Clarke saw a pool of blood seeping from his side through his t-shirt. She peeled the hem up to his chest, and took the rag that Monty handed her and started to wipe it clean. There was a dark pus coming out of the wound, and the skin around it was black and splotchy.
“What is that?” Miller asked from beside her.
Clarke felt her vision go blurry as her face heated up. She shook her head back and forth. I don’t know, she thought. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.
“Arrow,” Bellamy breathed out.
An arrow. It must have been laced with poison. And Clarke had no idea what the antidote was. She passed the rag back to Monty, who shoved Miller aside as he moved to take Clarke’s place cleaning the wound.
She rummaged through her supplies. She didn’t have medicine, she didn’t know how to treat this. The only things she had were moonshine and knives and bandages. She had nothing.
She slammed her hand down on the table and a little glass vial tipped over. She picked it up, recognizing it as one of the bottles they found with Lincoln. She turned it over in her hand. She had no idea what it was, what it was for.
But she couldn’t just sit there and watch him die.
“Everybody out,” she ordered.
She walked back over to him, and knelt at his side. When the last of the footsteps left the drop ship she leaned her head down onto Bellamy’s arm, squishing her tears into his skin.
“I don’t know what to do, Bell,” she whispered into his arm.
“I trust you, Clarke,” he said, and she felt his fingers twitch at his side. He eyes slipped closed but his breathing was a little more even than it had been before.
I trust you.
She didn’t have any other choice. She popped the cork off the top of the vial, tipped his head back, and poured.
For a while nothing happened.
Then his breathing slowed way down. She laid a hand on his chest and could barely feel his heart beating. The skin under her palm was growing colder by the second.
“No,” she whispered horrified. “No!” She pounded her hand on the side of his cot. She felt her shoulders shake, and she couldn’t see, everything was just a big blur. She reached out to him, clutching his hand to ground herself, but it didn’t help because his hand was like ice under her skin and it was her fault.
“No,” she gasped, pressing his hand into her mouth. “No you can’t die, I just got you back.”
She woke up overheated.
She lifted her head and realized she had fallen asleep at Bellamy’s cot. Bellamy who was not awake, but breathing more. He was a furnace, sweat was pooling under his back, his face and neck and chest were slick with it.
But he’s alive, she reminded herself.
She got a rag and started dabbing away the sweat from his brow and his eyes opened slowly.
The crushing weight surrounding her chest eased up a bit at his voice.
“You’re fever’s breaking,” she said. He made to sit up, but she pushed him back down. “You need to rest.” He propped himself up on his elbows anyway.
“I’m pretty sure you’re the one that needs to rest,” he countered. “You look like shit, Princess.”
She ignored him, and went to get him some water. She nearly collapsed when she got back to his cot, but she helped him tip his head back and take the water.
He watched her with wide eyes, concern clouding his expression when she eased onto her knees next to the cot and rested her head next to his side.
“Seriously, Clarke.” He lifted her chin up with a finger. “How long has it been since you slept?”
“Just a few days, I’m fine, Monty makes sure I rest.”
“How many days, Clarke?”
She couldn’t say it. If she said it then he would blame himself, and she couldn’t let him do that. Not when he already carried so much around with him. But when she raised her eyes to his, she knew she couldn’t lie to him.
He knew what that meant. She saw it in his eyes, the way it took only a second for it all to click into place. She expected him to back away, to pull a shutter over his face, to retreat quietly and resentfully into himself, and block her out.
When he did speak, she didn’t expect his voice to be so gentle. So open.
His hand was on her cheek and she hadn’t noticed that a tear had slipped from her eye until his thumb reached out to swipe it away. His fingers were warm and calloused resting against her skin. She remembered how cold they had felt the night before and almost involuntarily leaned into his touch.
“It’s okay,” she said. “It’ll be okay now.”
He nodded slowly, leaning his forehead down to hers, pressing his hand into her neck. He took a deep breath.
“Yeah,” he said. “We’re okay now.”