He doesn’t catch her attention until he starts sending back the tomatoes.
It’s a real sting to her professional pride, for one, and it goes on for days ; plates and plates sent back with the tomatoes left untouched, a scattering of bread crumbs left on the rim of the plate.
“Maybe he’s allergic.” Monty suggests, hopeful.
Clarke scoffs, levels a glare against the back of his head, “Or maybe he’s just wasteful .” She frowns down at the tomatoes, evenly sliced, still glistening with its juices and perfectly ripe, “I’m going to give them back to him.”
He’s still sprawled in his favorite booth, polishing off his third round of sandwiches when she rounds the corner, dropping the plate onto the table with an obnoxiously loud thump. Then, working to keep her voice saccharine sweet, she goes, “Is there a problem with the food, sir?”
Clarke registers the confusion on his face first, before it turns to a dark scowl. He slouches down in his seat, movements deliberately languid even though she can practically feel the tension radiating off him, controlled yet distinctly predatory, “Not particularly, no.”
She huffs. The corners of his lips twist at that, baring sharp points of teeth.
“Well, it seems like you have a problem with my tomatoes.”
He gives a short bark of laughter, folding his arms across his chest and baring a dark tattoo against his forearm, “ Your tomatoes?”
“I grew them.” she retorts, defensive, “They are mine so I know they’re good.”
His eyes dart over to the pitiful slices left on the plate, the fork lying carelessly on the table, “Maybe I just don’t care for tomatoes, have you thought about that?”
“Trust me,” Clarke smirks, “you’ll care for my tomatoes.”
He wets his lips, contemplative, before he admits, “I’ve never eaten one before.”
She blinks, her gaze roving over the sickle shaped scar on his cheek, the bruises on his knuckles, skin puckered and stretched pink like they’re healing from a far too recent injury,
“You’re not from around here, are you?”
He smiles, in a way that suggests he’s enjoying a private joke, just wide enough for her to glimpse the edges of teeth, “Nope.”
“Good.” she says decisively, “Then you’re going to be blown away.”
He snorts, but spears a piece with his fork, holding it up carefully in the light, “It’s such an unnatural color.” he mutters, disdainful, but takes a bite anyway.
She holds her breath when he swallows, pitching forward on her elbows, “Good?”
“Is alright, I suppose.” he mumbles, but he’s already reaching for the next slice on the plate, stuffing two in his mouth at one go.
Clarke stifles a laugh, biting down on her lip, “So I’ll just put in a order for another round then?”
“Please.” he says, plaintive.
He comes back the next day, and the day after too, like clockwork. Always ordering the one item off the menu, to the point where the wait staff don’t bother removing his order ticket or showing him to his table anymore.
Clarke should really stop meddling now that her professional pride is wholly intact, but.
All he orders are sandwiches , and nutritional value aside, she can’t help but think that he could use some variety in his food choices.
He’s not hard to miss, considering he’s broader than the door frame and has to do an awkward crab scuttle to enter, so she pokes her head out of the server’s window the minute she glimpses him lumber past the bar area.
“Hey, tomato hater!”
He falters mid-step, turning on his heel to look at her. “Chef,” he greets, smile shy and a little hesitant, “to what do I owe the honour?”
“Sit here.” she says, authoritative, slapping her hand over on the bar counter, “I have a special order for you.”
He shoots her a wary glance, but swings himself up on the bar stool anyway. The effect is rather comical with his large frame hunched over the tiny chair, but he settles in pretty quickly, resting his weight on his elbows and peering at her through his lashes.
“Should I be worried?”
“That you’re going to get unrealistic expectations about cafe food?” she muses, carefully arranging the garden salad and chicken taco that she whipped up on a whim, “Probably.”
He’s hesitant when she serves the plate up, reluctantly taking a bite of the cucumber she’s artfully cut into the shape of flowers before he starts devouring the rest, even licking the sauce off his fingers. Clarke beams, just a little.
“Griffin farms,” he says, sudden, “that’s uh. That’s yours, right? The big one just outside of town?”
She hums in response, swats away a curious Jasper when he tries to peek at who’s she talking to, “Yeah, and it’s not just outside of town. It’s a pretty quiet area. My morning commute to work is ridiculous.”
“Pretty, though.” he says offhandedly, and for some stupid, unfathomable reason, she blushes.
“Well, that’s where your vegetables are from.” she adds blithely, ducking her head so he can’t catch the expression on her face, “Not the chicken though, I get really attached to my livestock.”
“Huh.” he raises an eyebrow at her, adds, “I’m pretty good with animals.”
Clarke eyes him appraisingly- the corded muscles straining under his shirt, the thick scars wrapping around skin. He could break her wrist with a press of his fingertips if he wanted to.
“I’m sure you are, mister.” she mutters, twisting her wrist just so and tapping the egg against the countertop.
“It’s Bellamy.” he says, soft, and she has to work to keep her surprise from showing. It’s-- it’s a pretty name, one that she’s pretty sure has dropped out of heavy rotation in recent years, but she still remember what it means. Fair friend, beautiful friend.
It’s pretty ironic, considering that’s hardly the word that comes to mind when she thinks of him. But still. She has to admit that there is something appealing about the sharp cut of his jaw, the dark hair curling softly over the nape of his neck. The way he talks, even and gruff and low, like the rumble of thunder.
“Clarke.” she tells him, stretching her hand out briefly for him to shake. “You should probably sit here from now on if you want to live a long and healthy life.”
