Clarke doesn’t really think about whether or not she’s ever touched Bellamy Blake, mostly because it’sweird. But also because they’re hardly even friends. He’s just the guy she sometimes works with at the library. His freckles are nice.
She’s never been crazy about the soulmates thing in general, and never even believed that the marks reallymeant anything until she introduces Raven and Wells during her sophomore year of college. It’s incredible, watching streaks of electric blue run up his dark skin as they shake hands, perfect bolts of navy blue lightning branching up her arm.
They’re not like the other soulmates she’s seen, who fall hard and fast, no questions asked. Raven is wary, and Wells shy, but they’re both willing to try. Two months proves their marks right, though, and Clarke has to admit that they’re nothing but perfect for each other.
They’re her favorite people in the world, her family, and she’s not jealous of them in the least. But she also knows it’s reckless to hope for someone who fits her perfectly, so she doesn’t. And she’s happy.
Well. Working at the university library is kind of a pain in the ass, because somehow college students always have the dumbest questions. But it’s not the worst. She has a job. She can’t complain.
The first time she talks to Bellamy, she’s helping out a student who insists there used to be an ATM on the second floor and is demanding to know where it is now.
Despite Clarke’s insistence that there’s never been an ATM there, or anywhere in the library, and that she’ll have better luck at the student union, the girl persists. Because she’s super sure she saw it there last week.
“Look,” Clarke says, firm, resisting the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose, “Unless you came from some parallel universe, I have to insist that you’re wrong.” And because she’s tired and kind of crabby, she adds, “If you are from a parallel universe though, let’s talk. Is Cage still an asshole there? How do you spell Berenstain?”
The girl gives her a look that’s something like scathing confusion, but then she leaves, murmuring about just going to the stupid union, so Clarke counts it as a victory.
It’s not until she turns back to her computer that she hears him chuckling.
She’s seen him around; dark hair, broad shoulders, freckles—in short, very attractive. She kind of assumes that he’s a dick because of how he looks, which she actively acknowledges is a shitty thing to assume.
“Sorry,” he says when she catches his eyes where he’s scanning the returns, “The parallel universe thing is pretty good. I might use that the next time someone asks where the café is.”
She snorts a laugh, “How often do you get that one?”
“I take it you never work around lunchtime.” His voice is deep, and kinder than she’d expect. It’s kind of nice.
“Nope,” she tosses back with a shrug, “Class.”
He nods sagely from where he stands at the returns cart. “Count yourself lucky,” he says with a wry grin, and she can’t help smiling back.
“Do you work nights though? I’ve got more than my fair share of frat guys asking me where the party’s at, bro.”
Her dude bro voice is admittedly awful and he’s laughing before she even finishes.
“Please forget I ever said that.”
She doesn’t usually have opinions on laughs, but his is, objectively, really great. It almost sounds like he’s laughing in spite of himself, which is even better. “Whatever you say, princess.”
She narrows her eyes a little at the nickname. “Clarke, actually.”
He raises his eyebrows at the correction, but then his face smooths back into a smile. “Bellamy. And yeah, I’ve had to work a Thursday night here and there, so I feel your pain.” He slides a book across the scanner, “Why would there even be a party at the library?”
She shrugs in solidarity, “Their optimism abounds. Anywhere can be a party if you try hard enough.”
He snorts, “Clearly. So, you had Cage?”
She tilts her head back with a groan, “For Philos 8. Don’t remind me.”
“I have him for 9,” he says, and she winces accordingly, “Did he do that thing where he picks a fight with anyone who disagrees with him?”
“Yes!” she says, as loud as is appropriate for a library, “Like, dude, you already have the authority here. Why don’t you teach instead of parading your peacock feathers of superior philosophy?”
“He’s the worst.” He’s grinning outright when she looks at him and she slumps back in her chair with a huff of laughter. She really didn’t peg him for someone she’d get along with, but she’s pretty happy to be proven wrong.
They chat a bit about what they’re taking now—she ribs him a little for being a history nerd—but eventually he has to get back to the stacks, and takes his leave of her at the info desk.
“See you around Bellamy,” she says with a smile.
“I hope so. Who else is going to listen to me moan about Cage?”
Then they both get assigned to switch out the educational posters in the atrium, and suddenly she really doesn’t mind going to work.
They don’t talk much at first, but there is a sort of underlying fondness of the kind you have for someone who’s suffered the same awful professor. Then one day they get to talking about Game of Thrones, and what a mess the latest season was, and everything’s easy from there.
They bicker, in hushed tones, over dumb things—usually who the best character is (Tyrion, clearly, but Bellamy’s a strong advocate for Dany. “She’s doing her best, Clarke.”)—and it’s kind of surprisingly fun.
