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Callister News @infocallister 2h ago

NEWS| #Callister confirms new addition to cast: Clarke Griffin to play Princess Ariadne in the 2018 remake. (via @entertainmentweekly)

@castbreks: jfc a SOAP OPERA STAR??? This remake is gonna SUCK

@shanewood: she’s hot tho

@dianalara: doesn’t she only have that one role on that stupid doctors show her mom produces and a bunch of other small parts?? lmao no offence but i smell NEPOTISM

@bellaugustusblake: … this is just fanservice and we all know it.

 

+

Here’s the thing: logically, Bellamy knows that Clarke Griffin being casted to play Princess Ariadne isn’t the end of the world.

If he’s being entirely fair, it’s not even all that bad news, really, considering how worse actresses have been in talks for the role. At the very least, she looks the part, and there’s always acting coaches and recasting situations to consider. Hollywood is fickle like that, and Clarke Griffin just about ticks all the boxes of what constitutes the latest fad.

Still, it sure feels like the end of the world.

“I’d ask you to give it a rest, but I think we’re beyond that.” Miller points out, reaching over to steal a swig from half-finished bottle of wine. “You do realize that you haven’t looked up from that thing in five hours, right?”

He’s right, probably, but Bellamy’s not going to give him the satisfaction of admitting it. “There’s a lot to catch up on,” he counters, tilting at his laptop screen. “You know, contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about the Clarke Griffin casting news.”

The note of skepticism in Miller’s voice is evident. “Really?”

“Yeah,” he says absently, pausing to swipe the bottle back from him. “There’s, uh. Talk about how the special effects team are changing up the valve knobs on the Astrid.”

“Fascinating.”

“It is a big deal. There are whole fucking Reddit threads on how they fucked up the Archangel arc because of the goddamn valve knobs.”

“Right.”

“Exactly,” he huffs out, punctuating it with a particularly hard tap against his keyboard. “I couldn’t care less about the casting news. There’s a lot more stuff to be worried about, okay?”

“Sure,” Miller says, conversational. (It’s about the most agreeable Miller has ever been in all six years of their friendship, which is a solid indicator that something’s amiss, but he’s too distracted to do anything about it.) “That must be why you’re typing up a whole essay’s worth of reasons why Clarke Griffin is not your Princess Ariadne.”

He freezes, mouse hovering over the post button. “What?”

That earns him a impatient noise on Miller’s part before he’s leaning over, grabbing at his laptop. “Fan-tastic or Fan-Service?” he reads, his voice going increasingly deadpan with each word. “The Princess of Soap Operas is not Callister’s.”

“... It’s a working title.”

“It’s an obsession, that’s what it is.” Miller scowls, slamming the laptop shut. “Jesus, I know you have your hang ups, but let it go. Your drunken rambling to all of the six people who follow you isn’t going to help.”

It takes a concentrated amount of effort to wrestle the laptop back considering his less than sober state, but he manages anyway. “Fifteen hundred,” he corrects, folding his arms across his chest. “And yeah, my drunken rambling to fifteen hundred people isn’t going to make me feel better, but at least it’s a fucking load off my chest.”

“You really don’t have to share your opinion on everything, Blake.”

“Yeah, in this case?” he snorts, hitting at the enter button with a flourish; watching as the successfully posted! dialog box floats up on screen, “I think I do.”

The sound Miller makes is half exasperated, half resigned. “Your funeral.”

“Pretty much,” he says brightly, settling back in his seat as the notifications begin to arrive; one after another in a riot of sound and color.

 

+

Callie Cartwig @calliecwig 5h ago

Great piece! Really sums up all my concerns about the casting news re: princess ariadne. (via @bellaugustusblake)

@goldentaylor: omg even the OG PRINCESS ARIADNE doesn’t think @cgriff is going to work out?? yiKes

@mervinmcdonald: ok but listen— she’s hot

@scammernat: SLAY QUEEN, SLAY. UR THE ONLY PRINCESS ARIADNE I RECOGNIZE

@callmemiller: @bellaugustusblake jfc dude have you SEEN this shit???

 

+

It only occurs to her that something’s up when Anya tells her to stay off Twitter.

That, by itself, is worrying enough. Clarke doesn’t even run her own social media accounts— that’s what Raven’s for— but she does check up on her accounts, from time to time. If Anya is warning her based on the small, remote off-chance that she might log into her Twitter, well. That means whatever it is probably a fucking disaster.

So of course she has to look it up.

Raven calls her just as she’s hate-reading through the third paragraph, bag of Cheetos in hand and a pair of chopsticks in the other.

“Tell me you’re not scrolling through your Twitter feed while going through a bag of Doritos,” Raven says, in lieu of a greeting.

“I’m not scrolling through my Twitter feed while going through a bag of Doritos,” Clarke says obediently, spearing at a Cheeto with her chopstick before popping it into her mouth. It gives a satisfying crunch when she bites down on it, sending a spray of crumbs skittering over her keyboard. “That’s your job, remember?”

“Like you’d let me forget,” Raven grumbles, huffing. Distantly, she thinks she makes out the muffled sound of several notifications coming in on her end, the sound mocking even through the phone. “But anyway,” she continues, perfectly pleasant, “has anyone ever told you that for someone who acts for a living, you’re kind of a shit liar?”

She can’t help it, she scowls. “That’s— shut up,” she says reflexively, hitching her knees up to her chest. Something about the position feels comforting, somehow, as much as the soft sound of Raven’s laughter is. “Technically, it was a bag of Cheetos, and technically, it’s not Twitter, so.”

A beat, her hesitation clear in the silence. “You read the article.”

“I’m reading the article,” she corrects, toggling at her mouse to bring up the page once more. There’s about two more paragraphs worth of content for her to go through, but she’s pretty sure she gets the gist of it. Mostly. “I’m not done yet, but it’s about as terrible as I thought it would be.”

“It’s just the work of an angry fanboy, Clarke. You know the type.”

“No, that’s not it,” she frowns, setting her chopsticks down so she can reposition the phone in her grip, resting it against her shoulder. “I can tell the difference. This guy— he has some valid points, you know? That’s what makes it worse: the fact that he’s right.” She breaks off, running a palm over her face. “It just— it just sucks, I guess. Having to look at all of the doubts and insecurities I had about accepting this role put right out in the open.”

Raven gives a small hum of acknowledgment at that, the noise sympathetic. “You know I would personally hack into this guy’s account and take down the article myself if I could, right?”

It’s impossible to keep from smiling at the suggestion. “I appreciate the offer,” she says wryly, clicking out of the post and back onto the homepage, “but I think I’m good. Thanks for listening, though.”

“Anytime, babe.”

She waits until she hears the dial tone before hanging up, directing her focus back to the site. There’s nothing fancy about it— Callister wallpaper, a few lines of description under the user ID. It’s a blog, more than anything, and not even a professional one, at that.

Still, she finds herself lingering over the about section anyway, reading and re-reading it for good measure.

