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Balancing Act

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Bellamy wakes to the feeling of Clarke’s nose drifting along his collarbone. It’s not an uncommon occurrence; his wife is usually grumpy first thing in the morning, slow to wake, but it’s also when she’s at her most tactile. It’s like she just wants to sink into him and the bed and anything else around her.

“Morning,” he says on a long exhale. His voice isn’t really working yet. He wraps his arm further around her so he can roll onto his back without pulling away. She slings a leg between his as he brushes hair off her face. He knows she hates the itch.

“I think we need some ground rules,” she says, her lips brushing against his skin as she forms words with supreme effort.

“Don’t we already have ground rules?”

“No,” she groans. “Like– work.”

Bellamy traces her spine with his fingers and she loosens impossibly further, practically melting into him.

She’s talking about her dad’s company. Her company, now. The one she inherited when he passed away, the one where Bellamy has worked since he graduated high school. They both care about it a lot, they’re both concerned with making sure they do what’s best for their marriage and the business.

But having that as an abstract goal, as a mindset, is different than having a strategic plan. And Clarke is nothing if not a planner.

“That’s probably a good idea,” he murmurs. “You have anything in mind?”

“Separation.” He freezes, sure he misunderstood. She was grunting. He could have heard her wrong. Surely she’s not suggesting– “No, no,” she continues hastily, nuzzling his chest and rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. “Not– I meant– Keeping work and home life separate. Church and state. I’m not leaving you.”

“I didn’t really think you would,” he admits, his heart squeezing painfully as it starts to beat again. It stopped there, for a second. “But you can’t spring a misspeak like that on me this early in the morning.”

She leans up to kiss him, lazy and thorough.

“Noted.”

"Can't do this at work," he tells her, pulling her further on top of him.

She opens her eyes for the first time and gazes down at him fondly.

"Then we should make good use of this time."

It seems like a good policy, to keep work stuff at work, and home stuff at home, until Clarke sends an email about policies that will be changing while they’re rebuilding their staff– responsibilities that will be shifted so nothing that falls in the cracks, priorities that will be altered so that they can make it through the fiscal quarter. Bellamy doesn’t agree with all of it, and as soon as he reads it he heads straight to her office to argue with her over it.

He gets through a fair amount of his ranting before he actually takes in the office around them and remembers that it’s not just his wife sitting behind that desk, looking like she does when he takes it upon himself to clean up her messes and then she can’t find anything, but his boss, now. She’s sitting behind the desk that used to be Jake’s, in the office that used to be Jake’s, and the realization takes the fight out of him.

“Church and state,” he sighs, slumping down in the chair. She purses her lips and stands to shut the office door. He’s certain most of what’s left of the staff heard him yelling. They probably think it’s ballsy of him to pick a fight with the new boss on the first day, but sometimes that’s just how he and Clarke communicate. It doesn’t threaten the way they feel about each other, and it doesn’t leave them on opposite sides, it's– marriage. It's making sure whatever side they end up on together is the right one.

“So that happened,” she says lightly. He’s almost certain she’s kicking her heels off under the desk.

“Sorry. This is gonna take some getting used to.”

“For both of us.” She twirls her wedding band like she always does when they’re having a Serious Discussion. He wants to lean across the desk and take her hand, but that’s not leaving home at home. He’s already crossed enough lines today. “You’re my partner, Bell. We’re equals. I’m not any more prepared to be your boss than you are to be my employee.”

“So… We keep trying, right? And if we don’t get the hang of it…” He runs a hand through his hair. He hates to suggest this, but it’s the option that makes the most sense. “If we can’t figure it out, I find another job.”

Clarke frowns. She knows how much he loves this job, how much he believes in all her dad’s ideals that shaped it. He owes everything to this company: the roof over his head, Octavia’s degree, his marriage. They hired an eighteen-year-old with no experience and few options and he can't forget it. Not to mention the fact that he met Clarke when she stopped by to visit her dad once. He'll never stop being grateful for that.

But he can’t ask Clarke to give up her dad’s business.

“I don’t want it to come to that,” she says softly, and he does reach for her hand now.

“Then let’s make it work.”

She squeezes his hand and withdraws, pulling out her tablet.

“Okay. So– What were your concerns?”

