Title: "Putting the Dog to Sleep (Or Four Times Mel from Factory Station Couldn't Take a Hint and One Time that She Did)"
Character/Pairing: Clarke, Clarke/Bellamy
Spoiler: "Human Trials"
Summary: Bellamy acquires a shadow; Clarke doesn't handle it well.
Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing them for a few paragraphs.
Author's Note: More things to finish, but another plot bunny that begged to be written. While not a sequel to "Down to the River to Pray," it would provide good backstory for this fic. I also listened to the "Oblivion" soundtrack while I wrote all of this (terrible movie, awesome music), and I really encourage all of you to check it out. Title courtesy of The Antlers. Enjoy.
Prove to me. I'm not gonna die alone.
Finn says three words and it changes everything Clarke knew about love.
"I found you," he whispers and it hurts beyond her body and her bones, it sinks through her pores and into her bloodstream, pulses and burns with every shaky breath she takes.
She looks away, unable to bear the hope in his eyes, and takes in the carnage he committed in her name. She wishes that she never met him.
Finn reaches for her across the killing field, reaches for her with hands that once stroked over her bare skin. He doesn't say anything more, but she can read the look in his eyes. "I did this for you," he's saying. "I'd do anything for you." Clarke drags a hand over her mouth to hold back the screams.
She learns this important thing about love: it can do more than just break her heart.
They retreat to Camp Jaha with dead eyes and silent tongues.
Octavia leads, hand signals guiding their way, and Finn stumbles behind with bound hands. Murphy prods him along and Clarke can't stop staring at the muzzle of his rifle pressed firmly into the small of Finn's back. She remembers the days when he argued for peace and Bellamy pushed for war, and it's almost impossible to accept that the roles have been reversed.
Bellamy is silent at her side, but he touches her every now and then, just the brush of his fingers over her shoulder, just to let her know that he's there.
Sometimes, she even leans into him, lets him bear some of her weight. She's not sure she can get through this without him.
They can't come to an agreement about what to do with Finn.
She knows that he should be turned over to Abby, but Bellamy reminds her that the Exodus Charter is still in place. "They'll kill him if they find out what he did." He turns his gaze to Murphy, the echo of the noose still wreathing his neck. "We don't kill people, right?"
Murphy looks away but Clarke hears Bellamy's message loud and clear. "Okay," she says. "But we need to keep him somewhere until we decide."
Bellamy nods. "I think Raven has a tent." And so they have a plan.
They walk through the gate with their heads held high and form a loose circle around Finn as they herd him towards engineering. He just looked at them sadly when they untied his hands. "Where would I even go?"
"Please don't talk to me," she requests as she helps him into the tent and for once he's silent. She doesn't think she'll ever want to hear anything he has to say again.
Raven laughs when they tell her, the kind of harsh, bitter laugh that lacks any humor. She scrubs her hands over her face and looks away. "At least he committed to one of us, right?"
"Raven," Clarke starts but Raven shakes her off and Clarke lets her. They're far past the mess Finn made of things, but she's hurting and the truth does sting.
She hobbles away with as much dignity as she can muster and Octavia takes off after her. "I'll go handle your mom," she says and gestures for Murphy to follow. "This isn't your call." He reluctantly picks up his rifle and ducks through the tent flap.
Clarke shakes her head, clears away the image of Murphy with a gun that Bellamy willingly gave him. "What now?"
He sighs and runs his hand through his hair. "I have no idea."
They drop side by side on Raven's makeshift bed and stare into the silence. Across the small space, Finn watches them with those familiar dark eyes.
She can't kill him. Clarke knows that much, but she can't banish him either. It would mean the same fate, only by a different hand. Tears spring to her eyes, but she's not crying for Finn. She wants her father, his advice and his council, but mostly how deeply he believed in her. He would help her do the right thing.
There's a rustle at the entrance and a dark head pokes inside. For a moment, Clarke thinks it's Raven, but the girl's hair is loose about her shoulders. She's just as slender though, and looks even smaller hidden behind a pile of neatly folded clothes.
Bellamy glances up too and the girl smiles at him. "I heard you were back," she says, gestures at the clothes. Clarke thinks she recognizes Bellamy's Sky Cell issued jacket. "I thought you might want these back."
Clarke has a vague memory of Bellamy at the gate, one arm wrapped around a strange girl, holding her up and keeping her together. She stands and pushes her father out of mind; he can't help her here.
Bellamy reaches for the pile. "Thanks, Mel." He shrugs into the jacket. "This is Clarke," he says and Mel extends her hand.
