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then why's it feel so good?

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It took Bellamy about six whole weeks to convince Clarke to come with him to the bar to meet his friends. He knows why she’s reluctant, but if they’re going to be mad at anyone, it should be him. They’re definitely a bunch of assholes, and practically his family at this point, and they are important to him, but so is Clarke, and he is tired of spending his Friday nights apart from her. 

 

It’s eight-thirty by the time they’re in his car, because she was out late on a call, and she’s been fumbling with the heat setting for over three minutes now, her nervousness palpable in the air. It’s not easy to rattle Clarke — the girl who runs towards accidents and not away from them, who’s stuck an iv into someone while upside down by a burning vehicle and has performed CPR in the ruins of still crumbling buildings — so seeing her like this unsettles him, to say the least.

 

Bellamy sighs, his hands tightening around the wheel as he shoulder checks before taking a left. “You should tell them about Finn.”

 

She actually startles at the sound of his voice, slouching back in her seat as she looks out the window, licking her lips. “I don’t want to drag all of that back up. I don’t care about him, or what he said.” She glances over at him out of the corner of her eyes, rolling her shoulders back as if getting more comfortable. “I’ve moved on.”

 

He used to hate Clarke, when she first started out at Firehouse 99 as a paramedic. He made up an entire version of her before he even really knew her. She was a natural at her job, but he figured it was because she dropped out of the med school her parents paid for, probably because she got bored. She was beautiful, but used that privilege to manipulate people into doing things for her and getting her way. She was smart, and witty, quick on her feet, resourceful, and funny even, but none of that mattered, because to him, she was already written off. He refused to see a lot of things about her because she hurt Raven, who’d been his best friend since very early on in the academy. 

 

Look, if it wasn’t for the fact Raven just lost her ability to use one of her legs, her dream job, and any sort of real family she’s ever had, he would’ve told Finn to fuck off too. But he couldn’t, and the douche kept hanging around, and then the only person he really had to hate was Clarke. 

 

The problem was that the more he got to know her, the more he realized he was being an idiot for letting Collins put any of the blame on her to start with. He claimed Clarke came onto him, was persistent in her pursuit of him, wouldn’t stop texting or calling or emailing him, was in love with him, that eventually she got him drunk and he gave in. Poor little Finn.

 

Everything Bellamy learned about Clarke was against his will, but after just knowing her for a mere three days he already figured out half of those things couldn’t be true. She was way out of his league, and definitely not one to beg. She commanded a room by just being in it. A few more weeks, and he knew all of those things weren’t true. Half of the time she couldn’t even be bothered to reply to any of his messages, and that wasn’t just because she thought he was an ass. The whole station found her inability to respond in a timely manner incredibly annoying, and it didn’t take him long to figure out it was because Clarke was always busy doing something. Working, studying, making art, and God, she can paint.

 

He finds out how talented she truly is when she’s been working with them for six months, and as an afterthought leaves one of the advertising pamphlets for an exposition at some art gallery downtown lying around for anyone who might want to come check it out, completely blasè about the whole thing like she figures no one will want to, like it’s no big deal and she’s not even that good. As a surprise, he rallies together almost all of the guys to show up for her on the big opening night, one he never takes credit for.

 

Yet, she still figures him out. Easily.

 

He’d been standing in front of one of her only portraits off in a quiet dark corner, when she came up beside him with a glass of champagne cradled in her small hand, keeping her eyes fixed on the painting. Bellamy had never been one to appreciate the arts in detail, the extent of his knowledge limited to Grecian sculptures and Roman Cameos, but this one was easily his favorite on display. It was beautiful, of a dark man with sharp features and a striking look in his eyes, all bold strokes and rich colors. It made him feel — melancholic, longing for memories of a life that wasn’t his own, despite not having known the man at all. 

 

“Thanks,” she said, quietly, and instantly he’d known she meant getting everyone together for this. 

