The original plan in Season 4 was that 100 members of Skaikru, the people on Clarke's list, would survive Praimfaya inside the Ark. The plan fell apart when Clarke was forced to give 50 spots to Azgeda and then when Ilian destroyed most of the Ark. But what if those two events never happened? What if the 100 people on Clarke's list truly will be the survivors inside the Ark, and they need to remove the rest of Skaikru before the deathwave?

Bellarke, Mackson, and Niytavia

T/W – Suicidal ideation. Nothing beyond what we saw in S4 of the show.


Thank you Penguin of Prose for detailed and encouraging beta-testing!

Also, without spoiling Season 7 or this very fic…all I will say is that despite some incomprehensible writing choices on the show, I believe in happy endings.

Chapter One

"Gold is tried by fire and brave men by adversity" – Seneca

Niylah takes a few deep breaths while trying to keep both her inhalations and exhalations quiet. She feels a bead of sweat run down the side of her face.

She hears footsteps in the distance. The Ark is so quiet now. She wonders if whoever is walking nearby can hear her heart pounding inside her chest.

Is this the end? Has her hiding place been discovered?

Niylah takes another breath, as quietly as she can. She doesn't belong here. She's not one of them. If she's discovered, they will toss her out. She will either die in Praimfaya or the radiation that precedes it.

The footsteps are coming closer.

Jackson paces around the empty med bay. His plan is insane. It's laughable, ludicrous. The work of a desperate man.

But it's the last chance to save Nathan Miller's life, and he's going to do it even if it costs him everything.

At least the plan is simple. Jackson will grab the radio and have the syringe filled with poison ready to go. Locking himself inside med bay, he will radio Kane and Abby. When they reach the other side of that door, he will make his demand plain and simple. They have five minutes to bring Nathan Miller from the makeshift stockade to the Ark – to safety. If they don't, Jackson will inject himself with the poison.

Simple. Effecti—

No. Jackson shakes his head as he realizes the flaw. The plan won't work. Kane and Abby both carry guns all the time now. All they have to do is shoot out the lock, open the door, and take the poison away. It's over.

His new boyfriend is going to die in Praimfaya.

Bellamy knew he'd find her here. He walks up to her and stands by her side.

Clarke is inside the mess hall. This is the room where it took place, where 358 members of Skaikru were gassed, carried outside the Ark, and placed inside the makeshift stockade.

No, Bellamy thinks to himself, you can't use the passive voice when you remember what happened. You need to instead describe it this way: 'This is where I, along with a handful of others, gassed 358 members of our own people. We carried them outside the Ark and placed them inside the makeshift stockade. We left them to die like animals.'

"We're monsters."

At first Bellamy thinks he has spoken, but he realizes that it was Clarke whose lips moved. She spoke the words that he was thinking.

And he's not going to argue with her. Instead he simply repeats, "Monsters."

Bellamy does take a strange measure of comfort in standing next to Clarke, their shoulders lightly touching. When he took part in what happened here, he bid farewell to the notion that he'd ever be able to take enjoyment from life again. He knew he'd never again experience another moment of happiness, never again experience a peaceful night of sleep. But somehow standing next to Clarke, knowing that she is bearing the same guilt he is, helps a little. Makes it just a bit easier to tolerate.

The deathwave is close. Bellamy, Clarke, and the other Skaikru leaders have known for months what they were going to have to do. They knew the Ark would only have enough food, water, and air to accommodate 100 people. So they misled people, letting them believe in this notion of a lottery, letting them believe in the idea that somehow the Ark would hold all 458 of them. Maybe it was delusion combined with desperation and lack of information that allowed most of Skaikru to believe they'd be saved. And now with the deathwave near, the time to seal the Ark and remove the 358 who did not make Clarke's list had arrived.

Bellamy was in that horrible meeting along with Clarke, Raven, Jaha, Kane and Abby. The meeting where they had to discuss what they had all been putting off: the mechanics of actually removing 358 people. A plan was cobbled together. All of Skaikru would be gassed in the mess hall during dinner, the doors and vents sealed. Then Clarke and the other leaders – along with three trusted guards who were, of course, on Clarke's list – would carry the 358 out of the Ark, into a makeshift stockade. They would wear gasmasks. The three guards would then do a sweep of the rest of the Ark to ensure that anyone who hadn't been inside the mess hall would be taken to the stockade as well. Once inside the stockade, the 358 would find water – and poison. Those who didn't want to die by radiation or the deathwave would have a more humane, faster option.

It is done now. On his way to the mess hall just now, Bellamy walked by the part of the Ark whose walls were closest to the stockade. He could hear the screams and pleas of the 358. People he loves.

Monty, Jasper, and Harper. Miller. Murphy and his grounder girlfriend.

