Bellamy wasn't sure how long he waited for the ambulance to arrive. He spent the minutes or hours or seconds or days counting her breaths, his hand pressed tightly to her still-bleeding wound. When he finally heard the sound of sirens, he remained frozen by her side. There were voices, shouts, officers and medics, he assumed. Bellamy didn't tear his eyes away from Clarke, he simply yelled, "We're down here!"
His eyes were dry and his mouth was set in a firm line, but everything inside of him felt like it was falling apart. It wasn't until a hand fell on his shoulder and his name came out of someone's mouth that he unfroze. "Bellamy," Miller said. And slowly, Bellamy turned towards his friend who was wearing a mixture of surprise, betrayal, and compassion on his face.
Miller should have figured it out by now. That Bellamy lied. It might be all over now. But he couldn't find it within himself to care. The small, dark room was flooded with people. No, not with people. With cops. And for the first time, Bellamy realized he was going to have to get his story straight. Luckily, there were also paramedics and despite his reluctance to leave Clarke's side, he was more than happy for them to take over. If it had been him instead of her, Clarke would have been able to save him. But he knew nothing about medicine. He knew nothing at all.
"That's Cage Wallace," Miller said, eyes flickering towards Bellamy. Bellamy avoided his friend's gaze, watching as paramedics surrounded Clarke, who looked pale and lifeless already. He heard words like "crashing," "pulse," "losing," phrases like, "too much blood," "critical condition." Eventually, they all became white noise in his ears, only communicating one message: that he had failed. He was hired to protect her and Madi. If he could return the money, he would.
But would there be anyone left to return it to?
Miller was speaking in a low voice, but Bellamy couldn't hear it. The paramedics lifted Clarke onto a stretcher and Bellamy followed as they carried her up the stairs, between shelves stacked to the ceiling with jarred fish, and finally out the door into the open air. It was a relief to breathe fresh air, to be away from the overwhelming smell of fish oil, but Bellamy knew the odor would stick to his clothes like a reminder of this horrible night.
Maybe he would burn them. He went to follow her into the ambulance, feeling like he was sleepwalking, but a hand grabbed his arm, stopping him. "I should go with her," he said, not looking at who stopped him.
But Miller waited until he'd caught his friend's eye and said, with blue and red lights circling behind him in the darkness, "No, Bellamy. You have to come with me."
On the way to the station, Bellamy spent the ride with his head in his hands. His eyes were aching and he longed for sleep, even though it wasn't yet eight o'clock. How was it that only twelve hours ago, he was in Clarke's bed, blissfully unaware of every awful thing he knew now? His clothes had been stained with blood then, true, but only his blood.
Miller was kind enough not to say anything and wordlessly, he led Bellamy to an interrogation room. He knew that Miller knew far too much, that it was probably already pointless now, that there was little he could say to absolve himself of guilt, but the first words out of Miller's mouth were, "So, how did you end up in a cellar with two dead bodies, detective?" Miller almost always used his first name.
"Huh?" Bellamy said, stupidly.
"Start at the beginning. And then you can go home to your sister."
The look in Miller's eyes made it clear that he wasn't happy with the situation, and especially unhappy that Bellamy had lied to him. But it communicated something deeper, something Bellamy couldn't begin to express his gratitude for. Their phone calls would be forgotten. After all, Miller would never have been assigned to interrogate Bellamy if his superiors knew about those calls.
So much for the strictly legal cop-PI relationship. Bellamy told the truth about the case: why he'd been hired, who he needed to protect, every lead he'd picked up on. But then, when he arrived at this morning, he left out the bit where Clarke fired him. And a story started forming without any preparation on Bellamy's part. "I told her to meet me at the warehouse, I'd got a lead in the bar last night. She said she could get there sooner than I could. I didn't think it was a good idea, but she went anyway. When I showed up, they had… they had taken her. They'd been waiting for us or something."
Miller's voice was gentle. "What happened in the warehouse tonight, Bellamy?"
