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Like the Air and Sea

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Clarke doesn’t so much wake up as she does become aware that she is not asleep. She feels… disconnected. Like she’s been put into pieces and they’re all floating just out of reach. She knows her hands are there, her eyes are here, her toes are there. But none of it connects like it’s the same body that makes up her.

Hello? Clarke calls. But her lips don’t twitch, her throat doesn’t move, her lungs don’t contract. No sound comes out. All she has is the intention to speak. What was she saying?

Then, a breeze. A soft sigh, or cracking a window open. It’s barely noticeable except that nothing else exists save the breeze.

Clarke can hear muffled noises. Someone is speaking to her, but it’s so far away, or she’s so messed up, that it sounds like low thunder far, far away.

But what it does do is give her direction. If there’s thunder, it’s above. If there’s a breeze, it’s around her. Her feet should be on the ground. That’s what standing is. That’s what people do. They stand.

And the world takes shape.

Or, it would, if there was enough world to make a shape.

 

  

Clarke’s world builds itself, but she knows it’s not right. She just can’t tell how. Nothing is in focus, and her whole body aches like one big bruise. There’s big gaps of nothing, just blank space to be painted in, where she feels that they weren’t there before. What happened to her?

The Nothing outweighs the parts that are Something.

“Hello?” Clarke calls again. And now that there’s some semblance of reality, now she can feel air and she can push it into her lungs and let it out again in a sound that might be her voice, or does she even know what her voice actually sounds like anymore?

“Is anyone there?”

It’s the sun itself that answers her. It lights up until the light burns so hot that Clarke’s skin burns, and a voice so loud it echoes and shakes the earth around her says,

“It’s okay, Clarke. You’re safe.”

Clarke burns, screams.

And the whole world collapses.

 

 

 The next time Clarke becomes aware, she doesn’t speak. Nothing else has been quite as vivid as the full attention of the sun. The blank spaces seem a little bigger. The Somethings are smaller. Maybe she can’t remember how big they were to start with. She can’t remember anything.

On the edge of one blank space Clarke finds a marker. It’s meant to lead to… lead to somewhere. Somewhere that’s been lost. Clarke knows it’s a good marker. She likes it. She wants to go to the space. But there’s nothing in the space for her to find. What does this marker mean?

It’s a flat piece of wood, with the word ‘The Griffins’ painted on it. Clarke can recognize her own brush strokes.  It’s hard to read considering how Clarke’s eyes can’t bring anything into focus. There’s two hand prints on it. One is hers. Clarke knows the other is Madi’s because of the size. There’s an arrow underneath, pointing into the space.

Clarke spends her aware time on the edge of the blankness. She stares into it, hoping that she’ll find out where it went.

No time passes. Maybe Clarke would find that strange, but so much of her is strange and she doesn’t think she knows enough to know what’s normal and what’s not anymore. The emptiness remains.

 

  

Knock knock.

It’s almost loud enough to hurt, and Clarke is caught between running to hide, or running to investigate.

She turns away from the sign she’s been studying for days (weeks? Months? Years?) and finds a door. Clarke is almost certain there was no door there before.

What’s more: the door is in focus. It’s sharp, and clear. All tiny and round. It’s green in color with a bright brass knob right in the center. It’s sitting on the edge of Something, unconnected to anything else around.

And in this moment Clarke realizes there’s no color in her world. It’s all completely greyscale. What does color look like? She can see it in the door, but as soon as she looks away it slides away like water through her fingers.

Knock knock.

“Hello?” Clarke asks. She recalls the pain of burning. Nothing is more horrifying than that.

“Please don’t hurt me,” she adds.

The door cracks open, just a hair, and from it comes sights, smells and sounds that Clarke doesn’t have in her world. It’s only a trickle, the smallest amount, and it feels like an ocean surging through.

“Clarke,” comes the whisper, “it’s me.”

It’s the same voice as the sun before, but so soft now that Clarke has to strain to hear him. And now that she’s not dying from the force of it, she knows it. She knows him.

“Bellamy?”

Clarke races forwards. The sensation overload is so strong, flowing in from the door, that she wants to be sick. She wants someone familiar. She wants someone to make sense of this.

Bellamy closes the door. Clarke reaches it and starts pounding. The door feels warm against her hands.

“Open up!” she shouts. What’s come through the door is falling into the blank spaces. It’s already going away. The green of the door doesn’t fade, but it’s so vibrant that it makes her eyes water.

“Bellamy! What’s going on?”

Clarke bangs on the door for as long as she can. She screams herself hoarse, and gets nothing in return. The door makes her sick. It’s so wrong to her world that she can’t bear to be around it any longer. She walks away. There has to be more to see. She’ll find the answer to the blank spaces.

She hears the door crack open again, once she’s at the edge of the clearing.

“Clarke,” Bellamy whispers. She wishes she could see him. That he would just show himself. Why is he the sun? Where is her color? Why can’t she remember anything?

“What’s happening?” Clarke demands.

“You can’t come through here,” Bellamy says, “promise me you won’t come through.”

“Fine,” Clarke says, “now what’s going on?”

“Don’t you remember?” Bellamy asks.

“No!” Clarke could scream in frustration. She knows this isn’t right. Why isn’t Bellamy helping her? She’s so tired and afraid, now that she can tell this is all wrong. There’s a rumbling somewhere in the distance, like things crashing down and falling apart.

“Oh,” Bellamy says, and there’s a long pause before he continues, “okay. I don’t… I don’t really know how to do this.”

“Spit it out,” Clarke says, “what’s happening to me?”

Bellamy’s next words send her whole world into freefall.

“I’m sorry Clarke. You died.”

 

 

 

When Clarke’s world is stable again, when it’s stopped collapsing in on itself and returned to the fuzzy, desaturated nonsense it was before (Clarke knows it’s wrong but she can’t know what’s wrong with it while she’s looking out at it) she calls for him. Bellamy comes to her again.

The same round door. It gives Clarke goosebumps to look at it, even though she wants to see it. The door doesn’t belong here. No matter how normal, how right Clarke thinks it should be, it’s wrong to her world. Like a splinter, she wants to push it out.

When Bellamy cracks the door open this time, nothing pours out into her world. Clarke feels a little less sick.

“Are you okay?” Bellamy asks.

Clarke wants to laugh, “I thought I was dead? Why would I be okay?”

“I might have been too blunt,” Bellamy admits, “your mom was mad.”

“Mom?” Clarke echoes.

“You’re not dead,” Bellamy says, “but you did die.”

Clarke can feel the tremors of her world under her. It’s all going to blow up again.

“What’s going on?” she demands, “tell me the truth! Where am I?”

“It— that’s hard to explain. I wish I had Raven, or— or Monty, for this. I’m not good at this stuff Clarke—”

“Then just try,” Clarke begs.

“It’s easier to show you,” Bellamy says, and the door opens wider. It’s so bright behind the door that Clarke has to shield her eyes.

“It hurts!” she shouts, “stop!”

“Sorry,” Bellamy says, and she hears the door slam shut.

Clarke blinks her eyes open. There’s spots in her vision where the light was too bright. The door cracks open again, just slightly.

“That will explain everything,” Bellamy says, “but don’t touch, okay?”

Clarke doesn’t know what else to say. She’s so confused. And everything hurts. And nothing feels right.

There’s a book being held through the door. By Bellamy’s dark hand. He’s got the door closed as much as he can on his wrist. The paper is white, and it’s too white. It’s glowing, like how everything from Bellamy is glowing. Clarke squints against the glare of it as she approaches. Clarke wonders if she peeks in will she see him there, or will she go blind?

“Just look at this,” Bellamy instructs, as if he’s reading her mind.

Clarke wants to touch his hand, or the skin of his wrist. She wonders if she’d feel an electric shock, or heat (heat! That’s missing too! And cold. There’s no cold in her world. Just the absence of it all). Bellamy said to only look. And then she’d understand. Clarke trusts him.

She reads.



“She’s dying,” Abby says. The medical bay is cold and dark compared to the battle they just finished under the sun.

Clarke looks so frail on the operating table. There’s black blood crusted around her nose, under her nails where Josephine ripped them up trying to escape her restraints. Bellamy will never forget the awful snarl on her face, on Clarke’s face, as she promised to kill Clarke before Clarke could kill her.

It was the last thing she’d said before retreating into her head. Clarke hasn’t woken up since.

It’s been four hours since they removed Josephine’s chip.

Bellamy can’t quite remember where the rest of the time has gone.

“Severe brain damage,” Jackson says, as if that helps Bellamy understand. Abby is strangely calm. Bellamy’s seen that kind of calm on Clarke. It’s the eye of the storm, when there’s no time to panic.

“We don’t know what kind,” Abby snaps at him, “this is completely new! We don’t even know if we got all of Josephine out!”

“The chip was removed. We have to assume that everything left is Clarke,” Kane says.

“Clarke’s a badass. They tried to kill her once and it didn’t work,” Raven says proudly, “she’s gonna wake up.”

Abby frowns, and shakes her head. She looks like she could be on the verge of crumpling.

“I don’t know,” she says.

“Abby, there has to be something,” Bellamy pleads.

“Freeze her,” Kane realizes, “like you did with me. It’ll stabilize her. Give you some time.”

“We put her under and we can’t guarantee her consciousness will be the same when she wakes up,” Abby says, “the body being put into stasis is one thing, the mind is completely different.”

“What if we can save her mind?” Murphy asks. He leaps out of the shadows. His face is still swollen from the beating he’d taken, one eye ringed with a dark bruise. He slams down a chip on the table beside Clarke’s head.

“Learn from the locals,” he says, “we have everything right here.”

“We are not repeating their sins,” Kane orders.

“We aren’t going to use a new body,” Murphy argues, “because Doc is gonna fix Clarke right up, and then we can put her back. No issue!”

“That’s insane,” Jackson laughs.

“But it could work,” Abby cuts in. There’s a manic light in her eyes. She’s barreling through possibilities.

“That’s the one Josephine tried to smash, right?” Raven asks. She shuffles forwards, her leg giving her more trouble after her brace broke, “she fought you for it?”

“A few dents, but it’s in one piece,” Murphy says, “besides, it’s the only blank chip. Unless you want to wipe Miss Psychotic for her memory space.”

“No,” Kane says, firmly, “we aren’t killers.”

Abby and Jackson crowd in to look at the chip. They’re all talking a mile a minute over it.

Bellamy can’t look away from Clarke’s pale face. She looks so washed out under the white lights. The veins of her black blood stand out under her skin.

Madi’s hand is small, and shaking, as she touches his wrist. She projects such serenity when she’s relying on the confidence of the Flame inside of her. Bellamy can see Clarke’s steadiness in her all the time, can even hear Clarke’s voice sometimes when Madi speaks. Right now, though, she looks like a child. A scared child who is afraid to lose her mother. Again.

Bellamy wraps an arm around her shoulder and pulls her against him. Her hands come up to fist in his shirt, clinging like he’s the only thing holding her up. He’s just taking up space here, but he can’t force himself to leave until he knows Clarke will be okay. He should probably try and get Madi away. He knows she’ll object. So they remain.



“A chip?” Clarke asks. She stops reading the memory to wait for a response. Her eyes are spotty, like she’s been staring into a bright light. She has to blink away the vivid sensation of being Bellamy in the memory. Madi had felt so real under her— his— hand.

“Yeah,” Bellamy says through the door.

“Did it work?” Clarke asks.

“Keep reading,” Bellamy instructs, “it’s easier than me explaining.”



They get Clarke’s mind scanned. Her heart stops during the process, and Abby and Jackson have to perform CPR to revive her. Madi clutches Bellamy’s hand so tightly that his fingers go numb. He holds her close and wishes, for once, that he had someone or something to plead to. All he can rely on is Clarke’s ruthless drive to survive. She’s going to live, simply because she can’t die.

“The chip is a slightly damaged, but functional enough to hold her,” Jackson says, reading off a screen. There’s numbers and letters, all sorts of code, floating around.

“Is that Clarke?” Madi whispers.

“I think,” Bellamy says.

“Yeah the chip is functional but…” Raven pushes her way in, taking a seat at the computer. She points at a monitor near her, “there’s big gaps here. And they’re growing. The file is corrupt.”

Abby lets out a pained snarl. Madi hiccups beside him. Bellamy’s heart thunders in his chest.

“Corrupt?” Kane asks.

“Her brain is mashed potatoes,” Murphy elaborates, “and it’s only getting worse.”

Raven pauses to look at him in disbelief.

“I can learn shit,” he defends himself, “I spent long enough with you and Emori on the ring to read some code, okay?”

“Is there any way to stop it?” Abby asks, “what if we scan her again?”

“She needs to go into cryo,” Jackson says, “after that heart attack she’s too weak.”

“Wait,” Raven says, and she’s staring into the code like Clarke herself is speaking to her, “these chips… Becca made them specifically to function within a human body. And having to constantly update and adapt to new stimulus and information—”

“What, Raven?” Abby demands.

“They— they’re like brains. Capable of holding the complexity of a human consciousness,” Raven explains, and waits for someone to see what she’s thinking, but only gets blank faces in return, “it means, whatever we leave on the chip has the potential to grow and change. Which means: recovery. Even if Clarke’s body isn’t ready, we can heal her mind specifically. Get her ready to go back in.”

“Then do it,” Kane urges, “if she can survive—”

“She can’t,” Raven cuts him off, and her eyes are hard as steel now, “the chip functions like a brain, but only when it’s active. Like this,” and she taps the glass case around the chip containing Clarke, “like this the data will just stagnate and stay corrupt, or get worse. If we want to give Clarke a chance then she needs a host.”

Bellamy can’t believe he’s going to lose her again. He spent all those years on the ring thinking she’d died to save them. Thinking about how he’d failed her, how much he wished he could have saved her. And then he found her, back on Earth. Now he’s going to lose her again, and there’s nothing he can do.

“We need a nightblood,” Raven says, “that’s the only way to save her.”

“There are no hosts,” Jackson says, “it has to be someone—”

“Me,” Bellamy says, before he even realizes he’s speaking, “I’m nightblood. I can do it.”



“It was the only way to save you,” Bellamy says, as Clarke pulls away from the memory. 

Clarke looks around her. At the pale forest, at the unfamiliar blank spaces where familiarities should be. And now she sees it for what it is. This is her mind. A battlefield. A graveyard.

“What’s this?” she asks, and taps on the door with her fingertips. It makes her shiver to touch it.

“I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and learning, from the Primes on building up my mind,” Bellamy says, and there’s a snarl to his voice. Clarke sees the trickle of anger fall through the doorway, and she dips her fingers in it. It’s hot, and burns like poison. He hates the Primes for what they’ve done to his people.

“Most minds form a stable construct naturally, though it’s usually disjointed. Like, uh, a safe place to retreat to. Everyone’s looks different because everyone organizes and prioritizes things different. If this is going to work, if you and I are going to survive this, then I have to be sure to keep us separate. So this is the doorway to my mind.”

“That’s why it doesn’t feel right,” Clarke realizes, “it’s not supposed to be here.”

“Yeah,” Bellamy agrees, “you don’t feel so good yourself.”

Clarke almost laughs at that.

“How long has it been?” she asks instead. The weight of knowing feels too heavy, and she sinks down onto her knees. She wants to sleep for a century.

“Since Josephine got you, or since I took you in?” Bellamy asks.

Clarke isn’t sure she wants to know, now. How long has she not had her own body?

“Is Madi there?” she asks instead.

“I was alone in the library,” Bellamy says, “I’m meditating right now. It’s really hard to focus on you and everything there, so I have to pick one or the other. Can you not see what I’m seeing?”

“No,” Clarke says, “I can’t see through the door. It’s too much.”

“Well you have brain damage,” Bellamy says seriously, “I guess it makes sense that my mind is a lot to handle for you right now.”

“You’re getting better,” Clarke tells him, “the first time was worse.”

“Sorry,” he says.

“And even the last time you were spilling in,” Clarke says, “this time is cleaner.”

“I’ve never been a messy person, but this is pretty tough,” Bellamy admits, “I don’t know if I can stay much longer.”

“Okay,” Clarke says, and wishes she felt sad about that. She thinks she should. Does she?

“Can you tell everyone I say hi?” Clarke adds.

“They’re going to be so happy,” Bellamy tells her, “I wish you could see.”

