Chapter 5

Eve's eyes felt puffy as she blinked them open. Her neck ached with every move as she lifted her heavy head. Bright colors blurred her vision, but when it finally subsided, she found herself sitting in a bed of soil covered by patches of grass and shrubbery. A thicket of underbrush surrounded her while columns of trees trailed off into the distance.

She blinked. Where the hell was she again?

Earth, she remembered. She was on Earth, and Marcus was still on the Ark, facing extinction. Memories from the past few hours came rushing back—the dropship landing, the two-headed deer, the serpent, swinging across the river, and…Jasper! She jolted to her feet only to be yanked by an impossible force.

She froze.

A tightness appeared around her wrists and mouth. She lowered her gaze to find her arms tied behind her. Looking over her shoulder, there was a tree stretching twenty feet into the air. With a slow blink of her eyes, her dazed mind slowly put the pieces together. She was a captive.

A captive.

Eve pressed herself against the tree—suddenly very alert of the quiet and emptiness around her. She'd never been a captive before. Sure, people tried to kill her on the Ark, but they never tried bagging and gagging her. So this was new.

"Okay," she exhaled through the gag in her mouth, letting her shoulders relax. At least she wasn't dead—though, she might be soon if she didn't find a way out. The adrenaline slowly subsided with another couple of deep breaths, and the tension melted from her muscles. Her head cleared up enough for her thoughts to settle, though the dull ache at the side of her head nipped.

Alright, she thought. Here's the deal. The attacker had found them—check. Sometime after, they knocked her out—check. They brought her here, and by the noticeable and aggravating looks of things, she was indeed a captive—fucking check.

But where was Jasper? Where were they?

Her eyes searched the clearing for any sign of the young man, but the only presence was the quiet ambiance, the abundance of tall grass encasing the clearing, and an old, dead log resting a few meters from her feet. A small fire pit rested not too far off, a line of smoke escaping from its last fading embers. It'd been used recently.

Why would they build a fire at this time of day and then ditch her? It hardly made any sense, but then again, the whole planet hadn't made any sense. No one was supposed to be on Earth in the first place. Whatever the reason, they'd return for her, she was sure, and she preferred not to be around when they did. Eve sat up straight against the tree and focused on slipping her fingers into the slit within the end of her sleeve, digging for the stored blade. Marcus always found it silly, calling her paranoid, and he was probably right, but he hadn't been the one passing through halls, checking units, and waiting for someone's blade to slide between her ribs. Marcus had the advantage of hiding behind the council's sovereignty, but not her. She'd been a footsoldier just as much as the other guards.

With caution and some intricate effort, she retrieved the razor. Eve let out a muffled curse against the gag as the razor scraped against metal. They tied her with the wires she'd scavenged from the ship. Which meant they'd gone through her pockets, which meant…

Her eyes dropped to the front of her jacket. Her gun was not in its holster, and, lifting her gaze, she found her knife confiscated as well.

A roiling heat churned in her belly.

It'd been a gift from Marcus for her Guard program graduation. A carbon steel blade with a leather handle—a material next to impossible to obtain—and she'd lost it to some Grounder that was probably using it to pick food out of their teeth.

She wanted to hit something.

With the utmost concentration, she focused on cutting the wires, keeping the strokes steady so when enough of its integrity was shaved, she'd snapped it apart. She worked for a good minute, her thoughts switching between Jasper and the others. Was he alive? If he was, he'd still be injured, and taking him back to camp on her own wouldn't be a good option—or a safe one. So instead, she'd have to figure out how to treat him until he recovered enough strength to make the trip. That could take days, maybe weeks, to live in uncharted lands and survive whatever scurried through the valley—including Grounders.

Or he was dead.

Eve frowned at the thought. She just hoped the others returned safely to the drop site and weren't planning on a rescue mission. Otherwise, her day was going to get much wor—

Her thoughts came to a screeching halt. Eve's body stilled, and her breath caught in her throat. She'd been staring at the old log as she worked, not paying any real attention to it until she noticed certain parts of the wood were a dark shade of red.

The kind that came from dry blood.

She swallowed hard, and if it hadn't been for the slight rustle of leaves, she would've never heard someone step into the small clearing. Her head snapped to the left, wide eyes landing on a giant that stopped and looked back at her. He must've stood half a foot taller than her, and she was by no means a short girl. A burly, dark coat hung off his large frame and reached his legs while an animal's dark fur covered his shoulders and neck, thick red hair and beard dangling over it. A crude swipe of something black crossed his eyes, accenting the intense green as they continued to stare, his expression unreadable. She stared back, frozen.

He could kill her, and there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it.

After a few seconds, he turned away and veered to the left, sauntering towards the blood-stained log to plop himself down, letting out a tired sigh. Eve remained still, forgetting about her goal, and only watched as he stared off into the distance with heavy eyes before they drifted over to her. She flinched at the coldness in his gaze.

He smirked at her reaction and reached into his pocket to retrieve something round and red. Holding it in his left hand, his right reached into his coat around his waist, and Eve's heart dropped as he produced her serrated knife, its flawless steel glinting in the light. Then, as if it was just another kitchen knife, he used it to cut into the strange fruit.

Seriously? Eve clenched her jaw, swallowing the colorful words that threatened to spill from her mouth. The Grounder glanced in her direction and chuckled softly at the annoyance etched across her face. Dick.

As he continued to cut slices and pop them into his mouth, the crunching an incessant reminder of her grueling hunger, she redirected her attention to the task at hand. Her movements were minimal, and she cut slowly to avoid noise, but the blade continued to slip from her grasp, the nicked part of her finger coating her progress with blood. After a few minutes, she felt the wire thinning. With just a couple more earnest slides, the wire would snap. She was sure of it.

But Eve stopped, realizing the sounds of crunching had disappeared. She turned her head to see the Grounder staring at her again, a piece of fruit protruding from under his cheek as he'd stopped mid-chew. His face was like stone, indecipherable, and cold. Her heart jumped as he rose to his feet, fruit in one hand and knife in the other, and made his way toward her. His steps were quiet for someone so large.

She kept her eyes on the ground as he stepped over her legs and then crouched in front of her, the loud crunch returning as he chewed. Then, when Eve didn't look back at him, the tip of the blade appeared beneath her chin, and he lifted it until her gaze met his.

Above the copper beard, his face held a dark tan, the skin looking rough and worn—but he didn't look old. A deep scar cut over his left cheekbone, and a few more collected around the corner of his eyebrows—fighting scars, she presumed. The only thing that really surprised her was the color of his eyes, so vivid and green, giving off a false sense of benevolence. They trailed across her face, taking in her features as if he'd never seen anything like them before. His peering gaze stopped at her left temple, and she wondered if she was bleeding. Then it lowered to her lips, his head cocking to the side to bask in whatever thought he was having before down her neck and onto her bosom, carelessly leering.

Eve narrowed her eyes at him and cleared her throat.