Bellamy went over it, omitting the parts that implicated either him or Clarke. He told Miller how she had used the switchblade he'd given her to cut her ties just as Cage was about to kill him. He told Miller how Cage had shot her instead and then shut his eyes, his face screwed up with the memory of the bullet that was meant for him. But it only took a second to regain his composure and Miller's steady gaze was still looking on Bellamy almost kindly.
"Tsing was aiming for Clarke, so I shot her. I couldn't let her -"
"It's okay, Bellamy. What next?"
Bellamy remembered it vividly. It replayed every time he closed his eyes. Cage on the ground, Bellamy's foot on his hand, Clarke reaching for his gun and firing at a man who was helplessly pinned. But what came out was this: "Cage reached for his gun from the ground. He had it aimed up at me. So I shot him too."
And that was that. Miller didn't seem completely satisfied with the answers, and Bellamy was sure he knew that he was lying. But he didn't say anything else.
(Later, Miller would write his report. All charges dropped on account of self-defense. Lorelei Tsing would be charged with the murders of Emerson and Lovejoy. After all, they were killed with bullets from the same stolen gun she was holding when she died. It would be written about in the papers as a case in which there were no loose ends. A month later, Miller would turn in his badge and leave the force forever. Bellamy would try and find it within himself to feel regret. He would fail as he had failed at so many other things.)
Bellamy, still feeling stunned at the evening's turn of events, was completely free to go. It was half-past ten now, and he knew there was still one horrible task left for him to do. First, he had to know exactly how to accomplish it, so before he went anywhere, he went to Arkadia General, the hospital where they had taken Clarke. Once upon a time, she might have worked there. Maybe then, she never would have gotten involved in this horrible mess, or maybe she wouldn't have been around to help create it in the first place.
Maybes and what-ifs, Bellamy was tired of them. This time last night, he'd had so many hopes about the direction his life could go in. Now he knew. He was weary, covered in blood, still sporting the bruises from his pummeling the night before. The woman at reception looked alarmed to see the state he was in, and she tried to page a doctor, but Bellamy stopped her. "I'm fine, I'm not here for…" He sighed. "The blood isn't mine. I'm here to check on the status of a patient. Her name is Clarke Griffin."
There was a brief silence as the receptionist redirected her attention to this new task. She looked at him and delivered the news with the clinical sympathy of someone who was well-used to telling people things they didn't want to hear. "Ms. Griffin was rushed into emergency surgery two hours ago."
Bellamy's stomach sank at that, but there was a spark of relief too. She was still alive. She was still breathing. As long as that was true, then he'd still have hope. "Is she - how is she -" Bellamy ran his tongue over his dry lips, trying to get a hold of himself. "Do you know when she'll be out?"
"I'm sorry, sir, but that's all the information I can provide at this time."
Bellamy nodded, mumbled a thank you, and then turned around. There were rows of chairs behind him. There was a young man with his head in his hands, murmuring a prayer. There was an older couple, mid-fifties, sleeping on each other's shoulders. There was a little girl crying and someone who Bellamy thought might be her older brother rubbing soothing circles on her back. And Bellamy could see himself sinking into one of them, sitting rigid, still, unmoving, until they called her name out, even if it took days, like the old woman in the corner was doing.
But, though he was ashamed to admit it, what Bellamy wanted to do most of all was go home. And there was still one more stop he had to make first.
The key felt heavy in his pocket, and Bellamy lingered by the door for a very long time before unlocking it. He didn't want to do this. Hours ago, he'd been so sure he was going to die. And for a brief moment, he wished that he had. Then he shook himself out of that line of thinking and knew that what he was about to do was much braver than running headfirst into Cage Wallace's lair or lying to save a girl who might already be dead.
