The first thing Clarke tells him is, “Don’t blame yourself.”
Rich, coming from her.
It’s raining, a cruelly fitting weather pattern for the day, but it makes Bellamy feel heart sick and morose as they lower the coffin into the ground. Of course, he’s seen death before. He'd seen it more times than he can count. But funerals were few and far between for the ex-assassin.
The guests fill his house with empty chattering, and he stares blankly out the window as rain carves streams in his driveway. His head is fuzzy, blanked out and dull. His eyes are dry, the skin under his hands rough, the texture of his wedding ring a horrible reminder of all that he’d lost.
Gina’s sister comes up to him and places a hand on his shoulder, her eyes—so like Gina’s—foolishly wide. “Bellamy?”
He turns to her. He doesn’t say anything, just waits for her to speak. It was a habit he’d gotten into when he’d worked for mob men who were so full of themselves that if you spoke first, you were liable to lose a finger.
Gina had smiled at his habit, said that it made him look “intellectual.” Bellamy just thought that it made him seem quiet. Nothing less, nothing more. Then again, Bellamy wasn’t the best at telling what other people thought of him. Some people still called him Baba Yaga, for fuck’s sake.
Gina’s sister smiles kindly at him. “We’re going to head out now. Do you need anything?”
He smiles back at her, a small twitch of his lips, and shakes his head.
She frowns a little bit. “Are you sure?”
She exhales, concern written on her face. Bellamy expects her to turn away and take her husband and her kids. That’s what she’d done in the last few days, working with him on the last few bits of preparation for Gina’s funeral. But now she stays, hovering gently, still concerned. It rankles.
He waits. “Yes?”
“I’m not sure if it’s the best idea for you to be alone, right now,” she says hesitantly.
“I’m fine, really. You should be with your kids.”
She glances back at them, almost guiltily, where they sprawl on the couch. Grief over their aunt hadn’t hit them quite the same way it had hit others, but Bellamy supposes that is to be expected. He remembers his own mother’s funeral, how Octavia, only about five years younger, had seemed so much less affected. Later, Bellamy discovered that was really just Octavia, that she got angry instead of sad, but in those moments of watching Aurora’s body go up in its plain cardboard box, clutching O’s hand, he’d found her lack of tears for the only parent she’d ever had downright creepy. He supposes he might find the children’s lack of grief also creepy if it weren’t for the fact that funerals were uniquely unsuited to children in the first place. They would grieve in their own way, on their own time.
And it’s not like Bellamy’s really alone. A shadow waits for him, upstairs in his office. She’ll wait with him for however long he needs, even though it’s been five years of no contact.
“I will be fine.”
She nods at him, collects her family, and then his stupidly big house is horribly, soul-rippingly, empty. He can still feel Gina’s ghost lingering in every line, on every piece of furniture, in every doorway of their home. He takes careful, measured steps away from his window. Counts the number of times his heel hits, listens very deliberately to the muted click of the soles of his shoes striking the floor. If he didn’t, he would collapse.
He makes it upstairs. Clarke is there waiting for him, her eyes gentle in their sympathy. Clarke’s known just as much death as he has, maybe more. If anyone could tell him how to get through this, it would be her.
He stares at her, from where she stands next to his desk. She’d been looking at his bookshelves, at all the idiotically expensive first additions Gina had gotten him for his birthday.
She opens her arms, and he all but falls into them.
“I can’t stay long,” she tells him, after he’d cried himself out several times. “I have another job in Puerto Rico. But I had to come.”
He bows his head, feeling sick. “Thank you.”
“She wouldn’t have wanted you to isolate yourself.”
He huffs a short, bitter laugh. “And who do I have? All of our friends were really her friends. I can’t—”
He can't let himself open up to them, because he might do something horrible, like kill them. That’s the worst part of it, really. When Gina had collapsed, Bellamy’s first thought was that someone had poisoned her. Was that someone had decided Wallace’s influence wasn’t enough, and that she was forfeit because of it. And then she’d been diagnosed, something horribly mundane, terribly incurable like cancer, and all his hope that he might be able to track down whatever fucker had done this to her and torture an antidote out of them had gone right out the window.
