"Clarke, we need to get out of here!" Murphy was repeating insistently as the blonde in question stared at the ebony-colored blood, stained into the furs on her bed.
Tears still lingered in her eyes and she blinked trying to see past her grief, relief, and anger and focus on the situation at hand.
"Clarke!" Murphy grabbed her and spun her around to face him, practically shaking her in his immediate worry for his survival. "They will come back and they will kill us!"
She shrugged him off easily and shook her head. "No, they won't." She glanced up at him and Murphy blinked at the sheer stubborn determination that resonated in her gaze. It reminded him of the girl those first days on the ground, facing off with Bellamy and fighting with him at every choice he made.
"Why not?" He asked.
"Because we won't be here when they come back." Clarke answered him and then paced over to the corner of the room near the windows. "I need your help."
She gestured him over and started stripping the plaster around the massive corner tile. Within minutes the stucco was gone and between the two of them they had lifted the tile out of the flooring and dropped it next to the hole it had created. The hole revealed an empty room below them.
Of course there was a secret escape hatch.
Clarke glanced up at Murphy and nodded to him. "Come on." She said quietly and quickly dropped herself through the hole. Murphy watched her land in a cat-like posture before standing up and gesturing him down. He followed her easily.
"So I'm guessing you know a back way out of here?" He asked her and she nodded again.
"I need to get you to Octavia. She's on her way to Arkadia to tell Pike and everyone else about the twelve clans' armies amassing a blockade around our people."
"What are - you're not coming with?" He asked, as she led him out of the empty room to a quiet hallway.
Clarke led him down the hall as she spoke softly to him. "I'll catch up to you. I need to publicly accuse Titus of killing Lexa and then at least try one more time to convince the clans not to attack our people. I don't think they'll kill me, at least not yet if I'm caught, but there is something seriously wrong here, Murphy. You saw that A.I. They're somehow infusing it neurologically with those whose blood is colored black. They must be born like that, I'm just not sure how."
"Clarke, that's not the only A.I. there is."
"What?" She stopped in her tracks to glance back at him. He grabbed her by the arm and prodded her forward.
"I met the first one with Jaha when we were trying to find the City of Light. Turns out, it's not a place. It's some sort of mental state when you take this pill with an infinity symbol on it. It's supposed to take away all your pain and envy and hate. And apparently A.L.I.E appears to you. She's some chick in a red dress who's made Jaha think he's a Goddamn prophet."
"Oh my God. He ingested it?" Clarke sounded horrified as she led Murphy to an empty stairwell and they began descending it together.
"Yeah. But that's not the worst part. I left Camp Jaha with eleven other people, Clarke. Jaha and I are the only survivors to make to the island where A.L.I.E. was. She had Jaha lock me up in this lighthouse bunker for weeks and I found all these videos of a guy named Chris and a woman named Becca. She's the one who created A.L.I.E. to logically solve the world's problems and that damn A.I. could only come up with 'there's too many people.' She hacked the nuclear launch codes that ended the world, Clarke. And now she's turned Jaha and some Grounders onto her mission to give people those infinity pills so they can join the City of Light. Jaha somehow engineered the missile he came to Earth in, as a power source for A.L.I.E. He made her mobile."
"Shit." Clarke muttered under her breath. "He's taking her to Arkadia. That's what they renamed Camp Jaha." She explained at Murphy's confused look. "This pill - this chip he's giving out, it must cancel out the pain receptors in the brain and somehow electronically project some sort of singular image that links people's minds together." She thinks out loud. "But that would have consequences on the brain, the electric impulses it would redirect would stop some areas from working entirely or just transfer them to A.L.I.E. herself. I can only imagine how it would affect people."
"At this point, it doesn't matter, I just want to get out of here." Murphy said and Clarke glanced back at him, nodding.
It took twenty-five minutes, but they were finally at the bottom of the tall building and walking out the door when there was a commotion behind them.
"Murphy! Go! Head towards that wall, there'll be a gate over there. Take this." She handed him her coat and he stared at her for a moment before she shoved him away.
"Go, catch up with Octavia. Tell her everything you've told me and let her know that Lexa, the Commander is dead - Titus killed her! Go!"
Murphy swung the coat around his shoulders, slipping his arms through the sleeves, as he ducked his head and did as she told him.
Clarke turned and faced the crowd of people that were beginning to spill from the building she and Murphy had just escaped from, twirling around looking for the fugitives in question.
"People of Polis! The Commander is dead!" Clarke shouted at the top of her voice in Trigedasleng. The guards with their swords and spears out and ready, zero in on her. "Her own advisor, Titus, killed her in an attempt to murder me, Wanheda!" She backed out into the streets, drawing attention everywhere, ducking between trading booths and stands. "The dispute with Arkadia and the Skaikru ends NOW!"
Titus, himself, appeared before Clarke from behind the guards. "Clarke, do not do this." He pled with her, a terrible look of remorse on his face.
"Politics has killed the Commander because Trikru wants war against Arkadia! But they seem to have forgotten, we've already been at war before and I burned three hundred of Anya's first army! And when the Mountain Men took my people, I killed my own first love for an alliance your dead Commander broke! And even abandoned, standing at the foot of the mountain of Ripas, my partner is the one who released your people. And with his help I brought them all to their knees, burned and blistered for what they had done to us all! So I ask you, the people who would be sent out to yet another war, will you stand with your leaders to kill Wanheda's people? The ones with enough advanced technology and weaponry to stand strong against your numbers for long, drawn-out and numerous battles where people will be killed on both sides?"
There was a long silence as everyone, even the clan leaders exchanged glances and looks.
"Your people attacked our army!" Someone shouted in the Grounder's language.
"Skaikru hit our village!" Another shouted as well.
