Clarke allowed herself a single sigh of relief as the tablet began sending the SAT STAR ONE signal to the Ring. At least one thing seemed to be going right. She watched as the time on her arm reached 9:59 minutes left, and snatched the tablet away as soon as the signal sent. Without any ceremony, she started running as fast as she could back to Becca’s lab.
She could make it. She had to.
Back at the lab, Bellamy had just finished his spiel of trying to convince Echo to live when Raven walked in, telling him it was time to go. His mind already concentrating on his blonde partner rather than the bigger situation at hand, Bellamy asked Raven where Clarke was. Raven led him out of the room, telling him that Clarke wasn’t back yet. She tried to reassure him that Clarke would already be on her way back by now, but all Bellamy could imagine were the worst case scenarios.
Bellamy and Raven joined the others in their last minute preparations, and then Bellamy took his place near the stairs to wait for his best friend.
She had to make it back. He needed her.
Clarke risked a split second glance at her timer as she ran along as quickly as she could. It read 3:03, and she glanced back up before it could even become 3:02 before her eyes. Immediately, she regretted even wasting that glance, because she tripped herself up in the deep snow. The brief glance cost her seconds of precious time as she went sprawling, going down hard on the unforgiving earth.
She grunted as she hauled herself unsteadily to her feet. She started off again, heart pounding as she noticed the crack in her helmet. She placed her hand over the crack, knowing it was probably futile because no matter how hard she pressed on the glass, the glove wouldn’t be able to block all of the radiation.
Now, her survival was entirely dependent on returning on time to Becca’s lab, so she increased her speed regardless of the danger it posed to her face, which was slowly becoming irradiated.
Raven closed her eyes, pained before she even spoke the words she knew were required of her. “Bellamy, it’s time to go.” She told him, her voice carrying regardless of how soft it actually was.
Raven’s throat constricted, but she knew Clarke wouldn’t want them to get themselves killed just to wait for her. Raven looked down at the time on her arm, reading its final seconds with a heavy heart. Only ten seconds left until Clarke’s time to get back to the lab ran out.
It was time.
Raven forced herself to condemn her friend to death once again, “Bellamy, we have to go.” She told him again, voice cracking as her words betrayed her friend.
Bellamy turned; his entire body clenched with half-formed thoughts of what Raven could only imagine had been his hopes for the next five years. Her friend had protected Clarke, stood by her, saved her so many times that there was no way he would make it through her death unscathed. Raven knew he would be forever marred by the death of his partner if Clarke didn’t run through those doors before she launched Becca’s rocket.
It was clear to anyone with eyes that Bellamy didn’t want to go, didn’t want to abandon Clarke, but Raven was absolutely determined to save at least one of their leaders today. Her mind screamed at her that they had to hurry, they didn’t have time to wait for Clarke. They would barely make it to space as it was. But her heart warred with her mind, trying to force her to give Clarke the minutes she might need to return to them. Unfortunately for her blonde best friend, her mind won over her heart.
She had to save them.
So, it was a good thing that Bellamy began to make his way to his seat inside the rocket, the tension and grief he was holding inside clear to everyone in the rocket. Raven knew it had to be the hardest thing he’d ever done, leaving their best friend to die to ensure their own survival. Raven’s heart clenched at the thought of a Bellamy without Clarke, of a world without Clarke.
“She isn’t coming?” Harper asked Bellamy, disbelief clear as day in her voice. Raven blanched at the crushed look Bellamy adopted in response. It didn’t seem like he could answer Harper’s question.
“Can’t we give her another minute?” Emori asked, having witnessed, like the rest of them, the broken look on his face, clear even through his helmet.
Bellamy’s voice was rough when he replied, “We’re out of time,” and Raven couldn’t help the tears that built up in her eyes then. The only solace she got was Bellamy saying, “This is what Clarke would want us to do. If we wait, then we die.” Raven knew, in her heart of hearts, that Clarke would never forgive them if they waited for her and died when they could’ve prevented it.
Murphy questioned if Clarke got the power on, and Raven’s mind immediately leapt to the worst possibilities. In an effort to remain confident in front of the rest of her crew, she brushed it off with a brusque, “We’ll know when we get there.” In reality, she knew that Clarke may not have even made it to the satellite tower, but Raven knew that Clarke would’ve done absolutely everything in her power to ensure their safe passage. She had to believe that Clarke had succeeded. Otherwise all of their efforts would be for nothing.
