John lets out a yell and smashes his shoulder against the two doors, but they don't budge. "Dammit, not again!" He roars, and mentally slaps himself for saying that out loud. He spares a glance in Clarke's direction, but she's still standing in place, hands shaking.
Great, John thinks. The one day Clarke doesn't have everything under control, and he has to bear witness to it. Just his luck, he scowls. Though Clarke doesn't look too good, and John holds no grudge towards her. She's the one who hates him, though, or at least she used to... she called him her friend. John knows very little about Clarke Griffin, but he knows she never considered them to be friends. Neither did he.
He looks back at her again, and she's moved to sit on the floor, leaning against the legs of a table, staring at her hands, eyes empty. John grits his teeth and slams against the door again, cursing vividly.
"Dammit, Clarke!" He explodes a few minutes later, "help me!" She looks up, slightly, and John is thrown a bit by the deadness in her eyes. "We have to go," he stresses, and she looks back at her blackened fingertips.
"No," she says softly. "No, we don't." She looks up at him, head tilted, lips pressed into a flat line. "We don't have to do anything ," she says, and she sounds so helpless that John feels bad for her. "We can't."
John is aching and bleeding and sore, but he's also curious, so he pulls Clarke to her feet and they sit on opposite ends of the bed.
She doesn't say anything, but lets him pull her by the crook of her arm, which is confusing and altogether alarmingly un-Clarke. Something is very wrong, and John is quite sure it's not just about the woman's death. The commander's death. The woman Clarke seemed to love's death. Where the hell is Finn?
After they've been sitting for a moment, and John has allowed himself to soak in his pain, he looks at Clarke, who is sitting stiffly, hands folded in her lap, black blood coating her arms and shirt.
"Why can't we go?" He asks eventually, and Clarke doesn't look up.
"There's nothing we can do," she says, sounding as if she is reciting facts and not saying everything that goes against who she is.
"I've tried it all, there's nothing we can do. Not anymore." Suddenly there are tears rolling down her cheeks, and John feels like he's been transported into another universe, one where Clarke Griffin looks like a grounder and one where she cries, in front of people, and has given up.
"That's not true," he mutters, but doesn't know how to back up his claim. "Why not?" He asks instead, and Clarke looks at the ceiling and brushes her bloody hands under her eyes.
"Our people have destroyed any chance at peace," she tells him brokenly, "I don't know what to do." She swallows and tells him of a man called Pike, who used to teach children about Earth and the lessons they could learn from history, and was now repeating all of their ancestor's mistakes. She tells him how Marcus has lost his authority, how the grounders have been thrown into jail cells while ill. She tells him Lexa was their only chance at resolving anything without war.
"We can't win," she says simply, "we can't win, not this. Not against these people. Not even after all I've done, all I've lost, all I've risked, we can't win."
John frowns. "Wait. So who won the last war?" Clarke smiles, and it's an awful sight, and John hopes his pity doesn't show on his face.
"No one." John lifts an eyebrow. "Lexa took a deal offered by the mountain. Her people were released from the mountain, and ours were left to rot." John notices that she says ours, that he is included amongst their number, amongst her people, and the word friend drums in his ears in confusion.
"They were drilling into them for bone marrow, so they could get to the surface. We lost three people, and almost lost two more. Raven almost died," she says, and sighs sadly. "My mother almost died." John winces a bit, but he's putting aside his sympathy for now. Everybody has scars. Everybody's lost people. Clarke just loses more than some, and shoulders guilt that's not really her own more than everyone else.
"I killed president Dante and eradicated the level where three-hundred and eighty people were stationed." She looks at him, finally. "I killed an entire civilisation to save my friends. Bellamy and Monty were there, but I did it." She swallows and another tear tracks down her grimy face. "And before that, I let an entire village get bombed so that the mountain wouldn't figure out we had Bellamy inside their walls." She shakes her head. "Octavia was there... My mother was there. Lexa told me it was the only thing to do, and it was, but..."