At least Bellamy can take comfort in the fact that his sister will survive. Octavia made Clarke's list because she is a young woman and, as Clarke and many others have pointed out, if humanity is to survive then the list needs to be weighted towards young women. Bellamy hasn't seen Octavia for a few hours, but he can grasp an iota of relief from his constant horror in knowing that she is safe here, on the Ark.

"Maybe I should just go out there," Clarke says. Bellamy notes how dry her voice sounds, how small. "Open the doors to the stockade and shove myself inside."

Bellamy's despair instantly gives way to a different type of energy. He is going to argue with her now. He wants her to stay alive.

"No," he says. "Absolutely not. Our people need good leaders. Especially now. You deserve your spot here. You need to live." He is surprised at the firmness, the passion, in his voice.

Clarke turns to look at him, and they are no longer standing shoulder to shoulder. Bellamy sees the pain in her eyes and part of it kills him. Clarke opens her mouth and then closes it. Instead she takes a step towards him and puts her arms around him.

Bellamy's heart leaps. Clarke's arms around him, Clarke hugging him. After he'd taken part in the removal of the 358, Bellamy had thought his heart was frosted over, that all he'd ever feel again would be pain and despair. He has no doubt that pain will be his constant companion, but with Clarke hugging him, he feels something else. Having his arms around her, Bellamy feels almost lightheaded. She's warm, she's embracing him, and his heart is no longer empty.

Maybe I should finally tell her, he thinks. Say the three words, tell her how I feel. That I love her, that she is loved. That she is my best friend but that she's so much more to me.

That I need her to be more.

Bellamy decides to do it. He has waited long enough. And there's never going to be a good time to say the words anyway. Their lives have been brutal since the moment they first met on the ground, so there is no point in waiting for the right time to tell his best friend that he loves her.

But the doors to the mess hall open, and Jaha, Kane, and Abby step through. Bellamy and Clarke abruptly pull out of their hug.

"We need to decide who gets the other two spots," Abby says.

It has been a few months since Clarke made the list. Since that time, two people have died. One was James, a young engineer, who died in a random accident. (Too much faulty equipment, too many makeshift fixes that break at the worst times). The other was a 21 year old named Lisette; her spot on the list had been given to her largely because she was a young, healthy woman. Lisette had perished in the black rain just under a week ago. So Skaikru has two more spots on the list. Clarke and the other leaders had been so focused on their need to remove the 358 that they'd had to put this decision on the backburner. But now it's time to face the fact that they have two spots to fill.

Two more life and death decisions to make. Two people to be rescued from the stockade and brought back inside here.

Bellamy looks from Kane's face to Abby's to Jaha's. He's never been a fan of Thelonius Jaha. He has come to respect Kane, and of course he holds a special place for Abby since she's Clarke's mother.

Jaha is holding the list in his hand.

"Right," Clarke says somberly. "James and…Lisette. We have two spots to fill."

Bellamy watches Clarke. He thinks back to Mount Weather, remembers pulling the lever with her. They hate it, they both hate it so much, the fact that they make these kinds of decisions. They play God, deciding who lives and who dies and they wish they lived in a world where they didn't have to.

"We have a few ideas," Kane begins softly. "But we wanted to ask you."

Although Bellamy has tried to not think of The List any more than he's had to, the subject has crossed his mind. He and Clarke discussed it a few nights ago. He had been unable to sleep and had wandered the corridors a bit until he found Clarke doing the same thing. They'd made their way to the mess hall and found themselves sitting on the floor side by side, their backs against the wall. They each sipped a glass of water. Bellamy's had plenty of sleepless nights in his time. Having Clarke at his side was the only balm he'd been able to take that night.

"We do," Clarke says. Bellamy hears her. Her voice isn't small or broken as it had been a minute ago. "Monty and Harper. Both have served on the guard. And Monty is an apprentice engineer and a botanist – he'd be a great mentee to both Kara Cooper, and of course to Raven. And Harper, in addition to being on the guard, is a young woman. True, her father died of Rawson's Disease, but the symptoms—"

Abby nods and cuts Clarke off. "The symptoms don't usually present until the carrier is in their 40's. And death occurs, on average, 10 years after symptoms begin to present." Abby pauses. "Plenty of time for Harper to bear children."

"Not to mention," Bellamy is surprised to hear his own voice, "Monty and Harper are a couple. We'll need to keep the human race going, but we're not exactly horses that can just be…bred."

Jaha nods enthusiastically. "Better if we have a willing couple than forcing two people together." He looks around the room. "So we're agreed then."

"We can't go get them from the stockade now though," Kane says. "Black rain has been pouring for hours. We'll need to wait."

So that's that. The group begins to disperse. Bellamy wants to return to Clarke's arms, to hug her again, to talk with her. But his voice fails him now, and as she turns to leave, the two of them exchange just a grim nod. The moment they had earlier is over. He was crazy, Bellamy thinks, to hope for more in this world. In this mad, brutal world where a handful of people decide who lives and who dies.