“Maybe you could show me?” Clarke says, “like the last memory.”

There’s a moment of silence, and then he says, “Yeah, I guess you’re right. See you in a bit.”

“See you in a bit,” Clarke agrees.

The door closes, and then disappears.

Clarke is alone in her thoughts once more. She curls her fingers and tries to hold onto the sensation of Madi’s hair, but it’s not her memory, and the feeling slides away.

Chapter Text

It happens so fast that Bellamy almost forgets what he’s done. There’s so much work to be done, policies to be made. Rules to ensure people are safe. What to do with the Primes? What to do with the Exiles and the people of Sanctum who have hated each other for so long, just because their leaders told them to? Years of animosity don’t go away overnight. Bellamy’s been here before, trying to make peace.

This time it will work.

Echo finds him in the middle of Sanctum, standing by the water. She still has blood on her face, and strangely, she looks more natural this way. There’s always been something wild in her and civilized life always seemed like a mask she wore to keep everyone else around her calm. That fire is what brought them together, in the years up on the ring. It helped keep him alive.

She’s furious, now, and Bellamy wonders who told her about Clarke. It was probably Murphy. The two of them like to have a finger in every pie possible, and are terrible gossips. Especially when it comes to him and being reckless.

He thinks, too late, that he probably should have told her right away. But maybe this is for the better.

“How are you?” she asks, and draws him into a tight hug. He feels her fingertips come up to touch the stitches on the back of his neck.

“Fine, right now,” he says, “a little sore, though.” And he pulls her hand away.

She disregards the motion, and holds his face between her hands, forcing him to look at her, “What were you thinking?” she demands. And there it is, the fire. The fear of losing someone else she cares about.

“I wasn’t,” he admits, “I just knew I could save Clarke.”

“You could die,” Echo says.

He sighs, “But Clarke—”

“Maybe it was time to let her go,” Echo says. It’s a harsh truth, one that no one wanted to admit in the room while they were looking at Clarke’s dying body. It crossed Bellamy’s mind. He admires that Echo is able to say it.

“I couldn’t do that,” he says, “I’m sorry, Echo.”

Her eyes are wet as she looks into his eyes, and she must see that same stubborn streak in him that’s always gotten him into trouble, “I know,” she says, “I know. You’re soft. I just wish I’d been there to stop you.”

“You couldn’t have,” he says, to relieve her of any guilt she might have if he dies.

“I would,” she corrects him. And she means it. She would have killed Clarke, or destroyed the chip, to save him. Her love is fierce and unyielding, and sometimes cruel. She would have seen a hopeless scenario and ended the suffering so they could all move on. Maybe life would be cleaner that way.

“Your bleeding heart,” she says, and she’s softer now. She strokes his face with the pads of her thumbs, and smears the drying blood there, “I love that about you.”

He sighs, and leans into her touch. She leans in, touches her forehead to his. They stand together, thankful to both still be here, after everything.

She whispers, “But you have to be careful Bellamy. One day I’ll lose you to it.”



“She’s good,” Bellamy says again.

He can’t stop the bubble of excitement in his chest every time he thinks about it. It’s so small— one tiny conversation, barely more than a few minutes— but it was Clarke. She’s alive.

“But how good?” Abby asks. She hasn’t stopped pacing, or wringing her hands, since Bellamy walked into her office to tell her that Clarke had something to tell her. Abby pauses to wipe some tears from her eyes while Bellamy talks.

“It… it’s quiet, on her side,” Bellamy says, and already it’s hard to explain simply because they’re not in his head anymore, “and, uh, dark. She said I was overwhelming at first— which, I mean, we figured.”

The first time Bellamy had thought he’d heard Clarke’s voice in his mind, he’d focused on finding her with all his might. It had resulted in a migraine so intense he’d passed out. After that he had been studying on how to be gentler in his approach, and worked on building an organized mental palace. Structure was best for Clarke right now. She needed all the support she could get.

“Overwhelming? Did you do any damage?” Abby asks.

“I don’t think so,” Bellamy says, “she didn’t say I did.”

Kane claps his hands together, “I can’t believe it,” he says, “this is… this is incredible.”

Abby clearly doesn’t think this is a celebration, “You have to be careful,” she stresses, “two minds weren’t meant to occupy one body. Just look at what happened to Clarke and Josephine.”

“They were trying to kill each other,” Bellamy reminds her, “Clarke and I aren’t.”

“All of Gabriel and Russell’s trials ended with the host dying, unless they were lobotomized first,” Abby says.

She’s right. Bellamy read through all the reports with her. He shrugs.

“It’s going to work,” he says proudly.

“Any headaches?” Jackson asks, “do you feel her now?”

Bellamy shakes his head no for both questions, “We’re separate. She can’t see or feel anything I’m doing unless I show it to her.”

“Show?” Kane asks.

“The Primes organized their memories carefully,” Bellamy explains, “Russell said it was because the human brain wasn’t designed to function for such a long lifetime. They had to be organized or they risked overwhelming the chips. So, I tried it. Everything gets cataloged so I can easily find it. In my head, my memories are made into books. All I have to do is grab the right one, and there’s the memory. Clarke wanted to know what was happening, so I let her read it.”

“You shared?” Abby asks, “I thought you were supposed to stay apart!”

“She didn’t touch it,” Bellamy says, “I just let her see it so she could understand. It’s better than me trying to explain it. I don’t know how much she even absorbed. She didn’t even ask me about me being nightblood now.”

“We need to talk to Russell. Or Priya,” Abby says, “we need to know if that could damage Clarke.”

“Abby,” Kane says gently, “take a moment. This is what we’ve been waiting for. Clarke is stable. She’s speaking to us.”

Abby shudders as she breathes. Her lips go tight, and Bellamy’s seen that expression on Clarke a hundred times. She’s swallowing her thoughts and pushing them aside. Abby nods, blinks away more tears.

“Bellamy,” she says as she turns back to him, “the next time you talk to her… please tell her I love her.” 

 

 

 

Murphy, Emori, Madi and Jordan are playing cards at a table in the saloon. Echo and Raven are playing with Hope. Bellamy is pretty sure he spotted Diyoza napping in a hammock outside, so she must be taking a small break.

It’s fortunate that they’re all here. He stops in the doorway, and realizes he doesn’t know how to say this.

So he plants his hands on his hips, and if they weren’t looking before, now they all have their eyes on him, and he announces, “Clarke says hi.”

It takes a moment for the news to sink in. Madi goes still with shock, whereas Raven leaps to her feet. Emori breaks out into a toothy laugh, and both Murphy and Jordan get teary-eyed.

“When?” Raven demands, rushing him. Echo lifts little Hope into her arms and approaches. She’s scanning Bellamy and looking for changes. And smiling. But she doesn’t say anything.

Madi breaks from her stunned stupor, and leaps the table. Cards go flying and Murphy scrambles to catch them. She nearly tackles Bellamy in her excitement, “What did she say?”

“Just: hi. And a few questions,” Bellamy says, “I had enough time to explain what happened, and why she’s in my head.”

“How is she?” Raven demands.

“Rough,” Bellamy admits, “but coherent. It can only go up from here.”

That’s not entirely true. There’s more ways for this to go wrong than there are for it to go right. But no one wants to admit that. Least of all himself. In many of the ways this goes wrong, it ends with Bellamy dead, Clarke dead, or both of them dead. None of those options are appealing.

“Can I talk to her?” Madi asks.

Bellamy shakes his head, “She can’t see what I’m doing, but I’ll try and talk to her again soon. I can pass on a message, though.” 

 

 

Bellamy knows he and Clarke aren’t very similar in a lot of ways, but he knows that when the two of them are working together they can achieve the impossible. He has to have faith.

“Sorry,” Bellamy says, and coughs to clear his throat, “I didn’t catch that.”

Russell Lightbourne pauses, scrutinizing him with narrowed eyes.

“Were you communing with her?” he asks.

Bellamy shakes his head, “Just lost in thought.”

“That kind of reckless wandering will only get you killed,” he scolds, “now. Your mental palace. How are the foundations?”

“Solid,” Bellamy shrugs, and decides to add, “it’s pretty nice. Sometimes I wish I could live there.”

Russell smiles, though he’s not looking at him, “That is what it is for. While we were out of our bodies, we would keep ourselves sane with the structure of the palace. Yours must be solid before you can help Clarke build hers.”

“How much more solid can I get?” Bellamy asks, “I’ve been meditating and focusing every day since she was implanted. And I don’t really have the luxury of spending years to perfect this.”

“You’re going to be opening yourself up to her,” Russell reminds him, “in order to discuss her healing process with her. If your mind is not fully controlled, you will overwhelm and kill her.”

“I already talked to her,” Bellamy groans, “and she’s okay.”

“Are you sure?” Russell presses, “has she spoken since?”

“No,” Bellamy says. He falls silent. Should he be worried about that?

“I want you to check on her,” Russell says, “carefully. And if you can, try to look into her mind. We need to find out what kind of destruction we’re dealing with.”

“I thought I had to be careful about opening myself to her?” Bellamy replies, “that’s why we imagined a door that I could close?”

“Is the door not transparent?” Russell asks.

Bellamy suddenly feels stupid, “You never said it should be!”

“Why would you make a door you can’t see though, when you’re trying to look into someone else’s mind to communicate with them?” Russell gestures with his hands. By the door the guards stand a little straighter. Russell notices, and takes a step back from Bellamy. The chains around his ankles rattle as he shuffles.

“Come, sit,” he says, and points to the mats on the floor.

Bellamy does as he’s told. He takes a moment to take off his shoes before stepping onto the fabric. The sensation is weird. Nice shoes were a rare commodity on the arc, but feet were always covered. And since coming to earth, Bellamy often slept with his boots on. Taking them off for simple things like stepping onto something that’s already on the floor is a weird custom that he’s still getting used to.

Russell lights some incense, and the smoke feels almost overwhelming. They’ve done this a lot to teach Bellamy how to meditate and get into a restful place where he can peacefully communicate with Clarke.

Bellamy gets comfortable and begins focusing on his breathing.

“What kind of door did you come up with? The first one?” Russell asks. He takes a seat on a mat beside Bellamy.

Bellamy thinks back to Octavia under the floor. When all she had were the stories he would tell her. How he scavenged any and every book he could find, because he could make her world only as big as she could imagine. It felt fitting that the doorway to adventure, to something a little dangerous, would be a little green door with a brass doorknob right in the middle of it.

“The Hobbit,” Russell laughs, and he almost sounds delighted.

Bellamy wonders if they have any copies of it, here in Sanctum. Maybe it’s time for him to start reading again.

He closes his eyes, and slips away into his mind. 

 

 

It’s a window, this time. That looks out into Clarke’s mind. Bellamy realizes, after, that she can probably see into his. She said it was too bright, so he quickly brings up curtains to cover his side. He reaches through the heavy fabric to knock on the glass.

“Clarke?” he calls. It’s so hard to keep his voice down. He wants to shout, like he would in the real world, but in his head intention is everything. He just needs her to hear him, so that’s what he’s doing.

He waits for her response. Where is she? He’s called to her so many times— maybe she needs time to recover before she can talk again? Maybe he hurt her by showing the memory? He knows he feels worried about it. Outside the other windows of his library, Bellamy can see the sky change from sunny to dark and ominous.

It’s dark in here now.

“Bellamy?” comes her soft voice, “this is… where are you?”

Bellamy almost sags with relief. Sunshine starts showing through the clouds outside. The library lights up again.

“I wanted to be able to see you,” Bellamy admits, “Are you gonna be okay if I show myself?”

She’s quiet a moment.

“I think so?” she says.

Bellamy is careful in peeling back the curtains. She said that his side was too bright, so he wants to be careful of that. He squeezes through and closes the curtains behind him. There’s a small ledge for him to perch on.

Clarke’s on the other side. And Bellamy almost drops to his knees. It’s her.

Except it’s not her. And even in his relief he realizes that things are not right with her at all.

She’s small. She’s thin, like she hasn’t eaten in months. Bellamy feels like she’s skin and bones. Her skin is pale and ashy, and covered in bruises and wounds that are still bleeding. Her blonde hair is matted and dirty.

She matches the landscape of her mind. It’s in pieces. And Bellamy’s head aches looking out at it. There’s no color, anywhere. And so much of it is missing. He doesn’t know how to explain what’s been left in it’s place except that it’s not there anymore.

Clarke isn’t in color either. She’s black and white, all greyscale. She’s huddled beside his window, pressed against the glass. His side is throwing some light onto hers, illuminating the small patch of something around her.

Bellamy sits down beside her, the glass separating them.

“Hey,” he says softly.

She looks up at him, and squints against the light, “Hi.”

“Everyone was worried that I hurt you by sharing the memory,” he admits, “it was kind of dumb of me to do that.”

“Oh,” she says. She sounds so tired. So unlike herself. She’s so weak that Bellamy thinks a stiff breeze could knock her over.

“Are you okay?” he asks.

She has to look away from him, out at the ruins of her mind.

“I think so?” she says.

She’s so clearly not okay, that Bellamy doesn’t know what to say to the fact that she can’t see it.

“I’m going to help you get better,” Bellamy promises, “that’s why you’re here, in my head. To give you a chance to heal. I’m training to teach you how to rebuild yourself.”

“I’m tired,” she admits.

He recognizes the dismissal.

“I’ll let you rest,” he says, “but you can call me whenever, okay? And you’re safe now. We’re going to get through this, Clarke.”

He turns to leave, before he remembers that he has messages to pass along. Maybe that will help cheer her up.

 

 

 

Clarke seems happy that she’s missed. But her eyes are half-lidded and she can’t maintain her smile. Bellamy leaves her be, and rejoins the real world. He reports to Russell what he’s seen. And then is told that, like building muscle, he’ll have to commune with Clarke daily, no matter how tired she is. Her mind has to stay active to repair itself, and they’ll have to begin building her mind up soon. Structure will help her get stronger.

Bellamy wants to let her rest. He thinks it’s cruel to be pushing her now, when clearly she needs a gentle hand. He’ll make it work as best he can.

Echo isn’t there when Bellamy crawls into bed. They’ve had opposite schedules for a while now, and he’s pretty sure it’s on purpose. Or maybe she mentioned something about going foraging tonight. He’s so tired. He’ll talk to her later.

Sleep has been hard. Apparently that’s common for fresh implants, for the first few days at least. Bellamy’s brain is sore, and his head is heavy. All he wants is to sleep.

He manages to doze, before Clarke roars out of her quiet space with intention to kill. Bellamy is caught completely unprepared.

He wakes everyone up with his screaming. 

 

 

“She forgot where she was,” Bellamy explains. His skin is still crawling with the sensation of being torn up from the inside-out. Emori is rubbing his back while he leans over a bowl— he thinks he’s done throwing up, but his stomach still feels uneasy. There’s blood dripping off his chin from his nose, and it still feels surreal to see black where it should be red. It makes it feel like his injuries are someone else’s.

“A relapse,” Abby declares, “it’s… it’s typical in traumatized people. They can forget where they are.”

“Well can we stop it happening again?” Murphy asks, “I’m not a big fan of my friends killing each other.”

“John,” Emori huffs, and she turns back to Bellamy, “what did Clarke say? About this?”

Bellamy shrugs.

“What did she say?” Abby demands, “you must have talked to her, right?”

“She’s tired,” Bellamy says, “she didn’t say anything.”

“She tried to kill you! Again!” Murphy points out.

“She heard me this time,” Bellamy says, “I know she’s sorry. She doesn’t mean it.”

It sure felt like she had intention to kill.

“We’ll need to do a scan of your brain tomorrow,” Abby says, “we have to make sure you aren’t being damaged by this.”

“And what if he is?” Emori asks, “then do we have to take Clarke out?”

“No,” Bellamy groans, “I’m fine.”

“Bell,” Murphy groans, and drags a hand down his face, “this is messing you up. The first time made sense, but you talked to her today. And then she turns around and tries to kill you. Raven said Clarke was all scrambled. Maybe she’s stuck in a ‘kill them all’ loop.”

“She’s hurt,” Bellamy says, and lifts his head to glare at Murphy. It’s the wrong thing to do, and his stomach instantly rebels against him.

“You’ve already done the impossible,” Emori consoles him, “but John is right. We can’t let her keep hurting you.”

“We’ll do the scan,” Bellamy says. He spits a final time into the bowl, “and we go from there.”