"Yes they did, but under the command of one man. There is a civil war occurring in my city! The one who leads them now is paranoid and hungry for territory and power! But the rest of my people do not deserve to be punished for one man's ideals, do they? Just two weeks ago, your own leaders led a coup against the Commander in favor of the Ice Queen! But your Commander forgave them, because she rooted out Queen Nia's true intentions to take control through her Night-blood Ontari! My people are no longer afraid of you. But they are tired of fighting and only wish to live in peace. And I refuse to allow anymore blood to be spilled over the political struggle your leaders contend for! No more blood! No more death!"
The people in the streets murmured to themselves as Titus and his guards inched forward.
"Wanheda is right!" Titus suddenly called out and everyone turned to him. "We have fought each other for years and the Mountain united us with one common enemy. But when Skaikru came down, they drew attention to themselves from the Mountain. We owe Wanheda for eliminating that threat and helping those lost to us escape. And even though her people attacked Trikru army, we cannot hold her or the entirety of Arkadia responsible for only ten who committed the act. No more blood shall be spilled!"
Everyone broke out into chatter at his words but Clarke stared him down and he gave her just the tiniest of nods. A rush of emotions swam to the surface but Clarke fought them back as Titus took control of the crowd.
"I attempted to assassinate Wanheda and instead killed our own Commander. I take full responsibility for that crime. Lexa kom Trikru's time has come and gone, her spirit must live on through someone else. We must hold conclave and initiate our newest Commander and then I will stand for my punishment. Arkadia is guilty of many things, but so is the Coalition. There will not be a blockade to contain Skaikru and there will not be a kill order on any venturing outside of their walls. We must trust that the power of Wanheda will bring swift justice to those inside Arkadia and new order will instilled so that we may live in peace once more!"
Titus stepped forward and offered his hand out to Clarke. She didn't hesitate but stared stoically at him for a long minute before grasping his arm firmly in agreement.
The people of Polis cheered loudly moving amongst themselves and quickly swallowing Clarke within the crowd. She stood there for a moment more, watching Titus as he turned to the guards and began issuing orders, but he turned back catching her eye and nodding. She bowed her head in acknowledgement but stepped forward, quickly grabbing him and reaching up to speak in his ear.
"King Roan of the Azgeda will hear of this within twenty-four hours and will bring Ontari here. She cannot be allowed to be chosen as the newest Commander. You and I both know that she will lead all of your people to a war neither of us truly want. Make sure conclave moves quickly and that all the candidates have their chance. You might have pulled the trigger, but I know that Lexa is dead because of me. I trust that you will fulfill her last wishes and make sure that Aiden and the other Night-bloods follow her orders that my people be left alone."
Clarke slowly moved away from him and stared up into Titus' dark eyes. He was still for a long moment before nodding once more. "I will be back in a month's time to. May we meet again."
"May we meet again." Titus bowed his head to her and she turned away to walk the path she'd instructed Murphy to follow.
She'd barely taken five steps before the wounded boy appeared in front of her, still wearing her coat. They stared at each other before Clarke shook her head.
"I thought I told you to catch up to Octavia."
"They could've killed you, Princess. I have to say I'm pretty impressed with you right now."
"We've gotta get out of here before they change their minds. The ambassadors won't like that I challenged their authority in front of their own people."
"Yeah, yeah." Murphy muttered, but with her pushing and prodding they were leaving the city within ten minutes.
It took the better part of the night, shivering through the cold and hunkering down in the wind, but they'd reached Arkadia just before daybreak. Murphy and Clarke had debriefed each other on their time away and Murphy couldn't help but look at Clarke in a different light when she told him in a monotonous tone everything that had occurred once he'd left. He, in turn, answered all her questions of Jaha and A.L.I.E. and how he came to be in Polis and Titus' interest in their "sacred symbol" as well as what he found in the older man's chambers. Clarke's brow was furrowed in deep thought for nearly the entirety of their journey as she pieced together all the information.
The two briefly napped in the woods when Arkadia was in sight, but then they finally set out across the clearing slowly as the sun was rising, hands raised until they arrived at their location.
"My name is Clarke Griffin! I come with news from Polis for Chancellor Pike! This is John Murphy! He's with me!" She called out and the guards took a few minutes to speak into their radios before opening the gates for her.
As they walked through the entrance of Arkadia, early risers stopped to stare at the girl who took down Mount Weather.
When they finally reached the metal remains of the Ark, Clarke turned to Murphy. "I know you're exhausted and injured but can you bear with me for just a little bit longer? I promise I'll send someone to find my mom so she can look at you, but we both need to talk to Pike and his council."
"Yeah, I can-"
"Clarke! Murphy?" Monty's voice came from inside the Ark and they both turned to find their fellow delinquent staring at them in awe and confusion. "What are you guys doing here? Octavia said you weren't coming back."
"Octavia's already here?" Clarke asked hurriedly and Monty nodded almost in a daze. "Where is she?" He shook his head.
"Pike's office. Indra came with Octavia but Pike put her in cuffs and hauled her off for questioning separately." Monty explained. "I was sent to meet you guys and have you wait til Pike was finished."
"I don't have time. We have bigger problems on our hands." Clarke said curtly, heading down the hallway but Monty hurried after her.
"Clarke, wait!" She turned to him and he shook his head. "Look, everything has changed while you were gone. Arkadia is barely surviving as it is and we're running out of more supplies than we are getting them. Pike's had to make a lot of difficult decisions."
"I saw first-hand what he did to that army, Monty, and I know you guys raided that village." She said in a hard tone but he reached out, grabbing her arm in an attempt to plead with her.