Jackson stands looking out the window, his arms crossed over his chest. The black rain thunders down. It's dark out now too, so Jackson can't really see the stockade. He can see only its menacing outline in shadow. As the rain and the wind pick up, Jackson imagines he hears wailing coming from the stockade. 358 people. Including the man he loves.

Somewhere in the back of his head, Jackson can hear the voice of his father. The man is long gone but they hadn't ever been close; he hadn't been a supportive dad. You barely knew the guy, Jackson hears his father say. Okay, you were together for a few weeks, you shared some good times and some good sex. But get over him. Pretty much everyone else you've ever known or cared about has died, and he's next. I told you, kid, life isn't easy. You were a fool for getting so attached to him.

Jackson muses how much easier it would be if Miller were already dead. But the absolute torture in all of this is the fact that Miller is alive, inside that stockade and there is just nothing that Jackson can do to get him out. Jackson can only stand here and think about it and wish he were outside with him. He wonders if Miller and his father will take the poison that's offered or if they will wait for the radiation and the deathwave. He images that much of Skaikru is taking the poison and maybe has already done so. Waiting has to be a special kind of hell. Ending it now could be quick and efficient. Miller and is father are smart, and they have to know that it's all over for them, so maybe they have downed the poison.

But maybe not.

An idea springs into Jackson's head. A last, desperate strand of hope. He sets out to find Abby.

Niylah trembles. The footsteps are definitely getting closer.

Well, she thinks, this plan only had a ghost of a chance. For the past few months, Niylah has lived inside the Ark, with Clarke's blessing. She's been helping out Abby and Jackson in med bay and has learned a lot. Once or twice Abby and Kane didn't realize that Niylah was in med bay and so she had the chance to overhear a few important conversations. She learned that the Ark could not, in fact, feed 458 people or provide enough oxygen for them for five years. Not a member of Skaikru, Niylah soon realized that she didn't stand a chance of remaining inside the one safe place on earth.

So she made a desperate gambit. She wrote Clarke a letter, saying that she was going back to her people before Praimfaya hit. And then she gathered up the water and rations she'd squirreled away for the past few weeks and headed to the room that used to belong to Aurora and Bellamy Blake.

Neither of the Blake siblings uses this room anymore; it's been empty since the dropship went down with Octavia and Bellamy inside of it. Niylah has heard the entire story, parts of it directly from Clarke, parts overheard inside med bay or the mess hall. It's understandable that neither Bellamy nor Octavia would want to set foot inside here again – so many terrible memories for them. But it might be Niylah's salvation.

True, she could have asked Clarke for help. But Clarke has looked like death every time Niylah has seen her during the past few weeks, the burden of leadership during bleak times clearly weighing her down. Niylah didn't want to give her yet another burden. The two shared companionship, friendship, sex. But there never was anything else there.

The hiding spot isn't bad. The light is decent. There's an old blanket and pillow down here. There's a book too, though Niylah has to admit that Metamorphoses is pretty slow going. When she absolutely has to, Niylah climbs up out of the hole and uses the restroom inside the main quarters, though she has to really hope that the 100 survivors now inside the Ark are too preoccupied and devastated to account for the extra water usage.

But rations are going to be a problem. What Niylah has managed to squirrel away and bring with her will last only a few weeks at best. She is going to need to eventually learn the patterns of the guards and she is going to need to put her lock-picking skills to test in order to get inside the food stores. Octavia hid for 16 years, but she had two people helping her. Niylah is going to have to do this by herself for five years without being discovered. She figures her odds of pulling this off are low, but she understands that without the Ark and Skaikru, her odds of survival are zero. At least this way she has a fighting chance.

Niylah holds her breath. The footsteps are right outside the door to the Blake room, and now the door is opening. Niylah sits as still as she can. Though she has no idea why someone would enter an empty room, she knows she's okay as long as she can keep quiet. No one is going to lift the floor components and expose her hideout.

And then Niylah freezes in terror. Someone is doing exactly that. The floor component is being lifted. Her hiding spot is being exposed and someone is looking down at her.

For his plan to work, in order to save Nathan Miller, Jackson needs to get Abby alone. That has been hard lately. Abby has been as miserable as all of the leaders have been, and her free time has been spent with Kane or with Clarke. Understandably, Abby has been taking solace with the two people she loves the most. And what makes it even harder is that right now, with just 100 healthy inhabitants of the Ark, they have no patients inside med bay so Jackson can't rely on simply finding Abby there.

After pacing a bit, Jackson decides to head to Abby's quarters and speak with her there. He knows that Kane will likely be there, but decides that might not be a bad thing after all.