 

Bellamy shrugged, not seeing what the big deal was. They would’ve been stupid to miss any of this. It’s amazing. “This wasn’t me.”

 

For a second he thought she was going to drop it, inhaling slowly as her pinky brushed against his, whether on purpose or by accident he still doesn’t know. Then, Clarke started, solemnly, “I’ve been lonely for a really long time. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I came to work with you guys.” Her tongue darted out to wet her plum colored lips, an amused expression on her face as she followed up with a teasing, “You didn’t make it easy, but eventually you all became my friends. My family.” Her face fell, just slightly, and then she took a hasty sip of her champagne, huffing out a breath of resigned laughter. “That’s more than I’ve had in a long time.” She squeezed his fingers, finally turning her head to look at him, corners of her lips quirking up in a reluctant smile. “So thank you. Truly.”

 

By the time she dropped his hand, he was breathing harder than he should be, his heart pounding loudly in his ribcage as he tried but failed to swallow past the lump in his throat. Fuck. He liked her. So much. How hadn’t he noticed before? Why had he picked this exact moment, standing beside her there in the dim lighting, her hair pulled up and away from her beautiful face, her expensive dark dress revealing way too much soft skin, her lips curved into a special smile just for him as they shared one of their first moments of genuine friendship? How was he supposed to go home and pull his usual MO, convince himself it was all in head, that he romanticized it because Clarke was pretty and he hadn’t gotten laid in a while?

 

Bellamy knew he was fucked from the get-go. He struggled with it, for a few months. Hating Clarke was easy. Liking her—it was hard. She was everywhere, suddenly, undeniable in every way. And he felt guilty, despite knowing she wasn’t the reason he had to watch Raven cry for the first time in his life, hold her tight as she fell apart in his arms. 

 

He went wrong when he decided to finally take up Echo on her obvious and insistent advances. Emori had brought her into their group of mismatched friends over a year ago, after hiring her as one of their employees in the superstore she managed. Echo didn’t talk a lot, seemed mysterious, barely ever had a facial expression, but Emori took pity on her. She had no other friends, no family left, didn’t even finish high school. Lived in the same trailer park as Emori, for a few years when they were kids, then moved away and changed her name.

 

It started out as an off-handed comment, and then quickly turned into a running joke, guessing why they seemed to know less about Echo the longer they knew her. Witness protection programme was a fan-favorite theory, but Bellamy just figured she didn’t have anything interesting to say. Some people are just boring.

 

Yet, Echo was definitely interested in him. She never came out and said it, but would put her hand on his thigh sometimes, under the booth at the bar, or would offer to walk him home. Hell, if he wasn’t so hung up on Clarke he probably would’ve taken her up on it a long time ago. Which is exactly the reason why he decides to do it after a night of one too many beers, chicken wings and uncoordinated dart games. He lets her come over to his apartment, they have semi-decent but sloppy missionary sex, in the morning she kisses him awake and then informs the groupchat they’re together now like the more people she gets involved the less likely he is to back out, and he goes along with all of it.

 

His friends were happy, for them, but selfishly also because this meant everyone was paired up and no one was feeling left out anymore, and Bellamy thought maybe this would help him to stop thinking about Clarke.

 

He quickly figured out that’s not how it works. He never thought of anything else but Clarke. She was the first thing on his mind when he woke, and the last thing before he went to bed, and every fleeting thought in between was about her too. It was worse, now that he was with Echo, because as long as he closed his eyes he could pretend it was her instead. 

 

It was growing painful to be around her, quipping jokes by the coffee machine way too early in the morning, brushing her genuine concerns off as she patched up another one of his cuts, staring at her from across the table as she beat Roan at poker effortlessly. Every word she said, every little touch they shared, every look that lasted just a second too long — it felt loaded, weighed down by his own desire to be closer to her, by all the things left unspoken.