"Clarke, you don't understand. Pike's getting desperate. He'd already put the Grounders your mom was treating into internment so we could try to save medicine and he locked up Lincoln because he defied Pike and attacked the Guard. We might have to start rationing our food and provisions if our hunting parties don't bring in any more meat and our greenhouse doesn't produce soon. Pike sent out that scouting party to that village because they have rich land and we needed it to farm. But Monroe and two others were killed by the Grounders in that village and they made the land infertile. He's trying to keep us alive but he's going about it the wrong way and Kane's eager to prove that to the rest of the Arkadia so he can lead a rebellion. Pike already wants me and Bellamy to start spying on our own people to get Kane and his followers out of the way, so we can go after the Grounders if they try to attack us."
"Monroe's gone?" Clarke asked in a small voice and the two boys stared at her glassy blue eyes. Monty nodded and Clarke sighed, ducking her head and bringing her fingers to her temple to rub the ever-growing headache away. "Okay, we have to get to Pike before he actually throws out Indra and Octavia and starts going after Kane and my mother."
"Is Jaha here?" Murphy asked abruptly and Monty looked at him weirdly.
"Uh, yeah, why?"
"Crap." Murphy and Clarke both shared a look before they turned back towards the doors outside. "Monty, I know I left you guys three months ago and you don't owe me anything, but I need you to tell me everything that's happened here while I was gone."
"Especially anything you know about Jaha and what he's preaching these days." Murphy added on bitterly.
"Monty, I wouldn't ask if it wasn't important!" Clarke urged him and the Asian boy sighed before gesturing them to come outside. He led them off to the side and began to speak quickly and quietly. It took a good twenty minutes but by the time he was done Clarke was running her fingers through her hair frustratedly, pacing back and forth just out of sight of the rest of the waking community.
"You're gonna have to confront him in public like you did with Titus." Murphy told her and she sighed.
"I know, but I need it so that Octavia and Indra are with him."
"Like now?" Monty asked pointing at the open doors to the Ark.
At least ten Guard were coming, Indra tucked between two of them her hands cuffed behind her back and Octavia being led by her brother, while the rest of the restrained Grounders followed towards the gates, Lincoln with them as well. Pike trailed behind.
Clarke froze. "Dammit! I wanted to get to Jaha first." She whispered frantically.
"Use Pike to get to him. You need to establish power. He's the one in charge here. Go take control from him." Murphy told her and Clarke licked her lips, straightening at his words and nodding.
"Yeah, I know what to do." She moved swiftly forward, weaving between the Arkadians who glanced twice at the girl with blonde braids and whispering among themselves at the appearance of Abby Griffin's daughter - the Wanheda of the Grounders and savior of the delinquents.
Clarke planted herself directly in the Guards' path to the gate and they stopped abruptly at the sight of her.
Bellamy did a double take at the image in front of him and pulled his sister to a stop next to him.
"Clarke?" Octavia frowned looking confused at her. "I thought you weren't coming!"
"I'm a little late." She said simply.
Pike walked around to stand in front of her with a small smile on his face. "Clarke Griffin, I saw you in Polis, but it still feels like it's been a long time. It's good to see you."
"I have to admit, sir, I can't say the same thing." Clarke said mockingly as she stepped towards him. Then she pulled her arm back and socked him in the jaw.
Before anyone could even react she'd reached down and disarmed Pike, raising his handgun into the air and then began firing it into the sky. Everyone automatically ducked at the thundering sounds as the Guards leapt towards her, leveling their own weapons at her.
But she didn't relinquish the gun. She kept it raised towards the sky as she twirled around, looking into the crouched and screaming mass who'd collected to see the Griffin girl, immediately spotting the dark-skinned man she was looking for. Jaha was startled at the image in front of him but didn't seem particularly worried or stressed at the situation at hand.
"What the hell are you doing, Clarke?" Pike asked and she turned to face him as he wiped some blood from the corner of his mouth angrily.
"Solving your problems, Chancellor." She sneered at him and then lowered the gun to point at Jaha. The Guard leapt as she turned her back, but she was ready for them.
Clarke swung out her arm, knocking down one Guard's rifle and kicking out at his stomach before spinning around and grabbing another Guard's arm, twisting it til he dropped his own weapon and pinched a nerve point so his entire limb dropped uselessly to his side. He stared in shock at his limp hand giving her enough time to use Pike's handgun to knock him out. A third Guard rushed her but Clarke grabbed a rifle and struck out at his side so he doubled over and she kicked him at the first Guard who tumbled over again.
"Enough!" She shouted, firing the handgun twice more into the air so that the remaining six Guard froze in their path again, even as she hefted the rifle against her shoulder, training it loosely in the direction of Jaha. "Back off now." She practically growled, this time aiming Pike's own handgun against himself and the Guard looked to their leader who nodded at them, advancing carefully even as they obeyed his orders.
"Don't take another step, Pike." Clarke's voice was low but everyone heard the threat clearly as she kept her eyes on Jaha, who stood there in the middle of Arkadia alone as everyone watched from the sidelines. "You might be the Chancellor, but I'm in charge here." She repeated old words and Pike's jaw snapped shut in surprise.
"Clarke, what can I do for you?" Jaha spoke in a pleasant voice as if he wasn't in immediate danger, clasping his hands behind his back.
"Get out." She barked at him and he looked at her confusedly.
"Get out of Arkadia before I throw you out!"
"Why would I leave my home?' He asked innocently.
"This stopped being your home the minute you walked that A.I. through the gates, Jaha!" Everyone was silent as Jaha seemed to collect his thoughts, looking briefly to the side before glancing back up at the blonde fury in front of him.
Pike, in the meantime, couldn't stay quiet at that. "What the hell are you talking about, Clar-"
"Shut up, Pike! I'll deal with you in a minute." Clarke snapped at him.
"You'll deal with me? You little-" Clarke lowered the handgun and shot at Pike's feet without even looking as he jumped back, shocked at her actions.
