The sun shines brightly the day Octavia’s first mission dawns. It’s nothing special, just hunting for food, but she’s been training under Indra for a month, and she’s giddy at just the thought of getting to go outside the settlement walls.
"Big day," Raven says, as they’re getting dressed, "you ready?"
"I was born ready," Octavia says breezily, and Raven laughs.
"Keep an eye on Finn for me, yeah? I swear he's always five seconds from doing something stupid."
“Always,” Octavia says, with a mock-salute, and Raven pulls her into a quick hug before stepping back to let her leave.
Octavia’s first stop is Bellamy’s. When she knocks on the door, though, it’s Miller who answers, looking apologetic.
“You just missed him,” he tells her, and Octavia feels her smile flicker, just for a second, before she puts it firmly back in place.
“Do you know where he went?”
“Meeting with Clarke,” Miller says, and Octavia can’t quite manage a smile, this time.
“Tell him I said goodbye, then, okay?”
Miller nods. “Good luck today,” he says. “I hope you don’t die.”
Octavia laughs, just a little tired. “Yeah,” she says, “me too.”
She bumps into someone on her way out, her fault, wasn't looking where she was going, and she pulls herself up straight, hiding her embarrassment, only to sag again when she sees who it is.
“Hey,” Lincoln says, a smile pulling up one corner of his mouth. “I thought I'd find you here.”
Octavia hugs him, squeezes her arms tight around his back, lets herself exhale.
"May we meet again," she says, pulling back, and Lincoln kisses her, rests their foreheads together for just a second.
Bellamy goes straight to see Octavia as soon as the morning's meeting is over. He has a key to hers and Raven's place, just in case, and he lets himself in, looks around for any sign of his little sister.
"O?" Bellamy calls out. The bathroom door opens, and Raven limps out, holding to the wall for balance. "Where's Octavia?"
"She left, like, an hour ago," Raven says.
"I was going over strategy with Clarke," Bellamy says, and Raven raises her eyebrows.
Bellamy looks away, exhales. "Sorry. I just- I wanted to say goodbye."
Raven's face softens. "She'll be okay."
Bellamy nods. "So will Finn," he says, and Raven nods too.
"I was about to come find you, actually," she says, "I need you to look over the designs for the extended security system so we can move forward."
"You know we'll need the whole council's approval for that," Bellamy says, and Raven makes a dismissive noise.
"You'll bring them around," she says. "I already arranged to meet Miller at my workshop in half an hour. Come with me?"
"Sure," Bellamy says, smiling despite himself, "let's go."
One person comes back alive, and it is not Octavia.
It is not Octavia.
It isn't Finn, either, but Bellamy doesn't have room in his heart for anyone else right now. His sister. His responsibility. And he couldn't keep her safe.
Indra grabs him before he can run, away from the sight of Fox bleeding out on a stretcher, still very much alive and very much not his little sister, and looks hard into his eyes.
“She knew the risks,” Indra says. The past tense is a knife in his gut, and from the way her face twists, he knows it hits her the same. “She made her choice anyway. Don't you dare take that from her.”
Bellamy nods, short. He couldn't speak even if he wanted to.
He goes to clear out Octavia's things, because it has to happen sooner or later, and if he waits for the numbness to pass, he's not sure he could get through it.
Raven's sitting on her bed when he gets in the door, letting himself in with his spare set of keys. She looks up, and her face is wet. She doesn't say anything, and neither does Bellamy, but she shifts over when he sits heavily down on the bed next to her.
"Not... safe," the corpse says. "Have to... wait."
Octavia huffs a breath, but she supposes it makes sense. She doesn’t exactly trust the corpse – just because it hasn’t wanted to eat her yet doesn’t mean it won’t – but she knows she won’t just walk out of here alive, not without help.
"What's your name?" Octavia asks. She can't just keep calling it a corpse in her head. Or, well, it. “Are you a girl?”
The corpse nods. "M... M."
"Is that short for something?" Octavia asks, and M nods, but doesn't elaborate. Octavia wonders if M even remembers her name. "My brother calls me O. It's short for Octavia."