Bell, 28, Boston. He/him. Callisternite. #princecardanshotfirst

There isn’t a picture of him, just an icon of Prince Cardan, which is about as much as she expected considering how the focus of his blog seems to be on Callister more than anything. He has a FAQ page, too, but there’s nothing on there that really tells her about who this guy is.

There is a message icon under his profile, though. Blinking, she hovers her mouse over it, watching as it transforms to a line of text: ask me anything.

It’s a bad idea. A spectacularly bad one, if she’s being entirely truthful with herself, but she finds herself clicking on it anyway. It redirects her to create an account, which she does before heading back to his page, her fingers flying across the keyboard before she can second guess herself.

 

princesslark: Hi. Okay so I read your piece on princess ariadne’s casting and

princesslark: Don’t get me wrong, your points are totally valid and I’m in agreement of a lot of them but

princesslark: I mean? I’m not sure what you’re expecting the actress to do here??

princesslark: She’s already been cast, so

princesslark: Shouldn’t we give her a chance to prove herself on the big screen?

 

She nixes the window before she can spend anymore time agonizing over it, booting up Netflix instead. It’s pointless to wait on him to reply anyway. Clarke’s said her piece, and besides, it’s not like he’s obligated to reply in any way. He’ll probably just read it, and maybe forget about it in—

Her phone gives a shrill chime at that, so sudden that she nearly drops it in her haste to scoop it up. It’s a tumblr notification, unsurprisingly enough, and she has to take a deep breath to steady her grip before she taps at the screen, bringing it up.

 

bellaugustusblake: yeah, like the point of my post wasn’t to just hate on clarke griffin blindly or anything like that

bellaugustusblake: It was just to point out that she most likely got the role through her connections and social status rather than through ACTUAL talent and experience.

bellaugustusblake: I mean, her mom IS producing the movie

bellaugustusblake: Though maybe it is presumptuous of me considering I’ve only watched about two episodes of that E.R show she’s in, but, also

bellaugustusblake: You have to admit that she has a lot to prove considering her reputation

 

That’s true, at any rate. Having an famous actress turned producer as a mom means being put under constant scrutiny, so the mistakes she’s made during her rebellious phase are public information, at this point. There’s a part of her that’s almost tempted to defend herself, really— to explain how she was seventeen and lashing out, how growing up in the spotlight meant never getting a single moment of privacy to process anything going on in her life— but it feels futile, all the same. It’s not like he’d understand.

Plus, she really doesn’t want him to know who he’s talking to.

 

princesslark: so, you don’t think she’ll be able to pull it off?

 

She swallows, staring down at the series of blinking dots. It feels like forever before she hears the tell-tale ding of a message notification, her breath catching in her throat as she pulls up the message.

 

bellaugustusblake: I didn’t say that

bellaugustusblake: … I think if she tries— if she really, really wants it enough to try— she could do it.

bellaugustusblake: But, you know

bellaugustusblake: Who knows if party girl Clarke Griffin can even bring herself to, right?

 

It’s not much. It’s barely anything, in fact, but she can feel the knot in her stomach loosening at his words, all the tension from before leaving her frame. It’s stupid, she knows it is, but she can’t help feeling hopeful, despite herself. If even the worst of her critics can feel this way, maybe it isn’t as much of a lost cause as she thought.

 

princesslark: Right.

princesslark: I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, huh?

bellaugustusblake: I guess we do.

 

+

The announcement goes up two days after, just as he’s heading into work.

Against his better judgement, he calls Monty.

“You’re kidding, right?” he demands, lowering his voice surreptitiously when that earns him a round of stares throughout the office. “Clarke Griffin is coming to Callister Con? As in, our con? The con we’ve been running for, I don’t know, the past five years?”

The sigh he gets in response is distinctly exaggerated. “Good morning to you too, Bellamy.”

“Cut the pleasantries, Green.”

“You do realize that you’re not on the planning committee this year, right?” Monty points out, a hint of impatience leaking into his tone. “Which means that I get to make the executive decisions, which also means that no, I’m not vetoing Princess Ariadne from showing up at this year’s con just because you don’t like her.”

It’s not what he’s trying to get at, but he can see why Monty would assume so. Groaning, he flops down onto his chair, burying his head in his hands. “That’s not— fuck, forget it. How did you even convince her to attend?”

“I didn’t,” he says, mild. “She called me.”

He frowns, straightening in his seat. “Okay, now I know you’re just doing this to fuck with me.”

“Seriously,” he insists, giving an incredulous laugh. “She just called us up and said she was interested in attending, if we’ll have her. Her publicist dropped us an email after confirming all the details after.”

There’s no appropriate response to that except a half-hearted sputter. “That’s just— weird.

“I can see how you’d come to that conclusion considering your last blog post.”

It’s impossible to miss the hint of disapproval in his voice at that, which isn’t surprising, knowing Monty. Somehow in all the years they’ve been doing this, he has remained truly neutral (or at least, drama-free) when it comes to just about every aspect of Callister. It’s a level of zen that Bellamy knows he’ll never achieve. “You have to admit that it’s a pretty solid argument,” he points out, hitting at the space bar to bring his desktop back on. There’s twenty three messages waiting for him, and that’s just from his tumblr alone. “It’s not like I got wasted and decided to go on a whole tirade about the Archangel arc.”

“Yeah, that was the last time.” Monty mutters, grumbling something incoherent under his breath before he seems to compose himself. “Fine. Will it make you feel better if I said I’ll let you moderate the panel instead?”

“Nope,” he says dryly, tapping at the message icon to open up the latest stream of freak-outs and complaints in his inbox. It’s mostly stuff along the same lines— yelling about Clarke Griffin and her supposedly controversial decision— so he opts to reply the few civil ones before deleting the rest. “You do know that I’m not mad about the fact that she’s going to be there, right? It’s just— the timing. It’s a strategic decision on her part, but what bugs me is that maybe that’s all Callister is to her. A career stepping stone.”

It’s quiet for a while as Monty seems to consider this. “Maybe it is,” he says finally. “But as long as she does a good job, I don’t see how it’s a bad thing, you know? Ideally, they would cast someone who cares as much about the show and characters as we do, but that’s just unrealistic and we know it.”

He pauses, pulling back from his keyboard before leaning back into his chair with a grumpy huff. “I hate it when you’re being perfectly reasonable.”

The smile in his voice is unmistakable. “That’s my speciality.”

“I was hoping that Miller would rub off more on you.”

He’s pretty sure that earns him a snarky comment on Monty’s part, but the rest of his response is lost in the sudden chirp of his desktop; loud enough to draw more stares. Wincing, he makes a apologetic gesture, muttering some excuse into the phone before hanging up and turning back to his screen.

 

princesslark: so, did you hear?

 

A snort escapes before he can help himself, and he has to bite back an involuntary smile at it.

