Bellamy woke to the sound of laughter.
Blinking sleepily, he looked at the clock — almost 10 a.m. — and frowned at the echo of his sister yelling, “I know!” followed by giggles and shushing sounds.
He didn’t remember drinking last night, but he must have had something, because he felt disoriented and his head was pounding like a bitch.
With a groan, he rolled out of bed and stumbled down the hall to the kitchen, scrubbing a hand over his face before leaning in the doorway. Octavia was sitting cross-legged on the counter eating cereal and talking a mile a minute, not really trying to keep her voice down, while Clarke was leaning on the center island —
— Clarke? Wait. Clarke isn’t here. She’s … gone. She left. Didn’t she? —
— tiny running shorts showing off her tan, lean legs. She’d obviously just gotten back from a run; her skin looked flushed and damp and strands of hair were escaping her ponytail and sticking to her neck. She gulped water out of a plastic Minnie Mouse cup, and his eyes traced the column of her neck as she swallowed, lingering on the mark that he’d left there yesterday. He could practically still taste her skin, hear her gasp when he used his teeth and tongue on that sensitive spot.
She was so beautiful, he was crazy about her, and he didn’t think there would ever be a moment when he didn’t want her. If O wasn’t in the room … But since he was standing there in nothing but his boxer briefs, it was probably best not to linger on memories of that late night last week, when he’d had Clarke half-naked and bent over that very same counter.
“Oh, shit, we woke him up,” Octavia said, jerking Bellamy’s attention away from his girlfriend’s assets and onto his sister frowning at him.
“Aww,” Clarke said, setting her cup to the side and moving over to put her arms around him. “Poor baby, you must have had to work late. I didn’t hear you come home at all.”
“Yeah,” he said, bumping his nose into hers. “Miller called in sick, so I had to close up by myself.”
He looked down at Clarke, curled around him, warm and soft (—alive —) against his skin. She smelled of vanilla and the strawberry of her shampoo, mixed with the scent of perspiration, and she smiled sweetly as she pushed up on her toes and pressed a kiss at the edge of his mouth.
“May we meet again,” he murmured without thinking.
“Hmmm?” she burrowed back into his chest. “Did you say ‘may we meet again’?”
He wasn’t really sure where the words had come from. All he knew was that it gave him a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, and he didn’t like hearing her say them at all. Thinking about it made his head hurt even more. “I don’t … I think it was in a dream.”
“Well, you should go back to bed,” his sister said. “You look like hell.”
“Thanks, O,” he said dryly, trying to shake off the gloomy feeling. “But it’d be easier to sleep if you possessed something like an indoor voice.”
“I’m leaving in five,” she said with a shrug. “I’ve gotta get to work.”
“In that case, I will go back to bed,” he said, smiling at Clarke. “I don’t suppose I could convince you to come with me?”
“Ugh,” Octavia said, hopping down from the counter and dumping her bowl in the sink. “Nevermind; I’m out. See you two losers later.”
“I hate to turn down an offer to get you in bed,” Clarke said, grinning up at him. “But I’m a sweaty mess; I’ve got to have a shower.”
He nodded and dropped a kiss on her mouth before she pulled away, dragging her nails lightly down his bare chest as she went. “However, I could always use some help in there, if you’re up for it.”
Laughing, he watched her walk down the hallway, clearly putting a little more sway in her hips, a gesture he greatly appreciated. “Babe, it hurts me that you even have to ask.”
Following her down the hall, he paused for a moment, looking at the photos hanging on the wall. Bellamy, Octavia and their mom. O’s first bike. Aurora and O hugging him on graduation day. One of him with Clarke, dressed up for some boring-as-hell hospital fundraiser and making goofy faces that were completely at odds with their formalwear.
He was hit suddenly by the sense of something wrong, like someone had shifted every photo just slightly out of position. It wasn’t like he was OCD or anything, but the change nagged at him. He couldn’t quite put his finger on what was off, but —
“Get a move on!” Clarke called as her tank top landed on his head. He chuckled and tossed it to the side, following his girl, weird moment forgotten.
She was already stripped and standing in the shower when he got to the bathroom, and he peeled off his briefs, pulling back the curtain to join her.
“I missed you,” he said, moving behind her and kissing her shoulder while his arms snaked around her waist. “Feels like I haven’t seen you in forever.”
“It’s been less than 24 hours,” she said, laughing and turning her face up into the spray of water. “Don’t be so dramatic, Bellamy.”
She turned in his arms, tugging his head down to kiss him.
— “Bellamy! Bellamy! Dammit, wake up! We don’t have time for this!” —
Clarke pulled back with a frown. “What did you call me?”
“I wasn’t …” he closed his eyes, confused, wincing as his headache spiked. What the hell was wrong with him? “I thought I heard Raven.”
She reached her hand up and cupped his face. “You really are out of it. Raven and Wick are at his parents’, remember? In Ohio?”
“I don’t —”
— “Bellamy, I’m not kidding, you need to wake up right now, dammit!”
“Reyes, we’re running out of time,” a voice growled. Was that … Murphy?
“Bellamy! Bellamy Blake!” —
Bellamy jumped to attention, meeting his commanding officer’s eyes and pushing aside the headache that he couldn’t seem to shake. “Yes sir!”
Kane was frowning at him, never a good sign. “Am I boring you?”
“Never, sir.” Bellamy held back a wince at his own flippant answer. Yes, Blake, way to antagonize the man who could put you on latrine duty for the foreseeable future.
Kane looked like he wanted to ream him out, but instead he continued. “I asked if you think you can get Green in there?”
Bellamy glanced at the young scientist, who was sitting on the threadbare, puke beige couch in Kane’s office, slim fingers picking at the knees of his worn-looking khakis. Monty Green was clearly nervous, but he returned Bellamy’s nod with a small smile.
“Yes sir, no problem. I’ll take a small team; we’ll be in and out before they ever know we’re there.” Bellamy spoke to Kane, but his confident words were mostly for Monty’s sake.
He wondered if he’d imagined the tiny quirk of a smile on Kane’s face. The man was a total hardass, but even he, like everyone else in their unit, had a little soft spot for Monty.
The kid was young, too young to be involved in something like this, but war was hell. They had to use whatever advantages they could, and Monty Green’s brain was one of their best assets.
“Agreed,” his commander nodded sharply. “Miller, Griffin!”
Bellamy bit back a grin as the two entered Kane’s office. Given his own choice of a team, he’d have picked those two, exactly. Nathan Miller was one of his best friends and a damn good soldier. He wasn’t always the most outwardly friendly guy, but you knew he’d have your back no matter what. Clarke Griffin was smart and strong, dependable and ruthless. She would literally do whatever she had to do to protect the team, especially Monty. As an added bonus, she hated Bellamy’s guts and made no effort to hide it. It amused him to no end; antagonizing her was his greatest source of amusement in this shitty world.
Nathan nodded back, and Clarke glared at him —
— No, that’s not right, not anymore. Clarke is … she’s my friend. Isn’t she? —
“He’d do anything for her. To protect her,” his own voice echoed in his head as his vision blurred.
Clarke was just where he’d expected to find her, legs stretched out, toes and fingers digging under the sand, watching a bunch of the kids playing in the surf while the sunrise bloomed bright behind them. It was a gorgeous sight: A beautiful girl on a beautiful beach, with no conflicts or enemies to be found. It was almost enough to make him forget what a hellhole earth had turned out to be.
But they were past the worst now, he hoped. They’d made a run from the Grounders, and miracle of miracles, they’d succeeded and made it all the way to the coast. He’d thought they wouldn’t stand a chance, and he had never been happier to be wrong in his life. They were safe, and they hadn’t lost a single person in the trip. It was time to focus on the future.
He dropped onto the ground next to Clarke, eyes on his sister, who was screaming with laughter as Monty and Jasper double-teamed her, dragging her into the ocean with them.
“We made it,” he said, rolling his eyes at himself for speaking the obvious.
“We did,” Clarke said, turning to gift him with a smile full of hope and promise. “What now, though? ‘Whatever the hell we want’?”
“Sure, maybe,” he said, reaching out to slide his hand under the sand and link his fingers with hers.
Sighing, she pulled her hand away, folding both in her lap and looking back toward the ocean. “You know we can’t.”
“Bullshit. You’re not even with him.” His voice sounded whiny and pathetic to his own ears, and it pissed him off. He was not that guy, the one who pined over a girl he couldn’t have. He rubbed at his throbbing forehead and scowled. Part of him wanted to get up, walk away now. He could think of several girls off-hand who would be happy to go off somewhere private with him right now. Surely some meaningless sex with a willing girl would cut through this weird limbo he was in with Clarke.
Despite the thought, he didn’t move from her side, and he knew he probably never would.
“I know, but he … he needs me. If he finds out about us, I don’t know what he’ll do. You know he hasn’t been the same since he killed those Grounders to save me.”
He shook his head. “What he needs is to pull his shit together. We’ve all done things to survive down here, and it’s a bitch, but this is our life now. We all have to suck it up and move forward.”
“He’s getting better,” she argued, looking back at him, almost pleading. “I just need a little more time. Finn is —”
“Dead.” He wasn’t sure where the word came from, but once he’d said it, he knew that it was true. His headache suddenly spiked, then faded. Though he could see with his own eyes Spacewalker sitting further down the beach with Raven, he somehow knew. “Finn’s dead. You killed him.”
“What?” Clarke looked horrified. “What the hell, Bellamy? He’s right there!”
Shaking his head, Bellamy turned to look again, watching as Finn literally blinked out of existence, leaving Raven alone.
“What. The. —”
Bellamy opened his eyes.