 

Bellamy considered them friends at this point, and if anything they were even more than that because the other guys at the Firestation couldn’t shut up about it. Made digs about her being his work wife, joked about him secretly plotting to accidentally get the other paramedic Nyko killed in action, cooed mock-endeared if Bellamy handed the bread rolls over to her at dinner or brought her lunch to the ambo if she got distracted doing inventory. It was all harmless stuff, most of it only coaxing a half-hearted eye-roll from Clarke, but it also made him realize he should be more careful around her. Despite not particularly caring for Echo all that much, he didn’t want to hurt her feelings. He didn’t want to be like Finn. And he didn’t want Clarke to know just how deep his feelings ran when she could obviously never feel the same way.

 

After a very long shift ending on a rapidly spreading apartment complex fire with more losses than he could bear to admit, he found Clarke kicking her car in the parking lot. She cursed loudly, tossing her keys aside before pressing the heels of her hands into her eyes. It was the middle of the winter, still dark outside. Most of the guys had already left, but he had decided to take a longer shower than usual, wash the night off of him, the grime and sweat, the invisible blood of all the people he wasn’t able to save. Children. 

 

Bellamy made up his mind quickly. She startled, when he shouldered his bag and offered, “You need a ride?”

 

The drive over to her apartment was quiet except for the morning news quietly crooning from his radio. Her fingers were curled into painful firsts the entire time, her jaw clenched as she stared straight ahead. He knew it was the same for her.  The responsibility he felt while doing his job every day, how each loss felt like losing a piece of himself, how doing his best never quite felt like he was doing enough. How nights like these were the worst, knowing they could have done more. 

 

He turned off the ignition, both of them staring up at her apartment complex in silence as the sun started to slowly rise in the distance. His hands tightened around the wheel as he said, voice rough, “Clarke—”

 

Her head whipped around to look at him, the look in her eyes almost wild. “You should’ve let me go in there. I could’ve helped her—”

 

The distant cries of a woman, her foot buried under mountains of debris. Please save my baby. Anyone. Gina and Illian were working on stabilizing the apartment from one of the back entrances, but they were running out of time. Please just save my baby. His call. It wasn’t safe.

 

His brow puckered as he stared at her, resigned. “The building was collapsing, we couldn’t, I couldn’t — it collapsed.”

 

“No,” Clarke gritted, nails biting into her palms so aggressively he was sure she was breaking skin. “I could’ve stopped the bleed, amputated her leg — could’ve performed an emergency c-section, something!” 

 

His jaw clenched, nostrils flaring briefly before he calmly pressed, “You could’ve died.”

 

She looks away from him with a grim huff, crossing her arms over her chest. “That doesn’t matter.” It’s a risk she is always willing to take. It angers him, it makes him so fucking furious sometimes he can’t think straight, but most of all it makes him ache with sadness.

 

“It will always matter to me,” Bellamy confessed, too quiet, too reverent for him to get away with things said in the heat of the moment.

 

She froze up, for just a second, in the middle of scrubbing a hand over her tired face, before slowly turning her head to look at him. Her dark ocean blue eyes were steady on his, filled to the brim with confusion and a longing he thought he hadn’t seen anywhere else but his own reflection, the sunrise covering her face in a hue of soft orange mosaics, setting her aglow. He’d never wanted to kiss her more than in that moment. 

 

Her mouth opened, but nothing came out at first. “You got a girlfriend,” she argued then, finally, as if that was the problem. Not his unrequited love.

 

Bellamy barked out a mirthless laugh, too late to rail the words back in, “Yeah, to distract myself from the fact I’m in love with you.”

 

Her eyes raked his face frantically, presumably still expecting for him to yell out ‘sike’, or burst out laughing. “You love me?” Clarke sniffed, her face as if she wasn't even sure where to put the emphasis.

 

His expression changes to something wounded, his mouth feeling dry. "I do. I love you. I love you and I know you don't feel the same way—"

 

She surged forward suddenly, cutting his sentence off as his eyes widened. She stopped short however, for some reason losing her nerve with her lips inches from his. Her eyes dipped down to his mouth, taking in a shaky breath. Another long moment passed, his heart hammering loudly in his chest, before she swallowed thickly, dragging her gaze up from his lips to his eyes, her pupils blown despite the uncertainty he found there as well. “Tell me this is a bad idea.”