He smirks up at her, fingers tightening over hers for a millisecond before he pulls away, “That’s what you’re going with? Really?”
She drops the egg in the pan with a loud sizzle, grins when she catches him trying to sneak a look at what she’s making, “A balanced diet goes a long way, Bellamy.”
Bellamy comes by frequently enough for him to start having favorites.
He still likes tomatoes best, but carrots are a close second. Eggs have to be scrambled and very lightly salted, while too much pepper makes him sneeze. Strawberries give him a weird rash even though he adores jam.
“But where does it all go ?” Raven mutters darkly, when Bellamy calls for another round of steak and eggs, “Does he run here every morning? Is he secretly a tapeworm?”
Clarke snorts, has to remind herself to close her mouth when he stretches ever so slightly, revealing a taut stretch of stomach and the deep vee of his hipbones.
“Not a tapeworm.” she manages, voice embarrassingly squeaky until she composes herself and turns her face away.
Raven elbows her in the ribs, hard enough to make her look up, her grin fierce and wild and downright ferocious, completely at odds with the playful nature of her words, “You like him.”
Her face is burning, but she can always blame that on the heat of the kitchen anyway, “No, I don’t.”
“You like how he looks then,” she says, all smug, “especially when he wears those shirts.”
Clarke glares, swipes her foot over to trod on her toes, but the girl just slides past nimbly, laughing, her voice growing progressively louder--
“I can see the appeal though. His arms, are like, bulging through his shirt.” She pauses to mime it, puffing out her cheeks exaggeratedly, “Please, no one tell him that stores sell shirts that are actually his size.”
“I will tackle you to the ground if you don’t shut up.” Clarke hisses.
Raven cracks up at that, delves her fingers into her bun and ruffles it up, pulling strands from her neat updo and making her sigh.
“Fine.” she concedes, resting her elbow on Clarke’s shoulder, waggling her fingers over at Bellamy when he glances over, “He’s not a tapeworm.”
“Told you,” Clarke says, prim, poking her tongue out at her, “furthest thing from a tapeworm.”
“But he’s definitely a fox.” Raven concludes, giving Clarke a smacking kiss on the cheek before flouncing away, ponytail swinging tauntingly between her shoulder blades. Clarke scowls down at the onions simmering in her pan, sneaks a peek over at Bellamy.
He’s smiling into his food, all pleased. If she didn’t know any better, she would say he was downright smug.
She’s peeling potatoes with the edge of her knife, prepping for the dinner rush when Bellamy clears his throat, goes, “So I have a proposition for you,” and she nearly loses her damn finger.
He shifts nervously in his seat, shrugging with false nonchalance, “I would like to work. At your farm, that is. I think I’d make a good addition.”
Clarke arches a single brow, sets down the knife carefully to the side, “I don’t just hire anybody, Bellamy.”
“I have experience.” he argues, “I told you. I’m great with animals.”
“Uh huh,” she murmurs, absentminded, her eyes falling on the skin of his exposed arms, hardened with scars, the flash of a tattoo at the flex of his bicep, “so what were you doing before?”
“I was an accountant.” he says, completely straight-faced.
“Of course,” Clarke replies, without missing a beat, “why, I wouldn’t expect any less.”
His mouth twitches at that- holding back on a laugh- something she notices that he tends to do with increasing frequency when he’s around her. She’s stupidly proud of it, always eager to coax rare, closed-mouth chuckles from him, trembling through his body like a livewire. But those are far and in between and so she settles for his small smiles instead, the quick, easy slide of his lips, the pointed smirks.
“Really.” Bellamy adds, drumming his fingers against the counter, “Look, I can handle the manual labor aspect of the job. I have good instincts, I’m a quick learner. You won’t even have to pay me much.”
“That’s what you say now, ” she says, planting her hands on her hips, “but it’s a whole lot of work, okay? I get up at six in the morning everyday--”
“I can handle it.” he interrupts, eyes wide and pleading, ridiculously puppy-like, “At least consider it, Clarke.”
“Believe me, I am.” she sighs, retrieving the knife and selecting a point on the potato, pressing down hard to separate the skin, “Do you know how to chop wood?”
He rolls his eyes, jabs at her elbow teasingly, “Come on, ask me something hard.”
“Mow the grass.”
Bellamy folds his arms over his chest, shoots her a look of mock exasperation, “Duh. I watched all the requisite eighties movies involving lawn mowers.”
“Calm down, Martha Stewart.” She laughs, bumping her foot against his, watching his smirk grow wider, “There is the issue about accommodation though.”
He sobers instantly, “What about it?”
“I probably--” Clarke worries her lips with her teeth, tries valiantly to keep her voice even, “the farm is pretty far out. If you’re helping out full-time, it makes more sense for you to stay there as well. I have uhm, a few spare rooms, so.”
“That does sound logical,” he says, careful, then with a rueful smile, “I get to pay rent though, right?”
“Yeah, and you never have to worry about groceries.” she shoves her hands into the pocket of her jeans, feeling strangely self conscious, “Don’t expect much, though. It’s really not that great.”
“Oh definitely,” Bellamy sighs, balancing his chin on his palms, “a roof over my head, all the food I can eat, running water. It sounds awful.”
Clarke stares, “Where were you even living before?”
He gives a careless shrug, reaches over to pluck a potato from the basket.