“Oh, thank God,” Raven said, looking to the side. “He’s awake!”
Murphy came up beside them while he took in his surroundings.
“What … where?”
Raven and Murphy exchanged a look.
“What’s the last thing you remember?” Raven asked.
He tried to put his hand to his hurting head, eyes widening when he realized he couldn’t move. Instantly he panicked, trying — and failing — to move his arms, until he felt a hand on his arm.
“You’re restrained,” Raven said calmly, waving a screwdriver at him. “I’m trying to get you free, but you’re hooked up to a bunch of wires and shit, and I don’t want to electrocute myself. Or you.”
She bent to her task, and he felt her nudge his hip. “Tell us what you remember.”
“Um.” Bellamy stared at the ceiling. He remembered Clarke leaving. “May we meet again.” Fighting the urge to go after her. Fighting that urge every damn day for weeks. Then, being on guard duty when …
“The drone,” he said. He’d wanted to shoot the flying robot out of the sky, but Kane wanted to see who it belonged to; technology like that was unheard of among the Grounders, and thanks to him and Clarke all the Mountain Men were dead. “It had a message from Jaha.”
In a video carried on the drone, the former chancellor had warned of a threat that he had to share in person. He’d included a map and asked for help.
Bellamy hadn’t trusted Jaha at all, and probably never would, but the excuse to get the hell out of camp and do something was too tempting. And maybe it crossed his mind that he might run into a certain blonde out there. It was stupid, he knew. The world was a big place, and what were the chances that they’d end up in the same place again, unless she decided to come home?
Octavia had insisted on coming, which meant Lincoln would, too. Jaha had mentioned needing help with a bomb, so Raven and Wick had made up the rest of the party. Miller had wanted to come, but Bellamy didn’t feel comfortable leaving the rest of the young people without someone to look after them, and he’d asked Miller and Monty to stay. Clarke’s mom had been much better lately, and they’d even kind of bonded a little bit over missing her, but he still felt wary of the adults’ leadership.
“The mansion,” he said hoarsely, remembering where the map had landed them. The journey had taken over a week, and they’d ended up at a giant house with a perfectly groomed lawn, the only building for miles, looking untouched by war. A flock of drones soared around the grounds like birds. They’d never even seen Jaha but had been immediately attacked by strangers.
“Look,” Murphy said hurriedly. “There’s no time for this. You got captured by some nutcases who think this … hologram bitch is their god. She runs this place, and they do whatever she asks. They hook people up to this virtual reality thing. It shows them different worlds, different lives, better lives …”
“Murphy helped some of us get free before they could hook us up,” Raven said, shooting an unreadable look at the guy. Bellamy was kind of shocked to find them working together. Murphy had nearly killed her, and she had tried to turn him over to the Grounders last time they’d seen him. “But they got you and Lincoln. If I don’t get you guys free, your sister’s gonna kill me.”
“They’re coming,” Murphy hissed. “We’ve got to hide.”
Raven sighed, reaching for something out of Bellamy’s vision. He immediately felt his mind getting cloudier. “I’m putting you back under,” she said. “Just … don’t fight it. Think of it as trying to get back to a good dream. I promise, Bellamy, I promise I’m coming back for you.”
This time, he knew it was all in his head, but he still marveled at how real it all felt. Stretched out on the bed, he felt the softness of the sheets under his legs and the pillow propped up behind him. The book he held (an actual paperbound book) was solid in his hands, its pages worn from being read so often. And he had actual memories of times he’d read it before, the first time when he was 12 years old and it had been a gift from his mother. He could hear someone — Clarke, it was Clarke — coming down the hall, humming a Taylor Swift song.
It was all so real.
What even was this place? Who — what? — was the “hologram bitch” Murphy mentioned? Some kind of artificial intelligence? Why would it create this dream world, and why would it want to keep people here?
Clarke came into the room, and he realized she was wearing his jersey from last summer’s bar softball league. He had a head full of memories — fake memories — of the dust and heat and camaraderie of playing games with his friends all summer. As she turned to shut the door, his stomach tightened, and he fought a wave of possessiveness at the letters spelling BLAKE across her back, peeking between the golden strands of her hair. She turned back toward the bed, and he couldn’t stop his eyes from dropping to her legs, showcased perfectly in the shirt.
Mine, he thought — though he was wise enough not to say it out loud. Either version of Clarke would probably kick his ass if she knew what he was thinking.
He considered himself just as much hers, though he didn’t say that out loud either.
Shoving the sheets down the bed, she slid in, raising her eyebrows as she saw him checking her out. “I’m out of clean clothes,” she said. “I didn’t think you’d mind.”
“I didn’t say anything.” He leaned over and dropped a chaste kiss on her mouth. Despite the part of him that knew none of this was real, he felt himself settling in to this world. It was comfortable, like a happy memory. He definitely wouldn’t mind hanging out here until Raven came back for him. “You know I like it when you wear my shirts.”
Clarke dropped back on her pillow, turning on her side and smiling up at him. “I seem to recall something about that.” She sighed. “I guess I’ll have to go home tomorrow for some more clothes and do some laundry. Hopefully, Mom will be at work.”
“Or … you could actually try to talk to her,” he pointed out.
“I know.” Clarke sighed again. “I love her, I do. And I know she loves me. It’s just … we don’t see eye-to-eye on anything these days. I’m tired of arguing about everything. If I can just make it through the summer, I’ll be back in the dorms, and we always get along better when we’re not living together.”
He swallowed hard, setting his book on the nightstand and turning on his side to mirror her pose. He may have had two sets of memories floating in his head, but he knew exactly what he wanted to say here, and both versions of himself were afraid of scaring her off.
“You could move in here,” he said, as casually as possible. “You’re here most of the time anyway.”
“You wouldn’t mind having me here the rest of the summer?” she asked hesitantly, her eyes watching her fingers as she plucked at the sheets. He wondered how the hell she couldn’t know that he wanted her around forever. Then again, if she knew how often he thought about marrying her — having kids with her, growing old with her, the whole nine yards — she would probably run away screaming. She seemed so mature that he often forgot she was still only 19 years old.
“I’ve already talked about it with Octavia, and she thinks it’s a great idea.” Before he could lose his nerve, he continued. “If … if you’re happy here, you could stay longer. You know, if you wanted. It’s a little bit of a commute to school, but O will be making it, too.”
Her eyes flew to his, and she smiled; it was like a weight lifting off his chest. “I don’t know, I might miss being sexiled by my roommate.”
He grinned and twirled some of her hair around his finger. “Hey, I have a real soft spot for that roommate. If she hadn’t locked you out so often, we might never have hooked up.”
“Yeah,” she agreed, poking him in the chest. “Because you were a stubborn ass.”
He couldn’t argue, shrugging instead.
It amazed him that he had such clear memories of something that had never happened. But he could see it in his mind, could remember exactly how he felt like it was yesterday. Clarke had always come to the house and made him watch movies with her when she got locked out of her dorm. It was pure torture, having her snuggle up against him on the couch watching movies and feeling like he couldn’t touch her because she was O’s friend — and five years younger than he was.
But the night that a huge thunderstorm had taken out the power while they were watching “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” he was left sitting in the dark with her, wind and rain raging outside.
“So,” she’d said, sliding into his lap before he could move, just like she’d planned it all along. “What should we do to entertain ourselves now?”
Even Clarke Griffin couldn’t control the weather, but she hadn’t hesitated to take advantage of the moment. And she’d apparently had hopes of something happening, since she’d had a condom in her pocket. It was one of those times when he’d wanted to thank God that she was the most prepared person on the face of the planet.
Now he trailed his hand down her side, fingering a tear near the hem of the jersey. “I have a drawer full of shirts that aren’t falling apart, you know.”
“Hmm, I like this one,” she said. “Reminds me of last summer, going to all your games with Octavia. It was fun, watching you get all hot and sweaty and competitive. Mmm, I just stared and stared at your arms. I mean, you have fantastic arms. I may have mentioned a time or two.”
He smirked, trailing his fingers lower, tracing patterns on the soft skin of her thigh. Was this his imagination, he wondered, or was it some computer telling him how Clarke would feel and taste? How she’d sound when he finally slid his hand further up, discovering that she wasn’t wearing panties?
He looked up at her face, and she just shrugged. “Laundry.” She reached out to his arm, scratching her fingers lightly against his skin.
“You were hot as hell,” she continued. “And I’d go straight home after and get myself off thinking about you.”
He froze, meeting her eyes before deliberately dipping his fingers in her wet heat. The idea of Clarke fingering herself and thinking of him was the hottest fucking thing he’d ever heard.
“That right?” he said, knowing his voice was unsteady.
“Mmm, yeah,” and he didn’t know if that was an answer or a comment on the way he was touching her. Both, probably. She widened her legs and dragged her nails down his arm again as he plunged two fingers inside her. “I imagined you were touching me. I didn’t know — oh — didn’t know how good it would really feel. You’ve got amazing hands.”
“What else?” he asked.
“I … ungh, Bellamy,” she rocked her hips into his hand.
“What else did you imagine?” he asked again. “Babe, tell me.”
“I imagined you going down on me,” she said. “I didn’t really know I’d like it but — oh, Bellamy!”
He slowed his fingers, skimming his thumb over her clit just enough to make her hips jerk. “But?”
“You didn’t know if you’d like it …?”
“But thinking about your mouth on me got me hot,” she panted. “God, would you just …”
He chuckled, pulling his fingers out of her and scooting down the bed, spreading her thighs and taking a long, slow lick up her center before diving in.
Clarke’s high school boyfriend was a total dumbfuck, as far as Bellamy was concerned. He obviously hadn’t been that good in bed, and the only time Clarke had mentioned it was the first time he’d eaten her out; she’d told Bellamy afterward that her boyfriend had tried it once, and neither one of them had enjoyed it, so he never did it again.