Jaha surveyed Clarke's hardened features with his dark eyes, his head cocked slightly as if he was listening to someone before he bowed his head. "Alright, Clarke. Let me just go fetch my things and I'll be out of your-"
"I don't think so, Jaha." Clarke snarled. "A.L.I.E.'s backpack stays here and your little pills too."
"No, you listen. Murphy filled me in on your little adventure to the City of Light. And congratulations, it sounds like a great place to meditate in - taking away your pain and anger and hate, but also your love and compassion and apparently your morality too. All the things that make us human. But then again, A.L.I.E. doesn't like humans, does she? She thinks they ruined the world with our carbon footprints and pollution and the worst thing - overpopulation. Isn't that why she hacked the nuclear launch codes that started the end of the world? Too many people?"
Clarke finally took her eyes off Jaha, not speaking to the Arkadians who were staring at her in fear and confusion, but to those with that strange glint in their eyes, those who seemed worried but not afraid of the weapons that were in her hands, pointed at the one who'd shown them the City of Light. Jaha's followers stood among the rest of the crowds, tense on their feet but not moving toward their leader, confident that even if he died, they would see him again in their sacred place.
"You have all been focusing too hard on the people that lie outside of these walls that you've become vulnerable to threat inside Arkadia. That chip you swallowed, the one with the infinity symbol, it took away your pain, allowed you access to the City of Light and showed you a woman in a red dress, A.L.I.E. But it's doing something else to you!"
"You know Red?" Raven asked from the side and Clarke glanced at the older girl, a sad look flitting across her face before it disappeared.
"What is she telling you right now?" Clarke questioned knowingly. Raven glanced to an empty spot to her left before looking back at the blonde in front of her.
"She's saying that she did launch those nuclear missiles, but it was to save the world."
There was a collective intake of breath that came from the entire crowd.
"A woman named Becca and Chris and a team of engineers created this Artificial Intelligence because they wanted to save the world and instead she turned on them and destroyed it."
"She knows she made a mistake, Clarke." Jackson steps out of the crowd. "But she wants to put things right, she wants to fix an error in her code so she won't make the same mistakes in the future."
"She wants an upgrade." Clarke couldn't hide the disgust in her tone.
"You said she's doing something to us. What is she doing?" Another woman asked from the crowd.
"I think that she's cutting off your ability to feel pain and human emotion by redirecting the electrical impulses in your brain towards your temporal lobe which gives her access to your memories and is siphoning them from you."
"She's taking our memories?" Raven frowned at the spot to her left.
"She's downloading them." Clarke answered. "Do you understand? She's taking away the things that make you who you are. A.L.I.E.'s taking away your first kiss with Finn," She turns to Jackson. "She's taking away the first time you ever performed surgery on the Ark. You won't remember them anymore! You can't feel angry or pain, but is it worth it if you lose everything you remember about your families and friends?"
"Clarke, I appreciate your concern but-"
"No! You don't! You allowed A.L.I.E. into this community! You've been feeding these people lies since you got here, Thelonious!" Clarke cut him off furiously. "So what you're gonna do is leave. You're gonna leave A.L.I.E.'s backpack so my mother and Sinclair can check it out and try to deactivate A.L.I.E. without harming those you've already poisoned!"
Jaha looked around at the now wary audience in front of him. He took a breath as a few Guards behind him raised their guns and pointed them at him.
"Well, I'm sorry it had to be this way, Clarke."
"No, I don't think you are. In fact, I'm surprised you even remember my name. Do you remember your son, Wells? Do you remember your wife, Miriam?" Jaha frowned for a moment. "Open the gates." Clarke called out to the guards.
There was a moment where everyone was silent, looking to see if the guards would follow the estranged girl's orders or ignore them. With a quick nod from Pike, two of them escorted Jaha towards the gate, someone moving through the crowd with a small pack of supplies for the banished man. Everyone watched their former Chancellor smile sadly at them all before leaving.
The people of Arkadia turned back to the scene in front of them.
"I think it's time we talk, Clarke." Pike said and her eyes landed on him.
She dropped the rifle in her hands but raised the handgun to aim at the current Chancellor. "I should shoot you." He stood there calmly, even as the Guard once again moved to defend him. "But I won't." She lowered it and the Guard around her seemed to relax. "Instead I think I'll settle for this."
Within seconds she was in front of Pike again and she'd punched him for a second time.
"Clarke, stop!" Bellamy's gruff voice rang out and the blonde girl froze in her tracks, her eyes finding his dark brown ones easily as he stepped away from his sister towards her. "You don't need to do this!"
"Yes, actually I do." She looked away from him lest he see the deeper emotions hiding under a thin layer in her eyes. "He's an idiotic selfish bastard who will be Arkadia's downfall, if he doesn't stop going after the Grounders and trying to start a war!"
"What exactly is going on? Why are Indra and Octavia here?" Marcus Kane asked from the sidelines, speaking up for the first time. Clarke's eyes darted to her mother who stood beside him with a thin smile on her face.
"I'll tell you what's going on," Octavia said gruffly, moving forward to speak to everyone. "The Commander decided that because you slaughtered her army and attacked one of her villages, the twelve armies are gonna surround Arkadia in a blockade and kill anyone who decides to leave until Chancellor Pike here decides to stop infringing on the Grounders' territory!" She raised her voice to the public who immediately began murmuring worriedly amongst themselves.
"What?" Abby looked worriedly at her daughter. Kane caught Clarke's eye giving her a reassuring nod before turning his hard gaze back to Pike. The people were muttering amongst themselves about the Grounders' armies.
"It's true!" Indra said defiantly, baring her teeth aggressively to those who were staring at her. "There is a standing kill order on any Skaikru that steps outside of these walls!"
"It's alright, people, we're handling it!" Pike called out to the crowd but they were getting louder in their concerns and worries. "We have taken extra steps and preventative measures to make sure that the Grounders cannot attack us!