“You wouldn’t want to know, trust me.”
“Or you just won’t tell me because you like being cryptic and mysterious .”
This time, when he smiles, she gets teeth, but only a hint of it- a shard of sunlight bouncing off water- blinding and gone in the split second it takes for her to blink.
He pockets the potato, getting to his feet and nearly taking the dangling lamp off with crick of his neck, “See you soon, roomie.”
“I saw that, you thief ,” Clarke calls out to his receding back, dropping her fist down dramatically on the counter, “you watch your back around these parts!”
The sound of his laughter is faint but she catalogues it all the same, before going back to washing the potatoes.
Bellamy moves in on a Saturday afternoon.
Clarke’s expecting a few boxes at least but all he has are a spare pair of boots and a single duffel bag, which he unceremoniously dumps at the foot of his bed before insisting that she show him around.
He takes almost everything into stride except for the cows. He’s downright fascinated by the cows .
“You don’t kill them or anything, do you?” he demands, perched against the paddock fence in a way that suggests he might actually jump in to start hugging them or something. It definitely an unexpected turn of events.
“Where do you think you get your burgers from?” Clarke asks, beaming with fake innocence.
Bellamy goes so pale it’s almost comical, “But you named all of them.”
She sighs, pretends to pick non-existent dirt out of her nails, “Well, if it bothers you so much, you could always go vegetarian.”
He scowls, plants his hands on his hips, “It’s not like I didn’t know where meat came from before, Clarke. It’s just--” He purses his lips, petulant, “these cows are so old. They’re sweet and old, it’s ten times more cruel--”
Clarke can’t fight back the laugh that gurgles up at that, his expression giving way from sulky to scandalized.
“I don’t kill any of the animals on my farm, Bellamy. I thought I told you so already.” she grins, reaching over to rub its ears, “I keep them around for milk. If you want them to get them to like you, you should know that they’re big on affection.”
“Good to know.” he tells her, smiling even when the cows actively avoid his outstretched hand, baying mournfully if he so much as brushes up against them.
They’re skittish around him, wary , as are the chickens which is ironic considering how much Bellamy adores them.
“They’ll get used to me.” he says after catching sight of her expression, “Don’t worry, I’ll win them over.”
“What happened to being good with animals?”
He winces, “Okay fine, that may have been a slight exaggeration.” Then, brightening, “Dogs love me though. It’s an irrefutable fact.”
“I’m going to have to take your word for it.” Clarke mutters, sending chunks of rocks flying as they crunch through the gravel to get to the front of the house, “You hungry?”
“Always.” Bellamy admits, a little shamefaced, but it gives way to a smirk when she throws him an apple from one of their trees.
“Start working for your food then,” she calls out, dusting her hands on the top of her jeans, “you do know how to pick apples, right?”
“The fact that you’re even questioning me about this is a insult to my qualifications.”
She sighs, loud and over-drawn, throws in a eye-roll too for good measure, but all he does is give her a little salute in return accompanied with a wink before marching off with his basket.
(It makes her smile stupidly into her soup all throughout dinner, but she puts it down to the fact that it’s nice to have some company, that’s all.)
Clarke’s so startled the first time he calls her that she nearly drops her phone into a basin full of soapy dishes.
“You have a friend here to see you,” he tells her, gruff, “I’m not letting him in until I get some kind of confirmation that he’s not here to kill the animals. Or eat all our tomatoes.”
“What did he say his name was?”
There’s a pause, then the sound of voices being raised in the background- she can pick out Bellamy’s voice easily, hoarse and tinged with suspicion- and it makes her grin, imagining him glaring at this supposed stranger through the peephole.
“It’s Wells, apparently.”
Her heart lifts, and she can’t help the little shriek that leaves her lips, “I can’t believe that idiot didn’t tell me he was back. Let him in, I get off work in a hour or so.”
“Are you sure about this?” he says, distinctly irritable, “He could be an imposter. If he was really your friend, wouldn’t he have called you to let you know that he’s coming over?”
She snickers at the muffled, it was meant to be a surprise! yelled after Bellamy’s declaration.
“That’s him, alright.”
He gives a growl of frustration, but she can hear him fumbling for the keys, bumping into the top step they always forget about and swearing under his breath.
“Has he been to eastern commonwealth lately?” he demands, sudden, making her jerk as the prong of the fork she’s been washing digs hard into her skin.
She hisses, slides the phone to rest against the crook of her neck before reaching for a wad of tissues to staunch the bleeding.
“Yes,” Clarke says, the sound garbled through her clenched teeth, “he’s the emperor’s advisor, of course he’s been to the eastern commonwealth. Did he tell you all that?”
There’s a beat, before he goes, “No. But I’m letting him in now. See you later?”
She hums in response, waits until she hears the dial tone before hanging up and sliding the phone into her pocket, grimacing at the twinge of pain that shoots up her hand. It’s a superficial wound, but Monty still insists on cleaning it and bandaging it up before the dinner rush.
“You’re awfully cheery,” Raven remarks during clean up, then with a pointed smirk, “did farmboy finally make a move?”
“Better.” Clarke grins, tossing Miller the keys to get him to lock up, “My best friend’s home.”
Wells is waiting for her on the porch when she gets back, head drooping and mouth slack until she nearly tackles him to the ground with a hug, and the next few minutes are a blur of breathless laughs and how are you --
“Wait, didn’t Bellamy let you in?”