“It’s the early stages,” Abby agrees, “we don’t know what to expect.”

Emori and Murphy stay with him until he falls asleep.

 

 

Echo is there when Bellamy wakes up, sitting on the bed and watching over him.

“I heard it was a rough night,” she says.

Bellamy groans. His head aches, and the soft dawn light makes it worse. He rolls over and rests his head on her thigh. She runs her fingers through his hair. It doesn’t help with the ache, not really, but it feels nice. He’s happy she’s here.

She doesn’t say ‘I told you so’. He doesn’t fight her, not this time.

They don’t say anything. Instead, they wait for the sun to rise.

Chapter Text

Twenty-four to forty-eight hours. That’s when Russell says Clarke should wake up. And when she does, she’ll be reliving her last conscious moments. They don’t know if that means being victorious after having Josephine removed from her head, or if she was still swinging.

They’ve been preparing for the worst-case scenario. That Clarke is going to wake up and immediately try to kill him because she won’t know where she is. Bellamy’s pretty confident he can talk Clarke down. Talking to Clarke is one of the things he’s best at.

Until then, Bellamy has been working on this thing called a ‘mental palace’. It sounds weird, but Russell is making him try to imagine his mind like a physical place. That he can walk around in. It’s supposed to help him organize his memories, and keep his life in order. All the Primes do it. It’s all Russell can think of to help.

It’s also meant to act as a barrier. If Bellamy’s mind is well-structured and walled off, it will be harder for Clarke to accidentally kill him. Because just like Bellamy can accidentally overwhelm her, she could do the same. And there is no backup chip with Bellamy’s memories on it.

Plus, if Bellamy dies, Clarke won’t be stable enough to survive on her own. They’ll both go down, together.

It still feels strange that Bellamy only made this decision hours ago. Well, a day ago now. There hasn’t been enough time for things to change.

Echo has made it clear she hates this plan. She feels like Bellamy is walking around with a bomb in his head, pretending like it won’t go off. She’s not wrong.

Bellamy doesn’t see the point in fearing the future. He’s preparing as best he can, and he’ll handle things one day at a time. He’s not giving up on Clarke.

And at the moment, not giving up means sitting down for a proper meal for the first time in days. The saloon feels different. Most of the people of Sanctum (Sanctoniums, as Emori and Jordan want to call them. Echo thinks ‘Sanctonite’ is cleaner.) know that he is a nightblood now. And even though they’ve been freed from the Primes, they still look at him with awe.

He takes a seat at a table with Jordan and Raven. They’re picking at their plates.

“How’s your head?” Raven asks.

“Nothing yet,” Bellamy says.

Jordan stays quiet. He hasn’t spoken much at all since the counterattack. Bellamy wishes he knew what to say, in this loss of innocence. He’s glad Jordan didn’t kill anyone, that there was minimal bloodshed altogether. Hopefully Monty and Harper will forgive him for what he’s done to their son.

It doesn’t surprise him when Echo silently glides up on his side. She runs her fingers through his hair instead of speaking. It’s an apology for the fight they had earlier. About Clarke. Or as close to one as they’ll get, considering Bellamy won’t change his mind, and neither will Echo.

“Bellamy Prime,” Blythe-Ann greets as she sets down a drink in front of him. Echo’s fingers go still in his hair at the title.

“Bellamy Blake,” he corrects, and while he would love to have a drink, he’s banned from all mind-altering substances until Clarke is out of his head. So he says, “just a water and some food, please.”

“Of course,” she nods, and there’s clearly a moment where she swallows down the words ‘my Prime’, but she excuses herself all the same.

“Even though they know the Primes used them, they still stare at you like you’re special,” Jordan comments.

“Hard to break a lifetime of habit,” Bellamy says.

“Could be good to break a bad habit,” Echo points out.

“Are you joining us?” Bellamy asks pointedly. She’s not talking about the people of Sanctum.

“Yes,” she says, and sits beside him. Her hand trails from his hair to the top of his spine, just below the fresh incision. She keeps it there, possessive, threating and gentle all in one.

Raven’s eyes flicker between them, and Bellamy is sure she’s aware that they’re fighting. Or, at least, that Echo is upset. Raven had voiced concerns about this whole Clarke-chip idea too, even though it was her idea in the first place.

“How long has it been now?” Echo asks.

“A while,” Bellamy shrugs.

“We’re in the time frame Russell gave us,” Echo says, “Clarke will be waking up soon.”

That’s why she’s here. To save him if Clarke starts to kill him.

“If she wakes up,” Jordan mumbles darkly.

“She will,” Raven says, and gives him a gentle nudge with her elbow. She glances over at Bellamy, “you good?”

Bellamy’s been asked that so many times in the last twelve hours alone that he thinks he might start yelling if he hears it again.

He only just keeps himself from rolling his eyes as he says, “As good as I’ll ev-ev-ev—”

And between one syllable and the next he feels like he’s just been clubbed over the head. The lights all flare around him. He has a brief second to see Raven’s eyes going wide, to see Jordan rocking back in his chair.

The lights crescendo and he can’t see— his whole body seizes up. Something is pounding at his head— an enemy at the gates.

“I’ll kill you first!” Clarke screams, loud enough to rupture Bellamy’s eardrums. And she drives a knife into the heart of his mind.

Bellamy’s falling out of his chair. The ground is rushing up to greet him, and his entire body refuses to respond.

This all happens in the span of a few seconds.

Because what follows is, of course, the pain.



“Okay,” Abby says, “we’re done.”

He hears her walk across the lab.

Bellamy blinks his eyes open. The lack of sleep is catching up to him. Hopefully he’ll be able to sleep soundly tonight.

Abby is already pouring over the scans. Bellamy swings his legs off the examining table. His boots sound loud as he hits the floor. It’s the same table Clarke was laying on when they downloaded her mind. It’s the same room that Abby performed her miracle for the Primes of Sanctum— creating artificial nightblood— and where Bellamy proved to them that the process was safe. A lot of history packed into a few short weeks.

Sanctum as a whole is fairly warm, especially compared to the Ring. The lab is cooler, and Bellamy hunts for his jacket to throw on over his thin shirt before he joins the doctor.

There’s a few different scans. One is of his skull, and he can see the dark spot that is the chip connected to his spinal column. There’s dark tendrils weaving into his nerves there and securing the chip into place. It seems impossible that something so small could contain someone so huge. That someone like Clarke could be condensed to something the size of his thumb.

There’s other scans that have to do with areas of his brain that lit up or something. Abby was asking him a lot of questions or to think about things. Bellamy isn’t a doctor, so he doesn’t bother trying to decipher anything.

“What do you think?” he asks.

“So far everything looks healthy,” Abby says, “I think if there was any damage, it’s all superficial. No hemorrhaging.”

“I’m good?” Bellamy asks.

“You’re good,” she agrees.

Bellamy lets out a soft sigh of relief. Clarke’s attacked him twice now. The first time was expected, but was still one of the worst experiences of his life. Just like sneaking into Mt. Weather all those years ago, knowing things were going to be unpleasant didn’t make it any less so.

The second attack had been out of the blue. Somehow that almost hurt worse.

He’s not sure what he would have done if her attacks had actually done damage. If that were the case, there’s a chance that some people would demand he have Clarke removed. Bellamy will have to talk to her about that, and see if there’s any solution to be found.

On the other hand, this is Abby’s daughter they’re talking about. Maybe there’s a level of damage that Abby is willing to let Bellamy endure, if it means keeping Clarke alive.

Bellamy weighs each option carefully. Does he press the issue? Does he trust Abby not to kill him to get Clarke back? If she is leaving lasting damage on his mind, does he want Clarke out?

He knew it was a risk letting Clarke use him as her host. He was informed of more dangers after the fact. No, Bellamy decides, he doesn’t want to know. It wouldn’t change his decision.

“Then I’ll see you later,” he says, and taps the back of her chair twice as a goodbye.

He’s halfway across the room when Abby stops him.

“Bellamy,” Abby calls.

“Yeah?”

She turns in her chair, and she’s scrutinizing him. He instinctively straightens his back, and has to resist crossing his arms. Abby and Clarke have similar looks when they’re mentally stripping people into essential parts.

“What?” Bellamy asks, just to stop her.

She blinks one, twice, and then folds her hands in her lap, “Why did you do it?”

Bellamy frowns. Why does she care? He’s saving her daughter.

“What do you mean?” he asks.

“This entire procedure is dangerous,” Abby elaborates, “in the moment, I can understand what you were thinking. We thought it was the only way to save her. But the more we learned about the process, the more impossible it seems.”

“Impossible has never stopped Clarke,” Bellamy shrugs, “or us. Besides, you said it yourself, this is the only way to save Clarke.”

Abby breaks eye contact a moment to shake her head, “Bellamy you acted quickly to save your friend, but now with more information we know that the most likely outcome of this is that you die.”

“Do you want me to stop?” he demands.

“No,” Abby holds up her hands like she wants to placate him, “no, of course I don’t want you to stop. But I can’t understand why you would continue to do this to yourself.”

Bellamy shoves his hands in his jacket pockets, “Clarke’s my friend,” he says. Friend feels wrong. It’s not a big enough word to capture what Clarke and he are to each other.

“You two were— are— close,” Abby agrees, and she drops her hands to the armrests of her chair. She taps her fingers while she thinks of what to say next, “I don’t think any of Clarke’s other friends would have done this for her. In fact, I know several people who want you to stop.”

Bellamy immediately wants to argue. That’s not true. They would all die to save each other. And in the heat of battle, yes, that has been true. They’ve all risked life and limb to protect one another.

Abby has a point though. Maybe everyone else would have let Clarke go, and accepted what they considered the inevitable. Echo would have.

“Are you in love with Clarke?” Abby asks. It's a genuine question, not a statement of fact to be confirmed like most of her questions are. 

The question sends a chill down his spine, and for a moment Bellamy wonders if that’s Clarke reacting to her mother’s voice. But she can’t hear or see anything he can see. Their minds are completely separate.

It’s not the first time something of the sort has been implied or asked of him. Even way back in the beginning, before the Ark had come down from the sky, there had been rumors spread around that he and Clarke were sleeping together. Bellamy doesn’t think he and Clarke have ever talked about it. They know where they stand with each other, and they have a bond that’s hard to compartmentalize. It’s understandable that people assume they’re just sleeping together.

He supposes he could say he loves Clarke. In the same sense that he loves his sister, with all the complexities and layers to both relationships. But that would take a lot of talking, and even then Bellamy doesn’t think he’s capable of explaining himself properly.

“Does that change things?” Bellamy asks.

“It would make sense,” Abby says. Bellamy understands now. She’s trying to put him in a box, to figure out how to classify him, because then she can predict him. Then she can manipulate him if he starts to change his mind.

“Clarke gave her life to save us, during Primafiya,” he says, “and I never thought I’d get the chance to repay her for that.”

“You don’t have to kill yourself out of moral obligation,” Abby insists, “if you don’t want to do this Bellamy, no one will judge you.”

Bellamy wonders if she’s trying to manipulate him now. Trying to act sympathetic to him, to make him console her that he’ll do whatever it takes to save her daughter and strengthen his resolve to do so, so that he won’t even think of letting Clarke go.

When did he get so skeptical of people who are on his side? He shakes off the paranoid feeling.

Or maybe Abby cares about him. And she’s being practical. Even if this all goes right, they could still lose Clarke. In the end, all of this might be for nothing.

He shakes his head, “I made my choice. I’m not letting Clarke go.”

 

 

  

Swimming, Murphy thinks, is as close to heaven as he’s going to get.

Floating aimlessly, weightless so the mess of scar tissue over his body doesn’t ache, with the sun on his face and the cool water cradling him— it’s the best sensation in the world.

He wishes more people would tell him to go float himself. Because he would, happily. This is the best a man can get.

Bellamy spits out a mouthful of water as he surfaces nearby. He wipes his hair back from out of his eyes, and looks like a drowned rat with his hair all weighted down. Murphy laughs, and sweeps his arm in a wide arc to spray more water into his face. Bellamy chokes and ducks back under the water to hide.

Murphy’s half-expecting Monty to show up at any second. Monty would be calling them to come back to shore, until they could convince him to join in. Then he’d love it. And Harper. She would have raced into the water with Murphy, back on that first day, and Monty would have been so stressed about it. He’d perch on the edge of the lake with his worried little frown. Harper would have laughed long and hard at it.

Instead he hears Jordan’s voice, “I— I think I’m getting it?”

Jordan’s barely keeping his chin above the water, and he’s kicking his feet so hard it’s splashing everywhere. But he’s not drowning, which is an improvement from ten minutes ago.

“Yeah,” Murphy agrees, and his chest feels a little empty when he thinks of how Monty and Harper aren’t going to get to see their son learn to swim, “put your feet a little lower and—”

Bellamy lunges out of the water and tackles him mid-sentence, and the two of them crash under. Murphy twists out of his grip, and he can hear Bellamy laughing even in the water. Murphy’s the better swimmer— swimming was the one thing he and Emori couldn’t get enough of back on Earth— but Bellamy’s always been bigger than him, and so Murphy isn’t shocked when Bellamy gets a hold of his ankle and yanks him back into a bear hug.

Murphy’s also a cheater, so he throws an elbow to escape. He makes it a soft elbow, but Bellamy still grunts and almost lets up his hold. Murphy ducks under to find the bottom of the lake with his feet and kick off, but Bellamy jumps on him again. They wrestle, trying to pin the other underwater, until Murphy tries to climb over Bellamy with a hand on his head, and his fingers slip, and he scratches down the stitches on Bellamy’s neck.

Bellamy jerks away, immediately reaching back to check. He forgets to keep kicking his feet and sinks down enough to swallow some water. He’s choking by the time Murphy can get close to him again.

“Hey, hey, turn around and let me look,” Murphy insists.

It’s hard getting through Bellamy’s shaggy mess of hair, but the stitches are fine. Murphy waits a moment, looking to see if Bellamy’s bleeding or not. All he can see are a few faint red marks from his nails.

“You’re good,” Murphy dismisses him with a pat on the back.

Jordan has circled around to where he can touch the bottom again, and he’s taking a breather. Bellamy doesn’t say anything more, and surges forwards in the water with a few powerful strokes to go join him. Murphy lets him splash ahead. He takes a moment to breathe in and absorb the feeling of floating, and then follows after.

 

This trip was originally Murphy saying he’d like to ‘go for a walk’, followed by Murphy saying ‘it’s crazy hot out, right?’ as soon as they saw the lake, which led to Jordan missing the memo and suggesting they go back to the Saloon for cold water. Murphy has to remind himself that the kid has only know his parents for most of his life, and so he’s painfully honest and most suggestions go right over his head.

Actually, this trip started much earlier this morning when Echo and Emori cornered Murphy and told him he needed to talk to Bellamy or else. Jordan is just a decoy to help Bellamy lower his guard.

Jordan immediately rushes for his clothes to get dressed, as if going faster will keep them from seeing he’s naked. He’s so fast though that Murphy realizes he forgot what it was like to be young and nimble and quick. He and Bellamy both have old wounds on their legs, so they’re slower in hobbling out of the water and onto the rocky shore. Bellamy shakes off like he’s some big dumb animal, and Murphy waits to air dry like a normal person.

“So how’s it going?” Murphy asks, and when Bellamy glances at him for clarification Murphy points at his head. They’re both facing the lake to give Jordan some semblance of privacy.

Bellamy shrugs, “Fine.”

That’s not the right answer. Emori and Echo will kill him if he doesn’t come back with good intel, “That’s not what I mean and you know it.”

Wrong thing to say. Murphy can see Bellamy’s hackles come up, “Last night was a mistake—”

“Yeah, well, it scared me,” Murphy snaps, “I thought you were dying. And I couldn’t do anything to help.”

That softens him. Murphy’s heart has sped up, just thinking about it. Being asleep one moment, and the next hearing Bellamy yelling next door. He’d been unresponsive when they found him, fighting and pleading with a pain they couldn’t see.

“It won’t happen again,” Bellamy assures him. It’s as close to an apology as they’ll get here. Murphy can recognize when Bellamy’s planted himself on an issue. It takes a force of nature, or, hilariously, Clarke Griffin, to make him move.

“I’m not telling you off,” Murphy says, “I’m just wondering how you’re doing. We’re Kru, and you’re in a tight spot. Let me worry about you for once.”