Breathing shakily through her pain at the idea of Clarke’s death, she ordered the computer to open the launch doors and then began the flight sequence.
They were leaving one of their own behind, one of the 100. And it couldn’t have been more difficult.
Bellamy clambered into his seat, staring out the rocket doors where Raven knew he longed for Clarke to appear. Bellamy didn’t even look away as he tried to strap himself into the seat, desperately trying to wait for the last possible second. On the other hand, Raven forced herself to look away, determined not to look so she wouldn’t have to witness what could possibly be the last moments when Bellamy still had his partner and she still had her best friend. She didn’t think she could handle staring out the doors desperately like Bellamy was, searching for someone who might never appear. Who probably wouldn’t ever appear.
“You sure about this?” she asked Bellamy, nearly begging him silently to tell her not to initiate the countdown.
“It’s the only choice,” was the only answer Bellamy gave her in response, refusing to take his eyes away from the rocket’s tiny door.
Raven gave the order for the countdown, her heart in her throat because she still had the tiniest bit of hope left that Clarke would appear.
And like the universe had just as much faith in Clarke Griffin as her friends did, she appeared at the top of the stairs, stumbling to the railing and nearly falling down the stairs in her desperation to reach the rocket.
Raven’s only warning of this was Bellamy bellowing at her to stop the countdown, and then flinging himself out of the rocket before he even knew if she was obeying his order. The six left inside the rocket stared dumbfounded at where Bellamy had just dived out of the rocket.
Then, suddenly, Bellamy was shouting for Murphy to help him, and Murphy was leaping towards the entrance to the rocket, and Raven was hollering at the computer to cease the countdown, and Echo and Emori were both leaping from their seats to help Murphy with whatever Bellamy needed, and Harper and Monty were shouting, “Clarke!” at the top of their lungs, voices filled with relief and hope once again.
Before Murphy reached the entrance to the rocket, or Emori and Echo had even unstrapped themselves, Raven got a clear view of Bellamy sweeping Clarke off her feet, one arm cradling her head, where she was clutching at her helmet. Raven shouted at Harper to grab the roll of duct tape she’d stored under Bellamy’s seat, and Harper immediately leapt across the tiny space, as soon as her last exuberant shout of, “Clarke!” had died out. Harper found the duct tape almost immediately, and began helping Monty open the straps of the previously unoccupied seat. The same seat that, just moments ago, Monty had been staring at, trying not to imagine what a future without Clarke with the seven of them would look like. The seat that would now be Clarke’s seat. Murphy and Echo dragged a screaming Clarke through the rocket’s tiny window entrance, and Emori immediately placed her hands on top of Clarke’s to try and keep the radiation that was making her scream in pain out of her helmet.
While trying to focus on keeping the rocket doors open while still continuing flight protocols, Raven distantly noted that Clarke continuing to scream and try to block out the air once she’d made it into the lab meant that the lab had been irradiated, at least to some extent, by Praimfaya already. Which meant she needed to get all of them the hell off of this damned planet as soon as possible.
Once he’d seen Clarke safely into the rocket, Bellamy clambered through the entrance into the rocket himself, nearly sprawling across the cramped floor before racing to help Harper strap Clarke in, who let Murphy take over tearing the duct tape. Raven immediately ordered the doors closed again, and shouted for everyone to return to their seats. Monty, Harper, and Echo immediately strapped themselves back in. Emori did as well, as soon as Clarke was strapped in and Bellamy could take over holding his hands over Clarke’s on top of the glass of her helmet. Murphy finally managed to tear several pieces of duct tape off the roll with his suit’s gloves making the action significantly more difficult, handing numerous pieces of tape over to Bellamy, as well as the roll, before returning to his seat beside Emori. The two of them quickly buckled Murphy in together.
Raven resumed the countdown as soon as everyone was at least back in their seats, and she spotted Clarke’s now released hands reaching for Bellamy’s straps. She heard the dull click of Bellamy’s last strap as the launch began, and she glanced away from her controls to make sure that Clarke’s helmet was at least mostly enclosed. She took a deep breath as they hit the upper atmosphere, now properly reassured that all eight of them were as safe as they could be. Now safer than before, with Clarke, because Raven knew, knew deep in her bones that Clarke would never have returned without getting the dish aligned to the Ark.
