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You're The Only Home I Know

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All things considered, Bellamy should not have answered the door at three in the morning.

He lives right across a college campus, for one, so it’s not uncommon for drunk college kids to turn up at his door at all hours of the morning. It mostly involves getting yelled at about contributing to capitalism and or being solicited for pot brownies, which is pretty harmless but nevertheless annoying. He’s taken to burying himself in his blankets whenever that happens but there’s only so much a thin layer of cotton can do.

That’s probably why he’s here , peering down at the blonde leaning against his doorframe with a brown bag clutched against her chest, brows pinched together in what he supposes is a look of intense concentration.

Sighing, he scrubs a hand over his face. “Listen. I’m not sure what it is you’re looking for, but I can assure you that I’m not interested.”

The girl blinks over at him, slow. “Did you-- wait, I’m not trying to sell you anything here.”

“Well, if you’re looking for advice on your thesis, swing by during office hours.” He snarks, taking in the loose Ark-U sweatshirt sliding off her shoulder, the pencil shoved through the pile of curls atop her head. “This isn’t the student services centre.”

She scowls, her eyes narrowing into slits. “I am aware of where I am, thank you.”

Her words are deliberately precise in a way that suggests she’s not trying her hardest not to slur, which only confirms his suspicions that she’s not entirely sober right now. Stifling a groan, he lets his head fall back against the ajar door, “is there anyone you can call to come get you?”

“I’m fine.” She insists, thrusting the brown bag forward clumsily. “I just came over to borrow some salt from you.”

His gaze inadvertently drops to her feet, noticeably bare, with tiny cats painted on her toenail. “Please tell me you didn’t walk all the way here without shoes on?”

Frowning, she shoves the bag against his bare chest. “Salt, please.”

The thought of her staggering around in the cold, all alone, causes a surge of protectiveness to rise up within him. Biting back a swear at whoever let this happen, ( someone should have been watching out for her, he thinks, resentful) Bellamy relents, backing up so she can duck past him and into the apartment.

Her movements are shuffling, awkward, and he breathes a sigh of relief when she collapses against his sofa. He’s pretty sure the narrow corridors and uneven floors would have been a bitch for her to navigate.

“Nice place,” she hums, approving, sinking into the cushions when she hitches her knees up. “You have the whole place to yourself, no roommates.”

Swallowing down a retort, he ducks into the kitchen, grabs a few stray salt packets left over from when last had takeout. “So, I take it that means you live in the dorms. Which one?”

“I don’t.” She huffs, adamant, only brightening when he hands over the packets.

“Do you really need all of them?” He asks, wary, as she unfurls the brown bag, beaming. The unmistakeable scent of greasy fries drifts out from it, and his stomach gives an involuntary rumble when she starts shaking the bag.

“You would think,” she declares, wide-eyed and mid-chew, “that Mcdonald’s would have mastered the art of making the perfect french fry by now, but no .”

“Maybe not according to your exacting standards.” He muses, deliberates if he should steal one. “Generally, I find it hard to complain over fries that cost a dollar fifty.”

Her scoff is pointed, swaying a little in her seat at the motion and he fights back the urge to reach over and steady her. “You-- you’re rude , you know that?”

“I’ve been told,” Bellamy agrees, swiping a fry when she yawns, head lolling back. Cursing under his breath, he grasps her elbow, jerking it slightly. “Shit, don’t fall asleep. I need you to sober up and tell me where you live.”

“Here,” she says woozily, fingers curling in the afghan he has draped over the couch and pulling it over herself, “I live here.”

She’s snoring in seconds .

“Drunk and delusional,” he grumbles, poking at her exposed ankle lightly with his finger. “Look, you can have the bed. Take it from me, sleeping on couches at your age just fucks up your back.”

The girl buries deeper under the afghan instead, snuffling. Glaring, he scoops up the remainder of the fries and dumps it into the trash, makes a huge spectacle of shoving it right under everything else in hopes that she’d wake, but a quick peek outside only confirms that she’s still sound asleep.

Retrieving a bottle of aspirin from his cabinet, he sets it down on the end table, slides over a glass of water too. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Bellamy mutters, flicking the lights shut before stumbling back into his room, slamming the door shut behind him.

Then, on second thought, props it open again. She’ll be a little disorientated when she gets up, and he should be around for when that happens. Collapsing onto his mattress, he rolls onto his back, noting blearily how the ceiling glows silver under the moonlight before he drifts off, warm and content--

He groans at the shrill of the alarm, jerking awake and fumbling for his nightstand until he manages to pull the plug. He had been counting on sleeping through his alarm and yet here he was. 

A part of him was begging to just bury his head under a pillow and go back to sleep for a few more hours-- then he remembers that there’s a virtual stranger on his couch and yeah, he should probably go deal with that right now.

Kicking off his sheets, he pads back out into the living room.

She’s already sitting up when he walks in, the afghan wrapped around her shoulders and bottle of aspirin balanced lengthwise over the rim of the cup. The expression on her face is downright mournful, and he’d laugh if he didn’t feel so bad about the entire situation.

“Hey,” he says, quiet, so as not to startle her. “Uh, I’m guessing your memory is pretty fuzzy right now, but--”

She gives a decisive shake of her head, clearing her throat. “No, I remember. Well, at least I remember the part where I barged in, demanding sanctuary.”

“And salt.” He adds, mostly because he can’t resist. “You were really committed to your cause.”

“Right,” she winces, rubbing at her temples. “I’m sorry, in case you couldn’t tell. This isn’t-- this isn’t something I do a lot, or anything.”

“I didn’t think so either.” He goes, before reaching over to take the cup from her. “How are you holding up now? Do you need me to call you a cab?”

The corners of her mouth twitch a little at that, amused. “I’m good, but thanks, uh--”

“Bellamy,” he says, his gaze snagging on the wisps of hair sticking out of her updo, the stray eyelash stuck against her cheek. It was disconcerting that she still looked pretty even when she was hungover. He pushes the thought aside, mentally berating himself for even noticing in the first place. “Anyway, I didn’t get your name either.”

That gets a real smile out of her, accompanied by a hoarse chuckle. “Yeah, I don’t doubt that. Anyway, it’s Clarke. I would say it’s nice to meet you, but I’m kind of mortified that these are the circumstances.”

“It’s not that big of a deal,” he snorts, rolling out the kinks of his neck. Honestly, he’s not exactly sure what the etiquette for this entire situation is, but he still asks anyway. “Want some coffee? I’m making a pot.”

“You do this a lot?” She asks, teasing, shedding the afghan off her shoulders before rising to follow him to the kitchen.

