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we thought we lost you (welcome back)

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i. Raven Reyes

It's been barely a week when Raven finds Clarke. She hadn't expected anyone so soon, hadn't even bothered to get that far from camp yet. It would be months before anyone but Bellamy wanted to look for her, she was sure, and Bellamy wouldn't come because she told him not to. She thought she had time.

"He told us we can't ask you to come back," Raven says, before Clarke can say anything. "So I'm not." She pulls something out of her pocket and holds it out. "Our second radio. There's no jamming anymore, so it's got a decent range."

"Raven--"

"Don't say you don't need it," she says. "What if you find something we should know about? What if you get hurt?" Clarke's going to protest, but Raven goes on, "What if your mom gets hurt and we don't have a doctor? We're not expecting you to call for chats, but it's stupid to be out here alone when anything could happen."

Clarke takes the radio. "Who has the other one?" she asks, even though she already knows.

"Bellamy. Wick and I are making more. Your mom and Kane are next on the list. I've got a receiver in my workshop, but it's not mobile. You'll find someone if you call. Night or day."

She nods. "Okay. Thanks, Raven."

Raven pauses and then says, "Look, I don't know what I would have done, if I had to make the choices you made. I'm glad I didn't have to. But--I get why you did what you did. All of it. And I don't think you were wrong."

Something twists inside Clarke, and she looks away. "How's Jasper?" she asks.

"He's not there yet."

She nods.

"Don't wait around for him," says Raven. "Whenever you're ready, we want you back."

"I know." She wants to say more, but the words get caught in her mouth. There are too many, and she doesn't know how to start. Instead she just nods. "Thanks for this. I'll call you if I need you."

"You better," says Raven, and just like that, she's gone.

 

ii. Monty Green

She's been gone a month when they get the first serious snowfall, inches sticking thick on the ground. She almost radios to ask if they're having fun, getting into snowball fights or building snowmen or anything of the other stuff she knows people used to do. She wants to believe they have enough room to breathe that they could be, that they're not just fortifying tents and fighting off Grounders.

It only takes Monty a few days to find her, even though she's nowhere near where Raven last saw her.

"There's a tracker in the radio," she says. He shrugs, unapologetic, and holds out a bundle wrapped in a blanket. She recognizes it as one of the ones from Mount Weather. "Are you in there for the winter?" It wouldn't be a bad place, if they could stand it.

"No," he says. "It's hard enough just taking things out, we couldn't live there."

"Yeah," she says. She hasn't gone anywhere near it. She can barely stand to look that direction.

"The pot is from Jasper," he says. She wonders if Raven told him to say it, or if it's true. "We don't think the snow is safe to eat, but you can boil it if you can't get to water. And boiled water is good for other stuff too."

She swallows hard. "How's he doing?"

"He likes the snow." Monty smiles. "I do too. We built a fort with some of the younger kids."

She almost says she wishes she could see it, but he'd just tell her that she could. No one is keeping her away but her. "I'm glad."

"It would be more fun with you," he says. "But I'm not telling you to come back."

She smiles at that. "Of course not."

"I would, but I promised I wouldn't."

She wants to ask how Bellamy is so much she can taste it. She's amazed he can't read her mind. But he hugs her and leaves, and she's alone again.

She makes a snow man herself, just a little one, with matchsticks for arms. It doesn't make her cave feel like home, but it's nice, all the same.

 

iii. Lexa

She and a group of Grounders are stalking the same deer a week later. She lets them have it and they don't attack her; Lexa shows up the next day, apparently alone, but there's no way. Lexa must know she can't trust that Clarke doesn't want to murder her for what she did.

"We heard you left the Sky People," says Lexa, by way of greeting. Clarke shrugs, not ready to say anything yet. Lexa came and found her--she can do the talking. "I was glad to know you survived the Mountain Men. And to know you still survive."

"News travels fast," says Clarke, wondering if she can stay here now. She didn't mind Monty knowing where she was, but she doesn't want Lexa to be able to come by any time she wants. It's probably not fair to say Lexa broke her heart, not when it was already in such shitty shape, but she did more than enough damage.

Lexa's jaw works, like she's trying to come up with something to say. "We couldn't have left them alive," is what she finally settles on. "If they hadn't gotten your people, they would have come back for mine. They wouldn't have stopped."

"I don't care why you did it," says Clarke. She's not surprised to find it's true. At first she might have. It might have mattered if there was a good enough reason. But she's been alone for two months, learning to live with herself again. She's not interested in making things easier for Lexa. "You made your choices, I made mine."

They stand in silence for a long time, and finally Lexa says, "I'm sorry it had to be this way."

"It didn't," says Clarke. "We made it this way."

It's not hard to gather all her things up; she has almost nothing. She leaves with Lexa watching her, and steps on her snowman as she goes.

 

iv. Octavia Blake

"You're coming back."

Clarke doesn't even hear her coming; she's alone one minute and Octavia is behind her the next. She doesn't jump, but she does startle.

"What?" she asks.

"I'm taking you home. This is ridiculous. It's been three months. Bell needs you."

"What's wrong with him?"

Octavia gives her a look that could freeze water. "You're not there," she says, like it's obvious. "He's taking care of everyone alone, and no one's taking care of him." She looks away, but Clarke can see the worry all over her face. "He's not sleeping, and he's not eating enough. He won't listen to me."

She thinks of a lot of things to say, comes up with all kinds of protestations, but she can't. Bellamy needs her.