It was rude to speak ill of the dead, but Bellamy thought Finn Collins was a tool in any version of reality.
He loved going down on Clarke: the way she tasted, the way she sighed and moaned and twisted her fingers in his hair, the way she lost total control of her body, and looked at him like he hung the moon after she came with his name on her lips.
The only downside was the fact that he thought his dick might explode from how turned on he got, and he ground his hips into the mattress in response.
He knew just how to get her off, using his mouth and fingers to leave her trembling and clutching at him, sighing out his name the way he loved.
Would the real Clarke be like this?
He shook off the thought and kissed his way up her body, stopping only to slip one hand under the shirt to cup one of her breasts.
“Damn, you’re good at that,” she said, shooting him a brilliant smile before pulling him into a deep kiss. One of her hands snuck down his chest and into his boxers, pushing them out of the way enough to palm him.
She pulled back, teeth biting gently at his bottom lip. “Want me to return the favor?” she asked, nudging him onto his back and helping him pull off his underwear, tossing them to the floor.
He wasn’t about to argue when she trailed her tongue over his cock, swirling over the tip just the way he liked. He slid his fingers into her hair and closed his eyes while she took him into her mouth, licking and sucking until his eyes were rolling back into his head and he had to let go of her hair to twist his hands almost painfully in the sheets instead.
He was close, really damn close, when he realized it wasn’t exactly what he wanted.
“Wait. Clarke, wait.”
She pulled back and stared up at him with wide eyes. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” He shook his head. He just wanted to look into her eyes when he came, but he didn’t want to say it out loud. “Get up here,” he said instead.
She tilted her head to the side, then grinned up at him while crawling up his body. “I thought you said I wasn’t allowed to be on top anymore,” she said lightly.
He remembered — so clearly, dammit — what had happened the last time, the way she’d drawn it out and out and out, until he’d actually begged her to come. He’d loved every moment of it; they both had. “Cause you’re a fucking tease,” he growled, hands moving to her hips as she hovered over him, dragging her wet heat over his cock.
“Maybe I’ll have to tie you up again,” she said.
“No!” His hands tightened on her hips, probably hard enough to bruise. Taking a deep breath, he forced down the rising panic and deliberately loosened his grip on her.
She stopped, looking alarmed. “Bellamy?”
“No tying up, I don’t want that.”
She sat back on her heels, studying him. “Okay, that’s okay. You … I thought you liked it last time? Did you … Bellamy, you should have told me you weren’t into it.”
He had memories of that, too; it wasn’t anything hardcore, just a couple of scarves that he easily could have gotten out of if he’d wanted. Truthfully, he hadn’t wanted to get out of them. He remembered enjoying the torture of wanting to touch her but not being allowed to and loving the way that she’d taken control, slowly exploring every inch of his body. The sex had been great, and they’d spent a lot of time laughing that night, he remembered.
But now he also remembered being a prisoner at Mount Weather, being bound and drained, and he couldn’t bear the thought of allowing even Clarke to restrain him.
“I …” he said, sitting up and leaning back against the headboard, urging her move with him. He didn’t want her to think his problem had anything to do with her. “I did, Clarke, I loved it. But I’m sorry, I just … I don’t —”
“It’s fine,” she said gently. “You don’t have to apologize.”
He let go of her, scrubbing one hand over his face, feeling embarrassed and stupid. He couldn’t exactly tell her the truth, since it wasn’t the truth in this … reality or whatever. But he didn’t want her to feel bad for something that they’d both enjoyed, either.
“Hey,” she said, leaning closer and bumping her nose against his. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” he said, knowing it was true in any — every — reality. He hadn’t even realized it was true until she left him at Camp Jaha, kissing his cheek and walking away, but his heart was hers before he could do anything about it — before he could protect himself. He slid a hand into her hair, pulling her into a slow, deep kiss that left them both breathless.
“So,” she said, leaning back and stripping off the jersey, taking hold of his hands and bringing them up to her breasts. “Where were we?”
Before he could answer, she was sinking down on him, and they both groaned in unison at the feeling of being joined together.
“Is this okay?” she asked, her voice shaky.
“Perfect. You’re perfect,” he assured her. He was pretty sure he’d never felt anything as good in his life as being surrounded entirely by Clarke Griffin.
“Watch,” she said, moaning as he plucked at her nipples. “Watch us, Bellamy, the way you fill me up. God, you feel so good in me.”
“Fuck. Clarke.” He did watch, couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the sight of their bodies merging, getting closer and closer as Clarke kept talking, keeping up a breathless, dirty commentary of how much she loved him and loved being fucked by him.
Remembering what he wanted in the first place, he slid his arms around her and flipped them over, changing the angle on each thrust until he found one that made her dig her nails into his shoulders.
“There, oh there, Bellamy, like that,” she hissed, and he happily obliged.
“Clarke, look at me,” he said. “Look at me, I want to see you.”
Her eyes met his as her body started fluttering and trembling under him. Giving her the extra push she needed, he rubbed circles on her clit until she came apart, and it only took two or three more thrusts for him to follow.
Again he wondered if it was just his fantasy or a computer program that made him and Clarke fit so well, angrily pushing the thought aside as he spooned her from behind, pressing a kiss on her hair. “Goodnight, babe.”
“Night, Bellamy. Love you,” she whispered, the words warming him all over.
Real or not, he was going to enjoy every moment while it lasted.
Things were dead at the bar, and he was taking the opportunity to read a book and text his girlfriend while an old Aerosmith song played on the jukebox.
He was just grinning at a text from Clarke — you perv, i’m not sexting you while i’m at work —when the music cut out and the door opened.
A woman appeared in the doorway, looking classy and beautiful in a red dress, completely out of place in their working-class bar. He glanced over at Miller, who was playing solitaire on the bar next to him, and stood up straight at the sight of his friend frozen in place, still as a statue.
The woman walked purposefully toward him, the sound of her heels echoing loudly in the silent bar, until she stood in front of him, hands clasped in front of her.
“Hello Bellamy,” she said.
He looked over at Miller, who was still unmoving, hand hovering over his cards in mid-play, before returning his attention to the visitor.
“Who are you?”
The woman smiled. “My name is Alie. I hope we can be friends, Bellamy.”
He swallowed hard. This, surely, was Murphy’s “hologram bitch” that controlled the dreams. But presumably, he wasn’t supposed to know that. “You’re not part of this dream,” he said finally.
“Very perceptive,” Alie said, nodding. “You have a great deal of awareness of the scenarios, more than any other human I have encountered.”
“The … scenarios?”
She waved at the room around them; instantly it became the beach he’d dreamed of before, then Kane’s dingy office and a room that looked like the Ark before returning to the bar. Even though he’d known it was all in his head, the display was still impressive.
“Most people’s minds switch constantly from one scenario to the next, and they are happily occupied. In fact, they prefer the scenarios to the world outside.”
Keeping the sheeple happy in their pens, he thought.
“You are different. After only a few hours of rotating scenarios, you settled on this one, and you kept returning to it each time.” She tilted her head, studying him. “I want to understand. What is so special about this place?”
He shrugged. “Maybe being a bartender is my destiny.”
She seemed to seriously consider his words before shaking her head. “I believe it is because you have everyone you love nearby. Much of humans’ literature and cinema attempted to capture the truth of love, but I admit that the concept escapes me. It is a powerful motivator for humans, though. If the scenarios reunite them with their loved ones, they remain cooperative. They are happy to do as I ask. Will you be cooperative, Bellamy?”
“Depends on what you ask me to do, I guess,” he said.
“I can do many things on my own and with my drones, but there are times I still find human assistance valuable. It is simple work compared to the benefit of being allowed to live out your life here in peace.”
“And if I say no?”
She nodded, as though she’d expected the question. “You control the scenario to a point, Bellamy, but the ultimate control is mine. I can make your time here very unpleasant. I can take your loved ones from you. But I don’t believe that will be necessary. You may have time to think about it.”
She smiled again, like she hadn’t just threatened to to kill Octavia and Clarke — virtually, but still — and then she was gone.
Aerosmith picked up midsong, and he could hear Miller flipping a card over and cursing under his breath, but now he was frozen, staring at the place where the AI — because surely that’s what she was — had stood.
Taking a deep breath, he glanced down at his phone, still lit up with Clarke’s latest text showing. He was trying to shake off his encounter with Alie enough to answer it when his phone beeped again.
Another text popped up: but I’m wearing the black silky boy shorts, Clarke’s message said.just fyi.
He smirked, flicking another glance at the unmoving door before answering. Pics or it didn’t happen, Griffin.
He was settled on the couch with Clarke’s feet in his lap, while Octavia curled up in the recliner next to them, flipping through options on Netflix. It was … that evening, or maybe a different day. He wasn’t really sure. Time was kind of elusive in the dream world, not exactly linear, with moments blending one into another. He tried to pay attention, to find the order in it, but the harder he tried to focus, the more everything seemed to slip away.
He was just about to argue against another romantic comedy — seriously, would it kill them to watch something with some substance for once? — when he heard it.
It was Raven’s voice, sounding far away.
He looked at Clarke, then O, who were debating the merits of different chick flicks, not noticing anything out of the ordinary. If her voice was in only his head, it meant it was from the real Raven.
Time to wake up.
But what if he just … didn’t?
“Wake up, Bellamy!”
He thought about staying. What if this was the only way he’d ever be with Clarke? Hell, what if this was the only way he’d ever see her again? What if he wasn’t ready to let go yet? If the price to pay was to run a few errands for a power-tripping computer program, that was worth it, right?