The Grounder looked back at her so quickly that she flinched. After a moment, a smirk pulled at his mouth. Her heart nearly jumped out of her chest when he lifted his hand to her face, the fruit resting within his firm grip. His dry lips stretched into a friendly grin, his teeth, surprisingly, a white color with minimal staining. And he had a complete set. Odd. Maybe he wasn't that much of a fighter after all.

Or maybe he was a really good one.

She flinched again as he reached forward. His little finger hooked around the gag and then pulled it off. She licked the inner corners of her mouth, tasting the faint bitterness. Eve opened her mouth to talk when he gestured his hand forward again, making her eyes land on the fruit. It was almost perfectly round beside the humps on the bottom and the dipped top that contained a stem; light spots freckled over its smooth skin colored with a blend of yellow and red. She wasn't sure what it was, but it made her stomach scream.

She couldn't resist.

Ignoring the Grounder's dirty fingers, Eve leaned forward to take a bite, but her teeth sank into nothing when he pulled it away.

An amused grin stretched across his face.

She scowled. She was not in a playing mood. The idea of kneeing him in the groin crossed her mind. Instead, she pressed the small razor against the cable, insisting it snap, but it didn't. No matter how hard she tried.

Maybe her plan wasn't going to work…

The Grounder continued to smile and made no indication that he knew anything was amiss and even offered the fruit to her once more. She didn't bother with it. Instead, she gave him a dirty look and leaned away. Fool me once, asshole.

His cocky grin fell into a closed-lip smile. He bowed his head, and though the apologetic gesture seemed sincere, Eve wasn't buying it. He still had that mischievous twinkle in his eye.

But she was hungry as hell.

If he tried it again, she'd just knee him where it hurt, she decided. And hopefully, she wouldn't die in the process. This time, the fruit remained in place, and her teeth sank in, the crunching loud in her ears before she pulled away. The piece was small and hard but well worth the effort as juices filled her mouth with a dewy, sweet taste. "God, that's good," she moaned, resting her head against the tree. She couldn't remember the last time she had something so sweet.

The Grounder watched her with a curious expression as she chewed, seemingly basking in her joy. He watched her lips as they moved, and Eve arched an eyebrow at him, not sure if she liked that look. Then, swallowing the last bit of apple, she looked to her left where he'd arrived and then back at him. "You haven't happened to see a tall, gangly fellow with goggles, have you?" She asked. The Grounder didn't answer, simply continued leering at her. "He's got a spear in his chest. Can't miss him."

No response.

Maybe English wasn't a thing down here.

She pressed the razor against the wire again. It was going to give any moment now, just a bit more—

The tip of her knife appeared under her jaw again, the steel digging slightly into her skin. The Grounder watched as she remained still, swallowing hard when he dragged the tip carefully down her throat. Her skin crawled as the sharp edge pricked lightly and trailed over her collarbone, then down her chest. The thought of him burying the knife into her at any second kept her on edge. But the movement stopped over her left breast. She risked a glance at him.

His eyelids were lowered, and his expression shifted from leering curiosity to something different. Something darker. And then an idea popped into his head—she could see it—one that left him looking just as hungry as she felt.

Tossing the apple aside, he reached forward and gripped her camisole—or what was left of it—and pulled it. She watched in horror as he sliced it in half with a quick, upward swing of the knife. Her mouth dropped in shock. She lifted her eyes to find not a drop of regret on his face. Instead, he frowned at the sight of her brassiere. Her eyebrows knitted together as she saw the ill intentions flicker behind those green eyes, their benevolence a distant memory.

"No," she warned. He ignored her and reached forward. his fingers digging between her breasts as he gripped her bra. "No!" Eve struggled against his grip, squirming from side to side. She attempted to kick him off, but he was ahead of her, his knees bending over her legs to pin them down as if he'd done it a hundred times before. He struggled to keep her steady, and when he couldn't, his elbow shot out and knocked her across the face, sending her into a daze.

Eve blinked, the inner walls of her skull feeling as tight as a balloon. Fuck, that hurt.

He shoved her back against the tree to strip her. Lifting her head, she pushed through the haze, and with all her might, she forced the razor against the thick wire.

SNAP!

Her eyes shot wide open. Her hands slipped out from the entanglement, and on instinct, she reached for the Grounder's arm. With a firm thrust, she led the blade into his neck. She flinched back as blood sprayed across her face. His head lowered, his hand pawing at his throat to stifle the leak, but the blade interfered. His beard quickly became four shades redder, and his coat glistened as blood poured down the front.

Frozen, she watched as the Grounder struggled to breathe. The sounds of gurgling and gushing would haunt her forever, but what she saw next shocked her even more. He lifted his head, and the expression on his face wasn't what she expected. He was…calm.

He grinned at her, his smile wide and unrestrained as if he didn't have a single care in the world. And then he fell to the side with a loud thud, the dust bursting around him.

The air was still, an eerie silence enveloping the world as Eve stared at the dead body. The Grounder's hand remained clutched at his throat while his vacant eyes stared off into the other world. His smile no longer. Eve forced herself to look away, but the image followed as if it'd been engraved into her retinas.

Then she realized she couldn't breathe.

With a loud gasp, she took shallow, sporadic breaths while the world morphed into a tunnel, a thick fog consuming her mind.

I killed him…I killed him, I killed him, I—

Eve nearly retched at the sight of her hands when she lifted them. They shined with a vibrant red like she had dipped them in a river of blood. So much blood. How could there possibly be so much blood?

A sound resonated nearby, and her face snapped toward it. For a moment, she feared the body had reanimated and returned with a vengeance, but what she saw was far worse. Standing halfway out from the underbrush stood the man from the river—peering as he took in the scene. He was almost identical to the dead Grounder except that he lacked hair and wore a mask that caged his lower face. He wasn't looking at her—not yet—but at his fallen comrade. Then, after a few seconds, his stone demeanor shattered. A murderous glare darted her way, and she swallowed hard, her stomach twisting into a knot as he stepped into the clearing. His stature was the same as his friend's, but he was slightly heftier beneath animal fur and leather.

Adrenaline shot up her spine, and it yanked her onto her feet. Her legs felt like noodles, but Eve managed to bend down to retrieve her knife from the Grounder's throat, ignoring the sound it made as she ripped it out. She limped a few steps back and held the blade firmly in front of her, if only to show she wasn't going down without a fight.

Or perhaps that was just the adrenaline talking.

He took it as an invitation as he swiftly reached behind his waist and unsheathed a large blade that could've passed for a sword.

She froze. "Oh," she breathed. The twelve-inch blade in her hand had suddenly become a pocketknife.

The silver of his blade flashed as he swung at the air with impossible proficiency before ending his stride into a balanced stance, his knees bending and knife swerving in his left hand.

He was ready to fight.

And she was ready to start begging.

"Listen," she attempted, glancing around her surroundings. Maybe she could run for it. "I don't know if you speak English…but I was defending myself. It wasn't personal." Okay, maybe it was personal. He was trying to rape her, after all. But like his friend, the Grounder gave no indication that he understood. Instead, he stepped forward, and when he effortlessly switched hands, she realized she was screwed. Entirely and utterly screwed. He would gut her if he got the chance and probably eat her insides by the crazy look he gave her.