“Yeah,” he shrugs, “but he was really antsy and suspicious the whole time, and it got annoying, so.”
“He’s bad with new people.” she explains, tugging on his arm until he gets to his feet, “I’ll introduce you properly and he’ll love you.”
She’s barely made it a few steps in when he appears, frowning.
“You’re hurt.” he declares, flat, and she releases Well’s hand to wiggle her fingers in his face, pulling a small smile from him, “Stabbed myself with a fork by accident.”
“I’ll put a fresh bandage on it.” he mumbles, trying to slide past her to get to the kitchen, but she grabs ahold of his sleeve, pulls him back.
“This is Wells.” she says determinedly, and Wells, ever so polite, sticks his hand out for him to shake.
“Yeah, we’ve met.” Bellamy mutters, exasperated, but thankfully does takes Well’s hand, albeit warily and only after he shoots her a scathing look in response, “I’ll go get you that bandage now.”
“Am I going to find your blood all over my clothes?” Wells says, amused even when she flips him off, then directing his gaze over to a returned Bellamy- grasping several bandages and looking distinctly grumpy- “You’re really observant. I didn’t even realise her hand was bandaged.”
He grunts, taking her hand and unwrapping the soiled bandages carefully, his touch feather light against hers.
“I smelt the--” he pauses, abrupt, fingers clenching and unclenching over the fresh bandages before he seems to remember to pull it around her finger, “antiseptic.”
Wells grins, nudges her in the ribs sharply, “I think he’s hinting that you smell.”
“I changed my mind,” she declares, after Bellamy has wrapped up her finger nice and tight and made himself scarce, “you should have stayed at the kingdom.”
“You’re just mad that I embarrassed you in front of the cute guy.”
She scowls, flicks him across the nose. He’s right though, and Wells Jaha is the worst .
“Do you ever put on a shirt?”
He’s too busy shaking out his wet hair to respond, so Clarke gives herself five whole seconds to ogle shamelessly before he lifts his head, cocking it in question.
“It’s too hot out.” Bellamy says pointedly, then with the quirk of his mouth, “You could take off your shirt too, if you’d like. I wouldn’t complain.”
“Keep dreaming.” she mutters, wiping away the sweat gathered on her forehead with the back of her hand. The last few days have been especially warm, humid enough to warrant Bellamy stripping off his shirt and jumping into the lake to cool down between his duties. The first few days had been especially rough, having to be mindful and not gawk whenever he emerged, soaking wet and glistening in the sun, but Clarke’s mostly used to it now.
Clarke focuses on the tattoo spanning his forearm instead, a little faded from the sun, intersecting with a multitude of scars and healing bruises, the words LSOP256 barely discernable.
Shifting her weight to the other foot, she gathers the nerve to ask, “So what does your tattoo mean?”
He tenses, effect of the words instantaneous, and when he speaks the words sound as if they’re being spoken through clenched teeth.
“I got it on impulse. It doesn’t mean anything.”
She narrows her eyes at him, tries not to sound too irritated when she goes, “You can’t get a tattoo of that sort and say it doesn’t mean anything to you. That doesn’t make any sense. It has to have some sort of significance.”
He glares right back, “You ever heard of being drunk and stupid, princess?”
Clarke wrinkles her nose, “Where did that come from?”
Bellamy flushes at that, the color flooding from his face all the way down to the taut skin pulling against his collarbones, “You keep bossing me around, that’s all.”
She gapes, carrot stalks breaking off in her fingers when she yanks it out, trembling indignantly, “I am your boss, you--”
He growls, scrubbing his hands through his hair furiously, “Fine, so why are you asking me all this personal questions then? It shouldn’t matter.”
“Why are you getting all defensive on me? I was just making conversation--”
“You know what?” He cuts in, abrupt, “Why don’t you go off for work, I can finish this on my own.”
Clarke scoffs, swallows hard to keep from doing something stupid , like crying or demanding that he talk to her. He’s not even looking at her anyway, staring so determinedly down at the carrots that it’s a wonder they haven’t combusted yet.
They’ve had this arrangement for weeks now and she still feels like she knows nothing about him.
“Fine.” she spits, pulling off her gloves with shaky hands and flinging them off into the dirt, “I’ll leave.”
She can feel him staring all until she turns the corner, ducking out of sight.
Raven is the one who suggests she take a breather after she nearly breaks the rolling pin in a misguided attempt to make croissants.
Clarke filches a pack of cigarettes from Miller, their new line cook, and heads out back to stare at them. She’s never actually smoked per say, but Lexa- her ex-girlfriend- used to and she always felt better after, calmer.
Clarke really needs to calm down.
Monty finds her before she even manages to break the seal off the packet though, flopping down next to her and knocking his knee against hers companionably.
She scowls, threads her fingers through his hair so she can brush his bangs into his eyes, “How would you know?”
He taps his nail against the neon green lighter in her hand, “Well, you took his lighter too, so. It doesn’t take a criminal mastermind, Clarke.”
“Don’t sass me.” She smiles, slumping down lower in her seat so they can bump shoulders, too, before announcing, “I’m mad.”
Monty sighs, “At your farm boy?”
“Don’t call him that,” she protests hotly, “also he’s not mine, for one. We’re not even friends , considering how he won’t tell me anything about himself.”
“You got him to tell you his name.” he says, amused, “I’m pretty sure that’s an achievement of sorts. When Raven tried to get it out of him before, he just grunted. In her face .”