As he walks towards Abby's room, Jackson thinks back to his time with Nathan Miller. He'd first noticed the former delinquent more than six months ago, when he'd returned from Mount Weather. He saw that Miller was brave and honorable and smart. Jackson had even made it known that he liked him, but Miller had gently let him down, saying that his boyfriend from Farm Station was missing but not confirmed dead. And then Bryan had returned and been reunited with Miller. Jackson had glimpsed them a few times inside the mess hall and what passed for the Ark's bar. He had pushed back his jealousy and told himself to be happy for the couple. Spending most of his days inside med bay with Abby and with a constant stream of patients and visitors, Jackson was always aware of Skaikru's happenings. Rumors started to circulate. He'd first heard that Miller and Bryan weren't happy together, then that they'd broken up, then that they were making another go of it, and then that it was finally confirmed to be over between them. More time passed. Miller began sitting near Jackson inside the mess hall, smiling at him, telling his best jokes and stories when Jackson was near.

Jackson didn't want to be somebody's rebound. But he'd always been so drawn to Miller. And besides, from listening to Abby and Kane he'd learned that Praimfaya wasn't just a rumor, that their time really and truly was limited. Knowing that life was short, Jackson decided to go for it and return Miller's advances. He and Miller spent a few glorious weeks together. He loved Miller's stories and jokes and sarcasm. The young man was sweet and gentle, in bed and outside of it.

Was it foolish to get attached to someone with the end of the world looming? Maybe. But Jackson saw the happiness that Kane brought Abby, and he wasn't going to deny himself. Every time Miller was in his arms, Jackson felt for certain that this was meant to be.

Kane has a spot on Clarke's list though. Miller does not.

Jackson reaches Abby's room, and Kane is indeed there. They let him in. "What's on your mind, Jackson?" Abby asks.

"I need Nathan Miller here," Jackson says. "You can make room for one more. And besides, James and Lisette aren't here. Miller needs to get one of the extra spots."

Abby steadily meets Jackson's gaze. He wonders if she knows how hard it was to come here, to get those words out without his voice trembling.

Abby's voice is gentle when she replies. "These are horrible times for all of us. Kara Cooper's husband is out there in the stockade too. Everyone either has lost someone, or will." She pauses, "And we've already decided who will fill the two extra spots."

Jackson bites his tongue to keep from mentioning that Abby is lucky that her partner and her daughter are both safe. He knows that a barb like that won't help.

Kane also meets Jackson's eyes and his tone is as sympathetic as Abby's. "The problem is that Miller doesn't have any special skills other than being a guard – and, well, being young. We've already filled our quantity of guards and we already have several people under age 21 here."

Jackson has overheard snippets of how they determined which guards would stay. From what Jackson has been able to gather, Miller closely lost a spot to those who were better shots and – perhaps – to those who are more willing and eager to reproduce with members of the opposite sex. Jackson decides not to debate either of those points. He decides to play his last – and only – card.

"I understand," Jackson says simply. "But I know that the 100 is just a number, and we can fit one more person. So I need to tell you this. Either Nathan Miller is inside the Ark when the deathwave hits, or I commit suicide. I will kill myself. And you will lose the only other doctor."

Abby looks as if she stifles a gasp. "Eric," she says, her voice breathless. "We swore a sacred oath."

"I never swore an oath to not kill myself. I am going to do this if Miller doesn't get a spot. You will lose me and all the training you put into me."

"No. You won't do it," Kane says, and now he sounds like the Vice-Chancellor made of iron from a year ago. "I will place you under guard 24/7 if I have to."

Jackson is ready for that. "You can't keep that up forever. Sooner or later, a guard will slip or get outwitted. It might be months or years later. But sooner or later I'll evade them, and I'll have either a knife or drugs or whatever I need to do the job. I will do it. So bring Nathan Miller here now or you lose one of your two doctors." He is pleased with the fact that he sounds as firm as Kane even though he's trembling inside.

"We can't do that," Kane responds grimly. He reaches for his radio. "Major Costa, please send a guard to Abby's quarters. We are placing Dr. Jackson under 24/7 monitoring, indefinitely."

Costa misses just one or two beats before replying, "Yes, Sir."

The black rain continues. It's nighttime aboard the Ark but Bellamy, like most of this new 100, can't sleep so he's pacing the halls again. He soon finds himself walking wordlessly beside Raven. And moments later Clarke is there too. Walking seems to help, Bellamy thinks. He can't sleep, he's too jittery to even sit, and the anxiety begins to swirl through his guts when he lies down. So pacing the corridors seems to be the order of the day. He's not sure where Octavia is right now but he hopes that she is somehow sleeping.

As the three continue to walk, they observe what they can only describe as Jackson being escorted by a guard. Jackson's face is tilted downwards, looking at the floor as they pass. And yes, every person on the Ark now can only be described as despondent, but Jackson appears somehow even worse.

