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The More Things Change

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Bellamy put down his axe, wiping the sweat from his forehead with his arm. It was incredible (and a little annoying) to him, really, that even this early in the spring that it was so muggy out. Still, he had to admit it was a nice change after the brutally dry and cold winter the camp had had. As the sun beat down on him, he itched to get back to chopping up the stripped log in front of him, but his internal clock told him it was about time for Octavia’s visit.

Dropping onto the log, he stretched out his legs, looking across the yard for his sister’s figure. Sure enough, within a minute, there she was, walking right to him. He watched her approach, debating between a smile and an eye roll to greet her, because he loved her, but the whole watchdog routine was getting old.

“You’re working real hard there,” she greeted him dryly.

“It’s hard to get work done when you keep interrupting,” he said, taking her offered canteen and slugging down some water while she pursed her lips.

“Somebody’s got to take care of you,” she muttered.

Bellamy laughed. “When did I become the responsibility and you the caretaker?”

He expected a pointed retort or, at the very least, a smart-ass grin from Octavia for that comment, but instead she stared at him, concern in her eyes.

“What?” He asked, not liking the cautious way she was holding back her words.

She shook her head, as if trying to downplay whatever tension she was feeling, motioning for the canteen instead. Bellamy passed it over, but he didn’t want to let this go. It wasn’t like Octavia to keep her opinions to herself, and his mind raced at what could be bothering her.

“Spit it out, O.”

“Is it so bad I’m looking out for you?”

“No, but you check up on me once, probably twice a day. What gives?”

“You’re sad, Bell.”

Bellamy snorted, shaking his head. Sad was the last thing he was. Sure, it had been a hard winter, but Harper’s nightmares had finally died down to once every few weeks instead of every few days, the new cabins were being constructed, and his and Monty’s positions on the Council were solid. His people were moving on from surviving to living, and would soon be thriving. He couldn’t ask for much better circumstances.

“I’m fine, O. Go worry about Lincoln, or Jasper for that matter. God knows he needs someone watching him,” he replied, standing and reaching for the axe. “I’m good.”

“I know you,” she pressed, catching his arm with a firm hand. “You smile, but you don’t mean it. It’s the way you used to smile at me back on the Ark. There was always bitterness in it. I saw it then, and I see it now.”

Shaking off her grip, he kicked at the log at his feet, not liking how her words settled too comfortably in his chest. They stirred up a tightness, one that came over him when Kane looked to him alone for a decision or when he woke wide awake in the dead of night, gasping at the mountain memories from months ago. Looking up, he caught Octavia staring at him, a fierce but understanding expression on her face.

“You’re not happy, Bell. Content, at best, maybe. But you’re not happy.”

Sighing, Bellamy tapped the head of the axe on the ground a few times before answering. “I’m working on it, O. It’s better than it used to be.”

“You miss her,” Octavia said quietly, shifting closer to him, as if she expected him to cut and run at her words.

Tilting his head, he turned away from his sister. “I do, but she’s gone, and I have our people to take care of.”

“Bell—”

“Octavia,” he warned, because they had had this fight before. Surprisingly, though, when he looked down at her, the animosity that usually shadowed her eyes when they talked about Clarke was no longer there. Reaching up, he tugged on one of her braids, feeling relieved when she finally smiled.  

“I told you, it’s getting better.”

“Alright,” she relented grudgingly. “I’m still gonna check up on you, though.”

“Payback for all my worrying about you, huh?” He teased, trying to coax her back into a happier mood, hating that his own storminess was wearing on her.

She laughed, punching him in the upper arm. “Damn straight.”

Grinning, he pulled her in tight, smacking a loud, wet kiss to her forehead. Just as she groaned and tried to poke him in the side in retaliation, the warning bell sounded, signaling someone at the gate.

“Are we expecting a Trigedakru contingent this week?” He asked, his stomach sinking when Octavia tensed and shook her head.

“This can’t be good,” he muttered, reaching for his gun. Octavia unsheathed the sword at her back, setting off at a jog. He wasn’t that far behind her, so when she stopped dead at the now open gate, he practically slammed into her, not expecting the pause.

“Oh my god,” she breathed. “Bell, oh my god.”

“What?” He barked, gripping his rifle tighter because of course this peace wouldn’t last long.

“She’s back.”

Bellamy heard the words, but he didn’t believe it. Looking out towards the tree line, he saw a small crowd gathered around a familiar head of blonde, one that was tucked into shoulder after shoulder as their people enveloped her in hugs.

“She’s back!” Octavia practically yelled, whipped around to clasp Bellamy’s shoulder tightly. Her face lit up with anxious excitement, which softened when he looked at her. “I’ll tell everybody. You go see her, okay?”

Without waiting for an answer, she darted off, running for the Ark, presumably to find Monty and Raven and whoever else she thought should know. As Bellamy willed himself to move towards her, though, he found his feet planted firmly in place. Indecision overwhelmed him, and he contemplated following his sister, not quite sure how to deal with the surge of anxiety and happiness welling up in his chest, which he suspected would get even worse when he got closer. The choice to greet Clarke now rather than later was made for him, though, when she and the others started walking back to camp.

