There are a million ways we should have died before today, and a million ways we can die before tomorrow. But we fight, for every second we get to spend with each other. Whether its two minutes, or two days. We don't give that up. I don't want to give that up...my vote. Lets just wait it out. You know, we can be all poetic and just loose our minds together.
- Riley Abel.
you're the reason that I feel so strong // the reason that I'm hanging on // you know you gave me all the time // oh, did I give enough of mine?
vance joy-mess is mine
You shake away dirt off your jeans, groaning when you stretch and your joints pop loudly, and you sigh when you glance down at your lone backpack (there should be two) and it's too bright and warm and you realize how stupid it was to fall asleep outside of the Quarantine, but you reasoned the night before that there's rarely any Infected around the immediate area surrounding it and you’d been too tired to attempt sneaking back in. Plus you slept inside an abandoned building that you made sure was Infected free.
Except now you don't have the dark to help you sneak back in and yeah this was stupid, but you hadn't snuck out since Lexa left a month ago (and by left you mean complete abandoned you without so much as a goodbye and much less an explanation) and you wanted to feel the familiar thrill that being around her had always given you.
Leaving the Quarantine in the middle of the night into the surrounding, guard-less somewhat dangerous buildings was the closest to feeling that buzz through your veins.
(yeah, very stupid, you know)
and you consider holing up in the building until nighttime because you seriously don't want to get caught, but you have to report for your rations before noon and you really can't afford to not get those.
With a frustrated huff you grab your worn backpack off the floor, and climb the small stairs leading onto the roof of the building. The sun is bright when you push off the board covering the entrance and you squint as your eyes adjust.
Quarantine Jaha is located in the middle of a city, with business buildings, local shops and apartments kept secured within the safety of walls and fences put up when the Quarantine was established years ago. The rundown walls of most buildings are covered in greenery that long ago started taking over, and a tightness settles in your chest.
You can't imagine a world without so much green and you swallow when a specific shade pops into your mind. You shake away the thought that once upon a time you couldn't imagine a world without that shade of green but here you are, a month without seeing it and you're still breathing, still living, albeit with a little (a lot) more pain than before.
You sigh, stare at the roof of the next building over, and thank whoever built them because they're fairly close to each other that you have no problem jumping from one roof to another.
Images of clumsy attempts when you first snuck out flit through your mind and before the memories become all consuming you're running, gravel crunching under your shoes, backpack hitting your tailbone with every stride.
Green blurs under you when you leap across the gap and you stumble when you land.
Your chest aches when there's no warm hand gripping your arm to steady you, no amused smirks and teasing looks, and not for the first time missing Lexa is overwhelmingly painful.
"It's dark." You whisper, and Lexa snorts as she hitches her backpack over her shoulder.
"It's midnight, Clarke." She reminds you quietly.
It's way colder on the roof than in your room, cold enough that your breath condenses into the night. The moon is half hidden behind clouds, which is not helping at all in the seeing department, but Lexa's close enough that you can make out her slight frown.
"We can still go back." She reminds you softly, and you know she won't judge you at all if you do.
But there's only so much enclosure you can take in the Quarantine and your room, and sneaking out for a couple hours is the closest you'll possibly get to being free.
"I want to do this." You say, looking back at the brick fence that's high enough to keep Infected out but low enough that you had no problem climbing over it (Lexa actually had to give you a boost and you definitely did not blush when she gripped your waist) and when you glance back at the unfamiliar terrain of the roofs you swallow.
"I know that it's extremely dangerous and there could be Infected and we only have our daggers, even though you're totally badass with your dagger, but there's also Grounders and Mountain Men we need to worry about and the possibilities of getting hurt are huge and I don't really want to think about dy-"
You blink because wow she's standing really close to you that her breath fogs across your lips and you're pretty sure she's gripping your wrists but you're too busy staring at her eyes (they're so green) to tell.
All you know is that you're not too cold anymore and she is especially very beautiful up close.
"It is dangerous, and a lot of things can go wrong. But I promise," she squeezes your wrists gently, urgently, "I promise that I'll do everything I can to keep you safe."