Bellamy considers his words for a few moments. For a guy who loves making speeches, he clams right up in most other situations. Especially if he has to talk about himself. Murphy can relate, but he’s not the one who decided to risk melting his brain by putting a half-fried and mostly dead extra person into it.

Murphy wonders if there will be some karmic retribution for thinking of Clarke like that. Then he decides that she’d probably agree with him. And maybe even find it funny.

“There’s a lot of ways for this to go wrong,” Bellamy admits, “I know that. But I can’t let Clarke go without trying.”

“You don’t have to convince me,” Murphy says. Bellamy? Doing something crazy because Clarke is in danger? Murphy would be more alarmed if Bellamy wasn’t being reckless.

Bellamy gives him a half smile, “But, yeah. If you need to hear it: I’m scared. Last night hurt. A lot. But it doesn’t change my mind.”

Murphy wonders if he should hug him, or put a comforting hand on him or something. He’s saved from doing something awkward and embarrassing when Jordan interrupts them.

“Okay, I’m done! And not looking! You can get dressed now.”

“I can’t believe Harper’s kid is this scared about being naked,” Murphy mutters, “can you imagine if we told him his mom loved to go around topless?”

Bellamy snorts, and his smile is genuine, “Don’t be mean.”

“It’d be funny,” Murphy says, “might even blow his mind.”

Bellamy gives him a look, and he’s smiling which means he’s got something hilarious to say— and then his face goes blank. He’s staring out into space.

“Bell?” Murphy asks. His stomach drops. Is it going to happen again?

Bellamy blinks out of it just as quickly, “Sorry,” he mutters.

He turns and rushes to his clothes and dresses quickly.

“What was that?” Murphy calls after him, “what’s going on?”

Jordan’s curious too, though he’s trying to keep his eyes on the ground. How the hell this kid had gotten laid his first night with other people, Murphy can’t imagine.

“Just— just give me a second,” Bellamy says. He tugs his pants on, forgoes the shirt, and sits right down on the rocks.

“Is it Clarke?” Murphy asks. Now Jordan looks up, and they’re both staring at Bellamy.

“I think she wants to talk,” Bellamy confirms, “um, just— give me a minute.”

He closes his eyes, hands crossed in his lap with his legs crossed, with his back straight and chin held high. Murphy recognizes it as one of the meditative poses the Sanctonites use in their daily yoga. 

“Do you know how long this takes?” Jordan whispers.

Murphy shrugs. He goes back to his clothes and starts to get dressed himself.

Bellamy’s brows are furrowed, deep in concentration. And Murphy wants to make a joke about how if he sticks his tongue out he could focus better. And then something strange happens. Bellamy relaxes. His shoulders slump, his chin falls to his chest, and he curls forwards slightly. It’s like he’s just fallen asleep.

“Oh shit,” Murphy mutters. He’s doing it. He’s talking to Clarke.

It takes an instant for Bellamy to disappear inside his own head. And that’s all it takes for this concept of ‘Clarke is in Bellamy’s head’ to go from a concept, to being very, very real. Clarke is literally inside Bellamy’s head.

Murphy’s not sure why seeing it makes it so real to him now. Or why it being real feels like it changes things.

He makes sure not to disturb Bellamy or snap him out of his trance, but he takes up watch at Bellamy’s back. Like usual, Bellamy is doing the impulsive, dangerous thing. Murphy’s just here to catch him if he falls.

 

  

 

There’s cracks in the window when Bellamy steps behind the curtain. He thought he’d fixed all of them. Evidently he missed some.

Clarke is on the other side. She’s tracing her fingertips over them. That must be what he felt.

She’s not surprised to see him, but she does blink a few times like she was in a trance. There are dark bags under her eyes.

“Hey,” Bellamy says cautiously, “we good?”

Clarke circles her finger over a crack, and Bellamy feels his stomach twist at the sensation. She’s too close to getting in again. She’d been trying to get in last night, when she’d attacked him.

Mostly, she’d been attacking herself. Bellamy just happened to be collateral. There’s dried blood on her knuckles, and her fingers are swollen from hitting.

He steps forwards to place his hand on the window against hers.

“Clarke?” he asks again.

She presses her palm against the glass and spreads her fingers. Bellamy wordlessly mimics her. They’re so close to touching. He wishes he could touch her— brush her hair out of her face, help wipe the blood and grime from her skin. It hurts to look at her, to know she’s been hurt so badly.

“Do you know where you are?” he asks.

“Your mind,” she says softly, “I’m in a drive and the drive is in your head.”

For a second her eyes become very clear, and focused through the glass, “How can you be a host? Only a nightblood can be a host.”

“Your mom,” he explains, “she was proving that she could make artificial nightblood. They wanted one of us to test it, to prove it was safe. I volunteered.”

“Okay,” she accepts the information easily.

“Do you remember what happened last night?” he asks.

“Last night?” she repeats.

Right. She’d told Bellamy that she doesn’t know when or where she is.

“Do you know what caused these cracks?” he tries.

Clarke furrows her brows, frowning as she takes them in like she’s seeing them for the first time.

“Clarke that was you,” Bellamy reminds her, “you attacked me.”

She jerks her hand away like she’s been burned. She staggers back, away from the window.

“I wouldn’t!” she insists.

“You thought I was Josephine,” he says, “I understand. I’m okay.”

At the name, Clarke’s face twists into a snarl.

“She’s not here,” Bellamy says quickly, “she was removed. Remember? I told you that.”

Clarke’s face crumples, and she shakes her head. She looks around again, and she’s so small in the face of her destroyed expanse of a mind, that Bellamy wishes he could hold her. Give her something stable to latch on to.

“What’s happening to me?” she whimpers.

“You’re going to heal,” Bellamy assures her, “I’m going to help you.”

She stumbles forwards, and slumps down until she’s curled up at the corner of the window.

“I’m scared,” she whispers.

Bellamy kneels down beside her, as close as he can be.

“I know,” he says, “but we’re going to get through this.”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” she says.

“How can I help?” Bellamy asks.

Clarke shrugs. She holds up her hands like she’s holding some grand idea, but it slips away from her and her eyes well up with tears.

“I don’t know!”

On his side of things, Bellamy is in his own mind. He can control what happens here. He thinks quickly.

“Hold on a second,” he says, and races off behind the curtains.

He has to go down a few different rows of bookcases, which would be a maze to anyone else, before he can find where he kept this memory. It’s easy enough to copy it down, like taking notes from a book, and then he’s running back to Clarke.

She’s so boneless that he thinks she might have fallen asleep. Curled up against the window, with her head resting on the glass.

He’s not sure if he should wake her, so he moves quietly as he tapes this new thought— half-formed from a memory— to the window so Clarke can see it. She doesn’t stir, and he takes that as a sign that he should leave.

 

  

 

Bellamy is the only thing in her world that’s warm. Or cold. It’s the only temperature in her world. Sticking close to him gives Clarke the sense of what she’s missing. It’s both a relief and a pain— to be aware of how damaged she is, but also to soak up what it feels like to not be so broken. It’s part of why she can’t stay away. That, and, there’s nowhere else for her to go.

He’s not there when she opens her eyes. But there’s something new, on his side of this window into his mind. She pulls herself up to look at it. Like everything from Bellamy, it’s so vibrant and loud that it’s hard to look at, but she can read it all the same.

And just like the last time he showed her something, it’s not so much words on a page, as it is sensation.

Clarke is back at the dropship, all those years ago on Earth. She’s standing in the clearing that she called home for months with the other delinquents. There’s words scratched on the side of the ship. Once upon a time, Clarke knows that her mom wrote one the ship. A message, of hope, for her. To find her way home. 

But these aren’t the same words. This isn’t Bellamy’s memory of seeing those words. This is Bellamy taking inspiration from it, of making something entirely new, that still makes him think of the past.

The words read:

Clarke: you are safe.

I ’m here with you.

                   -B

Chapter Text

“I think we’re going to have to build you a safehouse,” Bellamy says, “to start.”

He’s sitting in front of the window, looking out into Clarke’s mind. She’s slouched up against it, eyes half-lidded, with her knees curled to her chest. The cracks are still there. As is Bellamy’s note to her. She told him she liked it.

She told him that touching his mind, even just the window to it, is the only thing that feels real or alive to her. It breaks his heart that he can’t touch her to prove to her that she’s alive too.

Clarke doesn’t move, but he knows she’s listening.

“That’s the first thing I had to do. I built up this place,” he nods behind him, “they said it had to be somewhere that I could spend eternity in.”

That makes her curious, and she opens her eyes a little wider.

“What did you build?” she asks, “the Ark? The Arkadia?”

“Well, it didn’t have to be anywhere I’ve actually been,” Bellamy can feel his ears heating up now. This feels like a private detail to his life, and he has to remind himself that they are literally inside of his mind. There’s no privacy here.

“I built the Library of Alexandria,” he says.

Clarke thinks back, trying to remember where she’s heard the name before.

“It’s super, super old,” Bellamy says, “it was super old to the original grounders. It was the pinnacle of human knowledge at the time of Alexander the Great. They’d take every single book that came into the city and make a copy of it. And then it got burned down, and so much information was lost that it set humanity back in development.”

Clarke absorbs it all, and then finally wrinkles her nose as she says, “A library?”

“I like reading,” Bellamy shrugs, and he looks away.

“Did you like the Ark library?” Clarke presses.

“Yeah,” Bellamy says, genuine.

The Ark library had consisted of several textbooks, instruction manuals on how to run the Ark, a handful of random books that the original scientists on the Ark had brought with them, two Christian bibles, and then three tablets hosting some more electronic books. In total, less than a hundred different readable items.

Bellamy had loved it. He’d first been taken there as a school field trip, and became obsessed with how stories could be written down and shared over the years. And the recording of history. It was one thing to hear about it, but something completely new to see it in person.

He often had to spend time away from home when his mother was entertaining guards or councilmen. He’d go to the library on mother’s orders and ‘stay out of trouble’. He became obsessed with some stories, and would recount them and act them out for his mother’s amusement. And then Octavia was born, and now Bellamy had a secret. He spent all his extra time in the room with Octavia, which meant he became estranged from his former friends. And so when he was forced out, he’d take to the library and be alone until he could get back to his sister.

The books also helped him make up new games to keep Octavia happy.

“It was special to me,” Bellamy explains. There’s so much more to it, but—

Clarke is staring at him now.

“What?” he asks.

“I saw all that,” she says, and looks away for a moment, “no, I… I lived it. Like when you told me about what happened to me— I was you—”

“My memories?” Bellamy realizes, “you were seeing my memories?”

She nods, just as startled, “And I felt them.” She touches her chest, over her heart, “your mom… I miss my dad like that too.”

Bellamy’s stomach turns in knots. Clarke knows how deeply ashamed and angry he was growing up, knowing what his mother was doing. Knowing Octavia had to live so afraid of the world she didn’t even know. That his whole life was turned upside-down because of his mother’s choices, and her children were the one to pay for it.

His mother has been dead for nearly 200 years. She’s cosmic dust, still orbiting Earth or off in the stars now. And he misses her every day.

“Sorry,” he says.

Clarke gives him a sad smile, “It’s okay. I… I’m realizing I didn’t really know who you were before the ground.”

Bellamy shrugs, “I’d heard of you,” he gives her.

“I heard about your sister,” she adds, “so I guess I heard about you too.”

“Funny to think that we might never have met,” Bellamy says, “if we’d stayed.”

Clarke can laugh with him at that, at trying to imagine their lives without each other. It’s like trying to imagine trees without wind, or the sun without heat. It doesn’t make sense.

“Is it weird that I think the Ark was peaceful?” Clarke admits, “looking back on it. People were executed all the time. We were starving. Living on top of each other like rats.”

“But it was… predictable,” Bellamy says, “it was all we knew.”

“I couldn’t go back,” Clarke admits.

“Going back to the Ring almost killed me,” Bellamy says.

Clarke’s lips twist in a wry grin and she doesn’t even need to say what she’s thinking. Bellamy frowns at her through the glass.

“That’s not funny,” he says.

“Murphy would think so,” Clarke says.

Bellamy can’t disagree. He has to turn away to hide his smile.

They sit in silence for a little longer, enjoying the easy feeling of it.

“So this safe space…” Bellamy starts again.

“I can’t believe you’re such a nerd,” Clarke teases.

“Shut up,” Bellamy groans, “it’s really nice, okay? What did you think I’d have as my safe space? A— a, uh, a a gun range? A fast ship?”

Clarke thinks for a moment, “Open field. Just you and the rover. And then a little village that you were mayor of.”

“So you think I like to be in control?” he asks.

“It comes naturally to you,” she says as means of agreement, “plus…” She trails off suddenly, and then shakes her head.

“Say it,” Bellamy says, “I want to know.”

Clarke wrinkles her nose and shakes her head again.

“Clarke,” he says.

“There would be a lot of women,” Clarke says, and she’s got that twisted grin on again, “and a lot of men who wanted you.”

Bellamy feels like he’s being scolded, “Is that who you think I am? Do you really think I’m some sex-obsessed—”

And then he’s struck by overlapping images. Of him. Bright sunlight, curled hair that’s been shaken from it’s slicked back look by Earth’s humidity. He’s still clean from the Ark, and pale, but he’s taken to the sun better than most of the delinquents. He’s only 22, and the Earth feels like a rebirth. His shoulders are broad, his shirt tight across his chest, and he’s laughing as he says something, and Bellamy doesn’t even know what he’s saying, but he can tell he’s being cocky and flirty, and the teens are eating it up. They’re hanging on his every word.

He’s staring at himself and thinking ‘oh he’s cute’ before it becomes smothered with irritation and a low-simmering rage for how Bellamy keeps inspiring anarchy and how he’ll get them all killed.

And then Bellamy is back, himself again, and staring across the window at Clarke.

Clarke doesn’t act like anything happened, until she notices he’s stopped talking. So she looks up and sees her staring at him. Her eyes go wide.

“Wait. Did you—”

“You thought I was cute?” Bellamy asks.

“It-it was a long time ago,” Clarke admits.

“I thought you hated me,” Bellamy says.

“I did,” Clarke says quickly, too quickly. She and Bellamy are looking at each other now, and she feels more alive than she has the entire time he’s known her.

“But I’m glad I changed my mind,” she says. She crosses her arms over her chest and looks away, trying to hide how uncomfortable she feels that he saw those memories.

Bellamy has to get her back for making fun of him earlier, “Changed your mind on hating me, or changed your mind on thinking I’m—”

 

Bellamy jolts awake as Raven shakes him gently. He’s in bed, in Sanctum. Laying on his back.

“Hey, hey big guy,” she says, “easy there. You okay?” She’s propped up on the bed, leaning over him.

Bellamy feels distinctly like he’s in two places at once. The confusion must show on his face.

“You were talking, and getting all twitchy,” Raven says, “I thought it was another Clarke thing.”

Bellamy lets out a long sigh, and drags his hand down his face. His other hand is pinned under Murphy, who’s sleeping co close to him that he might as well fuse himself to Bellamy already. It’s still dark, and the moon is the only light. He’d originally gone to bed— tonight with Raven and Murphy refusing to let him be alone, while Echo and Emori got a night off from looking after him— but still hadn’t been able to fall asleep. So he’d decided to try meditating again, to quiet his mind, and instead found himself…

“It was a Clarke thing,” he says. He can see the glint of Raven’s eyes as they go wide, so he adds, “we were just talking.”

“Is she okay?” Raven asks. Her voice is a low whisper, and she’s close enough that Bellamy can smell her breath.

“Yeah. Just reminiscing.”

He almost wants to tell Raven that Clarke used to think he was cute. So she can laugh with him about how funny that is. But that would require trying to explain how they can project memories at one another, and the intensity of experiencing the rapid-fire thoughts of someone’s memories on a subject. Also, it would sound like he’s bragging.

“Wha’s goin on?” Murphy groans.

“It’s all good,” Raven says dismissively.

Murphy grunts an agreement, and throws his arm over Bellamy’s stomach before he drops back to sleep.

“You good?” Raven checks in.

“I’m good,” Bellamy assures her. That’s enough conversation for her, and she settles in on his side, opposite from Murphy. They have to adjust so he can shove his arm up under her pillow, and she tugs and wiggles her unresponsive leg into place before letting out a long sigh. She brings a hand up to tangle her fingers in the hem of his shirt. It’s uncharacteristically clingy for Raven.