“Nah,” Bellamy says, nonchalant, flicking on the kettle before backing up a few steps. It was old, unpredictable, and had a knack for spitting boiling hot water at everyone within its vicinity. “I’m just making an exception because you let me have some of your fries. And because you walked all the way from campus without your shoes on. That’s impressive.”

“I hate to burst your bubble but I don’t live on campus. Not ever since I graduated, at least.” She replies, absentmindedly tucking a loose lock of hair behind her ear. “I stay in this building.”

“Oh,” he goes, dumbfounded, scrambling to figure out how he could have missed her in the first place. It wasn’t a large building to begin with, and she was anything but forgettable. “It’s just-- I thought I knew most of the tenants here.”  

“I just moved in.” Clarke nods, giving a careless shrug of her shoulder. “3C.”

“Right down the hall,” he muses, offering her a mug, clinking them together lightly when she takes it. “Consider this your official welcoming committee. This is about as good as it gets.”

Her laugh is low, throaty, a little unexpected but also something he thinks he could get used to. “I’m feeling right at home,” she tells him, and for some stupid, unfathomable reason, he believes her.

 

+

The next time he talks to her is two weeks after, when her microwave goes on the fritz.

He’s a little embarrassed that she caught him in his boxers, hair damp and towel slung over his neck, but then he catches her staring at the vee of his hips and it’s replaced by a warm, pleased feeling akin to smugness. (Bellamy’s stupidly proud of them, okay? It’s pretty gratifying that she noticed.)

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” He drawls, resting his weight against the door frame.

She looks away quickly, cheeks flushed, and his grin only grows wider. “Sorry, uh. I think I may have killed my microwave? And dinner is going to be a complete bust if I don’t get this re-heated, and I’ll have to get takeout for the third time this week, which is, you know. Definitely pushing it.”

“Well, at least that explains the god-awful noise just now.” He points out, mild, before standing aside to let her in. She’s still not wearing shoes this time- just a pair of knee-high socks that a lot of girls seem to like, except Clarke’s have miniature Mona Lisa’s stamped all over them. They’re cute, and he would have pointed it out to her if she wasn’t already inspecting his microwave.

“This definitely isn’t the microwave provided by the complex,” she says, accusatory, tapping her nail against the array of buttons. “Mine only had two functions: slightly charred and or burned to a crisp.”

He reluctantly retrieves his discarded shirt from the bathroom floor, pulls it on just as she’s sliding a congealed lump of lasagna onto a microwave safe dish. “Yeah, well. It was a gift from my sister last Christmas. She hated how her hair would smell whenever I got the oven going, so.”

“Lucky,” she sighs, wistful, handing him the plate.

Bellamy grimaces at the scent, pokes at it with his finger. “Are you sure this is still edible ?”

Yes .” She goes, a tad defensively, deflating a little at his arched brow. “It’s been sitting in my fridge for one week, tops.”

“Sure,” he says, not even attempting to disguise the sarcasm in his voice, “that’s probably why there’s mould growing on the sides of it.”

Clarke makes an indignant sound, folding her arms under her chest. “That’s the spinach, okay? Just give it here already.”

He yelps when she reaches over to swipe at the plate, ducking aside easily and raising it above his head, trying to rein in his wide smile when she glares, blowing a loose strand of hair out of her face before going up on her tiptoes.

“Listen,” he says, mock-solemn, dangling the plate higher out of reach, “I’m doing this for your benefit here, Clarke. Have you ever had food poisoning? It’s a real pain in the ass. I’m saving you from hours of agony, clutching at your toilet--”

She drops back onto her feet, rolling her eyes. “Pray tell, what would you suggest then?”

“I think I have some pasta lying around.” He muses, dropping the plate into the sink. “How do you feel about carbonara?”

“What? Bellamy, no .” She sounds distressed by the suggestion alone, her eyes going wide. “I don’t want to inconvenience you or--”

“It’s pasta, Clarke. It’s not like I’m making you steak frites or something, jeez.” He finds the lone packet at the back of his drawers- shaped like dinosaurs, which he has absolutely no recollection of buying- before reaching down to grab the bottle of sauce too.

“I just,” she groans, making an inarticulate gesture before letting her hands fall to her sides, “I don’t want to trouble you or anything. I could just get takeout, it’s not--.”

“You say, as the water comes to a boil.” He interjects, amused, ducking past her and emptying the contents of the bag into the water. “Seriously. It’s not like it’s hard, or anything.”

“Showoff,” Clarke mutters, but he can sense her relenting anyway, resting her hip against the counter as he stirs at the pot. A beat passes, and he can feel her gaze against the side of his cheek, considering and careful all at once, before she goes, easy as can be, “you like taking care of people.”

It’s not a question- she says it with too much conviction, too much curiosity for it to be- but it still feels like she’s waiting for a response, somehow. Bellamy shrugs, busies himself with adding seasoning to the churning water. It’s not something he feels like he has an answer to, and he can’t help but feel a little unnerved at the ease at which she had read him. He didn’t think anyone else noticed. It was so ingrained within him- this need to take care of others- that he didn’t see it so much as an option than it was a responsibility.

“I have a younger sister,” he says finally, working to keep his tone breezy. “It comes pretty naturally, I guess.”

She makes a noise of assent, twisting the cap of the sauce open with a flick of her wrist. He’s almost expecting her to pry further- to force his sob story out of him just like those guidance counsellors did, back when he was fourteen and naive- but she doesn’t push, just hands him another bowl instead.

“Don’t expect me to finish this all by myself,” Clarke declares, wry, and the knot around his chest loosens enough for him to start breathing all over again.

(She convinces him to eat two bowls worth of pasta after, insisting that they eat by the couch instead so they could heckle hockey teams that they knew nothing about while watching the game. It was surprisingly nice.)

+

In all honesty, Bellamy has never really tried the whole dating thing.

Sure, he’s had his fair share of hookups and the occasional date or two, but it’s never been anything serious . He never really liked anyone enough for it to go beyond that, and his last attempt at a relationship had fizzled out by the three month mark- though at least it had ended on amicable terms with Gina.

So yeah, Bellamy’s definitely not equipped to deal with the crush he has on his neighbour just down the hall. Especially not after she leaves him her phone number.

Staring down at the sheet of paper in his hand, he irons out the creases with the edge of his thumb. For when you want to cash in on those favors, she had dashed off in a looping scrawl, her number tacked on the back and signed off with a simple C .

She must have shoved it into his mailbox before work, he realises, his mind dredging up a dim recollection of her mentioning how her morning shifts at the E.R began absurdly early. Rucking his fingers through his overgrown curls (a nervous tic, according to his sister), Bellamy slots the paper into the pocket of his jeans, resolves to deal with it later.

He was already late for his lunch with Octavia anyway. He didn’t need anything else to stress him out further.