Her gaze is steady and you shiver at the sudden warmth spreading in your chest. You can't help when your eyes flick to her lips (they're chapped and slightly parted and very very kissable) but you sigh shakily, eyes closing as you nod because you don't need that thought distracting you right now.
When you open your eyes she's smiling slightly, just a tug on the corner of her lips, and her breath puffs and swirls with yours.
"Thank you." You say. "I'm not as great at, you know, physical fighting stuff as you but I swear to also do everything to keep you safe."
Her smile widens and her finger tips graze your palm before she lets go.
"If you're ready..." She steps back and sweeps her arm in a half circle. "After you."
She's staring at the sky like she's never seen it before and you bite your lip because she looks so cute with her mouth parted in silent wonder, eyes wide and face illuminated by the moon.
She's beautiful and mesmerized and you're in deep trouble when your heart thumps against your chest.
You've always know she cares, like, a lot more than she likes to admit.
But it never truly hit you just how much she does until right now, because it's just the two of you, far away from everyone and everything safe, and the fact that she's risking so much just to be here with you, to make sure you're okay, is overwhelming.
She's saying something you don't quite catch, and you blink at her.
"I asked if you were okay." she laughs quietly, lips quirk into an easy smirk, "You were staring at me...again."
She says the last part teasingly and your cheeks flush and you try to think of something to say before her smirk gets any bigger.
"I'm just glad you're here." You admit, and it's not exactly a lie but it's not exactly the whole truth. Because you're not about to tell her that you're ninety-five percent sure you're falling hard for her and that you think about kissing her more often than not. Nope. Definitely not telling her that.
Her smirk turns into a sincere smile, eyes bright with something other than the light of the moon, and she steps closer.
"I did promise to keep you safe." She says.
"So far I've been more of a danger to myself than anything else out here." You mutter with a slight scowl.
She shakes her head in amusement, eyes dropping to the dirt smeared across your jeans.
"I told you skipping physical training wasn't a smart idea."
"In my defense,” you argue, “gravel doesn't make for stable landing."
"I did just fine." She counters, and that little smile she gives is too damn distracting.
"Well we can't all have the physical prowess that you do Lexa." You huff and she laughs.
"I knew there was a reason you kept staring at me."
She tilts her chin up, hands coming to rest on her hips. "You were checking me out."
The words are so unexpected you blink a couple times before bursting into laughter.
"You sure know how to boost a girls ego." She grumbles, but you can see her fighting a smile and you close the distance, pull her into a hug that catches her off guard because she stumbles back a bit. Almost immediately her hands come to rest on the small of your back.
"I'm really glad you're here." You sigh, chin fitting in the curb of her neck. She rests her head against yours and you've never felt safer than you do when she pulls you closer.
"I'm really glad I'm here too."
You manage to sneak in without getting caught which is some sort of miracle and the rations line isn't too long when you get there so that's a plus. Waiting still sucks and yeah you mentally flip off Lexa for leaving. You instantly feel bad though because Lexa could be out there, hurt, trying to survive or even-
No, you definitely don't want to finish that thought, and you sigh in relief when you spot Raven walking towards you.
She stands next to you, not caring about the annoyed remarks from the people behind you, and she gives her biggest smile when someone says "fucking genius thinks she's all that just cause they kiss her ass so she can make them more ammo."
You roll your eyes and she laughs.
"It's true." She shrugs, arm draping carelessly over your shoulder. "I am a genius, I do think I'm all that, they do kiss my ass, and I don't mind being reminded of my awesomeness every once in a while, so thanks Murphy."
You laugh, and the heaviness in your chest lifts a little.
Raven's been super great since Lexa left, not that she wasn't before, but you'd spent more time with Lexa than any of the other teenagers in the Quarantine so you weren't too close to Raven or her friends. But she's been amazing at comforting you and making you laugh when you think you've forgotten how and you're really glad she's your friend.
"Hey, you alright?" She asks, peering down to look at you.
