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Play the Game (But Keep It Clean)

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They burst through the door in a flurry of heated kisses and roving hands.

 

Midway through struggling to get one high-heeled boot off, Clarke just manages to kick the door shut. It's barely slammed into place when she's suddenly being whirled around and pressed up against it with a soft thud, her back flush to its hard surface.

 

"Oh, fuck," she gasps as a set of hard teeth introduces itself to her neck, sending a surge of tingling goosebumps fluttering over her skin.

 

She can't see his face, but she feels his mouth curve against her collarbone with a smile, a rush of warm breath flooding over her already overheated skin.

 

"Trust me," he promises, his low baritone rough with desire. "I'm planning on it, princess."

 

She grins, tangling her fingers into his inky black curls so she can tug him up for another kiss.

 

It's going to be a good night, she can tell.

 

 


 

 

"Let me get this straight," Raven says calmly. "You took the hot guy home — the one with the arms. You guys were making out the entire Uber ride back to your place. He had you up against your door, you were ripping his shirt off. And then he… cleaned your apartment?"

 

Clarke doesn't bother to remove her hands from where they're pressed over her eyes. What for? She already knows what Raven's you're-fucking-kidding-me face looks like.

 

A low whistle sounds. "Wow. You're way rustier than I thought."

 

That makes her sit up.

 

"I'm not rusty," she snaps irritably, raking a hand through her hair. "I just… had a unique hook-up experience."

 

Raven cocks a brow. "He cleaned your apartment, Clarke. The place where you live. He was right there, literally between your legs, and he hit the pause button. To clean your apartment."

 

"Unique," Clarke insists.

 

Raven shakes her head, her ponytail whipping about her face. "That guy I went home with a couple months ago? The one who brought out the fruit-shaped ice cubes? That's unique." She jabs a finger in Clarke's direction, accusatory. "Your one-night stand was practically sponsored by Ajax."

 

Clarke pushes back in her chair, arms folded across her middle. "Almost one-night stand, you mean," she grumbles, half under her breath.

 

A loud crash sounds from across the coffee shop. One of the baristas have dropped something. Whatever it is, it doesn't sound like it survived the fall.

 

Raven leans forward, brows furrowed. "'Almost'," she repeats carefully. Like she's testing the word out for herself.

 

Clarke briefly considers the merits of simply getting up from the table and walking away right now.

 

"You're telling me you didn't even have sex with him?!"

 

Clarke springs forward in her chair, gesturing frantically at her friend. "Jesus, Raven," she hisses, looking around warily. "A little louder, maybe? I don't think they heard you out in Tucson."

 

"How have you even survived this long?" Raven demands, her dark brows knitted tightly. "Like, in life?"

 

"Porn and vibrators," Clarke says wearily, painfully aware of how it comes out much more a lament than a quip. She runs a self-conscious hand through her hair. "Look, I was exhausted, okay? It was two-thirty in the morning, it took me fucking forever to find the antibacterial wipes, I sat down on the couch for a quick break, and the next thing I knew, it was lights out."

 

Raven makes a toneless, half-strangled sound in the back of her throat. "You fell asleep? Before sex? With him still in the apartment?!"

 

Clarke pushes back from the table exasperatedly, throwing her hands up in the air. "Yes, Raven. Perfect. I was really looking for a list of all the ways in which that was a bad move. Just what I needed. Thank you."

 

Raven clicks her tongue impatiently, sweeping her ponytail back over her shoulder. "What happened next?"

 

Clarke crosses her arms over her middle, squinting into her coffee mug. "He left." She scrunches her nose. "At least, I think he left right away."

 

Her friend leans back in her chair, head shaking side to side with a mixture of disappointment and disapproval. "God, Clarke. He could have cleaned you out, right then and there." Her gaze narrows pointedly. "And not in the good way."

 

Clarke scoffs dryly. "Yeah, well. He didn't, so that's good enough." She sighs, leaning back in her chair. "And as for the other thing? I guess we'll never know."

 

And she means it, too — until about twenty minutes later.