 

bellaugustusblake: I have literally no idea what you’re talking about

bellaugustusblake: it’s not like it’s the only post all over my dashboard or anything

bellaugustusblake: not like it’s trending on twitter either

 

princesslark: cute.

princesslark: so, let me guess: we’re getting another clarke griffin is the WORST post in like, fifteen minutes

 

bellaugustusblake: I’m not THAT predictable, am I?

bellaugustusblake: uh, but anyway, not really, no.

bellaugustusblake: I think it’s nice that she’s going to be engaging with Callister fans, actually

bellaugustusblake: the only thing I’m mad about is how she CLEARLY has a great PR team to manage all this for her. Wish I had one too

 

princesslark: here’s an idea for your next piece— CALLOUT POST: clarke griffin is an OPPORTUNIST

 

bellaugustusblake: don’t test me

 

princesslark: you don’t have the GUTS, sir

 

(He gets a notification that princesslark has reblogged the post two minutes after, and for some reason, the thought of it puts him in a strangely good mood for the rest of the day.)

+

bellaugustusblake: random question, but

bellaugustusblake: do you remember what is the name of the pod that crashed landed in episode V

 

princesslark: ur telling ME that YOU forgot a fact about Callister???

princesslark: wow

princesslark: ur a fraud

princesslark: time to make a callout post of my own

 

bellaugustusblake: very funny

bellaugustusblake: I’ll have you know I just a lost a round of trivia because of your incompetence

 

princesslark: pretty sure that’s directed more @ yourself than me

princesslark: trivia? And here I thought you said you had a life outside of Callister. Sounds fake

 

bellaugustusblake: trivia night at a BAR, OUTSIDE, with my non-imaginary friends. Ofc i have a life

bellaugustusblake: the theme is sci-fi tonight, so

bellaugustusblake: killed every question but the Callister one, I think my friends nearly keeled over from the shock of it all

 

princesslark: wish I could relate, but Callister is about the extent as to how much I’ve tried re: sci-fi

 

bellaugustusblake: I mean, it IS the best of the genre so you’re not missing out, but

bellaugustusblake: if you want recs, I got them

 

princesslark: somehow I feel like this translates to, ‘I will talk ur ear off about these geeky sci-fi stuff until u eventually try them’. Am i right or am i right

 

bellaugustusblake: … you know me too well

 

+

She falls into the habit of messaging him frequently, after that.

It’s the furthest thing from smart, really, but it’s not like she can help herself. Questionable first impressions aside, it’s actually easy to talk to Bell. Fun, too, if she’s being entirely honest. He tells her about the books he’s reading, and his thoughts on the original Callister movies, and the need for more historically accurate works especially when it comes to Hollywood productions. Sometimes he even makes casual references to his own life, and it’s always an effort not to try to piece them together to get a clearer picture of who he is. It’s none of her business anyway, and she gets his need for privacy, if anything.

Still, she finds herself filing them away for future reference all the same: he has a degree in history and he thinks he’d like to teach, someday. He has a sister. He has a roommate named Miller and a shitty apartment and spends way too much time going to secondhand bookstores.

Then she accidentally stumbles across his Facebook profile, and it all just sort of goes downhill from there.

“Fun fact,” she says, marching into the next room where Raven is. “Did you know that the writer of fanservice gate is the co-founder of the con that I’m going to be at next week?”

She does, if her wince is anything to go by. “Is that what we’re calling it nowadays?”

“What?”

“Fanservice gate.”

“That’s hardly the point,” Clarke huffs, planting her hands against her hips in what she hopes passes as righteous indignation. “The point is that you set me up! You’re the one who picked out Callister Con, you’re the one who—”

“Thought it would be a good idea for you to show up and prove that asshole wrong?” Raven interrupts, crossing her arms over her chest impatiently. “Fine, yeah. Then I guess that’s what I did.”

She levels a glare over at her, resisting the urge to do something petulant, like stomp her foot. “That’s not your call to make.”

“Actually as your social media manager, it is.” Raven says archly, rising to her feet. “And besides, I ran it by Anya, okay?” she adds, shrugging. “She thinks it’s a good idea. Reclaiming the narrative, and all that.”

That’s true at any rate, but it’s really not making her feel any better about any of it. “It’s just,” she groans, flopping down onto the couch and shoving her face into the nearest pillow. “It’s not that simple.”

There’s a weighty pause as Raven seems to process this, though apparently, it doesn’t take long for her to figure out what she’s implying. “Right,” she says, her voice going eerily calm. “Okay. Clarke?”

She manages a grunt of acknowledgement. “Yeah?”

“What the fuck did you do?”

There’s a part of her that’s almost tempted to deny everything, but she tamps down the urge to. Doing so is just delaying the inevitable anyway, and Raven deserves to hear it from her at the very least. Taking a deep breath, she starts. “I may have sent him a message from a dummy account.”

The look she gets in response is nothing short of murderous. “Great,” Raven mutters, rubbing at her temples. “I’m not going to like this story, am I?”

“Probably not,” she says weakly, pretending to busy herself with the stray thread dangling from her jeans to avoid making eye contact. “Uh, anyway. He responded, and then I did, and I guess we just started— talking.”

“I’m waiting for this story to take a terrifying turn any minute now.”

“No, I mean, that’s it,” she says, barking out a sharp laugh. “He doesn’t know that he’s talking to me. We talk about Callister and other movies and everything else and he’s funny, and nice, and—” she stops, biting at her lip to keep the words from spilling out. “And he’s going to be at the con,” she says lamely. “And I’m— it’s highly probable that I’ll meet him.”

Another pause, this time longer than the last. “And you have a crush on him,” Raven finishes, brows rising up to her hairline.

For a second, she can only stare. “What? No,” she sputters, heat crawling up her cheeks involuntarily. “I’m just— worried that I’ll give myself away. I think finding out that he’s actually been talking to Clarke Griffin might kill him.”

“Wait, back up.” Raven frowns. “So who does he think he’s talking to, again?”

“A fan.” It’s her turn to shrug now, slumping back into the cushions. “I jokingly told him to call me Ari— you know, short for Ariadne— once and he’s been calling me that and princess ever since.”

The snort Raven lets out sounds distinctly exasperated. “Well that’s… corny, and also about the extent of your supposed problem.”

She blinks, lifting her head. “Wait. Are you claiming that this is a non-issue?”

“Pretty much,” Raven grins, reaching for her phone once more. “I mean, if you worried about repercussions, well. Dating a fan you met online is a little dicey, but I think we can put a positive spin on it. And if you’re worried about him not reciprocating, I think you’re forgetting the fact that you’re Clarke Griffin.”

“And I think you’re forgetting that he’s not exactly an active fan of Clarke Griffin,” she reminds her, feeling her stomach twist almost painfully at the reminder. “Plus, I doubt he’s going to appreciate the fact that I’ve been lying all this time.”

She doesn’t even look up from her phone at that. “Non-disclosure and lying are two different things,” Raven points out, unfazed. Then, almost as an afterthought, “And wait, how did you find his profile again?”

“Callister Con Facebook page,” she sighs, resting her cheek against the jut of Raven’s shoulder. “There’s a photo of him and Monty up there, and they linked his tumblr in the about section. It’s not exactly hard to put two and two together.”

She gives a hum of acknowledgement at that, fingers dancing across her screen at a impossible speed. “Yeah okay, I can see why you have a problem,” Raven agrees, tilting her phone back so she can look. “He’s hot.”

