The 100 (The Hundred #1)(8) by Kass Morgan

For a moment, the sight of her overwhelmed his brain. The light in the clearing had changed as the sky grew darker, making the flecks of gold in her green eyes appear to glow. She was more beautiful on Earth than he’d ever seen her.

Their eyes locked, and a chill traveled down his spine. Less than a year ago, he’d been able to tell what she was thinking just by looking at her. But now her expression was inscrutable.

“What are you doing here, Wells?” she asked, her voice strained and weary.

She’s in shock, Wells told himself, forcing his mind to wrap around the ill-fitting explanation. “I came for you,” he said softly.

Her face assumed an expression that broke through the barriers, a mixture of sorrow, frustration, and pity that seemed to travel from Clarke’s eyes straight into his chest.

“I wish you hadn’t.” She sighed and pushed past him, striding off without another glance.

Her words knocked the air out of him, and for a moment, all Wells could think about was remembering how to breathe. Then he heard a chorus of murmurs from the bonfire behind him, an Cehiw. d turned, curious despite himself. Everyone was pointing upward at the sky, which was turning into a symphony of color.

First, orange streaks appeared in the blue, like an oboe joining a flute, turning a solo into a duet. That harmony built into a crescendo of colors as yellow and then pink added their voices to the chorus. The sky darkened, throwing the array of colors into even sharper relief. The word sunset couldn’t possibly contain the meaning of the beauty above them, and for the millionth time since they’d landed, Wells found that the words they’d been taught to describe Earth paled in comparison to the real thing.

Even Clarke, who hadn’t stopped moving since the crash, froze in her tracks, her head tilted up to better appreciate the miracle taking place overhead. Wells didn’t have to see her face to know that her eyes would be widened in awe, her mouth slightly parted with a gasp as she watched something she had only ever dreamed about. Something they had only ever dreamed about, Wells corrected himse

lf. He turned away, unable to look at the sky any longer, pain hardening into something dense and sharp in his chest. It was the first sunset humans had witnessed in three centuries, and he was watching it alone.

CHAPTER 7

Bellamy

Bellamy squinted up at the sunrise. He’d always assumed those ancient poets had been full of shit, or at least had much better drugs than he’d ever tried. But they were right. It was crazy to watch the sky go from black to gray and then explode into streaks of color. It didn’t make him want to break out into song or anything, but then again, Bellamy had never been the artistic type.

He leaned over and pulled Octavia’s blanket up over her shoulder. He’d spotted it sticking out of one of the supply containers the night before and had practically knocked out some kid’s tooth in the ensuing tussle. Bellamy exhaled, watching as his breath crystallized in front of him, lingering far longer than it would on the ship, where the ventilation system practically sucked the air out of your lungs before it had a chance to leave your mouth.

He looked around the clearing. After that Clarke girl had finished evaluating Octavia and determined she only had a sprained ankle, Bellamy had carried her over toward the trees where they’d spent the night. They were going to keep their distance until he figured out how many of these kids were real criminals and how many had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Bellamy squeezed his sister’s hand. It was his fault she’d been Confined. It was his fault she was here. He should’ve known she’d been planning something; she’d been talking for weeks about how hungry some of the children in her unit had been. It had been only a matter of time before she did something to feed them—even if it meant stealing. His selfless little sister was sentenced to die for having too big of a heart.

It was his job to protect her. And for the first time in her life, he’d failed.

Bellamy threw his shoulders back and raised his chin. He was tall for a six-year-old, but that didn’t stop people from staring as he made his way through the crowd at the distribution center. It wasn’t against the rules for children to come on their own, but it was rare. He went over the list his mother had made him repeat back to her three times before she’d let him leave their flat F trieClarke . Fiber meal—two credits. Glucose packets—one credit. Dehydrated grain—two credits. Tuber flakes—one credit. Protein loaf—three credits.

He darted around two women who’d stopped to grumble in front of some white things that looked like brains. Bellamy rolled his eyes and kept moving. Who cared that Phoenix got all the good stuff from the solar fields? Anyone who wanted to eat vegetables probably had little, mushy white brains themselves.

Bellamy cupped his hands under the fiber dispenser, caught the packet that slid out, and tucked it under his arm. He started to make his way over to the tuber section when something bright and shiny caught his eye. Bellamy turned and saw a pile of red, round fruit inside a display case. Normally, he didn’t care about the expensive things they locked away—twisted carrots that reminded Bellamy of orange witch fingers, and ugly mushrooms that looked more like brain-sucking black-hole zombies than food. But these were different. The fruit was a rosy pink, the same color that his neighbor Rilla turned when they played alien invasion in the corridor. Or used to play before Rilla’s father was taken away by the guards and Rilla was sent to live in the care center.

Bellamy stood on his tiptoes to read the number on the data panel. Eleven credits. That sounded like a lot, but he wanted to do something nice for his mother. She hadn’t gotten out of bed for three days. Bellamy couldn’t imagine being that tired.

“Do you want one?” an irritated voice asked. He looked up and saw a woman in a green uniform glaring at him. “Order it or step aside.”