He waits a moment, wondering if she was just getting comfortable, but she keeps her hold.  

“Are you good?” he dares ask.

She’s quiet a moment before he hears her soft, “Yeah.”

It’s a lie. Bellamy’s head feels like it’s full of rocks, and his thoughts are moving through sludge. He’s just so tired.

Raven shifts closer, using his shirt as leverage to pull herself in. Bellamy stays still and lets her approach so he doesn’t scare her off. Now she tucks herself against him, mirroring Murphy’s closeness. He’s almost uncomfortable, pressed between the two of them like this. The last time they slept like this, this close, was back on the Ring.

Oh.

Bellamy’s been so busy dealing with Sanctum, Josephine, and now Clarke in his head, that he hasn’t let himself stop long enough to remember what he’s lost in the last few weeks alone.

Six years on the ring. Six years of just the seven of them, keeping each other sane and in check. Six years of survival, of living, of laughing and crying and long nights and longer days. Six whole years.

Six years, and within a month, or what feels like it, Monty and Harper are gone. Bellamy still aches for everyone he’s ever lost. But there’s a special kind of pain for losing people who had become a part of him.

Raven and Murphy must be feeling just as lost as him. Echo and Emori too. Bellamy still can’t understand why Monty and Harper would do this to them. To have a child, to raise their child, without their family. That they would choose to die, to be alone, rather than live with the people that loved them. It’s a slap in the face. A callous, selfish decision without any regard for how it will impact everyone else.

It’s almost like choosing to be the host to a damaged mind drive.

Bellamy could curse himself for being so stupid. He’s been obsessed with how to save Clarke, and all the ways to fend off anyone wanting to convince him that he should let her go. He hasn’t been thinking at all about what his family must be going through. They’re afraid that they’re going to lose him too.

The moon continues through it’s arc, and Bellamy wishes he could sleep. The allure of going back to Clarke is strong. He’s not even sure how long he spent with her this time, before Raven pulled him out. Instead he stays present, listening to Raven’s soft snores, laying on her stomach with her face turned into his shoulder. Murphy clings in his sleep, eventually hooking his leg over Bellamy’s like he wants to restrain him.

Bellamy thinks about when Clarke had described a happy place for him. A little town of people who adored him.

He thinks of the Ring again. Of his found family. Clarke hadn’t been that far off.

Bellamy needs to do something for his people. To show them that he’s not abandoning them. And everything will be okay.

 

 

 

“Has anything new happened?” Russell asks when Bellamy joins him for a session.

Bellamy shrugs, “No damage to my mind. I talked to Clarke, and she hasn’t attacked me again.”

“You look exhausted,” Russell notes.

“Not sleeping well,” Bellamy agrees.

Russell nods. He’s been compliant and agreeable through this whole thing, but he’s been clear from the start that he is positive that Bellamy is going to die.

“That’s typical,” Russell says, and then adds, “you will continue to be sleepless, which will lead to a stroke or a seizure, you will probably collapse and then never wake up.”

Bellamy isn’t sure how to respond, because he’s already decided to do this. It’s not like any of this is news to him. Russell is just telling him he’s an idiot.

He decides on, “Did you sleep last night?”

“No,” Russell growls.

“Sounds like it,” Bellamy says.

Russell lets out a long sigh, and shuffles to his window to open the shutters. Early Sanctum light fills the room.

“I talked with Clarke again last night,” Bellamy says, “she was more responsive.”

“She’s waking up, regaining strength,” Russell agrees, “soon she’ll be strong enough to really do some damage.”

Bellamy thinks to the cracks in the window of his mind. To the pain Clarke had inflicted on him. If that was Clarke at her weakest, he’d hate to suffer the wrath of her at full strength.

It occurs to him that Clarke had taken Josephine on, at a disadvantage, and weakened, and still kicked her ass. He feels a glowing sense of pride.

“So what’s the next step?” Bellamy asks. He carefully lowers himself down onto the meditation mat so he can take off his shoes.

“In our experience it was the overlap of two minds that caused the brain to self-destruct,” Russell says, “to be frank: two functional minds are too large for one brain to handle. It overloads.”

“The plan is to get Clarke functional again,” Bellamy points out.

“So we have to keep you two strictly separated. Nothing comes in or out of your minds,” Russell instructs, “your mind is already fortified. Continue building your defenses. Now you have to get Clarke to build hers.”

“How?” Bellamy asks, “do I coach her through it?”

“She needs a place of safety, to retreat to. Just as you built your mind as a haven for yourself, she must do the same.”

Bellamy pictures Clarke’s destroyed mindscape. How she didn’t go anywhere, instead choosing to stay at the entrance to his own mind, “I don’t know if she has anywhere to go.”

“She has to build it,” Russell insists, “that is the goal of this whole ordeal. So, where would she go?”

Clarke’s words come back to him. ‘I guess I never knew who you were before the ground’. There has never been a truly safe place for them since they went to Earth. They’d both agreed that not even the Ark was truly safe, and Clarke said she wouldn’t go back. So… none of those work.

The dropship? No. Too many dead there. Clarke had barely lived in Arkadia. Polis? Where Lexa died? There’s a chance that might be where she wants to go, but it’s also likely that she has too much pain attached to the city.

Bellamy almost went to the Ring, to create his mindscape. But the loss of Monty and Harper is too fresh for that to be a happy place. He’d get trapped in his memories of good times, and wouldn’t be able to leave.

“I have an idea,” Bellamy says, “I think I know what she’d want, but I don’t know about it.”

“You took on healing the mind of someone you don’t know?” Russell asks.

Bellamy stays quiet. He’s not going to waste time explaining himself to someone who won’t understand.

Russell scoffs, and shakes his head, “I wonder if the radiation you lived in altered your brains at a genetic level. Your people are so reckless. Do you wonder if you’ve evolved into a different species?”

“No,” Bellamy bites out, “I don’t. Tell me how to help Clarke build a mind palace.”

Russell nods sagely, “If her mind has not naturally made a safe place, it means she does not have any left. Or has lost them all to the… damage. So you will have to force her to make one. It will feel unnatural to her, as you will be directing her mind. Our hope is that at some point she takes creative control and changes it to suit her needs, if she recovers enough about herself to know what she wants.”

Bellamy mulls it over, wondering if he wants to know the answer to his question, “And what if she doesn’t get herself back?”

“She may become stabilized,” Russell says, “but she will be a shell of her formal self.”

 

 

 

 

Madi is with Indra, and she’s teaching Indra the very complicated game of hop-scotch that she learned in Sanctum school. There’s a handful of Sanctum children watching them from a distance, and Bellamy wonders how long it will be before they can resist the urge to join in. He’s slow in approaching. His knees are stiff from kneeling for so long, and his body aches from not sleeping.

Indra is learning it with all the focus and intensity she puts into everything she does.

“Bellomi,” she calls.

Bellamy has always liked the way she says his name. It has a very hard Trigedasleng accent to it, rounding the sound where everyone says ‘ah’ in his name, to an ‘oh’ sound. He wonders if she does it on purpose, sometimes, to make sure he knows he’s an outsider.

Madi’s head snaps up from where she was concentrating on hopping over square number four.

“How’s Clarke?” she asks.

“Pretty good,” Bellamy says, “all things considered.”

“Did you tell her I love her?” Madi demands.

Bellamy nods, “Yeah, I did. She loves you too.”

Madi’s smile is all teeth. It even reaches her eyes. She turns back to the game, pauses to pick up her rock in the square, and finishes her turn.

“Good to see you are not dead,” Indra says dismissively. She tosses her stone into square five. It bounces for a moment, almost outside of the boundary, but remains. Bellamy doesn’t comment when he sees Indra’s smug smile.

“Planning to stay that way,” Bellamy agrees, “so I need some help.”

Indra pauses in square three to glare at him.

“Madi, can I borrow you for a bit?” Bellamy asks.

“For Clarke?” Madi clarifies, “I’ll do anything.”

“We are busy right now,” Indra says, and she’s distracted enough that she nearly loses her balance and has to hop to readjust. Her foot lands on the line between two squares.

Madi points at her foot, “You lose!”

Indra’s nostrils flare, but she holds her composure.

“We’re just having lunch,” Bellamy says, “you’re welcome to join us.”

Indra glares at the Saloon. Most of the earth-born don’t like the food in Sanctum. Sanctum has many spices and such that they didn’t have access to, and as such the food is often overwhelmingly flavorful. Plus the sugar made most of the earth-born go wild for a little while. As of right now, they’ve all unofficially declared the Saloon as off-limits.

Bellamy finds it hard to disagree with them. Most of Sanctum’s food still upsets his stomach, but thankfully Blythe-Ann has learned how to cook for them. Everyone not from Sanctum gets meat and basic vegetables as their standard, and if they’re feeling adventurous, some seasoning called saltandpepper.

“I will see if Octavia has returned,” Indra announces instead.

Bellamy wants to walk away from that, but instead he asks, “How’s she doing?”

“You could speak to her yourself,” Indra points out.

He could. He wants to. He’s just… he’s busy.

“Tell her I said hey. If you see her,” Bellamy says, and turns to walk away.

“Of course, Bellomi,” she says.

Madi falls into step with him.

“We couldn’t have won without your sister,” Madi says.

“I know,” Bellamy agrees, “but we have history.”

“You love her, right?” Madi asks.

Bellamy’s chest gets tight. He’s not ready to have this conversation with Octavia, or anyone, let alone himself.

“Yeah,” he grunts.

“You should tell her,” Madi says, and she’s so wise for her age that Bellamy wonders if this is her speaking, or the decades of knowledge stored in the Flame shining through, “if you wait to long you may never get the chance.”

“You’re too smart for me,” he deflects, and ruffles her hair. She squeals, and ducks away from him to get out of his reach. He keeps being thrown at how young she is. He’s reminded of Octavia at that age.

“What are we talking about?” she asks.

“I want to know all about Shadow Valley,” he says, “where you and Clarke lived. I have to help her rebuild it in her mind, so she has somewhere safe to go.”

Madi is bouncing on her toes now, all grave seriousness washed away in the face of a child full of excitement, “That’s my happy place too!”

“Perfect,” Bellamy says. She’s too fast for him, and has to force herself to slow to his pace when she clearly wants to charge ahead.

“Can I have a cookie?” Madi asks. He sees Octavia in her face. ‘Can I go outside?’

“Yeah,” Bellamy says. Then he realizes he probably shouldn’t let her go wild on sweets, “but, uh, only after you finish your food.”

Madi pouts, looking up at him, and then her face lights up with delight, “Did Clarke say that?”

Bellamy wonders when he started sounding like one of the adults. It occurs to him, suddenly, that he’s always been an adult to Madi. Clarke is her mom. He’s older than Clarke. By child standards, she must think he’s ancient. He doesn’t want to crush her, but he doesn’t want to lie.

“No,” he says, “but I’m sure she’d agree with me.”

Madi nods in agreement.

“Okay,” she declares, and claps her hands together loudly. They’re just arriving at the Saloon and clearly she can’t wait any longer, “so we made a sign with our handprints on it. Clarke put pink, and I put yellow. It pointed to home.”

 

 

 

“The valley?” Clarke repeats. She’s a little slower, like she’s half asleep.

“You and Madi had a home there,” Bellamy says from his side of the glass. He’s kneeling, because standing over Clarke felt weird, but this isn’t a conversation to be had sitting down. Also, his knees don’t ache here. He could probably do cartwheels if he wanted to.

“Madi,” Clarke says, and furrows her brow. Her eyes light up as she speaks, “the sign!”

“Do you remember it?” Bellamy asks.

Clarke turns from him, like she’s going to run away, and in the blink of an eye her worldscape has shifted. They’re standing at the edge of Nothing, one of the open wounds Josephine clawed out. On the edge, a post stuck in the ground, is a sign. It says ‘The Griffin’s’, with an arrow leading into the Nothing.

“Josephine must have known that this memory meant a lot to me,” Clarke reasons, “she ripped it right out.”

“Or she was making sure you had no safe place to retreat to,” Bellamy says, “either way, she was always trying to kill you.”

“I can’t believe I’ve forgotten it…” Clarke trails off, and she sounds like she’s in pain. She slumps back against the window, and Bellamy wishes he could catch her.

“It might not be gone forever,” he tries, “so she scooped things out, and threw them around. We can clean up the mess.”

Clarke nods. Bellamy is being hit with an overwhelming wave of sadness from her— of guilt, that she’s lost this important memory when it concerns Madi. What kind of mother is she if she would forget where she and her child made a home? He also feels the ringing echo of the space where the memory of this place should be.

“Madi told me about it,” Bellamy says. He has the memory in his hands. A small book, a journal to be filled up. It’s going to be all of the information they need to make Clarke whole again.

Clarke turns to face him. She has both palms on the window, her nose almost pressed to the glass.

“Tell me about it,” she says.

“Okay,” Bellamy says. He opens the book, and Madi’s words come flying off the page.

She was animated, waving her fork around while she ate. She was delighted to be important to the process. She was determined, serious in how badly she tried to explain every little detail. Every little stone, every tree. How they spent their hours. The foods Clarke cooked. Where Madi learned to sew. The afternoons they’d spend in the summer, dying their hair with berries. The warm nights of laying outside and looking up at the stars.

Clarke cries through a lot of it. Bellamy can feel how much she misses her, right now. He tears up too. They laugh at Madi’s antics together. Clarke delights in Madi’s smile when she has her first bite of her cookie. She laughs out loud when Madi’s pouting face convinces Bellamy to let her have a second.

“Did that help?” Bellamy asks.

Clarke closes her eyes, and tries to focus, “It’s hard to hold on to,” she admits, “I can feel it— it’s real, when you’re showing me. But after it… it just fades away.”

“Maybe because it’s my memory?” he guesses, “try making it yours. Picture yourself there. Build it from what Madi told you. I’ll remind you of any details you need. You can do this.”

She nods, and takes a deep breath. They both know how it will go if Clarke can’t shape up her mind. They’re already on borrowed time.

“Okay,” she says on her exhale, “let’s get started.”

Chapter Text

It’s late afternoon by the time Bellamy is done with Clarke. He leaves Russell’s chambers feeling disoriented. He and Clarke had poured over ever little detail that Madi had provided, and every piece of Bellamy’s memories of Shadow Valley, to build a construct of her home there. It had collapsed several times. They’d built it up just as many.

At one point Clarke had screamed, thrown a fit in frustration, and faded out. Like she was a projection and had just… stopped existing. Bellamy had called out after her for what felt like hours until she’d dragged herself back and could be convinced to try again.

It’s bright outside, and he has to blink against the light. While his mindscape was well-lit, he hadn’t been using his physical eyes there. In reality he’s been sitting in a room with his eyes closed for hours. His knees are stiff.

He’s debating what to do with himself, when he catches sight of his sister.

Octavia had been helpful in connecting with Gabriel, and thus overthrowing the Primes, but now they’re back to where they started. Bellamy hasn’t banned her from Sanctum again. But he’s not sure if he wants her to stay. Just looking at her hurts.

He thinks back to Raven and Murphy clinging to him because they were afraid of what they could lose. About how scared he is to lose Clarke. People die when there’s still so much to be said, and so much to regret. Everything could change in an instant.

He squares his shoulders and approaches her. She’s dressed like the Children of Gabriel, adorned in robes that have been embroidered with all sorts of meaning, and carries a tall walking staff. Like the rest of them, she shows Gabriel’s touch. A streak of white hair that frames one side of her face. She looks calm. Not like she’s being eaten alive from the inside out by her rage and regret.

She looks like a stranger. A stranger with his sister’s features, and Bellamy feels like he barely recognizes her anymore.

She meets him halfway, and they wordlessly direct themselves to the edge of the city. From here they are alone and can look out over the fields, and into the wild unknown. It’s beautiful in a way that it is nothing like Earth. And yet this is the norm here. This is a plain, unremarkable day in Sanctum. This is home.

“You look like shit,” she says as a conversation starter.

He almost laughs at that, “Haven’t been sleeping well,” he admits.

“It shows,” she says, and then they fall silent. They stop walking and stand at the edge of the cliff surrounding the city. Bellamy waits for her to speak.

“I spoke with Gabriel,” she breaks the silence, “I told him what you’d done. For Clarke.”

