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It all starts out innocent enough. 

Clarke has been delving deep into the literature on Greco-Roman art for her Master’s thesis, and there are only so many articles she can read before she needs the books. She’s been waiting as long as she could, hoping whoever has them checked out until July will just – return them. Of their own volition. Because they’ll somehow know that she needs them.

But it’s February, she’s supposed to defend her thesis in May, and she needs them now. Not even now. She needs them yesterday.

“I just feel so badly about recalling them,” she says for the umpteenth time to Raven, who is listening with increasingly less patience. She’s flopped down on their couch, head barely out of the pillows and her speech just barely discernable, and Raven would feel badly if she hadn’t been listening to this same diatribe since October.

When Raven doesn’t respond, Clarke pulls herself upright and looks over at Raven. They’ve been roommates since college, and if anyone knows about Clarke’s ridiculous disinclination to slight someone over library books, it’s Raven.

And this is why Raven is looking at her, unimpressed, her arms crossed over her chest. 

“Normally you’ve said something by now,” Clarke observes, pulling her hair out of her mouth.

Raven throws her hands up in the air and rolls her eyes. “Seriously, Clarke? You’ve needed the books for months. You don’t know who has them, and you need them. Just recall them, and for pity’s sake, stop moping on the couch about it.”

So, after several days of hand-wringing, that’s exactly what she does. (She really does need the books, okay?)

--

She’s had the books out for all of thirty-six hours when a dark-haired man slaps a stack of papers down on the table where she’s working at the library and she jumps.

When she glances up in indignation, it’s to see a disheveled, bespectacled guy looking down at her in irritation (and if that doesn’t put her back up, nothing will. She despises people who are obviously irritated with her for no reason).

So, she does what she does best: she leans back in her seat, crosses her arms over her chest, and eyes him impassively. “Something I can help you with?” she asks coolly.

“Yeah, you can start by giving me my goddamn books back, princess,” he spits.

Internally, Clarke rolls her eyes and bristles. She drags a finger over the top of the book she’s got open before looking back at the man. “Oh, you mean these books? The ones that are the property of the university? Sorry, I wasn’t aware they were yours,” she says sweetly. “I must have missed the new sign outside announcing that this was the – “ she waits for him to fill in his name.

He grunts. “Bellamy Blake,”

“Ah yes, the Blake library. I wasn’t aware that someone had removed the public label from this library.”

He doesn’t even have the good grace to look abashed, she notices. On the contrary, his irritation seems to be growing, and – well, that’s a new thing. Usually she can shame people into being less rude, at least, but no dice here.

“Yeah, that would be because it’s called the Ark University Griffin Library, which apparently entitles you to recall books from people who need them to complete their doctoral dissertation,” he snarls.

Ahhhh, she thinks. And there’s the rub. Well, she’s never been one to back down on a fight now, has she, and picking fights over her surname is her current favorite thing to deal with of course, so bring it on.

“You know, incidentally, it is still the public library at this university, regardless of the name on the sign,” she says conversationally. She’s trying to avoid taking the bait long enough for him to hang himself, although (and she doesn’t even know who this guy is, just that he’s pissed, and very attractive when he’s pissed, and what, she noticed it absentmindedly, okay) she’s not sure that he’s dumb enough to do that.

He snorts. “Of course that’s your response. Listen, people like you always feel like they’re entitled to whatever they want, but I’m working my fucking ass off, and I need those books back.”

She raises an eyebrow at him. “Do you seriously think that I recalled the books just to spite you? I don’t even know you.”

“Listen, I don’t care what you did or didn’t do, return the goddamn books.”

And with that, he stalks off. Clarke’s not so irritated or rattled that she doesn’t notice the tense set of his shoulders in his well-fitting shirt, and yeah, okay, being turned on by arguing with total strangers is weird, sure, but it’s not the weirdest thing, and the dude is going to bat really hard for books on Greco-Roman history, so that’s the sort of thing that works for her.

(As soon as that thought passes through her head, she drops her head to her hands, debates whether banging her head against the table will erase that thought from her head or just kill her brain cells, which she sort of desperately needs right now).

--

Long story short, she doesn’t return the books.

Whatever Bellamy Blake might think, she didn’t check the books out just for spite; cool, he needs them for his dissertation, but she needs them for her Master’s thesis, and he had them out for months. He can ILL them if he really needs them back.

That, however, is precisely what does not happen. Instead of him ILLing the books like a sensible person, he recalls them.