"He might not listen to me either," she says, but she's already gathering her things.

 

v. Bellamy Blake

They go in through Raven's gate; Clarke doesn't think she can handle walking in through the front gate. People will find out she's back. She doesn't need to make a production of it. Raven hugs her, tight, and says, "Good." She tries to return the radio, but she says, "Keep it. You're still going to need it."

Clarke looks down at the radio in her hand, smiles a little. "I guess so."

"Where is he?" asks Octavia.

"In his room," says Raven. "He's always in his room or on patrol." Clarke makes a face, and Raven laughs. She looks good, Clarke realizes suddenly. Happy. "That's why we had to get you back," she says. "Someone's got to deal with him."

"Second on the left," says Octavia, pointing. They have a nice little collection of ramshackle cabins, nothing fancy, but they look sturdy enough. They did well, she thinks, feeling pride rise in her chest.

"Thanks," she tells Octavia. "For coming to get me."

Octavia shrugs. "Just don't do it again."

It's maybe weird, going to see Bellamy before she sees her mother, before she's even told anyone she's here. But she didn't come back because someone told her Abby needed her. As far as she knows, Abby is eating and sleeping and not being an idiot. So they can have their touching reunion later, once Bellamy's had a good meal.

His door opens before she gets to it, and she ducks back behind the cabin next to his, suddenly shy. He's lost more weight than she has, and she can see the bags under his eyes from here. It's enough to get her moving again, right up in his face. "What happened to you?" she demands, and he stares down at her like he doesn't believe what he's seeing. "You were supposed to take care of yourself too!"

"Clarke," he says. She doesn't bother responding, just drags him back into his cabin and slams the door behind them. "What happened? What's wrong?" he asks, searching her face. "Did you find something? Are you hurt?"

"You're what's wrong," she says, looking him over critically. Way too thin. "Octavia came and got me. You look awful."

"It's good to see you too, Princess," he says, but the smile doesn't quite make it to his eyes.

She swallows hard and looks down. "I'm sorry," she says, and it feels inadequate. "I couldn't--"

"You don't have to explain yourself to me."

"I do. I left you."

His jaw tightens, and he nods. "Well, have a seat," he says, gesturing. The room is small and spartan; the only place to sit is on his bedroll, so she does. He sits down next to her. "I heard about the missile," he says, and she winces. "I'm not going to tell you you were wrong. I don't like it, but I understand."

"Those were our people," she says, looking down at her hands. "If I'm killing them, and killing us, then what I am doing it for?"

"You did the best you could," he says. She sees his hand twitch, and then he reaches out and puts it over hers. She shivers, remembering the last time he touched her like this, in Mount Weather. He must too, because he jerks back like he's been burned.

She finds herself starting to laugh. "I can't believe Octavia thought I would help," she says. "We're a mess."

Bellamy starts laughing too, and suddenly they've collapsed on each other, laughing so hard they're crying. They're probably scaring people outside. "It is helping," he says, when he finally sobers. She's half on top of him, with his arm around her, and she can feel his ribs through his shirt. She's going to monitor his meals for a month if she has to. "I missed you."

She tightens her arms around him; it must hurt, but he doesn't say a word. "I missed you too. I wanted to radio. I thought about it all the time." She licks her lips. "Why weren't you eating?"

"I was eating."

"Not enough."

"We don't have enough."

"Why weren't you sleeping?"

He shifts, uncomfortable, but they're so close, she knows he's not going to try to lie to her. "Nightmares," he says.

"Me too," she says, mouth dry. She sees the Mountain Men when she closes her eyes, still.

"Not about that," he says. "Not usually." He clears his throat. "They had me in the cages with the Grounders. They bled me."

She swallows and pushes him back onto the bedroll; he doesn't resist at all. She fists her hand in his shirt and closes her eyes. "Go to sleep, Bellamy."

His hand tangles in her hair. "I don't take orders from you," he says, but there's a smile in his voice.

*

She's not sure what time it is when they wake up; it's dark and quiet and she feels more rested than she has in months. His hand slid under her shirt at some point and splayed over her back, and she's still clutching his shirt, right over his heart.

She can tell from his breathing that he's awake. When she looks up, his eyes are steady on her.

"You can't leave again," he tells her. "You can't, Clarke."

"I won't."

He nods once and pulls her up, lining up their mouths so he can kiss her. He tastes like sleep, stale and warm, and she melts into him. It's all the encouragement he needs. He surges up, the kiss going from lazy to desperate all at once, like someone flipped a switch. She kisses back just as fiercely, clinging to him so hard she thinks it'll leave marks.

"Fuck, Clarke," he breathes, grazing his teeth against her neck. "I was going to come find you. I couldn't--"

"I know," she says, fumbling his shirt off. She frowns when she sees his chest, and he laughs.

"That's not the reaction I was hoping for, Princess."

She traces his stomach. "You have to take better care of yourself, Bell."

"That's what I've got you for," he says, grinning. His hands play with the hem of her shirt. "If you want to stop, you should tell me."

"If I wanted to stop, I wouldn't be taking your clothes off." He smiles, but he still doesn't move. "What?"

"I've never actually said this before, but this can't just be a one-time thing."

"It's not," she says, and pulls her shirt off for him. "It couldn't be for me either. I'm not going anywhere."

She kisses him again before he can protest, and keeps kissing him until he stops trying to.