Eve thought of running, but with her busted leg, she knew he'd catch up. That is if he didn't fling whatever was in his hand into her back. Before she knew it, he was only a meter or two away, and when he lunged at her, she shuffled back, gripping her knife tighter and preparing for a follow-up attack. But instead, he remained at a distance. He did it a few more times, and it became clear he was toying with her. He baited her, wanting her to attack out of frustration or anger, so he'd swoop in, counter, and finish her off.

But little did he know that she was nearly shitting herself, and she wouldn't be the one to initiate a damn thing. So keeping her distance had become the most plausible idea.

God help her.

They played a slow rhythm of cat-and-mouse until he became so frustrated that he began swinging wildly, and she worked desperately to avoid those swings. His technique was astounding; he turned swiftly with no hesitation, and each strike aimed to cut at something important, whether it was her neck, abdomen, or thighs. His movements were like lightning, and no attack was wasted as he quickly recovered from missing and flowed into another strike. She leaned away and stepped back accordingly, watching his every move—hoping he'd grow tired at some point and give her some kind of opening to disable him and make her escape into the forest.

But her time and luck ran out as she lost her footing on a dip in the ground, and as she fumbled to regain her balance, the Grounder lunged forward and cut at her upper arm. It sliced through like butter.

She fell to the ground, and then it all happened so fast. Eve looked up. The Grounder closed the distance between them, his blade held high in his hands, his face engulfed with rage, and without another thought, he brought it down to drive it into her chest. At that moment, a paralyzing terror filled her, knowing she was going to die violently and alone, so she never understood why or how she managed to feel the soil under her hand. It crumbled into thick clots as she grabbed a handful. And then flung it at his face.

The Grounder roared. He pawed at the dirt in his eyes, and as he struggled, Eve caught sight of her pistol stuffed into the front of his pants, the metal a smooth and shiny contrast to his tattered clothing. She lunged forward, yanking it from his person before leaning back.

The sound of the gun going off was deafening. The blast trailed off into the woods before leaving a dead silence in its tracks. Eve stilled, staring wide-eyed at the Grounder. His head was tilted back over his shoulders while a small line of smoke steamed from it. She held the gun tightly in one hand, her knuckles turning white, even after the Grounder's stiff body fell back with a loud thud.

Everything was quiet again beside the sound of her heart beating against her ribcage. Her breathing was surprisingly steady, but her vision tunneled again. The gun was much too heavy in her trembling hand, so she let it fall. Eve knew what was happening. She discussed mental shock in her training seminars many times and the methods to overcome it. But now, as she sat in the dirt, a thickness consuming her mind, she couldn't think of any of it. The methods, the training…it was beyond her, and the only thing that was vaguely comprehensible was the thought of running. Getting as far away as possible before someone else showed up.

With a painful struggle, she collected her gun and knife, nearly toppling over, and then rose to her feet, her arms held out to keep her steady. With a few slow and cumbersome steps, she made her way to the shrubbery.

And then she took off without any idea where to go.

oOo

Branches and their rough leaves scraped across Eve's face as she trudged through the thicket—strands of her hair yanking from her scalp as they got caught in the frenzy, but she paid no mind. She just had to get away. Far away.

She continued on, forcing her way through the unrelenting bush, her knife in one hand and gun in the other to kill anything that approached her. A noise crackled, and Eve looked over her shoulder, her wide and frantic eyes searching for the source of the sound. She saw nothing but the trail she left behind. Were there more of them? Were they following her?

Her foot caught on an exposed root, and with a yelp, she went flailing forward. The scent of moistened dirt was the last thing she remembered before her mind and body gave out.

I won't let you down, her own words echoed from the darkness.

I know you won't, Marcus's voice appeared.

Protect my son, and you'll receive your pardon, the Chancellor's baritone voice followed, along with Doctor Griffin's gentle one. "And my daughter," she said. "She's all I have left."

And then all the voices appeared at once, overlapping each other like a cacophony of broken records.

Eve's eyes shot open, silencing the tumult.

She made promises…the kind that couldn't be broken.

The sun had moved an inch in the sky by the time she found herself sitting on her knees, her frosted breath disappearing into the air as she stared off into the distance. She was tired. More tired than she'd ever been in her short life. But Marcus needed her alive, and she had people to protect. She couldn't do either by lying in the dirt, letting herself soak in her own self-pity, waiting to be killed off. So she shoved the pain to the back of her mind—locking it away and hoping it wouldn't eat her from the inside.

Keeping her eyes and ears open for anything lurking around, she shrugged off her jacket and set it aside. Then, she removed her ruined camisole and wiped the dirt and blood from her face and torso. As she did her best to ignore the copper scent, she analyzed the forest. Nothing other than the bush stretched ahead, but as she spent more time sitting there, taking more notice of the area, she spotted signs of disturbances; twigs were snapped and hanging from branches, small areas of grass were flattened, and dry leaves were turned over or crushed. Wiping the cloth over her neck, she eyed the trail of marks that led into the distance—the remnants of something or someone passing through. Tucking the newly reformed rag into her belt, she slipped her arms back into her cool jacket and zipped it up. Her gaze dropped to her hands. They were a shade of red.

The image of her hands coated in blood flashed before her eyes, the memory feeling so distant—like it'd happened to someone else.

But it hadn't.

Her body lurched forward and dispensed all the contents from her stomach.

Dragging her sleeve over her mouth, Eve inhaled through her nose and rose to her feet, swaying slightly. She brushed the dirt off her trousers and then picked up her weapons. She placed them in their appropriate hiding spots, and with a deep breath, Eve made her way through the forest to follow the track marks.

She'd find Jasper…or die trying.

Another footprint in the soil led her east, and the further the path went, the less blood she found, meaning Jasper wasn't bleeding to death. So they either left the spear in his chest or covered the wound—which didn't make any sense. Why would they do that? Why keep him alive? And if they wanted him alive, why move him? Had they taken him somewhere to be treated?

Eve scoffed at the thought. Hospitality wasn't something they were familiar with. She was sure of it. She followed the tracks until she heard the low, rushing sound of a nearby stream. She frowned. If they'd gone with the water, she'd lose their tracks. It could take her hours to find again. Grumbling, she continued. Her leg hadn't felt any better since Clarke last checked it, but it didn't feel worse. Which meant she could keep going for those hours.

Then the hairs on the back of her neck stood at the sound of voices nearby. She dropped into a crouch and hid behind the bushes. Resting her hand around her gun, she listened carefully. The voices grew louder, and their heavy footsteps grew closer, making her grip tighten. The dread of another bloody confrontation was gnawing at her. She didn't think she could survive another one.

"It's called cutting-sign. Fourth-year Earth Skills. He's good," a familiar male voice appeared—Wells's voice. Eve released a breath. Oh, thank God.