"Yes, you certainly have." Clarke finally spoke up and everyone quieted as the tiny blonde spoke. "You've been here all of what, three weeks? And instead of actually offering your skills and knowledge to help Arkadia prosper, you've staged a coup against my mother and Marcus Kane, you've attacked three hundred warriors of the Trikru that the Commander, herself, sent to protect you, and dispatched a scouting party - with guns - to assess a village with fertile land and instead got two of your own and one of my kids killed."
"Your kids?" Pike looked off-put at that. "They stopped being your kids the minute you left them!"
"No! They'll never stop being my kids, my people, because I have sacrificed everything for them! I killed Finn Collins so the Grounders wouldn't torture him, for an alliance that was pointless in the end! I let a missile drop on TonDC because I sent my partner into that mountain to get my people out! And I committed genocide just so my people could live! I might have left them to heal, but I stayed away because the Grounders wanted the power of Wanheda and I wasn't about to put a target on their backs for me!"
Clarke was trying furiously to keep the tears threatening her at bay but couldn't help a few slip in her emotional outburst as she began shouting at Charles Pike.
"And it's because of you moving into Mount Weather with your eyes set on their weapons system to point at the Grounders, that I was abducted from my isolation and used as a bargaining tool to solve the Grounders' political conflict about you! I have been trapped in a tower in Polis, alone, being pulled left and right by the clans! And when I heard about the attack at Mount Weather, I demanded justice for Skaikru and I got it!" Clarke is practically screaming at him, almost shaking from the torrent of emotions that she's finally letting loose. "The Ice Queen of the Azgeda, the one who ordered Mount Weather to be blown up and whose people had been attacking Farm Station, is dead! I brought you her body and instead, imagine my surprise at finding an army of the Trikru, massacred! I had to plead and beg the Commander not to retaliate against all of Arkadia for your actions! She was going to leave you alone! But then you had to invade one of her villages, all because of a little dirt! You got my kid killed and two of your own. Lexa's own people were calling for blood but she thought the blockade and the kill order were reasonable. But now, she's dead because her own advisor thought to kill me for manipulating his own Commander!"
Everyone was frozen at her pointed words at Pike but Indra broke down while the other Grounders began muttering in Trigedasleng.
"What? No!" Indra cried and crumpled to the ground, the guards holding her let her, keeping their guns on her but looking wildly between Pike and Clarke.
"Lexa's own advisor, Titus, who hated that I was clearly exploiting the Commander's attachment to me, had captured Murphy here to blame him and tried to kill me, instead shooting his own leader. Her blood is the last that will be spilled because of your vendetta." Clarke practically spat this last bit at Pike who tried not to shrink at her icy gaze and even harder tone.
"Clarke saved me." Murphy finally speaks up as moves through the crowd, striding forward to stand by her side. "She got us into the streets of Polis and spoke to the people, appealed to them about our survival and managed to convince Titus, the man who had tried to kill both of us within the same hour, to lift the blockade and the kill order, so long as no more Skaikru try to conquer the Grounders' land."
"Seriously?" Octavia asked in amazement.
"Yes," Clarke said firmly. "The Grounders won't bother us so long as new order is brought to Arkadia and those who committed crimes against the Grounders are brought to justice."
"What? You want to kill me and those who follow me?" Pike asked loudly and Clarke shook her head.
"No! I want you to take responsibility for your actions! You came here to Arkadia and instead of actually contributing to this society, you led a rebellion and murdered three hundred souls for no reason! You raided a village of innocents with guns in your hands and didn't expect the Grounders to retaliate? If you're really having any farming issues, look at the land east of the lake! You of all people should recognize it's been fertile enough for years, and if you want to build more suitable shelter than the remains of the Ark, I thought that you would be best to advise the construction crew! Not leading half an army of your Guard all half-cocked because you have guns and the Grounders don't!"
"You don't have the right to come in here and just-"
"No, you don't have the right, Pike! You have the Guard turning to spy on their own friends and families just because they don't agree with you in starting another war! You've taken it way too far! Your fear of the Azgeda has driven you to hate all Grounders! But what are you gonna do, kill every single Grounder there is because you're afraid of them? You'll be no better than Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin! You can't rule like this Pike! I mean forget the fact that you completely missed Jaha's lunacy, can't you look past the tattoos and the masks the Grounders wear for battle and see the individuals who have been surviving on this Earth for almost a century? That's a miracle in and of itself! You should be ashamed for wanting to start a war that will only doom Arkadia and wipe us out entirely, because no amount of bullets and electroshock batons will save us from the Grounders' massive numbers and experience in battle."
Pike stood there in the middle of Arkadia for a long moment before raising his gaze to meet Clarke's judgmental one.
"How are you any better than me?" Pike finally asked and Clarke stilled at his words. "From what I've heard more people have died by your hand than your own mother, Marcus Kane, and Jaha combined, Wanheda! You're just as guilty as me! I don't trust the Grounders, I never will. But I know for certain I don't trust my people with you!"
Clarke swallowed hard and finally took her eyes from Pike and looked around at the Arkadians surrounding them. She closed her eyes and sighed before facing Pike again.
"You're right. When I was in charge, people died." Bellamy flinched hard at her words, and Octavia looked at him curiously. "I know what monsters look like. I see one every time I look in the mirror. But if you continue down this path, you will see one too. You'll lose your own humanity, just like I have. We've all lost people, Pike. Some more than others, yes. But handing out guns and promising revenge in the form of war is not the way to honor those who died. Those people might be gone, but they got to experience Earth. They got to feel the rain on their skin and breathe real air and they died doing what they do best - fighting for those they love. That pain you feel, the grief and the guilt for not protecting them enough, you should relish that, because that's what separates us from monsters like the Mountain Men and turning into numb robots like Jaha and his City of Light. I left once because I didn't think I deserved to be forgiven by my own people, my own partner. And I might not have suffered in my time alone, but I had enough ghosts haunting me. I would't wish that fate on anyone."