You sigh and don't even bother lying because Raven can tell somehow when you are,”Yeah, yeah I'm fine, just..."
"Yeah." You breath.
She squeezes your shoulder reassuringly, head resting against yours. "Look, I know it's been like, a month, but if anyone can survive out there, it's Lexa." She pulls back and smirks. "I mean, she's like, forty percent more badass than Octavia and that's saying something, so... I think she's probably okay out there."
The lingering smell of gun powder washes over you when you pull her into a hug and take a deep breath, and yeah, you're really glad she cares. "Thanks Raven. You're probably right."
When you let go she's smiling again, eyes bright, "Aren't I always?"
You roll your eyes and she shoves you lightly, gesturing at the people moving in line. You shuffle forward, tucking a strand of hair behind your ear. You're still worried (you don't think you'll never not worry about Lexa) but talking to Raven momentarily lets you believe that Lexa's fine and safe, and you try not to linger on negative thoughts, even if it's just for a bit.
She grabs your arm before you can take another step and frown at the grimace tugging on her lips.
She leans back on her heels, eyes darting around before she leans closer. "Can you not mention what I said about her being more badass than Octavia though, like... ever?"
You quirk your eyebrow, lips twitching to hold back a smile because Raven being intimidated by Octavia is slightly amusing.
(Raven's as tough as they come and she's crushing super embarrassingly hard on Octavia which is very endearing)
Glancing over Raven's shoulder you smile mischievously, "Isn't that Octavia over there?"
"Hey Octavia over here!"
Raven clamps her hand over your mouth, and you shove her away with a laugh. She glares at you when she realizes Octavia is nowhere in sight which only makes you laugh harder.
Your stomach aches and your cheeks hurt from smiling so wide and you feel like Lexa hasn't abandoned you.
There's gunshots echoing in the night, and the flames curling up into the sky blur with the tears you're too stubborn to let fall.
Your heart is beating wildly in your chest, and you're pretty sure you'll hyperventilate if you don't calm down, but it's extremely hard to do that when there's explosions and screams and the gurgled moans of the Infected everywhere, suffocating, making it hard for you to think. The cargo van you're squeezed into is freezing, and you press against the metal wall separating the back from the drivers seat when more people scramble into it. You keep hoping to see your mom's face amongst the people rushing past the van, but it's too dark and everything's moving too quickly.
The little window cut into the wall lets you see the driver door open and a guard you recognize as Bellamy shoves his younger sister into the passenger seat. He climbs in after, starts the truck and you slam your palm against the small window.
"Hey! We can't leave!"
He only spares you a glance before he's shifting into gear and you slam your fist against the window again.
Your heart hammers against your chest; If you stay the chances of you surviving are practically nonexistent, but if you leave-
You can't leave your mom.
You grip the shoulder of the woman next to you as you try to stand, but then the van lurches backward and you fall back, head slamming against the sides of the van. You clench your jaw as pain shoots through your skull and yup, that's gonna hurt for a while.
Warm fingers grip your hand and you clumsily attempt to pull away, but it's hard when everything is moving so slowly.
"Your mother would want you to live."
A soft voice flits against your ear, and you glance at a girl you're sure you'd recognize if everything wasn't so dark and blurry and shaky.
You grip her hand tightly because it's warm and comforting, and this time the tears aren't as easy to hold back.
(sometimes it's easier to let your walls crumble against the quake of your feelings than to break yourself trying to keep them standing)
You wake with a hand in yours, a sore neck and a tangle of hair sticking to your cheek, and you're met with a sleeping girl leaning against your shoulder.
Sunlight illuminates enough through the window that you have no problem seeing, but you sorta wish it was still dark because then you wouldn't have to deal with the fact that this stranger is unfairly attractive.
Her face is lovely, the kind of lovely that makes your chest ache and leaves your hand craving for charcoal and paper. She has the kind of lips that were made to smile and you think it's unfair she was born in this post apocalyptic nightmare.
