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The Forces

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(i. the spark that ignited a forest fire)

The whole camp is ablaze with celebration.

It feels right, he thinks as he stands on top of one of the hills not far from Camp Jaha, that after retrieving the rest of the 47 from that hellhole Mount Weather, they are to enjoy themselves with familiar people. They need it. She needs it the most.

He finds her amidst the sea of people in the middle of the camp, blonde tresses standing out like a sore thumb amongst the mix of the young delinquents and the Ark people alike, sporting a cup of what he could rightly guess as a helping of a stronger formula of moonshine. He’s too far from camp to notice if she’s enjoying or just being social, and the urge to check on her is so strong he has to turn away for a little while.

That small fact that he immediately spots her without difficulty may not be born of the notion that she stands out like a sore thumb. It may be because of something else. But that’s his puzzle to figure out. And not now. Not when there’s more than a patriarchal government and an uncharted world to figure out before anything else explodes in their faces –

“There you are.”

Fuck.

He lifts his head to meet her eyes, shoots her an upturn of his lips which he hopes passes as a weak smile, and then holds her gaze. She tilts her head and smiles in return, her expression telling him that she sees through his bullshit. Of course.

“Yeah,” he replies. “Here I am.”

She steps closer to him, two cups of moonshine in her hands, her feet crushing the dead leaves of autumn underneath her boots.

“That’s too much to drink even for you, Princess,” he quips, willing for the thick tension to dissipate. It has always been like this with her, especially when they’re alone. It’s just that sometimes, it’s easier to ignore, like when torturing a then-unknown-and-unnamed Grounder, or when talking about a mountain heist.

She snorts at that and then offers the other to him. “I couldn’t find you anywhere, thought you left.”

He can hear her fidgeting in the quiet of the dark woods, the weight of the poorly concealed fear in her sentence dragging his stomach down like lead, while he stares contemplatively at the offered drink. She looks up at him once more, and then nods, retrieving her outstretched hand and turning to leave, maybe taking his silence as rejection.

Oh, great. You hurt her feelings. This is what you get for thinking too long.

His hand shoots up to grab at her arm before he could even think about it, careful not to jostle it and spill the alcohol, and then gently guides her back to him. He offers her another smile, apologetic and teasing at the same time, and then grabs the cup from her hand.

She watches as he downs the thing in one go, and then laughs at his reaction when he barely masked his disgust.

He coughs one last time, his chest burning up with an odd sensation that’s decidedly not from the moonshine. It may be from the way she’s looking at him, smiling softly at him, running a hand up and down his back to soothe him. Damn her.

“Thanks,” he responds gruffly, his voice rough and low, and then watches curiously as her lips part and her eyes flutter ever so slightly.

“Thought you needed it,” she says, and then turns back to the festivities below with a reminiscent smile. “With all the fun you’re not having.”

He scoffs. “Oh so now it turns around,” he replies, leaning so that their faces are inches apart, only for her to see his smirk. She turns her head to snap back at him but quickly shuts her mouth when she notices the distance that’s barely between them.

He feels the start of the same reaction so he pulls back and clears his throat. “I think you’ve had more than enough moonshine for tonight,” he says teasingly.

“How can you tell?” she asks, her eyebrows shooting up her forehead in challenge.

“Because you’re smiling and laughing and dancing – I personally prefer you with a line or two on your forehead,” he adds just to irk her more. Said lines appear as she frowns at him. “Normally, those only happen when you’re heavily inebriated.”

She crosses her arms in front of her chest like a child (he finds it irritatingly adorable) and pouts. Okay if she’s not drunk, she’s definitely not going to do that. Not in front of him, most especially. “You underestimate me, Blake.”

No, he doesn’t. Not anymore, anyway. He’s learned his lesson when she found him with a barely breathing Atom and showed him for the first time how it is to be human on Earth. And then maybe only applied it that night the moment she returned to camp with Finn’s blood on her hands and tears on her cheeks. So no, he’s come to learn a long time ago never to even estimate Clarke Griffin.

“What?” she asks, and then he realizes that he’s been staring at her while being lost in his thoughts. “What were you thinking about?”

His eyes widen subtly at that – of course, she’ll see through it. Of course, he’ll find it twice as hard to lie to her. Of fucking course.

So he’ll tell her the truth. “You.” Or the truth, but only part of it.

She stares at him, he stared back, the back of his neck burning up with self-consciousness and guilt and embarrassment and something more, but he refuses to give up because giving up means he’s hiding something – and he wants to prove that there’s still something in him that she doesn’t own. (He’s failing miserably.)