“I didn’t have to try very hard for that one.” she admits, glaring down at a small crack in the concrete, “He just offered it up for me.”
“See? Clearly he likes you best.”
“He tolerates me best.” she corrects him, sliding her head down to his shoulder and closing her eyes, massaging at the point between her brows where she can feel a headache forming, “Why is this so hard?”
Monty shrugs, lacing his fingers with hers carefully. Clarke always liked how they looked together, his pale and long, gentle. Hers chapped and sun-kissed from working at the farms, raw from scrubbing at dishes.
“You can’t make him trust you.” he says, thoughtful, “You can’t-- you can’t force it. I mean, look at what happened with Finn, with Lexa. You trusted them and that didn’t work out either.” Then, after a pregnant pause, he goes, “Sorry, that was tactless.”
Clarke gives a watery laugh, tightening her grip on him and rubbing her finger over the arch of this thumb, “Wow, you’re terrible at this. I’ve found your weakness. You’re shit at comforting people.”
Monty gives a weary sigh, pats their clasped hands with his free one, “Well, I can’t possibly be good at everything now, can I? Have to leave some for you guys.”
She sniffs, pushing her elbow into his side, “When did you get to be such an asshole?”
“Learned from the best.” He grins, releasing her hand so he can tickle her chin, the other still tracing the edges of the lighter absentmindedly, cradling it in his palm as if it was something precious.
She bites down her smile, finds his fingers again.
“I’m sure that’s it.”
It’s almost too easy to avoid him for the next few days: Bellamy always gets up atrociously early to start on the chores, so he’s outside while she finishes her breakfast in the kitchen. By the time she’s changed and ready for work, he’s out back by the paddock feeding the cows. The farm is huge , and honestly, Clarke’s pretty sure they wouldn’t even cross path for weeks.
Until she gets home after a gruelling day at work, only to find that he wrecked the kitchen.
She drops her bag from her shoulder, letting it thump loudly against the floor, before releasing a incredulous, “What the actual fuck , Bellamy.”
He’s so thoroughly covered in flour that she can barely make out the expression on his face, but he does sound regretful when he goes, “I’m so sorry. I’ll pay for everything, I swear.”
She swipes her finger against the counter, uncovering copious amounts of sugar and honey splattered in sporadic patches, “What were you even attempting to do?”
He sighs, hand going up to rub against the back of his neck, clearly embarrassed, “I went to town today to pick up some supplies, and.” He shrugs, scuffing his bare feet against the floor, “There are kids going hungry , Clarke. I just thought--”
“What, you couldn’t have just given them the apples instead? Or, maybe, I don’t know,” She makes an exaggerated motions with her hands, “the carrots? Things that don’t require cooking ?”
Bellamy makes a noncommittal noise, “They said they wanted apple crumble.”
Clarke groans, “Yeah, because they’re notorious for pulling this stunt on hapless tourists, Bellamy. I know who they are, and trust me, they’re not going hungry .”
He swears under his breath, fingers unconsciously moving up to ruck through his hair, scattering more flour, “You don’t have to worry, I’ll clean it up.”
She blinks, grabs an apple slice and pops it into her mouth, “Well, since you’ve already have all the ingredients laid out, anyway.”
They clear a small patch of space, pushing the junk aside so Clarke can show him how to core the apples and how to strain them too. He’s clumsy, fumbling when he peels the apples, halves them with a knife too small for his hands. Clarke’s never noticed them before, but now that she has, she can’t fathom how she never did before.
“Your hands are the size of dustbin cans.” she mutters after he drops the dough they’ve painstakingly made in the food processor, “How do you even get things done with those?”
Bellamy shrugs, flexes his sticky, dough-covered fingers at her, “They come in useful, sometimes.”
“Yeah like crushing fruit with your bare hands.” She smirks, dropping a mangled apple into the bin, “I should just go ahead and get rid of the blender.”
He goes quiet, all of a sudden, knife still perched against an apple. Then, before she can say something to ease the tension, he goes, “They were useful when it came to the fights.”
She stills, half-convinced that he’ll leave it at that--
“It was easy money, at first.” His voice shakes at that, but his hand is steady when he makes the cut, slicing the apple neatly in half, “I never-- I was never skilled at anything else. Fighting is all I know, so.” He pauses, searching for the words, hands still deftly going through the steps, “It seemed like a natural progression. Leave one war behind and go on to the next.”
Clarke can’t help but stare now, at the numerous scars flanking his body, the deep gash across his cheek. He used to have bruises too, splotches of dark purple blooming on his back, stark against the slope of his shoulders. They’ve healed from his time at the farm, but.
Well, she never considered that he got them from fighting .
His shoulders are hunched to his ears, apple abandoned in favor of wringing his hands together, uncharacteristically nervous . He won’t even look at her, eyes shifting from the countertop to the floor rapidly. It makes her heart ache stupidly.
She reaches up, careful, tapping her nail against the crook of his cheekbones lightly until he does, eyes dark and peering at her through his lashes.
“So,” she says, a little breathless from the proximity, “enlighten me. How did a former street fighter end up on my humble little farm?”
Bellamy laughs, a small one, just a exhale against her skin but it emboldens her enough to slide her hand down instead, cupping his jaw.
“A street fighter in this economy?” He shakes his head, leaning into her touch just slightly, “That’s tragic. The future is in agriculture, Clarke. Tomatoes are the way to go.”