Raven pressed her head back against her seat as they hit the G-force required to reach space once more. She didn’t relax until she ordered the boost thrusters to be disengaged. And then, finally, FINALLY, they were in orbit, and she was back in zero-G. Despite the circumstances, she couldn’t help but grin at the feeling. She’d missed it.
Her happiness didn’t last long though, because she had to tell Murphy off for trying to float. They couldn’t do any of that today, not at the expense of their oxygen supply. She did, however, inform her ragtag crew that they’d be able to see the Ring, and sure enough, each of them got to catch a glimpse of it as the rocket drew closer to the space station.
“It’s light,” Raven said in relief at the confirmation of what she’d already known, turning to Clarke and smiling gratefully at her. She received a tired smile of her own in return, and she felt like her heart could burst of joy because Clarke was still with them! Her best friend was still alive, and so were the rest of them. They were nearly there, and she felt a hope that she hadn’t had within her much of late.
She unstrapped herself, ready for the spacewalk that would allow her to manually override the Ring’s controls and finally get her friends to safety. She flipped herself easily, her instincts and knowledge from her spacewalk aboard the Ark flowing through her once again. Raven smiled at Echo and Emori as they watched in awe and near disbelief, before Clarke’s voice cut into her thoughts.
“Raven?” Clarke asked, reaching a hand out for her own. Raven obliged, and held Clarke’s outstretched hand for a moment. “Just…be careful, okay?” Clarke continued, Bellamy nodding fervently next to her, all furrowed brows and worried protectiveness. Raven’s mind flashed back to a time where the dropship was her home, and nearly a hundred teenagers treated the two friends in front of her as surrogate parents. Mom and Dad indeed.
“What she said,” he echoed, and Raven gave each of them a fond nod, and a mischievous quirk of her eyebrow before allowing Bellamy and Murphy to propel her towards her spacewalk by her arms.
Before Bellamy released his straps, he exchanged a quick glance with Murphy. The other boy seemed to understand what Bellamy was asking of him and just nodded, eyes telling Bellamy he’d watch the Princess. Bellamy could almost hear Murphy’s voice saying, “Cockroaches stick together.”
Bellamy didn’t know when he’d started to look to John Murphy for help again, but he thought it had something to do with Murphy going back for Monty with him instead of ensuring his own survival by going straight back to the lab. Plus, Monty was halfway incapacitated at the moment due to his irradiated hands, and was probably on his way to passing out, again. Harper was too busy worrying about the state of her boyfriend, and he didn’t trust the two resident Grounders nearly enough to watch his partner. Even if they both owed Clarke their lives, even if Emori had asked Raven and him to give Clarke another minute. He couldn’t communicate his worry about Clarke to them regardless. Murphy knew him, knew Clarke, knew Clarke’s penchant for disregarding her own safety and wellbeing. Murphy and Clarke had an understanding, one that was beyond Bellamy’s purview, but not beyond his knowledge. He knew that Murphy would watch Clarke because he knew Clarke believed in Murphy. For whatever reason, Clarke was firmly on the side of John Murphy’s total redemption.
Bellamy couldn’t say that he was entirely opposed. If Clarke believed in Murphy, that was good enough for him.
With the confidence that Clarke was being watched over by someone relatively trustworthy, Bellamy released himself from his straps in order to keep an eye of Raven’s progress; the others automatically deferring to him for the job because Clarke was certainly in no shape to float around inside their rocket. He had no experience in zero-G, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him from keeping an eye on one of the people he cared about. Especially since said person was the one person who could probably get them all inside the Ring with minimal complications.
Raven had already reached the doors to the Ring by the looks of it, and she was glancing back at the rocket, because of course she knew he was watching. She nodded to inform him that the manual override was nearly complete. Bellamy felt relief rushing through every part of his body at the news. He hadn’t led the eight of them to their deaths. They were about to survive.
He heard Murphy and Emori’s quick conversation about their oxygen levels and told the rest of the group that the override was well on its way. He saw a couple smiles all around, and met Clarke’s smiling gaze with one of his own. Then, he turned back to watch for Raven, just in time to see her raise her fist in victory and begin the trek back. He headed towards the bottom of the rocket to reel her in, exchanging relieved smiles with nearly everyone in the cockpit.