Clarke pauses a moment before she takes it. It's nothing personal, but her hands are covered in mud and grime, knuckles riddled with cuts. Sanitation isn't easy on the ground, but there's no dirt under Mel's fingernails. There's no blood caked into the grooves of her palm.
Mel's skin is still soft when Clarke grasps her hand and forces a smile through dry, cracked lips. It's her eyes that she won't meet. There's still a warmth there; Mel still believes in things.
She can't remember a time when there wasn't blood on her hands.
They prepare in earnest in the aftermath.
Abby circles them warily but they close ranks and no one talks. Finn is confined to Raven's tent and Murphy stands guard. He refuses to leave and Bellamy has to threaten to knock him out before he'll agree to a few hours sleep.
He isn't forgiven, but he's no longer persona non grata. Clarke sees the way he sees himself in Finn, the fallout of the mistakes he made. She doesn't think she'll ever trust him, but she doesn't hate him any longer. She mostly appreciates the depth of his guilt, how it frees her for other tasks. She's glad she doesn't have to interact with Finn at all.
Clarke spends the next morning mashing seaweed in the med-bay. Her mother is stretched thin by her dueling positions and she uses the distraction to her advantage: a pressure bandage here, a suture needle and thread there. She keeps to herself and meticulously stocks supplies for the mission.
Mel is across the room sorting supplies and giggling with two other girls. "Tell us again!" one of the girls squeals. "What was it like?"
"Yeah, tell us!" another voice chimes in. "Is his body as hard as it looks?"
Clarke rolls her eyes and pounds harder at the seaweed. She knows Bellamy is attractive. She remembers the early days, the parade of girls leaving his tent each morning, the way his bare skin would gleam smooth and gold in the sunlight, the way even she fell sway to the words spilling from his clever tongue. But she also sees a body hanging, blood draining to the steady beat of its heart. She sees the dropship door closing, remembers leaving her people behind.
The girls laugh and Clarke concentrates on the mobile med-packs she's making, pushes aside Bellamy's dark eyes flashing in the moonlight. She has enough on her plate. There isn't room for anything more.
She has three packs ready when Bellamy comes in leaning heavily on Wick. His forehead is sweaty and his mouth a thin line, but he doesn't complain as they help him to a table.
"What happened?" she demands, already probing his limp shoulder.
"One of the rifles malfunctioned," he explains. "The reverb knocked my shoulder out." He forces a pained smile. "Think you can get it back into place?"
She nods, keeps examining the inflamed joint. "It will hurt."
He manages a one-shouldered shrug. "Raven had back surgery without anesthesia. I can handle this."
She didn't know that, but it doesn't surprise her. The girl did reach earth in a hundred year old tin can. "Give me a second," Clarke says and hurries to the supply closet for a sling.
Wick is gone when she gets back, but Bellamy isn't alone. Mel is at his side, holding his hand. "You don't have to do this," he says but she shakes her head.
"You saved my life. The least I can do is help you through this."
Clarke clears her throat and they both look up sharply. Bellamy meets her eyes helplessly and Mel doesn't let go.
Clarke turns her attention to Bellamy. "It's okay if you cry." She doesn't warn him before she jerks his arm into place, and he doesn't yell but Mel does as his fingers tighten like a vise around hers. "All done!" Clarke says and begins wrapping his arm in the sling. Bellamy lets go of Mel's hand and she manages to keep up the bright smile while flexing some feeling into her fingers. Across the room, her friends watch with wide, interested eyes.
Clarke suppresses the urge to roll her own and heads back to her worktable. Octavia is already there, dropping rations into each pack. She looks worried as Clarke approaches. "What's up with my brother?"
Clarke mashes her seaweed with a little more force than necessary. "He dislocated his shoulder and I fixed it. He'll be grumpier than usual for a day or two, but there's no permanent damage."
Octavia watches him while Clarke keeps mashing, repressing the wince when Mel's laughter breaks through the room. It's made entirely of steel and her laugh echoes like music, light and easy and free.
"He's not into her, you know?" Octavia breaks in.
Clarke doesn't look up from her work. "He can do what he wants."
"Okay, but is it the seaweed's fault if you don't like it?"
Clarke puts down the pestle and meets Octavia's knowing eyes. "It's not that."
Octavia doesn't look like she believes her. "Then what?"
"Look at her." They glance across the room in unison. Bellamy isn't laughing with Mel, but he's not frowning either. "When she smiles, it goes all the way to her eyes. I used to smile like that."
Octavia's own smile is sad, but there's a hint of hope there too. "Someday, we'll all smile like that." She turns back to the rations and Clarke bottles seaweed and Mel's chatter doesn't let up.
Clarke sneaks a look at Bellamy, takes in the stark, hard lines of his profile. She hopes he'll smile that way too.