Without another thought, she rose to her feet and hurried over to them, ignoring the annoying sore in her leg. In hindsight, she should've accounted for everyone in the group instead of the few she managed to hear. At least then, she wouldn't have found herself a few minutes later tumbling down the rocks, throwing her hands up to either side of her head when the barrel end of a worn-looking piston greeted her.

Maybe that Grounder had hit her across the head a little too hard.

Eve swallowed hard and then spoke in a calm, non-threatening voice. "Bellamy."

He stood tall, almost as tall as Wells. His dark hair was no longer slicked back but ruffled over his forehead, and the stolen Guard's uniform was gone, replaced by a dark blue jacket and shirt. He held the weapon steady as he'd been trained; his dark eyebrows furrowed deeply as his right eye looked through the iron sights. His strong jaw remained tight, giving no indication he wouldn't put a bullet between her eyes. But at the sound of his name, Bellamy's hawk-like stare lifted. His neck straightened, and shoulders lowered as his eyes landed on her and then slowly widened.

Eve couldn't help but shift under his gaze. A mixture of confusion and shock was plastered across his handsome face as his eyes dragged down her figure, reminding her of her disheveled state. She looked dirty—felt dirty, in more ways than one. Not to mention, her meticulous hair was now a rat's nest of tangles, and her only set of clothes were stained beyond repair. Bellamy's lips parted, and she stiffened, realizing he was going to say something to her. The thought of dashing into the nearby bush and darting off again suddenly became a good option.

"Marie!" Clarke's voice cut through the air instead of his gruff one, and his mouth snapped shut once Clarke made her way downstream, her boots pitter-pattering over the small rocks. She stopped next to Bellamy, turning to him with a pointed look, and then shoved his arms down with one swift downward swipe of her arm. "She's with us," she declared, the quick glare of his eyes bouncing right off her stern scowl. Then, scrunching her nose at him, she turned, the flip of her hair almost smacking him across the face, before approaching Eve with a bright smile. "You're alive!"

Eve watched as Bellamy stowed his gun into the back of his waistband. Years of working in the Guard taught her to act in control, even when she wasn't, so she returned his stare with indifference, though her stomach still quivered with all sorts of emotions she usually smothered with copious amounts of alcohol. Her cold, bloody hands found a home in her pockets.

"Where are the others," Eve asked Clarke when she didn't see Octavia or Monty idling about.

"They're fine. We left them back at the dropship..."

Eve turned to her. "What?"

Clarke glanced over to the group with a wary expression before leaning in. "We found blood," she whispered. "A lot of blood on the way here."

Eve's face fell as a weight landed in the pit of her stomach. "Jasper?" she asked in a low voice, knowing full well the answer. Clarke confirmed with a slight nod. She remembered the old log—there was so much blood on it. If he wasn't dead yet, he would be soon. Taking a deep breath, Eve looked past Clarke and out into the forest, some part of her hoping she'd miraculously spot him nearby. Perhaps just lounging around and not bleeding to death. From the looks of the tracks she followed, the grounders traveled to and fro, meaning they did carry the boy and then dumped him somewhere. Somewhere close.

The sound of heavy footsteps caught her attention, and she turned her head to see Wells approaching. Bellamy remained at a distance, his arms folded tightly across his chest with an irked look on his face. What the hell did he have to be angry about? He wasn't the one bleeding out there.

"You let her come out here?" She scolded Wells. "Are you kidding me?"

Wells lowered his head, ashamed. "I tried to stop her."

"We came to save you and Jasper," Clarke shot back as-a-matter-of-factly, her arms folding across her chest. "The least you could do is be grateful."

Eve glared at Clarke so hard it'd been a wonder the girl hadn't combusted into flames.

"We figured we'd have safety in numbers," Wells cut in, quickly stepping between the two girls. Eve's steely gaze flicked onto him, watching with irritation as he gave Clarke an I'll-take-care-of-this glance. "And Finn found a trail leading that way." He jerked his chin towards Collins, who standing idly behind Bellamy, still examining the nearby vegetation. "We think it's where they took him."

Eve opened her mouth to argue when a wave of nausea hit her like a train.

"Whoa," Wells held out his hands as she swayed to the side. "You okay? Do you need to sit down?"

Eve shook her head. "I just need a second," she said breathlessly. She took a deep breath through her nose and exhaled. The world spun a little slower.

"Here, sit down."

He extended his arm to her, and she clamped onto it, pulling him closer. "This place," she whispered to him, low enough so only he could hear. She looked crazy, she knew, but by now, she probably was, "we're not ready for it. None of us are."

His dark eyebrows furrowed. His mouth opened to respond when his eyes dropped to her hand on his forearm. He swallowed hard and looked back at her with a little more fear in his eyes. A bird flew through the bushes, and Eve started, her eyes darting in that direction. Once she was sure it was nothing, she turned back to him. "We need to get back to the dropship and contact the Ark."

Wells looked at her for a moment and then nodded. "We will," he assured, "once we find Jasper."

She shook her head. "You don't understand. We need to get out of here before —"

"Oh, my God, your arm," exclaimed Clarke, grabbing Eve's arm. "What happened?"

Eve blinked, having forgotten the gash. And now it stung like a motherfucker.

"What do you think?" Bellamy retorted, catching everyone's attention. He appeared genuinely annoyed as he shrugged his shoulders at them. "Grounders," he answered as if it were the most obvious answer.

"You saw them?" Clarke gasped, turning back to her with widened eyes.

"I—" Eve paused. She blinked as the others stared at her with bewilderment, waiting for a response that she struggled to articulate. The Grounders' faces flashed before her eyes, and she knew she couldn't repeat those details without placing a label with the word killer across her forehead. It was one thing to press the button, and it was another to end up with red hands.

Her stomach churned at the thought. "I did," she relented, hoping they wouldn't pry.

"Did they follow you?" It'd been Collins to ask, and Eve turned to him with a glare.

"No," she replied with a clipped tone, not appreciating the concern in his voice—as if he wanted to know if she fucked up and led them there. "They're gone, and I escaped.".

Placated, Collins's shoulders relaxed, and he let out a small breath. He turned away and continued examining the rocks on the ground. Watching him leave, she caught Bellamy's gaze again, his expression like stone as he stared back at her. He looked bulkier than before, more intimidating, as his biceps bulged through his blue jacket.

"That needs to be cleaned and bandaged," Clarke informed, bringing Eve out of her thoughts.

"I know," she said, turning away. "I'll take care of it. But you need to go back. All of you."

"We're not going back without Jasper."

"I'm not asking. I'll drag you back if I have to."

Clarke folded her arms across her chest and raised her chin in defiance. "I'd like to see you try."

Fine by me.

Eve took a step forward, ready to grab Doctor Griffin's daughter, when Collins shouted over to them, "hey! Look at this!"

Clarke's stern expression melted, and their confrontation was all but forgotten by the young blonde as she turned away and hurried over to Collin's side to inquire what he found. Left to stare at empty space, Eve let out a sigh and massaged her eyes to rub out their heaviness.

