When the flames finally recede and they can leave the dropship, they run for their lives.
Bellamy is the first out of the Dropship to step on to the charcoaled ground, flames burning up the trees surrounding the edges of their camp. The kids that made it back follow him out, standing close to the ship, wary and afraid of some new threat now their home has been utterly destroyed.
“What do we do now?” asks Harper, clearing her throat. She looks too comfortable with the gun slung over her shoulder for only 17. Bellamy is inspecting the charred skull of a grounder with his foot as the kids turn from Harper’s question to look over at him. Clarke stands stoic to his left. He lifts his eyes up to hers in silent question.
She worries her lip and twists her head, surveying the blackened floor of the Dropship camp, charred bodies littered around where they used to eat and sleep. She meets his stare and swallows thickly. Bellamy nods his head. You got this.
“Go get your stuff from inside – we’re still leaving. Be ready to go in ten.”
Not even twelve hours ago he had been ready to part ways with these kids, to stay in this camp and let them battle their way across unfriendly terrain to the sea. A lot can happen in twelve hours.
The kids begin to move, up the steely ramp and back into the ship to grab whatever supplies they’d managed to salvage before the door went up.
So they leave, again.
Bellamy’s neck prickles as he counts the last of the delinquents out of the camp, Finn noticeably absent.
He hopes the ocean will be kinder to them than the land.
Lincoln strides to the front of the group, his feet setting the path for their new home. Octavia joins him, arms bumping as they walk. She has the faintest trace of a limp, putting more pressure on the leg devoid of a tourniquet.
Clarke had been able to stitch up the slice on her thigh after they’d closed the Dropship door, Lincoln rummaging through the small clutch of medicines he’d left on his first escape from the camp. There was a single vile, a sludgy grey paste that he’d tipped up into Octavia’s mouth.
Bellamy inches himself further up the group to walk behind them, gun pointed at the treeline. O’s jaw clenches as she walks, wincing every time her injured leg comes down, but never making a sound.
“Bell, you don’t need to hover over me. I’m fine. I can take care of myself,” Octavia says after catching sight of him from the corner of her eye.
He blinks at her and lowers his gun. She’s right of course, she hasn’t needed him to take care of her for a while now. It still stings a little to hear it said out loud.
Their progress is slow going – the group hasn’t slept for the better part of two days, and there are fewer of them to carry the heavy packs of tarpaulins and dried food.
He drops back, passes Miller in the process, giving him a stern nod as he goes. He tries to catch Raven’s eye as he passes her stretcher but she stare blankly up at the sky, face ashen and eyelashes clumped together.
Clarke trails right at the back of the ground, face turned straight ahead. He slows his pace almost imperceptibly until they fall in to step with each other. There are dried tear marks on her face. They walk together for a few moment before Clarke clears her throat.
“You’re a real creeper, you know that.”
A puff of air escapes Bellamy’s lips in amusement, then he furrows his brow at Clarke for her to elaborate.
“Octavia’s a big girl, you know. She has a katana. She could definitely take out a few surprise grounders.”
He laughs this time. Levity is not something that passes between them very often.
“I’m becoming increasingly aware of that fact.”
Clarke smiles brightly.
“Good. I’m not sure even I’d have the expertise to patch you up if she kicked your ass.”
“I feel like it’s more of a question of when she kicks my ass.”
“Fair,” Clarke replies.
They fall quiet after that, walking in companionable silence, watching the kids they have fought to protect.
The morning passes in to the afternoon, sun beams piercing through the canopy above and on to the forest floor. As the day wears on, the sun moves from its spot high in the sky down past the tree level, the light low and hazy.
Lincoln sends Octavia to where Bellamy and Clarke hang at the back of their party – they should stop for rest soon. Looking for somewhere to bed down for the night is much harder after dark.
After another half an hour, they come across a small gathering of trees, packed tightly enough that the canopy of leaves will shield them from the worst of a storm if it comes to that. Most of the kids don’t have a sleeping roll anymore – most of their comforts taken by the fire or left in the hurry to return to the Dropship as the grounders attacked.
Darkness descends upon their clearing pretty quickly after that. Bellamy finds an empty spot by one of the trees, and sits down. His feet are tired from walking half the day.