“Shut up,” she mumbles, feeling her cheeks heat even further. It’s true, though. Clarke’s already spent the better part of an hour going through his profile. Bell— Bellamy— is exactly the kind of tall, dark and handsome that makes her want to climb him like a tree. “Besides, non-issue, remember?” she says, nudging at her ribs. “Let’s keep it that way.”

“That’s not what I meant and you know it,” Raven says, nudging back with equal force. “But hey, if you’re too chicken,” she continues, shooting her a mischievous smile. “I can always create a dummy account and tell him on your behalf, or—”

Clarke doesn’t even feel bad about shoving her off the couch.

 

+

He only caves two days before the con, which, in itself, is a pretty impressive show of restraint.

“We need to get the schedule brochures edited,” he announces, dropping into the vacant space next to Monty. Technically it’s Jasper’s seat as dictated by the usual rules of movie night, but he needs whatever advantage he can muster up, at this point. “It’s not a big deal and I’ll handle it, so you can relax.”

The look on Monty’s face is about as far from relaxed as it can get. “Oh yeah, that sounds completely reassuring,” he deadpans, giving a vague wave of his hand. “It’s not like fifteen hundred brochures are a large amount or anything like that.”

“Thousand. Fifteen thousand. I looked it up.”

“Shut up,” he says, though it sounds reflexive more than anything. “Just tell me: do I actually want to know, or would it be better for my blood pressure if I didn’t?”

Bellamy shrugs, leaning back into the cushions in a attempt at casual nonchalance. “It’s just a small name change. Like I said, no big deal.”

“And, pray tell, whose name is it again?”

He clears his throat; has to remind himself to clasp his hands together to keep from fidgeting. “Mine.” Then, at Monty’s continued silence, “For— you know. The Clarke Griffin panel. I want to moderate it.”

It’s not like he’s expecting an outburst on Monty’s part or anything, but the shrug and nod he gets in response is definitely a little out of left field. “Eh. Sure.”

“Eh, sure?” he echoes, incredulous. “That’s it? You’re not even going to ask—” he pauses, eyes narrowing as he takes him in. “You didn’t get anyone else in the first place, did you?”

“Nope,” Monty beams, sliding his hands behind his head. “The worse case scenario would involve springing it on you, but I’m glad you changed your mind. Did Murphy talk you into it?”

It’s impossible to keep his disdain from showing at that. “You wish,” Bellamy mutters, folding his arms across his chest sulkily. Still, it’s hard to hold the expression when he feels the buzz of his phone in his pocket, his screen lighting up with a notification.

 

princesslark: believe it or not, I actually have a day off this weekend

princesslark: I mean technically I still have something to get to, but NO WORK

princesslark: i’m going to celebrate by eating a whole chicken from the rotisserie. WATCH ME

 

He bites back a laugh, shaking his head. Ari’s never really talked about what she does, exactly, but he suspects it has to do with wellness and keeping fit or whatever it is that requires her to spend hours on the treadmill. And bitching about it, apparently. There are times when he considers just coming right out and asking her already, but he really doesn’t want to make her uncomfortable.

They have a good thing going, as of yet. To do anything to jeopardize that would just be plain stupid, despite the constant and overwhelming urge he gets to know her better.

His phone buzzes once more, and he snaps out of his reverie at the motion, focusing back on the screen.

 

princesslark: what about you?

princesslark: any plans for the weekend, or are u just planning to slouch around and watch Callister for the 100th time?

 

bellaugustusblake: why ask when you already know the answer to your question then

bellaugustusblake: ok, I’m kidding

bellaugustusblake: I actually AM doing something weekend, surprisingly enough

bellaugustusblake: have you heard about callister con?

 

He watches as the typing indicator pop up; his breath catching in his chest for no conceivable reason whatsoever. It’s not likely that she has heard of it, and even if she has, the chances of her going are slim to none, so—

 

princesslark: oh no, it’s not like it’s the only thing everyone has been talking about these days.

princesslark: I’m COMPLETELY oblivious

 

bellaugustusblake: cute.

 

princesslark: thanks

princesslark: … and fine, I do have a ticket but I’m having second thoughts about showing up.

princesslark: I know it sounds weird, but it just feels like a lot to live up to, you know?

 

It’s an effort to keep from reacting as he goes through the rest of her messages, wiping at his sweaty palms surreptitiously against his jeans. The thought of it— of seeing Ari, of meeting Ari— is nerve wracking and thrilling all at once; a jumble of emotions that he can’t quite decipher.

Releasing a shaky breath, he reaches for the phone once more.

 

bellaugustusblake: as in, you’re afraid that the con might not live up to your expectations?

bellaugustusblake: yeah, I know what you mean

bellaugustusblake: the first con I’ve ever been to was a fucking disaster. Let’s just say I’ve never been to a porta potty ever since, but

bellaugustusblake: if it’s any consolation, I’m going to be there

bellaugustusblake: moderating Clarke Griffin’s panel, if you can believe it

bellaugustusblake: you can witness it all dissolve into chaos within the first five minutes

 

It feels a little manipulative, trying to lure her in with the promise of the Clarke Griffin panel, but she’s pretty much the reason why he’s doing it anyway. It’s hard not to feel a little curious about her with Ari’s constant insistence of giving the actress a chance— sending him links of her addressing her own bisexuality and showing support for the LGBT community; calling out the assholes in Hollywood on their less than savory behavior. It’s… surprising, to say the least. In a good way.

 

princesslark: well

princesslark: wonders will never cease

princesslark: I’ll be an idiot to pass on this considering that it could actually devolve into a cage match

 

bellaugustusblake: … which I would win, right?

 

princesslark: eh. I doubt it

princesslark: but anyway

princesslark: if I don’t show up, you should definitely text me updates on what happened

princesslark: and if i do, I guess it’ll make finding me easier

princesslark: or you could just feel free to ignore this either way, it’s chill

princesslark shared a contact with you.

 

He’s grinning from ear to ear now, wide and stupid, and it’s a miracle that no one else has called him out on it yet. Carefully, he adds her to his contacts list, sending off a quick text before he can chicken out.

 

Bellamy Blake: fyi, I’ll have you know that I would 100% beat Clarke Griffin in a cage match, but good for you for joining the losing team i guess

Bellamy Blake: feel free to ignore this either way, it’s chill

 

Ari: consider this text ignored, then

Ari: and me doubling my bets on Clarke Griffin emerging as victor

 

Bellamy Blake: wow, you’re the worst

 

Ari: :))

 

+

As it turns out, convincing her team to let her go for Callister Con by herself isn’t as much as a struggle as she thought it would be.

They do insist on driving her over, though, which goes as about expected.

“Just remember, no spoilers,” Anya instructs, looking up from her phone to give one last evaluative sweep over her. “Say ‘no comment’ if there’s anything you’re unsure about, and text me the second you fuck up. I’d prefer to find out from you rather than Buzzfeed, if possible.”

“Thanks,” Clarke says dryly, trying valiantly to ignore the roiling of her stomach as she peers out of the window and into the vacant lot of the convention hall. They’re early enough that the space is still deserted, and the sight of it is making her feel strangely on edge, somehow. “I really appreciate the vote of confidence. You sure you don’t want to come in with me to make sure my pacifier is in working order? My stroller?”