"Did..we just see Jackson being escorted by a guard?" Raven asks after they pass, breaking the silence.

"Desperate times," Clarke answers. "You know how close he and Miller are. Were," she corrects herself. "Maybe he tried something desperate."

"The damn world really is ending if Jackson just pulled a knife on Kane," Raven mutters.

Bellamy listens, taking it in. Just another unhinged event, and he wonders how many more of them they will see before the deathwave hits.

Abby approaches the trio a moment later. "Raven," she says, striding up to them. "Can we re-run the numbers again? Is there any chance we can accommodate 101 people?"

"Abby, we've looked at the numbers a thousand times," Raven answers evenly. If she's exasperated, as Bellamy guesses she must be, she's not showing it. "Sure, we can do 101. Or even 102 or 103. But we decided that we have to draw the line somewhere. One hundred gives us the best chance of surviving, of riding out the five years of radiation, of ensuring we make it even if the hydrofarm fails or one of the air scrubbers breaks and can't be fixed."

Abby sighs and rubs her eyes. "You're right. We have to stick with the decisions we made. It's a matter of drawing the line."

Clarke steps towards her mother and puts a hand on her shoulder. "Mom," she says gently. "You look exhausted. Why don't you try to get some sleep?"

Abby lets out something between a laugh and a scoff. "Let's just admit that none of us are going to sleep until the deathwave hits."

Bellamy watches them. He reckons they won't sleep much afterwards either, though at least they won't have to agonize over the 358 people inside the stockade anymore. As it is right now, they spend every moment thinking about what is going through their minds, speculating about how they feel. His thoughts begin to spiral. He wonders if this is truly it, if he is doomed to wander the halls each night like a ghost, not alive but not dead. If there ever can be any rebounding from this.

"I'm gonna take Clarke's advice," Raven says. "I think I might actually be ready to collapse and at least pass out for a few hours. 'Night."

Abby nods. "I'm gonna get a glass of water and try to sleep too," she says, taking her leave.

Clarke turns to Bellamy and puts a hand on his arm. "You look about how I feel," she says.

Is that a smile? Bellamy can't help it. As miserable as he feels in every way, seeing a hint of a smile on Clarke's face once again un-freezes his heart.

"That bad, huh?" he smiles back.

"You wanna sit for a bit?" she asks. "My legs are starting to get sore."

He nods. They've wound up near a window with an attached window seat. Just as Bellamy starts to remember how he used to sit on one sometimes and watch the moon and the stars, Clarke speaks up. "I used to sit here a lot," she says. "Before the skybox. Watch the view."

"We had a similar place in Factory Station. I'd sit there a lot too," Bellamy responds. "One of the only peaceful places on the Ark. Well, that and the library."

"Some of the tablets and actual paper books survived the trip down here. At least I've heard," Clarke says. She smiles and shakes her head. "I always meant to head back to the library and spend a half day reading. But – no such luck."

He joins her in a sympathetic grunt. "I did a few times," Bellamy says. "During the…well, during the three months when you were gone. I'd make it to the library, grab a book." He smiles and adds, "And then get interrupted ten times."

Clarke returns his smile.

This is how I know I'm still alive, Bellamy thinks. That smile. Those eyes. Just sitting next to her like this. Not to mention the pain at remembering the three months when she was gone.

I have to tell her. Have to share with her how I feel. This isn't the best time, but – hell – when is there going to ever be a good time?

"Clarke," he begins as he reaches to delicately place a hand on her back. "There's something I need to tell you. You-"

His words are cut off as both of their radios sound. It's Kane.

"Clarke, Bellamy. The black rain has stopped," Kane says.

Bellamy has to admit that he's been so focused on Clarke that he hadn't noticed that the rain has ceased - despite the fact that they are sitting right by the window. Interesting, he thinks fleetingly, that Clarke hadn't said anything about noticing it either.

"Take Cadet Sepetys and go get Monty and Harper from the stockade. She will meet you by the airlock."

"Acknowledged," Clarke says.

She and Bellamy continue to meet each other's eyes. They both inhale deeply. The moment is over and it's time for yet another agonizing task.

Niylah blinks mutely, looking upwards. Whoever is removing the floorboard knows what they are doing. A second later, the board is pushed to the side and Niylah sees Octavia Blake looking down at her.

She's met Octavia several times during her weeks and months spent living with Skaikru, and they've spoken a few times. Octavia was even a bit notorious among Trikru, for being Indra's second and for being Lincoln's lover. In Niylah's mind though, Octavia is the sister of the man who led the massacre – the massacre that killed Niylah's own father. Every time Niylah has spotted Bellamy during her stay here, she has been forced to quietly beat back her anger. She does remind herself, though, that he was also instrumental in defeating ALIE and she needs to give him at least some credit for that.

Octavia has, Niylah guessed, learned to suppress her emotions; she doesn't even let out a gasp upon seeing Niylah.