And then – she sways precariously violently that he has to catch her by her shoulders and she has to anchor her hands on his chest to avoid impact.

“Are you alright?” he asks, worry marring his forehead.

“I was getting dizzy with all the staring,” she admits with a small scoff and he smiles a little at that. She steps toward him a little so that she’s only leaning on him lightly, but she does not stop touching him. His smile drops and he so desperately wants to tell her to put distance between them, to stop with whatever it is that she’s doing because he cannot do it himself, because her breath on his lips, and the warmth of her palms through the thin fabric of his shirt – it’s driving him crazy.

“You say you were thinking about me?” she asks, and if he knew any better, he’d register how breathless her words are to his ears. But he’s too occupied with trying to rein his traitorous feelings in, with trying to detach his fingers from her shoulders – but only succeeded in sliding it down to her waist where her shirt has ridden up a bit.

God fucking dammit.

“I – was,” he stutters, he fucking stutters like a flustered, inexperienced teenager – and he is none of those (except maybe being flustered – but that’s the extent of it).

She smiles so minutely, but he sees it nonetheless, what with the proximity – but the more curious thing is that he feels it in his chest that she might just as well press her lips on it and it would still feel the same. “I was thinking about you, too,” she confesses, and if he didn’t know what the phrase ‘skipping a heartbeat’ meant, he sure does now. “And you know what else?”

He thinks he has a slight idea because she’s drunk and festive, and possibly adrenaline-addled, so he knows. But one thing that he also surely knows is that Clarke Griffin is a rational human being (but less so when she’s trying to grate on his nerves even nowadays) that he likes to think some of that rationality would seep through even when she’s drunk.

He thought wrong.

Her hands travel from his chest to the back of his neck, leaving a burning path underneath his skin. He’s forced to exhale a breath to collect whatever clear thought he has left in his head – she certainly is not helping.

“Clarke, you’re drunk –

“I might be,” she interjects, giving the hair at his nape a gentle tug, lifting his chin in the process, and it takes everything in him not to throw caution to the wind and just kiss the hell out of her. “That might be the reason why I want to know how you kiss. So much.”

He blinks – and then blinks again, finally meeting her eyes in the darkness. There’s something else there beneath the thin film of glaze, and subtle mirth. Something he’s afraid to know about, but also really curious to discover.

He opens his mouth to tell her that she’s out of her mind and incredibly inebriated and she shouldn’t do anything that she’ll regret in the morning but she already has her thumb tracing the outline of his jaw, her fingers splayed on his neck, holding him in place and effectively shutting him up.

There’s a voice in his head, a traitorous hum telling him that a taste would not be so bad. She wouldn’t even remember it in the morning – besides, she doesn’t even see you that way –

Clarke hums and pulls him closer, “You think too loud.”

He scoffs at that. He finds it funny because he’s said that to her countless of times before and she will always zip her forehead as if to quiet her thoughts, and maybe he should return the gesture just to see if she’ll –

Her lips press against his closed mouth a little forcefully, and he finds a sane part of him to spare amusement with the way she accurately did it. And then he loses hold of it the moment everything registers. Clarke is kissing him.

There’s a low groan, and it takes him a moment to recognize it as his own. His mouth is still closed and Clarke’s is just pressing against him. They just stand there frozen until she’s detaching her lips from his and craning her neck to whisper into his ear.

“Bellamy, please.”

Something in him snaps at her plea, maybe it’s his shadowed demon, but his hands are reaching for her waist and pulling her closer until she’s pressed against him. His mouth opens to her tongue, a sigh that sounds like relief escaping her lips sending a shiver down his spine. His doubts are now a coarse whisper at the back of his mind as she backs him up against the trunk of a tree.

Her hands grip at the hem of his shirt, and then her fingers are tracing the lines of his stomach, his muscles twitching at her ministrations.

And it’s in that moment that his brain reminds him of where they are, who she is, who he is, and why she’s doing this. The truth is that he needs her to stop, but he doesn’t want her gone. So he slows her frantic kiss, his palms seizing her cheeks and slowly (painfully) pulling away.

He can still feel her hands on the skin of his back (when had she put them there?) and her breath on his neck. He peels his eyes open, breathing out at the same time because at least now, she’s not insisting anymore.

Bellamy was about to chastise her for her recklessness or something (he so desperately wants to replace the chirps of the crickets with anything – anything), but she’s already sliding her arms around his neck and pulling him closer so that her face is resting at the crook of his neck.

And then she’s mumbling against his skin, her words warm and slurred and sounds so much like ‘I’m sorry’.

