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Whatever you do, donвЂ™t go inside the lab.
The anguished cries reached out to her, until Clarke couldnвЂ™t tell what was coming from the other side of the wall, and what was echoing in the shadowy depths of her own brain.
The experiments use dangerous levels of radiation. We donвЂ™t want you to get hurt.
The lab was nothing like sheвЂ™d imagined. It was full of hospital beds instead of workstations. And in each bed was a child.
ItвЂ™s our job to determine when Earth will be able to support human life again. Everyone is counting on us.
Clarke glanced around the room, looking for her friend Lilly. She was lonely. And scared. Everyone around her was dying. Their small bodies withered away until they were hardly more than wisps of skin and bone.
We never wanted you to find out this way.
But where was Lilly? Clarke came to visit her often, whenever her parents werenвЂ™t in the lab. She brought her friend presents, books she took from the library and candy she stole from the pantry at school. On LillyвЂ™s good days, their laughter drowned out the sounds of the heart-rate monitors.
It wasnвЂ™t our idea. The Vice Chancellor forced us to experiment on those children. They wouldвЂ™ve killed us if weвЂ™d refused.
Clarke moved from bed to bed, each of them containing a sick child. But none of them were her best friend.
And then, suddenly, she remembered. Lilly was dead. Because Clarke had killed her.
They wouldвЂ™ve killed you too.
Lilly had begged her to make the pain go away. Clarke hadnвЂ™t wanted to, but she knew that Lilly had no chance of getting better. So eventually sheвЂ™d agreed, and gave her friend the fatal drugs that ended her suffering.
IвЂ™m sorry, Clarke tried to tell her friend. IвЂ™m sorry. IвЂ™m sorry.
вЂњItвЂ™s okay, Clarke. Shhh, itвЂ™s okay. IвЂ™m right here.вЂќ
ClarkeвЂ™s eyes snapped open. She was lying on a cot, her arm wrapped in bandagesвЂ¦ why? What had happened?
Bellamy was sitting next to her, his face dirty and haggard. But he was smiling in a way Clarke hadnвЂ™t seen before, a wide, beaming grin without any hint of amusement or mockery. There was something startlingly intimate about it, as if this smile exposed more of Bellamy than sheвЂ™d seen when they went swimming in their underwear.
вЂњThank god youвЂ™re okay. Do you remember getting bitten by the snake?вЂќ he asked. Clarke closed her eyes as fragments of memory shot through her mind. The slithering movement on the ground. The blinding pain. Yet at the moment, the only sensation she was aware of was the warmth of BellamyвЂ™s hand on hers. вЂњWe gave you the universal antidote thing, but I wasnвЂ™t sure you got it in time.вЂќ
Clarke sat up, suddenly alert. вЂњYou carried me all the way back to camp?вЂќ Her cheeks flushed at the thought of being unconscious for that long in BellamyвЂ™s arms. вЂњAnd you figured out about the medicine?вЂќ
Bellamy shot a quick glance at the door. вЂњThat part was all Wells.вЂќ
The name landed with a thud in ClarkeвЂ™s chest. After Wells stopped her from rushing into a burning tent to save her friend Thalia, sheвЂ™d fled the camp in a haze of grief and rage. But as she looked around this new infirmary cabin, all she felt was sadness. Thalia was gone, but she couldnвЂ™t really blame Wells for what heвЂ™d done. HeвЂ™d saved her lifeвЂ”twice now.
On the other side of the small cabin, a girl was curled up on a cot. Clarke pushed herself onto her elbows for a better look, but when Bellamy noticed the direction of her gaze, he sat down on the edge of ClarkeвЂ™s cot, as if shielding her. вЂњSo,вЂќ he said, shooting a glance over his shoulder. вЂњAbout that.вЂќ
In a strangely detached voice, he told Clarke about the attack that had killed Asher, and the girl Wells had taken prisoner.
вЂњWhat?вЂќ Clarke sat bolt upright. вЂњYouвЂ™re telling me that girl over there was born on Earth?вЂќ Some small part of her had expected this since the orchard, but waking up to find an Earthborn meters away was almost too much to process. Thousands of questions exploded in every sector of her brain. How had they survived the Cataclysm? How many of them were there? Were there pockets of people all over the planet, or just in this area?
вЂњKeep your voice down,вЂќ Bellamy whispered, placing a hand on ClarkeвЂ™s shoulder and gently guiding her back down on the cot. вЂњI think sheвЂ™s asleep, and I want her to stay that way as long as possible. ItвЂ™s creepy as all hell having her in here.вЂќ
Clarke shook off his hand and rose to her feet. The excitement and shock pulsing through her veins left her whole body trembling. вЂњThis is unbelievable. I have to talk to her!вЂќ
Before she could take another step, Bellamy grabbed her wrist. вЂњThatвЂ™s not a good idea. Her people took Octavia and killed Asher. We caught her spying on us.вЂќ His mouth twisted into a sneer. вЂњShe was probably trying to decide who to take next.вЂќ
Clarke stared at him in confusion. Why would they speculate about the girlвЂ™s motives instead of asking her? вЂњHas anyone tried talking to her?вЂќ There was no danger in trying, especially since her hands and ankles were bound. Clarke rose onto the balls of her feet for a better look. The girl was curled up on her side, with her back to Bellamy and Clarke. It didnвЂ™t look like sheвЂ™d moved at all.