"Came here looking for a book," Octavia says quietly and flatly.

"Uh, here you go," Niylah says with a smile somewhere between utter desperation and amusement. She hands her Metamorphoses.

Octavia wordlessly accepts the book.

Niylah decides to take the bull by the horns. "So, uh, this is the part where I beg you to let me stay."

"How were you planning to pull this off?" Octavia asks, looking around her former hiding spot. "You're gonna need food and water. And maybe even to use the bathroom at some point," she adds with a gentle smirk.

Niylah shares her plan with Octavia. Octavia shakes her head. "I only survived 16 years down here because I had help. The rations are kept under so much lock and key that even a thief like Nathan Miller couldn't get them."

Niylah looks down for a second. "The actions of a desperate woman," she allows. "Didn't see too many other choices."

Octavia holds her gaze and then nods. "I'll help you."

Niylah's heart skips a beat. "Y-you will?" she asks, not sure if she can trust her ears.

"My brother is responsible for your father's death. So my family owes you a debt." Octavia tilts her head. "And I'm only alive because people helped me hide."

They come up with a plan. Octavia will concoct a reason to move back into this room. "I can say that the room I'm staying in reminds me too much of Lincoln," she adds, shuddering a bit when she says his name. "That way you can come up and use the bathroom, and it won't be suspicious when the toilet flushes or when someone takes a shower." She pauses, "Hiding food isn't gonna be easy. But I'll figure it out. I'll take to wearing bulky jackets and sneaking my food into the pockets."

"You- you'll share your rations?" Niylah asks. She still cannot believe what she's hearing. True, Octavia's family owes her a blood debt. But in this new world where grounders and their traditions are about to go extinct, no one would notice or care if they never paid it off.

Octavia nods. "Used to living my whole life on half-rations anyway. I'll manage."

"I have no words," Niylah manages, breathless. "I owe you my life."

Octavia looks uncomfortable at Niylah's impassioned words, so perhaps that's why she ignores them. "Let me go make that room change official then. I'll be back."

Niylah is stunned and overwhelmed as Octavia replaces the floor panel and sets to do what she says she will.

I'm going to live – at least for now. And this woman who barely knows me is going to help. Relief floods Niylah's body. Praimfaya is not going to take her down!

Kane stands nearby as Clarke, Bellamy, and Sepetys suit up. The air quality outside is already dreadful, and black rain could appear again at any time, so hazmat suits are a reasonable precaution. Kane double checks that their suits are on securely and then reminds them to confirm their weapons are ready before they head out.

So here we go, Bellamy thinks. We'll walk the 30 paces or so to the stockade. We'll stride up to the airlock and say we want Monty and Harper.

But not Jasper. We have to be ready for that. Monty might refuse to step through the airlock without Jasper. We'll need to persuade him somehow. Maybe his love for Harper will be enough. Jasper sure hasn't seemed like he's wanted to live anymore, anyway.

Bellamy and Clarke had also discussed, as they suited up, a dozen other possibilities. There might be so much shouting and chaos that they might barely be heard. Angry people might prevent Monty and Harper from even reaching the airlock. People might demand more water or more poison.

They will call us every horrible name ever created, and we will deserve it.

"Are you ready?" Clarke asks. Her voice is all business, and she looks from Bellamy to Sepetys. She grasps her weapon in one hand, and Raven's device to control the airlock in the other.

Both confirm that they are. Clarke turns towards the exit, and then looks back at Bellamy and Sepetys. "I know we've had to say many times during the past few days that this will be the hardest thing we've ever had to do." She pauses, "Well this might be the new hardest."

"Let's just get it over with!" Sepetys says.

The three head outside. They walk wordlessly to the stockade. For a few seconds, Bellamy's legs feel shaky but he keeps going. Despite the bulky suit, Bellamy can hear an eerie rumble in the distance, an unnerving howl. Another harbinger of the deathwave?

Bellamy expects to hear shouting and yelling as they approach the stockade, but they do not. There is noise, but it's muted.

They reach the stockade's airlock. Clarke presses a button to activate the intercom. "We need Monty Green and Harper McIntyre. Monty and Harper, please step through the airlock. We're taking you back to the Ark to rejoin the rest of us."

Bellamy admires the way Clarke's voice doesn't waver. She sounds strong.

A few moments later, a voice responds from the other side of the intercom. It sounds like Sergeant David Miller.

"They're dead. They took the poison. Most of us have."

Clarke glances at Bellamy. She touches the intercom again. "We need to see proof. Place their bodies in the airlock. Please."

A few minutes go by and sounds can be heard. Bellamy stands there like a statue, hoping somehow that what they've just been told is wrong. More rustling and movement. Through the airlock window, Bellamy now sees two people each drag two….bodies into the airlock. Bellamy's breath catches. It does indeed looks like Monty and Harper. When the inner door to the airlock is sealed firmly by Clarke, they open the outer door.