“Dammit, I need you to work with me here.”
Then he thought of Raven, and whatever the hell was going on at that mansion. She was probably risking her freedom, if not her life, to get him out. He thought of Murphy, actually being helpful for once. Of Octavia, who would undoubtedly come back to look for him and Lincoln, if she hadn’t already.
He thought of Clarke, the real one, who was still out there somewhere. He’d once vowed, if only to himself, to do whatever it took to protect her. And she’d asked him to look after everybody. He didn’t want to let her down.
With a sigh, he tipped his head against the back of the couch, closed his eyes and woke up.
“Hurry,” Raven hissed as he stretched his arms. “The pod people are patrolling the other wing right now, but they’ll be back soon.”
She helped him sit up, and he closed his eyes at the massive head rush.
“Shit. How long have I been under?” he asked. His voice felt rusty with disuse.
“A week,” Raven said. “Give or take a day or two. Come on, do you think you can stand?”
He opened his eyes and slowly slipped off the hospital bed, finding his balance on his feet. He saw Murphy helping Lincoln stand across the room and breathed a sigh of relief that the grounder was safe, too. He felt a little unsteady but strong enough to move on his own, and he nodded to Raven.
“Think you’ll make it?” she asked in a low voice.
“Think I better.” He shook out his legs, taking a couple of tentative steps. He had been stripped to his underwear, and the tiled floor felt cold beneath his bare feet. The chill helped him feel a bit more awake.
The more awake he felt, the more questions he had. “Where’s O?”
“She went for help,” Raven said. “Back to Camp Jaha.”
“By herself?” He closed his eyes, rubbing his face. He knew his sister was badass, but anything could happen to her out there alone.
“She’s safer than we are right now,” Murphy grumbled. “We need to get a move on.”
Shaking his head, Bellamy resumed stretching his legs.
“Um.” Raven bit her bottom lip, obviously hesitating, then exchanged a look with Murphy, who nodded back to her.
“What is it?”
“When Jaha got us in just now, he told us that … that they have Clarke here somewhere.”
Bellamy stumbled, reaching one hand toward the closest wall to steady himself. “She’s here?” he asked, his voice surprisingly even.
“He said she’s in the other wing,” Raven said. “We haven’t been over there, but he drew me a map. If you two think you can make it out of here alone, we’ll go —”
“No.” Bellamy looked across the room, surprised to find that Lincoln had spoken at the same time he did. He saw his own resolve reflected on the other man’s face. Like hell they were leaving here without Clarke.
“We’re going.” Bellamy added, taking more careful steps around the room.
Raven shook her head. “Stubborn asses,” she muttered. “If you get yourselves killed after Murphy and I heroically rescued you, I’m going to be pissed. I mean, in the moments before your sister takes my head off with her samurai sword.”
“Duly noted,” Bellamy said, feeling stronger already. “So, we got any weapons around here?”
“I’m thinking maybe you might want to start with pants,” Raven said, tossing his clothes at his face. “Then weapons.”
The only weapons to be found were two tranquilizer guns that Raven and Murphy refused to give up, and one wooden club that Bellamy recognized as being a baseball bat. It was funny that something like that would have survived the apocalypse and ended up in Alie’s mansion, but he supposed stranger things had happened. Shrugging, he handed it over to Lincoln, who seemed to be in better shape for a fight than he was.
He followed Raven out the door and down the hall. At her order, none of them wore shoes, to cut down the sound of their footsteps. There was, as always, a slight hitch in Raven’s step, but the newest brace she and Wick had made allowed her an almost-normal gait — at least, until she got too tired. Bellamy found himself wondering what had happened to Wick; he felt bad about not asking before, but sneaking through the halls of the killer AI’s mansion was hardly the time to bring it up.
Raven was silent as she led them through the halls. The place was spotless, a sterile and cold environment decorated as though it were a museum, with paintings, sculptures and fancy vases placed at exactly even intervals throughout the hall. Her idea about the shoes was proven wise when they heard the echoing footfalls of the guards, who didn’t bother to be quiet and gave them plenty of warning of their approach. At the sound of their steps, Raven slipped into one of the rooms along the way. They all stood frozen at the sound of a couple of them passing by, and Bellamy scanned the room, frowning at the sight of bed after bed of sleeping people — people trapped in their dreams.
“Don’t even think about it,” Raven whispered.
“You’re thinking about waking them up,” she said. “We don’t know if they’re hers or not.”
That was a fair point, and he nodded. Truthfully, he didn’t want to waste time when they could be getting to Clarke anyway, but he hated the thought of leaving someone a prisoner.
Still, he followed Raven again when she ducked out of the room. They came to the end of the long hall, and she stepped back against the wall, biting her lip. Confused, he followed her lead, leaning against the wall at her side. He was going to ask what the problem was when he saw it for himself. They had a long stretch to follow, crossing from one side of a totally open foyer to the other, with no rooms to duck into and nothing but a few pillars to hide behind. He saw a set of stairs in the middle, and with the open layout anyone downstairs would only have to glance up to see them.
His heart jumped, and he felt Raven reach for his hand and ready her tranq gun when he heard voices — he thought they were speaking Trigedasleng — and the sound of heavy steps coming up the stairs.
“What is going on here?”
He winced, feeling Raven’s nails digging into his hand before she let go and sighed quietly beside him.
He’d never been happier to see Thelonious Jaha in his life, though to be fair he couldn’t remember ever being happy to see the man at all. Emerging from the hall opposite them, Jaha jogged down the stairs and intercepted whoever was there, ranting like a crazy person in a mixture of English and Trigedasleng about something Alie needed done immediately.
A moment later, he heard all the voices fading, and Raven took off, Bellamy at her heels. They made it across with no alarms being raised, and Raven consulted her map before heading down the hall. They seemed to walk for ages, turning left into yet another hall until she paused, waiting for everyone to catch up.
She motioned them to be quiet before easing the door open. Jaha had warned that there might be guards on Clarke, but the room was empty except for three hospital beds, only one of which was occupied. Ignoring Raven’s caution, Bellamy rushed forward. His heart rate, already racing from the stress, spiked as he realized that it really was Clarke. She was thinner than he remembered, her hair shorter, skin frighteningly pale, but it was definitely her. He held his breath watching her, releasing a shaky exhale as he witnessed the shallow rise and fall of her chest.
Alive but asleep.
He was vaguely aware of Murphy and Lincoln setting up a watch on the door behind him and Raven pressing buttons, he thought to turn off the IV drip that Clarke was hooked into. But his focus was on Clarke.
“Talk to her,” Raven said. “Quietly. We need her to pull herself out of the dream.”
He released the bindings holding her left arm to the bed, then took hold of her hand. “Clarke,” he said in a low voice. “Hey, Clarke, wake up.”
He looked at Raven, who was busy messing around with some wires. He remembered what she’d told him about trying not to electrocute them both and decided to leave her be.
“Clarke, I need you to wake up, please,” he tried again. He leaned in close, fingers brushing her forehead, and spoke directly into her ear. “I’m tired of doing this without you. I’m so tired, Clarke. Please.”
Her body jerked slightly, and she inhaled sharply, eyes fluttering.
“It’s time to wake up. Clarke. Come on back to us.”
Clarke turned her head his direction, heavy eyes opening slightly. Licking her lips, she blinked quickly, focusing on his face before breaking into a bright smile. “Bell’my,” she sighed, gripping his hand tightly.
Swallowing hard, he couldn’t help but smile back. He hadn’t seen her smile like that since … Unity Day, maybe, and the way she said his name with such affection made him wonder if he’d made any appearances in her dreams. What was Clarke Griffin’s happy ending? Could he hope that he was at least a part of it?
“Hey, sleepyhead, you with us?”
She blinked again, then frowned as she realized she couldn’t move, a feeling he remembered well. He squeezed her hand and lifted it to show her that she could move her left arm.
“Hey, it’s okay. We’ll explain everything. You’re safe.” He heard Murphy snort behind him and shook his head. “Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. But you’re among friends, and we’re gonna get you the hell out of here.”
Clarke lifted her hand and rubbed it over her eyes. “Where am I?”
“The City of Light, or what passes for it. A big mansion in the middle of nowhere. Run by a crazy Artificial Intelligence. She hooked us up to these dream machines, which Raven is trying to unhook you from.”
For the first time, Clarke seemed to notice the others.
“Hey,” the mechanic said. “I’m about done. Once I figured out the trick to it, it’s a cinch. Just takes a few minutes.” As she spoke, she took out Clarke’s IV line, tying a quick bandage around her arm and freeing her from the restraints on that side as well.
“See if you can sit up; let Bellamy help you,” Raven told her.
Clarke nodded and pushed back the covers. He reached out to support her, trying to ignore the fact that she was stripped to her underwear, too, the skin of her shoulders and arms velvety soft underneath his hands. When she was seated on the edge of the bed, he held her upper arms gently, watching her face.
“I think so,” she said slowly, looking around the room. “I … how long have I been asleep?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know. We’ve been here maybe a week, but we just found out you were here.”
He wanted to ask why and how she ended up here, but Raven tossed a pile of clothes on the bed next to them. He got the message loud and clear: There would be time for talking later.
“Come on, you think you can stand?” he asked quietly. “We need to get out of here.”
She nodded, sliding off the bed, and he tightened his grip on her. She was a little wobbly, reaching out for his arms to support herself while she tried to find her footing.
“Don’t move,” she said finally, reaching for her shirt on the bed with one hand while holding on to him with the other. She had just started to awkwardly pull it over her head with one hand when Murphy hissed at everyone to freeze. Bellamy’s eyes locked with Clarke’s as they heard the clatter of guards coming down the hallway.