Clarke's prediction holds true.
Bellamy is grumpier than usual as his shoulder heals, and since he can't shoot at anything, he uses the time to plan.
He takes up residence in the engineering tent, building a model of the grounder map out of scrap metal. They've all been sticking to their assignments, Clarke included, and it keeps away Abby's prying eyes and probing questions. She comes by during her lunch break and finds Raven and Wick hurriedly prepping hand-held radios; Bellamy is hunched over his map.
She peers over his shoulder, notes the familiar lines of the Ark and dropship; she looks away when she notices the bloodstained edges. The map was Finn's and while he's been recused from this mission, his crimes linger.
Bellamy looks up and pushes back his hair with his good hand. "Hey, Princess." The nickname comes as a surprise but it makes her smile just a little bit. He grins back. "Haven't seen one of those in a long time."
She pokes him and ignores the comment, leans over the map from the other side of the bench. There's no time for distractions. "How are we doing?"
Bellamy points to the misshapen blob that represents Mount Weather. "We'll be ready to go the day after tomorrow." He glances at the back table. "Wick's rigging us new harnesses. We'll be able to climb in through the storm drain."
Clarke swallows hard but agrees with him. She knows the risks, but there's no other choice. They can't afford to wait. "I'll be ready."
"I will too."
They both look up to see Mel standing in the doorway, a determined expression on her face. She's a tiny slip of thing, smaller even than Raven, but Clarke recognizes the stubborn set of her chin. She's seen it in herself.
"We appreciate the offer," Clarke starts, watches Mel's eyes narrow. "But this isn't a volunteer mission."
"I want to help."
Clarke nods but doesn't back down. "And we appreciate that," she repeats. "But you're not coming. It's too risky."
Mel turns her attention to Bellamy and she can't see him but Clarke knows he's cracking. "We're currently a rescue squad of three," he reminds her. "We could use the help."
Clarke grabs his arm, his bad arm, and ignores his hiss of pain as she drags him outside. "What are you thinking?" she demands. "Have you lost your mind?"
He glares at her and rubs his shoulder. "I'm thinking that the more people we have, the better our chances. Raven has a bum leg, and until the arrow wound heals, so does Monroe. Wick can't leave and Murphy is responsible for Finn." He signs, rubs a hand down his face. He's exhausted, he's not trying to hide it, and his behavior isn't lost on Clarke.
"Okay," she says softly, shoves aside his hand so she can massage the muscles properly. He stiffens but doesn't push her away. "I get it. We need people and she wants to go, but we can't take her."
"Why not?" He watches her while he waits for his answer, and those dark eyes miss nothing. "Why not her?"
He waits while she keeps massaging his arm but he never looks away. "I can't lose anyone else," she finally says.
"People die, Clarke. It's the first lesson we learned on the ground."
Her hands finally still as she remembers laying Wells to rest. "But she doesn't have to." She turns so she's facing him, so close she can count each freckle peppering his cheeks. "We all fell from the sky, but she landed here." She gestures around the camp, and it's nothing like the relative comforts of the Ark, but there's an electric fence keeping predators out. "She's not one of us. She doesn't get what it's like out there. Maybe she'll die, but not on my watch."
Bellamy is a blue blur, and when she blinks she realizes it's tears obscuring her vision. Too many people have already died because of her, the choices she's made. She won't let it happen again. "Okay," Bellamy says, puts his hands on her shoulders and squeezes gently. "We'll bring Murphy instead."
She nods but keeps her head bowed, won't look him in the eyes with tears in hers. "You'll teach her to shoot?"
"I'll take care of it," he says and drops his hands, starts back inside.
"You always do," she says and he freezes, looks right into her watery eyes.
She doesn't look away this time, lets him into see all she thinks and feels. They're in this together; she trusts him completely; she's so grateful that she doesn't have to do this alone.
There's a party the night before they leave.
No one in camp has died for a full week and the Agro-Station survivors reveal a hidden cache of moonshine. So they celebrate, because against all odds, they fell from the sky and most of them are still alive. They don't mention Anya, and Clarke doesn't bring up the villagers that Finn slaughtered.
She watches from the outskirts of the celebration. They tried to kill her, but the strangers Finn murdered feel more her people than the ones that know where she came from. They understand her world, what her life has become, what it's like to fight and die for just the tiniest hope of living. She can't bring herself to laugh and dance when she knows the cost of staying alive.
She sees Bellamy across the fire talking quietly with Octavia. From the way he's gesturing, she thinks it's something mission related, and Octavia's well versed in Bellamy-speak so she just nods along.