Her eyes shift beneath her eyelids and you wonder if she's dreaming of a time before she had to run and fight and kill to survive (your hands have never been stained with the blood of Infected or Grounders or Mountain Men and you hope that neither have hers)
You're staring at her, which is sorta creepy, but you really can't bring yourself to care when it's easier to look at her than think about last night.
Her eyes flutter and she licks her lips in the cutest way, which makes you think you hit your head harder than you thought and are probably suffering a concussion (because there are more important things to think about but whatever, you don't want to deal with the things that are going to break your heart right now) and she glances down at her hand clutched in yours but doesn't let go, only shifts her head off your shoulder to look at you.
When she does you're met with the softest gaze and the greenest eyes you've ever seen and your breath catches in your throat.
You realize then that her cheeks are streaked with dry tears and you frown.
"You were crying." You don't remember that.
Her gaze doesn't waver and she still hasn't moved away which reliefs you for some reason.
"Your parents?" Your stomach bottoms out when the words leave your mouth because you definitely don't want to think about that because your mom-
She shakes her head, chin quivering slightly before she takes a deep breath, clenches her jaw, and your heart aches at her bravery.
"My sister, Anya."
Her voice falters on the name and you squeeze her hand. You can't offer any verbal reassurance when you're also trying not to break down and you think there's some sort of fucked up kind of poetry in two broken people comforting each other.
"My mom." You choke out, and she nods gravely.
You bite your lip around a sob and let your head fall back. She does the same and you stare at the sky through the window; It's blue and clear, a beautiful kind of day.
But your heart's still breaking and your mom's not here and the only place you have ever called home is somewhere miles away.
Soft fingers move against yours and you sigh.
The sky is blue and your heart is breaking, but when you turn and gaze into green eyes you feel like you might survive this somehow.
Your muscles are sore from training. You kinda hate Octavia for setting the bar so high for everyone else in the class. But then again Raven was right about her being a badass and you figure she should get to show it off every chance she gets. Maybe if she weren't in your class though, that'd be great for your bruising shoulder.
You take off your backpack with a grunt and sit on the ground, sighing at the relief that spreads up your legs when you do.
The sky is cast in shades of orange and pink, and you wish you hadn't run out of the charcoal Lexa gave you a month before she left.
"You know you're not suppose to be here right?"
You shrug, not bothering to turn away from the rising sun because it's sort of entrancing and Bellamy's probably giving you one of those looks.
"Do you ever want to get out of here?" You ask instead.
He's definitely giving you that look now.
He sits beside you on the ledge of the rooftop of the apartments that serve as dorms for Jaha students. Military trainees and whatnot.
"You did plenty of that when Lexa was here." He reminds you almost hesitantly. Lexa's still a sore subject as far as he's concerned.
"I felt braver when I was with her." You admit.
He shakes his head, "Seems to me like you were pretty brave without her. You were willing to risk your life to get your mom when Infected breached Quarantine Ark."
"Willing." You sigh.
He's staring at you, and you kinda wish he didn't care so much. But he does and you're grateful even if it's really annoying sometimes.
"I never blamed you for my mom getting left behind." You remind him, and it's true. The chances of you finding her in the chaos, let alone surviving, were very low and if anything you kind of owe him your life when he accidentally kept you from getting out of the van.
Bellamy had been a sort of friend since your arrival at Jaha. He kept his distance at first, confessing later that he felt guilty about what happened the night you had to evacuate the Ark. You told him there was nothing to forgive, and when Lexa left he was there, and Octavia and Raven, and you care about them just as much as they do.
You sigh and lean against him. The sun is peeking over the rundown buildings surrounding Quarantine Jaha and somewhere past them and abandoned roads and rusted cars, you spot a large building; the letters where the name use to be are faded, but the words "mall" are still slightly visible. You wonder if there's anything out there that's worth exploring; if it's just an endless cycle of Infected and Grounders and Mountain Men, or if there's anywhere safe in this world were you don't have you worry about any of that.
"Sometimes I like to think she survived." You say quietly. "That she managed to get out of there like we did." You tuck your hair behind your ear and move to stand. "But then it gives me too much hope, and I can't do anything with hope in here."
