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Chapter Four – Don’t Get Attached
Bellamy wakes again with a jolt. He notices right away his arms are empty, his jacket in a heap next to him. There’s a lot of banging downstairs followed by a string of curses from Miller. Bellamy is on his feet in seconds. What now?
Halfway down the ladder, he pauses to laugh at the scene. Miller is standing in the middle of the room, hands on his hips, glaring at the little girl. She’s on one of the lopsided crates, growling and snapping at him—her hair and eyes wild.
Miller turns his glare on Bellamy. “Shut up and do something with her. She’s evil. I caught her going through my pack, and when I tried to stop her, she bit me.” He holds up his hand as proof.
Still chuckling, Bellamy hops the rest of the way down. “She’s probably just hungry. She was looking for food.”
“She could have asked,” Miller mutters, returning his supplies to his pack with more force than necessary. “Not that I’d share if I had any. Crazy demon child.”
“Hey kid,” Bellamy says, ignoring Miller’s grumbling. He approaches the agitated girl cautiously, arms out in a placating manner. Her eyes leave Miller to watch him cross the room. “It’s okay—no one’s going to hurt you. But you can’t go around biting people. It’s not nice to bite.”
Miller snorts. The girl stomps her foot at him in what she probably thinks is a menacing way, but even Miller has to smile. She’s too damn cute. “You’re right,” he says, “she is just like Octavia. Annoying, pig-headed, crazy.” He ticks off each example. “Scary,” he adds when the girl growls.
Bellamy tries not to laugh. “She’s just a kid.”
Miller holds up his hand where Bellamy can now see teeth imprints. The corners of his lips are still twitching though. “I’m going to go check outside. Good luck with-” He waves his hand at the girl. “-that.”
The ramp opens with a deafening screech of metal on metal. The girl screams and launches herself at Bellamy, barely giving him time to catch her. She wraps him in a death grip, shaking and sobbing into his shoulder. “Hey,” Bellamy says, trying to pull her hair back so he can see her face. “It’s okay. You’re safe here. I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”
He rubs her back as he rocks from one foot to the other, trying to calm her. Eventually, her sobs turn to sniffles. “See, all better,” he whispers. She sniffs and wipes her nose on his shirt. Bellamy groans.
Her grip on him loosens so he sets her back on the crate. He slips her hair behind her ears. She examines him with an intense gaze that he’s sure penetrates right into his soul. Her head tilts like she’s trying to figure something out. The movement is so familiar now it makes Bellamy grin.
But then she reaches out suddenly and touches his lips, startling him. He doesn’t dare move. Her other hand slides down his cheek. She watches him with this sad, haunted look in her eyes that breaks his heart.
“Come here.” He wraps her in a tight embrace. “You’re going to be okay now. I won’t let anything happen to you.” You can’t promise her that, says the voice in the back of his head. Not in this world. You can’t even protect your own sister. He swallows hard.
But I can try.
She doesn’t cry this time—she just rests her head on his shoulder, thumb in her mouth. Her other hand drifts up his neck until her fingers twist into the curls there. She sighs softly. Don’t get attached, don’t get attached, don’t get attached.
“Storms over,” Miller says, jogging up the ramp. His voice sounds way too loud in the small space. “You should see this, though.”
Bellamy sighs and follows Miller outside, the girl tightening her hold as they leave the safety of the dropship.
“Look,” says Miller, pointing at the ship. “There and there.”
“What am I looking at?”
“The holes. I think the rain ate through the dropship. At least the outer hull.”
“Shit.” Bellamy moves closer and runs his finger over an almost perfectly round hole. He quickly pulls it back, the tip blistering. “Still some acid on it.”
Miller shakes his head. “That can’t be good, right? Is the Ark going to make it? What if the rain just eats through that, too?”
He’s starting to sound a little panicky. Bellamy’s barely keeping his own anxiety in check. “We’ll be fine. Raven and Monty know what they’re talking about. The dropship wasn’t made to withstand prolonged elements or radiation. It was just supposed to get from point A to point B.”
“From the Ark to the ground. Through the blazing fire of reentry,” Miller says flatly.
Okay, he has a point. Bellamy looks back at the dropship. “It was pretty banged up in the landing. And we kind of roasted it. It’s been through a lot. The Ark is in better shape.”
Miller scoffs. “Who are you trying to convince? Me or you?” Can it be both?
Bellamy shoots him a glare just as the girl shivers violently. It’s early morning—the sun barely up—and the wind is blowing down from the mountains. It’s a little on the chilly side of spring. He returns to the dropship, Miller following.
“Can you watch her for a second?” he says, setting the girl in one of the broken seats.
Bellamy climbs the ladder two rungs at a time and quickly rolls up his blanket before grabbing the water bottle and jacket. He’s gone maybe three minutes, but when he gets back down, the seat is empty.
“Where’d she go?”
Miller looks up from repacking his bag. “Uh-”
Bellamy rolls his eyes. “You lost her already?”
“I didn’t lose her—she’s probably just hiding.”
Probably. She is good at that. Bellamy searches all of the nooks and crannies on the main level. Nothing. Where is she? He glances at the open ramp, his heart rate speeding up. Quickly, he swings his pack over his shoulder and heads outside. “Kid,” he calls. “You out here?” Only silence. Not even a bird or cricket.
He jerks his head at Miller who sighs and starts looking along the left side of camp. Bellamy takes the right. They meet at the gate a few minutes later. Miller shrugs. Bellamy’s chest tightens, making it hard to breathe. “Where did she go?”
“I don’t know,” Miller mumbles. At least he looks abashed. Bellamy still wants to punch him in the gut.
“You were supposed to be watching her. I was gone for less than five minutes and you lost her.”
“I’m sorry, okay? She couldn’t have gone far—her legs are short.”
Bellamy knows he’s joking, but he’s not in the mood. He shakes his head as they exit camp. The forest is a big place. How are we going to find her? It was dumb luck last time. Miller has one thing right, though—her legs are little. He figures she couldn’t have gotten more than a hundred yards away.
Miller smacks his arm. “I have a hunch. This way.”
Bellamy thinks about arguing, but what’s the point? They have to start somewhere. He follows Miller, but the farther they get from camp, the more nervous he gets. “Miller-”
“There,” Miller says, triumphantly.
He looks to where Miller’s pointing at a tiny footprint in the fresh mud. They follow the prints until the trees open to a patch of sunshine. The little girl is sitting in the middle of the clearing—her hands skimming over the top of the grass as she hums.
Miller lets out a whistle. Suddenly, hundreds of butterflies break from the trees. Their iridescent wings sparkle in the sun. It has a magical effect. The girl giggles. Miller shrugs at Bellamy’s confused look. “Octavia had a thing for butterflies. She came here a lot.”
Relief floods Bellamy. He finally feels like he can breathe again. He squats down in front of the girl who holds up a puffy dandelion with a smile. Bellamy chuckles then blows on the flower until the individual little seeds flutter away on the breeze. “You can’t go wandering off like that,” he tells her softly. “You could get hurt.”
She has no idea what he’s saying, but sometimes it almost seems like she understands. She stands then walks right into his arms, hugging him around the neck. Bellamy bundles her in his jacket with a sigh.
Miller waits at the edge of the clearing, pretending not to be amused by the entire situation. “Octavia might get a little pissed that you’re replacing her.”
Bellamy snorts. Doubtful. “Let’s just go before anything else can go wrong.” In the distance, he can already see dark clouds gathering, mirroring his thoughts. As if we could get that lucky.
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