So that’s where she’d gone to. Bellamy had half-wondered if she’d gone off to the woods to never return.

“Okay,” he says, to show that he’s listening. Was she being an informant for Gabriel? Is that why she ran to him without telling anyone where she was going?

“He doesn’t know anything that could help you,” Octavia says, “and he says it’s foolish to try.”

She’d gone to try and help. Bellamy likes that.

“He thinks we should let Clarke die too?” Bellamy sighs. The old man makes Bellamy’s hair stand on end. A human now completely one with nature— capillary system, nervous system, everything, composed of xylem and phloem or whatever the plans here used. All tapped into Gabriel’s mind drive and communicated without words. It sounds like a horror story. Bellamy still thinks it is a horror story. But at least Gabriel isn’t killing people to continue living.

“Life and death are natural,” Octavia says. It’s with the same air of authority and detachment that Madi gets when she’s speaking from the Flame. It’s Octavia’s own words, her own thoughts, and yet Bellamy knows for a fact these ideas were born from someone else’s mind. Whatever Gabriel did for her, Bellamy hopes it will let her find peace with herself.

“There is a natural cycle to things,” Octavia continues, “we are born, we grow, and we die. It’s not evil. It just is.”

“I have a chance to save Clarke,” Bellamy reminds her, and he finally looks at her when he says, “I’m not letting her go.”

Octavia nods, her expression serene and cool composure. She looks up to meet his eyes, and then her mask breaks. She bites her lip, tries to hold her herself together even as her face crumples, and then whimpers, “I don’t want you to die.”

Bellamy’s speechless. His nearly leaps to comfort her.

“O,” he pleads, “O, stop that. I’m not dying.”

“You are,” she snaps. And it’s like she’s 6, 9, 11, all over again and begging to leave the room. Begging not to be put under the floor. Crying into his shirt at night because she’s so angry at being unwanted.

“I can’t lose you,” she pleads, “not yet. Not while you hate me.”

It’s on Bellamy’s tongue to say the opposite. To take it all back, to make her feel better right now. But he’d meant it. He’d said that he wished she wasn’t born. That he wished she was dead. Then he’d refused to let her into civilization, sentencing her to exile in a completely unfamiliar wilderness.

Can he forgive all the things she’s done? To people he cares about? To him? Can he forgive the person she’s become?

He’s not sure he was ever ready to have this talk with her. He doesn’t want to have it with himself.

“I’ve said some awful things to you,” he agrees, “And I’ve hurt you. But you are my sister, and I know I still care about you.”

He means it as a peace offering. An olive branch. She sees it as a barb.

“Do you?” she growls, “could you? After everything I’ve done? After everything you’ve done? Can we still use our relationship as an excuse? Is that what siblings do? They always forgive each other, no matter what?”

It’s no small secret that they’ve never known how their relationship is supposed to go. There are no blood relations on the Ark other than parent and child. The entire concept of sibling has been foreign and mysterious and the two of them have always had to make it up as they went along.

Bellamy thinks of Clarke. If it’s forgiveness you want. Why could it be so straightforward with her? Why is this harder with his own sister? Bellamy and Clarke have done terrible things in the name of their people, but they often went into the darkness together. Is that why? Because if he couldn’t forgive Clarke, he couldn’t forgive himself?

“If you don’t care, then why worry about me?” he rebukes.

She nods, caught by her own emotions, “You were the only good thing in my life,” she says, “and I want to have my brother again.”

“You tried to kill me,” Bellamy says bluntly, “that’s not love.”

She sucks in a ragged breath, “Yeah. Yeah, I did. I can’t take it back. I’m sorry, Bellamy. I did bad things. And I have to live with them. But I can finally see clearly now. And I realized that you’re something rare. A good person. This world needs good people. I was too close to you— to angry about being under the floor, about being different, to realize how good you were. And then I stayed blind to it.”

“I’m not perfect,” he warns her. That kind of mindset leads to dangerous places too.

“No,” she agrees, “I don’t think that. But your heart is good. And I don’t want to lose you.”

It falls heavy, the apology. The confession. Bellamy focuses on his breathing. Somewhere beyond the radiation field, birds are singing in the trees.

Bellamy could twist the knife. He could hurt her with all the things she’s done. And they would remain at each other’s throats. It would feel satisfying to have her beg for his forgiveness.

He’s so tired. He doesn’t have the strength to keep fighting.

“I hurt you too,” Bellamy finally says, “and I said things that I regret. I never wanted you dead, Octavia. Death was just… it’s just easier. Sometimes. Things got complicated. I wanted to go back, to before, when you trusted me. And I could trust you.”

She nods in understanding.

“Anyone else,” she laughs to herself, and tries again, “there is no one else in the world for me, do you understand that? No one else that I need to have in my life, like I need to breathe. The universe made us siblings for a reason, I’m sure of it. Because if you weren’t my brother… no one could have reached me.”

She’s trying. Bellamy doesn’t know if there are words enough for what she did to him, and how she hurt him. But he can see that she’s trying. And maybe, just maybe, that’s a good enough start. He’s not ready to welcome her back, to completely forget the past, but he’d like to move to a future where loving her is uncomplicated again. Cutting her out has felt like losing a limb.

“I’ve never loved anyone like I loved you,” Bellamy offers, and he waits until she looks up at him before he says, “and I still do.”

“I love you too,” Octavia whispers, “it’s messed up to say, but I love you too.”

Part of him wants to hug her. He sees her hand twitch on the staff. Maybe she wants the same. Bellamy doesn’t know if it’s the right thing to do. He doesn’t move. Neither does she.

“So where do we go from here?” Bellamy asks, “how do we… how do we make a new normal?”

“There’s brothers and sisters here,” Octavia says, “I met some of them. Maybe we could… we could talk to them. To see what it’s supposed to be like?”

“Our problems are a little bigger than what the people here deal with,” Bellamy says.

“But maybe they know how brothers and sisters forgive. Or… how they love?” Octavia tries.

Bellamy thinks on it a moment, and nods, “Okay. I can try.”

“I… I would like to earn your trust,” she says softly, “and to be friends again.”

“I’d like that,” Bellamy agrees.

They watch the sun go down.

 

 

 

 

 

The saloon is busy with dinnertime activities when Bellamy makes his way inside. He tries not to be bothered by all the Sanctonites (Sanctoniums? What the hell should they be calling them?) that stop to stare at him. There’s hushed whispers of Bellamy Prime around tables.

His family is off in a corner, keeping to themselves. Jordan is the only one who regularly goes out to mingle with the local people, and everyone else still keeps to themselves. Bellamy supposes he should follow Jordan’s lead, to get more integrated, but he doesn’t have the energy to be friendly to new people right now.

Jordan is, coincidentally, sitting with a local family and making faces with one of the younger kids. He’s laughing. It’s nice to see.

Echo spots Bellamy coming and shifts over to make a spot beside her for him to pull a chair to. Raven and Emori, who were dominating the conversation, stop talking and everyone waits to see if he has something to say.

“How’s it going?” he says, instead of talking about Clarke. He’s trying to be present for them. To stop them from being scared about losing him.

He gets some confused looks.

“With the Primes,” he decides, “do we have a plan for them yet?”

While they don’t want to continue letting the Primes live off the sacrifice of the people of Sanctum, they also don’t want to kill them. Turning a new leaf, as it goes. So while all the Primes are in lockdown, confined to their rooms with guards stationed at the doors, Bellamy isn’t sure what to do next. He’s been too busy with Clarke to join in on meetings, and regrets it a bit.

“Not much, yet,” Emori finally says, “although some of the, uh, the people here. They said that they want Abby to make them nightbloods so they can ‘serve their Primes’.”

Raven twists her face into a scowl, “We tell them what the Primes were doing to them, and they still want to do it.”

“It’s all they know,” Echo shrugs, “they would do anything for their leaders.”

It’s spoken with enough conviction that she reminds them all that she is the same way. Bellamy is aware of this quality in her. It’s dangerous and terrifying all in one. Her loyalty is a heavy burden, and a powerful weapon. He’s used it more than once.

“Kane wants to integrate them into society,” Murphy says, “he thinks that it’s time the Primes face their morality, and they should be free to live their lives like any human. And then when they die, that’s it. They’re dead.”

Bellamy usually expects Echo to make some physical contact by now. She likes to put a hand on him when they’re sitting together. He glances at her, but she’s staring ahead.

“But how do we keep them from hijacking people in secret?” Bellamy asks.

“We can’t,” Raven says simply, “hence: we don’t know what to do.”

“The next meeting is tomorrow?” Bellamy asks, and when he gets a nod of confirmation he says, “I’ll be there. I can work with Clarke after.”

He regrets mentioning her, because he wanted this to be just them, without Clarke. Bellamy sees several questions forming, so he barrels ahead with his big idea.

“Tomorrow night— should we, uh, we should do something. Together. Just us. To celebrate.”

Murphy looks skeptical, “What, like a party? Are you trying to throw a party?”

“We’re here,” Bellamy says, “we made it. I was thinking we should do something nice for ourselves. For this family. We could even turn it into a goodbye for Harper and Monty if—”

“No,” Emori says bluntly.

Bellamy’s surprised by that. Emori isn’t often so outspoken.

“I’m not celebrating being the only ones left. Not after Harper, or Monty, and now you,” she snaps, “that’s sick.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Bellamy insists.

“You’re not going to be here,” Emori says, “because you’re going to be dead in a few days! And you want to celebrate?”

“I’m not dying,” Bellamy sighs. Fuck, he’s so tired. He doesn’t have the patience for this.

“You are,” Raven chimes in, and she sounds like her voice is going to crack, “you are dying, Bellamy. You’re doing something with a 100% fatality rate.”

“This is different,” he insists.

“It’s not!” Raven shouts, and she slams her hands down on the table, “you can’t just be stubborn and think it will all work out! Your brain is going to blow up. You’re doing to die!”

Conversation around the saloon has quieted. Everyone is beginning to take note of the fight happening.

“I won’t,” Bellamy snaps, “I’m not planning on dying. Clarke and I are working hard to get her back on her feet, okay? But— but I wanted to do something, with all of us, because I know that it hurt you, after Monty, and Harper, to think that I was going to leave too—”

“Are you taking Clarke out?” Emori cuts him off.

Bellamy’s shoulders feel tight like a coiled spring. It’s like he’s walking into a trap, and he knows it.

“No,” is all he says.

“So why apologize?” Emori growls.

Bellamy looks from her, to Murphy sitting across from her. Murphy shakes his head. He won’t back Bellamy up on this. He feels the same way. Echo is equally silent. She’s not even looking at him.

Bellamy leans back in his chair with a heavy sigh. In the uncomfortable silence, they all go back to eating. Bellamy glances around for Blythe-Ann. He would love something to eat too.

“So where are you in the ‘Saving Clarke’ plan?” Raven asks idly. Bellamy smells a trap, again. He has no choice but to be honest.

“We’re working on her mental palace,” Bellamy says. He gets lots of blank looks, “we’re building structure, for her mind. A safe space for her, and to keep us separate.”

“And then what?” Raven presses, “because you don’t look so good.”

Bellamy shrugs. Octavia said the same thing. Maybe he should think about cleaning up his beard. He feels like it’s become disheveled, “One day at a time. We don’t really know—”

Raven throws her fork down on her plate, “Exactly! You have no plan at all! Nothing scalable, nothing to know if this could actually work or not, because it can’t!”

“This was your idea!” Bellamy shouts, “you were the one who said Clarke could recover with a host!”

“Before I knew that it would kill you!” Raven says.

“Do you want me to give up on Clarke? Is that what you want?” Bellamy demands.

“I want you to live!” Raven says, and she gestures at the table, “we all want you to live! Instead, you’re convinced that killing yourself doing something that isn’t going to work is the only way for you to be a hero!”

“I’m not being a hero,” Bellamy growls, “I’m being a friend. I’d do this for any of you.”

“Clarke left you to die,” Emori jumps in, “what kind of friend does that?”

Bellamy shoves himself backwards, making an awful racket as his chair drags on the floor. He stands up, “Fine,” he snaps, “I’m done with this.” Echo is the only one who doesn’t look up at him. And then he leaves.

He barely avoids knocking into Blythe-Ann who was just approaching with a warm plate of food for him. He feels childish, just storming out of a fight, but he couldn’t think of anything more to say without screaming insults.

He’s starving and tired and refuses to go back to their shared accommodations. He doesn’t want to deal with everyone coming home and avoiding him. Or, worse, trying to make amends because they think he’s going to die any second.

He sits down on the steps to Sanctum and watches the first moon soar over the horizon.

His heart is hammering in his chest, and he almost feels dizzy for the rush of adrenaline. He hates that his family is fighting. They’re at peace now. Why is everyone so mad at him?

Echo lets him hear her approach, dragging her feet to make enough noise as not to startle him. She takes a seat next to him, and unceremoniously hands him his food.

“Thank you,” he mumbles.

She hums an agreement, and stays silent so he can eat.

It turns out that the fight spoiled his appetite. He manages a few bites before he feels sick. He sets the plate aside.

“Are you here to yell at me too?” he asks.

“I’ve said my piece,” she says, “and you decided to continue with Clarke despite it. There’s no point begging to deaf ears.”

“Everyone is acting like I’m doing something wrong,” he says, “they’re mad at me for trying to save Clarke.”

“Why are you so reckless for her?” Echo asks, curious.

Bellamy shrugs, “Clarke and I went through a lot together. She’d do this for me.”

“Would she?” Echo asks. The tone of her voice implies that she doesn’t agree, “I have seen you do many reckless things for Clarke. She doesn’t get reckless for you.”

“It’s hard to explain,” he says. It’s a weak argument. Echo lets him wallow in that.

“Why am I the bad guy?” Bellamy finally asks, “I’m doing the right thing, but no one is happy with me for it.”

“No one asked you to do it,” Echo points out, “you are the only one who thinks you have to save Clarke.”

It sounds so cold, and brutal, to think of Clarke like that. Like he could just let her go.

Echo continues talking, “The rest of us would be happy to have her here, but we can also let her go. We’re discussing ending the Primes’ immortality, so, maybe that starts with Clarke. There are no more do-overs. This life is all we get.”

“But we’re not putting Clarke into another body,” Bellamy says, “she gets to have her own body. After the Primes tried to take it from her.”

“You saved my life,” Echo says, and Bellamy falls silent to hear where this train of thought is going, “you gave me purpose, and an identity, after I had been banished from my clan and then you saved my life at the end of the world. You gave me a leader I could follow, and love.”

“We saved each other,” Bellamy says gently.

“No,” Echo corrects him, “you saved us, Bellamy. You are our leader. You hold us together. You give us direction. And now you’re throwing that all away.”

“I’m not—”

“Quiet,” she says sharply, and she softens when she looks at him, “please, just hear me this one time. I have spent my life taking orders, and being loyal. That is what I know. After I was banished, you became my new leader. I would have been lost without you. And you taught me many things. Things that I once considered weakness— love, friendship, emotions, even speaking my mind. I want to thank you for that.”

Bellamy’s stomach drops.

“This sounds like a goodbye,” Bellamy realizes.

“It is,” Echo confirms, “because I am loyal to you. And I love you. But I cannot do both.”

“Echo,” Bellamy says softly. It hurts to look at her.

“This is your choice,” she says, and she sounds heartbroken, “and I will respect that choice, because you are my leader. But I can’t love someone who wants to die.”

“I’m not choosing to die!” Bellamy pleads, “I’m trying to help everyone live!”

“Maybe you will survive,” Echo says, “maybe you will do the impossible. But I wasn’t a factor when you risked your life. And I want someone who wants to live with me.”

Bellamy drags his hands down his face.

“Echo, that’s not what I was—”

“I’ve made my choice,” she cuts him off.

“And I don’t get a say?” he asks.

She turns away from him to look at the moon, and takes a moment to breathe. To let Bellamy sit in the uncomfortable silence. She glares at him without turning her head, “This is what it feels like.”

Bellamy sits back. He feels like he might throw up. Why does everyone leave him? He’s just trying to do what’s right!

“So that’s it?” he finally says, and now he’s angry, “just like that?”

She says nothing.

“You’re punishing me for trying to save my friend?” Bellamy snaps. He’s so tired. He feels worn out. He wants to cry and beg her to come back.

