Clarke had no idea how long they'd been standing there, gazing down on the planet with two suns. The one that was to become their new home. With Bellamy's strong arm around her, and his steady heartbeat beneath her ear, she'd lost all track of time as she enjoyed the feeling of profound comfort that she'd been so sure she'd given up forever.
That he held her like this...that he'd forgiven her at all... were gifts she didn't know if she deserved, but she was too weak and too needy not to accept them.
When she felt him stir, Clarke shifted her head to look up at Bellamy and found him staring down at her, his expression unreadable.
"I'm sorry," she said, the words leaving her on a quiet breath.
"About what?" His voice was a murmur, his soft smile barely there.
There were so many choices that Clarke wondered how she should respond. That I didn't trust you? That I left you to die? That because of my fear and loneliness and...and...jealousy - she winced inwardly - I temporarily lost whatever good sense I'd had?
But she knew all that couldn't be fixed with two words of apology, however much he seemed to be willing to just...let it go. So she finally settled on another choice, a more immediate one,
"About Monty. And Harper. I know how much they meant to you."
Bellamy shrugged, his smile becoming sad.
"Yeah, I'm gonna miss them both, but I know they lived the life they wanted. And besides," he quirked his brow, peering down at her, "they were your friends, too."
Clarke nodded, acknowledging her friendships with Monty and Harper. Friendships she now regretted she'd been too reserved and to distracted to reclaim in the short time they'd had together before everything went to shit again.
"Yes, but you spent all those years with them on the Ring. I know they'd become," Clarke's eyes drifted away from his face, unable to hold his gaze, "your family. All...of them were. Are," she corrected herself.
Bellamy reached up to tug gently at her chin until she was once again looking him in the eye.
His voice was gentle, too.
"Clarke, you must know that you are my family, too, you and Madi. You could never be anything less than that."
She nodded, giving him a small smile. Family. She supposed she'd have to be satisfied with that. At least she hadn't lost him altogether.
"Of course, although I think I must be something like the black sheep right about now. I still don't know why you aren't mad as hell. I know damn well Madi would never try to order you not to be angry..."
Bellamy's lips tugged up into small grin. "She has her ways, your Madi. Ways of making people see things...differently."
Clarke nodded again. She knew how persuasive her daughter could be.
"But...what did she say to you? I can't imagine..."
Bellamy's face softened and for a moment she thought he might repeat whatever magic words Madi had used to get him to forgive her for leaving him to die in Polis. But then he shrugged.
"She made me see something I hadn't understood. That's all."
She was bewildered. "But..."
Bellamy shook his head gently. "Just leave it, Clarke."
Leave it? His voice was quiet but his tone was firm. It was clear Bellamy didn't want to tell her whatever it was that Madi had said to him.
Which made it a mystery, and Clarke Griffin didn't like things she couldn't figure out. Even good things, like Bellamy's forgiveness. So she might have dug in her heels and pursued it if at that moment she hadn't heard the small snick of a door opening and a soft throat-clearing behind them.
"Do you...have any questions?"
Jordan Green had apparently just re-entered the bridge. She hadn't even heard him leave.
Clarke quickly broke away from Bellamy's embrace, a vague tingle of guilt running up her spine. Although why that should be, she wasn't sure. It wasn't like Jordan cared what she and Bellamy were doing.
"Should we wake all the others now?" Jordan asked when neither of them answered his first question.
With that synchronicity of thought that had served them so well as co-leaders, Bellamy and Clarke answered as one, both swiveling to face Jordan.
"I think we need to come with up with a plan before we wake the others," Bellamy told him. "Did, uh, your dad leave you any other specific instructions?"
But Jordan was already shaking his head. "Nope. Just to wake you two. Play you the video. That you would figure it out."
Bellamy slanted his eyes at Clarke, smiling ruefully.
"I'm flattered by Monty's vote of confidence, but I wouldn't have minded a few hints."
