“There you are,” Monty snaps, finally spotting Jasper by the window. He’s been looking for him and Harper for what feels like hours, struggling to control the panic rising inside him. He only has a short window to make two trips to Polis. They're not making it easy. “I’ve been looking everywhere.”
“You shouldn’t be here, Monty,” Jasper mutters. He’s wrapped in a blanket and looking out the window, watching the sun go down. It’s redder than it should be, almost a blood red. But it’s still incredible. Monty can still appreciate the beauty, despite how dire their situation is.
“None of us should be here,” Monty tells him, stepping beside him. He wants to be calm and talk him into getting in the rover, but he’s stressed. He’s not sure how they’re all going to make it out of this one. He doesn’t know where their other friends are. Doesn’t know if they’re safe. “Know why that sunset is so red?”
“It’s really red?” Jasper half laughs as he squints at it. “I thought I was tripping.”
“It’s from the death wave,” Month snaps. Jasper's attitude makes keeping calm a challenge. “Radioactive ash in the air. If we leave now, I can make two trips to Polis before it gets here. That should be enough for everyone -”
“I am leaving,” Jasper says, cutting him off, “now.”
“What?” Monty asks, shaking his head. Jasper's words don’t really hit him. Leaving now?
“For all it’s faults,” Jasper continues, ignoring Monty’s words and looking back out into the sunset, “earth is really beautiful.”
“It is,” Monty says quietly, looking out the window but not really seeing. The blood-red sky somehow feels fitting.
“The most fucked up game,” Jasper says quietly. “What planet would you rather die on?”
Monty furrows his brows, looking at his friend, trying to understand what’s going on. It feels like he’s trying to see through fog, as he tries to piece together the picture in front of him.
But then he spots it. A half-empty mug, sitting on the window sill. Jobi tea.
“What the hell,” Monty manages to spit out, leaning forward and knocking the mug to the ground. The metal clangs loudly as it hits the floor and seems to ring in Monty’s ears as he realises what Jasper is trying to do. What Jasper might have already done.
“No, you what the hell,” Jasper mutters, reaching for the cup even though the contents is already all over the floor. His movements are slow and clumsy. The tea already affecting him. “I was drinking that.”
“How much have you drunk?” Monty asks, he’s still trying to be calm because there is no point getting angry, but he’s struggling. What if he’s already too late?
“That would have been just the right amount,” Jasper says, shaking his head and focusing his eyes on the sunset. He’s not looking at Monty. “If you didn’t tip it out.”
“What are you trying to do?”
“I didn’t want you to find out like this,” Jasper says, finally looking up. His eyes are unfocused.
“Find out what? What are you doing?” Monty asks, pulling his helmet off and stepping closer to his best friend. “Answer me!”
“No, don’t take it off,” Jasper mutters. He’s slurring his words and his movements are clumsier still as he rushes to try and take the helmet from Monty. “Not for me.”
“This isn’t happening,” Monty mutters, the reality of the situation finally sinking in. This could be how he loses his best friend. He can’t handle that. Not Jasper.
“Just go,” Jasper mumbles, sinking down beside the window sill. “You need to be somewhere safe.”
“Get up,” Monty says, roughly grabbing at him and trying to drag him to his feet. He’s trying not to choke on his words, trying to force the tears back. Not Jasper. “Get up, get up or I will never forgive you. Do you hear me? I will never forgive you.”
“Don’t say that,” Jasper says, shaking his head and bringing his hands up. He doesn’t touch Monty though. It's like he doesn’t know how to comfort him. “Don’t live with that, don’t let that be the last thing you say to me. No. Just, just say you love me.”
“Don’t do this to me,” Monty breathes. “Please don’t.”
“I can’t,” Jasper whispers, sagging against the window. “I can’t come with you.”
He sounds so defeated and nothing like the carefree, living for adventure kid that was sent to the ground barely six months ago. It breaks Monty’s heart. This is his best friend, the person that’s been by his side his whole life. And now he’s in such a dark place, a place he doesn’t even want to come back from and Monty hasn’t been around to help him. Doesn’t even know if he can help him now.
“Throw it up,” Monty almost shouts, leaning forward and trying to get his fingers down his throat. He has to try something.
“That is just unsanitary,” Jasper says as he fights him off, roughly shoving him away. Monty can't keep the tears back anymore. He needs his best friend by his side and he doesn't know how to save him. This isn’t a joke. This is real. He has to help him.
“Listen to me,” Monty says, grabbing his face and resisting the urge to shake him. He is going to save him and shaking him is not going to help. “Get in the rover. We go to the bunker. We recover. We live .”
“You just don’t get it. That is not living ,” Jasper says, shaking his head. “That’s surviving. I do not want to live in a concrete coffin for five years. I can’t. I won't.”