“You can take it as a punishment,” Echo says, “or you can take it as the fruition of your leadership. Before you, I would have never been able to make this choice for myself.”

Bellamy breathes, and tries to think of anything to say. Congratulations on discovering your self-worth? Thanks for hurting me?

“I can’t be with someone who doesn’t love me,” Echo says.

“I do love you,” Bellamy says. It sounds a lot more broken then he intends it to be.

“Not the way I want,” she says.

Her hand comes out to find his. Bellamy wants to push her away, to be petty and vindictive, but he clings to her. Her hands are rough with scars and callouses.

“You are still my leader,” she says, “I will fight for you. And I will be by your side as you do this. Until the end.”

Bellamy shakes his head, “I don’t know what to say.”

“I don’t know either,” she admits, “but I have to speak my truth.”

Bellamy breathes deeply. Use his head, not his broken heart.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” he admits.

Echo sighs, “Don’t play dumb. I told you from the beginning that I was unhappy.”

She did. He heard her. And it didn’t change things for him.

“We can try and work through this,” Bellamy tries.

She narrows her eyes at him. He is being stupid. She drew a line in the sand. A boundary on how she wants the people she loves to treat her. And he’s ignored it completely.

“This… this lack of worth you put on your life,” she says, and she sounds uncertain, like she’s not sure if she should say it, “How you will always lay your life on the line for others, Bellamy. Maybe it’s bravery. But do something often enough, and it’s not so much a choice as it is natural to your character.”

He’s not sure what to say to that. She’s basically telling him that being suicidal might be a character trait.

“Thanks,” he decides.

“Maybe it’s something you should fix,” she says, “or maybe you learn to live with it.”

If I live that long, he wants to say. To be petty. But it’s a mean thing to say.

“Do you want to be alone?” Echo asks.

Bellamy opens his mouth, closes it. Does he want her to stay? While he sits and cries about them breaking up? About how no one ever loves him enough to stay? No one loves him enough to help him. To stand by him.

“I’m going back to the others,” she clarifies, “but I will tell someone to come be with you.”

Bellamy barely considers it before he shakes his head. He needs to be alone.

Echo’s other hand comes up to touch her knuckles to the side of his face. He wants to lean into her touch, “Raven was right. You look ill. Have you seen Abby?”

“She said I was fine,” Bellamy says, and he pulls away from her, “I’ve got it.”

Echo looks hurt by his dismissal. Somewhere, deep down, Bellamy almost feels good about it.

She squeezes his hand one more time, “Goodbye, Bellamy.”

“Goodbye,” he manages.

He doesn’t want to let her go. He forces himself to let her pull away.

She’s gone in an instant, as silent as the wind.

And then he’s alone.

It feels like an inevitability. He does his best and everyone leaves him, in the end.

 

 

 

 

 

Clarke is trying to get the roof of her home right when Bellamy arrives.

“Looking good,” he calls, and shuts the curtains behind him to block out the rest of his mind.

She must have known he was coming, because she isn’t startled by his voice. He wonders if she can feel him arrive.

“I’m on round…” she stops to think, and then shakes her head, “a lot. A hundred. And two.”

The last bit is a joke, mostly to herself. He sees her flow of thoughts— all the times she took tally of the delinquents. Never just 100. Always 102. Bellamy and Raven were there too. They’re part of the team.

Part of the team. Wanted. Bellamy pushes his mood away, and nods in approval. She’s been continuing, even after he woke up. She’s trying to get better.

She steps back and dusts her hands off, and looks at him. She seems surprised, and so Bellamy glances down at himself. He’s dressed in armor. From the battle at the end of the Earth— where he and Echo, with the others, took out the cannons in the gorge to help Wonkru advance. It’s the last time he felt powerful.

He knows she can recognize it. He doesn’t know how to explain why he’s dressed like this.

“It’s looking great,” he says, and as he sits down he finds his journal of Clarke’s Safe Place in his hand. It’s even got his memories of being in the village, “let’s see if I can help.”

He flips through, looking for memories of the roof and the porch. When he looks up, Clarke is closer to the window, and looking down at him.

“Is it raining?” she asks, and tilts her head like she’s listening to something.

Bellamy listens. Behind him, behind the curtain hiding his mind, he can hear the rolling wave of thunder and a torrent of rainfall. It suits his mood. He knows that there’s no sun shining in his mind right now.

“Just a little rainstorm, outside,” he lies, “I can hear it through the window.”

Clarke nods, accepting it, “Cool,” she says.

Bellamy nods in agreement, rather than say anything that might betray him. If anything, the sound of the storm gets louder. He tries to block it out. No point dragging Clarke into his shit. The sooner they’re separated, the better. Everyone will be happy again.

“There were trees all around,” he reminds Clarke, “and banners of bright cloth. It looked like a festival, but felt like home.”

Clarke takes a quick breath to psych herself up, “Yeah, yeah. And it was safe. Even though I was alone, with Madi, we were safe. I had a home for everyone to come back to. Is it weird that I think I remember patching up a roof?”

Bellamy shrugs, “I really don’t know what’s supposed to be normal here.”

Clarke laughs, “Fair. Okay— cloth banners. Like, painted? Or dyed?”

Bellamy flips back a few pages, looking for the exact words Madi used. He keeps hold of the page where he put his own memories of being in the village so he can compare the two.

“Clothing, so, dyed. Hung on lines,” he says. He feeds Clarke the memory as he does so.

There’s a boom of thunder so intense that Bellamy flinches. He hears his mother saying ‘I love you more than anything to Octavia, and knowing that meant more than she loved him.

Clarke stops, “That sounds loud. Are you outside? Maybe your window got opened—”

“It’s fine,” he cuts her off, “lets keep going.”

Clarke scowls, but chooses not to fight with him.

Lengths of rope span across Clarke’s mindspace. They fall short.

“What did they attach to?” she asks, “what were the other buildings?”

Bellamy searches through his notes. He should have thought of that. Why didn’t he think of that? Now Clarke is going to think he’s stupid.

He feels drops of rain on his hands.

“Buildings,” he says. He slams the book shut before the rain can damage it, “they were, uh, rustic. It’s easier to show.”

He presses a hand to the window, just shy of one of the cracks. Clarke, despite being too far away to reach a second ago, holds up her hand to touch the glass over his hand.

Bellamy starts to show her the village. Of what it had been like to walk it. The sights, the smells. How the air had felt to his skin, how the book in his hands is the Iliad. Gina’s handing it to him, and then she’s gone. The book is bleeding. His hands are covered in blood. He’s losing everyone he ever cared about—

“Bellamy?” Clarke reels back.

Thunder, again, so loud it shakes the window. Clarke flinches away.

The storm throws the curtains in a frenzy, whipping about. Bellamy’s hit with a wave of rain. He can see Octavia’s burning resentment at him through their whole lives. How much she’d wished he was gone, no matter what he did to save her. His mother’s lack of interest in him. Of being so unlovable that she gave him the burden of her illegal child. Gina, killed. Clarke, refusing to enter Mt Weather because she can’t stand to look at him and be reminded of what they’ve done. The culling of the Ark. All his fault. The water is seeping into the library of his mind, getting into every single page of his life.

There are knives in his stomach, cutting him up from the inside out.

“Bellamy!” Clarke shouts, “what’s going on?”

He can barely hear her over the buildup of every single time he’s failed and proved why no one can love him.

Clarke’s kneeling beside the window, banging on the glass. She’s shouting.

“Go away!” Bellamy snaps, “just leave me alone!”

“I can’t!” Clarke snarls, meeting his foul temper, “I’m in your head!”

She is. She has a front row seat to the pathetic mess that makes up Bellamy Blake.

“What happened?” Clarke asks, “why are you so—”

“This sounds like a goodbye,” Bellamy realizes.

“It is,” Echo confirms.

Clarke’s face softens, “Oh, oh. I’m sorry—”

“Nobody wants me,” he whimpers, “I always end up alone.”

Clarke looks like she could cry too. Maybe she can feel how sad he is, “That’s not true. People love you.”

He shakes his head, and he’s already soaked so there’s no point in trying to pretend like he’s not crying, “They always love someone else more. I’m never good enough to make people stay.”

“You’re wrong,” Clarke insists. She tries to push her memories of the early days— of him rallying the remaining delinquents into being battle ready. How hard they’d worked for him, how badly many of them wanted his attention. How people always looked up when he walked into a room. The confidence he broadcasted, the security Clarke felt of having him at her side.

It gives Bellamy just enough of a reprieve from his sorrow that he can pull himself from the onslaught of it.

“I’m sorry,” he whines, and he scrubs at his eyes with the heels of his hands, “I’m just tired. I’m so fucking tired—”

“Then go to bed,” Clarke urges, “we’ll start again in the morning.”

The wind has died down. The rain is still falling, but in the absence of the raging storm it feels like everything has fallen silent.

“I can’t sleep,” Bellamy whines, “no matter what I do I can’t sleep!”

“What do you mean? When was the last time you slept?” Clarke asks. She’s pressed against the window, like she would crawl through if she could. Bellamy’s moved closer too, as close as he can get to her. He wants her to touch him. To let him know that someone still wants him.

He hasn’t— he’s been busy.

“Bellamy,” Clarke presses.

“When I took you in,” he mumbles, “I stopped sleeping then.”

“How long has that been?” Clarke demands.

“A few days? A week? It doesn’t matter,” he says, “I’m just— I’m just  a loser, okay? And I’m sorry you’re stuck—”

“A week? Go see my mom now!” Clarke shouts.

“I’ll be fine,” Bellamy says.

“No,” Clarke says, and she hits the window with force, “this is serious. Go see my mom!”

“She’ll blame it on you,” Bellamy points out.

“Because it probably is me!” Clarke shouts, “but you’re going to die if you don’t get some sleep!”

“I’m not letting them take you,” Bellamy growls.

“You need to fix this,” Clarke insists, “you need to talk to my—”

 

 

“Hey, hey.”

Someone’s shaking him, and Bellamy flinches away from the touch. He’s dizzy— he can still see Clarke’s face behind his eyelids, can still feel the rain soaking through his clothes, and yet he’s perfectly dry on a warm Sanctum night. He’s sitting down, not leaning against the window in his mind.

Kane kneels beside him, “Did you fall asleep?”

Bellamy groans and rubs at his eyes. He’s where Echo left him. His plate of food is untouched beside him.

“Bellamy?” Kane asks, “Echo said you needed help. What’s going on?”

Bellamy wants to have a lie ready. He wants to have a proper excuse to walk away. He wants to have somewhere to be. He wishes he was stronger.

Clarke, or the voice of her, is still ringing in his mind. She’d sounded so worried. You need to talk to my mom. The last thing she was saying to him. It’s like a last wish. Morbid, considering how hard Bellamy’s trying to keep her alive, but kind of funny.

“Are you okay?”

He can feel his eyes burning with unshed tears. He’s so tired that his body feels heavy. His head hurts.

“No,” he says, “I need to see Abby.”

Chapter Text

Cookies, Emori thinks, are the greatest invention in the world.

Blythe-Ann has tried to help her understand the ingredients that go into them. But half of them Emori has never heard of. Sugar? Chocolate chips? What is that? Whatever it is, it’s like joy in her mouth. She has to resist the urge to eat the entire cookie in one bite, just to prolong the experience.

Nevermind that it will probably give her a stomachache later. Abby said there’s not much they can do about that, except wait for their digestive tracks to get used to all the new food.

John is looking at her when she opens her eyes after savoring her bite of cookie. She could almost feel embarrassed about how much the food affects her, but she’s too happy in the moment to care. His mouth curls into a smile, just for her. If she kisses him now, she wonders if he’d taste like sugar too.

Echo slinks in like a spy. She moves like an Azgeda warrior. It still makes Emori’s hair stand on end. Back on Earth, before all of this, seeing her walk up like this would mean she was about to kill. Outsiders, like Emori, were always considered free-range for any warrior who happened upon them.

Echo’s face looks neutral. It’s a carefully constructed blankness that she wore several times up on the Ring, around the times she’d be thinking of walking out an airlock before Bellamy could talk her down. Or in that one notable case where Raven had punched her to snap her out of her dark headspace.

She sits down in her chair, beside the one Bellamy had vacated in his anger, and stares down at the table. She’s quiet by nature, but never so sullen.

John catches Emori’s eye. He’s glancing at Echo, and back to her. She shakes her head. Maybe Echo and Bellamy had a fight? Bellamy’s been weird ever since he put Clarke into his head— he’s going through mood swings, waking up screaming, or trails off in the middle of a sentence like he forgot what he was saying. Emori knows Echo isn’t happy about it. She doesn’t know what she’d do if John had done the same thing.

Then again, Emori knows John wouldn’t have put Clarke into his head. He would have chosen to live, so that they could be together.

“What happened?” Raven asks.

Echo glances up, and then shakes her head without saying a word.

Back in the beginning, on the Ring, the others had often expected Emori to be a go-between or translator for all of Echo’s behaviors and mood swings. They assumed that just because the two of them were Earth-born, that they would have an instant connection. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Emori has always been an outcast. Her parents should have killed her when she was born, but instead her parents ran away and became outcasts themselves. Outside the safety of the village, they had to do everything for themselves, and could never stay in one place too long. Emori didn’t understand that other people existed for years, until she was old enough to understand that the monsters in the dark weren’t monsters, but other humans who wanted her dead just because of her hand.

It led to a difficult life. But the only way of life that Emori’s ever known.

In contrast, Echo has always been around people. Her specialty is blending in with whichever crowd she targets, and gathering information. On top of that, she’s trained to kill on command. She was her Queen’s favorite, and later the King’s as well. She was loyal to the death, and enjoyed the luxuries of her position.

Echo never had to steal food because she was so hungry she could barely walk. She never had to endure long, cold nights without a fire because the local tribes would kill her in her sleep if they found her. Echo always had a home to go back to.

The two of them are like night and day. Complete opposites. 

When Emori looks at her face, and sees a familiar pain, it startles her.

She also knows exactly what happened. She went through this loss with John, up on the Ring.

Without thinking, Emori reaches out with her left hand. She realizes her mistake— John has made her careless, with how he never flinches from her touch— and begins to pull back. Echo’s hand finds hers, grabs her, and holds her tight.

“I did it,” Echo says through gritted teeth, “I had to do it. And I feel terrible.”

John grimaces as he sucks in are through his closed teeth, “Shit. Because he’s dying?”

All three women around the table glare at him. Emori loves John’s bluntness, how he doesn’t shy from uncomfortable things, but sometimes she wishes he had a little more finesse.

That bluntness is one of the things Echo and John have in common.

“It’s a little more complicated,” Echo says with a roll of her eyes, but there’s relief in her tone that John is being rough with her, “but, yes.”

“Cold,” John comments, “but understandable. Where’s Bell? Should I go find him?”

Echo shakes her head. She doesn’t let go of Emori’s hand.

“I spoke with Kane,” she says, “and told him to go be with Bellamy.”

What she’s not saying is that she wants all of them with her. She wants her family’s comfort.

“Okay, let’s get out of here,” Raven says, and then hesitates, “do you want to talk about it?”

“What is there to say?” Echo mutters.

“On the Ark we had a tradition of getting completely cometted,” Raven says, “do you want that instead?”

Echo frowns at the phrase. Emori isn’t sure what it means either. For spending so long on top of each other, the Space-born still have peculiar phrases or words that the Earth-born don’t understand.

“Drunk,” Raven clarifies, “we get really, really drunk.”

Echo hasn’t let go of Emori’s hand. Emori wonders how she does it— look so calm when her grip is so tight. She must be falling apart inside.

“I’ll get the booze,” Murphy says.

“And cookies,” Emori adds. Cookies will help everyone feel better.

“Booze and cookies,” John agrees, and he takes off to find Blythe-Ann.

Emori and Echo stand together, still holding hands. Echo even shuffles closer, and Emori realizes she’ll have to lead Echo. She’s so used to Echo being on Bellamy’s heels, ready to go wherever he orders, that it’s strange to be guiding her. Emori has never been a leader, and never wanted that power. She’s happy to follow when it suits her, and then strike out on her own when she needs to.