Turning away resolutely, he slams his mailbox shut, hissing at the pain that shoots up his elbow at that. It happened more often than he liked- his hand getting caught in the grate, that is- but this was the first time it had broke through skin, blood bubbling over his knuckles.

Letting loose a furious stream of curses, he trudges back up to haphazardly tie a bandage over it, ignoring the furious buzzing of his phone that was probably Octavia demanding to know where he was.

“Finally,” she snipes when he arrives, fifteen minutes late. “I was considering chewing off my own arm if you were going to take any longer.”

He grunts, slumps further down in his seat. “Something came up.”

Octavia wrinkles her nose over at him, “does it have to do with the blood-soaked bandage you’re currently sporting?”

It seemed a lot more plausible than trying to explain how he had been panicking over his distinctly non-platonic feelings for Clarke. “Yeah.” He goes, feeling for the crisp edges of her note in his pocket, “just had to get it sorted out before I came over.”

“Make sure it doesn’t get infected,” she says, already distracted by the menu.

She launches straight into wedding talk once the ordering is out of the way, going off into a tirade about the absurd amount one of the wedding planners had wanted to charge her, and what did he think of an outdoor reception instead? Or, maybe--

Bellamy responds dutifully for the first half an hour, tunes out sometime after. Most of it didn’t require an actual response anyway, knowing his sister, and he had no doubt that Lincoln would be able to handle anything she threw his way. He’s quietly contemplating ordering another plate of onion rings when he realises that she’s stopped talking, eyeing him apprehensively as she chews on her bottom lip.

“What?” He straightens, instinctively reaching for her. “Fuck, did-- what did you say? Did something happen?”

“It’s just,” she pauses, searching for the words, her fingers beating out a senseless rhythm on the table top. “You’re dating, right? You’re putting yourself out there?”

It’s unexpected enough that he can’t help but snort, tension draining out of his muscles. “I thought you were asking me about something serious, O.”

She gapes, “Are you saying your love life isn’t?”

“It’s not something you should be worrying about,” he points out, exasperated. “Now, are we done yet? Do you want a sundae or should I get the bill?”

“I don’t want a sundae ,” Octavia says, in a terrible approximation of his voice. “And this is serious, Bell. The last time you dated someone, you were in college. That was five whole years back, okay?”

He thumps his palm over his chest dramatically, shoots her a mock-wounded look. “Don’t remind me, O.”

Giving an impatient growl, she leans forward on her elbows. “I just want you to be happy, alright? I know,” she falters, wrangling her fingers together, “I know you didn’t date all those years because you were too busy trying to take care of me. Trying to raise me when mom didn’t.”

There’s a quiver in her words that makes his heart ache, mingling with a dull sense of resentment that he could never seem to shake whenever their mother was brought up. “Hey. It wasn’t-- it was my choice. You didn’t make me do anything.”

“That’s not the point,” she sighs, taking his outstretched hand. “Sometimes, I feel like you just don’t let yourself be happy, you know? You’re always looking out for someone else, or acting like you don’t deserve to be, which is ridiculous . You’re the best person I know, and I want you to be happy.”

His eyes feel stupidly hot, and he has to force the words past the lump in his throat. “Thanks, O.”

“Of course,” she sniffles, before going back to poking at her salad.

She gives him a fierce hug before they part ways, mumbling about how he better get a tux before her wedding, or so help her, god --

“I’ll come in bermudas,” he tells her, and receives a pinch on his elbow in return.

He knows he should head back soon, get started on grading those essays that he’s been putting off since last weekend, and yet . He finds himself buying the expensive coffee-maker he’s had his eye on for awhile instead (fucking kettle needed replacing anyway), meandering around town until he gathers the courage to drop Clarke a text. It takes him three tries, but he finally gets it right on the fourth, sends it off before he can overthink it.

She replies within the hour, and he saves her as a contact after, trying (and failing, miserably) to keep the grin off his face for the rest of the day.

 

+

He never used to be particularly attached to his phone.

Texting always felt more like a chore than anything, only worsened by how much his friends complained about how bad he was at it. Jasper had given him the cold shoulder for a week after he had replied to one of his messages with a single k , and Octavia’s messages were impossible to reply to considering he had no idea what lmfao meant.

But texting Clarke was easy. Fun, too.

They hardly agreed on anything (re: team cap versus team iron man, the merits of sugar in coffee) which of course led to hour-long discourses explaining their respective stances, which also, sometimes, dissolved into petty name-calling before either of them relented and apologized. (Stupidly heartfelt apologies from both sides, sometimes, and it made him feel embarrassed as much as pleased.) But it kept things interesting, definitely, and he liked that they could disagree on almost everything and yet agree on being friends.

And that’s what they were, Bellamy often reminded himself. Just friends. And he’ll be damned if he screwed that up.

His phone gives a faint shrill in his pocket just as he’s heading out of the door (already five minutes late for work) and against his better judgement, checks it instead.

Guess who just got off a 12-hour shift and accidentally spilled a pot of coffee all over herself

Biting back a smile, he’s barely tapped out his response when he hears the sound of a footfall on the stairs accompanied by a muttered curse--

She brightens when she sees him, which does funny things to his insides and is probably really bad for his health, in general. “Hey! I just texted you.”

“I know,” he says, giving an awkward half-wave that he wishes he could take back immediately, “I was just about to ask you to send me a photo to prove it, but I’m glad I got to witness it in person.”

“Shut up.” Clarke laughs, fond, fishing her keys out of the pocket of her scrubs. “I’d like to see how functional you are when you’re surviving on only two hours of-- wait, what did you do to your hand?”

He blinks, realises she’s staring intently at his bandaged one, the one still clutching at his phone. “Oh. Uh, I lost a fight with my mailbox.”

The concern on her face quickly melts into irritation, and she’s glaring down at his hand like it’s personally offended her. “I know what you mean. I keep telling the super that the mailboxes are a fucking death trap, but they just won’t listen to me.”

“Oh yeah,” Bellamy snickers, tensing when she takes his hand, her touch gentle as she begins to unravel the bandage. His breath hitches in his chest, and he has to fight against the instinct to close his eyes, “they’re particularly great at not giving a shit, I’ve come to realise.”

“I wish I could make them listen.” She mutters, her tone reproachful, bellying the soft press of her fingers as she assess the wound before tying it off again. “You cleaned it out before wrapping it, right?”

“Uh, I washed it.”

She arches a brow at him. “With soap, I hope?”

“Oh, definitely. Well, at least on the day it happened.” He agrees, entirely too innocent, her eyes narrowing in suspicion when he grins over at her. “Now if you don’t mind, I have to get to work.”

“Bellamy Blake,” she says, sweet, “are you telling me you didn’t flush out the bacteria from your wound? And you let it fester for days?”