But his job would not be fulfilled until he did it. He slid the key in the lock and opened the door. Sitting on the couch was Madi, looking very young, and very scared. Next to her was a woman that, based on Clarke's drawings and based on her descriptions, was most likely Indra. Madi's eyes widened and Bellamy knew exactly what he looked like, what he'd looked like to everyone who had seen him that night. Like a nightmare. Like he'd been through hell. Bellamy wasn't exactly quick to disagree. She jumped off the couch, meeting him in the middle of the room. Indra stood up, but remained where she was.
Before Madi could say anything, he made sure to tell her the good news. Because if he lead with the bad news, the good news wouldn't matter at all. "It's over. No one is going to hurt you anymore." He looked at the ground, finding it hard to meet her eyes. "Clarke and I made sure of it."
There was only the slightest hint of relief in Madi's face, but she asked the question he knew was coming. It didn't prepare him any better. "Where's Clarke?"
"She got shot," he said, his face steady, but his voice breaking.
Almost immediately, tears started welling up. "But she's gonna be okay," Madi said.
Bellamy shook his head. "I don't know."
For a moment, Bellamy was prepared to catch her if her knees gave out, to hold her if she came rushing into his arms, but he wasn't surprised when a fist pummelled sharply against his chest. And another. And another. "You said you'd protect her!" she cried, the punches getting more rapid, but no real force behind them as the tears slid more freely down her face. "You said that nothing would happen to her!"
"I know," Bellamy said, standing firmly against her blows, his face stoic, his voice steady. "I'm sorry."
"THAT WAS YOUR JOB AND YOU DIDN'T DO IT!" Her final scream was loud and strained, with all the agony and terror and sorrow that was running through Bellamy's own blood. What is left of the world now? That was what he was thinking, and he knew, as she finally collapsed, exhausted, against him, that was what Madi was thinking too. He held her for a brief moment and she held him back. Then, she tore herself from his grip and ran to Indra, still wracked with sobs. Bellamy stood there for one moment longer, taking slight solace in Indra's nod of respect.
Then he turned to go, lingering just long enough to set his key down on the counter. He was never coming back here again. No matter what happened.
(A week later, he and Madi would meet for coffee and he would tell her everything. He wouldn't lie. He wouldn't leave any details out. He would go over that night in excruciating detail and when he was finished she would take his hand and say thank you. And between them would pass a moment of unique connection that could only exist between the only two people who knew everything Clarke had done and loved her anyway.)
It was nearing midnight when Bellamy finally made his way home. His car was still at the warehouse so he'd had to take the subway, ignoring the stares from the few commuters still out. He opened the door, feeling weary and heartsick. Then, there was a dull moment of surprise when he saw Octavia's brown-haired head on the couch, watching television. "What are you doing home?" he asked, in a voice that was tiredly trying to be authoritative.
"I'm eighteen, Bell. I can stay home alone one night." He could practically hear her rolling her eyes, but he couldn't bring himself to smile at it. He couldn't even bring himself to take another step. He stood there, frozen, looking at the back of his sister's head, thinking about how much he loved her, thinking about how much he had just lost, wondering how he could possibly trust himself to close his eyes without his memories replaying images he never wanted to see again.
And then, his sister turned around, a smile on her face. It died when she saw him. There was Clarke's blood, now brown and dried, covering his clothes and his hands. There was his face, swollen and bruised, a bloody handprint on his cheek. But Bellamy was sure that it was the look in his eyes that worried his sister most. She jumped to her feet, standing an arm's length away from him, her brow furrowed and her eyes wide. "Bellamy, what happened?"
And only then did he let himself cry, falling into his sister's arms, clutching her so tightly it was as if his life depended on it. His face was a mess of tears and scabs and snot, and gasping sobs fell out of him like they'd been waiting to tumble out of his lips. It was only then that he let himself truly feel the weight of that night, how awful it was, the sordidness of it all, how dirty he felt, how guilty, how desolate, how sad. The ways in which he'd failed, the things he had promised himself never to do. The people he had let down and the person who had let him down.
