Canon divergent. With a brutal winter ahead, Bellamy realizes there might be more than friendship growing between him and Clarke. Written for April Camp NaNoWriMo: breathe.
1539 words | [PG]
Bellamy gets back to camp late. It’s hard to tell the exact time with it getting dark so early, but he figures it must be after nine. The sun went down long ago, and it’s abysmally cold. He blows into his hands, trying to warm his numb fingers. Two fires are burning, but the space around them is empty of their usual laughing kids.
Sterling and two of the other guys he’s with make a beeline for the fire, practically holding their hands in the flames. The other three high-tail it into the dropship. Raven and Monty are still working to get the heat going, but eighty-something bodies crammed into a tin can keeps them warm enough for now. It’s better than being outside anyway.
It’d taken all day, but they’d finally buried the three they lost last night–Edith, Jerome, and Bennett. Edith was only fourteen and down here for talking back to a teacher. He shakes his head. He still can’t believe what they did to these kids. Sure, some of them were hardened criminals. There were killers and rapists among them, but most of the kids were arrested for petty stuff—shoplifting, fist fights, hoarding. It’s almost as if they knew they needed the bodies to fill the dropship so they arrested the kids for anything. Bastards.
His body aches, but he still goes down the line, checking the tents to make sure everyone has moved inside. As he nears the dropship, he hears something in the darkness. His hand drops instinctively to the hatchet at his waist. He approaches slowly. Someone gasps then goes quiet. Crying. He finds Clarke leaning against the dropship, wiping away the tears with her fingertips as if trying to erase the evidence. He’s not sure what he thinks about that.
Bellamy looks around, wishing one of her friends would suddenly appear. Monty or Raven or Octavia. Someone that isn’t him. They’ve been getting along okay the last few weeks, but that doesn’t mean he wants to listen to her blubber about whatever girl thing is bothering her. Of course, there’s no one in sight. He wants to leave her, but an instinctive force compels him forward.
He’ll probably regret this. “You okay, princess?” His voice sounds rougher than expected. Must be the cold.
“I’m fine,” she mumbles, not looking at him.
Of course she is. He steps closer. “Then come inside; it’s cold out here.”
Clarke laughs flatly, her breath hanging in the air for a few seconds. “It’s cold in there, too. It’s cold everywhere.” She sniffles, covering her face with her hands.
Bellamy taps his finger against the hatchet. Definitely going to regret this. Joining her against the dropship, it’s obvious why Clarke picked this spot. He can’t even see camp from here. Their world is suddenly nothing more than trees and brush. And darkness. It’s comforting and intimidating. Vast yet intimate. He listens to Clarke cry softly. He thinks he understands. He’s just as frustrated. Just as scared. He worries about everyone constantly.
It used to be just Octavia. He came down to protect her—his sister, his responsibility—but instead, he gained ninety-eight other brothers and sisters. They’re down to eighty-two at last count, and every death weighs on his mind. Every grave dug takes a bit of his soul. The deaths seem nearly daily now which is why he ordered everyone inside tonight. Too little, too late. They’ll be lucky to make it through winter. They’ll be lucky to make it through the month. If the cold doesn’t kill them, they’ll starve to death soon enough. He leans his head back with a sigh. He doesn’t know what else he can do.
“I can’t save them,” Clarke whispers, mirroring his thoughts.
Bellamy looks over at her. Her arms are wrapped tight around her as she stares into the darkness. He doesn’t know what to tell to her because the weight of those eighty-two lives crushes him, too. “We’ll figure it out,” he finally murmurs. Because what else can he say?
“We’re going to die.” She sniffles again.
He hates seeing her cry almost as much as Octavia. He reaches for her without thinking but stops, hand hovering uncertainly over her shoulder. She looks up at him with desperate, watery eyes. Something cracks in his chest, letting a warmth rush in. He slips his arm around her shoulders and pulls her close.
He’s surprised when Clarke wraps her arms around his waist and settles her head on his shoulder. “We’re going to figure this out,” he whispers.
He has no answer. “I don’t know, but the two of us together can do this.”
“But they keep dying. And I can’t save them.” She sucks in a breath and lets it out in a sob. Bellamy tucks her head under his chin, rubbing little circles on her back like he used to do for Octavia
“You’re not a doctor, Clarke. You’re doing the best you can. I should have made everyone move into the dropship days ago.” He swallows hard. “You warned me, and I didn’t listen. So if anything, it’s my fault.” He keeps making one mistake after another. He just buried three of them.
“It’s not going to be enough. There’s still no heat. Food and water are low which is making everyone edgy. The bullies are preying on the other kids-”
“I’ll take care of it.”
“And even then our chances are slim. All it will take is someone coming down with a virus. Everyone packed in close quarters is a recipe for disaster. Everyone will get sick and they’ll die.” The words tumble out.
He cups her face in his hands. “Clarke, breathe.”
She grabs his wrists, gasping for air as she fights to regain control. Bellamy finds it more than a little unsettling to see her like this. He’s come to rely on Clarke to be strong. He looks to her for guidance. If he sees that almost imperceptible nod of approval or the little twitch of her lips when she’s trying not to smile, he knows he’s on the right track. He needs Clarke. The thought blindsides him, but the moment he thinks it, he knows it’s true. A sudden lump in his throat threatens to choke him.
He squeezes his eyes shut and presses his forehead against hers. “We’re going to get through this,” he tells her firmly, trying to convince himself as much as her. “You and me.” He’s not really sure what he means. His words are filled with more meaning than he’d intended.
“Do you really believe that?” she asks.
“I do. We can do anything together.”
When he opens his eyes, her penetrating gaze meets his, sending his heart racing. Damn, when did this happen? When did Clarke start having this effect on him? He’s not sure he likes it, but he can’t look away. She slowly licks her lips—his eyes tracking her tongue. Why is he thinking about kissing her now? This is not the time. No, there is never a time because it’s never going to happen.
Then why does she seem closer than she was a second ago? Did she just look at his mouth? He’s suddenly not very cold anymore. In fact, he feels sweat trickle down the back of his neck. Crap. He doesn’t want this. His life is complicated enough without falling for Clarke. They can barely stand to be around each other half the time.
Before he can do anything stupid like kiss her, he tugs her into another hug. Her arms wrap around his neck this time. He wishes he knew what she was thinking because his thoughts are bouncing all over the place. They keep landing back on how good it feels with her in his arms. How he never wants to let her go. How much he wants to kiss her. He shivers at the thought.
Clarke steps back with a sigh—almost reluctantly. She wipes her eyes and laughs. “I’m a mess.”
Bellamy bites back a smile. “We’re all a mess, Clarke,” he says, wiping his grimy hands on his even grimier shirt.
“I meant on the inside.”
“I know.” Her eyeroll settles his nerves. They’re going to be okay. They have to be because he’s not sure he can do this without her. He doesn’t tell her that, though. He bottles up all of the emotions—all the urges— raging through him then clears his throat. “We should get inside before we freeze to death.”
Clarke grabs his wrist. “Promise me, Bellamy,” she says, voice cracking. “Promise we’re going to make it.”
The lump is back, making it hard to breathe. Her hand slides down until their fingers tangle together. He can’t make that promise, and she knows it. But he nods anyway. “I promise.”
She gives him a weak smile then squeezes his hand once before letting it go. She squares her shoulders then marches out of the shadows and into the light of the fires glowing in front of the dropship. Bellamy follows her because he has no other choice. They’re in this together, and they will make it. Together.