She’s not falling for him, she’s pretty sure. He’s just smart, and funny, and thinks he’s way cooler than he is.
“You should just accept the nerd thing,” she says one day while they’re putting up a poster about study abroad programs in China, “No one cares if you’re cool at college.”
He gives her a sincerely confused look, “Who says I’m trying to be cool?”
It’s impossible not to scoff. “Please, you lean against walls and look at your phone like it’s your job.”
“Should I be flattered that you noticed that?” He’s grinning a little.
“Not in the slightest,” she says as they both climb down from their step stools. She doesn’t even bother being embarrassed by the insinuation. It’s really not a big deal.
He lifts an eyebrow, but she doesn’t comment further.
“Seriously though,” he says after a second, “I’m not trying. Mostly I’m just bad at making friends.” He looks kind of down about that, but then he grins, cocky as ever, “Nice to know it comes off as cool though.”
“You had no trouble making friends with me,” she says, after acknowledging the latter comment with an eye-roll.
His smile widens. “Are you saying we’re friends, Griffin?”
“Maybe I am.” And, okay, maybe she blushes a little, because it’s not every day she’s faced with the full force of Bellamy’s smile. It’s perfectly acceptable.
They’re silent for a few minutes as they take down a truly awful poster promoting safe sex. Like, yeah, condoms are crucial, but using cartoon characters to advertise contraception is a seriously misguided choice.
“It’s not my fault being friends with you is easy,” he says after a while, quiet and gruff, and kind of like he’s upset about it.
It’s her turn to beam at him.
She doesn’t think about the soulmate thing when she’s around him, which is kind of refreshing. Wells and Raven aren’t annoying, per se, but Wells is kind of overly hopeful that she’ll find her own soulmate someday. And sure, she worries occasionally, like everyone does, that she’ll never find her weirdly pre-determined person. So it’s nice to be around someone who takes her mind off it.
She looked once, just out of innocent curiosity, to see if he has marks, but if he does, they’re nowhere obvious. And that’s end of it. Because she doesn’t need to know if he’s got a soulmate. Why would she?
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt a little when she comes in one day, a couple months into working together, to find him talking to a gorgeous brunette across the info desk.
She ducks under the counter and waves a little when he shoots her a grin before turning back to the girl.
They have to sort out study room timeslots before they get back to the bi-monthly poster change, so she gets to work on that while Bellamy gets his flirt on. The brunette leans across to push his shoulder and yeah, trouble making friends, sure.
After a couple minutes she hears him groan before calling over to her.
“Clarke, come meet my sister?” he says with a jerk of the head.
Oh. Sister. Okay.
She manages to file away the fact that she’s acting like an actual lovesick puppy for later dissection—and embarrassment probably—and lets a delighted smile fill her face.
“Sister? Please tell me you have embarrassing stories.”
He groans. “I’m going to regret this, aren’t I?”
“That’s the goal,” his sister says, reaching a hand out toward Clarke. “Octavia. Bell used to dress up as a Roman emperor when all the other kids were superheroes.”
“Clarke,” she supplies, shaking firmly. “Thanks. Now I know for sure he was never cool.”
“I keep telling you, I never said that,” he says at the exact same moment his sister throws him a look thatmust be a sibling thing, because she has no idea what it’s supposed to mean.
“You go here then?” she asks Octavia.
Now that she’s actually focusing on the younger girl’s face, the soul marks are pretty obvious—dainty blue swirls, reminiscent of butterflies, that start at her temple and disappear behind her ear.
“Yep. Sophomore. Global Studies.” She looks down at her phone, “And I’m totally going to be late meeting Lincoln. Catch you later Bell,” she says, leaning forward to peck him on the cheek, “and nice to meet you, Clarke.”
Clarke isn’t sure what to do with her knowing look. “You too.”
Bellamy shakes his head as she sashays away. They’re both kind of ridiculously endearing.
“Is Lincoln her…”
He runs a hand through his hair, curls skewing even messier than usual.
She wants to laugh and bump her hip against his, but she doesn’t.
“Why do I get the feeling you’re not excited about that?”
“He’s not bad for her,” he says, but it sounds like he’s still trying to convince himself.
She laughs a little, “Not a fan of the soul mark thing?”
“It’s overly optimistic,” he says, automatic, like he’s said this a million times before, “Like, sure, there’s someone for everyone. But the idea that there’s exactly one person who you’re going to end up with?”
He pauses, looks at her.
“Please, don’t stop your rant on my account.”
“I kind of figured you’d be yelling at me by this point.”
She grins, grim, “Nah, we’re basically on the same page for this one.” She considers, “Except that you should definitely let your sister make her own choices, don’t be a dick.”
“Yeah, that’s more what I expected.”
She pushes the cart into him so he stumbles a bit. “Shut up.”