It’s this piece of inanity that sends Clarke back to being facedown on the couch, and irritating Raven even more.

“You know people fart where your face is, right?” She asks.

Clarke lifts up her head, brushes the hair out of her mouth. “Seriously, that’s what you’re going with? How old are you?”

“Five,” Raven answers. “So what’s the problem now?”

“So I finally recalled the books, right?” Clarke asks. Raven nods, waiting for the other shoe to drop. “And the guy confronted me in the library. And I didn’t turn the books back in, because he can fucking ILL them at this point for all I care. But no, because apparently he’s not a responsible adult, so he recalled the books this time. I’ve had them for less than a month!”

Raven rolls her eyes. “Did you get the guy’s name?”

“Yeah,” Clarke says. “And somehow he knew my name, although it doesn’t show who the books are checked out to.”

“Clarke, I don’t care that he knew your name, what’s his name?”

“Bellamy Blake, I think,” she says, as if she hasn’t been stewing on it for a week.

Raven starts laughing, starts slapping at her knee when she can’t stop. “Oh my god, he would start a library fight over books, that nerd.”

Clarke can feel her eyebrows shoot up. “Wait, you know him? Can you talk him out of stealing my books?”

“Oh, Clarke, no.” Raven says, pulling herself together. “No. I slept with Bellamy once, and let me tell you: that is one grouchy, persnickety man. If he wants the books back, he’s going to get them back.”

Clarke groans.

--

So she turns them back in. And as soon as she sees that they’re checked out again, she recalls them.

And then she has them for a day (and you bet your britches she spends that entire twenty-four hour period taking notes as fast as she can) before Bellamy recalls them.

It goes on that way for several days before the guy at the checkout counter finally stops her when she’s checking them out again.

“Listen, I don’t know what’s going on here, but can you stop recalling his books?”

Clarke meets his gaze, surprised. “I’m sorry, what?”

The guy scratches at his scruff, rolls his eyes. “Bellamy. Can you stop recalling his books? He’s too much of a dick to ask, but he really needs the books for his dissertation. So whatever game you’re playing, can you stop?"

Clarke smiles sweetly at him. “Let me guess, you gave him my name?”

The guy has the decency to look chagrined, and Clarke wants to soften toward him, but if anything is ridiculous, it’s this situation, and she is going to win.

“That was so nice of you, wasn’t it, putting me in a stupidly awkward situation and making someone hate me for my last name. I sure can’t thank you enough,” she says, sarcasm dripping from every word. “And since you’re such good friends with Bellamy, perhaps you can relay some information to him for me.”

The guy looks at her, and to her surprise he nods. She drops the condescension from her voice at his acquiescence, says, “Funnily enough, he’s not the only one with a major deadline who needs these books. I would totally respect him needing these books for his dissertation, but I’m not using them for some in-class project, either. I need access to the images for my Master’s thesis. So if he could stop recalling them, that would be terrific, since I waited all of fall semester for him to be done with them. Got all that?” She asks, aiming for politeness.

He nods, and she snatches the books off the counter to go to her usual spot.

--

The books aren’t recalled within the usual twenty-four hours, and Clarke is cautiously optimistic that her tirade (through the front desk guy, jesus she’s an asshole) got through to Bellamy. She’s sitting in her usual spot late at night, strands of her hair falling out of her bun around her face from tugging at her hair in boredom, and she’s wearing the most oversized pair of sweats she could find. In short, she’s a mess.

When someone sets a coffee cup in front of her face, she looks up expecting to see Raven or Wells, coming to check on her; instead, she looks into Bellamy’s eyes, and she freezes. She looks between him and the coffee, noting the coffee he has in his left hand, then looks back to her coffee. She turns it toward herself, and yup, that is her usual order. 

“Is this actually safe to drink?” she asks him.

He snorts. “I guess that’s a fair question. It’s safe, I promise. I asked Raven what you like when she put me through the wringer for delaying your progress on your thesis.”

Clarke relaxes a little against the back of the chair before bringing the coffee to her lips. It’s exactly what she likes, and she can tell from the handwriting that it’s from her favorite coffee shop. She sips at it while she watches Bellamy over the lip of the cup. He’s turned one of the books toward him, flipping through her tabs to see what she’s looking at.

“So, Greco-Roman art, huh?” he asks.

“Did you actually talk to the front desk guy?” she replies.

“Miller?” he asks, surprised. “Yeah, he’s my roommate, why?”