The closer she got, the tighter his chest felt—what the hell was with that, he thought in annoyance. He took a deep breath in and leaned against one of the entrance posts, gaze flicking between his mud-caked boots and the approaching group. The various delinquents and Arkers passed him as they filtered back into the yard, chatting and grinning happily, with Clarke following, though she remained further and further towards the back of the group. Finally, it was just Abby left in front of her, who, after squeezing her daughter’s arm, smiled at Bellamy before leaving him alone with Clarke.

“Hi,” she said, drawing out the word gently. She smiled, just a bit, watching him in that assessing, careful way of hers. Swallowing thickly, Bellamy nodded at her, dropping his head to hide his growing grin.

“Hey,” he murmured, lifting his head back up and catching her eye, watching as she pressed her lips together in amusement. “Welcome back.”

“It’s good to be here,” she said, her tone light but serious. The knots in his chest eased, and Bellamy huffed out a breath, because she sounded certain, resolute. He couldn’t help but to continue grinning at her, and her own smile only grew in response.

After letting out an awkward, quiet laugh that had him shaking his head in amusement, she started forward to walk into the camp. Thinking quickly, because maybe she deserved a little bit of a hard time for leaving, Bellamy kicked out a leg, halting her. She stared up at him, worried lines starting to crease her forehead. As she backed up a step, her expression falling, he cleared his throat and said, “Password.”

Her mouth parted in confusion, then she closed her eyes and huffed disbelievingly, a small smile gracing her face.

“Asshole,” she said decisively, staring him down.

“Nope, not it,” he said calmly. “Try again.”

“Bellamy Blake is a dic—”

“Enh,” he interrupted. “Come on, there are kids around.”

“Whatever the hell we want,” she said mockingly

Grinning, Bellamy shook his head. “Cute, but no. One last try.”

“I missed you.”

His breath caught at her earnest openness in her eyes, and then he grinned. Moving forward, he leaned down to drop a soft kiss onto her cheek, hugging her tightly afterwards. When he pulled away, she was smiling, and so he replied, “I missed you, too.”

“So, am I allowed in now?” Clarke asked, raising an eyebrow expectantly.

Sliding a hand against her lower back, Bellamy pushed her forward a bit forcefully, laughing as she shot him a dirty look. “Right behind you,” he teased, stepping up to her side.

As they walked towards the Ark, where her loved ones where no doubt waiting for her, Bellamy couldn’t help but point out the progress they had made with the camp. The cabins, the expanded food-prep area, the fortified defenses, the beginnings of the greenhouse. As he rambled, he realized there was no awkwardness, no resentment, no distance between him and her. For all the time he spent worrying about how it would feel to have Clarke back (if she came back, because he really hadn’t been sure), the easy camaraderie that existed between them still, even after so much time apart, surprised him. It wasn’t until they were almost at the Ark that he registered the wide grin on Clarke’s face, her eyes dancing with laughter.

“What?” He asked.

“Sorry,” she said, shaking her head, still smiling. “It’s just—you’re different.”

He stopped walking, looking at her again in puzzlement. “How?”

“I don’t know,” she said, shrugging. She bit her lip, looking up at him. Her gaze softened as she continued to stare, and Bellamy shifted, a bit uncomfortable with her intensity. “You just sound, proud, I guess. And you should be,” she finished in a rush, hands flexing as if to ward off his protest. “You’ve done so good here. It’s really—it’s wonderful.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Her answer, and the sureness in it, wasn’t something Bellamy needed, because it was true: he was damn proud of what their people had been able to accomplish, and he didn’t need anyone else’s approval to feel that way. Regardless, it was nice to hear her say it, so he smiled, walking forward again. He was so busy looking at Clarke, who was still smiling widely too, that he almost ran into Octavia.

“Hey,” she said, glancing between him and Clarke shrewdly. “You should hurry up,” she advised Clarke. “I don’t think I can hold back the adoring masses much longer.”

With a laugh, Clarke touched Octavia’s arm before moving down the hall to the Council room. Bellamy went to follow, trying to ignore the smug energy radiating off his sister.

“You seem better,” she said, her tone annoyingly knowing.

“I told you I was fine,” Bellamy replied evenly. “You were worried for nothing.”

“Uh huh,” Octavia murmured.

“It’s good to have her back,” he admitted, feeling the corners of his lips curve up into yet another smile.

Suddenly, his sister jerked him to a stop, looking up at him with a calculating stare. Her eyes widened as she took in his (yes, still smiling) face, and then she let out a small bark of a laugh.

“Oh man,” she said, steepling her hands against her mouth.

“What?” Bellamy said, folding his arms over his chest because that look on his sister’s face never led to anything other than laughter from her and a headache for him.

Shaking her head, Octavia started walking again as she called a singsong ‘nothing’ over her shoulder. Grumbling, he started after her, intending on demanding that she explain what she was so pleased about, but they reached the raucous reunion in the Council room before he could pursue it. Sighing, he let it go for now, because Clarke was back, and well, that was something well worth celebrating without distraction.