Footsteps echoed in the long corridors, an oppressive weight hanging in the air as hushed words were exchanged and names were punched into monitors. No rush, no urgency, no adrenaline. Just a purposeful acceptance, a quiet after the storm.
Nathan couldn’t remember the last time it was quiet.
One by one, the last vestiges of humanity, be they Eligius, Wonkru, or the ones left behind, were going to sleep.
As if it would be magically better when they woke up again.
As if they could undo what they’d done.
As if they could be saved.
“You’ve cleaned up good.”
Nathan blinked, shaking himself out of his morbid reverie. He watched numbly as nimble fingers darted over the keypad to his cryo-chamber, checking details. “I’m waiting for Jackson,” he said, the pointless words falling like lead from his tongue.
“I figured,” Harper smiled softly, hopping up to sit on the biobed next to Nathan. Her every movement was fluid, easy… content.
Nathan felt a stab of irrational jealousy, felt his mouth twist sourly. He looked down to his hands, ran rough fingertips over the webs of scars that weaved over his skin. Indelible marks of a six years he could never, would never forget.
“He’s good for you,” Harper continued. “I’m glad you have him. I’m glad he was there.”
“I’m not,” Nathan murmured, squeezing his eyes shut involuntarily. He hadn’t meant to say that. You didn’t speak of it, that was the rule. You never spoke of it. You gritted your teeth, and you survived.
But this was Harper. This was his friend, his sister, his kin.
“I don’t need a thief to show me how to shoot a gun.”
“Yeah? And I don’t need a scrawny girl watching my back.”
“Well I need you both to stop with your pissing contest so I can actually listen for grounders, but you can’t always get what you want. Bellamy’s put us together, so suck it up. For the record Zoe, Miller is a way better shot than you-”
“And Miller if you call either of us scrawny girls again, I will watch while a grounder stabs you.”
“Ha! Now that would liven up the evening.”
“Whatever, Monroe. You want lively? I’ve got some of that stuff Monty and Jasper’ve been brewing.”
“You’re an idiot Miller.”
“But I am a great thief.”
“You’re both hopeless. What part of keeping watch do you not understand?”
“C’mon Harper, no grounder is gonna be out in this weather.”
“Fine, but if we go blind from this crap, I’m feeding your beanie to the two headed deer.”
Miller, McIntyre, and Monroe. They had been three of the best of Bellamy’s gunners. And they had trusted each other with their lives.
Zoe… it had been over seven years since they lost her, and it still felt raw.
All the lost souls lingered like festering wounds in the survivors’ souls, even when the Drop Ship graveyard was nothing more than radioactive dust.
Gentle fingers crept over his, entwining, squeezing, “You did as good as you could. You kept him alive, you kept yourself alive… and Octavia.”
Nathan flinched. He knew how Harper must feel about Octavia after everything that had happened. So what must she think of him? How could she understand why he did what he did, when Bellamy had only been able to look at him in disbelief and disgust? How could she understand why he kept standing by her, even after everything?
“So much for the 100…” Harper said softly, her words an echo of Bellamy’s. Nathan looked at her sharply, but all he saw was the same calm sadness. “I heard what Bellamy said to you. You know how heated he can get, how blinkered. He and Octavia are more alike than either would like to admit. But she was the last one left, right? I checked the manifests. It was only you, Octavia, Hallie and Rob who made it into the bunker. And then it was just you and Octavia. Then there were two.”
“Six years, Harper. It was six years,” Nathan said, not sure what he meant by that, but needing to say it.
“I know,” Harper said, squeezing his hand before resting her head on his shoulder to watch more people lying down into their pods. Monty and Jackson were over on the other side of the room, settling Murphy down. Emori was already asleep, but Jackson had wanted to double check on Murphy’s healing wounds to make sure the cryo freezing would go smoothly.
They sat there together, legs dangling like kids off the end of the bed, letting a soft silence fall between them as they watched the people they loved work. It was oddly comforting. Nathan couldn’t remember the last time he had felt like this.
And then the words started to fall from his lips, each one weighted with so many more words left unsaid, “Gunners at the Drop Ship… Mount Weather prisoners… rebels in Arkadia and then Skaikru loyalists. It was always the same path. We were always the 100. And then you went to the sky, and I went underground.”