Mouthing a curse, Bellamy reached one hand around Clarke’s back and used the other to help her pull her shirt on as quietly as possible. He held her hands and pressed first one, then the other, down onto the edge of the bed, nodding at her to hold on just in case. Then he snatched her socks and pants off the bed and dropped to a crouch, pulling on her socks and quietly slipping her feet one by one into the legs of her pants.
Before he could stand, he felt her hand in his hair, fingers tightening. Pushing away the very different — very fake — memories that brought up, he looked toward the door just as it swung open, revealing two of Alie’s guards.
Bellamy stood immediately, putting himself in between the guards and Clarke; she transferred her grip from his hair to his shoulder, reaching down to tug her pants up, fastening them quickly.
“What —” The first guard stopped mid-question and tumbled to the ground after Murphy nailed him with a tranquilizer dart, and Lincoln immediately jumped the other, forgoing the baseball bat to grab him in a chokehold until he passed out.
Turning back, he looked Clarke over to make sure she was okay.
“Thanks,” she murmured, her face a little pink, and he grinned at the sight. If she was feeling well enough to get a little embarrassed, he figured she couldn’t be in too bad of shape.
“Anytime,” he joked quietly. “I mean, undressing women is actually my specialty, but …”
She huffed out a laugh, punching him weakly in the shoulder.
“Enough chitchat,” Raven said. “We’ve got to go. There’s a secret way out; it’s how Jaha got us in here in the first place.”
They followed her again, Bellamy keeping close to Clarke, giving her an occasional steadying hand on her arm. They didn’t run into any more guards, but nobody had to be told to keep up, aware that they had a limited time to get out before an alarm was raised over the men they’d knocked out.
Raven led them through a door and down a set of stairs. He saw how tightly Raven and Clarke both clung to the railing on the way down and sent up a quick prayer that they’d escape before all of them were exhausted. He admitted to himself that it was probably too late for that.
The stairs led to a quiet cellar, as tidy and clean as the rest of the house, with bottles of wine slotted into shelves. Bellamy wondered what on earth an AI needed with alcohol. Rewards for the human drones? Or maybe this mansion pre-existed Alie?
“Here,” Raven whispered, leading them to an empty set of shelves in the corner. She looked at Murphy, who rolled his eyes, then tugged at the shelves. Lincoln stepped forward to help just as they slid smoothly and silently out of the way, and Bellamy saw they were on rollers.
“Secret passageway?” he asked, as Raven pulled out her boots and tugged them on. They all hurried to do the same. “Cool.”
“There’s a bit of a drop,” Raven said. “It’s not bad, but be aware.” Fishing a flashlight out of her pack, she switched it on and disappeared inside the dark entryway. Exchanging a glance with Clarke, he followed, taking her hand to help her down the slight dropoff. Once she was on the ground, he noticed that she didn’t seem inclined to let go of his hand, but since he felt the same, he didn’t mention it.
Lincoln and Murphy followed, and when they both reached up to close the hidden door behind them, he tugged on Clarke’s hand and caught up with Raven. They walked for 15 or 20 minutes before they found a heavy wooden door that looked old and worn but was surprisingly intact.
Raven pushed it open, and waved them past her, shining the light back so Lincoln and Murphy could find the way out. Bellamy and Clarke emerged into another space — a dimly-lit cave, he thought, trying to push back the memories of the tunnels at Mount Weather trapping him. He heard Clarke hiss, and realized that he was squeezing her hand tightly.
“Sorry,” he said, letting go and making a fist, digging his nails into his palm.
Clarke was studying his face with a frown. “You okay?” she asked in a low voice.
“I can’t breathe in here,” he muttered.
Clarke nodded, then tilted her head toward the other end of the cave. He could see a dim light that direction, and they both headed that way. The entrance was covered by some large bushes, but they easily found their way out into the fresh air. It was nighttime, he realized, but the moon was either full or close to it, and the sky was bright with its light.
“Better?” she asked softly.
Before they could say anything else, the other three came out of the cave.
“This is the only way in or out without the damn drones seeing us,” Raven said. She looked around at the quiet clearing around them. “Murphy, you’re up.”
Murphy sighed and slipped into the lead. “Great, more houseguests,” he said. “Follow me; try to keep up.”
Despite his words, he set a slow pace — deliberately, Bellamy thought. He was exhausted, and Clarke had probably been in the dreams longer than he had. Lincoln showed no sign of weakness, as usual, but he had to be tired, too. Raven was limping the way she did when she’d been on her bad leg too long, and he really hoped they didn’t have far to go. If they ran into any enemies, they’d be screwed without more than a couple of tranquilizer darts to save their asses.
Later, he remembered very little of the trip, and he never would have been able to retrace his steps. Murphy could have been leading them into the sea for all he knew; by the time they reached their destination he was just trudging forward, one arm supporting part of Clarke’s weight. Lincoln was doing the same for Raven, and even the grounder was looking dead on his feet.
But they finally made it, to another half-hidden door opening at the base of a tall structure looming over them in the night.
“Is that … a lighthouse?” Clarke rasped, looking up.
Bellamy shrugged and urged her inside. All he really cared about was that they could stop walking and sit down. He helped Clarke down some stairs to a couch, flopping down beside her; she leaned into his side, and his arm was around her before he could even think twice about it. But she didn’t object, just snuggled closer to him with a sigh.
“What the hell, Raven?” He heard Wick’s voice as his eyes drifted shut. The guy sounded seriously pissed, but Bellamy couldn’t work up enough interest to open his eyes. “We’re a team; I can’t believe you just left without me!”
“You had a head injury; you’d have been a liability,” she said, her soft voice at odds with the callous words. “You look better.”
He drifted off somewhere after that, Clarke curled into his side like they’d done this a thousand times.
Just like his dreams.
“I said it was hot, Griffin.”
Bellamy jerked awake, blinking at the sight in front of him. Clarke sat cross-legged beside him on the couch, a plate on her lap. As he watched, Murphy slouched into the chair beside the couch and scowled at her.
“What’s up?” Bellamy muttered. When he shifted, running a hand over his face, Clarke looked at him guiltily.
“Sorry,” she said. “Didn’t mean to wake you.”
He shook his head. “Been sleeping for a week already. That smells good, though. What is it?”
“I made her highness a grilled cheese sandwich,” Murphy grumbled. “I guess it’s not up to her standards.”
“Screw you, Murphy,” she said mildly. She split the sandwich and handed half to Bellamy. “Careful, I burned my tongue on the cheese.”
He took his half, frowning. “How’d you get this food?”
Murphy shrugged. “People come through here. I trade.”
Bellamy took a careful bite, nodding. “It’s good. Thanks.”
“It’s whatever, man.”
They ate in silence for a few minutes, Bellamy shooting frequent glances at Clarke, whose eyes never seemed to leave her plate. Finally, Murphy snorted out a laugh and pushed himself to his feet. “You two are pathetic,” he said, walking across the room and disappearing down the hall.
“So,” he said, when she still kept looking at her empty plate like it held the answers to the universe. “How’d you end up there?”
Clarke sighed, setting the plate aside and leaning back into the couch, switching her stare to the ceiling. “I was on the coast,” she said quietly. “I … I kind of lost it. I was walking and walking … having hallucinations. I would think I was talking to someone — Mom, Wells … you. And then I would just realize that nobody was there.”
She cleared her throat. “At some point, I got shot.”
“What?” He rubbed a hand over his chest, feeling his own racing heart. She’d been shot, alone in strange territory. She could have died. She could have died, and he’d never have known.
“It was Emerson, from Mount Weather. At least, I think it was. Anyway, I don’t exactly know what happened, but a couple of hunters from the sea clan saved my life. A brother and sister, Kai and Dani. They took me to their village, and the healer saved me.”
“And you stayed.” Bellamy swallowed hard.
“I … for a while I was recovering. And then —” She turned toward him, finally, a small smile playing around her mouth. “Bellamy, the sea is … just being there helped calm me, helped me think straight. I thought about everything that happened and what I’d done, and … I hate it, I hate all of it, but I think I would make the same decisions again if I had to.”
“We did what we had to,” he said firmly, though part of him would always wonder if that was really true. Did all those innocent people have to die? Was there something they could have done differently? In the end, it hardly mattered; they couldn’t turn back time. But when he woke from nightmares or couldn’t find sleep at all, he had to believe they had done the best they could. It was either that, or lose his freaking mind.
She nodded. “I think so. It sounds so cold, but the truth is, I would always choose our people over anyone else.” She shifted to her side, facing him fully. “I thought maybe I was ready to come home and face everyone, but then Kai went out for a hunt without his sister, and he and his two companions disappeared. There was talk about people in surrounding villages going missing, but that was the first time it had happened in this village. I owed them my life, so when Dani went to find her brother, I went with her.”
“And you ended up at the mansion?”
Clarke shrugged. “I don’t actually remember getting there at all. We were traveling for days; Dani supposedly found a trail and was following it. I wasn’t honestly sure it was anything but wishful thinking on her part. And then we were ambushed, and … next thing I know, you were waking me up in that house.”
“The dreams were pretty crazy,” he said casually, noting that she immediately looked away from him, biting her lip. “What did you dream about?”
“I …” He sat up a little straighter as a blush washed over her cheeks.
Interesting. He could count on one hand the number of times he’d seen Clarke blush, and two of those times were in the last few hours.
“I dreamed a lot of things,” she said finally. “It was kind of hard to keep track.”
“Hmmm,” he said, fully planning to come back to the subject at a later date.
“So,” she said briskly, looking back at him. “How’s my mom? On a scale of one to Jaha crazy, how pissed is she?”