He doesn’t know how long they stood there, but he finds himself immensely amused when her breathing evens out and slows down. It takes him another second to realize what’s happening.

“Hey, princess, are you sleeping on me?” he asks, laughter in his voice. It is then that he finds she really is asleep. On how she does it standing up is way beyond him, but he bends down and catches her in his arms.

 

 

If he carries her to her tent and everybody stares, well she wouldn’t know, and he wouldn’t tell.


Coda:

She wakes up and finds him seated near the opening of her tent, smiling softly at her. It’s amazingly hilarious how her eyes change a little and lets him know that everything is coming crashing back to her. But he lets her ask the question:

“What happened?”

To which he answers with, “You fell asleep standing up, and then I took you to your tent.”

The way she flushes at the part he omitted is enough ammo for a week of teasing. “You were so drunk I couldn’t remember everything,” he adds.

He thinks he will have a concussion from the rock-hard pillow she throws at him, but the small smile that broke through her annoyed face is precious.

Chapter Text

(ii)

Octavia’s announcement entailed a hearty celebration from the remaining 47, the news of a new life adding to their bunch is like a breath of fresh air. Everything is bright and lovely as nightfall came and draped over the small party, and people are smiling and laughing for the first time in what felt like forever. There is dancing and booze and the general merrymaking and quite frankly, Clarke can feel the beginning of festivity buzzing under her skin. With a tight reminder to Octavia that pregnant women should not get inebriated, she ventures into the feast.

Jasper hands her the next cup of moonshine and she downs it all in under three seconds (all the while quite aware of the ramifications of the last time she got so drunk, keeping that thought intact in her mind). She smiles gratefully at him and is about to ask him about Bellamy (keeping that thought in her head led her to accidentally wondering about his whereabouts – so sue her, it’s bound to happen) when he is whisked away by Monty and Miller and Monroe into the open space where the rest of the kids are dancing.

Clarke sighs.

She refuses to take another drink from another delinquent, silently praying for the least number of casualties after this party. She stalks to the edge of the camp, the space near Raven’s gate, considers herself lucky to find a lone hunched figure sitting on one of the stumps and looking out into the darkness of the woods. His back is turned to her but she can feel (as always, it seems) that he’s not feeling as festive as the rest of the kids.

She approaches him, makes deliberate crunching noises with the dead leaves under her soles to alert him of her presence. (She thinks, either way, he’ll sense her at his back – he always does.)

She seats herself on an abnormally smooth stone beside him in silence until he spoke.

“I’m going to be an uncle,” he says quietly. The slur to his words and the watery drop of his voice are not lost on Clarke, but she chooses to let it go, let him have this because it’s true. And it’s also true that she, and the whole camp, does not know how it’s like to have a sister or a sibling for that matter, so she can only imagine how conflicting his feelings might be about this whole situation.

“I knew this day would come,” he continues, and he’s speaking so softly that she thinks he’s not really aware of the words coming out of his mouth. “I just didn’t think it would come this early. I mean… Octavia’s grown up so much – I thought when we came down here that all chances at a normal life was shot down – I think I should be happy but it’s… there’s – ”

He inhales deeply, sniffs, and hacks a cough, turning his head towards her and looking at her for the first time. He shakes his head and smiles sadly at her. “I’m sorry,” he says, the deep set of his eyes betraying his sadness.

Come to think of it, it has always been like this between them. Open stares that take away the need for words.

She gives him a solemn smile, feeling like there’s something more important now than celebrating because there’s a boy behind a man, afraid of being left alone for the umpteenth time – he doesn’t say as much, but he doesn’t need to, does not even need to whisper it in the wind for her to know what’s behind the wall he hides into.

She feels an odd feeling of satisfaction knowing that she can read him the way he reads her. Only, the feeling is dampened as she returns to the broken look in his eyes.

“For a very long time, no one really talked about how much of a dead end Octavia’s life would be,” he confesses, returning into looking back into the darkness. “My mother would gloss over the topic, but we both know that she’s going to be stuck in our little apartment for the rest of her life… all I have ever wanted for my sister is an unhindered life, but we couldn’t have that… unless…”

He stops there, and she watches as he swallows the hard lump in his throat.

“I know,” she answers quietly, her hand (seemingly of its own mind) lands on his shoulder in the lightest of touches.

“—and now,” he continues, a pained laughter escaping his lips, the hand that’s not holding a cup of liquor threading through his unruly mop of hair in exasperation. “Now, she has it here on the ground and she has a Grounder boyfriend – a freaking baby on the way – and she’s leaving camp.” She’s leaving me.