She can feel herself flushing now, pink reaching toward her hairline. “I – um, I might have put him through the wringer for giving you my name and getting in the middle the other day.”

Bellamy laughs at that, and she can see the tendons in his neck when he tosses his head back. “Yeah, he told me about that. Mentioned something about us both being assholes, so we should talk to each other instead of through mediators.”

“Yeah, that’s probably fair,” Clarke answers ruefully.

He looks at her then, and yeah – he’s handsome, freckles scattered across his face, and dark, expressive eyes. He’s looking at her, too, and even thought it’s past midnight, she really wishes she looks – well, less undead might be a bit much to hope for, and she feels silly for thinking it but she wishes she’d at least washed her hair today.

He offers her a small smile. “Listen, I’m not the best at apologies, but I was a real dick to you the first time we talked. I’m not going to recall the books again, but I was thinking that, since we both need the books, and we must be working on similar topics, maybe we could share? I’ll give you the spare key to my locker upstairs, and we can just put them there whenever they’re not in use.”

Clarke glances at him. “I think that sounds reasonable,” she says. “I’m sure Miller would appreciate it if we stopped making work for him.”

Bellamy snorts. “Yeah, probably. He can go back to mooning over Monty, instead.”

Clarke laughs, delighted. “He likes Monty? I’ll start dragging him here more often.”

Bellamy smiles at that. “All right, well if that’s all settled, here’s the key. I’m heading out for the night, but good luck on your work.” 

Clarke glances down. “Thanks, Bellamy. And thanks for the coffee,” she says, tilting it in his direction.

“Yeah. Don’t stay too late,” he says, turning away.

Clarke feels a spark of surprise at that; he’s not exactly a stranger, but it’s nice for him to say, even if she barely knows him.

--

If Clarke barely knew Bellamy in February, by March, she’s intimately acquainted with him, or at least with his study habits. If she can’t find one of the books she needs in their locker, he’s always in one of the carrels by the south windows, soaking up any sunshine that creeps through the grey of spring.

If she gets there first, he’ll join her at her table near the north windows, often plunking down a coffee in front of her face. He’s found her more than once resting her head on one of the books and napping, and she imagines that he’s fairly familiar with her face when it’s covered in wrinkles from the pages of books.

When he works, he color-codes his notes with highlighters. He’s diligent about taking notes and keeping track of them, not putting so much as a sticky note in the book he’s working with. Clarke’s work, meanwhile, is a constant and frantic scramble between her computer, the images she’s flagged with fluorescent tabs, and the various pages of notes she’s taken in her messy scrawl. She knows that, on more than one occasion, Bellamy has looked over at her process half in disdain and half in alarm.

Still, sharing the books is working out well for them, and as they creep toward mid-April, she finds that they’re spending more and more time together. They’ll slip out of the library to get a sandwich for dinner at his favorite restaurant in town, and she’ll bring him the muffins she baked over the weekend to go with the coffee he brings.

She doesn’t talk to Raven about it anymore, because the drama has taken a decidedly different and more internal turn; she thinks it’s weird to have feelings for someone Raven slept with, however briefly, because she’s been there and done that, but. It’s Bellamy, and he’s sort of become her person, however reluctant she was to admit him into her life.

It’s one night at the end of April that she’s daydreaming more than working (she only has to tweak the conclusion, at this point. She doesn’t even need the books, doesn’t need to keep working with Bellamy close by, but even once neither of them needed the books anymore, they kept them checked out and tucked away in the locker, just in case, and they haven’t stopped working together now that they’ve formed the habit) that she looks over to see Bellamy, head tilted down as he types away, messy curls spilling over his forehead and getting trapped under his glasses, and yeah, she’s been attracted to him for a while, even since they first met, but the level of genuine fondness she feels toward him goes beyond that.

And it’s not just fondness. It’s a restless itch, creeping just under her skin. It’s a desire to reach out and touch, to straighten out his hair, to lick at the column of his throat (and these are thoughts that are decidedly not conducive to getting work done, but she’s been waiting for a long time now, and he’s right there, dark circles under his eyes, so he clearly needs to take a break).

Still, she goes back to work until he straightens out his spine, his shirt riding up, and she looks back over at him, watching from underneath her eyelashes.

He’s not fooled. “I see you watching, Clarke,” he teases.

Clarke shuts her book and looks up at him. “What if I was?” she asks, direct.