(It would take a long time for Octavia to find out just what had gone down that night. Bellamy never liked to tell her about his cases, especially the darker ones. Perhaps it was his way of protecting her, or perhaps it was his way of protecting himself, of making sure that when he came home, there was something pure and untainted to come home to. All he would tell her for the longest time was that there was a girl. And he had loved her. And she was gone.)
Waking up the next morning was far more painful than last time. Every part of him felt raw and blistered and painful. His stab wound was throbbing, his face was tender, and his heart was sick. He didn't have the luxury of waking up and experiencing that one sleepy moment in which he didn't remember the horror of the night before. He remembered what had happened right away. Bellamy suspected he must have been dreaming about it.
Octavia had asked many questions to no avail, and eventually she helped him out of his bloodstained shirt and into bed. She'd gasped at the stitches, but she was kind enough not to comment on it. Yesterday, he'd woken up to the lemony smell of Clarke's floral sheets. Today, the tangy scent of her dried blood still hung in the air.
Bellamy felt strange walking back into the hospital. He wanted to be stronger, but the truth was, his breakfast tasted like cardboard in his mouth and Octavia had to ask him three times whether or not he needed a ride anywhere before he finally heard her. He lied to her, something he tried to avoid, told her he was going to work on a case.
"Are you sure that's a good idea?"
But Bellamy didn't answer. He just shrugged, finished his food and left. And now he was here. It looked like he'd be one of the sad patrons of the waiting room after all. He wasn't family, but she didn't really have family except for Madi. So Bellamy was unsure how much information he'd be allowed to have.
He was about to make his way to the receptionist's desk again when someone caught his eye. Madi. Sitting in a chair in the waiting room, looking desperately sad, and shockingly small. But she was holding two cups of coffee in her hand. And when she saw him, she made her way to where he was standing and wordlessly handed him one.
Bellamy, biting back tears, nodded a silent thank you and sat down by her side. "Clarke's out of surgery," Madi said quietly.
"Critical condition. We can't see her yet."
That was okay. Bellamy had nothing but time.
Hours later, Bellamy was feeling stiff and sore and the silence between him and Madi felt simultaneously stifling and unbreakable. But what was there to say? Bellamy didn't feel like killing time with a book, or his phone, or the football game playing on the TV in the corner. Everything felt insignificant and pointless compared to what he and Madi were facing down right now.
When the sun started to set and Bellamy had had all three meals at the vending machine, he decided it was time to go home. "You need a ride?" he asked Madi as he stood to go.
She shook her head. "I should stay."
"You should sleep in a real bed. Let me take you home." He wanted to say something comforting like, she'll still be here tomorrow. But they didn't know that for sure, did they? Besides, Madi didn't need more convincing. She just needed someone to give her permission, to tell her that it was okay if she needed to leave. Bellamy knew that he had a sister waiting for him, a life waiting for him. He couldn't stay all night.
The thing was, Madi was waiting for Clarke to get better so things could go back to normal. So they could have their shared life back. Bellamy was waiting because he didn't know how to do anything else. There was his real life waiting, more cases, more girlfriends, but Bellamy had to see this through. It didn't matter what the right thing to do might be. He wasn't strong enough to fight this need, and he wasn't even going to try.
So, he drove Madi home in silence, made Octavia dinner, and put in his voicemail that he wasn't taking any new cases for the indefinite future. And he didn't stop to think about what he was doing for too long as he avoided Octavia's worried glances. The day had been long and full of nothing. He wondered if this was what life would be like from now on.
Madi beat him to the hospital the next day, only he didn't realize. She was talking with one of the doctors. Naturally, she was Clarke's emergency contact which meant she got all the medical updates. So he sat in his same chair, distantly wondering if he'd be coming here often enough to have a usual seat. He hoped not. God, he hoped not.
He was stunned and scared when Madi walked up with red-rimmed eyes, looking a little bit shaken up. But her news was good. "She's stable. But they had a problem with infection and…" Bellamy could see Madi trying to repeat exactly what the doctor had said. "I guess she was injected with something earlier that day to knock her out. They're having trouble identifying what it was and I guess it's causing complications."