“And then it was six years,” Harper finished for him sadly. “I’m sorry I couldn’t have your back.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t have yours… even when the bunker opened, I should’ve-”
“Nate, stop,” Harper said sharply, raising her head from his shoulder to look him full in the eye. “It’s okay. Really. You’ve always been loyal. And we both had people to protect.”
An unbelievable weight seemed to lift from Nathan at his best friend’s words, like an iron band around his chest had finally snapped. His lips twitched in a ghost of his old smile, “Monroe would bang our heads together if she could see us now.”
Harper grinned, eyes slightly too bright in the half light, “Probably. But I reckon she’d be happy to know that we have Monty and Jackson to do it for her, if we ever need a reality check.”
“You think? I always thought she’d laugh that we managed to get the two biggest pacifists on Earth to love us,” Nathan grinned fondly.
“Being a pacifist is underrated,” Harper said pensively, and Nathan followed her loving gaze to where Monty and Jax were finishing up with Murphy’s pod. “You should give it a go sometime, you might find you like it.”
“Maybe when we get back down there, you never know,” Nathan said, still not sure if he believed that such a time or place could exist for him. “Guess it’s my turn next…”
“And then there were four,” Harper said quietly.
Nathan frowned. Four? Even if they didn’t count Bellamy and Raven in the original 100, there was still more of them left than that. Not many, but every person still alive was worth the world. “You mean six,” he corrected.
Harper hopped off the bed, stood to face him, and she didn’t even need to say anything. He knew.
“Shit, Harper…” Nathan murmured, suddenly terrified to let go of her hands. Because sure, everything could go smoothly, they could all wake up in ten years. Harper and Monty would just have taken the long road. But Nathan was one of the 100. He knew things never went smoothly, and definitely not as planned. He had learnt that the hard way, time and time again.
He pulled her towards him with a small jerk, and she slipped into his arms willingly, squeezing him tightly as she balanced on tiptoes to hug him as he stayed sitting on the biobed. Her hand curled to cup the back of his head as she whispered with tears in her voice, “I’ll finally be older than you. You won’t be able to boss me about.”
“Like that ever stopped you before.”
“Nate? You ready?” Jackson’s voice cut through the moment, and Harper’s warmth was gone as they parted. He felt hollow.
“No, but sure,” Nathan rubbed his hands together, clearing his throat to try and regain some balance. Jax frowned at him, an unspoken question flitting across his face, but he didn’t press.
He looked at Monty as Jackson fiddled with his cryochamber’s settings. Monty slipped an arm around Harper and smiled at him. Nathan nodded, trying to convey in barely a moment everything he wanted to say to his friend.
“All set,” Jackson’s voice was too confident, there was that note in it that Nathan had come to listen for, the undercurrent of uncertainty buried deep.
“Hey,” Nathan caught Jackson’s wrist lightly in his fingers, pulling him into a kiss that he wanted to last forever. When they broke apart, he rested their foreheads together, “I’ll see you on the other side. We’ll be good, you know we will.”
“I’ll be right beside you,” Jackson nodded, shored up by Nathan’s words. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Nathan said, stealing one last kiss.
And as he lay down, he glanced past Jax to take one last look at Harper and Monty.
Frost, cold, silence, dark.
It really was like blinking.
Things never go as planned.
Jackson was there, and Murphy, Clarke and Octavia. Bellamy and Raven.
But Monty and Harper were long gone.
The ghost-touch of her fingertips still lingered in his, just like Zoe’s laugh echoed in the back of his mind.
He had only been awake for ten minutes when he met Jordan, all smiles and awkwardness and light. He knew Nathan’s name, he knew his story. He knew about Miller, McIntyre and Monroe as he tripped over his words and guided Nathan and Jackson to where the rest of the 100 were waiting.
125 years, and they were careful who to wake up first. Because sleep had gone by in a blink of an eye, and nothing had changed.
But so had everything.
“Oh, and this is for you,” Jordan said, pulling a grubby little package from his pocket and handing it to Nathan.
He could hear Murphy around the corner, derisive tones oddly comforting. Jax was a steady presence at his elbow. “What is it?” Jackson asked.
“It’s from Mom,” Jordan shrugged.
Frowning, Nathan gently tore the package open. A black knitted bundle was inside, pinned with a note in familiar hand.
To keep you warm on the new world.
And then there were five.
Nathan unrolled the bundle and despite the tight lump in his throat, couldn’t help but smile. It was a beanie.
A hat, and barely a handful of words, but Harper’s message rang loud and clear.
Nathan wouldn’t disappoint her.