Demons, in Clarke's opinion, were the worst kind of thing to hunt. First, there was the bad weather that always trailed along in the demon's wake which often resulted in Clarke being rained on near-constantly and once even getting struck by lightning (an experience she'd rather not repeat). Second, there was the death. Sure, she'd killed a lot of things herself, but there was nothing worse than the bodies of the people she couldn't save. Lastly, exorcisms were hardly anything she wanted to bother with, but they were a necessary evil.
"I'll gut you slowly," the demon taunted as she tied it to the chair. "I'll rip you open and pull every single one of your organs out, one by one. It'll be a slow death."
"I'm sure," she muttered as she fastened the ropes and splashed them with holy water for good measure. The demon's skin sizzled where the water hit.
"Or maybe I should just rip you apart and damn you all the way to hell. You'll die a thousand times a day."
Clarke stepped back out of the pentagram to admire her work, ignoring the bloody deaths and damnation the demon promised.
"Not bad," she muttered and then began the exorcism, reciting the words with a vague sense of boredom. The first time she'd done this, her voice had shook so badly it was a wonder she'd even succeeded at all, but now it felt too much like routine.
The demon spat out insults and death threats, but they faded out as she drew closer to the end of the verse. The dark red eyes flickered a few times before disappearing altogether and were replaced with nice, normal brown eyes. Then, the demon burst out of the girl in a puff of thick, dark smoke which drifted down to the ground.
"Th – thanks," the demon's host said, gasping for breath.
"No problem," Clarke said and moved over to the girl. She looked younger now, like a grown up playing dress up. Clarke was glad the girl was still alive. Most demons weren't so nice, but she figured this might have been personal if this girl was still alive.
"Do you have anyone you want to call?" Clarke asked softly as she untied the girl.
"My brother," the girl said, her voice raw.
"Okay, sure …?"
"Octavia," the girl supplied and stood up, moving like she couldn't quite believe it was possible. Clarke felt a wave of sympathy for her. Demon possession was perhaps one of the worst fates in the universe, being trapped in your own body without a single ounce of control. It was one of Clarke's worst nightmares.
"I'm Clarke," she replied. "Can your brother pick you up from somewhere or do you want me to take you to him?"
"I don't know where he is," Octavia confessed. "That's why I need to call right now."
"Sure," Clarke said and handed over the phone. She stepped away and packed up her stuff in an attempt to give Octavia a measure of privacy. This was the kind of moment people needed to have on their own.
"He can pick me up from here," Octavia said, naked relief in her voice. "But he's going to be a while."
"I can set you up here in the motel. It's not glamorous, but it's something," Clarke offered.
"Thanks," Octavia said and handed back Clarke's phone. Clarke pocked it.
"I'm glad you're okay," Clarke said. "Not everyone's so lucky."
"What was it?" Octavia asked and hugged herself.
"A demon," Clarke replied.
Octavia nodded. "Why did it … take me?" she asked hesitantly.
"I don't know," Clarke replied. "I haven't found a pattern."
"I wish I could remember more, but it didn't want me to know."
"That's what they do."
"I … I was in the dark a lot of the time. I'd just black out and then suddenly, I'd be somewhere else but it's not like I could do anything about it. It moved for me."
"Well, you're free now," Clarke said and then reached into her pocket. "I have this too."
Octavia eyed the necklace carefully. "What is it?"
"Something that'll stop a demon possessing you," Clarke said.
"You don't have one," Octavia observed.
"I had mine tattooed," Clarke said and pulled down the collar of her shirt to show the tattoo over her heart.
"That sounds like a better idea."
"I don't think you'd need one of these. You're just a civilian."
"I want to do what you do," Octavia said firmly. "Show me how."
"It's not an easy life," Clarke said. "This? It's a good day."
"I don't care," Octavia insisted. "I want to be able to protect people."
Clarke nodded. "I get that, but you haven't lived like this and you don't want to. Not really."
"I know what I want," Octavia said. "I can't just sit here and pretend that none of this ever happened, that there are people out there like me."
"I guess I can teach you a few things," Clarke relented and hoped this wasn't a bad decision. She'd never tried training someone else before. That had always been her father's job. Her throat constricted at the thought.
Octavia seemed satisfied and let Clarke take her to the motel, which she seemed to be pleased about, even if it was one of the worst places Clarke had slept in.
Clarke didn't sleep well that night, mostly because of Octavia, who kept pacing around and tossing in her sleep. Not that she blamed the girl – whatever possession was like, Clarke knew it had to have been tough for Octavia. Nobody she'd ever seen got out of this unscathed. In fact, most people turned out to be a mess after Clarke had pulled the demon out. The damage, by then, had often been too much for them to handle. So considering Octavia was moving about, Clarke took it as a good sign. Maybe she'd be okay.
She couldn't handle losing another person.
In the morning, Clarke woke up to someone knocking on her motel door. She bolted awake, years of light sleeping paying off as she rolled out of bed, uncaring that she was still mostly dressed in her dirty, blood-stained shirt. It didn't look so bad now; at least the blood looked a little more like dirt.