And left him with simmering, helpless anger. And a man like Bellamy Blake was not used to being helpless.
Clarke leans her head against his shoulder and it’s some of the first real contact that he’s had with someone he cares about since Gina died. Gina’s sister touched him, on his arm or shoulder, but that was usually an empty touch. It was meant to offer comfort that could not be had.
But Clarke’s touch had always been welcome, no matter what was happening. And now it was doubly so, because Bellamy can already feel the maw inside him eating up his heart, and he doesn’t want to be alone tonight.
“I fly out first thing next morning,” she murmurs into the muscle of his shoulder. He nods.
The doorbell rings, loudly. Bellamy flinches. She draws back, her gaze flicking away, and he knows that she’s thinking that there was once a time when Bellamy Blake didn’t flinch, especially at a noise so common as the doorbell, but he’s strung out after a long, grief-stricken day. Besides, she’d never say it out loud.
Clarke gets up, tugging him along with her, and goes downstairs. He lets himself be led, because there’s little where he won’t go, as long as she is there. She drops his hand and then pulls open the door. There’s a woman on the other side, looking mildly annoyed at the long wait.
“Bellamy Blake?” She asks.
“Please sign here.” She hands him a clipboard and a pen, briskly.
He looks at it, lets his hand automatically form the letters of his own name, and then hands the clip board back.
“And the pen?” She asks.
He glances down. “Oh,” and hands it back.
She nods, sharply, and then goes to her van and pulls out a crate. Bellamy stares at it. There’s something inside. He takes it from her and Clarke shuts the door and that’s that. He’s now a proud owner of a small Rottweiler puppy, scrambling around in excitement.
“Aw,” Clarke coos at it. “What a cutie.” She reaches two fingers through the bars of the crate and scritches the dog’s ear. The dog writhes in happiness.
Bellamy deposits the crate on the table while Clarke scoops the dog out. He grabs the card and the world around him goes quiet as he sees Gina’s handwriting on the front, his name written with as much care as her weak, cancer-ridden hand could manage at the end.
He opens it, at once terrified and eager to, and reads the short note:
You need something to love. And the car doesn’t count.
Bellamy smiles a little at that, even though he feels fresh tears welling in his eyes. He stands and sweeps the dog from Clarke’s arms, cuddling it as close as he possibly can without squishing it. He presses his face into her fur and lets it wick away the tears. I’ll take care of her, he promises Gina fervently. With my whole heart.
He glances up to see Clarke smiling at him. He shifts, drops another kiss onto the dog’s head, and says, “What?”
She shakes her head. “What are you going to name her?”
He glances down at the dog, and sees a brown spot splattered directly on the top of her head, nestled deeply in the surrounding black fur.
Clarke rolls her eyes vehemently, snorting. “You’re going to name your little puppy after the three-headed guard dog to the Underworld?”
Bellamy shrugs, feeling a small smile tug at his mouth at the incredulity in her voice. “Why not? She’ll get big, eventually.”
Clarke walks forward, unable to resist the cuteness of a small puppy, and pets Cerberus. “Oh, fine.”
He grins. “What, you don’t think she can guard me against unwanted souls?”
“I think they are some big shoes to fill,” she tells him, looking him directly in the eye. But she’s smiling regardless, and as she looks down at Cerberus, Bellamy knows she is mentally linking the name with the small body in his arms.
They retire soon after that. Clarke goes to the guest bedroom, and Bellamy to his and Gina’s, and it suddenly doesn’t feel quite so lonely. He can still feel her lurking everywhere, but at least the small whines Cerberus occasionally lets out distract him from the total silence descending over the house.
In the morning, Clarke is up insanely early to catch her flight, and Bellamy escorts her to the airport. Clarke spends more time saying goodbye to the dog than to him.
When it’s time, he hugs her tightly. “You’re always welcome, princess,” he murmurs tightly into her shoulder.
She pulls back to look at him. “I know.”