Clarke returned the look, knowing just how he felt.
"Maybe he figured it would all depend on what we found when we got here."
"So what have we found?"
She turned again to gaze at the planet below. "Looks like it could be a viable homeland."
Then Clarke swept her hand around the room, waving at all the blinking screens that filled each wall from top to bottom. "But I don't pretend to know what all this telemetry means. It could be flashing danger signals all over the place. This stuff is not exactly in my wheelhouse."
"Mine, either," Bellamy agreed. "So I guess that makes knowing what to do first pretty damned obvious."
He turned toward Jordan, his right brow cocked in query.
"Pretty sure Monty had the, uh, passenger manifest with everyone's location?"
Jordan nodded. "I know where that is."
"Good," Clarke said, as always knowing exactly where Bellamy had been headed "Because we need to find Raven Reyes."
Raven blinked and looked up, her face wreathed in surprise when she saw Clarke and Bellamy peering down at her. That expression was soon replaced by a confused stare when she spotted Jordan.
"Who the fuck are you?"
Jordan grinned. "Just like Dad described you," he said, clearly delighted.
"Dad?" When Raven swung herself out of the sleep chamber and shifted towards Bellamy for an explanation, Clarke tried very hard not to remember when it had been she whom Raven would look to for details.
Bellamy sighed. "There are a few surprises, Raven, and some of them are going to be hard to swallow."
By the time Bellamy had given her the abridged version, promising her a look at Monty's recording later, Raven's mouth hung open in disbelief.
"Monty and Harper are... are..." She paused, drawing a deep breath, "and this guy is their..."
Raven swung around again to scrutinize Jordan before turning back to the others. "A hundred and twenty-five fucking years! And we're in what star system?"
"Monty called it the Goldilocks system. He spent his whole life figuring out a way to get us here. And the planet looks...livable from up here. But we don't know how the fuck to understand all the readouts, which is why we knew we had to wake you up next."
Raven nodded, glancing around to get her bearings, but then she seemed to focus in on Clarke, pedaling back to Bellamy's last words.
"We? You mean...you and Clarke? Who the hell put her in charge? And why haven't you woken...the others up?"
Bellamy ignored her last question.
"Yes, me and Clarke. For now. Those were Monty's instructions, and anyway," he shrugged and reminded her gruffly, "that's how it's always been."
"That's not how it was up on the Ring," Raven shot back quickly, her expression remaining unconvinced.
Bellamy was quiet for a moment, then he sighed. When he finally spoke, he seemed to weigh every word.
"You're right, Raven, Clarke wasn't making decisions for us up on the Ring. But that's only because we all thought she'd died. Saving us. But instead she survived for six years with only a small kid for company."
Clarke was dismayed, but not surprised, that Raven didn't trust her. But even more than that, the last thing she wanted was to become a source of contention between Bellamy and Raven.
She turned hastily to leave.
"Uh, Bellamy, I'll just go and let you two work this out."
"The hell you will," Bellamy insisted quietly, grabbing onto her arm to hold her there next to him. "We're going to get this settled right now."
Raven's expression was puzzled as she studied Bellamy's face.
"She left you to die, Bellamy."
Clarke shuddered inwardly as she heard the words, but she knew it was only the bald truth.
"You weren't there, Raven," he reminded her.
"I know what... I was told," Raven insisted.
"Yeah, well maybe you didn't get the whole story. Maybe there are reasons Clarke did what she did, and maybe I choose to... understand those reasons. And since I've decided to... let it go, I was really hoping maybe you could, too."
Raven's eyes narrowed as she stared at Bellamy. "You haven't been...uh... quite so forgiving in the past," she said finally.
Bellamy shrugged. "Yeah? Well, maybe I'm the Blake who's finally learned about forgiveness. That sometimes...other things... are more important than holding onto your grievances. And besides," he added, as though it was the one thing that would surely clinch the argument, "this is Clarke."