“Sarcasm isn’t your best skill, is it?”

“Not when she’s under pressure,” Raven pipes up, leaning over to tug at her tank top so a hint of cleavage shows. “And not when she’s crushing on someone, apparently.”

Scowling, she bats her hand away, forcing down the wave of heat threatening to show on her face. “It’s not a crush.”

“Sure,” Raven smirks, flicking at her knee lightly. “Tell that to your face.”

“I hate you,” she mutters, slumping back further into her seat. “Anyway, I’m guessing the humiliating part of my morning is over, so I should probably get a move on.”

That earns her a considering look on Anya’s part, as if she’s really thinking about it. “I’m pretty sure that comes later, actually.”

“Thanks. Has anyone ever told you that you’re a really comforting presence?”

“On several occasions, actually,” she says, without missing a beat. Then, frowning down at her phone, “Someone’s supposed to come get you, right?”

Clarke blinks, hitting at the power button on her phone. “Yeah, but I’m early,” she points out, tapping at her screen. The motion brings a notification up to surface, and she has to bite at the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling at it. 3 messages from Bellamy Blake. “They’ll be here soon, and if not, I’ll just make my way over first.”

“It’s fine, I already texted Monty Green.” Raven chimes in, jostling at her elbow as she wiggles closer. Then, her voice going teasing, “All that’s left for you to do is text lover boy to tell him that you’re here.”

“Funny,” she says flatly, running a hand through her hair nervously and pulling a curl free from her braid. Harper is probably going to be livid if she ruins all her handiwork before getting on stage, but it’s better than biting her nails. “I’m not— I don’t know if I’m telling him anything.”

The look on Raven’s face is distinctly disbelieving. “You what?”

“I’m just,” she stops, giving a helpless shrug. It’s hard to explain how much Bellamy means to her, really, how the thought of losing his friendship is unbearable beyond anything else. Maybe it’s because she’s never been good at it; has never known what friendship is beyond her team and the few people she’s grown up with. Everyone in her life feels like they’re there because they have to be, not because they want to, but.

It’s different, with Bellamy. It’s earned, and hers and hers alone.

“I don’t know,” she finishes lamely, shaking her head. “Maybe? But—”

The sudden rap of knuckles against glass startles her out of her thoughts, and almost reflexively, she hits at the control panel, rolling the window down—

Only to reveal Bellamy Blake peering over at her, brow cocked almost as if in question.

“Hi,” he says, after a long, tense beat. “Clarke Griffin, right? Monty’s sorry he couldn’t be here, but he’s busy giving some finishing touches to the booths over at the expo hall. I’ll be more than happy to show you around instead, if you’d like. I’m Bellamy.”

It doesn’t occur to her that she’s still staring until Raven elbows her in the ribs, hard enough to bruise. “Oh,” she manages, swallowing hard. “Yeah, I’m her. I mean— Clarke. I’m— this is she.”

If anything, the expression that crosses his face is more skeptical than ever. “Right,” he says, with exaggerated slowness. “You sound sure about that.”

And it’s stupid, she knows it is, but she can’t help but bristle at his tone all the same. “Maybe not,” she counters, leaning forward in her seat so she’s looking him right in the eye. “But I know who you are. You’re the one who wrote a piece about how much you hated Princess Ariadne’s casting.”

The smile he shoots her in return is more of a smirk than anything. “And you’re the one who’s playing her,” he quips, tilting at his chin. The motion is teasing, almost challenging, and she feels her pulse pick up, despite herself. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“I suppose,” she says coolly, folding her arms across her chest. The look on his face is amused more than anything, and it fills her with a combination of fury and a strange, burning sort of anticipation. Seeing him, actually talking to him is… nothing like she thought it would be. (Distantly, she thinks about how different it would be if he knew who she really was, but she manages to quash the thought in the same breath.) “Though I can’t say the same when it comes to you.”

“Fair enough,” he grins, pitching closer towards the window. Like this, she’s close enough that she can see the spray of freckles over his face, the divot of his chin that makes her want to fit her thumb against it. “I deserved that one.”

It’s an effort to tear her gaze away from him at that; to keep from reconciling him with the person she had in her head— his voice and his mannerisms and just… Bellamy. “That, you do,” she mutters, hating the own breathless quality of her voice as she yanks at the car door, forcing him to back up a few steps. “So, are we going to get the show on the road or what?” she demands brusquely, spinning on her heel to face him.

For a second, she thinks she catches a glimpse of shock flit through his face before he seems to compose himself. “If you say so,” Bellamy Blake tells her, the stupid, infuriating smirk on his face growing as he sweeps an arm out exaggeratedly. “After you, your highness.”

She scowls, slamming the car door with enough force to make it shake on its hinges. “Don’t call me that,” she bites out before marching off, leaving him to trail after her the entire way.

 

+

Ironically enough, Clarke Griffin is just about the opposite of everything he expects her to be.

She’s irritable, and snarky and a little awkward, even, which he shouldn’t find endearing but he does. It’s clear in the slight discomfort she shows every time he introduces her to someone new, in the way she fidgets and the way her smile goes tight around the corners. She’s nice, of course— the hostility is reserved for him and him only— but wary, and everything about her feels like a far cry from the prim, polished exterior he sees gracing his screen from time to time.

(His first instinct is to text Ari about it but he refrains, in the end. She hasn’t replied his last few messages anyway, and the last thing he’d want her to think is that he’s pressuring her to come for the con.)

But the strangest part of it all is that Clarke Griffin actually seems to like Callister.

“Holy shit, you guys have a real life replica of the Astrid?” she breathes, skirting past him to run her fingers over the dented hull, the cracks in the windshield. “How did someone make this?”

He shrugs, biting at the inside of his cheek to taper a smile. Her enthusiasm is infectious, but he’d rather she not know it, really. “Miller is good at welding,” he supplies, reaching over to rap his knuckles against the metal. “And considering his boyfriend is one of the main organizers of the con, he was easily persuaded into it.”

That earns him a considering look on her part; the slight quirk of her mouth. “Nice,” she says, continuing to skim her fingers over the exterior idly. Then, in a voice way too innocent for his liking , “So, when do I get to meet your boyfriend?”

Bellamy doesn’t choke, but it’s a near thing. “He’s not— I’m— no,” he sputters, scrambling to find the words, “I mean, I wouldn’t not date him, I’m pan, but— that’s— Monty. He’s dating Monty.”

She gives a small hum of acknowledgment at that, drawing close enough that he can feel the warmth of her skin against his, the brush of her fingers as she grazes past. “Right,” Clarke grins, patting at his shoulder in a motion that somehow manages to be sympathetic and condescending all at once. “You sound sure about that.” Then, before he even summon a response, she’s gone, shooting him one last smug, triumphant look before ducking through the makeshift entrance of the Astrid.