Bellamy shook his head. Clarke was the medical expert, not him. "So what does that mean?"
Madi bit her lip, looking down at her shoes. "She's in a coma. They're optimistic, but…"
But. He didn't say anything. What could he say?
"They say we can go see her now."
Madi went first, of course, and she stayed in the room a long time. When she came out, an hour and a half later, her face was flushed and her eyes were watery and she looked almost ashamed. "You could have gone in with me."
Bellamy shook his head. "No, I couldn't."
She nodded, somewhat understanding. But she took a seat next to him, which meant that it was his turn. The walk felt long, but it was just down the hall. And when he went inside, he almost thought he had the wrong room. It wasn't that she looked any different - she didn't. But somehow, seeing Clarke here, in a white gown, pale, unmoving, with tubes in her arm and oxygen in her nose felt incompatible with the almost overwhelmingly vivid person he'd gotten to know.
He sat down in the stiff-backed chair next to her bed, just as comfortable as the one in the waiting room. He watched her for a long moment, he didn't know how long. But soon enough, a nurse came in. Her name tag spelled out MAYA in black letters. She shot him a sympathetic look. "How are you today, sir?" she asked politely, adjusting Clarke's tubes and the bags hanging next to her bed.
Bellamy meant to say something standard, but what came out was a shell-shocked voice saying, "I don't know what I'm doing here."
Maya looked at him, and Bellamy hated the pity he saw there. "Well, you can try talking to her."
He wanted to laugh. "It's not like she can hear me."
"Some people would disagree."
Bellamy raised his eyebrows. "Do you?"
Maya's face was an open book. It was clear she didn't. It was clear that she felt, as he did, that Clarke was somewhere far, far away, in the kind of deep sleep that resembled death more than life. She simply said, "When she gets better, it'll matter that you were here."
Bellamy didn't know how to respond to that, so he didn't. He stayed silent until she left the room. He could hear her voice whispering, "Dying for you is a pretty shitty way to say sorry."
"You know what would be less shitty?" he said. His voice sounded loud in the silence of the room. "Not dying. Maybe you could try that."
But Bellamy knew that he was only talking to himself. He didn't feel close to Clarke when he looked at her, and not when he talked to her either. But he felt something when he held her hand, so that was what he did. That was what he did for a very long time.
The next week passed slowly, with little change in Clarke's condition. Madi passed on the messages from the doctors and Bellamy would nod as if he understood, but all he knew was that the doctors were optimistic but in truth, they didn't know. As two days at the hospital turned into three and then four, Bellamy felt like he was there for Madi's sake more than anything. He didn't know if she truly wanted him there, but he felt like she shouldn't be alone. And he knew that Clarke wouldn't want her to be alone, either. Being there for Madi felt like the best he could do by Clarke, so that was what he did. He never thought beyond the next hour.
Madi spent long stretches in Clarke's room but Bellamy stopped by only briefly. When she asked him if he wanted to come in with her, he said, "It's okay. I'll wait here." Somehow, he'd started to be able to focus on other things. He had a book with him and he usually read while Madi went in. But when a week had passed since the night when everything had stopped, she looked at him, confused.
"I don't understand. Why not?"
Bellamy opened his mouth to respond, but when he realized he didn't know what to say, he closed it again.
"You've been different," she said, and he knew what she was talking about. "What changed?" She asked the question like she already knew the answer, but Bellamy figured that if anybody deserved an explanation, it was her.
So what he said was, "Can I buy you coffee?"
(To tell everything that happened that night exactly as it was to someone he knew would understand was like purging himself of the last lingering traces of horror that night, and truthfully that entire day, had left in him. It was cathartic, and healing in some ways. And when it was over, he was left only with love he couldn't rid himself of, an overwhelming sense of sorrow and a distant longing for life before he'd taken this case, before he'd realized just how much he was capable of losing. He felt closer to Madi that afternoon than he'd felt towards anyone since Clarke got shot.