"So what is it you're asking me to do here, Clarke?" Pike asks frustrated with the turn of discussion. "Step down as Chancellor? Hold another election?"
"No, I'm not asking you anything, Pike. I'm asking them." She points out to the Arkadians and turns to speak directly to them. "What do you want your future to look like? Because here and now, I'm asking you to throw away all the rules, to look at each other and see the value in the life we hold down here and create something entirely different."
Clarke paused, her eyes flicking briefly to Murphy who was standing there watching everything unfold in front of him, to Lincoln who stared her down with gentle eyes, to Miller who stood next to Monty intently keeping guard of the younger boy, to Octavia and Bellamy who were both tense, the pair of their green and brown eyes boring into her own.
"When I first landed on this Earth, I was with teenage delinquents who disregarded my opinions because they thought of me as my mother's daughter, despite my own criminal actions. I had to fight to earn their respect and worried over our survival 24/7. But I had a partner in all of this and we made decisions together and in regard to our people, making sure that they understood our reasoning so that they would trust us."
Octavia glanced at Bellamy who was as stiff as a board, but he kept his eyes solely on Clarke as she spoke to the crowd.
"I didn't say it before but I'll say it now, I don't want to lead - I don't trust myself to lead. But, the form of government that led our people in space, is no longer needed. We are on the ground now, and I believe the harsh law that we followed on the Ark, should be disbanded. This is a new world we are living in, the Grounders - the natives hold their own society and if we truly want to separate ourselves from them, we should establish ourselves as our own community first. The very delinquents that the council sent to earth are now experts in the very earth skills you, yourself, taught and we can learn from them, learn from each other."
Clarke points this last part to Pike himself and he looked surprised for a brief moment before she continued to speak.
"My father believed that the people of the Ark, when faced with a crisis, could come together and solve whatever problem we faced. And when my mother showed you his video on the Ark, you proved my father right. I think we can do it again, now. We can hold a public assembly and discuss how to move forward. We'll figure out some sort of democracy where everyone has a voice, elect representatives that hold open council for arguments and issues. Look around you, you've already built a home, and now we can choose how live it. How to hold ourselves and each other accountable. We can rebuild our standards and promote new laws, ones that aren't as cruel as those of the Exodus Charter, ones that give us second chances to prove ourselves, ones that dispel a class system, that allows everyone to share in work and food and clothes and shelter. No more privilege, no more poor. An equal people, all working together."
"That sounds almost too good to be true." Pike said, but he was looking at Clarke thoughtfully.
"No, it sounds like hard work. There's a reason democracy never truly worked for society in the past. Too many different ideals, different opinions can lead to people thinking their way is the only way and trying to force their views onto others."
A laugh emerged from Pike at this clearly pointed statement and everyone looked at him startled. "You have a good point. But it sounds like this worked for you in the Delinquents Camp. You and Bellamy managed to balance each other out with his passion and your logic."
Clarke and Bellamy's eyes met and Octavia wasn't the only one who could see the charged moment between them as they remembered how well they'd worked together.
Clarke dropped her gaze. "That was a long time ago," She muttered before straightening and facing Pike again. "We've all changed since coming down here, in more ways than one and I need you to truly understand what it means to be in charge of so many lives, Charles." She told him quietly and he stared her down for a long moment. She stepped closer and the Guard around Pike tensed, but she didn't pay them any attention. "I know you've lost too many people. But so have I. And now you're headed down a path I've already taken. If you continue in your mission to kill all hostile Grounders, you will end up just like me, a broken monster for her people."
Bellamy flinched hard at her words and took a step toward her but Lincoln cut him off, catching the older Blake's gaze and shaking his head. Bellamy glanced away with a look of shame clear on his face before he looked back and saw Murphy cock an eyebrow at him in curiosity.
"You're right." Pike finally answered. "We've been fighting for so long that when I came here, I didn't know how to stop. I've been looking for reasons to keep battling the Grounders because of my own fears and insecurities. We need rethink our system here in Arkadia."
Clarke nodded at him and took a step forward, turning the gun in her hand so it was pointed at her, offering the handle to the Chancellor. He hesitated before taking it back from her with a nod and tucking it into it's holster.
"Thank you." He said to her and she nodded. "Just don't hit me again." Clarke couldn't help the small wry grin that crossed her face as a few people surrounding her chuckled.
"Why don't you address the people, tell them we'll assemble tomorrow and discuss new plans to move forward." Clarke suggested quietly and Pike nodded. He thrust his hand out at her and she hesitantly shook it before he smiled at her almost sadly.
"You still want me punished don't you?" Clarke flinched slightly before nodding slowly.
"I want to prove to the Grounders that we're self-sustaining enough to give you a fair trial and penalty, along with those who followed you. But hopefully we can still have a good enough relationship with the clans we choose so we have enough supplies and support to get us through winter and into spring." Clarke told him and he sighed.
"I understand. I won't apologize for defending my people but I am sorry that lives have been lost on both sides." Clarke assessed him quickly before withdrawing her hand.
"I was the same way. I hope you learn from this and from my own mistakes."
"I want to move forward." Pike told her and she nodded again.
"Me too." She said wistfully.
It took another hour before the people of Arkadia seemed to calm down and by that time, the Grounders had been led to the medbay where Jackson looked them over more intently, examining their wounds and afflictions, at the same time Abby and Sinclair had been given A.L.I.E.'s pack to look over and analyze the safest way to proceed in deactivating it without damaging the link to other peoples' minds.
Murphy had been looked over by Abby, herself, and debriefed her on everything he knew of A.L.I.E. and Jaha, while Raven spoke with Sinclair about the woman in the red dress and the pack itself.
