“Hell, yeah,” Bellamy said, clapping a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “You managed to rally all those recruits and saved… how many people? Forty?”

“Fifty-four,” Wells said quietly. He scratched his cheek. “I took a quick tally.”

Bellamy nodded. “That’s a whole lot of people who got out, thanks to you.”

“Thanks to both of us,” Wells said, patting Bellamy on the back. His face turned grave, and pain flickered in his eyes.

“What happened?” Bellamy asked. “What’s wrong?”

“Graham didn’t make it,” Wells said.

“They… they killed him?” Bellamy said hoarsely. There’d been a point where he’d wanted to kill Graham himself, but that felt like a lifetime ago. Graham had worked hard to become a helpful member of their new community, and the thought of his lifeless body somewhere still in that godforsaken fortress sent a surprisingly sharp stab of pain through his chest.

Wells took a deep breath. “He… he sacrificed himself to save the rest of us. He died doing something far more heroic and brave than anything I could’ve done.”

They both fell silent for a long moment as they turned and looked over the scattered crowd. Some were clustered around the fire, soaking up the heat. Others were hard at work preparing for the road and the journey ahead of them. A few milled around the forest, looking shocked that they were able to walk around freely.

“I wonder where they’re all going to go,” Wells said.


Bellamy shrugged. “My guess would be… wherever you go.”

Wells’s eyes clouded, more thoughtful than worried. “That would be all right, wouldn’t it? If they came back with us?”

“The more the merrier, as far as I’m concerned,” Bellamy said. “But I think it’s your call to make.”

Wells shook his head. “You’re the Councilor, not me. You should be the one to decide.”

It’d mean more mouths to feed, bodies to shelter. But what the hell? This planet was big enough for all of them. He’d just have to make sure some of them actually knew how to hunt.

Clarke was standing by the fire now, dusting off her hands. He strode over to her.

“How are they doing?” he asked Clarke, gesturing to the patients.

“Okay, I think. Anxious to get going. I think we’ll all feel better once we’ve put more distance between us and…” She nodded nervously to the southeast.

Bellamy’s shoulders tensed. Following the river had already taken them several miles away from the Protectors’ fortress, but he agreed. The sooner they could get back to their own camp, the better.

“We have torches!” Octavia shouted, running in from the forest with the famous Anna trailing behind her, grinning, their arms full of mossy branches wrapped in wet cloth.

“Okay, so I do realize it’s still light out,” Anna said drily, blinking up at the cloudy morning sky. “But I thought these would be helpful once we make camp for the night, since not everyone is going to be able to sleep around that.” She motioned to the bonfire, sending nearly all the torches tumbling out of her arms. Bellamy stooped to help her gather them back up. “Gah! Coordination. Not my strong suit.”

Bellamy laughed. He liked her already.

Octavia went very red and then blurted, “So, Bellamy. I’d like you to meet my girlfriend, Anna.”

Bellamy grinned and shook her hand. “Nice to meet you, Anna. I’m glad you’re coming with us.”

Octavia took Anna’s hand and intertwined their fingers. “I can’t wait to bring you home.”

The word home resounded like a chime in Bellamy’s chest. Despite the journey ahead of them, he somehow felt as though he was already there. Home was wherever your family was. And for the first time in a week, they were all back together. His sister was safe and happy. His brother was alive and acting more like himself than he had in a month. And Clarke…

Bellamy smiled slowly over at her, realizing he’d included her as a family member.

Then his heart started to beat, louder and louder, more and more certain.

This is what family means. The people you fight for. The people you can’t live without. Bellamy peered out over the road ahead with dawning exhilaration.

There’s something I have to do.





They were feverish, they were muddy, they were exhausted… but there it was: the split tree that marked the path into camp.

After two days’ hard travel from the Stone, they were home.

However they did this, he wanted to make it quick. Everyone needed a fire and a meal and a good rest. Wells hoped that they’d be able to find those things here, that they weren’t about to walk into even more chaos and destruction.

Behind him, Kit and Jessa and the other Earthborns let out a happy shout, realizing where they were. Wells grinned too, but quickly raised a hand.

“We should wait here, send an advance party,” Wells called out. “Our camp will be on edge after everything that’s happened, and not everybody here is a familiar face.”

His eyes drifted over the crowd; more than half of them were total strangers to the people in their camp. Along the way, some of the escapees had veered off to go in search of their own homes, wanting to reclaim the places that had been stolen from them. Others had wanted to start fresh, and had joined their journey here.

But regardless of where they’d gone, all of the escapees were fueled by defiance and bright hope. From the ashes of the Stone, a new community had emerged, reshaped in a way the Protectors never could have imagined.

Wells drew a breath, thinking. Then he pointed to people in the crowd: an Earthborn, a rescue party member, and a new face.

“Kit, Clarke… and Cob. Come with me.”

Kit and Clarke both strode forward purposefully, but Cob glanced around as if confused.

Wells smiled encouragingly, waving him over. “Once they meet you, they won’t be worried about strangers anymore.”

The younger boy grinned and hurried to join them, while the others settled in to wait behind.

Then, united as one, the four of them strode toward the camp.

A crashing sound echoed in the near distance and Cob let out a yelp. Wells glanced over at him and realized that Cob’s ankle was wrapped around a trip wire. It must have caused that noise, sounded some sort of alarm.

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