It takes him a full, solid minute for him to come back to his senses; another two to get his stupid smile under control because apparently, being played by Clarke Griffin is something he likes. (God, he’s an idiot.) Shaking his head, he schools his expression back into scowl before following her in, straightening carefully the second he’s past the threshold.

She’s standing by the pilot’s seat when he spots her, face screwed up in concentration as she fiddles at the controls.

“Don’t break anything,” he says dryly, coming up behind her. “You didn’t hear it from me, but Miller’s excellent with a welding torch.”

“I’ll take my chances,” she says absently, twisting at one of the knobs with a precise flick of her wrist. “Is this functional?”

“Not exactly, but it does raise the fuel levels like it’s meant to,” he points out, tapping his nail at the indicator bar off to the side. “It’s a tiny detail, but valve knobs play a big part in—”

“The Archangel arc,” she interrupts, brightening. “That’s what I said! I told special effects that they had to make sure it showed, because you know in the original trilogy, that one scene where—”

“— Cardan does that quantum jump, right? Jesus, it just made no sense that the equipment wouldn’t have been fried—”

“I know!” she laughs, throwing her hands up. “And I hate how it was never really addressed in the movies, you know? It’s a huge plot point in the books, and they just skipped past it entirely. It’s just— stupid, that’s what it is.”

He doesn’t even realize he’s staring until she raises a questioning brow over at him, her stance going defensive. “You’re surprised I read the books, aren’t you?” she adds, narrowing her eyes over at him.

“No,” he stresses, rubbing at his face exasperatedly. “I’m not like one of those assholes who are all like, you’re not a real fan unless you’ve read the books, or like, you have to play all the games in the series to say you’re a Callister fan. It’s— stupid.” That gets her to smile, at least, and it’s hard to hold back on his own from there. “I’m just surprised, I guess. From what I’ve heard, you just didn’t seem like the type who would enjoy Callister. Didn’t you drop out of a sci-fi production once because you said you didn’t get the technical elements?”

Her face falls slightly at that, but she recovers just as quickly, offering him a small smile. “Yeah,” she says, clearing her throat. “I mean, that did play a part in it. But if I’m being entirely honest, it had to do more with the fact that the director was a class A asshole,” she shrugs, biting at her lip. “Let’s just say all those rumours about Cage Wallace’s supposed temper hold some weight.”

He blinks, momentarily surprised at her honesty; so easily offered. She could be lying, of course, but it feels sincere, somehow. “Yeah,” he nods, mimicking her easy shrug. “That’s understandable. Didn’t that guy once try to turn a live drill on a actor?”

“Trust me, that’s not even the worst of it,” she snorts, turning back to the array of controls before her. It feels like a signal that the conversation is over, but then she keeps talking, her voice going wistful. “I’ve, uhm. I’ve always loved Callister. I watched the original movies with my dad. He got me the books after, and it’s just— a nice reminder, I guess. We always liked the same things.”

It’s not like it’s a secret that Jake Griffin was killed in a drunk driving incident years back, but Bellamy still winces anyway. He remembers seeing the photos of the funeral, of a somber faced Clarke amidst a sea of black. He should apologize, offer his condolences maybe, but instead what comes out is, “Want to see something cool?”

It doesn’t seem to faze her in the least, which he can’t help but feel a little grateful for. “Sure,” she says, glancing up at him. “You’re not going to tell me that you can actually pilot this thing, are you?”

“In my wildest dreams, sure.” He says dryly, reaching over to flick at one of the dials. It’s positioned right by her, so he makes sure to keeps his movements slow, careful— giving her enough time to move away if she wants to. She doesn’t take it, and he can feel the press of her shoulder against his when he shifts, her breath against the side of his neck. “Sorry I couldn’t fulfill that particular fantasy, princess, but this is pretty cool too.”

He senses her smile rather than sees it. “It better not involve any driving.”

“I hear your legs are insured for a million. I wouldn’t risk that.”

“It’s eighty thousand, actually.”

“I rounded up,” he tells her, pulling away when the lights begin to dim, the windshield before them suddenly flickering to life, an image of stars and space and light appearing before them. Then, gradually, the familiar theme song fades in, the starting credits of Callister floating up.

She gives a startled laugh at that, the sound echoing in the space as she turns on the spot, taking everything in. The motion casts strange shadows against her face, pinpricks of light shimmering against her skin and turning her into a entire fucking galaxy, and he can feel his breath catch almost involuntarily at it.

“This is amazing,” she grins, arms settling back to her sides. There’s something familiar about it— the curve of her mouth, the cadence of her words. Like a long forgotten memory of someone he once knew, or a quickly fading dream. It’s comforting in a way he can’t explain, and he looks away before she can figure out his train of thought.

“Yeah, well,” Bellamy manages, lifting his face back to the galaxy spinning before them, the stars blindingly bright in the dark. “Welcome home, princess.”

 

+

Callister News @infocallister 3m ago

PHOTO| Clarke Griffin sighting at Callister Con! T-minus 3 hours to her panel at Hall A, with the closing ceremony taking place after.

@bitconilee: ??? who’s the guy next to her???

@anahis: can’t tell EXACTLY but it sure looks like bellamy blake? He’s one of the con organizers, look at the pass around his neck

@davidelroch: uh DIDN’T HE WRITE A POST ABOUT HOW MUCH SHE’D F*CK UP AS PRINCESS ARIADNE

@crisses: well well well how the turntables…

@mernah: no one @ me but they look cute together

 

+

The crowd starts trickling in at around mid-afternoon, so sequestering herself in the back room for lunch (and some privacy) seems like the most feasible option there is. Besides, it’s a good time as any for Clarke to catch her breath anyway, or to think about what she wants to talk about at the panel.

It’s a foolproof plan, mostly, except for the part where she stupidly decides to tell Bellamy Blake to stay and eat with her instead.

“You do realize that I said one turkey sandwich, right?” she asks, eyeing the pile before her doubtfully. The table is barely holding up under a veritable tower of foil wrapped burritos, snacks, and what looks like the entire contents of a Hostess truck. “This is significantly more than I bargained for.”

He shoots her a wry look at that, plucking a Sno Ball out of the heap deftly. “Who said it’s for you?”

She lets out a disgruntled huff, barely managing to keep her smile from showing as she reaches for the lone sandwich of the lot. “Right, my mistake,” she says, saccharine sweet. “I forget that prepubescent boys have the appetites of wolves.”

“Is that supposed to offend me?” he grins, ripping at a wrapper with his teeth. “Because what I’m hearing is that I get this entire stash to myself, including the last of the Ho Hos.”

“Keep it,” she shrugs, peeling the plastic off her sandwich. The lettuce is wilting, bread soggy, and it’s an effort to keep from grimacing when she takes a bite. “I doubt I’d like it anyway. Seems like overkill.”

A beat, his eyes going wide as she takes another bite of her dry, uninspiring sandwich. “Wait. Seems like overkill?”

“I said what I said.”

He pauses, one hand up in the air and clearly struggling for words. “As in— you’ve never tried a Ho Ho before?”

She shrugs, hitching her knees up to her chest. Ho Hos are just a part of the long list of things she’s missed out on ever since she decided on this whole acting thing. “Nope. Though I have tried Twinkies before. Me and my friend Wells set up this whole elaborate plot that involved rifling through the spit bucket between takes.”