“Nerd.” She replies, fond.
His only response to that is to grab her by her waist, shaking out the floor trapped in his hair and smearing crumbs all over her shirt until she shrieks, launching one of their many unfinished crumbles against his chest.
Bellamy’s a lot of things, she thinks, making a face as he grins up at her, chewing triumphantly on one of the apple slices that actually touched the floor, but wasteful? Wasteful is just not one of them.
She starts hearing rumors about the apple crumbles after a week or so, and it’s a common sight to see children barreling into the cafe with their still sticky mouths, flakes of pastry clinging to their fingers and smelling like apples.
“What sane person just starts giving out apple crumbles?” Miller muses, toeing off his boots and settling down next to Monty on the kitchen floor.
“Pedophiles.” Raven replies, deadpan.
(Clarke has to muffle the sound of her laughter in the palm of her hand, face turned away from the rest until she’s composed herself enough to stop sputtering every time she imagines Bellamy’s indignant reaction.)
“Or it could be someone who actually likes kids,” Monty points out, “now, I know that’s a foreign concept for you--”
Raven scowls, casts a dark look over at Miller, “I blame you .”
Miller grins, looping an arm over Monty’s shoulders and pulling him close, “He learnt from the best.”
Clarke really should not have brought up the ladder.
“I don’t need one,” Bellamy insists, dropping the basketful of apples into her arms, making her stagger. She yelps and he reaches out to steady her instinctively, hands warm against her elbows and fingers splayed over its crease.
Clarke scowls. He just arches a single brow in response.
“I manage just fine,” he grumbles, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, leaning in closer to her. She can feel his warm breath against her brow, the light brush of his mouth, and she has to close her eyes to keep from shivering.
“You’re going to break your back climbing up those trees. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you need help .”
“It’s not me that has to get on tiptoes just to get a few apples off the tree.” Bellamy mutters, positively mulish, “Some of them are just particularly high up, is all. Now if you’d just let me go up this tree, we can go back inside and enjoy some air conditioning .”
“I don’t get why you’re being stubborn about this,” she huffs, resisting the urge to jab her finger against his bare chest, “just admit that you need the ladder already, and stop working against your stature-”
He draws back, horrified, “My stature ?”
“Yeah, well. You’re not that much taller than me, you’re just broader that’s all.” She waves a hand over his frame, nails accidentally grazing the flat, hard muscles of her stomach and making her flush, “You’re pretty wide, actually.”
“Clarke,” He says, with exaggerated slowness, “are you calling me fat ?”
She stares, a little bewildered, “That’s not what I meant! I just meant-- oh god, you can’t be upset right now.”
Bellamy huffs, crossing his arms over his chest. “I’m not. Just get up on my shoulders already. You can reach for the remaining apples then we’ll be done with this charade.”
He’s actually pouting . She has to purse her lips together to keep from laughing.
She clambers onto his shoulders with relative ease, and his hands are firm against her knees when he hoists her up. His hair is softer than she imagined it would be, tickling the inside of her thighs and she has to remind herself that running her fingers through it would probably be a bad idea.
“Hurry up.” he grouses, and she delivers a swift kick to his ribs, grinning when he grunts and flicks at her ankles.
(Clarke likes that he can be affectionate with her now, comfortable with small, easy touches and sharing her space. It’s nice .)
Twisting to the right just a little, she rises up to grab at the last apple, her fingers grazing the coarse branches--
The world begins to tilt, and she realises, belatedly, that she’s falling. There’s a moment of sheer and total terror before impact, air whooshing out of her lungs, vision blurry and head pounding .
“Fuck,” Bellamy groans, and it takes her a second to re-orientate herself, to realise that he tried to break her fall and she’s sort of sprawled on top of him, “I just-- ugh, fuck.”
She meets his eye, and suddenly they’re both laughing, the unrestrained kind that pulls at your gut--
Then, as abruptly as it started, it stops.
“Holy shit,” she breathes, reaching up with trembling fingers to graze his teeth. He shrinks away from her, uncomfortable, and she lets her hand drop back to her side.
Well, no wonder he never used to laugh.
Clarke had always thought that they were just normal canines, never having seen them up close, but these were unreal. Sharp, elongated, wolf-like . It all makes sense now, the scars, the teeth, the tattoo. Everything.
She had heard rumors before, about the Queen’s army- her genetically modified wolf soldiers, bred for war- how they took them from their beds when they were young as six. Her stomach churns at the thought of a young Bellamy, all messy hair and bright smiles, forcibly taken--
“Anything else I should know about?” she asks, soft, and she can feel the bob of his throat under her fingers when she grazes his lips again, “A tail, perhaps?”
“You wish.” Bellamy says, dry, but she can practically feel the unease radiating off him, like he’s going to buck her off any second and make a run for it, “Clarke.”
“Present.” she sighs, sinking back down and resting her chin against his chest.
“I should have-- I should have been honest.” He worries his lip with his teeth, and she winces at the thought of it puncturing the delicate skin of it, pushing his lip back up with his teeth until he stops. “I needed a job, and there wasn’t a lot of options for me.”
Then, so quiet she almost misses it, “I didn’t want you to hate me.”
Clarke drops her hand back down to his cheek, rubbing her thumb over the juncture of his jaw absentmindedly, “You’re not going to try and eat me, are you?”