 

“It’s a bad idea,” he breathed, rough, then closed the rest of the distance between their mouths, his hand sliding into her ponytail on the back of her head, pulling her closer. Her fingers desperately clawed at his shoulders, his neck, cheeks, immediately opening up for him. 

 

They were both in pain, but that wasn’t an excuse. He could’ve stopped it at any moment. Taken a step back, told her he was going to break-up with Echo first, or hell, he even could’ve just given her a quick call before following Clarke up the elevator to her apartment. But she didn’t cross his mind for a moment, not when Clarke dragged his shirt over his head, or he fell in love with her all over again as he watched her come apart on his fingers, or when she sank down on top of him and bit back a whimper to whisper she loved him too, not even holding her closely in the afterglow, when the guilt was supposed to settle in. 

 

It never did. 

 

For the first time in his life, he found he was genuinely happy, like he found a missing piece he didn’t even know was lost, that finally explained why he felt the way he did all the time. So angry, and misunderstood, and utterly alone. Clarke didn’t make him feel that. She made him feel like they were in it together, the two of them, so different but similar in ways that matter. She knew exactly what he needed, whether it be a slamming-doors and string-of-curse-words argument, or sitting with him in silence on his couch, her cheek against his arm. 

 

It was selfish, sure, despite all the things he could tell himself to pretend it wasn’t a big deal ( it wasn’t like he and Echo were madly in love or made any real plans for a shared future) but also the first thing he allowed himself to want in a long time. 

 

So he owned up to it. He broke up with Echo, apologized thoroughly, told his friends, and took the beating. It was him who wronged Echo, not Clarke. And he wasn’t going to let them take out the remnants of their frustrations on her, no matter what they thought of her or him or what they did. Their relationship was none of his friends' business.

 

Now, back in his car, that is starting to feel a little too toasty for his liking, he puts his hand over his girlfriend’s thigh. “So have they.”

 

“No they haven’t,” Clarke retorts, with a pointed glance and half a snort, but then she deflates, sliding her hand over his, squeezing softly, her lips spasming with a smile, “but thank you for lying.”

 

The atmosphere at the bar is frosty at first. They’re in their regular booth, and Bellamy slides in first, putting his arm around Clarke’s shoulders as she squeezes in beside him. No one actually knows Clarke besides from his work-stories or Finn’s made up fantasies, and it’s left his friends with a plethora of mismatched expectations.

 

But, then Monty smiles, and sticks out his hand to shake hers. “I can’t believe we’re finally meeting the work wife.”

 

Her mouth twitches with a nervous smile, and he tenses beside her until one of her hands folds over his knee soothingly, and Clarke’s not really into PDA usually so it strangely warms his heart, the other reaching out for Monty’s. She squints her eyes at him, playful. “The bio-engineer who can’t hold his shots, right?”

 

“That was one time!” Monty mock-glares at Bellamy, elbowing his wife conspiratorially. “Babe, tell them.”

 

It seems to coax a reluctant laugh from most of the group, even a quirk of Echo’s lips, and just like that, the ice is somewhat broken. Most of them introduce themselves in a likewise manner, from ‘the reformed criminal cosplaying Linguini from Ratatouille daily ‘ to ‘the cop who holds her liquor way better than her husband ‘. Echo just says her name, but she’s in the middle, and Finn is right after her, so the awkward tension disappears as quickly as it appears when Raven, ever the balls of steel, slams back her shot and says, “The ex-firefighter who think you should know she’s fucked you boyfriend too, so we’re even.”

 

Right. A drunken one-night stand years before he even met Clarke compared to a full-blown month long affair with the guy Raven's been dating for over a decade. His girlfriend still takes the crown.