Once Raven had returned, she and Bellamy both returned to their seats and strapped in. “Hold on, everybody, it’ll be a bumpy ride!” Raven told them all, sounding way too pleased at such news due to her adrenaline rush from the spacewalk. Clarke smiled softly at her friend’s happiness, and the pain from her irradiated face burned less harshly in the face of such hope.
Raven expertly piloted the rocket to dock at the makeshift “port” on the Ring. As soon as they got inside, and Raven managed to close the hangar doors that led to space, Monty leapt out of his seat, determined not to fail at his part in their plan. The rest of them followed Monty, keeping close to each other in fear of losing any of their number. Bellamy stuck close to Clarke’s side, side-eyeing her every few seconds to ensure that she wasn’t asphyxiating.
She allowed it because she knew how worried and frantic he’d been when she nearly hadn’t made it back in time to Becca’s lab. She’d heard his soft, “Thank God,” as he’d picked her up back when she’d just arrived. That didn’t mean she was going to let his protectiveness continue once they were all safe.
Monty stopped quickly and told them he needed a piece torn out of the wall, and before anyone else could act, Echo had torn the piece from the wall. Without pausing, Monty threw himself into his work, and Clarke willed him to hurry as she heard Raven collapse from lack of oxygen.
Clarke watched, frozen, as Emori yanked off her own helmet and began supplying Raven with her own oxygen. Clarke could see Murphy’s worried face from her own position beside Bellamy, only not removing his helmet because of Emori’s sharp words that she had more left.
Before she could start towards the trio across the hallway, her breath caught in her throat and suddenly she could no longer draw breath. She exchanged a fearful glance with Harper as they both began tearing off their respective helmets.
The moment Clarke and Harper started pulling off their helmets, Bellamy’s heart felt like he’d just run miles. No… he began to think, not them too. Because he’d already seen Emori and Murphy struggling with Raven across the hallway. Echo ripped off her helmet, immediately supplying Harper with oxygen when Clarke pointed at her. Bellamy was just about to tear his helmet off as well, when Echo jerked a finger in Monty’s direction. Monty, who was trying to get his helmet off to help Harper. Monty, who was the only one who knew how to get the oxygen back on.
Bellamy forced himself to make another heart-breaking decision, and shook his head at Monty, shoving him back towards the oxygen panel. Echo had already switched from Harper to Clarke back to herself and then to Harper again. Bellamy made another decision, and removed his helmet as well, as soon as Monty was back on track, watching Murphy do the same across the hallway. Bellamy knelt, giving his supplemental oxygen to Clarke, and making sure that Echo knew he had Clarke.
Bellamy couldn’t hear anything beyond the roaring in his brain that was telling him to keep his friends safe. But, if he had been able to hear, he would’ve been privy to the normally level-headed Monty loudly hurrying through his job frantically, barely managing not to look at his friends, to check on Harper.
With Clarke gulping oxygen from his supplemental supply, Bellamy chanced a glance at the three across the hall. Emori, it seemed, had run out of oxygen, and Murphy was struggling to keep both girls, AND himself supplied. Bellamy’s internal monologue became a bunch of incoherent shouting as he watched them run out of shared air across the hallway.
Clarke handed over his oxygen, and Bellamy took a few hurried breaths before Echo was hitting his arm, eyes frantic because she and Harper no longer had oxygen. Bellamy handed over his oxygen immediately, watching Echo place it over Harper’s nose and mouth, then her own. He and Clarke helped Harper roll towards the vents in preparation for its oxygen, just as Bellamy felt a weight crash on top of him.
Bellamy dragged Monty towards Echo, who was still holding his oxygen, Clarke tearing off his helmet as they went, and Echo placed the mask over Monty’s nose and mouth. Bellamy stood up, desperate to complete Monty’s job before they all ran out of oxygen. After Echo placed the oxygen over his face, Monty seemed to jerk himself back to alertness.
“Flip the switch,” he groaned out softly, before collapsing back against the vents. Bellamy immediately did what he was told, and then stumbled sideways, falling away from the vents, feeling light-headed from the lack of oxygen he’d had in the past minute or so. He tried to drag himself closer to the vents, closer to his friends, but he tried to draw breath, forgetting, for a moment, the situation. He blacked out pretty quickly after that.