He physically recoils from her, looking sickened, “ No .”
“There you go,” she shrugs, “now stop being such a drama queen. We still have some chickens to feed.”
He gapes, incredulous, even after she gets to her feet and pulls him up along too.
“Should I be concerned about how nonchalant you’re being?” he asks, drawing up next to her, jaw working and the crease between his brows deepening, stupidly worried. It makes her feel even more strangely fond of him.
“I don’t know,” she sighs, “are you going to start shedding?”
“I’m not-- I don’t shed, Clarke.”
She grins, takes a bite from one of the apples before tossing it over to him, “Then we’re not going to have problems now, are we?”
It’s pretty ironic that Bellamy’s a werewolf actually, considering how much he likes to bask in the sun like a overgrown house cat.
“Think fast.” she calls out, pegging him in the cheek with a tomato.
Bellamy groans, pulls himself up on his elbows so he can stare at her scornfully before she plops down next to him.
“For the last time,” he grumbles, “I said I don’t have super speed.”
“You’re a sham.” Clarke tells him, bumping her leg against his until he gets the hint and lies back down again, pulling her close so she can rest her head against the groove of his shoulder.
It’s quiet for a while, and Bellamy starts playing idly with the ends of her hair, humming tunelessly under his breath. She yawns, lets herself be lulled by the sound of his voice, the even rise of his chest. There’s never been a need to fill up the silences with mindless chatter- not with him anyway- and it’s easy, comfortable. He doesn’t even wake her up when she falls asleep mid-conversation. Clarke always wake up in her own bed after anyway, skin still warm from the sun and grass stuck to the back of her thighs.
“Okay, so super senses.” she mumbles, “How does that one work for you?”
“Your last order of the day was carbonara.” he goes, absentminded, and he has his face tilted up to the sun again when she turns over to look at him, “Also, you guys switched out your usual brand of floor wax.”
“So that’s enhanced sense of smell. What else?”
“Uh, I can shoot lasers from my eyes and fly too, so.”
“Oh yeah,” He laughs, wiggling his hands by her face, showing off long, calloused fingers and stubby nails, “So conducive for working on a farm. Seriously though, it’s mostly just enhanced hearing and sight, too.”
“God, how are the animals even afraid of you?” she teases, rapping her knuckles against his sternum, “You don’t even have claws.”
He tenses beneath her, his lips curling upwards in the approximation of a smile, more of a grimace than anything, “Well they can sense it. They know what I am.”
“ Bellamy .”
“Clarke. I’ve killed people under orders.” He sounds weary, as if going through the steps to an argument that he has had with himself a countless number of times, “All I do is hurt people. I am a monster.”
“Hey,” She grabs onto his chin to keep him from looking away, the churning of her stomach settling into determination, hard and sharp and cold, “you can’t-- you shouldn’t beat yourself up for all the mistakes you made before, okay? It’s done, you can’t change that.”
Bellamy’s shaking now, but at least he’s looking at her. She swallows, releasing his chin from her grasp, “And if it’s forgiveness that you’re looking for, fine. I’ll give that to you.”
(He never looked at her like this before- like she was a revelation and a solution all at once, and she can’t help but think about salvation, too, and how this must be what it feels like.)
His hands go back to her hair, still trembling slightly, but it relaxes her enough to settle back against his chest.
“Just go to sleep,” he says, after a beat, “I’ll take care of you.”
She already has her eyes closed, but she tells him anyway, “I know.”
Raven never likes to make things easy for her, so of course she’s the one who brings up Bellamy.
“I didn’t know it was bring-your-boyfriend to work day,” she remarks, amused, and Clarke shoots her the dirtiest look she can muster under the circumstances. (It’s a little hard to concentrate when Bellamy’s sitting right there, ears pink but clearly pleased by this, if the smirk playing on his lips is any indication.)
“He has some errands to run.” Clarke mutters, casting him a look of deep suspicion when he glances over, lips still twitching by the corners. (Enhanced hearing is a real pain at times.) She turns up the heat of the stove defiantly, starts frying up some mushrooms until he loses interest and goes back to his food.
Raven sidles up to her when she gets the dough sheeter going, dropping her chin against Clarke’s shoulder, loose strands from her ponytail tickling her ear, “You know he’s never going to make the first move, right?”
“You’re way more concerned about my love life than I am,” she huffs, shoving a flattened piece of dough back into the machine and studiously ignoring Raven’s knowing gaze, “it’s not-- it’s not what you think it is.”
“It’s exactly what I think it is,” Raven insists, “do you have any idea how nauseating you both are around each other? The guy looks at you like you hung the moon, Clarke.”
“That’s not entirely my point.” She frowns, kneading the dough between her fingertips.
It’s not-- it’s hard to put into words how she feels about him. She knows she loves him- constant and unwavering, a tide coming back to the shore- but it never felt like it was imperative to share those feelings with him. It didn’t matter anyhow. Nothing he could say or do would ever change how she felt when it came to him.
Clarke knew, more than anything really, that love could be a fickle and fleeting thing, a wisp of a cloud drifting across the sky. But what she felt for Bellamy was mountains, a steady, rising thing that held through hurricanes. It wasn’t going anywhere soon.
“I’m not trying to push you into something you’re not ready for,” Raven tells her, soft, “I just don’t think you realise how happy you both could be, together.”
Instinctively, she turns over to him, her eyes catching on the freckles dotting his face, mingling with the scars and forming constellations, the curve of his mouth pulling up to reveal that shy, familiar smile.