 

For a second, Bellamy thinks the awkward tension might return, but instead Clarke snorts, glancing up at him with a shake of her head. “I told you the Firehouse was an incestuous cesspool.”

 

It warrants a heated discussion about not shitting where you eat, which segues into a new restaurant downtown Harper’s been wanting to check-out, and then a story about a classmate from Murphy’s culinary school, at which point he lets out a little breath of relief. The night’s only just started, but it’s already going better than expected, honestly. He knows it’s weird. She’s the other woman to most of them, twice over according to some, but at least they’ve realized how important she is to him and seem to be trying their best to welcome them into the group. 

 

It gives him hope for the future. Maybe not every week, not at first, but perhaps once a month, until everyone feels more comfortable with each other. He knows for a fact a lot of them would get on great with her, if only they give her a chance. A real chance. He and Clarke could even start hosting game nights, once they move in together, invite her friends too. It’s too soon to bring it up, especially since they only started dating a month and a half ago, but he really wants to wake up beside her every day and someday he is going to make that happen.

 

They order nachos and mozzarella sticks, talk outrageous shit, and down three pitchers of beer between the ten of them, so eventually nature calls, and he has to go take a leak. Bellamy kisses her cheek, lowering his mouth to her ear, “Will you be okay if I go to the bathroom?”

 

For a second, she tenses slightly, but then forces a small smile on her face. Their friends are too busy talking to notice their exchange. “I’m fine.” Softly, and kind of endearingly hopeful, she adds, with a bite of her lip, “Monty’s really nice.”

 

“He is, yeah,” he grins, moving her hair behind her ear before pressing another kiss over her jaw just below her earlobe. “I’ll be right back, okay?”

 

She nods, before moving aside to let him through. Before, she asked him, why. She met Miller, and they bonded over their dry humour immediately, and they had dinner with his sister, who later called Clarke a definite upgrade when he dropped her back off at her place, and couldn’t that be enough? Did she have to sit at a table with her ex, and the girlfriend he cheated on with her, and his ex who he also cheated with her on? It’s why he left it alone for so long, he didn’t want to push her when the wounds were still fresh. But eventually he figured the thing with Finn happened over two years ago, and he and Echo weren’t even together for more than a month, and Clarke was going to be around for a long, long time.

 

Once upon a time, Octavia was all he had, and when she needed space, to grow into herself, he nearly fell apart. His friends put him back together, in a way, made him feel needed. They are like his family, and after what Clarke told him at the gallery, he wants her to have that too. Of course there’s the guys at the Firehouse, but much like he was her work husband, that dynamic is very much limited to their twelve hour shifts and having each other’s backs in high risk situations.

 

It’s crowded tonight, like it always is, and there’s a long line, even at the men’s bathroom. Only one of the faucets works, so he has to wait his turn to wash his hands. When he finally manoeuvers his way back through the crowd of gyrating bodies, Clarke isn’t at the table. 

 

His brows furrow together as he watches them go from low, hushed and heated whispers to absolute silence. His stomach churns. “Where’s Clarke?”

 

“Jesus Christ, can’t you go two seconds without her? What does she have on you?” Raven snaps, annoyed, pinching the bridge of her nose before glaring at Finn as he tries to put his hand on her shoulder. Where the hell is this coming from? He can’t be bothered to deal with it right now. 

 

“Where’s Clarke?” He repeats, firmly, nostrils flaring as he tries to keep his composure. His eyes scan his friends, gaze landing on Harper, who looks guilty as her hand tightens around her glass. “There was a stupid argument. Monty and Emori went after her, but it’s been a while.”

 

“An argument?” Bellamy echoes, dumbfounded before he starts shaking his head. His eyes dart around between Raven and Echo, knowing it’s either one of them who caused this, willingly or not. “What the hell is your problem?”