“She’s not mad, Clarke. She just wants you to come back. … We all do.”
She shrugged. “And … how are things at Jaha? What have I missed?”
Sighing, he let the subject go, filling her in on the camp’s goings-on in the past three months.
Final part coming in a few days, once I rework a couple things. :)
Tbh, I wasn't really all that interested in watching season 3 of the show, but then we got that tiny bit of a preview, and just a couple glimpses of my bb Bellamy were enough to give me fits. Now there's no way I can quit you, show. Well played, JR, you trolling bastard.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Cabin fever was a bitch.
It had only been 24 hours, but Bellamy was sick and tired of being cooped up in a small space with five other people. Murphy was paranoid as hell, refusing to let them leave while the sun was up, so they’d been stuck waiting — for O to come back with help and for it to be safe to get some fresh air and a glimpse of the ocean.
They’d played a few games of pool (Raven crushed them all, though Bellamy had come closest to beating her), watched a movie and rotated between napping on the couch and on a huge nest of blankets they’d made on the floor. Murphy had played the semi-gracious host, cooking them some kind of vegetable stew that wasn’t half bad but constantly acting like they were putting him out by being there.
They had watched the recording of the guy — presumably the A.I.’s creator — offing himself, and they all pretty much agreed that Alie nuked the world and was planning to do it again. Jaha had told Murphy that the A.I. had workers gathering parts and tech to build a platform to launch the bomb at the largest concentration of humans left on the planet, which just happened to be the grounder capital of Polis.
“When Jaha said there was a bomb, I didn’t think that meant a fucking nuke,” Raven complained. “I mean, Wick and I could probably disarm it, because it’s us. But I mean. It’s a nuke.”
“So what do we do?” Clarke asked. After they’d spoken earlier, Clarke had barely said a word, though she’d stayed by his side the whole day.
“Well, we figure Plan B is disarming the nuke,” Wick said. “But Plan A is to disarm this … artificial intelligence.”
“Alie, she calls herself,” Bellamy said. “She talked to me in one of my dreams. Asked me to work for her.”
When everyone looked at him, wide-eyed, he flushed. “She said I had a lot of control over my dreams, and she thought I would be a good little worker for her. And then she threatened to give me nothing but nightmares if I didn’t work for her.”
“Charming,” Raven said. “I guess that’s one explanation for her little army of disciples. Anyway, when it comes down to it, she’s just a computer program. A very dangerous one, but still. What we need is a very talented hacker.”
“We need Monty,” Bellamy said.
“Right,” Wick agreed. “Octavia took off a few days ago, but she’s already on her way back. We’ve tried to limit radio contact, in case the A.I. might be able to pick it up, but she let us know.”
“It took us at least a week to get here; how is that possible?”
“It took us a week to get here because I slowed us down,” Raven said matter-of-factly. “Plus, baby sis didn’t go on foot. She took a motorcycle.”
“Well, hell,” he muttered, exchanging a look with Lincoln. The grounder looked impressed. Bellamy was, too, but also terrified at the thought of O — with no experience or training — riding one of those things. He bet she loved every second of it. “She’ll be the death of me.”
It took three more days for Octavia to get back.
It was still stifling and frustrating as hell to be stuck waiting — but it wasn’t all bad.
They watched a bunch of movies, played more pool and got cleaned up. The lighthouse’s systems were all solar powered, and it had a recycled water system that allowed for actual hot showers — they lasted less than 10 minutes and the system took an hour to reset, but it was still a luxury.
Murphy pointed him in the direction of a big cabinet that held nothing but books, and Bellamy happily spent an hour digging through it and picking out something to read — as well as a few to take back with him in the event they actually managed to survive this shitshow.
Clarke had found some paper and pencils and spent a lot of her time sketching. She was still barely speaking, but she stuck pretty close to him and didn’t seem to mind if he watched over her shoulder while she drew. She was really talented, and he spent a little extra time hunting up a couple notebooks worth of paper to take back to Camp Jaha for her.
Assuming that they didn’t die. And that she actually came back with them.
The second-best thing about their enforced time-out was when Murphy allowed them to go outside and see the ocean. Even in the dark, it was vast and beautiful; the light of the nearly full moon painted shimmers on the water and highlighted the churning whitecaps. The calming roar of the waves and the salty smell were enough to temporarily push down his worries. He exchanged a big smile with Clarke, and she grabbed his hand and squeezed. He squeezed back — and then just held on.
It wasn’t really as hard as he’d expected to separate the dream Clarke from real Clarke; the girl from his dreams didn’t carry the burdens he saw in the girl next to him. But he knew the feelings he’d faced inside Alie’s illusions were real; he loved her, loved the real Clarke even more than the one who’d been his in the dream. He couldn’t help that he felt the urge to be near her and had had to stop himself from doing something dumb like putting his arm around her for no reason.
But she’d taken his hand first, so he’d be damned if he let go until she did.
They all stayed out as long as Murphy thought was safe, and though Bellamy could have happily remained much longer, going inside led to the best thing about being stuck in the lighthouse.
When they went to bed, Murphy commandeered the bedroom for himself, and it was generally agreed to let Lincoln have the couch. Raven and Wick curled up in one corner of the blanket nest on the floor, leaving most of the space for Bellamy and Clarke.
Though they had most of the floor space to themselves, Clarke settled right next to him every time — close enough to reach out and touch without actually doing so. They fell asleep facing each other, and when he woke, they were always pressed up against each other. He always woke first but waited until she moved before he got up, too. She never said anything about it, so he didn’t bring it up, but it was like the hand-holding: If she wasn’t going to stop it, neither was he. He still couldn’t help but wonder even more if any of her dreams had included him.
It was on the third morning, and Bellamy had his nose buried in Clarke’s hair, sleepily enjoying the warmth of her body tucked against his chest, when he heard someone on the stairs. He wondered vaguely what Murphy was doing going out in the daytime before he realized that it was someone coming in, not going out. And it was more than one person. His eyes flew open just as he heard a familiar voice.
“Well, isn’t this cozy as hell?”
Before Bellamy could even move, Lincoln was off the couch and had O in his arms. Clarke turned over with a muttered “what?” — pushing into a seated position when she realized what was going on. She rolled onto her feet and almost tripped over Bellamy in her haste to get to Monty, who pulled her into a hug.
Bellamy got up more slowly, waiting his turn to hug Octavia.
“Bell,” she said, releasing Lincoln and throwing her arms around him. “I was worried.”
“You were worried?” he muttered. “You’re the one who went on a solo mission — on a motorcycle.”
She pulled back, beaming at him, reminding him almost painfully of how she was in the early days on earth. “It was so amazing, you don’t even know! I ran out of fuel partway there, but don’t think I’m not going back for it when this is over.”
“Count me in,” said Raven, who was tangled in a three-way hug with Clarke and Monty. “I want to ride that thing, too.”
“Thanks for saving my boys,” Octavia said.
“Well, I do prefer to keep my head attached to my body,” Raven told her, letting go of Monty.
“Clarke,” Octavia said evenly. Bellamy held his breath, almost afraid of what she might say. “I’m glad to see you’re okay.”
Clarke looked at her for a long moment before nodding. “You, too.”
Bellamy released a long, relieved breath, right around the time O opened her big mouth again.
“You sleeping with my brother now?”
“Octavia —” he started impatiently.
It was just a little chuckling huff, but it was enough to make everybody freeze, including Clarke, who looked shocked at herself.
After a moment, she cleared her throat. “Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answer to,” she joked with a small smile.
Octavia smiled, too, but she spent a little longer than Bellamy was comfortable with studying his face. “Fair enough,” she said.
“Seriously?” Murphy broke in. “All this gossip about who’s fucking who is great and all, but you really just brought back one person to help us?”
Octavia rolled her eyes. “Relax, Murphy, the cavalry is on the way. We just had a slight disagreement about how to handle the situation, so we got Miller to run interference and bugged out before the ‘adults’ could get on the road.”
“Yeah,” Monty said. He still had one arm linked with Clarke’s, like he was afraid she’d disappear if he let her go. Bellamy could deeply relate. “A small team is our best bet. There’s no way Skynet’s going to ignore a bunch of soldiers headed this way. The nuke might not be ready to go yet, but you bet your ass those drones are armed. That’s how I’d do it anyway.”
“Skynet?” Raven asked.
Monty sighed, clearly disappointed. “You’ve never seen ‘Terminator’?”
“Must have missed it.”
“It’s a movie,” Monty said. “A whole series, actually. It starts —”
“There’s a super-smart computer program called Skynet,” Octavia interrupted, sounding bored. “Becomes self-aware, nukes the planet, enslaves surviving humans, the end.”
Monty shook his head at her pathetically weak summary but didn’t argue.
“Okay, so, what’s the plan?” Wick asked.
Raven shrugged. “Jaha’s map includes the main computer room, on the ground floor. Octavia and Lincoln get Monty in there; hopefully he can work his magic and erase the bitch. Wick and I will go for the nuke, just as a backup. That we hopefully will never need, because we might blow us all up on accident. No pressure, Monty.”
“You think you can just waltz in there?” Murphy scoffed. “There are drones, guards —”
“That’s why I’ll be the distraction,” Bellamy said. He’d been considering their options for three days, and he knew what he had to do. “She wanted to hire me, after all.”
“What?” Octavia asked.
“Long story,” he said. “Anyway, I’ll go talk to her, maybe pretend to offer a deal on behalf of the Ark.”
“Um, not to be a buzzkill,” Wick said, “but what makes you think you can actually distract her? If she’s a computer, she’s built to multitask.”