She looked in the peephole to see her visitor and swore. It wasn't the motel owner, like she'd suspected, but some young guy. His hair was messy as all hell and he looked tired, the kind of exhaustion that could only ever come from having driven all night. Clarke should know – after all, she'd seen the look on herself in the mirror more times than she cared to count.
This must be the brother she thought to herself and noted that he was also ridiculously hot, even if he looked like crap.
Of course, she realised she should probably change, get out of her clothes and find something less confronting for a first visit. But there was no time to find anything else. The rest of her clothing was still safely tucked away in her car's trunk. This was supposed to be her spare set.
"Hello?" the guy called out.
Clarke swallowed her pride and opened the door. "Hi," she said and braced herself for some kind of accusation. It wasn't the first time it'd happened, but that didn't mean she liked it.
The guy looked her up and down. He opened his mouth, about to speak and—
"You're the brother, I assume," she said, cutting off any thing he was about to say.
"Yes," he replied curtly. "Now, who the hell are you?"
Clarke sighed. "Your sister's still asleep, but I can wake her up."
"I think I can do that," he said with an edge to his voice. He looked like he was ready to take her on, though Clarke knew if it came down to it, she'd probably win. After all, she'd tackled enough freakishly strong supernatural creatures and come out on top, so a guy like Octavia's brother didn't seem like much.
Clarke sighed. "I didn't hurt her, if that's what you're thinking."
"So, how did you find her?" he asked, but the suspicion didn't leave his eyes.
"I just did," Clarke said. "It's my job."
"Tracking runaway teenagers?" he raised an eyebrow.
"Not exactly," she said.
"Then what is it that you do?" he asked.
"That's a long story."
"I don't care," he replied. "I just want to know what exactly made my missing sister suddenly call me and tell me to pick her up from the middle of nowhere and end up rooming with some bloody chick."
Clarke knew she owed him that much, but she also knew how sceptical most people were. Nobody wanted to believe the truth – they were all perfectly happy going on to believe a lie. And this guy didn't look like the type to believe in something on the word of a stranger.
"I think I'll let Octavia tell you that herself," Clarke said.
"Why don't you tell me now?" he said and leaned against the doorframe, crossing his arms. She knew he was trying to intimidate her, but she wasn't scared. No matter what he thought he could do to her, she'd seen scarier things. Someone like him wasn't what she was afraid of.
They stared at each other for a long minute and just when Clarke was about to break the silence with some excuse, a sharp, happy cry broke the silence.
"Bellamy!" Octavia said and barrelled into her brother's arms, nearly knocking him over.
"O," the guy—Bellamy—whispered as he hugged her tightly.
Clarke looked away. It'd been a long time since anyone had been that glad to see her. A lump rose in her throat and she walked over to her bed and began to carefully deconstruct most of the protective barriers she'd constructed throughout the room.
It was a nice distraction for a while, but Clarke was too well-versed in this process to make it last any longer than absolutely necessary. She glanced over to Octavia again, who was still hugging her brother tightly and crying into his shoulder. Clarke looked away and dumped the used materials into the trash. They'd done their part, just as she had.
"I should go," she told the two of them. "I can pay for the room another night, if you need it."
"Wait, you're leaving?" Octavia said, sounding hurt. She pulled away from Bellamy.
"I need to get on the road again," Clarke said and glanced at Octavia, hoping she understood her true meaning.
"Weren't you going to show me those things?" Octavia demanded. Bellamy looked at Clarke pointedly as if demanding an explanation.
"Yeah, I have those here," she said and pulled out a few scribbled pages from motel stationary from a place three states away. She'd written it all out last night before she'd fallen asleep. "It's everything you need to know for now."
"Oh—I thought you'd do it in person," Octavia said.
"I wish I could," Clarke said honestly. "But I can't stay here and you deserve to get back home."
Octavia still looked disappointed. Clarke tried not to feel too bad about that, but she had her rules to keep. Getting attached was strictly banned and she knew that if she let herself, she'd care too much about the wellbeing of this girl who'd probably get hurt again, or worse, if Clarke let her see too much of this life.
"Do either of you care to explain what you're talking about?" Bellamy said.
Clarke ignored him. "I need to go now. Goodbye."
"Wait," Octavia said and grabbed Clarke's arm. "Do you have some way I can contact you? If I need to?" she said in a rush.
"I—I guess you can have my number. But only use it for an emergency," Clarke said, stressing the word. Octavia nodded in response and Clarke quickly scribbled the digits on the back of a fuel receipt.
Octavia took the piece of paper. Bellamy still waited for some kind of explanation, but Clarke didn't want to be the one to explain it to him.
"Hey, you can't just leave," Bellamy said. He was still blocking the door, which made her edgy. She didn't want to have to tackle him, but she would, if he wouldn't let her go.
"I need to," she said simply and slipped past him, but he grabbed her arm before she could escape to her car.
"I don't think so," he said. "I want to know what the hell you're doing out here and how you found her."
"I was keeping an eye out. I noticed you sister, helped her out. Did the right thing and all," Clarke said. "It honestly doesn't matter. You've got your sister back, safe and sound."