 

Raven’s lips press together in a thin line, and Echo just stares at him blankly. “She didn’t know, okay? She didn’t know that Finn had a girlfriend, and it was my fault I didn’t break up—”

 

The douche obviously tries to save his own ass by changing the subject, quickly inserting himself into a conversation he has no business being part of, “Sometimes you make rash decisions in the heat of the moment. We just all think you made up your mind too quickly, dude, getting together with Clarke. It came out of nowhere, and Echo, Echo’s trustworthy—”

 

We? Like they’ve been discussing this behind his back? If they think it came out of nowhere, they weren’t paying enough attention. Bellamy actually laughs. “Finn, if I were you I’d shut the fuck up right now.”

 

“Don’t talk to him that way,” Raven bites, sharply, and he can’t help but think she’s being a fucking idiot. She's so headstrong, so confident, with herself, with everything she is and she has to give, and yet she lets fucking Finn Collins out of all people walk over her lest he doesn't walk away. Why? Because they were in the same foster-home? What a joke.

 

Bellamy clenches his jaw, meeting her dark gaze with as much fury he sees reflected in hers. The worst part is, she deserves so much better than Finn. He thinks she and Clarke would actually get along great, but she’s so insistent on believing her boyfriend’s stories, lying to herself so she doesn’t have to break it off with him that she’s acting stupid. But, he knows Raven, and he knows that deep down she knows better. She’s a genius, for fuck’s sake.

 

He holds her gaze as he declares, calmly, even though his pulse is racing and his skin is crawling with unease, “If you guys all truly feel this way, maybe I shouldn’t come here anymore.”

 

Echo purses her lips. “You can come, just not her.”

 

"What she means is that Clarke doesn't really fit with our dynamic," Murphy adds for clarification purposes, as if he's even able to spell the fucking word 'dynamic'. "Her whole vibe's a little uptight."

 

“If I come, so does she,” he hurls back, even though he feels as though something precious is breaking right in front of him, and he has to try hard to keep his voice steady. He’s angry, sure, but he also feels betrayed. Despite what they think of Clarke, or what she’s done, they’re supposed to be his friends, too, they’re supposed to listen to his side of things, and trust him enough to take his words on things. “It’s a package deal.”

 

Murphy gulps down the rest of his beer as he averts his eyes, and Harper starts to open her mouth until a glare from Raven cuts her off. Echo is still staring at him vacantly, Finn is keeping his eyes fixed on the paper coaster in his hands on top of the table. The silence stretches, and grows thicker than he can bear to breathe in as he makes a realisation.

 

Are these supposed to be the most important people in his life? When they couldn’t even bother to give Clarke, no— him the benefit of the doubt? He’s never judged them. He has never said a word about the three schools Murphy has dropped out of because that’s what he does when things get hard, or Echo’s sketchy backstory that makes less sense the more you think about it, or Harper’s refusal to take the detective's exam just because she’s scared of failing, or about Raven taking back Finn despite the fact they all know Clarke isn’t his only fuck-up, just the only one they found out about. Is it really so bad that he found someone he loves, who accepts him, and makes him happy, that he just wants them to like? They can all go fuck themselves.

 

Bellamy turns on his heels, storming outside to go find his girlfriend. Murphy weakly calls out after him, but he ignores it. They’ve made their decision, and now so has he. 

 

He runs into Monty by the door, making his way back inside. He sends him an apologetic look, before glancing back outside over his shoulder and then back up at him. “It got out of hand, I tried to tell them—”

 

Bellamy offers him a weak smile, squeezing his shoulder. “It’s not your fault.”

 

He sighs, scratching the back of his head. “I’ve checked the alleys and the bus station on the corner, but no luck. Emori’s checking the bathrooms, I think—”

 

Bellamy glances outside, at the dark sky and the busy street. “It’s okay, I think I might know where she is.”

 

Monty nods, minute, then offers another tight, close-lipped smile of encouragement. “They’ll come around.”