He nods, she walks through security, and that’s that. On the way back from the airport, Bellamy picks up a leash, kibble, a dog bed, and some other supplies for the new puppy. She’s young, but surprisingly well-behaved. She sits on the seat of his Rover, panting happily at the wind spilling in through the open windows. Bellamy takes the long way home, enjoying the wind streaming through his hair. Cerberus perches one paw on the sill and tilts her nose to the breeze. Bellamy quirks a small smile at that.
He stops for gas, keeping one cool eye on Cerberus as she looks around. She’s still standing with two paws on the window sill, and Bellamy wants to make sure she won’t jump out. A car pulls up, blasting obnoxiously loud music. A man gets out, and Bellamy’s blood goes cold.
It’s Cage Wallace, Dante’s son. The heir to the Wallace fortune and crime family.
Bellamy’s never met him, but he sure as fuck knew his face.
“Well, well,” Cage says, and his eyes scroll across the car. It’s a newer model of Rover, and though Bellamy knows it’s nice, there’s nothing inherently remarkable about it that you can see from the outside. Raven had given it to him right before he’d left. She’d done custom suspension, steering, and full armor, all while keeping it looking like some generic Rover.
But Cage is smirking like he knows what’s special about it. “That’s a nice car.”
Bellamy nods at him. “Thanks.”
Cage cocks his head at him, then walks up. “How much?”
Bellamy raises an eyebrow. “It’s not for sale.”
“I need it.”
“That’s too bad.”
Cage extends a hand and scritches Cerberus’s ears. She whines a bit. “I’ve always loved dogs.”
I’m sure you do, Bellamy thinks. He pulls the gas pump from the car and walks around the other side, getting in. “Have a nice day.”
Cage’s eyes are hard. “You, too.”
Bellamy starts the car and pulls out of his spot, watching Cage shrink in the rearview mirror.
It takes him the entirety of the rest of his day to shake the creeping feeling he got from Cage’s eyes. He can feel them burning into his back as he putters around, setting up a feeding station for Cerberus and arranging for a class to train her. He feels like he’s being watched as he cooks himself dinner and sits on the couch, Cerberus sprawled across his feet. He checks the house before he goes to bed, making sure doors are locked, windows shut, curtains closed.
He brushes his teeth and climbs into bed, cuddling his puppy to his chest. He closes his eyes and tries not to think of Gina as he falls asleep.
He wakes to whining. Cerberus is scratching at his door, the claws making small scriiiitch scriiiitch sounds as she draws her foot down. He rubs his eyes and checks the time. 3 AM.
He turns back to her. “Need to go?”
She whines again. Bellamy groans and climbs out of bed, hobbling over to the door to open it. She runs out and down the stairs. He follows her sedately, rubbing the crust from his eyes.
He would give excuses, if he really thought they would help. He would say that he’s five years retired, that he hadn’t been expecting it, that he never thought he’d have to deal with this kind of situation again. But Bellamy learned long ago that excuses were just hot air, and the truth is that Cage Wallace got the better of Bellamy.
He shouts as a heavy blow catches his stomach, and goes down hard. A kick hits him in the ribs, hard enough to fracture one or two, and then another gets him in the face.
The next few minutes are a blur while Bellamy rapidly re-learns all his old techniques for dealing with pain.
Dimly, he hears Cage growl, “get that bitch!” and the scrabbling of little paws on the floor. Bellamy tries to get up, tries to make his limbs move, but another kick hammers him down again. No, he tries to say, but he can’t even get that out. His vision fades.
When he comes to again, the house is dead silent. Bellamy hates the silence, hates the contrast between now and the warmth of Gina moving about their home, always making noise. Bellamy can’t even hear his dog. He hauls himself up and stumbles a bit, swaying as his vision swims. He definitely has a concussion.
His reflection stares at him through the large glass windows at the back of his house: the skin on his nose is split, a line of blood runs from there to his mouth, where it drips from his lips. He’s panting. He doesn’t look like Baba Yaga now; he looks like a fool, a weakling who couldn’t fight back. Who couldn’t protect the one thing he had left.