Bellamy steps through first, followed closely by Clarke. He has seen death before. He has caused death before. He crouches down beside Monty and Harper's bodies and removes one of his gloves. He feels for pulses.

"They're dead," he confirms. His eyes glaze over for a second, almost as if he were watching a movie.

Even as Bellamy speaks the words straightforwardly, his insides are lurching. He has to fight the urge to throw himself through the airlock's doors, into the hell of the stockade. Monty and Harper gone forever. Monty one of the smartest people he's ever known. The utterly obscene waste of human life. Once again Bellamy feels like he's nothing more than a disgusting, tiny bug which deserves to be stomped on.

This was one eventuality they had not planned for or discussed.

"Please, can you take my son?" Sergeant Miller's voice is heard again on the other side of the intercom. "He's strong and healthy. He's willing to mate with anyone if that's what you need." In another time and place, perhaps the Sergeant's promise about his son's ability to mate might have been humorous. But here on this vile night, it is simply the words of a desperate man who loves his son.

Bellamy again admires Clarke's steady resolve as she replies, "Sergeant, I need to check with Kane to see who was next on the list after Monty and Harper."

Bellamy stands inside the airlock as Clarke and Kane and Sergeant Miller go back and forth in a macabre discussion. The next three people on the list have all taken the poison. Bellamy can only marvel at how calm the people inside the stockade are being. He wonders if perhaps only a few dozen are left. It makes sense. Why prolong the inevitable?

"Okay," Kane says through the radio. "What about Nathan Miller and Bree Palmer then?"

Both are still alive. Bellamy always loved Miller, and he fleetingly thinks that if he were capable of feeling happiness right now, he would. As for Bree, yes they've hooked up a few times in the past though Bellamy has no real attachment to her. But he's glad that she will live. Through the airlock's window, he watches Miller hug his father for several long moments. Bellamy lost both of his parents long ago, never having even known his father, but the moment still is heart-wrenching to watch.

And then it is done. Miller and Bree step through the airlock, and the stockade is sealed back up.

"Can you bring us more water?" Sergeant Miller's voice is heard through the intercom as Bellamy and the others turn to leave.

Bellamy winces upon hearing the words. He looks at Nathan Miller whose appearance can only be described as stoic.

"Yes," Bellamy answers. "Do you need more poison?"

"No," the Sergeant replies. "You gave us enough doses. Some of us are still waiting for a miracle. I just got mine. Maybe we'll get another."

And then, when Sergeant Miller speaks again, Bellamy sees Miller's face finally crack. "Please tell Chancellor Kane how grateful I am that my son will live."

"We will," Clarke answers. Bellamy looks at her and sees his own agony reflected upon her face.

The small group enters the Ark, Miller and Bree coughing from the foul air. Miller speaks as soon as he's able to.

"Should I report to Kane?" Miller asks Clarke and Bellamy.

"It can wait for morning," Clarke says. "Get some rest."

Miller nods. Bellamy isn't sure if it's the right thing to do or not, but he hugs Miller. Miller returns the hug for a few seconds, and then breaks it off. He heads down the hallway, followed by an equally somber Bree.

Abby knew that despite her words to Clarke earlier, she wasn't truly going to get any sleep. Instead, she lay in bed, listening to the radio conversation.

"Is it done?" Abby asks Clarke, grasping her radio. "Are Miller and Bree here?"

"Miller and Bree are here," Clarke confirms over the radio's static. "The Ark is sealed back up. I told them both to go to bed and get some sleep."

By some miracle, Jackson has been able to sleep.

The guard escorted him to his room and did a full sweep to ensure he had no knives, sharp objects, or medicine inside. There is nothing on the ceiling of the room that can be used to anchor a noose. The guard then notified Jackson that he'd be stationed right outside. "And don't do anything crazy like trying to drown yourself by sticking your head into the sink. We're monitoring everyone's water usage," are the guard's parting words.

Jackson simply nods, kicks off his boots, crawls atop the bed, and is asleep in minutes. It's a talent he's always had. He can sleep anywhere, in nearly any position.

He is awakened sometime later by a knock on the door. This is another talent he has too; he instantly knows when he is needed, especially if it's Abby doing the summoning.

"Come in," he calls, slowly sitting up.

Abby steps through the door. Jackson sees something on her face. It can't be called happiness because no one is happy. The notion of happiness is simply a bizarre concept that none of the Ark's inhabitants ever deserve to experience again.

"Miller is here," Abby says simply.

"What?" Jackson asks as he jumps to his feet. "Is-is this some sort of joke? You-"

"He's here," Abby says firmly. "Monty and Harper took the poison. Kane gave their spots to Miller and Bree."