 

“Maybe,” he muses in response, raising his eyebrows. He was mad, when he stormed out just now, but he’s already found he doesn’t even care that much anymore, now is mostly just disappointed. Lately, he’s found more certainty and stability in his life than he ever has. He’ll always have Clarke to come home too, and he wants all of them to be a part of his life, but not at the cost of his relationship with her. “But if they don’t, they’re missing out.”

 

“She’s pretty great,” his friend agrees, touching a supportive hand to his bicep before stepping aside so Bellamy can pass through. 

 

He finds her by his car, foot kicked up and head resting back against the window. Her hands are stuffed in the pockets of his jacket, that she must’ve grabbed on her way out. Her eyes are closed, brows slightly pinched together. 

 

“You need a ride?” He says, half-teasing, alluding back to the day everything changed for them, but he’s too concerned for it to sound sincere. 

 

She doesn’t smile, but she lifts her head, opening her eyes. Bellamy comes up beside her, leaning his shoulder against the car door. His hand reaches up to smooth out her brow, and she takes one of her hands out of the pocket’s of his jacket to catch it before it drops completely. There’s a detached look in her eye, a small clench of her jaw before she starts, “They’re right, you know?” He opens his mouth to protest, but Clarke shakes her head. “What we did to Echo was shitty. I’m not sure it makes us any better than Finn—”

 

Bellamy grits his teeth together, a flare of annoyance passing through him at the comparison to that dipshit. “We made a mistake. I should’ve broken up with her before I kissed you.”

 

“We did a lot more than kiss, Bellamy,” she breathes, shakily, tears shimmering in her eyes, and he pushes back a flash of pushing her up against her bedroom door with a loud thud, her cold hands slipping underneath his shirt to slide up his bare chest, her tongue running over the roof of his mouth as her hips bucked up into his hardness pressed up against the apex of her thighs. She knows she’s disappointed with herself, for what happened, but he also knows no one is harder on themselves than Clarke. 

 

“I know,” he relents, resigned, looking down at their hands as he rubs his thumb over the back of hers. “I should’ve handled things differently. I should’ve never gotten in a relationship with her when I knew that I had feelings for you, but I thought it was never going to happen. I was trying to move on, and it backfired.” He’s an asshole, but at least he’s self aware. 

 

Clarke lets out a huff of laughter, sniffing. “You could say that.”

 

“My point is, the mistake is not getting together with you.” His dark eyes bore into hers, the corners of his mouth turning up in a reluctant smile. “It was that I should’ve done it much sooner.”

 

“I love you,” she presses, and it feels a lot like a rejection for some reason. His hand feels cold as she drops it, looking off to the side. “But I don’t want you to have to pick between your fam—”

 

“Clarke,” he grits, stubbornly grasping her fingers back in between his. “If they’re pathetic enough to make me pick between them and you, you don’t have anything to worry about. That choice was made ages ago.”

 

She looks surprised, and that makes him feel worse, because apparently he hasn’t been clear enough. He nudges their hands into her side, quietly explaining, “You’re my family, too.”

 

Her nose is a little red from holding back tears, and a strand of hair falls in her eyes as she presses up on her tiptoes to crush her mouth against his in a needy kiss. Her breath is hot against his mouth as she pulls away. “You’re crazy. You’ve known them forever.” She bites her lip, hesitant. “I would never ask you to give them up for me.”

 

She wouldn't, which is why he loves her. And it's because he loves her, that he would. Bellamy winds his arms around her waist, keeping her close. He lifts his shoulders in a half-hearted shrug. Sounds like a them problem. “They’ll just have to learn how to deal with my insanely gorgeous, smart and accomplished, funny and witty, selfless, amazing, gorgeous girlfriend being around.”

 

She quirks a brow, folding her hands over his elbows as her cheeks flush with embarrassment. “You said gorgeous twice.”

 

“And I’ll say it again,” he affirms, kissing the corner of her mouth. "My gorgeous girl."

 

Clarke grins, then it dims a little, biting the inside of her cheek. “Echo — she said she’d never been hurt like that before.”

 

Like he said. Just a boring life. He ducks his head, nosing her cheek. “Is it bad?”