But they never spoke about it again.)
The cycle of crappy coffee, stiff-backed chairs, and waiting for something he thought would never happen felt like it would never end. The days following that night were a timeless blur, especially because they followed the most intense months of his life. He'd helped a murderer. He'd killed a man. He'd lied to the police.
He'd fallen in love.
It was like time had stopped the moment Clarke's eyes had slid shut. That was the only way he could understand what things felt like now, like a void where his daily life should have been. But almost two weeks after everything, when he was in the car on his way home from the hospital, his phone started ringing. It was Madi, who he'd just left behind.
"Madi?" he said, and he heard the nervousness in his voice. "What is it?"
Her voice was tearful. But not in a bad way. "They identified the drug, and um… They said she should wake up in the next couple of hours."
"Are you coming back?"
That question threw him for a second. He hadn't thought about what he'd do if Clarke woke up. He hadn't allowed himself to. But when he said, "No. I'm not," he realized that somewhere inside of him, he'd known all along.
She hung up not long after that and Bellamy tried to keep his eyes on the road. But when the street lines in front of him started looking wavy and his eyes were stinging, he pulled onto the shoulder. He was silent for a moment, but only a moment. And then he was weeping into his hands by the side of the highway, grateful and angry and fucking sad all at the same time.
But mostly he was overwhelmed with relief. Because he still thought, in spite of everything he knew, that the world was a better place if Clarke Griffin was in it.
The next day, he was lingering by the open door of her hospital room. There were only three short steps before he'd see her and she'd see him. Instead of wondering whether or not he'd have the strength to face her and every terrible thing they'd done together, he went in. It was like the time that had seemed to stall from the moment she'd closed her eyes had only just now started again. His breath was gone but his heartbeat was loud.
And her blue eyes were open and looking at him, mirroring every emotion flurrying up inside of him on her pretty, living face. "Bellamy," she breathed. He took a few more steps into the room, closer to her.
Enough steps so that Miller had enough space to come in behind him. Clarke's eyes narrowed, confusedly switching focus from Bellamy to Miller. "Clarke," Miller said. "It's great to see you're feeling better." But there was no real feeling behind his tone, and Bellamy knew it was because of the truth Miller suspected. He was never good at hiding his emotions. "I'm Officer Miller, I was assigned to your case."
Bellamy remained silent, but he was close enough to her bedside to slide his hand in hers, squeeze it reassuringly and pull it away. Clarke didn't look at him, but she squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, as if she was in pain. "Okay," she said, quietly.
"We have no reason to believe Madi's life is in danger anymore, though we really would have preferred you come to the police instead of a PI about a case like this. Lorelei Tsing and Cage Wallace were both pronounced dead on arrival. We believe they were working with two men named Lovejoy and Emerson who were also found dead days before your accident. We have extended a direct line to the precinct to Madi should she feel unsafe at any time, but she hasn't reported any incidents for the last two weeks. She's safe."
Clarke looked down. "And what are the charges?" she said dully.
Bellamy jumped in. "I got off on self defense on both accounts."
Clarke looked suspicious, then worried, then confused. Miller jumped in, and he sounded weary. Like he knew he was doing the wrong thing. "The evidence corroborates Detective Blake's statement that he killed Wallace and Tsing to protect you. Would you like to dispute any claims I have made today?"
"Was anything I said incorrect?"
Clarke's eyes darted to Bellamy's for a quick moment, but she shook her head.
"Well, the commissioner is eager to close this case, so that, Miss Griffin, is your statement." Miller turned to go, lingering in the doorway, waiting for Bellamy.
"It's over, Clarke," he said, and she looked at him, grateful, nodding, tears welling up in her eyes.
He turned, following Miller. Clarke's voice sounded behind him. "Wait, Bellamy -"
"I'll go get Madi." And then he walked out the door, past the waiting room, through the automatic doors, and into the fresh air without looking back once.
Yes. It was over.