“A what, now?”

“It’s so you don’t have to actually swallow down what you’re eating when you do food related scenes,” she explains. “I mean, you always could, but sometimes that means having to eat fifteen slices of pizza a day.”

The look on his face would be comical, really, if he didn’t look quite so distressed at the same time. “Okay,” he says slowly, a flicker of a smile playing on his lips. Then, teasingly, “So, Clarke Griffin has never had a Ho Ho before. I should probably sell that hot tip to the press, huh?”

“You could,” she retorts, bumping her ankle against his, “or you could actually have something interesting to sell. Something unrelated to hostess cakes, at least.”

His surprise quickly melts away to interest. “And what’s that?”

She wets her lips, forcing her voice to hold steady. “I’ll trade you for it,” she says, meeting his gaze. “Tell me something about yourself, and I’ll return the favor.”

It feels like a long shot— maybe even a impossible one, considering their not-so-amicable past— but he nods anyway, his mouth twitching at the corners. “You do realize, though, that I’m the only one who benefits from this, right?” he adds, with the cock of his brow. “It’s not like anyone else is going to pay for information on me.”

“Uh, your legion of Callister fans beg to differ.”

“I don’t have fans,” Bellamy grumbles, letting his head fall back against the worn fabric of the sofa. (For some reason, they both opted for the small slice of space on the floor between the sofa and the table, which is something she’ll probably regret tomorrow.) “And that’s one, by the way.”

The laugh bubbles out before she can help herself, though she’s not sure if it’s at the playfulness of his expression or the crumbs sticking to his mouth. “Sure,” she agrees, grinning. “You don’t have fans, you have family.”

“Friends,” he corrects easily, nudging at her ankle with his. “There. That’s mine.”

She gives a small hum of acknowledgement at that, pretending to think it over. “I once broke into a bowling alley and slid down a lane in nothing but my socks.”

“Uh, I ran full-on into a glass door and broke my nose when I was eight.”

“I learned how to ride a horse on set, but I can’t drive.”

It looks like he might actually say something to that, but he catches himself just in time at her arched brow. “I got into Callister because it was the only DVD we had as kids,” he offers, his voice going soft. “We were on the road a lot, and we couldn’t afford anything else. My sister and I watched it until the player broke.”

And she’s not sure if it’s the steadiness in his gaze, or the warmth of his shoulder lined up against hers, but she finds herself responding in kind, all the same. “I worry— every fucking day— about not doing this role justice,” she admits, turning to face him. “I think I might be doing a terrible job.”

He doesn’t look away at the admission, his expression serious in a way that makes her breath catch; intent and focused and unwavering. “You’re not what I expected,” he says finally, and it takes her a second to comprehend that it meant it as a fact.

And I’m Ari, she nearly says, the words rising in her throat, catching in her teeth. Instead, all she manages is, “I feel like I know you, somehow.”

His smile is blinding; his huff of laughter warming the side of her face. “Well, I did tell you about the broken nose.”

Her own laugh is shaky, tapering off into a soft noise when she feels his fingers grazing at her face, sliding a lock of hair out of the way. “Was it supposed to be a secret?”

“Maybe,” he murmurs, his eyes flicking over to her lips. “Clarke, I—”

Just then, a sharp, insistent rap at the door startles her out of her stupor, a barely audible voice filtering through the wood, “Ten minutes to panel, guys!”

She blinks, and it’s all she can manage to stay where she is, really, looking at him— the rapid rise and fall of his chest and the pink of his cheeks and the press of his knee against hers. In the end, though, he’s the one who recovers first, clearing his throat in the quiet. “We’ll be right out!”

(It’s impossible to miss the tremble in his voice, and when he stumbles a little over the threshold, she has to duck her chin to hide her smile.)

 

+

Callister News @infocallister 2m ago

VIDEO| LAST PANEL OF THE DAY: Clarke Griffin talks about the pressures of playing Princess Ariadne, mentions her favorite scene to film as of late. #CallisterCon2018 (via @caralee)

@dananicole: i mean i’m as much of a skeptic as anyone but it’s nice to see that she CARES about fan’s interpretations of ariadne, u know

@carebeary: uh, am I imagining the major heart eyes the moderator is sending her tho

@romerostan: @carebeary UH, RIGHT WTF, THEY BE FLIRTING. SHE PUT HER HAND ON HIS KNEE

@paeysortofgirl: !!! arE THEY DATING

 

+

Against all better judgment, he still ends up going for the after party anyway.

They do it every year, and it’s always a big production, somehow. Miller brings the booze, and Jasper does food, and Monty is in charge of music because he’s the only one who can get the sound system going. All attendees are welcome, of course, so it tends to be a mishmash of regulars and first timers, but it’s a good crowd all the same.

A crowd that, this year, apparently, includes Clarke Griffin.

“So, did we know that she was staying?” Miller asks, his tone deceptively casual in a way that Bellamy knows means that he’s actually interested in what he has to say. (Generally, the more disinterested Miller sounds, the more invested he actually is in the situation as a whole. He learned that the hard way.) “Or did she just spontaneously decide to grace us with her presence because she heard about Jasper’s canapes?”

He manages a half-hearted shrug at that, the motion nonchalant. “The latter, most likely,” he says, grabbing at his drink to avoid Miller’s questioning gaze. It’s a dick move, but it’s not like he’s up for a discussion of feelings at a party.

Particularly not ones that he might or might not have for Clarke Griffin. Or for anyone else, for that matter.

(Reflexively, he slides his phone out of his pocket, hitting the power button to check for a message. Still nothing.)

“Sure,” Miller continues, sounding way too smug for his liking. It’s suspicious enough that he looks up, turning his attention back onto him just as he says, “The canapes. That’s why she’s making her way over here instead, where there’s absolutely none of them in the vicinity.”

His head snaps up so fast he can practically feel his muscles wince in protest. It’s dark and he can barely see two feet in front of him, but there’s clearly no one nearby that even resembles—

She spots him first, breaking into a grin so wide that he finds himself mirroring it involuntarily; warmth rushing down his toes at the sight of it.

(It shouldn’t make sense— it doesn’t, really— but there’s just something about being with Clarke that feels strangely easy, beyond anything. A recognition and a understanding of being more alike than different, despite appearances, and he thinks he finally understands why people say kindred with a kind of reverence to their voices.)

“Hey,” she beams, drawing up to him. She’s changed from the last time, her hair now up in Princess Ariadne’s classic braid and a Star Trek sweatshirt, of all things. “So, I’m guessing this is the corner for the grumpy killjoys and brooders.”

“Cute,” he deadpans, barely managing to hold back on a smile. “But you do realize you’re here too, right?”

“Only because I’ve been ostracized for my latest choice in clothing,” she explains, quirking a brow over at him. Then, with an exaggerated sigh, “And here I thought I’d already won over my biggest critic.”