“What?” She wonders, breathing in sharply as he nips at her jaw. 

 

Bellamy pulls back to smirk at her. “That I really don’t care.”

 

Maybe now she’ll have something to tell people at birthday parties. 

 

“I don’t really care either,” she admits, pushing closer to him as she bands her arms around his neck. Her expression shutters, her eyes darting to the side and then back up at him. “That’s why I felt like shit.” She licks her lips, pursing them briefly, thoughtful. “She told me I stole you, and my first reaction was to feel proud, because I have you, and she doesn’t. As soon as I realized, I bolted.”

 

He smirks, finds he doesn’t really care. It actually thrills him a little, that she’s proud to be with him, possessive even. “Happiness has turned us into monsters.”

 

A stupid grin splits across her face. “Yeah, just pick an useless fight later or something, we need to be knocked down a peg or two.”

 

“Maybe develop an unhealthy addiction, incurable disease,” he offers, jokingly, his hands sliding down to her hips. “My friends can come to our Hallmark movie premiere.”

 

Clarke purses her lips, as if in thought, her fingers playing with the curls at the nape of his neck. “We could burn down one of our apartments."

 

"Go into debt and become homeless," he fills in.

 

"I think that would be kind of awkward at work Monday. They won't be happy about you reaffirming the 'all firefighters are pyromaniacs' stereotype.”

 

“Don’t worry,” he deadpans, then scoffs, indignant. He could name ten things from the top of his head right now why she drives him absolutely crazy, first and foremostly, “I’ll just make a big deal out of you leaving your dirty laundry everywhere over my place later.”

 

She licks her lips, taking on a coy smile. “Have you ever considered maybe it’s just a subtle hint?”

 

Bellamy pretends to consider it, too distracted by her mouth, the way her pink curved lips are glistening in the pale moonlight and that little beauty mark always seems to be taunting him, to form an actual thought. “Mhmm, hinting to what?”

 

A quick little breath, and then a casual, “A territorial claim.”

 

His eyebrows jump. “Really?” Like he said. He doesn’t see Clarke get ruffled often. Not even now, looking at him with a steel face of confidence, like it’s just that easy.

 

“The commute to the Firehouse takes me twice as long because of the traffic, the rent is way too high for my very meager paramedic salary, the sink in the bathroom never works,” she lists, almost robotically, as if practised. A beat, and then she tilts her head a little, looking him straight in the eye as her voice softens, dripping with tentative hope. “And I wouldn’t mind waking up with you every morning.”

 

His heart lurches in his chest, not used to the warmth blooming in his chest so often and intensely. “The rent control did it for you, huh?”

 

Clarke nods, minutely, then seems to understand that was his way of saying ‘yes, obviously’ and nods more frantically in the few seconds it takes to latch her mouth over his. Everyday he’s with her, he feels like he’s gotten away with something. Bad, or good, he doesn’t know, probably depends on who he asks, but he wouldn’t change a thing. Her fingers tighten in his hair, and when she pulls back, he chases her mouth automatically. 

 

“She can say whatever she wants.” She touches her forehead to his, and when she speaks his eyes spring open, watching her carefully. The small crease in her forehead, her kiss-bitten lips slightly parted, long lashes fluttering against her flushed cheeks. “Even if she got you first, you’re still mine.”

 

“You’re mine too,” he rasps, his voice thick with desire. He’s never had anyone who wanted him, completely, all of him, no take-backs or exceptions. His instistent stubbornness, his unreasonable temper, his stupid jokes to get himself out of an emotional conversation while smirking smugly. “Dirty laundry and boyfriend stealing tendencies and all.”

 

She laughs, pinching his shoulder before stepping back from him, a stupidly big grin on her face matching his as she holds out her hand for the keys. “Let’s go home. I’m cold.”

 

“I know. I wish I had a jacket.”

 

“What’s yours is mine. That’s how it works when you live together.”

 

“Having so many regrets already.”