Her brother. Bellamy. Fuck.
“They all think I'm dead,” Octavia says, on an exhale. “Thank you. I know I would be, without you.”
M sort of bobs her head, smiling. She doesn’t seem anything like the corpses Octavia's cut down without a second thought, without letting herself wonder who they used to be, who they are. She tries to smile back, and has to look away, at anything else.
Her eyes fall on a stack of books on the ground next to them; Octavia smiles for real when she recognises the one on the top.
"Can I?" she asks, reaching towards it, and M nods. "My brother read this to me when we were kids," Octavia says, turning the book over in her hands. "He's really into, like, classics. I mean, that's why my name's Octavia, and not something normal."
"Like... Oc...ta...via," M says, and Octavia looks down, smiling.
"Yeah," she says, "me too."
Bellamy wakes in Raven's bed, fully-clothed, one arm looped over her waist.
He ends up late to the meeting, and everyone looks at him when he sits down, but no one says anything. Three days mourning, he knows, and then you pull yourself up and get on with it. He's done it before; he can do it again.
"How we're living now isn't sustainable," Clarke is arguing.
"Yes," Anya says.
"We can't keep sending out teams to forage for food and losing half of them in an ambush."
"We need an offensive strike," Clarke says, and Anya says, "No."
It's an old, tired argument. Bellamy doesn't have the energy to interject, but he does anyway.
"Raven's defence systems are working well," Bellamy says, "and she thinks she can extend them to-"
"We've lost fifteen of our people in the past week," Clarke snaps. "We have to do something."
"Blood for blood," Indra says evenly, and Clarke looks away, embarrassed.
“We do what we have to do to stay alive,” Bellamy reminds her, glancing at Indra. “This isn't that.”
"What you're talking about is nuclear war," Indra says, "against an enemy who can't fight back."
Clarke's mouth sets. "Lexa thinks-"
"Lexa is angry, and hurting," Anya says, which is news to Bellamy. He was under the impression Anya's second didn't feel anything at all. "Lexa is wrong."
The rest of the meeting is just as unproductive. Things have largely gone better for them since they joined Lexa's people, joined their settlements together, but there's so much more talking about things before doing them than there was before when it was just Clarke and Bellamy and their people. Bellamy doesn't like it.
Clarke stops him on the way out, waits til everyone's disappeared. “I'm sorry about Octavia,” she says. “I know I can't understand, but Wells was like a brother to me, and it's-” She smiles, and it's tiny, but it's also the most genuine thing Bellamy's seen from her in a while. “It fucking sucks.”
“Yeah,” Bellamy says, and hugs Clarke when she opens her arms.
He doesn’t have anything else to do today, but he should check in with Raven, go over security with Miller. He heads home instead. It’s supposed to be the easy way out, shirking his responsibilities to wallow in his grief. Lincoln isn’t supposed to be sitting on the steps outside his and Miller's house, a shoebox balanced on his knees.
He looks up as Bellamy approaches, his eyes red-rimmed, his face unshaven. Bellamy sits on the steps next to him, exhaling slowly.
“This is everything Octavia left with me,” Lincoln says. “I thought I should give it back.”
Bellamy takes the box from Lincoln, opens it up to check what’s inside. There’s Scribbles, the worn teddy bear Octavia’s dad gave her before he left; some of their mom’s old jewellery that Octavia never really got round to wearing; a painting of Bellamy and Octavia that Lincoln made for her first birthday after they started dating.
Bellamy closes the box, tries to swallow past the lump in his throat. He passes it back to Lincoln. Lincoln’s forehead creases.
"She never had a lot of stuff, even before," Bellamy says. "She'd want you to have this."
He has to look away; he doesn’t think he could stand whatever Lincoln’s face must be doing right now.
“Remember,” Lincoln says, “before the truce between our people, when you told me to get Octavia out of here?”
“She didn’t want to leave,” Bellamy says, remembering Indra’s face when she said, Don’t you dare take that from her. “This was her home.”
Lincoln nods. “It’s a cold comfort,” he says, and Bellamy has to laugh, rough and hollow.