He’s hardly stretched out before Clarke appears beside him, handing him a slice of apple speared on the end of her knife wordlessly. He takes it and pops it in his mouth; it’s sweet. She crosses her legs and continues to attack the apple with her knife, passing him the occasional slice. When she’s finished she tosses the core behind her, into the gloom of the woods, and sits back against the tree he is resting on.
The last time they did this, he was covered in blood and there was a dead body at their feet. Now they are surrounded by 40 odd of sleeping kids.
Clarke sighs heavily.
“Do you want to talk about it?” he asks softly. It’s too dark to make out her face so he’ll have to wing it from the tone of her voice.
“What’s there to talk about?” she replies, an edge creeping in to her voice.
“Clarke, I know you loved Finn-”
“I didn’t love him” she interrupts. Her voice is closer now, her head probably turned toward him.
“I could have,” she starts, than stops herself. “Maybe. If not for Raven.”
Bellamy knows you shouldn’t think ill of the dead, but he cannot fathom in what dimension Finn thought it was okay to string along two girls like Raven and Clarke.
“Still, he was your friend.”
“He was your friend too.”
“I don’t think we were as friendly as you two were.”
He’s heard the rumours, and the look of utter desolation on Raven’s face that night she’d come to his tent as much as confirmed them.
Clarke laughs lowly, then sniffs.
“He’s dead because of me. Who knows how many others of our own were caught out in that blast?”
He knows this feeling, has felt it squirm low in his gut at night when all he can see are the faces of the people he has let down. He hates that that prickling sensation has wormed its way into Clarke, forcing itself into her life through the necessity of her actions.
“Clarke,” he says, words dying in his throat. He digs deep and recalls her words from the last time they sat underneath a tree together. This is important, and he needs to get it right.
“What you did saved all these kids,” he pauses. The clearing is filled with the slow breaths of the delinquents, a few low murmurs drifting across to their tree. He regrets not being able to be with her in those last moments, to nods his head, help pull the lever. He’d been too preoccupied with an injured Octavia on the upper floor of the Dropship.
“You saved us all. Now we have a chance, a real chance, to build something for ourselves.”
He can hear Clarke swallow. He hears an intake of breath, reading herself to reply. But she stays silent a moment longer.
“What if they follow us? What if Lincoln’s friends don’t want us there? Too much can go wrong.”
“True. But a lot more could go right.”
Despite having only known Clarke just over a month, he knows her silence doesn’t mean she’s not listening. Her breathing is steady but not the slow, even in and out of someone who has fallen asleep. He can practically hear the thoughts buzzing through her head. He has those same thoughts himself.
Bellamy’s arm brushes against Clarke’s gingerly. He flexes his fingers and reaches his hand out blindly in the dark. He can vaguely place Clarke’s hand from the feel of her arm, so fumbles for a moment before picking it up in his own and giving it a comforting squeeze. He feels such a warm rush of affection for this girl it startles him.
“We’ll figure it out, Clarke. We always do.”
The next morning, Bellamy comes to consciousness slowly. The woods are filled with a dawn chorus, birds chirping happily away in their trees with little regard for his sleep schedule. His neck is stiff, his feet ache and he feels a scratchiness behind his eyes that suggests he’s definitely still lacking a few hours of sleep.
Clarke is passed out next to him, her forehead skimming the edge of his shoulder. He smiles.
Bellamy will take his people to the ocean and build a new life for them. He will watch his sister get to exist beyond the confines of a metal box. He stands up to stretch his muscles, leaving Clarke leaning against the trunk of the tree.
Despite, all the aches, all the pain and the grief and desperation – he will get to have a tomorrow. For the first time in a long time, he is excited about that.
When Clarke stirs, she sits up and squints at him in the early morning light.
“Last ones to bed, first ones up. Why do I get the feeling this is going to be a pattern.”
Bellamy leans down to help her up. She stands and dusts the bits of ground that have clung to her clothes with her palms.
“You’re probably not wrong,” he says
He crosses his arms to survey the kids asleep around them.
“You ready?” he asks.
Clarke stifles a yawn and grins back at him.
“As I’ll ever be.”