Clarke Griffin truly believes that a song can change your life.
Perhaps this is why she is always desperately trying to find new music, a headphone always in one ear. It drowns out the silence, too, which isn't a bad thing. Maybe if she finds the right song, everything will click into place and the world will finally make sense.
The only problem is that she doesn't know anyone in this new town. After finishing college with her art degree, she moved across the country, far from anyone and anything that she has ever known. She's not the best at making friends, and though she has been in town for 3 months now, she barely talks to anyone. She thinks she's fine on her own, but it would be nice to have someone to talk to every once and a while.
So, she wanders the streets aimlessly, both headphones in. She listens to the music and lets it take her far, far away.
A few weeks pass before Clarke stumbles upon the record shop.
She does literally stumble upon it. There's a doormat by the main door, and on the crowded street Clarke seems to lose her footing and fall right into the small shop.
Perhaps it is serendipity that brought her here.
Someone is helping her to her feet, and Clarke flushes, not realizing that she is still on the floor.
She turns to see who so kindly helped her up and is met with a man a few years older than herself staring at her intently. He's mouthing something at her, and she raises her brow in confusion. When she remembers her headphones, she feels the heat return to her cheeks.
"Sorry," she apologizes, taking one headphone out of her ear. "Sometimes I forget I have those in."
He gives her a small grin at that. Clarke notices then how attractive this man is, all freckles and dark curls and mischievous eyes.
"I said, are you all right?"
"I'm fine," she answers. "Is this a music shop?"
"It sure is. Anything in particular you're looking for?" he asks, tilting his head with interest.
"You work here?" she asks in return. She wouldn't have thought that, but many people wouldn't look at her and think 'artist' either.
He gives her another small, lopsided grin. "The owner, actually."
"Really? Wow. Well, do you have anything by The Wombats?"
"Do I have anything by The Wombats, she asks," he mutters, shaking his head. "Of course," he nearly scoffs. "Follow me."
He leads her right to the exact record she's looking for. He takes it from the shelf and hands it to her. "Is this what you're looking for?" he asks.
Clarke nods. "That's it."
She hands the record back to the man and he leads her to the cash register, where she pays and he suggests other bands that she might like. "If you like The Wombats, try Circa Waves and Cage the Elephant."
She smiles, making a new note in her phone.
It's as if he can see how much she hungers for new music, as if it is written on her forehead that she needs more music to fill her up.
"Thanks again..." She realizes that she doesn't know his name and trails off awkwardly.
"Bellamy," he supplies.
Clarke gives him her own lopsided grin. "Thanks again, Bellamy."
He smiles back. "Anytime..."
"Clarke," she tells him.
Clarke's family has always had money. It's not something that she really cares about, but it's something that others have always given her a hard time about. So no, she didn't have to worry about student loans, but Clarke worked her ass off to be the artist that she is. She's not exactly a big name yet, but she's making her way up. She has her own Saatchi Art page and sells her paintings pretty regularly. It's not a ton of money, but it's a start.
She's painting an outline of a man and before she knows it she sees Bellamy from the record store take form. The Wombats record is playing in the background, and she didn't actually mean to paint him. However, he was a fine specimen to look at, and his freckles were constellations that someone was sure to get lost in.
Maybe she wouldn't sell this one, after all.
She picks up a new canvas, a smile still etched on her face as she begins to draw a girl with headphones, lost in her own world.
She waits exactly three days before she goes back to the record shop, this time actually intending to end up there.
The sign outside says that the store is called "Spins and Needles".
Clarke has to grin at that. She remembers to pull a headphone out before she enters the store this time.
The store is a bit small, but not in a bad way. There's rows upon rows of records, and Clarke would bet that Bellamy knows where every single record in the store is located. She's only just met him, sure, but she understands people pretty well.
She spots him in the back corner of the store, moving records around, and changing price tags. She decides to wander on her own, with no need to bother him.