He can’t help it this time, he laughs. If anything, it just makes her grin grow wider, and he has to remind herself not to stare in an effort to try and commit it to memory. “Yeah well, you’re wearing Star Trek to a Callister convention,” he says reprovingly, trying to inject the necessary amount of disapproval in his voice. “It’s like showing up at Lord of the Rings screening in Hogwarts robes.”

“So, not a big deal,” she counters with a smirk, folding her arms across her chest. “It was a recommendation from a friend, okay? Turns out I really like it. How was I supposed to know it goes against your nerd sensibilities?”

“Yeah, I think I’d definitely like to be excused from this narrative.”

That earns him a soft laugh, along with a slight nudge to his ankle. “Fine. But here’s an idea: instead of standing around and being a killjoy, you could be a grump elsewhere. With me, preferably. Sound good?”

Her tone is teasing, but if the way she’s fidgeting is any indication, she’s nervous. Bellamy blinks, skimming through the last few minutes in his head, trying to figure out the possible root of it. He comes up blank. “Sure,” he says, falling into step next to her. “Anywhere in mind?”

“I hear the gardens are nice at night,” she says, tilting at her chin towards the door in a clear sign for him to follow. “C’mon.”

It’s early enough that no one has left yet, so it’s quiet when they eventually emerge out into the open. The night air is cool against his skin, grass tickling at his ankles, and he has to repress a shiver when he feels the brush of her fingers against his.

“Huh,” she says after a beat, her expression considering as she studies the space before them. “I thought it’d be bigger.”

He snorts, shaking his head. “What do you need the space for, princess? You’re going to do cartwheels out here?”

“I could,” she says primly, scowling when he shoots her a disbelieving look in return. “What, you don’t believe I can do it?”

“I didn’t say that,” he reminds her, grinning. It’s probably a bad idea to be smiling at her irritation, but he can’t help it. She’s cute when she’s mad. “Though I’ll admit, it’s a little hard to picture. As hard as it is to picture you apparently once streaking in a bowling alley.”

“I had a good publicist!” she protests, shoving at his shoulder when he cracks up. “Seriously! I had a party girl phase, remember? I can have fun. I’m fun.”

“You’re very believable,” he teases, raising his hands up in mock surrender. “Fair enough, okay? Let’s not strain yourself doing something out of your comfort zone here.”

You’re unbelievable,” she huffs, spinning on her heel to back up a few steps. “Move, or I might flatten you into a pancake.”

He releases a incredulous laugh. “You’re kidding, right? You’re not actually— oof.

She doesn’t launch herself at him so much as collide into him, and he only manages to catch her by the skin of his teeth, winding his arms under hers and hauling her up. Her laugh is breathless against his ear when he lifts her, tickling at his neck and sending a skittering of sparks through him.

Tamping down the urge to press closer, he clears his throat instead, finally gets his voice working enough to say, “That was nothing like a cartwheel, Clarke Griffin.”

“It is to me,” she shrugs, sliding a hand down to his chest to hold herself steady. For a brief minute, he wonders if she can hear the erratic thump of his pulse, the spike in rhythm every time she looks at him. “Plus, I was hindered by the lack of space. You can’t blame me for that.”

She sounds just as breathless as he is, in the moment, and he finds himself leaning forward before he can help it, closing the distance between them. “Yeah, not for that, at least.”

“No,” she says quietly, peering up at him from between her lashes, her mouth inches from his. “Not for that.”

Then she’s kissing him, and he can feel pretty much every coherent thought leaving him as he tightens his grip on her, kissing her back

Just as his phone buzzes in his pocket, the motion hitting him like a cold splash of water.

With an Herculean amount of effort, he pulls back, breathing hard. She makes a small, distressed noise at that, and he has to keep himself from wrapping his arms back around her once more. “Hey— hey,” he says, swallowing hard. “Clarke. I— I can’t.”

The confusion on her face is evident, and he tries not to think about how quickly it’ll segue off into anger, or worse, hurt. “What?”

“It’s just,” he stops, rubbing at his face. “I— it’s not fair to you, okay? There’s someone else. Someone I like a lot. And it’s confusing, because it’s not like I know who she actually is, or where she’s even from, or what her name is, even, but—”

“Bellamy,” she interrupts, and for some reason, she’s smiling, which is just making him feel even more nervous than before. “I have to tell you something.”

It’s not the reaction he’s picturing, really, but then again, it’s Clarke. Everything about her is surprising. “Sure,” he says, cautious. “I’m all ears.”

“Remember— remember when you wrote that article? About me? And it blew up?”

He’s not sure where she’s going at this point, but he just nods anyway. “Naturally.”

“I read it,” she admits, her voice going soft. “And I was— angry, and pissed, and upset, but mostly because it was true, you know. So— I did something stupid. Something impulsive.” She takes a deep breath, as if steeling herself, and he feels himself tensing instinctively at it. “I created a account, and I messaged you on it.” Then, lifting her gaze to meet his, “I’m her,” she continues, her voice steadying with each word. “I’m Ari.”

There’s a minute when he thinks he stops breathing entirely, lungs seizing and words faltering in his throat. “You?” he croaks out, stepping back instinctively. “That was— you’re Ari?”

“I wanted to tell you,” she says immediately, wringing her hands together. “I wanted to tell you right away, or when we were talking but it was just— I was so fucking scared. Because I like you. I like you, way more than I should, and way more as a friend and,” she gives a helpless gesture, letting her hands fall back against her thighs. “I— panicked. It’s no excuse, I know, and you can hate me if you want, but.” She stops, biting at her lip. “I just thought you should know. That’s all.”

It’s a lot to process, all at once, but all he can manage in this instant is overwhelming, instantaneous relief. She likes him. It hasn’t been in his head, all this while, and it’s just— it’s been her, all along. Clarke. Just Clarke.

He can feel the smile blooming on his face, wide and unrestrained and stupidly happy. “No,” he tells her, leaning forward to take his face in her hands. “I don’t hate you.”

The last thing he sees is the curl of her mouth right before he’s kissing her, messy and heated and a little sloppy with it, and he can feel her laugh against him when their noses bump, her arms curling around his neck when she pulls back.

“I can’t believe you kept me hanging like that,” Clarke says wryly, poking a finger against his chest. “I don’t hate you,” she mimics, in what he supposes passes as a poor approximation of his voice. “You’re so dramatic.

“Says the person who created a tumblr account just to yell at me over a blog post,” he retorts, dropping a kiss against the space between her brows, her eyelids, the side of her jaw. (It’s hard to stop, now that he can. He has a feeling he won’t be, anytime soon.) “I can’t believe you, Clarke Griffin.”

He senses more than sees her smile, her fingers already curling in his hair to pull him down once more. “You should,” she tells him, and this time, when she kisses him, he thinks he does.

 

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bell @bellaugustusblake 1h ago

ATTN: I have rescinded all callouts of @cgriffin AKA clarke griffin. She is now my girlfriend (long story)

@cgriffin retweeted this tweet.

@draftlamuqe: !!! OH MY GOD

@rachlee: bellarke rise

@callmemiller: ...you guys are just deadass fucking embarrassing

@cgriffin: @bellaugustusblake yeah, I guess we are <33