And he must have sensed her, because he lifts his head and looks right back too, smile widening and showing a quick flash of teeth, their little secret.
She turns back to Raven, takes her hand so she can squeeze it between hers, “We’re good, as it is.”
Wells appears on TV all of the time- being the emperor’s advisor means constantly looming in the background while he gives speeches and holds press conferences- but Clarke still gets a kick out of it every time.
“What the hell are you even trying to do?” Bellamy asks, baffled, when she starts wrestling with the ancient tape recorder.
“What do you think?” she grunts, wiping the dusty cassette tape against the material of her jeans before shoving it into the recorder with her elbow, “I’m trying to get this on tape.”
He tilts his head, confused, “Do you record all of Well’s public appearances?”
“Only the ones where his tie clashes with his jacket.” she tells him, falling back against the cushions. He settles down next to her, grumbling half-heartedly when she throws her feet onto his lap.
Clarke’s not even sure what this entire press conference is supposed to be about- there’s some talk about the plague that struck the eastern commonwealth years back- but it’s mostly just Wells fielding questions about the emperor’s love life while he looks on, appearing distinctly harassed. She really can’t wait to make fun of him about this later.
“He’s a good guy,” Bellamy goes when Wells escorts the emperor away in a flurry of camera flashes, then, almost absentmindedly, “he loves you, you know.”
“Yeah, well. He’s my best friend.” she replies, wrangling the remote off the couch with her toes, “It’s pretty much mandatory.”
He sighs, “That’s not what I meant, Clarke.”
She rolls her eyes, nudges at his thigh with her ankle, “I know what you meant. And I’m telling you that Wells and I are purely platonic.”
Bellamy shrugs, feigning nonchalance even though she can feel his knee start to bounce underneath the weight of her legs, a nervous tic he never seemed to be able to conceal, “Can I ask why?”
“Oh, that’s easy.” she muses, straightening, “You see, Wells has had a big crush on Raven ever since I introduced them. And I’m in love with you, so.”
He stills, a strangled noise leaving his throat, “You’re in love with me ?”
“Stupidly.” Clarke agrees, and she can’t help but feel a little proud at the even tone of her voice despite the hammering of her pulse, “I would close your mouth, if I were you. There are house flies in these parts.”
“I can’t--” He swallows, but there’s a smile working up on his face, “I thought it was just me.”
She grins back, surges forward to give him a quick peck on his lips. He inhales sharply at that, holds his breath, and she can feel it fan against her cheek when she pulls away half a second later.
“I love you too,” he tells her, resting his forehead against hers, nuzzling her cheek until she falls onto her back, giggling as he rains sloppy kisses on the bridge of her nose, the curve of her jaw, before finally making his way back to her mouth.
“Raven told me you’d never make the first move.” She laughs, and he ducks down to kiss her again, stealing her breath and making her gasp against his mouth.
“It wouldn’t have made a difference, anyway.” he declares, stubborn, fingers tracing the jut of her cheekbone like he can’t help but touch her in any way he can, “It wouldn’t have changed how I felt about you.”
“But we could have been doing this so much sooner .” she groans, tangling her fingers in his hair, trying to lift herself up to reach his mouth but getting his nose instead. He sputters at that, pushing her back against the pillows so he can kiss her breathless, languid and thorough, exploring.
“I’ll make it up to you.” He promises, peering down at her.
She slides her hands down to the sides of his neck, links her fingers together to hold him close, “I’m counting on it.”
Bellamy likes to tell her stories right when they’re both on the precipice of sleep, eyelids heavy and tongues clumsy against teeth.
They’re good stories, sometimes. Stories about his childhood, about feeling sand between his toes for the first time and his mother’s palm against his forehead, pushing sweaty strands off his face. But there are the nightmares, too. The taste of blood between teeth, needles breaking through skin, the unborn sibling he never got to meet before they took him away.
“The worst part of it was how dark it was,” he murmurs, drowsy, as Clarke snuggles up further into his chest, breathing him in. “They kept us underground so I hardly ever got to see the sun.”
She presses her mouth against the groove of his collarbone, waits.
“I would play a game,” he continues, soft, “every time I caught a glimpse of it. Let myself dream up something impossible. Hearing my mother’s voice again. Have someone hold me.”
His grip on her tightens at that, and she ghosts her fingers against his neck, rubs soothing circles against his jugular until he relaxes.
“When it was all over, I went to the sunniest place I could find.” The words come out slurred and heavy, thick with sleep, “Earned some money through street fights, lived off rats. I was surviving, but it still felt like I was in the dark, somehow.”
He presses a kiss against her hair, breaths evening out and growing slower.
“Then I went to town one day and I saw a girl.” His laugh is a deep, even rumble, the muted rolling of thunder before a storm, “And she had the sun in her hair.”
“You never told me this before,” she mumbles, pushing at his shoulder lightly.
She senses the smile rather than sees it, the stretch of his jaw brushing against her hair.
“Never said I was talking about you,” Bellamy teases lowly, his fingers drumming a beat against her hipbone before continuing, “but I saw her and I thought, maybe I would stay a little longer here, too.”
“You go where the sun goes,” she whispers, his pulse a steady beat under her ear and his leg thrown over hers, anchoring her.
“I go wherever you are.” he tells her, fingers finding hers right before she closes her eyes.