They weren't going to listen to her. Why would they? She was nobody. Just some has-been with babysitting duties.

"Eve," Wells said softly after a moment.

She cleared her throat and straightened herself out. "What is it?"

"Clarke just wants to help."

And there he was again, at Miss Griffin's side, ready to protect her at all costs. Eve wondered what kind of lame explanation he'd come up with for Clarke if she told him that none of this would've happened if she'd listened to her warning yesterday. She could hear him now—'she just wants to help,' 'she did what she thought was right,' 'give her a break, she's doing her best'—all good intentions leading to a wrong decision.

Defeated, she agreed, "You're right. You guys haven't died so far, so that's something." He smiled at the silver lining. "I'm glad to see you. Really. Well—" she glanced to the side "—most of you."

Wells frowned and took a step closer. "Believe me," he whispered, "I didn't want them to come. He's got a gun, and Clarke figured he'd be useful. Him and Murphy."

Eve nodded. "We'll deal with it when we get back, okay?"

Wells nodded in agreement, his eyes flicking over her shoulder. A frown pulled at his lips. "Let's go see what they found."

Letting Wells pass her by, Eve rolled her shoulders back, relieving a bit of their tension, and followed him. She quickly discovered why he looked a little put off. Collins and Clarke were crouched low to examine something…and awfully close to one another. Chancing a look at Wells, she could see it was killing him inside. Her pace slowed as they went to pass Bellamy. She eyed him as he did her, the distance slowly growing smaller between them. Would he try to talk to her? What would she say when all she wanted to do was pretend he didn't exist?

Bellamy took a step towards her, only to be cut off by Wells. He stared Bellamy down with a warning look.

A look of surprised amusement crossed Bellamy's face. He glanced at her before turning back to Wells. "You got a problem, Jaha?"

"No," Wells replied sternly, "as long as you keep your distance."

Bellamy raised an eyebrow. "And if I don't?"

"Then I got a problem."

"Wells," she called, eyeing Murphy as he circled around him like a predator sneaking up on its prey.

After a few minutes, Bellamy scoffed and then moved to step past him, but Wells blocked him with his body. "If you wanna get to her, you'll have to get through me."

"That can be arranged," Murphy chimed in, a sly smirk pulling at his face.

Bellamy glanced over Wells's shoulder, looking at Murphy before over at Eve. His brown eyes trailed down her body before landing on her injured leg. A muscle in his cheek flexed. "Relax," he blurted, turning to the other boys with a friendly grin that felt anything but. "We're all friends here." Bellamy turned back to her, his mouth was smiling, but his eyes weren't. "Isn't that right, Marie?"

Eve didn't answer.

Bellamy smirked, giving Wells a once-over before walking off. Murphy lingered a few seconds longer, eyeing them both, before following the older boy.

She limped up to Wells with a stern scowl. "Have you lost your mind," she snapped. "What the hell was that?"

"You know what," was his reply, not at all looking regretful. "I won't let him hurt you."

Eve gave a deadpan expression. "Wells," she said. "Look at me. I can handle it. What I can't handle is you and Clarke putting yourselves in danger."

"From the moment we landed, we've been in danger. There's no way around it."

She closed her eyes and took a breath, reeling in her frustration. "Please," she pleaded, opening her eyes. "We have to go back before any more of those fuckers show up."

A distant moan resounded from nearby.

"What the hell was that?" Murphy's voice followed.

Everyone turned to the thicket.

"Now would be a good time to take out that gun," Clarke said aloud before turning to Eve with an expectant look.

She nodded in return. With a sharp pull and release, Eve loaded her weapon. Whatever waited for them up ahead, she was ready for.

Murphy scowled. "Where the hell did she get a gun?"

"Keep it down," Bellamy scolded him, shooting Murphy a dirty look, and any intention of continuing his whining disappeared. He took one last glance at Eve's pistol and then turned away to grumble under his breath. Eve couldn't stop the corners of her mouth from pulling back. She chanced a glance at Bellamy and was met by a set of deep, brown eyes that held every sense of authority, the kind that could silence someone of the likes of John Murphy. The motion was subtle, almost indiscernible, but Bellamy gave her an assuring nod. Her smile dropped, and her eyes narrowed. She trusted him as far as she could throw him.

"Can you walk?" Clarke asked, catching her attention.

Eve blinked, settling her nerves, and then answered with a firm nod. "I'll lead," she said. "Stay close behind me and don't get separated." Clarke nodded back, turning to the forest with a set jaw. Eve did the same, and just as she took a step forward, so did Bellamy, cutting her off.

"No," he said with a tone that left little room for objection. "I'll lead. You'll cover our six with Murphy." He jerked his chin towards the back of the group.

Her brows furrowed, lips parting to protest, but before she could say anything, he had already disappeared—gun in hand and the leaves of the shrub swinging in his wake. Clarke offered her a wary glance but quickly followed suit along with Collins, clearly not wanting to waste any time. Watching them leave, Eve held back an annoyed growl and then fell into step behind Wells as he dashed forward.

She wondered who she'd need to kill to get a drink.

oOo

It was a grueling five hundred meters until the group finally came to a halt. Eve nearly collided with Wells. She stepped to the side and bent at the waist, inhaling deep breaths. Her chest was on fire, and her head felt like it was going to explode at any moment.

And to think she wanted to do this alone.

Once she managed some air, she ignored Murphy's curious stare and limped away, not at all interested in interacting with Murphy unless it involved pummelling him into the dirt.

"What is it?" she whispered to Wells, standing at his side. He didn't answer, only stood there in shock. She turned to see what he was gawking at, and instantly, the same expression fell over her own face. Out in the open field, a large, mangled tree rested in the center…with a shirtless Jasper crudely strung upon it. His wrists were bound over his head, and his thighs were roped around the bark of the tree. The low sounds of his groans and moans filled the silence, the palpable horror draping over them like a blanket.

Clarke rushed forward. "Jasper," she called to him with a quiver in her voice. "Oh, my God, Jasper!"

The blood rushed back to Eve's brain, and she panicked as everyone quickly moved forward. The bushes and trees towered around them, and the field spanned into the distance for who-knew-how-far. Anything could be hiding in the underbrush, waiting to leap out and attack. Her eyes darted in every direction to scan the field, limping forward to keep up with them as they continued with impetuous eagerness. "Wait. Wait, Clarke," she urged, trying to keep her voice down. "We haven't cleared the area! It's not—"

It was too late. Clark screamed as the ground beneath her crumbled and sent her falling into a giant hole. Bellamy lunged forward, and no one moved for a long time, their breaths catching in their throats as they all thought the same thing—she was dead.

But when Bellamy didn't move, his outstretched arm trembling under strain, Eve gasped, "he's got her!"

And with that, Wells darted across the field. He shouted urgently at Bellamy to pull her up. Collins and Murphy dropped to either side of Bellamy, reaching down into the pit. Eve arrived just in time to see Clarke being dragged out and onto the grass, unscathed and unharmed. Releasing a sigh of relief, she turned away and ran her hand over her hair. She wasn't sure much more of this she could take.