Helpless rage rises in him to eclipse whatever faculties he has left. He clenches his eyes shut and grits his teeth, feeling his chest constrict and burn. Grief and fury and terror and loneliness, terrible loneliness, well up inside him until he can’t breathe. He hunches over a bit, panting slightly, and then masters himself. He knows these feelings—they were a constant companion before Gina. He's fought them so many times before, and yet this battle still feels entirely new to him. Loneliness, for all its familiarity, is not a known enemy. It comes in new, shadowed forms; it eats at him when he least expects it until he is, yet again, reduced to little more than an animal fighting its own baser instincts.
Forcefully, he straightens his frame. He stares himself dead in the eye in the window. He was Bellamy Blake, the Boogeyman of the underworld. Cage fucking Wallace isn’t going to get away with taking the last thing he’s ever going to get from Gina.
Bellamy scrubs the blood from the floor, slow, deliberate strokes designed to erase any sign of suffering that might remain. When he’s done with that, he searches the house, but finds no body. Then he takes a sledgehammer, descends into the basement, and goes to dig up the last remnants of his old life.
The bus takes him onto the outskirts of Arcadia, where Raven’s shop lurks. He hasn’t seen Raven for a while, but some small part of him is looking forward to it. Raven had always had a sort of free quality to her that appealed to Bellamy; he loved how she never seemed as entrenched in the underworld as everyone else had been. Even Clarke, whose life and parents should have afforded her every luxury, had never quite been able to shake the stain of the underworld, but it seemed to slide right off Raven.
She walks up to him grimly, her brace creaking slightly in the chilly early morning air.
“Bellamy,” she says, voice entirely unsurprised. So she had known he was going to come.
They pause for a minute. Years ago, Bellamy might’ve hugged her. They’d been close, once, and while he’d seen her in the interim between getting out, she had never quite treated him the same.
“I need my car back.”
She gives a little nod and looks at the ground. “I’m sorry.”
The words are strange to hear from her mouth: Raven didn’t apologize, she just fixed the problem.
“It was here. But Cage took it. I refused to get him a new plate and shit, but that didn’t stop him.”
Bellamy nodded. “Do you know why he needed it?”
Raven frowns. “No, I—I don’t think so. Wallace is planning something, but that’s about all I could tell you.”
Bellamy tries to contain the twitching in his jaw. “I need a ride.”
Raven brightens up a bit at that. “Now, that I can help with.”
She shows him a variety of cars, some classically old, others new and flashy, but eventually, Bellamy asks for a new Rover.
Raven gives him a deadpan look. “Seriously?”
Bellamy smiles at her. While he did like the Rovers, he didn’t want one because he thought it was the best car. He wanted one because it wouldn’t stand out in traffic. Cage would be able to spot a ‘69 Mustang or Chevelle a mile away, but a black Rover would look like any other car.
Raven groans out a sigh. “Fine, Blake, have it your way. Damn, you still have no sense of adventure.”
His smile cracks into a real grin. “Thanks, Reyes.”
She tosses him a set of keys and waves to her men to clear out. Bellamy climbs into the driver’s seat and pulls out of the garage, the low thrum of the engine steady beneath him. He heads out to the backroads first, and tries to speed off the extra anger and adrenaline lingering in his blood, but he keeps hearing the scrabble of Cerberus’s paws on the floor and finds that no amount of thrill is going to fix this. All that is going to calm Bellamy’s fury now is putting a bullet right into Cage’s smug face. Resolutely, Bellamy turns the nose of the Rover towards home. It’s time to start hunting.
The rows and rows of gold coins stare back at Bellamy. They gleam in the low light of his basement’s overhead, dull lines of burnished, roughly stamped metal. Next to them, guns and magazines nestle into their cushions. Bellamy hates to take them out.
The black phone on the desk rings, startling in the silence. Bellamy gives it one long, hateful look, and then goes to answer it.
It’s Dante Wallace. “Bellamy,” he says, almost as if he is surprised the phone was answered. “I am sorry about Gina.”
Bellamy knows that he’s not sorry about Gina, of course he’s not. Gina cost him his best assassin and then some. But Dante has always been nothing if not scrupulously polite; it’s where Bellamy learned it from.