In a short time their rooms above the bar have become like home. The beds are soft— sometimes too soft— but they’re big enough for the four of them to fit on. If they squeeze. They’re supposed to have three rooms, one for Raven, one for Emori and John, and then one for Echo and Bellamy, but they really only use two between the five of them. Bellamy, John and Raven grew up in an overcrowded ship and get anxious sleeping alone, and while both Echo and Emori are accustomed to having their own space, Emori has come to enjoy the quiet intimacy of being able to reach out and feel someone else beside her before she’s even truly awake. It makes her feel wanted, and part of something.

Emori’s not sure how things are going to change now. Echo and Bellamy were the definitive head of their group, and now with this break, Emori doesn’t know how that’s going to affect that. Does Echo take power? Will they still follow Bellamy? Does someone else become their leader?

It might not matter, if Bellamy is going to die in a few days anyways. There will only be the four of them left.

Emori surprises herself by crying by the time they reach their room. Raven will be a few moments behind them, slowed down by her brace. But she gets offended if they wait for her.

“I think I’m supposed to be doing that,” Echo says.

Emori laughs, but it sounds awful because she’s crying. She wishes she knew what to say. Monty and Harper had been so kind to her when she and John broke up on the Ring, and all Emori wanted to do was scream and throw things until she was too tired to do anything but cry. They were kind when John refused to get out of bed for days, and then wanted to throw himself out of the airlock.

Bellamy was the only one on the Ring who Echo would speak with, at first. He was the only one that she would let down her barriers for, and the only one who could convince her to want to be part of their group.

Emori doesn’t have that type of kindness in her. It’s never been part of her nature.

“Thank you,” Echo says, “for being here.”

It means: thank you for wanting to be alive. Thank you for wanting to be family. Thank you for wanting me.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Emori promises.

And for the first time Emori sees Echo let herself go. And she cries. 

 

 

 

Bellamy Blake, Kane realizes, is no longer a child.

When he thinks of him, he still pictures him when Kane and his scouts had first discovered the kids on earth— tied up, bloodied, and about to be killed by a Grounder warrior. He’d thought the children had gone completely feral. Bellamy and Finn had completely disregarded his orders and authority, they attacked an already-injured child, Murphy, right in front of him. Kane had thought, at the time, that this was the result of children being left to their own devices. That anarchy was the natural way of those without discipline or guidance.

Sitting on Abby’s examination table, jacket off so she can listen to his heartbeat, and feet dangling above the floor, Bellamy does not feel like he has that rebellious youth he’d been all those years ago.

Of course a lot has happened in the years since. But it’s never occurred to Kane that while, yes, of course six years had passed while he and Abby were underground, and Bellamy led the small team back into the sky to survive. But that means the man has grown six years, has matured and learned. He’s now closer to the same age Kane was when Kane was promoted to head of the guard, before going on to be voted into the Council. 

Ever since sending the children to Earth, Bellamy has been hovering on the edges of being a leader. In the beginning he and Clarke took control of the delinquents, and from there the two of them were never far from positions of power over the people of Arkadia. At the time it had always felt outrageous— giving children that kind of authority. At least Kane had known Clarke, knew she had the background and understanding from her mother to know what leadership cost. Bellamy was low-class, a janitor from factory station and as far from the Council as one could get. Kane could never understand why people followed him.

Now, looking at him as a grown man, with the history of his choices and his actions, Kane knows he would trust Bellamy to lead them. In another life Kane would even vote for him to be Chancellor.

“I’m not finding any abnormalities,” Abby says softly, and she takes a moment to press the back of her hand to Bellamy’s forehead, “and you don’t have a fever.”

“’M not sick,” he mumbles. The words seem difficult for him. 

“Just tired,” he finishes.

Bellamy is one of the many people who have taken to sunlight like water, and his skin has been a healthy dark color ever since leaving the Ark. He’d lost some pigmentation, during the six years in space, but it had returned quickly under Sanctum’s two suns. Kane thinks it’s part of why he was able to hide how tired he is— because now that Kane is looking for it, he can see the dark bags under Bellamy’s eyes.

“You needed to tell me if something was wrong,” Abby scolds.

“Is it Clarke?” Kane interrupts, “is she the cause?”

Bellamy’s hands ball into fists, but he stays silent.

Abby sighs, anger already gone, “I can’t be certain, but, considering that’s the only major change— it’s likely.”

“Could it be the nightblood?” Kane asks.

The timing between Bellamy undergoing the nightblood procedure, and having Clarke’s mind drive implanted into him, was a very small window. Kane wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t noticed a lack of sleep considering how intense the situation in Sanctum had been. Most of them went a few days without sleeping.

“Possibly,” Abby agrees, “I don’t believe Clarke had any of those symptoms. But she did have a bone marrow transplant, rather than the procedure Bellamy went through.”

Bellamy looks like he’s on the verge of passing out. Kane wonders if he’s been trying to hide his symptoms, and is finally too tired to keep it up, or if this is him finally crashing. He looked like he’d been crying when Kane found him, after Echo had said that Bellamy needed someone to be with him. And that she couldn’t be that person.

It didn’t take long to figure out what that meant.

“Russell said it’s normal,” Bellamy says.

“For the mind drive in a new host to lose sleep,” Abby corrects him, “what we’re doing is different. You should be functioning normally.”

“So what can we do?” Kane presses. He wants to go get Raven, or John, or any of the other people who were on the Ring with Bellamy. Someone to help the man feel less alone. But Bellamy had insisted on not getting any of them when he’d asked Kane to take him to Abby.

“My best guess is that it is Clarke,” Abby says, “she’s constantly active, and should be able to remain active even when Bellamy’s sleeping.”

Kane waits to hear the end of her thought. He notices Bellamy bracing himself, as if for a fight.

“Sedation might work, for now,” Abby says to Bellamy, “especially for tonight. Sleep is crucial, especially in keeping the brain healthy. We can sedate you, and keep you here in the lab tonight to monitor you. Is that okay?”

Bellamy shakes his head, “Don’t take Clarke out.”

“We’re not,” Abby assures him, “I’m going to help you sleep. Jackson and I will figure out what’s going on while you get some rest.”

Bellamy seems hesitant, and glances around.

“I’ll sleep here?” he asks.

“It’ll be easier to keep an eye on you,” Abby says, “but we can take you back to your room if you’d like to sleep—”

“Here is fine,” Bellamy says. He swings his legs up on the table and lays down.

“Okay,” Abby agrees. She leaves Bellamy’s side to go hunting through the cabinets, and comes away with a jar of clear liquid and a needle. She fills the needle from the jar, and then turns Bellamy’s arm over to get at his underarm. In the paler skin of his elbow, Kane can see his black veins. It’s unsettling. In the back of his mind, he knows that is wrong.

“Okay,” Abby says gently, all soft bedside manner now. Bellamy doesn’t even flinch as she injects him, “get some rest, Bellamy. I’ll be here when you wake up.”

“We’ve got you, son,” Kane can’t help but add. Bellamy might be a grown man now, but Kane can still see that he’s afraid.

Bellamy glances over to him, and nods once in acceptance of Kane’s words. The sedative works fast. Bellamy’s eyes are already closing. Whatever they use as a sedative here on Sanctum is incredibly efficient and potent. He mumbles some sort of response, but it’s not very legible. Abby strokes his bangs out of his face as he falls unconscious. The tension falls out of his shoulders, and his whole body goes lax.

“Will it help?” Kane asks nervously.

“It will give his mind some relief,” Abby says, “I can’t believe he’s gone this long without saying anything.”

“He was worried that we’d remove Clarke,” Kane reminds her, “he’s being very brave for your daughter.”

“I know that,” Abby snaps. She breathes out, and Kane can see her regretting her tone, “sorry. You’re right. I’m incredibly grateful for the chance he’s giving me, to save my baby.”

Abby finally pulls away to go into another set of cabinets. There are blankets there, and she shakes one out. Together the two of them tuck Bellamy in.

“How are things going with Clarke— with her body?” Kane asks.

Abby sighs, and now she’s frustrated, “Slow,” she admits, “Clarke is practically brain dead. As it stands, without the mind drive, she will never recover. But, with all of the neuro-technological advancements they’ve made here, it’s helped. We’re able to work on her brain in pieces at a time, repairing synapses that were fried or damaged by Josephine’s attacks. If Bellamy can hold out a little longer, we should be able to have her fully restored.”

“And she’ll be okay?” Kane checks.

“I don’t know,” Abby admits, “it could be that, even if we heal everything, it may be too fragile and she’ll fall apart the instant we put her mind drive in.”

“Have faith,” Kane says, “Bellamy and you are working miracles to save Clarke. It will happen.”

“I hope so, Marcus,” she says.

Kane moves to her, to make contact. Things were strained between them before Sanctum, and they haven’t had much time to talk since she was able to save his life. The two of them are good at putting their problems aside to help their people. Her shoulders feel so narrow when he wraps his arm around them.

Abby leans into the touch.

“You should get some sleep,” Abby says. It means that she’ll be up all night trying to determine what’s keeping Bellamy from sleeping. If there’s anything else in his health that she’s missed.

“I’ll be here,” he says in response. They’ll collect Jackson in the morning, after he’s had a full night’s rest. But until then, someone needs to keep an eye on Bellamy, and Abby will need company.

Abby stays a moment longer. Kane wonders if he could convince her to sleep a few hours before dawn. It’s unlikely, and possibly irresponsible, given the sensitive nature of Bellamy’s ailments. But he hates seeing her stressed like this.

“I’ll get coffee,” Kane decides.

“That will help,” Abby agrees with a laugh.

Caffeine is a holdover from Old Earth, before the First Apocalypse. It’s bitter, foul and has a strong aroma that stains everything like smoke. Kane has known about coffee his whole life, has read about it in history books and heard about it in stories of the Old World. But he’s never experienced it until now.

It’s been very helpful in staying alert on long nights. It will be helpful again tonight.

They mutually break contact. Kane resists the urge to kiss her before he goes, as he once used to. She watches him leave, and he wonders if she’d wanted him to kiss her too.

He’s barely three steps out of the lab, into the comforting heat of a Sanctum night, when a shadow moves up to him.

“Is Bellamy okay?” Octavia asks. She looks remarkably young, without red blood painted on her face.

Kane knows she had some part in having Abby bring him to Gabriel, to be healed deep in the forest. He’s never had the chance to properly thank her. He’s not sure he wants to. Being near her still makes his skin crawl.

“My brother?” Octavia asks again.

Kane also isn’t sure where Bellamy and Octavia stand. The last he knew of them, they’d gone into the gorge to die together, on Octavia’s orders. Since then he’s gathered that things are… tense. Had they been friends, Kane would understand that they were no longer friends after all they’ve been through. But there’s the weird complication of them being siblings. Kane doesn’t know how that works. Are they allowed to not have a relationship? Are they forever bound together by their blood?

“He’s been having trouble sleeping,” Kane gives her, “Abby’s monitoring him in the lab. We’re going to find out why.”

It’s dark enough that he has trouble reading Octavia’s expression.

“Have you informed the others?” she asks.

She’s wondering if they’ve taken Bellamy in secret, and separated him from his friends. Which means she saw Kane bring Bellamy to the lab. So she’s been watching Bellamy. Or Kane.  

“Did you see what happened with him and Echo?” Kane asks. He’s fairly sure they’ve had a fight— possibly ended whatever their relationship was— but he’s not sure. Both of them are trying to be stoic.

Octavia falls silent. She glances away, thinking of how to explain herself. She tightens her grip on the staff she carries, that she received from Gabriel. Kane notices that it’s giving off a soft glow— or at least, parts of it is. Like it has veins of light.

Sanctum continues to be strange and wonderful, all in one.

“I saw,” Octavia admits. She’s been following her brother, then. Maybe they are fated to fall back together, no matter the pain this relationship causes them. Kane doesn’t think he envies that.

“He didn’t want them to know,” Kane says gently, “and there’s no immediate danger. I’m sure we can talk to them in the morning.”

“So he’s alone?” Octavia demands. She sounds like she’s accusing, but Kane doesn’t know what she’s upset about.

“Abby will be working, and I’m getting coffee,” Kane says, “the two of us will be in the lab—”

“I’ll stay,” Octavia decides, and squares her shoulders, “he’s my brother. I’ll watch over him.”

 

 

 

 

Bellamy doesn’t remember how he got here. That’s unusual. He’s aware that he’s in his mindscape, but he doesn’t remember entering it.

There’s no door to leave. He tries to will it into existence, like he can do anything here, but it doesn’t appear. The windows of the library still show dark storm clouds outside, but the rain has ended. For now.

Most of the windows were blown open in his temper tantrum, and the rain has soaked most of the books inside. Some of them got scattered around— most of the ones containing the memories that hit him hardest when he’s at his lowest. He takes his time picking them up and trying not to read the words on the pages. They all get put away, back on the bottom shelf, where he can pretend that they’re no longer there.

Bellamy closes the windows, and falls into a meditation of cleaning up the water on the floor. The books will be fine. The water will dry. It always does.

He’s wearing a soft sweater against the chill, and some warm boots. It’s not his armor from earlier. Bellamy does feel safer now, but he notes that the sweater is thick enough to feel like padding, and the boots are sturdy for running. He’s still defensive, still afraid of being hurt, but his brain isn’t on high alert anymore.

Clarke is waiting for him when he finally steps behind the curtain. Her face is slightly distorted behind the cracks in the window between them. She’s wearing the armor she’d worn at Mount Weather. Bellamy wonders what kind of fight she’s expecting.

“Are you sleeping?” she demands.

“I think so,” he says.

“Then why are you here?” she asks, “you need to rest—”

“No door,” he interrupts her, and gestures to the space behind the curtain, the rest of his mind that she can’t see because it hurts her, “there’s no door for me to leave. Your mom gave me a sedative to knock me out. I think I’m stuck here until I wake up.”

Clarke visibly relaxes.

“Oh,” she says, “okay. I… I don’t know if that makes sense. The door thing.”

Bellamy shrugs in response, and takes a seat. He doesn’t know much more than she does.

It’s dry here now. He picks up the journal he was keeping all of his notes in.

“Did you want to work?” he asks.

“We’re not gonna talk about what happened?” Clarke asks.

Bellamy would rather not. He’d prefer it if Clarke could forget the whole thing.

“What’s to talk about?” he says dismissively, “I was sad.”

“That’s not just sad,” Clarke argues.

“Let’s talk about it when you’re back in your own head,” Bellamy snaps.

Clarke steps back, surprised by the tone.

Bellamy scrubs his hand down his face. Use his head, not his emotions. His emotions always get him into trouble.

“Sorry,” he says quickly.

Clarke sits down on the steps to her mental fortress.

“It’s okay,” she says gently, and she hesitates a moment before she says, “you scared me.”

Bellamy is about to apologize again.

“I thought you were dying,” Clarke admits, “I thought it was happening. That I was going to watch— and feel— you die.”

“Oh,” Bellamy says. He wonders what that would be like. If it happens— if he has a stroke, or several, because of Clarke’s active mind overloading his brain— and the two of them die. Will they be here? Will they see each other go?

“You’ll probably survive it,” Bellamy points out. He means it to be comforting.

Clarke frowns at him, “Should I be happy about that?”

Bellamy can’t imagine watching Clarke’s mind fall to dust, trapped on this side of his window, and being helpless to do anything except feel her fade away through the cracks.

He shakes his head, “Yeah. Sorry. That was dumb.”

“Yeah,” Clarke agrees.

She lets out a long sigh.

“So… Echo?” she tries.

Thunder rumbles at the edges of Bellamy’s mind.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he admits.

Clarke nods, like he’s said something logical.

“We can get to work,” she says, “I guess we’ll have a while before you wake up.”

It feels like a gift. Something to take his mind off of things. Bellamy sits up straighter, and starts going through notes.

“Bellamy,” Clarke interrupts him, “we don’t have to— you felt like no one cared about you. That I didn’t care about you. I could feel that. And it felt so real.”

“Clarke,” he begs. He really can’t talk about this right now. Not with the pain still so fresh.

“It’s not true,” Clarke presses, “because I do care about you. It felt true in your mind, but I know that it’s not true for me. I know you’re important. I need you to know that.”

Bellamy takes a moment to breathe. He thinks he can almost feel the force of the storm, wanting to wreak havoc once more. Use his head, not his heart. He breathes out. Clarke wants him to feel better. It’s kind of her.

“Okay,” he says, as a way of saying thank you and also dismissing the conversation; he goes back to the journal, “you’ve got a solid base. Now lets fill in details. What do you remember about the Ark?”