His mouth snaps shut so hard that she can hear his teeth clack together, and she watches as his pupils widen, heat washing over his eyes.

She grins at him, not aiming for coy or indirect; she wants him, and she’s not ashamed for him to know. She slides out of her chair and back into the stacks, not looking to see if he’s following her; she saw the look on his face. He’s definitely following her.

When she ducks down a row of books, he catches up to her, his hands gripping her waist and pressing her into the bookshelves. His mouth is on hers in an instant, hot and demanding, lips moving over hers, and when she groans into his mouth, he traces his tongue along hers, and fuck, she really didn’t know just how much she wanted this until it started.

He mouths his way along her jaw, down her neck, and when he starts sucking lightly at the juncture between her neck and shoulder, her head drops back against the books and she has to bring her hand to her mouth to silence her cries.

Still, she came back here with a mission, and as much as she likes this, she wants to work him over more. She pulls back, pushing at Bellamy’s shoulders lightly, and when he pulls back, he looks alarmed.

“Everything okay?” he asks, rubbing his thumb along her cheek and brushing her hair out of her face.

“Yeah,” she says, grinning. “I just had other ideas when I brought you back here.”

He raises an eyebrow, then stifles a groan when she drops to her knees and unzips his jeans. She sneaks her hand into his boxers and frees his dick. She runs her hand along his length, feels him twitch under her touch, and she grins, pleased with herself. With a glance up at him (his eyes closed, hand fisted in his hair and his head leaning against the bookshelf), she takes him into her mouth, warm and wet, and his hips jerk forward without him thinking about.

“Fuck, sorry,” he whispers as Clarke strokes the base of his dick. She looks up at him before nudging her head against his hand. His eyes fly open, and Clarke has to let go to grin wickedly up at him.

“Come on, Bellamy, this isn’t my first rodeo. If I say it’s fine, you should go for it,” she says, diving back in.

She can almost feel his groan reverberate through her hands and mouth, and she has to fight back a grin when he makes a loose fist in her hair and guides her as she sucks. When she starts to speed up, she hears him panting above her, gives a vicious twist of her wrist, and he doesn’t even have time to warn her before he’s spilling into her mouth, and she doesn’t get all of it, but she swallows down as much as she can before wiping at her mouth. 

She looks around, and – yeah, she just gave Bellamy Blake head in the library on a Thursday night in the same fucking hideous pair of sweatpants she was wearing the first time she met him (she’ll say this, she appreciates that he never cares what she’s wearing, and has definitely seen her in some of her worst clothing).

“Jesus fuck, Clarke,” he whispers, hauling her up to nose at her chin and get his mouth on hers again. She hums into it, always pleased when people don’t care about tasting themselves on her lips. She’s had a few girlfriends shy away from it, but Bellamy is greedy, tasting himself along her tongue.

He gets a thigh between her legs, gives her something to grind on, and god, the pressure is good, but it’s not what she wants right now. She wants more, more, more, and she doesn’t even know what exactly she wants right now, but when he gets his hands up on her ribcage, she groans in frustration, opens her eyes to see the teasing glint in his, and that’s when she grabs his wrists and puts his hands on her boobs, and when he starts kneading at the flesh, tracing patterns across her nipples, that’s when she feels like crying, like begging, and her hips are working, and finally, finally he gets a hand down her sweatpants, past the boyshorts she’s wearing underneath and starts working her clit, small circles at first, her forehead against his shoulder as she moans, and finally bites down on his skin through his shirt to keep from crying out when his fingers press into her, rubbing up and out of her, and when his thumb starts circling her clit again, she feels like everything is so, so much.

“Come on, Clarke, I want to see you come,” he whispers in her ear, and it should be embarrassing how fast the tension in her body snaps, and she sags against him, unable to catch her breath. His thumb rubs at her ribcage, soothing her as she rides out the aftershocks. When he can feel her settle back into her bones, he removes his hand from her underwear, tucks her sweatpants back into place, and licks at his fingers. She catches his eye when he does that, and she knows she just had an amazing orgasm, but she could go again just on the feeling of watching him lick the taste of her off his hand.

She wraps her hands in his hair and pulls him down so she can kiss him, fast and dirty, just a lingering tang of her on his tongue, and when she pulls back, she grins at him. “So, that beats meditation for relaxation.”

He laughs at her then, presses a kiss against the side of her lips. “You’re something else, Clarke.”

--

The thing is, they don’t stop doing it after that.