Monty had shown Clarke around where everything was, making sure she had some food to eat before escorting her to a spare room on the Ark with a bed and a desk and a single lamp. She looked around with a small smile on her face before nodding at Monty.
"Thank you so much, Monty. For everything. And I'm so sorry . . . for getting you involved." They stared at each other before the younger boy nodded, understanding the double meaning behind the words.
"It's alright Clarke, we all deserve forgiveness, one way or another."
For the rest of the day, she received visitors from everyone: Harper, Miller and his Farm Station boyfriend, the rest of the 44, Kane, her mother, Octavia, Lincoln - who was now free to walk around - even Raven and Jackson with brief apologies for succumbing to Jaha's magic pills.
It wasn't until she'd returned to her room after dinner that He finally surrendered himself to speaking with her.
Clarke opened her door to find Bellamy lying on her bed, his arms crossed behind his head as he stared up at the ceiling. He didn't sit up when she closed the door and stared at his prone form. All he did was scoot over so there was enough room for her to lie next to him. She swallowed hard before slipping off her shoes, shrugging her jacket onto the chair at the desk and crawling into the open space he'd made for her.
Neither of them said anything for a few moments before he opened his mouth, but she beat him to it. "No matter what you think or believe, I know who you are Bellamy. I've always known who you are. And you can deny it all you want, but you will always be a good man with a good heart. It doesn't matter what you've done in the past, or if you don't believe in yourself, because I will believe for you."
Bellamy was at a loss for words. His eyes bored into the gray ceiling above them before he jumped up out of the bed, practically falling over her to escape the suddenly small space. She turned her head to look at him with her tired cloudy blue eyes.
"Get up." He barked at her and she looked mildly surprised for a moment before following the orders. He grabbed at the blankets on the bed before leaving the room, Clarke trailing after him after slipping her shoes back on. He led her outside towards the bonfires but stopped short about ten yards away close to an alcove that hid them from view and laid out the blankets on the dirt and slightly damp grass.
He gestured to her and she laid down on them, eyes immediately going straight to the blinking stars overhead. He laid down next to her and sighed heavily.
"You left." He muttered after a few minutes. She kept her mouth shut, knowing he had to get everything out before she could even begin to apologize. "You left me and everyone else because you thought you didn't deserve our forgiveness - because you thought you had to bear the guilt of Mount Weather for us."
There was silence before he spoke again.
"Only you would be that stupid to think that." Bellamy said almost fondly. "You're one of the smartest people I know, Clarke and you thought you deserved to be alone, and let your subconscious torture you with ghosts and nightmares. In the beginning, you fought me tooth and nail just so you could lead with me, and then you just abandoned that as soon as Lexa showed up."
Clarke couldn't help stiffening at the mention of the older girl.
"From what I know and what Octavia and Raven have told me, I know that she manipulated you, Clarke. It was ultimately your decision, but after you killed Finn you were completely vulnerable and emotional and she took advantage of that."
Clarke bit her lip, trying hard to keep her boiling emotions from surfacing after blowing up earlier.
"You've always been a leader Clarke, a good one. I'm not saying you didn't make mistakes, but you can't take all the blame and put it on yourself for all the lives that were lost in the last five months. And that's exactly what you did. You walked out of Mount Weather after being forced to make an impossible decision and decided you didn't deserve a real life after everything you fought for. So you turned your back on all of us and walked away. For three months, I had to force myself not to go after you and make sure you were alive. Instead, I had to watch our kids fight nightmares and try to go back to living normal lives - or whatever's close to normal down here." He muttered this last part.
Clarke fisted her own shirt as she tried to keep back the tears that were stinging her eyes.
"You were selfish."
"I know." Her voice came out small and watery. "I'm sorry."
Bellamy sighed. "I know." He said simply.
They were both quiet for a bit before she turned her head to look at him. His eyes were closed but she could see the collection of freckles across the bridge of his nose and cheeks clearly in the light of the moon and the stars.
"I don't know if I'll ever regret leaving, but I know that I hate myself for hurting you - all of you." Clarke whispered.
He opened his eyes and turned his head to look into her damp blue eyes.
"I'm sorry." She couldn't seem to break past the level of softness that her words were.
"I'm sorry too." He murmured, never breaking eye contact. "I'm sorry for leaving you in Polis. I wish I'd fought harder to have you come home with us, or that I'd at least trusted that you had a plan. I'm sorry that I made the same mistake you did. I let Pike manipulate me against my own friends, against my own people."
"Bellamy-" She began to protest.
"No, Clarke. Let me - just let me get this out." She snapped her jaw shut as he took a deep breath and turned his head to the sky above him once more. "While you were gone, we built this place from the ground up and we worked together. We made a home for our friends and families and loved ones. I actually had a girlfriend, Gina. But when we got word that the Grounders were hunting you, everything changed. We found Farm Station and brought them back and there was immediately a division. Pike started looking for power immediately and was telling stories every other day about the Ice Nation and what they did to the people that came down with. And then Mount Weather exploded. It was my fault."
Clarke reached over and grabbed his hand, lacing her fingers in his as her thumb brushed his skin, but she didn't say anything. Bellamy shivered at the contact but kept going.
"The Grounder who warned us, she helped me before against a Mountain Man and I trusted her, but she led us into an ambush. Gina was in Mount Weather when it blew up." Clarke squeezed his hand when she heard his voice catch. "I lost her and the entire reason I'd gone to Polis was to save you-"
"But I didn't come home with you." Clarke finished for him. He nodded and she watched tears begin to slide down his cheeks towards his ears.
"I thought I was doing the right thing when I backed Pike, but I wasn't." He said darkly.
"Bellamy, you lost someone you loved and thought you were doing what was best for our people. That's what we've been doing every day since we got down here." Clarke told him gently. He turned his head to face her again.