Bellamy pulled Clarke back onto the cot with a tug. вЂњI think the girl speaks English. She hasnвЂ™t said anything, but it seems like she understands what weвЂ™re saying. As soon as we get some useful information from her, IвЂ™ll head out to find Octavia.вЂќ
His voice was calm, but he couldnвЂ™t hide the note of anxiety when he said his sisterвЂ™s name. For a moment, ClarkeвЂ™s thoughts left the girl on the cot and returned to the woods where she and Bellamy had been following OctaviaвЂ™s footprints. She felt a stab of guilt that he had abandoned OctaviaвЂ™s trail in order to carry her all the way back here.
вЂњBellamy,вЂќ she said slowly as another thought took shape. вЂњThat wreckage we found. Did you see the logo on it? It said TG.вЂќ Every child on the Colony knew that TG, Trillion Galactic, was the company that had originally built their ship.
вЂњI know,вЂќ he said. вЂњBut that could mean anything.вЂќ
вЂњItвЂ™s not from our dropship,вЂќ she said quickly, her voice rising in excitement. вЂњWhich means it has to be from something else the Colony sent down. Maybe some kind of drone? Or what ifвЂ¦вЂќ She trailed off, suddenly hesitant to share the spark of an idea forming in the back of her mind. вЂњI think itвЂ™s important that we figure out what it is,вЂќ she finished vaguely.
Bellamy squeezed her hand. вЂњAs soon as we get Octavia back, weвЂ™ll go check it out.вЂќ
вЂњThank you,вЂќ she said quietly. вЂњFor everything. I know you lost a lot of time bringing me back here.вЂќ
вЂњYeah, well, it would have been a shame to lose the only doctor on Earth, even if you were arrested before you finished training. Can you remind me again which body part I should avoid injuring?вЂќ he said with a smile. вЂњAre you better with elbows or ankles?вЂќ
Clarke was glad to see him in a playful mood, but it wasnвЂ™t enough to shake the guilt building up in her chest. She lowered her voice, glancing again at the girl across the infirmary. вЂњItвЂ™s justвЂ¦ if you need to leave again, you should go. I feel terrible that you already lost a day because of me.вЂќ
His teasing smile softened. вЂњItвЂ™s okay.вЂќ He reached up and absentmindedly began twisting a strand of her hair around his finger. вЂњI think for now, my best chance is to see what this girl knows, before I go back looking for the trail.вЂќ
Clarke nodded, relieved that Bellamy didnвЂ™t resent her, and relieved that he wasnвЂ™t planning on leaving right away. вЂњOctaviaвЂ™s lucky to have you,вЂќ she said, then cocked her head to the side and surveyed Bellamy with a smile. вЂњYou know, I remember when I heard there were siblings on Walden.вЂќ
Bellamy raised an eyebrow. вЂњMy reputation precedes me? I guess I shouldnвЂ™t be surprised. How could you not talk about someone this good-looking?вЂќ
Clarke knocked against him, digging her elbow into his ribs. He made an exaggerated grimace, then laughed. вЂњItвЂ™s true,вЂќ she continued. вЂњMy friend Lilly remembered you guys from the care center. I think her exact words were, вЂThereвЂ™s a girl with an older brother. ItвЂ™s great that she has a sibling, but heвЂ™s so spectacularly attractive, no one can look directly at him. ItвЂ™s just too blinding, like staring at the sun.вЂ™вЂќ
Instead of smiling, BellamyвЂ™s face went pale. вЂњLilly? It wasnвЂ™t Lilly Marsh, was it?вЂќ
ClarkeвЂ™s chest tightened as she realized what sheвЂ™d just let slip. Of course Bellamy and Lilly had known each other. There couldnвЂ™t have been that many children in the Walden care center, could there? Lilly had rarely volunteered information about her life on Walden, and Clarke hadnвЂ™t asked. It hadnвЂ™t been a conscious decision, but she realized now that it was easier to think about Lilly as a girl without a past, without people who cared about her.
вЂњHow did you know Lilly?вЂќ Bellamy was staring at her, searching her eyes for the information she was desperately trying to hide.
вЂњI met her at the hospital, during my apprenticeship,вЂќ Clarke said, not bothering to count the number of lies in the short sentence. вЂњWere you friends?вЂќ She prayed heвЂ™d shrug and say something about knowing her vaguely from the care center.
вЂњWe wereвЂ”вЂќ Bellamy paused. вЂњWe were more than friends. Lilly was the only girl I ever cared about. Until you.вЂќ
вЂњWhat?вЂќ Clarke stared at him in shock. Lilly, her friend and her parentsвЂ™ test subject, had been BellamyвЂ™sвЂ”
вЂњAre you okay?вЂќ Bellamy asked. вЂњDoes it bother you that I had a girlfriend back on the ship?вЂќ