“If she could do it all, she wouldn’t need the drones,” Murphy said thoughtfully. “If I could keep them busy while you’re distracting the holo-bitch …”
“How’re you going to do that?” Octavia asked.
“Murphy, how do you feel about blowing some shit up?” Raven asked, looking around the room. “I hate to waste good liquor, but at the very least we could make some molotov cocktails. And honestly, I bet I can make something even better from the junk in this lighthouse.”
Murphy grinned. “I like it.”
“With a two-pronged distraction, this could actually work,” Wick said, gesturing at Bellamy. “You know, if they don’t immediately knock you out again or kill you on sight.”
“Yeah, thanks for the encouragement,” Bellamy said with a short laugh. “We need a diversion, and it’s the best thing I can think of. If we’re all on board, I’ll need to leave right away.”
“Alone?” Raven asked.
“No,” Clarke said quietly before he could answer. “We’ll do it together.”
“You sure you want to do this?” Bellamy asked, though it was a little late, considering that they had to be in range of the drones, if not guards by now. Murphy had started out with them — lugging a bag full of explosive devices Raven had assembled from God knows what — but he’d split off after a while, pointing them in the right direction with a drawled, “Try not to die.” They’d been walking for a while, mostly in a surprisingly comfortable silence. Bellamy’s biggest problem was resisting the urge to reach for Clarke’s hand while they walked.
“We’ll do it together,” she’d said, and he wanted … well, he wanted a lot of things, but he hoped that she was talking about more than just this little nature hike. He needed her to come back with him to Camp Jaha, even if she never looked at him as anything more than a friend. He just wanted her around, and he needed to know she was safe — or as safe as any of them were these days.
Clarke shot him a flat look. “Pretty sure nobody in their right mind would want to do this.”
“Well, you did say you were talking to people who weren’t there …”
“Shut up,” she said, shoving at his arm and laughing, like he’d hoped. “I should have let you come by yourself.”
He wanted to say it was like old times, but it really wasn’t. Other than the honeymoon period at the beginning — the bulk of which they’d spent as adversaries — they’d mostly been fighting for their lives since they got to the ground, with little time for laughing or flirting.
Not that they were flirting. Just joking around didn’t necessarily equal flirting, right? He wished he knew.
“What, and miss out on your chance to meet Skynet in person?” he said.
“Well, there’s that,” she admitted. “Plus, I mean, I can’t hack a computer or disarm a nuke, so all I have is my ability to bullshit.”
“Never underestimate the value of bullshit,” he said. “But you know nobody would blame you if you wanted to sit this one out.”
“I’m not going to just sit around on my hands if there’s something I can do to help. Especially when I have friends in that mansion,” she said. “Besides, we watched all the good movies at the lighthouse already.”
“It’s okay to admit you don’t want to let me out of your sight, Clarke,” he joked. “Anyway, we never did finish watching ‘Xanadu’.”
She laughed again, and he mentally patted himself on the back. Two times in less than five minutes had to be a record. “I think I’d rather die in a nuclear blast,” she said.
He laughed, bumping his shoulder into her. “We’re going to finish it when we get back, like it or not. Roller-skating muses really do it for me.”
She shook her head, smiling, but didn’t answer. They walked in silence for a few minutes before she tugged at his arm to get him to stop.
“Seriously, Bellamy, you and I — we’re a team. I … forgot that, for a while,” she spoke quietly, eyes darting back and forth from his face to the forest behind him. “You … you said we’d do it together, and you pulled that lever with me so I wouldn’t carry it all alone. But then I tried to, anyway. I forgot that just because I was trying to shoulder all of the guilt myself, it didn’t mean that you weren’t carrying it, too. I’m so sorry.”
“Clarke, I said you’re forgiven, and I meant it.” He swallowed hard, gently taking her chin in his hand to hold her gaze on his. He understood why she had to leave; he always had. And though he’d spent a couple months being angry with her, all of that had evaporated as soon as he knew she needed his help. “I wish you hadn’t felt like you had to leave, but I get it, I do. I just. We miss you. I miss you.”
She nodded. “I missed you, too. I want to come back home.”
He grinned. “Good. It’s settled, then. All we have to do is avoid being killed by guards or drones, distract an artificial intelligence and give a teenage hacker the opportunity to prevent a nuclear apocalypse that the A.I’.s own creator couldn’t.”
She shrugged, a small smile playing around her mouth. “Just another day on the ground.”
His biggest concern had been getting hit by tranq darts before they could even get to see Alie, but that didn’t turn out to be a problem. A few minutes after they started walking again, they heard the hum of drones over their heads, hovering nearby but apparently not trying to stop them.
When the mansion popped into view, Clarke reached out for his hand, and he laced their fingers tightly together, not letting go even when they were suddenly surrounded by human guards.
The one in front spoke harshly in Trigedasleng. Bellamy thought he was doing pretty well at learning the language, but he could only pick out a couple of words. Still, he figured it was pretty safe to assume the meaning was something like “what the hell do you want?”
“We’re here to see Alie,” he said firmly. “On behalf of the humans of the Ark.”
The guard scowled, and the man next to him spoke, so quickly that Bellamy had no hope of understanding what he’d said. All he knew was that neither man’s tone was friendly. Clarke’s hand tightened, and he wondered if she understood more than he did and if they were about to be killed. At this point, between the men and the drones, they were surrounded, so there was no hope of running. And at any rate, they were here for a reason, and it wasn’t to run away; they were fulfilling their mission of being a diversion one way or the other.
The two men argued for a few minutes, and Bellamy tugged on her hand to get her to look at him. If he was going to die, he wanted Clarke Griffin to be the last thing he saw, wanted his last words to be telling her how he felt.
She turned to him, blue eyes wide. “Bellamy, I —” she started.
“What exactly is going on here?” a voice rang out.
Clarke closed her eyes with a relieved smile at the sound of Jaha’s voice, and Bellamy shook his head, releasing a long breath.
Twice in one week, he owed thanks to Thelonious Jaha. What was his life coming to?
“We’re here to meet with Alie,” Clarke said evenly, holding Bellamy’s gaze for a moment before turning to the guards. “On behalf of the Ark.”
“I’m sure she’ll want to hear what you have to say,” Jaha told them. “Please follow me.”
The guards were clearly not pleased, but they let the three of them pass with nothing more than some grumbling and a few suspicious looks.
They walked in silence up a walkway surrounded by a perfectly manicured lawn, stopping at the front door of the house. Jaha pushed the door open and stepped to the side, urging them forward. “She’ll want to speak to you alone. Good luck,” he said quietly.
Exchanging a look with Clarke, Bellamy made his way into the entrance hall of the mansion. Clarke squeezed his hand once before letting go, and they both stopped abruptly when Alie just … appeared in front of them.
“Greetings, Bellamy. I’m glad you’ve returned,” she said. “And Clarke Griffin, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I am Alie.”
Since Clarke was simply staring, wide-eyed, at the A.I., Bellamy took it upon himself to start. “We’re here to make a deal. On behalf of the people of the Ark.”
Alie tilted her head, looking at him curiously. It was eerie how life-like she was. Clarke seemed to find her fascinating, circling around the A.I. and watching her carefully.
“And what deal do you offer?”
They hadn’t really gotten too detailed in the planning stage — just as far as feeding Alie some bullshit — since one way or the other what they said didn’t matter at all. Still, Bellamy thought maybe they should have come up with some sort of outline for what to say, if only to make their offer sound more realistic.
“You asked me to work for you,” he said finally. “What if we all worked for you? We have hundreds of people, including soldiers, farmers, scientists, many people who could be valuable to you.”
“In exchange for?”
“In exchange for you not bombing us to hell and back,” Clarke jumped in, stepping to his side and facing Alie shoulder-to-shoulder with him. “We know your plans, and we’d prefer not to be nuked, if we can avoid it.”
“I have no plans to attack the survivors from the Ark. The warhead will be aimed at the city of Polis,” Alie said pleasantly, as if she wasn’t talking about wiping out thousands of people. “Of course, the fallout will almost certainly kill many of them, but that is an unfortunate side effect, not the objective.”
Clarke raised her eyebrows at him. He could almost see what she was thinking; it was hard enough to negotiate with a hologram who spoke of genocide like it was just another item on her to-do list, but when they were just stalling for time it was even worse. How do you argue for your people’s safety with an entity that has no respect for human life at all?
Any time Murphy wanted to start blowing things up, he’d be thrilled.
“Why Polis?” Clarke asked.
“The city has the largest concentration of the remaining native humans of this planet,” Alie said. “They have shown themselves to only be capable of war and death. Like their predecessors, they are a blight on this world.”
“And it’s your job to wipe them out?” Bellamy asked.
“I was created to bring peace to this world,” Alie said. “For many years, we achieved that goal, but the clans endanger it more every day.”
“You bring peace through killing everyone?” Clarke asked flatly.
“Is that not what you did at Mount Weather? The natives refer to you as Wanheda, or Commander of Death, correct?” Alie asked. Clarke gasped, looking like someone had punched her in the stomach. Oblivious, the A.I. continued. “The people of the mountain were a great threat to peace as well, perhaps even a greater threat than those you call ‘grounders,’ but thanks to your actions, peace is much more likely.”
Clarke was pale and still, obviously not about to continue this conversation, so Bellamy forced himself to keep it going. “We would go to great lengths to protect our people. That’s why we want to make a deal. Humans won’t be any good to you if they all die.”
“There will be survivors, perhaps your people among them,” Alie said reasonably. “Thelonious will take my message to the remaining people and bring them here. We will start over again, and this time I will offer them safety and protection under my leadership. As I am not human, I can be relied upon to lead with no —”
A distant explosion sounded, and Clarke grabbed onto his arm as Alie stopped mid-speech and blinked out of view.