“See you later,” he chirps, barrelling down the stairs and hailing a cab the minute he hits the streets.

True to form, he gets a text minutes later, one-word and in all caps, SOAP.

He fires back a quick one, nearly forgets to tell the driver to take the turn he’s supposed to, seems complicated, might need supervision.

Her reply is instantaneous, makes his traitorous heart skip a few beats against his ribcage.  

Tough job, but someone’s gotta do it. :)

 

+

Tradition dictates that Wednesday nights are meant for hanging out at Gina’s bar, so Bellamy shows up despite the overwhelming amount of grading he has to do.

Miller’s already tipsy by the time he arrives, draped over Monty and generally being melodramatic about his life (which is the highlight of whenever Miller gets drunk, really) so he swipes a beer from behind the bar (saluting Gina in the process) before sliding into the booth next to Raven.

“Is he bragging about his love life yet?” He asks, mild.

“That was five minutes ago,” Raven replies, snide. “Now he’s going on about his dead end job and why he believes the 2005 version of pride and prejudice was the worst.”

“He’s only saying that because he doesn’t like Keira Knightley,” he says, automatic, wincing at the swift kick he gets for that, “for fuck’s sake, Nathan.” (It was Nathan whenever Bellamy was mildly irritated, Nate whenever he was mad because it was too much of a hassle to say his name in its entirety when he was yelling.)

Monty reaches over to pat his knee sympathetically, “He’s not that drunk yet. He still recognizes when you’re trying to expose him for the big nerd that he actually is.”

You’re the only one who can say that and escape unscathed,” he mutters.

“Boyfriend privileges.” Monty goes, straight-faced, but it was impossible to miss the hint of pride in his voice.

The rest of the night goes by in the same way: an over the top Miller, followed by a drunk, competitive Raven who proceeded to trash him at darts before going to make out with Gina by the bar. Even Monty, who was normally the most subdued of the lot, had insisted on taking him on for quarters which meant Bellamy was definitely tipsy by the time Clarke called.

Swiping his finger across the phone screen, he shoves it into the crook his shoulder instead, his hands still trembling faintly after that last round of quarters.

“Okay, I don’t even need to ask to figure out that you’re not at the apartment,” she begins, amusement coloring her tone. “Which kind of makes the whole point of me calling you moot.”

He hiccups, suddenly and inexplicably fond of her, of everyone at the bar. “That’s okay. I like listening to you talk anyway.”

Her laugh is light, faint in all the hubbub. He presses the phone closer to his ear, deliberates wandering out instead. “I just wanted to whine about how I lost my netflix subscription, and then beg you to let me come over and watch this documentary I’ve been dying to catch since I saw it being advertised.”

“How come?” He asks, lurching to his feet, nearly trips over Miller’s outstretched legs as he stumbles to the exit.

“It was my ex-girlfriend’s account,” Clarke admits, sounding a little guilty at that. “But she just changed the password today, so, yeah. To be fair, I’m just surprised she didn’t do it sooner.”

The night air is cool against his face, sobering him slightly, but not nearly enough. “Just take my spare key from under the mat and let yourself in. I’m on my way back, so we can watch it together.”

A beat passes, then two.

“Really?” She asks, apprehensive. “You sure you don’t mind?”

“You’re my friend,” Bellamy declares, woozy, has to steady himself by grasping at the wall. “Of course I don’t mind. Get comfortable, make some popcorn.”

He can briefly make out a noise of affirmation on her end before he hangs up, sweeping his hand out to hail a cab. A rational part of him suggests dropping Raven a text to inform her of his departure, but it was hard to type in full sentences when the cab kept jerking under him. Squinting at the brightness of his phone screen, he sends out the message anyway, leans out of the window so the wind could cool his feverish skin.

The world stops spinning by the time he gets out of the cab, and he’s a little proud at how steady his hands are when he fits his key into the lock, twists it open easily. The smell of popcorn envelopes him instantly when he toes off his shoes, ducking into the kitchen.

His first thought is that she looks comfortable - hair loose and dressed in a oversized sweater, knee-high socks again, but with a starry night print this time- and she’s humming as she sets two bowls out, his afghan blanket looped around her shoulders.

And in this moment, he wants so badly that it hits him like a physical blow to his chest.

They said that love was all-consuming, that it razed everything in its path and often made little to no sense. And maybe that’s why it never appealed to him: because passion was something he already had in spades, fire, too. Bellamy didn’t want any of that- he wanted this . It felt quiet and calm but unyielding amidst chaos, steady, like the knowledge that he could look up at the night sky and pick out the same constellations every time.

He didn’t know if he was in love with Clarke Griffin. At least, not yet. But she felt like peace, and he had never wanted anything more.

“You’re back!” She beams, cradling the bowl of popcorn to her chest. “I wasn’t sure what you preferred, so I just made both the sweet and salty mixes. Hope that’s okay.”

“Salty,” he croaks out, composing himself before grabbing a handful from the bowl anyway, “but I’m not all that picky, so it really doesn’t matter.”

“Ugh,” Clarke groans, waving him off. “That’s such a copout. It’s like saying you never had a favorite power ranger.”

“I liked all of them equally ,” he says, prim, mostly just to aggravate her, grinning when she has to physically clench her teeth to keep from retorting.

She boots up the documentary, drapes the afghan over both their legs and settles in. They’re halfway in when she brings it up, struggling to remove it from the pocket of her jeans.

“The spare key,” she reminds him when he stares back blankly. “You know, you should really think of better places to hide it.”

“Keep it.” Bellamy says, the words tumbling off his lips effortlessly. “Octavia would kill me if I gave out our netflix password anyway.”

At her hesitation, he adds. “You’re my friend, Clarke. I trust you.”

For a second, he thinks she might actually give it back. Then her fingers curl over it, careful, as if it was something precious and breakable.

“Okay,” she says, thoughtful, and they don’t bring it up again.

 

+

Clarke starts showing up at his place with increasing frequency after that, to the point where he grows used to her presence at the apartment in the months that pass; even comes to expect it.

Mornings start like this, now: he rolls out of bed, gets the coffee machine started up, and takes a shower. Clarke barges in about fifteen minutes after, breakfast in hand (usually some variation of a bagel or toast, but she insists that it’s better that he eats something rather than nothing at all) and the tradeoff commences. Sometimes she’ll grumble about how he never puts enough sugar in her coffee, and he’ll snipe at her about skimping on the jam, and other times it’s simply spent in companionable silence, her knee pressed up against his while he reads the paper and she sketches.

And on the days when her shifts begin at some unholy hour, she still lets herself in anyway, leaves breakfast in his microwave and the coffee machine on.