The conversation lasts a good while, and he feels bad for monopolizing her time but he thinks he has good perspective. He thinks he can help. And beyond generally wanting all the good things in the world for his wife, the spiteful part of him also wants to stick it to all the assholes who took one look at her and walked out the door. There are many reasons he wants this to succeed.

“Is that everything?” She asks, after a while. He smiles, exhausted.

“I think so.”

“Good. See? We can totally do this. Before you go though, there’s one more thing I wanted to ask you about.”

He settles back into the chair.

“Shoot.”

“I want you to help me with promotions and hiring.”

Bellamy nods slowly. It makes sense. They’re not a publicly owned company, so it’s not like stock dropped when Jake died, but a lot of their higher-ranking staff members left for greener pastures, and that’s the kind of thing that can cripple a company. Clarke has done her homework, knows what she’s doing with finances, but she doesn’t know the people. He does.

“Officially? Or unofficially?”

She smiles.

“I want you to take over as COO. Before you say no,” she rushes to add, when his jaw drops. “You should know this isn’t nepotism. I want to promote internally and I genuinely think you’re the best person for the job. You’ve been with Griffin Labs longer than most people who are still here. You’re smart. You’re not afraid to disagree with me– don’t make that face, Bell. You’d be the same way even if I wasn’t your wife.” His mouth snaps shut. She’s got him there. “I can trust you with my dad’s vision,” she adds.

“It’s going to look bad.”

She leans back and clasps her hands in her lap.

“Who would you pick instead?” It’s not a challenge, it’s a genuine question. If there’s someone better, she wants to know, and she trusts him to tell her. That’s why she wants to give him this job.

“Kane?” He suggests.

“I’m asking him to step up as CFO. He has the business degrees you and I lack.”

“This might make it harder to find our balance,” he warns her. Which they both know is an acceptance of her offer.

“Maybe,” she says simply, standing and slipping back into her shoes. “But when have we ever done things the easy way?”

 

It isn't easy. More than once they violate their ground rules by discussing work over dinner, or forgetting they shouldn't go in for a kiss when they end a meeting. But after a while they manage to find their footing, settle into roles and routines that Bellamy thinks are sustainable. Even good.

But Bellamy knows he’s transparent when it comes to how he feels about his wife. Even if he couldn’t feel the expressions on his face, Miller and Octavia tease him about it all the time. He tries to rein it in around their coworkers, trying to maintain that separation, trying to ensure that others know he deserves this job and didn’t get it because he’s married to the boss.

He’s more focused on coming off as professional than keeping the nature of his relationship with Clarke a secret, so he’s completely blindsided when Raven doesn’t realize they’re married.

For over a year.

It’s even more confusing because– well, he is so obvious. Raven notices his feelings, the attraction, the love that’s there, but somehow decides he’s cheating on Clarke. With Clarke. He’s not sure where her train of thought went so far off the tracks.

He stops by Clarke’s office after he and Raven finish their meeting, and when she sees him she starts laughing again reflexively.

He closes the door behind him and locks it behind him, coming behind her desk and spinning her chair around to face him. She grins up at him, humor dancing in her eyes as she loops her arms around his neck.

“How’d things go after I left?”

“All business,” he assures her as she nips at his upper lip. “Raven has never wanted to talk much about personal stuff, so it could have been worse. Although, I guess I see now why she was so reluctant…”

"I wonder if anyone else has theories about the two of us we didn't know we needed to address."

"I wouldn't put it past Jasper." He shakes his head. "It doesn't matter. We'll cross those bridges when we come to them."

She threads her fingers through his hair and pulls him close for a longer kiss.

“I could get used to this.”

“Probably shouldn’t,” he says, even as he trails his lips down her neck. She pushes out of the chair and rolls it out of the way, letting him crowd her against her desk until she’s perched on it and he’s standing between her legs.

“This is definitely breaking our ground rules,” she agrees, breathlessly toying with the buttons on his shirt. “You care?”

“We’ve already been caught. The whole day’s probably a wash.”

“Plus I’m pretty into this,” she gasps.

“That too,” he laughs, biting gently at her shoulder. “It’s all about balance.”

"Right," she grins, nudging him until his lips find hers again. "Balance."