By the time she turned back, Wells was stuffing Bellamy's pistol into his own waistband. She looked over at Bellamy, who was none the wiser as he brushed the grass from his trousers. Eve blinked, and when Wells noticed her staring, he gave her a nod. One she stiffly returned.

With Collins's help, Clarke rose to her feet, dusting the flakes of grass from her clothes, and without another beat, she looked up to return her gaze to the only thing that mattered. "We need to get him down," she said.

"I'll climb up and cut the lines," Collins offered before making his way around the pit to the tree.

"Yeah, yeah. I'm with you," Wells agreed as he stared up at the tree, motioning to follow.

"No," Collins blurted, echoing Eve's thought. "Stay with Clarke and Eve…and watch him." He gave Bellamy a wary glance before his eyes landed on Murphy, jerking his chin at him. "You, come with me."

Murphy glanced at Bellamy, who, after a few seconds, gave him an approving nod. As Murphy followed after Collins, Eve narrowed her eyes on the older boy. Murphy was taking orders from Bellamy—that much was clear, but why? Why did Bellamy have power over Murphy? It'd only been two days since they landed. Did he know him? No, he couldn't have. Bellamy hadn't been a prisoner. Then what was it?

Something happened while she was gone. Something she wasn't sure she'd like.

"There's a poultice on his wound," Clarke pointed out.

"Medicine?" Wells suggested. Large spears protruded from the pit as Eve peeked into it—ones that would've impaled and killed Clarke. "Why would they save his life just to string him up as live bait?"

"Maybe what they're trying to catch likes his dinner to be breathing," Bellamy answered, his voice trailing off. She could feel his stare on her, so she looked in the other direction to survey the area.

"Maybe what they're trying to catch is us," Finn remarked.

A solemn silence washed over the group. Clarke shifted uncomfortably, her gaze dropping to the hole, and Bellamy stiffened, his back immediately straightening as his eyes began to search the field. Eve looked up at Jasper, and the memory of being tied against a tree, like him, though not as crudely, flickered across her eyes.

No. They weren't.

Heads turned in her direction, and after a moment, she realized the thought had slipped through her lips. Shifting her weight, Eve cleared her throat. "They weren't," she reiterated. "Otherwise, they would've been here. Waiting for us." Not a quarter-mile away… lying dead in the dirt.

Wary eyes trailed over the ample space around them, everyone's except Bellamy's. Instead, his firm gaze landed on her hands with an impassive expression. Then they flicked up to her face and instantly softened. She practically scoffed at him. As if he actually cared. As if he wouldn't throw her to the wolves at the first chance he needed. She placed her hand back into her pockets and turned away.

"You said they were gone," Murphy said over to Eve, his hand gripping the vines lining the tree trunk. "Gone where? Because if they're planning on coming back anytime soon, then I say we get the hell outta here before we end up like kabobs, too."

"We leave with Jasper or not at all," Clarke growled, shooting Murphy a warning glare.

"Oh, yeah?" Murphy challenged, arching an eyebrow. His foot dropped from the tree and back onto the ground, his body turning to face her.

"Enough," Bellamy huffed, making Murphy stop. "Less talking, more working."

Murphy shot a dirty look at Clarke, and then, grumbling under his breath, he heaved himself up until he found a spot hovering over Jasper to begin cutting the ropes around his wrists. Clarke met Bellamy's gaze. She stared at him warily for a moment before giving him a slight nod of gratitude which he returned. Then, she stepped away to find a spot near the tree, her neck craning to watch the boys' progress. Wells and Eve followed.

"Marie."

Eve stopped, her skin crawling at the sound of her middle name. She could see Wells's back stiffen and shoulders tense. She slowly turned to face Bellamy.

"It's Marie, right?" he asked. As if he didn't know.

"Right," she replied coolly.

A small smile stretched across his lips. "Well," he continued, his brown eyes roving nonchalantly over the nearby bushes. "Seein' as we're the only two people with guns and the princess almost died…we should clear the perimeter." His eyes found hers and settled there. "Together."

Eve swallowed hard at the thought of being alone with him. After a year of pretending like he never existed—which she was sure he had done too—she wasn't too thrilled with the idea. Plus, he didn't have a gun. Wells made sure of that. Going with him would expose that reality, another thing she wanted to avoid.

Bellamy waited, that devilish smirk creeping across his lips daring her to take the bait. But, instead, she stared at him for a long time, her eyes narrowing as she wondered what game he was playing.

"No, we shouldn't split up like that," Wells argued, stepping forward.

Bellamy's expression hardened. "No one asked you, Jaha."

Wells shook his head, completely ignoring the death stare he was receiving from someone who could very well snap his neck within a few seconds. "It's too risky."

"I agree," Eve added, nodding as she did. "I'll stand guard here. And you can take the other side. That way, we've got all sides covered."

He stared at her for a long moment, clearly annoyed. "Right," he finally said. Then, with a set jaw and a glare in Wells's direction, he turned on his heel and walked away, leaving Eve with a look of shock etched across her face.

Did he just give up?

She watched as he made his way around the pit towards the other side and then stopped to watch Collins and Murphy cut at the ropes. He looked back at her a little too calmly for someone not getting their way. Bellamy didn't back down—ever—so why hadn't he put up more of a fight?

He was up to something. Eve could feel it.

oOo

Clarke watched Finn and Murphy cut at the ropes encasing Jasper while Wells and Eve stood to the side. He was updating her on the progress of their camp. They formed a latrine, began harvesting, and he left instructions to start building a wall for security. A great relief to her ears. "We found a water supply not too far from camp," he continued. "So collecting it… won't be…a problem," his voice trailed off as his eyes settled on her neckline.

Eve furrowed her brows. "What?"

Wells pressed his lips together and gestured to her neck. "You've got…I think you're bleeding."

Her hand snapped up to touch her neck, instantly feeling wetness right under the collar of her jacket. Then, bringing her hand into view, red was smeared across her fingers, trailing down the lines in between, and, though the amount was small, her mind couldn't help but recall how much had actually been there an hour ago.

The sight, the coppery scent…their faces.

Her stomach twisted so hard she would have retched if she had had anything to expel.

Keeping her face still, she simply wiped it off against her thigh, ignoring Wells's quiet look of concern. She zipped her jacket up to its limit, the fabric tightening around her throat.

"Are you okay?" he asked in a gentle voice. "If you need Clarke to—"

"It's not mine," she whispered.

There was silence on his part, but she could still feel his eyes on her. She turned away and continued looking out into the distance, keeping watch for anything going bump in the bushes.

"Wanna talk about it?" he asked.

"No." Eve folded her arms across her chest. No, she didn't want to talk about how she was nearly raped and butchered on the second day on the ground. Instead, she just wanted to return to camp, get some sleep, and forget it ever happened. "Let's just get Jasper and get back to camp as soon as we can." Wells's concerned gaze lingered on her a bit longer, clearly contemplating on prying if just for the sake of helping her, but he knew better. In the year that she'd known him after his father decided to have his son trained—much to Wells's discontent—, the answer to his question had remained the same. It wouldn't change now. Not ever.