There they are, the words he will never verbalize vanishing into thin air as quickly as they had appeared. His brows furrow and he looks to the other side, hiding his face from view, and she knows he’s trying to stop his tears.

And something about this fearless leader breaking down in front of her shifts something in her chest, and she finds herself cupping his cheeks and turning his head so that he’s looking straight into her determined stare.

She is met with startled brown eyes, glazed with tipsiness but alert and bright with unshed tears he so valiantly fought off until the last minute. Until they spill on her fingers, until her thumbs are catching them before they fall to the ground.

“She loves you so much to leave you, you know that,” she tells him, and he nods, but he doesn’t look convinced. She figures, his soft acquiescence is to just satisfy her, but she’s having none of it. “No, Bellamy, listen. She’s not leaving you. She might be going away for a short time, but she’ll come back. For you.”

“—I’m so selfish, Clarke,” he whispers hoarsely, and then sniffs, lets tears trickle down from his eyes. She also figures this is Bellamy unguarded, uncaring about what he looks like in front of her because he is not hiding the look of broken desperation and fear in his eyes from her. She thinks of another night, what felt like so long ago, of pain in her abdomen and in her chest, of haze and her father – Bellamy, rifles, and a dead Dax. A touch on her knee, as if he’s reassuring himself that she’s okay.

This is her touching him to reassure him that he is okay. That everything’s going to be okay.

“No, you’re not,” she replies, hard determination her tone.

He closes his eyes and breathes in, his shoulders sagging in surrender, his hand letting go of the cup he’s holding, and Clarke watches as it sloshes down on the grassy ground. And then suddenly, her hands are being ripped away from his face, and his warm palms are covering her cheeks, bringing her face closer to his.

The next thing she knows, there’s a warm, shaky breath on her lips, and a forehead against hers. They are not touching – not in that way, yet. But she wants to. The realization should surprise her, but it does not. She did kiss him that one drunken night, and it was the first. And it should have been enough, should have been the end of this weird desire, but it’s not, and she should have been smarter than that.

“Tell me to stop,” he breathes against her skin, and his control would be amusing if it were not for their current position.  “And I’ll stop.”

She doesn’t. In fact, she doesn’t say anything at all, just that her eyes drop to his lips, and then there’s no space between them at all anymore. And then her eyes are slipping shut as their lips meet.

This kiss is unlike the first one, it is slow and hesitant, where the first was all heat and haze and hardness. This one is soft and giving and warm. She feels his fingers comb through the hair at the back of her neck, a soft sigh escaping his mouth at the same time. As if kissing her is a relief, and she couldn’t shake the feeling that it was the same thing that had propelled her to look for him that night not so long ago.

He kisses her like he’s asking for forgiveness, and she’s the only one who can give it to him.

“It’s okay,” she whispers against his mouth, her own lips tingling and swollen. “It’s okay, Bell, it’s okay.” I love you.

She surprises herself with the quiet whisper of that thought at the back of her mind, makes her breath hitch in shock as she realizes that she almost said it out loud. But then he’s moving again, the movement so small that it takes a lot of her focus to catch it.

He nods, his eyes never leaving her lips as he licks his own, hunger in his gaze only masking the desperate brokenness a little bit.

“Where’s Bellamy? Have you seen Bellamy?”

He closes his eyes in defeat as he rests his forehead against hers, sighing when he recognizes the voice to be Octavia’s. He pulls away from her and clears his throat, his gaze finding hers in the darkness with a silent gratefulness.

There are crunches on the leaves near them and Bellamy hastily wipes at the tears on his face. When Octavia finds them, it’s as if nothing has happened, with the way he is beaming at her and embracing her, a rough ‘congratulations’ on his lips.

“Thank you for keeping him out of trouble,” Octavia tells her, playfulness in her eyes as she shifts her gaze from Clarke to Bellamy, who gave his most convincing scowl. “You know how much of a drama queen this big oaf is.”

“Hey!” he protests, smacking the back of his sister’s head with as much gentleness as mischief.

There’s only one thought in Clarke’s head though, aside from the minute revelation she’s had not a minute ago:

It’s that Bellamy is a great actor.


 

Coda:

Clarke can learn how to be an actor as well. She showcases it the following day and tells Bellamy that what happened last night was nothing. Just like the first one.

Chapter Text

(iii. the leaf that fell for autumn)

This is wrong.

This is wrong.

Bellamy, please.

He should be seeing Octavia, and his mother, a gun in his hand, and a disgusting aftertaste at the back of his throat – his bitter past life – not glittering sunlight through golden hair, not clear blue eyes, not her. This is death – this is punishment. If he’s seeing Clarke, then this is not death.