Jackson grips his belly and leans forward, panting just a bit. The emotions flooding his insides are too much, even for a man used to controlling his mind. He'd left the meeting with Abby and Kane feeling resigned to his fate and sincere in his threat that as soon as he got the chance, he'd take his own life - even if it wouldn't be for years down the road. He'd been ready to just endure the future, going through life like a robot, shutting off all emotion except for a tiny portion of his brain that might continue to care for Abby. And now Abby is telling him that Nathan Miller is alive?

Jackson soon has proof. As he stands there gaping at Abby, he hears footsteps. He and Abby whirl their heads around and see Miller standing in the doorway. Miller has a small smile on his face even though his eyes suggest depths of hurt

Jackson thinks he perhaps hears Abby say 'I'll leave you two alone', and the next thing he knows, Miller is in his arms. Jackson abandons any pretense at restraint and he sobs painfully as he squeezes Miller against him.

Time loses all meaning as he continues to cling to Miller, his eyes wet. Nathan Miller is here, solid and real and strong. He has somehow been spared from death.

And yet their joyous reunion is also sullied with the fact that Miller's father is not going to be so lucky.

Niylah hugs herself as she falls back asleep. Octavia has brought her a few other provisions and comfort items – more clothing, blankets, pillows, and even some books. The next five years won't be easy, but life never has been easy. She has a place to stay and someone who will help her. She will ride out this storm.

As he stands next to Clarke, Bellamy removes the hazmat suit and places it inside the locker. He has run out of adjectives to describe the past 24 hours, but he knows he's absolutely drained. Drained. His legs and entire body feel weighed down with led. He decides he will retire to his room and – assuming that any semblance of restful, deep sleep is impossible – he will at least pass out for a while.

"Gonna try to get some sleep," he manages, looking at Clarke.

"Me too. Maybe I can just pass out for a bit," Clarke adds, and Bellamy has to again note how similar their thoughts are.

The rest of Bellamy's night (or, technically, morning) goes just as he'd planned. Glancing at the clock, he sees that he did, somehow, lose consciousness for a while. It's approaching breakfast time on the Ark now, so he throws himself into the shower. Showers automatically shut off after three minutes, but the three minutes of warm water feel almost glorious against Bellamy's aching body.

When he's finished dressing, Bellamy hears a knock upon his door. He opens it and Clarke is on the other side.

Once again, Bellamy feels his heart leap in her presence. Once again, he knows that he is not totally numb. He sees her and can vaguely understand the notion that life might not be one pile of misery after another.

And Clarke looks, he thinks, decently okay. She, too, has showered and put on clean clothing. A new day. Out of the corner of his eye, Bellamy can even see bright sunlight starting to peak through his room's window. He can hear the sound of the wind too, but it's menacing, loud.

"Clarke! Hi," he says with a hint of a smile.

His smile fades suddenly though. The look on Clarke's face. Bellamy is not sure how to interpret it. She looks like someone who is about to deliver bad news.

"Hey, is something wrong?" Bellamy asks gently. He realizes that he hasn't spoken to Octavia for a while. "Is-is something wrong with Octavia?"

"No," Clarke says. "Uh, in fact I just saw her in the hall and talked to her for a bit. She's, uh, good."

As Clarke speaks, she doesn't seem to want to meet Bellamy's eyes. She slightly shifts her weight.

"Good. So what's on your mind?" Bellamy asks. He has a sinking sensation in his gut.

Clarke looks down before meeting his eyes. "I'm not sure how to say this," she begins. "So I'll just get it out. I – uh – sometimes think I have feelings for you. And I sometimes wonder if you have them for me."

Her words feel the definition of well-rehearsed, he realizes. Bellamy opens his mouth to speak but the look Clarke gives him seems to implore him to let her finish. So he does.

"But," Clarke continues, still sounding as if she's reading from an awkward script, "I just need to say this. I can't let myself get attached to anyone. I can't even let myself feel," she adds, with a shake of her head. "Anything. Too many horrible things have happened." She meets his eyes again. "You're my best friend. Even….even our friendship feels like too much for me sometimes. I can't be anything more than a friend. To anyone."

Bellamy stands there silently. So Clarke correctly guessed what he was going to tell her yesterday. And the fact that she's here speaking these words hint at the idea that she might have returned his feelings.

But too many ghosts loom over them, haunting them. Too many deaths. All the people out there inside the stockade. All the grounders who they couldn't even dream of saving.

"I understand," Bellamy says because what else is there to say? He can't argue with her. He can't tell her that it's worth it to open your heart, to allow yourself to love, to make yourself vulnerable that way. What is this world but one heartbreak on top of another? "I understand," he repeats.

With that, Clarke stiffly nods and leaves the room.

Bellamy stands silent and unblinking, his heart plummeting to the ground.


Please let me know what you think and if you'd like more.