He spoke after a long while. "I didn't want to bring this up until we got back…but there's something you should know."

"What is it?"

He hesitated. "Wristbands are being removed."

Her face snapped toward him. "What?"

Wells nodded, regrettably. "They got mine." He raised his arm to show the missing metal band with the only thing in its place, the two tiny pricks from the sensors.

"They? Who's they?"

With a slight nod of his head, Wells pointed across the large pit towards the one person who had turned her world upside since day one. "Bellamy and his followers. He wants the Ark to think we're dead so they won't come down. He's convinced everyone we don't need the Ark." He shook his head. "It's chaos."

His followers?

"How many?" When he didn't answer, she asked again, "how many?"

"...twenty-four. Maybe more."

Eve closed her eyes, letting that hit sink in. That was a quarter of the population, and it could be half by the time they returned to camp.

Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes. "Most of them still have them on," she said, grasping at straws. "Meaning they're not fully convinced. So, we'll talk to them when we get back to camp." Yes, that's what they would do, and everything would be fine. The Ark would land sooner or later…

"Clarke and I've tried," he shook his head. "They won't listen."

"That's because they're angry. But after they see what happened to Jasper, they'll be scared and realize their only hope of making it down here is the Ark."

Wells sighed, running a hand over his head before dropping it at his side. He looked across the field and then turned to her with an exasperated gesture of his hand. "And what about him? He's taken control of the camp and is letting people do whatever the hell they want."

Her eyes were trained on Bellamy, watching him as he observed Collins and Murphy work, his neck craned and arms folded across his chest. He was a problem now—a real problem—not just for her, but for everyone that dreamed of ever coming to the ground. "I'll take care of him," she assured, straightening her back. "You just focus on watching your back. And Clarke's." Wells didn't say a word, but she could tell that he nodded after a moment and turned away to watch the others.

Eve was still leering at Bellamy when his head turned and his brown eyes locked with hers. He stared back with an unreadable expression, but she didn't break eye contact. Instead, she just stared, thinking about what it'd take to get rid of him. He was disarmed, thanks to Wells, but he was still strong, physically and politically. Moreover, he had followers now, people like Murphy who shared his views, and if most of them were the older and stronger prisoners, then she would definitely be outpowered.

She'd need to get him alone, she decided, and either show him the error of his ways…or take him out.

As Eve was thinking of ways to make him disappear, a loud shuffling resonated from the forest. Everyone turned their heads to the open area behind the tree, eyeing the grass field.

"What the hell was that?" Murphy turned his head at an awkward angle to look over his shoulder.

"Grounders?" Bellamy asked, turning his body to face the field, his fingers twitching at his sides.

For the most part, the field was a golden landscape, the sun pouring over it like a warm blanket, but near the tree remained a patch of large shrubbery too dark to see. With shoulders hunched forward and pistol held comfortably in her hand, Eve made her way past Clarke and Wells before coming to a stop in front of them, her eyes searching the darkness. Everything remained still, and for a moment, she was going to declare it a false alarm until something emerged from the bushes a few hundred meters from where they stood. A dark, slender figure on all fours stalked across the long grass, sniffing the air until it came to a stop. Its head turned. Bright yellow eyes pierced through the shadows and locked on something to her left.

Eve turned her head and realized it was Bellamy.

Her heart sank to the bottom of her stomach as the animal charged at him, and she watched in horror as Bellamy reacted, reaching for his waistband only to feel an empty space where his gun had been. "I-I-" he stammered.

"Bellamy," she shouted without another thought, "get back!"

He did as she ordered, taking stumbling steps back. She raised her gun and aimed at the empty space he'd just occupied. Then, releasing a slow breath, she waited for a mere second before unleashing two bullets.

She missed.

The bullets embed into the beast's side instead of its head. It snarled, curling its body in pain, before darting into the nearby bushes.

"Wells, cover me," she shouted and then dashed over to Bellamy, who was looking every which way at the bushes.

"Where is it?" She aimed at the rustling leaves and branches until everything became still once again.

"I think… I think it's gone."

Eve let out a breath, dropping her arms. She turned her head to see Bellamy standing there with a relieved look on his face. "Thanks," he told her.

She stared at him with a blank expression. Why...had she just saved him? Having him mauled would have solved all her problems. Had she lost her damn mind?

Shuffling emerged behind her, and within a moment, she heard Clarke shout while a loud roar exploded from her left. Eve managed to catch only a glimpse of large, white teeth and extracted claws aiming for her face before a warmth enveloped her from behind, and then she was swiftly turned away. A tandem of gunshots blasted through the air, followed by a loud, hefty thump at her feet that sent dust over her boots. Her heart was pounding furiously against her chest as it worked desperately to send blood to her tired brain and limbs. Her ears were ringing, and she couldn't breathe. She was going to pass out any second now. She was sure of it.

A low soothing voice whispered into her ear, and she held onto it like a lifeline. "Hey… you're okay. Everything's okay."

It continued to offer soothing words until her breathing slowed and the ringing in her ears faded away. Then, dropping her heavy head, she saw a pair of solid arms in dark blue sleeves wrapped around her midsection, holding her steady. She looked up to find Bellamy leaning over her, his deep brown eyes staring back at her with furrowed eyebrows.

God, he was still as handsome as ever.

She blinked at the thought and just stared back at him, slowly coming to realize he had shielded her with his own body. His scent filled her head. He smelled of smoke, grass, and wood—things she had familiarized herself with since landing—but underneath it all, she caught a hint of something else…something she knew from before. One that would make her weak in the knees—that made her feel safe and warm. One that would cling to her and her clothes every time they—

"I've got you," his voice appeared again, though it was softer and quieter. Eve swore his arms briefly tightened around her before he stepped back, taking the warmth with him. Blinking a few times to collect herself, Eve cleared her throat and turned around, ignoring the emotions bubbling up within her if only to keep them off her face. She'd deal with them and him later.

She found shock on Clarke and Wells's face. The latter held a gun at his side, eyes fixed on the dead animal.

"Good shot," she said, cringing at the small crack of her voice. Wells nodded, his breathing beginning to settle just as hers had. Her gaze drifted to the beast that remained sprawled across the dirt. She cautiously approached it.

"Careful," Clarke warned. "It could still be alive."

Giving its shoulder a hard nudge with her boot, it moved the slightest but remained dead, very dead. "It's dead," Eve confirmed, and once she had Clarke's nod of approval, she crouched to take a closer look. A feline, she gathered. A ginormous cat with a maw the size of Eve's head. "All the better to eat us with."

"Looks like we solved our food problem," Bellamy said aloud, and then after a few seconds, "I'd like my gun back now."

Eve's head snapped up. Wells looked at the weapon in his hand and then held it up, letting it hang from one finger. "You want it? Take it."