John nods a bit. "How'd you get to working with the commander anyways?" He asks, because it's been nagging at him, and he probably shouldn't ask, but he doesn't really care.
Clarke licks her lips. "Finn," she says, and John's eyebrows shoot up. "He... He was the one who made it possible to work with them." She hesitates and John is about to make a sarcastic comment but then she adds, "His death brought our people together."
John stares at her and then swears. "Son of a-" Clarke flinches a bit. "Who killed him?"
Clarke looks at her bloody hands again. "Me," she says. "I killed him. I killed him so that he didn't have to die through torture."
John doesn't know what to say. He wants to put a comforting hand on her leg, or squeeze her shoulder, but knows the action wouldn't go over well.
He nods instead, showing her that he understands, (is trying to,) and is okay with it, (he's not really sure how he feels.)
"I left," Clarke says suddenly. "When everyone was safe and in Camp Jaha, which is Arkadia now, by the way, I left. I didn't want to have to live with people who knew what I'd done, who reminded me of two genocides, who needed to move on without me." She shrugs. "So I left. Hunted. Traded. Avoided kidnappers searching for Wanheda and her powers over death." She shrugs again. "I tried to heal."
She takes a breath and John wonders in some awe how she's actually telling him this, him of all people, but supposes he needs to understand what's going on so he's going to roll with it and see what happens.
"A man called Roan from Azgeda, the ice nation, caught me, after around three months. He brought me here, to Polis, where I found out Lexa had ordered for me." She smiles. "I wasn't happy, and tried to kill her. Roan was a prisoner too, because he was a prince in exile and Lexa couldn't trust him." She looks up at him, the smile still faint on her lips.
"I joined the coalition of the twelve clans after realising how much it would help our people, because war was immense and being apart of the clans would gaunt enter and alliance. But Queen Nia of Azgeda wanted me dead and wanted Lexa's throne for herself, and challenged Lexa to a duel against Roan."
She sighs. "I tried to kill Nia and got blood painted all over my face, and then in the duel Lexa overpowered Roan and then killed Nia instead of him. Everything was fixed, it was okay, I'd made sure they were safe." Her voice is desperate now, almost pleading, and before John can think it through he's placed a hand over one of hers.
She stills a bit but doesn't throw him off, which he considers an achievement, before continuing. "In Arkadia, though, farm station had been found and integrated into the camp. Kane was out-voted, and Pike then sent out a small squadron to kill the army of three hundred that was camped outside the walls. Lexa had sent them to protect Skaikru from Azgeda, and we were on our way back to release them when we found out that Pike, as new chancellor, had massacred them in their sleep before executing the wounded." She shakes her head, and John's face twists in horror and disgust.
"I went into the camp secretly, with Octavia's help, to talk to Bellamy, who was siding with Pike." She hesitates, and John's heart drops into his toes.
"What?" He asks lowly, and Clarke looks at him heart-brokenly.
"He blamed everything on me," she whispers. "He handcuffed me to a table and was going to bring me to Pike." John is horrified, and squeezes her hand, before grabbing a strategically placed rag and trying to scrub the drying blood off of her fingers. "Octavia killed the guards, and I tazered him," she continues, face twisting, and John makes a sound of appreciation.
"Azgeda had blown up the mountain, and Bellamy's girlfriend Gina was in it. He... I don't know. He says it's my fault."
"Bellamy had a girlfriend?" John asks in shock, and his chest twinges at Clarke's small nod.
"I convinced Lexa break a century of tradition. I told her to go against her council, and she did. Jus drei no jus daun. Blood must not have blood. We agreed that the massacre would go un-avenged." She sighs.
"I did my part in convincing her of my honesty when Roan delivered Emerson to me, the last mountain man, and I didn't kill him."
She frowns. "And then Bellamy attacked a village. Octavia went to warn the grounders and they held her captive, and then she warned Bellamy. The grounders brought her to Lexa and demanded vengeance, but Lexa refused. She wanted to set up armies around Arkadia, with a kill order on anyone more than five miles away from it. She asked me to stay, but Octavia..." She trails off.