It’s not every night, but at least twice a week, they get each other off, late at night, in some nook or cranny of the library. One time, it’s in the gender-neutral bathroom, the one that locks, and as soon as she’s locked the door, he’s boosting her onto the counter, sucking at her breasts, all the way down her stomach until she’s coming hard from grinding against his mouth.

The next time, she gives him a handjob, fast and dirty, after she caught him looking down her low-cut t-shirt (she may have specifically worn it to wind him up, but who’s to say). They’re sitting on the couch behind the DVDs and she spreads her winter jacket out so that if anyone walked by, they could claim they were cold, but jesus christ, it’s a university, everyone would know.

Still, the first time they actually have sex, it’s early in the morning. They’d been working all night, both racing deadlines at the end of April. Bellamy’s defense is in three days, and Clarke’s is in a week. When Clarke starts to nod off over her computer, Bellamy clears up her spot, gathers her things together, and ushers her out to his car. She dozes in the car on the way to his apartment, but when they get there, she looks up and around, surprised.

“Is this okay?” he asks. “You can sleep on the couch if you want, but I figured it was time to get you to a prone surface.”

She looks over at him, then reaches for him and kisses him. “Let’s go,” she says.

She grabs his hand when they’re out of the car, swinging their joined hands between them. It’s not so late that the sun is coming up, but there are the first signs of the lightening sky at the horizon, and it’s frighteningly early, and neither of them has had a good night’s sleep in weeks, if not months.

Still, when they get through the door, Clarke looks around, sees that Miller’s stuff is gone, and gently pushes him up against the door, her lips pressing against his. He opens his mouth to her, picks her up and presses her against the door. She sighs into his mouth at the contact before pulling away and burying her head in the crook of his neck. “This is lovely, but I believe you promised me a bed.”

He grins into her hair, and carries her into his room. He leans all the way over to drop her onto his sheets, and watches her roll around on his bed to get comfortable. He toes his shoes off, pulls his hoodie over his head and leans over to capture her lips again.

It’s slow and heady; he takes off all her clothes slowly, reveling in each new part of her body that he’s maybe touched, but never seen. She’s all creamy skin, heavy breasts weighing in his palms as he sucks a mark into the outside of one of her breasts, her fingers tugging at her other nipple. When he slides back up to her mouth, she tugs at his t-shirt, rolling him under her so she can look at him, no assessment, just admiration in her gaze. It feels like receiving communion, like a sacrament, to touch and be touched like this, and Bellamy’s been with other people that he’s liked, maybe even loved, but here, in this moment – he’s never experienced anything like it. And maybe it’s the exhaustion, or the traces of dawn light filtering through the windows, but as Clarke’s loose hair trails around his face, as he reaches for her, gently pulls her down onto him, he feels overwhelmed, outside his skin with pleasure and joy.

He watches the sway of her breasts as she rocks her hips against his, watches as she tilts herself back, as she sighs when he hits the right spot in her. He bends his knees against her back, supporting her so he can rock into her, and that startles a gasp out of her, and then she is moving with intent, meeting his thrusts and licking her lips as her face twists, her orgasm sweeping over her suddenly, her muscles clenching along his length as she rides it out, and he clenches his teeth to keep from coming before he flips them, and her hips come up to bracket his ribs. He snaps into her, and the sounds from their bodies meeting, the moans coming of Clarke’s mouth – he gets his thumb between them, rubs at her clit, and she’s coming again, and he’s following her, the coil in his spine snapping and his vision blacking out.

When he comes back to his body, Clarke is stroking up and down his spine, smiling up at him fondly, and he nuzzles his nose against her face in the way she likes, feels her eyelashes brush his cheek. She lets him stay on top of her for a while before gently nudging him onto his back so she can pee. She doesn’t put anything on, and he watches the sway of her hips as she walks away, grins when she comes back.

She falls back onto the bed and reaches for his arm, wrapping him around her. He brushes her hair out of the way, and falls asleep to the feeling of her inhales and exhales against his back.

--

When he defends his dissertation, Clarke is sitting at the back. When the audience gets kicked out so his committee can talk it over with him, she gives him a grin and a thumbs up, and it’s almost like she didn’t blow him this morning after his shower.

When she defends a week later, it’s his eyes that she meets when she starts to get nervous. He nods at her, sees her take a deep breath to steady herself.

There’s no major fireworks show when they finally return the books, but Miller takes one look at them and grins, and even Clarke knows how rare that is at this point, and it feels like a victory.