The singer in her ear tells about being different and how none of his friends understand. Clarke knows this feeling all too well, if she's being honest.
She picks up a record, reading the song names. She places it back on the shelf, exactly where she found it. It's almost as if she can feel Bellamy's eyes on her back.
Clarke doesn't mind though. It's nice to have attention from someone who is so attractive. It's been a while since she's had that.
It only takes Bellamy a few more minutes until he's by her side, asking her what she's looking for. She turns to him, adjusting her gaze upward to meet his dark eyes.
"I'm in the mood for something different," she says, looking around the shop. "What would you recommend?"
He looks at her for a moment before saying, "The Front Bottoms. Have you heard them?"
Clarke shakes her head. "No, I haven't."
"They're a little different, but I really like their sound. Hold on, let me grab it for you."
She smiles as he turns away. He really doesn't know how much this means to her.
When Clarke was a little girl, she used to pretend she was a princess. Her father would always laugh and tell her that she couldn't pretend to be a princess when she already was one. "Why not pretend to be a rock star?" he'd suggest. "Or what about a pirate or a cop?"
She would always refuse these roles. She had really wanted to be a princess. She wanted to sing her songs and find herself a prince that would sing the duet with her and love her until the end of time.
Of course, she was just a child then, not knowing that the world was far more complicated and messy than any Disney princess film could even begin to describe.
Music flutters through her studio and she paints and she paints and she paints.
Freckles, dark hair, and mischievous eyes are scattered all through her work. She hasn't had feelings like these in so long. It's like hearing a song that you knew a lifetime ago and struggling to remember the right words.
Clarke tries to remind herself that this whole thing is completely one-sided and that she is crazy and irrational.
That won't stop her from going back to the record shop tomorrow, though.
Bellamy has come to expect Clarke's presence. It seems like she's there every day now, still searching for that perfect song.
They've become an odd pair of friends, she thinks. The kind of friend that you know, but you don't really know.
But she intends to change that, and maybe even hopes for their relationship to evolve into something of a romantic relationship.
She thought he was attractive that first day, but she finds him even more attractive now. He wears flannels with worn band tees under them, light-wash jeans, and a pair of converse every single day. Sometimes he doesn't shave, and she even finds his scruff attractive, which is really saying something since it's far from the best beard she's ever seen. She feels her fingers aching for a paint brush.
"Looking for anything in particular today?" he asks her, pushing a dark curl out of his eyes.
"I thought you'd have something for me," she says, knowing full well that he has a record already waiting for her behind the counter.
He grins, his eyes lighting up. "This is a personal favorite," he starts, "and pretty much completely different than everything else that I've given you."
Bellamy hands her the record and she reads the artist's name aloud. "Sleeping at Last. Hmm, I think I've heard that name be before."
"If you watch Grey's Anatomy, you may have heard it from there," he says, a light pink creeping up his neck. It looks out of place on his tanned skin. Clarke smiles widely at him.
"You watch Grey's? Because I do too. Doctor was definitely my second choice after artist."
"You're an artist?" he asks, blush beginning to fade.
Clarke nods. "Yeah, you definitely haven't heard of any of my work though."
He gives her a weird look. "I wouldn't be so sure if I were you. My brother-in-law is an artist. Sells stuff online, I think."
"He does? What's his name?" Now Clarke was really interested. She'd love to get to know another artist in the area. She hadn't been with other artists in what felt like a long time.
Clarke bellows out a laugh. "Lincoln Komtri is your brother-in-law?" she asks, completely bewildered.
"Uh, yeah," Bellamy answers gruffly.
"I love his work," Clarke says, regaining her composure. "We sell on the same site."
She thinks of Lincoln's beautiful paintings of a dark-haired woman. She brings up a picture on her phone and hands it to Bellamy. "Do you know her?" she asks.
"That's my sister," he replies easily, handing her back her phone. Their fingers brush and Clarke feels tingles shoot up her arm. She tries her best to ignore it.
"Amazing," she whispers to herself. "Absolutely amazing."