They waited a moment, perfectly still, but even as there was another blast, Alie didn’t return. He sent Clarke a questioning look; at her answering nod, they moved further into the house.
Bellamy had memorized Raven’s map of the place, so for lack of any other direction, he headed toward the computer room, which was on the ground floor with them. They heard another explosion, just as two guards rounded the corner. Everyone froze for a moment, then exchanging a glance with Clarke, he took off running in the opposite direction. It might have been a decent plan if he hadn’t run right into another guard coming from that way, tumbling them both to the ground and almost tripping Clarke in the process.
One of the men at their back yelled for them to stop, and it wasn’t like they had much of a choice. The guard who’d fallen with him started to stand, cursing under his breath. Bellamy tilted his head up and looked at Clarke. She held her hands up over her head, and though she looked like she was surrendering, he just knew that she was about to attack. He waited until she started to move, lashing out in a vicious kick at one of the men, and swiped his own legs out to trip the other guard again, this time following up by knocking the guy’s head into the wall. Hopefully, the blow wouldn’t kill the guy, but he didn’t have time to worry about it.
Grabbing the fallen guard’s rifle — the real thing, not a tranq gun, he noted — Bellamy rolled to his feet as the sound of something shattering rang through the hall. Clarke had downed one of the guards, apparently by crashing a vase over his head, and the other grabbed her hair and yanked, sending her to her knees with a pained cry. Bellamy acted without thinking, shooting the guy in the shoulder; as soon as he released his grip on her hair, Clarke pushed to her feet and got out of the way.
“Uh-uh,” Bellamy warned as the guard’s hand twitched toward the tranq gun on his belt. “I’d rather not kill anyone today, but that doesn’t mean I won’t. Now, the lady’s going to take that gun from you. Hand it over. Very. Carefully.”
The guard complied before leaning into the wall and holding onto his shoulder.
“Good, that’s good.” He looked at Clarke, who shrugged, shooting the man with his own tranq gun.
“What now?” she asked.
“We see if Monty needs help, I guess?”
Nodding she turned back the way they’d come, walking in silence. In fact, the whole hallway was strangely quiet.
He jerked to a stop as Alie appeared in front of them again.
“Halt,” the AI said.
“Something we can do for you?” he asked. He was just about out of what little diplomacy he’d possessed in the first place.
“Sure,” Clarke said, sounding cheerful. “Explain what?”
“I —” the A.I. looked … frustrated. Could a computer program experience frustration? “Three explosive devices were detonated in the vicinity, but no major damage is reported. What is the purpose?”
“Huh,” Bellamy said. “I got nothing. Clarke?”
“Maybe someone just likes blowing stuff up,” she said.
He nodded. “Yeah, some people are like that,” he said. “Sorry, can’t help you out, there, Alie.”
“You are lying,” Alie said, and Bellamy swallowed hard as a drone flew down the hall, hovering in front of them. “Explain why … why … wh —” The holographic image flickered, pixels twisting and merging in staticky bursts before disappearing altogether.
“Where’d she go?” Clarke asked, just as the drone powered down and sank to the floor.
Bellamy huffed out a disbelieving laugh. “He did it. Monty did it.”
Clarke grinned at him, taking off down the hall, Bellamy right along with her.
When they got to the computer room — making their way through an impressive number of fallen guards that Octavia and Lincoln had apparently taken out and relieved of weapons — Clarke had immediately run to Monty, sweeping him up in a big hug.
“You did it,” he heard her say. “You did so great, Monty.”
“No sweat,” he said, but Bellamy could see the tears before he tucked his face into Clarke’s shoulder.
Bellamy knew Monty felt the guilt of their actions at Mount Weather just as much as he and Clarke did, and he imagined the boy relished the chance to use his skills to help, without doing any harm.
He hugged Octavia hard, then — hesitating a moment — exchanged a hug with Lincoln as well.
“Glad you guys are okay,” he said gruffly.
“Back at you,” his sister said, eyes on Clarke, who was talking to Monty in hushed tones. “She going to be all right?”
Bellamy studied the blonde. “Yeah,” he said finally, and he meant it. “I think we’ll all be fine.”
He made his way over to Monty and Clarke. “Hey, man,” he said, pulling Monty into a hug. “I’d say you can pretty much ask for anything you want at Camp now. A whole suite of rooms in the Ark, a couple months off work, the best food available — for whatever that’s worth …”
“Yeah, you should definitely milk the saving-the-world thing,” Clarke agreed.
Monty shook his head, looking down. “I’m just glad to use my powers for good, instead of evil.”
Clarke huffed. “We’re going to make a list of demands for you on our way home,” she said.
“Yeah, we’ve got you covered, Monty. You think asking for a hot tub is overkill?” he joked.
Raven and Wick burst in then, and more hugs were exchanged all around.
After a jumble of catching up — the nuke was secured for now in a room that Raven had rewired so theoretically only she or Wick could easily get in — they managed to contact Camp Jaha and let them know things were secure. Abby had come on the radio when she heard that Clarke was there, and everybody cleared out to let them talk privately.
They spoke for 15 or 20 minutes, but Bellamy waited. Clarke had obviously been crying, but she smiled when she saw him leaning on the wall opposite the computer room.
“Where’d everybody go?” she asked.
He pushed away from the wall. “Monty and Wick went to see if they can reprogram the drones to guard this place for us. Murphy’s their backup, though I hope they won’t need it. Alie’s people took off. All of them, as far as I can tell, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come back. Raven’s showing everybody else how to unhook the rest of the people who are still on the dream machines. I thought we help out with that. Look for your friends?”
She nodded, suddenly throwing her arms around him. Taking a deep breath, he held her tightly, smiling into her shoulder.
“Thanks, Bellamy,” she murmured. Pulling back, she cleared her throat. “We’ve got work to do. Mom said the soldiers should be here in a day or two to secure the place. At the very least, there’s probably stuff we can salvage from here before we go back.”
Nodding, he ducked his head to hide his grin at her words. She was still planning to go back with them.
When the Camp Jaha reinforcements showed up a day later, things were running pretty smoothly. Monty and Wick had managed to get the drones to work for them, and they’d been from end to end of the mansion, waking everyone they could find. In all, there were about 40 men and women, including Clarke’s friends from the seaside village.
Most of the people chose to return home rather than stick around, and he could understand. It was probably better that way, considering that they had no way to know which of them had willingly worked for Alie and which were just prisoners.
He himself was looking forward to getting back to his own tent. It wasn’t the best place at camp, but it was his; his sister’s and all of his friends’ tents were surrounding him, which made it home. He was already planning how to rearrange everything so that Clarke could have a tent nearby if she wanted. He figured Abby would want her near her quarters in the Ark, but he thought Clarke might prefer to be with the remainder of the hundred.
And with him, but maybe that was just wishful thinking on his part.
He watched from a distance as Clarke said goodbye to her friends Kai and Dani, promising to visit them, and he didn’t fully relax until they were out of sight. No matter how many times she said she was coming back to camp, he couldn’t help that tiny part of him that expected her to just disappear.
Clarke didn’t, but Jaha did.
It wasn’t until the troops were securing the mansion and Captain Avery asked about the former chancellor that Bellamy even realized he was gone.
The captain had discussed sending out a search party but ultimately decided that trying to find one man who clearly didn’t want to be found wasn’t worth the manpower. Bellamy agreed. Jaha had surprisingly saved their asses more than once, but the man who’d executed his mother would never be his favorite person. Keeping tabs on the guy wasn’t in his job description. If Jaha wanted to come back to camp, he knew where it was.
With the mansion cleared, they left a skeleton crew of soldiers to guard the place along with the drones, and the remainder set off for Camp Jaha.
They’d only been walking for half an hour when Murphy came along side him and Clarke.
“You decided to come back with us?”
“You guys drank all the good booze at the lighthouse. Might as well go back now,” he said with a shrug, moving past them to walk beside Raven, who was loudly making plans to rescue Octavia’s motorcycle and bring it back to camp with them.
“That friendship is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen,” Clarke said, watching as Raven actually laughed at something he said. “And I’ve seen some shit.”
“Yeah, when they first woke me up, I thought that the two of them working together must be a dream, too.” He looked over at her. “You never did tell me what you dreamed about. Was … was I in any of them?”
“I … I already told you,” she said, eyes on the ground. “I dreamed a lot of things. It was hard to keep track.”
He nodded but couldn’t help but think that there was a lot she wasn’t saying.
After a few minutes of silence, she spoke again.
“So … was I in any of yours?”
There were a couple of responses he thought of, but at the risk of spooking her, he went with the truth. “Clarke. You were in all of them.”
She lifted her eyes to him, her cheeks flushed. “Bellamy —” she started, before tripping over nothing — as far as he could tell.
He reacted quickly, catching her before she could fall to the ground, her body colliding with his instead. He stepped back, steadying her with a hold on her upper arms.
“Thanks,” she said breathlessly, looking up at him.
“Any time.” He held her stare, stomach jumping when her eyes flickered down to his lips and back up to his eyes. People passed them on both sides as they stood frozen, his hands on her arms and hers clutching the front of his jacket.
“I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours,” he offered. “Your dreams, I mean.”
Clarke’s face went blank, and he feared he’d pushed her too far; then a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth as she released her grip on him, patting him over his heart.
“Ask me again when we have that drink you promised,” she said, stepping back. She started walking again. “Come on, Blake, let’s go home.”
He grinned, falling into step beside her again.
Home, it is.
When I started this, I basically wanted two things: for Bellarke to bang and for Monty to save the day. So that was the point of this whole mess. LOL! Thanks so much for reading.