Bellamy's expression darkened, his eyes narrowing on the Chancellor's son. He took a step towards him, and Eve stood from her crouch. He stopped, his eyes landing on the pistol in her hand, and then released a heavy sigh. "You know what? Keep it. You're a better shot anyway," he said with an irritated expression before turning away to tell the boys to hurry the hell up.

Wells gave her a nod, and she returned it, though she wished he'd stop taunting Bellamy.

Nothing good could come of it.

oOo

"Are you guys gonna stand around all day, or are you gonna help?" Wells asked, annoyed as he approached the two young men who had remained to the side, talking about who-knows-what while the rest of the group worked on bagging up the giant panther.

Bellamy looked over his shoulder, sparing a glance at Wells before his gaze flicked to Eve, who was unfurling the parachute that Clarke had thankfully brought along. He shifted his feet to face the group, and with a nod of his chin, he ordered Murphy forward. "Murphy's going to help you take them back," he said.

Wells watched Murphy suspiciously as he sauntered by with that sly smirk plastered on his pale face. "What're you gonna do?" He asked with an equally suspicious look as he turned back to the older boy.

From the corner of her, Eve could see Bellamy's jaw clench at the question, not liking the tone in Wells' voice. If there was something Bellamy truly hated, then it was being spoken to like a lackey. For a moment, it seemed he was going to tell the Chancellor's son to go float himself, but instead, his attention turned to her. And if that hadn't made her feel on edge, the smile crawling across his face did.

"Marie," he said loud and clear, "is gonna lead me to the Grounders."

She stiffened, and she slowly looked up to see everyone now staring at her with confused and terrified expressions. She narrowed her eyes at Bellamy, mentally cursing his existence.

"But they're gone," Wells reminded him.

"Good thing she's a tracker then." And with that, he brushed past Wells's shoulder and headed towards Eve, seeming very pleased with himself.

"No," Clarke protested, putting herself in Bellamy's path. "It's too dangerous."

"Agreed," added Collins as he, too, rose to his feet, folding his arms across his chest. He returned a slight, supportive nod to Clarke as she gave him an appreciative smile while Wells shifted uncomfortably.

Bellamy rolled his eyes as he looked down at the blonde. "Look, we need to see what we're dealing with down here. This could be our only chance."

"We don't have time for this." Clarke gestured to the unconscious boy they spent an hour cutting down—well, that Collins and Murphy had spent cutting down. "Jasper needs to be taken back to camp. He needs medical attention."

"Like I said," Bellamy said pointedly. "Murphy will help you with that."

"No!" Clarke stomped forward until she was standing face-to-face to him. "We stick together."

He glared down at her, his jaw clenching tightly. "You know what? You're really starting to piss me off." Clarke managed to stumble back as he cut the distance between them, his arms dropping to his sides. The air shifted when Murphy produced his shiv the moment Collins and Wells motioned to protect Clarke. They stopped in their tracks, glancing warily at each other. Murphy grinned a bloodthirsty smile as he eyed the Chancellor's son, twirling the shiv in his hand as he waited for the other shoe to drop.

Eve sighed. "He's right," she said loud enough for everyone to hear. She didn't bother looking up to know they all turned their heads. "The more we know about these people, the better prepared we are."

"It's too dangerous out here," Clarke argued.

"Clarke." Eve held Clarke's gaze and glanced at Bellamy, making it clear to her that it was best to agree lest they all end up in a brawl that no one wanted.

Well, besides Murphy.

It took her a moment, but she understood. Glancing around apprehensively, Clarke walked over to Eve. "Are you sure?" she whispered, concerned.

"Yeah. We'll head back before it gets dark. I promise."

Clarke pursed her lips and then nodded. "Okay." She glanced over her shoulder. "Be careful…"

Eve nodded, knowing she wasn't referring to just the grounders or man-eating animals. Then, as Clarke returned to Collins's side to continue collecting their dinner, Eve stepped away to the side and called Wells over.

"This is a bad idea," Wells told her. No shit. "What if they come back?"

"They won't," she assured. Her hand fumbled around in her jacket, still keeping an eye out to make sure Bellamy was still at a distance. When she finally managed to retrieve her gun, she released the magazine into her hand.

"You don't know that."

"Actually, I do." Eve paused as her words lingered between them. Then, sighing, she lifted her head and met Wells's confused gaze. "They won't come back…because I killed them." She forced her face to remain still. "Their bodies are still there. He knows that."

"How?"

She shrugged. "Blake's smarter than he looks."

A frown pulled at his lips, and then something akin to pity washed over him. If he had been anyone else, Eve would've knocked that look right off his face. She'd rather dip her hand into a bucket of antifreeze than watch someone pity her.

"I'm sorry you had to do that."

"Yeah, me, too," she replied, not wanting to dwell on it. "Here, take these." Holding out her hand, she offered Wells half of her ammunition. "Don't waste 'em."

Wells stared at the bullets for a moment before he lifted his head. "Eve," he said in a concerned voice. "You shouldn't be alone with him. What if he…what if he tries something? To get your wristband."

"I'll be fine." She grabbed Wells's hand and shoved the bullets into it.

Wells stored them in his pocket and added, "he's dangerous."

"He won't hurt me," she assured. He stared at her like she had grown a second head. "At least not while he thinks I'm armed." Returning the gun to its holster, she pulled down at the ends of her jacket, wincing at the sharp sting in her arm. "Just make sure the group gets back to camp safely."

Bellamy appeared next to them, his weight shifting to one leg as he looked between the two before saying, "We should head out now. Before we lose any more daylight."

He ignored Wells's scowl and kept his eyes on her, waiting patiently as she glanced back at him with a hesitant look. The strength that seeped off of him taunted her as she felt weaker by the minute. She truly hoped he wouldn't try anything once they were alone.

"Alright. It's not far." Giving Wells one last look that he frowned at, she jerked her head to the side, signaling Bellamy to follow, and turned on her heel to make their way westward.

After a few meters into the distance, the air shifted, and Bellamy fell into step next to her. "So, are you and Jaha a thing now?" She didn't answer. "It's probably none of my business," he continued. "But I think you should know he's in love with someone else."

Eve stopped, her teeth grinding together. Then, turning to him, she said, "remember, I'm the one with the gun. Not you." She watched with annoyance as Bellamy's brown eyes slowly trailed down her body before finding her face again.

A smirk stretched across his tanned face. "Sorry." His hands raised in surrender, and he drifted away as he walked backward. "Just lookin' out for ya."

She would've scoffed in his face if she wasn't busy glaring at him enough hate to burn through his skull. When he turned away, she looked over her shoulder to see the others preparing to leave; Jasper's limp body lifted by Clarke and Collins's shoulders while Wells and Murphy lifted a pole to carry the parachute-wrapped panther.

Eve hoped this wouldn't be the last time she saw them.


We're nearly there, guys! Two more chapters and we'll have brand new, never-before-seen chapters. I'm super excited because they're my favorite ones, and I've been waiting forever to post those. Thank you for sticking around, and of course, thank you for reading!