Clarke's mouth fell open in surprise at his words, but they must have been enough to satisfy Raven. She nodded, her mouth twisting into a wry smile.
"Okay," she said, glancing between Bellamy and Clarke, "if you can both get past whatever the hell happened between the two of you in Polis, I guess I can do the same. God knows, I really wasn't looking forward to trying to hold a grudge against the person that saved our asses in the first place."
Clarke felt her shoulders sag with relief.
"I'm sorry," she said, eyeing Raven warily, and she could feel the wetness gathering in the corners of her eyes. "I know I put you all in danger."
Raven shrugged, peering in her direction. "Yeah, I'm sorry, too. I mean," her brow wrinkled as she feigned vague recall, "didn't I try to steal your kid? And you did come through in the end." Her smiled widened to a grin. "I thought we were a pretty good team, the way we took care of that asshole, McCreary."
Clarke felt her own face break into an answering grin, and then she couldn't seem to stop the tears from falling as she pulled Raven in for a hug.
"We were a good team," she agreed, her voice choking, feeling herself wrapped in Raven's embrace. "I've missed you so much."
"Me, too," came the soft reply.
When Raven finally pulled away, her eyes darted around the room before settling again on Bellamy.
"I guess I'd better start trying to decode all this shit. And if I'm gonna do that, I'm gonna need Shaw's help. So I think you better wake him up next."
Bellamy smirked. "Are you sure that's the only reason you want me to wake up the pilot?"
"Hey, you want the best team to figure this out? We're it. And don't give me that crap, Bellamy. You're the one in the big mess. And it's only gonna get messier if you don't deal with it."
Clarke looked on, bewildered, as Bellamy flushed. "Yeah," he said with a nod, his eyes flitting away from Clarke. "I know."
"Good, because I don't want it to become my problem. Now bring on the physics."
"Do you want the good news or the bad news?"
Shaw smirked. "So they were still using that line a hundred years later?"
Raven and Shaw had been working nearly non-stop for two days, trying to figure out what their next move should be. Jordan had pulled up all Monty's old files, hoping they might be of some use. Unfortunately, Monty had been able to do little more than speculate, keeping faith with the idea that his calculations were correct and that this new planet he was sending them to could save them all.
But in the end Monty Green had only been than point them in the right direction. It was now up to the genius and the pilot to figure out how to finish the journey.
"Would it do any good to ask you guys to skip the flirting and head right to the explanations?"
Clarke laughed, certain Bellamy's testy question had only been half-joking.
"I think I'm supposed to ask for the bad news," she said, smiling, "but if there really is some good news I'd rather hear that first."
Bellamy nodded his agreement. "We haven't had a lot of good news in our, uh, extended lifetimes. So I wouldn't mind a little myself."
Raven grinned. "Well, you're gonna get some now. While there are a ton of differences between the planet below us and Earth, it looks like it could definitely support human life. The air is breathable, the water drinkable. And there's obviously vegetation on the surface."
Raven stopped, heaving a sigh.
"But there's always a but," Bellamy said, his expression tense. "Just tell us."
"Well, it seems that on this planet we are the Mountain Men," Raven began.
"There's too much radiation on the surface, probably because of the two suns. So with our physiology... we'd all be sick within days and dead within weeks."
Clarke felt herself tense.
"Except for Clarke and Madi, of course," Raven continued, eyeing Clarke closely. "They could thrive on this planet just fine."
"Our nightblood," Clarke said. She'd known what was coming as soon as Raven had said the word radiation.
"Yep. It looks like the only way we can survive on this godforsaken planet that seems to meet our needs in every other way, is if everyone on this ship becomes a nightblood."
For several seconds the room was so quiet that Clarke could hear the sound of Bellamy's harsh breathing...and her own beating heart.
They turned to each other with their customary synchronicity, but it was Clarke who spoke.
"I think we'd better wake up Madi."