"Well, I think it does," he said and moved closer. If he wasn't so frustrating, Clarke probably would've been flirting with him now.
"Bell, please, just let it go," Octavia said. "Clarke just let me stay with her and use her phone. That's all there is to it."
"Then why are you covered in blood?" Bellamy challenged.
"Road kill," Clarke replied.
"Your car is perfectly fine," Bellamy said, glancing at the crappy Toyota she'd bought off a guy in a junkyard three months ago. It was already on its last legs, but she didn't have the cash for a new one yet. She'd probably have to steal the money.
"I didn't say I hit it. Some guy ahead of me did. I stopped to help the poor thing and that's when I noticed Octavia," she said, trying to spin the lie as calmly as she could.
"Where was she?"
"Just in the woods," Clarke half-lied. She left out the part where the demon possessing Octavia had chased her there. And the subsequent journey to the abandoned farm house to perform the exorcism.
"Then what the hell did you give her just now?" Bellamy said and gestured to the note in Octavia's hand.
"Self-defence tips. I took a few classes a while back," It's not exactly a lie and it rolls easily off her tongue.
Bellamy purses his lips. "Okay," he said after a long moment of silence.
"See? It's all fine, Bell," Octavia said. "Let her go."
Clarke watched Bellamy carefully as he looked back and forth between his sister and her. She knew what he was thinking, assessing her threat level and deciding if it was worth the fight.
"Well, I guess we'd better get on the road," Bellamy said. "Thanks."
The last word was barely whispered.
"No problem," Clarke replied.
"Call me, sometime," Octavia said and threw her arms around Clarke in a tight hug. Momentarily surprised, Clarke was frozen and carefully placed her arms around Octavia and patted lightly. Octavia slipped her a piece of paper with her phone number scrawled on it.
"Hurry up, O," Bellamy said, annoyed, but Clarke didn't miss the underlying affection in his voice.
Octavia smiled on her way out. Bellamy gave a reluctant wave.
A job well done, she thought to herself as she watched them go.
"I don't like her," Bellamy said when they were on the road again. It was a hell of a drive ahead of them, especially considering he'd be doing it for the second time in about as many days, but all of it was worth it if it meant he could get his sister home safe.
"Clarke saved my life, Bell," Octavia said with an edge to her voice. Bellamy glanced over at her. Truthfully, his sister looked awful. There were dark circles around her eyes and she was dressed in strange clothes for a hike out in the middle of North Carolina. They looked better suited to some sort of club.
"You don't know that," he argued. "You told me you had no idea what happened to you. That Clarke knows something."
"You can trust her, Bell," Octavia replied seriously. He noticed her fiddle with an unfamiliar pendant with a star on it.
"She was lying, O," he said. That whole meeting, he'd gotten the feeling the blonde chick was holding out on him. Even if she'd had a decent story, Bellamy knew there had to be something else he wasn't being told here.
When his sister had disappeared, it had felt like the end of his world. Octavia, who he'd spent so long protecting, was gone and he didn't have a damn clue about why. The whole time, he'd tried everything to find her. In fact, until he got that call from her last night, he was contemplating trying to get himself on the news and plead for her to come home.
Now that she was back, he felt better, but it killed him to know that something bad had happened. He only had to look at her to know that. There were bruises and marks all over her body, as if she'd been in a fight and angry red rings around her wrists were he assumed she might have been tied up. Not to mention the way she'd sounded on that phone call, the way she'd cried after he'd responded and then softly asked him to pick her up.
Then there was also the matter of Clarke. How did she really find her sister? He didn't believe her story about the road kill for a second. And what the hell was her job, if it required her to trawl strange country roads and find missing girls? None of it made sense. Besides, she had all that weird shit pinned up to the walls. He hadn't gotten a good look at all of it before she'd taken it all down, but it struck him as odd. Most people don't bother with decoration, especially in a place like that.
There was something more to this, he knew it. But nobody was saying a damn thing. He resolved to think up some way of investigating Clarke when they got back.
"Bell, please, just drop it," Octavia said. He didn't miss the annoyance in her voice. "You can trust her."
'I don't see how," he shot back. How had Clarke so easily convinced his sister that she was trustworthy?
"She could've left me for dead, Bell, but she didn't. I'm here because she saved me," Octavia replied. "Besides, I'm back now and you don't need to worry anymore."
Bellamy sighed. It was true, that he did owe Clarke for saving his sister, more than he was willing to admit, but there was the fact that she was lying. He hated liars. "I always worry about you, O."
Octavia was silent for a moment. "This won't ever happen again, Bellamy," she said.
"You're damn right it won't. I'll make sure of it," he promised fiercely.
Octavia smiled at him softly. "Thanks, big brother. Now, how long is it to the next town? I'm starved."
A/N: Yes, I'm back again with another, much lighter fic this time (the last one I wrote had too much angst and I just wanted to write something a little different). I've had this idea rattling around for a while and it was going to be a oneshot, but I decided I wanted to expand on it. I've already got most of it planned out and already at least half of the next chapter done, so that'll be up within the week, hopefully.
Reviews/comments are always welcome!