Nights are different- doesn’t have as much as a set rhythm as it does for mornings- but he doesn’t startle when he comes home to find her asleep on his couch, the glow of the TV casting flickering shadows against her face. It’s easy to tell when she had a bad day, because the first thing she does is curl up in his warmth, pressing her face against his neck and snuffling; seeking affection, and Bellamy’s always happy to give it until she starts talking, even and low and quiet.

It’s the same for him, really, and he never knew how much he liked people playing with his hair until she starts doing it, easy as can be, nails ghosting across his scalp and making him lean into her touch.

“You’re like a cat,” she tells him, amused, delving her fingers back into his curls when he nudges at her hand. “Too fucking proud to just ask for affection, so you just go around bumping against my hand and yowling until I get the message.”

“I’m a rottweiler.” He says, just to be difficult, jolting into awareness when he remembers the question he meant to ask her. “Hey, did you move all the butter knives? Because they’re not in their usual place.”

She shrugs, picks at her nails nonchalantly. “Okay, so I may have reorganized your kitchen a little. It’s not a big deal.”

He arches a brow at her, has to work to keep his voice even. “I had to eat ice cream off a plate, Clarke. Because apparently, all my bowls have disappeared into a black hole that is your attempt at organization.”

Her mumbled response sounds suspiciously like well, you should have checked the top cabinet, you dummy.

Bellamy groans, drops his head back against her shoulder. “You’re lucky that I still like you.”

“I’ll draw you a map of where everything is,” she chirps, dropping a smacking kiss against his forehead (she did it often enough that he doesn’t even blush anymore, just hides his smile in the curve of her arm) and they lapse back into silence, her fingers carding through his hair once more.

It would have constituted as a typical Wednesday night, really- if Clarke hadn’t pressed something into his palm just as she was leaving, avoiding his eyes pointedly as a flush overtakes her face.

He grins, dangles it in front of her. “What’s this for?”

“Don’t flatter yourself.” She mumbles, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. “Sometimes I leave the stove on, okay? And I don’t want to see my apartment get blown into smithereens.” 

Clutching at his chest dramatically, he widens his eyes, makes sure to inject as much solemnity he can in his voice. “Not on my watch.”

“You’re a fucking nerd,” she complains, leaning forward so a curtain of hair falls over her face. He wonders if she realises that the skin of her neck is mottled pink, too.

The key she gives him is painted a metallic purple, and he slides it onto his keyring after.

 

+

It falls silent when he ducks into the booth, his head clipping against the swinging light overhead and making him wince.

“What?” He asks, searching their faces, finding only undisguised curiosity and maybe a hint of annoyance from Raven. But then again, it’s Raven, and being judgemental of his life choices is her default setting. “What happened?”

Jasper sucks in a sharp breath, and just like that, he knows he’s enjoying this. Hell, the guy’s milking it for what it’s worth. Fucking drama queen.

“This is an intervention,” he proclaims, grave, and Miller- despite his part in this- angles his face away so they can exchange simultaneous eye rolls. It’s a rare show of sympathy on Miller’s part, one Bellamy appreciates.

Sighing, he runs a palm over his face, contemplates if it will bode better for him to make a run for it. Probably not. “Look, if this is about my subscription to cheese connoisseur--”

“No one cares about your weird taste in literature, Bell.” Octavia cuts in, exasperated, though he can feel her knee bouncing alongside his, restless. “We’re here to talk about your neighbour. Your Clarke .”

He tenses, barely registers the pain when the muscle of his jaw pops. “What about her?”

“What’s not about her,” Miller mutters, yelping when Monty slugs him in the ribs. “I mean,” he hastens to add, “you’ve been talking about her for months, but we’ve never even met the girl. Don’t you think that’s a little weird?”

“Not in particular, no.” Bellamy retorts, directing the force of his glare over to Octavia. “You’re behind this, aren’t you?”

She has the nerve to preen a little at that, which only serves to piss him off further. “I don’t see what’s the problem here, Bell. You guys are friends, right? Just invite her here tomorrow. It’s not a big deal.”

And logically, he knows it isn’t, but still. It feels like a trap, somehow, as if Octavia would hold Clarke up to some kind of standard that she wouldn’t be able to reach. It puts him on edge, his teeth grinding together involuntarily.

“Clarke doesn’t like crowds,” he shoots back, crossing his arms over his chest.

She pitches forward instead. “Lunch, then. Just a one-on-one thing with me.”

“I said no , Octavia.”

A flash of hurt shows on her face, lips clamping together in a way that he knows means that she’s close to tears. It dissipates his anger instantly, the unease pressing down on his chest dissolving into guilt instead.

He clears his throat. “Can you give us a minute, guys?”

No one argues with that, thankfully, though Jasper does wilt a little in his chair, forcing Raven to physically haul him out of the booth.

“I don’t get it,” Octavia admits, her voice unusually small, “do-- do you think I’ll jeopardize it for you or something? Because I ruin everything?”

(The memory rises up in him, unbidden, back when she had barely come up to his knee, and how she would ask him with all the seriousness in the world, does mommy hate me? And--)

“I don’t think that,” he tells her, quiet, takes it as a good sign when she lets him take her hand. “You-- You’re one of the best parts of my life, okay? And I’m sorry about overreacting before. I was just worried.”

She laughs, wiping at her eyes before her fingers reach over, wrapping around his wrist to give an affectionate squeeze. “You really like this girl, huh?”

He makes a face at her, “Is it really that obvious?”

“Unfortunately,” she agrees, reaching over to swipe a sip of his beer. “But you know that you have nothing to worry about, right? If she makes you happy, I’m pretty sure I’m going to love her.”

He taps at her knuckles, loosening her grip so he can reach over and steal the beer right back. “Don’t think I won’t hold you to that, O.”

She groans, rolls her eyes at him. “Just text her already, won’t you?”

“Don’t tell me what to do,” he says, petulant, even though he’s already reaching for his phone by the time Octavia waves the rest of them over anyway.

His friends are ecstatic, of course, but Bellamy highly suspects that it has more to do with making fun of him variety rather than anything else.

“Cheer up,” Monty tells him, jiggling his elbow until he grunts in response. “It’s one drink. How bad can it be?”

“Knowing you guys?” He grumbles, snapping the lid of his second beer off in a single, clean movement. “It’ll be absolutely terrible.”

“That’s the spirit,” Raven intones, grinning, dropping her chin onto his shoulder when he swipes his thumb over his phone screen. Her crow of triumph is loud enough to make him scowl, “she said yes!”

And so it was decided: drinks the next day, at their usual booth after work.

Clarke had agreed that they should go to the bar separately. She had the day off while he had to invigilate the SAT’s after his usual class hours, and it just didn’t seem practical for her to wait around for him anyway.