Bellamy doesn’t thank him. In fact, he doesn’t say anything, just lets his silence do the talking for him. Dante clears his throat awkwardly and then says, “Listen, Bellamy. Let us not dispense with civility and deal with this like professional—”
Bellamy doesn’t wait for him to finish. He simply sets the phone back into the receiver and goes to get his guns. He knows that Dante will want to take care of this obstacle as quickly as possible; he’ll attack tonight, and hit hard. There will be no point in letting Bellamy live, because he knows that any world where Bellamy is alive is a world where his son is dead.
So Bellamy takes all his guns out, lifting the false bottom of the trunk so he can find the boxes and boxes of ammo stacked beneath it. He fills every magazine, lining up the bullets with the opening and slotting them in with his thumb. He slides each magazine into a handle of a gun, hearing the click, and then ensures the safety is on before putting them in his belt. He grabs a holster and slips a knife into it, and then he walks back up the stairs, more armed than he has been in more than five years.
He doesn’t think about how he doesn’t want to be this armed, about how there was a reason he got out, and it wasn’t just Gina. The killing was never the appealing part; when he discovered that other lives could be led, bloodless lives, he did everything he could to ensure that he would be able to lead one.
And now he is walking right back into the maw of the beast. He pauses at the top of the stairs and takes one deep, hard breath. Lets it swell his lungs to the point of pain, and then pushes it all out in a forceful gust. Then, he goes to his room.
Bellamy lets the shower calm his nerves. He girds himself, so that when the thugs come, they won’t catch him on any less that his very best. He pulls on his favorite three-piece, a suit he hasn’t worn in years, and slicks back his hair. He looks out his windows to see black shadows slinking through his yard. He lets his gaze unfocus and then refocus on himself. An old face stares back at him, eyes dead hollows. It's severe in the low light from his lamp, his hair, normally falling so softly around his cheeks, is now austerely kept away from his face. The ends of it slightly curl around his ears, but that is all he lets it do. He hates the way he looks. He’s always hated his hair like this, but it’s too short for a hair tie. Gel is the best way to keep it out of the way while he’s fighting, plus it creates a visual signal that he’s on the hunt. He can’t count the times someone has gotten out of the way because they saw him like this. There is a marked difference between Bellamy and Bellamy Blake.
The man looking back at him is Bellamy Blake.
He turns away from the window. Gina would cry to see him like this, but it’s not like she’s around, now is she? If she were here, things would be a lot different.
He hears the door creak open downstairs and stations himself against the wall, letting his suit blend in with the darkness around him. He sees beams of light sweep across the austere white of his walls; he follows them back to their sources. They should have known not to bring flashlights. They were as obvious to an assassin as experienced as Bellamy as the light of day.
He waits for them to come up the stairs, his heartbeat thrumming in his neck, and then he lifts his gun, clears the corner, and starts shooting.
Bellamy was taught to aim for center of mass and then ensure the kill with a headshot. Two bullets go into the torso of the first man before he hits the head of the second, then he goes back and kills the first, too.
The other assassins obviously hear the gunshots. Bellamy can feel the palpable change in atmosphere as everyone in the house hones in on where he is. He darts down the first two steps and then opts for a quicker route as bullets eat into the wall near his head. He vaults over the railing, falling feet-first, and hits the ground ready to shoot. He kills two more before he has to aim back up, shooting a third at the top of the stairs.
He has to duck behind his couch for cover as another three aim for where he was. He waits them out by using the noise as cover to quickly change out his magazine and draws his knife, slipping around the couch and slashing the knee of a sixth. He pops up, shoots the chest of a seventh, misses an eighth, kills the sixth, and then has to run as more attack.
He slips into the kitchen, where another two come from diagonal angles. He grimaces, puts a bullet in the ninth man’s side, and then dodges the muzzle of the tenth’s gun. He spins, wasting three more bullets, and then opts to pop the neck of the ninth instead of shoot him. It snaps like dry firewood. Bellamy ducks behind the wall of his living room, pausing to change out the magazine again, and then realizes the footsteps he hears are too near. He drops to his knees not a second too early, because more bullets chew through the drywall where his head was. He aims up and shoots twice, hearing the man scream. He twists around the wall, kills that one, and then runs as the twelfth attacks.