Please – keep trying, please.

What is it?


 

It was stupid, really, the events leading to how he got a spike embedded deep into the side of his abdomen.  If it happened to someone else, he would have given them his signature glare before helping – but as it turns out, he could not glare. Not when the pain and the desire to keep walking are stealing his energy. Also, he was pretty sure he would cough his lungs out if he did give into even moving extensively, which he finds absurdly funny –

“Why are you snickering?”

He vaguely recognizes the voice to be Miller’s by his shoulder – actually, it’s Miller holding him up and carrying his weight because his left side feels like it has given up on him, his left leg feels too useless and weak, his left arm dangles on Miller’s shoulders, and he cannot move any of his fingers.

“You know what,” his right hand man is saying, grunting with every other step. “I don’t care, okay? We’re gonna get your idiotic ass back to camp and then you’re gonna get an earful from Octavia and… and Clarke. Just don’t – just don’t die on me now, Bellamy.”

He breathes in, makes a genuine effort to shoot him a quip about him being dramatic, or if these were going to be his final words, maybe something emotional or inspirational at least – or maybe a last request, but he’s already falling forward.

His last thoughts were of an elevated mound of dirt, unnamed, and unmarked.


 

The first thing he notices is the heat. Or… it’s not heat – it’s a gentle warmth on his forehead, splotches on his cheeks, and a steady one on his chin. There’s also a steady, insistent patch of warmth on his left eyelid. He would want to open his eyes, try to discover what’s causing all these peculiar warmth on various parts of his face –

“…anytime now,” a voice says. It’s gentle, just like the weird warmth, distracted, and soft in his ears. He wants to open his eyes, he truly wants to, but he feels so tired, he feels so drained that he has no thought but to go back to sleep.

“I told Miller…” she pauses, her voice getting more distant, before fading away. And then it fades in again, “but then again, you wouldn’t wake up today. I told him the day’s not done yet.”

She laughs, so small, so melodious – why can’t he open his eyes? “So much for optimism, huh?”

There’s a small clatter, and then footsteps, small and sure as if she’s done this a million times now.

“If you wake up today ,” the voice is so much closer now, but more tender, softer, more affectionate, and he doesn’t know how this came to be, nor why he deserved so much of this affection. “I promise, I would never… I would never tattle at your ear again. Maybe just send you a list of my complaints. But that would be like, a waste of paper, but if you wake up today – right now, please.”

He feels a hand on his forehead, fingers combing through his hair with so much of a care he didn’t know was ever reserved for him. And he wanted so bad to open his eyes and wake up for her, to soothe the pain in her words. But, like literal chains, he is tied to the cold and scratchy bed by cold hands around his arms and legs.

There is silence where he knows his attempts would be futile, and where there is nothing but their breathing and the chirping of small birds in the distance. Where he feels like he’s been given a chance to open his eyes but he couldn’t take it, where he hates whoever is up there for dangling this opportunity in front of him but never letting him have it.

He wants to scream.

“Remember when I kissed you?” she asks, and oh he does. “And when you kissed me?”

Another beat –

Then he feels something touch the corner of his mouth, too close to be innocent, too far to be intimate. It is then that he realizes it is her lips that touched his, it is her breath against his cheek, her palm on the side of his face, her fingers curling into his hair.

She lingers, her tears falling on his skin, and he thinks for one vague moment that if there ever was a chance to know how a comet feels like, this would be it. Not heat, not warmth, but a simple, calm drop.

And then he is angry. At her for doing this, for telling him these things when he cannot respond, for running away when he was awake, for being brave when he is down. He is so angry because he wants to tell her that he loves her, for a long time now, but he can’t.

But most of all, he’s angry because he hates feeling this helpless when he knows that if he is awake right now, he would have found a way to tell her how he feels even if he has to die the second the words leave his lips.

But he can’t.

And now she’s pulling away and he can’t reach for her.


 

Coda:

He wakes up after a day, and when he opens his eyes, the first person he sees is Jackson, and then Miller. After being asked a thousand questions, he finally coaxed Miller into fetching his sister. But before he can step a foot out of the door, he is calling for him again.

“…and Clarke. Please.”

His second-in-command gives him a sad knowing smile, and then ducks out of the room before he can even figure out what it means.

Clarke, upon entering after Octavia, blinks at him, twice. He sees her jaw drop, past his sister’s shoulder as she hugged him rather tightly.

But other than a weak nod and a weak smile and a weak voice, she says nothing else.

He is angry again, but there are other times to feel it. This time, he hugs Octavia back as ferociously.