He turns to look at you when you start to walk away, “but you’re still hoping that your mom's alive. That Lexa-“
"Don't, Bellamy." You hold your hand up, back to him because he's still giving you that damn look. You can literally feel it. "I can't do this right now."
"You say that Lexa made you braver, but I think it was the other way around."
He moves to follow you when you pull open the door leading to the staircase.
"I saw her in Quarantine Ark." He continues. "She was closed off, wouldn't talk to anyone that she didn't need to. Her sister was the only person I ever saw her smile at." He grips your wrist, stopping you in your tracks. "But when I saw her smile at you on your way to training a few days after we arrived at Jaha, that's when I knew that-"
"That you'd been paying too much attention to us? Seriously Bellamy, that's kinda creepy." You tease because he's getting way to serious and you like him better when he's not giving you these talks. He should save those for Octavia.
He rolls his eyes, lips set in a stubborn line. "That you made her braver. It takes a lot of bravery to let yourself get close to someone in this world."
You pull your wrist from his grip. "And yet here you are, caring too much about people that aren't your sister."
"Sometimes you don't get to decide who you care about, Princess."
You sigh. "Yeah, I've learnt that.” You squeeze his shoulder gently before heading down the stairs.
"And to be clear, it's my job to pay attention." He calls after you.
"How else am I expected to watch for signs of someone being infected?"
"So you creep on everyone?” You joke, moving quickly down the stairs, a hint of a smile on your lips
"I prefer careful observation." He mutters and you shake your head with a laugh.
You wake to a hand on her shoulder, the light touch instantly shaking your groggy mind into full alert. The last time you were woken up like this feels like lifetimes ago, and back then you wouldn’t have reacted the way you do now.
Before you would’ve grumbled in response, scooting back to make room in the already small bed and falling back asleep with your arm draped around a warm waist.
But a month is enough time for habits to break; tonight you smack away the hand holding you with enough force that whoever it belongs to stumbles back, and you slide out of bed, hand reaching under the pillow for the switchblade you keep there.
“Shh.. it’s just me Clarke.”
You freeze, fingers clutching the switchblade as the voice you didn’t think you'd ever hear again flutters through the dark, clinging and squeezing your heart in a death grip that makes it hard to breath. You blink, eyes adjusting to the dim light, and slowly the outline of a slim body materializes like a ghost in those movies you've heard so much about.
And surely that’s what this is right? Because after a fucking month of disappearing without so much as a goodbye Lexa couldn’t have just snuck back into your room like nothings happened.
Lexa, who steps closer, her features coming into focus in the dim light of the moon shining through the window, and as you look into the stoic expression on her face, at the stupid coldness in her eyes that she tries so hard to pretend is real, you get angry.
“Thirty one days." You growl, ”you don’t just…just leave someone who cares about you."
All your hurt and anger at Lexa’s disappearance boils in your chest, and you don't know whether you want to hug or punch her because what in the actual fuck, and in a frenzied moment of indecision you shove Lexa away and into the door, the hilt of your switchblade digging into her chest.
In the blink of an eye her emotionless facade crumbles away, leaving in its wake the girl whose heart is too guarded, too hidden away in the desolate shadows of anguish and heartbreak. You see the apologies flood the moonlit green of Lexa’s eyes, sees them softening the hard set curve of her jaw, and before she can speak you're throwing your arms around her, chest pressed against hers.
She's caught off guard, tense and cautious, but after a second her hands press into your hips before slipping fully around your waist.
Lexa’s here, she’s…so warm and familiar, and you're so pissed-
but the thought that you would never see or hold Lexa like this again crumbles some of your anger and you take a shuddering breath, tears spilling onto you cheeks.
“I thought you were dead.” You utter, voice a broken whisper in the darkness.
Lexa collapses under your hold, and you wonder what else her shoulders have been burdened with in the past month.
“You left without me.” You say, tone accusing and hurt.
"I'm so mad at you."
She grips you tighter in response and you fall into silence, neither stepping away or loosening your hold on the other, and your heart’s beating steadily against your chest for the first time in weeks.