17 | the journey home

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MANY HAPPY RETURNS

We walked for many miles, through the rough, tropical terrain. The weather was certainly no friend to us. I could practically feel the hair sticking to the back of my neck. My breathing was labored, my lungs aching with every step I took. I could sense that Clarke felt the same behind me, given the wheezing sounds she made.

"Anya, we've been walking for hours. Where are we going?" I asked, running out of breath and energy as we strolled through the forest.

She snapped her head back, glancing down at my cuffed hands, growling out, "Quiet."

I couldn't understand how she seemed so put together when Clarke and I were basically suffering. When I looked beside me to Clarke, I saw the blonde eyeing the Grounder. "Why not just kill us and get it over with?" It was something I wondered as well.

"You can tell the Commander what the Mountain Men are doing to us in there."

"So let's work together. We don't have to be enemies."

Anya scrunched up her nose, glancing behind us looking disgusted. "And unite with someone as weak as you? I have what I need."

"And what's that? Because it's certainly not happiness or a shower," I tried joking, landing with a gnarly bruise on my cheek from Anya punching me. I glared up at her, spitting out the blood that had gathered in my mouth, aiming it right at Anya's boots.

"Hey," Clarke tugged on her cuffs. "We all want the same thing."

As they talked, my eyes scanned the woods, covering our trail. My attention landed on a green dot, one that was quickly followed by a dart, missing me by a few inches. "Get down!" I yelled, now seeing many more of the target dots. "They found us."

The distant shouting from the guards of Mount Weather was overridden by Anya pulling at our cuffs. "Run!" And so we did.

We ran for a long time, occasionally looking back to see if any of the Mountain Men had followed us. As we slowed to a walk, my breathing became heavier as Clarke stepped on a twig, causing it to snap.

"Quiet," Anya ordered. It seemed to be one of the only words she ever said, considering how she constantly spoke it. "You two can't even walk in the woods."

"If we're such a burden, then cut us loose."

Anya let out a snort, one I don't think I've ever seen her even smile. "Heavy breathing, loud footfalls, broken branches. You even smell like them," she snarled soon after, losing any sign of playfulness on her face. She pulled us along, stopping by a small puddle full of water.

Clarke immediately dropped to her knees, cupping water in her hands and lifting it to her lips. "No," Anya stated, "Not to drink."

"Then why stop?" I growled angrily. She glared at me, dropping down to grab some mud and slapped some onto my face. The shock I held was soon replaced by anger. "You fucking–"

"You reek," she cut me off. "Cover yourself in it." Still angry, I complied, helping Clarke and myself cover ourselves in mud.

By the time we had stopped again, the only sounds filling the air were those of our pants. We had climbed continuously for nearly an hour, never stopping to take a breath till now. Looking down from our spot, we could see the Mountain Men still following behind us, chattering in the distance. A defeated sigh slipped past my lips.

"How are they still following us?" Clarke asked.

"Because of you," Anya answered, grabbing a large rock beside her. "Time to end this."

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