 

Barely sixty seconds after Raven gets up from the table to leave, she hears the distinct sound of a throat being cleared.

 

"Your lunch break is over, Raven," she says, not even bothering to look up from her sketchpad. "You can't skip out on the rest of the work day just to lecture me on how to have a one-night stand."

 

Strangely enough, what follows isn't a scornful scoff or a razor sharp comeback.

 

Not even a laugh.

 

No, all she's hearing is… silence.

 

She looks up slowly, her heart stopping cold in her chest. Oh no.

 

"Hi," she says, struggling to keep her voice steady. "Uh—"

 

"Bellamy," he offers, the smile on his face almost enough to distract her from the slight flush blooming across his cheeks. He's holding a fresh mug of coffee in one hand, steam wafting from the rim. His hair is mussed, but in the soft, tousled way that makes her want to run her fingers through it instead of a comb.

 

Fuck, how is he even better looking in the daylight?! One-night stands aren't supposed to look better in the daylight.

 

Almost one-night stands, she corrects herself grudgingly.

 

And then she remembers that she hasn't actually said anything.

 

"Yeah, no, hi," she says quickly, dropping her pencil. "I remember. Bellamy. Yes." She pauses, fidgeting nervously. "Hi."

 

Never say 'hi', she silently orders herself, ever again in your life.

 

Thankfully, Bellamy doesn't look as turned off by her momentary malfunction as she feels. He blinks, waving his mug gingerly around the coffee shop. "I was waiting in line, and then I saw you, so I thought— I mean, when your friend left—"

 

He hangs there for a beat, looking at her uncertainly. It's almost funny, really. It's like someone's hit the pause button on him. She'd laugh if she weren't so preoccupied with the task of fighting through her own nervous embarrassment.

 

Abruptly, he raises a hand, gesturing at Raven's vacated chair. "Do you mind?"

 

She starts, jumping forward in her seat to gather her things. "Oh, yeah. Sure." She pulls her sketchpad and mug — which is nearly empty — back over to her side of the table, making room for his drink. "Go ahead."

 

As he slides into the empty seat, she tries very hard to remind herself that it's rude to stare — but, honestly, she can't help it. He wears glasses. He doesn't look terrible in them either. (In fact, she thinks he might even look hotter in them, which, okay, that's just plain unfair.)

 

He settles into his chair, and she settles back into hers.

 

An awkward silence descends.

 

"What are—" she asks, at the same time he starts to say, "Are you—"

 

Fuck, she swears silently, dropping her gaze and hoping that her hair hides just enough of her furiously reddening cheeks. Why can't you just suck at sleeping with hot people? Why do you have to suck at talking to them, too?

 

Bellamy clears his throat, gently breaking the silence. She's never been more grateful for the clearing of a throat in her life.

 

"I think I owe you an apology."

 

Her head snaps up so fast she almost gives herself whiplash. "What?"

 

To her surprise, Bellamy seems… well, nervous. He's looking at his mug instead of her face, tendrils of thick, dark hair curling over his forehead and brushing over the tops of his glasses.

 

"About last night," he clarifies, his thumb rubbing restlessly along the rim of his coffee mug. The cadence of his speech is stilted, like he's deliberately trying to slow the words as they spill out of his mouth for fear of losing control over them altogether. "When we— er, when I—"

 

"Put your shirt back on and started folding my laundry?" she supplies cautiously, both brows raised.

 

"That," he says with a nod. "And the part after that, with your kitchen counter. And your dishwasher."

 

The tips of his ears are bright red, Clarke notes. She's endeared enough by the sight that she half forgets to be nervous.

 

"Are you kidding?" she says, injecting a small scoff to punctuate her incredulity. "Why are you saying sorry for cleaning my apartment?"

 

Bellamy exhales tightly, a stream of warm air jetting out between his pursed lips. "I've recently been informed that that might not have been model hook-up behaviour." He grimaces. "Very, very thoroughly informed."

 

All of a sudden, it's a huge struggle not to laugh.