When Clarke was in her senior year of college, she had a lot of doubts. There was no way that she would be able to make something of herself once she was out of school. She was terrified of falling flat on her face and admitting to her mother that she was right. Maybe she should have gone to medical school after all.
But then she got her Saatchi Art page and saw that people actually liked her work and would pay for it. It was like a dream come true.
Clarke knows that she's inexperienced and young. She knows that her art will change, and she will as well.
But when she puts on a record and picks up a paintbrush, she feels like nothing will ever change at all.
Against her better judgement, Clarke has posted one of her Bellamy paintings. She's half hoping that no one will buy it and half hoping that Lincoln will see it and show it to his brother-in-law.
Clarke laughs at how unlikely that is.
She visits the record store, two coffees in her hand. Since she's there early today, she thinks that she may as well bring Bellamy some coffee.
He's at the counter, a pen in his mouth, glasses on, and looking a bit thrown off. Clarke has never seen Bellamy this way and, not for the first time, her hand itches for her paintbrush. She makes her way to him and sets the coffee on the counter. She pulls out one of her headphones, and leaves the other in her ear, just as she always does.
He raises a brow at her. "You're early," he comments.
"Or really late, depending on how you look at it," she retorts with a shrug.
He takes one of the coffees she sat down and breathes in the warm scent. "Thanks for the coffee."
"Who said one's for you?" she teases, reaching for his cup.
He swats her hand away and takes a big sip. "Ahhh," he exhales.
She picks her own coffee up and they drink in a companionable silence, with the exception of the music in Clarke's headphone.
"Can I ask you something?" he inquires after a long moment.
"Why are you always listening to music? I mean, I get it. Music is the food to the soul. But you listen 24/7. Don't ever just want some silence?"
Clarke takes a moment to think and take another sip of her coffee before answering. "Music has always been there. When I was going through that weird preteen stage, when I was in high school and my dad died, when I thought everything in my life was upside-down, I always had music. I know it's a bit excessive the way I listen to it. But I need it, I crave it, and it fills me. Music is safety. And silence? That's scary and unpredictable and unknowable."
Bellamy really seems to look at her then. She can always feel his eyes on her, but never like this, never in the way that it's like he can see into her very soul.
"You know," he begins, "silence really isn't that scary. Not when you have someone to enjoy it with."
His large hand engulfs her small one on the counter.
Her heart hammers in her chest as she threads their fingers together.
The headphone still stays in her ear, but she thinks that it's a start.
The song Venus plays, and Clarke feels utterly calm.
It turns out that Lincoln does see her painting of Bellamy, and Clarke's whole face is red as she reads his email.
This may seem terribly odd, but the man in your most recent painting looks a great deal like my brother-in-law. I thought this was a crazy coincidence but even my wife seems to agree that the painting looks just like him. I was wondering if you've decided to name this piece. It is currently called "Untitled #99", but with so much emotion in the work, I thought maybe you would have changed your mind.
I am sorry for this terribly weird email,
Clarke types her response, cheeks still red. She hits send before she can regret it.
Your email was a bit of a surprise. I have decided to rename that particular painting. It's called "Bellamy #1".
Before Clarke can think twice, she makes her way to Spins and Needles.
Bellamy is in the back corner of the store, his flannel rolled up to his elbows and his glasses sliding down the bridge of his nose. Clarke makes her way to him, feeling more confident with every step. Sleeping at Last's song Venus echoes the last words of the song in her ears.
"Like a telescope, I will pull you so close, 'til no space lies in between, then suddenly I see you."
When she reaches Bellamy, he turns and looks at her in surprise.
She pulls both headphones out of her ears and shoves them in her pocket. She uses both of her hands to pull Bellamy's face to hers. He smiles against her lips as her fingers tangle into his curls.
But it's not scary or unpredictable or unknowable.
It simply is.
And as Bellamy pulls her impossibly closer, she doesn't think it matters anyway.