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VALENCIA MERBLE DIES OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING in the ninth chapter of Slaughterhouse Five and Clarke decides she hates Kurt Vonnegut shortly afterwards. Neither of the aforementioned things should come as a surprise.

Clarke's favorite characters always die.  

It's been this way for as long as she can remember.

Before Valencia Merble it was Randle McMurphy, and before that General John Gordon Macarthur, and she won't even start with Old Yeller, because her childhood was permanently scarred by that event. Maybe it's because Clarke has an affinity for dismal books or maybe it's just her luck, because her mother bought her Looking for Alaska and Clarke doesn't need to crack the spine of that teen fiction novel to know Alaska Young still fucking dies, so she mine as well just give up already.  

Clarke sighs. She shuts the book and tosses it down beside her. It narrowly misses the jar of pickles she's been mindlessly consuming. The sun is high in the sky. It's hot as all hell. The kind of humid-sizzling temperature that makes her forehead glisten unattractively and her cotton shirt sort of stick to her torso. She leans back against her elbows on the warm rock face, long edge tilting gently into the water. To her right, thirty feet above, Willow Rhodes (garbed in a S-K-I-M-P-Y black bikini) stands perched on the edge of a cliff, backwards, fifteen seconds from lift off.

Clarke knows CPR. She watched a training video last night before she went to bed. Just, you know, in case.

Willow's laughing, arms splayed out, looking positively fucking radiant (as per usual). "Double backflip or triple backflip?"

"Triple," comes a response, in unison, from Derek (high as a kite), Sawyer (resembling a drowned, fish belly white poodle) and Garrett (flipping burgers).

"Ay ay Captains."

She salutes and jumps. Clarke's eyes follow her down, spinning and spinning and spinning. She recounts the first three steps of CPR just as Willow hits the water, splashing into the murky depths below. No fire no wire no gas no glass—

Willow emerges a few seconds later to a chorus of claps and hollers and hell yeah's from the cliff top (alive, thank God).

"What's hanging?"

Clarke turns her head. Calum meanders down the rock face towards her, towel slung over one arm, beer in the other, smiling the type of smile that Clarke's sure gets a lot of girls into a lot of beds. She doesn't mean to look at his torso but her eyes are travelling there anyway and she's counting and yup, all six are there. 

"Boston University, huh? Not bad."

Clarke's eyes travel automatically from Calum's mammoth arms to the red BU block letters scrawled across her t-shirt. "Oh. Yeah."

"What's your major?"

"Marine Biology."

"Neat-o," Calum says. He kneels down next to Clarke and voluntarily grabs a pickle. "I didn't peg you for a bio girl."

"What'd you peg me as?" Clarke asks. She thanks some higher power for the fact her sunglasses are tinted because Jesus, her eyes aren't' doing a good job of staying on Boy Scout's face. At all.

Calum shrugs. He pops the pickle in his mouth and chews. "Dunno."

Clarke grabs a pickle of her own. "So you haven't jumped yet."


"Off the cliff," she says. "I noticed you haven't gone."

"Ah. That." Calum laughs. It's all deep and rumbly and Clarke swears she feels the ground shake. "Yeah. I just come every month for the beer and Garrett's burgers. I never do the jumping thing."

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