The music changes, something harder and faster, and something else catches her eye. She watches Mel tug on Bellamy's arm and whisper something in his ear, watches a mischievous grin curve Octavia's lips as she pushes her brother towards the crowd of dancers.
He looks horribly out of place, tripping over his feet as Mel laughs, takes his hands and tries to show him the steps. Clarke crosses her arms over her chest, ignores the way her eyes narrow into thin slits.
"You know, if you stare a little harder, you might actually bore holes into the backs of their heads." Raven limps to a spot at Clarke's right holding a cup of moonshine.
Clarke drops her arms and struggles to keep her expression neutral. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Raven laughs and takes another sip from her cup. "The timing is terrible, but your instincts are right. She's just a distraction."
Clarke ignores the second part, focuses on the first. "Finn slaughtered half a village and our people could be spending the night being drained of their blood, and he's dancing." She doesn't miss the way she practically spits out the last word.
"Not very well."
"That's not the point – "
"It is the point," Raven says. "You don't have to be serious all the time. Even the princess gets a night off."
Clarke stares out into the crowd. Once up on a time, she liked dancing; the masquerade ball was always the highlight of her year. There's nothing else she can do here, nothing else she can do for all the people she's lost.
"Okay," she says and grabs Raven's cup out of her hand. It's only half full and the booze feels good as it burns its way through her chest. "Thanks."
She thinks she hears Raven mumble something in return, but she's distracted by the roar of the fire and the beat of the drums and the heat in Bellamy's eyes when she taps him on the shoulder.
"Can I cut in?" she asks and Mel frowns, but she doesn't protest when Bellamy lets her go.
Neither of them are good dancers, but it doesn't seem to matter as he pulls her against his chest, hands sliding low on her hips, and they struggle through the steps together.
They spend their last night wrapped up in each other.
Clarke's been living in Abby's quarters since her return, but she can't bear it tonight. She doesn't want to lie, not when her world might end tomorrow. She'll give her mom a kiss goodbye, but nothing more. She loves her, but she's not ready to forgive her. She'll deal with that when – if – she comes back.
She leaves the party early and grabs her pack to bed down in Bellamy's tent. It was a peace offering from her mother, and Clarke tried to refuse it, but Bellamy urged her to reconsider. They couldn't all sleep in the engineering shop, and no one wanted to sleep near Finn.
The bed is neatly made, his bag packed and ready to go. It's a far cry from whatever the hell we want, but they've all changed. What surprises her the most is the man fast asleep between its sheets.
It's dark and she can't see him, but he clearly hears her because he just rolls to his side and pats the mattress. "Hop on in."
"How did you know it was me?" she asks even as she's tugging off her boots.
"I recognize that stomp."
"I do not stomp," she insists, taking careful steps as she shrugs out of her jacket and pulls off her pants.
He doesn't respond and she still can't see him, but she can feel those dark eyes on her and she resists the urge to cover herself. Which is stupid. She's wearing a tank-top and underwear and she's seen him in less, and he can't actually see her, but she blushes all the same.
Especially when she slides into the bed and feels the hard, smooth planes of his chest bump up against her back. He stiffens but doesn't pull away.
"It's going to be okay," he says, reaches across their bodies to rest his hand over hers. "We're going to get them back."
"We might not. We need to be prepared for that."
He laughs, a low rumble that she can feel all the way to her toes. "There's my princess. Always looking on the bright side."
"It's true," she says into the darkness. "We might not come back."
He drops his thumb so it rubs slow circles over her knuckles. "But we also could." He sucks in a breath. "I have to believe that we will."
Clarke holds tight to his hand. "I want to believe that too."
There's a noise at the entrance and Bellamy pulls away, fingers slipping under the pillow to grasp his knife.
There's a torch, then a figure, and finally Mel steps into the tent. "You're leaving tomorrow and I thought you might want – " She freezes in mid-sentence. "Oh. I thought you were alone."
Bellamy pushes to a sitting position, but lets go of the knife. "Mel, this isn't a good time…"
"Yeah," she interrupts, cheeks flaming red even in the dim light. "I…I gotta go. Uh, bye."
She bolts so fast that the torch sputters out and Clarke's not sure what she should do next. She wasn't exactly invited to this sleepover. "You can go after her, you know," she says to his back. "I'd understand."
He turns slowly, all mussed hair and golden skin gleaming in the candlelight. "Why would I want that?" His eyes are dark and burning, staring into hers.
"We might die, tomorrow, Bellamy. If this is your last night on earth, enjoy it."
He just smiles at her, a real smile that almost reaches his eyes, and tugs her down. She slides easily into curve of his chest, feels all that warm muscle and bone wrap around her.
He presses his mouth to her temple, breathes into her hair. "I'm right where I want to be."
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