 

Clarke tilts her head, clamping down on the urge to smile in an effort at appearing sympathetic. "Got the third degree from your know-it-all best friend?"

 

"Know-it-all roommate," Bellamy says with a sigh, looking significantly relieved but still vaguely uncomfortable. A crease forms between his brows. "Who was definitely not expecting me to walk into our living room anytime that night."

 

It takes her an extra beat to figure it out. When she gets there, she wrinkles her nose. "Oh, God. You didn't catch him—"

 

"They were done," Bellamy reassures, his lips curving with a small grin despite himself. "The worst was over, and all the, uh, important parts were covered." He blinks, his own nose scrunching. "Well. Mostly."

 

She feels like it's safe enough to risk a small laugh. "See, this is why I don't have a roommate. Too much risk of interfering with my sex life." The line of her mouth melts into a wry smile. "Which is already pathetic enough without external help. As I'm sure you've guessed."

 

He shrugs, his eyes lighting up with amusement. "I don't know. I'd say you've got some game."

 

She doesn't even bother trying to hide her smile despite knowing full well that it's ruining the flat look she's currently attempting to level at him. "I fell asleep before the game even started, Bellamy. I went lights out before the whistle was even blown. You don't have to patronise me."

 

He leans forward, cupping his mug with both hands. "You managed to get me in your court," he points out, his mouth twitching at the corners. "That's game."

 

"I managed to get you to clean up my court," she corrects, shaking her head in feigned despair. "That's lame."

 

He laughs then, his eyes crinkling with the force of it. His cheeks bow upwards and outwards, and she finds herself wanting to trace the shape with her finger.

 

Fuck. He's not just hot. He's cute, too. Like, she doesn't just want to bang him anymore. She wants to talk to him, and listen to him talk, and find out what his fucking favourite colour is and shit.

 

"Well," he says, grinning at her across the table, "to be fair, I volunteered. Which probably puts us on the same side of the 'game' versus 'lame' scale."

 

"We suck," she agrees, letting a smile stretch across her own face. "We should sign up for a class, or something."

 

"Or get a coach," he adds, his palm curling around his mug.

 

She swallows, her fingers clenching around her pencil. "Or, we could, I don't know. Get together and compare notes."

 

She doesn't quite dare to meet his gaze, but she can feel it trained on her downturned eyes.

 

The pause stretches on for half a beat longer.

 

"Yeah," he says slowly, carefully — but not reluctantly. "We could."

 

Fuck it, she decides. She's not going to try and second-guess his meaning. She feels reasonably confident that Bellamy says what he means and means what he says. After all, he'd been straightforward enough to tell her, a total stranger, that he literally could not focus on no-strings sex until he did something about her messy apartment.

 

After that, she's willing to go on a little (read: a lot of) faith here.

 

"Like maybe tonight," she blurts out before she can lose her nerve. She looks up, trusting herself to meet his eye. "Over a drink or two?"

 

A slow grin works its way across his face.

 

"Now, that," he says, eyes bright, "was game."

 

 


 

 

They don't end up back at her apartment that night.

 

They don't end up back at her apartment the next night, either.

 

In fact, it's a full week and four dates before Bellamy walks through her front door for the second time — only this time, she's prepared.

 

In its haste to get under her shirt, his hand accidentally knocks a packet off the counter he's currently got her pressed up against. He tears his lips from hers, the automatic apology dying on his lips once he turns his head to stare at the fallen object. 

 

"Antibacterial wipes," he says, his voice still rough with arousal but light with wonder. He drags his gaze back up to hers, his lips quirking in a smirk. "You giving me a hint, Clarke?"

 

"Yes," she says dryly, scraping her nails lightly against the back of his neck, the skin pleasantly warm under her fingertips. "It means I actually like you enough to be open to your weird cleanliness kinks."

 

His brows shoot up on his forehead. "It's basic hygiene! That's not—"

 

The rest of his words are cut off by the press of her mouth to his.

 

Judging from the way she can feel his smile curving against hers, she's got a good feeling he doesn't mind the interruption too much.