(And it’s fine, of course it is. It just doesn’t put his mind at ease, that’s all.)

He’s nearly an hour late by the time he gets to the bar, wheezing and sweaty from his trek over, fucking grumpy --

Bellamy stops short at the sight of a familiar blonde hovering outside the bar, clearly dithering.

Stifling a laugh, he darts forward as quietly as he can, has to duck down slightly to line his mouth up right by her ear, “boo.”

She jumps, lets out a little scream before promptly trodding on his foot. “What the fuck, Bell?”

He can’t help it, he laughs, grabs onto her elbows to steady her. “Me? What the fuck are you doing? Weren’t you supposed to be in there an hour ago?”

“I was just going in,” Clarke says, not entirely convincingly. “I can’t believe you just did that. What are you, five?”

“I’ve heard worse.” He teases, loops an arm around her shoulders so he can rub at her back soothingly. “Or, you could have just been honest and admitted that you were nervous to go in alone.”

“Am not.” She declares stubbornly, nails scrabbling at the juncture of his shoulder until he gets the hint and pulls her closer, “it’s just a smidge of nerves, that’s all. I’ll be better after I had a few drinks.”

It’ll be easier to believe her if there wasn’t a light sheen of sweat forming against her temple, beads of it trickling down to the terse, clenched set of her jaw. Impulsively, he tilts his chin down and presses a kiss against her hair, lingering.

“They’ll love you,” he tells her, gruff, hopes that she’s too distracted to notice the catch in his voice, how he stumbles over the word they ; “and even if they don’t, fuck ‘em. They’re my friends but you don’t have to hang out with them. It’s not important.”

Her chuckle reverberates against the skin of his neck, makes him shiver before she disentangles herself from him. “They’re your friends , Bell. Of course it matters.” Then, looping her arm through his, she adds, “if it makes you feel any better, I’m really going to make an concentrated effort to get them to like me.”

“Don’t strain yourself.” He manages, palm dropping instinctively to the small of her back as they push their way into the bar, catching sight of Jasper’s shaggy hair instantly--

A loud whoop sounds from the table, a raucous cheer that sounds suspiciously like her name. He feels Clarke relax at that, sinking into his touch further, the edges of her mouth softening into an approximation of a smile.

“Honestly,” Bellamy adds, dry, as they take the last few steps forward and into the familiarity of the booth. “I don’t think you’ll even need to try that hard.”

 

+

(He doesn’t breathe easy until he catches sight of her, laughing drunkenly against Clarke’s shoulder, pulling at the loose strands falling from her bun while waxing lyrical about how fluffy Clarke’s hair is, and does she use a special type of conditioner? Maybe--

The weight lifts entirely when she presses a sloppy kiss to his cheek, mumbles, “Clarke’s cool, Bell. I like her. I think we should keep her.”

Lincoln’s smile is amused, expectant. Bellamy lets himself smile back, pats her hair before pushing her gently towards him.

“If she’ll have us,” he tells her, closing the car door gently behind him.

(He has a pretty good feeling about this one, though.)

 

+

It’s not exactly unusual for Clarke to ask him for help, so he doesn’t think much of it when she mentions it.

But it’s definitely the first time she’s being so cagey about it, so.

“Oh come on,” he wheedles, trailing after her as she stomps around her apartment, gathering paintbrushes scattered on every surface, “I said I’d help you either way! Just tell me what I’m supposed to be doing.”

“It’s not--” Clarke makes a frustrated noise, stops so suddenly in her tracks that he bumps up against her back. “I’m aware that it’s a lot to ask for, okay? That’s why I’m not telling you, because I’m immature enough to think that it would lessen your chances of backing out.”

He pushes at her shoulders lightly, chewing on the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing, “did I ever tell you that I find it great that you’re so self-aware?”

“Cute.” She deadpans, dropping her hand against the doorknob to her bedroom. “I have-- I have everything set up in here. Just keep an open mind, okay? And bear in mind that you’d be doing me a huge favour that would earn you a lot of friendship points.”

“Is it nude modelling? I could be into nude modelling.”

Her hand is still clamped, vice-like, over the knob when she says tartly, “maybe I just needed you to fix the sink in my bathroom.”

“After what I did to your radiator the last time?” He lays his hand over hers at her non-response, squeezes carefully. The bones of her fingers are small compared to his, bird-like. “Seriously. I’m not going anywhere.”

She sighs, shoulders slumping as she twists the knob open, “I wouldn’t blame you if you did.”

The paintbrushes lined up by the floor aren’t a surprise- Bellamy had figured a while back that the favor most likely had to do with the art blog that Clarke ran- but what confuses him are the canvas sheets laid out over her bed, the haphazard stack of pillows on her chair.

He raises a brow over at her. “What am I even supposed to be looking at?”

“Uh,” she hesitates, wringing her fingers together. “I was thinking you could lay here, that’s why the canvas sheet. It’ll be easier for me, to uhm. Paint on your back like this.”

There was a part of him that was tempted to tease her about her over-the-top reaction, but he could sense her wariness from here, and Bellamy honestly didn’t doubt that she’d find any excuse to throw him out on his ass if she could.

So he shrugs instead, nonchalant as can be. “When do we start?”

“Whenever you’re ready.” She says, rocking on the balls of her feet, buzzing with a kind of nervous energy that he didn’t think she could possess. It was at odds with the Clarke he knew- steady hands and even temperament, cool rationality.

(He wonders if anyone else ever saw her like this; shoves the thought away before he can dwell on it further.)

Peeling his shirt off, he flops down onto his stomach. The sharp intake of breath on Clarke’s part makes him grin stupidly against the sheet. Yawning, he pretends to roll out his shoulders, “so, any ideas on how I should entertain myself for the next few hours?”

Bellamy can feel her gaze against his back, trailing down his spine and to the top of his jeans. Then, briskly, she goes, “well, I wouldn’t be opposed if you started singing to pass the time.”

“Not if you want your mirrors intact.” He mutters, abandoning all pretence so he can get comfortable. “Bombs away, Clarke.”

“I’m getting to it.” She grumbles, and this time it’s his breath that hitches when she throws a leg over his, straddling the outside of his thighs. “Honestly, Bell. You’re so fucking pushy.

Her fingers are warm against his shoulder when she pushes it down further into the sheet, assessing. He holds back a shiver, tightens his grasp on the sheet. “Says the girl who barged into my apartment demanding for salt at three in the morning.”

“Bygones,” she laughs, and after a beat, adds, “the paint’s going to be a little cold, but try not to move around too much.”

He exhales shakily, tries to force himself to relax. “You know what? I think I’ll actually be pissed if this doesn’t get a 1,000 notes on your tumblr.”