She held his gaze for a long moment before she turned away, setting her gaze on the constellations.
"Pike is still new to this world. He hasn't been through what we have and after Mount Weather, neither one of us wanted to lead anymore. We didn't want to be responsible for anymore lives, and others took advantage of that. Somehow, though, I think Earth doesn't want us to be somebody else's soldiers."
Bellamy sighed and turned his face back to the night sky. "I think you're right." He mumbled.
Clarke thought her next words through carefully. "When Lexa came forward as the Commander, I made a choice that made everything else spiral. I isolated myself from you on purpose because I thought I would look weak for leaning on anyone else for guidance, when in reality, that's why we survived for so long, because we worked so well together and kept everyone alive. But every decision I made without you ended up in more death and I felt guilty because I turned into the very people I hated. I was Finn, my mother, Kane and Jaha all rolled into one. I killed people in your name and sacrificed TonDC and Mount Weather for the greater good of our people."
Her voice trembled as she spoke and it was Bellamy's turn to squeeze her hand as he turned his head to watch her fight to keep her tears in check.
"I still hate myself for falling for the woman who betrayed us."
Bellamy stiffened next to her, gripping her hand tightly and she sighed.
"I never trusted Lexa after she abandoned us, but when she had me brought to Polis and I saw the politics playing out behind her every decision, I couldn't help but sympathize and ended up caring more than I wanted to. I kept trying to keep an eye on her, making sure she stayed away from our people, but ended up feeling guilty for feeling anything for her at all and now she's dead because of me."
Clarke's voice cracked in the end and she tried to hide her sniffle but Bellamy let go of her hand and twisted, opening up his arms for her. Clarke couldn't help herself as she turned into his warm embrace. His arms pulled her close and he turned again so that she was practically lying on top of him as she cried into his shoulder, one leg falling between both of his and her arms crushed between their chests.
"I'm sorry, Bellamy. I'm so sorry for everything." She managed to get out. He hushed her, bringing one hand up to stroke her tangled hair and gently kissing her brow.
"I told you once, if you need forgiveness, I'll give it to you."
"But, the missile and TonDC and your sister-" Clarke rambled and Bellamy hushed her again.
"O's still alive and walking. She and I are still angry with you, we probably will be for a long time, but that doesn't mean we don't understand why you did it. Why Lexa, pushed you to do it."
"She made so many horrible decisions. How could I possibly have any feelings for her?" Clarke wondered aloud, her tears coming slower as she began to calm down.
"We don't choose who we fall for, Clarke. You were both protecting your own people to the best of your abilities." Bellamy said into her hair.
It took a bit longer for Clarke's tears to stop completely. By then her eyes were closed and she couldn't help grabbing Bellamy's t-shirt beneath his jacket and snuggling closer to him, even as he tightened his grip around her waist.
"Do you think we'll ever go back to normal?"
Bellamy slid his hand down from her hair to the small of her back, holding her against him. "I don't know what normal is for us anymore."
"Me either." Clarke murmured.
That's how Murphy found them a half hour later, asleep with tear-stained faces and legs entangled together, lying on thin cotton blankets out in the open. Abby walked up to stand next to him and only a few minutes later, Octavia did the same.
"Should we wake them?" Murphy asked but Octavia shook her head.
"He hasn't slept through the night like this since before the Mountain Men." She replied.
Abby disappeared for a few minutes, reappearing with more fur blankets and gently laid them on top of the two figures. "There. Let's go, you two. Murphy I have a spare room for you."
They left Bellamy and Clarke to a restful sleep for the both of them.
The next morning, neither of them had moved from their positions as they slowly woke together to a small audience.
Clarke lifted her head against Bellamy's chest, looking up into his unguarded chocolate-colored gaze and couldn't help the small smile that crossed her face. His lips quirked up more crookedly at her but when it turned away from her, it shuttered down quickly. She turned to find Miller, Harper, Monty and several more of the 44 staring down at them in amusement and happiness.
Clarke slowly lifted her weight off of Bellamy, sitting up so he could do the same.
"Can't believe it took four months for Mom and Dad to make up." Someone voiced and Clarke's eyebrows shot up in surprise as Bellamy tried to fight back a laugh.
"Mom and Dad? Seriously?" Clarke asked hoarsely.
"You weren't around around to get to choose your nickname, so they chose for you." Bellamy shrugged at her and Clarke look up at him, a blank mask on her face, before finally cracking and laughing at him.
"Alright," Miller clapped his hands together. "We're making a new society after breakfast, so we'll see you guys in an hour."
"I'd find a room if you guys want to wake up properly together." Harper teased them in a suggestive tone and Clarke turned a vicious shade of red as she turned her face into Bellamy's shoulder in embarrassment.
"Get lost, guys." Bellamy ordered them after rolling his eyes, throwing an arm around Clarke protectively.
After some scoffs and laughter the seven who'd found them shuffled off and Clarke finally peeked up at him.
"You can face down an army of Grounders and sneak into a mountain with only a gun but you can't face your own people in the morning?" Bellamy asked, reaching up and tugging lightly at her long hair.
"Oh, shut up."
She elbowed him before tossing the blankets off of her and standing up, turning to offer her own hands and haul him up next to her. Bellamy teetered forward at her strong pull, stumbling over her and he grabbed her waist to balance both of them. Clarke's hands had landed on his chest when she'd tripped backwards and she glanced up at him. They stared at each other for a long moment before Bellamy shook his head, seeming to come back to himself. He stepped back, not letting her get too far away as he slid an arm around her shoulders and began to lead her to the dining hall.
"Ready to make another society?" He couldn't help joke and she nodded.
"Our people, our responsibility." Clarke said and gazed up at him with such a hopeful expression on her face that he couldn't help himself as he leaned forward, planting a soft kiss on her forehead as they headed into the fallen Ark.