Bellamy shoots, but he’s in too close. He can’t get the muzzle with the silencer at the right angle to hit the man so he opts to drop the gun and start punching. He hammers a blow to the man’s wrist, dodges his own kitchen knife (that the fucker grabbed, damn him) and then ducks under his arm. He comes back up and sends a kick to his opponent’s knee.
The twelfth goes down hard, but has more fight in him. He uses his momentum to spin, slicing at Bellamy’s knee. Bellamy swears, avoiding slow death by severed femoral artery narrowly, and then grabs the twelfth’s wrist again. He ends up locking the guy with a hold that is slightly awkward—due to disuse—and jerks the man’s neck so he’s laying down. Bellamy slams his body onto the hilt of the knife so it stabs him. The man screams as Bellamy jerks it down for another cut. Finally, the twelfth’s strength gives out so that Bellamy can force the knife deep enough to hit his heart.
Bellamy staggers to his feet, listening for anyone else. His breath is loud in his ears, rasping through his throat. He can feel his heartbeat thrumming in his neck where the tie is tight. He looks around his house, just now noticing the flashing blue lights. His doorbell rings, strangely mundane in the midst of so much carnage. Bellamy scoops up his gun, tucks it behind his back, and then answers it.
“Hey, Bellamy,” Shaw greets.
Bellamy nods at him. “Shaw. Noise complaint?”
Shaw nods. “Noise complaint.”
Bellamy shifts so his body will block the cop’s view of the body laying sprawled on the ground.
“You uh, you working again?”
“Just taking care of a few things.” Bellamy gives him a smile like, nothing to see here.
Shaw nods. “I’ll uh, leave you be, then.”
Bellamy gives him one more smile and then closes the door, turning. He goes over the bodies to make sure they’re really bodies, but there’s no need. He trots down to the basement and picks up the black phone, dialing 0.
“This is Blake.”
“Blake?” The operators strive for their impersonality and swift service, but even this one can’t quite keep the shock out of her voice.
“Bellamy Blake, yes, that’s right.” he says, trying to be patient. “I need a dinner reservation for 12, please.”
The operator masters her voice. “Yes, Mr. Blake. I’ll send McCreary over right away.”
Bellamy hangs up the phone and then goes to wash his hands.
McCreary stares at Bellamy with a downright voyeuristic stare the entire time. The cleanup service has always been fast, discrete, and skilled, and Bellamy has no complaints against the workers. It’s their leader that has always set off alarm bells inside his head. McCreary is middle-aged, probably, but he looks older. Older, and worn, and yet somehow still eager, in a strange way. Eager for death, Bellamy supposes, and then supposes that might be why he finds McCreary creepy.
He stands off to the side as the bodies are searched and then plastic-wrapped. The men start hauling them out to the van as McCreary sidles up to Bellamy, getting just a tad too close. Bellamy is glad that he still has a few rounds left in his gun.
“You back, Blake?”
Bellamy eyes him coldly. “No. Just clearing up a few things.”
McCreary raises an eyebrow. “Oh? Well, those things better run, ‘cause the Boogeyman’s back!” His grin slips into a leer. “I look forward to working with you in the future.”
Bellamy hands him his payment and doesn’t answer.
When the cleaners are gone, Bellamy takes a moment to sit down and let the dizziness wash over him. It's not the killing—while Bellamy never truly enjoyed it, he also didn’t lose many nights of sleep. He did what he had to. But he hates how he feels like the last five years of his life have just disappeared. Gina’s been gone for less than a week and already he has blood on his hands and bodies on the floor. There’s nothing left of his life with Gina—even his house, which had felt so warm and full when she’d been alive now feels cold, and empty, and gaping. Like a physical manifestation of his heart.
He closes his eyes tightly. He thinks of sleeping in that bed, without Gina, without Clarke, without even Cerberus, and his whole body rebels. He’ll make the drive into Arcadia tonight, and then start his hunt for Cage fucking Wallace in the morning. Maybe if he’s doing something, the ghost of everyone he’s ever failed will stay away.