He starts hanging out with her friends when she invites him, and he fits in easily, even if he spends most of the time at her side. It’s safe to say she’s not complaining at this point.
By the time she realizes she’s pretty sure she wants to make out with him, it’s with a little disappointment. They’ve been working together so long now, and hanging out outside work fairly often, so surely they’ve touched at some point. Fingers brushing while passing books, shoulders bumping as they work at the computers. Something.
Just because she can’t remember doesn’t mean they haven’t—and it’s naïve to hope.
She doesn’t need him to be her soulmate. Really, she doesn’t. But a part of her wishes he was, because it would be so much easier. It’s not so much a deterrent as it is a stupid, petty voice in the back of her head that reminds her that he’s not meant for you.
She feels like he is though, and it’s as exhilarating as it is depressing.
He finishes finals before her, winter semester, and by Wednesday evening of finals week, she’s ready to pull her hair out.
There’s a knock on her door around 8, and she drags herself up from the couch and the seriously intimidating pile of notes.
“I figured you could use Chinese, and a study partner, if you want one,” he says when she answers. He looks entirely too good for someone who just finished finals.
“What gave it away?” she asks, shutting the door behind him with a tired smile.
“Literally your last five texts to me have been about hating organic chemistry and wanting to eat an entire horse.”
“You’re seriously the best.”
As tired as she is, she’s still stupidly attentive to the touching thing, so she just resolves not to sit too close to him. It’s really not a question she wants answered tonight.
He’s a great study partner, despite that he knows next to nothing about chemistry, and she memorizes all the reactions she needs to know with the help of his stupid anecdotes and mnemonics.
“Stay,” she says when he gets up to leave around midnight. She flushes red when his eyebrows shoot up. “I just mean, Raven basically lives at Wells’ place now,” she fumbles. That’s really not what she meant, “This is my last final, and I’ll be done by 10 A.M. tomorrow. We could hang out after? If you want?”
His smile is the softest she’s ever seen it, once she gets all the right words out. “Sure.”
He definitely doesn’t look disappointed. That’s definitely just delusional, sleep-deprived wishful thinking on her part.
The next morning, he sticks his head out of Raven’s room to wish her good luck, looking sleepy and ruffled and—fuck, she really likes him.
“Go back to sleep, Bell.”
She kicks O-chem’s metaphorical ass and she’s feeling pretty on top of the world by the time she fumbles to unlock the door to her apartment.
Bellamy’s at her kitchen table when she walks in, eating her cereal, and he grins at her like she’s the sun, so she kind of just decides, what the hell?
She takes a steadying breath. “So, this is me saying that soul marks are bullshit and it doesn’t change the fact that I like you.”
His eyes snap to hers, and his mouth opens and closes a couple times. Eventually, a slow smile forms at his lips.
“Yeah,” he agrees, once he regains his composure, standing up and taking a step toward her, “Total bullshit.”
She laughs a little in relief, breath shaking. She had a feeling he felt the same, but it’s nice to have the confirmation.
He stops short when he’s halfway to her though. “Do we need to make rules about this? Because one of us could meet our actual soulmate and—”
She makes an impatient sound at the back of her throat, drops her bag by the door, and takes two steps to close the space between them, fingers closing around his wrist to pull him down to her. Their lips meet, messy and a little desperate, but so so good, and she can’t imagine a world where this isn’t right.
It’s not until they pull apart that she notices the pleasant burning in her fingertips where her hand still encircles his wrist.
His gaze is already directed to where their skin is touching, and she looks in time to see small jagged lines and shapes, etched in bright pink, finishing their climb from her fingers toward the back of her hand. It’s not until she looks at his arm, skin dark next hers, that she realizes they’re constellations of sorts. His freckles, most concentrated across his nose, are more sparse at his wrist, but still close enough to be connected by the same pink lines, forming galaxies that stretch halfway to his elbow. It’s beautiful.
“Thank god,” he breathes, and she looks up to see the emotion in his eyes before he kisses her again, slower this time, but deeper too, and she makes a small sound of contentment, finally releasing his wrist to twine their fingers together, instead, while her other hand settles at his jawline.
When they break apart again, it’s because they’re both smiling too much.
“Maybe it’s not total bullshit,” she says, soft, nose brushing his, fingers skimming subconsciously across the skin at his wrist.
“Maybe not,” he agrees, nipping her lips once more before resting his forehead against hers. “The pink is pretty cool.”
They pull apart a little to look at their joined hands, the constellations on her fingertips flowing seamlessly into the ones on his arm.
“Fuck yeah,” she says, “Our marks rock. Totally unnecessary though.”
That doesn’t change the fact that she really likes the way they look, when their hands are intertwined. Like they’re a matching set. Like they belong. And they do.