Her laughter is slow, hazy, like she’s underwater; some place he can’t reach. “That’s the dream.”

It’s quiet for a while- just the sound of their combined breathing and the rustle of the sheet underneath him whenever he shifted, trying to be careful about it. Her brush strokes are even and measured across his back, the motions soothing once he got used to them, his thoughts drifting.

Then Clarke clears her throat, and he snaps back into awareness. “I told you about my dad, right?”

“You did.” He murmurs, wishes he could reach for her hand at this angle. The brush falters against his back before resuming its calming ministrations.

“But I, uh.” Her voice wavers at that, the faint tremble of her hand stark against his unmoving form, “I never told you about how I never really forgave my mom. I never-- I could never tell anyone , you know? Because what kind of person would I be, if I couldn’t bring myself to forgive my own mother?”

Reaching blindly into thin air, he finds her knee, grasps it. “You’re allowed to be mad, Clarke. You’re entitled to whatever you want to feel.”

The sound she makes is choked, impossible to discern if it was from laughter or tears.

But she keeps talking anyway, her voice going raspy when she starts to paint at the nape of his neck, her breath warm against his skin. It didn’t matter that he already knew everything that she was telling him; stories that Clarke had already told him once. This was different. Everything she told him before had been nothing but facts, merely the bones that held it together. But what she was telling him now-- it was her darkest thoughts, her feelings , and she had trusted him it with.

It was easy for him to reciprocate too, to tell her the things he never dared tell anybody, because it was Clarke . Because of all the people he knew, she would be the last person to hold it against him. Not for his mistakes, not for his failures.

She was half-asleep by the time she was done, curling up next to him on the sheet so they could wait for the paint to dry. And in the half-darkness of the room, Clarke’s hair glowing silver under the light, he thought about what he asked himself months back, if he loved her, and--

The answer was clear on his back, from what he could make out in the mirror propped up across him.

Because for every story he had given her, for every truth; she had painted a star along his back, impossibly bright against the vivid night sky, hopeful and yearning and good.

He swallows, closing his eyes, letting the sound of her breathing lull him to sleep.

 

+

The realization that he’s in love with Clarke doesn’t really change anything, considering it wasn’t exactly accompanied with step-by-step instructions on how to act on his feelings.

There was a logical, rational part of him (it sounded suspiciously like Miller) that just wanted to go for it already- ask her out, or at least tell her how he felt- but the thought of losing her stopped him cold.

Because in whatever situation he imagined, the ending was always the same: his feelings were unrequited, and their friendship was never the same after.

He didn’t think he could bear it if he lost Clarke.

So it went on like this, and he found that it got easier with time, became easier to live with. It felt like an irrefutable part of himself, something that burned low and quiet and simmered below the surface. Maybe she’d never feel the same way, but it didn’t matter anyhow; nothing she could have done would have changed the nature of his feelings for her. It was a good system, Bellamy would admit. Fool-proof too, but then--

Then Clarke goes on a date, and everything goes to shit.

She’s laid out all her outfit options on his bed by the time he gets back, humming softly under her breath, content, and he feels a pinch of jealousy in his gut that makes his stomach twist unpleasantly.

“I need your opinion,” she announces, gesturing to the neatly lined rows of clothes, “what do you think I should wear tonight?”

Bellamy grunts, slams the window shut with an unusual amount of force. The pane rattles as he latches it, glaring out into the street so he wouldn’t have to face her. “I don’t know. Shouldn’t you ask Octavia for this?”

“I trust your taste.” Clarke muses, oblivious to his bad mood. “Come on, Bell. Gun to head.”

He feels himself deflate at the mention of his name, said with a kind of affection that made looking at her even harder. Sighing, he pads over next to her, close enough so their fingers brushed, “I like the blue one.”

“I was thinking about that too,” she goes, holding it up against her chest. “I have the perfect shoes for it too, though it may be a little high for dancing.”

The words come out in a rush before he can stop them, more acidic than he thought he was even capable of, “she’s taking you dancing tonight?”

Her head jerks up in surprise, chin tilted in confusion at the venom in his tone. It shames him instantly- he has no right to be mad, to be jealous when he couldn’t even bring himself to tell her how he felt- and he drops his gaze to the ground, cheeks hot.

He’s taking me dancing,” she says, slow, brows furrowing. “Well, kind of. It’s a charity thing, so I assume there would be.”

“That’s nice.” He nods, has to work to keep his voice light, “bet you have two left feet though, so I have to say I’m pretty sorry for him.”

His words have the desired effect, cuts through the tension as she swats at his ass with the dress, her mouth twisted to scowl at him even though her eyes are bright, “I’ll have you know that I’m a great dancer, Bellamy Blake. I had lessons .”

“Right, like slow dancing requires skill.” He teases, dodging her second swipe easily, “it’s just swaying, Clarke. Not exactly rocket science here.”

Swaying ?” She says, her eyes widening comically. “Wait a minute. Please tell me you’ve done this before.”

“I mean, hypothetically--”

Her laugh is incredulous, and she clings onto his elbow while he sulks, takes his hand and places it against the dip of her waist. “Okay, I can’t let you get away with not having slow danced in your entire life, Bell.”

“Somehow, I highly doubt that I missed out on much.” He goes, dry, but reaches over to link their palms anyway. “Alright, here we are. What’s next, yoda?”

Clarke taps her foot against his, smiling. “Just start off with whichever foot.”

“I changed my mind,” he declares, taking a pointed step forward. “This definitely feels a lot like rocket science.”

“Well, now I’m just sad for whoever you tricked into going to prom with you.” She’s close enough now that her hair brushes up against his collarbone with every movement, smelling faintly of his shampoo. (Bellamy tries to forget that she showers over at his apartment from time to time, something about the water pressure being better. He can always tell when she does though, and those days are harder than most.)

“Hey, contrary to popular belief, there were a whole bunch of people who wanted to go to prom with me.” Their foreheads brush when he laughs, and instead of pulling away, she presses closer so that they’re resting against one another. “Uh, Miller for one. There were no cute guys in our town, so I was the best option. Octavia, only because she wanted to see the inside of a real high school.”

She gasps mockingly, her breath warming his cheek and trailing down the side of his neck, “so who did you pick?”

“Neither, surprisingly.” He tightens his grip on her waist when she nearly stumbles over a laptop cord, fights back a shiver when he feels her lashes fluttering against his cheekbone. “There was this girl, Roma. Uh, I guess she must have found nerdy boys from the debate club appealing.”

“That must be it.” Clarke muses, soft, and if he didn’t know any better, he would have thought that there was a hint of longing in her voice.

It’s enough to give him pause, hope flaring in his chest, sudden and disorienting all at once.