"And then I was just getting the last of my things when Titus..." Her voice almost breaks. John nods in sympathy and surveys her.
"Wow." He says, and releases her hands. There is silence.
"Clarke, you're a mess."
She laughs, which is shocking. "Thanks, asshole," she says. "What happened to you?" He tells her, and midway through snaps that her hair looks like crap and he's fixing it. "Come here," he orders. "You look like sh*t. What the hell happened to hygiene, huh? Surely Wanheda is supposed to look presentable, at least!" Clarke shrugs morosely. "I haven't had time to look nice," she says softly, and he sighs.
"You're a mess," he informs her again, and she nods. "I know. I'm sorry." He sighs and shakes his head. He wants to say that it's okay, he's a mess too, but he doesn't really want to make her clam up again. They may be captives, for now, and they may have to fight or escape or just do something, but he'd like old Clarke back first. He has a horrible feeling that he may be the only one able to accomplish that, in the present time. It's confronting. Of all the people who Clarke has helped, all she's known, he has to be the one to try and fix Clarke. (Where are her friends? Where is Bellamy?)
He brushes through her ratty hair, turning it long and wavy, and then braids it back, As he works, distracting his hands, he finds him listening as Clarke tells him about why she got locked up in the first place. He learns that she still misses her father more than anything. He remembers seeing Finn shoot a grounder in the head for possessing his watch, and stays quiet. When her silence has stretched on too long, John somehow decides to tell her about his mother and father, his life on the ark. She is quiet, but she's listening. It helps, somehow. For both of them. (Even if it's weird and not what would usually pass as Clarke Behaviour.)
And then she asks him about the city of light, about Lexa's tattoo and the thing that crawled out of her neck. Her voice catches on Lexa's name and John wonders when Clarke began to care so much for the leader of the opposing team. (What used to be the opposing team.) And for no reason at all, John tells her of the journey through the deadzone, Jaha's cruelty, being trapped in the hellish bunker, being released at long last only to find the AI that destroyed the world was still functioning- and recruiting. He tells Clarke about Emori, about how they stole for a living, because they could, and how he was captured.
Clarke smiles. "I think I'd like her," she says simply, and he shrugs. "Probably." He agrees, and surveys his braiding. Emori had taught him, and he'd done a good job, but then he decided to lob it off from her shoulders down. When Clarke sees it in her reflection in the murky mirror on the wall, she grins and thanks him, and her voice sounds more lively than it has in a long time. John's not sure if it's because it's lighter and cleaner, or if it's new and different, but he likes it too so he shrugs and glares holes in the locked door.
"So," John asks when they've been in the room for a few hours and the walls seem to be closing in on him, "friends, huh?" She turns to him.
"You're the least messed up person I know. And you're one of us, the original sky people. So yeah, friends." She says this casually, not offering an apology or explanation. John grins. "Great," he crows. "I'm never going to let you live this down." She snorts and yanks pieces of wood and metal out of hiding places and furniture, tying cloth and rope together to form some kind of contraption as John watches.
And then Clarke stands outside the window. "Okay." She says, voice stronger. "It's time to go." She nods, as if to reassure herself, and John smirks. "You coming?" She asks, turning to him, and he shrugs and goes to stand by her.
"Where to?" He asks, because he's pretty sure he knows, but he wants to be sure.
"Arkadia," Clarke says. "I'm going back to Arkadia because I'm needed there." John nods. Clarke is back. She's not happy, and she's definitely not okay, but maybe she's going to be eventually. For now, she'll do what needs to be done, and that's good too.
"Figured. Surprised you stuck around as long as you did, honestly. So sure," he says. "Nothing better to do."
She looks at him, blue eyes intense. "You can go back to Emori, if you'd like, John. I won't stop you." He laughs, even if it's a brittle, cynical sound. "Oh, she's coming, don't you worry," he says, and Clarke nods with a smile.
"So." John leans a bit over the window, staring onto the floor far below them. "What's the plan?"
Clarke grins. "Take this leap of faith with me, John Murphy." She holds out her hand, and he takes it.