Clarke, seeing both Bellamy and Echo fading, grabbed the oxygen from Echo, trying to get some to Bellamy because he was the furthest from the vents. She reached him and placed the mask over his face, willing him to take another breath. When he didn’t, she realized Bellamy’s supplemental oxygen was out now too.
She figured she had about ten more seconds where she could go without oxygen, so she tried to drag Bellamy’s dead weight over to the vents in those few seconds. But, her body and lungs gave out on her before she accomplished even the much, and she collapsed beside her best friend, away from the vents, too far.
And then, suddenly, miraculously, she felt a pair of arms dragging her towards the vents. No no no no no, she could move towards the air on her own, but Bellamy was completely out, he couldn’t. She began to move on her own, dragging herself towards oxygen, gesturing madly at Bellamy, willing whoever was helping her to understand. Echo, who had been trying to help her, obliged. Once she reached the vents, she turned sideways and saw Harper’s relieved face beside hers, then felt Bellamy’s weight settle between her and Harper. Monty, seeing Harper breathing, had helped Echo drag Bellamy over to the vent system.
As soon as Clarke was breathing nearly steadily, she looked around towards Murphy, Raven, and Emori. Murphy and Emori seemed to be in the process of dragging Raven towards the vents.
And suddenly, with her oxygen restored, and her friends safe, Clarke felt like she could breathe again. Literally and metaphorically. She felt the steady hands of her best friend on her arm, reassuring her that the five on their side of the hallway were safe. She turned to Bellamy, nodding their other friends’ safety to him. Then, they both closed their eyes in relief and just breathed in the sweet oxygen coming from the vents, surrounded by the six people that they were going to be living with for the next five years.
It was only a couple hours later, after they’d all settled down from the journey they’d undertaken just half a day ago. Bellamy was staring out one of the windows of the Ring, reminded of Octavia’s expression of wonder at seeing the world outside their tiny room for the first time.
He looked down, gazing at the world burning, on fire, below. His sister was down there somewhere, not alone, but certainly not entirely safe either. He didn’t regret continuing to Becca’s lab in order to save Raven, but neither did he feel good about leaving his little sister behind for the next five years.
However, before Bellamy’s guilt-inducing thoughts could reach much further than that, a voice cut through his internal monologue.
“So. We made it,” Clarke told him, walking up beside him quietly. “All of us, we’re safe.”
Bellamy could only nod, his thoughts still on Octavia and what her life for the next five years would look like.
Bellamy caught Clarke’s audible sigh just before she asked him softly, “Octavia?” And suddenly Bellamy is thrown back to a time, just six months earlier, when she had asked the same question. This time Bellamy knew his little sister loved him, had forgiven him for his mistakes with Pike, and his role in Lincoln’s death. This time he was at peace with his sister. Or as at peace as he could be having had their goodbye cut short by the radio being cut off.
This time, Clarke’s question wasn’t born out of concern for the hurt he felt at Octavia’s hands, but rather the worry he felt for his little sister. None of them had any way of knowing whether or not the people in the bunker had survived or not. And until Raven, hopefully, got communications up and running, that wasn’t going to change anytime soon.
Clarke’s question drew a silent, assenting nod from him. They both knew he was worried about his little sister. They also both knew that there wasn’t anything that could be done to change that. He was going to worry about Octavia every day until the next time he saw her. After all, she may have become ‘queen of the Grounders’, as Murphy had put it, but she was still his little sister. No matter what had happened between them, they were family still.
Bellamy looked into Clarke’s eyes, searching for his partner’s reassurance, her confidence that their people would be safe for the five long years they had waiting ahead of them. In her eyes, he found determination and safety and most of all: hope.
Neither of them said a word, but Clarke’s eyes told Bellamy everything he needed to know about her feelings about the coming five years of waiting. She knew they could make it. The eight of them were resourceful, they were survivors and criminals and leaders and geniuses. If anybody could survive five years alone in space, it was the eight of them.
Bellamy’s fingers brushed Clarke’s as the pair turned to look back down on what had been their home for the past year, burning and roaring its rage at the universe. They could understand the feeling.
It would be a long five years, no doubt, but they had each other. For once, at the end of a crisis, they were entirely together and at peace with each other.