“Jasper,” Monty whispers. He doesn’t know what to say. He can’t promise things will improve down there because when he’s honest with himself he’s pretty sure it’s going to be literal hell. He can’t even promise things will improve when they get out, because they don’t even know if the earth is going to survive the death wave.
“Look how beautiful it is,” Jasper says, impervious to Monty’s internal struggle. He’s looking over the trees and into the sunset. “Earth really is beautiful. It’s really a shame it’s going to melt.”
“If you die today, there is no chance you ever get to see this again,” he tries a different approach because he doesn’t know how else to convince him. Earth was always their dream. Maybe it can be what saves him. “Yes, we’ll have to live in the bunker for five years and it’s not going to be great, but at least when we get out, we’ll be back on earth.”
“But it won’t be living,” Jasper insists, he still won’t look at him. “It’s not worth it.”
“It will be worth it,” he says, “it will be worth it when we get to see this beautiful planet again. To see the sunset again.”
“I never could have even imagined how beautiful they would look from earth,” Jasper muses. His gaze is still unfocused as he stares into the setting sun.
“If you stay here,” Monty says, the pleading tone obvious in his voice, “you will never see another one.”
“Maybe there will be sunsets wherever I end up,” Jasper says quietly and it almost sounds like he’s reasoning with himself. It’s the push that Monty needs to push Jasper in the other direction. He will not lose his best friend.
“Or you could get in the rover with me and not take that chance,” Monty says firmly.
“We’re going to die on earth.”
“And what planet would you rather live on?” Monty pleads. If this doesn’t work, he doesn’t know what he’s going to do.
“I don’t want to,” Jasper groans.
“What planet?” Monty presses. “Please?”
“Earth,” it’s quiet and Monty barely hears him. But he answers. “It’s always earth.”
“So we get in that rover,” Monty says. “And we go to that bunker. And we survive.”
“I don’t want to just survive,” Jasper mutters.
“We survive,” he continues. “So we can live.”
“So we can live?” Jasper asks, as though he doesn’t believe it. Monty’s not really sure he believes it either. But it can only get better from here. There is no way it’s going to get worse.
“So we can live,” Monty repeats, “please.”
A little more convincing from Monty and the fact that the last of the jobi tea is on the floor has Jasper stumbling to the rover and stepping into the spare suit.
Monty drags him away once he’s dressed. He doesn’t want to chance leaving him alone but he needs to find Harper now. They need to get out of here.
They step into the dining hall and Monty feels like he’s moving in slow motion. There are bodies - the bodies of his friends, people he knew, people he cares about, people who had given up - filling the room, surrounded by the mugs of jobi tea Jasper had tried to drink.
He feels as if he’s moving in slow motion as he scans the room for Harper, tugging Jasper along behind him. He feels him stumble but he doesn’t stop because he’s spotted a blonde wrapped in a blanket on the ground in front of him. He freezes for a moment before letting go of Jasper and moving to her in a blind panic. He vaguely hears Jasper saying something behind him. But he can’t concentrate on that. Not now.
“No,” he whispers, forcing down bile as he bends down to push her onto her back. He’s saved Jasper but lost Harper.
A wave of relief washes over him when he realises it’s not her. It’s replaced immediately by guilt because this is someone else who is loved and cared for and gone, but it’s not Harper. His heart is pounding in his ears as he stands up, scanning the room for her again. She’s got to be here. He’s looked everywhere else.
“Monty.” Her voice is probably the only thing that could snap him out of the panic that’s taken over his. She’s there. She’s alive. And what she’d told him earlier doesn’t even matter if she’s alive. He doesn't care if she doesn't love him. As long as she is alive.
Without conscious input from his brain, he’s stepping towards her and then his arms are full of her. Monty holds her tightly to his chest as she cries. If nothing else, he can ground her. And then he’ll get them somewhere safe.
“I love you,” she whispers.
In shock, he pulls back to look at her. Her eyes are red with tears but they're more focused than Jasper's. She didn't drink any tea. And he realises she never meant what she said. She never stopped loving him. She said what she said to protect him. He nods and she gives him the barest hint of a smile as she brings a gloved hand to his face.
They have so much they need to say to each other but now is not the time. They need to get to the bunker. They need to get to safety. To their friends. To somewhere they can survive.
They leave in silence. Jasper and Harper sit side by side, hand in hand, in the back seat as Monty prepares the rover to leave.
But they don’t make it to the bunker or even back to the remains of Arkadia. Because Bellamy calls and needs their help. To save Raven. To save their friends.
The drive is rough - Jasper gets sick from the tea - but they make it. Preparing the rocket to get the nine of them to the Ring is even tougher. Leaving without Clarke is the hardest part of it all.
But they make it to the Ring. And they get it up and running and survivable. A place where Jasper can heal. Where they’re safe. We’re they become a family. Where they can actually live.
And Jasper does heal.
He heals with Harper. And with Bellamy and Raven. And even Murphy. And it takes time, but eventually with Emori and Echo too. They heal together. And they live.