He drops his hand from her waist, skims it past her side before reaching up to cup her face instead. She’s goes still at his touch, gaze averted to the ground, and he presses his thumb against the edge of her mouth, shudders at the silver of breath that escapes from her.

“What about you?” He asks, raw, trembling from the exertion of holding still.

She swallows audibly, and her shiver is a full-bodied one, travels down to her toes as she leans against him more heavily. “What about me?”

“What,” he peers down at her from between his lashes, strokes his thumb over the curve of her cheek, “you never had a crush on any cute boys from debate club?”

“Just one,” she breathes, and he tastes his name on her lips when he finally closes the distance between them, sinking into her touch when she loops her fingers around his neck.

It’s open-mouthed and sloppy, all teeth clashing and noses bumping, and he contemplates slowing it down so he can savour it- but the thought that this maybe his only chance of kissing her, of being with her, makes him more frantic than ever, so he sucks a line of kisses down her throat instead, bites at her collarbone hard enough for her to mewl.

“Stop teasing,” she manages, bossy, once he’s detached himself from the spot on her neck, clawing at his shoulders when his lips make their way to her ear instead, “ Bellamy .”

He can’t help it, he laughs, drops his face against the hollow of her throat. “And you say I’m the pushy one.”

“You can be.” She murmurs, biting at his chin when he tilts it up to face her instead. There’s a softness in her eyes, a unsureness that makes his heart clench--

Then, muffled but audible, the sound of someone pounding on the door, a shout that sounds like her name.

“I told him that I was getting ready next door,” she says as a way of explanation, and the warm, hopeful feeling from before flickers out, hardens into something cold and hard and small.

“Right,” he nods, brisk, drawing away. “I’ll just go let him in then.”

Confusion overtakes her features, and dimly, he recognizes that she’s trying to take his hand.

He turns on his heel, forces back the heat building against his eyelids, striding to the door before she can say anything else to convince him to stay.

“She’s getting ready,” he snaps at the guy behind the door, pushes it open before him with his foot. “You’re welcome to wait in the living room.”

The aforementioned date blinks up at him- handsome and polished in a way that Bellamy knows he could never be, his suit pressed and clean and neat. “You must be--”

“Leaving.” He snarls, barreling past him and down the stairs, his pulse screaming in his ears.

It’s only when he’s halfway down the block when he realises he didn’t take his phone with him, or his wallet either. Fighting back a curse, he scrounges through his pockets, uncovers a library card and a dollar fifty.

Well. He can always re-read the Iliad until Clarke clears out.

Shoving his hands into his pockets, he takes a deep breath. Then another. His mouth still feels sticky from her gloss, and he wipes at it with the back of his palm.

One more shaky exhale, and he’s moving again.

 

+

It turns out that the library just isn’t as much fun when your usual hiding spot has been overrun by screaming toddlers, so Bellamy leaves just when they start throwing the cheetos around.

The apartment should be a safe-zone right now, and he could use the time before Clarke got back to gather up some of his things. Miller would definitely let him crash at his apartment for the next week or so if he asked nicely enough, and it would give him enough time to look up some alternative housing arrangements while he’s at it. Fucking up his relationship with the girl he’s in love with seems like a completely plausible reason to move, anyway.

He swears when the key snags in the lock, has to fumble to extricate it before slotting it in again, pushing the weight of his shoulder against the door--

Only for it to swing open first, and he catches a glimpse of blonde waves and blue before gravity kicks in and he’s stumbling over the threshold.

Thankfully, he manages to grab onto the door frame to keep from falling flat on his face, regaining his balance. “What-- Clarke, what are you still doing here?”

Her face is pinched, jaw set, and when she speaks, it sounds like it’s between gritted teeth. “You left without taking your phone ?”

“I wasn’t,” he swallows, tries to get some moisture back in his throat. She’s never looked at him like this before, angry and stony and hurt . “I wasn’t exactly thinking when I left, okay? I didn’t take my wallet either.”

“Clearly.” Clarke snaps, crossing her arms over her chest. “I was worried sick, Bellamy.”

It hurts to look at her still, like poking at the edges of a fresh bruise, worsened by the sight of the purplish mark on the juncture between her neck and shoulder. He groans, runs his palm over his face, “fuck, I’m so sorry.”

“Good.” She says, turning her face away but stepping aside to let him in. “Do you want to explain to me what’s going on, or should I fill in the blanks?”

The dress is still draped over his sofa, the shoes abandoned by the kitchen, a pang of regret taking root and settling against his chest, “I’m sorry I made you miss your date.”

She looks like she wants to say something about that, but her mouth snaps shut instead, fingers curling around her elbows. Then, quietly, “are you sorry about the kiss too?”

“No.” He gets out, grateful, at least, that his voice holds steady, “I’m not sorry about that. I may have awful timing, but.”

The moment stretches on, but Bellamy feels calmer now, secure in the knowledge that he knows how this is all going to end. Taking a deep breath, he continues, “I’ve wanted to tell you how I felt for a while now, and I should have, but I just didn’t know how . Not without changing our friendship indefinitely, and I didn’t want to lose you either. But the whole date situation threw me off, and--”

“It wasn’t a date.” Clarke interjects, abrupt, but at least she doesn’t sound angry now, just sort of weary. “That’s-- Bellamy, that was Wells. ” Her laugh is watery, the tension draining out of her as she slumps down onto the chair, kneading her temples. “I told you about him, remember? His dad is the mayor, and Wells always hated going to one of this shindigs alone.”

There’s really not much he can say in response to that, except perhaps, “oh.”

She meets his eye, determined and unwavering, says, “I’m not dating anyone because I want you , okay? The only person I want to go on dates with; to be with, is you, and--”

Her breath begins to hitch at the next word, eyes filling, and he reaches forward to kiss her lids, the sweep of her cheekbone, everywhere he can reach until she’s laughing instead, grasping at his face.

“You’re a jerk.” She tells him, kissing him, hard, her fingers curling around the nape of his neck so she can hold him close.

“Unfortunately.” He agrees, pulling away far enough so he can wrap his arms around her instead, nuzzle her neck. Her skin smells like his soap, too, and he wonders absentmindedly if she took another shower here to scrub off the makeup while he was gone. It’s a nice thought, and he presses another kiss to her collarbone, grinning when she shudders in his arms, squirming slightly. “You’re stuck with me though. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Unfortunately,” she echoes, smiling. “You hungry? I was thinking of getting takeout.”

Bellamy presses one last kiss to her hair, loosens his grip on her. He is hungry, and they can always back to kissing later anyway. They have all the time in the world. “I knew you were just in it for the food, Griffin.”

She shrugs, nonchalant, before delving her fingers back into his hair and giving him a kiss that makes his toes curl, “and then some.”