Heat rose to Bellamy’s cheeks, and for a moment, he considered running away. But then a surge of indignation washed over his embarrassment. He wasn’t going to let some sour-faced distribution worker stop him from getting his mother the treat she deserved. “I’ll take two,” he said in the haughty voice that always made his mother roll her eyes and ask, I wonder who you got that from? “And don’t rub your fingers all over them,” he added pointedly.

The woman raised her eyebrow before glancing at the guards behind the transaction table. No one on Walden liked the guards, but his mother seemed particularly afraid of them. Lately, she’d grab Bellamy’s hand and turn in the other direction whenever she saw a patrol team approaching. Could she have done something wrong? Were the guards going to come take her away like they’d taken Rilla’s father? No, he told himself. I won’t let them.

He took his apples and marched over to the transaction table. Another distribution worker scanned his card, staring for a moment at the information on the panel before shrugging her shoulders and waving him forward. One of the guards shot him a curious look, but Bellamy kept his eyes straight ahead. He forced himself to walk until he’d left the distribution center and then broke into a run, clutching his packets to his chest as he tore down the walkway leading to his residential unit.

He palmed into their flat and shut the door carefully behind him. He couldn’t wait to show his mother what he’d brought her. He stepped into the living space, but the lights didn’t turn on. Was the sensor broken again? His stomach tightened slightly. His mother hated entering maintenance requests. She didn’t like having strang Khav ask, ers in their home. But how long could they spend in the dark?

“Mom!” Bellamy called, dashing into her room. “I’m back! I did it!” The lights were working here, and they buzzed to life as Bellamy ran through the door. But the bed was empty.

Bellamy froze as a wave of terror washed over him. She was gone. They’d taken her. He was all alone. But then a muffled stomp from the kitchen reached his ears. He sighed as his panic was quickly replaced by relief, then excitement. She was out of bed!

He ran into the kitchen. His mother was facing the small, round window that looked out into the dark staircase. One hand was placed on her lower back, as if it was hurting her. “Mom!” he called. “Look what I got you.”

His mother inhaled sharply but didn’t turn around. “Bellamy,” she said, as though he were a neighbor dropping by for an unexpected visit. “You’re back. Leave the food on the table and go to your room. I’ll be right there.”

Disappointment pressed down on him, weighing his feet to the floor. He wanted to see the look on his mother’s face when she saw the fruit. “Look!” he urged, stretching his arms forward, unsure what she could see in the reflection of the dark, dusty window.

She twisted her head to look at him over her shoulder. “What are those?” She narrowed her eyes. “Apples?” She pressed her lips together and rubbed the side of her head like she used to do when she came home from work. Before she got sick. “How much did they—never mind. Just go to your room, okay?”

Bellamy’s palms had begun to sweat as he placed the packets on the table near the door. Had he done something wrong? The lights flickered and then went out. “Damn it,” his mother muttered as she looked up at the ceiling. “Bellamy, now,” she commanded. Or at least, he thought it was his mother. She was facing away from him again, and her voice swirled through the darkness until it didn’t sound like her anymore.

As he slunk away, Bellamy shot a quick glance over his shoulder. His mother didn’t even look like herself. She’d turned to the side, and her stomach appeared huge and round, like she was hiding something under her shirt. He blinked and scampered off, convinced that his eyes had been playing tricks on him, ignoring the chill traveling down his spine.

“How’s she doing?” Bellamy glanced up to see Clarke standing above him, looking uneasily from him to his sleeping sister. He nodded. “I think she’s okay.”

“Good.” She raised a slightly singed eyebrow. “Because it’d be a shame if you followed through on your threat from last night.”

“What did I say?”

“You told me that if I didn’t save your sister, you’d blow up the goddamn planet and everyone on it.”

Bellamy smiled. “Good thing it’s only a sprained ankle.” He cocked his head to the side and surveyed Clarke quizzically. The skin under her eyes was bruised with exhaustion, but the purple shadows just made them look greener. He felt a twinge of guilt for being such a jerk to her the night before. He’d pegged her as another self-absorbed Kelf thought iPhoenix girl who was training as a doctor because it gave her something to brag about at parties. But the strain in her delicate face and the blood matted in her reddish-gold hair made it clear she hadn’t stopped to rest since they’d landed.

“So,” Bellamy continued, remembering Wells’s declaration at the bonfire yesterday, and the way Clarke had stomped away from him, “why were you so mean to little Chancellor Junior?”

Clarke looked at him with a mixture of shock and indignation. For a moment, he thought she might actually hit him, but then she just shook her head. “That’s none of your business.”

“Is he your boyfriend?” Bellamy pressed.

“No,” Clarke said flatly. But then her mouth twitched into a questioning smile. “Why do you care?”

“Just taking a census,” Bellamy replied. “Specifically, to determine the relationship status of all the pretty girls on Earth.”

Clarke rolled her eyes, but then she turned back to Octavia and the playfulness drained from her face.

“What is it?” Bellamy looked from Clarke to his sister.

“Nothing,” Clarke said quickly. “I just wish I had some antiseptic for that cut on her face. And some of the others are going to need antibiotics.”